OGJ Senior Staff Writer
HOUSTON, Aug. 23 -- BP PLC has found three pieces of pipe inside the Macondo well with the largest piece being an estimated 3,000 ft long and hanging suspended from Transocean Ltd.’s failed Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible’s blowout preventer, a federal spill response spokesman said.
National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said a second pipe, estimated at 40 ft, is parallel to the longer pipe and a third pipe, estimated at 1 ft, is crosswise within the BOP.
Engineers and scientists are running tests to determine the position of the rams within the BOP and to determine the best way to remove the pipes, Allen told reporters during an Aug. 23 briefing.
In addition, engineers and scientists are reviewing BP’s suggested procedures for removing the capping stack from the Macondo wellhead and for replacing the Deepwater Horizon BOP on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico.
An Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well caused an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people. The semi sank on Apr. 22.
BP started its fishing operation to find the pipes on Aug. 21 following a 48-hr ambient pressure test that confirmed the blown-out Macondo well remains shut in by cement pumped into it from the top. The well has been shut in since July 15 (OGJ Online, Aug. 20, 2010).
Allen said a stronger BOP needs to be put on Macondo before the first relief well, which is being drilled by the Development Driller III, can be completed to assure that the well has been killed from the bottom.
BP plans to replace the Deepwater Horizon BOP with a BOP from Transocean’s Development Driller II, which started a second relief well that has since been put on hold.
Allen estimates the Development Driller III relief well could intercept the Macondo well the week after Labor Day, assuming a planned sequence of events goes smoothly without weather delays.
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