BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - the Testing Continues - and Open Thread
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At this morning's press briefing, Kent Wells of BP reported that pressures have now reached 6,745 psi, and are building at about 2 psi per hour. BP is estimating ultimate pressure will be around 6,800 psi. While this is not as high as originally expected, there are several reasonable explanations for this lower pressure reading, including the possibility that the well is now somewhat depleted, and therefore has lower pressure.
BP seems to be encouraged by the results. Mr. Wells said several times, "We are encouraged that we have integrity," and "We find no evidence of lack of integrity."
Mr. Wells did, however, mention that bubbles have been found on the 36" casing. This is the first (upper-most) casing installed, and Mr. Wells indicated that such an occurrence at this level is quite common. He felt that these bubbles were probably from the system cooling down, but, "out of an overabundance of caution," BP is taking samples of the bubbles, to make certain that they do not indicate a problem.
Other monitoring is continuing as well. This includes two seismic runs a day.
About mid-day today, the testing period will reach the 48 hour milestone. At that point, a decision will be made as to what to do next -- continue the testing; leave the well closed for a period until the containment devices up above and new riser can be fully installed; or stop the test and let part of the hydrocarbons back out into the water, until new containment capacity is fully installed, (or some other choice). The decision as to what will be done will be made by Admiral Allen, not BP.
Mr. Wells also reported that they are feeling good about how relief well 1 is lining up with the original well. It is now 4.8 feet away and at a 1.9 degree angle. BP now expects to need to drill an additional 24 feet. Regarding timing, BP is on target to make the intersection by the end of July. The kill procedure will take between a few days and a few weeks, and will extend the overall timetable into August.