Liveblog- BP briefing on oil disaster: Top kill not working

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COO Suttles:

We've been unable to overcome the flow from the well. Next option: Cap. We've made numerous attempts, used junk shot technique, but can't stop the flow. After reviewing w/ brain trust of engineers and scientists, gov. agencies, Salazar and Chu, moving on to next option. We will not achieve success w/ pumping.

We're using robotic subs at 5000 under water.

This new operation should be able to capture MOST of the oil. Could take 4 days or longer. We're confident it will work but can't guarantee.

Amount of oil in sea is being reduced. Skimming is helping.

We're trying to move 2200 people closer to front lines in floatels.

Offshore: Harder to skim. We can locate small patches of oil for skimming, a significant breakthrough.

Rear Adm. Mary Landry, U.S. Coast Guard:

We're very disappointed in today's announcement. But we've been very aggressive.

We will continue to fight this fight, but the challenge is the weather. Coast guard has all the resources they need. No silver bullet.

Expectations: It's so dynamic, so novel.. estimates are 4 days, but could go 7 days.

Moving as safely and efficiently as possible. Trying to protect eco system.

Dispersants are working...

We're trying to minimize economic and environmental impact.

We're doing good work along the coastline. 50% of oily water collected in marsh area. Seafood sampling has begun. We're treating marshes carefully.

Chandelier Islands, remote... "interesting" challenge.

Other remote areas 50-100% completed.

Watching weather carefully.

CNN: You said topkill was first choice because lower risks, higher success. Now what?

Suttles: We've been working numerous options, so that was not best success option. We said 60-70% success and said we didn't know. We have best and brightest in govt working. Based on analysis it's time to move to cap.

Landry: First few weeks was trying to intervened w/ existing... then moved to top kill. We always said it could fail. Real solution has been relief well, not others.

CNN: Risks now that you didn't have w/ top kill.

Suttles: Good question. Next we have to capture all of the flow. We learned we had to exclude the water. We think the cap will capture great majority of the flow. We said all along that if top kill didn't work would be the lmrp cap. Salazar, Chu agree, best experts agree while we work other options available to us. We can minimize oil on surface, so minimize oil that gets to shore.

Landry: Dispersants are necessary, but we'll keep sampling.

Q: Has BP done enough to convey the sense of urgency? Not good PR for you guys. Inform us of options.. we are reinventing the wheel here. BP done a good job of keeping public at ease?

Suttles: We tried. And this scares everybody, that we can't get well to stop flowing. OUr most ardent critics say we have to be as motivated as anyone. We've tried to say we have parallel paths because we didn't know which would be successful. First time at 5000 feet. People wish we could tell them more, but really wish we could get this to stop. We want to do that.

Landry: We are working w/ Mexico and other countries. Marshes: The pres. had visited twice, cabinet secretaries several times. Putting together a wetland team... working w/ La and parishes on best way to clean marshes. Trying to keep this offshore... using new technologies, putting heads together... w/ team.  We should all been working together.

AP: When did you know top kill failed? How?

Suttles: Decision on cap in last hour and half. Monitored, diagnosed well... we could continue this operation. But unlikely to succeed, not impossible. Just decided in last 90 minutes, included  Chu and Salazar. We don't know for certain what flow path is. We can't see it, only take indirect measurements. Info: Pressure data which led us to believe that cutting off riser shouldn't impact amount of oil coming from well. All equipment is in place. We worked this option parallel with the top kill operation, trying to move quickly.

Times Picayune:  There will be oil seeping after procedure. Compare to previous insertion tube? What about top kill didn't work?

Suttles: Cap should capture vast majority of flow. Some oil will escape. Can't guarantee that. Never been done at this depth. If we get a good seal over top, should work. Top kill: Don't know for certain. Tried junk shot, but unable to overcome flow.

Q: Considering 11 alternatives. What are they? What about oil? Let microbes eat it up? And if less toxic alternative, you'd go for it, but isn't dispersant [something or other] less toxic?

Suttles: EPA has list of less toxic products. We're meeting today. One product is one you described... If we find alternative, we'll use it. Meantime Corexit is appropriate to use, approved. The intent of dispersant is to break up oil so microbes will eat it, so no, we won't clean it up.

Q: Future updates?

Landry: There's a lot of speculation. We're all on a roller coaster ride here. We were very hopeful. The greatest minds, tech, this is leading edge, novel. That's important. But we do our best to be transparent. We learned our lesson. People take the min. number of days. Say 4-7, not 4.  That's our commitment, to not underdeliver.

L.A. Times: Time frame still August?

Suttles: The farther we go, the slower it gets. Fastest progress early. We're a little ahead of schedule, so best estimate is early August.

Q: Hurricane season. Weather challenge. What will happen?

Landry: This is resilient nation, but wise about hurricanes. The Gulf Coast, the offshore workers, have a very good system for evacuating rigs, shutting down. We're all well versed in hurricane response. Hurricane Barrier Project nearly done. Other states, we must work together.

L.A. Times: Percentage chance of it working. Using original top hat?

Suttles: No percentage, but very confident. It's never been done before. AT this depth, these conditions... Different top hat. Designed to fit over riser, with sealing element to capture flow. Should capture more oil than before.

Miami Herald: Will we be able to watch progress?

Suttles: The mud created sediment clouds. You were watching same feed as us. You'll be able to monitor, yes.

CBS  News Hour: Pressure of oil coming out... how much is coming out? How much mud pumped in?

Suttles: Over 22K barrels of oil while in operation. Pressures don't tell flow rate, just obstructions. Mud: 30K  barrels, gone in well and out riser.

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  • mainsailset

    Some may consider this a setback. I'm voting for the beginning of the end of the global treasure that was the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricanes are beginning to swarm like vultures, a whole coastline is and will be out of work, the industry that caused this is being shut down by the govt, and the wildlife of the gulf is screaming with pain.