BP reports progress with sealing cap installation

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, July 12 --
BP PLC, operator of the runaway Macondo well, removed the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap over the Deepwater Horizon’s failed blowout preventer and was installing a sealing cap assembly on June 12.

The sealing cap installation involves multiple stages, and BP estimates the process, which started on July 10, could take 4-7 days. The sealing cap is intended to increase oil and gas collection capacity. It’s expected to improve collection efficiency during hurricane season by allowing shorter disconnect and reconnect times,.

The sealing cap assembly also could help well kill and cementing procedures that will be part of the relief well operations. In addition, the sealing cap will enable testing of well integrity and, depending on pressure measurements, might be used to shut in the well.

The Helix Producer collection system was expected to begin operations within the next 24 hr (OGJ Online, July 9, 2010). The producer is a floating production unit, with a floating riser collection system. Once installed and the system is gradually ramped up, the Producer will collect an anticipated 20,000-25,000 b/d.

During July 10-11, BP fixed problems with a hydraulic system that operates a valve and then had to fix a leak in a methanol system.

An Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well caused a fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, killing 11 workers. On Apr. 22, the rig sank, and oil spill response crews have been working to stop an ongoing spill.

LMRP cap removed
Transocean’s Discoverer Enterprise drillship removed the LMRP cap at 12:40 p.m. CDT on July 10. Crews using remotely operated vehicles removed six bolts along with a flange from the LMRP. A transition spool was installed on an existing flange.

The transition spool is a connector allowing installation of a capping stack that has three closing rams. After the capping stack is installed, BP plans a well integrity test in which it plans to stop the flow of oil and gas from the top of the Macondo well while pressure within the well is measured.

The Helix Q4000 collection system continues to capture oil and gas from the MC252 well and flare the hydrocarbons at the surface. Plans also are being developed for additional containment capacity to increase capacity to 60,000-80,000 b/d by July 31.

Relief wells getting closer
Work on the first relief well, which started May 2, continues. The well being drilled by the Development Driller III reached a measured depth of 17,810 ft on July 11 and 10 ranging runs have been completed to precisely locate the Macondo well.

Following the running of casing and additional ranging runs, the relief well is intended to intercept the Macondo well at about 18,000 ft. Crews then will start the process of killing the flow of oil and gas from the reservoir by pumping specialized heavy fluids down the relief well.

A second relief well, which started May 16, has reached a measured depth of 15,874 ft, and crews prepared to set casing. After that, drilling on the second relief well will be stopped unless crews run into problems with the first relief well, said Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president of exploration and production.

The first half of August remains the current estimate of the most likely date by which the first relief well will be completed, he said. 

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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