We are still looking at August to cap BP well

According to Adm. Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander, BP is in position to move forward, when the weather conditions allow, to put a second containment cap on Deepwater Horizon well.

“That will allow us at some point with—as other production platforms are brought on board during the month of July to increase our production rate to between 60,000 and 80,000 barrels,” Allen said a press conference yesterday.

Adm. Allen was asked about capping the well using the relief wells. As I’ve reported before, the wellbore that the relief wells are trying to hit is less than eight inches in diameter. Just because the relief wells might reach the underground pipe by July 27, it still could take days or weeks to properly make contact with the wellbore. Here is how Allen described the difficulty of this part of the operations:

“Yes, we are several hundred feet away from the penetration point at this point and what’s going to happen is they will drill ahead somewhere between 10 and 15 feet at a time. They will withdraw the bit and actually put down a (inaudible) device on an electrical cable. They will take a look at it – trying to detect the electromagnetic field around the pipe casing and the well bore.

This allows them to get a range and a bearing if you will, from the well bore they’re drilling to the well bore they’re trying to intercept. They do this very, very slowly so that the end of the pipe they’re trying to intercept is between seven and eight inches wide and they’re doing this down at about over 17,000 feet of measured depth.

So the next period of time will probably take seven to 10 days to get to a point where they can turn the drill inward and actually start to penetrate the wellbore. At that point they will go through a series of layers leading to the inner pipe and it depends on where the oil is coming up through, where they can intercept it, where they can put the mud in and where they can put the cement plug.

How many days after that will take them to actually seal the well? If for instance, all the oil that is coming to the surface is not coming through the center pipe. But what they call the annulus that is a circle of area outside the pipe and they find that first they put the mud in or able to put the plug in you know that stops it then everything will happen much sooner.

But we can’t rule out the fact that the oil is coming up through the center pipe, which requires them to then drill back in again and complete the same series of procedures and steps to put mud in the pipe and plug it.

There will be a series of sequential steps. If you take I will call it the worst case but if you take the scenario (inaudible) it requires you to exhaust all means by which the hydrocarbons or oil could be coming up that wellbore to the surface it takes you into August.

All I’m saying is I don’t think we need to (inaudible) on hitting it the first time and there’s always the chance we could run into some kind of a weather window after the one we’re talking about now.

So I think prudence dictates we have realistic expectations that this could be done by middle August if it happens sooner than that I think we can all jump for joy but right now as I said middle August I think is a reasonable date.”