British Petroleum's (BP) "top kill" attempt to plug its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico remained inconclusive Thursday, 15 hours into what a company official described as a "titanic arm wrestling match."
Heavy drilling mud was being slowly pumped into the well to try to overcome the flow of oil gushing from a ruptured pipe on the seabed nearly a mile under the surface.
"What you have is a titanic arm wrestling match between the well and the heavy muds we're driving into the well. Two flows going at each other with a stream that comes out of the well," Bob Dudley, BP's managing director, said.
In a series of television interviews, Dudley said the operation was proceeding as expected but it would take much of the day to say whether it was working or not.
"It's going to go slow. There's no question. The teams worked all night," he said in an interview with ABC television. "And this is something that will take us most of the day before we're going to be able to report an outcome."
He said no conclusions could be drawn from the plume emanating from the broken riser pipe.
"Sometimes it will be stopped for a while. Sometimes you may see oil and gas. So you can't draw conclusions from what you see," he said.