Live Comment Thread with Top Kill Video

The NPR "live" feed is posted below; the WKRG feed is posted "under the fold" (click "there's more" below). It is the same as the BP feed, which can be found here, but it seems pretty dicey and keeps going offline.

Edit: This video is being moved below the fold (Thursday am), because another copy of it is being provided above, and this comment thread is getting very long. Please redirect the conversation to this thread: Cheers.

Anybody notice that the coupler connecting the hose to the choke side of the BOP seems to be canted to the right now? I guess there's some tolerance for movement. Just an observation.

I believe the PBS/NPR feed is from 7 hours ago.

They moved around to show the choke side of the BOP. The choke flange is angled.

I got you. I just remember it being straight up earlier.

This video shows ROV operations to prepare the flanges. You can see that the kill is straight and the choke is angled.

I thought of the following:
What is the probability that one of the relieve wells also encounter a blowout?
Any thoughts on this matter?

I'm sure they sent somebody to town to get a BOP that works first. They wouldn't want to look foolish.

Too late for that!

It's been just over 2.5 hrs since the Top Kill operation started. While it is far too early to predict the outcome, it is certainly not too early to congratulate the engineering group for getting this far!

Good job guys, we are all praying with you for a successful result.


Good job everybody who has been sweating in the 'war room'. Either Forbes or WSJ reported that there are almost 500 people working 12 hr. shifts...70ish companies. All the major deepwater operators included - and we already know that the service co's are all represented.

It's too bad that that kind of stuff doesn't get more widely publicized....might give everybody out there an idea of how tough a nut this really is, and how much is actually being done on it.

OTOH the PR guys might just be afraid of scaring people....or it's not exciting enough for MSM.

Have you seen a list of contractors? I see Aker Solutions on the video. I was wondering if Acergy had a hand in it.

No...'all' wrt the service co'swas probably too broad. My I don't know who 'all' of them are.

RE: ROV's..have seen Oceaneering and Akers, but haven't been watching that much.

I just know about the major type guys for service co's.. Schlumberger, Halliburton, BJ Services.

Mud/gas mixture seems to be comming out of several holes now...
Or is it just oil and is the ROV cam distorting the colors?
Seem to be a lot more pressure than before.
Top Kill pressure?

You think there's gas in with that mud? I don't see the white gassy jet that I've seen from the riser effluent.

That was the dispersant that they were injecting at the riser.

The fluid that's gushing out of the BOP looks much lighter in color now...mud?

There was a definite change in color, and shortly after that an increase in the speed of the flow out of the leaks, and while I recognize that there is a lot of color change due to location, lenses etc, it is reasonable to assume that what you are now seeing is mud. (And has been for over an hour). That it is coming out without much change in pattern shows that the BOP is holding under the pressure, and what they are now doing is filling the well with mud. Probably won't see much change now for an hour or two, and then the well should be full, and we'll see what they intend doing next.

I'm sticking this comment up here because of the number of new comments we are getting, but just to note at about 9 pm, that you can no longer see the feed because mud, being heavier than water, is falling back around the well, and obscuring the view. (Oil and gas were lighter and so kept rising).

But before the view was obscured it did appear that the plumes of mud coming out of the riser were smaller than earlier and not moving as fast, leading me to suspect that the well might now be full of mud, and that they are reducing the pressure to see if the well is under control. Alternately, since this was just a short glimpse, they might have been just checking to see how the well was doing before pumping some more.


Most drilling mud is medium gray in color so I would say yes.

From what I have understood, the mud should have quite a bit higher density than water. I would expect it to follow a parabolic path like a stone thrown up in the air. But I have no knowledge here.

For the BOP-top leaks, I think the pressure drop/velocity through the riser wall will break up the mud into some pretty small particles and mix 'em pretty intimately with the water. I don't know what shape the trajectory will take, but I'd be surprised to see it be parabolic. I think the viscosity of the water in the area will control the trajectory and we'll see it more or less "go with the flow" once the initial velocity leaving the riser is scrubbed off.

At the end of the riser, where the mud has had a little more time to coalesce before it's ejected, we may see more parabolic trajectories.

And the pressure of the plume looks down a fair bit.
Is this a sign the kill may work?

where are you getting a vid of the plume?

Right now directly from the BP feed.

Sorry. I meant the riser plume. Misunderstood you.

It's the npr video above, if current (time is wrong).

The mods should really pull down the NPR vid. It's just confusing people. They are playing pre recorded stuff mixed with the live and selling it all as live. Bad Journalism. Does any other MSM have "live" vid of riser right now? Guess NPR has an exclusive... and purple monkeys just flew out my butt. ;)

What is the predicted outcome on the riser leak (the main leak). Are they expecting that to switch over to mud, or will that choke off and cease while the top kill operation is still underway? IOW can we use live footage from the riser leak as an indication of success in the top kill operation?

Looks like a lot of mud coming from the riser.

The leak at the riser end looks diminished while the leaks at the riser kink @ BOP look like Armageddon. These are scientific terms! Anyway, thoughts?

Looks like the moment of truth is at hand. I'd guess that's mostly mud coming back out of the top of BOP, as they force much more of it into the BOP kill and choke lines (below this point). It's inevitable that *some* of the mud will come out this way, but we have no way of knowing at this point what fraction of the total mud flow this represents. Hopefully, that's only a very small percent of it. But as I'm looking at the video right now, it seems to be worsening...or maybe it's my imagination.

The purpose of the "junk shot" would have been to clog and foul the pipe in this area, so as to reduce the amount of mud leakage out of the BOP. I suppose, if these leaks actually do represent a significant fraction of the total mud flow into the BOP, they might stop the "kill" operation for a while and give that "junk shot" a try.

From my understanding, I don't think they have to stop the kill operation to add some "junk" to the flow.

I THINK it's just a matter of switching a couple of valves to divert the flow past/through the "junk" hopper.

Sorry, i can't see any improvement yet. Undoubtably, numerous monitoring sensors have been incorporated into this contraption. Since we obviously can't see the data does anyone have any info on just who is collecting the data and making the decisions. The sec of energy is there. the chief of engineering for BP is there. Who else? What should we be looking for as an indicator of success? no ejection or clear ejection? It occurs to me that unless some one can see the gauge or sensor readings it is absurd to limit comments. There are lots of folks like me who just want it to stop.

Once they consider that the well is full of mud they will likely back off the pump pressure that is injecting mud into the well. They will monitor the pressure in the well as they drop the inflow pressure down, and watch to see, as the pressure falls, if there is any increase in pressure from down hole. If they can take the pressure of the pumps all the way down to ambient (which is under 5,000 ft of sea water, and is therefore around 2,400 psi) and stop injecting fluid, and nothing changes on the pressure gages, and there is no flow out of the well, then the well will have been brought under control.

BP comments under their ROV cam:
"Throughout the extended top kill procedure – which may take up to two days to complete - very significant changes in the appearance of the flows at the seabed may be expected. These will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole. BP will report on the progress of the operation as appropriate and on its outcome when complete."

Is this also your experience? That it will take a day or 2 to complete a kill?

Also: changes in flows right now doesn't seem to give us much info...

thank you for that very good info. As I asked before, Who exactly do you think is THEY? what is the normal protocol in situations like this? Please forgive my ignorance.

The pressure gauges are the key to seeing if the kill is working; the live video feed is just for the mass media (and us). What we are trying to do from what is supplied video is like trying to guess what speed your car is travelling from looking out of the window, the professional way is to look at the speed gauge on your dashboard. The one observation that can be made is that the BOP has not failed under the extra injection pressure (no massive increase in flow), so the kill is working, it is just a matter of how much time, 2 hours or 2 days.


That's one hell of a pressure washer they've built.

I am looking at the top image at about 4:05 PM Central time. It seems to be a consistent grey/tan color, unlike the mixed gray and black seen in the past. I am assuming that this is a mud/oil/gas mix, and that this picture is of the riser at the top of the BOP.

One question: what is the time zone used by the ROV video? Is it Central Daylight Time, GMT, or?

Thanks to all those posting information.

When it's live, it appears to be on Central time.

What mud weight are they using?
Is it just me or is more mud being pushed out of the well than going in? (No sense of scale.)
How is the reservoir held back while cement is introduced?

I believe I have seen it reported that the mud weight is 16 lb/g which was the weight of the mud at TD.

What are we looking at when the video with at least three separate plumes is displayed? Armageddon seems like a pretty accurate description because the plumes seem to be coming out of ripped holes in metal.

Please don't use that word. Armageddon. Obscenity, I still have hope. Despair, is easily triggered in these matters. From what I have red the very best minds we have are on this one. every connection and flow route is being monitored. We are 60 days from a relief well. The damage that will occur in that time is not be contemplated. I will just go pour a stiff one and hope for ........ But this event has allowed me to look over the edge, and I am from here on out opposed to any off shore drilling. the costs are just to high.

I am from here on out opposed to any off shore drilling. the costs are just to high.

heh heh, wait until "the cost" hit your own pocket before making that claim.. Offshore drilling is significant part of oil production.. The world used about 88mmbbl or oil every day, and offshore drilling produce about 10% +- of the overall production.. Want to guess how much oil will cost? When oil price was 140 per bbl, we were projected to be short about 4 mbbl a day.. Actual shortage of 7-8 mmbbl a day will get us to $6-7 a gallon of gas and a ww recession induced by high energy cost... Will it matter to your posiiton if you will loss your job because of no offshore drilling? It is an issue of voting your pocket book and I am not willing to do mine (even though I am retired)..

retired? Me too. 20 years. One of the great things about this incident is that it demonstrates that it is no longer a matter of what you are willing to do with your pocketbook. Suggest you look at historical and current energy data for a few hours. It will provide the lubricant for you to get your head out of your ...

It will provide the lubricant for you to get your head out of your ...

heh heh, no need to name calling.. CBS poll shows that the country is divided on whether we, as a country, support offshore drilling or not.. And once people understand their pocket book issue, more people will want to tighten up safety regulation rather than banning offshore drilling.. What if stopping offshore drilling force you off retirement and have to find a job in the local walmart? would you still support banning it 8-))?

yup, and once folks realize that there ain't an infinite amount of petroleum on a finite planet they will understand what i am referring too. sorry, got to move on. Some other time maybe.

Tighten up safety regulations? That was done back in the early 80's after the LAST blowout that polluted the Gulf, and the Republicans got rid of them eventually, leading to this disaster.

Safety regulations are only as good as the enforcers, and when the Republicans get in they do as much as possible to stop enforcing regulations. It would be far better to STOP drilling, by getting off the oil addiction ASAP.

I'm looking at the feed now at 2:03 AM on June 27th, and it doesn't look as though the mud or whatever it is is slowing down at all. I'm hoping they get it sealed, but am not confident at all. After all, what they are doing is the same thing they did way back 30 years ago. There has been no decent progress in safety at all.

heh heh, wait until "the cost" hit your own pocket before making that claim...
... Will it matter to your posiiton if you will loss your job because of no offshore drilling?

It won't matter to me because I lost my job over a year and a half ago at age 55, and was forced to hire myself, in other words, start my own business. So you won't get any sympathy from me and I will be more than happy to do every thing in my power to make people like you pay the real price of oil. I say no more free ride. I want you and everyone else who continues to be in denial of reality to be hit really really hard in the pocketbook. $6-7 a gallon gas is way too cheap. If it were up to me I'd add another $5.00 a gallon tax on top of that to be able to fund incentives for alternatives and clean up funds.

When I designed this graphic I hadn't yet understood the true cost of oil... The cost of an ecosystem has to be added to that price. You, me and everyone else must pay that price. What? You don't like that idea?! Tough! BTW, I think I need to add a dead oil soaked bird to my design...

Ride a bike or take a hike

Pretty sure that's where the riser crimped, just above the BOP, when the Deepwater Horizon sank.

Would I be right in thinking the well is still out of control if oil is still coming from the broken end of the riser along with the mud?

Six different shots of the operation now showing on CNN Live.

There is some amount of oil held in the riser. I don't know how long it'll take, but for at least a while there will be some of this oil/gas entrained in the mud flow out the end of the riser.

HERE are 6 different live cam views...on one screen

The BOP riser video feed looks like it stopped, and there is a pop-up window saying there is a VPN problem.

I guess they are opening a ticket with the help desk :o)

Lets just hope they're not running their op on Microsoft products... "The program mudpump.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close... would you like to report this problem to Micro$oft?"


Are you sure you want to run mudpump?
please enter super secret admin password.

(blue screen of death)

mud screen of death


I bet ROV2 is the riser. The one where you seen nothing but murk. The mud flow out the riser probably have visibility down to nothing.

They had some connection problems going on with the live feeds. From what i could see, they have a wireless connection, with a cisco security system on it.
After reconnecting the wireless and logging into the vpn, the feeds where up again.
Does any body know how they connect to the mainland?
Is there a wireless network between the ships and the drilling platforms and a central satelite uplink to the mainland?

Sat link or cellular I would guess. Probably Cell.

It's Satelite, too far offshore for cell, also most operators will nor use cell since it does not guarantee bandwidth.


Not really. There is pretty good cell coverage in the gulf these days. I was fishing the canyon this winter and was able to make calls... good signal, too. Hey, and it only cost me $6 bucks a minute. LOL!

Question: Does anybody know if any of the ROVs have probes (GC, Mass Spec, etc.) that they can stick in the flow and measure just how much oil/gas is in the flow now?

I can safely assert, though without definite knowledge, that neither a GC nor an MS has been modified for subsea use. The closest they might have is a fluorometer, which measures fluorescence across a short path length on the ROV and could be used to measure oil. I'm not sure how practical that would be here, as it seems to me the optical sensor would foul pretty much instantly.

Not sure about GCs, but I know they have underwater mass specs. Now if they can work at those depths I don't know. Of course you could always take a grab sample and send it to the surface for testing. I'm sure they have ways of knowing. Was just curious how.

wow. I can find both with Google and am I surprised!

Back - had to leave earlier. I'm sticking with not for the GC and MS because the pressure casings to keep these working at 5000 ft would be something else.

From Suttles: "What you've been observing coming out of the top of that riser is most likely mud," "We can't fully confirm that because we can't sample it.

So I guess they don't have anyway to sample it. Bullshit really. Ask Woods Hole about taking grab samples at depth. The water around the Cayman Trough smokers was sampled at 5000m.

Might it be possible there is not a ROV during this critical operation that can cut away from its core mission to take a sample to the surface; a sample that is not key to knowing if the operation is a success?

It would take an ROV about 3 hours, maybe more to get a sample and bring it to the surface and return to work, I expect they have better things for the ROV to be doing.

There is no room for any other boats and any sampling equipment like grabs will get tangled up in the ROV tethers, the BOP or something. This is not like an open seabed.

The repaired BOP control unit is capable of measuring pressures in the BOP. They should have some flow rate calculations soon - provided they believe the data.

I've got a live-feed going on my website at and a couple of graphics labeling on-screen information. There are several items I haven't labeled because I'm not 100% positive what they mean. Can anyone help me complete the labels? Either here or email me at

MSV Skandi Neptune is the vessel deploying the ROV (MSV = multipurpose support vessel).

Subsea 7 is the name of the subsea contractor operating the vessel.

The long numbers with N and E next to them are the UTM coordinates (in metres) - basically where the ROV is on the map.

The ROV depth below surface is shown in metres, and the altitude (also metres) is showing height above the sea floor.

Thanks, that helps. The depth on the screen I was looking at is in feet, I think: 4,959. I sure hope this is being tried at 16K ft!

It's in the gulf so everything is likely in feet.

UTM will be in US survey feet and depth will be in feet.

My apologies guys - yes they are feet - posting from Madrid at the moment, it was late at night...

I highly doubt this procedure will be successful with the amount of leakage at the top of the BOP. BP was collecting 5mpd and some 15mmcfd from one portion of the leak with their packer tool. You are now on inside the BOP exposed to the entire flow of the leak. With the velocities of fluids coming out of the wellbore and the easy exit path, I don't see how you get mud down the wellbore.

Considering the mud flow path into the BOP seems to consist of two 3-inch pipes (feeding the "kill" and "choke" lines on the BOP), you may be right. How fast can the flow of mud really be in such small pipes, compared to the rate at which mud seems to be leaking out of the top of the BOP and the bent riser tubes? But the inflow of mud is "dense", and I guess we have to hope that makes all the difference.

I think it can only work if the mud has a much higher viscosity than oil. I've posted some calculations elsewhere on this site ( that oil appears to have a kinematic viscosity of 10 centiStokes while some drilling muds may have a kinematic viscosity of 40 cSt. In addition I think that drilling mud becomes more viscous at high shear rates, such as where it's being ejected from the kink at the top of the BOP, but I have no numbers.

Regardless of how fast oil/gas/mud leaks out, as long as they can pump mud at least a little bit faster, some of it has to go down-hole as long as everything on the surface stays intact.

From the inventory of pump horsepower at the surface, I'm pretty confident that, as long as they don't blow a hose connection, they can move more mud than is needed to "supply" the leaks. In addition, although I haven't checked the calculations, I'm also pretty confident that they've got enough mud on hand to keep the pumps supplied for as long as it takes.

If they decide that they're going through the mud too fast for comfort, as I understand things they can turn a couple of valves and introduce some "junk" into the flow. This'll HOPEFULLY slow down those leaks a little.

All the diagrams of the wellhead and BOP that I've seen show a total of four "kill" and "choke" entry points into the main bore: two in the middle of the BOP tower and two more down lower. But all appear to be fed by the same two input lines carrying mud from the surface. Maybe that's not entirely accurate, as it would be very handy if there was one line "reserved for junk", preferably the line nearest to top of the BOP. This would encourage the "junk" to flow upward into the shear ram orifice, where it would do the most good. We don't want the "junk" to be forced down-hole, do we? Let's hope they have something like that going on.

The "junk" is lighter than oil. It won't sink.

Gulf oil plume darker; not good news, expert says
By SETH BORENSTEIN - AP Science Writer


Live video of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows the underwater plume getting significantly darker. A top oil engineering expert says that suggests heavier, more-polluting oil is spewing out.

The color of the oil gushing from the main pipe has changed in color from medium gray to black. Two scientists noticed the change, which oil company BP downplayed as a natural fluctuation that is not likely permanent.

But engineering professor Bob Bea at the University of California at Berkeley says the color change may indicate the BP leak has hit a reservoir of more oil and less gas. Gas is less polluting because it evaporates. Bea has spent more than 55 years working and studying oil rigs.
Published: Tuesday, May. 25, 2010 / Updated: Tuesday, May. 25, 2010 12:09 PM

And this relates to what is happening now, how? Do we have video of the riser showing the color of the effluent? Nope.

That is from yesterday:

CNN is reporting that according to BP there is no news (either good or bad) to report on the procedure.

In a way, doesn't "no news" = "good news"? or at least encouraging news? They're still pumping, the BOP hasn't disintegrated, the ROV cameras are still working, etc.

Lets just hope them don't run out of coffee and cigarettes (and xanax). ;)

Don't you mean coffee, cigarettes and loratab...not xanax? ;)

Well, no news is good news. at least they have not had a blow out. Even if they have identified a weak point in the system and have to pull this rig back up for adjustments I still have hope. another 60 days of this is just not going to happen. I hope.

I think no news is no news. CNN would only have access to spokesman who will be carefully and deliberately neutral until BP decides to have an official statement - good or bad.

Is it just me, though, or is the outflow from the top of the BOP substantially reduced? I recall earlier videos looked much more scary.

Getting some turbidity on the choke side of the BOP.

I think it's just falling down from the top of the BOP above. Perhaps a result of a shift in the current direction. It seems to be clearing some. The camera at the top of the riser kink does not look like anything has changed.

Noticed that. Hope it's just drift from all the mud shooting in the water. Did you notice the mud plume seems to shoot up a ways and than drift back down toward the seabed?... some of it at least.

Oh hell, breach?

Hopefully it's just backwash from another ROV or something....

By "turbidity" do you mean the black shit that started coming out before they cut away to the mud blasters ? If so, I'd concur that yes, there indeed was turbidity.

Hoping the mud exiting from the kink leak is just cascading down the outside of the BOP.

Can't see the BOP at all now. :/

the well daily reports show multiple instances of fluid lost to formation and the wellbore caving in .....

this opens up all sorts of uncertainties .....

1- might fracture the formation DH with too much pressure .....
2- loose mud to thief zones .....
3 -leaves operation open to hiccuping (sudden fluctuations of pressure which can knock up the already busted marine riser package-riser joint at the top of the BOP stack
4- the liner seats are especially under doubt ... i think at least one will cause loss of fluid is a given .....

the well bore schematic I saw on this website posted by someone else shoes serious design flaws in terms of almost seems to me the wellbore plan was drawn up by a on-shore engineer for an off shore well....but then again considering the well took 90 days ....for a ultra deep water rig its safe to assume total running cost of 1 million/day conservatively 90 -100 million plenty of people must've had to sign off on the well bore schematic from the AFE onwards ......

I can tell you most drilling consultants would be hesitant to even consider this wellbore design especially since this was a exploratory well in an untapped reservoir.....and then flushing the well bore with sea water so soon that is just criminal

old drilling saying goes something like " cut all corners, just never downhole"

Some eye opening statements in a WSJ story:


Do you have a link to a full transcript or video of the hearing?


No. I just read the story in the WSJ. It might be on C-SPAN.

Sure is. Thanks.

Does anybody else get the feeling almost like we're in Mission Control in Houston during the suspenseful Apollo 13 ordeal where they are desperately trying to get the astronauts back alive?

Though I am hardly inclined toward hyperbole, I do think that when this whole tense episode is finally over and done with, it just might turn out to be one of those truly defining moments that changes our collective view about energy and what we're willing to pay to keep getting it in the ways we've taken for granted.

Well I did not expect to be spending 4 hours + watching this, but I can't take my eyes off of it.

re: the cloud around the BOP, I recall Tony Hayward warning that clouds may appear and just because you see a new cloud or color change, it doesn't mean anything.

Same here. I got nothing done today. Wife's gonna be pissed when she gets home and no progress has been made on the patio cover. Hell, it is my day off, dammit!

I'm not there and I'm drinking coffee and smoking like a train (and I don't even smoke anymore). Yes, I'd say the tension is think.

Apollo 13 risked 3. 4/20 took 11. Where is Gene Krantz when you need him?

Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking.

Gene wouldn't touch this. lol!

any subsea operation is about the same complexity as a NASA operation ......there are more than 10 ROV's working the well site .....this has never been tried many ROV's ...i bet the ROV techs are sweating crazy ...........this is the most heavily cramped ROV workspace in the world......this many ROV's have never worked in SYNC

i think Oceaneering is doing a heck'va job with this

It seems a lot of bad judgment calls got us into this... but I am truly impressed by the sub-sea operations the last few days. The ROV pilots are amazing. The forethought and engineering that went into cutting/polishing and connecting these 10,000 psi flex lines to the choke/kill valves are top notch. I am always concerned with the 2,200psi oxygen and nitrogen bottles in my shop...10,000psi blows my mind... and the lines are holding.

May God bless the efforts of these men and women working to kill this well.

OUCH!! Given the history of that "heck of a job" line - IN the same part of the country - I would NEVER use it to describe what the ROV operators are doing!!

amen brother. Apollo 13 had 7 astronauts. the lives of literally billions of our fellow creatures is at stake. “I spit upon luxurious pleasures, not for their own sake, but because of the inconveniences that follow them.”

Joule, what makes you think our collective view is going to start receiving consideration? Nothing could be more threatening to the continuance of corporate capitalism. There will be much hand-wringing, a few monkey trials, and another toughening of the regulations. Then deep-water drilling will resume in full. Nothing else is possible, barring a major social upheaval.

This is just a 6-month whirlpool in the status quo.

"Does anybody else get the feeling almost like we're in Mission Control in Houston during the suspenseful Apollo 13 ordeal..."

Somewhat, except that I'm fairly certain that neither Nixon nor anyone in his cabinet said that they were going to keep their boots on the necks of the NASA engineers until they brought Lovell, Swigert, and Haise home.

Those geeks with the sliderules had the support of their government.

Suddenly less leakage at the riser kink...?

Yeah... have a bad feeling something gave way.

Looks to me like the injection rate has been increased.

CNN just reported that BP says things are proceeding alright, and injection will continue for at least another 24 hours.

The jets seem to be oscillating from thicker mud to nearly clear.

it will take some time

Tony Hayward just said on CNN at 6:40 EST, "Everything is proceeding to plan" and noted nothing would be known for 24 more hours.

You know what BP brass and my old dog have in common? They just kinda lie there all day. A detailed progress report that can be interpreted by experts (such as some of the folks here) would be nice.

Hard to count on his honesty today. But here's hoping he's right.

The CNN 6-screen feed has a number of ROVs recently come into view. But 20 minutes ago - when they changed the screen shot - the BOP (I think) suddenly saw a lot of "turbidity". Still can't see much in that view (Screen 2). The ROV moved around quite a bit after the mud started swirling. Now there's a spotlight, but not being familiar with underwater operations I can't ID the view.

Maybe someone here would?

CNN 6-Screens

BOA Deep 1 - Riser kink - 3 spouts

BOA Deep 2 - Was the BOP (I think) - became cloudy, now moved

Viking Posieden ROV 1 - unclear

Viking Poseiden ROV 2 - unclear

Enterprise 1 - shot of a drum-shaped object, seemingly at the top of a large pipe.

Enterprise 2 - as Enterprise 1, close-up (saw mud coming from the drum bottom)

OI3 ROV 1 - ?

OI3 ROV2 - nada

That's what I'm seeing. Can anyone explain what I'm looking at?

A big corporation is trying to fix a fuckup.

What are the three leaks we are seeing right now?

and what is the scale? how large are those leaks in feet or meters or whatever?

that video gives some perspective, I believe the BOP is 60 feet total; don't quote me on that tho.

Those are at the riser at the top of the BOP.

It's hard to read the words on the monitor, but that looks like the 3 leaks off the riser kink. If it is, there is a heck of lot more velocity to the effluent than several days back.

They keep switching cameras on 2 ROVs on either side of the 3 leaks...gauging it better?

all mud, looks good, will sleep now because it needs some time.

Not sure I would agree with "all mud". That velocity is going to erode some bigger holes in that kink before too long. In fact, they used to be just slits in the they are definitely holes.

better sleep now. It is really "all mud", sleep!
Sleep now and when you wake up it will be over.

Sleeping helps.

wish i could sleep now. but advice coming from someone with only 26 hours on this site, I think I will endure a few more minutes. cheers.

It might just be my imagination, but those holes sure look like they are getting larger to me. Interesting that the flow from the 4th hole on the right seems to have stopped. Maybe because the pressure has dropped because the other holes are bigger?

I think that the riser looks like it's starting to split more, too. Especially at the right. Looks like a piece is about ready to break off.

I think that's just the paint flaking off.

I agree that those holes are getting bigger. I have been checking the feed periodically and I swear they are bigger now than a couple of hours ago.

Does it matter though? They don't think the "kink" is obstructing the oil/gas flow much (5-15%), so if the top kill fails they're going to cut off the entire riser and put a cap on it.

Oil Guru Matthew Simmons: It Could Be 24 Years Before The Deepwater Gusher Ends

oh GAWD!! and he suggests that a potential solution is to "drop a bomb down the bore" of the well.

Thankfully, this potential "solution" - which would have disastrous consequences if it actually came to pass - would run into some solid steel obstructions ranging from the kinked riser through the partially-actuated BOP shear rams and then progressing to the 6 5/8" dia drill pipe down-hole if they ever TRIED it.

Wow - if that's a representative sampling of the information available on the mainstream media, I'll stay right here, thank you.

MSNBC has been showing clips of the video periodically for the past couple of hours. Their video is clearer than the one we are seeing here. I'm not sure if they are cleaning up the video or if the compression on the internet-delivered video is "lossy" and lower quality.

But anyway, it appears to me from their video that there is erosion on the horizontal surface of the riser, so it stands to reason that there is erosion occurring on the slits/holes as well.

Question 1: Since the color of the liquid is tan, and I don't see any black, can we assume that the pipe to the reservoir is now blocked by the mud and that oil is no longer escaping?

Question 2: Why does it take so long to get the drilling mud down the pipe if it is being pumped into the pipe at such high pressure? Is it a battle all the way down against the oil/gas and fought inch by inch? BP's animation gave the impression that the mud would go down rather quickly, (though I realize the purpose of the animation was to demonstrate the process, not the speed.)

They essentially want to fill the drill pipe from top to bottom with mud. The mud is significantly heavier than seawater, and the idea is that the weight of the mud will eventually hold back the oil and gas. A sort of delicate balancing act, really.

Once they get the thing stabilized, they can put in a concrete plug. Let's hope that they get to the point where they can do this..

Sure would be interesting to watch the pressure at the BOP. These engineers and techs are amazing.

I'm sure some of the experts here would kill for a set of real time monitoring instruments on screen.

Maybe vapor. A poll for the other doddlebuggers: shelburn et al -- you watching the vids closely? Maybe because I'm a geologist and not an engineer. Thought I'd be hanging in there. Oddly my attitude is the same as when I've been on a rig when we were in a kill mode: go to galley and get a cup of coffee (actually more likely a big bowl of Blue Bell ice cream.) Then just listen and wait. Surprises me a little.

I grew up in Appalachia and when they repaved the state 2 lane highway through my hometown about 10 years ago they had to bring little league bleachers up from the city park to the second (middle) street light. They had that many spectators. The state highway crew had never seen anything like it.

My brother and I still laugh about the guy we heard on the local morning talk radio show "Joe- I thought we were supposed to get 8" of concrete and I went down there and measured it at 10-1/2", what I'm sayin is I thinks we's getting more than our money's worth Joe".

AAh memories.

The older I get the faster I was,


I watched a bit at the beginning and saw that the leakage at the kink increase so they were pumping.

Case of "no news" means "no bad news" - nothing has failed yet, all the hoses holding, valves working, BOP didn't blow off.

BP just said they have been up to 65 bbl/min which is over 93,000 bpd and if you take a wild guess that the leakage doubled from 20,000 bpd to 40,000 bpd that seems to indicate they are getting a lot going down the hole.

Lots of hurry up and wait now.

So I went to surf through the MSM and some internet and came away thoroughly depressed. The level of misinformation and pure BS is incredible.

Then caught as piece with Matt Simmons. I have had great admiration for Matt since the early 1980s as one of the best - no the best - analytical minds and data crunchers in the industry. He was the one who turned me on the Peak Oil and the TOD. That interview just broke my heart.

Think I'll just get drunk and tomorrow morning may have some better info on the top kill.

Nat Geographic is showing something called "Delta Diver" showing Gulf of Mexico divers. Actually pretty realistic if you turn the narration off. If I had ever known how dangerous it would be I'd have never gone there.

A ha perhaps like me you don't care to watch a kill before its time.

Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere but why do the relief wells have to go down to 18,000 feet, i.e. 18,000 - 5,000 = 13,000 feet drilling (i know it's more due to bending round) whereas if they rilled to say 10,000 then 10,000 - 5,000 = 5,00o feet drilling.

tony -- It's a matter for rock pressure. The rock exposed in the RW when it intersects the blow out hole has to match the wild flow. That requires hitting it deep. If it cuts the hole shallow the high pressures in the blow out hole would fracture the shallow rocks and they would lose the RW.

Rock, thanks now it's very obvious. I knew there must be a reason.

Is there any information about the kind of rock or material in the ground at the various depths in the vicinity of the well?

I imagine it cannot all be just sand and gravel all the way down, because the oil would not be there. All the brochures about offshore oil say the oil has collected under an impermeable layer during geological times.

On the other hand I imagine that the layers do not have to be very hard. They are compressed under the weight of the layers above, and even sand becomes kind of rigid when well compressed. Could clay be sufficiently impermeable to prevent a patch of oil from seeping up through it in geological times?

But when a well is drilled, I imagine (remember I am just another layman, I know nothing), the rock or sand will be in direct contact with the void of the well, which will have the pressure of the fluids it contains.

The pressure at the bottom of a column of fluid should be

pressure at the top of the column
+ height of column x density of fluid x acceleration of gravity

The rocks and sands are not exactly fluid, but I imagine that over geological times they adapt in a fluid-like way, making the pressure at the depth of the bottom of the well be in line with the pressure at the bottom of a hypothetical column of fluid with the average density of the rock/sand/whatever.

When a relief well breaks through to an existing well at some point above the oil-carrying formation, there is a column consisting of oil from the formation and up to the point of intersection, and of mud from the point of intersection up to the rig at the sea surface. The total weight per unit base area of the two fluids need to balance the weight of the rock/sand/whatever + sea water over a similar unit base area, except for some slack due to the non-fluidity of the rock. There is some additional slack because the mud is forced into the relief well by the pumps.

The shallower the intersection point, the more of the column consists of low-density oil, and correspondingly less consists of higher-density mud.

Before the relief well breaks into the existing well, the mud has little competition from formation fluids to fill the well (unless the blowout has charged a shallower formation with high-pressure fluids and the formation has good conductivity for the same fluids).

During the top kill, the mud is sinking mostly through the same conduits in the well that are carrying the upwelling oil and gas. This requires that the mud can sink through the oil faster than the oil is flowing up. Parts of the conduit have wider cross sections and other parts have narrower cross sections. The flow velocity must be proportional to the inverse of the cross section, if the total mass of fluid moving across a cross section is the same for all parts of the conduit.

This makes me wonder, what happens if there is a constriction in the conduit a third of the way down to the formation. The flow basically needs to be killed by the pressure/weight of the mud column above this constriction. This may in turn require a high pumping action at the top, with the attendant risk of the mud pressure breaking the casing near the well head, or seeping through cracks in the cementing of the outermost casing and into weak top layers of sand and whatever the top layers of the sea floor is made of. This could rip up these layers and create a crater around the well head, and open a new and wide path for the oil from below to flow through.

Thinking about it a little more, it seems to me that if the pumps are pumping faster than the leaks, then the total volume of gas+oil+mud in the well bore should increase, which would mean that the pressure in the entire column has increased enough to begin injecting fluid into the surrounding formations. That would reduce the flow of oil from the formation into the bottom of the well.

This would mean that the rate of flow past any constriction below the injection point should be small and unrelated to the size of flow above the injection point (at the leaks). In other words, no need to have very high pressure at the top of the column irrespective where the narrowest constriction of the conduit is.

Nat Geographic is showing something called "Delta Diver" showing Gulf of Mexico divers. Actually pretty realistic if you turn the narration off. If I had ever known how dangerous it would be I'd have never gone there.

As a diver who got to work on BOPs, I always thought driving on I95, was, and still is, much more dangerous.

New drinking song...

There's a 100 BOP valves on the well, there's a 100 BOP valves.
Take the ROV down and spin one around...

There's 99 BOP valves on the well


Is that mud leaking from a mud pipe into the BOP. Probably not a big deal, they seem to be watching it and poking it with something.

Anybody know what they're doing with the two ROV's shown in the Enterprise 1/2 feeds?

Poking something with a stick?

The "Black Smoke Monster" has changed to three to four "White Smoke Monsters." Has the main manifold of this plumbing situation ruptered or what?

Please look at the single "black smoke monster" oil "leak" video from this link:

Then, compare it to what we're seeing now. Anybody notice a BIG difference or is it just me? I thought that maybe methane was being flushed out as the cement filled in the well. That may be why we see the three to four jets of light-colored gas emanating from the "manifold." Is this correct or has the "manifold" sprung more "leaks?"

I'm pretty sure the "single "black smoke monster" oil "leak" video" that you link to is the end of the riser.

I'm also fairly confident that the shot with "three to four jets of light-colored gas emanating from the "manifold."" is a shot of the top of the riser kink at the BOP.

so yes, there is definitely a BIG difference, but not an unexpected one.

also... this may seem to be a dumb question but if we're talking about these exotically high pressures, how is the mud supposed to ever even get to the point of control?

i mean, assume for a moment that you have just 1,000psi at the leak points. you would need a solid object with 1,001psi to block it off, right? with two viscous materials i just cant get my head around the concept of one waterfall counteracting another. how can they deliver the mud at 10,000+psi? theres something fundamental i'm failing to grasp here, and if anyone can shed some light on it, i'd appreciate it.

The idea is to overwhelm the leak through the BOP and out the riser with enough volume that pressure will build up in the lower portion of the BOP and begin to force mud down the well. If they can force enough volume down the well the weight of the column of mud will begin to balance the pressure of the gas and oil. If they can force enough down the pressure will equalize and the flow will be controlled/suppressed/stopped. They have a huge volume of of mud on the ships and the whole thing is a bit of a race - the flow of mud up through the BOP will erode the leak path and the riser - so there will be a tendency for the loss rate to increase the longer they go. Perhaps as the mud begins to go down the well they will have to increase the pressure too and that would increase the loss. While the flow from the four slits looks impressive I believe they are still rather small. That pipe should be about 20" across for scale.

That is my take.

The well is pushing up at a certain pressure. This pressure is pushing with a greater force than the column of fluids on top is weighing down, so that's why the fluids are coming out the top. This is because the weight of the column is lighter than the force it's being pushed up with.

Now if we have a fixed column height (such as a well), then the weight/pressure for the column of the same fluid will stay the same. But if we now replace that column with an equally large column of a heavier fluid, the total weight of that column and thus pressure will be larger.

So what BP is trying to do is to pump a heavier fluid into the well (a column of relatively light fluid: Oil & Gas) to increase the pressure (or weight of the column) to match the pressure that the reservoir is exerting on the column. If they succeed in doing this, the pressure from the reservoir will not be strong enough anymore to push the column of fluid up and thus the flow of oil will stop.

You could do this experiment: Connect a pressure gauge to the end of a garden hose. Cap the end, so the pressure will build up. Now read the gauge and climb/walk up somewhere. You'll see that for every meter you elevate the gauge, the pressure will drop by 10kPa (1,5psi if you still use deprecated units). Go up until the pressure relative to the atmospheric pressure is zero (this might be quit high if the pressure is high enough) and open you hose. You'll see that the water won't come out. If you then close it again and go up further, you'll see that the pressure relative to atmospheric will actually be negative up until roughly -100kPa, at which point you'll have a somewhat vacuum. (That is if your garden hose doesn't collapse from the negative pressure and if you're able to go that high: you'll need to go up 10m for every bar of pressure. You could use a heavier fluid, such as mercury and you'll only have to go up 0,7m per bar, but I wouldn't advise that because mercury is toxic.)

Impu == You're intuition is understandable. But instead of a water fall envision pushing your hand across a swimming pool trying to push the water out. Not much chance. Now picture your hand pushing the same water down a 6" trough using the same force. Works better eh? Now push your hand into a 6" pipe with the same force. Much more efficient. And that's the key...efficiency. The mud and oil/NG will mix but not as much givn the confines of the csg. In a normal kill situation this works every time. But you have the well shut in and it's not flowing. That's the unpredictable part: how efficient will the kill pill be? A shutin well at this depth might take only 500 bbls+ to kill. This situation could require 10 or 20 times that much. or more.

My only question is if the engineers have infared or anything to monitor the BOP gauges through all of that muck. Earlier in the day, it was as clear as could be and it was all you could see. Now it's a cloud.

from what i can tell, there looks to be a significant difference in coloration between the plume on the left and the other two. Is this because one plume is predominantly oil and the others are mud or vice versa, or does it reveal anything significant?

from what i can tell, there looks to be a significant difference in coloration between the plume on the left and the other two. Is this because one plume is predominantly oil and the others are mud or vice versa, or does it reveal anything significant?

Presumably it is all one stream of fluid past the holes, so separation would be unlikely. I think the apparent colour differences is probably a result of a lot more light being reflected off the left-most plume, while the others are more in shadow.

Deepest thanks to the knowledgeable crew commenting here, this is riveting stuff. deserves the Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting for facilitating this kind of brainpower.

I am a retired process engineer, have really enjoyed this site. Agree with your comment, BTW your name brought me right back to the 70's and provided some much needed levity as the lyrics started going thru my head....

Coast Guard and BP are supposed to give an update on the top kill efforts at 7:00 Central time.

?Maybe CNN or someone will carry it?

If not just go to the site and watch it live like all the other ones?

If not just go to the site and watch it live like all the other ones?

DVIDS is supposed to...but it shows it starting in an hour instead of 15 minutes..

I snagged this link from gCaptain for a web link for the press conference: If the link doesn't work, it was off the main page of in the upper right area.

Hi everyone,

First, I want to thank you all for your highly informative posts, as well as all the thoughtful discussions I've been witness to.

As cliché as it is, I've been a long time lurker and first poster here.

I haven't seen it mentioned, but based upon the video feed of the mud coming out of the BOP, has anyone noticed that the lower left exit point seems to have grown by a considerable degree over the last few hours?

I'm in computer programming, so I don't know this industry, and beg your pardon for my novice question, but the venting does seem to be more forceful than it was.

Bearing in mind that I know nothing about the particle density of the mud, or pressure characteristics of the BOP's encasing (steel?), in layman's terms, is it possible/probable that the holes seen here are getting bigger, thus causing what appears to be faster ejection of the mud being pumped in, as well as what appears to be a more obtuse angle of ejection of said streams of mud over the past few hours?

So, I was watching for a couple hours, then logged off for an hour or so, and now just logged back in to look at the progress.

My first thought on seeing the video was: wow, those leaks have got BIGGER!

However, it might just be that the ROV is closer than it was before, or the lens zoomed in.

News briefing at 7 pm CDT


MEDIA ADVISORY: Unified Area Command to hold top kill press briefing in Robert, La.

Who: U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry and BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles

What: Unified Area Command briefing to update media on ongoing top kill operations.

Where: Shell Robert Training and Conference Center, 23260 Shell Lane in Robert, La., 70455-1928. Members of the media will enter the facility from the back gate. For a map to the back gate, click here. A Unified Area Command joint information center representative will be at the gate to escort media.

When: Today, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. CDT. The call-in number for press unable to attend: 1-866-304-5784. International callers use 1-706-643-1612. Passcode – 78651144. Live broadcast may be available on the Digital Video Information Distribution System (DVIDS) hub, which can be accessed at This can be done on the DVIDS Web site or by calling (678) 421-6612.

Pumped 7000 bbl so far; varying rates up to 65 bbl/min.

Plume at riser end got too turbulent to see due to mud coming out. Apparently one of the ROV's is still watching it.

An audio of the briefing can be downloaded here:

Other notes and figures from the briefing:

- Around $800 million spent so far in total by BP and the gov't (aside: that is less than 15% of BP's first quarter profit)

- nine locations aross 100 miles of LA coast have been affected by oil - no areas in TX, MS or FL to date

- 30 acres of affected marsh, 15 acres of which will need to be treated/cleaned

- a number of wildlife cleaning stations have been established

- around 20,000 barrels of oil in total were collected via the RIT, around 2,500 in the last 24 hrs before it was disconnected last night

- the mud being pumped is non-toxic, water based. Mud has been coming from more than one vessel.

- the flows coming out the holes in the riser are now mud, not oil/gas. Just as Suttles began to answer a reporter's question about how could he be sure, I lost the feed. (aside: the color of two of the plumes has changed to orange as I typed this - something changed?)

Response to the question of "how will you know the top kill is working?" was "when the well can't flow to the surface"

Reading subjectively from body language and facial expressions, both Landry and Suttles looked less stressed than in earlier appearances. I actually am feeling optimistic they think this has a good chance of working. Suttles did talk about what next steps would be taken if it fails - new BOP, LMRP collector, etc.

Suttles again referred to the need to continue drilling a successful relief well in order to put in the official plug even if topkill is successful.

Apologies if this is the wrong place to post this question. I just read the following WSJ article:

Heated Argument on Rig Hours Before Blast

It is an interesting article but the part I am curious about is why they were shutting down the well in order to abandon it? It certainly is not a dry well so why abandon it?

Not abandoned. The were capping it off so they could move a production rig into place. The Horizon is an exploration rig and not designed for production.

In the video of the BOP, is the hole on the left getting bigger? Or have I just stared at it too long?

Looks about the same to me. Maybe go outside for a while. :)

I just top-killed my lawn.

Go decapitate a monoculture.

You know you've been watching this stuff too long when you are watering the plants and trying to figure of the flow rate of the hose.

Thanks to everyone for your knowledgeable posts. Wouldn't it be nice if CNN (or some news org) would pay an "expert" to help us laymen* interpret what we're seeing in the Top Kill video stream? Or how about someone in the MSM showing us a time lapse of how the "leaks" have been changing since the Top Kill procedure began?

I think we all agree that it appears that the "leaks" have changed in color/density/velocity (or some combination of those). How could one interpret those changes?

* not everyone on here is a laymen, but I am!

Are there occasional bits of stuff flying around, or is that lint on my monitor?

those are floaters in your eyeball...mine have gotten worse over the years!

zappa -- PAY!!! You mean someone might pay to hear my disjointed ramblings??? price is a one-eyed dog and a box of 12 gauge shells. Hmmm...too much?

That leak does look to be changing...

Another question...the visibility has waxed and waned, I assume with crap kicked up by the ROVs or maybe by eddies from the oil plume? It seems that the mud [arguably] being spewed out would quickly take visibility to zero as the clay/fines thicken. But the visibility remains OK--are there steady currents keeping the area clear? If so, any idea how strong they are, and what issues that presents to the ROVs?

thats actually an interesting question, if the mud is supposed to counteract the oil, shouldnt the flow have equalized at some point and bathed the entire area in low pressure silt clouds?

BP: 7,000 barrels of drilling mud pumped so far.

A few people were curious about the dynamics of the top-kill. I found a few semi-technical links which explain a bit more about how this works:

"Hydraulics Modeling. Matching known downhole well information with surface flow characteristics of a blowout via computer allows selection of the most efficient kill method"

So, this is a fluid dynamics problem that the BP engineers attempt to solve to estimate the required pressures, flows, densities, and volumes. Clearly, a high volume of viscous junk at very high pressure will be needed to kill the well. But without the data, it's impossible to replicate the BP team's calculations to gauge the viability of this top-kill event given the unrestricted flow from the top of the BOP.

There were a few others interesting reads on the jwco site for the technically curious.

If as it appears we are seeing only mud escaping, this means that the top kill is achieving at least a "stand still" with the well. The pressure of the mud is keeping the oil in the hole, and hopefully making headway in forcing mud down the hole. Success will be achieved if the mud gets far enough down the hole so that the pressure exerted by the weight of the coulumn of mud is equal to the pressure of the well. The scary part is that the leaks that the mud is escaping from appear to be enlarging. This is a bad thing, because the more mud that escapes, the harder it is to achieve the pressure necessary to force mud down the hole.

I was just thinking the same thing about the race to make use of the available pressure. I don't know if they had extra pressure capacity before the start of the operation. ie if they only need 3000psi to force oil down, but can do 5000psi - do they start at 3K and then only ramp up if the leaks are scoured out bigger - or do you throw your full might at it to get it killed as fast as possible.

Maybe it depends on how the pressure affects the erosion rate.

If your example of 3000 psi is sufficient to push mud down the hole, it doesn't matter how big the leaks are as long as you can pump sufficient volume to maintain 3000 psi. Bigger holes just mean you have to increase the mud volume.

Increasing the pressure might fill the well faster, but it might also increase the rate of erosion at the leaks. If pumping at lower pressure means that it takes longer but keeps the required volume within available capacity, then you'd keep the pressure down. Also, it seems you wouldn't want to use more pressure than you need to get mud down the well. Mud is cheap, harmless and plentiful, but extra pressure could break something else and make the problem worse.

Worst case, they can keep pumping mud for the next two months until the relief wells are done. How long can you run those big pumps before they wear out?

What mud weight were they using while drilling and what mud weight are they using for kill fluid?

At the end of drilling they were reported to be at 14.4 ppg mud wt. Heard the kill fluid is 16 ppg.

As they are sucessful in pumping the mud downhole, the extra wt of the mud column will subtract from the pressure, and the pressure will decrease. I wish we could see a live plot of injection pressure.

Ah, in the Press Conference Doug Suttles said that they are only injecting mud at the rate of 20 barrels a minute. (7,000 barrels over 6 hours). This is less than half the anticipated flow (50 barrels) and they may have dropped the injection flow rate to keep pressures in the BOP at an acceptable level. That does increase the time it will take to fill the well significantly (by several hours, depending on the leak rate). Though it also shows that those estimates that the well was leaking at 100,000 barrels a day were fantasy.

It would take 87.5% of the mud injected being lost to leaks, for it to take 22 hours to fill the well, and that would indicate that the leakage rate was 25,000 bd.

Wow! Way higher than BP owned up to.

Mud rate probably higher now after ramping up.I wouldn't use the average. Does your 25000 BOPD account for gas?

The leaks at the tops of the riser do appear to be getting bigger. However they look like seal leaks, which would get longer preferentially to wider, with less overall increase in flow. I would expect, since BP has more than enough pump capacity, that they will just increase the flow to balance any increase in leakage. They can monitor this through the pressure gages, and so can set the flow rate to give a certain progress down the well, or well pressure. I suspect they are more concerned about well pressure, and will just keep that at a steady value until they are sure that they have filled the well. (Probably indicated by a change in pressure levels as they start to try injecting mud into the formation rather than pushing the oil and gas back.. The mud will coat the walls and make it more difficult to inject and thus they should see a pressure increase).

I think I'd like to disagree with your comment about the leaks at the top of the riser kink appearing to be "seal leaks" because of their tendency to grow longer instead of wider.

First off, since these are coming through the wall of the pipe, I'm not sure just what "seals" might be in the vicinity. Second, but I think more relevant, is the fact that this pipe has undergone some pretty severe deformation in bending over like it has. I don't know the properties (especially the ductility) of the metal used in this pipe, but it certainly seems possible that the deformation caused some lateral cracks that are magnified by the erosion process.

that is not far from what sandia calculated it to be. they said its about 21,000bpd of oil.

Nice bit of PR on the part of BP. It has convinced the media and the hundred or so people commenting on Oil Drum that something is 'being done'.

Yes, something is being done, all right! Lots of hi- tech mechanical diversions to keep the (helpless) critics at bay. The relief wells are cure but what happens in the three or four months until they are in?

Run the cartoon!

Steamboat Willy?

I am guessing by your comment that you don't think that this will work. It would be cool if TOD could do a quick poll to find out whether or not its readers believe that the top kill will work. I would vote no as well but I would love to be wrong.

Steamboat Willy is a good one!

I don't think it's going to work. I think the casing(s) are broken underground and oil is blowing out elsewhere besides the riser.

Yeah just some quick math from me has it around 20 bbm alot lower than they said they were going to. Also the leaks are for sure getting bigger IMO. I would say they are losing at least 10 of the barrels a minute looking at that picture?

Given they said the kink was not really causing much of the flow pressure drop and that they felt even without the full open riser the rate might only be 5-20% higher, they would have modeled the kill rate needed to stop it as if the riser was open.

Two holes in the riser seem to have black coloration at the base. I've watched on and off for several hours and this is the first time I've seen this.
Anyone know what it is and what it means?

I was guessing shadow. The middle two are dark at the bottom, then light at the top, and it appears to turn light colored at the same point regardless of how the plume blows around.

My experience with crude oil, is that there is a lot of sand entrained with it, as evidenced by the "dead whale" sludge piles found on the horizontal girders of super tankers at clean-up for shipyard. When this crude with sand hits a bend in the pipe, the sand will eventually eat its way through the pipe wall. This what caused the leak at the top of the BOP where the piping was bent due to rig destruction. The longer this goes on the more leaks are going to spring up in the pipe, until it looks like a lawn sprinkler.

the problem with top kill is not acheiving the pressures or delivery rates required at the choke line .....rmbr there is mile long column to help the pumps whihc by themselves are plenty of pumping power...

the main concern is that top kill will not be effective because the liner casings seats are iffy and fluid will be lost to the formation .....i'm sure one or two zones are expected to cause such fluid loss but there really is no way of knowing how much fluid will be lost and where and ...there is really no danger of fracturing the formation .....BP will be going slow with their pill .....time is not a factor here.....but if they keep losing fluid to formation how long can they keep pumping and exposing the shaky BOP stack to this stress....there danger of not being able to pump to necessary depth to neutralize formation pressure to place the concrete plug is the problem here....

I wouldn't worry about casing leaks. They had already set production casing TD to surface inside the casings and liners used during drilling.

I am not a right kind of engineer, more of an aerospace kind. I did do some hydrolics as part of a test setup a few years back, testing a military gizmo that had a high pressure cooling system with some manifolds.

I've been thinking about this method and there was a message upstream on the difficulty of overcoming the oil flow, if there is an ample exit path out of the BOP internal cavity (i.e. leaks).

In theory then, we should see a very energetic outlfow of mud, much more energetic then the previous oil flow. If all the suppositions are right, then there is an obstruction in the BOP that drops the pressure of the oil considerably. In order for the mud to enter the higher pressure region of the oil (below the obstruction), the mud has to support the pressure inside the BOP cavity greater than the high pressure of the oil below the obstruction.

Since there are fairly open exits from the internal BOP cavity (leaks), which currently operate at a certain flow rates that we have become familiar with at some level of internal BOP pressure, we should see a significantly higher mud flow rates out of the leaks, once the BOP cavity pressure has reached high enough levels to start turning back the oil flow.

I am afraid, we are not seeing this in the current video. Further, should we not see the heavier than water mud flow from the riser leaks begin to settle back down onto the bottom of the gulf? Certainly this should become quite apparent at the end of the riser pipe, which is nearly horizontal. If we see flow that rises, what exactly are we seeing?

you are right ....the mud has to form a dynamic seal and hold oil flow if things are moving as planned means that you are seeing all mud and very little hydrocarbons exiting from the top of the BOP stack ....if you are watching on CNN ...the view where they are showing a couple of holes in the riser pipe above the marine riser package .....that view is showing mostly mud that means atleast the dynamic seal is in place........but again as I said in my earlier post ...the problem is all this time in this process the BOP stack is being exposed to stresses and trust me those holes will be eroding pretty fast comparatively speaking ...(oil production eroding steel pipes is pretty common in the oil industry even in controlled production scenarios)....but back to the problem....if they are pumping mud and they start losing mud to the formation and it keeps happening for a while ....they casing seats are thought to be very shaky so we could potentially end up loosing fluid at multiple zones in the wellbore ....if that happens how much time do they want ot keep pumping and jacking up the delivery rates to get the well under control ......understand they have to tame this beast before they can set the concrete plug ......the first step here is to get the well under control ...if they are able to get the well under control the better part of the job is done ....all that remains is a kill pill and a concrete plug which is about as routine as operations get in the GOM

If what we are seeing is mud, how come it is always going up? Isn't it supposed to be heavier than water? While this is understandable at the bent riser, should it not just kind of pool on the bottom at the horizontal end of the pipe, which they are not showing?

Is what we are seeing definitely mud? Has that been confirmed by folks who know how this "fluid" should look?

If the main oil obstruction is below the point of mud injection, do they not have to increase the mud pressure to a value greater than the oil pressure below the point of obstruction? I think this implies really terrific jets of mud shooting out of every leak hole with obviously greater flow rates than we have seen from the oil/gas flow. I don't see that happening now.

If they are just pumping mud at rates that achieves the same pressure inside the BOP as the currently supplied by the oil/gas flow, they can do that all month and all we would get is a complex flow of mud/oil/gas, with no reduction in oil/gas output to speak of.

To be honest, it seemed that with the top of the BOP cavity essentially open, they would need to bring much heavier piping into the system to supply pretty astronomical flow rates into this open pipe to get one end of it to go to several thousand PSIg. Those thin pipes they got don't seem to be capable of supporting this kind of flow.

This seemed like a very long shot to me and I don't think it is working.

thats what i mean by saying the stress on the BOP during a top kill is enormous ...but i dont think you understand that there are two 3" pipes that are being used to pump the mud in the BOP one inlet is used to pump in mud at a crazy rate to form a dynamic seal ...while the inlet for the second 3" kill line is a few feet under the inlet where you have formed the dynamic seal and this lower inlet is used to pump the mud into the wellbore.

I would not call 20 barrels per minute a "crazy rate". You can't get a dynamic seal in a turbulent environment without a sealed system. Where they put their 3" pipes is irrelevant. The mud should be spewing like crazy out along with gas and oil.

From my understanding of the internals of the BOP, I'm pretty confident that they are injecting the mud BELOW the main restriction in the oil/gas flowpath.

The BOP cavity where the mud is being injected is essentially open to the well bore and separated from the riser leaks by the partially-actuated shear rams.

If they are injecting below the main obstruction, they have a chance, but they still have to be pumping a lot - well above the leak rate.

If they are injecting above the main obstruction, with the cavity essentially open above, they don't really have a chance.

It looks like the "all mud" gushing theory is not based on reality. Given the turbulence in the well bore and in the BOP the mud will be completely mixed with the oil and could rise with it. It is 20 barrels per minute which is less than the flow rate of gas-oil in the well (some think it is 5000 bpd then everything is hunky dory). The pressure in the BOP is supposed to be around 8500 psi so for only mud to be coming out the injection must exceed this and for no mixing to occur (i.e. there must be a well defined fluid interface which simply cannot exist in this turbulent environment). A mixture of oil, gas and mud must exit the vents until the mud column is deep enough to shut down the flow of gas-oil.

I think what BP said was they started at 20 bbl/min abd had gone up as high as 65 bbl/min

If you have enough mud for two days of this pumping, I would think you only have to slightly exceed the leak rate and well pressure and you will start to have mud slowing moving down the hole.

Since we are seeing little oil out of the top, it is possible this is happening.

Below is a link to a photo slide show that illustrates how I think this thing should be plugged. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions. Everyone needs to try and help in this tragic event. If anyone can get new ideas or improvements from the slides below please add them


Putting a coupling onto a meter-wide pipe and getting it to hold several thousand psi is a tall order.

However, the general idea is sound. Their plan along this line is to cut the riser off just above the BOP and mount a collection device on that. This allows them to make the coupling without the problems caused by the high static pressure the well can generate. The collection device includes design elements that prevent formation of the hydrates that plugged up the funnel they tried earlier.

Pretty good concept. But, have you calculated the weight of the concrete needed to hold the overshot in place?

As the mud on this bottom will hold nothing the weight of the concrete will have to hold all the uplift. The working pressure is 15,000 psi, assume a 20 inch ID for the overshot, a 25% safety factor and concrete weighs about 40% less underwater.

Therefor pretty close to 5,000 tons of concrete. Plus all the reinforcing to hold it in place, etc.

Also you need a solid seal between the overshot and the well head.

The way this is normally done underwater involves a massive clamp with slips and seals to go over the pipe. The valve, or in this case probably a couple of valves, will be very similar to those on the BOP and would already be welded to the overshot, threads don't work at these pressures and diameters.

There are a number of factors that make this very difficult and could possibly make the situation worse but you can be assured that the engineers working for BP have a design concept already started.

If they were confident the well head pressure would be less than 5,000 psi this might be a high priority solution, at a possible 13,000 to 15,000 psi when the flow is shut off the design and manufacture will be slower than the relief wells.

It does seem the two main risk areas are a) loss of mud to the formation through casing cracks and b) loss of mud through the holes in the riser pipe top of the BOP. Those factors would have to be weighed against the dwindling supply of new mud available for injection into the well -- a real "battle of attrition" if there ever was one. We can't easily judge that from afar, but after a while we should see signs of victory, if there's going to be one. That would be when the fury of the leaks out of the BOP begins to subside (if it ever does). That won't happen "linearly" as the well bore is filled with mud: even when half the mud is in place there probably won't be too obvious a reduction in the those leaks out of the BOP. But once they get to the "80 percent" point, there ought to be some visible reduction, and beyond "90 percent" there certainly would. After that, the leakage flow out of the BOP ought to quickly subside, until finally -- at the 100 percent point -- a condition of hydrostatic equilibrium will be obtained and the leakage flow out of the BOP should stop completely.

I haven't heard anyone talk much about the well being choked back. There has to be a significant choke somewhere. You've got a reference pressure at the wellhead of 2,200 psi where your seawater and well fluids have to be at the same pressure, a reservoir at 13,500 psi and a (best case for most pressure loss) wellbore full of water (5850 psi). 13500 - 2200-5850 = 8000 That's 5,000 psi that is being dropped across something. Where is that choke at and what is the gradient up to that depth? These are HUGE issues. If the choke is close to surface, you have near reservoir pressure at surface, which you will not be able to pump into the well without a giant surface pressure which you probably won't get with that leaky riser. They are probably just pumping drilling mud into the ocean.


13500 psi reservoir
Well choked at 10000 ft
Well full of water

13500 - .45(18000-10000) = 9900 psi at 10000 ft (probably higher because the well is probably not full of water)

5000 ft of 16ppg mud = 4100 psi

9900-4100 = 5800psi surface injection pressure to inject into the well. Is that pressure being created in the BOP even with the seawater? I don't think so.

The first thing they should have down was cut the riser off and try to stab into it instead of dicking around with 3 leaks. Even if it made the leak worse, it seems like that is the best chance to control most of the flow. Get it all going through a single tube with a reasonable surface to stab into.

for a top kill is of no consequence if the well is onshore or offshore......once the process starts this is a closed loop hydraulic system ...the only problems under 5000 ft is you need to use ROV's to connect to your choke lines and ships and such .l...form a top kill standpoint its immaterial to a large extent ....whats matters is reservoir pressure ....any wellbore cave ins and the casing sizes .....but yes BP has reported the BOP is holding at around 9500 psi at the annulus

I bet the insides of the BOP will be a mess from the erosion. Forensics should be interesting.

There is no choke for the riser. The only choke is the rams that tried to close restricting the flow? Thats what i understand anyways. The wholes that are getting bigger make the issue worse IMO, allowing hydrocarbons to still enter the wellbore. If you have that there is no way your going to kill the dam thing.

There is a choke in the riser - the kink - and also the length itself. There may be some other restrictions as it is 'V' shaped now - kink, down to the mud, up a 1,000' and back down to the mud and along to the exit where the RIT was installed. It also contains the drill string. The kink is the most pronounced restriction and there is enough pressure there for the oil and gas to have eroded the four holes we see in the video now spouting mud. It was decided by the engineers working on this that the BOP is considerably more restricted and is providing the majority of the 'choke'. They also seem to believe that there are some obstructions in the well itself.

Right, that's my concern as well a couple of posts up. If that choke point is below where they are injecting the mud, they have got to create a high pressure inside the BOP (like the numbers you calculated). I think it is very hard or impossible to do with an top-open BOP.

Is the answer to cut this BOP off and bring in another? Can they successfully mount a BOP on a wild open weld? It would need to be fully open to allow the flow to come through while they patch it in. They can then simply shut the new BOP down, killing the flow.

They must know by now, by observing the pipe coming out of the well and the bottom of the gulf there if the leak ends up being inside the pipe, by the time time it is above the bottom. If it is, then putting a new, fully functional and sealable BOP may be the best option.

as i understand the Choke in on an ROV can anyone comfirm?) but the main issue of this is exactly what my fear is. thanks for being educated and articulate enough to convey that in a meaningful way.

How long can they sustain adequate injection pressure?

where are they getting the mud?

When the well is flowing the pressure at the wellhead is 2200 psi. To get to 13,500 psi in the reservoir you have to account for several factors. First, is the weight of the mixture of oil and gas flowing up the well. Next is the friction pressure loss due to the 13,000 ft of casing / pipe in the well. The frictional losses in the well will vary depending on whether the flow is coming up inside the 7 x 9 7/8 casing or up the annulus outside this casing. The final pressure loss is in the reservoir itself. Depending on the thickness and permeability of the reservoir there will be varying pressure losses in the reservoir. The pressure in the reservoir will be lower right near the well and will only be 13,500 psi some distance away from the well. Of theses three components the biggest is probably the friction losses in the well, and the smallest is likely the pressure loss in the reservoir.

Once the well stops flowing, there will no longer be any frictional losses and the only loss will be due to the weight of the oil/gas column. The wellhead pressure will be much higher if the well is not flowing. Probably somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 psi.

They are probably just pumping drilling mud into the ocean.

I'm pleased someone who knows something said that ... because to my inexperienced eye, that's what I was thinking too.

Below is a link to a photo slide show that illustrates how I think this thing should be plugged. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions. Everyone needs to try and help in this tragic event. If anyone can get new ideas or improvements from the slides below please add them


@ tooldtocare

Why not unbolt riser from top of BOP's and cut drill pipe? Install new stack and shut shear rams?

Wouldnt that be safer than getting rid of the BOP's totally? IMO your graphic doesnt make any sense to me at all.

This is an improvement over your earlier suggestion which required a through-bolt across the end of the pipe to secure the coupler. Unfortunately, it still has a few problems:

1. As drawn, there is still a leak path out the end of the pipe and down the annulus between the pipe and your coupler. Remember that the mud on the floor of the GOM is NOT a good sealant when there are fluids at thousands of psi involved.

2. The installation process for this coupler/valve/cap system would require leaving the well open FULL-BORE for the time required for the concrete to cure.

3. I'm not sure that you can pour concrete using GOM-floor mud as a form. I'm not sure, but it seems entirely possible to me that the concrete would simply settle into the mud and disappear from sight.

4. Even if you managed to get this system installed and sealed, there is still the BIG problem of what happens a few decades (centuries?) down the road when the well casing rusts out enough that it springs a leak? It's still mild (alloy?) steel in a seawater environment, so you KNOW it will happen eventually.

The only PERMANENT solution to this leak is to get it KILLED and then use concrete to replace the impermeable geological layer that was drilled through to release the oil in the first place.

Wow Rachel Madow Show just ran the incredible parallels with Ixtoc incident. Including 31 yr old news reporting. Incredible deja vu

According to Matt Simmons, they haven't even found the right hole. MUST WATCH.

In the past few hours my opinion of Matt Simmons has dropped like BPs public image. the last clip i saw of MSNBC with him in it he was talking about the well running out for 9000 days. He spent more time talking about media 'spin' than actual substantial information.

I am going to say one thing - Maybe Matt knows something that we don't.

"Maybe Matt knows something that we don't."

I'll allow that as a possibility, but from what I've seen (this interview and one other where he suggested that the navy might be enlisted to drop a bomb down the bore) I'm not going to expend a lot of energy worrying about what he has to say.

If he can supply some evidence to back up his wild speculations, I'll believe him to PRECISELY the extent that his evidence supports. As an individual, as far as I'm concerned, he has about as much credibility as George W. Bush.

@ Rony

I think that video is a stretch after watching this top kill operation. You can put them theories to rest now.

Put a balloon in it and dump the mud on top? Who is this idiot? Sea floor fracture 6 miles away? Can you say too much scotch.

I couldn't believe this. As I interpret Matt's theory he thinks that there is a huge leak surfacing some where other than near the BOP. And that the leak out the end of the riser is a part of this mystery leak.

And that the riser is broken somewhere between the BOP and the leaking end with the RITT. And that broken end just happened to land directly on the mystery leak.

I guess his theory is based on the difference in appearance between the leaks at the kink (solid colored brown with little or no apparent gas, and the end of the riser with darker oil and obvious gas escaping. All of which I believe can be accounted for by the separation of the gas and oil as it spends about a half hour to an hour traveling through the riser to the RITT end.

Among other problems with this theory is the fact that the ROVs would immediately spot any significant oil leak on their sector scan sonar up to 1,000 feet away, maybe further. And there are ROVs everywhere including at the relief wells.

Matt always seemed in touch with reality, now I just don't know anymore.

What just happened?

Current changed?

Ever watch a fire and the wind comes at you?

My guess.


Did they just blow the riser up?

I have no idea what happened, but CNN has a multi camera view.
I can't tell anything however.

nah, thats just silt kicked up from the wake of that Navy sub chasing the Oil Blob. Despite the seriousness topside, the situation odwn there is an eclectic mixture of Benny Hill and the Abyss.

my guess is the current changed?

Currents at that depth don't change like that. They are well established. It looks like something on the BOP ruptured or an ROV stirred things up. My guess is the former.

Nice image! All we need now is some speeded-up footage of ROVs darting ineffectually around the work site with "Yackety Sax" on the soundtrack...

I for one would like a live sound link from the ROV control shacks. That would be much more enlightening than the video footage on its own.

Could be they have increased the pressure. Cold be a current simply changed direction and the mud is now flowing at the camera. Could even be a decrease in pressure, think stream from high pressure hose slwoing down.

If the riser "blew up" you probably would no longer have the feed from this ROV as it would have been at the very least thrown about.

In some of the CNN views it looks like a bunch of hydrate crystals floating around.

Black floaties and nothing but brown cloud probably isn't good. Kind of goes in the opposite direction of having control. Not oilfield engineer, but they better keep pumping mud, as soon as they run out and pressure reverses...

Anyone who does drilling, what's going on?

Doesn't look good.

Sfx - And that's the key. In a normal kill situation the well is shut in. You can bullhead the mud in and shut the well in and see the effect. Obviously they can't stop pumping the pill until there's sufficient head to stop the flow completely. Even a relative small excess pressure from down hole will empty the mud from the csg in no time. And then they have to start from scratch.

ROCK, do you think the mud flow has to get increased, and if they run out before more is delivered, does the flow reverse and out comes the crude? I designed packers for awhile, but not BOP/wellheads.

Sf -- i would think so. I saw a report just now with saying BP they see mud flowing back that's exactly what they saw when the well came in and blew out. If they see a fast flow of mud coming out then the well is coming in...again.

Video of whatever just caused the water to go murky


Thanks for capturing that event.

It looks as though there are more leaks appearing below the 3 main ones.
Almost as though a horizontal seal/gasket has blown (like blowing a cylinder head gasket).

It all happens about 1 minute into the video.


it appears to me that in the video that you linked while the cloud appears to drift in from the left there was a noticeable drop in pressure. did anyone catch this, anyone care to comment?

The turbidity came in from the left side of the screen, there wasn't any significant change in the out flow from the jets.

It could have been a change in current direction but there were a number of eddies as the turbidity started to obscure the picture that suggest to me it was mud that was stirred up by the prop wash from another ROV.

It doesn't appear to be any change to the leaks.

But you can see what appears to be color changes that are actually due to the mud changing the light intensity.

Colors will also change due to the distance from camera to subject, reds wash completely out as the distance increases, differences in the color temperature of the lights, intensity of the lights (which can be adjusted by the pilot), direction of the lights, etc. Color is very unreliable on ROV video.

Looks like gas. A lot. And some sort of mud-hydrate gel.

I think that when it gets cloudy like this (happened at least once before) we are seeing the mud coming out. The rest of the time (when it's clear) we see just the oil and gas come out. Otherwise, it wouldn't stay clear - the mud would precipitate back down and get the water cloudy as we are seeing now. Maybe they're adjusting the mud flow rate/pressure back and forth?

It sure appeared like some sort of blowout in one of the CNN views

It got murky very fast, stayed pretty evenly murky for quite awhile, then suddenly started to clear and got clear very fast. Doesn't that suggest something was being done during that time that caused the murkiness, and that it cleared up right away when whatever was being done stopped being done?

Could be current mentioned above (but on sea floor a mile down?), it would take awhile for adjusted density of mud to travel 1 mile in 4" tube. Steady state look worse than hour ago, I wonder how much erosion is occurring...

Whew...something stirred things up.

Time for me to stop watching this non stop.

Maybe one of the other ROV's stirred up some mud...

Looks like going around annulus, a bit darker. No mud/drilling engineer, but I thought there were particle diameter grades, it's really slick across the fingers but still abrasive. Enough of this would erode steel over time. God help us if the casing/anything gets fully eroded.

Someone up above asked the question where is the mud exiting the holes in the riser tube above the BOP going to end up, especially given that the seawater around the BOP at the time (hours ago) seemed to remain generally pretty clear. Now, it's not so clear, and maybe that is because other leaks have occurred at a lower point in the riser structure, or maybe it's because the mud is starting to accumulate in significant quantities in the area surrounding the wellhead.

I'm guessing the oil/mud gel entering the BOP breaks down pretty thoroughly into tiny constituent particles as the result of its passage up through the BOP and out of those holes (which probably function as giant "atomizers" for the oil/mud gel). Once separated, the oil droplets might slowly start to rise, while the clay-like "mud" particles would probably subside slowly to the seabed. All they have to do is overcome the upward momentum they acquire when ejected from the riser. Eventually, you'd expect a layer of silt to appear in the area, and probably for the seawater to become more and more cloudy as it does.

Does anyone know if they are using water or oil based mud? I'm assuming a water soluble mud but I may be wrong. Perhaps it is a mix.

During this evening's press briefing, Suttles said they were using water based mud.

doh! bother...

Hi. Sorry if this has been mentioned before. I'm trying to appreciate the scale of what I'm seeing. Roguhly, what is the size of that hole? 10 inches? 10 feet?

At the bottom of the screen it's probably around 3 feet in width. The crimped/kinked/flattened white pipe where the leaks are coming from is supposed to be about 20 inches in diameter.

Thanks! That's a lot of oil. I sure hope they shut it off soon.

As I am watching this, and thinking how easily what we are watching could be an edited video loop and not live, I wonder — why didn't the MMS or some government agency, send down its own ROV to keep an unedited eye on the situation?

with multiple government agencies in the "war room", and the same feed on House and Senate websites, I do think we can trust that it is the real thing.

Speaking about holes...for the last several days I have seen the image of 1 hole with oil and gas gushing out of it, now the video stream has 3 holes, I'm lost ?! How many holes are down there that are gushing oil/gas ?
What happened to that other 1 hole image we have all been seeing in the last days ?

There are two leaks.
This one is where the pipe comes out of the Blow Out Preventer (It has been kinked/flattened/cracked as the rest of the pipe fell down)
The one you saw before is the other end of this same pipe laying on the sea floor, where the leak is much greater.

Excellent question, I was afraid to ask but it does seem as if what we are seeing now is nothing like the "one hole at the end of a pipe" I've been seeing for days. No amount of shifting the camera angle makes what we are seeing now equal what we were seeing yesterday. So what is happening at that gusher?

There is a lot of information including graphics that show various parts of the operation at the BP website (

This one:

shows an overview of the whole operation including the relief wells, surface operation, RIT operation at the big leak that you are talking about, and the BOP stack on the wellhead where the current video feed originates. The riser pipe is folded over and leaking there from some small holes and the high pressure is forcing the mud/gas/oil out in streams.

Thanks, that is a very helpful graphic. What I'm wondering though is that while we're all watching the smaller holes, what is going on at the big leak? Surely, after all the oil and gas spewing out of there, it would be of some interest...

Anyone care to venture a guess what those 2 Enterprise ROV's are poring over in the CNN Ocean Video Portal? They're sure looking close.

Been watching the LMRP leaks for 3 hours and other than some current changes just have not notice them get any larger.

Here's to hoping there's good news waiting on the sunny side of this night.


I've been wondering about them for a while too.

I haven't an iota of expertise in the field, but what I was seeing earlier looked like they were in shallow water and under something big. I'm speculating that they were monitoring a pipe of some sort extending from the bottom of a surface vessel. Since they're labeled as Enterprise ROV's, I'm further guessing that the vessel is the Discoverer Enterprise and that the pipe is related to the drilling of the relief well. part of the mud injection system.

The little stick they keep poking around with seems to be a wand emitting water, similar to a pressure washer. They seem to be using it to clear mud and debris.

Whatever it is they're doing, it makes me reconsider the notion that a career as an ROV operator would be interesting.

The Enterprise is the drillship handling the RITT. I haven't seen the video but it sound like they are doing something to the RITT

If that is indeed drilling mud we're looking at, shouldn't whats been expunged over the last few hours already have begun settling and gradually reducing visibility?

Depends on its solubility in sea water. If it is 'water soluble' then you would expect the clay particulates to start to precipitate out but they have a high velocity so they may be falling out over a wide field.

I don't know what type of drilling mud they are using. Maybe a combination? I'd expect them to use oil based if they have enough just because it would be easier to pump at high pressure through the delivery pipes but based on the plume that I'm seeing I think I'm wrong.

Make sure to check out Heading Out's newest post on "Deepwater Oil Spill - Permissions and Concerns about Top Kill"

Maybe someone could tell me a little about this "Top Kill Procedure". If I understood correctly, the BOP's are not functioning. I have been out of the "Oil Field" for some time now, so, I maybe completely WRONG. But, I was under the impression that the "TOP KILL PROCEDURE" required functioning "blind or shear" rams in the BOP's, and the ability to "shut in the well." After shutting in the well and establishing the shut-in-pressure, high pressure pumps ( Halliburton or any of there competetors) would pump weighted mud at a pressure high enough to overcome the "shut-in well pressure" until the shut in well pressure was decreased to 0 psi, thus effectivly "Killing the Well"
The idea that BP can pump weighted mud at a velocity high enough to overcome the velocity that the well appears to flowing seems hard to believe. Maybe it can be done.
Does anyone have any information about this "Top Kill" procedure working when the BOP's are not functioning? Help Me Out Here. I am trying to understand how BP thinks this is going to work.
Ben There

Basically the name of the game is pressure up the BOP enough to hope you can overcome wellbore pressure to get flow to go down. The problem is a high pressure reservoir producing relatively light fluids bring high pressures up the well and this requires more pressure in teh BOP to get into the well.

Here is a good detailed description: The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill - the Top Kill Attempt. Basically BP has to pump the mud in faster than it leaks out to force the remainder down the well.

Image with three oil/gas jets seems to have changed in the last ten minutes -- the water is significantly more turbid and the jets are darker especially the leftmost one which used to be almost white (did it contain more gas?) and all three seem to be venting at a slower rate but from bigger openings, They seem to have less of a high velocity jet appearance in the lower part and less turbulence in the upper part. Is it possible some of the drilling mud is being entrained? edit: I just looked at it again and it looks more like it did earlier today -- guess the effect was just temporary, but maybe good changes are occurring. I've been watching this on and off during most of today when I could get away from my real work (which is unrelated) -- its fascinating. I hope they succeed soon.

I hoppe to god the changes in the leak we see aren't them adjust their pump rates or turning off the pumps. If it is (purely specualation on my part) they arent going to get it.

BP has been able to measure the pressure on the lower portion of the well’s blowout preventer (BOP) and found that it was “considerably lower” than would be expected if the flow was rushing unimpeded to the surface, he said.

This pisses me off and makes me think they are hiding stuff. Why not release the pressure numbers? This is the single most important number in determining if the top kill will work.

To my eye, the flow looks somewhat less than an hour ago. I want to believe that the periodic changes to a dark muddy color must be more mud entrained into the flow, which seems like it can only be a good thing . . . . . .

I wonder if periodic murkyness is caused by:

1. Increase in pump rate or,

2. The well kicks from time to time and unloads some mud. In between kicks they pump a little harder to get back ahead. I am sure their pressure readings are providing them this data. Go thru this cycle enough times and they get control.

On really odd thing, though, is why is the big leak in the middle dark brown, and the smaller leak on the left side a yellowish brown color? It's like there are two streams - one with mud and one without.

The one darker comes from the 7"x9-7/8" tapered casing while the clear come from the annulus between the 16" and the 9-7/8"...

That could indicate that the light plume on the side is mud direct from the injection point through the BOP. The mud is also pushed down the annulus to the bottom of the liner, where the flow reverses up inside the casing. This would carry some oil with it on the way up and would be well mixed by the time it gets to the top. There is also likely some mixing inside the BOP.

The trick being to get enough mud inside the casing to counter the well pressure. I think you would like to see the darker plumes get lighter to indicate a lower oil concentration coming up.

I think they are using 16ppg mud, like they used to finish drilling. This is to avoid overpressure of the casing. But this was sufficient with an open path on both sides all the way to the surface. That path has a lot of restrictions now, which would reduce the mud pressure at the bottom while it's flowing.

Is this correct?

Are they still injecting dispersant? That's a lighter color, I believe.

As everybody noticed the color of the fluid leaking out is different between the center and the edge...
An explanation would be that the casing and casing hanger is right below the kink in the 21" riser.

This would also explain why the shear ram didn't work (i.e. they tried to shear the 9-7/8" casing and/or the casing hanger (I have read somewhere that the hanger was run without lockring...)

That seems like bad news. If the main flow obstruction is below the mud injection point, then the mud pressure would have to reach the higher pressure below the obstruction before dynamic equilibrium and flow reversal can occur. A much better situation would be if the obstruction was above the mud injection point - they still need the high pressure, but would then have choke above them to work against, making this a much more achievable exercise at less than astronomical flow rate levels.

The obstruction is at the shear ram level and the mud injection is therefore below...I would anticipate that the casing has been pierced by the shear ram and some mud flow is getting inside....

May 27, 2010
00:07 CDT BP's video feed is black.

00:!2 CDT BP's video feed of the leaks on the kinked riser at the top of the BOP show dark material exiting the two center leaks and the one on the right. The one or two leaks on the left are still emitting light colored material.

00:25 CDT It is difficult to read the time in the video, but is looks like it is 2 minutes before the time on my computer which is automatically synchronized using BP appears to have a 2 minute delay on the video feed of the leaks in the riser at the top of the BOP. The times I am posting are the ones displayed in the video.

An interesting perspective on the BP oil spill as it pertains to Sanibel Island in Florida -

Thanks for spamming The Oil Drum with your website. No thanks.

BP worker takes 5th, making prosecution a possibility

WASHINGTON — A top BP worker who was aboard the Deepwater Horizon in the hours leading up to the explosion declined to testify in front of a federal panel investigating the deadly oil rig blowout, telling the U.S Coast Guard he was invoking his constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.

The move Wednesday by BP's Robert Kaluza raises the possibility of criminal liability in the April 20 explosion that killed 11 and five weeks later continues to spew hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

Read more:

I'd be interested to know whether he believes he violated BP's own policies and that is why he's pleading or whether he simply believe BP will throw him under the bus no matter whether he followed the policies or not.

I wonder how the court would react if he actually violated BP's policy and this could be confirmed. Certainly the company is still liable for the actions of their employees, but that would seem to argue against gross criminal negligance from the corporation itself, which could matter for punitive damages.

01:02 CDT The leaks in the riser on top of the BOP are still emitting dark material except for the one (or 2) on the left which is emitting light colored material.

Getting darker in appearance since I started watching about 20 minutes ago........

Is there still a feed showing the end of the riser ?

Looking if oil is still coming out there or not would be a better indicator of success or not than what is coming out of the BOP leaks no ?

So, since this is the most intelligent comment area I have found, I have 2 questions for some of the experts here:

1) topkill.. Let's say that stasis of pressures is reached, but there is not a lot of extra pressure to push the oil back down the well. Is there any reason that the pumping of mud could not continue indefinitely (or until the relief wells are drilled)? Would the mud that is escaping eventually pile up and need to be removed... etc. I'd think BP can sit up there and pump mud for a few months if it essentially prevented the oil from leaking.

2) absolutely stupid concept. but I can't get it out of my mind.. If I have a leaky gas line or water line in my house.. I wrap the dang thing with tape... we have ROVs...why can't the ROVs use some very strong thread/string/rope and swim around and around the cylinder about 2000 times.. (yes I know there'd have to be a handoff of the string.. cause the ROV is attached to a big ship above) each time adding a strand and eventually plugging the hole at the bent riser on the BOP.. then all oil would be pushed to the end of the riser where the riser insertion tube can collect some of it.

Any of the more knowledgeable people here please feel free to comment on the stupidity or the genius of my thoughts and questions. Thanks.

I'm no expert...just been very interested in this whole deal as it goes down. I also have appreciated the information posted here. Keep it up.

As far as part 1:

I agree, I think the problem would be finding enough of the drilling mud and what to do with it when it comes out of the top of the BOP. The surrounding water down there has gotten much, much darker since this all started...I'm thinking the mud is mixing into a solution with the water...I'm think those sediments can stick around for quite awhile...not sure but it does have an effect on the ecology of the sea as well.

I was thinking along the lines of attaching the "top cap" and lowering the "containment dome" while they are pumping the mud...its apparently able to be passed through small (3" diameter) holes so it wouldn't plug the things up, and the amount of oil and gas being released seems much reduced. This would eliminate the methane crystals from forming. Then if the top kill does fail, we have the systems to try and capture at least some oil in place.

Part 2: No idea.

Again, just a college kid with too much time on my hands in the expert on any of this stuff.

Is there any reason that the pumping of mud could not continue indefinitely (or until the relief wells are drilled)?

Yes - that was my question precisely ... if a pressure balance was reached, and it was "known" that basically all the output from the BOP-top leaks and the riser leak were mud, then do they need to continue pumping mud until the relief wells are in place? In other words, once they stop the movement of oil&&gas up the well, does extra mud and extra gas just add to the leak velocity, or can it actually "stop" the upward pressure, and reverse it downwards?

And if so, what then? Just keep pouring mud in at the required pressure, essentially forever?

As to whether this would buy enough time for the RW to intercept and have kept a whole bunch of oil out of the Gulf in the meanwhile it seems it might but only for awhile.

Just my impression that if you have to continuously pump mud and raising the mud weight and/or pressure is not enough to get the well under control then you either don't have the mud down well far enough or their is significant mixing so still producing quite a bit of oil. As if there was a clean column of heavy mud all the way down the well would be under control.

Eventually there would be enough erosion or sand cut of the riser/BOP leaks to where the Q4000 could not keep up through two 3in. lines.

So why not throw junk material in there to access the various riser leaks and help the mud down? Perhaps they are worried that the leaks up top are already larger that the spaces that the material will have to move through to get to them.

I agree that a solid column of appropriate-weight mud SHOULD be sufficient to kill the flow completely. What I'm concerned about is a potential leak path up one or two of the concentric annuli between the rock and the well bore. In a worst case, this leak path could start down at the producing layer and run all the way up to the well head before connecting into the main bore.

It could be very tough (impossible?) to get enough mud down through the top of the leak path to provide that solid mud column all the way out to the original impermeable geologic layer.

I don't know how they do it in a production well, but I think there's some way to perforate the liner/casing at depth. If they can do this at a depth corresponding to the impermeable layer that caps the producing layer, perhaps the mud and/or concrete could permeate the whole sandwich(?) of concentric annuli all the way out to the rock. This would finally, permanently, and SAFELY seal off this mess so that it can be confidently consigned to Davy Jones' locker.

I'm afraid that, if they just plug up the top and bottom of the bore with concrete and walk away, over time the gas will work its way up the leak path and pressurize the well bore. Then it's only a matter of time before the casing rusts through (it's STILL steel in a marine environment) enough to let it out again.

If I have a leaky gas line or water line in my house.. I wrap the dang thing with tape...

Remind me never to visit your house.

Anyone care to make any estimates as to how much of the flow seen on the visuals is mud and how much is oil?

Whateer it is its coming out fast, very fast......

8:00 AM Now showing top of BOP, a rov in frame, any comments on what is occuring???? Are they cutting the top of the bent riser off?

No idea, but I think they no longer want us to see the "product" rushing out.....

On explanation would be that when they lower the pumping rate they don't see the leaks (now mud) reducing which means that's only the dynamic of the pumping that keep the oil and gas downhole... I wouln't be surprised that they will continu pumping through the day and will cut the riser to put the LMRP cap...

In any case even if they killed the well and are able to quit pumping, they will have to recover the BOP stack and to do that they will have to remove the Lower Marine Riser Package.
The kinked drilling riser must be removed first.

That wellhead has been ‘talking to them’ for almost 19 hours in the form of pressure. They should have a pretty good idea where the mud/oil interface is in the wellbore. Sure would be great to see the wellhead pressure history for the last 19 hours. Hope the fact that they are still pumping mud at a fair rate indicates that they are gaining on it. Good luck BP.

It's been said by Matt Simmons (although i dont have a direct quote i've just read a post elsewhere on the net) that he believes the casing has given way in the well and that a research ship has found plumes of oil leaking from the ocean floor some distance away. As i say, im not sure where he got this from or if it's 100% inaccurate, but i just thought id throw it in......


And throw it out just as quickly ;-)

Everyone is blown away that Matt yesterday seemed to show the first signs of dementia. I watched the entire interview, as did many others, and the consensus was Matt was way off base.

has BP given out the mud volume already pumped in ...does anybody know...

usually the longer a top kill proceeds the better chance of success but seems like they are still fighting it going by others accounts of the video on this website.......

i just hope they dont loose too much fluid to the formation around the casing seats .....cuz other than that there is good chance of getting the well under control now

Dinoil: The darker one comes from the 7"x9-7/8" tapered casing while the clear come from the annulus between the 16" and the 9-7/8"...

If this is true, then could the small streams on the left of the video image be a gas emulsion? After all, one theory is that the explosion was caused by gas that got to the surface through the annulus.

About the Simmons interview: He was questioning the "official" estimates of the oil spill. On May 15, reports were published about giant plumes of oil forming under the surface of the sea. Simmons thinks that the 20" pipe we are watching on TV could not have spewed that much oil. So, he said, there is another hole.

Plumes of Oil under the Gulf:

Kyzy, I can't comment on the precense of gas on the annulus leaks....mud injection from the choke and kill line is done in the annulus... If the mud was getting into the casing at the shear ram level, the leaks feeded upward from the pumped mud should be the same composition therefore the same color... this indicated that the mud feeds to the inside of the casing somewhere downhole... maybe the casing parted at one of the 330 threaded joints which assemble the 7"x9-7/8" tapered casing...

Note: Live discussion has moved to

El Profe meant to type 6515, not 6115.
As of now, the most current discussion is at 6516.

My bad, the most current thread is now 6520. But no doubt that will change soon.

Wow, I haven't had such slow load times for TOD sites in my three years of mostly lurking. Very high traffic, I expect. If you've just discovered TOD because of the spill, I hope you take the time to explore other topics that are discussed here.


First, let me say that I am very impressed with this website. The information on here is so much better than you can get anywhere else.

My question is:

Why can't these platforms have an additional BOP/EBV located on the well at the surface? To me this would offer a lot of advantages such as:

1. You can really see it and lay hands on it.

2. Testing/repair would be much easier.

Bear in mind that the undersea BOP would be the first avenue of defense.

Something just happened!. Looks like bits of golfball floating around now.....but the way they are fizzing it's probably gas hydrate.