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July 14, 2010

BP delays start of well integrity tests

BP has delayed the start of a planned integrity test on the leaking Deepwater Horizon well.

That meant that oil continued to spew from valves in the new, tighter containment cap atop the well. When integrity testing begins, those valves will be closed progressively. The reason for caution is that sealing off the well could cause an even less controllable blow out in any unstable area around the well bore.

The hold-off came after National Incident Commander Thad Allen met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and his team of scientific and industry experts and announced that additional analysis of the well testing procedure should be performed before starting the well integrity test. That analysis was being conducted last night and is continuing into today. It includes an analysis of a seismic mapping run made around the well site yesterday morning.

During this period, BP will continue to ramp up containment operations on the Helix Producer as well as continue to optimize the Q4000 operations. The Helix Producer has the capacity to capture approximately 20,000 25,000 barrels of oil per day. Historically, the Q4000 has flared an average of approximately 8,000 barrels of oil per day.

BP cautions that the sealing cap system, the Q4000 system, the flexible riser system, and the planned additional containment systems never before have been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and their efficiency and ability to contain or flare the oil and gas cannot be assured.

Operations continue on the first relief well. Operations on the second relief well have been temporarily suspended at 15,963 feet to ensure that there is no interference with the first relief well. The relief wells remain the sole means to permanently seal and isolate the well.


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