BP prepares alternate plan as 'top kill' procedure unlikely to stop oil flow

British Petroleum (BP) said late last night that it would know by Sunday or later whether it's latest attempt to cap the leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico by pouring drilling fluids into the leaking well will work even as the spill has already become the largest ever in history.

BP engineers have been deploying the 'top kill' procedure of pumping heavy drilling fluids through high- horsepower pumps from 26 May (See: BP to go for 'top kill' to plug gushing spill in Gulf of Mexico) and said yesterday that the procedure could extend by another 24 to 48 hours.  

Top kill involves pumping 50,000 pounds of thick, viscous fluids, twice the density of water, into the site of the leak to stop the oil flow after which the well is sealed off with cement. The technique has worked successfully on on-shore oil wells in the Middle East but has never been tried in high seas, that too at depths of 5,000 ft.

''We'll continue this operation as long as necessary until we're either successful with it or are convinced it won't succeed,'' said Doug Suttles, the BP executive in charge of the spill response, at an afternoon press conference in Louisiana.

Reports indicate that so far the top kill procedure, meant to choke the oil from spilling from the blown-out well, has met with little success as video footage deployed by the US Coast Guards and BP, showed that the fluids were leaking through the blow-out preventer  at the site of the leak.

Video footage from cameras installed on robotic submarines, show plumes of mud escaping into the waters from the blow-out preventer as BP was pumping the heavy fluids.