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BP: effort to plug Gulf oil spill going as planned

 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, speaks at a press conference in Galliano, La., Monday, May 24, 2010. Standing behind Salazar are Sen. David V...
 Graphic shows percentage of U.S. oil production from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
 President Barack Obama, escorted by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 25, 2010...
 A woman who asked not to be identified holds ribbons with eleven stars that were given attendees to the memorial service honoring the eleven men who ...
 An attendee at the memorial service honoring the eleven men who died in the offshore rig explosion that triggered the Gulf oil spill holds programs a...
 Douglas Inkley, left, from the National Wildlife Federation, stands near oil-soaked vegetation on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizo...
 Oil absorbent material boom and oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen on Elmer's Island in Grand Isle, La. on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP P...
 An image from a  live video feed the oil plume is seen on the BP.com website early Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The oil company planned a "top kill" desi...
 Senate Energy and natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R...

Gulf Oil Spill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, speaks at a press conference in Galliano, La., Monday, May 24, 2010. Standing behind Salazar are Sen. David V...

GULF OFFSHORE DRILLING

Graphic shows percentage of U.S. oil production from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Obama Republicans

President Barack Obama, escorted by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 25, 2010...

APTOPIX Oil Spill Memorial

A woman who asked not to be identified holds ribbons with eleven stars that were given attendees to the memorial service honoring the eleven men who ...

Oil Spill Memorial

An attendee at the memorial service honoring the eleven men who died in the offshore rig explosion that triggered the Gulf oil spill holds programs a...

Gulf Oil Spill

Douglas Inkley, left, from the National Wildlife Federation, stands near oil-soaked vegetation on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizo...

Gulf Oil Spill

Oil absorbent material boom and oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen on Elmer's Island in Grand Isle, La. on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP P...

Oil Spill

An image from a live video feed the oil plume is seen on the BP.com website early Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The oil company planned a "top kill" desi...

Gulf Oil Spill

Senate Energy and natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R...

BP started pumping heavy mud into the leaking Gulf of Mexico well Wednesday and said everything was going as planned in the company's boldest attempt yet to plug the gusher that has spewed millions of gallons of oil over the last five weeks.
BP hoped the mud could overpower the steady stream of oil, but chief executive Tony Hayward said it would be at least 24 hours before officials know whether the attempt has been successful. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to permanently seal it.
"I'm sure many of you have been watching the plume," Hayward said from Houston. "All I can say is it is unlikely to give us any real indication of what is going on. Either increases or decreases are not an indicator of either success or failure at this time."
The stakes are high. Fishermen, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast are fed up with BP's so far ineffective attempts to stop the oil leak that sprang after an offshore drilling rig exploded April 20. Eleven workers were killed, and by the most conservative estimate, 7 million gallons (26.5 million liters) of crude have spilled into the Gulf, fouling Louisiana's marshes and coating birds and other wildlife.
The top kill has worked above ground but has never before been tried 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) beneath the sea. Company officials peg its chance of success at 60 to 70 percent.
President Barack Obama said "there's no guarantees" it will work. The president planned a trip to Louisiana on Friday.
"We're going to bring every resource necessary to put a stop to this thing," he said.
Meanwhile, dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.
In a handwritten statement to the Coast Guard obtained by the AP, Transocean rig worker Truitt Crawford said: "I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out."
At a Coast Guard hearing in New Orleans, Doug Brown, chief rig mechanic aboard the platform, testified that the trouble began at a meeting hours before the blowout, with a "skirmish" between a BP official and rig workers who did not want to replace heavy drilling fluid in the well with saltwater.
The switch presumably would have allowed the company to remove the fluid and use it for another project, but the seawater would have provided less weight to counteract the surging pressure from the ocean depths.
Brown said the BP official, whom he identified only as the "company man," overruled the drillers, declaring, "This is how it's going to be." Brown said the top Transocean official on the rig grumbled, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for," which he took to be a reference to devices on the blowout preventer, the five-story piece of equipment that can slam a well shut in an emergency.
A live video stream Wednesday showed pictures of the blowout preventer, as well as the oil gushing out. At other times, the feed showed mud spewing out, but BP said this was not cause for alarm.
A weak spot in the blowout preventer could blow under the pressure, causing a brand new leak.
Gene Beck, a petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M in College Station, said the endeavor would likely fail quickly if the mud could not overcome the pressure of the oil.
"The longer it goes, maybe the better news that is," Beck said.
Frustration with BP and the federal government has only grown since then as efforts to stop the leak have failed.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, both outspoken critics, led a boat tour around the oil-fouled delta near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Through the Mississippi's South Pass, there were miles-long passages that showed no indication of the oil, and the air smelled fresh and salty. Nearby fish were leaping and tiny seabirds dove into the water.
But not far away at Pass a Loutre, the odor wafting above the oily water was that of an auto shop.
"We have yet to see a plan from the Coast Guard, a plan from BP, a plan to keep it from coming in, a plan to pick it up," Nungesser said of the oil.
"There's no wildlife in Pass a Loutre. It's all dead," Nungesser said.
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Associated Press writers Mike Kunzelman and Kevin McGill in New Orleans; Jeff Donn in Boston; Julie Pace in Fremont, California; Ben Nuckols in Covington contributed to this story.
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Online:
http://globalwarming.house.gov/spillcam


Updated : 2021-02-25 22:23 GMT+08:00