BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Closing the Relief Ports - and Open Thread

Please transfer discussion to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6572.

The rate of oil recovery from the Deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico has increased from the 6,000 bd recovered on Friday, to some 10,000 bd which was recovered on Saturday.

On June 5, a total of 10,500 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

The closing of one of the ports on the cap is now reported to have increased flow by 600 bd.

On June 6, a total of 11,100 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million cubic feet of natural gas was flared. Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next few days.

If all were carrying the same flow (and if of the same size and driving pressure this is a reasonable assumption) then the flow will rise to just over 13,000 bd when all the ports are closed, and there will still be leakage under the cap to be reduced.

Given that the Enterprise can only handle 15,000 bd at most, this is one of the reasons why the ports remain open and that the system to draw off additional oil through the choke and kill lines is being accelerated.

(Note: See also BP struggling to process cap-collected mix of oil, seawater, highlighted in Drumbeat.)

This is the current flow (note the white spot in the cloud which is the triangular shape at the bottom of the cap).

Flow at 10 am Sunday

And this was the picture that I posted from the same ROV at the time that the cap was installed

From Skandi ROV 2 10:55 pm 4th June

The triangular elements at the bottom of the cap are more evident. Now the ROV may have moved, but the depth of the cloud beyond the cap is roughly the same, suggesting the same pressure driving it, and if the gap is the same size, then the volume leaving through the base of the cap may well be the same.

The 4,000 bd increase in flow has thus, likely come from the closing of one or more of the relief ports that allowed oil to escape from the top of the cap.

BP illustration of the cap, showing the relief ports with valves

This cap is likely to stay in place for a couple of weeks, until BP can fabricate and install the next step, which will be to reverse the flow of fluid through the choke and kill lines, so that some of the flow can be directed up to the Q4000. This will both help with managing the flow, and also give an alternate path for oil to be recovered, when this first cap is removed.

Update: I had assumed that they had closed most of the ports on the cap to achieve the 10,500 barrels per day flow, but it turns out that so far they have only closed one, and in relation to the numbers at the top of the post, I am not sure when that was done.

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I calculated some numbers the other night, posted them @ LATOC.. thought I'd post here too. Just to get an idea of how much oil has leaked.

According to this link:

This last friday (June 4) ~250,000 gallons of oil were siphoned and captured via 'top hat'.. and then yesterday (June 5) they 'harvested' ~441,000 gallons of oil.

There are 42 gallons in a US oil barrel.. so on Friday and Sat., respectively:
6,000 and 10,500 barrels of oil were harvested.

Which is interesting as several weeks ago the 'official' flow rate of the spew was ~5,000 barrels/day.

So this was obviously way underrated.

And there's still no reliable info on the amount of oil that's really escaped.

Even if the total flow rate is 100,000 barrels a day consider it amounts to a tiny fraction of the ~20 MILLION barrels of oil consumed in the US every day( .5% ). Just to keep things in perspective.

... and...

More numbers. I'm going to estimate the actual flow from this 'leak' to be between 20,000 - 40,000 barrels of oil/day. Base this on lots of anecdotal evidence, including the fact they are now collecting 10-15K barrels/day through tophat with perhaps at least as much still escaping.

A barrel of oil has a volume of ~5.615 square feet and this will not vary much ( < 1 %) even a mile underwater.

So, everyday, for 20,000 barrels of oil.. this is equivalent to 112,300 cubic feet. Or a cube of oil about 48 feet per side (per day escaping). For 40,000 barrels of oil this is equivalent to a volume of oil about 60 feet per side (ouch!)

Total oil, assuming about 45 days now.

For 20,000 barrels of oil daily spew it's now 900,000 barrels oil total (Volume is cube ~170 feet per side).
..And for 40,000 barrels of daily discharge is 1.8 million barrels oil total (Volume is cube ~216 feet per side).

At this point we're at about 4-8x the volume of the Exxon Valdez, which dropped about a quarter million barrels of oil.
And climbing


There are some people that think this leak is > 100K barrel/day.. if so we are ~25x the volume of the Valdez at this point.

So in terms of total volume it's not a lot of oil (a cube less than 300 feet per side).

Compare this to the annual volume of oil consumed globally - over 1 cubic mile (a cube a mile per side.. a small mountain really) and it's a drop in the bucket.

It appears they had no success getting the bolt out during the night. I was really hoping they would. If they could master that, it means they could do an at-the-flange repair on this piping system, where high-pressure piping systems are best repaired. If they can't master it, then they're limited to clamp-on repairs at best, trying to contain a flowing high-presssure well.

I believe ability to remove flange bolts and make at-the-flange repairs, at depth, should have been perfected before they started drilling this well. The possiblity of a 5000' long riser being damanged beyond repair and needing to be replaced should have been seriously considered, and ability to replace it at the flange, at depth, should have been worked out ahead of time. If flange bolt removal at depth isn't possible, then the riser flange should have been a quick disconnect type, similar to the well head / BOP connection.

It appears they will be limited to clamp-on repairs now, having varying degrees of success containing the flow from this well.

As somebody mentioned earlier on this site, they are donig 20 years worth of R & D in a matter of weeks. Permits to trill should be subjected to detailed contingency plans for various eventualities. I sincerely hope that this even will be the catalyst for all governments to strengthen their requirements.

My view is that several weeks should have been spent figuring out how to handle this 20 years ago...

There is no need for R&D. It all would have gone great if those pointy-headed scientists weren't interfering. After all that drill pipe laying on the bottom is a 1000' spud bar. Bolt problem solved. Just put a box-end wrench over the bolt, slip the drill pipe over the wrenches shaft and pull on the end of the pipe with a crane from the surface.

My guess is that the bolt exercise is a result of the multi-path, parallel approach to solving this- put a team on each good idea even if the current plan hasn't failed yet- that someone reported they are using. Someone came up with a plan that involved unbolting a flange, someone else said "we can't", and someone, probably from Chu's group (just figuring how incredulous non-oilfield people here were to the claim) said "show me."

But it is stunning that they have been doing this drilling without redundant shut down systems operable from the lifeboat and without "just break glass" containment system hours away. Why hadn't the first dome been tested? Maybe it would have worked and this ended weeks ago if the orifice was a different size or antifreeze was injected.

The bolt drama is gee whiz golly gosh prestidigitation, so you don't see what's going on elsewhere on the seafloor.

avonaltendorf wrote:

The bolt drama is gee whiz golly gosh prestidigitation, so you don't see what's going on elsewhere on the seafloor.

That's an accusation for which you haven't offered the slightest proof, just like the countless similar accusations and claims being asserted here in the comments section.

Okay, fine. You win. ROVs spend hours daily staring at the seafloor for no reason and there are no mud vents. They dive and inspect the seafloor miles away from the well because they get bored. Inclinometer measurement of the BOP stack yesterday was to prove that nothing's wrong, nothing changed, and Chu is an ignorant worrywart.

So the question is why would they broadcast this sort of activity out to the entire planet if they are trying to keep it secret?

I think he was trying to say that it was being broadcast in order to deflect interest from other things that are going on. Because BP is (under pressure, and almost certainly unwillingly) providing all the links to all the ROVs in use, they are providing 'interesting' material so people will be less likely to notice what is perhaps more important.

Sort of a purloined letter approach to video feeds?


If so he didn't present it well. The voyages to see what's on the bottom wouldn't be broadcast at all if I was in charge and thought I needed to hide what they might find. The purloined letter stratagem (which is probably useless given the number of people watching) wouldn't be necessary.

The little problem of the methane hydrate is what you need R & D for. Find out what might happened that you don't expect under controlled conditions and when life and death and environmental disaster don't depend on each adjustment you make to the parameters. Finding out how to control the formation of hydrates and what size of pipe is best suited to address this, is precisely the kind of thing you would be trying to find out in a R & D program of this sort. This is why there is no "just break glass" containment system in existence. The appropriate R & D was just not done to know what was needed in such circumstances.

How can you use a vertical crane to turn a horizontal bolt or nut? Unless you create a pulley with lever I don't see it?

The marine riser is not a high pressure piping system. It is not designed to be a high pressure containment string but an avenue to circulate fluids, conduct well work and a deployment method for the BOP's. The choke and kill lines are the two high pressure systems. There typically is not a need to deploy in service flange repair on a marine riser. Furthermore, depending on the depth of the problem you could have anywhere from several 100k lbs to over a million lbs of tension on the system. One is not going to try an inservice repair of that nature and risk a catastrophic failure. If you have a leak in the Marine Riser you typically suspend operations and replace the joint or two. Also, the DW Horizon was capable of drilling in water depths to 8,000ft thus, Transocean has at least 3,000 feet of spare marine riser from the DWH on the beach somewhere. This is not kept on the rig as it would have to be stored on the deck taking up precious space and adding considerable weight above the center of gravity (affecting stability and vessel motion accordingly). No telling how much additional riser they may have from other rigs.

"The marine riser is not a high pressure piping system."

That could be argued till the sun goes down.

It is a flange-type piping system. Ability to unbolt flanges and bolt new piping sections on, at depth, should have been part of the disaster response plan for this well.

Only if you wish to argue the difference between what constitutes high and low pressure. From a low pressure perspective, the BOP's are located below the marine riser to prevent it from seeing the higher wellbore pressures. Burst really isn't the driving design issue in the design, it is collapse and tension.

"Burst really isn't the driving design issue in the design, it is collapse and tension."

I agree. Collapse and tension would be foreseeable threats to the riser. In this case it collapsed, bent over, whatever terminology one wishes to use.

How to replace a collapsed (bent over, whatever) riser at the BOP marine riser connection? A substantial possiblity that should have been worked out before they started drilling, in my opinion.

While their herculean efforts to contain the flow are admirable, they are necessiated by an irresponsible glaring oversight, in my opinion.

"There typically is not a need to deploy in service flange repair on a marine riser."

"Typically"? Based on past experiece?

"Typically" sorta failed here didn't it.

"If you have a leak in the Marine Riser you typically suspend operations and replace the joint or two."

Were they able to do that, if it were to occur?

It does not appear that the marine riser had anything to do with the failure that occured on the DWH. As far as my use of the word "typcial", if you wish to make an issue of it, so be it. I was merely trying to provide generalized insight into a complex system. And yes, I have had to suspend operations in order to repair a riser leak. A small leak can lead to a big leak due to washing out out of the failure be it a crack in the body or flaw in the seal face. That in turn compromises the integrity of the system. I have not read anywhere that there was riser leak on the DWH had there been one prior to the well control incident I can only assume they would have taken steps to replace the leaking joints.

"It does not appear that the marine riser had anything to do with the failure that occured on the DWH."

I agree. Riser damaged beyong repair is a result of some other event in this case.

Your comment points up -- again -- what we as a group on this board and as a civilization do not seem to understand / to get / to catch on to. Simple mental exercise: consider the technology that is bringing the many millions of us watching a score of robots a mile under the sea in real time. All of the techniques that make the rov's possible, seals and joints and metallurgy and cool little motors for drives and and and. All of the technology that works the fiber optic link to the surface and the satellite and microwave links from offshore, very high density electronics, algorithms for pulling accurate signal out of orders-of-magnitude-greater noise, and and and. All of the technology that puts the encoded images into an elaborate network (on which we can also watch Jimmy Kimmel make dumb jokes, etc.)

And what are we watching: A robot with a hydraulic torque wrench that spent something like seven hours trying to turn a bolt. Right, all the things you want to say... That bolt is torqued on like a bastard. Duct tape (although it is holding on the socket) and JB Weld ain't gonna do much for ya now. Whatever.

To work effectively in outer space, we had to invent tools. Okay, many of them are adaptations of tools that had before been invented. But we had to come up with ways of turning things when gravity isn't holding the mass of the turner (dude with wrench) against the turning force.

Why didn't we think we would need a genuinely broad range of "competencies" (I'll call them -- and the responses on the board can yell at the word) if we were going to put holes in the bottom of the sea floor to obtain toxic but energy-useful stuff under pressure more thousands of feet down the hole? A LOT more than just being able to punch and case and grout.

One wants to be gentle about it, observe the paradox with some humor, but, just watching the feeds, the technology that is serving us incredible pictures of technological limits and technological failure and technological bad choices should amaze us -- and give us pause.

How many people grumping and bellowing sarcasms are at the same time noting that it might actually have been a lot smarter, when we still had the riser pipe bent over from the top of the well head to have sheared off the torn end pretty close to that far end, then picked up the bent over pipe with a wire from above, and, instead of cutting it anywhere again, tried to flatten it with hydraulics and dull jaws to reduce the flow out it. Or, rather than sticking an "insertion" tube in it, had good ways to put things that sealed around it?

Right, doing so would put more pressure on the well head -- one is constricting the flow; any constriction will mean less pressure is relieved (out into the water, etc.) Right, the casing piece might have cracked, etc. rather than malleably flattened.

But we don't look like we're so good at organizing our stuff as we now look at bolts on the flange atop the wellhead that aren't just torqued to big numbers, we probably can't even get a wrench on them. Hmm. It is worth some humor, and some comments, maybe some of them snarky, but it is also worth some reflection.

Which is NOT to blame the driver of the rov. Who, who knows, may be amused by trying and learning more about maneuvering the arm, etc. It is to blame us as a group, a biig societal group, for getting together to make what we think of (no, screamingly insist upon )as accomplishments and progress, but which are much more "thin" than we have anything like the courage to understand or acknowledge.

Speech over. Thank you for your time. All can go back to garumphing and harranguing.

Ah Yes, again the reference to the space program as the gold standard of How Things Should Be Done.

Well let's have a reminder that despite the application of state of the art processes for safety and quality control this program blew up two space shuttles and immolated 3 astronauts in a capsule sitting on the ground. Apollo 13 came back by virtue of some duct tape, rubber hoses and a plastic bag. It included the development of a process to inspect and repair heat shield tiles in orbit AFTER one of these shuttle disasters. The Hubble repair was just as much an experiment as what is going on in the GOM right now.

So let's not have any cherry picking of history here, and a little more realization that hindsight is 20/20, while foresight is anything but and human beings are not omniscient.

It also provides a object lesson that now matter how much more regulation and safety process is added to offshore drilling there is little doubt in my mind that this won't be the last well to go prang. Murphy was and optimist and Mother Nature, she definitely has her bad days.

I expect the very last GoM well to be drilled in about 25 years (after a decade or so of frantic drilling post-Peak Oil and then a decade or so wind down). There is a finite amount of oil there.

All we have to do is keep it safe, not forever, but just for 25 (or so) more years !


A while back I think I noted that oil production in Texas state waters (10 leagues, not 3 miles out) was almost zero. Just a handful of wells left it seemed. I suspect a depleted oil province that may see a few more wells drilled for small pockets of oil (a la Westexas on land) at very high oil prices and then nothing.

The McMoRan ultradeep Davy Jones play shows that you don't have to drill in deep water with wet trees to find the prolific Miocene sands. However it requires a whole new generation of HPHT iron.

Oil production in Texas state waters (10 leagues, not 3 miles out) was 17,608 barrels and condensate 5,625 barrels for the month of February, 2010. That is 830 barrels/day !


Just 16 wells left producing. A depleted oil province that may see a few more wells drilled for small pockets of oil (a la Westexas on land) at very high oil prices and then nothing.

Note that oil is unlikely to be found much below 15,000' in shallow water. Gas can be MUCH deeper. A blow out from a gas well has much less direct environmental impact.


Hi Alan,

I think you are far,far to optimistic on 25yrs! Within 10 yrs. we will be drilling everything that smells like oil with almost every supplier of crude in production declines over that last three yrs. Only Brazil and Nigeria have had increased production that I know of.

Thank you, Speaker To Animals, for being a voice of reason amidst many here who appear to have abandoned reason in favor of indulging emotion.

Well, the reference is not the the space program as the gold standard of How Things Should Be Done, it is to the environment of space as one that required a broad range of invention in order to be occupied even to the extent that we have. If it is your point that better and more extensive creativity and attention would also have served the space program, I couldn't agree with you more.

Nor was the claim that regulation and "safety process" work any particular magic. Both quite clearly have inverse effects and produce further unintended consequences (rear end accidents go up when they put in stop sign and red light cameras, etc.)

Even if humans are not omniscient, I'm pretty sure I know what the right number of oil spills the size of this one is: zero.

Other wells will go prang. That's not too appealing. Even if it is "human nature" to foul our planet -- it doesn't do much for us.

My two cents, if the ROV can stab a socket on a nut; how about adopting a nut cutter to the control arm of the ROV?

While weight and size is a consideration, the sharp wedge might crack the nut. I have no experience on large fastener, but for small stuff it works. Look in any tool catalog for detail view.

Basically it is a close end wrench with a sharp chisel that is driven into the nut.

Right on Pedrito...Hydraulic nut breakers are common and used in industrial settings where cost of an hour of downtime is 1000's times more than the cost of a removed set of nuts.

I'm remind of a story told me on the Beach in Key West, by my employer at the time, a retired hydraulics engineer who ran a section at Cape Canaveral Space Center.

He took up Tornado catamaran racing late in life and excused getting out of it because, as he quoted one of the successful racers:

"If you don't break something every third race, you ain't racing."

The Space Race, we called it.

The Energy Race (against time and population and Peak Oil?)

Things are gonna break, more and more, sociologically, with wars, environmentally, with Nigeria, for example, and economically, with our double-dipping Depression world wide.

We're in a race with our own instincts from another epoch of evolution. There's no way to handicap the runners, and some legs are gonna get broken.

Or we might invent something and get the Triple Crown World Cup.

I personally think we'll learn to diddle our minds without using so much energy in travel, eating, and showing off our status.


And William James thought of all this in 1905.

The bolts appear to be 1-1/2 which most likely a torque of 250/300 ft.lbs was needed for the gasket seal.

P.S. And I thank God the flow is restricted. I don't even want to think about an un-restricted blow-out, given the containment capability we've seen thus far.

To everyone who thinks we could have had technology in place to fix this well before it was even drilled. You are incorrect. Studies have been done in the past to find generic ways to stop blown out wells from leaking or to recover the oil. Numerous patents have been filed by inventors to solve the problem. These patents have been evaluated by MMS and only a couple found to have some value, but had issues that made it doubtful they could be used.

Bottom line, once the oil starts leaking, IT IS TOO LATE! Want to know in advance how to stop every type of blowout? First, how do you set up a method of testing every conceivable type of blowout at depths measured in thousands of feet below sea level with pressures that can exceed 10,000 psi? There are many blowout scenarios, each with its own issues. Which do you focus your research on? How many 100s of millions of dollars do you spend trying to come up with a solution for a single blowout scenario that you can't test?

MMS knew there was no generic way to stop oil leaking from a blown out well, so did Congress and the oil companies. The only people who did not know were the American people. Our government chose to allow drilling knowing it could go terribly wrong. They simply hoped it would not happen on their watch.

Where does that leave us. First, I would argue our government is as much to blame as BP. BP happened to be the company whose luck ran out. It could have been any other oil company, accidents happen to both bad and good companies. You only have to look at the airline industry for proof of that.

Our government had a choice to force the investment of 100s of millions of dollars into R&D required to IMPROVE EXISTING DRILLING PRACTICES to lower the risk of a blowout to closer to the risk level of nuclear power plants. The results of that R&D would then have imposed substantial additional expense to oil companies drilling practices.

And that's why we are at we are today. Our government did not want to spend the money for R&D and the oil companies did not want to pay for safety improvements that would have come from that R&D. Instead everyone crossed their fingers.

It's time for MMS and Congress to come clean, they had a choice and they chose badly. They must be held accountable.

You can't legislate or regulate a human being's judgement. Remember the term "worm proof"? It doesn't exist in the oil patch. One must constantly have systems in place to keep worms from making catastrophic decisions. In my view, worms are not necessarily new people. They are people who know not the possible consequences of their actions.

A generic fix to the broken well does seem difficult but generic containment and capture systems don't seem impossible and could minimize damage while relief wells are completed.

Something as simple as 20' pipe to shove over everything, that would lead to surface ponds might be worth a look.

An improved "try 1" dome?

A tested sub-sea vacuuming system?

But yea, the ultimate fault is governments, or more precisely the incompatibility of a corporate system in which managers believe that their only responsibility is to stockholders with a deregulatory/self-regulatory philosophy that naively assumes responsible behavior makes such catastrophes inevitable.

Spill, mine disaster, financial meltdown- same root cause.

The invisible hand is punching us in the face.

wrb wrote:

Spill, mine disaster, financial meltdown- same root cause.

The invisible hand is punching us in the face.

What invisible hand do you mean? Oil drilling, mining and the financial sector are all government regulated and controlled.

Man is not omniscient. There will always be accidents -- no level of government control will eliminate them.

There are even accidents under socialist dictatorships wherein every individual in the nation is essentially a slave whose every action is subject to state control. See Chernobyl. See Aeroflot's 120+ airline crashes and nearly 7,000 deaths.

Even when states directly own and operate oil wells, there are accidents. See Ixtoc.

If you think government regulation will eliminate human error, you are kidding yourself.

Governments will not eliminate it, but nor will the "free market" on its own.
At the moment I agree with the numerous contributors, who say BP has the most interest in fixing this spill.

It's all about incentives and if you tweak something here, something unexpected happens there....
How to strike a sensible balance?

Irrational wrote:

Governments will not eliminate it, but nor will the "free market" on its own.

Granted. But what is the evidence that government regulation even makes such accidents less likely?

John Stossel recently showed a politician a graph that showed workplace accident rates falling after the creation of OSHA. The politician immediately claimed the data proved government regulation works. Then Stossel showed the data from the time period preceding the creation of OSHA and workplace accident rates were already falling at the same rate.

What, then, is the evidence that OSHA has improved workplace safety? There isn’t any.

What is the evidence that MMS has made oil well spills less likely?

It is fairly easy to demonstrate that advances in technology have decreased accidents in many industries. But I’ve yet to see evidence that government regulation, by itself, accomplishes very much.

So you believe that if

-BP had been required to drill a relief well concurrently

- A tested containment system was on hand

- The blowout preventer had been demonstrated to work

- it could have been activated from the lifeboat

- it had contained redundant shears

The situation would be unchanged?


The power of zealotry is awesome.

wrb wrote:

So you believe that if

-BP had been required to drill a relief well concurrently

- A tested containment system was on hand

- The blowout preventer had been demonstrated to work

- it could have been activated from the lifeboat

- it had contained redundant shears

The situation would be unchanged?

Certainly the situation would be changed. But we have government regulation now and it didn't call for all of that, now did it?

It is called "regulatory capture". The wall between the regulated and regulators needs to be higher and stronger.

Stronger and meaner regulators with more power, more money (including salaries), more personnel are needed at MMS. Turn MMS into a feared competent agency (like IRS used to be).

And forfeiting the right to work for oil companies# (directly or indirectly) for, say, 7 years after leaving MMS.

# One exemption might be oil companies with no US operations.


And forfeiting the right to work for oil companies# (directly or indirectly) for, say, 7 years after leaving MMS.

And how do you keep competent folks in MMS? That is the delimma of all regulatory body (e.g. SEC for financial industry). Unless US government has raise the pay to the point that it is comparable between regulator and industry with similar experience, there is no way that government can keep the best and brigthest... penny smart and pound foolish

xo -- I know this will sound simplistic but it can be done. I deal with oil field subcontractors and consultants all the time. My company runs a very lean staff so we use an outside engineering company to do the heavy lifting. And how do we motivate them to do top quality work (as well as not taking kickbacks from the suppliers)? Easy: we pay them top dollar with a clear understand that we'll pull those fat checks away if they don't do the right thing. Trust me...they aren’t going to screw the pooch.

Want to make sure the safest drilling protocols are utilized in the drilling of offshore well? Just subcontract well site inspections to an engineering consulting company. And give them the authority to write a $100,000 fine on the spot for safety violations. And if it's a "serious" breach? Shut the rig down for 24 hours. That will cost the operator about $700,000. And arm the inspectors with a new set of regs based upon the best safe drill practices. And how do you ensure they do a great job? Very easy...pay them the highest salaries and benefits seen in the oil patch AND make sure they know they'll lose it all if they don't do an excellent job. And they rotate thru all the offshore operators. So if they want to quit and go to work for ExxonMobil...no problem. They can't play favorites and they have to take a pay cut to boot.

And what would this cost the gov’t? Nothing. The inspector compensation would come from an increase in OCS permit fees. The operators can bitch but the reality would be that this increase would still represent a fraction of 1% of the cost of a typical DW well. So they really can’t offer a logical argument. It might even save the companies money in the long run b reducing accidents and perhaps lower insurance premiums. We’re looking at a 6-month DW drilling moratorium. How long would it take to put such a system together? I could put it in place in 4 months. Would we have no more spills or blowout offshore? No. But the occurrences would be reduced greatly. This would work. I know. I've sat in the company man's offcie more than once and watched arguments lost over safety issues because of monitary considerations. Seen it many times.

And the chance of the gov’t putting such a program in place? Almost zero IMHO.

Is it ok if I believe that

- They could have developed equipment to capture oil from nearly any shattered well head that would have prevented icing?

- They could have developed a system to remove and recap a broken BOP?

- They could have done dispersant research under temperature and pressure to determine what was more harm than good?

- They could have had the equipment that they claimed to have in the region to contain a leak 10X larger than this?

-They could have developed equipment and techniques to track oil rising through the water column?


Or is that also naive to think that a company that makes more money than God could maybe put a bit of contingency research and management into their budget without being forced to like petulent teenagers being told to clean their rooms? I mean, they frequently have small leaks they could have practiced on, if they cared about the small spills beyond increasing the exemptions from federal oversight/reporting.

How much money did BP put into political efforts to reduce/minimize the oversight they recieve? To get additional tax benefits?

Nor evidence to the contrary.
Research gap? ;-)

Irrational wrote:

Nor evidence to the contrary.

Why do you say that? Stossel's evidence is that creation of OSHA had no net effect on the level of workplace accidents.

Stossel has negative credibility. If he says X is true, the odds are Y is true.

MASTER manipulator of statistics ! (as used in lying).

So I surmise that OSHA has increased workplace safety !


I'll bite that Libertarian bait:

OSHA makes good rules. The corporate-controlled bureaucracy doesn't enforce them.

That's not a failure of legislation. It's a failure of enforcement.

Just like immigration, deep water drilling, spill cleanup, airline regulation, train safety, logging, farming, manufacturing.

Dangerous workplaces are profitable workplaces when the danger is socialized, and the profit privatized.

Same continual flaw in Libertarian concepts -- that government is bad.

Try: corporations are not people. Governments must regulate morality.

You not only can legislate morality, you MUST regulate morality. It's what governments do, always have, always will.

To assume otherwise is to build your society on sand.

Sure there will be accidents but they can be made less likely both by regulation & R&D beforhand and by making the consequences such that there is a strong deterrent.

I used to debate this stuff with MBA candidates when I was at university. Many, actually most, were quite fundamentalist about the priority of their ethical obligation to stock brice over everything else. It was unethical, in their opinions, to take into consideration the greater good. A couple once even argued that it would be unethical to not take an action that would result in deaths if it would raise stock prices. It was governments' and societies' job to provide price signals that would render such actions unprofitable. The manager's job is to find and exploit loopholes.

With companies managed by people with such a philosophy, and with those people largely shielded from personal liability, getting equally fundamentalist about deregulation and self-regulation is crazy. Disasters are inevitable. Corporations run as pirate enterprises are inevitable. Someone needs to proved both controls and price signal. It isn't socialism, it is finding a balance that actually functions.

Another approach would be to make managers personally liable change the modern corporation to something more like the founders envisioned- limited, prohibited from engaging in politics and required by law to always act for the public good. I think improving things through R&D and tighter regulation is more achievable at this point though.

I used to debate this stuff with MBA candidates when I was at university. Many, actually most, were quite fundamentalist about the priority of their ethical obligation to stock brice over everything else. It was unethical, in their opinions, to take into consideration the greater good. A couple once even argued that it would be unethical to not take an action that would result in deaths if it would raise stock prices. It was governments' and societies' job to provide price signals that would render such actions unprofitable. The manager's job is to find and exploit loopholes.

I have an MBA and have been in managment for over 30 years and never encountered anyone at any level of mangagment that advocated harming others physcially if it would increase profits.

I suspect what you've written above is a complete fabrication offered in lieu of an actual answer to my points.

Strawman. Of course no one ever says to gain profits by harming anyone. Directly...

The "accidents" are always attributed to acts of God, which is to say, not men.

But men act by omission as well as commission, avoiding responsibility by using the compartmentalization techniques taught by their seniors.

No senior manager ever tells a junior manager to ignore employee harm. He just strongly emphasizes his knowledge that too little attention is being paid to profits.


Meat packing, well drilling, steel mills, coal mines, airline maintenance, production lines of all types, yield more profit if the proverbial blind managerial eye is turned to worker safety.

Do you dispute, @MichaelWSmith, that BP was responsible for a HUGE majority of oil processing accidents, that BP settled large suits about its safety procedures, had a multitude of safety violations?

Do you think any winking and nodding at OSHA regulations went on, there or on the Deepwater Horizon?

Like you, I SUSPECT hanky panky. Unlike you, I know which way it went. Constant tension between the RockMan types and the managerial types. Safety versus production/profit.


If you tell me that you really think that elimination of human error is the purpose of government regulation, you are lying to me. You are obviously too well educated, too pat in your lines, to be other than a paid shill for industry.

Look at what you said: 'There will always be accidents -- no government control will eliminate them.' Then you set up the "Socialist Dictatorship Strawman." No one was advocating state socialism, and yet asked us to... Fear! Fear! (I could debate you on whether democratic Socialism is better than Corporate Capitalism, but that is a topic for another day and definitely another website!)

And expropriation as another strawman: 'Even when states directly owns...'

And your final statement... how ludicrous. No one expects this, and yet you set it out as though you have accomplished some intellectual feat. No one, but you, is so stupid (at least not on TOD, as you would know if you had been reading it for more than a week and 2 days) as to believe that anything could eliminate human error, and no one on this site is going to kid themselves! That is one reason why most of us read TOD on a regular basis - it clears the air and lets us avoid such tomfoolery.

So, stow your corporatist BS and read with an open mind. Think (strange thing for you to do, but give it a try, you might even enjoy it) for yourself as you do it. Rid your mind of your prejudices and preconceptions. You might even learn a thing or two.

Best wishes for kidding yourself.


Whoa. Wait a minute. The whole idea of self-regulation and competitive enterprise is that when Company A screws up, they go to the wall. Share price collapses, asset sales or bankruptcy looms. Insurers re-price risk. Government can't regulate better than a market. NOCs are a snake pit of corruption, nepotism, malinvestment and waste.

You notice a lot of big US companies going to the wall when they screw up big time? "Too big to fail" fits in this fantasy how? GM, Chrysler, all of Wall St., etc. Our corporate owned system is the definition of corruption.

Kind of like how Goldman has suffered for being a leading cause of the financial meltdown?

It is quite possible to be a successful pirate wreaking tremendous damage to others while externalizing the costs and reaping profits.

Goldman would have collapsed without government bailout.

This is both true and false. GS did not need a dime out of AIG. It's the people who would have been severely damaged by an AIG bankruptcy - Goldman Sachs was fully hedged against that possibility and would have been completely unharmed - that eventually might have done in Goldman Sachs - along with ALL the rest of us.

wrb wrote:

It is quite possible to be a successful pirate wreaking tremendous damage to others while externalizing the costs and reaping profits.

It is not possible under laissez-faire capitalism, where government has no power to regualte or control economic activity -- only under a statist government whose regulations and controls on the economy can be lobbied, manipulated and bribed into favoring the pirates while penalizing us.

avonaltedorf: Where were you on September 16, 2008 when Reserve Primary Fund "broke the buck"? And the TED spread went to 4.65?

I dunno. Perth? Tripoli? London? Made money shorting Boeing, I remember that much. And I never had any expectation, much less asserting a right (!) to guaranteed risk-free investment. Let's not wander off topic too far. Can MMS clerks supervise OCS wildcats and make deepwater exploration foolproof? Heck no. Safety depends on rig owners, crews, lenders and vendors whose survival (physically and financially) is at stake.

you're not asking me i know, but I was working on the third floor of a gutted 1840's townhouse that was once the most notorious brothel in New Orleans when the credit market for commercial paper froze up. Terrifying and exciting at the same time.

EL, you sly one! Almost no one knows the buck was broken and fewer understand the meaning ha! You are so, so RIGHT! That one fact lead me to some very profitable put options ha! Sad, nothing has changed since that day and the odds of another broken buck in M.M. funds sooner than later?

On September 17, 2008 I was hiding under my bed. That was my put option. The VIXX looked like the EKG of a person having multiple strokes. But we digress.

NOCs are a snake pit of corruption, nepotism, malinvestment and waste.

Contra-examples, each at least as good as Exxon-Mobil (and certainly better than BP !)

Saudi Aramco (likely most capable oil company in world)
StatOil Hydro


Alan, he's fishing and we are biting.

Oh, and these guys don't view SA as an NOC because it is owned by individuals (the Saudi princes), in their opinion, and private property is their God.

There are a bunch of newbies here who all came on within a few days of one another; they are 'backstopping' each other. I think we have been subverted by the far right!


Let's make a deal. You don't speak for me, and I won't try to put words in your mouth. Aramco is certainly a National Oil Company, couldn't function without expat engineers and contractors like Halliburton.

I stand corrected, and a bit surprised. Just getting a bit perplexed at the amount of politico/economic drivel that I am seeing.

And you are correct that Aramco could not function without Bechtel, Halliburton and the like. Evidently neither could BP. I fail to see the relevance.


I think it is fair to say that Saudi Aramco is the most self sufficient (although even they still need contractors) oil company in the world. *LOTS* of in-house capability.

PetroBras may be #2, especially in deep water. They work with contractors too, of course.


I could write a book on this. This is the wrong site. Go to some political / economic philosophy site.

How many other indsutry shills have been hired to propagate your endless BS? You guys make some wild assertion, then when someone takes you to task another of you responds with another thinly disguissed assertion of the same crap. No one is urging nationalization... we are demanding instead responsibility. This is something you phoney free market advocates don't understand. You want profits, but not loss. Just like the big banks, GM, AIG, Golden Sacks and the rest. You have no principals except your greed, and you try to convice people that it is good. You are wrong!

The difference between NOCs and oil corporations is that the corruption is directed to the benefit of people who 'own' the government (nepotism, as yous aid). It is as bad with corporations, except that the largess flows to the executives first, and then to shareholders. Your industry roots are showing!

Issues here: simply put, was BP negligent? Was their negligence beyond ordinary? Are they prevaricating? Are they paying what they owe? How much do they owe? Would better regulations help? If so, how should they be written? Were regulations ignored due to collusion by MMS? If so, how do we clean up MMS?

Secondary issues: How to stop the flow of oil into the GOM, How to clean up the mess, and

Tertiary issue: Is maintaining business as usual worth the cost? If so, how should the cost be paid? How about a big old TAX on you.

In fact, from now on when I see this type of garbage on TOD that will be my response.

Tax on you!


Craig, I've given this much thought. I can understand that it's distasteful (and expensive for TOD) to have a lot of new users. So, I'll log off with a final post, to answer your questions from the hated private property angle.

No one hired me to participate. The loss of Deepwater Horizon affects all of us, some more directly than others. It was a body blow to G&G.

Was BP negligent? Absolutely. Beyond ordinary? Yes. Prevaricating? Yes. I suggested that BP Houston destroyed e-drill data and documents. How much do they owe? Maybe $50 billion.

Would better regulations help? No. I suggested that BP's assets be seized for surety, BP fired as operator, and subsea intervention put out to bid.

Was there collusion at MMS? No. It doesn't matter whether the agency is split in two and more frequent offshore inspections conducted. Rockman can tell you about safety. Has nothing to do with regulations and everything to do with backbone. That's why Harrell belongs in prison IMHO.

How to clean up the Gulf. Military commander and National Guard. Send the bill to BP and Transocean as jointly responsible for creating a nuisance, health hazard, environmental disaster.

Taxes? Rotsa ruck.

Alan von Altendorf

Craig wrote:

This is something you phoney free market advocates don't understand. You want profits, but not loss. Just like the big banks, GM, AIG, Golden Sacks and the rest.

And you are so hysterical you don't know what you are talking about.

On a truly free market, there is no power to transfer losses to others. Only when government itervenes in the market to "bail out businesses" can such a transfer of losses occur -- and it is precisely such "bailing out" that we genuine free market advocates oppose.

"On a truly free market..."

What is a "market," Michael? Is it a tangible thing, like a rock, a river, a human hand or brain?

Where do markets, if they exist, come from? Who or what creates them?

Where, for that matter, does "private property" come from? Is it ordained by a god or an immutable law of physics?

Or, do both of these "things" exist only by virtue of community agreements? If so, why would a community agree to recognize and protect them?

Craig wrote:

No one is urging nationalization... we are demanding instead responsibility

I didn't accuse you of "urging nationalization" -- and I am in favor of, not opposed to,/i>, making BP accept full responsibility for this spill.

The issue is whether or not the solution to oil spills is greater government regulation. I merely pointed out that even in the presence of TOTAL government regulation, accidents still happen.

Agreed. "Blowups Happen" (credit: Robert A. Heinlein, 1940, 1946)

Hopefully there not be total government regulation, since that by definition is nationalization.

OTOH, that is not a good argument against any regulation, any more than starvation is the answer to overeating.


'If you think government regulation will eliminate human error, you are kidding yourself.'

In this case there was no Human error, let's not forget corners were cut here.

Craig, I would have to agree with Your 'paid shills' analysis. They stick out like a sore thumb.

Paid shills provide a valuable resource in that they make arguements that might not otherwise be addressed.

Except that they create straw men, work on biased studies, and their goal is to confuse, not to instruct. We saw it with the tobacco industry, with climate change, and with evolutionary science. They are professional confusers...

Not to say that at some time an industry shill might not be correct. I mean, even a broken watch is correct twice a day.


They are professional confusers...

Amen! I would also add "professional fearmongers", "professional Sophists" and "professional liars".

If an industry shill comes up with any valid points or useful questions, it is invariably by pure accident.

recklesslife wrote:

In this case there was no Human error, let's not forget corners were cut here.

Even if that is true, so what? It doesn't change the fact that none of you can present evidence that government regulation works to achieve what its advocates claim.

"Free Markets" are mythical beasts like unicorns and Kräkens, they have never existed and cannot exist because competitive markets tend toward monopolies at which point participants demand protection, and toward customer abuse (think weights and measures and useless or harmful additives) and customers demand standard weights and measures and consumer protection. This is what happens in the Real World as opposed to the world of Economic Ideological Fantasy.

In the real world regulation saves lives, building codes for instance. Much of building code deals with fire safety, for both inhabitants and responders. Much of food and consumer protection regulation is a direct result of a company or corporation endangering consumers with harmful ingredients or designs.

There is another purpose for regulation. Because government inevitably becomes involved due to the excesses of market participants, regulations limit liability and keep the pitchforks away. Regulations require efforts toward safety but save the corporation from extinction... usually. Unless the corporation is criminal or seriously stupid, or possibly unlucky in being engaged in a dangerous occupation that nobody understood was dangerous until many people got sick or something blew up.

Labor regulations are pretty much the same deal, and there is no need to go on. Free Market Fundamentalism is like any other fundamentalism and is just as free of relation to real world reality.

Craig wrote:

You are obviously too well educated, too pat in your lines, to be other than a paid shill for industry.

That's a lame attempt at ad hominem.

The rest of your comment is incoherent and undeserving of reply.

The fix is easy (on the next deep well ha)! The fix is to drill two relief wells in conjuction with the discovery/production wells!

Pardon me if this is an ignorant remark, but wouldn't that just triple the odds of a blow-out occurring?

While its true that some administrations have been pro-drilling and anti-regulation, (naming no names), remember that the oil companies pay big bucks for lobbyists to block anti-drilling and regulated-drilling legislation in congress. Just last year, the oil and gas industry reported spending $169 million in lobbying expenses — nearly eight times the $21.9 million spent by the environmental movement. BP spent $15.9 million in 2009, ranking second behind ConocoPhillips, according to the nonpartisan watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics.

Much as I like Obama, he's not entirely innocent - and, as we know, kowtowed to the pro-drilling congressmen to get the energy package accepted. He won't make that mistake again.

Here's a link to where some of that money has gone. http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2010/05/will_political_donatio...

I don't know if he has any choice but to "make that mistake" again. The votes weren't there for climate change legislation without the oil, coal and nuke concessions.

Ironically this disaster appears to have made this step to wean ourselves off hydrocarbons harder, not easier.. I haven't seen any denialst senators come out for cap and trade or a carbon tax but now some who were on board, like Bill Nelson, say they won't vote for a bill that expands drilling.

So we're stuck.

Obama was the #1 Senate recipient of BP money in 2008 (McCain was predictably #2). Kinda surprised this hasn't been a bigger story. Obama voted for at least one of the big Bush energy bills during his short time in the Senate. People have this commie pinko socialist treehugger image of the guy, which IMO is completely misplaced.

People have this commie pinko socialist treehugger image of the guy, which IMO is completely misplaced.

Boy, have you got that right! The supreme irony is that the interests of average Americans would be better served if the guy *really were* a "pinko socialist treehugger". Then we might get some genuine regulation of Wall Street, a public/Medicare option for all, or scale back the size of our bloated military vs. expanding it.

PriorityX, you make some good points. But this rig was not quite on the technological frontier. Wells have been drilled and produced in "deep water" for how long, 10-20 years? And this is the first mistake that has made the news, because most of the time people got it right. Until now.

The mistakes that were made this time (ignoring the pressure tests, operating with non-working BOP, circulating out the mud) cannot be fixed by throwing more money at technology.

Why not?

Hi marzolian,

Unfortunately this is the mistake that made the news but there have been plenty of extremely close calls before it.


There you will find some real horror stories. There are plenty more at the MMS website and many dangerous close calls that never resulted in a reportable failure. Those are the stories that guys like ROCKMAN never forget.

Human error is just as capable of improvement as is improvements in technology and procedures. This study shows it is possible to deal with human error scientifically. We don't have to throw up our hands and say it is beyond our control.


BOPS's have a horrendous reliability record. The report below is for just two years, 1997 and 1998 and covers only 83 wells. There were 117 BOP failures!

Deepwater Kicks and BOP Performance

Again, to all who will listen. Once a well blows out, it is too late. MMS has spent the last twenty-five years looking at ways to fix blow outs and capture leaking oil. THEY CAME UP WITH NOTHING!!! You will see in their studies solutions like the ones showing up on TOD every day. They all have been discarded by MMS long ago as not being feasible.

That's why BP has not been able to stop the leak, or capture the majority of the leaking oil until last weekend. BP and the other engineers working with them have, what everyone considered previously, an impossible task to solve. The next blowout will be likely be different, God only knows if there will be anything we can do next time other than wait for a relief well.

There will be another blowout in the GOM unless changes are made in the equipment, procedures, and policies. When you look at the actual accident rate, and how many times in the past those accidents came close to turning into what we are dealing with today, it should make your skin crawl.

MMS knows this, our government knows this, the oil companies know this. The people who depend on the GOM for their living were considered expendable when compared to the amount of money needed to invest in appropriate safety improvements in offshore drilling. If the people of the GOM don't come to grips with this and hold Congress and the Administration accountable, this will happen again. It is time to turn the focus away from BP and put it squarely on the politicians.

Given that methane hydrate ice sticking to surfaces has stymied two previous collection attempts, I'd like to see research on materials that hydrates don't stick to, or methods of reducing the adherence of hydrate ice.

Something as simple as buying a non-stick frying pan in a store and getting a ROV to hold it in the oil plume and observe whether the hydrate ice sticks. If the ice sticks, bang the frying pan or shake it with a vibrating device to see if the hydrates can be shaken free.

There'll never be a better opportunity to conduct tests in a real-world situation. Dr Chu should commandeer the resources and enforce an extensive research program.

I see theguyfromsaturn already made the point that R&D is needed on controlling the formation of methane hydrates.

I sure hope they do not give up on this just because the socket they tried did not fit. It was obvious after the first 10 minutes that it was either too small, or too tight to slide on over the paint, burrs, and other minor obstructions on the bolt head.

There is some amazingly high tech stuff going on down there. Getting a socket to fit over the head of a bolt is not high tech. It just needs to be of the right size, and it needs to be a loose enough of a fit to ease the difficulties of doing it with an ROV. A few minutes topside with a die grinder could make a correctly sized socket very ROV friendly. The paint marks were a helpful visual aid, but some thoughtfully ground ramps into the socket face would have made it self aligning.

I hope they go back to this, because being able to bolt stuff on to a flange opens up all sorts of leak free possibilities for containing the oil and diverting it into vessels. While it may not be advisable to try and shut in the well, some valves and piping to direct where the flow goes would be a huge help.

Go down to Harbor Freight Tools, get a 3 3/4 socket (instead of the 3 11/16), and try again guys! At least get a socket on a bolt and see if the ROV can loosen one with that wrench before giving up.

Harbor Freight does not stock anything over 1" drive as far as I can see. I think the socket in the picture is a 1-1/2" drive impact socket from Wright Tools.

Replacing the riser while the oil is gushing is probably out of the question anyway. The BOP was their last line of defense for an accident of this magnitude, and it failed. What really gets me is that they don't drill relief wells "before" a disaster like this strikes and use it as an added insurance... it would sure be magnitudes cheaper than the costs that they're dealing with now. I've read somewhere that Canada has laws requiring relief wells being drilled parallel in operations like these and I find it very wise.


I stayed up way too late watching them try to get the bolt out. Maybe next time they should but an acorn style nut. that would help guide the socket.

I'm no PB Engineer but it would help. Right now I have no love lost between me and BP. I am down here and see the bumbling way they are going about this. They boom oil with no thought about picking it up. I have been trying to finish up on a compressor install and can't because the Bay is full of oil.

Sorry, just venting

Sorry if I missed a prior answer to this (I've read nearly everything for the last couple weeks, but doubtless have missed a few here and there)....

What is the reason that the gas is merely flared rather than stored? Are there just not ships equipped to do compression or liquification? I know liquification equipment is small enough to fit on a ship, but perhaps not at the capacity required?

Or is it just too dangerous to mess with in a situation like this?

Thanks to all who make this such a great list!


fd -- The process of storing NG as LNG requires a huge amount of hardware. And it is not a fast process. And just venting the NG is very dangerous...very explosive. Flaring isn't very green but venting is much worse.

I might add that methane is something like 21 times as bad a global warming gas as CO2. Burning methane in the presence of oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water. So burning methane mitigates the global warming effect of the release.

I was curious if the limitation they are currently facing is the amount of NG that the rig can flare.

Anyone have any idea as to what the maximum cf of NG that drilling rig can flare in one day?

Someone asked for the list of feeds in the previous thread; here they be:


That was me, thanks. I tried the other link showing all the cameras running at the same time and my computer spontaneously rebooted, so I was about to ask for a different link when I saw this one.

There are numerous links for all cameras at once

Here is another one:


and here's one that updates the photos once per minute and will link to a live flow upon a click on an image ... it's been much less problematic for my computer and yet allows me a quick glance at what is going on.



Thanks very much for that link...

I'm on a 24K dialup and it allows me to keep my eye on things... which I couldn't do with live feeds.

Peter B.


OMG, I'm not the only one! - my sympathies. I can do some of the feeds one at a time - they buffer and take forever but have been able to watch more than I should lol, not getting much real work done.

A link rainyday provided here on TOD today was very useful for me since I'm on a slow dialup connection:


It is a composite (mapped) still image of all the BP/Akamai live feeds... linking to the feeds themselves when individual images are clicked.

The page reloads every 60 seconds.


I've now adapted the original slightly and mirrored it here:


The modified page also reloads every 60 seconds.

Individual images link to Akamai mirrors of BP live feeds.

Text links with ROV labels (below the images) link direct to BP live feeds.

Numbered images correspond to Akamai link references... which correlate to ROV 'identities'.


Hope this helps others with low bandwidth connections.

Peter B.


I'm also on dialup. This page is a godsend. Thanks.

Now I can see that I was caught out yesterday when I asserted the plume was diminishing because the lower fins were more visible. They appear and disappear frequently. I think it's because undersea currents eddy around the BOP, pushing the plume now one way, now the other.

From Dr. Samantha Joye's Gulf Oil Blog:

The dreary conditions mirrored how I felt after spending 8 hours trying to find something I knew was there. I thought the plume had moved to the east but it turned out that it had moved south. So much for intuition!

Presumably the deep currents move about rather like a meandering river, carrying the plume with them. (This is the deep ocean oil mist plume, not the main rising plume we see on the video feeds.)

BP knows the flow rate of the oil

To determine the flow rate of the oil, you need to know three things:

(1) The velocity of the material coming out of the BOP

(2) The ratio of gas to oil

(3) The diameter of the exit orifice

BP very likely measured (1) when the riser was removed, creating a single leak atop the BOP, where a flow sensor could have been positioned. The gas/oil ratio (2) has been determined on the surface by the flaring and oil capture processing operation. The BOP pipe diameter (3) has been known from the start.

Thus one can conclude that BP is suppressing accurate information about the magnitude of oil leakage into the GOM in order to protect its profitability and institutional survival. This behavior is contrary to the public interest, and the refusal of the Obama administration to demand this information confirms that corporations dominate our society, both on Wall Street and in the energy sector.

Im right there with you-My post from very late yesterday:
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 dont 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. Unnacceptable oversight again!

I don't think it's as simple as you guys think it is to measure flow. Velocity x Area to get volume and thus determine flow rate is what Mr. Wereley from Purdue used to determine the flow was 70,000bpd, and after the insertion tube was put in, he claimed the flow was much higher than 70,000bpd. Funny how all the media hype of this huge number disappeared (as did Mr. Wereley) from the public/media when the government released their 12,000bpd - 19,000bpd estimate. I've used this method before to approximate flows in the controlled environment of a class/lab, but one must assume a relatively constant laminar flow and a consistent fluid. The turbulent nature of the oil/gas billowing out of the riser makes it very difficult to determine how much of the velocity is due to turbulence. The partially closed BOP also doesn't help as it adds a constriction point which would increase the velocity, and one has to determine if the distance between the constriction and the exit into the ocean is enough for it to return to a steady flow. Another factor to consider is the natural gas to oil ratio is probably far from consistent. I would think some days it may be only 30% nat gas and others days it could be 60%. That's just an assumption on my part, hopefully someone more familiar with the oil/gas industry can correct me if I'm wrong.

I think the assumption of 5k bpd per valve is a bad assumption. First of all it isn't a linear relationship, second, how do you know the 5k additional flow is from closing the valve alone, and not simply opening the valve at the top to allow more oil flow. I'm not saying it is 12k-19k bpd, but there are too many unknowns to make any good conclusions at this point, and I believe the federal government and BP has many more accurate methods to determine the flow rate.

"Funny how all the media hype of this huge number disappeared (as did Mr. Wereley) from the public/media when the government released their 12,000bpd - 19,000bpd estimate

It is not suprising that the meida has been quiet on the issue. They have done very little investigative jounalism throughout this crisis and continue to little more than echo BP press releases given out by BP.

While the media has been quiet on Wereley's original estimates it is not true that Wereley has disappeared.

I you dig a little farther than your typical mainstream media new sources you will find

He is actually part of the one of the three teams that forumulated the new Government estimates.

If you dig a little further than the typical mainstream media you will quickly find that members of his team have spoken out against the estimates given of only 12,000 - 19,000 barrels per day and have warned those numbers are only an absolute minimum based on low quality data and will be revised significantly upwards

Wereley and Leifer were both members of that team, and Leifer participated in the satellite image analysis as well. Both researchers say that the seven minutes of video that BP provided to the plume team was not sufficient to estimate the upper boundary of the amount of oil -- only to give a lower-end estimate.

"What everyone on the panel agreed was that due to the low-quality data BP provided to us, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to estimate an upper bound to the emission," said Leifer. "So what we presented in the [plume team] report is a range of expert opinions on what the lower bound is."

Wereley said he was surprised to see the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels and was "disappointed" with the way that the press release was phrased.

"I was really confused when I read the press release yesterday," he said. "I had to read it several times."

The Thad allen has even increased the upper bound of the lower bound to 25,000 barrels per dayadmist news that BP is collection 10 - 15K barrels per day.

I took a critical look at the at the press release that reported the new Government estimates and quickly come to the conclusion that the new estimates where flawed. There are many flaws (IMO) of the way the 12,000 - 19,000 BPD estimate was derived, mainly that the aerial analysis team was given only a small sample of overflight data to make their conclusion and where forced to make their estimate of the amount of oil on the surface of the entire Gulf from that limited sample.

While I am very speculative in my claims I am not alone. CBS news has launched an investigationinto why the new government estimates where lowballed.

The Coast Guard admiral also addressed the controversy over how much oil has come out of the well on a daily basis, sticking by estimates from 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day despite reports by CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson which question those figures.

I am not an expert but I did spend a night at a Motel 6. Am a farm boy who escaped the farm with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

I had not looked at the videos since the well head was "hooded" with the top hat. Looking at the videos this morning, I envision a circle of 15-1 gallon milk jugs in the oil escaping. These milk jugs rise at a rate of more than one milk jug height per second. With this visual, the leak rate is more than 15 gal/sec, 900 gal/min, 1,296,000 gal/day or a minimum of 30,800 barrels per day into the Gulf by my eyeball farm boy estimate.

With another 10,000 barrels per day being captured at the surface, the restriction in the well must be eroding.

If your 30000 BPD volume is correct and the source volume is 2/3 gas, then there is another 10k BPD of oil still leaking. This would indicate that the current containment is about half of the oil.

10K barrels leaking, and 10K captured. That fits in pretty well with the FRT estimates.

Excellent point! I have asked what the likely sand content of the oil is? There could be salt as well at this reservoir level.

Tell me exactly where I can buy a probe type flow sensor that works accurately in the presence of turbulent mixed gas - liquid flow that is undergoing phase transitions from a supercritical liquid to gas - liquid at a depth of 5000'. Not to mention the flow has two velocity regions - the region being emitted from the drill pipe and that from the somewhat crimped riser.

Oh and the idea of the use of velocity to measure mass flow rate in a compressible system under unknown pressure - that is obviously not going to work.

But don't let the physics bother you. It gets in the way of the conspiracy theories.

Notice that the Flow Rate Team guys haven't said anything about this yet. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

"...Oh and the idea of the use of velocity to measure mass flow rate in a compressible system under unknown pressure - that is obviously not going to work."

Why is the pressure in the flow stream unknown? And as far as measuring flow goes, why wouldn't a pitot tube with HG column work? All you are measuring is the difference in pressure between the flowing fluid (methane/oil mix) and the static ambient fluid (sea water). Take an average pressure reading over a couple minutes to make up for slight changes in methane state (liquid/dissolved versus gas). Ambient pressure does not much matter here. The only variable is the density question that may be solved by knowing methane/oil ratio of fluid captured by the tanker ship.

Sure some variation in flow is due to the phase change of methane as it accelerates out of the riser flange, but the velocity is only in one direction - up. So measuring flow to some degree of accuracy is possible.

And as far as measuring flow goes, why wouldn't a pitot tube with HG column work?

Because using a Pitot tube in compressible flow requires being able to determine the stagnation pressure. Good luck with that in this system.

The most important information has been suppressed

BP now has controlled apertures on the top hat to which it can affix instrumentation and/or capture mechanisms. Please tell me why flow rate cannot be measured at these apertures or at the end of piping attached to them. The oil/gas ratio will be the same at all of these tap points, and it is already being monitored at the surface, so the only value that needs to be measured is the velocity of the flow, and this can be crudely established by timing the filling of a large bladder or tank attached to one of the top cap outlets.

Every other comment on TOD concerns estimating the flow. There is ample theoretical and technical capability for measuring the flow. Yet there is no reliable measurement of the flow of this disastrous leak. The absence of this measurement is a calculated decision to protect political and financial interests, not a failure of technology.

The absence of this measurement is a calculated decision to protect political and financial interests, not a failure of technology

right.. and it has nothing to do with the flow mix and speed change from one instance to another.. How do you get an average flow rate by using the video and just watch it for 15 minutes?? And how do you mesure the mixture of oil/gas/water mixture? that sound like a phd thesis type of problem.. Not for someone who stay in holiday inn overnight... Except that every joe six pack think the problem is just solving a simple equation that can be done in a few minutes.. Did anyone notice that the government project of data has a such big variance from the low to big that pretty much said it is a WAG.. And we all know better, right....

Frankly, I am tired of hearing endless excuses that the flow rate is difficult to measure.

The intervention team NEEDS good data on the composition, characteristics, and volume of the flow in order to come up with effective strategies to capture the flow and process it safely and effectively. They need information on the flow rate and how it changes following their various interventions, and whether base flow from the well is increasing in order to judge the effectiveness and consequences of their actions. Either they have this data and have been collecting it over time (there has been ample opportunity, and given that they have successfully captured flow both from the RIT effort and the current cap they must know the flow composition) or they are fools flailing blindly without a clue.

It is also important to know what the subsea release rate is and how much is reaching the surface in order to understand the consequences of such a leak and accurately characterize the environmental impact.

The fact that this is a matter of debate more than a month into this affair is both ridiculous and unbelievable.

Sorry to let reality intrude into your life.

It is your assertions that smack of fantasy in this case SA.

To imply bp's engineers do not know to a fairly high precision the flow rate now, and the flow rates historically is to question their intelligence, competency and their technological capability.

Some people (who are primarily bp apologists) are trying to tell you they are too stupid to figure this out. They are not stupid, and I am not going to sit here and let them bad-mouth bp!

Just one example: in order to proceed with the Top Kill operation and to know what pressures and volumes to pump without damaging the well, they understood to a pretty high degree of certainty the pressure and flow regime. That is why they didn't want to provide specifics on flow rates and volumes, because armed with that information it would be a fairly trivial matter for other scientists outside of the bp/government sphere to work out the previous leak rate in the tangled and constricted riser/drill pipe post blowout asbuilt. That leak rate would be very close to their pumping rate during top kill (with some calculation to account for the difference in viscosity and density of the mud compared to oil/gas, and the pressure present in the mud column at the seafloor). That would be on a volumetric basis. From there, you would need to know the relative percentages of gas to oil, volumetrically.

Bottom line, from the scant information provided, I revised my estimate from 40-50K bbl/day a week before Top Kill to about 30K bbl/day. I'm still thinking that is a pretty good number. It also corresponds to the government's self-described low end estimates of 11,000 (still operational?) to 19,000 (or was that 25,000) bbl/day.

So despite the fact that the government put together a panel of the top people in this field, who have been working on this question for weeks and have only been able to come up with obviously very uncertain numbers covering very a wide range, BP is some how been able to determine the flow rates to a "high degree of precision"? And BP employees have perjured themselves in Congressional hearings by not disclosing this?

It that your theory?

Or perhaps you would like to go with the idea that the government and BP both know the flow rates to a high degree of accuracy, and are engaging in a conspiracy to hide the information? If so that still means perjury.

My theory is that they may not have known initially what the flow rates were (at the time of the congressional hearings), but they certainly knew before they attempted the Top Kill, and they certainly knew after Top Kill. By "they", I mean the engineers who were designing and planning that operation. That information could certainly been segmented so that people testifying need not perjure themselves.

As for the government panel's estimates, did you read what they actually did? Did you read that they were upset because they weren't given enough information from bp to do anything more than a guesstimate lower limit?

So let me ask, is your theory that bp was so incredibly irresponsible that they risked destroying the BOP and outer casing (and an out of conrol blown apart well) by NOT knowing what pressures and volumes to pump and not exceed during Top Kill?

Is that YOUR theory?

Sorry, I would prefer to assume that they are careful and competent, YMMV.

So let me ask, is your theory that bp was so incredibly irresponsible that they risked destroying the BOP and outer casing (and an out of conrol blown apart well) by NOT knowing what pressures and volumes to pump and not exceed during Top Kill?

I believe that they were capable of measuring pressures at some places in the BOP. Flow rates? That's a different hill of beans.

They spent a lot of time peering into the interior of the BOP using XRay and Gamma Ray imaging before doing the top kill. That plus the known design limits of the system give a picture of what is safe. Knowing the existing pressure on the system doesn't tell you what is safe, and it especially doesn't tell you what is safe after pumping a lot of abrasive mud through it.

Did you read that they were upset because they weren't given enough information from bp to do anything more than a guesstimate lower limit?

Do you have reference to any statement from the FRT that they believed BP was holding back information? I'm not talking about press theories or whining on blogs. I'm talking about primary sources making the accusation.

Here are two primary sources on the FRT team, saying exactly what I said they said. As for doing your homework for you, you are welcome.


Wereley and Leifer were both members of that team, and Leifer participated in the satellite image analysis as well. Both researchers say that the seven minutes of video that BP provided to the plume team was not sufficient to estimate the upper boundary of the amount of oil -- only to give a lower-end estimate.

"What everyone on the panel agreed was that due to the low-quality data BP provided to us, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to estimate an upper bound to the emission," said Leifer. "So what we presented in the [plume team] report is a range of expert opinions on what the lower bound is."

Wereley said he was surprised to see the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels and was "disappointed" with the way that the press release was phrased.

"I was really confused when I read the press release yesterday," he said. "I had to read it several times."

An official from Department of the Interior agreed that the plume analysis did not set an upper limit on the amount of oil spilled, but said that the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day was based on the area of overlap between the three different methods of estimating the flow.

But Leifer said that he thought combining the analyses this way was comparing apples to oranges.

That link has already been posted here at TOD.

So, as for what is safe, yes, I'm glad we agree they knew what pressures were safe and were able to monitor those. I also hope you understand the concept that in order to reach those pressures they needed to replace the volumetric flow going out of the well with the same volume of mud, plus enough extra mud to travel down the well and kill it. Otherwise they couldn't reach pressures overcoming the pressures in the asbuilt well complex at the seafloor.


Look, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I actual believe bp knows what they are doing (mostly). That is in contrast to those who think otherwise (as in thinking they don't have a good handle on the pressure and flow rates).

Look, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I actual believe bp knows what they are doing (mostly).

Likewise... but maybe I think they know a bit less. This entire fiasco rings of hubris on the part of BP, and of MMS. Excess certainty and a limited human ability on the part of so many resulted in this unintended, but entirely foreseeable mess.

Old SF readers might recall "Blowups Happen." Well, blowouts happen. Happened.


Usually it is up to the claimant to come up with the evidence to back his claims. It is not my homework to do. It is yours.

But - you completely failed to come up with evidence to back your thesis.

Nowhere in that information is there any statement that the FRT thought BP was holding back data they could use to better estimate the flowrate.

Yes they stated they would like better data. Scientists will always say that. That's why we are constantly building new telescopes and particle colliders. What they didn't say is that they thought BP was holding back.

What you need to make your point is some hard information that BP knows that flow rate to a "high degree of accuracy" as you have claimed.

Not true at all... there are all kinds of complaints from the flowrate team the BP was holding back data that could be used to make better estimates.

For example:

“limited window of data in time to choose from, getting good lighting and unobstructed views of the end of the riser, and estimating how much of that flow is oil, gas, hydrates, and water.”

Why was the team given a 7 minute grainy video to work with which offeren an obstructed view, low lighting and not the proper access to measure the oil to gas ratio?

I believe they used an internal rate estimate that had a range of 4-15 K. I believe the gov guys there knew how they got it . I think they would never have gotten the go ahead to try the RITT if they thought it was much higher. Shelburn et al have guessed the flow rate had been increasing over time. That adds a wrinkle to it as does the effect of the top kill and riser cut on flow.
The flow team had all the information they needed from BP but also took the surface observations and video to get a number. Our Purdue friend got a total of about 10k BOPD by correlating fluid escape to RIT volumes then adding the riser leak. (Again I still have not seen adjustments over time which could have been significant. I know they are looking at it).
I think the simulations given the pressures and fluids probably were marginal for the top kills working given the constraints they had. The well control contractors would have been advising on that. I think it has been clear that everybody is worried about the down hole situation and the BOP condition. If the pre-cut flow was really as high as some have quoted I doubt they would have cut the riser or tried the other methods
Unless the flow increased a lot over time or much more than had been posited it would after the riser cut,I would think they actually felt 10-20k before the cut and 12-24k after. Just my guess from reading between the lines and listening to all the briefings and hearings.

It is entirely possible that flow increased due to the abrasive action of entrained sand, debris and methane hydrates. It is also entirely possible that flow decreased due to entrained rock debris and actions by bp.

A possibly mixed bag. But it is impossible for anyone outside of bp to know one way or the other, since they aren't sharing much useful information (regardless of why that is).

I think it is pretty clear that they knew they had significant flow past the riser insertion tool. I think they knew pretty well what the visible flow rates were. I think it is pretty clear that they had done a lot of diagnostic testing (with imaging equipment, etc.) and used what knowledge they could glean from the well construction and reservoir data to model the flow rates. The main variables were how much losses were occuring down-hole, short-circuiting somehow in the annular space between the inner and outer casing and into other formations and loss zones.

For bp, this event is priority numero uno with a huge bullet and the resources/horsepower that a company like bp can bring to bear in modelling a flow regime problem like this is really staggering. Reservoir modelling is super computer territory and they can buy all the time they want (and already do). Estimating the pressure and flow regime in this blown out well is hardly the most difficult model bp has encountered. Remember, this kind of problem is within bp's core competency.

Of course, as a reality check, you could use empirical numbers from Ixtoc. That number was approximately 30,000bbl/day before attempts to seal the well reduced it to 10,000bbl/day (sorry, google your own links). Ixtoc was at much shallower total depth, and so less pressure than this well. Is there a reason to estimate this well has a lower flow rate than Ixtoc did?

A couple of people have commented on the abraded paint on the lower fins of the collecting cap, and assumed it was due to sand in the oil plume.

There's a good close-up of the fins now, and I think what happened is the #4 cap originally had a lower skirt as shown in the animated BP video of the cap being fitted on the cut-off riser. But they cut the lower skirt off with a grinder before placing the cap in the water, leaving burrs on the lower edges of the fins and burning the paint off with the heat of the grinder.

Presumably they realised the skirt would have interfered with the work of the ROVs on the top part of the BOP, and was not needed for location when lowering the cap on the riser because the currents weren't so strong, so they cut it off.

You certainly can measure the flow rate AFTER it has been captured by the top hat. In fact BP is publishing cumulative 24 hr flow on a daily basis.

That is NOT what people want though. They want the total flow which includes the stuff leaking out from under the top hat. That is a much different problem and is not addressed by anything that you can attach to the top hat.

The fact is that there is no applicable instrumentation that can be fitted to the existing system that will give you the total flow going up the riser.

If we could unbolt the flange that would be a different story but right now that's the way it is.

Some flow, maybe a majority of flow, is going up the drill pipe. Both riser and drill pipe are flow paths with different velocities of fluid for each due to restriction and pressure drop being different.

Unbolting the stub of the riser from the BOP flange would change what?

It would give you the ability to insert some pretty robust instrumentation into the the total flow stream. X-Ray tomography, sampling tools for chemical analysis, say for GC, Coriolis force mass flow meter etc. immediately come to mind.

To determine the flow rate of the oil, you need to know three things:

(1) The velocity of the material coming out of the BOP

(2) The ratio of gas to oil

(3) The diameter of the exit orifice

the first two parameters change from one instance to another.. How do you measure them? what instructment is capable of doing this in real time and transmit the data to on shore from 5000 ft under the water? And there is no way to see the leak. do we know that it is a circular leak or a tear or a irregular leak with multiple point of obstacle that reduce the flow? Once you drill down all these issue, measuring or estimate the flow rate is not as simple..

Lets do some math.

Suppose cutting the riser with the shears resulted in a 20% increased flow then without the new cap the flow was increased from 18,000 barrels of oil a day to 21,600 barrels.

Now BP is reporting that they are capturing 10,000 barrels of oil a day. That means that 11,600 barrels, or 487,200 gallons are still leaking into the Gulf each day.

This is equivalent to another Exxon Valdez spill every 22 days. If it takes until October to plug this thing up totally that is 5 Exxon Valdez spills. And this during Hurricane Season

I'm supposed to feel better about this "success", according to BP and what the Press reports?


Spill a result of BP's sloppy job rutines and short cut's.

Whashington post had the story at may 27 th. don't know if it was listed here before:



i'm new here
but i have 1 simple question:

the gallons and barrels figures going up and going down

where are those oiltankers at the oilspilllocation?? to bring the oil ashore ??

the last 2 days ive seen 0

check http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?level0=100#

so i'm in a lot of doubt of whats written


i notice oildrum uses images of the vids

i dont think they are live

they recorded the images now available

i hope you can answer my ?? marks

Discoverer Enterprise has an oil storage capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil so it buffers the oil before onward transfer.

Plus if you believe the live images are faked or recordings then the conspiracy starts right at the top and runs down through thousands of people in the chain and you'd be better off on a general conspiracy site rather than here.

Anyone who tries to debunk a conspiracy theory is automatically suspected to be an agent of the conspiracy. It's a no-win situation. I guess the least harmful approach is to just sit back and watch them lose their minds inventing new fantasies.

As seen at Marketwatch

BP eyes containment shortfall on Gulf well: report

BP struggling to process cap-collected mix of oil , seawater

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch

Last Update: 6/7/2010 8:20:00 AM

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- BP PLC apparently underestimated the amount of
processing capacity it would need to handle the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf
of Mexico after fixing a container cap atop the blown well, according to a report
on Monday.

About 400 miles of coastline have been affected to date and BP (BP)(UK:BP) said
the spill has cost it more than $1.25 billion thus far, while the U.S. Coast
Guard expects cleanup efforts to last for months.

BP decided Sunday to keep some of the four vents open on the cap over its leaking
well a mile below the surface of the Gulf because it didn't have enough
processing capacity to handle the mix of sea water and oil coming from the
gusher, according to a New York Times report.

The newspaper cited an unnamed technician working on the operation.

The cap was already capturing about 10,000 to 15,000 barrels a day without all
its vents closed, while the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship at the site is
equipped to handle up to 15,000 barrels a day.

"There is no chance to close the vents when you are at maximum production," the
technician said, meaning oil continues to flow in

BP said Monday that the lower marine riser package containment cap, installed on
June 3, continues to collect oil and gas.

On June 5, a total of 10,500 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million standard
cubic feet of natural gas was flared. BP said that optimization continues and
that further improvement in oil collection is expected over the next few days.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is leading efforts to fend off any potential takeover
attempts for the U.K. oil major, according to a report in the Independent on

Goldman, as BP's regular advisor, is "rumored to be dusting off the company's
defense playbook," the newspaper said.

The paper also reported that technical experts from "oft-speculated potential
buyers ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron" were in Houston over the
weekend to help their BP counterparts with its push to bring the Gulf Of Mexico
spill under control.

"didn't have enough processing capacity to handle the mix of sea water and oil coming from the gusher"

Incorrect. It's the gas-oil separation they don't have capacity for. Or maybe the gas flaring. 1) There should not be much sea water at the production facility (yet), and 2) the liquids all go into storage & then a barge - they don't need to process to pipeline quality.

Glen -- I suspect you're correct. They don't need to complete oil/water seration on the processing ship. Just use more tankage to get it to onshore seperation. I did see one report that the were hosing the flare line to cool it off. Makes me think they've hit some flare limit.

last 2 days i have NO tankers spotted at the location of the oilspill

I suspect a barge or other small vessel would be used, as it would be more maneuverable in the crowded waters of MC252.

I just looked outside and the Earth looks flat.

The drill ship can hold about 10 days worth of oil (over 100,000 bbls) so they won't need a transfer tanker for about a week.

Here's an AP video (1m 20s) of the flare line - it shows the spraying/steaming of the supply line on the gantry:


Is that residual oil getting dropped in the water beneath? Don't think I'd want to be in that picket boat at that time.

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? There is no excuse for this not being ready to go now!
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.

"Does anybody know why the BOP flow solution is not being implemented NOW?"

That's what BP refers to as the "Q4000 direct connect" solution. They are working on it now, and may have it running as early as this weekend.

BP put out a technical briefing video on May 31. Watch it at the following link (if you're in a hurry, advance the slider to the 8 minute mark):


The Q 4000 solution was discussed in previous threads here. Apparently reversing the flow is much more time-consuming that dorks like me envisoned. It is likely a matter of very complex plumbing, since the kill and chokes are meant to push mud in, not take oil and gas back.


"Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is leading efforts to fend off any potential takeover
attempts for the U.K. oil major, according to a report in the Independent on

And now the piranhas circle the sick guppy. Is Goldman a piranha or a protector of the guppy? Goldman has been known to act against its own client's interest. (See Lloyd Blankfein and others Congressional testimony where they wouldn't answer the question of who's interest they acted in. Their own or the client's?)

Gail the Actuary and I agreed on another posting that PetroChina is the logical candidate for devouring BP.

It will be fascinating in a morbid way to watch international relations, national politics, Peal Oil, nativist MSM demagogues, and Wall Street piranhas in a steel cage death match.

Edit: Deleted typo

I imagine that this sort of talk will cause the stock price to rise.

The medium term of BP's stock prices will depend upon the winks and nods Goldman now gives to its favored hedge fund managers. If you love to swim in murky waters... well that Goldman's natural environment.

Most logical EL does not mean that is the most likely? The British would never allow that acquisition ever! Just as Australia did not allow the purchase of Rio Tinto (100%). The Canadians did not allow China to purchase 100% of Conoco Phillips either. I doubt any market regulator will allow that to happen. The most likely thing to happen, judgments strung out over decades of court appeals while BP builds a giant fund for post peak oil.

For the junk shot and top-kill attempts, the choke and kill lines were obviously plumbed below the BOP constriction. Will it be possible to re-valve the BOP such that the oil tap using those lines comes from above the BOP constriction?

If not, they'll get a lot more oil, but I'm not sure the leak will go down much. They'd have to pull enough oil from below the BOP to relieve pressure at the constriction, and this would be limited only by the flow capability of the well or some lower constriction.

Seems like a worthwhile activity in either case.

Choke and kill lines connect to the interior body of the BOP.
Drill Pipe, which may not be restriced much as blind ram & shears failed, is a path through the center of BOP for a huge amount of flow. This can be witnessed from when they cut off riser with DP inside and the flow converted from several small jets out of cracks to a large "volcano" type flow.

I think drill pipe alone may be flowing 20 to 30K barrels per day, with riser stub flowing a lot less. So not as much might be captured by choke and kill lines, but still worth pursuing, IMO.

NOAA hasn't published any slick picks since May 31st . . . for awhile, they were posting several a day. See http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/event.php?id=43733

BP stopped posting their response maps on May 1st . . . see http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9033575&contentId=...

The EPA quit issuing press releases on May 29th. see http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/index.html

And what happened to the US Navy's spill response site? I wonder what happened on May 31st? Did BP and the government decide to take more control of the information flow?

Don't you think that it would be possible to put a few techs in a couple of nuclear powered submarines and have them cruise around the GOM taking water samples at various depths to track plumes? How come you never hear anything about that?

I don't think we have been getting the whole story.

Skytruth keeps posting recent sattelite images. Looks like salad dressing and I am sure we are not getting the whole story.


has an image from June 3rd. Subs cannot go very deep, I think 500 meters is about maximum. One needs to use ships which lower bottles which can be be remotely triggered to close and collect water samples.

my opnion is:

in time, more and more doesn't add up

too many black spots in the info since collapse of the rig

In case folks haven't seen, the University of South Florida has awesome (and creepy) marine current forecasting and mapping for the spill.


Might take a sec to load...

Disclaimer: This is from MSM and there is no telling how accurate it is, but I'll offer it anyway.


It is typically updated each day.

FressDir's question is one I too have been wondering about for a while now.

Yesterday bb551 posted: "The reported 22,000,000 cubic feet of gas (along with 10,500 barrels of oil), if converted to temperature and pressure at the top of the BOP, are something around 40,000 barrels, depending on the actual temperature at that point (I've seen varying numbers). This makes the flow at that point ROUGHLY 20% oil and 80% gas, volume/volume."

That's a LOT of gas. Why isn't the gas being captured? Why waste this valuable resource?? Could some of the pros here explain the reasoning..

Watched that bolt fiasco on DeepWater BP Video Wall off and on yesterday and it felt like a bad joke. No one who has ever worked with bolts would have not switched out the socket after the first 5 minutes. (Even if it meant a round trip to the surface.) Assuming that the driver of the ROV could have gotten that socket on that rusted scaly bolt head, and was able to remove that one bolt, it would have been frozen into that socket head forever.. I fear Dimitry, and others who hope for a separation at the flange are going to be disappointed.

Not only is the gas wasted, but gas also is bad for the ocean. It's not just the oil that is damaging to the ocean environment, but the gas is damaging it as well.

Since this is primarily a gas well, I would like to see more information on how all of this gas is going to effect the ocean, because as I understand it, much of the gas from the seafloor leak will never reach the surface and will remain at depth.

Never is a long time. It will eventually reach the surface, be oxidized or form hydrate which will be consumed by clathrate worms.

Here is a site that discusses some active research programs on the topic:


Darn. You got me. Never say never. So how long is eventually? Is it eternity minus one?

I don't believe you are right about this being a primary gas well. Taken from the company projections on operations crude production wells would be drilled to take advantage of the gas cap. The gas is needed to produce the head pressure to drive the well. This reservoir would have many wells with muti spurs in each well bore to increase the flow. The projected production was 170k bpd. Without the gas cap the oil can not be driven without the addition of water injection or nitrogen injection.

While I was never a production worker, I worked drilling jobs on a few platforms that were producing and drilling new wells simultaneously, from what I saw handling the gas takes a LOT of equipment and space, as well as a pipeline to shore. I am not aware of any offshore liquification of NG in the US Gulf of Mexico. Maybe they put some in to use in the last ten years, but I don't think so, the US has very limited LNG handling capacity.

So, without a pipeline, there is no way to move the gas. And in the grander scheme of things 22 million cubic feet of gas a fairly small number for a deepwater play. Shell's Auger platform had four wells that each prodcued something like 150 million cubic feet per day back in the late 90s--and I think the Auger is in more or less the same part of gulf.

Thanks eyepaddle I looked up "offshore liquefaction of NG" and saw some designs from Statoil for a floating LNG plant. Humongous and complicated. The risks of that rig in the hurricane Gulf would be frightening. My naivete is showing.. but that's how you learn about things you don't know about.

Subsea operational update:
• On June 6, a total of 11,100 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million cubic feet of natural gas was flared.
• Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next few days.
June 7, 2010 9:00 am CDT / 3.00 pm BST

That's a LOT of gas. Why isn't the gas being captured? Why waste this valuable resource?? Could some of the pros here explain the reasoning

Gas has to transport either in a pipeline in gas form or liquefy into the liquid form. There is no equipment available in a ship that can do that...


The liquefication process involves removal of certain components, such as dust, acid gases, helium, water, and heavy hydrocarbons, which could cause difficulty downstream. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure (maximum transport pressure set at around 25 kPa/3.6 psi) by cooling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F).

The reduction in volume makes it much more cost efficient to transport over long distances where pipelines do not exist. Where moving natural gas by pipelines is not possible or economical, it can be transported by specially designed cryogenic sea vessels (LNG carriers)

Please see above. Collection of NG requires a lot of infrastructure, and right now it is all about getting flow rates up and getting rid of as much stuff as possible. NG collection systems take a lot of time to build. BP needs to focus right now...

FYI SkyTruth has rec'd aerial photos of those/that smaller, unrelated leak(s) they reported finding via satelite within the past week: http://blog.skytruth.org/2010/06/routine-gulf-monitoring-heres-why-we.html

It really makes one wonder how common these "one in a million" incidents are. The 'dispersal' method here appears to be to steer a boat in cicrles where the leak surfaces.

To paraphrase Terry Pratchet: One in a million chances work out 9 times out of ten.

I have been obsessed by the oil spill and have been mesmerized by the videos. I have a Mac, and I frequently use Firefox to monitor several ROV video channels day and night, then save the files to .MOV files for later viewing (usually at 4X or higher to spot interesting happenings). I currently have 20 Gigs of movie stuff stored from over the last 17 days, and there is some interesting goodies there.

A few observations . . . prior to the LMRP being placed on the riser, it seemed to me that the stuff coming out of the riser was a different color on one side than the other. Would that be due to a different mix of oil and gas? The pictures of the chomped off riser showed TWO different pipes inside . . . could different stuff be coming out of one pipe or the other, or the annulus, for that matter?

I wonder if they considered shutting in the well by simply using the shear (with blunt 'blades') to just press the pipe flat and thereby increasing resistance to flow? While that might not have eliminated the flow totally, perhaps following that up with another 'junk shot' could have shut the well in.

Perhaps they didn't really want to shut the well in with a junk shot . . . what would be the consequences on the well by suddenly stopping the flow? Imagine a water hammer rupturing the well casing just below the BOP.

If you speed up the videos, it looks like the LMRP bounces off of the riser periodically. I wonder what the long-term effects of this hammering on the well will be? If they get some rough seas, this could be bad. It also looks like the riser flange wiggles a bit compared to the lower part of the well when this happens.

I hope there is someone who can shed some light on this. It sure would be interesting to know what the Dept. of Energy Scientists working in Houston are up to.

James -- I don't have the specs but I suspect DP is too brittle to squeeze as you suggest. In 35 years I've never seen DP squeezed flat...acidentally or otherwise. And there should be concern about pressure buildup should they stop the flow completely. I don't know the specs on this flow in enough detail. But I've seen wells with flowing pressures of 1,200 psi have a shut in pressure of 12,000 psi. An already damaged BOP might completely come apart and the capture system they're using now could become totally ineffctive.

Rockman: If BP were to roll the dice for one apocalyptical attempt to stop the leak completely right now, but risk a total blow, what do you think they would do? The reason I'm asking the question is that Goldman's (now advising BP) advice might be: "You're dead anyway as a corporation if you let this drag on till September. You might as well risk it all now. You just might survive." IMHO, bringing in Goldman changes all the logic. BP can't hedge the apocalyptical risk. Goldman can. The plot thickens.

EL - I really can't think of any extreme wild ass effort to stop the situation that could change the course of history. But I can think of one survival tactic BP could use to fend off a potential hostile take over: Not sure how much BP produces globally daily but a bunch for sure. But if they traded a right of first refusal for their uncommited production to China it could put a lot of cash in their pockets as well as being something of a poisen pill. BP would still get the oil revenue and China would take X bbls a day off the world market. China has been focused on access to future oil purchases as much as the profit line.

EL - I really can't think of any extreme wild ass effort to stop the situation that could change the course of history. But I can think of one survival tactic BP could use to fend off a potential hostile take over: Not sure how much BP produces globally daily but a bunch for sure. But if they traded a right of first refusal for their uncommited production to China it could put a lot of cash in their pockets as well as being something of a poisen pill. BP would still get the oil revenue and China would take X bbls a day off the world market. China has been focused on access to future oil purchases as much as the profit line.

A really interesting scenario is a stock sale to Petrochina who enforces the $75MM law at the time of incident (ex post facto) and uses their position as major US debtholder as stick. Tells claimants and Barry to pound the tar balled sand.


Interesting point FF. Bringing China into the equation makes this a truly world class political theater.

It appears the $75MM claim limitation in effect at the time of the incident is a multi tens of billions dollar asset.


However, anyone who bought BP's liability for personal damages would also buy their liability for federally-applied civil penalties, which, at $4300 per barrel, could run to tens of billions of dollars.

I believe the U.S. government has every intention of making sure there is no bright side to this for BP or any oil company who wants to touch the BP tar baby.

good -- I've been involved in a number of acquisitions of wounded companies and the liabilties such as you described were often more of an asset: comes off the bottom line of the purchase price. And being wounded makes for a motivated buyer. This is especially true for public companies when folks over discount the downside. And then there's always those under the table deals. Imagine if China gets control of BP. Then China owes the US billions. But the US owes China something close to a trillion $'s last time I saw the number. Offbook liability swaps is a very old angle.

Do you think BP management's has a legal obligation to enforce their rights under the law?? WRT the $75MM liability limit in effect at the time of the incident.

If the current management will not enforce their rights, are they obligated to cash in on behalf of the shareholders to some company who will enforce their rights?

Certainly BP's public image can not get much worse.

What is the downside?


no because the Law WRT to the liability cap has certain exclusions....criminal negligence amongst them....when govts are involved a criminal negligence can pretty much mean whatever the govt wants it ot mean ....mind you I can see no problem with the justice dept proving negligence in this case ....once that is established the liability is unlimited ....

so that laws currently in place are good enough ....

It has never been satisfactorily explained in the media as to what the liability limit applies. For instance, it does not limit their clean-up liability. It does not limit their civil penalties - fines per barrel spilled, etc.

The limit also includes a 1.6 billion-dollar fund, which I believe can be entirely spent on damage claims from this spill.

and not to advocate the O&G industry ...the plain facts are .....the govt has been pocketing 4 cents (or maybe 6 cents) per barrell of oil for more than a decade to build up a fund for instances like this incident ......where is that fund now ?????

why won't the govt put out the fund NOW when its needed......govts are quick to charge taxes for hypothetical situations but come time to pony up the govt seems to forget stuff like this....I don't think any govt official has mentioned this fund ...the fund should be worth more than 5 billions by now .....

where are criminal investigations on MMS ....they approved everything that was done on this well....someone should answer from the MMS as well.....typical govt hypocrisy but these are the facts which no one seems to be touching .....

not a BP apologist by a long shot but can't sweep these facts under the carpet ...they will come up during the investigation and a lot of people will take the 5th amendment

In a state we operate, about 10 years ago we operators got together to pay an annual well fee to cover plugging and restoration of old sites abandoned by "fly by nights" during the last boom. The money was collected by the DNR, and several sites were cleaned up and restored by the fund.

The fund built up a 1.5 million surplus and guess what- It was pilfered for the general fund.

Fool me once....


The $75M liability limit applies to damages sustained by third parties as a result of the spill. For instance, a hotel which has fewer guests because of tar on the beaches, or a fisherman who cannot fish, or an asthmatic suffering from the fumes etc.

BP has said it will pay all claims and not shelter behind the legal limit. But under different management it can probably repudiate that undertaking.

That would make for some interesting theatre. I think though the US could lean on the UK hard enough to prevent this transaction based on North Atlantic security.

Rockman: Per my above post and Gail and my discussion on another post, PetroChina is the logical piranha here.... But it would arouse wild nativist MSM demagoguery for PetroChins to "invade" our GoM. Communists on our doorstep! The Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences runs painfully amok in my head.

A couple of years ago there was speculation that China would buy one of the American oil companies, and congress did not react well. I think PetroChina is actually a nonstarter.

I think you are talking about five or six years ago China National Offshore Oil Co tried to buy ARCO, which eventually went to Chevron, IIRC. US Congress thwarted CNOOC's move.

BP PLC is a multinational company based in Great Britain so I don't see our congress getting involved, except by putting restrictions on who can drill in US waters. But then the WTO may cry foul as that is restricting world trade.

ARCO became a subsidiary of BP in 2000


"China National Offshore Oil Co tried to buy ARCO, which eventually went to Chevron"

It was Unocal, not Arco, but your point is made.

BP bought Arco a couple of years after they bought Amoco. CNOOC attempted to buy Unocal.....which eventually went to Chevron.

Congress would most definitely be involved. So would parliament. National Security - IMO, China is not a player for BP.

Unocal was a multinational.

Can you imagine the complexity of a PetroChina deal in terms of dealing with cleanup/ restoration / restitution? There is no way PC could politically deal with LA coastal folks, fishing industry, the MSM, not to mention Gulf - state senators w/o creating a huge storm of stuff.

EL -- I would guess communists with checkbook in hand will be every welcomed to the GOM. Folks need to remember that oil produced from the OCS cannot be exported without gov't approval. Anyone investing in increased domestic production would be very welcomed.

We know that the UK doesn't want to see BP fail. Obama doesn't want drilling to stop for long, or for people to go unpaid, or for clean-up to not get done.

BP probably can't afford to pay off the damage, let alone the flood of legal claims.

Politically what needs to be done is for the UK to back BP and help them eat a large write-off with sale of US interests. Obama needs to work a deal with a major (maybe China) to pick it up, with a longer-term payback for damages. The taxpayer will eat all the immediate costs as a loan, and most of the costs down the line (those which can be "plausibly unforseeable" today).

The crux is to navigate the tort picture. BT can't really cut off a limb without lawsuits following up to the parent I imagine, so there will need to be legislation to make it happen. Nobody will buy the assets without a clear cap on possible losses. I think Obama will twist BT's arm in foreground while working a deal with the UK and BT in the back-ground -- a plea-bargain, as it were.

Once all the above happens, anybody could be a bidder. China might be inclined to pay more than it's worth if they want to shed some dollars. They have the leverage to push a deal through, too.

Rockman: Commies with Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson lobbing (oh, so discretely) for them or BP or both and, just for fun, let's toss GB's pension funds into the muck, with a Goldman created (but hedged) deal would tell you something about the arrival of the Peak Oil world. Talk about a dog pile.... We ain't seen nothing yet in the insane scramble for that last drop of oil. (Or water) Hope they leave some Blue Bell for you.

EL -- Indeed. Your comment reminded me of a potential new acrynom for the future PO world: the MADOR philosophy. Replaces the Mutually Assured Destruction philosophy of the nuclear cold war period. Eventually I see a Mutually Assured Distribution of Resources developed between China and the USA. PO won't be a problem for the countries that control the flow of oil...plenty for all their needs. Everyone else...not so much.

If the US and China eventually dominate the oil market (politically, militarially, economicly) who's going to try to stop us? France and Portugal? Might be better for US interests if China takes control of BP. Takes their attention away from our oil suppliers, eh?

Rockman: I agree. One problem arises: the US financial system is sensitive to "a butterfly in Brazil" with its web of interlocking derivatives and other financial engineering. (f.e. ought to stir up some of the boys and girls here). "War by other means."

So true EL. So many political game possibilities. One could make up almost any bizarre story and it might come true. OTOH, if you were going to p.o. someone who would pick if you had to make a choice: France or China?

I would always go with China. I got "connections" with them: adopted my daughter in China in 2000. An inside track is always handy.


Thanks for the dialogue. I think the discussion fits in very well with the Peak Oil theme of this web site. Peak Oil and Peak Water will determine how many future generations live. We need to discuss all issues so we at least have a dim concept about what lies ahead for us. How this all turns out is part of our long adventure. But we have been here but a short time compared to the dinosaurs. Perhaps, cockroaches will finally inherit the earth.

As we think about this dog pile, here are three of my favorite Chinese quotes:

"It's too soon to tell." — Zhou Enlai/Chou En-Lai, referring to the French Revolution (1789) in conversation with Kissinger.

"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." — Mao Zedong (chilling)

"I don't care if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice," — Deng Xiaoping.

And, then, one from a US oilman: "The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not the mineral rights." — J. Paul Getty

Take care of yourself, Rockman.

Oooooh. You are saying that bringing Goldman into the picture could change the whole game. Scary.

Especially scary when you think of how ethical and concerned for the common good Goldman is.


My "BOP Pop !" Think cork and champagne sparkling wine !

Is the 12,000 psi a momentary surge (aka water hammer) or sustained pressure ?



Because of the gas, the "water hammer" analogy is weak.

Roger, would you think there were any differences in the composition of the current flow from the BOP vs the flow from the end of the few thousand feet of riser? Sometimes there seem to be bubbles of gas emerging from the cloud in the current leak configuration.

Does the BOP have a burst rating? The Cameron website hints there is one. BP said they had the BOP above 10,000 psi during Top Kill. One would think if the structural integrity of the BOP was damaged, perhaps a crack, it would have let go then.

Not saying to gamble on it, but the riser appeared not to be severely eroded at the kink. The vintage Cameron Type T BOP at the Offshore Museum in Galveston has been cut away so visitors can see the innards, and there is a lot of iron there.

BOP rated to 10,000 psi. Casing rated to 8,000. Subsurface blowout is the weakest link, already flowing into shallow horizons. Colossally bad idea to shut this well or pressurize it. Has to be killed from below.

"Does the BOP have a burst rating?"

The requirement is based on the API test pressure requirements for the flanges. A 15,000 psi BOP must withstand at least 22,500 psi. I have seen BOPs rated at 5K and 10K tested to twice working pressure with no problem.

Pipe with a substantial wall-thickness to diameter ratio tends to make kind of an infinity shape rather than just squishing flat. And flattening a section of drill pipe in situ would take astronomical force, plus the flattened section would probably just tear away from the unflattened section unless you were actually using molded forms to cold 'forge' it.

2 cents

They can't restrict the outflow too much because that would force a leak through flaws in the drill pipe casing from below the sea bed. That's what happened when they tried the top kill.

I keep reading this but how do they know this is true. And where exactly are these "flaws." How far down? 500 feet, 1000 feet, 2500 feet? 10,000 feet. If it is really deep, so what? Better to have a leak there than in the ocean.

I can understand you don't want the BOP to blow out or the casing for 200 feet or so below the surface. But if the leak is going to be deeper than that if the well is pressurized, I think it makes sense to have the leak there rather than in the ocean.

And what I am really irritated about is the concern that the BOP can't take added pressure nor can the wellhead for 200 feet down. It was very foreseeable that this would be the worst place to have a leak and therefore these parts of the well should have been significantly beefed up.

From what I've learned here, a leak ANYWHERE along the casing much above the payzone will quickly channel up along the casing and become an unconstrained blow-out. This will absolutely happen if there is much pressure at all in the mud-zone which goes down a few thousand feet. There is also a chance for oil to flow along natural faults and pop up elsewhere, if that is "easier" for the oil to do.

The "high-pressure gambit" got used already with top-kill, and all that mud went somewhere, presumably between casings. At the least one layer of protection was therefore lost in that attempt, and possibly casings were compromised already. A potential leak may not leak at the current 6-9kpsi it is seeing, but may readily leak at the formation pressure, which might be twice as much.

It does seem to be the case that top-kill and the riser-cut both make the problem worse, as flow seems to be higher. Hard to be sure without any real before and after measurements, though.

DGM - as seen from the Whasington Post article, the is not properly cemented, nor is the casing properly cemented, therefore i can't sustain more pressure.
The risk would be a compleate blowout, or a blowout directly from the seabed.

I suspect the spud is going to get a great deal of regulatory attention. It doesn't sound like much of a backbone right now, does it?

BP's 6/7 report said first relief well is at 12,956', which I think means they are now drilling below their 16" shoe. That's at least a week less than it took the blowout well to get to that point, even after subtracting out the hurricane time. Looks like they ran 18" (lnr) deeper & 16" shallower on the relief well than on the blowout well. Second relief well has not yet drilled out of the 22". The blowout well got stuck and eventually had to sidetrack just a few hundred feet below where the first relief well is right now. Original well LOT at the liner shoe above the target was 15.9 - didn't someone calculate it will take 16.1 to kill with the opening at the sea floor? How can that work?

Is there a link for this data? I've been trying to find status reports of the relief wells but have been unsuccessful.

There is a daily press release on the bp.com website at around 9am local Gulf time. Click on the big red button and you can then see the daily update plus links to the other stuff. From today "...In the meantime, work on the first relief well, which started May 2, continues and has currently reached a depth of 12,956 feet. The second relief well, which started May 16, is at 8,576 feet, and testing of the BOP is continuing. Both wells are still estimated to take approximately three months to complete from commencement of drilling..."

Here's the link for the latest on the relief wells - 600k pdf for those with limited Internet connections.



Fascinating material that came out of the congressional hearing on Mark Hafle, Senior Drilling Engineer on these wells.

Looks like the casing design was in priority to getting a 9 7/8" production casing to surface as per the original well plan (15:00 min in). Then at 43:00 min the inquirer was listing all the last minute changes to install two new liners, one of them being the 9 78", followed by application for 7" production, followed by change up to 9 7/8" at top of 7". Full consideration for future production and none for casing integrity prior to penetrating formation.

And they are running the 9 7/8" liner on the relief well which they know will run into reservoir pressures combined with a an effective huge lost circulation zone out the intersected blowing well, and they don't have a casing string that can be shut in. I think because to draw attention to this now they would have to admit they were wrong on the first well and Mark Hafle was refusing to acknowledge any mistakes. So maybe after two wells blow in they might start to look at this.

My respect for the BP drilling engineers really went down after watching Mark a few times.

I agree with your observations. I re-watched Mr. Hafle's testimony again today, and I was as unimpressed as when I watched him in real time. No points with me for openness and transparency.

Ixtoc ... continued to leak oil more than three months after Pemex completed its first relief well.


Thin on detail ! Does ANYONE know more ?



I found this, not sure how useful it is:


Throughout the months of attempts, Pemex was also drilling two relief wells. The first was completed in the late fall, and workers began pumping salt water and other liquids into it in order to relieve pressure.

It took until March of 1980 for the pressure had subsided enough to allow Pemex to pump cement into the well, creating a 1,650-foot-long plug. The leak finally stopped on March 23, 1980, some 10 months after it began. An estimated 3 million to 3.5 million total barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf.

I don't understand how pumping salt water into the well is supposed to relieve pressure, but the part about how it continued leaking until the pressure had subsided enough to pump cement into the primary well makes sense. That is not encouraging for the present case, it seems to suggest that the only thing can be do done is to try and siphon off as much oil as possible through top hats, etc. and relief wells until the pressure subsides.

Incidentally, that article is a great read, if nothing else for the similarities between the Ixtoc and the Deepwater. E.g., instead of the top hat, the containment dome was called "operation sombrero". They also tried a junk shot, which failed. One big difference was that Ixtoc was in 160 ft of water, so they could use divers whereas here the robots have to do everything. That it took them 10 months to try, and fail, using the same methods as is currently being used but in shallow water is not encouraging.

This gets me thinking. What would you oil guys build if the only way to tap oil at 5000 ft was to release an uncontrolled well...not fix it attach to BOP stuff but on purpose..not drill pipe orientated but a new method all together. Seems you could with the right design exploit the water column to control what comes out on top. Think of producing wells full potential in months not years. Then you would have a rig design that could double as protective device for other standard wells and make great economic sense. Pull up two super tankers and an LPNG tanker and pull the plug. Less wells...but one at the time...crazy yes...but the lessons learned here should go to advance technology and production methods and have safer options for use off the shelf for unusual situations...

You need to control the rate of supply or risk damaging the field. There are some very good posts in the past on TOD explaining issues to do with managing oilfields.

and the result for the planet will be ....I worry that the sea floor will drop as so much is coming out, every action has a reaction , and nature abhors a vacuum comes to mind. Any one have a clue as to the geology of the basin? isnt that really needed in this case? Arent peoples lives on the line , so we should know all the facts? Shelby , miss has dead birds, trees, crops as well as weeds dying over the weekend. So far the chemical plant may be the culprit, then again its near the Madrid fault. Vid found on this on monkeyfisters site.

It is prob as much about protecting the reservoir for future production as it is anything else wrt why they wish to avoid below the seafloor closure

If BP is now collecting roughly 10,000 bbl/day of oil even with some of the relief ports still open and a sizable amount of oil still escaping, then it surely follows that the total flow rate of oil has to be considerably larger than 10,000 bbl/day.

Hence, I will stick by my original estimate stated here in front of one and all about a week ago that the total flow rate of oil is about 20,000 bbl/day. And I did not arrive at this estimate via any sort of complex flow modeling but rather just by eyeballing the approximate size of the openings and the apparent velocity of the plume as it exits said openings.

Time will soon tell how close I came.

Time may not tell at all, thanks to over 2 million gallons of proven-carcinogenic, microbe-killing Corexit 9500, produced by a company majority owned by BP, banned for surface use in the UK, never before used in such quantities at such depths, and now responsible for numerous vast 20-mile long oxygen-deprived chemical plumes, some so large they cannot even yet be measured. All this despite direct orders from the EPA.

As little as 1/60th of the spill is visible on the surface, but the fallout from this will be decades long (there were no shrimp in Alaska for nearly 20 years, and still no herring, from a spill 1/10th the size) and BP will have avoided ever disclosing their flow rate data (if they even ever took any, despite their own official protocol deeming such data "essential").

Remove the cap on liabilities NOW (shame on those corrupt Republicans who block such efforts).


Why not go away, actually learn a bit and come back when you have some facts to post.Perhaps just cut and paste your rubbish to one of the many propaganda sites that occupy the web?

More than a few of those facts are search-able on this very site, Diverdan. A few are informed conjecture, based on things like expert testimony to Congressional hearings, and non-industry-funded and sanctioned scientific study. Conjecture which, in the absence of real data when BP prefers to release pure propaganda, is the best that we can do.

Which ones are facts? Except for the statement that dispersent has not been used at depth, everything including the amounts, the British bans ,the ownership, the statements about plumes etc are not facts.

I get my information from the EPA, and government sites. Just the facts that you say 2 million gallons have been used and the list the sites you post proves my point. Show me the information from reliable sources that only 1/60 at the surface and "unmeasurable size". Look at the EPA study group analysis just released on dispersants. BP does not own NALCO. The U.K. is not using Corexit on rocky shores but is okay in other places.BP has already said if their was another one that was better they would use it. The cost is a drop in the bucket. Why is somebody depending on those sites for information doing on a rational "centrist" site where folks are actually trying to understand what is happening? Trusting media outlets to get anything correct on any subject is scary enough; on this subject it is scarier.

10,000 a day? C'mon. Why does BP refuse to release the flow data we know they have?

Time will soon tell...

I wish it were so, but somehow I don't believe "the truth" is about to burst forth here. I'm sure there are engineers at BP working on the issue of determining the actual flow rate to reasonable accuracy (within 20 percent would be fine), but wait a minute -- they work for BP! That's right, Tony Hayward signs their checks. So I suspect there's going to be a "review process" before any "realistic" flow rate numbers are released to the public. Way above the engineer pay grades, someone's got to be thinking about the PR aspect of these numbers, and on the BP stock price. A little bit of "massaging" might be necessary to achieve "balance" before any public announcement can be made.

For those here who wish the spill crisis (or deep water oil drilling in general) was run more like the space program in days of old, I think it's safe to say this effort *is* being run (by BP et al) like a space program -- the Soviet space program. And our federal government's own participation seems to be running along similar lines (like the Soviet government's campaign of lies during the Chernobyl incident).

Meaning what, exactly? A policy of silence (whenever and wherever possible), punctuated (only when necessary) by self-serving remarks that may or may not be true (but serve to pacify an occasionally impatient public). Being "transparent" is the last thing on their minds.

Will the "true numbers" on the oil spill rate ever come out? Maybe, if there's a "leak" from those who know them. But the leakers had better be careful, because a mountain of grief might very well crash right down on the perps if the powers find out who did it.

We need a "leak" on the "leak" numbers.

If you bothered to do any research or listen to the news, you would know an independent flow rate estimate group was formed a few weeks ago, after Mr. Wereley, the associate professor from Purdue started throwing out estimates of 70,000bpd and higher.

Since then, the Flow Rate Technical Group has released a preliminary estimate of 12,000-19,000bpd. This is an independent estimate by folks not on BPs payroll. You can look at the link below for how this independent group arrived at the 12,000-19,000bpd estimate and their methods.


Ira Leifer, a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara and a principal investigator on the Flow Rate team says the 12,000 - 19,000 barrel flow rate touted by the administration represents the "lower bound" estimate (not a preliminary estimate). In reality, he says, ongoing data analysis suggests the real rate is significantly higher. Leifer says what is missing completely is independent, verifiable data... the Flow Rate Technical Group worked from seven minutes of video of very poor quality, hand picked and provided to them by BP for the analysis -- and was asked to extrapolate from those "special" seven minutes the flow rate. Here's the link to the UCSB press release: http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2258 This is not a reliable number.

Oh, a press release. Two of the teams used highly indirect measurements (oil slick size, old video of leaks from riser), but one was based on actual measurements from the old RIT. They say this: "the RITT logged oil collection at a rate of 8,000 barrels of oil per day, as measured by a meter whose calibration was verified by a third-party.

"As measured by a meter": what kind of meter? what was the methodology? what was actually measured? how many measurements were taken? how would anyone know what kind of validity such measurements might have? did these government scientists make these measurements themselves, or where they given data by BP?

"whose calibration was verified by a third party": what third party? what was actually verified? how does that prove that measurements made with said equipment were either valid or meaningful in the case at hand?

Scientists and engineers use diagrams to illustrate how experiments are done, and publish data to back up their observations. Do you see any of that here?

I'm sure the Soviet government put out a similar PR memo a day or two after Chernobyl.

Unfortunately none of the methods delineated in that publication use an actual "flow rate" calculations from BP.

Their guesstimate is based on:
Mass Balance
Plume Modeling
Riser Insertion Tube Estimate

The Plume Modeling team is doing what we are doing...looking at the kinked riser (and presumably the cut riser afterwards), with a few more sophisticated tools to help them make their guess.

"Plume Modeling Team

The second approach led by the Plume Modeling Team used video observations of the oil/gas mixture escaping from the kinks in the riser and at the end of the riser pipe alongside advanced image analysis to estimate fluid velocity and flow volume. Based on advanced image analysis and video observations the Plume Modeling Team has provided an initial lower bound estimate of 12,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil per day. They continue to work to provide an upper bound.

This team faced several methodological challenges, including having a limited window of data in time to choose from, getting good lighting and unobstructed views of the end of the riser, and estimating how much of that flow is oil, gas, hydrates, and water.

Riser Insertion Tube Tool Estimate

Both estimates from the Mass Balance Team and the Plume Modeling Team were reality-checked with a basic calculation of the lower limit of possible oil that is spilling. The lower limit was calculated based on the amount of oil collected by the Riser Insertion Tube Tool (RITT), plus the estimate of how much oil is escaping the RITT, and how much oil is leaking from the kink in the riser."

You can look at the link below for how this independent group arrived at the 12,000-19,000bpd estimate and their methods.


Done, and it's clear that they have limited confidence in their published estimates. The three methodologies:

Mass Balance: extrapolating from what's visible on the surface. Estimate is 12-19kbpd, based on several whopping big assumptions that could each change the estimate by a factor of two or more.

Flow modeling: modeling from video, the same as people on this site have done repeatedly, which provided a lower bound estimate of 12-25kbpd. And is based on marginal data; see post of Leifer response above.

RITT measurements: a snapshot of what was collected by the straw-in-a-straw, scaled up based on a swag about what fraction of the flow was collected during that time. Estimate is lower bound of 11kbpd.

Plot these and you'll see that the only interval covered by all three methods is the 12-19kbpd. Thus the published result.

Speaking as a scientist, I can say that looking for commonality from disparate methods is an oft-used method of making estimates, and gives conservative results that are logically defensible. But conservative doesn't mean confident. The error bars on all these methods are huge; no bets should be placed on the basis of this 12-19kbpd number. Unfortunately, once a press release goes out, the number gets fixed into the collective consciousness. People in general don't deal well with uncertainty.

I'm not saying *anything* about whether or how much info BP/MMS/DoE has available and is not (yet?) releasing.

Speaking as a scientist, I can say that looking for commonality from disparate methods is an oft-used method of making estimates, and gives conservative results

Speaking as a scientist myself, I can say that choosing an uncertainty range which is the *common overlap* of a variety of different studies is a piss-poor use of statistics.

Example: how much does an adult human weigh?
U.S. scientist: "We weighed 100 American males. Weights ranged from 150 to 300 pounds."
Filipino scientist: "We weighed 100 Filipino males. Weights ranged from 100 to 16o pounds."

Therefore, we can conclude that adult humans weigh between 150 and 160 pounds, since this is the overlap between the two studies. Right? Right?

Apples and oranges. If three scientists use three different indirect methods to calculate the total weight of the same group of 100 males, then we're talking about the same thing, and it doesn't sound nearly as outrageous.

Example aside, your point is still valid. There's no statistical rigor in it at all.

[edited to add ref]

AND...per comment in this thread by cptdrillersails, even this wasn't what the PIs intended. The overlap idea wasn't theirs, and they were only intending to publish estimates of lower bounds.

More on new regs coming out (wonder if the little guy w/ the wrench was experimenting to see how hard the first one actually is given current abilities):



* Blow-out preventers (BOPs) on floating drilling operations need to certified by an independent third party. The department will also develop formal equipment certification standards for BOPs.

* Within a year, BOPs on all operations will be required to have two sets of blind shear rams spaced at least four feet apart.

* Subsea BOPs will require remote operated vehicles that are able to close all shear and pipe rams, close choke and kill valves and unlatch the lower marine riser package.

* Interior will develop surface and subsea methods to test capabilities of remotely operated vehicles and BOPs.

* Interior will conduct more in depth safety inspections that will include witnessing actual tests of BOP equipment.

* Rig operators will be required to undergo a series of procedures and checks before displacing kill-weight drilling fluid from the wellbore.

* All well casing and cement designs for new floating drilling operations will have to be certified by a professional engineer.

* Interior will develop specific cementing requirements.

* Interior will expand safety and training programs for rig workers.

Is there such a thing as a Professional Engineer that can or will certify risk management decisions? Does this say that every person that reviews and/or signs a procedure must be a PE? Ridiculous requirement.

Whole new profit center for Ryder Scott.

PEs sign off on all sorts of stuff with less risk than a well design. Usually PE signatures mean that drawings are done according to procedures and are accurate as recorded. Pretty cheap insurance. Really what the goal of a PE sign-off is to have a person put their reputation on the line, so as to slow the erosion of cost-driven corner-cutting.

I'm amazed that PE well signoff wasnt required to get the permits in the first place. This is a common requirement in the permitting process for obtaining permits in even relatively low stress applications like obtaining home construction permits.
How that requirement isnt currrently in place in the permitting process for these wells is truly hard to accept for me.

I've seen PE sign-off for control cables and circuit boards, and mech drawings for housings.

They are required for pretty much all physical plant/process plant drawings before they can be released to manufacture.

Surely a PE sign-off is required for a casing can be lifted?

I thought this was one of the "known issues" - something like 90% of BPs drawings weren't signed off. Having a spot for a signoff and having a process that gates further work on having it are two separate parts of the process. Obviously the second part doesn't exist.

Note that if the BP process had required current drawing on the rig and on the shore, they wouldn't have wasted a day using the ROVs to actuate shear rams that didn't exist. Probably wouldn't have used the wrong sized socket on the flange last night either.

They weren't signed off by engineers, period. No mention of not being signed off by PE's.

I'm a PE (Civil) and I'm amazed that these kind of designs aren't reviewed and approved by a PE "in responsible care" of the plans. I seal highway design plans daily, and a mistake on one of them doesn't have any of the risk associated with these wells.

If a PE isn't responsible, then who draws up the plans for these wells? Is there no "responsible care" taken when they are created? While a technician with 20+ years in the field may know what he's doing, having a PE sealing the plans provides a bit more confidence in the design, since he's putting his career on the line with that signature.

Guy who did the casing design for the well that blew out is a degreed engineer, but doesn't have the PE to put behind his initials.

On the Atlantis thing - the reports were that a number of docs didn't have sign-off at all (which I suppose doesn't mean that they weren't reviewed, that copies w/ sigs could be elsewhere,etc, etc,etc, etc, etc....All we have to go on there is media reports of reports).

I wouldn't want to be your E&O insurance underwriter if you were to go around certifying that any particular DW drilling equipment or operation did not present an environmental risk of, oh, I don't know, up to $50 Billion. But, on the other hand, the premiums would have to be $2-3 Billion a month, and would be a great commission for the agent!

They should have put these in place 30 years ago.

And they would have but for the fact that big oil and its lobbyists and people like Dick Cheney have made sure that the oil companies get a free ride at our expense. No risk is too great to bear so long as it means higher profits for these outstanding corporate citizens (foreign or domestic, who cares so long as they bribe the politicians and regulators).

That's the beauty of American democracy. Everyone gets treated equal so long as you have millions in campaign contributions to give, an army of lobbyists and friends in all the right places.

I read the requirement of the PE third party signing off and just laugh.. Let's say that I work for myself and I get whatever credential I need to sign the well design off.. What if the well blow up becuase there is a design flaw? What would I do? I close shop and go BK.. Who end up with the problem? The oil company and the government.. How is it different than today? The missing part of the discussion is not just someone capable and willing to review the design in detail, it is also the fact that they has the financial ability to stand behind their evaluation. i.e. if the PE is wrong, they can stand up and pay for the clean up and damage.. Care to speculate who has that kind of financial ability? I think Federal government is the only one that can do that . and it is MMS job to review the well design start out with.. Adding a third part PE here is just a political jesture that sound good but has no effect what so ever.. It is like asking a rating agency to rate a bond and pay them a fee.. If I don't like what the rating agency said, I just find another one.. Here we will have the same issue. If I don't like what the PE say on the well design, I just find another one that will.. So long as the PE has no financial stake in the outcome of the drilling, you will find someone that will sign their name on the drilling plan with other folks (those people on the location) blood.

That's exactly what happens with reserves valuation. Don't like what Ryder Scott says? Go shopping for another third party engineer. But that only fools the fools who play penny stocks. Big professional firms live or die on their audit rigor. Remember Arthur Anderson and Enron?

right on .....the PE argument doesn't apply to O&G because there is a dedicated govt agency MMS tasked with oversight ....every design, every modification is has to be approved by the MMS....so you can have a PE or a engineer without a PE it amounts to the same......you can have a PE but his design still goes through the same MMS approval process as a non-PE ......

also if a PE becomes mandated for every engineer in the O&G industry .....business will become difficult since this is a truly global industry .....my passport has more visa and exit entry stamps than the pages on my passport..to the point I had to get a new one to accommodate the exit entry stamps.....you can't expect an engineer to be licensed in every country ....just wouldn't work considering any engineer in DW ops travels like a donkey

And as an FYI...just read a summary of an article in the UK Daily Telegraph...

Apparently BP sez that the casing design used on this well has been used on 30% of the last hundred wells. HOWEVER, they don't comment on whether or not those wells were in producing areas where they were very knowledgeable about the pressure regieme, or if any are wildcats.

None of this means a damn thing if the people who are responsible for a rig's productivity are also tasked with ensuring its safety.

I have yet to hear one offshore person explain why there isn't a completely separate safety team whose sign off is required before major, and potentially dangerous, operations such as removing the mud from a well, ensuring proper cementing, etc. are either started or declared complete and successful. This is standard practice for oil refineries, pipelines, chemical plants, etc.. It is also an administrative control that is implimented at the corporate level. When people's jobs and compensation are based on no shutdowns based on safety work stoppages, you can't expect them to err on the side of caution and stop work for an unsafe condition or practice.

The reason no explanation is given for this lack of administrative/institutional control of safety is that there is no explanation possible.

cp -- Actually some companies (unfortunately not all) take a very proactive approach to safety. Most would be surpised to learn that one of the most safety minded companies I've consulted for is ExxonMobil. I think I recently read that they had fewer MMS fines than any other company for the last X years. I suspect the Valdez incident has a lot to do with it. A few years ago while drilling off the west coast of Africa they completely shut down ops on the drill ship for half a day to get the attention of local hands who were having progressively more close calls. And I'm not talking about well kicks or a blow out. Things like dropping unsecured welding bottles when moved with the crane, hitting soft metal connections with the wrong type hammer (i.e. flying metal shards), not wearing safety glasses. I once had an Exxon saftey officer compliment me for keeping one hand on the rail when I came down a flight of stairs from the chopper pad. Other hands that didn't were made to watch 4 hours of the same very boring safety films we had all seen 100X.

But I fully agree with you re: the conflict between saving time, making bonuses and being safe. I mentioned a while ago how I think DW drilling could be made much safer: independent third parties monitoring ops. With the authority of the MMS they could write a $100,000 fine on the spot or even shut down ops for 24 hours (costing north of $600,00). How much would this add to drilling costs? A fraction of 1% of the cost to drill a DW well. In the long run it mgiht even save companies money: fewer lost time accidents and lower insurance premiums.

Recently I watched some of the White House briefings just after the Valdez ran aground, and President Bush stated that Exxon needed to get back to its excellent safety record. I think they always have had an emphasis on safety, but after the Valdez their culture, no doubt, amped it up..

They have an elderly field in East Texas that has not had a lost-time injury in 40 years.

Thanks Rockman,

Your knowledgable posts are very much appreciated.

I have worked on many high risk projects, what I have experienced is miles from what are described here. I'm just shocked at the description of how safe operation was reportedly handled on this rig, and the acknowledgement that this is industry-wide standard practice. Given that, tThe shocking thing to me is that fatalities and blowouts don't happen more often.

The correlation between near-miss accidents and small accidents to fatalities and large accidents is well known in the industrial health and safety field.

Then again, what do I know? I'm just a geologist....

Interesting. Naturally, Interior would move at the speed of government, so they couldn't conceivably have come up with all this just on the spur of the moment. Far too many airline tickets, "meetings", and "signatures" for that. Most if not all of it must have been sitting on the shelf for many months if not some years prior to April 20. It makes one wonder what they could possibly have been thinking or waiting for...

Anyone else besides me think that there should be access to the annulus of all casing strings set to the surface on subsea wellheads?

I a bit confused by the comments on the Lower Marine Riser Package Cap. The Cap is not a Lower Marine Riser Package and vis versa. The Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) is a part of the original Marine Riser for the Deepwater Horizon that has now been cut at the flange above the Oil States Swivel Joint. I believe it terminates at the hydraulic coupling (A 18 3/4" Cameron HC if TAs data is correct) BP reportedly tried to release the LMRP lower coupling in the first few days with the ROV but because of the hydraulic leaks was unable to do so. Does anyone out there know if the LMRP can be released from the BOP stack below it without releasing the hydraulic pressure on the pipe rams and sheer rams. It is my understanding there also was a set of casing rams on this BOP stack? Does anyone actually have a "typical" hydraulic schematic for Transoceans LMRP/BOP Stack setup?

I don't have the answers to your questions but agree that these are issues that need further clarification upon if one hopes to have a clear picture of the situation. I've been frustrated that so many people are not getting the basic understanding of what a LMRP is (a known and proven piece of the usual chain of plumbing in an offshore well) and the so called LMRP CAP, which I have taken to calling a "hillbilly hat" to make the distinction more clear that this is an improvised loose fitting funnel atop a wild well.

EXCUSE THE LENGTH, TOPICS discussed below are CONFUSION ABOUT LMRP CAP vs just LMRP, the YELLOW LEVEL, and POSSIBLE EXISTENCE OF DUAL LMRPs, old and new, above and below CAP.

There MAY be two LMRPs that are being discussed here. Be patient and I will try to offer my two cents below. Any corrections, additions and clarifications would be greatly appreciated.

Roughly, in layman's terms and as I understand it, the Lower Marine Riser Package is a rubber annular valve and the flex joint that connects to the riser. This translates in practice as the top most parts of a BOP stack, and in the case of this blown out well it appears that both the rubber annular and the flex valve are damaged and should not be fully trusted. According to a witness interviewed on 60 Minutes, the rubber annular was damaged weeks before the blowout when drill pipe was accidentally dragged thru the annular during a test in which the rubber was closed tight on the drill pipe. Bits of rubber were circulated up later with mud, and workers on hand who noted this were told not to worry. Presumably, some of those same workers are among the deceased and this is an issue of negligence that needs further investigation. We've not heard much from the hearings about this issue yet, nor has much been written in the press beyond what was said on 60 mins.

As for the flex valve, there has been a fair amount of ROV activity to monitor and even possibly modify the yellow bullseye level that is bolted to the top of the flex valve - it sits on the famous bolted flange that is just below the CRAW's off riser. From my layman's eye it seemed as though the bubble on this level was buried at the margin around the 9 oclock position relative to the camera the first time we saw it well. In the first 16 hours after the hillbilly hat was set atop the wild well, the cameras MAY have seen it change, including one reading for which I do not have a screen cap, (sorry, can anyone provide?) where the bubble was two concentric rings inside the margin, which would seem to say the flex joint is moving again after having been wrenched beyond it's rating. This level is coated in debris and is hard to read via ROV cam. I also have heard in passing that the flex joint is supposed to be able to move up to ten degrees in any direction, but don't know if that means ten total or ten from center, making a total of 20 degrees of flex. What does seem likely is that the drifting, burning and sinking DWH drill ship and subsequent collapse of the riser put a huge strain on the flex valve, which could only absorb some of the stress (thus pegging the bubble) and then the rest of that stress was transferred down to the BOP and the casing. Some say the whole BOP lists to one side as much as 8-10 degrees. I cannot confirm nor will I speculate on that but of course it does seem possible given what we know. But this yellow level seems to be trying to tell us something.

As a side note, I also heard in passing on irc chat that some sort of ROV controlled instrument may have been momentarily attached to the yellow bullseye level after the hillbilly hat was placed, and I wondered what in the world this instrument could be, given that a level either works or it doesn't. ( a vibrator to loosen the debris or shake loose the bubble?) Perhaps it was just part of the ROV that the camera sees - a "helicopter landing skid" as it were and it served no function, but again if anyone has a screen capture or video replay of this operation I would love to get some clarification on that. The bullseye level fascinates me, and it seems to be important enough to BP as well that they keep checking on it. Perhaps when they eyeball it, it is only to measure for a better fitting cap, but I doubt that very much. This whole assembly is being stressed in various ways as we have all observed.... Let's hope it continues to stay roughly intact.

This is where my understanding starts to break down, and I hope someone can help to clarify this for each and all to understand - I'd love to see it at the top of a new thread some day soon. I THINK that BP is talking about a NEW rubber annular and a NEW flex valve when they spout off (unfortunate pun intended) about a LMRP and leave off the word CAP, confusing reporters and casual listeners such as network anchor persons, etc. who are fascinated by the hillbilly hat and confuse the terms LMRP CAP with the notion of an LMRP itself. But when BP spokespersons talk about "THE LMRP" they are NOW speaking of a NEW LMRP and not the original one... By that I mean that I had personally interpreted BP to mean that that above the hillbilly hat would be a new LMRP - a new rubber annular that could be used to restrict flow and a new flex valve that would be absorbing the shock of the drifting new riser. Maybe I am wrong though.

This is the string as I see it, from sea floor up: Original BOP, original rubber annular, original flex valve w flange and yellow bullseye level, mating flange of riser stub welded to CRAW'd riser, then GAP, then hillbilly hat with attached multiple valves/ vents, then six inch riser CHIMNEY, then NEW LMRP (consisting of a rubber annular and a flex joint) then more six inch pipe to surface.

thanks in advance and I hope I am not further confusing anyone.

I have several questions that I was wondering if the community here had answers for. First off, though, I searched through several of the past threads to see if my questions were already asked and answered. If I missed them, my apologies for asking them again. Second, this site is amazingly civil and intelligent. Kudos to everyone who works hard to make this place such an invaluable resource.

Okay, here's the premise for my series of questions;

As noted in Drumbeat highlighted MarketWatch article, BP is struggling to process the cap-collected mixture of seawater and oil. The oil tanker Discover Enterprise is said to handle up to 15,000 barrels per day.

1) Is this 15,000 bpd of oil? Or a mixture of oil and seawater?

2) Where is the oil (or mixture) offloaded? How long does it take to offload and return to site?

3) How many tankers are part of the collection process?



1. Oil ... knowledgeable folks here have been saying that at this point there is likely little water in the mixture.

2. In an earlier thread it was mentioned that the Discover Enterprise has an onboard storage capacity of 100,000 barrels and that, when it is time to offload, some type of vessel - a barge was mentioned as a possiblity - will be brought into the area. The DE won't be leaving the site.

3. likely no tankers per earlier thread - barges or something else.

Side note: I found this BP PR video, made on the DE during the failed top kill attempt, interesting for the glimpses of a few of the many vessels involved in this effort. I can see why they wouldn't want to thread a tanker through there.

And the Gulf waters are so calm - I can't imagine dealing with a blowout like this off the Pacific coast. No wonder the regulations around North Sea drilling are reportedly tighter than those in the US.

Finally I have found a site that has answers to questions!!! I have read many of the threads but have not seen this question asked. Since the BOP is not functioning as required, could one not simply drill an new hole through the side of the BOP and use the drill rod to act as a new ram valve? I asked this question on youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNjp0pA7VEw and since I first made the video I realize ( because of this site) the BOP is much more complex than I thought. However the basic question is still unanswered. Is it possible to design a drill fixture that would mount to the side of the BOP to drill into the well bore and seal it externally? Is there a spot on the BOP that only has the well bore and not all the side pipes where the pressure could escape? I know it would take some very good engineers and accurate tooling but that is all possible. Could this idea work in theory? I'll transfer your answers to my Q&A site www.shakenfork.com/stoptheleak.htm If this is not a workable idea then I'll remove the video. Thank you for answering

Can't answer how readily possible that is -- I'd wondered about simply over-pressuring the existing hydraulics.

Obviously the first requirement would be to ensure the blades are still properly aligned, and that may be difficult or impossible.

A major concern is whether the well will hold if the BOP is activated. There is a good chance that a shut-in would raise the pressure in the well to that of the reservoir, and blow the casings (pop the BOP off, or flow around the casing). Then you'd have an unconstrained well with nothing handy to hook on to anymore.

Makes me wonder why the first req of deep-water drilling isn't to have a pressure-rated casing all the way down, or a less risky way to fuse casings. A BOP that only prevents a blow-out if activated in time isn't a very good fail-safe.

BP's reluctance to firmly affix a sealing valve structure, when there is a flanged fitting to which they could bolt or clamp it, indicates that they are very afraid of putting more pressure on the well casing. The current strategy seems to be to ramp up the capture of the escaping oil and gas while minimizing the stress on the well structure. This means huge quantities of oil will continue to leak until they get a fine-tuned capture solution in place.

A similar plan, named "Q4000 Direct Connect," is in the offing. It involves diverting flow from the BOP through the choke and kill lines up to the Q4000 platform. Details at 8:03 in this BP video.

I hope an expert with more knowledge of petroleum equipment or hydraulics can comment on this.

It seems that a major flaw in conventional designs of BOPs is that once the blind shear rams are actuated, if the drillpipe isn't immediately severed its difficult to return the shear rams to their initial position to reattempt closure. I imagine this is especially the case if flow volumes cause the rams to be compressed against remaining drillpipe and the cylinder edges as in a vise.

Is it already the case, or is it technically feasable to modify existing BOP design to permit shear ram retrieval in this case? I'm envisioning secondary, smaller hydraulic cylinders, placed distal from the main one and connected to the shear rams by shafts through their axis.

If fitted with additional ROV accessible quick connects, even if onboard hydraulics weren't sufficient to return the shear ram after a blowout, a hydraulic connection could be made to sea surface ships in the immediate aftermath of a BOP failure.

IF the top of the BOP simply had a two gang manifold with the current riser using one, leaving a second unused they could have simply fabricated a new Riser, then channel the flow to the new one. Magic 100% containment.

It's not that simple. Take a look at the ten inch U turn they are fabricating and translate that to the idea of any sort of Y or 90 degree extra valve being involved. These hydrocarbons want to go UP and they don't like turns and bends, etc. (especially since pipe and fittings cost money, and we always want to maximize profits, right?) Basic household plumbing tells you it is always less than ideal to turn and bend than it is to keep the flow as straight as possible.

Of course it would be nice to know if someone has thought of this ALREADY and tested and perfected it and it was or was not a viable option that was skipped by the driller, MMS regs, etc.

(I am not an expert, nor a patent historian)

Thad Allen’s press conference: BP is obtaining a ship that can hold 20K bd (today or tomorrow)

Eventually they will be obtaining a high capacity ship from the North Sea

Flow count is still ongoing and will partly be based on amount obtained through top cap

Robert Gibbs, White House Press staff, stated that BP has not provided accurate flow estimates due to fact that they are fined based on these rates.

James Cameron probably won’t be allowed at the wild well site due to safety issues

James Cameron probably won’t be allowed at the wild well site due to safety issues

Thank the Lord for small mercies.

Eventually they will be obtaining a high capacity ship from the North Sea

I was calling for adequate processing capacity on site well over a month ago. *MORE* than long enough to sail from the UK to the GoM.

Penny pinching at BP again !


Maybe they have to find a replacement for the North Sea!!!

If BP (or someone else) has to shut in production to release a processing ship (not likely BTW), the oil will still be there when they get back. The "lost production" will be produced at a later date and almost certainly at higher prices.


Very surprised that hasn't already happened. I know this is a non producing well but 2 yrs ago if a Tanker could not enter port due to foul weather gas (petrol) prices at the pump went up 20c. Wall St must not be in on this one.

Then there was a shortage and growth; today there is a glut and recession.

We're hitting another cycle down right now. Eventually the glut will disappear and prices will spike back up, relatively speaking.

Edit: Welcome to TOD. Stick around and read the on-going analysis of production and consumption, and the dynamics will make a lot more sense. This blowout is an unfortunately engaging, urgent, distraction from the slow-motion train-wreck of oil depletion that is the normal fare at TOD.

I've been thinking that they may be getting bit by a consequence for a large organization of not being completely truthful with the public.

It makes sense that the legal people would have issued instructions stating that in publicly released estimates should be the lowest remotely plausible. Then others in the organization hear them through the media find themselves defending them out of loyalty and end up believing the the estimate. It becomes the truth within the society

Eventually one of these believers ends up charged with arranging processing capacity.

Just speculation.

.....right. I'm sure these were sitting completely empty awaiting this disaster so that they could immediately sail when you called....... I doubt "penny pinching at BP" had anything to do with it.

You would benefit from listening to the Admiral. The Q4000 can process some oil and a bigger processing platform has been in the works for the last several weeks. (If it would boost your ego perhaps you can think that BP heard your laments 4 weeks ago and are following your advice because, of course, nobody from industry or the government would have have thought of such a thing!)

Obviously the fine should be based on some much higher rate in the absence of solid data. Say, 100Kbpd, or whatever a worst-case unconstrained flow would be?

I hope they back-date the estimates based on what is eventually known. Looking more like 20Kbpd than 10Kbpd now that 10K is being collected.

Due to not wanting independent video.

This is the only crime scene ever controlled by the suspect.

I don't know, what about what goes on in the Oval Office or the backrooms of the House and Senate?

"Robert Gibbs, White House Press staff, stated that BP has not provided accurate flow estimates due to fact that they are fined based on these rates."

I think that's the first time I've heard the most obvious reason given for their reluctance to provide that data. $4300/barrel of oil is going to add up quickly, and encourages BP to use dispersants (so the amount of oil on the surface where it can be skimmed and measured) as well.

I've been saying that for a while now, but it's nice to hear a solid bald-faced accusation coming from the White House.

I personally believe BP is being truthful when it says it doesn't know how much oil is coming out, but that's because it has two huge reasons to keep its head in the sand and avoid accurate measurement:

1) Fewer barrels spilled = billions less in fines
2) Desperate hope that the spill volume is less than the processing capacity of their drillship. As I put it last night:

"Welp, that there looks to me like a 5-gallon pile of horsepucky we gotta clean up."
"I dunno boss, looks like at least 10 gallons to me."
"Nope. 5 gallons, I'm sure of it."
"How do you know?"
"'Cause I only brought a 5-gallon bucket."

I should think that kerosene based dispersants should also be eligible for a pollution equivalent per barrel fine. I'm sure that under any other circumstance, they are not permitted to be discharged.

Dumb idea.

If you punish them for using dispersants - then they will simply stop using dispersants.

Using an estimate of 100 million barrels spilled as of today (source: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/05/01/us/20100501-oil-spill-trac... ), we would be at $430 billion in fines. BP's market cap value: $116 billion. BP annual revenue: $272 billion.

If you're talking fines, why not use the 'Gov. Ave" number of 29.7 mm gallons, plain as day in your source. Take this number and divide by 42, then multiply by your selected fine number in US dollars.

No need to conjure sensational headlines at the Oil Drum, your source has it covered.

Since the NYT article was using gallons, not barrels, you might want to divide that $430B by 42. More like ~$10B.

Please show the link to the Gibbs quote as it is not from today's press conference that dealt with the issue.

Not exactly the words as used by OP - Gibbs used a more tactful way to say it would be inappropriate to use BP's figures given the circumstances. The implication was still pretty clear.

Gibbs: The amount of oil that leaks will help determine the fine that BP incurs, so while our interests align on capping this well, we would never ask BP to tell us how much oil they think has leaked in order for us to determine the compensation and penalties that is to be derived from it.

16:58 minutes into Allen & Gibbs press briefing 6/7

I watched the whole thing. He added on to Thad stating all along the government was required to do a calculation from many data sources to get a figure for energy balance, remediation and followup and that BP was not doing a calculation like their team is doing. That $4300/brl has been thrown around in the press but may not even come into play.
A lot of factors go into the determination of if and how much including how well remediation is done. Remember the fines were in the same legislation as the $75 million cap. Given that BP voluntarily overrode the cap and has been proactive with things like $500 million for research, paying for dredging that La. has been crying for for years, etc, the penalty may not be so large (also that top one is in the case of gross negligence that may be difficult to prove if MMS signed off on things).

No-- fines are in the Clean Water Act.

Thad Allen’s press conference: BP is obtaining a ship that can hold 20K bd (today or tomorrow)

Not quite .. the additional capacity brought on when the Q4000 is processing flow from the BOP will result, combined with the Discover Enterprise, in a total of 20,000 bbd production capability, not an additional 20,000 bbd. I haven't seen any figures on the capacity of the large rig they have heading in from the North Sea.

See the first few minutes of Thad Allen's press briefing 6/7 . (I had to go back and watch it again too, because I wasn't sure exactly what he said.)

Like other posters here, I've wondered why they weren't ready to bring on additional capacity sooner. I know they've been planning to do so for a while - see Kent Wells' 5/31 briefing. Did they not expect the containment cap to work? or work as well as quickly as it has? or is the prep work on the Q4000 to turn it from sending mud to accepting oil/gas just that complicated?

Did they not expect the containment cap to work?

I am guessing that BP really don't know the flow rate is that bad. i.e. they don't exactly believe in what the government projection.. the other possibility is that it really take that long to try to arrange additional capacity (logistic, negotiation with other company to release ship) etc.. There were thinking top kill has 60-70% chance, so they may not have speed up the effort until it fail...

Given the scope of the disaster, BP could have had any ship or platform it wanted from the North Sea on-site yesterday (even if, say, StatOil had to cut production to make it available) *IF* BP was willing to pay for the lost production. April 20 and 21 are a month and a half in the past now.

Monetary, and not technical, constriants were the reason why oil that could be processed will be dumped into the Gulf instead.


Need an oil tanker real quick? What about the giant fleet of idle ships said to be floating at anchor off Singapore? These ships were idled by the current recession but remain (supposedly) serviceable in case the world experiences an economic recovery. Most of them are cargo ships of various kinds, but surely some of them must be oil tankers. I wonder if anyone has checked out that fleet. Or elsewhere -- are we saying there's no meaningful surplus capacity in the world tanker fleet at this time? Wouldn't that be kind of odd, during a recession?

Here you go - check them out yourself: http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/


One more data point on April 20th

obtained a three-page signed statement from a crew member on the boat that rescued the burning rig's workers. The sailor, who Buzbee refuses to name for fear of costing him his job, was on the ship's bridge when Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell, a top employee of rig owner Transocean, was speaking with someone in Houston via satellite phone. Buzbee told Mother Jones that, according to this witness account, Harrell was screaming, "Are you f*cking happy? Are you f*cking happy? The rig's on fire! I told you this was gonna happen."

Contradicted by sworn testimony by Harrell later.



Modified slightly to keep TOD from being blocked by filters.

Alan -- No idea if that story is true but there will be sworn testimonies where all statements will be reported if they occured. But no one's lawyer is going to allow anyone to comment officially until they are under oath. Probably be the better part of a year till then. But someone will be crucified be they guilty or innocent. This wasn't an "act of God" IMHO. Someone violated safe drilling practices...I have no doubt that expert witnesses will grind that point into the ground for weeks IMHO.

If you were Jimmy Harrell what would you say under oath?

The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Best Hopes for Integrity and Veracity !


If I were Jimmy I would tell the truth and bear the consequences. But to not be heroic: too many eyes on board will tell the true story. b
Bad enought to screw up and kill 11 hands. A bad judgment call. But lying about it puts you into a different class...a much lower one IMHO.

I think that "contradicted" is a little too strong. Here is a Houston Chronicle article:


Coast Guard hearing: Witness pushed for negative pressure test
May 27, 2010

Harrell said he didn't believe it was safe to proceed without the test before replacing drilling mud with lighter sea water in the mile-long riser connecting the rig to well equipment on the sea floor.

In a morning meeting aboard the rig on April 20, he said he made the recommendation to BP's well site leader, Robert Kaluza, who agreed that negative pressure tests should be performed. Later that day, two negative tests were done and were considered successful, Harrell testified. 
He appeared to dispute testimony from a day earlier by Douglas Brown, Transocean's chief mechanic aboard the rig, who described a skirmish between Harrell and Kaluza about the negative test.

"There wasn't an argument or nothing," Harrell said. "I did ask a few of them to stay back to discuss a negative test before displacing with sea water."

Harrell says there was a "discussion" instead of an argument. It appears that multiple people are going to testify that the "discussion" was fairly spirited. In any case, I would think that the key driver here is that eleven good men died, and there is an open criminal investigation.

If Harrell approved the final completion procedure prior to the blowout (displacing the mud in the riser with seawater), despite strong misgivings, I would think that this admission might support a criminal negligence charge. So, I suspect that Kaluza and Harrell may have decided that if they don't hang together, they may hang separately. Just my 2¢ worth.

While the rig was connected to the well, OIM was in command of the vessel, BP in charge of well design, drilling, casing and cement. OIM Harrell and Sr Toolpusher Ezell were rolled by visiting BP execs to "get 'er done" so they could move the rig. Sworn testimony means nothing. Halliburton is going to fry them all with well data and on-the-record warnings before the blowout. Transocean's defense is contractual indemnity for blowout and BP improvising instead of following the Drilling Plan.

BP and Transocean will probably lay blame on individuals like Harrell, Ezell, Vidrine, Kaluza, O'Brien, Sims, and Hafle. I don't think they can pin it on the dead toolpusher or driller who were told what to do by the OIM and company men. The wild card now is immunity granted to Kaluza or Vidrine.

In any case, it seems likely to me that deepwater GoM exploration in US waters is pretty much kaput, and I doubt Congress will tolerate a Chinese takeover of BP America's assets. Receivership and piecemeal auction maybe, no supermergers.

Ugh, this is probably true. It always flows downhill; it won't be the guys pushing to save a few bucks who get blamed, it will be the schmucks who got browbeaten into going along with it. "It wasn't our stupid ideas, it was these people who should have known better than to listen to our stupid ideas! Oh, and Big Government!"

I bet deepwater oil will be back on course in 2 years or less. There is too much money to be made, and too much money available for making it happen. You can already find plenty of apologists testing the waters with the normal claptrap.

lots of information starting to bubble out ....i just hope all the rig crew have enough sense to keep their mouths shut and wait till testimony time.....they're all simple people and the MSM is just out looking for tasty sound bites ...hope the lawyers have advised all workers not to go out looking for two minutes of fame just yet.

the truth will out here no doubt....by august this will be too big a mess to sweep under the carpet

Operators -- BP 65%, Anadarko 25%, Mitsui 10%
Drilling contractor - Transocean
Cementing - Halliburton
BOP - Cameron

all big boys here ......someone is going to get hurt here.....

Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

3d opera - very very appropriate

MotherJones article now blocked...
Here it is from another site:

A prominent Houston attorney with a long record of winning settlements from oil companies says he has new evidence suggesting that the Deepwater Horizon's top managers knew of problems with the rig before it exploded last month, causing the worst oil spill in US history.
Tony Buzbee, a lawyer representing 15 rig workers and dozens of shrimpers, seafood restaurants, and dock workers, says he has obtained a three-page signed statement from a crew member on the boat that rescued the burning rig's workers. The sailor, who Buzbee refuses to name for fear of costing him his job, was on the ship's bridge when Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell, a top employee of rig owner Transocean, was speaking with someone in Houston via satellite phone.

Buzbee told Mother Jones that, according to this witness account, Harrell was screaming, "Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig's on fire! I told you this was gonna happen."

Whoever was on the other end of the line was apparently trying to calm Harrell down. "I am fucking calm," he went on, according to Buzbee. "You realize the rig is burning?"

At that point, the boat's captain asked Harrell to leave the bridge. It wasn't clear whether Harrell had been talking to Transocean, BP, or someone else.

On Friday a spokesman for Transocean said he couldn't confirm or deny whether the conversation took place. He was unable to make Harrell available for an interview.

During hearings held late last month by the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, Harrell denied any conflicts with his BP or Transocean bosses. He said that he did not feel pressured to rush the completion of the well, even though the rig had fallen behind schedule.


...continued from above

Yet Buzbee's claims add weight to other statements that contradict Harrell's version of events. Testifying before the Coast Guard and MMS panel last month, Douglas Brown, the chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon, said that on the morning of the day that the rig exploded Harrell had a "skirmish" over drilling procedures during a meeting with BP's "company man," well site leader Robert Kaluza. "I remember the company man saying this is how it's going to be," Brown told the panel. As Harrell was leaving the meeting, according to Brown, "He pretty much grumbled, 'I guess that's what we have those pincers for,'" referring to the blowout preventer on the sea floor that is supposed to be the last resort to prevent a leak in the event of an emergency. The blowout preventer failed following the explosion on the rig, causing the massive spill. (Transocean's chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, also recalled the argument but named a different BP "company man," BP's top official on the rig, Donald Vidrine).
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Transocean appeared to back the claims that Harrell had feuded with BP: "The testimony certainly seems to suggest that [Harrell] disagreed with the operator's instructions, but what those were and why he disagreed are matters that will ultimately be determined during the course of investigations."
Other rig workers have also claimed that they were pressured by BP and their supervisors to cut corners. Transocean roustabout Truitt Crawford told the Coast Guard that he overheard senior management saying that BP was "taking shortcuts" by replacing drilling mud in the well with saltwater, which would have provided less weight to contain the well's surging pressure. Transocean's Williams told 60 Minutes that a supervisor had dismissed evidence that the well's blowout preventer had been damaged. And workers with Halliburton, the well's cementing contractor, had complained that BP's use of cement "was against our best practices" and told the oil company that it would likely have "a SEVERE gas flow problem" unless the well's casings were centered more carefully.
Buzbee told Mother Jones that the sailor's version of Harrell's phone conversation following the explosion was corroborated by a statement from a second crew member who says he also overheard the call. Both statements were taken in-person by Buzbee's investigator and safety consultant, who has interviewed some 60 people involved in the disaster, and signed by the witnesses, he said. Buzbee declined to make the full statements available to Mother Jones because, he said, "it is work product, meaning that it is something that I do not have to produce or disclose in litigation but that can be used at the right time in the litigation." He added that he intends to take a deposition from the crew members at a later time.
Buzbee's case against the operators of the Deepwater Horizon is hardly his first foray into suing major oil companies. After a BP refinery in Texas City exploded in 2005, killing 15 workers and injuring dozens more, he won $100 million in punitive damages from the company. In the wake of the 2002 shipwreck of the Prestige oil tanker, which devastated the coast of Galicia, he won a $70 million settlement for Spain's Basque government from the American Bureau of Shipping, which had inspected and approved the vessel. And he's also nabbed $15 million from Transocean and $6.2 million from Halliburton for injured offshore oil workers.
Yet Buzbee is convinced that the Gulf oil spill lawsuit will be his biggest ever. "It's the grandaddy of all cases," he said. "This is going to define BP and whether BP survives. This is going to be the biggest case in the history of the United States, no doubt about it."
This piece was produced by Mother Jones as part of the Climate Desk collaboration


Red's very interesting point made me wonder if folks realize how close quarters are on a rig. We'll probably hear more about overheard conversations as the investigation goes forward. Though the rig is massive most work spaces are relatively small. Especially true in the quarters. Difficult to have a private conversation unless you make a serious effort. Heck...difficult to scratch your butt w/o 3 other hands knowing it. Add that to the fact that a man is just as much (if not more so) a gossep as a woman. One hand hears an argument between the company man and the OIM and by the end of the next meal time a dozen will have the details.

There is also a long standing habit in the oil patch when a hand is over ruled on some tech issue. You tend to make a point of telling another hand or two about it. Sort of a CYA move. Not as good as having a video of the conversation but does carry some weight.

Why there aren't unused valves 'all over the place' as both suction access points to hook up new pipe and to temporarily divert the high pressure flow, for repair,is beyond me. At the very least if the the top of the BOP had a two gang valve manifold, you could have shut off the flow to the damaged riser and bolted a Full sized NEW riser to the spare one.

"It seems that a major flaw in conventional designs of BOPs is that once the blind shear rams are actuated, if the drillpipe isn't immediately severed its difficult to return the shear rams to their initial position to reattempt closure."

The existing hydraulic cylinders on these BOPs can supply hundreds of thousands of pounds of opening force. They are designed to overcome the self energizing force of the rams and open them under full working pressure. I am not sure where this idea came from.

Personal ignorance - in the simplified diagrams I've seen it wasn't clear that there were secondary cylinders or other means to open the shear rams, though obviously the blind ram had to be opened and closed for pressure tests.

Thanks for the insight.

I haven't found a good schematic or cutaway drawing online, but the BOP operating cylinders are double-acting. (Father's company used to represent a BOP manufacturer in Venezuela, and I made a couple of plant tours, plus visited their booth (and the competition) at the OTC (Offshore Technology Conference).

I don't have a catalog or any other data available, but I would guess that the pistons are about 18 or 20" in diameter, so a 3000 psi control system could apply a closing force of 760,000 to 940,000 lbs of force. The ram shaft diamater should be 5 or 6 inches, and the opening force would be a little less, but when opening (1) wellbore pressure helps push the rams outward, and (2) the rams don't have to shear pipe as they open.

1,850,000 lbs force per Cameron brochure


I have a question about the BOP activation sequence. Knowing the BOP has a pressure limit then am I correct in thinking that if the well pressure exceeds the BOP rating then activating the BOP is not an option? HO stated that shut in pressures can be much higher than the flowing well pressure and that makes sense. Dose this mean that you only have a limited time to activate the BOP if the drilling operation encounters a kick which starts displacing the heavy drill mud with the lighter oil? At some point the velocity of the oil flowing up the well coupled with the loss in downward pressure as a result of losing your drill mud will exceed the BOP rated pressure?

I am an automotive engineer so this is way out of my league but I am very thankful for all of the time everyone has spent posting accurate information. It is the best resource I have found trying to educate myself on the current crisis.

Thanks to everyone.

Blowout Preventers are supposed to be activated before you have a blowout. That is why they are named Preventers instead of Arrestors. Its difficult to stop a blowout in progress because you can have drill string, casing and other equipment blowing out of the hole along with the oil and gas. There are signs that a blowout is imminent, which were apparently missed in this case, that give enough warning to close the BOPs before you are in a catastrophic situation. That being said, BOPs are tested to at least 1.5 times working pressure during development and would probably be used even if the well pressure exceeded the rating. In this case the BOPs rating (15,000 psi) exceed all the estimates of the formation pressures that I have seen.

OK, so I took a bit of a beating yesterday for saying that there was no way that that was all oil, not an oil/water mix, which is OK I've been wrong before I'll be surely be wrong again, but now we find they are indeed sucking in a lot of water.

But, as far as I know they still have not released the actual percentages of oil / water mix. Or did I miss it? Anyone know? Thanks.

It is really hard to square the oil/gas shooting OUT from the cap with a notion that water is getting in. The two possibilites are:

1. The flow is so turbulent that while the NET direction is out, some water is still getting in.

2. They are somehow allowing water in upstream.

Good question. The quote from the other day was 5,000 barrels recovered and it's My understanding Water isn't separated until after the measurement has taken place? So how much oil is it? Maybe one of the paid shills can set Me straight on this one.

The plain truth from James Howard Kunstler:

The obvious remedy for the oil-and-car problem would be to live in walkable towns and neighborhoods served by the kind of public transit that people are not ashamed to ride in. But it may be too late for that. We're going to be a much poorer society from now on. We squandered the financial resources for that transition on too many other things. We're stuck with our investments in houses and their commercial accessories, built where they were built, and no Jolly Green Giant is going to pick them up and move them closer together in an artful way that adds up to real towns. A reorganization of American life will occur, but now it will be on much less deliberate terms, a much messier and more destructive operation, a default to the smaller scale by extreme necessity, with a lot of losses along the way. The Deepwater Horizon incident only hastens the process.


Lessismore: You obviously have bought into the fact that we must have/get less in the future. Not so fast. The incentives to find more and better alternate sources of energy that will enable us and others around the world to continue to have/use/want more than we absolutely need will drive development and availibility. There may be short term blips (10years+) that cause marginal incomes to have to reduce their scale of consumption, but that is always the case in any transition, especially of this scope and magnitude.
I don't buy less is more. Less is just less.

It's always nice to have visitors from Fantasy Island.

It's possible that some new members have no idea this is a peak oil site.

I find it interesting that so many are so impressed by the knowledge of both industry experts and others at TOD, but have not stopped to ponder how it is that a group of such knowledgeable people believe in such ridiculous things as peak oil and the likely consequences of it. You'd think perhaps one might consider that a group that seems to have its crap together might be on to something.

It's more than possible, it's certain. I was such a person a week ago.

People here got so used to preaching to the choir and arguing finer points of the denomination that it's to recognize there is a whole new world in the congregation. :)

Hopefully some will stick around even when the gulf mess is over.

Where natural resources do their "loaves and fishes" thing.

I concur. The Earth is unlimited. I believe we have room on this planet for 50 billion people, maybe more. Why not? Let's go for it.

We had better start work on that Dyson sphere soon.

50 billion is so weak, I say 100. At a very high standard of living, each with two cars. And it's a god given right to have ice drivetrains.

I'm always amused by the "we'll find a solution, just you wait" crowd. Sometimes, facts are just facts, and you're not entitled to your own fantasy version of reality.

There is always a solution. This doesn't mean that there is always a *good* solution.

Sometimes life stinks.

How about "There's always an outcome" instead? A solution suggests some problem has been solved. Predicaments can't get solved; they just are, and we muddle on to the best of our ability.

The "incentives" you speak of are the cause of the Horizon blowout. All of the easy oil is rapidly depleting, so we are left with the hard-to-get oil and the steadily rising cost of extracting it. You seem to believe technology will give us all the energy we need. Take a look at your car battery. Its technology hasn't changed fundamentally in nearly a century. The assumption that the exponential pace of Moore's law sets the tempo for all technological progress is a massive popular delusion. Peak Oil is here, and the sooner we accept it as a reality, the sooner we can act to preserve our increasingly fragile civilization.

Kunstler's been pumping that book since the 70s.

Righto. I prefer my warnings to come last second like. I will probably wait until I am having a heart attack to have my cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Then I will institute a diet and exercise regimen which, if started 10 years earlier, would have prevented my (now occurring) heart attack. Think about it: you can never plan too early.

Aside from being free of substance or import, your assertion is simply factually incorrect.

If PE's didn't sign off, it's probably because they were afraid as h*** to get their signature on the document. I'm a PE (Tx, WI, and Miss) and I have quit jobs before I would put my signature on this crap they call design.

Here is a hindsight post for you. Why was there no containment on the rig? Understand the riser was designed to hold 5000psi (tested to 7500psi). That means you could have a bop designed to hold 7500psi on the rig along with choke and kill lines. If you had a bop and a snubbing unit set on all rigs, you could have controlled this well at the rig even if it meant allowing it to scream while holding back 5000psi and running a drill string to bottom to kill the well. I am sure there are reasons this cannot be done, but I doubt they go far beyond economic.

There are two new LMRP caps on the bottom, and Viking Poseidon ROV 1 is looking them over.

One has two vents that are taller, and appear to have valves that can be controlled from the surface.

The second has four significantly taller vents that, in addition to having remote control over the vent openings, may have sensors (or possibly built in dispersant dispensers) halfway up the vent tube. The tops of the vent tubes also appear to have flapper caps, similar to what you see on big rig exhausts.


These appear to be 2 of the alternate designs, #3 and #5. (#4 is the one is the one they installed) They seem very interested in the valves on #3. I wonder what they are thinking?

My guess is that they want to switch to one of these designs because if they are controllable from the surface, and can dispense dispersant, they can free-up the valuable ROVs for other tasks.

Instead of using three ROVs to monitor, close/open vents, and spray dispersant, they can probably get by with one just to monitor.

They could also have built a better sealing system into the cap, as well as some internal redesigns to improve the flow into the end of the pipe.

I think they should try in a little more intelligently directed manner to see if riser bolts can be loosened by an ROV. They should have at least gotten past the part where the socket wouldn't fit on the bolt before giving up on that.

It is a shame that there is a system for making secure, leak free connections to the well, but it isn't being used because they don't have an ROV friendly wrench for it.

I think you may be right. They have been closely examining #3 for quite some time. It is like they are having a meeting topside, and having the ROV pilot zoom in on things of interest.

I think they should try them all on, and let the public vote for their favorite.

ROTFLOL, yes let's have a vote on it, it's the Amerikan way!

ROTFLOL, yes let's have a vote on it, it's the Amerikan way!

I think this article accurately assesses the situation:



Perhaps someone is also interested in this:


It's an chronological report of BP on how the desaster started...


Can't get to it. It's been downloaded 10 times and now it's shut off.

Especially the part on page 37 seems to be interesting. Where they mention that undocumented modifications on the BOP were discovered by the ROVs and that only test rams were activated instead of the right ones...

I suspect they never did try to close the Blind Rams

Grrr. According to rig survivor Mike Williams, the BOP was known to be faulty for 3-4 weeks prior to the explosion. Here is a link to William's interview on 60 minutes:


I have to admit that I have not read all of the previous threads but will still offer an opinion (It may have been said before)
After calculating the Burst pressures of all the Casing and pipe involved it is clear that they were unprepared to have a well under 9000 psi (As anybody would be). It has been said that the BOP's did not function properly......I am thinking that they do not WANT to plug this Well because the problem caused further down with their inadequate Casing is a much scarier thing to face then the Billowing BOP. Siphoning off the Oil is as good as it gets until the relief Wells are drilled....Christmas?

Not being an expert, but putting 2 and 2 together from what those who are experts have posted:
There is a good chance that if they actually stop the flow with any sort of topside kill the well will "crater". If my understanding of this is accurate in this case it will mean wide open, uncontrollable, uncapturable, flow from some level beneath the mud ocean bottom.

If people think that the current spill is bad, they'd be looking at an apocalyptic scenario if that happened.

The designs and methods we have seen implemented appear to be the brain child of highly academic minds.
Instead we need men who have hands on practical knowledge.
Men who pull their cars apart, know how to use tools, know how to overcome obstacles without the right tools.

Yeah, 'cause as we all have learned in our trips to the car mechanic, THESE guys always get it right the first time, never miss anything, and always know what the problem is.

Anti-intellectualism may be popular, but it's not a whole lot more workable than any other knee-jerk "ism."

bb551: You and I have the same mechanic!!!

Not academics - these are the engineers in BP & other oil companies who manage all technical aspects of oil industry.

Yeah, those good old days where 'men' chewed nails while others chewed cotton candy.. and the sheep were scared. Those good old days.

I guess there's no women who know how to do any of those things...

scare the sheep?

I live Out West and the saying goes:

Where men are men
And the sheep tremble.

Of course - my query was regarding the fairer sex and the woolly ones...

Interesting new comments from "a technician" in the NY Times article:

A second system is being prepared that would use the pipes and other equipment installed for the failed “top kill” effort two weeks ago to collect oil from the well. That oil would be siphoned up to a rig, the Q4000, that is at the site. The Q4000 is not equipped to separate gas and oil, however, so crews are hurriedly modifying it to do so.

BP officials have said the system using the Q4000 could be ready by next weekend.

Taken together, BP executives say, they should be able to eventually contain a vast majority of the leaking oil. Then, by early July, BP plans to replace the new containment cap with another device called an “overshot tool,” which is heavier and more tightly sealed. “That would capture even more oil” than the current cap, said Toby Odone, a BP spokesman.

also this comments from the "technician:"

When the cap was first lowered last week, the company said it hoped to close all four vents gradually to increase the collection rate.

But a technician involved in the effort said Monday that it was unlikely that the other three vents would be closed — both because the surface ship, the Discoverer Enterprise, was near the 15,000-barrel limit of the amount of oil it could process, and because of concern that closing more vents would create more pressure that would force the cap off.

The Q4000 is not equipped to separate gas and oil, however, so crews are hurriedly modifying it to do so.

ahh ... so that may explain why it is taking a while to get the Q4000 working.


As of this timestamp, not a single feed is focused on the top cap. Might be just the coincidence of the one feed permanently watching it being down momentarily.

I still don't like it.

Get used to it. :)

Skandi Neptune's Herc 6 is on the cap, timestamp matches current time, 14:52. Herc 14 is surfacing. I only have 5 feeds running, there may be a second ROV stationed at the cap, can't tell from Herc 6's view - there's usually 3 ROVs on the cap. Stop inventing stuff.

Btw: Good site to view all 12 cams on one site...


Thanks, but I have the direct akamai feeds playing in separate Media Player Classic windows, so I can resize them individually and take screencaps of anything interesting. I have not seen anything that supports any of the crazy conspiracy theories.

For instance, here's a series of shots a lot of people would cite as PROOF!!!1one of a seafloor blowout/mystery plume, if they were shown only a few select images. The whole thing in context makes perfect sense.

Akamai feeds are great. I use them too. Not asking comfy to agree with me, and ridicule is fair if you choose. I'm content to wait on events.

Thad Allen seems pretty concerned about the condition of the well bore. He said today the top cap is releasing pressure from the well, and they don't know the condition of the well bore. In the Times, it was reported they assigned an ROV the task of monitoring the sea floor during the top cap operation, and were monitoring for leaks. At some point in last several days, he said they were getting some sand coming up through the oil being diverting to the surface. Is this just an ounce of prevention, or do they have reason to be concerned and anxious about these things?


That's exactly what I was doing.

At the time I was watching there were 11 cameras either doing something else or shut down, then the one watching the cap went to color bars for a long enough time for me to refresh, get the bars again, check the Skandi feed in BP's raw-feed window and comment here.

I was hoping, as I assume turned out to the case, that it was simply an ordinary and to-be-expected temporary interruption.

But I saw what I saw and I DON'T LIKE IT. They should have redundancy on the feeds showing the top cap.

There are usually 3 of them parked at the cap when nothing else is happening. Are you saying that if there are jobs that need to be done, to you know, STOP THE DAMN LEAK, those jobs should be postponed so they can keep more than one ROV on station to appease the folks watching the live feeds?



That's exactly what I'm saying. If they have to send down one or two camera-only devices because the other ROVs are needed elsewhere, that's what they should do.

Now that I think of it, they should have at least one camera permanently anchored, motionless and permanently transmitting so we can do comparative examinations without all this folderol about different angles or zoomed-in or -out shots.

Skandi ROV 2

Everything isn't a conspiracy.

Isn't this a view of the bottom of the cap? The fins at the bottom of the cap are visible. It is not a view of the top in which you can see the four valves that can be closed to direct more of the flow up the pipe. For quite a while after the cap was placed over the riser/LMRP remnant one camera was focused on a manipulator holding one of the valve controls. Perhaps since they may not be planning to close any more valves until the Q4000 comes online they are now using that ROV for other tasks.



I triple-checked that Skandi 2 feed in two different media-delivery platforms, including BP's raw feed.

Not only did I NOT claim a conspiracy, I explictly surmised that it was simply a coincidence.

Yet, I STILL don't like it. Do I have right to my opinion that I don't like it when continuous monitoring of the top cap is unavailable, even for a short time, and even if it's easily explainable as an ordinary techincal interruption?

What is Enterprise ROV 1 up to? It's working at the base of the BOP stack and appears to be trying to place a dispersant gun down there.


One capture of 4 cams, 3 of them looking at the same thing at the same time, it looks vastly different from each one. Yet it's the exact same crap coming out of the exact same place.

But, but, BP's got good PR! (Look away, nothing to see here. Take that respirator off!)

Here's the exact Robert Gibbs quote someone was asking for:

Q Right, but then it took until Sunday, day 41, for Carol Browner to say, you know what, BP’s information is not accurate. Why did it take so long?

MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, no, let’s not — I think you’re confusing about eight issues into one. Let’s understand — no, the flow rate is an important aspect to talk about, and let’s discuss it because I’m not sure we’ve briefed since the flow rate group talked about this.

The initial estimates that were done used overhead photography to measure the amount of oil on the surface, right? We know that through the use of subsea dispersants it’s likely that not everything is going to the top, right? So — and even with the picture that many of you guys are using on television, it’s a — it’s not sufficiently of the dimension to fully measure the flow, right?

We’ve never been dependent upon BP for information about the flow. In fact, I think you’ve heard many in the administration discuss accurately that — because fines for BP will largely be determined by the amount of pollution emitted, that they may not altogether have the same transparent public interest that we do in ensuring the public knows exactly — to the best of our scientific ability — what’s coming from the well.


Could we get a separate topic for the drilling and the information that came out of Mark Hafle's congressional hearing?

I agree with this. I would be very interested to hear what members thought of his testimony to Joint Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation (by MMS and Coast Guard):


From the AP story on the Yahoo News homepage right now:

"The newer cap will "provide a better, tighter fit" than the current one collecting roughly one-third to three-fourths of the oil gushing daily from the sea floor, company spokesman Robert Wine told The Associated Press."

Not 33%-75%, but roughly 33%-75%. So maybe 30%-80% ...somewhere, y'know, in that range... just to give you an idea...

Based on the timeline in the Kent Wells tech briefing, the "Overshot Cap" project is scheduled for sometime in July, so this "newer cap" is most likely the Overshot Cap.

Frankly, I don't trust half of what I read in the press, because most reporters are too stupid to understand what's going on, so they don't know what questions to ask, and once they get an answer, don't know how to interpret what they heard.

It's obvious that BP is preparing to exchange the current LMPR cap for a re-engineered version -- probably in the next day or two -- as two updated ones have been placed on the bottom.

Re: The Overshot Cap, this appears to essentially be a semi-permanent solution that will be bolted with a hard seal to the top of the LMRP (assuming they can loosen the bolts). It can be bolted to the LMRP because it will have a riser that will ascend to a huge subsurface floating containment/connector system which will be moored 300 ft below the surface. The drill or capture ship will connect to this undersea floating connector system and be able to easily disconnect at will in the event of a hurricane.

The question I have is whether this new system will have the ability to capture and store the equivalent of 24 - 48 hours of oil and gas unattended, or if during a hurricane, the oil will simply be vented from that structure.

The drill or capture ship will connect to this undersea floating connector system and be able to easily disconnect at will in the event of a hurricane.

and I wonder if that capture ship is one of the rigs coming from the North Sea that was mentioned during this morning's briefing.

Basic Data Review

Would just like to assemble a listing of our current best guess for various parameters, would be grateful for input if anyone knows different.

1) Reservoir Pressure - 11900 psia at 18100 ft sub sea

This is from the 24th May BP presentation. They will have used formation testing tools during logging and will know this very accurately (they distinguish for example a reservoir unit above the main pay with a slightly higher pressure)

2) Reservoir Temperature - 180 F

Reported on TOD, via AlanfromBigEasy apparently from data released to spill study teams. My first reaction was this seems a little low for the depth. Investigating, there are shallower hotter reservoirs in the area depending on which source data you believe (eg Ram Powell at 12500ft ss has 207 F (IHS) or 246 F (C&C Reservoirs)). But I have also seen data for Herschel which seems to the only nearby reservoir of comparable depth (17500 ft) which apparently has 170 F).

3) Oil Density - 30-35 API

My unsupported working supposition. There does not seem to be a nearby example at higher than 32 API but these examples are generally shallower.

4) Gas Oil Ratio - 2000 scf/stb

An approximation based on the recent averaged flow data from the Enterprise (11000 b/d and 22 mmcf/d). Note that GOR actually depends on separation conditions, and is normally quoted as a volume of gas at standard conditions and stabilised oil at stock tank conditions. Its not clear where in the surface train these rates are measured. I think this GOR will be more reliable than the earlier figures quoted from the RIT as we will be capturing a more representative example of the wellstream (though potentially still biased to excess gas production)

Note also when considering oil rates; gas will be evolved from the oil as it travels up the wellbore, and up the drill pipe to the Explorer, and the oil volume shrinks. For every barrel entering the well, it is likely that by the time the oil ends up in a tank it will have reduced in volume by a factor in the range 1.7 to 2.1 (based on correlations for this oil type). Where in the system you measure any oil or gas rate is important as the proportion of each phase varies with pressure and temperature. This is why flow rates are normally quoted at reference standard conditions.

5) Shut-in pressure at BOP - around 8900 psia

Based on oil density of around 0.24 psi/ft by correlations. You will only see this pressure at the BOP if you stop the well from flowing. To make the well flow the pressure at the BOP HAS to be lower than this.

6) Flowing pressure at the BOP - 3500 psia

Early data quoted pressures in the range 8000-9000 psia, but as I have pointed out before, this would imply a very small pressure drop at the reservoir to generate the substantial rates estimated, and would also imply that all the pressure drop in the system occurs through the BOP (ie from 8000 psi to around 2600 psi in the riser before they removed it). This new figure was quoted by Thad Allen in recent interviews (it has been linked on TOD before but try as I might I can't locate it) and is more consistent with the concept that more of the pressure drop is occurring further down hole.

7) Flowing pressure at the reservoir - 9000 psia?

This was apparently also quoted by Allen in the same interview as a pressure at the reservoir though in terms that were less than crystal clear. I assume it is a flowing pressure since I have more confidence that the static reservoir pressure quoted above in 1) is well defined.

8) Reservoir Thickness - 53 ft

Main pay unit from BP presentation. No thickness quoted for upper unit, assume it is thin.

9) Reservoir Permeability - range 500 mD to 2000 mD ??

My working assumption based on quoted parameters (IHS, C&C) for similar Miocene turbidite reservoirs in the area.

10) Sea floor temperature - 40 F ?

My guess based on temperatures I've seen at similar depths elsewhere in the world.

A final request - would someone share with me how to embed a picture in a post? Thanks!

to embed a picture - first copy the picture to your website, to flickr, or somewhere online

then type <img src="insert the location of the image here">

but keep the image on the small side to product TOD's bandwidth!

Thanks! Got it sorted.

From memory, an LSU researcher got an early sample of oil spilled (i.e minimal if any weathering) and got API 35 in his lab. Minimal asphaltenes. Sorry no link.

Effects from transition up, etc. ??


NY Times: Dispersal of Oil Means Cleanup to Take Years, Official Says

Although the Coast Guard had trained for the possibility of cleaning up a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it had never anticipated that oil would spread across such a broad area and break up into hundreds of thousands of patches as the current spill has done, the commander heading the federal response to the spill said Monday.

“It’s the breadth and complexity of the disaggregation of the oil” that is now posing the greatest clean-up challenge, the commander, Adm. Thad W. Allen, said at a news conference at the White House.


First of all, as a new member here, I'd like to say that I have read many of the posts and learned a lot about the BP situation as it unfolds. I've spent many hours watching the BP video and watched as they cut the top of the riser off and the BOP and set the LMRP in place. I can just imagine how technically difficult this operation must have been.

I have what is probably a very obvious question: Why can't BP unbolt the riser remnant from the BOP top flange and bolt some attachment more to their liking that would capture 100% of the well flow? Something like a new riser?

Anyway thanks for all the great information.


I wouldn't have believed there was anyone left on the planet that doesn't know why BP has not 100% blocked off the well.

15,000 bbl per day,
$1,300,000 approx gross revenue daily
$468,000,000 approx gross revenue yearly.

What's the cost of a little spilled oil?

One year's revenue for the well? Peanuts.

Starting numbers at 10x that much. Revenue is not the same as profits.

Would Thunderhorse be profitable with a $10B fee on top? Doubt it........

The cost of a little spilled oil?

Let's start at $4300/barrel and go from there. If you assume even the low estimate volume and bill BP for only what has spilled up to today, they would owe the US billions of dollars just in the cost of fines alone, not including the cleanup, restoration of wetlands and paying out of damages for lost business.

Senator Bill Nelson reports the possibility that the sea floor is leaking oil.

FireDogLake: BP Well Bore And Casing Integrity May Be Blown, Says Florida’s Sen. Nelson, June 7

Oil and gas are leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC. Nelson, one of the most informed and diligent Congressmen on the BP gulf oil spill issue, has received reports of leaks in the well, located in the Mississippi Canyon sector. This is potentially huge and devastating news.

If Nelson is correct in that assertion, and he is smart enough to not make such assertions lightly, so I think they must be taken at face value, it means the well casing and well bore are compromised and the gig is up on containment pending a completely effective attempt to seal the well from the bottom via successful “relief wells”. In fact, I have confirmed with Senator Nelson’s office that they are fully aware of the breaking news and significance of what the Senator said to Andrea Mitchell.

What do we think of this development?

Oh, sh*t!

Leave us hope that a retraction/clarification/ or something is forthcoming!!!

Had the wrong search terms previously...

All I can find is this 'snippet' in the search engine at MSNBC...but for some reason - the damned link to the article isn't working for me...

Politics - Political News & Updates- msnbc.com
Updated 7 hours ago
Obama: Oil leak impact 'substantial, ongoing' msnbc tv ... Nelson: Oil about to turn the Gulf ‘on its head’ Andrea Mitchell Reports

Here's the segment on youtube.

Don't see anything on any of the major newswires...(or even on Nola.com). One of 'em woulda picked up and run with it if true, I think....

nola.com is bought off by BP. Back page ad of the TPicayune

If you look at the pressure and amount of what is exiting the Blowout Preventer there's still enough wellbore integrity to keep that level of flow going where its supposed to be going. I wouldn't panic but it makes me a quick supporter of the gentle Cap for now. Are they going to add a pump to get more of the spill-over?

That was my question. What would force it to emerge at the seabed? I think this is just people hoping for the worst so hard they think they're actually seeing it.

I would think we would be seeing evidence of that in the form of oil and gas bubbles coming up around the BOP and nearby if that were the case.

Here's what Nelson said exactly, in context:

Nelson: "Andrea, we're looking into something new right now, that there's reports of oil that's seeping up from the seabed which would indicate, if that's true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced, underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we're facing."

Andea: "Let me understand better what you're saying, because if it is true that it is coming up from the seabed then even the relief well won't be the final solution to cap this thing. That means that we've got oil gushing up at disperit places along the ocean floor.

Nelson: "That is possible unless you get the plug down low enough below where the pipe would be breached."

the remainder of the interview is pretty interesting too ...


Lets hope that those reports are just from bloggers....

Altho at least Allen said 25kbbl/day, finally.

I expect that the plug will be planned to begin at the bottom of the well, beginning at the relief well intersection, and going up several thousand feet.

Highly unlikely that an upper casing blowout has occurred. It would be obviously visible from many of the ROV camera angles and distances we have seen.

It could happen, and that is why I think they are so careful with the cap, but I don't think that it has happened.

Finita la musica, passata la fiesta.

[If true and that's a big "if".]

Let me clarify the source of this info. The post is by bmaz at emptywheel *which yes is hosted at the firedoglake site* but not the same as firedoglake.

bmaz is a lawyer, a very careful poster, who would not have broken this kind of news unless he had carefully sourced it. He has been carefully following the legal ramifications of this oil spill (in terms of criminality) for some time now. Not only is he a careful poster, but there is a loyal community of commenters thre who seek out information, share, and discuss it in great depth. I cannot vouch for the possiblity that oil may have bubbled up (or whatever the process would be) from a cracked casing or whatever the theory is, but I can vouch for bmaz as a careful and cautious reporter of information and a good follow-up source for what this might mean on a variety of levels.

Hope this is helpful! Best thing is to read his post and follow the thread to see where this may lead and how it connects up with the story they've been following re BP's potential criminal liability. (He was calling for a criminal indictment before an investigation was announced by the Justice Dept.)

See this comment from bmaz:

I just got off the phone with Senator Nelson’s office. I think it safe to say Nelson knew exactly what he was saying, has a factual basis for saying it and that this is a new admission from anybody in government or BP.


He's a Senator from Florida, for those who may not know. Thus likely following this closely. Not sure of his committees, but perhaps he is privvy to inside info one way or another.

Edit: Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (Nelson's on the sub-committee)

Edit 2: It is clear bmaz's research group is closely following TOD. That is evident from the comment string.

Edit 3: They are also on board with necessity of drilling more than 2 relief wells.

Is there any way to know this other than by looking at the ROV feeds, which people here seem to be following religiously?

He's a Senator. I doubt his info came from ROV feeds. There may be no way for an independent observer to assess this. And it sounds like it's a theory at the moment, but perhaps based on a preponderance of the evidence - some of which may be coming in to the govt.

This is a reputable source. This blog has broken many stories and won awards. It's a major, well-known, highly respected blog. Stories are written by emptywheel (who has a Ph.D.) and bmaz, a criminal lawyer with many years of experience.

Well, this is exactly what I have been worried about, ever since they claimed a rupture disk or other loss of pressure downwell was responsible for the failure of the top kill, especially since it seems unlikely that a rupture disk alone could cause that much loss of pressure. But, I am not an expert on this.

If anyone would like a copy of Dept of Interior INCREASED SAFETY MEASURES FOR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ON THE OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF I have pdf that I could email. Its 44 pages.

I'd suggest putting it up on (a) free file-sharing site(s) then posting the link(s). Megaupload, Mediafire, Badongo, ZShare... one or more of those.


Thanks for the info on Megaupload.

People can download it off the internet, for example:

American Petroleum Art

Monkeyfister's got it right: there's no change in the visible flowrate of oil cumming out of the wellhead-dick. The brown shitgasm continues to spill its heady seed into the formerly blue waters of the Gulf - and so too does the massive plume of bullshit from BP also continue to erupt forth in splendorous fountains.

Lots more sticky brown goo to make beautiful oil paintings with. Thanks BP!

Enjoy these beautiful American Petroleum Art specimens painted by British Petroleum. An Old World-New World collaboration that reaches past the bounds of today, into the yesterdays of tomorrow and the futures of your past.

You better drive a bicycle, hypocrite.


BP just issued an update covering the twelve hour period between Midnight last night and today:

Subsea operational update:

• From 12:00am to 12:00pm on June 7th, a total of 7,541 barrels of oil were collected and 15 million cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

• Operations during this period were stable.

• The next update will be provided at 9:00am CDT on June 8, 2010.

June 7, 2010 5:30 pm CDT / 11:30 pm BST


That's a 15K/day rate.

It also looks like a greater percentage of gas in the mix.

GOR 2000? E.g. stcf gas divided by bopd? That would be going down.

That means they're running at current capacity.

Until they get the direct connect on line that is as good as it is going to get.

Which really pisses me off. In a situation like this, there's no way the engineering should get ahead of the resources. This team has apparently figured out how to max out the Discovery Enterprise's capacity. That is an amazing accomplishment. Obviously more processing capacity is necessary right away.

cshenkel: You can bet your oily ass I drive a bicycle. Never drove anything else - and never will.

I recall the original LMRP plan involved delivering dispersant straight to the leak to mitigate damage from unproduced oil. Is this true & in effect? If so, can it account for some fraction of the current visible plume?

Insofar as these topics have been covered on TOD, links to MSM may be of interest and relevant. Have noted Nelson's comments are beginning to garner attention since people have gotten home from work and logged onto www. TOD may need another server.

Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon has leaked since at least April 30

"Escambia and Santa Rosa County emergency response officials released the following information this afternoon regarding the oil spill:

According to the NOAA plume model, the primary oil plume is less than five miles from Pensacola, 85 miles from Gulf County, and 260 miles from St. Petersburg,
with non contiguous sheens and scattered tarballs closer."

The other well is the one SkyTruth picked up, and would not be what Nelson was talking about. Also relatively speaking "minor." Lord knows what anyone is doing about it, aside from trying to disperse at the surface. IIRC that one is supposed to have been leaking since before Apr 26.