2010 Archives

Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher


The following story by The Associated Press is from the July 6, 2010, edition of USA Today and appeared in numerous other publications. Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

July 6, 2010

By Harry R. Weber and Michael Kunzelman
Associated Press Writers

HOUSTON — As engineers bore deeper into the seafloor toward the source of the oil still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, BP PLC is growing more confident that the relief well it expects to complete in August will succeed where all previous efforts to contain or kill the gusher have failed.

But what if it doesn't work? At the very least, oil would continue to spill while workers try something else.

That proposition would surely bring more misery for the people who live, work and play along the shores from Louisiana to Florida.

And consider this: Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in June that the reservoir of oil is believed to hold about 2.1 billion gallons of oil. If the problem was never fixed, it could mean another two years of oil spilling — based on the current flow rate — until the reservoir is drained.

BP says the first relief well is on target to be completed by early August. A second relief well, which could be completed a few weeks later, is viewed as a backup if the first one doesn't work. . .

Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said he is "somewhat suspect" that the relief well will hit its target on the first try.

"You're going 18,000 feet to hit a dinner plate. My guess is two or three times is more of a likelihood," he said. 

Read the full story.

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