BP is performing tests on the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping it can begin the "static kill" procedure this week.
BP is performing tests on the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping it can begin the "static kill" procedure this week. Andrew Yates/AFP
BP hopes to try the "static kill" — or "bullheading" — procedure on the blown-out oil Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico this week, following some additional tests today.
The energy company will try to force drilling mud into the well, hoping that the substance will make its way down pipes, through valves — into the reservoir.
If that works, BP will force even more drilling mud — and maybe some cement — into the well, hoping to seal it for good.
Got that? (CNN does a good job of explaining it, and The New York Times has some more animations on its site, in case you're confused.)
The newspaper also has an even-more-technical description of what's supposed to happen:
In the static kill, technicians working from two ships and a rig platform above the well will pump drilling mud through lines installed atop the blowout preventer that failed when the drill rig exploded. The mud — a heavy fluid that weighs about 13 pounds per gallon, compared with about 8.6 pounds for seawater — would force oil and gas back into the reservoir. If pressure in the well remains stable, cement will then be poured as a harder sealant.
NPR reports that, "if all goes according to plan, engineers would then move to plug the well at both ends by pumping in more mud and cement through a relief well more than 10,000 feet below the surface."
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, Washington's point man on the spill, said the "bottom kill" procedure could happen in five to seven days.