BP Well Test Delayed

SUBHEAD: A pressure buildup might damage the well bore and exacerbate the problems gushing from it. Image above: A 40 foot high Blowout Preventor, aboard ship, like the one used on the BP Macondo well drilled by TransOcean with the Deepwater Horizon rig. From (http://westengineer.com/capabilities.htm). By Matthew Wild on 14 July 2010 in Peak Generation - (http://peakgeneration.blogspot.com/2010/07/gulf-of-mexico-well-test-delayed.html) BP has postponed critical pressure testing on its runaway Gulf of Mexico well, pending further investigation. A new 75-tonne containment cap had been fitted to the Macondo well Monday, which is gushing an estimated 60,000 barrels of oil a day. Pressure tests were due to have begun Tuesday, and run for up to 48 hours. This testing was to involve gradually choking the oil flow, aiming to shut off the flow of oil into the Gulf for the first time in three months – while watching pressure build up in the wellbore. Low pressure would indicate leaks, while high pressure would show it holding up. If successful, it would hold the flow of oil until the relief wells could cement the well. According to Associated Press, engineers spent most of Tuesday conducting a seismic survey, creating a map of the rock under the sea floor to spot potential dangers. It was unclear whether there was something in the results of the mapping that prompted officials to delay testing. An item in today’s New York Times, headlined Oil Still Spilling as Well Test Is Delayed, states:
The test would shut the well by closing off valves on a tight-sealing cap that was installed at the wellhead, 5,000 feet down and a few miles from this Coast Guard cutter. But Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is overseeing the federal response to the spill, said in a statement on Tuesday evening, “We decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight and tomorrow.” The test, intended to determine whether the well is intact or has been damaged, could be delayed until Wednesday, Admiral Allen said. On its Web site, BP said in a statement that the test had been postponed after a meeting with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu “and his team of scientific and industry experts.”
A separate New York Times item, U.S. Delays Test of Device That Could Seal Gulf Well, suggests that the question is whether it is worth attempting to close a possibly compromised well a few weeks ahead of the relief well operation. It states:
A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well. “Some of this has been a topic of discussion for a long time,” said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. BP has said that the test will provide data to help in planning the relief well operation. But the technician said many relief wells had been successful without such information. “In my opinion, it’s not worth acquiring that data,” he said.
It is probably too early to speculate on whether BP is being excessively cautious – it wouldn’t want to come across any unexpected hitches after choking off the oil flow and then be in the position of having to open the valves again – or if this supports the theory that there is excessive damage to the well. Admiral Allen alluded to this possibility when discussing the decision to halt the original May 28 "top kill" attempt, saying: “We don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not.” Longtime peak oil writer Matthew Simmons has taken this idea further, claiming that insiders have told him that massive amounts of oil are pouring through BP’s fractured well and coming up at various points on the ocean floor, and that capping the gusher will be a long, drawn out process. His apocalyptical comments have made the headlines, while his words about the reality of peak oil have been somewhat skipped over – like his suggestion to CNN Money when asked what lessons should be learned from the BP spill:
“That oil peaked. The easy stuff is over. We have to continue drilling in shallow water, but we probably need to take a deep breath and step back.”
Simmons is the guy the media networks – if they have any teeth at all – will be scrambling to line up for an interview today, to raise some tension ahead of an anticipated announcement about the state of BP’s wellbore. .

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