Deepwater Oil Spill - Pressure Tutorial - and Open Thread

Please transfer discussion to

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 drilling 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.

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Morning Gail, you must be up early today. Readers may note that TOD Europe is running an ad called "Blame Obama". We have no control over the ads posted on the site.

Good Morning,

Physically, 100 gallons of oil displacement @ 5,000ft below Sea level becomes 150 +/- gallons at the surface. What I'm getting at is a realistic view of the estimated size of the spew at the sea bed, compressed, in comparison to the claimed capture rate of Oil measured at the surface.

Sorry, the Coffee is good today. : )

I'm not the person to answer a question on compressibility - I don't think it will be very compressible. But it does shrink when cooled - so the surface volume when cold will be less than the reservoir volume when hot.

A good answer Euan. Though folks seldom qualify the numbers when oil/NG volumes are stated they are typically STP...standard pressure and temperature. Essentially surface conditions. Oil and water do have a compressibility and thermal expansion component but is relatively small and doesn't amount to much. OTOH, NG is obviously very compressible and the volume expands many times over when going from reservoir pressure to STP.

I'll take advantage of Euan's post and expand on it with regards to recent question regarding the drilling risks associated with the relief wells. This is a matter I have experience with first hand in recent years. Prior to drilling a DW well there's needs to be an estimate of the pressure gradients Euan has described. If there is not a well close to the new location the pressure gradient model (PGM) has to be estimated from the seismic data. Compared to a PGM generated from a nearby well, a seismic derived PGM is rather crude but it's all we have to work with sometimes. This is why the PGM is modified while drilling. This was one of my tasks in a former life: well site pore pressure analyst (PPA). As the well is drilling a variety of rock property data as acquired by electronic sensors just behind the drill bit: logging while drilling (LWD). This data is transmitted continuously back to the surface. As simple as it may sound the data is essentially transmitted like a telegraph signal. Pulses are generated in the LWD tool and transmitted to the surface via the mud column. On the rig the LWD data is decoded and ready to use. Though I can't predict the PGM ahead of the bit I can determine how close it's matching the pre-drill model. Even when there isn't a dramatic change in rock pressure there are limits to the range of mud weights used to drill a hole. That's why we see so many csg sets in the RW's. Too light a MW and the well flows. Too high a MW and you fracture the rocks and can easily lose the hole.

With the PGM gained from drilling the blow out well they have a pretty good handle on the MW's and csg points needed in the RW. But the actual intersect event may still be very tricky. I haven't seen details of the PGM from the blow out well so I can only speculate. Consider drilling the same rocks at this location but assume the is no oil/NG in the reservoir. The MW needed to stop the flow of water out of the reservoir might be 14.0 ppg. The rock might be fracture at a MW of 15.0 ppg. That's a fairly wide margin and should not be a problem. But now put a 400' tall column of oil/NG in the reservoir. One big reason the DW plays have attracted so much attention is the very tall hydrocarbon columns encountered out there. This tall hydr. column will raise the pressure in the reservoir to the point that a 14.7 ppg MW is needed to contain it. Now you have only a 0.3 ppg margin before rock failure. And this is where DW drilling offers a challenge seldom seen elsewhere: the ECD factor. ECD is the effective circulating density. The mud might weigh 14.7 ppg but when the mud pumps are running the effective mud weight (ECD) at the bottom of the hole maybe several tenths of a ppg higher. So in order to not fracture the rocks you might pump a 14.5 ppg (with an ECD of 14.9 ppg...less than the 15.0 ppg that would fracture the rocks). But when you turn the pumps off to add drill pipe or pull out of the hole the ECD drops to 14.5 ppg....less than the 14.7 ppg needed to keep the reservoir from flowing oil/NG to the surface. I've seen operators drill into such a situation: you can't raise the MW to stop the well from kicking, less you fracture the rocks, and you can't turn the pumps off to pull out of the hole because the well will kick. I've seen operators pump cement down such a well to kill it and then plug and abandon the well.

This example highlights why watching mud returns is such a critical safety protocol. You're drilling and everything is fine: the well isn't trying to kick and you're not fracturing the rocks. But then you turn the pumps off to add a section of drill pipe and now the ECD isn't sufficient to keep the well from kicking. And how do you know the reservoir is flowing into the hole? Even with the mud pumps off the mud continues to flow out as it's being pushed upwards by the oil/NG. This is why checking mud returns is so critical. Even when there isn't a need to stop the mud pumps you periodically do it anyway to see how close you are to that tipping point. This may be one reason the RW effort will seem to turn aggravatingly slow as the intersect is approached. It may be a very close balance of ECD needed and could take a number of days to fine tune it before the final hole is cut. No doubt we'll be discussing this in the next 6 or 8 weeks.

Rockman, do you mind expanding on what happens if you fracture the rocks?

I have visions of the mud draining away so you need to pump more mud to keep the pressure up until you have no mud left then... kablooey! But I don't know if this is realistic.

aardy -- several bad outcomes. The least serious is that you pump mud (actually the liquid portion of the mud) into a productive reservoir and reduce or completely destroy its production capabilities. Next worse is the sucking action caused by this lost circulation into a porous rock: the drill pipe can get stuck (differential sticking) and you might have to leave some of it in hole and then drill a side track. Next you can actually cause the rocks to break apart and the hole will collapse. More lost drill pipe and a side track. The worse case is when you have such lost circulation in one zone while another zone is kicking you. You lighten mud weight to stop the LC but that makes the kick worse. The primary purpose of the multiple csg runs is to minimize this range of too light/heavy a MW.

Probably the scariest well I've been on in the GOM DW was about 6 years ago. They had set csg and were drilling ahead at 22,000'. And then they started to loss circ. They weren't sure where but it might have been at the previous csg shoe. They lost 60,000 bbls of OBM while drilling. No mud ever returned to the surface. So no mud log telling them if they had drilled oil/NG, no LWD to estimate pore pressure, no mud parameters to tell if the MW was being cut by oil, NG or water. And most importantly, no way to tell if the well was kicking. They put very heavy drill mud on the outside of the drill pipe but that would have not stopped a blow out coming up the inside of the DP. Took me 6 days to log that 2,500' of open hole. I ran pressure logs in the wet reservoir they cut: 19,000 psi bottom hole pressure. They were probably very lucky they didn't find oil/NG in that sand: a blow out could have easily happened. How scary was it? Some of the hands were sleeping in the escape capsules when they were off tower. And this insane risk was taken by a well known and very experience operator. Needless to say someone very high up in the company was willing to risk the 130 souls onboard that drillship to get this well down. Equally needless to point out: that person never set foot on that rig. We just finished the job, went home, cashed our pay checks and then tried to forget about it.

Rockman: "And this insane risk was taken by a well known and very experience operator. Needless to say someone very high up in the company was willing to risk the 130 souls onboard that drillship to get this well down."


Exactly my question, but I'll do an uneducated guess: Were the rock conditions known to have the risk that you described here beforehand and the company decided to press ahead anyway?

sty -- If the assumption that the mud was being lost at the csg shoe is correct then it had nothing to do with rock properties. Just a bad cmt job...again.

EL -- Just a guess but I've always assumed this project was a career maker/breaker. BTW...I never use the word insane lightly.

Unbelievable. I expect this is one reason why you no longer do DW.

It is a complete failure of regulation to allow anything of this sort to occur. This type of profit-at-any-risk thinking made a catastrophe like the one we are in now inevitable, not as Tony would like you to believe, a "one in a million" event.

I mentioned a while back why I don't do offshore anymore. My 9 yo daughter had never perceived me being in any danger out there and we let her hang on to that. But then her best friend's
dad was killed in an oil patch accident. Another human error incident...his. So with tears in her eyes she begged me to not go offshore anymore. So that was an easy call. Oddly, perhaps because she's been to onshore drill sites, she wasn't worried about me as long as I stayed on the bank.

I never mention the names of former clients especially if I'm not saying nice things. But let's say a little karma is at work out in the GOM today.

Best. Post. Ever.

Don't I recall that this well hit a fracture section that required a bunch of drill pipe to be left in the hole and a side track to be bored?

Don't know what they hit but they did get stuck and had to drill a sidetrack. It is the sidetrack that blew out.

I don't have the figures in hand, but as I recall that sidetrack was at around 5,000 feet below the mudline, and over 5000 feet above the payzone. If the blowout got though that much rock, then we've got bigger problems than we've yet seen.

Fracture and lost circulation at top of reservoir 18260

Yesterday Robert Rapier stated in his post on the future of BP that he now believes we have exceeded the depths at which we can drill and extract oil safely. In the light of your description of the extreme difficulty of such drilling, I would be interested to know your feeling about this issue, if you would be willing to comment.

Drilling 500 feet blind let alone 2,500ft in this type of environment is insanity and frankly it is difficult to believe any prudent operator would do this. In fairness, I have seen some pretty stupid decisions made which I have had to clean up.

There is an old oilfield adage which I hold dear,
"Courage is proportional to the square of the distance away from the wellbore."

Sometimes the best answer is simply "NO!". I am more than content to pull to shoe and circulate while they find my replacement.

RM -- wow that's scary

if you have a few free minutes ....appreciate it if you can post a few more details on this particular well.....always a learning experience hearing about such wells from the geologists POV

thanks much

The common thread I can see in all of these incidents (including DWH) is that people in charge of (and compensated based upon) the drill rig's production are also tasked with maintaining its safe operation.

In other high-risk operating environments (and I have worked in several) from pipelines, to refineries, chemical plants, nuclear plants, electrical facilities, etc., these two conflicting tasks are seperated and handled by completely separate staffs and even divisions. The safety teams are completely empowered to halt operations unless they are satisfied that safe operations are either possible, or are occuring. If a production manager gets shut down by the safety personnel, that is a black mark on their record, giving them incentive to avoid it. Likewise, there is no disincentive to the safety teams to shut down a risky or dangerous operation, as that is seen as preventing potentially company threatening losses. Losses such as the one BP is facing right now.

Some notes for the record:

BP- all is well says CEO Sir John Brown, oops, got caught lying to a judge, yer outta here says the Board of Directors, valiantly trying to cover their butts. But governments and media continue to base plans for the future on the BP statistical revue. Meanwhile 12 BP traders indicted within the Natural Gas Liquids department for LPG futures manipulation.

Mr. Browne had bought Amoco, an ailing corporation, in 1998 as part of his inspired dash for growth. Over the previous seven years, as BP's oil reserves declined in Alaska and the North Sea, Mr. Browne talked about his plan for a succession of bold acquisitions and championing of risk to save BP from gradual extinction. By 2005, Mr. Browne's ambition to transform BP into a powerful challenger to Exxon itself seemed to be materializing.

To cut costs, Mr. Browne had not replaced hundreds of engineers who had left and committed BP to rely more on sub-contractors. Brilliantly, he had simultaneously rebranded BP with the sunburst logo as "Beyond Petroleum," an environmentally friendly corporation blessed by a green destiny. The explosion at Texas City endangered that dream.

In the aftermath of the explosion, a blame game erupted. BP was the biggest oil producer in America and the most successful operator in the Gulf of Mexico, and its reputation was at risk. The company was accused by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, of cutting the costs for safety and maintenance to increase profits. His response was rapid.

Amoco's engineers and executives, the British executive told his fellow BP directors, were themselves responsible for negligence and "cultural misunderstanding." Former employees of Amoco, which was now part of BP, rejected any suggestion of their personal culpability.

As the head of BP's production during the Texas City saga, Tony Hayward, Mr. Browne's successor, has already visited the Houston command centers monitoring the explosion at the Mocando site in the Gulf of Mexico. As the oil spill now hits the Louisiana coast, Mr. Hayward may be mindful of his predecessor's eventual failure to limit the repercussions of successive accidents.

I don't think that is close at all.

Compressibility of oil is about .007 percent per atmosphere.

5000 ft down = 160 atm.

The change in volume will be 0.007 x 160 percent or 1.12 percent. 100 gallons at the ocean floor will be 101 gallons on the surface.

The oil is not all that compressible, but the solubility of gas in the oil does vary greatly with pressure, and thus depth. And if I understand it right, once the gas has come out of solution the oil volume shrinks, not nearly as much as the volume of gas exsolved, but significantly - 30-40% maybe, from reservoir conditions. So a barrel of oil at the surface might represent 1.4 barrels at the bottom of the well and somewhere in between at the sea floor.

Agreed. What got me to post was the OP claim that compressibility of oil meant that 100 barrels subsurface expands to 150 barrels at the surface.

Totally baloney of course.

Excuse Me Mr speaks to animals Sir, I plead ignorance in this case, not being a physicist, but. Temp change at that depth certainly must come into play also along with barometric pressure. I can hardly believe that 100 gals of oil 5000' +/- below at the well is the equivalent of 101 barrels at the surface. Are You affiliated with BP by any chance?

"..I plead ignorance in this case, not being a physicist.."

You can say that twice.

I am a physicist. You are ignorant in this case, and the Speaker is right. Liquids really, really, *really* don't like to be compressed.

gosh is that why oil is used in hydraulic systems? :oO

I am also a physicist. The volumetric coefficient of thermal expansion for oil is on the order of 0.0007/(degree Kelvin). The reservoir temperature was reported to be 140 Fahrenheit, or about 333 K. The change in temperature of the oil as it flows to the wellhead is unknown to me, but I imagine that frictional in the flow heats the oil somewhat so that it would be hotter at the wellhead. Thermal expansion also increases the volume. If the heating is modest, say to 343 K, then I find a factor of 1.007, or about a 1% effect which should be added to the 1% effect already, and correctly estimated by Speaker to Animals. So maybe 100 bbl at the reservoir becomes about 102 bbl at the wellhead instead of 101.

We are comparing surface vs. well exit volume.

So the temperature change volume correction is negative, not positive. And we are still basically at 100 barrels +/- 2%.

The arithmetic is left as a homework problem.

Glenmore, I know what you mean but I can't help myself. It is true that the amount of gas dissolved in a given mass of oil increases directly with the partial pressure of the gas, if the temperature is constant. This is Henry's Law. But the solubility of the gas does not vary at all. It is independent of the pressure, although it decreases with increasing temperature. So, five times the pressure, five times the amount of gas dissolved in a given mass of oil, if the temperature doesn't change.

I was surprised to find that American Petroleum Refining by Bell (3rd ed, 1945) does not even mention solubilities.

I would like to know more about the change in volume of oil as the amount of gas dissolved in it changes. I am dubious. This does not happen with any liquid I know of, either at all or to any extent worth noticing. For example, the volume of beer is not affected by the amount of CO2 it has absorbed. You could check it out.

So TOD's subsections (TOD: Europe, OZ, etc) are separated from the 501 (c)(3) of TOD main?

This is a good topic for a tutorial post, thanks.

The first thing that occurred to me when I saw the diagram was that the pressure gradient should steepen below the seabed, or that there should be another line showing pressure due to rock density.

The rock is denser than the water and its steeper pressure slope could illustrate the pressure difference that was the motive force of this well kick.

Great information here. Thanks for sharing.

Hayward has just concluded an interview on BBC

11:07 GMT, Sunday, 6 June 2010

"Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hayward said: "As we speak, the containment cap is producing around 10,000 barrels of oil a day to the surface." Asked what amount of the estimate that represented, the BP chief executive said it was expected to be "the majority, probably the vast majority" of the oil gushing out."

here is a screen shot at 12:47 GMT Sunday, 6 June 2010

and here is the live stream

I am willing to bet that either "10,000" barrels or the "vast majority" are "vast exaggerations".

Well they told him the leak was 16000 and if they are getting 10000, that must be the "vast majority". He hasn't seen any pictures recently and nobody has re-estimated the flow rate.

I just checked the ROV cam, and there is a good bit of oil escaping from under the cap. IMO, "vast majority" is BP BS. I'd be surprised if they have the leak down to the 5K BBL/D they originally claimed.

June 6, 2010 at 13:01 CDT the flow does not look reduced.

When Top Hat 4 was installed on Thursday, the fins were visible and occasionally a patch of flow would thin enough to see the yellow side. I think BP is only collecting the flow that used to pass through the open ports without reducing the amount leaking from under the seal.

It's been clearly stated that you can't look at a feed and determine anything of value. This cap was taken 1 AM Sunday and the view from each ROV looks vastly different, but they are all pictures of the same thing at the same time. The thin patches showing the yellow in the background are currently still visible from Herc 14, color temperature of the lights and camera settings on Herc 6 is why you can't see it in your cap.

I do think it's kinda disturbing that the paint has been blasted off the fins, and they appear to be rusting.

I've been looking at the feed on

There's been a huge improvement in the amount of oil being captured over the last 24 hours. Yesterday the lower fins of the dome were mostly obscured by billowing oil. Now they remain clearly visible.

Somebody needs to get a handle on the numbers. Until we get a flow rate any claim made by BP will need an error associated with it, and are essentially meaningless. Though BP may be acquiring some oil, I don't see much difference in the feeds.

Tony Hayward is a geologist. "Vast majority" is not SI (International System of Units).

I think we need to assume that US coastguard is monitoring / auditing situation. And I think folks need to be able to recognise good news when it happens.

Note that pressure differential at surface is higher than at seabed, hence surface flow rates may be higher. Off setting this is the possibility that the cap helps choke off some flow.

Flow rate via the RITT was pretty flow thru this system likely to be more stable?

Note that pressure differential at surface is higher than at seabed, hence surface flow rates may be higher.

At steady state, the flow of total material by mass entering the main flow of the pipe has to equal the flow of material by mass exiting the pipe. That is a mass balance law or simply conservation of matter. If this does not hold something is leaking between the ends.

I thought to bring this up because it almost seems too fundamental not to associate it with what is happening.

Maybe 'vast majority' translates into 'parent's speak' as: "We'll get there when we get there."

Coast Guard has no competence to audit topside flow.

Exactly what I was thinking. All I see in the live feeds is a bunch of oil billowing out and it looks terrible. I understand that it might not be nearly as bad as it looks, though. I hope it is.

I was thinking last night that perhaps another alternative to my earlier guess that this would end deep-water drilling off U.S. shores is that instead it might give rise to a whole new technology that can be used by BP and others to ensure to the public that deep-water drilling is, in fact, safe.

For example--and I'm just speculating, here--can BP now, I dunno, patent the oil containment system that they've developed and sell it to other oil companies to have on hand in case of a deep water blowout?

I know that isn't going to happen because probably the industry doesn't work that way, but I use it to illustrate a point. Is there an opportunity now for some manufacturers to come up with a whole new line of emergency blowout containment systems for deep water environments?

Then the companies could say, see, we are prepared if this happens again. All we got to do is pull ol' Number Eight from our warehouse, fly it in, fit it on top of the leak, and you only had 10,000 barrels total leaked while we drilled the relief well.

I think maybe a skeptical public would mostly buy this argument and put up less of a fight against local oil exploration, especially if the only alternative would be that they would have to reduce their consumption of petroleum products (i.e., buy smaller cars, drive fewer miles, use less plastics, investigate alternative energy sources, and do all the things that we should be doing to confront peak oil but don't because (editorializing starts) we're lazy, cheap, spoiled, and stupid).

I realize this is likely not a new concept at TOD but a bar graph showing anticipated impact of every SUV, or under-utilized F-250 downsized to a more practical vehicle might be very effective in getting these points across. How many barrels saved vs. today's bad habits and narcissistic, reptilian choices.

Note: long time TOD reader, but crappy memory

What about the people who need SUVs? I have a Grand Cheorkee which is the smallest vehicle that has the towing capacity to pull my 24' camping trailer. If I downsized to a more 'practical' vehicle then I can no longer use the trailer.

Another issue is that at 1230 hours, 16 Jun - I will become a father of twins. (One boy and one girl.) A test loading of the vehicle* has demonstrated it is able to fit two adults, two infant car seats, a double stroller, the necessary bag of baby gear - and not much else. At this point I am kind of wishing I had a Suburban.

Now - I use a Toyota as my commuting (I live in Los Angeles where it seems you have a choice of driving an hour each way to and from work or being unemployed) leaving the Jeep for my wife so it gets fairly low mileage.

What kind of bothers me here is that I get the impression that you think that there is something wrong with me for determining my needs than getting the vehicle that best fits those needs.

*I deal with stress by over-preparing and over planning.

Your analysis is adequate as far as it goes -- you drew a line around your life and needs.

If you draw it a bit bigger, you question why gas is so cheap, and whether it wouldn't make more sense to rent a truck when you need it, or forgo the camping trailer.

Did you get the hemi? A diesel would get better mileage and pull better. A pity you can't get such in a small SUV or pickup.

I miss my Suburban when the whole family goes anywhere. Now we rent a minivan a couple of times a year. It's easily paid for by not spending $100 per fill-up on the Sub, but it's a hassle.

The real hassle will come when there isn't enough oil to go around, and those who still have decent jobs will feel guilty (or endangered) for flaunting their consumption.

I think Activated05b will see. Life's hard. And he's young. Wait till the Water Wars hit LA. He will measure out his life with coffee spoons. [sorry, Mr. Elliot]

You feel you "need" an SUV to pull that 24' camper that you also "need"?

You still feel you not only need stuff like this, but you want even bigger fuel guzzling stuff, even after the information here and the current disaster?

I think there is a lot wrong when we as a people can't tell the difference between a NEED and a WANT.

What kind of bothers me here is that I get the impression that you think that there is something wrong with me for determining my needs than getting the vehicle that best fits those needs.

What kind of bothers me is that I get the impression you don't understand the difference between "need" and "want." A giant travel trailer + tow a "want" and not a "need."

That's the only way a free world can live, fortunately or unfortunately. People should be able to freely fulfill their wants as long as they are able to afford them. Anything else is a command system with rationing and no one will like living that way including you.

That said, the system will work just fine - gas is already relatively more expensive than it was 10 or 20 years ago and it will continue becoming more so naturally limiting what people can do, forcing different better choices on them.

el_cheburako: Instead of peacefully obeying the laws of supply and demand, sometimes people choose violence or war. Perhaps, the Owens Valley on an enlarged scale? For a number of years, LAPD had to maintain a substation just outside Mammoth Lakes, CA to keep the violence suppressed and the water flowing from the Owens River to LA for the Chandler family's real estate development in the San Fernando Valley. Today, don't go into a bar in Long Valley on a Saturday night and say: "Hey, I'm from LA." You may become a floater.

"People should be able to freely fulfill their wants as long as they are able to afford them"

This is anarchy, not society. People should not be able to freely do whatever the hell they want with no regard to the impacts of those choices on other individuals, society, and the world as a whole. What you state is by no means a universal tenant of humanity subscribed to by all citizens, even in "free societies."

So people should just be free do whatever they can pay for and to hell with the group?

As much as I would not like to live in China, what do you think conditions would be like there now if the government had not commanded fewer children? Which is worse; the government limiting you to one child or millions starving?

If the market is working, and gas is relatively more expensive than 20 yrs ago, why have so many Americans increased their home size and fuel consumption so much in the past 20 yrs?

Do we have enough fuel to wait for them to learn slowly? very slowly?

What will the system do about the lower income people who will not be able to afford to go to work or heat their homes because someone with more money made the free choice to waste fuel on non-essentials?

El Che
Have you ever heard of "Tragedy of the Commons"?
Check it out please:

Er, I meant "I hope the oil leakage ISN'T as bad as it looks."

When they removed the riser they increased the flow by some 20%. We need to remind the media that anything less than 20% containment represents a failure of this strategy (and a net gain in the flow of oil).

Yep. Capturing 10,000 barrels over a period of days ,or even bpd, on a leak that was previously estimated at 12 to 19k per day does not amount to a success if the current rate is twice the original. No disrespect to anyone working in those conditions. My wildland fire experience is bad enough.

My own lyin' eyes are telling me that this is a helluvalot bigger than before the sand-cut and the 'Craw' worked the leak. This BOP flange is about a meter across ,right? A side by comparison of images over time is useful. In the early going there was no leak at the kink and leak #2 was half of a half meter pipe to sea pressure.

From the cut/shear video it's looking pretty likely that the riser kink was holding back more than 400psi from the 'measured' 6 to 8k pressure drop within the BOP, and again from just looking they got more than the pre-cut 20% flow increase estimate in reality. WAG there is little chance the pressure drop is currently that high within the BOP.

A new gamma ray reading in the works? Direct pressure readings? After top-kill/junkshot they must have the info.


re: your comment Tony Hayward is a geologist. "Vast majority" is not SI (International System of Units).

You are spot-on, but Tony Hayward is no longer just a geologist, of course. He is also a Chief Executive, so SI Units only get used when they support the message! (the message being, "Things are not quite so disasterous and may well improve more within a week.")

Here are some suggested definitions for this 'Non-quantitative speak':

"majority" = >50% of whatever value he was 'advised' is correct based on consensus of the 'most reliable' estimates of the original flow ('reliable' being a rather subjective term in this context since there is no real way to test the estimates)

"vast majority" = any value higher than 'majority', that someone else cannot unequivocally disprove at this time

Just be glad he didn't use the phrase "significant amount of oil"...that would have meant the fix wasn't working at all!

I think we need to introduce a proven scientific formula here. BP's Sock price = Hayward's spin. This formula precisely computes an inverse relationship: The more BPSP decreases the more HBS increases. In another dimension than TOD, this iron law is called The Fuld Law (TFL).*

*Honoring Dickie Fuld, the final (sob) Chairman and CEO of Lehman Bros. TFL was seen in its full glory on September 14, 2008.

that would be VM ± 0.75 * VM (VM = "Vast Majority").

Q: How can you tell when Tony Hayward is lying?

A: His lips move.

Yes, the fins are now clearly visible. Perhaps 50% less escaping flow than when the cap first touched down. That would be consistent with getting 10000bopd from a wellhead flow of around 20000bopd....

If the oil processing trains on the Enterprise are bottlenecked at 15000bopd, then there could be a further 50% reduction in environmental discharge before this processing limit is reached.

Best hopes


Sorry, I disagree. To me it looks like less than a 22.23% reduction. which would not be consistent with getting 10000bpd from a wellhead flow of around 20000bpd which you have no goddamned idea whether or not that's an order of magnitude off or not. ~:)

All the armchair deadreckoning is hilarious.

200000 bopd has never been seen from any well anywhere in the world. 100000 bopd has been seen from some of the Mega giant fields in the ME when they were first discovered.

20,000 BOPD is a fair enough estimate from what we have seen/are seeing and consistent with what various groups of estimators have come up with. It is certainly not an OoM too low. Of course, it is up to yourself whether you believe this, or anything else for that matter ;)

Oily Bill, I agree and I love TOD because most people don't let political predispositions to get in the way of logic. Except for on the flow rate issue.

The logic is that we should use historical data from past deep water wells in the GOM to set an upper guestament of the possible flow rate, until we actually know what the flow is beyond the shadow of a doubt. All of these fanciful exagerations by people that hate the exploration for hydrocarbons, if true would mean that the deep water GOM could be the next Saudi Arabia and by lettng this information out they would be advertising to the world that the GOM is the best place to drill in the future. The lie of a 70,000 to 120,000 bbls a day producing well in the GOM would attract many more players after the moratorium is dropped and the ones telling that lie would be shooting themselves in the foot.

Now if this well is producing above the average deepwater well in the GOM, you would have to assume that the orifice in the oils flow path is much bigger than other GOM producing wells and that's plausible. The problem with that thought process(in my view) is that if this well was flowing without a major restriction or multiple restrictions it should "sand up". In my limited experience with completions and the production side of GOM wells, they can't flow at high rates very long without gravel pack screens and/or being choked to a rate that does not allow the production sand to plug the well up.

Oil companies don't spend millions of dollars on gravel packs in the GOM because they like to, they have to. SO why would this well be an exception to that? Now if the answer is that BP found a stable formation that is like that of Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, with a high porosity and exceptional permeability, I as a peak oil guy would be very suprised.

In my view(my guess) this well is being choked back by a channels in the nitrogen foam cement job on the annulus of the production casing, by the hanger and damaged seals at the well head of the 9 7/8 casing and by the partiallly closed bops. If this well had a full open flow path it would have killed everyone on that rig and it would have sanded up withing days.

I think 12,000 to 25,000 bbls to day flow rate is a decent range and the entire discussion is pointless until someone proves it otherwise.

I think there is less oil than people believe, because while it visually looks like a huge cylinder of oil/gas is coming out, the center of that cylinder is really the cap. So you have a "ring of oil" that visually looks like a cylinder of oil. Once in a while you can see the cap (only from certain ROVs) so the deepness of the ring is not too large in areas. Just eyeballing it, if you think the volume of the entire column is x, I think the cap is currently occupying ~half the volume.

Note a little more fin = a lot less volume, because the entire cylinder's volume is moving with the square of the radius, and the inner cylinder's volume isn't changing at all.

Does anyone know the radius of the cap and of the fins?

I don't mean to be condradictory, but I don't see any change in the oil flow from last night. If fact, the fins look much the same, and if you look closely, you can see that the pressure from the oil/gas/sand mix has already blasted away some of the paint on at least one of the fins. My question is how much longer is that rubber grommet going to last.

As for anything Tony Heyward has to say, the man is a bloody liar.

Pete Deer

You have to realize that last night is part of the 24 hours that BP is using to calculate the flow they put in their press release for today.

Compare the images vs. Friday night and it's clear that improvements are being made.

Admittedly, yesterday I was watching the live feed on CNN which was taken from a higher point of view than the current akamai feed so they are not strictly comparable, but I'd say it's a very definite improvement over 24 hours. Time will tell, I guess.

I think it is hard to tell if there's been significant improvement or not. When I checked the cam a few minutes ago, the veins on the right side of the image were pretty visible, but the veins on the left side were completely obscured. I assume this is the result of currents.

I was watching when they first lowered the cap, and I can't say that the amount leaking now is much less than was leaking then. Originally, the tips of all the veins on the side I could see were visisble. Now I can see more of the vein on the right side and less on the left side.

I wasn't watching last night when people were reporting that it looked better. Were there camera views of both sides then? If not, maybe the oil was just billowing in the direction away from the camera view.

Edit: I'm trying not to be too pessimistic. So long as BP is pumping more through the cap than they increased the flow rate when they cut the riser, then it is an improvement over status quo ante. The big question to me is whether they've reduced the amount leaking into the gulf to a level that is not catastrophic to the GOM, and it isn't clear to me they have.

This is a great post. A bit OT, but I love the blue color on the site.
There's no bp tech info until 9 am CDT.
I would like to see live or recorded video streams of people working on different aspects of the oil indutry. It's a great way to learn. Also, other industries as well.
Perhaps a respect for "blue collar" jobs would come into being again.
The diagrams look to me like a race to the top and that every time, gas is the winner. Correct me if I am wrong.
Again, I am grateful for this site.
I unintentionally got someone hooked on the live feed by posting pictures from bp of the LMRP on a cork board. I do volunteer computer tech and my end users are mainly teens.

Yes, containing gas pressure and gas itself is the biggest challenge. In the production tubing the gas is most likely dissolved in oil but will bubble out as pressure drops towards surface. Recall it was a gas explosion that destroyed rig.

they put up the full Hayward interview at

That's all the Hayward you need to know right there.

"We had too many people that were working to save the world"

"...our primary purpose in life is to create value for our shareholders..."

"...our primary purpose in life is to create ___value____ for our shareholders..."

I wish all CEOs would remember this! Wouldn't be in this economic fix if they had.

The goal of many executives is short term value. Quarterly reports and today's stock price frequently determine job security. Long term value is for investors and today's stock market has become a day-trader's paradise. I haven't even mentioned short sellers. BTW, I think Hayward is quite secure. Who would want to be the face of this dog's breakfast?

last post previous thread asked about what ent ROV 2 was looking at. same question, here's the capture:

That's one of the information/diagnostic screen displays from the ROV control room. The pilot can toggle through a variety of screens to look at things like hydraulic performance, adjustments, limits and alarms, etc. Their setup is such that that screen is getting broadcast at the moment. Somebody needs to switch the selected video channel to get the right one streaming out. But they may be on deck right now and it's a moot point.

Yes, that's obvious - I meant what are the particulars. ie, i see the trash pump is running ... this is the oil pressure in the pump?

Euan, Thank you for a nice explanation of the basic geology

Regarding overpressure in the resrvoir, you say that the "The rocks above can then exert some pressure on the water." Is the correct picture here that the overlying rock is elastic and that the reservoir pressure is driven by some strain in the rock? If that is the main driver, then the reservoir pressure should drop as the strain relaxes.

If the well remains uncontrolled, one can expect that the reservoir pressure would eventually fall low enough that the flow from the well would stop by itself.

Is there any information from geologic survey data or from similar wells or from any other sources as to when this might happen. Clearly, this must be a rough estimate given the uncertainties in the actual flow rate from the well. In particular, is it possible that this might happen before the relief wells are ready. Or is it impossible to make such an estimate because so little is known about the details of the reservoir?

Correct, pressure decline occurs in all producing reservoirs. Oil gushes out on its own to start with, then either water needs to be injected to maintain pressure, or you need to pump it out.

Impossible to say when this will stop of its own accord without knowing size of reservoir, flow rates and actual pressures. Probably years.

Would you compare an overpressured HC reservoir to an artesian water well, For us non-engineers? An artesian water well will flow, sometimes spectacularly and over time the pressure usually declines. The water producing formation is capped by an impermeable layer. Water wells normally don't have enough pressure to push the water to the surface.

Would you compare an overpressured HC reservoir to an artesian water well

Not exactly. If you have positive pressure in ground water that makes it flow to surface that will normally be derived from a hydrostatic head - the layer of permeable rock stretching up dip / up hill to some nearby mountains.

But the need to have a top seal to confine that pressure is same principal as geological over pressure.

Oil can be saturated, over or under saturated with respect to gas. Assuming this has both oil and gas in the same reservoir (not proven) it would mean over saturation, which means that with oil production, you have some gas cap expansion driving the reservoir. In this case, you most likely have a significant water drive as well.

Rockman's comments above puts several of the problems of drilling into great perspective, but there is yet one more complication with drilling I haven't seen fleshed out in the technical threads, and that is a situation I keep hearing about with some of these near salt and sub salt plays in the deep offshore -- where an overpressured zone overlies a less overpressured zone. The sands in these zones are bracketed by "suitcase shales". What this means is, to drill through to deeper zones, you would have to engineer a well with additional strings of casing. The first exploration well on a prospect is often over engineered with respect to the size and number of strings of casing -- subsequent wells have the advantage of the driller's knowledge of pore pressure. McMoRan gave their Davy Jones discovery presentation earlier this year about drilling deep (30,000') for a subsalt prospect near the Louisiana coast (The BP blowout well is reportedly not a true "sub-salt play" but there is salt in the area) but with these deep wells, you can find reversals in pressure gradients.

This was one of the exhibits presented this last February in the McMoRan discussion.

It's a stylized well log, with the sand in yellow, the resistivity on the right side, and the shales (mudrock) showing a trend indicating pressure ramps, or seals above a different pressure zone. In short, it's an engineering nightmare to get there and to control the various zones of interest. The McMoRan discovery well also encountered extreme heat(440degF), but that's another discussion.


Thank you for the simple explanation. Love the charts.

Question: When there is a large earthquake either on land or sea, why don't we see oil leaks of this magnitude that go on for long periods of time?

As a general (but not fixed) rule, oil and gas fields tend not to occur in areas prone to earthquakes.

But top seal failure does occur, and its likely that major natural spills are quite common - like they may happen every few thousand to hundreds of thousands of years. But even then, in nature, the oil does not have a steel pipe to escape to surface, and will spread out through fractures in the rocks in the sub-surface.

The Los Angeles basin has oil fields, earthquakes, and a famous natural seep, La Brea tar pits. Oil doesn't flow up a fault because the lithostatic pressure (weight of the rock overburden) holds the fault shut; it isn't an open crack.

Although, I am still adamant that BP's engineers are somewhat incompetent. I have to accede the fact that the oil/NG leakage seems to have decreased sharply (like someone said the fins are now clearly visible). My only question is: Can they close off the other two valves and still maintain equalized pressure in the BOP and connector? Your thoughts?

Are the top-vents still open?

Definitely more fin this morning, and sometimes the casing is visible as well. As long as enough is billowing to make obscuring clouds, it seems like a lot, but this is MUCH less than before, IMHO.

I'd go so far as to say they have the majority, though perhaps not a vast majority.

Anyone have a still of 24 hours ago to compare to day's flow? As I layman, yes I can occasionally see "the fins" but as a resident of coastal Louisiana it sure looks like hell on earth still to me.

Hmmmm... some improvement. Not as much as I hoped.

Edit: But note comments downthread -- some of the valves on top of the cap might have been closed, forcing more oil out from under the rim.

Your ignorance is showing badly.

This effort is not just BP's engineers. It is the top engineering talent in the world wide oil industry plus people from several other industries and national institutions like the NSF helping out. This includes Steven Chu, the current Secretary of Energy.

Here is an article regarding Dr. Chu:

If you have better please let BP and Mr. Obama know.

Hey, Speaker-to-Seafood, your temper is showing badly. Dial it down.

It should be obvious to all, by now, that the existing ROV technology is poorly suited to the tasks at hand. The only sensing modalities are vision and perhaps sonar. The only actuation modalities for many motors appear to be on-off.

We need better sensing modalites (touch, proprioception, chemoctactile, flow) and better actuation modalities (proportional control with force feedback) as a start. We need tools at hand to unbolt flanges at depth. We need ultrasonic drills and/or water jet cutters that can go through steel like a hot knife through butter. All of these technologies exist, but BP didn't have them on hand. Their negligence, their bad. But hey, they worked cheap and fast, right? Remember the other point of that triangle?

All the top engineering talent in the world takes years to get this kind of stuff ready.

Right - the only sensing modalities are sonar and sight.


We have already seen X-Ray and Gamma Ray imaging used to probe the interior of the BOP.

There is a massive amount of instrumentation being mustered to study this spill, and even more available if needed.

Water jet cutters for undersea applications are already in use in the North Sea.

I was talking about routine sensing complement of the ROVs, not the extra instrumentation that has to hauled into place by the ROVs.

The water jets you mentioned ( are for use only to 600 meters depth. The Macondo wellhead is at 1500 meters depth.

Avonaltendorf's mention of stereo vision is good.

Separately, having a riser pipe extending a mile from the wellhead to the drilling platform is just mind-dead. Ultimately we need full drilling capability (robotic and teleoperated) sitting in a submersible barge which rests on the mud at the wellhead. That will take a long time to build, but the rising cost of oil may justify the time and cost.

Wow you have some wild ideas. If I was a regulator there is no way I'd approve a teleoperated drilling operation at the depth of one mile. Something goes wrong and you are completely without the ability to do anything about it. And a submersible barge? At the depth of one mile? Do you realize how dangerous that would be?

As far as dragging a raft of sensors around extreme depths, that isn't good for the sensors at all. Wear and tear etc. Much better to just bring what you need.

Sorry about the jet cutter. Still I bet that they could rustle something up if need be. It wouldn't have worked in this case anyway because of the presence of the drill pipe in the riser. Jet cutter nozzles have to be right up against what they are cutting.

Better sensing and control are common in other areas, and could be in ROVs, too. Should be a priority.

At a minimum 3D stereoscopic VR for the crew. Blundering around in 2D flat video without depth perception is inexcusably silly.

Do these pressure factors affect how any relief well will work?

And are there safety issues that need to be addressed, for example at the point that the relief well makes it to the "target" of the wild well?

I ask these questions based on Rockman's statement yesterday that the riskiest moment for any relief well is the point at which it reaches the wild well - when there's a risk due to the relief well taking all the "kick" of the wild well.

Here's the part of Rockman's comment that pertains:

Obviously the most dangerous phase is when they cut into the wild flow in the blow out well. They will be basically reproducing the situation that caused the original explosion and fire. Except this time they know what's ahead of them. The biggest risk to getting the blow out stopped ASAP will be losing the RW when they make the intersect. The odds of losing that first RW? My standard smart *ss answer: 50/50....either it will or it won't. That's why having a second RW going is a wise move. Multiple RW's won't get to the intersect point any faster. But having another RW or two right behind the first can save another 2 or 3 months of pollution is they lose the first RW and had to start from scratch.

Link for Rockman's comment:


See above you stinkin' nobody.

Will do. Sorry, I'm in a rush this am... I accept your terminology. ;)

Rockman's answer is here. Posted actually while I was working on my question:

Blessings upon you, Rockman! I so appreciate your expertise!

It's prolly about time to promote you from noob to freshman.

Here is yer homework. There will be a pop quiz on Tues.

Thank god I have Monday off! I will study as directed. I am pleased to have passed the initial hazing. ;)

TheraP...just some advice because I believe you will stick it out here while others will disappear after the disaster has passed. All of us here at TOD have gotten upset with others at one point or we have ribbed others at another point or just learn to ignore some others at some point. It can be a bit of hazing, but this community works....warts and all. The technical folks are highly tolerant of the less technical and the less technical put up with the arrogance of the more technical (i.e. ROCKMAN, westexas...just kidding).

It is good for the non-tech folks to wander over to the Drumbeat or the occasional Campfire to get out of the "fire" of the tech articles.

Hope you enjoy your time here...wait for Leanan to come back and you will not be sorry. She runs the Drumbeats, but is away at the moment.

I am honored. Truly. Thanks for your kind advice.

I'm doing my best to stretch my brain beyond it's normal boundaries. I actually explained a lot that I've learned here to a bio-engineer this morning and she was very impressed. You folks do a super job of providing an education. As I've said before this is an outstanding community. I knew the ribbing was a good sign. :)

Sorry I've been busy today. I salute all of you!

BP Video on Relief Wells from June 2nd, and at second 23 there is a casing schematic of all the wells. I've seen this posted elsewhere but it was too small to see the numbers.

Estimating from the figure, and vertical depths, it appears like 16" casing is set at 12,000', 13 5/8" set at 13,000' and then a 11 7/8" liner at 15,000' presumably tied back into the 13 5/8". There might be an error in this figure, or the Halliburton schematic because the latter shows the original well as also having the 11 7/8" liner and the June 2 video doesn't show that. Pretty much the exact same casing job as first time except we don't know the weights and grades or if the week spot may be in the liner hangers. It looks like they plan to intercept the LW below the 9 7/8" liner which is at 17,168'. Full reservoir pressure should be expected at that point. Is this casing string adequate to do the job?

With all the focus on the webcams at the wellhead it would be nice to get something similar for the relief wells. How about a cam that monitors the drilling mud flows along with pump pressures, strokes, etc. I mean the whole world knows there is a lot of oil down there so it's not like a confidentiality thing. I'd like to see them post the morning drilling reports just so all us armchair engineers can see what is really going on.

Very impressive. Why isn't the media presenting interviews of these guys? Where are the interviews of the people working to cap it? Coast Guard, BP engineers, contract employees, etc. Please post more links to the videos of the teams working to plug this thing. Thanks.

It was good to see the "Boots & Coots" logo on the Intersection Team Leader's shirt. They really are the best in the business at this.

Great video. The dude hasn't missed in 40 RW's attempted. That's the guy I want in command.

As to why they can't be in front of the media first they are either under NDA, if they are contractors, or forbidden if they are employees. If you want to hear what BP has to say you can see their SEC filings.

In that vein they are releasing daily 6-K's. You can find and read these on the SEC EDGAR site.

  • There are some interesting recent (last few days) items including a press release restating the BP commitment to their efforts by the Chairman and CEO; how they are funding the barrier island shore protection for LA; a Moody's downgrade of BP's ratings; and finally this:

    June 4, 2010 (14:00 BST)


    BP announced today that oil and gas is being received onboard the Discoverer Enterprise following the successful placement of a containment cap on top of the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer (BOP). This follows the cutting and removal of the riser pipe from the top of the BOP's lower marine riser package (LMRP).

    It is expected to take one or more days for flow rates of oil and gas to stabilize and it is not possible at this stage to estimate how much oil and gas will be captured by this containment system.

    All of these operations are complex, involve risks and uncertainties, and have to be carried out by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at 5,000 feet under water. Systems such as the LMRP containment cap never before have been deployed at these depths and conditions. The containment system's efficiency, continued operation, and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured.

    Preparations continue for the planned enhancements to the containment system as announced on June 1. Work continues on the first relief well, which started on May 2, and the second relief well, which started on May 16. Both wells are still estimated to take around three months to complete from commencement of drilling.

    I will be very interested to see what they are saying tomorrow.

    Wouldn't the RW be tapping into lower pressures as the leaking well is still releasing pressure too? Two RW should reduce the pressure between them by half. Maybe not quite as dangerous pressures as the initial tap.

    I hope you guys are right in that there is an improvement in the amount of oil gushing out to the sea.

    Frankly, I don't see much improvement. But in this case, I would really, really like to be wrong.

    But in the meantime, I think I will sharpen my pitchfork and check on my supply of torches.


    The problem is BP is lying. The Coast Guard is simply repeating their lies. There is no independent source of information (other than the armchair analysis I find here. Thank you to everyone with the skills who is contributing, and to our hosts (you can contribute to keep the site going somewhere up top).

    Fortunately, down here in Louisiana, we have learned the hard way that all of the people in positions of authority are powerless to help and will lie to cover that fact. That doesn't make it easier. It makes it harder.

    God Bless Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish (county) Louisiana: "A small tropical storm could push all that oil into the marshes and destroy coastal Louisiana. If that happens, may God help the people who stood in our way."

    kind of think they'll keep the gush large as they slowly close vents and add the Q4000 system - to be safe
    NTL, comparing to earlier screenshots - the gush is, in fact, less

    If the first relief well works and succeeds in killing the leak, what will they do with the second relief well? Abandon it, or drill down to the formation and convert it to a production well?

    Just a guess aardy but I would suspend the second well so I might be able to utilize it later to develop the field. But, needless to say, "later" will be years down the road.

    BP is facing a new PR battle now that oil is washing up in other states like Alabama and Florida. Alabama mayors not too happy...see below.

    BP official grilled by frustrated mayors at news conference

    Frustrated Gulf Coast mayors confronted a BP official during a news conference Saturday after they said requests to meet with high-ranking executives at the oil company went unanswered.

    The incident occurred as BP's senior vice president briefed reporters in Mobile, Alabama, about the ongoing efforts to contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Fryar said an operation underway to funnel crude from the underwater gusher to a surface vessel was going "extremely well," and that he was "pleased" with the effort thus far.

    Robert Kraft, the mayor of Gulf Shores, took issue with that characterization, saying, "I don't know who represents you in our community, but I would love to have one of your guys go down and look at our beaches and tell me that what you see is effective and is working."

    What cracks me up in this video is when Fryar says, "I've vacationed on these beaches for 10 years. I grew up here." Trying to show his empathy for the people that actually live and work there. Glad he can just "vacation" and then leave. Some folks have to live with it all the time. I really wish they would not have BP make any more public statements. At least let the local officials get debriefed in private and let them talk.

    If 10,000 barrels/day are captured now, and if that's the 'vast majority' of the total flow, as BP CEO Tony Hayward claims, then the remaining flow would be less than 5,000 barrels/day. That's less than 10 litres/second, or less than one bucket of oil per second.
    Take a look at the livestream: To me, it is totally improbable that this would be less than one bucket of oil per second.

    Remember there would be about 3x that much gas as well. I won't make any attempts to estimate leakage flow rates, but I imagine it doesn't take much to make a pretty good show.

    Thx for that. I wouldn't put a number to the flow rate either, but I am quite sure that it's a lot more than 1 bucket of oil and a couple of buckets of gas per second. What's the diameter of that light blue dome we're seeing (is it the BOP)?

    I've been watching this more carefully than I care to admit. There is clearly more effluent visible now than yesterday. Yesterday I could clearly see the body of the cap; not now. However,I believe that the view shown to us does NOT show what's coming out of the valves; it's too low down and close to the cap.
    There would seem to be three possible reasons for this increase:
    1. BP is receiving less oil up top due to system problems, possibly temporary.
    2. The well is putting out more oil.
    3. BP has closed some/all of the valves, and the system is not capable of handling the extra volume.
    My guess is 3. Any opinions?

    Seems to be popular to speculate about the flow and the leak. I think your point 3 may have merit - if they shut off all the valves then the only leak is now from the base of the cap. Remember they need to allow some oil to leak so at to not suck seawater into the system which might lead to formation of gas hydrate / clathrate.

    When is the 'flow rate technical group' established by the government expected to come up with better numbers? Sofar, only a 'preliminary' estimate, described as an estimate of the lower limit by 2 group members, of 12,000 - 19,000 barrels/day, but that's more than a week old (27 May), before sawing off the pipe!

    I noticed this as well, about one hour ago, shortly after I posted the updated BP numbers.

    On the first day, they shut down the system for three hours, but never said why, so this could be a system shutdown while they tend to some issues. Maintenance, perhaps?

    They've stated that the output can vary over time, so it's possible that the output has increased.

    Let's see what happens in a couple of hours.

    I hope they shut the valves -- I haven't seen a top-side shot in a day or more.

    I think the answer is (4) -- they're getting a lot, and are going slowing in the ramp-up now.

    You could see the body in the lower shot this morning. It might vary from time to time, so I can't say for sure how it's doing overall, but at least my peek today it looked much better than a peek yesterday.

    The latest update from BP's site:

    Subsea operational update:

    • On June 5, a total of 10,500 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million standards cubic feet of natural gas was flared.
    • Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next few days.

    June 6, 2010 9:00 am CDT / 3:00 pm BST

    10,500 bbl/day oil x 6MMBtu/bbl = 63BB Btu oil/day

    22MM scf gas/day x 1050 Btu/scf = 23.1BB Btu gas/day

    Gas/oil ratio in Btu terms = 23.1/63 = 0.37

    So what's the G/O ratio in standard terms, because the Btu ratio sure is lower than what's been bandied about upthread?

    It's a volume calc - not a BTU calc. The volumes impact production and how you go about doing it.

    From Wikipedia

    When oil is brought to surface conditions it is usual for some natural gas to come out of solution. The gas/oil ratio (GOR) is the ratio of the volume of gas that comes out of solution, to the volume of oil at standard conditions.
    A point to check is whether the volume of oil is measured before or after the gas comes out of solution, since the oil volume will shrink when the gas comes out.
    In fact gas dissolution and oil volume shrinkage will happen at many stages during the path of the hydrocarbon stream from reservoir through the wellbore and processing plant to export. For light oils and rich gas condensates the ultimate GOR of export streams is strongly influenced by the efficiency with which the processing plant strips liquids from the gas phase. Reported GORs may be calculated from export volumes which may not be at standard conditions.
    The GOR is usually measured in cubic feet of gas per barrel of oil or condensate.
    If the GOR is greater than 10,000 cf/bbl, then the field is usually described as a gas well. If less than 10,000, then the field is generally described as an oil well.

    Initial: 3000 scf/bbl
    June 4: 2580 scf/bbl (15.7 MM scf, 6077 bbl)
    June 5: 2095 scf/bbl (22 MM scf, 10500 bbl)

    Is the declining gas content a trend or a fluctuation?
    If it's a trend, what does it mean?

    It wouldn't surprise me that it is a trend, but I would expect a lot of "noise" with respect to these numbers, as when a "slug" of gas comes up, it will expand enough to push more oil out the partial seal at the base of the cap, and there may be a preference of gas to go up the riser -- or equally, the other way around for nearly the same reasons (gas slug blowing out the base of the riser).

    This report is dated 12 August 1999. After reading it I was pretty depressed. Rather than get into the details I'll just post the link.

    I just skimmed it, hope to read it in more detail later. What depressed you about it? The complexity of the situation, the fact that the technology they recommended in preparation for such an event has never been manufactured (to my knowledge, don't really know), or what?

    Oh, by the way--I found this statement in the report ironic:

    There is very little blowout experience in deepwater from which to draw when
    evaluating countermeasures.

    I guess they have their data now.

    The overlooked aspect of the graphics is that at a break in the well in the third graphic at -5000 ft that coincides with the sea floor the friction of the water interacting with the blow out of the well decreases the pressure of the oil in a rapid fashion until it matches the pressure of the sea water. From that point forward the density of the oil in relation to the density of the sea water controls the potential pressure of the oil that attempts to float in the water. In effect the energy of the oil is lost to the water and the primary force on the water is whatever buoyancy the oil maintains relative to the water.
    There is a relationship established yet unknown that controls the volume of water needed to equalize the pressure of the well to the pressure at the sea bed.
    If that volume of water is calculated and the oil water mix is captured in a screened area in the shape of a pipe of sufficient capacity, then the oil water mix could be passively separated within the pipe by gravitational forces, especially if the pipe is placed as a barrier upon which the oil can rest as it moves. My guess is that a pipe of 20' diameter and 1 mile in length would do the job.
    The pipe or screen would need to be able to separate the gas before entering the tube. The tube would need to be neutrally buoyant and of sufficient strength to withstand currents, temps and pressures at -5000 ft.
    My contribution to such a device is located here:

    I think in the last engineering video by the BP guy (May31), in the latter part of the video he showed a pic of the construction on a "jacket" with very thick walls that might go around the cap to help with the total capture. I'd like to see more on this, and hope this necessary "partial seal" is just a temporary issue.

    The difference in their idea and mine is that I use passive separation of the oil from the water and storage of the oil in a sub-sea manner. This makes operation of the device during hurricanes and storms possible and storage at a depth below the zone of influence of the hurricane.

    I do appreciate your input as you have brought up an important aspect of the problem. I was hoping for more constructive criticism from others in addition to your helpful comment.

    Generally I like the idea, the transition to the sock might be tricky because of rapid expansion, so a transition structure of some kind might be necessary. Then again the open bottom of the sock might be just fine. Or the bottom 100' or so would have to be extra heavy or steel. It also might help to extend the broken pipe farther up the column.

    Very reliable means of removing gas from the sock needed. Should be possible to have redundant pipes/valves to safe areas.

    I just skimmed your orig post, I don't get the jet pump part. I don't get all the fabric stuff. I think the sock might be big enough that stratification might happen at a rate oil/gas/etc could be pumped out at different heights as needed.

    BP, Prior to Gulf Accident, Said Measuring Oil Flow Was ‘Critical’ to Effective Response

    Just want to say it's sad that BP/"the powers that be" will not let us see what's happening top-side. Hopefully at some point the efforts of those risking all to manage this disaster will be recognized.

    I certainly want to thank all TOD contributors and the ROV crews whose feeds I watch daily, who I can only assume make a difficult job look easy.

    Thanks to everyone!

    How about a ROV camera shot that is about 30 feet back off the cap so we can get a better estimate of how large the effluent is still leaking into the ocean. Not too many of those types of shots. Lots of close ups, but nothing to give you a good feel of the total effluent. Is this by design?

    not enough light for a 30 ft off shot. everything you see is illuminated by ROV lighting.

    There were some really nice perspective shots some days back when two ROVs were working around the kink and the third was up above and off to the side providing video. The two close in provided the light for the scene and it provided a good overview of the situation.

    How about 2 ROVs lighting behind the plume, one at the source and one 30' up the plume and then a 3rd ROV taking the camera shot 30' away. The specifics are trivial. I just have not seen very many wider angle shots, they are all close ups. Heck, even 10' above the cap would be quite interesting to me. How about a ROV that follows the plume from the cap and then all the way to the surface?

    You can light up the plume all you want, but the 30' of water between the plume and the camera absorbs and scatters a *lot* of light.

    Taking clear photos of anything underwater at more than 10' distance is difficult; at 30' it's damn near impossible.

    OK, holy jeezus, give me 15' then. I just don't want a shot 3' from the fricken' source. Pan the camera up a bit once in awhile.

    Personally, I'd prefer that all the ROV's stay deployed on stopping the thing....

    I think all of the ROVs are equipped with a sector scan sonar. If so, a fairly accurate estimate of flow can be made at zero impact to current operations. Record sonar images from all three ROVs stationed at the well, the mean and limits of the diameter of the plume can be made directly. Accuracy will be good because of the nifty steel cylinder reference (cap 4). The density of the plume can be measured by both the distortions in the shape of the cylinder and the contrast between the brightness of the water/plume/steel interfaces. There are multiple independent groups that could easily do this analysis (Navy, academia and industry). No new research or technology required. Probably would take a day for the first rough cut. Then another year for all of the papers exploring the problem in excruciating detail :).

    As far as lying, its is WITHOUT QUESTION not in BPs interest to lie or deliberately mislead about the flow rate. Remember there is a good decade of lawsuits to come and BPs attorneys are making every effort to prepare the ground. Lying is the absolute best way to screw yourself. BP has been carefully sticking to the essence of "No comment" unless they are sure of the truth and accuracy of the answer. Mistakes and misstatements are mercilessly attacked in court regardless of the innocent intent. Attempts to assuage public fears could cost the shareholders billions later. Always plead the fifth!

    It is WITHOUT QUESTION in BP's interest to lie, conceal, and misrepresent every detail of the Macondo disaster including flow rates past, present and future. Shredding documents and data happened in the first 24 hrs after blowout. No proof, no guilt.

    Been reading too many novels have we? Do not judge everybody by what government officials or you might do.

    Not true. For a civil action the standard is "preponderance of evidence", IOW 51% proof. And even that is a jury's opinion. Lawyers like to lead jurors to infer what was on those shredded documents even though the jury is supposed to disregard them. Lying to hide culpability only helps if it prevents a court action. There is going to be so much discovery by so many parties that BP's lawyers should be disbarred for incompetence if they allow BP to say anything that can be proven a lie.

    Hi avonaltendorf,

    I'm not picking on you, just using your comment as an example. So please, don't take it personally.

    It is the custom on TOD to back up critical statements presented as fact with proof. This usually means providing a link to a document which substantiates the fact presented in the comment. Links to MSM (main stream media) are typically discouraged as they are often incorrect, (that's why we are here, right?) That said, they are better than fringe blogs ;-)

    Stating BP shredded documents and data in the first 24 hours after the blowout is an extremely serious charge that could land people in jail. Not you, the shredders :-) Although, technically, I suppose you could be accused of libel if certain legal standards were met. But I digress.

    Everyone who contributes to TOD, either in the form of an article or a comment about an article, sets the tone for what TOD is all about. I'm not a TOD volunteer or even a long term member (just about 2 years), but I think I won't get kicked in the butt for saying that one of TOD's core strengths is its ability to focus on facts and not fall into the trap of discussions based on assumptions.

    It is gratifying to see so many new people here. We can all help each other learn by helping TOD do what it does best, share technical expertise and facts. Emotional commentary and assumptions do not contribute to a learning environment.

    Now that I'm done with my sermon for the day, if you do have information proving BP shredded documents and data it would be a great contribution to share it with us. If you do, that's fantastic, if not, at least I was able to bring up a point that many other commenters on TOD need to keep in mind before they push the Save button. Either way, you have helped.


    Preponderance of evidence that BP Houston gave orders to company men Vidrine and Kaluza, neither of whom appeared at Coast Guard hearings in Kenner. Vidrine claimed illness, Kaluza pleaded 5th Amendment. BP executives repeatedly denied knowing what happened at Macondo and blamed Transocean for the blowout. Coast Guard hearings established that BP company men were in control of drilling program, ignored mud returns, ordered displacement to seawater.

    "Mark Hafle, the BP drilling engineer who wrote plans for well casings and cement seals on the Deepwater Horizon's well, testified that the well had lost thousands of barrels of mud at the bottom. But he said models run onshore showed alterations to the cement program would resolve the issues, and when asked if a cement failure allowed the well to flow gas and oil, he wouldn't capitulate. Hafle said he made several changes to casing designs in the last few days before the well blew, including the addition of the two casing liners that weren't part of the original well design because of problems where the earthen sides of the well were ballooning. He also worked with Halliburton engineers to design a plan for sealing the well casings with cement." []

    I monitored the hearings, listened to every word of testimony and watched him smirk. Halfe prevaricated, refused to identify the authenticity of the Macondo Final Drilling Plan with his signature on it, which was produced by Transocean. Hafle's attorney objected to introduction of BP proprietary information.

    "BP's claims of limited involvement in the actual drilling of the Macondo Prospect well are so disingenuous and incongruent with the facts that they would be laughable if they were not so cynically absurd. All aspects of Macondo well design and drilling program execution came under BP's direct control, supervision, approval and authority, and for BP to suggest that they simply were not significantly involved in the conduct of well operations on 20 April is to turn the world upside down and expect no one to notice." [Michael Williams, Wall Street Journal]

    "The New York Times reported on May 30 that internal BP documents showed 'serious problems and safety concerns' with the rig prior to the explosion that triggered the spill. Marzulla said the government also may investigate whether BP or other companies lied to the government by submitting false reports to regulatory agencies." [Bloomberg Businessweek]

    "More than a half-dozen workers who were on the rig at the time of the explosion told the lawyers that the rig operator seemed to be rushing to finish and detach from the well — a possible factor that could have contributed to the explosion..." [New York Times]

    "In 2002, the rig [Deepwater Horizon] was upgraded with 'e-drill,' a drill monitoring system whereby technicians based in Houston, Texas, received real-time drilling data from the rig and transmitted maintenance and troubleshooting information."

    "BP will display its Field of the Future™ programme, which is at the center of the company’s goal to increase production by 100,000 barrels a day by 2017, at SPE Intelligent Energy 2010 in Holland starting today (23-25 March, Jaarbeurs, Utrecht). Routinely supporting more than 80 percent of its top producing wells, the BP Field of the Future programme seeks to improve decision-making through real time data capabilities in production and reservoir management. Since it was initiated five years ago, the programme, which is now a routine part of how BP builds projects and operates fields across its portfolio..."

    "Was the rig wired at the time of the blowout, fire and explosion? Were the data transmitted? Where are the data, who has access to them? Tuesday’s Senate hearings produced few salient data points among all the finger-pointing and recriminations. Beyond the statements made in front of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, it’s time to drill down and take a close look, not at the testimony of the executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton who did their best to spin liability, but at the hard data, information flow and decisions made..." [Roll Call, May 14]

    "Do not hold your breath on ever seeing that. This well was exploratory and everything was locked down on one specific floor at bp's office in HTX. If you ever see the data it would be after many trials and if someone stole it. I doubt seriously this data will EVER be public."

    Thanks for your response. I also watched the hearings and found Mark Hafle's smirk and testimony to be disheartening. As to the rest of your comment, it is all good stuff.

    The question as to whether BP shredded documents and data is still unanswered. I'm sure we will both be watching future hearings to see how hard BP is pressed about full disclosure, and if evidence of document and data destruction comes up in future hearings, that will be something we will all be talking about for a long, long time.

    We know from what was said at the last hearing that BP has already provided a ton of info to the committee. Problem is is anything missing? Given the standard procedures for data collection on a drilling rig (as you point out in your comment), it would seem an expert could quickly establish if all records were provided.

    Kaluza taking the 5th is a hard nut to crack. His lawyers speaking for him are assuming the public are idiots.

    Robert Kaluza’s attorneys, Shaun Clarke and David Gerger, came out in defense of their client and defined him as a “dedicated, hard-working, conscientious man” whose 35 year experience working in oil fields would have been enough not to do anything wrong. He “did no wrong on the Deepwater Horizon.”

    Sure, he did not wrong but just in case, he pleads the 5th. Hope this "conscientious" man finally wakes up and does the right thing. If he does not, it will haunt him for the rest of his life. It would be interesting to know if he is paying for his lawyers or BP is. Did you catch that at the hearing?

    Halliburton had well data of the last 2 hours. Nothing to hide.

    avonalteendorf: BTW, shredding documents is not illegal unless a person is required to preserve the documents by law or court order. I just took a whole load to a shredding company because I was overwhelmed with storage costs. It was widely documented that Enron had an all night shredding party just ahead of a court preservation order. Too bad. All gone.

    BP was given a "preserve all documents" order by the government at some time in May, I can't find the exact date.

    ...and the accident was April 20...

    Honey, can you take out the trash for me, it's really been stacking up...

    OK. But... The US might enforce some sanctions against BP for shredding documents at BP's headquarters in UK. But they won't revoke their corporate registration. If the documents are in UK and the shreddin' employee is in UK and the shreddin' employee is a UK citizen, then what is US jurisdiction over shreddin' employee? I haven't the foggiest notion except for 10+ years of litigation, perhaps.

    It is without question in BPs interest to 'interpret' the data in such a way as to minimized the spill rates, since they will be paying fines based on volume spilled. But it's not exactly a lie to use the low end of the uncertainty range.
    Similarly, the government benefits from using the high end of the uncertainty range (we're only talking 'paper' volumes here, not actual spill volumes.)
    Since both BP and the government should have access to all the data, I expect each side is employing technical teams to interpret the data to their own interest. Words released to the public, officially or otherwise, are mainly to establish 'boundaries' in the public mind for when the whole matter goes to court.

    It's also without question in BP's interest to use every bit of uncertainty or vagueness available to them to shade what they say. So today they think the "vast majority" of the flow is being captured while the remainder that's being released is very likely more oil than the total flow they were willing to estimate two weeks ago.

    Also, reading the Hayward interview transcript over in the Drumbeat, it appears that Tony is really saying that "eventually" they will capture a "vast majority" of the flow. Assuming all goes to plan. He is good at not getting cornered on specifics. He has a bright future in politics.

    I don't know. It's been a long weekend, & I'm afraid when people come home tmw night, after hearing about improvement, then seeing the live feed on Brian Williams, I'm thinking the whole situation is going to explode There is no weight greater than 300 million bodies pressing down on you, no matter your knowledge, skill level, competency even decency. You will snap like a twig. And IMO, we are a fingernail slice away from that.

    What percentage of BP's claimed capture rate is oil, and what is water?

    The reported 22,000,000 cubic feet of gas (along with 10,500 barrels of oil), if converted to temperature and pressure at the top of the BOP, are something around 40,000 barrels, depending on the actual temperature at that point (I've seen varying numbers). This makes the flow at that point ROUGHLY 20% oil and 80% gas, volume/volume. This brings the official flow estimates fairly close in line with the visual impression of the magnitude of the gusher, but it still might suggest that the real flow is on the upper end of the estimated range (20,000 bpd or more) given that many people have guestimated the raw flow as 100,000 bpd or more. Still dealing with approximations here; the real proof will be how much oil is collected when peak performance is obtained versus how much the leak around the hat appears to have reduced.

    Another well-constructed post, bb551. Tells us what we can actually infer from empiric data (i.e. volumes collected, temperature at depth) as opposed to nonsense like "the dome seems to be rocking more today... can't see as much fin, so the leak is bigger."

    Good reasoning, but how do you arrive at 40,000 barrels? I'm calculating in SI, and I come to roughly 25,000 barrels. Temperature assumptions shouldn't cause that kind of differences, should they? I read it's 6C down there.

    The stream of oil and gas is coming out hot. I've seen numbers from 150C to 250C talked about, not sure if there is an actual measurement. Using the ideal gas approximation, at 150C you get 51% more volume, and at 250C you get 87% more volume, than at 6C. That puts you in the 40,000 barrel range, but also shows part of why it's uncertain and very dependent on the actual temperature of the flow and how fast it cools.

    Just high-school chemistry and physics, no fancy analyses. Good for getting a sense of the matter, but not a precise answer.

    Does that number take gas expansion and all into account?

    Yes it does, the 22,000,000 standard cubic feet is at "STP;" i.e. 25C and 1 atm pressure. BUT a big caveat about my back-of-the-envelope. I simply used the ideal gas law (PV = nRT). At the pressures and temperatures found at the mouth of the broken riser, the methane is probably above the critical point, and the ideal gas law will not be as good of an approximation as it would be at lower temperature and pressures. You need a real chemist to address this in detail.

    Is there any good technical reason why BP will only give oil-capture data on a 24-hourly basis?

    I am reading the interesting discussions here as to whether oil leakage has reduced visibly but these are discussions only seem neccessary due to a paucity of hard information from BP.

    If oil-capture rates naturally fluctuate for operational reasons then I could see that something like a minimum data sampling rate of 24 hours might allow a more accurate estimate of any trend resulting from BP's attempt to improve capture. If not, I'll happily hand this to the conspiracy theorists to suggest an alternative explanation!

    "Is there any good technical reason why BP will only give ..."

    It takes time to go through the legal department, and everything has to go past the lawyers before being released (or at least I would be surprised if it was otherwise.)

    “When a spill has been verified and located, the priority issue will be to estimate and report the volume and measurements of the spill as soon as possible,” -- BP policy document

    It is inconceivable that BP does not have extensive pressure and flow metering equipment in operation to maintain the integrity of the current capture operation. Using this equipment in conjuction with varying the bypass venting settings on the cap would yield a fairly accurate estimate of the spill flow rate. BP is deliberately concealing the flow rate, and the US Government is not lifting a finger to compel them to produce a good estimate.

    As long as the spill flow rate remains vague, BP can put on a good show of capturing vast amounts of oil, irrespective of the net impact of the undimensioned leakeage on the GOM. The best PR people in the world are helping BP manage public perceptions, and it is critical to this manipulation effort to avoid providing accurate data on the flow rate.

    The intelligent and well-informed participants on TOD are persistently interested in estimating the magnitude of the leak because this information is hugely important for determining remediation tactics and financial and political consequences for BP and the Obama administration. This is precisely why BP continues to conceal the magnitude of the oil leakage.

    We are watching a corporation defend its profitability above all other values. It is not a pretty picture.

    I'd say that was a fair description of what was going on in the early weeks. It was in BPs interest to understate the quantity because it could be fined $4300/bbl. However the government did seem to figure this out and put together a panel of government and independent scientists, including the two who produced the highest estimates, to determine the rate. Just because they aren't giving daily updates doesn't mean they aren't watching closely.

    The government also insisted that the flow meter on top be independently calibrated.

    Since the estimates of three sub-groups disagreed they are probably waiting until almost all is metered before going public again.

    Then someone is gonna be braggin'

    If the Obama administration wanted to conceal the quantity the last thing to do would have been to appoint scientists whose reputations will suffer if the number comes in low. Do you think they would keep quiet? they will take off the spill cams underwater.

    I agree, has BP or anyone given an estimated rate after the riser was cut? I fear it is more than they want to make public. A 10,000 BOPD capture rate(including gas volume) sounds good unless the total flowrate is close to 25-30,000 BPD. That would mean the present "successful" operation has not gained a thing other than information maybe.

    At the risk of interrupting the flow of the discussion,
    have lasers been considered as a method of heating the cap and /or riser to prevent or disperse any hydrate blockage which might occur there?
    Edit: The rovs look capable of carrying such tools. Or could be attached to cap. Would need to be regulated w temp feedback obviously.
    If heating this way could be accomplished would that lessen the critical inflow / outflow point of lower seal i.e.could they ramp up collection a bit?

    Feeds are down for me......anyone else have this problem?

    There's a lot of buffering at The only one I'm seeing is Boa Deep C : ROV 1.

    First - it is unlikely there is a laser ready to go that will operate at that pressure.
    Two - High power CO2 cutting lasers are strongly absorbed by water
    three - crud in the flow will either scatter the beam or absorb the energy and shield the steel.

    Any operation to fix this has to be with proven technology ready to be deployed at depth. There just isn't time to muck with getting new techniques working.

    If you want to pump heat into the area, use a electrical resistance heater. Easy to custom make and will operate at any depth. Undersea umbilicals are off the shelf - the real question is whether it will make enough difference to make the effort worthwhile - an engineering decision

    The Navy has experimental weapons systems employing lasers that penetrate water (presumably, visible or near-UV light). Even those would fail to provide any significant power at depth, even if they were tuned to a water absorption minimum. How powerful are underwater lasers?

    Only lasers powered by nuclear explosions will be seriously considered.

    Only lasers powered by nuclear explosions will be seriously considered. Ones that are transported to site in a gravel filled battleship hull with triple bladder protection, augmented with VFD flux-capacitors to ensure a safety seal for some good head.

    OK. You all can stop now. I think I get the picture .Just another one for the book.

    This brilliant explanation, by Richard Feynman as to the nature of understanding the 'Why' of how things things work might be useful for the book:

    Oh I see! Was all that other stuff in the addenda?

    Don't forget the lasers should be mounted on sharks heads.

    Is there still a way to open the shear jaws, grab the drill pipe, and pull it out? Could a new drill pipe then be inserted to 18,000 feet to mud kill the well? Isn't the Relief Well going to do this basic thing anyway? (Seems like it would save a lot of Relief Well drilling time and effort) If this is within reasonable tolerances without breaking out the casings could they at least try it? If it didn't work they could just put the Cap back on.

    Secondly, someone mentioned a tightly-fitting Cap sealed around the BOP flange with one-way relief valves for surges. This seemed like a good idea that no one responded to. Couldn't it be possible for there to be a split Riser that sends the increased total capture flow from this relief valve Cap to two or more processing ships to distribute the blowout flow in a more manageable way?

    Also, am I wrong in thinking a bigger Cap would catch more oil using the same principles?

    I think fears of severe wellbore damage preclude any messing with the BOP or any effort at a true seal.
    I have heard noises that another system is in fabrication to be deployed when ready - one might guess some kind of wraparound 'hat' with enhanced heating so it can catch the water-oil mix? Or just a replacement for the current one (though if it is working halfway well the old bird in hand vs two in bush comes into play).
    Water-clathrates issue may be changing if the noted GOR changes are indeed a trend and not noise. The decline would suggest a drop in fluid pressure and thus the energy driving the flow. One effect of that would be less gas coming out to expand, and less pressure drop during that expansion, so less chilling (refrigeration) effect on the adjacent water.
    The engineering challenges are severe in a 'static' case, but they're dealing with a moving target. (Speaking of 'moving', does anybody know if this area is subject to Loop current variations?)

    I think the sealed valve cap should be tried because the added backpressure that would threaten further erosion of the wellbore and possible formation blowout might not be that much. A well-built valved sealed Cap would add only a minor amount of backpressure if it was designed right. And isn't a pump that would create no overall additional backpressure into the wellbore well within reasonable possibility? Once you seal the Cap and add a pump you have total capture and no spill-over. Surges would exit the relief valve.

    And forgive me if this was already covered, but I haven't seen any explanation why they couldn't at least try to pull the old drill pipe and sink a new one in order to mud kill the well at the bottom? If I understand right the Relief Well is going to do this exact thing anyway.

    Lastly, I think if you look at the dynamics of heating coils they will heat things in contact with them but won't affect things away from them. So the gas would freeze into hydrate ice that would then significantly change the flow dynamics within your capture device. The oil flow entering this mess would hit the unmelted ice and flow right back out.

    And forgive me if this was already covered, but I haven't seen any explanation why they couldn't at least try to pull the old drill pipe and sink a new one in order to mud kill the well at the bottom? If I understand right the Relief Well is going to do this exact thing anyway.

    Of the two scenarios already given by BP, the one I think most likely to have happened is a cement failure on the outside of the casing. This would imply that the casing all the way to TD is still "relatively" intact. That the oil is not coming from the base of the casing up the inside of the 7"x9 5/8" casing. Which means any oil that ever did come out of the drill pipe made it there by going up to the BOP stack, down the casing from the top, and then down 3,000' +/- to the bit and then back up and out. Pressure wise this could be explained a partially closed BOP ram/annular, creating back pressure.

    This then assumes the cement failed between the casing and the productive formation(s) and the oil/gas/water flowed up on the _outside_ of the 7" casing, broke through the casing liner seat for the 9 5/8" liner casing, and used that annular space to travel to the BOP stack, eventually exiting out the annular space between the 7"x9 5/8" casing (now 9 5/8" outer diameter) and the 16" casing. I'm not sure of the mechanics of how this annular space wasn't sealed at the base of the BOP stack, so forgive me if I'm arm waving a bit here.

    Bottom line, you'd have to make sure to open all of the BOP stack and allow an unimpeded flow of oil up and then bank on the casing shoe failure as the cause of the blowout. I don't think that plan carries much weight at the moment with the failure of the cement currently being thought of as the likely cause of the disaster.

    There is speculation that a length of casing was knocked loose in the blowout and traveled up into the BOP. There is additional speculation that what we saw in the snipped-off portion of the riser that looked like two pipes within, one thicker, was actually the casing squashed into a figure 8 with the drill pipe in one lobe (the 'thicker pipe'). Whatever that was, the well portion is now clamped/squashed in the riser stub that was created when the claw snipped the riser above the saw cut and the riser wall above the cut collapsed over against the opposite wall. [perhaps if there is a length of casing up that high it would help explain the difficulties experienced with the diamond wire saw] It would have been really interesting to watch what happened if the wire saw cut had been successful and what ever was within had been suddenly freed up when the riser kink was removed.

    Has the section of riser with the kink in it been brought to the surface? Anyone have a photo?

    I would certainly think so as it had the lifting straps on it and would help them with the well forensics. No confirmation that I am aware of.

    Edit: The point I was trying to make was that there is some amount of trash within the BOP and running down into the well - at a minimum a length of drill pipe - and with the shears and rams in an unknown state removal of the LMRP is probably not as simple as getting the thing to unlatch. The wisdom of such an operation is another matter.

    Fascinating. Perhaps that explains why they abandoned the diamond saw. The saw was having extra casing debris driven against it making a lateral 'pinch'.

    Just being able to grasp this my interpretation is they don't want to do this right now because once you open everything up to perform this procedure you create flows that bring the equipment to untested levels that could result in catastrophic breakdown and a much worse blowout situation. You would have to open-up to full unrestricted blowout conditions that might create enough kinetic/physical force to damage equipment and stress the BOP. So it would have to be a one-shot deal that would have to work the first time. And closing this new higher blowout flow after the mud kill didn't work might create backpressure shocks that would be above what the BOP & wellbore have already experienced. (Unless they closed it slowly. If they could re-close it at all) Hmm.

    Other than this it seems the new drill pipe attempt wouldn't be much different than the Relief Well intercept mud kill. The only difference is the Relief Well intercepts at equal pressure depth and avoids all the problems above that level.

    Per my LIMITED understanding of the Loop Current, it almost never goes as far north as the well site.

    However, the oil has already drifted south into the Loop current, but the Loop current "cut off" the end of the loop (creating an eddy heading towards Texas) before the entrained oil could head towards the exit (the Florida Keys and beyond).

    The next northward expansion of the Loop Current will very likely/almost certainly pick up oil and take it out for the rest of the world to "enjoy" :-(

    My SWAG is just a very few % (perhaps <1%) will get out of the GoM.


    BP needs to get a handle on the leakage around the cap.
    Being able to put rovers on Mars and them last 10 x longer than they were supposed to is an engineering feat.
    Surely there is a better solution.
    I have come up with and have sent ideas to BP.
    I am a contractor not a Draftsman.
    Has anyone else on Oildrum sent BP Ideas ?

    Hope they get this thing under control

    I have sent BP ideas 3 different times via official channels and have never heard anything back. No crazy nuclear bomb ideas. I am a experienced (35 yrs) drilling engineer mostly offshore with a specialty in well control. My ideas are around removing the LMRP and latching on either another BOP or a riser and valves to recover 100% of the oil. I do not care if they respond, I just want them to fix the d&^n thing. I do not think a partial seal is acceptable when there is a better way. I hope you hear something.

    I think we'll hear more about the steel jacket that would go around the cap and aid with the seal in the next engineering update from BP.

    To mount another valve over the BOP was a quiet manifold idea discussed here but there wasn`t any conclusive answer why not at least to unbolt the remaining flange over the BOP. Some told about the danger of overpressure etc. but this could be solved by an overpressure valve.
    Are there any hints that the wellheat is some kind of pre damaged so that colosing a valve above it could compromise the whole wellhead ?

    This is the image presented by Kent Wells in his May 31st update

    And it's called the "Overshot Tool" but it's what I called a "jacket" in my attempts to propose a better seal. Wells says in the video that they won't be able to contain the entire well with this, but it will prevent any seawater from leaking in to the capture system.

    I certainly would not close the well off. Too much uncertainty about integrity of the BOP and casing system. However, you could accurately control the pressure with a surface choke. Pressure at the top of the BOP could be measured with a pressure sensor. Based on evidence from the top kill operation they should have an idea what the maximum allowable safe pressure is. I think what has been learned during this latest effort could be very useful coming up with a safe and reasonable procedure to stab another riser to the top of the BOP connector housing.

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten that there is a hydraulic connector connecting the old LMRP to the top of the BOP stack. I see no reason why it cannot be unlatched with the new refurbished yellow pod (but I could be wrong - BP do not give out many details). All this talk about unbolting the flex jt from the top of the LMRP is rubbish and I doubt an ROV could even do it.

    Again, I do strongly suspect BP are working on this one. They are buying time with top kills and top hats. These processes are unlikley to work but they also are not a waste of time. The experience and data from them are useful for any future attempts.

    What I am suggesting is not dissimilar to the top stab successfully used to kill many blowouts in the past. Only difference is that this is designed to capture the flow and not shut it in (due to integrity concerns). What is good here is 2 things -

    -A rig can work directly over the well (thanks to deepwater).
    -There is already a good machined surface with a latching profile to latch a hydraulic connector to (and one that is readily available off the shelf).

    And how many _years_ did they have to design, test then tweak the designs of those rovers?

    Well. If the general populace would only have taken on board a little of what engineers, environmentalists, climate scientists, even some politicians have been warning of for decades, and acted on it we might have had more time in which to prepare.

    BP and the oil industry have had *years* to improve the current 1950s technology. For starters, the riser should automatically detach at the BOP during rig fires. So none of the idiotic fumbling with hydraulic shears, diamond saws and "impossible" to remove flange bolts. By detaching, there would be minimization of damage to the BOP and the well casing on which it sits. If one BOP is not enough to assure capping of a blowout then two should be mandatory. It is hard to believe that in an industry where companies such as BP are making $6 billion *profit* per quarter that BOP units are scarce and they need to use refurbished ones.

    I'd be interested to know what dent it will make in their profits when all or some of these proposed safety improvements are implemented? For one well, no problem I suppose. For all wells, different matter, I'd think. Still, surely must be room for some technological improvement. A good engineer can do for a penny what any fool can do for a pound.(Whoops,revealed my nationality.)
    Anyone tried any back of Hershey bar wrapper calculations on that?

    This disaster is going to cost BP and 1000's of people a lot more then it would have cost BP to take proper safety precautions.

    This disaster is going to cost BP and 1000's of people a lot more then it would have cost BP to take proper safety precautions.

    I've submitted two or three. They're trying them but so far they don't seem to be working.(laughs)
    TBH, I'm not really sure whether it's ideas which are needed any more. They've got 20,000 plus to look at already according to DWHResponse, so probably any more sent in will just be clogging the brains of employees who could be working nearer the coalface.(Oh, sorry wrong expression.) I think ideas would be better posted here where they can be pre-vetted before being added to the pile waiting at DWHResponse.

    No teck knowledge, so T thank every one for their contributions to help us laymen understand all the complictions of this terrible oil spill. Have one big question: What if this had been in ultra deep water 10,000 feet or more? How much more complicated would it have become? Could they have successfully carried out the current operation, and how much more time and effort would have been required?

    Coupla questions, for anyone if they are to respond...

    1. Would a plasma arc cutter work at that depth to smooth and improve the stub of the riser where these collection hats are placed? Could the BOP and riser stub be electrically charged and then a ganged set of plasma cutters go to work to make the stub symmetrical?

    2. As the oil and gas reservoir empties, does the sea level of the GOM rise in response if even an inch or two?

    3. Does the reservoir fill with crumbling rock and mud or seeping water and mud from down the drill pipe? A vacuum doesn't occur so what fills the void? Does the floor of mud of the GOM slump down? I would think that rock strata holds the existing potential spaces in place as they are but what takes the place of the oil and gas that is ejecting? Does the gas simply expand? Would that eventually make this reservoir easier to handle?

    Your question #2 makes for an interesting math question! Since a lot of the readers here are dying to use their calculators on some numbers, I offer the following information as a basis to see what kind of responses we get, no fair converting the shape of the ocean to a simple shape.

    Daily total worldwide oil production: 8*10^7 BPD

    barrel of oil: .159 M^3

    Volume of the Ocean: 1.347 * 10^12 M^3

    Surface area of Ocean: 3.61 * 10^14 M^2

    If added to the volume of the ocean, how many millimeters (assuming a constant rate of production) would 10 years of oil production raise the level of the ocean?

    Here's a hint: If you are adding a tiny amount to a large volume, one of the two following quantities is irrelevant: either (a) the volume of the ocean or (b) the surface area of the ocean. Get that part right, and the answer is very easy to calculate. If you find yourself pulling out the value for pi, you are on the wrong track...

    This reminds me of a classic problem in basic geometry. If you fit a spring steel band exactly around the earth's equator (ignore the mountains, etc. for the sake of simplicity), and you then inserted a piece that increased the length of the band by exactly 1 meter, how much does this now lift the band above the surface of the Earth, assuming you made the gap uniform? The answer is surprising to most students.

    Another hint, the shape doesn't matter either, you can't have a proper math problem without extraneous information!

    Riddle: What is green, hangs on the wall and whistles?

    Answer: A herring, you can paint it green and hang it on the wall, the whistling part was just to make the reddle harder!

    Approximately 1/3 meter.


    Approximately 1/3 meter overall diameter increase. Divide by 2 to get answer.

    1) welding/cutting at such depth is very problematic. The high gas pressures inhibit arc formation and carry a lot of heat away.
    Read some of the refs in:

    I don't think anyone has demonstrated live welding/cutting at these depths,
    only some limited research.

    from this article and another I've lost the link to:

    The use of GTAW (TIG) -> akin to plasma cutting gets worse with depth,
    so they use GMAW (MIT) at depth.

    Sorry pressed for time.

    2) from clarity some days ago:
    gives 643 quadrillion ( x10^15) gallons in the GOM.

    How about you calculate 15,000 bbls per day (estimate) x 42 gals/bbl x 4 days to get the estimated leak.

    Lookup the area of the GOM, convert the leak gallons to cubic feet/meters, and divide that by the area in appropriate units to get the height the GOM will rise.

    For "fun" divide the leak by the volume of the GOM.
    "It's just a drop in the bucket" is probably true - but a very nasty drop it is.

    3) this is more for Rockman, but the gas would at some point form a bubble,
    water would flow in from below, and/or the pore spaces would shrink.

    Some of you might appreciete this N.Y. Times articles that overviews the Deepwater calamity.
    I don't know how anyone can have faith in emphasizing industry self regulating after this.

    In Gulf, It Was Unclear Who Was in Charge of Oil Rig

    This article is two weeks behind what has already been reported here.....

    Typical NYT's liberal spin. "oily riches". Come on guys, this is fuel. Nothing excuses BP from making this mistake but the way the media is using this for their political agenda is obvious. Plug the well, clean up the mess, find out what happened, fix the problems, and back to work.

    I hadn't heard about the walruses. It is reassuring that BP determined, according to their application, that the well wouldn't harm the walruses.

    Dialing it in?

    More oil is coming out now than before they cut the bend in the pipe. Of course thats just a visual observation but no one has anything but a visual observation to go on for that.

    BP said 20% more would leak after the riser even assuming that they have 50% of the leak under control, that means that they have only 30% of the original flow. With two more months to go that means a more than doubling of the current amount of oil in the Gulf.

    Also note BP said weeks ago they were recovering 5,000 BPD when they claimed the entire spill was 5,000 BPD, so why should we believe their math is good now?

    Others said 20%. BP said 5-20%. Unified Command based on CG and NOAA estimated 5000 BOPD. Thad Allen has said that many times. Actually he also gave the name of the CG person who said the 1000 BOPD initially. Due to concern early onthe condition of the riser and BOP the response was set up for bigger number( in case the whole thing gave way or if leak would grow over time).

    They have not said they have optimized yet and did say they are adding a second capture through flow lines(I have not heard them state what they think the capacity if this method would be.

    Many people insist BP are lying but give a pass to the 95% of misleading or false statements made by government, media or others parties. All that just goes by the wayside. Funny how BP or CG can't get away with giving uncertainties and ranges or probabilities without people accusing them of lying but everybody else can make speculative statements and down right misstatements and then claim they are unbiased or apolitical. They often rationalize it as being for "the cause".

    At least TOD has some people who care about the "what" and real science rather than only the "could be", "just might ", "maybe " , "I heard that" or "my friend's brother's first cousin who made it through the first grade saw in a Doctor Seuss book a way to fix it".

    Well said Mr. Diverdan.

    Looking at a billowing cloud of expanding gas with some oil in it and still under 2,000+ psi then accurately estimating the actual oil volume is impossible. It is like looking at the cloud filling the room from the smoke machine and guessing the weight of the dry ice used to create it.

    I think your math is wrong.

    Assume the original flow was 16,000 BPD. Now, add 20% to that to get 19,200 BPD after the cut.

    50% of 19,200 BPD is 9,600 BPD. But if the original flow was 16,000 BPD, then 9600/16000 is 60% of the original flow.

    Let's just settle for 50% as the numbers are coming from BP.

    Who are you going to believe, BP or your lying eyes? It is a sure thing that the gap area through which the oil is leaking is not a small fraction of the 6" pipe up which it is supposed to flow. The 5000' column pressure together with the increased drag in the 6" pipe imply that most of the oil will be spewing out the gap.

    Has anyone here given thought to the effect on the efficiency of the current cap system if and when the Q4000 begins to pull oil from the fill and choke lines?

    Suppose that by this time next week, the Q4000 is able to pull 6K BPD. That should make the flow out of the cut riser less violent, and could allow them to operate the cap closer to the "ragged edge", i.e., the point at which seawater is sucked into the cap and clathrates begin to form. Thus, the cap's efficiency should be improved, right?

    Secondly, suppose that between the Q4000 and the current cap they can capture 90% of the flow. That would leave, say 2K BPD (84K gallons/day) to float free.

    At that time, would the best solution be to use dispersant at depth, or to allow the crude to float to the surface for collection, burn-off, surface dispersion, etc?

    I think you've tagged my current thoughts with your post. You can bet they'll ramp up the choke and kill line pull from the base of the BOP stack with the ultimate care to keep the cap system clean of pressure drop and imbibing seawater. I'm also interested technically to see if the gas/oil ration coming up the choke/kill lines will be approximately the same as the main cap system capture rate.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that the first relief well is running slightly ahead of schedule, but BP will remain conservative on the intersection date to keep the political folks from being, er, more political.

    I wonder about this too. Theoretically, the choke and kill lines should be able to handle all of the oil and gas - we know this because mud was being pumped through the same lines at a much higher rate. There should be much less "optimization" involved - the connections should be tight, and no hydrate problem.

    Then my question becomes - could this theoretically take in all of the oil/gas? Oil/gas is going to flow to wherever pressure is the least. The BOP (above the c/k lines) is exerting some pressure, and there is also water pressure on top of that. Could that, along with possibly additional blocking elements, convince the oil it wants to flow up the c/k lines entirely?

    5000 ft down = 160 atm from a previous poster.

    One atm (atmosphere calibrated at sea level) = 14.7 lbs per square inch

    160 atm = 2352 psi

    this is the pressure of seawater at depth 5000 ft working against the leak; for the gas/oil to escape the leaking fractures of the drill stem / well head, it has to have SOME PRESSURE IN EXCESS OF 2352 psi, this is also the approximate pressure pushing gas/oil to the surface from the bottom through a collection tube to the surface if NONE of said pressure was being lost out of the collection system due to still present leaks, given some suction vacuum and lack of pressure restrictions topside.

    Remember this is pressure in terms of "psi" (pounds per square inch); TOTAL pressure is something greater than this, and must be calculated by multiplying the total number of square inches from the cross sectional area of the collection tube diameter ( Area = pi x radius squared ) by 2352 psi.


    If the collection tube had diameter of 10 inches, radius would be 5 inches. Radius squared would be 5 x 5 or 25. 25 times "pi" (3.14) = 78.5 TOTAL cross sectional square inches for a 10 inch tube; 78.5 total square inches times 2352 psi = 184,632 total lbs of pressure force coming up the collection tube (92.316 tons).

    In a properly designed joint cap between the cut riser and the new collection tube, if no back pressures existed in the system, such tremendous pressures coming up from the bottom should actually result in a sucking action at any minor leaks at the bottom where sea water was sucked INTO the system, instead of gas/oil continuing to leak out AGAINST sea water pressure of 160 atm at 5000 ft down. Also, even if "slush" from "frozen methane" happened as they claim from previous attempts, such tremendous pressures should have no trouble blowing it up and out, kinetic motion movement of this slush should prevent it from "freezing solid", and even if it did freeze solid, the "methane ice" plug would still probably be ejected like a bullet out the top side.

    Previously, I have wondered about this reported methane slush claim. For the intense pressures and cold temperatures at said depth, the sea water is still plenty fluid -- what is the temperature down there. Whatever it is, it has to be something far higher than the freezing temperature of methane, yet they claim it clogged up with "frozen methane", not solid, but "SLUSH".

    However cold it is down there, the water is still fluid. Pure water at atmospheric pressure freezes around 32 F (it is possible to super cool it and keep it from freezing); I understand we are not talking about "pure water". Sea water instead and extreme pressure (the extreme pressure should actually contribute to the solidification, given heat has been removed, as is the case).

    But the freezing point of pure methane gas is -296.5 F ( -182.5 C ); I don't believe it is THAT cold down there. However cold as it may be, the local environment should be thawing the methane out, causing it to flow as a gas.

    However, these deposits of "frozen methane" DO EXIST sub-surface at higher depths than the mile deep and below.
    (you will have to copy and paste the WHOLE link above, entire line, into your browser's address bar)

    Is this "frozen methane" REALLY frozen, temperature wise, or is that just a term used to indicate it contained in the crystal lattice structure of encasing media, such as sedimenary rock ? The methane gas flowing, and being burned off or captured is definately "free gas", and should be subject to approximate physical freezing characteristics mentioned above.

    Lastly, I must say my trust of BP is not very high, for telling the truth about anything.

    In my area, which contained the Hugoton Natural Gas field of southwestern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (once touted to be the world's largest reserve of natural gas on the planet -- a never ending supply ???), BP has done some really dumb and what should be criminally illegal moves.

    After the field had been raped and plundered for profit, and was/is drying up (not endless after all) to the extent that the well head pressures were so low they had to install giant suction pumps on the wells to suck the remaining gas out of the ground, and experts said the whole field would be shut down in 5-10 years, BP invested some 80 million dollars into a new helium recovery plant to replace an old one that would have sufficed for the length of field production. The new plant had engineering errors, and within a couple of weeks to months or so of operation, giant cooling towers "melted down", causing the operation to be suspended while they re-designed and rebuilt these towers - that took months of lost productivity. They had already started dismantling of the old plant, so it could not be switched over to for a backup -- real smart BP, NO BACKUP PLAN !!! By the time they finally got the bugs worked out, with the extra expense, lost productivity, etc. the end cost of the new plant far exceeded original costs of 80 million.

    From an ex-employee of BP, I got this story. BP built a pipeline from Kansas over across the state line into Colorado. All the pipeline did in Colorado was make a U-turn and come back right into Kansas. WHY ???

    Simple, BP claimed locally produced gas in Kansas was "foreign" out-of-state produced gas, for which they could charge triple the price in the marketplace. They were so powerful with the political goons and KCC (Kansas Corporation Commission) in the state capitol and whatever federal officials may have been involved, that they got approval for the project, built it, pulled the project off, and it continues to operate to this day as far as I know.

    I regret the disaster in the gulf, and all the people's lives so negatively affected by it, but such a disaster could not have happened to a more DESERVING company.

    A couple of points:

    1) It isn't frozen methane they're worried about, but methane and water reacting to form a clathrate hydrate, methane trapped in a matrix of water molecules

    2) Your pressure calculations have to take into account the weight of the oil column in the riser. What is moving the oil up the pipe is the density differential between the water and oil. "Shelburn" has estimated that the differential is about 400 PSI on the bottom, but with friction in the pipe, this is reduced to 200 PSI at the surface.

    Using your calculation of 2352 PSI of water pressure, and with oil approximately 80% the density of seawater, a 5000 ft tall column of oil would apply about 1882 PSI against the water, for a differential pressure of 470 PSI, which is pretty close to Shelburn's number.

    thanks for the link to clathrate_hydrate

    I realize such reactons happen, reactions, chemical and otherwise, are directly dependent on pressure, temperature, and other "external" conditions relative to a "pure reaction" not under the influence thereof external factors.

    I also have thought about the weight due to gravity from the oil/gas/water mix working against the upward movement.

    I am not supporting having seawater in the collection system by making the point that such tremendous pressures and forces naturally exist in the pure oil/gas flow at the well head that such flow should be sucking seawater IN if a leak existed to do so somewhere in the total system, like a venturi action in a carburetor. If the top side was totally open, this effect would happen. Side pressure comes from restrictions to flow, creating a hydro-static-fluid pressure in all directions including to the sides; this restriction has to be caused by more than just the weight of the oil/gas (water if present) downward force from gravity -- if untrue, then the weight of the oil/gas itself would seal the well, and not a well in the world would work except but by vacuuming it out of the hole.

    Ideally, no water should be in the collection system.

    "What is moving the oil up the pipe is the density differential between the water and oil."

    If the collection system is devoid of oil/gas/water mix, this density differential between water and oil/gas can not possibly be the motivating pressure-force to propel the oil/gas to the surface. I think I recall below the wellhead a mile below the surface, the actual deposit is TWO MORE miles below the sea floor, and the tremendous pressure-force is sufficient to propel the oil/gas to the wellhead level against its own weight pushing down on the flow and friction loss from two miles of well piping.

    My point was realize how GREAT this natural pressure from the well itself IS, which HAS TO BE SOMETHING signifcantly greater than the seawater pressure at the depth involved, which when compared thereto, has to exceed some 90+ tons of force, depending on actual cross sectional areas of the collection tubing system.

    Quit making stuff up. You obviously are misinformed by someone.

    k0dpw: nice post, thanks.

    These clathrate formations; are they in the form of something like naphtha
    or mothball type soapy material? Do they melt in response to pressure reduction so that as they rise, they melt? Are there any other solvents than methanol?

    Regarding BP's safety record, many are touting that during the previous decade, there unsafe incident statistics are hundreds of times higher than their competitors. Do others in the industry agree or are these stats rigged and distorted? Is it easy for BP to hold onto employees? Are the employees apprehensive for their safety?

    Except for the cooling towers melting down in the new helium recovery plant several years ago, their local safety record is pretty good, and they have scheduled "disaster" drills in cooperation with local law enforcement, first responders, emergency managment teams, medical institutions, etc. for what ever those are worth (I monitored the last one on the scanner, and was not too impressed, but they called it a success in the paper). All these big companies officially promote a "safety first" agenda with a lot of training programs; but like the coal mine disasters, after one happens, the truth about safety concerns in practice begin to be exposed on an after the fact basis.

    It is VERY easy for BP to hold employees, their pay scale and benefits are the best in the community; they have waiting lists a mile long for people trying to get hired on. One usually gets hired on by "knowing someone". I used to say, one got a job on the basis of "what they know", then I realized one gets a job on the basis of "who you know". Now, it seems one gets a job based on "who you can snow". I went to school with guys that would have flunked out of school if they had not been star football, basketball, wrestling, and other sports star performers, who hired on, have high paying jobs, and retirements worth hundreds of thousands of bucks. Many of these have worked their way up into managment, but they could not think their way out of a wet paper bag as kids.

    The local power structure of politicians and community leaders LOVE BP to death, for the revenue BP brings in to the local economy, and give BP every thing they ask for. BP keeps the community buttered up by making HUGH charitable donations to cause after cause and community developments each year.

    Locally, BP has an overall positive reputation, and "problems" are overlooked.

    They have their share of bad luck. Once they pumped MILLIONS of cubic feet of refined propane down a storage well as underground storage, intending to pump it back up and sell it when market price conditions improved.

    When they went back to get it, they could not recover a single molecule of propane back up out of the hole. To this day, no one knows where it went. Their loss had to be in the millions over just this deal. This happend several miles west of town.

    In central Kansas around Hutchinson, another company was doing the same thing (a common practice for storing large quantities of natural "gases"), the gas traveled miles underground and got into old brine wells IN TOWN, and began coming into people's basements, sewer lines,and business places right on main street. As I recall, some places blew up, caught on fire, etc. resulting in a major problem almost impossible to get control of.

    We are waiting to turn on the water faucet and have propane come out.

    I think the poor safety culture / safety record is more specific to BP USA than the global organisation. This is something that senior management should have picked up on and clamped down on long ago IMO. One possible cause is that BP USA is formed by merging BP with Sohio, Amoco and Arco - no safety culture heritage?

    Methane hydrate formation is favored by high pressure and low temperature. I'm guessing the seabed temperature here will be close to 2˚C. So the clathrates melt when depressurised and / or heated.

    In today's SF Chronicle there's a long profile of UC engineering professor Robert Bea, who "has spent decades investigating catastrophic engineering failures, from the New Orleans levee breeches... to the space shuttle Columbia." He is currently involved in researching the Deepwater explosions.

    In the following excerpt, Karlene Robert, a research psychologist, is also mentioned.

    In 2002, BP excecutives asked him and Roberts to study organization issues in the company's US refinery operations. The refineries had been assembled through a series of acquisitions, Bea said, and had very different workplace cultures that didn't necessarily mesh with the parent company's. Some were beautifully run, others weren't.

    Bea and Roberts delivered a report on their findings. Three years later, one of the two refineries that the two researches considered a problem suffered an explosion and fire that killed 15 people.

    "I can't see any sign that (the report) took hold," Bea said. "It's like paint on a rusty car."

    In the Deepwater Horizon accident, Bea sees evidence of organizational problems both at BP and the (MMS).

    The full article - quite interesting - will not be available online at until Tuesday. (They hold back a few front page articles, presumably to encourage purchase of the paper copy.)

    The statistics that have been reported are that BP is responsible for 97% of the 'egregious, willful' violations in the industry over the past few years.

    I wonder if most of that has to do with the follow on from the Texas Refinery that killed 15 workers in 2005. Most of the citations seem to be associated with that plant.

    It has been said that BP hired Hayward in an attempt to clean up its act - clearly that hasn't been successful for what ever reasons - Hayward maybe isn't up to the job, and changing the culture of a company the size of BP is like trying to get an ocean liner to change direction; it doesn't happen quickly.

    You should do a little more homework. First, as already mentioned, the clathrates or methane hydrates are not frozen methane. Their physical properties are similar to water ice but at high pressures they are stable at temperatures well above the freezing point of pure water. They will form at about 18C/64F at 5000 ft depth. They are a widespread, well-known, and very familiar thing to people who move hydrocarbons through pipes under pressure.

    Next, please review the extensive discussions of why the leaky junction between cap and BOP is intentional and must be maintained so that it leaks oil out rather than sucking seawater in.

    All has been covered in detail in recent posts in this forum.

    Finally, I doubt you will find a multinational megacorporation anywhere on earth that does not engage in unethical, misleading, and even illegal actions on a daily basis. It is in the nature of the beast to do whatever can be gotten away with to maximize profits; indeed if they are publicly owned they have something of a legal obligation to maximize shareholder value first before all other concerns. BP are just the ones who are getting caught at the present moment.

    You're mixing up pressure and force, which makes your argument questionable. Pressure is an intensive physical property, independent of the "extent" of the system. It has the dimensions of force/area, so if you multiply it by area, you now are in units of force, not pressure.

    Further: water can indeed be solid well above its normal melting point if it is combined with methane in a solid crystalline clathrate structure. It's not surprising that a water:methane hydrate would block up the initial Top Hat try. Contrary to your suggestion that a hydrate plug would be blasted out of the riser, the differential pressure that would exist immediately below and immediately above such a plug would be very small and so it would not act like a cannon.

    As to "frozen methane". Under the high pressures involved through most of the pressure column, the methane is likely in the supercritical state, which is a highly compressed fluid, not strictly solid, liquid, or gas. When the pressure on the methane gets below the critical pressure, somewhere up the riser stem, then it becomes a gas. Read all about it here:


    Does a supercritical 'gas' occupy a volume that is different than the PV relation of gas would calc? Maybe I'm asking is it a different phase, or is it still gas that is now behaving more like a liquid?

    When a fluid becomes "supercritical", there is no distinction between liquid and gas. Calculating the properties of supercritical fluids is a very nasty business: the one thing you can say for sure is that the ideal gas law is *not* going to work.

    I was hoping we would get an update from roger_rethinker on this subject. Before the riser was cut there was leakage at the kink (never captured) and from the end of the riser after its ~mile long journey from the wellhead. Now its all coming right out of the well and BP has the capture/composition data from both the RIT effort and the latest 'tophat' affair. It would be interesting to know what they found.

    Somewhere there must be a P/T/Density diagram for methane, I would expect that sort of thing to be pinned to the bulletin boards in a lot of petro engineering labs

    As the wiki reference I gave points out, a supercritical state is "none of the above"; it's a different state of matter that is sort of a hybrid of a gas and a liquid. It certainly does not follow the PV relationship of an ideal gas (if that's what you're asking), since it is a condensed phase in which the molecules are close together and interacting by van der Waals forces.
    Supercritical CO2 is probably the best known such substance. It's a great solvent for many substances and is used industrially for this purpose. I don't know enough about the "methane-crude oil" system deep in the well to hazard a guess about whether they form a single more-or-less homogeneous mixture or whether there are distinct regions.

    "You're mixing up pressure and force, which makes your argument questionable. Pressure is an intensive physical property, independent of the "extent" of the system. It has the dimensions of force/area, so if you multiply it by area, you now are in units of force, not pressure. "

    Pressure and force are inter-related. Force is a vector quantity, which can be broken down into sub-vectors, all of which combine to result in a "net" force vector in a given overall direction.

    Think of hydraulics.

    The "pressure" of the hydraulic working fluid is constant throughout the system.

    The "force" applied against a given resistance, is simply the pressure per unit area (constant) times the total cross sectional area of the piston plunger acting against the load.

    This principle allows a very small piston to increase the "pressure" of the working fluid to result in a very large "force" being present at the larger working cylinder active against the load, thereby "multiplying" force.

    You can not have force without some kind of pressure, and all pressure exerts some kind of force.

    Tony Hayward continues to state he won't quit, but it looks as though BP is on the verge of total internal collapse:

    BP heads call for Svanberg resignation

    Published: 6 Jun 10 10:31 CET

    Dictionary tool Double click on a word to get a translation

    Several senior managers at oil firm BP have argued that Carl-Henric Svanberg, the firm's Swedish chairperson, has mismanaged the ongoing oil spill in the Mexican Gulf and should resign, according to the UK Independent on Sunday.

    "The oil spill is a disaster both for BP and the wider world. But it has been exacerbated by the collapse within BP, its public relations and communication with the outside world that has been terrible, really terrible," a BP source told the newspaper.

    "Svanberg should have been there, along with chief executive Tony Hayward, and shown the world that BP is doing everything in its power to clean up this mess, offering to pay the necessary compensation and be BP's public face. He has failed them."

    The former Ericsson president has also come under fire for keeping a low profile, making only one appearance since the oil spill began a month ago.

    "He should have been on the Louisiana coast together with President Obama, shown that BP takes its full responsibility for the leak. But he doesn't appear anywhere. It is a fiasco for us," the high-ranking BP employee said.

    The source argues that BP's future is in the national British interest and Svanberg has a responsibility to explain the situation.

    "He should move around, talk to U.S. senators, British ministers, the media, and explain the situation to them. BP's future is of British interest."

    Pressure on BP's CEO Tony Hayward has begun to mount in the wake of the spill and the subsequent management of the environmental disaster. The firm announced on Saturday that the responsibility for cleaning up the spill has been handed to an American, Bob Dudley, in an attempt to offset some of the anti-British sentiment.

    But according to the Independent source within the firm it is not Hayward that is the main focus of the anger over the ongoing catastrophe that several analysts argue could threaten the company itself.

    "It is not Hayward, but Svanberg, who should go," the senior source


    I would like to add the following excerpts from a recent press release. I believe this clarifies a few points you raised:

    June 4, 2010


    BP's Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward told shareholders today that the company's response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is their top priority, along with rebuilding trust and confidence in BP and ensuring that such an accident never happens again. Both Svanberg and Hayward expressed their deep regret and sorrow for the tragedy.

    Svanberg underscored the company's commitment to mitigating damage from the oil spill . " The Board of BP has been clear from the outset that all resources available to the company should be applied to meeting BP's responsibilities in addressing these events," he said. "The task is by no means complete and we have a long way to go. This is a tough job and Tony and the team continue to work relentlessly. They have all our support.


    In commenting on the significant financial costs of the incident, the company pointed out that:

    · BP has already spent over $1 billion in gross direct costs for the response, clean up and relief wells.
    · Spending at this rate is expected to continue for some time beyond successful completion of work to stop the flow of oil from the damaged well. Any fines and penalties would present additional costs.
    · The costs of containment, removal and clean up are likely to be largely complete in 2010.
    · The longer-term costs of environmental remediation, claims and litigation are not predictable at this stage, but they will be sizeable and are likely to be spread over many years.

    Hayward assured shareholders that the company was prepared to meet those costs. "We will also meet our obligations to our employees, and to our other stakeholders, including hundreds of thousands of shareholders, and millions more savers in mutual and pension funds, who rely on their investment in BP as part of their financial security and in many cases their retirement income. The financial consequences of this incident will undoubtedly be severe, but BP is a strong company and we have weathered many storms before."


    Hayward announced that BP will create a separate stand-alone organisation to manage the long-term response once the spill is over. Managing Director Bob Dudley will lead this new organisation reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive.

    "This step will ensure that we maintain focus on both the massive response effort and our duties towards our ongoing businesses," said Hayward. "I remain personally committed to making this right."

    Ready, aim...

    DBNS: Just to be a wiseass: Hasn't it been: Ready. Fire. Aim.
    What the Spill Will Kill

    It was in mid-May that independent scientists—not any of the officials or researchers working for any of the government agencies on scene at the Deepwater Horizon disaster, let alone BP—first detected the vast underwater plumes of crude oil spreading like Medusa’s locks from the out-of-control gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. BP immediately dismissed the reports, and in late May CEO Tony Hayward flatly declared “there aren’t any plumes,” stopping just short of accusing the scientists of misconduct. Federal officials called the scientists’ claim “misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate.” Moreover, continued a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, any oxygen depletion in the surrounding waters due to plumes is not “a source of concern at this time,” and critics blaming dispersants for the plumes had “no information” to stand on. NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, a respected oceanographer when President Obama tapped her to lead the agency, insists there are no plumes, only “anomalies”—though last week she acknowledged the possibility of oil beneath the surface.

    Now it is increasingly clear that the initial reports of undersea oil were right, that life-giving oxygen in the water column is indeed being depleted, and that unless the laws of chemistry have been repealed, dispersants are likely worsening the tentacles of undersea crude. What might have been just another oil spill—albeit a bad one—has been transformed into something unprecedented. Even if the containment dome lowered into place late last week continues to siphon off some of the leaking crude, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will enter the record books not for how much but for where: an enormous release of crude oil not only onto vulnerable shorelines and fragile marshes but into the largely unexplored depths of the sea. The consequences for the delicate balance of existence in the vulnerable ecosystems of the gulf, and for the vast cycles of nature that sustain life there and beyond, are as incalculable as they are potentially devastating.

    Dr. Lubchenco unfortunately appears to be relying more on assertion than science in her out-of-hand dismissal of the plumes and their potential dangers. This is telling, and it could be extremely embarrassing if the outcome foreseen in the Newsweek article turns out to be close to the truth.

    I have yet to see any real evidence from direct studies on the toxicity of the oil:dispersant mixture, compared, for example, to each component separately. What is the physical nature of that dispersed oil down there? I assume we'll find out more as some careful observations are (finally being) done. Here's my guess: it's not "dissolved" oil, in the sense of a molecularly dispersed water:oil solution. Oil is simply too insoluble in water. It is unlikely to be very fine droplets in suspension, or one should see turbidity or opalescence in the samples: what's been reported is that the samples are "clear." So that leaves detergent:oil micelles as the likely culprit, where the detergent is of course the (proprietary) sulfonate hydrocarbon in the Corexit. The micelles are a small glob of oil packaged in a coat of anionic sulfonate detergent, which keeps the oil phase suspended (as opposed to rising to the surface) and protected. For more on micelles, see here:

    The question that I have is whether in this packaged form the toxicity of the oil (and the detergent) is enhanced for the organisms that are exposed to it, and this includes the very bacteria we're asking to clean up this mess for us. Wouldn't it have been nice to have known about this before dumping a million gallons of one toxin in with another? I suppose we'll find out. I hope Dr. L. would make an effort to find out too, asap, so that she can assume her proper role in defense of the public interest as opposed to being BP's echo.

    Reporters have been mischaracterizing Dr. L's statement. She's just being a careful scientist not stating a conclusion until the evidence rock solid and is confirmed from multiple sources.

    It is essential she do this- if she errs she'll get the Phil Jones treatment and undermine science itself.

    Their instruments show anomalies that suggest the presence of oil. For now she's being strictly accurate and calling them anomolies rather than Horrible Frightening Plumes of Oil That Are Coming For US despite how this frustrates the press.

    Quite possibly her words were distorted by reporters. I was more troubled by what appeared to be indifference on her part, and that of other Fed agencies, in uncovering the key information. IIRC, initial reports from the Pelican and more recent data from Dr. Joye et al. predated some of Dr. L.'s statements. In view of the possible dire consequences of these unexpected plumes, I would have thought (and hoped) that her agency would have put a few research vessels on this problem pronto. Instead, the attitude seemed to be one of down-playing and/or looking the other way. That's the perception, anyway.

    They've got a bunch on it. I read the other day that they had diverted assetts from around the world and alresdy had something like seven vessels on the case.

    Thanks. Glad to hear that. As I said before, I wish we had all the information they (and Dr. Joye, bless her heart) are going discover a year or so ago...

    Scientists are encouraged to discount and downplay initial reports: I don't fault Lubchenko for that. But further data collected by new cruises beyond the first Pelican mission have confirmed the clear signature of oil in extensive subsurface layers. Some of what you're saying about microdroplets and micelles also appears to be confirmed.

    Some really good data from an ongoing cruise can be found at

    Speaking of Pressure ...

    Pressure is starting to grow on the Administration to seize/freeze BP's assets. Last week former Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggested that the government place BP (presumably BP's USA assets/organization) into receivership:

    It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way the public know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.

    If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

    The continued gusher has brought people into the streets:

    Across the US, cries of "seize BP" are growing louder, putting pressure on President Barack Obama to slam his fist harder into Britain's crisis-stricken oil multinational.

    As gloops of oil begin to wash up on thousands of miles of beaches from Texas to the Florida Keys, and 88,000 miles of water have been declared a no-go zone for fishermen, nobody in the US seems in doubt that BP is to blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And many are calling for dramatic action.

    The Answer Coalition, a campaign group that grew out of opposition to the Iraq war, has organised a week of demonstrations in 29 US cities demanding a seizure of BP's assets.

    We know which side the President is on when his actions mimic the rhetoric of Raymond James Co:

    Pavel Molchanov, an analyst for the US stockbroker Raymond James, sees calls for action against BP as echoes of the rhetoric against "big oil" when the price of crude sent petrol prices rocketing in 2008: "People recognise the name BP but not Transocean, Halliburton, Anadarko. When the policymakers are looking for a scapegoat, BP is the most convenient one. Is it fair? No, it's not. But it's reality."

    Molchanov views the idea of seizure of BP's assets as highly far-fetched: "We're not in Venezuela and we're not in Zimbabwe."

    The US department of justice, which generally refuses to confirm investigations until charges are laid, took the unusual step last week of announcing a criminal inquiry into the oil spill. And the start of the hurricane season this month threw yet another risk into the maelstrom around BP.

    It's a good thing for BP and Tony Hayward that Obama is President and not me. I would have frozen BP's assets weeks ago and Hayward would be answering tough questions from the Justice Department tough guys. There would be a special prosecutor named, a Grand Jury empaneled and thousands of the unemployed would be in the Gulf cleaning up BP's mess - with BP paying for it, guaranteed!

    Bills would be on the floor of Congress demanding a $5 per gallon gas tax to 'encourage' conservation along with one to nationalize BP and the other 'too big to fail' oil companies. A recalcitrant Congress, you say?

    Nobody leaves the building until the bills are passed the way I want them, if that takes a week, so be it. I can stay up, so can Congress. This is a national emergency!

    I would have named OPEC a criminal organization like the Corsican Mafia the day I was sworn in.

    As for more pressure there should be some Blackhawk helicopters flying around the spill site just to let everyone know that 'Big Brother' is watching.

    People would hate me and I wouldn't care. Prob with Obama, he wants to be admired.

    Wonderful program. One small detail you forgot to cover - who would be working to contain and eventually cap the well? Would that be the nationalized assets of ex-BP?:) Would you make their engineers and specialists work by pointing a gun at them or their family members (because no one in their right mind would stay a day at a place like that voluntarily).

    It's amazing how reactive and hysterical the american public has become. This probably goes hand in hand with poor education coupled with narrow-minded view of the world.

    Thank you!

    Expropriate BP? As in what communist states and banana republics do? If the US goes this far then the only friends they will have left in the world will be Chavez, Putin and the mullahs in Iran. Oh, and Exxon, Chevron, Marathon et al better make sure they never make a mistake overseas again, because the precedent will have been set and seizure of their assets could not be argued against.

    Be very careful what you wish for here.

    Temporary receivership isn't expropriation.

    A receiver takes over management for awhile then gives it back.

    In this case I imagine it would be to ensure that sufficient effort was being put toward cleanup, to ensure that those hurt were compensated promptly and fully and to bring about a culture less prone to failure.

    The idea has merit.

    There is no suggestion that BP won't pay its dues. Is there a cash flow problem, what exactly is BP not doing that it should be doing? Would Exxon, for example, have handled the crisis differently, given that they have access to the same rigs with the same specs and equipment? What is being called for by the baying mob is expropriation, no matter which newspeak term you choose use; the intent is to rob BP permanently of its US assets.

    As I said, if Obama's blamestorming leads to expropriation in any way shape or form, US oil companies operating overseas should prepare for the same fate, and believe me they operate their drilling ops in more less the same way as BP does; rent same rigs, use same equipment, same service companies, practicly the same operational procedure.

    Obama has handled this so badly that I half expect him to nuke the well, expropriate BP, then bring in James Cameron and his Hollywood special effects team to deal with the leaking radioactive crude.

    one thing i am confused about here, and i dont mean to be snarky...

    but what is Obama supposed to be doing differently? from all that i have read on TOD, BP is doing everything available to them at this point. it has also been pointed out that most of the big oil companies use the same types of equipment and same service companies, so there are not a lot of other technologies out there.

    i just think that there are two conflicting lines going here. 1) that the engineers are doing everything humanly possible to fix this and 2) that Obama should be doing more (which begs the question, WHAT should he be doing?)

    Obama should accept that an accident has happened, that they do happen, and that the private company responsible should fix the problem. His responsibility is to ensure that BP meets its obligations.

    If BP prove to be incompetent in meeting their responsibility, BP should be removed from the operation. Logically, another oil company should be called in to replace them, not James Cameron or Academics with no practical experience; I struggle to imagine of how another oil company would do it better.

    That said, I think calling in criminal investigators before the technical enquiry is complete, and at the same time stating that he intends to "bring those responsible to justice", has led to an upping of the ante in the hysteria stakes. Very bad and unprofessional handling in my opinion. It doesn't help those trying to get their heads round the problem if they know that they better not, or have, make a mistake, cos the AG is in the house.

    It is clear that no matter how good/badly BP and Transocean handled the drilling operation (possible professional negligence), there are major engineering issues to be resolved for future DW drilling equipment and systems. All offshore operators use the exact same spec rigs and equipment. There is no such thing as a cheap BOP, or cheap service company or cheap whatever offshore.

    The popular consensus seems to be that Obama hasn't been tough enough on BP and should have at least taken over the cleanup already.

    So I find your assertions about the political impact doubtful. I think just about anything that punished BP would be popular. Hopefully it won't be purely punative but will meaningfully furthers the cleanup, hastens help to those hurt and reduces the likelihood of future such events.

    So far Obama's actions seem on-target to me (splitting up the MMS, the new drilling regs).

    CG has oversight and tells BP what to get/do. Most of the calls coming for action come out of frustration and are based on emotions rather than on doing anything that will improve cleanup or stop the flow. People somehow think the government can solve everything and in times like this they ignore government limitations and failures. Americans like instant gratification and love to lay the blame on somebody--the bigger the company, the better the target.

    Anybody notice how Thad Allen is point man but we have not seem much of Salazar and less now of the EPA and Energy secretary. Haywood may be ineffective;they may be more so.

    Yes, the Amoco Cadiz ran aground off Brittany many decades ago. Amoco then was a US company.

    Thank you , too!

    Not disagreeing with any of the above, but your career as a US politician would be cut very, very short with the above actions. Once you start biting the hands that feed you, you would not last long.

    And you probably would be chanting Hugo, Hugo ,Hugo... That's it, take over the companies that actually make money. That would be a switch. I knew that global warming would finally turn us into a banana republic.

    Are you gonna run as write in candidate?

    This lawyer (me) likes this idea a lot. While they are at it, I suggest putting Transocean and Halliburton into receivership as well.

    With all three, we have a much better chance of finding out what happened and punishing the guilty.

    Again if they are dead set on this no seal siphon why not repeat the process and place a cap over this cap? fed with different methanol lines and a different riser to a similar floating lmrp
    they could fab this easy in two pieces and snap it around existing top hat.

    This is a question from someone not totally informed on the chain of events and the procedures being used to shut in the well, has Oceaneering or any other service company with the tools tried to operate any of the BOP functions with a hot line? I find it hard to believe that the whole BOP assembly is disfunctional. The public is way past tired of the same train wreck everyday. BP may not survive in the USA as a oil operater given their handling of information.

    I don't have a reference handy, but of the two control units for the BOP stack, I believe that one of the units was replaced. The operations of the BOP stack after that replacement of the control pod is unclear to me. I do believe this gave the engineers a better handle on the pressures going on inside the BOP stack.

    My understanding is that the rework of the control unit was required to gain control of/alter the functions of valves within the stack to enable the junk shot/top kill operation. There were repeated attempts to activate the shears with ROVs following the accident - until it was discovered that the control functions had been altered by Cameron and the schematics BP had were not the correct/current ones. They may have tried the operations again after they had the correct schematics. I didn't hear of any such operations following the repair of the control module. I was under the impression they did get pressure data at various times at places unspecified.

    Thanks for the description of the STATIC pressures at different levels.

    What are the possible DYNAMIC pressures that could be created within the pipework when a BOP closes on an enormous upward gas and oil flow?

    It will have produce sufficient downward force to decelerate a column of oil umpteen thousand feet long and bring it to a standstill.

    Could such a pressure surge burst the pipe or at least crack some of the joints below the BOP?

    Rockman, Euan, and the others providing the tech information, this has been one of the most informative and clearly presented explanations of pressure and flow characteristics I've seen to date.
    Rock--you have the patience of Job and beyond.. Many thanks!!

    Afraid I can't help you BobE. Need an engineer to explain the dynamic pressure behavior - hopefully one may call by.

    Thanks Euan.

    I think I've managed to do the sums and the surge pressure is only of the order of 500 psi if the BOP cuts off a 50,000 barrel per day flow in 1 second.

    So it's small compared to the reservoir pressures, it's not a good reason for a fractured pipe below the BOP and Matt Simmons may be wrong.

    I can stop worrying and go to the pub now.


    From yesterday discussion that seems almost done, except for this point:
    new] nwaelder on June 6, 2010 - 1:42am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
    Your missile/shuttle analogy is both ahistorical and logically flawed. The great missile shots you now deliver are the result of decades of repeated trial and error i.e. frequent consistent failures. After all the painful learning it may have rightfully become 'engineering'.

    Must be nice to work in the 'cookbook' missile industry. Others are struggling with 'new' challenges.

    That's the whole problem, though, isn't it?

    Oil industry's deep water "trail and error" period also should have been in the past. We have been lead to believe that the "hard" problems have been "solved" and there are risk mitigating systems in place that allow for quick and efficient closure/repair of underwater problems. You told us that it was "cookbook" now.

    As it turns out, the current, supposedly well established deep water drilling operations is anything but "cookbook" when things go wrong. One of the world's largest oil companies can't stop a large leak from a well defined location on the sea floor, using all the technology available today. What's more, their "solutions" appear to be quickly welded up lab experiments, that have absolutely no track record and have never been used or even tested before.

    The oil industry has been exposed as completely unprepared for dealing with their own mess.

    What you are proudly proclaiming as "new" challenges should have been simply "scenario 5c" that has a proven mitigation procedure, qualified and live tested several times.

    Turns out the oil industry is saying "wow, man, never though this could happen, lets think of what we can do NOW". Which is appalling.

    "You told us that it was "cookbook" now." - In fact, I have suggested no such thing. The lack of preparedness and utter disregard of the huge consequences of failure is yet another episode in humankind's reach exceeding grasp. In consideration of your well intentioned and, at least to me, serious technical considerations, how about saving the hand-wringing over this grand failure for serious policy change to come.

    Over the last couple of days, discussion centered around the assumption that the flow force up the riser was driven solely by buoyancy. This system seemed wholly inadequate to you and me. In fact, I couldn't imagine that much better engineers than most (except maybe rocket scientists), could expect it to work. Now, add an active element to the system, say a jet pump as mentioned in the article yesterday. Place it at the location of LMRP which is a short distance above the collection hood. This should work very well and probably could be adjusted to collect close to all the oil, the limitation now being the instantaneous variability of the gas/liquid coming out of the well, and the turbulent flow due to the poor shape of the collection hood.

    Your original proposal for rigid pressure connection to the wellhead has been reasonably criticized in a number of respects, the most important IMO being, that as the flow is reduced toward static, the pressure at the wellhead exit approaches full reservoir pressure. Not good.

    You can add the pump, but you still have to leak, if you don't want to gulp water. It is the nature of their "system".

    You either misread or misunderstood my "proposal". I simply advocate using production methods on this well. Large diameter sealed pipe that presents less back pressure to the BOP that is currently experiencing in water ambient, a large, low pressure loss diverter slightly upstream to stop taking oil topside for any reason and a full production capacity topside to take all the oil the well is flowing.

    A clever fellow here recently suggested hooking the whole flow to the nearest refinery pipe, that would be able to accept everything this well is making. Removes the topside danger, it would seem.

    "You can add the pump, but you still have to leak, if you don't want to gulp water. It is the nature of their 'system'". - Yes, seems sad that they didn't design to reduce turbulence, otherwise the leak might be tuned to be smaller.

    "..misunderstood my "proposal." - I only read your Chu letter this morning. Unfortunately, other risks need to be accounted for. See my last paragraph.

    "..Large diameter sealed pipe that presents less back pressure.." - It took a week to modify an existing structure that became the first tried "containment dome." How long would it take to engineer, fab, transport, and install a mile of this sealed pipe? It's not feasible. And what happens when for some reason the flow through this low pressure pipe must be stopped? (Remember, it can't for other important reasons.) Let it spill at the ocean surface? Hightail it out of there and watch another rig burn uncontrollably?

    What are you talking about?

    All I am saying is STANDARD RISER connection. Just like the one they cut. Pop the H-4 head with the hydraulics. Or cut the flange bolts. Put on a new riser. Take it to the surface or (if the poster had a good point) to a nearby refinery pipe.

    Again, I posted a thousand times, there are ways to mitigate topside risk. The riser should have a large diameter, low pressure loss diverter at some chosen depth, so the topside crew can hit a switch and have the entire flow go into the ocean again.

    The only thing different about this approach from a standard well production method is that you can't control the flow rate - except dumping it into the ocean. And the full flow is a lot - probably 25 kbd or more. They can split this among a couple of rigs.

    If the well is flowing steady state, one could do it. If there is a lot of fluctuation it is dangerous.

    I'm going to take the non answer here as a confirmation that BP has not reported what percentage of their intake is oil and what is water.

    BP is pretending that the oil water mix they are drawing in, is all oil in order to inflate the figure, and everyone is accepting it.

    C'mon people. They know how much gas they are getting, seriously, they don't know how much is water?

    They also know the total flow rate, and they aren't sayin' either.

    Earlier commentors who know far more than I suggested that for a fresh well like this there is likely to be little if any water in the hydrocarbon stream, and clearly the riser cap is not drawing in any significant water (considering the billowing cloud of oil escaping from the junction). That would make it likely that nearly all of the liquid fraction captured is petroleum, not water. That gooey emulsion that floats on the surface is formed by mixing of the hydrocarbon froth with water as it has extensive contact with seawater, which should not be true of what is coming up the pipe from the containment hat. The flow from the pipe has not risen through a mile of water and then floated around on the surface being churned by wind and waves.

    But, that's just guesses and inference, not actual information.

    This oil resists emulsion with water from what I see. This is going to take a long time to break down due to its heavy make up.

    BP has reported it as oil. I do not think they are reporting an oil/water mix. I also don't think very much water is coming up the riser at all. Obviously the ejection of the oil and dissolved gas mix indicates little to no seawater is coming up the riser, therefore any water produced must be coming from the reservoir. I have no specific knowledge of this well's water cut, but I would expect a new well at this depth to have very little water.

    The short answer to your question is yes, I think the 10,500 BBLs reported is oil. Furthermore, I doubt they are producing much if any water. They are producing a hell of a lot of gas, however. That may be the biggest limiter.

    With that seal, it's inconceivable that's it all oil. Impossible.

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    It may be possible, if the actual flow is north of 20 kbd. And it may very well be, given the very noticeable increase in the flow after the riser has been sheared.

    I also note that BP is not showing the upper portion of the plume, for at least two days now.

    But if there was water coming in through the poor seal you cite it would hydrate up. Best to look at it as % of flow.

    You do understand that fluid flows from higher pressure to lower pressure? It may be inconceivable that ANY water is getting in, but it is certainly not inconceivable that no water is getting in.

    BP at their most deceptive cannot abrogate the laws of physics.

    Water is not a pollutant. No need to count it.

    Cam back on......50%? Shameless liars. Federalize BPs assets. Enough is enough. The flow escaping the cap is greater than it was 24 hours ago.

    As many earlier poster, I also originally had concluded the outflow from the cap was increasing. However, with just a couple of views this in fact may not be the case. Over the last 16 hours ambient current may have increased in magnitude and or direction by a minor amount. The observed plume is not that different from plumes coming from a common chimney. With that in mine, slight deviations in the ambient flow around a chimney or in this the case the cap would similarly cause distortions in the plume which could be seen as change in plume outflow.

    That makes little sense. Reporting water as oil would just increase their fine.

    I don't think so, since they captured it.

    OTOH, dispersing it does decrease their fine.


    I'd be very confident that the figure quoted is all oil.

    They will be using surface separation equipment (in effect a sequence of one or more large vessels) which provide enough residence time at the prevailing flow rate to allow the produced fluids to equilibrate at the separator temperature and pressure. The flow rates of each phase will be known with reasonable precision. It is customary to quote oil, water and gas rates individually, or combine oil and water into a liquid rate which is quoted along with a water cut percentage from which you can determine the oil cut.

    I'd also be reasonably confident that there is not a substantial amount of water in the flow :

    - For a crestally drilled well high on the reservoir (which exploration wells generally are) and properly completed (ie with a properly designed interface between reservoir and wellbore) it would be very unusual to be producing formation water at this early stage in field life, even at high production rates.

    - The well is however not properly completed - it is blowing in an uncontrolled way through the poor production cement job, and this does increase the risk of producing water from deeper in the wellbore behind the casing. In this particular well there is not that much rat hole below the main pay sand which is only 53 ft thick, so there may not be much water bearing permeable formation below the reservoir and my guess is the reservoir itself is all oil with no water encountered (otherwise they would be struggling to make the find commercial).

    - The wellbore is likely to be operating at a pressure which would exclude influx from any other penetrated water bearing interval shallower in the well

    - The net positive pressure in the top hat will act to exclude water influx around the seal

    - Large water cuts would act to restrict the flow up the drill pipe by increasing the effective density of the column. I'll try to do some calcs later to see what the critical percentage might be, but I suspect you'd be hindered by anything over 50% despite the relatively high GOR.

    I am as curious as anyone, but it serves no purpose in furthering the remediation of the engineering problems for BP to publish the detalis of any data they have collected with respect to pressures, GOR, and flow rates. Sure, it may be a stimulating mind game for us to kick these numbers around, but the engineers working the problem have the data and that is all that matters. Of course, Enquiring Minds Want To Know!

    No amount of propaganda can refute those images.....

    Tunaholic: I understand why you think this. Sometimes the speculation can be silly and overwhelming. But following your line of reasoning leads to that tried and tested political spin: "If you only knew what I knew, you wouldn't say that." And, on more than one occasion, where has that gotten us?

    "Serves no purpose..."

    Serves no purpose for who? BP?

    As for the rest of us, inquiring minds do want to know and I can think of many things that would serve my purposes. Like sending many of them off to jail as a deterrent for future spills.

    I have a question for all you engineers pertaining to the rubber grommet. What if you had hydraulic rams that pushed on rubber grommet causing the inside diameter of grommet to become smaller? Could this work to get a better fit around the cut marine riser pipe? Hydraulic rams on top of grommet pushing vertically on grommet, grommet is seated in tophat with large backing plate ring on the bottom of it. Hydraulic rams would be positioned at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o'clock in tophat. Slip the tophat on top of the BOP, engage the rams, squeeze the grommet around the pipe. Engineers?

    They don't want to seal to the BOP.

    Too dangerous for topside crew.

    They need the bottom seal to leak (and it is leaking a lot), in order to operate at a positive pressure differential inside the cap.

    If they take in seawater (if they try to take most or all of the oil, and thereby have a zero or even a negative pressure differential inside the cap), they will likely lose the flow due to methane ice formation inside the small riser pipe.

    This simple welded contraption is the latest variation of the evolving scheme of oil evacuation from a leaking well, without sealing to it, as they do in production mode.

    Apparently, in decades of deep water drilling, the entire industry failed to design, engineer, qualify and test any system for this event.

    What we see in front of us is the first and only attempt to create such a system, made in real-time and scratch built from quickly available materials. It has obviously has not seen more than back of envelope analytic support. It does work (to an extent), but is very far from an actual engineered and tested solution to the oil recovery problem at hand.

    Well if its too dangerous for topside and fab up the largest offshore flare stack the worlds ever seen. Flare this bitch off. The negative positive pressure issue at the connection I think could be designed better. Squeeze that grommet until it stops leaking (negative pressure) back off of it until she leaks some more (positive pressure) and maintain some positive pressure at the connection. Find the threshold of the positive negative pressure. They to need have some control at the connection. For F*!k sakes its still leaking like a mofo.

    Dimitry , Agreed.

    Rather than a leaking seal, they should have a good seal, and then controllable vents around the base to be able to control the bottom flush flow.

    Apparently, in decades of deep water drilling, the entire industry failed to design, engineer, qualify and test any system for this event.

    Testing for something like this is rather difficult. It reminds me of when I was a grad student. We were working on an anti-catalytic coating for Space Shuttle heat shield tiles. The idea was to prevent recombination of atomic oxygen at the tile surface which is very probably a significant heating mechanism during re-entry.

    The problem was that the Shuttle hadn't flown yet and hypersonic 1200C wind tunnels weren't easy to come by.

    So we went subsonic flow for testing and figured out a way to use magnetic induction to heat the gasses. But I wonder to this day if that was realistic enough.

    Since this well is the first at it's depth to blow out one has to wonder the same thing - whether any testing would be useful.

    I sure hope that a giant metric buttload* is learned from this.

    * Not an SI unit despite the use of the word 'metric'.

    I'd say super computers could have run simulations of this many years ago and made significant contributions to the 'what do we try now' bucket but an action like that would show some responsibility.

    My first post ... there is good exchange here at TOD... better than I have seen anywhere else. Unfortunately there is a lot of conjecture but this seems to be the result in the large part on a lack of transparency on BP's part (if we don't have the facts to discuss, we'll d - well make them up!)... unless they are operating in the dark ... which could be very well true.
    I worked 15+yrs in offshore oil starting in the late 70's. A good joke then was Q - Ya'know the two things that f -d up the oilfield? A - engineers and o-rings. ... so it appears things haven't changed much. By my recollection most 'company' engineers with any authority were cost oriented, risk management (avoidance) guys. Innovation on the operational side was left to contractors. I think there are structural reasons (mainly liability) for this. The blame game. The highly skilled work for the majors where they hope to keep their butts well covered for a fruitful and uneventful 35 yr career.
    So everything in this heroic response so far looks to me like a delaying game, a some what pathetic dog and pony show ... letting the clock run out until the Relief (with a capital 'R') Well is completed.
    End of Rant ... Sorry ...

    I also read about that joke in a german book about machine elements in the chapter of gaskets :-).
    I`m also missing a lot of technical background information from BP. The rough things Kent Wells already explained but often it is questioned, mainly here "why so and not in such a way".
    By the way:
    Does anybody know if there are hints that the wellhead is now some kind of weak and they are afraid of compromising it by putting some additional valve on it ?

    I have questions about net flow.

    1. If a tube sucks flow out of the choke/kill area, (or as earlier from the broken riser) won't more just come up to replace what was taken? A dynamic when first opening the new outflow path, but at steady state, wouldn't there would be more flow out?

    2. Also, would the siphon process in the riser act to encourage more flow out of the reservoir or would net "resistance" in the risre make it less?

    Also, Cedar Sinai made a mistake giving too much heparin to some newborns, a terrible error. However they need to fix the process, not close the hospital. A "standard of care" was not met in that instance. CQI and all that.

    I certainly would not close the well off. Too much uncertainty about integrity of the BOP and casing system. However, you could accurately control the pressure with a surface choke. Pressure at the top of the BOP could be measured with a pressure sensor. Based on evidence from the top kill operation they should have an idea what the maximum allowable safe pressure is. I think what has been learned during this latest effort could be very useful coming up with a safe and reasonable procedure to stab another riser to the top of the BOP connector housing.

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten that there is a hydraulic connector connecting the old LMRP to the top of the BOP stack. I see no reason why it cannot be unlatched with the new refurbished yellow pod (but I could be wrong - BP do not give out many details). All this talk about unbolting the flex jt from the top of the LMRP is rubbish and I doubt an ROV could even do it.

    Again, I do strongly suspect BP are working on this one. They are buying time with top kills and top hats. These processes are unlikley to work but they also are not a waste of time. The experience and data from them are useful for any future attempts.

    What I am suggesting is not dissimilar to the top stab successfully used to kill many blowouts in the past. Only difference is that this is designed to capture the flow and not shut it in (due to integrity concerns). What is good here is 2 things -

    -A rig can work directly over the well (thanks to deepwater).
    -There is already a good machined surface with a latching profile to latch a hydraulic connector to (and one that is readily available off the shelf).

    I am not proposing unlatching the BOP - only the LMRP. The only thing in the LMRP is an annular, the flex jt, and the control pods - plus a hydraulic connector. The flow would be no different than what we saw after the riser cut. I seriosly doubt the annular was restricting the flow.

    "The only thing in the LMRP is an annular, the flex jt, and the control pods - plus a hydraulic connector."

    ...and drillpipe clamped to the riser stub bolted to the top of the LMRP and extending into the well, maybe a piece of casing extending down into the well and also clamped to the riser stub, both of which may be hung up in BOP shears...

    Maybe it would just unlatch and the attached junk could all be hauled out. Maybe it wouldn't unlatch because the junk is pinned in the BOP or down the well.

    Just guesses - I don't know what's down there other than what we have seen pictures of. The BP folks should have a reasonable idea though.

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head. I made a similar comment to the Horizon Response website but as usual it has fallen into a black hole of no response. I am currently asking for some crtical data at the Coast Guard solicittion site to put together a proposal to do the same. Critical information on hydraulic schematics are needed. I am assuming that for the DH's LMRP has to be removed since the Oil States flex joint may never take the pressure of a shutin. It is not listed on the Transocean site as even being on the Marine Riser. However, if one looks at some of the other transocean rigs, either Development Driller III or the Enterprise Drill ship has a flex joint rated for only 5000 psi. If one goes to Oil States site there product line only lists up to a 6,000 psi rated flexjoint at 18 3/4". Since the top of the Deepwater Horizon LMRP has an oil states flex joint swivel right bellow the flange where the cut was made for the top hat contaiment dome as is evident by the ROV pics.

    What I think may work is a simple solution. A Cameron HC connector with a length of 21" marine riser pipe equal to the height of the two Cameron DL annular BOPs and the Oil states flex coupling plus a few extra feet for the flange set and a 15K Subsea Shutoff valve with ROV override on the operator. Disconnect the HC coupling on the LMRP and pull it letting the drill pipe pull through the annular BOPs. Then just thread the new coupling riser and valve on it. If the well casing can take the pressure of a shut in then just shut it in. If not then a hub for a flowline jumper would need to be included above the shut off valve. The shutoff valve could be partially throttled with the ROV override to limit flow to the maximum topside equipment can handle and hopefully keep pressure buildup in the well down to below the limits the casing can handle with out further blowout. All I need are some dimensions to complete the proposal. Have contacts at McDermott who can get it fabricated.

    There is a lot of talk about having the best and the brightest working on this but the best and brightest I know are not and not being asked to help even if they volunteer.

    If any of those remaining best and bright with at least 5 deepwater projects under their belts, knowledgible in subsea hydraulics and controls, or SURF equipment design and manufacturing want to collaborate on a better overall soution to stp this leak once and for all please contact me at

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head. I made a similar comment to the Horizon Response website but as usual it has fallen into a black hole of no response. I am currently asking for some crtical data at the Coast Guard solicittion site to put together a proposal to do the same. Critical information on hydraulic schematics are needed. I am assuming that for the DH's LMRP has to be removed since the Oil States flex joint may never take the pressure of a shutin. It is not listed on the Transocean site as even being on the Marine Riser. However, if one looks at some of the other transocean rigs, either Development Driller III or the Enterprise Drill ship has a flex joint rated for only 5000 psi. If one goes to Oil States site there product line only lists up to a 6,000 psi rated flexjoint at 18 3/4". Since the top of the Deepwater Horizon LMRP has an oil states flex joint swivel right bellow the flange where the cut was made for the top hat contaiment dome as is evident by the ROV pics.

    What I think may work is a simple solution. A Cameron HC connector with a length of 21" marine riser pipe equal to the height of the two Cameron DL annular BOPs and the Oil states flex coupling plus a few extra feet for the flange set and a 15K Subsea Shutoff valve with ROV override on the operator. Disconnect the HC coupling on the LMRP and pull it letting the drill pipe pull through the annular BOPs. Then just thread the new coupling riser and valve on it. If the well casing can take the pressure of a shut in then just shut it in. If not then a hub for a flowline jumper would need to be included above the shut off valve. The shutoff valve could be partially throttled with the ROV override to limit flow to the maximum topside equipment can handle and hopefully keep pressure buildup in the well down to below the limits the casing can handle with out further blowout. All I need are some dimensions to complete the proposal. Have contacts at McDermott who can get it fabricated.

    There is a lot of talk about having the best and the brightest working on this but the best and brightest I know are not and not being asked to help even if they volunteer.

    If any of those remaining best and bright with at least 5 deepwater projects under their belts, knowledgeable in subsea hydraulics and controls, or SURF equipment design and manufacturing want to collaborate on a better overall soution to stp this leak once and for all please contact me at

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head. I made a similar comment to the Horizon Response website but as usual it has fallen into a black hole of no response. I am currently asking for some crtical data at the Coast Guard solicittion site to put together a proposal to do the same. Critical information on hydraulic schematics are needed. I am assuming that for the DH's LMRP has to be removed since the Oil States flex joint may never take the pressure of a shutin. It is not listed on the Transocean site as even being on the Marine Riser. However, if one looks at some of the other transocean rigs, either Development Driller III or the Enterprise Drill ship has a flex joint rated for only 5000 psi. If one goes to Oil States site there product line only lists up to a 6,000 psi rated flexjoint at 18 3/4". Since the top of the Deepwater Horizon LMRP has an oil states flex joint swivel right bellow the flange where the cut was made for the top hat contaiment dome as is evident by the ROV pics.

    What I think may work is a simple solution. A Cameron HC connector with a length of 21" marine riser pipe equal to the height of the two Cameron DL annular BOPs and the Oil states flex coupling plus a few extra feet for the flange set and a 15K Subsea Shutoff valve with ROV override on the operator. Disconnect the HC coupling on the LMRP and pull it letting the drill pipe pull through the annular BOPs. Then just thread the new coupling riser and valve on it. If the well casing can take the pressure of a shut in then just shut it in. If not then a hub for a flowline jumper would need to be included above the shut off valve. The shutoff valve could be partially throttled with the ROV override to limit flow to the maximum topside equipment can handle and hopefully keep pressure buildup in the well down to below the limits the casing can handle with out further blowout. All I need are some dimensions to complete the proposal. Have contacts at McDermott who can get it fabricated.

    There is a lot of talk about having the best and the brightest working on this but the best and brightest I know are not and not being asked to help even if they volunteer.

    If any of those remaining best and bright with at least 5 deepwater projects under their belts, knowledgeable in subsea hydraulics and controls, or SURF equipment design and manufacturing want to collaborate on a better overall soution to stp this leak once and for all please contact me at

    It's a pity that the BBC, in Andrew Marr's interview with Tony Hayward this morning, did not have the live feed of gushing oil in the background instead of the view of the London city-scape. He would not have sounded so convincing in his assertions.

    Please read this from one of the scientists who have found underwater plumes.

    This is what BP is calling "anecdotal evidence"!

    Tell me where in there it says what the oil concentration is in the "plume". The press and others represented the plume to be some giant black cloud that was keeping a high percentage of the oil under the water. Note the dimensions and what they state regarding the density from the source(probably dropping off by 1/r^2 or even faster). See if you can find the oil concentrations are near the source. Then do some math. The "plume" as many would describe it may contain a rather small amount of oil that disperses from very small concentrations to even smaller and ultimately surface or degrade. Note the way the scientists hedge what they say. They have to run a lot of tests and put together the data and then continue to test over time before anything is certain. CG and NOAA said they will release data once it is available.

    Tell me where in there it says what the oil concentration is in the "plume".

    It doesn't, but you can calculate it from their data.

    From their graph

    attenuation of a light beam is about 1 per meter, or .001 per millimeter.

    You can use a Mie theory calculator to figure out the abundance of oil droplets, if you know their properties.

    Droplet diameter: unknown, assume 1 micron
    Index of refraction of water = 1.33
    Index of refraction of oil = 1.448
    Imaginary index of refraction for oil: unknown. Assume it's zero (transparent droplets).
    Wavelength: 0.63 microns (yellow light)

    Droplet concentration required to match observed attenuation: 0.0000015 spheres per cubic micron, which is a volume fraction of 0.78 ppm.

    If you repeat the calculation assuming 10-micron spheres, you get an oil concentration of 4 ppm.

    If you use 1-micron spheres but assume "dark" oil with an imaginary index of -0.2, you get an oil concentration of 0.4 ppm.

    This tracks pretty well with the group's water filtration data.
    This image ( shows the oil remaining on a water filter after 10 liters of water was filtered through it. If the concentration was 0.4-4 ppm, then we'd be looking at 4-40 milligrams worth of oil in that filter, which looks about right.

    So, I conclude that the Walton Smith science team's data suggests part-per-million level concentrations of oil in their plume. This is only the oil in droplet form, and ignores any dissolved chemicals.

    I may have been staring at the spill-cam wall too long but I think I am getting occasional glimpses on Skandi ROV 1 of parts of the BOP through the oil plume that I haven't seen before. I don't think it is dispersant I am looking at, nor is it gas.

    Maybe the camera angle or underwater currents have changed..or maybe what I can see has been visible for a while and I haven't noticed.

    Skandi ROV1

    A coconut for anyone who can measure what is coming out from those image feeds.

    Clearly a lot, and way too much.......

    i am not sure how to word this, and i am reluctant to be optimistic, but i wonder...

    how can we really know the volume of what is coming out of the leak below the cap when the flow is so chaotic looking and turbulent? this is a mix of oil and gas shooting out into really cold salt water...i think that its likely that our eyes are deceptive on this one. our observations are all totally subjective, and are only 2-D. could the way that the mix billows out change when the flow and pressures where its coming from change? seems logical...

    to me, the flow looks a little thinner and slower. i can see parts of the cap through it that i couldn't before. that said, it still looks like a lot. i just keep imagining how this would look in 3D. hard to wrap my brain around.

    One view - Skandi ROV-1 is better and one seems a bit worse - Skandi ROV-2 indicating to me that they closed a vent or vents on one side and there is more coming out of another side and they are probably getting more oil and gas topside. If they can get that same view on all three sides I'd say they were capturing the bulk of the oil that we are aware of. Ent ROV-1 no change.

    They may yet get this to where their original estimate of 5k bpd escaping into the GoM is accurate.


    I'll ask another simplistic question if the riser conecter is functional and assuming it is why not put another set of double blind rams with choke and kill lines on a new connecter, land it lock it and shut in the well and resume the top kill over a standardized period of time? The bottom seems to have blown out where is the harm?

    The well cannot be shut it. The blowout is behind the casing that would burst due to the shut in pressure being greater than the burst rating of the casing. If it bursts the second string of casing the blowout would be directly below the BOP stack and no chance of capturing the flow.

    Anyone watching Viking Poseidon ROV 1 trying to unscrew something?

    yes, not having much luck. earlier were zoomed in on what looked like a crack in what must have been part of the riser package that was removed

    BP apologizes
    Oil Spill Humor

    BP apologizes
    Oil Spill Humor

    Great tutorial - thanks. Some wild commentary about BP. Few thoughts. Much better that it's a big, financially strong (largely American) oil company that is on the hook here. Think what a small (US or foreign) outfit would have done weeks ago when faced with this catastrophe - leaving US taxpayer to pick up bill - and presumably a media-led engineering taskforce aided by a Hollywood director would then have got stuck in and fixed it in within days. Top class US and international team working this (unsurprisingly they don't want a webcam over their shoulder second-guessing their every move and thought). Politicians need to cut the rhetoric and show some real leadership by focusing on what they can act upon - the overhaul of the regulation of the offshore industry and ensuring a robust compensation system. The lawyers and the clean up teams will deal with the rest. Great debate here on what the well is/has been flowing and leaking. No wonder BP information flow is cautious and hedged.