Friday, July 16, 2010

BP official says well test results so far are 'encouraging' but inconclusive

BP Vice President Kent Wells said this morning that the closing and testing of the oil well in the Gulf had yielded encouraging but inconclusive results so far.

Pressure within the well and capping system has continued to build to 6,700 pounds per square inch, which is about 200 times more than an automobile tire.

There are no visible signs of leaks and sonar emitted from four robotic vehicles also has detected no leaks from the ocean floor, Wells said.

I'm "encouraged by those results," Wells told reporters on a conference call at 8:35 a.m. EDT.

A pressure reading of less than 6,000 PSI would indicate a leak in the well while a reading of more than 8,000 indicates well integrity, he said.

"And that between those ranges it could mean that there is integrity, it could mean there is not integrity," Wells said. "That is where the detailed analysis, etc, would have to take place. That is what is going on today."

The capping system could be only temporary while a relief well is dug to permanently close the well. A decision on reopening the well would be made by the incident commander, Thad Allen, Wells said.

Wells also said that seismic testing would be conducted today to determine whether oil from the well is leaking into pockets below the sea floor.

Meanwhile, work on an intercepting well is continuing today with measurements to ensure they are on course, Wells said. Work on the relief well, which is only 30 feet away now from the main well, had stopped during the testing of the capping system.

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting

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