26 July 2010 08:02 [Source: ICIS news]
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--BP is preparing to resume drilling operations on its relief wells in the Gulf of Mexico after Tropical Storm Bonnie petered out during the weekend, a White House statement said late on Sunday.
The energy giant evacuated vessels and rigs out of Bonnie’s path late on Thursday but redeployed its drilling rigs back at the spill site on Saturday, the statement said.
“Development Driller II and Development Driller III (DD3) have returned to the well site and are making preparations to resume drilling the relief wells, the firm said.
The DD3 vessel is expected to be latched onto the relief well a mile below the sea's surface by midnight on Sunday, said US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the US federal government's response to the disaster.
Prior to that, oil had been gushing out since the 20 April explosion of the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon offshore rig. Officials had estimated the leak was about 35,000-60,000 bbl/day.
The oil giant had also resumed performing acoustic and seismic monitoring at the site to monitor the wellbore and has reported no anomalies, according to Allen.
“The stack pressure has gone above 6,900 lb/square inch (psi) and currently stands at 6, 904 psi,” Allen said.
The pressure was above the range in which BP said problems could occur, but was still below the target range of 8,000-9,000 psi.
A range of 4,000-6,000 psi could mean that oil was escaping through the sea floor or damaging the well bore.
Work on the relief wells and a separate operation to plug BP’s ruptured oil well were set back at least a week by the evacuation ahead of Bonnie, Allen said.
Before suspending operations, DD3 had drilled the first relief well to a depth of 17,864 feet below the Gulf’s surface.
BP was expected to start preparations for its “static kill” operation, in which heavy drilling mud would be pumped directly into the broken subsea well to push the flow of oil down into the reservoir.
The company would also be working on a back-up system for the static kill, which would allow BP to siphon up to 80,000 bbl/day of oil to its vessels on the surface.
“We will continue to work towards building that second vertical riser system but you have to prioritize what you're going to do and obviously getting that pipe into the relief well right now is the most important item we're working on right now,” Allen said.
BP would take a week to prepare for the static kill operations and would attempt to start injecting mud into the well in the first week of August, Allen said.
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