Deepwater Oil Spill - Deciphering The New Activity (Top Kill, Junk Shot, Etc.), Watching the Flows, and a Live Comment Thread

What I believe is going on is that BP is running a series of "junk shots" with the Nat Lab "junk", and after they run one they fill the well with mud to see if it has changed anything. To date, while there are changes (you stop doing this when there aren't) they haven't been enough. But after each time that they fill the well with mud, they switch the pumps off while they go and regroup. That allows the gas and oil to push the mud back out of the way (one of these tries, perhaps, it won't and we will know that it has worked). Much more under the fold, including video. (Click "there's more").

New thread, please redirect to

But when the oil and gas get through the constriction of the BOP there is a drop in pressure and an expansion, and this gives that little bit of excitement that we see. After a while, not so exciting, though this time one of the cameras went off air, so maybe there was something else going on as well?? Oh, and BP has decided to halt, for a while, the second drilling of a relief well, so that they can prepare for plan B. One has to remember that these drilling rigs are at a premium, and there is an opportunity cost with just about every decision.
"The (Development Driller II) has temporarily suspended drilling operations in preparation for the possible future deployment of its BOP on top of the (Macondo) BOP," he told UpstreamOnline in an email response.

UPDATE 2: 10:53 pm. It appears that they are pumping mud again, so another test may be under way. (I am judging this on texture and jet structure) . There is one interesting thing to note, and you have to be familiar with the patterns to see it. So I am going to repeat a picture from 3:45 am yesterday (which has been my standard base reference for mud, rather than oil flows.

3:45 pm 5/26/2010

Now look at the current flow:

10:59 pm 5/28/2010

Notice the changes in the flow pattern, and particularly that the crack to the right of the central paint removed line, which had a piece of rubber jammed in it . By adding more NL junk they have just about totally bridged that crack and stopped the flow - which illustrates that what they are trying to do at the BOP is at least partially working - as I explained in an earlier post .

I am almost tempted to note that the flow seems at a little less pressure, judged again by jet structure, and which would indicate more bridging in the BOP, but I grow more cautious as the process extends.

And one last point - you should not expect the majority of the cracks at the riser (the ones we are looking at) to get closed until almost the end of the injections since their width is much smaller than the one that they are trying to block in the BOP, but as it grows smaller, so they should come into the range of the NL "junk." Unfortunately they don't seem to have got the main flow bridged effectively yet, and it may be that the gap is wider than the thickest piece of tire they have tried so far. Which now gets into tricky territory as there are absolute limits on how big they can make the pieces. But this is a problem where a tenth of an inch can make a big difference.

A few things:

1. The Oil Drum is a pretty special place. We strive to maintain a high signal to noise ratio in our comment threads. Short, unengaging comments, or comments that are off topic, are likely to be deleted without notice. (to be clear--on point humor and levity, more than welcome.)

If you see a problematic comment USE THE COMMENT MODERATION SYSTEM--see the "Flag as inappropriate" and (?) beside it? Learn more there. If you see comments that are questionable after you've done that (that aren't being removed), let us know at the eds email address.

It is up to this community to enforce the norms we have established here (a high signal to noise ratio), keep. it. up.

Our guide to commenting at TOD can be found here: . Please check it out if you are unfamiliar with it, but it is essentially 1) citations welcome, 2) be kind to others, and 3) be nice to the furniture.

2. We have gotten a lot of queries whether this bump in traffic is adding costs to keep the site functioning. Truth is, we are incurring added expenses from these events. It is also true that we try not to beg from you very often as we are not the types to bother you with constant queries.

That being said, if you are inclined to help out, your support is always welcome and very much appreciated. To those who have already given, thank you very much.

You can find the donate button in the top left hand corner of the main page.

3. If you have come here to vet your plan to kill the well, understand that you will be queried on whether or not you have read the other 9 previous comment threads and all the myriad plans that have already been run by the kind folks in this room; if you have actually read all 9 comment threads and still think your plan has legs, well, then maybe yours really is the one that will save the Gulf of Mexico.

This is not to say that well considered questions about current attempts and modifications to those attempts are not welcome; they are. But try to place them in context and in what's actually going on, as opposed to your MacGyver dream solution where you have a 10 megaton bomb, an ice pick, and Commander Spock at your side.

4. Also, if you're looking for live chat and are 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)

Just some further IRC info for people:

You can access the oildrum irc channel (chat room) through a web browser by:

1. going to
2. entering your desired nickname in the nick box
3. enter #theoildrum in the channel field
4. click "Connect"

A screenshot of the webchat front page:
 field and then enter #theoildrum in the channel field. Click connect.

Please note the current topic of the channel reads: "[Progress of the BP topkill - please keep discussion mostly on topic]"

Once you have connected you can create your own channel by typing "/join #thenameyouwantforyournewchannel"(without the quotes. If no one has made a channel with this name a new channel will be created and you will become the channel operator (room administrator). You can then have any interested parties join your room by using the same command.

This may be useful for branching off into discussions on politics, small talk etc. which would interrupt the topic of the main #theoildrum channel.

You can also start a private discussion with a specific user by typing "/query TheUserNameYouWantToContact Your Message"

Here is a site with some other IRC basics:

For some it can be a bit frustrating when first arriving at TOD as you want to contribute but may feel, using my case as an example, under qualified compared to many of the contributors, especially the regulars. But I rapidly discovered it is not my lack of a college degree, but rather a lack of research which is the deciding factor in whether I can contribute effectively.

This tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico has given us a wide range of subjects that need exploring. There is a need for people who can keep up with the latest news and available research in specific areas so when other TOD members ask questions they are getting the best possible answers, not just a snippet of a news report that may be completely misleading.

Interesting aspects of your research can also be presented in the form of comments without a question being asked first. That often leads to a lively and informative discussion.

Here are some ideas that would-be contributors might like to consider researching and developing expertise in so they can share their findings with others. You don't have to have an advanced degree or oil patch experience, just the willingness to put in the research time required. Typically, the Drumbeat section of TOD is where these topics are discussed unless there is a specific article about them.

1. Loop Current and oil spill, and size, makeup and direction of oil spill

2. Existing Gulf problems, costal erosion, hypoxia, algal blooms and how the oil spill will interact with them

3. Subsurface oil plumes, scope of the problem, size, makeup, risks, current research efforts and results

4. Hurricane effects on oil spills, both known and theoretical

5. Congressional and MMS and Coast Guard hearings, what is the key testimony (Best for those who are not working full time)

6. Marsh cleanup and beach cleanup, what works, what does not, are enough resources available

7. Dispersant use, current use and effectiveness, how they work, toxic effects, choice of dispersants

8. Skimming and booming effectiveness and techniques, areas where successful and areas where failed

9. Dredging, timeline, risk vs. reward

10. Wildlife deaths, due to oil spill, due to natural causes, cause uncertain, numbers in each group

11. Safety of cleanup workers, lack of protective equipment, refusing to use protective equipment or use it properly, contributing factors, scams

12. Marsh damage, short term and long term, methods to assist marsh recovery

13. Gulf fisheries ecosystem damage and recovery, factors unique to Gulf, what have previous oil spills taught us

14. Actual amount of coastline affected and severity (Not nearly as much as what the news implies, although it is growing daily)

Some of these are moving targets. What was true yesterday can't be used to answer today's questions. Others require a lot of digging around on the web to find research studies, papers, presentations, conference reports, government agency reports, etc. Be wary of relying on MSM (main stream media) for information.

Just because this tragedy hits you in the gut, it can't prevent you from being objective. Don't learn just what supports your emotional response. Above all, TOD is based on critical thinking and a willingness to hear facts that may contradict current beliefs. If you present something as fact, you must be able to back it up with a verifiable source! Trust me, not doing your homework and getting zinged by someone who did is not fun. I've been there.

On the other hand, being able to answer questions asked by TOD members is rewarding and I hope you will consider developing a level of expertise in one of the above areas or a similar area you find interesting.

SUPERB suggestion !

I am not in the oil field, but I have built up enough expertise over time to interact and contribute.

I clearly have my passions but I also know the TOD culture well.

I have posted short bits on blue fin tuna (Bye Bye) and the Loop Current in the last week as examples of auxilairy

With TheraP, I am wondering about the interactions of post-Katrina with a new BP stresses. The video of Charlie Melancon is illustrative of what many, including myself, feel.

Best Hopes for the Newbies !


PS: Best Hopes is my stereotypical saluation, adopted after Katrina

Re the stresses you mention, Alan, I recall the biggest indictment I read (or heard) at the time of Katrina - by a commentator from another nation, describing the treatment of people trapped without food, water, any real shelter: "a nation which has stopped caring for its people". May we care for our people, and the world's people, our environment and the whole world environment. That's what's at stake this time. That's why it's such a joy to find a site like this. Let's each find a way to help.

“My question to BP is "what is the predicted pore pressure in the reservoir?" Offshore oil reservoirs are commonly 'over-pressured' meaning that the pore pressure is greater than the column of rock above – where rock is roughly 2300 kg/m3 density. Over-pressure reservoirs are common when the rate of sediment deposition exceeds the capacity of the trapped pore fluid to escape, commonly due to thick shales that trap fluids. In comparison, most reservoirs in Alberta are at hydrostatic pressure meaning that oil will not flow to surface - roughly 1000 kg/m3 density. If BP's reservoir is over-pressured - which I guess it is as you generally drill the best case first - there is no hope that the top kill will work because you cannot make mud that has a greater density than rock and you especially could not pump these extremely high density solids. I hope I the reservoir is not over-pressured. This whole thing makes me sick. Where is the foresight of these people like Mr. Hayward?? In my opinion this is what happens when you let the accountants make important decisions!”

It's overpressured. Drilled w/14.1# mud, wt up to 14.4#, then losses. Sorry I don't work with metric units much, but hydrostatic is less than 9#. Estimated formation pressure about 13,500 psi at 18000'. They were talking about 16# kill fluid to try and get the well static -- they just need to get enough down the hole for the ave density to balance the formation pressure long enough to pump cement. Sounds easy, right?

I'd suggest the topic of regulation. What regulations were possibly violated before the blowout? What changes in regulation might have prevented the accident? Do the professionals think the current level of regulation is too much, not enough or about right?

My amateur impression is that the only glaring violation was the maintenance on the BOP (dead battery, undocumented change in configuration). Whether the blowout would have happened anyway is unclear. Most of the mistakes look to be cutting corners within standard or at least legal industry practices. But so many that they were asking for trouble.

You know the silver lining in all this is that its gotten people to at least take a look at energy production and it raises some very large questions that as a society people need to re-evaluate every now and then. having a forum like TOD that gives what appears to be an unbiased view with experts from the fields involved is a priceless resource.

there are of course many who dont really care about this right now, and there are many that will forget about it when its done. for those of us who consider what is involved in producing the energy we consume this is a sea change and will hopefully have a permanent impact on TOD as well as begin a wider debate about these issues. as an industry outsider i really appreciate that this site has prepared such an outstanding foundation for this kind of discussion. I've observed that the commenters here, while often disagreeing, do so with respect to one another and have not embraced the MSM and politics of extremism. the people here are rational, considerate, intelligent and informative. Thanks Dr. Goose, HO, and all of you that contribute to make this place awesome.

Is this the plume at the end of the riser again? Or did I miss something major?


This jet looks to be sitting at the bottom of a hole. This is clear on the left side of the image.

Did the BOP get blown off?

If that's just the open wellbore, where the BOP used to be, here's hoping they are very close to stobbing a new BOP on that sucker today.

Uhhh Folks... that's not mud.

That's oil. And rather a lot of it.

That means there's no mud downhole. Does it not?

And it was blowing great big chunks of rubber... into the OIL plume... 15 minutes ago.

Not good.

And your estimation is based upon what? Provide analysis, comparison -- draw conclusions based in empirical analogies.

My estimation is based on that being oil.

Not mud.

That's all the analysis I have. I've no conclusions based in empirical analogies.

I just know oil when I see it. And that's oil. Lots of it.

I believe I looked at it at about the same time as you, and I'm not as certain as to "that being oil." The viscosity seemed wrong, particularly compared to the billowing we say when the video feed was first supplied and it really was lots of oil.

The background is much brighter, and the video cam is set for that, which means that the mud here looks much darker than what we have been looking at for a long time, closer to the BOP. Note the light that hits the plume at the top, and how much lighter that becomes. I think we're seeing a much darker column as a function of an absence of light and another setting to the video camera, to accomodate for the brighter reflections from the bottom of the sea.

Also, the effluent seems to be interacting with the sea water as you'd expect from something water-based, and not oil based.

Apologies. Was tired. After sleep, agree, don't know what the heck it is. For some time before that, though, sure seemed more like oil than mud. Wasn't expecting to see any oil, really.

I'm from the "either it's dead or it's not", "no in-betweens" camp and just can't see oil coming from a dead well. Also cannot understand stopping pumping unless you're making zero headway.

Now there's definitely mud. Oil's the question.

The riser is horizontal at the end and anything coming out will
have only horizontal velocity, unlike that leaking out of the kink
in the riser just above the BOP. However the plume rises vertically
almost immediately. Can anyone think of a mechanism that would cause
this, if the outflow was just mud at nearly twice the density of the
sea water? It is hotter, but that is not nearly enough to equalise
the densities. If there is no mechanism does this imply that the outflow
contains some oil gas or hydrate?

Okay, now there's some mud. But for half an hour or more, it was oil and big chunks of rubber, some of those chunks hitting the ROV cam.

Every time they stop pumping mud into the well any mud that has been injected will be expelled again within minutes / hours by the oil. So they need to be able to pump mud in fast enough over a prolonged period until the weight of mud in the well is sufficient to overcome the pressure of the oil - that will amount to a lot of mud in the well, but as the well fills with heavy mud, the flow of oil slows making the task easier as it progresses.

Right now, too much of the mud injected is being expelled through holes - hence the junk shots are to try and seal some of the holes.

Euan, Agree with what you said. In addition, however, the mud that is injected must totally displace the oil and gas from the blowout path. If the path is from behind the casing, there may be one or more formations in the well taking the mud and not allowing it to push the blowout fluids back from where they came.In other words they are not filling the hole with mud.Thus, every time they stop pumping, the reservoir fluids( and the pressure) below the point where the mud went simply push the mud back out again.I'm trying to keep it simple but it becomes a complex problem to solve, one that has to be solved from the bottom(relief well) and top(bullheading) at the same time.

There have been several posts here that claimed we were seeing 100% mud coming out. It was never more than 50% given the volume rate of mud injected and the fact that it was being completely mixed with the gas-oil by turbulent action. Even if they could pump the mud at 20,000 psi it would proceed to enlarge the ruptures instead of burrowing into the bore hole. As noted by ROCKMAN on numerous occasions the top kill procedure is not designed for open wells.

i dont know if its mud or oil or what, but there are other possibilities.

1) the effluent appears to have a lower viscosity than what we saw earlier.

2) if this is oil, where is the gas ?

3) judging by color alone can be misleading, there could be other aditives in the "mud".


Thanks for providing some expert commentary, HO. I too was wondering if some of the leaks were plugged for a while yesterday.

Also, in the late afternoon, the CNN feed showed a long shot of good ol' MSV Skandi Neptune Subsea 7, looking at the riser kink. You could see that she was glomped onto a riser tube with one of her claws, and in the blazing lights you could also see that she was using her thrusters to blow clear water into the riser kink area for better visibility.

What sorts of bad things might arise out of this junk shot effort. Is it likely that a pressure spike from a sudden stoppage, or simply the pressure increase itself, could cause a below-the-BOP blowout?

Heading Out - I'm still skeptical that top kill can work given the need to pump mud in at a rate faster than oil production + net mud losses to surface and given the fact that BP says blow out is via the anulus - between production tubing and casing? Though one must presume that junk shots are slowing flow sufficiently to give reason to believe they can achieve this.

Is anyone able to suggest how attaching a second BOP (to what?) is going to help. To stop drilling the secod relief well for this venture suggests BP believe it might work but I'm afraid I don't get it. How to hell do they attach a second BOP to existing with pressure tight seals?

And all this needs to be done by robots!

I have harbored many of these same concerns. Just how in the heck are the robots supposed to be able to fabricate a water-tight seal?

its one thing to damage the BOP if you think you have a realistic shot at making it work.

but to try a low probability event, and then try another low probability event just because they flow sequentially or logically doesn't make the most sense to me if the BOP is restricting the outflow somewhat and the likelyhood is that topkill or BOP replacement won't work, but exacerbate the outflow.

Granted, I am assuming that the topkill method doesn't have a reasonable chance of success.

I would like to see more public presentations of the technical proposals/solutions proposed by BP. justify not trying a solution just for the sake of trying it. half of the people in this country have college degrees; they should understand if you find the geekiest guy with the biggest glasses explain how doing nothing makes more sense than doing something.

I'm guessing they are changing the properties of the junk each iteration. They are probably using smaller stuff first, assuming they believe that lowers the chance of some sort of catastrophic failure, then when that fails, try something more aggressive. Or, if bigger junk shows some success, then add smaller stuff to try to bridge the remaining smaller leaks. All in all it is looking less and less likely that the junk plus top kill is going to succeed. Most likely the structural integrity of the BOP & lower well is just insufficient to contain the mud pressure needed. So they are probably making hail Mary passes at the moment.

BP was not going to drill the second relief well until ordered to by the government. I think that the shortage of deepwater drilling rigs must be a huge factor in the decision to use this BOP from the second relief driller. I would not imagine that taking a BOP from an operating well is possible. It seems like a mistake to me but any chance to stop this gusher quickly must be viewed by the damage of not stopping it quickly -- another two months of gushing oil and the gulf economies may be wrecked, if they are not already.

Do you have any stats about rigs not being available? I thought rig rates had dropped for the last couple of years as the price dropped, meaning that there are idle rigs.

marz -- The gov't can comandeer as many rigs as it wants. But it doesn't have to. Trust operator or drilling contractor would deny a public request. And I'm sure a few wouldn't mind a little bit of good PR by making such a "sacrifice.'

The link takes you to Rigzone, gives data on rig utilisation throughout the world. Remember that not everthing that floats can work at 5000 ft.

IMHO, the second BOP doesn't have to be attached with 100% pressure tight seals. I think (yes, i know it's a big leap:-) attaching a second BOP would allow an LMRP to be attached to the top BOP to prevent most O&G from leaking but then detached if/when a hurricane happens to come along and the well mostly stopped until the hurricane passes - so much less spillage than now. In parallel the relief wells are continued and fingers crossed will plug this by August.

Probably before your time but did you have any friends/family involved in Piper Alpha?

In parallel the relief wells are continued


In parallel the relief well is continued


With all the trouble they had drilling the original well, this delay on the second RW makes me very, very worried.

Does anyone have a good picture of the LMRP and the hydraulic operated clamp that the EDS releases to allow the separation under emergency separation conditions?

I rember Piper Alpha well, but was in Norway at the time. Apparently Aberdeen awoke to the sound of hellicopters.

My wife is an off shore safety expert and has publihsed much on what contributes to accidents in many working environments. It seems we need to have a catastrophe like this one every now and then to remind companies and people about what is at stake. Macondo is caused by human error and greed - when working on the edge you just can't afford to take certain risks.

No friends or family killed on the Piper, the memorial is just up the road from where i live - and even closer (Johnstone Gardens) is the memorial to the helicopter that went down last year - its a dangerous business.

Its worth noting that Piper Alpha meant the end of the road for Occidental. I'm not convinced that BP survives this debacle. After Gulf ecosystems and those who make their living from them the biggest losers will be BP sharelholders - which are pensioners, manily in the UK.

Thanks for the update HO. Very helpful. I have read most of the previous discussions. I often work 12 hours so trying to keep informed as best I can, and hoping something will work.

I'm in the camp of frustrated why there isn't a more accurate estimate of the volume of output of the spill per day?

Ran through all of yesterday’s post late last night. High marks for all including the newbies. I avoided TOD most of Friday…too much like watching paint dry as BP went thru the process. But at my daughter’s baseball game last night I had to offer a very non-technical explanation of the top kill effort and why it was such a difficult job. Perhaps too simplistic for many of the new smarty-pants here but it might be helpful to the newbies. Everyone feel free to judge.

Everyone knows what a water heater looks like. A little more detail: it’s a pressurized tank with an inlet line coming in from the water line to the house. To avoid tank rupture should pressures become excessive there is a “pop off” valve. At a certain pressure (let’s use 80 psi) it pops open and lets the water drain out. Now consider the BOP being the water tank. And our water tank has two pop off vales: one that pops at 80 psi (represents the pressure at the seafloor of around 2,300 psi) and the second that pops open at 400 psi (represents the 10,000 + psi of the wild flow). The objective of the exercise is to make the 400-psi valve pop open (this represents forcing the mud down the casing/drill pipe). So we start pumping in water to the tank (BOP) via the water line (choke line). At 80 psi the valve pops and water starts shooting out (the mud you see flowing out of the BOP/riser). We need to increase the tank pressure to 400 psi to make the second valve open (force the oil/NG back down the hole). So we have to increase the flow rate/pressure of the water line to force more water into the tank than the 80-psi valve is letting out. Of course, as we increase the pressure/inlet rate the water flows faster out of the 80-psi valve.

Obviously only one way to get that 400-psi valve to pop: inject water (drill mud) that much faster than it can leak out the low-pressure valve. Otherwise all the injected water (mud being pumped thru the choke line) will go out the low-pressure valve (BOP/riser). Now lets say we get the flow rate/pressure high enough to pop the 400-psi valve open. Yahoo…success! Sorry not yet. Did I forget to mention that not only did we need to pop that valve open but we need to keep it open long enough to fill up 200 water tanks (filling the csg with mud all the way to the bottom)? And what happens if we let the tank pressure drop? The 400-psi valve closes (the oil/NG forces what mud is in the csg to flow back out).

And there’s BP true dilemma: not only do they have to generate at least 10,000+ psi in the BOP they have to maintain it long enough to push the oil/NG back down 13,000’ of csg. I assume this is the purpose of the junk shot: diminish the leakage rate of the BOP.

ROCKMAN, your analogy explains the difficulties succinctly.

It "feels" difficult if not impossible based on this general description. But that's what hope is for, I guess.

[edit: removed an already answered question about erosion/BOP issues]

Extreme hopes for a rapid resolution to this. Thanks to all the experts for their time and consideration.

thanks for the analogy i appreciate it greatly and it gave me a simple question i'm sure i'm not seeing the answer to. if your low pressure valve is being overrun by the inlet off the high pressure one and that is whats causing most of the excess loss (IF thats the case), then why not increase the pressure on the inlet for the low pressure valve when the high pressure pops open, run them both at 10,000psi?

do we lack the equipment for that?
does it put too much strain on the riser?

of course those questions are all taking a back seat right now to this one:

why are we seeing a gigantic column of what appears to be pure crude oil flowing from what i can only assume is the top of the riser?

Im – That would seem to be the key…inlet pressure. But if the inlet pressure were 10,000 psi the net pressure against the oil flow would be less due to the losses thru the BOP. I suspect they can increase the pressure well above 10,000 psi but what pressure would be needed…15,000 psi…20,000 psi? And remember the higher that pressure the greater the leak loss. And that takes us to your second question: what is the weakest point in the system? There’s your limit and they may not have good handle on that. But that would also seem to be the point to the junk shot: plug off some of the leakage. But the junk is going to have to withstand 10,000 psi and hold in place. Sounds like a rather high requirement to meet.

Rockman: I'm in the business of explaining complex, arcane topics to lay people. Your radiator explanation of top kill is brilliant. I might add one other dimension to the difficulty. While increasing the pressure to 400 psi, you don't know when and if the increasing pressure might suddenly blow the whole radiator apart. And you're standing next to it. Bye the bye, your patience with educating us lay people at this site is outstanding. Thank you and all the other experts here. And I hope your daughter played as brilliantly as your explanation. Or, at least, as Paul Pierce did last night.

EL - Excellent point. Every now and then I get a little pain twing in my right shoulder after getting hit 25 years ago by a valve cover that blew off of a seperator rated at 200 psi. It popped off at less than 100 psi.

Hey Rockman I've been mainly reading.

However I came up with and idea late and the last thread that I've not seen.

The basic concept is to dilute the mud significantly with sea water and inject it. The sea water would react with the methane forming a hydrate and a sort of foam plug and also work to concentrate the mud. This would form a sort of dynamic plug of hydrates that are probably still going to get blown out however if it can clog enough the mud/junk can do its work.

Anyway its and idea I've not seen and since we know that hydrate formation at this depth worked to rapidly clog the tophat device seems to me it can be used.

Hopefully worthy of some comment :)

They are using water based mud. I cannot see how a thick enough plug (hundreds of feet likely needed to = pressure) can form.


ROCKMAN has the correct attitude. Keep it simple so that everyone can understand.

I would like to add my bit also. There were a few threads dealing with ways to crimp, plug or otherwise fix the problem that did not seem to have a grasp of basic physics - specifically confusing pressure with force. We have a disconnect here when people are making comparisons about water cutting and car wash nozzle pressures to those of an oil well.

In water cutting the water in the hole in the jewel might indeed be at 20,000 psi momentarily - but the hole is only 0.05 thousands of a square inch in diameter - amounting to about 1 pound of FORCE for that area.

Now a well pipe with diameter of 20 inches has an area of 314 square inches - with each one of those experiencing a force of in excess of 10,000 pounds. You want to plug that? Try balancing a couple of fully laden jumbo jets on it. They will float ;P (clue: 314 square inches times 10,000 pounds of force per sq inch = 3,14 MILLION pounds of force)

Now for each gallon of drilling mud you want to force down the well pipe you need to do xxx amount of WORK - and so on...

And it all quickly becomes a college 101 physics lecture - through which everyone sleeps. Except those of us who do these calculations in our heads every day at our work. And this is all very basic stuff and ignores the hydrodynamics involved. Some people here have made those calculations also but very few of us know how to make them or even understand them. ROCKMAN's analogy is an excellent example of how to make EVERYONE understand what is happening. Let's follow his example!

ransu -- There's an even more basic reason I like to keep it simple. Like Dirty Harry once said: "A man has to know his limitations". I know a little bit about a lot of oil patch matters. That compares to someone like HO who knows a whole lot about some aspects. That's why I like to leave all the heavy lifting to his capable shoulders.

OK...just hit my max kiss-ass level for the day so no more flatery for anyone...until tomorrow.

"helpful to the newbies"

And to Average Joes; thanks for that!

With your water heater example, which I guess has pipes that twist and turn, might metal fatigue also be an issue?

Regards, Matt B
Concerned Dad

I think I follow this ... but one issue that comes up for me. On many of the design specs I have seen for BOPs (and I believe this holds true for the Cameron device currently on the sea floor), the valves on the choke and kill lines are located at the bottom of the BOP stack (closest to wellhead)? These primarily serve to regulate fluid circulation and pressures when the annulus is closed. This means the two pressure values (the lower and upper annular preventers) are located above the valves where BP is introducing new drilling fluids at high pressures.

Building on something I said yesterday ... I don't think they are relying solely on a differential between the two annulus preventers to try and send the drilling mud back down the pipe (or with high pressures coming out of the choke and kill lines, although these are helping). Instead, they are trying to do this with some physics and some fairly unique characteristics of drilling mud (in particular, it's ability to maintain it's viscosity at very high pressures, grab hold of obstructions, and act as a non-newtonian fluid where forces do not need to be matched in a 1:1 relationship). In general, drilling fluid can be sent down the pipe regardless of some of the pressures that are being seen (if you have some buildup "somewhere" in the pipe … perhaps around some joints). Over time, if the maneuver is successful, the pipe will start to get closed off, the pressures will decline, and you can start moving drilling fluid more effectively down the pipe. This will take 2-3 days to find out if it is working and there is a lot of monitoring going on.

The junk shot, presumably, is something that they are trying to do to add to the debris already caught in the BOP preventing the rams and annulus from closing. They aren't trying to stop the leak at this location, they can't, but they can constrict the flow and manage the pressures better (per your description). The ultimate kill that brings the well under control, if they are successful, will take place much further down the pipe (hopefully, at around the location where they want the relief well to join the blown out well). Anything short of that, and they may not be able to add enough mud in sufficient quantities to counteract the pressures currently rising up the pipe from the reservoir.

To add to my own comment … it may be possible to do what you are describing by having a higher pressure coming out of the kill line and a lower pressure on the choke line. This could create two pressure gradients within the BOP stack and start sending an excess of drilling mud back down the pipe (where it may be able to catch on some obstructions and start forming a barrier). But it looks like a very confined area to me, and I'm not sure there is much of a difference between the pressure gradients at valve 1 (kill) and valve 2 (choke) sites, especially when there is so much pressure moving up the pipe from below.

Just back from a day out and would like to add one small point.

Once you have circa 10000 psi in the bottom of the BOP you will hold the upward flow of oil and gas. As you then increase mud flow and pressure (increasing pump speed) the mud will start going down the well. Once this is underway it is possible to back off the pumping rate/pressure within the BOP because you are adding head of mud at Specific Gravity around 2.2 rather than the oil around 0.8. This 'extra' head reduces the pressure required within the BOP to keep mud flowing down. Depending on the depth of the well you can get to the point where you need only a little above the 2200 psi of the sea at the sea bed to keep the mud going down (i.e mud pressure head about 1 psi per foot so if head is reservoir pressure 13500 minus sea bed pressure 2200 psi = 11300 psi a mud head of 11300 ft will balance this out - ipso facto isn't this about the depth of the well?

I point this out as it means whatever junk is in the BOV that allow the mud to be backpressured to obtain the pressure for flow reversal needs to hold while you get over that hump. As the mud start down the hole the stress on the junk plug becomes less until you may (I say may) get to a point where pressure equilibrium is achieved even though by then you have lost all the junk.

It is not required to hold forever, just to get over the pressure hump and well down that other side.

This is the beauty of using drilling mud rather than seawater. If you inject seawater (0.44 psi/ft) you will need the junk plug to hold forever (or until such time as you make a positive seal).

I've been following these threads the whole time and I don't think I've seen these questions answered:

1) What is the highest ever pressure recorded at a well head?
2) Are deep sea well head pressures (differential) at onset of production often more than on land?
3) Is there a theoretical maximum pressure for any given geology? If so what roughly would it be for this resevoir?
4) Is resevoir pressure homogenous across the vertical/lateral and horizontal cross section?



Here's a partial answer:

1) Haven't seen measured pressures other than 8000-9000 psi -- Does anyone have the source quote for this?

2) There's a wide range of pressures depending more on depth and overpressure than present water depth, but it's true that geopressures are typically high in Tertiary turbidite sections (strata deposited in deep water, but not necessarily in deep water today).

3) Yes, sort of. If the formation fluid pressure exceeds the minimum principal stress then the rock will fracture and fluids will leak, lowering the pressure. In the GOM the minimum principal stress is near horizontal, so induced fractures are near-vertical. When testing cement shoes, LOT's (leak-off tests) can measure this "fracture pressure," but the upper limit is easily estimated by calculating the overburden pressure, basically the integrated weight of the water and sediments above you (you get that from the depth and density vs. depth function. Fracture pressure in areas like the GOM are somewhat less than the overburden

4) In the hydropressured section, yes. Within the geopressured section, no. In the GOM deepwater there is typically little to no hydropressured section, geopressured from near surface down. On the shelf there is often a thick hydropressured section in the sand-rich deltaic deposits above an older geopressured section. In geopressures, within a good reservoir, fluid pressure is generally on a single hydrostatic gradient that is a function of fluid type. E.g. brine about 0.465, oil about 0.300-0.320, gas about 0.100-0.150, but depends on the specific fluid. Reservoir sands are often separated by good impermeable shale seals, so each reservoir has it's own fluid pressure gradient.

Macondo (from scout ticket leaked to blogs) drilled bottom hole with 14.1# mud, weighted up to 14.4# and lost circulation suggesting that reservoir fluid pressure is between these two gradients.

14.1# is .733 psi/ft; 14.4# is .749 psi/ft; at 18000' that's 13,000-13,500 psi reservoir pressure

The static well head pressure would have been 13500-(13000*.300) or 9600 psi filled with light oil.
Perhaps this is why "8-9000 psi" was less than expected.

Please note that some of the highest absolute pressures are encountered in deep gas wells in shallow water and onshore - e.g. 18# mud at 20000' is 18700 psi; some deep shelf wells are being drilled with higher mud weights and much greater depths - the technology probably doesn't even exist to complete and produce these wells which are also at elevated temperatures (above 400F).

Sorry, Marco, I misread your first question - thought you said "the wellhead," not "a wellhead." I don't know the answer offhand to this, but I guarantee that it's a lot higher than seen at Macondo.


Thanks for all the info. Yes, I was meaning in general. The reasons for my questions really are concerning the fact that it seems like preesures are a big unknown and yet all important when it comes to managing completions like this.

Thad Allen let slip that number (8,000 to 9,000 psi under BOP) when interviewed by Mobile Press-Register while on Dauphin Island.

He said officials had been able to measure the pressure, learning that oil was flowing into the device at 8,000 to 9,000 pounds per square inch and flowing out into the Gulf at around 2,650 pounds per square inch.

You cannot say that "they" have not been open with all the technical data and background information.

Best Hopes for a cold sarcanol mixed drink this afternoon,


PS: for newbies, sarcanol is a refreshing beverage invented here on TOD. It is used to indicate a need for a little "refreshing" sarcasm.

Alan et al -- Something else to consider about the pressure estimates. Lets say they have a good estimate of 10,000 psi of the wild flow. That would be the FTP...flowing tubing pressure. But if you could magicly stop the flow what would be the pressure in the csg (called the SIP...shut in pressure)? I have a well right now with a FTP of 2,800 psi. But if I shut the well in the SIP instantly jumps to 9,000 psi. Any effort that succeeds in stoping the flow will have to handle a pressure significantly higher than any of the FTP's estimated.

Marco – The highest bottom hole pressure I’ve measured first hand was just shy of 20,000 psi. And that was on a well where the anxiety was so high that some hands were sleeping in the escape capsule when they were off tower. Finished the job without a problem but that was as much luck as anything else.

Wellheads are rated as needed whether onshore or off. The limit for reservoir pressure is actually determined by the rocks overlying it. All rocks have a fracture gradient. The reservoir cannot exceed the fracture limit of the overlying rock otherwise the oil/NG would have leak out. That’s one reason why they don’t drill with the heaviest mud weight possible: fracturing the rock and losing mud to the rock can lead to sticking drill pipe or even a blow out. Actually no…the pressure can vary when you’re dealing with a tall column of oil/NG. If the were a 300’ oil/NG column in the reservoir the pressure would be somewhat higher at the top of the structure (max hydrocarbon column) compared to structurally lower

Leak 19,000+ Barrels/day

I just read, in the last thread, that the 12,000 to 19,000 b/day is the LOWER BOUND for three separate estimates. The group refused to place an upper estimate.


Does anyone have a good figure for the leak rate of Ixtoc 1? All I have read gives estimate of 10,000 - 30,000 bpd.

I don't know crap, but this seems to be quite a range?

I've been researching the Ixtoc 1 blowout. There seem to be a lot of operational parallels here for BP. They even tried something called a sombrero which failed. Here's part of what I have learned so far..

An average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf. In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the well. In July 1979 the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels per day, and early in August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to10,000 barrels per day. Mexican authorities also began drilling two relief wells into the main well to lower the pressure of the blowout and allow response personnel to cap it. Since fluid had begun to flow around the wellhead, the only realistic method of control was a relief well. Two were drilled, and the second relief well was successful.

Lets hope that BP learns from that experience and stops cutting corners to save money.

There is not a fact that shows they are cutting corners to save money. Ixtoc was in 1979 near the advent of dynamic kills. It also had other issues.

It bothers me that the Coast Guard continued to use the 5000 barrels a day number until "forced" to allow independent appraisals.

I'ma noob, found the site, started reading decided to join you. A couple of questions.. Is there a place somewhere that would let me see more this one riser shot.. is there a site map that shows the leaks and what is deployed at them? It seems we are having our view controlled pretty tightly.

When I was previously viewing the riser leak, the flow was blowing out more or less horizontally west to east +-. Now, it is spewing straight up in a depression of some sort... Is this the same leak?

Thanks for all the interesting posts and discussion, there is much to learn here.

Range of lower bounds, or best-estimate "overlap" as I've seen some places?

AlanfromBigEasy -


Several days ago while discussing the flow rate out of the leaks, I made a few observations and rough back-of-the-envelope calculations and suggested that we set up a flow rate pool. At that time I put my 'bid' in at 20,000 bbl/day (as oil, not total fluid flow) as what I though was a reasonable estimate.

Does this make me qualify as a flow rate expert and deserving of a place in this flow rate group? Or does this only show that this is not astrophysics we're dealing with, but rather the ability to draw some reasonable conclusions based on observations and some basic principles of undergraduate fluid dynamics?

It appears to me that the people who have the greatest interest in muddying (pun) the flow problem are the same ones who have perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, depending on whether the total size of the oil release is smaller or larger. They want something that they can argue about endlessly once the inevitable litigation starts and a protracted game of the battle of the expert witnesses commences.

While the report is an interim report and the higher bound is forthcoming, I did find Professor Wereley's statements from the PBS article amusing. For example: "Wereley said he was surprised to see the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels and was "disappointed" with the way that the press release was phrased."

Come on Professor, stop looking like a child trying to salvage your original 70,000 bpd estimate and simply focus on the task at hand. Play with the press and you will get BURNED.

Marine traffic in the spill area - courtsey of whomever posted the link to the live ships maps yesterday. This was as small as I could make it and have it show up at all....It looks pretty crowded in there!

marine traffic

The introduction has an incorrect statement.

One has to remember that these drilling rigs are at a premium, and there is an opportunity cost with just about every decision.

There could be a dozen drilling rigs on station today if BP had been willing to spend the money. And with all deep water drilling halted in the GoM, even more.

If they need another BOP, there are a number available without "stealing" one from a relief well.

The stop on drilling the second relief well is just penny pinching at BP.


It may actually be a very good call by BP, the rig may have just set a string of casing and cemented, they could hangoff a plug in the wellhead, close the shear rams, disconnect the Upper Marine Package and pull over to the blowout with a backup BOP while another rig is mobilized to come over and relatch to the relief well with their UMP. Saves time if the cutting of the riser and need to restab a BOP quickly to reduce oil outflow at full blowout force.

I think it is only the drilling of new wells that has been suspended, not all drilling.

BOPs of this sort are probably not off-the-shelf items which are kept in stock in a Cameron warehouse. There is probably a lead time of at least a few months.

Most drilling rigs are probably contracted out on other jobs, and not idling about in a harbour somewhere. It is therefore probably not just a question of money but also persuading another opco to release a rig from a contract.

Whatever BP is doing now, penny-pinching it is not.

It's "tools up" at first safe spot to do so for all operating exploration wells in the DW.

See discussion on yesterday's thread.

BOP's for land are somewhat off the shelf and Cameron and other producers keep a small amount around but subsea BOP's at least 6 years ago (when I got out of planning subsea jobs)usually were custom .. each well dealing with different pressures and other parameters. Lead time then was 6-12 months. Millon dollar items aren't built to sit on a shelf.

I am not an engineer but came out of Project Management .. did project controls or what you might hear as cost and scheduling with scheduling being my specialty.

Aren't BOPs periodically rebuilt or upgraded ? The one with all of the TV time has an upgrade in hydraulic pressure and was sent to the bottom of the sea with one test ram installed.

I know that most rigs have "their" BOP, but isn't there some mix and match ?


The stop on drilling the second relief well is just penny pinching at BP.


They are still paying for the rig to be where it is whether it is turning a bit or not. So how can you say they are penny pinching? They are supposed to be getting the rig ready to use the BOP stack on the well that is blowing out. They cannot do that if the rig has its BOP stack tied up drilling another well. As far as the cost of these things they are all going to ring up at somewhere around a half a million per day each. Have you counted how many they are sitting on the water out there right now? That is not counting all the support vessels in the area. I would hate to see the mud bill for this operation.

BP could lease a 3rd, 4th and 5th rig and use the BOP from the 5th rig *OR* just get an idle BOP. Example might be a BOP recently refurbished.

This well is in the heart of the world's offshore supply base. Almost everything is manufactured (and refurbished) within one days shipping of the blowout.

I read that 33 deepwater rigs are going to be idled by the MMS order to stop drilling. A number of those are capable of 5,000' deep operations.

And we are close enough to Brazil to have already brought in one specialty ship from PetroBras.

No, penny pinching runs deep in the BP culture.


Petrobas lease most of their deepwater vessels from Transocean.

Couldn't put my hands on the reference, but I believe Petrobras loaned BP the vessel they were going to use for offloading BR's new FPSO at Cascade/Chinook (in the GOM) for use in offloading the Enterprise at Macondo.

The Petrobras ship was already in the GOM.


Agreed on that point, thought to save a few bucks on a liner instead of a full string of production casing, more on cutting out the CBL, a few hours on displacing the riser before setting the final plug.
How's that working out for them? Tragic for the Gulf of Muck(formerly known as GOM) ecosystem, extreme example of pennywise, pound foolish.

it's my understanding that the last casing string set WAS a full string of 9 7/8 by 7 in tapered string and not a liner. Just say'n.

12 1/4 hole to TD, call me sceptical. What depth for the 13 3/8 set then? If so maybe that is why lost circ problems, poor well casing design

Frakken - The hole was not 12 1/4" to TD. An early diagram reflected that there was 9 7/8" already set to, IIRC, just above where the 7" was run. Ther ewas some discussion on why how the 7" was swaged back to the 9 7/8". As to why they did not just run a full string of 7", well, you've got me there.

My understanding is a tapered production casing string 7" by 9 7/8" which IMHO made the cement job very difficult. For one it's a long trip down for 51 bbls of cement and contamination with mud would be very likely. This is especailly likely because of the tapered string and the type of cement wiper plugs required. They help isolate the cement from the mud but if they have to seal in two different casing ID's then they will necesarily be less efficient in the larger size (possibly allowing mud to bypass and contaminate the cement). This could have been avoided by running the 7" as a liner and then tying it back later. In this way the plugs would have been optimum, the effective circlating density lighter (reducing the chances for losses), and could provide for a liner top packer as an additonal barrier to flow after cementing. Of course this is all hindsight but these issues will be evaluated.

BP could lease a 3rd, 4th and 5th rig and use the BOP from the 5th rig *OR* just get an idle BOP. Example might be a BOP recently refurbished.

This well is in the heart of the world's offshore supply base. Almost everything is manufactured (and refurbished) within one days shipping of the blowout.

I read that 33 deepwater rigs are going to be idled by the MMS order to stop drilling. A number of those are capable of 5,000' deep operations.

And we are close enough to Brazil to have already brought in one specialty ship from PetroBras.

No, penny pinching runs deep in the BP culture.


BULL!!! The penny pinching may have been in the well design but I don't see it now. It is costing them a fortune for everyday this thing continues, not to mention the lost production. Besides unless you have looked lately it is a little crowded in the immediate area of the well site lately. Perhaps you know someone willing to throw more money at it than they are right now? I fully expect they have some of the best minds they can get their hands on right now from engineers to wild well control experts and that all costs money too.

The first two relief wells were spudded 3,000' from the wild well (and @ right angles to each other). If RW #3 and #4 need to be spudded at 3,500' or 4,000' or even 5,000' away to create clearance, so be it. And they need not be all at right angles to each other, symmetrically around the well.

IMHO, crowding is a non-issue.

And each relief well not completed (only one will be) costs @ $100 million. Per our President, BP wanted to drill only one RW, and save that $100 million for a second RW.

The wild well was a month and a half behind schedule. This could easily happen to any RW is this difficult geology.

I find an extra half day of additional pollution in the Gulf unacceptable and if spending an extra $200 million of BP's money will shut it down 6 hours sooner, I think that is money VERY well spent !

Another BP penny pinching is hiring clean-up crews @ $10 /hour. What type of employees can you get for $10/hour to work in swamps, heat and humidity, away from home over night ? How effective will they be ?


correct, you could set up 5000' away and even drill a horizontal relief well, 5000' lateral and intersect well at liner casing shoe, no need to mill into casing

errrr, horrizontal at 18000 feet with 14+ppg OBM, known lost returns zones, drilling into a blowout? Should be an interesting well. Suspect it would take quite a bit longer to drill than a conventional directional well and may require several redos.

make that several rodeos, as long as Alan is in for more reliefs wells go for the major science project with the rotating head and drill underbalanced, but maybe not such a good plan during hurricane season when a quick getaway may be in order.

I find an extra half day of additional pollution in the Gulf unacceptable and if spending an extra $200 million of BP's money will shut it down 6 hours sooner, I think that is money VERY well spent !


Well there you go BP should just hire "spare no expense" Alan from the Big Easy to run the show for them and maybe we can save a half a day here.

Cry me a river, this is affecting the livelihood of thousands both inside and outside of the oilfield (including my own) right now and our future as well. No thanks to BP, but it is a lot like crying over the proverbial spilt milk on the floor, or crying about closing the gate after the cattle have left. Seeing so many who don't know what they are talking about harping about it doesn't make the pain any less everyday this continues. IMHO

Hush. Wireline.

BP employees and stockholders will be damn lucky to get off with 2 weeks in a re-ed camp. Proper thinking folks want them against the wall.... RIGHT DAMN NAO!

Hush. Wireline.

BP employees and stockholders will be damn lucky to get off with 2 weeks in a re-ed camp. Proper thinking folks want them against the wall.... RIGHT DAMN NAO!

Yes I have noted the wailing and gnashing of teeth both on the tube and in the threads on the internet. No doubt if they can get to some of them there would be bloodshed.

Actually the MMS should hire me. First hour, start hearings on removing the operating license for Atlantis and Thunderhorse.

Your livelihood and that of my neighbors (GeoNola is across the street and a few doors down, several others) is important, but not, by far, the most important issue.

You somehow think that the mud bill and $500,000/day lease rates are significant. They are not. Less than "petty cash".

If you must put an economic value of this spill, then use $400 million/day.

Atlantic blue fin tuna stand a decent chance of extinction.

We may lose hundreds of square miles of marshland. Commerical fisheries hurt for decades, and MUCH more.


You somehow think that the mud bill and $500,000/day lease rates are significant. They are not. Less than "petty cash".

Wow first time I see a cool Billion referred to as petty cash. Well live and learn I say. Well here is hoping you get that "oil free transport" you been talking about.

Have you considered a bicycle?

Of course that bicycle is going to have to be manufactured using some form of energy, not counting the manufacture of the materials to build it from and then the truck or train that brings that bicycle to you will require some form of portable energy as well. I have long voted that all who hate the oilfield and the drilling industry get to have a free bicycle of their very own and they have to turn out the lights and no A/C in the middle of a South Louisiana July, August and September. I mean that would certainly help ease the strain on peak oil and it would leave more for those of us who don't have a problem with using a portable form of energy.

A link to my paper that will, among other issues, keep the USA from becoming a 3rd World economy, reduce carbon emissions 38% and oil use 22%. And increase employment by 4%.

Trains go from Scotland to the Pacific Ocean today without a "portable energy source". Except for one tourist steam locomotive, not one Swiss train uses anything but renewable energy.

And Swiss rail handles 1/3rd of the freight ton-miles and 1/6th of the passenger-miles with just 3% of the transportation energy, all renewable. During WW II, Switzerland kept going with Non-Oil Transportation during a seven year 100% oil embargo.

Personally, I use about 75 gallons of diesel/year, I walk and use our electric streetcar a lot.

In my attic I am most of the way towards a nominal R-19 between the rafters with two R-30 layers on top of that. New refrigerator rated at 396 kWh/year, Bosch washing machine ($9/year), tankless gas hot water heater (more efficient), etc.

Overall, a 75% to 80% reduction in home energy use.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation#,


# - Electrify and expand railroads and move most of the freight to them
- Build Urban Rail even faster than the French are currently doing (adjusting for work week & population)
- Bicycling
- Walkable communities

alan, thanks for posting that paper, its awesome to see the amount of work you put into it, and is an excellent testimony that you'ree not just talking out your ass.

thing is, you posted your email, address and phone number along with it, just FYI.

Trains go from Scotland to the Pacific Ocean today without a "portable energy source". Except for one tourist steam locomotive, not one Swiss train uses anything but renewable energy.

And Swiss rail handles 1/3rd of the freight ton-miles and 1/6th of the passenger-miles with just 3% of the transportation energy, all renewable. During WW II, Switzerland kept going with Non-Oil Transportation during a seven year 100% oil embargo.

Question do those trains use electricity? How is that electricity produced? What is its source?
You must be talking about when they developed the coal to liquid concept. Most of the greenies don't like the use of coal in any form. The Germans had to use coal to make gasoline to power their tanks. They couldn't get any oil either.

SBB (Swiss Rail) owns it's own hydroelectric plants (they produce 16.7 Hz electricity, best Hz back in 1900 for trains). 90+% of their power comes from in house power (100% in a wet year).

The remainder is converted from 50 Hz grid power (16.7 x 3 = 50), which is about half hydro and half nuke.

Switzerland has no coal (they did buy some from the Germans for their non-electrified trains and for heat & industry). Also, in 1940 and 1941 they bought some lubricants.

They had 10 to 11 months in storage, but the Swiss Army and Air Force got most of that. Perhaps 3 months worth for civilians for 7 years. Medical & police got most, a small amount to agriculture.

A western industrial democracy managed to function for 7 years with mainly electric and some steam trains (today 100% electric), trams, bicycles and shoe leather.
Across Siberia, electricity is hydroelectric. The rest is a mainly a mix of nuclear, coal, natural gas and hydro.

Switching freight from trucks to electrified container trains trades 20 BTUs of diesel for 1 BTU of electricity.


Ah, yes, low frequency AC. New York's IRT used to use 25 Hz, so even some of the incandescent lighting in the stations would flicker like crazy...

SBB (Swiss Rail) owns it's own hydroelectric plants (they produce 16.7 Hz electricity, best Hz back in 1900 for trains). 90+% of their power comes from in house power (100% in a wet year).

The remainder is converted from 50 Hz grid power (16.7 x 3 = 50), which is about half hydro and half nuke.

Well kool, I guess whatever works for them. I have seen the greenies complain about us damming up the rivers and streams in the U.S. for hydroelectric purposes. That is one of the biggest reasons you don't see it being done much anymore in the U.S. In fact seems like I read somewhere a few years ago about dams being removed. River damming leads to dramatic decline in native fish numbers

The greens seem to have also been one of the big stopping points on nuclear power plant construction in the U.S. the last I saw on this. Although it has just been released recently they are fixing to start constuction on a couple of new nuke plants. It will however be years before we see the output from these. Like a lot of things it takes time to do the physical part. Kind of like trying to kill a wild well and picking up the spilled oil. Of course we can throw ever increasing numbers of workers at it I suppose to maybe save a half a day here and there. Now if we could just do something about the heat and humidity of the Louisiana swamp in the summertime.

I am still praying we don't get a hurricane in the mix before the kill well is drilled. I can remember being sent in 3 times off of a drill ship one time in the late 80's due to hurricanes coming into the gulf. It took us a long time to finish out job. By the time they would get the riser run and ready to work here comes another one and time to start pulling the riser again.

My brother, who has spent more time in New Orleans than I have, would call this a 'Louisiana easy job'. Anyone who has spent any time there knows exactly what he is talking about; the 'small' fix- it problem that turns into a nightmare.

Clearly, the cultures are different; BP's and a more focussed organization like ... Ross Perot's old EDS? It'a impossible to think of any agency that would or could do a better job currently, while having having at the same time done a worse job. Blowouts, meltdowns, finance panics, airplace crashes, Titanic sinkings ... happen.

I agree with Alan, BP has not been showing much urgency. Neither has the US government. The US can commandeer equipment. It can certainly create a threatening and ominous backdrop of asset freezes, prosecutions, investigations that dramatically increase the pressure on BP. A failure in China that cost the state the amounts that this blowout will would result in executions of respeonsible parties. While that would be considered a bit overboard here, there is the usual finance- sector impunity on the part of BP upper management. There is to be no accountability.

At the same time, the government can create incentives that the private sector cannot. It can open the lease to other drillers of relief wells and pay substantial bonuses to the company that kills the well.

The information management by the Coast Guard has been poor and oil recovery and habitat protection has been inept. The priorities - money first, management appearances and perogatives second, non- management human needs a distant third and the environment not at all - have never been clearer.

Unfortunately, these are the same priorities of the US population as a whole. I don't see anyone giving up driving because of the damage to the Gulf environment.

I agree with Alan, BP has not been showing much urgency. Neither has the US government.

It is sad but there are the physical aspects to deal with in wild well control. Yes these things do take time. Just imagine adding drill ships 3 & 4 as some poster is suggesting and moving them out to 5,000' as someone else suggested. Lets see now 5,000' from the original well, plus the 5,000' hang down with the riser, plus the lateral to intersect the original well at some lower point so that it can be pumped with mud to kill it and then cemented. Seems to me we may be adding another month or two to that drilling and casing time to allow for this new (X') measured depth. But then what do I know?

Some of the very ones harping the loudest about giving up our automobiles seem to have private jets of their own that they fly around it while touting what the rest of us should be doing. I was watching some guy on CNN in the other night with great interest. I think they said his name was Dave Matthews or something like that probably have the first name wrong.

I will agree they haven't shown the greatest urgency with the spill clean up, but I think the company itself is probably focused a lot more on getting the cause of the spill in the first place stopped. I believe the government should probably be the ones focusing on the management of the spill cleanup and just send BP the bill.

When compared to destroying an ecosystem 1 billion *IS* petty cash.

I mean that would certainly help ease the strain on peak oil and it would leave more for those of us who don't have a problem with using a portable form of energy.

Tell you what, if your energy use and extraction don't F up the commons, meaning the oceans and the atmosphere then I won't advocate putting you and others like you, (BP execs) behind bars for crimes against humanity.

In the meantime please contact me at my posted email for my shipping address. I'd like that free bicycle... I could use a spare.

BTW I live in South Florida and my current monthly electric bill including for AC use is under $40.00 a month.

For lights I have Solar powered LEDs! What's in your fixtures?

When compared to destroying an ecosystem 1 billion *IS* petty cash.

Well I am sorry to say I don't get to live in Fantasyland, I live in South Louisiana where I DO have to work for a living. Lately I have done well to get my house jacked up and started doing some improvements to it as well. All the money coming out of the sweat of my own labor(no government handouts here). We don't all get to be doctors and lawyers engineers, upper management or whatever your station in life is. Good luck to you and I am glad you get to do the things you are doing. I like trying to do the little things in life like keeping my family fed and keeping a roof over our head. Maybe one day I can afford the the fancy stuff if I get to live long enough.

As far as putting me behind bars or anyone else down here behind bars for using our resources, bring it on.

Another BP penny pinching is hiring clean-up crews @ $10 /hour. What type of employees can you get for $10/hour to work in swamps, heat and humidity, away from home over night ? How effective will they be ?


From what I read it was $12/hr and that is fairly common for what is basically unskilled labor these days, based on personal experience. How much labor have you been hiring lately?
You would be surprised to see how many Mexicans I see doing the jobs these days that no one else wants to do at $12/hr.

And yes the heat and the humidity in the La. swamps is pretty unbearable this time of year. Another thing I have personally experienced. Maybe BP can get a giant fan from one of those giant battleship screw things they been talking about to give them a giant air conditioner over the swamp while they soak up the oil. After all BP needs to spare no expense here.

How BP to hire illegal aliens to save a few dollars hour !

And the advertised rate in New Orleans was $10/hour.


How BP to hire illegal aliens to save a few dollars hour !

And the advertised rate in New Orleans was $10/hour.


You got me Alan I guess they penny pinching the people in NOLA.

I read somewhere (article on MSNBC) that they were using prison workers for the cleanup. (That 300-400 group of workers who were picked up by a bus as soon as the Pres left.) Can't believe everything you read though.

Have already heard from friend at Chevron that their "brain trust" is already at BP .. loaned out immediately. Have not talked to all my old friends at other locations .. understand they have most of the Norwegian experts already as well.

By the way it takes about 14 days to get a vessel up from Brazil, if they had one at a stopping point. These boats don't exactly travel at airline speeds.

BP's top executives base their decisions almost exclusively on "How do I keep my job?". They can follow their job security daily on an open stock market. That is all.

Maybe BP will use Pride International's new drillship Deep Ocean Ascension to finish drilling the second relief well? It arrived in the GoM yesterday - just in time for the moratorium. It was suppose to spud an exploration well for BP. I can't imagine the Ascension would sit idle or move out of the GoM because BP won't put it to work on the relief well effort. The press would tear them a new one!

Alan, you are correct that in addition to no new wells, the President ordered all deepwater rigs currently drilling to cease at the safest opportunity to do so. The press keeps referring to 33 exploratory wells, but this is ALL drilling from MODUs - development, appraisal, exploration, etc. Apparently, Salazar realized a little late that he inadvertently allowed rigs on production facilities like Thunder Horse to keep drilling. The DOI is in the midst of shutting this down, too, with minimum embarrassment spin control ongoing.

I'd say that's a pretty good guess. So another point about wanting this thing stopped as soon as humanly possible:

BP operates in every DW environment in the WORLD. ALL of those countries are likely watching this to see what happens. Most of them likely cannot bring anything like even the surface cleanup gear to bear quickly (for all that it isn't working as well as one might hope).

Additionally - for some of the other countries, the spread of oil as it is would already be reaching international waters...possibly creating an international incident in an area not really well equipped to deal with that, either.

So we have damage to reputation, possible sanctions from US gov't., increases in rig costs due to massive increases in insurance (at least in the States - already high elsewhere, I think), and the possibility of some other countries tightening down DW drilling regs as well.

As far as how many some point you get so many going to worry about collisions...3 or 4, tho? BP only wanting to do 1? Not anything that I have enough experience to even comment on.

And we are close enough to Brazil to have already brought in one specialty ship from PetroBras.


How close are we?

Speaking as someone who reads the quarterly transcripts of earnings report Q&A sessions with analysts of a couple of the offshore rig companies I can assure you all that lots of offshore rigs are available. Read how the analysts probe at Ensco, Transocean, and other operators about when they expect GOM demand to really come back and how much later will demand in other parts of the world come back.

Thant last statement is is an opinion only.

I think it is only the drilling of new wells that has been suspended, not all drilling.

BOPs of this sort are probably not off-the-shelf items which are kept in stock in a Cameron warehouse. There is probably a lead time of at least a few months.

Most drilling rigs are probably contracted out on other jobs, and not idling about in a harbour somewhere. It is therefore probably not just a question of money but also persuading another opco to release a rig from a contract.

Whatever BP is doing now, penny-pinching it is not.

I think it is only the drilling of new wells that has been suspended, not all drilling.

BOPs of this sort are probably not off-the-shelf items which are kept in stock in a Cameron warehouse. There is probably a lead time of at least a few months.

Most drilling rigs are probably contracted out on other jobs, and not idling about in a harbour somewhere. It is therefore probably not just a question of money but also persuading another opco to release a rig from a contract.

Whatever BP is doing now, penny-pinching it is not.

No it's all DW wells currently drilling - MMS lists 35, 2 of which are the Macondo relief wells.

So Development Driller II gives it's BOP to DWH blowout. How does DD II ever start drilling it's relief well again without a 6 month delay?

Can somebody please explain 'ballooning' to me (context being the drilling engineers testimony yesterday that addt'l casing strings were run because the well was 'ballooning').

Is that the hole wanting to collapse? Or is it something more to do w/ gas and less to do w/ unconsolidated sediment?

I'm not an oil guy, but in a long past part of my career we had a phenomena that we caled ballonning, that is probably related. We are pushing high pressure into a cyllindrical well pipe. If the pipe is not strong enough, but is ductile enough to bend, then a portion of it can get forced to expand by the pressure, thinning and getting weaker still as it goes. Most liekly would lead to catastrophic failure.

Now, maybe someone familar with well terminology can confirm or dispute whether they use "balloning" in the same way?

"Ballooning" in this context refers to losing mud to the formation when pumping or slightly overbalanced, and having the mud come back in when pumping stopped or mud-wt slightly lowered. Very difficult situation to go forward drilling as too high mw/ecds will cause lost circulation, too little and the well comes in on you - problem is no margin.

Damn it toll…I was hoping no one would bring up ballooning. I didn’t know much about it until I started doing DW well site pore pressure analysis. Here’s the dumb geologist explanation. HO might want to lay on the detail explanation.

Ballooning is a character of oil-based mud (OBM). Think of OBM as having an elastic character compared to water base. When you’re drilling with OBM the e mud system is pressurized. As Point out before a key method of determining if a well is trying to kick you is to check the mud returns when you shut the mud pumps off. If the mud keeps flowing you may have the well beginning to kick you. But with OBM you can still see a significant mud flow even if the well isn’t try to flow on you. The OBM expands (balloons) when the pumps go off. Makes it all the more difficult to tell how close your mud weight is to a correct balance. So if you have to raise MW it can make ballooning worse so at some point you run a liner to get away from this complication.

Thanks Rock...

Dumb geo arguments are great! I used to be one, so those I actually kinda understand...except now I'm a dumb geek, so maybe not.'s sounding more and more like even knowing what was going ON in that well was really tough. Altho then one wonders if that wouldn't point one to being overly conservative and spending more time making sure that everything was good to go....

Would you maybe explain one more thing? On the original neg. pressure test - BP Sr. company man said 'no go'. Discussion about whether the neg test was bad due to a 'U-tube' effect. Then they tweaked some pressure guages and got a good test.


toll .. that's the story about the neg test that first came out. Not confirmed but supposedly the Halliburton hands intepreted the neg test as a failure. They were then asked to leave the company man's office while the test was "re-evealuated". And then the test was deemed valid. Might be a BS story or not. The truth will come out under oath. Likley another one of those judgment call arguments.

That was from testimony - from the subsea supervisor on the rig.

Pleasant said when he began his shift that day, he went to the drill floor and found a tool-pusher, one of the main drilling crew, discussing results of the negative pressure test with Robert Kaluza, BP's top official on the rig. He said the tool-pusher, Wyman Wheeler, was concerned that barrels of mud had leaked out during the pressure test. The workers disagreed about where the mud had been lost.

Pleasant said Kaluza, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination this week to avoid testifying, was the one who insisted that the test results weren't satisfactory.

"Bob Kaluza said that according to APD (the rig's permit to drill), we didn't achieve the results," Pleasant said.
Similarly, Christopher Haire, a cementer for Halliburton, said drillers were "unsatisfied" with the negative test, which returned 15 barrels of mud, rather than the ideal of no mud released.

And yet, the top drilling official on the rig, Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell, and BP's well designer on shore, Mark Hafle, testified previously that they believed the pressure tests were successful and no cause for concern.

Kaluza and the other BP man on the rig, Donald Vidrine, ended up deciding to alter some valve pressures and do a second negative test that showed no mud returns and that Pleasant agreed appeared to be a successful test.

PS - the bit about 'ballooning' was from testimony, too. Drilling engineer who designed the casing. He was getting HAMMERED by the MMS examiner.

Rockman: Having been in court when many hundreds of witnesses have testified under oath during the last 41 years, "the truth will come out under oath" is a commendable leap of faith.


there's testimony from yesterday concerning this from Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell. and also earlier testimony from Chris Pleasant (Subsea Manager).

Miles Ezell testified that Jason Anderson, duty Toolpusher was the leading expert on the rig in well control situations - in fact he gave courses in well control as a Transocean Instructor. Miles Ezell said that because of his total confidence in Jason's review of the second pressure test and his explanation of the earlier anomaly he was personally satisfied that all was well when they spoke at 9:20pm before going to bed.

Also from testimony yesterday Miles Ezell said that Joseph Keith was tasked with monitoring mud returns at the time and had not been relieved of that duty. Asked if someone else could have told him to stand down he replied "Not by anyone who's still alive anyway"

tow -- In that case Mr. Keith has a big problem: if you were watching the mud returns how did you not see the well coming in? We're not talking a subtle call: either mud was rushing out of the drill pipe/csg annulus when the pumps we off or not. This really isn't rocket science: if you turn the faucet off does the water stop coming out of the spout? I'll make a WAG and say that eventually he'll explain the he couldn't measure the mud returns accurately because they were shipping mud off the rig and he wasn't able to track the volume changes in the various mud tanks. BTW -- that is the standard excuse offered when some misses a kick coming in. And that's why I'll run a mud engineer off the first time he offers that as an excuse for missing a kick. If he can't keep track of the mud volume for any reason he needs to stop ops and fix the problem. The BOP is your last option. The first, and by far the best, line of defense is monitoring your returns. Oil/NG cannot flow up the well unless it pushes the mud out of the way first. This isn't the space shuttle with 3 million moving parts. It's a piece of dumb iron pipe with mud flowing out the end of it.

After checking I see that Joseph Keith was scheduled to give evidence yesterday at the Hearing but he did not appear. Can't find any press reports saying why.

The BOP is your last option.

Amen brother I am so happy to see you say that.

The BOP man bumped the pressure on the annulus from 1,500lbs to 1,900lbs before the second test (if I recall the testimony correctly) because someone thought the annulus was leaking and others thought the well was 'U tubing'. This was beyond normal working pressure. I don't understand the language either.

Not to be a pain, but, where did the kinked over riser view go?

Or are we looking at the blown off end of the riser, and a deep hole it now sits in? That flow rate does not look appealing at all. And it appears to be substantially darker than the mud cam shots we were looking at yesterday. Would I be correct in drawing the inference we are looking at unrestrained crude oil spewing into the the ocean unchecked?

My observation also. Looks much darker this morning, or is the lighting?

I was asked to repost due to popular demand for the book.

Uh, why is it they don't have subs down there? Could it be the sea floor pressure is 2500 psi? What part of the physics did you miss? This isn't your local lake or bath tub. Why do you think the top hat was 100 tons? could it be the pressure of 13,000 psi of crude ejecting from the BOP? Hum, gee wiz if would could only invent a new type of physics that you suggest maybe this would be easy? Maybe we enter the anti-physics world you live in and do the opposite? Maybe we manage the liquid nitrogen crowd with anti-physics and the sinking battle ship people too? Oh, yes, the giant screw crowd my personal fav!
I think I am writing a book of all the anti-physics solutions, great coffee table book right? Didn't Saturday Evening Post do the Rube Goldberg sketches?
Mississippi 252 book of anti-physics solutions? I can see it now jacket, the big giant screw, maybe a loctite coating? Oh my, the giant screw driver to install? Do you think Craftsman would sponsor the giant screw? Maybe a Nascar like painted screwdriver? Wow, now we could just keep this going we could come up with a whole new standard model of physics. TEE GIANT SCREW MEETS THE ANTI-BLACK HOLE?

If the thrusters of the battleship were angled to the side (can be done using off-the-shelf parts) and the giant screw was attached to the ship's keel prior to sinking, the ship would pirouette if waterproof engines were used--it would be the giant screw driver! Iits weight would help drive the giant screw into the well, making it even more perfect.

I think the rotation of the sinking battleship should be powered by nucular bombs. Just put liek 20 on the left side of the pointy part (at the front) and 20 on the right side of the butt-end part (at the back). Since gravity still works underwater, they could just hang the bombs over the side with rope, tied onto the handrails that all boats have to keep you from falling into teh water. It would have to be really strong rope though, maybe make some out of spider silk??? WHY ARE THEY NOT TRYING THIS????/

The could also point all the guns on the pointy part in one direction and the ones in the back the other way and fire them continuously thus helping achieve Critical Torque.

In the meantime 100 ships on the surface could drive in a circle creating a vortex with their thrusters, further driving the giant screwdriver.

Sometimes too much education or specialization just causes people to lose their common sense. They can't see the simple solution.

Love the "pointy part" ha! Keep up the great work! Maybe a gaint screw vortex ha! Some times all you can do is laugh! Once I faced the end of an expperiment because of one simple wire buried planes deep sandwiched between 62 ton magnets. I laughed out loud at the meeting because that was all I could do or fix it. I did both ha! I wonder what TheraP has to say about the national stress level? Are most people fixated by this or unknowing? Is this bigger than 9/11

Missed this question before. Honestly, in some ways I do think this is bigger than 9/11. That's because it's self-inflicted partly. And also because it affects everyone - around the whole world. It's not the world concerned for us as victims, but the world concerned for itself (and us as part of that). I read that somewhere over 75 or 85% of the population is paying close attention to this. I think people are beginning to "get" its import. Yes, I think they are stressed in the sense of feeling helpless and watching a train-wreck as it happens in real time.

HA! Thanks I needed that:) Where do people come up with this stuff ha! Maybe old Honey Mooners shows? Mayberry? Ha! Love the comedy though, Screw driver battle ship that will go on the cover ha!

I am the originator of the "battleship" idea. I posted it on the Huffington Post soon after the rig sank. It was entirely intended as a joke. In my original version, I suggested taking the flight deck off the USS Ronald Reagan, turning it over, attaching hoses, and sinking the hull on top of the well. If successful, the hoses would be used to fill the inside of the hull with concrete. It was a joke. If they missed the well in the first attempt, I suggested they take flight deck off the USS George H.W. Bush, etc. and so on. In later versions I switched from concrete to Krazy Glue and Gorilla glue.

The Admiral obviously knows how useless battleships are, and how expensive aircraft carriers are.

You are the KING! Please, please stay on this site! Love the Ron Reagan part!

I nominate as an additional backup vessel, the Chevron supertanker Altair Voyager (formerly the Condoleeza Rice).


In the final Godzilla movie, "Godzilla: Final Wars", the big, Godzilla-beating ship (could fly and go underwater) had a huge screw on the front of it...which leads me to another idea, maybe you could put a lizard in the vicinity of the nukes, and when they go off, a Godzilla would be created, and he could be go plug up the hole...just trying to be helpful

I remember an episode in Star Trek where they changed the gravitational constant of the universe, oh oh oh or even better the Time Turner in Harry Potter.

But why aren't we using those dilithium thingumybobs instead of that nasty crude oil?

Deep sigh and back to reality wondering how many more bombs will be suggested.

you forgot to mention the best suggestion of all, the one offered by cool_chick. That's the one I really wanted to see implemented.

I wonder if the possibility of "water" hammer is a factor in the "junk shot" tries. Maybe they are feeding the junk only gradually because if it caused a sudden clog it might cause fluid hammer that would damage the BOP or casing. What do you think?

That is a very reasonable question. From what I've picked up, these deep deposits are a combination of oil and dissolved methane. You'll see the more knowledgeable people here use GOR - gas to oil ratio - when referring to that.

Apparently the GOR of MC252 is fairly high (for right now) and as such, the material coming up is very compressible as opposed to water. Someone yesterday (or two days ago? it's all blurring together) mentioned conservation of momentum when referring to pinching off the flow. That's more useful when modeling a system of inelastic collisions - which a mixture of gas/oil ain't.

That being said, the system will eventually reach equilibrium with a gradient from the highest pressure at the bottom of the well to whatever it is at the top. Minimizing the reflected pressure waves is probably smart in any case.


Someone please explain how this topkill can work with the riser laying on the seabed? I don't see any way to create any hydrostatic head in this situation without inserting a pipe past the wellhead, and even then, it would have to be several thousand feet deep to do much good. Even a small amount of pressure from the well will just push the mud out into the Gulf, as it appears to be doing.

We used to topkill wells all the time in the Austin Chalk, but you have to close the annular preventer (or pipe rams) around the drill pipe and pump with enough pressure to displace fluid from the wellbore into natural fractures, until you have a long enough column of heavy fluid to hold back the formation pressure.

This looks like a PR event to me, with BP attempting to fool everyone into thinking they are being proactive, when the chances of success are probably close to zero.

They are relying on developing dynamic pressure. As a non-technical analogy with the BOP/riser being analogous to a garden hose, it takes relatively little pressure to force 5 gallons per minute through a garden hose, but if you were to try to force 500 gallons per minute through the same garden hose, it would take a great deal of pressure. They are trying to pump mud in fast enough that it develops enough pressure in a similar manner to force the mud down the hole.

Thanks for your comment. It is difficult for an non-oil expert to evaluate the "experts".

I have a gut feel that BP has no idea what to do, with their "finger in the dyke" strategy.

Shouldn't we be bringing in supertankers and trying to contain the flow? The idea that they will interfere with the robots seems short-sighted.

OK. A few questions.

1) Why does the plume appear to be in a hole in the ocean floor? Are we seeing the end of the riser pipe and has that riser excavated itself down into the seabed?

2) Did the BOP blow up and is this where it used to be? If the BOP did blow up, could it simply disappear like this and leave a crater with a pipe spewing oil?

3) Did the junk plug the kinked riser TOO TIGHTLY and blow the BOP off the lower casing?

Great forum. I've been lurking for a few years and came straight here when this well blew out. Keep up the good work. The coverage here as opposed to the bread-and-circus media is daylight as opposed to the dark of night.

If you look just above the video image at the top of this page, you'll see the following having been written as a description of what we are seeing:

(right now it is the riser outflow that we haven't seen for a while).

That should spare you from having to speculate more ... you are looking at the end of the riser that is still attached to the BOP, not where it's bent on top of the BOP.

I was addressing the altered (cratered) appearance of the seafloor. This looks nothing like the previous views of the plume coming out of the pipe we've been fed before. It appears that this plume is coming up form out of a hole in the sediment. [Answered below, thanks!]
[So they didn't blow up the BOP and that's not a possibility?]

The BOP is not going to 'blow up' but the riser pipe could fail (rip open) at the kink or something catastrophic could happen to the wellhead I suppose.

Speculation: Is this what it would look like if they had taken the entire top off the wellbore? Have they removed everything above seafloor surface (BOP & riser)? The plume is going straight up. The monitor says Plume Monitoring, but monitoring where? In the past they have labelled with BOP or Riser.

There is currently a rather large pressure differential between the well and the surrounding ocean - the BOP is a constriction and causes this difference - it is rather severely constricting the flow of oil and gas. Think of a faucet opened half or 1/4 turn (maybe 6 or 7 turns would be full on). Should this 'faucet' be opened to full on position somehow, the flow would be an order of magnitude larger and more violent - not subtle. Just removing the riser would increase the flow somewhat as the kink is holding back some of the oil, but mostly the BOP is restricting flow.

Its just the end of the riser leaking oil from a pit in the mud. I think it may be sinking in slowly and they may have to keep excavating it . Believe me, if they blow off the BOP you won't be seeing close-ups from the ROVs. All the fuss about 'explosions' yesterday had to do with perspective and ROV operations as the top kill/junk shot was being implemented (along with what ever else they are up to.

They are not trying to plug the riser really, it is the BOP that is the target - but most of the junk seems to be blowing right through.

"Pit" at the end of the riser might have been excavated not because riser is sinking into seafloor mud, but rather because of the buildup of "hydrate snow" similar to hydrate mounds that form around natural seafloor seeps.

If you want to take a break from "watching paint dry" the Flower Garden Banks site has an excellent GIS running.

For starters, click the oil and gas pipelines layer. Homo sapiens have been busy little beavers (termites?).

The Alabama Pinnacles area is in the "thick" of it.

Thanks to Alan for illuminating wider impacts.


I too was a bit surprised that BP was allowed to stop drilling the second relief well because they might need its BOP. I would think that BP would be able to get any BOP that they wanted. If they proceed with cutting off the riser and trying to install that BOP on the existing one and it fails then the second relief well is just that much further behind if they have problems with the first relief well.

I'm not buying that the government is really in charge of overseeing this operation as the CG commandant and President Obama indicated. Seems the government is being informed in the same lagged way as the rest of us.

I've looked and can't find a supporting link just now, but it was reported a few days ago that BP's original intent was to drill only one relief well, and the US government insisted on a second. I'll keep looking for the report.

It seems BP will do what BP wants to do, regardless.

First, BP's highest obligation is to their shareholders, not the public. That's why they should have been pulled off the case and the job (and all BP's proprietary well data) turned over to another major who was told cost is no object, because BP is paying.

Second, the decision was made long ago. We're drilling in 5,000 here becuase they aren't allowed to drill in 500' elsewhere, because people have decided long ago that the Gulf Coast is expendable.

I'm sure Exxon would just love to have the Macondo blowout handed to them right now. Besides, I know all the majors are talking to each other on this issue, it's not like anybody else has some magical solution they're keeping to themselves.

The industry will drill everywhere that they are allowed to and they think that they can make a profit. In other words, they will drill @ 500' of California AND @ 5,000' off Louisiana if allowed to.

The USA is so far from oil self sufficiency that no amount of drilling can produce even half of the oil we use. Texas (with no drilling restrictions) cannot produce enough oil to fuel the traffic of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso et al. Texas is an oil importer even with unrestricted drilling.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


I’ve avoided the “penny pinching “ debate so far. And I don’t know what thought process BP is following. This is just my take. My buddy Alan already knows he won’t like what I’m about to say but also understand where I’m coming from. Lots of IF’s so here goes.

IF I suddenly thought I could use the RW BOP to deal with the leak and IF I felt the other RW was doing OK I would delatch and move to the blow out. And my two prime motives: to do the BOP move as fast as possible and to pinch pennies. I’m VP Operations and there are times when I make such decisions on an almost daily basis. And sometimes I make decisions based on a minimal (but never zero) risk vs. costs. I don’t always take the most expensive route to minimize risk. So yes, there are times when I accept a certain risk to the environment, the rig and the lives of the hands working for me as well as myself. As yes, I’m still on crutches after my double knee surgery so I would always be the last one to get away from a rig if something goes wrong. It’s a judgment call. No different than when everyone here bought his or her last car. Did you spend the most money possible for the safest car available? No in most cases. Then you must value your money more than your life or the lives of your loved ones. Right? More than 30 years ago I had to help the company carry off the body of a dead floor hand in a tarp. As I said once before I can still easy remember how that tarp felt in my hands. I’ve never made a decision that hurt a hand let alone killed one. Right now I’ve the ultimate authority in my drilling ops…anything goes wrong…someone gets hurt or killed…it’s on me…no one else. So I make those judgment calls. And monetary considerations will always be a factor. But when I make those calls I literally always ask myself that one question last: is saving money going to cause any “real” increased risk? Each one of has to decide how we define “real”.

It’s a judgment call. No different than when everyone here bought his or her last car. Did you spend the most money possible for the safest car available? No in most cases. Then you must value your money more than your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Rockman, I'm a big fan of your posts, thanks so much for being here.

I think Alan's point - and it's a good one - is that "saving money" should get pretty much zero consideration in a situation like this. We greatly undervalue things like an intact gulf of mexico environment, while throwing large lumps of money at banks.

For the record, having read pretty much all your posts on TOD, I admire your values and think you're a good person, so please take this comment in that context.

In choosing a car for one's family, one weighs risks and costs. When choosing a car for the president, likewise. That's why I have a beat-up Hyundai Accent and the president travels in a car-shaped tank within a convoy with traffic shut down. Because the scale of consequence is different.

Just for the record, would you say that the two additional relief wells proposed by Alan would not be potentially useful? If not useful, an explanation would be. I'm considering starting a national ad campaign to add two more relief wells, and would love for you to either sign on or talk me out of it. (either here or by clicking on my user name and dropping an email).

all best.

greenish -- A little friendly picking on you: so the life of the president is more important than that of you and your loved ones? So you're willing to save a little money to not maximize their safety?

There really isn't a proper answer to my question. But those decisions are made every day. Do you cancel every flight out of NYC because there's a bad thunder storm predicted? I would offer that killing 300 folks in an airplane crash is as significant, if not more so, as the POTUS being killed in an auto accident. Heck... that's why we have vice-presidents.

It's all about choices. A bad choice is always a bad choice even if it doesn't cause an accident. It appears the folks at BP made a bad choice and it bit them hard. But sometimes the proper choice can kill you too. But do you base your choices on the magnitude of a worse case scenario? I fully understand your "scale of consequence". Killing your baby in a car accident would be considered a rather significant conseqence of scale by most IMHO.

What I offered earlier wasn't as much a justification for anyone's judgment calls. Just laying out how it works in the oil patch (as well as the rest of life IMHO).

I would offer that killing 300 folks in an airplane crash is as significant, if not more so, as the POTUS being killed in an auto accident. Heck... that's why we have vice-presidents.

It's all about choices. A bad choice is always a bad choice even if it doesn't cause an accident. It appears the folks at BP made a bad choice and it bit them hard. But sometimes the proper choice can kill you too. But do you base your choices on the magnitude of a worse case scenario? I fully understand your "scale of consequence". Killing your baby in a car accident would be considered a rather significant conseqence of scale by most IMHO.

Hi Rock... I don't mind a little friendly picking at all. For my money, the presidents can and should ride bicycles; I was trying to frame the discussion in simple terms, as you are doing so well in describing the physical situation to us. Despite that, I'm not an airhead, and probably understand the logic of cost/benefit as well as you do and better than most.

What maybe you're not getting is that killing a single human baby is negligible in impact compared to letting this spill continue. You have real sympathy for the rig hands who died, as do I... but that was their job. The dolphins who are dying have self-aware minds to the same extent as the drilling crews, and are not in population overshoot... and they are just one other species affected.

I know roughly how it works in the oil patch. Back in medieval times I was briefly a doodlebugging junior geophys for GSI. More recently worked in my own way on the aftermath of Gulf War I on Kuwait's oilfields; if you look at pretty much any news footage that got out in the early days, you'll see people who were working for me.

Currently I'm dealing with a funeral in my immediate family that I'm in charge of, so have my personal focus diverted. But I was asking you to either sign on, or talk me out of, a national pressure campaign to have four relief wells started. By all means comment now if you have anything to say about that. I don't see a downside. If you do, I'll respect your reasons and they may affect my actions.

I'll check back, or you can drop an email.


Sorry green...missed your point about the 4 relief wells. I don't have a problem pushing for another two. I mentioned earlier I would have opted for 3 if I were BP. As far as I'm concened it's just the cost of doing GOOD business.

Sorry abot your loss.

Actually I do like it.

BP has already shown where their BP$ cost to Everybody else's cost is. They wanted one relief well (and now they have that), where you would have drilled three in their place (and I four).

They apparently assume that the fines and clean-up are a fixed cost and no savings in cutting the spill a few days short. As wireline said "Just crying over split milk". The only money to be saved is from this point forward.

And I also suspect that the BP managers have never pulled a dead hand off the rig, or understand what they are destroying.


One aspect of this catastrophe (although I don't expect this to be discussed much in the MSM) is just how much a functioning natural environment is worth.

Which is unfortunate, because a standard argument from people who want to skimp on protection, or cut corners, or harvest a resource beyond its capacity to regenerate is, "Look how many jobs would be lost if we did that responsibly or sustainably!"

Well - look how many jobs get lost when you end up with the consequence of the sloppiness.

Thank you rockman.. I am not an oil guy, but I am a technical architect for business for last 15 years, and you explain very well what people don't want to hear: risks are made every day with money, lives, etc. One issue though that petroleum industry (and any industry that could mess up the environment) must deal with that my industry doesn't have to.. is moral hazard. If I misjudge risk, it messes up my customers and my own company. If Petroleum industry misjudges risk and screws up (or nuke, or coal, or chemical or etc) then the mistake messes up OUR world and our raw natural resources. This places petroleum industry in a position not well suited to corporations because they must be stewards of shared resources as well as for-profit corporations. Some of that stewardship may be offloaded to government agencies, but regardless, the performer (the oil industry) still must work in good faith with the agencies. That is a tough position that I am glad that I am not in. Unfortunately the government (enforcer of stewardship) only really has one or two hammers against a misbehaving actor. Nationalization (nuclear option) and regulation/fines. So I ask you (in this philosophical discussion) do you think that the "corporation" concept is appropriate for an organization that has such a high moral hazard?

They should just move it to Venezuela where it would become a non-issue.
i heard (rumour from a friend) an offshore natural gas platform has sunk off eastern Sucre state but fortunately the 95 workers were safely rescued. Apparently the Oil Minister said the accident poses no threat to the environment.

Maybe it's outside the environment, so that's OK then, or is it???

I blame the North Koreans, or Sue.

Now 9/11 passed without any changes to the car cult, so will this also pass?

First, BP's highest obligation is to their shareholders, not the public. That's why they should have been pulled off the case and the job (and all BP's proprietary well data) turned over to another major who was told cost is no object, because BP is paying.

Second, the decision was made long ago. We're drilling in 5,000 here because they aren't allowed to drill in 500' elsewhere, because people have decided long ago that the Gulf Coast is expendable.

First, BP's highest obligation is to their shareholders, not the public. That's why they should have been pulled off the case and the job (and all BP's proprietary well data) turned over to another major who was told cost is no object, because BP is paying.

SAY WHAT??? It's BP's mess to fix and they are the obligated party by law and regulation. Besides do you have some other interested party with more expertise in this business that should be doing this right now? I doubt there are any that want to grab this tiger's tail right now anyway.

Total cost up to this point on just operations is somewhere around $1 billion by now.
Yeah they have an obligation to the shareholders and they also have an obligation to fix their mess. Just the way it is.

Additionally, their BP management's obligation to their shareholders and their obligation to the public are completely the same here - by far the most effective way for them to preserve whatever is left of the shareholder value, is to stop the flow of oil as quickly as possible, and to clean up the spilled oil in the most effective and complete manner.

They know this perfectly well; the problem is that they (and the rest of the oil industry), the regulatory agencies, Congress, and for that matter the public have all become WAY too complacent in assessing the risks and the consequences of catastrophic failure in one of these deepwater wells. That's why they are left in the horrible position of (i) trying to do years' of development work in a week, and (ii) conducting what amount to experiments on the real thing.

BP's is obligated to work in a manner that will return profits for its shareholders. BP is also made up of people, just like any other company. There are obligations beyond and greater than a paycheck. Everyone has them. We have already been in that territory for weeks. IMHO BP is done as a retail brand name, but of course the BP people and assets will still be in the game many years from now in one form or another.

Obama stated it during his press conference.

President Obama stated this (at least twice) at his press conference a couple of days ago.


I apologize for the naivety of my comment but I have a couple of questions -- what is the diameter of the riser/pipe where the oil is coming from? Also yesterday a couple of the things being used looked very similar to "bombs" is this how they inject the "kill shot" debris? Thank you for all the information you are providing and I will try to donate soon.

Here's a graphic from BP showing all the casing and liner diameters.


Here’s a casing/cementing diagram that is a little easier to read.
It comes from the article at

The inside diameter of the riser is reported to be 18 3/4 inches. IMO, there have been no "explosions". The junk that goes into the BOP has to travel all the way to the end of the riser become it can escape into the open ocean.

The junk is injected into the BOP. It is instantly carried upward at an exceptional high speed. If it hits something, it is probably deformed and simply passes by. Hopefully some of it lodges. Once it is out of the BOP, as I said, it simply travels down the riser and exits the open end.

When the mud pumps are pumping some of the mud mud is going down the hole. When they turn the pumps off to inject more junk, there is a contest. Either well pressure is sufficient to start pushing the mud back up the hole or it isn't (victory.) If it is, the question becomes how fast. If the column is short, or full of natural gas and oil, it's light, and the well pressure would move it up and out rapidly. If the mud column is heavy and pure, and well pressure barely able to push it up, then the junk they inject will move up the bop at slower speeds. There will be less deformation and damage to it, and a better chance it well lodge. It would be a good time to shoot junk made of harder materials that might, when exposed to either mud pump pressure or well pressure, stay in place inside the bop - very helpful.

No matter what, when the mud pumps are on, the mud effluent out the end of the riser will be large as the end is 18/3/4 inches adjusted for any damage. It will look like the effort is a losing effort. That might not be true. The real battles are inside the BOP where they trying to get junk to lodge and stay, and down the well, where they are trying to inject enough mud to tame the well.

If this well was in normal production what would the likely flow rate and pressure of the oil and gas be at the sea floor and at the surface?

Highly variable but this article might help:


High production rates have been a driving force behind the success of deepwater operations. For example, a Shell Bullwinkle well produced approximately 5,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) in 1992. In 1994, a Shell Auger well set a new record, producing about 10,000 BOPD. From 1994 to mid 1999, maximum deepwater oil production rates continued to climb. BP’s Horn Mountain project came online in early 2002 in a water depth of 5,400ft (1,646m), with a single well maximum rate of more than 30,000 BOPD. Since mid 2002, oil production rates have declined in the 1,500–4,999ft (457–1,524m) water-depth interval. However, production rates have increased steeply in the greater than and equal to 5,000ft (1,524m) water-depth interval. The record daily oil production rate (for a single well) is 41,532 BOPD (Troika).

COG Very helpful article. Thanks Dave

I am not sure what one response had to do with your question? This is what BP expected 160,000 to 170,000 barrel a day. Nearby Thuderhorse production 1st. year was 250,000 a year later dropped to 150,000. So yes, if you are thinking like some? We could see 170,000 barrels a day into the GOM if the BOP blows off!

The collapse in production from the main producing structure in BP's Thunder Horse complex has been nothing short of catastrophic:

It's a continuing mystery as to why the MSM, with the notable exception of the Houston Chronicle, continue to ignore this story.

The reason for my question was this. Most of you experienced folks have said the TopKill will most likely not work out and the relief wells are the next best thing but 2 months out. Is it at all possible to somehow get this well working and sending the oil and gas to the surface. Or are the current conditions just impossible to control even if the necessary new hardware could be put in place? Thank you Dave

Don't fall victim to misinformation. Thunderhorse is a field with 7 wells that have produced (combined) about 250k BOPD, an average of 36k BOPD which includes liquefied gas. The top individual well in Thunderhorse has produced as much as 25k BOPD of oil, which is the record for this part of gulf.

A ballpark estimate of unrestrained flow potential in this well is about 60k BOPD including liquefied gas and debris, which is about 66% to 75% of total flow. So, 15k to 20k oil BOPD is about what you'd expect. Given that, it doesn't look like the BOP is very restricted (maybe 25%?)

I've never thought BP could kill this well with an open BOP, and I don't think that they believe it either. Capping options are unrealistic at native well outflow pressures, I think that they're just trying to reduce pressure (in this case upward force) long enough to execute a closure option. Once it's closed, they have it under control and only have to induce enough differential pressure to force mud into the well. It's all about weight---the differential pressure could be 10 psi once the mud reaches a balance point.

Easier said then done...I'm still skeptical, but they seem to be making progress.

MG - the rather large reported pressure drop between the top of the well and the riser suggests more than a 25% restriction - wouldn't you say?

Landrew, your numbers are too high. Thunderhorse has more than one well drilled into the reservoir allowing the total production to be higher than from a single well. The Macondo prospect has only one well, the blown-out one, drilled into it. 50,000 barrels / day is the maximum the Macondo well could reasonably spew into the Gulf of Mexico.

From the link provided by westexas:

The main field consists of four producing wells, TA-001, TA-003, TA-004, and TD-001....

One of the BOP's functions is to squeeze the pipe got me thinking: if the BOP failed to do so, why can't we just crush the pipe ourselves?

I pushed some numbers around and came up with an idea for a wedge shaped steel frame filled with a dense, relatively cheap substance (lead $1/lb and melts at low temperature) that could be dropped a few feet onto the riser. For a wedge blade 10 cm wide PSI for a shipping container sized wedge at rest on a 24" cross section of the pipe would be around 8000 PSI. Given the rigidity of steel impact forces from even a tiny drop could easily exceed millions of PSI. I know these pipes can handle some very insane PSI but those pressures are a uniform expansion, the wedge would present non-uniform, crushing force.

It sounds like a reasonable idea to me. Even if the riser is sheared off with some small gap still leaking oil, it would make top kill much more likely to work if the cross section were severely reduced.

Thanks for the information on the previous node about what pressure can do to oil, and in particular this oil. If I am reading right, at the seabed relatively little would happen to its componentry.

If this is the case, would it not be possible to overcome the hydrate problem in the Macondome by utilizing oil as a barrier, effectively keeping saltwater and methane out of the dome until such time as the riser valve is opened ? Hang the dome sub-surface, fill it with seawater, and then close the riser valve. Divers then introduce a supply pipe of oil from underneath, and then pump the dome full of oil, thus displacing the saltwater. When the dome is full of oil lower it to the seabed.

It might also be practical to install an additional valve at the first story of the dome for pressure relief as the top riser valve is opened.

I am a bear of little brain, so fully expect to be shouted at.............


Under the pipe are hundreds of feet, if not a thousand feet, of mud. There is nothing under the pipe to support it as your wedge drops on it. Given the massive weight you are considering, the size of a support plate to go under the pipe would be far too large for the ROV's to handle.

A good point. Smashing a pipe with a hammer against mud will just push it into the mud. Support plates might be difficult to place. They would have to be very massive as well. But it might still be easier than some other attempts.

mihoda wrote:
One of the BOP's functions is to squeeze the pipe got me thinking....

When it operates correctly, the BOP's shear rams cut the pipe and seal it. Suddenly stopping the flow by dropping a weight onto the riser and crushing it would probably send a shock wave back down the oil well with pressure sufficient to rupture the casing and liners. Also the weight might shear off the riser and sink into the silt since the sea floor has bearing strength similar to pudding. There isn't a solid surface below the riser to crush it against.

I am a nobody and a newbie, but I have a meta suggestion: Those of us who have simple questions should google first or read back through earlier threads on this gulf oil spill. Only if we can't find such answers on our own (like the diameter of a pipe, etc.) should we clog a thread with questions.

Feel free to delete this if I have overstepped my bounds. I mean no disrespect - whether to newbies like me or the able hands generously hosting this site.

P.S. Writing you a check and sending it through the mail.

TheraP, one of the most sensible ideas yet ha! Welcome to you. It isn't normally like this of course. This is a well balanced site of need for production verse peak oil. Many wonderful industry people are here routinely, I myself work in high energy. I champion the building of a new reactor using Thorium with beam induced fission. Please read many of the articles relating to energy savings, gardens, process, etc. Again welcome to all!

This is a beautiful "work group" and a very healthy "open system". Kudos for that!

Yes, I will seek to educate myself more here. And honestly, I am hopeful that this terrible catastrophe in the Gulf will prompt many, many people all over the world to sharpen their focus and learn to live simply.

We newbies can "live simply" on these threads - by not clogging them. :)

Good suggestion, TheraP. And welcome to our extended TOD family.

Btw, really like your handle. TheraP is something the execs at BP may seeking after the public trouncing they've been getting. My sympathy, however, goes out to those who will have to clean up this mess. They will need debriefing and a listening ear.

If perchance this is your specialty, be prepared. You may be setting yourself up for future business.


I wondered off to the UK paper Telegraph where there was a story on BP.

Stuck my 2c worth and then read an innocent Comment with a link which I followed to find this.

NEWS (May 1, 2010) Source: AADE Chapter Meeting, Nov 2009, Halliburton presentation, click here to view ppt presentation in pdf format.

Note that page 13 lists the design objectives but then concedes they can’t all be met at once: (click on image to enlarge page 13) Deepwater Well Objectives • Cement slurry should be placed in the entire annulus with no losses • Temperature increase during slurry hydration should not destabilize hydrates • There should be no influx of shallow water or gas into the annulus • The cement slurry should develop strength in the shortest time after placement. Conditions in deepwater wells are not conducive to achieving all of these objectives simultaneously.

The presentation goes on to explain various options for dealing with the risks and assesses the relative merits and costs. What’s interesting is that Halliburton appears to have been working at the edge of technology and from this perspective apparently wasn't certain what would happen. Most experience was in shallower waters and no one was certain what would happen in deep waters. It conducted tests, but it’s not clear how complete or realistic those tests were or how costs factored into the choice of techniques. Halliburton's summary from page 23 - 3rd bullet: Destabilization of hydrates during cementing and production in deepwater environments is a challenge to the safety and economics.

Looks like we’re about to learn a lot more about how cement cures and interacts with gas-locked crystaline formations in deep water drilling....

Here is the link provided by Peter Lawson on the Telegraph link

This is one of the bullets in the presentation

Cement slurry should be placed in the entire annulus with no losses


To learn even more about the great topic you shared, check out the testimony by the BP drilling engineer on the Deepwater Horizon, Mark Hafle, on C-Span.

He was responsible for the well plan for casing and cement seals.

He is giving testimony under oath at a joint MMS and Coast Guard inquiry. Let's just say his testimony is "in BP's best interest."


To learn even more about the great topic you shared, check out the testimony by the BP drilling engineer on the Deepwater Horizon, Mark Hafle, on C-Span.

He was responsible for the well plan for casing and cement seals.

He is giving testimony under oath at a joint MMS and Coast Guard inquiry. Let's just say his testimony is "in BP's best interest."

I have no problem believing this, his butts on the line too. He has a lot to answer for.

I am a clinical psychologist, mostly retired now. Not my specialty to work with corporations. But PTSD, yes. And I hear what you're saying. There is no doubt that many will need debriefing and a listening ear. I have immense compassion for all involved here. Animate and inanimate. Large and small. (I can, in fact, see the conflicts over goals, for example.... what or whom do we save? And to what ends?)

At your site I will try to confine myself to reading and offering the occasional commentary - either analysis of the "behavior" of bp or its apparent culture (let's not forget the problem of considering corporations "persons" under the law!) or I will try to assist the culture of this site - a "wonderful work-group" as I've termed it above. Maybe down the road... if we ever "get" down this road... I can be helpful in other ways as you return to your "true calling" here.

Now back to lurking....

At different points, it has been stressed that the pieces of "junk" should have a diameter less than about 30% of the smallest internal diameter of the pipe/fittings through which it enters the BOP to reduce the chances of having multiple pieces jam and block those fittings. For 3" diameter fittings, the maximum junk size when many pieces are present would be about 1".

Is it possible to introduce junk one piece at a time? That is, if the minimum internal fitting diameter is about 3", it should be possible to pass a single 2" ball through with essentially no chance of blockage. If a sequence of single balls of increasing size all pass through the BOP without lodging, it would suggest that the channel through the BOP is as large or larger than the fitting through which junk is introduced. If that is true, then the junk shot approach is likely to fail, as junk with a low probability of jamming in the fittings also has a low probability of jamming in the BOP.

The view has changed on the BP provided live link;

it looks like an ROV is hung up or something...

The robots are doing some serious work in the video. I just watched them unbolt a piece. Does anyone know what they are doing?

That looks like a saw blade

Whoever came up with the stupendous idea of a giant screw could very well be a genius. And since even a child knows that a giant screw would need a giant screw driver whoever it was that came up with a sinking battleship with side thrusters was an even bigger genius.

I have even more to add. Why stop there? We need a really big screwdriver.
Why a battleship, why not an aircraft carrier? In fact, why not a flotilla with the carrier in the center and a bunch of vessels around all connected by arm like structures to the carrier in the very middle. That would give a much bigger moment arm.

HOLY CRAP!! Saw is running. Okay, experts...Time to earn our undying gratitude, and a drink should we ever meet.

Does this mean they are now going to try and cut off the riser and attach a new BOP?


and it just dropped the saw

this is like watching a SciFi horror flick (if only that were the case)

At least it wasn't running when it dropped it. Are ROVs hes or shes?

It depends on the color and size of the thrusters.

I think most of them are female. Too patient and careful to be guys.


The Skandi Neptune ROV I saw yesterday was definitely a girl.

Did you catch the Caption of the ROV with the saw?. I only saw a couple seconds of the video?

Now I see BOP intervention 1. And thats the riser for sure.


Was he cutting on the choke/kill line? I can't remember which one was tilted at a slight angle however it looks like he was cutting on a bracket or something of the sort right beside the coupler to me.

That's a great idea but making a firm connection between the circling ships and the sinking ship (I still prefer a battleship because of the thrust that could be had from continuous firing of the guns as it sinks) seems like a problem though. I think it could be solved, however:

Connect shafts to the sinker with hinges and run them through hinged tubes on the circling ships. When the sink started they would be horizontal and extend maybe two miles past the circling ships, like spokes. As the ship sank the shafts would rise into the air. It be quite beautiful too-- would look like a flower closing.

You guys would strip out the head of the screw for sure. Then we would need the world's biggest drill and easy-out to start over.

If you fill the slot of the screw with J-B Weld before inserting the ship's keel that shouldn't be a problem. It resists both water and oil and bonds iron, steel, copper, aluminum, brass, bronze, pewter, porcelain, ceramic, marble, glass, PVC & ABS, concrete, fiberglass, wood, fabric, paper -- just about any porous and non-porous material.

Probably would take a couple thousand tubes though, so you'd have to have a mob of guys squeezing in order to get the last ones emptied before the first ones set up.

Would you like to come to our lab? Those have to be some of the most creative ideas yet! Still my fav is the GIANT SCREW, it makes me smile:) I have worked in science most of my life and nothing not even building dark matter detectors rivals the GIANT SCREW. Visions of pvc pipe being pushed to the sea floor is a close one ha! I would recommend the J-B weld it solves everything!
By the way you should sell tickets.


Especially if giant screw design is a focus.

I may be looking for work very soon the way this recession is going.

Now this is just silly. Of course, they would use a giant round head screw, and not the flat head type.

More importantly, I am sure that his plan involved inserting a giant Toggle Bolt Anchor first, so that the giant screw will be able to lock in there really tight.

Well, obviously you could cut the cross-section of one battleship ship out of the center of another one and fit them together in a cross shape and then you'd have the ultimate: The Giant Philips Head Screw Driver With Double Gun Thrust.

Pretty skilled work though. It would be like coping profiled baseboard or crown moulding. Not a lot of carpenters left who can do that kind of work well.

Not a problem! We simply tip the screw with a small nuclear bomb - that way, when it stops turning, we detonate the bomb...and then the press narrative will all be about the radioactive oil and dispersant mixture that is being released.

What is the possibility of simply dumping a few hundred thousand tons of cement on top of the BOP and creating a concrete dome a mile wide and a few hundred feet thick?

It would interfere with the nuclear warhead solution.

The oil and gas would erode a channel under the concrete and eventually emerge at the outside diameter of the concrete pile. This would not take long. It might even erode a hole up through the concrete before it sets.

Well, just keep pouring on the concrete until the relief well is completed.

We have our solution, ladies and gentlemen: "Pave the Gulf!"

Seriously, if we just fill the entire Gulf of Mexico with concrete, the well will definitely stop flowing. Lots of additional benefits, too: no need for "offshore" oil exploration, the onshore oil folks can just drive trucks out there onto the concrete pad and start drilling. Also Cuban refugees can just bike to Florida.

We have our solution, ladies and gentlemen: "Pave the Gulf!"

Seriously, if we just fill the entire Gulf of Mexico with concrete, the well will definitely stop flowing. Lots of additional benefits, too: no need for "offshore" oil exploration, the onshore oil folks can just drive trucks out there onto the concrete pad and start drilling. Also Cuban refugees can just bike to Florida.

LMAO, love it!!!!

Or better yet, let the oil flow out on top and until it's done, then add a really gigantic load of aggregate. That way you get a nice smooth-riding asphalt surface. I mean, with plain concrete, it only takes a year or three and already it's ka-lunk, ka-lunk, ka-lunk...

Well, just keep pouring on the concrete until the relief well is completed.

LOL, yep that ought to do it. Pump until we get total lockup in the GOM

Would you recommend concrete before or after dropping the battleship on it? How far is the Titanic from the Gulf, could there be a way to use it, since it's already split in a couple of pieces?

No need for the Titanic. Run three or four 12" pipes from the surface and pipe down extremely high density, quick setting concrete.

No need for the Titanic. Run three or four 12" pipes from the surface and pipe down extremely high density, quick setting concrete.

Quicksetting cement now where have I heard this before??? LOL

Good God you are fun! I guess sarcasim escapes some people ha! Love the heart string of the Titanic ha! The GIANT TITANIC SCREW DRIVER WITH A NUCLEAR HANDLE FOLLOWED BY FAST SETTING PORCH POST CEMENT AND WHEN THE GULF IS FULL A LITTLE FLAG A TOP THE PILE HA! Now that's Nascar sticker worthy! What part of 13,000 psi do people not get? Drill a small hole in your water main, then put your finger on it. Do you think your porch cement will set that? I can imagine a stream covering your house with water until the water company comes to turn off the main ha! that is a problem a billion times smaller than what is happening at 2500 psi ocean floor with well head pressure of 13,000 psi!

I believe it's nickname is "Sarcanol" on this site. Sarcasm that is. BTW, I have read virtually every single thread on this site since it's inception in early 2005.

You drilling "engineers" obviously no longer have a clue how to stop this thing. It is far past time to get the BP boys out and let the grown ups take over.

You drilling "engineers" obviously no longer have a clue how to stop this thing. It is far past time to get the BP boys out and let the grown ups take over.

LAWD!!! Does that include the wild well control experts too? Who are the grownups???

You drilling "engineers" obviously no longer have a clue how to stop this thing. It is far past time to get the BP boys out and let the grown ups take over.

LAWD!!! Does that include the wild well control experts too? Who are the grownups???

You remind me of the last scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when Harrison Ford asks the government bureaucrat about the Ark, and is quoted, "it is someplace safe" to be studied by "top men." Harrison then ask who?, and the bureaucrat repeats, "top men".

I suppose you would suggest maybe the President get some people from the Interior Department, some national labs people, NASA, Fish & Game, and other government “experts” together for one of the meetings he likes to have where everyone works together to find the best solution then implements it.

We have the most knowledgeable people in the business working on the problem now!

I'm chiefly worried about access for The Thing when he's sent down to fix things. All that concrete could be a problem.

The Thing killed me ha! The image of THE THING holding the nuclear powered Titanic screw driver kills ha! My idea capitalizing on the GIANT SCREW was to gold plate it as in government involvement ha! Keep up the great work!

Sarcasm at it's finest ha!

We're chiefly worried you filling up the Gulf with crude oil. If the concrete is a problem then get out of the way. When the thing is fixed then you boys can go back to pretending you are the real thing engineers.

We're chiefly worried you filling up the Gulf with crude oil. If the concrete is a problem then get out of the way. When the thing is fixed then you boys can go back to pretending you are the real thing engineers.

Nothing like fast setting cement to seal the deal. LOL

The link has some good information

NEWS (April 30, 2010) PRIOR BOP ISSUES? Source: Seeking Alpha Transocean earnings 2Q 2009 transcript report (click here) OUCH! Last year in an earnings call for Transocean, the owner of Deepwater Horizon, CEO Steve Newman told analysts: "We had a handful of BOP problems; nothing that I would characterize as systemic or quarter specific. ... We are going back to address them in our management system so they don't happen again. They were anomalies." Further, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told the trade publication Upstream Online, "We don't know why the BOP failed to stop the flow. Ultimately we will recover the BOP, get it to the surface and find out."

According to BP, workers attempted to activate the BOP manually from the top of the rig before they were evacuated, but nothing happened. After the rig sank, BP and the Coast Guard resorted to using robotic submarines to try to trigger the BOP underwater, to no avail. Now BP appears to be ready to drill a new hole in order to fill the well with cement, an operation that will take at least three months. A mile down to surface, near freezing temperatures, debris everywhere, no diver access- just remote sub - vision impaired - obvious hydrostatic pressure immense at those depths, with condensate blowing from an open reservoir- result WILL BE millions more gallons of oil mess . Let's hope for no hurricanes. Of the three companies, Transworld, BP and Cameron, Cameron stock prices are down about 10-20% from accident to date click to view charts. Meanwhile, the GOM and its habitat is in a world of hurt. This folks, is a bad one. Please let us know at how we can be of help. If you have news reports or other information you would like to share, please email service @

Further, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told the trade publication Upstream Online, "We don't know why the BOP failed to stop the flow. Ultimately we will recover the BOP, get it to the surface and find out."

I don't believe they will recover this BOP, but if they do, it will be interesting to see if some of the casing isn't shot up through the stack and was blocking the rams from closing.

A little bit ago on the BP stream it looked like the ROV was using a radial saw on something on the BOP. Any ideas what they are up to?

They are going to cut the riser. you can see the bend in the pipe just above the saw.

With that little thing? As soon as they make a tiny hole in the riser visibility will go to zero and it will be like working in the dark.

edit: ROV has dropped the saw and now looks into space dejectedly.


"ROV has dropped the saw and now looks into space dejectedly."

Too bad there's no audio so we could hear how a robot cusses.

Oops, maybe he dropped the saw blade again? The suspense is high, but a welcome relief from the doubt and suspicion of earlier days (although much remains). We are watching and praying. So much hangs upon so little. Pulling for PB, LA, the GoM, and us.

It looked like they were trying to cut a coupler on the kill/flair/choke line.


Thats the other thing I was thinking. It could be some kind of modification for the choke/kill lines

Thats the other thing I was thinking. It could be some kind of modification for the choke/kill lines. Is there a schematic of the BOP anywhere on the net?

I think if you go back and read all of BP's communications it says that -- NOT!

Does anyone know if the work areas of the tech crew and decision makers would be documented and recorded, either by film or progress log/timeline? Sure, the ROV film is interesting, but what exactly is being done and who decides what/when? It would be good to learn from this for all people, not just BP and oil industry specialists. Folks who study systems, disaster psychology, control and command, even the care and attention to nutrition, sleep...whatever.

We can't know enough about all of this, and since it is an international disaster?.....

Or, is it all kept hush hush in case it doesn't work and for future liability.

I guess I want to know if the observations being made are complete, and is more than just a Govt. observation team?


One of the other posters here took a safety course from TransOcean. In it he was told to *NOT* take a photo of an accident scene. It may contain "unwanted information".

What you are talking about is "unwanted information".

A new, and unwanted, concept for me.


They don't have time to explain. Or, more likely, explaining can't keep up with events. Or, even more likely, they are flying the robots on a wing and a prayer and no matter what they say will be wrong. PR department is mum or out run. Legal department scrambling to look ahead. Managers pulling for engineers and operators to overcome all and everything.

Again, I am the originator of the "battleship" idea. I posted it on the Huffington Post soon after the rig sank. It was a JOKE. In my original version I suggested they take take the flight deck off the the USS Ronald Reagan, turn the hull over, attach concrete hoses, sink it on top of the well, and fill it with concrete. It would be a way for Ronnie to win one for the Gipper. If the Ronnie missed the well, I suggested they should take the deck off the USS George H.W. Bush and repeat, only switch from concrete to Krazy Glue and Gorilla Glue.

Am I a genius? Yes, a comedic genius. Well, not really. My other idea is to have Apple Computer and Kotex Corporation collaborate on a fix. Apple could fabricate a gigantic I-Pon, and Kotex could make a gigantic special applicator.

Who knows, maybe Steve Jobs will join the Admiral. Oh, my other idea was to have Johnson&Johnson make it into a baby oil well.

Maybe the French can sacrifice the Eiffel Tower. Upside down, and aimed carefully, it should do the job.

Especially if we tip the thing with a (tastefully small) nuclear bomb. In addition, to expedite delivery of the Tower (with the bomb) I think that it would be best to boost the whole assembly into orbit using Arianne 5 launchers to be installed in chambers excavated under the four legs of the Tower in Paris.

(I'm sure that NASA could take care of the orbital calculations and create a deorbit path that would have a CEP of 21" as required by the casing diameter. All that is required is a fluid dynamic simulation to account for turbulent-flow-induced movement of the tower in the last 5000 feet of reentry, and a coordinated removal of the BOP so that the tip of the Tower can enter the casing a few seconds after the BOP clears it.)

-and I just realized that DARPA may have done some relevant work on supercavitation that could be used (we are contemplating reentry of a multiton cast-iron structure with a nuclear warhead at Mach 17 or so here)...I would think that this would almost certainly be in the supercavitation regime.


I agree, a battleship is better. I didn't put the big guns in my model. That does make a difference so a battleship it is.

Maybe I wasn't clear, the flotilla, the bunch of ships connected by arm like structures to the battleship in the center would be sinking too. The whole kit and kabootle going down to Davy's locker with a single mission. Turn that giant screw. Think of how much torque we would wind up with and that we would only have one chance.

It has to work. Provided everything goes right of course and we have no human error.

Was that a screw up or did the ROV drop the saw blade on purpose?

That's much better. Just seal the engines with caulking to keep the water out and I think we are good to go. They could all fire their guns all the way down for more thrust.

Hopefully the wouldn't hit each other.

Ha! Too, too funny. Do you think the admiral will captian the ship down?

Am I actually viewing a saw? Does this mean "top kill" and "junk shot" are failures? Why am I still hearing that top kill is still ongoing and that they need more time to see if it works? I am so absolutely confused.

the video now is similar to last night, it appears that the submersible is surfacing?

The depth is in the upper right corner of the display...and it definitely appears to be moving toward the surface.

It kind of looks like it. I'm not watching this continuously I plan to go back and review later. Fascinating stuff in a morbid sort of way.

Wouldn't the ALT reading be going up if it was surfacing? It's been hanging around 100 for some minutes now.

Question: Why does the ALT reading bounce up and down so fast? Is it only an approximation? Clearly the ROV isn't actually rising and falling 6-10 feet at a time.

I am pretty sure DPT is depth...when the ROV is down at the BOP it reads 5000. ALT...not sure what that is for.

On another note: Where are these "experts" that are keeping the spam to intelligence ratio down on these threads by posting the information to keep idiots like me from speaking up.

ALT = Altitude above seafloor, I think.

ALT is altitude, as in the up or down angle in degrees from horizontal that the camera is pointing.

From BP's website:

"Should the top kill not succeed in fully stopping the flow of oil and gas from the well, BP would then intend to move forward to deployment of the LMRP cap containment system.
Deployment of this system will involve first removing the damaged riser from the top of the BOP to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP’s lower marine riser package (LMRP). The LMRP cap, an engineered containment device with a sealing grommet, would then be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and then placed over the existing LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.

The LMRP cap is already on site and it is anticipated that this option will be available for deployment by the end of May." End of quote.

Does the saw indicate that the top-kill attempt is over? Is the saw being used to "leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's lower marine riser package"?

"Am I actually viewing a saw? Does this mean "top kill" and "junk shot" are failures? Why am I still hearing that top kill is still ongoing and that they need more time to see if it works? I am so absolutely confused."

Welcome to the party, Pal!

Thanks Smitty, but not sure I am going to like this party. Are the people who are in charge of this really thinking it all through? What happens to the visibility down there once they start cutting into the BOP? Are they at all concerned about the methane hydrates down there? What happens if some kind of a spark lights this whole thing up like a freaking giant christmas tree? Am i way off base about any of these concerns? I wish they would recruit some of the people on this site to come up with a solution.

Your lack of understanding of the situation is mind boggling. For example how are you going to get combustion under 5000 feet of water with no free oxygen anywhere nearby?

Listen Speaker to Animals..I did not come in here to be insulted. Unlike most people in this country who care more about American Idol or the passing of Gary Coleman, I came in here to learn a little more about what is transpiring. Any question I post is made because I have concerns about what BP is doing. 39 days now, and to me it looks worse than ever. And if you think my understanding of the situation is mind boggling, why don't you go check out BP's memo on how it would handle a situation like this in the Gulf, because they list walruses as the type of marine animal it should be on the lookout for when drilling in the Gulf of Mexico..Walruses...thats mind boggling.

Thanks Smitty, but not sure I am going to like this party. Are the people who are in charge of this really thinking it all through?

I can only laugh at this kind of comments.. We, the amature, don't understand what is going on, so we think the expert is ignorance. How does that logic work? I still see thread of discussion of using bomb, screw, etc to close the hole. Give us a break. BP may or may not be able to shut down the well with top kill. But they clearly know a lot more than we do. At a minimum they have all the instructment data, the sequence of actions that they took and can interpret the result intelligently. And they have more manpower to think through and simulate the result with computer for different ideas and have ability to verify different piece of assumption. What do we have other than guess? HO talked about high signal to noise ratio and this kind of comment is just one of those noise that add no value to the discussion nor understanding of what we saw. It is equally stupid to think that BP want to just stall for time. The incremental cost of clean up with every additional gallon of oil spilled is good enough incentive for BP to do everything they know how to stop the spill. It is internet msg board at it's worst.. Those who know nothing has the same voice and space as those valuable comment. That make finding valuable information extermely hard and time consuming..

Mainer, good point, holy moly - what if they ignite these hydrocarbons in 1,500 m of water? Someone better tell BP to get a hot work permit and an eeX rated saw....

Aaaarrrggghhh the pain....

Perhaps the mud line is clogged, maybe because of too coarse a mixture or the debris parts are too big, so they need to unhook the line, and blow it clear before attachment.

Strange to see the way the saw was placed, why not just cut the clamp in half instead of placing the blade flush and danger close to sever the lines and not be able to see the angel before cutting both flanges of the string and the BOP.

Maybe you should just give it a rest, then? There are a number of processes going on - they may even be working to attach another feed, in order to increase pressure. The fact that you see something, doesn't mean that other things have been abandoned.

Hope this isn't a double post...

This document answers many of the questions that repeatedly come up here.

"Oil Spill Containment, Remote Sensing and Tracking For Deepwater Blowouts: Status of Existing and Emerging Technologies" (published by PCCI for the MMS in 1999)

Document describes the general equipment and components involved, blowout scenarios and blowout responses. Skim this document and you can probably learn enough in 10 minutes to write posts that will make you sound like an expert to people like myself who really know no better.

And for all of you asking repeat or trivial questions: I think it's cool that you're interested, but maybe give Google a try first (you guys on IRC too!).

Alien Visitor, that is simply unfair! We can not and will not discourage the brilliant ideas like, porch post cement capping the gulf, liquid nitrogen freeze, battle ship sinking (now that one came from an admiral ha), THE ALL IMPORTANT GIANT SCREW (my personal fav). I love the truly weird ideas. What would be really cool is if you where an Alien Vistor and you could create that Nuclear driven Titanic giant screw driver with optional gold plated screw and the cement back filler with the flag?

Sorry, but the Admiral stole my joke.

"battle ship sinking"

Isn't the USS Texas sitting in Houston doing nothing at the moment?

The USS Houston is a very cool artifact - built before the Iraq War. Use a new one.

Besides, it's a long way from the Sunda Strait to the GOM. Of course there's the North Carolina up at Wilmington and that U-Boat at the Museum of Science & Industry. And since it's BP that's involved we could throw in HMS Victory.

Don't mess with (the USS) Texas. It's in reserve in case of a blowout near Galveston Bay.

Hi AlienVisitor,

I scanned the report and found it helpful. Although it is a bit dated, the beginning of the report which describes the wellhead, BOP stack, lower riser assembly, and riser system seems little changed from what we are using today. Nice to have all that info in one place.

What scared me was the lack of solutions for deep water blowouts. The report basically seemed to say there were no cost effective ideas that could be produced in advance that would cover multiple scenarios. Heck, there were not even any non cost effective ideas that they knew for sure would work in deep water.

I was left with the impression that it is up to the industry to ensure the components used to drill and complete wells are designed with a higher level of safety.

The situation for example with the BOP is like a commercial airliner's rudder jamming hard left or hard right off. In an emergency, you are not going to capture the flow of oil any more than you are going to have the passengers and crew parachute to safety. You need a BOP that works, period, just a an airplane needs a rudder that works.

I hoping, and betting, that engineers from all companies that provide well equipment are taking a fresh look at the safety of their products and making improvements that until now may have been deemed "not cost effective" due to the extremely low risk of failure.

Take a look at Much information direct from BP.

Excuse my poor artistry, but a picture is worth a thousand words, even a bad one like this. :) (Bigger version)

This is the situation as I see it. I'm not an expert. All I know is what I read here on TOD.

BP does not want to block the 21" riser.

The reason is the kink in the riser on top of the BOP is the weakest part of the whole system, and if it blows they have a major problem on their hands.

1) So they are pumping mud in the kill shot hoping enough will get downhole to counter formation pressure. But much of the mud is being carried off into the 21" riser, so

2) They might have to try blocking the BOP with a junk shot, then repeating the kill shot hoping enough mud will stick around.

The mud being carried away into the 21" riser will settle out on the long, slow journey (maybe 3 hours) from BOP to outlet. They don't want it to fill the riser and create a blockage which could put more pressure on the kink.

Any junk (golf balls, tyres etc) they inject, they don't want clogging up the kink because pressure build up might rupture or balloon the kink leading to a worse leak. So the first golf balls must be big enough to be captured by the ram gap, or maybe small enough to pass through the kink.

The cracks on top of the kink with jetting plumes that the video shows are minor compared to the gap letting fluid through to the riser outlet. The plumes we see may be spectacular, but remember they represent only 15% of the leakage. The bulk of the leakage is still flowing out of the end of the 21" riser. The plumes are useful as a visible indicator of what's happening in the well, however.

Bend a plastic straw and you'll see that the cross-section forms an elongated figure 8. I presume the kink in the pipe looks similar.

If the partial blockage is below the BOP in the well bore, as some have speculated, because the pressure immediately below the BOP is 8000 to 9000 psi while formation pressure is 13000 psi, they can't block it with junk. But they can maybe still block the BOP.

Even if you can get mud into the well, there are problems.

An important point is, where exactly is the formation pressure leaking in to the well? Because this will affect the length of the mud column available to counter the pressure.

If the leak is in the shoe at the bottom of the taper production casing at level 18303, the full mud column height is available.

If, as has been speculated, the leak is travelling through a bad cement job on the outside of the production casing, it is entering the well bore at level 15103, which means there is 3200' less of mud pressure available at the leak, AND 3200' of mud over-pressure at TD (the bottom of the well) which might fracture the formation.

Can the mud do the job?

Normal drilling mud weight is 14 ppg (pounds per gallon). Kill mud is 16 to 17 ppg. Water is 8.345 ppg.

But it's easier to talk of psi per foot (i.e. the weight of a column of mud one inch square and one foot high)

Using 7.481 gal to 1 cu ft, we get:

pure water 0.43 ppf
sea water 0.45 ppf (at 1.029 SG)
drill mud 0.73 ppf
kill mud 0.83 - 0.88 ppf
crude oil 0.35 ppf
(Someone said the oil was API35, that's 0.85 SG at 15.6 deg C. But this oil is hotter, 180 deg C, and contains dissolved liquid methane, so I'm assuming 0.8 SG)

Pressure at sea bed = 5081' x 0.45 ppf + 15 (1 atm) = 2300 psi

Assume sea bed pressure is the static pressure at the wellhead if everything is stable (i.e. no pumping, no connection to surface). Add this to the weight of the mud column.

Formation pressure = 13000 psi

1) Assuming leak is at TD (bottom of taper lining),

leak oil pressure is at formation pressure = 13000 psi

mud must supply 13000 - 2300 = 10700 psi

height of mud column BOP to TD = (18303 - 5081) = 13222'

mud weight required = 10700/13222 = 0.81 ppf.

YES!!! Kill mud is heavy enough to do the job.

2) Assuming leak is at top of taper lining,

leak oil pressure is formation pressure less pressure of oil column, therefore

leak oil pressure at leak site = 13000 - (18303 - 15103) x 0.35 = 11900 psi

mud must supply (11900 - 2300) = 9600 psi

height of mud column BOP to top of taper = (15103 - 5081) = 10022'

mud weight required = 9600/10022 = 0.96 ppf

NOOOO!!!!! Kill mud too light (AFAIK).

and pressure at TD would be 11900 + (18303 - 15103) x 0.96 = 15000 psi. Enough to frac the formation?

Good troubleshoot/speculations aardvark, tnx for the pic. What is known about the one or two pinch points in your graphic, I mean the "partly closed shear rams" in the BOP above and the potential blockage somewhere far below, in the casing? Have either of these been covered on TOD and if so where?

re-post from older(yesterday) thread:

I have raised this point before, but as you note some critical information is missing to do more than make educated, logical guesses based on what can be observed, the available public information (some of which may be incorrect), and the action plan being followed by BP and their team (given that some of this has to be deduced by guesswork as well).

I listened to some of the testimony at the MMS hearings yesterday by the BOP operator - Chris - who stated that when he tried to activate the emergency release to get the rig away from the well that it showed (lower) annular closed and all rams open (normal for the operation underway). The activation sequence (that should have operated the shear rams to cut the drill pipe) registered on his status board, but the instrument registering hydraulic pressure (needed to operate the sequence at the BOP) indicated no pressure - none. His assumption was that the entire sequence had failed, the ram had not operated and the rig was locked on to the blowing well: time to abandon ship.

While the shear rams could also be operated from the rig floor it seems that the explosion severed the hydraulics, but not the electronics, to the BOP and that the accumulators on the BOP did not/could not provide the required pressure to complete any of the operation. It isn't known, of course, if any of those people tried to shear the pipe before the explosion, but my guess is no and they died in the explosion.

This would leave the BOP with one annular closed and all rams open - only oil path through the drill pipe - yet this does not seem to jive with what we see with the leak: all flow within the riser at the top of the BOP. That indicates either leaking annular and/or busted drill pipe at the top of the BOP.

It has also been suggested that casing and/or other junk from the well could be stuffed up inside the BOP.

BP did a gamma ray scan of the BOP stack to get a look inside, but no images have been released so we don't know what they found.

I think the shock of the blow out could damage the wellhead, particularly if there was a partially successful attempt to stop the flow during the blowout, but the wellhead was designed to take the stress of the formation pressure.

Hi IP,

I saw it the same way you did. Was not sure how the zero pressure readings in the hydraulics jived with the report of a partial activation. What really surprised me was the investigative committee did not jump all over that question.

Chris is a pretty cool guy once you watch him for a while. Just the kind of guy you need who, when the captain says not to push the EDS, simply ignores him and does it anyway. As Chris said: "I am the authority, it's my equipment" :-)

That picture, if it does reflect the reality, seems to clarify it.

But, a third scenario. Suppose the leak is at the bottom of the "taper lining" and a serious "partial blockage" exists somewhere within shouting distance of what's shown in the picture. Then wouldn't the mud pretty much get entrained and pushed back up at the partial blockage, rather than entering the portion below the blockage? Presumably there'd be a major pressure drop at the blockage while oil is flowing from below, that would have to be overcome. With all the openings up top, could they ever pressure it enough to force the mud down through such a blockage without bursting something? Or would it just take longer with a restrictive orifice down there, and how would they decide how long to wait while it trickles through, before deciding it wasn't working? Rockman? Shelburn? Any of our other experts? Oy vey.

Paul -- That's the big question. Look at the well bore diagram and you can come up with many possibilities should they begin pumping mud down the drill pipe, production csg and csg annulus. There are multiple csg shoes that could be broken through. There's also a possibility of holes in any of the csg liners. And if they do get the mud to the bottom of the production csg th mud might u-tube back up the annulus or might be lost to the formation.

Hmmm...this thing's not going to stop flowing until they get a relief well connected up... in August... is it...?

Taper Lining, are you kidding me.Where on earth do you get these sewing machine calculations. More people should read and learn....GEE WHIZ

The current theory is that the leak is outside of the the 7" production casing, not in the main well bore as your diagram suggests.

The point is academic now that they've given up on the top kill, but I meant to add that the oil and gas forcing their way up form bubbles in the mud forcing its way down (think bubbles in the straw as you're sipping soda), thus reducing the effective mud weight, so even the most optimistic scenario might not be possible.

This may be one of those comments that proposes something simply not possible to achieve at 5000' with an ROV, but here goes.

It appears that the main issue with the "junk shots" are that the ID of the inlets only allow pieces of "junk" up to about 1" in diameter. When those are injected into the BOP, they are ejected out the larger holes in the kinked riser. What about making the holes where the junk is escaping smaller? Could a steel mesh cage/wrapper be fitted over/around the kink that would retain the "junk" around the outside of the riser long enough for the holes in the riser itself to be clogged? It seems the biggest premium is space and if there is enough room there to fit anything around the riser.

This is off topic (sort of) apologies in advance:

Charges considered (against the BLM) in deaths of 83 wild horses

The just appointed MMS (Minerals Management Service) director is Bob Abbey who was most recently director of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management)

A lot of this has been discussed before but in the interest of pulling some of it together in one place here are a very few of the problems and reasons why often proposed “fixes” won’t work. Working in 5,000 feet of water with well head pressures up to close to 15,000 psi is very different that fixing the plumbing in your house.

1 – The sea bed conditions of the mouth of the Mississippi where the well is located consist of very fine silt hundreds of feet deep. You cannot anchor anything to the bottom. Anything heavy dropped on the bottom will immediately sink out of sight. Ideas such as pouring a concrete dome over the BOP won’t work for many reasons but one is because the concrete will just disappear into the mud.

2 – The internal pressure in the well has been reported (many days ago) to be 8,000 to 9,000 psi but if the well quits flowing, ie is capped or killed, that pressure will probably rise to 12,000 to 13,000 psi. Many “solutions” involve sealing the well by applying an external weight – a battle ship, concrete weight, etc. Any weight used to seal the well must be applied directly on the well head in such a way that it forms a solid seal to the top, outside or inside of the pipe, anything else just allows the oil to escape through a new path. The weight of concrete required to hold back 15,000 psi of pressure in the BOP at 18.75” ID is about 3,612 tons, over 7 MILLION pounds, with no safety factor - a solid concrete cube about the size of a 6,000 sq ft house. Anything less - the well will just blow it off the top.

3 – Many solutions have involved the use of some flotation. Any flotation vessel using air will collapse well before it reaches 5,000 feet. If it is built strong enough not to imploded at that depth it is so heavy it will sink under its own weight. Flotation material used at these depths is syntactic foam as used on the ROVs and in the buoyancy attached to the riser sections. Generally this foam has a specific gravity of about 0.5 so it weighs about 32 lb/cuft in air and can buoy up about 32 lb/cuft in seawater.

4 – Explosives have been mentioned a lot and evidently picked up by the MSM who as usual don’t check their facts. Lots of news and movies show people using explosives on blowing well heads. They are using the explosives to snuff out the flames, NOT to kill the well. And this well is not on fire.

Any explosive near the well head or in the mud down several hundreds of feet will only serve to damage the casing and allow the well start blowing outside the casing into the mud or seawater and a really bad situation will have turned much worse.

Shaped charges to seal the pipe have to be designed for the specific situation and are rarely effective at obtaining an 100% seal even in case with much lower pressures.. In this case we have at least two, sometimes 3 layers of casing with unknown spacing and quantities of cement between them. Any explosives engineer will tell you there are too many variable to design a shaped charge for sealing the pipe. Designing a shaped charge that can severe the casing and/or pipe is a different story and easily done.

The Russians did use a small nuclear device 3 or 4 times in the 1960s to try to shut off blowing wells. At that time they did not have the technology to drill relief wells. It took them just as long to drill the well to insert the nuclear device as it takes to drill a relief well. The idea of using explosives, nuclear or other, to seal a well is dependent on the geology. I don’t know if the formations here would allow that to work. When the Russians did it they were evidently successful two times, one time seems to be clouded in veils of secrecy and the last time not only did it not kill the well but it began spewing radioactive material along with the oil and gas. Urban legend has it that well is still blowing 40 years later.

I had several other items including the problems with exposing high strength steels to cryogenic temperatures and such but I have to go move some cattle. Maybe back to review posts tonight.

Suggestion PROFGOOSE:

Add this to the top of new threads so we don't keep getting these ideas brought up over and over.

Shelburne - Great explanation!

(but I feel sorry for the little ROV whose saw disappeared in the mud....).

It would really be a tragedy if the ROV (name unknown) was to follow down the well in attempt to re-cover the saw. Then the media would show and create a circus wanting to know if the ROV could be saved. Tragic I tell you, simply tragic.

Something cheap to try: Fill a pipe of the same type as the well with an oil-gas mixture and pressurize it to 20,000psi, sealing off the ends. Sink it into the silt at the same depth as the wellhead. Take a typical smoke stack made of steel reinforced concrete, fill it with thermite, seal both ends and place it directly over the pressurized pipe -- tapered end (normally the top of the smoke stack) pointed down. Ignite the thermite at the top. If the resulting jet of molten iron surrounds the pipe without breaching it, you have a very good chance of avoiding the flaws of explosives.

Pressure tutorial

There has been much debate about pressure in relation to the Macondo blow out and I thought it might be helpful to explain the origins of sub-surface pressure differentials in as simple terms as possible.

Note that I am a geologist, not an engineer. The diagrams are intended to be cartoons to illustrate simple concepts.

(a) Basic concepts

Pressure increases with depth in the sub-surface proportinal to the density of material. The lowest density material encountered is normally gas which has the shalowest pressure gradient, followed by oil, water and then rock. Normally pressured water is called the hydrostatic pressure gradient. But in the sub-surface, the presence of regional rock seals may produce over pressure in water caused by rock pressing on water (see example d). The rock pressure gradient is referred to as the lithostatic pressure gradient.

(b) Common configuration in reservoir

In an oil / gas reservoir the oil essentially floats on water and the gas floats on oil. The top seal prevents the oil and gas escaping giving rise to the pressure configuration as shown. The "pressure kick" at the top seal (1) is contained when driling by the drilling mud.

(c) Common configuration in production tubing

If oil (± gas) are allowed to enter production tubing then a column of oil ± gas may exist all the way to the surface. This long column of low density material creates large positive pressure differentials that need to be contained by the production infrastructure. Note how the pressure difference grows up the well.

Pressure difference on the sea bed (2) is lower than on the sea surface (3). In the case of Macondo, the 5000 ft column of water exerts some useful pressure, limiting the flow of oil from the well.

(d) Over pressure

Deep reservoirs such as Macondo are often over pressured. That means that regional rock seals prevent subsurface water escaping. The rocks above can then exert some pressure on the water.

Note how over pressure can create a much larger pressure differential at the top seal. These are the large pressure kicks that are of great concern to drillers in this type of environment. Note how over pressure gets transmitted to surface through oil and gas in production tubing.

PS - note to PG, HO or Gail - I'm at my cottage, using old lap top on a weak, slow, pirate wi fi signal - but it all works. No email I'm afraid. If you want to lift this to a post then go ahead - suggest sticking (d) above the fold.

Maybe Rockman or FF would like to comment (politely) on whether I have gotten this right?

A very good presentation IMHO. But a few years ago I made my living doing pore pressure plots on well site 12 hrs/day for 28 days/month and they can still make me dizzy if I look at them too long. LOL. Personally I would have gone with the rock/paper/scissors analogy. Actually I have no idea what that means but some folks probably smiled when they read it.'ll just have to struggle with the whole pore pressure analysis. It's just too complex to try to envision in any common day context. Euan offers as simple and complete a view as possible. Just a WAG but I would say 90%+ of the experienced petroleum geologists and engineers out there have trouble grasping the intimate details of pore pressure interpretation. We PPA's (pore pressure analysts) are a rare and often misunderstood breed. Hell...half the time we can't understand what we're trying to tell each other. LOL.

Reposted to new thread:

Hi Rockman, et. al. (folks that have worked with MMS):

I've been digging through the online data, specifically well permits, plans and the weekly WARs for MC block 252. Does any company fill out the weekly WAR completely? I noticed that BP has never filled in anything more that the identifying information at the very top. They have never filled in any detail; typically not even a few words in the narrative section at the bottom of the form. This is also true for when BP had the Marianas drilling in MC 252 in 2009. Dominion Exp. at least filled in some info on their wells. I can't believe that the MMS software allows submission of empty 133 forms.

I also note that the well plans for BP's Marianas and Dominion's Ocean Star work are downloadable. There is NO PLAN to download for Deep Horizon's work. The plan for the BP RW C and D is downloadable.

It would appear that there is a problem with MMS and the government not just BP.

This is probably the wrong thread in which to post this, but I didn't know where else to start. Would the site moderators please correct me - email instructions. I know everyone is very, very, very concerned about the spill as am I. However, we need to start correcting these oversights if they are also occurring with the thousands of other leases in the GOM. As F. Zappa said while sitting in the loo - the job's not finished until the paperwork's done.

Addendum/qualifier - No shill for BP or the Government. I have as much trouble with big corporate bureaucracy and management as I do with big government bureaucracy and management.

I don't know whether Zappa ever said that, since it predates him, but he did say this:

It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice — there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.

That's the pithiest summary I've yet seen of where some of the angry advocacy on energy-discussion sites would take us...

Actually you’ve brought up a general point I’ve been thinking about for a week or so. We’ve hit on this point at TOD to a degree: Fed regs covering OCS ops. Given what’s going on in the GOM right now most will find this statement difficult to swallow: there are thousands of regs, procedures, standards, etc, that cover OCS ops. There is an entire cottage industry built around helping operators deal with all the paper work. One extreme example: I was once on a rig where the operator was fined for having too many burned out light bulbs. The horror…the horror. And all the forms you have to fill out knowing that no one will ever read them. It is a huge manpower effort.

But to what end? It gives the appearance of strong oversight and compliance. But what about the truly critical issues? Can the BOP’s on DW rigs really handle the tougher drill pipe? Are standard procedures being followed? Well…the box on that particular form was checked so the procedure must have been followed….right? All industries suffer from this problem I suspect. We’ve all seen this done: go through the motions and everyone is happy. Don’t make waves. Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.

But that’s not true. But the big stuff really isn’t that complicated either. I know all the drilling jargon we toss around can make it look complex. I’ve seen many screw ups over my 35 years…little ones and deadly ones. But the really serious ones developed from the uncontrolled flow of oil/NG from a well bore. And there are some rather basic and simple methods to follow to minimize the risks. We’ve chatted about them around TOD so I’ll pass for now. But look at the current gov’t policy: shut down all DW drilling for 6 months. Not that the MMS would ask me but it could have been very easy (and much, much cheaper than the $5 billion in lost cash flow from the 6 month moratorium) to greatly reduce the risk of another BP incident. We seem to have an idea of what went wrong. So what do we do? Tighten up the procedures and, most importantly, have independent third party observers on board with absolute power to shut down ops if they are not satisfied. I can’t back up this number, of course. But what ever you might estimate was the chance of a catastrophic failure before the BP incident I would offer that the new rules would reduce that risk 99%. And no, it will never be zero risk.

I know my opinion could be taken as more than a little brazen. But since the blow out I’ve had plenty of time to review my memories of hundreds of situations I’ve observed first hand. I sat and watched debates between personnel as has been described on the rig before the blow out. An independent third party whose priority didn’t include saving the operator money would have a very different attitude about “risk”. The cost of these observers would be completely insignificant compared to the typical cost of the well. And how high would be the NET cost to such safer procedures? Perhaps not as high as some might guess. Might run the cost of an average well up some. But what about the $150 million saved by not losing a well by following such new procedures? I’ve seen wells ranging from ten’s of million to more than $100 million lost due to such poor “judgment calls”. And, of course, it should go without mentioning the billions lost on the BP incident.

And I’ll keep beating that horse to death: drilling in the Deep Water is not a simple job. But it isn’t that hard to minimize the risks. There are not a hundred different things that could go wrong and cause the nightmare we’re watching right now. It just a handful of very well known factors. And I can boil it down even simpler: watch the damn mud returns and count the barrels.

Nice post RM. Bureaucracies seem to become incapable of reasonable response over time. People writing the regs need to have a clear understanding of the risks and an ability to properly order them. Usually we just end up shooting our collective selves in the foot.

My assessment of the human factors:



Distance (management divorced from the consequences of rick)

Ummm...yeah. I got flamed over this kind of thing yesterday; in some eyes, anything whatever that's not mindlessly thumping on BP is automatically deemed to be shilling for careless work. And yet it still strikes me sorta like this:

Complainer: too many people doing 65 on highway.
Politician:  OK, we'll cut the speed limit from 55 to 45.
Complainer: still too many doing 65.
Politician:  OK, we'll cut the speed limit to 35.
Politician:  OK, we'll cut the speed limit to 5.
Complainer: still too many doing 65.
Politician:  OK, we'll cut the speed limit to -5.

Oh, wait a minute.

Instead of enforcing the rules we already have, we so often just pile on more and more and more until everything grinds to a halt unless most of them are broken. And by then, as with the dire labeling on a chemical-house bag of sodium-d*mned-chloride - salt - people have long since lost sight of which ones they can break with impunity and which ones they can't.

So you wind up with that guy in red-tape-encrusted Belgium that I mentioned, changing out the streetlight bulb, up on his free-standing ladder in the traffic lane, no cones or barrels or anything. That was many years ago, and who knows, if he had followed all the rules he was supposed to, a line of cones would have run clear to Moscow and down the side roads besides, and the burnt-out bulb would still be there.

IMO it's way too much about politicians and poobahs lookin' good struttin' for the cameras, displaying, for all to see and marvel, their awesome power to veto and delay. That seems to trump getting a result.

this is totally not meant as a jab or criticizing, you've been an invaluable asset to us, but as someone who works in one of the most complex technical jobs in existence, i'd appreciate you weighing in on this:

do you feel that the complexity and nuances of deepwater drilling are an increase to the hazard and potential failure of these ventures? i know you're half kidding, but when two colleagues cannot communicate concepts well, there is a potential disconnect there that i dont think many would tolerate. I work in a complex technical field as well and i know when you get into the granular details of any given topic it eventually becomes this netherworld of knowledge where "beyond this point there be dragons" we generally dont like working out there because there is too much uncertainty. Do the complexities of deepwater drilling approach that netherworld of unknowns too closely?

An excellent question !

Let me give you my thoughts.

Rockman, correctly IMHO, believes in the "Man in Charge" vs. committee decision making. If that man can understand and internalize all of the relevant factors, he can make valid decisions.

OTOH, the pace of technology is increasing. Did anyone on that rig understand nitrogen cement and it's implications at depth ? BTW, the cement failed (not uncommon).

Another POV is that everyone assumed the BOP would work. But a 2004 MMS paper showed that half did not. WAS ANYONE AWARE OF THIS !

And then BP chose to poorly maintain the BOP. Dead battery (sure there was a back-up, but still ...), test ram left in, and more.

IMHVO, some systemic changes appear to be needed.


IM -- DW drilling is complex due to the water depths involved as well as a wide variety of technologies to help get it done. But it might be a surprise folks that the exact problem that BP ran into was identical to what another company ran into drilling a 18,000' well in S La. In 1958. Yep...same type over pressured reservoir. Same lost circulation problem. Same bad cmt job. Same lack of CBL. Same well kick pushing the mud out of the production csg. But that well didn't blow out. And why? They saw the mud rushing back up after the shut the mud pumps off. So they shut the well in. Then they built a kill pill, brought out some bigger mud pumps and pushed the kill pill to the bottom and got control of the well.

And just down the bayou another well had the same problem. Except it blew out, killed 11 hands, burned the drill barge to the water line and fouled the swamp with a lot of nasty oil. The difference: the mud engineer didn't keep track of his mud pits and didn't notice the gain as the well came in.

Of course, I can't offer specific names because I made up those two cases. But I promise you that if I went to the data library and searched the scout tickets I could document many cases that went down just as I described. And again, I’m sorry if it upsets folks more to know that BP didn’t run into some mysterious black hole that presented them with a problem never seen before with no methods to avoid the tragedy. It’s the same crap we’ve dealt with long before I began my career in 1975.

And again, I’m sorry if it upsets folks more to know that BP didn’t run into some mysterious black hole that presented them with a problem never seen before with no methods to avoid the tragedy.

Amen again, that guy whoever he was that called into that night time radio show Mark Levin stirred up a lot of conjecture about that very thing. Saying all kinds of wild stuff about never seen before pressures and the further we go out the higher it gets, etc, etc.

James: Mother Nature every now and then kicks up. The pressures that we're dealing with out there, drilling deeper, deeper water, deeper overall volume of the whole vessel itself, you’re dealing with 30 to 40 thousand pounds per square inch range -- serious pressures.

For what it is worth I have seen where FMC has developed a new subesea package for 20,000 psi

In addition to operating at pressures as high as 20,000psi, the equipment is engineered to perform at temperatures as high as 350F. FMC says the HC-20 has an enhanced load bearing capacity, exceeding 9 million pounds, which will allow operators to drill deeper wells with heavier casing strings. The HC-20 subsea wellhead system also incorporates an independent load distribution mechanism to support up to 4 million pounds of combined casing string capacity plus full 20,000psi BOP test pressure.

basic physics question from a non geologist:

if i understand the pressure gradients correctly, gas causes the least amount of pressure on whatever is physically below it, then oil, then water then rock, right? is this a function of the mass of the material or its density? i'm assuming its the mass.

does this also reflect the 'compressability' of the substance? i was always taught that liquids dont compress. if thats the case, would it be possible to create some kind of cavitation in the well by injecting some sort of gas into it such as N2?

In part right. 5000 ft of atmosphere exerts much less pressure on us than 5000 ft of water - which is way below the operational level of divers.

But in the Macondo well we are not thinking about pressure exerted beneath but above - since it is bouyancy that drives the pressure system.

It is density + column height that is imortant that equates to mass.

I think you can forget about fluid compressability.

Pressure is everything in drilling. It's the force that moves things around.

In solids, you have pressure but the solid may resist collapse even when there's a big pressure difference nearby. Liquids will have hydrostatic pressure - the taller/deeper the column, the higher the pressure; it's why liquids "seek their own level". Gases are most capricious -- under really high pressure (like in the formation) natural gas is simply a component of the oil/gas mix, it's a liquid because the molecules are all squished together as tightly as they can be. Whenever it expands, it will take up more space, but its pressure drops in proportion to the expansion.

In order to inject N2 into the formation, you would have to get its pressure up to equal that in the formation. No "cavitation" would occur, the N2 would simply mix in with the gas/oil, and if perhaps the oil escapes to a lower pressure regime, the N2 and natural gas could separate out.

The problem with the wild well is this: the oil-bearing formation is under tremendous pressure from the rock and water piled on top of it. Now that the well has pierced the rock layers, the liquids and gases are free to move about. And when they escape their chamber deep under the seabed they have enough pressure behind them to do considerable damage.

I just took this shot

This sure look like oil, not mud, to me. So I take it that after some four days of attempted top kill, it did not work.

Best, Dan.

Leaving aside the color of de plume in de image, which may not mean much, the flow forming the plume seems much less dense than water. Just being expelled goes up very fast, like smoke from a cigarette.

I think a flow composed of mud, being more dense than water would accumulate in a cloud at ground level.

Long ago surrendered my plume interpreter license, but I look for the pops/puffs of natural gas in the upper plume as evidence hydrocarbons are in it. When it's dark and calm, I think it's pure mud - least I hope so. Looks like a mountain of mud as settled around it.

That is not the kind of saw blade I would have expected to see to cut big metal.

I agree. I don't believe they would sever the riser with that saw, but they might intend to remove part of the riser assembly so they can make room for a different tool.

I would not take it as a signal for the end of Top Kill. Not at all.

I wonder if Sen. Nelson will get impeached for crying wolf and scaring thousands of tourists away from his state and beaches this Memorial Day weekend and for letting the cat out of the bag that there has been oil and tar balls down there for a long time.(Yes scare them away and then ask BP to give a grant for tourism that the state would not give after the one last year failed to bring back post hurricane tourism) Maybe BP should sue the news agencies for scare tactics. (I know news agencies and elected officials are not held accountable or even profs who are hired to promote their political agendas). Decisions and statements made by the administration and others could cost the U.S economy more than the real costs of the spill.

See, I think this whole thing was planned by BP so they could lose money and then hope to get bailed out like Chrysler or GM. I think I saw that on one of those reputable web sites all those informed people read.Or maybe Oceaneering sabotaged the well to get ROV publicity?

Instead of impeaching the good senator, we might give him an award for reducing the need for oil, by bringing demand destruction down upon one of the most expendable of all of its uses. That's still the paradox, can't live with the oil, can't live without it either.

Idiocy (even public idiocy) on the part of a sitting Senator does not so far appear to have been an impeachable offense.

I would expect that he will be fine.

Another irony. Oil is toxic and bad for people health but we are mad when they can't go out and sun themselves on the beach. Maybe the unintended consequence is a drop in skin cancer.

Another irony. Oil is toxic and bad for peoples health but we are mad when they can't go out and sun themselves on the beach. Maybe the unintended consequence is a drop in skin cancer.

I have been a long time reader of TOD but never created an account before...I just created an account at TOD to ask a question.

The PBS link on this thread just changed to a different cam view, which is the same as the one that's being shown on CNN...BUT, though both the feeds say live, the CNN feed is almost 6 hours behind the PBS one...

What gives?

Since many of you are ragging about BP not giving you enough information how about getting on NOAA for not updating their trajectory maps that were supposed to have been done last night.

As an ex commercial diver from the gulf myself, I noticed that too.

NOAA has simply not been funded-as usual. Nothing new there. But, Obama's response has been tiny in every way-- and only included a request for $5 million for NOAA (which I'm not sure has been granted?) , for all the things they are supposed to be doing here, including those highly inaccurate maps.

Please explain: Why not attach a riser string to the open end lying on the sea floor spewing most of the oil? A tapered sealed flange with clamps to prevent water ingestion and pump the oil to the surface.

I’m confused why this won’t work.

The riser is damaged and some of it buried beneath the sea floor. If a riser string is attached to the end, the pressure in the damaged riser would increase probably causing many leaks to erupt along its length. Many leaking sites would be more difficult to control than two. The Top Hat which BP appears to be preparing is a better idea. BP is going to cut off and remove the riser at its base where it attaches to the blowout preventer.

Suggestion to TOD Mods.

Take a look at all the new users - esp ones who are BP apologists. You don't want BP to use TOD to serve their PR needs. Paying people to post in forums or "social media sites" (or asking employees to do so) is quite common. I see a lot of new users making personal attacks (or borderline attacks) to push their agenda.

You may even prevent new users from posting for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. That might help.

I think that they really started popping up after The Oil Drum was mentioned in a Houston Chronicle story on the Thunder Horse decline. I seriously doubt that BP has many non-BP defenders, even within the Oil Patch, given that BP has caused a complete shut down in deepwater drilling in US waters. It's probably about the only time that a major oil company has been unpopular in both the Houston Petroleum Club and in Greenpeace offices.

I might add that BP Plc shareholders are not too happy with their company at the moment either.

I'm also wondering what a "BP apologist" looks like...

There has been a single poster since this started that I would have suspected of working directly for BP, or being somehow directly related to the incident.

The 'voices of reason', which may be seen by some as the 'voices of apologists' seem to be very aware of the issues of working in the environment that this spill is in.

And if BP is having trouble stopping the spill - so is everybody else. They have personnel assigned from all of the multi-nationals, many of the major service companies, the federal labs, and who-knows-who else? Number of companies somewhere between 75 and 125 depending on who is reporting.

As for who should get dragged thru fire - I'd nominate the PR dept and the lawyers. I think that they are the most likely source of minimalist comments.

Evnow – Pay! You mean BP might pay me to post goods words about them? Putting humility aside for the moment I think I’ve developed a fairly good credibility on TOD. Add that to the skill at blowing smoke up someone’s butt without them realizing it and I should be able to a better job at being a BP apologist then anyone else.

But even with such highly mastered skills how could I significantly change anyone’s view of BP? I do appreciate your point though. But I would actually enjoy seeing such efforts by others. A nice bit of comic relief IMHO.

I think that Evnow is talking about new users. As noted up the thread, I suspect that the number of Oil Patch types willing to defend BP is pretty small, unless we are paid of course. So. . . if BP wants to contact me or the "Rock," I'm sure that we are both certainly willing to listen to offers.

In fact, I already made an attempt to support BP. I suggested that they underwrite a new line of Gulf Coast Seafood--self frying seafood; no need to add cooking oil. And, no charge for the oil!

But there are some troublesome numbers. On Good Morning America this past week, they had a graphic which showed the number of safety violations (presumably OSHA) for a number of major oil companies. It appeared that 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.

Suggestion to TOD Mods.

Take a look at all the new users - esp ones who are BP apologists. You don't want BP to use TOD to serve their PR needs. Paying people to post in forums or "social media sites" (or asking employees to do so) is quite common. I see a lot of new users making personal attacks (or borderline attacks) to push their agenda.

You may even prevent new users from posting for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. That might help.

Not sure who you may be referring to here, but I am certainly no fan of BP for what they have done to my future work/business in the oilfield. That being said I can see the problems they are facing and the reality of the time it takes to do what they are trying to do 5,000' down in the ocean. Also the reality of the time to drill relief/kill wells.

So what I don't understand is all the harping about what BP may be doing or not doing to get this finished. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth doesn't change what it is. We all get to suffer with the reality of the situation whether we like it or not. But I still fully expect to see more wailing and crying about it that doesn't accomplish much, except to maybe aggravate those who are working 24/7 trying to get this thing killed. It serves no purpose to anyone for it to go on one day longer than it has too. BP included.

Evnow: I'm not now nor have have I ever been an apologist for BP or any other oil company. I agree with the commenters, however, that the techs and geeks working for BP are doing their damndest to stop the leak. They also have government and industry experts in Houston watching and helping. The top executive decision makers and corporate flacks such as Tony "It's a small leak in a big ocean" Hayward that need to be put to the fire. They are the one trying to manipulate public perception of the seriousness of this disaster to maintain share value, their job security. (Recently, Hayward has had to admit that reality had caught up to his attempts to minimize.) I think this distinction is worth keeping in mind.

I largely agree, althoughit appears like the way for middle managers to get ahead at BP is to cut costs/corners. More so than the other oil companies it appears.


Alan: You hit it. "to get ahead" How? Please top management which creates the corporate culture. The culture message from on high at BP when you create your proposed budget as a middle manager? Keep costs low for safety. BP's budgets would show why they have the worst safety record in the industry. I would love to compare BPs recent budgets with Exxon's post Valdez budgets.

I would love to compare BPs recent budgets with Exxon's post Valdez budgets.

Is that adjusted for inflation?

They are the one trying to manipulate public perception of the seriousness of this disaster to maintain share value, their job security.

What do you expect him to do it is a PR disaster of epic proportions for BP no matter how you slice it? I mean you can keep kicking that dog even after he is dead, but it doesn't make it any better. But kick away I am sure it may help work out a little of the frustration everyone feels.

I sort of agree with you even though I'm a new user. I'm one of who-knows-how-many long-time lurkers that only recently registered.
How about no probationary period if you donate? You have to pay to be lame.

Absolutely. TOD is infested with BP public relations shills. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Gail the Actuary as being employees of BP and who nevertheless are still posting in The Oil Drum.

Wow...205. I would love to go toe to toe with some of them. I know THE questions to ask (and what the answers should be). They can either give honest and balanced answers or try to duck them. Ducking would be the best IMHO...makes it all the more clear their motives. I like debating...especially when it comes to something I know a little bit about.

Yes...for those who have perceived I've become more aggitated...I have. It started over again with the BP hand taking the 5th. I can understand why his attorney/BP would have him do that. But we do have this silly little unofficial code in the oil patch: you screw up you just admit it and take what comes. Especially if your decision kills someone. Rationalization is neither appreciated nor accepted.

Absolutely. TOD is infested with BP public relations shills. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Gail the Actuary as being employees of BP and who nevertheless are still posting in The Oil Drum.

Interesting, you wouldn't care to share would you?

Absolutely. TOD is infested with BP public relations shills. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Gail the Actuary as being employees of BP and who nevertheless are still posting in The Oil Drum.

Psst, I heard a rumor that olddog is secretly working for BP, but its a secret don't tell anybody

Does this site have a "Gulf Oil Spill FAQ"? If not it should have one, if someone is willing to put it together. Then newbies with bizarre fixes could be referred to it to see that their idea's "already been proposed; here's why it won't work." Also I bet it would be a great document for any responsible journalist who happens to be visiting the site looking for more or better information . . . might be a way for more rigorous information to get into mainstream reporting.

And to combine your comment with evnow's comment, I suspect that one of the BP apologists' goals is to drive down the signal to noise ratio, i.e., increase noise relative to signal.

Hey, that's my book, you can't take my idea! I have already started writing. The battle ship sinking is on the cover. I have the author of the idea and his approval.

Good idea bsmyth, perhaps a thread just for fix ideas.

Yes, and put a giant banner on it saying something like "PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING".

I think I have read every post on this BP/Macondo blow out and am impressed at the depth of the resource and experience presented by the posters here especially Rockman.

I spent years on a drilling floor working and took many employer-sponsored classes but I never once had to close the shear rams in an emergency so this is a few quanta past my practical field experience base.

We were in more than a few tight spots when a bad decision might have cost the lives of my crew. I was lucky that I never had to make a decision I hadnt been trained and prepared for. Yet I can clearly imagine the driller and the crew, what they were doing, knowing what was happening for at least 10 seconds and maybe more. Those 11 brave men tried to save their rig and their crewmates at the cost of their lives. Maybe it was all the fault of an inexperienced company man, maybe it was the bosses aboard the rig, maybe the captain wasnt up to the job, maybe it was just bad luck (and if you dont believe in bad luck spend while in the oilfield)and maybe it doesnt matter who did what when.

That said-as an interested former worm I have a couple of questions I havent seen addressed here:

1) I do not understand why there is a string of pipe in the hole and in the riser. Were they circulating seawater bottom up? Were they trying to run a dart? Was it even drill pipe? And if so-what the heck were they thinking?

2) Were the annulars damaged before the kick? Or were they closed? If they had been damaged, why werent they replaced?

3) If the collars were in the BOP, why didnt/couldnt the driller drop the drill string and close the rams? Its what he was trained to do. I would sure have tried to do it.

4) Why didnt/couldnt the driller disconnect the riser? Again, its what he had been trained to do.

and finally:

5) Who gave the order to use the fireboats-and why? That is completely contrary to good practice. Once its lit, keep the fire burning to keep the spill to a minimum. The fireboats sunk the rig, seems to me.

If anyone knows, I would love to hear.

Thank you

I wondered about #5 too. However, the rig looked to be in terrible shape by the time it sank.

The effort to put out the rig fire was absolutely justified. First because the hope was that they could re-board the rig and take control of the well. And second - and most important- there might have still been personel on the rig that needed rescue.

5) Who gave the order to use the fireboats-and why? That is completely contrary to good practice. Once its lit, keep the fire burning to keep the spill to a minimum. The fireboats sunk the rig, seems to me.

Good Practice??? that is a new one for me, well in that case I guess they should just go ahead and remove the fire bosses off of all the deep water boats then and forget about it. Burn baby burn!!!

POB buddy, that's why....burn baby burn....glad I did work for your company....

Ok can some body please tell me about this cap, does it have a better chance of working then this Top Kill method. I'm sure somebody knows about this.

Contrary to popular belief, BP actually does scour this forum for new, “out of the box” ideas on how to stop the gargantuan flow of oil from the damaged riser at the bottom of the GOM.

A battleship has been found, and the necessary lifting equipment procured.

However, it will not be known if this last ditch effort has completely plugged the hole for at least 72 hours. Changes in the plume's appearance during this time are not indicative of success or failure.

Well just from reading about such things - it's fairly standard procedure to reduce the problem to a single vertical gushing leak as it's much easier to attach any kind of device to a clean cut pipe.

I don't know about likelyhood, but I do know a bit (okay, a lot) about emergency incident management. There isn't a hard-fast rule, but generally, you try to balance items such as cost/labor, risk of catastrophe, risk of making it worse, chance of success, risk of prevention of future cures, time to relief, time to resolution, and invasiveness of solution. BP has taken cost/labor out of the picture (or so stated that they have)

You would want to try the low-cost, unlikely to make it worse, high-success chance items first, but if those are not staged then you can try less-likely items (the original capture device was tried before the topkill mud and junk-shot, probably because mud and junk weren't ready, and topkill is more likely to make it worse). I am sure that the solution engineers are rating the dimensions noted above (likeliness of success, etc) for each solution and then doing them in order. (That is what I'd do as an incident lead in my business). Also you want "multiple paths to solution" tried simultaneously, drill the wells, get tophat ready, get the mudpumper ready all at the same time, and then manage the shared resources so that the relief maneuvers can be tried in a logical order. So "chance of working" must be balanced with "chance of making it worse". Incident Management was really a fun job for me, I miss it :| . It is the same thing a MD/PCP does when you are sick..they try the least-likely-to-kill-you-or-make-you-sicker things first.

My thought earlier is that if topkill mudpumping provided "relief" (no more petroleum flowing) then keep it up indefinitely until the new wells are drilled (resolution), but it appears that topkill mudpumping makes things worse over time as it erodes the holes and it doesn't provide 100% relief.. so that is not a feasible option for long term.

Yes, something maybe could be done with newbies, or anyone for that matter, with bizarre fixes. I agree completely.

But what about the newbies and oldies that come up with truly stupendous brilliant ideas? Just consider the most brilliant of a brilliant bunch of ideas. A giant screw. Then, through teamwork to the likes rarely seen in this world anymore, others realized that with a giant screw you would also need a giant screwdriver. Thus a truly great solution was found. A giant screw with a flotilla consisting of many ships, hundreds, or even thousands, with a mighty battleship in the center with big guns blazing, all sinking together being the giant screwdriver driving the screw into that troublesome well.

Like all, or at least most, I'm horrified by what's taken place and more so by what's ahead. It keeps me awake. It doesn't seem appropriate at all to be cracking jokes. That said, my gallows humor gene's gotten the better of me for the moment.

I think a giant Torx or TTAP might work better. Certainly better than a giant slotted screw and less likely to strip out than one of those giant pot metal Phillips head ones. Probably more expensive, though, although Camcar Textron or TTAP might be willing to sponsor.

There will be no chance for stripping the giant screw's head. The head of the screw will be welded to the hull of the battleship. So, in summary, we have the giant screw with the giant screwdriver together with the sinking force and torque. You see?

I believe there are sound engineering formulas for this. Force, Torque, Mass, Momentum and Velocity and all that.

Okay, but if the weld pops due to brittleness from cold as it sinks, you'll wish you had a giant damn screwdriver. With a substantial handle.


Looking at the NOAA map and the Gulf eddy(s) created by the loop current, some appear to be anti clockwise, to my untrained eye. Would this giant screw welded to the bottom of a battleship possibly need a left hand thread?

Just to be safe I suggest two giant screws and two battleships. As the giant flotilla starts to rotate the appropriate giant screw/battleship would need to be attached in the middle. Some type of coupler would need to be designed.

Crap, maybe this is more complicate than the OP thought!!

Does anyone out there know (or intelligently guess) the historical effectiveness of cleanup and boom efforts? I am wondering what the point of diminishing returns is on the remedial actions that must be taken. I am thinking that booming, dispersants, hay, sucking up oily water and "processing" it, using dawn and joy on fauna, etc. are likely have a maximum effectiveness of preventing about 30% (just a guess, nothing to back up that number) of the "damage". So no matter how much money and resource BP throw at cleanup, they don't have much of an "undo button" here. If the flow were stopped today, I am thinking that no matter what they do, they cannot make a dent in the upcoming irreparable damage to the gulf, and almost any cleanup efforts or dispersant/booming efforts are PR moves to hide the "wound" in the GoM.


To be serious for a moment and only a moment. From the Valdez experience animals lived for not more than six days after ingesting crude oil. Most biologists recommend euthanasia immediately. The clean up with solvents did more harm to the natural bacteria that ingests the crude. The problem is we can't just let it fix itself like a wounded tree. In the end we do more harm and that is hard for people to except. The real tragedy is, we will drill more and more offshore, we have to. The easy oil is gone and if you don't believe that, why are we mining crude oil in Canada? Why are we drilling a mile deep in the Gulf? Why are we fracturing shale with water supplies to pump oil for a year and then move to the next?
With oil priced at 147$ why wasn't more being delivered? Why are people talking of drilling even more dangerous locations like the Gulf salt domes that contain 3-4 billion barrels of oil? Just ask yourself are you willing to let people starve for like of oil for fertilizers, pesticides, diesel fuel ? We need cheap energy to feed 7 billion people no ifs ands or buts. When gasoline hits 4$ a gallon due to loss of deep offshore drilling people will beg to drill the most dangerous places possible you can bet on it with your life and the life of the planet. The gulf could be a giant pool of oil and we would ask for more. I think Alan would agree.

Look, its way beyond that. After a few weeks nobody seems to give a crap about the coast anymore. There's no 'undo', return to last 'save game' - even reinstall or reboot won't work. Its gone. Finished - the Gulf coast as fishing waters, wildlife reserve, tourist destination... never in centuries... and yes, the oil from Exxon Valdez leak is still there on the Alaskan coast - on the beaches - all you have to do is take a small shovel and make a small hole and you get nice rainbow-colored water :P !

Read this:

I wonder what the dolphins choking on oil would say if we stopped to listen ... "Excuse me Sir!, but the rest of the life forms on this planet would like to nominate you the Humanity for the Darwin Awards..."

I love it. Anybody who does not join in on the BP is evil, it's a conspiracy,the world is going to end tomorrow or trying to actually find facts regarding the incident is a paid BP person. How do I get on of them jobs? I need a new bicycle.

I am more concerned about those who actually are unable to explore all the facts and data out there and even worse not being able to sift through all the drivel on most media sites. Where's Mr. Simmons when we need him? A fair number of new posters have read TOD for a long time. It is not like you wouldn't find it if you are looking for articles on energy.

Title of the book:

American Ingenuity

The Mississippi 252 spill and the ideas that flowed along with the oil.

1. Giant Screw (1st. because it's my fav.)
2. Sinking Battle ship
3. Liquid Nitrogen freeze
4. Quick setting post cement
5. Packing the pipe with ROVs
6. Large funnel to pour cement
7. J-B weld
8. The Giant screen
9. Nuclear warheads
10. Turn this well into a production well. Really that has been an idea floated
11. Giant clamp (maybe they got the idea from the existing BOP)
12. Nano tech (small robots to fill the BOP)yes, really that was an idea.

The book will feature authors and what understanding of science they used to come up with these ideas. God help us.

Hey wait a minute. You forgot my idea witch is by far the best so far if I do say so myself. That is start shooting Big Macs in there there is just no way that those holes can compete with that substance in those burgers, it will clog any pipe any where no matter how deep it is.

Here is another book:

BP Response to Oil Disaster:

1. Deny anything happened.
2. Deny anything really bad happened.
3. Deny anything real bad will happen.
4. Blame it on somebody else.
5. Blame the rig crew.
6. Say its only going to be a minor spill.
7. Repeat these words: leak, leak, leak.
When 1-7 don't work:
8. Put an outhouse on it.
9. Suck it out with a straw.
10. Put a littler outhouse on it.
11. Keep saying we'll have it all cleared up in no time.
12. Force drilling fluid into the hole. (aka the 'Mahlia Obama' plug-the-hole method.)
When 8-12 don't work:
13. Blame it all on a U.N. fabricated email.
14. Blame it on schools that taught evolution to fledgling engineers.
15. Blame it on one-worlders.
16. Blame it on Martians.

The final response seems to be: Bend over, say your prayers and kiss your ass goodbye.

Can any of the more knowledgeable TOD members comment on Simmons' recent interviews? Nukes + another source of the spill and things like that.

Pretty strong stuff. Is it worthwhile considering?


IMH,only if you believe in Iron Man and like old sci-fi flicks.


The good news is, no. To date I have not seen any respected, (at least those I respect) qualified individuals agree with Matt Simmons. To be frank, many people who have felt comfortable with his good work in the past are extremely puzzled by his odd statements.

I really do not understand all the contempt for people posting ideas...even if they are harebrained or stupid. People are just desperate and want to help. They want answers. The real experts on this blog will know these ideas won't work, and can ignore them. If that is too much work, then why allow comments at all? Just turn them off. It seems to me that many of the 'experts' on here are wasting a lot of their intellectual energy making fun of comments instead of posting something useful themselves. I say this because the main complaint seems to be that idiot newbies are wasting everyone's time, but people seem to have plenty of time to make fun of them. Reading these snarky responses is wasting my time. Seems to me that a quick response in a few words of why an idea wont work would streamline things a lot.

(FYI i am a long time reader of TOD, but only registered yesterday. i have not posted any stupid ideas other than this rant.)

Stupid ideas, there are no stupid ideas! Even silly ideas with zero chance using anti-physics are not stupid ideas. Where would I get the material for my book?

To be serious for a moment and only a moment. From the Valdez experience animals lived for not more than six days after ingesting crude oil. Most biologists recommend euthanasia immediately. The clean up with solvents did more harm to the natural bacteria that ingests the crude. The problem is we can't just let it fix itself like a wounded tree. In the end we do more harm and that is hard for people to except. The real tragedy is, we will drill more and more offshore, we have to. The easy oil is gone and if you don't believe that, why are we mining crude oil in Canada? Why are we drilling a mile deep in the Gulf? Why are we fracturing shale with water supplies to pump oil for a year and then move to the next?
With oil priced at 147$ why wasn't more being delivered? Why are people talking of drilling even more dangerous locations like the Gulf salt domes that contain 3-4 billion barrels of oil? Just ask yourself are you willing to let people starve for like of oil for fertilizers, pesticides, diesel fuel ? We need cheap energy to feed 7 billion people no ifs ands or buts. When gasoline hits 4$ a gallon due to loss of deep offshore drilling people will beg to drill the most dangerous places possible you can bet on it with your life and the life of the planet. The gulf could be a giant pool of oil and we would ask for more. I think Alan would agree.

Remember the last 10% is worth far more than the first 90% always was and always will be!

Sooner or later, we the people, will have to round up the oil nuts, lock them up in the oil museum and give them some little wooden oil derricks to play with. Then we can start cleaning up the incredible mess they created.

Sooner or later, we the people, will have to round up the oil nuts, lock them up in the oil museum and give them some little wooden oil derricks to play with. Then we can start cleaning up the incredible mess they created.

I think we need to cut off the A/C in the middle of July and August for all the enviro-whackos and lock them up in a green house and give them all little potted plants in little peat pots to play with(no plastic), no sharp objects either mind you.

Don't worry. We'll put the oil nuthouse museum on the Arctic circle. You should be comfortable there, and the rest of us will be safe.

Don't worry. We'll put the oil nuthouse museum on the Arctic circle. You should be comfortable there, and the rest of us will be safe.

Thanks I prefer to be cool than hot anyway, Besides I am sure the Eskimos will be more than glad to supply me with a little whale oil to keep me warm if it gets that bad.

Would it be possible to operate an electric arc furnace underwater? If so, does the depth make operation unrealistic? Would this operation ignite the gas?

It seems to me that many of the 'experts' on here are wasting a lot of their intellectual energy making fun of comments instead of posting something useful themselves.

Well said.

Clearly the 'established' members of TOD regard this place as THEIR clubhouse.

The uppity newbies need to show respect.

The strutting of the 'in crowd' however really does ruin the technical discussion.

That is something I have tried to avoid. All inquiring minds need respect. However, TOD has a "sharp elbows" culture, where criticism is expected and normal. A very high standard of thought and evidence is expected here and there are "social mechanisms" to keep it that way#.

Some posters do have "social capital" here, but that is not the purpose of TOD. OTOH, some social acculturation (gently) is called for.

I have a couple of times tried to point the newbies towards the greater mission of TOD. "We" expect a societal and economic trauma as available oil declines. The many aspects of that are our defining mission (as I see it).

Best Hopes for the Newbies,


# My personal behavior towards Curious George was designed to either drive him out or for him to "up his game".

Hi phemfrog,

One of the concerns faced by many here who post is the amount of time it takes lately to just get through the new comments. Even skipping over the obvious comments that are not of interest still does not even come close to cutting the time back to what it used to be. Many of the posters here work full time. How they get away with keeping TOD up on their screens at work I'll leave it for them to explain ;-) Then keep in mind that comments often require considerable research in new areas due to the tragedy in the Gulf, further making it tough to contribute at a level previously accustomed to. Keeping up with video testimony alone is just about impossible unless you don't work.

There is no excuse for making fun of any comment on TOD. There is also not excuse for getting into a pissing match with another member.

That said, human nature will sometimes get the best of us. Some of the best comments I've written are the ones that I don't save. I say they are the best because after repeatedly previewing and modifying them I finally realize they contain negative emotion that does not contribute anything except to feed my ego.

There is a fine line at TOD. It is okay to disagree with someone and provide the proof even though you know it will create an negative emotional response in the other person. In these cases you are not making fun of the person or attacking them personally, you are simply stating fact so an incorrect idea does not stand. Then there is the grey area where the facts are complex and contradictory, where each side has a valid argument. Let the good times roll when that happens! (as long as it remains civil)

We need to be careful of creating groups. Newbies, Experts, Old Timers, etc. consist of individuals, each with their own interests and abilities. It is not up to us to add characteristics to people by putting them in a group.

I still never hit the Save button until I've previewed my comment and stopped to consider not only the content but the intent behind the content.

Hey, I like that line. Consider not only the content but the intent behind the content :-)

Question about lost-circulation material: How much can the mud take? Is there a point of diminishing returns where if mud weight is enough, it's going to lose mud (head into low-pressure formations) regardless? (I'm veteran of a lot of pore pressure logs, myself. I loved the power of knowledge they gave me.) I had an offer to go to mud engineering school and turned it down. Doh!

I'm new here but I'm not being paid by BP to post comments. Perhaps anyone who has signed up since the blowout should be considered suspect? Any such suggestions are ludicrous on their faces and their mere suggestion reveals much about their suggestors' ignorance of the type of site this actually is and has been for years.

In re: this environment catastrophe.
Hearings will be held, video feeds will be parsed, blame will be cast, heads will roll and the fact is that none of us (or at least 99.9999999% of us) posting here has any power to influence events. But really this was less a BP failure than it is a failure of complex human systems to safely gather the black gold upon which (literally) everything rides nowadays. There's a lesson in that.
The sooner people learn it the better off we'll all be.
The technical details of this entire event are deeply fascinating, the ROVs, the saws being dropped, ROVs clearing other ROV propellers of ropes, all the cryptic video feeds that exceed most people's normal frames of reference to the extent that the viewers have no idea which way is up, the constant "is it mud or is it oil" and what does that mean prognostications. The fact is that mostly nobody knows nothing here but we're fascinated by it anyway.

Me, I want to know *more* about that safety award party that was going on on the Horizon when that puppy kicked.
I suggest filling the battleship with strawberry jam. Or some kind of sports drink, mostly because sports drink HAS WHAT A BLOWN-OUT WELL NEEDS.

Beyond that, we need a new plan: this oil thing ain't working out, folks.

Beyond that, we need a new plan: this oil thing ain't working out, folks.

Oh, I dunno about that, I thought things were working quite nicely up until those folks over at BP decided they could bend a little standard API industry practice and procedure here and there.


got posted twice..sorry

the horse and pony show continues

BP needs to show activity at the wellsite ....they are doing that.....nice feed ...coupla ROV's switching views .....makes good TV but one sentence sums it up " relief well , maybe august possibly early September"

here's how the summer will pan out...

1- Top kill --- shows good activity at wellsite ...good ROV feeds buys a week for BP

2- Junk Shot --- another feel good ....problem is they holes are bigger than the size of the bridging agents they are able to get into the kill and choke like really cant block a basketball net with a tennis ball kinda deal here ...but hey shows activity and has a feel good factor here.....the monster well silenced by a few measly golf balls.

so far the public has had a good time staying glued to the leak wondering if its mud coming out or HC's.....paying close attention to the color ....again good TV for all

now we get in the part of operations where public will have a hard time looking at the feeds .....cuz the next dog and pony show will be

1- LMRP cap .......another good sounding solution but the HC's leakage will significantly increase during this process when the riser is cut .....and this will make for very bad TV viewing ....this will actually combine the leaks (rmbr BP has been clever single shot exists anywhere on the MSM which shows all the leaks in a concurrent view .......its always the dang ROV on top of the BOP showing the leaking mud ).....LMRP cap will make for bad TV viewing by combining leaks into a big leak so the perspective on the leak will be better than what BP has show so far.....RMBR BAD TV this process -- but buys a week for BP

2- putting another BOP on the existing BOP ....this will make for fantastic TV viewing .....a huge piece of equipment ...many pipes and odd shapes ......beautiful TV right here .....but cannot work since there is no way BP can risk a hot approach on this ....the risk -reward ratios can never be favorable no matter how you dress the figures in this case.....there is DP string in there can bet the horse and the stable BP knows where and how long...excellent TV and buys BP another week

sorry if this has already been posted -Reuters just now

BP may switch tactic to plug oil well

Nothing really new - that's just an interpretation of what Suttles said at a news conference on a beach earlier today...

"What we need to know is, is it going to be successful, and if we think it will, we'll continue. If we think it won't it's time to move on to the next," Suttles said.

Good points except for the fact that BP did not want to show the feed and neither the public nor the government would let them just work on relief wells.

BTW when is the list of 201 BP employees going to be shown (along with how they know). They are not doing a very good job posting (unless it is Rockman and Shelburn--but that is only two). Many seem to be disguising themselves as anti-oil/anti-BP conspiracy types. My guess is that most BP people and most other knowledgeable folks(unless retired and even then only maybe) would not waste there precious time either reading or posting on this or any other site. Can't wait until I get back to 100% mobility then I won't have time to sit around and critique plumes either.Reminds me of watching my lava lamp in the late 60's but let's not go there.

it saddens me to know just how accurate you probably are

Why not put the 2, 3 inch mud hoses directly in the leaking hole? Put them 3,000 feet down and run mud at full speed.

...but hey shows activity and has a feel good factor here

Yep the feel good factor is very important here especially for guys like Alan from the big easy. Need to back up 3 or 4 more big drill ships drilling more relief wells make it look like they really busy. spare no expense BP's buying

Moved to new thread.

I haven't seen this idea mentioned elsewhere so here goes.

A device that clamps around the bolted flange at the base of the riser pipe. It seals below the flange with an expandable collar. Above the flange or level with it has a side outlet with valve--this pipes to surface or just lets pressure/oil out if needed. Above the side outlet is a shear that cuts the riser (support riser first)(very heavy guides on each side of the blade) . After the cut, the shear could then be bolted down in place, or maybe a cap swings in from the side (very heavy pivot design) and gets bolted down. Oil goes out side valve.

The overall device is hinged vertically so it opens like a clamshell into two halves. In this configuration it is moved into place. The two halves close around the bolted flange at the bottom of the riser, and seal with bolts on both the hinged side and the previously wide open side. Seal lower collar. Attach relief pipe. Shear or cut the riser. Swing lid in and bolt it down.

for those of you who MIGHT have thought that there was major engineering going on behind all of this, here's a fabulous quote about the lack of success of the topkill:

"I don't think the amount of oil coming out has changed," BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said on Saturday. "Just by watching it, we don't believe it's changed."

Why does not the BOP assembly include a few Pitot tubes to measure flow?

I believe there are two reasons there are no pitot tubes in the BOP. First you need ten to twenty pipe diameters for flow to steady out before the pitot tube inlet, and the BOP is just a stack of rams, and turbulence causing hardware. Second flow is normally measured on the drill rig where maintenance is easier.

Someone with knowledge on this model BOP may know more.

Pitot tubes aside...well maybe not..venturi effect in conjunction with hydrate stimulation might produce the desired effect.