[Marxism] Delay in testing BP well hints at larger problems

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 14 07:50:46 MDT 2010

Delay in testing BP well hints at larger problems

At 8:36 PM CDT, Tuesday, Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point 
man on the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, released a press 
statement that hints at a potentially major problem in the efforts 
to plug the runaway oil well on the ocean floor.

The statement is short enough to reprint the important part of it 

     “Today I met with Secretary Chu, Marcia McNutt and other 
scientists and geologists as well as officials from BP and other 
industry representatives as we continue to prepare and review 
protocols for the well integrity test – including the seismic 
mapping run that was made around the well site this morning. As a 
result of these discussions, we decided that the process may 
benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight 
and tomorrow.”

Unpacking these statements to get at what is really being said has 
been an ongoing battle. It is no surprise that Marcia McNutt was 
at the meeting. She is head of the U.S. Geologic Survey and chairs 
the government panel charged with making estimates of the oil flow 

Allen’s decision (or that of whoever actually wrote the press 
statement) to mention her name may be significant given the 
context, however. While some in the media continue reporting that 
the “stacking cap” is being tested, that isn’t the case. The tests 
are to learn the condition of the well itself. Experts have been 
concerned all along that the well casement, the part below the 
seafloor, was either damaged in the April explosion or led to the 
explosion in the first place.

Allen’s reference to an already performed “seismic mapping run” as 
a reason for delaying the test, suggests the possibility of a 
second even more serious problem. Geologists may have detected 
cracks or fissures in the rock surrounding the well, weaknesses 
probably caused by the initial explosion.

If that’s true, the area may not be stable enough to proceed with 
the well test. The pressure generated by shutting off the flow of 
oil could lead to a catastrophic failure of the well — allowing 
crude to spew into the water at a rate even greater than it 
already is.

As bad as things are, they could quickly get far worse, and that 
knowledge may be making the assembled team think hard before 
continuing. There is great public and political pressure for them 
to “plug the damn hole.” But the caution that was absent during 
the lead up to the explosion, is exactly what is needed now.

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