BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Matt Simmons on Dylan Ratigan Today, Closing the Relief Ports, and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6576.

Matt Simmons has been making claims about other, perhaps larger, problem areas within the structure of the Macondo well--by which even more oil has been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. We have not seen the evidence to support these claims, even though they have been mentioned in just about every thread we have put up.

Simmons was on with Dylan Ratigan today. That video is shown here in this evening's thread.


We would like to hear what you think--please avoid the conspiracy theory talk and assess the veracity of the claims that Simmons is making from a scientific point of view. We can find no other industry professional making the claims made in this interview, but we wanted to throw it open to the experts that lurk here to hear what the best and brightest thought about this instead of dancing around it--I'd rather have a thread, tear it apart, and put it to bed. So, if these claims need to be debunked, then let's tear them apart on the scientific merits for the record so that folks can be disabused of these ideas. So, is the situation MS describes possible/plausible? If so, how? If not, why not?

(Heading Out's post from this morning remains under the fold.) 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.

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

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

We are trying to perform a service to the public here to coordinate smart people who know their stuff with other people who want to learn about what's going on. Promotion of that ideal will be the criteria by which we make our decisions about what stays and what goes.

Flame wars, polemic exchanges, and other content deleterious to the community will be removed, either by an editor or by the community through its moderation process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Also, if you're looking for live chat to talk about the ROV/LMRP video, etc., and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

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

or you can get there just via a browser: http://webchat.freenode.net / Just enter a nickname and #theoildrum in the boxes; then when connected type /join #theoildrum)

6. Don't be afraid to go back and read the last couple of open threads yesterday and today before you start on this thread. They are really good, and will likely catch you up if you have been out of the loop for a while. We shut down threads when we get to 300-400 comments, as it's really unmanageable. Lots of good stuff in there though.
Comments can no longer be added to this story.

RM, you're hired! Four months, starting tomorrow! Tell the operators the more cooperation they provide the sooner they can get back to work.


Oh, sorry, I was having a dream.


IP -- One of my engineers and I were chatting about such a plan last week. Thought the best thing to do would be assign an ex-(Name a company) engineer to monitor ops by that company. Most ex's have an ax to grind based upon their experiences with their former company's management.
If folks thinks there's no hell like a woman scorned they should talk to some engineer who had his safety recommendations belittled be management for the sake of money. There's a couple of operators I would volunteer to monitor for free for a bit. Payback can be a bitch. And fun if you've got the power.

Rockman: "power" Ahhhh, the magic elixir.

Most ex's have an ax to grind based upon their experiences with their former company's management


If folks thinks there's no hell like a woman scorned they should talk to some engineer who had his safety recommendations belittled be management for the sake of money.

that'll get-r-dun

An ax to grind? Gosh, ya think?

I worked for a company for 21 years, forced to retire when I strongly objected to a particularly stupid (DUMB, IDIOTIC) project dreamed up be a board member. Turns out my old company lost millions on the deal; meanwhile, I was offered a job by their largest competitor (and retired from them after 8 years).

Hard feelings? Ahhh, YES. I'd love to be on the monitor end and doing it for free would be a pleasure.

Sounds lik we got the makin's of a posse sheriff...get a rope. LOL

"Revenge is a dish best served cold." — Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos (1741-1803), 
Les Liasons Dangereuses

There's a couple of operators I would volunteer to monitor for free for a bit.

Would one of them go by two letters ?



The discussion on TOD about this incident has got me thinking that the 6 month moratorium on DW drilling is probably a good idea, and should be extended to shallow water. Being in downstream, I had no idea the safety culture in upstream is so corrupted.

Don't forget, eleven men died on the Deep Horizon.

I certainly wouldn't want to work on any of these rigs until they were brought up to snuff safety wise. Whatever happened to OSHA?

Suggested salary (with gov't benefits) - $3 million/year for any year without a significant spill (>3,000 barrels) or blow-out resulting in fatalities.

In a bad year, $150,000/year

A little incentive package :-)


Alan -- I could line up 20 engineers tomorrow for a lot less money than that. Think about it: it's a pretty easy job: you're actually not "doing" anything...just watching. Likewise you dont have to be the smartest guy on the rig. Remember you're not designing what to do...you're basicly making sure they don't do what they aren't suppose to do. For instance you don't have to interpret the mud returns. Just make sure the guy who is suppose to be doing it is actually tracking it. You don't see him doing...write that $100,000 fine. You damn well that guy's replacement won't make that mistake.

I was just taking about YOUR salary as the new agency head :-)

I agree that one can, if you look hard enough, find good engineers willing to work for just $1 million/ year (with a bottle of sarcanol for Christmas/Holidays).

Best Hopes,


I get you now Alan. But I would do just fine: I get 20% of my consultans day rate. That's fairly standard. So figure at least 60 guys at $1500/day X 7 days/week. That's $18,000/day 365 days/year for me and I'm just sitting in a nice office in Houston. Think I would let my hands screw up a gig like that by not doing their jobs very well? First one that played footsie with an operator I would nail his nuts on my office door as a warning to the others. I am a VERY GOOD manager when properly motivated. LOL

A long time ago I had a crummy summer job as a construction inspector for sewer and water line. All I had to do was: a) make sure the laser alignments were correct, and b) the fill was compacted correctly, by using a little tester and watching the contractors. It was mundane, and I didn't get paid much.

It turned out that because there were 5-10 yr warrenties on the performance, people would listen to me because having to go back later and dig up an old sewer line sucked a lot more than re compacting 50 ft of fill.

It really isn't hard.

First one that played footsie with an operator I would nail his nuts on my office door as a warning to the others. I am a VERY GOOD manager when properly motivated. LOL

Now that's what I call a "Hands on Management Style!" ;^)

Rockman: Salary: "Eat what they kill."

Rockman wrote:

Just make sure the guy who is suppose to be doing it is actually tracking it. You don't see him doing...write that $100,000 fine.

What makes you think anyone will be willing to work under such conditions -- with a "safety dictator" that can fine them $100,000 for the slightest mistake watching their every move? Would you accept employment under that kind of constraint?

You people appear to have lost all contact with reality.

It's not like the guy will pay the fine personally -- he'll just get yelled at or written up.

Plenty of engineers have all their work peer reviewed, tested, and assessed by others. I'm sure it's the case with other professions as well. Pay a decent wage and enforce rules fairly and you'll have workers.

I think you will have a hard time convincing the government to pay you outside the usual General Schedule system for civil servants, in which salaries for highly trained technical specialists are typically paid somewhere in the $100K department. (!)

The only big exception to the use of the GS system in the federal government is the Securities and Exchange Commission, which must pay its employees vastly more, since they're in charge of regulating Wall Street. To me, it seems reasonable that oil industry watchdog engineers should be paid on the same principle as the SEC, but you'll have to convince the Feds of that.


Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL): 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.

Calls to Nelson's office have confirmed that he is aware how serious the implications of implications of his statement above (whatever that means). Lots of people here already agree that the casing is compromised.

Let's assume it's true that some oil seepage has been confirmed. What are the scenarios that could play out? Is one that it just keeps leaking gently so long as pressure is not increased? Or is that unlikely?

Thanks for any insight you can offer.

If there is sand coming up, which seems to be the case, and they provide back pressure by collecting or capping, the oil flow could cut its way out via these other leak points below the sea bed. We'd be well and truly stuck waiting for relief wells if this is the case.

But we really ARE waiting for relief wells...

The pertinent part is at 2:30 1 3:15

I asked in an earlier thread how Nelson could get information about oil seepage. Is there any way to observe this except for direct observation from ROV feeds... the same feeds that people here are watching religiously?

I know enough DC staffers to not trust their capacity to answer technical questions over the phone. Someone did respond that Marcy Wheeler has a PhD and her coblogger is a lawyer so they must be right, but a PhD in Comparative Lit doesn't inspire absolute confidence.

Marcy Wheeler has been doing political commentary via blogging for many years now. And the Ph.D. was for research on the kind of writing people did in Eastern Europe under communist regimes, where the writers were looking at what the govt was doing and hiding and how powerful folks can "hide" the truth and the little people are trying to ferret it out.

This group at emptywheel is closely monitoring TOD. And they have lots of energy, skill, and analytical abilities.

At this moment we need all the technical expertise of TOD and all the political analysis and skills from groups like hers (and people like me) as well. This is a huge endeavor, trying to trace what's happened and trying to analyze how best we, as a society, can disentangle ourselves from ways of living which must change.

As for Marcy Wheeler's integrity, please see this blog I wrote last year on Marcy Wheeler and Freedom of the Press:


Full Disclosure: I have no connection with Marcy or bmaz, other than having sometimes posted on their threads. I have donated to her site, just as I have donated to this one. But my respect for her, as for TOD, comes from my own personal evaluation, based on the writing and integrity I have observed. In the end all of this comes down to mutual respect and efforts of all of us to work together for the common good.

Has anyone seen this ....and care to comment?

"By Monday, BP(BP) said its successful cap had collected more than 20,000 barrels of oil on the day. BP claimed its first success yet over the weekend with its cap, capturing as much as 10,000 barrels of oil per day after successfully placing the cap on the leaking well last Friday BP."



Ironically, the more oil they admit they are capturing per day now implies a greater amount than most believe is already in the Gulf. (e.g. if they announce they are capturing 30,000 bbl per day, I guess that would be 'good news', but....)

Q You said that when the second platform arrived, that they’ll be able to contain about 20,000 barrels of oil?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Produce about 20,000 barrels, yes.

Q So does that mean that when you look at the two models, that you’re expecting that it’s going to be closer to the 25,000 barrels of oil --

ADMIRAL ALLEN: We just know that's their capacity. We still haven’t established what the flow rate is. That is the big unknown that we’re trying to hone in and get the exact numbers on.

Q But that flow rate could end up being higher than 25,000?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: If that's the case, then we’re going to be dealing with the residual oil until we get the larger production platform that I talked about earlier.

Q That was before the sheer, right? The 25,000 was before the sheer, which could have increased it another 20 percent?

MR. GIBBS: Could have, yes.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Could have, yes, could have, exactly.

MR. GIBBS: The flow rate group is, as I understand it, going through the larger flow rate, as well as trying to hone in on what we think we might have seen in terms of increased capacity after the sheer cut.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: And we’ll make those numbers known as we get them. We’re not trying to lowball it or highball it. It is what it is. And we need to tell you that.

Q So at the most you’ll be able to produce 20,000 barrels of oil per day, once the second platform --

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Correct. And then that's anticipated to be replaced by a larger production capacity platform in several weeks.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/07/95444/what-thad-allen-told-white-h...

I think maybe the reporter mixed up some numbers. Last I heard, they were moving more ships nearby so they could process more of the oil, up to 20,000 bpd from 15,000bpd max. Even BP's website claims only 7,541 barrels from midnight to noon today, so I think 20,000 barrels today is too much. It might be 20,000 barrels collected since the cap was installed up until today.

I figured as much but wondered if something in the system had changed and I didn't notice :-) Thanks much.


There's something screwy in this article.

First they say:

The BP report that its cap siphoned off more than 20,000 barrels of oil on Monday raised the eyebrows of those who have doubted that previous estimate of a total daily leak of 19,000 barrels as being too low.

and in the very next paragraph we find this:

BP said in a written statement on Monday that the cap is now capturing 466,200 gallons of oil a day, an increase from 441,000 gallons on Saturday and approximately 250,000 on Friday.

466,200 gallons is about 11,100 barrels.

This was an interesting and informative site for awhile, but all the BS, stupid speculation and liberal rant lately make it a complete waste of time. Too bad!!

More mud needed.

If you are referring to my post about reports of oil leakage, my apologies if it is "stupid speculation." But when a senator says it on national tv, emphatically and fully aware of consequences, it seems to rise to the above the level of stupid speculation, at least until it is shot down.

Maybe I should not have said 'assume it is true...," but rather "what if it is true."

There is also some discussion about the incident on this thread here:


Don't know if that is more to your taste. Civil (as in civility) controversy, exchange of ideas, divergent opinions, etc. make for a better, more informative discussion. Self righteousness from any camp detracts and engenders response in kind.

I am sure you know the table rule about religion and politics - but it is pretty hard not to stray into that (latter) territory in discussions like the current one. As long as the 'liberals' and 'conservatives' go at it as if they are not together in the same lifeboat it's a little hard to see how any headway toward land can be made - just my liberal opinion.

"This was an interesting and informative site for awhile, but all the BS, stupid speculation and liberal rant lately make it a complete waste of time. Too bad!!"

...says the person who has been on the site for a bit over three days?

I look forward to this well getting relieved in the fall, The Oil Drum can go back to being what it was before - full of stupid speculation and both right-wing & liberal rant about peak oil, AGW (as it pertains to hydrocarbon burning of course), the geology and extraction of hydrocarbons, endless discussion on tecno-fantasy solutions to all our problems, or doomer-porn on The Road-like future we face when those same fail. I'm still getting good answers from Heading Out, Rockman and others on this ongoing event, but I miss my old Oil Drum I admit.

But I do really look forward to a return to what this site has been for the number of years I have been here, with contributions from fantastic people, and smart discussions - without (usually) comments like the above. Of course, if one doesn't want one's worldview challenged, the internet is a big big place, one can always find like-minded people to speculate (smartly of course!) with....

...says the person who has been on the site for a bit over three days?

Because of the name, some assume this is a BAU/pro-big oil site.

My dime says BP will cease to exist by Sept, and you can wax poetic about a 60 billion dollar company pissing it all away into the GOM.

Sorry, not remotely possible! Exxon is still here. It will take decades in court to sort out the liabilities. There is more than one partner in Macondo, Andarko being a 25% along with Transocean etc. There are so many to point fingers and they can and will point fingers at each other spending little or nothing on lawyers to stall. Sorry the big loser is the U.S. taxpayer!

Some version of it will still exist. After all, BP has other high value interests in the GOM to protect. (And, as we all should know by know, the poorly tapped reservoir hit by the DWH may actually be "the Mother Load.")

But, if BP should try to "cease to exist," I will be happy to force it into bankruptcy court through an involuntary bankruptcy petition so that its assets can be properly seized, disposed of, and the proceeds of sale can be distributed to those hurt by this disaster.

I've done it before and I will be happy to do it again.

Your humble attorney,


If you only want to hear one point of view, I'm sure you can find some wingnut site that will oblige you.

Are all the good folks here aware of a SECOND well leaking not too far from the Deepwater site?



Thanks for this link.

Perhaps NASA can station a geosynchronous orbit satellite over the GOM with very high power optics to continually monitor for oil slicks/plumes.

Perhaps another space-faring organization could use its low-Earth orbiting satellites to image these slicks in exquisite detail in multiple spectral bands...

Or maybe we don't want to know what BAU is/has been...

How damn common are these smaller, month or longer leaks that are big enough to be tracked by satellite? It is just that folks are watching closer now?

Also, why satellite? Then you leave it to the Feds. I prefer state or local based drone type surveillance with federal dollars and maybe some limited federal oversight. If you read the article, it all but says that MMS and the owners tried to cover up this smaller spill and even went so far as to surreptitiously use dispersants and vessels to try and hide the surface sheen. A microcosm of what is happening down the way. Further proof that this incident is no accident.

Further proof that this incident is no accident.

Accident yes - just not that uncommon ...

Even this definition of accident?

accident - N. An event which is not deliberately caused, and which is not inevitable.

This event might have very well been avoidable. Certainly it is possible that decisions were made that at some point that MADE this event inevitable, whereas an alternative decision could have been made that would not have resulted in discharge of petroleum to the GOM.

Insurance companies now prefer to call accidents vehicle crashes. If someone dies when you are behind the wheel, though you may be sober and attentive, you can still be prosecuted if you rear end someone hard enough.

And just how much is this satellite going to cost? Just cost of developing and building optics that can get imagery this good from 23,000 miles away is going to be enormous. (And then the product would likely be classified as you will be using spy satellite technology.)

It would be much more cost-effective to do this using aircraft.

Hmmm ...

Since the oil leak has been reduced to entertainment on television, it has been ... reduced.

Reduced perhaps in public apprehension in the context of the collective inability of the couch potato masses to concentrate on anything longer than 10 minutes.

What about those Red Sox?

Distraction complete, BP is now free to ignore the rest of the oil coming out of the ground/hole/pipe/wreck/sea floor/Hayworth's rear end, etc.

Unless it is on TV it isn't real!

So ... nobody knows how much oil is leaking in total. (BP isn't saying and nobody else really knows but is guessing.)

- Nobody knows just how much oil has been removed by the processing vessel although BP issues certain figures (greater than the amount that was suggested by BP for weeks, btw).

- Nobody knows how much of what is being transferred to the vessel is water, how much is methane and how much is oil. BP is again not saying leaving everyone else to guess.

- Nobody knows how much oil is gushing out of the sea floor through the damaged well casings and non- existent seals through the soft rock and silt that makes up the bottom of the Gulf. It could be nothing or it could be 20,000 bbl per day ... or it could be worse!

- Nobody knows how much oil has already leaked. If the figures that BP gave in secret briefings to the White House are to believed (~ 60,000 bd) then the oil in the water lurking is astronomical.

Mebbe the Justice Department should start taking affidavits under oath. The (BP) focus is on what happened during and right after the Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank. Another distraction. Some second guessing by law enforcement is needed to hew BP toward the straight and narrow, to start BP telling the truth.

It's got to start somewhere, right?

Oh, it IS starting, yet.

The idea that BP might one day file for bankruptcy, particularly as part of a merger that would enable it to cordon off its liabilities from the spill, is starting to percolate on Wall Street. Bankers and lawyers are already sizing up potential deals (and counting their potential fees).

You'll find that link here:

I know it's not on TV, which is really their loss, but it's here (THANK YOU!) and on the ROV feeds, which I just can't get enough of! Watching that dude try to set the wrench last night was too much.

I think it would be awesome TV, but you have CNN running around crying how "BP won't tell us what's going on" and bringing in talking heads like Bill Nye "The Science Guy" instead of intelligent people like we have here.

BP ain't gonna talk except "on message" or through their lawyers. However I think the numbers being batted in that NYT article do get the gray matter working...so nobody will continue to know nuttin!

Do you have a link for the 60,000 figure?



There are also the Coast Guard logs:

By April 23, the Coast Guard logs include a new estimate that a full blowout could result in a spill of 64,000 to 110,000 barrels per day, the logs show.


Obama knew from the beginning that the spill was very big. As for a full blowout, Simmons says it is but the BOP did not bloww off but the casing was compromised.

Your Marketwatch link and coast guard logs talk about a "full blowout" and what would happen "with all equipment removed" -- this is the worst-case oil flow if you take away the BOP and everything else choking off the oil supply. Concensus on this forum is that we are (probably) nowhere near that situation.

Dailybeast story on Obama briefing gives no concrete numbers. Anyone on this website could have told you that "this is very very bad" and "this will be a royal pain in the ass to fix" on April 20. You present no evidence that the government held secret data.

I do not think the government withholds numbers per se. I believe the government has people that are dedicated to the dissemination of information to the public, and all politicians and civil servants tend to heed the advice of those folks. They often have legal and media training, and do not try to slant or lie, but maybe misdirect or downplay a little. Just by deciding what to write and talk about or even put on the 'agenda' all effects what we see and hear. They play the same games with themselves, remember the pre-Iraqi Freedom intelligence interpretations?
There are conspiracies, but usually not in the traditional sense. In business the conspiracy is usually economic, in government it is usually economic, political, or employment based conspiracies. It is the sort of thing you have lawyers around when you talk about it so as not to stray too far into illegality.

It doesn't "withold", that would be dishonest. It "selectively releases". It doesn't lie, it "gives alternative dialogs", and it doesn't "force" it "uses compelling verbiage". You get the idea, of course. Please don't tell me the government doesn't lie, we know it does. After all, we see POTUS daily, and I'd bet my life everything he says is untrue in part or in whole, and never be at any risk.

On the other hand, there's a point where information itself becomes the proof. That is, people know enough to know that X or Y or Z just ain't so, because it contradicts what else we know. At that point, "the government doesn't lie", or least doesn't lie and get away with it.

There is no actual scientific proof of global warming, for instance. We have NO definitive proof of AGW, but that does not stop some from insisting that either A: it's fact, or B: it's absolute fiction. Instead, as the world watches, we find that the sources of "facts" had not facts, but instead, pretended opinions and "interepretations" and "adjusted data" was fact. We've wasted a couple decades of time allowing rank dishonesty in our scientific community. And yet, the EPA pretends that AGW IS PRECISE FACT and intends to kill the country to fix it. Is that a lie? Darn right it is. Just look what happens when someone outside the process takes a peak and finds out it's wholly unscientific? The EPA banishes him to hell. You know there's NO integrity in that process, nor in the people advocating it.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us in a place where our scientific community is compromised for political purposes, our industrial base is compromised for political purposes. And those who have done the compromising scream that everyone else is doing it. Thus, the argument that a FACT found by an oil company isn't a fact. What we found was that was defined as a fact by environmentalists isn't a fact. Or might not be a fact. Or, might be a fact, but we're unsure. Our "facts", ones that should be not open for debate indeed truly are, because the integrity of our scientific community, our government, the agencies that are supposed to be responsible knowledge finders are all terribly compromised.

And because of this, we know LESS about climate change than we should. We know less about many forms of pollution than we should. And because politicians were so frantic about "saving face" and preventing a leak in the ocean, they never thought about asking those doing it to have a plan to fix one. Maybe, just maybe, we should try a libertarian idea... That those who engage in something in the public realm... Are going to be liable for mistakes they make, and know it up front. That government doesn't define the details that protect you from liability if it goes wrong. It simply enforces the liability if you do screw up... And maybe BEFORE we have issues, we should define what's criminal negligence and what's not, so that opportunistic politicians can't become insane tyrants trying to deflect from thier own incompetence.

If that were the case, perhaps some management would not be so interested in shortcuts nobody can see. After all, if they followed the rules, they're not liable. Just like the old USSR, and the collective farms that didn't work. If the manager followed the calendar the politician wrote, then it didn't matter if the crop failed. Government isn't omnipotent, omnicient, infallible, or anything else. It should not be defining how to do things... just the consequences of failure.

BS !!


landrew: "Most logical EL does not mean that is the most likely?" OMG, A+ in reading comprehension for you, landrew. Gail and I were discussing who got da motivation and da money. Gail (or maybe it was me... old man memory, you know) pointed out that PetroChina could bid with tacit money from the Chinese government. And our friends in the Chinese government are sitting on several billion restless natives who need a continuing economic miracle fueled, in the short run, by "guess what?". And we need them for, oh, let's say, Iran. And it's rumored Goldman slipped in through the side door to prepare BPs defense (or demise). Gonna be one fascinating dog pile, eh?

China certainly has an insatiable demand for Oil ......but I doubt any Chinese operator will be allowed to even bid for BP PLC .....although no doubt CNOOC can easily outbid any other company in the world if it came to a bidding war....

around 75% of all pentagon contracts for fuel (diesel, gasoline, jet fuel) for forward operating bases and military deployments all over the world are with BP....and this problem is further compounded by the fact ....most such places in the world have no other significant US O&G presence other than BP .....

i seriously doubt the US military will even consider allowing their lifeline to be controlled by the Chinese....since the US-Sino strategic interest are polar opposite in certain trouble spots in the world.....only scenario I can see in which china could play a part in this ...should it come to a tipping point is ....maybe right of first refusal for uncommitted production can be traded to china to raise capital for BP ....that too sounds to me would be a stretch far as pentagon is concerned...

just my 2 cents

ExxonMobil is too smart to get into a bidding war with China, and I think you're right and they won't have to do that to get BP. ExxonMobil has been buying back their own shares at a ferocious pace for years and years in a row. Other majors have probably done the same, but ExxonMobil is noted for the aggressiveness with this strategy.

One WSJ article claimed recently that ExxonMobil would be a private company in just a few more years if they continued repurchasing at their then rate.

Their deal for Mobil was all stock. I have no idea how much purchasing power they would have in an all-stock deal right now, but my hunch would be it is more than ample to buy a wounded BP. The XTO deal lightened their share bucket a bit; still, they're loaded up with shares and they occasionally like to go hunting for Big Prizes.

aliilaali: Frequently , when two large US companies propose a merger or one large company plans the acquisition of a good size competitor, the companies are required to spin off parts to avoid anti-trust laws. And China has a lot of financial and political leverage with the US and perhaps GB. "We'll help you to achieve a good outcome with N. Korea and Iran." And with Goldman lurking.... I'm not gonna bet on any outcome, because I'm a great believer in the Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences.

Edit addendum: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” — Lord Palmerston

Why would the US Government put their lifeline in the hands of ANY foreign company? Why wouldn't 75% of oil contracts be going to a US company?

Exxon doesn't have the resources? I'd be surprised if that is the answer.

Two partial reasons:

1) BP isn't entirely "foreign" - don't fall for the British Petroleum xenophobia, after swallowing Amoco and Arco, subsequent to SOHIO it has a significant American %ge, including a US listing and a US base for global E&P.

2) *more importantly* specifying US only contracts is protectionist. In the current economic climate it could be inflammatory...

Under that logic Petro China wouldn't be foreign either after they bought out BP and since BP is a UK company I'm not sure what the US would have to say about who buys them at least publicly.

I can't see national security interests being referred to as protectionist either.

I don't have any xenophobia towards BP however I don't hear a US accent coming out of the head man either.

Actually, you have a point. Fair enough. You're right to say that if PetroChina bought BP then it would be seen as Chinese. Although is there a grey area? The Chinese bought Addax and sent just a couple of managers / accountants. Is the firm now Chinese? I don't know. Examples like this abound in a globalised industry I guess.

However, I don't follow re: national security interest though. What's the national security issue? The pollution? So you think it's in our national security to ban foreign companies, as if they're the only culprits? And was Chevron foreign when it had an Irishman at its helm? This reaction, if I have understood it correctly, worries me. The rest of the world can throw out US companies too, right?

Well the national security point was made by the OP on this thread. I was responding to that.

Oil is oil. If we were embargoed in a war today we'd be in trouble in the US. I imagine those super tankers would be sitting ducks trying to supply us.

Approximately 40% of the shares are held by US owners, about the same as UK owners, another 10% by Europeans and so 10% by rest of the world.

About a quarter of the employees are in the US.

In the US, former district court judge Stanley Sporkin acts as an ombudsperson. Employees and contractors can contact him confidentially to report any suspected breach of compliance, ethics or the BP code of conduct, including safety concerns.

:), you are fun! I wish I could buy you a Guinness! I have a feeling I could learn a lot more. You are so right, this is gonna be fascinating! As they said in 1933, just when we thought it was over, it had just begun!

landrew: No Guinness here. I quit drinking 35 years ago. Thanks anyway. I appreciate the offer. Here's all I've learned since then: "The awful thing about life is: everyone has their reasons." — Jean Renoir

BOA Deep C - ROV 2 shows what looks like Top Hat 7 with a BOP on top that is resting on some bottom (Depth indicates 1500 ft(?)). Any experts care to explain? Thanks for all the info!

That's the original BOP. Been watching since that ROV approached the top of the stack with the other 2 ROVs, then dropped down to the seafloor doing 'Inclinometer Readings' on the wellhead below the BOP.

The BOA ROVs have usually been measuring depth in meters .. so whatever it is is on the bottom.

Thanks, now I am only slightly less confused. BTW, did they ever get that socket wrench on the bolt yesterday or did they give up?

A spare BOP was lowered to the seabed during the failed top kill operation. At one point they were considered placing it on top of the failed BOP and using it to control the flow. That approach has been discarded. Delivery of this BOP slowed down work on the second relief well, since the rig drilling it had to disconnect and move over closer to the blown well in order to lower the BOP.

That's not the spare BOP unless there are two of them down there leaking, both with 'top hats' in place and being tended by the two Skandi Neptune ROVs.


I am not a geologist and have very little knowledge of geology, but something has me puzzled.

I have been reading a lot about offshore drilling and offshore oil in the past few weeks. This disaster has really peaked my interest in it. One of the things I have read about is the natural seepage from underwater oil reserves. One website I found said that there is an estimated 100 billion tons of offshore oil. This seemed within the ballpark of most of the other numbers I have seen published online. The estimated annual rate of seepage I found was 5 million tons per year. Now, when compared with the 100 billion tons of reserves, this seems insignificant. But in geological time scales, this is a blink of the eye. Dividing the total reserves by the seepage means that it would only take 20,000 for all the oil to seep out into the ocean.

Does this mean that 100,000 or even 500,000 years ago the seas were awash in oil? At one point in time were there trillions of tons of oil in the ocean? Are natural processes constantly replenishing oil?

Could someone answer this question please.

Mike – I won’t comment on the accuracy of your natural oil seep volume or the magnitude of proven offshore oil reserves. Those numbers are what they are. But with very rare exceptions the natural oil seeps are not coming from producing oil fields. As far as to how much oil has seeped to the surface over geologic time the general consensus is that the great majority of oil ever generated has seeped out. The subsurface conditions that trap oil/NG are actually rather rare. The seas wash with oil? Not likely. If the oil spewing out of the BP blow out occurred over several hundred thousand years it wouldn’t even be noticed by the fishies IMHO.

Oddly enough, no one has ever tried to get a handle on what causes he distribution of oil reservoir sizes that we see. We do know that oil moves around underground and it gets trapped in specific regions. Natural variability in rates leads to the distribution seen:

Mike, I dont work in oil/gas either. I found the book "Hubberts Peak" by Kenneth Deffeyes was very useful backgound on the geology/drilling etc (for a total newbie). Dont be put off by the title 3/4 of the book is about oil. The remaining 1/4 is about peak oil.


I won't speak to the volume of what does come up. I know there's a couple of piles of asphalt in 700' of water off Santa Barbara that are about six stories tall and have a footprint about the size of a football field
Note that it's there because it's asphalt. If it was oil of a lighter consistency, it would have washed away like you'd expect. The tar sands in Athabasca that the Canadians are mining weren't always pure tar; it's speculated that some of that oil has degraded over time because of the exposure to surface elements. Around the world in the deep shelf areas, there are methane clathrates and those are speculated to be from natural gas seeps coming up in from the deep and before the gas hits the sea bottom, it's converted into the methane clathrate while still mixed up in the soft sea sediments. Not only oil but gas - so, yes, some things do seep up. These leaks are different from the methane seeps around the Mississippi Delta area. I've been on a field trip to the end of the SW Pass. The end of the delta is a very funny place. Blocks of sediment the size of a two story house have been lifted up and turned on their side; you can walk on compacted sediment layers that are perpendicular from when they were first laid down. You can kneel down and find small holes about as big around as your pinky. Water sloshes up out of these things. Water and methane. I took a Bic lighter and lit one. It stayed lit for about ten seconds, and then a bubble of water sloshed up. Then gas. Then water. This however, is essentially swamp gas, and comes from the initial breakdown of organic flotsam that comes down the Mississippi. So this methane that was used for cooking gas by fishermen since at least the 1950s isn't the migrated hydrocarbons any article you read talks about. (re: fishermen The stories say they'd turn over a barrel and the next week come back, and turn a spigot they'd built in so they'd have a small flame to cook some of their catch). So, the "swamp gas" (that also comes out over on the Chandeleur Islands, aka Breton Sound Nature Reserve) didn't migrate from the depths that oil migrates from, but the forces that push it up are significant. (They also once set[cemented] a string of pipe some 4000' or so feet down at the end of the delta. Like a straw in a glass of warm Pepsi, the casing slowly rose over the years. Dozens and dozens of feet.)

There's a famous field in the Gulf of Mexico, Exxon's Eugene Island Block 330 Field. Apparently, the reservoirs have replenished themselves, as the oil and gas have actively migrated during the time the field has been produced. It has to do with the apparent reactivation of previously sealing faults.

But if anyone claims to start putting numbers to the oil seeps, I acknowledge the effort, and promptly disregard the figures. I'm a skeptic of any accuracy that would be assigned to such a guess -- scientific or otherwise.

These calculations also miss the "other side of the coin". Oil and gas can exist in a small P and T window. Too hot, and oil gets cooked out, and gas goes to elemental C and H. There are a lot of hydrocarbons in rocks, in the form of pyrobitumen, and basically elemental C in various sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. SOme of this gets recycled as CO2. But yes, it is quite likely that much of the globally produced HC has leaked off over geologic time, or been baked.

To make the story even more amazing - much of our oil was probably generated from 5 - 15 relatively short bursts [ok, short geologically - a few million years each] of phytoplankton blooms and death, followed by rapid burial [a key part of getting to oil is rapid die off and burial before the organics get oxidized].

As far as total estimated seepage, these are really WAGs. THere are a few really cool studies in Santa Barbara Channel that have measured natural seepage, and the rest comes from making estimates.


Dude, come on man! Pick up a book, spend twenty minutes on the net. It's not high energy physics dude! Really, your kidding right? All though I did sit in on a lecture by a goof from the old Amoco who claimed crude oil is a product of mantel core rotation ha! Have you ever heard that one Rock?

Wow I am finally on here. I like this website alot. I will get right to it.

1. Why the small 8" riser on the cap??? Wouldnt it make sense to go with a pipe of at least 21 inches to reduce the head loss??????? Try to suck all that oil thru a small pipe is not smart.

2. I wont go into the leak estimates but we all know they are waaayyyy low.

3. Why cant they unbolt the flange with the severed pipe, then reattach 20" x 36" increaser followed by a plug valve followed by a larger 36" pipe to the ship??????

There has been much discussion about coupling to the flange directly for days if not weeks.

Basically, it is hard to unbolt or cut the bolts. BP has been practicing the unbolting yesterday, without obvious success, I might add.

And it is dangerous, at least that's the answer I have been getting.

It seems to me that with a large diameter deep water diverter (under topside control) it would be no more dangerous than what they have now, but would have the opportunity to take all the oil, if they have processing capability topside.

Thanks D.

Seems like if you got 2 ROVs, both holding long wrenches to break the bolts loose, then come in with another ROV with the drill to loosen all but 2 bolts.

for the final 2 bolts you would unbolt from the bottom. You would connect a line to the top flange so when the final bolt got loose the flange wouldnt fly off.

An equal size pipe would easily allow seawater in if the seal isn't tight. The goal is to take in as much oil/gas without any seawater that could potentially form hydrates. They also want the ability to pump warmer seawater from the surface down to help prevent hydrates, and that adds to the size of the pipe to the cap. I'm sure there's other reasons folks can give on here.

For #2. . .how do "we" all know the estimates are waaayyyy too low? Are you basing this on your own visual analysis or do you have a reputable source that says it's more? Please share. Personally I think it's probably around 20k-25k barrels per day, but that's just a guess from everything I've read and my little experience as an engineer (aeronautical/mechanical).

I think it would be pretty difficult to unbolt the flange. I'm sure it was bolted very tightly before it was lowered to the seafloor. The ROVs have very little to hold on to so what's to really keep the torque wrench from spinning the ROV around. Is the ROVs arm strong enough to hold itself steady against the riser pipe? Remember this isn't on land so the ROVs don't really have "ground" to stand on and hold itself in place. I think cutting the bolts would be a better option.

Use flow out of an orifice to determine flow. Since well pressures is 10,000 psi and hydrostatic pressure is 2136 psi, a differential of over 7,500 psi, you do the math.

where Q = flow (cubic metres per second)
Cd = coefficient of discharge
A = area of orifice (square metres)
g = acceleration from gravity (9.81 m/s/s)
h = head acting on the centreline (m)

For a circular orifice, the equation becomes:

Typical values for the coefficient of discharge are:
Sharp orifice: 0.62
Tube: 0.80

I think one of the unknowns in what you've drawn up is the turbulent and uneven (gas/oil ratio) nature of the oil coming up the well and how that affects an experiment like you're proposing. We know (from what we've been told) that the flow is partially restricted by the BOP, and that could add quite a bit of turbulence to the flow. I'm still unsure how you would measure the flow in your diagram. If you poke a small hole in the side of the pipe and have a container to see how fast it fills, how do you know you're getting an even cross-section of the flow's oil/gas content and density. I don't think it's an event mixture coming out.

Gas / oil ratio is only the tip of the iceberg. You are also getting phase transitions because the gas is a supercritical liquid downhole, and it should flash rapidly on contact with seawater. It will then cool adiabatically leading to methane clathrate formation.

The action and reaction between the rov and the bolts does appear to be a humdinger of a problem but it might be possible to attach a chain or a brace froom the rov to the bop itself to counter act the torque.

Now as to cutting off the bolts:it might be possible to actually saw the bolt heads and or nuts rather easily.

If the bolt holes are smooth, meaning NOT THREADED, the bolts will PROBABLY slip out of the holes easily;I'm assuming little or no corrosion is locking them in place.

If the bolt HOLES ARE THREADED,and the bolts are screwed through,with or without nuts on thier ends, cutting the bolts could be a very serious mistake.

I'm no engineer but I have been intimately involved in the job of removing broken and sawed off bolts and it is or can be a real bxtch of a job even with easy access and plenty of tools.

I can't imagine it being accomplished repeatedly by rov under the conditions prevailing within any reasonable time frame if it could be done at all.

Most pipe flanges have smooth bolt holes but I have no idea about oil industry spec'ed underwater pipes and plumbing

You are asking to have your head chewed off. These have been hot topics over the last few days and are well covered in the recent threads. Not everyone will agree with your supposition that BP's estimates of leak size are "way low." WE don't have enough information to accurately estimate the main leak. BP may have enough information, but we don't.

Ah, the magic pipe fix! Love this one, the 36" inch steel pipe a mile long that weights nothing and needs no support because it's magic after all! Gee, I wish I had that patent! Is it one continues pipe? No welding? No need to remove the existing riser? Stop the containment of what is now 25k barrels a day to place a mile long, weights nothing, magic support-less pipe? What fun, I love the anti-science universe.

There's a not-quite-magical alternative to using a steel pipe that could resolve quite a few problems: No welding, close to neutral buoyancy, no pressure differentials across seals (this makes an enormous difference), and other features.

The idea is to allow the oil and gas to rise by natural buoyancy, but in a confined column strictly separated from the surrounding water. The essential part is a tube that can freely expand or collapse. One way to make the tube would use two abrasion and oil-resistant industrial conveyors fastened face-to-face at the edges.

The discussion below starts here, and a good critical eye would be welcome.

Doesn't require magic if it is an unpressurized system just meant to corral the oil as it floats to a surface collection pond.

Culvert would probably work. There are lots of snap together connection options. No fabrication needed and plenty lying around in yards around the country.

You could add strongbacks if afraid of buckling but due to the amazing strength of hollow cylindrical columns (the most efficient of all columns) you probably wouldn't need to.

When you are talking an unpressurized system you are no longer in the specialized territory where the solutions folks come up with based on their unspecialized experience tend to be absurd.

Was talking to a friend over the weekend, was in oil drilling, now in NG piping/planning/shipping. Apparently the offshore NG line near Boston, after pressure testing with water, despite attempts to dry it out, still had enough residual water to plug up solid when they put gas through it -- had to send divers down to the sea bed with warming blankets (!!!!!) to clear it out.

It's a 24-inch pipe, or so I recall hearing. So hydrates can plug a big pipe, even with very little water. (I checked Google for the details, it's Algonquin Gas Transmission, near Marblehead.)

The natural gas in the mix will also create problems; as it expands, you will get geyser effects in your unpressurized system. One way to stop geysers, is with pressure.

Gee how did they get the original 21" pipe down there in the first place?????

I guess that was magic too?? Please!

How bout the 8" inch pipe currently in use??

Was that magic also??

Oh but a 36" cant be done......

We are not talking science but engineering so dont be so quick to take your ball and go home.

One trivial question from a noob...

Is the rate of uncontained oil flow actually less now that TH #4 is in operation?

Personally I believe so, despite the look of the video sometimes. It would be nice if they could have a tiny ROV go down the pipe attached to the "top hat" and get down right on top of the "top hat" It would provide a good look at the relief valves and the how the oil is going "around" the cap, because right now it still "looks" much worse than when it was flowing free after they cut the riser. Not sure how good of a look it would provide though with the oil billowing everywhere, which is why it probably hasn't been done.

Trivial is good for me.

Depends. Mental experiment. First look at the pics of one of the top-hats cause they're pretty darn big compared to those 20 inch pipe leaks we we're looking at.

Then watch the flow and remember there is something like 10-15k bpd being captured away at any given time.

Watching the flow and then thinking of it in 5 gallon buckets at one per second. yeah least that IMO Ok then we're still looking at 11,000 bpd. Two (5gbps) units is 22,000bpd plus whatever is being delivered at the surface.

And that would be above the previous estimates still leaking.

Spillover from the last thread:


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.

It's not really a big deal, but do the current live pics look like these from 03 June when the cap was first put in place? There's nasty nasty stuff coming out of that hole in the ground, a lot nastier than oil or NG. The paint peeling/dissolving isn't as scary as the rust - how much oxygen is in the water that far down?

Are we sure that's paint that has been abraded off? Maybe the paint has been lifted off by the solvency of the oil, or maybe the discoloration is due to heavy fractions from the oil sticking to the paint.

No, I never thought it was from grit/debris abrasion, maybe that's happening on the inside but not once it gets out of the hat. It's the benzene/whatever else has been mentioned, and the Corexit.

I second the discoloration notion - oil + methane hydrate.
One Skandi ROV 1 the pipe under the LMRP cap is collecting oil.

remember the wire saw looking goopy after it's use?

Actually hadn't thought about the solvency - but I just realized the oil is hot coming out of the ground, so 140 degrees (F or C?) oil is gonna be a pretty good solvent on fresh paint, along with supercritical methane.

Also solvency of the dispersant?

HO, do you really believe Matt's latest (or earlier) assertions warrant serious discussion?

It seems to me the notions of a "lake of oil at the bottom of the Gulf" and a BOP/LMRP/riser stub that have been somehow been popped like a cork *yet* still remain upright in the silt and gushing thousands of barrels a day are transparently silly. And the "nuke the bore" spiel is not merely nonsense, it's dangerous nonsense. I don't think you have to be an oil guy to come to these conclusions, quickly and easily.

As a longtime follower of his work, with a serious appreciation for his contributions and respect for his willingness to stand against conventional wisdom, I really wish Simmons' friends would get him out of the limelight. The sensationalists are simply exploiting him in their (probably insincere) encouragement of. . . whatever strange altered reality he's wandered into.

None of this is meant to suggest that it is impossible that there are other flows, methane bubbling from the sea floor, etc. I'll be following the experts here on that discussion.

see below...I'm not saying Simmons' claims are valid. I just want to know why they are not.

OK. I'm sure we'll see what the experts think.

Apologies for misidentifying you as HO, Prof.

Why not? because he claims:

- BP/et al are fighting a tiny leak from the broken end of the riser which is still connected to the Deepwater Horizon at the other end, and that leak is just residual coming from the sunken rig. We know that's not so. We watched the giant shears cut off the bent riser. We all saw it happen. Unless the live feeds are faked.

- He claims there was a subsurface blowout and the BOP and wellhead/casing are no longer in their original position over the well, and that the oil is coming from a crater in the mud where the wellhead used to be. This is only possible if the BOP was shot up into the water column, came back down and stabbed into the seafloor, and happened to puncture another oil/gas reservoir (wow, this oil drillin' stuff must be really easy!). If he's right, that's the only way there could be oil coming out of the top of the BOP we're watching via the ROVs.

- There may be more in the last minute or so of the clip, but I had to hit stop when he said 'nuclear'.

1. His use of tiny was contextual. Read with context. He meant what we are being shown is tiny in comparison with the total he believes is coming out from this other leak.

2. Actually, I've been wondering where that crater went! We watched it for a long time on the feeds. Big hole, big plume. Where the hell is it?


He said it was 'about 4 feet high'. None of the leaks have matched that description since BP was forced to make the feeds public, even taking into account how easy it is to trick yourself in regards to judging the size of stuff in these videos.

Why would they use up an ROV to show the end of a pipe that stopped leaking when the big yellow monster chomped the pipe near the BOP? Or maybe it's all a clever ruse! Muahaahhahaha

They had a camera on that pipe yesterday for an hour or so. There was no longer anything coming out of it and it was mostly filled with sand, at least at the open end.

"And the "nuke the bore" spiel is not merely nonsense, it's dangerous nonsense."

Could you provide a simple explanation as to why this is the case? I assume it's so, but haven't seen any compelling explanation. I can think of a few possibilities (failure makes things worse; damaging nearby structures; causing tsunami), but the last two are dependent on the topography of the area around the wellhead, which I know nothing about. I did look into reports from the States' only deepwater nuclear test (Wig-Wam), and am confident that radiation won't be a problem, even if that's what makes the idea so politically impossible that no one at Energy will even go on record about it.

I could, but then they would have to kill us.


Well, always remembering that I'm a computer/telecom guy, and thus officially disqualified from having opinions worth paying attention to...

1. A nuclear device designed and configured for the purpose doesn't exist. If one could be conceived that *might* do the job, it certainly couldn't be designed and fabbed any faster than a relief well or two will likely be finished.

2. If we had the device, we'd have a pretty hard time getting it down the bore, which is gushing O/G at, say, 8K psi at the wellhead (once we pop the BOP) and, what? 13K at TD? (IIRC, Matt said 40 or 50. We'd really better hope he's wrong about that.)

3. Given 2, above, we'd have to drill an adjacent bore for the device, and that would be... a relief well. Why blow it up when you can use it to kill the wild well with mud and cement?

4. I'm not particularly concerned about radiation, but the consequences of screwing up the nuke shot could *easily* be a totally uncontrollable blowout, *way* worse than we have now, that might flow for as long as Matt Simmons is talking about. Very undesirable.

Like I said, I agree on (4). Your first point also makes sense; not sure what engineering went into the 2000-ft Wig-Wam shot (which was to test whether nukes could work as awesomely powerful depth charges, by the way) and how that'd apply to a deeper explosion. One big difference between the two scenarios was that Wig-Wam was over much, much deeper water. On the 2nd and 3rd points, I don't know what advantage a buried bomb would confer over an explosion at the sea floor. If you did bury the bomb, I doubt you'd want to get anywhere near the oil field, so the relief well analogy isn't really apt.

Let us speculate that an organization had an inventory of exquisitely closely engineered timepieces (watches) which were designed to operate with great precision at the ocean bottom 5,000 feet below the sea surface.

Would it then be reasonable to demand that one of these watches be accelerated into near space and descend at high mach through the atmosphere, with the attendant G-loads and heating, and function properly when it arrived at its destination?

And please, I do not need to hear from any more 'Captain Wikipedias' who managed to use the Google to find information of unknown veracity about alleged nuclear depth charges and/or torpedoes, which if they existed may or may not have been designed to operate within certain specific design parameters, which may or may not encompass the environment at or below the DWH sea floor penetration.

For the record, I am open to the idea of advanced, safer civilian nuclear electricity generation as a possible part of the World's energy production portfolio.

I am not open to non-experts insisting on using the wrong tool for the wrong job.

And please, I do not need to hear from any more 'Captain Wikipedias' who managed to use the Google to find information of unknown veracity about alleged nuclear depth charges and/or torpedoes.

Is that aimed at me? I read the actual scientific report on the wigwam test and happen to be an actual scientist. I'm fairly certain it's a bad idea; just curious why based on some superficial investigation. So far, I haven't seen a single story on blowing up the well treat it as anything other than an obviously absurd idea or note that we have indeed conducted a deep-water nuclear test. To me, it's a lot less immediately absurd than dropping progressively more complicated caps onto the BOP, crossing our fingers, and hoping they last for a couple months.

Anyway, I'm not advocating sinking a triple bladdered super carrier covered with tactical nuclear weapons, concrete cannons, and megawatt lasers or anything like that. Just curious what the practical effect of a large explosion at the wellhead would likely be.

Heisenberg, I love you in Breaking Bad.
You cook meth that is the bomb.
You prevent wing nuts from nuking oil wells w/ home-made nukes.

p.s. is it on topic to ask about the EROEI of burning oil-soaked pelicans?

I dunno, have to study if the pelicans should be dried out or not:
If wet, all the oil is still there, but the water takes away from the heating value.
If dry, many of the petroleum volatiles have evaporated, reducing the heating value, but one doesn't have to evaporate all the water.

Now watch, burning pelicans for fuel will become as sticky a story as the steam railroad in Egypt burning commoner's mummies for fuel, with the internet to spread it instead of just Mark Twain.


Expanding on kalliergo pt4.

At the moment the oil reservoir has spring a small leak (in reservoir terms) and if they dont do anything it could take decades to stop leaking. A nuke could blow the top off the reservoir and it could empty in weeks, if not days.

Also the massive pressure wave from the nuke could cause major pressure spikes on nearby wells and cause those to blow....

So what happens if the relief wells fail? (I dont think they will). My best guess..... The engenering isnt that difficult to fab up a permanent "top hat", even it it takes a year to design/fab, thats still a small fraction of the total reservior. And during that time numerous "top-hats" would be deployed with increasing efficiency. The oil will be stopped and/or contained. Its going to take time and nukes arent the solution.

I agree that a failed attempt to explosively seal the well would result in an increased flow, but I don't think it'd be above the rate that we'd see if the wellhead just vanished... Thad Allen put this at 55,000 barrels/day a couple weeks ago. It seems like it should be a relatively easy number to calculate, but who knows? You aren't going to blow the top off of a field several miles beneath the sea floor.

The pressure wave through the water would be a huge problem and its trajectory would be very unpredictable. The wigwam test resulted in waves reflected off of the deep sea floor that were felt many, many mile away. Pressure through the ground would also be a problem, obviously.

Sure, I'll give it a try.

The summary is, nuclear explosives are (a) not nearly as predictable in their effects as conventional explosives, simply because we have far, far less experience with them than conventional HE, and (b) the radiation from nuclear explosives presents a unique hazard that is not at all an issue with conventional explosives. With respect to the latter, we now know much more about bioaccumulation of radioisotopes up the food chain than we did when we were testing nukes in the atmosphere/ocean. More specifically:

With regard to engineering feasibility - Our nukes are all (ASFAIK) in the form of weapons. This means none of them is built for subsurface use in the (approximate) 2400 psi pressure environment at the well. They're built to withstand multi-G launch/drop acceleration and shock loads, as well as the vacuum of space and transient re-entry heating, but not high external pressure. Goes for nuclear torpedos as well, intended for targets no deeper than submarines, which in the case of the Russian titanium-hulled subs was 1,000 - 1,300 meters. A potential exception might be ground-penetrating nuclear weapons, which are designed for extreme deceleration transients, although I don't know if this implies they have long-term resistance to penetration by high-pressure seawater. Summary is, we don't have nuclear explosives ready to use in a deep marine application. Not that they couldn't be built, but the build and test program would run at least a year under Manhattan - Project priority conditions, and there's no way in this economic environment that we or any other country will spend that kind of money on a highly speculative long shot fix.

- Our ability to predict the behavior of subterranean nuclear explosions with respect to unanticipated breakout of radioactive debris isn't good. This a very hotly debated issue in the design of nuclear "bunker-buster" weapons right now. Nobody knows how deep you have to place a nuclear explosive with a known yield to preclude breakout of the plasma fireball and associated huge radiation releases. Both we and the Russians had big breakouts at underground tests that were predicted to be completely contained. Applied to the GOM oil spill, this suggests that a nuke detonation could blow a large quantity of vaporized radioactive marine mud into the ocean/atmosphere. We just don't have enough experience with subterranean nuke detonations to know.

- Given our relative lack of experience in deep water operations in the GOM, it is a non-trivial possibility that a nuke would open up additional leak passages to the source formation, thereby accelerating the leak.

- Not understood at the time we and the Soviets were doing our nuclear marine/terrestrial testing programs was the complexity of the biology of the food chain. We didn't know then, as we now do, that radioisotopes (like strontium, iodine, and others) concentrate greatly up the food chain. That single oyster from Louisiana will have filter-fed on hundreds of thousands of gallons of seawater/photoplankton suspension and will have bioconcentrated that low level of nuke-produced radioisotopes into a level that can cause significant damage and real tragedy across several human generations through damage to reproductive cells, with particularly destructive effects on the rapidly dividing cellular materials of children. Radioactive strontium and iodine concentrate in the bones and thyroid glands, respectively. This possibility isn't about politics or economics, it's straightforward, established science.

If explosives are under consideration for closing the well, I hope they are conventional. We understand them much better than nuclear explosives, they can be deployed repeatedly if need be, they provide finely controllable energy release, and if they go wrong, they at least do not add radioactivity to the ongoing disaster mix. This would multiply the economic hit to the Gulf fisheries industry enormously.

Overall, it seems to me that the most effective way to make this situation dramatically worse would be to use nuclear explosives.

This is my first comment here. I know a bit about drilling, a bit about geology, a bit about nuclear weapons, a bit about supercritical fluids, a bit about flow, and some other things. I blog at Phronesisaical.

Page van der Linden brought up some other reasons that using nukes would be a bad idea. The biggest one is that to emplace a nuclear weapon, you would have to drill (and then stem) a hole. That could take as long as drilling the relief wells.

Then there's the issue of breaching a couple of treaties plus the moratorium on nuclear tests that the US has observed since 1992. If you knew with some certainty that a nuke would stop the well, it might be worth it. But the uncertainties are pretty high.

The best "evidence" Matt Simmons presents is based on his extraordinary ability to be a human bolometer. This nonsense is then bolstered by war stories I guess are intended to demonstrate expert credibility.

To comment further, would be to not just wade, but to wallow in this MS nonsense. I don't want to get that dirty.

HeadingOut, is the joke on me, or do you think that based on this interview, there is anything of substance to seriously comment on?

No, it's more that these claims are getting traction in the MSM (I mean, this *is* an MSNBC video...). We need to get in front of it, in my opinion--even if the story ends up being crap (which I personally am convinced is at least 90% likely to be the case).

Why would he be making these claims? Why is Nelson (see video above), a US senator, talking about "hearing reports," etc., openly?

I had made the decision not to run with this Simmons angle--but once I saw the Nelson video and its coverage, etc., I feel like we have to.

So, let's talk the science guys. How would a hole seven miles away from a riser be emitting more petroleum? What evidence would you need to make you jump to the conclusion that Simmons has come to? I don't get it--but I want to tear it apart if it's impossible, etc., as well.

(Also, let's be very clear, HO does not think Simmons' ideas are plausible...these changes were put up by the eds to discuss an issue that we're trying to decide its importance, plausibility, and science behind ONLY.)

You are making an assumption that the 2 assertions are related....and are perhaps jumping to a concussion.

Even if there have been leaks (other than those reported by bloggers who may not have full information), that does NOT mean that Simmons has a leg to stand on.

"some leakage" around the wellhead does not equal a major hole in the ground 5 - 7 miles away that is awash in oil from a blowout whose hole coordinates are well known.

that's why I wanted to hear what the best and brightest here thought about this instead of dancing around it--I'd rather have a thread, tear it apart, and put it to bed. So, if these claims need to be debunked, then let's tear them apart on the scientific merits for the record so that folks can disabused of these ideas.

Ah...Didn't realize that's what you were suggesting. Probably a good idea..the 'nuke the well' suggestions have sure settled down since you ran that one!

A task sort of like tearing apart of a reflection of a memory of a dream.

Leads to flailing.

In order to have a major flow of hydrocarbons being released from the seabed and the source being from the blowout well 5-7 miles from the release point, there would have to be a huge fracture of the formation between here and there. While it is possible and perhaps likely that a fracture does exist for a short distance simply from the high pressures exposed to the casing seats in the blowout well that were not cemented to the surface, the forces would be huge to keep such a fracture open and expanding recognizing that there will be bleed off all along the fracture. I am too old and long forgotten how to do those calculations. I do remember the days of "superfrac" and it took a hell of a lot of HP to initiate and propagate even fractures of several hundred feet. Is the geology even consistent for distances of 5-7 miles such that a fracture could run that far?

It would seem to me that you would have to have a shut-in well, or at least one with a very restricted flow, a ruptured casing, and 5-to-6 mile erodible channel in an otherwise fairly impermeable and hard formation - a preexisting pipe in the stone.

Somebody posted an example of this he saw in West Texas. His scenario made sense because it actually happened.

But that is not what Simmons is talking about.

Well another article bolstering more leaks.


This reporter states he confirmed with the Senators office.

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.

Simmons may have been telling the truth all along.


Assume unconsolidated silt (i.e. muck) for almost 1,000' down. And a casing rupture 1,000' down (say 9,000 psi). Both reasonable assumptions ATM.

The eruption path up would NOT be 6 miles away. That implies a much greater than 45 degree "path of least resistance".

Going through 1,000' of muck, I would be surprised if the eruption was more than 150' away and the most likely path would be right along the well bore (in easy camera range, camera range about 35').

A deeper casing rupture (or other pathway out) could travel in a selected geological strata. If the produced fluid had lots of water (NOT too likely) around 180F, a salt strata could erode over time. But 6 miles ?? in 49 days ?

A strata/pocket of methane hydrate (would have to be shallow) might erode quickly enough to go some distance, but again 6 miles seems way too far.

An unconsolidated sand strata would seem to be the only viable candidate. One of the areas where they lost circulation.

It would take weeks/months for the oil/gas to migrate 6 miles even if the strata did not spread out in two dimensions (E-W & N-S). Full of water (or water/methane hydrate ?) would allow communication to seabed. 9,000 psi can push quickly through unconsolidated sand.

Maybe ? Let me think more.


A close eruption from casing failure seems likely. See 1,000' case above. Beyond that seems improbable at best.

and logically, would there not be a major surface slick sourced six miles away?

There would absolutely have to be a surface expression, and if something 10 kilometers away was producing significant volume I would think it would make a distinguishable slick... currents, boats all over the place... It couldn't be hidden, but perhaps obscured in the general mess...

I would tend not to believe it.

Well, we're seeing the technology developed to produce from an open hole at depth - if such a thing has happened then maybe the damage could be mitigated somewhat.

if it s a csg rupture .....the only path that would make sense to me is up the wellbore or near wellbore.......to consider HC migration laterally 6 miles seems a little far fetched......

the only way this could be possible is migration along a fault plane......but even then to consider HC migration at these rates ....6 miles in 50 days seems a little tough to imagine...

Overnight on SPECULATION -

Assume worst/best imaginable case that has any chance of really happening. What would the flow rate be?

Unconsolidated sand (old sand bar, now a fault, or path of very old undersea avalanche and this is the "rubble"), a few hundred feet wide and 6 miles long, 20' thick. At well bore it is 3,000' below seabed, 6 miles away it exits (without a cap rock) under 500' of muck, then seafloor. Full of water.

Casing failure at 3,000', oil has two paths. Up bore (BOP restriction) and through sand fault.

Oil & gas at junction: Supercritical fluid, 180 F, oil API 35, high gas fraction, 9,000 psi.

The first effect would be oil and gas separating, say 10' into sand. Gas travels faster than oil through sand but pressure moves both. Gas goes until it cools enough to form hydrates, this increase restrictions but pressure behind pushes cool gas forward (no more water to form hydrates locally, but leading edge of gas front continually forms hydrates as it encounters more water. End result is 6 mile tunnel full of sand and hydrates with much higher restriction than water and sand. NG finally exits unconsolidated sand fault and enters 500' of muck. "Unlimited" supply of water in muck to form hydrates. Escape over thousands of years, quite possible, 50 days, no.

Back at the 3,000' casing failure, the API 35 oil has lots of pressure behind it, "loose" sand and methane hydrates in front and it has cooled to 46 F (SWAG). Progress forward likely measured in inches/hour now (perhaps ft/hour at first)

In the time frame under consideration, even casing failure will result in what appears to be a self healing leak. NG will form hydrates if local formation water is available and oil will cool to a moderately high viscosity liquid. (I would like a table for API 35 at 46 to 34 F)

The layer of muck above everything has lots of water entrained with it and it will cool down the natural gas and oil.

Best Hopes that I did not miss something,


I think that wild claims are gaining traction because the "credible" sources of information, the head of NOAA, BP and the USCG, have been disproven by University research vessels, other sources like Skytruth.org and others.

In short, the previous wild claims have been more accurate of late than the credible sources.

As a layman, I saw the flow around the latest cap before and after the 11,000 BPD were being collected. Anyone that views the difference sees maybe a 10-20% eyeballed reduction in flow, not 50%.

In this situation everyone but the government and BP look like credible sources.

Can you imagine where we'd be without the internet? I shudder to think. I think the net has most definitely dragged TV & the newspapers "of record" kicking and screaming into making an issue of this.

As a layman, I saw the flow around the latest cap before and after the 11,000 BPD were being collected. Anyone that views the difference sees maybe a 10-20% eyeballed reduction in flow, not 50%.

you forget, one of the vent is closed now.. Those oil are in the ship instead in the ocean..

Is there a mechanism that would involve the MC252-A well? It was supposed to be abandoned last July. According to the Initial Exploration Plan they filed with the MMS, the "A" wellhead is only about 350 feet away from - what I assume - is MC252-B blowing out right now.

That's all I got.

I'd like to see some views of that now. What would happen if that seal was damaged by something when the rig sank?

The co-ordinates for MC252-A and MC252-B are contained in the initial exploration plan. Sorry I have not got time to workout the seabed separation.


I don't have the Exploration Plan, but there are only three wells (+ one bypass) attached to the MP-252 lease )CS-32306 - the blowout is #1, the first relief well is #3, and the second relief well is #2. In the POE the well locations are just proposed locations - they can change or not be drilled at all. Once they are actually drilling they carry a number rather than a letter, at least in my experience. It is possible they did not abandon a well but just a planned location, and selected the current #1 location instead.

I think the structure of the reservoir is really at the heart of this arguement. If we ass-u-me that this reservoir had a salt dome, that could easilty explaine a fracture withing this same field? I have asked this question before shortly after April 20th. What is the known structure of this reservoir? Salt dome? multiple faults? continues gas cap? water? I find nothing in documents before the spill and nothing after the spill and find it strange that no one seems to ask this very basic question!

My guesses:
Could be a 'turtle' structure, or else an anticline over an even deeper salt bump of some kind. Seems surrounded by salt walls & sheets. No clue as to faults, but if it is faulted, chances are that the reservoir is compartmentalized and only one compartment is accessed by the blowout. Faults from the reservoir are not going to be leaking to the surface; faults cutting the casing in the top few thousand feet might. Early reports were that the oil was undersaturated with gas. Close, but not saturated. If true, then there was not a primary gas cap. If the production so far has actually managed to pull the pressure down a bit a secondary gas cap could be evolving. There would not have been water showing in the section cut by the log or they wouldn't have bothered running casing. There's no way to tell whether there is a water leg further downdip in the reservoir; in a general sense these deep water sands don't tend to have much natural water support.

Prof, to be just a little tin-foil hat on and in the circumstances, I feel justified in doing so:

If the people in the know (who know more than we know, clearly, but they aren't telling") understand what they are up against and have a plan and also understand it's unpalatable nature, they do "conditioning" this way.

Take an industry insider, a known blowhard who has made good calls and put out the six-sigma option, initially scorned. But it puts it in the public space, the nuclear meme. With a few months and much discussion, it becomes a potential solution as things worsen (which they know they will if they know what we don't know, if you get my drift).

One bad hurricane, some unfortunate after-effects and people will DEMAND that the well be nuked.

Such is how the system works and I've seen it in action up close and personal. Problem-Reaction_Solution.

As fascinating as all the technically nuanced dissections are here on TOD, I think we are collectively staring at the end of a way of life. The recent Nat Gas action in PA and Texas only add to the storyline.

All things good and bad must come to an end.

I've proposed an alternative and have some interesting visits and comments by TODers.


Would appreciate any and all feedback.

And If I may suggest an actionable item, I think if Alan or other people local to the GOM read this... there is a sense of inevitability in my mind to the fact there will be dislocation of people.

If some kind of planning were begun for it today, it would not be as terrible as it was like in Katrina, for example. Even a web-site that started mapping out possibilities for people, transport alternatives, a forum for people to trim themselves of un-necessary things... generally allow for a transition (and hopefully quick and smooth return too).

Not being an alarmist, but a realist, hopefully.

I would contribute to such a cause in some meaningful way.

The administration is complicit in hiding and not mitigating the damage because they will exploit the event politically to the max.
The Simmons media appearances are a shot across the bow of the administration, telling them they will blow them out of the water ("nuke them") if they don't desist.

That's why you will find no technical explanation, it's political.

"The Simmons media appearances are a shot across the bow of the administration..."

Fired by whom?

I don't think Heading Out is reading now, but based on exchanges with him of late he doesn't think Simmons claims plausible. In fact I don't know of anyone I respect that does, which makes the situation kind of binary - Simmons is either right and most everyone else is wrong, or he is about to lose alot of credibility (which means urgency of oil peaking on top of sovereign debt crisis loses some credibility too as he has been a very visible supply side spokesperson).

Note: I talked with Matt soon after Horizon accident in April and he was extremely concerned about this situation then, and did accurately predict that none of the TopKill methods tried would work, but this...?

I for one am confused - was hoping some industry experts could comment on what he means by the real leak being 6 miles away. Why exactly might that be the case, and/or why exactly is that impossible, etc?

I get that ROCKMAN is the expert and AlanfromBigEasy also has valid opinions. Could I please receive via back channel a list of those here who are actually in the business and talking good sense on this topic? I see a lot of new names and to be fair I've been largely absent for a couple of years, so what do I know, but there are a few that are obvious BP tarballs dispatched to gum up the works.

I'm nrauhauser and I have an account on gmail ... feel free to school me as to who is who.

shelburn & bb51 seem especially coherent - but I'm no expert

Simmons is basing his theory on the "huge underwater plume" assertion. So the question is, where is he getting that information from?

If there really is something of that size underwater it follows that the leak we're seeing cannot account for it, which makes what Matt saying more plausible.

Univ of Georgia research team. Trying to find a better link than this...

The people posting on the uga blog don't claim either to have discovered a surprising new source for the plume they're tracking or to have measured how much oil is in the plume.

I've avoid Matt's thoughts as portrade by others. Same position for what the senator "heard' or "belives".

Just a little grounding on these matters: has anyone seen credible proof that oil is leaking out of the sea floor 5 - 7 miles away? Has anyone seen any credible evidence that oil/NG is leaking from outside of the surface csg at the blowout well? Not speculating if these "reports" are true or not. Just have seen a lot of words like "possible" and "likely" and "potential". But have seldom seen the word "is". If some one can show either of these two speculations are, if fact true, we can discuss the remafications. But with so much ugly reality hitting on in the face daily I don't care to get into what ifs.

Hey, Rock
You keep talking about using GPS for the RWs. Surely somebody would have double-checked the location of the well by now.


How do you think all the DP ships are holding on location. They will all have at least 3 separate systems. If the co-ordinates from where they found DWH BOP were differant from what crews were given, we would have heard by now!

The UTM coordinates of the wells are listed in the well plan (I posted the link below) and can be checked against the displays on the ROV screens.

Well A:

N 10431617.00
E 1202803.88

Well B:

N 10434194.00
E 1202514.00

Both say depth 4,992'

Those coordinates mean nothing to me. Most people, I think, are familiar with GPS coordinates, (Latitude and Longitude), but not UTM coordinates. For instance the Oriskany, the carrier sank off Pensacola has GPS Coordinates of: N30:02.6, W87:00.4 or 30*02'38"N Latitude, 87*00'25"W Longitude.

Ron P.

The drilling plan also lists the lat/lon, but most of the ROV feeds have the UTM coords on the screen. The feed from the ROV monitoring the cap shows that it's location is well B from the plan from a quick check last night.


Well B: N lat 28*44'16.027", W lon 88*22'00.581" and in the light of day I see the plan says "lamber x-y coordinates", not UTM, however those do match the ROV feeds...

Case closed? It can't be that EZ, can it?

No, you're wrong. The Coast Guard lost their TomTom months ago.

his thinking seems to be anecdotal reckoning that the original blow out was of a magnitude larger than suggested...

to me his thinking seems odd from a layman's POV because if such a rupture existed it hard to believe 12,000-20,000 bd would still be coming out of the riser?

his claims based on the overall size of the spill seem unsupported. Is 40% of the GOM effected?

i see your point. It was stupid of the senator to even bring it up if it has not been confirmed. I guess he could not resist a little sensationalism with all the lights and cameras pointed at him.

The concern must be out there, though. They're talikng about it.

Are you implying SpaceMan Bill has a weakness for cameras?

Huge underwater plume is expected as a natural consequence of deepwater blowouts. Micronized oil that stays suspended in the water column,
methane has dissolved, bigger droplets wend their way to the surface.

Fate & Behavior of Deepwater Subsea Oil Well Blowouts

The Nelson and Simmons interviews appear to me to be unrelated with respect to the subject speculations. Neither interview presents any evidence whatsoever. If there is local leaking as alluded to by Nelson, this will be confirmed and reported in hours. With respect to Simmons assertions, I'll try to restate the question:

What activity or phenomena occurring at or near the location of the DWH oil spill could cause oil to "leak' from a location 6 miles away?

With that, I have no particular expertise to bear.

I sorta have a hard time coming up with a geological mechanism whereby that volume of oil could have migrated that far, in that quantity, over a period of less than two months.

Fluids are going to find the easiest route out, and it will be hard to imagine an easier route than an open hole, straight up.

Still, no harm in investigating. Knowledge is our best friend right now.


Has there been another well six miles away that was drilled and abandoned? That might be one source.

With migrating gas carrying the bottom hole pressure up to higher formations like in an underground blow out I wonder what would be stopping it to pressure up and frac through to the next higher formation. Sounds like there has been a big problem with frac pressure being close to well control pressure which makes me think we have a formation structure that is barely containing this. Are there any bomb proof hard rock zones that can be anchored to on the way down?

I think there is some flow out the bottom of the 22" but not enough to explain Simmons claims. Nobody knows what the flow rate is coming out of the reservoir. Best estimates would only be for what is coming up the top of the BOP.

ov, maybe I'm not understanding Matt Simmons' claim, but he seems to be claiming that the wellhead once connected to the DH platform by a riser had its LMRP, BOP, and SPUD!! shoot out of the ground leaving nothing but the biggest gushing dirt hole ever seen outside of Saudi Arabia or ancient Texas.

Is that drift you're getting from him? 'cause that is what I'm hearing.

And the ROV theatre we've been watching - I just knew those were diving-board shadows. I just knew it!

That's what I heard him say.

I'd heard that but I thought they were making a joke. If the BOP stack has been transplanted then where is all the oil coming from that is currently being collected from the top of the BOP? That's loony tunes, IMHO.

Yup, what I heard.

I also heard Simmons introduced as "one of the foremost experts on oil on this planet". Do all the "foremost experts on oil" agree that "every time we unload a tanker it
should go right over to the oil lake and suck up the black crude from the bottom"?

He also says it is an "open hole with no casing" and that what we're looking at is a "little plume of gas, but no oil".

As they say "Never argue with a fool...".

If these claims were credible, he'd be on with Maddow, not Dylan Ratigan.

I've listened to this interview several times and at points it's been a bit hard to parse his phrasing at all. There are a few times when he seems to redirect himself mid-stream in a thought arc. Not sure I buy the man's story but I'll lay out what I think I hear him trying to parse out.

I get the impression that he misspoke at least once, because there isn't internal logic to the scenario he lays out as he ended up phrasing things. The audio interviews available the past week or so have laid his logic trail out a bit more coherently, although at that he's been coy on why he believes certain things to be true. Don't know that I believe what he's saying but in the radio interview linked from here a few days ago I could at least follow on one listen.

I gather he's saying is that the force of the blowout reminded him of blowouts he saw years ago, of the sort that blow a BOP out. He seems to slam into the next thought mid-sentence which makes it seem like he thinks that happenened in this case as well. Don't know that he's claiming that, awkward phrasing. He references pressures that are well above what the BOP is rated for, and I take it he might therefore believe the BOP being stuck open kept it from popping out like a cork (???).

I don't know if it's physically possible, but he seems to be claiming that the rig was burned from this huge release (maybe he thinks mainly gas?) which has now stopped up largely at this location, although it's not clear to me if he understands that in this interview to have internal logic he needs the flow from the riser to have dropped quite a bit of its own accord. Somehow the force of the release has transferred to create this ~6 mile away site where there's significantly larger leakage of oil.

The portion of this in which the BOP needs to have failed but is still there seems internally consistent to me IF my assumption of reminding him other blowouts is correct. In referencing a hole without a wellhead he could be referencing the hypothetical sea floor hole that never had one to begin with.

The part where he needs to have the leak at the riser be tremendous initially (during fire) and weak later weakens the story for me.

I think he made have slipped up and said riser "still connected to the rig" when he meant to say "to the wellhead" or something of the sort. I think he's under the impression that it's mostly gas coming out of the riser we've seen and the sea floor hole is the main oil source.

That's the way I get a cohesive narrative, accepting it as truth aside. Or maybe I'm trying to add cohesion where none exists and he's lost it, which would be sad at the individual human level.

One aspect of this narrative that doesn't seem completely crazy to me is a huge oil plume at great depth travelling with deep currents with only parts of it surfacing at different times in unpredictable (at least to us now given current limitations) locations. That seems plausible enough.

Man I am with you there "ov". I find it hard to believe hydrocarbons could traverse such a circuitous path given the weak frac gradient in the deepwater. You would figure the path of least resistance would be near vertical but man, after this debacle I reckon anything is possible.


The only way I can see for subsea blow out 6 or 7 miles away would be via a fault. BP drilling in Vietnam in 1993 with the Actinia semi sub hit such a fault.It was BPs first blow out for many years, looks like they are making up for lost time. From memory they were something like 10,000ft when they saw the sea erupting some distance from the rig. The blow out then came up under the rig around the casing. There is plenty of video on the net. With all the other problems BP had with this well and a fault like this, then they were just plumb out of luck. Possible but unlikely

As for the casing being shot out of the hole, we have seen the cut riser with the drill pipe inside the 9 7/8 casing inside the riser. So yes, the casing has been shot out of the hole. That is why nothing has worked on the BOP!

A dynamic bottom kill is the only thing that has a chance, but the calcs will be challanging balancing between killing the well and loosing circulation, and not totally fracing the formation.

Nuclear bombs, no comment, except for the title of a litle known movie about some African tribesman carrying around a Coke bottle that came out of the sky "The Gods Must Be Crazy"

As for the casing being shot out of the hole, we have seen the cut riser with the drill pipe inside the 9 7/8 casing inside the riser. So yes, the casing has been shot out of the hole. That is why nothing has worked on the BOP!

The casing must have been slowing rising up the riser around the displacement of the mud to seawater. I wonder how much of the 9 7/8" was in the riser. If it's lots then there is only open hole at the bottom of the 9 7/8" liner which is where the flow is coming from. Unless there was seperation at the crossover to the 7". Hard to say for sure what is going on down there.


I doubt the casing would slowly rise. It would most likely, having been restrained by the seal assembly and when this let go along with casing collasping alowing the any of the connections to part. As the presures would have been greater at the top of the hole I would suspect it would have been one of the top joints. I suspect BP has recovered the section of riser they cut and maybe they were lucky enough to have a section of casing with a number of length written on it, and therefore would know much of the casing had moved into the BOP. They would not know where the break occured.

As for the casing being shot out of the hole, we have seen the cut riser with the drill pipe inside the 9 7/8 casing inside the riser. So yes, the casing has been shot out of the hole. That is why nothing has worked on the BOP!

I haven't seen this pic with pipe inside casing inside riser...can someone post a link or the pic?


A snap shot by gdtrfb near the bottom.

The original thoughts were to two lengths of drill pipe side by side, but on closer inspection it looks like the 9 7/8 casing gone into a fig of eight. The left half containing the drill pipe. This discussion has taken place at drillers club as well, but find the exact spot at the moment.

Is it possible the casing did not 'shoot' up into the riser, but that BP was not able to set it quite as deep as intended, and a stub was still sticking up into the riser, waiting to be cut off after the cement was set? It might help explain why the shear rams wouldn't cut. Would also make unloading the mud before setting the second plug even more inexcusable.

I found that Vietnam video you referred to here.

Extraordinary. Thank you for the link.

It's possible that there could be a shallow turbidite sand deposit, with or without faulting, acting as a conduit for oil, from ruptured casing. There was a WSJ story to the effect that the top kill effort didn't work because compromised casing was leaking mud. And if the casing was leaking mud from the topkill effort, why wouldn't oil be leaking too?


The ideal turbidite sequence

Turbidites were first properly described by Arnold H. Bouma (1962), who studied deepwater sediments and recognized particular fining up intervals within deep water, fine grained shales, which were anomalous because they started at pebble conglomerates and terminated in shales.
This was anomalous because within the deep ocean it had historically been assumed that there was no mechanism by which tractional flow could carry and deposit coarse-grained sediments into the abyssal depths.

Bouma cycles begin with an erosional contact of a coarse lower bed of pebble to granule conglomerate in a sandy matrix, and grade up through coarse then medium plane parallel sandstone; through cross-bedded sandstone; rippled cross-bedded sand/silty sand, and finally laminar siltstone and shale. This vertical succession of sedimentary structures, bedding, and changing lithology is representative of strong to waning flow regime currents and their corresponding sedimentation.

It is unusual to see all of a complete Bouma cycle, as successive turbidity currents may erode the unconsolidated upper sequences. Alternatively, the entire sequence may not be present depending on whether the exposed section was at the edge of the turbidity current lobe (where it may be present as a thin deposit), or upslope from the deposition centre and manifested as a scour channel filled with fine sands grading up into a pelagic ooze.

Has he mentioned which direction this unregarded upwelling is in? Because if he has, a map of the local geology and a ruler would tell you if this fault/sand deposit idea was credible.

Frankly I'd think it was more likely that there was an entirely separate upwelling that nobody had noticed previously than that it was connected to this event. Either is pretty iffy.

This is my first post and I will open with a thank you to the professionals. I shy away from *expert* because it always brings back the "drip under pressure" connotation and that's what I was thinking after watching Matt & Dylan. My experience in dealing with pressure has been above sea level and that was mainly aircraft pressurization. I will say thanks again for the short tour course on geology, physics and subsea technology. I've been reading here since day three of this event because I went looking for something other than the media to present the happenings. Just before I signed on the video was added and my original questions were more rethorical in nature.

I've read (skimmed) most of the posts above but when watching the video I was beginning to wonder if MS was refering to the same blowout and then he referenced the *oil lake* ??? super tankers stopping by after off-loading and filling up.....and I digress again to drip under pressure. I fully understand Dylan's above my paygrade comment that's why I'm here.


PS Rockman thank you for your explanation on work ethics, even when it needs to be manipulated with a paycheck. I do wish the media would stop refering to this incident as an accident.

Not an oil patch guy, so don't count me for anything, but even the Actinia blowout was nowhere *near* 6 miles away from the rig. From this video, looks like half a mile, tops.

It is darned amazing to see that drill ship start listing. that is what occurs with the loss of bouyancy as the gas filled water is lighter and gives it less displacement support.

It clearly shows though that the blowout initially was not at the wellhead. Other variables 'could' account for how far away this could happen.

1) max production for any GOM well has been about 40,000 bpd (I think)
2) this is a vertical well, and so if the outer casing is ruptured below sea bed, most likely escape route would be up well bore between casing and formation
3) BP have already said that blowout is between inner production tubing and outer casing
4) no one knows how much oil is below surface
5) the buoyancy issue is one that tripped me up to begin with, but the fact seems to be that hot oil spewing into cold water at 5000 ft depth forms an emulsion and the oil therefore remains entrained in water column for a much longer time than if it was simply belching to surface as single phase oil. Suggesting a vast oil lake really seems to go against this and it would be gravitationally unstable. If there was a much thicker oil layer already on surface then we would be seeing much greater environmental harm and they would be burning much more of it.
6) why would the casing rupture?
7) we have been watching video for weeks of oil belching out of BOP that is quite clearly still in place ... unless BP have staged all this

At the very least we need a stratigraphic column, descriptions and a key.

didn't rockman say he'd surveyed in the gulf years ago? this area?
any liklihood that the BP relief PR pic is based on reality?

Probably you have seen this but... Drilling plan listing the locations of the two wells - maps, but no section:


and some general articles about geology in the area:

Supra-Salt Stacked Condensed Sections (SCS): Potential Indicators of Subsalt Stratigraphy*
or pdf

Geological Controls and Variability in Pore Pressure in the Deep-Water Gulf of Mexico*

Multiple Outer Shelf Deltas and Downslope Massive Mass-Wastings ...

GOM development prospects - lots of graphics and grand plans:

Agreed. It's on file at MMS, but BP proprietary.

If all the ROVs working the sea floor near the DWH well are being controlled by BP, then our only source of information from this area is from BP.

I am not implying by this observation that BP is hiding anything.

If the United States wanted to take any independent look, it could send its own (USN) ROVs, and even an Alvin-class DSV if it wanted.

However, the mishap-area sea surface and sea floor is already fairly crowded with activity, and inserting even more surface and sub-surface crafts may result in a mishap or at least slowing remediation ops down.

This isn't truly *independent* observation, nor is it foolproof, but I have no doubt that U.S. signal intelligence folks could intercept the video feeds being beamed off the ROV support ships, to at least confirm that the video isn't being censored after it arrives in the rooms full of BP suits.

NYT for Tues morning release- Andrew Sorkin on possible BP vj----

It seems unthinkable, even now, that the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could bring down the mighty BP. But investment bankers get paid to think the unthinkable — and that is just what they are doing.

Times Topic: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)

The idea that BP might one day file for bankruptcy, particularly as part of a merger that would enable it to cordon off its liabilities from the spill, is starting to percolate on Wall Street. Bankers and lawyers are already sizing up potential deals (and counting their potential fees).

Given the plunge in BP’s share price — the company has lost more than a third of its value since Deepwater Horizon blew — some bankers and analysts say BP is starting to look like takeover bait. The question is, who would buy BP, given its enormous potential liabilities?

Shell and Exxon Mobil are both said to be licking their chops. And already, flinty legal minds are dreaming up scenarios in which BP would file a prepackaged bankruptcy and separate the costs of the cleanup — and potentially billions of dollars in legal claims — into a separate corporate entity.

Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, has insisted that his giant will weather this storm. BP is indeed a money machine: it turned a profit of nearly $17 billion last year.

“The strength of cash-flow generation in recent quarters has provided us with a balance sheet that allows us to fully take on the responsibility for the Gulf of Mexico response,” Mr. Hayward told employees last Friday.

But that hasn’t stopped the deal crowd from blue-skying potential outcomes. Here is some of the math:


Dude! I posted this above.

Frankly even at this time, I believe the US portion of BP will file bankruptcy, maybe within three months.

As to whether the parent UK company can also be held responsible, yes it can to extent it may have to pay fines recognized by international law.

Even so, most of BP's assets could still be saved if this thing wound down in a few months. But I don't think it will be wrapped up by then, and political pressure may end up making BP give up something like half of its worldwide assets.
That is the best case scenario, the worst case is that BP is sliced up and mostly distributed to those hurt by the spill.

Note: I am just making a guess based upon my financial background and some experience dealing with lawsuits (although I am not a lawyer).

- retired engineer who's been reading this site for a month - -

Understandably the focus of this work centers about the extremely heavy-duty tools and techniques of the undersea oil trade - keep the oil and gas confined to high pressure piping and manage it in the conventional way - trouble is, it's NOT confined to the "plumbing" and it seems it's not agreeable to getting back into the pipes when told to do so - so let me just ask one question:

Must we completely give up on the idea of collecting and transporting the oil to the surface in buoyant "displacement carriers" ? (NOT 'balloons!")

I realize the multi-phase mature of what's spilling, and some of the challenges that creates, but I seek to understand the problem a little better:

IF it were possible to cycle a series of extremely robust "inverted cup" collection carriers over the emerging spill ( base dia ~~25'), and IF it were possible to avoid most of the gas plume - see oil/gas plume separation research:


AND IF it is possible to valve off any remaining expanding gas at the top of these carriers as they rise ( to me, that's one of the biggest "if's"), THEN wouldn't it be possible to collect oil by the hour and ferry it to the surface, say, 500 or 1,000 bbl at a time? 1,000 bbl has a buoyant force on the order of 65,000 lbs, so when I say a "robust" carrier, I truly mean it, and of course it would need to carry a ballast ring with a weight well in excess of the buoyancy - but if the gas can be managed so that it doesn't displace the oil from the carrier, couldn't such an approach be considered?

Many years ago I worked on heavy rigging systems for aerial logging - some of the techniques we used seem like they could be applicable here.

Thanks and if anyone needs to take me to task first, please have at it, but I'd also like to hear some of the real problems associated with such an approach...

It seems unthinkable, even now, that the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could bring down the mighty BP. But investment bankers get paid to think the unthinkable — and that is just what they are doing.

That made me throw up a little in my mouth.

WTF were they doing while they were financial wizarding our economy into the worst shape it has been in since the Great Depression? Amazing how journalists could write such tripe.

Prof Goose:

Thanks for bringing up Matt Simmons. Though his commentary seems outlandish, he has been accurate in the past. It has appeared to me that TOD regulars just blew him off without looking into it. Let's put BP's credibility and MS on a balance and see how they measure up.

Just because he's a lone voice doesn't mean he's wrong--though he may be.

Still consider this:

According to Dr. Jeff Masters at the Weather Underground (their GOM expert) 50% of oil evaporates within 12 hours of reaching the surface.

-37% of the GOM is closed to fishing due to the oil

---how much would there be if none evaporated?

-BP has been spraying in dispersants since when?

-considering the methane and high pressure injection/atomization, how much oil has stayed under water due to Vanderwaals forces (I think that's what keeps immiscible liquids in suspension)

-so how much oil has spewed into the GOM?
Seems to me, quite a bit.

Simmons said there was a big hole 6 miles from DH. How would he know that? He based that idea on a plume? I don't think so.
Have you considered that after spending much of his life in the oil business, and as someone here said, "his technical knowledge was a good as anyone's",
don't you think he might just have a couple of friends on the BP operation that might drop a dime to him from time to time?

He might be wrong, but I don't think he's gone crazy or blathering his way into senility. I do think that there is more to the DW Horizon story than we are hearing...the other spill on April 30th, just making its way to TOD today is case in point.

Time to look at what Simmons says, and perhaps invite him to post here.

And for those who haven't read the posts that referred to it, the Russians shut off 4/5 blowouts with nucs. That doesn't mean that this is the place to try one--especially if the cap structure in the GOM is questionable. It does show that it has been done before. There is a youtube video on it.


It may not take an expert to debunk Matt's lunacy.

1. He states the reservoir pressure is 40,000 to 50,000 psi. Is this pressure range even possible? He has no access to this information other than what we have.

2. He states the BOP was blown off like a cork. Problem is we know with 100% certainty that is not true. BOP is still attached to the wellhead.

3. He states BP is capturing GAS from the drilling riser which is connected to the bottom of the drilling rig. Where is the 10,000 barrels of oil a day BP is now capturing coming from then?

4. He states the flow is 100,000 to 150,000 barrels a day and bases this on the severity of the rig fire. Stupid and impossible analysis.

5. He states there is an open hole with no casing as the casing was blown out. He is referring to the original well, not a second leak a distance away from the original well. This is impossible as the BOP is still attached to the wellhead. That's where he claims the big leak is.

6. He states there is a 100 mile oil lake on the bottom of the GOM that is 400" to 500' deep. He then goes on to indicate that is different than the plumes. Oil floats, it is not possible for it to accumulate in a "lake" at the bottom of the GOM.

I could go on, but why bother?

What really bothers me is Dylan did absolutely no research in advance of this interview. He accepted everything Matt said at face value.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn here. Matt presented absolutely no evidence to back up any of his assertions. He ignores undeniable facts that disprove everything he says. He is simply rambling. I'll bet even money we are seeing signs of senility or mental illness.

TheraP, what is your professional opinion? Could Matt be bipolar and in a manic phase? That might explain his delusional thinking, poor judgement, and unrealistic beliefs in his abilities.

Re Matt Simmons health

Matt is looking a little bit neurologically compromised in the face but his speech on this video is well organised and coherent so I'm inclined to dismiss senility or alzheimer's onset.

His claims however seem to be blatantly irrational in places (BOP blown of the well head leaving open hole etc ) (If that BOP was my car, I'd be walking however)

Bottle of Wine, Fruit of the Vine ? Bipolar in manic phase, sub clinical scizophrenia, also possible

Sending Matt thoughts of Love and Healing will certainly do no harm.

what you've said makes sense. however, this is the SECOND interview with Ratigan, not the first...the first was a couple of weeks ago where he said the same things that made the initial press/nuking the well, etc.

I just don't get why someone would stake his credibility on this, either Dylan (who I happen to think a lot of--how he handled the Wall Street crisis was beyond compare, imho) or Simmons.

Dylan was giving Matt lots of psychological stroking towards the end of the interview PG. 1+1=2.

The way Ratigan handled the Wall Street crisis was/is almost as bad.

I commented several days back tyhat Simmons might be suffering from the early stages of mental decline, but he almost certainly has doctors, lawyers, business associates, and probably family that would have worked wonders to him out of the limelight if that were the case;he would not likely be repeating his claims unless he is both serious and still in charge of his own affairs.

So I conclude he is still rational , and that he is either sincere, or that he has some ulterior motive for making insincere statements.

I agree!!

I don't know how Matt could be so easily dismissed when he has read through hundreds of Saudi technical engineering documents to analyze and interpret the life span of oil field and convert that knowledge into the book, Twilight in the Desert. Someone who could read those types of journals, analyze the information, and draw conclusions from them certainly has enough industry knowledge and technical mind-set to be respected. Furthermore, I have been following Matt for years and he has never once seem like the kind of person that would make such an exaggerated claim as to put his reputation at stake by throwing out such ideas as "nuke it". Matt still has his business "Simmons & Co" to protect as well as his start-ups in ocean energy and wind farms in Maine. Someone with his experience and education knows that he can not go off and make wild accusations without coming off like a nut and ultimately impacting his business. Matt is also extremely well connected, with relationships not only in the oil industry, but also the US government. People talk when off the record and its possible that he is hearing conjecture from some good sources.

I'd start with the simplest questions working my way from the top-down. Gather the information on the estimated plumes and surface oil. Calculate a ball-park amount of oil necessary to produce plums and surface oil currently identified. Using the current known size of the riser pipe shown on TV, calculate what flow is necessary to create the volume of oil in the plumes and surface oil. Is that flow even realistic, or is the flow necessary so great and so out of reasonable possibility that oil has to be coming from somewhere else? If its not coming from the riser, where is it coming from? Start your search there...

And here we go from today's SEC filing by BP (actually a Press Release):

June 7, 2010


BP today provided an update on developments in the response to the MC252 oil well incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

Subsea Source Control and Containment

The lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap, installed on June 3, continues to collect oil and gas flowing from the well and transport them to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface. On June 5, a total of 10,500 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared. From June 3 through June 5, the volume of oil collected was 16,600 barrels and 32.7 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared.
Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next several days. It will be a few days before an assessment can be made as to the success of this containment effort.
This is a complex operation, involving risks and uncertainties, being carried out 5,000 feet under water. The LMRP containment cap never before has been deployed at these depths and conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured.
The volume of oil captured and gas flared is being updated daily on BP's website, www.bp.com
Preparations for additional planned enhancements to the LMRP cap containment system continue to progress.

The first planned addition will use the hoses and manifold that were deployed for the "top kill" operation to take oil and gas from the failed Deepwater Horizon blow-out preventer (BOP) through a separate riser to the Q4000 vessel on the surface, in addition to the LMRP cap system. This system is intended to increase the overall efficiency of the containment operation by possibly increasing the amount of oil and gas that can be captured from the well and is currently expected to be available for deployment in mid-June.

The second planned addition is intended to provide a more permanent LMRP containment cap system by directing the oil and gas to a new free-floating riser ending approximately 300 feet below sea level. A flexible hose then will be attached to a containment vessel. This long-term containment option is designed to permit more effective disconnection and reconnection of the riser to provide the greatest flexibility for operations during a hurricane and is expected to be implemented in early July.

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.

Surface Spill Response and Containment

Work continues to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea, to protect the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, and to collect and clean up any oil that has reached shore.

More than 2,600 vessels are now involved in the response effort, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels. Operations to skim oil from the surface of the water now have recovered, in total, approximately 368,000 barrels (15.5 million gallons) of oily liquid.

The total length of containment boom deployed as part of efforts to prevent oil from reaching the coast is now over 2.2 million feet, and an additional 2.4 million feet of sorbent boom also has been deployed.

To date, approximately 37,000 claims have been submitted and more than 18,000 payments already have been made, totalling approximately $48 million. BP has received more than 152,000 calls into its help lines.

Additional information

The cost of the response to date amounts to approximately $1,250 million, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs. This excludes the $360 million in funds for the Louisiana barrier islands construction project. It is too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident.

While this does not address Mr. Simmons' assertions I believe it on topic.

craigk feel free to repost as needed.

Well, I'm watching the Colbert Report who has dedicated tonight's entire show to the disaster:

Steven Colbert: BP has noted improvement in amount of oil spilling into the Gulf. This is the flow before the cap. This is the flow after the cap. Note to self: remind me never to buy condoms at a BP station.

Aaaaauuuuggghhhh! And I was watching CNN. Doh! (Hold the flames, I find it amusing.)

I guess watching any attempt at "journalism" is entirely unneeded. It appears BP, in their "transparency", will be able to fulfull all our information needs. Witness:

BP reporters Tom Seslar and Paula Kolmar are on the ground in the Gulf, meeting the people most immediately affected by the oil spill. Read their regular updates.


There are so many stories that need to be told, but really?

With the possible exception of Diverman, who only ever gets his "facts" from the perpetually underfunded and industry-corrupted EPA, or government (no qualifiers needed), others might be interested in this: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/07/95467/bp-well-may-be-spewing.html

WASHINGTON — BP's runaway Deepwater Horizon well may be spewing what the company once-called its worst case scenario — 100,000 barrels a day, a member of the government panel told McClatchy Monday.

Leifer said that based on satellite data he's examined, the rate of flow from the well has been increasing over time, especially since BP's "top kill" effort failed last month to stanch the flow. The decision last week to sever the well's damaged riser pipe from the its blowout preventer in order to install a "top hat" containment device has increased the flow still more _ far more, Leifer said, than the 20 percent that BP and the Obama administration predicted...

A team of experts from government science agencies and universities estimated last week that at a minimum 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day were flowing from the well, but the team declined to estimate an upper end for the flow because the information they received from BP was inadequate.

Leifer, who is described in the flow rate's preliminary report released last week as a "world reknown researcher" who's published more than 60 scientific articles, said BP still has not delivered the data that scientists need for an accurate appraisal of the spill's size.

"We're still waiting," he said.

Four days away from two months now, it's worse than ever before, and we still don't know the flow rate.

IF you did know the flow rate, and were give an hour by hour count of the spilled barrels,
WHAT, exactly, would you do differently?
Do you propose a different response if you KNOW exactly that it is 10,000 bbls a day and something else entirely if it is 21,000 bbls a day?

Thanks in advance for the info.

"IF you did know the flow rate, and were give an hour by hour count of the spilled barrels,
WHAT, exactly, would you do differently?"

I'll take a shot at that. What, exactly, anyone, here or at BP, USCG, MMS, EPA, FEMA, the White House, Congress, etc. might do differently is unknowable, but:

For purposes of controlling/containing/reducing the flow into the Gulf, knowing, with as much accuracy as possible, the actual flow, would make it much more likely that effective measures could be designed and implemented.

WRT the efforts underway to track, monitor, quantify, etc. the subsea plumes and their effect on the marine environment, same answer.

WRT to planning, staffing, logistics, etc. for the shoreline cleanup & remediation efforts, same answer.

It is important to know the fate of the leaking oil - how much to surface, how much stays at depth, what is the effect of dispersants on the oil, where does the oil at depth go, what is the effect on the deepwater ecosystem... The rate is quite important in order to understand what is happening. What can I say about your question? Typical for you I guess.


McClatchy does better than average journalism and has been way better than average on this story.

Leifer seems like a serious guy with serious credentials. OTOH, I'm having a hard time understanding how satellite image analysis, without the flow rate data from BP (that all of the panel members have been screaming for), and much more plume monitoring data than has yet been collected and analyzed, can give us a very good picture of a flow that is, in large part, not surfacing. I mean, really, how could he even guess?

If 100kbpd is really gushing into the Gulf, it sure doesn't look like it's coming from the riser (pre- or post-cap) we've been watching. It just seems volumetrically outlandish.

So, if Leifer is somehow right, then maybe Matt is somehow right, too. There's this big crater, six miles away...


"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half
an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

It's a fair question, kalliergo. I imagine it was more along the lines of how Steve Wereley got his 76,000-104,000bd, i.e. computer monitoring of video and some simple calculations. Add in the fact that video is much longer now, more oil's reached the surface or been found in underwater carcinogenic plumes, the gusher is enormously bigger and darker, etc. Plus he's a serious guy...

A basic question: is it even possible for the given size of the riser pipe for 100K+ barrels to flow though it? Would it exceed the pipe's psi limit? If the pipe can not handle it, the remaining flow of oil has to be coming from somewhere, where?

I think the structure of the reservoir is really at the heart of this arguement. If we ass-u-me that this reservoir had a salt dome, that could easilty explaine a fracture withing this same field? I have asked this question before shortly after April 20th. What is the known structure of this reservoir? Salt dome? multiple faults? continues gas cap? water? I find nothing in documents before the spill and nothing after the spill and find it strange that no one seems to ask this very basic question!

I received a personal note, which I acknowledge gratefully.

Down to business. I agree with Matt Simmons and posted as much evidence as I could garner from publically available ROV feeds. We aren't being shown the IR or sonar images. Low res video is crap compared to what the ROV pilots and BP folks are looking at. Obviously USCG is in the dark or has been ordered to follow the White House playbook until they get a handle on how big a problem they have. In my view, it is a medium-sized problem, not quite as gigantic as Simmons suggested to Ratigan.

Let's roll the movie back to the events of April 20. Simmons thinks that the reservoir pressure is 30,000 psi judging by the force of the blowout. This is clearly impossible. If true, it would have blown out immediately on penetration April 17. The scout ticket tells us that the pressure at the top of the reservoir was no greater than ~13,000 psi based on mud weight to control lost circulation:

LWD (RLL, BATSON, PWD) @17173, M 14.1, NO SWC, 9 7/8 LNR @14759-17168, LOT 15.9, LWD (RLL, BATSON, GEOTAP, PWD) @18260, LOST CIRC W/14.4 MUD, C&C SPTTD LCM

LWD=Logging While Drilling
RLL=Recorded Lithology Log with gamma ray and resistivity
NO SWC=No Side Wall Cores
PWD=Pressure While Drilling
LOT=Leak Off Test to measure strength of wellbore wall

At 18260 ft, Lost Circulation with 14.4 lb/gal mud, then Circulated and Conditioned the mud and Spotted a Lost Circulation Material pill to cure the losses. They had drilled into the top of the reservoir (gas cap) and mud started leaking away into the reservoir, because 14.4 mud weight was greater than the reservoir pressure. Assuming a vertical well, reservoir pressure was less than 14.4 x .052 x 18260 = 13768 psi, or mud would not have been lost.

It was a slow process of gas reaching bubble point plus a nonsense negative test ordered by Kaluza that sandbagged the drillers into displacing to seawater without watching mud returns or understanding what was happening. When a gas bubble formed it expanded rapidly as it travelled up the riser unopposed, blowing out the seawater and mud. It was followed by very light liquid and more gas. The BOP did not fire on EDS from the bridge because hydraulics were gone or malfunctioned, but there was mux control to one or both of the pods. Only when the rig sank and riser collapsed did the BOP see a "deadman" condition and attempt to shear the drill pipe -- except by then it was clogged with debris and couldn't shear or close fully.

Thus we have gas and light oil at low pressure spewing from the riser swivel. Below the BOP should be ~8,000 psi, which is sufficient to find paths of opportunity to nearby vents. However we have to keep in mind that collapsed casing and broken cement gives the reservoir a path to salt welds (thin mostly vertical remnants of salt withdrawl) and fractured slump faults. It is therefore possible that light oil at 13,000 psi could migrate updip miles away.

I posted such evidence as I found. It is not enough to prove anything, but convinced me that Simmons knows the deepwater GoM geology.


Didn't BP report to the MMS way back in March that they were having well control problems, to the point that an internal memo by a BP exec noted that they might potentially lose control of the well? Did that refer to this current well or the "previous" well?


In March, 2010, the rig was experiencing problems that included drilling mud falling into the undersea oil formation, sudden gas releases, a pipe falling into the well, and at least three occasions of the blowout preventer leaking fluid.[39]

How could "drilling mud fall into the undersea oil formation" in March if they had not punctured the well dome until later (in April)?

In regards to Simmons, either he's crazy as a loon....which I seriously doubt, his statements and arguments are logical and coherent, not rambling......or, he's onto something that maybe no one else is willing or able to talk about directly, for various reasons. I'm sure that at least for a few moments, since this occurred, he has viewed the ROV video feeds, and can clearly see the BOP at the well #2 site......so his statement about the BOP being blown off may not be referring to this well, but perhaps some other wellhead? Maybe one that is 6-7 miles away (or, 1-2 miles away)?

You might want to read just a teensy-weensy bit "between the lines", as, again......either he's crazy as a cuckoo (but then, why has he been pretty much right about other facts, is he an idiot savant of some sort?), or, HE'S TELLING YOU THINGS INDIRECTLY. That's part of the art of diplomacy, you know...........telling you the nastiest things, in the nicest way (or only allowable way) possible.

Supreme Congrats to Prof. Goose for bringing up the need, twice now, to try to actually parse what (and perhaps why) Simmons is talking about or alluding to, rather than just going into the near-jerk character attacks, which, BTW, seems suspiciously like a "smear campaign" about THE PERSON rather about THE MESSAGE or THE MEANING.

Regarding those who take the words of character assassins, well, those who learn from hacks deserve to be rooked....

The well was not at final depth in March. The loss of drilling fluids to the formation was to a different formation than the bottom hole. They ran the lost circulation materials and/or casing to stop that fluid loss. It is not unusual and that is how it is regularly dealt with.

Dylan Ratigan has simply gone to the lowest form of journalism by airing another dose of Simmons. Consider that the crew on the DWH drilled into the pay and the well was under control. Trip out of hole and run the casing. Well under control. Pump cement jog. Well under control. The time frame is days. There was no 50,000# formation pressure that Simmons claims and could not be. When he makes the claim again after a couple of weeks to think about what he stated the first time, it simply demonstrates that he does not understand drilling. But since Ratigan sets it up that he one of the world's leading experts on oil drilling and production, who could challenge that claim? The Gorbot is a Nobel Prize winning expert on earth science and he knows that the core temperature of the earth is "millions of degrees"? The more they are interviewed the more they are revealed.

His further claim that the real leak is at the top of the riser attached to the DWH rig lying on the bottom is also nonsense. It cannot be. Both ends of the riser are now simply exposed and open to seawater. The riser is not attached or connected in any way to the well. The wellhead is sitting on the top of the pipe with a BOP connected to it and has not gone anywhere.

Now, after recognizing that his first several claims are impossible, how much credence or certainty would you place on the claim that there has been underground migration of well fluids on a tremendous scale? The underground migration theory is possible and we know it can happen. However, unless someone can spot the leak it has about as much standing as ghost sightings. This leak is very much different from other blowouts as the oil and gas behave differently a 5,000 ft depth. The escaping oil is alive with gas that causes it to explode when released, and the gas immediately will form into hydrates. The oil will be fractionalized as it somewhat explodes and has a rapid temperature change. No doubt that a bbl is still a bbl, but the capablility of those exploded bbls to mix into the water is entirely different from spilling a quart of Mobile 1 on the surface. The "plume" size will be many times larger but will have a very small % of oil in the water. And it does not take very much of it to create a problem.

Where is the oil? Specify gravity says: I wanna be on top. If the *experts* have the data on the whereabouts of this large plume aka: oil lake for the good of the GOM and mankind could they just produce it?

micron sized drops will stay suspended for a long time,
brownian motion and all that.

Fate & Behavior of Deepwater Subsea Oil Well Blowouts

Model runs of the oil dispersal at various depths assuming typical weather and current patterns:


They use a 'dye' the simulate the oil in the model, but the dye has characteristics of water rather than oil - perhaps they don't have the programming worked out for oil.

This was linked in the Guardian article referred to elsewhere in the thread. It will be interesting to see how such simulations compare to the plume data from the ship surveys.

Somewhere, pretty deep down there, there was a drilling incident where Deepwater Horizon hit a fracture zone and got stuck, losing the drill and a bunch of mud. They had to back off and angle a bit to keep going. One would presume that it was sealed properly, but that doesn't seem to be the BP way, at least on this well.

Personally, I've got no problems believing that that zone could be the starting point of a leak that ends up venting on the ocean floor. And that it is thus essential to keep the well head flowing in order to minimize pressure on that vent. And that only a successful relief well, below that lost drill, can stop the flow.

I think Simmons is off the mark a bit, but Nelson may actually have "proof".

Aker ROV watching the bottom, black billows, note the time of day.

Hello, I'm new here and find the discussion on the gulf spill very interesting. I had a question that it doesn't seem like anyone has brought up yet.

Regarding Simmons' theory that the spill must be vastly larger than any of the current estimates (and thus theorizing that there is a separate hole that is not being monitored by BP cameras 6 miles away from the BOP), I was wondering if the following simple math is of any use:

I was looking at best guess estimates right now, and according to Wikipedia the total size of the slick is anywhere from 2500 sq. miles to 9100 sq. miles. Given that the Deepwater Horizon blow out seems to be very similar to the Ixtoc I oil rig blowout back in July 1979 (the major difference being that the Ixtoc was in 160ft deep water and the Deepwater Horizon is in a mile deep water), I looked at what the experts estimated was the size of the slick that resulted from that blowout. According to wikipedia (again), the slick was 1100 sq miles in area.

Now the Ixtoc I oil spill lasted from June 3 1979 to March 23 1980 and in total spilled an estimated 3 million barrels of oil. So just by basic math, already it seems that the Deepwater Horizon spill is at worst 8 times (9100 divided by 1100 rounded) the Ixtoc I oil spill (disregarding for simplicity any calculations getting into how thick the slick is compared to that of the Ixtoc I).

So 8 multiplied by 3 million barrels = possibly 24 million barrels already having been spilled. At that rate the estimate is about 500,000 barrels of oil leaking per day so far (since the spill has gone on for 49 days). So given Simmons' observation that the pipe they are focusing on is only 21 inches in diameter, there is no way to obtain that astronomically large flow rate. Then that obviously leads him to believe that there must be a far larger hole somewhere else in the ocean floor.

Does this sort of analysis simplify things too much, or could it be used to ballpark how much has spilled so far? I realize that the Ixtoc I spill was probably a bit easier to contain and control given its shallow depth in comparison with the Deep Water Horizon, but even if you take the low estimate of 2500 sq miles for Deep Water so far the ball park calculation comes out to around 140,000 barrels per day spilling in the gulf, which again it is unlikely that much is coming out of the 21 inch pipe.

I had the same concern, but was shy to voice it.

I know the flow from the BOP is bad and nasty and all...but it is only one pipe and it is apparently not even flowing at full capacity.

On the other side, we have the Gulf surface quickly filling with oil slick, oil inundating many miles of marsh and, to add insult to injury, some giant underwater oils "clouds" due to copious use of dispersant.

So...can all of these come from just a single 21" diameter, partially flowing source?

Can a single source really fill essentially the whole Gulf?

Ixtoc was perhaps partially constrained by the bay of campeche, and was not near the loop. I'm not sure you can compare the surface slicks in that way--although I will say that because the dispersant has reduced the surface slick (and increased the actual problem) , you may have a point.

However, I keep coming back to BPs own claim that the well has a subsurface pressure problem of some sort that stopped the top kill from working. That's called a leak.

Supposedly allot of this oil does not readily reach the surface due to the water pressures from the oil leaking at 1 mile depth. Most of the oil rises to neutral buoyancy. That's why there are large underwater plumes of oil. Trying to calculate the amounts of oil leaked by surface measurements in this case will not work.

Right, as I said I don't know how you calc this way--but again that points to a huge leak here, not smaller

Hmmm, well in that case wouldn't that make the calculation error on the side of the BP well leaking more than any current estimate? According to the New York Times, the Feds have closed fishing to 78,264 square miles in the gulf. It would be unbelievable to think that 49 days into this mess there is an underwater plume that is covering 70,000 square miles.

Well, the closures may or may not be in the right areas. Hell, maybe it's bigger than the closed areas. They are just now find oiled birds in Texas, far from the closed areas, and it was well outside NOAA projections towards FL last I checked too (do they even bother now?)

Much as all the tea leaf reading does seem to point to a much bigger spill, I'm not sure we can go about it this way.

Haven't seen this posted on this or yesterday's thread, apologies if it's a dupe:


"I've had a lot of people ask me, 'Will the oil reach Florida?'" Synte Peacock, one of the NCAR researchers who did the simulation, said in a report on the early findings released by NCAR. "Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood."

I think your analysis is simplifying it a little bit too much. At 160ft deep the oil from Ixtoc had a relatively short distance to travel to the surface of the ocean. From 5,000ft the undersea currents shift the oil, pulling it this way and that, spreading out to a much larger area. I think that's why for many weeks and even today you can see stripes or long rectangular sheets of oil on the surface rather than one big whole/complete mass of oil. I haven't seen any aerial pictures of the Ixtoc spill but I suspect it was mostly one big mass, and as the oil rose to the surface it accumulated against the oil already there and you had a much thicker layer of oil thus reducing it's sq mile coverage.

Uh, no, Subsea current is very, very slow compared to surface current due to the pressure. So, surface slick should be over a smaller area, based on that.

Depth does have the tendency to create plumes, as does dispersant. But again, those make the slick smaller.

It doesn't have to be a fast current to spread out the oil. This spill has a lot farther to travel to the surface and as the currents change as it goes up the water column the oil will spread out. Also as the winds and currents change the slick is getting dispersed. Hence the comments from Adm Thad Allen a week ago:

"Finally, the weather has moved to the south, as I've stated many, many times, this is not a huge, monolithic oil slick. This is a bunch of smaller oil slicks, some very large, here - 15 miles in length and a couple miles in width - and scattered over a 200-mile radius. So it's a very, very large perimeter."

and this past Sunday:

"TAPPER: Is there a big oil slick that size coming--

ALLEN: There are a number of slicks. One of the problems with this entire spill is it's not a monolithic, huge spill. Depending on when the oil came to the surface and the wind and the current, it's disaggregated itself into hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller pieces of oil. So we're trying to fight it on a lot of different fronts."

The area that's "closed" for fishing is not completely covered with oil, but it's the perimeter of where most of these oil slicks could potentially be.

Yeah that's a good point. It definitely isn't just one big slick, it's broken up into many many pieces and the estimates must just simplify and label the entire slick 2500 sq miles or 9000 sq miles when its not that entire area that is covered in oil.

Looking up some past videos on this Simmons guy, it's not like he has a perfect track record. He was on CNBC in July 2008 spouting his belief that oil, then at or nearing record highs, would only go higher, possibly as high as $300 per barrel. We all know how that one turned out - oil crashed with the onslaught of the financial crisis and the recession.

"We all know how that one turned out - oil crashed with the onslaught of the financial crisis and the recession."

Actually it was the other way around. The oil supply versus demand issues raised the price to the point where the economy had to shift from growth to the limits to that from resource depletion. That took down the housing bubble and all other debt bubbles dependent on growth to keep the economic ponzi scheme going. That is why there will be no recovery.

The connection between the housing bubble and oil prices is nonexistant.

People buying a $500,000 house they could not afford on a $20,000 income did not default because they had to spend an additional $15 a week on gasoline.

They defaulted because they could not repop the mortgage to $600,000 in three years to catch up on the payments.

"The connection between the housing bubble and oil prices is nonexistant."

So you are trying to claim that $147.00/bbl of oil had no impact on the economy??? Get real! That was THE reason the housing bubble popped... because the growth based economy could not take $147.00/bbl oil. It shut down the economy and took out the debt based bubbles with it.

Clearly the price of oil brought the faux economy to its knees exposing the house of cards.

His contention is easily supported, and Augustus and I would agree on almost nothing political.

If $147/barrel oil was killing the economy, it would have shown up in inflation rates; and inflation over this period was very low. Things just aren't all that energy-intensive; with oil at $50 from 2005 onwards, the fraudsters selling unrepayable mortgages would still have sold them, the mortgages still would not have been repaid, and all things would have continued hellwards in handbaskets.

When the economy fell over and demand vanished, the oil price went very low, and this did _not_ immediately cause the economy to refloat. People can endure the gas cost for their extended commute cutting into their disposable income much more readily than they can endure mortgage repayments larger than their income.

I don't know of any organisation that lost financial-crisis-scale money speculating on an ever-increasing oil price. It may well be that people moved speculative resources from the housing bubble to the oil bubble, which would explain the timing of the growth of the oil bubble.

defaulting is only one of the causes in a multi-parallel cause and effect train.

the oil price didn't cause anything in of its self... the inability to expand lending which is a product of consumption (growth).. which is in turn a function of fossil fuel production lead to both oil price hikes and a lack of new borrowing by actors in economies incapable of consuming faster because their productivity was straight jacketed by energy constraints...

the oil couldn't get out of the ground fast enough... you can always create more debt until some real world factor comes into play at a rate quicker than the time delay between borrowing and repayment..

the system needs to expand to work and is rate dependent for many things.. especially oil

in theory the mortgage holders were supposed to go out and make the economy expand to pay off the debt.. bottom line.. the complexities of the actual mortgage deals, resetting interests rates etc is just detail.

the house owners had to use the energy to expand the economy no matter where they lived..or if they consumed it second hand via cheap labour in foreign countries

People buying a $500,000 house they could not afford on a $20,000 income did not default because they had to spend an additional $15 a week on gasoline.

This is the same disingenuous argument made by ilargi.

Oil at over $100 per barrel affected at helluva lot more than just gasoline prices. It affected ALL transported goods. It affected heating. It affected the materials costs of everything that requires energy to make or that is even made from petrochemicals.

Gasoline prices are minuscule portion of the costs.

Oil reached record highs in 2007-2008 and the economy crashed in conjunction with the mortgage crisis. The two phenomena support and enhance each other. Clearly both have taken down the economy.

"about 500,000 barrels of oil leaking per day"

Cool. A new world record. I like watching world records being broken..

The largest known 'wildcat' oil gusher blew near Qom, Iran on August 26, 1956. The uncontrolled oil gushed to a height of 52 m (170 ft), at a rate of 120,000 barrels per day.

One of the earliest gushers was at Spindletop. It ushered in the oil age 01/10/1901. Flow was 100,000 bbls/da and uncontained.


Is Beaumont a dead zone?

"Is Beaumont a dead zone?"

AFAIK, all of Texas is a dead zone, but what would I know? I'm a Dead Head.
"If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell." -- Gen. Phil Sheridan

I was a Bakersfield boy. The Dept. Fish and Game sez Spindletop is too small to be a keeper.

The Lakeview Gusher on the Midway-Sunset Oil Field in Kern County, California of 1910 is believed to be the largest-ever U.S. gusher.

The shallow Ixtoc blowout meant that the oil reached the surface quickly with little dispersion. So a thick surface layer formed. The 5000' deep BP blowout is resulting in a large amount of dispersion and a thin surface layer. Trapping of oil droplets below the surface is of course leading to only a fraction of the total oil forming a slick but this does not compensate for the thinness slick. I would take 2500 sq miles and multiply by a thickness that is at least 10 times smaller than Ixtoc giving a surface volume less than 25% of Ixtoc. So 15,000 bpd but likely the full amount is 30,000 bpd since the surface slick is probably 50% or less of the oil released.


Boa Deep Sea ROV 2 is looking at he base of the BOP, where there are four "spigots" coming out from the main well pipe.

What are these for?

Can one use these for flow or pressure measurements?

Or maybe additional oil extraction points?

As I understand it, they were used to cement the top liner. Cement goes in the bottom ones, and the top ones were used to provide a wash to keep the cement from mounding up too high in the annulus.

Bedtime thought:
"Who are you going to believe, me or your lyin' eyes?" — Grocho Marx

Thinking outside the rigid steel pipe: How a practical, collapsible/expandable tube could solve pressure differential problems, with almost all work done on shore and minimal ROV work.

Balancing pressures at the junction on top of the BOP is an ongoing problem. Too much pressure causes leakage and stresses the BOP. Too little sucks in seawater. The mechanics of steel pipes and fittings has been a huge problem.

One solution is to use a system that inherently has a near-zero pressure differential at all depths: A collapsible/expandable tube made of a rugged industrial material. The cross section would expand as necessary, and no more.

Conveyor belt materials look suitable (some specifics below). The materials are all polymers. They're rugged, abrasion resistant, and can take a petroleum-resistant cover. There's industrial experience with using them to make belts that move millions of tons of coal per year, and huge range of other products. The belts are routinely bent along their lengths to make troughs, so they have the right kind of flexibility.

The expandable tube could run parallel to the existing pipe, and with the zero pressure differential property, the bottom seal can be a little more than flexible skirt that can wrap around the leaking assembly, pulled tight by a cable that serves as a drawstring. No tight geometric constraints, so with a good design, precision ROV work can be avoided.

The upper end would require fittings to mate it with topside systems. That's a design problem in itself, but not one with any nasty requirements, and with everything done topside.

If rigid clathrates have an opportunity to form, a buildup could be be dislodged by pushing from outside the outside.

Materials, fabrication, and deployment:

Goodyear is a major conveyor belt supplier, and their work makes them experts in design, splicing, fasters, spooling, shipping, and so on.

I suspect they would jump on a project like this.

An expandable tube made by fastening two belts along their edges would lie flat on a spool across a deployment roller. It could accommodate large or small flows by expanding its cross section from a small gap to a nearly cylindrical form. There would be access to both sides of the overlap and the edge could have attachments for other hardware. There's a lot of industrial experience with this sort of work.

The whole tube structure could be put together at their plant, spooled, and shipped in a standard container It could be deployed straight out of the container, with the container in a custom-welded cradle and the deployment done using in-container Goodyear designed rollers and machinery.

The diameter could be anything from a foot or so to yards -- the material can be spliced, and there's no added hoop stress at a larger diameter, because there's no pressure differential between the inside and outside.

Here's some product information:

Plyon Plus ® (pdf) ,"Goodyear Engineered Products’premium all-purpose fabric conveyor belt construction can be used in a variety of industries and applications with most of Goodyear EP’s exclusive rubber cover compounds. This product has proven itself successful since its inception in 1995."

The rubber compounds available for this belt include HT Nitrile which Goodyear describes as: "An oil-resistant compound formulated for applications demanding higher resistance to heat, oil and abrasion."
HT Nitrile is used to line petroleum suction hose.

What I invite someone to calculate:

What should the fully expanded diameter be, to accommodate the expansion of gas during the ascent? This needs a calculation based on an upper-bound estimate of volumetric gas flow and a lower-bound estimate of the corresponding gas flow velocity.

How much weight must be added to counter the drag force from the upward flowing fluids? Approximating fluid flow as having a constant velocity (no acceleration forces) at which hydrodynamic drag equals buoyancy, the upward force on each part of the expandable tube will be very nearly equal to the buoyancy forces on the fluids in that part. Can this be attached near the lower end, or should it be distributed?

If there's a tensile strength problem, attachments to a parallel steel cable would be one solution. The fasteners could be locked to join the cable to the tube before anything goes into the water. The belts are somewhat elastic (polymer fiber cores) so the higher-modulus cable would end up taking the load, as it should.

What I invite someone to do:

If you know some people at Goodyear, point them to this and encourage them to put together a straw-man proposal.

Probably not enough storage capacity for safe operations for long periods of time.

Plus they actually need an ability to reduce flow without throttling back the BOP - i.e., either the current aft "seal", which is really a hole, with the amount of cap pressure roughly controlled by the small riser oil flow rate and relief valves, or, an actual splitter with a large remote control valve (my preferred approach), with a sealed connection to the BOP.

In other words they need the leak (controlled or semi-controlled) - otherwise of the flow rate increases beyond they ability to process they blow up the topside or pressurize the BOP and blow up the well.

On the other hand, in an emergency, they can literally pull up the cap and go.

If they have an actual sealed connection to the BOP they would need to hydraulically decouple it, which may take longer.

Presumably they can put together the capacity handle the full flow, someday. Could always dump the excess into the sea, of course, and highlight a failure to provide the equipment needed to deal with the problem.

Zero added back-pressure on the BOP is an inherent property of this method. If it were used by itself, the flow would be the same as it was through the cut riser.

The difference is that it would rise though a flexible sleeve, rather than dispersing.

With no pressure differential across the seal, requirements on the strength and quality of the seal are greatly reduced. The coupling and seal could be provided by a flexible skirt of the tube material (or by a thinner, more flexible grade). This would be cinched tight around a cylindrical steel surface on the BOP (and in some configurations, another around the riser).

How many well spuds have gone shooting off into the deep blue sea?


Your writeup has a lot packed into it. Especially this:

"One solution is to use a system that inherently has a near-zero pressure differential at all depths: A collapsible/expandable tube made of a rugged industrial material. The cross section would expand as necessary, and no more."

By 'tube' do you mean cylinder? The pliant material is shaped how? Tell me how with a scissors and paper I might fab this shape.

Collapsible/expandable in what manner or axis?

"near-zero pressure differential at all depths" - differential pressure with respect to the dimensions/volume of the object or the 'depth' of the sea?

I would like to understand your concept.

Where does the cross secction expand to? Is the idea to drill a 100" hole to TD? Whose tools?


Here's a diagram showing cross sections with different volumes:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The pressure differential I'm referring to is the one between the inside and outside of the tube, and with flexible walls, it must be effectively zero unless the flow hits the maximum-volume limit.

Since both the oil and gas phases are buoyant, the water-pressure gradient will force both of them to the top (regardless of the messy details of the two-phase flow).

A system along the general lines I've outlined could be stored in one piece (I mentioned a spool and machinery in a standard shipping container). At a blowout site, it could be deployed, cut to length, and the bottom skirt attached on top of almost any compact configuration of busted mechanisms. Should enable nearly complete capture much faster than what we've seen here.

Note, by the way, that the tube deploys with nothing in it: no seawater, air, or oil, because it has no interior volume when deployed. This should simplify matters considerably. No reason for much contact between water and methane at any point.

Note, by the way, that the tube deploys with nothing in it: no seawater, air, or oil, because it has no interior volume when deployed. This should simplify matters considerably. No reason for much contact between water and methane at any point.

In that case, you'll be faced with the challenge of opening a collapsed tube with 2000psi outside and atmospheric pressure inside. Quite a challenge, I'd guess, maybe impossible. You might have to fill the thing with seawater after all, fit her over the top, and blow out a mile high column of seawater before you connect it up to collect oil.

I'm sorry if this has already been posted, but I did a few searches and couldn't find anything on this. Does anyone know when the second ship is supposed to arrive and boost processing capacity to 20,000bpd? I've read several articles, but none give a planned timeline as to when the second ship will arrive on site.

Toolpush said:
As for the casing being shot out of the hole, we have seen the cut riser with the drill pipe inside the 9 7/8 casing inside the riser. So yes, the casing has been shot out of the hole. That is why nothing has worked on the BOP!

I haven't seen this DP inside Casing inside Riser pic...a link or the pic itself would be much appreciated.

At one point during Kent Wells' technical briefing -held earlier today - he was asked about what appeared to be two drill pipes inside the riser when it was sheared off the top of the BOP. He acknowledged that it did look as if there were two pieces and that he will be interested to see what is found when that section of riser is brought to the surface (implying that it has not yet been retrieved).

Images of the cross-section were posted on TOD the day of the shearing - sorry, don't have a link.

A link to the audio of Wells' briefing is at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6572#comment-644106 .

The second ship, the Q4000, is already on-site. It was previously used during the failed top kill exercise and is currently being prepared to receive 5,000 bbd using the same riser and manifold used during the top kill, with the direction of flow obviously reversed.

Kent Wells stated during his technical briefing held earlier today that the Q4000 should be collecting oil by mid-month. He went on to talk about what he referred to as the "long term containment" approach, which will involve additional vessels and is expected to be in place by the end of the month. This is the setup that should allow for a quick disconnect and reconnect should a hurricane move through.

The audio of his briefing is available at Technical briefing Kent Wells audio: Monday, June 7th, 2010 and a copy of the accompanying slides can be downloaded at Technical briefing Kent Wells: Monday June 7th, 2010 (pdf, 490KB) .

In regard to the deep water oil plumes, it looks like we'll be getting more info tomorrow from the U of South Florida:

"The University of South Florida recently discovered a second oil plume in the northeastern Gulf. The first plume was found by Mississippi universities in early May.

USF has concluded microscopic oil droplets are forming deep water oil plumes. After a weeklong analysis of water samples, USF scientists found more oil in deeper water.

"These hydrocarbons are from depth and not associated with sinking degraded oil but associated with the source of the Deep Horizon well head," said USF Chemical Oceanographer David Hollander."


Similar info at this site:


It will be interesting to see what locations they give for these plumes.

Also, today Dr. Samantha Joye, Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia is having a news conference regarding their investigation of the oil plumes. They just returned from a 2 week trip where they took measurements and samples of 3 differnt oil plumes. The size and location were discussed by Dr. Joye last night on the Rachel Maddox Show.


Thanks for the link ...

This is the part that worries me the most. Most of the oil gets dispersed and stays deep under the surface. As Dr. Samantha Joye mentions the microbial activity breaking down the oil also consumes oxygen and eventually creates dead zones. Big areas at the bottom of GOM already suffer from anoxia (lack of oxygen due to eutrophication). The dispersed oil will do the same in the water column.
Another problem with the dispersed oil that does not come to the surface is that it stays in cold water. And breaking down oil takes much more time in these cold waters than it would take on the surface.
Third issue is that we don’t get good footage of underwater plumes so the problem will not get the attention it deserves.
GOM will recover, but using dispersants may slow down the process.

How many gallons of oil are spewing from the Ocean Saratoga? It's on a well owned by Ankor Energy, another overseas company. What type of blowout is this? This was recently posted


any info would be good

IF only Henry Ford and others (Daimler, etc.) had not invented the car....or HAD invented it then rejected the idea of producing it ("nah! one billion of these and the planet is going to go up in smoke").....I think Ford did sort of regret his invention.

People really need to exercise more caution about everything. They are in a huge rush to make "progress". But the results are just awful......."we never thought!" "we never imagined!" S-T-U-P-I-D. We have a precious place, the only one in the universe as far as we know, where we can breathe and get food and water. Our intentions are good but the results leave much to be desired.

Concerning the "underwater plumes". Assuming that the well temp is 180 deg as I've read, and the underwater temp at the wellhead is ~ -2C as I've also read, we're talking VERY cold water (below freezing) which isn't frozen strictly due to the extreme pressure (~2300 psi). The hot oil clearly won't freeze, but then as anyone who has played with a CO2 container knows, if you let it out all at once it becomes EXTREMELY cold. You can prove it frankly with just about any aerosol container and constant release. Now this well has had constant release for 49 days and counting correct? We also know that hydrates formed instantly under the original containment dome and 1st top hat. Let us remember what hydrates are (really they're clathrate hydrates), and essentially look like massive ice cubes as their crystals grow over time.

Will oil lower its viscosity at colder temps? Of course, that's why you buy 10W-40 oil, with two viscosities, one for hot weather and one for cold. Does highly viscous oil clump, congeal and otherwise change the normal state we're familiar with? Yes, again just consider cold bacon grease versus what it looks like while the bacon is sizzling in the pan. Finally, will the congealed mess still float? We know that hydrates don't float even though ice cubes do, even though the constituent elements are all quite light, such as CH4 and H20. Oil should still float, but if hydrates are bound up with it, who knows? A bit on hydrates:


I'm not sure one way or another whether Simmons is all wet. Like others here, I am trying to follow the evidence and keep an open mind. There IS a LOT of oil in the gulf right now, at the least BP seems to have found a new elephant. Too bad it was a black elephant this time.

I cannot answer your questions. However I would point out that, as far as I know, water is somewhat of a miracle product in that it expands when frozen. Everything else continues to shrink when cooled. The miracle of water is that if it did not expand the ocean floors would be all ice. It expands, floats to the surface, and melts.

The gas hydrates are somewhat of a mystery also. The methane stored in the hydrates will become a tremendous resource when a method is developed to capture them. The Peak Oil nonsense does not consider gas production from this potential resource. Note that it is not a resource unless useable - that is the definition, IIRC.

Everything else continues to shrink when cooled.

Silicon expands when freezing,
thus the direction solidification for multicrystalline ingots for PV
are frozen from the bottom so the crucible doesn't break.

Some other substances that expand upon freezing:
Gallium, germanium, bismuth, and antimony

Well at least Augustus acknowledges Peak Oil, as putting his faith behind gas hydrates implies that he has some deep-seated worries. After all, it is called Peak Oil not Peak Gas Hydrates.

"The Peak Oil nonsense"

Last time I looked car engines tended to get a big clogged when you tried to run them on magma rock. However if you are correct and, clearly, the earth is just one big oil flavoured nougat centre surrounded by a crispy coating of delicious clathrates then we are all saved. Hooray.

If you had used your 1 week and 3 days here more constructively to weigh up the pros and cons of the peak oil 'argument' then you might have stumbled upon the following salient points.

1. Oil discovery peaked decades ago and for every barrel we find we burn 4.
2. Oil production has been virtually flat for 6-7 years despite a x00% increase in price.
3. we have not the technology or infrastructure (or ironically the energy) to re-tool the entire transport and energy network for alternative hydrocarbon.

You are posting here, now becasue the Gulf is spewing a big load of oil from a particularly difficult place to produce from. And what are we doing producing oil from such a difficult place? Simple...all the easy stuff is gone.

So from here on in expect more expensive oil and less of it. AKA "peak oil" or more correctly "peak oil production" - the maximum SUSTAINED rate of oil production.


BP will bring in a floating production, storage and offloading vessel to handle flow from oil containment system on the Macondo well in the US Gulf, a spokesman said today.


Maybe it's just me, but it looks like the oil billowing out from under the cap is fluctuating, at times looking a bit better, and the cap seems to be shifting. Maybe they've closed another valve, and are processing more oil? Has the 2nd ship arrived to increase production to 20,000 bpd?

You can expect that the oil / gas ratio is changing as it comes up the hole and as the pressures change as it gets closer to the mud line. The flow will have some "slugging" as the gas seperates at different pressures. A few minutes / hours of higher oil content then more gas as the downhole pressure regiem changes.

Thank you for the insight. The Skandi ROV 1 camera is starting to show what I think are momentary glimpses of the cap through all the billowing oil, which hopefully means it's thinning. Whether that's due to more oil being drawn up the pipe, more gas in the oil/gas mixture coming out of the well, or a combination of the two, I don't really care. . . I just want to see less oil flowing into the gulf, and the less I see the better.

With tools we have here at our remote locations, this is the only test I can come up with that makes sense to me. Get a time-lapse sequence of the leak emerging on the surface. Locate the DH, and draw a radius around it - say 150 feet. Draw three rings - 5, 6, and 7 miles away - and watch the oil spill develop sequentially. Show the world the previously unknown point in the sequence when anything, in proximity of the 5,6, and 7 mile circles, appears that is incongruent with the DH being the only source for oil slick you are seeing on the surface. Then show how that incongruence maintains its own integrity for the remaining days. Or, show the point at which it is incongruent for the DH to be the only source for the oil slick, and how the integrity of that incongruence holds up for the remaining days.

I say it can't be done. The DH is the only source that maintains source integrity for all days. Is it possible that a leak from a 21" pipe could create an oil slick of this size? Well, I think it just did.

Seems the senators claims are now confirmed -- LEAKED WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENT EXPOSES CAUSE OF BP GULF OIL SPILL


Seems the senators claims are now confirmed

That assertion seems to be a bit over the top ....

from the link

A leaked document from the White House Commission’s investigation into the Gulf oil spill says that Gulf oil spill was caused initially by blown well 9 7/8 x7″casing. The internal document also reveals some other data not known to the public such as the oil reservoir pressure is at a shocking 12,000 PSI.

I will read it and summarize the facts here in a little while, but for now come and get it and save it while you can!

I've had that 'leaked' document sitting on my desktop (BP Presentation.pdf) for two weeks.

But I -would- like to see this pic of the cut-off Riser showing the DP inside the Casing.
Many thanks in advance to anyone who has a link.

Found it ... posted by techdude on June 3rd at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6554#comment-638783 shortly after the shear cut through. Note that it doesn't appear to be one pipe inside another, rather two pieces side by side. There was speculation at the time that the pipe might have bent back on itself.

Thanks rainyday
That's the same pic I've seen and I just can't get my head to tell me that is DP inside Casing inside Riser like was stated by Toolpush. I know that scenario has been suspected, but I don't know of any pic so far which is why I'd -really- like to see one.

The squashed riser should measure about ~30" across, 'pipe' on left ~7.5" D. The idea was that we are seeing a 6" drill pipe inside a piece of casing that has collapsed and pinched in the center trapping the DP in the left lobe... kinda looks like two pipes though, one filled with mud or something. Too bad the picture isn't higher resolution. I don't quite see how the DP could get 'folded up' within the riser - seems a hard trick to accomplish.

Thanks IP

That was the snap shot I was looking for. The section on the left is still round, where as the section on the right is flattened, therefore there must be more structural integrity on the left side. It looks like there is another pipe in this side.

There was another poster on theoildrum that stated that a larger dia pipe when squeezed form a fig 8 rather than squeezing flat. This looks an example. This came up in discussion on a thread about squeezing the drill pipe to act as a seal. To many threads to know where to look, sorry.

In reference to the Senators claims this document does not verify that the rig is leaking from the well casing?

By the Senator's assertions, I was referring to this write up


How did you have it two weeks ago?

Two weeks ago it puts it at the date this document was drawn up and at that time it was marked confidential.

Was this already released to the public?

It was released by the committee on energy and commerce, as part of the briefing by BP on May 25th.

The committee voted unanimously to put the presentation to the public record.

Thanks for the clarifcation. That's what I get for quoting information from Above Top Secret.

I kinda agree Simmons' statements are too off the wall for a rational response, still I like the debunking going on in this thread.

So Matt, if there is a "hundred mile lake of oil on the bottom 400 to 500 feet deep" (and that's black oil that can be sucked up by super tankers), and it's coming out of an "open hole" 6 miles away --then why the heck can't we see it, if it's only 6 miles away, the BOP ought to be smack in the middle of the lake. Or rather, what kind of super night vision cameras are on those ROVs that can see right through "black crude"?

And also, "the only way we will shut it off" is by putting a "nuclear device downhole to encase it by turning rock into glass"? This has already been addressed at least once on TOD: nukes don't create enough glass to encase anything for long, maybe a few inches thick, might last for a few days. Nice short review of US underground tests on Wikipedia covers this: (see Effects)

One more thing, Matt, if the BOP got blown out of the "real" hole, how come the Deepwater Horizon didn't drift another twenty or thirty miles away?

I don't know if the guy is losing it or not, but he is sure not paying attention.

Here's a little gas disaster that has evidently been burning steadily for almost 40 years in Turkmenistan:

Knocking on the Door to Hell

Now surely -that- can be Nuked.[BG]

I have tried to follow the discussions here, and it sounds to me like the consensus is that the leak cannot be coming from the current well...the distance Simmons proposes sounds too great. And the prior well is close enough to the current problem well that it does not seem a likely source either.

I would like to suggest another source. I believe that Rockman indicated the geology in this area is fractured.

While the reservoir has probably been stable for thousands of years, a large enough outside force acting on it could realign some of the faults to create a path to the sea bed.

The area did experience a large outside force. The Deepwater Horizon weighed about 32000 tons. (I don't think that displacement is the right measure to use here because the vessel was sinking.) I don't recall reading any estimates of the velocity at impact. I'll make one. The USS Slater web site states that WW II depth charges sank at a rate up to 21 feet per second.

I will assume that the hydrodynamic drag of the rig superstructure balanced out the efforts of our friend Mr. Gravity to speed the descent, and that the DH struck the sea bed at 21 fps with a mass of 32,000 tons (64,000,000 pounds).

Is this enough to displace a fractured overburden to open a path for oil and gas to escape? The sediment on the sea bed would of course absorb much of the impact, but I imagine there would still be a nontrivial shock wave.

My completely otherwise unfounded conclusion is that the activity around the two wells (abandoned and leaking) was probably not enough to force a new leak some miles away, but the impact of the drill rig very well may have created the circumstances in which a new leak could arise elsewhere.

I look forward to hearing what the experts think. I'm not sure this one belongs in the book, though.

Best regards,

If the leak is known, and if, the leak is that large, how could the location of this leak remain a mystery?
Granted, the area of the purported leak would be a mile deep, but if the location of the leak is known, what reason could there possibly be to keep it a secret?
If there is any real evidence of a leak, why is it not forthcoming?

I wish the news media would remind us daily what went wrong. As gleaned and combined from many people's comments on the Oil Drum:

Operations Deficiencies:
1. Mud volume coming out must be very carefully monitored by on-shore and off-shore teams during all phases including final.
2. Management must never be able to over-ride safety, strict government monitoring needed.
3. violation of safe procedure by filling with seawater rather than balancing mud. Criminal act.

Casing / Cementing Deficiencies:
1. Low grade casing used for high pressure, BP's engineers overruled in design phase by management.
2. Six casing spacers were used instead of the prescribed 21 spacers to center the csg in the bore for better cementing.
3. "o-ring" like seal never used for final 7" string locking with prior casing stage.
4. Insufficient cement (51 bbl in plan) not enough to completely cement last string to prior casing stage.
5. Nitrogen in Haliburton cement believed to be no good.
6. Cable Bond Log was never conducted. Should be a crime by itself.

Rig Design Safety Deficiencies:
1. Need safety chutes to get personnel down to the water and life boats in less than 10sec
2. Doors shouldn't explode off and crush people.
3. hot surfaces (engine exhaust manifolds) need to be water cooled to prevent gaseous ignition.
4. engine governors failed when natural gas got into the intakes. Must have auto intake close-offs.
5. improved pontoon protection to avoid sinkings via penetrations by fire or falling objects.
6. need emergency water spray at the deck to quench any explosive atmosphere there.
7. Riser must not fail to detach cleanly and easily automatically or manually by robot later on, if need be.

BOP Engineering Deficiencies:
1. Kill and Choke lines not big enough to beat a blow out with a pill
2. BOP not protected structurally from riser collapse
3. the shear in the BOP is not strong enough and not reliable enough to cut a drill string joint
4. BOP test and rebuild procedures got to be way sloppy. Leaky fittings and test jaws were left in.
5. the BOP is not easily replaceable. Provide tracks below and above, so a second BOP could slide in, with easy flanges.
6. provisions for drill string section to be sheared out and dropped to allow clear space for valve shut downs.
7. annular rubber was chewed apart, yet management said “So what!” Really a criminal act.
8. no velocity detectors in BOP for auto-kill function when ever oil or gas moves through it too fast.
9. emergency crimps, like the big claw shear, but to crush the riser flat , hold press to stop the flow.
10. the BOP must be designed so that a proper junk shot really does a “stop leak”.
11. the junk shot needs some scientific development until it relly works, else quit it all together.
12. BOP must have better external access to forced completion of the shears. Allow direct mechanical squeeze.

Question for any drillers out there, regarding practice:

How different is the above to your understanding of common practice in the GOM? I work for a US major (can't say who, we're forbidden) and speaking to our drillers they don't see issues with some of these actions, depending on "context" (for instance, this isn't the only example of displacing to seawater, & not running a CBL happens regularly, as it's hardly a precise reading). In fact, we do some of the same things and some are saying it could just have easily been us. Hard for me to qualify though, being a geo. I'd like to think this isn't true, but... Just curious as to any more expert engineers out there.

Rockman will shortly tell you that they weren't watching the mud returns - their main offense. There is some agreement with what you have been told.

Well, there's a little more to it than that.
"They" were told to pump the mud off the rig to to a workboat, making accurate reading of the mud returns just about impossible. Moot point anyway...with the mud going off the rig, it was not able to be used for well control.

Show this to your 'drillers' and if they don't agree, find another job.
Copied from 'elsewhere':
The following is my theory on what happened on April 20th. I have listed factual information to the best of my knowledge, and base this theory on 33 years of experience working on these rigs, with 16 years working as a consultant worldwide. The contractor (Transocean in this case) typically does not do anything without direction and approval from the operator (BP in this case). I believe that there was nothing wrong with the BOP, or the conduct of the crews prior to the catastrophic failure. If any operator drills a similar well using the same flawed casing and cement program, the same results will be very possible.
The well was drilled to 18,360 ft and final mud weight was 14.0 ppg. The last casing long string was 16 inch and there were 3 drilling liners (13 5/8”, 11 7/8” and 9 7/8”) with 3 liner tops. A 9-7/8” X 7” tapered casing long string was run to TD. The bottom section of casing was cemented with only 51 barrels of light weight cement containing nitrogen, a tricky procedure, especially in these conditions.
The casing seal assembly was set in wellhead and pressure tested from above to 10,000 psi. Reportedly, a lock down ring was not run on the casing hanger. The casing string was pressure tested against the Shear rams, only 16.5 hours after primary cement job. A negative test on the wellhead packoff was performed.
The rig crew was likely lead to believe that the well was successfully cemented, capped and secured. Normally a responsible operator will not remove the primary source of well control (14.0 ppg drilling mud) until such conditions were met. However, the crews were given the order to displace heavy mud from riser with seawater, prior to setting the final cement plugs. They were pumping seawater down the drill string and sending returns overboard to workboat, so there was limited ability to directly detect influx via pit level. This is the fastest way to perform the displacement operation, and the method was likely directed and certainly approved by operator. There was a sudden casing failure during this displacement procedure that allowed the well to unload, with ignition of gas and oil. Evidently, the crew was able to get the diverter closed based on initial photographs, showing flames coming out of diverter lines.
It is likely that pressure built up between the 9 7/8” and 16" casing under the casing hanger, due to gas migration from the pay zone. Based on reported mud weight, the reservoir formation pressure is in excess of 13,000 psi. The pressure building in the cross sectional area below the casing hanger would have increased casing tension and caused casing to collapse and part (rapidly separate) at a connection, probably a joint or two (50’ or 90’) below wellhead. The collapse pressure for 62.8 ppf 9-7/8” casing is +/- 10,300 psi. However, the collapse resistance of casing is considerably reduced in presence of axial stress (i.e. tension). Engineers - see formula from API bulletin 5C3, section 2.1.5 and run the math. The well then came in violently through parted casing and caused the blowout. Without lockdown ring on hanger, the casing hanger and joint(s) were slingshot up into BOP. That would explain why all components of the BOP are unable to seal or shear. The parted casing section remains across all BOP ram cavities and probably all the way up into the riser.

Shortcut #1: Running a tapered long string rather than a liner with 9-7/8” liner top packer, followed by tieback string and pumping heavy cement all the way to seabed. Perhaps the original permits for this casing program were based on a planned appraisal well, and changed midstream to a producer well, then hastily approved by the complacent or under-staffed MMS. This tragic shortcut may have saved about 1.5 rig days.

Shortcut #2: Insufficient time was used to cure the mud losses prior to cementing the open hole reservoir section, depending instead on using lightweight cement to prevent losses to the formation.

Shortcut #3: The nitrified primary cement job. This is difficult to pull off, even under ideal conditions.

Shortcut #4: Hanger without lock ring may have used due to the previously unplanned long string, and to avoid waiting for hanger with lock ring to be fabricated or prepared.

Shortcut #5: No cement evaluation logs were performed after a job with known high calculated risk (mud losses to formation). This shortcut may have saved 8 hours of rig time.

Shortcut #6: Pressure testing casing less than 24 hours after cement in place can expand the casing before the cement is fully set. This shortcut can “crack” the cement and create a micro annulus which will allow gas migration.

Shortcut #7: Displacing 14 ppg mud from 8000 ft MDRT with 8.7 ppg seawater, less than 20 hours after primary cement is in place. How many tested and proven barriers can you count? I count zero satisfactory barriers. Industry standards dictate that at least two tested (to maximum anticipated pressure) barriers are in place prior to removing the primary source of well control (weighted mud or brine).

Excellent summary Tv especially for the recent newbies.

3. the shear in the BOP is not strong enough and not reliable enough to cut a drill string joint

I don't think standard drill pipe is a problem. I know at the time shear rams were developed, hardened drill pipe was not anticipated because everything had to meet NACE specs for hydrogen sulfide exposure. Maybe its time for shear ram BOPs to be a unique design instead of just a pair of shear rams in a standard BOP.

4. BOP test and rebuild procedures got to be way sloppy. Leaky fittings and test jaws were left in.

I think the test rams were left in intentionally to save the time of setting a test plug to test the stack.

7. annular rubber was chewed apart, yet management said “So what!” Really a criminal act.

The report I saw indicated that there were a couple of handfuls of chewed up rubber in the returns. This is irrelevant to the functioning of an annular BOP. Annular BOP packers have a huge volume of expendable rubber as they are designed to accommodate the wear of stripping drill pipe under pressure. If there were several cubic feet of shredded rubber I would be concerned.

Regarding the reply that mentioned a nuclear earth penetrating weapon: I believe that was referred to as RNEP or RNDEP--both programs killed while in development by congress some years ago.
Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator
Robust Nuclear Deep Earth Penetrator.

AFAIK, we do not have such a weapon in inventory, at least as far as has been publicly released info wise.

BP catching 15,000 barrels/day and oil volcano still going strong (http://bit.ly/SkROV1). What does that mean for flow estimates?

Okay first, let me say that I'm not a petroleum engineer. I'm not actually an engineer in fact. I work in field however that requires knowledge of mechanics, fluids, and caps. Okay, I'm a dentist.

However I've been putting my analytical skills to use as I've read this Web site for, oh it must be several days now, which roughly coincides with how long I've had any interest whatsoever in the issues of oil drilling, not to mention the specific issues involved in doing it at depth, and I have developed a plan that I am convinced will resolve this entire oil spill, both now and retroactively back to when it started.

It seems fairly evident to me that oil is escaping from a hole in the ground (please correct me if I'm not using the correct scientific terms, I know there are experts who post here) under the ocean. It's apparently A WHOLE LOT OF OIL which is clearly more than was escaping about a week ago before they "capped" this leak. I determine this through a process I call "looking at the black stuff boiling out of something in a video" and comparing this to what I think I saw earlier. In other words, I'm using scientific analysis.

Now, some may claim that terms like "a whole lot" are less than scientific, not to mention even quantifiable, and this may be true. However we could sit here and argue all day about quantifiable observation, and scientific method, and you know, "experience" in a given field, but would that stop the oil? No, no it wouldn't.

I therefore have drafted a plan to cap this leak once and for all, using the simple principles involved in plumbing. This is not so much from my experience in dentistry as in having fixed several leaks in the plumbing in my bathroom, and I can tell you, it's tricky, you really need to get those pipes connected right! Okay, my experience in almost fixing several leaks. The plumber I finally had to call told me that I had left out something called a "washer" and once he installed one of these, it all stopped leaking.

It's clear to me that whoever is responsible for this leak has forgotten one of those too (hey, it can happen to all of us!) so I have proposed a solution. See my attached drawings for more details, but basically it's all done with parts easily obtained at Home Depot and any good dental supply house. I realize that the cap in my design looks uncannily like a giant crown of a tooth, but that's just force of habit, engineers should feel free to modify the design to look less dentist-y.

I hope that helps!

I'm just a Dutch and try to get as much info on the oil spill.
in the interview is claimed that the oilspill must be bigger,
than BP and the media claims.

I've read comments and calculations about the velocity and bpd off the spill. quite technical.

Now there is a updated satillite picture of the whole area.


My question is: does this picture fits in the discussion whether the oilspill is as BP tells us, can this pictures be related to other oilspills at sea?

I hope someone can enlighten me.

My Regards

Marcus Brugman

I belive Simmons could be right.

We know that BP several times ran in to trouble drilling the well, broken pipe, had til backtrack and restart, experienced gaspockets etc.
All this indicating that the ground has some "weak" geology somwhere.

We now know that the well casing is compromised, and we know that estimates of the spill has continued to grow week by week.

Summing these things up - combined with the satelitephotos, and the very wide arear the spill covers, it becomes apperant, that teres a lot more oil out there than we are beeing told. A whole lot more.

More and more evidence are surfacing about the existince of big underwater oilplumes. This is evedice of even more oil beeing out there.

So whats Simmons is reasoning is - did all of this oil come from a single 20 inch pipe? It that possible? Or has there to be another source gushing oil in to the GOM?

In my opinion we are beeing witheld information here. The spred of the spill is enormous, many many 100 of square miles, if not 1000 of square miles. All this from a single pipe?

Either this pipe is leaking far more - in excess og a 100,000 barrels a day, or there has to be an other leak.

As we know the well casing/pipe must be broken, and they had to sidetrack in mach, I belive that the oil and gas could have found its way out throgh the broken sidecasing in the the weeker parts of the geology, and have broken trough to the surface/seabed.

The stopping of the topkill, and loosing wast amounts of drill mud both under the topkill and in mach suggest, thats tres some geology down here which is very "loose". If casing is broken in such an arear, oil and gas under hight presseure would migrate into that, and could find it's way to the sea floor.

The amount of oil now loose in the golf, seen on surface, on shore, and suggested to be present in underwater oilplumes, is proof in itselves that there has to be more the only one pipe gushing oil into the GOM.

Matts pressure 40,000 psi is not out of the question. I don't think the BOP could have handled that kind of pressure from my research It looks like there design load is around 12,000 psi

from http://www.epmag.com/archives/features/2573.htm

"ChevronTexaco's deepwater Tonga Exploratory Prospect in Green Canyon Block 727. The Tonga #1 well reached a total vertical depth of 31,824 ft (9,700 m) exceeding the previous depth record by 700 ft (213 m), with a maximum downhole pressure of 26,138 psi (180 MPa)."

His other point the The Deep Sea Horizan sank in only 2 days seems like a math problem to figure out how much energy would have been required to melt the steel and sink her. Another way is find similar offshore fire's and compare. For example the West Atlas rig fire around 3,500 bpd did not sink the rig despite burning for weeks also from the video it was a much smaller fire my guess 1/10th the size or smaller (hard to tell).

So is Matt going crazy??? maybe but I wouldent write him off yet...

40,000 psi is way out of the question. The rock is not strong enough to hold anything close to that at 18,000', even without BP drilling holes in it. Leakoff Test not that far above the reservoir indicates a maximum pressure of about 15,000 psi.

In order to understand Matthew Simmons' claims before commenting on them, I transcribed the first five minutes of his interview with Dylan Ratigan from the video mentioned in this thread. I am posting the transcript here so that readers of The Oil Drum and search engines can fully see, in plain text, the words of someone MSNBC considers "one of the foremost experts on oil":

Partial transcript of Matthew Simmons' remarks to Dylan Ratigan on June 7, 2010; emphasis mine

Well it actually, you know, I now look back on the 47 days, and think that remarkably, while I was probably one of the first people to figure out the magnitude of this, I grossly underestimated the size of this disaster. What caught my eye in the first three or four hours watching this on television, when I saw this magnificent modern rig melt down, was that this had to be the biggest blowout in the history of the world, because literally, that rig is the size of an aircraft carrier and it took two days to melt it down. And at the meantime BP was saying it was a rig fire with diesel on board the rig. That's just a bunch of baloney. Uh, I didn't say baloney, I said a word I wouldn't say on your program.

And what was clear to me was there must be an unbelievable flow. And, I sort of you know grew up in the era of blowouts, I mean, you know, I started my career raising money for diving companies, service companies, 45 days after the Santa Barbara oil spills, so oil spills sort of been an area I've paid a lot of attention to. And the only way we've ever prevented big oil spills is either basically hoping that the well bore collapses, or that it depletes, or we explode it.

And so I started talking to some of my friends and we all came to the same conclusion. It was very obvious when this blew out it had to be reservoir pressures of 40-50 thousand pounds per square inch, otherwise the fire wouldn't have been so intense. And what would've come out first is the blowout preventer would have popped out of the well bore like a cork. And then what would come out second is the casing. That's what used to kill people on land based blowouts, the casing would come right out to the [inaudible] and fall on people. So we have an open hole and that's spewing, I would guess, somewhere between 100 and 150 thousand barrels a day of oil. Which is why you now have over a 100 mile oil lake at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that's barely 4500 feet deep.

Now one the most important things going on this week is the Thomas Jefferson, the United States' biggest research vessel, is now on location. It was actually in the general arena area doing ocean bottom profiling and NOAA four days ago put it off and sent it over. They're going to basically find out where these plumes are and why there's this oil lake. And I would think by the end of the week we will discover that we have an open hole with no casing in it which [inaudible] about seven miles away from where BP had been trying to fix these little tiny leaks in the drilling riser. I bet we'll find the drilling riser is still connected to the rig bore, and so they've done everything wrong.

[Dylan Ratigan asks for clarification]

Well, they basically are trying to patch up a little leak in the drilling riser. You remember that what we're seeing on television, the drilling riser is 22 and a half inches in circumference. Most of it is elastomers to make it buoyant. In the middle is a seven-inch column where the annulus, where the drill bit goes down. So coming out of that is a little plume of gas. It's not oil. And it's only about four feet high. That could not by any way have actually covered 40% of the Gulf of Mexico.

So what we're going to find when the Thomas Jefferson finishes its work is we have an open hole with no casing in it, and the only way we'll shut it off is either let [inaudible] thirty years, which would maybe not only just poison the gulf of mexico, maybe the Atlantic Ocean. Or we could put a nuclear device downhole, like the Russians did in the 70s, and actually encase it by turning the rock into glass.

So, combined with the imagery provided by the remotely operated vehicles, here is what Simmons appears to be implying:

  • The blowout preventer, with the riser (which is "22.5 inches in circumference") still attached, was launched off the wellhead by the great pressure of the oil reservoir.
  • The blowout preventer, with the riser still attached, spiraled through the ocean to land seven miles away.
  • The blowout preventer, with the riser still attached, somehow landed and anchored itself to the soft ocean floor in a vertical, upright position.
  • The landing spot just happened to be the site of another deep hole in the ocean floor, which was venting gas (but not oil).
  • The blowout preventer landed so perfectly that it formed a seal over this hole, causing the gas to stream into the blowout preventer and out the "tiny" leaks in the riser.
  • All the parties involved, including the people drilling the well and operating the rig, (in fact everyone except for Matthew Simmons) are unaware that the real wellhead is seven miles away spewing 100-150 thousand barrels of oil per day, and has spent nearly 50 days trying fix this small leak of gas (but not oil).
  • Now that the LMRP cap is in place, some of the captured gas magically transmutes into oil on its way up the pipe towards the Discoverer Enterprise, fooling BP into believing that it is capturing oil.

A week ago, when I first heard an interview with Simmons, I was certain I had some misunderstanding of terminology, or that he had just misspoken, or his words were being shown out of context. However, he has said essentially the same thing multiple times on national television. Each time, his interviewers, who are professional journalists with an audience in the tens of millions, accepted what he was saying without question.

"Each time, his interviewers, who are professional journalists with an audience in the tens of millions, accepted what he was saying without question."

The blind leading the blind is the first thing that comes to my mind. He really doesn't know anything about deep water drilling for oil.

"It was very obvious when this blew out it had to be reservoir pressures of 40-50 thousand pounds per square inch, otherwise the fire wouldn't have been so intense. And what would've come out first is the blowout preventer would have popped out of the well bore like a cork. And then what would come out second is the casing. That's what used to kill people on land based blowouts, the casing would come right out to the [inaudible] and fall on people. So we have an open hole and that's spewing, I would guess, somewhere between 100 and 150 thousand barrels a day of oil. Which is why you now have over a 100 mile oil lake at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that's barely 4500 feet deep"

Okay, now let's play like Tim Curry in the ending to the movie "Clue", where you have multiple possible interpretations to the given "facts":

>>> ""It was very obvious when this blew out it had to be reservoir pressures of 40-50 thousand pounds per square inch, otherwise the fire wouldn't have been so intense."

True, or not true? Does pressure correllate with fire intensity (certainly amount and type of fuel does)?

Is the pressure of an expanding gas bubble geater than the well pressure?

>>> "And what would've come out first is the blowout preventer would have popped out of the well bore like a cork. And then what would come out second is the casing."

Where does he say that the BOP actually DID come out of the well bore "like a cork"? He says that is "would have" if it was subject to such pressures, and that the casing would have followed it out. He did NOT say that "it DID blow off like a cork". Well, isn't there speculation that the casing has collapsed (and/or been displaced) somewhere in the wellbore? Could those pressures have been diverted in a different direction, perhaps taken a path of lesser resistance thru a geologic fracture, and created an "open hole, spewing....etc." somewhere else, JUST NOT HERE, at the BOP, which DIDN'T blow off?

Either you are making arguement for arguement's sake, don't read very well, are trying to "spin" words and sentences to "make a point", are in denial, or something else?

I see nowhere that Simmons claims, at all, that there is not a BOP in the images being shown. I also see nowhere that Simmons claims that the BOP was blown off the current wellhead and magically landed upright several miles away, blah-blah-blah.

I assume that you don't like the implications of what he is saying, so I suspect that you're weaseling his words in order to build a strawman arguement. Nice try.

Hi TheOilDumb,

Read what Matt said again, there is no doubt he is saying the BOP and casing blew out of the well.

It was very obvious when this blew out it had to be reservoir pressures of 40-50 thousand pounds per square inch, otherwise the fire wouldn't have been so intense. And what would've come out first is the blowout preventer would have popped out of the well bore like a cork. And then what would come out second is the casing. That's what used to kill people on land based blowouts, the casing would come right out to the [inaudible] and fall on people. So we have an open hole and that's spewing, I would guess, somewhere between 100 and 150 thousand barrels a day of oil.

He states it is "very obvious when this blew out it had to be reservoir pressures of 40-50 thousand pounds per square inch". His statement is followed by the logic "And what would have come out first is the blowout preventer...and then what would come out second is the casing". He did not say it "might" have.

But what really proves his intent is his statement "So we have an open hole that's spewing". Sorry, but that can only be possible if the BOP is gone.

He is talking in the past tense when describing the blowout and the present tense when stating his conclusion. He uses the word "would" to describe the fire, past cases of well casing killing people, and the BOP and well casing blowing out. He switches to the present tense when concluding "we have an open hole that is spewing. There is no misunderstanding here. Matt is a sick man who needs help and the media is doing him no favors by allowing him to ruin his reputation publicly.

You break up his sentences to imply he may not have been saying the BOP blew off. That is what the MSM does, they quote out of context. His conclusion of fact "So we have an open hole that is spewing" is only possible if the prior sentences are true. Unheard of reservoir pressures plus a blown off BOP and blown out well casing, equal an open hole spewing oil.

By the way. In the initial interview at very beginning of this disaster, he stated all his beliefs as to what happened were triggered when a white fish swam through the riser leak and came out white on the other side! He thought that proved there could not be very much oil coming out of the riser otherwise the fish would have been black with oil and that meant all the oil had to be coming from somewhere else. (I'm paraphrasing, can't bear to watch that interview again.)

A white fish?!!! That's what set off this lunacy. We can add hallucinations to the list of mania symptoms Matt is displaying.

" And then what would come out second is the casing. That's what used to kill people on land based blowouts, the casing would come right out to the [inaudible] and fall on people"

I know of drill pipe/ drill collers being blown out of the hole when drilling out a plug at a shallow depth (not enough weight) when gas has migrated up to the plug, but have not heard of an instance of casing. It may of happened, but I suspect Matt is confused.

s from Matt Simmons

1. Many other big oil spills have been prevented by BOPs. Collapsed casing, depletion and explosions are not the only way to stop big oil spills.

2. 40K-50K psi formation pressure in a 18,000 foot hole would require 43 to 53 lbs/gal mud for a hydrostatic balance. Bottom Hole Pressure = 0.052 X mud weight X total vertical depth. High School stuff. Once the total depth is reached, the driller would circulate bottoms up to clear cuttings from annulus, stop mud pumps and check flow line. If mud level in riser is dropping, formation is taking mud. If mud is flowing up thru well, BOP, riser, flow line and into mud pit, the formation pressure exceeds hydrostatic pressure from mud, and the well is flowing. The barite or iron weight material would precipitate out of 43 lb/gal mud. I would guess the DH rig was using around 15 lb/gal mud for a hydrostatic bottom pressure of around 14,000 psi. How did MS come up with such heavy mud, and bottom hole pore pressure?

3. How did Mr. Simmons figure the rig fire intensity was the result of a 40K-50K psi pay zone? Was it a WAG or calculated somehow?

4. The lower BOP connection to the wellhead would not pop off like a cork. The casing, casing hangers, cement or formation would fail first.

5. How could 100K-150K B/D oil flow get through the small kinked riser area opening with drill pipe in it, plus other obstructions in the BOP and well? How many wells flow over 100K B/D?

6. The lake of oil on the bottom of the GOM, and the big leak seven miles away don’t make sense. Lake of oil is lighter than seawater. Grade school stuff. What is the evidence of the leak 7 miles away? I realize small pieces of oil make plumes after VOCs leave.

7. The marine riser does not have a 22.5 inch circumference, or a seven inch inner diameter. The riser inner diameter is around 20 inches, so the cross sectional area is around 30 times more than MS figures. C=pi X diameter, Area =pi X radius squared. Junior High school stuff. Would the 6+ inch drill pipe go thru the 7” ID riser, would the tool joints? Would hard facing on joints wear out riser? Tight fit would make annular velocity very high.

8. MS states the leak is gas not oil, but the drillship Enterprise recovered oil and gas from the cap/well.

9. Seems unlikely the well will flow 30 years and poison the Atlantic Ocean.

10. What prove is there, and what are the details of Russians using nuclear devices to stop blowouts? This big explosion could cause the well to flow even more.

11. If Matt Simmons is a foremost expert we are in trouble. Hope he does not get a job with MMS directing tool pushers, company men or drillers.


"including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots."



Apologies if I am restating a point already made on an earlier thread, but it doesn't seem to receiving much airplay.

Matt Simmons has a long and close involvement in the oil industry but he is a FINANCE guy. I have long respected him for his understanding of reserves, supply and demand, promotion of peak oil arguments when it was far from fashionable, etc. But his business is investment banking.

To quote from the preface of his own book Twilight in the Desert - "... as a keenly interested observer and historian of the international energy industry - and an avid participant in the financial side of it - since the early 1970s ...."

If you read his interview carefully, he states clearly that his views have been formed through conversations with friends in the industry. I.e they are second-hand views and he is not in a position to endorse or refute them through his own expertise. So we are back to the James Cameron situation where his views are taken seriously by the media because of his ASSOCIATION with something relevant (in that case, making movies set in deep water).

Luckily TOD does not need to buy into that. We have direct technical expertise through Rockman, shelburn et al to inform our discussions. Perhaps then, rather than trying to address Matt's suppositions in detailed posts, a polite smile and "Thanks Matt for those interesting ideas - but back to the matter at hand..." is the appropriate response?

Luckily TOD does not need to buy into that. We have direct technical expertise through Rockman, shelburn et al to inform our discussions. Perhaps then, rather than trying to address Matt's suppositions in detailed posts, a polite smile and "Thanks Matt for those interesting ideas - but back to the matter at hand..." is the appropriate response?

Just a reminder to click on the user name to see how long someone has been a member.

BBC report today:
"In an interview with NBC, Mr Obama was asked about comments Mr Hayward made in the wake of the disaster, such as "I want my life back" and the Gulf is "a big ocean".

Mr Obama said: "He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements."


"Meanwhile, police are protecting Mr Hayward's family at their home in Kent in southern England after they received hate mail and threatening phone calls."

Funny, I never found this method of of motivating people worked very well for me. I can understand people being frustrated by this whole business but bullying the guy in charge of the solution and threating his family, hardly seems a great way to keep him focussed on solving the problem. If we turn this into a fight for survival of the chief executive rather than a fight to stop an oil leak I would guess we all become losers.

Complex geology in the arear:

See this map:

Pay special attention to the lower right corner illustration, a cross section of the underground. Not pretty!

Salt domes, faults, sand deposits etc. Oil flowing from one reservoiar to another etc. Special challanges to overcome.:

Targets in the deepwater Miocene
trend have generally been influenced
by salt intrusion, making reservoir
geology difficult to understand.
Projects in the development phase
must balance increased well
complexity with a desire to reduce
drilling and completion costs.
• Seismic imaging in narrow
• Sand identification
• Narrow drilling margin
• Borehole stability challenges
• Complex well trajectories in
development projects
• Improving drilling efficiency
• Unconsolidated formations
• Cross flow between wells
due to extensive faulting
• Production declines that
must be offset with methods
to enhance recovery

Lower Tertiary
The LowerTertiary trend is generally
characterized by older sediments with
lower porosities, ultra-deepwater
depths, reservoir depths greater than
26,000 ft and high bottomhole
• Limited geologic/analogue
well information
• Lack of reservoir modeling
• High well costs
• Narrow drilling margin
• Extreme reservoir depth
• High completion cost
• Low reservoir porosity and
variances in permeability
• Economic challenges due to
reservoir quality

Salt Canopy
The extensive Salt Canopy greatly
impacts seismic imaging quality.
Salt bodies present unique well
planning demands, slow drilling
progress and require highly
engineered completion solutions to
ensure long-term well productivity.
• Seismic attenuation
• Depth imaging below salt
• Defining base of salt
• Locating and identifying inclusions
• Drilling optimization through salt
• High vibration and shock
• Salt exit strategy
• Unexpected “tar” deposits
• Casing size limitations
• Salt creep
• Reservoir compartmentalization
• Reservoir compaction with
pressure depletion

Just for the record: As of this timestamp, there is no effective operative “seal” between the BOP and LRMP cap. I am observing the cap right now and it is CLEARLY moving up and down relative to the BOP. Evidence? One of the cap “fins” is rising up and down relative to the BOP. (The ROV cam is rigidly locked off and rock-solid steady, so cam itself is not a variable.) The LMRP cap is simply floating atop the plume, a bit like a loose teakettle cap with kettle on full boil (no severe occilations however). At this point in the LMRP #7 cap timeline (i.e, one cap pressure relief port closed), the mass media must stop referring to this BOP/cap arrangement as a “seal”. To do is to mislead with a misnomer. (It is arguable whether one can even state the cap and BOP are loosely coupled, unless perhaps one writes it as loosely coupled.)Again, this is visually confirmed. Check for yourself. Herc 14: Dispersant Ops cam, aka Skani Neptune Subsea 7.

Just sayin’...

Concerning anoxic "dead zones" cause by microbes breaking down the subsurface oil: It should be a relatively simple calculation to determine how much ocean can be deoxygenated by the consumption of a barrel of oil, as an upper limit assuming complete oxidation. Has anyone seen this number? If not, I'll probably run through that arithmetic a bit later today.

It should give an upper bound for the potential size of hypothetical "dead zones" (use very high number for leak rate, assume all is consumed by microbes, etc.) and whether we're really looking at a possible major impact or not. The Gulf is a big body of water, the blowout is a big leak of oil, let's see which "big" is bigger in this context.

http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/21220/1/252-261-1-PB.pdf (about the sinking of the Prestige) mentions a deep-water oxygen concentration of 7.7 parts per million, 5.4 millilitres of STP-oxygen per litre of water.

Burning (or consuming by bacteria) one mole of C10H22 decane takes 21 moles of oxygen; one mole of decane is 142 grams, and coincidentally a barrel of oil is about 140 kilograms. 21 moles of oxygen is 500 litres at STP. So to consume one barrel of oil takes the oxygen from about 700 million litres of deep-sea water.

Which suggests that the oil will get consumed by bacteria that live in water with much more oxygen in it.

I suspect the origin of Simmons' confusion was a sloppy word choice.

They found clouds of oily water drifting around. Someone chose to lable them with the cool but inaccurate word "plume"

"Plume" has a specific meaning "a structure resembling a feather" or "Ecology A space in air, water, or soil containing pollutants released from a point source". These clouds weren't plumes. They didn't have a quill, they weren't connected to a point source,

Simmons, behaving as a literalist, thinks "if there is a olume miles away by definition there must be a point source miles away" and off he goes.

Please, is someone out there, who can explain this pic and put it in perspective to the oilspill discussion ?

what do we see in this pic:


lots of thanks for each comment.

i dont know whether is apprioate to start as a newy a new thread.

i think all of you are professionels in the offshore buisiness, i'm not

do you have comment on this picture taken june 7th

link: http://ge.ssec.wisc.edu/modis-today/index.php?satellite=t1&product=true_...

each comment would be welcome

marcus brugman, holland

marcus - questions are very welcomed at TOD. A big reason why it exists. The pic looks like a satelite photo. But what exactly were you trying to ask?

I'm guessing the question is 'what are the low-contrast C shapes that you see (clearer in the higher-resolution shots) highlighted by the sun-glint in the water south of about the Louisiana-Texas border'; I have no idea either.

(the picture is from the Terra satellite, yesterday at 5pm UTC: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/realtime/single.php?2010158/crefl1_14...)

The region is clouded over for the Aqua pass the previous day, falls in a gap between frames for Terra. Two days earlier, it falls in gaps for both Terra and Aqua. Three days earlier it's clouded over again. Pesky satellites :)

OK oil guys - noob question
@ "soap" right - used to cut the oil, making it into smaller pieces so that oil eating bacteria can multiply quicker and get more done?
There has to be some biological limits to what bacteria can handle.
I cannot fathom that this doesn't exceed, either in rate or quantity, what bacteria can handle effectively.
Why not leave it thick(er) so it can be collected easier?

any experts out there?

I think what we're seeing is what engineers do - make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

All the speculation about flow rates, pressures, condition of the casing, is all just puffery. The BP technical team has data, and experience, and probably lots of uncertainty about particular aspects of the well's condition.

Financial service people like Matthew Simmons says something, and the media sees another story and chases it, blowing everything out of proportion.

I'm betting that the technical people working for BP have "don't make it worse" embedded in their psyche. They aren't going to try any 'imaginative' solutions, because they usually don't work. I think there's decades of offshore drilling knowledge and experience, and they're taking it one step at a time - just like you'd want them to.

I also would bet they have parallel teams analyzing alternatives, and the activity we're watching is the choice of the most qualified people around.

I also would bet that every one of them wants to solve this problem as soon as possible.

I also bet there's no conspiracy among the hundreds of engineers and consultants brought in to solve this.

Big DITTO jerryf! BIG DITTO's!

If the well casing has been compromised (i.e., leaking), it's quite possible that oil is flowing out into cracks or fissures in the subsurface geology and surfacing through the seabed some distance away.

In other words, there may be multiple release points. Oil flowing through uncased openings could be virtually uncontrollable, depending on the nature of the opening (location, size, shape, etc.).

Also, what this means, if true, is that sealing the well won't work (unless it's somehow sealed at the bottom). It also means the relief wells won't have any meaningful effect on the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf.

Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get worse.

Uh, the whole point of a relief well is to seal it from the bottom. Should work fine.