A good general primer on WTH is going on with the blown out well’s integrity and the function of the relief well in this morning’s Q&A with John Hofmeister, former Shell president.
What needs to happen right away?
The near term fix is to release the cap and control the flow of oil to surface ships. Secondly, complete the relief well drilling to try and cement both inside and outside the casing shut at the point of intervention.
How is the relief well expected to work?
… use the relief well to cement both inside and outside the well casing in hopes of stopping any flow. The probability of success is uncertain but it’s still the best option for now.
The relief well comes in at the bottom of the column instead of the top. As mud and cement are pushed into the pipe way down the well it will build a column of weight on the oil column climbing the well. That weight ultimately should subdue the reservoir and seal in the well.
The following is an interesting statement by Hofmeister with respect to prevention of further oil volcanoes
… the original damage to the blowout protector, pre-blowout, needs to be fully understood to determine whether blowout protectors need improvement overall with more redundancy built in.
given that the failed blowout preventer was modified in China instead of in the US.
Experts say that the practice of having such engineering work carried out in China, rather than the US, saves money and is common in the industry.
… There is no evidence that the significant modifications to the blowout preventer (BOP), which were carried out in China in 2005, caused the equipment to fail. But industry lawyers said BP could be made liable for any mistakes that a Chinese subcontractor made carrying out the work. It would be almost impossible to secure damages in China, where international law is barely recognised.
Saved a lot of money there! Read about Chinese engineering for offshore concerns gone wrong over at NOLA-Dishu. I have all kinds of questions and scenarios about immunity from liability floating in my head now.
More, including the debate over whether the oil flow should restart, at The Oil Drum.
What is the status of the relief well? ETA?