I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Print and broadcast journalists are using the word “integrity” a lot these days when reporting about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – not so much as it relates to BP, but more so as it relates to the well itself.

The view from a BP remote camera still shows that plenty of oil is still leaking from the ocean floor after a cap was placed over the well, on June 7, 2010. The device is collecting one third to three-fourths of the oil gushing from the sea floor. UPI/BP Photo via Newscom

BP plans to do an “integrity test” on the new cap, which according to this article, includes closing valves on the new cap and then checking them to make sure the cap can handle high pressure.

If the pressure readings are too low, it’s an indication that oil is leaking into the surrounding mud and rock formations below the gulf floor.

An article on the EngineerLive website makes this point about well integrity:

After many years in services well structures may become unstable due to corrosion of the conductor, surface and production casings. Many of these areas are unseen and corrosion can go unnoticed. To prevent potential structural failures, which in many cases can lead to disastrous consequences, casings need to be strengthened and protected from further corrosion. Densit provides complete solutions for reinstatement of the well integrity using UHPC (Ultra High Performance Cementitious) material.

Densit UHPC material provides structural integrity of the well conductor and casings, together with effective protection against corrosion. These benefits are usually achieved without any adverse effects on production rates.

I’ve been thinking about integrity in this context and it has given me a better understanding of what it means. Integrity not only stands up under high pressure, but it requires high pressure to test for unseen areas of corrosion.

I don’t think this means we ought to go looking for high pressure situations, but I also don’t think we ought to go running from them either. When they come, they make for good opportunities to learn our true weaknesses, and then, hopefully, to do something about them.


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