The Gulf oil spill, recovery, and cleanup - Monday's Press Conference

Today’s press conference in Louisiana began with an update on the use of the riser insertion tool. However Coast Guard Admiral Landry cautioned that this only treated part of the spill, and that they were looking forward to the “top kill” program that would follow. The weather is now good enough that four controlled burns are planned, as well as a strong skimming program. To date there has been a minimal impact on the shore from the spill, but teams are in the field ready to react as this becomes more severe. Further the high flow rates from the Mississippi River are helping keep the larger volumes of the spill out in the Gulf. Both NOAA and the EPA are monitoring the use of dispersants recognizing the tradeoff between its use and the damage that it is mitigating.

The Admiral drew attention to the statement by Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA, who had said, in regard to the many reports of large underwater oil plumes and their causes and likely effects

"Media reports related to the research work conducted aboard the R/V Pelican included information that was misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate," Lubchenco said in a statement. She was referring to research, including water sampling, done by the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology.

Lubchenco said those scientists have clarified that (in regard to the plumes) they have not reached "definitive conclusions ... about the composition of the undersea layers they discovered. Characterization of these layers will require analysis of samples and calibration of key instruments. The hypothesis that the layers consist of oil remains to be verified."

This has been later qualified by Vernon Asper, one of the scientists involved who said, among other things:

1) We are not 100% sure that the plumes are oil. We have NOT analyzed the samples yet and won’t know what’s in them until we do. That will take at least a few days or even a week or more and we don’t want to rush these results. The sensor we used is not definitive for oil and other compounds do respond in a manner that is similar to oil and could be confusing us.

2) I NEVER said that these “plumes” could cause a dead zone! It’s really important that you correct that! Consider:

a. We don’t even know if there is any oil in the plumes so the oxygen signal we’re seeing could be due to something else that is going on near the well and, if so, it could disappear overnight (we just don’t know

b. The oxygen levels we saw are lower than “normal” but are no where near the danger zone! For the most part, they are not even as low as the layer above them that we call the “oxygen minimum zone.”)

The NOAA Administrator was also on PBS where she again said that it was too early to speculate on what was in the plumes, and that there was a light oil sheen on the surface that might reach Florida in 9 – 12 days, but that it would be very dilute, and may just show up as tar balls, with little prospect of significant damage to distant beaches. She noted that the threat sounds scarier than it is.

MMS confirmed that the permit for the second well has been approved, and is in process. They pointed out that any procedure being carried out has first to be reviewed and permitted by MMS after ensuring that it will have minimal environmental impact and be safe. They also emphasized that the monitoring and regulatory side of MMS will be strengthened.

For their part Doug Suttles of BP noted that at the time of the briefing on the afternoon of the 17th, they were getting a little over 1,000 bd up through the Riser Insertion Tube (RIT). And they are now slowly opening the choke to ensure no hydrate formation.

Later this week they will run the top kill procedure, that will start to close out the well sealing process. The use of the RIT and of dispersant has reduced the size of the oil slick appearing on the surface.

In response to questions from the floor, Mr Suttles said that if the RIT could recover more than half the flow out of the riser (which he characterized as a 2,000 bd target), that they would all be very pleased. He stressed that they did not want to draw too much fluid into the system, since that would lead to hydrate formation and another blockage of the line. And later he noted that they hadn’t decided yet what to do with the oil that they are capturing. (Though he also ducked a more definite confirmation of the actual volume that is leaking).

Admiral Landry said that the oil had not entered the Loop Current at this time. The larger volumes of oil are several miles from it, while there is a surface sheen that is getting closer.

Doug Suttles further explained the top kill by pointing out that the mud will be introduced at high velocity through the two 3-inch diameter choke and kill lines into the BOP. However, he also clarified the position of the RIT, which I had thought was close to the BOP. It is, however, almost 5,000 ft up the riser, at the open end. The top kill is anticipated to stop the flow, after which cement will be injected. That will stop the flow, but BP will go ahead with a relief well to reach, and then pump cement into the bottom of the well which will finally secure it. He stressed that there was no intent ever to produce oil from this well, because the oil-bearing formation around the well is now degraded into a condition that is no longer controllable. The final decision as to whether to use “top kill” or “junk shot” first has not been made, but the inclination is to use top kill since it has less risk of precluding the alternate technique if it should not work.

Before they committed to the top kill they had to know the pressure on both sides of the BOP. They now have that data, and found that the pressures were quite low, less than expected, and were falling. They then had to remove the “yellow pod” on the BOP since this carries the controls for the valves to the choke and kill lines, and these controls had to be modified to allow the top kill to take place. The pod has been prepared, but has not yet been taken underwater and replaced. That will happen soon.

The Admiral also emphasized that even though the oil may stop flowing out of the well at the end of the week, the studies and investigations of what is going on will continue for a long time. Further all the steps that are being made are being reviewed at several levels in different government agencies to ensure that they do what is needed, with minimal impact, while working out where all the oil and dispersant has gone.

Charlie Henry of NOAA clarified the comments about the “oil plumes” noting that the samples were so clear that you could not, by eye, see anything in the water. To find out what really is in the water will require an analysis, that has not yet been done, of what is actually there. There is also a lot of research and monitoring to see where the oil is going, and in what condition. This is the adaptive management of the process which must change as results come in regarding what is going on.

Before they committed to the top kill they had to know the pressure on both sides of the BOP. They now have that data, and found that the pressures were quite low, less than expected, and were falling

This is characteristic of "gushers' (uncontrolled wild wells). Maximum production for a few days or week(s), then decline. By avoiding definitive measurements of the amount of oil polluting the Gulf, BP can seriously understate the total volume by using the start point (before sand erosion) and a data point a month later.

Best Hopes for eliminating the tax deduction for clean-up and damages# and revoking BP's license to operate Atlantis and Thunderhorse,


# Under current IRS law, fines (such as the $104 and $84 million BP has paid recently) are not tax deductible. It seems fair and reasonable for the tax payers not to have to "pitch in" to pay for this mess either.

The decline goes through either an exponential decline or a hyperbolic decline. Geologists by and large don't realize this, and definitely don't teach this, but hyperbolic decline is a "fat-tail" effect that is simply caused by an aggregation of varying exponential declines summed together. The one obvious bad result of hyperbolic decline is that the effects tend to drag out for a long time. The fast exponential decline is over with more quickly than the slower exponential components. That's where the fat-tail comes from and why the hyperbolic decline can seemingly go on for quite some time.

This is just entropy at work because nature tends to want to disperse.

edit: Short writeup here ( describing this effect

While it's true that most universities don't teach the nature of, and the differences between, an exponential and hyperbolic decline, the good ones do.

It's like the myth that if you drop a feather and a lead ball in a total vacuum, they'd fall at the same rate. This is the drivel that's taught at 99.9% of American colleges and universities. The lead ball actually falls faster, but can't be measured. It's the Universal Laws of Attraction which accurately measures the attraction of the masses (earth vs. feather; earth vs. ball)

I haven't worked out the formula in decades, but as I recall, the gravitational differences between a 1 Oz. feather and a 1 Lb. ball dropped in a vacuum show up around the 18th decimal place.

Can you be more specific? What law of physics would make the lead ball fall faster?

The larger mass will accelerate more quickly due to gravitational attraction - however, the difference in mass between the ball and the feather is so small that this effect would be hard to measure and the two objects will appear to 'fall' at the same rate.

My first thought when reading this was "BS".
On second thought, you‘re probably right.

CAVEAT: I haven‘t heard this anywhere before, what follows is my one brainchild and I may be completely wrong.

For a free falling body, gravitational force


and acceleration force


are thought to be equal, so m1, the mass of the falling body is cancelled out.
This is exactly true only for a point mass.
When the mass has a spacial extension, the gravitational forces on it‘s parts are not exactly parallel, because they all point to the center of the earth. You can split up this forces in a part that points in the direction of the movement and in a part that points towards the center of the body. Only the first part is really accelerating the body, and it‘s a tiny bit smaller than the gravitational force.
The larger a body (for a given mass), the larger this difference becomes.

That‘s why a feather is falling slower than a lead ball of the same mass.

Am I making any sense?


The effective accelerating force, as a fraction of gravitational force, for two point masses, kept at a distance of 0.1 m can be calculated as
My pocket calculator says 1.0.
An arbitrary precision calculator says 0.9999999999999999692.


This is what Neil was getting at I think:

[edit after a good night's sleep]:


M=mass of the earth
m=mass of falling object

Since the mass of the 1 lb ball is 16 times as great as the mass of the 1 oz feather, the sum (M+m) is greater (albeit very slightly) for the case of the ball than for the feather. Hence the ball falls ever so slightly faster.

Intuitively it is because not only is the earth pulling the "falling object" toward itself, the falling object is exerting a gravitational attraction on the earth, pulling the earth toward itself. Since the ball has 16 times the mass of the feather its gravitational attraction on the earth is 16 times greater than the feather. Since the masses of both the ball and the feather are miniscule compared to the mass of the earth the sum M+m1 [earth plus ball] is indistinguishable from the sum M+m2 [earth + feather] out to some decimal point. (possibly the 18th place as Neil mentioned.)

I grant you that this is so slight a difference that it is totally insignificant as far as practical matters go, but nevertheless I believe that Neil's claim is correct.

Hope I'm not getting in deeper by continuing to dig ;)

Edit: And so if both objects are dropped at the same time they will fall at exactly the same rate because their combined masses are acting together on the earth, but if they are dropped separately then the more massive ball will fall at an infinitesimally greater rate than the feather.

"It's like the myth that if you drop a feather and a lead ball in a total vacuum, they'd fall at the same rate."

I have always understood it as they would, "hit the ground at the same time." In thinking about doing this in the real world (or the moon as done once with a hammer and a feather), I would have to think the human capability of simultaneously dropping an object from each hand has an error range that is much more significant than 16 digits.

As with all experiments and observations, some decision has to be made as to what significant digit is the goal of the scientist.

“When the mass has a spacial extension, the gravitational forces on it‘s parts are not exactly parallel, because they all point to the center of the earth… The larger a body (for a given mass), the larger this difference becomes.”

Ratz, if your theory is true, and I think it is, a feather oriented perpendicular to the earth’s surface will accelerate faster than the ball.

On the other hand, the earth is accelerating towards the ball 16 times faster than toward the feather, assuming separate runs.

You got me stumped on that one.
I know for a fact that they don't explain the basis of exponential vs a hyperbolic, its just a formula to them. Formulas rule, understanding comes in second place.

"...18th decimal place...". Nobody, I mean nobody, has either a theory or practical measurement of gravitation that predicts the velocity of a falling object to the 18th decimal place. Let's see...with the Earth's age estimated at more or less 4.5 billion years, one part in 18 decimal places of that would be about one-tenth of a second. Or put another way, an iron ball and a feather dropped from six feet in a vacuum on the Moon would differ by less than a trillionth part of the diameter of an atomic diameter with respect to which hit the ground first. This isn't reality.

Here's what's happening - heavy and light things fall at the same speed in a vacuum because the heavy thing has more gravitational force accelerating it than the light thing, and the accelerations are therefore equal. You know, F=[G(M1)(M2)]/R2, also =A(cceleration)? So, for example, a steel ball that weighs 10 lbs falls at the same rate in a vacuum as a steel ball that weighs an ounce because EACH ATOM in the steel balls experiences a given gravitational force. So it doesn't make any difference whether it's one atom falling or a collection of the nearly unimaginable number that exist in a 10lb ball, they all fall at the same speed because the force on each atom is the same. And yes, Einstein added to our understanding of this, and modified it slightly, in a manner that is not consistent with your view.

This is pretty straightforward to understand, although it took the titanic intellect of Isaac Newton to figure it out for the first time. It's taught in grade schools nowdays. It works very well, thank you, so well that we routinely send spacecraft like Cassini to Saturn and navigate through the gaps in the rings from Earth, which is harder than hitting a rabbit over a thousand miles away with a .22 rifle. You don't think it works, go visit JPL and ask them how they get around the solar system so well without your insight.

"I haven't worked out the formula in decades, but as I recall..." - there isn't any formula that describes what you think you recall. Life is short. Don't be lazy. Pay attention to reality. Go educate yourself. You're not ready to offer useful opinions on either deep submarine oil leaks or gravitational physics.

It's like the myth that if you drop a feather and a lead ball in a total vacuum, they'd fall at the same rate. This is the drivel that's taught at 99.9% of American colleges and universities.

You aren't serious, are you? It is not myth or drivel, it's actually correct. A grand piano, a golf ball, or a rap singer, dropped off the top of the Empire State Building, will all hit the ground at the same time, and be subject to the same acceleration/speed under gravity all the way down - these forces are not a function of mass - at least not to any level that is meaningful to experimentation and science - and reality.

I never got past freshman physics back in the dark ages, but I do believe theoritically , at the outer limits of theory so to speak, the objects will fall at ever so slightly different rates in a vacuum if one object is dense and the other is not, due to the vector effect and the point mass effects.

Even though the difference in acceleration is to small to measure , and is of no consequence whatsover in practical engineering problems,it is of considerable importance in the highly rarefied air of the ivory towers where the engineers approach the physicists , had in hand, knees bent, and the physicists approach the theoritical mathematicians the same way.

The mathematicians only actually talk to God of course, but they will send out a flunky to answer the physicists questions occasionally.

Seriously, the laws governing atomic diecay and disintegration would still probably be unknown if we only had available to us the mechanical scales use in laboratorys a century or two ago.

So far as I know there is still not a scale capable of directly detecting the daily or even annual loss of wieght or mass of say a kilo of decaying uranium isotopes-these measurements are obtained indirectly by electromagnetic count.

So somebody will use that eighteenth place decimal someday to verify or disprove an experimental or theoritical result or problem.

Incidentally the aiming the rifle analogy does not apply very well to getting the space probes or satellites to thier desired targets;a rifle bullet once fired is totally uncontrolled;but the space probes are capable of being steered , and are steered, to some extent.

Small rockets and a small amount of fuel are specifically on board for just this purpose.

I am reminded of a recent post by Toolpusher. He attended a training class by TransOcean where they advised against taking photos of accident scenes, "because they may contain unwanted information".

*LOTS* of "unwanted information" out in the Gulf today.


It is truly unfortunate when the best approach from a legal perspective is 180% out of phase with what is best for technical optimization.

One would think that failure to adequately document a situation would be viewed the same as destroying evidence, but it's not.

Indeed. This illustrates yet again that You Can't Have It Both Ways. You can optimize the system to document and learn from mistakes, or you optimize for point-scoring, Shyster-lawyering, and revenge-taking. But to some extent the two optimizations are in conflict, as the aviation industry well knows. It's not reasonable to expect mistakes to be documented and learned from when any messengers can expect to be shot.

The trouble begins with grandstanding politicians playing in their pigpen, media "reporters" filling yawning time-quotas in a slow news season, self-appointed ideologues looking to re-engineer society to their own capricious and arbitrary tastes, and so on. There's no prize for guessing correctly which of the two optimizations folks like that will lean towards... and there's no prize for guessing correctly which makes for more ratings-friendly TV...

AlanfromBigEasy -

Do you sort of get the impression that the NOAA is quite anxious to have the size of the release NOT be overestimated or the potential environmental damage NOT be overstated?

One thing that I find a bit puzzling is this statement that they haven't had time to analyze the water samples yet. I don't know what sort of analyses they are running, but it is not necessary to run a complete EPA-certified organic GCMS battery of analyses to detect the likely presence of oil. Total organic carbon (TOC) can be a fairly accurate surrogate for oil provided there is not a lot of other highly variable soluble organic material in the water. And this is an analysis that can be run quite rapidly to provide near real-time results. I don't see why they can't put a TOC analyzer of several of their boats and go around collecting a large amount of real-time data rather than hauling samples back to the lab and waiting a week or more for the results.

There are also other fairly rapid analytical methods that can serve as a surrogate for oil, but I am not all that familiar with them. My point is that we already know what's in crude oil, so we don't have to run a full battery of analyses; what we do need to do is to be able to detect the presence of oil quite rapidly and over a wide area, and it's hard to do that if you have continually drag samples back to some lab.

Given people's ability to panic and make poor decisions, is it a bad thing not to overstate the environmental damage potential?

Given the ability for culpable people to down play the dangers and avoid spending too much money on the problem they created, is it a bad thing to state the worst possible scenario?

The worst case scenario is a meteor hits planet earth and we then don't have to worry about the worst case scenario. Next.

No - we are talking about worst case scenario in the present context.

K, the oceans become a deadzone, Mad Max becomes reality.

How bad would you like your worst case scenario? I can cater to any unscientific mass hysteria.

Gulf becomes a dead zone
Fish all mutate and become uneatable
Florida's beaches turn black from tar

The fact is the worst case scenario is unknown, so any one you come up with is just a fiction based on your own personal bent. That you can't accept the answer "We don't know" is just your own fear taking over. If you don't think BP is doing enough, go propose your own solutions to Congress.

Dogs and cats living together, Mass Hysteria!!!

You have absolutely no idea. I met a new girl that has a cat that is friends with the two neighbor dogs. Outside dogs that live on each side of her. They have only known each other for a few weeks. When I first saw them get together I thought the cat better run or it was going to die. They nap next to each other. Weirdest thing I have seen in a while. I will take pictures and post them. Especially if we get some baby catdogs. Just kidding about that last one, but the rest is true.

GregTX I think you missed my point
you said "Given people's ability to panic and make poor decisions, is it a bad thing not to overstate the environmental damage potential?"

I just wanted to turn your argument over to illustrate that it was a simplistic argument by stating a similarly simplistic argument on the other side. No I don't want anyone to posit the worst scenario they can possibly think of. Nor do I want them to understate the environmental damage and fail to protect what needs protecting. I want serious scientists to propose multiple possibilities and solutions that are feasible for those possibilities. I want them to err on the side of the environment and the humans cleaning up the spill. I want the public to be told not that the spill will kill all life on earth, but also not that the spill is inconsequential.

Again to turn your flimsy arguments around, if you think BP is doing just fine, run on down to Congress and tell them to stop pressuring BP or doing any investigation.

What you failed to understand was that I was not making a proposal or serious comment, I was trying to illustrate what a useless comment you had made by making an useless counter one based on the format you used.

My serious argument is that likely scenarios and some semi unlikely scenarios should be considered. Any feasible action to stop the leaking, avoid harm to our fisheries, the populations of the coast, the workers seeking to contain the spill should be considered and the ones most likely implemented. Seems like in large part that is what is happening. To underplay the danger and do nothing is foolish. To implement actions that are unlikely to help or only barely feasible is also foolish.

Yes, we can see how averse government was to inciting public overreaction and stating the worst possible scenario with the WMD's...

Can't know for sure yet, but in this case the gov't (since they are also culpable for not regulating appropriately) may be avoiding stating the worse case scenario. Its not like this was a plan they were promoting (ie. the gov't was not trying to scare the public out of deep sea drilling, in fact they said it was safe) so why would they overstate the likely result of the spill. Whereas with WMD's they were overstating the case because they had a plan they were promoting.

Want to invade Iraq - tell people they have WMD's
Want to drill in the gulf - tell people its safe (before the accident)
Want to drill in the future - promise that they will get this fixed and fix up the regulatory agency and only drill again when it is safe (when will that be?).

See the difference. It all depends on what you want to do as to whether you overstate or understate. The government will do whichever suits their case. Except for those who lived through Exon Valdez and the private not bought out environmental groups, I would guess that BP, the government and other related entities are by and large at this point understating possible outcomes rather than overstating them. We shall see. The proof is in the pudding.

Yes it is a bad thing, just as understating the problem is a bad thing.

Overstating the problem generates unnecessary fear and anxiety in people, it causes economic hardship (just ask Florida hotel owners), it can cause incorrect responses to the problem and it provides fodder for every politician, lobbyist and activist with an agenda.

Understating the problem can lead to additional damage by not providing people who are affected clear warning so they can take appropriate actions, it leads to not responding appropriately to the situation and is just plain dishonest.

The ONLY responsible and ethical path is to TELL the TRUTH.

And to include a range of possibilities instead of definitive statements drawn for incomplete data. The estimates of the volume of the leak based on satellite and photos and aerial surveys a couple weeks ago should have been stated as between 2,500 and 10,000 barrels, not an exact 5,000. And as the leak rate increased that should also have been reported. And when the government people reporting the spill were asked why such a wide range, again tell the truth - visual estimates are inaccurate.

Statements appearing in the press like the oil plumes will cause a massive dead zone, or this spill will kill off the entire Gulf of Mexico or inundate the Eastern seaboard are just plain false and we should label them as what they are - lies.

given the uncertainty of the ranges and the tendency for certain individuals to seize on the worst numbers without accounting for probability, the truth would more accurately be "We don't know", but as I've read from many posts here, that's an unacceptable answer, especially when they believe theres a particular technology that will answer all their questions, as Alan has restated many times with the Woods Hole.

Greg, when the people who own the knowledge refuse to allow others access, we must assume the worst. If BP won't tell us or allow us to calculate the flow rate, we assume it is much much higher than they state. When observations seem to indicate certain facts, and the folks ''in the know' won't confirm or deny them, we assume they are true.

It is a matter of persepctive. Who has a dog in the hunt?

BP is actively engaged in spinning facts. Most government agencies involved are run by former execs and employees of oil companies. We think they are shills and helping their buddies. They have a dog in the hunt... the want better jobs when they leave the agency. It is the way things work.

So, when we cast projections in the 'worst case' mode, what is your objection? Others might panic?

As said above, divulge everything, hide nothing. Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.


Overstating the problem generates unnecessary fear and anxiety in people ...
The ONLY responsible and ethical path is to TELL the TRUTH.

A very astute comment.
Often activist types massively overstate things because they think it will help their cause. But instead they create strawmen for their adversaries to knockdown. For a different set of motivations the press often does likewise. The transmission of data from scientist to press agent, to official press, to typical blog to public opiniion, is very similar to the way rumours mutate as they run from person to person. What comes out at the end of the pipe often has little resemblence to what was fed in.

Overstating the problem generates unnecessary fear and anxiety in people ...
The ONLY responsible and ethical path is to TELL the TRUTH.

A very astute comment.
Often activist types massively overstate things because they think it will help their cause. But instead they create strawmen for their adversaries to knockdown. For a different set of motivations the press often does likewise. The transmission of data from scientist to press agent, to official press, to typical blog to public opiniion, is very similar to the way rumours mutate as they run from person to person. What comes out at the end of the pipe often has little resemblence to what was fed in.

I think understatement more accurately describes the USCG record to date. From "no leak" to 1,000 bbls per day, to 5,000 bbls day to "there is no oil in the gulf loop " (General Mary statement yesterday), "there is no proof the tar balls in Key West are from the oil spill". "No proof that oil is stratifying in the water column".

BTW, the only NOAA research vessel in the Gulf, Gordon Gunther, was sent AWAY from the spill on May 10th.

Yes. I vaguely remember one day turnaround on BTEX analysis from contaminated ground water. This gives concentrations, in ppm, of four specific oil compounds (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl benzene and xylene (?)).

Less than that is required to do a "yes or no" oil determination.

I think the fix is in unfortunately.

Note that there is *NOT* a fleet of oceanographic vessels (or even shrimp boats with an experienced hand taking water samples and marking the GPS, time and depth of each sample) trolling the Gulf, defining the plume.

Perhaps to save the tourist industry of Florida this year ?


I think the fix is in unfortunately.

Doesn't this look like a case of people blowing up uncertain information way out of proportion. They probably have little experience doing this sort of analysis/data collection -weren't they pulled off of unrelated research? It is quite possible that what they are seeing is just normal variation in the GOM. False readings and conclusions seem far more likely than massive underwater oil slicks.

Likewise, scale matters. If (as reported) only small amounts of oil are reaching the loop current, then an accurate statement would be that it is so far nothing to panic about.

I don't know what sort of analyses they are running, but it is not necessary to run a complete EPA-certified organic GCMS battery of analyses to detect the likely presence of oil. Total organic carbon (TOC) can be a fairly accurate surrogate for oil provided there is not a lot of other highly variable soluble organic material in the water.

Try pulling the cork off of the bottle and giving it a sniff. This is a media dodge; out of sight, out of mind.

They made a mistake when they gave the dimensions. Oil industry people are specifically trained to calculate the volume and concentration (saturation) of hydrocarbons.

When smart people like Shelburn come up with 30 PPM oil and it is headed for the loop current volumetric flow dilution the game begins to end.

I don't know why it is not an equal probability that it doesn't have any oil and they are suppressing that. There is no grant money in that either.


According to rigzone, BP has 5 more platforms in the Gulf (though according to BP's site there are 8), do we know where these platforms are located exactly?

Their licenses should be at the least suspended until they can fully comply with safety standards.

Alan, have you ever considered, even for a moment, that the hundreds of BP engineers, the hundreds of employees/engineers from over 150 outside companies, the team of scientists at Los Alamos (doing modeling of the release), as well as the employees of the MMS, Coast Guard and the dozens of other federal agencies in the room....that maybe, just maybe, they are actually telling the truth about the spill flow rate.

I mean, there is no engineer in their right mind who would okay a capture design that would potentially imperil the ship that will be processing said captured oil and gas. Blowing up the support vessels would probably not be high on the To-Do list right now.

So, are we to believe that a few professors and outside people that viewed a 45 second clip are somehow better able to ascertain the flow rate? And that BP, as well as the federal government, has somehow managed to muzzle probably well over a 1000 people from "leaking" (no pun intended) the real flow rate. Give me a break.

What could BP do right now to convince you? You have already convinced yourself with no real evidence that this well is somehow one of the biggest wells in the world, so is there anything that the company or government can tell you that would change your perception?

(4 yr lurker and infrequent poster)

Using the acoustic sensors developed by Woods Hole to measure the volume of undersea vents would have convinced me.

But BP canceled that measurement though.


So the work done by the hundreds if not thousands of engineers working this is irrelevant to you then?


Given that BP management (and BP legal) are in charge, yes.

As noted earlier, they want to avoid "unwanted information" being developed (later available via subpoena) so they avoid good measurements of the flow, or tracking the undersea plume, as two specific examples.

This appears to trump information needed for good engineering.

Metaphorically, they have removed the cameras from all of the observers.


But they (whomever "they" are) have not removed the eyes and mouths of the thousand or so people cycling through the various crisis centers, including the hundreds of government employees that have no vested interest in keeping the oil industries "secrets".

it is dissapointing that you have chosen to completely dismiss the efforts of the thousands of people working 24/7 to mitigate this admittedly disastrous blow out, while choosing to emotionally follow the worst case wishcasting of a few folks seeking their 15 minutes of fame on CNN.

I see no reason for further debate as your mind is already closed to any other possibilities or explanations.


Slatz -

After stonewalling for weeks, BP finally released a 2 minute video of the leak. NPR took that video to three independent experts, who used different methodologies to estimate the flow. All of their estimates were in the 50,000 to 100,000 bpd range. I clearly don't know what the flow rate is, but there is ample reason for concern.

Aside from the obvious reasons for BP employees to lowball the flow rate, government employees in the MMS were literally in bed with, and getting free illegal drugs from, oil company reps. Beyond that, oil companies generate jobs and tax revenue, plus their boss, Mr. Obama, just a month ago announced his intention to open new areas for offshore drilling. Remember after 9-11, when the EPA said that the giant gnarly ash cloud over Manhattan was super ok fine, no problem? It came out a few years later that it was (duh) full of glass, insulation, toxic chemicals, all kinds of nasty shit. I'd say we're in a pretty similar situation now. "Nothing to see here citizens, move along, continue to purchase consumer goods."

You may turn out to be right in the end about the size of the spill and it's impacts, but Alan has every reason to be suspicious.

It is important to note that it's not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

The particle velocity measurement used in the NPR story is reasonable for the total volumetric flow, but after expansion from the leak, by far most of the volume is probably methane gas. If the oil/gas volume ratio can be calculated from other info, then that could be multiplied by the 70,000 bpd total volumetric flow from the NPR story to get an estimate of the oil flow.

[duplicate post deleted]

Numerous signs are appearing that the flow rate is much higher than is being officially reported. Independent verification would be called for.

BP is hiding something, perhaps about the flow rate, perhaps about something else. This BP spokesman quote, taken from Giant plumes of oil forming under the gulf [], is quite distrubing:

"We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort."

Now, I'm not an engineer, so someone correct me if I'm wrong. What we have is oil under a high amount of pressure exiting the sea floor in an uncontrolled manner. This pressure does not exist ex-nihilo however, so there are factors causing this pressure. Geophysical pressure, the weight of the ocean, and the weakness of the fissure caused by drilling and weakness caused by subsequent oil flow all play a factor.

It would seem that with all these massive forces and fragile interfaces at play that one of the most relevant issues to the effort is the flow rate. You would also need to know if the rate is increasing or decreasing, and also at what rate.

And in the end we need to remember that the Shock Doctrine has taken effect, meaning that immediately after a disaster people are not thinking as clearly as they otherwise would, which makes corporate manipulation and secret-keeping much easier.

Slatz - If I may interject, you asked Alan a question and he answered it. I doubt that he wishes to get sucked into a never ending argument, especially when we will eventually know what the volumes are, mooting the end result of any argument. Alan is obviously distraught over the impact of this event on him personally, and is a very well respected and key contributor here on TOD and especially here in the DB.

Given how many times he's proposed various flowrates, I think he's quite happy getting into never ending arguments.

But yeah, I think he's established that he hates BP and thinks they're a bunch of liars, murderers and thieves.


[BP] America today announced two plea agreements and a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and a consent order with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which end governmental investigation of company wrongdoing on matters related to the March 2005 explosion and fire at the Texas City refinery, the March and August 2006 oil transit line spills in Alaska and improper propane trading in April 2003 and February 2004...

BP Products North America Inc. will plead guilty to a felony ... BP Products has agreed to a $50 million fine and three years probation.

BP Exploration Alaska, Inc. (BPXA) will plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation ...
BPXA has agreed to a $12 million fine and 3 years probation. Under the agreement, BPXA will also pay restitution of $4 million to the State of Alaska, which has agreed not to prosecute the company, and make a $4 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Arctic environmental research...

BP America has entered a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the U.S. Justice Department under which the company admits that it manipulated the price of February 2004 TET physical propane and attempted to manipulate the price of TET propane in April 2003. The DPA concludes all criminal investigations of BP America ...

BP America will pay fines, penalties and restitution totaling just over $303.5 million, including $53.5 million to a victim restitution fund, a criminal penalty of $100 million, a civil penalty of $125 million and a $25 million payment to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Consumer Fraud Fund.


A similar type article:

The court of public opinion is not going to be in BP's favor.

Heck, I never knew what BP was until this spill....

I don't think most Americans knew that BP was British Petroleum. I think most thought it was some " beyond petroleum alternative energy co-op" prior to this spill....

We were duped...And we don't like it.

I think public opinion was different with Exxon, because Exxon is huge and they're everywhere. (There was really no escaping them)

Whereas BP is this new kid on the block. ....Not a very good first impression......

$303.5 million

from memory - BP's profit 1/4 2010 was near $5B - using that - $303.5 million is =/- 6% of one quarter's profit - for incidents over a multi year period -

multi year's incidents are going to be a line item on a P&L - a mere annoyance - a few less corporate perks to swath around -

CODB cost of doing business.

Quote from Alan"By avoiding definitive measurements of the amount of oil polluting the Gulf, BP can seriously understate the total volume by using the start point (before sand erosion) and a data point a month later."

alan is exactly the other way arround if the pressure is smaller below the BOP means that the flow rate can be ONLY higher

if we take the flow equation Q is proportional with Dp, where Q is the flow rate while Dp is the pressure differential between the Reservoir (Pr) and the surface pressure (P bellow BOP)

as the reservoir pressure will be almost constant a decrease in the Pressure bellow BOP means that more oil is flowing, this is again a proof that the chocking effect of the BOP is reduced so erosion takes place inside it


We are owed that pressure data so we may deconvolve it in Laplace Space (see Simmons,Sageev, Ramey, etal 1988)....

BP sucksssssssss

(I worked for them in San Fran one long summer and they pretty much did then)

Read here about the history of Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA,

And read here for a little different take on all this, note especially the last posts on "Fast, Good or Cheap, pick 2"

Plenty of blame to go around, Old Fisherman. And fishing - or at least the way that fishing is done - IS part of the problem. If you haven't done so, read this Oil Drum post.

Seems to me that Pew is an environmental group that wants to preserve the treasure that our marine fishery represents. Fishermen, OTOH, want to make a living, and the easier the better. Hence they tend to overfish using extreme technologies.

In the case of the spill, which degrades the fishery and is inimical to the interest of Pew/NOAA and the fishermen, one would think they would be working together.

Still, I would like to see more information, not less. I do sympathize with her concern that exagerations be minimized, and that the information be accurate.

Is there any indication that the Pelican people would have distorted the matter? I understand the need to analyze and make sure the plumes are actually oil, and that the O2 reduction is correctly interpreted. Once the initial analysis is completed, then assessments made on future samples might be more correctly 'assumed' to be oil, or not be oil, as that analysis shows.

As for the second item, it is rediculous... some people look for conspiracies and terrorists under every rock. BP doesn't need the NKs to have a blowout. They have Halliburton.


" Is there any indication that the Pelican people would have distorted the matter? "

Well, speaking as a retired scientist, I think they DID distort the matter. Science can have moments of high excitement when an unexpected feature is discovered. This is what motivates scientists. They communicated their excitement to science journalists who were on-board to write stories about how science is done. The journalists caught some of the excitement by a contagion. No body INTENDED to distort. But it happened.

There is a similar excitement sweeping high energy physics now about some very preliminary results from the new hadron collider in Europe. People talking about seeing the face of God, and such. To be a successful scientist you have to be somewhat susceptable to these enthusiams. To be a successful professor, you have to communicate that enthusiam to students. To be a successful administrator is a different story about which I can't speak with any authority.

I can understand that. The question is, is the material detected oil? And, is it from the BP spill? And, how serious is it?

As for the oxygen level question, that is something that has to be reviewed constantly. I will be following that part of the story closely, as I am certain, will Alan.


Old Fisherman,

Your first link does a great job of ignoring the problem. The oceans have been wide open for fishing for so long that fishermen seem to think they have a "god given right" to keep on fishing just as much as always. The trouble with that is the oceans' fish stocks have taken a beating because of over fishing. The result is that there have been fewer fish to catch and less recovery of populations between seasons.

Like it or not, there are limits to how many fish can be taken from the oceans, just as there are limits to how much oil can be pumped out of the ground. Take too much and the fish population collapses. That has already occurred in several species, as I understand it. The same thing happens if a farmer puts too many cows in a field, they eat all the grass then starve. It's not a question of regulations, it's a problem of too many people taking too much out of the natural world. We are all part of the problem, particularly in the US, where our levels of consumption are way beyond what nature can sustain.

In the end, nature always wins...

E. Swanson

Has anyone done any final analysis of dispersion, not as in dispersants but as in dilution?

Keeping oil concentrated has bad effects but in some cases it may be beneficial.
Dispersing oil can dilute its effects but like CO2 in the atmosphere it could cause an overall degradation as an unintended consequence.

I do dispersion analysis on all sorts of topics and find that no one tries to simplify the effects.
The main thing to remember is that we are seeing the effects of entropy at work and it will take more and more energy to stop the effects of dispersion the further along it proceeds.

So scientists are doing all these hydrodynamic detailed models of where the oil is migrating, yet in the end we know that most of it will end up all over the place. The only caveat to that is that some may end up in a place like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the North Atlantic Gyre:

I haven't done an analysis myself because significant fractions of the oil naturally evaporate or biodegrade or form tarballs. In some ways doing atmospheric CO2 analysis is a no-brainer compared to this. CO2 is all very straightforward dispersion analysis with a pretty bad outcome. I just don't have a good feeling for what the outcome of this will be, apart from the localized effects around the Gulf states.

The big difference between oil in the ocean and CO2 in the atmosphere is the residence time. The oil gets eaten by bacteria. High localized concentrations might not get eaten as fast, as available oxygen becomes limiting.

If they want it to biodegade they really ought to leave it at the surface instead of making a subsea emulsion.

Perhaps you should model the dispersion of tar balls:

Coast Guard: Tar balls recovered from Key West, Florida

The Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will conduct shoreline surveys in Key West, Florida, on Tuesday after tar balls were found on a beach there, officials said.

I think they were actually planted there by environmental extremists. Don't know how they got them on the plane, though. Probably another Obamanation conspiracy. Anyway, Key West needs indigenous energy resources.


What is the volumetric flowrate of the loop current in May Joules?

Width and depth (cross-section) * velocity.

Rather than model dispersion I'm a convection man. Concentration and fractional flow.


Which one were you convected of? Both? Do any time?

Here is something good on the loop current:



Thanks-- I get 1.8 billion barrels per second of flow.

WHT- model the concentration of a contaminant in that.

157.5 miles wide by 2,600' deep by .8 meters per second.


With those numbers, I only get 1 billion barrels/sec.

Here is some more info on the loop current:

Gulf of Mexico oil spill 'increasingly likely' to enter Loop Current, travel to Florida Keys

Obviously, at some point it will disperse.

Otherwise you imply that it stays within a loop current without eventually leaking out?


I read Master's primer and followed a few links to NRL forecasts. A vast amount of data goes into creating displays containing all those squiggly arrows (lots and lots of x,y coord. pairs) Can you direct me to a description of the data collection system that must exist to validate the prediction work? Is data gathered from an fixed array of sensors? Satelite imaging? Doppler radar? How? and how often? Daily? Hourly? Etc.

Has anyone done any final analysis of dispersion, not as in dispersants but as in dilution?

I thought you'd have developed a dispersant discovery model by now.

May be a moot point as I heard this AM they were bringing in the Evergreen 747 supertanker to apply more dispersant, WebHubble. Being not even close to an expert on any of this (and on a crash course learning curve...), there is inherent logic in easier clean up when it's not diluted and dispersed widely. Just as it's easier to clean surface oil than slow leaking heavy crude (i.e. from a leaking, sunken ship) from the seabed.

BTW, frequent lurker here at TOD... more so lately than before... and always appreciative of the civil debate and sundry educated commentary here.

Thanks HO, your updates are greatly appreciated by those of us who don't have the time to untangle the strings of info and opinion coming in from the GOM mess. We would like to take today's reports as good news and will, but there's always the lingering worry that we are being smooth talked, positive spinned, if you prefer. Keep your magnifying glass focused. We are tuned in. TOD is by far the best truth seeking forum at hand.

A friend of mine recommended getting BJ services to pump a frac job on the well, that kills good wells all the time.


chuckle chuckle


Now that's just down right cruel FF. Not necessrially untrue...just cruel.

Having just gone through exactly that , with BJ, on an Kansas well I have a WI in I'm crying, not LOL.


Loop Current read & weep NYT link:

also this interesting Message in a Bottle tidbit from yesterday's TOD submissions:

According to NOAA it has not been established that this is oil. /sarc

This just in: Tourist finds tar balls on Southern California beach. Media reports quote expert who says it might be linked to Deep Water Horizon spill. Arnold considering BP lawsuit in attempt to close state budget deficit.

This just in: Obama has decided name Palin as the new MMS head. Palin explained that MMS has not been business friendly, but now they will be.

Her husband worked for BP for almost 20 years. That should be qualifications enough to satisfy anyone !


If the oil analysis matches the Deepwater oil then I'd say the undersea oil plumes exist, and NOAA director is going to look like a hack.

I'm sure the plumes exist.

I expect there is a very high percentage chance that they may originate from the blowout.

But writing headlines designed to panic people is irresponsible.

As some of the previous threads showed the concentration of oil will be measured in PPM and the scientists already said it can not be seen in the water samples with the naked eye.

The chance that these plumes will result in short term catastrophic damage is extremely low and nobody with any responsibility should be sending that message.

They should definitely do some further study (paid for by BP) of these plumes as to composition, origin, future travel, ultimate dispersion and long term residual damage.

Out of all the potential outcomes I've heard, isn't that which you outline above the most wonderful??

Disperse thick low ppm concentration plumes of this oil get caught up in the convective transport of the loop current and further diluted

One can only hope it was 70,000 bopd.


Quite low exposure to oil makes seafood unmarketable and can kill larvae, fry etc.

Oysters, as filter feeders, in particular are vulnerable.


Do you know the only thing better than a dozen oysters on the half shell with a cold beer ?

Two dozen oysters and two cold beers !

Who needs seafood, people need to drive their a**es to the mall.

Vernon Asper is on Democracy Now! today calling the plumes oil. Apparently he is more sure about it now.

Along with oil, the sulfamic acid based dispersant Corexit 9500 is said to be toxic to coral. I wonder how long it takes to determine if coral reefs around FL have been affected?

I wonder how long it takes to determine if coral reefs around FL have been affected?


That is unwanted information.

If no one looks, no one will find anything.


If no one looks, no one will find anything.

I will be looking as those reefs are in my front yard. I'm pretty sure that Reef Rescue will be looking and I know a few marine biologists who will be keeping an eye out on their own time and dime. I bet it will be possible to very easily mobilize the entire sport diving community in this area to lend a hand as well.

Unfortunately there are already so many stressors acting on those coral reefs that it will be very difficult to tease out what precisely is killing them. In any case one new added complicating factor in the form of dispersants and oil probably isn't going to make things any better at this particular juncture.

I'm sure the diving, fishing and tourist industry members would welcome direction and help from an organization such as NOAA but even if that help is not forthcoming, the coral reefs in this area are a huge economic engine for the region, if it should start to suddenly die off and there is no data that conclusively proves it isn't directly due to the oil spill but rather something like climate change and fertilizer run off from lawns and golf courses it will be very bad PR for BP!

Unfortunately there are already so many stressors acting on those coral reefs that it will be very difficult to tease out what precisely is killing them.

Exactly - what they are looking for is plausible deniability.

Alan--I'm starting to believe you. Have the Pelican Vessel scientists been shut up as well as castigated? And don't forget, we have coral reefs to worry about here in Louisiana. They are offshore to the west, called "The Flower Gardens," still far away from the underwater gusher, but not as far as FL, which already seems to be getting in the way of BP's mess.

I have a question for the geologists (and others who understand reservoirs better than I do).

When you pump oil out of a well, how much does the surface subside as the oil is removed?

And, a follow-up:

In deep-water wells, how much does the pressure of the water column increase the subsidence?

I'm trying to understand the physics of an uncontrolled well (the BP spill) in deep water, and I don't have a good handle on this part of it. Does the oil get pushed out of the well (because of water pressure subsidence) like toothpaste from a tube, or is the subsidence so minor as to be unimportant in the physics of the situation (more like a fly trying to push the toothpaste from the tube).

Thanks in advance.

Funnily enough my tech post coming up this Sunday will start to talk a little about some of these issues (if you read it closely enough). When you take material out of the ground (for simplicity lets initially say by driving a tunnel) the weight of the rock that used to rest on where the tunnel is transfers to the rock on either side. As the tunnel gets wider so that "pressure arch" will also widen, until a point is reached where it cannot bridge any longer and the weight transfers back to what is in the the space. If that is air, then the roof falls in. However as rock falls it breaks up and also bulks up so that while you would get some subsidence at the surface it is generally not the full height of the rock that has been removed.

OK that was the simple case, where we physically removed all the rock. With oil you are only removing the fluid that is in the pores between the rock grains. If the rock is very weak when this fluid is removed then the rock can crush and so there might be subsidence, but it depends on how deep and wide the area being drained is, as to how much reaches the surface. And many rocks are strong enough so that they can still carry the weight of the overlying rock, particularly if, over time, the oil is replaced by water.

The oil flows from the rock into the well because the well operator controls the pressure in the well so that it is lower than the fluid pressure in the rock. Simplistically this is done with a valve on the well that is opened and closed to control the pressure (and also the flow) to keep the pressure in the well and to a degree that in the rock, in a given range. There are a number of reasons for doing this that relate to how to get the most oil out of the rock. These are the questions that I usually answer on the Sunday Tech Talks such as this one on differential pressure.

Thanks, H.O., for the quick primer. I'll wait for your Sunday Tech Talk and post any further questions there.

My understanding is similar (though not as detailed) as what you've written, particularly in regards to controlling the pressure in the well. My lack of understanding is what the differences are if the pressure in the well is NOT controlled (like the oil spill).

Using my "toothpaste tube" example, normal wells have the cap in place and regulate how much comes out. But, what happens to the toothpaste in the tube if the cap is removed but the pressures remain the same?

I look forward to all of your Tech Talks, and I'll be sure to read the one on Sunday. Thanks.

In regard to what happens when you remove the cap - up to a certain point as the diameter of the hole that the fluid is going through increases so the flow will increase as the square of the diameter growth (the area of the circle the fluid is going through increases, while the speed of the flow, which is related to the pressure, stays the same). However at some point you reach the maximum flow that the structure can deliver to the well, and the flow will stabilize or fall in volume, due to increasing problems in getting to the well.

MT -- There are some old documented cases of subsidence from production (mostly CA I think) with very shallow fields (less than a couple of thousand feet deep).

But with deeper production like there is in the GOM it's a non-issue. There are generally two major forces that can push oil out of the reservoir: water drive and pressure depletion. In water drive the oil flows due to the pressure in the reservoir. As the oil is withdrawn water moves up into the rock and fills the void caused by the produced oil. This tends to maintain a fairly steady pressure. In pure PD there is no water movement so the reservoir pressure declines steadily until it's too low to flow any more oil. The rock will compress and can turn a relatively soft rock into something more like granite. But you're talking rock thinning on the order of feet or tens of feet at most. And buried under 2 or 3 miles of sediment the effect doesn't come close to reaching the surface.

AFAIK BP hasn't characterized the nature of the reservoir drive at the blow out. My guess would be predominantly water drive with a small pressure depletion component.

Wikipedia is not very informative, alas.

To fill in a few details, the Ekofisk oil is - unusually - held in a chalk reservoir. Subsidence was not originally expected. It has varied with time and location, and one of the objectives of the waterflood injection project was to reduce the subsidence rate. The final total subsidence was expected (in 2006) to reach 11 metres. I'm not sure if this is still the accepted design figure.

The compaction of the chalk has been very beneficial to Ekofisk production - you can get more toothpaste out of a tube which is easy to squeeze! Ekofisk is coming up for 50 years of production soon, and will continue for many years more. Sadly unlike most of the developments we work on nowadays, where you can expect the wells to water out within 3 years.

Lost Hills in CA currently has a lot of subsidence.

  • It always helps me to remember that the oil has migrated upward over the eons, since it is usually lighter than ground water, until it reaches a zone of impermeable rock (or salt). In this anticline, or dome-shaped formation, the oil waits patiently for someone to punch a hole in the impermeable layer so the pressure of the oil pressing upward is relieved into the well bore.

    Thanks, Rockman, for the tutorial. It is surprising to me that such a large amount of material can be removed from the ground without the ground subsiding very much. Though, it is understandable if the material (oil/gas) is replaced with another material (water).

    What about the Wink Sink? I can't believe nobody mentioned it yet.

    Does this mean Deep water oil wont save us from Peak oil now?

    If FEMA was managed by Dubya's buddy, the "Arabian horse manager", than the rest of the government agencies might also be equally fubar. All hat, no cattle. Well, in this case no fish.

    Well, certainly the good lawyer and political scientist, Chrys Oynes, must have been highly qualified to have been put in a position to oversee the offshore energy industry at the Mineral Management Service, under the Bush Cheney administration. Wonder why he suddenly decided to retire a little early?

    To weigh in on the flow question just a bit:

    I have been intensely curious about what BP would say about the flow rate from day one so I have specifically looked for BP to make a statement. I have never seen anything where BP actually stated any flow rate or range of flow rates. Every statement I have seen, often attributed to BP by the media has actually traced back to a statement by the USCG, NOAA, or other government agency.

    The only thing BP has said, as far as I can find, is a couple days after the 5,000 bpd announcement, when pressed about it a BP spokesman basically said "that number is as good as any other". They also reacted to the 70,000 bpd flow rate that made a large media splash as being very inaccurate.

    In Congressional testimony they mentioned a maximum rate of 60,000 bpd but I believe the phrasing of the question (conveniently eliminated by most of the media) was what was the theoretical absolute maximum rate of flow if the well was totally unrestricted - no BOP, no downhole obstructions, etc.

    I do believe BP knows much more than they are telling about what the flow rate actually is. In designing for the top kill and/or junk shot it is really vital information to the decision making. In fact, the approach they are now taking of trying the top kill before the junk shot could be a clue that the flow rate is not as great as they originally thought (we have no idea what their original estimate was) as they have to be able to pump the mud against that flow.

    Just to put a number to it, if you assume a leakage of about 16,500 bpd that would indicate a flow velocity in the 9-7/8 inch liner of about 2 ft/sec. Maybe some of the mud people can tell us at what velocity they would have a chance to pump mud against the flow. The relationship (for this purpose) between the leakage and the velocity is linear. If the leak is about 8,000 bpd the flow rate is about 1 ft/sec, if the leak is around 25,000 bpd the velocity is about 3 ft/sec.

    I am absolutely convinced, because I have had a chance to talk one on one with people involved in the initial survey, that with in the first few hours after the rig sank there were no oil leaks found.

    Now I am going to make an assumption from a few known facts and a lot of missing data. I am going to assume there was a small leak in the BOP. It took a number of hours for the oil to fill the several thousand feet of 21" riser which can contain a couple thousand barrels of oil so during that time - no leaks observed.

    As the leak continued it eroded the area around the restriction and got bigger ie the reported "1,000 bpd".

    It continued to erode and after a week we get to "5,000 bpd".

    It has continued to erode and the flow has increased but due to the media and public perception that the flow rates were misinformation deliberately put out by BP, the government is now gun shy and has decided to shut up on this particular aspect of the news.

    If this is the case it is a sad situation that we are having vital information withheld due to the fallout of an irresponsible media that only report the most inflammatory portions of the news and do not follow up with an examination of the facts.

    A new set of undersea leak vids was released today. TOP of BOP and "post insertion" of new device.


    also on a youtube channel
    but slightly bigger and scalable views with .wmv files off your link.

    On video 4
    (See most recent BP footage of plume , BP video, May 17, 2010 )
    one can see what appears to be hydrate on the underside of the Riser Insertion Tool 4" pipe curving back above the riser. Occasionally one can see the RITT rocking - ? due to flow or wave swell from the surface?

    But what is the skinny pipe leading in from the right?
    Seems to be held in place by a robot arm.

    Also, near the 5:00 mark, there is a big burst of brown, ? gas burst?

    video 3 is the riser leak
    (See BP footage of plume after intervention ,BP video, May 15, 2010),
    gnarly collection of bent pipes. Pressure behind the leak much higher, though the holes here are smaller.
    At around 2:20 they cut to a closeup of holes in the riser.

    video 2 is boring - end on view of main riser leak.

    video 1 is boring too - 5 minutes of side view of main riser leak.

    Certainly we can get the scale of the pipe and exiting plume from the robot arm in the video. I would not be surprised if every "belch" that comes out of that pipe is not at least 5 gallons of oil/gas mixture. There seemed to be at least one belch every second in that video as well as all the videos I've seen. The timing of the belches has been pretty regular as well. What does 5 gallons/second equal since the first video we saw?

    I was wondering if the skinny pipe is for methanol injection mentioned to keep the freeze problem at bay, possibly dispersants but it was not in the early vids., certainly it is not the 4" insertion tube if the riser is 22" diameter?


    Very interesting. But some of what you say doesn't fit with my memory. I recall reading that the first reports were that there was too much mud in the water to see anything. Then as the mud settled or drifted away. They said they still didn't see anything and added a throwaway less than a thounsand bpd.
    BUT what I actually recall is reading a post that CLAIMED that that is what the ubiquitous 'they' were saying.

    You have recently made a careful search of the contemporaneous record. What EXACTLY were the official reports in the hours immediately after the Deepwater Horizon settled on the bottom?

    Also TOD member, goodmanj, suggested that the billowing black cloud in the video of oil and gas streaming out of the riser pipe is not actually 100% oil. He states that it is a cloud of tiny oil drops suspended in seawater. The drop count density of this cloud could be quite low and still have it look black to the video camera. I have looked at the video again and decided that, in my judgement, he is right. A correct evaluation of the point particle velocity needs to be coupled with a believeable estimates of the oil drop count density and oil drop size. I have not seen this done by anyone who gives a number for leak flow rate in bpd.

    Third, if goodmanj and I are to be believed, the oil was in droplet for before it left the riser pipe on the bottom and could not have risen at a rate that would allow a significant amount of it to show as surface sheene when the government estimate was made.

    In summary, there is be good reason to reject two of the three measurements that you use in hypothesizing a trend of increasing leak rate. And the first measurement may be entirely spurious.

    Is this good or bad?

    Lastly, let me hypothesize about the state of mind of the BP people. Although they have never stated a belief in any particular value of flow rate, their behavior may be colored by their belief in a number, and we may place interesting limits on the range of their belief:
    The choke and kill lines in the BOP are 3 1/16 "ID pipe. There is a limit to the flow rate than can be pushed through a few dozen feet of 3 1/16 " pipe. They are acting as if they believe the upward flow velocity in the well is small enough to allow top kill to work, but only just barely. I don't think I ever knew how to calculate the flow rate limitation of viscosity and/or Bernoulli effect, so I wont pretend I have forgotten. Can you? Remember the answer is NOT an estimate of the actual flow rate, only an estimate of what they believe.

    So the thread about the fla. tarballs had a link to a fla. pol's website that had before and after 'insertion' pics of the leak....

    IMO they haven't cut it by 40%....also - it appears to be more oil (black) and less lights (whitish) than it used to.

    Here is the solution to the oil tragedy

    President of the US
    Makes President
    Army Core of Engineers
    Seizes land
    Under Immanent Domain
    Along shore line
    For easement use only
    At BP expense
    To store oil sludge
    At BP expense
    Until Sludge is disposed of
    At BP expense
    Land is restored
    At BP expense

    See graphic at link below
    At the bottom is upload button
    Press it

    Keep your day job..whatever that is...

    If anyone has the time, would you please discuss how explosives used under the seafloor concerning this leak...possibly help...or make things worse? Im in a very heated discussion with a friend concerning all this. I would appreciate it very much.


    This is an old thread so you might not get an expert answer. I'll take a stab at it based on what I've seen posted earlier.

    The Gulf of Mexico has no rock other than sedimentary rock and the first 1,000 feet down is mostly mud and sediment. Setting off an explosion would effectively make the BOP useless and then you would have a wide open flow from somewhere underneath the ocean floor. This flow would find its way up through the mass of rubble and mud that covers it resulting in thousands of small leaks that could not be stopped.

    Don't take this as gospel, but it should be enough to win the argument;)