July 19th, 2010
08:55 PM ET

Evening Buzz: BP Well Testing Extended

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/07/15/oil.spill.faq/story.jpg caption="The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster began April 20 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. ." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

The "integrity test" on the BP well in the Gulf will continue for another 24 hours, as company and government officials determine whether the new cap is holding up.

The testing began last Thursday and was originally expected to last 48 hours. It has now been more than four days.

A federal science team and BP officials are trying to determine what's causing lower than hoped for pressure readings. The pressure readings of 6,800 pounds per square inch are lower than the 7,500 pounds engineers expected when the test began.

Scientists are also investigating possible methane gas leaks found around the well and from the broken blowout preventer, as well as from a potentially unrelated seep from the ocean floor about two miles away, former Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters at today's afternoon news conference. But he says right now there's no reason to worry.

"It is the collective opinion of the folks that are talking about this that the small seepages we are finding right now do not present, at least at this point, any indication that there is a threat to the well bore," Allen said.

Officials believe the leaks could be occurring naturally.

Tonight on 360°, CNN's Chad Myers will explain how these natural leaks happen each day in the Gulf. He reports 40 million gallons of oil naturally seeps into the Gulf each year. 40 million gallons.

You'll also hear from Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, who has sent a letter to Adm. Allen on Sunday seeking more information on the well testing.

"By shutting in this well, we could be shutting off our last best chance to determine what BP could pay in government fines," said Rep. Markey.

With the well shut and no oil be collected on ships on the surface there can be no analysis of the flow rate.

Markey wants to know the flow rate because he says BP will face a fine from the federal government for every barrel of oil spilled per day, up to $4,300 per barrel in the case of gross negligence.

We'll also take you back to the night the disaster began. Three months ago tomorrow, the rig burst into flames. In a 360° exclusive, you'll hear from three of the first-responders. For these three men a fishing trip turned into a nightmare.

See you at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. World Sea Life Foundation

    Anderson – I don't understand why we can't find out: How much oil they were collecting BEFORE the spill to calculate how much was actually leaking? Also posted yesterday "I glad I wasn't holding breath. Why are they not trying another top kill? They should be able to seal it from the old BOP."

    July 20, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  2. Barb

    BP's statement that the "gas seap", which is about a mile away, is likely to be part of the natural seeps is questionable. True, natural seeps are part of the geological makeup of the Gulf. However, why is it that the seap was detected after the riser was placed over the casing? Think about the damaged well casing and lack of quality cementing. When you put pressure on top of the well, if there is a crack in the casing below, then the formation pressure will force hydrocarbons to the weakest point – causing migration out of the pipe. The Gulf is riddled with faults in the subsurface, and are perfect conduits for oil to migrate up to the sea floor. The problem is, if they state that the "seap" is related to the well, how do you find the depth where there is a break in the casing considering the current well conditions?

    July 20, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  3. james

    Hi ac I told you go to cocodrie or dulac La,BP is paying boats to go sit in the bay from 6 to 6 and do nothing.they leave every moring and back in every afternoon.Its a wast.just burning fuel

    July 20, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  4. Kimberly

    Why can't they just get the flow rate previous to the explosion? Wouldn't it be about the same as after the explosion?

    July 20, 2010 at 2:28 am |
  5. Matt

    Regarding the flow rate:
    my understanding is that the upward pressure on the new cap is measured accurately in psi. If the upward pressure is now known, it should be simple to determine a flow rate. Like this: a given psi (let's say 5000) through a certain diameter well pipe will produce a certain amount of oil in a given time. It shouldn't be necessary to attach hoses to the cap and suck the oil to the surface to get a flow rate. Right?

    July 20, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  6. Laura

    If BP cant or wont allow the US govt measure the flow of oil to determine comspensation, the US govt should hire another oil company( Shell, Arco, etc) who have the people and technology to do this measurement. In short, if BP cant do the job, we can get our measurement somewhere else. The US govt is NOT behind the 8 ball.

    July 20, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    Let's remember Thad Allen decides (after listening to Government experts and BP) whats done at this time not BP.Me I say unless there is a serious risk of ocean floor seepage, worse still leakage. Then keep the cap on until the relief well is completed successfully.And use the good weather to skim and burn off much more surface oil. It behoves MSRC to work harder. Please pressure this organisation and the gulf coast states to up thier activities in good weather. They have a big opportunity at present to make a difference.
    As for compensation its like an insurance claim especially health care, how often do you get paid in full when you submit the claim, or get a whole bunch of questions back, co pays adjusted etc., At this time its Feingold who said payments to boat owners helping would be deducted from fute claims/payments. Frankly this is normal in any insurance claim, the insured is expected to minimise his losses, not just sit around and do nothing, and every single lawyer advising Boat owners will be telling them to do just that. 32,000 claims paid 64,000 more information please out of 132,000 in total is not bad 73%, for me after 90 days. More to the point Feingold has the money to pay.
    Congressman Markey too busy trying to get a precise number which even via his route would not be accurate. The precise science to do so therefore number does not exist $ 4,300 per barrel assumes gross negligence.
    Your " professor " just spouts emotional speculative gossip, some will love him, me I think he should go back to being a history professor as his comments are just that to me 2 seconds after he spouts the malice and gossip, all against BP, he just ignores real facts.
    Any lawyer will tell you that is extremely difficult to prove gross negligence , and so will any criminal negligence ( even more difficult) as both would imply having done something repeatedly against existing safety laws, oil, drilling legislation or other laws with malice and intention beforehand.
    Finally BP is not a News agency its a commercial shareholder owned company, and I suggest it has been far more transparent than Exxon Mobil ever was and is not comparable with NASA at all!!

    July 20, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  8. Michael Kim

    First thing to check is flow rate. 2nd 6811 psi Monday evening and rising 1 psi per hr. that is a good sign tells you volume is more than 6811 psi and also smaller leak. 3rd 6811 psi less than expected 7500 is not enough volume or leak somewhere. Time will tell. 4th Pressure has to stabilize for 6 hrs then we may know maximum pressure has reached. Surface oil collecting ship is better than deepocean rig-hurricane.

    July 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  9. EagleHarborZig

    As I understand it, BP had tried to pour mud down the well and it was blown out, now, with the cap on it, they want to try again. My question is, how does the mud displace the oil and gas in the pipe and what stops the mud from flowing down the pipe and out the bottom?

    Regarding the volume of oil, do we need an actual measurement? Knowing this was a problem, why didn't the Government demand a measurement before they put on the new cap? If we know the diameter of the well head and the pressure, can't we calculate the volume?

    July 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  10. Ron in WA

    Anderson Pooper, stop w/ the sensationalistic, tabloid journalism. Stop with the feigned indignation. Stop with the conspiracy theory hysteria. Quit whining about lack of transparency (unless you plan to hold the Obama administration to the same standard). I understand you need to find a gimmick to bolster waning ratings but I miss solid, legitimate journalism during this time slot.

    July 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  11. David

    Why can't We as U.S. citizens; the way our laws are; hold them in contempt of court? They have lied from thee beginning. Not right or civil for the American Citizens.

    July 19, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  12. Larryboy

    The primary question is why would BPattempt a risky capping of the well, when they could have easily sent 100% of the oil to the surface ships through the new well head fittings without any leak or pressure concerns. BP is playing with fire to save their money in future spill fines, while the Obama administration has no clue or backbone to do what is right. When do the spill-gate hearings start?

    July 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Tom

    on the issue of measuring the flow rate from the well raised during your show tonight, even if it were opened full flow to one of the production vessels on the surface, with the reservoir pressure reduced now because of the uncontrolled flow to 6800 psi from virgin pressure (est. 15000 psi), NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF OIL FLOWED. THEY CAN ONLY BACK CALCULATE FLOW RATES BASED ON THE VIRGIN PRESSURE AT THE ACTUAL DRAWN DOWN PRESSURE FLOW RATE.

    July 19, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  14. G

    I understand that BP is looking at bullheading. If pressures are too high the bull heading could be turned into a lubricate and bleed method. It will take much longer but it will keep pressures lower. Another possible reason that the pressures are lower is the well has flowed uncontrolled for around 90 days which could be why pressures are lower.

    July 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  15. Michael NYC

    is not this a big story and true
    once again – all that was necessary was to replace flange and broken riser.
    once again – because that would have given the accurate rate of oil leaking the right thing not done
    also this would not pressure BOP and well casing –
    also would not add 100+ tons on top of listing BOP –
    also would expose clearly that the “flange and broken riser pipe should of been replaced" on day 2 and this disaster avoided completely!

    July 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  16. Viv

    Postponing the shut off of the leak just to make BP pay more is absurd. Let's stop the blame game and get this problem solved!

    July 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  17. Annie Kate

    With the pressure being lower than what they expected, continued investigation will have to continue until an explanation is found – if it doesn't continue and then something else bad happens that gets tracked back to the lower pressure reading everyone will shout negilence at BP. This at least shows that some due diligence is occurring for this capping. Its unfortunate that it didn't occur to prevent the initial problem but at least BP is being careful and doing the right thing now on the test.

    July 19, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  18. annne dodds

    I along with millions of others are praying for this to be an end to the gushing oil, now lets not forget the foks who are still suffering, make B.P. pay every day until the ocean that they have destroyed, becomes fruitful again,and the fishermen can go back to work.
    I would still be interested in the fate of the pets who had to be surrendered, especially interested in Fagin the dog you were holding.
    Thank you for your brilliant work Mr. Cooper.

    July 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm |

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