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Deepwater Horizon Update July 19, 2010

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  • Deepwater Horizon Update July 19, 2010

    The cap placed on the wellhead over the weekend is still holding, but there are a couple anomalies which bear watching. The principal concern has been the pressure in the well, which has been low. The target pressure is 6,800 psi* but the pressure tests have stubbornly hivered below that level. That may be due to a variety of causes but the two most likely are:

    1) More oil escaped into the Gulf than thought, depleting the deposit enough to lower residual pressure at the wellhead.

    2) The well itself has been compromised and oil and gas are escaping into the surrounding strata.

    BP and the government are monitoring the cap. Sunday several “seeps” were detected near the well, and there were several “anomalies” noticed at the cap itself.

    Seeps are not all that rare in the Gulf, so do not automatically mean the well shaft is compromised, but if the seeps continue and turn out to be oil from the well, that’s a problem. The “anomalies” at the cap early on appeared to be small leaks. As of this writing (within the last hour) that has been confirmed, but retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s spill response chief, has characterized the cap leaks as “inconsequential.”

    Here are three articles on the seepage and cap leaks, from AP, Reuters, and The Irish Times.

    The remaining concern is that a deep leak could result in erosion which will render the seabed floor unstable and cause multiple uncontrolled high-volume leaks. As the Dallas Morning News reported today, “Scientists ...




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