British Petroleum made a third attempt on Friday night at what is termed the ‘junk shot,’ a procedure that involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-storey safety device atop the well, the newspaper reported.
The manoeuvre is complementary to the heavily scrutinised effort known as a “top kill,” which began four days ago and involves pumping heavy mud into the well to counteract the push of the escaping oil.
The technician working on the project on Saturday said pumping had again been halted and a review of the data so far was under way.
“Right now, I would not be optimistic,” he said on condition of anonymity adding if another attempt at the junk shot were to succeed that would turn things around.
BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles told reporters on Saturday that so far the attempt to stem the flow using heavy drilling mud and junk shots has not worked.
The comments from Suttles came amid increasing scepticism that the “top kill” operation would halt the leak.
If the top kill fails, BP would cut off the damaged riser from which the oil is leaking and cap it with a containment valve that’s already resting on the seafloor.
BP is already preparing for that operation, he said.
Suttles also defended BPs clean-up efforts, which have come under fierce criticism from local politicians for being too little too late.
“We have been ramping up the activity every single day,” he said referring to the workers that are being brought in to mop up the rust-coloured goo that is washing ashore along the coast in Houston.
“We and the Coast Guard are bringing in additional resources,” he added.
BP estimates it has nearly 2,000 workers already along the coast according to David Nicholas, BP spokesman.
Suttles said the company was somewhat hampered in its efforts to be aggressive by the delicate nature of the ecosystem.
“We dont want to create more harm in doing the cleanup than the oil creates on its own,” he said.
Nevertheless, he added, BP was not only bringing in more people it was working on ways to get them to more inaccessible areas of the coast.