Deepwater Oil Spill - Top Kill Update, Restarting the Mud, and Comment Thread

New thread, please redirect to
As I write this, I see see that the monitoring ROV is back in position to watch the leaks as BP, perhaps, is about to restart pumping mud – if they really are.

9:52 pm the camera is focusing on the cracks in the riser, and it seems that they may be injecting rubber pieces one of which is now stuck in one of the cracks in the riser. (Not very securely it seems)

Piece of "junk" (?) in the riser crack, as BP apparently work to reduce the size of the path through the BOP.

Note that this piece has had to pass through the BOP, and it is sealing the BOP path which is more critical to success. It could also be a piece of the rubber from the annulus seal that broke loose and got caught in the riser. Without knowledge of what BP is trying it is hard to decide, but the flow looks to be still gas and oil without mud, and I would expect that BP would have to use mud as the carrier if they were injecting material into the flow, so this could just be a piece of seal that got caught. If you can't tell where it is, it is in the crack to the immediate right of the center line (without the paint) on the riser. (The view has changed)

UPDATE 1: Mud is clearly visible in the change in the look of the flows out of the riser. But at the moment it does not appear to be under the pressure of the flows on Wednesday. (This could be because it is being pumped in at a lower pressure, or it could be that they have sealed some of the leaks in the BOP and that is cutting back the driving pressure at the riser).

Leak shot at 10:25 pm Central

The problem we saw on Wednesday night with mud being heavier than oil and thus settling more readily and obscuring the view, is also evident.

UPDATE 2: 12:18 AM So it appears that BP have injected "rubber strips" into the flow, and that some of these have lodged in the BOP, reducing the flow channel, while one made it through and is trapped in one of the leaks in the bent portion of the riser.

Now what may happen is that they will slowly increase the mud flow/pressure to a) find out how much the leak rate has been reduced and b) to make sure that the restrictions in the flow channel are stable, and won't blow out. (If they do then they will have to repeat the process). Once they have a sure reduction in leakage then they will re-generate the higher pressures that overcome the pressure in the reservoir and start forcing the oil and gas back down the well, as the mud begins to fill the pipe.

The mud seems to have a slightly different texture from last time, so they could have increased the mud weight so that when the column of mud is re-established that this time it weighs a little more and overcomes the slight pressure imbalance that they were left with the first time they tried this.

Now is a good time for caution and, though the fill time may be reduced because of the smaller leak rate into the Gulf, they may still pump at relatively only slightly higher pressure that that in the reservoir, to slowly sweep down the well, getting into the necessary channels, and giving time for the oil and gas to be pressed back into the rock that it came from.

UPDATE 3: 9:30 AM The latest report from the Gulf

Hayward told CNN BP engineers had injected a "junk shot" of heavier blocking materials into the failed blowout preventer of the ruptured wellhead, and would also pump in more drilling "mud"- all part of the top kill procedure being attempted.

"We have some indications of partial bridging which is good news," he said.

"I think it's probably 48 hours before we have a conclusive view," he added.
Admiral Allen also noted at that time that the leak had been stopped, but that they were not sure that they could sustain the halt in flow. However at 8:10 am, Sterling925 who was watching and commenting on The Oil Drum saw some sort of event occur around the BOP.
Chaotic images - looks like an explosion!

09:14 et 5/28/2010
and from SteinarN
It looks like A LOT of gas is coming up from the seabed around the BOP. Considering the large water pressure and the possibly large area this gas is emanating from it ought to be a large flow. This indicate the integrity of the well is not good?
Unfortunately I did not see any of this and haven't been able to see the BOP apart from one short shot since, though in that shot it did not appear to have any problem. The PBS viewed ROV at the moment is working with a chain, while the ROV that was monitoring the plume is now staring out into the ocean.

The CNN shot however shows that we are back with oil and gas apparently coming out of the leaks at the top of the riser, which is no different than the conditions before they started pumping mud into the well last evening. So the second filling of the well has apparently all been washed out, and they will try again later. The comment from BP was that this might take another couple of days.

UPDATE 4: 10:24 AM Well, I am not sure that the CNN feed was actually live and there are other stories catching their attention at the moment, but there is a Youtube recording of what took place (h/t Jessica in Pensacola).

UPDATE 5: 11:09 AM The feed has gone back to the riser, and we are back to the oil and gas flows that we were saw at the beginning. Not quite the same shapes as earlier, so perhaps the block in the BOP was partially effective, but BP have now apparently filled the well twice and failed to get enough weight into the mud to hold the driving pressure from the rock. They could try again with a higher density mud, I am presuming that the second shot had a higher weight than the first, and that while the first left a small pressure imbalance, that the second was closer, but as yet no banana. (Though the Admiral did say that they had stabilized the flow). My presumption is that they will mix up another batch and try again - though whether they will try another junk shot is not clear.

Flow at 11:09 am

The way in which you try to stop leaks is that you put the big stuff in first. If you can get enough of that to stick, it still leaves large flow channels, and so the second shot uses smaller pieces that fit into the gaps. Then you try smaller shots etc until you get as good a seal as you can. Doing this to plug water flows into tunnels can take several shots to get a total seal, working with sequentially smaller sizes of particles.

I don't understand. If they've stopped the oil flow up from the well and they are not pumping at this exact moment, what in the hell is gushing out at high pressures? How does that make any common sense at all?

Exactly. What we're watching doesn't compute with what they're saying, as far as I can tell.

i assumed they were still pumping ... but i'm not as up to speed on this as most.

Should the weight of the mud be enough to hold the oil back, and if so for how long?

BM -- The weight of the mud would only stop the flow if there was a 18,000' tall column of it putting pressure against the flowing reservoir. The mud weight could be 165 pounds/gallown instead of the 16.5 ppg they are pumping and it won't stop the flow unless the can keep it in the csg. And that's the problem; as long as the well is flow out at thousand of #'s of pressure anything they try to force into the csg is immediately pushed back out. What is more critical than the MW is the amount of pressure the mid pumps can exert. But that leads to the basic problem: the seal is leaking so the higher they raise the pump pressure the faster they push the mud out of the leaking seal. And that doesn't appear to happening...not even close.

Bill Nye the Science Guy says they need 400 tons of force inside a 21" diameter pipe (the riser) to counteract the pressure in the well. Any thoughts? If I understand him correctly, there is not a 1:1 relationship in drilling fluid meeting oil and gas in the pipe. Because of dilatancy, they are able to push the drilling fluid past the oil and gas (even if they are not able to impede the flow with an equivalent amount of pressure). In time, the drilling fluid will start to build up from the bottom, closing leaks, and eventually start to fill up the pipe until it reaches the top. Does this sound like a fair description?

They keep reducing the flow of mud to see if it is working: if mud is reaching the bottom of the well, if there is a balance of pressures in the pipe, or if mud is moving in the pipe and forcing more oil out of the top of the riser through the malfunctioning BOP.

idyl -- Not debating Nye's idea but remember the source of the oil/NG is not the riser. The flow is leaking from the well head/BOP. The riser leak is a secondary leak. Stopping all the oil coming out the riser would just get the flow going out somewhere else if I understand the situation correctly.

If they were to stop all the secondary leaks in the riser, and if the cap that they put on the end of the riser were to hold, then the riser would inflate with oil and gas (and maybe some mud), AND the pressure in the riser would rise towards what is present inside the BOP. It would never get to that pressure because the riser would burst first.

They really need to plug the primary leaks that are inside the BOP, IMHO. Any junk that gets through the primary leak(s) and shows up at a leak in the riser, just shows that they are trying, but without success.

Yes ... Nye was probably incorrect to use the 21" size of the riser pipe for his calculations, he should have used the well casing diameter size at the farthest location from the rig (which I understand to be some 7"). Does this mean the pressure in the well would be higher moving through a smaller diameter pipe, or lower?

For the top kill procedure to work, as I understand it, they have to be able to place drilling liquid at some location down the well bore, and then keep adding more until they have enough weight to counteract the pressure coming from the reservoir. Too little mud and they will get "balooning" ... which would indicate the procedure is working, but needs more mud. Too much mud and you would get negative pressure that would suck in seawater from the leaks at the top of the BOP.

So clearly, based on visual inspection of BOP, they don't have enough mud to balance out pressures in the well bore. Whether they have balooning or other pressure variations in the well bore (indicating something is going on as a result of the introduction of drilling fluid) ... we don't yet have these results.

I also have wondered about the mud density decision. Obviously there is some minimum required density based on downhole pressure and column height. But if the density is too high is there a danger of something like pipe failure or mud loss into the formation?

ld -- the well can exist in only one of two states: it's either shut in (not flowing) or it's flowing. In a standard drilling op it's easy to tell: you shut your mud pumps off. Do that and the well either doesn't flow back or the fluid continues to flow. The problem we have interpreting the videos is that we don't know the status of the mud pumps at anyone time. Additionally, we need to be seeing all the known leak points. Just because we see flow stop at one leak doesn't mean the well stopped flowing.

Yesterday morning at this time Allen said the same thing -- it had been stopped. In fact, there had been no pumping for over 8 hours and the huge gushers continued at the leaks. I'm a layperson, but how is that comment not laughably pathetic? And, how is this not the same thing right now on this morning? The well is stopped? Look at it -- no it's not!

Check out Matt Simmons and another drilling exec.

BP has missed the biggest leak They suggest booting BP and bringing in the US NAVY and SUPERTANKERS. We have got the wrong people working on the "fix".

I suspect Simmons' doomer side is showing, I'm pretty sure he wants to see this disaster continue. As inept as BP has proven to be, replacing them with the Navy would only make matters worse; unless they've developed a special oil-well-killing torpedo...

I don't think Matt Simmons is calling this one right. I think the idea that BP has missed the biggest leak is nonsense. If that idea is way off base, it makes one wonder about the others.

The correct link for Dylan Ratigan/Matt Simmons is

I can't really tell what Matt is getting at. He seems to be under the perception that the bent piece of riser we keep seeing is not at the BOP. But it is, right?

Yes, it is. Seen it with my own eyes more than once when a ROV has backed out from a closeup of the riser plumes to a wider shot and there's a great big giant huge BOP right there where it should be.


Couple questions been nagging me about your fireplug analogy yesterday. I thought from the diagrams that mud was entering from the choke and kill lines, and they were from the manifold, the new pipe carrying mud inserted there. So it would seem they have tightened fittings all the way into the BOP. Not so? The analogy suggested to me 2 hoses w/0 fittings just spraying at each other, trying to find the stronger. Also, if this ever works, is the cement plug set on top of the new mud in the casing, or do they have to somehow set the cement plug at the bottom of the 18K hole at the producing formation? Much more difficult it would seem.

And a last one, working with only 3" irrigation pipe, if I don't want to trudge up the hill to shut the flow, I can sometimes install new risers/pipe by pulling a downhill plug, and rushing to put it all together during the pressure drop. As a last chance gasp, any idea on whether cutting the riser at the bend would give them enough drop/time to get the mud going down? It sounds far fetched to me, but thought I'd ask.

doug -- I don't have a clear picture of the plumbing down there. But if they had fittings that were securely tightened and could hold the pressure as the kill pill was pumped then it would mean they had the well shut in and there would be no flow even before they started the kill pill. That doesn't appear to be the case. The fact that they pumped more than 30,000 bbls of mud into a csg string that could hold no more than 1,400 bbls of mud if it were completely filled tells you how poor those fittings must be holding.

"how poor those fittings must be holding"

Could it not be that there is a gigantic hollow space around the bottom of the production casing because
sand from the producing region has been blown up and out of the well during the continuing blowout?
The 30000 bbls of mud fell down through the production casing and dropped into that void at the bottom (?).

The reason that there has not been dramatic increase in flow rate during the past few days is that sand erosion has stopped. Sand erosion has stopped because the void at to bottom has gotten big enough that flow inside the producing layer is now spread over such a wide area that it no longer picks up sand on it way toward the open end of the production casing.(?)

I've seen this in movies before where they use a video loop to trick you into believing what you're seeing is in real time. The question is, do you trust them?

Who knows what's really going on down there.

I sincerely hope this current procedure works, but I have some serious doubts that it will. That's some serious pressure, and the injection points are smaller diameter than the exit points. Makes it hard to see how this is supposed to happen.

Just some random ideas for other approaches, to be kicked around and criticized:

1) Does the BOP have some kind of actuator that could be forced to close the bore? If it's jammed, is there any point that some kind of charge could be tapped in to blow it shut?

2) Someone in an earlier thread was talking about how medical stents work and wondering if something similar was possible here. I'm wondering if a kevlar/steel mesh bag could be fabricated which could be introduced through one of the 3" lines and then filled with cement inside the BOP to close the bore.

3) Lastly, the nuke option. A tactical nuclear fission device, introduced into a bore hole parallel to the well and at a suitable distance, say a few hundred feet deep and a few hundred feet away. The concept is to achieve a blast that would crush the pipe and fuse a couple hundred feet of sea bottom over the well.

The nuke option was discussed here several weeks ago. I suggested a series of offset compression blasts to collaspe the pipe. I think we all agreed that there were too many uncertainties. I also suggested drilling a few thousand feet below the sediment layer, get near the well and attempt to create a collapse with a large explosive. This wasn't well received either. Perhaps, if these guys get desparate enough......

I'll try to answer:

1) It seems the BOP partially shut. The remaining opening has almost certainly been eroded to a larger size. The erosion means even if it could be closed (I think it actually is after hydraulic repairs) it would still leak. And keep explosives away from this thing.

2) Very interesting idea. I doubt it could be designed, fabricated and tested for this event, but worth further study I would think.

3) No. NO.

I've been thinking about a stent-like approach as well, although it might be easier to drill a hole at the top of the BOP (through the bent-over riser that we've been watching leak for the last two days), threading an expandable "stent" down into the BOP until you're below something that could serve as a seat, and then expanding it into a mesh that would cover the opening with a grid small enough to catch whatever you then pump in with the mud.

Certainly would be simpler than threading a stent down through 5000 feet of 3" tubing.

I was assuming whatever you needed to introduce through the fitting would just be done at the BOP by one of the ROVs, same as they attached the tubing in the first place.

Peter -- very intuitive. We aleady have "stents" in the oil patch. They are expandable cement packers. Picture a hard rubber bladder attached to the end of drill pipe. Run the ECP into the csg to an appropriate depth. The oil/NG will continue to flow up the csg. When in position start pumping cmt into the ECP and it swells to close off the entire diameter of the csg. A couple of problems though. First, the obvious: the csg has to be completely open. have to have the BOP wide open and the broken drill pipe removed. Second, I'm not sure if any of the existing ECP's can handle the pressures involved.

Rocky, that sounds like one of the problems that were neglected before they started doing DW drilling. They are doing things at a depth where the technology either does not work, or has not been tested. They were tempting fate! And, fate rose up and bit them.

I have finally managed to convince one of my children that we are now witnessing the beginning of the end game, in the Age of Oil. Until now, he has been a technocopian.

What do you figure are the odds on at least one of the RWs succeeding?


zap -- I think the odds of a RW killing the blow out is 100%. The real question is will it take 3 months or 1 year. The RW will work...eventually.

And to reduce that time, even by one day, I advocate four relief wells (at a mere $100 million each per incomplete RW).

Four RWs are, on average, more likely to finish early than two RWs (or the "just one" RW BP wanted to drill).

The odds of "disaster" hitting any one, or even any two RWs in this specific case, are discouraging high.

And a disaster could be a week long, a month long for a four month long delay !


PS: Drilling RWs is work for the 33 deep water rigs and crews that are being pulled out of the GoM. More is better ;-)

i agree. 2 of them can work as RW's and the rest on drilling production wells to get the product that is destroying the GOM. there is only a finite amount down there. Produce it ASAP. Obama nationalize them now. Assign them a drilling site in Macando. The oil rig folks need work and we need this oil for something other than its currently misaligned mission of turning the GOM into a slim pit. If they are all working in close proximity they can be efficiently trained and monitored if there is to be future DW drilling, which I am against. Draft Rockman and a few of his compatriots to oversee the operation. Might as well dream for something positive. The dreams I have been having lately have all been nightmares.

Thanks, Rock. The 100% makes me feel better, especially coming from you. The 3 months to a year - not so much. Old man Murphy has really been screwing with this thing from the get-go.


Have a good day, if possible.


Not sure how effective a stent in the central casing would be if the oil is leaking out the annular region

Putting the cement packer down the well would be excellent.

The shear rams on the BOP have cut through and partially collapsed the riser pipe inside the BOP.

Inside the riser is the (partially cut?) drill string.

The issue is whether the crimped riser is an obstacle to removing the drill string and replacing it from the surface with either a conventional tool or another device such as the cement packer. In any event, with the drill string downhole mud can be injected from the bottom of the well up. Well pressure would assist in driving the mud upward toward the well head.

Going the other direction appears to require more pressure than the BOP, riser or downhole casings can take. The mud is only going down halfway then escaping into the formation. More pressure means more mud into the dirt. Basically, as I understand it, the mud crew is working against an endless kick.

18,000 feet of heavy mud from the bottom up should stem the flow by itself, then concrete at the bottom and through the kill and choke lines.

I as well was thinking about a stent, that I have. I also thought about a spring they shoved up my inside through my penis (ouch!). The tool straightened it out and, once inside, on letting it go it formed a coil. When they went in to get it the tool straightened it out again and they pulled it out. The surgeon then held it up in front of me and said "This is new, Boston Scientific". (Harvard teaching hospital)

However that is just by way of an aside. What I'd really do is concentrate on getting 'junk' that can close the flow area within the BOP from the upstream side. It must go into one or both of the 3 inch pipes and then lodge within the BOP body. To keep it simple I would try a device consisting of two rubber balls with some quite strong wire in between them (different thicknesses could be tried). The rubber balls would consist of a larger slightly less than the I/D of the mud pipe, and a smaller. The idea would be to get them into the pipe with the larger leading. It would then pass through like a piston with the wire and smaller ball following. The wire length and flexibility could be varied so it can negotiate bends and joints in the pipe. A 'test rig' BOP could be set up to try this. Now the intent is for these rubber balls and wires to become entangled within the BOP once they are injected. If spring wire were used in would bent somewhat once it was in a free space within the POB. The intent is to stuff a lot of these in so that a wire mesh type structure is obtained. (Afterthought is the wire could be barbed, to some extent, but see remark about the sacred 3 inch pipes - with joints)(Another afterthought is the second rubber ball could be just a ball of wire - that's even simpler. The main point is for the leading ball to be the piston propelling the assenmbly down the pipe with the force of fluid behind while it does not propell the second ball and cause the whole thing to jamm.)

I do not care about the riser leakage paths. They are secondary. This is to reduce critical flow areas within the POB so as to allow sufficient mud pressure (circa 10000 psi?) to reverse the flow of the oil/gas column.

Now, once you have all these pieces of entangled wire you can return to junk that is more like flat pieces of rubber that will lodge in the mesh. Their may even be a goey cement like substance you can add however you cannot compromise the integrity of the 3" feed pipes. They are sacred.

Having got the inside clogged up you should be seeing a rise in pressure from underneath as you reduce the flow of oil/gas and get lesser friction losses coming up the pipe - even without pumping mud. It will get to reservoir pressure minus the head of oil in the pipe once it is stationary. Now I do not think you will get as far as that however you have now set the stage for pumping either mud or sea water that will increase the pressure at the bottom of the BOP to the point where it will stop the oil/gas upward flow.

Either you will get there or you will blow out the restrictive material. If the latter you start again.

Now it is a nicety if you can then get sufficient mud down the drilling for its head alone to stabilise the flow. Once it starts going down the pressure required within the BOP will reduce. That should help the integrity of the 'flow restriction mesh'. That perhaps is the advantage of using mud rather than sea water. Over twice the head.

If the SG of the mud is sufficiently high (and I gather it can be tailored) then the column could be sufficient to hold the well pressure with the pressure at the BOP being that of the sea (no mud pumping needed).

I would not think this a perfect seal as the mud would continue to drop down into the reservoir and be replaced in the pipe with the lighter oil/gas however you then have a situation that you can fine tune until such time as a) you can mount another valve on top of the POB, then close this and cement and/or b) wait out the secondary well.

Enough for now.

Good ideas, erd. I just hope the BOP has retained sufficient structural integrity to stand the increased pressure, though if it hasn't it doesn't really matter since there seems no better plan that I have read to date.

ISTM that BP should have thought this whole thing through years ago. I mean, the presence of a BOP infers the realization that blowouts happen. And, any manmade manufactured item is susceptible to failure. Therefore, a means to seal this well should have been a part of initial engineering. Of course that would mean spending money on safety, wouldn't it? Oops. Sorry! I take it all back.

::sarcasm off::


Come on Brooklynite only two of your three suggestions involve blowing something up!

There's a subtle difference between propellant charges (like the ones used in airbags, ejection seats, and other single-use actuators) and explosives. Obviously, the correct solution would have to be engineered. Unlike the third suggestion, the first isn't a demolition job.

Now the ROV shows "Monitoring Plume on LMRP, and it's traveling through clouds of stuff with rocks floating by - wasn't LMRP the "Lower Marine Riser Package"?

emm... what's going on? ROV getting pounded by mud asteroids or something

They moved the camera at about 9:10. It had been looking at the leaks in the riser, then it lifted away and moved to the left.

ah allright, I just tuned in and it looked like something blew up or so. still, haven't seen this much debris in the water yet.

I think why do I have this feed up and then something spectacular happens. It looked like the asteroids were in an oil plume.

Chaotic images - looks like an explosion!

09:14 et 5/28/2010

Top of the riser let go? ROV is back in his cage it looks like.

EDIT: maybe not. Might just be surveying the plume.

Lots of debris flying around. Cement job going down, perhaps?

I don't think so. Something happened. They got the ROV out of there post haste.

Never saw that part. Others have since written that they saw the riser pop, followed by an O&G release.

I hope those white objects are not Hydrates

It looks like A LOT of gas is coming up from the seabed around the BOP. Considering the large water pressure and the possibly large area this gas is emanating from it ought to be a large flow. This indicate the integrity of the well is not god?

Any coments from the experts?

Was watching - monitoring ROV turned camera away and then whoosh -- the chunky debris has me suspecting a sizable rupture in that kinked and perforated section of the riser.

Edit - suspect ROV operator is still hanging on hoping for enough visual to be able to back out.

Is it correct to say that even in an almost-killed well, residual gas rising will expand in the hole and increase surface pressure at top of hole?

Again - if someone recorded the stream, it would be real nice to have it uploaded somewhere. I would love to see what happened there again from the beginning.

You can't tell me they cannot pan that ROV camera into view of what is going on. It would appear we are seeing what they want us to see...nothing.

Nope...nothing happening here folks...move along.

None of these ROVs are down there for the sole purpose of filming the action for us, we just get a dupe of the same feed the ROV operators are seeing. I promise you, none of the ROV guys are doing anything other than everything they can to do the jobs they have to down there.

Now all that considered, there has to be someone, probably a humanoid PR droid who doesn't know a wrench from a hammer, in a control room somewhere acting as director, picking which of the many video feeds gets piped out to the public. If you have to invent a conspiracy, blame that bastard. The ROV operators are being stressed to the point they might not even know their live feeds are being piggybacked and sent out for the world to watch.

Yes, I recorded the whole thing. A ten-minute clip of which I was finally able to get on you-tube, here:

...since you asked. There's more on either end, but that's the heart of it.

Certainly BP will claim this is all normal, we just have to wait a few more looks like hell to my carpenter eyes.

Gas has to follow PV/T so the answer is no. That relationship has to stay constant.

Thanks for the answer. Coffee not working well this morning. Plaques in the brain don't help much either LOL.

Edit. I should say, a mostly killed well with an open top, which is what we have. I was trying to be hopeful that continued flow out the riser might still be compatible with a killed well. Which I doubt is the case, but I do hope it.

I am aware of the likelihood of the behind-cement leaking into annulus at a casing hanger complicating the effort. It doesn't look good. I suppose blasting mud down into it like a fracking effort is what would be needed. Such a bigger chance of losing whole column into weaker formations.

Is it correct to say that even in an almost-killed well, residual gas rising will expand in the hole and increase surface pressure at top of hole?

An "almost killed well" is like "a lttle bit pregnant.


Was there a disconnect at the base of the lower marine riser package?

CNN is back up with 6 monitor view

No. ROV2 is checking out the LMRP now... looks intact.

The ROV is at 1470 meters now, it was at 1507 meters. Maybe they just had to move it out of the way and it kicked up a bunch of debris in the process.
I hope that is what happened.

Hopefully all the activity on the MAC hosting this stream at PBS was someone recording the event.

Is it just me or is that the weirdest current flow you have ever seen? It appear there are some pretty forceful updraft and downdraft current flows...almost like some form of suction or vortex.

I am wondering if something did blow, the resulting upflow could be creating the wild looking residual current flow we are witnessing?


I think the ROV is back in the cage and we are seeing the wave motion of the ROV boat.

In the CNN multi-view you can see they are screwing something on/off with the ROV robotic arm. Not sure what it shows tough.

It may be they have long abandondend "Operation Top Kill 2: Junk Shots" and are already preparing LMRP - no official communication about it anywhere...

Does anyone have an idea what ROV2 is doing? It has been turning bolt or something clockwise on part that I havent seen before, perhaps somewhere lower down on the BOP

I don't think just shutting off the pumps will immediately stop the flow of mud from the riser. There is still a mile high column of mud in the tubing going up to the surface that would either have to be valved off of it would drain out through the riser leaks.

Don't know how long that would take but it could be a while if there is no valve.

The "manifold" the C/K lines are fed from I would believe includes remote operated valves or may even be choke valves. That manifold connects via drill pipe to Q4000 topside.

long time lurker, just signed in.

@ rockman, headingout et al.

Last night I was showing my son the problem with pushing mud against what appears to be a 2x pressure differential and a he came up with an idea.

Here it is:

If they have a place to push mud, apparently 4 valves they have control over.

use one of the lower valves to release/ relieve pressure from the flow.

use one of the upper valves to pump cement into the flow(upward) and once the cement has blocked/filled to BOP slowly close off the 'relief' valve.

I'm a network guy so I yield to the oil engineering section on this one.

I couldn't find a major red flag. If they have control of 4 valves it makes some sense. I'm just not sure why they didn't try to reduce the pressure on the main bore.



You aren't going to be able to reduce the pressure in those valves to initiate flow vs continuing on up the riser. Not to mention you are perpendicular to the flow stream with much smaller flow orifaces.

woerm -- What you're describing is the basic method for killing a shut in well. The problem with the blow out is exactly that: there are no valves to close to stop the flow. If there were you would simple attach a kill live to that valve and pump in at a pressure exceeding that of the flowing oil/NG.

I believe that we have moved on to "Top Hat" phase. They are trying to get us into the holiday news cycle. They were cagey on TV this morning. Definitely not being transparent.

Can someone with technical background comment on what they may be working on atm? Is it the top of BOP? Can't make out the depth either.

Was gonna say the same thing. That looks to be some sort of guide or something the ROV is attaching. Guessing something to do with the saw they'll use to cut the top off. Just a guess.

So what are we looking at now? I am not sure where on the BOP that ROV is working. Since they are tightening a bolt I don't think they are getting ready to saw off the old riser, but I may have that exactly backwards.

Any thoughts?

To me that looks like a fitting for some sort of instrumentation - pressure gauge, temperature, sample port, whatever.

This may have been posted in an earlier thread

Jimmy Harrell, for his part, was in the shower. Mr. Harrell was the top drilling official on board the Deepwater Horizon, working for the rig’s owner, Transocean.

...He pulled on clothes and headed for the rig bridge. He could tell there was fire outside even from within the crew quarters. He reached the bridge in minutes, and he could tell immediately that fire was not the Deepwater Horizon’s only problem. The lights on the control panel were not right. They were not showing that the blowout preventer had worked.

“I expected to see the annular [blowout] preventer closed, and the diverter closed,” he told the hearing Thursday.

He still had things in his eyes, so he could not be certain.

“I didn’t have a lot of time to investigate, but it wasn’t normal,” he said.

Harrell denied that they had pressured him to complete work quickly. BP might have been paying the bills, but they did not have complete control of Deepwater Horizon operations, he said.

“We don’t just do something because the company man wants it,” said Harrell.

Still, Harrell added that in the days prior to the catastrophe BP’s plan for the cap-off of the well “kept changing”

It looked to me like the ROV attached a rigging ring to a riser section. Later it looked like the ROV picking up a come-a long.

Got a glimps of ROV2 from ROV1 as it moved into position
RoV2 appears to be just below the level of the kink in the riser and is still turning. It is turning something on the flange that connects to the kinked part just above
I think I saw very briefly the kink in the riser still leaking like before. But the view wasnt good and moved quickly away.
ROV 1 then moved to same position on opposite side of riser and seems to be startng the same procedure on that side.
Rov2 then seemed to finish and backed off showing the full BOP still intact

He might just have picked up a saw. <-- I must be starting seeing things.

Where he was turning stuff whas the top of the BOP under the riser pipe, as you could see as it moved back.

Here is video of what happened earlier, certainly looks like something came apart...lots of debris falling. Watch to the point of about 1 minute 14 seconds into it.


I think BP have moved on with the LMRP attempt.

A few minutes ago when the live feed was showing the view of debris suspended in water from the camera of "BOA Deep 1" the text at the bottom of the screen was "Monitoring [...?] on LMRP".

I found this screenshot to confirm:

Based on the description of the attempt found here:

"This would first involve removing the damaged riser from the top of the BOP, leaving a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP. The LMRP cap, an engineered containment device with a sealing grommet, would be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and then placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well and transporting it to the drillship on the surface."

I infer that what we are looking at right now on the live feed are the operations of removal of the TOP of the BOP.

Wish I had a screen capture of that screwdriver - screwing - underwater - a few minutes ago.

Is that a metaphor for this oil spill and bp's "appearances of transparency"?

Nobody wants to risk any more face. Every possible operation that can fail is outright rejected. The problems surrounding this well are growing and this kill mud is missing the crack to the annulus. All the mud added will flow out through BOP or the Drill Pipe. The mud in the lower part of the well below the DP open end is static. The casing below and around the float shoe is plugged.

Time to cut losses and break some eggs.

Replace the broken bent LMRP with the BOP stack on Deepwater Enterprise.

Allow topflow through the C/K lines on the lower BOP. Rig to produce flow from new riser.

Go fishing to catch the DP stuck in the lower BOP and then open Lower BOP and remove that drill string.

Run into hole with perforating tools and cut up the casing above payzone. Kill the well.

Cement plug the entire well and abandon.

BP you are wasting more time.
All this for:
1. Short cementing on casings and liners.
2. Short on cement plugs.
3. A total disregard for anomalous BOP tests.
4. Short on time waiting on cement.
5. Short on mud as they unload to transport. Replacing the mud with sea water on a live well.
6. Short on bottoms up circulations.
7. Short on experience with onsite rep.

This is the only solution now. They are quickly losing this well to erosion. It's time to open the well up to full flow and divert it to allow tripping to bottom and perforating the casing to allow mud then cement to be circulated to kill the well. Top kill won't work because of the annular flow not allowing any mud to make it into the well. They cannot hold back pressure to allow mud to be bull headed into the well. This was blowout was caused by a culture of big company attitude to save money and hurry up. Thanks for screwing up a fine business British Petroleum. We will never be able to recover from the black oil eye we have taken.



1. The first attempt to deal with the blowout failed when the 100 ton capture box filled with methane hydrate crystals when sea water mixed with the oil/gas mixture, which blocked the flow of the oil/gas mixture through the riser pipe to the sea surface.
2. The top kill method of injecting drilling mud into the lower portion of the blowout preventer (BOP) failed when the escaping oil/gas mixture carried the drilling mud upward and out of the BOP.


What would be likely to happen if the mud pumps, top kill lines, manifold, etc. were used to pump large quantities of cold seawater into the lower portion of the BOP? If methane hydrate crystals could be produced inside the BOP, they might stop, or at least slow the flow of oil and gas. If the flow could be stopped or slowed, the top kill drilling mud method would have a better chance of success.

Is this suggestion practical enough to be worth trying?

newbee, I'm not an expert on drilling, but I am a mechanical engineer. Your idea is intriguing but I can imagine a few problems, just based on normal engineering principles.

1. The melting point of many liquids can be functions of pressure. I don't know how that works with hydrate crystals, but water becomes a little bit harder to freeze at elevated pressures. It could be that, if the hydrates clogged the BOP, the pressure inside would increase, the melting point could also increase, and thus the hydrates could melt again.

2. Another important point is that the oil coming up from the reservoir is very very hot. This is probably both because of geothermal heat at the bottom and also because of friction after the oil's long, high speed trip up the pipe. So there might be enough heat in the oil stream to prevent hydrates from forming until they get into open water.

3. Even if neither of those effects prevented the formation of your sealing ice, I doubt soft ice crystals could mechanically seal a high pressure leak. This leak is considerably more powerful than a jet engine (across a very small area of course), powerful enough to scour steel. It stands to reason that the escaping liquid would also scour away ice crystals as they tried to form. Plus, that scouring action produces heat, which would also work against the ice.

Again, I'm not an expert on drilling, but that's my initial engineering reaction to your proposal.

I do wonder, however: If they were able to pump mud down at a high enough rate to displace the oil back down the well, effectively turning the oil leak into a mud leak, why can't they pump in water and turn the oil leak into a water leak until the relief wells are complete? This would also prevent additional sand-scouring of the BOP hardware and riser pipe...

I'm sure there are many reasons this isn't feasible, but I'd be curious to see what they are.

Whoever writes the CNN Breaking News emails has a very bent sense of humor. Just received this:

BP's top official upgrades impact of Gulf oil spill from "very modest" to "environmental catastrophe."

BP's top official upgrades impact of Gulf oil spill from "very modest" to "environmental catastrophe."

All of western civ to BP officals,


I only have a couple minutes this morning.

This is based on what BP has said about their forward looking plans - but BP's transparency seems to be like looking through a clean pane of glass - covered with black paint.

If the top kill is successful the next step will likely be the installation of a second BOP which would mean they have to either remove the riser and/or LMRP so they have a fitting to latch the BOP.

If the top kill is not successful then they will proceed to attaching the LMRP "top hat".

Both of these procedures require cutting the broken riser.

So if I was the project manager I would go ahead and install my clamps for the saw and maybe the saw itself to save time later on.

Bottom line is that if they are installing the saw it doesn't actually indicate anything about the success or failure of the top kill.

Thanks for posting.

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.

Bottom line is that if they are installing the saw it is probably a clear indication that top kill has in fact failed and they are preparing for the top hat.


If the Top Kill is a failure and it appears it is, we will have to wait 30-60--?? more days (at 500,000 gallons or more per day) for the kill well(s) to come into play.

We have X gallons per minute at Y pressure coming through the BOP. And we have inlets into the pipe below the BOP (where the mud has been inserted).

The mud is not working, is expensive, is as toxic as the oil is, is finite. Certainly not 30-60 days worth on hand.

My thought is, if the mud is not working, why not start pumping sea water in instead through the mud lines. X+1 gals of seawater at Y+1 pressure has to displace/replace at least SOME of the oil coming up from the reservoir.

So instead of 500,000 gallons or more per day of oil escaping for the next 30-60 days, it might be brought down to 250,000 gpd, or even if only 499,999 gpd, it would be worth it (not to BP maybe, but really, who cares about them at this point).

my guess is they are goin to us the come along to pull the lmrp into place over the bop and use the enterprise to choke the flow enough to get a kill on the well to pump cement to it

If we're talking about the LMRP cap that I've heard has been built and is on-site waiting for installation, the connection between the old riser stub and the new riser will HOPEFULLY exclude most of the water, but it won't hold much pressure.

It MAY allow capture of some of the oil - hopefully more than we were getting through the RIT - but it won't be any use in killing the flow.

OTOH, if they can somehow stab a new BOP on top of the existing one - I don't know how they could make THAT joint pressure-tight - there is a possibility of choking off flow there.

ND: they zapped comments before I could answer your question about Z42. Yes. Correct universe.


That's funny - thanks for lightening things up a bit - this situation certainly calls for a little comic break now and then!

I have said before, these guys are clowns. Not funny, though.

I alternate between numb shock, and near tears. I have good friends in Houma, Lafayette, and Big Easy. They are not answering their calls.


If they can contain and collect the oil at the surface, it really won't matter if the relief well(s) take 3 months or 3 years.

Hey Comfy, you sitting down in that chair of yours? I'm sorry to interrupt all this fascinating underwater viewing of the spill and the scintillating technical and engineering discussion around mud and BOPs and ROVs and all that other good stuff. How bout a major F'ing Reality Check!!! Read some of this stuff:

Well, it seems that the very thing that was my absolute worst case possible nightmare scenario is being confirmed bit by horrible bit. I'm beginning to wonder if the BP execs should be tried for crimes against humanity...

The sight of an oil slick spreading across the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough. But now scientists from the University of South Florida have found signs that a 6-mile-wide plume of invisible oil is snaking beneath the surface, in the deepest recesses of the gulf.

The thickest concentration, they found, was more than 2 miles beneath the surface — a mile deeper than where the Deepwater Horizon well has been spewing oil for the past month — and about 20 miles northeast of the collapsed rig.

The plume of dissolved oil stretched 6 miles down, said David Hollander, a USF chemical oceanographer and lead investigator for the project. This is the second oil plume to be discovered by scientists, and it marks the first time such plumes have been detected after a spill, Hollander said.

He compared them to streams of lava flowing out of an undersea volcano.

So Comfy, how ya gonna collect that?! Maybe the engineering folk have a few ideas...

Look, I'm on your side. There should have been something in place BEFORE THIS EVER STARTED to collect anything leaking from a deepwater well and keep it isolated from the water column all the way to the surface where it could be collected and disposed of. I'm a layperson, but IMO as soon as they realized the BOP wasn't able to shut in the well, they should have cut off the riser to isolate it to ONE source location, and used the as-yet-to-be-invented device.

The decision to use dispersant in deep water should land somebody's ass in jail.

EDIT: If the oil comes to the surface in one small location, even within a square mile, it can be dealt with. If it's allowed to spread out and pop up at random over a 500 square mile area, we're fucked. If it's dissolved into the entire water column over a 500 square mile area, well, my best solution for that is to sit in the corner and cry.

Sorry I jumped on you comfy, watching this whole thing unfold has been very traumatic.

It's ok dude, I know you from your comments. If I thought you were a crazy person I wouldn't have bothered to elaborate. My comment you replied to was short and didn't give a lot of context, and it's not clear that the emphasis should have been on:

If they can contain and collect the oil at the surface

The point is that with current tech, they can't. That's the part we have to figure out if we're going to keep drilling for oil.

See here:

Speaking of volcanoes, there are two major eruptions going on since the oil "eruption." One in Ecuador, another in Guatemala. Probably just coincidence? But surely removal of large amounts of oil could have some seismic effects.

Hi all, first time poster to the forum, but I have been lurking for a few months in an effort to learn a little about the industry. I had intended to seek employment in the petroleum sector upon graduation next semester(GLY BS)... rethinking that now with Obama's announcement, yesterday.

Anyway, on the meat of the post: To those thinking of a solution to this problem employing explosives, Here are a couple of photos of what a seafloor looks like after a seismic wave passes through unconsolidated clastics(calcilutite, calcisiltite). Turbidites behave in the same manner. This structure is mapped over about 40,000 km/2 in Kentucky and Virginia.

Now, I don't what is on that seafloor within a 50-100 km radius of any blast that occurs, but there will probably be a lot of liquefaction of the beds near the surface

EDIT: I tried posting this several minutes ago, but my laptop thought otherwise. If a duplicate, delete, please.

It also looks like BP needs to go back to booming school, that is actually send people to the classes.

NSFW salty language from some one who apparently has actually had to go to the classes

It sounds like a documentary but the language is. well, terse.

they make a few points I've noted from past experience watching folks lay out booms that didn't work.

Testimony from Transocean employee, Chris Pleasant. who finally hit the EDS (from the live hearing on CNN web). When he reached the bridge he announced his intention to EDS. Captain told him to calm down and not activate EDS. BP Company Man Vidrine then told him to hit EDS ("Get us off Chris") out of the hearing of the captain - which he did. In later questioning he stated that he had authority to activate EDS himself and would have done so against the captain's instructions even if Vidrine had not given the go-ahead. Approximately 4 or 5 minutes later the captain told him to EDS and was told that it had already been initiated.

Further testimony. When he arrived on bridge lower BOP annular was closed but upper was open according to panel.

Second pressure test was done after anomalous results on first pressure test. Toolpusher Jason Anderson and others were of the opinion that first test anomaly was due to a "U-tube" but he could give no more information on this. second negative pressure test was apparently "good" as far as everyone was concerned.

New witness Gregory Mesh of mi-swaco now testifying.

Edit: Senior Toolpusher now testifying. He had been entertaining guests but spoke to duty Toolpusher Jason Anderson at 9:20pm who assured him that second negative pressure test was good and displacement activities were proceding normally. After hearing this he went to bed satisfied all was ok. At about 9:50pm he got a call in bed from driller Steve Curtis on the drilling floor to say they had a major problem, needed help and that Jason Anderson (testimony: considered one of Transocean's best well control experts) was shutting down the well. Before he could get to help there was a massive explosion.

Also testified that be believed up to that point they (BP/Transocean combo) had one of the safest operations there could be. Stated that he had never felt pressure from BP to cut corners. He stated the discussion (not an argument as some reported) earlier in the day was about performing a negative pressure test. The method favoured by Jimmy Harrell (Transocean) was agreed upon by all.

They are zeroing in on something. The Transocean lawyer is going nuts.

Yes the Transocean lawyer made sure he didn't answer what he thought happened in the last few minutes. T Boone Pickens said last night on Larry King that the blame aimed at BP is misdirected (I know many most strongly disagree but I'm just quoting what he said). He also said that when all is said and done we will see that plain and simple human error in the heat of the moment likely caused a major problem to become a disaster (and that it was something to do with the BOP) but these things happen very occasionally (even the most experienced pilots can crash a plane due to pilot error he pointed out) and we have to live with that he said.

He was certainly sounding like he knew something which has not been made public. Did someone on drill floor mistakenly open a closed BOP annular, which was containing a blow-out below it, I continue to wonder?

What I don't think most people realize is that disasters like this don't occur by the gross negligence of one individual or one company most of time. Its usually a combination of small, seemingly inconsequent errors that build up until the control of situation is lost and the dominos all fall down. So many people want to believe hte narrative that it was BP's fault that the whole thing went to hell, when the reality is that BP made an error (not doing a CBL, an admittedly hard to interpret log before displacing the mud), Transocean made an error (failing to ensure the BOP's complete integrity), Halliburton made an error (I'm not giving them a complete pass on their cement job), Camermon could have made an error (a different design BOP may not have failed). The combination of these seemingly small errors led to a disaster. The investigation will determine what the root causes of this accident are, but people need to realize that complex disasters don't boil down to simple causes.

Looks lik they have a "rigging crew" of ROV's at work right now. It appears they are attaching hook points and a setup for a crane to grab onto. This would all seem to be prepping to cut off the riser. Could still be days before they decide to cut off the riser, but they would be ready to start.

A few minutes ago somebody posted a link to the camera showing this operation--in a very clear view on a German Web site--but that post has vanished. Not sure why it was taken down, but here it is again:

What is the box-like thing the robots are attaching hooks to?

As I said before, they just embedd the feed from BP.
Here is the direct URL:

CNN hearings a lot more interesting atm though.They have an actual employee up now instead of some "higher up" guy spinning around.

It is a container for tools and equipment for the work of the ROVs. On the deck of a ship this container is filled with items needed by ROVs and then they plunge the container to the seabed.

That looks (just guessing) like a toolbox/equipment box from the surface. Which if they are attaching the hooks to it, makes what I said earlier make no sense.

I know this has been discussed to an extent already, but can someone knowledgeable speak to the record of relief wells (assuming now that this is going to have to be the answer) - seems like it will take 3-6 months or so at a minimum to complete the wells from what I have read so far, but how guaranteed is it to work? What will the effect be on reducing the pressure of the oil/mud now coming out of this busted well, etc.? Just curious to learn more here...

I've managed the drilling of 4 of them in my career, all successful as planned. I might add that none of them attempted to mill into casing but were targeted to be 50 ft from the bottom of the blowing well. When one gets that close or sooner sometimes, the bottom falls out of the relief well and its katy bar the door to pump mud to keep up with the lost returns into the blowing well. You have to be set up for that occurrence as we were and all went as planned with the kill happening on the first encounter. Keep in mind there will be a pressure sink in the formation around the blowing well which will aid in sucking the mud from the relief well. If you can flood the blowing well from the source of the BO, i.e. the formation that is producing or blowing, it won't make much difference whether the flow is up a cased well or around the casing(annular flow). It takes mucho planning to have the pumps on hand and the mud volumes required to kill a blowout from a relief well.

Given the high pressure of this formation and the possibility that it is a supercritical petrogas (as one commenter called it), does that make a relief well here more difficult than usual? How much more difficult, if so?

very interesting comment. Do I have this straight. drill down just below the bottom of the blowing well and intercept the petro-gas flow going to the blown well. pump mud etc. from relief well into the flow resulting from the blown well and let that pull the mud up into the bottom of the blown well. sounds very elegant to me. Use the force of the reservoir to do the work for you. Currently, all plans being implemented or proposed go against the a very powerful flow. This approach appears superior to the relief well approach currently be implemented. Your four successful projects, were any in the DW environment with these kinds of pressures? Please excuse my ignorance. just a curious, very concerned old man. If you saw my comments last evening i have been encouraging taking a look at the down hole location for shutting this thing down. This looks like a solution that might work. What do you think Rockman, Heading out?

Haven't seen any video of the pipe since what appeared to be some kind of burst @9:20 am

Which pipe? More info please, just now waking up here.

Check out the vid that jessicainpensacola posted above...looks like something blew.

CNN is showing the multi-video display. Riser looks the same as it did last night.

RT @BP_America: Operations on top kill procedure continue. Estimated that full top kill procedure could extend for another 24 to 48 hours #oilspill #bp

Original Tweet:

Any word about what happend earlier? Was there an explosion or is it just speculation? And is that impacting their Top Kill plans?

Thanks as always goose I appreciate the information.

Nothing else from the BP feed really ( They continue to lack transparency.

I mean, learn from freaking NASA, people. Tell us that ROV2 has an itch that ROV5 is going to scratch in 15 seconds--and from what angle--preferably with X, Y, AND Z coordinates. (Don't want to fall into the whole Wrath of Khan trap. *snicker*)

Guy who posted the vid clip said he thot that they were trying to knock mud off of the ROV.

Looks like things are getting pretty violent down there. I do not envy those guys who are operating those ROVs

if anyone's IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

(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)


why don't they simple arrange a flexible conduit, made from heavy oil resistant material and buoy it and anchor it to the surface of the gulf floor. an inverted cone/conduit to direct the oil/gas stream to the surface? it could all be directed to a series of booms that would corral the oil for collection by supertanker.

it won't stop the leak but at least it will allow it to be collected while the relief well is drilled.

Or just use the webchat version, download nothing.

type your nick and #theoildrum

So that's better than being here?

CNN's Oceenering Video Portal is showing a shot of the top of the riser. Not sure how to interpret other than the holes look bigger.

So would it be reasonable to infer that debris from the junk shot broke through the holes in the riser pipe and widened them on the way out?

In one of the minor leaks, it appears some debris is constricting the crack. But overall very little change from yesterday, and it doesn't appear they are currently pumping mud either.

I should add, we are staring at these pinhole leaks on the bent riser. The major source of pressure loss is on the end of the riser. BP stated this am the junk shot was mildly successful, so I imagine they are recalibrating again for another, hopfully more success run later today or tonight.

I think they are on the right track now. I never did understand the logic behind the mud only "battle of rate flows". think of it like a tire with a small nail hole. they insist on inflating it with an overwhelming air supply. those familiar with the tire plugging additives ("slime" etc) know the first action is to plug the hole with particulate bridge material, then the added pressure can proceed to fill the tire.
I may be understanding things wrong, it seemed the original "junk shot" was portrayed as a means to push junk DOWN the bore in hopes of plugging the bore pipe. the same impression was taken away from the understanding of the mud only attempt. It seems a better attempt would have been to include some small amount of "junk" in with the mud. this would let the rubber chunks bridge the bop top leaks (the nail hole in the leaking tire analogy). then the preponderance of mud applied would be more effective to push down the oil column in the bore. it seems the old methods and usual ideas of standard "pumping mud" ignore the fact that there is a pressure relieving leak that does not allow the great mile column of mud pressure above to perform as they accustomed to.

The public's understanding of what is happening is based on technical information that's been through several rounds of the 'telephone' game with non-technical people.

I wouldn't assume anything you're hearing has anything to do with reality.

Gosh there sure is a lot of conflicting information out there.

We're told that the mud has, perhaps temporarily, stopped the flow of oil and gas. Yet CNN has a headline that would seem to indicate that they are NOT pumping mud at the moment but will resume doing so later today. But we can see that there is still high pressure flow from the holes in the riser which would indicate that the well is still flowing. Nobody seems to be telling the same story this morning.

BP and Coast Guard are doing a terrible job communicating status of the operation. No wonder people are beginning to distrust everything said. Sort of makes some of the armchair analysis that appears here pointless (but very interesting never the less).

FWIW: Like many of the people posting comments the last few days, I'm just a tourist here. I want to thank those with experience and know-how for their contributions (HO, sheldon, ROCKMAN, I have to admit I am sorry you guys are sort of being drowned out by the number of commenters that have appeared once people discovered The Oil Drum is one of the few sites that provides any sort of analysis of the oil spill activity of the last few weeks.

It has been an incredible learning experience for me. Thanks.


If any measurement method could verify that fist 40 feet of well bore below BOP is free for drill pipe then

Clean cut well pipe below BOP. Remove BOP.
Oil/Gas flow increases to absolute maximum of well capasity > 50 000 bb pr day.
If well pipe below BOP has an diameter of 30"
Make a 60 feet pipe with outside diameter of 30.1"
Fill that with liquid nitrogen make weak seals at both ends.
Attach valves at top.
Lower the cold pipe which now has a diameter of 29.5" due to the cold nitrogen.
The pipe will slide down the existing well bore 40 feet.
The oil will push out the nitrogen thru the weak seals and the pipe start expanding as it heats up.
Now is the new pipe held in place mostly by extreme friction and a little help by its own weight.
Wait until pipe is finished heating up.
Close valves at top gradually and oil flow is stopped.
Have valves made ready below closing valves to pump in mud and when well is killed open valves go in and plug it.

After lurking a while, I decided to open an account here, so, first of all - Hello everyone and thanks for the great info so far.

Now let me say a few words to your suggestion, 8ball. I am no petro guy, but I have some experience with cryo-tech, albeit rather on a lab-scale than on a huge engineering scale. However, the problem I see here is the same as with other LN2 suggestions I have read in the last couple of days: How to get the stuff down there? If you just fill the pipe that you want to use for the press fit at the surface and lower it, you gotta take into account that the LN2 will boil off before you are halfway there - you got no insulation at all and it probably will take hours to get it into position. By the time you reach bottom, your pipe is at ambient temperature again. I have seen often enough how fast the stuff boils off when you start cooling down a cryomagnet from room temp to LN2 temp, even if it is encased in a Dewar. Lowering a Dewar is out of the question, too, as you need vacuum insulation to keep the LN2 liquid. That would simply be crushed by water pressure. Some engineer may correct me, but I just don't see a way.

Apart from that, even if you get the pipe down, the top valve will restrict the flow as soon as you lower it into the bore, exerting an upward force. How can it be forced down 40 feet against this pressure? Then there is the issue of embrittlement. As much as I like the idea of simply building an interference fit, but I don't see how it could be done.

You could bring the LN2 down in the large containers it comes in from the factory (200 or 300 bar) and use it to chill the structure at the bottom only. Those container bottles will have no problem withstanding the pressure at depth. Regarding containing a vacuum at that depth is equally difficult as containing atmospheric pressure like the inner sections of the ROV's: there is just 1 bar pressure difference between atmospheric pressure and a vacuum... while every 10 meters of water column equals 1 bar.

You are thinking of gaseous N2 - that comes at 200-300 bar. Liquid gases are largely pressure-free, you usually have an overpressure valve on the container that blows off evaporated gas. I am no expert on ROVs, but I doubt that they have any significant internal spaces held at 1 bar. Steel is awfully bad under compression load, so it would be way more sensible to equilibrate pressure.

Round (steel) cillinders are very capable of handling compressing load. Submarines, a bathyscaphe are designed as cillinders for that just reason. An ROV will have some airtight pressure free compartments, mainly for electronics, batteries and cameras etc.

Liquid nitrogen is stored in containers and evaporates slowly due to heat flux coming in from outside the container. The vapor causes the pressure in the container to rise from the initial 0 to e.g. 200 bar after which a safety valve will bleed the excess pressure. So a full container will be almost all liquid nitrogen and a little bit nitrogen gas. The internal pressure is higher then the surrounding pressure at depth so there really is no problem in getting LN2 down to that depth.

The top of the well bore is almost certainly not free of drill pipe.

How exactly are you going to get liquid nitrogen down to the bottom of the gulf of mexico?

gb -- let me offer a summary of where I think we are right now. I think I have all the facts but if not someone will point out the error. One confusion seems to be the source of the oil/NG leak. Some focus on the oil/NG coming out of different sections of the riser. The riser isn't the source of the oil/NG. It's coming out of the well head/BOP. Some of that flow may be entering the riser and leaking elsewhere out of it. But if every hole in the riser were plugged the same amount of oil/NG would be leaking into the GOM from the well head/BOP. As far as the top kill working I don't think we can tell that ourselves from watching the video. The top kill is a simple concept: pump drilling mud into the well head/BOP at a sufficient pressure to stop the oil/NG flowing out. If the connection between the well head/BOP and the line carrying the mud wasn't leaking then this would be a standard kill process: increase pump pressure high enough to push the oil/NG back down the csg into the rocks at the bottom of the well. But the connection apparently leaks like a sieve. An earlier report indicated they had pumped 30,000 bbls of mud down. But the csg in the blow out can only hold a max of 1,400 bbls of mud if it were completely filled. Obviously most of the mud leaked out.

Can we tell if oil/NG is flowing out of the well or if we're watching the drilling mud leaking out? We can't because we don't know exactly when they have the mud pumps working or not. Of course, BP knows. If they have the pumps off and they see something flowing out of the well head/BOP it can only be one thing: oil/NG. More importantly they would also know they haven't killed the well. If the pumps are on they will see lots of stuff flowing. Be it the mud leaking or the oil/NG continuing to flow is anyone's guess at that point. And killing a flowing well is exactly like being pregnant: you either are or you're not. You can't partially stop a well from flowing. If you did get some kill mud down the well but if it's still flowing then that mud is coming right back up and out the well. That is the basic definition of a blow out. If you've gotten enough mud down the hole to stop the flow then you've stopped the flow. But it might not be stopped for good. Any NG that might still be escaping into the well at the bottom can mix with the mud and lighten it enough to cause the head to be lost and begin the well flowing. Such "gas cut mud" is often the cause of many well control situations.

Again, maybe I missed something so please, anyone, point it out.

If the gas content were high enough (or if it's some kind of gas phase down there), what would keep the mud from running out the bottom and into the reservoir until the well was open again? The heavier liquid could hold down a lighter liquid (if they don't mix?), but I don't see what would prevent a gas from just bubbling through it.

Does anyone know what the well head pressure is?

Weeks old data, 8,000 to 9,000 psi below the BOP, seawater + 400 psi above the BOP.


Thanks Alan for info. Ya BOP not a wellhead my mistake

Not exactly sure what is going on down there, but I swear I saw one of the ROvs doing a seabed survey, then it started shaking violently, it panned over to one of the leaking riser pipes which had a huge plume coming out, and the screen went black. Now we are seeing a perfectly clear video. Why do I get the feeling we are watching old video right now? Theres no way things cleared up that quickly.

BP needs to fire their PR firm. They have no credibility left with me at all after this. Same for Thad Allen.

If I told my boss things were working over and over and their were live web cams clearly showing the contrary I'm pretty sure I'd be walked out the door in no time.

Good thing we at least have the webcam feeds, huh? How much worse would it be had people here (and elsewhere) not been so vocal in their protests?

Kinda reminds me of the scene at the end in Animal House, where the frat's "deathmobile" is driving into the stands, people are screaming, and Kevin Bacon is holding is hands up screaming "all is well...all is well."

Sorry for the intrusion, I've been following and reading since only last night. A huge wealth of knowledge and information and for that I thank you all.
Now to my question. If they stopped pumping yesterday and they are not currently pumping today, what exactly is spewing from that bent pipe? It doesn't look like oil, colorwise at least and it looks like the stuff that they said was mud. But if they aren't pumping or they have stopped the leak, what exactly is the yellow/brown stuff?

BP pumps the mud down the well. When they stop pumping, the well pressure pushes the mud back out through the leaks. They say they were testing the process, but now I'm not sure what they are doing. They seem to have attempted a junk shot to try and slow the leaks. Doesn't seem to be working to well yet.

So it is mud, wow how, since they are supposedly not pumping that's a whole lotta mud still in there. I am so confused.


Don't get the wrong impression from the videos. The stuff you're currently seeing venting probably contains a little bit of mud, but it's MOSTLY oil-gas mixture.

From what I understand, it looks deceptively red/brown because is is broken into a pretty fine dispersion by its high-velocity exit through the side of the riser.

Thanks for the explanation newdood, I guess I was just being hopeful.
This situation is just so beyond depressing.

If they stopped pumping yesterday and they are not currently pumping today, what exactly is spewing from that bent pipe?

My guess? A mix of lies, over-simplifications, misunderstandings and CYA.


I'm inclined to be in full agreement.

"pumping out comment of the day

What source are you looking at? I am not sure if we see live pictures anymore. If you look at the explosion which has been posted at

I am viewing this feed.
Which will occasionally show multiple views then just one.

I think what the YouTube video shows is debris ejected from a Junk Shot that is now raining down on the ROV. This appears to be from the ROV whose headlights are visible in the still images.

The still images zoom in on the BOP plume. I think the mud flow begins when the milky diffusion appears. Shortly after this, the camera pans so the plume is silhouetted by the other ROV lights. Then there is apparent increase of diffuse muddy flow and chunks of debris flying around.

The debris appears to be mud colored or atleast covered in mud. I don't think this would be the case if something ruptured.

So I think it was a junk shot. The question being how much stuck inside and if there was any increase in back-pressure.

If the CNN multi-screen image is live, it looks like the BOP riser leak is unchanged.

Thanks for the comment. I have no problem to follow this argumentation with the YouTube video. But what's about the captured still images in the blog? They look quiet different to me.

Oh wow...the drilling moratorium IS 'tools up' for all DW rigs!


Secretary Salazar is ordering a moratorium on drilling of new deepwater wells until the Presidential Commission investigating the BP oil spill has completed its six-month review. In addition, permitted wells currently being drilled in the deepwater (not counting the emergency relief wells being drilled) in the Gulf of Mexico will be required to halt drilling at the first safe stopping point, and then take steps to secure the well. Additional safety checks will be imposed on ongoing deepwater drilling activities as they prepare to shut down their operations. The Department of the Interior will be issuing notices to lessees and other documentation necessary to implement the moratorium.

In addition, permitted wells currently being drilled in the deepwater (not counting the emergency relief wells being drilled) in the Gulf of Mexico will be required to halt drilling at the first safe stopping point, and then take steps to secure the well.

This surprised me. I'm guessing that BP isn't just real popular anywhere right now--from the headquarters of Greenpeace, to the fishing villages on the Gulf Coast, to the Houston Petroleum Club.

In any case, my continuing suggestion--implement the apparent Brazil "Show Me" Rule, whereby drilling contractors, before spudding a deepwater well in Brazilian waters, reportedly have to demonstrate that their BOP shear rams will cut through a length of drill pipe, at depth.

the blanket moratorium is surprising will be hard to put in practice though

all DW rigs have been contracted out to producers ...atleast the next 9 months are contracted out in ranges of $375,000 to 550,000 $/day for every rig capable of DW operations from any drilling contractor ...

if there is a blanket moratorium can't drill ...who is going ot pay whom now ....the contracts are there has been put to paper months ago if Chevron/Exxon can't drill i'm sure they won't just keep handing out half a million dollars a day to Transocean .....on the other hand Trasnocean has a contract that states payment at specified daily rates from Exxon/Chevron ....

support boats, barges, precessing etc many other small businesses too have ink on paper for future contracts on established delivery dates ...

who is going to pay who in all this now .....thought it would be interesting to point this out

True....lotsa work for lawyers coming up!

I don't know if this would count as 'force majeure' in a contract or not.

No way it is force majeure.

Real issues are the economic loss rule, plus the fact that we can be certain that none of the principals are on the line. BP PLC is a limited liability type company, and BP proper is not at risk. Except public relations needs to stay in the good graces of those who own the properties they lease. That would be the US and Mexico. I think that if they bail on the US, Mexico would not let them drill any more than we would.

So, for BP, it is minimize losses, lie a lot and figure that in time people will forget.


ali -- the contracts are voided. Essentially consider an "act of God". A "force majeure" in contract language. I estimated yesterday that the 6 month moratorium would represent a minimum loss of cash flow of $5 billion to the various drilling companies and subcontracts. Maybe 3,000 to 5,000 jobs immediately. Be interesting to see if that revenue loss pushes any of the drilling contractors into bankruptcy or out of business entirely. My guess would be that none of those loses would never be covered by BP.

Very easy to put into practice. The feds have absolute authority in this matter. Drilling in the OCS is a priviledge...not a right.

BPO (Beyond Pissed Off) at BP. . .

I didn't catch the details, but on Good Morning America this morning they had a graphic which showed the number of safety violations (presumably OSHA) for a number of major oil companies. If I got it right, BP was basically in a class all by itself in terms of the number of violations.

Sounds to me that GOM deepwater operators need to basically emulate ExxonMobil:
For BP, a History of Spills and Safety Lapses

The oil industry is inherently more dangerous than many other industries, and oil companies, including BP, strive to reduce accidents and improve safety. But BP, the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer, has a worse health, environment and safety record than many other major oil companies, according to Yulia Reuter, the head of the energy research team at RiskMetrics, a consulting group that assigns scores to companies based on their performance in various categories, including safety.

The industry standard for safety, analysts say, is set by Exxon Mobil, which displays an obsessive attention to detail, monitors the smallest spill and imposes scripted procedures on managers. Before drilling a well, for example, it runs elaborate computer models to test beforehand what the drillers might encounter. The company trains contractors to recognize risky behavior and asks employees for suggestions on how to improve safety. It says it has cut time lost to safety incidents by 12 percent each year since 2000.

Analysts credit that focus, in part, to the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez grounding, which spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. “Whatever you think of them, Exxon is now the safest oil company there is,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy expert at Rice University.

Rockman, Contracts are definitely not voided immediately. Usually what happens is that if a Force Majeure situation kicks in then a Force Majeure Day-Rate kicks in: Usually about 50% of the full day-rate. This would still be payable by the oil company to the contractor. Then, if this situation continues for more than 60 or more commonly 90 or 180 days then either party will have the right to terminate the contract. Ie. the oil companies will still have to pay the rig companies for at least 60 days and maybe much longer. They may also have to pay the demob. (Depending on the Force Majeure terms negotiated). But the contracts are definitely not voided. By the way Rockman: Thank you for all your excellent input on the technical side of what is going on.

Nordic-- yeah you're comments sound like what i've heard of in these cases.

i wonder if this is going to break the rig insurance industry ...i was speaking with pal from the rig risk management side ....seems like there is a good chance most big rig insurers are having a tough look at their tables ....word round the block being risk associated with catastrophic failure was rated quiet low in their calculations was the risk associated with human error ....(i think this is still true ..this spill or not) but it seems like small tweaks in their assumptions of these two base parameters is bound to push a few players out of the rig insurance game.......

another thing he mentioned was interesting also ......this moratorium is about to compound the effect ...another huge base assumption is being called under check here.....the risk factor for knee jerk gov intervention is considered negligible when rigs insurers are insured by re-insurers in the US(standard approach to rig insurance ...most major rig insurers are partly involved in insurance of almost every big rig ...only way for insurers to survive huge claims generated when things go wrong DW by spreading risk across the board)...just this risk can account for 35-40 % to insurance costs in unstable regions like middle east or other crazy if this moratorium takes effect ....insurers will have to include the risk of govt intervention into their insurance costs.......this can potentially make some rigs uninsured unless rates are jacked up considerably....

the winds of change be a'blowin ...and it aint a gentle breeze either

Rockman and Nordic Mist: You would have to read each separate contract to be sure of its definitions. For instance, it's not likely, but each contract could define what Force Majeur means in a slightly different way. Usually industry standard definitions are used and accepted. Vague or novel definitions are the enemy here. If terms are not defined in the contract, then you would have to rely on "customary in the industry" or case law or statutory law for the definition of terms in that jurisdiction. If there are no jurisdictional definition of the terms and/or no one can agree on the meaning of the terms, then pack your briefcase... it's off to see the judge 'cause we're gonna establish a little precedent here. But the courts which would have jurisdiction over most drilling contracts most certainly would have been down this or similar roads before.

Rockman and Nordic Mist: You would have to read each separate contract to be sure of its definitions. For instance, it's not likely, but each contract could define what Force Majeur means in a slightly different way. Usually industry standard definitions are used and accepted. Vague or novel definitions are the enemy here. If terms are not defined in the contract, then you would have to rely on "customary in the industry" or case law or statutory law for the definition of terms in that jurisdiction. If there are no jurisdictional definition of the terms and/or no one can agree on the meaning of the terms, then pack your briefcase... it's off to see the judge 'cause we're gonna establish a little precedent here. But the courts which would have jurisdiction over most drilling contracts most certainly would have been down this or similar roads before. RTFC.

IANAL, but my memory of a Business Law class is that contracts include a force majeure clause. This lets both parties out of their obligations when an outside force prevents performance of the contract obligations -- weather, acts of God, government, and so forth. I'm sure lawyers are already working on this among all parties.

And the comment about other moratoriums (e.g. 9/11 flying) was absolutely correct. Was there government assistance to the airlines after that? I can't remember.

One additional facet strikes me about this. It has the nice side effect of being a shot across Transocean's bow...I would not be surprised if there are people like the IRS who are not thrilled with their tax moves. It's a shame that the smaller size businesses in the GOM are also being affected.

And the comment about other moratoriums (e.g. 9/11 flying) was absolutely correct. Was there government assistance to the airlines after that? I can't remember.

I seem to recall that they did give the airlines some assistance. (It's far enough back that I won't go further than that, and my opinion of it is not flattering to the gummint.)

major difference between what hpnd w/ airliens after 9/11 and this moratorium though

1- public sentiment...airlines didnot have a ton of oil killing bayous and marshes all over the coast

2- finances involved .....airspace was locked down for what a week or so after 9/11 ...this is a 6 month lockdown of drilling ...even tools up for wells being drilled ....the costs of running a DW GOM rigs ..just the leasing cost on the development driller rig is 500,000 a day...that take to 6 months is 90 million just on one rig govt can deal with such huge numbers..someone posted the economic impact for this to be 5 billion ....that means around 85 million/day for 6 straight months that needs to be compensated ... no govt can agree to this .....

On the other hand, airline finances were in bad shape even before 9/11. Without some assistance, there would have been a flood of failures and enough mergers to seriously dent competition.

It's going to be harder for the oil industry to make those claims when profit numbers have been famously high -- even if those numbers have been only for the more successful production firms and not reflective of the equipment makers, rig operators, etc.

In any case, my continuing suggestion--implement the apparent Brazil "Show Me" Rule, whereby drilling contractors, before spudding a deepwater well in Brazilian waters, reportedly have to demonstrate that their BOP shear rams will cut through a length of drill pipe, at depth.

In this case though it likely would not have made any difference it seems because the BOP hydraulics did not charge when Transocean's Chris Pleasant hit EDS according to his testimony. The EDS panel light changed colour but the pressure gauges showed nothing happening. He confirmed this with BP Company man Donald Vidrine who was standing next to him at the panel.

oh I'm sure the big sharks can climb this little 6 month hump ....

there are intangibles at work here that cannot be recovered at this point with the small business owner .....things like Tug boat cap's, support vessels cap's they already have their engines rebuilt using bank loans ....the bank approved the loans same as they've been doing cap'n bubbas loan for rebuilding marine engines in feb-mar for 30 yrs by bubba in all good faith mind you is expecting this seasons income to pay the bank back ....he needs to to ever get the loan again ... this kinda setups are common ....very very common out in LA especially ....

and I don't really know if this can be construed as an act of god ..... this is a man made law (moratorium) made in the wake of human error .....the logs on this website show a good 90 minutes of time frame where indicators were everywhere...whatever decision made earlier there was enough time just in those logs to prevent catastrophic failure .....god's only input in this catastrophic failure was gravity ....i'm sure lawyers will duke it out as usual...

In any case, my continuing suggestion--implement the apparent Brazil "Show Me" Rule,

Brazilians have always been about showing. Here you go...

We stopped airplanes from flying after 9/11 until we figured out what went wrong. We stopped Shuttles from launching after Columbia and Challenger until we figured out what went wrong. This is no different and is the right call.

We didn't stop airplanes for six months.

Why? Not because terrorists boarding became impossible. But because it hadn't happened like that before and could be verified an outlier.

It shouldn't take MMS six months to determine that this was an outlier.

How long to verify that a BOP is working, have an executive sign that under penalty of imprisonment if not true, and a bureacrat to check the signature?

IMHO, an executive's signature on a piece of paper doesn't mean a bloody thing - even if such signature is notarized by the president himself.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll believe the BOP is working if it has been SHOWN to work - AT DEPTH.

Implement the Brazilian "show-me" rule and make it retroactive to cover ANY rig currently operating.

List of impacted operators:

Link is to a word doc listed in this article.

Here is the list of the owners of the 33 deepwater wells that are being required under the 6-month moratorium to come to a halt at a safe stopping point and shut down operations.

LLOG Exploration
Walter Oil & Gas
BHP Billiton
BHP Billiton

Has the temperature of the effluent been published? I imagine it sharply contrasts with the temperature of the surrounding deep ocean water.

Could this contrast not be used to our advantage with the use of a bimetal valve/plug? Think bi-metal tampon.

Main cylinder of the plug could contain a metal with a high thermal coefficient like aluminum or brass with a top and bottom of steel. The cylinder would expand as it is dropped from the cold seawater into the relatively warm riser. Since the base has the same thermal coefficient as the riser, any thermal expansion would occur horizontally and seal the leak.

Of course, all this assumes we can make a clean cut and subdue the flow enough to make the insertion. Would a sharply tapered bi-metal plug work?

The only access ports at current are through two 3" hoses.

Even if one succeedes to insert the plug against the pressure of the well and keep it in position long enough for the bi-metal to expand and clamp itself, this would stop the flow of oil and therefore the flux of heat towards the plug. Seawater will cool the structure down, bimetal plug deforms to the original shape and the plug is released...

Instead of cutting the damaged riser and then *try* to dock and attach a new BOP (top hat?) on top of the current one, why not simply detach the failed BOP from the wellhead and attach a new one to it ?

The challenge is the same (docking a BOP on top of a pipe flowing oil) but they get to do it on a clean connector (wellhead) instead of a damaged one (bent riser).

Is that even possible ?

The existing BOP is reducing the flow and therefore makes it easier to install another on top ???

BP claims the BOP is restricting the flow. Removing the BOP would increase the flow rate of oil and natural gas into the ocean. If the new BOP could not be attached, the flow could be at the higher level for months until a successful relief well is completed. BP does not want to make the leak worse.

There are two main differences between the two operations:

1. The flow escaping from the top of the existing BOP is at least somewhat choked down by the internals of the BOP. I understand there's a pressure drop (several thousand psi) between the choke/kill ports and the riser kink.

2. If you unlatch the existing BOP from the wellhead, you have to do SOMETHING with the string of drill pipe that'll come loose with it. I can't remember whether it's supposed to run 3,000 or 8,000 ft down from the BOP, but lifting that out of the hole will take some serious time, even if you just lift it clear and drop it off to the side somewhere.

1. I would think the drill pipe is a significant factor in restricting flow. Maybe pulling that would be a bad idea.

2. Supposedly the junk was going to increase the pressure drop through the BOP. Unfortunately we aren't privy to pressure data, but again I think removing the BOP would result in a big flow increase just based on partial closure of the BOP.

3. We don't know how much progress has been made on the relief well. Initial estimates were 60-90 days. Could it be the relief well is coming in at the 60 day end of things? That would give us about 3 weeks to intersection. Could they pump mud for 3 weeks?

4. Cutting the riser - I have heard it stated that the pressure drop through the riser bend isn't that significant so that's not so bad. But what are they going to attach to the riser? If it's kinda hokey like the siphon at the riser end it's not exactly going to be a 100% efficient collector.

When asked about the chances that the Top Kill technique would succeed, an (BP?) engineer a couple of days ago stated that the pressure drop across the blow out preventer (BOP) was a lot lower than what they initially thought. The likely cause for this is that the BOP is eroded from the last 6 weeks of flow through it.


I'm surprised no one seems to have pointed this out, but obviously this video is not live, since you can clearly see fast forwarding and rewinding at times.

That said, the time stamp is correct for the US Central Time Zone.

So, they are delaying the feed, and adding an incorrect time stamp.

I'm with you MrFish...I went to CNN to check out their muliple screens and ROV 1 & 2, and Enterprise ROV 1 & 2 are virtually in the dark..with very low visibility. The only one with perfect visibility is the one we are viewing now. Something isn't jiving. But then again, we are talking about BP, who hasn't been forthcoming with anything to do with this disaster.

The question seems to be - minutes, hours, or a loop?

I think it's worth pointing a few things out. This disaster for the US government, amongst many other things, is a national security issue. This means that what goes on at the bottom of the ocean in dealing with the issue is going to have a strong element of governmental control, from decisions made to information released.

My guess is that they decided that the images were better shown via a feed, but in order to control what was shown and when, there is a delay in showing them. Indeed I'd be astonished if this wasn't the case or if they chose not to make it so.

I believe that there is a US bill (Rex 22?) that allows them to seize control over privately owned companies in times of national security issues. This might or might not be the case here, but I'd be mightily surprised if the delay in information and the overall smoke and mirrors could be laid fair and square at the feet of BP, as it is not only them with interests to protect....

So whilst all the technical knowledge is really useful, it's clearly hard to pin down exactly what's happening when the image don't always, or at all, match the reports from BP staff . This is perhaps worth keeping in mind.

This means that what goes on at the bottom of the ocean in dealing with the issue is going to have a strong element of governmental control, from decisions made to information released.

BP indicated this in discussing the rate yesterday afternoon. They stated that their estimate was 1000-16000 BBL/Day and was highly uncertain but that the Incident Command decided to publish the 1000, and later 5000 rates.

Well there's one example.

Id lay my yearly wage that the government has its arms in this up to the elbows and you cant bet they are quite happy to let BP take the flack whilst making many important decisions behind the scenes and controlling the flow of information as best they can. Again, this is a national security issues and not just an oil spill.

For as long as the Government can avoid getting any direct blame for how this is going why would they want to be seen to be in direct charge? Far better to let BP continue to take the flack until it reaches the point (if it goes so) that the Government has to be seen to step in due to public pressure. Does anyone think after Katrina the US government wants to be seen to be in charge of another disaster?

And I know I saw something blow @9:20 am and I know I saw some huge plume heading right towards one of the ROV @ 12:10pm before things went black and then they started showing the leaks on the BOP with perfectly clear visibility.

I was watching the feed shortly after 9 AM EST. At around 9:10, the camera panned up, showing the upper, turbulent part of the leak from the bent riser. Then it swung to the left, showing a lot of debris swirling around, and stayed in that position for some time.

Just a change of viewing direction, nothing blew up.

I've been staring at the footage posted of the "explosion" and I think it wasn't quite as bad as all that. The actual riser pipe didn't change much, but chunks seem to have started to come out of the cracks. They backed the ROV away to be clear of the chunks, but as they back away they're backing through the big cloud of diffuse mud+oil sitting *above* the riser leak, so things looked really bad on camera. But if you pay close attention to where the riser is in the frame, you'll see that the actual area around the riser is pretty much unchanged. It's just you're "flying" through the big mud cloud above it.

After the chunk-spewing incident (something obviously let go, but it could have just been another pressure kick from the well which suddenly expelled the mud column, like happened in the original incident; doesn't *necessarily* mean there's any additional damage to the riser or BOP), it makes sense that they could fly the ROV back into position underneath the mud cloud and end up w/ roughly the same picture as below, albeit with slightly larger cracks (probably some of the earlier 'junk' got dislodged, and there was probably some erosion).

I don't *know* anything, but that's one possible explanation of the incident.

From looking at it seems even clearer that there wasn't an "explosion", the ROV just backed away from the riser, into the big debris cloud overhead.

Were the moon landings also faked? Lots of people think so. Some people even today think there's a vast conspiracy promoting the lie of Round Earth Theory.

Take a step back, examine what's going on in your head, and you might get a glimpse into how seemingly sane people allow themselves to believe utterly insane things.

Not exactly sure what you are getting at comfychair, but I know what i saw earlier. And all you have to do is check out the CNN site and see that there are 4 ROV's virtually in the dark...4 ROV's that were doing things earlier this morning. And now the only clearly visible one is the video feed we are viewing now. All of these ROVs are in the same vicinity, correct?

Not exactly sure what you are getting at comfychair, but I know what i saw earlier. And all you have to do is check out the CNN site and see that there are 4 ROV's virtually in the dark...4 ROV's that were doing things earlier this morning. And now the only clearly visible one is the video feed we are viewing now. All of these ROVs are in the same vicinity, correct?

The speed ups and slow downs are due to buffering. I have never seen a rewind on any feed. I do not believe anyone is intentionally faking timestamps.

(My first post as generally literate non-pro, pardon any naivety.)
Transparency "not really there" indeed!
I presume OP means to include literal transparency of water? But mainly we're talking "transparency" the professional and administrative virtue, correct? As others have noted, I still see the billowing brown cloud amid conflicting reports of how successful or uncertain. Is BP still dodging and weaving at this late and even less forgivable juncture?
BTW, you folks might be interested in relevant discussions at Washington Monthly, they need some pro input to balance the political junkies venting forth (unfortunate pun there, sorry.)

Like many others have written, this is a great site coalescing excellent technical information from people in the industry. In fact, I recommend that many of the lurkers use that PayPal button on the side to help with the increased bandwidth.

But I think it's time to weed the garden and the moderators need to dust off that "delete thread" button. I don't want to see the expertise diluted by posts from Wikipedia about elves and equivalent nonsense.

There's an apocryphal story that Thomas Edison used to have a sign in his shop that read "Every man has a scheme that will not work." I've been seeing more Monster Garage ideas here lately and, frankly, it's getting old.

Moderators please help and don't let this turn into a Slashdot/DIGG scene.


Ha! I agree Dan! What part of 13,000 psig do these goofs not understand!
What happens when you put a projectile in a pipe and expand it to fit the pipe with pressure behind it? The worlds largest cannon comes to mind ha!
Wow, I thought people coming here would have at least a high school understanding of physics ha!

landrew, this is a high school understanding of physics!! But I have to agree with you and Dan!

1. We have been whittling. Believe me.
2. USE THE COMMENT MODERATION SYSTEM--see the "Flag as inappropriate" and (?) beside it? Learn more there.
3. If you see comments that are questionable after you've done that (that aren't being removed), let us know.
4. It is up to this community to enforce the norms we have established here (a high signal to noise ratio), keep. it. up.

Thank you, Prof. Goose. If community does not enforce the rules of Signal/Noise, it will fall victim, like many others have, to Godwin's Law. ("As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.") Be. Very. Careful.

I am proposing another law, the Inanity Factor.
An ability to form a correct sentence says nothing about one's insights into logic, physics or general science.

I've experienced physical distress at reading many of the questions and proposals posed by people who wish to solve the problem with the gusher. It is apparent that while we have lots of schools, on different levels, they do very little science, logic or training in common sense.

There is also the repeated suggestion factor. I am so tired of seeing suggestions that we nuke the well, for instance. Before you post, go back a few weeks and see how many times your question has been answered.


I would also like to throw in that during highly "technical" posts/situations, it is best to keep the non-tech comments over in the Drumbeat. I have to remind myself again and again, but it's really best.

Looks like the leak is spewing harder now then ever. Maybe they are pumping again and have added more "junk" to try and stop the holes.

How can they tell where the junk is going once inside the BOP. Assume is floats and rises, but who knows.

What a balancing act: They could pump with a lot more PSI but don't want to blow the BOP or make the holes bigger. The mud is probably "downhole" a bit, but how far? The leaks decrease the pressure, and the flow of mud increases the pressure. But the oil stays in place (which is a good thing, but not a perm solution).

If they stop pumping the pressure subsides and the oil raises again.

Meanwhile, they hope the junk is able to stop up enough holes at the top of the BOP to get a more positive pressure downhole.

Meanwhile, the mud supply can't go on forever.

Meanwhile, the entire planet is watching in horror and rapt fascination.

Meanwhile, the weather is deteriorating.

Oh, and its all done with robots at the bottom of the ocean (5000ft of freezing water).

I see cartoon with a BP Petro Eng spinning two dozen plates at once.

New to this site, so can I record my thanks to all involved, and especially to those who have been kind enough to share their knowledge and expertise. Unbelievably, this seems to be about the only site that has up to the moment info. on what is going on.

I have been a very small BP shareholder for some 25 years, and I am ashamed, not because of the accident (though I will be if BP turn out to have been at fault - but let's concentrate on fixing, rather than speculating at this point), but because of the lack of info. about what is going on.

I have a terrible fear: a judgement has been made that the only solution is a relief well in c3 months time. The current activity is just window dressing - 'we tried everything'.

I dearly, dearly hope that I am wrong.

Thanks again for the site, and my thoughts are with all those that are suffering from this, in whatever way.

Just to go off tangent very quickly (and there is a reason which I'll come back to), can someone post a brief technical explanation of why the Macondome didn't work ? How did the hydrates affect it ? I've read the various news reports but none of them have any definitive detail.

I have angry thoughts that they screwed up majorly on that one. I would have put a submersible pump down there and pumped the crap out of it to the surface.

Here's an attempt at an explanation.

You know how you can add salt to ice to make the ice melt? What's happening is that the salt+ice mixture has a lower freezing temperature than uncontaminated ice, so it melts (at the same temperature that the pure ice stays frozen at).

Roughly: methane + water does the opposite. The methane molecule gets trapped in a lattice of water molecules, and the result has a *higher* freezing point than pure ice. So if you add some methane to water, at the temperatures and pressures we're talking about at the bottom of the gulf, you get instance ice. "Hydrates".

So, basically, the macondome very quickly "iced over". The top filled with ice, the pipe filled with ice, it's all plugged up and solid.

You ever try to pump out solid ice? Doesn't work so well.

So, how do you get rid of the hydrate ice? Not easy, at depth. You basically have to haul the thing up and hack it out (actually, as you haul it up the pressure changes and the "ice" melts, details details).

Having their equipment "ice up" seems to be one of the biggest practical problems with trying to plug this thing. One idea was to pump lots of methanol down around the equipment. Methanol is kinda like salt with regular ice. The methanol+methane+water mixture doesn't freeze as easily. I believe they are doing this with the "riser insertion tube". But it's tricky: any place with poor methanol flow is going to ice up, and those ice chunks can break off and clog up your tubes.

It would be nice if you could force everything to "ice up" to plug the leak, but unfortunately it doesn't quite work like that. The fast flowing methane will work its way around any restriction out into the open ocean. And the bottom of the gulf is fine soft mud (like a big bowl of pudding) so there's nothing handy to seal against. And the top of the riser pipe is in bad shape, so the worry is that if you did manage to stick a big ice plug in there, if it didn't get blown out immediately by all the back pressure, the back pressure would instead blow out the sides of the riser pipe, and we'd have more leaks, possibly from deep under the mud where we can't get to them.

It's a difficult problem. You need to divert all that oil and gas somehow *without* exerting a lot of back pressure on the riser pipe and the BOP, in an environment where it's very difficult to get a good seal and where any leaks in the seal quickly grow ice chunks that can plug up the works. (Think ice-9, if you've read Vonnegut.)

Okay, Scott. Sop tell me, is the principal cause of the the Macondome failure down to saltwater in the dome ?

Come on ya'll. I learned a hell of a lot here from people I will always respect. But now it seems that a lot of posters are talking about feelings.

Give the top kill a chance, it just may work.
Although I wouldn't make a bet on it without getting some good odds.

It is not over yet!

Too true, this has to blow out a lot of whats pumped in to counter act the wellbore pressure, with this high GOR reported why cant some type of freezing agent be used to creat an ice plug at the Casing Bowl? Is the lack of cement back to surface a deterent to this? Is the leak up in the 9 & 5/8 section, heaven forbid.
Prayers to the lost 11
"You cant solve a problem with the knowledge that created it" A.I.

Yep, looks like the site has been taken over by newbe conspiracy theorists. This particular newbe would like to see posts from folks who actually know more that what they saw on 'Good Morning America' or how much they hate the oil companies.

Regarding the link with the sequence of shots taken earlier today:

Doesn't it kind of look like the robot lost its grip on the BOP with its 'left paw' and drifted up into the material blowing out of the top of the leaking riser?

I agree. It has neither worked nor failed (caveat - include 12 hours for BP to make an announcement of either.) It's essentially an experiment. They try some things, stop it and assess data, make adjustments and retry. The teams, which include people from many service companies and at least some of the majors, are not going to participate in a BP theater performance. These guys think this can work. If they conclude it cannot work, they will quit instantly and move to the next solution (on which they are most likely doing simultaneous work.) As long as they think they are making progress on Top Kill, they are going to keep improving their solution and its odds of eventual success by continued experimenting.

I feel sorry for the guys when it's time for tripping pipe on the relief wells. A different sort of pressure.

Speaking of which....

Does anybody know how foar they are on the relief wells? Running casing, and pumping cement used to seem almost like days off to me. For the guys on the relief wells, oo I shudder to think about it.

Back in the day, after I left mudlogging I did a stint as an MWD Hand for Sperry Sun, I dreaded the thought of a tool failure--does anybody know if the relief wells are using Formation Evaluation While Drilling, or just survey stuff to help the directional driller? Either way, a tool failure would suck badly, but I always thought failures were less likely when they just ran surveys.

Apologies for the semi-rambling post, but I can see some strong conlicting needs for a relief well: A need for as much info as possible, combined with a need for speed.

As of May 19th RW1 was drilling out of the 22" casing at around 9000ft. RW2 was drilling out of the conductor at around 5500ft on the same data.

A bit more technical information;

The Blow out preventer (BOP) consists of Ram Type Preventers (one of which is the shear ram) and Annular Type Preventers. The Ram Preventers are rated at 15,000psi. The Annulars (2 off) are rated at 10,000psi.
The riser extends from the BOP to surface, and is connected to the BOP with the LMRP (Lower Marine Riser Package). The riser is not rated for high pressure, and it's pressure rating is considerably less than the BOP. The riser is the weak link in the chain.
If the riser holes are plugged during the top kill then the pressure build up in the riser from the continuing pumping from surface, and from the well has to be managed to below the rupture pressure of the riser. The riser has already been weakened as a result of the crimping from its fall to the sea floor.
The top kill in this case is a very complex operation, and I wish the team well.

Thanks for reading.

May 28, 2010
Watching BP's video feed.
11:10 CDT Mil # 22 ROV is monitoring the leaks in the riser at the top of the BOP. It does not look like an explosion ruptured the riser here.

11:44 CDT Mil # 22 ROV is monitoring the leaks in the riser at the top of the BOP. The leaks on the left are spewing light material and the ones on the right, dark material.

12:32 CDT Mil # 21 ROV is monitoring the kill side of the BOP facing southwest. The water is murky with lots of white flakes floating around. No apparent leaks.

Some more technical information:

On land based blowouts the well kill specialists aim, where possible, to get the blowout flowing vertical by cutting away any structure, well head etc. to leave a clean open ended pipe. From this point they can install a connection to which they can install a new BOP (open), make the connection secure, and then close the BOP (normally with an outlet below the BOP open so that the well fluids blowing out are not subject to a 'hard shut in' which may undo some of the remedial work just done.

Move now to the Deepwater Horizon BOP and the next step of installing a new BOP on top of the existing BOP. The same well kill specialists are on the job and the procedure will be the same as that described above. The question will be whether they use the riser (cutting the riser near the top of the BOP) and swallow it with a packer type connection on the bottom of the new BOP, or use a new LMRP to replace the original one. The latter option would allow a higher pressure rating of the connection between the BOPs (new and existing). The former option, the riser, would result in a weaker (lower pressure)connection.(see earlier post on the riser weak link).

I would guess that in any case the first step (as has been stated by BP) is to cut away everything apart from a short riser stub. The evaluation of how the well is behaving at that time will influence with option will be used.

Thanks for reading.

If that is what they are going to do why would they have delayed this long to try it? Is it just because they figured they had to wait until there were no other options for PR purposes or because there is some very risky part to doing this that might not work at all. Thanks for all of the outstanding comments by real prof. . It is very reassuring and I tweet this site often as America needs some real honest info not the PR from bp and govt and media. God Bless Dave


The reason for not progressing with the cut of the riser until after the top kill attempt is the concern that it will allow greater quantity of oil and gas to exit the well. The step they are taking now, the top kill to try to stem the flow from the inside of the BOP, will if successful, remove this risk of greater levels of oil and gas flowing from the well.

Having said that, if the top kill is less than successful and they do cut the riser to cap the well with another BOP then it is probable that increase in oil and gas flows will result, at least until they establish the new BOP on top, i.e. things may have to get worse before they get better.

Thank you.

for IRC go to this ADRESS
then put a user and in channel #theoildrum

Question: If the flow is coming up between two casing strings, according to a BP executive in this article and not the main well bore, how will junk shot address the problem?

Also, are they sending the Top Kill mud down the main well bore or down the path of the flow?

The junk shot won't do anything about the downhole leak paths. It is intended solely to reduce/stop flow from the kill/choke injection ports up through the BOP and the riser kink.

If the junk shot is successful, then the top kill mud will, at least in theory, follow all paths between the BOP and the producing layer.

We'll have to see how good the theory works out in the real world.

How may golf balls are laying about 1000 yards beyond the broken end of the riser?

What percentage of restriction would cause the plumes to shrink noticeably? Say they restrict 50% of the flow - would the bent riser plumes change much? Opinions? There would still be serious amount of oil/gas/mud flowing under significant pressure into the riser.

Just from a geometrical consideration a factor of 2 in volume corresponds to a 34% reduction in linear dimension. Noticeable to the casual observer? Maybe, maybe not.

I caught the explosion this morning and was able to save a copy of the video, here:

It took my breath away. Working on a better quality version...if anybody's beat me to it please let me know, because I'm fairly new at this, and slow. But to my knowledge nobody else is broadcasting this truly stunning footage.

I am suprised it is not discussed more. Spectacular - and it was strange that for a long time after they did not show the riser pipe.

That's not an explosion, it is an ROV moving from point A to B rather normally, and some mud kicked up by the thrusters. This is like CItizen's band radio... Please stay off the channel if you don't know what you are talking about.

You are right the ROV just pulled back but that video raises a question: are the hydrates that rained down on the ROV coming directly from the leak? Or were they, as you say, kicked up? If they came from the leak then I assume that BP have not overcome the pressure with mud as they are saying they have. That ROV is way up on top of the BOP; so hydrates were kicked up?. What do people think?

I agree with this guy. The video clearly just shows the ROV moving. Some crap falls off of it and material is kicked up by the thrusters. No explosion.

First post. Thank you everyone at TOD. This morning like everyone trying to figure out whats really happening I came across this comment on this story at daily kos. Make any sense ?

comment that got my interest

Allen has this right, but it is confusing (2+ / 0-)
They can now pump enough mud in to keep oil from coming up the pipe from the reservoir. That's some progress - that means that while they are pumping mud, oil isn't entering the gulf. Mud is, but it's water soluble and not that big a deal.

What it demonstrates is that they can get enough back pressure off of the choke at the top of the BOP to theoretically accomplish this. What I mean is, the kink at the top of the BOP where the stuff is leaking out is relatively small in size. That requires the pressure to increase there as the liquid fights to get out the relatively small hole. What they need is for there to be enough pressure in at that kink so that at least some of the mud they pump in under higher pressure would rather go down and push the oil back underground than go up and out the leak. If the backpressure is too low, all they do is pump mud up. If the backpressure is high enough, mud will go down. The difference in those pressures tells us the rate at which they can push the oil back down to the reservoir. If the difference is small, it'll take a really long time and a lot of mud. If they need to stop pumping to switch to a new tank, the oil will push upward, undoing their work, so they need to make a certain minimal progress here.

So, we know there's enough backpressure to overcome the oil. That's what Allen is saying, and that's not nothing. What we don't know is if there's enough backpressure to allow them to fill the column with mud in a reasonable period of time. My guess is 'no'. That's why they want to add more junk, to block up more holes and kinks. It would appear that actually did work last night to get us to the point we're currently at. They also want to increase the weight of the mud, as the sheer weight of it will add to the backpressure as it fills the column.

If they can get enough backpressure and increase the weight of the mud, they then push the oil back to the reservoir and that several mile tall column of heavy mud can hold the oil back due to it's sheer weight. The pressure at the BOP will be neutralized, and then they can pump cement without it getting mixed up and diluted due to turbulence.


They can hold the oil back. Good.
They can't yet fill the pipe, but they have more options. Not bad, not good.
They don't yet know if they can fill the pipe to achieve equilibrium which would result in no material, not oil, not mud coming out the top. That's the goal. If we see that, it'll be temporarily killed.
Allen isn't wrong. He's reporting success at achieving 1). He reported something similar is less clear terms yesterday. Everyone was confused. But there's more to do yet. Some good news, but not yet the news that we need.

Leave it to Republicans to set the house on fire and then rant that the fire department is socialist.

by johnsonwax on Fri May 28, 2010 at 10:17:16 AM PDT

That's why they want to add more junk, to block up more holes and kinks. It would appear that actually did work last night to get us to the point we're currently at.

What's to stop the "junk" from blocking the "kink" that allows flow of mud toward the reservoir?

The kink restricts mud flow away from the well, not toward it.

It seems now, there is much less flow from the right side. Is that a good sign? I hope it isn't just changed view angle etc.

I think that's in part because it's in the shadow of the left side. It looks like the right lamp is out or directed elsewhere. This gives better depth perception, though, and may be intentional.

I wish noobs(like me) would just let the experts post unless they have a very good question. The BP failing booming school, and all that other stuff is a waste of time.

1 thing i did find hilarious was the Navy Admiral thinking he could drop a battle ship on the BOP rofl....hopefully he's retiring soon!

Why do we make this so complicated, The bottom line is there trying to pressurize some thing that has leaks in it, so the more pressure they put on it the the faster the leak gets. So they had pressure it leaks out, add leak add leak, its like using stop leak on a tire that has a whole in the sidewall. Its a noble effort. But I think we all know what the outcome is going to be, LOL on a 70 percent chance of this working.

Now I do need help with this. How can the footprint of this leak be so huge, with the leaks were looking at, see what I mean. There is no way the leak were looking at can make that big of a footprint No way, That would be like if 10 fire hydrants were going full blast it would make a huge mess, but it would not cover 10 sqaure miles 3 feet deep in 40 days, This is not talked about anybody know ?

If you had an engineered "can" of stop leak plumbed into your tire valve stem, you could drive down the road with that tire blowing a major amount of air out a sidewall leak.

What !!! engineered stop leak.

Because it is not 3 ft. deep. In fact, the oil sheen could be as thin as 1 molecule, and in general is only a small fraction of an inch (or mm, either way). So it's more like a surface of a giant soap bubble and it can stretch far and wide.

I have seen reports 3ft deep 4 miles wide and 20 miles long, also they say the most of the oil is down deep, at this point its hard to know how big it is, But like I said there is know way for them to stop this at this point, adding pressure to a leaky pipe won't work. I say in 24 hrs they will give up on this method and go to plan E. At least there trying.

imho this is the strategy behind using dispersant. I believe it's a well thought out plan keeping it off the surface water in order to minimize landfall impact. Hopefully it has enough time where the biological process's can break it down or at least minimize, so we don't have all this oil making landfall. So far it seems to be working out although if it hits the loop current and moves into shallow waters (Florida keys)or a storm/hurricane stirs it up all bets are off.

I think the press is being very "loose" in what it terms a "plume". In some cases the plumes seem to very low concentrations of hydrocarbon, in the ppb range, and in other cases (i.e. this one) they seem to be macrosuspensions of oil. These are very different situations.

And of course unsophisticated readers may be getting the impression that these plumes are 100% oil.

It is very instructive to calculate how much oil would be present in a plume say 40 miles x 40 miles x 1 mile, at a 1% concentration.

The press is not sophisticated in tehse matters, but that has led to far more "its not that bad" stories spun out by BP than "OMG its the end of the world" stories.

But, if we want to use your math...that would be equivalent to a plume 40 miles wide, 40 miles long and 0.01 miles deep. Hardly any at all! That would barely cover the entire Dallas/ Ft. Worth area to a depth of 60'!

Very instructive indeed!

Honestly though, they are detecting the plume largely by visible analysis (if you search back to the researchers blog). The concentration required to do that is way mare than ppb. It is probably in the ppthousand range, which is to say it would only cover dallas to the depth of a few inches.

To the statement before... that was the dispersant stategy, but it was shortsighted and wrong. if it made it to the surface it could at least be concentrated, contained and skimmed. Underwater, its effects include coating fish gills so they suffocate, getting into the subsurface food chain, and removing all oxygen from the water.

This is already a problem in the gulf, where the amount of fertilizer run off and hydrocarbon spills create "dead zones" every year.

We have just introduced several million times more food for certain bacteria in the gulf than they normally see. Yes, they will start digesting it, but to do so they need oxygen. They will grow until all of it is gone, then everything dies. Probably long before all that oil gets eaten up.

Oxygen will slowly get reintroduced. "Fresh water" flows into the gulf, dead water will flow out. New marine life will move in. But how much damage will have been done, and how long will it take?

The use of dispersants is usually a careful decision made after consideration of the the entire system. BP just started dumping immediately, and lied about the amount of oil coming out on top of it. Most likely because they did not want so much visible oil on the surface, and they had hopes of a quick end to the problem.

I suspect that the overuse of dispersants will be the most long lasting of the bad decisions that were made after the spill started. Even oil coating the coasts could have been cleaned more quickly. Some of this oil may stay at the bottom for decades, slowly releasing and suffocating the deep waters.

I know there is a big backlash in the comments now against new posters, but this is really basic microbiology, and reports of steep declines of oxygen levels near and in the plumes are already in the various articles and reports.

Hello everyone, First Post and glad to be here.

I just wanted to emphasize that if indeed there is damage to any of the upper casing...say for instance in the top 2000 feet of the borehole...the object would be to cause the pipe to increase pressure down below THAT point where presumably there is integrity and hopefully intact casing.

The reason you don't just want to close this thing off at the surface right many of these other posters have helpfully suggested..such as completely clogging the BOP, or inserting a plug or even attaching another BOP to the current one and closing the valve.

You see that would stop the flow of oil out of the top, but if you have damaged casing in the first 1000 feet of the bore...or perhaps even further down....then the pressure would redirect the oil and gas into secondary channels and then you really would have oil exploding from the seafloor in various places.

No, I think they simply want to control this flow right now...and if they can't get the concrete WAY DOWN into the bore hole to seal this...they will have no interest in sealing it near the top right now. Just collecting it onto a ship.

Would any of the knowledgable care to comment on this?

I did not get to see the vidio of the junk shot. Some people are saying the sea bed seemed to leak gas? Or got volently shaken maybe by the junk shot. There is something like 100 tons of gas and oil Moving up that 13000 foot pipe at good speed. Maybe 10mph. And it don't just stop on a dime. The instant that junk hit and the flow was reduced All that mass in motion try to rip the casing sting out of the bottom of the ocean. If they do shoot something in the BOP that sticks to quickly lets hope the sting holds. If not well I don't how they could stop it after that. Play with fire for sure.

If all that gas and oil can't be stopped "on a dime" - how is BOP ever expected to work? I mean, even with shear rams it essentially clamps a very small piece of a pipe way high up above the well? So, if BOPs *can* work - then what is the problem with stopping the flow above, in principle?

Hi, in case of the assumed blast, ist seems to me that the ROV itself just went up into the debris.

But I tried to compare a picture from what we now see (2 hours ago), with a screenshot from several hours ago. Look at the black scratch on the left side, enhanced with the red circle. On the screenshot from earlyer times last night (picture on the right), you can clearly see a leak at that point. - Is there an explanation for that? Was this little leak stuffed up with "junk" in the meantime?

Thanks for your comments, I'm no expert.

It looks like flow being ejected to the side by one of the obscured leaks.

Rockman ... this may be asking too much. Your contributions to this discussion have been invaluable. I'm wondering if you have had a chance to watch the testimony yesterday on CSPAN of the Transocean Subsea Supervisor (in charge of operation of the BOP), and the Senior Drilling Engineer for BP (who designed the well and made all of the casing recommendations).

Well ... at a minimum "IT'S RIVETING." At a maximum, lots of new (first hand) information about well operations, design, control issues, and the like. In total, it's about 3 hours of testimony, but the first 20 minutes of first link (with Transocean Subsea Supervisor) gives a minute by minute chronology of what took places on the rig prior and during the accident (from his perspective).

I'd be interested to hear your insights into this new information.

To Oil Drum moderators ... it might be nice to embed the two CSPAN video links into a separate post, and allow readers to comment:

Transocean Subsea Supervisor (87 min):

BP Senior Drilling Engineer (93 min)

I'm watching the CNN video stream of BOP leaks right now, and they're still flowing pretty fast, although the ones on right side of the screen may have slowed a bit (from a couple of days ago). Perhaps that's because of the "junk shot" -- maybe there's some junk stuck in the riser tube at those leak points.

If so, then the "junk objects" in question must have passed through the shear ram orifice to get there. This would provide BP with a crude kind of gauge: it would indicate how large an object can pass the shear ram orifice (created when the rams failed to completely slice through the drill pipe on the day of the blowout).

If BP fed in a series of hard solid objects (steel ball bearings, say), first of smaller diameter, and then progressively larger, they could indirectly measure the internal BOP orifice, wich I happen to think would be useful to know. It would, for example, help them to choose the right size of "junk" for the next shot. Also, if even the largest (e.g., 2 or 2-1/2 inch) steel balls pass through the shear ram orifice, then I think you'd have to say they're in a bit of trouble there, and that injecting "junk" won't very likely ever work. Note: I'm assuming larger "junk" sizes aren't possible owing to the presumed 3-inch diameter of the "kill" and "choke" feeder lines.

The two CNN video feeds now are from the same ROV camera but show very different colors. One shows gray/black. The other shows light tan. Like the disclaimer indicated, don't judge color of what you are seeing.

After examining the photos and first video of the "explosion" beginning at 08:08 CDT this morning that pas30 posted, I do not think there was an explosion or eruption at all. It looks like Mil # 22 ROV released its grip on the riser and backed away from it. As it backed away it entered a plume of debris (methane hydrates or specks of mud) that has been raining down around the BOP. There is no scale or range to determine the size of the debris seen falling through the field of view. A little speck just in front of the camera lens would look huge and blurry. Look at how some of the chunks float around in the water indicating they are buoyant and meaning their densities are too low to be metal. If they are big chunks of metal, then it is likely the ROV would have been struck and damaged. Look at the azimuth indicator at the top of the screen to determine that the ROV did not spiral out of control. The video feed was not interrupted.

I can see the depth indicator decreasing from 1,502 m while the video plays indicating the ROV is rising. It stops changing toward the end of the video reading 1,470 m. While the ROV is rising, visible things that are floating in the water would have a downward component added to their their apparent motion equal to the rate that the ROV rises.

The plume emitting from the riser would probably look darker because the light source was moving away making it look more ominous.

If I understand this recent update in the NYT, BP has given up on the junk shot, admitted that even if they pump mud in, they don't know how to seal the pipe/ BOP properly to prevent mud from leaking out. Not only that, it seems as if, once again they waited far too many hours before putting the word out.

The article says it was suspended at 2:30 AM on Friday. On Good Morning America Hayward said the junk shots completed early this morning (Friday morning.) I have to believe the NYT is having yet another bad day.

Yes that's true, USCG Admiral Allen mentioned the junk shot suspension on Good Morning America. But if you'd read my comment more carefully (that they had given up because mud was escaping) you would not have missed the gist of what was important.

I do not know who he is or what he did. I do not know if it is even true, but that Kaluza fellow is going to be the scapegoat. Who does Kaluza work for and how much did he know?

Kaluza was one of the company men for BP (along with David Vidrine). It is suspicious that he pleaded the fifth. I guess its possible he knows he violated a BP procedure (either through implicit permission from a BP person or through his own cognizance) or he's just incredibly frightened because he believes he did something wrong.

Assuming he's going to be the scapegoat however, I'm not sure where that's coming from.

From the local blog traffic in the impact zone.

I am having difficulty figuring out from testimony what decisions if any Kaluza actually made. Anyone heard anything I missed?

If he authorized or made the instructions to displace the mud with seawater, he probably has a guilty conscience given that the current narrative that the displacement of seawater into the well allowed the gas to precipitate up the wellbore.

Doug Brown, the chief mechanic of the Deepwater Horizon. testified earlier:
"I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller," said Doug Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the April 20 disaster. "The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, 'No, we'll be having some changes to that.' It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be,' and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed."

That company man has been identified as Kaluza.

According to the Senior Toolpusher today (who was present) that wasn't what the discussion was about. It was about how to conduct the pressure tests and the method favoured by Transocean's Rig Manager was the method they agreed upon.

That testimony was in error. See Undertow's comment.

Doug Brown, the chief mechanic of the Deepwater Horizon. testified earlier:
"I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller," said Doug Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the April 20 disaster. "The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, 'No, we'll be having some changes to that.' It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be,' and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed."

That company man has been identified as Kaluza.


Your comment about "gas cut mud" blowouts started me thinking. Can we ever kill this well when we know that gas is flowing upwards and the head/BOP/riser is by now a sieve with more holes than we can plug with random junk shots? It seems to me that since gas will always escape from the top, the mud will "thin" as it is sheared by the gas, killing any hope of a "kill pill."

Good question. Short answer: RELIEF WELL

I wouldn't be able to find them now, but upthread there are at least a couple of posts giving details of how a relief well, IF PROPERLY HANDLED, can introduce kill mud at bottom of the hole, and at pressure nearly matching that of the reservoir.

As the mud is pulled up into the wild/uncontrolled hole, it can be diluted and/or stirred by the reservoir fluids without losing the effectiveness of its weight. This way, it can be carried up every leak path that is capable of carrying fluid toward the surface.

Hello Heading Out, Perthshier Scotland calling on a pirate wifi signal:-) What an amazing job you are doing.

Terrestrial news over here interviwed Hayward who said the liquid comming out of the BOP was mud - at the time he was commenting at least.

As you may have picked up from email correspondence I am a bit skeptical that this top kill can work - though I could be wrong.

My mental image is a hose pipe, held vertical, with the tap full on and water spraying like a fountain out of the hose. The challenge is to try and stop the flow by pumping a heavier "liquid" into the top of the hose that will eventually push the water back down into the tap and eventually overcome the pressure in the reservoir (which in the case of an oil reservoir is bouyancy pressure - unless the reservoir is over pressured in which case its somewhere between bouyancy and lithostatic pressure). Oh and by the way, the end of the hose has lots of holes in it. You need to be able to pump that heavy liquid (drilling mud) into the hose faster than the water is comming out. The minute you stop pumping, all your liquid gets expelled and you're back to square one.

So this comes down to the volume of the well, and how much of that volume needs to be filled with drilling mud to pressure stabilise the well? Do BP have theses volumes available and pumping capacity to hand to fill the well to required point + surface losses?

Katla not gone up yet, but its very cold here.

Grin (or should that be grimace:(


Your mental image described is pretty accurate. Overlay tis on the well and it fits for the 'point of entry' scenario where the well fluids are entering the well bore (7"liner) at or near the bottom of the well.
The other point of entry scenario is where the well fluids are entering the well bore at the very top of the 9-7/8" casing, and just inches from the bottom of the BOP. So continuing with your hose, think of another hose inside the first one with no connection to the water tap. that means the water has to flow through the annulus between the two hoses, and due to the reduction in cross sectional area means the velocity of the fluids exiting the annulus would be substantially greater than for the single hose.

Assuming the point of entry is at the top of the casing, then the velocity of well fluid flow will make the top kill very difficult indeed, near impossible.

Having said that, where there is even a remote chance to stop the flow BP should pursue it. The biggest risk in the top kill is if the exisiting riser plugs successfully and the well begins to charge to a pressure beyond the burst pressure of the riser (see earlier post)

Thank you.

Hi BOPE, I am no expert on well engineering, but it is quite clear that if well below BOP is severely compromised with oil flowing between production tubing (if that is installed) and casing then the task of top kill gets much much harder.

Tony Hayward on BBC news a few minutes ago sounded optimistic - 60 - 70% chance of success, but before I started writing this comment there was a fair bit of turbulence around BOP.

Hoping this works out well for GOM.


Re: my previous comment: I meant to say "kill the well with the "top kill" approach - not the relief wells." Sorry.

BP Suspends "Top Kill" For Second Time After Trying Two Junk Shots. Less Than 10% of Injection Fluids are Staying Inside the Leaking Pipes

ROV2 shot backed off; Enterprise 2 (the riser kink) is all mud swirls, seems to be gushing from below the camera. Maybe they cut the riser off? Or maybe it gave. (There appeared to be a moderate and growing amount of mud/gas coming from that spot until a few minutes ago, when it came in force.)

There is a new leak farther down on the BOP. They have blown a hose or a seal is leaking or one of the pipes associated with the LMRP has sprung a new leak. This is a new source IMO too steady new location just out of camera shot lower right.

Edit; does not appear to be the C/K hoses or fittings looks be in the area of that little fissure on the lower right side riser bend that was just spitting occasionally before.

Haven't seen that one. Does it look like they are going to lose the BOP?


I think they are cutting the riser off the BOP.

Dragonfly41 I think you are right.

Those losses seem to fit with previous info, but the claim that they've stopped does not bode well, given the (current) Q4000 ROV 2 shot (CNN link) that's showing large clouds of mud surrounding (coming from?) the ROV.

what are we looking at on cnn's images?

I hope its true that BP is suspending this procedure. Because it looks as if things are getting worse. Not sure why the NPR feed is not showing the same feed as BP and CNN, but man those leaks are really gushing. But then again, I'm sure somebody will tell me that it just looks bad because some ROV is moving.

one feed shows the leaking bent riser on top of the BOP, I guess the other one shows the ROV filming the first feed.

Just tuned back in, what did happen in between? A lot more stuff is gushing out, did they cut something open yet? Or new leaks?

Accolades to the hosts and the community here--this is easily the best source of reality-based news on the gusher that I have found.

I'm sure this has been asked before, and I apologize that my question is off topic wrt current top kill activities, but ...

I've read much debate about the choice of the dispersant, but I haven't read as much on why BP is using dispersant at all. I have my own cynical theory--BP's media mgt is "out of sight, out of mind"--but I'm hoping there really is a valid reason for trying to disperse the oil and then corral and skim what is not dispersed vs. simply foregoing the dispersant and corralling and skimming the oil in greater concentration. 1) Doesn't the oil float to the top more easily when not dispersed? and 2) Any idea why there isn't more serious public debate as to why we are using dispersant of any kind?

If there is already a thread on this I'd really appreciate if one of the hosts or contributors listening could point me to it.

They want to hide their mess. They have a 4300/barrel incentive.

Hi bobash,

To date there has not been much discussion over dispersants so your question is appropriate.

My reading on dispersant use is that it is a widely used and effective way of helping to clean up oil spills. In fact there are over a dozen commercial dispersant brands (If I remember correctly) out there.

That said, dispersants do harm both wildlife and people depending on their concentration and the brand used. No free ride here.

Dispersants do just what the name implies, they disperse the oil into smaller droplets which allows naturally occurring bacteria in the ocean to actually eat the oil.

What is unique in this case was using dispersants for a while at the source of the leak in addition to spreading them on the surface. There is quite a bit of controversy over using them deep underwater. We don't have nearly as much data on deep water use as we do for surface use. How much oil will remain deep in the water column instead of floating to the top because of dispersant use is not know at this time. It is expected we will find large plumes of oil but the amount, density of the oil, and the length of time it takes to break down is not known yet.

I think dispersants will become a much larger issue and topic for discussion if the oil continues to flow.

Thoughts on Pressures, Flows and Junk Shot/Top Kill

This is collected from the last 39 days on TOD and earlier, the data is of varying quality (but best available to the public) and this analysis is handwave quality (largely non-numeric).

Reservior quality oil is API 35 (right on edge between light & medium quality crude, few asphaltenes, which make the "best", longest lasting tar balls) with lots of natural gas (3,000 GOS, 10,000 GOS is considered a gas well). The oil emulsifies with water easily, much better than most crude oils.

The reservoir pressure is 13,000 psi. (Temperature only 180 F from one report, unusually cold). 4 weeks ago the pressure was reported as 8,000 to 9,000 psi entering the BOP and just seawater pressure + 400 psi exiting the BOP. This implies much more than just a frictional drop up 13,000' of drill string, but some obstruction as well.

Since then sand entrained with the gas and oil has eroded the BOP and BP has stated that new observations of BOP pressures were "surprisingly lower" but gave no numerical data. OTOH, downhole, it is normal for wild wells to pull rocks as well as sand into the bore and clog things up.

However, this specific well has cased for production (later), which is designed to prevent being clogged up by produced rock and sand.

My GUESS is that the pressure drop downhole in the well bore is greater and drop across the BOP lower since Thad Allen leaked the pressure #s.

This also implies that the clogging the holes spewing that we can see does nothing, since they represent just a 400 psi drop. Raise that to 1,000 psi by reducing the size and that will feed black SLIGHTLY to the other, larger pressure drops.

One interesting observation is that the natural gas is dissolved in a super-critical fluid in the reservoir and begins to comes out of solution as it transits the BOP. Expanding gas is quite a force.

A major issue is inertia. Roughly 2 ft2 column coming up 13,000' and a few feet/sec is quite a battering ram. Beyond that is a good sized reservoir. It has been sitting still for the last few million years, and now it begins to flow towards this new hole. Given the size (perhaps 100 million barrels) it will take months for all the oil to start flowing evenly towards the well. But that is another source of inertia which will continue to grow over time.

I am confused (me too) as to whether the Top Kill/Junk Shot is injecting mud & debris where the pressure once was seawater + 400 psi or 8,000 to 9,000 psi.

I hope this helps a bit. I personally have very little hope for anything except the relief wells.


PS: Long time TOD member, engineer (not oil) and I am best known for my mitigation efforts to get us past Peak Oil with viable society more or less intact.

I personally have very little hope for anything except the relief wells.

I tend to agree with this. Lets assume 17,000 bpd, 38 days from blow out, we have 646,000 bbls oil produced - that is a drop in the ocean for a medium sized reservoir. If the reservoir quality is good then reservoir pressure at the well bore will not have fallen that much.

From what I've read, relief wells trying to intersect existing blow out well, this may be fraught with difficulty. Safest route is to drill reservoir close to existing well and draw pressure down (or inject "gel") to reduce pressure in blow out well then top kill might work.


Thanks for the summary of known pressure info. The numbers make pretty good sense, and if they've drifted slightly over the last few days, that really shouldn't matter.

If we assume the pressure drops from 13000 psi in the reservoir to 8,000 or 9,000 psi at the bottom of the BOP, then there's obviously a restriction of flow down-hole, and it's probably due to the widely suspected "poor cementing job" done by Halliburton just before the blowout.

If the pressure then drops from 8,000 or 9,000 psi to just 400 psi above ambient seawater pressure at the BOP outlet (i.e., at the leaks in the riser tube), the drop must be occurring across the shear ram orifice (where the rams failed to shear the drill pipe after the blowout).

Then the final drop to ambient seawater pressure would occur at the various leaks in the riser tube above the BOP.

Now, as to the possible effect of leak blockage via "junk" injection: if the junk lodged on the upstream side of the BOP shear ram orifice, it would increase the pressure drop at the point so that the downstream pressure was closer to ambient seawater pressure. Result: less leakage out of the holes in the riser tube. But if the junk passed through the shear ram orifice and lodged instead right at the leaks in the riser tube, it would increase the pressure inside the riser tube. Result: in all likelihood, a blowout of the riser tube right where it's leaking now. That would probably be bad.

Thus, if possible, it would be much better, in my view, to block the leaks inside the BOP itself, at the shear ram orifice, where the heavy walls of the BOP can contain the resulting higher pressure.

Alan, don't you have to calculate the pressure below the BOP by subtracting the hydrostatic pressure with an oil gradient from the reservoir pressure?

13,500 psi at 18,000' minus 0.3 psi/ft * 13,000' dbml


13500-(13000*.3) = 9600 psi

That would get you close to the stated 8,000 - 9,000 psi rumored BOP pressures.

I'm used to doing the static shut-in pressures, but not the dynamic choking and frictional effects.

Sorry, dumb geologist, not engineer.

:pipe stress engineer:

no experience in off shore drilling, but I'll speak my observations:

*the force exerted on the bop from the falling rig must have been massive. I've no idea how the bop is still upright with the riser connection being the way it is.

*riser damage is nearly 100% at the main leak. It's not unreasonable to assume that the connection at the top of the bop is in the same condition (even though it looks 95% intact)

*the pipe at the bop look like it has split longitudinally in the places of the leak. This is synonamous with massive bending stress and strain. I'd say initial stress was way past UTS and the pipe is no longer elastic. Effectively, the engineers have no idea what strength is left in the pipe at the top of the bop

*normally, for pipework, (d/t<100) pressure is not normally the limiting factor (bending moments are) but, dynamic pressure loading from pumping, 2 phase flow etc will be putting a huge strain on the pipework.

*the initial blow out would have been a fairly energetic event (pipewise)


bop/pipework is fubared. Bp are frigtened to death to add any more strain to it,
next best scenario is to remount a secondary, partial bop and throttle the flow down to zero (slowly)
This allows a gradual close up and enables a re-opening if sub sea damage is apparant.

Finally, the engineers here are IMHO, performing a thankless task heroically.

( anybody have the pipe od,wall thickness,uts, and pressures for the riser?)

OK, so Top Kill was a waste of time, had to try , but probably made it worse, 60-70% was never realistic. Question for the experts... is there any hope for the LMRP replacment or the BOP on top of the BOP ? or are both of these just more dog and pony shows while we wait for the relief wells ?

Thanks for the site. Very informative I just wish the people in the know, here, had some good news... are there any good shots left at getting this well under control any time soon?
Thanks !

Either they have cut a pipe or there's a new enormous leak.

I've thought from the beginning that the best and only chance to do anything meaningful was to sever the riser and drillpipe and try to stab into the BOP.

Folks will say that the leak will get worse if you pull the riser off. I don't really believe that as I don't think the riser is choking the well back. It is all done in the bottom portion of the BOP and the well.

Minus the relief well, stabbing into the BOP is the best idea IMO.

I am curious about a few things that have been said. 2 x Cameron Type TL 18¾in 15K double preventers; 1 x Cameron Type TL 18¾in 15K single preventer; 1 x Cameron DWHC 18¾in 15K wellhead connector

In the case of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon, it remains unclear why the companies involved (BP, Transocean, and Cameron International / Cooper Cameron) are unable to activate the BOP. Usually, the blowout preventer can be closed using hydraulic equipment on the oil rig itself, but there are also “Dead Man” switches that close the BOP automatically if communications are lost with the rig.

My Words: It is alleged here that transocean et al are unable to activate the BOP. Is that a know fact? Could it be that the BOP was activated and could not cope with the pressure from the well, and the BOP was blown? In other words was the capacity of the BOP under-engineered? Were the well pressures encountered extreme and out or the ordinary?


I am suspicious.

"breaking news update"

NYT reporting that the "top kill operations" have stopped according to an anonymous insider.

"The suspension of the effort was not announced, and appeared to again contradict statements by company and government officials that suggested the top kill procedure was progressing Friday." - NYT

In other words, while Obama was speaking on the telly. Bad timing for PR purposes so they won't tell us what is going on.

Let me adjust my rose colored glasses here for a sec...okay...that's better...ahem...Now...

I am not going to rush to believe anything the New York Times has to say about much when the source is anonymous. They haven't exactly proven themselves honest brokers of information lately. In fact, I can think of a couple of instances in the last few months where they have been caught with their pants down and diddling. I'll wait for confirmation from at least one other source, and preferably able to cite a source.

Honest, I am as cynical as they come about everything, and I have no plans for this weekend that will be ruined by bad news...I'm on call, so I won't even crack open a beer. I will literally have nothing to do but watch this thing, whether I am at home or in the lab. (Blood Bank is long periods of boredom punctuated by the occasional fifteen minutes of chaos. I'm not clinging to an illusion to preserve some mythical perfect weekend. Just sayin.')

Let me adjust my rose colored glasses here for a sec...okay...that's better...ahem...Now...

I am not going to rush to believe anything the New York Times has to say about much when the source is anonymous. They haven't exactly proven themselves honest brokers of information lately. In fact, I can think of a couple of instances in the last few months where they have been caught with their pants down and diddling. I'll wait for confirmation from at least one other source, preferably citing a credible source by name.

Honest, I am as cynical as they come about everything, and I have no plans for this weekend that will be ruined by bad news...I'm on call, so I won't even crack open a beer. I will literally have nothing to do but watch this thing, whether I am at home or in the lab. (Blood Bank is long periods of boredom punctuated by the occasional fifteen minutes of chaos. I'm not clinging to an illusion to preserve some mythical perfect weekend. Just sayin.')

Let me adjust my rose colored glasses here for a sec...okay...that's better...ahem...Now...

I am not going to rush to believe anything the New York Times has to say about much when the source is anonymous. They haven't exactly proven themselves honest brokers of information lately. In fact, I can think of a couple of instances in the last few months where they have been caught with their pants down and diddling. I'll wait for confirmation from at least one other outlet, preferably citing a credible source by name.

Honest, I am as cynical as they come about everything, and I have no plans for this weekend that will be ruined by bad news...I'm on call, so I won't even crack open a beer. I will literally have nothing to do but watch this thing, whether I am at home or in the lab. (Blood Bank is long periods of boredom punctuated by the occasional fifteen minutes of chaos. I'm not clinging to an illusion to preserve some mythical perfect weekend. Just sayin.')


In addition to the Ram Type Preventers you listed there are two Annular Preventers on top, they are rated to 10,000psi. The whole BOP stack is well capable for the well being drilled.
Please note that just before the blowout there was less than 2000psi Stand Pipe Pressure, (pressure that most likely came from the well) which is within the capability of the BOP.

The BOP is fine, the control systems may be another story. Answers will only become apparent when the BOP Stack is recovered.

Thank you.

Thank you BOPE,
When will the BOP Stack be recovered, and who would likely inspect it?


The blow-out preventer was underengineered, but it failed because the sheer rams were not able to completely cut through the drill pipe, not because of excessive pressure.

The best guess here on the forums is that the sheer rams were placed on a joint on the drill pipe, and that they were not designed to be able to sever the joints, but just the middle parts of the pipe.

BP requested the modifications and in the first crucial hours couldn't get the BOP functioning right because they were reliant on old information.

15k psi stack, human fail, equipment up to task if good drilling practices had been followed

All the stories I have heard suggest that they tried to shear an disconnect, both from the doghouse and at the toolpusher's office. The question is why did the shear rams not fulfil their function; something prevented the rams from reaching the fully closed position. Even the ROV tried and failed. It seems that until the drillstring was blinded off (where it protrudes out of the mangled riser) it was flowing a lot of crude, which suggests minimum penetration of the drillstring was achieved by the sheer rams. Either hydraulic leaks on the stack reduced power to the rams, or the rams closed on something harder than they could handle, like a drillstring tooljoint for instance.

Hey everybody, prof. Goose posted at 10:45am this: Operations on top kill continue. And that full top kill procedures could extend for 24 to 48 hrs.

Guys, I need an answer - was the failure of the Macondome largely or entirely due to saltwater in the dome reacting with methane ? Someone answer, please.

If you talking about the formation of crystals, it's not so much a result of salt water as it is temperature and pressure. If your next question was going to be to inject saltwater into the BOP and let those crystals form to plug it up - they've already thought of that. The crystals wont form inside the BOP because of the high pressure in there.

Still trying, sure. In the theoretical sense they are still trying.

Apparently, that is 100% spin but what do I know? Can anyone here personally vouch for this goose? And give him a ring and ask for an update? Does anyone have a trusted news source here, anyone??? I got more straight dope from the kid on twitter than I have from an admiral in the last 48 hours.

We are going in to a "news cycle" of the memorial day weekend where the public will talk about what is going on. You can bet that BP publicity control is very invested in putting the best face on this as they can so that folks around the BBQ pit have a mental picture in their heads that they are still CLOSE to a solution.

They are not. Instead, they are back to square one having likely weakened and further eroded the space junk that used to be a BOP, the newest oxymoron since "military intelligence." The tried mud, and then they tried mud plus junk. Neither worked. Anything more is a BAD idea.

Oh my wilis_newton, you do have your panties it a twist. How can you hold on.

I think that the obvious explanation for BP's tactics in delaying the news that the top kill has continued to fail and that the relief wells are the only hope for shutting this off is that the markets will be closed for the holiday weekend, and that news that arrives after market close on Friday will be blunted and can be spun all the way through market open on Tuesday.

Great site, and good to know I'm not the only person absolutely horrified by this.

Yep, because that's what we were being told. :(

Now I find out from the NYT that they've been done for hours. And I am not happy.

BP needs to run this like Mission Control at NASA, not like a prison rodeo.

I've said it before, PG: Here come the clowns!

If not so sad it would be funny, in a Keystone Kops sort of way!


When will everyone stop believing everything BP is telling us? Its time we start realizing that this well can not be controlled. They need to put all of their efforts into capturing as much oil and gas that they can until they finish drilling those relief wells. Just chalk up "top kill" and "junk shot" to the list of failures in trying to cap this well. There is nothing they can do until they get those two relief wells drilled to relieve those intense pressures.

Something's up on the riser kink right now. They are either cutting it off from atop the BOP or there is major leakage right below riser kink. Almost 100% sure they are cutting. One ROV arm holding pipe off riser and another doing something below the kink. Also, riser is swaying back and forth in shot so looks partially loose.

Now, they are just showing the riser kink, but you'll notice there is only plumes coming out the left side. The shot I saw, it appeared like they had start an opening down lower on the right and stopped.

I would imagine that cutting off the riser is going to take quite a bit of preparation and rigging.

The ROV arm was working in there pretty tight and it's possible the plume was rolling out under that and curling around so it came up from some distance back and then up from under camera view. Any way with the top kill suspended it's probably the next step. A natural assumption I thought so too. That little jet on the side is sure steady and white now.

It sure looked like it could have been; the ROV was atop the BOP, and plumes were coming out right beneath it. Those were, I think, the plumes that had obscured our view of the riser kink. And now we see the riser kink, just as it was before! Up to now I was doubtful that they were showing taped feed, but I'm almost sure they are now. How else can that reversal have happened?

Yep. Now you know why they did not want to supply a live feed for the home viewer.

Yep. Now you know why they did not want to supply a live feed for the home viewer.

Thank you all for this forum. I know it must be frustrating to have so many non-experts descend on your website, but what you are doing is much appreciated and very valuable. I am an EE/software engineer. I do not know your industry, so file this in the category of noob ideas, and I apologize in advance for taking up your time. If, however, you do think it is a good idea please pass it on, or help improve on it. I can not think of why it would not work. Here goes:

The Top Dome

Get a big oil or natural gas tank. The kind you see by the side of the highway and at refineries. Install ballast cavities inside at the top by welding in plates to create air cavities, one or more for each quarter pie slice. Install valves from the top that go into each ballast cavity and also valves that go into the main tank. The main tank valves need to be big enough to vent all the gusher. Float this thing out to sea using the ballast tanks and other floating stabilizers attached around the outside of the tank to keep it from turtling. Get it over the leak site and sink it by flooding the ballast tanks. Leave some of the the main cavity vales open--enough to vent the gusher--but not all. Put the tank down over the leak and allow the oil and gas gusher to escape out the main cavity valves. Secure the thing to the seafloor (or maybe its weight is enough). Attach a riser(s) to the closed main cavity valve(s). Open them and start pumping up seawater and oil. Monitor the thing and close the vent valves if it looks like it is going to hold together. If you can get them all closed then you have the gusher trapped and the oil coming to the surface where it can be hauled off in tankers to be separated.

The NYT's article makes no sense. We already knew they suspended the junk shot early on Friday morning. This afternoon the times comes out with an article that states the operation was suspended at 2:30 AM on Friday morning.

It's old news that ain;t news.

Why doesn't everybody relax and wait for 15 minutes until the next briefing. Then you can vent---so to speak.

This is a bit more of what I was thinking about last night, based on what the situation underwater is like;

Sorry about the crappy sketches, but the BOP sits on top of the well casing with the collapsed riser emerging from the top of the blow- out- preventer. The riser is kinked over at the top and trails out across the ocean floor. Within the well casing is the drill string which is also inside the riser.

At some point the drill string was capped where it was accessible through a hole in the riser. Since oil and gas was leaking through the drill string, the likelihood is that the drill string is largely intact down the well to the point where the drill bit was when the blowout occurred.

The well itelf is a collection of concentric casings nested inside each other, either casings are broken or unsealed somwhere along the length of the 18,000 foot deep well. This is the source of the leak.

Within the BOP are a number of closures that are supposed to shut the well's flow off in case of a blowout. Apparently the devices failed or did not actuate, including the shear rams, which are supposed to cut the riser and the drill pipe failed to do so. Again, since oil and gas were leaking through the drill string, the shear rams have only partially cut and crimped the riser and drill string.

My idea is to have a live drill string go to the bottom of the well and pump mud etc. from the bottom rather than trying to force it in from the top. The key is the amount of drill pipe still in the well.

- Since the accident occured when seawater was being pumped from the platform to the bottom of the well (to displace drilling mud) the drill string is probably all the way to the bottom of the well; 18,000 feet of pipe in the well.

- The issue is whether the shear rams can be manually retracted to allow the drill pipe to move.

---- The riser and drill pipe would be cut with a wire saw at the top of the BOP.

---- A drilling platform with deep- water very heavy lift capacity would be positioned over the well and a new string with a tool retrieval coupling installed at the bit end.

---- The string within the well would be connected to the platform tool string and the drill pipe pulled to the surface. The drill pipe section damaged by the shear rams could be removed and new pipe connected in the usual practice. This damage would be within a few dozen feet of the cut end, there would be no damage to the drill pipe still in the well, downhole.

The idea is to use the drill string as is normally the case without the riser. During the work the oil and gas will continue to flow into the Gulf. If the drill string downhole can be lifted 5,000 feet and new drill pipe connected, the well could be flooded with heavy mud in the conventional manner in a few hours.

There are two things that would cause this not to work: a) The shear rams cannot be retracted and b) there is less than 5000 feet of drill string in the hole. If the shear rams can only be partially retracted then the drill pipe must be either pulled up by main force or the BOP disassembled partially to remove the shear rams and allow the drill pipe to be moved.

If the drill string is too short for the broken section to be removed at the surface by conventional tools, the string would be retracted to the point where the drill pipe sections unscrewed from each other underwater. This would require lowering the large pipe wrenches used to connect drill sections together to the BOP and using the ROV's as floating plumbers. Unknown is the amount of torque required to remove drill pipe section but separating sections could be improvised with jacks, for instance. Difficult, but it theoretically could be done.

- When the drill pipe connection is made, the drill string sent downhole until it bottoms and then well charged with drilling mud from both the bottom and from the BOP choke/kill lines. The idea is to add a usefol length of new drill pipe to the section that is already in the hole so as to put mud at the bottom of the hole where it will do some good.

Additionally, the driling mud could be charged with fiberglass fireproofing material, the kind that is mixed with cement and sprayed on steel framing in high rise buildings. This would allow the mud to bridge cracks or gaps in the casing that gas and oil would flow through.

I think it is safe to say the top kill did not work. Given the continued obfuscation by BP, I wonder if they plan to cut off the riser and either do the top hat or a new bop on top of the old one.

I suppose that if they do that, the flow from the riser kink will stop spewing [and all of the flow will be out the top of the cut off riser, until the new BOP is mounted.

Is there any indication they would be able to do the top hat with full flow through the bop? Is there ANY indicaton that the junk shots have slowed the flow through the BOP?

If I was doing it, I would try to mount the second BOP as my first attempt. If that works, then great! It is done until the RWs seal the bottom. If it does not, I still have the top hat in reserve.