Yesterday, I pointed out that two oil industry experts – Robert Cavnar and former Shell CEO John Hofmeister – said that the “well integrity test” should not be conducted because there is no benefit, and it could very well blow out the well.
Cavnar thinks that the well integrity tests are really an attempt by BP to underestimate the amount of oil gushing out – and so pay lower fines under the Clean Water Act (fines are calculated by the number of barrels leaking into the Gulf) – by waiting to “test” the flow until the flow has been reduced. In the real world, of course, BP could have tested the flow from day one.
Today, an oil and gas industry veteran with 30 years experience who goes by the alias Fishgrease says that the well integrity test is a PR stunt meant to fool the American people:
Yesterday, Our Government bought in to BP’s lies and maneuvering. Yesterday, Our Government approved the Integrity Test. That test is now underway.
We later received information that the Oil States FlexJoint actually in place is a Model 5, and therefore has a MWP (maximum working pressure) of 5000 psi. So now, the pressures Our Government has signed off on applying, are at least 2,000 psi differential pressure over the rating of the component!
I’ve been battling comments that, surely, this component has a “safety allowance” well above its rating. Boomers, this is pure horseshit. When you’re pressuring up against metal with hydrocarbons, the “maximum” in “maximum working pressure” fucking means MAXIMUM. Purposefully exceeding MWP is, in fact, criminally actionable. MWP is enforced in the Oil & Gas industry with perfect vigor. There is no tolerance for exceeding MWP. None. Never. Ever.
You. Don’t. Fucking. Do. It.
BP is PLANNING on doing it! They would not and could not do it without the U.S. Government taking full responsibility, in the name of Thad Allen, for the consequences of over-pressuring the FlexJoint.
That’s alarming enough, but there are many bad things that can happen when you’re just sitting there circulating on bottom at 17,840… FOR DAYS. Now that they’re having problems with the choke on the capping stack, it might easily be DAYS AND DAYS. You can lose circulation and get stuck. You can lose a mud pump for a matter of minutes and get stuck. You can lose the section of un-cased hole you just drilled (which is at a critical point for the intercept) and make directional control much more difficult getting it back. There are more, and worse things that could happen, but I won’t mention them because the crew and equipment on that relief well are the absolute best, and none of those worse things will happen.
But why take these risks? For what? The first relief well is SO close (now stopped)! They have the ability to capture and measure ALL the oil! We already KNOW there is damage downhole! Why would the Government of the United States of America sign off on, and take responsibility for this foolishness?
I need to include here that I think this “test” is probably a good political and public relations bet for both the Obama administration and BP. It’s really not a test at all and has no chance of actually testing anything about the well, except their ability to shut it in with no surface leaks. They want to shut in the well and get it off the nightly news. They want that so badly they’re willing to risk anything for it. That’s both BP and Our Government. They shut in the well and Thad Allen is a hero. They fail and he’s no more of a moron than he has been for the last three months. If they succeed in shutting it in or not, any damage they’ve done in the “test” that makes the kill operation more difficult, or even impossible, will be a matter of opinion. This bet is against the citizens of the United States of America being smart enough to figure any of this out. It’s not a bet on actual physical outcomes. It has nothing at all to do with what’s the best plan for stopping this disaster.
Politics. Public Relations.