DAY 86 In The Gulf: All Work Stopped On New Cap And Relief Wells – Oil Flows Unchecked Into Gulf

BP froze activity on two key projects Wednesday meant to choke off the flow of oil billowing from its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico after days of moving confidently toward controlling the crisis.

The development was a stunning setback after the oil giant finally seemed to be on track following nearly three months of failed attempts to stop the spill, which has sullied beaches from Florida to Texas and decimated the multibillion dollar fishing industry.

The oil giant and the government said more analysis was needed before testing could proceed on a new temporary well cap – the best hope since April of stopping the geyser. Work on a permanent fix, relief wells that will plug the spill from below with mud and cement, also was halted.

Oil continued to spew nearly unimpeded into the water, with no clear timeline on when it would stop.

Wells said that it was the government’s call late Tuesday to re-evaluate plans for testing the new cap, and that plans were on hold for at least 24 hours. Federal officials and the company will re-evaluate the best path forward after that time period.

Wells said the cap test, which could put added pressure on the oil as it comes out of the ground, could have an effect on the relief well. He did not elaborate.


“It’s an incredibly big concern,” said Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Professional Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston.

“They need to get a scan of where things are, that way when they do pressure testing, they know to look out for ruptures or changes.” [He isn’t talking about the new cap, he is talking about the oil reservoir and the floor of the gulf. The pressure that existed on the “reservoir” and the “Gulf floor” was greater prior to the well being drilled. Imagine a balloon filled with air, and now you let part of the air out of the balloon before you pinch the end shut again… is there more pressure in the balloon now that you’ve let air out, or is there less pressure and less air. Whatever amount of oil and gas was in the reservoir prior to the well being drilled, there is now 190,000,000 (190 million) fewer gallons of oil in the reservoir, because that oil is now floatng around in the gulf …. and for every day that passes, nearly 1.5 million gallons of additional oil leave the reservoir and enter the gulf…]

It was unclear whether there was something in the results of the mapping that prompted officials to delay. Earlier, BP Vice President Kent Wells said he hadn’t heard what the results were, but he felt “comfortable that they were good.”

National Incident Commander Thad Allen met with the federal energy secretary and the head of the U.S. Geological Survey as well as BP officials and other scientists after the mapping was done.

Bureaucrats again … working to support the continued oil drilling moratorium and delay the end of the Deep Water Horizon saga …. stop the flow of the oil today ….

Don Van Nieuwenhuise
Don Van Nieuwenhuise is an Associate Research Profeessor of Paleontology, he is also an Adjunct Professor in Chemical Engineering.

Paleontology: the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods, as represented by their fossils.

Nieuwenhuise’s last research grant, a supplement grant to continue on research by Renee Gjere, from Thurogood Marshall High School, to study, “New Biostratigraphic Markers for Onshore Paleogene Reservoir Identification“ was received in 2005 –

“Onshore Paleogene Reservoir Identification“.

Nieuwenhuise is not studying the “new cap”, he is instead studying the “oil reservoir” in the gulf.

Nieuwenhuise has discovered, stop the presses, that the well is producing both oil and methane gas …

Paleogene: Pa·le·o·gene, noting or pertaining to the earlier part of the Cenozoic Era, in the system adopted by some geologists, occurring from 65 to 25 million years ago and including the Oligocene, Eocene, and Paleocene epochs …. A period of time studied by Paleontologists …

I’m beginning to wonder if Obama’s advisors have pointed out how damaging it will be when the public realizes that this well should have been capped 70 days ago… and the people replay the “sound bite” of Obama asking, “what do they expect me to do, suck it up with a straw” before November’s elections…

I’m wary that there will be a politically motivated delay until mid august when the relief wells are completed…

The fallacy in this most recent delay is this …. when the relief wells are completed and they “plug” and “seal” the well with cement … the pressure create by the “seal” on the surrounding gulf floor, well pipe and the oil reservoir below, will be every bit the same if not greater than the pressure created by closing off the new BOP …. The new BOP will “blow” sooner than any of the surrounding geological structure …. it, the new BOP, is only rated for 10,000 psi.

Why are they letting the oil flow, unchecked, into the gulf today…


NEW ORLEANS – BP’s work on capping the Gulf of Mexico gusher was frozen Wednesday after the federal government raised concerns the operation could put damaging pressure on the busted well that could make the leak worse.

An administration official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks with BP, said the government was acting out of “abundance of caution” and didn’t want potentially dangerous pressure tests on a tighter containment cap that has been placed over the well to go ahead until BP answers questions about possible risks.

The delays were a stunning setback after the oil giant finally seemed to be on track following nearly three months of failed attempts to stop the spill, which has sullied beaches from Florida to Texas and decimated the multibillion dollar fishing industry.

The administration official said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Geological Survey chief Marcia McNutt and other government scientists met with BP Tuesday in Houston and had a number of questions about the plan to test the integrity of the well. Chu and other officials want to ensure that putting downward pressure on the well will not cause further leaks, the official said.

“Our basic position was, if you can give us the answers we need … then go ahead,” the official said. Until then, “they can’t go forward.”

McAuley’s World Comments:

I can’t believe this. The “BEST AND BRIGHTEST” the Obama Administration has to offer didn’t understand, in advance of placing a “new cap” on the well, that putting a new cap and valve of the well and then closing the valve to shut off the oil would increase the pressure in the well?

Where do they find these people?

Do you have a garden hose? When the water is running through the hose have you ever shut the nozzle on the end of the hose? Does the water pressure in the hose go up? Gee, the same thing happens at every house in the Country.

I’ll bet that there isn’t a single water tower (or water reservoir) that has had a catastrophic failure anywhere in the Country because someone shut off a garden hose nozzle in their yard.  

The Government is not presently measuring the pressure in the well; the Government is measuring the pressure in the “oil reservoir” under the Gulf. This is akin to making you wait to fix a leak in your hose while the city measures the water pressure in your local water tower…

Meanwhile, 1.5 million gallons of oil spills into the Gulf each and everyday…

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