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View Diary: 'Top Kill' confusion (173 comments)

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  •  That's my understanding, too (3+ / 0-)

    I interpret that to mean "we're not done until the well can no longer flow, no matter what happens." So in light of what Suttles said in the quote in this diary, here's my understanding:

    Top kill was reducing well pressure, which is necessary but not sufficient. They were hoping that it would completely balance the well pressure, but they understood that the first attempt, with that particular weight and composition of mud, may not work. So they had plans of what to try next. This probably includes more mud, different mud, and likely some other things that I don't know about or understand. But it also includes the junk shot, to try to partially block the flow upstream, i.e. out the riser. They didn't want to do that first, because it involved some risk of making the holes upstream bigger instead of blocking them, and if the first top kill attempt worked it wouldn't have been necessary. But they're not particularly surprised to be in the position to have to try it. So now, they're hoping that after a junk shot, the next injection of mud will balance the pressure and allow for cementing. But I doubt they'll be particularly surprised if that doesn't work either, and probably have further plans of what to try after that, be it using different weight mud, more junk shots, whatever.

    So since they probably have plan A, Plan B, plan C, etc., they can continue to say "it's going according to plan" until they're completely out of options to make the top kill work. But we should understand that "according to plan" doesn't necessarily mean they're anywhere close to being done.

    They're done when the well physically cannot flow. The image I have in my head, which is undoubtedly completely wrong, is of the entire well bore filled with drilling mud that's so dense that it's no longer the path of least resistance from the reservoir. I.e. what used to be a well is now just a giant plug.

    Like I said, I'm pretty sure that image is wrong, but what I think may be accurate about it is that the goal is not (to use another probably horrible metaphor) to have a cork stuck in the end of a pressurized bottle, which could eventually blow off, but rather to make what used to be the neck of the bottle just as inescapable as the rest of the bottle, if that makes any sense.

    As for Allen, what he said appears to just be flat wrong. He either didn't understand, was misled, or was lying...I don't see any way to interpret it as an accurate statement that WE misunderstood.

    •  Great post and thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, middleagedhousewife, kydoc

      First off, I am just going to wash my hands of Adm Allen.  He just cannot force himself to say something like, "That cat is brown".  He say something like, "Spectronomic anaylsis of refelcted electormagnetic radioation from the subject feline fails to identify a single sufficiently concentrated distribution around any single primary or secondard chromatic index."

      But as for the rst your post here is entirely as I understand matters, with one small detail askew.  The 'top kill' procedure ends not when the drill hole is flled with mud, but whn it is filled top-to-bottom with concrete.  So at the end tehre will be a 13,000-foot-long plug of cement keeping the DH well site from leaking.

      That is one big plug for the bottle.

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