"Static kill," BP's new mud-funneling plan for stopping its Gulf oil gusher, appears to be working. The company is hopeful that this might be all it takes to seal off the leak for good. Yet the question on the lips of everyone from the smallest blogger to Energy Secretary Steven Chu isn't so much technical as literary. It can be summed up simply: "Static kill"? Really?

BP has already gone through an impressive cycle of odd, dramatic, murderous names for its operations. "Static kill" appears to have been the last straw. Perhaps as a sign of relief that the oil spill may be finished, hilarity is bursting through even the pages of The Washington Post.

  • 'You Want to Make Sure It's Really Dead Dead Dead,' Energy Secretary Chu tells the Post's Joel Achenbach. "'Don't want anything to rise out of the grave.'" Before getting to the serious part of the piece, Achenbach himself notes that "whether [the operation] will kill, slightly impede, or merely pester BP's Macondo well remained unknown late Tuesday." Here's the situation:
Ideally, the heavy mud will cause the pressure in the well to drop to zero--but that alone won't mean the well is dead, according to federal scientists. The well could be playing dead. For example, when the mud will travels into the hot environment of the rock formation 2 1/2 miles below the seafloor, the heat could cause the mud to change form and allow the Macondo reservoir to "push back," as Chu put it.
  • 'BP Will Keep Killing the Well Until It Is Killed for Good,' declares Dan Amira in a New York Magazine headline, in which he also passes along the news that "BP's latest violently named leak-stopping effort is being declared successful." Adds Amira, "the leak won't be truly dead for good, though, until BP's ultimate kill maneuver--the 'bottom kill,' otherwise known as the relief well--is complete."
  • 'People Who Name Oil Leak Procedures Should Name Everything,' remarks The Atlantic's Derek Thompson. All of these BP maneuvers would "make great James Bond movie titles," he notes, adding: "NO, MACONDO LEAK. I EXPECT YOU TO DIE."
  • Okay, Here's the Deal  "The name demands a little explanation," acknowledges Tom Foreman at CNN's AC360° blog. "'Static' in this case refers to a condition of 'not moving.' ... Right now the oil is far from static." Once enough mud gets pumped in, though, "the mud will start bearing down on that oil," as it will be heavier than the oil. "The force of the oil up, will be perfectly countered by the force of the mud down; neither one moving; a static condition. At least in theory."