As part of the government response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, a Well Integrity Team evaluated the geologic hazards of shutting in the Macondo Well at the seafloor and determined the conditions under which it could safely be undertaken. Of particular concern was the possibility that, under the anticipated high shut-in pressures, oil could leak out of the well casing below the seafloor. Such a leak could lead to new geologic pathways for hydrocarbon release to the Gulf of Mexico. Evaluating this hazard required analyses of 2D and 3D seismic surveys, seafloor bathymetry, sediment properties, geophysical well logs, and drilling data to assess the geological, hydrological, and geomechanical conditions around the Macondo Well. After the well was successfully capped and shut in on July 15, 2010, a variety of monitoring activities were used to assess subsurface well integrity. These activities included acquisition of wellhead pressure data, marine multichannel seismic pro- files, seafloor and water-column sonar surveys, and wellhead visual/acoustic monitoring. These data showed that the Macondo Well was not leaking after shut in, and therefore, it could remain safely shut until reservoir pressures were suppressed (killed) with heavy drilling mud and the well was sealed with cement.
Journal or Conference Title
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences
Hickman SH, Hsieh PA, Mooney WD, et al. Scientific basis for safely shutting in the Macondo Well after the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012;109(50):20268-20273. doi:10.1073/pnas.1115847109.