Pipes and mud

The riser insertion tube

BP

Before attempting the "top kill," BP inserted a tube into the broken riser to capture some of the leaking oil.

Siphoning oil from the riser
On May 14, three and a half weeks after the leak started, BP engineers inserted a 4-inch-wide pipe into one of the breaks in the riser. Though this smaller tube, a container ship on the surface was able to siphon about 80,000 gallons of oil a day from the well, an amount that turned out to be a small fraction of the daily volume being leaked. After almost one million gallons of oil were captured, the pipe was removed, to make way for …

The "Top Kill"
In an effort to shut down the well entirely, BP employed a strategy called “top kill.” The top kill technique involved pumping heavy drilling mud—fluid for cooling, lubricating, cleaning, and controlling the pressure in a drill hole—into the broken blowout preventer at the mouth of the borehole. The drilling mud would hopefully fight the upward pressure of the oil. Once the oil had been stopped, the hole would be filled with cement, to cap it off completely. Unfortunately, after several days, BP announced that the top kill effort attempt had failed, and oil continued to gush from the broken riser.

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