BP may not need relief well: Government

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON (BestGrowthStock) – BP Plc may not need a relief well to drill into the bottom of its ruptured Gulf of Mexico well if a test shows that cement poured in from the top last week killed the leak, the top official overseeing the spill response said on Thursday.

The test could indicate BP already cleared the last hurdle to terminate the source of the world’s worst offshore oil spill, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters.

“A bottom kill finishes this well. The question is, has it already been accomplished through the static kill,” he said.

The relief well is only about 45 feet from reaching BP’s Macondo well after having already drilled through 12,900 feet of the seabed.

Earlier on Thursday BP resumed preparations to finish drilling the relief well. Drilling had been suspended because of a tropical depression in the Gulf.

The biggest U.S. environmental response operation passed a critical milestone last week with what is known as a static kill — smothering oil and gas in the deepwater well with heavy drilling mud, followed by a cement seal.

The Macondo well, a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico, was provisionally capped on July 15 after spewing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The disaster oiled marshlands, fisheries and tourist beaches along several hundreds of miles (kilometers) of the Gulf Coast, and vaporized more than a third of BP’s market value.

Allen has consistently called the relief well the final solution to plug the well.

This week he said cement injected into pipe in the Macondo well may have done the job. A pressure test BP started on Thursday should help scientists figure that out, he said.

A pressure rise could indicate oil is still flowing in the inches between the pipe and the surrounding rock layers, Allen said. That would mean the relief well needs to bore into that space and inject mud and cement to finish the kill, he said.

Unchanged pressure could indicate oil is there — up to 1,000 barrels — but it is stagnant because the cement sealed off that space from the reservoir as well, Allen said.

“If the cement’s already there, it would obviate the need to do the bottom kill,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Bill Trott)

BP may not need relief well: Government