President Obama returns to the Gulf of Mexico today to check in on the oil spill response and track BP's progress plugging the gushing oil well with its "top kill" method. The president's visit follows his announcement of a six-month moratorium on oil exploration in parts of Alaska, Virginia and the Gulf.
In a press conference yesterday, President Obama faced the critical response to how the Administration has handled the BP oil disaster, taking responsibility and halting exploration for domestic oil. The announcement came as BP appraised the results of its top kill method to plug the Gulf oil well, a procedure that involved filling the gusher with drilling liquid, or "mud," with intent to cement the hole once the plug succeeded.
On CBS's Early Show, BP CEO Tony Hayward said the procedure still has about 60-70 percent chance of working. But speaking on ABC's Good Morning America, U.S. Admiral Than Allen said the flow of oil and gas from the broken well has stopped, and that the next 12 to 18 hours will be very critical.
Early reports yesterday from BP suggested the top kill effort was meeting with some success, but officials later announced it may be too soon to say whether or not the method is working. BP also neglected to mention the plugging procedure had suspended operation on Wednesday evening, 16 hours before the announcement was made that the operation was meeting with some success. BP did not say the suspension was a setback and acknowledged that mud was still escaping from the broken pipe.
BP adds golf ball 'junk shot' to top kill
BP will proceed with top kill for up to another 48 hours, and says. The company intends to add a "junk shot" injection of golf balls, shredded rubber and other materials to add more weight to the procedure. Other methods it might try include corralling oil for transport by pipe to a drillship at the water's surface, or replacing the broken blowout preventor on the broken well. Experts say the method has a 50-50 chance of succeedingt.
President Obama's visit will involve a first-hand look at the environmental havoc caused by the spilling oil, including oil-coated marshes, distressed sea life and soupy, oil-drenched waters. Protective booms have failed to shield wetlands and wild cane fields from the oil, which has now reached more than 100 miles of coastline.