The BP relief well that Tampa, Florida residents have been waiting for to seal the Macondo well is on hold again. The delay has been ordered by Incident Commander Than Allen, who wants the damaged blowout preventer replaced in advance of any attempt at pumping cement through the relief well. The reason, in part, is to preserve the old BOP as evidence in the continuing criminal investigation against BP.
“We do not want to have damage to the BOP because it will be material evidence in an investigation,” Allen said.
Additionally, there were 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the annulus around the well during the August 5th static kill operation. No one is quite sure what will happen to that oil or the damaged casing under the pressure of the bottom kill operation.
Tudor Pickering Holt analyst David Pursell told Platts, “BOPs are not designed to withstand that kind of wild flow. BP’s August 5 static-kill operation as nothing more than “duct tape,” and “would consider it “ridiculous” to place complete trust in the 5,000-foot cement plug that currently holds the Macondo reservoir in check, citing an interception by a relief well as the only ultimate solution.”
Allen also expressed concern over a piece of drilling pipe that is stuck inside the well. The pipe may have jammed the blowout preventer in the explosion that began the oil spill disaster on April 20, 2010.
“We are very close to putting this well away,” Allen said. “No one wants to make a mistake at this point.”
The new target date for completion of the BP relief well is early September.