The current scene of this Shakespearean drama focuses in on the cap that was sealed yesterday to stop all the toxic hydrocarbons (oil & gas) from flowing into the environment and destroying what it touches.
The official expectation was that a pressure reading of from 8000 to 9,000 psi of pressure would show the well casing to be intact from top to bottom, but on the other hand that 6,000 psi of pressure or less would tend to show a breach somewhere in the well casing or assembly.
As Murphy's law would have it, the pressure is somewhere near the 6,000 psi level, leaving the officials in somewhat of a quandary:
The initial pressure readings are in an ambiguous range, and officials will have to make a difficult judgment call on whether to keep the well shut in or reopen it, according to Tom Hunter, retired director of the Sandia National Laboratories and a member of the federal government's scientific team overseeing the test.(Washington Post). Figure 2 above shows the current state of the cap, without any breach in the well casing.
"If it were a lot higher, it would be an easier decision to make," Hunter said.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, has said that a pressure reading of 8,000 or 9,000 pounds per square inch would be ideal, while below 6,000 psi might indicate leakage. Hunter, who witnessed the test from BP's war room in Houston, told The Washington Post that the pressure rose to about 6,700 psi and appeared likely to level out "closer to 7,000." He said one possibility is that the reservoir has lost pressure as it has depleted itself the past three months.
"It's just premature to tell. We just don't know whether something is leaking or not," Hunter said.
Lets hope that depiction is the real case so the gusher will have been tamed after 85 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes from the first report on April 20 of an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, after the death of 11 workers, after some 94 - 184 million gallons of toxins spilled into the Gulf, and after vast destruction to the environment and economy.
Hold baby hold!