Monday, June 28, 2010

Deepwater Oil Spill - closing in on the well

Well with Alex trundling off towards Mexico, the second area of concern having dissipated, and the two +3 earthquakes in Iceland being North of the island, or up around Loki, the worry over the impact of natural hazards can be set back just a little today. Which is helpful, given that the relief well is approaching the point where it might soon bring this sorry episode a lot closer to the end game.

Total recovery from the BP site has been relatively consistent in the immediately recent past:
For the last 12 hours on June 27 (noon to midnight), approximately 8,340 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,100 barrels of oil and 28.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On June 27, total oil recovered was approx. 24,450 barrels:
approx. 16,275 barrels of oil were collected,
approx. 8,175 barrels of oil were flared,
and approx. 56.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Total oil recovered from both the LMRP Cap and Q4000 systems since they were implemented is approx. 438,000 barrels. An additional 22,000 barrels were collected from the RIT tool earlier in May bringing the total recovered to approx. 460,000 barrels.

Connections for the first free standing riser have been completed and this will be connected to the Helix Producer – “a redundancy measure also taken under the direction of the Federal Government.”

The first relief well has now drilled to a depth of 16,545 ft – which puts it within about 150 ft of the point where the first connection may be tried, so I suspect the drill might be being turned horizontal. (Remember that it has to hit with an accuracy of about an inch). They may be steering it with a device called an Autotrak system where, just behind the drill bit (which is rotating – as are the main pipe segments – yellow in the picture below) a non-rotating piece of equipment is located (blue) that has three small rams that can push out against the well bore and direct the drilling head over in the direction required.

Autotrak assembly (Oil Museum in Stavanger) – you can see one of the pads pushed out as though it was pushing the head over.

This also implies that the last cement job was tested out satisfactorily, after the cement had set.


  1. In a previous post you illustrated the relief well taking an S-shaped approach that first crosses the well then turns down for a while before turning again to intersect further below. Why are they doing that?

  2. That sketch was trying to illustrate the path that Admiral Allen had described in one of the press conferences. I believe this was a little in error, based on the Kent Wells brief, which path makes a little more sense, and doesn't make such severe bends.