I truly hope I don’t have to read this again tomorrow with a taste of bitter irony:

BP’s top-kill plan has been devised over more than a month by what BP calls a dream team of engineers from the oil industry and from such government agencies as the Energy Department, the Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

They better be able to “plug the damn hole.” It’s a pretty sophisticated engineering feat they are trying to pull off:

Huge ships and drilling rigs now crowd the surface 5,000 feet above the blown-out well. Two rigs are drilling relief wells but are not expected to complete their work until August. Parked in the middle of everything is the command vessel for the top-kill operation, the 312-foot Helix Q4000. Close by will be the 381-foot HOS Centerline, one of the largest supply ships in the world, capable of pumping 50 barrels of mud a minute. Two other backup ships carrying mud will be nearby.

All the work at depth is performed by the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), numbering 12 by latest count, and operated from the surface ships while BP engineers monitor the process from Houston…

…On Tuesday, the BP engineers began diagnostic tests on the blowout preventer. This is a critical phase in which the company will learn how much pressure must be overcome when the drilling mud is injected into the well. It could also lead them to abort the maneuver.

“We’ve got a crack team of experts that are going to pore over the diagnostic data,” Wells said. “There is a remote possibility that we would get some information that it wouldn’t work.”

If all goes as planned, a 30,000-horsepower engine aboard the HOS Centerline will pump mud at 40 to 50 barrels a minute to the Q4000 command vessel, then down a newly installed pipe to the gulf bottom, and then through flexible hoses into multiple portals in the blowout preventer.

What happens next would be all-important. The mud would have to go somewhere. The hope is that so much of it would be forced into the blowout preventer that, even as some of it surged up the riser pipe and into the water along with oil and gas, much of it would go to the bottom of the well. The well would lose all pressure and would become static. Later, BP would inject cement down the wellbore to permanently seal the well.

And, of course, it could backfire and make things worse. But they have to try. They can’t just wait until August when the relief well will be complete.

You know, Earth Day grew out of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. I hope the youngins create something comparable when this is all over. Not that it will ever be all over. You can see the damage here.

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