Monday, August 9, 2010

Gulf Update: Day 112

News Alert: BP: Tests clear way for relief well

03:18 PM EDT Sunday, August 8, 2010

BP says pressure tests indicate the cement plug forced into blown-out gulf well has hardened and is firmly in place, clearing the way for drilling of the relief well to resume. The company did not say when it would begin drilling the final 100 feet of the well, though BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells has said it should resume Sunday night.

Once the relief well intersects the broken well, more mud and cement will be pumped in for the "bottom kill" meant to seal the well for good.


BP wraps up Macondo Cementing

BY: Noah Brenner, Anthea Pitt & Tan Hwee Hwee
05 August 2010 03:17 GMT

BP finished pumping cement to seal the Macondo blowout about 2:15 pm local time Thursday after receiving the green light from the head of US Gulf spill response team.

Retired US Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen, who is heading the US Gulf spill response team, called the successful cement job “a major step forward” in a briefing with reporters Friday.

Allen OK’ed the decision to cement the well from the top after engineers determined that it would not harm the integrity of the well and would help make the eventual bottom kill through the relief well more effective.

“This is not the end but it will virtually assure us there will be no more oil leaking into the environment,” Allen told reporters during a briefing Thursday.

Allen spent Wednesday in Houston conferring with federal and BP engineers.

He said much of the discussion revolved around whether the drill pipe, which remains in at least some portion of the well casing, was intact, and how it would affect the cement job.

BP began cementing at about 830 am local time Thursday.

It came after a successful static top kill operation that was wrapped up on Wednesday.

Crews on the Helix Energy Solutions semi-submersible platform pumped 13.2-pound mud at about five barrels per minute over about eight hours until the hydrostatic pressure of the mud pushed the oil back into the reservoir.

Though it is not expected that any more oil will leak out of Macondo into the Gulf, Allen has been reluctant to dub well officially “killed” until the first relief well intercepts the bore and kills it from the bottom as well.

“This will not be done until we complete the bottom kill,” he said.

Drilling on the well was stopped during the kill and cement operations but likely will restart Friday after the cement in the well has cured at least partially, Allen said.

Crews on the Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller 3 have already back into the bore with a drill string and are at a cement shoe placed in the bottom of the final casing string.

After testing the blowout preventer, the rig needs to drill through the cement shoe before continuing down hole.

It will take about five days to drill the final length because the rig will stop about every 25 feet to locate Macondo and make sure the relief well is on target.

Once it intercepts the Macondo bore, crews will either verify that the well was successfully cemented and killed through the top kill or will proceed with a bottom kill and final cement job.

Transocean said Thursday that after that final operation, it plans to carry out subsea tests of the blowout preventer to pinpoint any malfunctions.

It will then pull the massive unit off the sea floor and take it ashore for further “forensic tests.”

The operation is expected to happen later next month or into October, the company said on a conference call Thursday.