Update: BREAKING: Flow of Oil Halted for First Time Since April
BP to Restart Pressure Test After Fixing Leaking Hose
When delays for the pressure tests and relief well drilling were announced yesterday, we were afraid that this might be a sign of bigger problems. Thankfully, it turns out to have been relatively minor: BP has replaced a leaking hose this morning and is getting back on track with the pressure tests that will reveal if the new tighter-fitting cap that has been positioned over the leaking well will be able to stop the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. So what can we expect now? Read on for more details.
It's not 100% clear what exactly it was that BP replaced (Reuters calls it a "hose", the New York Times a "valve", and the Associated Press a "pipe"), but whatever it was, it's what was holding back the pressure tests.
Work on starting the test, which was due to begin on Tuesday, has resumed.
The oil giant needs to shut all the valves on the new cap in order to test the well's integrity.
If the test is successful the flow of oil could be halted until relief wells can stop the leak permanently. [...]
The test will take 48 hours, he said, and even if it was successful, the well would be reopened and oil captured by ships on the surface would restart while a seismic test was done. (source)
If the test reveals that the pressure stays high when the cap is shut, the well is probably intact. But if they close the cap and the pressure stays low, there is probably another leak underground, which would be really bad.
The design of the new cap, if it works as it is supposed to, would allow all of the leaking oil to be captured and it would allow the well to be shut down in the event of a hurricane (if the ships that are pumping the oil on the sufrace need to leave). This would allow the leak to be contained until the relief is done and can shut the well permanently.
Via NYT, Reuters
More on BP Gulf Oil Spill
This Can't Be Good: BP Delays Pressure Tests and Stops Drilling Relief Well
BP Says New 'Top Hat' is About 150 Feet From Oil Leak
Could the Russian Mir Submersible Stop the Oil Leak?
BP Cleaning Up Less than 1% of the Oil it Promised the Feds