BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - The Riser is Cut, Seating the "Containment Cap," and Thurs. Open Thread 1

Please transfer discussion to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6562.

It may be necessary to copy over some old comments, if an important discussion was started that could not be continued.

Previous thread introduction has been moved below the fold.

This is a repeat of the earlier post, but see that updates have been added throughout the day both on top and under the fold--we kept the same post/information in one place since we are running through three comment threads or so a day.

(To learn more about the technical basics of LMRP, please go to this post: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6531)

There has been a lot of activity at the bottom of the Gulf, not all of it immediately successful, but all working toward the current aim of being able to field the Lower Marine Riser package. That installation requires that the broken existing riser that connects to the Blowout Preventer (BOP) has to be removed. The bent riser has been exerting some lateral pressure on the BOP, and this might be relieved when it is cut off. To minimize the damage, the first cut is therefore going to be further down the riser, provided that they get the saw "unstuck," which it seems like they might have done, but no word yet on when cutting is to resume.

UPDATE: 5 pm Wednesday: I have added new material explaining how the diamond wire blunted, and how they might have fixed it, but now won't. They are going back to the Shear.)

UPDATE: 1 am Thursday: New plan. They are going to go with the big shears instead of the diamond saw for the cut. I have been intermittently watching for the past couple of hours, while doing something else - they were prepping the Shear, and I think reconnecting the power lines from the Shear to the power pack. Now, I believe that they are lowering the ensemble to the riser on CNN.

UPDATE: 10:30am: The riser is cut, now on to the Top Hat/LMRP/"containment cap," or whatever they're calling it now, seating.

(My post continues after the video. Please click, "There's more".)




The Lower Riser Assembly attached to the top of the BOP, the riser has folded over to the left.

I described the plan of attack in an earlier post, and what has happened, over the course of today has tried to follow that script. I say tried, because there have been a couple of glitches that developed over the course of the day. The large shearing machine (apparently owned by BTI) appeared on the scene, and in preparation for its use some of the pipes surrounding the main riser (the choke and kill lines) were first cut away using a diamond saw.

10:04 am just before the pipe was severed.

At the same time that this was going on, the wire saw that would make the final cut on the riser had been brought down to the site. The riser assembly has been cleaned of extraneous pipes already, and the wire saw would fit about the flange and below the bend.

The wire saw was then located ready to make the cut.

10:30 am Wire saw on riser

It was now time for the shearing machine (which I’m going to call a Shear from now on) to fit around the riser and to make the first cut through the pipe.

First shear location

Unfortunately the first cut did not appear successful, although there was a cloud of oil and gas released, indicating that the riser was at least breached. There was a pause, and the Shear moved to a new location closer to the riser. Again it tried to shear through the nest of pipes, that now included choke and kill lines. It was not successful, and returned to the surface where it was fixed, and returned to the site. UPDATE 1: Having written this post and not seeing much happening I went off for a couple of hours. On my return (and before Gail posted it), I did not check again and as the notes below show, the Shear worked at 7 pm. At 10:15 pm the wire saw was cutting through the riser. I apologize for the errors.

Wire sawing the riser.

END of UPDATE 1 UPDATE 2 below> In the meanwhile, a little calculation, based on reports that the White House has announced that the removal of the riser and drill pipe that are protruding from the Blowout Preventer (BOP) of the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf may increase the amount of the petroleum leak by 20% when the riser section is removed. There are two immediately obvious reasons why this might be the case.

The first of these is that there is a small amount of oil that was leaking up through the drill pipe that extended beyond the broken riser. That flow was one of the first things capped in the remedial effort. It did not have much impact on the overall flow volume, since the flow merely backed up and increased the flow through the main crack in the riser, but there may be a small increment of flow when this channel is re-opened with the cut below the fold in the riser.

The greater change in the flow, however, will likely come because the riser and DP, while not providing much increased resistance, did raise the pressure on the downstream side of the BOP by about 500 psi. We know that though the pressure down at the formation was at around 12,000 psi, up on the upstream side of the BOP it fluctuates in the 8,000 to 9,000 psi range. The higher resistance on the downstream side, reduces the pressure drop across the BOP by that 500 psi, and the flow rate will be reduced accordingly (the gap size through the BOP is assumed not to change).

However, if the pressure drop across the nozzle was at 6,000 psi in the current condition, (which with an orifice size of 0.6 inches, would give a flow rate of 512 gpm), then raising the pressure drop by 500 psi would only increase the flow rate to 532 gpm, or a difference of 4%--which might suggest that there is something about the drill-pipe flow that was initially capped which we don’t know yet. Alternately it may be that they think that removing the bend in the riser might ease the forces on the BOP, relaxing the metal a little and increasing the orifice size. After all it has only to open up by another 0.05 inches to give the increase in flow that the White House are predicting.

UPDATE 2: Sometime about midnight it appears that the cutting wire stopped moving and may be jammed in the cut, roughly half-way through.
Possibly jammed wire at 12:30 am
UPDATE 3 I went to bed and have just checked the comments and it does not appear, at 8:00 am that the saw restarted, and finished cutting the riser. At present the ROV is looking at the end of the riser, and the Shear. Oil and gas from the cut seems to be coming up around the end making it indistinct. Does anyone have a better version of what went on overnight?

UPDATE 4: On other feeds they are showing that a second cut is now being made by the wire saw, but the camera is further away. BP is predicting that the cut will be completed today and the LMRP installed. But it doesn't look good that they are still working with the Shear, because they can't use that for a final cut, and it implies that they may be having problems with the second cut also.

UPDATE 5: Part of the problem was apparently according to a BP spokesman that the cut through the first half had dulled the blade, so that when they got it restarted it would not cut. (What we do in those circumstances, which are not uncommon with diamond blades, is to run the blade through firebrick, and this erodes the material into which the diamonds have been pushed, and sharpen it. Then we drop the cutting pressure a little.) However, BP's current answer is going to be
The technician said that rather than trying again with the saw, the plan now was to use a large shear to cut the riser. The shear, which is about 20 feet long and nearly 10 feet high, was used to make an earlier cut in the riser about 50 feet from the wellhead. Because the shear will not make as clean a cut as the wire saw, modifications would have to be made to the containment cap that is to be lowered over the cut pipe. But the technician said that even with the switch to the shear and the modifications, he expected the containment cap could be in place by Thursday.

Oh, and I mentioned earlier that an ASJ system had cut through casing and pipes at the bottom of the North Sea. I had the orientation of that cut wrong (at least for the picture below) since in this case it was from the outside in, but I am aware of it being successful the other way. And so here is the picture of casing and cement cut by an ASJ. Sadly it was so long ago - around 23 years, that I can no longer remember exactly the pressure it was cut at, but I believe it was 5,000 psi. And to answer a comment because the nozzle is non-contact, the surfaces it is cutting don't have to be cylindrical.

ASJ cuts of casing from the bottom of the North Sea

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I had some trouble finding the different feeds BP is providing, but this seemed to work.


Following this is like watching the Three Stooges paint a house.

BP couldn't put another saw blade on the diamond wire saw and remove the uncut half of the riser pipe.

(a) BP is broke and cannot afford another wire saw blade b) there is only one saw blade on Planet Earth and the replacements are on 'back order', c) the replacement blade doesn't fit the saw, d) the blade is fine but the saw itself is broken e) nobody knows how to put the blade on the saw ...)

They go for the sledgehammer, instead. Let's see what folly is derived from using the massive, awkward shear on the riser in the confined space 'Top 'O the BOP'. Maybe they can break off the top assembly and still have the drill pipe and riser attached with millions of gallons of oil spewing ... then the shear can break!

What a pathetic fiasco ...

1 in 300,000 wells but this one makes up for the rest!

Massive amounts of oil streaming from above the BOP.....can't imagine what that will look like after the cut.

Any estimates to what is the total volume flowing out now on a daily basis?

It really is Keystone Coptacular. If it wasn't so dreadfully serious I'd be on the floor. The saw just flew out of the ROV's hand.


Caught this on the TV news scroll this morning: head of BP says blow out was a "one in a million" possibility. Everyone can judge after the following short course on completing a well.

Yep -- not going to talk about drilling a well or testing cmt jobs or displacing risers. Completions 101: The well has been drilled and csg run. The drilling rig is gone and you've brought is a smaller rig to make the well produce. You got a perfect cmt job: the oil zone is isolated in the annulus so it can flow neither up or down and discharge into another reservoir (called an underground blow out). But now you want to produce the well but there are two barriers: the steel csg and the cmt. You've removed the original drilling mud and have replace it with an equally heavy clear completion fluid. You go in hole with a perforating gun. It has small shaped charges (around 6 per foot) and you shoot holes (about 1/3" in diameter) through the csg. But you make the charges strong enough to blow thru the cmt also. IOW, you fracture the cmt to make it fail and thus allow the reservoir to flow.

Why a heavy completion fluid? Two reasons: if the back pressure is to small when you perf the surge can damage the reservoir and hurt recover. Can even make the csg collapse. But you also don't want it too heavy either. Typically you use a weight that produces a slightly lower back pressure then the reservoir pressure. Thus when you perf the reservoir it can flow up the well and push the completion fluid out (the well "unloads"). Eventually the well completely unloads the completion fluid and you now have the max PRESSURE DIFFERENTIAL possible. That is THE goal of a completion job: make the well flow.

Back to the BIG IF. If the details are fairly correct then when BP reduced the back pressure by replacing the heavy mud with the lighter seawater they essentially duplicated the effort you make to force a well to produce oil/NG. The pressure drop made the cmt fail just as perforating it would. It was not a "one in a million" possibility that the well would flow...it was a 100% certainty that it would in this circumstance. An undeniable physical law: given a conduit fluid will flow from high pressure to low pressure.

So let's cut him some slack and assume that wasn't what he meant. Maybe he was saying the cmt failing was a "one in a million" possibility. As I mentioned before, cmt failures happen all the time. I would be surprised if they had not gotten bad cmt jobs on one or more of the shallower csg seats in this well. You pressure up on the cmt and if it doesn't hold you go back into the well with a tool (RTTS) that lets you pump more cmt in (a "squeeze job"). Then you test again. And squeeze again if it doesn't hold. I've had to do a squeeze on two of my wells in the last month. So no, bad cmt jobs are not a "one in a million" occurrence.

Maybe he meant not knowing the reservoir was expelling oil/NG up the csg and pushing the drill mud out ahead of it was a "one in a million" problem. Nope: It ain't rocket science: when you shut the mud pumps off the well either stops flowing mud up or it continues. If the mud is flowing with the pumps off then you're taking a "kick": oil/NG/water is coming up the csg. I'll repeat the story of one of my deep wells I drilled earlier this year. When we would stop to add a new section of drill pipe we would "check flow": with the mud pumps off did the mud keep flowing up? How critical is it to pay attention? The driller would check flow. I had the mud engineer double check his appraisal. And then I would have my company man make that 30 yard walk to triple check those two. Had I not been on crutches recovering for double knee surgery I would have made that walk and double checked my company man. We followed this routine for 3 straight weeks 24 hours a day. That's how critical I deem checking for flow. Needless to say I really didn't want to have to jump off that barge into the swamp given my physical condition.

Why they weren't checking for mud flow as they displaced the riser is still an open question. But no, the hands not checking for flow is not a "one in a million" occurrence. It's actually rare that they don't.

OK...perhaps we should have the "Asinine Comment of the Year" award. This latest BP statement should have good shot at it. OTOH they ain't done yet making statements.

"Asinine Comment of the Year"

You would have to eliminate the media from the competition otherwise they will win every award and on one else will have a chance.

You would have to eliminate the media from the competition otherwise they will win every award and on one else will have a chance.

Awesome!!! and the truth

The media folks are often ignorant (not that they should be) of pertinent facts and circumstances. BP cannot claim ignorance - or if it does then its in the wrong business.

You have also left out politicians...

Beautiful post Rockman, and so true. Quick question? Is there Criminal Negligence involved? At first I thought so, but think the last couple days its going to be very hard to prove.

I was just reading an article related to that today:


Don't know Iron. Hopefully we wave an legal easgle flying around TOD that can offer some insight.

Here is the basic definition from my state based on the Model Penal Code: "A person who negligently engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another commits the offense of negligent endangerment." A jury, the ultimate decider of facts in a criminal case, will have to decide if the defendant created, and this is the key, a "substantial risk." A jury is composed of 12 citizens chosen at random from the jurisdiction's community. I think thet the basic facts almost automatically create "negligence" in most jurors minds ("Airplanes just don't fall out of the sky.") but it is slightly open to argument. Go to the jury room and start discussing the facts and the law members of theoildrum community. You're the jurors here. You may accept the expert testimony of Rockman and several others as true.

A jury is composed of 12 citizens chosen at random from the jurisdiction's community.

Can you imagine trying to seat a jury that isn't already prejudiced in this case?

Based on the comments I have seen on the TOD, it is hard to visualize.

An impartial jury even

Who in this world hasn't heard about this event unless it is some tribe in the rain forest of South America and isn't being spoonfed the MSM viewpoint of wanton death and destruction of the evironment by BP?

I live in a smallish community where we have had several publicized cases. First, you'd be surprised how little the majority of citizens pay attention to any thing going on outside their small, sitcom universe. Second, the question which the judge asks (I know, I know) is:"Can you set aside your prejudices and what you have heard about this case and reach a decision based solely upon the evidence presented in this court under oath and the law as explained to you by the judge?" I will say this: I have seen and judged several local publicity cases where the community gossip was "Guilty" and the jury has come back "Not Guilty." When I have talked to the jurors, I found they really and in detail thrashed out the evidence presented to them and only the evidence presents to them. Having some scowling dude (gender neutral) in a black robe stare at you while reading jury instructions to you in a authoritative voice wonderfully concentrates the mind. And you know what Churchill said about democracy.

You are absolutely right about the evidence issue. I was on the jury in a murder case earlier this year. The two things that I noticed was that first the case was conducted by the book. I mean down to dotting i's and crossing t's. Nothing was skipped or bypassed.

Second, the police dept was VERY high tech. The photos, x-rays, videos, etc were presented almost exactly as seen on TV. Wide screen, some stuff so graphic that they had to stop a couple of times and excuse the jury (to recover from the shock of it all) for a few minutes.

We concentrated ONLY on presented evidence. Nothing else. Final verdict was guilty. I surely wouldn't want to go thru that again but it was an experience.

Thank you for the informative post.

I followed you right up until you said this:

If the details are fairly correct then when BP reduced the back pressure by replacing the heavy mud with the lighter seawater they essentially duplicated the effort you make to force a well to produce oil/NG. The pressure drop made the cmt fail just as perforating it would.

My question is, if removing the mud is certain to make the cement fail, why on earth would they do it?

I also don't understand this:

Why they weren't checking for mud flow as they displaced the riser is still an open question. But no, the hands not checking for flow is not a "one in a million" occurrence. It's actually rare that they don't.

So failure to check for mud flow is not a "one in a million" -- but it is nonetheless "rare" for them to not check?

I appreciate any clarifying remarks you can add.


Why they weren't checking for mud flow as they displaced the riser is still an open question. But no, the hands not checking for flow is not a "one in a million" occurrence. It's actually rare that they don't.

So failure to check for mud flow is not a "one in a million" -- but it is nonetheless "rare" for them to not check?

I appreciate any clarifying remarks you can add.

Yes it is, not sure what you find hard to understand about this. But that is what people in charge of these jobs are supposed to be doing. From the Company men on down, people were being somehow complacent on this one. Odd that a "Safety" award ceremony on the rig at the very time the rig is exploding would also help serve as another distraction to help setup event just like this.

... and sank on Earth Day. You couldn't write that as believable fiction.

Michael -- Removing the mud would make the cmt fail if it wasn't set at that time or of poor qaulity. I should have been more clear. They thought the hand a good cmt job and thus expected it to hold when they displaced.

Checking for flow when the mud pumps are turned off is THE standard op for looking for a well. That's the point I didn't make so clear. Just aguess but they may have checked for flow a couple of hundreds times as they drilled this well. But the combination of beleiving the cmt was holding and the normal rush to shut down and pack up at this phase probably explains why they didn't follow SOP IMHO.

Displacing the mud with seawater appears (so far) to be one of the critical decisions. I think we understand why they would have done it (to save time cleaning up the well for the completion team, something which you admit can be a PITA), but the question is could they have reasonably determined it was safe from the results of their positive and negative tests. I don't believe we know yet.

Furthermore, there is still a great deal of confusion over who was watching the mud returns, if they were masked by other operations and why they didn't catch any abnormalities. It still could turn out that they were watching the mud returns, but for some reason they weren't seeing what they should have.

Displacing the mud with seawater appears (so far) to be one of the critical decisions.

Testing the cement early, on what was a questionable method to cement with would be another biggie.

Then not heeding the warning signs they were getting while testing and continuing on as if everything was A OK.

There were other issues also from a well design point of view but doing the above would have set the stage for the big event of the day.

Yes and taking the mud out of the riser was probably the final mistake, actually I think I read it was deeper than that with the displacement. another 3,000' besides the riser if what I have seen is correct.

I have yet to see any questioning along the duration of cement cure time in the investigation. From that, I can only conclude that the cure time was considered sufficient from the facts gathered before testimony. Else, the lawyers missed a pretty big red flag.

The warning signs while testing have been ambiguous at best and no results have been analyzed to my knowledge regarding the positive and negative pressure tests.

What other issues from a well design point of view do you see?

local press reports

Blair Manuel farmed for decades before moving to oil rigs. Gordon Jones was at home on green fairways, where he could play par golf.

Both were mud engineers for Houston-based M-I SWACO.

Blair Manuel had played varsity football at Eunice High School.

Nearly three decades younger than Blair Manuel, Gordon Jones was a scratch golfer, his father Keith recalled. And Gordon eventually hoped to parlay that athletic ability and his conversational skills into a sales position with M-I SWACO.

He would have been a successful drilling fluids salesman, Keith Jones said.

"Mud engineer" is a courtesy title. Gordon Jones had a degree in English, not chemistry or engineering. Blair Manuel's brother is a Swaco project manager, put him on the rig to learn the job. Probably paid $50 a day.

Much comment at Drillers Club about this problem. Mudloggers are lowest on the totem pole, but they have vital information about gassy mud returns, lost circulation, return gains. Situation on Deepwater Horizon was worse than usual, displacing to seawater and pumping mud to the Bankston.

BP guilty of manslaughter IMO. Transocean OIM negligent for going along with insane company orders, not supervising drill floor.

avon -- I can't judge Manual or Jones. Don't know either one. It might sound odd but I don't consider their education background as a problem per se. Granted he was just working onshore wells in S Texas, one of the best mud engineers I've worked with had only a high school degree. Like many areas in drilling ops there's little academic training that's directly applicable. Much of the various skills can only be learned on the job. I'll pick an experienced mud engineer with no college degree who is conscientious about his job over one with a Ph.D. who doesn't pay attention to details. Actually mud sales is not an uncommon background for many mud engineers. And vice versa.

And remember what I perceive as the fatal error: not checking the mud returns as they displaced. I can sit a bright 14 yo kid in front of the return lines with instructions to call me if he sees the mud continuing to flow after the pumps are shut off. As I said before I doubt anyone will take comfort in just how easy it was to see the well start coming in.

BTW...Manual was probably making $600/day or more. And that's working 2 weeks on/2 weeks off. So a little over $100,000/year working 26 weeks (84 hour weeks) with 26 weeks off as unpaid vacation.

i think a bright 14 year old might be overqualified. And you have hit the exact point that always scare me about high risk adventures like driving my car in the winter where I live. People, sometimes, for very mundane reasons such as a fight last night with their spouse, just lose concentration and their mind wanders. And people die. Horribly. Know the problem. Don't know the answer, Rockman.

I wonder how many GOM blowouts occurred during some stage of cementing casing, prior to the Macondo blowout, versus all GOM completions that have been made? This would at least give one the approximate odds of a GOM blowout during cementing operations.

I wonder how many GOM blowouts occurred during some stage of cementing casing, prior to the Macondo blowout, versus all GOM completions that have been made? This would at least give one the approximate odds of a GOM blowout during cementing operations.

Don't know about in the GOM, but my dad told me he finished cementing a well on the choke one time on a land job. He said the well began to kick while they were still cementing, they just closed the rams on it and went on with the cement job.

From what he told me, it was one of those problem wells that they run into from time to time and that was the reason he was there, because the company/operator was afraid of it. He got the job done.

First I want to say "Hi Rock!" and second (this is sort of a public service anouncement to the general public) I want to take another opportunity to clear up that mudloggers and mud engineers are completely different jobs and the only thing they have in common in the word "mud" in the title.

Mudloggers are pretty much low on the totem pole in terms of social respect on a rig IOW it is a fairly sissy job in the opinion of most roughnecks and roustabouts, but the company geologists and such were always interested in what I had to say. To be honest, by the time a hand had risen from derrick hand to assisstant driller they seemed to change, I suspect because they had an appreciation and use for what information we had. This info was about the rock we were drilling, and we got that information by tracking Rate of Penetration, lithology, hydrocarbon shows, etc. Mudloggers are essentially the "minutes takers" of oil wells, and the first trained eyes to actually look at the cuttings coming out of the hole.

Mud engineers made and maintained the drilling fluids. We talked back and forth quite a bit, as what they used for drilling fluid affected what I saw on my gear, and what I saw on my gear REALLY affected the properties of the mud, something they would have to counter as required, by altering the recipe of the mud, and maybe making changes to the mud cleaning system.

Mud engineers get paid more than mud loggers, but back in the late 90s a good mudlogger could still make $200 a day with my company. Of course my company tried to hire only people with Bachelor's degrees in geology--or a long history in the oilfield.

BP guilty of manslaughter IMO. Transocean OIM negligent for going along with insane company orders, not supervising drill floor.

Testimony of Transocean Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell named the person tasked with monitoring the returns at the time of the incident and stated that he had not been stood down at the time of the incident. The person named was not an employee of Transocean (or BP). To the best of my knowledge that person has not spoken yet.

He further testified that the second negative pressure test and results analysis was done under the supervision and with the participation of Night Pusher Jason Anderson. who was Transocean OIM qualified and also held the positions of Senior Toolpusher and Well Control Instructor. Questioning tried to push him to say that they'd left the "B" team in charge but he most strongly disagreed and said there was no one more qualified on the rig in these situations and one of the best Transocean had. In any case both he (Miles Ezell) and Rig Manager Jimmy Harrell agreed with the go decision and had both talked it over with Jason. That's why Jimmy Harrell was in the shower and Miles Ezell in bed at the time of the incident.

It's still not certain to me that all the people involved in the decision to continue were not correct in deciding that they had a good second pressure test and the earlier anomaly understood and explained. I know it looks they were mistaken because the well blew soon after but is that known for sure? Certainly not from any testimony I've heard. Somehow all concerned were absolutely convinced the earlier anomaly was due to some U-Tube effect (can anyone explain that?). A subsequent second negative pressure test was held for 30 minutes with no anomaly and all concerned agreed the results were good, the reason for the earlier anomaly understood and they could proceed.

Also both Miles Ezell and Jimmy Harrell testified that the reported "argument" was about doing a negative pressure test. Miles Ezell described it as a sort of running in-joke between them rather than an argument because the BP plans never had the negative pressure test and Jimmy always added it. There was never any doubt that it would be done Jimmy's way according to Ezell (as it was in the end) because it was always done his way. Incidentally he further testified that Transocean procedure did not require the negative pressure test either but that Harrell added it as an intended extra safety measure over and above what either company required under the circumstances.

Harrell added it as an intended extra safety measure over and above what either company required under the circumstances.

This is interesting. So the OIM added the negative test huh? Was this after they had already broke down the cement job by testing early?

No wonder there is going to be a lot of finger pointing going on between Halliburton, Transocean and BP.

Whichever federal judge is assigned the trial to determine who's liable for what between Halliburton, Transocean and BP had better be young.

Thank you Rockman. Your posts are highly informative and this layman appreciates them.

I have to agree Rockman, thank you for the insight. Forgive me, but I can't find the thread on ideas to stop the leak. 1. Couldn't the cracks in the riser have been welded? 2. Instead of shearing the riser pipe, couldn't we have tried to pinch the pipe more in order to reduce the flow farther? 3. Couldn't a large device like the shear have been designed so that half the jaw served as a large clamp and the other half as a cutter/sidevalve to cutoff the flow. 4. Couldn't an open valve be attached to the top of the BOP (while still open) and then actuated to a closed position? 5. How large are the smaller pipes on the side that they pumped the mud/tire-chunk/golf ball mixture into? 6. Could a strand like material (either a whole bunch of small strands in a bundle or one large interwoven strand) be introduced to the main well pipe via the side pipes? The strands would have to be capable of withstanding the flowrate without tearing and would remain anchored outside the sidepipes (fatter on exterior so couldn't be drawn in all of the way). If so, a group of longer lengths introduced through all of the side pipes might come together at a higher point to effectively clog the pipe at a higher point. 7. Similar to "6", depending on the number of sideholes available, a few strong metal bars/pipes could be inserted through a few of the higher sideholes. Then, bolo-like segments (thinner middle with somewhat fatter ends with a flexible center that would wrap around the bars and would collectively create a clog. I know they've cut the riser and are heading toward LRMP, but if there is ever another incident like this I'll always wonder if any of these ideas were plausible. I'd piss on a spark plug if I though it would help stop this mess and/or clean it up.

The did turn off the pumps, and cheked for mud flow, and there was a significant pressure build-up.

It's described in this document:

>> Caught this on the TV news scroll this morning: head of BP says blow out was a "one in a million" possibility. <<

We have had 656 wells drilled over the time between 2004 and 2008 in the GOM, according to the EIA. We have had 1 major blowout (Deepwater Horizon) since the last major blowout (Ixtoc in 1979), so the industry experience is 1 blowout per 31 years, or approximately 1 in 31 * 164 wells, or 1 in 5084. That is a long way from 1 in a million.

approximately 1 in 31 * 164 wells, or 1 in 5084. That is a long way from 1 in a million

It is still not supposed to happen if they follow SOP.

They didn't

It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask "What is the cause of management's fantastic faith in the machinery?"

We have also found that certification criteria used in Flight Readiness Reviews often develop a gradually decreasing strictness. The argument that the same risk was flown before without failure is often accepted as an argument for the safety of accepting it again. Because of this, obvious weaknesses are accepted again and again, sometimes without a sufficiently serious attempt to remedy them, or to delay a flight because of their continued presence.

Introduction to Personal observations on
the reliability of the Shuttle,
Challenger Disaster
Richard Feynman

Same old shit, new flies!

Quick post on Macondo longer term well flow rates :

I’ve made some basic calculations which suggest (no surprises) that the well will most likely be able to sustain current rates for several months at least, certainly beyond the point at which relief wells are completed later in the year. I’d be very surprised if we are helped out by a reduction in rate due to reservoir depletion.

Material balance reservoir models coupled to well models suggest that for an original oil in place volume of 100 MMstb (million stock tank barrels) and assumed flow rates of 20 Mstb/d (thousand stock tank barrels per day), ie at the upper end of the currently estimated range of flow rates, then in the absence of any active aquifer and using reasonable parameters for other oil and rock properties, average reservoir pressures would decline by around 1800 psi over the 5 months from April 20th to September 20th. This is not enough to cause reduction in flow rate. This would only occur if significant compartmentalisation of the reservoir limited the oil volumes connected to the well.

It is worth noting that based on various oil property correlations, and looking at offset reservoir data, it seems likely that though under-saturated, the reservoir is relatively close to bubble point pressure. When reservoir pressures drop to this level (potentially after 7 – 8 months of production) free gas break-out in the reservoir will increase system compressibility enormously and slow down the rate of pressure depletion, further sustaining well rates. As a potential tiny silver lining however, gas production would increase substantially at the expense of oil. But lets hope they get this well killed well long before then…..

All quoted figures directional and subject to large uncertainty ranges……..

My understanding is that relief well is a misnomer. They are not drilling to reduce pressure. They are simply targeting the trouble spot, and are going to pump as much cement as it takes to plug the well. I am sure that near the target the engineering will get interesting, but at the start, the cement should go in because the reservoir pressure is being bled off by the current blowout. They will also have the advantage of the cement being pressurized to hydrostat at that depth.

Correct BigTuna, they certainly won't be producing from the relief wells, idea is circulate mud up the blowing well to kill it. Cement will surely follow.

If it goes well, it's gonna be a relief to me. [Sorry. Couldn't resist. I'll go the my room now.]

I haven't written about this solution before, because I really felt the leak would have been resolved by the time it got anywhere. Here's a potential solution that maybe someone in the know can vet to see if it has any potential for success.
1. Using the robot subs as control for guidance of equipment, hydraulically excavate the sea bottom around the well's casing, say about 20 feet deep or greater if deemed necessary; or, contrarily, use the subs as guidance, and use some other proven means to perform such excavation.

2. Fabricate a hydraulically driven device, similar to a blowout preventer, but fabricate it in two halves, so that each half can be lowered into place and bolted together at depth.

3. Bolt the two halves together, and attach very high pressure hydraulic hoses or tubing.

4. The device should have multiple cutting edges and slow-moving rams, and should be able to be independently operated, so that if one or more of the cutting edges runs into a drilling steel joint, they can try the next one.

5. Starting from the top-most ram/cutting edge combination in the device, begin hydraulic activation of the cutting edge and ram.

6. If this method is successful, then encase the casing and all the exposed elements of the well in heavy weight concrete for the 20 feet or for the full depth of the hole, whichever is greater.

There are obviously difficulties with this proposed process, the primary one being the lack of visibility due to the materials dredged up. So some means must be developed for that.

I have no way of confirming for myself that this method will be successful, but I think it's certainly worth further investigation. Comments are appreciated.

The problem of excavating around the bottom is not a problem. Part of the ROVs standard tool kit includes mud and jetting pumps, they can excavate a massive hole around the well head given enough time, and they would have plenty of time.

Other problems might include knowing exactly what casing may be in the way and if there are pieces of cement at the location and designing for the worst possibility.

The two halves would be huge as they have to take an internal pressure of up to 15,000 psi when operated.

Bolting can be done by ROVs but it is difficult and extremely time consuming. A hydraulic locking arrange with the the two halves hinged together and lowered as a unit to eliminate alignment problems would be better.

I'm not sure what good the cement would do except hide the equipment so you couldn't monitor for leaks.

This is an all or nothing proposition, if it doesn't work you've eliminated all alternatives except the relief well.

But the real problem is probably the time required. They have to design it (probably well along with that already), then they have to manufacture and test it. For something like this, even working 24/7, I think you are talking at least 6 months.

But, unlike most of the plans put forward, this idea doesn't have to violate any physical laws to work.

Welcome to TOD and keep trying.

Hi all,

I'm thankful to have found this informative and friendly place. The German media report so few details on what I think is one of the or THE biggest desaster of our times.

To be able to follow all these ROV live feeds at once, I use these lines of HTML code saved into a simple feeds.txt file, which I then renamed into feeds.html. Opened in Netscape it shows all feeds in parallel:

---------- start (do not include this line) -----------

<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:44287.asx?bkup=44668" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerA1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:44838.asx?bkup=45135" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerA2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:46566.asx?bkup=54013" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerB1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:55030.asx?bkup=56646" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerB2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:31499.asx?bkup=31500" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerC1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:22458.asx?bkup=23729" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerC2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:45685.asx?bkup=49182" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerD1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:45683.asx?bkup=45684" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerD2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:47175.asx?bkup=21144" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerE1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:21145.asx?bkup=21327" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerE2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:37235.asx?bkup=37270" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerF1" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>
<EMBED SRC="http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:35523.asx?bkup=35624" width="24%" height="33%" name="MediaPlayerF2" type="application/x-mplayer2" pluginspage="http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/" ></EMBED>

---------- end (do not include this line) -----------


The amount of oil flowing from the pipe might not dramatically increase when it is fully open in the same way you experience a spray of water coming from a tap with your finger on it and only get a trickle when you take your finger off. That oil has to come miles via a fairly small pipe so that only when the flow is restricted do you get a high pressure. Fingers crossed anyway.

Martin, your HTML instructions above work exceptionally "well", rendering all other multi-ROV simultaneous cam monitoring methods a complete "bore". A tip of the "Top Hat" to you, sir. d:^)

Thanks for this, Martin. Can you contact me offline at osha@thephoenixsun.com ? Thanks!

Nice and simple.

I was just preparing something similar and thought that there's no point in publishing what I've done after seeing your super simple solution. Here's my take anyway. I've maximized the views and the streams resize proportionally, I've added titles too for the ROVs.

Refreshing/reloading the page after resizing the browser window sets the players to correct dimensions.

It's convenient to save the page and open the resulting HTML file locally.


Fantastic, thanks! I've created a video wall on my blog page:

Video Wall

Great stuff Martin. Thank you.


Thanks, m.ramsch

I've placed this on my site in a clickable form, I hope that's okay...


I'll leave it around untill this mess is over. (I have more bandwidth than I ever use.)

As another backup capability for ROV feeds this one will only work for Internet Explorer 7/8.

Sorry, no plans on modifying it for not IE browsers. :-|


Here is all 12 of BP's ROV cams from their site


riser has been removed

Ya...and the cut doesn't look half bad. Not as mangled as I expected.

ya think they could take the shears and squeese the far ends of the flat open?

There was just a view on the Viking Poseidon #1 channel of the cut.

Looked like two squished pipes inside the riser.

Maybe some "junk"?

There is 2 strings of drill pipe in the whole?

Quite apart from dodgy hydraulics, that would help to explain why the BOP shear rams couldn't do their job, AND why annular seals couldn't seal!

It sure looks like two drillpipes in the riser? WTF? Anyone else have an explanation?

I just saw that again on the Viking Poseidon #1 view.

looks like two pipes below the kink,
only 1 above.

I did not see the shearing, but I think it would have squeezed things shut, so the 2nd pipe had to be there before the shearing.

Maybe the shear rams in the BOP did work to shear the Drill Pipe, then when they were cycled, the DP was ejected upwards into the kink. Hopefully the shear rams got closed again.

Unless we're seeing some kind of ring/stub from a cement plug, or part of the metal reinforcement of an annular rubber now turned all cockamamie.
The 2nd pipe looks skinnier than the drill pipe, maybe it's a section of liner or adapter for cementing. Wish I had gotten a screen capture!

interesting and unexpected...

Maybe when the well came in a portion of the drill string down the well was broken off and traveled up into the wellhead area.


Maybe because the shears has two arms in the anvil,
the "2nd pipe" is just a stub off the real DP, only as long as the anvil hole is wide like 6" or so, that's folded back 180 degrees and held there by the merest sliver.

that doesnt make sense either. The shear CRAW would take a bite out and leave a short chunk missing - maybe we are seeing the short chunk tho - but i dont think it could be connected

the mystery of the two DPs.... whatever the case is, it seems ONE of the DPs was shorter than the length of the cut to the kink

take a look at the pic techdude posted, and enlarge it in your browser/viewer.

Hard to see for sure, but at the bottom the two pipes might be connect - all it would take is a sliver.

As I work it out in my head, the shear jaw came in from the back (referring to the pic), so it would have hit the left-rear 1st. The 1st piece of DP to shear would be the left-hand - the one that's not so smushed.

The short stub gets sheared off, then folds back 180 degrees into the cavity as the shear progresses.
Since the stub is much weaker than the main pipe (shorter) it is smashed more than the main pipe as the shear completes.

We'll see hopefully they get the riser section to the surface soon, if this hypothesis, or my first one (that the shear rams have cycled twice), or something else happened.

On further thought - you could be right.
The shear takes out a stub, and the flow jambs it up into the riser.

Where is the vaunted erosion? Looks like 1" wall to me.

Broken drill pipe that fell from further up the marine riser as it started to collapse? Production liner pushed up from below? Neither explanation makes much sense to me, but "junk" is a difficult answer too! Junk from where?

Wow the way that well is flowing, I dont think them BOP's are doing anything at all. They better hope the can get something over that now because if its 2 months of that rate, ill be seeing oil up here in Canada.

That flow is nothing like a completely open well, it has some solid restrictions somewhere - downhole and/or the BOP.

There are few closeup pictures of a true open well blowout as you can't get close to them. But heres a couple from a distance.



Informative pics from both sites.

It appears the blowouts on Asian Energy site have some resistance as opposed to the early 20th Century pics

Now that the riser is off (and that cut looks nasty - no way they're getting a good seal on that...) why not unbolt that flange and mate something directly to it?

or at least position the top hat WHILE they remove the bolts....I hate thinking that they can just say ok we are catching N % of the oil....we are done till august..

Has anyone answered this question, I wonder the same thing. What mechanical difficulty could exist to prevent this from being the best option? Even if there is still a stub of drill-pipe there, just bolt the new pipe over the top of it. For that matter go-ahead and put a T-valve there to redirect the flow while you bolt up a new riser. When the pressures down-hole are fully understood and in conjunction with the relief wells you then have a ready valve that can be closed.

Why is this thinking wrong? What is missing?

Also why did they orient the diamond cutter aligned parallel with the bending stress....why didn't they rotate around 90 degrees CW so the remaining riser would have a tendency to open the cut and not pinch the line? Was there something in the way?

Viking Poseidon #1 - clear view of 1st riser shear.

only one pipe inside this end.

Link to composite view of all the ROV feeds:


condensed version:


The severe bend at the top of the bop may have snapped the more brittle drill pipe before the riser laid over completely and allowed the string to drop into the partially closed bop.

Ocean Intervention III #2 just had a nice view of the BOP - the shear looks pretty good, fairly circular.
The flange must have been good reinforcement.

bring on LMRP cap #2 ASAP.

Surprisingly close/precise cut by the shear. Wouldn't it be worth it now to get the diamond saw back on there to clean up the end above the flange? Should be a much easier cut now that almost all of the riser is gone.

I don't understand how the seal at the cut will be competent enough to allow the pressure to build to a high enough level to push the gas/oil up the pipe to the surface. Perhaps the buoyancy of the gas will help lift the mixture?If my question is valid (I don't have a clue) can surface pumps be enlisted to pull the flow to the surface?

What happens is the external water pressure will push it up the pipe. Oil is less dense than water so the pressure at the bottom of a column of oil 5000' high is less than the pressure of the sea water at the same depth. It is a form of siphon.

Gas coming out of solution will add to that but it isn't necessary.

Rather than trying to clean up the shear cut, why would they not try to fit and seal around the collar (the 2 flanges bolted together)?

a containment dome that fits over the flange with an inflatable doughnut ring at the bottom inflated after the lower edge of the dome is passed the flange...

I assume that the LMRP is suspended by a string of pipe to the surface, hopefully connection to a pump suction. It seems to me that if they get establish that path and regulate the flow, they shouldn't be losing a lot of oil. The jet effect at the shear point ought to be more likely to siphon seawater in than force it back out the imperfect seal.

I would be interested in knowing about the facilities on the receiver ship. Will they let the seawater separate and pump it off, or will they send the whole collection to a coastal refinery? Maybe Texas City? That would seem like an overwhelming thing for a refinery to manage.

SO much talk and focus on technology misses the crucial series of mistakes that led up to this debacle. What we are witnessing is as much a failure of judgment resulting from a system of incentives that perverts the role of technology in many industries.

Just as our government has failed to resist the perversion of the regulatory process from being exploited by the oil industry, the BP managerial system has failed to resist the temptation to pervert their own technological acumen through misplaced attention to financial incentives.

If we don't address how the current balances of industry and regulatory incentives affect human judgment - we are destined to repeat these blunders.

(The above is also known as the "for the want of a nail" rant)

Interesting, nice clean cut by the shear (photoshopped? lol jking) Yes, if they polish it a bit by bringing in the diamond cut to smooth it out it should be pretty good. Wonder why they didn't start with the shears first (maybe the diamond cut loosened it up a bit?)

Jesus... anyone care to guesstimate the flow rate now that we've got one single outflow nozzle?

20 K bbpd seems like a pretty low number...

I'm guessing its less than that. Maybe 7 to 10K/day.

Too low, my call is in the teens, maybe pushing 20. Sometimes the angles where you are viewing the plume can play optical illusions to the true size. Like a Camera trick for making someone smaller in RL look bigger then a person who is actually taller in RL.

Anyhow, the BP vid feed has been down for a while, and Im only getting bits and pieces here and there. Anyone know of a good quality vid site to view the plume from a distance?

Yes, scroll up a page or two, someone gathered all the ROV feeds together into one URL. You can click on the one you want to see full screen.

With the gas entrained, plus the contrasting colors, its easy to overestimate the rate. My thoughts are that the rate didn't increase much at all from cutting the riser below the crimp. Interpretation: Most of the obstruction was upstream of the riser kink.

In any case, did anyone get a screen shot of the riser after they cut with the shears? It sure looked like two pieces of drill pipe next to each other on the part they are now hauling to the surface.

CNN has both Ocean Intervention III #2 - currently above the plume,

and what I think is OI3 #1, currently sawing the little tab the shear left on one side of the cut.

I can't get OI3 #1 on bp's site.

Also Skandi #1 is above the plume, pumping dispersant.

The 12,000 bpd and 20,000 bpd estimates included the kink and the riser, all of which were restrictive. Their estimate was the riser removal would increase flow by 20%.

So, does that look like more than 24,000 bpd? I don't know.

Some video and screencaps, may they be useful: http://pasaudela.blogspot.com

So I had this idea late last night, and I guess it's too late now that the riser is cut off, but ...

There was all this talk about pumping mud and stuff *down* the choke/kill lines, but couldn't you use the same lines, and the same connection to the surface, to take oil and gas *out* of the well? Since the choke/kill bypass the partially-restricted BOP, if those lines can handle the amount of flow coming out of the well, you could reduce the flow out the top of the BOP to a trickle, with no cutting or custom hardware at all.

I believe BP claimed they were going to try precisely that sometime today, goodmanj.

I guess my telepathic powers are working, then. I haven't read the news since yesterday afternoon.

The dual choke and kill lines will be used to pump oil/gas out of the well toward the bottom end (closest to ocean floor) of the BOP, like you said this will greatly alleviate the flow coming out of the now cut riser with hopefully the cap being able to catch the rest of the oil/gas that the choke and kill lines did not pump out. It's a solid plan, and I have my suspicions that this was the final main plan by BP and the top kill was more to get pressure readings (setup choke/kill lines) then anything else.

Overall, good luck BP. These next few hours will make or break you.

The Kent Wells video update that this was described on was posted May 31st.


The "Q4000 direct connect" you intuited will take "a couple more weeks" i.e. mid June.
starts at 8:05 in the video.

Then they do the "long term containment option",
a permanent floating riser as option #3, to give them faster disconnect/reconnect during a hurricane.

So I had this idea late last night, and I guess it's too late now that the riser is cut off, but ...

There was all this talk about pumping mud and stuff *down* the choke/kill lines, but couldn't you use the same lines, and the same connection to the surface, to take oil and gas *out* of the well? Since the choke/kill bypass the partially-restricted BOP, if those lines can handle the amount of flow coming out of the well, you could reduce the flow out the top of the BOP to a trickle, with no cutting or custom hardware at all.

Yep too late now, instead of the fine smooth cut of the saw, we get the axe approach now.
It sure did take the back pressure off of that saw cut though, if they were to try to finish it to get the smooth cut they said they needed to seal it with the LMRP.

It's my understanding that BP hopes to be able to do that via the kill/choke lines from the manifold.

BP plans to use the choke and kill lines as you suggest.

Hello, I am a Swedish HVAC engineer and this is my first post (excuse my poor english).

About the flowrate right now:

If the inside diameter of the riser is 18" = 0,45 m the area of the riser is 0,45 x 0,45 x pi /4 = 0,159 sqm. If the velocity of the gas/oil gushing out is 1 m/s (about 3 feet per second) it is exactly one barrel per second gushing out. There is 86400 seconds per 24 hours and that makes 86400 bpd. If the gas/oil-ratio is 0,5 there is 86400/2=43200 bpd of oil (if it is liqufied gas).

If the flowrate increased 20% after the removal of the riser there was 43200/1.2=36000 bpd before the riser was removed. And that flow has been gushing for weeks.....

This is my rough estimation. I hope i did my math properly.

And from the bottom of my heart: I really hope they will make it this time.

Oil report from Gulf Shores Alabama near the Hangout @ 101 East Beach Beach Blvd 36542. No visible oil, workers reporting oil visible on surface 7 miles away. We are in the beginning of a thunderstorm with winds of ESE 5/10 mph that are predicted to rise to 40 mph gusts. Estimates put the oil on the beaches within 14 hours. If I see any oil, I will post pictures of it here.

TinFoil I am headed that way to report on this from NOLA. would really help to get some updates, I can be reached at andyimages10001 (at) yahoo.com. Thanks.

I live in the Lower Garden District, within walking distance/streetcar ride of CBD and French Quarter, if you want to meet up. Although I suspect you are on a deadline.

eMail in my bio (just click my name)

Best Hopes,


Once the relief wells are finished and the well is finally sealed for good, does anyone know if it will be possible to remove the remains of the BOP for a post-mortem dissection? We should try to ensure that some good comes from this debacle--knowing why the BOP failed and designing more reliable equipment to prevent future disasters would provide some benefit.

This is exactly the plan and will be done. The manufacturer of the equipment will want to prove that poor maintenance by the contractor was at fault, not design or other factors under their control. The industry as a whole will want to understand a clearly as possible why this 'fail-safe' device failed.

BP was going to pour cement into BOP and wellhead, remember? The last thing they want is a good forensic exam of their bad well design or the mods that BP ordered to make BOP testing "easier."

Sorry, but this is just not the case. Cementing the well would not have prevented removal of the BOP - and the cementing will be accomplished at some point, most likely from the relief wells.

You can read BP's current analysis of the accident and plan for BOP removal here:


Top kill was going to pump cement into BOP and wellhead, remember?

and? This has absolutely nothing to do with removal of the BOP for forensics. The target of the cement was the well in any case, not the BOP.

avon -- unless BP gets a very unusual exemption from the MMS they have to re-enter the well once it's killed and set the appropriate plugs to permanently abandon the hole. They will also be required to recover the BOP and well head as well as cut the csg off below the mud line. Very difficult to imagine them getting such an exemption IMHO.

Good. Let them fry in hell when the evidence is recovered. Eleven dead, 17 injured, 100 survivors emotionally scarred, rig sunk, careers wrecked, worst oil spill in modern history, tools-up moratorium on GoM drilling probably going to cripple ATP and Mariner.

I echo others' praise for your level-headed, unemotional contribution here, Rockman. Me? Just plain pissed off. G&G is gonna take a body slam.

Question for Rockman, HO, Shelburn, or anyone who may wish to comment.

The normal course of action is to shut in the well.

Given the instability of this well, is it possible that drilling a production well to reduce the pressure is a reasonable course of action from an engineering standpoint? Let's leave aside the business, political and emotional components of such a decision if we can. Does shutting in the well leave a higher risk of a future blowout or major seep than producing enough to drop the reservoir pressure to a "safer" level, whatever that is?

Thanks to all of you for your informative posts.

Yet -- Drilling and completing a second well next to the blow out would not solve the problem. Even if the reservoir was a pressure depletion drive it might take several years for the pressure to drop low enough for the blow out to stop producing. And if it's a water drive reservoir (most likely case) the pressure would fall very little if at all over the life of the reservoir.

The most likely way they'll stop the wild well is cut it with a relief well and pump enough heavy mud into it so the back pressure exceeds the reservoir pressure.

Even filled with cement they can do a complete autopsy on it, just a bit more difficult.

Not only possible but required. BP has to reenter the hole and do a proper P&A job which means they have to remove this BOP and replace it with a good one to start the plug and abandon job. Another $100 million + hickey for BP, peanuts compared to their other problems.

Certainly they should examine it, but what is the mystery? From the descriptions I've read here:

* The control line (fiber optic) must be intact to the surface

* It is not able to shear a significant percentage of the materials that are likely to be in it (tool joints)

* It was not even maintained properly, had some some shears removed, and was known to be malfunctioning

If these points are correct, then why would you expect it to work?

Thad Allen provided some discussion of pressures in his press conference today (June 03), but he was not particularly detailed. His numbers do not compare with those presented above. He said there is estimated to be 9000 psi in the reservoir at the end of the well. He said pressures in the BOP are estimated at 3500 psi (reduced as a result of the hydrostatic pressure of the water column at 5,000 feet). Any clarification on these numbers would be welcome!

He also mentioned BP is providing two "technical" press briefings/day on clean-up and operations on seafloor. Anybody know where to find these on-line (presumably they are posting the video somewhere)?

I am assuming they are using the normal procedure of relating pressures to surface (atmospheric) pressure. A few weeks ago the reported pressures were 8,000 to 9,000 psi below the BOP and 2,650 psi above the BOP with an outside bottom pressure of 2,250 psi.

That was about a 6,000 psi drop across the BOP showing a major restriction inside the BOP and about a 400 psi drop across the kink in the riser and continuing to the end of the riser. Probably most of that was due to the kink but up to 100 psi could have been in the elevated loop in the riser if there was a slug of separated gas at that point - which would also explain the constantly changing amount of gas in the flow at the riser end.

If we assume the new pressure readings were taken at the same point as the original ones then this new information of 9,000 psi below the BOP and 3,500 psi would indicate the downhole pressure has probably stayed about the same or maybe increased while the pressure drop across the BOP is now 5,500 psi and may have dropped about 500 to 1,000 psi indicating increased flow.

This would be consistent with continuing erosion inside the BOP.

Not that I would expect BP to have done so, but does anyone know if an ROV has followed the plume to the surface/point where it becomes to tenuous to see/stalls in the water column?

Not sure if I have this right. If it does not follow right please excuse me. High Tension made an excellent post. ( I was writing a reply and then was not allowed to comment!) Many of us took a passing interest technically assuming everything that could be done, was being done. Recently I had a few days off and watched the ROV footage and gathered a little data. High Tension's analysis of corporate response to major threats is correct. I might be a little unfair, but it seems there are one hell of a lot of gadgets on the sea bed and people want solutions that involve playing with them. Stopping a column of oil 3 1/2 miles long and 20" diameter moving at upwards of 20 m/s is not just a case of closing a valve, when there is nowhere else for it to go. The momentum is huge. If the concrete holding the wellhead in, was not fractured before, it should have been after the attempt at the hot stab. The Hot Kill idea of squirting mud down a column was never going to work. You needed to stop the mass of oil coming up first and that was going to take a long time with a massive force and obtaining the reaction to the force was going to be the tricky bit. You look at images of a circular saw being held in a 3d robot arm and wince. Before the first cut was made you knew the blade would jam. Rigid clamp each side, common frame to brace the pipe and hold even when cut, then drive in blade and slice. I watched Kent Wells make a good case for not using the Shear to cut the vertical riser but rather use the diamond blade only yesterday. Many commentators have said "why did they start that side". After it jammed now we see the very thing being used they said they would not use. Corporate think, not critical think. We, without specialist industry knowledge, are wincing too often. However, I don't think anyone from outside is going to be listened to. From my survey of the BP site they have now given up on stopping the flow and are just going for containment. Well head integrity ? Will the BOP and associated pipework lift off if they attempt to stop flow with any sort of device attached to it? I don't know what happens to the flow out of the vertical upriser when the ship disengages in a hurricane. Squirts into the ocean again ?
I wish them luck. Thank you high Tension for expressing what many of us feel.

In yesterdays open thread ExArcoCompanyMan and myself made some posts on the casing design, particularly how it was not designed for well control but merely to get to TD, and how the casing design for the relief well needs to be different than the original well.

EACM http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6551#comment-638210
ov http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6551#comment-638599

I think it is an important subject that gets buried and missed in the daily thread. Could we have a topic on casing design for the relief well? Something that won't fill up in a day with well cam commentary.

Excellent idea.

What about threads for:

1 - Cause of original blow out (including casing design)

2 - Oil containment and subsea recovery

3 - Surface spill control/dispersant issues

4 - ROV live feed and political commentary discussion

Good Idea !

Send it to the eMail address on right border of page.

Best Hopes,


A subject that really needs expansion to the point of bursting.

note to ov - didn't the MMS approve them using the exact same well design for both relief wells?

Perhaps son. With the drilling history of the blow out well they should have a pretty good idea how to design the RW's. The first well in an area is always the most difficult to design as a rule.

Thanks Rock. X-Arc and ov seem to be saying that well design should be modified, as its defective. It certainly looks defective, but you guys know, not me. Anyway, I guess the worst case here would be if both RWs blow out, this would become an unlikely 3 in 1 million event.

Wow. I'm assuming that the MMS is the equivalent of the ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board) up here in Canada. If the MMS has approved the same casing design it looks like they didn't learn anything from the first well. Plus I would think we have to proceed with the possibility that higher formations are being charged up from underground blowout. This has all the makings of burning down another rig.

This is off-topic in regards to the mechanics of the oil containment problem, but I wasn't sure if there has been a discussion about this subject yet here at the Oil drum.
I want to leave the comment here because this site is the best I have seen in terms of really analyzing the many details of the whole larger problem.
So, this comment is not about the oil spill per se, but about health effects, and in particular, health effects at a distance, possibly caused by gases and fumes.

I live in northeastern Kansas. As the crow flies, I am about 800 miles from the well site. I am sixty years old. And for much of the past week, I have been experiencing considerable nausea with no discernible cause.

It is not the same as nausea from stomach flu or bad food. I don't need to throw up, but just feel nauseous. It's somewhat like sea-sickness, but not exactly. Actually, it is the same kind of feeling I used to get on my dad's sailboat when the engine was running and I was in the cabin, when I was a kid. It also is the same kind of nausea I have felt before briefly, after getting a whiff of natural gas or propane.

There is no aroma in the air that I can discern that would indicate that petroleum gases are in this local air. But it seems a funny coincidence.

I have read that when the Empire State Building was going up in 1931, at one point workers on the high steel were pelted with wheat or barley from Nebraska or Oklahoma- a much greater distance than the distance from here to the Deepwater Horizon site.
A breeze from the south might take two or three days from the gulf to my house. So there's no doubt that it is possible, even likely, and maybe certain, that petroleum gases are or will be, before long, in the air over much of the continental U.S.

It kind of depends on the total size of the gas volume coming out of the well.

There has been very little discussion that I've seen in the press about the effects of the gases, how far they will travel, is it a risk for who and where, et cetera.

So, I am looking for estimates about the total size of the gas problem. There are X thousand miles of oil on the water, and a huge, huge amount of gas and evaporaned liquid fractions. These molecules are in the air, somewhere, rather like the "dispersed" oil destroying the underwater world stealth-fashion.
How much gas is there? What gases and vapors is it made of, and in what proportions? Is there enough volume so that it is dangerous to health, despite dilution in the atmosphere?

I know some of it was burned off. I've heard a number of reports of people in close contact with the oil and fumes getting sick from it.
Is it too far-fetched to wonder if the gas from that well could be actually making me feel sick 24/7 800 miles away? I know that at that distance, there would be tremendous dilution. However, if the gas cloud coming out of the hole in the sea is as large as I suspect it might be, maybe it is not unreasonable to wonder if fumes may be affecting me all the way up here in Kansas.

So, I decided to put this out as a topic, and hopefully start a discussion, and find out if other people either close to the well site or at a considerable distance are also experiencing unexplainable nausea.
Thanks for any input.

Is it too far-fetched to wonder if the gas from that well could be actually making me feel sick 24/7 800 miles away?


I think worrying about it could make you sick. It is making me sick (I live in the Florida Keys, and I am literally worried sick about what the spill is going to do to my property values and my way of life that involves diving on the reef and fishing.

The major consequences to public health from the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident was public anxiety. It is real.

There's a fair body of evidence that the TMI region had some real, scary health effects that seem rather underreported. The following article is a good summary. I agree with your general point on stress.

I can't say enough about how much B.S. there is in that report. The basic claim here is that anecdotal evidence collected by a reporter and a technician level 'expert' is superior in reliability to peer-reviewed literature and a Presidential Commission.

I can't believe people swallow this stuff. It is no different from claims that space aliens built the pyramids.

I'd be less easy to swallow if:
* the EPA didn't lie about the air in Manhattan after 9/11, before even doing any tests.
* the FDA didn't cave to drug companies about drug safety
* the USDA didn't allow CAFOs to feed grain to ruminants and use anti-biotics as a matter of course
* Vermont Yankee's operator didn't lie about not having any pipes under the plant to leak anything.

It's absolutely clear from the technical summary that the TMI instrument air cross-connect with shop air was the issue, but the weasel words now are original cause unknown.
Corporations would rather spend millions on lawyers and get a hit of power than a few thousand on sufficient air compressor capacity.

The evidence wasn't collected by the reporter, although it was obviously compiled by the reporter as a necessary precursor for writing an article.

Hundreds of documented cases of illness and death following the pattern of radiation poisoning in people and animals hardly seems like anecdotal evidence that should be ignored. Just this week BP was claiming that spill workers exposed to fumes were coming down with food poisoning. Is our need for denial that great?

Sounds like you got a pretty fair case for some BP cash. I'd retain a lawyer for certain.

I would look at stress first.

The winds are typically from West to East, so I'd think you wouldn't get much of the fumes.
The poor SOBs on their boats surrounded by slicks are another issue - I cannot believe the EPA/OSHA isn't making BP provide respirators - well, I don't want to accept they aren't anyway.

I think this event is stressful in several ways.

1. it threatens the Gulf fisheries, and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of your fellow humans. We're social animals, empathic to our fellows, and to some degree nature.

2. we're still in an economic slump, we don't need more bad news.

3. there is a element of suspense and race against time - getting the well contained before a hurricane comes - and who knows what will happen then?

4. there is an element of out-of-control complexity. We'd all love to help - but how? They decided not to use hair boom, their suggestion box is overflowing, you can't drive up to the site and start bailing with your bucket. It's very easy to presume one is individually helpless. (the politicians/wall street have long indoctrinated us to think that, so they can make brownie points/big bucks "helping" us.)

5. At some level, even un-consciously, people have some idea that this is related to peak oil - and that is just too scary to talk about (c.f. Dick Cheney "The American way of life is non-negotiable").
Why are these guys in 5000 feet of water, spending a million dollars a day drilling for oil - what happened to the cheap stuff?

6. We've trusted the "authorities" for so long, and now their incompetence/corruption is getting more and more obvious: dubious wars with profiteering, wall street bailouts, auto bailouts, MMS sex/drug/"gifts"/lax rules/... scandals, sexual predators as priests, ... - are we at the fall of the empire?
Who can one trust?

Here's one link to a peak oil psychology site:

Our economy, ecology, psychology and spirituality are all threatened by the implications of peak oil/peak everything.

I'm feeling the stress too.

sunnnv said: 5. At some level, even un-consciously, people have some idea that this is related to peak oil - and that is just too scary to talk about (c.f. Dick Cheney "The American way of life is non-negotiable").
Why are these guys in 5000 feet of water, spending a million dollars a day drilling for oil - what happened to the cheap stuff?

No, that's just a reaction by people who are programmed to think that way. Objective folks have no such reactions. Here's the TRUE message... We're a victim of our own carefulness. Combined, of course, with a human tendency to become complacent. Drill tens of thousands of wells, and one goes wrong? That's odds better than flying commercial airlines, driving your car, or building hydroelectric dams. Why the complacency... It's human nature to forget that very, very difficult things, done with extraordinary means and extremely good knowledge, are still very difficult, and that the consequences of failure are sharp. This happened with space travel, as well. It became so routine that when finally, one of the 80 billion things that could go wrong did, as much of a scientific marvel as they are - bleeding edge technology - we were stunned, shocked, and demanded punishment and were outraged.

Not to suggest in any way that the "solution" is more accidents, but just a simple recognition that with success at things that have the capacity for extreme peril, after a time, we become complacent, that's just human nature.

Political exploiters wish to use it to further their interests, whatever they are, politicians exploit it for whatever gain they can find, to tap into the emotion to try to manipulate people. All are dishonest, and know it. No facts have changed since 60 days ago. Only emotions. I refuse to be emotionally swayed into ceding power over my life to politicians just because they hunger for it. And for those who seek to have them do it for their agenda... I am unmoved. More importantly, I am offended, deeply, by the exploiters. Outraged, is more accurate.

So you are saying that those who accept the idea of peak oil and see a linkage to this event are political exploiters attempting to further their interests?

I'm saying that there is no logical connection. None. Sorry. This is just an accident. The accident is an accident, whether it's the first well, last well, only well, or even if the world has more than it ever could imagine using.

No linkage exists, it is simply people looking for emotional means to advance an agenda.

Whether you think that "peak oil" is now, was 3 decades ago, or is 168 years in the future has no bearing on this, nor has the disaster any influence on that concept. It just remind me of someone I used to know, who, when seeing a car accident, opined that he wished the car had never been invented, and car accidents were proof it should not have been. Never mind that cars are fantastically safer than horseback travel by immense proportions, that wasn't his concern, it was simply his emotional reaction to it.

hi fisherseye - you ask a good question regarding the effects of this blow-out on the atmosphere, but beyond that, i think many people are completely nauseated by the episode itself, regardless of where they live. i'm in california and i too feel plenty queasy - as the planet hemorrhages, so do we...

I'm in Texas-about 400-500 miles away from the blow out. No symptoms.

It sounds almost like a type of vertigo? Which is not an uncommon condition.

I would go to the doctor

The worst part is that, the spill was statistically predictable: the more we drill offshore, the higher the certainty of a spill to occur.

We need new think and more powerful environmental approaches like the one here: Restructuring Economies: A Global Warming, Renewable Energy, Resource Conservation, and Toxic Contaminant Solution

You can get explore in more details the aspects of the strategy at:

Climate Change--Carbon Emissions--Recycling--Toxic Contaminants--Non-Renewable Resources & Energy--Hybrid/Electric Cars--Population Growth

David, It's not just drilling offshore nor BP. Take a look at what Chevron have been doing in Ecuador.
Recent media coverage of the massive contamination Chevron left behind in Ecuador's rainforest region has helped the affected communities rally critical support for their cause. But now Chevron is attacking journalists for daring to explore their toxic legacy in the Amazon.

Chevron has dragged Joe Berlinger, director of the award-winning film CRUDE, into court, demanding that he turn over all 600+ hours of footage shot during the making of the film. Chevron wants to scour the footage for any material that might help its relentless public relations schemes to try to discredit the plaintiffs and their attorneys who are suing for environmental clean-up.

This is another shocking chapter in Chevron's belligerent and well-financed strategy to evade responsibility in Ecuador. And it has the added effect of sending a clear message to other journalists: "If you criticize Chevron, we'll drag you into court."

But maybe because it's not happening in the US that makes it OK????

Not a huge point tony but Chevron hasn't operated in Ecuador for many years. The pollution in question was done by Texaco back in the 90's and earlier. Chevron acquired Texaco and inherited the problem. As far as recent pollution problems it been rather well documented this has done by the state run oil company.

Hi Rock,

First thanks for your excellent work on this catastrophe.

Perhaps TOD should make a charge for allowing contributions during say the first 60 days as do some other sites to help defray the costs.

I know that Chevron/Texaco haven't operated in Ecuador for many years but Chevron inherited Texaco's toxic legacy when it bought the company in 2001 and there were ongoing legal actions in New York so they knew about it. As part of the purchase they must have carried out due diligence. A milestone was reached in 2008, when a court-appointed independent expert recommended that Chevron be held liable for damages between $7 billion and $16.3 billion. That assessment of the damages was upped to $27 billion in November 2008, reflecting contamination, cancer deaths, and clean up costs previously unaccounted for. Experts had called the damage the worst oil related contamination on the planet - but that could be overtaken here.

My main concern is that the company has engaged in repeated attempts to subvert the judicial process, ranging from the use of deceptive sampling techniques in scientific studies of the contamination, to lobbying efforts in Washington to tie the renewal of Ecuador's trade privileges to its dismissal of the case. So yes it happened in the past but chevron are working hard to avoid any liability.

What happened in Ecuador is small potatoes compared to the Niger delta. Portions of that area (very similar to the Mississippi delta) look like scenes out of a disaster movie. Everyone should spend some time there.

Does anyone know what those smaller riser pipes are for (that went up alongside the main 21" riser pipe)? I noticed that they go down thru the flange, and I was curious if they were closed to the seawater on the BOP side of the flange. I figure they were part of the hydraulics for the BOP, but I wanted to confirm/deny said assumption.

smaller pipes:
* choke and kill lines - go (via valves) to inside the BOP to allow pressure venting and/or mud injection to control well kicks.
* hydraulics for the BOP
* control/sensor/power cables for the BOP

pipes in flange:
some of they were open to the seawater when they re-routed the choke/kill lines for the top-kill attempt.
Now closed off.
see 06:02 in the May 31 video:

Looks like they are putting the saw blade in position again. Ocean intervention III, ROV2 video. Blade oriented vertically. Trying to clean up stub?

Again, why don't they try to fit and seal around the collar rather than the short, messed up stub of a pipe above it?

Again, why don't they try to fit and seal around the collar rather than the short, messed up stub of a pipe above it?

That's exactly what they are doing. They have two connectors. One has a "face seal" grommet meant to contact a clean-cut face and they have another that seals around the outside diameter of the flange. That is the one rigged to the riser. I saw them both late last night and saw them begin to rig the O.D. sealing variety.

You can see it at this link: http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in...

Enterprise ROV 2

Thank you. Very helpful information. This might quiet some of the "cut the bolts" comments also.

The live BP feed from Skandi ROV1 positioned just above the flange showed another ROV using a small rotary saw to cut the bolts on the flange. Looks like they are going to either remove the flange, or free up some bolt holes to anchor another device over the cut riser.

The flow looks darker and less turbulent than several weeks ago---less LNG percentage, maybe? That would help the recovery schemes.

The other day I saw some statement that the temperature at the leak points was higher than it had been. My guess was that it was the result of reduced chilling effect due to reduced gas content.

Now we see them cutting a big bur at the edge of the mangled claw cut.

It's not too late to get those bolts cut.

Just tuned in to see what's happening. Looks pretty rough down there at the moment, what's the white plum coming from the small pipe?


Okay, as a fluid mechanics guy, I'm watching some extreme closeups of the exit at the top of the cut riser, and I'm *fascinated*. You've got this violently turbulent mixed oil/gas flow, and every now and again you get a surge of gas coming up. You can see the white gas bubbles blast out into the water, and then I *think* you can actually see the gas react with water to form clathrate! The texture and color change suddenly, it looks like a "crust" forms on the outside of the bubble plume, and the crusty stuff rises much more slowly than the bubbles.

Another observation: we're about to start seeing a *lot* more oil at the surface of the Gulf until they get this capped. Before they cut off the riser, we were seeing highly emulsified tiny droplets coming out of the leaks -- basically the aerosol spray can effect. The orange color we saw indicates the droplets were small enough to be partially transparent. But now you can see solid oil coming out the cut end, and the plume is pitch black, meaning the droplets are much larger, and will rise to the surface a lot faster, where the TV helicopters can see it. Better get that cap on quick!

... and I just notice that the Skandi Neptune "dispersant ops" ROV has started pumping out a *lot* more dispersant. Maybe BP figured this out too.

Quick back-of-the-envelope rate calculation of flow rate. The good news is, we can now see the oil+gas coming out "pure", and don't have to worry about mixing and entrainment with water. The flow right at the exit of the riser seems to rise 1 riser diameter in about 0.5-1.0 seconds. If the riser's 21 inches in diameter, that works out to a flow of OIL + GAS of 0.15-0.3 m^3/s. If that were all oil, that'd work out to 80,000-160,000 barrels a day! Last month we talked a lot about oil/gas ratios, amount of gas dissolved in the oil, etc. The flow seems to have much less gas in it than it used to, by my eye, but it's still quite possible that half or 2/3 of this is gas. So I'd say we could be anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 barrels a day at the moment.

Still, I did a similar calculation last month that guesstimated in the 15,000-30,000 bpd range. Lots of later calculations came out in the same ballpark. Now, I think I can safely say the flow is above that number.

I want to emphasize that my flow rate math should be intended for comparison with last month only, and not as the God-given truth.

any calculation at the instantaneous using mass flow relations is not representative. the GOR(gas oil ratio) will be changing throughout the day and that is just reservoir response characteristics to flow.....the response in the reservoir is in transient phase ...so occasional high flow bursts of oil and gas are to be expected.....as reservoir starts to feel boundary effects (mind you this has to be a big reservoir) the reservoir will start shifting over to PSS and flow characteristics will change again.....anything below measuring flow for a 24 hr period is not representative or at best extremely hard to extrapolate...

the changes you are mentioning are not changing flow rates but the fact the the orifice through which flow is coming has increased in the diameter and so the essentially the del P across the leaks has changed considerably due the the change in orifice dia.....so what you were seeing happen previously the momentt HC's got out the small leaks....now the same process is happening but over a longer delta height...since the only variable in entrenched gas coming out of oil is del P

They just showed a closeup of the "tab" that's protruding from the left side of the riser. I think that the tab is actually a section of crimped, or folded riser, a sort-of "V-shaped section.

If I'm right, then the riser isn't formed in 19" circle (21-inch riser pipe of 1" wall thickness, but a more elliptical shape, maybe with an internal cross section of 16" x 12".

If that's the case, what does that do to your calculation of output?

That'd reduce the cross-sectional area by a factor of 2, which would reduce the calculated flow rate by a factor of 2. Still puts my best guess at >20,000 bpd.

But the view I'm looking at shows no significant change in diameter on one axis -- it could be squashed to hell in the other direction, but the camera doesn't show it. And generally if you squish a circle into an ellipse, as it gets shorter on one axis, it gets longer on the other.


The more I look at it, the more I think that your original calculation, which assumes a round riser, is probably okay, because the riser below the bottom of the "tab" is probably round, due to the fact that the bottom of the tab is likely the cut made by the diamond wire saw.

The act of shearing caused the partially cut pipe above the cut to crush and fold on itself before the support from the non-cut section of the pipe provided strength.

My guess is that we're looking at the equivalent of a circle with a 1" width section of riser standing vertically within the flow, sort of like overlaying a lower case "p" on a lower case "o", with the right side of the curves aligned.

BTW, I understand what you're saying about crushing a circle into an ellipse, and axis shorter/longer point, but what I was initially assuming was that the folded-over section of pipe would reduce the circumference by 4"-6" (maybe more since it's hard to get a sense of scale,) and you would have an smaller ellipse with a "tail".

But as I said in my earlier response, I don't believe that that's the shape that we're looking at, but rather, a 19" inside diameter circle that has a vertical section standing within the flow.

Interesting goodman. Thanks for the analysis. Did you take into consideration the amount of oil and gas that was also leaking out of the end of riser pipe, way beyond the bend/kink? The volume looked rather substantial amount of "solid oil", so-to speak.

Assuming you're talking about the calculation I did last month, that *was* on the end of the riser pipe, way beyond the kink. That was back when all we had was 10 seconds of non-live video of the riser end. At the time, the flow from the BOP kink was considered negligible.

Here are my comments from back then:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6458/622538 (based on a short live video clip)
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6464/622973 (revision)

The negative comments people made back then are good ones which remain true, but it's worth pointing out that my result last month turned out to be very close to results found by a wide range of serious guys getting paid money to do this. Of course, we could all be making the same bad assumptions.

Contact: Eben Burnham-Snyder, Chairman Ed Markey, 202-225-4012

Markey: BP Releases 12-Camera Feed

BP Follows Markey Request to Provide More Footage, With Pipe Cut Scientists Can Assess Change in Flow Rate

WASHINGTON (June 3, 2010) – As BP attempts today to place the “top cap” containment dome on their oil spill source 5,000 below the Gulf of Mexico, the company finally relented to calls from Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and is now providing the live video feeds from all 12 possible rovers operating below the surface.

“These dozen views of the spill will finally provide the American public and independent observers the unfettered access needed to assess both the progress and destruction happening a mile below the Gulf,” said Rep. Markey, who first called and put up a live feed of the spill on Thursday, May 20th. “The release of the Spillcam brought the urgency of this disaster into homes across the United States, and this new level of transparency will allow for robust, real-time information to the world.”

Now that the pipe at the top of the blowout preventer has been cut, this video is more important than ever. Scientists can now use it to reassess the change in flow rate, and better determine the true size and scope of this disaster.

The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which Rep. Markey chairs, has been providing a streaming feed of the 12 possible cameras to television networks for the last week to improve transparency of the operations. These new 12 Internet feeds will now be available on the Select Committee website, http://globalwarming.house.gov/spillcam, and on BP’s website at http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9033572&contentId=7062605.

On Monday, Chairman Markey sent a letter to BP America CEO Lamar McKay reiterating his request for the 12 camera feeds. Rep. Markey cited the lag time in information given to the public during the failed "top kill" attempt to seal the still-spilling BP oil well, and some discrepancies in camera angles and availability during those operations, as reasons to provide the 12 camera feed for future operations. This followed several other calls from Rep. Markey to provide all 12 feeds.

Hi Guys,

Something has occurred to me, after the cap is fitted the oil/gas will travel up the riser, as it gets to the surface am I right in thinking that it will have expanded by a factor of about 150 times it's sea bed volume, how is the riser which is the same diameter at the sea bed and the surface going to cope with this volume ?, surely it would have to be a much larger diameter at the surface than at the sea bed.

Am I missing something ?

Just realized that it will only be the gas which expands

Since they'll have to throttle at the surface to prevent water entrainment that will help keep gas volume down. The more gas the less fluid mass, so the more throttling will be needed.

The physics and operation is just the same as for the siphon straw from a couple of weeks ago, only with a (hopefully) better seal, so they should have a pretty good idea of what they'll be dealing with at the top.

If they can inject hot methanol or such to prevent clathrate deposits, they might get just about all the oil along with some water. I hope.

There was considerable discussion about this in some early threads during the time they were deploying the original containment dome.

Essentially this flow is very similar to a producing oil/gas well and the flow will be controlled at the surface so the only a small portion of the gas expansion will happen in the riser going to the surface but will happen as it leaves the separator vessel to the flare.

I would not believe anything that Markey "the grandstander" says. Allen specifically said BP responded to a request from him(Allen )to get all the feeds. Still waiting for Markey's MIT guys to tell the folks down there how to fix it. (Lived his typical blather during the hearings) Anybody who who does not belivieve an oil company but would believe a congressman, well do I have a CBO forecast to give you. Anybody yesterday listen to the NOAA briefing speaking of all the high powered folks the feds sent down to help BP? The one thing that was mentioned was the Sandia Lab imaging device. Not one other thing. That particular aid was mentioned by BP the day they got it there.
BP has screwed up many things and may go out of business; however, the idea that other people and pols are unbiased or believable is funny.
I used to think that CNN provided some sense of sanity between MSNBC and FOX bit they have shown themselves to have gone to the level of the others in their lack of any factual reporting and any sort of basic understanding of anything--ah 24 hour news channels.

Not to mention how freaked out Wolf Blitzer always seems to be in "The Situation Room" -- though probably anyone who had to follow multiple breaking global crises in front of millions of viewers would be (freaked out).

Someone needs to cancel the Red Alert we have all been on since 9/11 and/or 24/7 news.

(Wow. 3/adjacent/slashes. A personal best.)

Looks like Ocean Intervention III's ROV2 just accidently dropped (lost) the circular saw that had been attempting to cut off the square metal obstruction at the side of the riser stub.

My bad. They just suddently rotated it out of frame. I see it again. (Phew!) d:^)

I looked away for a second - did they break the saw blade? Nevermind - they got it back. Emily Latella moment here.

Did anyone actually see the Claw in action last night, when it cut off the riser pipe near the top of the BOP? It must have happened in the wee small hours of the morning.

The result (as seen just a moment ago) looks fairly clean, considering the method. The top of the riser is cut straight across at about a 15 degree angle. Oh-oh, there's a big chunk of pipe missing from the back side that runs down to the point where the diamond saw had been working. That makes it a pretty rough cut, altogether.

Does anyone know if there is a video clip of the Claw event?

If you have a good link for viewing the multiple ROV video feeds in an easy to read/load format, please post it in a reply here.

Thank you.

Try this, from aways above


It looked like it locked up my safari (mac) browser, but after waiting 3-4 min I have my choice of several cameras. If there seems to be a picture but is it locked up, double click on that one to restart the streaming video.

Link to composite view of all the ROV feeds:


condensed version, 1280px or smaller window:


For posterity:


Re: The mxl/fi/bpfeeds, you can resize any of the individual videos (including full screen) via a right click. Esc returns to the composite view.

Appreciations to everyone who was being helpful by answering.

Even if the links are the same, you make the board a friendlier place.

Thank you.

The biggest problem with the placement of their “cut” is that it is right above a large steel flange and they will not be able to place a larger pipe over the original casing because this flange will get in the way. This was stupid. They should have cut this pipe below the riser not above it.

Please people you need to stop thinking like BP thinks they just want to find a way to tap this well not plug it. If they were really interested in preventing anymore oil from polluting the ocean they could pump concrete into the well and plug it forever. And this they could have done on day one.

On a side note here is a six slide set of drawings that would plug this well as well as allow the extraction of the oil at a later date. Only I prefer CONCRETE from top to bottom.


btw the relief wells are nothing but a ploy to drill more wells into that same reservoir. The chances of actually hitting the original bore hole (24” di) is about 1 in 500. Not good odds but the chances of hitting the oil reservoir is a 100% possibility.

Look at the post above at 11:17 am, replying to a post from me. They plan to seal around the flange, not above it.

There are a few truths that arise from your comments:
1. You have virtually no knowledge of the oil industry.
2. If you honestly believe that BP could have capped this immediately, but instead have let it flow to "collect their profits" you live in a fantasy world driven by conspiracy theories.
3. You are an ideologue motivated by hatred for oil companies (yet you drive a car and heat your house).

There are many technologies which will allow BP to intercept the wellbore. Once done, killing the well is an entirely different and much more difficult problem.

As an energy industry employee and now former BP shareholder, I am as angry as anyone about what is going on- but let's try to keep to educated facts and stop ridiculous conspiracy theories.


Where do all these "theories" come from?

I am floating the idea "why not" on the basis that I think the original operation of the BOP valve wrecked chances for success in this style and I want an industry experienced individual to confirm or dispel. My proposal is that the integrity of the pipe below the riser is already compromised and cannot take the static pressure of the dome below. Sticking a tap on the top will just cause leakage in the last few hundred feet of the pipe before the seafloor. Short of excavating down 200 feet and observing, and repairing, this is a no-go. The column of oil is 3 1/2 miles long, that is around 300 tons of oil all moving at what, 6 feet/second. That is an awful lot of momentum to take away and maybe the initial firing of the BOP attempted to stop it and then fractured its moorings and caused the lack of integrity. further I understand that the relief wells have cracking 3 dimensional orientation capability and will be able to intercept the original well bore.

Aoe - BP is reportedly speculating that they were losing significant Top Kill mud at 1'000 feet below the wellhead. I would think patching it from the outside is flat-out impossible. As I understand it, to sink the wider casings (36", 28", and maybe 22"), they use a water jet and the casings just follow it down. When that stops, they can hammer the casings down. In other words, the seabed is mush. I believe they have to go below the water table to assure sealing it off from O&G effluent. Once they get that deep, a large amount of concrete is poured, and you have a spud that has a lot of steel and concrete layers, all tested, that form the backbone of the well - very deep, very wide, very heavy. Then they install the BOP and LMRP and Riser packages and resume drilling. So when people started talking about this backbone popping up out of the ground (hyperbolic I hope), I was in disbelief. I am just an O&G investor, so what I know is very limited, but honestly, I readily admit to being stunned that engineers and regulators settled for a such a design in the ocean.

I do not think congress will allow ocean drilling until there is a well design that will not allow the wings to fall off under shut-in pressure. It can't be, even if true, "Well, if all these human beings follow proper procedures, it's unlikely." IMhO, that will not fly again.

The RW will locate the well, penetrate it, and kill it. If not, that I know of there's never been an if not. If not becomes so, I think they would attempt to use nuclear explosives. That will work and the Russians will be handed the reins of our government!

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc may have to sell some of its most-valued assets, including a stake in the biggest U.S. oil field, to pay cleanup costs, fines and legal damages from the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.

The 26 percent stake in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope and other BP assets could attract suitors such as China National Petroleum Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Hess Corp., said Douglas Ober, chief executive officer at Petroleum & Resources Corp. in Baltimore, the oldest U.S. oil fund.

So long, Tony.

avon -- it's also good to appreciate that the 6 month moritorium on DW drilling will open up over $5 billion of budgeted money by those players. They aren't going to be happy just slidding those funds into T-bills. The acquisition market just got a huge cash infusion that MUST BE SPENT this year.

I am sure the budgeting folks are looking at a number of "what if scenarios".
A lot also depends on what legislation gets moved through quickly and the latest price forecasts. If the administration does not cool it a bit the money may just be headed for overseas projects or go to stock buybacks. Depending on what happens there may be layoffs at many of the companies.

RM - where region/s do you think the thrust of this freed money will head to ??

a lil bit maybe in tight gas around the Rockies .....maybe oil sands up in Fort McMurray and surrounding in Alberta ????

be interested in hearing your's and anybody else's opinion who are senior petroleum geologists and/or senior reservoir people

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that said Brazil was delaying accepting/finalizing bids on 26 DW wells. Maybe they figured some people would be a lot hungrier in a few weeks.


I guess those Cajuns who work offshore will be spending their last few US dollars on Portuguese language learning courses ;-)

ali -- it's a big bag of money and the folks that need to spend can't go shopping for nickle and dime projects IMHO. They don't have the personnel/time to buy into a $1 or $3 million project when they have $400 million to spend. Over seas would be one bet but they already have to be working in some play. Even if they're just going to be check writer and let someone else do all the work they still can only move so fast. My final guess would be acquisitions. Given what producing properties are selling for today a company could drop a $1 billion easily on one deal. But they still have to find that deal and, more importantly, be the high bidder. I would guess 80% of the acquistion deals I've bid on were won by another party.

RM -- appreciate the insight

Ahhh, set ARCO free.

The BP Plc has fallen quit a bit now, what is your thoughts about if PetroChina would buy BP and make the company to a Chinese company.
Would that make the oil that BP produces not available to the world market, and what would that mean to the price and quantity.

rand -- Depends where the production is and the details of the concession/lease. Oil produced from the OCS cannot be sold overseas without the approval of our gov't. But I suspect some of the BP prodcution might be removed from the market place if China buys them.

Why is BP concentrating on the damaged riser pipe - just inches from the nice fat healthy flange?

Again, as explained to me in the post at 11:17 am above, they do plan to go around the flange. But this thing they are cutting may be in the way of doing that.

Already asked a thousand times.

The answer we have been getting from local experts, is that these bolts are too big to untorque - ROVs apparently can't really do it.

They can cut the bolts and free up the upper flange, for a nice mating surface of the lower flange, bring in an industry standard connector and seal it up properly, for a "production" mode of oil containment. This well certainly is producing and you certainly don't want to try to close it up at this point - the seals are very likely to go all over.

For reasons I don't understand they preferred to mangle the upper pipe (already bent from the riser collapse) and come in with a very poor semi-sealed contraption.

However, we (engineers, but not oil engineers) keep being told that the folks working this are "the best of the best" and we shouldn't really question their decisions.

I think good people have explained why removing the bolts isn't likely to happen. I believe they ARE intending to seal around the flange. Something only heard about in a BP info video there is yet another cap device (don't recall the name) that will go over this flange, perhaps that will mate to the flange who knows. They HAD to get the riser out of the way for any of these containment methods, the diamond saw wasn't cutting it. As far as mangled? dosn't look mangled at all to me, looks like a great cut. CNN actually has yet another feed beyond the 12 we've all been watching (its the alternate streaming feed). Big thanks for the posting of the html code!

Looks like the plan at the moment is to continue removing bolts at the BOP riser flange? At least one bolt, possibly two, appear to be already removed, leaving 10-11 still to go? The box-shaped device (on sidewall of riser pipe/stub) looks like it will obstruct access to one nut & bolt; I presume that's the primary reason they're trying to cut it off.

Design of wellhead and Christmas tree equipment is covered under API 6A “Specification for Wellhead and Christmas Tree Equipment.”

A 21 ¼ inch nominal 5000 psi rated flange under this specification has 24-2 inch bolts. The recommended torque for these bolts is 3083 ft-lb per bolt. Sometimes instead of toque, they will stretch the studs.

Flange design is covered under ASME Section VIII mandatory Appendix 2. A properly functioning pair of flanges must meet three design conditions. First, the bolt load-24 2 inch bolts-must be enough to seat the gasket. At first blush this would appear not to be very large. However, the force to seat a gasket-spiral wound or ring type-can be enormous. The oil field is accustomed to using RTJ flanges because of the high pressures. This means the flanges must seat a metallic ring. The ring is always softer than the flange seat so that galling does not occur.

Second, the seal must not leak under internal pressure. The internal pressure will try to part the flanges so the bolt load must be able to seat the gasket and resist the internal pressure.

Third, the bolt load must resist any overturning moment. This moment is almost always caused by external loads from the piping. For a 5000 foot riser the loads due to vortex shedding, weight, and the movement from the ships can be enormous.

Sometimes the bolts just can not develop enough total tension to resist all these loads and the flange will part causing leakage. Then plan B kicks in.

The specs for the flange was posted earlier. 6 bolts 3 and 7/8" diameter, very high torque.

Is the Enterprise ROV 2 Cam showing the device they intend to place once they get the cut trimmed up?


You can peruse through all the ROV cams here:


yep - that's LMRP Cap #2, cleverly painted "4".

designed to seal around the flange edge.

was a bit of a struggle to get it hooked to the riser earlier this morning, now looking ready to place, once they get this little tab trimmed off the riser stub.

n.b. if they're having this much trouble trimming a little flat flap of regular steel, think how much trouble it would be to try and cut the high alloy bolts.
(looking at OI3 ROV2 for the trimming)


You can few all cams on one page. Double click to view in full screen.

Only seems to work in IE for some reason.

Can anyone tell us WHAT that box thing IS that they are trying to cut off on the side of the riser pipe? My sense in seeing how clean the cut is albeit at a slight angle that they may want to try the LMRP cap no.1 again... even if not the box seems to protrude just far enough that it may interfere with the seal intended to go around the flange, even if not it may impede the effort to lower the cap onto said flange. Looks like oil is actually puffing out from beneath this box? They just zoomed in tight on it to have a look. If anyone knows what this may be please post. Thanks

I believe it's a folded-over section of the riser pipe, the bottom of which is probably the "cut line" from the diamond wire saw. Since anything above that cut line wouldn't be supported by the mass of metal still attached to the flange, it crushed more easily as the shear began to make its cut.

"Can anyone tell us WHAT that box thing IS that they are trying to cut off on the side of the riser pipe? My sense in seeing how clean the cut is albeit at a slight angle that they may want to try the LMRP cap no.1 again... even if not the box seems to protrude just far enough that it may interfere with the seal intended to go around the flange, even if not it may impede the effort to lower the cap onto said flange. Looks like oil is actually puffing out from beneath this box? They just zoomed in tight on it to have a look. If anyone knows what this may be please post. Thanks"

It seems to me that they are trimming the outside of the cut and that the "box thing" is a guide being held by another ROV to force the saw blade against the pipe?????

June 3, 2010
11:56 CDT Ocean Intervention III ROV 2 is using a circular saw on the bolts on the flange at the base of the severed riser above the BOP.

Wait so are they going for cutting the bolts and making a solid "normal" seal with the BOP? Or are they still going to catch the oil with the makeship LMRP funnel?

No they are not cutting bolts. They are cutting some thingy that appears to be sticking out the side of the broken stub pipe. Saw is vertical, not horizontal.

Looks like a tab that maybe holds the kill or choke lines. For the life of me I do not understand why he does not move over to the other side to cut opposite. The tab is probably welded on with a fillet weld and it looks to me like they have cut thru tangentially to the id of the riser and subsequently have flow thru that slot.

I believe that's exactly what happened. Could be a lot more cutting needed from this side, depending on how bad their angle is. Question: do they have a way to re-direct the outflow so they could see the other side of that tab, and thus be able to cut from there?

It's a tab resulting from the shearing operation,
so the other side is convex - hard to get the saw to start a cut.

Look at the closeups of the sawing action - you can see that the shape of the flange top-part is highly resistant to bolt-cutting. The bolt-heads are partially recessed into the metal of the flange, which curves up beside them to provide structural strength.

To get clean cut-off of the bolt heads, you need to cut through the curved bit of flange that partially restricts access to the bolt-head, in addition to the bolt-head itself. Doing that for every bolt, given the limitations of 5000-ft in-the-current ROV ops, would take (at a guess) a few days. Grinding the resultant stubs as well as the actual cutting.

With the general public angry and distressed, BP haven't got several days to get a result here.


Regards Chris

Cut off the bolt head (or the nut and the bolt reveal at teh washer on the BOP side of the flange set). Certainly a bullet proof zirconium oxide super abrasive disc would make short order of Grade 8 fasteners, they are used commercially for grinding coblat.
I dont get it... and I dont understand why this wasnt done ~ six weeks ago

Anyone know the feed of the ROV that's currently doing the cutting? OI2 - ROV2 is next to it, but none of the published BP feeds seem to show the other one.

OI3 rov2

Sorry, I meant OI3 ROV2 in my original post. There's another ROV to the left of it that WAS cutting, but now OI3 ROV2 took over.

Your links for Skandi ROV's 1 and 2 are identical pointing at the feed for ROV 1. Try: Video Feed from Skandi ROV 2

can't seawater get in thru the empty bolt holes on the flange once the tophat is on? or am i crazy...

What empty bolt holes? They are not working on removing the bolts.

Not if the gasket is in place.

The entire upper flange is in a hydraulically activated collet. It may even be functional. They should AT LEAST try to run the hydraulics to see if they can simply decouple the upper flage.

not sure if i see a gasket. looks like the upper and lower flanges are pretty flush against eachother. by bolt holes, the video shows like 9 or 10 holes around the circumference of the flange, either for piping or the bolts. two of them seem to be empty, straight thru, which means seawater can flow in and out. maybe theres a gasket there blocking that type of flow, but we cant see one from the side.... right?

Right, thanks for explaining the empty holes.

Actually, there is an inner collet that fits from the upper flange into the inside of the lower flange. It is a hydraulically activated connection - that' how they couple to the BOP with the riser in the first place. Click!

Why don't they try running the hydraulics to see if the entire collet connector is functional?

Wouldn't it be a gas and a complete proof that there is a manager on the surface running the show, if all that cutting, clawing, mangling and such were unnessessary - they could have simply removed the old riser with the collet?

Why does a manager have broad shoulders and a flat head?

You ask him a technical question and he just shrugs his shoulders - "I dunno..."

You give him an answer and he hits his head - "duh..."

If they remove a bolt there is a direct 4" diameter path to let water in the LMRP capping device (what are we calling this thing anyway)

Sure, but the seal ring is inside the bolt holes of the flange. Also, this is not a 15,000 psi connection, unlike the ones lower down. Risers aren't design to hold a lot of pressure.

There are two ROVs down there - OIROV2 and ???.

Skandi ROV1 is also in the area, apparently monitoring the dispersant stream

No its not a 15,000 psi flange, only 10,000 psi.

Those aren't empty bolt holes, those are spaces for the choke/kill/hydraulics/... lines.

They're supposed to be closed now.
see 06:02 in the May 31 video:

Repost from late last night

I am putting this up for information, I don't take a position for or against.

It is a letter issued by NOIA (National Ocean Industries Association today.

I'm not sure about the nomenclature as they refer to platforms and it was my impression that only deepwater drilling rigs were shut down, not any platforms.

Thousands of Jobs and Billions of Dollars in Government Revenue at Risk
From Six-month Gulf Drilling Halt Says National Ocean Industries Association Chairman

Washington – Preliminary estimates show crippling job loss and significant economic impacts will result from the President’s recent order to halt work on 33 exploratory wells in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and institute a six-month moratorium on all drilling in water depths greater than 500 feet.

“The immediate impacts of the order will be felt by the families of tens of thousands of offshore workers who will be unemployed,” said Burt Adams, Chairman of the National Ocean Industries Association.

For each platform idled by the work stoppage, up to 1,400 jobs are at risk, and lost wages could reach $10 million per month per platform and up to $330 million per month for all 33 platforms, preliminary estimates from the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) show.

“At a time when the spill is already causing economic stress for key industries in the region, the president’s action will make things much worse by putting more Gulf citizens out of work,” said Adams.

The LMOGA estimates show the six-month halt would defer four percent of anticipated 2011 deepwater Gulf of Mexico production (80,000 barrels per day), and likely render seven current discoveries sub-economic, putting $7.6 billion in future government revenues at risk. Additionally, drilling rigs idled by the order will be contracted overseas, and will not be available to work in the Gulf once the halt is lifted, making the U.S. even more dependent on foreign oil. “Other countries are apparently more confident in the overall safety of the oil and gas industry and will no doubt fill the potential void created by less domestic production,” said Adams.

“The need to act in the face of the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is understandable, but the 33 rigs affected by the presidential order are the very ones successfully inspected in early May at the order of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar,” Adams said. “Nobody wants to just rush into deepwater drilling during this ongoing crisis, but it appears that less draconian and potentially less harmful solutions such as increased inspection and recertification of equipment would be an acceptable compromise.”

“Considering that the deepwater regions generate 80 percent of the Gulf’s oil production and 45 percent of its natural gas production, a six-month work stoppage will have severe and perhaps long lasting impacts on our domestic energy supply and economic security,” said Adams. “When you couple this ‘no less than six-month’ moratorium with the cancelled Western Gulf lease sale, the potential for long term job loss and economic hardship for the Gulf of Mexico looms even greater.”

The offshore industry is responsible for nearly 200,000 jobs in the Gulf of Mexico alone, and provides 30 percent of our nation’s domestic oil production and 11 percent of our domestic gas production. Offshore oil and gas production accounts for an average $13 billion a year in non-tax revenues to states and the Federal government and has made over $24 billion available to the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the last 28 years.

shelburn knows as I do how the oil patch looks at this situation: Such is life...deal with it. The oil patch has had few supporters over the years. We become accustomed to being those "lying dirty bastards" years ago. We don't need nobody. LOL.

But as I pointed out once before that the bell does not toll for the entire industry. Just a WAG but probably 95% of the domestic oil company are not going to be hurt by the moratorium. Granted many of the bigger companies, particularly the service companies, and their employees will. But the great majority of us don't drill and never will drill in the DW GOM. Not that I would have wished it on the industry but the majority of us will see a marginal gain from the slow down. Less oil/NG coming to the market makes our production worth more. More idle service companies will bring their prices down so our costs to drill will decrease. Right now my company, being brand new with little production, would greatly benefit if oil dropped to $30/bbl and NG to $2/mcf. We're self capitalized...don't need no stinkin' bankers. All a price drop would do is kill our competition. Eventually when we bank enough reserves in the ground we'll be glad to see PO raise its ugly head again. Then we'll sell out and go to the house...for good.

Government just halted ALL offshore drilling, once safe stopping points are reached, not just deep water, until they formulate new regulations.

Do you have a link for that story- regarding a total halt to offshore drilling?

They just rescinded our APD.

Just hit Huffington Post

Gulf Oil Spill: Feds Halt New Drilling In Gulf

Just as you post that, SkyTruth thinks they've located a much smaller leaking well unrelated to the big one of the LA coast while trying to track the large leak, Complex ID # 23051. They think it's a chronic leak that's been going since before May 15. If this sort of thing is "normal" it sounds like the drilling halt for tighter regs is a step a long time coming.

It amazes me that neither the industry nor its detractors monitor satellite images. It's high time to take oversight into the 21st century. A small fraction of the manpower sitting at gov't desks supposedly over-seeing regs could readily assess satellite images on a daily basis.

The flip side is that a knee-jerk stop only minimally decreases risk but maximizes economic impact. If the shutdown lasts 6 months that will self-extend to a slow recovery over years, and the lost production will be significant.

Between the econonmic impact of the shutdown, the likely boost in oil prices as the glut clears, and a likely alignment of this spike with Chindia and OECD demand growth, it is possible that the costs of this blow-out will march into hundreds of $B.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost....and perhaps the war as well?

Exxon Valdez shut down Alaska. Horizon may well shut down the gulf, or at delay and raise costs massively. How's that energy independence thing coming along?

There is only a finite amount of oil in the GoM and it will still be there (except this spill) later.

The regional economic impact will be severe. The residual fishing is drying up, one block at a time. The other major source of income is from offshore (although a minority of rig workers live on the coast). Lots of supply yard, etc. jobs for people that will not be getting BP checks.

Two more relief wells would employ some of those hands, but a drop in the bucket. I do not see BP clean-up as having that much economic impact, EXCEPT dredging (10 dredges available AFAIK) new barrier islands.

Local sales tax revenue will take a major hit. I suspect that many will not sit on their tail but move to try and find work, even if they are cashing a BP check. Anybody want to build a camp in the bayous, now is the time !

But,as I said, the finite amount of oil will still be there.

As far as oil supply issues, moving up the time table of post-Peak Oil impacts by a few weeks or even months, so what ? It is going to happen anyway. Sooner is better than later since we are doing nothing to prepare anyway.


I almost added a "on the third hand" perspective as you did. Anything that moves up the pain of peak oil is a good thing from a reaction perspective -- the sooner we start making hard decisions, the better. And the longer the incredibly valuable commodity of attainable oil is preserved, the better.

Perhaps that is the real silver lining in all of this, and just maybe the administration is savvy enough to exploit the disaster for some long-term benefit on somebody else's PR and image equity? The admin gets to be the tough guy while BP takes the lumps.

But as always, it's the relatively innocent little guy who will take the hard knocks from any of the above.

Hey, did OI III #2 just crash? it peeled away awfully fast, and now is gropping around ...

Looks like that. (Or the BOP just collapsed.)

It's snagged its (or the other ROV's) tether and is trying to get untangled.

it's back in business

Is the device hanging (Enterprise ROV II) the "tophat"?

I haven't had this much fun since they televised the Gulf War....maybe O.J., if my employer checks the network logs I am screwed.

Now that the weight of the marine riser pipe is off this cut and BOP is flowing I wish they would get the diamond wire cutter out and make a damn wedding ring. The bracket they trying to cut off is above the original cut. They have no control over those big diamond blades. They hacking on this pipe right now. Diamond wire cut this please

I wish they would get the diamond wire cutter out and make a damn wedding ring.

Spoken like a true Pipeliner.

There maybe an advantage with the drill pipe pinched in relation to gas/oil ratio coming out of the well.

Anybody know what the tolerance is to mate the LMRP to the riser?

think the 100k diamond wire is dull

~11:56 CDT Ocean Intervention III ROV 2 is cutting vertically on an orange object on the flange of the severed riser above the BOP.

One of the flange bolts in the way is getting nicked:

The reason they made the vertical cut is obvious. Now they have created a compressible location. Let's not forget that riser pipe is 1" thick, 20" across and they're trying to hang something on it that may or may not fit, but has a better chance now.

BTW, I was at work (UK time) earlier, and asked one of my mates (computer infrastructure guy, classic-car nut, engineer through and through) to help me get past the corporate firewall restrictions on live vid feeds (he solved my problem)

Showing him the ROV feeds, he was predictably fascinated, and I explained to him how the riser kinked as the DWH rig went down. His immediate response was "Well, shouldn't they have an engineered "weak section" in these risers (just like a car steering column) so that catastrophic failure has an expected, predictable, manageable outcome that's not disaster?"

Interesting thought, and the *immediate* response of someone with an engineering background, but no detail knowledge of DWH. Any thoughts?

regards Chris

I have been arguing that the major riser design flaw was that the first twenty feet of the riser should have been made of 36 inch pipe which was then reduced to 21 inches. Then the bend or break would have been above that reduction and you would have had twenty feet or more of straight pipe with which to fix the leak.

With twenty feet of straight 36 inch pipe, it would have been simple to slip a thirty foot 40 inch piece of pipe, with an open valve on the end, over the 36 inch pipe. The 40 inch pipe would contain the 36 inch pipe and there would be a large valve to close the system.

With that system there could have been a number of effective seals especially if designed into the 36 inch pipe to begin with. The valve on the 40 inch pipe could have been slowly closed and then the well killed with mud and cement.

I am dumbfounded that a robust twenty foot section of initial riser was not designed into the system with built in seals to allow a larger pipe to be slipped over this twenty foot riser.

All thought apparently went into designing how to prevent a leak and no thought went into how to fix leaks that would inevitably occur on some well as some time.

It is a little like car manufacturers never considering crashworthiness until the last 20 years or so. Finally car manufacturers began to realize that accidents were going to happen and there needed to be contingent designs for when they did.

The entire regulatory environment is about preventing, not containing, leaks. So, that's where the money and time and effort has gone. Easy enough to understand.

That makes about as much sense as having a fire department that has 100 fire safety inspectors - but no firemen.

looks like the enterprise rov's are on the move..

They seem to have backed off for the moment...perhaps sending down a different saw? If they had a hydraulic pry bar to spread that flange (or whatever it is) away from the BOP it might just snap off. Jaws of life type of device.

CNN is showing a picture of the saw cutting from a different angle. The back of the flange?

multiple camera views at this link here (windows media player)

THAT's the ROV I was looking for - which one is it?

That is not a flange .. It looks like left over cutting from the jaw cutter. Crimmped pipe. The cut is lower on the back.

It looks like when the jaws was used the pipe broke off at the previous diamond wire cut.

Looking at the feed shown on CNN I would agree the 'chunk' they are trying to cut seems to be just as you suggest, section of the riser pipe that was previously cut by diamond saw and cut again by shear cutting tool. At least thats my current thinking. I know much more knowledgable folks have posted that is a choke line collor but looking closely at the cuts I'm wondering if that is correct? Here is my photos with labels here...

Yeah, here's what I think we're seeing. Lower cut made by wire saw, upper cut by shear tool, region in between squooshed into "P" shape by shear tool blade.

Gogo Google Sketchup!

Thanks for the cool image! That's exactly the way I was picturing it in my mind.

So did they leave the leave the vertical bisecting piece to help support the cap?

Will it hinder the flow once the cap is in place?

Kind of surprised they're making the cut there. If I'm right about how the riser was crushed as it was sheared, then that piece goes all the way across the opening, and is still connected to the riser on the other side, directly above the other edge of the prior diamond wire saw cut.

Maybe they want to leave that vertical piece as a support for the LMRP cap, but if they wanted to cut it away completely, they should move to the other side of the riser, and cut it there.

CNN.com will be showing Tony's next news conference shortly.. the feed is currently showing what looks like one of the control rooms in Houston.

(any bets on whether he'll be able to keep his foot out of his mouth today?)

most of these feeds on a single page here just double click the picture to toggle between full screen and tile view - they have flash versions on their main page here

There's been a lot of real estate taken up by posts with links to feeds. If you're running Windows and have Windows Media Player installed, http://mxl.fi/bpfeeds2/ and http://mxl.fi/bpfeeds/ (for screens larger than 1280px resolution) work really well in Firefox and Chrome, a little less well in IE, and show all the feeds. You can zoom individual feeds all the up to full screen.

A question about the well that impacts how easy it is to drill the relief well: is the well perfectly straight, or does it deflect and spiral around on its 3 mile trip through the earth?

That is, as the relief wells are coming in, do they know exactly where the drill bit is and where the well is? Or could the well be, oh 3 feet to the left, or 25 feet to the right?

It moves around, but downhole surveying allows the driller to steer the hole to hit a pretty small target. Also, since there's now casing in the old well, there are tools that allow it to detect when the bit gets close to the old well and steer it even closer.

There have been numerous postings on how this works - use the search for more info.

I haven't noticed any threads on how straight the well bore really is--exaggerating--I think we can think of it as spiraled (though in random directions) kind of like a DNA spiral, though, obviously not nearly to that degree.

How much to wells deflect from 0 as degrees/feet/proportion of depth?

Total depth typically increased by a couple dozen feet by "walking".

Of course, this depends on the geology, etc.


If I understand the process, they first go straight down, then at a certain depth, begin to angle down and towards the existing well.

If they miss on the first try, then they back up a certain distance, fill the bore with cement, then start a bore at a slightly different angle.

Repeat that process as necessary until they hit the well.

The CNN feed shows them attacking the flange from the back side now....I can see why they have been reluctant to go from here, the oil gets whipped up by the saw and makes visibility zero in short order. Stop/start process.....these guys must be going out of their ever loving minds! I can imagine the operator can't get very much down pressure on that blade with the current pushing the ROV around such a poor anchoring point. Perhaps bring another ROV in and have it "sit" on the saw arm for added weight? Maddening.

Will the LMRP sealing grommet surround the flange?

I don't think so, the graphic's I have seen show it going around the upper section and atop the bolts. Looks pretty dicey that a good seal will even be possible, if they can even get the thing to sit on it at all. I think the pressure of the ejected material will blow the thing off to the side. Hope I am wrong....

It looks like the LMRP has hooks around the edge that may be designed to clamp underneath the flange and hold it on. If they can maneuver it on there it should stay. The maneuvering will be the hard part. Of course, once it's on I don't think they can get as good a seal as they hoped, but if the oil starts flowing up in the new LMRP riser, then physics should take over. The oil and gas will tend to rise in the pipe and create suction behind them. If anything it may be that seawater actually gets sucked into the LMRP rather than oil leaking out. That is of course assuming they've licked the hydrate problem too.

Since the flange's circumference is a known dimension, I'm curious why the LMRP sealing grommet wouldn't be fabricated to closely match and slip over the flange's circumference area to form a viable seal?

From looking at the cap, I'd say it appears designed to fit tightly around the flanges and seal to them, thus making the jagged pipe end irrelevant.

13:27 CDT Skandi ROV 1 is spraying dispersant into the underwater plume at a depth of ~4890 feet. The BOP is not visible.

~13:31 CDT Enterprise ROV 1 is monitoring (I assume) top hat 4 which is suspended in the water.

~13:34 CDT Enterprise ROV 2 is examining a white cubical box with open sides and a pipe projecting from the top. It does not look like a top hat.

~13:38 CDT Q4000 ROV 1 is monitoring a cable or hose.

Blue- I think I saw that white box during the Top Kill operation, wasn't it the manifold for pumping mud and concrete into the BOP?

That is the manifold - they are going to use it in reverse to suction oil from the choke/kill lines.

what is nearby/behind CDT Enterprise ROV 2? I know ROV is busy with other things. Is that the LMRP containment cap with a riser coming from it?
it comes and goes from the camera view.

see another view here http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:47175.asx?bkup=21144

THEY GOT IT!!!!!!!

Ok, I've been watching off and on and have some tech geek questions...

1. The top hat... doesnn't it appear to seal around the flanges? Not against the pipe, but around the flanges?

2. If it seals around the flanges, isn't the biggest issue with the top now just making sure there's enough room for the ragged cut job?

3. If it injects substances into the top hat, whatever they might be, would it not have to have some clearance from the last bit of the cut-off pipe to make sure whatever it is mixes relatively well?

4. If they can cut off the water access to the stream of crude+gas, doesn't it mean that there's little danger of forming clogs?


Missed the moment that it happened, but they successfully sawed off the folded "tab" of riser.

I was glued to it, but you didn't miss much. One moment it was there, the next gone. Yeah!!!! I imagine we will see the top hat in short order.


Thanks for the reply.

I'm "flipping" between watching this and stock tickers, and no, I don't own any BP (don't own any oil stocks, for that matter) as I'm more of a tech guy.

Half of the "lip" above the flange is missing......you can only see this in the reverse view. There are lots of hydrates.....I can't see this working.

~13:43 CDT Ocean Intervention III ROV 2 is moving around at the base of the BOP.

~13:48 CDT Skandi ROV 1 is spraying dispersant.

~13:51 CDT Enterprise ROV 1 monitoring the suspended yellow and white top hat 4. There appears to be 1 or 2 others suspended in the distance and another ROV moving around.

~13:53 CDT Enterprise ROV 2 trying to grab a cable or hose near a suspended yellow and white top hat. I am not sure if the top hat is the one with "4" written on it.

~13:56 CDT Q4000 ROV 1 is apparently monitoring a hose and fitting.

Assuming Top Hat #4 is the one, notice those sharp brackets on the bottom side. Perhaps they are intended to clamp around the bottom side of the flange to secure it? Spring loaded to trip closed when it passes the flange?

I believe those brackets, or gussets, are simple stabbing guides to help center the LMRP funnel up around the pipe stub and flanges as it is lowered into position. The gasket that shows around the bottom lip of the funnel should make more or less of a seal on the flange OD when, and if, it will sit all the way down. As long as they have the funnel flooded with, and maintain a good flow of, methanol before they put it over the flowing gas/oil stream they might have a chance of doing some good at capturing a fair bit of the flow. I'm still disappointed that they didn't take a suction from their choke and kill connections via the top kill manifold as soon as the top kill effort was abandoned. That would have been four days of flow that could have been captured while they were housekeeping and cutting away riser sections.

For our "fluid mechanics" guys:

In the shot of the "high side" of the riser (the side opposite the wire cut side) I've notices a lighter colored area of the plum as it exits the riser.

Is this a manifestation of additional turbulence caused by the sheared end of the riser that was bent inward by the action of shearing the riser?

You're right, now that I see the ROV (CNN live feed) doing a walk-around, there's a huge difference in color. Not sure of the cause: it could be that there's more gas coming out that side, but I think you're right that the higher flow rate and turbulence on that side is breaking up the oil into smaller droplets. As a rule, as a droplet becomes smaller, reflection off its surfaces becomes more important than absorption by the liquid inside, so it looks lighter in color.

Most likely what you are observing is variations of "color" as a factor of the lighting (intensity, color of the light source, etc.). If you observe the ROV feed of the dispersant ops (Skandi Neptune Subsea 7) you will notice an overall uniform brown color to the hydrocarbon plume (as it disperses just above the cut riser).

I see your point, but this discoloration was along a short segment of the pipe with very defined edges. The lighter area of the plume appears to be 6" - 10" long, and it wasn't the "beige" color of the gases, but somewhere between the color of the main plume and the gases.

I think that might be the dispersant. Not sure if were talking about the same thing though.

Just some back of the envelope calculations as to what the cleanup costs might be if the coral reefs in the Florida Keys get oiled up:

In 1984, a ship ran aground in the keys and screwed up 644 sq. meters of coral. The fine and restoration work cost them $6.275 million (or about $10,000/sq. meter in 1984 dollars)

Reference: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/special/wellwood/project.html

The John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park is 70 nautical square miles (240 sq. km), or 240 million square meters.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Pennekamp_Coral_Reef_State_Park

Multiply that 240 million square meters by $10,000 per sq. meter, and damaging this itty-bitty park alone would set BP back a cool 2.4 trillion smackers.

The John Pennecamp State Park is a small fraction of the reefs in the keys . . .

For instance, the Dry Tortugas National Park covers 262 sq. km (or 262 million sq. meters).

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Jefferson

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is 3801 sq. miles . . . 10,500 sq. km.

Reference: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/about/pdfs/floridakeys.pdf

I don't think there is enough money in the world to fix the coral reefs in the Keys.

I hadn't seen it mentioned that shallow-water drilling has now also been banned in the Gulf.

Here is a link and the first few paragraphs:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is blocking all new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a day after regulators approved a new permit for drilling in shallow water.

An e-mail Thursday from the Gulf Coast office of the Minerals Management Service says that "until further notice" no new drilling is being allowed in the Gulf, no matter the water depth. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Associated Press.


Forgive me if it's been posted before.

These ROVs and under water tools are quite impressive.

To what extend are they "remote operated" or "Robots" ?

By that I mean, is the level of command something like "unscrew bolt number 3" (and the machine has a complete 3D model of the thing, some kind of sensors, and does the job from there), or is it more highly skilled people having direct access to all the movements and functions of the machine through joysticks and the like ?

Joystick control. Supposedly minimum 2,000 hours experience to be pilot on 3 person team.


They're remote operated, not really robots. Basically completely manually controlled, think joysticks. Although they may have automatic 'hover' and basic autopilot modes.

In the Enterprise ROV 1 video showing the cap, it appears to be moving laterally to the left (based on the right-to-left motion of the particulate matter in the water).

Could be the current, but it looks like they're moving it into place.


Just found this link from drillingproboards...

Not good. Comments from Jason Anderson's Dad.