Deepwater Oil Spill - Top Kill "Stage 2," Junk Shots, and Live Comment Thread

New thread, please redirect to

The leakage rate is significant (I calculated earlier that it was around 17,000 bd, which lies within the newly reported range of 12,000 to 19,000 bd, and may have been higher than BP were actually anticipating. (Though the leak may also have increased a little as the mud was injected at higher pressures). The operation has already used all the mud on one of the supply boats, and has moved to the second (there is a third standing by so they won't run out). The concern, however is now with the volume of cement that will be required for the seal.

The high volume that is leaking would require that additional amount to the volume needed for the seal itself, and that may be closer to the available capacity of the system that they have in place, or the supplies that they have on site to achieve the seal. If that is the case, one can understand the desire to at least partially plug the leaks in the BOP, and to wait until the mud column fully balances the pressure in the oil reservoir before starting this phase of the operation.

Until this point in the operation the volume of cement required to create an effective plug has not been seen as an issue.

Edit - New Section Added:

Unfortunately as I write the feed from the leak has moved to look at other things, but the last glance I had seemed to suggest that they have been able to reduce the flow somewhat, though I guess not enough. Just to remind you of the problem, this is what the internal flow path through the BOP looks like:

Section through the BOP, showing the anticipated mud flow path (initially from BP)

Now they have to get relatively large particles (larger than the smallest diameter of the flow path) through the feed lines, which have a size of 3-inches, and those of us who pump particles in fluids much prefer that the particle diameter be no more than 30% of the pipe diameter - which is to say in this case an inch. And so if the orifice in the BOP is larger than that, then there is a problem in working out how to get something in there that will be effective, remembering that it has to work through all the flow convolutions of the supply line that has just been installed for the mud.

This posted in the Drumbeat by user BOPE Man. Gail suggested they should post it here but I thought I'd might as well copy it over here anyway for any comments.

"BP sets stage for Disaster"

No oil and gas well ever drilled has gone exactly to plan, or without mistakes being made. The Upstream Industry has learned the hard way. The path to todays drilling (well construction) approach is littered with terible loss events, and awash with lessons. But the fact is that todays drilling approach allows for mistakes to be made, simply because wells do not always behave as planned, and the execution of each step of the well construction plan relies on people. Contingency measure after contingency measure is layered over the average well construction plan such that if one, two, three, or even more consecutive issues occur and stack up against the well construction team there remains the cability on hand to identify there is a problem, to secure the well, and to plan and effect an appropriate remedial plan.

Yes a number of issues were stacking up against the well contruction team on Mississippi Canyon 252 #1-01 well on the night of the tradgey. Issues such as a communication path between the reservoir (oil and gas) and the well bore, the choice of casing plan and related well barriers, etc. However up until around 21:45 there remained the cability on hand to identify there was a problem, to secure the well, and to plan and effect an appropriate remedial plan to deal with the issues that had stacked up.

Unfortunately, at around 21:47 the Annular BOP opened releasing the immense energy that had accumulated beneath it (gas), energy that on release evacuated (ejected) the drilling riser of fluids in seconds. Thousands of gallons of fluids entering the workspace (drill floor) at almost jet force would have made any subsequent action to try to regain control of the well very difficult.

Much has been made about the issues that stacked up against the well construction team on that night, the cement program, the cement quality, the casing program, the testing program, etc etc, however the point remains that until around 21:45 the team still had the ability on hand to identify there was a problem, to secure the well, and to plan and effect an appropriate remedial plan to deal with the issues that had stacked up. The BOP Annular was closed and was capable of containing pressure build up as a result of the leak path between the reservoir and the well bore. There were other BOP Ram Preventers available of high pressure rating than the BOP Annular Preventer to call upon if required. With this contingency at hand (the last layer of contingency in any well construction plan), why did it still go so wrong?

I would offer that the real question is why did the BOP annular open? Did it fail? Was it opened by mistake? Was it opened thinking there was no hazardous gas build up below it? The investigation team will undoubtedly determine the truth.

I can also offer that in the Drilling Industry the Driller (the man that operates the drilling machine integrated into the rig structure) has two Golden Rules when it comes to well control:
#1, if there is any doubt whatsoever about a possible influx of formation fluid into the well bore then the well must be shut in (close the BOP), he requires approval from no-man for this action
#2, if the BOP has been closed for whatever well activity the Driller must be assured that doing so will not result in a hazardous situation for him, his team and all with him at the worksite. He requires approval from the worksite supervisors for this action.

The mud logger charts (main drilling parameter record) for the period 20:00hrs through 21:50hrs as presented at the Senate hearing show clear indicators of a problem with the well. There was more flow coming back from the well than going in, there was additional pressure where there should not have been. Evaluation and interpretation of these charts is an essential part fo providing the Driller the assurance he needs that opening the BOP Annular will not result in a hazardous situation.

If the BOP Annular was opened by the well construction team the other question undoubtedly being asked by the investigation team is whether suitable and sufficient evaluation and interpretation of the drilling parameter records was undertaken prior to authorising the opening of the BOP Annular?

The time line on the mud logger chart suggests around 15 minutes (from 21:30hrs to around 21:45hrs) may have been available for the well construction team to evaluate and interpret why there was pressure under the BOP Annular when there shouldnt have been.

15 minutes is not a long time to consider this kind of situation. Given that there had been a number of issues going on with this well since the casing was run and cemented (a lot of red flags were flying) there should have been the highest degree of awareness on every subsequent step of the operation. This means the full attention of all supervisors at all times. So, assuming again that the BOP Annular was opened by the team, why was there only a few minutes spent deciding the next step when the biggest red flag of them all (pressure under the BOP Annular) was waving.

Thanks for reading

sorry, i lost track of the number of times "team" was used. this could be an all time record use of the term. sounds like the writings of a mid-manager with upper-manager aspirations.

Any opinion on the validity or otherwise of their thoughts/analysis though?

Somewhere earlier, I read that someone accidentally pushed some button that caused the drill pipe to move and thus strip the annular, and chunks of rubber started flowing with the drilling fluid they were (prematurely) removing from the wellbore. The annular was DAMAGED, SHREDDED, CHUNKING OFF, and the mud logger reported this, even carried some of the shreds of rubber to show to someone, but the blowout was probably well on its way toward happening at that point. By the time the chain of command was consulted and the order was given to activate the BOP, it was too late -- WAY too late. The hydraulic system did not respond. The damaged BOP could not contain the gas/oil blowing out of the well.

That was on 60 Minutes.

Secretary Salazar seemed dismissive of the 60 Minutes "evidence" in testimony (claimed he hadn't even bothered to watch it) but did add that there was some key information about the disaster not yet made public. He said it would all be in a report before the end of the month. I would just like to rule out for certain that the reason the BOP initially "failed" was that it was manually opened.

In another thread here on TOD, a more knowledgable commenter mentioned that he concurred with the expert's opinion expressed on 60 minutes that the annular damage was probably not serious. Apparently the annular's a big honking sturdy thing, not a fragile little flower, and a little bit ("two handfuls") of rubber being worn off the surface by drill bit movement was probably not enough to seriously damage it.

This was also significantly before the blowout.

And the annular isn't the "last line of defense" in any case -- the shear rams are.

But I don't really know anything; I'm just repeating what I've read here on TOD.

The report I read said they were LARGE CHUNKS. As for two handfuls "not being much," maybe the mud logger didn't have a bucket handy to bring more for showing the evidence of damage. I wouldn't dismiss any pre-blowout damage as being "unimportant"...

Especially as BP's internal investigation apparently said that one thing that happened about 5 hrs. before blowout could have indicated a problem w/ the annulars not sealing.

So why wasn't the Company Man on the floor when this happened??

BP official apologetic for not sharing more info about 'top kill'

Can anyone enlighten me? Is the mud supposed to force part of the blow off valve shut? Or is it just to provide raw "anti-flow" pressure against the reservoir?

The diagram I reviewed showed mud going inside the blow off valve.

==Until this point in the operation the volume of cement required to create an effective plug has not been seen as an issue==

That seems very hard to believe.

They must have a workplan, based on the analysis of the hydrolics in the system. The large outer leaks are there for everyone to see.

What is their plan for the cement?

They can't really "balance the well", so the plan must be to get close and pump enough cement so either on the way down or they way up it finally hardens and seals the works.

But before they committed to this, they must have done the very best analysis of how close they can balance and how much cement they will need based on the residual movement of the oil/mud boundary.


Bad news......we are back to golf balls. Its leaking way more than they thought........

Redirect to newer post here:

So, we get the "junk shot" as well as the top kill. It seems a good idea, except that it allows Mr. Murphy a little more room to horn in here.

Does anyone else have a concern that shooting the junk in could make things worse? Is there any chance that it would increase pressure at the BOP beyond its uncertain ability to hold on?

The cement problem seems obvious to anyone with basic knowledge of fluids, so the reason to make the attempt to slow the leakage is apparant (just looking at the video above clarifies that). I'd bet the PTB at BP are sweating right now!


I am woundering why they dont freeze it off with N2, and remove the leaking riser and clean up top of the BOP ,install new Bop on top..then be able to bull head the kill mud down the hole and why not have 1 of two the rigs drilling relief wells, just shoot for the wellbore up higher and 1 shoot for the bottom....either 1 would releave the pressure off the well to kill it...

The gas/oil coming up is in the vicinity of 450 F - and that will melt (heat up) "your" N2 just like that...... and there is constantly more heat where it comes from.How much and fast can you "counter supply " your N2- and do "you" have the tech readily at hand to actually do this?

I'd go for the junk-shot at this stage - a lot of big junky stuff or maybe just some Chinese plastic toys could suffice.

Haha, Methode_Champagnoise for crude oil!

Anyone seen any eels since they began pumping mud in ? Maybe eels dont like barium ?

New York Times:

Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf

BP had to temporarily stop its effort to plug the well when engineers saw that too much of the fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

(edit by PG, here's the link: )

I wonder if they figured this out by looking at the deposits on the wrench the ROV was sticking into the outflow.

Folks here have been asking these very questions since they started pumping yesterday and probably before then.

They must have a *PLAN* to deal with this, right?

The fluid dynamics part of this is modelable with finite element analysis.

The well bore geometry is set and they probably don't know the reservoir pressure exactly. Pretty much all the rest is known or can be estimated within reasonable error. They can insert pressure probes and measure inside the BOP and at the riser holes.

They must have picked the mud density to be able to balance the reservoir pressure with some bias (I don't know if they prefer to have cement plug sink slowly or be expelled slowly). They must have calcualted the residual reate of cement sinking or expulsion. They must have calculated the amount of cement, time of cement pumping, etc., before they begun.

In other words they done their homework, right?


What does 'temporarily' mean?

BTW, did anyone else hear Prez O today? Sounds like he sort of understands the concept of peak oil and energy, and that we need to 'do something,' yet he does not know what to do about it. Of he doesn't want to commit. He needs to learn the definition of leadership.


Obama said "all the easy oil is gone" and that is why we are going after the oil that is hard to extract and requires much higher environmental risk. He further explained that he acknowledges the oil supply predicament and therefore never advocated the "drill baby drill" scenario. Obama said these technological challenges of oil extraction should be cause for eventually moving to alternative energy sources. He inferred that oil will only get more expensive and harder to obtain.

I heard it live on NPR.

Sounds like he sort of understands the concept of peak oil and energy, and that we need to 'do something,' yet he does not know what to do about it.

Yes He Does.

See this clip from the 2008 Presidential Forum at Saddleback Church

He just didn't want to say Peak Oil quite yet, but I think BP has forced the issue, and now it's a matter of timing to avoid panicking the public, and leveraging awareness from this mess.

Which is what the main point of the post was all about. It is not a problem with the mud supply, they have more than enough on the three boats and the pumps available. It is likely now that they have reached the point of pouring the plug and they don't have that same capability to supply the needed volume of cement at the flow rates required, if most of it is going to go out of the leaks. They may not have realized this until they went to start up the production line for the cement, and looked at the additional quantities that they now needed, relative to a conventional cement plug.

Thus the need to start blocking those holes.

I would think they better try the junk shot soon before the hole(s) get any bigger. At this point, it probably doesn't matter if they lose the mud already injected into the well, since it appears to be a small fraction of what they are pushing through now.

I mentioned this possibility on the previous thread and was told I was being silly.

My question now involves what happens AFTER they pump cement down the hole.

Seems to me that they have to push the cement down beyond the end of the drill pipe and then sort of "rinse" the cement out of the annulus between the drill pipe and the inner casing. If they DON'T do this, they're going to be permanently setting the drill pipe in place.

I expect that the BOP will be sawed off the wellhead eventually, if for no reason other than to allow forensic examination, and maybe they can fill the drill pipe with cement at that time, but I'm uneasy about what they'll be leaving behind.

If - and to the extent that - there is any leak path from the TD into the well bore below this "upper" cement plug, they will be building an ecological time bomb with a fuse set to go off in a few decades... or centuries.

I don't know how long it'll take, but the casing is still a steel pipe in a marine environment. EVENTUALLY, it'll rust through. MAYBE it'll just be a pinhole leak, but as we've seen recently, even with new steel, high pressure flow can erode small passages into larger ones. I can only imagine how fast this'll happen after the pipe has been rusting for a while.

I've got myself convinced that the only way to safely and permanently abandon this hole is to go back into it - from the top - and do some work down at the impermeable cap layer over the producing stratum. I think the casing should be perforated at that level, and concrete should be squeezed into the concentric annuli all the way from the well bore out to the original rock.

THEN, and IMHO, ONLY then, they can walk away from this hole.

I'd appreciate some feedback on my concerns from some of the guys around this forum who have more (any!!?) experience in realworld oil drilling.

1. The reservoir will be tapped through other wells relieving the pressure.

2. Regardless of what happens here it is only a temporary fix because a relief well will be completed.

Two words: relief well.

The relief well is the real solution. Everything else, including the top kill, is just a stopgap to reduce the problem until the relief wells can be completed.

So the top kill doesn't need to last forever. Just until August (more or less).

(Maybe I should mention that it's not really a "relief well", it's a "kill well", and the purpose of the kill well is to get down below the bottom of the drill pipe and inject enough cement to plug the formation up but good.)

Two dumb questions

1. If they pumped in 30,000 barrels of mud, and the drilled chamber only needs about 1300 barrels of mud to fill up, where did the other 28,700+ barrels of mud go in the last day? Did it leak out the riser?

2. If the mud is a heavy fluid, won't the particles composing eventually just sink to the bottom of the well, letting the gas and oil coming to the top? Is this effect not important because it occurs on too long a timescale?

Doc -- As you probably guessed the rest of the mud went into the GOM.

And everyone: you can stop taking about BP pumping cement into the hole to plug the well. I know it's difficult for most to envision what's going on down there. But this isn't a simplification of the situation: you have a pipe sticking straight up the air and it's flowing 10 gallons per minute out the top. You stick a tube down the pipe and start pumping cement. Question: how long for the cement to harden? Answer: never. The cement is going to mix with the water and flow out the end of the pipe. Honest...I didn't dumb down this example. That's exactly what would happen if the pumped cmt down the blow out if it were still flowing. No one has ever set a cement plug into a flowing well in the history of the oil business. But you can shove a packer down a producing csg string and stop or at least slow a flow considerably. But can't shove a packer down this hole: can't get it through the BOP. And if you could there's drill pipe in the way.

Sorry to be such a downer but I thought BP might have come up with a clever idea they weren't talking about. So far I still haven't heard of it.

Well then, guess I will go get drunk. Bet BP or the Feds can't mess that one up for me.

thanks rockman

Surely not all doom & gloom yet? Could we be better off than before? If they have truly weighed the well down with mud, there should be less upwards movement of the oil from the reservoir.. back off the mud pressure & do junk shot . .. with much less hydraulic hammer than without mud?

Or is your suspicion that the well is still full of oil, and practically ALL the mud went into the GOM? In which case, no extra weight, no lessening of pressure, and more spill as soon as they back off the pumps?


speaking as a novice...the heavy mud which spills into the gulf does have weight. Even just laying on the floor of the seabed, it becomes part of the seabed pressure on the oil below?

Hey Rockman, I have a stupid question. If they can stop the flow and try and pump mud in, why not pump in seawater and do not stop it until the relief wells come in. Does mud have to be in the mix to make it work? Could such a flow be maintained and not make things worse?

That's been my question all along, Rock. Need to stop all movement before the cement will set up. Do they expect to get enough heavy mud down hole to balance the system (weight of mud equals formation pressure) and then push the cement in on top of the mud? Also, why didn't they do a junk shot first to plug the leaks before pushing the mud in?

Why is a lot of people suddenly talking about flows of cement at this stage? I got the impression that the plan had no cement until the well was essentially controlled with mud. Am I missing something?

BP is talking about the junk shot, but as an adjunct to Top Kill.

And then replacing the BOP.


I'm curious about the "replace the BOP" part. Does that come from BP?

I certainly think it should happen, but I can't figure out HOW to do it. It seems to me that if/when some combination of junkshot and topkill pumping get enough mud down the bore to kill the well, they couldn't lift the BOP and the attached drill pipe (3000 ft?) without reducing the hydrostatic pressure at the bottom of the hole.

If they pump concrete down after the kill mud, they'll lock the drill pipe in place inside the casing. Then the only way to remove the old BOP (unless they can make the shear rams retract) will be to saw it off the wellhead. I'm NOT very confident that they could then stab a new BOP onto the wellhead with the concrete and drill pipe in place and flush with the end of the wellhead.

Finally, unless they figure out some way to pump concrete into the bore of the drill pipe first, cutting off the BOP will leave a pretty unnerving leak path up through the bore of the drill pipe.

All the talking heads are merging, but I believe the "replace BOP" was a side comment by Thad Allen.

I have come to the conclusion that 1) his grasp of technical details is not exactly firm at all times and 2) BP occasional blows smoke in his direction (this works because of #1).


I'm kind of surprised that another Big Oil Co hasn't made and expert available to the press to keep the technical details straight. BP hasn't stood up on this, and their screwing everyone's pooch on this.

Probably because any other Big Oil Co could find themselves in The Same Position tomorrow, and also because it would just be bad PR to have the name of their Big Oil Co anywhere near "Gulf Spill" in the press.

So what was it that they did in Iraq after the gulf war? Eg. from what I've heard those were top killed, and not exactly shut-in.


After the fire was put out mostly they just cut the old well head off and stabbed on a new BOP and put the well back in production (oversimplified I know but that was the basic concept). If this well was shallow and on land same techniques would apply. But the well head is almost 1 mile beneath the ocean, and another 13,000'+ to the formation below. Besides the fact that it's an oil well, there are almost no other similarities between this event and the burning feilds in Kuwait.

OK - NOT top killed...One of my buds at work thot that they were....

Solid explanation. People think if you don't have a library card you can't figure out how tie your own shoes.

Cement won't set if it's gushing out of the riser. They just emptied 20,000 plus barrels of mud into the sea unless some of it filled loose fissures and caverns down the well. Once they lost control of the pressure on 4/20 they mucked us all.

But I'm sure this is a temporary set back and they've got all the neccessary equipment waiting on the ocean floor for the next "event" that will have a 60-70% chance.

Also as soon as Brunswick PR came in around May 1, BP's been shooting false press reports early in the morning relying on the copy to saturate the MSM. Mr. Suttles then releases the official statement at his press conference contradicting the false reports, but the copy and false perception are out there in cyberspace.

They did it when they told us the annular rams were closed. They did when they told us the siphon was sucking up 5,000b a day. And they did it again this morning.

Grin, see I knew you'd need a miner before all this was done.

Getting concrete to set in flowing water is sometimes needed in places where you need to set a support on a wall that keeps falling in. The answer is to add chemicals to the mix that accelerate setting time to that you can spray say 6 inches of material (shotcrete) above your head and it won't fall back on you. So now the trick is to engineer how to do that (and to get the accelerant to act only when you need it). And I think you misunderstand a little of the mechanics of this, because, by pumping in the mud at higher pressure that the oil, they can actually generate a dynamic seal that sensibly stops the oil and gas from reaching the BOP, and can hold an interface if you adjust the pressure and flow rates. Bear in mind they have a lot of pressure and volume capacity available at the pumps that hasn't been used yet.

They only need this plug to hold long enough for them to cut the riser and place the new BOP on top of the old one. How many days is that?

If I'm correct, Shotcrete won't set as long as its kept moving. As soon as it is sprayed and becomes stationary, it solidifies almost immediately. Regular concrete is the same way. As long as it's in the mixer being stirred, it won't set (to a point).

So is what you are saying:

IF they can keep an interface between the mud and hydrocarbon...


they can pump cement down thru the mud column and have it set up if you dope the mud enough?

Would that require blocking the upper leaks to get seal?

(i'm confused....and kinda bummed. hoped i'd get home today and this would be a lot better...).

No one has ever set a cement plug into a flowing well in the history of the oil business. But you can shove a packer down a producing csg string and stop or at least slow a flow considerably.

Or to pump cement down thru a string of pipe filled with mud. The cement must be pumped in "on top" simplified And completly displace
(shove the mud down to open end of string.)It must be understood that the ones writing about this are "WORMS" They haven't even reached the weevil stage yet

A conversation between Rock and I that I wanted to make sure got over here from the last thread:

Goose: Hey ROCK, what's your thoughts on already having gone through a tanker of mud in 8 hours? That's a lot of loss right?

It seems to me this thing may be far from over... :(

ROCKMAN: Goose -- I KNOW nothing but I suspect it might not be working. I thought of a way folks could look at the effort in a manner they can more easily visualize. Here goes: there is a fire hydrant open full force. Putting out 7 ppg water at 80 psi at a RATE OF 500 GALLONS PER MINUTE.. Now I want to stop that water from coming up the main by pointing another fire hose at it. Unfortanately I can't connect the hose directly to the hydrant because the threads are messed up (i.e. bad BOP). So all I can do is hold the end of the hose close to the opening of the hydrant. My hose is putting out 500 gallons of 16.5 ppg mud at a pressure of 80 psi. So can I stop the water flowing from the hydrant? Nope...the pressures are the same. At best the two streams hit each other and the total flows out of the gap.

This is the problem I've had with the top kill from the start. I've been on rigs where we've pumped a successful kill pill. But the well was shut in. All we had to do was pump in at a pressure greater that the shut in pressure of the well. The pressured mud would push whatever was in the well downwards. But the BP well isn't shut's flowing. How much force do you need to apply to a river to make it flow upstream? I know folks were holding out for the top kill to work so I didn't want to be too negative. But if they couldn't get a very tight seal on the BOP I couldn't envision how they could get the flow to stop let alone flow backwards down the csg. But as I'v said before I'm not an engineer...just pretend to be sometimes on TOD.

And now the big question is whether they have been making things worse as a result of erosion. The holes in the bent riser seem larger to me than they were several days ago. If that truly is the case, then I would think whatever gap/orifice exists in the BOP has suffered similar erosion - the amount obviously depending on the materials surrounding the gap.

That is why it was never going to work and why a top kill is also referred to as bullheading. Without a functioning BOP to impose artificial formation pressure(SIDPP/SICP - hydrostatic of kill fluid)and ability to bleed off expanding gas entrained in the well fluid. 1 bbl mud in, bleed off equivalent volume expanding gas out. BP's lips were always moving.

Thanks, guys. And, a few questions.

When they try to pump the mud down the hole, the upward flow is creating eddies and going around the mud, right? I mean, the problem seems to me to be that even if they pump in cement, the escaping oil and gas makes holes all around it. Or am I totally off?

Once, in the UP of Michigan, I swam in a stream that had been warmed by the local electric plant. It flowed into Lake Superior. As I swam, the upper level was warm... out a ways into the lake there was a layer about 1 foot deep that was warm, and when I moved it stirred the water and mixed the two levels. It did not take much to do that.

If there is an incoming stream that exactly matched in size the outgoing stream, it would create swirls of mixed water. Just like I visualize in the well, as the drill mud mixes with the uprising fluids.

Do you think there is any way to stop this thing other than the two relief wells?

What is the downside of the relief wells? How is old man Murphy going to screw them up?


Rockman -- not to nitpick, as UR analogy of (what my understanding is of) the situation is very good. I'd just make it that a firm connection of the fire hose to the hydrant can be made... it's just that the hydrant body is leaking at several locations :>)


"It could be 24-48 hours before BP Plc can tell if its "top kill" operation to plug a blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico will succeed," a company spokesman said on Thursday

HOUSTON, May 27 (Reuters)

Extending the hydrant analogy, how will inserting the hose lower in the pipe feeding the hydrant have a different outcome from a hose flowing in closer to the top? In this case, what will be different about pouring in cement via a successfully cut relief well vs mud pushed in through the BOP? What will prevent the poured cement from flowing up the well and out the riser before it sets just as the mud entered via the BOP was doing?

Apparently relief wells have been successful in the past - what is the mechanism that allows them to work?

Again, thanks to Rockman and the other knowledgeable posters for bearing with us newbies who are trying to understand the complexities of the situation. We seem to have moved from oil drilling structural concepts to fluid mechanics today.

Apparently relief wells have been successful in the past - what is the mechanism that allows them to work?

When you drill a second well you keep it full of mud at all times. Whenever you hit oil or gas you have a column of mud at least as high as the depth of the formation. Since the pressure of the oil or gas is proportional to the depth, the new well does not blow out. In contrast, if you pour mud into a well that is blowing, the mud gets blown out too.

Following all this with interest, its good to have some decent technical details as to what is going on here. I'm particularly interested in the discussion as to how the total weight of the mud in the well column is the key factor in counterbalancing the reservoir pressure and hence mitigating the flow.

However I'd assume that the *rheology* of the mud is also an important issue: viscosity is just one factor here, but for nonnewtonian fluids viscosity depends on the flow conditions, particularly the shear rate. Some nonnewtonian fluids behave almost like solids or plastics at low flow rates, and become liquid over a certain point. There was one comment that these are shear-thinning. Googling "drilling mud rheology" gives very little useful technical information, I assume because most of these muds are proprietary technology.

Now I'm very familiar with pumping slurries around - I work in the mining/mineral processing industry. I've done testing on laterite slurries that look almost like clay, but become very runny when you add a bit of water and start pumping them. They are hell to work with - if you have a pipeline full of the stuff and the flow stops for *any* reason, it just solidifies and no amount of pressure will get the flow started again. So designing a 60km pipeline to transport the stuff means having a huge header tank so that if the pumps stop for some reason, you keep the flow going with water till the pipe is flushed out.

So it would seem that if you got the well filled with mud, the rheology would play an important part in whether it would be plugged.

Could anyone with technical knowledge on the rheology of these muds comment on just how important this factor is?

Good points.

I think there is another dimension to fluid viscosity as well, mentioned by knowledgeable in other threads.

If you ar trying to force the turbulent gas/oil mixture to back down of the BOP and back into the main pipe below, you want to use a "forcing" fluid of higher viscosity than the "target" fluid. Basically, you want to minimize the mixing of the two fluids at the interface. The approach works if you can maintain a reasonably well defined interface between the two fluids (ideally a surface, but could be a volume that is "thin" on the scale of the problem, probably a Reinolds number thing). If you don't and the two fluids mix continuously, you really can't maintain the local pressure differential that makes the whole thing move - you get a mess. That seems to be what we have.

I read here that the mud they use has "several" times the viscosity, but don't remember now if that was several times that of water or several times that of oil.

I've struggled trying to understand just how pumping the mud in is going to push back the oil/gas mix. If the mud is pumped in at a sufficiently high rate and a higher pressure than the well discharge pressure, it will fill the BOP - some will discharge through the holes previously leaking oil/gas, and some forced back down the well casing. Enough going down the casing was presumably meant to plug the well by hydrostatic pressure.

Now the oil/gas flowing up the well has some pressure drop due to friction, and the mixture will have hydrostatic pressure changes as well, it may be 'choked' in the two-phase flow sense - its a complex fluid flow problem. However as you start to restrict the oil/gas flow, the frictional pressure drop will decrease, so the back pressure on the mud from the well will increase. So you need to pump in the mud at higher pressure, but that just means that the quantity of mud escaping will increase. For this to work it would seem that you need a fine balancing act - keeping some flow to reduce the wellhead pressure, allowing mud to flow back down the well and not mixing with the upcoming gas/oil, all the time hoping that not much is being lost at the leaks. It will all depend on how the various fluids interact - if they do mix you are ultimately ending up with a homogeneous mixture that is only going one way - driven by the reservoir pressure.

It seems the key assumption is that there is sufficient restriction at the leaks to provide backpressure and force the mud down. A rather ambitious assumption to be rating the chances of success at 60-70%,

This is my question as well. Do they have some sort of plug ahead of the mud to pack the oil/gas mix down the hole? Like the wad in a shotgun shell? From what I understand, that is not possible b/c the riser is not an open pipe... they don't even know exactly the size of the flows of oil & gas coming up. If it is all in one stream, they would need to push that stream down. If several separate flows through different channels, they need to get them all. That, as I understand it, is why the viscosity is important.

Still, it strains credulity to believe that they can accomplish a full shut down. And, if they don't, they cannot cap it with cement - it won't set if it is flowing; and, if there are streams of material still going around it, not near those streams, at least. Hence, I foresee big holes from the get-go, which enlarge over time. The best case I see is a partial limitation of flow. Maybe that is what they want.

OTOH, the earlier reports after BP announced that they were postponing the TK sounded a lot like they were planning to do a junk shot into the BOP to block the outflow before the restarted the mud.

I don't think these guys have a clue, some times. Not that I have any good ideas. Has anyone tried duct tape?


Here are the facts as I understand them (apologies if this is a bit lengthy or too obvious):

- the lower part of the production casing (the inner most casing string) has been cemented in place, but the cement does not overlap with the next casing shoe above

- BP report that the blow out has occurred up a casing annulus and not up the main production casing bore. This implies that the cement at the production casing shoe itself is intact and that reservoir fluids are flowing through an imperfect cement job behind the production casing and up one or more of the casing annuli

- to flow out to surface from the annuli, one or more of the casing hangers in the wellhead on which the BOP sits must have failed

- it appears possible then that the main bore in which the drill pipe sits remains full of the mud that was in it prior to the blowout, unless the flowing reservoir fluids are able to reverse down the main bore from the wellhead and out of the open drillpipe (and reported flow rates out of the drillpipe prior to plugging it were very low)

- well kills are absolutely routine and generally have the objective of replacing fluid of a lower density in the well (normally reservoir fluids) with fluid of a higher density (typically mud). The pressure at the bottom of the higher density column will equal or exceed the reservoir pressure and prevent influx of reservoir fluids. The replacement of one fluid by another is normally accomplished by circulating the fluids round the well (for example down the drill pipe and up the inside of the production casing to surface, or in some cases by 'bullheading' in which the fluids in the wellbore are replaced by forcing the contents back down into the reservoir itself. This is always done with the well closed at the top.

- what is different in this case is that the well is open at the top and flowing reservoir fluids through the BOP. The production casing is closed at the bottom but the casing annulus is flowing reservoir fluids. There is no option to circulate fluids in the well, so the bullheading approach must be adopted (and note we are bullheading down the annulus not the production casing or drillpipe)

- when mud is injected into the BOP in an attempt to force the reservoir fluids back down the casing annulus and into the reservoir (and replace the column with mud) most of the mud will flow out of the breaches above the BOP. Mud must be pumped at a rate such that despite these losses, enough pressure is maintained within the BOP to force the contents of the annulus back down the well (ie the pressure in the BOP plus the hydrostatic head of the column (part mud part reservoir fluids) exceeds the reservoir pressure at the base of the well). If the overbalance at the base of the well is quite low, then this displacement process might be quite slow, despite the relatively small volume of the annulus. Frictional pressure losses in the annulus will also be low due to the low net downward flow rate (so flow restrictions due to obstructions will not likely be important)

- its important to realise that from the moment they started pumping the mud and increasing the pressure in the BOP, they have effectively stopped the well from flowing (what is exiting the riser leaks is almost certainly all mud, and no more oil is entering the annulus down below), but if they stop pumping before pushing the mud far enough down to overbalance the reservoir pressure then the well will simply start flowing again

- it begins to look like the venting of the injected mud via the BOP has not allowed them to get enough pressure differential to depress the mud level far enough down the annulus and achieve overbalance, hence the plan to inject junk (to restrict the leak path through the BOP and increase internal pressure)

- if they have actually stopped pumping then it seems likely that they will be starting from square one when the restart, which is fine if they have enough mud and if they get some help from the bridging junk

- I would expect that they would like to achieve static overbalance before pumping cement to follow the mud down the annulus (and lets hope that where the cement goes is the only leak path). But I don't see how they can prevent most of it from exiting the top of the BOP unless they use the static condition of the well to cut off the riser and cap it in some fashion (another BOP on top would do it)

- great news though that the wellhead/BOP package is taking the strain after all it has been through. Production engineers generally get jittery about the wear and tear caused by normal rig interventions, let alone the extremely brutal treatment that this one has received acting as an anchor point for a burning and drifting and ultimately sinking rig, and then a conduit for uncontrolled flow via non-standard paths.

All the diagrams that I've seen (like the one at the top of this page) just show the BOP sitting on top of a single pipe, but from your description things are somewhat more elaborate than this. Is there a more detailed diagram somewhere showing the exact configuration of the various annular casings and how they connect, where the concrete is located, where the reservoir fluids are flowing and so on?

I do have some expertise in fluid flow (as in solving difficult multiphase non-newtonian slurry flow problems for the mining/mineral processing industry in Australia is my main line of work and I fly around the world troubleshooting mineral refineries). So I'm trying to figure out what is going on from the viewpoint of an expert in fluid dynamics. I'm finding it difficult to believe that the top-kill procedure as described can possibly work - but still trying to understand exactly what the procedure is trying to accomplish in terms of the flow and interaction between the various fluids and bits of piping, casing and BOP.

Have a look here:

graphics and discussion.

strictly a weight issue, though the viscosity of the fluid does need to be able to suspend the weight of the solids in a static condition, otherwise just precipitates out.
ppg x .052(pressure gradient cu. ft. air.@sealevel) x TVD=conversion of column of fluid to psi (diameter of column irrelevant)

thats correct ...

the viscosity in terms of Newtonian fluids dictates its ability to suspend and transport solids .....the cross linking helps there as well...

what matters here is the weight of the kill mud and the pressure it creates at the oil/mud interface ...16 ppg means the mud physically weights 16 pounds when a gallon of it is weighed under STP

Caveat I was a mud logger--not a mud engineer, and despite the seeming similarity of the titles, they are pretty different jobs. The mud logger tracks the mechanical parameters of the rig, how the pumps are working, where the top drive is etc; the lithology of the cuttings coming out of the hole, and any hydrocarbon content--either gas or oil. The mud engineer actually directs the making and maintaining of the drilling fluid, so things like weight per gallon, pH, filter cake layer, viscosity and gel point were the mud engineer's area.

Having said that, I talked to a lot of mud engineers, I recorded their mud reports and included them with my morning reports, and needed to understand the drilling fluid insofar as it affected what I saw with my gear. So here goes: Drilling mud is made to liquify with the application of shear stress (ie pumping) and gel in the absence of pumping. Precisely how much depends on the specifics of the hole in question. The plan is to have the mud gel when the pumps are off to prevent gas from rising through the column, and to prevent cuttings from sedimenting to the bottom.

If I understand your question, yes the rheology of the mud is very important. If they can get heavy enough mud to the well bottom to balance the bottom hole pressure, and then stop pumping, it SHOULD hold things more or less static. If it can't balance the pressure, the flow from the well will prevent the gelling and defeat the kill. I may be wrong here, does anybody with a more pure fluids background care to sound off?

It seems that they may not have been able to get the heavy mud to the bottom of the hole. I HOPE I am wrong about that. I REALLY hope I am wrong about that.

That's a good answer. It has a reverse non-newtonian behavior, like fancy modern paint - flows nice under the brush, doesn't drip once you are done.

So, the mud would be a great choice if you did not have turbulent high speed flow (i.e. the well was shut in). You could get it to flow into the well under high pressure, and once it filled the pipe, you could rely on its non-newtonian properties to kind of slow down any movement due to residual unbalance of the forces. So you could cap it.

It would appear to be a poor choice if you are working with a turbulent, high speed flow as your "target" fluid. It will have a low viscosity "response", mixing with the other fluid and not able to maintain the local pressure differential needed for the interface to move into the well. So you couldn't cap it.

There is a (NSF Animal Lovers) analogy one uses when confronted with an impossible or futile task: "Its like trying to push butter up a cat's asshole using a hot needle".

Seems to me that the analogy is a *particularly* appropriate one here, with the cat being the well, the butter the oil/gas flow and the needle the mud.

Dimitry, I am a complete layman, but here is how I imagine this, i.e., I don't quite understand what you said. I suppose that if there is a given pressure difference between the space below the shear rams and the space above them, and the open conduits between these spaces have a certain cross section, then you get a certain flow of fluids from the former space to the latter. If you increase the pressure difference, the flow increases. On the other hand, there is a balance of pressures and flow velocities from the well head to the space below the shear ram. If you then force a certain volume (per unit time) of mud into this space, the pressure in this space must necessarily increase until the outflow above and the inflow below have changed correspondingly. As the pressure in this space increases, the outflow to the riser increases, while the inflow from the well head is reduced. Notice that this idea does not depend on the mixing or not of the fluids.

If at a point the flow of mud forced into said space equals the (increased) flow of fluids past the shear rams, then the /net/ inflow from below must go down to zero. At this point the oil coming up through the well head no longer has a high velocity. A zero net flow can be just a zero flow, or the sum of a down-flow and an up-flow. In the latter case, there is some mud going down in spite of the oil still going up. In the other case, there is no turbulent mixing with oil from below, as whatever oil is still in the space where the mud is injected, gets drained from this space.

If the forced inflow of mud is increased even more, some of the mud must go down the well.

However, what remains a possibility (given my ignorance) is that this point is reached only when the pressure in said space is also increased to the point where the BOP or the well head structures are destroyed, or the flow past the shear rams becomes so violent that the erosion is greatly increased, and thereby the cross section of the conduits past the rams increases to the point that the pumps are unable to supply mud fast enough.

If there is an erosion problem but not a too violent one, I imagine the possibility that before the erosion gets too bad, enough mud has crept down the well to add some weight to the column. If at this point the inflow of mud is briefly turned off, it takes some time to accelerate the fluid in the column, and in the mean time the pressure and the flow past the shear rams is much reduced. At this point a "junk shot" will be less violent on the shear rams since there will be less hammer effect when rubber pieces lodge. This is the only reason I have been able to come up with for why the top kill does not start with a junk shot right away.

Any comments?

Replacing oil & gas supercritical mixture with mud will vastly increase the density/mass, and inertia of teh column coming up. We had 16 hours to push out much of the mud (some left) and re-establish flow before the junk shot.

So I like the thinking behind this, but it appears flawed to me.


My comments above were general in nature. In the specific case, it may well be that they can get the mud into the well head, but not in a way that facilitates driving the oil/gas mixture down in a controlled manner. For that to occur, there must be a defined interface maintained between the two fluids. This condition is aided by the high pressure fluid (in this case mud) being of higher viscosity. As a though experiment, they can drive the well oil/gas mixture easier with molasses than with alcohol, even if we can get both of these with the same density. Drilling mud, unfortunately exhibits the lower viscosity when moving, so when it enters the turbulent flow it is less likely to maintain a fluid interface and drive the oil/gas mixture down. In other words, all things being equal it is less likely to maintain the needed pressure gradient below and more likely to escape above.

Practically, though, in either case one would need the pressure inside the BOP greater than the local stagnation pressure of the oil/gas mixture. If there are internal obstructions that drop the pressure of the oil/gas mixture by the time it gets to the BOP, the internal BOP mud pressure must be greater than the pressure below the obstruction for any flow to start moving down. Since this well appears to be very high pressure, it is a very tall order to maintain this level of pressure with the top of the BOP nearly open.

Finally, since there is turbulent flow throughout the BOP and likely into the well head with lots of fluid mixing and no well defined oil/gas to mud interface, it is unclear how the injected cement can set in this environment. For this to occur, there must be no flow somewhere in the critical area for the cement to be at rest long enough not to be diluted by the flow.

I have not seen this posted here before, but Matthew Simmons thinks BP has filled the wrong hole:

However, if the plume came from another leak which is thought to be the “elephant behind the mouse,” it would explain why there has been so much confusion about the spill rate, and why there is so much oil on the surface.

“All that oil didn’t come from that little dinky hole,” industry expert Matthew Simons said.

Simmons believes that when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, "the riser blew off the wellhead and it’s still hooked to the rig,” about 7 miles away.

Can some of the experts here please comment this?

I'm not an expert, but even I can tell that the "experts" quoted in the article are *also* not experts. The giveaway is the ol' "just detonate a bumb down there" as the closing kicker. The floor of the gulf is soft fine mud. Imagine detonating a bomb in jello or pudding -- would that seal anything up?

The oil did come from the "little dinky hole" -- because it's flowing at almost unimaginable pressures. If you don't understand that, sure you may be looking for other sources -- but you're also surely not an "expert".

I would think that BP would know if the riser were still attached to the well head or not.

Simmons is nuttier than a fruitcake.

I've watched the interview with Simmons and Possi that these quotes were taken from. From what I was able to pick out of the conversation, they are making some VERY INTERESTING claims:

1. The riser is still attached to the Horizon and the oil we see coming out of the end of it is actually coming out of a tank somewhere on the sunken drill rig. I couldn't figure out where they thought the GAS may be coming from.

2. We've all seen the two main leaks from the riser (top of the BOP/riser kink and end of the riser) and there was the third leak at the end of the drill pipe before that was valved and shut off. These two clowns are claiming that the REAL leak from this well is somewhere about 6 or 7 miles away from where all those ships and ROVs are working. There was no explanation of how the oil might be traveling from the GPS coordinates where the Horizon was drilling to where they claim it is coming up from the sea floor.

3. Both Simmons and Possi have suggested that military high explosives are an (the?) appropriate solution to this problem. In fact, Simmons suggested that the navy should "drop a bomb down the bore". If we ignore the little problem involving getting any such bomb past the kinked-up riser and/or partially-actuated shear rams in the BOP AND the fact that the inner casing of the well is something less than 10" inner diameter - thus SEVERELY LIMITING the size of bomb that could be shoved down the bore, we are STILL left with the problem that any such explosion would introduce NUMEROUS new leak paths to either the surface or to new reservoirs higher in the geological strata.

From what I understand, Simmons may once have had some credibility in the field. As far as I'm concerned, on the basis of what I've seen him say in the last few days, he's now got about as much credibility as George W. Bush had when he was in the oval office.

Personally, I have MUCH more confidence in what I hear from Heading Out, ROCKMAN, Shelburn, or many other posters in this forum.

Simmon's comments were highly embarrassing.

I'm not an expert, but in my judgment it is complete bunk.

For many years now I have had a good amount of respect for Matt and his collective body of work. Could someone who knows him or at least has met and talked to him tell me why during this event, he's coming off sounding like a nutter? Reason I ask is at least in the MSM this can put all the real work backed up with evidence he has done over the years on PO in jepordy. I know he has never exactly been mainstream but some of what he is saying is directly contradicting what we can see from the ROV's.

I think he is in love with seeing himself on the news channels as a 'talking head.' I mean, he never had this degree of coverage just for PO, and the MSM will listen to anyone on the BP spill, especially if they say something provocative.


By far the most pessimistic take on the oil spill comes from oil guru Matthew Simmons, who was on The Dylan Ratigan Show this afternoon. His warning: There may be no way to stop the leak, and it could take 9000 days (over 24 years) for the gusher to end, while we wait for the well to simply run out. Simmons comes in around the 7 minute mark.

He sounds barking mad!


HOUSTON — BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the problem was not seen as serious.


New York Times wrote:
A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.

Stopping the pumping of mud would explain why the leaking stuff turned to a darker brown color last night but not why the LA Times proclaimed success in stopping the oil leak around 8:27 am PDT this morning.

trying to wrap my head around what I am looking at in the livestream, and it seems you folks could easily help with my noobish questions...

1) I understand we are currently looking at the top of the BOP, and the stuff is gushing out of the attached riser pipe, which is bent & cracked. Correct?
2) Yesterday the TOV camera showed a different place, as I understood the end of the ripped off riser lying on the seabed. It appeared to me that much more fluid was escaping through the end of the riser pipe, compared to the cracks near the BOP. Has anyone seen this angle since the top kill started? Wouldn't that picture give a much better indicator about progress in terms of reducing pressure/clogging the BOP?

Let's not forget who is giving us all the information on how this "top kill" is going...BP...who has not been truthful about any aspect of this disaster. And how many times now have we heard the line "things are moving along smoothly"...first it was used when they were lowering the first containment structure. It failed. Then with the "top hat" container. It failed. Then with the insertion tube. It failed. And now this. And something I'm not sure has been brought up, but what exactly was going on that rig on the hours leading up to the explosion? Why so much disagreement? Why did some of the rig workers predict this was going to happen? And just one more question, don"t these rigs have black boxes, like those on commercial airplanes, and where is that black box?

this is not going well....

they've been pumping for 27 hrs now at avg rate of 19.2 gal/min ......30000 bbl of kill mud out ...this is starting to look like SIDPP/SICP equalization is not going to happen here ......bullheading is not working here folks....

and wellbore has to be exhaling/breathing by now .....

always was a long shot bullheading a flowing well.....can't blame em' for trying though ....

BP really should have been honest with the chance of success here being 50%. I also wonder why they didn't drill a parallel well right away so they would eventually have the scary option of lighting off conventional explosive and collapsing the well hole. Now we'll probably have to wait for the first relief well, unless the plan on starting over with another 50,000 barrels of mud. This is not good news for the BOP. shakes head.....

sucess rated at 50% is optimistic .....the well is flowing kill has a very low chance of success on flowing wells......let alone one thats been flowing at a clip ....

this is the reason is called bullheading ....basically two fronts oil and one mud are duking it out the the fluid interface and each front has momentum behind it and BP is hoping the momentum of the mud will win ....two bulls pushing each other and hence bullheading( little oil field history here)

thank you. the history AND your insights really help make this clearer.

I suppose that in order to "collapse the well hole" you would have to have the explosives fill at least one third of the length of the bore with rock and sand, otherwise the pressure of the oil would just push the dirt out of the hole.

Why not pump the mud in at a much higher rate?

In order to increase the pumping rate, you must increase pressure inside the casing of the BOP and all along the supply plumbing. I'm not sure where the weakest link in the chain is, but I AM sure that they don't want to find out by overpressuring it to failure.

It was mentioned in the previous thread that the mud was water-based, and inferred that it was less toxic. Can it be inferred that the sg of the mud was insufficient to equalize the pressure downhole because of it's less-toxic properties. E.g. - minus barium?

no ..they can change weight of the mud on the fly .....oil based or water based means the delivery mechanism is oil based (diesel) or water ....oil based muds can be significantly strengthened with cross linking polymers to increased absolute viscosity which is the ability to suspend and deliver solids .....what matters here is the mud weight....barite is what is mixed in the mud to increase the mud weight .......

calculating mud weight for kill mud is a basic calculation and BP knows what the mud wight is ....what they have no control over is what direction the mud flows and how much .....same goes for the wellbore ....the idea is to force mud along the well but the mud is flowing into the rocks underground (losing fluid in formation) and so its not going where it needs to go to be effective....

now they cant simply keep increasing weight on the mud arbitrarily....csg and liner burst pressures.....formation pore pressure .....many things come into play ....but i think the biggest worry has to be the BOP stack itself and casing seats ....

Thanks. I had thought that barium was disallowed for some reason.

So if as Rockman and others have said, and this topkill isn't working, considering the amount of mud that has been pumped in, when do you guys think they might let the media in on it? News stations still saying..." everything is going well at this point".

Well, there is a press conference at 5:30 Eastern time.

Well they would probably announce a delay and explain to the media we are looking at our options....The problem is once they stopped pumping that mud the oil is going to come shooting back out again.

I also read on here today that Barry is calling a 6 month delay in deepwater drilling??? shakes head if the oil companies drill 2 relief wells in each location I see no reason why we can't start drilling again. The last thing we need here is another 3000 people out of work.

I reluctantly support the 6 month pause.

1) We need to make SURE the BOPs work ! Another blow-out now would be beyond catastrophic (and yes, it COULD happen !)

2) Lessons need to be learned and implemented. Simply not a two week process.

3) We have *NO* reserve spill clean-up resources. Even a small spill will require taking men and resources off the front line. In 6 months, we will still be cleaning up Lake Palin, but it will no longer be (I HOPE !) an all out desperate effort then.


Are they going to rip out 4,000 BOP's and replace them? Can any of them cut a tool joint?

They'll be able to drill 10 miles from New Orleans in six months. The wetlands will be gone. But that's kind of want the oil industry wants isn't it.

If there is a one-month delay in all deep-water drilling after each blowout, the whole trade will /want/ to have strict enforcement of the regulations, lest some "cowboy capitalist" company or rig boss take irresponsible shortcuts.

A six-month delay after every near-accident would be even more efficient in reforming the culture of the trade. They would begin hiring large numbers of psychologists to investigate the social mechanisms behind the failures.

New to this BOP oil rig stuff. But just to get a gage on the size of what I am looking at with the live stream. What is the diameter of the BOP head or cap (the white thing with 4 plums coming out of it)? Looked for schematics and looks like a range of about 12" to about 36"

21" before being stretched and bent.

I have a question about the video. What is the scale of the pipes we are seeing and the plumes coming out of the leaks? It is hard to interpret without some idea of the size of these things. Is the pipe 2" or 20" in diameter????


The original diameter of the riser was 20 inches or 22 inches. It is currently bent over in an approximately 90 degree angle and squished a little wider than its original diameter.

It's been noted we haven't seen the end of the riser for a long time. Given that that was always assumed to be the major part of the outflow, I assume that must also be where most of the mud is going. Is there any possibility of blocking that off? I'd think the whole riser is mostly full of mud now, but I don't know if that'd make it easier or harder to block it at the end. On the other hand, maybe it's so buried in mud now nobody could find it.

Seriously, though, at this point could the riser be somehow crimped or clamped off? If pressure is really near zero from the well, it seems it should maybe be possible, and ought to generate more back pressure than, say , patching the holes at the riser bend.

If the end is capped allowing the pressure to increase, the riser would probably spring several leaks along its length because it is damaged. Leaks in many locations would be harder to control than in two locations.

If you look at the video live feed you can now see the tube sparaying the dispersant again(right corner of feed) so the oil is leaking again and it appears to be coming out at an increased rate.

I don't know if that's really dispersant; to my eye the current feed doesn't look particularly different from the stills at the beginning of which also have a stream on the right side of the riser. If they really stopped pumping mud, though, I'd guess we'll see black pretty soon.


the weight of the mud should? Be counter-ballancing the upthrust of the well, but is this a case that we don't have a stable well, or that leaks in the riser are requiring the pumps to run harder that should be? Equilibrium should mean that no pumping is required if a weight balance is reached.

Seems to me the well is not stable.

I suspect the next move is a new BOP head whilst the pressures are low.

Epic stuff. This is gonna make a cracking movie....

Well, that was an incredible amount of tap-dancing.

haha... it's not over yet. bp guy is not in the best mood today.

How is doing this with the Relief Well any easier? After they intersect the well, and push mud again, it will also just go up the main well hole right? The well is flowing, I don't understand why it is any different trying to push against it at the top or the bottom. Same problem. Can someone explain how this is done exactly with the relief well?

The relief well intersects the wild well a few hundred feet above the oil & gas reservoir. It spends 1 to 3 weeks (I have read various times) TRYING to mill through the steel (<50% chance each attempt) on the last foot. Once it succeeds it pumps in kill mud into the bottom of the well and kills flow. Then cemented in.

If relief well attempt to mill through fails, week plus to back up and start over a few feet up or down.

THEN wild well is reentered and a series of concrete plugs are poured in the original well bore.


OK - was lurking for days and decided to jump in. See my bio for my industry background.

In this case, it's almost certain that the flow is coming up the outside of the production casing string, so you don't want to mill a window in it. Instead, the relief well has to get very close to the old wellbore and establish communication with it.

Once that's done, you can pump like craazy down the relief well and begin mixing heavy mud with the produced fluids at the source. Remember, that the velocities are much lower downhole because the gas is unlikely to be coming out of solution until the pressure is relieved up the wellbore. (I always thought the topkill would fail, because it's like pissing into the wind -- there are so many leaks above the stack that they can't establish enough backpressure to halt the well flow and start the mud going south. If they can get enough bridging with the junk shot, it might have a chance, IMHO)

Anyway, back to the relief well -- As the mud adds hydrostatic pressure, it slows the rate into the wellbore (as per Darcy's law), which means that the ratio of mud to oil increases, which further increases the mud/oil ratio, which further increases the hydrostatic head. This cycle continues until no more oil flows and it's only mud circulating up the old casing annulus.

Once the flow stops, then BP can remove the old LMRP, connect a 2nd BOP stack on to of the old one, open the old rams, and begin permanent P@A operations (assuming its not a casing collapse below the hangar, in which case I think the only option would be to bullhead cement from the top and pump enough of it that if plugs off the annulus between the production casing and intermediate string).

> After they intersect the well

I doubt there was ever any sort of geomag tool run down that hole - they dont have a clue where the wellbore really is down there except from the MWD logs, I'll speculate. If so, then the chances of intersecting that 7" rathole at TD, even with multiple branch attempts is small. Negligible even.

That's why they're drilling two RWs

Surely for a well that expensive they have done a wellbore survey so they have a good idea where the bottom hole location is.

Also in Canadian SAGD fields they use a technology to drill horizontal wells parallel to already existing wells. I don't know the name of the technology but I would think that they could use something like that here to detect the (nearly) exact location of the existing vertical wellbore.

BP was in the process of closing the well, I believe it was exploratory. The exact geometry was likely not interesting enough to make a separate log run. But I'm only speculating here. There are sensor logtools which can detect possible collisions, but my understanding is that their penetration is limited. Accidental intersections are relatively common in complex fields. In any case, it will certainly be a probing process once TD is acheived.

yes...if anything Obama can force BP to do to drill maybe another two wells in case the first 2 don't intersect.......

this will be another drama in august...BP needs to come out cleanly and say there is a good chance the first relief well might not be enough ....this can easily take 2 or 3 tries to do .....

add in the hurricane season and BP has a steep hill to climb from here on forward

According to CNN, the GOM is 4 degrees hotter than normal for this time for year. I think that someone posted a link to Jeff Masters' thoughts about major hurricanes driving the oil and chemical dispersants ashore across a wide area. Because of the oil and chemical threat, can you imagine the scale of the evacuation we would see if a Katrina size hurricane came ashore through the oil slicks?

It would be nice if this were all a collective nightmare we are having, and we could wake up at some point.

Also according to CNN Int. (weather-forecast). They're expecting 19-23 named storms (average 11) and 3-7 major hurricanes (average 2) this season.
Hopefully BP has managed to plug the holes by then. God bless the wildlife and those living in/off that hazard prone area.

I think we need a 'redo' here. 28 years should be about right, but only if the guys at the top get the same redo and promise to do it right this time. Maybe this time we reelect Carter?


You know, Craig, I voted for 'im. In 1980 too.

But alas, we live in an idiocracy...

BP wanted to only drill one RW. Thad Allen demanded two (I would have demanded four or five !)

This well was almost completed for future production. First class crew & equipment. They knew where the wild well is and RW drillbit sensors can find the exact location once they are within a few feet. Some of this per Rockman.


They don't have to "know" where it is. They use a powerful electrical field (basically a fancy induction tool) and azimuthal sensors to detect the steel of the orginal well's casing/drill-string. The ellipse of uncertainty on the directional tools isn't as big as you think, so all they do is drill close to where they think it is, and use the sensor to guide them to the original wellbore. Intersecting is easy.

So have I got this correct? The pumping of the mud has stopped as of now, and they are re-stocking their mud to get ready to try it again tonight? And possibly with the "junk shot" included? What is happening or has happend to all the mud they have pumped in so far? Just leaking out onto the seafloor? And out of the holes above BOP?

BP guy says now that they have stopped pumping mud for some time now.
So if the feeds ARE live right now, all what we are seeing coming out right now must be oil/gas!!
Doesn't look good to me....

It seems that for 16 hours what we have seen is the mud being pushed out by formation pressure. An hour or two ago I noticed one of the plumes had changed color (darker), so it seems the mud they pushed down last night has about all been pushed back out. This was likely a test to see if things would hold together and determining pressure requirements before taking the next step (junk shot/more mud/cement). They should have a pretty good idea of what the well pressure is now, and whether the mud they are using is the correct weight.

Hmmmm.. if they stopped 16 hours ago, that means approx. 10000 barrels of mud coming out of the well? Based on a flowrate of 12-19 Kbls per day?
I that possible?

The specific gravity, flow characteristics and friction factor of the mud would be different from the oil/gas mixture. Also, the rate of mud flow back out of the well wouldn't be linear because of the gradually diminishing weight of the mud column atop the oil/gas column (as mud is expelled).

The flow rate of mud would be tough to calculate. They know how much they pumped, but likely not how much actually entered the well bore vs. what leaked out. I suspect that is one of the things they are trying to determine. This was a data collection exercise rather than an actual top kill attempt.

Edit: Suttles just confirmed what I said here. They needed to know how much mud was going down the well. This is why they stopped pumping and waited (16 hours) until the oil started coming out again. He just said that they resumed pumping about an hour ago.

So they pushed a boatload and a half of mud thru a damaged BOP and into the GOM just for a test? Going to be real embarrasing when the junk shot fails because of an eroded BOP.

that's my read. I think they're going to try changes with the materials and the spec grav of the mud, and the pressure--all variables they can play with.

all that mud is probably gone right back out, yes.

you cannot start and stop a top kill on a flowing kill on a flowing well is a one shot procedure......once the mud pumps stop, top kill is effectively over for a flowing essentially what they will be doing if they start pumping again is top kill attempt No 2.....

i think BP engineers have given up ....this was a long shot anyways ...BP is just blathering and will soon announce that top kill has failed completely .....

It will be completely flushed out of the system. The top kill is an all or nothing proposition, you have to overcome the gas-oil flow up the bore hole.

As somebody mentioned before, using mercury and thousands of tons of it would overwhelm the gas-oil stream by the large density differential (i.e. it would not be blended completely by turbulent mixing in the BOP and borehole). But this is never going to be tried and at the end of the day the relief wells are the only solution.

They stopped pumping mud at 11 p.m. LAST NIGHT. It "worked" only in the sense that while it was firehose-on-firehose, things stopped for a moment. This is not working.

I strongly suspect that was a misstatement, and that he meant that the oil had stopped flowing at that time.

No, he was asked a follow-up on it from the Times-Picayune and confirmed there had been absolutely no pumping today. He explicitly noted what we were seeing on the feed was oil and gas. Pumping ceased last night before midnight.

Bizarre. We saw them test the flow and nobody saw any oil on that wrench...

The sound dropped out a couple of times here, so you may be right, but then... what emptied the 30k bbl mud barge?

According to him, total amount of mud was around 15k bbl if I understood that right.

Gah. Now confirmed...

"We have not yet pumped today," Suttles said. The light-brown material that's been seen flowing out of the well throughout Thursday was the previously pumped fluid mixed with oil.

Suttles said that less than 15,000 barrels of mud had been pumped, total.

All he said was they managed to "decrease" the amount of oil and gas coming up while pumping in mud, and pressed about what part of the operation had been a success, he responded "pumping mud in the wellhead". oh dear.

Hmmm. Wonder why they haven't been showing any video from the riser break? To avoid breaking the illusion that the top-kill was working?

I think he said "as of the start of this press conference". So probably a couple of hours ago.

No, it has been 16 hours since pumping completely ceased.

They're talking about this 16 hours on CNN right now.

This really, really sucks.

The problem itself really sucks and now BP continues with this spin. My gosh.

I don't get them. Do they think they are "beyond whatever"..

Suttles is going to be on John King's show. (I think it's 6 EDT CNN)

Hopefully this 16 hour thing will get clarified.

Suttles made it very clear during the news conference... they last poured in mud around 11 pm last night.

Suttles scuttled around and John King's questioning was not aggressive enough (In my opinion)

It was hard to figure out what was going on.

Media furious:

#OilSpill more: BP says it stopped pumping mud into well 16 hours ago, but will pump again soon. Waited until end of business day to tell us

More action in the live feed again, looks like they prepare for "Top Kill: The Revenge"

Idea. I don't think this is insane...

Could they setup additional mud shots through the riser holes? Maybe with something to partially block the flow, or maybe position it/them at a choke point to maximize effectiveness? Increase push pressure beyond the riser holes to force primary mud down the well.

Get 10-12 mud ships, 3-4 additional mud pipes/manifolds (or maybe 1 if going for an internal choke point or corner). Fire cement into the primary hole (non-riser) if pressure levels allow it.

There will still be considerable outflow for sure (hopefully decreased?). I imagine this could further damage/increase the riser leaks as well (possibly dramatically).

Member for over three years, maybe my third post...

Is there any way in which things are meaningfully better than they were 24 hours ago, or is it only worse because of erosion to BOP/existing leaks and obviously additional leakage.

One less day's worth of oil polluting the Gulf till the relief wells work.


Only that more people are aware of the dire situation we're all in. Hopefully the response will increase.

Obviously there's about 15,000bb of toxic mud in the sea and many of the leaks have likely enlarged too.

On a completely non-technical note, it is truly amazing to me that all those shrill voices out there who would lead us to believe that the federal government is the the root of all evil are either completely silent now or more likely the same loud voices that are criticizing the feds for not taking a much bigger role sooner.

what has happened essentially is

Top Kill Attempt No 1 failed last night....they pumped 30000 bbl of kill mud in 10 hrs ......thats 50 bbl per min ....or 2100 gal per min .....and if they really had to go upto 2100 gal per min to jam the mud downhole that means they are loosing a lot of kill fluid through the leaks and not enough is making its way downhole or they are loosing ti all in the formation..

going forward for top kill attempt no 2

the only thing left to even try is ....pump junk in the BOP ....hope a few pieces stick and provide enough coverage on the leaks that when they pump mud again it goes downhole....this is the only logical attempt they have

we are in 10% or less success chances range here mistake

I *think* Suttle said they've only pumped something around 15000 bbl of kill mud.

here's where this thing goes to hell in a handbasket....

and why top kill attempt no 2 will not work ...

if they pumped for 10 hrs and all the time its been kill fluid +oil+gas thats been coming out that means not only was kill fluid able to pass into the formation but the well is breathing now ....essentially there are spots within the wellbore that have pressure communication across the wellbore not only did the kill fluid pass into formation flowed under reservoir pressures back into the wellbore ...this kind of open communication suggests to me there are not problem spots downhole but problem zones ...this is getting tougher and tougher .... (this post assumes the best case scenario that BP was able to stop oil flow yesterday at some point and actually got a column of kill mud downhole....this is a big assumption)

Reactionary dribble.

This has never been done before so far down in the water. How can you predict a 10% chance of it working?
We don't know, no one knows at this point if they are going to be able to slow down the flow of oil and gas to try something else or try to stop it using this method.
They haven't given up on the top kill yet.

Looks like are going again from all the activity. What was that red led gauge for? It read ~2200.

The led gauge and the shot of the 2 round things surrounded with bolts. I've seen them look at those a number of times. One looks like it a pin sticking out. Maybe like a blown fuse.

Was wondering same thing. They had plugged something in, then twisted the knob, and then the timer started. Not sure what it's for. It started somewhere around 22:30 (or thereabouts).

It dropped to around 2200 and stopped, flucuating a bit, seemed like some sort of pressure gauge to me.

I had the impression that was the control box for the newly-added flexible kill line (the one marked with the "BOP <--" and "--> Kill" lettering).

That ROV definitely switched from "C" to "O" on the valve, so perhaps that LED readout was the pressure gauge(gal/min?) and this action marked the restart of the pumping?

I like Rockman's fire hose-to-hydrant analogy. Except, things are a bit more complicated which, of course, makes his conclusion even more correct. Sigh...

As you can see from the recently added diagram of the BOP and the mud lines, the mud (unlike the water in Rockman's fire hose) can also travel upwards through the center of the BOP. When the mud gets to the center of the BOP, it has to make a "decision": Go down the well bore or go up? Going up is probably the path of least resistance. Because of the holes at the top of the BOP, it only has to overcome the pressure of 5,000 feet of water (and some additional pressure because it has to go through the holes). If it decides to go down into the well, it has to overcome the pressure of the oil and gas which is higher than the pressure of the 5,000 feet of water since we have all seen the gas/oil mixture flowing out of the BOP and the damaged riser.

So, how can we make the mud go down and push against the gas/oil instead of flowing out? Plug the holes at the top of the BOP. Therefore, junk shot. if we could only tell, sorry guide, the "junk" to go up instead of down when they enter the center of the BOP.

Something else that I am not at all certain about. How do we know that they are only losing mud from the top? Have they measured the flow? How can they be sure that they are not losing mud in the formation? Who knows the shape of the walls of the well? One last thing. For the mud to work and form a seal, it has to stop moving. It is a thixotropic fluid and its viscosity goes down if it flows at high velocity or you shear it with counter-flowing gas or oil.

I really hope I am wrong and somebody (who knows better) tells me so.

I also appreciate Rockman's analogy.

What I don't understand - and asked about higher up in the thread - is how a relief well works. Assuming the establishment of a successful entry from the relief well to the problem well, the cement being poured in will have the same choice to make as yesterday's mud - go up the bore or down into the formation? Unless there is some way to put in a solid, as opposed to liquid, plug, it seems it would just shoot up along with the gas and oil. I'm obviously missing something.

Top Kill did not have a 18,000+' column of kill mud and no leaks out the side (which the relief well will have).


Rainy day, before you pour cement, you pour in more mud. Yes, the mud shoots up along with the gas and the oil. That is how it fills the wild well from below. It adds to the weight of the column of oil, gas and mud in the wild well. This weight is what slows down the oil and gas coming out of the formation. When the flow of oil slows, the ratio of mud to oil in the column tends to more mud. That makes the column even heavier, etc. Eventually the wild well is full of mud and the flow stops. Then you pour in cement.

Now, this is my fantasy, I do not actually know anything. With a grain of salt.

The difference is when the present well is cemented from the relief well the relief well will have a string of pipe inside the open hole annulus or cased if need be. There will be another smaller OD string of pipe inside this one. This enables fluid to be pumped down and back up around the outside of the pump in string. When the calulated amount of cement is pumped down the inner string and enough fluid is pumped to get the cement to bottom of the stringThe BOPS rememer those are closed around the inner string then the fluid can no longer be moved up the cement is forced into the other well. See my other more detaild post about how this was accomplished once I know personally of.


Intuitively picture this:
As the mud from the RW flows into the well under the considerable pressure of its 18,000 foot column, and upward from the considerable pressure of the formation, it will reach an equilibrium point at a certain distance where its weight counterbalances the force of the rising oil.

The difference between this case and the top kill is that there is a 13,000 foot column to fill with mud before it reaches the leaking BOP above. It will acquire a considerable mass before the column is filled, and before any mud is lost through the leaks above.

The weight of the column in the RW won't force the mud downward when it first enters the oil flow, but being forced upward doesn't matter as long as there is a column length great enough to accommodate the required mass of mud.

Fighting neither gravity nor upward oil flow whereas the top kill is fighting both.


Thanks everybody... it's reassuring to understand how that will work even though it will take way too long to get to that point.

I just returned from a brief walk out in the marshlands of the SF Bay ... they're hardly pristine in their current state, but at least the pickleweed and cordgrass aren't covered in sloshing oil, and the cliff swallows can freely skim along the water surface to pick up liquid to build their nests. My sympathy to all of you who love the gulf coast and its inhabitants.

It just amazes me, that BP let all of us think, for the last 16 hours or so...that mud was being pumped into that hole. WHY oh WHY didn't they come out this morning and tell everyone this? Do they really think by hiding the truth like this for this long...its helping their PR? I mean cmonnnnn I for one live here along the gulf coast, Im a big girl, my husband is a big boy...we can handle the truth. IF something doesn't WORK...tell us within a decent timeframe that it doesn't work, we can handle it. Sorry for the rant, but my nerves are just about shot concerning this entire mess.

Jessica, I wonder about it as well. I suspect that a crack team of social psychologists an semioticians spent the time formulating the government script and the corporate script to minimize the negative impact of killing Top Kill Stage 1 on the general public.

Mine, too, and if Admiral Thad Allen says one more time "I am confident I am getting the total truth from BP. I have "Tony's" (as in BP's CEO Tony Hayward) cell number in my pocket"...... I may throw something. I had a lot of respect for Admiral Allen prior to this, but from Louisiana, it looks like BP has Thad Allen in their pocket.

sorry, rant over

It just amazes me, that BP let all of us think, for the last 16 hours or so

Hmmm ... putting on my tinfoil hat, wonder who knew what was really going on and bought some BP stock or options early this morning and then sold in the afternoon. It closed up 7% today ... not bad interest rate for a few hours, even better leveraged through options.

(and I agree with the comments about Allen - he is either very gullible or doesn't want to disrupt his working relationship. Landry and Suttles are looking chummy too, although somewhat less so today. Stockholm syndrome setting in?)

Thank you, Jessica! I have been sitting here fuming - thinking that bp let us and the press think all day that we were seeing this "top kill" process. They've been saying "everything is going according to plan". But what is the plan? To me, the plan seems to be to pacify the public. So we keep having these "attempts" of one kind or another. And every attempt leads to a postponement and another and another. I disagree with the person who thinks there are a bunch of psychologists planning this. Indeed, their strategy of doling out information and raising hopes is only going to sow "mistrust" - and cynicism, and this is speaking as a psychologist myself.

I am very upset as day by day more and more oil gushes. And I do not want my attention or my concern betrayed by the withholding of crucial information. Speaking as a clinical psychologist, this strategy of withholding essential information is a mistake! It feeds irrational hopes. And it will end in irrational rage due to a sense of betrayal.

Anyone from bp who is reading this thread, pay attention! Because trying to mislead the public is a recipe for an enraged public! Give us the information - on a timely basis. And don't let people spend an entire night and work day believing progress is being made, only to find that we've been snookered!

I came back the third day after they would let be through the checkpoint (70130 zip code, one of those allowed back) after Katrina. I saw a lot, knew a lot more, felt the suffering, and helped.

My proudest accomplishment post-K was keeping a resident psychiatrist (we were down to just 21 with MASSIVE mental health pandemic and suicides) from giving up and quitting (she told me as much). Her heroic efforts positively affected not hundreds but thousands.

Now this. I find myself unable to reach out to others as I did before.

Bitterness and anger are concepts simply too weak, too shallow to describe myself.

Katrina was transformational. I suspect BP will be as well.

But I worry about my friends and neighbors, my fellow New Orleanians and Louisianians.

Charlie Melancon was truly representative of us all.

And at this ONE particular time, windows are opening (after decades of effort) for actually DOING something to prepare for a post-Peak Oil world, reducing the trauma just a bit for hundreds of millions.

My cup runneth over.

Good Bye for Now,


I always admire your optimism Alan, even if I don't always share it. Rest, spend time with friends, stop watching for a while.

Here, here! 100% agreement. I WISH I could share your optimism, wish I could unload some of your burden, and wish you the best. Have a good night and I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the US military and BP are already partners.Makes me wonder if they don't control everything.

US Military Fuel Contracts

April 06, 2010 -- "Air BP, Warrenville, Ill. is being awarded a maximum $124,754,182 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation turbine fuel." [2]

16-Aug-2009 -- "BP West Coast Products (dba Arco) in La Palma, CA won a maximum $516.8 million fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (SP0600-09-D-0512) for aviation fuel." [3]

August 24, 2008 -- "Air BP, Warrenville, Ill. is being awarded a maximum $12,446,821 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel."[4]

September 14, 2005 -- "BP West Coast Products LLC, La Palma, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $587,804,938 fixed price with economic price adjustment for JP8 Turbine Fuel and F-76 Fuel for Defense Energy Support Center. " [5]

They're killing time. They've killed over two weeks with this fantasy. Killed a week with the dome, then told us a top hat (operation sombrero, Ixtoc 1979), then the siphon.

Everything that could be executed in few days is strung out for a week or too. They're hoping they'll wake up one morning and the relief well will be finished and they can be done with those rude, ungrateful Amuurricans.

Okay, so top kill attempt #1 has failed. Is it reasonable to start thinking that we've entered worst case scenario territory and that the permanent solution, the relief well(s), will turn out to be the shortest term solutions?

If so, what is the worst case? Does the well just bleed out at ~20K bbl/day for the next 2-3 months? Or will the flow slowly decrease as the pressure from the formation falls?

The BP blowout is similar to the Ixtoc 1 blowout, except of course for the huge difference in water depths:

It took Pemex nine months to kill the blowout well with relief wells.

It certainly sounds similar.

Another difference:
There wasn't media involved with Ixtoc 1.

I'm just an old oil-field brat who is trying to follow along. :)

I am confused about why there has not been more talk about Ixtoc 1 or the Montara blowout. It seems the MSM comparisons to Valdez are just silly. Are they avoiding comparison with Ixtoc 1 & Montara because they don't want people to understand that the odds are the relief wells are the answer, and they it is not likely to be quick?

Montara was fairly quick, but it took 4 tries before a relief well did the trick.

I think it borders on criminal to let people think there is anything but an outside chance that this will be over quick and easy.

But then I don't understand wth is wrong with people who are too lazy to look up previous similar situations?

A big Thank You to the posters here with knowledge who have donated their time to help the curious but clueless like myself to understand just a little better!

There's no MSM investigative journalism. Jimmy Olsen's got to cover this, Arizona, N Korea, and the local fish fry. I guarantee most of us know more than any reporter or politician involved.

But the largest obstacle is willful ignorance. How many posts here and elsewhere start: "I'm not an expert." Everything happening right now is so simple a child could understand.

We've been trained that people with white teeth and fine suits are more competent than the average grease monkey or janitor. A Nobel prize means you're capable of running a hedge fund and solving the AIDS crisis in Africa.

There's a farmer in Idaho right now that realizes exactly the outcome and possibly the fix for this situation, but he knows from experience as soon as he fixes this problem the "man gods" will destroy something else.

This will be the second man made disaster I've had to flee. I think I'll be moving next to that farmer until civilization tracks me down again.

Pemex had sovereign immunity from damage claims.

You know I had never before this happened heard of Ixtoc. A good job of ignoring this must have been done by the media. But also the time before it hit Texas helped. Even the wiki article below only talks about the damage to sea life in Mexico. What about Mexican fishermen, etc. Oh right they aren't Americans, they don't count.

Per wiki "In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well.[6] Approximately an average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later.[7] Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles (261 km) of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil.[7] Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.[8] The oil slick surrounded Rancho Nuevo, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which is one of the few nesting sites for Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. Thousands of baby sea turtles were airlifted to a clean portion of the Gulf of Mexico to help save the rare species."

My husband has lived his entire life in South TX.

He never heard of the Ixtoc spill.

From what I read, the oil came in pretty thick around Brownsville, (August) but then a tropical storm came along and dispersed most of it.

There isn't much info about the ecological consequences of Ixtoc in Mexico.

Someone posted the following article on TOD last week.

It's the only article that I've seen on the ecological damage.

I wish there was more information, maybe at the time, the attitude was "Something like that couldn't happen here".....

i dont think the concept of relief wells is clear to folks here....

when BP says a relief well ....they mean to intercept this wellbore with another well....then drill out the casing and enter this wellbore with the relief this is easier said than done ....and while directional drilling is quiet advanced .....there is no guarantee the first attempt will work ....thats why BP is drilling 2 wells incase the first one misses .....and each well takes 90 days to drill atleast .....last time it was tired it took four attempt to do it its not like they drill a well and that just becomes a relief well...

this thing literally will take more precision than a US Ranger sniper ...

"i dont think the concept of relief wells is clear to folks here...."

What's clear is that you've been posting here for all of 25 hours. The process of drilling a relief well has been discussed in depth here for over a month and is well understood. Difficult and time consuming? Yes. But it's been done successfully many times.

It's required (by regulation) any time a well blows out and needs to be permanently closed.

how many relief wells have you drilled recently ???

i have sunk relief wells in the north seas, nigeria and australia to clear up messes others have made ... besides having worked in DW GOM .....

dont give me this "its hard but doable" .....its hard and you need to get lucky ......experts dime a dozen all around seems like on DW offshore well planning on this website ...only the industry is short of qualified DW people....what hogwash ...

So what's your point? Stop drilling the relief wells? It's not a sure thing? Perhaps you could offer up some solutions from your broad expertise.

A actual relief well - one which sought to reduce the formation pressure on the blowout well by tapping the reservoir at an appropriate nearby location, might actually be a better bet than what they're calling "relief" well, trying to hit that 7" pilot hole from a first or perhaps second run position log from MWD.

my point is ....people are worried because they don't understand this if someone is explaining it to them ...either contribute or shut up .....but don't stand here and spew ignorance (relief wells are not drilled all the time except in countries where its the law to sink two holes concurrently with one acting as relief standby)......a relief well takes a lot of luck to hit the first time....its not the drilling part that is have to hit the wellbore and make contact with atleast 50% area to start going through the casing ....hours are spent on the correct approach..dogleg severity has to be controlled at approach ....hours are spent just drilling into the casing ....a relief well being sunk as a standby relief is normal operations.......intersecting a wellbore and getting pressure communication is another the tricky part....ppl have a right to understand what going on and someone has to supply correct information and it sure as hell aint gonna be you my friend

"releif wells are drilled all the time ..." what hogwash ....what you are referring to are standby releif wells that mostly are not used because they are not needed and are usually converted to producers at later stages of reservoir depletion

a relief well is the only logical solution but to let people think this is a sure thing in august it not right ....this could as easily be august as end of august or start of sept or linger longer

"either contribute or shut up .....but don't stand here and spew ignorance"

Alright newbie. If you had been on this site and read my posts since well before this debacle started you would see some, like many folks (including the experts) that have been purely speculative, some dry humor, most have been dead-on right. So kiss my ass. Go back to April and read the many posts regarding all aspects of this situation and the related links posted, trying to educate folks, avoid mis-information and over-reaction, and take a thoughtful/intuitive approach to seeking solutions. This site has tackled subjects deeper than this oil spill, for over five years, and I'm fairly new here. Some of the posts here have been downright prophetic.

I've gained respect for many posters ( most of whom are avoiding these threads lately,,, too many trolls), but mostly I enjoy the respectful exchange of ideas on many subjects.

So far, TOD posters have been well ahead of the curve regarding the amount of oil being released, environmental impacts, the actual composition of what is being released, loop currents, BOPs (and likely reasons that this one failed), booms and dispersants, the actual depths and pressures involved, politics and corporate culture, even the specific gravity of the seawater in this area, and much more. The most right answers have been posted here first. This was the first site where I found relief wells and the overall mechanics of deepwater drilling accurately discussed (with links, graphs and statistics posted from many industry sources). So stick around tough guy. Like me, you'll find out that you don't know as much as you think you do.

My "ignorance" regarding relief wells come, in part, from reading many of the 5049 articles on the subject here:

Perhaps you can suggest some links to better inform me and others.

BTW, welcome to TOD!

Redirect to newer post here:

It seems to me that we are going to regret the decision to put Allen in charge of this. Just the sort of 'no nonsense' guy that everyone wants to believe knows what he is doing. Some people just can't resist being ordered around by a guy in uniform. I'd like to see some indication that he fully appreciates the chain of command and the fact that BP is at the bottom of it despite the fact that we may be reliant upon their resources at this point.

100% agree and I never thought I would think that about him. It appears to us, that he is standing shoulder to shoulder with BP at "headquarters".

Allen's a character. Two days ago he said the "spill" might approach the Exxon Valdez when it's over in August.

He told residents of Venice, La the oil washing up was as harmless as Noxzema.

Today he said he was going to check the lunch of the workers airlifted to the hospital to see if that was the cause.

Allen's a character. Two days ago he said the "spill" might approach the Exxon Valdez when it's over in August.

He told residents of Venice, La the oil washing up was as harmless as Noxzema.

Today he said he was going to check the lunch of the workers airlifted to the hospital to see if that was the cause.

The thing that blows my mind more than anything else is Tony Hayward publicly declaring a 70% chance of success for top kill.


Lawndart, what is your problem? 70% chance of success is 30% chance of failure. 30% chance things happen all the time. How can you tell from a single try what the chances are in general? Is it your nerves wearing thin? I can relate to that, but...

My problem is that I think if you asked 1,000 knowledgeable people to estimate the percentage of success for this case, 100% of them would say 50% or less. That's my problem.

Zero percent chance is where I'd place it.

If I made 6 out of 10 free throws they'd say I was a 60% free throw shooter.

How many top kills have they done on blown BOP's in 5000 ft of water?

When I taught high-school science I told my students that the only stupid question was the one they didn't ask. Keeping that in mind, here goes...

Doesn't the depth of this well give us a better chance of the damned thing not blowing apart, because the external pressure on the pipes and tubes is so much greater than it was in the case of the Ixtoc well, that was in only 160' of water?

All things being equal, I think that it's reasonable to say that the added pressure from being at this depth can be considered a positive effect, that is, it's the "delta P" (pressure) that's important.

But the "positive" effect of the higher water column pressure is more than offset by the stupendous challenges of operating ROV's, etc. at this depth.

Thanks. I only took 15 hours of physics, but it made sense to me that that would be the case.

Rockman postedDoc -- As you probably guessed the rest of the mud went into the GOM.
And everyone: you can stop taking about BP pumping cement into the hole to plug the well. I know it's difficult for most to envision what's going on down there. But this isn't a simplification of the situation: you have a pipe sticking straight up the air and it's flowing 10 gallons per minute out the top. You stick a tube down the pipe and start pumping cement. Question: how long for the cement to harden? Answer: never. The cement is going to mix with the water and flow out the end of the pipe. Honest...I didn't dumb down this example. That's exactly what would happen if the pumped cmt down the blow out if it were still flowing. No one has ever set a cement plug into a flowing well in the history of the oil business. But you can shove a packer down a producing csg string and stop or at least slow a flow considerably. But can't shove a packer down this hole: can't get it through the BOP. And if you could there's drill pipe in the way.
Sorry to be such a downer but I thought BP might have come up with a clever idea they weren't talking about. So far I still haven't heard of it.

Every one who even threw the chain on a rig would have predicted this same thing. Trying to bull head into a well by pumping in BELOW a flow is strictly from desperation. I don't think those well in Kuwait were killed that way. New braden head BOPs were were snubbed down with the flow going thru them and then closed and the well killed by"pumping" in to it.Pumping up against a closed surface and pumping down against the oil or gas. I heard one goof ball prof explaing that the mud would slowy harden and the wall cake would keep building up until the well was plugged. Wonder how they thought well couls be cemented if that happened

Hey - thanks for the explanation...that helps!

what the prof is talking about here .....mud cake ....he forgets that this is a flowing well.......mud cake is a hindrance to flow not an obstruction ....and the reservior pressure will not let mud cake form .....(an anlogy is the ksin factor of a producing well which is improved using acid jobs ..thats the cake hes talking about) .....what a goof ball professor .....this is a flowing well ....most models professors work on are in mud labs .....dynamic modeling of mud behavior beyond basics is impossible in a flowing well....not to account for the fact that the flow in the well is choke flow....means fluid is flowing at speeds higher than the speed of sound which introduces new dynamic behavior in flowing fluids that the flow right behind a slug of oil is pressure independent at the instantaneous moment .....these professors need to go look at fluid flow profiles in pipes again ...maybe go revisit book they have themselves written

I wonder why they don't try to pump seawater into the choke line? They should be able to pump more water flow than mud flow. At the same time, pump mud into the kill line. The water would begin to "freeze up" (hydrate) in the BOP, causing a restricted flow from the well, and giving the kill line mud flow an opportunity to drop into the hole. With luck, they might be able to freeze the BOP for awhile, long enough to get enough mud down the well bore to get more three phase pressure drop in the well bore. Once the pressure drop in the well bore increases, it will be easier to get mud down the hole, without the gas/oil surges pushing mud up out of the well.

It is worth a shot, even with a junk shot. Even if the BOP doesn't freeze up, the pressure drop across the BOP should increase dramatically with the higher flow rate. They might be able to pump enough water to double (or triple) the volumetric flow through the BOP, which would raise the pressure drop through the BOP considerably. This should really begin to restrict the oil/gas flow up the well.

tod in the financial times:

The "Rock" is prominently featured.

Maybe someone in the MSM besides the Houston Chronicle will report the collapse in production in the main producing structure in BP's Thunder Horse complex.

BP--by failing publicly report the production data (except of course for the not easily accessible MMS data)--has so far been fairly successful in hiding one of the largest collapses in production I have ever seen from a large productive structure.

In many cases, these deepwater fields are not going to be nearly as good as expected.
BP's Thunder Horse to Under-Perform in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout
In deep, and falling far short

i dont think the concept of relief wells is clear to folks here....

when BP says a relief well ....they mean to intercept this wellbore with another well....then drill out the casing and enter this wellbore with the relief this is easier said than done ....and while directional drilling is quiet advanced .....there is no guarantee the first attempt will work ....thats why BP is drilling 2 wells incase the first one misses .....and each well takes 90 days to drill atleast .....last time it was tired it took four attempt to do it its not like they drill a well and that just becomes a relief well...

when they do intercept the wellbore with the relief well....essentially they will do the same as what they are trying ot do ...except the will use the relief well to pump the concrete in (so the leverage the hydraulics in the relief well to plug this leaking well)

this physics of this interception literally will take more precision than a US Ranger sniper ...

when they do intercept the wellbore with the relief well....essentially they will do the same as what they are trying ot do ...except the will use the relief well to pump the concrete in (so the leverage the hydraulics in the relief well to plug this leaking well)
this physics of this interception literally will take more precision than a US Ranger sniper ...

Several years ago Shell was drill a 25000’ well in N Mississippi. They had about 14000’ of 95/8 and I am not sure about how much liner they had. They were about 22000 and took a kick. Got it closed in OK. Had 19lb mud. Had 2100 lbs at surface. Very little loss of mud when well kicked. Calculated bottom hole pressure was about 25000 lbs. Somewhere along had an underground Blow out. 9 5/8 had burst at about 4500ft. Oh high H2S content. Drilled directional well aim at 9and 5 at 13000’ My older brother was Tool Pusher on rig drilling relief well. When reached proper deapth calculation were they had gone 3ft to one sid They pulled back up went back down and bracketed it 1 ft the other way Drilled back down and bumped the 9 and 5 in the other well. They then drilled down alongside it for 200 ft. Slumberger ran Geophones down and Bro said you couls hear the gas whistling past. They then ran a direction perforation in and perforated the 9 5/8 string on the other well. I saw a picture of the Haliburton rig up. I dont know how many trucks abou 10 acres of them. They were going to pump cement at the rate of 48 bbls per mimute. The Engineers calculated that this rate of pumping would force the cement thru the perfs and go up and down. Let cement set. Ran geophones back in Silence of a dead well bore. This was in the 70s and I am sure they have even more accurate measuring tools than they did then. You can bet your house first born son and all future earnings that one thing BP and MMS knows is the exact location of the bottom of that well. The casing does not need to be milled thru just run a directional perf gun in and shoot it full of hole. No hill for a stepper.

Because of the high H2S Shell had contingcy plan to ecacuate the City of Jackson Ms

wow ...sounds like your older brother had a few exciting hour right there :)

but perf guns will not work ...simply because this well is flowing ...your bro got the well shut in OK .....if you perf in this case .....all that you pump will flow up because you cannot possibly achieve pumping rates required to do it this way ...logistics cannot be possible in DW scenarios.....what you need is pressure transference and then try and bring cement in with the pumps cranked up and leveraging the hydraulics in the relief well .......thats the only way to get this gusher plugged....milling is the only true option here....mind you milling like anything in offshore drilling is pretty advanced by now ...but for people on this website to flat out say "oh soon as the relief well is sunk to TD the problem is solved"....sinking a well and wellbore interception are two thing world apart ......i hate young cocky engineers one just blew my gasket on this website coupla posts above..

hahaha yeah MMS and BP have to know the bottom of this well...but i dont imagine BP risking going too near the reservoir for this PA job ....they like oil after all and more so than most operators/producers

Ok, so what odds do you give:

1)Junk shot + bullhead

2)cut off old riser and apply new collection tube to BOP stack

3)same as above but install new BOP above old

4)Relief well(s)

Alan was advocating 4 relief wells - BP has two going.

If #1 fails, go to option #2. It is much easier to attache a pipe open at both ends to a gushing well, than it is to cap or plug the well. Construct a new riser to the surface, where tankers can collect the oil until the relief wells kill the gusher.

1. 0%. Already failed.
2. 5%. I think they have this plan standing in line waiting. It'll be hard because as soon as they cut off the riser, the volume of this thing will increase several-fold.
3. Like 2, but more complicated.
4. 90%. This is the industry standard. But slow.

The perf gun was runn in the relief well And perforated the casing in the other well. The relief well had heavy enough mud to hold the pressure in the other well when perforated. Then cement pumped in at the rate of 48 bbl per minute went in at a rate high enoug to go bothe up and down but could have been"squeezed" down. Simply pumping in a small controlled area faster the gas could move up

i know what you mean .....reason why i say this cannot work is ....reservoir pressures in this well is 13500 psi give or take ....i bet you 5 bucks the well your brother was on was nothing close to this.....also another thing with this case is .....this pressure front inside the reservoir is in transient right now .....this reservoir is huge will take sometime for the pressure transient front to flow deep into the reservoir.....once that happens the reservoir moves into PSS can bet your truck that the reservoir will be somewhere in PSS by which point the flow characteristics of this well will be much much different and dynamic momentum carried by the fluid flowing up will be much much more other words the GOR ratio will be lower and gas cut in the fluid will be lower flow up the borehole will mot increase much but the momentum that flow carries will be much much more doing a hot casing dock like your brother did will have such a low chance of success that milling is the only realistic option at that point....i am looking at this come august cuz thats when the hot dock or milling comes up

"Never confuse activity with accomplishment." — John Wooden

Freeze the well

Wouldn't it be possible to inject great amounts of liquid nitrogen into the well ?

Exactly what I was thinking. Get water into the BOP and let the cold and pressure work for you, by forming hydrates in the BOP.

If they could inject small lightweight metal thermos capsules filled with liquid nitrogen that would break in the BOP, they might be able to freeze the BOP shut.

Here is the comment submitted just as you were submitting yours:

how do you get Liquid Nitrogen down a mile before it boits away? Ever see what a mile of see water does to styrofoam cups (aka insulation)?. No way to pipe it down from the surface, So you have to bring it down in a tank that can stand the pressure and have a sufficent insulation barrier to prevent it from boiling all away.Extreme cold temperatures could make the metal extremely brittle causing it to fracture making the problem much worse.

A better way is a two part epoxy that instantly hardens when the two parts are combined. However I don't know if the crude oil and methane would screw up the epoxy chemistry or if it can work in the extreme cold (mile under sea water is below freezing).

I recall overhearing on TV that they have another option instead of the mud, that has the consistence of chewing gum.

however see my post below from a bombshell from matt simmons. Matt believes there is fractured blow out about 5 or 6 miles away from BOP that is leaking 120,000 bpd (barrels not gallons!)

Simmons is totally over the top. Barking mad!

Thanks for the "chewing gum" thought. Now I picture the world's biggest bubble (methane), floating in to the Big Easy, and some drunk in the Quarter tosses his cigar on it.

Seriously, I would like a comment from someone on the epoxy idea. Rockman, is that something that has been or could be done?


EVERY TIME I see your username, I can't help but append the last name of Beeblebrox. Am I in the right "Galaxy" when I do so?

Why not call Scottie and ask for an anti-gravity pack and a transporter. What next a mini black hole ha! Then a two part epoxy maybe a billion pounds of JB weld ha! Why not the Dutch boy finger in the hole? Please, please don't think these guys are stupid. This could very well be the greatest engineering challenge of our lifetime.

OK, guys (and gals).

I am a complete newbie when it comes to oil well drilling, but I have a question?

I have read most of the comments here, and in some of them, there have been claims that the flow exiting the pipe seems to be increased since BP undertook its TopKill program. My question is this.

Mud, like stones, like shot, like even feathers for that matter, when driven by a large enough force, become abrasive. Now, is it possible that the extrordinary amount of mud that BP is shooting into the riser at high pressure, is also exiting at such a high velocity that it is acting like a sandblaster on the existing piping, particularly on those subsidiary leaks existing in restricted areas like pipe bends?

Further, if so, then this would obviously increase the overall output of the leak, would it not?

Like I said, I'm not an oil geologist or driller, just an amateur who wants to know.

Pumping started again according to CNN........personally, I am now certain they are all lying on a very large level.

This contradicts what was reported earlier. I believe it was mentioned that there would be a 24-48 hour delay until pumping resumed.
BP is spinning. When I first heard the term "junk shot" it was followed by a description of how dangerous it could be. Now, BP panders the phrase as if it's no big deal.

The produced oil & gas almost certainly has sand entrained with it, and that has made things worse. High pressure mud also not so good.


I also am not an oil industry expert either, computer programmer FWIW, but I've been reading this forum a lot in the last few days.

Why would it matter if the 4 holes at on riser kink above the BOP got bigger (due to the top kill attempt(s)), if most of the oil was leaking 600 or so feet away from the snapped part of the riser anyway. Just trying to figure that out not disputing anything.

Because the riser kink is restricting flow and if it blows open there the leak rate will increase. This area of the pipe was barely leaking after the accident but the high pressure and force of flow over many days has considerably enlarged the holes to what you see now. The higher the leak rate the more erosion occurs within the BOP stack. If it all goes off then we will see the full flow rate this well is capable of spilling into the gulf. Pumping the abrasive mud at high pressure wears the steel a little faster...

Thanks, I didn't think about the inside of the BOP. I'd assumed the oil/gas coming out the bigger holes would have just rounded the bend and came out the other leak site. Overall it's all beyond FUBAR anyway :(

Well, you may be a newbie, but unfortunately, you've hit the nail on the head.

It is likely that the topkill mud shot DID increase the size of the relevant orifices in the BOP and the riser kink. It is also, inarguably, true that - to the extent that these orifices were opened up - the flow through them will increase (assuming that the inlet pressure remains the same)

a true pump and dump, pump the mud and dump the stock on the false rise(3%) of false hope

Yep and only release the info after close of business.

Did BP have a plan? Does the Pope do you know what in the woods? Of course they had a plan. A few days back, Rockman told us all about it. Make as much money as you can. Don’t like the rules? Simply change them by owning that part of the government that sets the rules. It’s called capitalism. It’s a great system, for people like BP and Rockman.
Have you noticed that Rockman is a Palin cheerleader? Drill Rocky, Drill! Oh Yeah Baby!!!

It’s a great system, for people like BP and Rockman.
Have you noticed that Rockman is a Palin cheerleader? Drill Rocky, Drill! Oh Yeah Baby!!!

Wow, SB, where did that come from? In two years plus, Rocky has been solid and has definitely not come across as a cheerleader for anyone, not Palin, not Obama, not Perry, not Jindal. No one. And, he is not a big "drill baby drill" type. His comments through this ordeal have been professional, and rational. He has maintained the highest level of competence and generously shared his phenomenal knowledge of the industry. All while, from what I could read between the lines, he has been working in the field. He has also been unfailingly polite!

So, back off a bit and give the man some room. Okay? Thanks.


I agree, Rockman has been an invaluable source of information and insight, and we are luck to have him here!

If Top Kill fails, is there any reason to believe flow rate from the well would decrease before the relief well gets there? In other words, is it likely the 12-19k bbl/day rate leak will continue?

If the flow is uncontrolled (no choke), yes there is hope for a further reduction in formation pressure. But if the flow has been choked down to anywhere close to what a Petroleum Engineer would recommend for a production well, then there is likely no realistic hope.

This wild well was set up for production later, which reduces, but does not eliminate entirely, that the well would collapse on itself (bridging over). It depends just what path the oil is taking up from the formation.

Some straws to grasp, but I am in mourning for what is to come ;-(


That's hard to imagine given it's already the biggest-ever oil spill in the most fragile possible ecosystem.

One thing that should happen is that the flow rate would decline as the reservoir is depleted. But it may be a heck of a big reservoir, with water drive and compaction drive, and so the decline may not be much.

Alright, since the feed went back to boring bolt-watching again, here is a streamdump from the beginning:

turning that switch and poking that lever definitely had some effect, as you can see mud flowing up from below making the formerly clear water all muddy. Hopefully this was the intended outcome. good night.

edit: cnn still has live images from the bent riser.

As I just tweeted from the @theoildrum account:

Seriously #BP, transparency will be the ONLY thing that allows the US part of your corporation to see 2011. Tell us what you are doing. Now.

2 minutes ago via TweetDeck

I'd suggest that BP have already partitioned their US business to protect the rest and as a prelude to disposal. They aren't likely to get a fair hearing, no matter what - too many politician and reporters looking to make capital off wild stories. They also aren't likely to win any new opportunities in the US for the next five years (no politician would risk it), and with the mature state of the US market past that is doubtful; so their best bet is to minimise the downside and get as far away as possible.

Transparency in the current climate will just give vested interests something to fashion into a stick and beat them with it.

I'd expect to see BP selling off US interests, to China or a Sovereign Wealth Fund, within a short time.

FYI: Matt Simmons suggested on MSNBC this afternoon, that the real (big) leak is 5 or 6 miles away from the BOP. That there is a fracture that make be leaking up to 120Kbpd, based upon the huge plum discovered at a depth of about 3300 feet below the surface

Can anyone provide any insight if this is true or to back this claim up?


that has been brought up more than once on this page. in short: it's rubbish.

it may be Rubbish, still, we dont trust anymore. trust is all gone.

i trust simmons and pozzi way more than thad allen and hayward.

think about it. does it appear as if allen has even a remote clue here?

simmons says 5 miles. check this image, i see a plume forming 5 miles northwest of the deepwater site.

i wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them. attack their information, if you like, don't waste our time and pollute this forum by attacking their characters, that is not productive.



So is Simmons wrong about the huge plum of oil that is the size of Maryland? He said that you need a much bigger flow rate to account for the amount of oil to be produced.

Is the BOP shown the actually well head that they were drilling at the time? My understanding is that typically multiple wells are drilled using horizontal drilling from the same drill rig position.and then connected with a manifold. I assume that if they had multiple wells drilling or connected to the rig that they all would be severed at the same time.

Is there an overall map of the drilling project that shows all of the equipment and drilling done for this project? All I see is a diagram of the sinle leaking BOP, but it does include where the drilling rig fell, or if there are other well heads\manifolds, etc, that were drilled at the site.

I hope your all right and that Simmons had gone over the deep end. I don't have enough information to determine if there is some substance to Simmons Claim.

One last Question. I've heard that the riser pipe is 21 to 22 inches. Simmons said it was in circumance, not diameter which would be about 7 inches in diameter. what is the diameter of the riser pipe?


How about, Simmons was saying it was more oil that 5,000 bpd would produce. OKay, right! Now BP admits it was more like 19,000 per day. Or that is what it is today; good chance, according to older posts in TOD, it was somewhat higher earlier on. Shortly after the event, no one was able to deny or confirm 52,000 bpd, which seems the highest reasonable figure to date. Certainly it was more than what was first discussed.

And, the diameter is 21-22 inches. Drops down in stages within the well to 9+". Look through old posts since this started for materials, and for really good graphics. (Not mine... I am not that mathy/graphy)


It's an exploration rig....1 active borehole, one partial borehole that is plugged w/ junk and inactive, well essentially vertical. There are some sonar scans of where the rig is in relation to the BOP stack on the 'net. These were taken shortly after it sank.

If you look back a few days you can see some good analyses as to why the oil would have fractionated in the water column...and some of that fractionation would be likely to reach surface much later and farther away than the lighter fractions.

Sometimes I wish Matt Simmons would keep his mouth shut. He wrote an important book and is obviously a smart guy but he spouts off too much. It undermines his message I think.

This was commented on with considerable derision upthread.

I listened to that twice. I don't think he was saying the LEAK was 5 or 6 miles away. He was saying that there is a plume 5 or 6 miles away that he thinks is coming from the somewhere at the end of the 1 mile of pipe. Thus the leak would be only 1 mile or less away. In other words he is saying the pipe did not shear off and there is a leak we are not being shown.

I don't know enough to weigh in but I knew the leak couldn't be 5 or 6 miles away so I listened again. I am quite sure it is the plume that he describes as that distance away and the leak as coming from the farther away than BP is saying.

This is the link I listened to at from May 26. I believe that there was an earlier phone interview that was not good and hard to hear and perhaps then what he was saying got misreported.

Once again Simmons gets rubbished by people with poor listening skills (last time it was 9000 days instead of 900-1000 days). Since the kink above the BOP is not a perfect seal there will be gas-oil gushing out the end of the pipe that is severed from the drilling platform. There is another leak in between these two leaks as well based on previous information. The riser pipe doesn't quite extend 1 mile since it is collapsed in a pile with more than one kink.

I wonder why the live video feed is always from one end. The cross section of the folded pipe at the kink above the BOP may be quite large. This cross section is most likely much larger than the cracks through which are spewing the plumes seen in the video feed.

Updated at 6:05 pm ET -- BP's Doug Suttles, chief operating officer, said that the company's Top Kill operation is "proceeding according to the plan we put in place."

At a news conference, Suttles acknowledged that BP's engineers had paused in their pumping of heavy mud into the well about a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in their effort to stop the gusher of oil and gas into the ocean.

But he indicated that it was part of the plan since it was important to measure the pressures in various parts of the well and equipment to make sure the pumping was having the desired effect.

Engineers stopped pumping mud just before midnight and intend to resume pumping Thursday evening, said Suttles, BP America's chief operating officer.

The New York Times report cited below made it sound like the pumping was paused because too much of the drilling mud was escaping with the oil and gas. But Suttles clearly wanted to leave the impression that the stoppage was intended and not driven by any unexpected setbacks. - NPR

Short answer: 13,000 psi reservoir pressure.

13,000 psi bottomhole is close, and it is the problem. But the problem is exacerbated by a really big fact that has been overlooked (largely).

In the business we have some sayings......"Don't ever try to fight a kick off bottom"......"If its gonna kick me, I want it to kick me in the ass, not in my face"......."Wish I could get below it..I'm out of mud weight".........

These all allude to this simple fact. If the casing seals are leaking at 5,000' and the 14 #/gal equivalent pressure ( @ 13,000 psi) is coming up the outside of the pipe, then you are fighting 13,000 psi at 5,000'. You don't have enough "height" or "column" to do in. I mean you CAN'T do it at 5,000'. This would require @ 50 ppg mud to do so ( 50 X 5,000' X .052 = 13,000 psi). About the highest mud wt I've ever heard of was 21 ppg, done by using something like galena or hematite in place of barite.

IF the casing seals are leaking, allowing the formation to conduct to the wellhead through the faulty cement job, then whatever pressure is below said seals has to be exceeded by the top kill in order to override said pressure.

The top kill would only work if they could "muscle" enough hydraulic horsepower downhole before the riser started leaking like a lawn sprinker from all the increased flow. They tried and it apparently didn't work. So now comes the junk shot.

Why not try the junk shot first, followed by a whole batch of mud? Because they have to somehow load a bunch of cut up inner tubes, frac balls, panty hose, cut up garden hose, golf balls, etc. and place it into a line on the surface downstream of the pumps. It has to be kept somewhat "separated" as it goes downhole one mile to the BOP. If a bunch of this nasty stuff gets together along the way down, it won't go through the ells and valves and other restrictions in the manifold in front of the BOP. It plugs off, you got one more mess to deal with.

Just some thoughts,


Bummer....somebody on either another thread here, or over at Flickr where some of the other PE's are, estimated 36ppg mud....

Thanks Deeper
"Kick me in my ass not my face" tells me all I need. I thing I may have done the same On the junk shot seeing the risk in the hose. OK Junk shot works == They start bullheaden down hole. I would think from pressure reading at the BOP with some variation of mud flowrate's you could tell if the leak is higher in the colume?

So i was right about the shade change in the pic's at the start of this thread about 6:00am pct. I'm hoping I'm not right about the leak path too. A post i did about 10:am pct asked the Question That I had hoped Rockman Or shellburn might Know. I'll ask again. If the leak is thru a joint in the annular case as bope-man post may indicate could that leak have the full pressure of the down hole pressure minus the oil weight? If i remember a post a few days ago the case plan had about 5 size's around 3000 feet long each. If Hallabertons cement job did'nt hold on the last outer casing that could cause this No? If yes that means we have only 10000 feet of bore to balance the well with mud right. Do they have a mud dense enoght to do that. If not a bottom kill may not work right. Unless they can get the mud outside the casing too. I would say cut it off and try the bolt down top gadget if I only knew how much this monster could flow unleashed. As gto the queston of how much oil and gas is flowing out of the well now we know. A least as much as the mud they tryed.

The Admiral's statement this morning makes absolutely no sense versus NPR's update of what Suttles was saying. If they stopped pumping mud at midnight, elsewhere reported to be 2:00 AM, and there was still mud venting the holes in the bent over riser, then talking about concrete at the start of business this morning was crazy.

I'm kind of interested in opinions on this scenario.

- Pumping started yesterday and BP was successful at filling bore with mud.

- Problem - the mud wasn't dense enough to counter reservoir pressure.

- This means the cement could not be applied because pressure at wellhead was still positive.

- Decision was made to stop pumping and let oil push out the mud.

- Now they are pumping a higher density mud.

My Q goes here: Why didn't they use the most dense mud in this Solar-system at first attempt?
( all in all I have troubles with this top-kill idea in the first place)... the junk-shot idea on the other hand I really like- sounds plausible- to me at least.

Look upthread a couple (few?) posts to one by DeeperCheaper. He describes what I THINK is happening here. From what I've read in this forum, I'm convinced that there is a leak path in one (or more) of the annuli in the casing assembly. This leak path is allowing reservoir fluid (oil/gas mixture) to come up around the mud column in the well bore and make its way into the well bore somewhere near/at the wellhead.

Because this reservoir fluid is at high pressure, but not below much of a column of the mud, the only way to push back against it is to crank up the pressure in the BOP/wellhead area. Unfortunately, this section of the well has undergone some pretty serious strain in the collapse of the riser and has also been sand-blasted for a little over a month now, so nobody's ENTIRELY sure just how much pressure they can apply without bursting something.

You guys haven't had to field a really stupid question for quite awhile, so I'm going to ask this. Feel free to laugh and laugh, and then we can all go back to crying in our beers, because this topkill seems to be going pretty badly.

Would it help to make the hole bigger?

I was thinking about the fact that when air comes out of a small hole it gets colder (blow into your hand) but when it comes out of a big hole it gets warmer (breathe into your hand). If the same rule applies to the mixture of gas and oil coming out of the well, would giving it a larger area to flow in warm it up?

Specifically, would it warm the oil/surrounding water up enough that the big box or that top hat thingy could be used without methane crystals becoming a problem?

Ok, you can start laughing now.

When the wellbore pressure is 13k psig, what would you do with the 3 billion barrels of oil that would escape? Bigger hole more flow ha!

Um, catch it in a big thingy and then pump it up to the surface, of course!

From your response I gather that the temperature difference would not be sufficient to resolve the icing problem encountered in the first containment attempt....

I also gather that 13,000 psig is a lot.

pounds per square inch. psig includes atmospheric pressure, I think. The pressure of the atmosphere on you is around 14.7 psi. Your tires (if you have a car) are at about 35 psi. 5000 feet of water on top of you is about 2200 psi (like having an 18 wheeler on your head.) 13,000 psi is a lot like 6 18 wheelers on your head. (WAG)

The methane hydrates were a problem when the tried to put the large containment vessel over it. If the flow were completely controllable, then yes, a larger hole and more heat might reduce hydrate formation.

But the problem at this time is uncontrolled flow and hydrates are not a factor.

The holes we see on the video are unfortunately continually getting larger on their own by erosion - fluid plus sand coming through every hole at very high rates.

simmons is basically saying exactly that, except, he wants a huge hole, essentially to collapse the seabed to equalize the pressure.

i don't think he is saying that this is a good choice. i think he is saying that given the circumstances, it is the least bad choice.

if you accept that this is as bad as simmons and pozzi say (i sure do) then you have to discard the notion that the kill wells will work (they won't, because the cement job is bad, and as noted elsewhere on this thread, will not allow the mud to provide sufficient downforce).

simmons has an excellent reputation. many here have been attacking him as a lunatic, but, i haven't seen anyone attack his information.

where is the oil coming from to form these plumes? as he said, it's obviously not coming out of the riser pipe.

he must know something we don't, why else risk his reputation and deal with all the hateslinging here? my bet is he has good satellite images which are not yet public.

Simmons is not saying a bigger hole, he is saying close the well-bore by collapsing the well just as mother nature created the reservoir to begin with.

I hope and pray that you technical experts can debunk this:

Prominent Oil Industry Insider: "There's Another Leak, Much Bigger, 5 to 6 Miles Away"

That would be Matt Simmons; there are a number of comments on his statements, mostly to the point that it is extremely doubtful that he is correct. I would say he is just making noise in response to all the media exposure. He comes across like a nutcase... I think he went over the top or something.

He posits that the oil we see pouring out of the riser is somehow coming from the platform, and that the riser and platform floated 5 or 6 miles from where the hole was drilled. Never mind the geo-sat fix on it... and never mind that there is no way the rig could contain either that sort of pressure or quantity of oil and gas!

NO. It is bad enough as it stands. There is almost certainly no second leak 6 miles away!

Barking mad is what I say!


Thanks ... would be very grateful for link to geo-sat fix.

Here is an item that describes the platforms used by BP and the degree of electronic coordination. Don't know if this satisfies your question. Each platform is precisely located by geosat, and that is used in positioning. Hope this helps.


As I said in other post, a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about Matt's phone call. It was hard to hear.

Read This:

What he was talking about was a huge amount of oil that is underwater 5-6 miles down the bay. This is about the disperants. They have been used here like never before. What are dispersants? It is SOAP. Ever washed dishes? What do you do when you want to get grease out of a pan? You use soap. What does it do? IT DISOLVES THE OIL INTO THE WATER. So what we have now is a HUGE amount of disolved oil in the GOM.

Is that better? Well is it better to dump a bunch of oil into your fish tank, or a bunch of soap? The fish will be dead either way.

More info and names now coming out below ...

BP, rig owner Transocean and oilfield service contractor Halliburton have all blamed each other for the explosion, which witnesses have said was preceded by a series of unusual pressure tests and a rush of gas out of the well.

One of BP's two representatives on the rig, Robert Kaluza, has refused to testify in the Louisiana hearings, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Coast Guard told CNN. The other, Donald Vidrine, bowed out of his scheduled Thursday appearance, citing illness.

The rig's chief mechanic, Doug Brown, testified Wednesday that Transocean and BP managers argued about plans to finish the well on the day of the explosion, with BP's representative winning the argument. He could not identify which of the BP representatives was involved in the dispute, and BP had no comment on his account.

The rig's offshore installation manager, Jimmy Wayne Harrell, told the Louisiana investigation Thursday that there was no "heated debate." But he said he did reject an initial BP plan to start replacing drill "mud" with seawater without conducting a negative pressure test on the well's initial cementing.

"I told him it was my policy to do a negative test before displacing with seawater," Harrell said. He placed the discussion the day before the blast, and he said Kaluza, the "company man" in the meeting, agreed to add the negative test to the procedure.

Under questioning by an attorney for Halliburton, which did the cementing work to plug the well, Harrell said BP decided not to do a "bottoms-up" test used to measure temperatures and pressures at the deepest part of the well.

Harrell said he wasn't concerned about the lack of a bottoms-up test, but said he wasn't aware that Halliburton had recommended using "substantially more mud" as a counterweight in the drill line than BP had recommended.

No, I'm not talking about a phone call.

I'm talking about a video interview on MSNBC with Dylan Ratigan:

Mr. Simmons was very clear in the msnbc interview. He speculated that the riser was still attached to the platform and that BP wasn't anywhere near the wellbore. It was not a misunderstanding. That is what he said very clearly on television and it left me stunned.

48" tube sucking into a super tanker that has centrifuges ?

why not ??

No machine with that much suction ? at those depths / lift ??

30 tons of Al-rich (to draw H2O's oxygen away from the liberated molten iron) thermite should do the job. Indeed, thermite is routinely used for underwater welding without all the Fe ending up as H2.

What happened to CNN's live feed from Oceaneering? It had up all ROV camera feeds. Did it get shut down?

It looks as though BP is streaming two videos out to the world, but only one is directly accessible from their website. By just going up one number from 97892 to 97893, you'll get another view of the BOP valves. This additional stream seems to be the one that NPR has been carrying which just recently went back to the same video of the leaking riser pipes.

I checked a few other numbers nearby, but it looks like one more is all we get.


ROV2 (Somtimes)

Still, would be nice to see more since it's obvious there has to be more feeds than just two.

It looks as though BP is streaming two videos out to the world, but only one is directly accessible from their website. By just going up one number from 97892 to 97893, you'll get another view of the BOP valves. This additional stream seems to be the one that NPR has been carrying which just recently went back to the same video of the leaking riser pipes.

I checked a few other numbers nearby, but it looks like one more is all we get.


ROV2 (Somtimes)

Still, would be nice to see more since it's obvious there has to be more feeds than just two.

Several impressions I've had (as an interested, but not industry, bystander) --
1. I think the wrench with the twine on it was a new super-high-tech device for evaluating mud chemistry. If you put it in the plume and it comes out coated with clathrate, you've got gas leaking.
2. Apparently they're either piping clear water down from the surface, or they have an ROV stationed (glomped on) and clearing the water around the BOP with prop wash. The turbidity is much reduced today.
3. Now that I've thought about it, how did anyone ever believe that this viscous, thixotropic mud would just magically go against the pressure gradient and find all those downhole leaks and seal them up?
4. It looks like one of the riser-kink plumes is darkening up again ... more oil in the effluent?

Has anyone seen the result(s) of chemical analysis of oil sampled from the well and reservoir? I don't see it on the BP site and certainly they have the results of sampling during drilling as well as the "leak" phase.

Why is everyone upset at BP for the pumping schedule?

Milli Vanilli told us today that he and Kato have been in control of the operation since the beginning.

This board should be ecstatic.


It sounds like he is taking responsibility. Success or failure this is what I would expect from a leader.

If they are good engineers and scientists then they are going to attempt several different things starting with the least risky and try to learn something from each try. No need to rush and make things worse.

Why the sarcasm?

There's a great deal of frustration here. I do believe BP is working in good faith and being conscientious about minimizing further harm. Others here believe the exact opposite. I doubt either of us will be able to convince the other of our rightness.

There is no getting around that BP has made some poor decisions that contributed to the disaster, and that the results will be with us for a long time.

But I agree with the sentiment that they are now operating in good faith now and most likely with all due speed and diligence.

Having been in the the oil industry for 25 years as have many other posters on this board, nothing is simple! The amount of engineering, planning, and manpower that are going into this, of necessity, are phenomenal. If things seem to be going slow and there appear to be things that don't add up, well that's the nature of the beast.

A shallow simple onshore well can have all kinds of things happen under the best of conditions. Trying to do things in 5000 ft. of water with uncontrolled flow with remotely operated vehicles is many, many orders of magnitude more difficult.

After today, I hope and pray that the Louisanian shrimpers and fishermen can corner some BP executives in a dark alley soon.

The most prominent symptoms of a psychopath is antisocial behaviour, having no conscience, being highly manipulative, being a fluent and convincing liar and being superficially charming. Psychopaths are thrill seekers who view others as fodder for exploitation.

Bill Nye, The Science Guy, explains why he thinks BP temporarily suspended efforts to cap the oil leak (since BP is going to keep it a secret):

CNN Video

Bush would have fixed it perfectly by now. He is white.

Apparently they are going to try and inject "junk" into the well so that the flow can be slowed. I assume that this would also help them pump the mud into the well so that it shoots down the well instead of escaping via the leak.

Is there any way for them to attach a screen above the leak. Since it is a screen it should be possible for them to be able to place it without the stream of oil/gas moving it out of the way. It would need to be tied down or weighed down of course. After it is secured into place the junk that they shoot into the well should flow up and be held by the screen so that it can accumulate and slow the flow.

Is this possible?

Sorry, I had to laugh. People may think these guys are stupid but, come on a screen ha! If a 100 ton concrete dome was blown off ha!

You're not very helpful.

I'm not sure if they'd be able to attach the screen due to the force the fluid would project on the screen. Any screen that had a significant pressure drop would have a hard time staying in place I think.

I can definitely understand why a dome would be blown off. Trying to cap a simple kitchen faucet while the water is flowing would have similar results.

Are you saying that the strength of a screen would not be sufficient? Even if it held only a little while, would that not help the junk to collect and slow the flow a bit?

The idea might not be a good one but I don't see from your post why it is ridiculous. Unless your saying that securing it would be impossible due to the location of the leak.

It would have to be a wide mesh screen to be able to be manipulated by the ROV's into place without blowing off, then as it clogged up, it would have to be able to hold greater and greater backpressure (up to ~8000 pounds). I'm not sure if that would be feasible.

I think some here are missjudging the probable BP plan. Initial drilling fluid pumping was probably as much about testing the internal structure of the damaged BOP as it was about anything else. Engineers likely took the pressure readings and developed a model of the BOP to develop the next steps. Next pumping was likely to introduce minimal lost circulation material at increasingly higher flow rates to determine if the internal dynamics of the BOP or other drill string or annulus structural failers were present. The junk shot, apparently now occurring is likely based on these findings. My guess is that if they have moved straight to the actual junk shot, they have determined the BOP damage is the biggest problem and will attempt several relatively low pressure junk shots of different materials followed by drilling fluid at increasing pressure to test the effectiveness, followed by additional junk shots. While it would have been nice for initial testing and subsequent lost circulation pumping to show that a full top kill could be accomplished in a single step...that was always a long shot.

First, Thanks Very much for the great discussions and comments here w/o the bickering one sees on some other sites!

I'm curious about the foundation of the BOP and what a wellhead looks like down on the sea floor. I imagine there must be a serious foundation and some sort of casing attached to the base of the BOP that goes down the well bore some distance. This is a very substantial device, 5 stories tall I read somewhere.

Hopefully some of the very experienced folks commenting here might be able to offer a link to some info.

If you look at the well diagram posted here:

You will see that the 'foundation' is 1,000' of 36" pipe and 2,000' of 26 or 28" pipe sleeved within. The bottom is mud - you can't set a 'foundation' on it because it would just sink.

I have a couple of related questions - how is the BOP latched on to the wellhead? and how is it released when it's time to move?

How do they get the well started in the soft bottom? That 36" pipe must be deployed along with the drill somehow...

can someone tell me how in the hell they can pump somewhere between 17,000 and 30,000 barrels of mud in 10 hours (40,800 - 72,000 barrels per day) of mud into the BOP and STILL have oil leaking out while they are doing it and then stick with an estimate that there are only 12,000-19,000 barrels per day leaking out of the well.

Also, it appears that the flow streams are thicker at the BOP I have not seen the leak at the riser since topkill was started. Do you have any indications that the extra pressure of the topkill opened up the flow restrictions in the bent riser and now more oil is leaking?

They pumped 15k bbls of mud downhole in 10 hours according to Suttles and forced the flow down the wellbore they believe. So they leaked out some mud, but some actually started filling up the wellbore, only to start flowing back up with the oil/gas when they stopped pumping. I don't see how that affects the leak rate. We don't know when the last of the mud leaked out.

according to bp

"too much heavy mud they were injecting into the spewing well was leaking along with oil. Engineers were revising plans, the New York Times reports"

that means that oil was leaking while they were doing the topkill. The amount of mud they were putting in was coming out of the well in the leak, along with oil

if oil was coming out then they could not have had much mud going down the wellbore right?

pressure would equalize at the choke inlet where the mud was being pumped in and no oil should be coming out after a few hours if there was mud going down the wellbore.

if the leak rate of the mud out the riser was close to 1,500 barrels per hour that is still a leak rate of 36,000 barrels per day of mud this would equate to about 45,000 barrels per day of gas/oil mix and at that pressure and temperature the volumetric flowrate of the oil/gas mixture is about 50/50 so that means about 22,500 barrels per day leak rate minimum.

possibly more if the topkill opened up the leak more.

Doug Suttles reported in the press conference that they had forced mud down the wellbore and pumped 15k bbls of mud. I have no idea what the leak rate was and given the complexity of the flow, I hesitate to make any guesses.

could there be oil leaking out while they are forcing mud down the wellbore?

Silly question: Since the leak is suspected to be between the liners and the production casing, would it make sense to aim a relief well at the bottom of the last liner section, then squeeze cement to try to seal that interface before drilling into the production casing?

I've been lurking here for the past 5 weeks, and would like to thank you all for the mindblowing learning curve you have allowed me to experience on deep ocean oil drilling. Let me tell you right up front that I'm a wildlife rehabilitator that has worked with over 3,000 seabirds over the years, and participated in several oil spill wildlife responses. I come here to understand the technology behind deep-sea oil drilling, and obviously, I feel devestated by this event, but so do all of you.

At this point I admire not BP or the Coast Guard, or our government, but the people behind the screens working on stopping this catastrophic incident. And reading here every day for five weeks has taught me a lot.

My heart is heavy, like yours. I thought I'd end my first post with some humor back from 1992 - two Brits doing a skit about another oil spill that could have been written today. BP's reps fit in perfectly. Hope you can get at least one laugh today.

Hope you can take a few minutes to laugh in between our anger and pain.

Great clip! I'm laughing, but then again I'm not...

I have a idea for closing the flow out of the BOP, or at least reducing it. I'd like to see if the many experts here think its feasible.

As I understand it, the junk shot problem is that whatever is shot into the BOP needs to be small to go through the pipes and valving. However, small material is unlikely to wedge in the gaps of the BOP, as those gaps are too large.

I think that the solution they need is a fluid one. They need a material that will go in as a fluid and then solidify quickly once in the BOP.

I am assuming that the environment inside of the BOP is hot from the oil coming out of the reservoir, does anyone know what that temperature is?

If it is possible to add a hotter fluid to the BOP, a plastic or metal could be injected into BOP that would cool inside the chamber, forming long irregular shapes that would have a decent chance of getting caught before exiting to the riser.

If that isn't possible, a thermal cure epoxy or other plastic could be injected into the BOP, which would rapidly cure in the warmer interior of the BOP, forming irregular clogging shapes before exiting the BOP.

A third option would be to use a memory wire style material that could be pumped into well as smaller particles but then unfold in the interior to clog up the interior.

This might be the quickest to apply option: Could we set a powerful electromagnet on the outside of the BOP before it connects to the riser, and then pump in iron particles that would be strongly pulled to the sides of the BOP, and form a strong network to block the oil flow rates. I have no concept of how strong a magnet that would take and if the metal containing fluid could be isolated from that field; alternatively, this could be an additional component of a "junk shot" to help pull and adhere iron containing junk to the walls to help start the plug formation. for instance, shredded rubber with iron particles in it.

I'M pretty sure the problem is if they just closed off the pipe, it would burst farther down. Remember, you have a pipe with three miles of oil moving up at a fast clip. That inertia would probably burst everything. If it was as simple as jamming a cork in tight enough I'm sure they would have tried that.

I noticed what may be new leak in live feed just now.......the leak at the farthest right now has flow coming from below it. They are panning there now to look at it....its also flowing very black.

Yes, I noticed that too. There was also a pan of the center leaks. What interested me most was that the metal (or whatever material is) was pushed outwards and was ragged.

I talked to a Chem Prof. friend of mine a couple weeks ago to see if there was a mix of monomers that could be injected and quickly cross-link. A ring opening metathesis polymerization injected similar to reaction injection molding where too-quick crosslinking is a problem.

Unfortunately he didn't know what kind of polymer could achieve structural integrity in the time between injection at the bottom of the BOP and flow to the topmost obstruction in the BOP that could clog up. If there was a way to move the injection point down (perhaps mix it in with the mud?) so that by the time it got to the obstruction it would be solid enough to hold and not just get squished out like pudding.

He suggested the name of a guy at Cal Tech that would be the best guy to talk to, he already works with BP on other things so I'm sure they've talked to him.

I wonder if anyone has set up a test lab with these kinds of temp./pressure/hydrocarbon/flow/BOP materials conditions so they can try some of this out ahead of time?

Molten metal sounds interesting if you can get it to the bottom- wasn't the junk shot material being injected out of a manifold that is down on the ocean floor near the BOP so it doesn't have to travel a mile? And having the ability to move the fluid back and forth would be helpful- although I guess the oil pressure can help with that...

From another it possible to use remote imaging to fashion a 3D model of the kinked leak sites and fashion a custom coupling with some sort of synching mechanism that the ROV's could tighten slowly into place?

That what the mechanical advantage would be on securing the holes, not like the junk shot which will be posing blow-out problems...?

I've seen this discussed, its not that simple. The whole pipe system has been so badly stressed/damaged that the changes pressure would just shatter it, and or the oil would leak out from the sides farther down in the rock.

haven't commented is several days. Despair is setting in. perhaps we ought to bring in all the rigs capable of drilling down to this reservoir of oil and gas and deplete it as soon as possible. Think of it this way. There is now a damn good chance this thing has the potential to go on for months. There is a finite amount of oil an gas in this reservoir. Put the bastards who want to "drill baby drill" to work. Surely someone knows the extraction potential and dimensions of the reservoir. This was after all an exploratory well. Personally, I am against DW in the GOM. But in this case I would love to see 25 drilling rigs, properly regulated, going after the stuff which i am afraid is going to end up on our marshes, mud flats, and ocean bottoms. How many rigs in the GOM are capable of hitting this reservoir? BP knows the production potential. Don't just extract the oil efficiently, RAPE the SOB! I will now go get a good stiff drink and go to bed. Please forgive. Old folks often get delusional.

There is nothing in Suttle's press conference that indicates the Top Kill was a failure. If Top Kill failed last night, they would not be doing this again. They got enough of what they wanted last night - to make adjustments and go for more.

perhaps you and i are not paying attention to the same things. those bastards are not to be trusted. we are being spun. read the comments of the last several days from folks that know about this shit. This is highly unlikely to work. something tells me BP is always looking at their bottom line. That prissy bastard who is head of BP ought to be stung up and I am beginning to think the front people for both BP and the Gov are not thinking out of the box. Dammit we know there ain't but so much oil and gas in that reservoir and that the whole economic model which drives the oil companies is to make a buck. But no this lease belongs to BP. They bid on it and won. Well now is the time to tell all the oil companies if you want drilling rights in the future get your ass over to this site and drill or you will never drill again the the GOM. We know the whole industry has been built on using the most efficient methods to extract product to make the most money. Trust me they have raped the worlds resource for years. Nationalize them and put their ass to work on a giant "gang bang." We are trying to stop a hemorrhage in a reservoir. Go to the source. Let the force be with you. Economics should not be a consideration in this case.

I agree. EVERYTHING these guys have said has been lies, CYA and spin from day one.

The relief wells will finish before you get any production wells in.

please provide a source for that comment. Can't you see what has been going on? The whole industry has exploited the world by splitting the worlds energy resources in the "mine and thine." Duality. the greatest failing of we highly socialized primates. Do you have any idea how much money BP is paying in royalty for each barrel of oil produced in the GOM. Less than $8/barrel. These companies are vertically integrated. The revenue collectors for you and me must rely on their reporting. perhaps we should in the future conduct business in a little different manner. Who is to say that the leasing of areas to specific entities is the most efficient way to gain access to resources the nation needs. Is our current method the most efficient? Or is it the way big oil can make the most profit? Listen, i hope this latest technique works. I just want it to stop. I too am a Speaker To Animals. But, I am getting very bad vibes from this whole thing. Go to the source. Cut off the head!

The live feed is showing close up views of the leaks in the riser right now. (Just a heads up.)

Tight in shots on a riser leak.. looks like they are watching for "junk".

Looking for more holes I think.....I saw a new flow at the lower right, and then they started zooming in on the holes....

Found out much more about IXTOC disaster. It went on for almost a year and spewed this amount that damaged the Gulf and Texas coasts. They were finally able to cap it. I don't even remember it being on the news!


On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

Seeing your post gives me some hope that we can deal with this disaster and that the ocean can recover. However, I'm sure we are all praying that it can be done much more quickly than IXTOC.

The key to all this lies in the BOP (so far, until it gets bent, cracked, eroded or twisted into a piece of junk). It is still solidly attached to the casing head, and apparently intact together with the ram guides.

The rubber annulus (Hydril)on top of the BOP which 'failed' or was turned off is just a big rubber doughnut reinforced with radial steel inserts. It gets closed by squishing it together (on the top and bottom) with hydraulic fluid under very high pressure. On land at least that pressure is created by many cylinders of compressed nitrogen kept ready to force the hydraulic fluid against the doughnut. By default, if you don't know whether there is pipe in the BOP or not and you need to close off the well, you just hit the Hydril valve and the doughnut gets squished against whatever is there, or even if there's nothing there. It just gets squished closed. That's why if a few chunks were ripped off the inside edge by a pipe joint it should still work, unless it was torn apart so bad that it split.

Very probably the hydraulic system in the BOP which applies hydraulic pressure failed. That would explain a failure to exercise an automatic emergency BOP closure when the rig got into trouble, as well as they Hydril failing.

The second set of rams are typically pipe rams, two clamps coming together that each have a half-hole on the inside edge. They just close around the pipe.

The third set of rams are 'blind rams' which have straight edges and just close against each other like a sliding barn door. They're made for a tight closure on an empty hole. With enough hydraulic pressure in a perfect laboratory setting, they might be able to shear weakened or washed-out drill pipe. But I doubt that would be possible with good heavy pipe and a weakened hydraulic system.

As there probably is a piece of pipe inside, they either need to close the pipe rams, or the Hydril. The BOP is probably the only solid, machined mechanism that still works down there, unless the pipe has been twisted off-center by the falling drill string and riser. The main problem is to get that BOP stack working again enough to use the correct ram. Smart minds know that, which is why so much ROV time today was used to inspect BOP hoses and cables etc. Thats what seems to be driving everybody crazy.

They have to get the hydraulics working again on the steel pipe rams to close around the pipe (which itself is now capped). Problem is, if they pump all sorts of shyte into the BOP to try to plug it, it's game over. That's because it will wreck the path of travel of the rams.

Isn't this what they just spent the last month trying to do, and apparently gave up?

I believe this BOP had two of the rubber annulii - redundant. I had wondered about the hydraulic pressure to close them bleeding off. I would think that the guts are pretty much junk by now with the drill string bent over at the top and the leak erosion and then the mud pumping. They worked a long time initially trying to get the rams to operate. I am sure they would have tried this and exhausted all possibilities before trying the first mud flow.

Why after all this time are we still looking at the riser? Where is the video feed from the wellhead?!!??!!? As Matt Simmons said, we're chasing a mouse while there's a tiger behind us.

You are looking at the wellhead - the kinked riser is attached to the BOP sitting on the wellhead. The 'other' leak is at the end of the riser pipe - the end that used to be attached to the drilling rig. That is where they were capturing oil with the RIT.

T. Boone Pickens just said on CNN these attempts won't work. Said the relief wells were the only shot.

Right or wrong at least someone with influence is trying to warn people so they can prepare.

I think we all better hope he's wrong.

I will not be surprised if BP does a major news dump about 6pm EDT Friday night. In the meantime, they'll keep waving their hands like a magician distracting us: "Everything is going exactly according to plan. Just ask Admiral Allen."

You are right on the button, EL. Lets not forget its Memorial Day Weekend..people are getting ready to kick off the summer. And we won't have to go to the nearest movie complex to see this Summer's biggest blockbuster flick, because it's going to be unfolding right before our eyes. Hurricane season is predicted to be very active this year. We won't be needing 3D glasses to see this disaster movie!!

20:50 CDT Mil # ? ROV viewing leaks in crimped riser on top of the BOP facing 325 degrees azimuth. The leaks seem to have gotten worse. The plume on on the far right appears to be more directed with greater force. The one just right of center has three jets emanating from its base. Earlier it had two. Judging by the scrapes in the paint on the riser, a new leak on the left has erupted partly obscuring the two that were previously visible.

I wish I had a screen capture utility that could capture the images from this video feed.

Big deal. Most of the material is flowing down the inside to the end of the riser and coming out there, where they jammed in that insertion-thingy.

You can capture the stream with vlc (videolan), then play it back and fullscreen + pause + screenshot...
I did the same with "mplayer -dumpstream", see the posted bit above.

If they started pumping again, that could be part of the reason for the appearance of higher pressure or more volume.

snagit v 10 will capture the feed w/ it's all-in-one feature.

I've taken a couple of screenshots - in order they are
5/26/10- 9:40 pm (CDT)

5/27/10 6am (CDT)

5/27/10 12pm (CDT)

and, 5/27/10 8:38pm (CDT)

[alt + print screen] will copy the current window onto you clipboard. You might not get the best quality but you will have something you can crop and save with Picture Manager

I am reading with fascination all of the comments regarding this leak and have learned a great deal about the oil business, of which I know practically nothing. I have an idea about containing this leak, and at the risk of appearing totally ignorant I will throw it out. Since this crude floats on water (at least some of it otherwise there wouldn't be a slick), why not construct a giant parachute device out of fabric over the leak, and anchor it around the perimeter? This would be under the surface and allow the leak to rise to the top of the dome, where it could be pumped out. Kind of like that concrete thing that iced up but way bigger. Start with a relatively small one to get something in place to contain it and then construct and install a semi permanent larger one over the small one. Is this nuts or could it work? C

I think the sheen of oil (that can be seen from space) is probably less of an issue than the slightly heavier hydrocarbons drifting more slowly upwards and go under booms and into the estuaries. The problem is more 3d than a typical surface spill. Alot of oil will be cleaned up, but I have a suspicion that an even greater (much greater) amount will have to wait on the hydrocarbon eating bugs (read: bacteria) to dispose of it. That's not to discount the surface efforts, but theres no feasible way of getting the oil at all the levels.


Over 5000 feet of vertical, there's a lot of horizontal current movement. Even different layers of water at different depths will go off in different directions.

The best way to deal with this is at source.

Hi: thanks everyone for the interesting info. I think this may have been discussed a little up earlier, but I wonder: what is inside the riser pipe at the top of the BOP (the one with five leaks now, or is it six?) Is it the drill pipe? Could the mud be coming up the annulus on the side, for example, and the oil/gas mixture out the center (or vice versa)? Could there be a pressure differential between the two? I ask because there was mention of an obstruction in the well--maybe it is a partially activated ram, but I wonder if the well pipe itself was distorted when the well blew. So it could be open as well to the surrounding strata, at some point down the shaft. All that mud they are losing--wasn't there some mention of shallow gas formations? This is not my field of expertise, obviously.

This is a suggestion for the TOD webmaster - Why not limit the number of comments per page. This will break the comments into multiple pages with links to them. This can easily be done (in 2 min.) in the Drupal admin section. These threads are getting very long, and doing this will greatly increase user convenience as well as saving you a lot of bandwidth.

Gail, HO or Prof. Goose probably should just start a continuation post and lock the comments in this thread. We can blockquote tocontinue discussions if need be.

When are you going to realize that this "top kill" maneauver is just theatre thanks to the people at BP. They stopped pumping mud in at midnight last night. Yet success was being claimed by the media. Once again we are being lied to. And how toxic is this mud that they are pumping into the BOP? And one more thing, how many leaks are there, and where is this massive plume that a research vessel from a university in Florida found 20 miles from Ground Zero? Where is that plume coming from?

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