Is Top Kill Working?

Some are already declaring success

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BP's launched its "top kill" plan on Wednesday to attempt to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The plan calls for BP to pump heavy drilling fluids into the top of the well. The strategy's effectiveness and chance at success were hotly debated when the plan was unveiled. But is it already working? Or is it too soon to tell? Reports vary and information is still coming in, but here's what we know now.

  • Coast Guard Admiral Declares Success The Los Angeles Times' Jim Tankersley reports, "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 ... 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."
  • Could Just Be Temporary Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall cautions, "BP is saying it looks good so far but they're not willing to say for sure that that's true. And even if it is it doesn't mean it will stay that way. But it seems there are some reasons for optimism."
  • White House and BP Urge Patience Reuters' Pascal Fletcher and Chris Baltimore report, "The unified command tackling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cannot confirm or deny a Los Angeles Times report that BP's 'top kill' operation to plug its leaking well has succeeded, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. ... BP Managing Director Robert Dudley said earlier on Thursday the procedure was 'moving the way we want it to.' But he told NBC's 'Today Show' it was too early to say whether it had been successful." For what it's worth, "BP shares rose more than five percent in London trading."
  • Chance of Success Increasing The New York Times' Clifford Krauss and John Broder write, "BP warned that success was not guaranteed and that it could fail at any moment. But engineers and geologists following the effort said the likelihood of success grew with each passing hour. Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer for exploration and production, said at a news conference Wednesday evening that it would be a day or more before it was clear whether the top kill had worked. 'It's too early to know if it's going to be successful,' Mr. Suttles said."
  • Could Still Rupture Again Fox News explains, "Additional leaks springing from the top kill solution were a grave risk, said Anil Kulkarni, a mechanical engineering professor at Penn State. 'One scenario is that it may make things worse,' Kulkarni said. 'If it ruptures all over, then it would be even more difficult to close it.' [BP Chief Operating Officer Doug] Suttles said BP had not detected any new leaks as of Wednesday night."
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