This Can't Be Good: BP Delays Pressure Tests and Stops Drilling Relief Well
Only Bad News on the Oil Spill Today
After some good news in the past couple of days, BP is going back to what it has accustomed us to over the past few months: bad news. The first of these is that despite the fact that the cap has been fitted over the oil leak, the pressure tests to determine if the leak can be completely captured by this new 'top hat' will have to wait for "further analysis" (this was decided after a meeting with Steven Chu and his team of advisers). The second piece of bad news has to do with the relief well, and when you put the two together, it's enough to worry... Read on for details.
Relief Well Drilling Stopped for "Up to 48 Hours"
BP said this morning that they were halting the drilling of the relief well - the second well that will connect with the leaking one deep underground and permanently plug the leak - for "up to 48 hours" and didn't explain this decision. Chances are it's simply to avoid contaminating seismic readings around the well, but it could also be a sign of bigger troubles. In any case, this delay means that whatever else happens in the meantime, the relief well will be completed later than it would have been otherwise.
What Could This Mean?
What's scary about this is the possibility that this suspension of operations for "further analysis" might mean that they found something really bad, and they're now making sure before going public with it. After all, the relief well is still a few weeks from being completed, so it's safe to assume that it isn't too close to the leaking well. If they're stopping drilling now, this could mean that they're afraid that the integrity of the well was severely compromised under the surface. Could this mean that the relief well won't be able to 'connect' with the leaking well as easily as first thought? Or at all? Or do they have to change their approach, causing further delays and allowing more oil to leak in the Gulf? These are scary possibilities.
Let's hope that these delays are in fact caused by minor problems and that the pressure tests will soon begin and succeed, and that the relief well will be able to plug the leak once and for all.
At this time, the oil is still gushing out of the leak, going into the Gulf of Mexico...
Via AP (1, 2), USA Today, CNN
More on BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
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