UPDATE 1-BP’s Gulf well test could exceed 48 hours-BP exec

* Well pressure test could exceed 48 hours

* Pressure rising slowly
(Updates with detail, quotes)

HOUSTON, July 17 (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)

UPDATE 1-BP’s Gulf well test could exceed 48 hours-BP exec