'Top Kill:' Engineers Try to Control Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill; Louisiana Asks for More Help

As engineers try to plug well, La. Gov says state needs more supplies.

May 26, 2010, 7:42 AM

May 26, 2010— -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said today that his state doesn't have what it needs to fight the spread of BP's oil.

"We need more boom, more skimmers, more jack-up barges," Jindal said at an angry news conference in Venice, Louisiana, complaining that Louisiana has received a fraction of the supplies it requested to protect itself from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"More than 100 miles of our shoreline has been impacted by the oil spill. That is more than the entire sea coastline of Mississippi and Alabama combined," the governor said.

Democratic strategist James Carville, a Louisiana native, joined Jindal on a tour of coastal areas today, seeing firsthand the effect of the oil on the marshlands. Carville said he hoped that President Obama would take a similar tour when he visits the region on Friday.

"This is not oil, this is crude," said Carville. "This is not what you put in your car, this is some of the most vicious stuff you can imagine."

Jindal joked that he wants Obama to pack hard boom onto Air Force One and bring it with him on Friday, but the governor was serious about his promise to move forward with building barrier islands without the federal government's permission.

"We cannot let bureaucracy and red tape delay our action while oil hits our wetlands week after week," he said.

While the governor asks for more supplies, a number of countries said today that the U.S. government and BP had yet to take them up on offers of assistance, including booms and skimmers.

The State Department said in a briefing today that 17 countries had offered assistance, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

BP added another two countries to that list, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

While BP has accepted some supplies, including booms and skimmers from Norway, most other countries said they were waiting for a response from the U.S. government.

"We have the equipment," said Ferran Tarradellas, a spokesman for the European Union agency coordinating Europe's response, "but at this point in time, we have not received any requests."

At the site of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP began its latest effort to plug the well -- a maneuver known as a "top kill." They tried to stop the spill by forcing heavy mud through the drill pipe on the floor of the gulf.

A top kill has never been tried 5,000 feet underwater, where the leak began April 20. BP's chief executive Tony Hayward has given the procedure a 60 to 70 percent chance of working, and President Obama cautioned today there were "no guarantees."

BP and government officials said it might be days before they know whether the operation has worked.

The plan is to pump enough mud into the well to overcome the flow of oil. If it succeeds, they would then use cement to try to seal the well permanently.

"The difficulty with this is that to kill the well, the mud they're pumping in has to fill the well and create a hydrostatic pressure," said Philip Johnson of the University of Alabama in an interview with ABC News.

"Now, let me not be misleading. What you might see is oil being replaced by mud out of the top of the well," he said, "and as long as there is flow, you can't be sure that it was stopped."

The pumping began at 2 p.m. ET, said the oil company. Green-tinted live video from the gulf floor showed the pumping apparatus drifting underwater. Engineers said they were not sure the pictures would clearly show whether the leak had been stopped.

BP was leasing the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the spill. At least 7 million gallons have escaped into the Gulf. Oil has begun coating birds and washing into Louisiana's delicate wetlands.

Obama to Announce New Measures to Deal With Oil Spill

On Thursday, Obama will announce new measures the federal government will take to try to prevent any future BP oil spills, administration officials said.

Administration officials also said the government will make changes to the way it allows offshore drilling, including new measures for the permitting process, new safety requirements for offshore rigs, and what was described as "strengthened" inspections for drilling operations.

The changes will be announced after the president receives a report from Secretary of the Department of Interior Ken Salazar on the safety issues that have arisen as part of the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20. The 30-day review was ordered by the president after the explosion and is technically due Friday, though Salazar will turn it in on Thursday.

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