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Monday, June 14, 2010

6 Days Before Explosion, BP Engineer Called Deepwater Horizon A 'nightmare Well'

Source: AP

(AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - Six days before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, a BP drilling engineer called the rig a "nightmare well" that had caused the company problems in the past.

The comment by BP engineer Brian Morel came in an e-mail April 14. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 people and sent tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf in the nation's worst environmental disaster.

The e-mail was among dozens of internal documents released Monday in Washington by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the explosion and its aftermath. Committee leaders said BP made a series of questionable decisions before the explosion that "posed a trade-off between cost and well safety." LinkHere

This release of documents is the basis for this story:

BP’s Well Failure Due to Effort to Save $10 Million?
Well Design. On April 19, one day before the blowout, BP installed the final section of steel tubing in the well. BP had a choice of two primary options: it could lower a fu ll string of “casing” from the top of the wellhead to the bottom of the well, or it could hang a ” liner” from the lower end of the casing already in the well and install a “tieback” on top of the liner. The liner-tieback option would have taken extra time and was more expensive, but it would have been safer because it provided more barriers to the flow of gas up the annul ar space surrounding these steel tubes. A BP plan review prepared in mid-April recommended against the full string of casing because it would create “an open annulus to the wellhead” and make the seal assembly at the wellhead the “only barrier” to gas flow if the cement job failed. Despite this and other warnings, BP chose the more risky casing option, apparently because the liner option would have cost $7 to $10 million more and taken longer.

Centralizers. When the final string of casing was installed, one key chall enge was making sure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. As the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practices explain, if the casing is not centered, “it is difficult, if not impossible, to displace mud effectively from the narrow side of the annulus,” resulting in a failed cement job. Halliburton, the contractor hired by BP to cement the well, warned BP that the well could have a “SEVERE gas flow problem” if BP lowered the final string of casing with only six centralizers instead of the 21 recommended by Halliburton. BP rejected Halliburton’s advice to use additional centralizers. In an e-mail on April 16, a BP official involved in the decision explained: ” it will take 10 hours to install them . .. . I do not like this.” Later that day, another official recognized the risks of proceeding with insufficient centralizers but commented: “who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine.” much more:


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