CNN's first mention of concerns about the structural integrity of BP's blown-out well occurred on the June 16 edition of the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, during an interview with a member of the government's Flow Rate Technical Group, Professor Steven Wereley.
Blitzer described a conversation he had with an expert who said, "They're still really concerned about the structural base of this whole operation." "This thing could really explode," added Blitzer, "And they're sitting, what, on -- on a billion potential barrels of oil."
Wereley responded, "I've heard concerns about the structural integrity of the well."Â More precisely, the structural concerns were if "the casing of the well is -- is faulty at some point."
The one billion barrels in estimated reserves mentioned by Blitzer is similar to the number stated by Bush Energy Adviser Matthew Simmons during a June 15 interview with Bloomberg TV.
Simmons concluded BP's ruptured well could flow for 25 to 30 years at a rate of 120,000 barrels a day.
120,000 barrels/day * 365 days/year * 25 years = 1.095 billion barrels.
Let's talk about this with Steven Wereley. He's an associate engineering professor at Purdue University. He's a member of the government's flow rate technical group...
BLITZER: One -- one expert said to me -- and I don't know if this is overblown or not -- that they're still really concerned about the structural base of this whole operation, if the rocks get moved, this thing could really explode and they're sitting, what, on -- on a billion potential barrels of oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
Is that a real concern or is that just out of the question, unrealistic?
WERELEY: Well, I've heard concerns about the structural integrity of the well. In particularly, with the "top kill" -- the attempted "top kill," lots of cement and drilling mud was pumped into the well. And it didn't come shooting back out of the well and yet it didn't stop things. So there is some conjecture that the -- the casing of the well is -- is faulty at some point.
For more information on the wellhead, wellbore, and casing see:
- BP says wellbore may be compromised
- Bush Energy Adviser: Relief well will fail, 46 billion gallons could flow into Gulf
- Engineer to Congress: BP â€œhorribly negligentâ€ when completing well
- White House officials: Explosives to stop well may cause â€œuncontrolled situationâ€; Oil may already be escaping into â€œrock formations below the sea floorâ€
- Oil Expert: Only way to shut well off is to â€œlet it complete which might take 30 yearsâ€ or â€œa nuclear deviceâ€; Hurricane will â€œpaint the Gulf Coast blackâ€
- UK Engineering Mag: Well casing could have been ejected from the well; â€˜Doomsday Scenarioâ€™ happening?
- Former Shell Oil President: â€œRelief well may not be enoughâ€, next step â€œto implode well on top of itselfâ€
- Oil Expert: BP must â€˜keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the sideâ€™
- Senator confirms reports that wellbore is pierced; oil seeping from seabed in multiple places
- BP Officials: â€œpart of the subsea safety infrastructure may have rupturedâ€ 1,000 feet beneath oil wellhead.
- Oil Expert: â€˜Well to flow for probably more than a decadeâ€™ if not plugged successfully
- Expert: â€˜Gusher would continue until the well bore hole collapsed or pressure in the reservoir dropped to a point where oil was no longer pushed to the surfaceâ€™
- BP lost control of well one month before blowout