UPDATE 1-BP delays pressure test on blown-out Gulf oil well

HOUSTON, July 13 Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:29pm EDT

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HOUSTON, July 13 (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) (BP.N) delayed a critical test to determine how to proceed with a cap on its blown-out oil well intended to block the flow of oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 12 weeks, U.S. authorities announced on Tuesday.

The energy giant is postponing the test to establish whether the well can withstand the pressure caused by closing the cap on top of the ruptured wellhead.

"We decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight and tomorrow," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the U.S. response to the spill, said in a statement.

The test, due to last between six and 48 hours, was originally scheduled for late Tuesday on BP's newly installed "capping stack," which has a better seal than the last cap placed on the well and aims to stop oil from spewing out of the failed blowout preventer.

Regardless of the test results, BP should be able to contain the blown-out well's flow with oil-siphoning vessels by mid-July, Allen said earlier. [ID:nN13249161]

The only proven way to permanently kill the leak lies in the drilling of relief wells to intercept the ruptured one. The first of two such wells started in May is expected to intercept it by the end of July and plug it with drilling mud and cement by mid-August. (Reporting by Chris Baltimore; editing by Chris Wilson)

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Comments (2)
BatLizard420 wrote:
I’m feeling pretty good – I got day 92 in the office pool.

Jul 14, 2010 2:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
lakosh wrote:
This pressure testing is another risky BP short cut to save a few bucks that could produce an uncontrollable blowout below the BOP that would also threaten the success of the Bottom Kill operation. The success of the Bottom Kill may be dependent upon the ability to control pressure by maintaining a stable mud column and a leak from the well casing could make that impossible. BP should therefore maintain maximum oil capture from the BOP and Top Cap valves and only otherwise restrict the oil flow to prevent oil release directly into Gulf waters until they are ready to effectuate the Bottom Kill operation. The mud should then be injected all the way up to the Top Cap before they close the Top Cap valves and stop production to surface ships as this would put the least amount of pressure on the casing and well bore in the original well. The cementing job could then be safely conducted from the relief well without the threat of the mud and cement being lost through a leak in the original well bore. BP stopped the prior unsuccessful Top Kill operation specifically to prevent such a leak but now is perpetrating this scam to save money on continued production to the surface for another two weeks and to keep the government from precisely measuring the well output with total oil capture by the multiple surface ships that they and the President promised would happen by this week.

Jul 14, 2010 5:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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