Deepwater Oil Spill - Pressure Tutorial - and Sunday Open Thread 2

Please transfer discussion to

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

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

(a) Basic concepts

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

(b) Common configuration in reservoir

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

(c) Common configuration in production tubing

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

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

(d) Over pressure

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

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

Prof. Goose's comment:

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Off topic, but might I suggest a dedicated thread (with a short paper by an expert here to start it off) with the following title:

"Factors that influence oil capture percentage at the cap, and future work that should enable an improvement in that percentage"

Factors that influence:
1. Oil pressure - water pressure difference at the cap
2. Cross-sectional area of the gap between the cap and the BOP.
3. Turbulence at the cap-BOP interface, which induces mixing and the entry of water into the rising oil stream even in the presence of a positive oil pressure minus water pressure difference.
4. Propensity of entrained water to freeze and clog the riser

Future work:
1. Control and reduce the pressure difference between the oil and the water at the cap.
2. Reduce the cross-sectional area of the gap between the cap and the BOP (I never liked this one, as it raises the pressure in the BOP)
3. Reduce the turbulence at the cap-BOP interface (reduces the mixing)
4. Raise the temperature of the oil (and the entrained water) entering the riser
5. Raise the temperature of the riser pipe
6. Insulate the riser pipe
7. Lower the freezing point of the entrained water (such as adding methanol, which they are already doing)
8. Other?

I am continually frustrated with the official line that they have to "increase the capture flow rate very slowly", as that pronouncement just doesn't inform at all.

And another topic (not part of the above suggested paper/thread):
"Future work to contain the oil that escapes the cap"
1. Stop adding corexit so as to STOP breaking up the oil and better enable it to reach the surface
2. Boom and contain the plume at the surface (perhaps surrounding the surface ships, but if there is sufficient current, the plume may surface entirely away from the ships above the well). Then skim or burn it (after moving it safely away from the ships).

1,2 and 3 in the FW column are sorted with a hinged collar, engineered to lock around the flange and with a tapered upper section that fits to the riser stub.
The collar provides a seat for the next generation CAP they develop, where all the disadvantages of the uneven cut and the damage in the pipe are eliminated.

In the BBC interview with Hayward, he is asked how the cap is performing.

Hayward responds, “As we speak, the containment cap is producing around 10,000 barrels per day, which is being processed to the surface….“

He is interrupted by the interview who asks, "What proportion is that of the total?"

Hayward answers: "At the moment, it is difficult to say, but we would expect it to be the majority, probably the vast majority of the oil..."

He is again interrupted by the host who asks, "So you think this cap will get most of the oil?"

Hayward responds, "That is our hope. We are optimizing the operation. We have a further containment system to implement in the course of this coming week which will be in place by next weekend. So, when those two are in place, we would very much hope to be containing the vast majority of the oil."

Those of you ridiculing Hayward for allegedly claiming that BP is *currently* capturing “the vast majority” of the oil are taking his comment out of context. The full context makes it clear that it is his “hope” and “expectation” to get to that when the system is optimized and the second containment system is in place.

There is plenty to criticize here without misrepresenting what BP says.

full interview (video) here

full transcript here

(I think the context speaks for itself)


and then this nugget:

BP Buys 'Oil' Search Terms to Redirect Users to Official Company Website

BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website.

all you have to do is to bid a little higher and then you can own them, and if they're doing a position placement in adwords, you can force them to pay a lot (heh)

That would actually be helpful if they were to make all the data and com traffic public so that everyone who has an idea can work it out with all the data needed to test those ideas on simulations.....Oooo how about virtual finite element model simulation of the leaking well to test the ideas on? Now THAT would be helpful. -brooks....another one of those idea guys.

what in god's oil-covered earth are they thinking now? probably to "manage" the crisis, as if (aside from actually making the superhuman effort of cleaning up their mess) that would still be possible at this stage.

Onlooker wrote:

BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website.

Given the incredible ignorance I've heard on the news about BP's response to this spill -- and given the flood of lies and disinformation being spread by the BP-haters -- I'd say a stratety of getting people to actually look at all the informantion at BP's web site is perfectly reasonable.

BP has every right to try and get people to listen to its side of the story on this disaster. Of course, they have no power to force anyone to listen, but purchasing search phrases is perfectly legitimate.

For instance, a week or so ago, I heard a Louisiana seafood dealer being interveiwed who complained as follows: "Don't BP know anything about multitasking? You tell one team, 'Ya'll go stop the leak', and then you tell another team, 'Ya'll go stop the oil spreading', and then you tell the third team, 'Ya'll go clean up the beaches'. That way BP could work on all three at once."

If I were already spending millions of dollars a day doing all three things, I'd certainly want to get the word out to people like that seafood dealer. Nothing wrong with that.

BP-haters eh? What about BP-apologists?
You are aware that there are miles and miles and miles of shoreline that BP hasn't even begun to clean up right? The marshes are thoroughly saturated and they really did nothing to stop that. I mean I know people are freaking out but let's not lose site of the fact that BP has dropped the ball and big time with respect to the clean up.
They SHOULD be spending millions upon millions a day, so I'm not sure what you're angle is here.

What? Those first 3 quotes can, I think, be accurately paraphrased thus: Hayward would expect that the currently produced amount of 10,000 barrels per day is the vast majority of the oil that is leaking. This implies that Hayward thinks that not much more than 10,000 barrels per day is leaking.

True that he then goes on to say that, by the end of the next containment project, he expects the vast majority of the oil to be contained, which is not much of an improvement on the vast majority of oil that he expects is currently being contained.

With, admittedly, an untrained eye, there still seems to be a huge amount of oil that is leaking. We must also remember that the estimates of 12,000-19,000 barrels per day was before the LMRP attempt, during which the oil flow was anticipated to increase by 20%. So the estimate of 12,000-19,000 becomes 14,400-22,800. Does 10,000 still represent "the vast majority" of the updated estimate?

Some estimates, of course, are much higher than the top end of that range. I guess we'll never know the true figure unless and until BP captures virtually all of the oil and has the amount independently audited.

Those first 3 quotes can, I think, be accurately paraphrased thus: Hayward would expect that the currently produced amount of 10,000 barrels per day is the vast majority of the oil that is leaking.

Not really. He says in response to the interviewer's question as to what proportion of the flow is being captured, "At the moment, it is difficult to say, but we would expect it to be the majority..."

"At the moment" (10,000 bbl/day) is now; "we would expect" (the majority of the flow) is in the future. We in the U.S. often use the term expect loosely to mean suppose or think, but he's clearly using it more precisely to mean anticipate.

Confuse and conquer. Bush and Cheney perfected the art form.

Uh-huh. One thing is clear ATM he claims 10k bpd. One other thing is clear, a very large device

is still billowing oil profusely. If the capture is to become the majority it's going to have to exceed 10k bpd by a bunch IMO. Anyone want to bet that pulling 20k bpd total will catch the vast majority of this.

Look at it and then remember it's about 10 feet in diameter (not 20 inches anymore) and a 5 gallon bucket per second (to equal the vast majority of say a 25k bpd leak) is about another 11,000 bpd. Two things seems the leak estimate is increasing and b.we are beginning to see what 10k bpd looks like coming out of this thing.

Brewin' that fresh hot black tea, are we?

"we would expect" (the majority of the flow) is in the future.

In American English, the normal way to refer to the future is to use the future tense. In other words, if he were talking about the future, he would say "we would expect it will be the majority..." The expression "expect it to be" clearly refers to the present.

You are jumping through linguistic hoops trying to put the best possible spin on what Hayward is saying, when the more normal interprestation is that he is trying to claim that BP is recovering most of the oil, while leaving himself some wiggle room. Here in America we call that "weasel words."

Just as you yourself are jumping through linguistic hoops to pretend that he saisd something that better fits your own buiias.

Pot - Kettle - Black anyone?

You are jumping through linguistic hoops trying to put the best possible spin on what Hayward is saying

Best shmest. Hayward needs no help spinning, God knows. If you need to impose the worst possible spin, be my guest, but you'd do well to read that portion of the transcript first, because your interpretation makes no sense in context. He goes on to say, "We have a further containment system to implement in the course of this coming week, which will be in place by next weekend. So when those two are in place, we would very much hope to be containing the vast majority of the oil."

If he'd said, "We expect it's the vast majority..." (and did not go on to say "we very much hope to be containing the vast majority..."), one could assume he was using "expect" in the sense of "suppose" or "think." But what he actually said, in context, makes it clear he's using "expect" in the sense of "anticipate." He uses the conditional "would expect" and "would hope" to indicate the outcome is uncertain, anticipated but not cast in stone.

He's using the subjunctive, a tense we've nearly forgotten about in English grammar, which can express conditionality, as you yourself are using by saying "if he were talking..."

I just get the feeling he's expressing cautious hope.

"We had too many people that were working to save the world and lost sight of the fact that our primary purpose is to create value for shareholders," Tony Hayward

Yup, that's the primary purpose of all businesses. It's a purpose that is incompatible with sustainability. Unfortunately, unsustainability has some rather dire consequences.

For someone whose ordinary job is practically the exact opposite of what Hayward is currently attempting, I think he is doing reasonably well. He began this tour as a shockingly detached observer, making stupid jokes about the situation. Now he seems to be trying to do better.

Maybe his concern is a pose, but at least it's better than his initial attitude of disdain and condescension.

To go back to the discussion on the lost data before the explosion:

My understanding from reading the media was that 7 hours of data was lost. This makes absolutely no sense to me. The whole point of something like e-drill is that it’s real time monitoring. If I’m understanding the media correctly, the data from the rig was somehow stored (what? On tapes or something?) and then transmitted onshore at certain intervals, hence the data for the 7 hours before the explosion being lost.
I must have misunderstood it. What are they saying, that the data was sent by helicopter? Or carrier pigeon?

It would be "real-time" well data to the operators on the rig, but not to shore imo...Data is probably transmitted to shore at the end of each 12hr shift, the "missing data" is on HDD along with the CCTV tapes 5000ft below the GOM. They should be able to retrieve what's left of those items once they get an ROV on the job.

Thanks, dcseng, but that would make it a rather strange version of e-drill, which is just a scada connected to the net for remote monitoring, like lots of others in a range of industries. I still think it's strange and still think I'm missing something.

I'd presume that it's mix of both situations. The the set of realtime parameters are preserved, but many of interest 'secondary' parameters might have been stored and forwarded in batches. Possibly of equal importance are on rig only records of the service/maintenance and surface testing of things like the BOP.

What stands out in my mind is the story of a crew called in to do some tests and finding the rig unsafe then calling in their own helicopter for a quick exit. As I understand it, that was about 12 hours before she blew, killing 11 workers.


As far as data transmission much is sent real-time to onshore servers. I've sat in my living room monitoring mud flow, LWD, etc in real time for a DW well off Brazil. I have no doubt BP was running the same type system. But, to be fair, the system might have been shut down at this point. But I would bet it wasn't. But that doesn't mean all the pertinent data was being transmitted to the shore in real time. But very early on we saw mud tank volumes and stand pipe pressures almost up to the second of the explosion so some data was saved on the server. And those servers are typically owned and run by subcontractors who would cut off their right hands before they would lie under oath for BP. In time the details will emerge IMHO.

"Lots of potential problems and a lack of information." shelburn

Thanks, RM. I know how respected you are here (only been here a week or so) and I do agree with you that the truth will out. My personal opinion is that all of the data is safe and onshore somewhere - as you rightly point out, it will almost certainly be on the server of a sub-contractor which means it will now be quarantined under a legal order.

As a lawyer, that seems laughable. I'll believe it when I see it. But then how would I know if I am really seeing all of it?

"The evidence is overwhelming. Any fair-minded person who examines the Gulf of Mexico oil spillage is compelled to two conclusions. First, that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by BP. Second, that the President of the United States has behaved disgracefully." [Bruce Anderson, The Independent]

Case closed. Obama did it.

That is an interesting thought, " if I am really seeing all of it?" With the salt structures running through the GOM, how would we know if there is not a fault fractured releasing oil? Large undersea plumes?

I don't have proof of oil bubbling up from the seafloor that folks would regard as conclusive. I captured a sequence from the Akers ROV that stared at rising waves of black stuff coming out of the mud for 20 minutes before it went off to pretend it was taking apart the dead riser, but I need to do some more image processing.

In the meantime here's another ROV time-lapse animation, captured today, showing a gas vent on the seafloor. If you look carefully a little to the left of center, you can see the vent changing shape as it belches gas.

Interesting that another ROV was dispatched to measure the tilt of the BOP stack today with an "inclinometer" tool. They may be losing the wellhead.

That's hilarious. If you can see anything of value in that sequence of frames, you're probably one of the people who also saw Saddam Hussein's face in smoke from the burning WTC.

About 30 minutes ago I too saw something I initially thought was something bubbling up from a featureless seafloor. One of the Canyon Oceaneering ROVs was sitting idle and looking at the mud, and a cloud of stuff rose up and began to rotate like a dust devil. It moved toward the ROV and went out of frame on the left, and then the ROV lifted up and turned to the right. It was just backwash from the thrusters. No plumes from the seafloor. Stop inventing stuff to explain things you can't explain.

edit: Oceaneering ROV, not Canyon

David, as I'm neither a lawyer nor based in the U.S., I'll happily accept your judgement but I do find it depressing. Here in the UK any computer-based evidence deemed central to a major industrial incident with multiple fatalities would be taken away for forensic analysis. If this data exists (and I know there's been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about the extent and validity of it) then it will surely be deemed central to any investigation as to what went wrong in the hours and minutes leading up to the explosion - sort of like an aircraft's black box.

My background is in engineering safety and with 20 years experience I have a fair knowledge of the the stringent laws surrounding explosive atmospheres here in Europe but perhaps I'm being too idealistic in thinking everybody would see the situation as I see it (that there's no way anybody would risk shredding documents or corrupting data in a case involving fatalities).

My main point, I think, is that this is now a criminal case and the technical investigation will be on a par with a major aircraft accident (it would be here in Europe, I mean).

Your own NTSB reports, imho, set a standard for investigative excellence.

I agree that service companies often do send their data real time - sat bandwidth permitting. But the equipment vendors do not. E-Drill, for example, is there mainly to remotely service the NOV drilling equipment - easier and more practical than putting a man on chopper to go out and fix it, as well as to provide an audit trail for software changes. E-Drill data will not tell the whole story by itself. There is not one lost single set of "incriminating" data, rather a collection of various systems' data that needs to be retrieved from the onshore servers and from locations beneath the GOM. The CCTV tapes, if retrieved, will add much useful information too.

Hi Rockman:

You mentioned earlier about a well developing pressure near enough to formation fracture that it was killed and cemented. I'm willing to bet that the driller had a lot of data to support that decision. Must have been a very interesting post mortem review meeting afterwards.

And, on that note - how much time would the driller have to make that decision? I know "it depends" (of course) and I betcha he'd have to have the approval of the company man and hopefully the back office. But if it's going south real fast better to lose $50M in a hole and try again than +$150M rig and lives. Would make for an "interesting" meeting.

Among other things I've designed, I know data telecommunication systems and there is no excuse for not collecting real-time data from 50 miles offshore with a 200' high rig. Data should have gone onto an onshore server _as_it_happened_. Stupid to do anything else. Perhaps since this DWH hole was considered drilled/cemented, and they were pulling out, the data stream was shut down. Maybe another change to consider - data flow continues until the riser is actually detached and the rig under way.

RP -- Actually in the situation I described it's not a quick resolution by any means. Think of painting yourself into a corner. Pretty much all you can do is just stand there and wonder how you got here. Couldn't drill ahead but couldn't pull out of the hole to run csg. They might have sat there for a couple of days trying different fixes that didn't work. Drillers don't make that sort of decisions (cmting)anyway. That would have ultimately come out of the home office. They eventually learned the best way to drill at times is to be lower on the structure where they wouldn't encounter such a thick hydrocarbon column.

(This is in response to a comment by greenfloyd above. Somehow I numged the comment system and it appears here as an orphan.)

The first poster of this story said it was a rumor going around in New Orleans, and he couldn't vouch for any facts.

It turns out that it was a Schlumberger team on the rig for a cement log. They were told their services weren't needed and returned on a regularly scheduled BP flight at 11 AM. I believe this info is on a Schlumberger site.

So at least the flight data is incorrect. Some of the rest may have happened, and neither company wants to volunteer the information. It could also be someone altering the story to make it more dramatic. Either way, the truth could come out in a deposition.

I just finished watching Mark Hafle, BP senior drilling engineer that designed this well, get grilled on C-Span. The Halliburton representative made the point that the Schlumberger unit for the casing bond log was on the rig but got sent off. Mark didn't seem to know about that. Didn't seem to know about a lot of things. Finally he just stopped answering questions.

Turns out that the the original drilling plan had only six strings of casing and they had to use a couple more to get to TD. On the same day they were applying for a license change for the 9 7/8" liner, they were getting changes for the 7" production string, and then came back later to say it was tapered to 9 7/8". I think the reason they didn't run the 9 7/8" intermediate string to the wellhead was because they wanted the extra room for the production casing. So they were planning on producing this from the start yet I hear some say that it was only for exploration.

The 9 7/8" has to be run all the way to the wellhead because the 13 5/8" has a burst of 8 K psi meaning it can't be shutin in event of blowout or hurricane disconnect. The relief well should definitely have this string to the wellhead because it is going to be drilling into this reservoir pressure in a few weeks and they are using the same 9 7/8 liner hanger that made the blowing well unable to shut in even if the BOPs had worked. And in hindsight lucky they didn't shear and shutoff or there would be a crater down there. Nobody at the hearing asked Mark about this.

Interesting thought I had about this today: did the worst-case risk curve for oil just cross that for nuclear?

This disaster has really changed my view of oil's environmental cost. In the past I saw it as more of a constant thing... you have the manageable level of damage done by drilling, and then you have the emissions from using the stuff as fuel. Nuclear on the other hand could, if used without a high level of respect for its hazards, lead to big game-changing accidents like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

The deepwater horizon leak seems to change that equation. I think this disaster already looks worse (at least from an ecosystem damage point of view) than the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, which was the worst nuclear incident in U.S. history. If the worst-case projections are correct and it ends up taking months and months to stop this thing, it could actually approach Chernobyl scales of damage. So it would appear, at least with deepwater drilling, that it's possible to have a petro-Chernobyl.

Meanwhile, nuclear has gotten safer. Look into current modern designs like CANDU or even modern conventional plants and their safety systems. Then there's stuff further down the line like LFTR that's potentially even safer than those.

So did the risk curves just cross?

I very strongly doubt that.
A nuclear accident similar to Chernobyl would cause, among other things:
- Immediate radioactive poisoning resulting in sickness and/or death of potentially large number of people in the direct vicinity
- Increase in various deadly diseases later on (in particular cancers as well as birth defects etc).
- Large territory on land becomes contaminated and unusable for a *very* long time (many generations).

The oil spill, as bad as it is, has not caused any of these things. Other than people directly killed by the blow out, there is no "collateral damage", no one is forced to evacuate because of radiation and no one will become sick except if they pick up and ingest some oil from the water surface.

People that say "nuclear is safer" simply haven't been paying attention. The standards of oversight and maintenance on US (and foreign) nuclear facilities are hardly better than those in the oil industry (especially considering potential for much more harm), and energy companies routinely get away with various violations. That Chernobyl hasn't repeated itself yet is just that. Remember, offshore oil production was claimed to be exceedingly safe less than 2 months ago.

Nuclear may be something people are forced to adopt as oil becomes more scarce and expensive but don't expect it to be safer. In fact, expect it to cause a lot more damage in the long run.

Just wait. Those words might be eaten; best with a little oil and vinegar.

Debating which is less bad is ridiculous anyway. The military-industrial complex is sitting on "free-energy" over unity tech. Pay no attention to the man behind the green curtain.

Chernobyl was a Soviet design cockup of the first water; the RMBK-4 reactors had no containment structures unlike every power-generating reactor ever licenced in the West, the design had a positive-void coefficient which meant that it would runaway if it lost coolant and the control rods didn't engage, it had a graphite moderator which caught fire... The RMBK-4s were based on older reactor designs meant to produce plutonium Pu-239 for nuclear warheads, not as bottom-up power generating systems. Literally, what happened at Chernobyl couldn't happen in a modern Western nuclear power plant even if the operators tried to cause it to happen.

Environmentally the area around the Chernobyl reactor complex is now a wildlife sanctuary as plants and animals with a short natural lifespan aren't affected by the persistent low levels of radiation the way sealife and birds are being directly impacted by the oil from the Deepwater Horrizon blowout. As far as bodycounts go the oil industry is way ahead of the nuclear business but I admit I've never seen an analysis of the actual deaths per gigajoule produced for both industries.

I agree... just saying that Chernobyl gives us an example of pretty much the worst possible thing that a nuclear plant could do, and that if this well gushes for the rest of the year the environmental damage could exceed that.

I think that Ixtoc (a very similar event), Exxon Valdez, and this all exceed Three Mile Island in damage.

I don't know about deaths/gigawatt for nuclear vs. oil, but I'd definitely wager that nuclear is far safer than coal. Here's a decent article with some other stats: 10 green arguments for nuclear power.

Of course, wind and solar are safer still... but nuclear remains the only non-fossil-fuel based energy source to have ever made a double-digit dent in fossil fuel use in the marketplace. (Well... non-carbon-fossil-fuel... technically fissile material is fossil fuel from ancient supernovas.)

Why is power that is generated in an unreliable manner considered safer? If a user is relying upon that power for for the completion of a critical proccess and the wind stops, how is that safe? Or wind stops, power out, food thaws and spoils, power on, food refreezes, you eat it and die. That is safe?

That's why you have a grid. You tie lots of sources of power from lots of regions together and load balance. You can also have natural gas turbine peakers that can start up very quickly and fill in gaps in production.

The grid ties you mention will require the investment of lots of money (in the US it could be in the order of tens of billions of dollars, maybe hundreds) and that cost is not usually factored into the sticker price of supplying reliable wind and solar power. The proposed supergrids don't work unless they're really big -- in Europe that means on an international scale since low-wind weather conditions can cover areas of millions of square kilometres at a time meaning no wind power generation at all. Germany, for example, with several GW of installed wind power has been in the situation where virtually none of its electricity consumption was being supplied by the wind sector for over ten days at a time due to a large static high-pressure weather cell. They had to burn a lot of expensive NG and buy in electricity from other countries via tie lines to cover the gap.

The gas turbine peaking stations you mention cost money to build and run, again something not factored into the wind/solar pricetag. They also add CO2 to the atmosphere since they're burning fossil carbon and that's not a good thing.

If we stop burning fossil carbon it will mean we will need a lot more electricity than we generate now to replace the carbon fuel energy sources we use today for transport, heating, industry etc. The US alone generates and consumes about 1.1TeraWatts (a TeraWatt is 1 million MegaWatts) of electricity today. To replace oil and coal and NG in the US would require at least another TW of generating capacity, maybe more. Wind and solar aren't going to cut it, hydro is tapped out pretty much everywhere on the planet. Fusion power is not ready, may not be for another twenty years or so. The alternative to freezing to death in the dark is to burn fossil carbon or go fission nuclear in a big way. We want to stop burning fossil carbon and that leaves nuclear.

Shorter Augustus: "I don't understand it, therefore it must be impossible."

Very short Augustus: paid blogger.

Analysis: varies from unbelievable stupidity to pretty sharp debate.

Denounces alternative energy on silly grounds that wind would go off, despite heavy coverage in the media of new grid costs, hot sulfur batteries, even in the NYTimes.

Pass her by.

Solar will never work. It gets dark at night!

But there's never a shortage of hot air..

One simple answer - pumped storage (and HV DC transmission).


Pumped storage could have its own safety risks:

Hydro has double digit in quite a few nations (80% Brazil, even 10% in France, and nuke would work far less well w/o French & Swiss hydro). Wind is double digit in Denmark and Spain. And will be double digit in the USA (Texas first).


I think that Ixtoc (a very similar event), Exxon Valdez, and this all exceed Three Mile Island in damage.

The damage in TMI was confined to the reactors, and the huge PR blackeye that the nuclear industry can't wipe off. There was some psychological distress in the surrounding communities. Direct environment damage from TMI was minimal. Indirect damage, via coal being substituted for nuclear probably exceeds all three of the oil spills in question.

Here's the WHO analysis of the actual casualties from Chernobyl:

Quote: "As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004."

Of course, TMI had zero casualties.

This one blowout had 11.

Seeing as how US light water nuclear power reactors aren't anywhere near as unsafe as the Chernobyl carbon block reactor, and that the Soviet engineers deliberately shut off several safety features during their test that created the meltdown, I'd have to say that the chance for a "Chernobyl-scale" meltdown in the US is vanishingly small, if at all possible in the first place.

It is hard to understand how this thread got hijacked onto nuclear power, but any notion of the safety of nuclear power is absurd. When you review near-miss accidents such as Three Mile Island (and don't forget Browns Ferry in 1975) you find the details reveal a situation far worse than what is commonly understood.

When we replace one unreliable and unsafe nuclear design by a newer and untested one, what do we get? An unsafe, unknown nuclear reactor with new and unexpected modes of failure.

We are at the limits of growth. Period. The continued pursuit of increasing energy gives us a smorgasbord of disasters, but no safe options. We give up our addiction to energy or we (gradually, perhaps) die.

It is not just the era of cheap energy that is over. The era of "safe" energy is over as well.

So it comes down to this: Who and what are you intending to kill?

Or are you ready to go clean and sober?

Really a tiny fraction have been killed, probably most by coal. I fully suspect we would and will accept a future where a significant fraction of deaths is from the production, usage, or pollution of energy sources.

It'll be even easier if you can get most of the deaths to be some poor sucker on the other side of the world.

We MAY kill both "who and what" trying to satisfy our energy appetite, which is far greater than our needs.

I will even say that we probably will kill both "who and what".

But if we don't keep on trucking bau in the short to medium term , it is a foregone conclusion that the "who" that will get killed consists of a few billion humans;and the what consists of large swathes of the biosphere.

We are on a runaway train going down a long steep mountian;any attempt to stop it abruptly will certainly cause it to jump the tracks.If we are lucky, we might just ride it out

"Dxxxxd if we do;dxxxxd if we don't" is probably a good summary of our situation.

If we are lucky we can avoid FIGHTING WWIII over the last of the oil ,water, and farmland.

Didn't mean to highjack the thread into that subject exactly, but the notion of the relative risks of different energy sources did come to mind.

But I do have to say... if you're right, then the future is quite dystopian. Prepare for the death of at least a few billion people and a return to medieval social structures and medieval wealth distributions... but with some remnants of high technology floating around. As industry collapses, so too will science and any sort of rational worldview. So my guess would be that it would look something like a cross between 1984, Mad Max, and Jesus Camp.

I'd personally take a dose of radiation over that future.

Good points. What about regulation, though. Shouldn't off-shore drilling be subjected to regulations equivalent to those applicable to nuclear power plants?

Both have the potential for runaway catastrophic events that can cause almost unimaginable damage, death and destruction. Whole economies and ways of life destroyed. For nuclear power plants, it's a melt-down. For oil, it's a failed BOP 5,000 feet under water gushing 35,000 b/day.

Big oil seems to have a much easier time of things when it comes to regulations than the nuclear power industry. 10 minute waivers, and such. Few inspections. A corrupt coziness between regulators and producers.

What are the requirements for nuke plant to avoid a melt-down and how easy is it to get waivers for them?

Regulations are the only things that stand between us and disaster with such highly risky activities. Without them, the motivation of profit and the weaknesses of human beings always lead to disaster. We saw that play out with the deregulation of wall street, with many of us suffering for it now, after being assured it was totally safe when the depression-era laws were changed. And we're seeing it now with lax regulation/enforcement of off-shore drilling.

We might see the worst case scenario for oil. An increasing number of offshore sites are being developed in the Persian Gulf, and those have (if I'm not mistaken) a lot more oil underground. Want to see the Persian Gulf get transformed into the Dead Sea?

The "Worst Case Risk Curves" are definately converging with the Macondo blowout.

A few more worse case possibilities with the GOM disaster
i. Corexit is highly toxic (a neurotoxin) and is banned in Britain.How many years will it take to get it out of the food chain in the GOM.And how many long term human medical problems will occur.
ii.It took 5 attempts for the relief wells to intercept the blowout well in West Australia last year. Oil could be spewing from Macondo for many more months yet.
iii.Heavy oil contamination could spread far inland up bayous & marshes causing major health problems for residents.
iv. Environmental effects are already catastrophic. This blowout is killing all life in the GOM & its coastline.Photographs of coated animals & birds are sickening. Months more of this will cause extinctions and everlasting loss of biodiversity.
v. A multibillion dollar and important regional food source is now under a very long term toxic cloud from the oil. Food from this area may be unedible for years to come. Even without the Corexit problem.
vi. The ocean currents & Loop Current could spread this oil way up the east coast. Every day of continued flow increases this possibility.

This is a Game Changing disaster.

Corexit is highly toxic (a neurotoxin) and is banned in Britain.

For the record: Corexit is banned for use in Britain only on rocky shores. It can still be used "away from rocky shorelines under appropriate conditions."

I would like to see documentation or link to an primary source verifying this neurotoxin claim.

There isn't anything listed on the Nalco MSDS for Corexit 7500 that would be expected to be a neurotoxin.

There was a earlier Corexit product that has 2-butoxyethanol in it - which some people claim is a neurotoxin (not sure if I agree but that's a different issue). That product is not being used.

Corexit 7500 though has no 2-butoxyethanol in it.

There is a major amount of incorrect info regarding this dispersant going around on the net. Yesterday there was someone here claiming that it's an endocrine disruptor. Again there is nothing in it that could be expected to be such, and nobody has been able to come up with a reference to verify that point.


There are many different chemical versions of the dispersant "Corexit".

BP is using Corexit 9500 & 9527A. Both contain 2 butoxyethanol. About 1 mill gallons so far.

Maybe they are using other versions but I don't know.

I cannot find reference to Corexit 7500 that you mentioned

Toxicology to 2 butoxyethanol is available
and it doesn't sound nice.

2-Butoxyethanol has long been known to be toxic, with early studies indicating that a single seven-hour exposure to 700 ppm was lethal to laboratory animals (Werner, Mitchell, Miller, and von Oettingen 1943a, as cited in ACGIH 1986/Ex. 1-3, p. 71). Exposures near the lethal level caused systemic toxicity in the form of hemoglobinuria and lung, kidney, and liver changes. Carpenter, Pozzani, Weil, and associates (1956/Ex. 1-303) reported hemolytic anemia and increased fragility of the red blood cells in rats repeatedly exposed to 2-butoxyethanol at 320 ppm for five weeks. However, repeated exposure for 12 weeks at 400 ppm was only slightly injurious to dogs (Werner, Mitchell, Miller, and von Oettingen 1943b, as cited in ACGIH 1986/Ex. 1-3, p. 71).

OSHA concludes that the former PEL of 50 ppm was insufficiently protective against the risk of 2-butoxyethanol's irritant, hematological, and other potential systemic effects, which constitute material health impairments.

Like you I could find no easy links to Corexit being a neurotoxin.

For a detailed toxicity report go to

Interestingly, there is a lot of information classed here as "not available" or "not listed" or just listed with a "?". So no one knows the real effects of chronic 2 butoxyethanol exposure.

That's comforting eh!

BP may have killed the food industry of the gulf but there is one growth industry they have generated and that will be the long term study of the efffects of Corexit on an entire ecosystem including at risk humans.

"I think this disaster already looks worse (at least from an ecosystem damage point of view) than the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster"

Let's see. TMI killed no one. The oil well killed 11.

TMI hurt no one. I'm not sure how many were hurt, but not killed by the explosion, but their are an increasing number of people made sick from oil spill fumes. I'm leaving out mental stress, as that is hard to quantify.

TMI did no environmental damage. The oil well has trashed fishing in 1/3 of the GOM, and it's not done yet. Time to recovery could be 10 -20 years, based on the Valdez oil spill.

That curve certainly crossed.

Now Chernobyl is a different matter. We'll have to wait and see how the natural cleanup of the Gulf compares to the recovery of Chernobyl. The ecological damage to Chernobyl was much less than anticipated, because most animals don't live long enough to get cancer.

On that topic, I wonder if anyone is planning to leave some part of the contaminated barrier island alone to use as a control to see how that fairs compared to the human cleaned areas.

Valdez was in a lot different climate, and an area without previous oil exposure.

It would be a lot more apropos to estimate recovery based on IXTOC-1.

I live in SE PA (should a Major Event happen at TMI or Peach Bottom I am presumably "in the drift" along with about 6 million others) and I can assure you that TMI killed a lot of pets and livestock and birds and that there is a good deal of speculation that humans were exposed to radiation levels that caused illness and presumably premature death. This is the second time in a few days I've been on here refuting the notion that TMI didn't hurt anyone.

I suggest following this link: among others for some detail. I don't believe that all of these people are nutso conspiracy theorists, beginning with the former Navy nuke worker Randall Thompson. Your mileage may vary.

I appreciated that link and read it the other day - I live a bit to the east. I found it believable. Regardless of where you live, your government lies to you, and they knew how to do that in 1979 too.

Howdy neighbor! I live in South Philly.

One of my friends, who I miss - moved down to TX for work - gave me this paperback sci-fi book from 20+ yrs ago called "In the Drift" which is about a big meltdown at TMI which results in this region becoming like the forbidden zones in Judge Dredd. Philadelphia ends up having these near tribal groups develop based in... are you sitting down - the Mummers' clubs!

Having lived in S Philly for about 15 yrs I have to say socially this is a very accurate depiction of the social structure likely to develop if the government evaporated. Not so sure how accurate the science in the book is. Best part: it's apparently NOT intended as comedy.

The problem I have with this article is that it is basically asking you to accept the work of an individual reporter with no particular technical background, and the work of a technician who while he has practical experience does not have any higher level training over an extensive peer reviewed literature written and validated over a period of many years and the work of several congressional investigations and a Presidential Commission.

Now you can make the statement that your government lies to its citizens. Well yes that has certainly happened in the past.

But this is a lot broader. It would entail not only corrupt behavior of the government but a conspiracy that involves the entire scientific community in this field plus an amazing lack of a single whistle blower willing to reveal this "conspiracy".

If I believed this was happening I'd be sure to get out of the United States as fast as possible.

Again I'll point out that the reporter merely compiled reports from people who do have a science background.

"CHAPEL HILL -- Exposure to high doses of radiation shortly after the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island may have increased cancer among Pennsylvanians downwind of the plant, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say.

Dr. Steven Wing, associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC-CH School of Public Health, led a study of cancer cases within 10 miles of the facility from 1975 to 1985. He and colleagues conclude that following the March 28, 1979 accident, lung cancer and leukemia rates were two to 10 times higher downwind of the Three Mile Island reactor than upwind. ...

"I would be the first to say that our study doesn't prove by itself that there were high-level radiation exposures, but it is part of a body of evidence that is consistent with high exposures," Wing said. "The cancer findings, along with studies of animals, plants and chromosomal damage in Three Mile Island area residents, all point to much higher radiation levels than were previously reported. If you say that there was no high radiation, then you are left with higher cancer rates downwind of the plume that are otherwise unexplainable.""


From the linked article:

"Exposure to high doses of radiation shortly after the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island may have increased cancer among Pennsylvanians downwind of the plant, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say"

That appears to be a factual claim by the reporter. People were exposed to high doses of radiation after TMI and it may have increased cancer among them, according to scientists.

But in the same article, written by a reporter who is "merely compiling reports from people who do have a science background," there follows an inconsistent statement from one of the researchers:

"I would be the first to say our study doesn't prove by itself that there were high-level radiation exposures, but it is part of a body of evidence that is consistent with high exposures."

In addition, there's the following statement from the article:

"The new study involved re-analyzing data from a 1990 report that concluded the nation's worst civilian nuclear accident was not responsible for slightly increased cancer rates near the plant because radiation exposures were too low."

So: the new study was not actually a new study, but just a re-hashing of data from an old study, and in the process of re-hashing the old data the "new" study drew a completely different conclusion from that of the original researchers. (That cancer rates were consistent with exposure to high levels of radiation.)

That's well and good, but the problem is: if radiation exposures in the TMI accident were actually high, then no one expects that cancer rates 10 years down the line would be only slightly increased.

Long term effects of high dose ionising radiation exposure have been very well documented among survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among workers in uranium mines, among people exposed to fallout from Chernobyl, and among people who have undergone high dose radiation therapy for cancer and other conditions. In these groups cancer rates are significantly increased in the long term.

For what it's worth I recall that several studies were done of cancer rates in people who lived in the neighbourhood of TMI at the time of the accident. To name some: there was one by the NRC, one by the DOE, and one by the Department of Health of of Pennsylvania.

And there were independent studies by various universities, including one by Columbia I remember, that did find an increase in lung cancer, in an area they defined as down-wind of the plant, relative to an area that was upwind of the plant in the days after the accident, of course to the extent that they could manage to determine the wind direction at the time. So by no means are all of those studies subject to the criticism that the authors were favourable to the nuclear industry.

It seems to be the Columbia study that's in question in this article, since that's the one that was re-analyzed by Dr. Wing et al. and I think it's worth noting that the conclusion of that study was that reported radiation exposures upwind and downwind were insufficient to account for the increase in lung cancer risk.

In other words, the Columbia researchers concluded that there could well be other reasons than radiation release from TMI for the down-wind, up-wind difference in lung cancer that they found: for example, the percentage of smokers versus non-smokers living in the different neighbourhoods upwind and downwind.

You've glossed over the words "by itself", and neglected to quote the following sentence that the epidemiology study ,in combination with other evidence led Dr. Wing to conclude that there was higher radiation exposure.

You've focused on lung cancer and neglected to mention the reported increase in leukemia downwind. What do you think killed the pets and livestock, made people's hair fall out, shrunk a woman's kidney..? The 'anecdotal' stories people have are consistent with radiation poisoning, and have been since 1979.

You also seem to be ignoring that a lot of the government epidemiology studies were written on the assumption that less radiation was released than Thompson and others claim was reported.

Agree with you, quizmasterchris. The level of coverup and industry propaganda on the TMI disaster is as bad as that on the events of 9/11. Harvey Wasserman has written a good article about it. Go to his website, click on blog-o-topia and search the archives for "YOU Are Now Paying for the NEXT 3 Mile Island".

I've been seriously considering the same tradeoffs.

The Chernobyl accident will need hundreds of years. Hundreds of years more than an absolute worse case total blowout in the GOM. Plus we still haven't decided what to do with the radioactive spent fuel, the pools keep growing and growing. Everyone has a bad case of NIMBY. And we just keep accumulating the nasty stuff.

It's gotta be wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and somethings new if we can find them.

Well, it's possible to recycle nuclear fuel. Thorium has fewer downsides than uranium too... we probably would never have gone down the uranium fuel road if it weren't for the "need" to make large quantities of weapons grade material.

If I ever start a speedmetal band we might have to call ourselves "Petro-Chernobyl." Where to put the umlauts?

Where to put the umlauts?

Don't you wear those on your feet?

The whole discussion here about the risks of nuclear power ignores the biggest risk factor:

It's not the power plants, it's the nuclear waste. No one on earth has the slightest idea how to deal with this stuff permanently.

Here in Germany we have the perfect example for this: "Asse 2". It's an old salt mine which was choosen to "explore" the suitability of salt mines as permanent repositories for nuclear waste. From the beginning there where voices of concern that water could get in the repository. The official answer was that there is "very little risk" for this. Sound familiar? Of course, now there is water getting into the mine and the whole radioactive sh*t threatens to contaminate our ground water.

The waste must now be cleared out of the mine. But this is very difficult, because they just dumped the (now rusted, broken and leaking) waste barrels into the mine. (Picture) It will cost at least 2 billion Euros, some people estimate 4-6 billion Euros. What did our parliament do? When the real situation of the mine was starting to leak out to the public, they quickly made a new law, limiting the liabilities of the operating companies. (Sound familiar again? Why should our politicans be less corrupt than yours?) So the taxpayer gets the bill.

When someone tells you sh*t about how cheap and safe nuclear power is, then ask him how safe and cheap his concept for dealing with the nuclear waste is.

So, IMO the risk curves did not cross. They don't even come close. Lets face it, the GOM spill is a real disaster, but compared to the situation in Africa and Russia, it's just "oil business as usual". (Well, we don't really want to know about the Russian "nuclear waste business as usual". What do you in the US do with your nuclear waste?)

BTW, here in Germany, we are also "playing creatively" with BP-ads:


Big text: "Just be glad that we don't build nuclear power plants!"
Small text: "That little oil in the gulf"

From open thread 1:
Dimitry on June 6, 2010 - 4:48pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

What are you talking about?

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

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

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

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

I'll take a last shot at what explaining what I am talking about:
The principle of operation of your rigid full flow 'production' connection couples the full flow energy of the blowout to a location 5000 ft above. But as you yourself concede, a means to relieve this flow must be provided for a variety of reasons. Your solution: Provide a 'dump' zone at some location under the sea but much closer to the surface.

In comparison to your scheme, already in place is every element of your proposition, only in different locations. Already existing, and superior to your scheme, is the ability to modulate the flow from zero to the maximum achievable.

Small details like "Pop the H-4 head with the hydraulics." and "Or cut the flange bolts." or "throw a switch", to you, I guess are small potatoes.

No disrespect, but I think you are too invested in what is but a crude concept that can't overcome the challenges of safety, mechanical, physical, and logistical considerations, even to a first approximation. Better than me, at least you had a proposal.

I am fully supportive of your idea. I also like the idea of a diverter located 3-400 ft below the MSL. At this point could be a bouyancy structure to keep the riser in tension and a disconnect device to allow the unit to move off in the event of a hurricane (or drive off). BP were proposing a similar idea on one of thier technical proposals last week. Hence I think they are working on that. I just do not know if they plan to release the H4 (is it an H4 or a collet? do you know) connector or if they plan to tie into put a cap on top. I would think given the rather less than ideal seal they have now, the idea to unlatch would be very attractive.

nice Euan.. a very useful explanation even for an engineer like me :-)

For deepwater reservoirs to become 'over pressured', presumably this means that the flow paths from the source rocks to the reservoir have been closed over time, after the migration occurred, but before some additional burial occured to provide that over pressure?

I guess that also means that the water drive is non-existant.. ie. once you start producing the fluids from the reservoir, the pressure will drop and there will be little/no support from aquifer water drive (unless water injection is added from the surface)? Is the over pressure usually enough to get decent recovery rates without water injection or are these considered poor reservoirs from an ultimate recovery point of view?

The fact that Macondo well is still flowing strong after a reasonably long time suggests that the reservoir characteristics aren't too bad.. decent permeability and good connection so that the well is 'seeing' a good fraction of the reservoir? In a poor quality, compartmentalised reservoir, presumably the well bore pressure and flow rate would have dropped a bit by now?

And if there is no aquifer support, then is it uncontrolled gas depletion drive only in Macondo at the moment? Will we get close to bubble point in the reservoir anytime soon.. would that slow the flow rate down?? These all seem like interesting questions but we probably don't the info to answer them?

I see you answered some related questions yesterday..

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

Just a guess Phil but assuming 40,000 bopd for 50 days and the reservoir has produced 2 million bo. There have been reports of 100 million bbls+ recoverable from this reservoir so it would difficult to characterize at this point as pressure depletion vs. water drive IMHO. Also I suspect many don't know the truly unique aspect of this blow out: it was a cased hole. Almost all blow outs happen while drilling in open hole. Had this been the case the well might have bridged over and killed itself by this point. It does happen sometimes. But with it cased it's hard to imagine that happening.

Vis a vis pressure as presented. First thanks for the graphs. Except that the X axis has no labels (therefore we don't know what "1" means, let alone "2" or "3" in psi terms, at least we have an idea of scale. But as I brought up in multiple previous posts days ago that were perhaps misunderstood, there is another element to psi, which is aperture opening. Therefore, while they were using the diamond band saw, the small hole coupled with the existing back pressure from the bent riser added up to psi that had to be in the 10K range going out of that little slit.

Since people seem to have a hard time understanding this concept I'll present this a different way.

Which do you think puts more psi pressure on the ground? An elephant who weighs 3 tons or a 100 pound woman wearing stiletto high heels?

The answer of course is the sexy woman in heels. In fact we did this exact equation in my chemistry class WAY back in high school. We wondered why the teacher kept giggling every time popping sounds happened outside the classroom. Coupled with nitrogen triiodide and some equations we found out his prank. Not to worry, he used minuscule amounts painted with a tiny paintbrush on alternating squares of linoleum.

So now we have to revisit the pressure differential equations presented with the constriction sources (riser, drill pipe, top hat, BOP, manifold, etc.), add in some hairy computational fluid dynamics equations and we're starting to see the complexity of the problem. A lot of the Rube Goldberg solutions indicate a thorough ignorance of the pressures we're facing here. Even the petroleum geophysicists seem to be ignoring some elements of the problem for reasons of their own.

Phil, These deep GOM reservoirs tend to have fabulous reservoir quality. They are deep water sedimentary systems- turbidites - derived from sediment flowing down the Mississippi. The sediments are actually very young and have reached such depths owing to very high sedimentation rates. Rapid burial means that diagenesis (sub-surface chemical reactions of minerals and water) has not had time to cement and degrade the reservoir. I actually sampled all the Thunderhorse et al cores many years ago in Houston for geochemical analysis.

The aquifer drive from over pressure depends on the size of the over - pressure cell - its probably huge and will not diminish quickly.

Right - the reservoir is probably not very compartmentalised and aquifer drive and gas cap expansion will likely maintain pressure in oil for a good while yet.

For rookies - if the pressure in the reservoir drops below bubble point then gas comes out of solution in the reservoir, filling the pore space with gas, reducing the relative permeability for oil - and reduces the oil flow rate. That Mexican blow out kept blowing for 18 months or so, never ran out of steam.

Furthermore, we only have one well here depleting the reservoir - fluids will move in sub-surface to fill the void.

thanks Euan.. interesting and makes sense, particularly that over-pressure is over a large area so really very good aquifer drive.

i've always said that if i had my time again, i'd seriously look at geology as a degree/career. subsurface is fascinating stuff.

I think it is a matter of cap entry pressures in the top seal. I tend to tell people there are no such things as perfect seals, but that there is likely very low flow out, relative to the burial pressures, AND the possibility that there is still migration into some of these reservoirs.


With respect to the well that lost 60,000 bbls of OBM I don't know much more details. I was just a day rate logging dog and just caught the last run. Had no idea what was going on out there until I got off the chopper. Normally I'll debrief the company man and other hands when i get on a job like this. But no one would talk to me about what had been happening. Just a guess but I suspect they tied to squeeze the shoe (pump more cmt in) a number of times and that failed. I do know they were drilling into the top of a very large structural closure that could have contained a very tall NG column. That's why I said they were lucky it was a dry hole. From what I know now about DW drilling I'm certain the well would have blown out had they found something.

RM -- appreciate it

I had an idea there would've been some activity to try on squeeze the shoe....was wondering how many times they tried to squeeze the shoe before giving up

LOL know things are bad when you crunch 22,000' of rock and thank your lucky stars for a dry hole .....

ali - The most unreal situation: I was on call for 6 weeks once while an operator sqzd the same shoe 23 TIMES!!! Broke at 13.5 ppg every time except the last...broke at 13.3 ppg. They were detemined to get a 14.2 ppg test. Don't ask me why. But 6 weeks at half pay was fine for me. But my back-to-back was pissed: he needed that full paycheck.

ali - The most unreal situation: I was on call for 6 weeks once while an operator sqzd the same shoe 23 TIMES!!! Broke at 13.5 ppg every time except the last...broke at 13.3 ppg. They were detemined to get a 14.2 ppg test. Don't ask me why. But 6 weeks at half pay was fine for me. But my back-to-back was pissed: he needed that full paycheck.

holy smokes......means that hole went to hell in a hand-basket long before you even got there...i reckon somebody's career back in the office was linked closely with this hole :)

I can imagine you wouldn't want to take names here ....but if i were to pull a name out of my back end for the operator on this well..... i would look across the Atlantic ..LOL

I think you just cued up Pomp and Circumstance March #1, eh?

ali -- they were caught in an unwinable situation. They had so fractured the area around the wellbore they needed to sidetrack. But they would have had to s/t far enough away they needed a new well permit. But the drilling contract only allowed that permit number be drilled. If they tried to drill a new pemit number they had to release the rig. Couldn't drill where they were and couldn't s/t. They were only at 8,400'. A $48 million J&A. And that was 5 or 6 years ago.

sounds like a real catch-22 ...

would love to have been able to see the open hole logs on this one...appreciate the insight

I wonder about the possibility of stopping the spill with a directed-energy device.

The military has such weapons in its active arsenal right now.

2006 DOD Directed Energy Task-force memo

Navy's drone death ray takes out targets

A book is underway about this and your links will help the bibliography.

Wondering about this:

What DO they use it for, and could they employ it in this instance?

Million apologies, THIS is the correct link, disregard other (can blame the cat who is sleeping next to my mouse, kicking it aside...)

That is the same link/site.

Did you mean this:
If so, why? How would this help?

Not sure at all. Responded to the question above mine. Supposed to be very powerful technology capable of a lot of uses:

Suggesting that that HAARP is a directed-energy device is a bit of a stretch. Anyway, the problem area is 5000 ft below the Gulf of Mexico, not 60km above Alaska.
That YouTube item is a mashup from the lunatic fringe. Cue Twilight Zone theme ...


come on man?? Come back from 2525!

First off there is not a proven weapon yet. All of these are still in development. How are you going to get it to 5,000 ft belew the surface, power it up and aim it under water?

If that was even possible and it is not - then you would just get a big hole in around the well head or most likley just a lot of boiling water around the well head!

It is completely infeasible.


If they ask you to join the away team, don't wear the red shirt.b

That idea is right up there with using a nuke.

Did you consider the geological conditions where this well is located? My understand is that it's mostly mucky sand for at least 500 - 1000 feet below the well head.

Even if you could get such a weapon to work 5000 feet under water, what would it accomplish except to make a bad situation even worse?

You are forgetting that the well extends 18,000 feet below seabed and that the "mud" layer is not even a 1/4 of this depth. What's an extra month for the relief wells to complete. Nobody's in a hurry...

Man, I can't help but try in my own unusual way to help stop this thing now but it

seems like from most everyone I hear is we're going to have to ride this one out

with the capture and store method. If there is to be any better way we need to

have full access to all the data available. What I would really like to see from

BP is a public access website with all the logs, drawings and specs for every inch

of that well and all the way up to what was the rig. For now I would be happy with

a live feed of their engineering team strategy sessions and a time lapse of the

idea boards. Knowing what they would like to do but can't because of some tool or

machine that needs to be invented would be helpful for those that have the ideas

or just think about things in a different way as to inspire the unseen concept.

One big thing that would be helpful is to organize some categories for the fixes


**Beach and Wetlands Clean Up**
fish and wildlife rescue
beach clean up
beach restore
wetlands cleanup
wetlands restore

**Mainland Protection Barriers**
earth barriers

**Open Ocean Collection**

**On Site Capture and Store*
sea floor pipelines
Lower marine baggers
Riser baggers
funnel baggers
tanker skimmers

**Top Cap and Seal**
Stack a BOP
Cap the BOP
Plug the BOP
Activate the BOP
Pinch the BOP
Replace the BOP
Bury the BOP

**Seal the Casing**
cap the casing
plug the casing
fill the casing
pinch the casing
just nuke the whole damned thing

**Relief Well**
relieve deep horizon and bottom seal
relieve and seal both

A BP funded Wiki website with one person to manage each category and coordinate

all the questions and answers and e-mailed response of answers and links with each

sub-category having sections for:

Specs and Engineering Requirements
Actions Reactions
Pros and Cons
Tools Available
Tools Needed
Services Available
Services Needed

Each category manager would have full access to the engineers actually working on

the problems and the data they are using so every possible method could be fully

explored and developed in parallel for possible use.

If there is any hope at all at getting this under control it is going to take a

little or a lot of all of those ideas in combination and sequence to work given

how bad it has gotten.

This sounds like an EXCELLENT idea! Tough to pull off in practice, I'm afraid.

Is this a poem? Very curious use of double line breaks, if it's not. The message window will automatically wrap long lines, no need to add breaks except between paragraphs.

I like your idea.
I can't say I blame BP for not having done it yet, they've had quite a lot to do as it is. I would like to know more about what they're doing with all the thousands of ideas submitted via dwhresponse website. Wonder how many people are employed to sift them. Maybe some of those fishermen who've been put out of work could be re-trained (at BP's expense) to operate your new website idea.

I came across this from (search yielded nothing on TOD, sorry if I missed it.

The writer obtained a copy of the almost-600-page BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico as of June, 2009, thanks to an insider.

Here's the link to the document:

Main points according to the writer:
1) In the worst case discharge scenario, an oil leak was expected to come ashore with highest probability in Plaquemines Parish within 30 days
2) Spokespersons were advised never to assure the public that an ecosystem would be back to normal after the worst case scenario, which we are now living through.
3) Corexit oil dispersant toxicity has not been tested on ecosystems, according to the Oil Spill Response Plan. (and talks about the zones where corexit is ok)


Would that insider be MMS? I ask because that document was added to on May 29th. Actually, a link to this document that is located on was added to The MMS page with a link to that document says it was last updated on May 13th.

#2 sounds reasonable.

#3 has an update in the article you linked to. In short:

2) Spokespersons were advised never to assure the public that an ecosystem would be back to normal after the worst case scenario ...

Tony Hayward during his BBC interview today with Andrew Marr

We're going to clean up the oil. We're going to remediate any environmental damage and we are going to return the Gulf Coast to the position it was in prior to this event. That's an absolute commitment ...

yes, that phrase

we are going to return the Gulf Coast to the position it was in prior to this event.

got my attention too. Hope someone casts it in stone ...

The DWH blowout that we're dealing with here is not a worse case. Worse case would have been a complete failure/bypass of the BOP or the wellhead conductor.

If BP captured 10,000 barrels yesterday, it's worth $710,000 @ $71. A triflingly small amount compared to the damages, but it isn't chump change especially when adding the avoidance costs of not capturing it.

When sold the US taxpayer will get a nice part of that off the top. Every Day. And normally Without cost.

I think we are about to get an answer as to whether the riser flange can be unbolted from the LMRP.

It appears to me that Viking Poseidon ROV 1 is trying to remove the bolt holding together two sections of the old, bent riser that's lying on the bottom using a large power socket wrench.

My guess is that they're practicing procedures for removing the cut end of the riser.

Anyone agree with me?

Can't get the socket on the bolt - a test of nerves.

Say, is one of the feeds from a camera looking at the end of the riser where the RIT was?

I don't know if it's the end of the riser where the RIT was, but I wonder if it might be somewhere along the length of the riser that was originally nearer to the surface because in a shot that showed several feet of the riser, it appeared to be "jacketed" with some material. I had read that they try for neutral buoyancy of the riser by installing more buoyant sections towards the top, so perhaps these sections are covered in a buoyant foam, except for a couple of feet near the flange.

That socket looks like a pretty tight fit. They probably want it that way because they don't want to round over the edges of the bolt under high torque. Therefore, even if they get the hex points inline, there's still the issue of aligning the axis, otherwise the socket might jam. And any small defect/damage on the head of the bold could cause problems with sliding the socket fully onto the bolt.

There's another possibility, in that it's pretty cold down there. Maybe the metals have different coefficients of expansion, and the socket is experiencing some "shrinkage" -- as we guys do in cold water :-) -- and the socket is now slightly too small for the bolt.

BTW, regarding the comment that it's cold down there and the socket may have shrunk a bit, I'm assuming that when the original riser and LMRP were lowered to join up with the BOP, they were assembled on the surface section by section, and so the riser sections were bolted to each other on the surface.

Is this a correct assumption?

There is the bent drill pipe at the bottom and the yellow tubing on the left - wonder what the interest is...

The bolt above looked like it was slightly damaged when they examined it. I wondered about clearance for the socket between the riser and the bolt - looks like it shouldn't be so hard but...

The bolt is getting some heat from the flow of oil as it goes by. Modest thermal expansion is quite possible vs. seawater (socket).


OOPS. this appears to be scrap left over on the bottom. Practice ?


I think this section of riser is one of the old, broken sections that's lying horizontally on the bottom, so there's no oil passing through it.

So the question is, are the bolt and socket made of the same metal, and how precise if the fit between bolt and socket supposed to be?

I'm editing this to address your own reply that you realized that this is an old segment.

Yeah, I think it's practice.

I think ISO 691 is the standard. It calls for 0.15 mm to 1.15 mm slack in sockets of 75 to 100 mm (three to four inches).

In response to another question in this subthread, yes, it's common to intermix metric and SAE socket usage in certain size. 19mm - 3/4" are essentially identical, I've used the SAE size on metric fasteners many times. Somewhere I have a Snapon IM240 socket with both 19mm and 3/4" on it.

Looking at the pictures, my first thought would be to use a spline socket, although those may not be available for this size bolt.

However, I think the preferred tool for unfastening this might be:

But then, use of a sledgehammer may not be in the ROV design repetoire. :o)

It is agonizing to watch the ROV operator attempt to seat the socket over the bolt head. No success yet. This seems to be the second try with a new socket that has had white marks painted at each angle face to line up with the bolt.

There was some brief talk early on about either unbolting or shearing off the riser stub flange, but that went away. Do you, or does anyone else know how much drill stem is inside the riser stub and if it has been partially sheared or compromised inside the BOP? It may be that if there is a drill stem stub in the riser stub it would be sticking up even if the flange was unbolted. Sure wish we had more verifiable facts about the status of things down there.

Oh, that's excruciating! I'm having to practically hold my arm down to keep from putting my hand through my monitor trying to reach in and help.

You should try doing it for a month. With rookie pilots. The only thing that keeps you sane is to surf the internet and to count your day rate.


THANK YOU. I've been obssessed with that effing bolt all day and have been waiting for one of you engineers to comment/explain and just logged on to TOD precisely to ask somebody to please explain it before I go padded cell.


I had just come back from the gym and saw this going on. Took a couple of minutes before I realized what I was seeing.

After a couple of hours of this I have to wonder if, just maybe if, the socket is one standard and the bolt another. Ever try a metric socket on a 58 Ford? If it is a proper socket for the bolt there should be enough 'slip' for it to fit on. Also have to wonder if there is enough clearance between the thick socket and the flange casting . . . or if the hydraulic drive body is hanging and preventing the socket from seating on the bolt.

Sure glad this is not a critical task that needs to be accomplished!

My guess is that it's the same tool they would use on the surface, or a diver might use underwater at a shallow well, and that the fit is designed to be tight. The robotic grip, though precise, just doesn't have the ability to wiggle the tool in fine enough arcs to make it work.

Maybe they need to consider the idea of making a special socket that's just a little deeper, that can self-align in the first 1/4 inch, and when fully engaged, partially cover the angled section of the bolt that's just below the head.

Sure glad this is not a critical task that needs to be accomplished!

Actually, I think it's a ruse. One of the ROVs engaged in this foldarol of taking apart the riser for no reason was pointed at the seafloor for 20 minutes watching it throb and spew out waves of black stuff. See my post upthread.

A ruse indeed, and such an obvious one, they've obviously found Judge Crater and are making hay out of it.

Looks as if they've been dancing on that bolt-head for over an hour, without getting the socket attached. Are they using a Metric socket on an SAE head? ;^)

Looks like they just backed off.

Try another joint now. Hope they have some luck here - surely that was maddening!

Why don't they use a ring spanner with a very long handle designed that the ROV can easily grasp and push/pull using its full motor power? At the real flange they would have gravity on their side for getting the ring to stay on. Well if it's from the topside anyway.
Do the bolts go into threads in the flange itself or are they held with nuts? Hope it's not a two spanner job.:(
Love the way the end of the the driver looks like it's wrapped in gaffer tape.

No, my apparently British friend, this is America. That right there is *duct* tape. It's like the Force in Star Wars: it has a dark side and a light side, it binds the universe together, and it's always used in times of desperation.

I just knew we would get to duct tape at some time during this ordeal!


At 3:45am Saturday, Herc 6 backed away from the stack, descended to the seafloor, and dropped its dispersant wand in the mud (and didn't shut it off, which seemed to concern the other ROV operators when the white plume later drifted up into their field of view). Herc 6 then showed the first views of the wellhead I have seen at the seafloor (what's the correct oilfield name - packoff? shoe? or just wellhead?). There's what looks to me a large void around the casing, I know the pics are small but they're 1:1 direct screen caps and completely unedited. I'd love it if someone with direct experience would give an opinion on what caused this, if it's not normal. None of the possible explanations I can come up with make any sense.




Interesting screen caps.

Not following this as closely as many here, but it kinda looks like what we might be seeing around the wellhead is a hydrate mound built up by the snow falling out of the plume with a pit near the wellhead resulting from high temperature of the flow melting the ice near the wellhead. Just a wild-a##ed guess.

Hydrates float.

Yeah, you right, but only by a little bit. I guess I was thinking of natural hydrate mounds, which must build up within the mud so they don't float away. Sorry, bein braindead today, thanks.

Diameter of the mound is smaller than the BOP structure above it. Hard to imagine any way it could be made of anything that came down from above.

Where did the stuff that came out of the void go? Nothing's piled up at the edge of the crater, as I'd expect if it was formed by wellhead/BOP flexing when the rig was still floating but out of control.

If it was scoured out by flow coming up around the outside of the pipe, why is it not leaking there now? Is there any way a leak like that would stop on its own? The only way I can see that would be possible is if it leaked during the top kill/junk shot attempts, and stopped when normal flow resumed.

It could be just how it looks when a smaller casing comes up through the initial very large drive pipe. Someone with deep water experience looking at these wells in normal conditions should be able to chime in.

I think they cleaned the mud away from the wellhead with a water jet early on to get a good look at it.

It is typical to have what appears to be a crater around the 36" from the volume of solids jetted and from the cuttings created in next hole section. The initial string run, in this case the 36" is jetted in. It is merely structural casing due to the uncompacted nature of the sediment on the seabed. The casing has quick-lok connectors which typically require only a 1/4 to energize and come equipped with an anti-rotation key to prevent accidental backout. You don't actually drill the casing in and rely on skin friction pressure of the formation to provide adequate strength to hold the casing in place while the next section of hole is drilled. There is typically a "soak" period following jetting operations. Once the skin generated can support the load of the casing the jet string is un-jayed from the running tool on top of the 36" and the next hole section is drilled with returns to the seabed. As long as there is not clear evidence of fluid flow, which there does not appear to be, then it appears structurally sound.

The socket operator is having one hell of a time lining up the socket to the bolt head. The markings on the socket should line up with the points on the bolt head... and he is off by a fraction of an inch in the cw direction. Bump the rotation of the socket!

"Bump the rotation of the socket!"
Agreed. Not much room to maneuver in there. Bump that sucker until it lines up!

Man, that is frustrating to watch.

By now, I would have embedded one of my tools in the far wall.

Looks like these guys have never operated an impact gun. Spin that sucker until it goes on!

Seriously though, it looks like there is a lip on the structure that the socket is hanging up on.

Either that or that is the wrong size socket. Is that US or Metric? :)

You see those markings on the outside of the socket? Those should line up with the points on the bolt head. He has tried everything but lining those up. CCW / CW to line it up and it should slip right into place.

Yeah, those look like someone with a paint marker did them. Good idea, but I think I'd rotate the socket till I had what looked like the best one to work with. I feel for the guy..must be maddening. All he needs is a hood latch to bump his head on.

"All he needs is a hood latch to bump his head on."

Oh man!! I wonder what the audio feed from this sounds like. My ears are burning already.

Right about now I believe that the "driver" is telling someone behind him, If your so damned good at it, here. you put it over the nut.

He has tried jogging it but in the wrong direction. He needs to jog it ccw and it should line up. If not then keep jogging ccw until it catches on the next point.

Its the wrong size !

Wow is this frustrating


That looks like it's gonna be a very tight fit if he gets it lined up. Hope there is a gap for the water to get out of the socket.

Too bad the wrench didn't have some kind of "judder" ability, where it could rotate a degree or two in one direction then back a couple of degrees in rapid succession under low torque. Might allow the socket to vibrate onto the bolt with a little pressure along the axis, once it was approximately lined-up.

Or too bad they didn't have two cameras at 90 degrees to each other, one with the current view, and the other in the vertical, above the bolt head. They could then align the socket on two axis.

You see they tried to tap it on with with the claw of the other ROV - no go, then they stirred up the mud. Boy, I feel for those guys - they are going to need some stress pills after this!

This is really where tactile feedback would be helpful. I can easily like up sockets in the dark by touch, but watching this makes me shudder.

Everyone who posts here "they should just unbolt that BOP flange and pop on a new one! I could do it in twenty minutes!" should watch this.

If this were a "normal well" and not an emergency situation where cost is not a consideration, what would the company man be thinking? Would he approach the problem differently, be at all concerned about this not working, or just sleeping in his bunk knowing that the contractor would get the job done expeditiously and send in a reasonable bill? With all the junk here about the terrible "company man", some people should look at this and consider that the cost is maybe $1,000 a minute for this attempt. Now, I know that the cost is not relevant in this situation, but eventually someone is paying the bill when it is a normal well. I expect that these ROV tapes are available for the regular ROV operations and the performance is evaluated. I'm not trying to be critical of the ROV operator in this case. I do believe that some of the criticism of the BP personel has been over the top.

Just to be clear, I don't think this circle-jerk bolt fiasco reflects poorly on anyone, either ROV driver, management, etc. It is an open-and-shut case of BAD TECH.

This goes to the point I made in an earlier thread: deepwater drilling should not be allowed until the companies doing it have made real contributions toward solving the problems we see so clearly in the BP spill. One example: spend a billion dollars or so designing an ROV that has more hand-eye coordination and tactile sense than a toddler wrapped in duct tape.

Also with properly designed and integrated tools that are easily handled and controlled by the ROV's. The necessary work must be able to be done by the ROV's "at depth" or we shouldnt be there doing it in the first place.

Agree. If your ROV is using a hydraulic wrench designed for humans hands, and you've tied the trigger down with string and are controlling the wrench via the hydraulic line, and your socket is held onto the wrench with duct tape, you get two points for clever jury-rigging in an emergency, but YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THIS.

BP has nothing to do with ROV's.....all Sub-sea work is being done by Oceaneering .....the ROV's , the techs ....all concerned are sub-contractors far as their relationship with BP goes

Duct Tape at -5,000 ft.

Who You Going to Call?

The operator seems to have lined it up several times. Next size up socket?

Let's try another nut.

It looks like they are trying to use a 10mm wrench on a 7/16" nut. Sheesh! :)

Some hot oil on the socket?

They must either be off one size, or they raised burrs when they torqued the bolts down during assembly. Whatever it is, you can bet the assembly procedures will be revised.

Is this the same style of driver they used to put it together?

To me it looks like the driver is holding the socket out just a little not letting it line up.
wrong size.....

move that socket a little.

I would of kicked something by now. omg what a job they have.

Now this is funny. Hoping the poor operators try the vise grips.

Just switched out tools - maybe this socket will latch!

Yes! Yes! Try the 1.7/8 W Whitworth. It is BP after all.

Looks as if the new one is a human wrench - the trigger's tied back. :^)

A little of BP/AMOCO history

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

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

In the aftermath of the explosion, a blame game erupted. BP was the biggest oil producer in America and the most successful operator in the Gulf of Mexico, and its reputation was at risk. The company was accused by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, of cutting the costs for safety and maintenance to increase profits. His response was rapid. Amoco's engineers and executives, the British executive told his fellow BP directors, were themselves responsible for negligence and "cultural misunderstanding." Former employees of Amoco, which was now part of BP, rejected any suggestion of their personal culpability.

BP-- all is well says CEO Sir John Brown, oops, got caught lying to a judge, yer outta here says the Board of Directors, valiantly trying to cover their butts.

[Wikipedia: On 6 January 2007, Browne won his first interim injunction against the allegations by his former homosexual lover Ashley Staines being published. He later disclosed being"terrified" that his sexuality would be revealed publicly. A week later it was announced that his retirement date had been brought forward to July 2007 and that he would be succeeded by Tony Hayward.(Courts ruled that he could not prevent Associated Newspapers from printing allegations about his romantic life and alleged misuse of company funds.}Lord Browne resigned from BP on 1 May 2007, and resigned as a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs on 10 May 2007.]

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

Once the RW is finished how difficult is it going to be to kill the well with no way to control the flow at the top?The wells that I have experiance with we had the benefit of a working BOP and choke manifold to control the pressure as we pumped in the heavy mud to keep formation fluid and gas from entering the bore hole.

Will they just try to overpower the oil an gas flow by pumping in mud at a very high rate?

You have to do what is called a dynamic kill. Yes, you basically overpower the oil flow. this is not dissimilar to killing an underground blowout - where you have one high pressure zone flowing into a low pressure zone. Some of the most expensive blowouts in history are underground blowouts. You have to pump a high density mud (higher than the mud weight required to control the reservoir) at a rate high enough that the mixture is sufficient to stop the flow. Fairly easy to calculate. The higher the mud weight the lower the required pump rate (and vice versa). Since this is an overpressured zone and a high flowrate it will take quite a lot of mud weight and a lot of pump horsepower. The advantage is they have quite a few vertical feet of hole to work with as compared to many underground blowouts.

The associated underground blowout control method is to pump a lost circulation material down the backside while pumping from the bottom to try and add backpressure where the flow is going into the theif zone. Obviously that will not be possible here. As you suggest, it would be nice to impose at least some backpressure during the kill operation.

The blowout in Australia was killed fairly quickly once they interesected. They burned the rig down in the process, but the well was killed quickly. But they had a low rate (less than 1000bpd) and the reservoir pressure was low.

At least there are some smart guys in the BP Houston office to figure all that out (I think??)

Thanks Bennachie,

I figured they would have to use heavier mud just because they will only have 13,000 ft of mud head + 5,000 ft of seawater head instead of the 18,000 ft of 14 lb mud that originally controled the well. I haven't calulated what that would be, but from what you discribe they will need even heavier mud than that.

You are exactly correct. This would be like trying to kill an underground blowout with the theif zone being at a pressure of 8.5 ppg (seawater density) at 5000 ft. The density would have to be around 16.1 ppg just to control the well statically assuming a 14ppg reservoir at 18000 ft. Therefore the kill mud density will have be somewhat higher than 16.1 ppg. Roughly speaking, 19.0 ppg is about the max with barite and water-based mud. Maybe when I have time I will calculate the rate and density required to kill this thing from the bottom. I have to make some assumptions about flowrate and oil/gas mixture density. It is a simple mass balance calculation. A very very rough calc says you would need to pump around 60 bpm 18 ppg mud to kill the well. If they want to pump longer then perhaps a lower rate will do the job. That is some serious pumping horsepower. Anyway, this can easily be modelled and, unfortunately, I am afraid they have plenty of time to figure it all out.

In this case the backside and the inside are in communication. That may be different from the "normal" kick blowout. Doesn't that make it a more difficult situation and scramble the calculations? How much mudweight can the relief well support unless it is cased all the way to very near the intersection? It seems to be a darned complicated problem.

They will have to assume the flow is either up the annulus or up the casing. It does make it hard. I imagine that if they can establish communication to the annulus without milling the casing they will first try to kill it there. If that does not work then they will have to mill a window in the casing and then they will have to pump up both the outside and inside the casing. That might make it difficult. Hard to tell.

I've also wondered about the plan for that. RockMan has written that the intersection of the two wells will be a dangerous time.

Consider that the mud weight in the Relief Well is calculated to balance that well. It obviously has an additional 5,000 feet of mud hydrostatic on it compared to the blowout well. When they intersect we're somewhat back to the conditions that caused the original blowout, not enough mud weight. My guess is that they will very carefully monitor the mud flow and get after it with all the horsepower available sending mud downhole. Then start the cement which is heavier and could include some additives to plug the formation if it starts to breakdown. They have a good idea of the volume necessary to fill the bottom, at least before the blowout wallowed it out. A few barrels of cement gives quite a bit of fill up on the backside of that 7" casing and will increase the "mud weight" pretty fast. Of course, on top of the mud would initially be lighter weight oil until there is mud at the surface. The relief well itself cannot contain the overbalance pressure of 100% cement to the bottom without breaking down the formation somewhere. It would be great to read what the considerations are for the final cement job.

One caution, you do not want to pump cement until the flow is stopped with mud. If you try to pump cement into a flowing well it will not create a plug and would likely prevent futher attempts to kill the well while not stopping the flow. You would not keep stirring the cement in your driveway until it set up. It would not make a very nice driveway.

A gunk plug might be considered (a high density plug with barite mixed in water). When it hits the oil it drops the barite out and plugs stuff up - but maybe not what you want plugged up.

Remember, poor cement is liklely what caused this disaster in the first place (plus a host of other screwups)

thanks for the response.

My first thoughts agree with yours, no cement until there is control.
However, my question is how does the mudweight used in the relief well with an extra 5,000 ft of hydro head control the the flowing well? I cannot increase mud weight to be greater than XX.XX or it causes problems in relief well. But the well I'm in communication with when the milling is done will have 5,000 ft less of that mud hydro presure sitting on it and will somewhat be sucking the mud from the relief well. I'm not sure how there can be a stable balance between the two.

I understand just a bit about shallow onshore drilling. The DW problems are fascinating. The ability of the crews and contractors to deal with them are amazing. I've faced some real problems but nothing like this, and no one else has either. I just hope I understand enough about the situation to ask a realistic question about a problem. I continue to note that this well WAS under control all the way to the pay and into it. Problems resulted from poor decisions when setting final casing string, not from the drilling.

Maybe I've had a flash while composing the message. I can send 20# mud down the relief well and up the blowout and the total hydro pressure for the system will be equalized to whatever is in the blowout? Can that be correct?

A huge mistake was in not running the 9 7/8" intermediate all the way to the well head. That way they would have been able to shut the well in without it blowing out the upper strings.

One of the questions asked of Mark Hafle was about well lock down rings. First he asked Mark if he knew what they were, then if they were in the drilling program (yes) and whether they had been run (no). No further questions.

They will have to be ready for losses when they frac across to intersect. It is not easy, but this is certainly not the first releif well that has ever been drilled. We have a few weeks or months to figure it out.

The higher the kill mud weight the less the kill rate has to be. 19ppg mud would certainly be possible but there is a chance that at the high solids content the barite could settle out on the way down or on contact with the oil. It might just plug the blasted well. but you would have get the cement in there some other way. You could (maybe) get back on the original well with a new BOP and RIH and set cement plugs and.or squeeze cmt behind the casing.

I imagine BP has a team working out all the possible scenarios to be ready for. Hopefully some good drilling engineers and the academics are in another room solving the origins of the universe or something.

The differences in mud weight due to 5000' of sea water in the hydrostatic on the blowing well. I think they will have to use the BOP's as much as they dare through the choke to make up the difference.

With high pump rates there will be a lot more circulating pressure. i think they absolutely have to have the intermediate casing to the wellhead, and locked down proper.

reality rears its head again

had been trying to point out bolts 5000' SS are not like bolts at the surface last week but posts got drowned out in the noise...

1- the clearance b/w the bolt and the socket is very very minimal....the normal bolts and sockets we use in our garages are very loose fits compared to what is being used here ...because of the enormous torque that needs to be put on the bolt to get is the move.....

2- the consequence of having such a tight clearance b/w the bolt and the socket means that water tends to get locked in the socket which makes it impossible for the socket to move in and nestle on the bolt.....

and this is practice folks......nothing is on the line .....come time for the actual flange ....soon as a couple of bolts are loosened ...crunch time will come because at that point the bolts need to be unscrewed quickly ......cause forces will be acting on the flange and soon as there is little play in the flange ....this will become a pivot point ....

just my 2 cents...BTW Celtics and Lakers are playing 2 in case ppl need to stop staring at the ROV feed to relax :)

I figured that they had a tool like this for assembling the riser, but I wasn't sure if it was rated for use under water.

How about drilling a couple of very small holes from the back (top) of the socket into the cavity to allow the flow of water in and out?

there is one at the backend usually....but water gets in the way anyways more to do with the tight fit b/w the socket and the bolt...the sockets will be putting upwards to 3000 ft-lb worth of torque on the bolt....but seem slike this socket is more of a chamfered design

Good idea, but wouldn't that compromise the integrity of the duct tape American nails?

Re: 2 - I had a set of impact sockets that were relieved in the corners with circular cuts down to the floor, and a chamfered entry. That way the pressure is applied to the face of the head, not the corners.

Looks as if that's a human wrench - the trigger's locked back.

Well, I was paying attention anyways. And I'm still trying to figure out if it's even possible to unbolt that flange evenly with all the pressure. Especially once oil begins spewing out of the joint and you can't see anymore.

It thought it would take about an hour for an ROV just to make it one time around the flange and merely get the socket over each bolt to make a small 45 degree turn . Now even that looks wildly optimistic.

Kinda cool that one ROV is watching the other from the other side of the riser.

Maybe a set of these would help:

$25 at the local Sears.

Yeah, I know. I'm an idiot.

Looks like they went over to Sears and got a wire brush to clean up the bolt heads instead.

Any know if all 4 vents on top of the LMRP are closed yet? Thanks.

We may leave some of the LMRP cap valves open to ensure system stability - one is currently closed.

says this on the side of my live feed

Very recent from the NY Times (I heard something like this on Fox News a couple of hours ago):

"Engineers temporarily halted their efforts to close all four vents on the capping device, because even with three vents open, more oil was being captured than the Discoverer Enterprise, the ship receiving the oil, could process. BP plans to deploy more machines to separate the oil from gas and water and add an additional ship to help collect it."

So either they're capturing more than 15,000 BPD, the supposed max the Enterprise could handle, or the "Big E" can only handle 10K - 11K BPD.

"..more oil was being captured than the Discoverer Enterprise, the ship receiving the oil, could process."

This is really good news. Now get more processing!!!!!!!!

I believe we may have found another reason why BP was downplaying the size of the leak: good old fashioned wish fulfillment.

"Welp, looks like this here is a 5-gallon pile of horsepucky."
"I dunno, boss, looks like at least ten gallons to me."
"Nope, 5 gallons, I'm sure of it."
"Why do you say that?"
"'Cause I only brought a 5-gallon bucket."

I think I expressed my concern yesterday that they would not have enough process capacity and I hoped they were working on it. Also still concerned that the post riser cut rate is higher than BP would like to admit.

It seems like to me that if oil companies can afford to do this , they should be able to have enough collection facilities at the site. Collect now, process later.

Well you still have to stabalise the oil - in other words, get the gas out of it, before you can store it it anywhere. That required the piping, seperator, and flaring capacity to handle it. I have heard that this oil had a fairly high GOR, so the limitation might be gas handling capacity. Adding additional process capacity is not rocket science but does require some coordination to get it done right and safely.

You could be right about the flaring capacity, but I haven't heard mention of that being a limitation. I would be interested in seeing P&ID's for what they have on the Enterprise.

You will have to wait for the court documents to come out to get any detailed information. BP is not divulging any more information than they feel they have to. Gas rate is usually limited by seperator capacity and flare capacity. A P&ID would be nice, but seperator and flare capacity would probably tell you what the system can handle.

It sure would be nice for BP to have 1 or 2 engineers available to answer technical questions about the operation going forward. I do not see how it would impact litigation. You never know. Us armchair engineers might just have a solution or cautions. How do we put this idea forward? They do not have to take heed, but it would help get the country on thier side - at least in thier engineering efforts to tackle this thing.

I have a freind in high places with Transocean. I'll talk to him and see what he says.

You will have to wait for the court documents to come out to get any detailed information.

I think so.. It is one area that is going to cost BP big buck. By comparision, the cost for clean up and damage to the gulf state is peanut. The 1000-4200 per BBL penalty can add up very quickly into multiple billion range. It is highly depend on the estimation of oil leakage to the gulf (no, the estimation so far won't stand up in court. It has to be something much more fact based estimation than just watching film. Hence they will guard the flow rate as if their life depend on it and try to not measure or comment on it.). the longer the spill continue, the bigger the penalty. The higher rate of oil leak out to the ocean, the higher the penalty.. They would like to tie up this thing in court for as long as possible until they find an adminstration that will negotiate with them and get a penalty that is high but not high enough to bk the company. So they will make the discovery on this topic as hard as they can and go from there...

Thanks to everyone here for providing real info on this mess. I have been lurking and just couldnt stand it any more.
I have been wondering why we have not been seeing any views of the top hat and the situation with the valves. My suspicions have been verified. Only one valve is closed. The "BP quoted" captured flow rate went from approx 6k to approx. 11k. (5k ADDITIONAL) with the closing of one valve and "optimizing". There are three more valves. So approx. 5k more flow from each valve, plus the additional amount at base of top hat billowing out of the bottom of the top hat-LITERRALLY THE "GAS"-ket).

So my wild guess is 3 more valves times 5k per valve is 15k additional flow for a total flow of at least around 30k.
My question is where is the government in the command and control of this mess?
I always believed the flow rate to be higher than the low-bal side of the estimates previously given to us by BP-obviously in BP's favor. Why has the government not stepped in and required BACK-UP production facilities to be on hand and ready to go--NOW!--when needed--not when BP decides they need to get them there?
They gave been dragging the last two days out because they knew the given flow rates were low and they didnt have the solution in place to deal with the higher flows.
So now we wait yet again for BP to scramble with a solution to get more processing to the area.
Should already be staged and ready by command of who is in charge! So I ask WHO IS IN CHARGE?


You still think government is in charge of capping the well? I have a bridge to sell you.. I think Adm Allen has taken effective control on the clean up etc.. He is the gateway between local/state/fed government and BP and so far he seems to be effective in getting equipment/people to where they are needed. However, capping the well has always been BP domain because they are the only one among the party that know the best. I would be scare to death if any of the government agency is in charge in this part of the response effort. Taking control mean konwing what you want to do next and making the right decision. Anyone in government know how drilling really work?

So either they're capturing more than 15,000 BPD, the supposed max the Enterprise could handle, or the "Big E" can only handle 10K - 11K BPD. >>

This is good news, but my interpretation is different. The oil's flow seems to be highly variable, and you can not allow that flow in any given minute to exceed 10BPM (i.e. 15,000 BPD). So they have to pull back on the throttle to a point where the *max* flow is below 10BPM, even though the minimum flow at that level is likely a lot less. If the max capacity of the ship is 15,000 I can see no way of actually getting that level unless you can guarantee that exactly 10BPM are flowing 24 hours a day.

There is lots of spare equipment due to the moratorium (rigs, separators, etc) so hopefully this is easily accomplished.

A summary reference to some details of a riser design and the 1000 ft-lb torque required for bolts.

Actually, the document says to use an air impact tool for rapid assembly and to provide the initial 1,000 lbs torque and they must be finished with a hydraulic tool for final torque spec - considerably more I would guess.

Also says the joints are custom machined for better mating - no mix-and-match allowed. i said earlier....just north of 3000 ft-lb worth of torque will be needed here...and the flanges every1 is wanting to be unbolted...well those bolts are going to need even more torque ...i forget what the number is but I know its way north of 3000 ft-lb

Any idea what the bolt diameter is?

the number 3 5/8 inches comes to mind but thats just going by memory ...defiantly big bolts

3 3/4 maybe? The socket they're trying is labeled 3 11/16 and I think it's becoming painfully clear that it's the wrong size.
Come on BP...

Well, how long has that bolt been in that environment? If you're going to get a tight socket over it, it'll need a clean first.

They tried that with the wire brush.
See comments below... 3 11/16" does not seem to be a standard size, but 3 3/4" is.


It's not going to work. You can see in the pic, that corner is freshly rounded off.

Besides of course cost, the problems i see with Nuclear are, (In order of importance)

1. Bad site locations(ie Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant) why the heck would you build a plant on heavily populated and hard to leave Long Island, these things should be off the East Coast on Man Made (IF Necessary) islands even if their IS an accident the first people who would be impacted are in Far Away UK and Europe by way of prevailing winds.
2. No central place to store/reprocesses the waste, actually it would be better if there was 3-6 REGIONAL storage areas, so you don't have to ship the stuff 3,000 miles with the potential for accidents.
3. Living in New Jersey, what the Power Company is doing with Oyster Creek is a CRIME, this Rotting old plant is WAAAAYYYY past it expected lifespan and killing fish,and leaking Tritium like a Sieve.To top it off they also REFUSE to put in a cooling tower, to save the fish from being broiled.This basically is to trust, if they removed the old plan and designed a new one that was safer/more efficient they would improve the public view of Nuclear power, as it is all they seem to care about is wringing ever Megawatt possible out of this POS before they decommission it.

I always order my fish broiled.

Would your prefer frozen children?

Living in New Jersey, what the Power Company is doing with Oyster Creek is a CRIME, this Rotting old plant is WAAAAYYYY past it expected lifespan and killing fish,and leaking Tritium like a Sieve.

The tritium is getting into the groundwater and threatens the drinking water supply, and they can't seem to come up with a plan to deal with it. (Fellow New Jerseyan here.)

"This basically is to trust, if they removed the old plan and designed a new one that was safer/more efficient they would improve the public view of Nuclear power, as it is all they seem to care about is wringing ever Megawatt possible out of this POS before they decommission it."

Same thing happened to pop when the record industry figured out nobody gave a damn if it was good or not. So you're living near the Britney Spears of nuclear power?

==From above, nwaelder:

I'll take a last shot at what explaining what I am talking about:
The principle of operation of your rigid full flow 'production' connection couples the full flow energy of the blowout to a location 5000 ft above. But as you yourself concede, a means to relieve this flow must be provided for a variety of reasons. Your solution: Provide a 'dump' zone at some location under the sea but much closer to the surface.

In comparison to your scheme, already in place is every element of your proposition, only in different locations. Already existing, and superior to your scheme, is the ability to modulate the flow from zero to the maximum achievable.

Small details like "Pop the H-4 head with the hydraulics." and "Or cut the flange bolts." or "throw a switch", to you, I guess are small potatoes.

No disrespect, but I think you are too invested in what is but a crude concept that can't overcome the challenges of safety, mechanical, physical, and logistical considerations, even to a first approximation. Better than me, at least you had a proposal.==

Well, there is a spirited defense of an obviously flawed current situation. Lets not do nothing different, everything is just peachy. Lets review:

Current juririgged scheme, by design can capture a portion of the flow, never a full amount. It is theoretically possible to capture all the flow with a soft couple, but one needs several carefully designed flow elements to make that happen - a very efficient, low pressure loss diffuser, a very efficient, purpose-designed mixing manifold (designed for this flow that is) and a remote adjustable relief valves that are automatically driven by a sophisticated control system run off a bunch of data from internal and external sensors. None of these things is possible with a current contraption that is basically a concept design pressed into service. It can modulate the flow crudely, from zero to something far less than 100%. With an actual, precise hydraulic valve, you can get any portion of the flow, from actual zero to actual 100% of whatever the the well is producing either topside or anywhere else you chose to take it - a nearest refinery pipe was suggested.

As an aside, it is astounding that the entire oil industry, in decades of operating underwater, with billions and billions of dollars of profit NEVER sat down and envisioned THIS scenario (obviously the highest on the risk chart - common blowout plus BOP failure) and designed, engineered, tested and qualified a system for dealing with this situation. Just nuts. Anyway,

The dump zone I mentioned can be anywhere you want it to be. Want it right over the BOP - sure, just splice in a hydraulically controlled valve and a diverter right above it - no sweat.

I have always said that removing the flange or the H-4 head is difficult. I was told to remove the six bolts is impossible. Then we watched the little ROV cut the large amount of bur metal at the edge of the hole. Others have found small profile impact untorquing tools that maybe could work. Other folks have suggested putting the flow into a nearby refinery pipe, if one is available, to mitigate topside risk.

No disrespect, but I think some are hypnotized by the BP approach as "the best of the best", suspending critical judgement. It is at best a "work in progress" and it is very crude. Why not think of something better? Engineers do that.

Thanks for your continued commentary!

Most of the world seems pretty well astounded that BP, and the oil industry as a whole, appears to have been caught completely flatfooted by an eventuality. That gets us 50% to the public perception that BP "doesn't know what it's doing" all by itself. If BP thinks this was a "one in a million" event then they're either liars or more incompetent than any of their harshest critics could imagine.

I completely agree that we've seen 'small thinking' when 'broad thinking' needs to be in place. The goal never had to be to put the oil directly into in a 5000' riser, the goal should be keep the oil out of the water, in whatever way possible, period. That's the problem writ large and I don't believe that because the 5000' riser is the normal or best-case scenario for doing this that it was the only way or most efficient (meaning collects the most oil, not most cost-efficient) way of doing this.

I'm far more impressed by the tech required to drill the well to begin with than I have been with these attempts. If we can figure out how to extract at 23000' in 5000' of water I should think someone somewhere can figure out how to remove a few bolts at 5000'. The experience pool of hundreds of millions of humans is out there to tap into (no pun intended).

I'm pretty amazed at the amount of water-carrying that seems to be done on behalf of BP, especially as they're making the whole industry look terrible to the general public and presumably costing most people employed in the industry a lot of money right now.

People from outside the industry are getting positively bashed about ideas that might put more pressure down the wellhead. What were the top kill and junk shot if not attempts to do just that, assuming the presumption at the time that the kill mud wasn't just being lost somewhere? People outside the industry have been bashed for submitting ideas that don't take hydrate formation into account, but apparently the first two solutions rolled out by BP didn't really do that either.

The difference is that you would hope that BP wouldn't be making the same mistakes as people who don't work in the industry do when designing solutions. It's like cursing at a Little Leaguer for striking out then making excuses for A-Rod doing the same.

I hope this book mocking the failed ideas of Americans trying to solve the problem is going to include several of the BP solutions actually attempted. They've earned a chapter at least.

"I hope this book mocking the failed ideas of Americans trying to solve the problem is going to include several of the BP solutions actually attempted. They've earned a chapter at least."

This "book" has been a fun running joke but I hope it never materializes in fact. It would be better for the whole human race if we did not publicly ridicule folks who come up with desparate ideas in the face of desparate circumstances.

Just sayin' . . . . .

It can modulate the flow crudely, from zero to something far less than 100%

Really this is the only substantive thing you have pointed out for the umpteenth time, an aspect with which I'm sure you are quite correct, and I've agreed with you repeatedly myself.

By substantive, I mean feasible, risk adjusted to do no more harm, timely, and without limitation to cost. Do you think the collection of people working the problem don't have the skill or motivation? Well sorry, but I have confidence that the engineers and technicians who are able to find and extract oil at 5K feet under the sea, only need to be told to work this problem. They are not to blame. Engineers work on what they are told to work on. Blame the management, the industry and the lack of university research on this contingency, the regulators, the standards bodies, and for the rest of us, the notion that the oil party will last forever.

I came to try to understand in more detail the technicalities of the system.

What have I learned? That they have the necessary elements to capture 80-90% of the oil IMO.

How was it accomplished?
1) A negligent industry created a reality where the design, fab, and site logistic for the contraption was accomplished in <40 days.
2) The crude cap is able to channel oil to a relatively small diameter riser via pumping at the nearby LMRP.
3) The system was successfully installed without further mishap and startup operation began in about five days. After day two of operation 10K bpd recovery was achieved.

Lets assume that the blowout flow is 24K bpd. Lets further assume that a relief well is 96 days in the future and that they can capture 60% of the oil for the duration.

This amounts to 24k x 96 x .6 = 1.4 mm barrels recovered.

Any alternative would have to be accomplished in 1.4 mm/24K = 58 days to be better than this.

So, with unlimited money, what is the critical path? And what are the risks of creating additional unforeseen problems? Begin. You have 57 days to capture ALL the oil.

Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

I really don't understand why you are so upset at another engineer, who is looking at billowing oil entering our Gulf trying to suggest a better alternative.

I can sing praises to the great feats of BP engineering, who welded a simple cap out of steel, placed it on a roughly cut riser pipe and have achieved less than 50% collection after 40 days of trying. I know it was difficult to do at this depth and I know the people who are doing are very good at their job. From an engineering point of view, though, it is a very crude and rough concept prototype, with no refinement and very little analysis.

I proposed a simple system, that has less back pressure on the BOP, uses standard production equipment and very standard flow management (hydraulic valve, diverter), allows for 100% oil capture to topside or refinery pipe and allows the industry to do what it does best - to produce oil, instead of producing CFD analyses.

What's more it is far cheaper than the schemes tried so far. All standard equipment except for a hydraulic valve and diverter, and I know the oil industry can make that.

And judging by their practice on the flange bolts right now, that's exactly what they are finally thinking, too.

Are you upset that a lowly "cookbook" aerospace engineer has thought of this rather obvious solution?

I'm not upset at all, and I apologize for disparaging aerospace engineering. You must realize that the jab was meant to point to the slow and painful process of turning the promise of a couple of very smart bicycle mechanics into "engineering".

I think this tech exchange has run it's course. However, would you point out to me or explain why you believe, "I proposed a simple system, that has less back pressure on the BOP". Why less pressure on the BOP. The system in place has minimal. What am I missing?

The production casing rammed into the bottom of the BOP because the lock down ring wasn't installed, and the wellhead has no pressure integrity so the weak point is at 1000' below the BOP which is where the 28" is set. Lots of other week spots as well such as 13 5/8", plus lots of liner hangers. The BOP is acting like a big choke and if it gets blocked or shutin the oil will start coming up the outside of the casing.

"production casing rammed into the bottom of the BOP because the lock down ring wasn't installed"

Is it possible the production casing is not 'rammed' into the bottom of the BOP but is sticking up through it because when they ran it they did not get it as deep as intended? It looks like it was set 57' off bottom - was it meant to be 40' maybe? If so, wouldn't they have to wait until the cement was set to go in and cut the excess off the top - a point they never got to? (In either case, having some 9 5/8" inside the riser would explain why the kink was well above the BOP rather than right at the flange.)

Well the current system does have some - it has to, in order to keep the water out. It looks to me like several hundred psig, which may or may not be important, depending how ailing the BOP/well system is considered to be.

What I am proposing simply has a wide open 21" diameter riser full of oil to the surface or another low pressure sink. It will have lowest pressure on the BOP, unless the production equipment applies it. Since we wouldn't want that, if the flow is too much topside, a simple hydraulic valve/diverter will put the flow into the water, instead of the main stack. Depending where the splitter is, a full divert can bring the the pressure on the BOP to the full water pressure (which it had before the cap), or slightly less, if it is closer to the surface.

To make this fair, the rest of us should get 7 attempts to solve the problem, including 1 irreversable move that at least temporarily makes things worse.

The failure, incidentally, to collect 100% of the oil in this case, at the rate of even just 2000bpd that keeps spewing, could mean an extinction or two or a ruined local economy or two depending upon which way that last 10% flows. This is one of those cases in which 90% better is still absolute failure for someone else.

I just began my journey into TOD and am so grateful to find a new home.

As a noob, I am requesting some help. Feel free to ignore me. I am in a discussion on another forum re the ability of BP to calculate the oil flow at the well bottom. The response I received was:

"Working the Bernoulli equation with the estimated well gauge pressure of 1400 psi and average density of crude being 825 kg/m^3, you get a flow rate of approximately 50,400 bbls per day. These are using numbers from before the riser was cut, mind you, and assuming laminar flow, which it is not, which would suggest the pressure to be much higher.

And it's utterly preposterous to say you can't model turbulent flow from a video. The technology of scanning in visual data and figuring turbulent flow rate has been around for 50 years."ly

I am honetly lost. What I have learned so far, I have learned fro
m you. And I am excited about this. But I don't have the knowledge to respond to this. If you can help, O will credit you with the response. If you would like to respond yourself, I will provide the link. Thanks.

Heading out about a week ago posted a calculation as the topic for the day for flow rate and back estimated an equivalent orifice diameter in the BOP of 0.6 inches. IMHO this is a much better approach than trying to use Bernoulli.

Above the BOP the flow is 2 phase, kind of like a pop can just opened. This makes estimating flow difficult.

The Bernoulli equation relates the pressure to the velocity of a flow, but only applies when there is no dissipation/friction/drag on the flow. In this case, where there are major blockages and restrictions inside the BOP, neglecting drag is a bad idea.

As for modeling turbulent flow from a video, it *can* be done, but since this this flow includes three different constituents, any results (including my own) should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Thank-you for your help. I have c/p your response to the original question here:

I am grateful. I have a doctorate in a very different field and appreciate what this forum has given me.

Oh, god. When you said you were in "another forum", you didn't say it was fark! I will have nothing more to do with this. Excuse me while I go wash my hands. ;)

Geez. It's not that bad. Even we ignorant masses need to be educated. ;)

Interesting, if they are getting more oil then what the Enterprise can handle (supposedly 15000 barrels + a day) with just 1 valve closed if they close another valve (much less all 4) they should be able to get the vast vast majority of the oil.... supposedly. Again, interesting. Maybe they finally did it? Are congratulations in order, or are we still premature?

"Are congratulations in order, or are we still premature?"

Dunno. But perhaps we can go to bed with a little hope.

Sweet dreams.

More Questions. Isn't the large volume of gas causing most of the problem with the oil recovery? Where does 2-phase flow start, in the riser pipe or can they keep enough pressure to keep the phase change in the surface separator? It seems that two-phase flow in the riser would reduce the amount of oil flow. When does a high gas/oil ratio coupled with a large flow cause production problems? I posed the question earlier about doing some of the separation at 5000' in the liquid phase. There are future refinements coming (hopefully) and this might be part of them.

When and how much gas comes out of solution depends on the relative quantities of constituents in the oil/gas stream. You have to do a flash calculation knowing the partial pressures of each consituent. BP has not divulged that information. It is likley, however, that the surface pressure cannot be very high, hence the gas would come out of solution in the riser. In fact you can see a lot of gas coming out of solution at the top of the BOP. THis would make it hard to get a stable flow rate.

The gas / oil solution / pressure ratio is not something that BP should have to "divulge". They do not post Trigonometry tables on their web site either. Are they hiding that too?

Augustus, you are correct. They do not have to divulge anything. Probably any other company, including the one I work for, would do the same in similar circumstances.

argh, now he's got the wire brush out, this is really painful. all i can imagine is trying to brush someone else's teeth with my left hand and no thumb

As drastic as it sounds, a whole new set of ideas & parameters will need to be addressed if BP is forced to declare bankruptcy in the very near future. I remember my dad holding Union Carbide stock w/ its never say die 5% dividend payout. However, where Carbide's liability scuttled the co. in finite terms, BP's liability shows no such limits and could drag on into infinity.

A newbee here. I have a water well that produces 35+ gallons a minute. The well guy said the well could produce more if the pipe was larger. Is that the situation we have here? Thanks for all the great info.

The Trial Lawyers can find a way to consume any company. This will be a feast for every legal shark in the Southeast US.

Tell me Mrs. Williams, were your children traumatized when they came out of the water with black sludge on their feet?

I think CNN is quoting a Coast Guard briefing where BP said it captured 10,500 barrels and the feds said 19,000 were leaking into the Gulf. That would be close to 30,000 barrels total wouldn't it?

So we have decreased the oil spilling into the gulf from 12000 to 24000 BPD down to 19000 bpd. Is that what is called progress????

Can we accept 19000 BPD for the next couple months or more? I really do not think so. BP is going to have to do more and I would like to hear more about what they are doing. They can get a better seal by unbolting the flex jt or unlatching the old LMRP.

I can try to answer.

Your ass measures 84 inches around.
The doc tells you to lose weight.
When you get to 74 inches have you made progress?
If it stabalizes there and does not get lower than that do you OFF yourself?
How long do you wait in the improved stable condition to make a decision?

Lousy analogy since cutting the riser increased flow rate considerably.

The bottom line here is that BP is now collecting valuable oil that they own and will sell but the flow is probably about the same.

It looks to me from that CNN link that it says this:

"The BP-leased rig sank two days later, leaving up to 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil pouring into the Gulf daily, according to federal estimates."

This is the only place I see 19,000 BPD leaking mentioned.

This is a general estimate ("up to") of how much was leaking at the start, before the 10,500 were being captured.

Estimates of how much were leaking range from 12 to 19K. They probably don't know exactly, which is why the guy saying "I hope we're getting the majority of it" now actually is perfectly normal.

I think there's enough concern and blame to go around about the actual faults without making of conspiracy theories about the rest.

I am almost chewing my knuckles off watching the driver of the Viking Poseidon 1 rov try to get a hex socket over a bolt head to try to turn it with an impact wrench (counter-clockwise -- I am surmising). It may be that his only practical chance is a socket that instead looks something like.... (I do not have a better pic of the idea) but If someone listening here knows those people, maybe a phone call to chat about how to have an apparatus that will grab the bold head without having to be 'precisely' put on - and which the turning will "draw onto" the head.....

Holy crap, those are awesome! I'm throwing out my old socket set and am gonna use those suckers exclusively. Best part: the ad says they can be used with vise grips! Can I wrap the nut with duct tape for extra grip? At what stage do I use the JB-Weld?

for what it is worth, I have dealt with making up and breaking subsea connections with divers and ROVs. It can be frustrating. drawings and parts list typically state a bolt or nut size but they do not always have the hex wrench size needed. There is no standard for what OD nut is used on a particular bolt size. If you know you are going to be making up or breaking bolts or nuts subsea then you make sure you know what the hex wrench (or socket) is required before it goes in the water. In this case, I am fairly sure they did not expect to be taking the BOP apart subsea.

It is a frustratingly simple concept.

Of course the ROV pilot probably did not expect he would have a big audience either!!

Would the robot they have the ability to affix the hex socket first then couple to the drill?

I don't really know what the ROV is attempting with the drill and bolts. No amount of skill & patience will get that job done. Mini wedge the seam, then surgically saw down & thru the seam with proper blade cutting thru the bolts, like ones used to shear off skull caps.

I am a clathrate expert now, having read the Wikipedia entry and watched a youtube video on it.

Everyone seems to be spooked by clathrates in this situation. “Keep the seawater out!” is the refrain. No doubt clathrates are bad in a long natural gas pipe line. One way to get rid of them there is to reduce the pressure and increase the temperature.

Let’s see now. In a pipe leading from leak up to a salvage vessel, the pressure on the oil and gas and any seawater moving up that pipe is falling, and the temperature is rising because the seawater surrounding the pipe is getting warmer. Death to clathrates.

Put the bottom end of that pipe right over the leak AFTER the oil and gas is in the seawater at the 5000 foot depth. Do not connect it to the BOP, just place the open end of the pipe over the leak. Let the clathrates begin to form, if they have a chance. They won’t last, and the 400 psi driving force at the bottom of the pipe will sweep them along up the pipe anyway.

That is how they should be collecting this leaking oil, all of it, as I have been saying in several previous threads. If the experts don’t like it, will they be so kind as to shoot it down with a detailed explanation? I have been an engineer for forty years, so I believe that some professional courtesy is not unwarranted here.

The clathrates did plug up the containment dome, but that is a different method from the one I am proposing. If the experts say it is not different, let us have a full explanation so I can put this idea in the can and keep quiet about it forevermore.

I say it will work. We might find out, if they move the current pipe off of the BOP by accident and find that the flow improves.

By the way, I got a reply from the Horizon team within a week on this idea. They said it wouldn’t work in this situation, and of course they didn’t have time to explain why. But given that all attempts to plug the leak so far seem to be stabs in the dark, maybe they are wrong about this idea.

How large a pipe? I'd guess the success of your scheme would be improved (greatly) with a larger pipe. Right now, it seems the new BP riser is a 6-inch diameter pipe. The Horizon team may have assumed that's the pipe you meant, or that's the only pipe they've got. But your scheme might work much better with a 12-inch or 18-inch pipe. The larger pipe might resist clogging much better (in proportion to its cross-sectional area).

I have no idea how hard it would be to replace the current 6-inch riser pipe with one of the larger sizes. Too hard might be the BP response (bearing in mind they'd need 5000 feet of the stuff, or bearing in mind they've already built one riser so why should they be in a hurry to build another).

I did suggest to Horizon a gang of pipes, to make the assembly stiffer, but that would probably not be necessary. It appears that a single 6" pipe could handle the flow, but as you say, the larger the pipe the less danger of plugging. However, I believe the danger would be low enough to ignore even with a 6" pipe.

Larger diameter pipes would also require thicker walls to resist collapse under the differential pressure. At some point along the pipe, the seawater pressure might be more than 100 psi greater than the pressure inside. A pipe is much less resistant to external pressure than it is to internal pressure. There is a section in the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code for calculating the required wall thickness.

They could try this idea right now, by lifting the existing pipe away from the BOP and placing it over the oil and gas after it is in the water.

One advantage of this method is that it would eliminate any further strain on the BOP and well pipe/casing. Just leave them alone, let them leak and catch the oil after it has leaked.

The top hat has been designed as an intermediary step (to move things along in a positive direction but in a very slow and controlled fashion)--because they know that the existing well total flow rates are way higher than their current ability/capacity to route the flow to another processing location or to produce/handle the resulting oil/gas product in the drill ship.
The current top hat "6 inch pipe" solution is just at their max current drill ship production capacity to produce/handle the material with only one valve on the top hat currently closed.
They do not currently have the necessary solution/s in place to seperate the flow to various processing locations from the top hat solution or to process any additional material from the top hat solution at this time.
So, we will need flow routing/processing equipment solutions in place to close the three additional top hat valves before we can even handle the total max flow from the current top hat solution.
Proper command and control by our government would ensure that additional necessary production/material handling assets/solutions are currently staged and ready for deployment NOW-not on a delayed basis. As each day waiting for flow routing/production handling capacity is obviously more oil in the gulf.
The work on oil/gas flow routing and additional processing equipment should be going on in parrallel with the top hat revisions/solutions-not in series.
Additionally, if I remember correctly? calculations by someone else above stated that the current top hat solution would not be able to handle any more flow than 20k due to the 6 inch pipe used at the current overall max. system pressure differentials. This max capacity is below the actual flow rate of the well IMO. I believe the well flow to be a min of 30k per day.
Also, the "other solution" of taking the flow directly out of the BOP and processing it on the other floating platform should be happening NOW! If the two current solutions together still do not equal the total well flow rate, the top hat will need to be redesigned to handle a larger max flowrate---along with the additional increased flow routing/processing capability for the new top hat.
Does anybody know why the BOP flow solution is not being implemented NOW? What is the hold up on this?
Seeing all the prototype/emergency work going on now is frustrating to say the least but I wish the hard working people, doing everything they can at this point, the best.
So we have some very slow progress--but a long way to go.

Judging by the new exercises the ROVs are doing, they are getting ready to do something new.

Skandi is spending a lot of time looking at the H-4 head.

Viking is practicing bolt untorquing from the collapsed and cut riser. Same flange connection as currently above the BOP.

I can't believe it! They are really trying it! I knew they would get really serious one day!

How's that go again...One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
It's time to grab the next size up socket.

Plus it seems he's got a bad grip in the tool. He needs to go to the surface and have the tool bolted on to his "arm".

They need a custom socket, slightly oversized. There is a machine shop that will do it overnight.

I keep yelling at the screen "Its the wrong size socket". I wonder how long till they figure that out??

No, I am sure its the right size. On the bolts that big that have gone through a monster torque cycle, the nut can easily be slightly deformed, so the right size socket won't fit without force.

Close up showed 3 and 11/16 on the socket. The bolt we have been told is 3 and 7/8". On second thought maybe it isn't right?

That is 3 7/8" bolt size, not head size.

A quick call to Vetco or a check on the DW Enterprise should do it. better still check with DW Nautilus, her sister rig.

So is there a standard for that funny flared nut, relative to the bolt size?

Need to talk to Vetco. It has been a few years since I have had to run any riser bolts, but I have done a few in my time. We used Hytorc wrenches, much more capable than a impact wrench.

They are a square thread from memory, and it was a must to use molykote to bring the torque down to reasonable value. Something around 2-3000ftlb. I hope someone can correct me.

It was a major job when it came to MPI time. Thousands of bolts to be inspected.

What they are using there certainly does not look up to the job.

That robot operator needs to take a look at the position of the points inside the socket in relation to the marks on the outside of the socket and notice their relationship to each other. Those marks on the outside of the socket and the points inside the socket are aligned. Therefore, position the socket on the bolt head so the points line up to the marks on the outside of the socket. Then, while pushing the socket toward the bolt, jog the socket back and forth cw and ccw. The socket and the bolt head should work their way together and then he can get on with it!

He needs to grab it as close as he can from the rear, to center-line to center of socket. That will allow for most precise maneuvering. They way he is holding it now, off to the side mid-way back, he will never get it aligned.

You would think by this time they would have specialized tools that are a bit more forgiving of misalignment so a robot claw can work them properly. A socket that would open up and then close down properly on a bolt head for example. Or a socket actuator that could "microrotate" the socket until it matched the bolt alignment.

Seriously, if they're actually rehearsing unbolting the head on the actual well, imagine going through this excruciating matchup with oil billowing everywhere.

How about magic bolts that unscrew themselves from 1500lb/ft when you blink at them 3 times? I mean, as long as we're suggesting the technologically impossible, why not.

I have a funny one. I just happenned to click past the Weather Channel talking about the oil spill. The subtitles stated that Thad Allen said "The Crap is just a temporary solution, the relief wells are the permanent solution". I wonder who the subtitle typist was??

That is exactly what BP has said from day 2. Of course everything that BP states is all lies. they must have paid the guy a lot to agree with them.

Is it still news for anyone?

If BP can measure the amount of oil they are capturing, why can't they measure the flow? Sounds like anything BP says is just BS.

Long time reader, rare poster.

Could someone tell me what you think about the video at the top of this link?
It appears to me, after watching it for the last hour or so, that the riser,
under that contraption they installed, is starting to crack up. There is a
crack appearing to the right of a circular attachment, and a piece of the pipe
is wriggling in the breeze, so to speak. Also lots of oil starting to come out
of that area.

Says 3 11/16" on the socket...maybe try 3 3/4"?

Over three hours later, yeah, I would try the 3 and 3/4" socket. If for nothing else to see if the robot operator can get his vertical and horizontal axis in alignment.

It's a Cameron BOP, right?
A quick Google search for 'cameron bop flange bolt' finds this torque table:

Not sure if it's directly applicable, but notice that 3 3/4" appears and 3 11/16" does not.

Edit: Same answer from another site:

Incidentally, the torque is given as either 13500 or 23636.

It's a Cameron BOP?

Oh well in that case it's probably just CGI, computer graphics, so just fix it in the animation. Easy.

Vetco riser

Sorry no torque value od bolt head size. Class H riser as per Transocean web site

I assumed (and someone else already suggested) that the bolts on the Vetco riser are the same size as the ones on the top of the Cameron BOP. If not, then it's easier to see how a mix-up of socket sizes could occur.

Shouldn't they know what kind of riser they got down there?

The flange facing up that was cut by the shears is the last of the Vetco riser, it is attached to the oil tools flex joint, which is attached to the cameron DL annular, and so on.

So the connection they will need to break is the Vetco riser bolts.

Good luck to them! I hope they can do it.

Alternatively, perhaps they can use the hydraulics to decouple the from the flex joint. It doesn't look too canted - should still work. They have been staring at the bubble level with the ROV cameras from time to time.

I think they should abandon unbolting altogether. They should use trained sharks with lasers mounted on their heads to cut them.

Right now it appears the socket is on. But I think it's an optical illusion. Maybe intentional to shut us up. I think it's just lying in front of the bolt.
Plus, anyway that looks like some pretty tough sealant round the rim of the bolthead.

It is a illusion. They lined it up 2 times now. It slid away the first time for 10sec or so.

I think its been 4-5hour's trying now. Lunch time

I don't understand. The article is from 3 days ago, and the video is a mirror of the current main BP feed which happens to be from Skandi Neptune's Herc 6. Native resolution on the feed from that particular ROV is only at 320X240. Please explain how you are identifying cracks and other damage from that postage stamp sized video.

I have 5 live feeds running in a stand-alone software app, and I don't see anything different as compared to the last few days.

The article may be from three or four days ago, but look at the time and date on the video. It is current.
I have been watching this video for some time now, and can tell you the oil is coming out from places it was not two hours ago. Look to the far right of the scene, there is a piece of pipe flapping around in the current. This was not there two hours ago.

It may not be the best video, but for one who has watched it for some time, there are noticable differences from two hours ago.

What pipe??? From which ROV? I have compared all the current feeds to the screen caps I have taken since the cap was in place, and there are no new pipes. There are flexible blue hoses flapping around in the turbulence and are visible sometimes and not visible sometimes depending on where the ROVs are parked, but all the fittings below the cap are the same. There are smaller hoses and weird valves with t-handles that are part of the dispersant wands also in shot at times. Nasty orange crap is building up in places, and the paint has been stripped off the vanes at the bottom of the cap, but nothing on the LMRP looks any different. No cracks, no new leaks, no loose pipes. I think some of you guys are just trying to invent new conspiracy theories and need to take a break.

Somebody tired of all the crap, perhaps.

OK, I'm watching the ROV doing the Inclinometer readings with the 3 or 4 barred aluminum contraption. I believe they are measure the inclination of the BOP and LMRP...there seems to be about 10-20 degree incline from vertical.

Anyways, I had wished for a shot of the cap and plumes from about 30' away with lights behind the plume earlier today. Low and behold, I got it and for several minutes. ROV was probably more like 50' away and you got a sense of how big the stack and plume really are, especially knowing the ROVs are the size of small cars. There were 2 other ROVs providing backlighting the entire time.

Really an advantageous viewpoint.

Holy the same ROV is driving over and through the plume from above messing with a line above the cap. Getting a veiw within the plume and looking down towards the cap. I was hoping to see that as well. Wow...two wishes fulfilled in one day.

Those bullseye incination devices are usually something like 5 deg max with each circle designating 1 degree. It may be 1/2 deg per ring, I am not sure. But the angle is not near as high as you are guessing.

Following is a link to a company selling bullseyes

The reason they are looking it so see if it is safe to active the hydraulics and pop off the H-4 head. If the angle is too big, it won't budge easily or at all.

Any video, or screencaps?

Bedtime thought:

"Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been."
— Grateful Dead

FINALLY. 1:00 AM-ish east-coast time as the socket is mated to the bolt head. the most agonizing thing i've ever witnessed.

Actually it's not... that is an optical illusion. The socket is just lined up in front of the bolt. I think they are just pausing to decide how to spin the revelation of incorrect socket size...

I don't think the socket is on, but is positioned in front of the bolt head. If you look at the video feed from Viking Poseidon ROV 2, you can see the impact wrench and socket sitting out from the bolt.


Yup. Here's a screencap.
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What a picture. It is the best thing yet. LIVE
vik 1 fakes he did it.
vik 2 is pi^&ed off that bp paid him less money. Take this b&*(^. You didn't do it

I couldn't help myself. This is just the best thing I have ever seen.
I just don't know what to think....

Sure glad this is not a critical task that needs to be accomplished!

Actually, I think it's a ruse. One of the ROVs engaged in this foldarol of taking apart the riser for no reason was pointed at the seafloor for 20 minutes watching it throb and spew out waves of black stuff. See my post upthread near the top with a time-lapse animated gif.

thats a stellar optical illusion. one of the best i've seen! wow. this.. just.. .. wow. really makes me wonder about alot of things. also wondering why it seems oxidation and scale weren't considered when consulting the prints to find bolt size, or why some genius didn't sit down figure out that "ok.. we (over x time and X scale buildup yadda yadda) will have an extra .090" on that bolt head. lets make a custom socket.".. something to that extent. perhaps have a tray and tool changing system with various sockets akin to a CNC mill with a CAT 40 spindle and various tools at the ready should one not oblige the operator.

Socket appears to be firmly seated on the nut.
What now. Do they have to clear it with OSHA, fill out the ISO proceedure paper wrok in triplicate and wait for MMS permission to pull the trigger?

Again, it's not actually on the nut... optical illusion, perhaps deliberate, obviously effective... see above discussion and screencap from the other ROV.

Have a look at the screencap further up the comments...the socket is not on the nut (bolt?_ whatever)
I think the ROV operator is either on a break, or looking for the guy who put the wrong sized socket on the wrench. Been watching this off and on for about 2 hrs, and he is one persistent operator.

Gordon. I know it was not on in that screen cap. But in the last hour it was on there and fully seated for about 20 minutes. It looked like they tried it once and somehow pulled it off. Now they can't get it back on.

Take it from this old farmer whith 20 years experience in plant maintenance mechanic and electrician. I know nuts and bolts, sockets and impact wrenches. It was in place. They tried it and it didn't have the torque to break it loose.

Can't imagine what they will try next.

No, it never was in place. The operator created that illusion by setting the tool down just right, just in front of the bolt head. He knew 22 million people around the world were watching on and off and he might fool half of them anyway, if they turned away for a minute.

Hi Donner-T. It sure looked like they had succeeded for those 20 minutes or so, from the perspective of Viking Poseidon ROV 1, but the aforementioned screencap (from Viking Poseidon ROV 2, on the other side of the riser) shows that the socket was never actually on the bolt. ROV 1 just held the socket in front of the bolt head for a long time.

"Loose Lucy is my delight"

My name is August West
and I love my oil best
more than my wine

I missed about 8 hours of this today before that I saw an ROV looking at a bolt now they have what appears to be a socket driver attached to a bolt.

Can anyone explain where this is in relation to where the oil is being released and why they appear to be doing this?

I was told here two days ago that they would not be able to remove a flange with the ROVs.

Apparently they are trying.

This appears to be the practice for the removal of the flange bolts at the top of the BOP.

it's so ridiculously addictive to waste hours watching, yet so terrifying and maddening at the same time.
really hoping this gets resolved soon and just simply capped off instead of everyone fuggin around to figure a way to retain the ability to extract. that is how it shoulda been from day one of this fiasco. waging bets on when i will see oil on the shores on southern north carolina. hoping i do not.

i will agree that the tenacity of the poor bugger working the sticks of that ROV is unparalleled to anything i've ever seen. haha.. that man needs a cookie or something. and maybe a socket that fits...

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Looks like the socket is on the bolt at last. Can I please go to sleep now?

i think it is time to ask the flying spaghetti

Flying spaghetti monster says to the ROV 'returneth thee to the surface and fetcheth a 3 3/4" socket'.

Sure glad this is not a critical task that needs to be accomplished!

Actually, I think it's a ruse. One of the ROVs engaged in this foldarol of taking apart the riser for no reason was pointed at the seafloor for 20 minutes watching it throb and spew out waves of black stuff. See my post upthread near the top with time-lapse animated gif.

So when is it going to blow? Within weeks or days?

I think it was seated for a while...was one of those new caps a bolt on model?
why would he be cruel and trick us like that...are those weights>?submar? ram bus if your dyslexic

could that socket have shrank?

No, they never actually got the socket seated on the bolt (though it looked like it for a while due to the camera angle). As far as I (and others here) can tell, they are trying to find out if it's possible for an ROV to loosen bolts of that size, with an eye toward eventually unbolting the flange just below the current LMRP cap, and bolting on something different that could actually make a seal.

Not sure why they didn't try this many weeks ago.

The torque on those bolts is going to be HUGE. I think they need to do two things, pronto:
1. Get the correct size socket. Probably 3 3/4", from my research.
2. Equip the hydraulic socket driver with a bracket that fits over the head of the next bolt around the flange, to brace against the torque (because the ROV can't handle it). Kinda like those wheel lug wrenches you see that fit over two lugs:

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I still dont know what to think.

"I still dont know what to think."

Cruel only goes on in one of the six possible positions.

For what its worth - they just dropped a lot of ballast rods, next to the two alternative caps on the bottom

Helix (Operator of the Canyon ROVS ) might have another cutting solution at hand :

"The patented wellhead removal technology
uses an entrained grit, water jet
cutting system with medium pressures
of 10,000 to 15,000 psi. The system is
engineered to cut casings, well conductors,
subsea flowlines, umbilicals, piles,
and all associated subsea infrastructure,
along with platform well conductors
and legs. With the help of a remotely
operated vehicle (ROV) and a dynamically
positioned workboat, the system
can operate at water depths beyond 328
ft (100 m).
Rigless intervention technology also
incorporates a proprietary cement injection
tool designed to perforate the first
casing, set a cement plug in the annulus
between the first and second casings,
and pressure test the plug. All three
functions are achieved in a single
deployment, saving considerable time
and cost when compared with alternative
techniques. When used with the vessel
deployment system, the tools enable
subsea cementing and perforation work
to be performed without a rig or special
intervention vessel "

"the system can operate at water depths beyond 328 ft (100 m)."

I'm guessing that is trying to tell us something.

The first deployment of this system looks to have been at that depth ,
thats why the article mentions 'beyond 100 meters' to indicate its potential for deeper environments , or so I guess.

It's mentioned as a 'deepwater intervention' solution.

But from the article it seems that it hasn't been in service that long.

The point being that it would cut with a waterjet instead of a diamond saw or shear and connects to a ROV

Euan I felt a reply to this unfounded comment of yours was necessary and as the first post of your article was closed I will throw it in here.

Euan Mearns on June 6, 2010 - 10:18am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top I think the poor safety culture / safety record is more specific to BP USA than the global organisation. This is something that senior management should have picked up on and clamped down on long ago IMO. One possible cause is that BP USA is formed by merging BP with Sohio, Amoco and Arco - no safety culture heritage?

I've only anecdotal evidence to counter your implication but when I worked on the Arco side of the North Slope the BP side was considered the ghetto operation. It was well known that their feeder pipes were corroding badly and there was a far higher chance of getting H2S exposure on BP side. Arco's safety culture was in no way inferior to BP's up here where the two worked side by side and true comparisons could be made. Of course those corroded BP feeder pipes eventually dumped a few hundred thousand gallons of crude onto the frozen tundra (luckily a fairly easy cleanup). I'm guessing British safety reporting standards may have far more to do with your perception of BP's better home safety record than BP's policies do. Or maybe BP really is nicer at home while they act like arrogant colonial powers abroad--from watching their actions up here I'd say that colonial ruler culture at the very least seems to be alive and well in London. All the big boys push the safety bubble in the developing world so safety comparisons would have to be from first world countries. If you have facts to support your claims please post them.

Early after the spill Orbit500 posted that the whole incident was caused sabotage and said there would be serious consequences for tearing down such a powerful British Company. Your comment isn't to far afield from his.
But as we American's are starting to know a little of the denial that comes as an empire fades ourselves I do understand from where these type comments emanate.

FWIW, I've been watching Sakandi ROV 2 for about 10 minutes now and the amount escaping the dome seems quite a bit higher than it was this morning. I'm also noticing the cap is lifting up and moving around. Don't remember seeing that before although I could just have missed it since I watch for a few minutes and then go back to working.

[edit: Could also be that it's pixelation. I'm getting quite a bit of that from time to time though I don't think that is the case.]

I agree; there is a lot of movement of that "fin" relative to the structure beneath it. It is not the parallax from the slight movement of the camera. The movement is episodic cycling in 5 to 10 seconds. Is it stormy up top? It seems that there is appreciably more oils billowing out from under there than there was, say, 6 hours ago.

Increased flow underneath & more 'jiggling' of the cap - could they have had to choke back at the surface? Or did they perhaps close a second port on top of the LMRP?

Would it be possible to put at the top of these discussion threads a permanent link to the multiple videos of the various robots? I managed to save that link at home but not at work, and it's a nice background (i.e. distraction) to leave it up while I'm doing something else.


I can't agree that it's a nice background or distraction, mostly cause I personally need a distraction from what's going on down there, however, maybe this will help you.

Can any of the more knowledgeable folks here explain all the rubbish we were seeing a few moments ago on the sea bed thanks to Viking Poseidon ROV_1 dubbed, "plume inspection"?

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