Commander: Just finished 1.5 mile “Seismic Run” to detect “anything that might happen with the sea floor” from the well integrity test (VIDEO)


National Incident Commander Thad Allen Press Conference, July 13, 2010:

Rush Transcript Excerpts

This morning, several significant activities are taking place. We just finished a seismic run through the field, about a 2.5 kilometer run, basically, from north to south with a boat called the Gecko (ph) Topaz, carrying very sophisticated acoustical sensors. That is intended to give us a baseline from which we can detect any anomalies after we do the well integrity testregarding anything that might happen with the sea floor or the formation moving ahead.

The sequence of events that will take place and will start some time afternoon today, we are still, I might add just as background, to have that vessel come through with the very sensitive acoustic sensors that they have on board. It requires you to clear just about everybody out of the area...

Then in sequence, we will attempt to close the stack down and assess the pressure readings as we do that. ...

The goal is to slowly close that down and understand the changes in pressure as we are closing it until that choke line is closed. At that point, there will be no hydrocarbons exiting from the capping stack, and we'll go into a period where we're going to start taking pressure readings. It will go in basically six, 24 and 48-hour increments depending on the results. And as we've said before, while it may be counterintuitive to some, in this exercise high pressure is good.

We have a considerable amount of pressure down on the reservoir forcing the hydrocarbons up to the wellbore. We are looking for somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 PSI inside the capping stack, which would indicate to us that the hydrocarbons are being forced up and the wellbores are being able to withstand that pressure. And that is good news.

If we are down around in the 4,000 to 5,000, 6,000 range that could potentially tell us that the hydrocarbons are being diverted someplace else, and we would have to try and assess the implications of that. And as you might imagine, there are gradations as you go up from 4,000 or 5,000 PSI up to 8,000 or 9,000. ...

We will at some point try to get to 8,000 or 9,000 and sustain that for some period of time, and these will be done basically, as I said -- if we have a very low pressure reading, we will try and need (ph) at least six hours of those readings to try to ensure that that is the reading. If it's a little higher, we want to go for 24 hours. And if it's up at 8,000 or 9,000, we would like to go 48 hours just to make sure it can sustain those pressures for that amount of time.

So, based on the pressure readings that we find, this could be six, 24 or 48 hours. And at that point we will have a better idea not only of the pressure, it will tell us something about condition of the wellbore itself. And ultimately, it will also tell us something about the flow rate, which to date has been based on estimates, based on the digital imagery, acoustic testing, and so forth. ...

The range of options that could come out of the testing of the stacking cap include knowledge that the cap itself can withstand 8,000 to 9,000 PSI pressure interminably, indefinitely, which means there might be an opportunity to have what we would call a shut-in of the well, basically to just hold it at that point.

Anything less than that might bring into play a decision to continue to produce. ...

If we are to go to a full production of four different outlets around the 17th, 18th, 19th of July, somewhere around there, it will require us to continue to build and construct the second free-standing riser pipe. That is in progress right now and should be ready for production around the 19th of July. ...

We realize there are significant chances that we can improve our ability to contain these hydrocarbons moving forward, and everybody will be watching very closely over the next 24 hours.

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