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Oil FAIL: On the "top kill" -- Uh, oh....


BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.

The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the problem was not seen as serious. “We’re still quite optimistic,” he said, but cautioned: “It is not assured and its not a done deal yet. All of this will require some time.”

At the Oil Drum:

ROCKMAN: Goose -- I KNOW nothing but I suspect it might not be working. I thought of a way folks could look at the effort in a manner they can more easily visualize. Here goes: there is a fire hydrant open full force. Putting out 7 ppg water at 80 psi at a RATE OF 500 GALLONS PER MINUTE.. Now I want to stop that water from coming up the main by pointing another fire hose at it. Unfortanately I can't connect the hose directly to the hydrant because the threads are messed up (i.e. bad BOP). So all I can do is hold the end of the hose close to the opening of the hydrant. My hose is putting out 500 gallons of 16.5 ppg mud at a pressure of 80 psi. So can I stop the water flowing from the hydrant? Nope...the pressures are the same. At best the two streams hit each other and the total flows out of the gap.

This is the problem I've had with the top kill from the start. I've been on rigs where we've pumped a successful kill pill. But the well was shut in. All we had to do was pump in at a pressure greater that the shut in pressure of the well. The pressured mud would push whatever was in the well downwards. But the BP well isn't shut's flowing. How much force do you need to apply to a river to make it flow upstream? I know folks were holding out for the top kill to work so I didn't want to be too negative. But if they couldn't get a very tight seal on the BOP I couldn't envision how they could get the flow to stop let alone flow backwards down the csg. But as I'v said before I'm not an engineer...just pretend to be sometimes on TOD.

More backtracking from the USCG's Allen. Meanwhile, comedy black gold on Twitter. And I sure hope they got the right leak. If they didn't, that would be bad. Stay tuned.... .

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lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

The elephant behind the mouse - so we've been watching the mouse on our live feeds for 2 days.

It's good to hear from some industry experts that they are ticked that it's taken 37 days for action. I hope I'm wrong in guessing that one month will seem short in the entire span if this disaster - I really, truly want to be wrong in my pessimism this time.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Someone make an apropos Zeno's Paradox joke.