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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Markey Expresses Concerns on “Bullhead Kill"

Pressure Readings, Well Integrity Still Worrisome Says Chairman; Sends Letter to BP, Thad Allen

July 20, 2010 – With the possibility of a new well-killing strategy put on the table by BP, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today asked BP and Admiral Thad Allen about the risks of the procedure, and whether it has been authorized yet by Unified Command. In the letter, Rep. Markey notes that questions remain about the integrity of the well, leaks from the cap, and low pressure readings during the current cap test.

“We all want a quick resolution to this disaster, but we must be assured that proposed solutions will not make the disaster any worse,” writes Rep. Markey in the letter. Rep. Markey is chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee. “It is critical that we understand the implications of a bullhead kill attempt under the various scenarios that may be operating in the well.”

Rep. Markey notes that the same lower-than-expected pressures exerted by the oil and gas during this current testing phase that have provided the potential opportunity for this new well-killing strategy “is also at the center of an ongoing scientific assessment regarding well integrity.”

Rep. Markey also continued his calls for a better measurement of the flow rate from the well, if the opportunity presents itself, through a 100 percent collection method with ships at the surface. In the letter, Rep. Markey asks if this “bullhead kill” would kill off any chance at performing this test.

Rep. Markey asked Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior Department, about the “bullhead kill” today at a hearing Rep. Markey chaired. Sec. Salazar stated that there were concerns that would have to be addressed before the procedure was given the green light by the Obama administration.

A full copy of the letter is available HERE and the questions sent to BP America CEO Lamar McKay and Admiral Allen are listed below:

  1. If the well integrity has been compromised, what are the potential implications of attempting a bullhead kill procedure?
  2. What additional risks are undertaken with the bullhead kill compared to the alternatives (i.e., a return to containment using production platforms at the sea surface or a continuation of the integrity test conditions)?
  3. Under what conditions (e.g., pressure threshold) would the choke and kill lines used in the bullhead kill be at risk of damage?
  4. Could forcing the hydrocarbons back into the reservoir through the bullhead kill procedure cause damage that could make the bottom kill more challenging or exacerbate any seeps that may be present?
  5. If hydrocarbons are flowing in the annulus, will this decrease the chances of the success of the bullhead kill?
  6. Would a bullhead kill attempt slow progress on the bottom kill in preparation?
    Under what conditions and on what timeline will a bullhead kill be authorized by Unified Command and pursued by BP? Once initiated, how long is the bullhead kill anticipated to take?
  7. Would the bullhead kill also kill off any chance of conducting a 100 percent collection strategy?

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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