Where’s BP’s Well Integrity Data?

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


BP’s latest attempt to cap the Gulf gusher was put on hold Wednesday afternoon amid questions about whether the company could safely contain the leak without making the disaster worse. The 150,000-pound “capping stack” is in place, but more tests are being conducted to make sure it doesn’t create too much pressure on the well. A well integrity test, meant to ensure that the well can withstand the pressure created by the cap, was supposed to be completed yesterday, but is on hold.

The state of the wellbore has been in question for some time; incident commander Thad Allen said last month that that its condition is unknown. The worry is that more pressure might further damage the wellbore, causing even more oil to spew into the Gulf. Current estimates range from 35,000 barrels per day to 60,000. But internal BP documents estimate that up to 100,000 barrels per day could come from the gusher if the wellbore is further compromised.

Last month, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked BP to provide information about the status of the wellbore, but the company has not yet responded. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a similar letter to BP on June 2; his spokesman confirmed today that they, too, have not received a response from BP despite having “asked them about it many times since.”

Markey sent a second letter today, again asking for more information about the condition:

Please provide documents related to the condition of the wellbore.

—Has BP attempted to determine whether the casing inside the wellbore has been damaged and if so, what were the results? Please provide all measurements, images, and other documents related to the condition of the wellbore, as well as any future plans for such measurements going forward.

—Has BP confirmed or attempted to confirm the presence of hydrocarbons leaking from anywhere other than the containment cap? If so, what were the results? Please provide all related documents.

—Has BP surveyed the vicinity of the well to look for any leaks from the sea floor? If so, what area was surveyed? Please provide all measurements, images, and other documents related to any survey(s) to identify hydrocarbon leakage from the sea floor. If no survey has been performed, why not?

Markey also notes that the administration has been provided with this information, but it hasn’t been made public. He also sent a letter to Allen asking him to make public what they know about the well’s integrity.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate