BP CEO: Chance of "top kill" success 60-70 percent

OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO (Reuters) - BP Plc’s chances of succeeding in its “top kill” effort to plug a blown-out oil well beneath the Gulf of Mexico remains at 60 to 70 percent, CEO Tony Hayward told Reuters on Friday.

“We have wrestled it to the ground, but we haven’t put a bullet in its head yet,” Hayward said while aboard a helicopter inspecting the spill site over the Gulf.

Hayward said BP will know in the next 48 hours if the procedure has worked. “Top kill,” BP’s best short-term option for choking off the Macondo well, involves injecting thousands of barrels of mud into the well to stem its flow.

BP and Hayward are under tremendous pressure from the Obama administration to seal the leak, which has surpassed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Hayward spoke with Reuters as President Barack Obama visited Grand Isle, Louisiana, where he reiterated he will hold BP accountable for cleaning up the spill.

Hayward said the Macondo well likely contained around 50 million to 100 million barrels of oil, which would have been worth about $750 million to $1 billion if extracted and sold.

BP officials have said they have no intention of extracting oil from the well after it is permanently sealed.

Reporting by Tom Bergin; writing by Chris Baltimore; editing by Mary Milliken