The Relief Well. Savior or Destroyer? 20100601

I have been keeping up with some interest with the situation in the Gulf.  All attempts to staunch the flow of oil from the damaged riser from the well have failed, and as we speak, another attempt is being tried, cutting off the riser to find unbent metal and essentially pushing a straw with a cork on it into the interior of the riser.

That might work, but I suspect that the pressure from the methane dissolved in the oil will make it difficult.  Perhaps if a pair of flanges could be welded onto the riser and the pipe, and then bolted down to secure them, it might work.

But my question is much more deep than that.  Everyone says that the real solution is a relief well that will tap the reservoir of oil and reduce the pressure on the wild one.  Actually, BP is drilling two relief wells as we read.

The question that I have, and have not seen in the popular media (I will admit that I did not have time to scan all of the posts here about this question, and if this is repetitive, let me know and I will take down this post) is what happens if one or both of the relief well blow out like the first one did?  This seems to me to be a horrible possibility that has not been considered.

BP failed miserably with the first drilling, so why do we think that it can do better with the second or third ones?  Obviously this reservoir of oil is under extreme pressure, and I am not sure that drilling two more is a good idea.  At best, one of them might find the source of the first one and try to clog it from the bottom.  I will remind you that GPS does not work that far down in the sea, so they are not able to pinpoint where the well goes.

At worst, instead of one well blowing out, we might have two or three, and instead of whatever estimate of the release could be doubled or trebled.  This is an astonishingly bad eventuality, and we had better think long and hard before the Federal government allows the failed BP to penetrate the cap rock over this highly pressurized formation.

In short, instead of the final solution, the relief well just might be the final destruction.

As always, comments, contradictions, and conversation is welcomed.

Warmest regards,


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  1. on this disaster?

    Warmest regards,


  2. The idea is- relief well will be dug to intersect deep underground with the main well.  Then, once the two wells are connected, they’ll pump ‘mud’ (actually a heavy metal compound) into the well(s) which will fill the main well from the bottom–and then they will kill them both with cement.

    The reason they need multiple wells, is that the first is likely to fail–hit heavy rock, break a drill bit or whatever.  Experts think two is maybe not enough.

    As for the flange idea, this would be ideal, but they can’t do somthing like that because the BOP is damaged–they fear the whole mess would take off like a champaign cork on new years eve. Only that ain’t Brut.  

  3. they cut so many corners the first time out.  The technology for drilling the original hole may be sound, only they tried to maximize profits at the expense of sound-ness.  Then it blew out, without technology for blow-outs at that depth.


    My confidence is low.  

    • Edger on June 2, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    and with this one leaking, the pressure inside that oil reservoir becomes too low to hold up the weight of the ocean pressing down on the seabed?


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