Five weeks into the oil leak caused by an explosion at a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and a number of unsuccessful attempts at plugging the holes in the pipework later, BP’s latest solution, ‘top kill’, has managed to stop the flow of oil and natural gas.
Although the mission has not yet been declared an official success, the signs are positive that this could be the solution BP has been praying for since the rig and pipework began leaking thousands of barrels of oil every day, all heading towards the coastline causing damage to eco-systems and wildlife in what is being called Barack Obama’s Hurricane Katrina.
The ‘top kill’ method began with high pressure pumping of mud into the well head to stem the flow of oil and gas that had been persistently flowing out into the surrounding sea water and marine environment. This now stopped, according to U.S Coastguard, Adm. Thad Alan, despite a second boat of liquid mud needing to be called in after the first ran out of its supply, once the pressure in the pipes has been reduced to zero, the second stage of the repair can be carried out. This will comprise of cement being pumped in to seal off the well and secure the leaking sections so that the oil and gas is contained.
President Obama, who has received criticism for the lack of intervention in the crisis, will be extending the moratorium currently in place covering offshore deep water drilling for a further 6 month period today, despite previously being in support of increasing the amount of oil drilling developments taking place.
A big concern following the successful plugging of the leaks will be the clean up mission as the true figures of the amount of leaked oil come to light and the true environmental impact is realised along the coastline in the Gulf of Mexico.