It took a few hours of searching the ever increasingly dumbed down internet before I found a report both scientific and dense enough to explain what this most serious of drilling disasters can involve. The potential ramifications are both severe and frightening.
Quoting from a 2005 article in World Oil
"Wellsites in near proximity (to the Underground Blowout) can allow damage caused by a single well to adversely affect other wells. This is common on both land and offshore platform sites. It is not uncommon for a single well UGBO to 1) pressurize annuli of adjacent wells, 2) cause pipe damage or severed casing, 3) settling, or 4) result in a surface blowout in one or more wells.
... A few documented cases have resulted in complete platform losses. Some have settled and disappeared in mudline craters."
Are the so called plums of drifting oil actually coming from other sites?
The question also arises; Could this disaster actually have begun with an Underground Blowout, which lead to a surface blowout once the BOP was shut down AFTER the well began spewing drilling mud, thus causing a high pressure "kick" that blew the well casing somewhere under the ocean floor? And could that fracture be allowing oil to not only flow from the sea bed, but also from one chamber to another, causing other wells to become pressurized and unstable? If we are dealing with an Underground Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and the danger of it effecting other nearby wells, we need to arm ourselves with the science.
Here is all you ever wanted to know about high pressure Underground Blowouts. And by the way, it was written back in 2005, long before the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
I wonder how many decision makers were briefed on this potential doomsday disaster before they issued drilling permits? But that is another discussion.
For now, let's study the facts about Underground Blowouts.