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Seismic Studies Monitoring Seepage near Macondo Well

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 19, 2010

Engineers and government officials are watching the Gulf seabed closely today after seepage was discovered in the vicinity of the Macondo well.

In a letter sent by retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, BP was ordered to step up its monitoring of potential problems near the well, adding that a seep had been detected "a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head."

A seep could mean that the well is damaged and that oil and gas are finding new outlets for escape. At this writing, the well's cap is preventing oil and gas from rising through the wellbore and flowing into the water.

If it becomes necessary to reopen the well, the collection system could be restarted. BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles has said that the company hopes to keep the well shut-in until a relief well could permanently close it.

"No one wants to see oil flowing back into the sea," Suttles said. (The Washington Post)

To monitor the well and the seafloor, engineers are conducting seismic studies of the rock and gathering pressure readings from inside the well. Today BP reported the pressure had increased to 6,792 psi (pounds-per-square-inch) and is continuing to rise.

The first of the two relief wells could intercept the Macondo well by the end of July. BP reported that the well spudded on May 2 had been drilled to a depth greater than 17,864 feet below the seafloor yesterday and was approximately four feet laterally and 100 feet vertically from the point where it will drill into the troubled well and kill it with heavy drilling fluids and cement.

To see how seismic studies are used to locate oil and gas, watch the video below.


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.