Image: Wikipedia, public domain.
BP has started the 'static kill' procedure on Macondo oil well on Tuesday afternoon, a day later than originally hoped because 2 minor leaks were found on valves on the new cap. After the valves were fixed, heavy drilling mud was pumped into the well for 8 hours until the pressure reached equilibrium. Since then, engineers have been monitoring the well to determine if they can move to the next phase, and so far it seems to be holding. What's the next step? Read on for more details.
Photo: USCG, Public domain.
If pressure remains stable and no leaks are found, cement could be injected to permanently seal the well. This could take place in the next few days if we're lucky, though there's a chance that it won't completely seal everything, in which case we'd have to wait 10-14 days for the relief well to be completed..
In the static kill procedure, engineers pump mud weighing about 13.2 pounds per gallon at slow speeds from a surface vessel through a choke line into the blowout preventer on top of the well.
On Tuesday, the engineers said they were not certain that pumping mud from the top would plug the entire well pipe. If it only fills the center well pipe, and not the area called the annulus between the inner piping and the outer casing, then a final cementing of the well may have to wait another few weeks. At the very least, though, engineers said Tuesday the static kill would help pinpoint leaks that need to be filled once they complete drilling one of two relief wells. (source)
For more info, see our Gulf Oil Spill page.
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