The possibility that the capped Deepwater Horizon well may be leaking at points kilometers from the wellhead calls for the only guaranteed and permanent solution (“BP, feds at odds over cap on well,” Nation, Monday).
We need to use the current wellhead apparatus or the first relief well not to plug the well, but to put the well into standard oil and gas production. This will immediately relieve the 9,000 pounds per square inch of pressure causing the seepage, and by eventually draining the reservoir, there will not be leakage or a blowout now, in a decade or even in a thousand years. Guaranteed.
The presence of the second relief well and properly following best-practices drilling procedures will insure against another blowout, and BP can sell the resulting oil to help pay for the cleanup.
The current plan to use the relief well to inject a “bottom kill” plug may not work if there are fissures in the bedrock, which might be a cause of the current leaks, and the plug itself could fail at some later decade or century in various ways, including earthquake damage.
Drain the well, don’t seal it.