Macondo pressure test due before relief well resumes

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Aug. 11 -- BP PLC plans another test on the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico to gain more information about the condition of the annulus before penetration by a relief well. Drilling of the relief well is on hold pending the passage of a storm.

The test is intended to help BP determine whether the annulus is connected to the reservoir. During a static kill procedure, BP pumped heavy drilling mud and then cement into the casing from the top of the well (OGJ, Aug. 9, 2010, p. 27).

During the static kill, BP pumped 200 bbl of cement out of the casing. Now, BP is trying to determine if the cement went into both the reservoir and the annulus. National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said it’s possible the cement went into the reservoir and up into the annulus, plugging it.

“The indications are…that the casing has been filled with cement down at that level, but we will not be sure of that until we finish the pressure checks,” Allen said. It’s possible the relief well might require drilling only into the annulus and not into the casing.

Since the static kill, BP has held pressure in the capping stack installed July 15 atop the blowout preventer at about 4,200 psi, Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president, told reporters in an Aug. 10 technical briefing.

“It's been holding relatively constant with the exception of the pressure we lose because of the bubbles that are coming out of the capping stack,” Wells said. “We lose a little bit of pressure each hour, but it's been very constant.” No anomalies have been detected.

The relief well was put on hold on Aug. 10 until a storm system off Florida passes through the gulf (OGJ Online, Aug. 10, 2010).

“We're actually going to take the pressure on the stacking cap down,” Wells said. “We'll take it down somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 psi. And as opposed to—I'll call it getting it to hold pressure on (top of it), we'll be looking to test it from the bottom.”

The test is intended to confirm that the cement put in the casing during the static kill is completely isolated. The test also potentially could provide “some indication on what pressure we might see when we drill into the annulus, might give us some indication on what fluids might be in there, whether it be mud or hydrocarbon,” Wells said.

The test is expected to take 4-5 hr. The results will be evaluated for any information helpful in planning the relief well, he said. The first relief well is being drilled by Transocean Ltd.’s Development Driller III semisubmersible. It was at 17,909 ft measured depth, Wells said.

“That’s some 50 ft outside of the last string of casing,” Wells said. “We’ve got another 50 ft to drill before our planned intersect could happen. Of course, as you start to get this close to the well, you could intersect at any point.”

Once the storm passes, Wells estimates it will take 24 hr to resume drilling. Crews will have to remove a storm packer and empty the riser of seawater loaded for stability during the storm.

The DDIII was expected to remain attached to the riser during the storm.

Flow rate estimated
In other developments, the Flow Rate Technical Group, a group of scientists assembled to estimate output of the blown out well, estimate that 53,000 b/d, plus or minus 10%, leaked from BP’s well immediately preceding its closure via the capping stack, federal officials said Aug. 2.

Recent measurements and modeling also show that, as a result of depletion of the hydrocarbon reservoir, the daily flow rate decreased over the 87 days before the well’s closure. Based on these measurements and modeling, the scientific teams estimate that, at the beginning of the spill, 62,000 b/d of oil leaked from the well.

Overall, the scientific teams estimated 4.9 million bbl of oil was released from the well althought not all of this went into the gulf. Containment efforts captured 800,000 bbl. BP was not part of the flow rate group. 

“One of the challenges we had was starting with two-dimensional video and…trying to understand what constituted that column of material that was coming out,” Allen said. “It depends on how the reservoir is made up, and how much gas comes forward in relation to the oil that's in the well. And it comes up in different ratios.”

The flow-rate team eventually received high-resolution video to help establish the constituents of the flow for a refined flow rate estimate, he said. Acoustical testing done by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute also provided data.

In addition, a mass balance group within the team looked at the oil on the surface and tried to determine what that indicated in terms of flow rate. “We actually used some very sophisticated sensors from NASA that were actually able to look at reflectivity of the oil vs. the water,” which helped determine the thickness of the oil, Allen said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

BOEM schedules public meetings about draft proposed 5-year OCS plan

02/06/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings in Washington on Feb. 9 to receive public comments on potential ...

Union strike ongoing at US refineries as negotiations continue

02/06/2015 A strike by union workers at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants remains under way as the United Steelworkers Union (USW) continue...

AOPL releases 2015 safety performance and strategic planning report

02/06/2015 The Association of Oil Pipe Lines is committed to further improvements despite a 99.99% safe petroleum liquids delivery rate, AOPL Pres. and Chief ...

Congressional Republicans renew bid to halt sue-and-settle maneuvers

02/05/2015 Calling it an affront to regulatory accountability that results in unchecked compliance burdens, US Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and US Rep. D...

Goodlatte reintroduces bills to repeal, reform RFS

02/05/2015 Calling it “a true ‘kitchen table’ issue,” US Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reintroduced a pair of bills to address problems in the federal Renewable ...

Alberta’s premier seeks more North American energy integration

02/05/2015 Better policy integration and cooperation will be needed for Canada, Mexico, and the US to fully realize the North American energy renaissance’s po...

BP trims capital budget by $4-6 billion

02/03/2015 BP PLC plans an organic capital expenditure of $20 billion in 2015, down from the previous guidance $24-26 billion. Total organic capital expenditu...

EPA suggests DOS reconsider Keystone XL climate impact conclusions

02/03/2015 The US Department of State might want to reconsider its conclusions regarding potential climate impacts from the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pip...

Kerry expects to receive other agencies’ Keystone XL reports soon

02/02/2015 US Sec. of State John F. Kerry said he expects to receive other federal agencies and departments’ reports soon on the proposed Keystone XL crude oi...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

When Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected