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For your benefit and that of other newbies showing up daily I’ll offer you my very biased conclusion of the primary cause of the blow out. The regulars can skip the rest of the story…they’ve heard already. I’ll make just one qualification and it’s a big one: IF THE INITIAL REPORTS ARE CORRECT. It will likely be at least 6 months but more likely a year before there’s official confirmation. The following are just my suppositions. But suppositions gleamed from 35 years as a petroleum geologist with a strong background in well site operations. That experience includes working on site on DW GOM wells as a pore pressure analyst. As a PPA I assisted the drillers in determining the magnitude of the rock pressure they had to deal with.
BP drilled thru an oil reservoir at about 13,000’ below the sea floor. The pressure in the reservoir was around 14,000 psi (an educated guess). They ran steel pipe (casing) from the bottom of the hole back up to the wellhead at the sea floor. They then ran the drill pipe to the bottom of this csg string and pumped wet cement up between the csg and the rock. The purpose of the cement isn’t to hold the csg in place…it isn’t going anywhere. The purpose is to isolate the oil reservoir and keep it from flowing along the outside of the csg in either direction…up or down. It appears the cmt job failed to provide this isolation. Opinions vary but IMHO this is not the BIG SMOKING GUN. Cmt jobs fail all the time. You assume that during the course of drilling a well that you’ll have get a bad cmt job or two. That’s why you routinely test the cmt after a period of 18 to 36 hours. The primary and best cmt test is to apply pressure to it. The cmt has to hold a pressure greater than the reservoir pressure. If it doesn’t then you do a “squeeze job”: pump more cmt behind the csg and then test again. There is some question regarding the validity of the pressure tests BP conducted. Opinions vary but the cmt did fail…that’s why the well blew out.
After BP decided the cmt job was sufficient they had to set cmt plugs inside the csg string as required by MMS regs. But before setting the upper cmt plug they began removing the heavy drilling mud (14.5 pounds per gallon) from the csg and the riser (the 20” tube that connected the wellhead to the drill rig 5,000’ above. They did this by going down into the csg with drill pipe and pumping seawater down. The seawater pushed the drill mud back up to the rig. The seawater weighs about 7.5 pounds per gallons. That means the pressure exerted at the bottom of the well was reduced considerably. So low this pressure wasn’t sufficient to keep the oil reservoir from flowing up. This is a normal procedure. Had the cmt job held all would have been fine. The bad cmt job allowed the oil reservoir to flow up the csg. Had they set the top cmt plug first the well would not have blown out when they displace the mud. Even with a bad cmt job a proper upper plug would have held the flow back.
mars: nephilim worm
mars: upper torso/head of nephilim corpse