I heard about this suggestion for controlling the leak in BP's Deepwater Horizon Well from OEN postings by Chris Landau, who worked as a "mud engineer" on a similar leak in California that was successfully stopped a few years ago. This procedure is very simple and straight-forward, low risk, and can be started as soon as the two relief wells now being drilled reach the vicinity of the leak, which should be in August. If it succeeds completely, it will lower the pressure inside the leaking well to the point where it can be plugged from the top down by methods similar to the "top kill" that was previously tried and failed. If it succeeds only partially, it still may lower the pressure to the point where all of the leaking oil can be siphoned off through the "top hat" and prevented from leaking into the ocean. If it fails completely and doesn't significantly lower the pressure in the well, one of the more radical plans for stopping the leak now being discussed can be tried right away using these same relief wells.
The plan would start with drilling the two present relief wells down until they intersect the top of the strata that contain the oil and gas about 1500 feet from the leaking well and then start pumping out as much of these petroleum products as possible. There are many such strata, separated from one another by strata of non-porous rock, and success depends on determining which ones of these should be tapped to get maximum pressure relief in the Deepwater well. Both BP and the government have the "mud logs" and "e-logs" that were made before the blow-out to use in identifying these strata and give the operation a maximum chance of success.
The second step, which should start immediately, is to start drilling between two and six more relief wells in the same area with the idea of doing the same thing as soon as possible. The more oil that's being sucked out of the petroleum-producing strata near the Deepwater well, the higher the probability that the pressure there will be reduced to the point where the leak can be plugged or at least controlled well enough to prevent leakage into the sea. This will cost a lot of money up front, but the effort will pay for itself quite soon whether it succeeds or not, because the oil that's pumped out can immediately be sold.
Deepwater well with one of the relief wells, cut into the pipe, and try "bottom kill" by pumping in drilling mud and hoping enough of it will accumulate in the riser of the leaking well to equal the pressure exerted by the oil in the strata that are being tapped. This is extremely risky, because if it fails, the additional pressure exerted by the mud could seriously damage the riser pipe deep under the sea floor and create leaks that it would be impossible to control with something similar to the "top cap". Cutting into the leaking pipe is very close to being a "cure or kill" operation, and if the cut is made at the wrong place, there's no way to make another somewhere else in the pipe column.
On the other hand, if a relief well near the leaking well is not reducing the pressure enough to be helpful, it's a relatively simple operation to drill it deeper in hopes of hitting a stratum where pumping out large quantities of oil WILL cause significant pressure-relief. Plus, as I said earlier, if one or two wells relieve some of the pressure but not enough to completely solve the problem, success still may be possible using four, six, or even eight relief wells.
At this point, I'm convinced this method is worth trying, and I'd like to see it discussed in this thread with the specific purposes of:
1) Posting as much evidence as we can showing why this suggestion may or may not be the most practical and hopeful one now available, preferably FROM people with technical knowledge in the field but DIRECTED towards those of us who lack it -- in other words, the conveying of professional-quality information in terms that non-professionals can comprehend. This is difficult, but done quite commonly, and IMO it's well worth the effort for people who have this information to give it try.
2) Composing sample copies of BRIEF and CONCISE synopses of this plan to publish on other Web venues and to put into general circulation both dirtside and on line. If people want to, they can send such synopses to politicians and mass-media outlets as they are produced, but IMO, our major goal here is just get such statements WRITTEN as well and as soon as we possibly can.