Gallery: BP Launches “Top Kill” Tactic to Plug the Gulf Oil Spill


Today BP will launch their “Top Kill” tactic – an attempt to plug the 5 story tall tower of pipes at the source of the Gulf oil leak with a massive amount of heavy liquids. The injection of drilling fluids will come from a 30,000 horsepower boat floating above the leaking well while robots on the ocean floor assist. Before setting out on this latest quest to stop one of the largest oil spills in history they cautioned that this had never been tried underwater and then they warned that it might not work. Thanks for the heads up, BP.

We’ve got to say, BP is lacking in the naming department. The “top hat” failed, the “junk shot” failed and now we’ve got the “top kill” — which we are equally unsure about. We keep coming back to what we first said about the oil spill every time BP announces a new plan — this mess could have been controlled if the oil industry had spent even a small amount of cash on solving problems like these before they happen.

The company noted on Sunday that engineers were doing test runs of the “top kill” in preparation for their actual performance this week. This technique has been tried before above ground — it was used to successfully stop the Kuwaiti oil wells from spewing after they were sabotaged by the Iraqi army at the end of the Persian Gulf War. BP has recruited a few members of the team that were involved in that operation to help with this week’s plug. Although definitely under different circumstances — 5,000 feet of water — it will be helpful to have some veterans available. Officials say if this works, they’ll clog the oil with a mound of concrete and replace the faulty blowout preventer. They also said this well will never be used again for production. We’d say we’ll cross our fingers for this procedure to work, but they’re getting pretty tired after a month of failed solutions.

Via The New York Times


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  1. barber June 18, 2010 at 2:19 am

    if the pipes are cast iron,why not use gaint magnets ,to bloke the pipe.a honeycomb of magnets built around the area.until its builds up to a gaint cap.

  2. rudolf r. karliner May 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Does anyone out there,know the estimated flow & pressure and the
    pipe’s I.D.,if so, please let me know,I thing I have the solution
    to stop the flow in a few day’s,or as fast as they get the device down there.I will submit more info.,at that time.
    My phone # is 906-932-4978
    Tanks-Rudolf R.Karliner-Engineer-Inventor
    P.S.-Please see my above comments of 05/27/2010,or what agency should I get in contact with,can this be forwarded to President Obama ?

  3. dreaming May 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Do they have a way of introducing debris “into” the oil flow before it reaches the rupture? If so then how many things do you think might be capable or blocking the flow…..if there was a well designed sleeve with heavy gauge screen mounted over the rupture. The screen would have a lot less back pressure and buys time to present blockage from back side introduction of compound that would slow the flow then maybe a pipe could be added next .

  4. will baldwin May 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

    The ideas that have been presented by me are coming from my limited knowledge in the area of construction, owing to the fact that I have no experience in the construction of oil pipe lines or nautical construction parameters my suggestion was just placed in hopes that some one of higher knowledge might take it for what it is worth and possibly use it as an inspiration. Thank you for your comment it has made me think deeper in to the subject.

  5. Rudolf R. Karliner May 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    After all this time,one would thing, that all the self proclaimed
    experts,would be out there,and drilling 2-3 additional wells,to release the pressure coming from faulty one.I do not know the except diameter of the present pipe,nor do I know the pressure at the presend escape pipe, but one does not has to be an absentminded professor,to figure this one out,since everything has failed thus far,they better get going right now,this should had been done from day one,also they should accept all the help they can get,from any country,this old yankee attitude, let try and see does not work,let face it, is all about the bottom line.One last thing-any deep well drilling should have any and all back up systems on sight,I realize this will be a long range solution,however at must be done

  6. jason.eittreim May 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm


    I think you have a great approach, however, I have a ocuple of issues with your ideas. first, the choice of aluminum to limit the corrosion is doomed for failure, key issues of distance, length, pressure, and the overall effect seawater has on aluminum (I does in fact corrode in seawater, not to mention chemical reaction from what is comming out of the well) second, as stated about the aluminum, you are talking about constructing a very long, and from your description a small diameter pipe (in this circumstance, without some sort of superstructure around it for stability, I would consider anything smaller than 30 feet or larger to be very small) that would have to handle the pressures involved in the well itself, the crush pressures of the deeper sections, and the pressure of wave and tidal movements. in the end, if a “pipe” of sorts would be constructed for this solution to work, it would need to be flexible and mobile with a solid anchor at the bottom and at the top, this would be the only way to prevent from another breakage which would result in the continuation of the current crisis. The best solution is to get the spill to cap off all the way at the bottom of the ocean where environmental factors (storms, tidal flow, and construction flaws) would be minimized due to the smaller size of it and the closer proximity to the spill itself.

    picture the problem like this, you have a broken fire hydrant 1 block away from your house, you need to stop the flow of water, but for whatever reason, you cannot physical approach the hydrant yourself and there are a number of heavily traveled streets between you and the hydrant that you cannot stop or alter the flow of traffic. how to you stop the leak? and is it better to stop the leak at the hydrant or divert the leak to where you are located and stop it there? if you want to divert, how do you do so without the vehicles constantly hitting the pipe you construct to divert it?

    Again I really like your thought process and it has a lot of merit, I just think there are additional issues that would need to be thrown into the mix in order to make a solution such as this work.

    I would be interested to hear your response :-)

  7. Will Baldwin May 26, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Instead of capping it they should be driving guide rods into the sea floor and building a pipe with a large enough diameter to encase the entire structure at the sea floor, Land based companies should be building a pipeline similar the the Alaskan pipeline from the nearest land mass while other workers build large containment facilities, all piping should be aluminum to limit the possibility of corrosion latter and include valves and pressure gauges at regular intervals to facilitate repairs in the future.
    By diverting the spill to the surface of the ocean the task of stopping the leak will be simpler, Timing the finish of the pipeline and the finish of the vertical pipe from the sea floor
    is crucial to success, Once the vertical pipe is driven into the sea floor the concrete mix can be pumped into the bottom of the vertical pipe creating a weighted seal at the base avoiding the high pressure of the escaping oil which will only force the concrete pumped directly into the broken unit at the sea floor to be sprayed out into the sea along with the escaping oil. Once the vertical pipe reaches the surface ships can be used to pump the oil and sea water out of the vertical pipe thereby reducing the amount of oil spilling into the sea to be spread by the sea currents, reducing the area that workers have to cover in order to clean up the mess. The key is to calculate the volume needed for the containment facilities to hold the flow until the valve at the top of the vertical pipe can be safely closed. Connection of the pipeline to the Valve and the vertical pipe can be done at the surface. Having as many empty oil tankers as possible standing by to collect over flow and allowing any oil companies who wish to send oil tankers to assist and collect to keep any oil they receive during the containment process will almost guarantee the assistance needed. Furthermore once the spill is contained in this manner the containment facilities would forever be maintained by all the United States oil companies as a cooperative, The BP company as part of their fine for negligence in the handling of the oil rig would lose all rights to the oil produced by the damaged drill site, 50% the profits prior to expenses made from the oil collected at the a fore mentioned collection facilities would go to clean up of the mess left behind by this disaster and there after be used by the U.S. Government to improve the environmental habitats of all the affected shores. The balance of the net profits would be divided among all the oil companies participating in the construction and maintenance of the pipe line, vertical pipe and containment facilities. (All participating oil companies would be able to draw from the facilities at a rate predetermined by the production capacity of the facilities). It is my belief that utilizing this method the clean up of the existing mess of oil in the ocean can be completed, on the contrary if the so called “Top Kill” plan does not work how many more thousands of gallons will be spilled into our seas making the clean up jobs a “bailing a sinking ship” waste of time.

  8. LAS May 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Logic Fails here completely.

    If it succeed, it will be a Concrete “Cork” in the end of a METAL tube!

    How long before it rusts through and leak again?

    Is this just ANOTHER problem BP want to leave for the future generations and the pockets of the country who the fields belong to.

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