The Gulf oil spill and oil collection - a Blogger's Conference

On Monday night Admiral Landry, who is heading the response to the Gulf oil spill and is in the Coast Guard, held a tele-conference with a number of bloggers. Unfortunately I had to be doing something else at the time (as I have quite often when there were Press and other opportunities over the past weeks). However there is both a video link, and a transcript available. Since the Admiral addressed some of the issues that have come up and been discussed in a variety of forums, I am going to cherry-pick some of her comments from the transcript.

Flaring the gas captured by the riser insertion tool (U.S. Coast Guard )

As an illustration, there was a question from Brad Johnson of ThinkProgress, about the size of the spill and that they should know the size of the spill if they are injecting dispersant into the plume.

The answer was

First of all, we do not have the ability to read the outflow at the riser insertion tube. You might think you can, but there was no way to do that. It would have taken longer to design the riser insertion tube if you wanted to attempt to do some sort of a flow rate measurement.

What they do have from the riser insertion tube is they have a way of decanting. Once the oil and gas and water mix reaches the surface on the Enterprise, they can decant. And that's how they were getting the estimate of the thousand-gallons --- or, thousand barrels, excuse me --- estimate of what they've retrieved thus far. And as they get more fidelity on that, how much they get out of the riser insertion tube, they will share that with you. BP will share that with you.

What we also have going on is we have the Minerals and Management Service, the Coast Guard and other federal agencies working on a couple different things. Certainly we want to get fidelity on what we think the estimate of oil is. When you're in a response like this, you have to prepare and respond to a worst-case scenario. So we have been preparing and responding an upward-bound of what could potentially be approximately -- we said 5,000 barrels, but it could be 55,000 per day. That is if the well let go, the design engineers will tell you that it could be approximately 55,000 barrels per day.

We don't think we have that much, because we've got satellite imagery; we know what we're responding to. We know how much we're seeing on the surface; we can estimate that. So the upward-bound of worst-case could be approximately 55,000 barrels.

But what's more important is we are doing the analysis. We are working to do the analysis. A federal team is working to do the analysis now, based on the information that we can get from the video and from the ROV, to see if we can get more fidelity on the actual amount. And that's something that will be very important as we go down the road for the national resource damage assessment process and for other things.

Brad has posted a picture showing the relationship of the spill to the Loop Current.

Composite of the oil spill (white) and the Loop Current (blues and turquoise) (ThinkProgress )

The Admiral went on:

This is not an exact science. These are all estimates, because the oil and water mix, even as you deal with dispersants, you're trying to figure out what's the analysis of how much we have applied on the surface and subsurface, and what's the estimate of the efficacy of that. There's a thing called the fate of the oil. And they are doing an analysis to figure out how much do we think we've really been dealing with since the start of this response? So both of those things -- the estimate of the out-flow, based on the video analysis, and then also the efficacy of the response.

And a subsequent clarification:

We were comfortable with the estimate that was given, the 5,000 barrel per day estimate. It's only an estimate. I was comfortable with working from that. Did I think it was exact? No. I've never trusted that. I've never personally trusted that as an exact number. We are responding daily to what we see and what we are experiencing in the cleanup. And it is a very, very good cleanup thus far. I think we're having good success thus far. . . . . the reason we've taken it as seriously as we have and the reason we have 20,000 people and all the response equipment in place is because since day one, we have always prepared for a worst-case. That it could be 55,000 barrels per day, which is an extraordinary amount which would have tremendous impact.

Leslie Berliant of SolveClimate was concerned about the pre-approval of the dispersant and the risk it might bring to coral reefs. (The topic had previously been addressed at that blog).

In her answer, the Admiral noted the passion that the civil servants working on this bring to their work.

We have a unit called the environmental unit, and if you could listen to them and see how many hours they've worked at this and how much they've really debated and discussed how important it was to make sure all of the sampling protocols and everything was in place, to ensure they capture every element of this threshold. I cannot emphasize enough that people did not proceed into this very lightly.

(This is something I have noted a number of times, many folk who comment do not understand how passionate about the environment many state and federal officials are, and how there is indeed a considerable scrutiny by many qualified folk of the efforts, and the questions do get aired and debated).

The Admiral also talked on the need to co-ordinate all the different efforts that are now taking place in the Gulf, across parish, state, and federal levels and with the great variety of state agencies. The Unified Command site notes:

• Personnel were quickly deployed and more than 20,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

• More than 950 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

• More than 1.36 million feet of containment boom and 480,000 feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 350,000 feet of containment boom and 800,000 feet of sorbent boom are available.

• Approximately 7.6 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.

• Approximately 640,000 gallons of total dispersant have been deployed—590,000 on the surface and 53,000 subsea. More than 300,000 gallons are available.

17 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines, including: Dauphin Island, Ala., Orange Beach, Ala., Theodore, Ala., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Port St. Joe, Fla., St. Marks, Fla., Amelia, La., Cocodrie, La., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., St. Mary, La.; Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., and Pass Christian, Miss.

The area that is restricted has been increased:

The closed area now represents 45,728 square miles, which is slightly less than 19 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 81 percent of Gulf federal waters—or nearly 195,000 square miles—still available for fishing. Details can be found at

The newly closed area is more than 150 miles from the nearest port and primarily in deep water used by pelagic longline fisheries that target highly migratory species, such as tuna and swordfish. Coastal fisheries, such as grouper, snapper and shrimp, will not be affected by the expansion of the closed area.

By the way, this is an image of the expected path of the oil, to the extent it gets into the Loop Current, from today's Wall Street Journal:

New Nasa picture caught in the right light to make sheen more prominent. Taken yesterday.

The other day we were debating the flow rate estimate.

Take a look at that photo and think 145 gpm - 14 times an average green garden hose - put that mess on the surface with as much dispersant and can be mustered and originating from bottom of the gulf.

lets remember some simple geometry here, surface area does not equal volume.

Is the slick a half inch deep or two molecules thick??? That 3rd dimension is pretty important

I believe it was shelburn who posted a few weeks ago that he had seen essentially a one cup oil spill create a sheen over about a square mile in a lake.


I'm talking gut feel based on a fair amount of experience. That and some "envelope math".

Same gut feel that tells me a cup of oil poured onto the lake I live on would not spread a square mile.

A cup will cover a Sq ft with about a 10th of an inch of oil. Divide that by 27,878,400 Sq ft and you have a film of 3.5942 times 10 to the -9 inches or about 3.5 billionth's of an inch for a Sq mile.

In order to get a visible sheen, the oil layer needs to be at least half as thick as a wavelength of light (0.2-.35 microns in a vacuum; the index of refraction of oil implies the film can be a bit thinner than that; it has to be >.004 inch thick unless I slipped up). When you see those rainbow fringes, that means the oil is right around a thickness that is a multiple of a half-wave...exact details dodgy; involves constructive & destructive interference of reflected light; perhaps someone else wants to explain it better,

To see the "dark sheen" ( this is not a human looking at oil on pond) from orbit at a random, but favorable, declination from the sun at 438 miles distance ( , through the 438 miles of atmosphere, probably means a sheen of at least a micron. (,topic_id,type_id&entry_id(entry_topic_type)=705&topic_id(entry_topic_type)=1&type_id(entry_topic_type)=20 )

Over the estimated area of 10,000 square miles assuming a depth of only a micron, is about 640 gallons a square mile or 6.4 million gallons or about 152,000 barrels on the surface. This assumes there is NO oil stratified in water columns below the surface, which coming from −5,000 feet with added dispersants, if true, may be a documented miracle.

A 14 inch pipe will contain 205 garden hoses.

It will contain 58 garden hoses in it's circumference.

That's why I think 5000 bbls per day is a bit low.

The oil appears, or is said, to be coming mostly from the drill stem ( 7" ID?) . Though the pressure estimates range from 9,000 psi to 14,000 psi against a depth of 5,000 feet or something like 2,400 PSI. so the net psi of leak is some thing north of 6,000 psi through a 7" choke. Gas fraction % for this well at −5,000 feet is beyond my knowledge.

7 inch tubing will hold 51 garden hoses.

5 GPM from a garden hose is too slow.

I timed filled a bucket and got 10 GPM

A garden hose, depending on usage is at least 10 GPM.

In a 7 inch hose 510 GPM or 734,000 gal / day

(This amount assumes PSI is between 50-60)

I don't understand underwater PSIs etc... I'm just a gardener in Texas

Whenever I consider the flow rate I imagine what it would look like if the outflow I've seen came from the side of a tanker the size of the Exxon Valdez, and wonder at how long it would take to empty. That there's more than one leak speeds up the mental animation somewhat... maybe only a few days at most to empty altogether... (a mental animation guestimate) ... then I think, hang on! At those depths and pressures oil is compressed and must expand as it rises toward the surface, but, by how much? Is the expansion miniscule or significant?

The biggest worry seems to come from the fear of a total blowout from the well-head casing under the BOP - a runaway gusher that'd be nearly impossible to staunch short of a nuclear intervention. Or, just as likely, and eventually leading to the same effect, an abrasive corroding of the inside of the BOP, allowing an ever-increasing flow. Thinking about the extreme pressures within the field makes me fear what would happen if an entire field emptied itself all at once. Billions of barrels of oil released over a week or a few days would create a sea within a sea, where nothing could survive, burning it would become the only option... and what would remain would scar the planet for generations. If it doesn't happen someone should make a movie or write a novel with this nightmare as a central theme... I know it'd scare the shit out of me!

now thsi scenario will be impossible you don#t think that if we could we would have produce 1 oil reservoir in weeks instead of decades
that is because the reservoir is not a tanker but the oil is in the pores of the rock so there is the so called permeability that is nothing les as that the reservoir oposses to flow

I know oil is usually in porous rock, but is that always the case? I think I have heard that some oil pockets are pure liquid.

The exception that proves the rule:

In the Torch Light field near Basin WY a large number of years ago a drilling rig hit a cavern containing oil. Evidently they lost the entire drill string.

In an area where a good well is anything over 100 bpd they pumped right at 4,000 bpd for a year. That one well produced over 20% of the production out of over 200 wells.

Other than that I have never heard of a true pool of oil.

Then I gather the fact that they did not lose the drill string means Deepwater Horizon is into porous rock? How far into the oil layer did they penetrate?

Normally all the way through to see how thick it is.


there are not such things are pure liquid is ALWAYS in the porous rock

Could the sheen be the diesel fuel leaking from the sunken rig? I believe I saw somewhere on TOD that it had the capacity of 700,000 gallons.

WOW! I interpret this picture ( as follows:

The light colored sheen corresponds to the rising light oil and maltene fractions. At the furthest point of the plume (almost) it suddenly turns dark; why is that? I submit that it has taken that far for the asphaltenes to rise to the surface. I predict that if one samples the water and oil slick where the plume suddenly turns black it will be found that the asphaltenes have finally reached the surface.

Well as it gets farther away from the source, it further degrades, and that's going to leave behind the heavier fractions, no?

Ordinary crude oil is very black. 20% asphaltenes versus 100% asphaltenes makes little difference in the apparent blackness. I think the black streak is where the asphaltenes (which are the densest fraction, just slightly less dense than sea water) finally reach the surface; will be easily confirmed or denied by sampling.

Yes, but I think it turns a bit brown when it's mixed with water. When I clean the tar off of my feet that I get from stepping on it at So Cal beaches, the streaks are more brown than black. Following is an image from a slick above one of the sources of the same tar I've always had to wash off of my feet:

I see; so are you saying there is nothing unusual about the color of the oil that is washing up on Louisiana beaches? (It looks a lot like the oil from the CA seeps.) I saw the yellow-red slicks in various pictures and thought that to be unusual, but I have never seen an oil spill. Here are some possible reasons for the light colors of the oil:
1) oxidation;
2) emulsification of water droplets inside the oil;
3) the oil gloms onto floating debris.

Can anyone fill in facts here? If one takes this yellow or red scum, and heats it above the boiling point of water, what does it look like then? Is it black again? Has anyone tried that with a sample from a LA beach yet?

Local TV news picked some out of the water and smeared it a bit to show consistency and how it will coat. That particular sample retained a "rust" (could say orange-redish) color and was described as such.


Thanks Al...but it sounds like they did not make sure it was dry (as in, containing no emulsified water). My theory of sea floor fractionation implies that there are three fractions that if recombined would reconstitute the original crude oil, and this reddish oil is the middle cut. It appears to me that the black oil that is now coming ashore is the heaviest fraction, which contains most of the asphaltenes.

In an earlier post I suggested that MAYBE the asphaltenes rich fraction might go all the way to solid asphalt, but the news from today says no.

Is there an iron component to this sludge? Perhaps there is a mixture of clay components in the effluent as it comes out.

I was late commenting on the Tar Balls Found thread, maybe will miss this one too...

The reddish, orangeish, sometime other colours of oil spills after they have sloshed around for a while is due to emulsification of the oil into water and water into the oil.

Emulsification will happen naturally (some aromatics are slightly hydrophilic, along with some ocean chemicals) and/or with help from artificial "dispersants".
The mixing energy comes from waves and/or turbulence of other sorts, like, uh, say an oil well blowout.

pg 146 (unfortunately a bad copy) has "red" several places.

full set of papers on the "Physical Behavior of Oil in the Ocean":

Those links are dead!

I am aware how emulsification affects color of oil; that is why I have suggested that folks at the scene cook off the water before evaluating the color of the oil. If fractionation is occurring, there should be two distinctly different color & viscosity oil droplets (at least; maybe three).

WOW! I interpret this picture ( as follows:

The light colored sheen corresponds to the rising light oil and maltene fractions. At the furthest point of the plume (almost) it suddenly turns dark; why is that? I submit that it has taken that far for the asphaltenes to rise to the surface. I predict that if one samples the water and oil slick where the plume suddenly turns black it will be found that the asphaltenes have finally reached the surface.

Interesting. I noticed that dark area. I am not sure you can use the color in the image as an exact guide though - dark may not = black but different reflectance or some other property.

Have everyone seen the latest landfall picture. Sorry all, I did repeat from another thread, but I was afraid too many would miss it.

Oil Spill

We are in a new ballgame folks.

Would like to see a pull away video to see the extent. They have been predicting some land fall for several days.(Where are the otters?Just kidding)

"Once we get the corps permit, my expectation is that the Coast Guard is going to force BP -- they should force BP -- to do this," Jindal said.


In writing Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman sought to set a foundation so that what appeared politically impossible--freedom from overwhelming government--would eventually become politically inescapable.

Capitalism and Freedom - (Paperback)
By Milton Friedman


hmmm... is bobby NOW sayin'... i needs some of dat dar "overwhelming government"...

you know... they should force BP ... you know... the Coast Guard... you know... they should force BP -- to do this...

hey republican unregulated free market advocates... isn't MAKING BP PAY for this... kinda your spin... you know... impinging on FREEDOM and LIBERTY...

lower taxes... reduce size of government... stop these choking regulations...

oh... you meant reduce government spending SOMEWHERE ELSE... i get it now... makes perfect sense...

I just have two questions for you squidd. What was the MPG of your first car, and what is the MPG of your car now? I got 35 MPG in 1979 and I get 35 MPG today. Who is to blame for that one and if you say the car companies or oil companies, I think you are leaving out someone. Someone very close to you.

I've been getting 30 mpg more or less for the last 40 years. It ain't me that decided that my HP had to go from 49 to 116. Seems to me the improvements could have gone to efficiency instead of power, but Detroit/Tokyo/Munich decided to boost the power instead. In fairness, in response to the market. In unfairness: the market that their advertising helped create.

You know what happened, we were there. Lower HP models of cars sold poorly once the oil embargo ended, so the HP creep began. Go to a Honda dealer today and price 4 and 6 cylinder Accords. Though the V6's sticker for $2,000 more they regularly sell for about the same price. Just five years ago, Honda was getting the whole $2,000.

Unfortunately you're in the tiny majority. Pushing for low vehicle cost while adding crush-zones made all these little cars much larger as well.

On the plus side these engine efficiency improvements apply to much bigger engines as well -- the Camaro and Corvette do much, much better than older muscle cars.

On the minus side, it still take a lot of gas to move a 5,000 SUV even with better efficiency. It almost doesn't matter whether you get 30 or 40 miles per gallon if there are 2 other people getting 17 in their cars.

I have small cars because I prefer to spend the gas money on something else. Gotta say I still miss my old SUVs though.

before i answer your questions... my POINT was about political rhetoric about government regulations... and government involvement... government involvement in policies that would promote sustainable and efficient use of energy... but the same folks who argue about unregulated free market capitalism... the same unregulated free market capitalism that ships me a pair of underwear from 11,000 miles away... including the ship... the train.. and the trucks (which i'm sure get a heck of lot less than 35mpg) that get it to the local retailer... those folks are the first to scream about having the same ineffective overburdonsome government come in and clean up the mess....

NOW... to your NEW topic of MPG... today... i have a 24MPG vehicle... which i drive 3.8 miles to work... and everything i need to do... shopping... banks... social life is with in 5 miles from home... i combine driving trips... drive the speed limit... don't gun between lights... in other words... still use a lot less gas than folks with high mileage vehicles...

My counter question to YOU - how many miles a year do you drive? i'm well under 2500 MILES PER YEAR. 24/35=37%betterMPG. 2500X1.37=3425. Anything over 3425 MILES PER YEAR makes us equal users of automotive fuels.

Answer # 2 - 1979 - Jimmy Carter encouraged americans to turn down their thermostats... had solar panels installed on the white house... and made an address to the country about uncontrolled consumption... yes dorothy... MPG is only ONE small part of the equation... how much oil would we save as a society if our manufacturing base were within the continental borders? instead of 11,000 miles away... as pointed out above... then in 1985 ronald reagan announced the end of the oil crisis after north shore and prudhoe bay discoveries... and by 1995... speed limits had increased... everyone had bigger and badder and more pickups... SUV's... drove further to work... moved further into the suburbs...

so in 1979... i honestly can't remember... as i grow older and wiser... USE of energy IS top on my priorities... you piked one small piece off the pile and responded to something i wasn't even posting about...

have a great evening.

Are there two different kinds of oil coming ashore?

From New York Times story

>Scientists were divided about what the appearance of darker liquid oil in the marshes meant for the environment. Edward B. Overton, professor emeritus of environmental science at Louisiana State University and an expert on oil spills, said he was concerned that it could be more dangerous to vegetation than the less- toxic, reddish-colored oil, which has emulsified.

Is this an indication of fractionation at depth, as I have suggested?

Not an oil guy, but I imagine there are multiple mixtures of hydrocarbons swirling around and some dissipate, and some do not. When I look at an oil frac tower there are many levels, each representing a different distillate or product. I imagine the Gulf is acting like a multi-level frac tower to some degree.

This is not good, another picture.

Oil SPill2

It is normal to separate oil in a refinery, by distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, etc. Cracking is not separation, it is a chemical reaction. But crude oil as it comes out of the ground is a miscible solution, and one does not normally see fractionation. I think we are clearly seeing fractionation in this case. Other than gas/oil separation, I don't think that has been seen before. To see my original post laying out my theory, go to:


I thought fractional distillation was taking a mixture and using heat to separate components by drawing off the distillates at different temperatures (levels). I understood cracking to be a different process, although it would not surprise me if the oil folks do it at the same time in the same tower as the fractionation.

In the present case, one reason to prove that seabed fractionation is occurring is to head off blame-shifting by BP. They have already claimed that tar balls coming up in the FL Keys are not from Deepwater Horizon...I assume this is based on those not matching the expected chromatographic signature of the crude from the well...but fractionation explains this!

The guy quoted in the NYTimes says "emulsification", not fractionation (though there will be some of that by evaporation of lighter compounds and solution of some aromatics).

(emphasis added)

Scientists were divided about what the appearance of darker liquid oil in the marshes meant for the environment. Edward B. Overton, professor emeritus of environmental science at Louisiana State University and an expert on oil spills, said he was concerned that it could be more dangerous to vegetation than the less toxic, reddish-colored oil, which has emulsified.

But Charlie Henry, scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it was possible that the darker oil was the result of the heat of the sun breaking apart oil that had already emulsified, separating some of the thinner, darker oil out. If so, it was not likely to be as toxic as fresh oil would be, he said.

Some more photos:

Not MSM material

Those really are some sad pics.

The GOM is becoming Nigeria, USA

More pics from other-people's oily backyards:

"Venice, Louisiana -- Local fishermen hired to work on BP's uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don't need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.

Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth. ...more..."

$10/hr should pay for some cold tablets or cough medicine - what is the matter with these folks?

As is always true in these cases (Chernobyl included) it will likely be hard to prove ill effects - there will be too little data and many inconclusive findings.

The author of the article in the Huffington Post states at the end " We need independent medical researchers to monitor health impacts."


Either these workers need basic protection gear or they don't. They sure as hell don't need monitoring if her research has convinced her workers can die from this type of exposure. There is no middle ground here.

I sincerely hope these workers consider either buying their own gear or simply quitting until they have 100% certainty of the risks involved. "Hoping" they will be okay is not an option.

It would seem that there is enough data already from previous clean up efforts to have established worker protection protocols. Can anyone speak with authority on that subject?

Apparently you live off-planet. People here take chances with their health for money every day.

Sometimes they die, in mines, on drilling rigs, on the freeway.

There is no 100% safety. Not by a long shot.

The kids gotta eat.

These are optional jobs and there are plenty of food shelfs to feed the kids.

My point is two-fold.

1. People can be their own worst enemies and then blame someone else for their own stupidity.

2. The charge that workers are getting or going to be ill from the clean up effort have yet to be proved. I'm still hoping to hear from an expert in the field who can speak with authority on oil clean up safety protocols.

These people have already been screwed by BP once, you seem to imply a second screwing by BP is okay? If your post was sarcasm and I missed it, I apologize.

Proirity X,

He is about half and half sarcastic and serious.If you don't get it, perhaps it is because you have never been poor or working class.Tens of millions of people do dangerous , nasty, sickening work every day.

A lot of them live in the US. And no there are NOT lots of food shelves for the kids-welfare and charity aren't so readily available as you seem to think.

Even when charity IS available, self respecting working people will stick on a dangerous backbreaking job rather than give up thier dignity.

This little concept of dignity and self respect is one key reason why lots of relatively hard up working people are conservatives-they believe in looking after themselves so long as it is possible to do so, and have nothing but contempt those who do otherwise.

Of course for those who have no self respect, and are therefore willing to game the system, it is possible to collect substantial benefits and actually live fairly well-by combining the benefits with a little or a lot of under the table work for cash.I personally know several families and individuals who have been living this way for many years.

I also know several families and individuals who really do need the assistance they get, and am not opposed to thier getting it.They are NOT living well-the benefits are not that generous.They have next to nothing in the line of a luxury except plenty of time to watch tv.

Incidentally the average social worker has her head up her butt when it comes to this sort of thing.The street wise clients play them like pinball machines.


I grew up with a shovel in one hand and a hammer in the other. I'm no stranger to callouses or hunger. I know what the inside of a jail looks like and also a psych ward (and I did not have the key for either;)

But that's not the point. I'm not going to argue about the social welfare system and the availability of SNAP and food shelves. All your points are valid (They most always are.). What is at question is the right for a parent (or anyone) to put their health at risk when it is not required. But that is ONLY a question I'm asking in the context of the oil spill cleanup.

An article was published in the Huffington Post that said long term illness and death could result from cleaning up oil without proper protection. This is either true or false in how this cleanup is being handled. I'm still waiting for confirmation from someone who is an expert in oil spill cleanup.

But, and this is my big problem, if it is a health risk, then these people are doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Getting sick or dying because of pride IS stupid. It may be a fact of life, but it still is stupid. And if BP is responsible for creating this situation they should be held accountable.

My buddy Kris works in the oil service industry. He cleans crude tanks. He wears protective equipment, probably akin to what a safety conscious car painter might wear. He generally gets covered with crude that breaches his coveralls and he takes off his mask whenever he can. He has been so exposed for 8 years and he has no obvious ill effects. He even claims it keep his skin looking young.

I heard once from some dude on the internet who has a buddy who works in the oil service industry. His buddy cleans crude tanks. He wears protective equipment, probably akin to what a safety conscious car painter might wear. He generally gets covered with crude that breaches his coveralls and he takes off his mask whenever he can. He has been so exposed for 8 years and he has no obvious ill effects. He even claims it keep his skin looking young.

So, see kids, it's perfectly safe. Hell it probably even has health benefits! Anyone who says otherwise is a flaming liberal socialist. Nothing more to see here, move along.

You want to talk to Kris? It can be arranged. He is actually a nice guy. You on the other hand, want to deny that direct contact with this mess will not cause instant death. What do you think Vaseline is made of? I once saw Wild Bill Roberts drink 3 ounces of unleaded gasoline in 5th period AG class for $75. That was over 25 years ago and he is fine. Saw him earlier this year. I have his phone number too.
I live in the path of the spill and I might be exposed to it, but this has been happening my whole life. If you are older than 30 you probably have too. I remember being exposed to DDT, Chlordane, dioxin, Dursban, psychedelics, acids, bases, chlorine gas, lipids, depleted uranium, tobacco, STD's, enemy soldiers, hexavalent chromium, VOC's out the ying yang, asbestos, x-rays, gamma rays, cosmic rays and crazy women and that is just what I recall.
It is the lower forms of life that I worry about and the food chain. That is where DDT became a problem. It saved many human lives by controlling malaria and in agricultural use, but it almost wiped out the American Bald Eagle. The economy is also being destroyed, especially in the tourist and fishing industries. The fishing guys are screwed, but some of the tourist guys need the word about the real risks to get out.
Make no mistake though, I could literally get in the Octagon with the guys responsible for this mess and I would do my best to inflict serious, but non-lethal injury.

I'm sure Kris is a fine fellow. No, I haven't alleged any insta-death, either. I'm just pointing out that your post is anecdotal evidence at best. And very weak on the evidence.

Look if these folks cleaning up the spill say that their eyes burn. It's probably from exposure. Probably isn't fatal. Probably doesn't promote strong bones and a healthy cardiovascular system, either.

BP should get them some eff-ing charcoal filter (or other better filter) masks, eye-drops, etc.

They should take it upon themselves to get their masks, and sue BP for reimbursements, which BP should gladly pay. Certainly sounds reasonable to me.

Give Kris my regards, and try not to drink too much gasoline.

Apparently you live off-planet.

It's not off-planet at all - in fact, it's right on the money. We will set aside the fact that without the oil blow-out there would be no need for a beach contamination program. Without the blow-out these people would be catching shrimp, or doing whatever else they were doing prior to the incident. So that is a non sequitur, indeed

Further - the risk management point made is completely valid. This is not a situation such as arose with asbestos workers, and 20 years after people started falling over with mesothelioma and much else. The OHS implications of working in this environment are very well known, and the punters should be provided with all the necessary protective equipment. Full stop.

"The kids gotta eat" just doesn't cut it any more, romantic and USA-ish it might sound - regulation has made it vital that workers are protected from short and long term risks.

It really does sound like it is turning into the Nigerian Delta region. They have been putting up with this for years.

Nigeria is our 4th biggest source of oil imports. The toxic waste from drilling and/refining, oily water, plants, animals and land, no "night" from gas flaring, the "mysterious" illnesses... no MSM coverage there.

The Oily Consumers (us), oil companies and Nigerian government are all a comfortably safe distance from the Delta so we all just ignore it, call the local rebels "terrorists" and carry on.

Two things leap out at me:

We don't think we have that much, because we've got satellite imagery; we know what we're responding to. We know how much we're seeing on the surface; we can estimate that. So the upward-bound of worst-case could be approximately 55,000 barrels.

No mention of what they can't see, not a word about the undersea plumes discovered by the Pelican. Why not? At least tell us it was a false alarm or that further investigation into this is needed. To me the silence is deafening!

The newly closed area is more than 150 miles from the nearest port and primarily in deep water used by pelagic longline fisheries that target highly migratory species, such as tuna and swordfish. Coastal fisheries, such as grouper, snapper and shrimp, will not be affected by the expansion of the closed area.

Again, why are they closing deep water fisheries unless there is a possibility of contamination in deep water. This comment about the coastal fisheries not being affected sounds like they are using this as a diversion from the true magnitude of this disaster which may be unfolding deep underwater.

I posted a link to this paper yesterday:
If that is happens in a 350 ft column of sea water I'd really like to know what is happening when the depth is 5,000 ft?

Yeah, sleep tight folks all is well! Nothing to see here just move along!
This all sounds like a lot of spin and damage control to me, I'm not buying it!

Believe in whatever conspiracy you want, but this is your military command telling you, not BP. I for one believe that they are doing all they can and presenting all information they have that isn't wild speculation. That they aren't addressing everything just tells me they either believe it has been addressed thoroughly enough or they don't have confidence in the information on hand to make any estimates or forward activity yet to address it.

I'm done with this. I'll continue to read the very interesting and useful information presented here, but I'm no longer going to speak to any of these conspiracy claims that keep popping up.

We all know this is a disaster but here is an example of how politicians and the press contribute to hurting the economy. Ben Nelson, instead of shouting that his state is "still open for tourist business" picks up on the tarballs before they are shown not to come from the spill. Now he has to admit that, guess what, when you look at our "pristine " beaches they aren't pristine and that tar balls come from many sources. You can all see the potential problem with this. He personally is doing more damage to Florida than BP. Last year the Florida tourist industry received funds from the state to promote tourism which has been down significantly due to the economy and hurricanes. They have wanted more money but of course the state is hurting. Well they got a grant from BP to promote it and here he is destroying it.
On the positive side, perhaps folks will start to appreciate that the miles of beaches they walk or never see often do have oil, carcasses and such that are not the fault of BP.
In the early 80's I was involved in getting a base line environmental study prior to a company doing operations in a area containing some of the greatest reefs in the world. People were worried about the damage that could be done by petroleum E and P. It was quite an eye opener. The amount of damage done by fishing boats and the amount of tar balls shocked many. Of course they were quick to blame the oil on production in the region but surprise, surprise it was from ships and the oil seeps that were nearby. Some other baseline studies in the onshore area of others countries were also eye-openers to many who had thought the environment had been unaffected prior to petroleum explorations.
This spill will do plenty of damage, cost a lot, and expose some holes in internal controls and response procedures. It will also be a great learning experience.
TOD prides itself on presenting a more educated/reasoned form of dialogue regarding energy issues. I hope more folks like Shelburn/Rockman et al continue to try to give reasoned posts.

In the late 1950's in Southern California it was pretty routine when you left the beach to have to scrape the oil/tar off of your feet before mom would let you get in the car. Was it from passing ships or natural seep? I really don't know. But it sure wasn't from oil drilling.

Can anyone substantiate the "news item" that seepage in Santa Barbara is actually down since they started drilling?

I don't want to shill for the oil companies but I do think that the fear mongering and conspiracy theorizing, when shown to be wrong, has a tendency to be used by drilling advocates to "prove" there is nothing to worry about and ultimately make matters worse for the environment.

There are seeps throughout the entire region. Here's a link to a big ass image, so you have to scroll to the bottom of it to see two shoreline seeps in Carpenteria, which are among several in the immediate vicinity.

Following is a link to maps, info, and images of the Coal Oil Point seep field which is several miles north of the above imaging:

The La Brea Tar Pits is one of the most famous land based seeps in the world, and is a bit over 100 miles south of the above areas.

Large underwater asphalt volcanoes have also been found in the area. Locating and mapping the natural offshore seeps is a relatively new and ongoing project. Among some of the studies is determining the chemical signatures of the seeps so that petroleum from the natural seeps can be differentiated from possible spills from the local petroleum operations.

In re CA tar seeps:

I assume these are slow crude oil seeps, but get the tar/asphalt consistency because the light stuff evaporates?

I recall reading about entire communities based on oil-eating bacteria on the floor of the GOM. Some environmentalists are concerned about extinctions because of harvesting the oil.

All the land based seeps have gas and water coming out with it, and yes, it's at first quite thin. It readily sticks to your feet, so it's thin enough to do that. Following is an intertidal formation of asphalt among an area of seeps:

thanks for all the links to CA seeps...pretty educational



How about about a real volume per time per area comparison between these well documented California seeps and what is now going down in the Gulf of Mexico. Ten seeps doing a hundred barrels a day each spread up and down fifty miles of coast wouldn't have much comparitive value for the current Gulf inundation--so at least let us know just how many seeps are releasing how much oil a day over how big an area so we can judge how the two compare.

Speaking of comparisons, right now I'm spending just about all my time at a refinery turnaround where the protective gear workers are required to wear for the smallest exposure can be excessive--it doesn't sound like the Gulf cleanup workers on the front line are at all encumbered by the same concern for their well being.

Believe in whatever conspiracy you want, but this is your military command telling you, not BP. I for one believe that they are doing all they can and presenting all information they have that isn't wild speculation.

Any chance you could address my concerns based on the paper I linked to or perhaps you don't think it has any bearing whatsoever on the current spill? If that is the case would you care to expound on why that might be so?

As for this being " My Military Command, telling me not BP, that's really rich!

What Kool-aid have you been drinking over the last few years?

I want real answers and I don't think I'm getting them...

You are getting spin......very expensive spin.

i don't believe in any conspiracy and do believe that BP are doing their best but it is standard practise to downplay any incident.

As for "this is your military command telling you" well the military have never been known to misunderestimate have they? How about:
Your chances of being sent to a combat zone are slim. Just who is doing the fighting then?

You are much more likely to get murdered in your home town than you are to get killed or wounded in combat. Why are there so many military cemetaries?

You are absolutely guaranteed to get the job/training listed on your enlistment contract. How come there are so many unemplyed ex-military with problems?

Let me add a bit of extra rationality to the skepticism about the military. From the days of some ancient Chinese general it has been well known military doctrine that deception is a powerful tactic in war. Deception often wins the battle in war games conducted by our military. Military people believe in deception. Sometimes they get confused about who the enemy is.

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

i don't believe in any conspiracy and do believe that BP are doing their best but it is standard practise to downplay any incident.

Actually I don't think the cone of silence is necessarily due to an organized conspiracy or that BP isn't doing everything in its power to stop the spill, that would be contrary to their self interest.

I think that that since most of what is happening is about controlling and stopping the oil that is being spilled into the Gulf at the source it is being handled by engineers and technical personnel, which is as it should be.

However none of these people are qualified to assess environmental impact of a ten mile long three mile wide undersea plume of oil, (which as has already been reported by the media). I want to know that people who are qualified to do that are in position now and have the necessary funding to look into that.

The fact that I'm hearing no mention whatsoever about this facet of the spill continues to irk me. I want someone to tell me that this is either happening or that there is a sound scientific reason why it is not important.

BTW "My Military Command" is the last group of people I would trust to tell me about any environmental impacts of the procedures being implemented. It's simply not the kind of thing that is on their radar. That is not not part of their logistical thinking.

I want oceanographers and marine biologist out there right now doing an in depth (no pun intended) assessment!

Well said. And let us reflect on the fact that BP and all the other industry people involved are doing their best.

This is it, folks, the best that they can do.

NOAA addressed plume again in today's briefing. Should be up soon on Coast Guard site if not already

Hi FMaygar,

I share your concerns,but as a PRACTICAL matter, if you were in the shoes of whoever is OBama's top man or woman on this job( and you can bet there is one, but just who that is might be questionable- there could even be a committee type deal)how would you react?

Several things seem obvious to me.

First of all, the people on the scene are very busy, FRANTICALLY busy even;they are doing SOMETHING, even if it is wrong.

Second, they are all ,figuratively speaking, peeing thier pants, for fear that they will not succeed in plugging the leak quickly;success might not come until the relief wells are finished.

Third, they are praying for luck.

Fourth, if they don't get lucky, the people in charge, perhaps even OBama himself, will have to face the public before too long and admit the truth.

If they keep thier mouths as tightly shut as possible, for as long as possible, the SECONDARY but still very real immediate consequences will be minimized, such as hotel reservations being canceled.

If they keep thier mouths shut and get lucky, everybody looks less like a fool, from the Prez on down, if the leak is stopped soon..

What I'm saying is that any practical and sensible politician will opt for the say as little as possible approach until it becomes obvious this approach will no longer work.

If the spill is corrected, and the damages are a lot less than most of us fear they will be, the plan will be to get back to drilling and collecting the money from the leases as fast as possible, and avoiding the purchase of as much imported oil as possible-bau, yes no doubt about it.

But there is no doubt that the administration is VERY CONCERNED about the economy and the balance of payments situation.

If bau fails to proceed normally, OBama is out of work after the next election.

Remember Clinton and "It's the economy , Stupid?".

There is a big possible down side to saying more than absolutely necessary right now;there is no upside benefit adequate to justify the downside risk from a politician's pov.

Unless maybe he is out of office , and can make hay out of the lack of public info, and/Or is located in a safe district well away from the Gulf.

Bottom line:we won't get much more info than we are getting now,until the issue is decided one way or another.

OFM, I agree with most of what you are saying. I still think that there should be scientists out in the Gulf making an assessment of the situation. I doubt if the results even if they were made public would have much impact on what the average person thinks of this whole affair. It would mostly be beyond their level of comprehension and interest.

I'm with you Fred. There are plenty of instances where the PTB used the mushroom approach.

The book Killing Our Own and other books such as Deadly Deceit document the ways that the cover-ups have been implemented through the national security pseudo-science establishment. When the evidence became too incontrovertible--when the health of the atomic veterans, from the people living downwind of the Nevada Test Site and in the Marshall Islands, from the people living near many of the atomic reactors and waste dumps and nuclear facilities became too obviously damaged to ignore--then the fallback positions were taken. This new awareness had to be given some novocaine. It's kind of like anaesthesia without surgery. That's the response that we get from the media managers and the military planners when there is public awareness. We're told that there's a crisis in our country because the people don't trust the government anymore and that we need to be concerned because people are too skeptical--they don't trust what they hear from Congress, they don't trust what they hear from the executive branch of the US government. But rather than there being not enough trust, there is still too much trust. As people have found who grew up downwind of mushroom clouds believing what they were told, their trust was not only misplaced but very deadly. . . .

Keep stirring the pot, buddy!

I absolutely agree with you on this point-there should be properly trained people out there taking measurements and taking samples.

In the abscence of an offocially sanctioned federal effort effort,hopefully some university or environmental organization will be able to mount some sort of down and dirty survey, even if it consists of no more than collecting as many water samples over as wide an area as possible.

Of course even this will run into serious money-I suppose being out in the open waters with a boat big and fast enough to collect samples will cost at least five hundered dollars per day just to run a single boat volunteered rent free by it's owner , plus the sampling supplies.i suppose at least a couple of dozen boats would be needed as a bare minimum effort.

But otoh,just THINK what a plaintiffs lawyer might be willing to do to put his hands on such properly documented samples.....

Just a few things.

1. BP is certainly doing all they can. They want to cap this baby up and get back to drilling a new well ASAP. No one should believe anything else about that.
2. BP is not conveying all the info they have. Their legal dept. would not allow that. They would be providing evidence. In fact, you can bet they are reviewing everything before they make it permanent. Not to say they are shredding documents; they are not allowing documents to be created is more what is going on.
3. BP PLC is the lease holder. They are not BP North American; they are not BP Products; they are not BP International, and they are NOT a parent company. They are a limited liabiility company created for just this unanticipated consequence. If profitable, the profits go to whatever the real BP is. If the lease cannot be retrieved, they will do all they can with the asset value of the field, and not much more. They are there for one reason - to make money. Count on it. If the CFO says pull the plug, they will be in bankruptcy, and the lease will be about the only asset that gets picked up to pay the costs of ongoing remediation.
4. There are no conspiracies. Just greedy capitalists doing what they do.


Not a lawyer (THANK GOD !) but there is a strategy called "piercing the corporate veil" that gets to the parent company.

Jury trial in Orleans (or Plaquemines) Parish on that issue may have a predictable result.


GregTX -

I think you are but half correct. I would fully agree that that BP and the other parties involved are doing all they can to stop the release. The people on the front lines are no doubt heroically busting hump 24/7 to get this under control. However, it appears to me that both the Obama administration and BP have been less than forthright regarding what is and is not known about the probably size of the release. As discussed in several places in the various TOD posts over the last several days, the probably size of the release is looking more and more to be 'unwanted information' for both the government and for BP.

The last thing both the government and BP want is for a direct comparison to be made with Exxon Valdez, as that will have a direct bearing on the size of the compensation expected. Thus, if the probable size of the total release is not known, that comparison is not as easy to make. Also keep in mind that this disaster is quite an embarrassment to the Obama administration due to the fact that they just recently gave their blessing offshore oil exploration.

I would not characterize this behavior as a conspiracy, but rather a confluence of similar interests among the government and BP. These interests would like to keep the estimated size of the release as small as possible within the bounds of credibility. And that's where the problem comes in: what is a credible estimate and who determines that?

I almost find this analogous to the situation during the mid-years of the Vietnam War. Official estimates of the size of the North Vietnamese forces were consistently adjusted downward to satisfy a political domestic agenda, despite the fact that the people in the field knew them to be self-serving fiction. I'm not claiming the exact same thing is going on here, but the political pressure (for Uncle Sam) and the economic pressure (for BP) point in the direction of keeping the estimated size of the release as small as they can get away with.

I also wish that there was more information posted on the size of the leak, at least maybe some calcs to back up the estimations.

on the other hand, if the Coast Guard came out tomorrow with a ream of calcs that showed the leak to be 11,273.578 bbls/day (or however many sig figs you want), wouldn't all these folks that have "calculated" leaks orders of magnitude higher, just call BS and tell them they were liars anyways. Given that, the argument that it doesn't really matter holds true.

As long as the engineers busting their humps 24/7 are fairly sure of the leak rate, and I sincercely believe they are, then I am okay with what is being reported.

I know for a fact that no engineer would ever sign off on a design to capture oil that would overwhelm and potentially endanger any of the ships on the surface. So that the Enterprise only has capacity to process 15,000 bbls/day probably means that everyone working solutions believes that the leak is comfortably less than 15,000 bbls/day. I mean come on, blowing up the relief vessels is not exactly high on the To-Do list of the folks working this mitigation.


Slatz -

I hear what you're saying. If the basis for the estimated size of the release were made public and if that looked reasonable according to a consensus of experts, then that would be good enough for me.

However, as to the capacity of the Enterprise to only process 15,000 bbl/day, I'm not sure that alone is proof that the leak is less than that amount because, i) the riser insertion tube is admittedly only capturing a fraction of the original plume flow rate, ii) there are leaks elsewhere, and iii) the outlet of the line from the insertion tube up to the oil/water/gas handling facilities is (if I understand correctly) throttled back to keep the upward flow from moving too fast and possibly getting out of control and/or forming methane hydrate blockages. (It's like if I am in a leaky row boat and I have a hand bailing pump that can only pump 1 gallon per minute. The fact that my pump can only handle one gallon per minute in no way constitutes proof that my leak must be less than 1 gallon per minute.)

While it's an almost trivial matter to determine how much oil has been captured (just look at the oil level in the receiving vessel), it is far less straightforward to determine how much oil is not being captured and is still escaping as a rising plume. So the fact that they're accurately measuring the amount of oil captured is no great analytical feat.

Let us also keep in mind that the BP engineers aren't 'reporting' any current flow rates, but rather are neither agreeing or disagreeing with the almost month-old original estimate of 5,000 bbl/day. It is simply a question that BP is not addressing.

Let's not forget that the orginal capture dome was advertised to collect 85% of the flow.

So at some point in time, there were engineers with intimate knowledge of the situation that felt that a drillship capable of processing 15,000 bpd was okay for 85% of the flow.

To further use your analogy about the bailing pump. If you knew that you might blow up your ship if the bailing pump accidently went over 1 gpm, you might double check to make sure that the leak was less than 1 gpm.

btw...thanks for the civil discourse. I appreciate all these alternative viewpoints if they are layed out in a reasoned manner.


Let's not forget that the orginal capture dome was advertised to collect 85% of the flow.

So at some point in time, there were engineers with intimate knowledge of the situation that felt that a drillship capable of processing 15,000 bpd was okay for 85% of the flow.

But, that isn't how things work. They probably hace an estimate for the leak at something like 5000, but maybe off by a factor nof three. So maybe its 1667, maybe its 15000. You can't take that cacacity as evidence of a known rate.

BP management said "One drill ship is cheaper than two or three. *IF* you manage to collect a significant percentage of the oil, and 15,000 b/day is too small, we will bring another ship or two in. Just dump the excess oil into the ocean until the second (or third) ship arrives".

I see ZERO reason to think that the processing capacity of the on-site ship had any significant correlation with the size of the pollution.


can you link me to the quote where BP management said that "One drill ship is cheaper than two or three".

You see zero reason to think what I think, and my engineering mind sees every reason to think what I think. We agree to disagree, as neither of us seems to have access to the true facts.

The discourse really gets dragged down when we just make stuff up though.


BP Management, from no less

[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.


I read it twice and still missed the part where BP management stated that one drill ship was cheaper than two or three.

The discourse really gets dragged down when we just make stuff up.


It is a clear indication of the corporate culture of BP management. Profits before people or anything else.

At BP, engineers do not make decisions, management does.

As a CNN producer told me, several times the lower level engineers push for something, and then management vetoes it (example: Woods Hole measuring leak volume with their specialty equipment).

So yes, it would be completely and quite in character for BP management to lease only one ship when two or three would be required in order to save money.

Like drilling only two relief wells when four would likely shut the leak down faster.


BTW, What is true of BP is not true of most other oil companies. After all, BP got 97% of the willful safety violations, that leaves just 3% for the rest of the industry. Not too bad for everyone not BP.

Alan, I get it. You hate BP and you seem to have lots of reasons for it.

So why make up stuff?

State your case, link to the facts, and then leave it alone for people to agree or disagree.

You and I disagree on the leak amount and our thoughts on why we each have a position.

We have each stated our case. If others choose to believe or disbelieve each of our points, it is up to them.

Three weeks ago you were asking why they are drilling only one relief well, now they are actively drilling two and you are asking why it is not four. If they were drilling four would you be asking why not eight?


It is useful to periodically remind new readers of the basic corporate culture of BP management. Sorry if it bothers you to see BP admitting, in open court, to criminal activity. Very few corporations are convicted of felonies.

And I developed a rough sense of risks of delays in drilling (plus BPs own estimated vs. actual days drilling on this specific well) over time. These delays indicated, via statistical risk analysis assuming each well is independent, that four or five wells would each reduce the average time to completion for the first well to complete. The effect of more wells begins to diminish rapidly as the numbers increase. Four is the minimum, but the case for five is almost as strong. However, in a spirit of moderation and reasonableness, I only called for four RWs.

I did assume a week to ten days delay between spudding each well sequentially.

AFAIK, it is a month later and relief well #2 has not yet spudded. This delay appears to be BP *NOT* moving heaven and earth, COST NO OBJECT/OPEN CHECKBOOK, to get RW #2 going.

I see nothing wrong is assessing the corporate culture and past history of a corporation and using that to assess future actions.

Google's corporate culture allows me to predict their likely reaction to a variety of events, as a contra example to BP.


Re corporate culture:

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ, D-N.J.: Mr. McKay, we're sitting in the very same hearing room where the hearings were held to investigate the sinking of the Titanic.

But what I see is a company not prepared to address a worst-case scenario, but a company that is flailing around, trying whatever they think of next to try to deal with the worst-case scenario that you all had the ability to do.

LAMAR MCKAY: We're drilling two relief wells. Two, we're working on the subsea on the blowout preventers. We're fighting it aggressively offshore. We are using dispersant in situ burn and skimming. We're protecting the shorelines with boom. We are prepared to clean up and deal with any -- anything that gets to shore. And we're prepared to -- to -- to deal with the economic impacts.

TOM BEARDEN: Senator Ron Wyden noted that the Deepwater Horizon spill is only the latest in a series of catastrophes at BP facilities.

McKay said the firm has a good record and assured the Oregon Democrat that a new management philosophy was in place.

LAMAR MCKAY: We have a tremendous track record of -- of compliance. It's measured by the MMS. And I -- what I -- what I'm telling you is, I have not been aware of or see deficiencies in the Gulf of Mexico systems.

SEN. RON WYDEN, D-Ore.: And I'm still not clear what changes have been made after Tony Hayward said there were going to be changes made.

LAMAR MCKAY: Well, it gets down to the agenda and the culture of the company. And -- and...

SEN. RON WYDEN: It sure does. And the culture of this company is that there's been one accident after another.

LAMAR MCKAY: The agenda has been clear. I believe we've progressed a long way. We're not finished. We'll never be finished.

What doesn't come across in this written transcript and what struck me as I was watching it, was the the arrogant tone of Lamar Mckay as he was saying all this especially when he admitted during the congressional hearings being televised live to the entire world, that yes, BP had indeed been convicted of a Felony. There was not a smidgen of shame or contrition in his voice. So what is there not to hate about these people?!

Slatz/Alan -- Don't want to interrupt your debate...all opinions are welcomed as usual. But how many relief wells? Here's an answer from someone who makes such decisions daily: capital exposure vs. risk. It doesn't make a difference on most levels be it a question of how many RW's to drill or to drill an exploratory well. Above all else there is no right answer IMHO: it's a matter of choices. And accepting with the consequences if you're wrong. Long ago a young geologist asked me how bad I felt about the dry hole I just drilled. Told him I wasn't happy but, no, I didn't feel bad for the investor: I had clearly showed the possible reasons why it could fail as well as how profitable it would be if it worked. The effort failed for exactly one of the possibilities I identified. Now if it had failed for some cause I had missed then I would have felt very bad.

My choice if I were in charge: 3 RW's. Why? Above all else this is not your typical RW scenario. RW have almost always been drilled to hit flow in uncased holes. With a lot of effort and time we can hit that 10" target miles away. But this isn't the case. When they intersect the well bore they'll have to mill through the steel casing. This will be neither easy nor safe. But even more important, there is some uncertainty where the flow is coming up: inside the production csg or up the annulus between the casing and the original well bore. Remember the basic fact: in either case they are intentionally drilling into a dynamic blow out. They have to immediately prevent the flow from coming up the RW the very second they make the intersect. And raising the mud weight much higher than needed to stop the flow is not an option either: if MW is too high they'll could fracture the rocks and potentially stick the drill pipe of the RW. This could completely destroy the potential utility of this RE. Worst case scenario: the flow comes up the RW drill pipe and now they have a potential blow out to control on that rig. A secondary risk: even thought they have the drilling record of the original hole to go by drilling these wells is far from certain. We could see a report this afternoon that drill pipe became stuck on the first RW and it has to be sidetracked and we just lost 3 weeks of effort. Not a Black Swan event by any stretch of the imagination.

So why 3 and not 4 RW's. I would go 3 so I could cover my butt should I lose one and have long delays on a second. Why not 4? Because these wells will cost around $100 million or more and I don't want to spend the extra money. My job as a corporate decision maker is to never, ever spend as much money as possible to get a job done. It to do my job in a cost effective manner. Of course, in the BP situation there's the obvious huge PR problem as well as all the gov't oversight/scrutiny to come. IMHO the second RW is a prudent choice. The third RW is purely to cover my butt.

Could I go with 1 RW? Sure but I could well be risking my job/career so I wouldn't. I could physically get 4 or 5 RW's going if I were Alan. But it's not Alan's's my company's money so I have to take that into consideration. It wouldn't be question of $'s vs. the environment for me. It would be a question of being prudent on both sides of the fence. Like I said earlier I don't consider there to be right or wrong number of relief wells. It a choice to be made by someone with the control. I make such choices all the time: about money, about methods, about shutting down ops if I see an unacceptable risk to the hands or the environment. Doesn't make me the smartest person out there but I do know the forces that pull you one way and then the other. And, BTW, I don't like "committee decisions": A person needs to take the final responsibility and live with that choice. That's what I get paid to do. IMHO there should be someone inside BP in that exact position right now.

Rockman, you make an excellent case for federalizing that part of the relief effort and just sending BP the bill.

My analysis is based on one more day's worth of oil polluting the GoM does more than $100 million in short, medium plus long term marginal damage (a reasonable lower end estimate). Unfortunately BP will not pay the full costs.

So ending the spill 24 hours sooner is worth >$100 million (assume cost of each well to completion is $150 million, slightly less for incomplete wells that will be stopped after success and said incomplete wells may have residual value as future production wells).

Stopping the wild well 12 hours sooner is just about worth the cost of one partially completed RW (my assumption).

I also assumed that the relief wells would be spudded every 7 to 10 days sequentially (not a very good assumption ATM).

If there is a blowout in the first relief well to complete, it will be VERY good news if another is milling the pipe a 100' up or down and is just a day or two away from completion.

Per my memory of 60 Minutes interview, BP originally estimated 21 days of active drilling and the actual was about 69 days. (VERY open to clarification, but no time to check transcript ATM). So I assume a "smooth as silk" well that lucks out can be completed in 21 days, 69 days is near the tail of the curve of probable outcomes.

Four rolls of the dice gives a much better shot at a 21 days (or 31 days with 10 days due to problems) to completion well. Five rolls better still. Again, I assumed 7-10 day staggers on the rolls of the dice, so RW#1 complete in 55 days is about = to RW#4 completion in 30 days (each day =>$100 million in damage).


Methane Hydrate Correction!

I mis-spoke several times in the last few days. My reference to methane hydrate is:

but I do not fully understand what it says; three different density numbers are cited, based on measurement (two number cited, 0.95 and .92) versus electron density (is that an X-ray measurement?) of 1.04. I'm there a crystallographer out there? Here is an excerpt from the above website:

Physical Properties of Methane hydrate-I
Help on Cleavage: Cleavage: None
Help on Color: Color: White, Yellow white.
Help on Density: Density: 0.95
Help on Diaphaneity: Diaphaneity: Transparent
Help on Fracture: Fracture: Brittle - Conchoidal - Very brittle fracture producing small, conchoidal fragments.
Help on Habit: Habit: Aggregates - Made of numerous individual crystals or clusters.
Help on Habit: Habit: Crystalline - Coarse - Occurs as well-formed coarse sized crystals.
Help on Habit: Habit: Massive - Granular - Common texture observed in granite and other igneous rock.
Help on Hardness: Hardness: 2.5 - Finger Nail
Help on Luster: Luster: Vitreous - Dull
Help on Streak: Streak: white

Optical Properties of Methane hydrate-I
Help on Optical Data: Optical Data: Isotropic, n=1.3.

Calculated Properties of Methane hydrate-I
Help on Electron Density: Electron Density: Bulk Density (Electron Density)=1.04 gm/cc
note: Specific Gravity of Methane hydrate-I =0.92 gm/cc.
Help on Fermion Index: Fermion Index: Fermion Index = 0.0014931194
Boson Index = 0.9985068806
Help on Photoelectric: Photoelectric: PEMethane hydrate-I = 0.32 barns/electron
U=PEMethane hydrate-I x rElectron Density= 0.33 barns/cc.
Help on Radioactivity: Radioactivity: GRapi = 0 (Gamma Ray American Petroleum Institute Units)
Methane hydrate-I is Not Radioactive

gives a full list of methane hydrate properties, and shows .912 density at 273K (about -0.15 celsius). I suspect this may be at one atm, where methane hydrate is not stable? Another site gives 0.95 g/cc at 50 atmospheres (about 1500 foot sea depth). It also shows methane hydrate has higher compressibility than normal ice, and much higher compressibility than water, so at some pressure there will be a crossover where methane hydrate becomes denser than sea water (though it would probably adopt a different crystal structure at high enough pressure).

I really must get better data on density of methane hydrate at depth...if the two densities and pressures above are accurate, extrapolation to 166 atm (at BOP, approximately) implies a density of 1.029 g/cc, very nearly neutral buoyant.

Melting temperature of methane hydrate is a strong function of pressure:

I'll try to get better info to post.

wouldn't all these folks that have "calculated" leaks orders of magnitude higher, just call BS and tell them they were liars

No, I would accept viable estimates with understandable technology and calculations behind them. + or - 10% is fine with me.

Strawman argument.


Maybe I am just jaded, but I stand by my belief that the Purdue professor who claims to have calculated his flow rate at 100,000 bpd would not be back on CNN admitting his calculations were off.

I am however heartened to hear that at least some folks would accept a viable estimate, and like you, I wish that one were available to counter the outrageous claims that are out there.


My own GUESS is that the flow peaked at 40,000 to 50,000 b/day and natural exhaustion (common in wild wells) has reduced that to the 20,000 b/day range and will be down even more in the coming weeks.

As pressure and flow is reduced over time, the top shot becomes more technically viable.


from memory, the Purdue professor said 70,000 b/day, *NOT* 100,000 b/day. I find 70k to be in the upper limit of believable.

Keep in mind, though, that as the oil field pressure declines, the BOP valve will continue to erode (presuming that erosion was the original cause for the increasing flow over time). This will tend to offset the pressure drop in the oil field with lower pressure drop across the BOP. Who knows how the flow rate will be affected in the future.

Someone said in another post that the attempt to use golf balls and other matter to plug the BOP was abandoned - if so, perhaps it is because BP realized that the BOP is too far eroded at this point in time to provide a sufficient enough surface area (or the valve is too far eroded) to stop the leaking oil with that stuff.


Supercritical crude oil/methane is a potent solvent. If the temperature is up around 450F, it will be eroding the rubber dramatically. Has anyone been watching close enough (onlist) to estimate whether the flow is increasing or decreasing?

The dissolution/MELTING of the plug is a new concept that I hadn't considered. Several comments pop to mind:

1. The "junk-shot" plug-up would only have to hold for a few hours (days?) while the top-kill mud is pumped down hole.

2. There's no reason that the top kill mud couldn't carry a little "junk" with it to replace what's being eaten/melted out of the plug-up.

3. Once the top-kill mud starts flowing, at least SOME fraction of the hot oil/gas flow past the "junk-shot" plug-up will be replaced with cool, chemically benign mud.

4. To the extent that the flow can be slowed, what's in the BOP and the riser will cool down pretty quickly.

For someone who values fact-checking, you should check your facts.

NPR quoted Wereley as claiming "70,000 barrels a day".

Wereley said that the method used is "accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent."

Wereley also gave some other caveats:

"There's potentially some fluctuation back and forth between methane and oil," Wereley said.

"But assuming that the lion's share of the material coming out of the pipe is oil, Wereley's calculations show that the official estimates are too low."

"We're talking more than a factor-of-10 difference between what I calculate and the number that's being thrown around," he, said.

I don't see Wereley having any trouble defending these statements. Additionally, the field of Particle Image Velocimetry, a widely used technique, will be well disrupted when a prominent expert is shown to be unable to make a simple flow estimate.

Hi Joule,

I believe your "confluence of similar interests" just about nails it down.

I am looking for a word that means "something which is possessed of all or most of the outward earmarks or indications of a conspiracy,but is not".

I bet the Germans have a word for it.

I am looking for a word ...



Wouldn't that be more like: "Scheißekonspiration"

The word is "camarilla", I think

Not to be pedantic, but...the Coast Guard is not our military command in peacetime. They are part of Homeland Security.

I think the Coast Guard has more training and experience in handling pollution than 99+ percent of the people commenting on this blog, and I personally respect them for the job they perform.

I don't think the training or experience of Coast Guard is to be questioned.

The main question is simple - as citizens of this country is the Obama government being transparent and open - something Obama campaigned for. I didn't vote for him to act like Cheney.

May be everything coast guard, BP, NOAA etc are telling is all correct. But it just doesn't seem so - that is because none of these groups seem transparent and open. They are always trying to duck questions about the size of the spill. They have low credibility in this matter now.

Believe in whatever conspiracy you want, but this is your military command telling you

Somehow this is supposed to give me confidence. I've been involved on enough military base projects to have some idea how poorly the military can present even the most straight foward information--I expect little clarity from them in this situation.

I agree.
The Coast Guard is basing its comments on the size of the spill on two factors. The amount of oil that rises to the surface and they can see with satellite imagery and what they have been told by BP as to the maximum amount (55,000 bpd) the well could discharge in an unrestricted condition.

The amount that rises to the surface is definitely not be all the oil that has been discharged. If that was the case then why use all that dispersant? Notice that they have used 640,000 gallons (almost all on the surface) and have only 300,000 gallons available.

From EPA's webpage
"Preliminary testing results indicate that subsurface use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil from reaching the surface – and can do so with the use of less dispersant than is needed when the oil does reach the surface."

Hopefully the use at depth will allow much less use of the dispersants so they don't run out, as they only have 300,000 gallons left or half of what they have already used. (unless they can make up large batches easily).

The paper you reference does show that the model can be in error and they felt it was mostly the result of the high discharge velocity (15-16 m/s) used in the second experiment. It seemed to result in very small oil/water droplets with a very low buoyancy (density difference) relative to the surrounding water. Its the buoyancy of the droplets which determines the rise rate in the water column. For this spill it would be the dispersant which reduces the buoyancy of the oil not so much the discharge velocity in the riser.

If you read the EPA monitoring plan requirement, BP is suppose to collect data "to detect and delineate the dispersed plume". And gives three reasons to withdraw approval of the dispersant use.
1) Low dissolved oxygen levels
2) rotifer toxicity test
3) other factors not yet named

So Yes, for some reason the official words from the federal Coast Guard have Spin in them. It still seems that the actual federal requirements will allow for a scientific assessment of what is happening. It's probably just that the federal government is not going to be eager in release them, depending on what it says. The federal government wants to continue drilling in coastal deep waters. They need the oil and gas.

While many people are crying environmental disaster, it's still too early to tell. The use of dispersants, distance from shorelines, and prevailing currents could result in much less environmental impact than assumed.

Here's hoping for the best, and rest assured whatever happens, with so many dedicated scientist involved, it will come out.

thanks to all of you for sharing your time and expertise--tod continues to be a mind-expanding experience every time i visit. i hadn't seen this pulled together before:

The satellite pictures are damning denying that, is there?

The news is that the Florida tar balls are not from BP's oil spill, according to the Deepwater Horison Response website. No information is available on where they are from.

Let's recall that about 500,000 barrels of oil enter the Gulf every year from the thousands of natural seeps.

Rear Admiral Landry is, perhaps, not the best spokeperson for the Unified Command. I participated in the briefing and I found her less well prepared than she might have been.

I am especially concerned with the transfer of mitigation materials from Alaska's North Slope. An incident there would be orders of magnitude more difficult to handle and I would be far more comfortable if those materials remained nearby.

Article says that all along the concern of BP and the CG has been that the break at the well-head could become worse.....isn't it clear that it is already worse?

The original BP statement was that the "third" leak was the smaller of the three at the pipe end, one in the middle that was supposedly the object of the failed coffer dam, and another, third leak.....that was downplayed . Of course this turns out to be the well-head leak.

The junk shot has either been postponed, or failed. or perhaps was too much of a threat expand the well-head leak.....and now we are talking about the kill mud injection (whether this really happens or not, stay tuned.)

My conclusion, is that BP is putting on a good show of trying to stop the leak even if they are really just praying that the well-head leak doesn't expand, but at the same time only two relief wells are being drilled at 100 miillon per......and we know from posters here that the more the better, as if a relief well misses, it can't simply make a u-turn and come back., ie BP is trying to get off on the cheap again and playing Russian Roulette.

Andy, the third leak was always the one at the end of the drill pipe, which was capped with a valve a week or so ago.

BP was very explicit that capping the third leak had no material effect on the actual leak rate, as that volume was just directed to the other two.


Slatz, whether you want to call it 1, 2 or 3, the well-head leak was supposed to be 15% and the mid-pipe "coffer dome" leak, 85%. Looking at the videos, something is off somewhere....

DP, sorry

I suspect that because the "junk" shot will contain larger solid particles, intended to block the hole through the BOP, they don't want to use that unless they have to. This is partly because it may preclude the use of the "top kill" method, which they are going to try on Saturday. The junk that they inject might also, if it goes through the BOP and into the riser, do more damage downstream of the BOP. Thus the preference to try the "top kill" first. But they are still plumbing that up, so this is still not a definite commitment.

1: I think the situation with the leak is dynamic and has been from the start. The engineering solutions take time and conditions may change between when an idea is conceived and when they try to implement it. I think the 'tophat' suffered from this - perhaps by the time it was ready to be deployed the flow rate from the riser was too large for it (it was intended to capture all the flow from that point if I am not mistaken).

2: I think that the understanding of the dynamics of the leak has changed as the situation has been pieced together by the team coming up with the mitigation schemes. They got the gamma ray scan and some information directly from the BOP (pressures, internal condition, etc). The junk shot may be on hold for a variety of reasons - the situation has changed since it was conceived or the understanding of the condition of the well has changed making it seem less safe or perhaps ineffective. They went through a lot of work to prepare for it including pre-positioning the 'junk' in a holding frame on the bottom, but then moved it down the list and advanced the top kill with heavy mud.

This is how I interpret the information provided and actions I am aware of.

As I understand (or imagine I understand) the top-kill/junk shot scenario, there is some reason to believe that they are both waiting for the same plumbing modifications to the kill/choke ports on the BOP.

Any junk particles big enough to do any good are going to have to be pumped into the BOP through some sizeable openings.

Also, to the extent that the leak path through the BOP starts from inside the bore of the drill pipe, it would be helpful to have a healthy flow of mud to carry some of the junk down to the bottom end of the DP.

Each relief well is set up to allow for multiple tries to intersect the fist well bore.

"Let's recall that about 500,000 barrels of oil enter the Gulf every year from the thousands of natural seeps."

Wow, good point. This disaster might increase the rate to >500,000 barrels a month - maybe a 10X+ increase from natural seeps.

This disaster is pumping out as much oil as the "5000 individual natural seeps in the GOM."

Yes, thank you for helping to keep things in perspective

I think the context is more to note that Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has evolved micro-organisms that can and do clean the environment of naturally occuring oil.

We just won't tell the bacteria that this oil was spilled in a man made accident and hopefully they will happily eat this stuff too.


They only rarely (say once/million years) get such a feast !

Hopefully, they have enough oxygen to eat VERY quickly.

In just a few decades, almost certainly less than a century, the fisheries will likely recover.


In just a few decades, almost certainly less than a century, the fisheries will likely recover.

Look at the bright side, if BP can salvage the field and put it on production, they may have found enough oil to meet global demand for 24 hours or so.

A quick note of the bacterial decomposition of oil. The rate of decomposition is a function of temperature, nutrient and dissolved oxygen availability, mixing rate along with size of the oil particle. Nothing new or fancy. And bacteria can consume most of an oil spill given the right conditions.

The plumes have been reported as deep (>2,000 ft). This means cold temperatures, possible nutrient shortage, slow mixing, and very slow reoxygenation rates as it has to come from the surface. The oil emulsion seems to be such (small size) that bacteria should easily be able to get to it (high surface area to volume ratio). This all means that the rate may be on the slow side (much slower than if it was at the surface) but that given enough time most of the emulsion should be consumed.

The issue of this much oil is not whether it is anthropogenic or natural but will it overload nature's ability to consume it without using up the available dissolved oxygen and or nutrients. This sort of environmental impact used to happen all the time with the discharge of raw sewage. The bacteria would take off and simply use up the dissolved oxygen faster than it could be replenished resulting is anaerobic conditions, killing off all the oxygen based organisms like fish.

Now even if the submerged oil plume results in dissolved oxygen levels less than 2 parts per million (the point that oxygen based organisms start dying) this does not necessarily mean you will see large fish kills. Fish have an avoidance reaction and as long as there are other places to go, will swim out of an area that causes them discomfort. These plumes are at such deep levels and are fairly thin (~300 ft) it would be expected that there would not be large fish kills. No fish will stay long is such an emulsion even with sufficient dissolved oxygen levels as the emulsion will adversely interfere with their gill/water interface for breathing.

Because of the depth I don't know if fish killed by the plumes would surface or simply sink to the bottom, so the lack of a lot of dead organism found at the surface is not necessarily an indication of a lack of bad conditions. Another reason to get out there and collect some data.

Even without a large fish kill, you could be significantly reducing the normal productivity of the gulf. Its unknown though by how much, as this is not a usual event that scientist have looked at.

Finally, because the plumes are deep, its unlikely they will make it to shore but will stay deep as long as the buoyancy of the oil stays low.

Hope that helps

Hope that helps

It might help to explain to some of the less biologically inclined out there why I'm being so insistent in my desire to get marine biologist out there now to start answering these very questions.

Good explanation, actually, thanks!

Just read an article at about USN submarine tracking a deeply sunmerged frozen 'blob' of oil as it approaches the Florida Strait.

I have a reasonable sense of humor, but posting links to these types of whack job stories does nothing but increase the hit rate at sites that don't deserve our attention.

My neighbor asked me the other day if it was true that the pressure in the reservoir was around 170,000 psi (one of the ridiculous stories going around the web).

The linked article states:

"The Navy submarines have trained video cameras on the moving blob, which remains frozen at depths of between 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Because the oil blob is heavier than water, it remains frozen at current depths."

I guess the writer of this didn't know about the crush depth of submarines. That would be in the 1300-1500 foot range. The actual number is classified as far as I know.

I think this report is highly doubtful if only based upon that factoid.

And, Alan, it's orangish...

OK - how many, besides me, actually remember this movie.



I'd only ever seen it on an old black/white TV - it's even MORE terrifying in COLOR!! LOL

That Wayne Madsden report is a steaming pile of crap. You been fooled. It's obviously an Obama hit site. They put "MUD" in quotes as if it were some new technique.

Too bad they don't read the oil drum, eh?

Most of the lighter fractions will evaporate before any bacteria will have a chance to consume it. I personally think emulsifying it is a bad idea. It'll keep more of the petroleum out of sight and out of mind, but it'll also slow the rate at which the lighter fractions in the petroleum can rise to the surface and evaporate.

This brings up again the issue of possible oxygenation in the plumes. At that pressure (2000 psi), oxygen will dissolve very fast. Most likely bubbles would only rise hundreds of feet at most before dissolving. I think it is important at that depth to use pure oxygen, not air, because the nitrogen would also be forced into solution. I know humans get nitrogen narcosis, so I assume a supersaturated solution of nitrogen would be bad for at least some organisms. Also, using pure oxygen reduces compressor energy input (while of course increasing energy input to separate the oxygen).

According to sunnv on May 15 (, oxidizing 5000 bbl crude oil/day takes 73 million gram-moles of oxygen/day (2,340 metric tons/day)...a lot of oxygen; but how does that compare to output of a modern oxygen plant? I found this article, an excerpt from a Bureau of Mines report on projected costs for oxygen from a 500 tons (English) per day plant (for coal gasification):

Their all-in estimate is $7/ton, around $8/tonne, for making 97% pure oxygen at 450 psi. This implies a cost of $18,700/day for the oxygen to oxidize 5000 barrels per day of oil. It would probably be at least 2x this figure, but from a purely economic point of view, it looks feasible to me...

I think that we ought to strip Alaska of every last boom and oil recovery tool.

There is a CERTAINTY of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and only a remote chance of one in Alaska in the next few months.

If oil operations need to be slowed down in AK, so be it.

And if there is a spill in AK, we can share what new booms come off of the assembly line.


Looks like the MMS and the industry may have known about the possibility of undersea plumes years ago. And the CG says they're still estimating the size of the gusher based on surface slick size.

Admiral Thad Allen was interviewed on MS-NBC (Rachael Maddow) and was asked about BP-USCG co=operation. He mentioned that the release of more underwater spill video was the Coast Guard's suggestion (very diplomatically phrased in the interview).


Wild stories of USN subs tracking "frozen blob" of oil, making it's way past FL/cuba (headin' to greenland?!?!)

(via ZeroHedge)

Navy submarines do not operate at 3 or 4 thousand feet.

I don't know how deep modern subs can operate, but almost for sure they can't go much over a thousand feet except at some serious risk of self destruction.

But it seems likely that they are able to collect water samples while sailing submerged, and they certainly collect temperature and other data routinely.There must be one heck of a lot of square miles in the spill area where the depth is not over a thousand or two thousand feet and a sub probably could collect water samples over a large area pretty fast.

This brings up an interesting question-is it concievable that any of the gear on subs used for routine data collection might be able to detect oil in water?

For instance,it could be that sound waves traveling thru oily water are changed in some respect to a detectable extent, given that the sub should have very sophisticated acoustics equipment.

It also occurs to me that the admirals who are responsible for these super expensive warships would be very interested in finding out , first hand, anything they can about sailing subs in oily water-such info might be priceless in combat at some future time.

If for instance some oil adheres to the hull, or to externally mounted sensors, the sub might be more easily detected by an enemy, or the sensors might not work properly.

I could be wrong but based on the paper I linked above it probably wouldn't be a gigantic stretch of the imagination to think that it might be possible to drag a submerged properly configured sonar device behind a research or navy vessel through the spill area...


Submariners do not talk about anything onboard. Oil field services do provide a sonic logging system that uses sound travel time in correlation with other logging services to determine rock density and to some extent formation porosity, permeability and fluid type.

US subs can dive "below 600 feet" was the classified response we used.

Our "comfort zone" was generally between 600' and 1000'. 'Nuf said.

Sonar can detect the various thermal layers in seawater, an important stealth tool for sub sailors. I'm sure the 'plume' could be detected to some extent.

The main seawater injection system indeed brings in thousands of gallons of seawater and whatever it contains. No skipper I know of would subject his main propulsion cooling system to an injection of crude oil, even in dilluted form. His reactor wouldn't like that. He likes to keep his reactor happy!

When submerged, the water pressure on submarine's hull can reach 4 MPa (580 psi) for steel submarines and up to 10 MPa (1,500 psi) for titanium submarines like the Russian sub Komsomolets, while interior pressure remains relatively unchanged. This difference results in hull compression, which decreases displacement. Water density also increases with depth, as the salinity and pressure are higher, but this incompletely compensates for hull compression, so buoyancy decreases as depth increases.

Source Wikipedia

So if we take a titanium hulled sub as an example and convert 1500 psi of ambient external pressure to feet of water at 4 degrees centigrade (max density of pure H20) we can roughly estimate that the depth this particular sub could operate at is 3,460 ftsw

I'd venture to guess that would not be the maximum pressure such a sub might be able to sustain?

Anyways that's quite a bit deeper than your comfort zone of 1000 ft, and if the Russians had such a sub years ago one would imagine that we do too ;^)

There may be some unmanned Ti subs/ROVs in the secret inventory, but all of the USN fleet subs have steel hulls.

A reasonable amount of info (#, make and type of reactors, length and displacement) is public knowledge.



Been waiting for someone to toss out the obvious but maybe I missed it. I may just be an old rock-licking geologist but I watch the Discovery channel all the time. There are a number of manned deep diving vehicles (think ALVIN) in both the public and military sectors that could dive on and observe first hand any deep oil plumes in the GOM anytime the gov't wanted to. We all know it, BP knows it and the gov't knows it.

The silence by the PTPB on this matter is deafening, isn't it?

The silence by the PTPB on this matter is deafening, isn't it?

Kinda what I've been trying to get across for a while now :-(

Color me suspicious FM but I've been wondering if the feds have been hesitant to provide details over concerns of potential lawsuits against BP/US gov't from other countries that could be Cuba...or maybe Ireland in 6 months.

I could see a half billion, or billion, euro claim in the World Court by Cuba against the USA for damage to their tourist industry.

And Cuba winning.

Best Hopes for Apoplexy for certain Right Wingers,


Hmm, you know, I've heard stories about the coral reefs off of Cuba being absolutely spectacular, I have wanted to dive there forever.

I guess it would be quite an embarrassment if Cuba were to pursue legal action against the US government for compromising those reefs. Especially if this were to transpire on a global stage with the entire world looking on.

Yes, I think I could see why they might be a bit reluctant to have certain information surface.

I thought only rockhounds lick rocks.

Naw SA. It's a lot easier to see the grains of a field sample with a hand lens if you wet it first. Woosies use a squirt bottle. Real geologists just lick it. Then again, maybe that's why I seldom see an old field geologist these days.

And this is what you end up looking like after a long career of licking rocks ;^)

In 1960 the Trieste, a private research submersible under US Navy funding, reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, about 36,000 feet, or about 16,000 psi ambient pressure.

It had a pressure chamber for the 2 man crew made from 5 inch thick steel and used a unpressurized chamber of gasoline for buoyancy.

When I was a "bubblehead" we were aware of all of the Soviet sub designs, including several titanium hulled boats. The costs of producing a titanium hulled sub is enormous. There are many deep diving subs in operation, mostly research vessels, but also Navy subs, including the DSRV rescue subs. The US Navy wasn't as interested in designing for depth as it was for silence and speed. It's a "diminishing returns" thing. I'm not aware of any operational US titanium boats.

Note: I didn't say that US military boats can't/don't go deeper than 1000 feet. However, there's really not much point in going deeper considering their missions. Operational depth is one thing. Crush depth is another. Remember, the hull isn't the only part of the sub that has to deal with exteme pressures. There are many hull penetrations that can fail, including the shaft tube, main seawater injection system (to the propulsion system), torpedo/missile tubes, etc.
BTW, the ballasting systems are carefully designed to deal with changing bouyancy a various depths. We had to do the math at sub school and during qualls.

There are quite a few small subs that would have no problems going to the BOP. Robert Ballard's "Alvin" would consider 5000' a shallow dive. The Titanic is at 13,000'. They drove all around that wreck.

Just in case others have not seen these videos:

Spill from riser at BOP (May 15, 16):

Spill in riser at insertion (May 17):

Thanks to

Skytruth also asks,"Are we really being asked to believe that the spill-response capability of one of the world's biggest oil companies AND the United States Coast Guard has been totally overwhelmed by a spill of just 210,000 gallons per day?"

To answer Skytruth: No.

Do you mean, no, BP and the Coasties are not overwhelmed, or no, the spill is larger than 5,000 bpd?

From the overflight videos, it appears that the spill response effort has come no where near to containing and capturing most of the released oil. It is not a question of whether BP and the Coasties feel overwhelmed, but whether their spill cleanup capacity is physically overwhelmed. It seems from available evidence that it is. Mostly, they seem to be relying on "the solution to pollution is dilution."

Former, as we do not have an accurate flow rate. I would say suface coordination is better than I originally thought it might be and dispersion, skimming, burning, and booms have produced results better than I thought they would at the beginning of the disaster. (As to the flow rate, I do not know but have thoughts of a range based on past experience and industry contacts).
As soon as I heard the riser did not disconnect I assumed the relief well would be the most likely successful path but admit prior to hearing that I figured they would put a second BOP stack on top to kill the well.
All the other stuff is known to be high risk as far as success(Not sure on the top kill because I do not know the pressures or condition of BOP top but the time delay does allow for a unique incident to become a laboratory to test options, and to demonstrate all effort is being made to try to find a solution.
My gut tells me this particular configuration will never occur again but that some of what is being learned will help in future incidents (always does).
On the surface response I would say clearly things learned from past incidents and things like Katrina along with development and training related to the Gulf Response Plan have helped, but a postmortem will need to be done to see how the particular logistics, supply chains, and unified command structure might be adapted and improved.

I had heard that perhaps the the relief well could have started a couple days earlier but I do not know the details of getting that rig.

Do you have any evidence that they are capable of containing a leak of 210,000 gallons per day at this depth, or even in shallower water?

You've completely missed Fractional Flow's point of a couple days back.

Assuming that 210,000 gpd is the size of the leak, then obviously they don't. Do you know if they have adequate resources to clean up a 210,000 bpd spill on the surface? Do you know what proportion of a 210,000 bpd spill they should be able to clean up?

Seems like the industry's emergency response plans should have estimates for the amount of oil that can be skimmed, absorbed or dispersed given available resources. Otherwise, how could available resources be evaluated to determine if they are adequate?

It would be useful to review the emergency response plans for the Gulf to determine the scale of anticipated spills and the planned spill response capacity and compare it to this situation. Alas, I have a day job and that would be no small piece of work. Perhaps some of the industry folks on this blog could discuss the emergency response planning process and capacity in place prior to this spill. No doubt they know this better than anyone else.

Not all of us can read everything on the blog so I'm not sure of the FF comment to which you are referring. Perhaps you could reference it with a link.

Saying BP and the government are doing the best they can with the resources they have begs the question about whether the planning and pre-acquisition of resources was adequate. Perhaps subsequent investigation will shed light on whether MMS and the industry failed to adquately plan for this situation.

Just in case it hasn't been posted lately, BP's oil spill response capabilities is just the same as my little 5-man company: the oil spill response is done by an industry consortium funded by all offshore operators. The industry maintains the equipment and trains/maintains the personnel. As operator BP "manages" the spill and is responsible for the costs. And the Coasties do a great job of monitoring the effort. But they don't scoop up any more oil than the BP personnel.

And I've yet to see any significant effort to clean up the spill. Anyone catch a figure yet on how much oil has been collected? I haven't and I suspect for good reason: the amount would seem tiny compared to even the minimum estimates of oil released from the blow out. Anyone see one picture of a boat picking up any oil out of the water in the last 10 days? I've seen one reporter dip his hand into some goo...only oil I've seen lifted out of the GOM lately. Isn't that the big mystery: where's the oil? That's why the attention has turned to the underwater plumes of oil. Remember the Valdez? At this point we were inundated with pictures of waves of oil washing up on the rocky beaches and thousand of dead birds and fish. Where are those pics now? Perhaps most of the dead critters are floating out of sight with those deep oil plumes.

Perhaps Skytruth lumps the blow out control response in with the spill cleanup response. Two entirely different efforts conducted by two separate groups with very different methods and goals.

I think Skytruth wasn't precise in what it meant by "overwhelmed." But rarely are any of us that precise all the time. Regardless, the central point was whether an ongoing spill of 210,000 gpd could be cleaned up as it happens by resources available prior to the spill. I don't know the answer. Perhaps some in the industry do. It is also important to ask whether it should be within the industry's planned spill clean up capacity to clean up such spills on an ongoing basis for as long as necessary.

All of the industry's spill clean up capacity is planned and implemented by the industry with government oversight. I expect a fair number of people in the industry know a fair bit about this capacity. While most of them are no doubt very busy just now, perhaps others (retired?) could comment in some detail, hopefully with numbers, on how the appropriate level of spill clean up capacity is determined, funded and deployed.

HT - I've never seen a number for recovery capacity. But the problem coming up with a number is the assumption of sea conditions. From what I saw initially the problem wasn't so much capacity but effectiveness. From what I recall reading, with seas over 4' the ability to collect the spill was near zero. Even if they had 10X the recovery capacity it wouldn't matter. I've seen some reports that indicate the Germans have a spill collection system more suited to the rough N. Sea. Perhaps as it been hinted about the need to improve the capability of Deep Water BOP's perhaps it's time to ramp up spill collection capabilities also.

You might be interested in:

BP told feds it could handle oil spill 60 times larger than Deepwater Horizon

Yes, ambient conditions have a substantial impact on operations. Nothing unpredictable about this. Seems BP was a tad optimistic about things.

In my experience much federal environmental and emergency planning and impact analysis has become deeply corrupted such that it is little more than a box to check off with no serious analysis of risks, impacts, and mitigation -- a cynical game of "let's pretend" executed by nameless federal and industry contractors that fills in thousands of pages of required check boxes without serious consideration of how to protect citizens or the environment. Bulk that obscures, verbiage without meaningful analysis. Ink on paper is cheap.

Hopefully subsequent investigations will take a hard look at industry spill clean up capacity. Effective pre-existing clean up capacity requires forethought and pre-crisis expenditures, both commodities in short supply in our short-sighted culture.

Ink on paper is cheap.

Perhaps it should be required that the check marks be made in blood extracted from the CEOs of the respective corporations and then each check mark, signed off in the blood of Federal Regulatory officials.

Maybe they'd take things a bit more seriously then...

Rockman, who is responsible for the health of the local people being hired to do cleanup? The HuffPo article that Interested_public quotes from upthread (4:19 pm) says it's BP telling them they don't need respirators or protective gear, it's perfectly safe, etc. Is the writer just making an incorrect assumption about who's supervising the workers?

Man I don't want to make light of the health effects but I have been around crude oil all my adult life (since 18 years old). I know men in their 80's who worked on pulling rigs/spudders from the time they were 16. I play golf with one every year. You strip out (pull a wet string) on a rod pumped well 2-3 times a week you get covered in oil. You test tubing you get covered in oil. You clean vessels you get covered in oil.

And you need to clean up to eat lunch- for years what you used was gasoline. GoJo and Fast Orange didn't exist. And you clean the oil off your hands to take a dip of Cope or Beech Nut you use gasoline. You clean your pipe wrenches in diesel.

Don't get me wrong I'm not recommending it but it's kind of wild seeing the way people view crude oil.


We used to take baths in benzene in lab. May explain why Chemistry PhDs live 8 years less than Physics PhDs and a decade less than Math PhDs.


Thank you for those statistics.
Sincerely Marie Curie

Some hazards in Physics, but an overdose of chalk dust appears to be the greatest occupational hazard of mathematicians.

Best Hopes for white boards and the organic solvents in their markers,


Wow. And when I was in Physics grad school we sometimes did things with solvents that probably ought not be done on a routine basis, but I never really thought about what chemists did on a daily basis. We never did mess with benzene. Acetone or trichlorethelene were probably the worst of what we ever messed with, and even then it wasn't on a daily basis - we mainly used them for cleaning various things.

We were pretty careful with other hazards that we had in our labs - like acids, high voltage and radiation.

I have worked around (occasionally been covered with) a lot of refined products and have washed with gasoline, etc. I am not sure that is the same as the conditions of the slick. People on the boats had to wear masks I believe.

Know anyone who is paint crazy?

As a chimney sweep for over 30 years I come into contact with a lot of hydrocarbons and always wear a mask when around airborn creosote and soot. Before that I worked in a printshop for a year or so and one of my jobs was to pick up the cleaning rags every Monday, sticking my head into the bins with all kinds of solvents to grab the rags. I was f**ked up for the rest of the afternoon when I did that.

Hi FF.
Having worked in a chemical intensive environment, one thing that tends to happen is people self-select- that is, if they can tolerate the immediate effects, they will continue to work there. Some people have immediate reactions to legally allowable levels of chemicals; everyone's tolerance is different. Those who have immediate reactions will likely find other jobs.

That said, they told the people at ground zero after 9/11 that they didn't need masks and that the dust was harmless:

On September 18, 2001, EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman told the public, via a press release, "We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air-quality and drinking-water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances" and that "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York … that their air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink."[12]

Given that BP doesn't know what they are likely to encounter and is probably not continuously monitoring the working conditions of its new hires and/or contractors, I find it hard to believe that their interests are being safeguarded.


I don't know swifty...a question for a lawyer I suppose. First, I assume they are hired as independent contractors and should be working under a written agreement. It would have been very foolish for BP to contract individuals to do a job they are neither trained or equiped to do unless the contract made those folks solely responsible. But given the rush BP was making to do some PR they might have just been that stupid. Either way it won't take long for the lawsuites to settle the question IMHO.

Rockman, if I may impose on your patience with a follow-up...

I don't know swifty...a question for a lawyer I suppose.

OK, I wasn't clear. Didn't mean to cast you as a lawyer! You had written:

BP's oil spill response capabilities is just the same as my little 5-man company: the oil spill response is done by an industry consortium funded by all offshore operators. The industry maintains the equipment and trains/maintains the personnel. As operator BP "manages" the spill and is responsible for the costs. And the Coasties do a great job of monitoring the effort. But they don't scoop up any more oil than the BP personnel.

I'm confused as to who it is who is instructing and supervising the local folks. The HuffPo story that was quoted here said the local contractors (who reportedly are getting sick from the fumes) were being told they didn't need respirators or protective gear--but told by whom? The story says it was BP, but I can't tell from what you said whether it would in fact be BP, or folks from the industry consortium.

swifty -- it would be great if the MSM cleared up some of those questions. The bulk of the physical effort is being conducted by the contractors who are part of the industry maintained oil spill response program. BP maybe technically "managing this effort" but those folks function pretty much on their established protocols. OTHO, I would bet the effort to use the fisherman is being done by BP alone. If I were running the clean up consortium I wouldn't touch this "civilian component" effort with a 10' pole. It just begs for secondary lawsuits IMHO. I don't watch the media at all so perhaps there have beend etails tossed out. But I haven't seen much posted on TOD in that regards so I suspect not.

Don't know about the clean up effort but I understand BP is providing respirators for all the crews and A/C filters for the boats and ships near the wellhead.

Incident update (from Deepwater Horizon Response website):

More than 1.8 million feet of boom (barrier) has been deployed to contain the spill.

To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 6.3 million gallons of oil-water mix.

More than 950 total response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.

Seventeen staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines along Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coastline.

Lots of numbers. Anyone aware of any maps of the boom deployment? Maps of the area the skimmers are/have worked? Oil collected? Skimming efficiency? Map of 'hotspots' on the shore line? Are the booms effectively containing the main mass of the slick off shore? or is this mainly due to the prevailing weather patterns to-date? etc.

BP stated in answer to a question today that 10% of oil/water skimmed is a good number to use but due to calm seas they had actually got up to 50% oil in mixture yesterday and maybe today. As far as where the oil is, is a good question. It is sweet crude with high GOR, so not same as Alaska. Between skimming, burning, disperents, evaporation, eddies, and winds that have allowed oil to stay offshore and in a confined area coupled with the mist dispersed below you probably have most of the oil accounted for IMHO (Within some range of probability around estimated flow)

(I am a fan of the Coast Guard and their efforts)

No major news from today's (May 19th) Deepwater Horizon Response news conference. I did catch that the earliest date for the top kill is Sunday with Monday being more likely. Also, the flow rate from the insertion tube is up to 3,000 barrels a day.

And no, they did not mention the "BLOB" ;-)

On NPR, Bob Dubley, BP, Houston said more than half the fluid exiting the pipe is gas. They have recovered about 13 million cu ft gas with a 5000 gas/oil ratio (units?).

If it is 5,000 GOR then 13 million would indicate the recovery of 2,600 barrels of oil. Not really a great accomplishment for a couple days but certainly better than nothing.

So far, the numbers BP has given are:
1,000 bpd on Monday
2,000 bpd on Tuesday
3,000 bpd on Wednesday

That would suggest ~6,000 so far ..

I think the "no engineer wants to design a solution that threatens his ships on the surface" is the obvious excuse it looks like. You can see what they've done with the amount they are taking from the insertion tube. Why can't they multi-split a bigger flow from a bigger capture pipe and do multi-flares of the type they are already doing and capture more oil?

I think we are being strung-along and the plan has been to rely on the relief well from the start.

I think we are being strung-along and the plan has been to rely on the relief well from the start.

I agree. This has got PR/legal department written all over it. Although, I don't doubt that at least some of the folks involved probably hoped/are hoping that one of the wild-assed ideas might actually make some kind of difference.

Good point. And, if they did nothing at all while the relief wells are being drilled, they would take a lot more flack than they are with the crazy stuff they have tried.

Besides, some engineers had these ideas and always wanted to to try them out. Who knows? Likw you said, maybe one of them might do some good.

In fact, the tap they have on the riser is way better than nothing. Or would you prefer to have the other 60K gal/day left in the GOM?


As the person who made the statement as well as a degreed chemical engineer, I take personal offense to your assertion that any engineer working this catastrophe would knowingly design or implement a system that would possibly endanger additional people that are responding on the surface.

You want to know why things are taking a long time? It is because dozens if not hundreds of some of the smartest engineers that work in the oil and gas industry and the government are nit-picking every detail of every idea so that nobody else gets hurt and the situation is not made worse.

Stick around for more than a week and try to learn something.


Absolutely concur with Slatz. (But that opinion only comes from decades of experience working with them in big and small companies around the world and having to depend on their designs, so obviously that opinion means little)

I'm convinced that the RIT is primarily a PR effort. If they actually were recovering a significant fraction of the flow out the end of the riser, the velocity up the riser would be so high that they wouldn't be able to do much with it other than flare it all off anyway.

I STILL think they should convert the original "Macondome" into an underwater oil/gas separator (described at ) and just let the gas go free. This would allow the recovery of, IMHO, FAR more of the OIL without the problems caused by the expansion of the gas.


Just getting back online; not up on latest posts. Yesterday Alan verified that the submerged oil looks red. I just looked at the Greenpeace photos posted today showing reddish light colored oil clots (not really as firm as tarballs). I suspect these are reflective (white tone) due to entrained sea water droplets in the oil (the same reason that mayonnaise is white: both are "water in oil" emulsions, I think). Would someone please check that for me? If I am correct, if you heat these clots up, boil away the water, they should look like red oil; "maltenes" is one term applicable. If as I predict, this fits with my hypothesis posted in detail yesterday ( fractionation of the oil is occurring on or below the seafloor. The reddish snotty stuff in the Greenpeace photos is the middle cut, the portion that drops out of solution as the supercritical solution goes subcritical as it goes from ~9000 psi in front of the orifice (BOP leak) to about 2250 psi just down stream of there. This oil is colored because it has very low content of asphaltenes (which are very black), I think because the asphaltenes phase separated from the supercritical mixture (methane/ethane/.../oil/) as the crude oil rose 18000 feet from the reservoir to the BOP.

I note the following news from NOAA yesterday:

>6. Samples of water from the underwater "plumes" have been taken by the Pelican research ship. These samples have been divided and sent to testing centers, but no results are yet available.

I predict that individual droplets will tend to fall in one of three categories, asphaltenes, maltenes, or light hydrocarbons. The plumes may contain particles of two different kinds, however; for example, large asphaltene droplets at 1.00 specific gravity could rise faster than emulsified small droplet size maltenes at specific gravity 0.85 (e.g.). I expect there are likely to be five apparent plumes, two of which are created by overlap areas of two plumes: going from the bottom to the top: asphaltene; asphaltene + maltene; maltene; maltene + light hydrocarbons; light hydrocarbons. I think these are the five plume layers detected by the Pelican.

[If samples sit around a while the light hyrocarbon phase may dissolve back into the maltene phase (a fairly slow process because this occurs via either brownian motion or else hexane-like molecules dissolving into water then dissolving into the maltene droplets).]

Each phase will be slightly contaminated with the other phase, but the composition of individual droplets will be distinctly one of the phases (unless two or more droplets have merged to form a given droplet), with light hydrocarbons fraction floating fastest, and asphaltenes rising slowest (if all droplets were the same size, but of course they are not).

I also predict that eventually the asphaltene layer will reach the surface. The high asphaltene content phase will be reminiscent of "stillbottoms" sort of material. It may well have a softening temperature high enough that it will almost be like sand when it reaches the surface. I do not believe this material (asphaltenes) will be nearly as dangerous to sea life as the oil; mainly because these are likely solids at sea water temperature (and if we are lucky, stay solid in hot sun on the beach). I don't think asphaltenes will wet out feathers or gills, whereas the emulsified oil might. Asphaltenes are widely distributed in nature. They are found in all sedimentary rocks, and occasionally deposits of pure asphaltenes are formed (e.g., Gilsonite).
Roger 5/19/2010

Some possible MSM media interest. Contact me at alan_drake at juno dott conn (in standard form).


Quick question: In that video clip released yesterday of the in-place Riser Insertion Tube, isn't it true that the actual siphon is the black/dark pipe sitting atop the riser pipe and running off to the left? And the dinky little tube (apparently) held by the ROV arm to the right is a utility for emitting dispersant?

Seems to be a lot of confusion about this on the TV news, blogs, etc.

I found that video on BP's site now:

The title of it on the referring page:

"ROV - Riser pumping dispersant, with RITT in place (but not operational) - 17 May, 2010"

So I guess the little tube is dispersant.

Looks like the black tube that curves back over the riser is the RITT,
based on their drawings (though doesn't look like an exact match).

Would be nice to see video of the plume with the RITT operational at 3000 bpd.

It is good that the gas flare is looking bigger today...

Thanks for the reassurance! It's good to have the videos but the lack of description just seeds confusion :0(

Of course the imminent public availability of a livestream (of the well site) should* be quite informative.


*depending, I guess, on camera location(s).
"...This wasn't tar balls. This wasn't sheen. This is heavy oil in our wetlands," he told a news conference in Venice, Louisiana. "It's already here but we know more is coming."

Is this "heavy oil" because the area is so close to the original blow-out?
Does anyone want to guess at the thickness and composition of the oil? This is supposed to be the first oil landfall so your expert opinions in assessing it will be valued highly.

40 miles is "so close"?

per this comment above, referring to the NY Times article:

It's black because it has de-emulsified after reaching still and warm water.
Before that, it was the red-brown mousse of emulsified oil/water and/or water/oil, drifting just under the surface.
Now it's showing its true colours.

And it ain't pretty...

The emulsions tend to clot together, so when they de-emulsify, one can have fairly thick oil to suffocate things.

This is emulsified oil, nice red-brown mousse:

See how sticky and full of "body" it is, like whipped cream:

If you let it sit still in warm conditions warm enough, it will turn back into black oil - here's a mix:

The reeds are hydrophobic, so they draw the oil component of the emulsion up on them.

A lot of black here:

This stuff is pretty de-emulsified, so is pretty black, but still looks a bit emulsified and sticking together, so looks very heavy:

Thanks...I really appreciate your posts. I accept now that the color thing is not evidence of fractionation at depth, but of course the color evolution does not rule that out either. The analysis of the plumes from the Pelican will either show evidence of fractionation or not.

Did you see my recent edit of an earlier post referring back to your May 15 calculation on oxygen demand for oil oxidation at depth?

BP is getting bad reputation by being too secretive. At minimum it should:

(1) Let third party (that is not employed by BP) geologists/petroleum-engineers/chemists etc visit the site and report independently of BP.

(2) Same for media reporters.

(3) Give a scientific estimate of the leakage rate and leakage amount so far, with a declared margin of error (+/- a certain percentage). If its not capable of giving the estimate for the size of problem what can be hoped for its ability to deal with it?

(4) Make a dedicated URL loaded with pictures and movies of the spill. A section for live video of the spill itself is also appropriate.

More secretive BP is, more bad the public will think about it. Better be open. The spill didn't happened in somebody's backyard and is limited to there. It happened at what is called common (common in classical sense like in middle ages europe) therefore general public of the countries around have right to know what is going on.

WTF is this all about:

Beyond Pathetic goon squad and a couple of USCG puppets blocking a CBS crew from taking video of oil contaminated Louisiana coastline?!?!?

This is what I have been hearing for weeks here in New will not be able to get near the oil, BP and CG are requiring badges to operate out there, the press is being held on a short lease.

Beyond Pathetic doesn't own the god dammned Louisiana coastline. And neither do those swabbies in the Coast Guard. Where the hell is the outrage?!?

You did not deal with Blackwater post-Katrina.

*THAT* was an outrage ! My blood still boils a bit when thinking of them.

And there is a significant reservoir of good will towards the Coasties here.

Best Hopes for Civil Rights,


My blood pressure just sky rocketed. ENOUGH of the BULLSHIT ALL we have is the media to show us wtf is going THEY won't even be allowed to video or take pictures of the beaches where the oil comes in? WHAT COUNTRY ARE WE LIVING IN FOR CHRISTS SAKE????


The United States of Great Briton

JessicainPensacola, Thank you for your expression of outrage! Makes me feel a little less like I'm not the only person who just doesn't buy the non ending bullshit we are being fed.

Same thanks go out to the Alan, OFM, Ghung and a few others around here.

Info containment and oil dispersal, instead or the right way to run a railroad. Someday both messes will be cleared up, but not entirely, nor soon.

Before going ballistic, I checked the CBS web site and could not find any mention of the incident. Not saying it did not happen, but would feel more comfortable with the Huffington Post article if there was confirmation from CBS.

Maybe someone can find more collaborating information.

checking out facts and sources before jumping to wild ass conclusions...jeez you should be a journalist


Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on Wednesday lashed out at BP for hiding the true extent of its now four-week-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and demanded that the oil company and the Coast Guard make a live video feed from the source of the leak continuously available to the public.

UPDATE: BP has relented and will release a live video feed of the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a press release from Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.). The video is expected to be posted to sometime tonight reports the press release

Seems true, I saw it when it first aired.

Would have been nice to see some more pushback from the news crew though, and the footage seems a bit rushed.

Anyway, here's a current, working link.

Sorry...I gotta call BS on this one.

The Coast Guard does not answer to BP. There are no "BP rules" in the Gulf.

If there are journalists being chased out, it is coming from WAY higher on the food chain.


Yeah, I would not expect the CG would behave as implied. And that little scene is kind of odd.

But they did air that and I just wanted to help out with the link.

did not mean to lash out at the link...thanks for posting

Lashing out at the content.

To me this is like Goldman Sachs saying that they only sold all those CDO's because Big Oil made them do it...


Can't wait to hear the Q and A about this at the next press conference.


i read it on the cnn website yesterday--kinda disheartening that it is gone.

Kind of hard to tell by the picture but I wouldn't say they're flowing any more than 5 million cubic feet of gas/day.I don't think the insertion tool was designed to capture most of the gas,to keep from freezing off( i'd be wary of flaring in the middle of a gas/oil slick anyway)I don't understand why they can't measure their fluid returns on the drillship and vessels they are shipping fluids to though,I thought that seemed a little dodgy.I also wonder why the don't just get a certain well cementing/stimulation and service company to come in and frac it,nobody sands off(stopping flow due to frac sand)a well quite like big red,keep on hustlin'!

If you are trying for a visual estimate don't forget that at 5,000 feet the gas is compressed by a factor of 150 compared with its surface volume.

Also an ROV camera is normally an ultra wide angle lens so any movement is "accelerated" when it leaves the center of the viewing area. Wonder if Professor Purdue allowed for this in his pixel measurements?

I think they are getting good measurements on what they are able to recover but its probably a small fraction of the actual leakage. But then any contained recovery is an improvement.

Loved the song - goes in my permanent collection.

Shelburn, I thought BP said 12 MMCFD of gas flowing with 3000 BOPD. I will be interested to hear what the real flow is and how much they can ramp it up. I have talked to my old buds who work the offshore and have given their thoughts.

(Some people did not realize the video from the 17th was when the tool was inserted but not collecting).

You posted the other day about the believing that maybe the possibility of success with the top kill is marginal. In addition to making sure everything is in good shape and they get two more more pressure readings I still think they want to see how the tool works and are looking at perhaps resizing the new one they have been working on. Also, they have been looking at a hot tap.
My guess, having been in groups similar to the one in Houston is that some or many there are really nervous about top kill and for sure junk shot. If somehow they were able to get a high percent of the flow by a collection device there is certainly a school of though that says to leave it at that.
That bent riser is really under stress. I wonder if they are looking even harder at what happens if it gives; how to get ready to place a replacement BOP or a valve, the time it would take, and the chance they cannot succeed. I get the feeling they are gun shy. Just my thoughts. (Oh. I just have a feeling they would not have tried the insertion tool if they thought the flow was the size some have suggested). Of course could be none of those things)

The flow is going to continue to migrate from the end of the riser to the BOP leak. The leak by the BOP already had three holes venting a few days ago when that video they released was shot. What is easier - traveling a mile up and down through the riser or venting right at the source? The longer the leak continues the higher the possibility it will all be venting at the BOP. I am sure they are trying to come up with a way to install a valve there, but that seems a particularly hard task to me.

The insertion tool has a fixed delivery capability and the ability to control the flow. They may try a larger one, but the situation is in flux. They do seem to be shy about the top kill. Is there a risk to the well from this operation? (that is, could it make the problem worse? Not talking about the situation with the BOP here, just the well)

Early on, the (tiny, undated) picture of the top of the BOP showed no leak at all. Now it's massive.

Sorry Mr.Shelburn I was trying for a dirty gas rate from the drillship's flare,thank you for the info though.In this youtube video the well looks like its coming on a bit stronger,10-12 mmscfd wouldn't be an unreasonable estimate but it's only a a couple of minutes of video,not 24 hrs.Shouldn't be any flare cause the well should've been killed by now,very dissapointing.I understand there's extenuating circumstances but there should have been a plan in place for an underwater leak to actually fix it underwater.On any sour wells(land) we always were required to have an esd(emergency shutdown device) Are they required on U.S leases?They should be standard on all maritime wells

Scientists Fault Lack of Studies in Response to Gulf Oil Spill


Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.

The scientists assert that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have been slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean. They are especially concerned about getting a better handle on problems that may be occurring from large plumes of oil droplets that appear to be spreading beneath the ocean surface.

The scientists point out that in the month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the government has failed to make public a single test result on water from the deep ocean. And the scientists say the administration has been too reluctant to demand an accurate analysis of how many gallons of oil are flowing into the sea from the gushing oil well....

...Rick Steiner, a marine biologist and a veteran of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, assailed NOAA in an interview, declaring that it had been derelict in analyzing conditions beneath the sea.

Mr. Steiner said the likelihood of extensive undersea plumes of oil droplets should have been anticipated from the moment the spill began, given that such an effect from deepwater blowouts had been predicted in the scientific literature for more than a decade, and confirmed in a test off the coast of Norway. An extensive sampling program to map and characterize those plumes should have been put in place from the first days of the spill, he said....

...Given the complex operations going on at the sea floor to try to stop the flow, “introducing more equipment into the immediate vicinity would represent an unacceptable risk,” [said BP spokesman Andrew Gowers]. Thad W. Allen, the Coast Guard admiral in charge of the response to the spill, said Wednesday evening that the government had decided to try to put equipment on the ocean floor to take accurate measurements. A technical team is at work devising a method, he said. “We are shoving pizzas under the door, and they are not coming out until they give us the answer,” he said....

roccman - a few threads back you said something like 'the story is good if schlumberger doesn't deny it completely'

this article confirms them leaving the day of the explosion:

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19 (Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N), the world's largest oilfield services company, said on Wednesday it had a crew on the Deepwater Horizon that departed only hours before the explosion and fire that engulfed the rig.

"On the morning of April 20, 2010, BP notified the Schlumberger crew that it could return to its home base in Louisiana," Schlumberger said in a statement, which a spokesman for the company confirmed by phone.

one hopes bp will finally be taken off the job.

and, all you bp apologistas who keep telling us that 'no engineer would put a ship at risk' need look no further for an example.

many people at bp are very skilled and hardworking. a few are giving us cockmamie plans like 'top hat' and 'junk shot'. the management needs to be removed, now.

Um, the story went that BP called in Schlumberger the morning of April 20th to do a CBL test and told Schlumberger couldn't leave until they finished their job (no helicopters for the rest of the week), but Schlumberger guys said hell no and called in their own chopper and left for fear of there own safety around 4pm.

This story says that Schlumberger was there for wireline services and finished up april 15th and were then just on standby and left on 11am that morning on a BP helicopter. ITS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY!!!

Jesus Christ man, atleast read what was written.

jesus christ, bp has a dedicated misinformation campaign going:

you read it:
On the morning of April 20, 2010, BP notified the Schlumberger crew that it could return to its home base in Louisiana," Schlumberger said in a statement, which a spokesman for the company confirmed by phone.

The crew departed the rig at about 11:00 a.m. on April 20 on one of BP's regularly scheduled helicopter flights, Schlumberger said. The explosion occurred at about 10:00 p.m. that night, and the rig sank two days later, which led to a massive oil spill off the Gulf Coast. [ID:nN19188461] (Reporting by Braden Reddall, editing by Bernard Orr)

that's the date right up there, yes? 4/20? do you remember that? your children will, if they are lucky enough to survive your parenting.


Please, would someone explain to him why this is not confirmation of the story that Alan presented.

I'm getting too old for this shit.


I didn't want to offer some inside information until SLB made a statement. My source confirmed that the dispatcher had transported a total of 23 hands back in from the rig that afternoon. Normal procedure at this point of the operation: as I said earlier at this point it's a big rush to pack up and get on the boat (or chopper).

OTHO did the SLB express concerns to the company man about hole conditions? Do know. Was the lead SLB engineer concerned about the safety of his crew? Don't know. But eventually all the hands on board will be questioned under oath and state exactly what their thoughts were on all subject matters the day of the blow out. For obvious legal reasons I wouldn't expect such statements to come out from any source until folks are sworn in.

One source stated that SLB left their wireline equipment on-board as personnel left.

Also that CBL was not run. BP company man stated that pressure tests were more reliable than CBL so no real need for a CBL (cement bond log).

And only one of three planned cement plugs was in place when seawater displaced mud.

Can you confirm, from your knowledge of industry norms, if:

1) It is normal to leave equipment behind (I suspect yes, boats are cheaper than helos) ?

2) Are CBLs considered "nice to have" but pressure tests are the "gold standard" and good enough to stand on their own ? (I suspect not)

3) Is it normal to rely on just one cement plug when mud is pulled ? (I suspect not)

We appear to have slightly different data points/sources that generally agree but differ on specifics. Yours may be closer to first hand than mine.

Best Hopes for truth,


So far the only general agreement that is public knowledge is that SLB was on the rig, which is no big revelation unto itself. Everything else appears to be speculation or information which a source has revealed to Rockman and the rumors flying around New Orleans appear to be just that, RUMORS.

11am and 4pm are vastly different and critical times that stories disagree on.

The rumors are appearing from exactly the places that one would expect the truth to start bubbling out from; senior off-shore professionals with extensive contacts in the industry.

Veracity, especially in details, begins to fade as one gets further from first hand. A fact of life.

These are not fabrications cut from whole cloth in Peoria or Nigeria.

At a minimum, they are of interest because of who is repeating them.

Certainly not enough to convict BP in a court of law, ATM.


Alan -- Yes...the equipment is shipped by boat and the personnel almost always flown by chopper especially from Deep Water jobs. As far as CBL's go: my personal opinion - they are usefull but interpretaion is not easy. I've seen every permutation: good CBNL bonds and bad cmt; bad CBL bond and good cmt, etc. If I'm responsible for a $200 million hole hole (let alone the environment and lives of the hands) I would run CBL AND do pressure tests until I was 100% confident the well bore was stable. I could go with just one bottom plug and then displace IF I were 100% confident of the cmt job. But I would make damn sure the well was being closely monitored for flow as I displaced. That's the saddest part of the story if the "facts" are correct: even if the cmt failed they could have seen the flow back and either stop displacement and pump a pill or, worse case, shut the well in, bull head a kill pill and prevent the blow out.

I also thot that I had seen (prior to the SLB rumor being posted) that a CBL had been scheduled but canceled at the last minute. Speculation on this here board was that CBL's in nitrogen cement were hard to interpret....

Does anybody know if one was actually scheduled?

toll -- all CBL's are difficult to interpret. Sometimes more art than science. And not uncommonly wrong. But it's a relative cheap and risk free log to run compared to most other logging ops.

Rock - is that first OTOH statement "do know" or "don't know"?

I wonder if it would somehow be possible to inject some sort of super-frozen chemical like liquid nitrogen into the well and freeze it solid? That would stop the flow. Some sort of device could freeze an appropriate length and once the flow was stopped the applicator could keep going deeper and apply cement.

Unfortunately, they can't get any sort of device INTO the well.

ALSO unfortunately, it's REALLY HARD (some might say impossible) to freeze a fluid that's FLOWING at a HIGH TEMPERATURE (I've heard temperatures ranging from 200-400 deg F)

I'm not sure you're right there. If you remember you've already seen examples of hydrate formation in pipes with crude moving at phenomenal velocities. Reactions like liquid nitrogen flash freezing occur at a molecular level. Those reactions, like the hydrate, happen at rates and levels beyond that you might regularly imagine. It might even work in the Blowout Preventer.

The oil should be hot and under high pressure as it pass through the BOP and out of the first leak in the riser just above the BOP. The oil and gas escaping from the second, larger leak further along the riser should be cooler. This is where the methane hydrates plugged the dome when BP attempted to lower it over the leak. If the leak was plugged at the second location, the increased pressure may cause other leaks to form in the damaged riser.

The bad press is starting to flow like oil from a high pressure pipe:

Worsening Gulf oil spill overwhelming Coast Guard:

"The Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, said that despite the siphoning, the spilled oil is spreading and now stretches from western Louisiana to Florida's Key West. The extent of the spill was straining even the substantial resources deployed for one of the worst ecological disasters in recent history, he said.

Allen said the approximately 20,000 people now working to prevent the spill from reaching land were struggling to deal with an environmental threat that he called "omni-directional and almost indeterminate" in size. He said federal disaster plans had been formulated to deal with far more localized spills.

"We're dealing with something that's more complicated than any spill I've ever dealt with," Allen told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. "The national system did not contemplate that we would have to do all of this at once."

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration widened its no-fishing zone to cover 19 percent of the Gulf, or 45,728 square miles, and its head, Jane Lubchenco, told a news conference that "a light tendril of oil" is spreading eastward and approaching the loop current, a powerful warm-water current that could drag the oil around Florida and into the Gulf Stream that flows up the Atlantic coast.

Lubchenco said the current would dilute much of the oil into thin strips, and some scientists have warned that these strips could cause major damage to the extensive coral reefs that hug Florida's southern coastline."

BP withholds oil spill facts — and government lets it:

" WASHINGTON — BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, hasn't publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers' exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude over the gulf, even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe.

Moreover, the company isn't monitoring the extent of the spill and only reluctantly released videos of the spill site that could give scientists a clue to the amount of the oil in gulf.

BP's role as the primary source of information has raised questions about whether the government should intervene to gather such data and to publicize it and whether an adequate cleanup can be accomplished without the details of crude oil spreading across the gulf.

Under pressure from senators, BP released four videos Tuesday, but it hasn't agreed to better monitoring.

The company also hasn't publicly released air sampling for oil spill workers although Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency in charge of monitoring compliance with worker safety..."

BP told feds it could handle oil spill 60 times larger than Deepwater Horizon
By Ben Raines
May 19, 2010, 5:00AM

"In its 2009 exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, BP PLC states that the company could handle a spill involving as much as 12.6 million gallons of oil per day, a number 60 times higher than its current estimate of the ongoing Gulf disaster.

In associated documents filed with the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the company says that it would be able to skim 17.6 million gallons of oil a day from the Gulf in the event of a spill.

As of Tuesday, BP reported recovering 6 million gallons of oily water since the ongoing spill began four weeks ago. BP spokesman Tom Mueller said that only about 10 percent of the skimmed liquid was oil, which would amount to about 600,000 gallons of oil collected thus far.

Mueller also said via e-mail Tuesday that "the spill has stayed about the same size or even shrunk on the water as a result of our response efforts.", a website that monitors environmental problems using satellite imagery, reported Monday that the spill had grown to 10,170 square miles, based on NASA images. John Amos, head of Skytruth, told the Press-Register then that the spill had approximately doubled in size since Friday.

BP did not respond to questions about the NASA images.

BP's Deepwater Horizon Initial Exploration Plan suggests that the well's unchecked flow would be 6.8 million gallons a day. ..."

Gulf oil spill leak now pegged at 95,000 barrels a day:

" WASHINGTON — The latest video footage of the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico show that oil is escaping at the rate of 95,000 barrels — 4 million gallons — a day, nearly 20 times greater than the 5,000 barrel a day estimate BP and government scientists have been citing for nearly three weeks, an engineering professor told a congressional hearing Wednesday.

The figure of 5,000 barrels a day or 210,000 gallons that BP and the federal government have been using for weeks is based on satellite observations of the surface. But NASA’s best satellite-based instruments can’t see deep into the waters of the Gulf, where much of the oil from the gusher 5,000 feet below the surface seems to be floating.

Federal officials testified in hearings on Tuesday that they were putting together a crack team to get to the bottom of big the spill really is. That effort comes a month after the April 20 explosion that triggered the unprecedented oil spill in deep waters of the United States. Experts say knowing that amount is crucial for efforts to cap the broken wellhead and to monitor and clean up the oil.

Steve Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, earlier this month made simple calculations from a video BP released on May 12 and came up with a flow of 70,000 barrels a day, NPR reported last week. Werely on Wednesday told a House Commerce and Energy Committee subcommittee that his calculations of two leaks that show up on videos BP released on Tuesday showed 70,000 barrels from one leak and 25,000 from the other.

He said the calculation could be off by 20 percent — meaning the spill could range from between 76,000 to 104,000 barrels a day. But Wereley said he would need to see videos that were not compressed and showed the flow over a longer period so that it would be possible to get a better calculation of the mix of oil and gas from the wellhead."

and an interesting one from back on May 1st:

Video shows federal officials knew quickly of potential for massive oil flow in Gulf spill.

"... In it, officials are discussing the search for survivors of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. There is a hand-drawn map of the spill dated April 22. At one point, the video freezes on a sign next to a door that reads, "War Room."

In one scene, officials say that the estimate for the leak in a worst-case scenario is between 65,000 and 100,000 barrels per day. A dry erase board on the wall reads "Estim: 64,000 to 110,000 bbls/day. CNN reported 300,000 gal/day."

The high end of the estimate, 110,000 barrels, is about 4.6 million gallons. At that spill rate, 32 million gallons of oil would enter the Gulf every week. By comparison, the entire Exxon Valdez spill was about 11 million gallons.

Officials estimate current flow from the damaged well at 210,000 gallons a day.

It is unclear from the video what events would have to transpire to raise the flow rate higher.

A confidential NOAA report, dated April 28 and circulated among federal agencies, makes similar projections regarding spill size in a worst-case situation.

It describes newly discovered leaks in the tangle of riser pipe, attributing them to ongoing erosion of the pipe. The riser pipe, in this case about 5,000 feet long, connects the wellhead on the sea floor to the drilling rig on the surface.

"If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked," reads the report.

On Thursday, the day after the NOAA report was circulated, BP officials said they were worried about "erosion" of the piping.

Sand is an integral part of the formations that hold oil under the Gulf. The raw crude rising from the bottom of a well carries sand and other abrasive materials. In effect, the oil is sandblasting the piping as it rushes through with tremendous force, according to petroleum engineers.

"I think we need to be prepared for it to be the spill of the decade," Debbie Payton of NOAA, the meeting's coordinator, says during the NOAA video. ..."

Shows how the attempt to manage and control information has turned out badly - openness from the beginning would have been best in my opinion.

"I think we need to be prepared for it to be the spill of the decade," Debbie Payton of NOAA, the meeting's coordinator, says during the NOAA video. ..."

Shows how the attempt to manage and control information has turned out badly - openness from the beginning would have been best in my opinion.

That, in my humble estimation, would be what I might consider, the understatement of the last month. Even with hindsight being 20/20!

Heavy oil coming ashore in Louisiana.

Jindal, sitting at the edge of an airboat, swept a handheld fishing net through the mess and held it up. It was coated with brown sludge, which had stained the lower shafts of the leafy green reeds sticking up to eight feet out of the water.

"This has laid down a blanket in the marsh that will destroy every living thing there," Nungesser said.

I'm aghast at the fact the oil from this spill made it into the marshlands. There was plenty of time to mobilize by whatever means were necessary to stop the oil from getting to shore.

This is a reflection of the human condition, the ability to be in denial until it's too late. Just a few days ago some Louisiana politician held a press conference and was all heated up about their loss of tourism and fishing when there was no oil on shore - their shores were pristine, he demanded. He was indignant in the extreme. But here we are just a few days later and the heavy oil is lapping up on Louisiana's shores and into its wetlands.

Why is there that grand canyon sized gap in human consicousness between the evidence and the outcome? Here we have all the evidence of peak oil, but there's still those indignant about it even being a concern, and it's the same with global warming, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, desertification, deforestation, ad infinitum. The actual thick oil must be in the wetlands to finally accept the problem completely. The economy will finally have to collapse due to descending production of oil for there to be acceptence of that situation. The Siberian methane will have to release in such massive amounts that it forever changes our weather for there to be a final acknowledement of GW.

How can a specie be smart enough to make all the techno-crap we come up with, but have such a huge gap between the evidence to lead people to a conclusion and the actual realization that yes that eventuation will occur at some point in time? No, its always a complete surprise when it occurs. Oh, my look at all the oil in the marshlands! Who woulda thunk it?!

Bob Shaw of Phoenix, Arizona, asked: "Are humans smarter than yeast?"

Someone should ask Governor Howdy Doody if his opposition to wasteful spending on silly crap like volcano research also applies to oil volcano research.

Denial is a mental condition Earl. This is about money. You noticed that even Fox is interested. The people of South Louisiana will take it on the chin, in the gut, and across the rear end before this is over. We've been "mobilizing" down here for weeks, playing corporate and government ball, getting slick talked, and all the while were being led smoothly down the garden path. Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Erl Dem Ersters and Swimps?

Louisiana, people here will give a certain amount of faith to the establishment-- but when they are crossed watch out.

Louisiana, people here will give a certain amount of faith to the establishment-- but when they are crossed watch out.

Perhaps. But if past disasters are an indication......

Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Erl Dem Ersters and Swimps?

Thanks for the levity. Sometimes on TOD when discussing stuff like this it's good to get a good rant out, but then find something to laugh about.

Here is a presentation about the biodiversity in the deep waters of the Gulf. Some temperature vs. depth data given.

Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Multiple Plumes
By roger_rethinker May 20, 2010 (posted to The Oil Drum)
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is different from all previous blow-outs because of four separate unusual or unique aspects of this particular blowout:
1. The gas: oil ratio (GOR) in this well is reported to be about 3000, which places this between a typical gas well and a typical oil well. The high amount of gas at the high temperature and pressure of the reservoir means that the properties of the reservoir must be understood as a supercritical solution which I here term petrogas. It is highly probable that there is no phase boundary within the reservoir, and that the composition of the reservoir is essentially uniform.
a. The supercritical nature of the petrogas persists all the way up the drill pipe to the seabed (13000 feet). The 13000 foot rise of the supercritical petrogas is a nearly adiabatic expansion against gravity. In essence, the work to lift the petrogas 13000 feet is performed by pressure-volume work done as the petrogas expands and cools coming up the drill pipe.
b. The expansion and cooling of any supercritical solution reduces the solvent power. It is possible that the least soluble components of the crude oil (asphaltenes) will precipitate out of solution during the 13000 foot nearly adiabatic rise of petrogas from the reservoir to the BOP. This implies that the material entering the BOP could perhaps be phase separated into a supercritical methane-based solution, and liquid tarry droplets containing at least a portion of the asphaltenes. Most of the oil is still contained in the supercritical methane-based phase (at 8000-9000 psi) when it enters the blow out preventer (BOP)
2. Most of the pressure drop going from the reservoir to the environment occurs very fast, in milliseconds as the supercritical methane-based petrogas, and possibly a tarry liquid phase as well, passes through an orifice (a severe flow restriction) at the BOP which is partially closed. In the Horizon Spill, the pressure of the oil goes from 8000-9000 psi before the orifice to 2650 psi right after the BOP according to Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard on May 15 (
a. The sudden reduction of pressure must produce a phase separation just downstream of the orifice, with most of the heavier molecules condensing out to form a liquid phase, and most of the methane and a lot of lighter fractions staying in the gas phase.
b. This is sort of a Joule-Thompson expansion, but because it results in formation of a liquid phase, it is expected to produce a temperature increase due to the heat of vaporization that is released.
3. The environmental pressure at the ocean bottom is around 2225 psi. Expansion to this pressure rather than to atmospheric pressure has a major effect on the resultant phase separation. Although the gas phase formed downstream of the BOP orifice is subcritical, it is still fairly dense and has solvent properties. Right after the BOP, it is likely that a major portion of C6-C12 molecules will remain in the hot gas phase. The pressure right after the BOP is still about 400 psi above the local sea water pressure, and the flow is trapped inside a damaged and twisted riser pipe. There are two escape routes from the damaged riser pipe.
a. A small leak is just above the wellhead where the kinked riser pipe lays over onto the seabed. On April 15, it was estimated that 15% of the effluent from the blowout was exiting this hole (this fraction of the total flow has been increasing since then). The material blowing out of this hole has had very little time to cool. Insofar as there is very little time between the BOP orifice and the first leak into the ocean just above the riser, the phase structure and partitioning of components between the phases at the first leak from the riser pipe is expected to be very similar to the properties immediately downstream of the orifice. If the asphaltenes phase separated from the petrogas on the 13000 foot rise through the drill pipe, they are likely to survive as a third distinct phase at the first leak.
b. The second leak from the collapsed riser pipe is about a mile away from the BOP. The two phases formed at the BOP orifice will cool significantly during passage through the collapsed riser pipe, and they will remain in contact for a goodly while. I think it is very likely that if asphaltenes did phase separate from the supercritical methane-based petrogas while it rose the 18000 feet to the BOP, they will re-dissolve into the hot liquid phase as the liquid phase moves along the mile long riser pipe.
4. The majority of the total methane entering the ocean will be in the high pressure gas phase, though some will be dissolved in the oil phase too. Unlike spills at low depth, the pressure at the Deep Horizon spill is well above the pressure required to form methane hydrate [46(H2O)•8(CH4)]. The spill itself will likely heat the water too much for methane hydrate to form near the leaks. As the plume carrying the methane mixes with more cold sea water, it will likely become cold enough for some methane hydrate crystals to form. Crystallization of the methane hydrate will release more heat. One aspect of the plume is that it contains warmed water; it is not as if petrogas bubbles need only rise within a vertically stationary water column; there is a plume of warm water that also is rising, at least for a while. I expect a lot of the methane to eventually precipitate out as methane hydrate “snow.” This snow will probably rise, and dissolve into the water rather than make it to the surface as bubbles. Although methane hydrate is more compressible than ordinary ice, it is not going to be denser than sea water at one mile depth.

I TRIED to follow what you were sayin' but have to admit to swimming beyond my depth for parts of it.

It MIGHT have answered one question I've had, but I'd like to confirm it with you if possible:

In the videos from the ROVs showing the leaks, the flow at the riser kink LOOKS radically different from the flow at the end of the riser. I've been trying to figure out why there don't seem to be any gas bubbles in the flow out of the kink, while the flow out the end of the riser seems to be very clearly separated into two separate phases.

From your treatise, I get the impression that the methane gas is certainly in the flow out of the side of the riser at the kink, it just hasn't had time to separate out into visible-sized bubbles.

If I've got the gist of it, thank you. You certainly don't owe me anything, but if I've missed something, I'd sure appreciate any further help in understanding.

Is it just me or does the equation [BP + USCG = East India Company + Royal Navy] seem more reasonable?