Well integrity test shows BP's Macondo well holding steady

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, July 16 -- BP PLC reported an ongoing integrity test of the runaway Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico shows the well holding steady at 6,700 psi, and crews planned to run another seismic survey and also resume activities with the first relief well on July 16.

Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president of exploration and production, said, “The pressures so far are consistent with engineering work BP has done.” A scientific team, including industry experts, is analyzing the results every 6 hr.

The test, expected to continue for 48 hr, started at 2:25 p.m. CDT on July 15. The plan was to stop the test if transducers in a three-ram stack showed pressure readings of less than 6,000 psi. The ideal result would have been pressure readings of 8,000-9,000 psi, which would have indicated well integrity, Wells said.

“There are many different unknowns. There could be many different scenarios,” Wells told reporters when asked the meaning of the 6,700 psi reading. He noted that monitoring has indicated no signs of oil leaking from the sea floor.

All collection of oil and gas from Macondo has been stopped for the integrity test, which marked the first time since April that nothing was leaking into the gulf. A well blowout on Apr. 22 caused a fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig, killing 11 crew members and resulting in a massive oil spill.

“Today, we will run a second seismic survey,” Wells said on July 16, adding it will take about 24 hr to get the results. The seismic survey, being done by towing a streamer, will help determine any oil leaks outside the wellbore into reservoirs under the seabed.

Also on July 16, crews on Transocean’s Development Driller III plan to run an open-hole ranging run on the relief well and then to continue drilling activities. Drilling of the first relief well had been paused out of precaution during the start of the integrity test.

The second relief well remains on hold pending the results of the first relief well. The Development Driller II is drilling that second relief well.

If any leaks are detected or other problems develop, BP is ready to open valves on the three-ram stack and resume the collection of oil and gas. A lower marine riser package collection cap sits on the seabed to resume collection efforts. The gas collected has been burned. Oil collected on the Helix Q4000 multiservice vessel was burned while oil stored on the Helix Producer floating production unit eventually was taken to shore for processing.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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