Nightly News   |  May 28, 2010

BP: 'We'll continue with this operation'

Beleaguered oil giant BP said Friday it could be Sunday before being able to determine whether or not the Top Kill process is working. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We turn back now to BP 's attempts to stop this billowing oil. In Venice , Louisiana , our chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson is keeping an eye on all that's going on a mile beneath the surface. Anne is with us again tonight with an update on that situation. Anne , good evening.

ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Good evening, Brian . BP says it will continue that top kill technique over the weekend. Late this evening, BP described the top kill technique as a process that stops and starts. It also said it has used the junk shot in an effort to try and stop to plug that well, an effort that has gone on far longer than anyone anticipated. When BP started shooting mud into the well Wednesday, it said we would know by now if top kill worked. But the beleaguered oil giant keeps moving the finish line, and now says it could be Sunday.

Mr. DOUG SUTTLES (BP Chief Operating Officer): We'll continue with this operation until such time is it's either successful, or we believe it won't be successful.

PETER ALEXANDER reporting: It's different than it was a few days ago when it...

In the absence of answers, there's lots of speculation.

THOMPSON: It's certainly a lot of mud that's blowing out of there, and that's interesting. It doesn't look like the rate of outflow has slowed much, and that's of concern to me.

Mr. RICK STEINER (Marine Conservationist): Even if top kill succeeds in staunching the flow, experts say the relief wells must still be drilled.

THOMPSON: They're going to plug the well at the very bottom, and that will be the final, complete plug. And they will do it anyway, regardless of any -- of whether these techniques work or not.

Professor SATISH NAGARAJAIAH (Rice University): Today in Red Fish Bay , we found more evidence of the advancing destruction of Louisiana 's coast. Here the boom is no defense against the crude. This is the worst-case scenario. The oil is here adding a dark ugly border to Louisiana 's green coast , and choking the wetlands. The roseau cane is clearly succumbing to the oil, taking with it the habitat and nourishment for local birds and fish. One hundred five miles west, in Bayou Dufresne , the Coast Guard took the media along to witness its response effort there, using absorbant pads to soak up the oil in the marsh. Late this afternoon the federal government announced it is closing more of the Gulf of Mexico to fishing. Now 25 percent of the water, some 60,000 square miles , are closed to fishing. But here in Louisiana , the state has reopened some oyster areas, putting those -- giving those oystermen economic and

THOMPSON: Anne Thompson in Plaquemines Parish , Louisiana , where it's really a hand-to-hand fight against this oil

emotional whiplash. Brian: