Factbox: BP’s next steps on killing Gulf leak

LONDON/NEW ORLEANS (BestGrowthStock) – With a new cap installed on its gushing Macondo wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, BP aimed to test pressures in the well in hopes of containing all the leaking crude.

The test will last six to 48 hours, and two oil-capture vessels will be shut down in the interim.

Here is how BP aims to proceed, according to BP’s written plan and Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president of exploration and production, as well as future plans.

NEW CAP INSTALLED

* On July 12, BP installed a new 160,000-pound (73 tonne) “capping stack” on the wellhead of the deep-sea gusher.

* If the cap and seal work as designed, there should be no more crude leaking from the top of the failed blowout preventer equipment.

* BP has another cap similar to the one that was removed at the seabed to place atop the leak if the new cap and seal do not work.

THE INTEGRITY TEST

* On Tuesday, BP will launch an integrity test to gauge pressures in the blown-out Macondo well to determine its integrity.

* Newly gathered seismic data at and near the leak will help determine if any oil and gas have leaked out the sides of the Macondo well.

* High pressures will indicate the wellbore is intact after the April 20 blowout. Low pressures will be a sign oil and gas are leaking from the wellbore sides, which could complicate efforts to kill the leak.

* If the integrity test results are positive, the cap could shut off the flow until a relief well intercepts the Macondo well and permanently plugs the leak.

OIL-CAPTURE VESSELS SHUTTING DOWN FOR TEST

* BP will was shutting down two oil-capture vessels for the duration of the Macondo well integrity test.

* On July 12 BP started up one of those vessels, a rig called the Helix Producer, that can collect up to 25,000 barrels a day.

* Another rig — the Q4000, installed on June 16 — collects and burns off an average of 8,000 barrels of oil per day.

MORE HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

* The cap switch and ramp-up of the Helix Producer are two crucial steps to installing a four-vessel oil-capture system that is hurricane ready.

* By the end of July, the Toisa Pisces, a well-testing ship revamped to process up to 25,000 barrels a day, will replace the Q4000.

* Transocean Ltd’s Discoverer Enterprise, which had collected crude via the containment cap removed on July 10, and a second drillship, Transocean’s Discoverer Clear Leader, will each be connected to the new cap and seal.

* The four vessels will have a combined capacity of up to 80,000 barrels a day and can disconnect quickly to move out of a hurricane’s path.

* The well integrity test will show whether the new cap can shut off the leak if vessels must disconnect, preventing crude from gushing unchecked until they reconnect.

THE RELIEF WELLS

* Drilling continues on two relief wells intended to intercept the well and plug the leak at a substantial depth below the seabed.

* The first well was 12,840 feet beneath the seabed on July 13, or 160 feet from the bottom of the blown-out well.

* BP expected to drill into the stricken well once the optimal target is found by the end of July.

* Plugging the leak could take until mid-August, depending on how deep the relief well must bore into the stricken well and how many times BP must pump in heavy drilling fluid and cement.

* The second relief well, a backup to the first relief well, had bored 10,961 feet beneath the seabed by July 13.

* The second relief well had suspended drilling to avoid interfering with the first relief well’s use of sensors to find the right intercept target.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston; editing by Mohammad Zargham and Jerry Norton)

Factbox: BP’s next steps on killing Gulf leak