BP’s ‘top kill’ solution, which involves pumping cement into the leaking Macondo well, will be executed Wednesday, and the results should be clear by Wednesday evening according to BP’s chief operating office Doug Suttles.Let’s hope it works, but nothing is certain at 5,000 feet below the sea.
One potential risk is that preparatory ‘drilling mud’, which would be injected ahead of the cement, could fail. Which would force the company to use a ‘junk shot’:
He said the biggest risk is the possibility that the drilling mud would be forced from the wellhead into the water instead of forcing the flow of oil and natural gas back down into the wellbore. If that occurs, Suttles said the company could then deploy what it calls the “junk shot,” using tire shards, golf balls and other odd-sized debris to force it back. “That is one of the options we would have available,” Suttles said. “If we saw the right conditions and felt like that would be the right next step.” He said BP decided to use top kill prior to the junk shot for fear that the junk shot might clog the lines and eliminate the top kill option altogether. “If that happened, we couldn’t follow with top kill,” Suttles said.
Even if the junk shot fails, there are still other backup solutions such as trying to place a new containment device over the entire leak, in addition to the relief wells currently being drilled. You can find more details on the risks behind the top kill and its alternatives here.
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