Deepwater Oil Spill - Incremental Progress at Best - Varying the Junk Mix and Cutting the Flow --also Live Comment Thread

New thread, please redirect to Moving on the LMRP process, topkill process has been abandoned. More as we learn it.


HO's post about varying the junk mix, and cutting the flow, and the video are below the fold. Please click, "there's more".

The video from the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) monitoring the Deepwater oil leak from the well in the Gulf of Mexico shows that the at around 10:45 am Central time, they may have started another junk shot injection, given that the flow from the riser has just increased, and various large particles have been coming past the camera. When they are injecting mud, the contrast on the picture gets somewhat worse, and so it is probably better if you check this out for yourself. The riser is continuing to flow mud.

Image between about 10:45 am and noon May 29, 2010

In the earlier post, I wrote about one way of tackling the leaks in the Blowout Preventer (BOP), using spheres and triangles of rubber. But as you can see from the flows from the leak at the top of the riser, when the cracks get quite small, the injected particles get swept past, and end up coming out of the end of the riser. So I am going to look at what the flow path size is, and another solution to blocking leaks.

So let us run some numbers to see if we can estimate what the largest width that the particle has to bridge will be. That would be if the hole in the BOP is circular, since in any other geometry one of the dimensions will be smaller and catch the particle.

Assuming that, if for the sake of the discussion we accept that the well is leaking at 17,000 barrels a day, this translates into around 500 gallons of fluid a minute (gpm). (Divide by 24 to get flow per hour, divide by 60 to get flow per minute, and multiply by 42 to convert to gallons.)

The next step uses an Excel table that I have generated over the years to calculate circuit flows. It has the orifice diameter on the left and across the top the pressure driving the flow. I have modified the table to show the diameter that would be required to allow 500 gpm to pass (roughly) and have highlighted where that flow is reached (roughly) for different combinations of flow and pressure. (i.e. the red numbers in the table, for a given driving pressure across the top, read to the left to get the hole diameter that will give this flow).

For those interested in generating their own the equation, I used for the value in space N13, for example, was


The values are very dependent on the discharge coefficient (L1) and this value can vary for flows through orifices from about 0.6 to 0.9. To get the largest diameter I made the value 0.6 (as the discharge coefficient increases the diameter of the hole needed to pass that flow reduces).

You can see that the largest dimension of the flow channel is just over 0.7 inches. (Which means that the BOP rams functioned over at least the majority of their stroke). The minimum is about half an inch, and if I change the discharge coefficient from 0.6 to 0.85 then the diameter range goes from 0.4 to 0.6 inches.

So from this we know that the maximum gap in the BOP is 0.7 inches in diameter. Now this is good news because it means that it is less than a third of the diameter of the feed line (which has an effective inner diameter of possibly 2.7 inches or so).

So we can continue, as they are, to send particles down through the riser to the BOP. But we also know that the flow path through the riser could be a long thin crack, rather than the round hole we used in the example above. So to address that problem a different particle shape and type is needed. Consider now what happens if we send some wire down the line with a thin rubber coating (so we don’t damage the fittings on the way down) and give it say a diameter of 0.4 inches. This is small enough to get through the pipes, but if the crack is narrower than this the wire, because of its shape, will be pulled across the crack, thus:

Wire fills a longer part of the crack if it is flexible enough to follow it.

Of course the cracks won’t run straight, and thicker wire is stiff, so after a while they will probably introduce wires of differing diameters. But this may be the next step in the process.

At the moment (noon) it looks as though they are still pumping mud, so they may be trying to use a slightly heavier mud in order to get balance, though again they are constrained on how heavy they can make this before they start losing it into the formations.

Possibly not working...altho another 'anonymous source'...

BP says top kill has not stopped Gulf oil leak and now considering other options
By The Times-Picayune
May 29, 2010, 1:48PM
A BP executive says the company has yet to stop the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and is considering other ways to plug the leak.
The Associated Press
In this Wednesday, May 26, 2010, photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, the mobile offshore drilling unit Q4000 holds position directly over the damaged Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer as crews work to plug the wellhead using a technique known as "top kill."
A source told The Times-Picayune that officials would announce the failure of the top kill option at a 4 p.m. Saturday briefing in Robert .

Prof. Goose asked me to repeat his comment:

A few things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. If you have come here to vet your plan to kill the well, understand that you will be queried on whether or not you have read the other 10 previous comment threads and all the myriad plans that have already been run by the kind folks in this room; if you have actually read all 10 comment threads and still think your plan has legs, well, then maybe yours really is the one that will save the Gulf of Mexico.

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

4. Also, if you're looking for live chat and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

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

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

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

it raises some very large questions that as a society people need to re-evaluate every now and then.

Certainly, but the problem is that it is not sufficient to re-evaluate these energy questions now and then, and then return to ignoring the issue. We needed to make that re-evaluation and significant changes decades ago - as we started to in the 70's - but now there is not time or remaining resources to fund such a transition. These are the kinds of discussions that TOD is really about. Once the public has forgotten about this event, then most of the company men and thrill seekers will move on - only a small percentage of those who have newly discovered TOD will stick around to try to understand what it all means.

I just spent 30 minutes deleting inane comments. The comments volume is already too high to cope with. If you don't have a good question or a really good point to make, preferably from a position of experience, then its best to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Deleting inane comments!? Where were you during the last couple of discussions - the waste of binary space and electrons - it was horrible! Please, please, plug the leak and clean up the mess soon BP so we can have our old TOD back.

The need to gain a plugging agent to INCREASE the pressure at wh (~2300 LOSS). I don't think frac is at all a problem. the mangled mass LMRP is a problem for anyone, including multipule release points in it.

I posted the following on May 2nd. My fear is that I was right. "As bright and knowledgeable as the posters to this site are, and I am impressed almost daily, I don't think any of us can really get a handle on how big a deal this gulf spill is and it's ramifications for the future. I fear this is the blackest of black swan events, and it will affect much more than the gulf and atlantic coasts. The result of man's hubris and misplaced attempt to control his environment. I will send off a prayer today. I'm not thinking that this will end well."

Contrary to what is said above me, prayers can't hurt.

What is going on in the gulf is a massive experiment, they have dumped over 800,000 gallons of "dish soap" to vaporize the thick oil into small flaky bits. The number of gallons has never been done before. The plumes are totally unknown territory. And the well is still pumping out oil, so it is not over yet, and the outcome is not known yet.

Though it seems harsh and ugly now, the landscape will recover with time, but the time period might be longer than most people are willing to wait. As this has no true forebarer we can only guess at how the natural systems will handle the influx of oil, and oily bits floating the ocean itself.

It is just one more experiment that humans have set in motion, with no clue to its outcome and no method of truly monitoring the process as it moved forward.

I would hope that people are taking a lot of notes and measures as to what is happening on a daily by mile by area basis.

One thing I hope that the general person gets a handle on, is that without our need for the oil in the first place they would not be out there. So we all are responsible for this, unless you live without using oil based products and services. Not many people do.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, with limited FF inputs.

Oh pooh. We have had far bigger oil spills that haven't turned into "black swan" events.

Which spill was bigger?

It is a black swan in the sense that the overall impact was unanticipated. The fact that there could be a spill was well known in advance.

To be serious for a moment and only a moment. From the Valdez experience animals lived for not more than six days after ingesting crude oil. Most biologists recommend euthanasia immediately. The clean up with solvents did more harm to the natural bacteria that ingests the crude. The problem is we can't just let it fix itself like a wounded tree. In the end we do more harm and that is hard for people to except. The real tragedy is, we will drill more and more offshore, we have to. The easy oil is gone and if you don't believe that, why are we mining crude oil in Canada? Why are we drilling a mile deep in the Gulf? Why are we fracturing shale with water supplies to pump oil for a year and then move to the next?
With oil priced at 147$ why wasn't more being delivered? Why are people talking of drilling even more dangerous locations like the Gulf salt domes that contain 3-4 billion barrels of oil? Just ask yourself are you willing to let people starve for like of oil for fertilizers, pesticides, diesel fuel ? We need cheap energy to feed 7 billion people no ifs ands or buts. When gasoline hits 4$ a gallon due to loss of deep offshore drilling people will beg to drill the most dangerous places possible you can bet on it with your life and the life of the planet. The gulf could be a giant pool of oil and we would ask for more. I think Alan would agree.

24 years?
Oil Guru Matthew Simmons: It Could Be 24 Years Before The Deepwater Gusher Ends

Read more:

Isn't it time that BP and government realize that there is a fair chance there won't be a cessation of flow soon? Giving the workers respirators seems like a no brainer. There is a good containment technique. It's called pneumatic oil containment. Google it or look here

Ity isn't going to be 24years? The nnext move should be a stacked BOP imho. I think we're looking at 2-4 weeks and this well will be stopped.

This guy is a complete idiot. The worst case would be the additional 30+ days for the relief well #1 to get to TD and ops completed to kill the blowout. Why anyone even gives this fool any creditably is beyond me. His book is a bunch of junk with no real engineering and petroleum geology support. Just because you run an investment group doesn't mean that you have any inside knowledge.

"24 years?
Oil Guru Matthew Simmons: It Could Be 24 Years Before The Deepwater Gusher Ends"

the initial interview includes simmons saying (somewhat hard to make out) 'this well could leak for 9,000 days' and, shortly after, '900-1,000' days.

just to clarify.

i am seeking comments on this theory, will take all comers:

first: simmons has now said 3 times (ratigan, bloomberg, puplava) that the riser we are seeing is attached to the rigfloor and not to the wellhead.

i posit: deepwater blows up, but it doesn't sink for 2 days. while it's on fire, it's slowly filling with oil. maybe the weight of the oil actually causes it to tip over/lose buoyancy? in any case, now it's on the bottom, full of oil, and leaking it back thru the riser we see on cnn.

subtheory: the reason simmons is so confident about his information is that he has satellite imagery to confirm. the 'primary' leak site is 5 miles west of the bop.

if a satellite can read a license plate, it can see the source of those enormous plumes which cannot be accounted for by the flow from the riser.

in any case, i don't even know if deepwater has any oil storage capacity, anyone have any numbers?

Kimyo - he's out of his gourd. He's made some interesting contributions to the discussion on Peak Oil in the past, but he's nuts here.

The last similar spill in the Gulf was in 1979, Ixtoc. Although only in 200' of water vs 5,000', it took them nine months to kill that well - I would expect in the 30 years since technology has advanced, and BP should be able (hopefully) to kill this well sooner (the Ixtoc kill took 5 relief wells, so it would be nice if BP were drilling more than 2 at present to be safe).

As far as I can tell, Matt is confusing a huge underwater oil "plume" with an actual source. These plumes underwater have been observed for some time and it shouldn't surprise us there is a large one within 6 miles of the actual leak (the out-of-control well they are working to control). As the various oil particles begin to rise they are being caught by underwater currents etc and actually held at various depths - these are the plumes mentioned. Matt isn't even right about the location of the actual sunk drill rig, which is not 6 miles from the well.

So, in a word, he's nuts, it won't take 24 years - that said all the things they are doing now seem unlikely to work, which means the one thing that is sure to work, the relief wells, will just have to take its time (another couple of months?), as horrific as that is - and certainly not what I am wishing for.

the one thing that is sure to work, the relief wells

if the casing is breached, kill wells are not at all a guaranteed success. lots of evidence for casing breach, including the distinctive chunks of bottom plug found in the mud 2 hours before deepwater exploded. the design flaw, bad cement, your confidence is misplaced.

Matt isn't even right about the location of the actual sunk drill rig, which is not 6 miles from the well.

please provide supporting links on this. i have seen no map from bp showing the physical location of the bop, rig, etc. at least nothing to scale, with orientation.

don't forget, pozzi, also an oil industry veteran, agrees that the casing has been breached. this is a very very serious issue which you are minimizing.

Forget serious. Its useless. Seems the initial publicity about BS's junk-shot being about golf-balls and the kitchen sink has woken up half the worlds nutters who now think that anything they can 'thought-up' in the basement sofas is worth a try and needs to be shouted out loud at every blog on the internet... "if only BP could see my brilliant idea ..." yeah

as proof of the phenomenon two minutes in to this new thread we already have two new ideas to add to your book:
- Metal Crystals
- Lead Pellets

Also the clamp idea needs to the 'refined' since there are two 'competing' 'clamping ideas': one that suggest we can squeeze the pipe shut - and another one that says we can cut of the end and through a brilliant system of flanges and what-not attach a new riser pipe to it...

- Glue
- Magnets
attached to junk-shot particles...
- and refrigeration (modification of the 'liquid-nitrogen' thing) - putting the whole BOP into a freezer to slow and clog the flow...

I also want to modify my own theory - I think the intro to these discussions with the technical-looking explanation about the particles in the junk-shot, and especially the picture of the 'wire-thing' - are giving people ideas that this is the perfect place to introduce their own brilliant plans...

Could we please replace the live-video feed or at least the junk-shot picture - with lets say Bartlet's lecture! or just a peak oil primer - anything you know - intelligent!?

The magnets would additionally increase the energy in the oil by 10% to 20%, an added benefit for people and the environment.

Those who pay attention already have magnets on their car's engine, but a lot of people don't because the truth is hard to come by those in charge don't want people to know.


It only works if you wear a tin foil helmet

My cause is show that there is another way.

A better way, with a better quality of life, better economy, much better environment and much less oil used.

Better to go another, better way than desperately pursue another very few years with the old way.

Best Hopes,


We cannot support 7B people without fossil fuels. We have peaked in oil productions rates, and coal and NG are not far behind. The questions now are what will the transition look like and what kind of environment will be left to support those who remain? We will not live long enough to find out these answers - we can only do our best to help those in the future that we will never meet. In other words, it's not about us, and it's not OK to use up everything trying to hang on.

You may be right. I really hope you're wrong.

But the reality (so far) is that we have not yet seriously begun to explore the non-fossil fuel alternative. The ONLY silver lining I see possible from this horrible mess is that it just may concentrate the American public's attention long enough that they demand a serious move towards a post-Peak Oil infrastructure build-out.

That's highly unlikely IMO, but anyway possible if we seize the opportunity and build the narrative for the MSM to take (they certainly aren't capable of starting it).

It appears that the flow of oil and gas is arrested while mud is being pumped into the BOP. The mud is heavier than water, but if water were pumped into the BOP at higher pressure from the rig on the surface, maybe the same pressure could be maintained in the BOP, enough to prevent the flow of oil. In that case, water could be pumped continuously, until a relief well stops the flow. Would that be feasible?

it appears that BP feels that the top kill was only incrementally successful meaning that the oil flow was not abaited sufficiently. i would think the oil and water would emulsify temporarily and come right back out. also would they be able to pump consistently at taht pressure for that length of time?

I would like to know from the petroleum experts here about the nature of the undersea reservoir at Macondo. Is it possible that the pre-drilling analysis was faulty and that the predicted pressure of the hydrocarbons was underestimated?

Or perhaps, was the ratio of gas to oil underestimated?

It seems that this well has fooled the experts.

All exporitory wells are drilled with assumptions until more than 1 well is evaluated. GOR could change as more wells are drilled(resovior study) gas may be on upper and water (high GWR) in the lower. This is used to help engineers to drain from surface muliple wells with prematurly daining its source of pressure. Lots more but you get the general idea.

xconoceaux... you seem to be well versed in these matters.

Question: To quickly (and easily?) build pressure against oil flow.

Substitution of barite mud (2.5 g/cc) with liquid metal mercury (13.5 g/cc)... anticipate any problems other than reservoir fracing?

duh ... mercury is highly toxic

Once in surface water, mercury enters a complex cycle in which one form can be converted to another. It can be brought to the sediments by particle settling and then later released by diffusion or resuspension. It can enter the food chain, or it can be released back to the atmosphere by volatilization.

Ya but other than that... no problems right?

Other than an armed insurrection by the fisherman of Louisiana I see no problem at all.

They were racing the cap, to get an early completion bonus -- in spite of the recommendation of the on site experts, they pulled the mud and replaced it with seawater, while not spending enough time to set the cement plugs.

Has nothing to do with the conditions on site (though they did have some challenges with the well itself, but all wells are different in their own challenging ways.)

In testimony in the MMS hearings Mark Hafle, who designed the casing and cement operation said that BP had good data for the upper portion of the well (from shallow wells nearby) but the deeper portion was unknown territory with expectations developed from deep wells farther away and estimated for the well location. It was an exploratory well that was converted for production part way through the project, and being exploratory was by definition more risky than if BP had previously drilled such wells in this formation.

There was some discussion on the particular geology encountered previously.

I got the sense from listening to the hearings that the people involved knew the hazards but were confident they could deal with them - actually felt they had at the point of the accident - but an outsider looking at the well history might well conclude that a minimum technological solution to the problems had been deployed and that the confidence was unjustified.

The NYTimes is running an overview article on the problems that were encountered:


On June 22, for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because it violated the company’s safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception. BP documents released last week to The Times revealed that company officials knew the casing was the riskier of two options.

Though his report indicates that the company was aware of certain risks and that it made the exception, Mr. Hafle, testifying before a panel on Friday in Louisiana about the cause of the rig disaster, rejected the notion that the company had taken risks.

“Nobody believed there was going to be a safety issue,” Mr. Hafle told a six-member panel of Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service officials. ...more..."

That is utter nonsense to say the lease....They had little offset data and BP/MMS would not have allowed exceptions...period. This is a senior drlg eng giving notice & mgmt denied....sounds like NASA>>>>>>

If you have something to offer other than derogatory comments speak up Mr Ex Conoco. Did you listen to Mr. Hafle's testimony? Some of his buds died on the rig after installing casing and cement he and his compadres designed - he defended every aspect of his work and admitted nothing, but I'm not sure who would wish to be in his shoes.

The whole picture is pretty ugly and you and your flame throwing buds are not doing yourselves (or your industry)any favor.

And, in the oil and gas business, one should NEVER EVER think "we will not have a safety issue". THERE ARE ALWAYS safety issues. methinks that is when you don't think there might be a safety concern that you will encounter safety problems.

IP -- And that's the truly heartbreaking aspect. Lots of unknowns before drilling. Especially the mud weights and csg points needed to get a well done. I've done those studies as a pore pressure analyst as well as estimate changing pressures while drilling. But once the well was down all those formerly unknown parameters were now known is great detail. WRT the csg program whatever risk were considered they did get the csg to bottom and pumped cmt. And. IMHO, that's the source of the "there were mo more risks" statements. They knew exactly what they had to deal with and exactly what it would take to finish the job safely. A major part of what they knew had to work was for the cmt job to test properly and hold. A very simple calculation: the cmt holds when they displace and everyone goes home and have some nice days-off. The cmt doesn't hold and the well blows out and some people die. was really that simple.

wintery -- BP may have had only a rough guess as to reservoir pressure before they drilled. As a well site pore pressure analyst I would do a continuous estimate of pressure while drilling to check the validity of the pre-drill model. But once they got the well down they ran a variety of electronic tools down the hole to the reservoir and measured a variety of parameters. They had a measurement of the reservoir pressure down to a few psi accuracy. They knew exactly how much backpressure they needed to keep the well from flowing. They knew that displacing the csg and riser with salt water would lower the backpressure and allow the well to flow IF THE CMT DIDN'T HOLD. The fact that the well flowed was an absolute certainty if the cmt didn't do its job. An absolute certainty. A very, very simple math calculation that an engineer could do in his computer needed.

Could they use lead - pellets, say or powder - in a junk shot? Would the temperature in the BOP be high enough to melt or at least soften it? Would it then form a dense sheet or mould around the leaks?

Lead melts at 425 deg F.

They could put gold nuggets in the mud. That would be really heavy mud. Or uranium.

Liquid mercury at a density of around 13.5 g/cc is 6 times as dense as mud and will go farther down against the flow pressure than anything else I can think of. Could there be a potential use for it here?

The Quicksilver bullet?

Could perhaps work better, but can you imagine the EPA being agreeable to BP injecting mercury into this tempest.

Good point. It took them weeks to approve Jindals' request to dredge offshore and seal the wetlands with sand berms.

Seal the wetlands? Even if it could be done and the 'seal' could somehow withstand the months, if not years, of recurring pounding sea, while the sludge circulates up and down and in and around the Gulf, what is the point? To save the wetland?

These are saltwater marshes whose ecology is intricately linked with the adjacent open water. What would be left of them, if they were sealed off until the sludge is out of the Gulf waters. Thank goodness that anything ressembling a `seal` is very unlikely.

I think people are going to regret the money thrown down Jindal's pit.

Still Obama has to make some concessions to the mob.

Hopefully, he can contain the amount of waste in the mitigation effort, or at least ensure that the wasted money is getting into the pockets of Gulf coasters hurting financially.

It is very unlikely, given the pattern of dispersion from the plume on the bottom shelf of Davy Jones' locker through 5000 vertical feet of ocean currents, that even half of the spilt oil will be recovered by man's efforts.

There will be two mitigation efforts in and around the Gulf: a makework project, and natural recovery.

At the very least if you save the grasses in the wetlands you save the area from simply eroding away, which has already happened to other parts of LA.

Of course a cruel irony here would be killed off wetlands/expanded Gulf just = more area to legally drill in years later...

Interesting idea, can you imagine trying to find that much mercury and how massive the pipeline would have to be in order to flow tons of mercury down a mile? I have a ten pound bottle of mercury in my lab cabinet and it shocks people to pick up that little bottle. A lot like the tungsten bar on my desk..

Just to post another idea here: would it be feasible to inject liquid nitrogen to freeze up the oil? Or to freeze the BOP?
Of course you can't fill a tube with liquid N2 that has been filled with water first, so the tubes have to be emptied, for example by using pressurized N2 at room (/non liquid) temp.

Just an idea...

I just can't see it emulsifying or blowing out... or doing anything much else than settling low in the hole and increasing pressure against the flow... that said I'm merely an environmental technician with a background in geology... so it's probably a quack idea I'm afraid.

A 1000 foot column will exert an 8,000 PSI pressure and quantities are readily available. Just looking for a good argument against it so I don't have to think about it anymore! Thanks! :)

It would be like taking cyanide to cure a headache. Every 1ug/day of methylmercury obtained from eating fish is enough to raise risk of heart attack by 3%. I don't even want to think about how many tons of mercury you're talking about that would bioaccumulate in the food chain for decades. Since most bioremoval is through excretion (not metabolism), most methylmercury would just be returned to the water to be re-absorbed by other creatures. A cure worse than the problem.

Ever look at the MSDS of want every tree hugger after you EVEN if this is sucessful for the future mess.......

the temps would likely melt the lead but how will it harden?

I can't help but wonder if the lead pellets are heavy enough that if you injected them that they would sink into the well (with gravity overcoming the upward force caused by the oil moving up).

Ignoring the question of whether they would melt, of course..

Rebuilding the barrier islands to what they had historically been would reduce the influx of oil into the marshes and represent a historic, natural water flow (more or less).

far less damage than unabated oil for sure.


Question for the experts.

If the kill lines can flow 50,000-80,000 BPD of high viscosity mud, can they be used in reverse to conduct a similar or higher flow rate of the less viscous oil to the surface?

That would reduce the pressure under the BOP due to friction losses in the well, reduce the leak rate into the gulf and accelerate the reduction in formation pressure.

I haven't seen this idea mentioned elsewhere so here goes.

A device that clamps around the bolted flange at the base of the riser pipe. It seals below the flange with an expandable collar. Above the flange or level with it has a side outlet with valve--this pipes to surface or just lets pressure/oil out if needed. Above the side outlet is a shear that cuts the riser (support riser first)(very heavy guides on each side of the blade) . After the cut, the shear could then be bolted down in place, or maybe a cap swings in from the side (very heavy pivot design) and gets bolted down. Oil goes out side valve.

The overall device is hinged vertically so it opens like a clamshell into two halves. In this configuration it is moved into place. The two halves close around the bolted flange at the bottom of the riser, and seal with bolts on both the hinged side and the previously wide open side. Seal lower collar. Attach relief pipe. Shear or cut the riser. Swing lid in and bolt it down.

Interesting device. After a week of design, build, transport, team building. You would have recreated the BOP Blow Out Prevent. The same thing can be accomplished using an exisiting BOP that is open and bolted to the flange. This is the same technique they use in surface wells or your plumber would use to replace your water main valve. Remove valve, place new open valve and close.

Unbolting the riser will increase the flow through the existing BOP, maybe even clear out blockages. This sounds like a bad idea considering the poor understanding of what is restricting the flow inside and below the BOP. Moving another stack into, through and down into a stream 24" wide with +8,000 psi pushing it sound challenging even before the visibility problems and the oil flowing sideways at the ROV trying to get the bolts tight. Are there studs at that flange? And there might be a drill pipe to contend with.

Modifying the existing BOP gets around most of this. The clamp could close and latch hydraulically. Velocity of the oil column could be lowered slowly. The shears should come in from two sides to minimize the reaction forces on the clamping body. Still have to grab any drill pipe so it doesn't shoot up or drop.

Isn't it time that BP and government realize that there is a fair chance there won't be a cessation of flow soon? Giving the workers respirators seems like a no brainer. There is a good containment technique. It's called pneumatic oil containment. Google it or look here

On a previous thread someone had wondered whether the fireboats may have contributed to the capsizing of the DWH platform. Was there any way that the platform might have been saved so all of this NG/oil would still be burning up rather than spewing in the GOM?

collasping debris, blown water tight doors, and the fire monitors cooling the vessel until all POB were accounted for (sadly 11 peers)doomed the 4 pontooned vessel

Ocean current would not allow a stream of oil burning to the sea floor. They are burning some surface pools of oil now and more to come. That's what I call global warming the hard way.

I've been lurking/following for just a few weeks. I found this site via the comments section of a blog post on the disaster on another news site. I'm impressed by the level of discussion and have learned a lot.

I have a stronger than average (which is not saying much for Americans these days...) science education and a big THANK YOU to everyone in the industry and with engineering and similar backgrounds who continue to provide analogies a decently bright layman can follow.

With a basic understanding of the pressures involved at these depths and the presumable pressure coming from the blow-out, it was immediately evident to me once a geyser was admitted (for a couple of days there there "wasn't a leak" - remember that?) that this was a MAJOR disaster, and I have to say that most of my friends came to the same immediate conclusion.

I have linked to this site and SkyTruth as sources of data and prespective for the general public since lord knows the MSM has (I would swear intentionally it's been such a horrid job) covering this. A couple of weeks back CNN had the weatherman (?!?!) assuring the public he was 100% sure the Top Hat was going to work (I was 99% it wouldn't). Most MSM graphics make it look like this is taking place in 40 feet of water, which is I think where some of the wackier layman ideas come from in part. Is the battleship or giant screw a significantly crazier idea than the top kill, top hat, different sized hat etc etc? 0.000000001% is better than 0% plus the risk of making things way worse. Obviously the experts have had 0% success in either predicting that this crisis was possible (I would say it was inevitable) or have come up with a way to solve it within a month or two.

Maybe one of these 'wacky' ideas, interpreted very broadly, could be tweaked in a workable way?

Any decent 'journalist' should be contacting people here to add context for the public, instead of repeating the crud BP's PR people put out.

It seems fairly well criminal to be telling the public that a method that has never been successfully tried even in lower depths (or even on land?) with a live spurt has a 70% chance of working.

Conversations w/ friends over a beer made it clear that a lot of the general public didn't figure the 'top kill' would work. One reason for this is that we figured it'd be standard procedure for the industry to have these devices rigged up already if it was thought they'd function as a first (second... third...) resort. You don't start building a fire engine after the fire starts. It's been clear to me that the relief wells (or kill wells or whatever the correct terminology would be in this case) were the only reasonably workable solution, and everything else has been very cynical window dressing.

Keep up the great work folks.

Decent journalists? Haven't seen one who has written a well sourced article yet (actually there was one on CBNC). BP are probably having well control companies involved with running the dynamic kill numbers and of course ops. They probably felt they had a decent shot. I watched managers, due to reporters insistence, give a probability number. Remember 60-70% chance does not mean it would work. If you gamble or flip coins you know that.
MMS and Energy are in the planning loop. They must have thought it would work or they would have gone to the new collection device /BOP solution right away as the device was already there. They also must have decided against the hot tap on the riser pipe. it will be interesting to see the time line to get the riser off and tool in place, and then the process of trying to stab a new BOP.
All of the ideas being tried apparently were discussed and put into the design phase within the first few days. I have not seen or heard of any exotic outside ideas discussed as possibilities by gov folks. Has anybody heard differently? I would have rather the riser disconnect work (as would the folks on the rig)and at least have had the open top to try to place the second BOP.
Anybody watch the Subsea engineer who testified about the BOP control panel and what happened? Wow

... what about installing a new BOP BELOW the current BOP instead of above it? Of course you require drilling in the seabed and support the old BOP at the same time...

Which day was that Dan?

what's that thing they say..."never ascribe to evil what could be more easily put down to incompetence"

or summit....

Is it possible to glue or firmly attach magnets to rubber pieces to temporarily close the hole?
If you plunge the injection pipe (assuming it is not magnetic)deep enough(more than 5000 feet),can it work ?

Magnets of the field needed would be larger than the orifice. We could all use a self contained ten tesla magnet about right now. Remember the pressure you are dealing with 13,000 psi.

I saw this question was asked in an earlier thread, but I don't think it was answered: Is there a site where you can see ALL of the live video feeds; and is there a map or diagram somewhere that shows the layout down there so I can figure out what I'm looking at?

Thanks. (Not looking for someone else to "use the Google" for me;-) will continue to search and will post the answer if i find it)

Could it be helpful to the current control efforts to apply some sort of refrigeration equipment directly on (or inside) the BOP, with the intent of making the flow thicker, slower and possibly forming the same kind of methane ice crystals that effectively stopped up the opening at the top of the large containment dome? This effect caused the failure of the dome, but if it was applied much lower, at the BOP and sea floor area would it possibly assist current efforts (top kill and junk shots)? In addition to the high gas content leading to significant methane crystal formation, I've also read recently that the crude oil itself is coming up at an unexpectedly "cool" temperature already (180 degrees F, I believe it was) given the relatively deep formation. With an additional "push" from freezing/cooling equipment of some kind, the resulting methane ice crystals might be a welcome effect inside the BOP at this point - perhaps stopping it up or at least slowing it down, like with the containment dome?

Hey that's a great idea, but first I'd like to see a more detailed proposal including the following:

1. A vendor for refrigeration equipment that will operate one mile under (salt) water. A power source must be included.

2. A calculation for the heat transfer rate and design of the cooling coils that will remove enough heat from the BOP to affect the viscosity of the oil.

3. Calculations based on the oil viscosity/temperature affect and the resulting decrease in flow rate that this concept will achieve.

Just for brainstorming purposes (see also above): is injecting liquid nitrogen an idea? At least you don't need an underwater fridge for that...

Are there workable techniques for placing a BOP on top of a BOP at 1 mile underwater while the bottom BOP has petroleum gushing out of the top of it? I realize that BOP #2 is essentially a straight-thru pipe (until it is closed). But it seems to me that a LOT of downard force would be required to counteract the upward pressure of the oil, even to position the BOP#2 over BOP#1. Additionally, It seems to me that they'd have to saw off the riser to a clean vertical pipe and essentially open the full 21 inch diameter to the ocean and the flow could increase massively at that point.

I ass u me that is exactly why they have not attempted that fix and will not until they are close with the relief well. I myself having to make that decision would be overly cauitous. This is a whole new ball game. You can model this on a computer all day and we have. This is not just skill it is an Oilman's luck and I say that with respect.

It seems likely that the main thing constricting the flow is the BOP as the end of the riser is essentially open anyway. Sawing off the riser will just consolidate all of the flows into one place.

Don't think it has been done before. I am not sure if the #2 BOP option involves landing the second BOP atop the LMRP, or if the intent is to jettison the LMRP and land the second BOP in its place. Freeing up the existing LMRP would be difficult in itself: would need to mechanically disconnect then cut away the drill pipe within so that the LMRP, drill pipe and mangled riser are freed together.

Even if they have a clean connection interface between BOPs, the problem wouldn't be insufficient stabbing down force (BOP plus riser would have weigh upwards of 650tonnes), the problem will be lateral forces tending to swing the #2 BOP sideways every time it gets close to the hydrocarbon stream - imagine a 450t object hanging from a mile long flexible riser trying to stab onto a 21 inch target. It would be impossible to see what is going on once the riser and/or LMRP are removed from the current configuration. I can't see the possibility of open hole flow (if it went wrong) being worth the risk.

Maybe the numbers from these tries say that they can slow the flow down with mud? My guess is that it would not be as hard to steer the new BOP onto the riser if it had some mud flowing out at a lower rate, as opposed to free flowing oil and gas.

Newbie here . . . been lurking for a few days now. Wonderful to see all the serious & well informed discussion on this site. I'm not an engineer (failed freshman calculus), so became one of those damnable lawyers (happily retired now, so you can tell all the lawyer jokes you wish!). Did have a thought, however, re: an approach to increase the resistance in the BOP/riser so that the mud has a better chance of actually making it down the hole. The wall thickness of the riser just above the top of the BOP is obviously sufficient to withstand the current pressure being exerted upon it, except where holes/cracks have been opened as a result of the bending/crimping that occured during the sinking of the DH. How about cutting a slot in one side of the riser below the kink and another equivalent slot 180degrees opposite the first. Slot width TBD by what's possible without destroying the structural integrity of the riser at that point. Then insert through one of the slots a triangular piece of steel of sufficient strength and carry it through the riser bore and out through the other slot. As the steel insert is progressively run through the riser bore, it will cover an increasing amount of the area of the bore, thereby progressively increasing the back pressure at that point. Once a sufficient amount of area has been "blocked off," perhaps another series of junk shots could complete the process & mud could be pumped down the hole without the problem of it escaping through the riser faster than it can be pumped down the hole. OK, I know this suggestion is coming from an engineering idiot and, worse yet, a retired lawyer, but it may just stand a better chance of success than the giant rotating battleship screw approach!!! Flame away!

All these mechanical contraptions generally violate physics, don't shut the flow completely, make the GOM radioactive and are much harder to get to work than just cutting off the riser and attaching a valve (i.e. 2nd BOP).

Sorry but I have to sue you for defaming my battle ship screw with the optional nuclear handle. The riser is bent at the BOP and who knows how much erosion has happened to the inside of the BOP now. Mud and crude are very abrasive. You could think of a sandblaster at 13,000 psi? Many think the entire casing with BOP could eject.

Although all the newbie ideas for fixing the leak are mostly out of left field, it would seem, and few if any actually have any merit; but as long as we have their attention it might be worthwhile to point out that one somewhat effective way to actually do something to fix this situation IN THE LONG RUN is to reflect on how you/we/they waste or take for granted their use of oil each day.

As a confirmed pessimist, I fail to see how we can get people in the long run to care enough about more than just themselves to focus on solving our impending peak oil problems. Still, as a hopeless idealist, I can't quite get myself to tell myself that I just don't care anymore, either, and let it all go down the craphole without at least wondering if ideally there is anything that can be done.

I've always been aware of it, but in these past weeks since the oil leak I've been even more sorrowful about the number of cars that are jamming the highways idling and wasting gas as I'm stuck in rush hour--most with only one person in them (my own vehicle included). I think of all the energy that was required to manufacture one of those vehicles just so the person who "owns" it (actually probably the bank owns it and the driver's just overextended his credit) can carry his butt around in a new, cushy manner. At least I am driving a near 20-year-old vehicle.

It pains me to see the number of recycling bags I fill with plastic each week as a result of my five-member family: bottles, packing materials, containers, you name it, all based on petroleum in their manufacture. At least they are marked for recycling, I think to myself, although I really don't know if they ever really make it to the recycling plant. For all I know they could be dumped into a landfill. I wonder how much I am actually wasting. I got a new computer mouse in the mail today; I tossed out a whole bunch of cardboard and plastic for just that one mouse. I try to think of a better way it could have been shipped to me and am not sure I can think of any.

I think a lot of people touting conservation (or "sustainability," the young people call it these days; back in my day it was "ecology") are rather pollyannish and at times condescending in the way they attempt to convince people of the need to think about oil and related resources--a certain "holier than thou" attitude that turns people off. On the other hand, we have a bunch of self-centered and, may I be so bold to suggest it, stupid consumers who have no real way to grasp the kinds of problems we're talking about, and no real interest in doing so even if they could.

I am not sure what the solution is, but I continue to ponder.

In fairness to the general public (a lot of whom are perfectly well self-centered, I know), the energy industry itself (and the two major American political parties they own) spend a great deal of time & money telling people that they are very responsible and that this is the best way to serve the energy needs/desires of a society. Look at that new-ish happy green BP logo. "Beyond Petroleum" indeed.

I happen to live in a densely populated city where I walk for 80% of trips and bus for the other 10%, and otherwise have a relatively low-impact lifestyle, but of course on the global scale of things I'm a tremendous glutton.

Nothing I do as an individual however will counteract the impact of this sort of disaster. Most people also know that most politicians are well bought and we have little impact on them as well.

Recycle and bike all you like, BP or some coal company is going to foul your waters or blow the top off your hillsides. Not much incentive to do my share, is there?

It boggles the mind that we'd ever allow this sort of drilling when everyone knows a disaster of this sort was INEVITABLE and aside from letting it gush oil for three months until relief well(s) are drilled, Plans B, C D E etc etc are put together on the fly after the barn door is flung open. If we don't know how to stop oil flowing from a source, we really need not be drilling at that source.

I think if the general public had known that there is no Plan B aside from letting 10 or 15 or more Valdez spills loose on the Gulf when the INEVITABLE accident happens, some attitudes might change, but if there's no serious future regulation and penalty for this for the people who DO have control over how they produce our energy..? Why should anyone bother?

Packaging now days is ridiculous. I just bought a pickaxe today and it had plastic protectors for the blunt blade and blunt point, I guess for protecting idiots in the store, a plastic sleeve over the handle and was wrapped in several layers of cling wrap. It took me 5 minutes to get all that crap off it. Pretty sure last time I bought a pickaxe 20 years ago it had no packaging.

Wrestling with useless packaging honestly pisses me off..

41,760 barrels of oil per day leaking out into the GOM.

A BP technician today says (off the record) that they have been able to only keep 10% of the mud in the well.

Suttes says that they were pumping 65-70 barrels of mud per minute into the well

65 barrels per minute in
7 barrels per minute staying in
58 barrels per minute leaking out (mud)

turn off the mud and

58 barrels per minute of oil/gas leaking out (minimum - oil/gas flows much more quickly)

at that pressure the volume of oil/gas coming out is about 50/50

29 barrels per minute of gas + 29 barrels per minute of oil

29 barrels per minute of oil X 60 minutes per hour X 24 hours per day

= 41,760 barrels of oil per day (minimum)

And where do you get that data?

I'll help you put up your alternitve panels...but please give up your math and perception of what YOU think is going on. You could qualify for a high gov't job you know. that you'll find more friends....

Mud is under higher pressure.

oil and gas flow 5X more easily than mud

Fits my assumption after looking at oil coming out of riser end:

approx 1barrel filled in 2 secs = 30bls a min = 43,200bls per day.


I'd like to second a motion from an earlier comment that ALL suggestions for how to control or kill the well be relegated to a special post. Your kind efforts to keep these suggestions from overflowing have met head on with human nature. Since we can't change human nature, if we could there would be no need for TOD, let's at least contain the comments in an area where interested members can work together to focus on solutions.

And a reminder for those folks with solutions, there is already an established system for submitting them to the Deepwater Horizon Response Team. You can do this here:

Deepwater Horizon Suggestions

An idea submitted here will never see the light of day. But sending it to the Deepwater Horizon Response Team will at least ensure it gets a quick look. Over 7,800 people have already submitted ideas.

That web site is owned by a public relations firm from WA.

New motion! New motion!

how about before you can register, you have to watch Bartlett's lectures and answer a multiple choice question about them...

or before you can submit a comment you need to fill in a captcha on crude production peak year for a given country (list of past peak oils by country)

you know, anything to educate, introduce the newbies somehow to what TOD is really about ?

I tried to watch the video, but I couldn't get past the bolo tie, so I gave up. Short attention span? American!

Oh look, a butterfly.

(But seriously, I personally have most valued Heading Out's tech talks. I've read them all. Both sets of them (from when they were first posted, mostly with links that are now all dead, and from when they were redone with pretty pictures in the actual posts)!)

If only it was the tie - or attention span - wait until he get to the actual subject matter: exponential growth, population growth ... people definitely don't like hearing that stuff - its shutters down and tune to another frequency - denial ... we're all doomed - well except the happy ones with super human abilities in cognitive dissonance

I agree. I am a guest here, and behave as such. I welcome and greatly appreciate some unbiased info from the experts. I find it extremely unlikely that an amateur will have a better idea than, what I would hope, are the best minds in the business.

Don't mind a laugh, but not foolish enough to second guess the people in the know.


Bumping a great idea put forth by PriorityX in the previous thread. Anyone who has time can research some of the issues and provide quality comments on TOD.

First off, thanks to all of the industry participants. Your detailed knowledge is what makes this board worth reading.

I have a couple of questions:

1.) If flowing mud at least keeps most of the oil down, is there any reason why the can't do it for months, until the relief well is in? I know it consumes vast amounts of mud. But hey, the entire offshore industry is shut down, so there should be lots available. And as for expense, I think any expense on BP's part is perfectly acceptable. If the expense of cleaning up this fiasco becomes a corporate death penalty for BP, then that's life.

2.) Does the mud contain anything that represents an environmental hazard comparable to an equal volume of oil? [Note to the guy who suggested mercury: the goal is to make the problem better, not worse.]

Or could they just continuously pump the sea floor material into the well?

Sea floor material is probably not suitable for pumping. Too many impurities and variability of material properties. The "recipe" for the mud they are using is specific to the problem at hand.

They are using WBM with soilds to increase density. Same that has been used for 40 yrs. OBM are contained and reused because it is toxic to marine life. Mercury (see MSDS) enouf bout that

With the moratorium, I'm certain all the other offshore drillers would love to SELL ($$$$$$$$$) some mud to BP.

In the category of "Hit them where it hurts", from

While BP's latest "top kill" effort to stop oil flowing from the Macondo well may take a few more days to determine level of success, estimates for total oil recovery costs and potential liabilities continues to rise. We expect to increase our original estimate of $4 billion-$11 billion for BP's total spill-related costs, to account for higher spill containment costs, potential liabilities and civil penalties. BP's oil spill recovery costs quickly rose again to $930 million from $760 million, as announced on May 24. This suggests daily costs rose to about $42 million per day during the four-day period beginning May 24, up from an earlier estimated daily rate of $22 million per day. Current "top kill" measures to inject drilling mud to into the blowout preventer to stop the oil flow may have added to costs. Expanded oil containment costs in the Gulf of Mexico and along shorelines and new settlements could also be factors behind the cost increase. A successful "top kill" could reduce daily oil spill recovery costs, but the costs to contain oil already spilled continues. Another 60-90 days of oil containment efforts at current daily costs could bring near-term oil spill recovery costs up to $3 billion-$4 billion. Longer term, environmental costs are exceedingly difficult to estimate, and will depend on a number of factors such as how much oil makes it to shore, and extent of the oil spread across the Gulf of Mexico. We estimate that BP could face costs of up to $5 billion, depending on the severity of the shoreline impact. Actual costs could vary from this estimate greatly, as shoreline impact remains unpredictable. Similarly, estimating potential liabilities for lost earnings to the fishing and tourism industries is challenging, but to consider a worst-case scenario, we note that the Gulf Coast fishing industry pulls in roughly $2.5 billion a year, and tourism another $1 billion-$2 billion. Determining the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico remains difficult. New government estimates suggest the rate of oil leaking from the well increased to 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day, up from a previous estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. Total potential liabilities, which include civil penalties of up to $4,300 for every barrel of oil leaked into the Gulf, could be up to tens of billions of dollars, and will take several years to resolve.

This and no mention of the loss in market cap the last month.

HUHHH! Hold that math for later man. Lets cap it first. To many people with crytal balls here. Take that rehtoric as you do with politacal BS, with a grain of salt....worry about the premuture moritorium that cost lots (~25k) jobs in the short run and many more to come. OHHH high gasoline prices unless they(GOVT) pull it from statigic about for playing with numbers!!!!!!!!

This is meant as helpful criticism. For somebody who has been around for 4hrs, you are awfully bossy and aggressive. Perhaps you may wish to reconsider how much you are actually contributing to the discussions before hitting "reply"? Many of us have been here for many years and appreciate the high signal/noise ratio - and newcomers shrilly replying to others doesn't help that ratio.

My advice? Take a deep breath, ask yourself whether or not your comments or replies actually add anything - in fact, ask yourself about your motivation - are you here to learn about peak oil and the various implications thereof (including drilling deeper and accidents associated thereto)- or are you here to stroke your ego and show how much smarter you are, or advance an agenda?

Many posters have been here for years, and like myself rarely post. Why is that? I'm not a geologist or other person involved in the oil (or other parts of energy-producing) industry - and I appreciate the efforts of people like Leanan and Gail an Heading Out and Westexas and Rockman who keep me informed, and don't waste my time with inane posts. A little humor is appreciated now and then, but constant aggression towards others and not adding information is a waste of bandwidth.

So ask yourself "do I need to hit reply" before you hit the button, you'll save yourself some efforts, and everybody else some time.

Hooray for MacDuff!

Over the last few weeks, this disaster has done more to affect my state of mind than anything else I can rememember in forty-something years of life. I can recall Exxon Valdez vaguely but that was a long time ago in a different world without internet and where news trickled through in fits and starts. Sitting here (and that's one of the worst things, just sitting, unable to help) and watching the oil spill and spill and spill out of that damn riser and the BOP, knowing the decisions that were made that likely contributed to this, having some idea about how much oil is already out there, seeing the picture of the wildlife affected, watching the size of the lake of oil grow and grow, and watching attempt after attempt after attempt fail and fail and fail... it is thoroughly, numbingly, body-and-soul alteringly, depressing.

I feel like I have to load up the video to watch the plume or I'm not doing what I can as a human being lucky enough to have been born onto this precious earth. I can do nothing to help: I have no science or engineering background and I'm thousands of miles away from the disaster and all I can do is sit, watch, and understand with an even greater degree of clarity that this is going to become much, much, much worse before it ever starts to get better.

Just another lurker newbie...

Nurses regularly tell people standing around waiting rooms waiting anxiously for news to go donate some blood. So...

Go give some blood, or visit a nursing home, or volunteer to help a non-profit.

You know sitting and watching isn't helping. Just looking for a reminder.

All anyone can do is try to grow a little.

PS. By the way, thanks to the writers and mods here for the great coverage and an excellent discussion.

Thanks... that's a good way to view it.

I've already donated to try and help. Will likely do so again. This organisation:, a collection of non-profits including NWF, Audobon, Nature Conservancy.

No matter where we are, we can all take a fresh look at our consumption and help a little.

Cut back on your consumption of something/many things and send the money you save to one of the local food banks. A lot of people are being hurt by this already.

" this is going to become much, much, much worse before it ever starts to get better "

And even then, I think you are understating the actuality.

Personally, I can not decide whether this is a modern version of Easter Island or a re-run of the old nuclear disaster movie On The Beach.

Last time I respond to Exxon Valdez....A surface spill....a ship, a drunk captain, and a sound, simular to a bay. Not a drilling rig in ~5000' of water in a body of water the size of Texas squared with 28 times the impact area, multipule currents at depth and surface....

Here's an actual science-y question from me, and I'm likely to go back to lurking:

I've read a lot on here in the past week about how quickly the drilling 'mud' and well debris etc might be eroding pipe at the pressure and friction created by the flow. Now, that's metal pipe designed to take some abuse for this purpose.

Given that, how long is anyone expected shredded rubber or a golf ball to effectively plug a hole? Even if you get lucky and something sticks, won't it quickly be eroded to the point where its lodging position won't have integrity? Not even the whole object needs to be eroded, just a fiarly small %.

This was the part of the 'junk shot' that never made sense to me.

The junk was supposed to stop the flow long enough for a cement plug to set.

That bit I understood. What struck me as unlikely is that rubber and plastic won't be eroded by debris faster than they could hold a plug. This is again based in the discussion in previous Oil Drum threads the past few weeks on how much erosion damage the pipe itself is taking.

Rubber has better abrasion resistance than steel, and is used to line steel pipes for transporting abrasive slurries, as can be seen here.

Also, in a successful Top Kill, the mud column balances out the pressure from below, and there is no longer a need to keep pumping, so no jets shooting through leaks.

Thank you for that! Quite counterintuitive. The junk shot things thereby makes a whole lot more sense.

The next question becomes... is this pipe not rubber-lined? Would that have helped this whole situation in any way?

This from the DailyGros: Sources have uncovered secret internal emails within BP discussing the company’s fears surrounding the use of a so called “junk shot” to stop the leaking Gulf of Mexico well, estimated by some experts to be spewing more volume than the total world population flushing toilets in unison. The junk shot uses a variety of different size particles which include rope and other fibrous materials in an attempt to clog the well. Company hired private detectives have uncovered a plan hatched by PETA and their lawyers who are working on late night commercials aimed at felines and their owners worldwide to exploit the possible “junk shot” failure. They believe it will result in massive fibrous “junk” getting into the Loop Current. Early takes of the commercials show a large cat speaking in a strong voice: “Have you ever had a hair ball? Hairballs have been linked to the BP well. If you or anyone else you know has had or ever seen a hairball call the law offices of Cheetah and Fish. Do not delay. Our lawyers will get you your fair share." After hearing of these efforts BP is now considering canceling the junk shot. It has been suggested that BP use materials which are less harmful such as macaroni and cheese. However, concerns are that the sea life might react to it the same as children worldwide, resulting in an unprecedented revolt especially by larger species that will boycott fisherman hooks and further threaten the already reeling industry. Government experts have finally submitted an alternative solution. Due to the oil glut and the need to expand the petroleum reserve, the plan is to wall off the Gulf and create a massive oil storage facility. The plan calls for using almost half the country’s unemployed workers. Although the cost is great, it is probably somewhat less than the Medicare liability. The EU has offered to provide low interest loans to the United States if needed. A BP spokesman said : ”We value the input of the government experts who bring a level of expertise not available within the oil industry.” Disney and Dream Works have been commissioned to examine potential entertainment possibilities.

Using the Gulf as an oil storage facility won't work. The Gulf of Mexico is a chemical cesspool; its toxic brew would contaminate the oil, and the EPA would disallow its use.

I guess the Great Lakes and the Hudson are the drinking supply of everything north of the Mason Dixon line,,,Right genius

The Daily Gros:What are their sources? How trying some thing. Here you have a chance

I heard that they are using the skins of recently clubbed baby seals as "Junk Shot" material; skins are thought to be mud resistant and have excellent "bridging" characteristics.

You can purchase an oil spill at

'As per the plan, the rig was supposed to be drilling the second of the two wells planned. But it faced oil spills over two fronts: one at the well head and another at the surface offshore. The wells are located in lease G-32306 over the prospect.'

~ 'Well A last year and Well B this year are part of the plan.'

Well A was abandoned due to a hurricane, was it completed / sealed properly.

Leaks always get worse...
Perhaps no one will notice if BP keeps us watching the small leak, LOL.

I think people will start noticing when it hits Florida's coast... oh wait.
That has probably already happened.
NASA satellite shows oil 20 miles from Florida Keys

I am no oil man, but I've been around

I get the impression that these companies don't care about the welfare of their workers or the people who are affected by their irresponsible conduct, because they feel they own the government
This must stop and it will stop, one way or the other,
because our families are at risk---
and I'm 800 miles away from this most recent debacle.

Yep, that is true. None of them care even about their families and children, or live near the area, use the beaches or eat at the restaurants. They go to work everyday trying to figure out how to destroy their staffs and the country, and hope they can cause a spill to screw the country and their shareholders. Absolutely true. But perhaps one of the 210 BP employees who post here can fill us in?

Nah, just upper management at BP and "on the way up" middle managers.

BP has admitted to be a felon twice.


A quantitative engineering proposal for partially obstructing the riser in order to to retain junk.

Physical objective: Insert steel rods that extend ~ 1 ft into the riser, angled upstream.


I did a sanity check on Heading Out's numbers at the heads this thread: A moderate pressure drop (low tens of bar) can indeed push 16,000 bbl/day of fluid through a 0.6 in hole. Since the narrowness of this constriction removes the value of my wonderfully practical suggestion, I've edited this post to remove it.

This leaves me with a puzzle, though: If the gap is that small, and junk can be up to 1 in diameter, I would expect the flow to have been bridged and then progressively and effectively obstructed far earlier in the junk-shot process. Can anyone explain why this hasn't happened?

One of the original assumptions is in error.


While we don't know exactly what the composition(s), size(s), and shape(s) of the junk that was introduced it is clear that it all passed through the BOP and was spit out the riser. Maybe some of it stuck in the slit in the kinked riser and made the kink leaks worse, but that's not much help. This suggests to me that the leak path is not very complex and that the orifice it larger than anticipated by the spreadsheet above, but flow is somewhat constrained by the nature of the path - it is not a simple hole in a thin flat sheet or thin-walled container. The material we observed seemed to be flexible rubber sheets.

Those ROV pilots sure are getting a workout!

Hard to get continuity with the threads shut off and restarted. Just a note to


to suggest that he check my reply/request in the previous thread.

And if anyone else wishes to comment on the desirability of a PR/pressure campaign to add two more relief wells, feel free to do so here and I'll try to check back. best.

From an estimate of the flow of 1 cubic meter per sec. I get a speed of about 14 ft/sec. If I convert this to head of pressure, I get v**2/2=100ft of water(I hope my units are right). Rather than blocking the exit , it seems better to build up a head of 50 ft of mud below the BOP (assuming specific gravity of 2). Applying Bernoulli to the process and ignoring friction in the bore. We only need the average mixture above the bore bottom to be enough to stop the flow at the bore. So instead of junk at the top of the BOP, a continuing stream of something dense such as ball bearings going down the bore + mud can alter the pressure and stop the flow at the bottom. Particularly if we stop the escaping mud through the top of the BOP.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but the technical community in the oil patch is very close knit. We all know lots of people at other companies. Many of us got laid off several times over the years as companies downsized and got gobbled up.

Any idea that is actually useful will have already been suggested by someone w/ real experience in the field. All the operators have a strong interest in getting this under control and will do anything short of assuming BP's liability to assist. I'm not in Houston anymore, but I have no doubt that there's a lot of discussion of the problem among friends and colleagues. In short, every operator in GOM "has a dog in the fight".

The patch has people expert in everything you can imagine and many more things you can't. This is actually no bullshit difficult and complex. The main reason stopping it has been so slow is they don't want to make things worse.

There are ~3800 wells in GOM water deeper than 1000 ft and ~650 in water deeper than 5000 ft. When I started w/ Amoco in 1982, deepwater was 600 ft. A bunch of extremely skillful people drilled these wells over the course of almost 30 years. Ever aware that they were doing things that had never been done before and being very careful as a consequence. Now we're all getting ready to retire and will have to be replaced by children who think it's old hat because they studied it in college. Just a natural consequence of not hiring for so many years.

geophysics and assorted other stuff, almost all in support of "deepwater" exploration as defined at the time

Yet people are attempting to invent the technology to control this accident as we speak - after 30 years of playing with fire and forgetting about fire control. Understandable perhaps, given human inclination, but here we are, and odds are the well will flow till fall relatively unabated.

That is why it is called an unprecedented disaster. How about those levees?

Unprecedented? Only in the depth of water involved. Unanticipated? I think not. As for the levees - certainly not unanticipated and unprecedented only for NO and only in the severity of the incident. There is no real excuse for the lack of preparation to address the problem in either case.

Couldn't have said it better myself, thank you Pulaskite. What we have found scary lately is having to "re-aply for our own jobs" because we have merged with another corporation. The young'ens in the human resource department don't get it either.... pre-interviews are favoring college graduates who don't have the experience, but have strong skills in presentations....and can easily appear knowledgeabe in the technical aspects of an petroleum environment.

Must disagree about young blood. At 21 years old, I signed on to IBM to repair bank proof machines, a half ton of spinning drums, flying arms, and 12 digit mechanical adders.

Six weeks in, I shortened a week-long repair procedure (replacing a mainshaft) to a single day, with a trick I learned fixing bicycle geared hubs when I was twelve or so...

Those machines were thirty years old at the time; there were literally thousands of them at that time.

Don't tell me everything's been thought of already by the experienced people. They sometimes sit around and tell each other "It can't be done!"

Collective problem solving shouldn't involve just experts. Use the internet forums to draw in new talent and ideas.

With all the spare genius just lying around the technical community it seems that this would be simple problem. Seems unwise to just leave it all to the snot-nosed know-nothing kids. That alone seems a good reason to stop this risky extraction behavior. I understand the technical knowledge that built the Saturn V rocket is lost in the dark labyrinth of years past, as well. A society cannot survive if its social, political, technical and institutional knowledge fails to be passed forward through generations. Some things you can't learn from books, like knowing when not to do something just because you can.

Since it's becoming apparent that they can't stop this thing and if they continue to try, they are likely to cause even more damage, why don't they go back to trying to pump it out of the water? This could be done at different levels. One system for around the well head to collect as much as possible directly. Another system for pulling out the oil in the plumes that have formed. And another system for pulling out the oil on the surface? Got anything better to do for the next two months?

the horse and pony show continues

BP needs to show activity at the wellsite ....they are doing that.....nice feed ...coupla ROV's switching views .....makes good TV but one sentence sums it up " relief well , maybe august possibly early September"

here's how the summer will pan out...

1- Top kill --- shows good activity at wellsite ...good ROV feeds buys a week for BP

2- Junk Shot --- another feel good ....problem is they holes are bigger than the size of the bridging agents they are able to get into the kill and choke like really cant block a basketball net with a tennis ball kinda deal here ...but hey shows activity and has a feel good factor here.....the monster well silenced by a few measly golf balls.

so far the public has had a good time staying glued to the leak wondering if its mud coming out or HC's.....paying close attention to the color ....again good TV for all

now we get in the part of operations where public will have a hard time looking at the feeds .....cuz the next dog and pony show will be

1- LMRP cap .......another good sounding solution but the HC's leakage will significantly increase during this process when the riser is cut .....and this will make for very bad TV viewing ....this will actually combine the leaks (rmbr BP has been clever single shot exists anywhere on the MSM which shows all the leaks in a concurrent view .......its always the dang ROV on top of the BOP showing the leaking mud ).....LMRP cap will make for bad TV viewing by combining leaks into a big leak so the perspective on the leak will be better than what BP has show so far.....RMBR BAD TV this process -- but buys a week for BP

2- putting another BOP on the existing BOP ....this will make for fantastic TV viewing .....a huge piece of equipment ...many pipes and odd shapes ......beautiful TV right here .....but cannot work since there is no way BP can risk a hot approach on this ....the risk -reward ratios can never be favorable no matter how you dress the figures in this case.....there is DP string in there can bet the horse and the stable BP knows where and how long...excellent TV and buys BP another week

the axis of action here is off --- the solution would be containment until the relief well is sunk .....and not reality TV for public ...the money being spent on the kill mud needs to go for skimming oil, booms, PPE for the workers and other cleanup/containment efforts.....there are atleast 20 boats involved with these horse and pony tricks at the wellsite ....thats 20 boats that could be skimming oil and deploying boom

2- putting another BOP on the existing BOP ....this will make for fantastic TV viewing .....a huge piece of equipment ...many pipes and odd shapes ......beautiful TV right here .....but cannot work since there is no way BP can risk a hot approach on this ....the risk -reward ratios can never be favorable no matter how you dress the figures in this case.....there is DP string in there can bet the horse and the stable BP knows where and how long...excellent TV and buys BP another week

If willing, expand on what you mean by "no way BP can risk a hot approach." There is a drill-pipe string in there, and?

Just passing it along:

BP says top kill has not stopped Gulf oil leak and now considering other options
By The Times-Picayune
May 29, 2010, 1:48PM

A BP executive says the company has yet to stop the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and is considering other ways to plug the leak.A source told The Times-Picayune that officials would announce the failure of the top kill option at a 4 p.m. Saturday briefing in Robert .
BP is expected to announce that it will move on to its next option, known as LMRP. The procedure involves cutting off the failed, leaking riser at the top of the Lower Marine Riser Package on the blowout preventer to get a clean-cut surface on the pipe.
Then the company will install a cap with a sealing grommet that would be connected to a new riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, with the hopes of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.
BP began a risky operation known as "top kill" on Wednesday. The procedure involves pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well in a bid to stop the oil. It's never been tried in 5,000 feet of water.
The oil spill began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded last month, killing 11 people. It's the worst spill in U.S. history, dumping between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf.

Cutting the pipe and placing a valve over it (BOP) with a "special" grommet seems like the best approach. This dog and pony show with the containment dome, junk shot, so called experts, etc was probably just to buy time while they manufactored the parts that should have been done before the blow out.

You got that right....

They did a news show in Houston about a company that was machining a large steel tube - guessing, the part on the lathe looked to be around 20 inches in diameter and 20 foot long. It had inlet ports. I wasn't paying especially close attention, but I believe they said it was for BP's Junk Shot.

Random question: have any of the oil or drilling pros been watching any of the testimony from the rig crew at the Joint Investigation down in Kenner, LA? I find the testimony absolutely compelling, and I don't just mean the parts where things blow up and everything goes pitch black. I mean, it's fascinating how many genuine characters there appear to be on this rig, as well as the extent of their knowledge about this stuff. I am unabashedly a humanities/liberal arts nerd, with a huge soft-spot for science and technology. But watching this testimony, it seems like there's a ton of evidence about the states of all the various systems on the rig, about what all the diff. people were doing. But it also seems like unless you really know this stuff, you may not be able to catch anything that is out of the ordinary or unusual. So I'm just wondering if any of the pros have paid any attention to it.

I too, have been glued to the Coast Guard inquiry. I am certainly no pro, but have some 25 yr. old experience in NDT of tubulars from the late '70s- early '80s in TX, OK and Rocky Mountain states.

My reaction to some of the testimony is that: 1) The Captain has been severely traumatized by the event. 2) The TransOcean (TO) personnel impress me as being of the highest calibre. They seemed to have a good balance between individual responsibility, autonomy, and teamwork, and this would imply good management 3) Although not a root cause, to design the rig in such a way that the primary electrical generators are able to aspirate methane and thereby overspeed until trip, seems to be an incredibly poor design choice.

Idle speculation on possible failures: The TO Undersea Supervisor said that he found the EDS system not tripped, 5 or 10 minutes after the explosion. He tripped it, the panel indicated it was tripping, yet he observed no hydraulic flow whatsoever to confirm mechanical action. He knew they were done for. This may imply that the hands on the drill floor probably did not trip the EDS from their location while only seawater and mud were spilling out of the hole. Too bad.

I believe the EDS system takes about a minute to operate, and longer time is required due to lower hydraulic pressures needed to be maintained at depth.

I'm hoping that focus on this incident will wakeup Americans that BAU in terms of energy consumption and mix, along with energy policy may become a watershed event.

The moderators on this web site need to review their approach. We agree that, despite the gravity of the situation, some levity is healthy?

So why have the SanderO posts concerning the giant screw been removed from the earlier thread (node 6518?)?? They were solid gold, brilliant, original LOL work and you just zapped 'em. Shame on you.

Here's another brilliant idea. Start pumping all the drill baby drillers into the hole. The per unit density of brain (PUDOB) should be more than sufficient to stop the gusher.

BP needs to be taken off this as soon as possible......only when they have no ability to make money from this will we have a solution. They have been stalling for weeks now....iIt was all about making the pipe whole and getting product. How could we think anything else? After damages BP wiill have 5-6 billion in this field.....that is a lot of money to make back, and killing the well isn't going to make that happen, is it?

Haven't you been reading the posts of the 'drilling community' here? BP would never DREAM of doing something like that. BP is the great partner in the American energy project. It is only interested in making an honest buck.

Oh get real. Who do you think would have done a better job (post-blowout) than BP? Exxon? Do you think they would have wanted to be associated with what is happening here? The US military? Sure they know lots about subsea blowouts one mile underwater.

How the loss of well control happened is an issue for the ongoing investigations, but since the blowout BP have not been looking at "making the pipe whole and getting product". They are burning money trying to fix a really shitty situation. The genie is out of the bottle and they know that they are financial toast on this issue - they just want the pain to stop! They said from the beginning of the blowout that this well was compromised and they that would try to plug and abandon.

Better than BP or Exxon? Easy: Statoil of Norway and Petrobras of Brazil.

I've worked with Statoil - lovely people but they would not have wanted the blowout to interfere with their holiday plans.

Petrobras - huge deepwater experience but I don't think that they've ever been faced with such a difficult blowout. Their platforms sink but the BOPs work.

This is a horrible situation, but the only comment of any positive value that I've read is that maybe BP should be kicking off additional relief wells. Other than that they seem to be trying to work through the available options.

Petrobras has people working w/ BP already according to WSJ.

It's entirely possible that experienced engineers and scientists from Statoil and Petrobas are contributing to the effort. I can't imagine that engineers and scientists from any service company or major or national would want/take the job if BP were to be kicked out of the room. Your plan would rearrange a couple of chairs and the groups would go back to work.

I don't exactly think BP is evil but you can't argue the fact that BP's hush hushy actions and lack of progress don't instill alot of confidence. How can this reaction surprise you?

Don't know who is worse--BP apologists or conspiracy heads.

Suttles at press conference just now: BP is "moving on" from top kill/junk shot to LMRP.

Why is it that the chatter here always seems to be 24-24hrs ahead of the official news? A bit discouraging.

Because the motto here is, to quote Albert Einstein: "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called Research."

Key words from Obama the other day " I have gone to bed and woken up each day since this happened with it being the number one issue on my mind" That was the "tea leaf" that he has been kept abreast and it is far worse than anyone has imagined. They have chosen to use BP (BP knows this) as the focal "fall guy" why they figure out what to do, which as of yet they have not. They are racing against the clock in regards to the first bad storm/hurricane which will bring all the oil still underwater and floating in large pools to the surface and then it will spread througout the gulf. Folks had better be prepared for the reality that this may end up being the worst man made caused diaster in history and for most, they will have a hard time comprehending the enormity of it and the intial and long term destruction it will casue. The potential economic impact to the united states could be upwards of 20% of annual GDP, not to mention the economic impact on the other affected bordering countries and the rest of the world. Oil markets could become very unstable very quickly because of over reaction concering production. I will say that upwards of 2-3 million jobs could be created just in US form this disaster, but they will come with health risks.

How come?

Reading hear I have learned that the mud is heavy. heahier than water. How come the mud coming out of the BOP/Riser is not settling back down around these spouts? I understand the pressure forcing it up and out but why does it not settle back onto the riser,for example...

Because it's in a natural oil base.

Is it mixing with the oil in the downshaft? I thought it was on top of the oil in the shaft and getting pushed back up.
If this mud is heavier than water it should settle back, even with some mixed in oil, and be building up on top of the white riser pipe.

This is PRECISELY WHY the Obama Administration is (for all intents and purposes) keeping the execs at BP front and center in the MSM. When the disaster cannot get any worse, which surely it will, the Feds will be more front and center and BP will simply continue working on it in the background (with the help of the other oil companies and with Obama's assembled brain trust.)

The Administration is going to be blamed for the disaster in any case, but they want all the failed attempts to be viewed by the public as BP's failed efforts.


Guess that's that for this thread.

Time to head down to the French Quarter for some dinner at the Brewhouse.

Under the new plan, BP would cut off the damaged riser from which the oil is leaking and cap it with a containment valve.

This is precious:

""We're confident the job will work but obviously we can't guarantee success," Suttles said of the new plan."

Soooo... this is true and you went with the four or five plans you thought were LESS likely to work first?

Or, more likely, this is a lie and this plan is less likely to work than the junk shot..?

They've got the press falling all over their latest fix. LMRP sounds way professional.

Let's dissect every minute detail of a certain failure (at stopping the flow) instead of doing some critical thinking and research or even using some common sense.

In which case one of the reporters will think to ask why they've only got one relief well going.

The relief wells are our only hope.

Regarding all liquid nitrogen based suggestions:

I'm a scientist and use a lot of LN2 in my work (macromolecular crystallography), and by a lot I mean there is a 3,000 gallon tank of it right outside my lab, and it gets refilled every 7-10 days. That tank feeds my various sample dewars and cryostreams through rigid and flexible vacuum-jacketed lines that run in the neighborhood of $400/ft.; for the 5,000 feet of it you'd need to get to the BOP, $2mil, though you could probably get a volume discount, and at this point a $2,000,000 solution would be awesome. But still, I'd only buy about 1,000 feet at first, because that's probably more than enough to tell me at what depth the vacuum jacket gets crushed.

Maybe you wouldn't need the insulated line, but my experience with the longest vacuum-jacketed line we have (~40') is that it takes 15 minutes from opening the valve before line is cooled down enough for actual liquid N2 to come out the end. An uninsulated 40' run would probably take many hours to get cold enough. An uninsulated pipe running down to the BOP would be exchanging heat with the surrounding water the whole way down; it might be months before you got anything more that nitrogen gas the same temperature as the surrounding water coming out.

Foam insulation would have the gas crushed out of it at that depth, rendering it ineffective.

Sending the whole liquid nitrogen tank to that depth raises the same issues as the vacuum-jacketed lines and submarines at that depth: it's gonna get crushed.

I'm not being snarky, just trying to point out that in addition to questions about how you would effectively use liquid nitrogen to stop the oil flow, you also have account for the fact that the liquid nitrogen just can't magically appear on site.

Excellent post, thank you.

They sell that super expanding foam at home depot - that might work.

I have read here for 2 years, but I just joined to post this.BP should focus on getting the relief wells drilled and be honest with the public.From what I have learned here, the only chance to kill this well is from a relief well.Everything else is probably dangerous.
This is a great site, I hope to post a bit more often.Enjoy the notoriety of the moment!

Instead of drilling just two, they need to start at least two more. Missing is not an option.

They aren't drilling two anymore. One was stopped. There was chatter (here, in earlier threads?) about taking its BOP and trying to cut of the existing and dropping it on, but I presume that would require some flow control (?). And that has failed.

I am afraid they will lose the casing if they keep fooling around.Instead of stopping on one of the other wells,they should add 4 more.I can't believe they would risk capping this well from the top now.They need to kill it from below before they make it worse.And they need to suck it up and admit it will take 3 to 6 months to kill it.As opposed to the fantasy of a topkill maybe sometime soon or other ridiculous schemes.And they need to plainly state how much the well is flowing.Now.

Yair...As I understand it the pipework BELOW the BOP consists of a twenty one inch riser (to which the BOP is attached)and a production casing within which is the drill string. The production casing and drill string have been partialy crimped/severed by the rams in the BOP.

I assume then that the twenty one inch riser is at well preasure below the BOP? If this is not the case I'll deal with that eventuality on a little further.

Could not an excavation be made below the BOP and a series of specialy fabricated tapping saddles be clamped to the riser. The said tapping saddles could be furnished with valving and off takes (to take wellflow to the surface) and an inbuilt sealed drive shaft and (say) two inch slug cutter to penetrate the pipe.

Difficult I know but seeing what has been done with the ROVs already it should be possible. Incidently the integrity of the seal against the outside of the pipe can easily be tested to working preasure before the penetration is attempted.

I'll now sit back and cop the flack.

Help us all, Rockman! Are we just looking at more BP hand waving? From AP: "'We're confident the job will work but obviously we can't guarantee success,' Suttles said of the new plan." Then, why didn't they go for this, if they're so confident, about two weeks or more ago? Bye the bye, to quote Lily Tomlin: "No matter how cynical I become, I just can't keep up."

BP Presser:
According to Suttle, top kill was the least risky option and that has failed, so it's onward to even more risky dog tricks and pony shows. He also said their objective is to cement this well shut. Admiral Landry is all smiley and upbeat and said everyone understands the need to keep a steady hand at the till.
Freudian slip?
I think she meant to say, "hand in the till."

tiller - only a yank ;¬)
This was why we let you go :¬)

Rest assured, her mouth slipped and expressed what her brain was really thinking, "till."
We all know the proper cliche is "Steady hand on the tiller."
She meant "till" as in "cash register drawer."
That's where the action is and she knows it.
There are people making their career bones over this disaster.
Disaster careerism, it's all the rage nowadays.

"The new attempt would take four to seven days to complete, Suttles said."

doh! did I say four to seven days... meant seven to ten.