The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Checking the Well's Integrity

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 13, 2010

Using painstaking care, BP engineers are conducting tests that could determine whether a new cap can stop the flow of oil from the leaking Macondo well.

The new cap, called a 3 ram capping stack, contains three valves that can close and effectively stop the flow of oil. But before the device can be fully deployed, engineers say they must check in the integrity of the well.

bp testing.jpg

Image Source: BP

In a process that could take a few hours or a couple of days, BP will slowly reduce the flow of oil and natural gas and monitor the pressure buildup inside the well. "Higher pressures are good news," said Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer. Low pressures could mean that the well is damaged below the seafloor, making the cap ineffective.

"Everybody hope and pray that we see high pressures here," BP senior vice president Kent Wells said in a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters. "Bear with us. Let's do this test." (Washington Post)

If the tests show the wellbore has not been compromised, BP can shut in the well and stop the flow of oil. The well will not be killed officially, however, until a relief well intercepts the wellbore and pumps in drilling mud and cement to close the well permanently.

BP will provide an update on the testing process today at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern) for the media and the public at 877-341-5824.

To see how the new cap was installed, check out the video here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.