Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pressure Tests To Begin This Evening... 

Thad Allen is live on TV right now explaining the procedures to follow.

Soon, the Helix and the Q4000 will be slowly turned off, and for a brief time, we will get a FULL VIEW of the entire spew, so those hoping to calculate flowrate, tune in as soon as you can, and you will get your chance.

Direct from Thad Allen's briefing:

So with that said, what's going to happen is we will be initiating the tests later on this evening and I'm going to stun you with my audio-visual aids here. Because I'm at Lakefront Airport, I've had no access to PowerPoint. Here we go. All right.

Everybody see this? OK. I’m going to explain what’s going to happen here. You have at the bottom the blowout preventer and the lower marine riser package that are left over from the Deepwater Horizon loss. OK? That's right down here. We are currently producing off the kill-and-choke lines of the lower marine riser package and the blowout preventer through the kill line to the Helix Producer and choke line to the Q4000. OK.

Last week, as you remember, we removed the stub of the riser pipe and we put in what we call a flange spool. On top of that what will happen, which was significant, is we've now seeded the capping stack here and basically it has three rams, a mini blowout preventer, it also has a kill line and a choke line. OK? So you basically have a small BOP on top of the larger BOP that is legacy to the Deepwater Horizon.

Here’s how we intend to do the well integrity test. We will slowly take down production from the Q4000 and the helix producer later on today to the point where they are not producing anymore. That will force the oil up through the blowout preventer into the capping stack. At that point, the kill line, the choke line, and the top of the stack will be open, and there’ll be product releasing from there and we know that that's the reason we’ve got the skimmers and the additional capacity on the surface to deal with that.

We will then in sequence close the middle ram here, which will stop the flow out of the top of the stack and then we will take pressure readings. We will then close the kill line and take pressure readings.

Following that, we will use a remotely operated vehicle that will hook on to the – that – the little bar here that actually turns a valve, and this choke line has been especially constructed – if you looked at the video, you'll see kind of a yellow object up there with a curved up pipe. That is the choke line. That is the last way for oil to leave the capping stack.

We will slowly close that, very, very slowly, in partial turns, and measure pressure at the same time. In that manner, we will slowly close the entire capping stack and start the reading pressure. OK?

Now, as we do that, we're going to be watching very closely the pressure readings. If the pressure readings stay low, that will tell us that the oil is probably going someplace else and we need to consider the fact we may have a breach in the well bore or in one of the – in one of the casings. If that is the case and we have very low pressure readings for about three hours, we will probably stop at that point. That will be the assumption and we will go into production, bring everything back online so we minimize the amount of oil that's going into the environment and we will assess the results of that test.

That will also tell us and give us more information about what we will need to do ultimately with the release wells down below when we try to start to pump mud in and (submit to) – finally we’re going to kill the well.

If the pressure continues to rise, we will monitor it every six hours. Again, looking at acoustic information, seismic information, visual inspection of the sea floor, and if there are no problems the decision will be made in six-hour increments to proceed.

At the end of 48 hours, we will stop the test, assess all the information we have. We will probably do another seismic run over the area around the well to detect any potential hydrocarbon or methane leaks from the sea floor.
We'll see.

If things don't work out, they'll put Top Hat #10 on top, and we'll have to wait for the Relief Wells to fail... err... um... yeah.

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