The relief wells being drilled to intercept the gushing Macondo well are expected to be the real way to fix the problem. Dates of July and now August have been given as estimated times for their completion, but confusingly, BP and the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command are not using the same language to describe the progress.
BP said on Monday the first Gulf relief well is at 15,936 feet, and Deepwater Horizon command said on Tuesday that it’s at 10,677 feet. Reports that the well was within a mere 200 feet of its target didn’t help.
So how much further until the relief well is completed? Someone asked Thad Allen yesterday, and this is what they were told:
Q: Hello, Admiral. Thanks for taking my question. You keep saying that the driller ship three is down to about 10,000 feet and it’s closing in on for an intercept. But BP said early on that the well had been drilled down to 18,000 feet. Does it not have to go down all the way to 18,000 feet to do the intercept?
ADMIRAL ALLEN: It does not. I believe they’re going to try and intercept somewhere around between 16,700 and 17,000 feet. We will confirm that for you and put out a statement tomorrow. They don’t have to go clear to the reservoir, which is at 18,000 feet, and what they’re going to do is they’re going to close in and very slowly close to that point where they will then drill through the wellbore casing, and if they need to, drill through the pipe itself. But you are right; they’ll be slightly above the level of the reservoir.
Was that responsive?
Er, not really. In fact, this and some of the other questions around containment show that the communications to the public about exactly what’s going on are not being handled very clearly between BP and JIC, despite all the tweeting, videos, and fancy share buttons.
What we managed to ascertain on Tuesday, which Allen apparently did not, was that two different types of numbers are being thrown around.