Progress in the Gulf?

Bruce Thompson
The flow of information from BP and the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command has been less than transparent, but the website The Oil Drum has lots of information that offers some much needed hope to residents of the Gulf States.

The Man in Charge

The man in charge is John Wright of the John Wright Company, a part of Boot & Coots International, the successor the Red Adair's company .  Mr. Wright reports that his firm has successfully used relief wells to control 40 out of 40 wild wells.

How the Relief Well will be Drilled

BP's Kent Wells has put out a video of the process of drilling the relief wells. The Oil Drum's contributor "Heading Out" has a terrific post on how the Macondo #3 relief well (RW) will be interconnected to Macondo #1, the WW (Wild Well).

Plugging the Damn Hole

In a follow-on post today, Heading Out makes the following statement

Once the wave action drops below about 3 - 5 ft then the cap on the well will be replaced. They have to undo 24 bolts to do this and that will need almost a calm sea to get the old riser end off the well, and the new cap in place - since it has to be lowered into place from a ship on the surface. Once the new cap is in place, the risers for additional collection are also available for hook-up. The new connections already in place will also allow the vents on top of the existing cap to be closed, at least partially, as oil and gas are diverted to the Helix Producer. (The decision has to be approved by Secretaries Salazar and Chu, however, before it can be implemented.)

One thing that I think is worth mentioning over the change in cap designs is that the new cap seals at the BOP. Thus when the mud starts to flow into the well from the bottom, it will also flow up the riser pipes toward the surface. Thus the additional gain in pressure from that height of a mile of mud - over the seawater pressure at present - will act to help raise the pressure at the bottom of the well and kill it.

If he is right that the new cap will be sealed at the BOP sufficiently tightly to support 5,000 feet of drilling mud, then the leak will be restricted to the flow into the ships on the surface, not into the Gulf. That will be a welcome relief to the people living by the Gulf. The installation of the new cap will help deal with one of the most important distinctions between this blowout and the other 40 that Mr. Wright has dealt with, the 5000 foot difference in elevation between the wellheads of the wild well and the relief well. With his background of success and the ability to both contain the leak and to hydrostatically balance the relief and wild wells, the chances for plugging the leak look much better. Let us all wish Mr. Wright the best of luck.
The flow of information from BP and the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command has been less than transparent, but the website The Oil Drum has lots of information that offers some much needed hope to residents of the Gulf States.

The Man in Charge

The man in charge is John Wright of the John Wright Company, a part of Boot & Coots International, the successor the Red Adair's company .  Mr. Wright reports that his firm has successfully used relief wells to control 40 out of 40 wild wells.

How the Relief Well will be Drilled

BP's Kent Wells has put out a video of the process of drilling the relief wells. The Oil Drum's contributor "Heading Out" has a terrific post on how the Macondo #3 relief well (RW) will be interconnected to Macondo #1, the WW (Wild Well).

Plugging the Damn Hole

In a follow-on post today, Heading Out makes the following statement

Once the wave action drops below about 3 - 5 ft then the cap on the well will be replaced. They have to undo 24 bolts to do this and that will need almost a calm sea to get the old riser end off the well, and the new cap in place - since it has to be lowered into place from a ship on the surface. Once the new cap is in place, the risers for additional collection are also available for hook-up. The new connections already in place will also allow the vents on top of the existing cap to be closed, at least partially, as oil and gas are diverted to the Helix Producer. (The decision has to be approved by Secretaries Salazar and Chu, however, before it can be implemented.)

One thing that I think is worth mentioning over the change in cap designs is that the new cap seals at the BOP. Thus when the mud starts to flow into the well from the bottom, it will also flow up the riser pipes toward the surface. Thus the additional gain in pressure from that height of a mile of mud - over the seawater pressure at present - will act to help raise the pressure at the bottom of the well and kill it.

If he is right that the new cap will be sealed at the BOP sufficiently tightly to support 5,000 feet of drilling mud, then the leak will be restricted to the flow into the ships on the surface, not into the Gulf. That will be a welcome relief to the people living by the Gulf. The installation of the new cap will help deal with one of the most important distinctions between this blowout and the other 40 that Mr. Wright has dealt with, the 5000 foot difference in elevation between the wellheads of the wild well and the relief well. With his background of success and the ability to both contain the leak and to hydrostatically balance the relief and wild wells, the chances for plugging the leak look much better. Let us all wish Mr. Wright the best of luck.