The operational plan first involves cutting and then removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed blow-out preventer (BOP) to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP’s LMRP. The cap is designed to be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.

BP said that the LMRP cap is already on site and it is currently anticipated that it will be connected in about four days. This operation has not been previously carried out in 5,000ft of water and the successful deployment of the containment system cannot be assured.

Drilling of the first relief well continues and is currently at 12,090ft. Drilling of the second relief well is temporarily suspended and is expected to recommence shortly from 8,576ft.

According to BP, despite pumping a total of over 30,000 barrels of heavy mud, in three attempts at rates of up to 80 barrels a minute, and deploying a wide range of different bridging materials, the ‘top kill’ operation did not overcome the flow from the well.