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July 19, 2010

BP keeps Macondo well shut in, at least for now

BP is being allowed to keep the Macondo well shut in, at least for now, although there are some concerns about a "detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head" among other things. Those issues were among issues raised in a letter sent yesterday by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley.

Today, Admiral Allen gave BP permission to continue its well integrity test (during which the well is shut in) for 24 hours.

A statement from him said:

Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations.

Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team.

I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed."

In a statement today, BP said that the pressure inside the well recently has been measured at approximately 6,792 pounds per square inch and continues to rise slowly and that extensive monitoring activities are being carried out around the well site.

"Information gathered during the test is being reviewed with the government agencies, including the Federal Science Team, to determine next steps," said BP. "Depending upon the results of the test and monitoring activities, these steps may include extending the well integrity test or returning to containment options.

"Should the test conclude, the Q4000 is expected to resume capturing and flaring oil and gas through the existing system. It has been capturing and flaring an average of 8,000 barrels a day (b/d) of oil in recent weeks. The Helix Producer also is expected to be available to resume capturing oil and flaring gas through the recently installed floating riser system. It has the capacity to capture approximately 20,000 - 25,000 b/d of oil.

"Plans continue for additional containment capacity and flexibility that are expected to ultimately increase recoverable oil volumes to 60,000-80,000 b/d."


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