Transcript of Thad Allen's briefing Friday on the Deepwater Horizon spill

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 6, 2010 

This is transcript of National Incident Commander Thad Allen's briefing with reporters on Friday, Aug. 6, on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The transcript was distributed by the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center.

August 6, 2010

12 p.m. EDT

Thad Allen: Thank you, Jeff, and good afternoon, folks. A couple of updates, and we’ll be glad to go to questions. As you know we completed cementing the well from the top. Over the last 24 hours, several things have occurred. They've put a layer of fluid on top of the cement and then put more mud on top of that to press it down to help add pressure to help cure the cement. That’ll be going on for 24 hours through today. They will then start pressure testing to make sure the cement is set and is holding in the well.

At the same time, we have commenced drilling through the cement shoe that was covering the end of the casing on the relief well, and they will be proceeding forward. I’d like to give you just a little bit of an update, and again, these are approximate dates moving forward of what we can expect now that we’ve submitted in the well from the top in regards to moving ahead with the relief well and cementing the well from the bottom.

Let me state upfront, because there has been some questions about this, we are unequivocally committed to completing the relief wells, drilling into the annulus and submitting the annulus as the bottom portion of this kill, and there is no indication at all that there should be – that we completed this with the – with the static kill from the top, just in case there’s any confusion out there. So what will happen is, we will do a ranging run over the next 24 hours, and then we’ll drill approximately 30 feet further down into the well, and between the 8th of August and the 13th of August, there’ll be three patterns where we will drill 30 feet, do a ranging run. That’s putting the wire down the hole and sensing where the pipe is at on the Macondo well, and we expect to be somewhere around the annulus around the 13th of August, and the drilling portion into the annulus is expected to occur somewhere between the 14th and the 15th of August.

The company, however, is prepared to move ahead and deal with the annulus somehow if they encounter it on the way down. As I’ve told you in previous briefings, we’re starting about 4-1/2 feet away from the well horizontally, and we’ll drill down at a very, very slight angle. If for some reason they penetrate the annulus in the process of doing that, they’ll prepare – they'll be prepared to go ahead and assess the condition of the annulus at that point and go ahead and submit the well in.

We do not believe that the second try will be needed to go into the casing pipe because the indications are from the cement that was put in from the top is that the casing has been filled with cement down at that level, but we will not be sure of that until we finish the pressure checks that I mentioned earlier. But if the – if the pressure checks hold and we have indication the casing has been sealed off with cement, then the killing alone would require only going into the annulus. But we will not know that until the pressure checks are complete on the – on the cementing that was done yesterday and we actually enter the annulus itself and understand what the condition is at that time.

Other operations, we are spending a considerable amount of effort right now that’s been deployed. In areas where there is no oil, we are picking up the boom, and we are decontaminating it. Whether it has oil or growth – marine growth on it, we are getting that boom cleaned and ready to deploy. There’s some areas where boom was pushed up into marshlands because of Tropical Storm Bonnie. We continue to recover that as well. But in general, as we get to a point where boom is not needed in a certain location, we will pick that boom up, get it ready for redeployment and stage it but not deploy it unless it’s absolutely necessary. We’ll work that locally with the states and the parishes as we move forward.

And with that, I’ll be glad to take your questions.

Operator: At this time, I would like to remind everyone, in order to ask a question, please press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. We’ll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster. Your first question comes from the line of Greg Bluestein with the “Associated Press.”

Greg Bluestein: Hi, Admiral. Thanks for the call. BP indicated today it could still dig another well to tap the underground reservoir that feeds the oil spill. Has BP sought the government’s permission to do so or indicated that they would sell the lease, and should they be allowed to do so?

Thad Allen: I’m not familiar with any other attempt to drill there. The only thing I’m aware of is the second relief well that is holding at a certain depth in case we need to use that. Regarding any future production out of that well, I’m sorry, I don't have any information on that.

Greg Bluestein: Thank you.

Thad Allen: Yes.

Operator: Your next question comes from the line of Anne Thompson with “NBC News.” Ms. Thompson, your line is open. Again, at this time, if you'd like to ask a question, please press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. Again, to ask a question, please press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. You have a question from the line of Anne Thompson with “NBC News.”

Anne Thompson: I’m sorry, Admiral Allen. We’re having some technical difficulties here. I just wanted to follow-up on Greg’s question. What’s your reaction to BP saying they may drill into this reservoir again?

Thad Allen: I hadn’t heard that, Anne. They hadn’t brought it up – it hadn’t come up in the course of discussions that I’ve had with BP executives. I would – I would assume that’s a policy issue related to the management of the lease and Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy, and frankly it just had not been raised to my level at this point, so I’m not sure I can comment on it.

Operator: Again, to ask a question, please press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. We’ll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster.

Thad Allen: Operator, it would appear that we’re through for the day here.

Operator: Thank you for participating in today’s conference. You may disconnect at this time.

Thad Allen: Thank you.

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