Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Macondo to undergo standard abandonment process

Nothing has been typical with BP PLC’s deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico since an Apr. 20 blowout caused an explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, killing 11 people. The rig sank on Apr. 22, and the well was responsible for a massive oil spill.

Yet eventually, the well will be abandoned according to typical industry practice. BP and its partners will plug and abandon Macondo on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 with nothing left to see, marking a drastic change from months of live video feeds provided publicly via remotely operated vehicles.

The well has been shut in since July 15, and BP engineers plan to swap the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer with another BOP before completing a relief well, now expected scheduled for after Labor Day. Industry routinely puts on and takes off BOPs.

Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president of exploration and drilling, said industry has very clearly defined regulations and procedures on how to abandon a well.

“There’s a very sophisticated procedure we’ll go through before the well is ultimately abandoned,” Wells said. “But, of course, it will have been killed and cemented…well in advance of that. But, those will be the final steps we’ll take. That will be very much routine, like we do any well when we plug and abandon it.”

The exception being that the Deepwater Horizon BOP, once removed, will be the subject of investigation.

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