July 19, 2010 – Over the weekend, controversy surrounded the BP oil spill, the new containment cap and the continuation of the well integrity test. BP and the government seemed to have different games plans for oil leak containment going forward until a relief well can plug the Deepwater Horizon broken well sometime in August. Even so, the well integrity test will go on, at least through the afternoon.
This morning, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen issued another statement. He used the phrases “possible observation of methane over the well” and “detection of a seep near the well” as issues to be addressed by BP, without explaining what these discoveries actually mean. He also reiterated the need for heightened monitoring and analysis of the seepage and methane.
The public has not been aware of either the seepage or the possible methane, so this statement raises many questions, for which no answers have been given.
Some of these vital questions include:
- When was the seep discovered?
- Was its existance known about before the new cap placement and well integrity test started?
- How far is the seepage from the well site?
- What is seeping?
- How will it be determined if the seepage is hydrocarbons?
- Who is doing the testing to make that determination?
- When will the public be told about the results?
- What is causing the bubbles that are being reported over the wellhead? Methane?
- How could the seepage affect the effort to plug the well?
- Why not restart the surface containment and production process?
- Was BP doing the extra monitoring required by the government over the weekend?
- Did BP fail to report the seep and the possible methane?
Entire text of statement by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen:
July 19, 2010 05:41:20 CST
“Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations.
Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team.
I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed.”