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Fools' Errand: Time to Remove the Cap from the Well Head!

The failure of the effort to cap the well above the BOP, as I wrote earlier, was pretty well foreordained when the same Viking Poseidon ROV 1, a month ago, showed a video of oil blasting out of cracks in the sea floor around the BOP, already proving that the casing had been breached.

It is possible that the pressure in the pipe was greater at that point, back on June 13, because the well opening, at the top of the BOP, was still crimped and holding back the gusher. Once that opening was cleared in preparation for installing the current cap, the oil was able to flow out more freely, which would have reduced the pressure on whatever leaks exist in the casing below ground.

But now, for reasons that still elude me, the government has allowed BP to try to shut down the well at the top, allowing the pressure in the whole casing to rise precipitously, and it appears the inevitable has happened: the oil and gas is pushing out the breaches in the casing, and is likely expanding the openings, too, making the breach worse than before. And still the government isn’t calling a halt to this nonsense.

The top of this blown-out well should be opened up wide as soon as possible, and BP and the government should focus all efforts on those relief wells, and on trying to get this runaway well sealed at the bottom as soon as possible. That's not to say the oil should be allowed to spew into the sea again. The cap now in place is on solidly and is equipped with attachment points that would allow pipes to carry all the spewing oil up to the surface to be loaded safely onto tankers. That is the proper approach here, that doesn't risk worsening the condition of the bore hole.

Trying to shut things off at the top was always a fool’s errand, and can only have been driven by a BP and White House desire to show that something is being done. However, some things shouldn’t be done, and this is one of those things. The idea that the government and BP knew that shutting down the top of the well could lead to disaster, and that for the sake of a short-term PR benefit, they went ahead and did it, knowing that it would only provide temporary relief at best anyhow, is insanity.

By the way, last Thursday I contacted both the BP and the government-run Unified Command press offices asking for an explanation as to how they could shut down the top of the well, when BP’s own cameras in June showed oil blowing out of cracks in the sea floor near the wellhead. Both offices promised to respond. To date, neither has.



story | by Dr. Radut