BP well sealed, but relief well still needed to kill it: US official

Aug 14, 2010
Vessels work at the site of the Deepwater Horizon accident as viewed from inside a Coast Guard flight over the site August 10 off the shore of Louisiana. BP's runaway well has been sealed, but US officials said Friday they are moving ahead with plans to make sure it's truly "killed" by pumping cement in through a relief well under the Gulf of Mexico.

BP's runaway well has been sealed, but US officials said Friday they are moving ahead with plans to make sure it's truly "killed" by pumping cement in through a relief well under the Gulf of Mexico.

"We're very close to having the well secured," US spill chief Thad Allen said.

Pressure tests showed that the well no longer has "direct communication with the reservoir" thanks to a top kill operation which pumped drilling mud and cement down through the wellhead, Allen said.

"The well might be effectively killed and we just don't know it," Allen said, adding that he would not be satisfied until he was certain oil would never leak out of the well again.

About 1,000 barrels of oil are believed to be trapped in the well's annulus -- the space between the inner well tubing and the outer casing -- and it's possible that some of the cement pumped in from above effectively sealed the annulus off from the surface.

But to be sure, and reflecting the White House's consistent line that the relief well was the ultimate solution, a decision was made to continue with the so-called "bottom kill" operation.

"Everyone is in agreement that we need to proceed with the relief well. The question is how to do that," Allen told reporters.

One possibility could be to install a new blowout preventer on top of the capped well to make sure oil doesn't escape if a mistake is made during the bottom kill operation, Allen said.

He did not provide an estimated date for completion but said it will take about 96 hours to finish the bottom kill, which had been delayed for a few days because of an approaching storm, once operations begin.

The well ruptured when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, two days after a massive explosion that killed 11 workers.

At 4.9 million barrels -- enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools -- the disaster is the biggest maritime on record.

It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich US Gulf Coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region's future.

After a series of failures, BP was able to fully stem the flow of oil into the sea on July 15 with a temporary cap. The well was plugged with cement on August 5.

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Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2010
I wonder if it was the press release itself, or the transcription that was responsible for reducing this article to gobbledygook? But there you have it.

It appears that the well has been sealed; there may be some quantity of oil, ~1000 barrels, trapped in the annulus; bottom kill is still to be carried out, and is the only "sure" kill of the well.

Fine and dandy.

Now, how about setting up seafloor monitoring to determine, over the next year or so, whether or not any seeps/gushes develop secondary to the well bore itself, as a result of caprock or annulus fracturing during or subsequent to the blowout.
Loodt
1 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2010
After a series of failures, and the White House refusing help from other countries, the well was eventually plugged with cement on Aug 5.

We have 1000 barrels of oil in well's annulus.

There is 125 lites per barrel, so we have 125 cubic metres of oil stuck in the annulus.

This is such a threat to the environment, the gulf, national safety and the economic recovery that at the minimum a 4-star general should be appointed to head up the watch-and-wait operation!
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2010
@Loodt

The mere mention of 1K barrels of oil being trapped in the annulus is troublesome, to any one who understands how the technology works.

There shouldn't be any more than a few trace SMEARS of oil in the damned annulus after the well was "killed". The presence of this oil could just as well be indicating that the well hasn't been "killed" at all...

I understand the sarcasm, but it plays out more as snark, under the circumstances.