BP Deepwater Oil Spill - The Oil in the Water, Seeps, and Open Thread 2

Please move this discussion to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6579.

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida spoke on MSNBC on Monday, about the possibility of oil leaking up from the seabed in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon well that is currently spilling oil into the Gulf. (The implication being that the well casing had "sprung a leak.") The story will inevitably grow, but it may well be that he is confusing two quite separate events. You might remember that when tar balls first started appearing on the Florida beaches recently they were analyzed, and on May 19th the Coast Guard issued a statement that included the following:

A sampling of tar balls discovered on beaches at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Fla., Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key, Fla., and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fla. were flown by a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet based in Miami, Fla., to New London, Conn. Tuesday for testing and analysis.

The results of those tests conclusively show that the tar balls collected from Florida Keys beaches do not match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the tar balls remains unknown at this time.

At that time it was conjectured that the tar balls had come from natural seeps under the Gulf. Cutler Cleveland recently wrote a guest post on the topic of these natural seeps, and their size, relative to the current spill, but because of the new furor I thought it worth expanding a little on what he wrote, relying on two of his sources – the National Research Council’s Oil in the Sea III Inputs, Fates and Effects (2003) ; and Dagmar Schmidt Etkin’s Report “Analysis of U.S. Oil Spillage,” which API issued last August.

n the normal course of events, the magnitude of the natural seeps of oil into the waters around the United States far exceeds that from other sources. For example, to take the data for U.S. waters:

Comparison of seeps and typical annual spill volumes (after Etkin-ibid)

A natural seep occurs when the oil, which is normally trapped under a layer of rock in a reservoir, finds a pathway to the surface, generally relatively small (so that the oil doesn’t all gush out rapidly), with the oil slowly seeping upwards over the centuries.

Oil seep from reservoir under the sea (after USGS/Etkin ibid)

Worldwide seeps can add up to more that 14 million barrels a year, and in the Gulf of Mexico the NRC report suggests that the annual flow from the seabed is around 1 million barrels/year. (Etkin puts the high end estimate at 1,400,000 barrels a year). As Dr. Cleveland notes this is considerably less than the current spill (2,700 bd against 15,000 bd), but it is sufficient that it generates tar balls that end up on Florida beaches, and it is likely sufficient to also generate plumes of oil-contaminated water. Further the location of these seeps, not surprisingly, is where the oil rigs are likely to be found (since they are drawing oil from the reservoirs). Thus it may well be, in this case, that there is some confusion between natural seeps and the entirely un-natural and much larger current spill.

Etkin mapped the location of the seeps that have been reported, and areas where the sheen of oil that they generate on the surface has been remotely detected.

Reported natural seep locations in the GOM.

It is perhaps useful to locate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill relative to these. ( I have put a red dot on the above map where I estimate it is, but this is the NOAA map showing the well location and the surface sheen today (June 7th).

The surface sheen will, unless continually fed with new oil, tend to shrink over time as the oil that comprises it is light enough to evaporate. The NRC Report notes that there are a variety of ways in which the oil will meet its fate.

Fate of the oil entering the Gulf (NRC report – ibid)

The NCR report provides this graph for the evaporation rates (but remember that this is likely only valid for the very thin layer of oil on the surface).

In many oil spills, evaporation is the most important process in terms of mass balance. Within a few days following a spill, light crude oils can lose up to 75 percent of their initial volume and medium crudes up to 40 percent. In contrast, heavy or residual oils will lose no more than 10 percent of their volume in the first few days following a spill. Most oil spill behavior models include evaporation as a process and as a factor in the output of the model.

Evaporation rates for various hydrocarbons (NRC report – ibid)

On the other hand emulsification (where the oil mixes with water to generate the brown chocolate mousse type of structure that is now appearing along the beaches, marshes and estuaries) increases the volume of the oil by perhaps 3 – 5 times. This is the most visible result of the spill, with the long strands of emulsion that are now evident on the sea surface and which are now entrapping birds and other wild life. It is not, however, likely to be the most dangerous.

That comes from the concentration of small oil droplets in the water. While these are small enough to be an easy target for microbial action, and in that process of being digested, reduce the risk of tar ball and sediment formation which is often the long term result of an oil spill, before this plume is destroyed it can be lethal to those bethnic resources that it encounters. Following the wreck of the tank barge the North Cape off the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey the impact was devastating.

Nearshore benthic resources were greatly impacted, with estimated mortality of 9 million lobsters (mostly juveniles), 19.4 million surf clams, 7.6 million rock and hermit crabs, 4.2 million fish, and 2.8 million kilograms of amphipods and worms

In that case, however, the wreck was pushed ashore at the refuge. In the current case there are miles, for some species, between the spill and their habitat.

With the breakdown in size of the oil droplets brought about by the dispersant mixed in with the oil at the well, the exposure of the oil to microbial action is enhanced, because of the very large surface areas which the droplets create. This will speed up biodegredation, but it depends on depth and water temperature, among other factors.

Rates of biodegradation are dependent on the ability of microbes to contact hydrocarbons as well as on the bacterial metabolic processes operating within the cell. Rates of biodegradation in a natural experiment range from 50 to 100 g/ m3 per day (Lee and Levy, 1987). In the environment, rates of degradation have been reported to be between 0.001 and 60 g/m3 per day (Atlas and Bartha, 1992) Source: (NRC Report – ibid)

Also, in regard to a certain BP official commenting that oil floats, this depends on the droplet size, to quote the report again:

Vertical dispersion and entrainment are the movements of oil droplets of sizes less than about 100 μm into the water column. Typically droplets that display a residence time of minutes to hours have droplet sizes less than about 20 μm (Reed, 1992). Larger droplets will rise quickly to the surface.

Unfortunately the exact droplet sizes, and their relative lifespan at different levels in the water column is going to be partially controlled by the earlier interaction with the dispersant.

That research will, no doubt, now be done relatively rapidly, given the $500 million that has been made available and the groups now doing the investigating. It will, as part of that process, perhaps be interesting to see how much of some of these subsea plumes was generated by the natural seeps, rather than the oil spill, and how the natural disposal of that oil impacts on the current much larger volumes. But again that funding is likely already starting to be spent. (Were I still doing active research I would probably grumble more about the lack of funding for research to find better ways of drilling and producing the oil – but since I’m not, I will restrain my cynical self).

And on a final note: The amount of oil being recovered at the Deepwater site has now risen to a daily rate of 15,000 bd. (But does not seem to have impacted the volumes escaping from under the cap.)

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After seeing the new "transparency" ie data posted at DOE today, and the daily updates on the capture amounts, I am more optimistic than I have been since 4/20.

The increasing amounts of oil captured can likely continue to be scaled upwards to an amount just below the amount of the total leakage whatever the amount. As pointed out repeatedly here, there will have to be some leakage to maintain an effective "cap recovery".

At the moment the flow is stabilized and it appears that the biggest factor for changing that may be erosion in the BOP, which for adjustments in capture can likely be made.

This indicates to me that a worst case scenario now is:
Capture of all but maybe 10 − 20% of the leakage through the cap method indefinitely. (yeah, there is a cost to that)
Assuming discontinuing the dispersants — most of the remaining leak will surface and most can be subject to a continuous skim/burn operation.

Who knows, by 2012 the MMS may simply require a prepared cap on the floor and a "cap rig" on standby, permanent skimming plan in place, and deepwater drilling will be considered safe again.

All in all, not a bad "plan b" to relief wells. Certainly survivable.

Edit: This is assuming the relief well attempt does not create a whole new set of problems. Which in my mind makes it a bit more risky than status quo.

More data on the well posted in one place this afternoon by DOE:


Wow! Great data. Some snippets :

- No water production at surface
- Oil density is around 38 API
- Flowing pressure at sea level around 1300-1400 psi (as per my model posted in last thread :-) )
- Peak oil rate up pipe has been as high as 18000 b/d
- flowing pressure beneath the BOP appears to be 4400 psi (on 25th May) so we are only dropping about 2000 psi through the stack

Have you also noticed that you can see more of the 'fins' on the LMRP? Also, you can occasionally see through the oil flow and see the end of the LMRP. Do you know if they have closed the relief valves on the LMRP?

As interesting as flow might be from a legal or mitigation standpoint, what we really need from BP is the damn well logs and strat column. Ought to be public record, since they forfeited "proprietary" interest in Macondo. We need an FOIA served on MMS pronto.

Don't tell us, you work for one of their competitors? :)

I own a consulting company, don't give a flying f about cute remarks. The thing at issue is a subsurface blowout and lost circulation. No one is going to produce this play. Not after reservoir kill. I'm trying to track migration.

Edit: Hey, you know what? To hell with it. If they kill the reservoir, it'll kill everything updip. If they fail there's nothing else to be done.

To lighten the mood up a little let me offer a bad news/good news/bad news tale regarding two of BP’s potential competitors. The seismic target BP drilled for apparently lapped over on to other lease blocks that BP didn’t own. Those tracks were leased by two different independent oil companies. They all had the same seismic data base and had about the same picture: if the BP well hit big some of the reserves would fall on the other two leases. In such circumstances companies might form a voluntary producing unit: each company would own a pre-negotiated cost of the development as well as a specific share of the production. As told to me this negotiation went on for some time but eventually broke down and BP decided to drill the well with their partners and produce on a lease basis. The offset lease owner would also be free to develop their leases if they thought it would be economic. Unfortunately, depending on how big the reservoir might be, the economics for those offset lease owners might not be sufficient to develop. BP would have a time advantage and might have had a structural advantage to drain reserves off of those offset leases. Which would be legal: the Feds have the same rule as Texas: right of capture. If an operator is draining oil off of your lease from a legal location then he doesn’t have to share. Your only option is to drill your own well and produce the oil before he does.

So there’s the bad news part for the offset lease owners: BP is drilling the well on their own and wouldn’t have to share. The good news; if they had formed a voluntary unit they would be on the hook for a portion of the blow out/spill costs (less what the might have won in a lawsuit, if anything, against BP). And the last bad news: some of the oil being spilled into the GOM is coming off the offset owners’ leases. Enough that the economics of developing their lease have been hurt if not destroyed. And even if they could still economically develop the field from their leases, anyone want to guess how long it’s going to take them to get those permits?

Rockman: "Enough that the economics of developing their lease have been hurt if not destroyed." You might know this: If offset lease owners are damaged by BP's negligent (assuming) conduct, would BP be liable to offsets for their damages? This blow out is without a doubt the largest dog pile in legal history. Did we just add two more dogs to the pile? "Right of capture" is not right to negligently blow everything up, IMHO.

Did we just add two more defendants to the pocket pile?
Is that neighbor "z" or neighbor "(e)x(xon)" oil coating those cute pelican babies?
Were z and x aware of the risk of another firm pissing out all their oil on the fish and oysters if they sat back to let the field get developed?

rationd wrote:

Did we just add two more defendants to the pocket pile?

Perhaps. Until we know for sure, you and your fellow haters can dream on that still more companies, their employees and their shareholders might be destroyed by this accident.

You got the wrong guy.... I was just observing that although the neighboring oil companies sharing the lease might have lost revenue claims against BP, they might also have liability exposure to the effects of the spilled oil if they claim it. It was my first comment here, and I guess I was being too much a smartass in pointing out the danger of claiming the stuff that leaked out. I apologize for getting you riled, certainly wasn't aiming for a personal attack.

EL - I won't be surprised if a suite is filed. But it might not work...at least on appeal. I suspect there's precedence that might work against them. This is the logic behind right of capture: the oil under my lease belongs to me. And of course I can only produce oil that exists under my lease. Now if I produce my oil but that results in oil migrating from your lease to my lease then you can go sue Mother nature: she makes those physical laws. Might sound odd but right of capture has been the law for many decades and I would bet there have been quit a few lawsuit over it. But I’ve never heard of anyone winning.

In La. it’s just the opposite. I can go before a state board (actually my hired consultants who specialize in such matters) and argue my case. An example: you drill a well on your lease at a risk of $1 million. And you hit it big: find $100 million in net oil income. But I own the offset lease and my hired guns convince the state board that half that oil is coming off my lease. Now I get $50 million but I do have to pay you $500,000 for my share of the well you drilled. Of course if it had been a dry hole it would have been 100% your loss. Fortunately this is La. where politics never matter and everyone gets a fair deal.

I smell filing of a Complaint followed by out of court settlement with confidentiality clause.

Is it not so that Louisiana state waters extend three miles from some coastal lines' and that the leases from 3 to 200 miles are subsequently subject to the federal statutes? I have no intimate knowledge of the oil lease scheme so I am really only asking for clarification.

Correct. Macondo is in Federal waters.

Of course, if it becomes possible to produce off of those leases, doesn't the reverse apply? They could be producing the reserves that BP no longer has any legal right to, which might still be substantial if the blowout is killed within a few months.

JB: I said: "If offset lease owners are damaged." I don't know it's a sure thing they are or will be damaged. If you mean by "reverse" that BP could claim a share of offset lease holders increased profit by the elimination of BP as a competitor, no. BP did it to itself.

Joules -- Yep...same rules for everyone. But I haven't heard BP's lease has been cancelled. Might happen but never seen a lease cancelled for a spill.

To reiterate Rockman's latter point, of course, they will have the advantage of a well published favorable set of data that would otherwise have been proprietary and unavailable to them, providing a lead pipe cinch with respect to risk/reward for their upront and field development investments. But, under the current and forseeable political climate, how much capital will they venture on the chances of getting a deepwater drilling permit for development of this formation?

"No one is going to produce this play. Not after reservoir kill."

Actually, after seeing how Congress and the Obama administration dealt with the TBTF banks, I wouldn't risk a bet that this apparently prolific well will not be produced "in the national interest" and "to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil"....


Here's BP's existing exploration. Most of the relevant information has been removed as "proprietary."


Armchair, back of the envelope calculations about flow rates, D.O. depletion, etc., etc. are meaningless in terms of mitigating this disaster. What's desperately needed is data on the surrounding and underlying geology.

Sorry, meant exploration PLAN (for Mississippi Canyon Block 252).

"proprietary" is in the eye of the beholder until ordered to think otherwise.

EL -- Don't know it for a fact but there's a good chance that they don’t own the seismic data used to generate the prospect. They probably bought a license to utilize this data which was shot by a spec seismic company. That's how such companies make a living: the shoot and pay 100% for the data and then issue licenses to whoever can pay. And it’s illegal by contract for them to share that data with anyone else. But there is probably some data that is owed by BP and they could share. But it probably would be the most interesting info.

The plot thickens. More companies sucked in.

Edit: Hot Tip! Buy shares in a subpoena manufacturing company. Probably off shore.

Rockman has it exactly. BP don't own the seismic data. Indeed a substantial amount of GOM data I have seen has been acquired privately with a view to maximising profits by licensing it to as many players as possible. This is pretty standard practice in many areas. Some aquisitions companies use slow economic times to bolster their in-house owned data sets. It is riskier, but the return can be vastly better than shooting seismic on contract.

So, as much as one might cry out that BP must release the seismic data (and heck, why not the mag and gravity too) It isn't theirs to release. If you want it, go pay for a license like everyone else does. If it is in the clear public interest that it be released into the public domain, perhaps you should argue that the US government negotiate with the owners of the data an approriate fee that this be done. BP might foot the bill, but it isn't their call.

Seismic tells you nothing, unless you're equipped to interpret, tie it to the well tops, calculate stacking velocities, depth migrate, etc. Takes a month and doesn't mean a thing. To judge the kill requirement and assess whether there is a shallow horizon or fault leaking, all you need is the LWD suite. I don't care what maps BP made. Most likely wrong anyway.

So true avon. As you know seismic is a nice broad brush but the pore pressure profile from the blow out well is so much more useful in drlling the RW.

"I don't care what maps BP made. Most likely wrong anyway."


I think you're being a little too hard on BP in this regard......after all, they have been one of the most successful exploration companies for quite a while and have been innovators in both seismic acquisition and processing. These have yielded some of the better images of the subsurface in the deepwater.

True. I acknowledged it here, although I'm beginning to wonder how much was Amoco and how much BP. Eleven dead and rig sunk still rankles me angrily and bitterly. Full disclosure: emotional person cannot be objective.

Oh, go and forget all about ARCO. Lol.

I had the privilege of reading typewritten paper Arco well completion reports in Australia. If we had the same (hell, half as good) geologists, petrophysicists and engineers today, there would be a revolution in finding and development. Arco explored Prudhoe Bay with a DC-3 full of drill pipe.

"We need an FOIA served on MMS pronto."

I think that's a perfectly reasonable idea. You can file a request here:

Bureau FOIA Officer:

MMS FOIA Officer
MS 2200
381 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170-4817
Fax - 703-787-1207


The secret to getting what you want from FOIA requests is knowing what to ask for and how to ask for it. I'm sure there are others here who have more experience with the process than I do but, if you get stuck, I can point you in the direction of some help.

Edit to add web URL.

(Comments closed while I was posting this in reply to Shelburn's comment.)

Apart from the 20% increase when the riser was snipped and the oil vented to the ocean, there must have been a further increase when some of the oil started venting to the lower pressure of the surface after the cap was placed, say 5%.

In addition, there has been a progressive decrease in the gas content. Originally estimated at 3000 scf/bbl, it is now less than 2000 scf/bbl. By my simplistic calculation, the proportion of oil in the leak has increased from 24% to 32%.

So while the amount of FLUID leaking may have increased 25%, the amount of OIL leaking has increased by 67%.

(Was say 100 x 0.24 = 24, now 125 x 0.32 = 40, a 66.6% increase.)

Not sure I buy the lower pressure argument. Oil in the cap is being pushed out through the valves and the seal. That implies pressure in the cap is HIGHER than the sea pressure. That would imply a lower flow rate, not a higher one after applying the cap.

What are you using to determine volumetric % methane in the fluid coming from the well based on scf/bbl at the recovery point?

1) If you assume half the oil is going up the riser, then half the oil is pushing against 5000' of oil, and half against 5000' of sea water. Previously, all the oil was pushing against 5000' of sea water. So flow must increase. (But I am a little unsure of this. Any knowledgeable TODer, please comment.)

2) I used the ideal gas formula, P1V1/T1 = P2V2/T2
STP: T = 293 K, P = 32' water. At 5018' under sea water: T = 278 K, P = 5195' water

3000 cu ft compresses to 3000 x 278/293 x 32/5195 = 17.5 cu ft per bbl of oil
and 2000 cu ft compresses to 17.5 x 2000/3000 = 11.7 cu ft per bbl of oil

1 barrel = 5.6 cu ft, so oil was 5.6/(5.6 + 17.5) = 0.24 i.e. 24% of fluid
is now 5.6/(5.6 + 11.7) = 0.32 i.e. 32% of fluid

I know this is an approximation, but no one has come up with anything better.

OK, well I don't have an equation of state for Methane handy (I must be slipping in my old age). How about using the critical density of methane instead? That's 0.162 g/cm^3.


What would be your calculations on the every expanding gas against an ever decreasing water pressure? That appears linear until we look at the bouancy of the gas bubble inside the confind cross section of the riser pipe(s) and its drag. I strongly suspect that this is further reducing the piping capacity for the liquid oil and, in effect, partially gas locking the lines.

Gas under pressure of 5195' of water or 5195/32(ft/atm) = 162 atmospheres. 1 ft3 at 5195 is going to occupy 162 ft3 at atmosphere.
162 ft cu at atmosphere is 162/5.6 ft3 = approx. 29 bbl at atmosphere and 4696 bbl back on the floor. That is a lot of gas and a lot of volume.

What is the size of the riser pipes again?

Does anyone know the inside diameter of the riser and the four valves on the cap? The DOE has a fancy pdf drawing of it, but maddeningly, it doesn't give these dimensions.

OK, another pdf gives 6 5/8" OD drill pipe. Also pumping 8 gpm methanol = 275 bbl/day, insignificant.

Only dimensions I've seen were very rough - 4' diameter, 13' tall, 3,500 lb. I tried to scale this out and got about 3.5' high cylinder with a 1.5' high cone. Very rough calculation would indicate its made out of 1/4' plate - a standard size for offshore construction.

Pressure - Actually there will be some very small increase in back pressure when the cap is placed on the riser. BP is making sure they never have any "suction" as that would bring in seawater and mess up the whole recovery.

GOR - I saw that but didn't account for it. Original GOR was supposed to be 3,000. During the RITT recovery it seemed to hit as high as 5,000. Maybe due to the geometry of the RITT inside the riser sucking in more separated gas than oil??? Current GOR about 2,000 which would seem to increase the flow but I'm not sure by how much when trying to calculate turbulent, mixed flow with super-critical methane, some other NGL, oil with dissolved gas, etc going through a small orifice (the BOP restriction) and an approx 5,000 psi drop. Beyond my meager capabilities.

Check out that DOE data & my recent post...if it is correct, the delta P through the BOP is down to ~2200 psi as of May 25, probably lower now...I'm thinking this is strong evidence of erosion of the BOP "orifice;" gas/oil mixture is no longer supercritical before BOP.

Does that now mean that schemes to try to block the BOB holes could be safely tried?

I'm not used to working with supercritical fluids but isn't methane separated from the oil still supercritical at pressures greater than about 700 psi?

Yup. Methane critical point is T=-82.7 C, P = 45.96 bar x 14.503 = 666.593 psi.

edit: I think the critical pressure cited above is in megapascals (MPa), not bars; 10 bars = 1 MPa

Methane has to be above it's critical temperature AND critical pressure (6600 psi) to be supercritical. To be a really good solvent it has to also be above its critical density. As a point of reference, CO2 (which is normally a weak solvent) will dissolve Teflon at 10,000 psi & 175C (from a DuPont patent). In this range, it is logical to speak in terms of "reduced properties" ie, ratio to the critical point property. CO2 has a low critical pressure of ~1070 psi, so its "reduced pressure" at 10,000 psi is 10,000/1070 ~ 9.34, which gives incredibly high solvency.

Insofar as P(critical) of methane ~6600 psi (unusually high), the reduced pressure behind the BOP in early may was about 8500/6600,~1.28, still high enough to make it a strong solvent for (chemically similar) hydrocarbons...maybe enough that at 8500 psi (and in the reservoir, estimated to be 12,000 psi) there was a truly miscible system. I discussed this with three experts in the general area of supercritical extraction (two professors and the president of Phasex Corporation), and they were of mixed opinions as to whether the oil/gas was probably miscible behind the BOP (at ~8500 psi, 175 F) but all agreed it probably was miscible in the reservoir, at higher T,P. However, this is amenable to experimentation.

At the outset of the leak, the oil/gas was probably miscible in the reservoir, and may or may not have phase separated as it rose up to the BOP (this is an adiabatic expansion, much different than pure liquid moving up the pipe). If the measurement I got from an insider is correct that the T behind the BOP back then was 175 Fahrenheit, one can calculate the reservoir T by assuming adiabatic expansion against gravity. At one point, in an earlier post, I estimated that the average density of the fluid rising up the pipe from the reservoir had to be ~0.62 g/cc...based on P behind the BOP of 8500 psi, reservoir P at 12000 psi (as I was tod by one of the professors, who is on the "flow measurement team" of outside experts. This all fits well. At that earlier point, the hole in the BOP was small (an orifice), so the pressure drop from fluid friction was low between the reservoir tothe BOP; mostly the pressure drop was due to gravity. (It helps in that regard that supercritical fluids have much lower viscosity than liquids.)

Think back to early pictures of the ejecta...I do not recall syncopated gas/oil/gas as now appears to be the case (especially the leak at the crimped riser; downstream from there, there will have been more time for the phases to segregate into bubbles)...this is consistent with the idea that it might still have been a miscible supercritical solution before going through the BOP orifice when P behind the orifice was 8000-9000 psi.

Such a supercritical mixture cools a lot as it rises; it is close to an adiabatic expansion, and can be approximately calculated, or exactly measured in a lab, by reconstituting the reservoir mixture. As P,T drop, the system will separate into two phases, but if P > 6600 psi, a lot of the oil will remain dissolved in the gas. I think this was the case a few weeks ago, but from 5/25 to today, I have no doubt there is a two phase flow up the drill pipe/casing (because at the pressure currently seen behind the BOP (<4400 psi), methane is a lousy solvent.

A lot of that is academic, but the really important part is that the pressure behind the BOP is much lower now (<4400 psi) compared to ~8500 psi in early May, which I think means that sand erosion has really opened up that orifice in the BOP.

I could be wrong but I think the critical pressure for methane is about 4.596 MPa or 45.96 atm or 666.6 psi.


there were some comments about vessels at the drill site and how to track them

It would appear that the AIS are not being broadcast.

There is a link at http://www.deepwaterbp.com/m_5.asp that covers the area of the leak in real time. (you can see a dead zone around the operation site)

Someone asked about the research vessel Walton Smith its last record is June 1 and is here http://bit.ly/dvLTbk

The ships at the site of the leak stopped broadcasting on June 6. Here are their records:

Ocean Intervention 3 http://bit.ly/aqTok3

Viking Poseidon http://bit.ly/cDToDp

BOA DEEP C http://bit.ly/bwBkmB

SKANDI NEPTUNE http://bit.ly/cybSFU

Q4000 http://bit.ly/dedv6V

Discovery Enterprise http://bit.ly/aZoZYE

Geez. I thought I was merely incompetent when I couldn't find them.

Thanks for the links ... where do you find the MMSI ids for the vessels? I notice that searching just on name doesn't seem to work for all of them.

Incidentally, the R/Walton Smith completed its research trip a few days ago, else I might have noticed the sudden large blank spot in the map.

The area is no longer looking as empty (5:30pm PDT) .. a number of the vessels related to the wild well as well as other ships are back on the map, including, at the moment, the Viking Poseidon, the Skandi Neptune, the DD3 and the Q4000. No sign of the Discover Enterprise or OC3 at the moment.

This is interesting.

Where oh where could that other oil be coming from? Hmm, perhaps a well that's been leaking for the last six years. One whose history has been conveniently excluded from mainstream media.

The Ocean Saratoga, aka. Diamond Saratoga aka. Platform 23051, has been leaking for the last six years after hurricane Ivan in 2004 damaged its well.

SkyTruth: Possible Leak From Platform 23051
SkyTruth: Routine Gulf Monitoring - Here's Why We Need It
The Tree of Liberty: CONFIRMED: Aerial Video Shows Second Leaking Rig Near The Deepwater Horizon

YouTube: A New Source? flyover 06.05.10.mov

The New yet Old leak continues to spew its guts out, despite six years of attempts to halt it. Above is a video flyover of the leak, showing the futile efforts of a nearby ship to 'disperse' it by churning the water and pumping out millions of gallons of toxic 'dispersant'.

Now that Deepwater is attracting so much attention, the cameras have accidentally caught sight of this 'hidden' leak in plain sight. Finally in the public spotlight, the criminal enterprise known as Taylor Energy will now have to spout some propaganda to justify its six years of pollution, perhaps more in total volume than has so far roiled forth from Deepwater Horizon.

Indeed - as its stock slides - "Taylor Energy Will Soon Put Out Comment On Saratoga Oil Leak" (Business Insider, June 8, 2010).

Further history and articles on this leak can be found here: Diamond Saratoga Leak


Dept Of Interior: Small Amount Of Oil Leaking From Taylor Energy Wells

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--A small amount of oil has been leaking into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico from Taylor Energy-owned oil wells in the gulf since 2004, a spokeswoman for the U.S. secretary of the interior said in an email Tuesday.

The wells have been leaking since they were destroyed by a mudslide during Hurricane Ivan. The wells were leaking less than a third of a barrel of oil a day.

"There are hundreds of small oil leaks every year in the Gulf of Mexico, and each is reported immediately to the National Response Center to ensure appropriate actions are taken to mitigate all potential environmental impacts," Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the secretary of the interior, said in a statement.

Media reports had surfaced that Diamond Offhore Drilling Inc. (DO) was dealing with a leak at a Taylor-owned oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Diamond's rig, Ocean Saratoga, was performing plugging and abandonment work on the well, a Diamond Offshore spokesman said Tuesday.

The work had been under way prior to a government mandated drilling ban that was instituted as a result of the massive BP Plc (BP, BP.LN) oil spill in the gulf.

-By Jason Womack, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9201; jason.womack@dowjones.com

It was just a barrel every 3 days, for 5-6 years? Oh. Ok then.

That slick SkyTruth found looks rather more than 13 gallons of oil/day! That can't possibly be true. I certainly hope it won't be the Department of Interior charged with determining the BP fine...

It is absolutely amazing how big a slick can be from a small amount of oil. It spreads out in a layer measured in microns, a small fraction of the thickness of piece of paper. When I went to spill school in Santa Barbara the instructor used the example that 1 gallon of gasoline could cover 1 square mile, except that it would evaporate before it finished spreading.

Oil doesn't spread as far or as quickly as gasoline but 1 cup of oil can make a highly visible slick hundreds of feet long.

So 13 gallons a day is very possible.

Try using an eyedropper to drop 1 drop of oil in a bucket of water and you can prove it to yourself.

In a certain country even in the early 90's one liter of oil was a big deal to the Ministry of Petroleum and when it happened scared the heck out of our production guys. A little oil does make for a big sheen.

Thanks for taking the time to explain that. Speculation was that they might be dumping dispersants on that. Would that even be helpful in this situation? Has it really been cheaper to monitor this and pay $2.5M in fines (or so) than to fix the darn leak..?

Well, the Coast Guard just has to go down from the 7th to the 5th floor of the Freeport McMo building to ask Taylor Energy about that.

Did you even read the Taylor Energy response?

"More volume than the Deep Water Horizon". Right.

From the Mobile Press-Register:

The Deepwater Horizon is not the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.

A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30, according to a federal document.

While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a 10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from space in multiple images gathered by Skytruth.org, which monitors environmental problems using satellites.

Federal officials did not immediately respond when asked about the size of the leak, how long it had been flowing, or whether it was possible to plug it.

Skytruth first reported the leak on its website on May 15. Federal officials mentioned it in the May 1 trajectory map for the Deepwater Horizon spill, stating that oil from the Ocean Saratoga spill might also be washing ashore in Louisiana.

Emphasis added.

Also from the article:

"Skytruth first reported the leak on its website on May 15. Federal officials mentioned it in the May 1 trajectory map for the Deepwater Horizon spill, stating that oil from the Ocean Saratoga spill might also be washing ashore in Louisiana.

The only other mention the Press-Register was able to find of the spill in federal documents occurred in a May 17 transcript of a U.S. Coast Guard media conference. In that transcript, Admiral Mary Landry said that she was unaware there was another drilling rig leaking oil in the Gulf."

Seriously?!? Wow. That really inspires confidence in our government.

Make it TENS of Millions of Gallons of Toxic Dispersants if you want to get the same attention as Matthew Simmons.

Does it hurt when you travel through a wormhole to another planet?

False report, don't know where it started.
The Ocean/Diamond Saratoga, if it is leaking, is a new leak. It was a producing well. Here are the financials. I did not do the research. Horked from another forum. Names available upon request.

Ocean Saratoga did unmoor during Ivan (2005) but that has nothing to do with the leak Ocean Saratoga has now in 2010

Here is Diamond's 2008 financials showing Ocean Saratogo under contract, pumping and producing oil.


Here's another from the horse's mouth, Diamond Offshore


Now Ocean Saratoga did see damage during Gustav AND Ike.

If Ocean Saratoga's current leak is related to hurricane damage, it was from Gustav AND Ike (2008) not Ivan (2005)

Regarding the "pop quiz". Some of you, like me, may benefit from this site for the calculations and geographic specifics. Link: http://www.wolframalpha.com/

I looked up ELM and I think that is - like so many other hypothetical economic models - a good fit for a number of countries. But not all.

The way the Wikipedia entry on ELM reads - and I assume this was written by supporters of the PO concept - the idea of starving the energy needs of a local population is dismissed as "unlikely." I don't see why that follows necessarily, whether in a command economy or what most of the world has, plutocracies, the needs of local populations is frequently a distant second or third to maintaining exports.

If we're talking about a situation in which oil prices are rising because of greater demand than supply, most countries' rulers will sell out their own populations in a heartbeat. Keep in mind that a local currency is worthless without exports (on top of this there's often IMF/World Bank pressure to export as a condition for any number of loan guarantees and so forth), and a worthless currency isn't going to let the upper tier of society import the nicer things in life.

There are dozens of countries that export cash crops even as the local population struggles with food security. In fact this has been more common than not in the developing world over the past several decades. Heck, Ireland was exporting food during the famed famine. And that's food we're talking about.

ELM seems to assume that everyone in the same country sees themselves as being in the same boat. (From Wikipedia: "It is unlikely that an Export Land would constrain domestic consumption to help importing countries.") Most societies don't work that way. The people whose consumption takes the hit might well speak a different language and have a different religion than the people deciding what domestic supply is going to look like. They're most likely also at a different socioeconomic level.

Small emirate-type countries have larger populations of 'guest workers' - sometimes a few times more of these than citizens - and these people are more or less deported when unemployed. I could foresee a number of scenarios related to this in which their energy usage would be transferred to their home countries (along with them)... even in an economy experiencing growth. Shortly before I arrived in Qatar (job) all the Egyptians had been bounced because someone in the Egyptian government had critiqued the Qatari emir's choice of a successor. Just to mention one particularly unexpected (and capricious!) event. For any number of reasons if enough people get bounced because their work assignments are over, you could have a situation in which the ELM doesn't fit.

A noticable population drop for any reason could accompany economic growth and help push domestic consumption down even as production increases. Russia has a stagnate birth rate, emigration, and male life expectancy dropped ("Thank you, Larry Summers!") a few yrs within a span of ten during the immediate neoliberal post-Soviet era. Not sure if this has been enough by itself to counterindicate the ELM, but it certainly makes for conditions in which exports hypothetically could continue apace as production levels off. Fewer people, less fuel use, super-concentration of wealth...

There seems to be a general assumption that wealth is necessarily distributed as economic growth occurs on paper. That doesn't necessarily follow. In fact often the wealth coming in from the exports is spent outside of the country out of all proportion to what might happen in the US.

None of this is to say that I think PO is nonsense, but I'm always skeptical of one size fits all econ models. They call it the "dismal science", which seems unfair. Probably not really a science... (rimshot!)

One potential exception is not Saudi Arabia or Russia (the top two oil producers) but Norway. They are in contention for the world's highest gas taxes (depends upon exchange rates) while being a major oil exporter.

Still, their domestic consumption increases as oil production drops.

A subtle effect is that oil production drops, more energy intensive oil prospects are drilled (700,000 gallons of diesel on DWH for example) and energy intensive secondary and tertiary recovery projects started. All of which means more oil consumed by the oil producing sector of the economy.


Nobody knows how the ELM is going to work when the consuming entities fall uniformly into deflation.

First consideration is what is exchanged for oil and what is it worth? If oil is costly than the primary trade or exchange medium will be equally costly. Consider a trade of oil for gold. In no country would traders cheaply exchange oil for gold.

Today the exchange medium is US dollars. Since oil is becoming scarce it is expensive, not measured in dollar or in other currencies but in the amount of work that is being done with the oil. As it turns out the world is doing about as much work as it was doing two years ago. The level of 'Growth' worldwide is very small or non- existant. Also note the amount of oil extracted is smaller by some 4 or 5% than extraction rate of three years ago.

This suggests that oil is intrinsically more valuable relative to the work that is done with it, and that whatever is exchanged for it will be equally intrinsically valuable at the same time. If this were not so, then some other exchange medium would be substituted, such as gold bullion in the place of dollars.

The dollar is intrinsically more valuable than other mediums such as the euro, yen or Chinese rmb for many reasons, the primary would be the dollars widespread exchangeability in almost all markets in all countries. This is not so with other currencies or media of exchange.

Alongside of intrinsic value there is the use or utility of oil. If the value of oil or what is exchanged for it becomes too great than the process is self- defeating as oil is an industrial commodity. If oil is too expensive it cannot be used in commerce. This is the central issue of the current economic crisis that has been ongoing for several years. American workers' earning power has been stagnant for ten years. This is the outcome of the decline in industrial use because the primary input has more value outside of commerce than within it.

As oil is valuable, so is the dollar. As oil depletes and becomes more valuable, dollars also become more valuable. The valuable dollars will disappear from circulation making them more valuable still. As a consequence, consumers of oil will begin to purchase producing countries' native currencies in the foreign exchange markets in order to buy fuel without having to buy more expensive and unavailable dollars. When this happens the producer's currencies will also disappear from circulation giving the dollars and the currencies equal preference within the producing country. In this way dollar preference will shift from foreign exchange- level preference to local preference. The local currency would be harder to find than dollars as most if not all producing countries have dollar black markets.

Increasing the the amount of local currency in circulation would dilute by inflation the value of that currency making the dollar even more valuable to the producer.

An outcome of this is that purchasers in producer countries that have access to dollars will be able to buy fuel - taxi drivers, for example. Gas stations in producing countries won't accept the local currency; "out of gas" the signs out front would declare - but those with dollars to exchange like our taxi driver will be able to obtain fuel from the back.

Since far fewer consumers in producing countries would have access to dollars the fuel consumption in these countries would fall sharply. Consider how much fuel in this country is consumed now, then consider how much would be consumed if the preferred medium of exchange was the Australian Dollar - certainly much less!

This is a form of creeping dollarization that makes producers increasingly dependent on dollar flows that come both from US consumers and local consumers using dollars in place of native currencies which are impossible to obtain or are inflated into worthlessness.

By this mechanism the ELM model will be negated as producers will accept valuable dollars only.

I expect, however, at the time this takes place that the US fuel consumption will be dramatically less than now and the US will be a net fuel exporter making the ELM and its variants irrelevant. Keep in mind that dollar preference a) cannot be stopped, altered, modified or changed by any government or administrative actions, and b) dollar preference will pretty much destroy all the industrial economies of the world.

It's really too late to do anything about any of this, the die is pretty much cast, already ...

Thank you, Steve. I appreciate clear thinking.

Thanks ...

These concepts are relatively new to me. I have a couple of questions about your conclusions.

I expect, however, at the time this takes place that the US fuel consumption will be dramatically less than now and the US will be a net fuel exporter ...

US fuel consumption will be less because of a continued decline in the use of oil here as an industrial commodity? or that combined with increased energy efficiency? (somehow I get the feeling it is not the latter.)

Quite eye-opening to consider that the US might again be a net energy exporter. Who would be buying? Chindia as they continue on a path to development, albeit a slower one?

First you say nobody knows how the ELM is going to work, and then you prove it, by stacking up a huge string of what are essentially verbal equations with no constants or numbers or real definitions.

Economics of this type reminds me of physics before calculus - more and more of less and less, with no way to tell where the final outcome is going.

You haven't said anything, except that some stuff goes up when other stuff goes down, and then that unspecified stuff affects other stuff. Adding fancy terms doesn't make it any more scientific.

How about rewriting this rap in an honest format that's verifiable and falsifiable? Otherwise, it ain't science, it's astrology.

Not sure why you would assert that the US $ is intrinsically more valuable than other currencies, particularly given the level of US debts. It is a fiat paper as they are.

'Money' is simply a piece of paper which other people choose to take as being valuable (ie worth giving labor for). When the energy supply available can no longer be expanded to meet the needs of 'growth', this is unlikely to remain true.

No at all clear why any country should choose to exchange oil, which can perform useful work, for piles of paper. As dometic demand increases in producing country x, expect lower oil to be available for export - hence, ELM.

I can't see where the USA would ever again be a net Oil Exporter. We are a net Food exporter though. We don't produce enough ourselves to get so low in usage to export any, unless we lost a lot of population.

The US dollar is not based on gold, but dept, it is not printed on gold foil, how can it get so costly as to be the end all be all of the world??

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.
Hugs from Arkansas

Followup to:

bsmyth292 on June 8, 2010 - 3:08pm Permalink | Subthread | Comments top Some weeks ago someone posted a nice graphic that showed the distance from the top of the ocean surface to the bottom and depicting the well parts underneath somewhat to scale. Obviously it was a very very tall graphic. The intent was to give an idea of the distances involved and how they make fixing the well that more complex.

I can't find the graphic. Can anyone point to where it sits in whatever thread? Thank you!

Do you mean this one:


tjowens on May 30, 2010 - 9:26am Permalink | Subthread | Comments top A significant shortcoming with these schematics that BP produces is that they don't convey the true scale of the problem. I have rescaled the image to to make the depth of the water consistent with the length of the drillship Discovery Enterprise.

Not to hijack the thread but the NOAA 'map' of the spill looks nothing like the map displayed by Rachael Maddow of MSNBC in Her report "the real story is NOT the leaking pipe". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/37563648%2337563648

Your link is not working.

Her claim of the leak volume as being 39,000,000 bbl would make the leak rate at almost a million bbl a day. Why be concerned about numbers at a time like this? It makes the story even better.

I think you need to listen and watch again, more carefully this time.

At 1:03 in the video: "At this hour, officials believe 39 million barrels of crude have already spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. 39 . million . barrels..." Quite unambiguous. Typical media? Good at stirring the pot with rhetorical anger to garner ratings, terrible at numeracy, can't tell gallons from barrels?

Apologies. You're right.

I must have heard gallons because it made sense to me.

Still, don't dismiss Maddow because she misspoke here (and I think that's all this was). She is far more careful than the average TV infotainer.

True and she did spend considerable time correcting the slip this evening.

She cited her error and apologized Tuesday night, on-air.

Yes! Thank you so very much.

I think this is scaled wrong.

per Transocean's Discoverer Enterprise specs:

the DE is
Length 835 ft 255 m

The mudline (at the base of the BOP) is 5067' MD/RKB
the Rotary Kelly Bushing is 92' above the sea.
so the actual depth of water is 5067 - 92 = 4975'

4975' / 835' = 5.958

So the riser is 6x as long as the DE.
The picture at:
has the riser 40-50x as long as the DE.

With regard to dissolved oxygen depletion, here's an interesting article:


The pie chart if it were to compare on a daily basis the estimated flow from seeps in the GoM to the estimated flow from the BP leak it would look something like this:

Thank you, Onlooker.
I appreciate this. I'll borrow it in my public presentations to show the (to date)
scale of this disaster.

Should I assume this represents ~ 20K barrel/day?

People I speak to here in S. Central Indiana are beginning to realize that the entire
Gulf of Mexico may be a giant deadzone by September.

Best Regards,


That's true and the DWH leak is concentrated in one location. For comparison, assume the DWH flow effectively stops at 60 days, how will they compare:

After 1 year:
DWH 30 kBPD * 60 days = 1.8 M BBL (62%)
Seeps 3 kBPD & 365 days = 1.1 M BBL (38%)

After 2 years:
DWH 30 kBPD * 60 days = 1.8 M BBL (45%)
Seeps 3 kBPD & 730 days = 2.2 M BBL (55%)

After 4 years:
DWH 30 kBPD * 60 days = 1.8 M BBL (29%)
Seeps 3 kBPD & 1460 days = 4.4 M BBL (71%)

After 8 years:
DWH 30 kBPD * 60 days = 1.8 M BBL (17%)
Seeps 3 kBPD & 2920 days = 8.8 M BBL (83%)

And that's if it all stays in the Gulf and if none of it decomposes or is otherwise removed from the water over the years. If it spreads into the Atlantic it gets diluted even quicker.

Rockman, Shelburn and engineers who post here: Can you look at the BP BOP pressure information posted on the DOE link shown at the top of this thread and tell us what you glean from the information. Does it fit with what you had thought? It is from May 25 measurements I think that they took before top kill. Thanks.

Yes...my question exactly! They are showing only 4400 psi at the base of the BOP! Knocks the hell out of my theory that the oil/gas mixture is supercritical below the BOP...fits with the observation of syncopated flows of gas/oil. Implies the opening in the BOP is bigger than we thought...may show in fact that sand erosion has produced a LARGE increase in diameter of the BOP flow channel since the earlier (about 2 weeks earlier) report that the pressure below the BOP was 8000-9000 psi. Both numbers can only be correct if either (1) the erosion of the hole through the BOP has been severe, or (2), the reservoir pressure is going down due to local area depletion. Most observers think total flow has increased though, indicating that (1) is more likely....do you agree Rockman?

If you all have covered this before, please ignore, but I was watching CNN an hour or so ago--had one of the guys (Ira Leifer from UCSB) from the flow projection team. He was saying that top kill increased the flow dramatically because it sandblasted the interior of whatever rough surfaces was slowing down the flow. Is that another source of increased erosion?

That was my concern I voiced to Shelburn after his last informative post on flow. The whole estimation thing is difficult but I sort of felt the flow increased after top kill and then looked even larger than projected after the cut.
Other channels are now picking up the story. Can it be caused by something other than erosion?

Look at the sheared edges of the riser, nearby the kink, and you will see that the original wall thickness of the steel part of the riser, reported to be .812, appears to be about .812.

We could not see the stressed area at the kink where the leaks were occurring following the snip. We know, absolutely, from observations that the kink went from a very small leak (probably at stress fractures) to leaking ~15% of the volume before the RIT operation to maybe ~50% of the volume following the mud injection. If one were able to examine the bend I have no doubt that the erosion would be clearly evident. Forensics on the BOP (and the well itself) are going to be most interesting when that point is reached.

There was some discussion in the earlier thread about the two photos of the kink - one following the accident with no leak evident and one following the top kill attempt - and how it appeared that the bend had increased in severity. Notwithstanding the fact that the photos are from different angles making it hard to judge, it should be remembered that initially the riser made a ~1,500' excursion up toward the surface and back down to the sea floor where the RIT was installed at the terminus. Over time I believe that entire elevated section sank to the sea floor and this may have put additional stress on the kink.

Can you confirm where you sourced the information indicating the riser rose 1500'?

Is it really possible for surface roughness to change such a high pressure flow very much? On what sort of physical scale? (100 microns, 1mm, 1cm?) Or did it remove some obstructions?

I think that was unfortunate wording causing confusion.

I doubt that there is any visible sandblasting of the pipe interior, the flow rates aren't that great except where they go through restrictions. On this I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant erosion at the restriction points.

On surface roughness, if you polish the inside of your intake and exhaust manifolds, your Austin Healey Sprite moves like bugger.

Off-topic here, but surface finish has negligible effect on cylinder head port flow numbers and (being too smooth)* usually hurts power output.

*edit - clarification

roger -- I just don't know. Too many variables and assumptions needed. Just two reasons I never watch the videos of the leak. As I mentioned once before: most of my world exists below the well head.

Love it!!


A major change from previous information. 4,400 psi at wellhead vs 8,000 to 9,000 psi previously thrown out casually at press briefings.

This actually makes more sense as it seems to indicate where BP might have gotten the estimated 20% increase in flow after cutting the riser off.

4,400 psi pressure at the wellhead, 2,560 psi at top of BOP, 2,250 psi static (past the riser kink.

1,840 psi pressure drop across BOP
310 psi drop across LMRP and kink, presumably mostly in the kink.
About a 17% difference. Obviously the calculation is much more complicated but 17% is pretty close to 20%.

Within the BOP:

730 psi drop at test rams
430 psi drop at lower pipe rams
620 psi drop at pipe rams and casing shear
60 psi drop at blind/shear rams

Someone who knows a lot more about BOPs might comment but it would indicate to me that most of the rams are at least partially operated or have some sort of obstruction.

eThanks for the link!

Thank perks he posted it.

Thank Dr. Chu or whoever in our government came to the realization that it is possible that people may understand the situation best when provided with all of the information.

And what about the drill pipe that passes through BOP, extends from wellhead to 3200' below and is open at both ends?

If BOP did not crush the pipe and shear did not cut it off (maybe only deformed the cross section), the junk shot and top kill had little effect on this flow path. When bent riser was cut off so was DP, which was very likely restricted by a kink until then. DP is likely a clear path for flow and its pressure drop has not been measured but can be roughly estimated from WH pressure.

I think a majority of the oil/gas may be flowing in DP due to this pressure drop: 4400 psi at WH + 1400 psi for 3200' oil column = 5800 psi at bottom of DP. I don't have equation handy but if the viscosity of oil/gas mix is known, along with friction factor for 6" drill pipe, the DP flow could be roughly calculated, excluding factor for pipe deformation. Temp of oil is around 180? deg. F.

http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/3.1_Item_2_Macondo_Well_07_Jun_1900... has a lot of casing information and some temperature data. 262 F at TD.

If the drill pipe was unobstructed - not crimped - I think it could pass as much as the well is capable of producing, or close to it. So the amount the DP is crimped, or the blowout path through the casing, would be critical in calculating the flow.

In other words you could well be right.

EDIT - I just watched several minutes of high-res video of the flow at the cutoff riser on CNN. It seems clear that there is one large flow coming through the riser and a smaller but higher velocity flow from a partially crimped drill pipe. I could be as much as 50% of the total flow volume. If the DP wasn't flowing before (we don't know if it might have been flowing inside the riser) then it has contributed substantially to the flow but at the same time the pressure at the well head probably dropped reducing the flow in the riser so I don't think it would have increase the flow more than 50% instead of 20% - say from 20,000 to 30,000 bpd. Too many unknowns for me to guess at anymore.

We only have a pressure reading from before the riser removal.

I noticed that at the time Shelburn, the flow from the drill pipe seemed to have a different color as well.

I noticed that but colors in ROV video can be very confusing. The light intensity (they are adjustable), zoom level, distance, turbidity, angle, kelvin, will all effect perceived color.

Knowing some of the pilots out there I wouldn't put it past them to be changing light settings just to confuse the people watching the live feed, some of them couldn't resist the chance to confuse a couple million people and they can do that with no one the wiser.

This was when we had one light source looking at the full flow - the part of the plume emanating from the DP appeared to be a different hue within the darker plume - more reddish if I recall.

shelburn: "just to confuse the people watching the live feed" I was wondering about that this afternoon. I could sit there in the control room with a lap top and watch the reaction on TOD as I gently screwed with the feed. "I can resist anything but temptation." — Oscar Wilde

some of them couldn't resist the chance to confuse a couple million people and they can do that with no one the wiser.

I thought that might have been the end game of their seven hour exercise with a bolt, socket wrench and duct tape. He sure had a lot of viewers fooled when he visually aligned the socket in a way that looked like it was on.

Based on the screen captures of the sheared riser published herein, there were definately two conduits iniside the riser when sheared, and my unscientific impressions was that they were of about the same size. Further, based on the relative size to the 21" riser, I suspect neither were the drill stem. So, let me conjecture that the drill stem was not present when the riser was intentionally sheared and that the original anemic flow from the drill stem was incidental to it's lower open end of it's captured upper section being in the collapsed riser. Now, what were the two pipes sheared inside the riser? Certainly, it may have been (though now I am beginnig to doubt it) the drill stem and the production casing at the outset of the topkill effort. But no singular event seems to be available to explain it's release from the kink in the riser, so my guess is the DS is downhole as far as nature and the recent flow dynamics would allow it to migrate, if it's upper end is not captured by one of the BOP's rams. At the same time, from a purely intuitive perspective I find it difficult to understand how the production casing could have "folded up" in the riser, map fold style, so to speak. But that is what the screenshot looks like to me.
If it had, why were there not three cross sections of the casing? One postulate is that there probably were three at the time of the cut. But, in either cross section, above or below, one leg of the trifold was free and the other two were bound by their upper and lower bends to each other. So, after the shear, the now free upper leg simply migrated into the riser, out of the screen shot, if there were a screen shot looking down, we might see three, or the corresponding loose end simply moved a few inches down from the cut. Now, I believe this could also explain some of the seeming paradoxes in the pressure data reported before and after the original assesments of the relative flows, the top kill effort, and shearing of the riser at the LMRP connection. Produced effluents may have been moving in complicated circulation patterns within and respect to the buckled casing above(or through)the BOP prior to the shear.
I am way out on a limb here, and simply asking if anyone else see's what I mean with regard to the seemingly ongoing,moving dynamics of the otherwise relatively simple hydraulics of the system as remediation efforts have altered the system!

The two pipes was asked as a question in the Kent Wells audio tech update of June 7:

pdf slides:

He didn't know what they were, they would look at it when they retrieve the riser from the sea floor.

My guesses:
* double shear by the blind rams - but hard to see how if the BOP was working so poorly
* when the CRAW (big yellow shear) bites into the pipe, it has two shearing surfaces. Just like it made that tab they had to saw off with the circular saw, I think it nicked a 4-6" long piece of the DP/liner, which folded back 180 degrees as the shear progressed.

So it appears that the test rams worked at least as well as the others. Not surprised about the low pressure loss at the blind ram - uncrushed DP stuck in it.

Any reason they can't unlatch the LMRP? It doesn't appear to be contributing to blocking the oil. Either open the annulars and slip it off the DP, then cut. Or cut first from the inside and remove the whole mess. A new riser and LMRP would pretty much solve the spill problem and not really change the situation in the BOP under the shears.

Welcome to the new riser club!

Cut the bolts!

That's the point. Shouldn't need to cut the bolts. The LMRP was supposed to disconnect automatically by the EDS. If the system is functional, it should only need hydraulic power. A new LMRP/riser would be in place before the first bolt could be cut.

Interesting data about the small pressure drop across the BOP, for sure.

1 - I read somewhere they tried to operate the LMRP latch with the ROVs but it didn't work. Don't know if that means if they tried to unlatch it.

2. - If you attach a new riser you still have a blowout, now at the drill floor of the rig.

Now we are talking!

I have noticed recently the addition of a blue line roughly 1"OD coming from the Skandi ROV 2 that looks like it may go under the cap. Hard to tell. At least it is suspended on the top cap somehow. I can also see this line in side view on the Enterprise - ROV 2.

Any idea what this might be for?? It does not look like the dispersant wand that was in use before but maybe this is a substitute for that? Does anyone know what this is for?

Since BP has closed at least one relief valve on top the cap and are getting more o/g up to the Discoverer Enterprise, it is useless to try and gauge the flow rate by how much o/g is coming out from under the weak seal with the riser. It looks less now, but if they close off another relief valve it could back pressure more out from under the bottom of the cap.

It is frustrating that I have never seen a video of the whole top cap at once. In fact, I've never seen a clear picture of just the top portion showing o/g flowing out of one of the top relief valves. This can only be intentional by BP.

The blue lines on the top hat are for the injection of methanol and hot water into the top hat.

Could the fact that you did not bother to watch the ROV feeds when they installed the top hat and later adjusted the vents on the top hat also be a ploy on the part of BP ?

Occasionally I sleep and do other things.. Thanks for the info

Here's the initial report from the flow projection team. As I said above, they finally have HD video and can better model the flows now--and Ira Leifer (UCSB) was on CNN a while ago saying that the flows were dramatically more than what folks have been saying because of top kill's erosion, etc. He said it could be upwards up 100k bbl/day and that BP's only capturing 15k bbl/day.

We need objective measurements. Now.

Plume Team Draft Report, Flow Rate Technical Group -

It is higher but I would bet against 100K(But given the state of the economy probably not a big bet)

Both Ira Leifer and Steve Wereley seem to be off the reservation compared with their peer group.

The fact that their projections seem to fly in the face of reason - this well is producing twice as much oil as any other well in the history of the Gulf of Mexico and doing it through a choke that is dropping the pressure from 4,400 psi to 2,250 psi - doesn't seem to dissuade them.

Maybe the 15 minutes of fame thing.

Maybe Rockman or someone could venture an opinion if 4,400 psi flowing pressure at the well head is any indication of potential total flow. And if the reservoir pressure is in the 12,000 to 13,000 psi range and the well head at 4,400 psi is that maxed out flow, or due to downhole restrictions, or flow escaping into another formation.

Or maybe the entire task force think the flow rate is 100k and they just aren't speaking up.

Also these two seem to be judging volume based on flow velocity at the cut off riser but the upwards velocity of the leak under the cap seal seems pretty high also and its is entirely due to buoyancy as it is coming out horizontal.

Shelburn: Looking at the detailed cap specs on the DOE site it does not take too much to imagine a relatively thin ring at the rubber gasket along with a look at the small downward distance that the leaking fluid is shooting to get a relatively low escaping total. I still remember the pre top kill leaks on the riser. They looked ominous but were from narrow cuts. Maybe I am an optimist but I can see where all but 4-5k BOPD could be getting collected now. The lower velocity and the gas really do allow for a fast cloud expansion around the gasket but it is a thin veneer as the cap is visible through it.
Maybe just wishful thinking.


As you said in an earlier post, Wereley is assuming that only oil is flowing out of the riser. Using the BP data from the LMRP collection system, we see a GOR of 2,100. We also know that the mouth of the riser 19.5" was bent reducing its opening to about 70% of its original area.

With a GOR of 2,100, the oil fraction is 38% vol/vol. Using the previous values, the oil flow would be 18,400 bopd from the riser. With another 9,200 bopd coming from the kink at the top of the BOP, this brings the total flow to 27,600 bopd before the removal of the riser. With a GOR of 3,000, this flow goes down to 23,700 bopd.

When the riser was removed, the pressure drop decreased and the flow from the top of the BOP increased. If we use the max 20% increase bounced around, the flow may have gone up to 28,500 bopd.

There is significant uncertainty in all these calculations. The Flow Group report estimates it to +-40%.

Looks like we need a "campaign" to call for these measurements. Would 'DEMAND' be too strong a word?

Looks like we need a "campaign" to call for these measurements. Would 'DEMAND' be too strong a word?

No! (Just joking... Well maybe not...)

Wonder what we would do if we knew?

Since researchers are monitoring the effects of the spill, they will be better able to compare observed effects to the magnitude of the spill. That's one very important thing, I would assume.

I also think it will affect people's perceptions of this event. Not sure whether/how it might change behavior, but I can imagine it will be harder to lobby against stricter controls or drilling in certain areas. With greater accuracy, I'm guessing we'll be at a much larger number. (Surely they wouldn't have wanted to try and hide smaller numbers?)

I bet there are many uses for the info.

It is very important to be able to compare the leak rate over time to the surface expression in order to understand how much oil is staying at depth. It is important to keep the ship observations of the plumes going and to try and understand the effects of dispersed and undispersed oil at depth. They should cut off the dispersants for a week or so, monitor the sub surface flow, and continue the dispersant use only if it can be shown with reasonable certainty that any perceived benefits outweigh any potential downside for the Gulf ecology.

This is the first well failure of this magnitude at this depth - knowing the flow rate is critical to developing a better understanding of what the consequences are.

TheraP, Interested Public:

You're both right.

I was making a joke, because once they get a rate, I have a feeling, it won't be agreed on.....

Hear, hear. Thank you.

There's nothing more basic than measuring the flow of oil from this spill. I can't believe BP hasn't been forced to accept independent measuring devices to better estimate the flow.

The argument against it is incredibly stupid: The flow doesn't matter because everything that can be done is already being done. Even if the flow rate had no bearing on the efforts, it still helps the understanding of the spill's effects. But clearly not knowing the flow rate is hurting the engineering of the response: how else to explain the 15000 bpd capacity ship they're rushing to replace?

If there's a visible reduction in the leak rate since the top hat started, it's slight. We need a lot less hand-waving and a lot more instrumentation.

From http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/16/60minutes/main6490197.shtml?ta...

The tension in every drilling operation is between doing things safely and doing them fast; time is money and this job was costing BP a million dollars a day. But Williams [the last person to leave the burning rig] says there was trouble from the start - getting to the oil was taking too long.

Williams said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks.

With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.

And he requested to the driller, 'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up.' And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down," Williams said.

Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called "mud."

"We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe," Williams explained.

That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.

But ... but no one could have foreseen that economic pressures like these might cause people to make a series of bad decisions leading to an un-planned for cataclysmic disaster.

The constraints of the marketplace didn't work too well on this one.

The market doesn't really address externalities.

As the BP shareholders are finding out?

Of course my point is that someone needs to address them. That did not happen here sufficiently. All of the bad decisions were either hidden from view or rubber-stamped without sufficient information/scrutiny.

"All of the bad decisions were either hidden from view or rubber-stamped without sufficient information/scrutiny."

Seems to me that is the definition of negligence, perhaps even gross negligence.

In my opinion, this disaster is not the fault of the BOP or other equipment. The fault lies squarely with the emergency response plan (and the training, organisation and systems behind it). Here it is for those who haven't seen it yet:


Judging by HO’s opening statement, less is known about oil droplet size, the effect of detergents, and oil dispersion into the water column than I had thought.

“Unfortunately the exact droplet sizes, and their relative lifespan at different levels in the water column is going to be partially controlled by the earlier interaction with the dispersant.”

With that in mind, what is known about the effects of injecting dispersants into a mixture of methane, methane hydrates, water and petroleum of variable chain lengths at 2200 psi? Do emulsions of detergent and hydrophobic petroleum molecules form in the same way in these environments as when dispersants are added to the oil at an oil/water interface as in a surface spill?

I am not sure of the methane/petroleum molar ratios, but there has been some discussion of the oil in the reservoir existing as a methane/petroleum solution since the methane is liquid at these pressures. When the methane/petroleum solution contacts the cold water, the methane seems to “precipitate” out as clathrates. If this is correct, what is known about how the binding energies that cause the remaining petroleum molecules to reassemble? With or without the dispersants, what droplet sizes can be expected?

“With the breakdown in size of the oil droplets brought about by the dispersant mixed in with the oil at the well, the exposure of the oil to microbial action is enhanced, because of the very large surface areas which the droplets create. This will speed up biodegredation, but it depends on depth and water temperature, among other factors.”

Clearly increasing the surface to volume ratio will be important for bacterial breakdown, but one of the constituents of Corexit is Tween-20. This molecule is a detergent commonly used for lysing cells (0.05% to 0.5% v/v, see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysorbate_20) because it emulsifies the cell membrane. IMO, The Tween-20 won’t be of much help in allowing the bacteria to digest the oil if the droplets contain the detergent which disrupts the bacterial cell membranes.

As a land dwelling biologist, what is known of the chemistry in deep water environments seems vague to me but may I just don't know where to look for the references.

It's very likely the Tween is going to be in a monomolecular layer at the oil-water surface or as aqueous micelles with an HLB of 16.7.

Not much if any will be in the oil droplet.

If the oil concentration in plumes is sub-ppm as is being reported the Tween concentration might even be below the CMC. If so it certainly isn't going to be solubilizing anything. And it certainly isn't going to be around at anything like 0.05% v/v.

source for Polysorbate 20 in corexit?

What's your source for Tween-20 being a component of Corexit? According to the MSDS,


the detergent component appears to be a proprietary "organic sulfonic acid salt"; that is, an ionic detergent. Whatever this stuff is, it's probably similar to sodium dodecyl sulfate, a potent cell lysis agent.

In a question/answer exchange on Dr. Joye's blog
she had this to say about the nature and effect of the dispersed oil in the plumes:

Is the oil:dispersant mixture in micellar form? Or is the oil in droplets?

The answer is both. It’s likely that some of the oil-dispersant mixture is present as micelles but there are also oil droplets in some of the samples, especially those from near the leaking riser pipe. There is a lot of light scattering in the plumes, this could be due to several factors, including the presence of oil in the water.

Re: sulfonate detergent micelles: what effect does this ionic packaging have on accessibility to the oil of bacteria doing the bioremediation?

Unfortunately, no one knows the answer to this question and it is a KEY question that we need to know the answer to.

At this stage of our understanding, it seems premature to jump to the conclusion that the detergents enhance the rate of remediation by dispersing the oil more completely. They could equally well, from what is KNOWN, be toxic to the bugs we are counting on to clean up the mess.

i dont think tween 20 has anything to do with thier sulfonic acid salt

This is interesting. Hi Speaker to animals!

Concerns go global...Norway is pulling deep water blocks from their upcoming licensing round...


I would like to know if anyone can see clathrates forming in the leak. If not, and assuming then that there are none, can anyone explain why there would be none? And why they would form inside the pipe, but not outside at the 5000 foot depth?

I have often seen material that looks like snowflakes swirling around the leak plumes - thought at least some is the 'methane snow'.

Before the cap was put in place, you could clearly see white plumes of gas surge out from the cloud of black oil into the water, and then sort of evaporate, leaving behind a cloud of white flakes which slowly drifted upward. Looked like clathrate formation in the flesh to me.

It's tougher to see this now that the cap's on.

Shelburn: "A major change from previous information. 4,400 psi at wellhead vs 8,000 to 9,000 psi previously thrown out casually at press briefings."

Right. Presumably, the 8-9K was based upon knowing the reservoir pressure at TD (13K?) and doing simple (at least for you guys ;^) calculations with known values (or good guesses) for things like bore depth, diameter, product viscosity & temp, friction, etc.

So. Was 8-9K always wrong? If not why is the pressure at the wellhead half of what has been assumed (or calculated, or measured)?

Has there been that much depletion in the past month or so? Doesn't make sense to me.

Is a *lot* of product exiting stage left some distance below the wellhead? Makes more sense, intuitively.

If the latter, where is it going?

Or, is the bore intact, more or less, but with new and significant obstructions downhole?


Bingo to which one?

1.Reservoir pressure decrease due to depletion
2. Well obstruction
3. Well underground leaking

4. Coast Guard miscommunicated

oops ..wrong thread.

I think the pressure reported back a month ago as 8,000 to 9,000 psi was a measurement taken at the wellhead. Later, just before and during the top kill BP mentioned the pressures were lower than expected or words to that effect.

Why the drop?

1 - Almost maxed out flow, ie drop in pressure due to increas in flow rate
2 - Downhole restrictions,
3 - Flow escaping into another formation. The sudden switch from top kill to doing nothing to increase pressure on BOP/wellhead/casing or any additional attempt like second BOP to kill the well from the top has always been a bit suspicious.
4 - Other reasons?

#3 has been troubling me greatly from a "gut level" due to the sense I had that they were "surprised" by how much mud/material "dissapeared" during the intial "junk shot/top kill" attempts.
I am concerned that there will not be enough mud flow rate with the bottom kill mud attempt to evercome the flow escaping into another formation problem?
If the flow is escaping, then if the mud pumps can't manufacture enough consistent flow rate to keep enough mud in the system at the RW insertion location (i.e. more mud into system than being released by blow out to formation), then the bottom kill method will not be able to produce the head pressure needed to stabilize the blown out well bore for the bottom concrete plug?
Does anyone here have any idea where the blow out might really be and how it is behaving? Do they create (as built) drawings of the actual well casing structure during drilling process, or is the previously posted design schematic of the well all we have to go by?

#3 has been troubling me greatly from a "gut level" due to the sense I had that they were "surprised" by how much mud/material "dissapeared" during the intial "junk shot/top kill" attempts.

Or they were basing their loss rate on the 5000 BPD oil rate. Now that we know it's really closer to 20-30,000 BPD, they may not be so surprised that the "junk shot/top kill" failed.


First, and most important, thank you for taking the time to help us all understand what is and might be happening here.

Second, as I dimly recall, BP had wanted to attempt another or continue to employ top kill/junk shot. The Feds stopped any further attempts. What were the Feds seeing in the data that worried them? No one who might really know has said. This Fed's action has always raised a suspicion in me that something uncomfortable was changing down well.

However, without more data interpreted by you and others, I am just suspicious is all. And I have this jumpy feeling that more may go wrong because of some ongoing process such as pressure and erosion.

Thanks again for your time and efforts.

When it comes to downhole I know just enough to be really dangerous. Rockman probably wouldn't even let me on his rig, just as I would be skeptical of his changing the oil (biodegradable, of course) on my ROV without adult supervision. And half of what little I know I learned lurking around TOD.

That said, I really can't figure out the truth of the Fed's shutting down BP. Too many political overtones. I'm pretty sure there has always been a group within BP (which always means a few BP engineers and a lot of competent consultants and subcontractors) who were conservatively saying don't touch that well, and another equally competent group who wanted to try. Then you have upper management under pressure from EVERYBODY to DO SOMETHING, even if its wrong. It could be that BP was happy to have "the Feds shut them down" before things got worse.

The government gets to say we're in control and BP doesn't have to explain why they are quitting - win-win.

There was a lot of talk about trying another top kill, installing a second BOP, etc and all of a sudden, after taking the second relief well of line for a number of hours to get ready to set the second BOP it all came to an ABRUPT halt with no explanation.

BP had a lot of pressure readings in various points in the BOP and they had very accurate information on the volume of mud injected so they actually had a lot of information we don't have. About the only thing they seemed to say was that they couldn't push the mud past 1,000 feet down.

As I said suspicious.

I wouldn't worry to much about further erosion, it will continue but it is slowing down and the driving pressure also seems to be dropping. Small chance of a catastrophic change there. My concern is more focused on casing problems and the possibility of an underground blowout. All based on my education by the downhole experts.

shelburn: "My concern is more focused on casing problems and the possibility of an underground blowout."

Does that seem more likely to be a primary cause of the reduced pressure at the wellhead than (new) downhole obstruction and/or Alan's postulated flow increase due to erosion of the passage through the BOP/LMRP (if the LMRP was presenting significant restriction to begin with)?

5 - Erosion of the BOP restrictions over time.

This results in greater flow rates but also a relative shift in pressure drops to the other sources of restriction. Of course, one source (400 to 500 psi drop after BOP) was cut off.


Rockman, correct me if I'm wrong, 5000 ft of seawater = 3000 psi

2250 PSI or a bit less

5,000 fsw = 2,215 psi, better estimates require exact seawater specific gravity, temperature, etc in the water column. Standard conversion is 0.443 psi/1 fsw

let me try to explain is actually just interpretation
everybody here states the pressure is samller now as it was BEFORE but the pressure we are speaking NOW is ABOVE BOP the 8000-9000 psi stated before was taken BELOW BOP
they are not disclosing now how much pressure is there BELOW BOP

we try to compare apples with bananas here

EDIT: srry for my english

The original 8,000 to 9,000 psi from late April/early May was taken just below the BOP.

The March 25th 4,400 psi was taken in the same place so the well head pressure below the BOP had fallen about 4,000 psi during that time.


Increased flow rate had dropped flowing pressure?
Formation pressure had dropped?
Flow into another formation?
or ??

shelburn can you please post a link to the place you took those 4400 psi
can't find it myself

Yes The Oil Spill Is Serious-BUT THIS(Visually) TAKES THE BISCUIT!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmMlspNoZMs

Best. Offtopic. Ever.

A poster in the now closed thread asked for a link to the NOAA sampling results from the R/V Weatherbird cruise ... it is the pdf at Analysis of Hydrocarbons

The link is available as part of an identical press release appearing on both the www.NOAA.gov site http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100608_weatherbird.html

and the www.Deepwaterhorizonresponse.com site ... http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/601411/

The www.Deepwaterhorizonresponse.com site often aggregates press releases that originate elsewhere and is a good place to monitor the general flow of information.

The BP Gulf Response portion of the www.BP.com site contains videos and detailed description of activities(often not detailed enough - they often trigger additional questions).

That's also where the daily 12 hr and 24 hr oil capture figures are posted ... I see they collected 7,850 barrels from midnight to noon today, so they are now pushing the reported capacity limits of the Discover Enterprise.


Perhaps I have it wrong, but I envision the detergent as Intercalating its hydrophobic tail among the oil molecules and having its hydrophilic head facing the aqueous environment with most of the detergent sequesteed with the oil. In your view, the Tween concentration in the micelle or droplet of say ten times the size of the bacterium would be insufficient to disrupt the bacterium's lipid bilayer? I didn't estimate the molar ratios so you may be right that the ratio of Tween and oil necessary to form a micelle won't be sufficient to disrupt the lipid bilayer.

Tween 20 has an HLB ratio of 16.7. This is a measure of the amount of the surfactant molecule that is water soluble vs oil soluble based on fairly simplified structural considerations. Max value is 20 denoting no hydrophobic content, 0 no hydrophilic content. Hydrocarbon has a value of 0, polyethylene oxide would be 20.

Your description of the orientation of the molecule at the surface if good, what's missing is that the bulk of Tween 20 is hydrophilic so not much is interacting with the hydrocarbon.

This also means that anything not at an o/w interface will be in water based on free energy considerations. Above the CMC that will be micelles, below, it will be free surfactant molecules. In the presence of oil the micelles will swell, solubilizing the oil. Given enough oil a continuous oil phase will form in the micelles. More and micelles disappear.

Now this doesn't account for a practical system when there are multiple surfactants present. You can get positive synergies through control of the packing at the interface, and enhancements due to molecular interactions decreasing the free energy of surface formation.


Thank you for that explanation. From what you say, the hydrophilicity of the Tween will mean that its half life in the micelle or droplet will be fairly short, and when concentrations of detergent are low, as will happen not far from the site of dispersant infusion, the detergent will tend to leave the oil in favor of the water to generate a small hydrophobic oil droplet floating in the water column. This would seem ideal for the bacteria since the hydrophobic molecules of oil will readily cross the lipid bilayer to be metabolized in the cytoplasm.

Are there estimates of droplet size generated under the conditions at the well head with and without detergent? Are they likely to be too small to scatter light so as not to appear turbid? Once the droplets form, and are dispersed, are there estimates of critical concentrations for them to recoalesce?

This may becoming of interest since, "The scientists say the plumes are not bubbles of oil, as many people have imagined them, but consist of highly dispersed or dissolved hydrocarbons." http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/us/09spill.html?hp

As I asked upthread, what's your source for Tween-20 in Corexit?


I have not been able to reproduce the reference that Corexit contains Tween-20. Sorry about that.

This is what I have found:

Corexit 9527, a frequently mentioned oil spill dispersant,
was developed for use on open sea oil slicks. This dispersant is
composed of about 48% nonionic surfactants, including
ethoxylated sorbitan mono- and trioleates (Tween 80 and
Tween 85) and sorbitan monooleate (Span 80), about 35%
anionic surfactants, including sodium dioctyl sulfosuccinate
(AOT), and about 17% ethylene glycol monobutyl ether as a
solvent (13).
Apr. 1999, p. 1658–1661

It is my understanding that the Corexit 9500 does not contain the ethylene glycol monobutyl ether which is also known as 2-butoxyethanol.

http://www.mms.gov/tarprojects/395/395AA.pdf is a good reference for the discussion of emulsion breakers.

In its discussion it includes all of the above components and Tween 20 (sorbtian monolaurate +20 mole ethylene oxide). Its HBL value of 16.7 is higher than any of the others.

Re: Eric D's expanding tube. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6572/644146
Too good an idea to throw out with the seawater.
Could it not be "primed" with oil from a pump at the surface to start it off?
If the bottom end needs to be pulled apart to start it, build in a mechanism by which the ROVs can do that. E.g. incorporate a steel cable in the middle of each side at the bottom opening which 2 ROVs can pull in opposite directions.
Try it in a swimming pool first on a small scale to see if it works.
Sorry if this has been already discussed since, I'm way behind and not catching up. (On sleep too.)

See revised version below: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6578#comment-644937

The lower end would open as soon as the bottom fitting (skirt) started receiving oil. Buoyancy would drive it,and there's no pressure differential to oppose it.

I've been looking at this and considering it for the last day.

There are some obvious concerns about current and the forces that would be placed to the "tube", the BOP stack assuming it was anchored to the BOP, and topside.

It would probably need the steel (Kevlar would probably be better) strength members and possibly additional buoyancy or wiehgts at intervals depending on the specific gravity and flow friction forces.

I can also visualize it loose at the top or supported by some surface buoyancy and flapping around like one of those air tubes at the Hummer dealer.

It might be possible to overcome all those concerns but if you deliver the oil/gas flow to the surface essentially uncontrolled you have in effect transferred the blowout from the seabed where it is relatively safe to the surface where the possibility of explosions and fire is very real.

I suppose if you could let it vent to the surface and clear everyone and everything away from it you could burn it but a blowout on fire waving around over an unpredictable half mile circle in the ocean is kind of hard to contemplate.

I don't know how you can handle 25,000 barrels oil and up to 75,000,000 cf gas per day (maybe more) unless it is in a pressurized pipeline.

The methane hydrates might still be a problem but I don't know enough about them to comment.

I see you've already contributed to the discussion after my updated post below (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6578#comment-644937).

You point to an number of important constraints on designs, and challenges that designs must meet.

I picture a coupling at the top that would deliver the flow to a container topside, then into a conventional system of pipes.


Sorry these were on Oct 6, 2008

2008 10 06 at 0830 = 6.3

Earthquakes get reported due to human response, damage, people scared, etc, not actual size. This was 12 km deep and evidently didn't break much - so - no news.

The Haiti earthquake was not particularly special compared to a number of other quakes that month - BUT - shallow, in a highly populated area with no building codes and no infrastructure.

Theoretically it would be possible but here are the problems I see.

You have to direct the flow into a large separator vessel and it must be able to maintain near atmospheric pressure, suction will collapse the tube and more than a few pounds positive pressure will explode it with catastrophic consequences.

Handling the oil should not be much problem. 25,000 bpd can be pumped into tanks with any pump(s) capable of handing about 1,000 gpm.

The gas is different story. 75 million cf/day is over 50,000 cfm. Since the flow is variable and can have surges of gas it would probably need to have at least 10 minutes storage to absorb variations - that's a cube 80 feet on a side. Using some sort of expandable bladder might be easier but still a huge volume.

And the flow velocity when it reaches the ship will be very high. That may require some specialized fittings to attach the tube to the separator. Gas leaks onboard ship are usually frowned on.

You have to have a compressor(s) capable of handling 50,000 cfm at a low pressure to pipe the gas to the other end of the ship to be flared.

But the killer is that you have to be able to shut down the flow onboard the ship for safety reasons. That isn't possible with a mile of the tube already filled with oil and gas and headed your way.

Until you can safety handle the gas at the surface it is still only transferring a blowout from the seabed where it is relatively safe to the surface where it is decidedly not.

There have been numerous ideas presented with a similar concept - piping the flow directly to the surface and this is certainly the best. The only one I've seen that has a chance to make it up there.

Keep working on it or other ideas, they may not be developed in time to help this blowout but I'm sure there will be new technologies developed because of this and yours might be one.

Just thought of another problem. The diameter of the tube is relatively large, I expect at least 12" diameter, maybe much larger to pass 50,000 cfm of gas at near zero pressure differential. In this case the tube might act as the separator vessel with the gas escaping and the oil collecting in the lower portion of the tube. I'm not sure what that would do to the flow but I'm sure it would cause a lot of problems.

Maybe separation at the seabed with two tubes, one for oil and one for gas, might be a thought.

I'm glad you're putting numbers to this to identify problems and possible responses. What I've written to date is far short of my standards for publishable, well-considered work, and I'm glad to see closer look.

Theoretically it would be possible but here are the problems I see...

Handling the oil should not be much problem. 25,000 bpd can be pumped into tanks with any pump(s) capable of handing about 1,000 gpm. The gas is different story. 75 million cf/day is over 50,000 cfm....

But the killer is that you have to be able to shut down the flow onboard the ship for safety reasons...
Until you can safety handle the gas at the surface it is still only transferring a blowout from the seabed where it is relatively safe to the surface where it is decidedly not.

These are important constraints, and I think your remark here points in a good direction:

Just thought of another problem. The diameter of the tube is relatively large, I expect at least 12" diameter, maybe much larger to pass 50,000 cfm of gas at near zero pressure differential. In this case the tube might act as the separator vessel with the gas escaping and the oil collecting in the lower portion of the tube. I'm not sure what that would do to the flow but I'm sure it would cause a lot of problems.
Maybe separation at the seabed with two tubes, one for oil and one for gas, might be a thought.

I think it's clear that coupling a flex-tube to a tube that can hold pressure should be done well below the surface. Rather than going to the seabed, however, consider doing a sloppy gas/liquid separation at a depth like 100 m. The volumetric gas flow is cut by a factor of ten, and a fixed-volume pipe will deliver the gas to the surface at something close to 10 bar for flaring.

As a first cut, picture a chamber more-or-less like this, at a depth of ~100 m, with a fixed-volume tubes in and out, and a coupling to a flex-tube below:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The liquid + gas line takes up more volume than the liquid flow, getting a limited flow of gas with it, and keeping the liquid level in the chamber low. The main gas flow goes up the fixed-volume tube and is ultimately flared.

There have been numerous ideas presented with a similar concept - piping the flow directly to the surface and this is certainly the best. The only one I've seen that has a chance to make it up there.

Thanks! Once the concept started rolling around in my mind, I had to pound on it and put it out here. It has some sweet features.

That's far too logical, powers-that-be will never consider it. Reminds me of the old oil-bath air filters.

Also there's no reason there couldn't be multiples of these, either in series or parallel, depending on what hardware there is at the surface to handle the output, if there's too much oil in the gas flow or vice-versa.

I think Eric has a workable idea.

Attack a submerged 50,000 gallon storage tank to the top 50 or so feet below surface equipped with balast control and pumps to supply tankers or barges with the oil. A flaire pipe from the top center penetrating the surface. Could be positioned well away from other vessels working the well site. Could be dropped to 200 to 300ft depth in hurricane weather and fill a fleet of submarine tankers.

The more I think about it the more I like the idea.

Interesting concept but too small. 50,000 gallons will hold less than 1 hour worth of oil and there is another hours worth already in the pipe heading up. So the size has to be greater in case you have a breakdown or emergency.

The buoyancy system will have to be pretty sophisticated. The ballast difference for a 50,000 gallon tank full of saltwater then displaced with oil is in the order of 35 tons.

You have to control the gas level and if you have a problem with the flare what happens to the gas? If you fill the 50,000 gallon tanks with gas by mistake it suddenly wants to come up - 200 tons worth.

For safety reasons you can't vent it

All problems you can probably solve, but all problems.

Noob with 2 questions.

I realize both are inconseqential but they are itches I want to scratch.

First: What is the obsession with the number of barrels flowing from this uncontrollable well? Whether it is 10,000 or 100,000 shouldn't our primary concern be preventing as much as possible from getting into gulf waters?

Second: There is a hydraulically powered right-angle gear drive mounted on the pipe of the flex joint just below the riser flange. I can't figure out or find out what it does under normal riser conditions. Will someone tell me what it is there for?


The scale of the response depends on the size of the pollution spill.

Example, BP cannot capture any more oil because their one & only ship's processing capacity is maxed out. I called for more capacity topside a month ago. BP was too cheap and likely used their under-estimate to justify just 15,000 b/day processing capacity.


I have read that fines will be based on the number of barrels spilled. Law suits will likely yield bigger awards if the number of barrels is larger.

Yes our concern should be preventing it from getting in the Gulf, but if a larger number is correct we may have to protect the Atlantic seacoast as well. Helps to know in advance so you can be prepared if the loop sends it up the east coast.

BP has a perfect defense. One, they're probably already broke: two; the fine is based upon a number of factors.


Forgive me if this has been discussed already, but why might putting BP under receivership not help pay back more over the long term?


Lawsuits cannot be based off the # of barrels spilled. In the courts the lawsuit award will have to be quantifiable and justified by the damages caused by the spilled oil. It doesn't matter if only one barrel was spilled or 100,000 barrels if I lost $500,000 in income because of it, that's how much I'm suing for.

My thoughts: as any problem a carpenter faces he thinks can be handled with hammers, saws and nails; any problem a lawyer faces he thinks can be handled by legal action (law suits, judgements, new legislation).

Given that our President is a Professor of Law, I believe that he has covered that possibility. If in doubt, Google Justice Department and Louisiana. Even the US atty general is in New Orleans today. Suffice to say, any BP America assets, especially GOM leases, may be seized by the US ( not withstanding the lobbyist influence) to satisfy any potential claims that the administration feels necessary. They will fight about it in court later. Today, it is political and rises in importance.

You have hit the nail on the head for me as to why the flow rates have been underestimated and not enough processing assets/equipment has been staged in the area!!
I have been struggling with the question about why they would not obviously prepare in advance/stage additional processing equipment to capture the obviosly higher flows than the DE can handle for some time.
Do you all think it is it possible that BP/lawyers have been concerned that their assets/equipment will be siezed once they are in the GOM by the US and therefore BP is not staging the necessary assets/equipment in the area because of this reason?
Another post several threads back said they were calling in another ship from the North Sea? to handle extra processing capacity-what a joke that is. Is the ship the property of another company and just being rented? so that they dont have more corp. assets that can be seized once they are close enough to US territory?
The BP corp. philosphy seems to be save money at any cost. This strategy would be in line with that overall corp. philosphy.

Small sanity check needed here. The oil industry has long evolved to the point where the companies outsource most of what they use. None of them own much gear, they lease it. The lost rig didn't belong to BP. This however has nothing to do with avoiding the siezing of assets. When it comes to immobile assets the oil companies are totally over a barrel. BP have invested of the order of 10 billion in the GOM. Wells can't be moved. Compared to the value of Thunderhorse an entire half billion dollar drilling rig is peanuts. It is, and always has been in BP's utmost absolute prime interest to get this leak under control and reduce the spillage as much as possible from day one. The mechanics of discharging this clear goal might be up for question, but the absolute, central to business, nature of the need can't be.

It has also been noted that the spectre of the United States government siezing the assets of an international publicly traded company would cross a line that no-one could imagine ever happening. You might predict that the various political interest groups and factions in the government would prevent it anyway. If it did it would have in impact vastly wider than the leak itself. As precident it would unleash a genie that would never be re-bottled.

Beyond actual damages there is something called punitive damages. Recently the Supreme Court has limited these

Supremes Limit Punitive Damages
In a little noticed ruling, the Supreme Court curbed juries' ability to punish corporate misdeeds.
Jamie Court
Punitive damages are designed to punish wrongdoers for intentional malicious conduct. Awarded over and above compensatory damages, they're meant to teach a defendant a lesson and deter others from similar behavior.
In Campbell v. State Farm (2003), the court overturned $145 million in punitive damages against the insurance giant. It ruled, 6-to-3, that punitive damages must be proportionate to the actual losses suffered by individual plaintiffs. The court did not set an outright cap on such damages, but noted that a ratio of more than 4-to-1 "might be close to the line of constitutional impropriety."


No doubt if oil is still smeared across the gulf, the willingness of a jury to apply punitive damages will increase - although there is now a tie to the damages.

However if the spill is recorded as larger rather than smaller a jury may well heed the client's attorney's description of what the loss is rather than the no doubt much smaller claim presented by BP's attorney. For instance if the spill is magnitudes larger than what BP says it can be argued that it will damage fishermen and the tourist industry for longer than if the spill is perceived to be smaller per BP's numbers. Of course Jury awards can be reduced by higher courts as was done in the Exon Valdez case. But if the spill is perceived by the public to be much larger than BP claims it will be harder for higher courts to overturn. BP hopes to wait it out and the spill will be over and cleaned up and we will be on with BAU. But if they can't contain this thing and it is still spewing at a large rate 10 years from now, and pictures of dirty oily beaches are still around well BP may not be able to get away with it.

OTOH if the crash comes in the next 10 years as some including myself think all this will be unimportant. It will just mean that the number of humans that the planet can support will be less than if we hadn't had the spill. BAU is over.

As I consume ethanol as a result of this disaster I wonder why methanol is being used for anti-freeze. Is ethanol unacceptable for another reason? Is it about money? According to this BP press release story, BP is donating recovered oil proceeds to the pelicans. If methanol degrades the market value does ethanol degrade the value as well. Is car 'gas' not usually 10% ethanol. If I sit here and drink methanol, should I not call 911? What gives? If BP is donating maybe $60 a barrel, shouldn't they also pay the other $4240 in fines to the pelicans too? It is a lie and Washington is in on it because BP is too big to fail and the administration knows it cannot say that now. Of course, Washington cannot save BP now without shooting itself politically. BP is done now only to come back in a different form under new management. The stockholders will eventually see to that, it just might take years.

"But BP expects the collected oil to be sold at a lower price per barrel than regular crude, because of the high concentration of methanol injected into the well. Methanol was introduced as a sort of antifreeze to prevent icelike crystals from forming in the containment cap."


BP said NET profits will be donated. The net profits will be an extremely high negative number. Pelicans loose again.

It is net revenues not profits. It is their 65% of the oil minus the government royalty share. So about 53% of oil times price per barrel.

I suspect, being an oil and gas company, BP (or a partner/customer) may make some methanol from methane, and have it available at "cost". Ethanol is often made by fermentation, as one would rather use ethane or ethene for plastics, so they would have to buy ethanol from somebody on the market (and worry about denaturing, illicit diversion, etc.)
Even on the open market, methanol is cheaper than ethanol:

Also, while methanol has a higher melting point (-97.8 C) than ethanol (-117.3 C),
it is a smaller molecule, so probably makes a better anti-freeze to mix into ice/water better/faster.

Despite methanol being toxic to humans and other mammals,
it is less toxic to "lower" life forms than ethanol.

Seeing quite a bit of yellow in the cap on the WKRG feed. Anybody else noticing this, or is it just a wierd view? Sorry - cant get a screen cap 'cause of the 'rolling' nature of the leak.

It is definitely there. Don't have an explanation.

I thought it was white myself the day it was put on, but on the other hand the fact we are seeing the cap is good news, means more oil is going up the pipe and not in the ocean.

The cap is yellow.....

Sorry-this guy deserves honorable mention.


Police in Grand Isle arrested a man after they said he refused to get out of oil-contaminated water.

Jesus Abraham Mares, 22, of College Station, Texas, was arrested Sunday morning. He was charged with criminal trespassing and remaining after being forbidden.

BP authorities notified Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office officials of the man, who was wading in the water just off the beach in Grand Isle at about 7:30 a.m.

The water and beaches of Grand Isle have been declared hazardous and unsafe for swimming because of existing conditions, police said.

"Mares refused to get out of the water and was physically taken into custody," said Col. John N. Fortunato.

Because of the contaminants on his body, Mares was taken to the decontamination unit on Grand Isle and was hosed down prior to booking, Fortunato said.

Jefferson Parish officials said they want to make sure everyone is aware of how unsafe the conditions are in Grand Isle, and therefore, must abide by instructions given by law enforcement officers.

Anyone refusing to comply or going into restricted areas will be arrested

Gig 'em, Jesus! (College Station = Texas A&M)

I read that when Jefferson Parish officials found out Jesus was an Aggie, they threw him back in. :)

Why did Jesus not just start walking on the surface of the Gulf away from law enforcement?

This is an revised version of a post late last night that got interest and no shoot-downs:

Thinking outside the rigid steel pipe: How a practical, collapsible/expandable flex-tube could solve pressure differential problems, with almost all work done on shore, shipping-container delivery, 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 flex-tube made of a rugged industrial material. The cross section would expand as necessary, and no more. Since both the oil and gas phases are buoyant, the water-pressure gradient will drive both of them to the top (regardless of the messy details of the two-phase flow).

Here's a cross-section diagram:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Materials, placement, and deployment:

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.

Here's a belt on rollers that form it into a trough (it's flat on the return trip):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Here's a page on the Icon line of conveyor belts that says a lot about various kinds, uses, and fittings:

Conveyor Belts.

Mil and marine applications are standard. Here's a cross-country conveyor, and a conveyor shipboard use unloading coal:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The flex-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.

Note, by the way, that the flex-tube deploys flat, 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.

Fabrication and more specifics on materials

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. There are probably other good choices.

An flex-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 flex-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.

A belt that spans "7,500 feet at Bridger Coal Company's north-wing mine operation at Point-of-Rocks, Wyo" and an "eight mile long, 1,300 ton belt will be shipped on 13-foot tall racetrack-shaped reels" (page here):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The tube 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 flex-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 flex-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.


Starting this way: future preparedness

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.


Just a suggestion for thought and analysis, somewhere short of a proposal.

Bernoulli requires that the pressure in the tube decrease inverse to the velocity which negates your zero differential pressure assumption. The tube would pull itself closed, reducing the pressure until the outward elasticity and water static pressure balanced.

my bad.

I neglected the pressure at the top of the BOP. That would be the inflation force, which would make it pretty wide open rigid. the velocity would still tend to pull the tube shut.

From a logistics POV - even if the rubber belt was available (or could be scavenged from a mine or somesuch) could the two 1 mile segments be joined then transported and deployed before the relief well is near completion in about 6 weeks?

On the first point:

Yes, the Bernoulli effect will be part of what determines the internal pressure at any particular place and time. Whatever that pressure is, however, it will be equal to the pressure outside (at a steady state, see below), because the boundary conditions don't allow anything else.

Thinking dynamically, if the tube were completely shut, the fluid speed and Bernoulli effect would be zero. Flow would begin as fluid rose and started to expand the tube (as it would at startup). So, it would start to open up. The equilibrium size of the flow channel isn't at all obvious, but there's nothing to stop it from opening until it accommodates full flow. One way or another, everything will get to the top, and in a steady state, the tube cross-section will be whatever is is when the inside and outside forces (of all kinds) are in balance.

Pulsed flow in the upper tube (not the bottom) could well occur, however, with (I think) only moderate dynamic fluctuations in differential pressure. I don't think that this is a materials strength or fatigue problem, because mine conveyor belts are build like fiber-reinforce tires. The catchment at the top would need a buffer volume, though. The sizes and time-constants suggest that any pulsation would be on the scale of a barrel or so -- not a teaspoon, but not more than a few seconds mean flow. This is the sort of thing that a good fluids guy with the right software could model.

You seem to have invented the fire hose, or the hoses used in pumping out basements.

The term "slug flow" has occurred on this site. The jiggling would prevent clathrate buildup.

Sounds good. The large size would make it real fun to control in a two knot current, but there isn't anything easy about deepwater drilling...

About time and logistics:

This would be a question for a major manufacturer, like Goodyear. If a project went forward, it would get top priority, and as I mention in my illustrated post, multi-mile lengths are routine. Segments are spliced to close a belt loop, or make a longer one, so that's routine. Putting two face to face, applying sealant between the edges, and riveting them together would take time, but long segments could be done simultaneously. I'll bet they have a long factory floor!

Transport is by standard shipping container, and the deployment apparatus could be built into the container as part of the shipment. Belts should deploy nicely, since they're made to go over standard rollers.

A six-week lead time looks short, of course, taking reality into account, rather than just the time needed for the physical operations. I can see two motivations:

  1. As backup method to use on the off chance that the next fix doesn't work (the single relief well has some risk, billions are at stake, and fabricating rubber belts in, for example, a plant in Marysville, Ohio would cost nothing by comparison, wouldn't get in the way of anything else. (Making a primary article and backup, preferably.)
  2. You never know when a ready-to-deploy system (able to wrap around almost any leaking piece of wrecked equipment, and able to carry all the leaked fluid to a single collection point topside) might be useful. Make two, plan to test one just for drill.

Also, the zero-pressure-differential, large flow capacity, and potential for a wide collection skirt might have application to a leak outside a pipe. Initial water volumes can be small, there's no pressure to force in more, and hydrates would be like ice on a rubber tarp. If they form and get thick, give it a whack and they'll fall off. There are all sorts of advantages to low pressure and flexible materials.

It would be nice to have something that might work in a case like that.

If it was strictly liquid flow that would be a problems but you have a continuously expanding gas which should keep the tube "inflated".

the incredulous one on June 8, 2010 - 1:52pm


"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."

Doesn't the incredulous one have something there?
If there's "nothing" on the inside when it goes down, won't there be a vacuum which needs to be overcome? (Which is why I suggested priming with oil.)
What about a sink trial, followed by the swimming pool?

I think it's something like when you try to suck lemonade up through a straw that isn't rigid.

My gut feeling says you'd need to have an excellent coupling to the top of the BOP or whatever to enable the pressure to push the oil up the collapsed tube. Not necessary when the tube is rigid as is proven by experience.

See my "Zeroth order analysis" here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6578#comment-645064

I think it makes the situation clear: to a first approximation, it's just like oil floating to the surface, but wrapped to keep it in a single stream.

No pushing from the bottom, and not like sucking on a straw.

See also http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6578#comment-645028
Experimental work is in progress already.

The tube is open ended so the pressure will equalize. If the tube is collapsed the oil/gas flow (buoyancy) should open it, unless blocked with hydrates.

Shelburn is right, and I'd add that brittle hydrates would have a hard time building up on the wall of a wide, flexible tube full of turbulent fluid. Especially with the option of pounding from outside.

The zero wall-pressure differential property, inherent in the system, means that not much water would flow in through a leaky seal, post startup.

A general remark...

A way to think about the system

A zeroth-order analysis goes like this:

  1. The fluids are buoyant and tend to rise to the surface, but they've been mixing with seawater and spreading all over.
  2. Something that does nothing but keep the fluids separate from the water would let them rise in a single stream.
  3. A soft-walled tube can do this, preventing mixing, keeping the stream together, and delivering it to a single point on the surface.

The first and second order analysis won't change the basic principle.

Eric, very impressed with your solution and technical savvy. In fact have been testing a scaled system that includes your concept in a 10 foot tank with up to about 90 GPM oil flow for analysis and news media. Not sure what your background is, mine being physics and what not, would be great to chat with you. E-mail me at jjurbanus5@yahoo.com and I can E-mail you back my phone number.

Hurrah, and thanks!

This is great news. I'd hoped someone was pursuing this approach, and preferably not just on paper or keyboards.

Experiments like yours can model a wide range of dynamical effects, including pulsed flow, by using fluids with a range of densities and viscosities, etc. It's important for people to know that small experiments can answer many questions. I recommend using the aeronautics analogy, pointing to wind tunnel experiments and Reynolds numbers.

I hope that my digging up some options with respectable industrial-materials and production credentials helps you make your case. Please use freely.

I'll write to you.


I've been looking at this and considering it for the last day.

There are some obvious concerns about current and the forces that would be placed to the "tube", the BOP stack assuming it was anchored to the BOP, and topside.

It would probably need the steel (Kevlar would probably be better) strength members and possibly additional buoyancy or weights at intervals depending on the specific gravity and flow friction forces.

I can also visualize it loose at the top or supported by some surface buoyancy and flapping around like one of those air tubes at the Hummer dealer.

It might be possible to overcome all those concerns but if you deliver the oil/gas flow to the surface essentially uncontrolled you have in effect transferred the blowout from the seabed where it is relatively safe to the surface where the possibility of explosions and fire is very real.

I suppose if you could let it vent to the surface and clear everyone and everything away from it you could burn it but a blowout on fire waving around over an unpredictable half mile circle in the ocean is kind of hard to contemplate.

I don't know how you can handle 25,000 barrels oil and up to 75,000,000 cf gas per day (maybe more) unless it is in a pressurized pipeline.

The methane hydrates might still be a problem but I don't know enough about them to comment.

Cross-reference post -- Some of these topics are now discussed here:

There exchange there prompted an updated concept that proposes to deal with some of the high-volume gas problems by doing a sloppy gas/liquid separation at about 100 meters depth, then taking the gas and liquid flows to the surface separately through fixed-volume pipes. This gives gas at the surface at about 10 bar. Diagram included.

This also provides a subsurface point that might work for an emergency flow diversion and dump.

Congrats EricD
Me and some other TODers were kicking this around a few days back and were getting lambasted. I think somebody made an obscure reference to an I Love Lucy show and a shower curtain? perfect
after thinking about my paragraph below,I'm wondering about the gas/water/ice thing
So one of my thoughts is; if the first say 1/3 of the "shower curtain" was semipermeable would this allow the gas to escape and disperse to much safer concentrations? In other words, (I'm bad at words bear with me)once the curtain is erect with the help of the gas and the oil is rising due to buoyancy, isn't there a point up the curtain where the weight of the oil would work to force the gas out of a semipermeable material?
any way , good job


In the idea you outline, what to use for a material and driving force aren't obvious.

In another comment -- http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6578#comment-645200 -- I look at a way to separate gas at some distance below the surface to bring it up through a fixed volume tube at a moderate pressure.

The essence of your idea, though, is to do the separation (by some means) deep enough to get rid of the gas without causing a problem at the surface.

This is clearly a sound idea, and I'd bet that there's an attractive implementation that would involve directing the flow though a reasonably small and simple gas separator, placed deep enough to do what you suggest. With just liquids traveling up the tube, the system should be very well behaved.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I swear it now looks that plume/spew is on fire.

Is that even possible?

I agree I have noticed that myself, I said it was weird and my father surmized that it looked like fire but he said that should not be possible.

if you are looking at skandi II than you are seeing the yellow cap through the thin curtain of oil as the flow increases look at skandi I it is clearly more visible, II has lighting issues that make it look orange instead of yellow.

I see a lot more white in the plume, which I think means gas.

Skandi ROV1 is deploying dispersants. I believe that may be the source of the white "smoke" you are seeing.

Ah! They must have changed the location of the kerosene "wand"! I think I see it now - closer to the cap than before.

BP told MMS there was no sulphur in this trend.

It does have that look I admit but I believe what you are seeing is very good news. The leaking oil is less and you are seeing the yellow color of the containment cap. There is another view you can even clearly see the number 4 on the side..

Visible change in the "gas"-ket outflow at the tophat. We are seeing more of the tophat through the oil/gas.

Pressure lowered in tophat somehow?

Look at the other side.....its billowing out. Skandi ROV 2
There is some serious black coming from there. The gain (exposure) on the video, is way up. Look
at the highlight (bright areas) they are blown out, with no detail at all.

Nobody can say what BP is doing at this very moment, but based on the reports the recovery rate for oil has been roughly the same for a day or two now. That makes me wonder if the flow from the well has dropped off a little.

That idea worries me a bit as it makes me wonder if the well might be losing oil/gas to bedrock formations uphole from the reservoir.

Isn't it possible that this well is running out of steam?

Or it is not common for formations of this type to get depleted of pressure this soon?

makes me wonder if the well might be losing oil/gas to bedrock formations uphole from the reservoir

Maybe so.

What's the purpose of linking to a live feed that may be showing something different 3 hours later?

Do you know what 'jpeg artifacting' is? How about sensory deprivation? Stare at nothing for long enough, and your brain will invent stuff to pass the time.

Oh, c'mon, go have a look. He's still there. Black billows on the seafloor. Just watch the video. It's not an illusion or a trick. He's there to monitor it. I brightened this screenshot so you can see the hydrate snow. And it's a fairly large area being surveyed. Compare the coordinates. A three-hour tour.

I looked. It is hard to say exactly what it is. But it does appear to at least give the illusion of something bubbling up from the bottom. I am not convinced that is what it shows, however. I can imagine explanations other than oil of gas that would make sense.

There have been many ROV views of the seafloor, often for long periods of time. The bottom is white when illuminated by ROV lights. Except this one. I have two simple questions, please. What is this survey for? (long dives, same pictures of black billows and hydrate snow) Why so far from the wellsite?

He's in the vicinity of the well site - he just drove up and took a quick look at the cap and flow from below. The fins, billowing cloud and one ROV attendant were clearly visible. Sorry - didn't get a screen capture.

From the location it appears the ROV may be at one of the relief wells.

He is probably parked in his cage and just standing by, probably with no pilot in the seat.

Since it takes a few hours to go to the surface and back they won't unless there is a need to fix something, change a tool or move the vessel.

"Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?"
"By the mass, and ’tis like a camel, indeed."
"Methinks it is like a weasel."
"It is backed like a weasel."
"Or like a whale?"
"Very like a whale."


Almost spewed my morning coffee all over my computer after that! Funnny stuff-enjoyed it!

I agree with everone that an optical illusion or difraction of hot lights or something is the simplest explanation for the fire like effect. It's just VERY strange. It seems reasonable that just the right mix of disperant, oil and gas hits reflexcts just right to return that red hue. But I think the point here is to question when did something seem to have changed. Does anyone know how long this has looked like this? I just noticed around 9:30pm 6-8, the lighting and ROV position have remained solid for quite some time.

To me it appears that the flow out of the bottom of the cap has been reduced somewhat. This, possibly in combination with brighter lighting, makes it possible to view the yellow cap assembly through the flow. Result: the fake fireplace illusion.

Edit: I am viewing from only one side of the assembly so a ocean current shift rather than a flow change MAY be responsible. The extracted-to-the-surface numbers tomorrow should be interesting. One possibility for the visible change is that they are capturing more oil up the pipe than at 8:00am this morning, which was reported to be ~ 16,000 bbls per day rate. This would be very good news.

Thanks to the work of others here who have shown that a fully successful relief well is far from certain due to mud volumes and pressures required more than eventually finding the blowout well casing, a good plan B may be to capture as much of the flow as possible indefinitely .

Let's let BP tell us what they're doing:

Subsea operational update:

• For the first 12 hours on June 8th (midnight to noon), approximately 7,850 barrels of oil were collected and 15.2 million cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

• On June 7th, a total of approximately 14,800 barrels of oil were collected and 30.6 million cubic feet of natural gas was flared.

• Operations during this period were stable.

• The next update will be provided at 9:00am CDT on June 9, 2010.

Updated June 8 at 5:30pm CDT / 11:30pm BST

Check in any time at http://www.bp.com/extendedsectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=40&contentId=7061813

Hopefully that comment was sarcastic, because I didn't quite get humor from it.

Wait for BP, I dont think so (others clearly do of course). Clearly BP won't be fully transparent, clear and immediate about its updates. I just read online that BP estimates a worst case scenario of 250k barrels a day. Thats the first time I've heard that since this mess began 50 days ago.

I dont have to go back on CNN far to see BP having far smaller estimates. Not sure if the called the worst case, but regardless. This scenario is like my son saying, "well i lost some homework.. Well a few weeks worth.. Ok so I didnt turn my homework in all year... " and he's nine.

My math says that if this rages on for six months, worst case (current estimate) this could gush as much as the Gulf War Oil Spill. How could that happen you say?

Looking at our history, you can see that the Lakeview Gusher actualy got worse (more barrels per day) as time went on, here the situation could be similiar Lakeview Gusher. If the well can erode away sediment (from somewhere inside) pressure could increase daily 'maybe'. I'm no expert so argue me if you wish, but this could mean eventual blowout of the BOP completely.

Thinking worst case here!

Looking at it in a more simplistic way, the Lakeview Gusher which dumped 1.2 million tons did so because the technology had no way to stop the flow at the time.

Worst case we could be looking at the same situation which means we better hope the relief wells do the job since it would be our only measure.

Lakeview gusher did it in 18 months, with this current worst case estimate, this well must be at higher pressure. They only drilled to 2440 feet.

Why you say.... Well from what I can tell BP can't even turn a nut at 5000ft very easily.. I watched for hours as the tried to just grasp and turn a simple feed line. Also consider while the Lakeview gusher was above ground, think of the tremendous pressure this well could be at this deep down and us not even realize.

Here again I think we see that we are drilling at depths beyond our technical ability to control. BP spent allot of time pounding chest about great technology. Great technology to drill deeper I agree. But business interest is really in drilling deeper.

I'm sure this board has seen this rant a few times, but its nice for someone to step up to the plate and get some reality on the situation.

How about realtime video of the surface activity? Are you kidding? Sure I am, nobody would want to see that!

Ahh but now I'm just another blog flammer wasting his time on something I'm powerless to control....

I only know if this were my job... I'd have been fired on day 5.

Rachael Madwow has said that it has already delivered 39,000,000 bls. That would be a flow rate of near 1,000,000 bls per day, and that is before the volume increased because of the riser shearing. Then there would have to be included the millions of bls of dispersent that one fellow claims have been used. Those numbers add up to make it a big deal, or at least a scarey story.

She corrected herself during this evening's broadcast - she said she meant to say 39 million gallons yesterday.

At some point the flow from the well - direct collection - dispersants operations benefit - skimming/burning operations becomes a negative value. I think they have to be close to announcing this type of news.

Have you seen the skimming "operations?" Ahandful of ships out in a huge space, all clustered around the leak site. No one who has flown over the site would believe that....

9:11PM CDT

They've helpfully got a cursor marking the dark spot in BOA ROV1 ....


No way--the 'fire' can't be brighter than the yellow cap. A different color but not brightr. The orange is either glowing or being backlit by another rov. Watching the plume of orange I think something else has gone wrong. It does not look backlit.

The orange you are seeing is the yellow cap.....the red in the camera is way up on that side. All the cameras gains are up to make it look less black......

I dunno. Looks very strange. At first when it was said that it was lighting and ROV's showing through, I figured it was so, but then I look some more and-------

I dunno. Looks very strange.

And gain, yes, that would explain a lot. I think.

For the record, the only things I know about any of this I've learned from TOD over the last several weeks. That being said, I've seen the flames several times in the last several days. It clearly is flames. Since the weekend there's been what I think someone called a flare, but a basically a wand waving around with fire coming out of it you could see in various feeds depending on the camera angles.

As of 12:36am EST you can see the wand waving around at the bottom center of this feed:

In this feed you can very clearly see the flames coming around from the side of the tophat:

When the flame billows out more than usual you see it in this feed:

Sometimes it has burned strong and sometimes hardly at all over the last several days. I wondered if recently they were goosing it with the dispersants or something like that or whether it just sometimes caught more solidly than other times.

I had two layman's thoughts on why they were doing this... one was that they were doing this to help ward off the formation of the clathrates, and the other was simply to burn off the gases/any oil they can at the source instead of cleaning it up later. I'd love it if someone who knew more about it could provide insight as I've not seen much conversation on this since I noticed it several days ago.

It's not flames, it's the yellow of the pipe showing through the oil plume.

I find that terribly difficult to buy, that it's the yellow of the cap. In the second feed I linked above, the herc6 skandi feed, you can clearly see the yellow at the bottom as compared to the orange of the flames. They are not the same color, gain or not. And the cap color wouldn't change orange/yellow dynamically as visibility billowed up with the plume.

You're seeing the yellow through the plume which is changing the color. Look at all the feeds, that one camera has a saturation and gain which is higher than all the other cameras, hence the really vivid colors.
I think people that want to see a flame are going to see a flame, I really don't think that's what you're seeing. It clearly looks to me like the pipe as viewed tinted by the plume that appears in front of it.

no flames...take two different cameras same picture guarantee me they will look the same how do you know herc 6 and herc 14 are fitted with the exact identical recorder ? no flames you know it come on man.

Are you directing your comments towards me? I don't think herc 6 and 14 should look the same. They're clearly completely different lighting, camera, and angle. The flames look different in color between the two feeds, but they are consistent across the each of the feeds.

I'm simply commenting that I don't think the color of the tophat dynamically changes orange/yellow, in the same places, as the view billows from the plume within either of the feeds.

they sure dont look like flames to me. That is about the craziest thing i have read all day... google underwater flames and one of the top results is www.rumormillnews.com saying the rig is on fire....
and to top it off B-fargedingP did say they were bringing in a vaporizing tool to burn off collected muck...this is hilarious though am looking at videos of real under water fire it looks not like this you guys are being silly with this on purpose and for the first time i and agree wit the notion that this here blog is getting with the silly commotion and not with the science. I mean claiming the BOP is miles away seeping residual oil is one thing but saying its a BarBeQue is off your rocker man.

Well I'll just go back to lurking then. By no means am I trying to stir up crazy rumor news rediculosity. I'm simply trying to understand what I see by having discussion in a discussion thread on a site I respect and have followed closely for several weeks.

I didn't note any science in your comment. Just rudeness. I find that takes away from the site's appeal quite a bit myself.

For there to be a fire there has to be OXYGEN to combine with the fuel.
There is no free OXYGEN at 5,000 feet sub sealevel.
It is just impossible.

Takes three things to have fire:

Fuel - we have methane and oil plenty fuel
Ignition source - pretty rare at 5,000 feet but theoretically possible
Source of oxygen - Nope, nada, none

Therefore no fire. If there was any possible chance of fire they would have to be taking precautions.

One advantage of an underwater blowout is that it is relatively safe compared to a topside blowout.

Just ignore the ROV smoking over in the corner.

Source of oxygen - Nope, nada, none

Thanks for answering this question

I was too embarassed to ask it myself

well, it sure the hell LOOKS like flames.

I guess we are in minority, those who think it may actually be.

On the other hand I can't decide if I actually think it may actually be.

But dang it, it sure the hell LOOKS like flame. At times.

Back lighting.

Yellow ROV showing thru the spew.

High gain.

I want to KNOW. Some body convince me my eyeballs are lieing to me. Please.

Not on fire. Yellow cap coated in orangish oil and viewed through a oddly adjusted camera lit by weird color temperature lights. The yellow paint just looks like yellow paint from the other two ROVs on station.

Have you ever noticed what firefighters use to put out fires?

I think we're seeing "lo resolution" images and this doesn't help.

Today BP released some hi res video, but it isn't on their spill cams.

News report - Sen Nelson & hi res video.


its the cap enough of this fire nonsense.

burning strong? sheesh

The cap is not as high as this optical illusion thing is presenting. It's just not.

Are you looking at the feeds when you say this?

Look at this feed, stare at it.
You will occasionally get a good view of the yellow pipe and you will see the scratches which will be there next time you see another good view.


open in second monitor every day...the gulf belongs to me i just let people like you use it but it is my gulf they are messing up. you can use it if you want but you cant have it.

The cap is that high watch both of skandi's feeds side by side, one looks yellow like the paint job on the cap the other looks yellow but orange cause who knows what but not "flames" do you think flames would roll and billow around a mile down burning kerosine? i dont know really do you think they would i am asking anyone....would they look like orange flames or something else...

Those sir, are not flames

I know exactly how ignorant I am. And it is significant. When I consider my ignorance, I then know, beyond a shodow of a doubt, that I do not know what the heck I am seeing. I suppose nothing.

When someone explains to me in scientific terms, (put in a laymans fashion that even I can understand) why what my eyballs tell me are flames, can not be flames, then I will know that they are not. Proably not untill then.

So far all I have heard are various theories, some with big holes in them.

So far I am neither convinced it is or it isn't.

I am not stubborn, nor did I nor do I wish to cause anyone any consternation. And I apologise to anyone if I have.

This is a great informative site, best there is regarding this tragedy, and I thank each and everyone here for their time and knowledge and willingness to share.

Please believe than my hadle has nothing to do with my questions. I really just honestly wish to understand for sure what I am seeing.

Thanks again.

take no offense i am a crazy person!

Oh, no, I took no offense, I'm genuinely concerned that anyone here might take offense.

Really though, I'm ignorant enough to not know if methane/natural gas will or will not burn under water.

A simple question, isn't it? And I honestly wouldn't know. Will it?

No. Methane is a fuel, needs an oxidizer to burn - gaseous oxygen, which is not available underwater. Things that do burn in water have their own oxidizer mixed in.

neither do i in SOME situation maybe there would be a way to produce methane flames or kerosene of corexit or oil to look like a wooden house burning down a mile under water but i would not know that i know that if you see smudge on side of yellow cap and then smudge is covered by oil then the oil thins you see the same smudge here the same scratch there and a number 4 sometimes i will try and screen grab but am multitasking.

once again not flames.
by the way if you google underwater flames one of the first results is rumormillnews claiming a giant underwater fire on the bop started by obama's fire eyes and cheney's acid piss, and pat robertson sees the devils face

My gawd you're right. Fetch the MOAB!

What is happening IMO is your brain is interpreting it as fire and filling in the visual blanks so you actually see fire. It is used to seeing fire look very similar to that for decades I imagine, but has never seen anything like this before to distinguish quickly.

Ms Palin and i can smell the fire under the water from here. Later perhaps we can get together and have a cigar while snorkeling.

I'll retrack rhat and say some backlighting is afoot.

Let me make a point that will become ridiculously obvious once I make it.

To estimate the amount of oil that is seeping out of the Gulf requires an estimate of the oil that is available to seep out. Which means someone has an estimate for the fraction that seeps. Divide the amount that seeps by that fraction and you have the amount of oil in place (OIP).

If we don't believe that someone knows this fraction, then someone else has evidently executed some approaches to figuring out an average concentration of oil in the seawater through sample assays and knowledge of the mean residence time. Kind of like what we would do for CO2, where you can actually estimate how much FF we have burned by how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, and its long residence time. If that is the case, we should ask that person to estimate GOM OIP, because it looks like they know what they are doing!

By the same token, if we ever start seeing natural seepage going down, we know we have really hit GOM peak oil as the oil bathtub has started to drain significantly!

I am only halfway serious, but I think we have all grown sensitive to estimates being made and the assumptions and premises that support them.

Seeps in GoM are from young, shallow, biodegraded reservoirs. No relation to light sweet oil in deepwater. Original oil in place OOIP in the Gulf of Mexico is so huge as to be nearly incalcuable. The Perdido Fold Belt is mostly unexplored. Reserves growth is a GoM story told many times.

Only to a geologist is something incalculable.

Like the fable of South Eugene Island demonstrated, reserve growth is much less than expected.

The charade goes on.

"...reserve growth is much less than expected."

Darn. So there really *aren't* 200 billion barrels in the Caspian?

Sorry. I think this is all making me punchy.

No. It is statements like these from a former Chevron geologist:

"We're dealing with this giant flow-through system where the hydrocarbons are generating now, moving through the overlying strata now, building the reservoirs now and spilling out into the ocean now," Cathles says.

See the story of Eugene Island:

Could an undersea quake in the GOM have made things worse? At another blog etc, I gathered the following (not sure of accuracy):
Around 10 p.m. on Feb. 10: magnitude 5.2 quake, around 160 miles south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico. Depth (locus) said to be 5 km (below sea level or below ocean floor, I'm not sure. It didn't get much attention since it was out at sea (but seems to me, someone should have been thinking "will this affect drill rigs" etc. Anyone else hear about this, think it could have affected what happened? Accounted for further troubles, the alleged secondary leaks, etc?

Could an undersea quake in the GOM have made things worse?

It does not seem likely that the quake which you described would have much of an effect. I suppose that if the well were very close to the epicenter that it could have some effect, but this one was not close at all.

Al – There is an outside chance. The sea floor slope south of the mouth of the Miss. River is well known for slope failure. A number of wells/platforms have been destroyed by slides. An earthquake could liquefy these sediments similar to what happened in San Francisco years ago. But I suspect the area of the BP blow out is too far south. But maybe not.

Everything you ever wanted to know about earthquakes:
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php Search functions are available.

There were two earthquakes on Feb 10, 2008, one 6.3 and one 5.2 both about 25 miles SW of New Orleans on land (well, swamp).

Earthquakes can easily set off mudslides in the delta area. Mudslides are common and the pipelines and platforms are specially designed to accommodate them. The pipelines have special breakaway connections that seal to keep from spilling the product.

I don't know what effect earthquakes might have downhole or to the geology surrounding the wells.

Along those lines the discussion about "nuke the well" made me think that a great way of wiping out a large portion of the oilfield would be to drop a nuclear depth charge so that it would penetrate a few hundred feet into the mud in the Mississippi Canyon area.

The mud in the delta is like a compressed fluid and I can't think of a better medium to propagate shock waves. You might take out every oil well and pipeline for a 50 mile radius (I'm no nuclear expert, just guessing), maybe even start a large enough mudslide to hit New Orleans with a tsunami.

Mud will propogate a pressure wave really well, but It won't hardly propogate a shear wave.

Something like a nuke, or high explosives is a point source and will generate a big pressure wave but little to no shear wave. This is the idea behing using a nuke to crush a well in order to shut it off.

OTOH an earthquake is a ripping motion that has both a shear and a pressure component. One could reasonably expect that a well near the epicenter of a big quake could experience a big pressure spike followed by shearing forces acting on the surrounding bedrock that could lead to some bad effects like cracked/broken casings, and breifly overpressured reservoirs.

I don't believe you - lets experiment.

[snip] Thanks Shelburn. I missed it.

According to a search at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/, there were no earthquakes in that area at any time this year. The nearest thing I can find to a match is a magnitude 3.8 that struck on Feb 10, epicenter 40 miles west of Chicago, IL.

Reading Shelburn's post: agh! 2008?! You didn't say 2008! Ignorant Yankee here, no boots on the ground, I just go by what the Internet tells me.

No, wait. I can't find Shelburn's earthquake either.


And anyway, a magnitude 6.3 in *Louisiana*? That'd make national news if it happened in Los Angeles. In Louisiana, it'd be the end of the world.

Now I'm all confused.

On June 8, 2010 at 9:07 pm on oildrum.com MichaelWSmith wrote:

"E L wrote:

This blow out is without a doubt the largest dog pile in legal history.

Well, that is, evidently, what you are fervently and feverishly hoping is the case. Perhaps your wish will come true and this will indeed be the disaster you so long for. Or perhaps it will be far less damaging than what you dream of. If so, how sad for you and all your fellow venom-filled, envy-eaten haters circling this accident like human vultures."

I hope that all the readers of TOD keep in my mind that this statement is the tone that Mr Smith thinks is appropriate for TOD and will view his future comments here with this statement in mind.

But I must say it's a pretty impressive rant, at that.

I found use for the "flag as inappropriate" button three times.


He's been on a sanctimonious tear since he registered.

Alan: Thank you. BWD?

Sorry, you lost me with BWD.


This is a VERY INTERESTING conference call Kent Wells of BP gave yesterday. He dances at times but talks directly about their present efforts and plans.


Highly recommended.

Why No FRTG Model to Determine the Maximum Discharge from the BP Well Based Upon Hard Data?

The quantity of the flow from the BP well is of great interest. Hopefully soon, the quantity of HC being measured with excellent precision topside, will be related to a good estimate of the uncontrolled flow below. Although actual measurement of the bottom side flow would be best, it seems doubtful that the means to do it can be done, without risk of interfering with collection and downhole conditions.

"From the opening of the 5/27 FRTG report:

Three independent methods considered by the FRTG place the minimum oil flow rate at greater than 12,000 barrels per day. Two of the methods determine that the flow rate could be as high as 19,000 barrels per day. The team using video to analyze the plume believes that the flow rate could be at least 12,000 to 25,000 barrels per day. Therefore, the area of overlap of all three methods ranges between 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. These are all preliminary estimates.

To my surprise, the FRTG is using three exotic methods, fun for PHDs, but reports large uncertainties. Less than helpful is that they can offer only a lower bound. Its seems the bulk of confidence in the range of reported flow comes from a loose reliance on the law of large numbers. For this reason, public speculation of any amount short of infinity is as reasonable as not.

There is nothing novel about what follows. In fact, it’s so basic I'm at a loss to understand this FRTG group. (We are all missing a Richard Feynman to cut through the BS.)

This method has advantages: 1) Start with 1st principles and I mean 1st, using only hard data available from BP. 2) Speak a language that BP and jury can understand. 3) A low order bottom up model, without refinement will initially overestimate. The burden to introduce additional load elements and higher order effects will be on BP to justify.

Start with a Zeroth-order or maybe 1st order model:
Given: The total flow = [flow into sea] less [flow recovered topside].

The pressure at the well reservoir is modeled as a pump that can supply infinite flow. On a Pressure v.s Flow (PF) graph this is represented as a horizontal line intercepting the y-axis at the magnitude of the pressure back calculated from last mud column data before blowout.

This pump sees many possible elements that restrict the flow to less than infinite.
What is the Zeroth-order restriction? The length and diameter of largest casing string that can directly communicate flow with the BOP entrance. The model simply has a cylinder of large diameter free flowing into the ocean. Treat this flow as laminar. Draw load line line (not exponential) from the origin of the PF graph and extend until it intersects the pump line. Draw a vertical to the flow axis to read off the flow.

Report this value to BP and the pubic. BP won’t be happy, or the public for that matter. Twenty-five BP engineers will immediately be put on the task of refining the model with data.

The flow is further restricted because really it's flowing through the drill pipe? Prove it.
The flow is viscous? Prove it.
Turbulent? Prove it.
The BOP is a large source of pressure loss? Prove it.

Just saw a video on cnn.com, with Anderson Cooper and some guy, showing a hardware model of the top of the BOP and riser. They are showing that the cut end is like the diameter of a big garbage can, which means that the amount of oil increase after the riser was cut, could have been a LOT more than the 20% they estimated.

Can someone knowledgeable comment on whether their 'model' is a credible representation of the size? Video is at http://edition.cnn.com/video/ under 'How much oil is leaking'?


I'm not knowledgeable but to me it seems like it can't be right. If the bent pipe was the damaged riser then he should have lifted the bent pipe off of the trashcan. Instead he lifted the lid of the trashcan which would be like cutting off the top of the BOP in my view anyway. He went from a 20 something inch pipe to I think he said 54 inches? I don't think that's right.

The trash can and stove pipe were about the right size but when he lifted it off he said now you have a wide open flow and that is patently incorrect.

There is still a proven (by pressure readings) restriction in the BOP and a probable restriction downhole.

The fact that there is still a 18.875" cut off section of riser instead of an open trash can really doesn't matter in the light of the BOP restriction - either a 24" or 18.875" pipe, or an 8"pipe, can easily carry the flow coming out of the BOP.

Garbage in = Garbage out = US media.

CNN has overdone itself in providing false and misleading information this past month. Journalistic integrity has gone the way of BP transparency.

Nevermind, I reread what you said with attention to comprehension. I guess I was looking at the whole thing as a literal example. Taking the lid off and not just the pipe at the top was wrong but I see you're saying that doesn't matter theoretically. I do realize that people have said on here that there is obviously a restriction of some kind in the BOP so even if they did "take the whole lid off" it still wouldn't be a wide open flow.

Particularly "impressive" (CNN) was having a daytime weatherman assure the public weeks ago that he was "100% sure" the containment dome was going to work.

A lot of times I've noticed TV news will get the weatherman to do anything science-y. Apparently a lot of stations have the weatherman explain earthquake news. Arguably this is best science person among the available staff, but still... kinda like having a botany show hosted by a dentist. Or vice versa. There are other humans available!

I found that to be bogus. They did not give the dimensions of the trash can, i.e. a 32 gal, a 55 gal? Then, the internal diameter of the pipe is 18", outer is 21". A 32 gal trash can top rim is about 24" internal diameter a 55 gal is minimum 27" and these vary, depending on size, type of round trash can.

The diameter of the cap is vague, it says 4' but is that internal or with the flares?

So, they keep showing the video without the cap, which of course was the maximum flow and they also ignoring the experts which are pointing to top kill as the culprit which increased the flow and in watching this day after day, I would not be surprised if that is the conclusion in their report.

Then quoting 250,000 bpd, is fear mongering to me as well. We do not know the conditions this worse case scenario was under to give such a number. Supposedly if everything under the sun went wrong on this well, it was 160,000 and then quoted later as 100,000 bpd.

But is that the max capacity of this well with a BOP, no matter how damaged and the pipes?

That's a massive well if so.

A lot of this is BP's fault. They should muzzle their attorneys trying to avoid liability and costs and put the engineers in charge and get all numbers public. Their perpetual low balls and denials have ruined their credibility when it's pretty obvious there are some amazing engineering efforts really going on. This continual guessing game with wild numbers being thrown out, as if the real ones are not bad enough, would stop if they just threw the attorneys down the well.

RO: "A lot of this is BP's fault." The CEO, that is final decision maker at BP, and the public face of BP has been Tony Hayward. He is a geologist. He reads memos from and listens to advice from all sorts of professionals—engineers, geologists, accountants, lawyers, pr consultants, managers—and then he decides what he or BPs representative will say to the public. He is also responsible for choosing what information is released to the public, by whom, when, and under what conditions. I don't think any BP employee is free lancing here.

His final decision will be based on what he concludes, from all the advice he receives and his personal judgment, is best for BP, not what will satisfy the public.

For confirmation of this, please view this video of Hayward speaking live where he discusses his management philosophy:


New Washington post story on BP:
A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the oil company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways.

The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP's Alaska oil-drilling operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured employees not to report problems and cut short or delayed inspections to reduce production costs.


Because of its string of accidents before the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, BP faced a possible ban on its federal contracting and on new U.S. drilling leases, several senior former Environmental Protection Agency department officials told ProPublica. That inquiry has taken on new significance in light of the oil spill in the gulf. One key question the EPA will consider is whether the company's leadership can be trusted and whether BP's culture can change.

Is this BP's fault:
Among the safety equipment that BP was criticized for not having in place in its Alaska facilities, according to its own 2001 operational integrity report, were gas and fire detection sensors and emergency shutoff valves.

Now investigators are learning that similar sensors and their shutoff systems were not operating in the engine room of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the gulf.

In testimony before a Deepwater Horizon joint investigation panel in New Orleans last month, Deepwater mechanic Douglas Brown said that the backstop mechanism that should have prevented the engines from running wild apparently failed -- and so did the air-intake valves that were supposed to close if gas entered the engine room.

He said the engine room wasn't equipped with a gas alarm system that could have shut off the power.

Minutes later, the rig exploded in a ball of fire, killing 11 workers before sinking to the seafloor, where it left a gaping well pipe that continues to gush oil and gas.

...and remember the words 'spoken' on the bridge of the mud boat to someone onshore: "Are you f___en happy now? the rigs on fire! Are you f___en happy?"

In a related vein, Sunday's SF Chronicle article on the UC Berkeley engineer who is a longtime "student of disaster" is now available online. He's currently working on the well blow out but did earlier work for BP analyzing organizational issues in post acquisition oil refineries.

That idea - that organizational issues can lead to calamities - became an underlying theme in Bea's work. In 2002, BP executives asked him and Roberts to study organizational issues in the company's U.S. refinery operations. The refineries had been assembled through a series of acquisitions, Bea said, and had very different workplace cultures that didn't necessarily mesh with the parent company's. Some were beautifully run, others weren't.

Bea and Roberts delivered a report on their findings. Three years later, one of the refineries that the two researchers considered a problem suffered an explosion and fire that killed 15 people.

That's a reference to the Texas tragedy.

The full article is at Engineer Robert Bea, a student of disaster

Another interesting cnn video on ispersants (go to http://edition.cnn.com/video/ and click on 'dangers of dispersants'). They interviewed Kerry Kennedy who talked about being out at the GOM and feeling the symptoms, headaches, burning eyes, nausea despite wearing respirators. Sort of repeating earlier claims that cleanup workers were forbidden the use of respirators.

But the intriguing part is in the middle of the interview (around 2:00) she said that the average life-span of the cleanup workers on the Exxon spill in Alaska was only 51 years, and that all those people who worked on the cleanup in Alaska are now dead.

Now I'm as concerned as anyone else about the safety and protection of cleanup workers, but I'd like to know if her assertion is accurate. Does anyone know of any information to support (or refute) that particular claim, about the life expectancy of cleanup workers in Alaska?

I'm still here with no side effects so I guess I must be special. Most of the people I know who were there are still around.

Not everyone associated with Chernobyl is dead either. Find another point.

Here's a re-posting of a 2001 retrospective article, from the Los Angeles Times, on Exxon Valdez cleanup workers' health problems:


To summarize: As of that date, lots of anecdotal claims, a few hundred workers comp claims (60 listing petroleum as cause of illness or injury), a couple of dozen cases actually taken to court.

Doesn't look like Exxon or their contractors showed great concern for worker health and safety, but it certainly doesn't look like hundreds of lives were cut short, either.

I think there's a NIOSH study out there, somewhere. NPR reported, recently, that it showed "few problems"—in a piece that also said few adverse health effects are being seem among cleanup workers in the Gulf—where it has been suggested that BP, also, has been less than adequately concerned with worker safety.

For some reason people think that chemical toxins and carcinogens are nothing like nuclear radiation. But at the end of the day there is no difference: you die. I guess nuclear is continually being associated with "unconventional" and gets an exaggerated aura of badness. I am sure that the cleanup workers in Alaska did not get exposed to the same level of damage as the Chernobyl cleanup crew, but that did not save them.

Just an idea for the group. If anyone is a fan of mythbusters I think they should be sent onsite, given charge of the project. Either that or nasa.. Maybe Burt Rutan... Anyone by Tony. Sorry hit the innappropriate button if you wish...

Ok your still read.. Ok if I'm a mythbuster and I want to know something I come up with the simplest device I can muster to find my value. Let's say I want to capture farts, well I sit in a bathtube and catch my farts in a tube. Hmm.. Yuck... But let's apply this mythbusterology to this situtation.

a) we know our depth and pressure
b) we can clearly can position containment vessels above the hole
c) we can know that the oil goes UP, floats and doest not seperate at this depth even with disperant

With these know solutions it becomes easy. Position a containment vessels and time the amount of time it takes to fill up. When it starts spilling over the sides of the vessel.. Poof, we know know the volume of material that came out, I'm sure Adam Savage could figure out at that depth how many barreles of oil it took to fill our vessel in a given amount of time.

Allot of simple plans could be contribed, how about this, place a paddle in the stream and measure the amount of upwards pressure exerted on the paddle.

Hmm... Seems simple enough to me and I'm not a mechanical engineer.

Comments to these ideas very welcome and looked forward to. Hopefully you all say they are dumb, because if BP engineers havent thought of these.. Well.... NM I'd like to see this post stay up.

I thought Obama, Adm Allen, and the federal government were in charge from day one ;). I'm not trying to get political here, but Tony is the CEO of BP and not the in charge of the cleanup, containment, relief wells, etc

The more I think about this the more feasable it becomes. Even in the current situation with the LMRP cap, it could be fashioned with a secondary collection ring that funnels the blow by up into a tube with either a pressure flap or some type of turbine like is used to measure wind speed. The same could be done with the vents, an appaeratus installed on top which measures volume and provides little back pressure. Since the disperant is already mixing I dont think hydrates would be to much of an issue and if they were just add heating vents. I think maybe the real situation is that the actual release quanity isn't important to BP. And they have the ball, however I think environmentalists would consider the very important data. Since this would be done in parrell then it wouldn't be a waste.

Some people have suggested that the hydrates are a bigger hazard than many people think:


The aspect of gas hydrates which has the biggest implications for human welfare at present, is their potential as a geohazard. Of particular concern is the danger posed to deepwater drilling and production operations, and the large body of evidence which now exists linking gas hydrates with seafloor stability.

With conventional oil and gas exploration extending into progressively deeper waters, the potential hazard gas hydrates pose to operations is gaining increasing recognition. Hazards can be considered as arising from two possible events: (1) the release of over-pressured gas (or fluids) trapped below the zone of hydrate stability, or (2) destabilization of in-situ hydrates.

The presence of BSRs has previously been a cause of concern, as they could be considered evidence for the existence of free gas (possibly at high-pressure) beneath the HSZ. More recent analysis suggests however, that as long as excess water is present, there should not be a build-up of gas pressure beneath the HSZ. This is because, at the base of hydrate stability, the system approximates to 3-phase equilibrium, where pressure is fixed (generally at hydrostatic), and temperature occupies the available degree of freedom. This means that any excess gas will be converted to hydrate, returning the system to its equilibrium pressure (assuming there is no major barrier to the mass transfer of salt). This case is likely to predominate in many hydrate-bearing sediments, although gas seeps and mud volcanoes, common to thermogenic hydrate areas (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, Caspian Sea), could be considered evidence for excess gas and pore-fluid pressures at shallow depths.

In the absence of gas traps, hydrates still pose a hazard due to their potential for destabilization. This danger is particularly apparent in the case of conventional oil and gas exploration, for which drilling methods contrast quite markedly to the shallow piston-coring approach used by ODP in hydrate areas.

Conventional rotary drilling operations could cause rapid pressure, temperature or chemical changes in the surrounding sediment. An increase in temperature could be caused by a hot drill bit, warm drilling fluids, or later as high-temperature reservoir fluids rise through the well, while the addition of hydrate inhibitors to drilling muds (to prevent hydrate formation in the well-bore or drill string in the event of a gas-kick) could change sediment pore-fluid chemistry. Some, or all of these changes, could result in localized dissociation of gas hydrates in sediments surrounding wells. A similar case would apply to seafloor pipelines, where the transportation of hot fluids could cause dissociation of hydrates in proximal sediments. In a worst-case scenario, clathrate dissociation could lead to catastrophic gas release, and/or destabilization of the seafloor.

The hazards associated with drilling in gas hydrate areas are exemplified by cases from the Alaskan Arctic, where subsurface permafrost hydrate destabilization has resulted in gas kicks, blowouts, and even fires.


Hydrates are a known hazard and drilling rigs take steps, like special seismic surveys, to avoid them or special casing designs if they can't. Pipelines and other offshore structures the same thing.

What happens if they miss?

Ok i dont believe in mat simmons but ....what if instead of blowing off it slid in the mud?

like he is santa or an elf?

The good news is that Matt Simmons brings you 100 times as many toys as Santa claims he would.

The bad news is that your stocking is in an undisclosed location roughly 6 miles from where you thought you hung it.

(I know, I know... Sorry all. Couldn't help it.)

Heading Out, Thanks for all you have done these past few weeks, and thanks for all the great info from all your tech talks over the years.

One Question I did not see posted here, though I did not check the other thread about seeps.

If the seeps are pushing out x number of gallon/barrels of oil per year, when did they start doing so? If they have been around since say 0 AD, then we have oodles of oil coming out of the sea floor. This leads on to believe that natural critters and plants will have gotten used to this natural seepage over time and there are no REAL impacts, in that everything has evolved to eat and process the Oil, otherwise we would have seen it in the area long before the Age of Oil.

But it begs the question, how much oil was in place to begin with. A million barrels a year for 2,000 years is 2 Billion barrels in that time. But again how long have they been in play, 5 years, 500 years, 50,000 years and then you get really odd numbers playing out.

Thanks for everything.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future,
Hugs from Arkansas.

0 AD? A lot, lot longer than that. Think millions of years. And the GOM seeps aren't the "worst" in the world either. There are plenty in Africa and throughout the world that still get zero attention. You can find plenty in Angola or Nigeria, today. The earliest religions worshiped them in what is now modern Azerbaijan (zoroastranism) - they're still flowing, and the Soviets created thousands of man made ones at a scale that dwarfs anything today throughout their empire. And if you fancy a trip to Trinidad you can stand on a paleo-leak, now a massive tar mat... All in all, nature can cope with some pollution, and has done so forever. That's not to say that everything has evolved to eat it with no drama, it just means that the effects are commonly localised, impacting individuals rather than entire species. The planet doesn't care about individuals.

Good observation re: the scale though. Things get very strange when you start thinking geologically. Most of the oil that was ever created was simply lost to the surface. It takes a whole suite of circumstances to trap it underground. What we find and produce is the anomaly, one that powers our entire lifestyle and enabled the world's population to grow from ~1bn in 1900 to almost 8bn today. Unfortunately, the extracting and using the stuff carries a cost...

This disaster is a different scale to a seep though. However, as distressing as it is, we have to realise that a few hundred, or even thousands of hurt and dying birds, will have no lasting impact on the ecology. I know this isn't a popular statement, but it's true. We all react to the images, none of us can help it. But it is possible (probable at this stage) that there will be no lasting affects in the (very for us) long term (i.e. decades). Although it's an experiment I wish we hadn't undertaken. I still have issues that people get way more upset about pelicans than they do the 11 guys that died that night though. I guess struggling birds are considered disaster-photogenic by the mainstram media. Having said that, I find talks of a "100% Dead GOM" hard to swallow. I understand that anger, but we have to keep some scientific perspective.

BTW: if you're interested in how the west outsources its pollution, think about Nigeria. http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/nigerias-agony-dwarfs-gulf-oil-spill/

Why do we only pay attention when it is on our doorstep? The US gets 5% of its oil from Nigeria.

"I still have issues that people get way more upset about pelicans than they do the 11 guys that died that night though."

Believe me, I mourn the loss of those hands. However, just as thinking geologically produces a different view of the world than the one we experience in our daily cultural trance, so does thinking ecologically. The Louisiana brown pelican was just removed from the endangered species list in November, 2009:


If humans are in danger of extinction, it is likely that it will be a consequence of overshoot and dieoff that has been perfectly predictable since… Malthus? It's pretty clear what we've done to "deserve" our possible fate. What have the pelicans and the bluefin tuna done (other than failing to figure out how to eliminate us)?

Anthropocentrism is normal and understandable (for humans, anyway), but it has no particular claim to superiority as a framework for seeing and interpreting the world. The planet doesn't care about our species, either.

there will be no lasting affects in the (very for us) long term (i.e. decades).

Wishful thinking.

There very likely will be significant negative effects in 2040 from the BP pollution. Loss of dozens or hundreds of square miles of marshland are a significant risk as an example.


Further thought makes me think about the fact that the plume around the LMRP cap #4 cant be to huge a volume. It appears to me to only extend several feet from the surface. As we have noted the surface of the LMRP even shows through at times. Here's my newest idea. A new riser cap is bolted around the curret cap. This cap flares outwards significaintly and has numerous sprayers which can inject fluid to keep any hydrates from forming. The cap also has multiple pipes leading to the surface so that multiple ships can pump fluid oil/water to the surface. Perhaps even a slight suction can be acheived by pumps on the surface.

Gavity will do most of the job of keeping the oil/disperant from the sea water as long as there is enough piping leading to the surface and pumping action sucking it up above the sea's surface. Then is is purely a balancing act of ajusting the pumping pressures.

Another pressure solution would be to make a large floating 'tank' on the surface that as it fills with oil it slowly sinks into the water and then the surface vessels pump the oil out of this variable depth floating tank.

If the tank is adquately sized and fitted with ballast, it could even create negative pressure sucking the oil up faster. Like a funnel pushed down into the water the further down it's pushed the faster the water pushes it's way in.

Since the oil is lighter then water I would think it would displace seawater easily if the tank had holes (valves most likley) in the bottom, then ballast could be used to keep pressures balanced.

I've seen the size of LMRP #4 on bp website compared to a man welding the winds on it. We arnt talking about some huge thing like the original tophat. Everything I'm talking about can be retrofitted to the existing scenario also.

Maybe the engineers are getting to engineery about it. I dont know but I'm starting to return to my original thoughts that this is NOT rocket science and BP like most corporations is not able to react quickly or take guidance from individuals.

If is where me I'd just start welding big ass funnels with ingectors and sticking them down there.

Clearly with the news coming out they caused the disaster, it was no accident it was neglect. What is to say that neglegence isn't just the normal course their culture will take.

I agree with some of the posters I've seen flamed. This really is a pile of.....

My real worry is the BP is going to always think about profits and the fact that theyd rather polute the gulf and make money and the same time than slit there risks and lose a single penny they didn't have to. (think about them saying "well if we inject that much to keep it from freezing then it will be harder to seperate at the surface", or "we can afford to buy that much". Let's not forget they live in the netherlands with safe fish to eat and ivory towers to protect them, lear jets to move them around and lawyers who will shoot to kill.

Either that or they are just to dumb to actualy do the right thing. Which is likely the case. Allot of criminals are repeat offenders for a reason.

I'm sure some BP folks may read this and take offense, but just listen to Kent Wells answers to whether the idea line helped or not. Basicly he made it sound like the preverbial circular file and couldn't identify a single response that helped. Maybe he never even heard or read any of the suggestions.

I know if the help line was coming across my desk, I'd have the ideas organasised and posted and reasons for them to not work.. Kinda like a blog approach.. Hey TOD maybe you should have been awarded money to run the help line...

Owell guess I'm full of comments tonight.. This morning (EST).. Excuse me...


two sides could be bolted together around cap the funnel could be made with sharp angles it would be easier than a curve but it would still be a funnel and provide less resistance than the grommet around the current top hat's stack.

any way that is free keep it

This is exactly what I was thinking, thanks for the great illustration! Further more, if this still didin't collect all the oil it could be done again. Each enveloping eachother until ALL the oil is collected.

Personaly I don't care what it costs BP in terms of pumping gas down to prevent hydrates or difficulty of seperating oil/seawater or gases.

I think the goal is to keep the oil out of the water.

That's great but it looks like your funnel would fall over. Remember the weight of the riser and such would affect the way your outer cap sits. Keep going with this it looks easy to implement, maybe another funneling shape.

Better make it fire proof...with all the flamers around here.

Since fire/flames has been mentioned albeit mistakenly, what would happen if compressed oxygen was delivered to the leak and flame applied. I know at STP a "big bang"... but under 2200 psi of seawater would it not be possible to actually burn the oil/gas at this wellhead in order to get rid of it?

I don't know of any research of flammability at 5,000 feet. There probably is some out there. It could be that under that much pressure the oil or gas could spontaneously combust in contact with oxygen, like acetylene does at about 100 feet. Or there could be other problems.

But lets assume the oil and gas would burn OK. Assuming 25,000 bpd it should be easy to calculate the cubic feet of oxygen required to burn 1,000 bbls of oil and 2,000 cf of methane (the equivalent of about 56,000 gallons of gasoline) an hour.

Then figure the horsepower and compressors required to compress the oxygen (or 5 times as much air) to 2,300 psi to deliver it to the bottom.

Answer might surprise you.

Diving cylinders typically have an internal volume of between 3 and 18 litres (0.11 and 0.64 cu ft) and a maximum pressure rating from 200 to 300 bars (2,900 to 4,400 psi).

Scuba Wiki

I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume we could pump O2 down to the bottom, however personaly I'm not a fan of burning the oil down in the water, I rather get it to the surface or plug it down below.

I think allot of these ideas are good and I dont think BP is considering them.

Actually burning the oil and gas with pure oxygen is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of it. Only carbon-dioxide and water as byproducts, no oxides.

Your largest SCUBA bottle (4,400 psi, 0.64 cuft) holds about 190 cuft of oxygen - but at 5,000 feet (2,250 psi) you can only get less than 100 cu ft out of it. So to burn off 25,000 bpd of oil you only need 140,000 cylinders per hour.

Delivery by hose gets away from the residual gas trapped in the bottle. So you need about 250,000 cfm compressed to over 2,300 psi - a lot of SCUBA compressors.

Having spent many years in dive shops I can tell you it takes a long time to fill a dive tank to 3000psi with a 4 stage compressor. Oilfield stuff is orders of magnitude bigger and more powerful than consumer level stuff, but still. How would you deal with the temperature increase from compressing all that air, continuously, at the huge volumes it'd take to burn off any significant volume of this leak?

The way I originaly imagined it is that the two halfs would fit together and make a balanced piece, with two or four new risers going toward the surface, this way it would not fall over.

However with this design illustrated it could be balanced by having a air pocket giving it 'balanced' bouancy, if as the previous poster suggested that it would be infact easier to fashion.

Again this thinking is all about trying to caputure the oil assuming that plugging the BOP is not an option because the BOP or foudation is to weak to take the natural well pressure and that the BOP can not be removed for whatever reason.

If plugging either at the BOP top (BOP can take the pressure) or the BOP can be released to expose the well head I would go forward trying to plug the well directly.

I would then imaging either a gaint heavy skinny slug whith a chain that would attach to a big plug made of rubber and steel. You would drop the weight into the drill pipe an lower the 'permanent cap' over top.

Various other ideas would work, the consider a funnel attached long pipe of a smaller diameter of the drill pipe with the end capped. You would literly pour ball bearings down into the pipe until the funnel plugged the hole because it would be heaverier then the pressure could exert upwards trying to blow it out.

Another idea migh be a big bladder that you slid down into the BOP or with a weight at the end and inflated. With enough surface area the Oil couldnt push past. And if the BOP is removed, the inflated bladder might even serve to offset pressures on the foundation of the well if placed deep enough.

I hope that everyone is getting the idea here that what I am trying to get at is;

A) BP is not providing enough transparancy in data for engineers to offer solutions (wanst this the directive of congress)

B) BP is not treating incoming ideas in an open forum for scientific review (so obvious to do it this way, 35k ideas isn't to much for the populas at large to sort through)

C) BP just should not be in charge of this disaster. I think this is what I'm driving at most of all. It's downright crazy.

It's like asking a drunk driver to prove his own guilt that his intoxication was adaquate to have caused a multi fatality accident.. Well "no officer I wasnt as think as you drunk I am". And then he walks free.

Well ok in this case I think BP IS PROVING they are intoxicated enough to have caused the accident by each action, ever press release everyone has punched holes in. Repeat offesnses of not sharing information, holding back. I fear we dont even yet know the extent.

Please tell me that I'm not alone here in thinking that BP is NOT providing all the facts necessary for sceintific review. Where is the website with all of the XRAYS, ultrasounds of the BOP, surface activity, etc.!

When congress says, RELEASE ALL THE DATA. Apperantly thats doesnt mean much. Where is the enforcement end of the government. Or maybe there isn't an enforcement end?

Somehow direct action by the government needs be be taken. If I dumped a single barrel of oil into the gulf they would knock down my door, put me in handcuffs, drag me to jail and ransack my house looking for other evidance of pollutants.

I'm a pilot and I wont even dump a few tiny ounces of drained fuel on the tarmack where it will instantly evaporate when I check my tanks for water and debree. Why should I care now? If every general avaition pilot dumped the fuel on the ground they would never catch up to this disaster.

I believe this spill could have already been stopped, until I see clear hard results of all the submitted ideas to stop it and the reasons that they would fail I don't believe everything that could be done has been explored.

Lets take another example. The booms should all be fitted with oil absorbent pads behind them. I am yet to see a single boom with absorbent padding behind it, in fact I can see the oil seepage behind the boom exactly where the pad would have soaked it up.

Here again, I can only assume that I am NOT smarter than BP, so they DO known about such products and therefore they have decided that they are not econimicaly 'worthwhile' enough (FOR THEM).

So why is BP making that decision? In 50 days am I the only person who has looked at these facts? I dare say we have to start laying the blame on ourselves, on everyone on this board who idealy flames about not taking action.

One last item to bring to the surface (no pun intended). Natural oil seeps, when was the last time you heard of fishing closed down because of natural oil seeps, when was the last time a natural oil seep created a slick even half the size of the surface slick we have seen. How about a slick of any size. When was the last time a natural oil seep left huge areas and birds dieing. How the heck could a natrual effect even be compared to an unatural one such as this disaster. Havent we learned yet how precisely balanced our ecosystems are?

It unfortunite that I have to write these things. While I believe them and they are really no surprise, I do infact regret that they are happening.

I could go on forether about this as I imagine most of us can. Take Tony for saying he's going to pay everyone every lost dollar that was effected by this accident. Doesn't that mean every single person in America?

I'm waiting for my check Tony! Again which is it evil or stupidity?

I say evil, but stupid might be more likely.

-just a dumb ham-

I've worked as a journalist, and I want to post a cautionary comment: the content of this site is changing. Less science (although plenty of it still, thanks to all you contributors) more spin. To all of you spinners, I have this to say: how about anonymous?

That's novel. I journalist telling us our content isn't good enough!

Chill Blubbering,
after this all blows over the gulf leak junkies will probably all go home.


Yep. 4 more weeks and TOD will be on the lookout for the 1st killer storm of the century.

IMO there are large bits that are starting to sound like a lynch mob....

ROCKMAN said in an earlier, now locked, thread:
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.

Simply had to respond with an anecdote.

A while back when I was working at a firm making North Sea control systems, a colleague went on vacation.
Whilst he was away someone found a kettle hidden in his minicomputer, wired up to the power supply. We only had coffee machines at work and this guy would only drink tea, and so invented this novel system! He was fired whilst on vacation.

Now guess who arrived as the North Sea operator's equipment handover acceptance manager some months later? Yep : someone in a bad mood and who knew all the weak spots in the control system!

BP seems to be a consistant environmental criminal, as documentend in this article from the Whashington Post:


Last in the article, it is confirmed, at the engine room on the DWH was not equipped with gas alarms, and no auto shut down systems in case of a gas leak.

Had this systems been in plase, they might have preventet the explotion.

I read this article also and at the end it says the mechanic said the systems had failed, but then it says the systems where not equiped. I'm not sure if they are refering to seperate systems or if this is Journalisic error.

Maybe someone can technicaly qualify is the backstock mechansims the 'gas alarm system' or are these seperate devices?

"Journalisic error."

Don't be ridiculous, journalists always have their facts straight. LOL, see directly above post.

"Now investigators are learning that similar sensors and their shutoff systems were not operating in the engine room of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the gulf.

In testimony before a Deepwater Horizon joint investigation panel in New Orleans last month, Deepwater mechanic Douglas Brown said that the backstop mechanism that should have prevented the engines from running wild apparently failed -- and so did the air-intake valves that were supposed to close if gas entered the engine room.

He said the engine room wasn't equipped with a gas alarm system that could have shut off the power.

Minutes later, the rig exploded in a ball of fire, killing 11 workers before sinking to the seafloor, where it left a gaping well pipe that continues to gush oil and gas."

Thus, the part of the system (the alarm) that would have shut down other parts of the system (the power) were not present. Therefore the entire system failed (i.e., a system is only as functional as its weakest link).

To be honest I think this is a perfect example of the comment above that the site is becoming more spin and less science (and fact). The spin is that this is BP's fault. The rising tenor of comment here is that almost everything is the fault of some huge undefined evil entity called BP. A reminder. BP did not own or operate the Deepwater Horizon. Transocean did. Transocean commisioned its design and construction. Now additional gas alarms that killed engine room power might have been a good idea, but their lack is hardly evidence of some conspiracy of cost cutting on the part of BP.

Now the question of such an alarm is worth mentioning. Does it actually add to safety? Now you might say that it clearly does, but these things are far from easy. No sensor is perfect, and false positives are always a real issue. You can easily end up in a situation where power on the rig can drop at any moment for no good reason. This could easily end with many more smaller accidents, accidents where we don't burn down a rig, but rather over the course of years the rig suffers a higher rate of serious injuries and the occasional death. Across the entire industry you might kill and maim a lot more than 11 rig workers. Trouble is we don't know the answer to that. Such issues are not amenable to statistical analysis, and typically design standards are created in the wake of accidents. And not always in a sensible manner. It is quite possible that soon all rigs will be required to install such alarms, and in ten years time, when a littany of deaths and accidents acrues, the alarms will be ordered removed. Or they might be a great success. But right now we probably don't actually know.

Mostly these are the recounting of facts as discovered by investigative journalism, BP internal investigation, technical calculation and analysis of all data available at present;

I think at this point, unless you don't believe the eye witness accounts from survivors it is becoming pretty clear that BP 'shares' a signficiaint part of if not the major blame for this tragety.

A) BP argued and forced transocean to pump in seawater to displace drilling mud, BP leases and commands transocean, they have no rights to refuse as far as I undertand other then 'personaly disobey' in which case I don't believe they would have even been able to leave the premise immediatly.

B) BP submitted waiver requests skip tests

C) I think it is pretty clear the BP as the operator is ultimatly responsible for anything that occurs at the end of the day, this is what federal law enacted and this is how they would have expected the outcome to be.

Furthermoore I think Tony and BP are showing through actions since the accident that they either care careless or clueless.

A) Tonys statements to the press including "that he feels this is moderate", "he wants HIS life back", "he's going to repay all losses incured by people hurt by this accident" his statements go on and on. You don't have to spin this, it speaks for itself.

This is a disaster and not 'moderate' ecological damage. See webster "disaster = state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune" the ecosystem will NEVER return to a state as it would have been without the spill. "moderate = tending toward the mean or average amount or dimension (this is way worse then most oil spills), having average or less than average (clearly not the case), limited in scope or effect (limited to the whole planet), not expensive (ha), reasonable or low in price".

He can never repay or remediate the damage done in many ways both to this countries finances, the oil industry, or people directly impacted such as sailors, fishermen and even the average seafood consumer. Nevermind the impact of the long term ecological impact.

B) Not applying all possible resources to cleanup and reduce the impact of the spill because of what they would consider (no helpful enough on a cost basis)

C) Lack of information disclosure both in the past and currently ongoing

D) Lack of acceptance of outside help by individuals or corporation

It is shocking to me that several people now have offered any defense to BP or made any reference to spining this story or saying that awww it's ok the gulf will recover. I think you can see from the responses those post illicet that clearly that is not the 'average' consensous.

My opinion is that people need to understand these facts as my belief is that BP is hurting not only us but themeselves in this process.

No spinning of the story is necessary. Its clear and I believe the American public is slowly waking from its slumber. America's have always been a people to give second and even third chances.

I believe Tony should be warned, when our patience wears out we Americans drop the A-Bomb. Even if it is not in our best interest.

Fransis - thats is a lot of BS. Gasdetectors and connected auto shutdown mecanismes are mandatory on the norhtsea platforms, and they do work.

They are also used in engine roms on for instance ships, and theyare used on oiltankers. And they work!

So think again.

and that........ is the only amusing thing I've read in a month and a half about this incident.

As it happens, I would ban coffee in these installations and make the drinking of tea mandatory. The ritual of making the tea might lead to a more measured and thoughtful response to problems rather than the jumpy, irritable and hysterical commentary that we're beginning to witness from so called professors of things green, politicians and individuals who spend their every waking moment being angry at everything around them.

This problem will get fixed, the sea will recover, as will the marshland and the local tourist industry and it will be fixed by BP and the thousands of American engineers who work for BP. They seem to be the only people who retain a sense of traditional American "can do," attitude as my father called it.

As an outsider looking in, I find the handwringing from the East Coast and the increasingly manufactured anger in the response of the President somewhat embarrassing and unnerving. It doesn't suit the US, it doesn't help the problem and it certainly doesn't instill confidence in the families of the Gulf States who are concerned about their future.

So, more tea and a positive mental attitude. My solution after much consideration over several cups? Uncle Ben's Long Grain Rice.... ie Top Kill 2, the sequel. Clear out the shelves at Walmart and pump tons of the stuff down the well; it will expand and clog the thing up, just like it does in your sink at home. This is the sort of forward thinking that brought you radar, the jet engine, tin cans, rubber bands and the world wide web. No charge, I'm here to help.

Right,rant over. Best I get my coat and hat and leave by the nearest available exit.

Why buy rice when bullshit is free?

This problem will get fixed, the sea will recover, as will the marshland

Unfortunately not, even perhaps after decades.


You may be right and I respect your passion for your home; I'm not an expert but the capacity of the sea to regenerate after previous disasters is self evident; just in fact, as is America's. If America could rebuild Europe after WW2 then it can clean up an oil spill, no matter how big and yes, BP can pay for it.

The serious point that I am trying to make is that the increasingly personnal attacks on Hayward and nationalistic tone of many in the media is not constructive and is a departure from reality. BP is a global multi national and in many ways is now more American than it is British and that includes it's shareholder base. Moreover, most would prefer a industry man in charge than a Midtown spin doctor executive or the like. That some remarks have been interpreted as insensitive is unfortunate but the man didn't set out to insult the 11 dead; to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

However, it is clear that BP will emerge from this a much chastened company and possibly in a different form but for what it's worth I believe the company when they say they will do everything they can to mitigate the impact on the Gulf, it's population and it's economy.

Observers can shout as much as they like but it won't fix anything. We discovered that when the Occidental owned Piper Alpha blew up and 167 men got the chop in the North Sea. If the admiral from the coastguard, who seems a pretty straight talking man, suggested that BP weren't in top gear then I might change my view.

The marshes cannot be cleaned, except by time and nature. Simple fact.

I have given a number of examples of BP penny pinching (barrels are flowing into the Gulf RIGHT NOW because BP would not bring enough processing capability on-site beforehand one example).

The damage from this, if properly paid (WHICH BP WILL NOT DO !) will exceed BP assets. Every hotel owner, and worker that lost work, should be paid by BP for their malfeasance. Add treble damages for gross negligence.

There should be no BP, except a file in court, in 2013, if justice is done.


The Gulf will recover as time goes by, but it will never be the same. That is a promise not within the reach of Tony or any other man or group.

Sea level rise awaits the Gulf. Our inflictions of damage upon our little chemical cesspool are far from over.

Yes it will, but you might not see it. But hey, that's life.
Living on an estuary is risky

The Department of Energy has now released detailed data on the Macondo well construction, BOP configuration, temperatures and pressures in the reservoir and the BOP, oil and gas recovery and flow data, drawings of the LMRP top hat device and LMRP containment system. Much very detailed and useful stuff in there, answers a lot of questions being asked.


Quick out-of-sequence question:

Is Matt Simmons still regarded as a credible commentator on the oil industry, and this incident in particular?

"Is Matt Simmons still regarded as a credible commentator on the oil industry,"

At least until quite recently, by a great many observers (certainly not all), in general, yes.

"and this incident in particular?"

Not so much.

In my *very* humble opinion, of course.

Hello some comments from a Brit (sorry, but I was born that way)about President Obama’s interview on NBC Today show.

Two things surprised me.
1. He hasn’t spoken to Tony Hayward.
2. He said he would sack Tony Hayward, because of his media comments.

I was really shocked that he hasn’t spoken to Tony Hayward, why not? The reason he gave for not talking to him didn’t make any sense, he said he would just get the company line from him. Well I think he should gve it a go. I would guess when the president asks you a straight question you will normally get a straight answer. The problem may be that if he spoke to Tony Hayward he may get to like him and trust him, then he couldn't kick his ass so easily. So, even though he has never spoken to him, he has decided that Tony Hayward should be sacked. His comments about sacking Tony Hayward were in response to the interviewer reading out a list Tony Hayward’s comments over the past weeks. We are all aware of these comments, but I think we must remember that these are comments not from a media savvy politician, but an oil man who is under the most unbelievable strain and who, I would guess, has been working 24 hours a day and grabbing a few minutes sleep when he can. It also seems to me that the media have targeted Tony Hayward and go through every word he says looking for evidence that he is a wicked and dishonourable man; they then package it up and push it out to maintain a media feeding frenzy around him.

Take a look at the Sky interview when Tony Hayward says the effect on the environment would be modest. Now I would guess he was saying that with the huge effort and resources BP and the US government were throwing at this problem he would predict the lasting effect on the environment would be modest. It doesn’t mean he discounts the importance of the spill, just that he believes the responses are the correct ones and that they should be successful. Surely we all hope that. If you look at the interview you find he gave his response to a question that he was asked, but what was the question? It does make a difference as it sets his answer in context, I haven’t been able to find the full transcript anywhere.

I have to say that when you have an unbelievably complicated bad situation it is very convenient to find a scapegoat on which to hang all the blame, and President Obama said he was looking for a good “ass” to kick, so maybe kicking the ass of Tony “scapegoat” Hayward will do.

President Obama’s suggestion that Tony Hayward should be sacked precipitated a further 5% drop in the BP share price yesterday (it had already fallen around 30% due to the crisis). That’s what happens when Presidents make comments like this and that is a good reason why they really shouldn’t do it. Did the sacking statement help the effort to stop the spill and clean up the Gulf? No. All it did was to enable President Obama to grab a good sound bite. I do not believe these are the actions of a great statesman.

Given the penny pinching efforts to date by BP to date, the ass of that double corporate felon NEEDS to be kicked !

And I quite frankly DO NOT CARE about BP share prices ! Not worth even mentioning or being concerned about.

Except, perhaps, another 50% drop from yesterday will motivate them, since that is their primary concern in life.


Although great issues should not be settled on personalities, Tony the Twit is an immensely easy person to dislike. He oozes insincerity, arrogance, and disdain from every pore.

The fact that you don't care about the BP share price tells me that you don't have any yourself. If your retirement pot contained a lot of BP shares you would be very concerned.

I keep saying it, but it is true, we need to focus on stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess. I don't think destroying BP as a company helps with either of those, although it may make politicians feel better and increas their approval ratings.

As a matter of interest why do you call Tony Hayward a double corporate felon?

One last thing, Tony Hayward is an oil man born and bred. His main crime at the moment seems to be that he didn't spend more time learning to appear sincere? As George Bernard Shaw once said (or was it Groucho Marks): "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made."

Let's judge people by their actions not their media sound bites or the media distortions.

If my retirement pot contained a lot of BP shares (it doesn't), I'd get rid of them.

But, as a shareholder, you should be disappointed in Tony Hayward. Look at BP's stock chart since he became CEO in 2007. Not a pretty picture.

Was it his decision, also, for BP to self-insure? That's not good for shareholders in this instance, either.

Doesn't matter if he's an oil man born and bred. I'm sure he's done his best, but the proof is in the pudding.

"Appearing to be sincere?" Perhaps you're British, but Americans can smell hypocrisy miles away.

It's not about Tony. It's about a company which has an atrocious safety and environmental record and is now responsible for what may turn out to be the worst environmental disaster in the history of the world.

Sorry if that hurts your retirement funds. I'd get out now.

Sorry ozamerican I don't have any BP shares.

Yes I am British; I am not convinced that Americans have this hypocrisy antenna you mentioned; I am old enough to remember Nixon.

I do agree with you, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating": BP have to take full responsibility and they say they will. Let's give them a chance and then come down on them hard if they don't do it.

Take a look at the Bhopal disaster and Union Carbide if you want an example of a company running away from their responsibilities as hard as their corporate legs could carry them. This week 8 local employees were convicted of "death by negligence" for the gas leak, 26 years after the disaster that killed nearly 4000 people and maimed 100,000. However, nobody else has ever been brought to justice and none of the bosses ever apologised or taken any responsibility and the victims have received next to nothing in compensation. Babies are now born with defects and the plant is still sitting there rotting away and contaminating the water supply.

BP have to take full responsibility and they say they will. Let's give them a chance and then come down on them hard if they don't do it.

One, I am not in the habit of relying upon the word of felons (double# felons even less so) for critical issues in my life.

Two, BP has already failed, so why should we wait for multiple failures before acting ?

It is not as if we are dealing with honorable people in upper management at BP.


# In Alaska, the chief investigator said that he could have gathered enough information for a 3rd felony conviction, but he was cut short by orders from "the top". So BP just got a misdemeanor and not a third felony added to their rap sheet there.

BP also got 97% of the egregious willful safety violations at refineries. The rest of the industry shared the remaining 3%. A clue to corporate behavior.

BP, as a corporation, is a twice admitted felon.

One corporate felony conviction is EXTRAORDINARILY rare in the US. Two puts BP into a unique class of criminality.

When one invests in stocks, one takes risks, Part of the deal for not buying gilts.

I do own Apache, Tullow, GALP, Encana, Conoco Phillips, PetroBras, Statoil Hydro. I avoided BP because of their criminality.


AlanfromBigEasy wrote:

BP, as a corporation, is a twice admitted felon.

Could you please post a link to these alleged admissions? I'd like to see them for myself.

Why would ANYBODY have held BP through 4/20? That's a blazing "sell" signal if ever there was one. If you're an individual-stock investor you have to watch the news to protect yourself.

The poor suckers are the ones with BP pensions. They're gonna be stuck riding this down.

Being sincere about being concerned would be best. The "I want my life back" comment was perfectly sincere, and shows his priorities and perspectives perfectly. Did you see the guy on TV saying "I want my brother's life back"?

I'm all for judging BP by their actions. 740 willful and egregious violations, wasn't it, compared to maybe 4 for second place? BP is used to getting away with Bhopal-like behavior, only maybe this ex-colony will stand up for itself.

The mistake BP made was having a major US accident right as anti-multinational-corp and anti-bailout sentiment is peaking. It's hanging time.

Right there with you Alan and this from above would be a good start:

Perks wrote: My thoughts: as any problem a carpenter faces he thinks can be handled with hammers, saws and nails; any problem a lawyer faces he thinks can be handled by legal action (law suits, judgements, new legislation).
Given that our President is a Professor of Law, I believe that he has covered that possibility. If in doubt, Google Justice Department and Louisiana. Even the US atty general is in New Orleans today. Suffice to say, any BP America assets, especially GOM leases, may be seized by the US ( not withstanding the lobbyist influence) to satisfy any potential claims that the administration feels necessary. They will fight about it in court later. Today, it is political and rises in importance.

Crimper respended: You have hit the nail on the head for me as to why the flow rates have been underestimated and not enough processing assets/equipment has been staged in the area!!
I have been struggling with the question about why they would not obviously prepare in advance/stage additional processing equipment to capture the obviosly higher flows than the DE can handle for some time.
Do you all think it is it possible that BP/lawyers have been concerned that their assets/equipment will be siezed once they are in the GOM by the US and therefore BP is not staging the necessary assets/equipment in the area because of this reason?
Another post several threads back said they were calling in another ship from the North Sea? to handle extra processing capacity-what a joke that is. Is the ship the property of another company and just being rented? so that they dont have more corp. assets that can be seized once they are close enough to US territory?
The BP corp. philosphy seems to be save money at any cost. This strategy would be in line with that overall corp. philosphy.
IMO: seizing these scumbags assests is the only thing they will "feel" bad about

"The problem may be that if he spoke to Tony Hayward he may get to like him and trust him, then he couldn't kick his ass so easily."

Maybe that's why he keeps a distance. Why turn this into a personal thing?

As for trusting Tony Hayward, there's not a whole lot he's said that's been reliable to date.

The reality is that Tony Hayward's job is to protect the interests of the shareholders of BP. Those are very different from the interests of the American people as a nation.

bloggeriain wrote:

I have to say that when you have an unbelievably complicated bad situation it is very convenient to find a scapegoat on which to hang all the blame, and President Obama said he was looking for a good “ass” to kick, so maybe kicking the ass of Tony “scapegoat” Hayward will do.

Your comments are quite correct and rational -- but they will find no traction whatsoever with the venomous, hate-filled and envy-eaten mob that comprises so much of these commenters. They WANT this situation to be an environmental disaster because they WANT a rationalization to make their seething hatred of BP and all things successful seem at least quasi-civilized and quasi-justified.

This accident and its consequences have brought the left out in the open and enticed them into baring their fangs for all to see. It has been quite instructive.

MichaelWSmith: "They WANT this situation to be an environmental disaster because they WANT a rationalization to make their seething hatred of BP and all things successful seem at least quasi-civilized and quasi-justified."

That's absolutely ridiculous. 99% of Americans wouldn't have had an opinion about BP prior to this catastrophe. Probably wouldn't have even known that BP (aka "British Petroleum") was even a British company.

You must be in a very distorted position in all of this, such that BP seems like life itself or something. Chill out.

Well … Thad Allen is in daily communication (this is enough for me). There was all the talk during election of presidential prerogative to sit down with world leaders. You may get more leverage keeping distance and knowing that the president can call at any time … shut it down, criminal proceedings, management of company, anything else. The President speaks through his representatives: Holder, Allen, Chu, Jackson, Napolitano, investigation panel, it's a long list. I don't think there are any shortages of lines of communication between the Oval Office and BP. People might be complaining if the opposite was the case … and talking about the cozy relationship between Washington and big oil and gas.

Certainly Obama should have called, and laid out expectations for BP directly.

Mostly Obama listens to his press advisors; apparently Tony does not - what motivates him to say such stupid things? Ass-kicking will play just fine in most of the US.

What better way to get the attention of a multi-national corp than a 5% stock hit? Seems like the best reason to make statements like that. Next week I'd have the AG file a major suit and knock off 10% more if the oil still flows into the gulf. It's been 6 weeks, you know.

Is this the first big Brit company to falter and fail of late?

Note that I realize that multi-national oil companies are the US' best friends in the age of oil decline, as they'll be pitted against national companies. BP is just specifically a poor example of such.

Technical question

Yesterday Dr. Jane Lubchenco from NOAA said in her press briefing that oil had been found in the subsurface water of the Gulf at three locations: 40 nautical miles and 42 miles NE of the BP spill site and 142 miles SE of the spill site. She said it was very low at all sites (<0.5 ppm). However, I was fascinated as she said the sample on the surface (I guess this is a few meters down and not actually at he surface, but maybe somebody can confirm that for me)at 40 miles NE had the signature of the oil generated from the BP leak, but that the samples from 42 miles were in too low a concentration to profile whilst those from the SE were clearly not from the BP spill.

How do we interpret these results?

Seems to me that what the NOAA data are telling us is
1. that there is very low levels of oil from the BP spill near the surface 40 nautical miles NE of the spill.
2. there is low levels of oil in the gulf from other unknown sources.

Is there anything else we can derive from the data she presented?

Matt Simmons is more than credible on a peak oil site. Last night he foretold the doom of BP, which should take care of their arse.

It is unfortunate that the Brits feel the Americans don't count. I would ban/sink BP if they survive.

Flippant disregard for truth when it involves so many innocent people is disgusting.

Since when do the Brits think the Americans don't count? What is your evidence for that?

Could I also say that BP is a global company and the bulk of the hard work in the Gulf is being done by incredibly dedicated, hard working and honourable Americans. Would you be including them in you trashing of BP or is that reserved for anybody who speaks with an English accent?

BP is not the only game in town.

During the night hours on Bloomberg, anchored by Brits, with Brits as guests the attacks on Obama and how BP should withdraw was the featured fare.

Their American workers can be rehired by American or others who will be responsible. Our choice is not BP or nothing but something better than BP.

I don't think its the Brits per se. I think it is more of a matter of working at someone else's "home" rather than your own. It is the nature of most people to be more concerned with their own property than the property of others.

But that begs the question of whether these global companies even have a "home" anymore. Most act like the have no allegiance to any country and operate more like pirates than citizens.

But apparently, BP has been exceptional in its willingness to flaunt local law and custom no matter where it operates. BP has brought new meaning to the term "piracy on the high seas."

I'd read that as there is a certain level of pre-existing contamination from other sources. Then there's a change in chemistry and you can detect the edge of the BP spill as it moves north east towards Florida, and at this point it's 42 nautical miles from the spill site.

This caught my attention too. But I think it is consistent when you put it in the context of Lubchenco. She doesn't seem to say anything without the data to back it up … she's very conservative in her approach to documenting spill. I think the sample size being too low in concentration to determine fingerprint means sample size is too low in concentration. Since an underwater plume has been confirmed elsewhere, she is suggesting it's the same with this second plume (but she doesn't yet want to say so without confirmation).

She's saying what she can say as a scientist, which requires more confirmation than a simple opinion.

I used to work on international nuclear test ban verification monitoring, and I know how specific this comments need to be.

Matt Simmons:

"First of all, to the industry's credit, we went 41 years in the United States without an oil spill. In a minor sense, this is what happened to the Challenger. We had so many successful shuttle takeoffs that the space station got kind of casual about this. But this is worse. BP was so certain that there wasn't any risk that three years ago they thought the insurance industry was ripping them off so they're self-insured on this. How stupid! It was the best thing that ever happened to the insurance industry."

Self-insured?! Why would anyone hold an investment in this company??

Let's bounce off his point here, the challenger blew up because the managers didn't listen to the engineers.

"NASA managers had known that contractor Morton Thiokol's design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but they failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning and had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors" Challenger Wikipedia

Sound allot like what BP did.

In the end, I'm sure that this will cost them allot more than doing it properly in the first place, I'm also confidant it could have been totaly avoided if all reasonable steps were taken.

Lets also point out that blowing up the Challenger is allot less damaging then blowing up the Gulf Of Mexico. What do you think would happen if a space shuttle crashed in the middle of New York.

Last point. Any oil spill like this SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN! Not with our current level of technology (at least that was what we were told when Obamma opened up more drilling in the gulf). It only happens because bad planning MAKES it happen, bad decisions MAKE it happen.

Does anybody know if the relief valves on the LMRP have been closed? The visible flow coming out of the bottom of the LMRP appears to be less: You can see almost all of the 'fins' and occasionally you can see through the flow to the bottom section of the LMRP. Any help?

I'm guessing that we are about to roll over to the new thread, but here is a summary of Matt Simmons' recent comments. It looks like he is not backing away from his earlier statements.


Mr. Simmons drew quite a crowd this afternoon (6/8/10). He spoke about the oil spill in the gulf saying, “It is the greatest human tragedy we’ve ever had. It is our Energy Pearl Harbor.” The oil spill must be attended to with the same “intensity” as was used by the U.S. in WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He says that BP has given us nothing but bad information about this disaster from the very conservative BP report of 1,000 barrels leaking a day to the release of the video that they say is the leaking oil. Simmons claims there is a different source of the leak and the video being released to the media is just a 4-foot oil plume, which is much too small to cause such a massive oil slick.

NOAA ship the “Thomas Jefferson,” a technologically advanced ship used for mapping the ocean floor, has found a 400 foot lake of heavy oil sitting at the ocean floor. Mr. Simmons warned, with so much oil in the gulf (what he believes has been 120,000 barrels a day) a hurricane will spread oil over the entire gulf coast. Matt Simmons doesn’t hide his dislike for BP, calling them one of the worst run companies, who he believes will likely have to file Chapter 11 in the next few weeks. A company so horribly run, it thought they could be “self-insured,” which is a relief to the insurance industry.

I like a bit of simmons now and then being a fanbois and all that... but this stuff looks some what loony...has he bets banked on BP totally tanking or summit?

I bloody hope he's wrong BTW

Somehow I think that a company going under is a lot smaller issue than what's happening as a result of it's actions and how that's going to affect an ecosystem and generations of people.

Apologies if this has been posted, but there's some video on CNN of a higher definition (not not true HD!) video of the oil spilling into the sea


And the other spill that's not being spoken about...