Blowout Engineer: Relief well risks “the same type of explosion that destroyed the rig”; May drill “directly into the oil producing formation”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
By Paul Martin
July 5th, 2010

Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher, AP, July 5, 2010:

“It’s very unpredictable because the current condition of the well down there is unknown,” said Satish Nagarajaiah, a Rice University engineering professor who focuses on offshore structures. …

[T]here’s potential peril if BP misses its target and decides to drill deeper directly into the oil producing formation.

George Hirasaki, a Rice University professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering who was involved in the Bay Marchand oil containment effort for Shell, said engineers have to be very careful when drilling into any formation that has hydrocarbons, which poses the risk of the same type of explosion that destroyed the rig.

[Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern
Methodist University] said there have been past successes with relief wells on land and in shallower waters…

“There haven’t been a significant number of deepwater blowouts before,” [Gene Beck, a petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M University] said. “To a certain extent, we’re in an unproven area here, as well.”

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