The Tonka Report

Real News In A Changing World

BP Continues With Relief Well – The Needle And The Damage Done

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August 14, 2010: Bettina Boxall / The Los Angeles Times – August 14, 2010

Although BP‘s troubled well in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be plugged from the top and bottom, the federal spill commander said Friday that government and company officials have agreed that a relief well should be completed to ensure a permanent seal.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen raised the possibility Thursday that last week’s “static kill” operation, in which the well’s inner casing was jammed with cement, might have made that final step unnecessary. A four-hour pressure test was conducted to determine whether oil was still flowing freely from a deep reservoir into the outer ring of the well bore. The readings indicated the flow had been blocked by last week’s cementing. “We have sealed the well at this point,” Allen said Friday.

But engineers can’t tell whether that bottom plug of the outer ring, called the annulus, is good and solid, or thin and flimsy. So they are not yet declaring victory over a well that caused one of the world’s largest oil spills, shut down a third of federal waters in the gulf to fishing and wiped out much of the region’s summer tourist season.

“Everybody is in agreement we need to proceed with the relief well. The question is how to do that,” Allen said after consulting with the head of BP and the secretaries of Energy and the Interior. Work on two relief wells, which must travel more than two miles to reach their target, began in May.

Paradoxically, the success of the static kill has complicated the final phase of the relief-well maneuver. “We probably did too good a job,” Allen said. Not only did the static kill stuff the well’s casing with dense mud and cement, it seems to have forced cement down into the oil reservoir and back up into the base of the annulus. That has trapped what BP estimates to be 1,000 barrels of oil between the bottom and the top cap.

Scientists are worried that when the relief well pours more mud and cement into the bottom to thoroughly seal it, the increased pressure could force the trapped oil upward, perhaps damaging the capping apparatus, or downward, breaking the bottom seal. “What we don’t want to do is somehow upset what we’ve already done,” Allen said.

Engineers spent Friday debating how to proceed with the relief well without creating new problems. It is possible, Allen said, that they could devise some way of diffusing a pressure buildup. They may even consider installation of a new blowout preventer on the wellhead. “It remains a work in progress. We’re trying to assess the options we have,” Allen said. Once he issues the order to resume the relief-well operation, Allen said, it will be four days before the drill gnaws through the final 50 feet and into the damaged well. That timetable could change if extra measures are taken to guard against pressure problems.

Engineers also want to be careful to preserve the condition of the blowout preventer, which will be removed and examined as part of the investigation of the April 20 explosion that ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers. It’s estimated that 205.8 million gallons of oil escaped from the crippled well before it was capped with a temporary fix July 15.

Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reopened more than 5,000 square miles off Florida to commercial and recreational fishing. At the peak of the fishing bans, NOAA had closed 37% of federal gulf waters, an area encompassing more than 88,000 square miles. Now, about 22% remains closed.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: And of course we all know that we can trust NOAA’s scientific integrity about as much as BP or this fascist US government… RIGHT?! Here’s a recap of just the past week– SJH

We Found Their Missing Oil & Corexit Filled Blue Crabs (VIDEO) – August 7, 2010

ROV On BOP Inspection Films New Leaking Pipe (VIDEO) – August 10, 2010

Black Blobs Streaming From Seafloor (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Seepage Of Methane Hydrates Continues To Increase (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Non-Stop Black Seepage From Spot Nearby Opening In Seafloor (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

More Oil Washes Up In Gulf Shores, Alabama (VIDEO) – August 11, 2010

Clean-up Worker Sprayed With Corexit, Leg Swells Like Balloon (VIDEO) – August 12, 2010

Tar Balls And Massive Fish Kills In Northeast (VIDEO) – August 12, 2010

Dead Fish Are Washing Up Everywhere (VIDEO) – August 13, 2010

CNN: Plumes Of Oil “Resting On Bottom” Hit Gulf Beaches (VIDEO) – August 14, 2010

Link to original article below…

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  1. No one is so powerful that they can stop the march of time…
    And so it is happening – that which was predicated, foretold by those with commonsense – those who were living through the horror known as the Deep Water Horizon Disaster. The oil was spewing forth and the government and BP were trying to hide the amount by dispersing it with COREXIT.

    You cannot pour on, spray onto or disperse the oil without creating an even bigger ecological disaster.


    August 15, 2010 at 1:29 am

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