Fortunately, for the last two weeks a temporary plug has been preventing oil from BP’s damaged Deepwater Horizon well from seeping into the Gulf of Mexico. But BP says they are ready to permanently plug the well that exploded in late April, killing 11 and pouring copious amounts of oil into the ocean — estimates are upwards of 200 million gallons. The procedure dubbed “a static kill,” will take place today, but the only problem is the “static” part of it isn’t fool proof. Like many of BP’s other undertakings, this endeavor carries the warning that even this attempt to stop the oil might not work.
“It could be the beginning of the end,” said Darryl Bourgoyne, director of Petroleum Engineering Research Lab at Louisiana State University, about the new operation. The “could” part of that statement has us a little wary, but it seems BP is confident this “kill” will work. Tentatively starting today, the company will start shoving tons of mud, followed by tons of cement, into the now-plugged well hoping to seal it forever. Once the nearby relief well is finished, which could be this week, they will then fill the reservoir feeding the leaky well with tons of oil and cement. After the relief well is plugged the well will be sealed from both sides until they are assured that the well will not start leaking again.
This procedure will hopefully seal the well from both above and below the leak. “The only thing that separates the oil from the sea now is the valve. This puts thousands of feet of mud and cement in between,” said Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute. “The idea is to have as many barriers as possible between the ocean and the reservoir. We’re adding an extra level of safety,” he added. Finally, an extra level of safety. Maybe if we had that extra level in the beginning, this whole thing never would have happened.