BP completes cementing, readies for relief well bottom kill at Macondo in the Gulf of Mexico

By Phaedra Friend Troy

BP has effectively performed the top kill procedure on the runaway Macondo well, and the company has restarted relief well operations in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

For comprehensive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon incident, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts under way to resolve them, visit PennEnergy's Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico special section.

On Aug. 5, BP successfully pumped cement into the Macondo well from above, performing a static kill. The cement was allowed to dry and harden, and the well was then pressure tested.

The pressure tests confirm that the static kill was effective, and the cement plug is in place in the casing.

Now the team looks to the relief well to perform the final and permanent bottom kill.

Bottom Kill Planned for This Week

The first relief well, spud on May 2, is positioned to intercept the Macondo well. Currently at a measured depth of 17,909 feet, the first relief well is being drilled by the Development Driller III.

Progress toward performing the bottom kill procedure involves alternating between drilling and ranging runs to confirm the relief well is positioned correctly to intercept the Macondo well.

Should the weather not pose a hindrance, the first relief well is expected to intercept the Macondo well, piercing the well annulus, by Aug. 15.

Started on May 16 by the Development Driller II, the second relief well is currently suspended at a measured depth of 15,874 feet. Serving as a back-up well, the second relief well has been stopped in an effort to noy interfere with the first.

The Macondo well has been completely shut-in since July 15, when the new sealing cap assembly, consisting of a three ram capping stack, was deployed.

Oil Spill by the Numbers

A report from US Administration scientists revealed earlier this month that 74 percent of the oil that spewed from the Macondo well is gone – either captured, skimmed, cleaned or burned.

Nonetheless, thousands continue their efforts to clean the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shoreline of any hydrocarbons. To date, 826,000 barrels of oily water have been recovered, and 411 controlled burns have been carried out.

BP has spent approximately $6.1 billion in its oil spill response, including the containment, relief well drilling, clean-up, grants and claims paid. There are approximately 30,800 personnel and 5,050 vessels working in the oil spill response effort.

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