BP's latest attempt to plug the Gulf oil leak is now more than 24 hours old, and initial assessments look promising. While we're by no means out of the woods yet, government and BP officials are cautiously optimistic that the so-called top kill is succeeding to stem the flow of oil from the busted riser into the Gulf of Mexico.
Perhaps most optimistic is U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's top man on the job, who this morning told the L.A. Times that the efforts to reduce the well pressure to zero appeared to be working. The drilling mud being pumped into the riser by ships on the surface has apparently reduced the well pressure significantly, though the pressure is still persisting.
Another senior technician working the top kill said initial data coming back from the well has triggered a sense of general optimism among engineers on the scene, as it appears the drilling mud is indeed beginning to accrue within the well and slow the flow of oil and gas. Moreover, the well is holding together, allaying the chief concern that the damaged riser might rupture again under the pressure.
If engineers can get the pressure down to zero, they should be able to begin pumping cement into the hole, capping the well and stopping the leak.
Of course, even if the well is capped there's still the issue of the quarter million barrels of oil that have already leaked from the ocean floor. Or is it half a million? Experts trying to pinpoint just how much oil is loose in Gulf waters have been studying video of the gushing oil plumes in an attempt to revise BP's initial estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. Their analysis, released this morning, says we're likely looking at more like 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day, which means that as of May 17 some 260,000 to 540,000 barrels of crude had flowed into the ocean. That means at minimum, this disaster surpassed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster a full ten days ago.
You can watch the live feed of the ongoing top kill via our prior coverage here.
why can't an oil rig drill into the existing hole and bring the oil to the surface safely.
I may be incorrect but I believe this was addressed in another article at a different site (cnn/gizmodo/wired). Apparently BP WILL be drilling into this hole again even if the top kill method works. But mentioned that it still would take months for a new rig to be setup/installed.
The issue is the pressure isn't it? When they drill they do not get positive pressure until they hit oil, I thought.
BP is the biggest FAIL ever.... you have hundreds upon hundreds of people who whould have fixed this days ago cheaper better some even with thier own expense why? because they A. dont want to waste the oil AND B. dont want to destroy the ecosystem i mean come on how hard can it be?
As i understand it they CAN redrill into this well but you CAN't do it with oil gushing out. There has to be relativley low pressure when the new pipes are installed. Thats what the original rig was doing when the explosion happened. They were sealing off the hole so it could be re-opened later. However, usually you would leave the drilling mud in the well so that it holds the pressure down. then the pumping rig would come in, pump out the mud, and begin to pump oil. BP wanted to skip that step and they thought the well was stable enough so they made the transocean rig pump the drilling mud out and replace it with seawater. Thats when the methane bubble came up and through the blowout preventor causing the explosion which caused the whole disaster. Also, before they could start pumping again they will need a new blowout preventor since this one is now busted. Long story short, had BP not tried to cut corners and left the mud there in the first place we wouldn't have to be going back now to pump it back in.
Why cant the US navy step in and pack a few well placed high explosive bombs and blow the crap out of this mess and collapse the well in on its self?????
That is the absolute WORST possible idea! The well would not end up collapsing in on itself and plug the hole at all. The oil would continue to leak out through the millions of cracks and debris the explosion made. Your idea would only make the situation 1000x worse than it is already.
Now that that stupid Idea finally failed. We can finally get to work on a plan that will work. I personally dont know how any of the previous efforts could have been considered seriously by any engineer. Cutting the broken pipe and capping it is actually a viable solution, and I kind of think it could have been stopped sooner, but it would have been at the peril of the well. BP seems to have been doing these other things simply to keep the media off their backs while they get ready to cap the well in a way that will allow them to retrieve the oil and pump up their profits.