Application of MODFLOW for Oil Reservoir Simulation During the Deepwater Horizon Crisis



When the Macondo well was shut in on July 15, 2010, the shut-in pressure recovered to a level that indicated the possibility of oil leakage out of the well casing into the surrounding formation. Such a leak could initiate a hydraulic fracture that might eventually breach the seafloor, resulting in renewed and uncontrolled oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico. To help evaluate whether or not to reopen the well, a MODFLOW model was constructed within 24 h after shut in to analyze the shut-in pressure. The model showed that the shut-in pressure can be explained by a reasonable scenario in which the well did not leak after shut in. The rapid response provided a scientific analysis for the decision to keep the well shut, thus ending the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon blow out.