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

New thread, please redirect to

Relevant links to top kill procedure (scroll to comments in each, they're very good.)

Deepwater Oil Spill - Permissions and Concerns about Top Kill

Deep Water Spill - Waiting for Top Kill

The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill - the Top Kill Attempt

The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill, barriers, flow rates, and top kill

To me, the TK technique may be showing some indication of success.

It seems that the jetting from the broken riser, just in the last few minutes, is lighter in color and that the velocity is less intense.

The texture is going back to that of the mud we saw on Wednesday night, and the problems with mud falling back and obscuring the vision (which does not occur when oil and gas - which float - come out) are back on occasion.

What. They just let of the gas, do to the fact if they keep up the pressure this thing is going to blow. Just look at those leaks does this look like a stable situation. Those holes are getting eating away be the min any more pressure and everybody short on BP will be able to retire.

The riser, at this point is not the important component. The problem has been with the flow channel through the blow-out-preventer (BOP). If the channel is reduced, then the pressure drop across it increases, and there is less pressure on the downstream side, which is where these riser leaks sit.

So we are seeing a bit of a diminished flow, since it looks as though BP has been able to reduce the flow channel through the BOP by injecting material.

Check out Matt Simmons

Bring in the US NAVY and Supertankers. BP is fixing the WRONG leak. Kick out BP for ever. They are destroying our country.

your link returns you to this thread?

is the interview you mean yes?

Are they really correct and they are not dealing with the real leak?

I find that astonishing

No reputable source believes this to be true. Simmons is slowly twisting in the wind on this one.

Yes it did seem to be a pretty out there position.... has it been debunked as opposed to just not mentioned?

When I watch this video I hear him say that the gusher at the kink just above the BOP is secondary to the gusher out the severed end of the riser pipe. He does NOT say there is a leak 6 miles away, there is a large plume instead. It is not at all self evident that the kink above the BOP is such that the riser pipe is pinched off and only leaks through the cracks around the kink.

But there is a muddled message in the video that BP is not fixing the real leak. This is nonsense since the BOP is the only place the top kill can be implemented. Maybe Simmons thinks the flow can be stopped in the one mile riser which is crumpled and perforated in more than one location.

The question: "how do we get something larger into a hole of a certain diameter?"
By using a stint! can anyone tell me why a stint would not solve this problem.
If I am corrrect, there is a three inch diameter hole that they are able to put a hose to pump mud through. Instead of mud use a kevlar covered "baloon".

I don't really comment at this site but I was curious about the junk shot. Is netting shot through too? It would seem that it could help catch and hold the "junk" helping to clog things up. This was actually my second idea. My first was looking at the graphics of the BOP and pipes going into it, it reminded me of a heart. In cardiac catheterizations, you can push a stent down the catheter with a wire. When you get it where you want it, you withdraw the catheter a little and the compressed stent springs open. It creates an open cylindrical mesh inline with the bloodflow. I would think you could make something similar for a BOP only with one end kept closed creating a cone or even a flattened skillet type configuration. These would let the gas-oil mixture pass through but would catch material from a junk shot helping to form a clog. Or have I missed something. Are there grates already built into the BOP. Thanks in advance for any responses.

Please, please they are smarter than you think! Yes, let's just shove a wire down a pipe with 13,000 psig! That's 13k pounds per square inch! If that doesn't mean something to you or the rest of the let's plug it with milk duds crowd then your on the wrong site. Really they are much smarter than you think!
This problem is like a moon shot!

I think you misunderstand the concept. It is how you get something of a larger diameter through a pipe of a smaller diameter. The pressure could be used to move this through the pipe to the BOP. The wire was simply descriptive of what is used in the catheterization. It was not meant to apply to the present case. As I said, I am interested in information, not attitude.

I had the same idea a week or two ago....seems like a reasonable approach to me.

I'm thinking supersized needle valve now.....don't know exact dimensions but, maybe four foot diameter and fifty feet long with one or two degree taper, lowered gently and precisely on the bore hole.....add weight as desired.

Keep an open mind and think about it....i feel like time's running out...this thing's wanting to become unstoppable.

may i naiively ask, why are all efforts being made to stop the leak. Why cannot they tap into/over the leak with a larger diameter pipe or a cone that will mechanically choke incrementally as pressure equalizes within the tap pipe ?
Obviously the geology and head pressure will not allow containment at the well head.
What are the challenges with tapping onto the leak and separating the product at the surface ?

Oh, and I wouldn't go around emphasizing "their" intelligence too much. If they had had any great intelligence, this never would have happened.

Well hmm.

Actually your seeing advanced technology in action pushing the envelop if you will. Think jet engins. Drag cars breaking the sound barrier. Sending men to the moon. Nuclear reactors splitting the atom.

Shit happens when you do stuff like this. High tech has spectacular failures. Sure on analysis 99% of the time the failure can be traced back to a human mistake. But the problem is not that its that mistakes when you push the envelope have nasty consequences. Mistakes happen its part of life. Removing the human element eventually requires a AI capable of human mistakes with the same potential for extreme failure. The extreme failure modes are physically intrinsic not human. Anything capable of enough thought to direct and extreme action is also capable of making a mistake causing extreme failure.

This is what I think a lot of people fail to realize every time and extreme technical solution fails. We have been building airplanes for 100 years and they still crash today. In the end you think people would realize that once you set a certain level of physical forces in motion periodic extreme failure is certain.

The problem is do we really really want to do high tech for oil given the consequences of such and approach ?
Obviously we do but in the end its all of us that are responsible for this disaster not BP not some guy on a drill rig etc. We are the ones the bet on high tech and have doubled down repeatedly we need to accept and live with our decision.

Wait till Brazil has a blow out or some other country with even more extreme wells. As long as we want to go down this path its our fault each and every one of us. Dissecting yet another of countless examples of high tech blow ups and treating it as some sort of isolated failure is just dodging the real truth.

Play this game and you will pay and pay and pay thats the truth,

If the public had not be lied to I would agree with you. But we have been lied to about how many years of BAU deep sea oil would the public. We have been lied to about how safe it is. Remove the lies, remove the carefully crafted advertising to get us to use more oil and then see what the public does. When the outright lies and the advertising lies are gone, the truth told, if the public still wants to have a few more years of BAU then blame them. Until that is done the lion's share of the blame goes to the liars.

Wait till Brazil has a blow out or some other country with even more extreme wells.

Disclaimer: I was born in Brazil and even worked as a subcontractor for Petrobras at one time.

Don't have to wait, Brazil is already deliberately in the process of engineering one of the greatest environmental disasters in it's history by going ahead with this travesty, "The Belo Monte Dam", all in the name of "Economic Growth". Who the F**K cares, what's one more thread pulled out of our already well frayed tapestry of ecosystems. Nature will adapt and recover right? The Amazon is a big place, heck, it's even bigger than the Gulf of Mexico.

The Planet is fine, it's the people that are f**ked!, George Carlin

Brazil Moves Forward With Belo Monte Dam Despite Severe Opposition
DateWednesday, April 21, 2010 at 5:55PM | Author[Gauri]

Yesterday Brazil awarded a national consortium, the multi-billion dollar building and development contract for the highly controversial Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river in the Amazon rainforest, despite widespread protests from environmentalists, activists and indigenous community of Native Indians (thousands of whom will be displaced by this dam construction). Once completed this will be the world's third largest hydro-electric dam.

The official estimated cost of construction is $11B, although private sector estimates are as high as $17B. The project has been marred with delays, protests, lawsuits for almost the last three decades. The Brazilian government maintains that Brazil desperately needs the power generated by this dam, which is projected to have the capacity to produce almost 11,000MW of power.

I'm sure the indigenous community members will all be happy to eat hamburgers and french fries with a coke as they sit in their cars at their local rain forest drive through, Micky Dee!

The Amazon will probably be the victim of man's progress and the associated climate change. Deforestation and a few years of drought will destroy this fragile ecosystem. The leached soils will not allow a quick recovery.

Not sure if this video link has been posted (Matt Simmons & Co a few hours ago)...

Sure hope he's wrong.

Regards, Matt B

The plume nearest to camera, is that coming out of a new hole? I realise it depends on camera angles but looking at stills from yesterday and comparing marks on the pipe I can not see a plume in that location on the stills.

There are some things that simply don't make sense with this "live" video.

If that is mud coming out....where is it going?

How come we can see at all?

At least the barite will settle and there will be a lot of it. That view should be impossible!

Also, if that is in fact heavy weight mud coming out....the holes would be huge by now. I cannot understand why there's no abrasion/erosion! The holes are staying the same size.

This is BS!

I have been an avid oildrum follower for YEARS now. It does not look like its working to me. But the real tragedy to me is they had to go 5000 miles for crude in the first place. Thats why I make my own alcohol based fuel. So sad.

How effective is the mud as an oil dispersant?

When the top kill fails, as it looks like it will, maybe it makes more sense to inject dispersant through the BOP via the pipes they are using for the top kill.

Some consolidation, huh?

Say, is that some junk jammed in the leak they are showing in the closeup?

Looking at this I come to one conclusion. Were in a lot of trouble. How can you pressure mud down a pipe that is leaking like this. To me it looks like the leaks are going to get bigger and bigger!!! till something gives.

I agree. I'm sure it is a naive question but if there is a leak in the riser above the blowout preventer, then how is it possible to ever pump enough mud in below this point without it just blowing out the top like the oil and gas? Doesn't matter how much pressure the mud is under, it will just blow out the top because that is the path of least resistance.

There must be restrictions in the BOP, like partially closed rams, that allow a much higher pressure downwards than will appear at the riser when you are pumping in the mud.

If you have to stop and reverse the oil/gas in order to force mud down the drilling then you have to overcome the reservoir pressure minus the head of gas/oil that is 2000 to 3000psi, so at that point of reversing the flow you need something like 10000 psi at the bottom of the BOP (assuming 13500 psi reservoir pressure = as I think I saw earlier).

Now looking at the leaks I find it hard to believe there is 10000 psi minus the 2100psi of the seabed, pressure differential behind these. Other must know better than I from the particle analysis (and does v = 8/(h^2) apply). That should give an idea of the pressure diffential across the riser leak. I doubt it is more than a few hundred psi.

That might mean any junk shot would be aimed at further closing BOP internal leakage paths that are, even now, more restrictive than the multiple riser openings. I imagine the BOP is designed to withstand the full pressure from stopping a gusher; that is the 10000psi, in this case, plus the water hammer in suddenly stopping the flow, so a gradual build up to, of order, 10000 psi should not be a problem for the structure (unless considerably weakened by what happened last month).

If this hypothetise is true (a more restrictive internal restriction) then removing the whole of the riser would not result in much more oil/gas leakage than is occurring at the moment.

Now that assume they really got to the point of some mud going down the drilling. They would presumably know that if they have a recording of the pressure they achieved at the bottom of the BOP when they were pumping in the mud. Conversely, if they did not achieve anything near 10000 psi because the leakage path was too great, despite pumping at full bore, then they had no hope of the mud going down. Another way of telling is if they were getting only mud out of the riser. If it was still mixed with gas/oil then I cannot see they got flow reversal.

If their is an internal restriction that can be further limiting with a junk shot then removing the riser and putting on another fully open BOP or other device with an open non-flow restricting valve (in the open position) while pumping mud or warmed seawater (or other method of defeating the icing) might be a shortish term possibility.

Someone earlier said about pumping non-polluting sea water. If getting mud down the pipe and using its superior head is not a possibility and it is just a matter of holding as high a pressure as possible in the BOP, in order to minimise oil/gas flow, then just continously pumping seawater through the BOP until the relief well is complete could be considered.

That of course ignores the flow/pressure/pumping power effects of viscoscity that propably favors mud over seawater. However seawater cannot pollute.

Now you can tell me I am all wet. This is written with 99% of my knowledge base in this subject being from this website in the last two days.

Another retired other kind of mechanical engineer.

One point: There's probably enough gas in the fluid column from BOP to well bottom that water hammer is not a consideration.

Why can't they just drop a thousand tons of concrete and steel on the whole damn thing and be done with it?

You know those porous stone things they put at the end of the air hose in aquariums? There you go.

I think because the BOP/wellhead apparatus itself is still acting as a sort of choke. SO if you destroy the entire thing even by dumping thousands of tons of concrete on it, you run the risk of letting the oil well become completely free and wild and there would be simply no possible way for enough material to be dumped onto it all at once in that muddy bottom to hope to cover it up and stop it.

Because the "bottom" of the Gulf is a thousand feet of pudding (very very soft fine mud). There's no way you could drop enough concrete on it -- the oil and gas would just work their way around under the pudding to the edges of your concrete block, and now you've got the same volume of crap, but spewing from all the edges of your monolith with no way to contain them.

That's not better.

That's what the Sec of Navy is thinking as well.

There's some good ideas in this clip too:

I logged onto the live feed just at the end of when they had the closeup. I didn't see anything that looked like "junk", but I did remark to myself that those holes/cracks in the pipe looked very small. Less than an inch gap but man... was that stuff jetting out of there. Wow.

Assuming what we're seeing is still mud (sure looks like it), I just don't understand how anyone can think that it is anywhere near being successful. That kind of pressure exiting those tiny holes can only mean to me that there relatively no pressure forcing anything back down the well.

I think the question being asked in the war room now is... how do we say it didn't work?

I think the only thing they can say is that they tried their best (which I do honestly think they did) but that the pressures involved were simply too great and the BOP/wellhead too badly damaged to allow for a successful "top kill" operation.

Then they'll go back to the Riser Insertion Tube and try to get as much as they can that way.

I wonder if the Purdue professor and the Federal scientists had this view, because you can see these cracks/holes are very small. If that riser is 21 inches in diameter, then these cracks might be 2"x 4" at the largest. Figure 5 of those gives you 40 square inches, max., and probably more like 20".

What does this mean for the flow estimates?

Not really anything, because this is the bend in the riser, the open end is several hundred feet away and had the riser insertion tool in it.

I tried to say this in another post when I suggested the holes at the kink don’t matter. This is the reverse but the same point I tried to make.

So what if the junk fills the holes in the riser kink. Won’t all the effluent just round the kink and come out where the insertion tube was?

There is "junk" wedged in the hole they are looking at. It appears to have lessened the escape from the leak. Sealing of the leaks means that higher pressure is required to cause a given flowrate of mud to escape out the top, thereby creating more back pressure against the oil. As an analogy, it takes less pressure to make a given flowrate of water escape from multiple holes in a garden hose, than from a single hole. Every little bit helps.

I think the working theory is that the choke point is down in the BOP where the rams partially crimped the pipe. If the "junk" blocks that orfice then more flow will go down well. Then any openings in the riser past that point won't matter.

Given that the current plan does not seem to be working as planned, I think the next (plan D,E or F)
is to cut off the riser and attach a 2nd BOP. That should be interesting to watch. If they keep up some luve feeds.

OK so they are monitoring the holes on the riser to help guess what could be happening in the BOP where they hope the cut off in the flow is enough allow enough pressure to drive the oil down the well. Sorry for the dumb questions/comments.

That is my take - they can't see inside the BOP, but maybe they have some pressure sensors that can give some feedback. Not dumb questions - no problem.

OK, the riser pipe is flattened at the kink and restricting the flow there - that is why those high-pressure jets have eroded those holes there. If there wasn't a pretty severe restriction then the oil and gas all would have flowed happily down the riser to the exit - it is plenty big enough to handle more volume than was actually flowing/leaking. So while it is fair to assume that most of the oil can get through the kink it is likely that it is pinched pretty flat. They have to hope they can size the junk to stop a large proportion of the leak - and have it hold against pressure. They must really hope to jam up the innards of the BOP because if they only succeed in jamming up the kink in the riser the pressure buildup may split it open, especially when they go to pumping mud.

Why can't they drill a shallow relief well targeted for the second casing shoe set up with the proper production facilities at the sea surface to handle the high flow rates of this well? At least the well would be "blowing out" into a tanker with a flare boom to burn the excess gas and capturing all of the well flow into a tanker or tankers. This way the flow would not be going into the ocean and they could put another BOP valve assembly on top of the damaged one until the real relief wells reach formation depth in a few months to establish circulation at depth and cement and kill the blowout. Just a thought and it looks like the existing leaks are getting eroded out with all of this heavy weight mud flowing through the holes.

I'm sure they have thought of this but have it low on the list because the instant they intersect the blowout wellbore they would have a blowout situation on their own in the shallow relief well. It might just work but would take a lot of John Wayne guts to pull it off. They would need a diverter setup away from the rig or even underwater to mitigate any dangers before they switch to the production facilities.

Imagine the sea floor as pudding. More than a thousand feet of pudding. It's very unlikely you could make a connection to the existing bore at shallow depth without creating lots of leaks into the "pudding", which would all eventually find their way to the surface.

At the moment the leak is confined to the outer casing, not leaking into the pudding. I think we'd all like to keep it there -- we'd got at least a chance of something like the top kill or LMRP working so long as the flow is confined to the riser pipe.

dover -- the pressure in the shallower rocks is much lower than the producitng formation. If the raise the mud weight high enoigh to control the wild flow they would fracture the shallow rocks and lose the well. If they kept the mud weight light to prevent they the RW would blow out.

Yes that is tire, and yes there are a large number of new cracks in the riser kink at the top of the BOP.

Looks like it to me.

I'd like to thank many of you for the education you have given me. I'm new here and want to uching understand what is happening.

Anyway, I was looking at the live feed - really looking - and realized that the breaks in the BOP(?) seemed to follow a fairly straight line; if you draw a line from one opening to the next, it's wavy but pretty much on the same horizontal plane. I was wondering if this indicated a weakness that could give way and just blow-out?

Pocampo, I agree with you. It looks like swiss cheese.

Man I have a bad feeling about this. If they keep screwing around with this somebody is going to get hurt,

News reports say that the top kill was suspended for 16+ hours and only recently restarted. As far as I know, they can't do much if the injected mud weight can't counteract the well pressure... cement injection would be futile if they can't stop the well flow.

Does anyone know the effects of the mud itself on the gulf? This isn't some clay/sand/water mix despite the name. But I don't know what exactly is in this substance... is that available somewhere?

as i understand it, the nuances of the muds properties are proprietary but it basically *is* just mud that has characteristics that allow it to stay viscous when in motion. beyond that i dont really know whats in it

I'm not in the oil drilling business so I don't know the specifics of the mud they are using here, but common drilling mud is basically a barite slurry. Barite is a very heavy (dense) naturally occurring mineral. If you pick up a barite rock it feels like a chunk of lead. They mine barite in Nevada and other places.

Yes it is a clay / water mix, with additives like salts, polymers, etc. to give it improved properties like viscosity, stability, anti-corrosion.

There are some links in the previous comments thread. But starting at the Wikipedia page for "Drilling fluid" would be a good start. The water based mud which is (most likely) being used is various specific clays and water and barite (a barium compound) for weight.

OK, that makes sense. I got the impression from earlier comments that this would have to be an oil-based mud due to the depth/pressures involved. If it's water-based, whatever's left is probably not that big of a deal. There are shiploads of material involved though, so it seems like something to pay attention to.

From what I could find, it was said that the mud was twice as dense as water. So this make it around a 16.8 ppg mud. That's right in the ballpark for a zinc barite mud.

They're pumping junk. I just watched the bottom jet of the three coming out of that leak pinch of and now it's intermittent. Looks like the junk might actually be doing something. Of course, it might just send it down the riser...

A little bit earlier, during the first "close-up" I noticed a small piece of debris coming out of the jet that looked distinctly metallic. Very shiny, high contrast to the mud/riser. Are they using something metallic for the junk shot, or is this probable evidence of the erosion of the BOP/riser?

Someone a few days ago mentioned small titanium balls, so it's possible it's metallic "junk".

On the other hand, light down there can play tricks on you, and it's possible you just got a momentary specular reflection from an air bubble or something which looked like metal would look "in open air".

it seems they need to balance momentum....
if they refloat the broken casing or get a new casing onespecially to a good manifold.

the they can balance momentum as well as pessure

because pressure and momentum are not mutually exclusive......pressure or specifically pressure differential is the driving force (think voltage) ; oil and gas is the fluid that moves due to the pressure differential (think electrons) ; and momentum is the mass flow the instantaneous time-frame it can be thought of as momentum but the correct tern is mass flow rate (think amperes)

and how they are related is called darcy's law can wiki this

yup, we are watching something that most experts agree will not work. As i noted at the end of the previous post we need to consider becoming focused on the source of that stuff coming out of the hemorrhage. this industry is known for exploiting petroleum resource all over the world. They know how to do it in the most efficient way to make the most money! Obama needs to nationalize all the oil drilling rigs in the gulf that can operate in this environment and send them immediately to this lease site. There are currently two relief wells being drilled. If they don't work what you gonna do then? No we need to start thinking out of the box. Economics is not to be a consideration. All that stuff that is already washing up on our beaches has the potential to run our SUV's. Nationalize every drilling rig within travel distance to the area and tell them to drill, under stiff regulations, and tell them to locate their drilling rig in the most strategically beneficial location to capture the oil coming out of this pipe. Think of it this way. economics is driving this whole process. now is the time to rape a reservoir. Rape it in the most effective manner. How long does it take to drill a well to relieve this well? I'll wager it is more than it would take to divert the resources to a new well. Can the relief well be used to produce Oil? What would happen if a couple of new wells were placed close to it and took away this great pressure which is literally killing the GMO. Folks, its in the cards. We primates are gonna burn it all or pollute the world with oil. Lets just keep it off our beaches, marches, mud flats, ocean floors, and tidal creeks. These are the places god loves best. Cut off the source. Put it in our SUV's. Not in our environment.

It takes three months and $100 million dollars to drill a relief well to the target depth of 18,000 feet. Nationalizing anything isn't going to help Mr Rube. If there wasn't oil and gas then there wouldn't be a tree on the planet. We would have burned them all for fuel long ago. They just need to slow this well down enough until the relief wells get to total depth and kill this blowout. If BP had followed the rules this would never have happened. Truly a screw up in my opinion. Cheap cement, no centralizers, ignoring warning signs, hurrying up, not circulating a wellbore volume before cementing, etc,. These are basics that would have prevented this from ever happening. Big Company cockiness and the drive to save money so you can drive your SUV cheaply to the movies. You have no concept of how difficult it is to provide gas for you. People are forgetting the 11 brave souls that lost their lives so you can drive to the movies.

Now back to the professional discussion here.

Are you giving me a guarantee that this thing will be stopped in three months? You been here for 43 minutes?. Shame you don't have a couple of years of reading this stuff. Now. The 'professional discussion" that is taking place here revolves around a process that most of the experienced folks who have commented here say is not going to work! I sincerely hope it does work. but if it don't I am trying to think out of the box about what we might do to get the hemorrhage stopped as soon as possible. I ask you. what is the source of the problem? It is a highly pressurized strata of our good earth, containing oil and gas, under very high pressure, that has been punctured by we greedy primates and is leaking all over the GOM. Now most of the effort so far has concentrated on the end of the pipe that is spewing the oil. I am looking at the other end of the pipe and i know we know, or at least BP knows, critical info about this reservoir. Assume for a moment that these things being tried do not work, and there are some who give them very small odds. I am just saying that an industry that knows how to exploit a resource with great regularity for money needs to be directed to exploit this one for reducing the pressure. Everybody knows that pays attention to this stuff that there ain't but some much oil and gas down there that is causing all that pressure. We are experts at getting it out. Watch the march of oil wells from the uplands of texas and Louisiana. We damn well know how to reduce the pressure down to a level that stripper wells ain't feasible. And i am convinced we could suck this thing dry if that was the mission. Not making a profit.

I concur. Emergency drilling operation needed on Macondo Reserve asap!!

If you really want to save the places God loves best, stop putting in your SUV too.

I didn't read all of the comments from 4 Pm until 10:35.......

can someone interpret what I am looking at?

If you look straight up from the EW in NEWSHOUR, there is a little black spot. I believe that is a piece of "junk". Earlier they were showing a close up of it.

It looks like they are pumping rubber bits or tar or both into the well. It is pitch black. Does anyone know if this has been tried in other wells?

If they're going to put anything in there they should try a bunch of Big Macs into that pipe! Once those things go down that's probably the most sticky substance (with a hardening factor) that will clog the biggest pipes in the world. Haha LOL

Yes you are looking at the end of a pipe that is spewing oil out into the GOM. There are some of us that still have hope that these lying bastards are going to be able to do something that most expert commenters on this site say is impossible. but as long as we watch this we are not out in the street raising hell. They have already, this afternoon, alerted us to the next episode of this continuing saga. (This is getting like listening to Glen Beck.) Forgot what it was but i am sure many will tune in and watch as the pipe keeps flowing and the birds, fish, turtles, fisherman, mud flats, beaches, marshes, mudflats, etc. are destroyed. Hell, this is better than American Idol. Wonder what our ratings are?

Rube, nothing wrong with righteous indignation toward the situation, man...I'd just ask that you be a little more gentle. Don't tone it down too much--because the indignation is fair. I just wanna keep it on point, eh?

I second that e-motion rube.

Probably a question for rockman or shelburn. With their setup now, they have communication with the oil. Are there some sort of pressure regulators on the system so that they can reverse the flow? That is, give up, gradually, on putting mud in, and letting the oil come back through their lines back to some sort of production barge, with flare, etc? You know those lines can hole the Pmud; You know that you are in flow communication with the oil, and you would at least be getting control of some of the oil, and perhaps reducing P oil at the leak points above...

As usual, I am sure I am missing something.

I was thinking the same thing. If the TK fails use these lines to bring oil/gas up. Might need a hydraulic pump on the floor to push it up. It might reduce pressure on the damaged riser enough to replace it.

tuna -- you hit on THE problem: there is no valving to control the flow. And that's why I had little expectation of the top kill working: you can't pump mud or cement down a flowing well. I've been on drilling rigs a number of times when we had to go to kill mode. But the well was shut in and not flowing. In such a case you can pressure up on the well and force the oi/NG back down the hole. And at that point you can pump a heavy kill pill that would prevent the oil/NG from flowing back out of the rocks. But you have to have valves in place to stop the flow for a kill to work. And hey don't have that. At best they have a leaking valve that's restricting flow some.

Clearly some of the junk has made it through the passages inside the BOP. I guess the question is how much of it got caught? And where?


Curiously why do these BOPs not have a set of rams that are mechanically operated or a mechanically operated backup system for the hydraulic rams. Sure it is nothing that a person or possibly an ROV could crank with a wrench but with a ship powered electrical motor. Is that a materials problem? No threading material that wouldn't be shredded under that sort of load?

I understand that for land wells the rams can be closed with a wrench but underwater the little bots can't generate enough torque to operate mechanical ones. Electric? I don't know - seems a harsh environment for a high torque electric drive, but maybe it's possible. At any rate this one is all hydraulic with redundant systems... but it didn't work.

These ROVs have over 200 hydraulic horsepower, basically they are portable hydraulic power units with cameras. They can also supply about 150 kw of 3 phase electric power at 480 volts (or 36,000 volts if you prefer) if necessary but hydraulics are usually much superior to electrics for underwater tooling.

So they have all the power you could want to operate either hydraulic or mechanical systems.

I think the reason the BOPs for deep well and deep water applications do not have mechanically operated rams is that in their normal operating mode they need to supply close to a 2,000,000 pound force and do so very quickly to shear the drill pipe. I'm not sure there is any threaded system that can do that and fit into the space required.

The systems do allow the ROVs to hydraulically override the rams and that was what they were attempting to do for about the first week to 10 days after the rig sank.

I have a question about the absolutely worst, bad, no good, terrible scenario. Our only hope becomes the relief wells. And a cat 4 hurricane starts to tear through the area. Can the relief wells withstand or be protected from a cat 4 or would it be start over again?

You can set a removable plug in the well, and come back after the storm passes.

Thank you.


So grateful for the informed discussion here. My 2 cents re: riser: could it be gradually crimped to a greater degree to (slowly) force back pressure on the well head, further increasing chances of a successful top kill?

Here is my question: Why didn't they use an explosive charge to fully cut the riser, have either another BOP or even a valve on hand than is designed to slide down on the pipe to be either clamped to the pipe so that the flow could be stopped similar to a method used in conventional blow outs? I happen to be an engineer and and fully versed in fluids and structures and heard this discussion with a Petroleum engineer who has worked in this field for nearly 3 decades who suggested the same thing. Maybe the KISS principles just died and building a huge box without thinking about the fluid dynamics and thermodynamics of fluids in a high pressure atmosphere with very low temperatures is the next best thing.

I believe the issue with both is that the downhole pipe might not be able to withstand the full pressure of the stopped-up flow. The mud approach is gradual: the pressure isn't all generated at the top, it's generated incrementally down the full length of the mud column.

So the concern is basically if you stuck a big stopper in the top, then the sides of the riser pipe hundreds of feet below the mud would immediately rupture and then you'd have an even bigger problem. The mud's like pudding (I keep saying that) and it won't hold the oil back at all, you'd just have the same flow rate, but bubbling up all over the floor of the gulf.

(Incidentally, that's why the goal of the junk shot, as I understand it, is *not* to plug up all the leaks -- just "enough" of them to slow the flow (and direct the mud downward) without increasing the pressure in the BOP and riser too much.)

At the moment the riser pipe is intact and all the oil is coming up from inside it. That's a big deal, and they'd really like to keep it that way, if we're to have any chance of controlling the leak from the top side.

Thanks. I think this speaks to the issue of bombing the tube in general.

Pelican7 posted this YouTube link previously:

I'm posting it again because it is absolutely hilarious given the context of the tragedy we are dealing with today.

It will make you laugh, honest. Then you can get back to regular scheduled programming.

Thanks Pelican7!!!!

How many distinct (what?) jets can you count? I see 7...that is just from this angle!

Could some knowledgeable person explain what happens to a drill operation in the event of threatening weather? Do they cap and move the rigs off? Assuming a week for a major to move through what's the time to resume ops and get back down-hole?

In other words we got less than 2 months for the first RW to hit (if all goes to plan!) but if weather comes first what's the potential for delay? The official start of the Season is Tuesday.

If RW's are truly our only hope then mother nature may yet be a cruel momma!

yes ...thats the ticking time bomb here

bad weather ....BP will set a plug and move away till the weather system passes and then come back and drill out the plug and continue drilling.....its pretty standard

So we're talking about - what - maybe optimistically (best case?) a 2 week delay in drilling? Is it possible that the de-lays could be longer?

This could raise fubar to a whole new level, folks!

DBNS -- the basic protocol when a hurricane enters the GOM is to set "storm chokes" in the well bore, delatch the riser or recover it completely if there's time and then abandon the rig. yep...could delay ops for a week or two. Much longer if the rig is destroyed.

I'm just a mechanically inclined observant book read jack of all trades but I think that not taking into account issues within the bore, casing annular ring or what ever it seems that now would be a good time for them to plop that 100 ton 4 story concrete and steel tower down on the riser end and before doing it plug any open pipe connections. I don't know why they would just shoot junk into the well instead of a specially thought out material that could mimic the magnesium or aluminum flakes that are use to plug pressurized automobile radiators. The flat sheets would clog the leaks at the kink which, though they seem large because of the billowing, actually appeared much smaller when close ups were shown. Just throwing junk in there risks a squeeze through of an opening by a circular or wedge shaped item, besides a flexible sheet would more easily pass through the BOP and gather at the interface in effect making a more solid plug to apply the pressure minimizing blow back from return hammer hydraulic pressure. Anyhow much of what is coming out the open riser end? it seems as though the attempt is cutting a lot of oil flow off but the mud escaping keeps them from applying enough pressure and if they did the BOP might give out under the strain. That is why using the 100 ton containment vessel to plug the riser end (which it has already successfully demonstrated it is capable of doing) along with a more sophisticated leak stopping agent would allow the pressure applied to be regulated and more judiciously applied. Besides the fact that if they can't make any meaningful headway towards a permanent fix they will have to keep pumping all that mud indefinately?

That's a lot of tankers full of mud.

I hope all of you fluid dynamicists and drillers and miners and oil well workers and engineers can back this idea and get it on down to the gulf because if this monster is unleashed the entire ecosystem of the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico will be killed off for decades.

My hope is that they actually ran through the fluid dynamics model in their very sophisticated computer software before they did anything. I am an engineer very well versed in fluids and structures and I feel very certain that there was a simple solution to this but I never heard it discussed except by one petroleum engineer. Oh well why follow KISS.

Heh. I wonder why you are "very certain that there [is] a simple solution to this". I think you are engaging in some wishful magical thinking.

Sometimes we create problems that are really really really hard to solve. That's reality. It's always possible to f**k up worse.

Actually there is a simple solution. Or better yet, a simple system that can solve the issue here. Trouble is, we imagine we are looking at the problem while the reality might be altogether different. BP, of course, is not telling us anything, forget the truth, the whole truth etc.

Here is one way to look at it:

You start far away from the leaks.... say between 100-200 meter dia, a large heavy ring that takes in ballast water as it goes down, finally sucking in mud+water, whatever it takes to keep it down. Bouy like hook lines float above it.

lay a heavy wire mesh along the length, loosely anchoring it to the slush better. now bring in a second ring, 20 meters less dia, with flotation in ballast tanks keeping it approx 15-30 meters above ring one. Attach first ring hooks to second ring (enough to make a strong connect.

The interior of rig two and above have guide vanes on the inside (trim-tab size) that would give any passing flow a "swirl".

Hang strong mesh from ring two to randomly enmesh with initial mesh laid on ring one.

The idea would be to get a multi-directional hold.

With each succesively smaller ring up, ballast the bottom ring further, so it keeps a relatively stable base. It has 20-30 meters to sink into goo. No trouble.

Each added ring, with it's internal vanes, collects a more "inward" focussed flow due to the swirl effect of inner vanes. I understand the pressures are hig, which is why small vanes will do just fine.

Keep linking up with controlled ballast, smaller and smaller rings till you have a structure around the Oilcano that looks like a nuclear plants cooling tower, hugging the stream (flow) while successively "churning" it into a tighter and tighter spiral flow. Of course, the oil, being dense will go to the heart of the flow.


To get an idea of what it would look like.

As required according to the depth and pressure conditions, the outside of the ring+mesh can be wrapped with some heavy rubber/derivative material (steel impregnated, whatever works) to finally create a flexible funnel along the length of the flow.

You can take this as high as is necessary, starting with the appropriate bottom ring dia, to bring the now swirled flow to a depth where multiple suction pipes can pull in the oil+water mix onto mini-tankers for further processing.

Given that spiraling flow, you can leave appropriate and controllable apertures along the length of the tower to control/direct the mix as desired.

There is more to the idea (as in more detail), but I can see it working. It is an out of the box solution.

Stop the leak into the waters, allow the relief wells to do their job, then simply detach down and do the block.

My history is 12 years naval officer (Electrical and Marine engg)(large ships), Technology planning for super-complex fortune 50 conglomarate and now radical industrial designer.

This thing needs to be teased in, not rammed shut.

Like I said, more detail there, but not good to vent in one shot, eh?

Appreciate any and all feedback.

Please visualize deeply what I have described before "junk-shotting" me.


My hope is that they actually ran through the fluid dynamics model in their very sophisticated computer software before they did anything. I am an engineer very well versed in fluids and structures and I feel very certain that there was a simple solution to this but I never heard it discussed except by one petroleum engineer. Oh well why follow KISS.

My hope is that they actually ran through the fluid dynamics model in their very sophisticated computer software before they did anything. I am an engineer very well versed in fluids and structures and I feel very certain that there was a simple solution to this but I never heard it discussed except by one petroleum engineer. Oh well why follow KISS.

One of the things I have learnt about the industry is a that they have a habit of using trivialising names for procedures and techniques. The "junk shot" being one of them. The name suggests a poorly thought out, grasping at straws, sort of idea. The reality it seems is actually much more scientific. The materials used in the junk shot have been evolved and tested as much as has been possible, and much evolved in the controlling of the wells damaged by Saddam. Bits of tire, rubber balls, rope, electrical cord - all sounds very ad hoc. But if you consider the issues they make sense. Pressures of many thousands of pounds per square inch, very fast flows, and openings from fractions of an inch to inches. This isn't a wild idea pulled out of thin air. It works and has been proven to work many times. Just not in quite the circumstances we have here.

The other point that seems to have been missed for the last couple of days of comments here. Everyone is focussing on the cracks in the riser, and the leaks here. The reality is that these leaks don't matter a great deal. If they were plugged, the oil and gas would simply flow further down the pipe, eventually to the severed end. There is some restriction to the flow, but not a great deal. If the top kill fails, the next thing they will do is cut the whole riser off anyway. The riser is damaged and not structurally capable of holding back the pressure. The analogue of a rotten hosepipe has been used a few times. Plug those leaks everyone focusses on, and stopper the open end, and the pipe will spring many other leaks.

The point of the junk shot is to clog the BOP. Not the leaks in the riser. Also, restrict, not stopper. Far too much danger that the BOP or other weakened structures may not survive a sudden pressure spike. As has been noted before. BP are moving from the lowest risk action to the next highest.

One suspects that timing is an issue here too. You don't want to try a very high risk idea too soon - if there is a risk that it results in an uncontroled flow you would want to know that the relief well will not be too far behind. So balancing timing of the risk of bad things versus the additional (but known) flow of oil and the chance of a successful kill. If there is a 5% chance that the junk shot blows the BOP and you have a 50,000bbl/day gusher for two months, against 20,000bbl/day without trying it, and maybe 50% chance that the shot reduces flow to say 5,000bbl/day, and some smaller but non-zero chance that it enables a top kill to stop the well completely until the relief well kills it. When is the best time to try it? It isn't an easy call. Especially when the odds are not exactly hard facts. Having a staged set of options, and trying to ensure that even a worst case failure of one doesn't rule out the next option is about the best you can do.

Looks like they've stopped pumping again. The flow seems to have let up.

"Looks like they've stopped pumping again. The flow seems to have let up. ..." - Jimm

If the "junk" lodges in the BOP, then the plumes would, presumably, lessen to wisps.

If the were to stop pumping, the plumes would, I think, be quickly fed by well pressure.

things do not look good now.

Woah, what's that weird whitish stream coming from the central leak on the right?

Looks like they lit the afterburners on the pumps

I'm beginning to think my "SUCCESS" shout was a little early. I thought they said the pressure was way down?

Even a kid playing with toys could see you couldn't generate any meaningful back-pressure off that extreme leak out the top of the Blowout Preventer. If the mud works it will be by gravity and volume.

Yeah, just in the last 5-10 minutes, the plumes have changed a lot. Less stable, some white jets that come and go. Seemed like the overall flow was slowing down a lot, now seems to have come back up.

Looks to me that there is something else going on. The color variations in before and after mud bare a remarkable resemblance. Looks like there is a mixed flow separation going on where the natural gas is dominate on the left, the oil is dominate on the right, and there is a strong mixed flow in the middle.

Add mud and what do you see? The same thing turned brown.

My lay interpretation: 1) whatever is happening in the pipe (by the way, what is the diameter of the feed into this mangled pile of broken junk? Something I read from Matt Simmons ~2weeks ago indicated that the pipe was 4 feet in diameter.

So with the clearly high velocities, there seems to be some flow path inducing centrifugal flow separation. Before and still.

Where does this flow separation start? It's clear that this has always been a gas/oil issue, where the gas blew through the whole pipeline up through the rig. Is there something very strange at the bottom of this hole that will preclude the effectiveness of the Top Shot because of mixed oil/gas flow?

Is the mixed flow and velocity sheer across the pipe enough to keep the mud from packing?

Or am I just completely off-base?

I think the reason you are seeing the flow slow is not due to a reduction in the mud but a reduction in the flow. The pipe diameter is 21" which for those that are not sure how big a rather large man could lay in that pipe and still have plenty of room.

I wonder that same about the white plumes. Could be gas seperation. I also wonder if it could be a lighting effect. The light plume on the left is in the foreground.

There is a hypothesis presented here:

Believe the BOP is 18.75 inch ID

somethings are given

1- an apple will fall to the ground when it drops

2- when you piss in the wind, it comes back on you

3- a top kill will not succeed on a flowing well ( whats th whole media has been saying--you know chances of success at 50 - 70 % ....thats for a well which can count on pressure support from the BOP stack and NOT for flowing wells...)

top kill has never worked on a flowing well ...EVER in the history of drilling ...

Agreed the fluid dynamics of the situation say this if the attempt is going to be successful you are going to need to have a very highly viscous fluid at high temperatures (~450 F) and even though drilling mud is a very different fluid it is very hard to see how this is going to work. The only this I could see happening is you get enough mud into the bore to stop or at least significantly reduce the flow of the oil but the drilling fluid and some oil and gas will still be emitted from the casing.

not gonna happen...

plus the telling factor here is mud weight not viscosity....

viscosity is the ability of the mud to suspend fluids and solids ...which in Newtonian fluids decreases with temperature...

what will make a difference is the mud need to balance the pressure that is due to the oil with enough pressure from he mud so as to neutralize it .......for example 16 ppg mud means if you were to weigh one gallon of the mud it would weigh 16 pounds....

Agreed the weight of the mud will help to "plug" the casing but unless you have a highly viscous fluid the gasses and other fluid can flow through the mud. Viscosity is actually the affinity of fluid to flow or more correctly the resistance of fluid to flow. A highly viscous fluid will entrain the gas and fluid at the interface zone but if you are able to overcome the pressure of the flowing fluid the farther away from the interface zone you move the less entrainment you will have. This is similar to performing a freeze plug in piping that cannot be drained before being cut. RCS and the like in nuclear plants.

Ah at last a fact.... a gallon of mud weighs 16 lbs.
So a cubic inch = 0.07 lbs

So a column of mud one mile high = 4400 psi.
less a column of seawater = 2200 psi

So met hydrostatic pressure = 2200psi @ sea bed

Plus another 2200 psi for each mile down

plus 20000 psi from the pump at the sea surface(?)

but not much use without a good seal?

I think that is what they are trying to do - pump mud into the well at a much greater rate than it can escape from the leaks. It looks like the leaks are too big to do this successfully, therein the need for the junk shot to clog the leaks. I have been concerned that the material for the junk shot does not have high enough shear strength to withstand the kind of pressures encountered. We will see.

Hope you can back that last statement with historical data.

Two questions:

If the seabed is 100's of feet of pudding-like mud, then what is the 4 story BOP sitting on ? How do they establish the base of the well head in mud ?

I think Rockman, Shelburn, or fracflow addressed this nicely in previous threads. The top several hundred feet of the drill system is essentially a very large tube that is pushed into the mud, until it n deep enough to have strength. The BOP sits on that, and they drill through it.

Right on the nose tuna. That csg is called the drive pipe.


Since you seem to have so much to contribute, perhaps you could begin to provide some references (sort of the culture here). You were "heavy" on the subject of relief wells in the previous thread, yet since you are so sure the top kill won't work, suggest some alternatives. The relief wells seem to be our best choice, despite your "reality check" posts. It would be interesting to hear your opinions on what will work.

On the subjects of top kill vs. relief wells:

Remarks: On 1/16/98 gas was found bubbling around Platform B (unmanned). All but one well (B-7) had been plugged. B-7 was a low volume gas well. Attempts to control the flow through surface intervention(top kill) from the platform proved to be too hazardous and were abandoned. Fire boats and oil clean-up boats were on location. The decision was made to drill a relief well. The Diamond Ocean Crusader was onsite 1000 feet away within 96 hours. On 2/14/98 the relief well intercepted well B-7, and heavy kill fluid followed by cement was pumped into B-7, which stopped the flow. Well B-7 was plugged and abandoned on 2/18/98. The operator determined that the SCSSV was cut out by gas/liquid/ sand flow. This eroded holes in the 7-inch and 10-3/4 inch casings.

(emphasis mine)

Solutions/ideas encouraged. Negativity eventually rejected.
Unsubstantiated comments = bullshit.

for the love of god

i am saying top kill is taking a piss into the wind ...not worth attempting

relief well --- you seem not to be able to to get the concept ...this is the only solution here....what i have been saying is the procedure involved in establishing pressure communications into the leaking well is very very tough...on average it takes more than one try to get it done let me dumb it down for you .....

there is no guarantee that soon as the first well sink to TD ....the problem is over....the problem is when you have to either mill into the casing of the leaking well or do a hot dock where you pull alongside this well and run a perf gun to establish comms ....this is the tricky part ....(so joining the relief well and the leaking well...this part of the operation is the hardest to do) its common for this procedure to take 2 or 3 attempts understand here come august just cuz the well has been sunk doesn't mean problem solved.....this can easily drag into september and this is what i'm saying...august can drag into September ...get it

now a hot dock will not work ...because you have a 13500 psi rated reservoir and what you have going through the reservoir is called a transient pressure response.....what this means is that fact that there is a leak has not been communicated to all the reservoir in other words the outer boundaries of this reservoir has not even experienced the pressure depletion that is happening in the area around the wellbore where oil is entering the wellbore august the reservoir will be entering/about to enter PSS state ....that is when the flow characteristics of the oil and gas will change that point a hot dock will be tough to pull off as well......

now tell me what part of this you dont get and i will explain it to you .....

relief well --- you seem not to be able to to get the concept ...this is the only solution here....what i have been saying is the procedure involved in establishing pressure communications into the leaking well is very very tough...on average it takes more than one try to get it done let me dumb it down for you .....

The culture of this peak oil forum is almost always one of co-operative engagement - there is no need for slagging, condescension, and gratuitous insult. If you wish to contribute, that's fine, but frankly, nothing you have stated in your posts hasn't been covered before in the past couple of weeks - sometimes many times, and often at a robust technical level.

So stay calm, stay cool, and be polite - it counts for a lot. Contribute meaningfully if you can - but it's also worth reading what has gone on beforehand, so you do not reinvent a wheel or two.

Forget this guy, Cargill. He's a self-important pompous ass (sorry).


NOBODY who has been on here for more than a day or so thinks that as soon as a single relief well has been drilled that the game is over.

There has been much discussion of how iffy it is to contact the borehole in the blowout, and quite a bit of discussion of whether having 2 rigs drilling is even enough. Some people have suggested that 4 should be going because of the chance of failure. And everybody is aware of how long it took to kill Ixtoc.

But also, by this time, most people are resigned to the relief wells being the 'ultimate' solution while still praying for a miracle in the meantime.

You're pretty much preaching to the choir...but coming across sounding like everybody here is an idiot. AND sounding like even the relief wells won't get it eventually.

and i'm just going to let you have a little taste here using your own are why you are comparing apples to oranges here

1- EI-252 was water depth 150 ft , this well water depth = 5000 ft --- the difference 150 ft is diver depth while 5000 is rov depth

2- EI-252 B-7 was a LOW producer from a depleted reservoir ...and it was a gas well we have a untapped reservoir rated @ 13000+ psi producing oil with entrenched gas --- this increases the difficulty ohh say substantially

3- EI-252 B-7 was not a uncontrolled gusher ...its had a SCSSV failure (this valve goes below the mud line ) and this well is a what now uncontrolled gusher .....just cuz you found the word relief well associated to this well doesn't mean this is what is happening with this leaking well

4- EI-252 was a by virtue of water depth @ 150 ft means you are shielded from tough work realities of DW jobs....DW you drill from a ship or a jackup which is dynamically positioned ....and hurricane season is coming ...this ship will be moving around avoiding hurricanes so expect plenty of R/UP and R/DNs and WOW (waiting on weather) time simply cannot disconnect the realities of operating in DW from a drill project

5- for EI-252 B-7 the problem started Jan 16 ...relief well rig was deployed within 96 hrs ...means they didnot get to start drilling until Jan 20 ....and they were at TD and had intercepted the wellbore by Feb many days drilling time .... 20 odd days .....this was a very shallow well ....what we have is not so shallow or easy to drill ....overburden on DW is way way high so the rock is very compacted and takes time to drill

what r you even talking about are comparing apples to oranges at best here .....

i wasn't really wanting to point out these glaring flaws ...and i can point out more here even ....but you seem not to be getting the point ...i am just here like you sharing my thoughts hoping that maybe a few folks can pick up whats really happening and find some comfort in that....i will however expect you to reply to this and see if you can debunk any of what i have said ....

"i will however expect you to reply to this and see if you can debunk any of what i have said ...."

I was emphasising that, even at a shallow depth, the top kill attempt was abandoned. I seems you're too high on yourself to see that.

There is little to be gained from trying to debunk what has been discussed here for over a month, by folks who actually know how to have a discussion.

And yet they had to do it.

Consider the alternative. Assume BP knows what the experienced hands on this site know: that this was probably not going to work. Maybe the only shot is the relief well. So they sit back and do nothing while we wait at least three months? We (the public) would have crucified them even more than we're doing now.

There are a lot of frustrated voices calling for more openness from BP, and rightfully so. But what if BP had come out weeks ago and told what appears now to be the full truth: none of these intermediate measures are likely to work, and this situation is FUBAR in the absolute purest sense, but we're going to go ahead and at least try some of these other options because being idle will drive us all nuts and because even a 1% chance of success is worth trying, and we're going to waste a shi[p]load of money making it look like we're at least making an effort? Would that make anybody feel better?

Let me be clear: I am not defending BP here. None of these comments address what is shaping up to be an inadequate (understatement!) cleanup effort. But even that is in question now: if this is going to go on for two more months, is a full cleanup mobilization today going to be sustained for that long, and to what effect if the gross volume of oil in the gulf is going to triple or more? I know the answer: you have to do something. Maybe that's just what they're doing. Maybe they're not evil - maybe they're just f*(^ed.

If that's really the case you shouldn't have a suit come out and say that one of the purported fixes has a 60-70% chance of success.

It's hard for me to believe they would come out with a statement like that unless they had a descent shot of success.

ding, ding, ding--we have a winner.

UNDERpromise, OVERdeliver--the PR winner's formula.

What we are seeing is how NOT to do it.

In principle, I absolutely agree. In this case, I'm not sure that's realistic: how can you possibly over-deliver? Before this attempt, if a reporter had asked whether this was going to work, and a BP rep had said, "Probably not," they might have had an even worse PR debacle on their hands.

But your point is taken. Regardless of how effective -- or not -- their actions have been, their PR is terrible.

EditI don't know if not doing anything would be better or not.

(They have to do this. It's the PR/media and expectations that are the problem.)

There has been so much hype regarding this top kill. Weeks ago, I had read it was a long shot, but suddenly it was given a 70% chance of success.

Whenever, they try something they suddenly come up with good odds. Then, the media runs with it...etc. etc.

Why can't they just say it's a long shot..a 20 percent chance.

When I first saw the live feed last week, I realized that BP had not been honest about the flow rate. I accepted that we might not have anything until relief wells. Then all the news and media hype about the top kill and the 70% chance of success..

I think the public would be much more serious about clean up efforts if they knew we had 3 more months of this.

11 men lost their lives.
Our marshlands are a mess.
Our fisheries are closed.
Getting barrier islands built is proving a political nightmare--(it shouldn't)

(My little 2 cents )

As long as they pay. But truth is, we're all going to pay for this one. And we all made it happen...

No, we did not all make it happen. Collective guilt is a bogus meme.

I concur.

While I think that BP could be a little more clear in their communications (more coming from the engineers, less from PR and lawyers), even if they HAD said directly 'no effort has a high chance of success, but we have to try'...They'd still be doing the same thing. Trying anything and everything that they could figure out that had more than a snowball's chance of success.

Hard to tell because it is so lighting dependent, but the escaping mud sure looks like it is getting darker. I wonder if they have abandoned the attempt and we are seeing mud mixed with oil coming back out of the hole now?

frankly, Im shocked the pipe hasn't been completely destroyed by now.

How abrasive is the mud?

I need to stop looking at that feed. It's telling me to do things. Bad things.

[Loose end from the previous thread]

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)

Nye (speaking to CNN's John King) thinks BP ran out of mud and is running around trying to find more.

However, according to Kent Wells in his May 24 Tech Talk video on the top kill operation, there are four different vessels carrying a total of more than 80,000 bbl of mud at the site (at least that was the total at the start of the procedure).

Yes, that is what he said. It was actually 81,000 barrels on four ships, two which he named: HOS (31000) and the Blue Dolphin.

Do we have a hard number on how much mud BP pumped the first day?

I saw two vastly different figures in an earlier thread.

One suggested that a lot of mud was leaking out. The other didn't.

VV -- I was told that towards the end of the first 24 hr cycle they had pumped 30,000 bbls of mud.

And for what it's worth the mud companies can ship a million bbls of mud out there any time BP wants to write that check. They can either ship liquid mud out or mix it on location. Or both.

It it me, or did that thing pick up steam there for a couple minutes?

judging from the color change I would think they are pumping mud now.

Here's an idea. Fabricate a new riser, but with a valve at the bottom. Lower it into the water, with the valve closed, so that no water gets in. This could be assembled in sections as it is lowered into the water. When the end gets down to the well, the riser will contain nothing but air and will be open at the top. Now cut off the damaged riser connected to the well, open the valve on the new riser, and put it on top of the well. Because it's filled with air, water will rush in to fill it up, creating a giant suction. Use that suction to get the oil flowing up the new riser. Secure the riser to the top of the well. Do not attempt to stop the flow; just keep loading tankers at the surface until a relief well stops the flow.

As a preliminary exercise, please calculate how thick your riser pipe would need to be to withstand the surrounding pressure of the ocean at the depth of the BOP with only air inside.

Water pressure at 5000 foot depth is 2237 psi. That should be no problem for standard riser pipe.

Good basic idea but the structural aspect of that is mightily unwieldy. Imagine trying to hold a broom stick 377' long (approximately 37 stories tall) and controlling the bottom as the top rises and falls with the waves, and sways with the currents. Sorry not trying to be a kill joy just trying to put the magnitudes into perspective.

I posted a similar idea a few days ago. But I still wonder if, like you "steering the flow" is better than trying to fight the reservoir pressure. I don't think the air filled riser would work - then need to steer it to the leak, and to that the riser needs weight, which would be the water column. My idea was to let it fill with sea water, and have a set of pumps, to try to establish the pressure gradient between the leaks and the atmosphere. The riser maybe need not have a hard connection - just get the thing over the leaks, and let the bouyancy effect and the pressure differences drive the flow into a riser that is anchored to the ocean bottom.

An open pipe exposed to the pressure differences [the oil is at something like 8000 psi] would have some remarkably bad effects. But if the riser is filled with water, or mud that is slighty less dense than the oil, maybe the oil would rise up the column; I haven't figured out yet if you'd the pumps for very long - once the oil "sees" Patm, the pressure gradient would be Poil-Patm, Not Poil-Pocean column

The other problem is the gas - and as it rises, it will likely form hydrate crystals along the riser wall. THis was the problem with the dome they tried earlier.

I see your point about the pressure difference between atmospheric in the pipe and 8000 psi coming out of the well, but water will already be rushing up the pipe by the time it is placed on top of the well, so there will already be a column of water in the pipe, moving up at high velocity. That should pull the oil and gas into and up the pipe. You won't get hydrate formation unless gas is mixing with water, and I don't think there will be much of that in the pipe. The rapid flow should prevent any hydrate crystals that do form from adhering to the smooth walls of the pipe.

Another consideration is that the air-filled pipe will have some buoyancy to counteract the weight of the pipe. As soon as water starts rushing in, the pipe becomes heavier. This has to be taken into account by the rig that is suspending the pipe in the water. The increasing weight would push the pipe down against the wellhead, would could help in forming a seal.

at some point, the "air-filled" riser pipe would collapse on itself with no internal pressure to counteract the ambient pressure at depth... : )

Water pressure at 5000 foot depth is 2237 psi. The pipe can handle that.


You are very close to an already established solution. Good job.

It's called an LMRP (Lower Marine Riser Package) You can find a diagram here:

Basically, they cut off the existing riser from the BOP using a diamond wire saw operated by an ROV. That creates a very smooth, flat surface for the gasket on the bottom of the LMRP to mate to. This is not a pressure tight fit, just water tight to prevent hydrates from forming (IIRC). The ROV's are capable of maneuvering the LMRP in place over the BOP.

Not a bad guess coming from an armchair kinda guy ;-)

They also have an option to stab another BOP on top of the existing BOP. The problem here is that the "chain is only as strong as the weakest link" and we know the original BOP has been damaged so a good BOP sitting on top of a more damaged BOP is probably a worse situation.

I guess if the top kill/junk shot works then it will allow the well to be cemented and the BOP removed for forensic examination. Personally i doubt the top kill will work but that's just based on my experiement in my back garden with a hose and some mud:-)

The LMRP should allow pretty much all the oil and gas to be collected until a relief well can successfully seal the well. Obviously there are issues with hurricanes interrupting the process!! so IMHO worth trying the top kill first.

Like the North Sea Piper Alpha tragedy in 1988 where 167 were killed this will have a significant impact on off-shore drilling. Before Piper Alpha there was a feeling if this major international oil company (Chevron) has spent £500 million on this platform there is no way they would risk losing all that money; there was legislation but exceptions were made; there were regulations but enforcement was lax; there were rules but adhered to for the duration of an inspector's visits. Lessons will be learned and much tighter regulations put in place. I can't see off shore drilling being banned but it will become more expensive. Probably improvements in the containment and clean-up technology will happen.

A month ago i blogged elsewhere that this leak was at the limit of our technology and could take a long time to fix, like everyone else I would like to see the leak stopped immediately but know it could take a long time.

So what is to be made of the differences in color? In particular there is this small much lighter plume in the center of the field. How would a portion of a plume have such a different color in the middle of the pipe right next to such a large darker plume?

I wonder if that's not a bit of an optical illusion. When the plume begins to get 'wispy' or thin, we see more of the white background (the pipe). I noticed this when the camera was on close-up.

I think that it's from cavitation but I am not totally sure.

@ptone I have been watching that for 30 minutes now. I think another commentator above mentioned flow separation from the methane in the flow. Not knowing at what azimuths the mud is being injected at (ie is it to the left and right on axis, or front back?) it is hard to say.

But I would not be suprised if the methane was making the junk shot more complicated. I like simple examples: my daughter has a wand filled with mineral oil and glitter, with one tiny bubble. If I let the glitter settle on one end, I can turn it over fast, get the bubble pressing isometrically under the mass of glitter, and keep the glitter from falling indefinitely. Tip it one way or another, and the mass falls apart. If methane is on one side, moving through the compacted mud faster than the oil can, this might make the top kill process infeasible.

Makes me wonder if the methane is coming in from a crack, as if from a clathrate deposit.

I have a question relating to cracks. A Photographic Tour of a Natural Gas Well in the Marcellus Shale
Posted by David Murphy on May 24, 2010 - 8:23am discusses hydrofracking ( I understand that's land drilling as opposed to deep water drilling). Detection Fault Related Hydrocarbon Migration Pathways in Seismic Data discusses gas chimney analysis. discusses in part "...hydrate dissociation has been linked to seafloor instability...".

With the geology of the GOM in mind, is there not a good possibility that cracking or accidentally induced fracking (if that's the right word) has occurred in fragile strata around the drill pipe and there are leaks we don't know about. And apropos that, if the mud is mildly radioactive, is it possible to track its path as it flows out/down the pipe. I got the impression that ground penetrating radar is blocked by the saline content of the Gulf waters therefor not usable in the underwater environment, but now that we've introduced a radioactive substance,that should open another real time data source.

Thanks for taking time to answer all the questions.

This thing is going to blow. We're really going to have to get down to the basics of life, without all of the luxuries.

The problem is agonizingly simple: a plumbing leak. A burst pipe. And nobody can fix it. I'm convinced we shouldn't be drilling that deep offshore.

This well is far from the deepest water ever drilled. Transocean holds the current world water-depth record of operating in 10,011 feet of water while drilling for Chevron in the GoM.

BP has had a GoM production platform called Atlantis operating in 7,000' of water since December, 2007. It is capable of producing 200,000 bbls/day (from multiple wells). The Horizon disaster has sparked several lawsuits and Congressional threats to make BP stop producing from Atlantis until an operating review is performed.

God of Ixtoc. God of Macondo. These are angry gods.

At this rate, these leaks will no longer look like mere leaks by morning.


None of the BP guys have ever owned a really old car eh! When the head rusts thru and you get steam an Bars Leaks blasting all over, then you whack in a couple of self tapping screws into the split. That plugs the leak enough for the bits of rubbish in circulation to block the small holes that remain, and away you go again.

With their clever robots, why not do exactly the same to each crack in the pipe. No need to torque them up too tight, just enough to hold each screw a little bit. One screw at a time.

That way the 'bot is not fighting the full pressure, and we can check progress as we go. Once the screws are in place we would see a myriad of small voids which will be easier to clog than the four or five big splits they are fighting with now.

If they use screws that are long in relation to the 'diameter' of the remaining riser, then the screws would also 'stick their fingers' into the flow along the riser and help with catching junk there too.

Nothing else is working so its worth a crack!


I’ve been trying to come up with a device that would allow for the well to be sealed from the top down. This would only make sense I guess if either the Top Kill damages the valve system to the extent that you get unrestricted flow. At that point cutting the valve off would not change the flow rate of oil and gas into the sea. The other reason would be if you had a very high probability of this working without a hitch.

I make stickers for a living so I do not know much about the top of an oil well or how the well actually works. I guess it consists of a pipe within a pipe. I am also not sure which one of these pipes the oil and gas are coming out of or is it both? In either case my device should be able to work I believe. I would be interested in what all of you folks think of this idea and how it could be improved to overcome all known possible obstacles to its use.

This remote controlled vehicle would be fully instrumented with lights and cameras and any other sensors needed to accomplish its task. It can move in the water using thrusters and ballast tanks much like a submarine. With this idea you would have to cut off the current valve assembly. However once that is done the plugging vehicle/tool would be able to quickly move into place without any further work, (threads or clamps are not needed), on the casing or drill pipe. The inner bore of the insertion plug would allow for the smaller drill pipe to go up inside thus sliding right into place in the outer casing. The bypass port on the main valve on top of the device would allow for oil gas flow to bypass into the ocean as the plug is inserted. This would allow for pressure free insertion of the plug assembly and avoid any sudden pressure surges in the well bore that might cause casing failure below the ocean floor. Once the plug is in place and the top of the casing is sealed against the urethane sealing collar the hydraulic actuated urethane side seals are activated. As you then close the side bypass valve you could simultaneously start injecting mud from the surface through the hose attached to the top of the new valve system. With the bypass valve fully closed the well could be filled with mud or cement. After it is determined it is sealed with cement the hydraulic side seals are deactivated and the tool/vehicle can be brought back up to the surface for maintenance and storage.

Not sure about all of the physics but it seems logical. Hope it’s not needed but I think the Navy should start building and testing something like it anyway as it could be used in the future if this ever happens again.

“USS Gusher Killer” >

Thanks for your comments in advance. If it’s just plain dumb, well that’s OK too, just let me down easy all right.

Thanks for your time and all you folks do to help the rest of us understand the complexities and dangers involved in your industry. God Bless and stay safe out there! Dave

Makes sense to me, except the "urethane sealing collar" may not be strong enough. This is a similar concept to cutting off the existing BOP and putting on a new one.

For starters the concrete weight would have to be about 4,000 tons in air to seal against 15,000 psi pressure with no safety factor. Don't forget 150 lb/ftcu concrete weighs about 86 lb/ftcu in saltwater.

Second, any air ballast tank capable of standing up to the pressure at 5,000 feet has to have walls so thick that it will sink.

Keep trying but remember the physicas involved with the water depth and the well pressures.

shelburn Thanks. I was not sure of the pressure at the well head but I figured it was in that range. I also realize the ballast tanks would need lots of reinforcement but maybe that could be done structurally without the the need for thickness? Thanks for your figures as now I have something "concrete" to work with. God Bless Dave

The small, whitish plume people are asking about - earlier there was a close up of what appeared to be a piece of black "junk". Immediately behind the piece of black "junk" was a consistent, brownish plume. Once in awhile a smaller plume would appear in the front of the piece of black "junk". If you look straight about the EW in NEWSHOUR, you see the little black chunk of "junk".

I believe that is what the close up was capturing on film. Once in awhile the whitish plume disappears, just as it did in the close up. I think it's a thinner plume, and that make it look lighter than the heavier plumes.

hmm. If the BOP is fubar, can it be removed and replaced with another one?

Has anyone here seen the end of the riser recently? That was a widely available camera shot prior to the TK process, but now we seem to be down to one eye on the riser kink and jets of mud. This may be the most informative view... but what would the end-of-the-riser shot tell us?

If there's nothing coming out of the end, that would suggest the junk shot has plugged the riser, and/or the kink jets are the only (?) release point. Good(ish) news, I guess.

But if there is mud/oil coming out the riser end... ? This would be what is getting past the jets we're seeing. Likely the same mix as what's coming out the jets. That looks dark, but it's been a long 1.5 days.

This has been asked above (but I don't know that it's been answered): If the TK is working, even a little bit, then is there likely to be ZERO oil in that emission - i.e. is it all mud? Does that mean the well is *effectively* (though obviously not permanently) shut in?

Do those jets look like 100% mud?

Back to the riser end: If there's a steady blackish stream (like we used to see), can we conclude that this is all a hoax in some CA studio? (It's been likened to a moon landing, no?)

All entirely speculative, of course, unless someone can confirm the view at the riser end.

(Thanks once again TODers, for all the education. Glad to see all the new "faces", too. Sad circumstances... but we can still hope.)

It did look like they ramped up the pumps there for a couple a minutes. I dunno maybe they are trying to push junk through the lines. BP would tell us if they started the junk shot wouldnt they. HOHOHO

I'm just a mechanically inclined observant book read jack of all trades but I think that not taking into account issues within the bore, casing annular ring or what ever it seems that now would be a good time for them to plop that 100 ton 4 story concrete and steel tower down on the riser end and before doing it plug any open pipe connections. I don't know why they would just shoot junk into the well instead of a specially thought out material that could mimic the magnesium or aluminum flakes that are use to plug pressurized automobile radiators. The flat sheets would clog the leaks at the kink which, though they seem large because of the billowing, actually appeared much smaller when close ups were shown. Just throwing junk in there risks a squeeze through of an opening by a circular or wedge shaped item increasing the size of the opening, besides a flexible sheet would more easily pass through the BOP and gather at the interface in effect making a more solid plug to apply the pressure minimizing blow back from return hammer hydraulic pressure. Anyhow how much of what is coming out the open riser end? it seems as though the attempt is cutting a lot of oil flow off but the mud escaping keeps them from applying enough pressure and if they did the BOP might give out under the strain. That is why using the 100 ton containment vessel to plug the riser end (which it has already successfully demonstrated it is capable of doing by clogging) along with a more sophisticated leak stopping agent would allow the pressure applied to be better regulated and more judiciously applied. Besides the fact that if they can't make any meaningful headway towards a permanent fix they will have to keep pumping all that mud indefinately?

That's a lot of tankers full of mud.

I hope all of you fluid dynamicists and drillers and miners and oil well workers and engineers can back this idea and get it on down to the gulf because if this monster is unleashed the entire ecosystem of the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico will be killed off for decades.

As the process stands it seems that the only 'downward' pressure they are achieving is derived from the pressure differential across the leaks at the top of the BOP. Those leaks are the cracks we were looking at today, plus the flow out to the far end of the riser we have watched for so long already.

It seems that the wished-for effect of achieving a column of mud to bear down on the well pressure is not working, and the only pressure they are achieving is within the BOP, determined by the head loss at the leaks at the top.

At present the pumps have the task of pumping the highly viscous mud, then overcoming its friction resistance on the way into the BOP.

They may as well save the mud and simply try the much simpler task of pumping seawater into the BOP at much higher flows through the internal pipework of the BOP. The principle is the same, and if they manage to get the required pressure differential with seawater then they can add mud or junk to help seal the top. (Having first filled the cracks in the BOP with self-tapping screws, as I suggested above.)

It will be obvious when its working; the sea water will be flowing clean out the cracks, and at that stage the pressure in the BOP at the point the seawater is introduced will be equalling or exceeding the upward pressure from the well .


If the flow of oil and gas can be arrested by pumping seawater into the BOP, then the pumping could go on until the relief well stops the flow.

Last night I was able to watch all the ROV's in operation on CNN. Tonight just get to look at the damn riser. Anyone know why CNN took the live feed of all ROV's down?

I'd guess they didn't like what we were seeing.

If that's mud, and "heavy mud" at that, where is it going? Why isn't it settling down and all around the leak? It looks like it's going up and continuing up, like oil and gas.

It is being shot out of the leaks at quite some pressure and speed. The mud will have to lose its energy before it can begin to settle. Combine this with undersea currents and you are not likely to see the area in such a small camera shot where it is settling.

Noticed that too even in the more distant shot this morning.

Seems consistent to a layman like me. The column is darker with some white jet, the leaks are by most reckoning larger so tougher to push the mud down hole, there is obvious evidence that the interface wasn't pushed to a depth where the mud weight was able to hold the pressure at the leak. It seems entirely plausible that a mixture of oil, gas and mud exiting the BOP may account for a plume that has a more buoyant character.

We are not getting the clouds of mud phenom that was so prevalent yesterday. The oil didn't hang around and this stuff doesn't seem to either.

Edit; They are intercepting some of the plume with a probe now and even that cloud rises right on up.

I have looked at diagrams of the relief well drilling route. It appears to me that the wells could just go down and tap the reservoir in less than the horizontal distance than it takes to tap the pipe with the malady. Plus i am led to believe that tapping a rouge pipe is more difficult that many believe. that is why they are drilling two of them and in many cases they have drilled up to four. why not just get closer to the rouge well and drill a couple of holes, produce the oil, and take the source of the problem away. Guess i watched too much Star Wars Shit. the kill is at the source. GO TO THE SOURCE. Its on the bottom, not the top. the oil industry has always gone to the top because that is where the profit is. (someone will probably gig me on that last statement, but at this point i don't care. time to free style)
Gonna go to bed now. I hope the night stallions don't visit.


I stepped away for a couple of hours and come back to see this. The bend in the riser looks like it is about to fail. Might make the next task easier. I'm wondering how they will cut that thing off with ROVs.

I wouldn't be surprised if they move the ROV soon.

They will use a diamond wire saw just like the LMRP plan. They might have to excavate a large hole in the mud to get access first.

I have become absolutely obsessed with following Oil Drum threads for two reasons. First, these threads are what the Internet can do when serious people discuss a problem. The threads have had very little psycho trash talk. We have avoided Godwin's Law. ("As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.")
Second, we are following a scientific experiment in real time that will directly and dramatically effect a million or more lives. Very seldom in the lives of ordinary people like me will we have the opportunity to observe such an experiment as it happens.
Thank you one and all for your civil observations and comments on this experiment.

I'll second that, and I also want to thank Gail and Prof. Goose and all others responsible for creating this site and keeping it up and running.

Thank HO and Art for this recent content...and everyone else who works hard on this site day to day. We try.

Thanks for the kind words. :)

Heading Out, who has long driven me to despair with his apparent desire to mine and burn all of my grandchildren's and great great grandchildren's coal before they're even born, cofounded TOD with Prof. Goose, as I understand the history.

I believe Heading Out should be in line for a national media award for his reporting on this story.

Thank-you, Heading Out and thank-you all who keep the discussion focussed on the complex technical issues, and all you who have the guts to ask questions.

What I, a know nothing, take away from these reports and comments on TOD is that the immediate problem is not amenable to a quick solution and never was, but that a lot of concerned and intelligent people from government and industry are doing their very best and one of their gambits might work. We also should be mature enough to ready ourselves for a lot more pain, because the problem may not be solved for months.

Thank-you, Heading Out and thank-you all who keep the discussion focussed on the complex technical issues, and all you who have the guts to ask questions.


and thanks to the knowledgeable posters who are so patiently answering our questions. It is that tolerant attitude that gives us "the guts" to continue to ask.

I have a whole new appreciation of what has allowed me to pick up a nozzle, swipe a credit card, and fill up my tank.

I am posting to agree with you. I have become an avid follower over the last 20 days or so. My wife keeps yelling at me "come to bed, you have to go to work in the morning!" TOD has the perfect amount of expertise, imagination, and well thought out commentary. Not much irrational effluent to break up the flow of ideas. Rockman et. al. it is a pleasure. Got a bottle of good single malt for you if you ever find yourself out my way. I'm super easy to find.

OK, here is a really dumb question but I have to ask it because it's making me crazy: is that mud, oil, or what spewing out of those holes?

Sure looks like gas separation in the stream on the left. That leak used to be the smallest one. Now it looks like it is the largest.

It's an illusion. It is like the garden variety magic show. Keep you eyes on this and you will not see that the problem is industry is only interested in the end of the pipe that provides profit. go to the source. Its on the other end of the pipe. I will probably be banned from this site, but someone has got to tell me that it is a bad idea to relieve the pressure at the source. I ask you if the pressure were reduced 50 percent would one of the desperate measures be more likely to work. Enough. We are destroying the BOP with these antics and this thing may go on for months. Rube is hoping someone will read some of these absurd comments and begin to look at the other end of the pipe. THE SOURCE. Please humor me. How long would it take for a active producing well to reduce the pressure in this well if placed in the correct position?

Is there now a more pronounced jet toward the left, near what looks like the ROV pincer?

see my other comment: downpipe or manifold leak? If they manage to blow the feed system, they are really screwed.

it would appear so. I have been watching since about 10:45 EST, and that most certainly wasn't there then.

If anything good has come out of all this, then its gotta be my new knowledge of oil drilling. Man, gotta give you guys props for some good lessons. But when ever i look at the live feed, i get the feeling that this is getting worse. Now I'm not basing that on anything you guys have talked about...i'm basing it on a gut instinct.And I'm also basing it on the fact that BP is still controlling the flow of information. I'm sure what alot of you guys are speculating on is based on what BP is telling you. But from the very beginning they haven't laid out all the facts, and as smart as you guys are....maybe you are somewhat off base because you are looking at stats that BP are providing. Remember, BP faught to keep this live feed from getting out to the public.

What's with the mud coming from stage left? Is the downpipe leaking now?

BP had the idea with the small siphon pipe - up that scale to contain the BOP and let the well pump to tankers until the relief wells are done -

I think that is the most realistic option. Channel the flow to tankers on the surface until the relief well stops the flow.

That leak on the left has progressivly been getting worse, whatever it might be.

Seriously hope BP doesn't screw the pooch even worse on this attempt.

Seems like the ones on the right have diminished as the one on the left has increased. Probably something to do with the flow shifting around as the mud is being pumped in, and if any 'junk' has been introduced.

Top kill strategy to be adjusted to incorporate different clogging materials

Suttles said BP plans to keep using the top kill, which involves pumping heavy mud into the well, but will adjust the effort. In addition to mud, a combination of materials including dense rubber balls and other "bridging agents" will be shoved down the pipe to help with clogging the leak, Suttles said.

BP began pumping mud into the blowout preventer, an apparatus attached to the well, Wednesday about 1 p.m. The company stopped sometime Wednesday evening to analyze its data and restarted shortly thereafter, continuing until about 11 p.m., Suttles said. Pumping was suspended overnight. BP did not pump mud into the well for much of the day Thursday, but it resumed pumping mud at 6 p.m., Suttles said.

The company has also ordered 15,000 more barrels of mud to add to the 50,000 barrels initially onsite. Suttles said he did not know how much mud had been pumped into the well or how much had escaped.

If the effort succeeds, BP will follow the top kill with cement to seal the well. If it is not successful, BP will immediately try to contain the flow using a cap and suction tube, while it readies another attempt at stopping the flow.

Looks like it's still too early to tell if the top kill is going to work.


Shouldn't they know how much mud they have pumped and/or how much has escaped? Isn't that kind of an important to know?

VV -- yep...they know exactly how much mud they pumped down. And they know exactly how much mud they have in the well: zero. Easy to picture: the well is still flowing oil/NG out of it. If the oil/NG is flowing up then it's constantly emptying the csg. IOW, there's no mud in the csg. The only way they can pump mud down the csg is to completely seal the well head and stop the oil/NG from flowing out. Can you see the delema? To pump mud down you have to stop the oil/NG flow (shut the well in). To shut the well in you have to be able to close off the well head. Since the well head/BOP are damaged they can't close those valves. that's what they are hoping to do with the junk shot: close those leaks.

It seems as if there is a new plume at the very left of the feed, but I am having a hard time seeing where it is coming from. Also, it looks to me like there is a new crack on the left top/front (just to the right of the silver pipe).

Thanks to all of you and this site for such an educational and wonderfully apolitical forum. I've been reading for 2 days and decided to register. I work in physical therapy, so I doubt I'll have anything useful to contribute, but I appreciate the opportunity to learn.

Sarty I am not certain about the new crack but it is very possible that enough force could be created on the bent area of the pipe to cause a catastrophic failure of the pipe and thus fully open the riser pipe. I am not certain what the wall thickness is on this pipe and it is far too late tonight to do that calculation but there are severe material phenomenon that could occur to cause full failure of the pipe. Being an engineer I feel for the BP guys doing their best to stop this but seems like some of the simpler solutions were discounted out of hand.


If I've understood earlier discussions correctly, some of what might seem like simpler solutions have not yet been tried because of the risk of doing something that would increase the flow even more. They seem to be working through possible fixes from least risky on up.

It doesn't matter if the flow is at 450*f. If a liquid nitrogen injection slows the flow through the top of the Blowout Preventer it will allow enough time for the mud to push the hot oil back down the pipe. This process would happen within seconds so the 450* interface would quickly recede and no longer be a part of the formula. It would be tragic if the needed back-pressure from the Blowout Preventer was a simple matter of a liquid nitrogen injection that would plug the leak quickly.

may i naiively ask, why are all efforts being made to stop the leak. Why cannot they tap into/over the leak with a larger diameter pipe or a cone that will mechanically choke incrementally as pressure equalizes within the tap pipe ?
Obviously the geology and head pressure will not allow containment at the well head.
What are the challenges with tapping onto the leak and separating the product at the surface ?

The biggest problem seems to be hydrate formation. If the escaping gas mixes with any water at all at that pressure it forms crystals which (apparently) will clog up any reasonably-sized pipe to the surface.

The only solution is to somehow prevent any water from getting in, and/or flush the area with methanol to lower the melting point of the hydrate enough to prevent it from forming (like adding salt to snow and ice).

This was the basic principle of the "containment device" and "top hat". They didn't seem to work very well. The containment device clogged up almost immediately. The "RITT" siphon worked better. If the top kill fails, the "Lower Marine Riser Package" is a top-hat sorta device for the top of the BOP. It might work. But the riser needs to be opened up to provide a good sealing surface (remember, no water can be allowed to get in, and the water's at a heckuva lot of pressure down there) -- and they'd rather not open up the riser and allow more flow into the gulf if they can help it.

How exactly are you going to get liquid nitrogen down 5000' to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?

The effect of liquid nitrogen on normal steel is to turn it extremely brittle. Not good in this situation.

Liquid nitrogen is only cold when it evaporates. I don't know what the phase diagram for liquid nitrogen looks like, but such pressure would at least slow the evaporation, hence less cooling effect.

I was curious about the phase diagram, but couldn't find one. Instead, here is a little bit of info from the MSDS on N2.

BOILING POINT (1 atm): -320.4 ° F (-195.8 ° C)
SPECIFIC GRAVITY (Air = 1): 0.967
VAPOR PRESSURE (AT 20 ° C): Not applicable
GAS DENSITY (At 70 ° F (21.1 ° C) and 1 Atm): 0.072 lb/ft3 (1.153 kg/m3)
SOLUBILITY IN WATER (Vol/Vol at 32 ° F (0 ° C)): 0.023
EXPANSION RATIO: (For liquid to gas) at 70 ° F (21.1 ° C): 1 to 696.5

Found at:

Can anyone give me an honest assessment of that pipe we are looking at? To my untrained eye, it appears to be in bad shape. What happens if that pipe gives out? What will that do to the pressure inside that well?

There is a reason they call this a "one-shot" effort, unfortunately. Depends on how much of a choke the BOP/riser is on the flow already...and how much they turn it into swiss cheese before giving up.

What does that mean "turn it into swiss cheese"? Turn what into swiss cheese? I swear there is another 1 or 2 new leaks already on this pipe.

The next step if they give up on the Top Kill is to cut off the riser pipe (so they can land an LMRP) so they don't care if it gets damaged in the attempt.

Thats my concern actually watching this whole thing the mud and even junk are causing havoc to the guts of the BOP.
Also probably causing the flow to pulsate which is adding stress/strain.

If its not working and they keep going to long good chance they are setting themselves up for mechanical failure of something in the near future.

I'd argue that this was either going to work or not fairly early on probably why they went fairly quickly to the junk shot.
The longer it fails the more the pressure differentials and abrasive effect of the mud make it worse.

I'd argue that your getting a good bit of old fashioned hydraulic hammer effect going on.

So a intermittent stoppage with mud/junk might be pretty damaging.

What a world we live in! How to fix this?

One way would be to cut the riser from the BOP (W/ diamond wire saw, plasma torches or ecplosives) and retrieve the drill string. This certainly can be done in open water with the aid of ROV's.

Reconstruct the drill pipe and bit send down the hole. There would be no riser, obviously, since nobcdy could deal with the blowout on the surface with the wellhead at the bottom.

Add to the customary mud pump connections and push concrete and mud through the drill string and kill the well from the bottom.

The key is to retrieve the drill string that is in the hole. Relieving the shear rams would be necessary so the BOP would have to be opened up more than it is now to let the drill pipe pass. Consequently, there would be more oil flow than there is now. The risk is that the drill string is not retrieveable. This is probably not the case since sea water was run through it to cycle the original mud and the drill string was obviously free in the casing prior to the gas explosion taking place.

Since the gas leak is from an annular not from the dead bottom - and the explosive damage took place at the surface - opening the BOP and retrieving the drill pipe would be a reasonable risk to take.

Once a new drill string is in the well it is killed.

Interesting thought. Cut off the riser to produce semi-open flow out the top. Then open the BOP to see how far the unrestricted flow can throw the DP. You probably don't want any ROV's down there to catch it.

Pull the remaining drill pipe and reconnect it to a conventional drilling platform. Drive the 23k feet w/ heavy mud then concrete and kill the well at the bottom.

Use the existing well as the relief well and ignore the additional flow as the BOP would have to be opened enough to retrieve the existing drill string and head.

I remember 2 or 3 days ago...there was only 3 leaks jetting out from this location.

Erosion seems to be pretty strong at this spot. I_P and others have been noting that the first pic of the bent sea riser didn't show any leak. There has to be quite a restriction or break in the drill and/or the riser here and cracks from the bending force or gouging before the restriction are gradually tearing the metal away.

So the leak rate has to still be increasing IMvHO.

If anyone is so inclined I started a #theoildrum channel on freenode IRC. If you don't know what that means, sorry , but this isn't the place to explain it. Basically old school internet chat real time.

If any TOD regulars hop on, I can op you. Something like IRC makes more sense for real time comments on watching the stream.

was just on there, didn't see you. IRC would be great if we could get bunches of folks--but who here knows IRC? Are we old school nerd enough? :)

(google MIRC and download it; Hit the lightening bolt and fill in your info; select the server as "freenode" (it is in the server list), hit connect; when connected type /join #theoildrum)

Thank you so much for making the room--nice to have realtime discussion:)

So we are at 17 and climbing on IRC - the Prof has stopped by. I'm going to leave a machine logged into the channel, so it should be up for a while. But timezone enforces a bed time soon on this one - so have fun. If you don't know where to start, Google IRC and give it a try, it should be a very friendly channel for those new to IRC unlike some of the hard core tech channels out there.

So its great that BP's pumping mud and all but so what?
This is a flowing well and severely damaged BOP which is leaking like a sieve. So they pump buckets of mud down the hole but then what? They cant pump cement down there because its lighter then the mud and the oil will come back up. Is this right? It won't have time to set.
I don't get it...
Has this EVER worked on a flowing well or is this just one big experiment?

I vote for experiment or BP would have done this weeks ago.

They can vary the cement weight based upon well needs. In this case they can pump a heavy cement that will be quite a bit heavier than the mud they are pumping. I'm not a cement engineer, but I do know the cement is pretty high tech and the chemicals the put in it could let it set up pretty quick.

Not sure if it's been tried. Top killing the well is not guaranteed to work and has some very bad consequences if it doesn't work.

According to a previous poster who seemed quite adamant about it, topkill has never, ever worked on a flowing well in the whole history of the planet and that probably goes for the history of the universe as well.

Presumably he would be more inclined toward your "experiment" theory.

Thought I'd save him the keystrokes.

does it appear to anyone else that the front left hole ( the one yielding the brightest plume) is growing in size?

I think I'm seeing significantly less flow out of the middle two holes which were the biggest plumes before. Hopefully those holes got good and junked-up.

Edit: Most likely the middle holes have decreased in flow because the left hole has opened up wider.

Yes, Its getting much bigger.

been watching a while noticed that the camera stays mainly in one area though occasionally strays when it does move anyone notice the big black plume behind the "main camera area" seeems convenient where the video is being taken to not include that big black plume a majority of the time

Worst Case Scenario....

Let's say this top kill overstresses the BOP and the whole thing explodes like a coke bottle full of Mintos... The BOP becomes disconnected from the drill pipe because of the excessive pressure / fatigue / Damage caused by collapse….

At 13,000PSI and a 21" pipe…. How much crude would be leaking per day for the two months it would take to drill the relief wells???

Isn't that a fairly realistic possibility?

Actually although it won't be pretty you would probably get more of a mud volcano action going with all the goop if you will collapsing around the well.

The mud blow out in Indonesia might be a decent similar case.

Although nasty its closer to what you would get out of a natural oil seep.

And yes natural oil seeps do happen thats how Canterell was found.

I'd guess within say a year or so a gas cap would form and it would be more of a methane volcano with mud hydrate mix.
The oil will probably still be coming out.

Eventually of course microbial mats would form and the flow slow.

Perhaps cracks would develop creating a more mud like volcano.

Of course a unthinkable amount of oil would be released but in the big picture say over even 100 years or so life can and will take care of it.

Of course of this sort of span any number of relief wells can be drilled so eventually they will work.

I'm trying to think of some sort of natural process that could actually open up such a deep high pressure formation.
The best I can come up with is if a salt layer plumed upwards say with perhaps some underlying geologic/plate action.
So perhaps there are actually natural situations that could have been similar however it seems to me anything natural would have resulted in a myriad of small vents not the same as a drilled hole.

Mother nature can and does have the ability to handle a variety of oil seeps its just that ecology is based on seeps.

Maybe a meteor impact could cause a similar effect ?

So even left alone from a natural perspective oil is a temporary nuisance. Perhaps the real problem is it destroys the breeding grounds for a number of species so you have a local die off.

So no in the end its not and event that Mother nature can't take care of in time its just probably not our lifetimes if it goes on for too long.

The short of it is that if the BOP fails, or the Riser Pipe becomes disconnected the worst case scenario would be potentially 100M+ barrels in the GOM....

What does that look like???

take your garden hose turn it on half way get some version of the BOP stick hose in there now take my paint sprayer put dw mud in it. the dw mud is heavier than the water my paint sprayer has way more pressure than the hose approx 50x more now stop your hose from flowing not happening

One last question before I head off to eyes are burning from all this reading. Anyways, wouldn't the best thing to do at this point is put more effort into capturing the escaping oil and gas? Because if this "top kill" is doing more damage than good, shouldn't they just wait for those two relief wells to be drilled, and do their best in capturing the flow. Maybe a better kind of insertion tube?

What in God's name is that plume coming in from the left of the picture?? is that coming from a mud insertion pipe?

I believe it is just the mud injection pressure causing the left hole to open up wider and take most of the flow.

Could the same hoses / connections used for the top kill be used to suck the oil out of the BOP? They might need to use a pump at the sea floor (similar to the manifold connection, powered from the surface) where the pressure is high to achieve a negative pressure at the well head relative to the surroundings (approx 2500 psi).

Could the same hoses / connections used for the top kill be used to suck the oil out of the BOP? They might need to use a pump at the sea floor (similar to the manifold connection, powered from the surface) where the pressure is high to achieve a negative pressure at the well head relative to the surroundings (approx 2500 psi).

Could the same hoses / connections used for the top kill be used to suck the oil out of the BOP? They might need to use a pump at the sea floor (similar to the manifold connection, powered from the surface) where the pressure is high to achieve a negative pressure at the well head relative to the surroundings (approx 2500 psi).

I don't see why not.

Great since the mudd did not work now there going to use all kinds of stuff and jam into the pipe. Ya I think that will work. NOT, All these guys are going to do is to blow the whole pipe up. Man tell me this is not a Government operation.

You all must be getting sleepy there. Get some sleep I will keep an eye on the leak!

I am 14 time zones ahead of Central time!

Great site and koodoos to all the experienced hands. I went looking for a site that I could get some technical info on what happened - was happening and this site is the best one!

I can't add much to all the experts here because the last rig I worked on was a compound rig in the Wyoming overthrust belt! I doubt there are any of those old rigs around anymore.

Here is to hope that this will work.

Old Tokyo Roughneck

Perhaps capping this thing using an on-shore fabricated assembly?

- create a stable platform on the well pipe below the BOP. 2 piece clamshell bolted on to well casing to form a work platform for the ROVs to use;

- 2 piece BIG assembly to surround the BOP to just below the bent over riser with a flange for a later bolt on cover under the bent over riser and a flange on top. Bolt it in place on the work platform. Fill it with cement to seal off the well;

- 1 piece top cover with valve and cut out with flange for riser. Put in place with valve open to allow oil to escape during install, bolt on, leave valve open;

- cut off riser;

- 1 piece riser cap with flange, valve, cement port and flange to matching BOP flanges to fit over cut off riser. Open valve to allow flow from cut off riser to escape, Put in place, bolt on, close valve.

- close top cover valve, done.

4 pieces + 2 platform pieces, all assembled on shore. Heavy pieces rest on platform for installation.

Cement fill will prevent assembly below riser from needing to withstand well pressure. Only top cap will see well pressure.

Only top cap flange and riser flange need to be sealed against leaks at well pressure.

If flanges leak, open riser valve, crack open top valve, pump cement in riser cement port.

One comment your getting into something I thought about a long time ago.

My example was building bridges early in the 18th century the time it took to build a bridge leaped forward dramatically as you moved to steel and concrete later in time the rate at which you could build a bridge once you included all fabrication steps rapidly reached a constant. The ability to design engineer and create the solution become the limiting factor along with basic construction issues.

At some point in time perhaps by the 1950's or so the total allocated time approached a constant. Thats the problem with engineering solutions given enough time we probably could develop some sort of solution problem s we don't have the time.
The number of engineering solutions that can be solved before a relief well works is really limited.

Many stand the chance of making the problem worse not better.

How long does it take to engineer a big assembly around the BOP for example I'd say six months at best more like a year.
Its not that we can't do it its just that I don't see anything thats can actually solve the problem faster than relief wells which will work.


I tried to keep the engineering simple. Only 4 components, not much critical machining, pressure relieved on biggest structure with concrete fill, no difficult shapes.

A lot of engineering has gone in to the top kill. I doubt that this suggestion comes close to matching the degree of engineering difficulty or the materials and support infrastructure required.

It can also be assembled without having to encounter or contain well pressures.

The riser would be cut after the kink and the surrounding structure would keep the riser from straightening out and really opening up the flow rate.

In addition the whole assembly is done on shore so that the work could proceed without interfering with anything else.

Thought of the same idea. Due to cement, would not need to be constructed from heavy steel precisely engineered, and could include rebar cage inside to reinforce cement. Has advantage of minimizing time between riser cutoff and containment. Just need to keep oil coming out the top until all cement has filled gaps in steel, set and hardened, and then start to control the flow.

Ball sealers are often used in well completions. In fact a large floating ball is used in many cement shoes as a check valve when cementing a well. Obviously they can now monitor the well head pressure and have a rough idea the stabilized pressure they have to buck coming from the well.

I would pump a couple dozen small diameter balls and then watch the pressure. A small hole can flow alot of oil at high pressure. The balls will either go through the BOP or they would see a bump in the pressure. Pump another couple dozen balls of larger diameter.

Pumping balls will eventually start slowing the leak and increasing the back pressure. The problem with pumping mud against the formation is that there is a point you will frac the formation possibly cutting loose more sand. At this point you are done and will have a well flowing wide open as the sand cuts through the BOP.

Some of the well formation sand must be cutting the BOP as the rates have increased over time.

Is the only reason the "Top Hat" failed as because of the hydrate formation? If so how much heat would be required to prevent their formation and how might that heat be delivered?

Resistive heating element(s) powered off the ROV(s)?

Microwaves heating either the surrounding water or the hydrates directly?

(getting out there) Nuclear fuel sources as are used to heat deep space spacecraft?

I am becoming doubtful this top kill and junk shot will work. I think the only realistic solution has to be find a way to channel the flow to the surface and load it onto tankers until the relief well stops the flow.

I agree this is the best option. Now BP should also start paying all those LA people. LA people our a tuff bunch start paying them for helping the clean up. BP has messed up there way of life, now its time for BP to make it right. And do it now, cut the red tape and start writing checks and do it now.

Note: the following is speculation. I am aware of no evidence to suggest or support the possibilities I'm musing about in this comment.

I can't help wondering whether it should be assumed that the occurrence of an accident, during a celebration of the platform's no-accident history, was an entirely coincidental event.

It seems odd that none of the executives who were supposedly partying there at the time of the explosion has said a word about what happened.

Maybe there were too many drunken people on that platform. Maybe the party people don't want to say anything because they know that the visitors' behavior somehow contributed to the accident.

I think something drastic just happened, I think it just blew.

The movement of the ROV disturbed the plumes - it looked worse than it was. It is now doing some kind of sampling, sticking what looks like a bottle brush into the plumes.

Yeah, and that probe got pretty well coated with orangish. Maybe it was some kind of simple electrostatic sensor. I hope it returns a favorable value.

Oh well, I'll see you guys later, about 10K bbl of mud from now.

Why do you think that. But sooner or later it will happen if they keep messing with this.

Plan A has failed (shut off rig before it blows up)
Plan B has failed (remote trigger BOP - Blow out Preventor)
Plan C has failed (trigger BOP with ROV - Remove operated Vehicle)
Plan D has failed (Top Hat)
Plan E has failed (garden hose to surface ship)
Plan F has failed (Top KIll)

Now they are trying Plan G "Junk Shot".

I'm starting to think they are just playing with us.

Is it true that the relief well could take 6 months?

3 months for the first relief well if there are no problems is about right - so another 6 weeks or so.

I've heard that they are ready to start the tangent on one of the relief wells. Three months if your lucky and can collide the well and mill the casing.

But this is all third party, so it could be wrong.

What are they gonna do with all that junk?

Put it in the trunk?

Let's hope they are able to stuff it down into that trunk. Right now, doesn't look like it.

Can someone turn this into a cartoon?

Here's a try, sorry it's a bit rushed!

I like the concept of having 2 plan A's and no plan B.

Verry interesting: the analogy with 30 years ago:
the giant 1979 Ixtoc oil spill

Anyone know where I can see a 3-D scale model of the blow-out preventer, manifold and riser kind of like this ?

Some of what I've learned from others on this site:

1) The BOP and riser are anchored to the earth via steel pipe that is inserted thousands of feet into the well hole. Any force resisting the flow of oil and gas must be countered by this anchor. Whether the leak is stopped in the riser or BOP, the strain would be transmitted into the wall of the well hole.

2) Oil and gas are coming out under great pressure, far more than most of us have experienced (think multiple times higher than a scuba or CO2 tank).

3) If the oil and gas could be stopped instantly, the force of the moving oil and gas would spike to extremely high levels and could potentially blow open the riser, blowout the BOP, or even fracture the rock around the well hole, thereby destroying the anchor into the earth (think a very bad water hammer in a pipe). Therefore, the flow or oil and gas must be slowed gradually.

4) The only way to slow the flow at the top of the well is to resist it, either with one or more solid objects (junk, balls, valves, etc.) and/or with opposing pressure of either a liquid or gas (gas compresses, so it won't work, so liquid it is). The liquid of choice here is drilling mud.

5) The challenge of using a liquid is that it will flow to lower pressure outlets first. Since the ocean water is at lower pressure than the oil flowing out of the well, any liquid pumped against the flowing oil will tend to flow out into the ocean through the holes in the riser rather than into the well. It's like holding two garden hoses against each other so that the force of one balances the force of the other, the problem being that the water will tend to squirt out into the air through the gap between the hoses. In theory, if the pressure and flow were high enough and the outlets to the ocean are small enough, the leaks into the ocean would be too small to matter and mud pressure could be gradually increased to a point where the oil and gas would stop flowing.

6) One problem with using a moving liquid is that the pressure of any liquid here is so high that it erodes steel as it blasts past the steel. This is likely why the holes in the riser are getting worse; the mud and oil are literally cutting away the steel in the riser pipe. The question becomes, is the pressure in the drilling mud high enough to force back the oil while it also jets out through the holes in the riser given the size of the holes? Also, as mud pressure increases, will the mud and oil cut the holes in the riser faster than pressure can be increased? Time is a critical factor because the holes will grow in size. It appears that using a liquid back pressure alone has not worked and may be accelerating the rate of erosion of the holes in the riser.

7) Therefore, BP is attempting to use small solid objects (junk, balls, whatever) inserted into the flow to in effect make the holes in the riser and/or passages through the BOP smaller. However, these solid objects are just as prone if not more prone to erosion by high pressure liquids as steel pipe. The challenge here is that the smaller the spaces come between the junk, the faster the mud and oil will jet through them and the greater the power of the mud and oil to cut through the junk. In theory, if the pathways through which oil is passing gradually and uniformly fill with junk and then the gaps between the junk are gradually and uniformly filled with mud, then the flow will gradually stop. The operative work here is “uniformly.” In practice, the junk may not be tough enough to keep from being eroded away by the mud and oil. Further, the blockages created by the junk and mud may not be uniform enough to prevent the oil and mud from forming a very high pressure flow through one or more pathways through the junk and mud in which the flows have sufficient force to cut through almost anything that might block such paths. High pressure liquids have a way of flowing through gaps and then making them bigger.

8) If many small solid objects (junk and mud) injected into the flow do not work to keep pressure from leaking into the ocean, then it is possible to stop the flow with fixed objects, such as valves, or by crimping the leaking riser pipe.

9) It is likely that crimping the riser is not possible because equipment does not exist to apply sufficient force at this depth of water, and even if it did exist, it is not clear that the damaged riser could withstand the force of the oil and gas. Any crimping action would need to be done gradually so as not to create a pressure spike. Further, if the crimp in the riser was not very tight, the oil and gas would continue to jet through the crimp and gradually make any gaps bigger over time. The BOP is essentially a big crimper designed to crush the pipe that comes out of the well. BP believes that it partially crimped the pipe through the BOP. Some have theorized that the jetting oil has eroded paths around the BOP's hydraulic rams.

10) So, the last remaining method of stopping the flow at the outfall with a physical object is to install a valve or valves to the top of the BOP. The valves would need to be open when a fitting is attached to the top of the BOP because otherwise the pressure would be too great to position and fasten something to the top of the BOP. Also, putting a closed cap on the top of the BOP risks creating a pressure spike. Any such effort would require removing the damaged riser first. If the existing crimp in the riser is slowing flows, this would also mean that oil would flow faster between the time that the riser was removed and a valve or valves were attached to the top of the BOP and closed. Again, such a valve system could not be shut off quickly without risking rupturing the well hole and steel pipe on which the BOP is anchored. So BP would need to attach a valve in an open position and then slowly close it. In theory the valve could be just above the BOP or it could be at the surface end of a pipe that is attached to the top of the BOP. The drill ship is supposed to have valves that could gradually slow the flow, but the pressure would be enormous and the operation dangerous for the crew (think a blowout on the drill ship, but an expected one). I am unsure whether a valve exists that could be installed at the top of the BOP, although some have suggested stacking a second BOP on top of the first and using it as a valve.

11) It is also possible to capture oil and gas in a dome of some sort (as was attempted), but the dome must be heavy enough or otherwise anchored firmly enough to not float away due to being filled with gas and gas hydrates (as happened with the first dome), and the pipe coming out of the dome must be big enough to accommodate a turbulent flow or oil and the flow of gas (that expands something like 150 times in volume by the time it reaches the surface), as well as any sea water that is sucked in along with the oil and gas. Think about pouring a volume of liquid that could flow smoothly through the narrow end of a funnel if it were poured exactly into the middle of the funnel. In reality, the liquid flow would not be so exact but instead would hit the wider part of the funnel, swirl around, and back up and ultimately overflow the funnel because turbulence would ensure that the flow in would exceed the flow out. Now trying do the same thing with shaken up soda - the bubbles would make the flow even more turbulent. A dome is essentially a funnel with the narrow end up. It’s outlet would need to be much larger than the pipe that is discharging oil and gas.

12) It is also possible to stick a pipe into the flow and collect some of it, but as with the dome, turbulence would limit flows into such a pipe unless it has a diameter that is much larger than the diameter of the leaking pipe. BP inserted such a tube into the end of the riser and captured some oil, but it is not possible to force a turbulent mix of oil and water into a pipe that is about the same size or smaller than the pipe from which the oil is flowing. In theory, one could add suction to a smaller pipe making it the hose end of the world's biggest shopvac, but it is not clear that sufficient suction could be generated and that a pipe large enough in diameter exists to collect the oil/gas/water mix.

13) BP has attempted the dome and flowing mud tactic, and is now attempting to block the flow with small physical objects in combination with mud, but the leaks in the riser seem to be getting bigger. BP has also attempted to capture some of the oil with a smaller pipe, but it could only collect a small proportion of the total flows. BP might have chosen these efforts because they were easier and/or less risky. The problem is that time is a critical factor. The longer BP waits, the bigger the holes get, the faster the oil spills, and the worse the spill gets. BP may have no choice but to remove the riser and attach some sort of fitting to the top of the BOP. Perhaps it should have bitten the bullet and done this immediately. Whatever technique it uses, it should minimize the time between when the riser is off and the fitting is attached.

14) It is also possible to stop the flow underground through kill wells, but this will take time because a kill well needs to intersect the blow out well hole near the oil reservoir thousands of feet under the surface of the ocean.

My idea is to attach a Y valve at the top of the BOP, one side of which would empty into the sea and the other attached to a riser that goes up to the drill ship. Once the Y valve was attached, the flow could be gradually directed to the drill ship, which would release some of the pressure by separating and flaring the gas and collecting the oil. As the drill ship crew got a handle on the flows, the Y valve could increasingly divert flows to the surface, to a point where hopefully the drill ship could collect the entire flow and then gradually stop the flow. Yes, oil would flow into the ocean for a while, but that's what's happening anyway. The only other choice would seem to be to send the entire flow to the drill ship all at once, which would risk a second Deepwater Horizon type explosion.

Cheers HT, that seems pretty comprehensive. Hope you get some feedback from experts on your Y valve concept.

As a complete neophyte to the topic of oil drilling - deepwater, continental shelf, mainland, or otherwise, I just have to throw my 2 cents in here to first give a tremendous thank you to this web/blog site! Over the past several weeks, I've dropped by to learn more from the apparent professionals in the industry about oil drilling than I ever thought I'd care to know! It has been a truly refreshing and educational experience, particularly because most of the analysis, speculation and conjecture of the problem at hand (the Deepwater Horizon/Maconda Reserve Blowout) seemed largely untarnished by the Lamestream Media "dumb-it-down" narrative for the average TV viewer. I have referred this blogsite to many friends, and hope that your continued coverage on this ongoing incident remains as technically and professionally pure as it has to date. This site has enabled me (and undoubtedly thousands of other people) to educate myself as to the daunting challenges facing the oil industry, as well as the marvelous technological advances that have taken place to meet the demands that the industry faces. Among them, and largely unacknowledged, is the veritable fleet of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) that are keeping BP - and the rest of the world - in touch in a realtime sense - with what's going on so deep below the surface of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As I've been watching over the past hour or so, the cameras have panned and zoomed to show different views of the various "plumes" of effluent escaping the BOP and riser. From time to time, I noticed an ROV weaving in and out of the screen, holding some sort of sensor. From time to time, the ROV advances from one venting source to another, apparently "sniffing" at the effluent. What readings were being taken, I have no idea. But what did impress me, is that these tireless workers were diligently doing their jobs, even as many of us are preparing for fitful sleep, worrying about what's happening in the Gulf. At the other end of the tether, of course, is a human being, who is being paid to operate these ROVs. To them, I say, "Thank You!" For whatever demonization (in the political sense) is occurring among various outlets, these people - and their ROVs - continue to labor to bring this incident to a closure. I pray for the best possible and quickest end to the oil leak, and recognize the critical role that robotics in general, and these ROVs and their operators in particular, are playing in helping to resolve this horrible event.

"apparent professionals"?
Some of us are the real professionals.


Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned, [X2]
Thinkin' about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago... Going to Chicago...
Sorry but I can't take you...
Going down... going down now... going down....

Am I right in thinking there's just the one video feed available?
the one at the top of this thread?
Or are there others you guys are watching?

Someone posted these two links in a previous thread. They said the 2nd link varies sometimes, but since I've been checking in the past few hours it's just been the same single feed.

I'd like to thank the great posters on this site. Thanks. On down the road, this country has to have a conversation about how we are going to use our resources. I just got a new car. Really, I did. Just a 3 series BMW, but you know, I could be moving up. But I have a bike as well. 20 minutes pedal power to work. That can't be true for most folks...

"this country has to have a conversation about how we are going to use our resources. "

Hi, bbering.

That discussion has been happening here for over 5 years. Visit the many previous post on all aspects of where we've been, where we are and where we're going. Or just stick around.

This oil debacle has dominated the conversation here for too long. I long for it to be over.

"this country has to have a conversation about how we are going to use our resources."

This oil debacle has dominated the conversation here for too long.

The two conversations are now inextricably related. As in 'what does the bottleneck look like to you?'. There are a lot of new folks showing up here with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Not all of whom are unfamiliar with these conversations but simply not familiar with TOD. I pray this process is also being replicated elsewhere.

A question. Last night the BP spokesperson said that they had stopped pumping mud 16 hours ago. This was commented on in the previous thread. Question is how long would it have taken for the mud to be expelled and oil and gas to resume flowing? I'm guessing not very long?

What I don't understand is if the oil and gas did resume flowing within 16 hours is why the colour of the plumes didn't change in the meant time...Surely it should mean a return to the previous colour of plumes, ie much darker oil colour, But as far as I can see it didn't happen.

What's the (probably simple!) explanation for this?

Recording failure? This is BP's camera, so no surprises there I guess.

Yeah, now saying NOT RECORDING. What's up with that?

And if it's not recording, what is playing on the video now? Old footage? Probably means it is time to get some sleep, now that the live feed seems to have thrilling as it has been, if this is just going to be reruns of old movies, we already know how they end.

Who knows, maybe there is something they don't want us to see? Or alternatively, maybe the camera just broke like everything else so far. All I know is I am looking forward to the sequel. Top Gun 2: Junkyard Wars? Something about that just doesn't sound quite right...

True that! Until tomorrow. Oh wait, it is tomorrow. :)

I want to opt out from all of tis. Seriously, do we have to wait two months? Or more? I want to be paid for every pelican. Keep your hands out of my pockets...

OK, this is from me, a guy who knows, basically, nothing. But, I was "thinking" what about electromagnets placed on either side of those leaks? How they would generate the electricity to the coils, let alone insulate them, is beyond me, but, imagine if you could get a field generated around those leaks so that metal objects could be pumped down there and then be held in place by a sufficient charge, then decreasing the charge as concrete was poured in? Sort of like a rebar effort underneath the sea.

Of course, there are so many variables that are involved with powering up a charge - what it would do to the pipe itself, how would you get the wires in place, what sort of ionizing effect would such a charge have on the seawater, am I just full of crap? Ah well, it may all be moot by now.

I have no idea if it would work, but it sounds like a really f cool idea to me. Does it really matter at this point anyway? Most like, we know what's happened. Cut the riser? Good luck. Relief wells, Helllooo!!?

It is amazing the space occupied by the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I am very sorry for that disaster and for the consequences in the marine and coastal life.

But I have seen many comments out of focus. A tendency in the readers to act, suggest and even propose solutions as emergency plumbers or mechanical fitters.

Many others, angrily asking to attack BP (probably for being named British) and to boycott them and so fforth.

Unfortunately very few comments, realizing that today we are extracting close to 7 million barrels a day from, deepwater offshore platforms (>500 m of water bed), out of the 85 millions we consume daily.

Very few realizing how the Gulf of Mexico is totally perforated
By hundreds of operating platforms, just in the Gulf of Mexico.

Very few asking themselves (not only to BP or to the US government) that if we do not want oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico or wherever, the best thing we could do is not to drill and consequently, to renounce or give up to about 10 percent of our present world oil consumption (some countries with a lot of per capita consumption much more than others with a minimum consumption, if we want to be serious)

Very few asking themselves if this religious faith in technology is not even worst than the faith in a sect, believing that technology will fix everything. We are now waking up to reality: technology is a fiasco, if maintenance is not permanently there. And maintenance is also depending on a good energy surplus and financial availability, that has always been given for granted. Even with the most updated and state of the art technology, we have also our big, unavoidable failures, in oil exploration (Exxon Valdez and now this) and exploitation, in nuclear power (Three Mile Island), in nuclear weapons (Palomares, Spain). The more unavoidable, the more we grow and the more installations we set up.

This is a question to citizens: How many of the readers will be willing to give up 10 percent of their oil consumption, to avoid these problems? How many will be willing to voluntarily give up 50 percent or 70 percent of their oil present wasteful consumption, if they really want the emissions to be kept at present levels? How many will be willing to change the rules of the game and nationalize multinationals, whose financial flows remain out of citizens control? How many will be willing to promote the close down of the stock exchanges, born to change the monetary value of the physical goods up to a 20 percent in one day, without the corresponding physical support and without limits to the Corporations and financial tycoons insatiable greed for cumulating paper wealth?

Do you really thing that the problem is just really fixing a broken pipe with more technology, or rather believe that this is an inherent problem to the system?

During WWII when told we might end up living under Hitler, the American Public accepted rationing of meat, sugar and gasoline and offered up their young sons to die in Europe. When told that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction they again offered up their sons and daughters to die in war. If the government came clean about the energy situation it is possible that the American Public was told the truth about the energy situation perhaps they would be willing to drive less and heat and cool their houses less. How can you know what they would do if told the truth if the truth is not told by those in power. BTW I am sure many on TOD do use considerably less oil than the general public. I am quite sure I probably use 50% less oil than most middle class people. I have the monetary resources to use more. My husband and I just choose to use less.

"If the government came clean about the energy situation it is possible that the American Public was told the truth about the energy situation perhaps they would be willing to drive less and heat and cool their houses less. How can you know what they would do if told the truth"

ummm. I have two words that should hit you over the head like a 2x4... Jimmy Carter.

Followed by "Morning in America!" and the removal of the White House solar panels.

And then 30 years of profligate stupidity. Who needs science when you've got an oversupply of morons?

Former President Carter got the timing wrong which was a politically fatal mistake.

"But I have seen many comments out of focus.(#1 WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR FOCUS?) A tendency in the readers to act, suggest and even propose solutions as emergency plumbers (#2 THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!) or mechanical fitters."

First time posting here, some science background, nothing related to oil, gas, geology, whatever. 90% of I know about oil drilling, spills etc came from reading TOD in the past few weeks, so a big THANK YOU to your tireless contributions.

Very few asking themselves (not only to BP or to the US government) that if we do not want oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico or wherever, the best thing we could do is not to drill and consequently, to renounce or give up to about 10 percent of our present world oil consumption

Inevitably, when such a tragic and catastrophic event happens, many will want to question (and thereby, intentionally or not, ascribe some portion of blame to) the 'root cause', ie our insatiable desire for cheap oil. One commentator (forgot where) when interviewed and asked whether DW drilling is too dangerous, said bluntly "Do you want to drive? I rest my case." Others refer to Americans' love for cheap oil at the pump, and high oil prices causing recessions and job losses etc.

The subtext being that if we didn't have such demand for cheap oil, then we could have avoided such disasters.

There is IMHO a fallacy AND a danger underlying that line of argument. While I agree that we need long term sustainable solutions (again thanks TOD for some great discussions on that aspect!!), I'd like to point out that the GOM has been 'perforated' as Pedro said in many places WITHOUT the catastrophic consequences of this event, at least for the last 30 years.

From what I can gather with my limited (and therefore likely to be incorrect) knowledge, some or all of the following may have contributed to this disaster:

  1. a problematic formation, of which BP had plenty of warning, over weeks
  2. possibly a less-than robust design, in choice of casings, cementing strategy etc, given the formation history
  3. a damaged (leaky?) annular from which chunks of rubber had been chipped out, weeks before (from 60 Minutes interview),
  4. positive pressure testing was initiated <12 hours after the cement job, not giving the cement enough time to set and so possibly weakening it
  5. the decision to displace the mud with seawater may not have been sound, as evidence by disagreement with the Transocean crew
  6. they did not displace fluid with seawater to above the BOP
  7. both #3 and #6 may have contributed to erroneous readings with the negative pressure test
  8. despite discrepancies in readings from the drill pipe (1400 psi) and kill line (0psi), they made the assumption that the negative pressure test was 'successful'.
  9. they didn't do a CBL
  10. accurate mudlogging may have been compromised because mudloggers were not informed when mud was offloaded to another boat, AND when such offloading ws stopped (see document above)
  11. the rig's emergency disconnect didn't work
  12. the BOP failed to shut the well completely
  13. the BOP had been modified but the drawings were not updated, resulting in time wasted in the first week trying to activate it

It seems to my very uninformed eye that there are plenty of signs that BP made some fatal errors that are so fundamental as to belong to the '101' level (especially failing to recognize the significance of the 1400psi discrepancy), AND there are enough experts within the industry (Transocean and Schlumberger come to mind) who would disagree with their approach.

So the fallacy is that the accident was somehow a natural and/or inevitable consequence of our need for oil, our need to drill deeper, and hence the need for DW drilling. The danger lies in letting BP off the hook, by changing the conversation.

Sure we really really need to get serious about kicking our dependence on oil, but that in itself is not germane to the important issues in this disaster. BP had a choice: to drill safely, or to cut corners. It would seem that they chose profit over safety.

I think we need to be careful not to become part of their PR machinery. Nothing would suit BP more than to change the conversation, to spread the 'guilt' to all consumers, such that anybody who uses oil (which is everyone) will then shut up since they are part of the problem. Nothing is further from the truth. American consumers did NOT contribute to this accident (although they may contribute indirectly and theoretically to ANY risk with ANY drilling, until the day we all quit using oil).

Finally, a word about the dire warnings about over-regulation driving up oil prices etc. If BP had not cut corners, the increase in costs do not necessarily have to pass to consumers. The company can decide to take lower profits. Their staff can take lower bonuses, and they'd still be miles richer than the fisherman in LA or the commuter in Maine.

As I understand the Top Kill operation, the goal is to build up enough pressure and volume in the BOP to push the oil column down the well, but the complication seems to be that there's too much pressure escaping from the riser.

Recall that the Top Hat attempt was complicated by the methane gas mixing with seawater and forming hydrate crystals that clogged the pipe.

I'm wondering if the hydrate formation could be used to advantage inside the BOP by flooding it with seawater? Could this allow enough hydrate formation to restrict the flow just enough for the mud pumping to work?

Pedro, as far as I can make out, the problem with this whole scenario is not just down to the individual's use of oil. Indeed, if all of the world's civilians chose to reduce their consumption of oil and oil-related products, it would still not change the most important facet of the equation, which is that the military, of every country, rely almost exclusively on oil for the maintenance and exploitation of their armed forces. This is why the struggle for energy will never cease.

Dr. Hook, I was not talking about individual use of oil in particular, or energy in general, but rather about a social change of paradigm. It will be either collective (and truly global), or it will be insufficient.

If you are right and you probably and sadly you are, then do not blame BP for their greedy behavior; don’t blame technicians and experts for lack of expertise and lousy treatment of the problem; don’t even blame the military, which are part of a society that tries to defend consumerism and a wasteful way of living as a sacred cow.

It is a circular argument: if we want to keep control of the vast exploitation of energy resources worldwide, we need seven world Fleets and more than one hundred military basis abroad. And if we want to have this Army, sure we need a lot of oil for them, to help us to continue consuming more and more oil and controlling the deposits, the transportation routes and the consumerist way of living.

No more excuses. Them is us.

"I'm wondering if the hydrate formation could be used to advantage inside the BOP by flooding it with seawater?"

If I read this phase diagram correctly,
hydrate won't form at the temperatures and pressures present in the well near the surface.

Can't topkill a flowing well.

Cut the riser off. Remove the drill string. Close the BOP rams and pump the hole full of cement.

Does anyone else see what appears to be methane-hydrates coming from the right-center leak? If so, that is bad news. I think we are a dollar short and a day late here. From what I'm seeing over time, it looks to me like TOP KILL/JUNK SHOT are a bust.

The BBC R4 'Today' news programme had an interview with Dr. Ian MacDonald of Florida State this morning. It's now on the BBC wesite as a pod. He is neither happy nor optimistic, let's put it at that. I'm not sure if extra-UK readers will be able to access it, but the link is here:

I'm curious, does anyone know if this a binary, "all or nothing" situation? I mean, does pumping in mud and "junk" either completely halt the oil flow or completely fail? Or, is it possible that this will PARTIALLY succeed in blocking the flow of oil, reducing the flow by a significant percentage but not stopping it completely? It seems to me that with all that mud and "junk" in there, the oil should flow more slowly. What am I missing?

is even better is "all or worse" if they are succesfull it will stop if they not probably the leackeage rate will be larger as is clear that the pipe has more holes as before

Yes it is a binary opperation. We cannot keep pumping mud for months until
the relief well is completed, There is not enough mud and the flow through the
holes are making them bigger. The opinion of the professioals is that
it is not possible to cement the well untill the flow up the well stops
We either stop the flow completely and soon to allow cementing or we fail

Is an all or nothing situation and an now or never situation. The idea of a "top kill" is to create a plug in the well. This plug is a soft, liquid plug and stops the flow of oil due to its weight. If they achieve a sufficient amount of mud into the well, the weight of that column, thousands of feet of mud manages to counteract the pressure of the reservoir. At that time, once the well is "killed" you can stop pumping mud: the weight of the vertical column of mud in the well prevents oil output.

If too little mud go in the well, if the column is not high enough, the moment you stop pumping mud, well pressure will expel the mud and the spill will continue.

The time that you have to kill the well is limited because the cracks are growing due to erosion. Big cracks force you to pump a greater flow to achieve a certain pressure. From a certain point, the necessary flow becomes impossible to achieve.

Reuters, REAKING NEWS: Incident commander says oil and gas flow from well stopped, unclear if sustainable.

The question is, does it remain stopped when they cease pumping the mud? If they turn off the pumps but there is still flow from the leaks we are seeing, the answer is no.

If correct I guess, if nothing else, Snakehead's news provides a whole new perspective on the concept of "Live"

The breaking news banner is gone. Damn.

Here's hoping this isn't simply more all dog-and-pony show.

Gulf oil flow halted, unclear if can be sustained-Allen
Fri May 28, 2010 7:25am EDT

May 28 (Reuters) - The flow of oil and gas from the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico has been stopped by pumping mud into it, however the challenge will be whether that can be sustained, the U.S. incident commander Admiral Thad Allen said on Friday.

Allen, on ABC's "Good Morning America," said the next 12 to 18 hours will be "very critical" in the effort to stop the gusher which has sent thousands of barrels of oil into the fragile ecosystem there.
BP Plc (BP.L) Chief Executive Tony Hayward said on the same program that the effort to plug the well was "going pretty well according to plan" and that they have also been pumping rubber and other material into the well, known as the "junk shot."

Hayward said they planned to begin pumping more mud into the well again later today. (Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Vicki Allen)

That's exactly what he said yesterday morning.

We all cross our fingers anxiously awaiting results... that wont be revealed until the stock market closes.

Could someone explain what exactly is gushing out of those openings? Is it oil, mud, gas a combination of all three? Thanks.

Most likely a combination. Defintely hard to tell from the video, as yesterday everyone was kind of convinced it was all drilling mud, when it turned out later they had stopped pumping hours ago.

Those are not mutually exclusive. If you stop pumping and the mud keeps coming out of the riser, that only means that there was a lot of mud in the well that is now being pushed back out. The color of the discharge is a good clue. Light tan is mud. Black is oil and lots of bubbles means gas. Also, the direction of the discharge is a clue. Up means oil and gas, tumbling over and falling means mud.

Unless BP tells us exactly when the mud pumps are on or off, there is no way to actually tell what materials are in the plumes.

The Incident Commander claims they stopped hydrocarbons. The CEO said the mud pumping would resume later today, which implies it is stopped now. Look at the live feed. Does it look like the well is static?

paraphrasing CEO:

junk shot operation ran from middle afternoon, finished early hours of this morning; will continue pumping mud later today

The message is muddled. The mud apparently went into the message.

What does it matter? People are going to hear what they want to hear and speculate.

I thnink they are backing off the pumps definitelly less flow for now
hope to hold

There does appear to be a reduction in flow. If the Rueters story is true, then I agree they will now be sloooooowly backing off on the mud pump stroke rate. There will be tense moments immediately after they go to 0 spm.

up again

To cite an old Russian [Soviet?] joke:

Doctor, Doctor. I have eye-ear disease. What I hear from BP and what I see on the video don't agree. There must be something wrong with me. I must be sick.

Muddier mud and more chaos from CNBC, same article, separated by a paragraph: "BP won't know until Sunday if pumping heavy mud into a blown-out well on the seafloor is successful in stopping the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, its chief executive said." "The Obama administration's point man on the disaster, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said BP's work Friday will tell if a cap can hold."

These guys are on the same show contradicting each other but the USG is fully in control, as we were assured yesterday. Smoke, mirrors, mud.

Just dropping this here:

BP says they do not show the leak from the end of the riser anymore because there is nothing to see - ROV got mud in the eye. I guess even with a clear lense you wouldn't see more than a big mud cloud.

Some of the mud being pumped into the blow out preventer traveled up the riser, expanding the plume of leaking oil, and this was what obstructed the camera, Pack said. He said he was unaware if it would be possible to solve the problem and restore images of the leaking riser.

Hmmmmm. Even if true, this will be fuel for the conspiracy theorists.

I don't know, makes perfectly sense to me. There must be a lot more mud gushing out from the riser than there is escaping through the cracks.

my first comments here.
It is my opinion BP knew there is no chance for a top kill or a junk shot to work but what choice do they have except to put on the theatre? How does it look if they just say "There's nothing we can do now except wait for the relief well." The dynamics of pumping enough mud into that flow with three inch pipes doesn't add up. I am certain the mud flowed out as fast as they pumped it in.
As for being smart, these guys are very smart. They have used every opportunity to present their theater and spin in their own best light. Notice that the top kill procedure has taken the camera off the sickening sight of the broken end of the riser where the biggest flow is happening.

I believe you are correct. And, at the moment anyway, the video seems to have halted. This is unspeakably tragic situation & made murkier by what appears to be BP's deliberate efforts to not explain in any clear way what is happening.

I don't see how it's possible that all the mud is going out the riser. If that were the case, the 16-hour pause in pumping would have resulted in oil, not mud, coming out of the riser. But the color of the discharge did not darken.

Speculation elsewhere in these threads suggests that BP has twice let the mud come back out, each time using a heavier mud on the next try.

I'm not sure what to make of the junk shot this morning. Are they having pressure problems or is it simply that they are slowly and carefully trying to increase the pressure?

Good commentary (altho it will probably tick a few memebers here off).

Also - getting to be time for a new thread? This one is taking a loooonnngg time to load.

Generally good but BP has had a history of safety violations ... trying to say they are the next Petrobas seems like a stretch... in fact it is the string of safety violations that are the issue in weighing a suspension.


But nobody else has the $$ to hand, in addition to the DW experience (other than XOM) for trying to stop the well and clean the mess up.

I watched former Senator from Louisiana turned oil lobbyist Bennett Johnson on CNN this AM. He was subtly shifting the blame and responsibility for the spill to the government and, in particular, the MMS by gently saying the BP was just following the rules set by the MMS. Obviously, if the responsibility for the spill is shifted to the feds, then BP's liability and, therefore, damages would be decreased (and, also, from Johnson's point of view as an oil lobbyist, the damage to the whole oil industry's public image). It's all about the damages from who is legally responsible now. Mitigates those damages. And then, maybe, Tony Hayward and his posse (the spill's "relatively tiny" compared to the "very big ocean.") will keep their jobs or at least their golden parachutes.

Also, watch for some sort of BP news dump at about 6PM EDT or later tonight so they can say on Tuesday when the public's attention comes back from holiday: "We've already talked about that in detail. Let's move on."

Addition: NYSE closes for 3 days at 4 PM EDT. Let news cool off.

BP's video feed

The robotic arms are busy. Anybody have an educated guess about what they're doing?

Why the new higher flow rate estimate of 20,000 barrels per day is implausible:

Based on diameter, a fire hose can deliver the following flow rates, based on a pressure differential at 150 PSI. (subject to verification - any fireman out there who could comment on these flow rates??)
diameter - flow rate
1 1/2" - 100 gpm
1 3/4" - 150 gpm
2 1/2" - 400 gpm
3" - 600 gpm

600 Gallons per minute roughly equates to 20,000 barrels per day.

Somebody please explain to me how at a 2500 PSI differential a 21-inch pipe with a six-inch gash in it (plus several more leaks) is delivering the same amount?

I would say at bare minimum this freaking monster is flowing at roughly 2400 GPM. This roughly squares with the 60,000 bbls of drilling mud (at a much higher viscosity) pumped in 24 hours in the top kill procedure.

I pray I am wrong. God help us if I'm not.

I was just doing some basic hydraulic calculations just to see what it takes for the Top Kill Bullheading to work. Using some basic assumptions like the pressure of the ocean at the top of the wellhead at 2167 psi, a formation pressure of 12,000 psi, a well column height of 13,000 ft and density of 'petrogas' supercritical oil and natural gas of 0.62g/cm^3 and density of mud of about 2.0 g/cm^3, I conclude that the mud must be pumped to a level within 732 m of the formation (2400 ft.) This is pretty close to a 'no-go.' Is BP really drilling that close to the edge of controllability in these deep formations?
I did't show any of my calculations here, but I think I can scan an image of my worksheet on request.

You may delete this post, if you choose, but just so you know where I am coming from:
Field Service Engineer 10 yrs most recently in fractionated radiotherapy field. Cutting edge technology. Task taken v. seriously by this fse as if equipment goes down, it is not good for patients to miss their fractions. Not uncommon to work 24-30 hours onsite continuously. That's who I am professionally. Or was. Laid off w/ severence and urged to apply for other open positions within co. So feel free to delete, but I really do care about your problem. Sincerely TEB