Shut-in Fever

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A few days ago, out of the carefully managed flow of hard information regarding all matters of the Gulf Gusher, came the sudden announcement of the “well integrity test”. This procedure would slowly close valves and vents on the newly replaced riser cap thereby “shutting-in” the well. Everyone sane person on the planet wants that gusher stopped, yet there have been constant warnings about the fragile condition of the well bore. Is it up to sustaining the pressure levels associated with a shut-in? Why risk it when the relief wells/kill bores are so close to intercept?

But Authorities decided they had an itch and an edge and rolled some lucky dice. The valves closed and for a full day now the gusher has been stopped, while the careful measurements of this well integrity “test” proceed. Pressures are less than favorable so far, yet not said to be particularly scary either. For now.

And so BP gets their headline: “Gushing Well Finally Capped”, and so forth, in papers and on websites worldwide.

Of course, whatever pressures that may reach out from deep inside the beleaguered Macondo well are surely dwarfed by the political pressure to keep those valves closed, and turn this “test” into a remedy. Indeed, you already see the media skipping the “test” characterization.

Experts caution that conditions may compel opening up the valves again, and urge that more monitoring time is needed, especially since the observed well pressures are lower than expected. And I think they will get their wish, though not because of any Official desire for additional data collection. Those valves will stay closed because a closed well today has been deemed worth the risk of a downhole blowout tomorrow: the bet has been placed. Perhaps one day we’ll learn who made it.


Written by nullsequence

July 17, 2010 at 5:40 am

Posted in news

Tagged with ,

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