Oil Spill Hearings Begin - 'Nitrogen Cement' and 'Failure to Place Cement Plug' Testimony Likely

Congressional hearings will begin today regarding the cause of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Newspaper reports available this evening indicate one set of testimony may be with respect to nitrogen cement, which is "puffier and lighter" than regular cement.

Nitrogen-Cement Mix Is Focus of Gulf Inquiry

Halliburton, the contractor for the cementing job on the Deepwater Horizon well that blew on April 20, used a type of nitrogen-charged cement to close off the bottom of the well, 13,000 feet below the sea bed. The nitrogen gas was blended into regular cement to make a substance that was puffier and lighter than the cement generally used in oil drilling.

Experts said this type of cement can form a stronger bond in certain types of rock, but is also more difficult to use than standard cement, requiring great care in mixing and application.

A supervisor on the rig has said he had not seen nitrogen cement used before in the deepest part of a well, and investigators are examining whether it contributed to the catastrophic explosion that killed 11 workers and caused a continuing oil leak estimated to exceed 200,000 gallons a day.

Testimony is also expected by Halliburton, asserting that cement plugs were not placed at the right time. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Two Oil Firms Tie Rig Blast to 'Plug'

Tim Probert, Halliburton's president of global business lines, plans to testify Tuesday that his company had finished an earlier step, cementing the casing, filling in the area between the pipe and the walls of the well; pressure tests showed the casing had been properly constructed, he will testify.

At this point it is common practice to pour wet cement down into the pipe. The wet cement, which is heavier than the drilling mud, sinks down through the drilling mud and then hardens into a plug thousands of feet down in the well.

The mud then is removed and displaced by seawater; the hardened cement plug holds back any underground gas.

In this case, a decision was made, shortly before the explosion, to perform the remaining tasks in reverse order, according to the expected Senate testimony of Mr. Probert, the Halliburton executive.

"We understand that the drilling contractor then proceeded to displace the riser with seawater prior to the planned placement of the final cement plug…," Mr. Probert says in the prepared testimony, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The "riser" is part of the pipe running from the sea floor up to the drilling rig at the surface.

Edit - Another article to consider: Gas surge shut well a couple of weeks before Gulf oil spill

"One gas kick that occurred as they got toward the bottom of the hole, approximately 10,000 feet below the sea floor, was such a large gas kick that they had to shut down operations," Bea said. "They were concerned about spark sources (on the rig at the surface) so they had to shut it down, because there was so much gas coming out of the rig and they were afraid of the explosion."

Deposits of oil are not in underground caverns; they ooze in the pores of a sponge-like layer of rock, along with natural gas in both gaseous and the crystallized hydrate forms. But the hydrates also exist throughout the drilled rock formations, and like the oil below, they exert upward pressure when a drilling operation opens a path to the surface.

In the incident that forced Deepwater Horizon to shut down drilling temporarily, workers in the rig's drilling mudroom stabilized the situation by putting a heavier form of "mud," actually a mixture of clay and chemicals, into the drill-pipe as a counter-balance, pushing down against the upward pressure of the gas, Bea said.

'Uh oh'
A transcript Bea collected from a witness says the companies were confident enough they had a lucrative oil source that they decided to convert from an exploratory well to a more permanent production well, a process that requires them to apply a metal and cement casing to the well hole. They chose casing 7 inches in diameter, Bea said, and that was further sealed with cement pumped in by Halliburton. Bea said his sources reported that Halliburton was using a "new" kind of cement for the seal, something the scientist said made him say, "Uh oh."

"The cement is infused with chemicals and nitrogen, and those chemicals and nitrogen form a frothy cement that is like shaving soap sprayed from a can," Bea said. "It was put in there because of the concern about damage or destruction of the seals by methane hydrates."

The crew on the Deepwater Horizon waited 20 hours for the cement job to cure before opening a key valve at the wellhead so they could place a final cement plug about 5,000 feet down the well. Bea gives Halliburton credit for writing "many excellent papers" in the past two years about the challenge of setting cement seals in the presence of large amounts of methane hydrates, which the Deepwater Horizon crew encountered in spades.

"Because of the chemicals they've added, they think the cement can cure rapidly," Bea said.

But Halliburton's awareness of cementing's challenges did not stop the cement from failing in the Deepwater Horizon's well. The chemicals they added for the curing process also create a lot of heat, which can thaw the methane hydrate into the gas that causes dangerous kicks, Bea said.

"I call that 'Uh oh' again," he said.

There will no doubt be other finger pointing as well. Commenters are asked to add additional stories, as well as their views on the reasonableness of these assertions.

Somehow, I just knew Oil Slick Dick Cheney's old company would be in the spotlight.
Maybe they should stick to building mess halls in Iraq?

It's all Dick Cheney's fault. (rolls eyes)

HT didn't say "all", so you've done nothing but create your own strawman.

Dick Cheney's speech to the American Petroleum Institute, 1999

...we as an industry have had to deal with the pesky problem that once you find oil and pump it out of the ground you’ve got to turn around and find more or go out of business. Producing oil is obviously a self-depleting activity....By some estimates there will be an average of two per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a three per cent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from?

And his manipulation of falsehoods before the Iraqi war:
- http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=richard_%28_dick_%29_cheney


The quote from Cheney is RIGHT. We do face such a situation. There is NO CONNECTION between oil and invasion of Iraq. Jeez..it's been discussed to death for years and years.
If it's OIL we want then why are we in Afghanistan? Zero oil there. And why have'nt we "rigged" the work for the recovery of the Iraq oil fields to be in favor of American firms? And why hasn't Iraq oil export soared, they have really big reserves that could be produced.


You don't understand the system. Nobody important ever gets punished for what he has done. They either escape entirely, or get punished for something else, like a sexual transgression, or something they had no part in making happen. The downfall of an important person is always arranged in a way that leaves plenty of room for friends and supports to continue to make excuses. The few cases where it seems that an important person is being punished for what he actually did are situations in which you don't understand what actually happened.

How's that as a conspiracy theory of politics?

CG - of course it was about oil, but its not a simplistic connection such as: invade and take over the oil fields. Why do you think that the oil fields and the oil ministry were protected from the git-go? It was considered problematic for a leader with a nationalized oil business to potentially have unrestricted control of the revenue stream from the oil as his interests were not aligned with 'the west'. The oil fields are still protected, permanent bases established, and a fortress embassy constructed in the country. The military has the capability there to take control of the oil resource at any time should the perceived need arise. You can take it to the bank - if Iraq had no oil there would have been no invasion. The geopolitical and strategic issues cannot be ignored. Afghanistan is another matter - and after all, this thread is about the spill in the GOM.

Afghanistan is because of another threat, Al Qaeda, which exists because our oil was accidentally placed in another Middle East country known as Saudi Arabia. It's more complicated that that, of course, but also simpler.

You ignore the realities. The oil infrastructure was protected because Iraq had to be self-sustaining AFTER Saddam was gone. About the only thing they have to raise money was Oil and the UN/US wasn't going to support them financially. Why do you think Saddam rigged a lot of wells to explode? Sorched Earth policy, if he couldn't have Irag then no one would. He knew that Irag without oil might be very unstable giving him or his minions a 2nd chance to get back in power. Don't attribute conspiracy theory to what can be explained by simple things. If there was some sort of conspiracy then the current administration must have been "in" on the secret too. As much as BO says he has changed things the current outlook and strategy in Irag is the same as Bush.

Its not conspiracy theory - just the reality of strategic geo-politics and energy resources. Don't make it more complicated than it is. Underlying policy and motivations have not changed much since the 1970s and the Carter Doctrine - Obama is irrelevant - he is subject to this policy, not responsible for it.

There is absolutely no doubt that the 2002 invasion of Iraq was definitely "about" oil. No oil, no invasion. Period.

If the 2002 invasion of Iraq was all about oil on the part of "CHENEY", then why has the majority of american oil producers been left out of the lease awards and the majority of the leases in Iraq were awarded to the Chinese? When the Chinese want an oilfield, they will pay any price to get it. They (CNOOC Limited) are really not a "for profit" company. They want the oil in the ground for future security of their nation. CNOOC has demonstrated their thirst for oil all over the world. Iraq will deal with anyone, check their history of business.

Now back to the original thread: What people have to realize is that BP developes a drilling prognosis to follow for the entire drilling operation of the well. The cementing procedures are in this prog, as dictated by BP. If the prognosis is deviated from (due to change in the well), then this is also a decision made by BP. Halliburton is a service company performing a service as directed by the well operator..."BP"

I agree, the logic for "all about oil" is rather weak. Saddam was quite willing to sell oil. However, having an uncontrolled dictator in such an oil rich region may have been regarded as too risky.

However, US foreign policy has a long standing habit of creating the opposite effect to the one desired. The US expected to roll into Iraq as liberators and a new democratic nation created over night; they didn't expect a continuing warzone. The fact that it hasn't turned out that US companies are attracted by $2/barrel leases in a war zone, doesn't mean this wasn't the original intention.

Personally I think there was a checklist of goals, including "unfinished business", "democracy domino theory" as well as "sending a message to potential terrorist states" and "stable supply of oil".

What you say is true, but it seems the good ole US has lost out to the Chinese in the bigger scheme of things.

"If the 2002 invasion of Iraq was all about oil on the part of "CHENEY", then why has the majority of american oil producers been left out of the lease awards and the majority of the leases in Iraq were awarded to the Chinese? "

Because it became too obvious that we were in it for our oil companies, and international opinion shifted. Remember, we were starting to craft an Iraqi constitution, until the obvious was stated, "Why shouldn't THEY be doing this??" Once the Iraqis had control of their country, the US was no longer calling the shots. If CNOOC outbid a US firm, why shouldn't the highest bidder get the contract?

Our involvement has been one fiasco after another, and we've stepped on our family jewels over and over...

Are you really curious, George? Or just fishing?

If you really don't know, al Qaida is a group which support and is supported by, largely, the Wahabi fundamentalists in Saudia Arabia. They keep the Saudi princes in line by brute force blackmail, using the terrorists. The Saudis, in turn, keep the Wahabis around because of that. If we could decapitate the terrorist groups, that would relieve the princes a good bit. That is why we are in Afghanistan.

As for Iraq... it has the largest reserves in the area... they were not exploited to the extent that the others have been, and Cheney thought we could get them for a song. Turns out the US taxpayers are paying through the nose for that oil. We should tax imported oil to pay the two Trillion dollars we have spent in the oil wars so far (they began in 1990 with the Persian Gulf War to 'liberate' Kuwait). AND, we should tax the oil billionaires for the interest we have paid on the debt incurred in those wars. And, we should tax the hell out of gasoline, as well as all other oil derived products. Use the proceeds to pay for a real medical care system in America! And to liquidate the national debt. Then we could shut down the Federal Reserve and get on a sound fiscal foundation.

Not bloody likely, especially given how ignorant so many are about the reasons for the wars they want us to fight for them.

As far as Iraq reserves, I agree... they are not what has been claimed. And, even though we paid the cost of eliminating Saddam, we cannot control the people who have taken control of their government. They are elected officials, you see, and it is bad form to depose them as well. So, they put the oil contracts out to bids, and the highest bidder, giving the most for rights to the oil, wins the day. Hard to argue with that if you are market driven, I'd say.

The thing most people agree with about the invasion of Iraq is that Iraq was not involved in 9-11 and had no connections to al Qaida (until we invaded, that is). Most agreed that the connection with oil was clear.

Overall, the reason we have an army in the middle east is that there is oil there and we need the oil. We need the army close by to keep the locals in check. We couldn't stay in Saudia Arabia any longer because the Wahabis demanded we leave (so did bin Laden, if you don't recall that either). So, we needed to keep the troops nearby, couldn't stay where they were, and the closest, easiest target was Iraq. Ergo, find a reason to invade. 9-11 provided the reason, and away we went! It was planned before the 9-11 attacks, which were used to explain the inexplicable.

Afghanaistan is sheer folly on our part. Al Quaida is not there, the Taliban is resisting our presence, and the poppy growers are getting restless as well. The reason we stay: politics in America drove us out of Iraq and Pakistan has nukes (otherwise, we'd be there by now). This is still, first and foremost, a way to keep the troops in the Middle East! For the Oil.

Or, to paraphrase Bill Clinton: 'It's the oil, Stupid.'


WOw, first you say we ARE in Iraq and then we aren't. There is quite a bit of evidence that Saddam was courting Al Queda, the 9/11 Commission mentioned it as did other intelligence sources in several countries. I don't think that Al Queda was physically present in Iraq but you can bet Saddam was sending them money, just as the Saudi's are. But after 9/11 we couldn't take the risk that Saddam wouldn't ship them some Anthrax or worse.

Oil was important, but it was NOT about the oil in IRAQ, it was about geopolitics and destabilization of the entire region by Saddam and that could be said to be about oil. Destabilization would have lead to possible overthrow of the Western friendly Saudis and Kuwaitis and replacement by something like the Wahabbi sect which most likely wouldn't be USA or Oil friendly. Prices would skyrocket, entire economies would crash, and who knows maybe even a different wider war would have ensued. And don't for a minute think it was all the idea of the USA, remember Western Europe gets a lot of oil from that area. The US just lead the way as we normally do. And don't forget we DID have the support of the UN via multiple resolutions.

As far as Iraq itself, it was the aim of the second invasion to remove the risks of Sadddam and to support the democratic conditions so that the Iraqi's COULD sell oil to the highest bidder.

There really aren't true "USA" Oil companies or service firms, they are all so international with offices and divisions the world over. The "home office" may be here but that's just because the business started here. I've always wondered why BigOil never moved offices to places like the Caymans and Bermuda which are much more tax friendly.

I don't really think being in Afghanistan does us much good, the Taliban/Al Queda are really holed up in Pakistan or have moved on to Somalia and other spots in Western Africa. You can kill 10 leaders and 20 more are ready to be marytred. Until we can somehow rid the Middle East from the grip of radical Islam we'll still e chasing terrorist even when the oil runs out. I guess then we'll need a new reason to "fight" since it won't be about oil any longer.

Now we know what George W is up to nowadays...lol

But seriously, after the so-called "intelligence" has been shown to be total bunk, are there still people who believe the 9/11 - Saddam link? The UN resolution was a complete stitch up.


There is plenty of evidence that Saddam was a tin-pot local tyrant. He didn't cooperate with anybody he couldn't control. And Osama could not have had any respect for him. Osama is much higher in the Muslim class heirarchy. Osama is an upper class Sunni religious fanatic. Sadam was a street gang class thug.

The evidence for a connection is entirely manufactured by wishful thinking people outside the Muslim world.

Yes - and tese two were idealogically separated by a wide gulf

Saddam - secular tyrant with a regional agenda
Bin Laden / Al Qaeda - religious jihadi fanatic with global agenda

They were basically enemies

Regards Chris

Tin-pot local tyrant's don't control entire countries and invade thier neighbors and fight a long war with other neighbors or develop biological warfare, ICBMs, massive armies or massive cannons. Remember they called Castro the same thing and he is still around. Chavez looks a lot the same. If you want to call the UN "finding" bunk then thats OK, but the CIA, MI-6, KGB, Mossad and others are all can't be totally wrong. And what about the Al-Queda camp with the aircraft fuselage that was discovered? Obama may have been high class but he knew where to find supporters. He is/was very, very good at fleecing his Arab brothers. When it came to finding support and getting money he didn't care.

Tin-pot tyrants with (as I noted) a regional agenda, and a supply of oil revenues where labour is cheap do create massive armies and invade neighbouring countries - that's what makes them TPTs.

They do go for low-tech (massive cannons etc), bacause they don't have the sophistication to do ICBMs or bio weapons. No evidence whatsoever exists that Saddam ever got 1% of the way towards these types of weapons system

CIA, MI-6, Mossad and others all can be totally wrong when they are servants of political masters who have a war agenda to pursue, and this was proven by the utter failure of the WMD search teams following invasion.

And any compound, anywhere, can be designated an Al Qaeda training camp, by the same agencies, if the politicians want to hear and disseminate that message. Trucks for inflating hydrogen balloons can become mobile chem weapons factories, ete etc, in this fantasy world.

Anyway, that's the last comment from me on this subject, I'm staying on-topic in future.

Regards Chris

Obama may have been high class but he knew where to find supporters. He is/was very, very good at fleecing his Arab brothers.


I trust this was a typo and not a Freudian slip.

When the United States invades a country with the 4th largest proven oil reserves in the world then one would hope that fact would raise a flag in people's minds to be extra cautious about accepting an explanation for the war; but, no. Despite electing Texas oilmen to the executive branch; despite no WMD's; despite no Al Qaeda; despite awarding lucrative Iraqi oil field contracts to Western oil development companies; despite all this; most American's still think the invasion of Iraq is about terrorism; unbelievable! As long as the American people, especially young people, want to believe that the U.S. invades other countries as a force for good then it will keep happening. As long as apathy looks like a yellow $1.85 ribbon sticker and some window flags; then young men and women and innocent foreigners will die for corporate profits. It is the naiveté of the American people that is the root of our own inability to confront the difficult problems facing us.

"It is the naiveté of the American people that is the root of our own inability to confront the difficult problems facing us"

The big problem is television!!! It does not make you think, where evidence for this is found in numerous research studies !!! Hence, whatever Fox News and CNN says is taken as the TRUTH ;-)

Totally agree, and would add talk radio.

"It is the naiveté of the American people that is the root of our own inability to confront the difficult problems facing us"

The big problem is television!!!

You know, having been deep in the darkest depths of suburban America, I have to say that is true. There is no news on the news shows (especially Fox). You can get better in-depth news reporting high in the Himalayan mountains than you can in the middle of the US. There are a lot of Buddhist monks in remote mountain temples that have a better idea what the U.S. is doing internationally than most Americans. (Of course they now have satellite TV and high-speed internet to keep them informed.)

One time, we picked up a guy on the road in Utah (he was wearing a life jacket and carrying a paddle, so we deduced he needed a ride back up-river to his truck) who turned out to have been on Special Forces training in Central America. He had no idea what was going on in Central America, just none. My wife, who had worked in Guatemala doing medical training, tried to fill him in on some of the regional politics, but he just didn't have the background to understand most of it.

despite all this; most American's still think the invasion of Iraq is about terrorism; unbelievable!

So whatdya expect from a populace that believes food comes from the supermarket and you need an SUV to go get it?

"Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV"


Curious George, getting oil and gas is no longer just about securing the place where it is found but also getting it from there to here. Control of the Afganistan pipeline may well have been a reason - http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1208-04.htm

As far as Iraq, well I think we didn't get the pushover war that Perle and Rumsfeld and that group wanted, instead we got a quagmire that many generals predicted. Just because you don't achieve your ends doesn't mean that you didn't have the goals.

One goal for Iraq was however achieved

Indeed, my original pre-war hypothesis was validated in a Financial Times article dated June 5, 2003, which confirmed Iraqi oil sales returning to the international markets were once again denominated in U.S. dollars – not euros.

The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars -- the international currency of oil sales - despite the greenback's recent fall in value. Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq's oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq's recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar [5]


Meanwhile the military industrial complex is making lots of money and the poppy crop is doing well in Afganistan. Some goals were clearly met.

Afghanistan: Al Qaeda camps training 9/11 bombers+refusal to hand them over=Bomb Afghanistan.

Iraq: Oil+GHW Bush assassination attempt+lies about WMD=Bomb Iraq

Pakistan: Nuke worries(India v Pakistan war)+Al Qaeda/Taliban training camps+Terrorist access to nukes = Bomb Pakistan

(rolls eyes again) People are using this disaster to air their personal pet peeves, be it corporatism, republicans, capitalism, etc. Typical BS . Now I see you're taking your turn.

I simply provided factual statements. If you call them BS, then you've just redefined history.

No need to really think about it - continue watching FauxNews, where news is remolded/reshaped and "you decide"...

Obama & company are just as corrupt:


The Obama administration waived environmental reviews for 26 new offshore drilling projects even as the BP oil disaster spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, environmental activists said today.

But Cheney re-arranged the Minerals Management Service and that had consequences:


Between January and March of 2001, incoming Vice President Dick Cheney conducted secret meetings with over 100 oil industry officials allowing them to draft a wish list of industry demands to be implemented by the oil friendly administration....In 2003, newly reconstituted Minerals Management Service genuflected to the oil cartel by recommending the removal of the proposed requirement for acoustic switches. The Minerals Management Service's 2003 study concluded that "acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly."

Cheney is Halliburton's Big Daddy. Halliburton was responsible for the cement work on Deepwater Horizon:

After an exploration well is drilled, cement slurry is pumped through a steel pipe or casing and out through a check valve at the bottom of the casing. It then travels up the outside of the pipe, sheathing the part of the pipe surrounded by the oil and gas zone. When the cement hardens, it is supposed to prevent oil or gas from leaking into adjacent zones along the pipe.As the cement sets, the check valve at the end of the casing prevents any material from flowing back up the pipe. The zone is thus isolated until the company is ready to start production. The process is tricky. A 2007 study by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found that cementing was the single most-important factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period.Halliburton has been accused of performing a poor cement job in the case of a major blowout in the Timor Sea off Australia last August. An investigation is underway.

I would like someone with real experience in undersea drilling to expand on what is said about cementing just after "Cheney is Halliburton's Big ..."
It seems to me that the cement must fill the annulus outside the casing pipe up to a level above the oil containing stratum.


there is a diagram of the well with pipe sizes and elevations.

Where on this diagram should the top level of the cement in the outer annulus have been?
Is there a level above this lowest required level that should NOT be reached? i.e. a level that is TOO MUCH cement?
How do the drillers know when they have pumped enough cement to do the job?
Is this method of knowing reliable for cement with nitrogen in it? (I think volume measures must suffer from not knowing how much the cement expands.)
Is the elevation of the top of the oil containing stratum public information?
Is the composition of the strata above the oil public information?
What guesses do you have to make in your answer because information is not available?

I think these questions may have already been answered, but I'd like clear links to the .gif mentioned above.

ROCKMAN, I put your name here so that you are likely to find this post, but other experts are welcome to join in.


After you drill the hole you run different electronic tools ("logging") down the hole to see what's there. One critical log for cementing is the caliper log. It has 6 arms that continuously measure the diameter of the hole. Just because you drilled it with a 9" diameter bit doesn't mean the hole has a 9" diameter throughout its length. It might be 12" or more over certain areas ("washouts"). This allows a calculation of the bore hole volume. Knowing the volume to be occupied by the casing you can just subtract the csg volume from the hole volume and get the annulus volume. This is a critical number. I want to make sure the cement rises high enough to cover the productive reservoir. Typically you want the cement to extend several hundred feet above the zone. And sometimes all the way to the top of the casing string. Not sure what the BP plan called for. Thus if I want to run the cement X' up the annulus I need to know how many barrels (the common measurement ) of cement to mix and pump. That's the number you get with the caliper log. Along with the cement they pump "spacers" before and after the cement. One of the methods to determine if the cmt reached the planned level is to run the CBL...cmt bond log. A typical problem with cmt jobs is "channeling". The channels are voids along the length of the cement in the annulus. pressure can cause flow through these channels. NG leaking into the cmt is a common cause of channeling. If you think you channeled the cmt you can perf holes in the casing and pump more cmt in (a "squeeze job") to fix this problem.

Operators can keep the geologic information proprietary for a while but eventually it all becomes public. I have no doubt that all data on this well will be publicly released from the official hearing.

Thanks RM. It is all pretty obvious --- after it is explained in minute detail with nothing left to my feeble imagination. I hope it improves the quality of my comments.

When will they hold hearings to publicly release data of all oil production data?
(and having it available through some librarian at the Texas Railroad Commission doesn't count)

Data needs to be free, baby, free.

texas production data is avilable on line. i have never cracked the code on how to obtain it though, except on a limited basis. the most direct way is via the api number. texas is unique, in that it was formerly a colony of spain with all their land grant surveys, there are not any neat and easy section-township-range locations. someone on here probably knows but not me. here is a link to the texas rrc:


good luck !

I have no problem accessing the data for several states free of charge. Now if you want me to tell you how to access the data, then I'm going to charge you. So it really wouldn't be free for you.

Why does the TX RRC not count? THe data is submitted to the state by the operator. If the operator wants to defraud, then it wouldn't make a difference who collects it.

OK, thanks for the ideas.

Just one problem ... Now you won't make any money any more, because a bunch of us are going to go online and get all this data and make it available free of charge for anyone and everyone.

See how that works?

Note the headline of the WSJ article doesn't match the content. If I'm reading that correctly, there was no concrete plug placed at all, let alone a faulty one, because the well blew before they had a chance to do it. For some reason BP decided they wanted to replace the drilling mud with seawater before placing the plug. This was not a simple mixup because they went to MMS for specific permission for this, according to the article.

Were they just trying to save time by dropping the cement through water instead of mud?


You are correct, there was no cement plug set at the time, but there has been talk of a bridge plug having been set. A bridge plug is a drillable metal plug set in the hole by wireline or drill pipe to seal the well. It had not been confirmed if it had been tested. If it had and the casing had been tested as Halliburton stated, this would have given BP the two barriers required.

The advantage of running the bridge plug is that the cement place on top is guaranteed not to gone anywhere. If a balanced plug is set then it is a legal requirement to tag and confirm its depth. Therefore using up more time waiting for it to set and it is no good then you need to do a top up job.

Of course if the leak occurred through the seal assemble which is on the back side of the casing, it would not have mattered how any plugs they had.

Robert -- the tool pusher gave a good tech answer but for those who got fuzzy: there are several cement plugs etc involved in the entire process. You can also include the original cement pumped in between the casing and the rock. It's going to be easy to get lost in the conversation if one doesn't appreciate bridge plugs, casing shoes, top plugs, seal assemblies, packers, ets. When in doubt drop a line to the tool pusher: he has a good handle on all the hardware.


I do not have that much time up my sleeve at the moment, so please continue your fine job of translating my oil field jargon.

Thanks for all your previous post as you have helped put light on the oil field from the drillers perspective

I'm sorry pusher but I have to order you to not unvolunteer. I've got a w/o and a new drill starting soon. I'll tell you what: you take day tower and I'll take nights.

Just teasing. I spend most of my days in front of the puter monitor so it's been easy to bounce in and out.

i'm placing my bet on a blow-out via the top of the liner, although i dont fully understand the downhole mechanics.

nitrogen-charged cement to close off the bottom of the well, 13,000 feet below the sea bed.

I thought the well depth was at 22,000 feet.

There is a rumour that Halliburton was not told the correct depth of the well & the nitrogen cement mix was not strong enough to hold at the greater depth.

Anyone know?


I think you will find the well depth was 18,000ft, 5000ft of this is sea water and 13,000ft was drilled hole.

OK Thanks.

The WSJ article is interesting. They reported;

Halliburton & Transocean blame BP for ordering the replacement of the mud in the riser before the plug was poured and set.

Transocean says the casing & cement must have failed, thereby blaming I suppose Halliburton.

And BP blames Transocean's BOP.

OH! but really they are the best of friends & it's just a conspiracy to share the blame.

I am seeing stories in the press that the well was deeper than this:

Slick Operator: The BP I've Known Too Well

This just in: Becnel tells me that one of the platform workers has informed him that the BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews, who, therefore, poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So, it blew.

I imagine that that this will be one of the things that they will be looking into in the hearings.

Do you all understand that there are at a minimum probably 1000 people every morning on the morning report list for this well??

Including the contractors, Joint Interest Partners, probably the MMS.

And that the rig floor is likely watched like a hawk with video monitoring back in Houston.

And that the Halliburton cement crew probably watched the pipe being unloaded and run in the hole??



ericy -- Halliburton doesn't run the drill pipe ino the hole thru which the cement is pumped. The drill crew determines at what depth the casing is set. They're the ones who ran the cassing in the hole...not Halliburton. But there could be some miscommunications with respect to how much cement was needed. there are many details that have yet to come out before we can determinine who did or didn't do what they were suppose to.

Is the drill crew Transocean? Or some as yet unidentified party?

The drill crew are Transocean employees. In additon there were around 10 to 15 additional subcontractors on the rigs providing related services. I haven't seen the details but it's possible there were no BP employees working on the rig. Sometimes the "company man" is an employee but often he's a consultant. Out of the 140 or so souls on board perhaps only a couple were BP employees. That's normal offshore.

Everyone on the rig knew where the bottom of the casing was. There are multiple subcontractors involved. There no single point source of such info. But did the cement fail? Yes. But because it was a bad cement job or because BP didn't wait long enough for it harden? That will be one of the key tech debates IMHO.

And did BP run a cement log to confirm taht they had a good cement job before displacing the mud, etc. ?

A certain % of cement jobs fail. Fact of life.

Did BP confirm they had a good one or just assume that they did because there was no kick, etc. ?


No confirmation Alan but rumor is no CBL. Also some question on how good was the pressure test on casing shoe.

Shoot me down please if I don't have the facts or logic straight.
Posting under the influence. Warning: wild speculation follows.

The production casing cementing was a nitrogen job(?).
It tested OK(?).

Was a bond log run before calling it good?

I'm no expert on subsea BOPs, but presumably there would be some way to check for pressure in the annulus (after the production casing cement job) between the production string and the previous one (via the choke line?).
Was this low and (importantly) invariant?
Does the casing hanger assembly in and of itself seal off the inter-casing annulus? and if so to what rated pressure?

If the cement job was a (partial) fail outside the casing, it could still have tested good inside against the plugs(?).

Cement job returns volume tracking is generally somewhat vexacious (with u-tube runaways, catch-ups etc) and nitrified slurries just complicate the picture. I haven't personally seen any behave volumetrically as predicted.

It is possible that the cement job did not seal off the high-pressure producing zone. If the casing hanger assembly was not sealing properly, it may not have been noticed due to the mud hydrostatic (serendipously) closely balancing the formation pressure, so that nothing particularly abnormal was showing on the choke pressure prior to the riser displacement to water.

Displacing the riser to water would have taken roughly 2000psi off the hydrostatic pressure on the well outside the production casing(assuming 16-17ppg mudweight) if there was hydraulic communication through the hanger assembly in the BOP.

If the mud displacement to the ship was continuous (as opposed to doing it on a batch basis-i.e. fill a pit on the rig PRIOR to transferring it to the ship, so the volume could be tracked more precisely) then only the return flow sensor(s) would have picked up any anomaly.

Return flow sensors range from the crude (paddles, level sensors in the possum belly) to the the very precise high-dollar stuff (coriolois, mag-flow, spontaneous potential, which require the flowline to be engineered to be full of fluid at the sensor location, rather than act as a culvert).
As has been pointed out on a previous thread, it is entirely possible that the personnel (likely the mudloggers) charged with monitoring this stuff would have already been released by this stage of the operation (the end of the production casing cement job was the typical release point for mudloggers on any job I've been on).

The cruder sensors will detect big, fast events, possibly too late. If the return flow excess (over and above the flow down the string from the pumps) was significant, it is likely the gas was already in the riser (i.e already past the BOPs, the main line of defense).

The high-dollar gear can pick up more subtle anomalies, but as has already been stated by Rockman and others, someone needs to monitor it, actually know what any sensor/data anomalies mean, and be sufficiently bloody-minded to insist that there is a problem (e.g. mudloggers' opinions are often not particularly well respected).

The above is assuming the displaced volume from the riser was running through the bell-nipple and down the flow-line. If these were somehow by-passed (personally I don't see how, please correct me if otherwise) then there would have been no volume or return flow tracking at all on the rig, and it is understandable that the first warning would have been from the vessel's captain.

Changing the subject, what's the prognosis for Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba and the rest of the Gulf / Carribean if this carries on another 60-80 days (assuming that the relief well will be successful)?
What if the the first relief attempt is delayed or a no-go?


To me you pretty much have it down pat. I do not believe a CBL was done, would not have had time in the 20 hrs stated between cement job and the blow out.

The Choke and kill lines terminate inside the BOP itself where as the seal assembly is in the wellhead. I believe subsea production wells have the ability to read annulus pressure but after the Christmas tree is installed, exploration wells do not.

The initial reports I heard said they were pumping through the diverter, latter reports say they were taking mud to the pits. The diverter was definitely open as can be seen in some of the photographs with a flare out the side of the rig, though this may have been opened once they realized the kick was coming. The disadvantage of a long riser is, if the kick is not detected before the gas passes through the BOP, then it is coming at you even if the BOPs are closed, and diverting is the only course of action.

The fact the ROV could not function the rams really indicates it is not a control system fault, and more a physical obstruction in the BOPs to stop the rams from closing. If the seal assembly failed the fist thing would be for the wear bushing to be pushed up possibly lodging itself in the BOP, thought this would not be long enough to stop all the rams from working. I suspect the casing string itself has jacked itself up the hole, but that is my speculation.


This guy in Forbes is quoting BP engineers as saying the BOP sheared but oil is coming around it.



Hmmm..how is that possible and at the rate of 5000bbls/day? I thought BOPs formed a super tight seal if the shear rams were closed. Is there is a way to go around the BOP and up the riser? I'm thinking this is another misuderstanding between what the engineers say and the press reports, perhaps the engineers said the shear rams ACTIVATED (true) and someone got confused.

I think its possible (probable) that the rams were not able to close completely. Remember that there was oil leaking out both the drill pipe and the riser suggesting a path through the drill pipe from the well. The interview I heard yesterday said that BP had obtained pressure readings from the BOP and had completed a gamma ray scan to view the innards of the BOP, so they must now have some answers regarding the state of the leak through the BOP.

A question: the pressure readings - would this refer to hydraulic pressure or well pressure? Could they obtain well pressure readings from external ports on the BOP?

"This guy in Forbes is quoting BP engineers as saying the BOP sheared but oil is coming around it."

Then how would petroleum be seeping out of pipe beyond the BOP?

"but oil is coming around it."

Maybe coming around the shear jaws inside the BOP? Quote seems to be a paraphrase of what a real BOP mechanical design guy might say with all the precision left out.

This petroleum production equipment noob needs exploded views of the equipment so his head won't explode trying to visualize explanations from experts.

The story sounds more confusing as little bits of information come in. The boat Capt says they stopped pumping at 17:00 and they waited until 21:00 before their next message. Does not necessarily mean they were having hole problems at the time, more like pump problems. At this stage if they were having hole problems they would have been calling for the mud to be pumped back to the rig asap.

At 21:00 when the Capt reported mud on his boat, the drill crew must have realized what was happening, they had been pumping down hole with sea water, therefore the top drive would have been attached. Normal course of action on dynamic positioned drilling rig if the well was kicking would have been close the pipe rams, lower the tool joint onto the rams and hang off. This would then leave the shear rams clear of any tool joints. The well is shut in, pressures would be read off the choke line and you are in a position to pump kill mud down hole.

My question is why in the 45mins before the explosion the pipe rams didn't work or the annulars (both of them) didn't work. Though I must say the annulars are only good for 10,000psi and this well with 16ppg mud was at 15,000psi if evacuated to gas.

If the drill pipe was still connected to the top drive (TDS) and the rams were closed and sealed there would have not been a need to use the shears. Only if the TDS had been disconnected and they could not get a stab in safety valve in place would you need to rely on the shears.

The problem with long risers is once the bubble of gas passes the BOP, then it is coming at you and at those pressures and volumes the rig was probably doomed.

As the story reads the shears were activated, which was information BP had very early on but choose not to mention. I sure the company man was at the toolpusher panel in the office pushing the button himself. I see the article says they have closed but not sealed, the fact there was oil coming out of the drill pipe before it was capped to me says it is far from being cut through and therefore obviously not sealing.

There are still a lot of important facts to come out of this before the picture becomes clear!

If the well bore was mostly gas when the rams started would they seal against that much gas pressure?


If you and other readers would kindly excuse the repetition, my understanding of the gist of your post is as follows:

1. The diverter would have by-passed the bell nipple and flow-line.
(I shoulda thought of that).
It is not yet known when returns were directed through the diverter.

2. If the casing was pushed up far enough (seen a lot of that on geothermal jobs due to thermal expansion, usually not super-serious there) into the stack, the shear rams would have been trying to cut through two strings (DP+casing)?

3. It is possible that there was no way to monitor pressure in the inter-casing annulus (Subsea wellheads/BOP are well outside my ken, so I may have misunderstood this).
The stack / wellhead mechanical details, especially potential hydraulic pathways will be key areas of interest(?).

Thanks for the reply.

Probably this has been posted here already but: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG8JHSAVYT0

The leak must be massive and skytruth.org satellite spill estimations are starting to sound much more believable than "mere" 5000 barrels.

My favorite is he says "We have to have fuel, we have to have gasoline" and then gripes that it's the fault of government?! I hope the average person connects this to the SUV in their own driveway.

If I could connect the leak to my SUV, and it would run on it, I would.

This seems to be the most current forum about problems and solutions in the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill I have some ideas for containing the spill and am hoping for criticism. I hope I'm posting in the right place.
1:Can a blowout preventer type device be fashioned of two or more parts so it can be bolted around the damaged riser without damaging the riser further. If it is possible that the BOP failed to completely seal all piping from the wellhead, could that be because the pressure at this well is just too great. If that is a possibility, I hope any other BOP devices installed generate enough force to seal the pipes containing this great pressure.
2: If the containment dome were raised, thawed and drained, then re-installed, but this time with an outflow pipe attached, evacuated and vented to the surface as it covers the leak. I believe that the crystals formed because the flow was quite restricted throught that narrow outlet as the dome was settling into the mud.The pressure difference of that nozzle at 5000 feet underwater compared to that nozzle connected to the surface would be huge. Is pipe made that is strong enough to lower a mile full of air without crushing?
3;This is my original idea. How large a diameter pipe can be fashioned to run from near the surface to hover above each leak. If the pipe is large enough, each should act as an underwater chimney flue. Somebody mentioned earlier that the pipe on the dome was to act as a flue. A flue that small for a fireplace as big as that dome Wild Well Services built justwouldn't get by the housing inspector. I think a flue has to be around 1/2 or 2/3 as big as the fireplace opening to meet modern codes in the US. If the flues too small the room gets smoky. fast. but anyway. The oil should rise, the gas bubbles expand the water should settle out back to the bottom and exit around the oil as it enters. of course everything will swirl and mix and heat and cool and expand and contract and the pipes have to be big enough to allow this to happen without restricting the oils flow up or increasing it's pressure very much, because increased pressure is good for crystal formation and bad for large diameter pipes. I know I am talking about big, expensive pipes, and they must be strong enough to take some current and pressure and they may be tough to anchor, but in theory, on a calm day, will they work? I have another idea to handle the heavy weather at the surface, but I'm going for a smoke, so if anybody thinks this has promise, or not please let me know and the people in charge.

It seems impossible that 5000 barrels per day would be the average flow and they still cannot contain it with massive barn like structure?! 5000 barrels is 2.5 gallons per second, a fire hose blasting. 30000 barrels would be a big fire truck blasting with about five hoses. Which one sounds more plausible and especially after seeing that Youtube link above I posted?

For more, they got tens of big ships there collecting, containing, burning and doing whatever it takes but STILL the spill is growing every day. 30 ships would not be able to contain ONE fire hose?!

I added an excerpt from an article from the New Orleans Times Picaune this morning called Gas surge shut well a couple of weeks before Gulf oil spill

This article talks about the presence of methane hydrates and a previous shut down because of excessive natural gas.

"One gas kick that occurred as they got toward the bottom of the hole, approximately 10,000 feet below the sea floor, was such a large gas kick that they had to shut down operations," Bea said. "They were concerned about spark sources (on the rig at the surface) so they had to shut it down, because there was so much gas coming out of the rig and they were afraid of the explosion."

Deposits of oil are not in underground caverns; they ooze in the pores of a sponge-like layer of rock, along with natural gas in both gaseous and the crystallized hydrate forms. But the hydrates also exist throughout the drilled rock formations, and like the oil below, they exert upward pressure when a drilling operation opens a path to the surface.

In the incident that forced Deepwater Horizon to shut down drilling temporarily, workers in the rig's drilling mudroom stabilized the situation by putting a heavier form of "mud," actually a mixture of clay and chemicals, into the drill-pipe as a counter-balance, pushing down against the upward pressure of the gas, Bea said.

'Uh oh'
A transcript Bea collected from a witness says the companies were confident enough they had a lucrative oil source that they decided to convert from an exploratory well to a more permanent production well, a process that requires them to apply a metal and cement casing to the well hole. They chose casing 7 inches in diameter, Bea said, and that was further sealed with cement pumped in by Halliburton. Bea said his sources reported that Halliburton was using a "new" kind of cement for the seal, something the scientist said made him say, "Uh oh."

"The cement is infused with chemicals and nitrogen, and those chemicals and nitrogen form a frothy cement that is like shaving soap sprayed from a can," Bea said. "It was put in there because of the concern about damage or destruction of the seals by methane hydrates."

The crew on the Deepwater Horizon waited 20 hours for the cement job to cure before opening a key valve at the wellhead so they could place a final cement plug about 5,000 feet down the well. Bea gives Halliburton credit for writing "many excellent papers" in the past two years about the challenge of setting cement seals in the presence of large amounts of methane hydrates, which the Deepwater Horizon crew encountered in spades.

"Because of the chemicals they've added, they think the cement can cure rapidly," Bea said.

But Halliburton's awareness of cementing's challenges did not stop the cement from failing in the Deepwater Horizon's well. The chemicals they added for the curing process also create a lot of heat, which can thaw the methane hydrate into the gas that causes dangerous kicks, Bea said.

"I call that 'Uh oh' again," he said.

Presentations before Senate Hearing

RESCHEDULED FULL COMMITTEE HEARING: to review current issues related to offshore oil and gas development (SR-325). OVERFLOW ROOM, SD-366.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 10:00 AM
Watch this hearing live!

The purpose of the hearing is to review current issues related to offshore oil and gas development including the Department of the Interior’s recent five year planning announcements and the accident in the Gulf of Mexico involving the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon (SR-325). OVERFLOW ROOM, SD-366.

Note: originally scheduled for May 6, 2010.

Majority Statements
No Statements Posted
Minority Statements
No Statements Posted

Panel 1
Dr. F.E. Beck - Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
Mr. Danenberger - Former Chief, Offshore Regulatory Program, Minerals Management Service

Panel 2
Mr. Lamar McKay - President and Chairman , BP America, Inc.
Mr. Steven Newman - President and Chief Executive Officer, Transocean Limited
Mr. Tim Probert - President, Global Business Lines; Chief Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, Halliburton

Rockman, see Pobert's doc for details.

OK, maybe my understanding is wrong, but Methane Hydrates would NOT be present in the production zone? I thought hydrates only occured at shallow depths? So was the kick coming from above the production zone, maybe from the upper (2nd) plug? 5000' is about the upper limit for hydrates to form assuming they were even in a gas bearing zone at that depth.

Concrete curing is exothermic but the temps downhole at 13,000 ft are pretty warm too so I would quess that hydrates down there aren't possible. I would think the issue would be concrete setting too fast before it has sealed off the production zone and that might be a case for a big kick when the hydrostatic pressure from the mud was removed. The fact that oil is coming with the gas suggests to me that the production zone is leaking into the casing(s).

I'm still getting confusing and mixed signals depending on who is reporting what. At this time I consider them all HYPOTHECTICAL reasons, not the true reason.

The well is leaking oil - not just gas, so even if hydrates were a problem initially I don't see how they could be responsible for the current problem, as you say. Aren't the well casings cemented as they are installed - a stage at a time?

The hydrates could be forming after the expanded gas contacts seawater. That may be why they are trying a smaller dome - less contact zone. They will also have to throttle the flow to keep seawater from becoming entrained and going up the pipe. One of the previous posts made reference that the big dome was supposed to act like a flue. Bad idea - don't want to suck any seawater up the pipe with the oil and gas.

Hydrates in the WELL not in the flow that is going to be "controlled" by the dome. I understand how hydrates were clogging the big dome, but there was some "reporting" that hydrates in the well were activated by the cement curing which gives off heat.

Oops - I accidentally changed scenarios there, didn't I. Sorry about that. I share your confusion regarding how hydrates could have been a problem down in the drill hole because, from what little I know about hydrates, the producing zone should be far below the zone of methane hydrates.

What would be so bad about taking on some water if you're collecting large amounts of oil? the object isn't to protect the ship, from a cleaning down the road: it's to protect the ocean. Please explain.

Yes, I agree. But if methane gas is flowing out of plumbing on the seafloor, it probably reacts with seawater to form hydrate almost instantaneously as it exits the crack/leak. The hydrate crystals are probably invisible because of the simple way the scene is illuminated and the small size of the crystals. Shelburn's comment about flow from leak cutting off your arm needs to be augmented. What you see may not be the whole story.

Folks -- I'm no methane hydrate expert. But I know NG production. When high pressure NG is produced the pressure will drop greatly at the well head. Most NG producing wells would freeze solid it it were not for "heater treaters". Typically NG fired they keep the well head and production tubing hot enough to keep from freezing. There is a huge pressure drop as the NG reaches the surface of the leaking piping. Just a guess but probably greater than 10,000 psi. I have no idea if the frozen NG is actually a hydrate or not. But what being seen at the dome is not the hydrates folks have speculated as being a potential NG resource in Deep Water. Just a guess but the NG temp in the spewing formation probably exceeds 250 F. Add the temp drop from the pressure reduction with the near freezing temp of sea water at that depth seeing frozen NG (be they have a hydrate stucture or not) is not a big surprise IMHO.

This is all impure and mostly uninformed speculation on my part, but my spidey sense is tingling.

Just how cold are we talking? If there was significant chilling of the rams before the BOP was ordered closed, the steel in both the drill pipe and the cutting edges of the BOP may have become slightly more brittle, slightly more prone to chip and crack, making it slightly harder to make a clean shear and seal. Maybe just enough harder.

There were reports of a very loud jet-like noise before the explosion, what if during that time the gas was expanding in the casing far below the BOP? The BOP was wide open at the time, no? I'm also thinking that at least some of the mud column below the BOP would have been frozen by the gas expansion, so the rams would have been closing on a mud slushee for whatever the length of that 'plug' of iced mud would be. That's probably not enough to dull the shear rams, though.

Once the rams (mostly) sealed, the gas expansion would occur above the BOP in the drill pipe and riser, and the BOP would be passing the hot oil and gas, so it would warm up again.

No doubt the BOP is specified and designed to operate at the temperatures of the sea floor, but has it been tested with those kind of additional differential temperatures? Man, when I think about the additional induced dimensional stresses, and changes in material characteristics, my mind boggles.

The engineer in me looks forward to the BOP tear down with mad curiosity.

Wow, and now they are the vision of responsibility
Thanks for posting. and hosting! I also wanted to ask folks who wnt to help to visit http://matteroftrust.org and mention I have a blog about this, it's

Actually NG cut cement is an old problem they've been working on for decades. And poor quality cement jobs, NG cut or not, are not uncommon. A fairly standard procedure is to run a CBL (cmt bond log) to measure the quality of the bonding between the cmt and the casing. An equally standard procedure of perforating the casing and pumping more cmt in (a "squeeze job") is used to fix the problem. There is a rumor that no CBL was run.

You can also pressure up on the cmt at the bottom of the casing to test its integrity. Some confusion if/how well BP performed such tests. Cmt jobs often are not 100% perfect. Same reason you carry a reserve chute when you jump out of an airplane. We have to wait for the details of the investigation but at the moment it looks like BP didn't have their reserve chute on. Cmt failure is bad enough but not taking standard safeguards against such a possibility is worse.

"There is a rumor that no CBL was run."

Ouch. If true that sounds fairly serious.

I would assume this would be BP's responsibility?

BP is resposible for the quality control of all aspects of the well. If a contractor, such as Halliburton, provides an inferior product or service it is BP's responsibility to know about it and fix the problem. Now if a subcontractor hides the fact from BP then that's a different matter.

from Halliburton's Senate testimony

Following  the  placement  of  51  barrels  of  cement  slurry,  the  casing  seal  assembly  was  set  in  the  casing  hanger.  In  accordance  with  accepted  industry  practice,  as  required  by  MMS  and  as  directed  by  the  well  owner,  a  positive  pressure  test  was  then  conducted  to  demonstrate  the  integrity  of  the  production  casing  string.  The  results  of  the  positive  test  were  reviewed  by  the  well  owner  and  the  decision  was  made  to proceed with the well program. 

The next step included the performance of a “negative” pressure test, which tests the integrity of the casing seal  assembly  and  is  conducted  by  the  drilling  contractor  at  the  direction  of  the  well  owner  and  in  accordance  with  MMS  requirements. We  understand  that  Halliburton  was  instructed  to  record  drill  pipe  pressure  during  this  test  until  Halliburton’s  cementing  personnel  were  advised  by  the drilling contractor that the negative pressure test had been completed, and were placed on standby.
We  understand  that  the  drilling  contractor  then  proceeded  to  displace  the  riser  with  seawater  prior  to  the planned  placement  of  the  final  cement  plug,  which  would  have  been  installed  inside  the  production  string  and  enabled  the  planned  temporary  abandonment  of  the  well.  Prior  to  the  point  in  the  well  construction  plan  that  the  Halliburton  personnel  would  have  set  the  final  cement  plug,  the catastrophic incident occurred.  As a result, the final cement plug was never set. 

Halliburton  is  confident  that  the  cementing  work  on  the  Mississippi  Canyon  252  well  was  completed  in 
accordance with the requirements of the well owner’s well construction plan.    

Seems like BP ignored the test results or short circuited them or they are trying to blame the drilling contractor (Transocean). The industry is starting to look like a bunch of high school kids rather than adults. As Markowski said, get together and solve this thing or you will be shut down. Will they grow up? I doubt it.

I must have missed in this reading where BP ignored, short circuited or blamed anyone. It sounds like Halliburton is saying they cemented, tested and moved on according to industry practice and nothing in the testimony indicates that anyone involved saw a result outside of normal and therefore proceeded as normal. It does not shed light on what went wrong, it merely states that Halliburton believes their cement job went according to plan. If this well decided that that plan was not going to be good enough, well, that's another story altogether.

This report seems to say that there is methane hydrate in the production zone. I don't see how this is possible. The temperature in the production zone is too high. Look at https://www.llnl.gov/str/Durham.html for a region of stability diagram.
There is no evidence for the existence of methane hydrate structure above about 300K at any pressure. (300K is about 30 degC or 90 deg Fahrenheit). If production layer is cooler than that temperture it would be a discovery that shakes geological science to its foundations.

wiki say 18 deg c for methane hydrates.


While it is stable at a temperature of up to around 0 °C, at higher pressures methane clathrates remain stable up to 18 °C.

hydrates form with other hc's, e.g. ethane or propane. so your 30 deg c may be correct i have never heard of anything above 65 deg f(18 deg c).

at one time diesel was used to make hydrates for snow making. if you went sking in it, you might come home smelling like diesel.

I got my number by looking at a phase diagram at the URL that I gave. Very crude way to get a number, but quite sufficient to conclude that there is no down-hole hydrate.

Thanks for the better accuracy number.

I quite agree. In-situ hydrates would have not been possible at the producing zone. I've seen the same reports and don't understand them at all. Obviously someone has their wires crossed.

Haven't been hanging on every word of the hearings (live on C-SPAN), but from what I've seen, both the senators and the witnesses (from BP, Transocean, and Halliburton) seem determined to remain dead serious, with virtually no grandstanding so far from either side. The senators appear to have done their homework; the questions are on a fairly basic level, not nitty-gritty technical, but they've been informed, intelligent questions, and the responses have sounded straightforward.

Caveat: This is from the perspective of a layperson, minimally schooled by the Oil Drum discussions that haven't been way over my head. It's early, but so far, I'm encouraged that the tenor of the proceedings doesn't look to be of the hand-waving kabuki type we see all too often in such hearings. Hopefully some of the experts here are also watching and will provide a smarter view.

Should have added that I tuned in late, after the senators' opening statements. The NYTimes' (usually excellent) Matthew Wald is live-blogging the hearings; apparently there was some grandstanding from the senators before the questioning began:


Dear Sir/Madam,
the economic and environmental impact of the recent BP oil spill desaster is growing day by day, and the cost for recovery is increasing dramatcially.
I would like to urgently draw your attention to a scientific biotechnoloy solution, developed in Italy, which can help to dramatically reduce the damage in the affected coastal areas: oil eating bacteria.
The technology has been proven to work and we are convinced that it is the best and most reliable solution to the current problem. For full details, please refer to the attached writings by Professor Broglio.
We strongly believe that this solution will be beneficial to all affected parties, and urge you to consider the proposed approach. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
We are looking forwards to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
Giovanni Nardacci

Biocatalytic Technology Important additional notes Premises The Biocatalytic technology for oil spill treatments make use of selected lipophagies, lipolitic and hydrophobic marine bacteria non genetically modified. This means that a natural and biocompatible product is released in the environment.
The bacteria are placed on an organic or inorganic substrate, depending on the desired use. In oil spill situations, the suitable substrate is pure bentonite (a special natural silicate).
The bacteria sprinkled on oil spots in the sea need, for the metabolic process, nitrogen and phosphorous, in order to achieve a balanced and fast growth.
In the sea, this two elements are very scarce: thus, you need to add them in the bacterial blend.
A particular technology has found the way to capsulate micro nutrients, so that in this way they can be mixed with bacteria. Capsulated micro nutrients ( floating ) take action quite gradually: the wax layer melts in hydrocarbon and slowly release nitrogen and phosphorous, allowing a rapid micro-organisms growth. WITHOUT THIS ADDITIONAL TECHNOLOGY ABOVE DESCRIBED, AN ACTION BASED ON BACTERIA ONLY WON’T BE ABLE TO ATTACK CRUDE OIL. The Biocatalytic technology in the United States of America Mr. Oppenheimer and Mr. Blundo have improved this technology, keeping excellent professional and personal cooperative relationship over the years. The capsulated micro nutrients are recognized by Oppenheimer as a perfect fit technology.
Actually, in the United States exist a firm called OBIO, managed by Oppenhaimer’s heirs, who unfortunately don’t have a scientific background but more a sale profile. In this days, Mr. Blundo contacted OBIO (already reached by US Authorities) making a cooperative deal in case of intervention.
The cooperation between the two firms, OBIO and EcoBios, is a great synergic deal considering the fact that EPA granted to OBIO the use of the bacterial blend, and the fact that the firm is an American corporation. What to do
The bacterial blend produced in Italy ( identical to the American product, except for the capsuled micro nutrients) needs to be validated in the United States, and in order to be so, needs to become a OBIO product, since the latter is authorized by EPA in the USA.
Orders may take place directly in the United States ( at least formally, since bacteria are produced in Mexico and in Italy, thus requiring shipment to the USA, which I believe will not be a problem).


I'm slightly perturbed by the way the remediation story has been panning out over the last 48 hours or so......

At the weekend we saw the first "coffer dam" box go down, and fail due to buoyancy issues, then get set aside. There were lots of pictures of this unit, schematic diagrams in the media, almost hour-by-hour updates on where it was up to.

This morning the news outlets were reporting that a new, smaller device - referred to as a "Top Hat" would be lowered within the next couple of days. And the absence of detail, hard evidence, etc is in stark contrast. We've been told it's smaller than the earlier box and..... er.... that's all I know at the present time.

Maybe I've missed something - but does anyone know any further details, seen any pics, etc? I'm wondering if this is really a full-blooded attempt to fix the leakage (even if only partially) or a bunch of spin? Anyone?

Regards Chris

Maybe the chances of success is so low or the smaller dome will cover just partially the leaks?

Details I am aware of BP making public are the size (but I don't recall precisely - quite a bit smaller) and the fact that it was going to be hooked up to circulating warm water when it is installed rather than after it is set in place - the previous plan. It may be that the smaller size will be easier to maneuver with the submersibles (less chance of damaging anything) and not need settling time, etc that the larger one required. So, along with trapping less seawater within it perhaps it has a better chance of being effective.

They (BP) are also working on a plan to inject material into the well through some port on the BOP. It was said that the BOP needed to be reconfigured somehow to accomplish this safely. Perhaps the leak rate is increasing and there is some urgency to stopping it altogether rather than worrying so much about capturing the current flow. Just speculation...

some pics at:

Just added - two pics of the leak, drill pipe bent 90degrees!

3rd pic is a picture of top hat loaded up on a shipping platform, must be headed out.
various under construction pics down the page.

down at the bottom is a drawing of the install.

Thanks sunnnv - very informative - great schematic at the bottom.... makes me feel quite a lot more optimistic, fingers crossed

Regards Chris

Agreed - thanks. Teir site had gotten a little stale the past few days. Nice to see those images.

NOAA has some images of the slick here:


Well look at that! (http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in...).

I think I'm seeing gas (light) and oil (brownish) gushing out with an apparent total stream diameter of about 8 inches. If that's the point where the drill pipe is snapped in two, that's probably most of the flow right there. A movie should allow frame-to-frame comparisons for a velocity guesstimate of the flow accurate to within a factor of two-ish.

I'm thinkin that stream looks darker and thicker than the pictures from last week...

Too bad they didn't post one of the other leak by the stack. I'm sure they have one... or two...

This is the first time I've seen a photo of the main oil leak. This is really useful because it allows us to make an independent estimate of the rate of flow.

In this photo, I believe what I'm seeing is a mix of oil and gas jetting out horizontally from the gap between the end of the riser and the drill string. Using the pipe wrench for scale, it looks like the jet shoots out horizontally about 6-18 inches in the time it takes to rise up about 12 inches. The buoyancy of the oil means it will accelerate upward as it leaves the pipe: it's like the parabolic path taken by water coming out of a garden hose, but upside down. If I ignore the effect of mixing with seawater, using simple Intro Physics ballistics equations, I come up with an initial velocity of about 0.5 m/s as the oil leaves the pipe. This is a *very* rough estimate.

The cross-sectional area of the pipe opening is an annulus. The outer diameter of the annulus looks to be about 12 inches; I can't see the inner pipe, but I'm guessing it's about 8-10 inches. This means the cross-sectional area is about 0.03 m^2, give or take a factor of 2.

This leads to a flow rate (velocity * area) of about 0.14 m^3/s, or 7500 barrels per day. There's an uncertainty of a factor of 3 on this estimate, so anything between a few thousand and 20,000 barrels a day is possible. Also, this assumes the flow is 100% oil. A mixture of oil and gas would be coming out faster (because the buoyancy would be larger than I assumed) but would be only partly oil: these two factors partly counteract each other.

Anyway, the rough agreement between my values and BP's press release value of 5000 barrels/day suggests that BP is not deliberately lying about the flow rate, as claimed by some news reports.

are you saying that you are able to roughly calculate the flow rate of this one particular leak from a single still image?

what would you estimate is the temperature of the oil emerging from the leak? can you calculate volume without knowing the temperature?

how about we take a different, scientific approach.

what is your opinion of the science of measuring the quantity of oil leaked based on satellite observations?

i think we can all agree that you can't meter the leaks at the bottom of the ocean. however, the science behind satellite observation is verifiable, you can test the models against known leaks to fine tune them. (ie: ship xyz leaks 100,000 barrels, scientists analyze the leak using satellite imaging and sea-based collection of data, you can get pretty close)

did bp not say '60,000 barrels a day' in front of congress? shall i provide links? were they lying then? and not when they said 5,000? when should we believe them?

while you people are dillydallying around with your 'it's not so bad, it's only 5,000 barrels a day', this is the type of thing that is actually occurring:

"If today's AQUA satellite imagery is showing what I think it is, dispersed oil has already been entrained into the Loop current and is heading for the Florida Keys. Interpretation of the imagery is difficult and needs verification by collection of water samples. Clouds above and sediment in the water can change the appearance of the sea glint, making interpretation difficult. However, irregular turbulent looking features in the glint appear to show processes in the ocean, and are not normal seal glint or cloud caused features.

Caveats given, there is a sliver grey swirl in the sun glint due west of Florida bay and the the Florida Keys.

I have reviewed the imagery at the highest level of imagery, one level higher than shown here, and the swirl does not appear to be caused by clouds or normal sediments. Red pigments from the oxidation of crude oil are a likely cause of the swirl, in my opinion. It appears that oxidized oil is being transported by the Loop current towards the Florida Keys."

My estimate is uncertain by about a factor of 3. Thermal expansion changes the volume by a few percent tops, so it's not worth worrying about.

Satellites do a great job of measuring the *area* of the slick, but the thickness is very difficult to estimate, which leaves the volume highly uncertain.

The rough estimate I can get from this one photo is pretty poor: at its upper limit it's consistent with the satellite estimates at skytruth.org. If anyone has a link to more photos of the leak at the seafloor, or even better a video, I can do a lot better.

while you people are dillydallying around with your 'it's not so bad, it's only 5,000 barrels a day',

I never said this wasn't so bad. It's definitely among the top three oil spills in U.S. history, and by the time it's shut off it could easily be the worst environmental disaster in US history. But I'm not sure it's there yet.

More practically could be something like up to 15 gallons per second. A fire hose is less than three and this looks much bigger. 15 gallons would be 1.25 million per day or 30000 barrels. Basically a fire truck blasting with multiple hoses as I said before. So those Skytruth satellite image estimations might be quite close to the actual.

BP probably for PR purposes issued only the lower limit calculated and that was days ago when the oil&sand has not sandblasted every obstacle in sight...


using simple Intro Physics ballistics equations, I come up with an initial velocity of about 0.5 m/s

Just curious what value you were using for the ballistic coefficient of the oil stream.

To answer your question without answering it, I neglected friction/viscosity and assumed a parabolic trajectory. This is clearly a bad idea far from the source, but should be okay in the first couple feet.


"-----Original Message-----
To: NSGIC State Caucus List
Subject: [nsgic_state_caucus_list] FW: Urgent Request: BP is looking for
five experienced ArcGIS Desktop Specialists (UNCLASSIFIED)

FYI please read below. Timing is urgent.

Chris Diller


Subject: Urgent Request: BP is looking for five experienced ArcGIS
Desktop Specialists

Dear GISCorps Volunteers,

We have been asked to assist in providing five seasoned GIS
professionals to help at the Deepwater Horizon Incident Command Center
in Houma, Louisiana, an hour southwest of New Orleans.

Please note that this is not a regular GISCorps mission since it's a
position. However, if willing, applicants can donate a part of their
stipends back to GISCorps.

The following describes the requirements;

IMPORTANT: if you cannot or do not meet all of these requirements,
please do NOT respond to this request:

The applicants:

- must arrive in Houma, Louisiana TODAY (May 11th) or TOMORROW (May
12th) "at the latest"
- must be able to stay for seven (7) consecutive days and be prepared to
work for long hours
- must pay for their expenses and plan their own logistics to get to the
site; you will be reimbursed for all expenses at a later time (must keep
- will be paid a stipend of $500 per day
- Extremely well versed in ArcGIS and all its applications especially
- Having own hard ware and software (ArcGIS version 9.2 and higher) is
- Experience in emergency response is highly desired

If you are qualified and can meet ALL the above conditions, send an
email along with your latest resume to deepwater@giscorps.org.

If you are seeing this information after May 13, please do not respond.

Please let us know if you end up being selected for this project. We
would love to follow up on the project with you.

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE"

"ArcGIS is a suite consisting of a group of geographic information system (GIS) software products produced by ESRI. At the desktop GIS level, ArcGIS can include: ArcReader, which allows one to view and query maps created with the other Arc products; ArcView, which allows one to view spatial data, create layered maps, and perform basic spatial analysis; ArcEditor which, in addition to the functionality of ArcView, includes more advanced tools for manipulation of shapefiles and geodatabases; or ArcInfo which includes capabilities for data manipulation, editing, and analysis"

Geographic analysis? Some kind of spill prediction task force?

IP --$500/day? Cheap a** bastards IMHO.

"IP --$500/day? Cheap a** bastards IMHO."

LOL RM - that came across a list I subscribe to - college students or grads is the main audience, so its better pay than they might get for a typical research grant.

Yes, spatial analysis and mapping, so I would guess it has to do with the slick, although there might be other applications related to geology, etc.

"IP --$500/day? Cheap a** bastards IMHO."

Especially when you're expected to supply your own hardware and software, and pay your own expenses in advance. ARCgis costs around $7000 for a single license, with maintenance $3000/year. How many students have that amount to throw around? A laptop to run that software decently would set you back several thousands also.

Students often have access to an educational site license - ~$150/yr and that would likely be paid by a grant. Others who work with this stuff are probably in a similar situation. A modern laptop with 3-4 gigs of ram will run the software effectively. For a student it would be a good opportunity to get work experience. As to why they (BP) aren't hiring an outside firm to do whatever they need... I can't say.

This was not a general invitation as I read it.

It is a specific request for help to GISCorps http://www.giscorps.org/

The list it came across is not associated with GISCorps but a general one for GIS techs.

But it begins

Dear GISCorps Volunteers,

We have been asked to assist in providing five seasoned GIS
professionals to help at the Deepwater Horizon Incident Command Center
in Houma, Louisiana, an hour southwest of New Orleans.

Please note that this is not a regular GISCorps mission since it's a
position. However, if willing, applicants can donate a part of their
stipends back to GISCorps.

Here's a PDF of the role played by GISCorps during Hurricane Katrina

The organization is open to anyone and generally coordinates volunteer operations. I read it as a general call for experienced people rather than one of their "missions" and suspect that is why it was posted to the list - of course interested parties should contact the address listed.

According to the testimony today, the BOP was modified by Transocean at the request of BP and paid for by BP. The Transocean speaker described them as modifying the lower ram as to facilitate testing the BOP without interrupting production. It sounds like they removed the shear tooling and left the cylinders in Place so they could monitor the extend and retract sensors.

I think from the pictures it had four shear rams set in pairs - and a couple of annular ones? So it should have had at least three operational.

...and in other news:

"(Reuters) - For the captain of the Damon B. Bankston, a ship anchored alongside the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded, the first sign of trouble was a flood of mud that poured off the rig's drill deck like black rain.

U.S. | Green Business

In testimony on Tuesday before a federal government panel investigating the explosion on the night of April 20 that claimed 11 lives, Alwin Landry also recalled a green flash that preceded the first explosion and a desperate effort to pull 115 survivors from the water.

It was a routine evening on the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, about 42 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Damon Bankston was pumping heavy drilling mud from a three-mile deep well drilled by the rig through a hose. Landry was on the bridge catching up on paperwork.

Shortly after 9 p.m. CDT, "my mate advised there was mud coming off the rig. It looked like it was a black rain coming down," Landry said.

Swiss-based Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon rig, under contract with BP, exploded and caught fire on April 20 while it was putting the finishing touches on a well about a mile beneath the ocean surface. It sank two days later.

The accident has triggered a huge oil spill that is threatening an environmental and economic disaster along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Drilling mud is poured down the drill pipe to control the powerful pressures within the underground hydrocarbon reservoir and prevent a "kick" of methane gas and oil from rushing up the drillpipe. It was unusual for the mud to be pouring out the well in an uncontrolled flood.

"I was advised they were having trouble with the well," Landry said, and workers on board advised him to disconnect the hose and move his vessel away. Landry said he registered concern in the rig worker's voice.


Landry said he heard something else that concerned him: the loud hiss of a high-pressure release of air and gas that lasted for 30 seconds or more.

According to accounts from rig workers reviewed by Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor, this was the sound of a surge of methane rushing up the drill pipe which engulfed the rig's deck in highly-flammable gas.

According to Landry, the explosion came at 9:53 p.m.

"I saw the green flash on the main deck of the Horizon to the aft of the derrick." About 10 minutes later, a distress call went out from the rig's radio -- "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! The rig's on fire. Abandon ship," Landry said."


IIRC the Transocean Rep said it had 5 rams. They modified the lower set.

This painting shows 5, as you say, plus one or two annular ones I am guessing.


What beautiful picture! The ocean surface is so clean and blue. The pipes cast crisp shadows in the sunlight on the ocean floor. Sunlight at 5000 ft. Water more clear than Lake Tahoe before California was invaded and occupied by nasty environmentalist. Oh, what memories of days gone by.

LOL Geek - give them some credit though - they've got the oil spewing from the BOP stak and as a whole it is a rather informative cartoon - methanol injection ports on the 'tophat' detail, BOP stack, etc.

So there was, what, around 45 minutes between the mud flood and the explosion? I had had the impression that whole sequence took only a few minutes.

I know this is not a funny situation but reading things like this

Swiss-based Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon rig

reminds me again how we do things in the Oil Patch. Or the registration of tanker ships in convenient places to avoid regulatory requirements related to SAFETY ISSUES !!!

There is an endless number of over confident people ready to go for the bonus while dangling on a knifes edge. Lessons are learned only to be slowly forgotten because it cost too much ;-(

Then Mother Nature bi*ch slaps us to let us know who is No. 1 BOSS !!!

The number of these types of events lately is on a significant rise, the volcano in Iceland comes to mind first.

The press have picked up on this "Nitrogen Charged Cement", the more common name is "foamed cement".
Haliburton have 20+ different types:

Typically used where there is problems with low fracture pressures.

I noticed in the statement made by the Halliburton executive at the Senate Environmental Hearing, he made note of the fact that BP did not elect to place a continuous column of cement from TD to surface.

I do not know if this would be typical at 18,000', but you can bet 30 lawyers covered every word of that statement.


Halliburton also referred to the well owner's construction plan. Is that public record? You would think that MMS would need to review it.

REVIEW IT !!!!! MMS had to approve it before BP was issued a drilling permit.

BTW, There are models of the BOP in the photos, and a very nice graphic. [ 8000 x 5333 px 4.58 MB jpeg Huge File Warning!]

I think there's some basic science that's being ignored. The worst stress the Blowout Preventer could have taken is the rig ripping away from the riser. It makes sense to me that simply lifting the riser to vertical once again can't nearly be as much force as the rig ripping-off from the riser. To me it is a simple matter of science that lifting the riser carefully can never be nearly as strong a force as the rig ripping-away from the riser. And since the BOP has already withstood this force and isn't showing any damage I assume lifting the riser back to vertical will be within the limits of its already-proven tolerances. Frankly, I don't believe the reasons being told for not trying to get the riser back up.

Too bad there isn't an accident prevention system that could have kept the riser raised.

Jetblast - have a look at BP conceptual painting of the state of affairs around the wellhead and take note of the connection between the riser and the BOP stack:


The photograph of this point posted on an earlier thread shows that the top of the stack where the riser is bolted has a considerable tweak. In my experience with metal tubing like this (well, not really like this large diameter pipe, but scaled down of course) an attempt to straighten it will likely result in failure at the kink.

Well, from reading what was written I assume the reasons would be not to make the situation worse by risking breaking the riser away at the BOP and/or breaking the BOP off the wellhead. The question then would really be the integrity of the riser which I assume they don't trust enough to try the move. If the riser breaks up forget it.

So I assume there's no possibility they could have broken into the runaway well at 1000 feet and cemented the BOP just at the same time to direct flow into a controlled pipe?

Broken in? You mean with the relief well? No, as someone said they need to seal off the whole well not just the one part. That requires matching pressures in both wells which means they need to be pretty close to the same depth. As far and bending up the bent riser, there is the possibility for metal fatigue which could cause it to break off at the location of the kink, then things might be worse. One plan I heard is to cut off the riser above the old BOP and stick a new one on top of the old, close it and seal it off. That's pretty risky IMHO.

It is not clear what the exact sequence of motions/displacements was during the kick/fire/capsize/sinking. The riser could have broken from the semisubmersable before any serious upward tension was ever applied to the BOP by 'ripping it off'. In fact, it appears that the remains of the riser are still attached to the top of the BOP. It is also basic science that any structure behaves very differently under tension than it does under compression. And that tension and compression are not the only types of force that exist in structures. They also flex and twist in ways that don't have names in basic English. Before the advent of computer assisted design, structural engineers spent a lot of thought on simplifing the design so that each member was subject to only one type of force. It simplified the arithmetic (which was all done with pencil and paper and log and trig tables) a lot.

I haven't read any reasons for why the riser should not be put back up. I wouldn't be surprised if the reasons that are given by reports in the popular press are totally crazy wrong. But I also wouldn't be surprised if there are some very good reasons for not doing it that are totally incomprensible to newspaper reporters, or even to those geniuses at faux news.

(I hope I have constructed a sentence with the correct number of negatives to say what I actually mean here.)

I can somewhat understand this as there is likely no one alive who was actually at the well-head and knows the details as a first person witness. This statement prevents shyster lawyers from getting to these people and paying them to say things as "eyewitnesses" to support things like "wrongful death" cases. But to require it a before they could go home is not good legal thinking. First off you now you have pissed off the survivors and then made them sign under duress which could be used to invalidate the signature. Sounds like TransOcean's lawyers got kind of in a panic.

I think the forced statement signing is like witness tampering. They had to get it done quickly before a court was actually involved. Lawyers can loose their licence to practice, or whatever, for witness tampering. But the company really needs some tampering and is willing to pay for it.

It is a personal affront to the employees, of course. But it is also an attack on the integrity of our legal system.

Magnificent....And I suppose Halliburton is offering all expense paid R&R hunting with Dick.

Transocean Ltd. Issues Statement of Clarification


Most rigs that I have been associated with have flares. I didn't see a flare on this rig. Why didn't they flare the gas.

id -- At one point I thought I saw a flare coming out of a boom at the same time flames were over the derrick. If it had been diverted to the boom I suspect there was just much volum for the boom. Just a guess.

Besides surface conductor, there were two strings of casing, is that right?

Is cement usually placed around the hanger where production casing hangs in the upper casing?

How is cement set at the bottom of the hole at TD? Is an extra 5-10 feet of bottom casing filled with cement as the annulus is finished being cemented?

I used to do wireline and have set many a bridge plug and followed with a bailer of cement on top. These other details aren't clear to me.


Keith Olberman points out how politicians stories keep changing.

I am no experct on subsea BOPs but have a question some of you might have insight into:
It is my understanding that for activating the BOP there are acculator units (high pressure bottles with lines included in the BOP stack) with enough pressure to allow, e.g. the shear rams to close. With all the trouble to engage the shear rams, also by the means of ROV's; have anyone heard if the BOP was set up to work properly (i.e. is this a failure by design or by operational procedure)?

GRM- I had a similar question about the acculator units and how they would be affected by the 5000psi at depth. Understand they were never tested at depth/pressure.

It seems pretty clear that the BOP did operate but failed to completely seal the well. The statement a few days ago was that it had been activated by workers on the rig and it had responded to the effect that the activation was successful. It was also stated that it had been tested and passed 10 days before the accident. BP should have a pretty good idea now of it's state as they have a gamma ray scan of its innards and pressure readings from it. What all that showed I have not seen posted anywhere.

There were a lot of questions earlier about the relative role of the kinked riser and the BOP regarding how much each was contributing to restricting the flow of oil - I am not aware that this question has been answered, but BP should now have this information.

It has also been speculated that the flow of gritty oil under high pressure may be enlarging the pathway through the BOP stack and increasing flow rate over time - again BP should be able to answer this question as well as having a pretty good idea what the current leak rate is, but as far as I know they have not released this information.

Perhaps some of the answers will be forthcoming before too long.

The question still remains about a closed pressure system,
in this case the acculators hydralic reservior emptying to equilization pressure, at depth the aforementioned 5000 psi.
Obviously the shear rams had a herclean task in cutting through the production casing(a tougher than normal casing due to deep water app.,and the drill string, with the possibility of hitting a collar. I don't know what the reservoir pressures usually run, but they wouldn't be able to run to zero pressure as they would in a sea level test.
Thinking the difference between sea level test pressure and actual high pressure deployment may have degraded performance to some fractional degree.
Given this was appearantly an older (10 yr) design with the newer tougher casings,was it up to the task from an engineering standpoint with a performance degrade at depth?
Or am I FOS?
Seems if the "Brazil Rule" had been in effect we wouldn't be here, hindsight of course being 20/20.

Sounds similar to the frozen o-rings in the space shuttle disaster.

it would be nice if we still had feynman around. hopefully he'd try to dissuade those who think we should drop a nuke on it.

actually, we need 50 feynmans to fix this fiasco.

ABC News claims that they have "breaking news" that production from the well has shifted to a richer NG and less oil mix.

Labeled as "good news".

Also said that it improved the chance of the "junk shot".

Given that they did a graphic the day before showing cumulative spill AT 5,000 B/DAY was less than half the Exxon Valdez, I suspect BP influence.


ABC News claims that they have "breaking news" that production from the well has shifted to a richer NG and less oil mix.

Labeled as "good news".

Also said that it improved the chance of the "junk shot".

Given that they did a graphic the day before showing cumulative spill AT 5,000 B/DAY was less than half the Exxon Valdez, I suspect BP influence.


Can someone who has ties to the those in charge of design, construction and implementation of the "top hat" containment funnel, or flue, please suggest injecting the volume with methanol to dissolve the crystallizing methyl hydrates?

tealeaf, have a look at this graphic and you will see that your wishes have been taken care of by the engineers and mechanics:


(the .jpg is more than 4mb)


I'm a midstream environmental manager, so thanks to all you upstream/production guys for your excellent and informative commentary. I always wondered where that black stuff in my pipeline came from. ;)
I happened across this possible solution this evening http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/5/11/865491/-Permeable-Cone-Stock...

I'm not advocating or dismissing it, as I simply don't enough to formulate a scientific based answer, but I would be very interested in any possible engineering based reviews of this concept for containing the release. Cheers!

does anyone here have knowledge of the 'junk shot' technique? Does it have a decent probability of achieving the desired effect?

Also, I have started to hear about some effort to collect human hair clippings to stuff into oil-absorbent booms...with such a big spill, if every human on earth sheared all of his/her hair and donated it to this cause, would the result be akin to putting a band-aid on a crack in the dam?

Sea Captain tells of rig blast in gritty detail:


KENNER, La. — Hours before the late-night blast on April 20 that engulfed the Deepwater Horizon in flames and killed 11, there were signs of trouble aboard the drilling rig.

Shortly after 5 p.m. that afternoon, the rig unexpectedly stopped pumping drilling mud out of BP's Macondo well to the vessel Damon B. Bankston, parked alongside the rig. This was one of the last steps the rig was taking to secure the well and temporarily abandon it so BP could come back later to extract oil from it.

Hours passed before the rig gave word it would resume the mud transfer, but it never happened. Instead, sometime after 9 p.m., drilling fluid began shooting out of the well, coating his vessel like “black rain,” said Alwin Landry, captain of the Damon B. Bankston.

Then came a loud hiss, what he called a “green flash,” alarms and the start of one of the nation's worst offshore disasters.

Landry and two other crew members of the Damon B. Bankston were among the first witnesses to testify Tuesday before a joint panel of the Coast Guard and U.S. Minerals Management Service investigating the Deepwater Horizon incident.

They gave one of the most detailed public accounts yet of the moments leading to the blast and the dramatic rescue that followed.
................. PLENTY more at the link

You know, this does not sound like the scenario that has been floating around - a surprise kick with a few minutes to act - instead it looks more like a 5 hour fight with a well that was acting up - a fight that was tragically lost in the end. Not so?

Just what I've been thinking. Unless the reports are way off, there was a good 45 minutes between the first appearance of the mud pouring off the rig and the explosions. That sure wasn't the impression I got from any of the previous accounts, including the firsthand ones from the rig crew. I mean, perception of time can be altered in a life-threatening emergency, but it's usually in the other direction--things seem to take more time than they actually do.

Very interesting indeed Swifty. One reason I tried to keep qualifying my statements with "if the story is correct". The first stories indicated they took the kick while offloading mud to the boat and thus couldn't keep track of the mud tank levels. Even if a half hour passed after offloading stopped that would have been more than enough time to tell if the well was coming in (mud flowing out of the well with the mud pumps off). But only if they were monitoring the tanks. If the part of the original story that the boat Capt. reported he took on more mud then the rig thought they pumped was true, that should have been a big red flag.

This makes for a greater mystery IMHO. Taking a kick while not seeing the well coming in is one thing. But knowing there was a mud volume imbalance is another. If they saw the well coming in they would have immediately gone to a kill mode. And perhaps we'll learn in time they were doing just that. And if they were, we have to give credit to the dead. When you go into a serious kill mode the hands make a choice: stay with it or run. Given the body count it seems most were good hands.

If they saw the well coming in they would have immediately gone to a kill mode. And perhaps we'll learn in time they were doing just that. And if they were, we have to give credit to the dead. When you go into a serious kill mode the hands make a choice: stay with it or run. Given the body count it seems most were good hands.

Oh, man, that's really tough to hear.

This is from the Chronicle piece:

"When calling for an update at 9 p.m., [Landry] was told that rig crews soon would resume removing drilling mud from the pipe-like riser connecting the rig to infrastructure on the sea floor.

"Soon after, Landry noticed the mud raining down on his ship and gushing from the top of the rig's derrick.

“'I asked them what was going on. I'm getting mud on me,' Landry testified.

“'I heard the concern in the voice of the operator when he said he was having trouble with the well,' said Landry, who said he was then told to detach his hose and move a safe distance from the rig.

"Then came the sound of a high-pressure escape of gas and the explosion, noted in the vessel's log at 9:53 p.m., Landry said."

This is from another piece of reporting on the incident - not sure if it has been posted here before:

A heated debate described

One of Bea's witness transcripts describes in detail a heated debate among BP, Halliburton and Transocean officials as they are about to add the final cement plug to the well, 5,000 below the wellhead and 10,000 feet below the rig. They argued about whether to set the plug with drilling mud still in the well and riser, or if they should do it with lighter sea water there instead.

As The Times-Picayune reported last week, Bea's witness claims the decision was made to displace the heavy mud barrier with water before the final plug was set in order to finish the job more quickly.. The crew was planning to temporarily abandon the well, and before leaving, they would need to remove the riser and the blowout preventer, a massive stack of valves and slicing rams that are supposed to shut off the well in case of an emergency, and some time later another operation would re-tap the well to extract its riches.

The mud in the riser would have to be replaced with salt water before the crew could take the final step of removing the blowout preventer, or else polluting mud and chemicals would spill into the sea, angering environmental regulators. But based on Bea's witness, who describes the debate on board the rig and with officials in Houston, there was still a question about whether to replace the mud before the final plug was set.

"The debate comes back that it's been pressure-tested, the coast is clear, so they will displace the upper 10,000 feet of heavy mud and replace it with salt water," Bea said. "This is a crucial step, and the reason it's crucial is if the seal at the bottom is fine, it's OK, but if it's not OK, we're screwed. We don't have enough pressure (from mud) in the column anymore to fight the reservoir (gas and liquid) pressure."

Bea says it's unclear how far down the well the crew managed to get the final cement plug before the destructive blowout. But he said it's clear the process was under way because an important valve in the blowout preventer stack, called the annular valve, was open to allow the plug assembly pipes through. Once the well's lining or bottom plug was breached, the gas had a 10,000-foot path clear of both mud and shut-off valves all the way to the water's surface.

'A geyser of water'

Three witness reports gathered by Bea describe what happened next. "A geyser of water" shot 240 feet into the air, he said, followed by "gas that spills out in the moon pool area, onto the drill deck and begins spreading. They can smell it, they can see it, but in this stage it does not ignite. It looks like ice slush, and they can see the gas emanating from it."

The next thing workers on the drill floor saw was mud, the three accounts say. The workers know there's trouble because the mud can only be coming from 10,000 feet down, not from the riser where it can block a gas kick, Bea said.

"At this point, calls come from the rig asking for more mud," Bea said the transcripts show. "I'm certain these radio calls will ultimately be traced and produced. This is at 7 p.m."

The reason nothing ignited initially is that the 21-by-93-foot moon pool, a well in the center of the drill ship, is carefully designed to remove any sources of sparks. But in the mud room and the galley and elsewhere, there are pumps with exposed metal parts. Soon, the gas did ignite when it came in contact with those, Bea said, and the descriptions in the transcripts are dramatic.

Bea said that the first explosion occurred in the mud pit room, a room where drilling mud is mixed and stored in big bins. The two engineers responding to requests for more mud in an attempt to control the runaway well were killed instantly, he said.

That explosion also blew out the wall leading to the galley, where a party was being held.

"The party is to celebrate the Transocean Deepwater Horizon going for seven years without an accident," Bea said. Present were several BP engineers or executives, who traveled to the rig for the celebration, he said.



I have seen it posted that the rig had a real-time logging connection to the shore which suggests that BP has access to pretty near all the relevant information. Also seems clear that the failure was at the bottom of the well and the BOP stack may have had multiple problems as the incident progressed - a confluence of badness - technical, mechanical, and operational = death and destruction.

An even clearer picture now. The engineers were calling for a "pill": a batch of heavy mud they would have pumped down to add backpressure to stop the flow. While drilling, especially if you suspect a kick ahead, they'll have a mud tank with a pill ready to pump if needed. It can take hours to mix a big pill: you're adding bags of dry mud components to the base OBM (oil based mud). It a very good assumption that not only did they not have a pill mixed but much of the base OBM had probably already been offloaded. At that point all they could do is shut all the valves closed and pray the system did't leak oil/NG. The prayer was answered and the answer was no.

And it makes the statements of BP's Hayward blaming the crew immediately after the fact seem even more churlish.

Best Hopes for Justice,



Yes indeed Swifty. Those thoughts run thru the minds of everyone in a risky job: fireman. police, etc: If X happens how will I react. Even accountants can face the same question: if my child were suddenly in danger how would I react. We all have visions but we'll never know until it happens. Long ago I knew of a driller who stayed with it on a bad kick. The rest of the crew ran out into the cow pasture. Told he was one cool dude throughout the entire event. Went home when his hitch ended. Came back for his next hitch and couldn't make himself get out of his truck when he got back to the rig. Don't know if he ever got help or where he ended up.

We usually have a good idea what hands can stay with it and ones you have doubts about. More then once I've gotten some hands out of bed when we got to a sticky situation and sent the questionable ones "to get coffee". Those hands usually know what that means and take a long time bringing the coffee back. It just something you don't say out loud. We have a simple shorthand: he's a "good hand". And if you don't think he is you just don't say anything. We all know what that silence means.

Seems that at some point after Landry's 9 pm call for an update on the mud offloading, when he then called "the operator" to find out why mud was splattering all over his ship, the operator was aware the situation had become dangerous enough to tell Landry to disengage and get his ship out of the way. How long this was before the final cataclysm isn't clear.

(Question: Who's the "operator" Landry was referring to?)

FWIW, In his opening statement this morning, Steven Newman of Transocean told the House committee that the first signs of trouble and the explosions were nearly simultaneous. (I think "nearly simultaneous" were his exact words but wouldn't swear to it; if not, it's a very close paraphrase.)

He later agreed, when shown the Halliburton logs, that personnel on the rig must have been aware for, at the very least, these last few minutes that something was very badly wrong.

Still no remote ("quite a bit of data") logs produced in public by BP as they were still "sifting through them".

Excerpts from a detailed account of the MMS hearings in Kenner from nola.com:


Paul Erickson, first mate of the Damon B. Bankston, said he and other Bankston crew members were vaguely aware of the Deepwater Horizon having problems with the well. He said that as long as six weeks before the accident, they had to clear mud off the rig because of what they heard was a "loss of circulation."

"A comment was made that it was a difficult well, not typical," Erickson said.

But on April 20, the day of the accident all seemed to be going well, he said. The Bankston had stopped collecting drilling mud from the rig at 5:17 p.m., and they didn't hear anything from the rig crew until the accident, at a few seconds before 9:53 p.m.

Erickson had some of the most detailed descriptions of the geyser-like blowout that preceded the explosion. He said it wasn't dark mud, but what looked like seawater that billowed out just to the aft side of the derrick, then ignited in a flash over the liquid, he said.

"The liquid was coming out over the cargo and then the fire emerged over the top of the liquid, at which point I yelled , 'Fire, fire, fire on the rig!' and ran for the general alarm," said the 63-year-old merchant marine veteran with a shaved head, a white beard and two large hoop earings in his left ear.


[Bankston chief engineer Anthony] Gervasio said he heard the same release of gas before the explosion as his captain described. Like Landry, Gervasio took special note of the sound, but unlike Landry, Gervasio said he didn't find anything strange about it, though he did go outside to investigate.

"It wasn't an abnormal release," Gervasio said. "It wasn't prolonged. It was just me being curious."


David Dykes, who co-chairs the investigative panel for Minerals Management Service, said BP picked up rock samples, "maybe cement," from the Bankston. That could be significant because of reports of cement seals failing to properly close off the well from expanding gas.


[Captain Landry's testimony:]

"At 2100 (9 p.m.) we were advised to await transfer. Some time after that, my mate, who was also on watch with me - I was at my desk, back to back with him, finishing up on some paperwork - and he advised me there was mud coming out the top of the rig. Kind of a black rain. Coming down on my boat. At first I was kind of annoyed because I thought we had a broken hose. But when I saw the magnitude of the mud, I closed the well doors. I looked up to the derrick and saw mud coming out (the) top of (the) derrick. I called the rig and asked what was going on. And they advised they were having trouble with the well. After that they advised me to go to 500 meter standby. Then there was a pause in their response and shortly after that the first explosion on the rig occurred."...

Landry said he heard a high pressure release of air or gas before the explosion. That isn't uncommon, but he said this time it went on for a longer time before ending in the explosion. That's when he heard the distress call: "Mayday, mayday, mayday. The rig's on fire. Abandon ship."


cspan vidio of senate hearing:


offshore oil and gas development oil executives panel may 11,2010.

imo, little of substance, widespread political grandstanding, senatorial finger pointing and industry finger pointing.

Nothing like a dual professional with a law background a professional fireman and an automotive engineers perspectives, if I can seal a racing engines power stroke I can seal that well. That fire that was shown on T.V. was no 2.5 or 137.5 gallon per 60 seconds floe rate those fire boats can throw more water than my standard 1500 gallon per minute fire pumper, like 7500 or so per boat and up??? That fire melted the oil rig. I think there was 6 or 7 boats, no effect??? Its a big leak and that video is also so slowed down that it is not funny, just for starters.I think we need an inflatable saddle valve and that Famous Red guy who has balls to plug this well, some luck and then a good kick in the pants for changing the cement formula to save money, the reasoning can we not try to speed up well drilling NO!!!!!!!! I saw his company drop close off valves on running wells in Iraq 600 or so oh yeah burning too. Get with it get on it and spend freely, B.P. sink or swim just like learning a new job.

Be creative inflate the saddle valve with the right cement when dry close valve or have Red drop one on it.

Breaking News

BOP had hydraulic leak.

Well failed negative pressure test hours before blowout.



See "BP: What We Know" and excerpts from Waxman's opening statement at the hearing, above.

Hearing now streaming live at C-SPAN 3:


I wish CNN has televised the MMS hearings in Kenner yesterday. Much more informative than the Congressional hearing yesterday.

Is there a hearing going on now that I'm not getting and if so, has the information given yesterday regarding how long the crew was actually fighting the problem been brought up?


House hearing streaming live now on C-SPAN 3:


Haven't been following it clsely enough to know if they've discussed the exact timeline.

Thanks. I just found it and am listening now!

Today's hearings are being live blogged:


This is a great condensation of the hearing, here are a couple of highlights:

• Second, the blow-out preventer had been modified in unexpected ways. One of these modifications was potentially significant, Mr Stupak said. The blow-out preventer has an underwater control panel. BP spent a day trying to use this control panel to activate a variable bore ram on the blow-out preventer, without realizing this would not work because of the modifications, which BP later characterized as “extensive”.

The Cameron official told the subcommittee that the cutting capacity of the blow-out preventer was not enough to cut through the joints in the drill pipe

Hard to believe that they are denying to Congress that there was any disagreement between BP and Trans. regarding displacing the mud with the seawater. On CSpan 3, they just testified that the first they heard of this was today from Waxman. Geez.

Shale -- From the unoffcial reports there wasn't so much a disagreement between BP and Trans as it was a serious disagreement between various BP engineers. If correct between the engineer on the well (who didn't want to displace yet) and one in the office that ordered him do so. It will all come clear in the eventual investigation.

Fairly interesting blog. More congressional ignorance on display today though. BOPs have not been able to cut tool joints since there have been BOPs. Well known and dealt with in the industry and not a shred of evidence that it had anything to do with this incident. Then Karl Marx Markey had to weigh in with his usual political poison. I guess you expect more of that kind of thing in the House.

I've been spending a lot of time at TOD, and even here the capabilities of the various types of rams has not been deeply explored. I'm not surprised that congress critters might expect Blow Out Preventors to prevent blow outs.

Today they mentioned that one of the RAM sets was a super shear type:

The SS Rams were developed to shear drill collars and large diameter
casing. These rams are also capable of shearing heavy wall drill pipe and tool
joints. The SS rams are non-sealing rams. (From Cameron Doc, page 7) http://www.vbri.com/pdffiles/ShearRamProductLineEB852D.pdf

Well, it's clear to me that I'm in way over my head on most of this anyway, but I think it's asking a lot that the drill sting be adjusted so that no collars or upsets be in the path of sealing type shears in the middle of a blowout. That's like saying your car radio must not be playing a commercial at the moment your air bags are needed. (Quick, change stations!)

It was probably a bad idea for BP to order the lower set of rams to be converted to 'test rams'. (Whatever the heck they are.) Murphy has a $50 bet on that there was nothing but plain drill pipe just there. It also sounded like those lower rams were left connected to the ROV sting port. Achya.

In any case there were far more interesting technical details today in the House committee than there were in the Senate committee, IMHO.

Thanks, Rockman. Wasn't it posted on here that it was the senior Company Man on the rig arguing for the mud against an engineer that wanted the salt water? Was the engineer the one that was not on the rig?

Regardless, it really galls me that BP's McKay denied knowing about any discussion on the subject.

BP and Transocean denied to the subcommittee knowing anything about a "heated discussion" described yesterday.

From yesterdays transcript:
One of Bea's witness transcripts describes in detail a heated debate among BP, Halliburton and Transocean officials as they are about to add the final cement plug to the well, 5,000 below the wellhead and 10,000 feet below the rig. They argued about whether to set the plug with drilling mud still in the well and riser, or if they should do it with lighter sea water there instead.

When the congressman followed up with BP's McKay, "Well who is in charge out there?" (Who's the Decider offshore) McKay never answered the question.

Those that died in this tragedy: (if I remember correctly)

2 assistant drillers
Derrick Hand
Crane Operator
3 Floor Hands

2 Employees - M.I. Swaco

Shale - That was the original story. Supposedly came from the father of the company man. The company man is in charge unless the OBM (head man for the drilling contractor) over rules him. The company man has to chose what he thinks should be done and disobey orders. But jobs are few these days and not doing what the office says will usually cost you the job. Tough choice for a man with a family.

There will be a hearing. I doubt anyone will perjure themselves. There's always someone listening at times like that. In fact a smart company man will make sure there are witnesses listening. The truth will come out and it will all be on the public record.

Rockman - Totally agree with that.

Today it got to me, listening to all the BS including another CEO saying it all happened so fast it was instantaneous while in reality, we know how hard that crew was working to save the hole and ultimately losing their lives.

I have no doubt in my mind at all that BP was running real time in Houston and know exactly what went down.

I was on a fire in Idaho some years back and watched a kid nearly get burned to death because the division super (a desk jockey from back east who had no business making decisions on a fire) didn't know his a** from ______ and made a couple really stupid decisions. I'm not sure he was even aware of what went down. Do you suppose those suits understand those men gave their lives for the company bottom line while earning a day wage?

Mistake 1: Hurry up and finish. Unforgivable. Stupid.

Mistake 2: Overrule experience for expediency. Foolish.

Mistake 3: Non-functional safety equipment. Criminal negligence - risking everything to save a penny.

Words are not sufficient...

Ah, we should all just believe the good people of BP and Dick Cheney's Dubai outfit.

Best Hopes for finding WMDs in Iraq,


I am the inventor of Halliburton's Spherelite Cement Additive. I first supplied this additive to Dwight Smith (then VP of R&D) @ Halliburton back in the late 70's (we supplied Spherlite for the GREAT Mexican Blowout in 79') The product is "Cenospheres" derived from coal fired power plants (basically it is Fly Ash) This lightweight Additive has been used very successfully by all the Cementing companies for many years. I know that Nitrogen based Low density Cement is cheaper that using Cenospheres but I wonder if the final cost of using this type of low density cement will truly save money (considering the cost of cleaning up this oil spill). Dwight has passed away now, but I wonder what he would say?
David Lindahl 941-375-8050

I don't know what he would say, but I would say one thing that BP is known for in the industry is being CHEAP! They want to pay all their sub contractors pennies and do because they are so big they can. The worst part about that trend to me is that it's all about Wall Street and investors.

That type of arrogance leads to making decisions to go ahead with the wrong decision, making the bet it will be okay once more EVEN THOUGH you logs and tests tell you something different. Reminds me of those guys on Wall Street betting on derivatives.

Sad. Look who has paid the price.

One example of BP being cheap. They are paying $10/hour to wade around in swamps (in near summer heat & humidity) in modified haz mat gear picking up oil.

At least haz mat keeps the mosquitoes off.