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News Link • Oil Spill - Gulf of Mexico

BP weighs ‘static kill’ operation to permanently seal still-leaking well

The "static kill" operation would involve pumping heavy drilling fluids known as mud through the blowout preventer valve system that sits on top of the well and then injecting cement to seal it. Similar to the "top kill" operation that failed in May, BP believes it will now work because the oil and gas in the runaway well is sealed already by its containment cap so the mud won't need to be forced down so hard. BP senior vice president Kent Wells said officials could decide to implement the operation within the "next couple days," long before the first relief well -- still seen as the ultimate fix -- is completed at the end of the month. Back in May, the "top kill" saw engineers spend days pumping heavy drilling fluid into the leaking well, but they failed to smother the gushing crude. Former Coast Guard chief, Admiral Thad Allen, who heads the government's response to the spill, confirmed there was "some discussion that there might be some way to do a static pumping of mud into the top that would suppress the hydrocarbons." But Allen stressed the plan was still in its infancy and said he was waiting further analysis from BP before making a final decision. He admitted it could have better chances of success than the "top kill" because the well, which has been capped since Thursday, was now in a closed system with back pressure.

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