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Guest post by: Bagua!
BP Oil Spill Endgame: Creatures of the Bathypelagic
Watching the ROV cams has been a bit dull the last couple of days. Few technical operations have occurred and much of the time was spent watching the sea-floor around the blown-out well to detect leaks and seeps that would indicate a rupture.
5,000 feet below the surface is an inhospitable place for most marine life. Though few and far between, the occasional deep water fish, eel or crab is seen. We have collected and edited a variety of video clips and snapshots showing fish around the well-head.
Watching the video, the viewer may conclude that the sea floor a mile deep is teeming with life. This is not the case. These clips were collected from dozens of hours of video showing nothing but water, sand and the occasional bubbles.
First a few pictures of crabs, fish, and an elusive Bat Ray courtesy of Dr. Fessel.
Next: A compilation of video clips from our many hours of recording, including material recorded by others. Starring many eels, rat tails, and an epic battle as an eel fights a large crab.
Update on the Static/Top Kill: Injecting Cement
With the success of the Static Kill BP has gained control of the wild-well, with a stable column of 13.2 ppg mud successfully pushing the oil and gas back into the reservoir. The hydrostatic weight of that column of mud now prevents oil and gas from entering the well bore. We have a kill.
During this static condition, BP periodically pumped new mud in to confirm that they could push mud into the reservoir. This is crucial to any attempt to inject cement, as it would have to push out the mud column below. In normal well operations, the cement is injected via a drill pipe and the mud flow is circulated up the annulus back to the ship. With the wild well, the only open direction is down into the reservoir.
Today they reached consensus on the condition of the well and the location of the drill pipe inside the Production Casing Tube and decided to proceed with the cement injection. Pumping of the cement into the well began at 9:15 am CST. If successful, this will be another huge step in the plugging of this well. Alternatively, if they cannot push mud all the way to the base of the well, a solid cement plug somewhere along the well will add another barrier.
BP will still need to enter the base of the well via the relief well, or through a new BOP at the surface, in order to confirm that the well is properly plugged and repaired, both at the base and at intervals to the surface. Crucially, they will need to examine and plug the annulus, which may not receive cement from the Top Kill cementing, leaving a possible path for oil and gas to reach the well-head.
As we go to press: There are reports that cement has been successfully pumped into the reservoir and the cement job is done. The well is effectively dead once that cement cures.
The Plug and Abandon phase could continue for a couple months to come. But a successful cement plug at the bottom of the well with a column of mud on top is a game changer. I will update on the cementing process and results, and the next phase of the final plugging in future posts.