(Editor's note: BP started pumping cement at 9:15 a.m. CDT on Aug. 5)
OGJ Senior Staff Writer
HOUSTON, Aug. 5 – BP PLC planned Aug. 5 to start cementing operations on the Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico well as part of the static kill procedure, which involves putting cement through the top of the deepwater well.
National Incident Commander and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen issued a statement late Aug. 4 saying he authorized BP to proceed with that option.
“I made it clear that implementation of this procedure shall in no way delay the completion of the relief well," Allen said. The relief well will permanently seal the reservoir at the bottom of the well.
Kent Wells, senior vice-president of exploration and production, said the Macondo well had been shut in for 20 days as of Aug. 4.
“So no oil has gone into the gulf for 20 days. It's very difficult for us to find any oil anywhere on the surface,” Wells said. “But I want to emphasize, BP remains committed to getting this well permanently sealed, cleaning up any pollution, and restoring the gulf coast.
Relief well plans
Transocean Ltd.’s Development Driller III is drilling the first relief well, which was put on hold during the static kill.
“We're very near the bottom with our drill string at this point,” Wells said. BP plans to test the blowout preventer on the Development Driller III before crews drill out a cement shoe that was placed in the casing.
“Then we'll be in position to drill out of the casing,” Wells said. “At that point, we'll need to do a leak-off test, run a cement bond log, and do our first ranging run to set ourselves up for the intersect. And, of course, we'll do that all in tandem with what's going on in terms of the static kill.”
During the static kill, BP pumped mud at 5 bbl/min for “a number of hours” to get the oil and gas back into the Macondo reservoir.
“And then as we got confident that we'd actually got the well into a static condition, we actually increased the rate up to 10 bbl/min, and then ultimately 15 bbl/min,” Wells said. “We did that to give ourselves confidence that, if we chose to go ahead with the cementing procedure that we could actually pump at higher rates, because that will give us a more effective cement job.”
BP injected about 2,300 bbl of mud. Wells said much of that mud actually was used to clean out the casing in preparation for the option of injecting cement through the top of the well. Allen later authorized the use of cement via the static kill procedure.
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