Reporting from Washington and Atlanta — BP lowered a new, tight-fitting containment cap over its renegade well in the Gulf of Mexico late Monday, which may give the company the ability to shut off the flow of oil completely if tests show that the well is in good enough structural shape to be bottled up at the top.
[quote=LA Times article]Once the cap is in place, the company will “close in,” or seal off, the well to prevent any oil from escaping. Then, in a process that could take six to 48 hours or longer, tests of the pressure inside the well will be conducted and analyzed by BP and government experts.
If the pressure is high, it probably means that the deep well beneath the ocean floor is in good shape. “At that point, we would be able to leave the well shut in,” Suttles said.
If the pressure is found to be low, it could indicate that there is a problem with the integrity of the well — a concern government and other experts have expressed since at least May.
(Deep breath) Let’s pray and cross our fingers that this works. There is still the potential of hydrate crystals forming, which compromised the effectiveness of the previous cap.
The relief wells being drilled are expected to work on a more permanent fix, starting in mid-August.
Update: the pressure test has been delayed, pending further analysis of the situation.
BP Vice-President Kent Wells said no promises could be made about whether the new cap would work.
“It’s not simple stuff. What we don’t want to do is speculate around it,” he said.
I hope it works. It’s hard to believe BP did not have a back up plan. The blowout preventer would not have worked even if the battery did. I think the President has shown poor leadership and management of the whole situation.
The pressure test is moving ahead, after a smaller leak was fixed.
BP Plc said it will begin a pressure test of its gushing Gulf of Mexico well after fixing a leak that erupted while it was shutting off oil flow with a new containment cap.
The leak was detected in a “choke line” leading from the stack of valves that makes up the cap installed July 12 on the Macondo well, BP said in a statement yesterday. BP said the leak had been “isolated” and was being repaired.
Some of the flow of oil has been temporarily stopped after the company shut the top valve on the cap. London-based BP said it will gradually close all the valves to raise the pressure inside the well in six-hour intervals. The test will determine whether the containment cap can remain sealed without causing the well to burst open elsewhere.
The test is expected to take 48 hours.