BP doing Macondo well diagnostics, more fishing

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Sept. 8 -- Part of the plugging and abandonment (P&A) process for BP PLC’s deepwater Macondo well could be done in conjunction with completion of the relief well to permanently seal the well from both the top and the bottom, a federal spokesman said Sept. 8.

National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said scientists and engineers were doing more diagnostics and also planned more “fishing” operations on the Macondo well to better understand the status of “pipe down in the well.”

“There is no threat of discharge from the well,” Allen said. “The more we know about this event in general, the better off we are.”

Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible’s failed blowout preventer stack has been retrieved and is on the Helix Q4000 multiservice vessel on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. Allen said the BOP has been separated from the lower marine riser package.

Allen said he expected the Q4000 vessel would start moving closer to shore within 24 hr, adding that the BOP is under jurisdiction of US Department of Justice representatives overseeing investigations into the cause of the Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well, which resulted in a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people.

Scientists are studying the timing of when BP will put more cement into the well from the top using Transocean’s Development Driller II semi, which is latched onto a fully functioning BOP that was installed on the Macondo wellhead (OGJ Online, Sept. 5, 2010).

Cementing the well again from the top would be part of the P&A process, Allen said. Depending on how long the diagnostics and fishing operations take, Allen said this could be done possibly starting as early as Sept. 18 although he also said that it might not start until Sept. 28. BP previously put cement into the well from the top during a “static kill” procedure.

Allen expects a two-step process in which first the Development Driller II puts cement into the top of the well and then the Development Driller III semi completes the relief well to kill the Macondo well by injecting cement into the bottom of the well.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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