Factbox: How BP’s "top kill" effort to stop leak works

(BestGrowthStock) – BP initiated a risky “top kill” process on Wednesday to try to stop the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Here is how the procedure is designed to work, as explained by Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president of exploration and production.

* Drilling “mud,” or fluid heavier than oil that can contain barite, clay and water, will be pumped from a ship to a construction and well-servicing rig and then down a drill pipe to the seabed a mile below the surface. The ship can pump 50 barrels (7,950 liters) of mud a minute and is stocked with 11,000 barrels (1.75 million liters). Three other ships stocked with mud are nearby.

* The mud will go through the pipe into hoses connected to a manifold on the sea floor, which routes the fluid to another set of hoses known as “choke and kill.”

* The choke and kill hoses lead the fluid through valves on the failed blowout preventer.

* Once inside the blowout preventer, the fluid travels into the well beneath the seabed. If successful, the “hydrostatic head” of the fluid, or the force exerted by the fluid at rest, will resist and overcome the flow of oil and “kill” the well.

* If the fluid cannot stop the flow alone, BP can inject a “junk shot” of solid materials like golf balls and shredded rubber to help get more mud down the well.

* The entire procedure can take from a half day to two days.

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(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Factbox: How BP’s “top kill” effort to stop leak works