Tuesday, 1 March 2011

BP Relief Well Set to Intercept Damaged Well in Days

After finally capping the well last week, BP appears poised to have the first of its two relief wells make an attempt to intercept the damaged well in the coming days and expects to have the well safely shut down in a few weeks. Fears had risen recently when monitors detected oil seepage in areas near the blown out wellhead, but further testing showed the seepage was not from the damaged well.

Some small leaks had also been detected around the new well cap itself, but the volume is so small as to not be significant from a safety standpoint. Initially, the government wanted to remove the cap and resume pumping oil to the surface so that pressure within the well would not build to dangerous levels and potentially make containment impossible.

Indications from both BP and the US government - reliable sources indeed - are that the well cap is holding up well and that pressure levels within the well are at expected levels. With no large storms appearing on the horizon, it seems that BP is going to have a shot at reaching the damaged well with a relief well by the end of the month.

There is still risk that the relief well will not hit its target or that the process of killing the damaged well through the relief well will not go as planned. At the moment, however, the well is contained and appears to be fairly stable. Clean-up and relief efforts are ongoing at the surface level and will likely be under way for the next few years as the impact of the oil is felt and studied.

BP has already moved to sell assets in order to facilitate payment of the record fines that it will face in addition to the $20 billion fund that it set up to help victims of the oil spill.