‘Top Kill’ Working, Plugging Oil Leak

UPDATE (5/29): Alas, the initial reports may have been premature.  See “Is ‘Top Kill’ Failing?


While we’re not out of the woods yet, it certainly looks like BP’s “top kill” effort is going to do the trick, as David Summers predicted it would on last night’s OTB Radio.

Jim Tankersley for LAT:

Engineers have stopped the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government’s top oil-spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting.

Once engineers had reduced the well pressure to zero, they were to begin pumping cement into the hole to entomb the well. To help in that effort, he said, engineers also were pumping some debris into the blowout preventer at the top of the well.

Bruce Nolan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune adds:

An attempt to kill the runaway deepwater horizon well spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico is going according to plan so far, leaving the coast guard admiral in charge of managing the spill “cautiously optimistic” but unwilling to say the well is capped.

Admiral Thad Allen said gas and oil is no longer blowing out of the wrecked well on the sea floor as BP engineers and contractors pumped thousands of gallons of heavy mud down the well hole overnight Wednesday and early Thursday.

The aim is to plug the well with mud and cement it closed.

Reports from BP indicate pressures in the well are dropping — a sign that the weight of the mud is pressing down on the upward thrust of gas and oil, Allen said.

“Right now, no news is good news,” said Allen. “We’re in a period of wait and see. We want to see how the well is stabilizing.”

For an illustrated discussion of what’s happening, see Summers’ Oil Drum post “Deepwater Oil Spill – A Comparison of Flows, A Little Optimism, and a Live Comment Thread.”

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wayne says:

    It looks like there is still a little flow. They didn’t have a second boat of mud on hand and it is not done until it is done. However it is looking good and hopefully this will solve that part.

  2. Obio says:

    Good lord man, where is your journalistic integrity? “It looks like it’s going to do the trick”?


    I’m embarrassed for you.