The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Top Kill Procedure Continues

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 28, 2010

President Obama is traveling to the Gulf Coast to see the oil spill response first-hand today. His trip comes one day after he held a news conference to announce delays and cancellations in the U.S. offshore energy development program.

Here's a brief wrap-up of the president's remarks and other newsworthy items that occurred yesterday:

  • President Obama halted work on 33 exploratory wells being drilled in the Gulf, delayed the drilling of five wells in offshore Alaska until 2011, cancelled lease sales planned for the western Gulf and off the coast of Virginia, and delayed all deepwater permits in the Gulf of Mexico for at least six months while a commission reviews offshore safety and operational procedures and requirements. API responded with a statement.
  • Engineers pumped heavy drilling fluids ("muds") into the blowout preventer and the wellbore of the Macondo well. The pumping was stopped briefly last evening and then started again. BP CEO Tony Hayward told reporters that it would be a day or two before it's known whether this "top kill" process successfully plugs the well.
  • The director of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) resigned. MMS is the agency responsible for overseeing the U.S. offshore development program.
  • Five hearings were held on Capitol Hill as lawmakers probed into the Deepwater Horizon accident. API's President and CEO Jack Gerard testified before the House Natural Resources Committee. His oral statement is available here.
  • The National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group, using advanced technology, said as much as 12,000-19,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the Macondo well, surpassing earlier estimates.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard approved a portion of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal to build six-foot high sand berms to protect the state's coastline from the Gulf oil spill.

As America prepares for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, people all over the country are watching BP's live video feed from the bottom of the Gulf. Engineers are attempting to counteract the surge of oil and gas up the wellbore by forcing drilling muds down into the well. Yesterday, mud could be seen spewing from the torn riser. The question today is whether enough mud can be pumped into the well at a high enough speed to knock down the well's internal pressure to zero. If it works, the well will be cemented and plugged, effectively stopping the oil leak.

How will we know if it's successful? BP's Doug Suttles told reporters yesterday that the good news would be announced by "the roar coming out of this building" where the engineers are conducting the "top kill" procedure. (The Washington Post)

Please keep the engineers, the oil spill responders and the Gulf Coast communities dealing with the spill's impacts in your thoughts this weekend. And take a moment this Memorial Day to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for this great country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.