[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/27/art.suttlesjk0527.cnn.jpg caption="'It was nothing more than we're so focused on the operation itself,' BP COO Doug Suttles said of the company's failure to disclose that it stopped pumping drilling mud into the gushing well for a 16-hour period."]
(CNN) – The man overseeing embattled energy giant BP's efforts to stop a gushing underwater oil well was apologetic Thursday for not sharing more information about the company's "top kill" procedure while an increasingly anxious country waits for results.
With the world watching courtesy of several live video feeds demanded by the White House and Congress, BP began the "top kill" procedure Wednesday afternoon, an effort to force heavy drilling mud into the well and stop the flow of oil and gas up from beneath the seafloor. But at a press conference Thursday afternoon, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles made the surprise announcement that his company had suspended the operation more than 16 hours prior.
Asked why BP had left the country in the dark about the status of the procedure while the video feeds continued to broadcast from 5,000 feet below the surface of the water, Suttles told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the company had been perhaps too focused on the operation itself and not sufficiently focused on keeping the public informed.
"Well, John, I should say I've had a number of people mention that to me and clearly, we need to probably do even more to tell people what's occurring," Suttles said in an interview that aired on CNN's John King, USA. "You can imagine in some degree we're probably guilty of focusing so much on this operation. We've spent all of our time analyzing the results, looking at the next steps and we somehow need to continually feed data out there to the public so they know what's occurring. They're obviously able to watch the [oil] plume and the end of the riser [the broken pipe leaving the well], but we've actually said it's very difficult to tell exactly what's occurring from that.
"So, John, I probably should apologize to folks that we actually haven't been giving more data on that. It was nothing more than we're so focused on the operation itself."
Suttles also told King that after stopping the pumping of mud into the well around midnight Wednesday, BP had resumed the "top kill" procedure on Thursday evening.
And Suttles said that BP should know within the next 24-48 hours whether the procedure was working.
"But I should stress that it's hard to predict exactly when the job will finish," Suttles said, adding that BP is monitoring the situation "very carefully" now that the pumping of the mud had resumed.
And the BP executive stressed that the company would stay at the task until there was a clear indication about its effectiveness.
"We're going to stay at this job until either it works or we're convinced it can't work, and that could take some time," Suttles told King.