Deepwater Oil Spill - Sealing the Cap and Jet Pumps - and Open Thread

Please transfer discussion to

There has not been much change down on the sea bed where Thursday evening BP were able to put a cap onto the short riser section coming out of the Lower Riser Assembly (LRA) that sits on the Blowout Preventer (BOP) at the top of the well. I have looked in a variety of places for information on steps forward, and did discover that there is a second assembly above the cap, that I had seen, but had not been able to recognize until watching the video on capping available at the Deepwater Response site. It is here that the methanol is sent down to the cap to make sure that no crystals form within the cap. So for those who wish to keep the right names for the right parts, take note. UPDATE: I have added a request to the end of this post.

The cap, drill pipe, LMRP and riser assembly used to cap the well.

And given that I was calling the cap the 7th generation LMRP when it was (as the big 4 on the side of the yellow structure showed) neither, means I need to take my own message to heart. In this post I am going to talk about the seal under the cap.

There are four ports on the top of the cap, that continue to allow the oil that is flowing into the cap to flow back out while the cap was initially positioned, and to reduce the flow according to BP's plans, until the system has been checked out to ensure there are no unforeseen problems. BP only slowly raised the flow rate up the pipe when they first started using the Riser Insertion Tool (RIT) starting out with a flow of around 1,000 barrels/day and then ramping it up, at the time reporting that flow ramped up first to 2,000 bd and then up to 4,000 bd. However they later rescinded the latter number and dropped the maximum flow level to around 2,200 barrels a day. Oil and gas have started flowing up to the drillship at the top of the riser where the oil is separated and stored, and the gas is being flared. (This was taken during the flare from the RIT operation).

However the flow out of the RIT was monitored, and higher rates have now been reported.
On May 25, 2010, at approximately 17:30 CDT, the RITT logged oil collection at a rate of 8,000 barrels of oil per day, as measured by a meter whose calibration was verified by a third-party. Based on observations of the riser, the team estimated that at least 10% of the flow was not being captured by the riser at the time oil collection was logged, increasing the estimate of total flow to 8,800 barrels of oil per day. Factoring in the flow from the kink in the riser, the RITTI Team calculated that the lower bound estimate of the total oil flow is at least 11,000 barrels of oil per day, depending on whether the flow through the kink is primarily gas or oil.
With the full flow now being emitted through the single confluence of the riser and BP flows at the top of the remaining riser section on the BOP, a full estimate of the leak will, no doubt, not be long in being announced.

The high volume of flow means that there needs to be cautious progress in capturing all the oil and gas and sending it up the DP. However there is still a little communications conflict, since there were some reports that the taps bypassing the oil/gas would be closed later today, however at 10:43 pm the Enterprise ROV 2 was still showing an open port.

Oil was also leaking out of the bottom of the cap, which is, even when almost all the oil is being recovered, likely to be a good thing in small quantities, somewhat less than this.

From Skandi ROV 2 10:55 pm 4th June (The Skandi Rov 1 has the picture from the other side, also of the bottom of the cap).

Why is this? Well the way in which the Shear was used to cut the end of the riser and DP means that it is likely to be impossible at the present time to get a good strong seal around the chamber between the flow into the cap from the BOP and that out into the DP up to the LMRP.

When a stream enters a chamber through one port, and exits through another, both of relatively small size, then the jet will create a vacuum in the chamber, which pulls fluid from the surroundings into the chamber and carries it, with the jet fluid into the second port. I am going to embed a short video of a commercial down-hole video and am not endorsing anything but the animation shows you how the jet pump works. (And the flow in the Gulf is easier than that shown here ).

Animation of an oil well jet pump. There is a competing design here (shorter video too)

The reason that it is critical in this operation is that the fluid outside the cap is seawater. If the jet pumping action were to become too efficient as all the oil flowed from one passage to the other, then the “jet pump effect” would draw cold seawater into the chamber and the problem of hydrate generation and blocking of the flow path would be back to block the cap, as it did top hat. By not getting all the flow into the second pipe it should be possible to drop the suction in the chamber to the point that a little oil still leaks out (treated with dispersants) but the majority goes up the well. Getting this right should prove an interesting exercise. (But isn’t calculating this what the “best and the brightest” – Dr. Chu’s team - are there to do?) And it is not nearly as simple as it might at first appear, being able to capture almost all the oil, without getting the jet pump effect bringing in the seawater that would stop the flow.

Flow control is achieved, simplistically, with a valve at the top of the riser on the Enterprise. By adjusting the flow the valve effectively controls the pressure at the top of the riser and thus also at the bottom.

Incidentally in other circumstances jet pumps are neat tools. One of my students developed a high pressure one for use in lifting high-level radioactive waste out of nuclear waste storage tanks (you want to minimize water use, and do this by upping the driving jet pressure). Worked like a charm, when used in the real tanks. They are also used as remote inexpensive pumps in mines, lying in depressions where water can collect. The water collects, a float valve lifts and the jet flows, sucking the water away. As the water disappears, the float drops and the jet switches off.

Oh, and for those who have ideas on how to deal with any part of this problem, the Government is stepping up the ways in which you can get funding. The process goes through the Federal Business Opportunities Webpage where there is a Broad Agency Announcement on the subject. It would be more fruitful to contact them.

UPDATE:BP are slowly increasing the amount of oil taken up the drill pipe from the cap on the BOP. They have announced that they will give an update on the daily flows measured.
BP announced plans to provide a daily morning update on how much crude is being collected by their oil drillship Enterprise as the oil company struggles to contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although Toby and Bendal in comments have stated that BP have raised the flow rate up to the Enterprise to 6,000 bd, from the 1,000 bd initially ( which included 3 hours when the system was shut down) so far I can’t find a reference for this, so I would appreciate the help of readers in finding where these numbers are being posted so that I can make them available to the general readership, who often don’t read the comments.

Prof. Goose's comment:

A continued humble and sincere thank you to all who have donated thus far. It will help us pay for the fourth server we are bringing online to accommodate the increased traffic. (See point 3 below.)

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

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

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

Our guide to commenting at TOD can be found here: . Please check it out if you are unfamiliar with it, but it is essentially 1) citations welcome (if not necessary), 2) be kind to others, and 3) be nice to the furniture.

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

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

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

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

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6. Do not be afraid to go back and read the last couple of open threads yesterday and today before you start on this thread. They are really good, and will likely catch you up if you have been out of the loop for a while. We shut down threads when we get to 300-400 comments, as it's really unmanageable. Lots of good stuff in there though.

bologgerian: I was cut off when I went to post this by the closing of comments on the previous post.

The worrying word here is: "Legitimate." Who defines it? BP? And what would be their motivation? Corporate survival? I can easily foresee forty years of litigation over that one word. And Hayward minimized the damages right from the start. BTW, I am not assuming they are dishonorable as officers of BP. Their highest duty as officers of the corporation is legally to their corporation. I'm just concerned they may have a conflicting interest with what's best for other people outside the corporation because of corporate survival; for instance, a conflict with the injured citizens of the GoM. The blow out raises an infinite number of conflicting values. Thank you for your responses.

"highest duty as officers of the corporation is legally to their corporation.

Well, what about morally, ethically? What about legal duties to the public - through laws and responsibilities?

I'm not really quibbling with your personal comments here. I am pointing to a wider problem within our society. Where we somehow have lost a sense of moral responsibility for one another. Where we believe that duty relates only to law. And even then, if one can skirt the law, it's become commonplace to do so.

Unless we return to a sense of common purpose - and I'm talking something which transcends national boundaries - we have become little more than squabblers over commodities or corporations or whatever can be weighed, measured, and stolen under the guise of "duty".

We have elevated corporations above the law and fostered a sense that it's ok for their officers to behave in ways that benefit an "entity" but harm society or the environment. There is something very insidious about this misguided acceptance of the "end" justifying the means. It's not better than the lame arguments put forth for why people were tortured for so-called "just ends".

You are right, but there is no objective way to determine legitimacy than through the legal system.

Not true at all.......

Has almost never been determined thru the legal industry. I would not give it the benefit of calling it a "system".

Only with Bombs, Bullets, or Blades, has "legitimacy" been established in the last 10,000 years. The "legal system" as you call it, is a joke beyound jokes in this day and age.

I say, take what is needed from BP, by whatever means, it's time to stand up to corporate criminals.

The life on this planet that cannot speak for themselves, deserve that those who do, have a backbone.

Look into the mirror and then go take a pill.

Look into the mirror and then go take a pill.

Wonder if he ever watched that movie Gangs of New York?
Now that was an interesting time to be living in.
break out the hatchets and knives, pitchforks and go for it

Can I presume legitimacy is determined by consensus inside a democracy?

My hope is that this international disaster, as well as ones in Nigeria, et al, will increase pressure for international ecological law, especially concerning global warming, pollution, starvation and then move to political stupidities like American, Israeli, Islamic, religious exceptionalism.

International democratic constitutional law is the only thing that will save a decent future for everyone, not just the pigs at the resource trough (some named above).

We long ago exceeded the useful parameters of the nation state, which doesn't scale globally.

In a sense don't we have an international ecological law now? Most of these companies are global in nature and can be held to the law of the country in violation, true?

That's not "international law" though, landrew. That's country by country law. International law would transcend countries as in the Universal Charter for Human Rights adopted by the UN. And the Geneva Conventions.

We need international laws for this ultimately, I would assert. And you're making a good point in addressing that.

"no (other?) objective way to determine legitimacy than through the legal system"

In the sweep of human history, war and survival have had a much greater impact on legitimacy than any system of law and law enforcement, IMHO.

I am not disagreeing with you. I'm just stating that since the East India Company was chartered in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I of England that has been the standard of DUTY for corporate officer conduct. (For perspective, that was 176 years before the American Revolution.) To violate that duty as an officer, you would need to be brave enough to fall upon your own sword as the law stands today because the shareholders would strip you of all your worldly goods and toss you and your family out on the streets cold to start over with nothing. Find me a person willing to do that and you have not found me a corporate officer. "We" have condoned this concept of DUTY for 400 and 12 years. I am not defending this concept of duty. I am only talking about corporate reality today. The Resources War may change all this. But it ain't gonna be pretty.

I know you're not disagreeing with me. And thanks for helping me understand that there's a long history of "loyalty" only to company. And mind you, this is one I've debated with my own 93 year-old dad, a company-man through and through.

But still, should it not be instilled in all citizens that there are always higher duties, even ones for which one might pay a price? Martyrs have done so. Whistleblowers have done so. (And I speak as the spouse of a whistle-blower as well as having done so myself. Prices were paid. But a higher duty called.)

Actually in America corporations were originally highly restricted as result of the founding fathers' experience with the likes of the East India Company.

"I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816

Jefferson and Madison's original bill of rights included an amendment blocking corporate expansion. It's provisions included:
Making it illegal for corporations to own other corporations
Making it illegal for corporations to give money to politicians or influence elections.
Placing time limits on corporate charters
Requiring corporations to demonstrate that they serve the public good to gain or renew a charter.

It didn't pass but such provisions were typically part of state laws.

American corporations didn't get the same rights to enforce contracts as citizens has until a Supreme Court decision in 1806.

They didn't get equal protection under the law (often called "personhood")until 1886 and Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific RR. That decision maybe the most extreme case of judicial activism ever. Out of the blue corporations were given personhood by the court (sort of) in direct opposition to the intent of the founders. I say "sort of" because the decision doesn't give it to them- it is only done in the headnotes, and inaccurate summary written by a court reporter with close ties to the railroads. But judges read the headnotes and it came to permeate American law.

an earlier form of the corporation was the Limited - Ltd. in england... originally limited to a 40 year existence after which is was dissolved...

yes... we are nation of laws... but... as pointed out... since the late 1880's the laws have favored coproprations over the commons... ethics and morality are not admissable in court proceedings... and as we saw w/ exxon valdez judgement... a 500 MILLION verdict gets reduced to 5M...

corporations want the rights of people... but outlive people's individual resources esp. in terms of finance and lifespans... corporation can wait... litigate... and wait...

try getting a personal meeting with your elected representative in their office someday on ANY issue... i'm sure... BP's upper echelon's phone calls and letters get up the visibility chain far more often than individuals...

what's at the heart of the debate is... what is the TRUE cost of operating a corporation today??? corporations use common infrastructure... the water systems... the electric grid... the highway systems... the air and sea lanes... the courts... the interstate commerce protections... copyright and patents... intellectual property...

ALL of the commons - and yes the internet too - were created out of taxpayer funding directly or indirectly... NO corporation could build out it's own communications system... electric grid... or police infrastructure...

here's the litmus test... have ANY "free-market-milton friedman-ayn rand" ideologue - GO TO SOMALIA - and set up shop - there is NO government anything - after years of dumping radioactive and other waste into the waters off of somalia... the locals' way of life and survival was destroyed... now they pirate passing ships for ransom... they didn't just one day sit down and think it would be easier than fishing to start pirating ships for ransom...

the solution is simple... ALL corporate upper management and boards PERSONALLY sign for responsibility of their corporations' action on their watch...

OVERNIGHT... corporate behavior will change... the corporate structure is simply a method for those so talented and motivated to make lots of money in a short period of time... then get out... with wanton disregard for the consequences of the actions of the corporation in carrying out its "legal charter" of maximizing shareholder value...

squidd wrote:

here's the litmus test... have ANY "free-market-milton friedman-ayn rand" ideologue - GO TO SOMALIA

Neither Ayn Rand nor Milton Friedmand advocated anarchy. Both were advocates of a Constitutionally-limited government charged with protecting individual rights.

squidd also wrote:

the solution is simple... ALL corporate upper management and boards PERSONALLY sign for responsibility of their corporations' action on their watch...

If by this you mean personal FINANCIAL responsibility, you'll simply never find anyone willing to take such a position. BP, for instance, has 80,000 employees. No in their right mind is going to put their personal finances at the risk of the actions of 80,000 people they cannot possibly directly control or supervise. You simply won't be able to form corporations -- or accumulate any significant amounts of capital for a business venture -- under such constraints, which will mean the end of capitalism and a return to the standard of living we had in about, oh, say, the 1750s.

But you will indeed succeed in eliminating these kinds of accidents. And you can enjoy an oil-free Gulf of Mexico for your entire 35 - 40 year life span, if you can walk or ride a horse to get there.

dude - did not say "anarchy"... said "no government"... that's what ayn rand's "atlas shrugged" depicted... in the woods... with a babe on each arm... the corporatists lived in world without restriction... the trains ran on time... planes didn't crash... even greenspan admitted his befuddlement with wall street's not policing themselves... gee... that's difficult to understand...

under such constraints, which will mean the end of capitalism and a return to the standard of living we had in about, oh, say, the 1750s.

there's another scenario... wise guy... (my 40 y lifespan)... wouldn't matter to you... 'cept maybe is your family had to live in niger delta a month or year or so... but i digress...

OK... "under such constraints"... NO constaints everyone... tell the white house to DISBAND the joint ops center in the gulf... coast guard... GO HOME... EVERY public employee currently on the GOM response... GO HOME...

we don't need no stinkin' "constraints"...

Mr. "Member for
1 week 2 hours "

says... ALL IS OK with capitalism... besides... that latest vander sloot gibberish is crawling it's way accross the screen now...

oh... and that dead planet circa 2050.... hey... george bush opined it best... "we'll all be dead"...

now there's a "standard of living" we can all look forward to for our children...

squidd wrote:

dude - did not say "anarchy"... said "no government"..that's what ayn rand's "atlas shrugged" depicted... .

Hed, dude, "anarchy" means "no government". And that is not what Rand depicted in Atlas Shrugged. At the end of the book, one of its central characters is drafting a Consitution for a new government.

The rest of your largely-incoherent rant is straw man fallacy, inasmuch as I never advocated zero government response to this disaster.

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of The Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with THE real world. The other, OF course, involves orcs.

"There are two novels that can transform a bookish fourteen-year-old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large parts of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs." — John Rogers

The Limited designation in UK company law relates to limited liability
of the directors. If the company goes bankrupt the personal
property of the directors is not taken from them. A condition
of this protection is that account and other data must be
published. If you want to avoid publishing your accounts
you can form a private company but then you incur total liability.

squidd: Do you mean all business organizations should become partnerships at the Board level? Who would serve?

I will advocate that idea. And, who cares? If no one would take responsibility (a word highly valued but little understood by libertarian capitalists) then screw it, no business. OTOH, why not partnership at the shareholder level?:

The so called free market is anything but free. It exploits the masses for the benefit of just a few, by appropriating the commons (land, food, fuel, metals...) under the hubris of ownership. As if land can be owned.

In real time, the only thing that creates ownership is adding labor to the commons. Your clothing that you created, either by earning a token for trade or by sewing them, spinning them, etc., is your property because of the labor you added. Value is created only by labor, not by time and money. Financial institutions as presently constituted are fantasy island creations that do not create anything of value, and steal real value from others.

Stockholders should be held personally responsible for the costs inflicted on the environment and on society by the corporation. Corporations should be taxed in accordance with the diminution they create in the commons, and in the public weal.

I am so tired of hearing from so called conservatives who don't know from up...

And, government is supposed to provide a framework, including limits, on unfettered human nature. By aggregating the power of the many, government is able to control greed, averice, lust, etc., by either taxing or making legislative provisions to control the same. Without any limits, we see what happens from 2008; just as before the Great Depression the economy suffered from periodic extreme bouts of depression and the masses toiled in squalor. Yes, the U.S. had greater freedom and greater wealth than Europe, but that was because we expropriated the land of the native folks and gave it to the white settlers. Once the land had been given away, sold or placed into trusts, those freedoms and that wealth began to change. Today most of the wealth of the U.S. is owned or controlled by a very few - our own 'landed aristocracy.' We have become increasingly polarized due to this concentration of wealth in the hands of so few - one of the converging crises that I see growing today.

We have been brainwashed, you more than most, into believing that our 'way of life' is somehow sacred, and 'annointed by God.' It is not. When we began our experiment in the new world, we stole the land and property of its residence, who held it in common. To make matters worse, we murdered most of those natives, and took most of the rest into slavery (Spanish style). Then we stole the inhabitants of Africa and enslaved them, and stole their labor, appropriating the wealth created by the work the did. In 1865, we ended slavery of human beings as property, but continued wage slavery by appropriating the means of production, and enslaving workers. During this period of time, those workers had little say about wages, they lived in company towns and purchased their foodstuff and clothing and everything else at company stores. The value they created through their labor was mostly appropriated by the "owners."

Later, we discovered that we could use coal and oil to do the work, again expropriating the commons (the natural bounty of the Earth), and for a while we have had fossil fuels to exploit as our slaves. There has never been a true sense of human family, of commonality, since the advent of the corporation and before, during the age of fuedalism. Soon, oil and fossil fuels will be running out - perhaps not in your lifetime or mine, but in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. At that time, you and your ilk no doubt will reinstate human slavery since that is the only way to obtain wealth for you - by stealing it from those who labor, since you provide no useful service to humanity.

Excuse the rant. I sometimes find human stupidity unbearable. Especially the hubris of the neo-cons and libertarians, in their self rightous, moralistic, effete snobbery.

Enjoy your wealth.

zaphod42 wrote:

Enjoy your wealth.

I plan to.

I feel so sorry for people like you. Your education aborted your rational faculty, and then your teachers filled the resulting vacuum between your ears with stale leftist talking points that were refuted in the prior century. On cue, you regurgitate said talking points with all the understanding that a parrot has of what it says.


I plan to.

I feel so sorry for people like you. Your education aborted your rational faculty, and then your teachers filled the resulting vacuum between your ears with stale leftist talking points that were refuted in the prior century. On cue, you regurgitate said talking points with all the understanding that a parrot has of what it says.

end SNEER"

There, I fixed that for you.

Enjoy your wealth.

No, I am broke and out of work, things changed with the new administration
and now the thing with BP, seems to ensure that work will be very spotty at best for me over the next several years. The real shame of it all is I don't have that many more years that I will even be able to. Already had one back operation and had to change my working habits.

We were working on the house, but all that is stopped now. At least we managed to get the garage closed in before we had to stop, but the floor and the walls are still undone and the ceiling. No government checks here.

Hey, nice condensed course in realistic human political economy! (I put human in there because the Randistas keep forgetting we're not all John Galt)

I would just add that the expropriation of the commons has now moved to air and water, which is sort of threatening, and may be that last mistake the artistocracy cannot help but make.

Pitchforks is a-coming, there's hanging tonite!

(sung to the tune, appropriately, "Shrimp Boats is A-Coming)

I have to admit that the founding fathers had more vision than those who followed in many areas.

Ideally, you would have small to medium sized business only. The only larger entities would have to be CO-OPs. A co-op can be large enough to engage in activities requiring a larger size corporate entity, without the enticement to grow ad infinitum. A corporation that is owned by a limited number of shareholders (current common practice) tends to strive to grow without limits as this increases the return for each investor. It is not good for the consumer and society at large as it merely reduces competition, and increases the bureaucratic complexity and makes it basically as inefficient a a government entity without the same requirements for transparency.

A CO-OP, on the other hand, once it is large enough to accomplish it aims does not see an increase in payback with increase growth for its shareholders (a.k.a. employees) as the returns are divided among more employees. Indeed, excessive growth will result in higher administrative overheads which will reduce the net advantage to the members of the CO-OP. There is therefore an incentive of growth to a steady state, without the stakeholders feeling it is not doing well. As long as their products move, even without growth, they will feel their business is successful.

Compare this to the current paradigm, where a company that doesn't grow, sends the shares tumbling. It doesn't matter that the reason they don't grow anymore is that they are the only provider of their category left on the market (a sign of success if you ask me). The lack of growth itself will be perceived as bad. I believe CO-OPs are the way to go in a sustainable future.

The flow of history looks to move one way in this country and it will be just as difficult to reverse it as it would be to reverse the flow of the BP blow out in the GoM. 50 revenue hungry places to shop for a corporate charter.

We live in a society that operates by rule of law. There is a process which goes back 900 years to the Magna Carta which defines what that law is. The ways which that law may be changed are outlined by the Founders in the Constitution.

Corporations, despite your statement otherwise also operate under that rule of law. If it were not so BP could just walk away from their spill.

Individuals likewise operate under that rule of law, or otherwise pay severe consequences. Part of that is the duty of a corporate officer to make decisions in behalf of the stockholders of the company he works for. If that were not in place he would be free to make decisions for his own or other's benefits. This is what got Enron and Worldcom in trouble - their executives were ignoring their obligations to their shareholders. Some of these executives are now in jail.

People may make the statement that a higher ethic applies. Fine. But that ethic also applies to the duty to follow the law. And individuals may have very different views of what that ethic is. It is not the duty of anyone to act on someone else's view of that ethic. It is however their duty to follow the law. We cannot hold anyone accountable to a higher ethic BECAUSE THAT ETHIC VARIES FROM PERSON TO PERSON. Law though is constant across the society.

If citizens don't like the way a corporation behaves it is their duty to CHANGE THE LAW.

While you present an idealized case and argue for it, it does not work that way in real life. The 'law' is broken, circumvented, and ignored on a regular basis - by corporations as well as individuals. Prosecution for an offense is selective, and the more powerful the offending party is the more politics is involved in the law's application. This is not unique to the US of course - it is true more or less everywhere - but there is a tendency here to pretend that 'equal justice under the law' is the norm in this country - it is not, and this is a fact of life.

BP is of course in trouble - despite their considerable economic and political power. The rig accident and the gushing oil (the offense) is clear for all to see - there is no way to hide it. They will absolutely pay a price, and have already. Will 'justice' be done? That is an entirely different question and won't be easy to answer, even years from now when most of the legal dust has settled. There will be (and is) public censure - some justified, some not - and economic, social, and environmental consequences - many of which may not be immediately apparent. This is not simply a legal matter.

Personally, I care much less about the strictly legal questions than I do about what lessons society will learn, what changes in behavior might occur. I think this aspect of the accident is more important.

As oil extraction will continue I would hope that the industry as a whole would take more seriously the problems that drilling in the ocean specifically brings with it. Accidents will happen, and there needs to be development of effective technology and strategies mitigate the problems created when a well blows out underwater. There really is no excuse for being caught flat-footed by this - this was not a bolt of lightning out of the blue.

As a society that depends on fossil fuel energy to maintain its way of life, we also shouldn't be surprised that our addiction has consequences - for the environment as well as those people directly affected in this case - fishermen, people who work in the industry, tourists, and the general population of consumers who will be indirectly affected.

Shelburn had a nice post explaining why we shouldn't denigrate those who are working on our behalf (as a society) to fix this difficult problem. It is a hard lesson to see that we can create so serious a problem and not have the ability remedy it without a few months of hard work - and to know that the remedy will not fix the environmental damage that is occurring - that will take some years and is mostly out of our control.

While the oil industry in general, and BP in particular, should feel embarrassed about the behavior that led to this happening, should feel responsible for 'fixing' it, it is not just 'their problem' - it is our collective problem, our collective failure that is on full display here. Risk was undervalued, safety sacrificed for economic expediency, regulations not enforced or subverted, and society looked the other way and pumped their gas.

We should all be ashamed, we should all do better - it is certainly within or power to do so.

Yes it is true that our system of laws does not function without warts and blemishes. In some sort of absolute scale you could say that it is a very poor system and needs to be improved greatly.

It is in fact the worst system you could have.

Except for all the others.

"Yes it is true that our system of laws does not function without warts and blemishes."

Nicely understated...

The problem is not the system (a system in no way unique to the US), but has to do with human nature. The statement you made above "We live in a society that operates by rule of law." is generally a cloak trotted out to justify some selective application or another. In this country, as elsewhere, you most generally get the justice you can afford. The main differences from country to country are the nature of acceptable deviations - the social norms, if you will, of the law's application.

Incidents like the well blowout are a special case because the most direct evidence cannot be hidden and the scale of impact is very large.

I am fascinated that the two replies above me, by wrb and Speaker to Animals conflict with each other! To my mind this keeps the topic alive.

Moral dilemmas are important to look at. And corporate personhood creates huge moral dilemmas. Civil rights groups broke the law in order to demonstrate that laws were morally wrong. Gandhi advocated civil disobedience as a means to change laws. And Martin Luthor King followed Gandhi's path.

I'm simply questioning the status quo. As Speaker to Animals assures me it is my moral duty to do!

speaker to animals is not interested in human law , as a kzin

why should he?

now if we had a Pak Protector, then look out!


hmm, some would argue that the Puppeteers are behind the whole thing .....

or maybe just some luck

A respect for the Earth and our children and future generations *should* be instilled in everyone at a very early age, but it would require the widespread adoption of a new secular religion to accomplish that. There's no real likelihood of that happening any time soon, even though the fate of humanity may depend on it.

A deeply-felt reverence for the Earth and for our future -- there you go, I almost said "collective future" -- is pretty much the polar opposite of what we've got now. It wold take a really big disaster, far larger than the Gulf oil spill, to accomplish the needed mind-switch. People would have to get to the point where it was not only undesirable, but actually impossible, for us to continue down the path we're going now, before there would be real change in the right direction.

Of course the Native Americans and other "primitive" cultures in various parts of the world have made reverence for the Earth a basic element in their tradition. But we've cast that off, in favor of material well-being and short-term gain (sanctified by the "law"). We've got the religion of "grow or die" now.

Years ago I remember seeing an article in 'Outside' magazine about the State of Alaska, and the author described a mock "Seal of the State of Alaska" as something like this: a shield with 4 quadrants, showing a tree, a mountain, a river, and a bear, with the motto "Chop it down, dig it up, fish it out, shoot it". That's so us.

I don't believe in religion. I would much rather see people's behavior governed by an understanding of natural law and the altruism that arises from that. Religion gets wound up in questions of faith and acceptance of rules that are based on that faith.

Unfortunately history shows us (and even modern times show us) that this faith can easily be manipulated and twisted to cause much suffering. In reality faith is a lousy foundation to use for building civilization.

It is much better to base one's beliefs on objective reality and the laws that arise from study of that.

As Laplace said to Napoleon when he asked why there was no mention of God in his magnum opus on celestial mechanics, "I have no need for that hypothesis."

And thus I think we should consider those words when we develop our own personal ideals. And our civilization.

I'm not in favor of any current religion either, and don't believe "blind faith" is the right vehicle for the improvement of our society. What I was suggesting was a "secular religion" that really amounts to a deeply-held (and deeply-felt) belief in the sanctity of Nature, our home the Earth, and the paramount importance of keeping it a fit place for our children and future generations to live in.

In order to succeed, this belief would have to come "from within" each person, and not be imposed from above, either by the State or some sort of elite priesthood or aristocracy. But it would have to be taught, basically to children at an early age, and the question is "how" and "by whom" can such things be taught? How do you instill a transcendent belief in the sanctity of Nature to billions of people, equally, and all at once? How do we get past the point where, inevitably, the first people to adopt such views are marginalized and "wiped out" by those who do not?

I`m hoping that MOther Nature will take care of this problem. It just takes time for the economics to work out.

For example, govts will not have the money to treat and filter and pump water. Then people who receive water services won`t be able to dump garbage into landfills and burn it in incinerators because the costs to clean the water are too high.

Plastic will be too costly. I will have to buy my rice from someone local who sells it out of a big barrel and I bring a bowl and fill it. Producing garbage will be too costly eventually. Transporting the rice from far away will be too costly. So I will support local growers. The highway system will become an expensive and unused thing so it will be taken down and the land used to grow food.

Oil allowed us to PAY for disposing of the industrial wastes we produced. That is OVER now although we haven`t realized it yet. That is what the financial crisis is about, in part.

Basing one's "beliefs" on "reality". Pray tell, how does "reality" tell you to believe? Faith is not just about religion. You are using your "faith" all the time - it's just not visible to you. Your very argument about "belief" and "reality" is an assertion (assumption) you've made. At some point we all fall back on assumptions. And those "assumptions" are things we believe in. Morality, for example. "Reality" - the material world of facts - says nothing about morality.

You've got an interesting "assumptive world" from which you're operating. No need to assume God. But the assumption of "no God" is also - an assumption. An assertion. A belief. The faith you choose to hold. Along with many other values you choose to hold.

Just Wondering, above me, has set out a beautiful example of what I've just described.

I don't make or need any assumptions or hold any beliefs regarding the existence or lack thereof of God, Supreme Being, Flying Spaghetti Monster or similar deities. What I accept as evidence cannot possibly decide the existence of these beings.

My personal philosophy is based on the principles of methodological naturalism. That means simply whatever explanations I accept for the way things work are made without reference to supernatural beings or phenomena. This is what Laplace meant when he said he had no need for that hypothesis.

These explanations may or may not be objectively true, however there exists a method for deciding their truth. This is the power of this philosophy.

As far as naturalism and morality goes, I disagree strongly that naturalism does not lead to morality. In fact there is some pretty good evidence that what we call morality is based on the structure of our brain as determined by our genetic code. We just have this tendency to wrap it up in some cloud of 'faith' or "religion" which is unnecessary.

Take a look at the nature of this site. It is all about morality based on naturalism.

there exists a method for deciding

Ok, so "reality" does not tell you how to decide. You've place your faith in this method.

Thanks, that helps! You believe in a method.

Have you read Joseph Tainter`s The Collapse of Complex Societies?

He says in effect that when energy declines it becomes both undesirable (no longer economic) AND actually impossible to continue down the old path and that is why collapse ensues.

Yes, great book! Jarrod Diamonds Guns, Germs and Steel is another great book. I didn't really care for the follow-up. We need a system of economics or we perish I guess is the end rule?

The entire point of incorporating is in most cases to shield individuals from formal responsibility.

Not really.

The purpose of a corporation is to shield investors who have no influence in the operations of the corporation from any liability that exceeds the amount of their investment.

For example - I own 100 shares of Transocean stock. Obviously, this investment give me no influenmce whatsoever as to the operations of the company. If transocean were to go bankrupt - my only risk is the amount of moneu I paid for those shares. Otherwise debtors could come after my house, cars, bank accounts etc.

This 'shield' is necessary in order to capitalize business. If this shield were not in place them people like myself would never dare to invest in a publically-held company.


Obviously, this investment give me no influenmce whatsoever as to the operations of the company.

That is NOT obvious.
As a stockholder of Transocean Ltd, you at least have the right to attend the annual general meeting and ask to speak. You can submit petitions to the Board of Directors with greater authority than other citizens. etc. e.g.
Transocean Ltd. Shareholders Approve Proposals at Annual General Meeting
You can also call the company to uphold its stated commitment to responsibility. e.g.

From tropical seas to the Arctic Circle, from 10 feet to 10,000 feet deep, our work takes us to some of the most amazing places on earth. It is our duty to be aware of the environment around us and to ensure our activity does not adversely affect it.
FIRST for the Environment

# Financial Discipline – Our investment in energy conservation and waste management will reduce our environmental footprint while saving money and wear on equipment.

# Integrity and Honesty – We will report and investigate any environmental incidents openly and honestly.

# Respect – We have a profound respect for the environment in which we work each day.

# Safety – Safeguarding people, property and the environment around us is paramount.

# Technical Leadership – Our use of the most up-to-date systems and procedures will ensure environmental protection and continued good stewardship.

At Transocean we demonstrate our commitment to Environmental Responsibility every day through the global use of our Environmental Management System and our links with external stakeholders. Please navigate the pages in this section to learn more about our efforts across the company and the many ways our employees contribute to environmental protection and understanding.

Copyright © 2010 Transocean Ltd.

I can - and do - vote my proxies.

However - I simply cannot afford to take the time off of work and incur the expense of flying to and attending the meetings. And even if I were to attend - my influence is limited to the proportion of shares I own.

BTW - unless I see a real reason otherwise, I typically vote against retaining the current board of directos and senior management at companies I own stock in. My theory is that even a competent board need to be 'kept on their toes.'

I'd venture to guess most corporations in the US aren't publically traded for starters. The primary reason for forming corporations is very much to shield the individual, actual human from liability, and in many cases from taxation. Hence the LL in "LLC."

Most corporations in the US are 'Schedule K' corporations. The purpose of a 'K' corp or an LLC is generally twofold. First it shields the owner's personal assets from liability claims against the corporation (Dr's Offices are one of the most common examples here) and in addition it shields the owners from 'double taxation' in that the government taxes the profits of the corporation then places an additional tax on any dividends paid by that corporation.

I think you mean "S corp". The reporting schedule for shareholders' income or loss of an S corp is Schedule K. The corporation itself is called an S corporation.

The purpose of that shield is to encourage the formation of corporations as a means of engaging in the investment of capital in the pursuit of profit. If people were not shielded they would not invest is these pursuits and we would not have a capitalistic society.

The shield is not unlimited thought. This is why corporate officers who engage in some types of criminal behavior go to jail.

How often to corporate criminals go to jail?! That's pretty rare.

What you are describing here is called an 'ethical delemina.' This situation occurs whenever a person's legal and moral obligations conflict. In this case the senior management at BP have conflicting obligations - any action taken to satisfy one set of obligations will result in compromise of the other set.

And corporate officers do not act in order to benefit an 'entity' - they are legally and morally obligated to act in the best interests of the _people_ who own that entity (the shareholders). In effect the corporate officers are trustees of the money entrusted to them by everybody who invested in the enterprise.

Here is an example of a similar situation I face in my own life. My parents had a messy divorce several decades agow which resulted in my mother owing a significant amount of money to my father - which she never paid. A few years ago she had a stroke and as a result I was required to take over management of her affairs. The legal documents involved require that I manage her finances in her best interests. As a result I had to determine that I would not may my father the money he is owed so I can preserve it to cover her medical care and nursing-home fees. This is despite the fact that from an ethical viewpoint - that is really my father's money I am spending.

Sometimes there are no good answers.

Corporate officers may be "legally" obliged to benefit the corporation and shareholders. Under current law. But morality transcends the law. For example, laws may change. But your moral compass may continue to point you in certain directions - which you hold dear, which you perhaps might die for.

I think you put your finger on it when you pointed to the "moral dilemma" aspect. Thus, even corporate officers, as indeed any one of us (as you have described in your own situation) may find themselves between a rock and a hard place, when it comes to making moral/ethical decisions.

For example - at any point in this chain of mismanagement that led to the blow-out - had there been a corporate officer who simply refused to go along with a directive - out of concern for the environment or for the safety of workers and so on, even if that person had been over-ruled and fired, would we not hold that person out as hero, trying to hold back the tide of a greedy corporation, flagrantly flouting best practices, heedless of the common good for society?

One thing that I find ironic is our own biases that corporations seem to owe us - but we have no obligation to them in return. When we talk about 'the good of society' we are really saying: 'what benefits me.'

During my years in the military there was a leadership concept that was drilled into me: 'Loyalty works both ways.' In effect if you want somebody to be loyal to society and work for the good of society even to the dettriment of their own interests - shouldn't society have an equaly obligation of loyalty in return?

How do we prevent corporations from taking the institutional attitude of: 'We care as little about you as you care about us?' due to how we treat them?

Please give examples of what you mean. That would be helpful. How am I to be "loyal" to a corporation whose shares I do not own, whose products I do not buy? Even if I do own or buy, I am free to divest myself of those. So... not sure what you mean. Your leadership concept would seem to apply to people who work for a corporation - as those who are "in" the military. But perhaps you can explain.

One question: Who defines and decides what is "the common good for society?"

Well, what about morally, ethically?

Well, here's the rub. Give me 10 people and I should be able to identify at least 11 opinions on what the moral and ethical responsibilities might be, and how they ought to be weighed in those many hard cases where You Can't Have It Both Ways. So we end up looking to the law because all else turns to fuzzy mush having no existence save in the eye of the beholder. The world is too big for it to be otherwise.

The days of living in tiny and relatively isolated and tribal (sometimes in a loose sense) villages, and intuiting the responsibilities - and pushing out into the woods anyone who intuits "wrong" in the eyes of the chief bully - are over. Seven billions do not constitute a tribe or a family and cannot be expected to function thusly. They constitute something else, something new that has never been seen in full before, something only hinted at by the historical Roman, Chinese, Moghul, or even British empires.

Unless we return to a sense of common purpose...

(Emphases added.) That overarching conceptual we hardly existed until a century ago, except rarely as the violent imposition of a royal we. That common purpose, except as imposed by the royal we, was without existence beyond the tiny tribal village.

Nor do I see that "we" have ever reified it beyond that. Nowadays, with a great (over-) abundance of both real and sententious "diversity", what could possibly be the "common purpose" for which "we" would be conscripted into marching in lockstep, and, and amidst the "diversity", who are the "we"?

Common Purpose. Ok, let's turn to the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Looks like a sense of "common purpose" undergirds our whole society and has done for centuries now. Sorry to be the bearer of this news.... which you may have forgotten.

deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Seems this part was forgotten a long time ago

"deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Seems this part was forgotten a long time ago

The government has a perfectly rational way to assess your attitude.

It's called informed voting. There is no fault, and no blame, to be assigned except to the foolish citizens who are so busy living their little local lives that they willfully ignore the larger society.

It's OUR fault we don't vote intelligently!

Even more so since the internet now gives us the tools we need to inform ourselves.

If we don't, we deserve the laws and government we have.


We have elevated corporations above the law and fostered a sense that it's ok for their officers to behave in ways that benefit an "entity" but harm society or the environment.

As others have so ably said in the thread, the fact that 'We, the People ...' allowed corporations that are granted privileges by government, to also acquire rights as a Man before the Bar, is leading to the destruction of our constitutional Republic. I know this is not the venue to pursue that line of investigation, but it should be brought to fruition in the near future, or I fear our children will have no future with freedom.

You always give great questions, and thoughtful commentary. Thank you, TheraP.

There does seem to be a problem with the incentive structure.

I'm sure BP is doing all they can to stop the leak- it is in their interest.

Their self interest, when it comes to clean up and compensation, is less clearly aligned with doing right and it is congress's fault. With them having to pay for all clean up that is done but their liability capped so they won't have to pay for the consequences of inadequate clean up there are doubtless lawyers and MBAs in the company who believe that since their highest responsibility is to their stockholders that they should scrimp on clean up and fight all claims for compensation.

What I'd like to see is the government step in and compensate everyone immediately and then collect from BP. But both the right and the trial lawyers would hate it so there is little chance that congress would authorize it.

The government could possibly throw more resources at clean up and protection and collect later for

Hi wrb,

I sense your frustration.

There is some good news. First, BP's liability is not capped. I'm assuming you are referring to the 75 million. That has been agreed to by BP under oath before Congress.

Second, BP has a substantial claims program in place and Congress is putting pressure on them to continually improve it. (Check the liability hearing on C-Span) By the way, for the government to step in would basically require the process to start over and we would lose a month's work.

As far as compensating everyone immediately, I think you feel the rate of response needs to be improved, not that everyone who walks through the door is handed a check without having the documentation first. Situations like this bring out the worst in some people and a small percentage who come in are there to scam the system. Again, it is the process that needs continued improvement, I doubt the government could run a substantially better claims operation.

The government is not shy about billing BP for money they spent on BP's responsibilities. The first bill went out in the mail last week, if I remember correctly.

All that said, yes, BP will not spend more money than they feel they have to. There will be areas of legal disagreement. I expect most of those will not see the light of day until after the well is killed and the public's attention moves on. That is when our government has to be held accountable for following through with all the rhetoric they have been putting out to date.

We saw with the Valdez and Bhopal that these things just drag along for years and years and people's lives are wrecked while waiting for too little too late.

We can approve drilling permits with an apparent 5 minute turn-around time but there's every reason to believe people will lose businesses and homes and have medical bills racked up from this long before seeing a penny from BP.

The drumbeat in America is always for more regulation for the little guy and less for the big guy. There's always the assumption that industry can police itself, but the average schmo is a welfare queen. I can't see holding up pay outs on claims for everyone because 1% or 5% or even 10% might be scams.

Fix the court system then. Bhopal especially dragged on because of the ridiculous nature of the Indian government and bureaucracy.

Why would Union Carbide insist on the Indian government forcing it to make good by the community?

"We'd love to do the right thing for the disabled villagers, but their government's legal system makes it hard for us to battle having to pay them until so ordered." Well that's a heck of a way to operate day to day.

I am in the medical field, and therefore cannot comment with any authority on the mechanics of oil well drilling on land, much less in 5K' of water. But I do have experience in regards to incorporation, purposes of LLC (within the medical community) and cost of doing "medical work" in the current climate of CYA against litigation. Hence that is why so much money is spent on a lawyers retainer fees and PR.

While is it fair to say that incorporation is done to protect the shareholders as they do not have say in how the operation of the company is done, that is not, IMO, the primary reason. And here is why. LLC, utilized by most professional persons (remember corporations are legally persons) who's nature of their business puts them in harms way for a litigation barrage (such as lawyers, medical personal, BP, etc), intend for that LLC to be a barrier to the person's own private wealth. The typical medical malpractice policy covers up to a million, and there are no funds available beyond that, regardless of the damages awarded.

Both the UK's constitution and the USA's constitution were founded on the proposition that there are higher transcendent laws that supersede the Constitution, the King/President, Parliament/Congress, and subsidiary laws. When transcendent law is breached, then the people have the right to interpose, and even change the government as needed. e.g., as Archbishop Stephen Lagdon led the Barons to impose the Magna Carta (1215) over King John, and the US Founders issued the Declaration of Independence against King George III & Parliament. They appealed to:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . . We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;. . .
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

@David L Hagen
A small point: Neither "God" nor "creator" is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

If the Founders were so insistent upon founding our nation as a religious one they'd have surely put something about Him in there, no?

The Constitution carefully avoids enumerating the exact moral platitudes the "Creator" expects, and then goes on to obviously leave morality to the informed consensus of the populace.

Unfortunately, as time went by, the citizenry became complacent and shoved that nasty and time-wasting "informed" part under the mattress, where it now sleeps.

That would be the bed we're sleeping in now.

All the high-flying ideology about revealed morality is bunk. You want to find morality, look in the genome, and cultural anthropology.

It's the best we can do, and it's actually all we need.

God isn't dead. It never existed.

Question: When changing from one cap to another can the oil already in the riser be retained or must the siphon be re-started?

On flange mating: Can a tactile "snapshot" be taken of the rough surface / bolts / cut pipes etc. as when a dentist fits a crown?

On Relief Wells: How long from successful interception to completed plug?

Takes me around an hour to read each page so please forgive me if I'm a bit out of kilter w. current discussion or have asked questions already answered.

The well provides the head pressure to fill the riser. The reservoir will continue to flow oil with pressure until the natural gas cap is depleted. I think think is determined by the structure of the reservoir. Not all reservoirs are of a continues gas cap. There have been many knowledgeable articles written here on that topic. Some pertain to water injection to re-create head pressure.

Why's it called a syphon then?

I don't think it's a siphon in the traditional sense, because what we normally call a siphon works via gravity because a liquid generally tries to seek it's own level, so as long as the outflow end is lower than the level of liquid in a container, the siphon will work.

In the case of this well, while gravity is involved, the upward flow works because oil is roughly 80% the density of water, so if the bottom of the cap is open to the sea -- even if the opening is small -- the water will try to push the oil upwards, until the weight of the oil in the tube balances the water pressure.

So if you have a tube from the bottom to the ship above, the water will naturally push the oil upwards. If you continue to replace the oil as the well does, then the water keeps pushing on the column of oil, but the water never gets into the tube because the pressure of the column of oil balances the water pressure.

Simple experiment:

1) Take a spray bottle, remove the plastic tube from the spray head and wash it out (or get a clear soda straw)

2) Get a clear glass a couple of inches shorter than the tube and fill it with water, nearly to the top

3) Pour a little cooking or olive oil into another glass

4) Using the tube like a straw, suck oil into the tube until nearly to the top, then plug the top with your finger (I did this by putting my finger in my mouth along with the straw, then put my finger over the top when I tasted the oil).

5) Keeping your finger over one end, put the other end of the straw/tube into the glass, all the way to the bottom and remove your finger from the top.

The oil will begin to drop in the tube, coming out the bottom, but the oil will eventually hit a level in the tube that will be 1/2" to 1" higher than the water level (depends on the height of the glass. I used a 4" glass, so the oil was about 1/2" higher.

This is the principle that's at work here, but replace the cooking oil with crude and the fresh water with seawater, and then scale it up to work in 5000 feet of water.

Thanks Dave. I knew all of that already, learned it at school. Also I'm a washing machine repairman. I wasn't asking what a syphon was. Also I read it in a previous thread where you posted it! I was trying to answer landrew's post in which he suggested the oil goes up due to well pressure.
Anyhooo... None of this answers even my first question.
So I'll pose that again. But I dunno' why bother? Nobody has time to read this stuff. Nah, never mind. It doesn't matter anyway. Oh, go on then, I'll put it another way..How long does it take to swap from one cap to the next? Does the whole syphon have to be primed again?

"The reservoir will continue to flow oil with pressure until the natural gas cap is depleted."

An extended area of water-filled rock connected to the oil reservoir will also allow oil to flow with pressure. However, in my limited experience to these deep water reservoirs, they often seem to have fairly limited aquifer support.

I have seen comments that this oil was undersaturated (though not by much): If so, there should have been no original gas cap. The GOR derived from the published gas and oil recovery volumes yesterday seems about right for a 'normal' oil at the depth and pressure of this reservoir, and certainly indicates no gas cap is exposed in the well.

If the reservoir indeed lacks a primary gas cap and strong water support, then pressure and production rates should decline rather quickly ('quickly' is only a relative term though - 50% or even 100% per year is still a lot of oil into the Gulf.)

Thanks for the more detailed info:) I was very uncertain of any water flow in these deep reservoirs? I have asked Rock to give a more detailed view with his deep water experiences. Would you think this well in Miss. 252 would be similar to that of the lower boundary of Gahwar in KSA? With multiple gas caps and changing fault lines within the same reservoir?

Sorry about that double post. I will add instead, BP will map the edges of this reservoir and determine sites of either water or nitrogen injection to increase flow rates.

Yesterday while watching the video from Enterprise ROV II, I could see the 'fins' at the bottom of the cap. It appearred that the cap was still 'floating' above the riser. Does BP plan to 'hard land' the cap onto the riser assembly? Why didn't they plan a larger rubber 'sleeve' to go over the jagged cut of the riser?

Because that cut was not as clean as desired, engineers decided to switch to a different cap among the seven that had been constructed. The one selected, with the number “4” painted on the side, was not on the sea bed, the technician said. It had to be lowered by another ship and then hooked up to the drill ship.

This cap was designed with rubbery materials and soft metal to seal against the flange that joins the riser pipe to the preventer stack, but the flange has bolts of different sizes and heights. “It’s all problematic,” the technician said, describing the switch in caps as a scramble.

The technician said that shortly after the cap was successfully placed, Dr. Chu wondered aloud why oil was still spewing from around the bottom. Engineers had to tell him that the leaks were expected, at least initially.

For at least an hour after the cap was in place, the technician said, two remotely operated submersibles pushed on the device from opposite sides, “so it would not move on its own accord” under the pressure of the oil and gas, the technician said.

Other submersibles monitored the equipment with their video cameras, and one watched the sea bed from a few feet above it, looking for signs that building pressure in the well might be causing problems below.

The technician said the assembled crowd, which included workers from BP and other companies involved, was in “pretty good cheer” after the cap was successfully placed. “But you have to temper all that right now because you don’t know the final result,” he said.

Did you notice that the fins are no longer translating w.r.t. the BOP today?

The technician is confused about the cap not being on the sea floor already.

This video from May 31 shows (not as clearly as desired)
the LMRP cap #2 (side number 4) on the sea floor as of May 31. It's to the left of LMRP cap #1.
One can barely make out that it's yellow, and the 4 vent valves and 2 methanol ports are just fuzzy dots.

I saw it being hooked up Thursday.

Considering the velocity of the oil that was shooting out of the cut (mangled) riser pipe after shear job, I can see the reason for "jet effect". With the present "cap" over the riser flange some oil will reverse direction and head downward and out the around the bottom edge of the barrel shaped part. This oil would then escape past the seal, but it would shield the flow from seawater intrusion.

My main concern is the small size of the new collection pipe going to the ship's LMRP. I have heard that it is 6" ID, which seems too small since bouyancy and expanding gas will be means to push oil up the pipe. Right or wrong?

A Housekeeping Suggestion

The last thread was shut down with just 120 comments (and the start of an interesting discussion on oil metabolism increasing the GoM Dead Zone via oxygen depletion).

Why not an all bold letter post/ announcement that a new thread (with a link) has opened up but allow continued responses on existing debates ?


My suspicion is that it's to do with distributing server load. If you're synthesising the page from a database, you're probably reextracting each comment from the database (N database access for each user/page refresh). If the page is accepting changes, to a first order approximation (ignoring, eg, invalidatable caches), you've got to do this from the master database, whch only runs on one server, because you don't know if something has changed (an edit, etc). If the thread is frozen, then you can safely make a copies of the database and put them on each auxilliary server you've got. So there's probably a limit on "active articles comment length" that won't bring down the main server.

(NB: I don't know if this is how this particular software works, but it'd be a reasonably common architecture.)

Let me first start off with saying I'm an engineer familiar with fluid mechanics (civil engineer), but in no way familiar with the complexities of deep sea oil drilling. Looking at this cap though, it appears to me that there's no place inside it to help reduce the turbulence before it enters the riser to the ship above.

Would it work better if the cap had a mushroom shape to it above the initial throat over the riser? The larger volume between the riser and the current oil outlet would dissipate some of the turbulence and increase the draw of the pipe leading to the surface. Or would that kind of design create some other problem (formation of hydrates, etc) similar to what happened to the initial larger structure?

For that matter, would it be possible to retrofit the larger cap structure they gave up on earlier with heating and antifreeze devices to keep the hydrates from forming? That would at least increase the capture of oil flowing from the pipe, assuming they kept it clear.

I also think its worth to ask why the first cap was just forsaken without some trial of Methanol injection and/or additional heating.
In general a lot of things happening here are quite disputable and BP does not publish information for people who are more familiar with engineering and does not tell why they do things so and not others. I think it is their duty to inform accuratey also about technical details.

duh, couldn't be engineered/ manufactured in situ

First cap as in "the coffer dam over the end-of-riser leak"?

Huge internal volume, no ports to add methanol IIRC.
They'd have had to drag it back to the surface, and even so, how would you fill it with methanol?
n.b. the RIT I think also used the "fill the drill pipe with nitrogen to flush all the water out" trick.
There's no way to purge such a huge volume box with nitrogen.

First cap as in "LMRP cap #1" - it was designed to seal on the flat surface of a diamond wire saw cut. When the diamond saw was abandoned, so was any hope of use it's seal. So they just picked up it's neighbor waiting on the sea floor - LMRP cap #2 was designed to seal around the edges of the flange.

Bendal, I also feel a solution might be possible based more on elimination of turbulence. However, it would be contingent on the ability to transport larger volumes to the surface, ie big pipe and big pumps. Not having the information on what the possible pumping configuration could be, there is no way to know if this idea would work, but, I don't see the hydrate formation happening in the seawater as the oil and gas flows unobstructed. So I would suggest a large funnel which would let the oil and gas and hydrates and seawater come to equilibrium and then the mixture flows or is pumped through a *smoothly filleted* transition to pipe. Some hydrates would not necessarily be a problem in a smoothly flowing system perhaps. I'm thinking a large cylindrical foundation on the sea floor, seawater entry slot, then large funnel to pipe.
At any rate it is a complete mystery to me why cap #4 has no provision to even attach securely to the flange it seems! As others have said they have a perfect (more or less) round flange edge to seal to! And there are no tightenable dogs or clamps or as others have said giant bungees, nothing. Seems odd.

Hi all, may I say what a fine thread this is and very informative, thank you all.

I was watching a feed late on the 3rd of June (GMT so mid day of the 3rd in the Gulf I think) before the cap was lowered onto the BOP. There was a large disk on the pipe between the cap and the LMRP. While I was watching it was attacked by an ROV and the washer/seal at the centre was pulled out. A new washer was put onto the pipe and I went to bed. I've had a look about and can't find an explanation as to what the disk was and what they were up to. Can anyone enlighten me?


Fingers crossed this works! For the Gulf and BP.

must have been something to keep the whatever on location on the new riser, ROV kept pushing it back in place when it moved as riser descended, and when it was dropped, ROV got another and replaced it.

There was speculation earlier that the disk was in place to deflect the rising plume of oil & gas away from the LMRP.

From the OP: "...By not getting all the flow into the second pipe it should be possible to drop the suction in the chamber to the point that a little oil still leaks out (treated with dispersants) but the majority goes up the well. Getting this right should prove an interesting exercise. (But isn’t calculating this what the “best and the brightest” – Dr. Chu’s team - are there to do?)"

I should certainly hope the only direct involvement of the only science and engineering people on the planet outside of BP's team who have direct contact with them and some influence upon them isn't just to run some numbers to tweak what BP is already doing.

I would hope that we would have multiple teams of people working on solutions independently. By "soultions" I mean ANY workable plan to keep the oil contained or corraled, in addition to focusing on the point source of the pollution. I would hope they would also be looking at ways to divert the point source of the flow which might not have anything to do with the current top hat method.

Hi quizmasterchris,

The engineering group does have multiple teams workings on other options. As soon as a viable idea is identified a team is assigned to it. There is no waiting to see if the current effort fails before they get started.

They are also several steps ahead on the current solution. While we see what is in place, they have already projected ahead to what adjustments may need to be made and the engineering and fabrication is well under way, if not already completed.

PriorityX do you have some urls to good sources for information on the relief wells? I'm particularly interested in the casing design, the wellhead lockdowns, and the estimated depth for the final intermediate string.

Hi ov,

I'm assuming you are looking for the actual Well Design documents that BP must submit to MMS for approval. I'm not aware of any way to access them via the MMS website. I do seem to remember someone mentioning they found some BP documents but they contained only the header page and no detail. Not sure if they were Well Plan documents.

I did find the BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico if anyone is interested. It is a huge PDF document, almost 600 pages. The area of most interest is appendix H near the end of the document. That is where they discuss worst case response. Well, discuss, is probably not the best word to use. Basically, the response seems to be the same for all size spills. A list of resources available :-(

BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan - Gulf of Mexico

Further thoughts on sealing:
(Low tech is required because: fast implementation needed. Gives time to hi-techies to work on better ideas.)
So 1.Lift cap.
2.Place soft* "doughnut" seal over flange.
3.Lower cap.
4.Hold down with upscaled "bungee" cords.
No, I am NOT joking.

*Edit: "soft" at the pressure down there?
Alternative:Porous (sponge) so not compressed by pressure of water.But once compressed by bungee pressure and siphoning force pushing down on cap, pores will close.

Sorry about this. I'm an ideas person. Please forgive me for wishing to share them / bounce them off others.

Now that they have cut the bent riser off the BOP - why can't they start pumping mud and cement down?

1. no top to riser anymore to hold mud in
2. and even so, casing below BOP is unstable (see previous posts and main commentary) - could blow out everything

Old school, but material called Oakum is a wonderful thing.
Good stuff. Bet those young techies haven't considered it yet.

What's this super oakum, and how does it act at 2500 psi?

Interesting idea, in a way that is what they are doing in trial and error. I am not convinced that a fixtured bolted connected is really a good idea. If there is a hydrate block or surge in gas pressure at that point. I think they would want to pressure relieve at that point. With still so many unknowns about casings, bop and gas flows I would have doubts. They will most likely adopt your idea (or theirs) in time. Most of this will be shaped by the success of the relief wells the first choice of permanent containment. I think this question of a bolted connection is interesting in itself. Any others have comments on that topic?

Thanks for reply.
I said flange but I said nothing in that post about undoing any bolts. Leave it as it is and use doughnut and bungees as I said. If problems arise, take a couple of bungees off! PS: I recently posted another idea for pressure regulation around seal.

It's surreal to know that in 50 days, as a country, we have the ability to effectively deploy, co-ordinate & supply in the field one million military personnel, 15,000 tanks & vehicles, 4 carrier fleets and an entire air force. We can fly into space on a daily basis, and landed on the moon 40 years ago. Yet when it comes to an oil leak, it's all ad hoc and a robotic crimper. It can't be possible.

That's because as a country--for better or worse--we have 234 years worth of experience in exporting combative forces, and have it fine tuned to an art not seen on this planet since the days of Hannibal and Ghengis Khan. That is NOT the case with fighting an out of control well 1 mile down on the ocean floor.

The other thing is that I suspect that there are probably initial estimates for putting the nations forces into action in any place in currently even vaguely thought to be a future target in filling cabinets in the US, the UK, France, etc, etc, so the 50 days (was that a reference Iraq?) was "just" figuring out the fine details and actually moving stuff. It appears this hasn't been the case with deepwater drilling disaster recovery.

"That is NOT the case with fighting an out of control well 1 mile down on the ocean floor."

Sorry, but "lack of experience" won't fly in this case. Every possible contingency should have been thought out before they started drilling.

It amazes me they had no way to unbolt a damaged riser and bolt another one on, and with the well flowing too. The possiblity of a mile long riser being damaged beyond repair and needing to be replaced? Very high in my opinion. Yet they had no way to do it, and they come up with this mickey-mouse "top hat" duct-tape-style nonsense.

If I was Obama I'd shut every deep water project down until someone figures out how to get a decent friekin riser back on there and contain that flow.

Then I'd extend the shutdown a year, sending a nice strong warning message "Any of you f*%$ up again, and I'll shut it all down permanently."

Every possible contingency should have been thought out before they started drilling.

Since omniscience is not a human attribute that would mean we would never drill.

The same principle of zero risk extended to the discovery of fire would mean we would still be eating raw food.

I didn't say zero risk.

I said knowing in advance how to respond to the risk, in this case the rather high and obvious risk of a mile long riser being damaged beyond repair and needing to be replaced.

STA -- I fully agree about a zero risk world can never exist. But here's a very biased view from an insider: The blow out well was drilled to a depth of 18,000' below sea level. It was not uncommon for wells to be safely drilled to that depth 40 years ago. And often into reservoirs with much higher pressures than the blow out well encountered. And some of those wells did blow out when safe drilling protocols were not followed. But what obviously put the BP blow out into a whole nuther class is the water depth. Consider the BOP failure. The same type of failure has occurred any number of times on onshore and shallow water wells. Nothing new about that problem. But did BP, the MMS or any other operators develop plans to deal with such a problem at 5,000' below sea level? Not my area but from the statements by all parties they say they are trying to fix a problem never anticipated. Granted it's easy to be critical after the fact. But the potential for drill pipe getting stuck in the BOP and preventing closure has been well known since the first subsea BOP was deployed decades ago. The potential of shear rams to not completely cut drill pipe was the first discusion I heard about BOP's...and that was 35 years ago. Is putting the BOP below 5,000' of water going to make it more reliable? Just my own suspicion but I'll guess this potential problem had been discussed often with the conclusion that it would be extremely difficult to deal with. Thus the plan would be to make damn sure you don't blow out in 5,000' of water. IOW use the safest drilling protocol imaginable. Guess someone at BP forgot this part of the plan.

MMS did indeed anticipate this very problem...10 years ago!

See my post abt 30 min ago later in this thread. Whole article at:

"Did MS/OilIndustryfield tests predict subsurface plumes in a deepwater blowout?"

Since omniscience is not a human attribute that would mean we would never drill.

The same principle of zero risk extended to the discovery of fire would mean we would still be eating raw food.

But the risk from fire is largely a local risk. The risk of an uncappable spigot spewing poison into the ocean is a systemic risk that threatens entire regions, systems, and economies. There is not an infinite amount of risks to prepare for. It doesn't matter what causes the well to be out of control, just that the possibility, or, I should say eventuality, exists. The outcome is pretty much known - a severed pipe, a ruptured well casing - doesn't take a lot of imagination to envision what you might be up against. Reminds me of Condi Rice saying that no one could imagine planes being flown into buildings - either a lie or an incomprehensibly stupid thing to say. The oil companies don't seem to have anything in place in the event of such a disaster because the quarter to quarter profits and bonuses are more important to them than dealing with this eventuality. It is stunning that we have allowed them to put us in this position. There is no reason we can't safely drill for oil. It's just that it is cheaper to do it in an unsafe manner - at least according to the flawed economic logic of greed.

My reaction is to the statement that every possible circumstance be evaluated and planned for.

It is not possible unless you are omniscient. It also implies that doing so will eliminate the risk of some unanticipated bad thing happening when you engage in a certain activity. Again this is not within the purview of human endeavor since we are not omniscient.

The only way to avoid risk is to not do the thing in the first place. Thus my reference to fire and raw food.

A few days ago somebody posted about a manual that Admiral Rickover demanded be developed before nuclear submarines were deployed. It contained the appropriate responses to any imagined incidents that might occur. The document was continually revised in response to real life situations. I've looked but unfortunately have not been able to locate that comment.

My background is in IT, not nuclear submarines or oil extraction, but my experience in system design and implementation has often entailed detailing far more responses to what might go wrong than to defining the desired outcome. Conjuring up bad outcomes and how to avoid them is part of the job.

The oil industry has apparently not only not developed an effective guide on responses to a possible deepwater failure, it has allowed a known flaw - the inability of the BOP shear rams to cut through a drill pipe joint - to be acceptable in the one piece of equipment that is supposed to be the last bulwark against failure.

And following this manual is one of the things that caused the USS Thresher to sink. The reactor operators went 'by the book' and shut down the reactor - without considering the consequences to a submarine what was relying on forward motion to keep control of their depth.

Blind obedience to rules and written procedures is just as dangerous as ignoring those same rules and procedures.

The Navy's investigation concluded that while the Thresher was operating at test depth, a leak had developed at a silver-brazed joint in an engine room seawater system, and water from the leak may have short-circuited electrical equipment, causing a reactor shutdown and leaving the submarine without primary and secondary propulsion systems. The submarine was unable to blow its main ballast tanks, and because of the boat's weight and depth, the power available from the emergency propulsion motor was insufficient to propel the submarine to the surface.

And that incident also had multiple causes, and previously performed maneuvers that in that one case went awry without adequate recovery procedures.

The same principle of zero risk extended to the discovery of fire would mean we would still be eating raw food.

I keep trying to picture it, what it would have been like if the namby pambys, liberals, the various environmentalist groups would have been around when the Hamill Brothers drilled that first discovery well in Texas, the Spindletop. Those people risked a lot, but the old saying nothing ventured nothing gained. We would have never gone to the moon if those who don't like taking risks were calling the shots.

Lucas continued drilling and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 ft (46 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). It took nine days before the well was brought under control.[2] Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont's population of 10,000 tripled in three months and eventually rose to 50,000.[5]

Offshore drilling... When a plane crashes we don't ban flying. When a bridge collapses we dont stop building them. Large cranes have fallen and killed workers and bystanders while building large skyscrapers yet we continue to build larger and larger skyscrapers.
So why should we stop drilling for oil when one accident takes place?
Learn from the mistakes and move on!! If you could eliminate human error there would never have to be another accident or mistake made. By either poor design or operation.
Some like to call that progress to pickup the pieces analyze what went wrong and fix it. I agree that other forms of energy need to be explored, if for no other reason than the limited supplies available for the growing populations of the world.
China is a large player now. They will be drilling off of Cuba near the Florida coast even if the U.S. companies are barred from it.
Repsol has contract for oil rig said Cuba-bound
Repsol has one-year contract for drilling rig

I wonder if Obama will be in a position to tell China they can't drill off of Cuba's coast so near to Florida?

I keep trying to picture what it would be like if we had let the "damn the torpedoes," screw the bunny-huggers, "get 'er done" cowboys free rein in producing our energy resources.

Oh, wait! Look at those ROV feeds. Look at those marshes. Look at that oxygen depletion calculation. Didja see the memorial for those dead hands?

We did give them free rein. And the picture is perfectly clear.

Is there any chance we could keep a thread like this on-topic? If not, it becomes much less valuable to me and I'm less likely to keep visiting and even *less* likely to make another cash donation.

Sorry, but "lack of experience" won't fly in this case. Every possible contingency should have been thought out before they started drilling.

Maybe it should have been but this is where the overconfidence and arrogance of the management and engineers comes into play. They didn't really expect to have to fight this fight.

If I was Obama I'd shut every deep water project down until someone figures out how to get a decent friekin riser back on there and contain that flow.

Then I'd extend the shutdown a year, sending a nice strong warning message "Any of you f*%$ up again, and I'll shut it all down permanently."

Yep that ought to do it punish us all, even us lowly workers who are out of work already. That will show us. What will be really interesting is when the retailers begin to hurt from the lack of business because we just can't afford shop anymore. People are already hurting from this.
But yeah that will teach us.

BP's 'Publicity Stunt 5.0' seems to be 'working'. Good, I can go back to bed.

I am a nobody and a newbie - as I am unashamed to keep saying. And I possess no technical information that would drill a well, save a well, or kill a well. I'm trying to learn and to help in ways that I can, and to refrain from asking questions which I could learn via Google or searching this site.

I do have a question, an important one, one which I intend to ask (and perhaps re-ask) in order to be sure we haven't overlooked anything with regard to asking for more relief wells.

Here's my question:

Are there factors specific to this wild well (things which happened during drilling or during the well-drilling short-cuts and subsequent catastrophic events), which complicate or constitute a danger to the drilling of ANY relief wells, let alone more relief wells - in this particular situation?

[I have already advocated here for more relief wells: The more relief wells, the sooner a killed well, so goes the saying. Just as the more expeditions trying to climb Mt. Everest, the sooner someone actually makes it there - and people climb it - in spite of the risks.]

However, from everything I read, it seems like bad things occurred down this well. Bad things that apparently might put relief wells also at risk. Or bad things that will make it harder to actually kill the well or may risk a worse blow-out in the process of trying to kill the well. Bad things which I, a rank amateur, am unable to completely understand and thus unable to evaluate. (So I am looking to assess the moral responsibility I am taking on - for encouraging more relief wells.)

I am seeking expert advice: Are there any factors, specific to this well, which would cause experts to advise against doubling the number of relief wells currently being drilled?

Your assistance is appreciated. And please, I am truly seeking advice from experts. Indeed, I would love it if one or more experts did an entire post on this in the coming days. To me it is crucial to weigh and consider all the risks. To foresee them, if possible, even if decisions are made to multiply the number of relief wells - as our best way of ending this catastrophic oil spill in the gulf.

Thanks for your indulgence and assistance. As I may repost this request - to be on the safe side.

TheraP, In my experience I can't visualize a situation where more than 2 operational relief wells would be neccesary to kill this well. The key is "operational". Drilling 1 well has considerable risk of delays and possible downhole trouble just getting to the kill zone, based on the troubles experienced in the blowout well during drilling. A 2nd well reduces the possibility of not getting a relief well down in a reasonable time interval. More than 2 wells would be a waste of money and resources(manpower), in my opinion.

You're speaking in general. And I respect that. But in this case, with the catastrophic nature of what is occurring, the money and resources may be very, very justified! Not to you, perhaps, but to the public at large - which is paying very close attention. People are feeling horrified and also helpless. Knowing there are multiple back-ups will not only assuage their concerns but will provide an ongoing series of events for them to pay attention to - especially if any one of these relief wells also fails.

As a side-effect, you will also employ a few people who might otherwise be unemployed - at a time of great economic hardship.

I can see many positive side-effects to outweigh what you would view as wasted money and resources.

I'm talking this case - not every case.

Sure why not, get somemore drill ships and circle 'em up. Think of the visuals. Like TF 58 back in WW Deuce. Only downside is those drill ships cut down on the size of the BPie and speaking as a prospective slice holder I don't want that.

I sincerely apologize for not comprehending what you have just said there. Though it would seem you personally feel that paying for back-up relief wells would cause you to suffer financially. You have my sympathy there. But that might not change my stance here one bit.

I can appreciate your concern and frustration - I share them.

But your solution reminds me of the time we needed a baby in three months, so we tried hiring another two pregnant women. Didn't work - still took nine months. Some things take time.

Besides we have a new drilling moratorium. Would you want to start new wells before the new regulations and requirements are reviewed and in place? If you think more relief wells are ok then it should be safe to drill anywhere in the GOM. They would be using the same techniques.

But your solution reminds me of the time we needed a baby in three months, so we tried hiring another two pregnant women. Didn't work - still took nine months. Some things take time.

As has been pointed out earlier by other posters, the situation is closer to
- we need a baby in nine months
- a woman known to be pregnant runs a 15-20% chance of miscarrying
- starting with two (or more) women pregnant increases the chances that there will, indeed, be a baby in nine months

I don't think TheraP and others are asking for a relief well to be drilled in sooner than 90 days - rather the desire is to decrease the chance that it will take considerably longer than 90 days to achieve a successful well.

Safety has got to be paramount. Rushing is not the point, as you well suggest.

If there is a comparison to these relief wells, it should not be a biological one, to begin with. To speak about women this way - as if you "want them for a baby" is troublesome to me on many levels.

I think my example of climbing Mt. Everest may be a better example. Multiple teams. Better chance one expedition will make it. The task is not without risk. The outcome is uncertain in terms of time needed and so on.

Drilling 1 well has considerable risk of delays and possible downhole trouble just getting to the kill zone...

Yes, this has been demonstrated time and time again. Lets except this as a given, that any given relief well will not solve the problem, and, in fact could kick just like this one.

A 2nd well reduces the possibility of not getting a relief well down in a reasonable time interval.

Are you implying that there are not enough operational personnel to go around? Call Exxon, call Chevron, call any number of oil service companies and get them out there. This is small thinking. This is the same calculus that got us into this situation. What price can we put on the plankton, the shrimp larvae, the tuna, the whales, the turtles, the oysters, the coral reefs, the marshes and wetlands, the fishing economy, the tourist economy and the hundred of thousand of jobs and personal destinies of the people who are connected to those economies and the ripple effects on the economies that rely on those economies....

More than 2 wells would be a waste of money and resources(manpower), in my opinion.

I have said this but so many want them punished they want it and they want it now.

The biggest problem I see is they don't have any idea what it takes to start pulling all of this together in a hurry.

Although, thanks to BP there are a lot more idle rigs to be had, but I am like you, what is the point? Other than to just punish BP more than they already will be? We still haven't seen tar and feathers yet, maybe that is still coming.

The professional consensus seems to be that while problems were encountered they were neither unique nor out of the ordinary for this type of well. The relief wells may encounter difficulties but they should be able to deal with them.

Thera -- You're not a nobody. TOD has a strict policy of not accepting "no bodies". So shut up already. LOL.

There were various problems with drilling the original hole. Some were no doubt related to not having specific info on the nature of the rocks they were drilling. But they now have that history to help design the RW's. In a former position I was tasked with monitoring such drilling efforts and modifying the program as we drilled. Have the drilling history on such a nearby well is a very big plus.

But as pointed out before even when there are no serious problems a 60-day well can take 80 days...or more. Obviously the most dangerous phase is when they cut into the wild flow in the blow out well. They will be basically reproducing the situation that caused the original explosion and fire. Except this time they know what's ahead of them. The biggest risk to getting the blow out stopped ASAP will be losing the RW when they make the intersect. The odds of losing that first RW? My standard smart *ss answer: 50/50....either it will or it won't. That's why having a second RW going is a wise move. Multiple RW's won't get to the intersect point any faster. But having another RW or two right behind the first can save another 2 or 3 months of pollution is they lose the first RW and had to start from scratch.

Ok, Rockman, I hereby accept that I am "somebody" - and I appreciate the critique. ;)

More than anything, however, I appreciate your answer. For it helps me weigh my conscience on the side of more relief wells. I'd be happy with the 3 you have gone on record for recommending. And I'm trying to get that for you!

Also, thanks for the clarification on WHY more relief wells. I understand now the reason for the "back-up relief wells" - that's going to be my "phrase" from now on. To call them "back-ups".

If there is no downside to more back-ups here, then the pluses multiple on a number of levels. Including psychological. For the public is horrified and feeling helpless. And having ongoing reports on relief wells will be... in the coming months, well... a relief!

People need to see something happening. And the more things happening, the more they will feel a sense of "control" is down the road. That may not figure in to the engineering here, but it does figure in to helping the public tolerate the "wait" for the relief well to work and the wild well to be killed.

TheraP: Here's why I think Rockman is an expert. He can take a complex idea and put it into words that you and I can understand and lead us through his thinking step by step. And he does it freely and patiently, not common traits either. But don't tell Rockman this please.

Rock, could you speak to this question. From previous post and my response?
Interesting idea, in a way that is what they are doing in trial and error. I am not convinced that a fixtured bolted connected is really a good idea. If there is a hydrate block or surge in gas pressure at that point. I think they would want to pressure relieve at that point. With still so many unknowns about casings, bop and gas flows I would have doubts. They will most likely adopt your idea (or theirs) in time. Most of this will be shaped by the success of the relief wells the first choice of permanent containment. I think this question of a bolted connection is interesting in itself. Any others have comments on that topic?

landrew -- as far as the current capture efforts I'll point out that I'm a geologist and not an engineer although there are times when I pretend on TOD. Most of my world exists below the wellhead. Thus I tend to follow the words of Dirty Harry: A man has to know his limitations. So I'll tend to leave the topside analysis to the more qualified. Might surprise most here that I haven't been watching the videos of this subsea opera as it's been playing out. Such engineering bores the crap out of me to be blunt. I much rather keep my nose stuck in conversations where I one of the smarter folks in the room...that's such a rare occasion for geologists, ya know.

The ROV's sure are watching those gauges ... and apparently inspecting for new leaks lower on the BOP

Do I have this right?
BP reports siphoning 1810 bbls in the first 12 hrs (June 3rd).
That's a rate equivalent to approx 20% of the 20,000 bbl/day leak.
Which is also the estimated increase in leakage due to the kink & riser removal.

The flow of oil thru the 6" pipe would be (for the above rate)
at a velocity of ≈ 1.2 ft/sec

The 20,000 bbls is an estimate. The amount that comes up the riser will be finite. We will finally get an accurate flow rate rather then one calculated. I for one think the flow rate is less then the one the media hopes is the worst ever. Based on the lower reported flowing pressures and the high Gas Oil Ratio the oil flow is lessoning over time. The GOR should be increasing due to gas breaking out in solution in the reservoir. Lets hope this is the case because the gas is not as big a problem as the oil is. I'm also hoping for a lucky bridging over downhole. ie: for all you trolls out there that means the well would stop flowing on it's own from detrital breaking free and plugging the flow path. Two relief wells is fast enough. They will hit the well bore after a few attempts and it will work. The only worry is if they have delay's because of hurricanes.

Two relief wells is fast enough.

What is "fast enough" ?

What if the daily cost of the damage, to put a $ number on it, is $400 million/day in marginal damage ?

We both know that any DW well has a certain probability of long delays or failure. Why not increase the number of the rolls of the dice from two to four ?

Only $100 million a roll (just 6 hours damage ?) and BP's money at that !


I agree with a lot of the discussion that two wells may not be enough given the odds of success that the experts in this area have stated.

However those odds don't include containment efforts.

Suppose we have a 75% chance per well of success by the end of August, plus a 90% chance of containment by the end of August. This gives a 99.4% chance of ending oil entering the environment by end of August. Adding another well only improves this to 99.9. A fourth well adds very little.

At this point the question becomes is it worth it? Would that 100 million be better spent elsewhere?

One can play with the numbers, but the point is that the odds of containment by the end of August should be part of the assessment of how many wells are needed.

The track record for containment, thus far, is dismal.

The NYT is saying they're getting 1/10, after raising the flow by 20%.

Fast enough I mean you can't drill them any faster. Lets us a car accident as an example. It's reported and they send two ambulances. Should we send four just in case the other two don't make it? It takes at least three months to drill to TD of 18,000 feet. Two wells going down at the same time is fast enough. How many then 16 or 4 or what? Think before you just post something. This is 5000 feet below the surface and very high pressure and very high productive capacity. BP is planning for hurricane contingencies and also another take point using the kill lines.

If you don't know if it takes any given ambulance 15 min. or three hours to get there, and if I'm in the accident, I want the 4 ambulances.

12 ambulances minimum with backup on the tarmac.

Can I appoint you my Medical Power of Attorney? ;)

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
And mine is this:
This isn't a "car accident."

If anything,
this is a "Train wreck into a
crowded mall that's on fire."

You send as many "ambulances" as there are available,

Actually - you don't.

Instead you send a percentage of the locally availble assets and request assets from further away to provide 'mutual aid.'

This way you you will not have somebody with a heart attack die a half mile away because all your ambulances were committed.

Another issue is that you should not send more rescue assets to a scene than can be effectively managed. The last thing you want is for a traffic jam of emergency responders forming and as a result - ambulances can neither get in or out.

Trivia note: one of the primary reasons for those cameras we now see at street intersections is to manage the traffic flow of emergency vehicles in a major emergency.

Should we send four just in case the other two don't make it?

Strawman argument. The data would suggest that, no, it would be ridiculous to send more than one or two ambulances as ambulances that are dispatched tend to arrive successfully on the scene 99.999% of the time. The success rates of relief wells in a mile of water, 18 thousand feet down, is a different story altogether.

Everything is a sliding scale. Seeing as BP had to be prompted to even drill a second one shows me that the people who control the slider need to learn a little perspective. 16? Not practical. 4? Sounds good to me.

As I noted in the main post at the top of these comments measurements indicate that the total flow out of the well might be closer to 10,000 bd rather than 20,000 bd. Given that number, your 20% of the flow is right, and that would give, once in the drill pipe, the velocity you calculate. However this would only be a transient value since the flow contains gas, which will expand as the pressure in the fluid reduces as it flows up the pipe. The volume increase will also increase the fluid velocity.

Is there a theoretical maximum figure for the rate that can be collected with the single riser?
It would seem that even if they double to around 4Kbpd - optimistic - then thats still a catastrophy for the gulf as we are talking months for the relief wells.


I just heard Thad Allen state that the max capacity of the processing capacity is only 15,000 BOPD. I hope he had the wrong information. If the pre-riser cut rate was at the higher rate of 25,000BPD and the post riser rate was 20% higher or 30,000BPD even at the max capacity there would still be at least 15000 BPD escaping. Based on the videos after the final cut I would guess the rate to certainly be at the higher guess if not higher.

There is an additional consideration. As the rate increases up the riser and the vent valves are closed the backpressure from the sea water hydrostatic will be less thus allowing the rate to increase. This is something a production engineer could calculate and no doubt BP should have. End result, there could be more oil escape to the sea than before the riser was cut!!!

I hope BP are planning to add a parallel production train to increase the capacity. I would think just for the added revenue stream it would be worth it. This would require some coordination but given the problem and resources available, certainly doable.

They are planning to add additional parallel production streams... two are described in the informative Kent Wells 5.31 technical update video .

One will utilize some of the equipment set up during the failed topkill effort. The choke and kill valves on the BOP will be tapped and the flow of oil and gas will feed through the manifold already on the seafloor and then up to the Q4000, thus reversing the path used during topkill. Setup work on this is already underway.

A third path will incorporate some kind of buoyant riser system that can be disconnected close to the surface. That will allow for a fast disconnect and then later fast reconnect when the containment vessel needs to move out of the area due to an approaching storm.

The Wells video is well worth a few minutes of viewing time.

I was busy working this week, and didn't get a chance earlier to see that video that discusses among other things, the "jacket" that may yet go around the LMRP cap that will effectively prevent any seawater and allow for a better flow/capture of the oil. So thanks for the link. It answers several other of the questions I had.

Well it certainly appears this latest attempt is having some sucess. Hopefully we will hear today recovery is somewhere above 80-90% of total flow. Should this not be the case, I would submit the following proposal.
During the top kill attempt I believe BP stated they stopped the flow of oil while the mud was being pumped through the choke and kill lines. In other words the opposing flow of the mud was blocking the flow from the well. Why not continue with this method only switch the pumps to sea water (of which there is plenty) Seems to me a pump pressure of any amount above the flowing pressure (5 psi) would be sufficient to block the flow from the well. KISS! Is this a wingnut idea or what?.

Another question. In the well servicing industry I spent 30 yrs in. during a "kick", pipe in the hole is your friend. Instead of a top kill why was no attempt made to inject mud down the drill pipe that was laying expposed on the sea floor. I understand it was initially flowing oil until it was capped so it was not totally kinked to allow no flow. Injecting the mud downhole is the preferred method of regaining control. I apologize if this was already addressed earlier.
Too late now in any case.

I believe it was because that DP did not extend anywhere close to TD of the well, and there was no assurance of it retaining it's integrity. As you said--too late at this juncture anyway.

Static pressure is what you have to work against. At the well head static pressure (no flow) is estimated at 7000 to 8000 ambient (compared to water pressure at that depth). The original top kill effort had pumps that put out around 3000 or more psi at sea level, so combined with weight of 5000' mud column, that effort produced a pressure of around 8000 psi at the well head. That was enough to overcome the oil/gas flow but a large amount of the mud was leaking out riser and drill pipe. With pump pressure off the oil/gas reservoir pressure just blew the mud out.

IIRC the amount of mud pumped exceeded 15,000 barrels for the three days they tried that and the effort had effectively slowed or nearly stopped the oil/gas flow. They just could not keep pumping that amount of mud. The BOP was being stressed by this mud pumping and upper features of BOP might not have withstood long term mud pumping at high pressures IMO.

It is generally assumed here that seawater cannot be allowed into the flow because it would cause the formation of clathrates, which would block the flow. I know that happened with the earlier containment dome, but it seems that the experience has spooked everyone.

Move the top hat up a few feet from the BOP so that the bottom end is open to the sea. Start a flow of gas and oil - and inevitably some seawater - up the pipe. At steady state flow, gas lift will provide on the order of 400 psi driving force to move the mixture into the pipe and up to the salvage vessel.

Clathrates will form, but the driving force might be strong enough to sweep them along with the flow, preventing plugging.

Earlier posts rightly mention that the expansion of the methane during the gas lift could be unsteady, complicating the method and making it more dangerous to those on the salvage vessel. If this danger can be reduced to a reasonable level, why not try this idea? It might be able to capture all of the leaking oil and gas, in this gusher and those which will surely occur at other deep water drill sites.

Heading Out:

Considerable discussion, (some might call it flailing aimlessly) was critical of this recovery system, on the assumption that oil transport was driven by buoyant force alone. (discussions in thread 2).

Do you have a source for the inclusion of active pumping at the bottom?

With the inclusion of active pumping up the riser, this scheme looks like it might have a chance to capture a significant fraction of the oil. I like it.

I don't understand the term buoyant forces. Apologies, it is probably me. My understanding of this goes back to lectures on how water gets up trees. As I understand it the pressure in the hat and the bottom of the riser must be greater than the pressure created by the column of sea water otherwise it would not be blowing out of the hat with such force.

Now the oil is less dense than sea water, I think I read 80%? Therefore the pressure inside that hat can push a column of oil up 25% higher than the depth of sea water. This represents a good head of pressure at sea level without pumping. In practice the pressure inside that hat could greatly exceed the sea water pressure and the gas in the flow will reduce the "apparent density" of the oil making it easier to lift. I think buoyancy would only be involved if the oil was freely displacing the water and the water could flow back up the tube.

I would appreciate any feedback if I have this wrong?

There are others who have a better sense of this than I, but here is a start. The forces you think of in a tree are also affected by capillary forces, which govern fluids at small grain sizes, cell walls, etc. Bouyancy forces here is, as you say, due to density differences. A column of water is a hydrostatic column - the pressure at depth z is just rho g z - rho = density. WHen a fluid is injected at the base, and rho oil < rho water, there is a density instability, and as long as the density diff exists, there is a bouyant drive effect that is proportional to z. When you lower a tube into a hydrostatic column, to keep things stable, the inside of the tube needs to be pretty close to hydrostat, othewise you risk the pipes being damaged, etc [I am not sure what the riser strengths are - strong, I am sure}.

However, there are other issues inside the pipe, that others here know better than I. THere are significant energy losses due to the nature of the flow [turbulent vs. laminar] drag at the pipe walls, and the fact that it is a gas-oil mixture, so that it is a mutliphase flow problem. THus, while bouyancy can be doing some of the lifting, there are resisting forces as well.

It is, as engineers like to say, a complex problem.

You have both the expansion of the natural gas that already exists in bubble or perhaps slug flow, and you have the gas that continues to come out of solution from the oil. As they continue to expand, they take up less space, and the entire column of fluid is expanding on the way to the surface. Add to that the nitrogen being added at the bottom which can be customized to match the expected pressures and entrained oil/gas flow rate.

It's not exactly like using air bubbles to push up water through a pipe like a small fish aquarium filter, but that effect does exist too.

Well said!

I agree with bouyant force having limited ability to move oil up the small pipe, as reported to be 6" ID. Having a pump at the bottom would ensure greater flow as I think frictional forces in 5000' long pipe may be significant since gas is flowing with the oil (might be turbulent flow).

Anyone have experience with handling gas/oil fluid mix in small pipes like this?

This morning an engineering friend mentioned using a centrifuge separator that might be able to capture the oil. If placed below the ship LMRP the centrifuge would allow the gas to rise to surface on its own, but oil could be pumped up the pipe. Centrifuges are used a lot in food processing industry to separate liquids of various density or from gas.

The centrifuge idea above would require power and rotating equipment, but a cyclone type separator might work as it needs no movement of components or power to operate.

From BP's web site:

On June 4, a total of 6,077 barrels of oil was collected and 15.7 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next several days.

How much oil is a barrel of oil at sea level and how much is a barrel of oil at 5000' below?

And if there is a difference how big is the spill so far?

Liquid oil is, largely, incompressible for the pressure ranges we're talking about. A barrel (42 gallons) of oil will occupy essentially a barrel of volume at the water's surface or the seabed.

The same CANNOT be said for gasses. A bubble of free gas that occupies about 1 cubic foot at the surface will be compressed to about 1/150 of that volume at 5000 ft depth.

I expect that the behavior of the gas/oil solution coming out of this formation will be somewhere in between these two extremes. I BELIEVE it'll be pretty close to the liquid oil end of the spectrum, but I'd have to defer to somebody with knowledge and/or experience in the field.

It is important to understand that BP did not actually use the cap that is shown in most of their graphics and animation. They used an alternate that does not have the "grommet" meant to contact the sawed edge of the riser. The one they used simply fits over the outside diameter of the flange. I don't think there is any resilient material used at all and I don't know the annular clearance between the flange and the cap.

This cap is described in the technical briefing. I also saw them actually rig this alternate one the day before they installed it.

shelburn said, at approx 4:00 a.m., replies interlaced after dashes, note at end.

There are a number of ground rules you should understand:

A - the safety of the several hundred men working directly above this well is an absolute priority.
-- Agreed completely.

B – the laws of physics must be obeyed, not my choice, just immutable fact.
-- Agreed completely.

C – If what you do increases the spill you haven’t done any good.
-- Agreed completely. (There may be some issues in the "compared to what would have happened" department, or in differences in guessing chances of success.)

D – cost is no object, well maybe if it is $100 million or over, but then BP would pay $100 million in a heartbeat if they could stop this spill.
-- Agreed completely. (I would say 200 million, 300 million. We are playing for 100 billion plus in direct damages from spill.)

Your points -

1 – If you have a better way to keep the oil out of the water than “producing” it, ie getting it into a tank on a ship; I’m eager to know what it is. Bringing the oil and gas to the surface in an uncontrolled fashion is just starting another blowout with the almost certain probability of explosions, fire and death. It has to be brought to the surface in a safe manner, with minimal risk to personnel, and that means piping it into processing and separating equipment, in other words producing it.

-- Agreed completely as to uncontrolled bringing to the surface. Question is whether either a) oil can be kept from exiting at or near the sea floor, and, separately b) whether, if necessary, more oil can be safely handled at the surface rather than dispersed into the water.

As discussed previously in these threads the commercial value of the oil recovered is peanuts. If you considered only the direct cost of recovering the oil without any of the environmental or economic damage, it is still far greater than any possible value of the oil recovered.

-- Agreed completely.

2 – I would assume that if there was a way of increasing the processing capacity on the Discoverer Enterprise then BP will have done it. A lot might be done now that they know the make-up of the flow from the RITT. In addition they plan to start “producing” (that is the proper technical nomenclature) from the choke and kill line to a second vessel. If you watches the video feeds last night you saw an ROV holding the handle of a valve that was blowing oil straight up in the air. The choke and kill line are each the size of that valve.

-- I think I watched the same video. I never saw the ROV rotate the valve handle it was holding on to in order to close the valve -- but then I went to sleep MUCH earlier than you did.
-- I do not quite agree with the assumption that BP would necessarily have done everything possible to increase capacity at the surface. There is no question they should have done so. It would be good to know that they in fact have. But BP's record for doing everything it should have done is imperfect.

3 & 4 – If you are going to attack my work please at least do me the courtesy of reading it first. If the well head to BOP connection was to break you would increase the spill as much as 100% and greatly increase the difficulty to catch and recover it. The same for a major shift in the BOP internals. And if there was a rupture on the casing below the mud line then you have the worst case scenario, a totally uncontrolled blowout from below the mudline, probably twice as much as there is now and absolutely no way to recover or stop any of it until the relief well is completed.

-- I have made a careful effort to read what you have written, and to re-read it.
We are HUGELY agreed that breaking off the well head would only compound the disaster and the attending set of difficulties and problems.
We are hugely agreed that any rupture of the casing is a horror show to be avoided at all costs.
To the extent that anything is obstructing the bore hole, reducing the flow of oil to any extent it is being reduced, it is the casing coupled to the well head / BOP.
-- As to Blowout Preventer internals, I am suspicious that the account that possibly has the lower casing "slingshot" up into the BOP (blocking the rams), or something like that account is correct. The fact that, with all the gear/rov's around the BOP and no effort made further to try to close the rams is also suggestive that BP, or someone, knows the internals of the BOP are done for.

All of the equipment and piping down there saw pressures during the blowout that might have been double their working ratings and the entire stack and wellhead were yanked on for two days by the rig before it sank. They are in an unknown condition.

-- Agreed, but with observations as to some obvious knowledge and some limited knowledge. We know some good stuff -- I do not see oil coming out from below the BOP, so we can say there is some basic physical integrity there. We do not know in fact the pressures during the blowout event. Expecting they were high is, however, reasonable.

By the way, one of the alternatives recently discarded was to attach another BOP on top of this one which would allow a complete shutdown of the well. That was rejected by people who have much more detailed knowledge of the condition of the BOP, wellhead and casing than any of us. The only logical reason to not put the second BOP on was the possibility it would make the situation worse.

-- Agreed, noted. This suggests that there are people who know facts otherwise unrevealed which facts lead one to doubt the full physical integrity of the well head.
Which, I think we would agree, makes many, many of the proposals to "more tightly cap" (in any of various ways) the top of the existing BOP -- at the riser flange, etc. -- all perhaps inadvisable.

The top kill and junk shot may have either contributed to the overstress or gave BP and the MMS some indication that things were not right. I know there is a group, including experts on this board, that didn’t think they should even try the top kill or junk shot due to the safety concerns.

-- Well, both the top kill and junk shot have been done -- and it's over now. Chu is suggested by the NYT to have been concerned that the pressures developed at top kill would have jacked the well out of the hole, or compromised the casing integrity, etc. (Basically what happened after junk shot to the GoM well in '80 - may be wrong year, both other incident.)

5 – Anchoring the wellhead is a great idea but let see how practical it is. The hold-down force required is about 3,000 tons using a minimal 25% safety factor.

If you used the minimum number of anchors to achieve stability and save time you would need three. These would have to be drilled as the depth to even reach rock is over 1,000 feet and to reach solid rock and set a 1,000 ton capacity anchor would probably require about 2,000 to 3,000 feet of drilling. Luckily we have a drill ship on site and we could use high strength drill pipe as the anchor string, I believe it is capable of a 1,000 ton axial load.

Of course during the drilling any ongoing oil recovery operations would have to cease. There is only room for one drillship, and to setup, drill, install and cement the anchor in 5,000 feet of water would probably be at least one week per hole. Allow another week for the initial mobilization, design and fabricate the first anchor and a final week to install the rigging, valves, and so on – all with ROVs. So a best case of about 5 weeks, during 4 of which there is no oil recovery. Your choice.

--- HERE is where we more or less agree on the numbers, BUT disagree on the logistics and arrangements.

a) I hope, with all my might, that the relief wells can be drilled without incident, intersect the present well first time in, perfectly, and permit relief and shut off unimpeded and unhindered. But, perhaps because I am a nervous person, I can think of many things that might go wrong. And I can imagine one or two surprises that would make it hard to seal off the present well even w/ a relief well "under" it.

b) In any event, the relief wells are two months away. (plus, I might guess, but let's see.) So that something that can be done even in three weeks that contains more spill than what we've got today counts as good.

c) It is NOT standard oil industry technology, but there are other industries in which big forces, tons of load, high pressures, etc. are dealt with. Everything from testing rocket engines to building containment around nuclear reactor cores. There are some "facts" of technology that are possibly useful to the present problem in the Gulf. For example, although concrete takes something like 28 days to cure (no, it doesn't "dry" thank you, it cures), which sucks, reinforced concrete mixes to 20,000 psi are very much in the realm of practice. 120,000 psi tensile strength steel is around and about. Hydraulically inflated packers work with some pretty big pressure in some pretty big bores. If you can keep the area to be sealed under control, sealing 20,000 is very do-able. Etc. Etc. So, in sum, my view, with which you do not have to agree, is that we have, in various forms of developed technology *stuff* with properties with basic physical numbers like the numbers of the Gulf problem.

d) So it is a question of two things: invention and logistics/organizing. The problem definitely is not easy, but it IS withing the range of real numbers from real physics and real technical methods.
By "invention" I do not mean any king of wacko "have time flow backward so the oil cleans itself up" or drop a nuke on it "invention." I mean the question of arranging stuff at the bottom of the ocean so that it holds in oil that -- depending upon who's telling the story -- wants to come out with a relative pressure at something like 7,000 psi (or 9,000 psi) in a 2,300 (more or less 5,000 divided by 2.31) psi environment. That is a lot of pressure. But it is not soooo much that we should not be able to come up with a containment, separate from the well head, that withstands it.
Knowing also, that the containment around the problem has to be multiple. If you put a "bucket" over the top that is strong enough you get immediately to the problem of pressure and flow going out "underneath" the upside down bucket, eroding the soft sea floor, so that the upside down bucket is just bobbling on top of the flow- sorta like the current cap on top of the BOP. So, to contain, you have to encircle in three dimensions with high pressure capable. AND you have to keep the encircling containment from getting pushed up out of place toward the surface.
But I think it is kind of an "Apollo 13" problem. Goes like this; Given several hundred million dollars, and a couple of weeks time, put something around the well head that holds in the oil at its pressure. Use anybody, any technology, you could get your hands on; the National Guard will go and "requisition" anything you say you need. Just do it.

So--logistics/organizing. To do the arranging, you have ships and barges and cables and cranes and tag lines and all that stuff. Right, you can't get one in the way of another. But if a rig with which you are just trying to set a pin is too big and in the way, you can get another smaller rig that will do the job brought to you. We will have it fetched RIGHT NOW. Basically, you get any resource available in the whole world. Any. You just have the laws of physics as to what size and time and strength and configuration dictate.

Again, not to be rude, but to try to explain, reinforced plates of steel inches thick will hold back pressures of the kind we are talking about. Whether we can come up with the inventive details of organizing them into functional place is a engineering/invention/social and political question. Not a "blue sky physics" question. The American People, I have no doubt, want America to figure it out and do it.

People have a right to be angry about the blowout and the spill.

They have a right to be angry about the lack of preparation for emergenvy intervention in 5,000 feet of water.

From what I have seen they may have a right to be angry and frustrated about the onshore clean-up, at least as presented by the media.

But there has been nothing "cutesy" or “fussy” about the effort to stop the blowout or recover the oil. That perception is being fostered by the media and politicians who don’t take the time to understand anything about what they are saying, never bother to admit when they get it wrong and continually malign and disparage the engineers, technicians and offshore hands working trying to stop the leak.

-- Agreed about people who understand nothing and are just blowing PR. Disagree a little about "disparage." The issue isn't so much the engineers; it is the Tony Haywards, with their "we're doing everything that can be done." Again, not to be rude about it (which you will think no matter what I say -- but I am trying), but we (American people) do not believe Mr. Hayward.

They bring in “experts” who don’t know the pointy end of a boat, have no underwater experience and don’t know anything about the oilfield. The greenest of offshore diver/tenders can pick holes in their statements.

Publicity hounds like James Cameron jump on the band wagon and call people morons without the slightest understanding of what is involved.

-- Agreed again as to PR etc.

If the American public were given the facts and the media took the time to help them understood the immense engineering and operational challenges presented by trying to control a 10,000 psi blowout in 5,000 feet of water they could actually have a portion of this disaster that would be positive and something they could be proud of.

It’s an undertaking that dwarfs any emergency engineering project that the US has had since Apollo 13. In size and complexity it even dwarfs that.

-- Not quite agreed. Thousands of miles out into space with no tools to speak of, no ROV's, no lights no cameras to see what's up, no construction facilities to make up fixtures.... Apollo 13 pretty tough deal, definitely required application ot the problem, invention, etc. But, no reason to fight much either wway.

As long as I’m slagging people I won’t leave out BP who could have opened this effort up to the world, warts and all, and shown what an amazing effort it is.

To paraphrase an earlier post:

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is quick, simple and wrong”.

-- Agreed. BUT that does not say there are not also good answers.

Forgive me if I seem to be coming on pretty strong but tonight I learned that most of the vessels and rigs working on this project have turned their TVs off. The crews working to control this well were getting so depressed and demoralized watching the misinformation, slander and outright BS from the media, politicians and instant experts that it was starting to affect their work. Believe me those people out there who have been working 12 to 14 hours per day, every day since April 20 doing everything they can to stop this spill don’t deserve this. Very few are actually BP employees, almost all are subcontractors.

-- Makes sense to me. If I were out there, I wouldn't be helped by listening to the yelping on the tv.

Three men, a least one who used to work for me, were on the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. They did not even go back to shore to see their families. They went straight to an ROV support vessel to try to get control of the BOP. I repeat - THEY DON'T DESERVE THIS.

Incidentally, I’m not from the oil side, I spent nearly 40 years in the underwater service industry from heavy gear diver and diver welder to project management, engineering and most points in between. Before I retired I was running worldwide operations for the largest diving and ROV company out there so I actually know whereof I speak

As about 90% of all the deep water work in the world is for offshore oil I was forced to learn a lot about the oil industry, and I still learn everyday courtesy of people like Rockman and the other drillers on this board.

Along the way I worked in the North Sea and lived in Aberdeen so I also know the true meaning of “with all due respect”.

-- I didn't mean it with any disrespect. I'm not from Aberdeen.

I had a few martinis tonight in honor of an old friend who died this morning, martinis were his favorite, but I hate them – so I quit, I’m off to bed.

-- Goodnight.

These things said, I, unfortunately it would seem, submit that the angry assertion that better is impossible will not help us collectively in cases such as this. I would like to think not only that better is possible, but that it is achievable. Better, in this case, is, indeed, to contain the oil.

Leanen et al. Any chance you could format this thread with quotes in grey as I feel bucket raises some very valuable (counter)points and it's difficult to disseminate the conversations? Thankyou Bucket.

Here is shelburn's 3 am post in its unchopped form:

Highly recommended, especially if you are absolutely sure morons are running the show.

Great post I feel the same way. I also favor a large structure, I describe upthread. Our only difference is I favor allowing an oil-gas-hydrate-seawater mixture to come to ambient pressure within a structure then transport it. If the hydrates were a problem at ambient pressure when mixed with seawater there would be a large pile of them, or a floating cloud of them, at the site by now I think.

As I understand things, the methane hydrates are VERY SLIGHTLY less dense than seawater at depth. The reason that w don't see piles of them collecting around the worksite is because they're slowly floating up to where the warmer temperatures and lower pressures are allowing them to "melt" (not quite sure if that's the right word).

Not sure what the utility of anchoring anything would be, but no need for drilling and cementing anchors when you can use suction caissons.

A few things.
I'm not an engineer, but understand the jetting issue. You don't want to entrain water if the seal is full on, as the pressure of the well fluids rushing past will pull in seawater past that imperfect seal. If there was a "jacket" around the entire seal area filled with the well fluids itself, any "jetting action" would pull not from the seawater, but more oil itself. I understand that building the jacket would be convoluted and not allow much access to the seal area and the cap, but once built, keeping the jacket filled with oil obviously wouldn't be a problem. I'm curious as to if the theory of a external jacket would help prevent external fluids from entering in a jetting situation.

After the cap has been situated to work as efficiently as possible, I would imagine another containment cap has been considered for the remaining oil? Are the dynamics of the remaining leak different enough for the giant containment that was initially clogged with ice? I understand there was damage to the initial container, but is this concept still being considered? The reason is, I just don't seem to see the volume of gas/ice being formed and I wonder if that's a trick of the lighting, a change in the reservoir flow, or that for some reason the majority of the gas is going up the riser. I understand there could still be dissolved gas coming out of solution instead of the "slug flow" we've been seeing, but I'd be very interested to see the GOR rate at the surface compared to what little we saw of the RIT capture process.

Lastly: Has the electric log(s) of the well been made available?

Shelburn...good rant...I've passed it on. Compared it to destroying the morale of the troops in Iraq. Thanks again to you and Rock for all your patience.

Forgive me if I seem to be coming on pretty strong but tonight I learned that most of the vessels and rigs working on this project have turned their TVs off. The crews working to control this well were getting so depressed and demoralized watching the misinformation, slander and outright BS from the media, politicians and instant experts that it was starting to affect their work. Believe me those people out there who have been working 12 to 14 hours per day, every day since April 20 doing everything they can to stop this spill don’t deserve this. Very few are actually BP employees, almost all are subcontractors.

Three men, a least one who used to work for me, were on the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. They did not even go back to shore to see their families. They went straight to an ROV support vessel to try to get control of the BOP. I repeat - THEY DON'T DESERVE THIS.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in 4 or 5 states who would be doing 12 or more hr days right now in the fishing, tourism, (even oil drilling, right?) and other industries if BP hadn't FUBAR-ed. Some of these people are sick over how they're going to maintain their businesses and pay their mortgages. There are quite a few people now and in the coming months who are/will be very envious of anyone getting 12-14 hours a day of well compensated work in their own field. I can assure you that anyone getting paid to work on Plans B-G and beyond is not nearly as demoralized by what they see on TV as the people who depend on a decently clean Gulf to feed their families. The hourly rate some of those folks are getting is considerably higher than most Americans will ever see, and that includes first responders and other dangerous, dirty etc jobs.

We've seen a month and a half of the shocking (for those of us in other industries) revelation that BP's Plan A for dealing with this mess was to hope it wouldn't happen. Plans B-G or so haven't been working out so well. If I'm understanding things it even seems that the top kill attempt was risking an even bigger blowout given what was known at the time.

We've been told everything from there wasn't a leak, to it was the dead workers' fault (how's THAT been for morale?!), to food poisoning is making people sick instead of fumes, to "there's a 60-70% chance" that a failed plan was going to work. Maybe if the BP execs stopped lying and giving people false expectations, that'd help.

If it weren't for BP keeping reporters away from spill scenes - THAT'S a task they've been on top of - the images on TV would be worse and public outrage higher.

Maybe people fragile enough to have their work performance suffer from external criticism they believe to be lies need to find other work? Millions of people are subject to (often quite accurate) withering comments about the large, frequently harmful actions of their bosses every day. Nothing new there.

quizmasterchris wrote:

We've seen a month and a half of the shocking (for those of us in other industries) revelation that BP's Plan A for dealing with this mess was to hope it wouldn't happen.

Plan A for dealing with a blow-out is to install a blow-out preventer (BOP), which this well has. The other components of plan A are to have the surface operators run various tests and monitor various instruments as the well is being completed to detect and prevent an incipient blow-out. Plan A failed in this case, and as far as I've been able to determine, we don't know exactly why yet.

There is the allegation that BP pressured the surface operators into skimping on safety measures in order to finish the well faster. That may be true, though I've not seen much evidence presented to support that claim.

But in any event, I think it is completely wrong to make it sound as if BP had no plan at all for dealing with a blow-out.

Also, what is your evidence that BP executives are "lying"? BP's estimate on the chances of top kill working gave it a 30% to 40% chance of failing. No one should have been shocked when it failed. Are you saying that even when BP knew it had failed, they were still telling the public it had a 60% - 70% chance of working? If so, I'd like to see what evidence you have to support that.

And what is your evidence that BP is "keeping reporters away from spill scenes"? You say BP's "been on top of THAT task", but I've seen dozens, if not hundreds, of "spill scene" images -- so I'd love to know what evidence you have to support this claim.

I said dealing "with this mess", which is any sort of failure in which the BOP didn't work. That's the cause of the mess, right? What about ANY of the multitude of similar events in which drilling would cause plumes at this depth? Looking at the Timor Sea incident or other near misses cited on this site recently this was inevitablity. It is actually common sense that human error occurs, that components fail, and that a worst-case scenario should be planned for when tens of millions of people's lives can be changed if something goes south.

When you tell people it's more likely than not that you'll be able to kill a well (then I come here and people say it's never been done it that fashion in a case like this before...), people expect results. Most people don't read TOD. Most people were informed 3 plans ago that there was a 60-70% chance that plan was going to work. THAT'S, in part, what's making people say "these morons don't know what they're doing."

Isn't the burden of proof on the party making the positive assertion? What was the evidence that made it likely that there was a 60-70% chance that method was going to work?

As far as BP keeping out reporters:

Last night Anderson Cooper was speaking to a Plaquemines Parish official who noted that reporters could get ID badges from them to help counter the intimidation tactics some have faced, essentially making them on official parish business. I don't have a handy link for that but it was on (inter)national TV last night.

quizmaasterchris wrote:

Isn't the burden of proof on the party making the positive assertion? What was the evidence that made it likely that there was a 60-70% chance that method was going to work?

The burden of proof on someone who accuses another party of "lying" is to demostrate that a lie has been told, not that an estimate has proven wrong.

As for your "evidence" that BP is keeping reporters away from spill scenes, BP doesn't own the land in question in the first of the articles you linked to -- so how are they keeping people away?

And in the video you linked to, the people were turned away by the Coast Guard, who claimed to be enforcing "BP Rules". Do you actually think BP has the authority to issue marching orders to the Coast Guard? That makes no sense at all.

I don't know where it is you think BP acquires all this power to force reporters off public lands.

Plan A for dealing with a blow-out is to install a blow-out preventer (BOP), which this well has...

I'm sure the people drilling the relief wells and trying to salvage this clusterfuck would rather be seen as heroes than villains, and I sympathize with them. How nice it would be to be part of a society that values truth, trust, hard work and a shared value system. In such a society, these people would not be demonized.

Unfortunately, in the society we live in, taking negligent risks with other people's lives for a greater profit margin is the norm. Let us not forget that BP knew about problems with the BOP and chose to take a gamble. They lost.

Representatives said documents and company briefings suggested that BP, Transocean and Halliburton ignored tests that flagged up faults in the BOP.


The failures included a dead battery in the BOP, suggestions of a breach in the well casing, and failure in the shear ram.

It's like tagging a control surface on an aircraft when people are working inside a fuel tank or on a hydraulic component - has to be done. You turn off the breaker before you switch out a wall socket - has to be done. You stop and make sure your BOP is functional before you proceed with any work on the well - has to be done.

We are also working against the misinformation flow. We're running open threads on The Economic Populist, focused on the engineering efforts. Even though we're an economics blog 100%, economic impact is dependent upon stopping the leak and I saw so much misinformation and technical absurdity being presented as valid in the press/news, putting up some bits to improve the SNR. Esp. looking for economic impact, true estimates. I'm positive all are low-balled, even DPC $70 Billion. We're geek friendly.

Try 365 days a year being blasted for being a govmint worker. Gov does too much, gov does too little. They need to get used to it.

Try 365 days a year being blasted for being a govmint worker. Gov does too much, gov does too little. They need to get used to it.

What is that old quote now...
You can please all of the people some of the time and you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. LOL

naw, that was about fooling people, oh well

Flow control is achieved, simplistically, with a valve at the top of the riser on the Enterprise. By adjusting the flow the valve effectively controls the pressure at the top of the riser and thus also at the bottom.

Sensing the pressure at the top of the top hat cone (bottom of the riser) would seem to be the most important control variable. Sensing the pressure at the top of the riser would give you information way too late - possibly after seawater had been sucked up the riser. Seems to me they would be better off to have a manually controlled valve to do the main throttling at the top of the riser, but also have an automatic valve at the bottom of the riser controlled by top hat pressure to do fine adjustment of flow on the fly. Some dampening of the control would be needed because of the dynamics with the gas. Any thoughts on control from some of the oil well experts?

Actually, maybe a valve on the bottom of the riser would be too complicated. Might be simpler just to put a fast acting spring loaded pressure relief on one of the ports on the top hat to prevent excessive pressure from blowing off the top hat. It would only need to be set for a few psi differential pressure. Then things could be controlled up at the top of the riser to just allow some continual leakage out of the pressure relief. Then they could also try to get a tighter seal on the flange without endangering the top hat.

I think that I read the LMRP (the thing above the CAP, at the bottom of the riser) has a choke capability .

would make sense.

But not an expert and can't find the source.


Heading out, Shelburn, Rockman et al:

In one of the tech briefings from The BP guy - Wells, on May 31, or June 1, I think, I thought he said they would implement the use of the topkill / choke lines in reverse to produce some of the oil from the BOP connections, before the flow gets to the sea water. This was also suggested here, and elsewhere, I think. I realize it is not a large amount of product, but even 10-20% of product would help and might provide a bit of relief in controlling the choke on their main system. Are there sufficient chokes on the manifold to control flow up through the system? Is the large GOR an issue in trying to do this?

Really one of the most important pieces of progress so far.

The LMRP cap is capturing 8000+ BPD with further improvement expected.

The secondary riser fed by the choke and kill lines in the lower BOP will further reduce pressure and flow at the LMRP cap. More recovery efficiency expected.

The relief wells - progress reports have went quiet. Well Relief #1 was at 12090 end of month, presumably running 16 inch casing.

Next programmed casing point 13 5/8 at +/- 14000' MD.
Then 11 7/8 at +/- 15500' MD
Prior to intersection at +/- 18000'

Me thinks Well Relief #1 will be at intersection point considerably prior to August. Maybe end June. Not much is being said to avoid raising expectations.

Me thinks that there is a lot of effort being placed into optimizing the relief well and given the pore pressure regime is now known, eliminating at least one of the casing strings.

Folks seem to think once the relief well gets to depth that will be the end of the drama. I hope so. But, it is highly unlikley that proximal intersection will occur on the 1st attempt. It is likely multiple sidetracks will be required. I think the Australia Montera relief well took 5 STs. It was a much shallower well making things much quicker than this well. Also, the probability of a tropical storm or hurricane shut down is fairly high. If they have to shut in and release the LMRP it usually takes several days to get back to where they were.

The actual kill operation has some challenges (as compared to say the Australia Montera well). The reservoir is overpressured to around 14ppg and the flowrate is very high. The volume, flowrate, and density of the kill mud are all impacted by the pore pressure and flowrate. A dynamic kill can be calculated ( I have been involved in a couple underground blowouts using dynamic kills and have done the calcs - but I have not attempted to here). Certainly this well is going to require some significant mud density (upwards of 18-19 ppg) and some major pump horsepower. It may take more than one kill attempt.

Another problem is deciding whether to attempt the kill up the casing x OH annulus if that is where the flow originates (which seems likely) or if they have to mill through the casing and pump up the casing (or both). There is going to be some guesswork involved and maybe some trial and error. There is plenty of time to figure this out, but there are certainly plenty of risks involved in this stage of the operation. With the "luck" BP is having so far I have my doubts a final kill will go off without a hitch.

LWD azimuthal resistivity technology, downhole steering along with better understanding and modeling of the effects of proximate casing on the magnetic field has came a log ways. I agree they will go for a kill at the annulus and not the cased wellbore. Base case is one attempt, sidetrack with kill attempt to follow first sidetrack.

Still, plenty of risks involved. I would like to think BP have some quality directional surveys. Typically, there is less emphasis on surveying precision on vertical exploration wells than on directional or horizontal wells (Like Monterro). However, i grant that use of LWD (which is likely in a well like this) means directional precision could also be quite good. I have always been interested in relief well technology in my capacity as a well control specialist, but thankfully I have never had to actually be involved in one. I have always managed to prevent uncontrolled release (as much out of luck sometimes as skill).

My only reason for bringing this up at this time is just a forwarning that an August end to this disaster might be pretty optimistic. It sounds like a long ways away but it might be wishful thinking. I really think BP needs to be planning towards a near 100% oil recovery. Everyone is going to get pretty upset if they continue to put 5-15000 BPD oil into the gulf for the coming months.

Pull the LMRP and latch a connector/valve assembly on top. That would give a perfect seal and 100% recovery. They were talking about something like that and I certainly hope they are still working on it.

Wingfooted states 8000+bbd

everything I read says they are at 6000 BPD based on the most recent 24 hours (and they have less than a stellar track record at providing timely and accurate data)

The 8000+ bdp is their current rate of flow. They did 6000b for June 4, and in the first 12 hours, they did 1800b, so subtracting that's 4200b in the second half = 8000+bpd.

More ignorant questions from me.

-Are there pressure sensors inside the riser at various locations, or are the pressures below the BOP just estimates?

-When BP says 6000+ barrels of oil were collected yesterday, doesn't that actually include water brought up with the oil as well?

-How much oil could be reasonably expected to be collected by the 3" lines used to try the top kill operation?


I just heard Thad Allen state that the max capacity of the processing capacity is only 15,000 BOPD. I hope he had the wrong information. If the pre-riser cut rate was at the higher rate of 25,000BPD and the post riser rate was 20% higher or 30,000BPD even at the max capacity there would still be at least 15000 BPD escaping. Based on the videos after the final cut I would guess the rate to certainly be at the higher guess if not higher.

There is an additional consideration. As the rate increases up the riser and the vent valves are closed the backpressure from the sea water hydrostatic will be less thus allowing the rate to increase. This is something a production engineer could calculate and no doubt BP should have. End result, there could be more oil escape to the sea than before the riser was cut!!!

I hope BP are planning to add a parallel production train to increase the capacity. I would think just for the added revenue stream it would be worth it. This would require some coordination but given the problem and resources available, certainly doable.

I wonder if there are other floating production systems available that could be brought in to help if the captured flow exceeds the capacity of the Enterprise?

BP were talking about rigging up another flowline with ability to disconnect in the event of a hurricane. maybe that overall system would have additional capacity. They would not have that system ready for awhile. Meanwhile, in terms of oil release, I fear we will be no better off than we were before the riser was cut off. At lease BP will be getting some oil production to pay a few bills.

In some way this disaster could be "good" for the future of our species IF, and that's a BIG IF, people would stop looking to blame others and realise we are ALL responsible.
The "unthinking", if I may call them that, sound off about BP cutting corners then turn round and check to see if their pension investment is still performing OK whilst chomping into an apple kept in a cold store since last autumn, or grown last week in a polytunnel.

The "we are all responsible" assertion isn't helpful. In fact it can prevent necessary solutions by dispersing focus. I'm quite certain that to some extent at least, everyone here is in favor of alternative energy sources that are potentially safer. What matters for now is stopping the flow into the GOM.

My reason for posting that comment was precisely that I considered the focus of this very forum was being compromised by postings discussing BP's responsibility etc. Plenty of other places to bang on about that.
PS: I never said anything about "alternative energy sources". My thinking is more along the lines of using what we have less profligately.

Truly we all need to take responsibility for our own behavior. However, there are many of us who would gladly make needed changes but we are not empowered as individuals to do so... e.g. I can wish that I had a transportation alternative that uses far less fuel, but I can't go down to the dealership and buy an electric car that doesn't exist or ride reliable and useful mass transit systems that don't exist. I can personally try to conserve energy, but I can't change a culture that ridicules conservation as un American. I may wish for an Apollo-type project for energy that emphasizes smaller, distributed energy production, smart grids, research and subsidies for alternative energy, smarter transportation systems, ad a culture of conservation, but all I can really do is vote and try to encourage others to see my point of view.

Mr Bubble, I didn't mean I expected you to save the planet on your own! Don't worry, we all feel those frustrations! Humans are definitely doomed! Well, most of us, at least. All I was saying, and this is what is really worth saying, is that people who slag off BP (or any other entity or person who isn't behaving like they want them to) are really just diverting their internal accuser's gaze onto an external target so they can carry on living with themselves.
It's lynch mob mentality.
And it doesn't solve anything.
We need to concentrate on stopping the leak!

This is a 'Dog and Pony' Show. Does ANYONE actually believe after watching the video they will even get close to sucking up 50+%?

I think empiricism is a more helpful approach in this situation. What matters is stopping as much of the flow into the Gulf as possible. I don't believe anything. I'm hopeful, however. If they don't make 50% within a few days, I won't believe it and I'll be disappointed and hope a different strategy will work. If they do, I will believe it and I'll hope for more.

Yes, I do.

This is not a "Dog and Pony Show". This is a hell of a lot of very dedicated, very tired engineers trying to solve a nearly impossible problem.

The LMRP cap is probably collecting 20-30% at the moment. A normal completed well can take days to weeks before the flow can be optimized, this is a wild well a mile down with prototypical equipment. It might take them a little time to optimize it. I think they will get at least 50% from the LMRP cap. When the choke and kill lines are deployed in production, I expect another 20-40% of the flow to be captured. When the "overshot connector" is completed and deployed I expect the blow-by leakage to reduce to <5%.

That's what I think will happen. There will almost certainly be some set-backs on the way, but that's what I think will happen. That's because these people aren't play-acting, they are not smugly pointing their fingers or taking oh-so-superior potshots from a blog about things that are far beyond their capability to understand, they are working their asses off to solve the problem.

On behalf of all those people, many of whom are risking their safety to help, I would like to tell you to take your "dog and pony" comment and shove it up your drill pipe.

What is the "overshot connector" ? First I've heard of it.

Described in the technical briefing. It is part of the submersible riser assembly.

I wish the media would get this story out. One of the most frustrating things in the world is to be working 18 hour days and have the news media criticizing you for your failure to do the impossible.

I was one of the initial responders to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. When I got there we had _one_ semi-usable airfield and one usable highway. However the highway was completly choked off with refugee traffic and the only way to clear it would have been to literally force the refugees off the road and into areas where they had no food, shelter or water. The airfield has damaged, had no electricity, no usable fuel, no cargo handling facilities, no radios, radar or other navigational aids. In addition we had no open roads between the airfield and the city.

When we ran the numbers we realized that under a 'best case' scenario - it was impossible to bring in the necessary amount of relief supplies, equipment and people. The news media never told our story.

Trivia note. If you remember watching that first military convoy carrying relief supplies - the only people allowed to go on that convoy were unmarried volunteers. We were literally expecting at least a few people to die getting food and water to the Superdome.

they are working their asses off to solve the problem

That's one perspective. You could also say they're making fat dayrates, doing less than usual, waiting on Houston. A less charitable view is a massive cover-up and PR exercise. Watch the cute little robots. Ignore the crime scene where men were killed by negligence. Forget that we lied about flows. Forget about cofferdam and stopping a relief well to grab its BOP. We just the nicest smartest guys who always know best.

It is easy for the weak minded to think everyone involved in this is of a similar disposition, i.e. lazy and greedy.

Sneering is the easiest thing in the world.

That's not the point. Each of those statements was true, including yours. In any group there are always hard working, selfless heroes. A few who battle inertia, wasted time in meetings, top-down crap driven by lawyers. It would be nice to have a whistleblower on deck, instead of this nonstop press agentry.

It is easy for the weak minded to think everyone involved in this is of a similar disposition, i.e. forthright and honest.

well said avonaltendorf

to add to your comment BP's denial of the giant plumes

The mainstream media has been complicit in downplaying the scope of this environmental disaster, it has only been in the last 7 or 8 days that they have started to show the nasty images. In many cases the MSM has simply read from BP press releases and covered for the administration.

I think the workers out there really want to solve this. I don't trust BP management as far as I can throw them, but I think the teams onsite are trying everything they can think of and working long hours under a lot of pressure. This kind of focus on what you do in the event of the very foreseeable outcome we have here should have been present years ago - not just hauled out in a pinch, but I think we need to be careful and rational in our analysis of what is going on. If we want to understand and trust each other, we have to be aware of each other's perspective and try not to give in to despair.

I can tell you one area where I think criticism is warranted and that is the are of shoreline protection. If I were Thad Allen, and thank god I am not, I would be using BPs money to fabricate as many miles of fence-like netting of hydrophilic oil absorbing fabric that I could possible construct and I would also be using every skimmer boat I could get my hands on. It is obvious the oil is going under the booms.

valverx wrote:

On behalf of all those people, many of whom are risking their safety to help, I would like to tell you to take your "dog and pony" comment and shove it up your drill pipe.

Well said and thoroughly deserved.

I think you are way out of line. BP's reputation has been earned and reinforced over the past few weeks. Anyone that claims they have been forthright with information has got a screw loose or an agenda. I think it's alot closer to dog and pony show than engineering marvel,etc.

Actually some people only hear what they want to hear ,do not take the time to listen to the complete press conferences or the coast guard, and certainly do not read the gobs of details provided by unified command including BP. Saying something is uncertain is not the same as lying.
The public and government asked for all this to been provided. Do not blame BP. They knew that the uneducated public and media would claim anything is a dog and pony show.

On behalf of all those people, many of whom are risking their safety to help, I would like to tell you to take your "dog and pony" comment and shove it up your drill pipe.

It does get a little old doesn't it?

They were able to achieve a 8000bpd rate yesterday, which is probably in the vicinity of half the flow. If you view the plume as a cylinder, remember a 30% decrease in radius = a 50% decrease in volume. I think visually, the plume is smaller and you can see more fins.

Progress throughout is certainly way slower than I'd ever expected but I don't think this is a 'Dog and Pony' show. Capturing 6000bpd is better than 0, right?

do you have a reference for the 8000bpd rate number - and also the idea that represents half the flow?

Looking at the billowing flows shown on Skandi ROV 1 and 2, I notice what I think is a relative difference in the volume on opposite sides of the BOP/CAP

The flow on the Skandi 1 view appears to somewhat "hug" the side if the cap in a nearly laminar flow. Once can even observe the side of the cap occasionally through the oil.

The flow shown on Skandi 2 appears to be much more roiling, and I think of much greater volume than the outflow shown on Skandi 1.

I also notice that the Skandi 1 flow includes a lighter colored stream, similar to what we saw in the cut riser (on the high side) a couple of days ago.

Is it possible that the hat is making "hard contact" with the high side of the cut, or the cap is sitting closer to the outside wall of the cut riser, reducing the size of the channel through which the oil can flow, and that's why there appears to be less flow on that side?

Conversely, on the other side, is offset placement and a shorter path to travel (due to the lower opening of the diamond wire saw cut) allowing much more oil out that side?

If this is what's happening, as they attempt to increase the flow topside, will one of these conditions permit seawater into the cap more readily, and will that limit the maximum flow?

If so, would it then make sense to either:

1) Return with the diamond wire, or circular saws to make the cut more even, or

2) fabricate a short cylindrical piece that can slip over the existing riser and create an output of consistent height and diameter to better fit the cap?

Aternatively, how about building into the seal an escape path (or two for symmetry) for the uncaptured flow. This would allow it to exit in a more controlled manner and perhaps even allow it to be collected seperately. And it would take the pressure off the rest of the seal.
Say, e.g., Build in two smallish flexible steel tubes (like shower hoses, but much bigger) about 100 metres long thus leading the spill off to points away from the main action. Could collect in "domes" like the one they tried first.

The Skandi ROVs are spraying dispersent (light color).

Someone earlier suggested stabilising the BOP / wellhead so that a top kill could be implemented straight down through the BOP, (assumes you can get past the ,partially closed?, shears).
The suggestion was rejected as taking too long because drilling to rock for anchors.
My suggestion to make the anchoring possible more quickly would be as follows:
Get some very big rocks (whatever maximum is that could be lowered safely onto seabed). Attach anchor points to rocks BEFORE lowering of course (rolling eyes smiley).
Get your strong steel cables joined up and tensioned appropriately and that's it. Is that do-able?

"The versatile rig can be used for a range of workover services including underbalanced and directional drilling, live well intervention, completion and well control services and ESP pump replacements. The flexible unit can work on multi-well pads with mobile capacity, be utilized onshore or offshore and is capable of working at depths up to 25,000ft.
Versa-Rig has multiple lift capacities ranging from 170,000 lbs to 450,000 lbs, to be increased to 750,000 pull by 2011, and snubbing capabilities up to 150,000 psi. It is a self-supporting structure which removes the load from the casing head and requires no guidelines to rig-up. Unlike traditional snubbing units, it can be rigged-up and operated in close proximity to a drilling rig, while its total weight rests off the casing and on the sub-structure. This significantly reduces the likelihood of casing failure, which can cause fatalities on the rig floor and hundreds of thousand of dollars in damage."

I posted this yesterday and no one responded. I'd appreciate a response from a pro as to whether this could or could not work and if it's feasible. Thanks.

It's just another niche (land) drilling rig, to be frank. It offers nothing that can cap or kill the well more effectively than what BP has on location right now. The drillships and semis being used will drill the relief well much quicker. The main mechanical problem is that the single most important piece of equipment , the BOP, is fubar. Even if the BOP stack could be changed/replaced with revolutionary niche product, the experts on site have no confidence the well casings would hold the shut-in well pressure.

Greed vs. safety: the engineering consequences

The reason the BOP is complex and vulnerable to failure is that it is designed for a reversible cutoff. The value of the typical oil deposit is so great that making a one-way, irreversible well sealing device was never considered.

Yet from a reliability standpoint, it would be far easier to engineer a pyrotecnic-powered kill segment that could be included in every well. This device would be designed to crush, crimp, or otherwise seal the drill shaft in an irreversible manner.

The importance of including such a last-ditch solution in every deep-sea well is that it would provide a powerful incentive to the well operator to assure the functionality of the reversible well control systems. Knowing that the government could permanently close the well with the touch of a button would greatly concentrate the attention of management on safe operational procedures and reduce their incentive to risk ecocide.

Any regulatory reform that emerges from this disaster should include the required installation of a fail-safe, permanent kill system on every deep-sea oil well.

BOP is complex and 'reversible' for more reasons than just greed. If you 'blast' the top shut you cannot even attempt any of the various normal methods of regaining control of a well. Not to mention that you create an even more severe risk of an underground blowout.

The last-ditch, failsafe kill mechanism I am proposing would be deployed in addition to the BOP. If such a device had been in place in the Macondo well, is there any doubt in your mind that it would have been activated a month ago?

Glenmore: Thanks for the sanity.

My thanks to Glenmore as well.

Probably you are right. But the original point is also well taken. Then more complex you make something the more likely it is to break. What is needed is something as nearly absolutely reliable as man can make it. That would be single purpose and as simple as possible. The current BOP had none of those attributes.

My expertise and experience is as a non oil industry engineer. Please bear in mind that I do not know the complexities and technical details of drilling and maintaining an oil well! Undoubtedly the BOP (as with any device) could be made more reliable. Adding redundancy and complexity usually does not give great gains in reliability. In fact, reliability can often be reduced when one takes into account additional maintenance complexity and multiple failure pathways. The idea of using pyrotechnics caught my interest in the original post. Pyrotechnic activation is less complicated and more reliable than electromechanical or hydraulic. Pyrotechnic actuators are fail safe enough to get us to the moon and back. They are used for virtually all mission critical events such as staging and separation, and as triggers for the deployment of many systems employing stored mechanical energy. I am curious about their use in undersea deep well applications. Obviously one would not use them in above surface applications due to the danger of unwanted ignition of formation fluids. One of the positive outcomes of this event may be that the industry will take a fresh look at not only blow out prevention equipment design, but also deep water blow out containment.

The fix for a blown well - seal and abandon - involves replacing the geological cap on the producing formation with an adequate substitute - cement and other heavy material that can effectively substitute for the rock that was removed. Just blowing up the wellhead won't really fix anything. The BOP, as a controllable valve, offers a safe way to either drill/produce from or seal a well. I think the technology could be substantially improved to make it more effective and easier to repair.

I have reluctantly come to two conclusions about the American people:

1) It's nucular, not nuclear. I don't know why.

2) They will never be satisfied unless explosives are involved.

I'm thinking that the next technical briefing should include: "..and one last item: we will be detonating a one kiloton explosive one hundred fifty miles from the well. Video and lunch will be provided." That way James Cameron can get involved and everybody can see something get "blowed up real good".

Oh, come now, everybody likes a nice explosion. I think it's a human fascination - don't you?

??? You're actually proposing to blow up James Cameron with a one kiloton nuke???


For the record, the idea of nuking the well is hugely popular in germany, too. So the americans are not the only ones who love to see things go bang big time.


As to 1) nucular v.s.nuclear, I do know why:
It is simply the pronunciation that has evolved in TX and other parts of the US with dialects other than northeastern. I know this because as a native New Yorker, after college I went to work in Houston in the design of NDT oilfield equipment that included Cesium 137 nuclear sources. After a period of time, upon visits back home in New York, my English Prof. mother corrected my mispronunciation of the word "nuclear". Over 30 yrs later, I still have the tendency to mispronounce it, and on occasion I slip up and it is pointed out to me. Knowing why this is, I have long ago tried cultivate only criticism of the substance of what people say and not the idiosyncrasies of how they say it.

However, I never did adopt the pronunciation "were-er" as a substitute for "wire".

Hope this helps.

BENDAL was asking the same question I was asking......'''''' -When BP says 6000+ barrels of oil were collected yesterday, doesn't that actually include water brought up with the oil as well?''''''......PLEASE could someone let us know the situation here and as I asked before ..what percentage might the water be????...MANY THANKS!!!

The oil billowing from under the cap should be keeping the seawater out of the cap, which means that most, if any water being captured is water is coming from the well itself.

I think they mean 6000 barrels of oil collected. First, because they are trying to keep as much sea water out of the system as possible (which is probably their #1 challenge). Second, because the rig separates oil, gas, and water; it stores the oil, flares the gas, and sends the water back to the gulf.

Thank You Both For Your Kind And Speedy Reply..GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!

15.7 million cubic feet of gas has been flared. How does anyone think that's a Dog and Pony Show?
The ROVs were working at something on the BOP.
This is delicate work.
I doubt the people up top and right over that gas and oil are popping the top off of Buds and telling lewd jokes.

Hear! Hear!

I wonder how some of the jackasses popping off around here would react in similar circumstances. They're right there shrieking about how stupid and incompetent the engineers from all over the O&G industry, academia and government are. I wonder how they would react if they were assigned an absolutely unprecedented, virtually impossible task that had to be done right away with the whole world either shouting hatred or ridicule.

I especially like those who have the simple, obvious solution: "I have no technical or engineering background but anyone can see..."

The more ignorant, the more certain they are of their solution.

Valverx, I have almost had my heart in my throat watching the live feeds. The oil is one thing, but it's the gas that is scary.
Bravo to the crews working on this.

Right with you. This recovery operation is probably an order of magnitude more dangerous than a normal well.

I wonder if flare capacity may be the limiter, rather than oil processing (essentially separator) capacity. I assume they have transfer tankers lined up to offload from the drill ship. They will need to start their "Direct Connect" operations soon to get the extra flare capacity.

I actually think they may be starting to get on top of this thing, but there are probably a lot of problems yet to solve.

I do wonder whether getting so much media exposure to the fantastically complicated details of this sort of work won't prove to be a recruitment boost to the oil and gas engineering industry; certainly I had an impression a year or so ago that O&G was a pretty much mature field, petroleum geology indescribably tedious, vastly bureaucratised and inevitably carried out in desolate wildernesses far away; that people only ever did it for the money.

And we're now getting on the nightly news the indications that this is in fact rocket science, that there's vast amounts of really interesting technology involved, that there are still new problems to face. Couldn't buy this sort of advertising for the field.

(OK, yes, BP might not be so great to work for, but doesn't Subsea7 look amazing?)

and the less knowledgeable about history and I would extend that to those who are looking at this event as the end of offshore drilling.

Engineering moves forward as a result of disasters. The Tacoma Narrows bridge disaster of 1940 comes to mind. I am sure that there were people then who called it the end of bridge building. We will learn from this disaster and we will develop the new technologies that will allow us to operate in this kind of environment. There is simply not enough onshore oil and gas to meet the world's need.

I think we need to have discussion about how we move forward - including pricing differentials so that the oil that comes from these frontier areas is appropriately priced for the risk.

I don't believe any company could have or would have planned for a scenario where the rig and the BOP failed. This incident is one of those statistical outliers. The only good thing to come out of this is that there will be a lot of lessons learned from a safety and risk management standpoint along with the benefit of a real lab environment to try and test various leak stopping techniques in deep water. Offshore drilling will be a lot safer at all depths going forward.

Undersea blowouts happen, the risk is far from negligible and the consequences very serious. Despite the history of such events there is essentially no fix except drilling relief wells, an operation that takes months. Spill cleanup methods are antiquated and generally not very effective for large spills. Just read this article posted here yesterday:

Investment in and development of mitigation technology has been minimal within the industry despite the well known, long standing risks.

As usual, it takes an absolute disaster to get anyone's attention...

"planned for a scenario where the rig and the BOP failed."

Should have, could have, and probably did, but clearly inadequately. It's not a statistical outlier, though the rate, at the high estimate, would be. The well control efforts seem to me to be about the level that is even possible to plan. Where they come up short, and what the whole industry will need to address in the future, is an improvement on near-site recovery of multiple orders of magnitude.

And each according to their own ability.......sic

"Assigned"? How 'bout "created"?

Bravo!Bravo! You are sure to bring the wrath of the Giant Tyvek shower curtain lawyer team. I wonder if the realize Tyvek actually soaks up oil ha!
People will soon appreciate the efforts of the finest people in business!
Book will be written not only of the bravery but the shear force of engineering and technical efforts. A big thank you to all those involved!

Pass on the book. Its past boring already and you haven't started. It's not nearly as funny as you seem to think.

It also is juvenile. This from someone who is about to turn sixty.

As a lawyer I would have thought you would have read what I wrote! I wrote that there will be books written on what these people have done to save the GOM and prevent further spilling! My book will not be out until Christmas.
People will write about the experience from many different levels of effect.
There are so many different stories that will inspire people to do the right thing as policy on a corporate level! TheraP is right about that. This will change how we do business in the oil business. I personally believe we will demand a relief well be drilled at the same time development/production wells are drilled as a safety factor. In fact I have just written a letter to my Congresspeople to that affect (by the way thanks AlanBigEasy).

landrew, I'd take Mr Mills' post as a hint that he doesn't want you to include his 20 foot by 36 inch riser pipe phallus in your book.

Oh, thanks I couldn't tell if he was lobbying to get in or was angry about my saying the larger casing was a good idea instead of the Tyvek. Rube Goldberg made a living on wacky ideas. I think that's one of the many reasons this is a great country. Make no mistake I do understand this is global and has larger implications than any of us know at this time. This will be one of those pointers in history.

valverx: Your frustration and anger about the attacks on your colleagues in the industry is understandable. And I, too, grow bored with the content-free rants and the clueless "solutions." It would be much better for all here if those posters were encouraged to vent elsewhere.

OTOH, please remember that all of these "jackasses" are now sharing, and will continue to do so, the consequences of this monumental, catastrophic screwup by other "jackasses" who *should* know better and *ought* to be held to higher standards, for the sake of our shared planet, our shared economy, public health and safety, etc.

There is really no reason at all for one group of "jackassess" *not* to be furious with the others. They truly, richly, deserve it.

I concur with kall. I don't know how long valverx has been in the biz but from my first day in the oil patch 35 years ago we've been those "dirty lying bastards". To hear that today bothers me as much as someone telling me I have brown eyes. Every profession has good guys and bad guys. Even true for priests and politicians. Really. I pesonally think there's plenty of room under the tent for all us jackassess. To paraphrase the old line about Nazi Germany: If you don't stop them from going after the jackassess today who will be left to stop them from going after geologists tomorrow?

"If you don't stop them from going after the jackassess today who will be left to stop them from going after geologists tomorrow?"

Yup. During the Khmer Rouge purges in Cambodia, people with glasses (spectacles) were specifically targeted. Identified them as "intellectuals."

I've been in the energy business for 28 years, both power generation and petroleum. I'm a severe service valve expert (hence the name: valve Rx) and have designed equipment for oil & gas production, transport, and refining as well as systems such as turbine bypass within power stations. My drilling experience is limited to swamper duties in East Texas and my time on supply vessels in the Gulf. Somewhat ironically, I was also once a shrimper out of Aransas Pass.

There are plenty of people at BP to be angry at, and I would not be surprised to see prison sentences coming out of this. But the team working to contain this monster until it can be killed by a relief well don't deserve to be mocked and sneered at.

I've been around the block a few times myself bub, they are working their asses off out there trying to save the world no doubt, but you gotta understand its all about "guilt by association".

Interesting valv. So you're really not a "dirty lying bastard" just hang with us from time to time. Good to have someone around with your experience.

I wonder how some of the jackasses popping off around here would react in similar circumstances. They're right there shrieking about how stupid and incompetent the academia and government are. I wonder how they would react if they were assigned an absolutely unprecedented, virtually impossible task that had to be done right away with the whole world either shouting hatred or ridicule.

From BP's Gulf of Mexixo Response page (as of 9AM CDT):

Subsea operational update:

• The LMRP cap was placed on top of the LMRP at approximately 8:35 pm CDT on June 3.
• Gas first reached the Discoverer Enterprise at approximately 11:00 pm CDT on June 3; oil followed at approximately 11:10 pm CDT.
• On June 4, a total of 6,077 barrels of oil was collected and 15.7 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared.
• Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next several days.

June 5, 2010 9:00 am CDT

The BP animation illustrates that the relief ports (BP refers to them as valves if I remember correctly) atop the LMRP containment cap will be closed off by means of an ROV manipulation. Will closure of the relief ports be a particularly difficult maneuver for these experienced ROV teams?

Closing the ports or valves is not difficult, but the engineers dont want to do so:

NY Times (
"Admiral Allen said that while engineers had so far been able to bring 6,000 barrels of oil to the surface, they had been hesitant to close the vents. If they do so, they fear, water will rush in and form the kind of icy hydrates that doomed a previous attempt to cap the leak. "

So the pressure from the leaking oil keeps the water out and "acts" as the missing grommet.
This is not an optimal scenario. And I don t believe they will capture 90% of the spill. My guess is 70%.
This means 30% of ~20k BPD = 6,000 BPD will flow into the gulf every day until August...

I thought they are going to re-engineer the top kill pump as a secondary solution, coincident to this one, and should start working on that deployment next week. i.e. multiple solutions to suck up the oil, this isn't the only technique. Instead of pumping drill mud down, they were going to suck oil up, now where this thing would attach or the structure as well as interactions with existing cap, I haven't seen any more info.

New idea for "The Book"?

A question for the engineers: Could separation (at least partial)of the oil/gas mix and water be achieved at 5000 feet? If the flow was directed to a separator vessel near the BOP, would the gas components collect near the top, the oil in the middle and the water (if any) near the bottom? If so, the gas could be controlled with one riser and the oil and remaining gas through another. This would make the oil flow more manageable? A couple of interface control instruments could provide feedback and the water just let out the bottom.

I realize this may sound hair-brained but would it work in theory? Sure, the logistics of suspending such a vessel at depth would be significant, but would it work?

My regards to all working hard on a solution and this excellent (mostly) discussion forum.

Not silly. Subsea separation is done all the time in order to reduce the volumes being processed.

My guess is that setting up a subsea separation system is too much to try to do in a week or so, but that is one of the least silly things I've read in the last few days.

Undersea flare. Need to provide plenty of oxydizer: perchlorates, peroxides, nitrous oxide. Lots are available, cheap and pressure-tolerant. Ignition, too. And then the sea absorbs the CO2. (Yes, I realize no product would be recovered.)

quantify "lots"

From a 2 weeks back:

multiply by 3 or 4 to account for 15 - 20 kbpd instead of 5.

Nice idea, although I liken the natural gas component of the total volume up the well bore to be a carbonated beverage and when the gas hits the cold pipe or water liberation. Alan Champagne bop:)

Last night the spew looked black. Now it has a reddish brownish look. Is it just the lighting has changed or is something else going on? Looks more a bit like when they were pumping mud for top kill? Just wondering if something has changed.

Ir is a bit of a function as to where the lights are, relative to the camera, but also they are injecting dispersant (which is whitish looking) into the cloud and this mixes and changes the flow color.

A little a bit rich when oil guys here all "ensure" safefy is the first above all but a guy with 40 year of experience says others. I mean that is so typical. So friggin typical for Southerners....

/ignore noise

New York, eh?

LOL, ain't sterotypes great! We're all guilty. There was a fellow who said something pretty reasonable ... judge not lest ye be judged ...

thanks matism!

tim -- I gather you haven't been keeping up with all of us oil guys. Being a newbie it might help to scan some older threads.

Y'all come back now, ya hear.

Rock, as deep as this reservoir is, how well to you think BP understands the structure and boundaries? Could you share some insight what differences there might be in these deeper reservoirs? Thanks ahead of time:)

landrew -- Assuming all they had going in was a 3d seismic interpretation they just had some general guesses about reservoir extent, etc. Even the existance of oil/NG in the reservoir wasn't 100%. But once they got the well to TD and ran the typical logging suite they had a good bit of data to re-model the reservoir and nail down some of the aspects much better. As far as being deep and difficult to understand, being at 18,000' below sea level isn't considered very deep these days with respect to seismicc analysis. Today it's not uncommon to get rather useful seismic info below 30,000'.

The reverse modeling will greatly aid the drilling of the RW's.

Tim --

I could make some "that a little rich" comments about wall street and their shenanigans -- and going by your logic since you too are from new york you too are to blame...generalization is the worst form of tunnel vision and sadly it effects most of us

safety is paramount -- every hour of every day

I have over 13 yrs under my belt ...meaning experienced enough to understand safety and my work yet everyday the last word i hear from my boss when I walk out of his office without exception is -- make sure your guys come home to their wives at the end of their rotation ( a rotation being 2 weeks offshore)..without exception ....i have heard this 5 days a week for 13 yrs and I make sure I pass on the same work ethic to my juniors....and I am by no means a special case....most people i know in the industry are the are most bosses...

like I said -- generalization is the worst form of tunnel vision

ali -- I suppose Tim is at a disadvantage as most are: they only see much about the oil patch when here is a world class screw up. They don't see the day to day effort to conduct biz safely. No doubt all industries have to deal with such unbalanced perceptions.

Tim -- many of us have safety drilled into us daily. Some take it to heart...some not so much...just human nature. Sounds like ali has good mentors. Some of us had to learn in a more brutal way. I was working less than two years when I had to help the company man carry the body of a drilling hand in a tarp off the drill floor. Not a typical job for a geologist but he didn't want any of the other drill hands helping...they were already pretty shook up. And they were expected to go back to work once we had the body cleared (these were the bad old days). A big dramatic blow out? Nope...he was just standing in the wronge spot when a joint of csg fell and crushed him. No one bothered to tell him he should have been standing on the other side of the drill floor. Just one more pointless fatality. Needless to say I don't need to watch a safety movie to think about keeping my hands safe. And yes, I've worked with management who had little concerns for the safety of the ops. Like I said: good guys and bad guys. But you mostly just see the bad guys on the 6 o'clock news.

One more nutty idea: Why can't they simple run very large casing, like that used for sewer lines, say 6' diameter down and over the BOP. It would take a mile of it to reach the surface, but we run hundreds of miles every day all over the country. The bore is large enough to keep hydrates at bay. Handling the oil/separated gas at the surface is much easier.

Could be weight. Something this big is usually horizontal.

True, but the risers/casing typically used span the same distance. They are mostly suspended from surface, which might be difficult here. Could active control of the stack avoid currents knocking it over?

I suggested the same concept days ago but the engineers shot it down over hydrate formation. My concept was a flexible rubber tube of similar dimensions up to a collection manifold at the surface, the condom concept. Apparently, if the pressure is not maintained in a smaller pipe too many variables come into play? Beyond my pay grade :(

It could be difficult - like it can sink a ship? Very heavy...

As the oil/gas mixture rises in the casing, the pressure inside the casing would be dropping faster than the seawater pressure on the outside. This is caused by the gas lift effect inside the casing - that is, from the expanding methane. At some point, the difference between the inside and outside pressures would be enough to collapse the casing. To prevent this, the diameter of the casing must be much less than 6' and the walls much thicker. In other words, drill pipe.

Please see my suggestion for a gas lift pump earlier in this thread, and comment if you find something wrong with it.

Like most of the large pipe casing ideas. They could work however you would have to suspend all the capture now for what months to build the giant casing?
You could suspend oil capture build the casing and try the kill shot again? I myself would rather see what is happening continue and the relief wells take their best shot. Not saying your idea is impossible it's just not practical as I see it. That is a a big problem when there are two competing ideas, there is only room for one at a time in the same space. If we wanted to we could build a bridge to span oceans we have no shortage of big ideas. That I think is what makes this an interesting time to live in:)

I think folks who are advocating larger pipes might be seriously overestimating the flow rate. The current best guess of 8800 barrels a day sounds huge, but if you break it down to barrels per minute it's easier to visualize.

A flow of 8800 bbl/day divided by 24 hours is roughly 360 barrels an hour. Divide by 60 minutes and you get around 6 barrels a minute, or one every ten seconds.

To visualize this, imagine a 3 ft high barrel a foot and a half diameter, smaller than a regular 55 gal drum, and a nice fit inside the riser (20 inches i.d.). It holds 5.3 cu ft, close enough to 42 gallons for government work.

So, if my calcs are correct, you'd see a barrel pop out of the riser, then get a sip of coffee and a back stretch while waiting for the next barrel.

I'm not trying to trivialize this spill at all; running the math in the other direction obviously produces humongous amounts of oil and gas over time. And that stuff has killed good people, screwed up a lot of lives, oiled our beloved pelicans, and slimed my favorite oyster beds. I'm trying to show we aren't dealing with the mother of all firehoses, just an ordinary one (6 barrels/minute is 252 gal/min, a normal flow in a 2 inch firehose). Bigger pipes will just slow down this flow on its way to the surface, and I haven't seen a compelling argument for doing that yet.

And, yes, the flow into the LMRP cap and up to the surface is a different matter, but that is 150 atmospheres below, and several paygrades above my level, so I'll stop here.

Looks like Enterprise ROV2 is closing vents or a vent mechanically at this timestamp.

Are long-duration deep-sea oil well blowouts tolerable?

This is the question that seems to divide the community here. Many of the industry professionals seem to believe that they are. I would ask them if there is any degree of environmental destruction that would make such blowouts intolerable? Are we there yet?

If long-duration blowouts are intolerable, then it follows that truly fail-safe well sealing technology must be developed and deployed. I firmly believe that the world's combined engineering resources could devise a highly reliable means of permanently sealing an undersea oil well. That effort should have begun a long time ago.

To say that current practice is adequate and that relief wells are the only sound solution is to invite a repetition of the current disaster.

I'm quite sure your preaching to the choir on this subject. The engineering effort to get to "truly fail-safe", is an ongoing effort, but as everything else in life, there is no such thing as truly fail-safe. When you say "highly reliable", that is not a "truly fail-safe" state either, that is simply highly reliable but not perfect.

No such thing as fail-safe?

There has never been an accidental detonation of a nuclear weapon in history, despite the fabrication of tens of thousands of these devices and their handling in extreme environments over many decades. The reason for this excellent record is that a safety failure is intolerable.

Once deep-sea blowouts are judged to be intolerable events, appropriate technology will be deployed. In addition, a wholesale re-evaluation of risks and incentives in the deep-sea drilling industry must be undertaken to prevent another disaster. Until then the world will suffer as much environmental damage as companies like BP are willing to risk in order to maximize their profits.

Nuclear weapons have exploded accidently. The reason that they did not go 'critical' during the explosion is because they are typically stored in a partially-assembled state.

This is a world of difference when compared with mechanisms that are expected to operate in a continoius and reliable manner.

In addition - nuclera weapons safety has come at the expense of nuclear weapons reliability. This is the reason nuclear stragety typically allocates two warheads per target - with a 20% chance of the nuclear weapon having no more effect than a similar-sized rock, you have to use two in order to have a reasonable chance that at least one of them will go 'boom.'

Can you imagine just how hard it would be to run drilling operations if 20% of the time your safety equipment would accidently activate and screw everything up?

When we get new information, most of us revisit our thinking and adjust our priorities. Are spills of this kind tolerable? Can profit-seeking corporations be trusted to prevent disasters of this magnitude. I believe the answer to both questions is no.

Yes, it would cost much more to drill in a manner that prevents ecocide. How much will it take to persuade you that the cost is worth paying?

"Yes, it would cost much more to drill in a manner that prevents ecocide."

Fine - how much money are _you_ willing to pony up for this? Or are you taking the attitude that it dosen't mattar as long as you are spending somebody else's money?

And you need to look at the ecological mess that was produced by the government-run corporations in the old Soviet Union. Blaming this on on 'profit-motivated' corporations without admitting that government owned companies are just as bad reeks of a political agenda.

BTW - if you ban 'profit-seeking' corporations from drilling for and processing oil, where do you expect to come up with the capital investment necessary to conduct these activities?

I am not sure relating the quatity of failures to the frequency of events or experiences does anything but generate a statistic about failure rates. Take air travel, certainly more people are killed by air travel than failed BOP's, yet, the number of airflights dwarfs the number of BOP's by a factor in the millions (I am not going to go look up a reference to support this); take automobile accidents or medical treatments as even more extreme examples. Because it is not tied to some ulterior political concept, we never hear the "more environmentally concerned" ( see I am playing nice an did not say "Tree Huggin' Liberal Fruitcakes")among us screaming for 100% assurance of no undesireable outcomes for air travel, the operation of motor vehicles, or medical treatment. Yet, I estimate more people will be killed by any two out of three of those activities I mentioned above in just this month, than will ever be attributed to the actual lethality of this blownout oil well.
To be fair, I should let everyone know that I am a Gulf Coast resident and my livelyhood is tied to the petrochemical industry. My singular recreation is offshore fishing in the GOM, and I am horrified by the scale of the pollution and loss of life that has resulted and will continue to accumulate as a result of this industrial failure. I am a long time member and financial supporter of several conservation groups working diligently to preserve the nature of our waterways, estuaries, and the Gulf. It's seems to me that knee jerk reactions like a drilling moratorium are draconian measures when taken in the context of their results on the economy and national security. If we have to cut the petroleum products as a result, based on where I hear all the complaining by the MIMBY's originating from, with respect to expanding coastal exploration and production; my first recommendation would be the heating oil we ship to the northeast, one winter's worth of that would change the pertinent demographics I'll wager.

You da man, too!!!

I think that risk assessment and planning to cut off the northeast oil are a bit premature. I would wait to see a year or so as to what the true scope of this is. Risk assessment is only possible from known outcomes. So the previous risks associated with deep water drilling was based on previous experience, hence the technology and acceptable failure rates. Lets tally this one in...

The relief wells provide the only solution to blow outs that has been tried successfully many times. So, every time they start drilling a new well, they should start drilling a relief well at the same time. If something goes wrong with the first well, they can intervene in a matter of several days to few weeks instead of several months. This is standard practice in other countries. Before you mention the tens of millions needed to drill the relief well in parallel with the production well, think about how many wells BP could have drilled with the money they will end up spending for the cleanup, for lawyer fees, for fines and PR campaigns.

Other technology should definitely be developed. But, every blow out will be different and "standard" solutions may not work every time.

by drilling two wells you effectively double your chances for critical failure, imagine if instead there were two holes down in the ground that had blown, two BOPs that could have failed twice as much oil and twice as much work to do. Also I think you'd be hard pressed to find a country where this is standard practice. I do however agree that a relief well housing and assembly could be included on all platforms, but since the platform exploded it probably wouldn't be functioning anyways.

Drilling of the emergency relief well could be halted a few hundred feet above the reservoir. In case of a blowout, the relief well could be completed in a few DAYS, rather than the months we are contemplating in the GOM.

MaterialsMan: By drilling two wells you effectively double your chances for critical failure... Also I think you'd be hard pressed to find a country where this is standard practice.

Lessismore already showed why the first statement is wrong.

As for the emergency well policy, you only have to look at Canada where "... an operator needs to demonstrate that there is a viable system that can be deployed to drill a well, a relief well, in the same season as the original well, should the original well go out of control ..." The policy applies to drilling in the Beaufort Sea, stretching across the top of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, that is in areas where the drilling season there is cut short by ice.

Last March, a month before the DW blow out, BP told the Canada's National Energy Boar that it should repeal the 34-year-old policy on relief wells. BP said "... relief wells can be superseded by the technology and sophistication of modern drilling rigs... ".

Read the story here...

I don't think is accurate, two relief wells does not indeed double your risk. Since the failure rate of relief wells is less than 100%, 50%,25% there can not be a double in risk.

Enterprise ROV2 is spending considerable amount of time looking at the large diameter joint just below the final upper flange system, with the words "Flexi..." on it. This appears to be the flex joint that was mentioned previously. At the same time, I see a line hooked up to the upper part of the joint, which I don't think was there before. I was under the impression previously that the H-4 hydraulic collet connector doesn't have a built-in flex joint, but it appears that it does. Also the hydraulic activation seems to be from above, which upon a little thinking makes sense, too.

So, are they preparing for something that has been mentioned multiple times (by yours truly, among others)? - Activating the hydraulics and finally popping off the damaged upper flange assembly?

Hurray if they are!

Skandi is looking REAL close at the bubble level on the upper joint and it doesn't look bad! I am telling you they finally gonna do it!

Excellent discussion on corporate ethics above, 'yall!

Let it not be said that the American intellectual has died out...

Yep interesting discussion and I have to wonder how many of us have happily discussed these same subjects with the guy at the next pump---as we continue fueling up our vehicles; how many times since the Deepwater Horizon exploded??

How many have traded in their cars for bikes--How many now walk to work? How many have recently increased bandwidth and increased electrical consumption?

We all know the answer to those questions already. We as Americans want 2 things. We want everthing "somoneelse" can provide for us at little expense to ourselves--and we want to complain and whine about it when those things aren't provided on our terms. And of course--it's always everyones--anyones--someone elses faulkt except the guy in the mirror.

Very good point- it's much easier to poo poo "big oil" than actually do anything about it. "Drill Baby Drill" makes for good campaign slogans, but other than the jobs created (no small thing) the oil is sold on the world market. We would think that increased supply would decrease the price, but not when the major producers (OPEC) can simply reduce their production accordingly to maintain high prices. The cost of exploration and drilling/production in North America will never be able to compete with other sources. Add the risk of major cleanup costs to the equation and it makes little sense to me. The Federal Government will likely end up spending billions of our tax dollars cleaning this up and compensating the local residents for their losses, imagine putting that same money into subsidies for wind, solar and hydro projects? Yes, billions will be recovered from BP, but they will simply get it back from you and I at the pump over the next two decades. Cars can run on batteries recharged by the sun. Large trucks can run on natural gas. Fuel Cells are real, just too expensive. I work in this business, and price is the factor driving decisions to go either solar or wind. Build it cheap enough and they will buy.

You might want to actually check the acreage required for the solar and wind you espouse. And for hydro, check what the EPA is up to on those. The only credible alternative in the reasonable future (10-20 year horizon) is nuclear. Fuel cells don't do diddly because you have to make the fuel they burn. Hydrogen burns nice and clean, at least per the CURRENT EPA definition, but has a very low energy density per unit volume. Meth/ethanol required crop growth. Look at what the 10% ethanol mandate has ALREADY done to fuel prices. And that ethanol delivers significantly LESS performance per unit volume than the gasoline it replaces. Electric vehicles may make sense for high density urban environments where travel distances are small, but does ANYONE in the Big Apple actually OWN a car? So massively replace fossil fuel electricity generation with nukes - maybe we can get almost as good as the French and do almost 80%? Nah, the Frenchies are FAR more competent engineering-wise than the US, aren't they? Use the fossil stuffies (oil, gas, coal) to do the long-distance move thingees that make the US the US. The Germans had a successful coal gasification effort back in the 40's. But then they also were obviously far more competent that our current engineers as well, eh?

I walked 7/10ths of a mile to the Farmer's and Fisher's# Market this morning, got a good deal on blueberries :-)

I have bought a 396 kWh/year refrigerator and Bosch ($9/year) washing machine in the last month and a half (Thank You Uncle Obama for the rebates ! :-)

Due to hot weather, I spend a few early mornings/week adding massive amounts of insulation to my attic (goal is R-19 + two layers of R-30 over most of it).

Added double honeycomb blinds (R-4) over two windows.

I continue a low driving lifestyle, but perhaps even more so.

Best Hopes for less Energy use,


# Just two wives of fishermen today, both with limited supplies.

I feel like the only people involved are underwater and mechanical engineers. Has anyone considered a materials based solution. When BP tried the "junk shot" they could have been using engineered materials instead of golf balls and hair. In that way I have been wondering about a couple of things that might be able to slow the flow. If you have any idea why these things would not work please reply:

1. run refrigerant coils around the pipe- cooling the pipe could cause the oil to become more dense, could cause collection on the inside of the pipe slowing flow. You may have to slightly reheat the oil later in order to suck it up with the current containment system, but this project could be done while the containment system is still in place and could be tested without interference.

2. bring the container ship closer to the well- would it be possible to sink a sealed tanker or tank, perhaps one containing a vacuum with an opening that could suck oil from the cap, I guess the question is would containment be easier if the oil didn't have to flow a mile up to be captured?

3. use an expanding net to slow oil flow- make a net of kevlar that would offer little to no resistance to oil flow wile being put in place, tack it down with immense pressure so it doesn't blow off, woven with electronic or catalytic components that could actively turn gain mass through oxidizing oil, electroplating metals from the oil solution, or if used in conjunction with a cooling system could catch solid oil chunks. This would never seal the leak but might be able to slow the flow.

I am starting my PHD in Mat sci this fall, but my background is in chemistry, so I don't have drawings or anything. I think we could use the oil to stop the oil, like a blood clot forming in a bleeding artery, and I think work should focus on containment rather than capture, we can work on capturing later.

MMan --- material guys are involved.....i think BP wanted to explain what they were doing with a junk shot and over simplified their explanation and the MSM ran with golf balls....the reality is they used what are called "bridging agents" in their junk shot....materials specially selected for their properties, shape, strength, flexibility and all that good stuff to pump in specially and purpose selected bridging agents in their junk shot as bridging was not hair balls are used yes....but that is based on the fact that a golf ball with its dimples when pushed into a fast moving stream of fluid starts to rotate (same principle that provides lift to a golf ball when you hit it with a driver ) and follows the stream of fluid flow at a speed slightly lower than the fluid because it rotates opposite to the fluid flow and provides good chances to get stuck in leaking holes.....

but golf balls were not the only bridging agents used.....custom designed stuff was used based on fluid dynamics principles yes ...what I am saying is a little thought went into selecting stuff they shot into the BOP stack ....folks like yourself who understand materials were heavily involved in this process...

When BP tried the "junk shot" they could have been using engineered materials instead of golf balls and hair. In that way I have been wondering about a couple of things that might be able to slow the flow.

Imagine that you could stop the flow with a junk shot but couldn't control the rate at which the flow was shut off. For example, you have a bunch of junk in the BOP, and then a group of the junk flops out of one area and completely blocks the flow. This would mean the oil and gas that is flowing with some velocity and some momentum would be stopping suddenly. This "jackhammer" effect has been known to blow out the shallow casing. I was once related to an offshore gas blowout where the shallow casing blew out. The offending zone (4 gas sands) was sealed when the well bridged over (overhead shale collapse into the open hole)

Again, all the while the total flow of the well goes into the Gulf? So you stop the drill ship to start your many week approach to a possible solution? Hum, that space time thing is a problem isn't it? What's fun about all these ideas that even the one in a billion might work however, wouldn't you want to stop most of the flow like yesterday? Mile long Tyvek shower curtains sinking battle ship even might have that one in a billion. Then there is the oil. Would I if I was in charge of the team (and this is a team like not many others)stop all progress to try something like a Kevlar net, nope!
the forms clumps after being cooled in the ocean not in the well. Liquid nitrogen raises it's ugly head again :)

Rock, as deep as this reservoir is, how well to you think BP understands the structure and boundaries? Could you share some insight what differences there might be in these deeper reservoirs? Thanks ahead of time:)

What is the yellow circle thing bolted onto the side of the BOP, under the riser? They've been around that for a time. It has blue cables from the LMRP on it.
Rockman, Two ROVs walk into a bar...


I think that's the bubble level Dimitry mentioned in this comment:

My apologies in advance if this question is deemed too simplistic, but is there currently any consensus among the community as to who will ultimately held responsible for this? I don't mean BP or any other corporation, I mean was there an individual act, instruction or a single technical procedure on April 20th that caused the abnormal pressure in the marine riser which led to the explosion? I know it will take years of Baker-style reports and litigation to get to the bottom of it, but I wondered what the current view is.

I just hope we do get to the bottom of it - and the whole bit of it. This is idealistic I know, but as much as BP management may be to blame we need to also address the overall scenario that allows, or causes, a BP to end up in a mess like this in the first place. Regulations, enforcement, underfunding, corporate welfare, energy consumption overshoot, whatever the cause.

Yes - the media here in the UK is starting to give this some serious coverage now. This is a quote from the London Times:-

"Vince Cable [UK Govt Business Scretary] has warned against “extreme and unhelpful” anti-British rhetoric as American politicians stepped up their criticism of BP’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Business Secretary also urged the Government not to resort to “gunboat diplomacy” by lobbying the White House on the oil company’s behalf and risk associating itself with the environmental disaster."

I think the seriousness of the situation is at last starting to dawn on people on this side of the Atlantic.

If BP fails the UK pension system and banks might well falter as well. This could be the straw that breaks Britain's back, given its many other issues.

Cost-cutting management, bad engineering, oilfield trash (get 'er done), no regulation beyond filing a few forms. The USCG hearings at Kenner were instructive. BP company men giving orders on Horizon were too sick to testify or took the Fifth. BP drilling engineer dissembled, blamed a committee, cleverly couldn't identify his own drilling plan document, strutted like career criminal hiding behind a high priced lawyer who objected to introducing real evidence.

The bottom of it is rotten, top to bottom. Thunder Horse was either an engineering fraud or incompetent reserves estimate, probably never make payback.

I happen to know for a fact that MMS technical staff aspire to work in the private sector, take training courses, and lease operators hire them to do bullshit to get them out of the way so MMS is staffed with less knowledgable, uncritical paper pushers, and it's been going on like that for years.

The cure is exactly what Obama ordered, a major shake-up at MMS, which is what happened in Britain following Piper Alpha.

We already know there were a handful of faults, which is normal for a catastrophe. Culpability is another issue, and I'm sure lawyers will argue about that for years.

It is human nature to want a single, simple fix, but rarely is that the case, as human foolishness is so complex.

Most agree that the "final straw" was displacing the drilling mud to seawater without the proper 'barriers' in place.

Total flow rate?

Presuming lowest & highest daily spillage rates (500K to 1M gallons per day), GOM has now (@ day 46) absorbed between 23 and 46 million gallons of crude. (Plus ~ 1M gallons of enhanced kerosene, aka, Corexit.)

Anyone got better numbers?

Looking at the various ROV cam feeds, I visually guestimate something like 83% (call it 80%) of the flow is currently going directly into the Gulf, at the BOP, meaning only 16% (call it 20%) reaching the processing ship.

Here’s my simple equation:

A = gallons/day currently being recovered via LMRP cap/riser pipe
B, C, D and E = flows blowing out each of 4 pressure relief valves (on LMRP cap)
F = total flow blowing out beneath LMRP cap

IMHO, all flows look to be about roughly equal volume, give or take, hence total flow = 6 x A

Agree? Disagree?

Anyone know the current value of A (according to BP)?

NYT quotes Adm. Allen with 6 kbd.

45 or 55 gallons per barrel?

42 US Gallons per barrel

45 gallons/barrel = 1.62M g/d total flow rate, or 1.34M g/d into Gulf
55 gallons/barrel = 1.98M g/d total flow rate, or 1.64M g/d into Gulf

Which means, given current conditions, another 80.6M to 98.6M gallons into GOM by August.

(All ROM calculations moot, should riser flow rates to ship improve significantly.)
And yes, some seawater in A flow mix, presumably.

42 US gallons/barrel = 1.51M g/d total flow rate, or 1.25M g/d into Gulf

Which means, given current conditions, another 75M gallons into GOM by August.

(All ROM calculations moot, should riser flow rates to ship improve significantly.)
And yes, some seawater in A flow mix, presumably.

42 gallons per barrel.

No upper bound was given for the flow rate. The 12k to 19k was the range of lower bounds from the 3 teams.


6,000 barrels of Oil AND Seawater let Us not forget, add to the equation the increased flow from the well. We are no better off today than We were a week ago, in fact it's worse.


I just heard Thad Allen state that the max capacity of the processing capacity is only 15,000 BOPD. I hope he had the wrong information. If the pre-riser cut rate was at the higher rate of 25,000BPD and the post riser rate was 20% higher or 30,000BPD even at the max capacity there would still be at least 15000 BPD escaping. Based on the videos after the final cut I would guess the rate to certainly be at the higher guess if not higher.

There is an additional consideration. As the rate increases up the riser and the vent valves are closed the backpressure from the sea water hydrostatic will be less thus allowing the rate to increase. This is something a production engineer could calculate and no doubt BP should have. End result, there could be more oil escape to the sea than before the riser was cut!!!

I hope BP are planning to add a parallel production train to increase the capacity. I would think just for the added revenue stream it would be worth it. This would require some coordination but given the problem and resources available, certainly doable.

Over a month ago, I advocated bringing at least one sister ship (or comparable) on-site with contingency plans for another on call as needed.

ATM, I would advocate contingency plans for a split to two vessels (series or parallel, whichever can be made to work) and a 3rd vessel for producing the choke & kill lines.

Best Hopes for Planning for more than 5,000 b/day !


1.It's 6000 BOPB only.
2. Do not know for sure if flow increased or by how much after cut made.
3. Already 3 time more than average RIT daily capture.

42 U.S.Gallons in a barrel of oil

Agree, but the rate is very likley higher than it was a week ago for 2 reasons. When they cut the riser on top they took away some restriction - how mucH?? BP said it added 20% to the flow. I have seen what flowrates of 10-12000 BOPD looks like on North Sea tests and have to say that the rate coming out of that 19" riser was pretty phenominal on the video. I guess there are experts out there that can calculate flowrates from a video image but we have not heard from them as to what they think the rate was after the final riser shear. I have a suspicion why that might be.

The other reason is reduced back pressure. The back pressure on the top of the BOP will become less as the oil rate up the riser increases due to decreased hydrostatic (oil and gas) as compared to seawater. Just how how much we do not know. Just because they can measure a nice flowrate on the Enterprise does not mean the losses are that much less by an equivalent amount. Now they might be able to impose back pressure with a combination of friction and choke so what I am saying here might not be entirely correct. My point is that you have to be careful subtracting the measured flowrate at the surface from the original flowrate estimates to come up with the rate of oil being lost to the ocean. Flowrate from the well will be impacted by what BP are doing.

I certainly hope they looking at an LMRP unlatch option to be able to effect a good 100% seal. What they are doing now is a step in the right direction but am afraid it will not be enough. I hope I am wrong.

I would just caution that looks are deceiving given the proportion of gas in the mix. We'll see what they get with this pus the flow lines they hook up in a week or so. I have been way off on estimates of gas flames I have seen in the past.
One thing we have not heard too much about is flow over time (from beginning until top kill.). I believe they said the pressures in the BOP had changed over time.(Shelburn posted he thought the rate had increased). Definitely hard to get a good handle on all of it. Just hope these two methods get most of it. Can't make up for what has been spilled put better than a kick in the teeth.

Probably not much seawater in that 6000. More will make it in as they ramp up, most likely, though the cap will settle and seal better as the leak decreases.

It's probably about half. Not too shabby for two days in place.

with regards to pressure stresses on BOP: wouldn't the shears have stressed it about as much as could be while shut? If it's not apparently further compromised by that, maybe it's hardier than many suppose - disclaimer - posted by noob

Considering the extreme flow rate at the drill pipe exit I'm having a hard time understanding how a cement plug could still be in place in any part of the drill pipe like there is supposed. Anyone have a better understanding of this?

I am wondering if it would be possible to drill down to a section of the drill pipe that sits in a dense geology and somehow crush the drill pipe with a hydraulic press or explosive charge?

If this didn't stop the leak I'm thinking it would have a high probability of slowing it down allot. Another other relief well should stem the flow of the leaking pipe enough
so that it could be filled with mud and cement.

See drawing;


Oh my, how interesting! How many years would you need to perfect this crushing device that can be remotely implanted by would this be nanobots? Or an expanding crusher that is attached to the drill pipe that doesn't block the flow of the drill mud during the drilling of this remote crusher? Your drawing scale wise shows two drill ships on top of each other? Would you suspend the capture while drilling the crusher? Just some thoughts.

Hey I'm just asking.
My thoughts are that a hole could be drilled down near to the existing pipe and a device for crushing it could be inserted and backed up by cement or mud.

They don't have this "device". What they have and have used successfully in he past is cement and heavy drilling mud.

In addition, the trouble with these "one shot solutions" is that they ruin months of work (in this case a painstakingly drilled relief well) for any future attempts, if the "one shot" fails.

I understand your point and applaud your idea. However you should review how a well is drilled first. Drilling mud is used to prevent the blow out when the well bore is breached, other wise you would have the same conditions as when the horizon rig blew up. The drill mud must stay in the well until is is closed for production. Just a tip for people, these people really are not new to this. Really, you can review on here as well as other sites on how a well is produced from spud to refinery. Fun stuff this business, I have a step father that was an oilman for years and loved every story he told of the old days and the new days. I had a grandfather that was a super on the Pan Handle Eastern natural gas pipeline that some here knew and the stories he told. One was a leak test gone wrong blowing up a mile of 6' pipe in IL. farm field luckily. Someone forgot the water and my grandfather was away at the time, big boom!I have worked my whole life in energy and have never lost the thrill of learning what is in store for us. I know we will be forced to change our way of like I think sooner, some here think a hundred years, but we will change.
So out of respect for these people in the field do a small amount of homework first, not to be critical ( that sounds like bs, but i mean it, love students).Besides I will always be a student ha! I like to think I knwo everything but, I know I know very little, including the standard model.

Hey I'm just asking.
My thoughts are that a hole could be drilled down near to the existing pipe and a device for crushing it could be inserted and backed up by cement & mud before it is activated.
A crushing device would require enough forward pressure to mash the drill pipe. I'm thinking it could be driven by hydraulics or an explosive charge.

Oh you sly guy! Are you suggesting a nuclear weapon? The ultimate in crushing device. I think most here understand the idea and this is something you should work on, because this isn't the end of this well or others like it. We will need a quick kill idea and maybe it's your version? I still think just a plain relief well or mud kill would be my first choice in conjunction with any deep drilling. What will really blow your mind is how much oil there is under a giant salt dome that would be years of oil if they could just drill without a breach of the dome. Brazil (Tupi) will be an even challenge and I see the Norwegians sold off 50% to the Chinese the day after BP spill. So get your quick kill ready for that experience :)

No a nuke would be overkill if one just wanted to crush the 21" steel pipe.

I saw that about the nukes in another thread here and elsewhere. I think it would be very risky and dangerous in this situation. I'm not suggesting any where near that kind of explosion. Just something that would crush the drill pipe down to being flat or nearly flat and crumble the surrounding rock so that the flow and pressure is stopped or restricted.

Re: Extreme Flow Rates

I understand that 400,000 to a million gallons a day sounds like a monster flow, but if you break it down to a per minute flow rate, it will seem much more manageable. At the higher end of estimates, 1,000,000 gal/day divided by 1440 minutes is about 700 gallons per minute. That's a big firehose or an ordinary fire hydrant size of flow, see for example:

It adds up over days and weeks, but the flow itself is not extreme --the LMRP cap bounced around in the flow, but it didn't get blown to the moon. The 2200 psi environment is pretty extreme, and so is the one mile of remoteness from human control. These are the bigger problems.

I thought I read somewhere here that the flow rate at the drill pipe exit was around 10,000 psi. That seems like allot of pressure for a 21' pipe especially if there is supposed to be a cement plug in it somehwhere.

cm - You're correct about not being able to set cmt in a flowing well. I haven't seen details of the kill plan so I'll make some assumptions: once they cut into the wild well they'll start puming a kill pill...probably 16+ #/gallon mud weight. Just pumping the mud in won't stop the flow. They need to fill the entire csg of the blow out well with this heavy mud in order for the pressure exerted by the kill pill at the bottom of this column exceeds the pressure of the flowing reservoit. Essentially replacing the hydrostatic head that was removed when they displaced the original mud with sea water. In reality it might not go just like that. There are still some question about the exact route of the oil/NG to the sea floor.

Did MMS/OilIndustry field test predict subsurface plumes in a DW blowout?

Whole article at

... It turns out the Minerals Management Service (MMS) had long ago thought about this problem and conducted a "field test" 10 years ago to determine what might happen. Their finding: the oil could form underwater plumes that drift below the surface unseen.

...Ten years ago, MMS engaged industry in a field test of what might happen in a deepwater blowout. The idea of a field test arose in 1997, when MMS and the industry realized three things: (1) an increasing proportion of all off-shore extraction would occur in deeper and deeper water, (2) there was a significant risk of a deepwater blowout, so they better plan for it; (3) there was insufficient understanding of how the released oil and gas would behave at such depths and under the pressure/temperature conditions existing at various depths.

...As the presentation seems to show, this theory predicted that the released oil/gas might not immediately rise to the surface but would instead become trapped, at least temporarily in large plumes below the ocean surface level, suspended at a "neutral buoyancy point" defined by the oil/gas characteristics, the pressure and temperature and the rate at which it became associated with sea water. The expected plume would drift with the current, but small droplets would gradually break off and rise to the surface where it would be observed there.

yes, more details at this MMS TA&R report from 1997:

Fate & Behavior of Deepwater Subsea Oil Well Blowouts

direct pdf link:

It looks to me that their use of dispersants is not as necessary as they apparently think, thought maybe as leakage slows it would be more helpful.

more papers on oil in the ocean:
Physical Behavior of Oil in the Ocean

If they've already added dispersants in order to break the oil down, could they add something to the plumes in order to get it to stick together again? That might make it easier to bring it to the surface, so it could be extracted?

photon --

If what you are suggesting is a verey big accumulator (container / collecting vessel / tank) down at the sea floor, and then pipe (prob quite a bit bigger than 6" -- but that can be worked out) running up to a manifold just below sea level (diver depth - forty feet under surface) that processing vessels could "plug into" with big hoses -- then I am with you.

It would be somewhat unfortunate that the riser has been cut off the BOP, because the bent over riser would have delivered the oil horizontally to an adjacent accumulator, while still giving chances to see and work around the well head with rov's. As things are now, there is a connect onto the BOP problem, and a work around the well head problem. But those aren't the end of the world. And getting the accumulator is mostly a question of finding something of things suitable along the GoM coast, dragging it out, sending it down the 5000 ft to the bottom.

Hurricane comes, processing ships gotta scoot, you end up opening a valve to dump instead of accumulate, pipe, process, and ship, but it would seem to me that's the exception rather than the rule, and in a couple of weeks tops, you are handling all the oil.

Love your thoughts and comments! I do have to ask, of all that has happened after the blow out, would you have done anything differently than BP has to date? I have lead teams in very difficult times with total failure on the line in a different field and have stated logically I don't think I would have changed anything that has happened (of course without hindsight).

On the ocean floor, perhaps not. However, they have blown it on the PR front. Spending millions on TV commercials and demanding total disclaimers from desperate, uneducated fisherman is ridiculous. Their explanations re: the toxicity of the dispersant agents and refusal to pay for bio remediation attempts have only made things worse. This is not the time to appear cheap., watch the video.

Aside from the fact that most of what you say is not true I agree.

If they can attach a 6" pipe and seal it (I mean what they are doing now) and nothing blows out, great. However if there is a means to pump say 30000 bpd (to account for seawater mixed in) from that depth then it might be better to just let it come to equilibrium then pump it. I have no idea if a pump like that exists.

Love your thoughts and comments! I do have to ask, of all that has happened after the blow out, would you have done anything differently than BP has to date? I have lead teams in very difficult times with total failure on the line in a different field and have stated logically I don't think I would have changed anything that has happened (of course without hindsight).

A few questions:

1.) Have they decided yet to recap using a new better/more situated LMRP for the shear cut BOP?

2.) What is the plan to alleviate the excess pressure leading to the loss of NG/Oil from beneath the cap?

3.) Do you think, a pressurized seal combined with another source of pressure/flow path (the pipes used during the top kill) will work? Or will that be too dangerous?

Had some Ideas on how to seal the leak at the cut riser.
I sent them to BP
What do you think Engineers ?
I am a contractor not a draftsman.
I call it "THE CLAM" fix

I have 3 rough drawings numbered 1-3



They don't want to completely seal it, any chance of cold seawater leaking the opposite way into the pipe would risk freezing and blockage. They hope for a very low outward oil stream to ensure this, so it will continue to leak until the RW's can be completed. Your idea is a good one from a practical standpoint, but very risky. If the pipe did clog, the whole apparatus could come apart.

Thats why I incorporated the shutters so they could regulate the expansion of gas and close the annular ramm seal (clam) at the riser while monitoring the shutters. (open/close)
At the same time they ramp up the suction @ the multiport vessel.
Then there would be no water anywhere in the riser/system.


Yipes. Whatever gunk is in that pipe that BOA Deep Sea ROV-1 is looking at (2:20 PDT), it looked like a skull at first.

was thinking it was expelled mud settled into the pipe from top kill efforts...

I can’t imagine how this particular cap is going to significantly reduce leakage unless the output is still throttled. It looks overwhelmed. Hopefully, they can move to the next cap based on what has been gleaned from this one. Here are some thoughts:

The cap needs to have a reasonably tight seal, but it doesn’t have to be perfect (albeit that would be nice), nor does it have to be a high pressure seal. The seal shouldn’t try to control leakage per se, but rather to “seal”. The cap needs to act as a pressure staging-relief tank as well as a collection device. It does not have to be high pressure either, but it should maintain a nominal pressure above seawater pressure (say 200-300 psi delta ) to keep seawater out. At the same time, the cap also needs to remain at a low enough pressure not to risk rupture of down well components, the BOP, the seal, or the cap itself. So, the cap needs to maintain pressure within a narrow band.

So, how to do this. First, there could be a large relief valve (PCV-1) on the cap to keep the pressure below a desired psi (say seawater pressure SWP + 300 psi). The vents and leaking seal do this currently, but a large relief control valve to the ocean would control pressure more precisely. If pressure starts to exceed SWP + 300, this valve opens to maintain it. Additionally, a rupture disc on the cap (set to say SWP+ 400) would provide additional protection. Keep the vents as well – make sure they are conservatively sized - enough to handle full flow.

Next, there could be pressure control (PCV-2) on the outlet to the riser. They have manual valves in place to do this, but a control valve would control it better, and, in this example, would keep the pressure above say SWP + 200 psi to ensure seawater stays out of the cap. There would be a manual valve (V-3) in series with PCV -2. Pressures here are for discussion only, and not based on calcs.

The BOP pressure would go up a bit (300psi) since the cap will be exerting a backpressure. So, max desired BOP pressure would be input design criteria along with desired flow rate up the riser, max pressure rating of the cap and seal, etc.

To deploy:
1) Open the vents, close V-3. PCV-1 will be closed and PCV-2 will be open.
2) Put the cap in place
3) Slowly tighten down the seal (various methods have been proposed on TOD for this including some that don’t require removing the existing flange and bolts) – keeping some flow leaking. At this point, nearly all the flow should be pouring out the vents.
4) Slowly start closing the vents. As pressure builds, PCV-1 should start opening to keep it at/under SWP+300.
5) Finish tightening down the seal.
6) When PCV-1 is about 80% open, stop closing the vents.
5) Slowly start opening V-3. This is now creating flow up the riser. As V-3 opens further, PCV-1 starts closing down, still keeping pressure at SWP+ 300 psi.
6) When PCV-1 closes completely, the pressure will start to drop to SWP+200 psi, at which point PCV-2 will start to close, counteracting the opening of V-3.
7) It is now at maximum recovery flow (notwithstanding full closure now of the vents), which if the calcs are done well, would be most of the oil.

There are likely numerous problems with this I haven’t thought of. BP might be headed in this general direction anyway albeit with more manual vs. automatic pressure control.

The Oil Drum got a link in a New York Times article on peak oil today:

Maybe the MSM aren't all morans, eh?

Unrelated to the drilling, but I don't know where else to ask. If/when the oil leak is substantially cut off or mitigated or capped or in some way, the spill is reduced to minimal... How long before the effects begin decreasing at the shoreline, and how long before the effects begin decreasing at the spill area? Since it's taken a month, roughly, to reach shore in a big way, and is days away from reaching other signficant areas of shore, does it mean that about a month after the leak is stanched, that the impacts or at least the quantity arriving on shore begin to decrease rather than increase? Once there's no large leaking at site, how long before the area at the site begins to revert back to normalcy?


I doubt you can get a scientific answer on this.
Apparently allot of oil is hanging at depths off shore because of the deep water pressures that it was released into.

It's a science experiment of epic proportions.

I was wondering now that the top hat is in place, why they don't attempt to kill the well. Perhaps someone with a better understanding could let me know?

What I was thinking about was lowering some coiled tubing or even small diameter capillary through the new drill string as far as the cap. Then (perhaps following some wireline work, manipulate the tubing into the cut top of the old drill string, run deep into the well and inject heavy mud.

The "hat" provides no serious means of blocking or sealing off the top of the well, so you can't generate the high pressure needed to force mud down the well against the oil/gas pressure.

It seems like the shear ram of the BOP is partially closed and the DP therefore squeezed. This leads to some restriction of the flow which would otherwise be likely to be much larger. This is therefore good but it also would probably block some coil tubing etc. from moving in.

Excuse me, but I'm seeing a lit torch on the right lower side of the video from Skandi ROV2... Sorry, My mistake, it look like a torch but it must be something else... brightly colored wires?

I thought the same thing. Viewed fullscreen it's an orange loop handle.

CNN did A video on using DRY ICE to help collect TAR....BILLY NUNGESSER Plaquemines Parish President has become BILLY

It seems to me the best tools for shutting this down are already in place but just need fixing. The Shearing ram could be powered directly by a high pressure clamping splice that would be easy to make if not already available. One option for such a device can be found at my site but I have not been able to find good clear pics or drawings of the full BOP showing the size and type of line going into the ram head. Even if the seals were blown out an added sealant or "junk shot" should be able to work because unlike the riser junk shot attempt the shearing ram gaps would be so much smaller than the size of the inlet pipe the kevlar/rubber mixed in with the fluid there would be little chance it would just spew out the sides. If any online drawings are available please post the link or alert me (brooksbot01). I heard that some x-rays were taken of the BOP early on showing the rams partially deployed. That would also be helpful. They were too quick to give up on the BOP. Junk shot the shearing ram or tell me why this would not work and I will way to prove you wrong.

Dead power bypass for the shearing rams? Tell me why this would not work. It seems to me the best tools for shutting this down are already in place but just need fixing. The Shearing ram could be powered directly by a high pressure clamping splice that would be easy to make if not already available. One option for such a device can be found at my site but I have not been able to find good clear pics or drawings of the full BOP showing the size and type of line going into the ram head. Even if the seals were blown out an added sealant or "junk shot" should be able to work because unlike the riser junk shot attempt the shearing ram gaps would be so much smaller than the size of the inlet pipe the kevlar/rubber mixed in with the fluid there would be little chance it would just spew out the sides. If any online drawings are available please post the link or alert me (brooksbot01). I heard that some x-rays were taken of the BOP early on showing the rams partially deployed. That would also be helpful. They were too quick to give up on the BOP. Junk shot the shearing ram or tell me why this would not work and I will way to prove you wrong.

Why not? Sounds logical. But a lot of proposals for solution discussed here sound logical and BP hasn`t tyied them. I think they know what they are doing but there is a lack of information because BP is not informing us about technical details in this concrete case. But I think its their duty to inform also in detail.

As the flow goes up inside the pipe above top hat to ENTERPRISE, do you think the boundary layer gets thicker?