Static Kill Procedure Effective in Stabilizing Gulf Oil Well
August 9, 2010
After pumping heavy drilling mud into the blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well more than 6 days ago, BP recently announced that the well is giving all indications that it has reached a consistent, static state. BP officials and critics agree that this successful step is vital to the planned permanent ‘kill’ of the well.
One of the positive outcomes of the ‘static kill’ procedure is that the oil pressure within the well is being effectively controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud forcing against the oil within the reservoir.
After pumping heavy drilling mud into the well for approximately eight hours, officials at the site immediately began monitoring the well around the clock to insure that it remains static. The decision on whether to pump more mud into the well will be determined based upon the information the engineers receive during monitoring.
Prior to the pumping of the mud, engineers conducted a 2-hour injectivity test in order to assess the viability of the ‘static kill’ procedure.
BP is now preparing, along with the National Incident Commander and other U.S. officials, an assessment of their next move, including the decision to inject cement into the well using the same mud-pumping route.
After the ‘static kill’ procedure has been effectively carried out, the final step in containing the blown-out well is to connect with it by a nearly-completed relief well, and to then permanently seal the well with cement.
The first relief well, which began drilling on May 2nd, days after the Deepwater Horizon accident, is in the final days of its completion. The relief well operation was delayed due to the suspension of all relief well drilling while they engineers conducted the ‘static kill’ procedures. With good weather, the current estimated date that the first relief well will connect with the blown-out well annulus is mid-August.