60% Chance of Tropical Storm

Jim Brown
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BP has got to be sweating bullets this weekend. There is a 60% chance of the stop south of Cuba turning into a tropical storm or even a hurricane.

BP is having a tough week. They are just not getting any breaks from any direction. Just as they were gearing up to bump their collection capabilities to 53,000 bpd a robot sub goes wild and crashes into the top hat containment unit on the top of the blow out preventer. This pushes the unit off the BOP and causes pressurized gas to flow up to the drill ship through an inflow pipe for antifreeze. This sets off an alarm on the ship and BP immediately yanks the top hat off the BOP to prevent complications.

Once they figure out what happened they manage to put the top hat back on although it took several tries before they got it right. The well ran at 100% for several hours while they were working out the problems.

They did get a little break because it appears there is less oil and gas leaking from the top hat now than there was before. It is possible the well is finally running out of pressure after running wide open for several weeks now. Analysts have been expecting this decline in pressure for some time now.

That would be wonderful news for BP. It would mean that the addition of the third collection ship on Tuesday could potentially account for all the leaking oil. Their new capacity would be 53,000 bpd and they are currently only capturing 26,000 bpd.

Other bad news for BP is the increasing tilt in the BOP. Something is wrong in the support on the seafloor and they will have to be very gentle with putting pressure on the BOP until they get the well killed at the bottom.

The relief wells are running ahead of schedule. The first well that was started on May 2nd is at 16,000 feet and closing in on the target at 18,000 feet. Unfortunately this is very slow and tricky work. Every couple hundred feet they have to pull the bit and replace it with a ranging device that will target the other well. Then they pull the string again and drill a couple hundred feet then repeat the process. This is VERY slow work.

They also have to contend with the same gas bubbles and high pressure that blew out the first well. This is not an easy task or one that is free from danger. The drillers will have to be very careful and take every precaution to prevent another blowout.

Relief Well Status

As if BP did not have enough to worry about the weather formation southwest of Cuba has a 60% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone by this weekend. Should it form into a cyclone there is an even greater chance if will enter the gulf at the end of the Yucatan peninsula and that puts a bullseye on the BP well and 60 ship flotilla.

As I mentioned on Wednesday the potential for a hurricane is bad news for the BP fleet. They would have to pull up pipe and move away from the storm and come back when it is over. That means another 10 days with the well running wide open. It also means the oil could contaminate a much wider section of land and go much deeper inland depending on the storm surge.

Current Storm Status

Jim Brown

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