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PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

Why is it just assumed that the Macondo Field should be permanently closed? Who made this decision? BP? The Obama administration? Who? Admittedly the Macondo well spewed up to 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in an unprecedented environmental disaster, but now that the well is under control, why seal it permanently? A production well could generate money to help BP, and its partners at the site, Anadarko and Mitsui, pay for damaged economies in the region. Somebody help me here because I just don't get it.

A temporary cap has held in the oil for the past two weeks. The “bottom kill” will permanently seal the Macondo well through one of the two relief wells drilled 13,000 feet below the seafloor. The relief well will deposit a combination of drilling mud, cement, liquids, and nitrogen to stop the flow of oil – perhaps as early as August 7. That operation will come after “static kill,” which has a tentative start date of next Monday. Static kill would deposit the same mixture of materials into the top of the well. Unlike “top kill” in late May, which employed the same tactic, static kill is considered a more realistic solution to preventing oil flow because the container cap, installed in mid-July, is providing a tighter seal around the wellhead and therefore won't allow oil and gas to escape.

The lines will each be fitted with a 2,000-foot internal casing pipe that will carry the materials downward. Once they are in place, the static kill operation will occur, likely Monday. The entire endeavor is set to prepare the launch of the relief well operation. (The Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/2010)