Gulf well test could exceed 48 hours: BP executive

HOUSTON (BestGrowthStock) – A critical test on BP Plc’s blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well could last beyond the original 48-hour deadline as pressure continued to rise very slowly, a company executive said on Saturday.

The pressure test is intended to show whether the blowout damaged the piping and cement inside the stricken well, which could allow oil and natural gas to leak out the sides and possibly breach the seabed.

The 48-hour mark originally touted as the end of the test loomed Saturday afternoon.

“There was always the provision that under certain circumstances the test could be extended,” said Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president of exploration and production. “The longer this test goes, the more confidence we have.”

Wells said there was no evidence of any leaks in the undersea well after the April 20 blowout that lead to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

He said BP was checking into bubbles coming out of a valve on piping at the very top of the well, which he called “quite normal” and could be nitrogen rather than natural gas leaking from below.

The test result should show whether a new cap installed July 12 atop the wellhead can keep all oil flow shut in for long periods of time, or whether a possible breach forces BP to resume funneling oil to vessels at the surface until a relief well intercepts and plugs the leak by mid-August.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays, editing by Doina Chiacu)

Gulf well test could exceed 48 hours: BP executive