BP begins tests to permanently seal Gulf oil leak

BP will begin tests Monday to ensure it can effectively pump mud down its blown-out Gulf well and if all goes well, as expected, it will begin plugging the well tomorrow, a senior company official said Monday.

“We’re not anticipating” a problem with the “injectivity test” that will start this afternoon, BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters in a technical briefing. He said he expects the “static kill,” in which mud is poured into the well to push the oil down into its reservoir, will start Tuesday and could take a couple of days.

He said the “static kill” has a better chance of succeeding than did BP’s failed prior “top kill” attempt, because the well is now capped so the mud can no longer escape out the top.

Still, he said BP will evaluate how well “static kill” works before deciding whether to move on to its next planned phase for permanently plugging the well. This last phase is known as the “bottom kill,” in which mud and later concrete are poured into the lower part of the well via a line connected to the relief well.

Wells said he expects the “static kill” may require about 2,000 barrels of mud, but BP has 8,000 barrels ready on its Blue Dolphin vessel and another 20,000 barrels on its HOS Centerline. The heavy mud is routed from these surface vessels to another ship, the Q4000, which then pumps it into the well’s blowout preventer that sits just below its 75-ton cap.

Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers, between 94 million gallons to 184 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf before the cap began containing the crude July 15.

Source: USA Today

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