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The Static Kill…BP’s latest attempt to avoid a flow count..er, seal the well

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How many barrels, at over a thousand dollars a barrel?

The British Petroleum Oil Spill Catastraphuk has been about the bottom line for this company, from April 20th to the present time and keeping this in mind, it would appear the relief wells are taking too long to finish.

According to BP they estimate the relief wells won’t be ready to seal the well permanently until early August and this is presenting them with a number of problems. The well cap is leaking, and even though Thad Allen says it is nothing to be concerned about, the clamor of scientists who disagree with Thad’s assessment grow louder. Already, the white noise from the scientific community is enough that the government will only willingly give BP twenty-four windows on this cap. Every day, British Petroleum is forced to give up some of their data to the Coast Guard and then quickly think of reasons why they will refuse to remove the well cap if so ordered. The two sides, working together argued about the removal of the cap all weekend, the argument ending in a stale-mate and our current twenty-four review process.

BP can’t remove the cap. For one, it would subject the world yet again to a geyser of oil, twenty fours a day for anyone with internet access to watch, but even worse, the feds might actually demand they allow those pipes to be put in place…the mile long pipes that connect the cap to container ships on the surface which would siphon the oil from the well, reducing the pressure inside the steel casings and hopefully slowing  the leaks British Petroleum has tried desperately not to admit exist.

The status quo isn’t working and BP needed another option and fast…they couldn’t keep this twenty-four review process going for another two to three weeks. The seepage would only be worse by then, the methane bubbles, the leaking oil, perhaps even more ruptures on the sea floor, the ones the government and BP claim are unrelated, but a Shell Oil exec says weren’t present before. BP needs to keep that cap on, and keep those pipes off the well.

Enter the Static Kill…

The “static kill” is a distant cousin of the “top kill,” both seal the well, and BP is moving in this direction. Kent Wells of BP states “We’re still very much in the design and planning phase, we’ve got some real experienced teams working on this over the next couple of days.” Essentially, a static kill would be the slow pumping of mud into the cap, damming up the oil and sealing the well. It could be successful where the top kill wasn’t, because now the well has been sealed and the pressure of the oil, tempered.

Course, it can also be dangerous. In an interview on CNN we were treated to this exchange:

ANDERSON COOPER: Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of petroleum geoscience programs at the University of Houston… explain what — if you can, what the static kill means…

VAN NIEUWENHUISE: The biggest issue that concerns me is that, earlier today, we were told (by BP) that those flow lines wouldn’t handle 6,800 PSI. And now we have been told that they will actually handle that much pressure.

So BP is being less than honest…previously saying the pressure is a cause for concern and then reversing course, but we’ve come to expect this by now…Corexit toxicity, oil plumes, wage cuts for cleanup workers, buying up scientists, the lowering of psi requirements inside the cap, keeping reporters out, covering the sand with oil…and of course, flow counts…

Yes, flow counts.

And isn’t that what this is all about?

BP is gearing up for another risky maneuver rather than waiting for the relief wells which are the safest way to seal the Macondo Well. When BP tried the “top kill,” some scientists speculated it caused more damage to the wellhead but not to be deterred, BP will try another kill from the top that also contains risk, risk of further rupturing the steel casing inside the well. From the perspective of their bottom line, they don’t have much choice. Public pressure is building. Methane bubbles and seepage from the sea floor are difficult to conceal, and the worse the leaks get the more difficulty they will have trying to wait for the relief wells to be completed. The static kill, by some estimates, could be attempted in a couple of days. Even though this could greatly increase the pressure in an already too pressurized wellhead, this is of lesser importance to BP.  This company is one of risk takers, and this is a risk they are willing to take on behalf of everyone.

If they don’t act soon, the feds might force them to attach the pipes and then get their flow count, the amount of barrels dumped into the Gulf of Mexico which is how the government determines the total financial penalty for BP. The basic fine is $1,100 per barrel spilled. But the penalty can rise to $4,300 a barrel if a federal court rules the spill resulted from gross negligence. The fines were originally set at $1,000 to $3,000 but that was raised in 2004 to keep up with inflation, according to Tracy Hester, head of the Environmental Law and Policy program at the University of Houston.

Does BP really have a choice? Not from their perspective…you in the Gulf Coast, the nation and the world…your well-being is secondary and don’t you forget it.

BP never has.

Read the article…

BP weighs ‘static kill’ operation to permanently seal still-leaking well

Have an inexpensive day.

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