The BP Deepwater Oil Spill - of Plumes, and Drillships, FPSOs and the ASJ

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The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has now tested water samples from oil plumes at three sites in the Gulf of Mexico, at varying distances from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said that the tests conducted at three sites by a University of South Florida research vessel confirmed oil as far as 3,300 feet below the surface 42 miles northeast of the well site. Oil also was found in a sub-surface sample 142 miles southeast of the spill, but further tests showed that oil is "not consistent" with oil from the spill.

Lubchenco said the water analysis "indicate there is definitely oil sub surface. It's in very low concentrations" of less than 0.5 parts per million. Additional samples from another research vessel are being tested, she said.

To place these samples in context, consider first the locations at which they were taken.

Locations of the oil sampling sites reported by NOAA

The red star is the well, and the oil from the well was found at the two sites (surface and sub-sea) North of the well, while the green spot which marks the site South of the well which was contaminated with oil from another source.

The oil in the southern location may potentially come from a source which also generated the tar balls on the Florida keys recently. This was the map of natural seeps that I put up the other day.

Reported natural seep locations in the GOM.

It is germane to also note that the concentrations of oil in the plume are at a level of 0.5 ppm. In context that means that there is 0.5 cc (or roughly 0.4 gm) of oil in a cubic meter of seawater. This is not discernable to the naked eye. Thus when a news report (such as that from Sam Champion on the ABC World News) talks of the oil plume and shows the blobs of oil that he saw subsurface in a dive some weeks ago, it is effectively deceptive, since the correlation of the plume with that visual conveys the impression that the plume contains a high concentration of oil. At 5 parts per million, if it takes 3.43 grams of oxygen to biodegrade a gram of oil, then it will only require about 2.7 grams of oxygen to treat the cubic meter of seawater. Since oxygen is somewhat scarcer deeper in the ocean it may much slower that the 100 gm/cu m/day that I mentioned as the top rate in an earlier post But on the other hand it is not likely to take months.

This relatively short-life for the oil after it is dispersed contrasts with the remnants of the oil that was not dispersed, in the colder waters of Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Remnants of that oil still remain 21 years later, and can be found as emulsions, tar balls, and trapped liquid. The suggestion by Jean-Michel Cousteau that the oil should have been left untreated, so that it could rise to the surface and be collected by skimmers, does not recognize that in many conditions skimmers are only able to collect about 15% of the oil, and that in large volumes (as with the Alaskan example) oil, once it reaches the shore, can survive for decades. Better surely to break it into small droplets that are degraded and disappear. And in that regard one of the benefits of adding Corexit to the oil is that it both breaks it into these small droplets, and that in the process it reduces their chance of floating on the surface and contaminating surface dwelling fauna. Corexit even works in cleaning marshes.

In other current developments, the flow of oil from the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) and cap over the well continues to increase.

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.

That increased flow (achieved by reducing the choke on the outflow pipe) can be seen indirectly by comparing the current picture from the Skandi ROV 2 with that earlier.

The small triangular pieces at the bottom of the cap are now well clear of the plume, showing the reduced flow.

As a result this increased flow is exceeding the capacity of the existing fleet sitting over the well. Upstream Online is reporting that as a result BP is bringing a Floating, Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel and a shuttle tanker, the Loch Rannoch, from its station off Shetland to the Gulf. (The Loch Rannoch was involved in another BP accident, a collision that stalled production at the Schiehallion field at the end of last year.

“The crash happened when the 130,000 tonne tanker was docking to take oil from the 144,000 tonne BP platform for transfer to the Sullom Voe terminal, off Shetland. Its only hose-reel used for exporting the oil was damaged in the collision,” the newspaper reported.

And a BP spokesman was quoted as saying that the Schiehallion FPSO was not back in production yet. (November 3rd).

The Loch Rannoch is an 850,000 barrel shuttle tanker, that carried oil from the FPSO at Schiehallion to Sullom Voe in Shetland.

The FPSO is a different sort of vessel. This is the one at Schiehallion (And I don’t think it is coming since it still has an oilfield to service).

The Schiehallion FPSO

At a top speed of 14 knots, and having left last Wednesday, with a stop in Rotterdam, it may still be a while. That will free up the drillship to move on to other things, providing they have an FPSO by then.

And one last point in this series of shorter items that has filled the news today, I had mentioned using an ASJ to cut outwards from the inner pipe of a series of casings, but the illustration I gave earlier had the pipe cut from the outside. This one (the outer casing diameter is 26 inches) was cut from the inside.

(Courtesy ANT)

And this shows the relative sizes and where the cut was made. It is needed as one of the final steps in the abandonment of the well.

(Courtesy ANT)

Perhaps BP might use it when they finally abandon the well.

UPDATE: Given the comment on the end of the sheared riser, and the presence of 2 pipes within it, I thought that it would be useful to show a copy of that image (h/t to houhpc who attached it to earlier comments)

And, thanks to Maude, we also know that they are going to be using the Evergreen Burner from Schlumberger which

performs a fallout-free and smokeless combustion of liquid hydrocarbons produced during well testing. The burner geometry makes extensive use of pneumatic atomization and enhanced air induction. The burner is equipped with twin pilots, a flame-front ignition system (BRFI), and a built-in water screen to reduce heat radiation.

It looks somewhat like this (though I would not be surprised to find that this image had been Photoshopped):

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Question on the 2 pipes in the cut off riser.

Some have suggested that the 2 pipes in the flattened part of the riser that was cut off were the drill pipe and the liner. If the liner was pushed up through the BP into the riser -
1)how far off the bottom could it possibley be?
2) could the liner be above were the 2 relief wells are trying to intersect the well?
3) If so, what what will the RWs use to stear as they get close - if there is not metal liner to use the magnetic properties to guide the down hole magnetic guiding tool?

It is really odd to find two pipes side by side in there. My thought is that the second pipe may related to the stuck drill pipe they had to earlier cut off, abandon, and sidetrack around when the drill became stuck.

Once they have examined the cut off riser section topside they will be able to determine what it is and where it came from.

If you look at the image of the sheared end of the riser (which I added to the main post) the pipes look to be of the same size, which would argue for drill pipe rather than casing, the smallest size of which was the 7" x 9 7/8" production casing at the bottom of the hole (and this is too small for that. Beyond that I don't know where the second pipe came from.

Their size relative to the riser pipe is about right for drill pipe.

The only thing I can think of is that the blowout involved the area of the earlier stuck drill/sidetrack incident, and one of them is a section of the abandoned drill pipe that was blown up hole.

A single pipe squashed into an "8" (a common form) with a fracture at the apex is what I see.


This is where higher resolution imaging would do US a lot of good. But I suspect that BP and those working on this already know exactly what it is they/we are looking at in that photo.

That's what I see too. Just the one sheared drill pipe with a vertical split in it. Kind of like a folded staple in cross-section.

Alan, I believe you are correct. As a one-time pipeline engineer I can confirm this is a common failure mode for pipe squeezed by two flat parallel surfaces. It starts as a so-called "dog bone" shape and if you keep squeezing you will get fractures at one or more of the 12-, 6-, 3- or 9-o'clock positions depending on which is locally weaker.

I see two pipes. What are the diameters of the various possibilities of pipe that could be in that picture? If it is 1, shaped into an 8 and split, what is its diameter?

You guys are the experts with piping but when I look long and hard at that photograph I see two pipes. The separation between them is too straight; the dark shadowing on the right side of the left pipe is a very clean line. Though I can grasp the crush concept you are considering, I can't see how that line would be that straight given all the odd pressures from the giant scissor cut of the shear cutting through these pipes if it were only one bigger pipe within the riser pipe.

Another factor I'm looking at is the coloration on the broken edges of the two pipes. The one on the left has a whitish break which is evident around virtually the whole edge, and clearly evident where it is closest to the pipe on the right; the one on the left has a darker color with only one spot of white close to the pipe on the left. I think cut was made from right to left and the pipe on the right is actually more cut, while the pipe on the left is more crushed broken and that is why the surfaces have a different coloring. If this was just due to the lighting, the bottom section of the left pipe would be darker like the bottom of the pipe on the right.

Finally, if this was crushed in the 8 fashion you postulate it would not actually look like just like an 8 lying on its side, like two circles almost touching. The center part of the 8 would never cut itself in two simply from compression (sorry, hard to describe this). One would easily be able to trace the outline like the "bone crush" that snowball describes, but I see space between the two pipes, not a continuity of one pipe crushed in the center.

A single pipe squashed into an "8" (a common form) with a fracture at the apex is what I see.

In support of that interpretation, the left-hand "pipe" has a 'D'-shaped cross section. You wouldn't get that asymmetric shape from crushing a pipe, but it's what you get if one side of a larger pipe buckles inward while the other side flattens. This makes two 'D' shapes end to end: a 'B' (or '8'). Smashing one of these bumps flat gives a shape more like a 'P', which is what we see (rotated to lie on its left side).

One pipe, crushed, not two.

I expanded that picture and scaled off the OD of the riser. If it is two pipes, the left one is around 5.5 in diameter and the right one around 6.0 in diameter. If it's one pipe, it's not a 5.5 inch drill string, but something around 10 to 11.5 inches in diameter squashed and spit in the middle.

Also if you look at the new high resolution video on CNN it looks to me like there is a drill string on the left flowing lighter material; an annular flow on the right that is darker, and a large squashed pipe between them that is not flowing.

If the outer pipe in the picture is a 21" diameter riser pipe, then the inner pipe appears to be a little less than half that diameter, allowing for the fact that it is not squashed as flat as the outer pipe.

Wouldn't 10" be too large a diameter for drill pipe?

Looked at that too. Flattened riser is maybe 31 inches. One drill pipe flat bout 9"+ (but the left one isn't flat) One drill pipe is too small as fig. 8. IMO
Also I expanded the pic and due to the outlines of curve which appear to be continuous and the decided gap with shadows in between the two features. It's got to be two pipes.

I prob. have video if that would be of any help.

Sure! (amateur speculation alert)
Cause if it's two DP's then either one got sheared by the rams and passed itself in the riser or a joint split and it dropped down when the rig sank jamming into the BOP or the failed piece from the earlier track came up through the casing and lodged at the kink or??

I recommend getting precise with your measurements. Blow up the picture, get a ruler and/or drafting dividers and scale it proportionately. We know the riser is 21 inch OD. perfectly flattened would be 32.9 inches flat. The wall I believe is 0.875 inches thick.

Here is the tubing that BP admitted is in the well in this range from their briefing materials:
5.5 in drill pipe crossing to 3.5 in drill pipe 2000 ft below the mudline
6 5/8 drill pipe 880 ft above the flex joint and in the riser.
9 7/8 production liner crossing to 7inch, so called tapered production liner.

9 7/8 casing
11 7/8 casing

Those pieces of pipe have to be one or more of the above strings.

Using the print it out fit to a page, trace the outline with a thread, measure the thread method, I get an OD for the left tube of 4 1/2" and an OD of 5 1/4" for the right tube.

Since there is no 4 1/2" tube in your list, it may be one of the 9 7/8" tubes crushed and split during shearing.

I realize this is novice, un-informed, way off likely and only very rudimentary.

But, I decided to do some thinking on my own about flow. And, I'd like to here a few thoughts, maybe, about it.

Yesterday evening I decided to do some thinking on my own regarding DWH's possible flow

BP is saying that since the top hat was placed that they have collected as much as 15,000 bbl per day, and adding that the figures were about 40 percent of flow. BP has now said that flow rates are at least upwards of 30,000 bbl per day by their recent collection figures, substantially higher than previous estimates. So, I, like others question the numbers.

So, I set out on a path to understand more about the whole scenario. There are many factors associated with determining flow rate, such as formation pressure, gas/oil mix, density, etc, etc. Those calculations would be quite complex with too many unknown variables to draw any substantial conclusions. And, therefore, I decided to attempt (albeit very unscientific) a simpler means to determine, let's just say a very rough, crude guess based on some known variables within the industry itself.

So, I took some factual information that I could find within the oil industry itself. In this case, I determined that a pump on board a VLCC (very large crude container) has a pump capacity of 5,000 cubic meters per hour. I used the VLCC pump because it is likely a "similar" capacity, rate and volume for transporting oil from production rigs to tankers to being offloaded, etc. I then converted those numbers, first to gallons, and then to bbl per hour.

Keep in mind, there are gases in the DWH collection that have to be flared off, pressure and density differences between the sea floor (and below) which change on the way to the surface, etc. (And, I am working on additional configs as I learn more information - such as plugging in formation pressures of 12,600 psi, confirming like-sized pipe throughput, etc). But, this is at least a start, within industry tools, and basic considerations.

The VLCC pumps are generally said to be low pressure, high-volume pumps. Granted. And, no doubts, the pressure from DWH is considerably high, but not attempting to include those differences here at this time. But, let's take the VLCC's capacity, and then like the spicket in your yard, all but turn it off! That way the VLCC pump is basically a "trickle", and indicating that DWH's flow would be considerably greater than our almost turned off oil spicket.

Let's cut it almost off - delete the 90 percent of the VLCC's flow capacity. And then, plug in the numbers for 10 percent, 1 percent and 1/10th of one percent. I think you get the idea. At one percent the spill is still very substantial, greater than Exxon-Valdez; but, if we take the 10 percent figure, we can discern, no less, that the GOM spill may be substantially more catastrophic.

Here is a simple spreadsheet I put together that reflects the above. See what you think.

I can't comment on the accuracy of your numbers, but it seems reasonable. The numbers are mind-boggling.

Thanks for sharing this.

Thank you HO. The Evergreen Burner will start working on the oil/gas. It produces vapor. How do they set it up?

My browser says the images cannot be displayed because they "have errors". Whatever that means!

So it will be set up in a similar fashion to the current flaring operation?

(I assume the current DE operation is shown in the two photos, which loaded without problem in my browser.)

Edit to add .. per Allen's briefing this am, it looks as if this device will be used on the Q4000, not the DE.

So, wondering: what does account for the "misleading" visuals about the plumes? They are pictures of something, surely. What does that oil come from? And what about the subsea 5.2 quake on 2/10 in the GOM?

(Sorry, I got a 2006 event mixed up with something I heard about happening more recently IIRC.)

There is a massive amount of oil out there....charter a plane, go look yourself. I have seen it from the air, and its huge.

I agree 1000% A MASSIVE amount! yet there has been a very obvious attempt to downplay the volume of Oil spewing from the well, even now, not only from certain areas of the media but right here on this site also. The Gulf coast beaches have been somewhat fortunate to this point, seems the tides are going their way, for now. Scoff at any figures BP releases to the public, their credibility is nil. - Where's the truth? We all know it's coming, not in numbers or estimates but visually as these toxins kill Our wildlife, destroy Our Beaches and the locals lives.

There have been attempts to massively overplay it.


How can we know that any estimate is overstated if we don't know what the real flow rate is?

But the truth may never come in the way you think, since massive plumes remain underwater and may remain there forever.


What and where? Can you share? There is much confusion about what is out there, whether from disagreement, lack of coordination, leadership, or downright obfuscation. Oil has been discussed as spill, leak, sheen, slick, and plume. Estimates have been given in barrels and gallons. Some drifts onto beaches, into marshes, above booms, below booms, and beyond booms. Some floats, some sinks. Most of it spreads at unknown, disputable depths. We have aerial photos above water, remote video below, and bird washing on the ground. TOD is sharing ideas and opinions on reports. Is anyone out there trying to bring factual documentary order to the accumulating photography? Where can anyone who cares to have an unbiased, informed look go?

Last night PBS News Hour showed an amazingly clear HD video clip from last week of the oil gushing out of the BOP. Looks like BP has been holding back from the public again while they foul the ocean and coast. Way to go, BP.

From ProPublica Blog:

BP Refuses to Provide Oil Samples to Scientists Investigating Underwater Plumes
by Marian Wang, ProPublica - June 8, 2010 4:57 pm EDT

The giant deepwater plumes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico have been confirmed by the government [1], but one thing the testing couldn’t confirm was that the oil below the surface is definitively from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (The other possibility is the plumes are the result of natural seepage.)

According to a lead scientist involved in the testing, an oil sample from the BP well would have helped ID the origin of the plumes, but BP refused to provide any samples [2], reported the St. Petersburg Times. “I was just taken aback by it,” said the scientist, David Hollander, who’s a professor of chemical oceanography at the University of South Florida. “It was a little unsettling.”

Once again, the accused in charge of the crime scene.

There was talk a few threads ago about how it was the government's responsibility to collect evidence (in re the flow rate) against BP. I was thinking about it and (standard disclaimer: IANAL) there are areas of the law which do put the burden on the individual or corporation (and these are "people" now, right?) to provide evidence to the government when you know exactly how to access the data the government wants. Offhand tax disclosure and audits come to mind. Claiming it's the government's responsibility to guess how much you earned and tax/fine you accordingly would not get you far with the IRS.

"How much did you make last year?"

"I didn't make anything... I made $1K... I made $5K... I made more than $5K but it's hard to say... Hey! I can afford to buy $15K in savings bonds! ..."

I should hope someone in government could get creative and find a legal way to lean on these people to disclose data like this.

(If I weren't quite the civil libertarian I am I'd say it's time to play the 'national security' card and start waterboarding...)

quizmasterchris -

There is plenty of legal precedent in the US for compelling the reporting of certain data pertinent to environmental protection.

For example, any manufacturing or power generating facility with air emissions, wastewater discharges, or hazardous waste generation must routinely conduct sampling and report the results of that sampling to the applicable state and/or federal environmental regulatory agency. There is also a related requirement by the EPA for submitting an annual Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) form.

Therefore, I don't see why the US EPA could not compel BP to provide oil samples under some provision of the Clean Water Act, not to mention various emergency response requirements. In my view, for all the tough rhetoric by the Obama Administration, it has in fact been treating BP with kid gloves (at least so far).

I was the one who suggested that it is unrealistic to expect BP to provide accurate info on flow when they are facing civil and possibly criminal liability based in part on flow totals and when their duty is to prop up stock value as best they can. As a practical matter, they are the last people you would want to depend on to voluntarily give accurate info due to the conflicts of interest.

Since the govt. is the one who will levy the fine, the burden is on them to prove the violation, not on BP. Moreover, the govt. has all the tools necessary to get any and all necessary info from BP and other sources to calculate flow. If the govt. fails to exercise the powers they have to get that info, you can't blame BP for that.

The govt. does appear to have taken too deferential role on that score, or they are not releasing the info they have. One or the other. Sometimes it appears that the govt. has downplayed the scope of the spill as much as BP. Maybe that's for political and PR reasons, but the blame is not BP's. You can't reasonably expect the defendant to do the investigation and gather the evidence for prosecution in this or any other context.

However, by choosing poorly BP has worsened its situation by having the spill appear in retrospect to be worse than it may have been at the time. They may win vs MMS penalties per barrel, only to lose 10x in stock value and perception as reality sets in.

If they'd measured and ponied up for 8kbpd initially with ups and downs during RITT work, and now, say, 22kbpd-18kbpd captured = 4kbpd, they could have avoided the perception that they've dumped 20kbpd for 6 weeks. And they could have handed over a big check pro-actively as well, for better PR than a legal battle for years to come.

Now they've gone from having a few thousand fisherman and a bunch of tourists angry to having many retired schoolteachers worried and upset about their retirement (and the oldsters will both make phone calls and vote), plus a Presidential ass-kicking in the morning news. And the stock is down while the market is up -- whoops, there went another billion dollars of value.

Further, to the extent that the lowball number contributed to any inadequacy in the response they brought m9ore liability on themselves.

"you can't blame BP for that."

Excuse me if I do go ahead and blame BP--not exclusively mind you--there's plenty of blame to go around. But they are acting in a criminally negligent way. As you say, this is expected (if not excusable) behavior for a corporation--which is why they should all be outlawed.

I may be wrong but I think it's pretty easy to get an oil sample offshore. :)

You are obviously and humorously correct. From a CNN report:

"Through isotopic or microscopic fingerprinting, Hollander and his USF crew were able to show the oil in the plume came from BP's blown-out oil well. The surface oil's so-called fingerprint matched the tiny underwater droplet's fingerprint.

"We've taken molecular isotopic approaches which is like a fingerprint on a smoking gun," Hollander said.

I think sometimes we forget that the spill is occurring under a platform that is some considerable distance from land. The logistical requirements to get, transport and then ship the oil might require that a number of people, currently creatively trying to stop the leak, halt what they are doing to collect these samples. Given the large number of folk that are wandering the various parts of the Gulf coast and marshes dipping their hands in the oil at the moment, I would have thought it would have been a lot easier to call ABC or someone of those folk and ask them to ship a sample. But that being said, it is kind of dumb public relations on BP's part - but then they have not exactly crowned themselves with glory in that aspect of this disaster over the last month.

1) Is it at all conceivable that BP hasn't been taking samples already?

2) Again such small thinking. AlanfromBigEasy and a couple of others point this out all of the time. How is it conceivable that between BP, the rest of the oil industry and the government that no one could spare (or hire) the personnel to do this task? There seems to be an attitude that there's a very finite amount of resources to work with, and everyone can only focus on one task at once, and I'm not buying it. How many people have been idled in the Gulf by this problem who wouldn't mind the work? We have, what, a 10% official national unemployment rate (always an undersestimate).

quiz -- It matters not whether BP admits to having taken samples. Every bbl of oil that has been collected is being sent to a refinery. All refineries do detailed analysis of all the oil they receive. The refining process depends upon knowing those details. Some body needs a sample? No problem....ten's of thousands of bbls hav been shipped to refineries with another 100,000 bbls being shipped in over the next few days. No one needs to take a boat trip to collect samples. The oil is arriving to the shore daily.

I am not sure that they are shipping it daily (but don't know) - the Loch Rannoch should be able to hold about a month's worth at a time, but I am slapping my head in irritation because you are, as usual, right!

HO -- Thad mentioned this morning that they are shipping in close to 100,000 bbls as he spoke. Not sure when the first bbl on nondegarded oil was shipped in but I suspect it's been a few weeks at least. I'm pretty sure the crude buyer has retained samples of every load they've bought. That's fairly SOP from what I've been told.

Does the EPA per barrel fine only apply to oil
that's escaped into the water column or does it
also include the oil being recovered from the
BOP + modifiied riser/top hat apparatus ??

Triff ..

IIRC, under the Clean Water Act, the fine is for oil spilled into the water, so that helps explain why BP is so interested in capturing as much oil as possible; they don't get fined for that amount. It also explains why they are so reluctant to announce what the flow rate of the leak truly is; they know that value will be used to calculate the fine (minus the collected oil).

I suspect it's going to come up in later court cases:

BP: Can you verify beyond a shadow of a doubt that the oil which besmirched the beaches of Louisiana was generated from our well?

The govt: Well, we have samples of the oil that was taken for refining and it matches to a degree of specificity of 99.99999%.....[or some similar statistic]

BP: But not exactly. So, we don't have to pay!

It seems crucial to have samples that came directly from the well so that chain of custody can't be impugned. BP probably knows this, and I doubt it has anything to do with stopping their important work on capping the leak.....

Just my opinion.

IANAL, but I'll respectfully disagree. The big money cases are going to be civil ones, where the standard is probably "preponderance of evidence". Plaintiffs will present a complete story: leaking well, slicks on surface, oil on beaches, VERY close match of oil on beach with oil delivered to refineries. At a minimum, to convince a judge or jury, BP will have to offer an alternative story about how that much oil with those characteristics ended up on that beach. In a civil case, the judge or jury is usually deciding which of the two stories is more likely to be the correct interpretation of the facts.

Clearly, there are going to be a few instances where BP will argue that oil didn't come from their well. For example, it has been reported that the initial batch of tar balls that showed up well down the Florida peninsula were "inconsistent" with oil from the leaking well. I would be surprised if that case ever gets to court (at least with BP as the defendant), simply because the attorneys are going to know that their story has a piece that is essentially "then the oil's make-up miraculously changed."

If I had to make a guess, the interesting parts of the case(s) will be BP's arguments about the size of plaintiffs' claims and other parties' actions. There was a story in the NY Times a few days back that some people filing claims with BP are having problems. For example, when a charter boat captain claiming $50K in losses shows up, BP asks to see their boat ownership papers, their charter license, and their income tax returns from last year. In effect, they're asking for the simplest possible verification of "Yes, you own a boat; yes, you're a licensed captain; and yes, $50K is a reasonable estimate of your lost income." Enough people to be worth a story turn out to have either not filed their taxes or under-reported their cash income for years.

Actually, the legal question that interests me the most is, "What happens when BP Exploration declares bankruptcy and it turns out that the cost of the clean-up exceeds the value of their assets?" BP is a very large company that has been around for a long time, and is actually a complicated set of separate limited liability corporations. At least in the US, it can be very difficult to seize assets across those LLC boundaries.

For better or worse, cash sales of shrimp (especially) are a way of life down here. Bought a few pounds from some "friends". And eaten fish "given" to me :-)

The trip tickets follow almost all Louisiana seafood not sold "off the boat" or pre-arranged.

AFAIK, the IRS has not tried correlating trip tickets with income (perhaps because prices vary so much).


PS: I know a fisherman that covered most of the cost of rebuilding his home after Katrina with barter. Many building trades are willing to "do a deal" for weekend work in exchange for the right seafood (plus some sympathy for the guy).

"BP is a very large company that has been around for a long time, and is actually a complicated set of separate limited liability corporations. At least in the US, it can be very difficult to seize assets across those LLC boundaries."

BP stock down another 12% today, over 50% since the outset. At least in the US, it can be very easy for public perception to destroy value and punish companies regardless of LLC boundaries.

Pretty soon BP might get the message that they didn't manage the spill response any better than they managed the well. Escalation is underway, and the sharks smell blood.

I suspect BP would like nothing better than for the US to seize its US division, if that insulated it from its US liabilities. The market is acting as if that division's liabilities exceed its assets and is pummeling global BP on the expectation that it will be drained.

BP has environmental staff (or contractors) whose job is to monitor the company's impact on the environment. I'd be very surprised if they're not already collecting samples. I'd also say they have no responsibility to hand out samples to the world upon request. They'd need to be ordered to do so by the EPA or other government agency with the authority to demand samples.

They'd need to be ordered to do so

How BP !!


I am an Environmental Director from a different large company (not in the oil industry). I know that if it were the company I work for, we would be supplying the requested samples, data etc.
We have a transparency issue here. BP is withholding way too much information, and not distributing the information in any manner that could be conceived as effective. This will result in massive distrust. They have way too many attorneys telling them what not to say. Result - they don't say much. What they do say is a re-hash of the key messages that they have crafted in response to the spill.

I have been through those media training classes too.

BP must have missed the part about not misleading the audience - it causes distrust.

What we are seeing is an Old-School approach to media management. Tricle out the information and stay on your key messages.

A poster (BP apologist) on the previous thread asked for a link to BP admitting to two felonies.


BP Products North America Inc. will plead guilty to a felony...

BP Products has agreed to a $50 million fine and three years probation.

Under the agreement the Justice Department agrees not to bring additional criminal charges...

BP Exploration Alaska, Inc. (BPXA) will plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the U.S. Federal Water Pollution Control Act and admits, in the plea agreement ...

BPXA has agreed to a $12 million fine and 3 years probation...

The Justice Department and State of Alaska have agreed not to bring further criminal charges against BPXA.

BP America has entered a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the U.S. Justice Department under which the company admits... The DPA concludes all criminal investigations of BP America ...

BP America will pay ... a criminal penalty of $100 million ...


Alan, also on that thread, you mentioned:

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.

Do you or others have similar comparisons for the Exploration or Production business segments? How do the various Oil Companies compare offshore? How can you tell the difference between safest and luckiest?

3 -- Don't have the link but I'm sure someone will offer the details shortly. But as I recall BP's record of safety fines was in a world all to themselves. If I recall correctly over some time period they had more safety violations then the next 12 companies combined.

Lucky vs. safest? In 35 years I've not seen one serious incident that was a result of bad luck. Always poor procedure or human error. The only examples of good luck I've seen is when an operator did somethiing stupid but didn't get burned for it. Kind of like the guy who drives home drunk out of his gord but makes it there safe. He was lucky...not safe.

The only examples of good luck I've seen is when an operator did somethiing stupid but didn't get burned for it.

That's exactly what I was thinking about. If company J has few accidents how do we know they are managing their process any different from company K which has more, or more severe, accidents? Perhaps J was just lucky with unsafe acts or near misses.

All the data I've seen about BP safety/violations is from the Refining sector.

Attn ROCKMAN and others: 2010 World Oil HPHT Drilling and Completions Conference in Houston, Texas, 29 - 30 September

Thanks avon...good timing for me.

Rockman: I'm beating my head on my desk in frustration (HO: try that; it hurts more) because I did not think of BP as the driver who drives drunk and doesn't have an accident. Every time he drives drunk "safely" it reduces what he perceives his risk to be. You may get that hogshead of Blue Bell yet.

Now he's had an accident with fatality. For DD, that would mean hefty jail time for most offenders, and certainly loss of license, plus fine and recompense.

Paleocon: Frequently, retribution, restitution, and rehabilitation are difficult to balance if not in outright conflict. Ask 10 people how to balance them and you get 15 different answers. We see the conflict of opinion being played out on TOD every day. One thing I can tell you: the attempt to balance is not very scientific.

Disclosure: bought BP at 29, Oct calls 40

This reminds me of the introduction of more extensive safety programs in the industry in general and in my area of the oilpatch in particular, Bakersfield/Kern County. This was a few decades ago, obviously. Getty Oil was the first major in our area to introduce widely publicized safety programs with rules, enforcement and incentives throughout their operations, including contractors as much as possible. Somewhat generally speaking, the other majors seemed to think Getty was crazy to spend that kind of money on safety. Until, the benefits became obvious, lower insurance rates, more safety actually lowered cost of doing business and it encouraged everyone on Getty leases to mind their P's & Q's more than they might elsewhere. The other majors eventually followed suit with more safety programs of their own.

Obviously, some companies give more lip service than real life safety. Safety is not luck.

Could it be that companies with good safety records are able to simply have their violations overlooked by friendly inspectors?

Couldn't they be just as guilty but the violations never see the light of day?

Maybe 3d but I haven't met a friendly inspector yet. many seem a tad bitter and envious of the higher paid hands. What ever collusion may be going on I woud bet it's at a higher level than field inspectors. I suspect many big fines are "negotiated" between company lawyers and high ranking MMS managers.


Found this the other day on the MMS website.

In addition to the enforcement actions specified above, civil penalty of up to $35,000 per violation per day may be assessed if: (1) the operator fails to correct the violation in the amount of time specified on the INC; or (2) the violation resulted in a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm or damage to life, property, minerals, or the environment. On a drilling rig, for example, 160 items are checked for potential violations. If significant enough, the violation may call for the particular well component or the entire complex to be shut in. In 2009, drilling operations of 20 facilities were shut-in.

Would be interesting to know how many of the shut-ins were BP rigs. Can't find the info as of yet.

Alan wrote:

A poster (BP apologist) on the previous thread asked for a link to BP admitting to two felonies.

I am not a "BP apologist". I asked for the link because I wanted to see for myself what this "criminal behavior" consisted of. Here it is:

BP Products North America Inc. will plead guilty to a felony for failing to have adequate written procedures for maintaining the ongoing mechanical integrity of process equipment at the Texas City refinery and for failing to inform contractors of the hazards related to their occupancy of temporary trailers in the vicinity of the refinery's Isomerization Unit.

It is important to note that this sort of “crime” is not handled by the criminal justice system.

Consider, for instance, the issue of what constitutes "adequate written procedures"? With entities like OSHA, it works like this: Government never defines what is "adequate" -- it simply demands that "adequate procedures" exist.

Then, when an accident occurs, the government can simply point to the catastrophe and claim that it proves the company's procedures were NOT adequate. Thus ANY accident can be held as proof of criminal behavior -- and the burden of proof switches to the defendant.

And how is the company to prove otherwise? There are no standards of proof in such cases. There are no rules of evidence and no independent judge to decide what is admissible and what is not -- that’s up to the arbitrary judgment of the bureaucrats. And there is no presumption of innocence for the defendant -- just as there is no requirement that the government prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury in a trial.

All of that goes out the window when the government accuses a business of a “crime” for violating a regulation. The government can impose whatever level of fine it wishes. So the fact that BP “admitted” to two “felonies” proves absolutely nothing.

Not that that will mean anything to the BP-bashers.

There was also the second felony to which BP plead guilty in 1999 - this one related to hazardous waste disposal in Alaska.

BP Exploration [Alaska] Pleads Guilty To Hazardous Substance Crime
Will Pay $22 Million, Establish Nationwide Environmental Management System

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. today pleaded guilty to one felony count related to the illegal disposal of hazardous waste on Alaska’s North Slope, and it agreed to spend $22 million to resolve the criminal case and related civil claims, the Justice Department announced.

BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., or “BPXA,” admitted in U.S. District Court in Anchorage that it failed to immediately notify authorities of a release of hazardous substances to the environment, and it agreed to pay the maximum criminal fine of $500,000. As part of the plea agreement, BPXA also admitted that it failed to provide adequate oversight, audits and funding to ensure proper environmental management on Endicott Island, Alaska.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the U.S. subsidiary of BP Amoco p.l.c. – the third largest oil company in the world -- will establish an environmental management system at all of BP Amoco’s facilities in the United States and Gulf of Mexico that are engaged in the exploration, drilling or production of oil. This system will be the first of its kind in the oil industry to result from a federal prosecution.

“This has been one of largest and most complex criminal investigations ever conducted in Alaska,” said Robert Bundy, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska. “The case underscores our commitment to investigate and prosecute violations of environmental laws. Corporations that benefit from Alaska’s resources must also be good stewards of Alaska’s environment.”

This and the felony related to the Texas refinery fire cite by Alan above both popped up easily using the simple search term "bp felony" in Google. Not sure why you had so much trouble tracking them down.

Incidentally, according to a recent SF Chronicle article, BP was warned specifically about problems in that refinery well in advance of the fire. See excerpt and link to the article at

"It is important to note that this sort of 'crime' is not handled by the criminal justice system. "

Just the first of another string of inaccuracies, in yet another post based upon almost nothing else, except spin and twist.

"[T]his sort of crime" was handled by entering into a plea agreement (WRT a felony charge) with the United States
Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, and was approved by a judge of the federal district court, which entered the plea, a guilty verdict on the felony charge, and imposed the agreed-upon sentence.

In what way do you think any of this is outside the criminal justice system?

Now, back to tweaking my system so your posts stop showing up.

kalliergo asked:

In what way do you think any of this is outside the criminal justice system?

In all the ways that I stated.

For instance, the crime of murder is well defined and it is well defined what constitutes proof of guilt and what sort of evidence is admissible to prove that a defendant is guilty.

By contrast, the crime of failing to have “adequate written procedures” is completely undefined. It doesn’t matter what written procedures you have in place, the government will always argue that the accident is proof they are not “adequate”.

I was even involved in an accident wherein my company was able to show that an accident occurred precisely because an employee VIOLATED a written safety procedure. The OSHA investigator said that merely proved we didn’t have “adequate written procedures” for supervising the employees and insuring they followed procedures!

In most cases, you have no hope of winning against these guys. “Adequate” has no accepted meaning in this context. So you agree to the fine, pay it and move on.

BP is a felon, thrice# admitted !

None of their competitors are, AFAIK.

One BP felony resulted in 15 good men murdered (correct verb for felonious deaths) and hundreds more injured. Yet you pohpah it as paperwork errors.

I remember another corporate felon (just one felony), a waste disposal firm rumored to be controlled by the Mafia.

So BP management operates differently than any other oil company (also see 97% of worst safety infractions), but with the same morality as the Mafia.

You *ARE* a BP apologist.


# If in a plea bargain, the Gov't agrees to "postpone" prosecution and the defendant agrees to pay $100 million in CRIMINAL penalties (and $125 million in civil, etc.), then the defendant has admitted to having committed a felony.

murdered (correct verb for felonious deaths)

FWIW, not necessarily. There are plenty of felony homicides less than murder. But that's just a nit.

You mean MichaelWSmith correct? If so I concur and a obvious one at that.

The Loch Rannoch has just exited the English Channel ans it traveling at 13 knots...

I think it will be awhile before it arrives in the Gulf. :-)

CNN just came up with a new low in their coverage.

They gave a surgeon five minutes to talk about a completely idiotic idea to "plug" the well. Basically, a 150 ton concrete cap with a tapered metal spike that would be lowered into the BOP. Why do I watch these train wrecks?

Did this same surgeon suggest that we stop Tsunami by all pissing into the wave front as it approaches shore?

well played

One of the truisms every med student learns on his first surgical rotation:
All bleeding stops... eventually.

So, if 150 tons topples the BOP... NO WORRY!

Let me guess, his specialty is cauterizing hemorrhoids?

According to the calculator on the above site it should arrive in 14 days.

2 weeks at that speed. 10 days if they can get 18 out of her, which I doubt.

Thankyou, Saw that passing here yesterday (Lands End area) and wondered but assessed its direction as Ireland!

Whoops, no, maybe not that. This thing looked more like a platform with a high tower(?) sticking up from each corner. Very slow moving!

I listened to Kent Wells technical review conference call a couple of days ago and looked over the slides.

IMO, getting both the FPSO and the shuttle tanker to the GOM in a couple of weeks is probably fine, as I believe those are the systems they plan to use with the "Overshot cap" (long term containment) solution that isn't due to be deployed until the end of June.

Once the overshot cap and plumbing are in place, they won't need the Enterprise on site.

During this morning's briefing, Adm Allen said he expected the shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch to arrive on scene somewhere 6/12-15.

Other dates he mentioned this morning:

The Q4000 should be in production around 6/14, adding 10,000 bbd in capacity.

The production ship that will be working with the Loch Rannoch - the Torese Pisces(sp?) - is expected 6/19.

Other figures:

DD3, drilling RW1, has reached 8,700' below seabed
DD2, drilling RW2, is down to 3,400' below seabed.

The CNN video of sections of Allen's remarks can be viewed at Thad Allen: show me the numbers

Full remarks and Q&A at Thad Allen briefing - 6/9

Does anyone know how toxic 0.5 parts per million oil actually is? To put it in more familiar terms, that's 0.00005%. In other words, the water is 99.99995% not oil.

The allowed amount of toluene, one of the more toxic components of crude oil, in drinking water is 1.0 parts per million ( I understand this is a low-aromatic oil, so it might have 5% total aromatics, of which a large part is probably toluene. So the actual concentration of toluene in these plumes may be something like 0.02 parts per million, one fiftieth of the amount that is allowed in drinking water.

So, are these "plumes" significant? What is the potential damage to marine life from such barely measurable contamination? How does it compare to naturally occurring levels of oil in the Gulf waters?

As far as NOAA was able to determine one of the plumes was from natural sources.

0.5 ppm is enough to poison and kill fish eggs and larva. Possible some types of plankton too. 1 part per billion is enough to kill of fish egs.
So even you and I can drink it and not suffer a lot, I dobut we would want to do so on a regular basis, but it's poisones enough to kill a lot of different smaller "wildlife" stuff.

So since these are .2 parts per billion it is below the danger?

I found this article on marine tox of oil. I think it's quite interesting to see the interplay between dispersant, oil fraction etc.

"Toxic" is a tough one to figure out. As HO noted, if it were drinking water, the EPA would let you drink it, as non-toxic to humans. And the NOAA report states that the "PAH [priority pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] concentrations measured in these 25 water samples are well below these eco‐toxicological benchmarks."

But there are other ways kilometers-high and miles-wide hydrocarbon plumes might be problematic. Oxygen consumption in the plume might change the biological content in a way that alters viability of different organisms up the food chain. The NOAA data also note that one of the plumes appears not to be from BP oil. I think there are caveats to this interpretation that I note in a comment below, but if these are naturally occurring, then the question becomes whether the plumes the BP leak is making will have a significantly different effect than the natural ones....

But the plumes are almost certainly "significant", only from these early data not EPA-defined "toxic" if you were to desalinate and drink it.

We don't yet have accurate information on toxicity of crude oil in the ocean. However, there is a fairly simple experiment that could provide such data. We just dump a huge amount of crude oil into a somewhat isolated body of water, then record what happens to various kinds of life there over a period of at least 75 years.

Of course no one would ever perform such an experiment, because it would be too dangerous and unethical.

Right. Or: "EPA testing released Thursday indicates that where the dispersant had been used, 25 percent of all organisms living at 500 feet below the surface died."

I have a problem with the phrase "kilometers-high and miles-wide hydrocarbon plumes."

According to Dr. Joye, the plume forms as shown. Near the leak it would be in the shape of a vertical ribbon 200 m high and as wide as the rising plume (my guess: about 50 m wide). It could be infinitely long. It consists of microscopic oil droplets.

As the current carries it away from the leak, the oil droplets would diffuse so it would become wider and higher, and less dense, but still maintain that vertical ribbon shape.

If it encountered cross-currents, it would get smeared out sideways and form a tilted ribbon, wider, thinner, and less dense.

No way could it be "kilometers-high and miles-wide" unless it had diffused so much as to be virtually non-existent.

Although the press and NOAA say that samples are less than .5 PPM their tables in the report show them to be below .5 PPB with an average of .2 PPB. They note that the concentrations even at the surface in the "slick" are low and are not large at any location. The components are in part per trillion. I will let the Bio/Chem guys determine if this is a dangerous plume or if this indicates that a high percentage of the oil is below the surface (Taking the media reports of size of biggest plume and then assuming there are 10 of them ,the oil calculated by using the measured concentrations seems pretty small)

I'm going to see if I can contact NOAA to ask about this discrepancy in the report. 3 orders of magnitude is pretty significant.

That would be good because the table and the constituents and most of the report show PPB and PPT. Unless I am reading the whole report wrong the PPB seem to be the correct (rather than PPM) and would be more in line with what was seen the sampling near the well.

Are the "less than 0.5 ppm" figures just the reporting limits for the testing regime? If so, then the actual values could be anywhere from zero up to 0.5 ppm.

It looks like the sample table was revised to read mg/L. So it's ppm, not ppb.

But that does not make sense either as the NOAA ship values from the previous week and nearer to the well showed mostly .006 with up to 0.07 PPM. They better go back and look at their data one more time to make sure it right as is it a substantial difference. Oh well, we will see.

Speaker: Help me out here. So the values at the 142 miles away location are shown not to be BP spill oil but have the same concentrations of the ones 40 miles away that are BP oil and both are 40 times higher than samples from 2-10 km away from the well?
I think we need a lot more data and a lot of cross-checking. What do you think?

Definitely more data is in order. What we need is enough data to draw an isoconcentration map of a cylinder at least 150 miles in radius and 5000' deep with TDH, O2, and possibly N and P. And one that is evolving with time as well. What we have is far far short of that.

It's hard to know what the 5ppm is....all oil (but not other natural organics?)?, aromatics? (can't be a lot of that anyway). And this talk about the "plume" not matching the signature...duhhh. The oil has been dispersed and chewed on by bugs; it should be wildly different after a week at sea that it was straight out of the tap. I haven't looked up the solubilities of any oil components, but I'm not sure they would be relevant as the termperature and pressures at 3000 feet are quite different than STP. However, the minimal information about the samples and sampling are the real problem....might be intresting to read about in a proper journal in a couple of months.

Back to numbers....0.5 ppm works out to be 3 barrels per cubic kilometer....not a lot, but in the context of the size of the spill (sampling 140 miles away), one can quickly realize that even this low number represents a lot of oil (a circle with a radius of 140 miles, and a depth of 5000 feet could 'hold' 500,000 barrels at 0.5 ppm), but that there will naturally be areas of higher and lower concentration--is 0.5ppm a high or low area?

some great oceanography PhD stuff in the works!

Toxicity is only one of the concerns. Among the others that must be addressed is oxygen depletion, as blooms of the micro-organisms that consume the HC's (there's a lot of methane out there, too) use the available O2.

See the work of Mandy Joye's team at the University of Georgia:

Also, Google for recent interviews, etc. with David Hollander, chemical oceanographer from the University of South Florida. His team has been doing profiles of the HC samples from the plumes.

It is not the short chain VOCs that you need to worry about from this plume. Crude is full of longer chain semi-volatile hydrocarbons that are bad for you in much lower concentrations. Many are known carcingens. These do not break down as fast, and most do not volatilize to any extent.

The VOCs will volatilize through wave action and exposure to hieat, sunlight etc. It's the tarry crap that is bad.

BWD = Blogging While Drunk. A close but less recognized relative is TWD = Trolling While Drunk. But MichaelWSmith's personal rant about me on the previous story seemed a tad too articulate and well organized for BWD. And he's not subtle enough to be a corporate troll. He was probably just venting his inner demons anonymously. I hope the release helped him.

[My response to Alan's question posted on the previous story was hit with the dreaded and feared "comments can be no longer added to this story."]

Government panel expert Ira Leifer was on DemocracyNow this morning, clarifying his prior statements:

Interview at 1/3 way in.

Paraphrasing: "From the information given we could not come up with an upper estimate...Somehow there was a miscommunication and the lower estimate was released as the full range...and immediately a copy of the original document was made available and within a short time many of the statements coming from the government had been changed to reflect that fact."


"While far from known as fact, from a geologic point of view, from a freely flowing pipe, there's no reason [100,000 barrels/day] could not be flowing now...this reservoir is massive, and it could easily flow that amount of oil for the next 20 years...unimaginable damage."

Posted with tin foil hat firmly in place.

Corexit commercial above is an incredibly one-sided view, btw. Nothing about the dangers, both unprecedented and documented, nor less toxic alternatives. And yes, some informed speculative thinking is absolutely necessary here, when the result from only going on established "facts" from atrocities that have already happened is clearly a world without much future.

The use of Corexit is probably the right choice. Nobody has come up with anything less toxic that is available in quantity. The marine toxicity experts have reviewed it and come to the conclusion that the end result will be faster recovery of the GOM. The idea that it is causing the plumes has been knocked into a cocked hat by the NOAA report.

I'd caution that the NOAA report does not rule out that dispersants cause or contribute to cause the plumes. From my reading there was no attempt at dispersant detection in the analysis.
One of the plumes had a different hydrocarbon signature than the riser oil, but here is a question that should be answered before being sure that this is a natural plume (which I think it probably is):

Do the dispersants change the hydrocarbon signature? In other words can micellar suspension (oil plus dispersant), plus time, plus biological activity lead to a different mass spec fingerprint (hydrocarbon content)?

I understand what the NOAA reports says. However if there are plumes from other sources than BP, presumably they were formed without the use of subsea injection of Corexit. Then of course there was the MMS model which also predicted the formation of these plumes.

All in all the idea that Corexit is responsible for the formation of these plumes is not exactly a slam dunk at this point in time.

Agreed, I just wanted to put the asterisk that the analysis is preliminary and subject to caveats so not yet slam dunk to say the plumes are unrelated to the BP spill or dispersant. But at the same time these data definitely support that plumes can form without dispersant, as you note.

Nobody has come up with anything less toxic that is available in quantity.

Define "quantity." BP hasn't even tried, while many experts have criticized the cozy relation with Corexit manufacturer. There were/are tons of alternative far less toxic (and arguably even more effective).

We don't know the impact of spraying 2 million gallons of this stuff a mile deep because it's never been done before. One inconclusive study at this limited juncture that didn't even measure for Corexit is hardly conclusive. We do know a good deal about the potential catastrophic damages, and what happened to workers in Alaska (none of which is to suggest there is a perfect solution...for that one would have to go back in time to at least Bush-era deregulation, obviously).

You must be a real BP operations executive if you can make the authoritative claim that "BP hasn't even tried . . ." But I actually doubt that you know anything about what BP has considered and tried.

Wrong . They have, and that has been verified. CG , EPA, BP have stated that if a better alternative is there it will be used. The cost is small and not a factor. Notice that after the EPA reacted to Nadler's comments (totally political) by sending a letter, things have gotten quiet. If they really thought there was a better choice it would be in use now and they would be harping about it for PR purposes would they not? BP is not that stupid-especially since people say they are being guided by lawyers.
They just gave $360 million to La. to dredge barrier islands that the state has been wanting for years, they funded (with out having to ) $500 million to do research, and what could be $50 million to wildlife and are probably knocking out a couple million a day at the rig site. I am a small company guy and, despite liking Brit's have never had much interest in BP. However, statements implying they would intentionally not use a better dispersant fly in the face of logic. I would also bet that if they wanted to switch, the delays would not be caused by them but rather government agencies who also delayed the dredging and the permits for the Dutch equipment among other things.


General point is well-taken, especially wrt potential delays because of bureaucratic red tape (that's still all speculative, of course).

Bearing in mind, nts, that BP stating, when pressed on the issue, that they will do something not quite the same thing as proof or actual evidence that they have genuinely tried. Show me the proof!

The EPA is absolutely unreliable as an independent check on companies this size (their inadequacy and general failure as a regulatory agency being well documented). So is the government. You say the cost is minimal, but with cozy relations the incentive may be stronger than the estimated penalty. Likewise those band-aid donations, likewise the fines for so many safety violations...just the cost of doing business.

So basically you will not believe anyone except the media sources you quote from? Well, to each is own.

First paragraph of your article says Corexit is banned in Britain. I quit reading right there. And in previous posts you said BP owned the manufacturer of Corexit. Not true.

You have no credibility.

I deal a lot with surfactants in my work. I believe that ethoxylated castor oil (a common agricultural surfactant) is likely to work better, cost less, and be more biodegradable. Not patentable, so that is a problem. The salesman for Corexit is doing a bang-up job.

You suggest ethoxylated castor oil might be tried as a dispersant for oil based on its surfactant properties. How much of this oil could a manufacturer produce on short notice and deliver to the Gulf for slick-spraying right now? Millions of gallons of dispersant are being used at the moment, millions more will be used up over the coming weeks and months.

As I understand it castor oil is a natural product of the castor bean. What quantity of beans is grown and harvested each year, what quantity in currently in stock available to be processed to make the oil precursor? If it takes six months to produce a million gallons of the stuff then it's pretty much useless to fight the existing slicks right now.

There's also the possible toxicity of castor oil -- as I recall it contains ricin, a nerve poison (and a perennial terrorist chemical bugaboo weapon). What are the long-term marine issues with adding ethoxylated castor oil in tankerload quantities to sheltered sea areas, beaches, saltwater marshes etc.? What are its effects on marine wildlife?

The Corexit range of dispersants have been tested and are known to actually work, they are available right now and more is on its way. They may not be the best solution but they are HERE.

there's no reason [100,000 barrels/day] could not be flowing now...this reservoir is massive, and it could easily flow that amount of oil for the next 20 years...unimaginable damage.

That would mean the reservoir has .73 billion barrels of oil, which is not nearly the case. Even if it did, the natural pressure would decline after awhile and the flow would slow down.

Bad data and over exaggeration do not help here.

The most interesting thing to me is the NOAA data on the plumes. Whether oxygen consumption of plume oil can substantially alter the marine environment is an important question to resolve, but the concentrations reported seem low- in the context of drinking water, they are "non-toxic" levels as per the EPA.
Because the 142 mile southeast plume was clearly identified by mass spec analysis to not be consistent with BP leak oil, it suggests the plumes are a naturally occurring phenomenon and a part of the normal gulf ecosystem.

The caveats seem to be:
1. Is the sampling comprehensive- can concentrations in the plumes exceed those reported?
2. If hydrocarbon levels in plumes do not exceed those reported, and the levels reported are not discernable to the naked eye, how could the plumes ever be detected visually? (have they ever been or was that just bad reporting?)
3. Can different dispersants alter the hydrocarbon fingerprint to make it appear that a sample is not from the BP oil leak? Were dispersants detected in the plumes, or are plumes the primary result of oil released in deep water?

In the end it seems that the BP release generated at least one of the plumes, and of course a lot of surface oil. I'd like to know if it is the deep release or the dispersants that are making the plumes of BP oil and whether the southeast plume is really a "natural" phenomenon.

One of the reasons that I repeated the map of the seeps was because, if you look, there is a family of them not that far from the Southern sampling point. Bear in mind that these seeps have likely been there a long time, and will remain, long after this whole incident has been largely forgotten. Given the volume of the total seep leakage (perhaps as much as 4,000 bd) the tourist industry of the Gulf Coast might be building itself a long-term headache by some of the emphasis that is currently being given to the problems (not that they aren't huge).

This is the problem with trying to do science in a crisis - really an impossible task. A responsible study will take time (6 months to a year) and quite a bit of sampling as the gulf is a big place. A fundamental problem will be the lack of pre-spill baseline data for comparison. We don't know how the oil might change in composition and character over time as it interacts with seawater and the gulf biota. We don't know that much about underwater currents in the gulf, although there is some data on this and I expect more will be forthcoming now that there is a perceived need for it. This is also one of the reasons that knowing the leak rate is very important - there needs to be some reasonable estimate of the proportion of oil that is not reaching the surface.

As with the lack of pre-accident technical means to deal with a deepwater blowout - despite ample fore knowledge that such a problem might arise and documentation of specific problems that should be addressed - there is a similar lack of baseline data with which to evaluate the current problem, despite the extensive underwater development of oil resources in the Gulf and the likelihood of a major leak occurring at some point.

Trying to play catch-up over a few weeks or a month or two will not produce satisfactory answers to many rather important questions - we will end up realizing how much we really don't know about the Gulf ecosystems and watching the experiment play out as we work to understand what we are seeing. People with agendas will take preliminary results to say "See, no problem, why all the hand-wringing?" or "The Gulf will become a dead zone!" when the reality is "Wow, we really don't know that much about the consequences of our actions and their effects on the environment because we really never bothered to look or try and understand any of this stuff ahead of time. Only the most grossly obvious effects like oily birds or soiled beaches will be immediately apparent.

Hopefully the end result, in a few years, will be a more mature understanding of this bit of the world and a more responsible approach to extracting the resources we find useful for our needs. One can hope anyway.

Edit: And we can hope that what ever damage we have caused will be accommodated and repaired by the natural systems we have violated...

Concur 100%. In the end I think this will be a very important spill for many reasons. That it is happening in our Gulf with a company large enough to absorb much of the liability (and fund major and transformative research) will certainly result in a wealth of understanding of the impact of deep water drilling.
The spill will make deep water exploration going forward different and certainly more regulated and expensive, but probably also safer for our ecosystems and those punching the holes in the ground.

Yep. The scaremongers and politicians of Florida to date have done more to hurt their state than BP.

long after this whole incident has been largely forgotten

A reasonable estimate for that would be 70 to 100 years, unless a series of significantly greater catastrophes occur later, such those related to Climate Change.

Exxon Valdez is still remembered vividly.

Louisiana's only beach is Grand Isle, there are no others on the coast (some sand dumped near the casinos in Lake Charles I think) and tar balls tend to float towards Texas and not Florida.

I have NEVER seen a tarball on a Florida panhandle beach. Nature does not put them there.


Please tell me you do more exciting things at the beach than look for tar balls. We always looked for shells(and other things on European beaches) and made sand castles.

I grew up in south Texas in the 1970s and remember getting turpentine foot massages after trips to the beach. Port Aransas, Padre Island and South Padre...

In answer to your point No. 2, the media is just reporting erroneous facts and creating visuals that are not factual. An example is Fox News that all day long shows a visual of dispersed oil in the water as they are reporting on "vast plumes" etc. Those visuals are clearly shots taken while the ROV is surfacing to its tender and naturally goes through an oil accumulation over the blowout well. Don't get me wrong, I have only contempt for the antics of BP, the negligence, the arrogance, the incompetence etc which caused this catastrophe, but in all fairness, the media is knowingly reporting incorrect information and hyping the spill for ratings.

BP may be spewing 100,000 barrels a day ,according to this scientist:

Astounding line from that link: "Allen and Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said during the news briefing that they didn’t know whether BP was required to pay federal royalties on the oil it was collecting from the runaway well."

This is how we "kick ass"?

Why would you expect the President's Press Officer to have offhand knowledge about the royalty terms in the lease that BP is operating under on this tract? Anytime one of these folks tries to guess, someone else plays gotcha and developes another conspiracy theory. Most leases call for royalties on the oil sold but have provisions covering wasteage, this could be a special case.

Concentrating on "kicking ass" is not going to be a productive use of efforts in the first place. It was revealing that Obama (pbuh) seems to have that mentality for managing a complex problem.

BP has already said the the donation of their net revenue is after the royalty and the other partners take. Gibbs seems to know everything else. How would he not know that oil collected and sold would have a royalty?

Obama is only "kicking ass" because he took so much heat in the media for being too passive. I find it darkly humorous that many of the same demographics who were raging on him to be more agressive are now shocked and appalled that the President could say "ass" on TV.

People should let the man manage this in his own style, it's the style they elected after all...

What I find disturbing is that policy seems so driven by whatever the public outcry of the moment is (as channeled, purified and amplified by the Talking Heads). Perhaps America is slowly turning into a Mediocracy?

Government of the Media, by the Media, for the Media.


Obama is the Mediocrat president.

Anger here isn't from a media-driven frenzy, but from a growing, 6-week debacle that aptly illustrates BP's approach to situations and people. Americans are reacting to disdain, sloth, and weaseling -- attitudes which are worse than negligence. Obama said the gov't was in control, and that's his 'style', so now the gov't will earn just ire as well. Obama will join the "make it up as we go" perception if he's not careful. He will increasingly struggle to blame BP while saying the gov't is doing all they can -- it's a tricky corner he chose to paint himself into.

Why I've moved from "BP is handling things" to "BP should be skewered":

1) By intentionally not measuring flow, and then acting solely on low estimates, they have assets in place that are inadequate for the situation now at hand. They have had 6 weeks to marshall resources, and yet are now leaking oil solely due to inadequate top-side resources. There is zero reason not to already have resources to deal with max flow of an unconstrained BOP already on-site. Who cares if an FPSO is already working elsewhere? Shut the site down and worry about that production later.

2) After the fact, the history of BP as a corner-cutting, law-flaunting, risk-taking company is now becoming obvious. This points blame at MMS as much as BP, as this was permitted to continue. Blame also goes to the administration -- anytime you have an obvious rogue outlier it is up to those with oversight to reign them in.

3) General defensive posture, and "wait and see" approach. While engineering work seems to be properly parallel, BP drags their feet on everything else. They are slow to provide video, capture details, date estimates, spill resources, response coordination, and a general tone of "it's not that bad" while each aspect continually gets worse. The only logical reason for a CEO to make stupid statements on air is that the company doesn't think it's important not to.

Excellent post! +10000

So many of us want certainty and definitive action rather than wait and see and deliberation over best choices. Lets be candid, best choices are not always immediately obvious in managing something as unprecedented as this, and the negative consequences are huge.

I am always nervous around people who are so sure of what should be done, known in huge issues like this where there is no way they know enough to make the assertions of certainty about a given course of action or decision. Are you saying, Paleocon, that you could do a better job than Obama or know enough to second quess the strategy he is employing in the absolute way that you and some others are extolling?

I do believe as many do, that there was a slow early reaction to this disaster by the administration. That said, I think being careful in making decisions that will have huge impact both in outcomes for the Gulf and financially/legally/politically for all of us -- IS the correct approach. I know it doesnt feel good and leaves us all wondering about the "wait and see" approach, but to my mind, wait and see is about the only way...and it takes a lot of courage and intestinal fortitude to do that in the face of many who want decisive but correct action...

We say that we understand complexity but many times, we don't. We want simple and quick -- no doubts are permitted.

There is "wait and see" for issues that require time, and "wait and see" as an excuse for doing little or nothing.

I'm a "plan the work, work the plan" sort of guy. There is a place for "superheros coming to save the day", but they fly farther and faster with a well-planned logistics tail (somebody has to make sure Superman has a clean cape and doesn't stink when he rescues the damsel).

As I have mentioned, it is too early to judge how the spill response will turn out -- how much oil will wash to shore, how the dispersant will work out, what will die, etc.). It's also too soon to know how Obama will fare in Nov and how BP will do, but I am comfortable in stating that both Obama and BP have made mistakes. I'll give Obama the benefit of the doubt because I expected very little -- he had two options (take ownership, or let BP carry it all and "motivate" from the sidelines). He chose the former in clear statements, but now wants to enjoy the latter as well. It can't play out well in the media that way - responsibility and authority always end up aligning somewhere along the chain.

As for BP, I have indeed moved to judgement. When others said the cap wouldn't work, I pretty much said "give a few days, and we'll see" as I was quite sure it would work to 20kbpd or more based on the pipe size. It does indeed work, but the pipe is sized for the Enterprise capacity, not for the spill. Given 6 weeks of planning, why in the world would you not have a solution that would scale to the max flow of the well? There is no excuse, given the stated risk that top-kill and/or erosion could result in an unconstrained BOP, as discussed here only days after the leak. Maybe BP decided to "wait and see" if the top-kill would work, and then "wait and see" if the Enterprise was sufficient before spending more money or, heaven forbid, making flow measurements?

I am in a "wait and see" mode for the Q4000 taps, and for the RWs. I see no reason to "wait and see" for leakage fines, wrongful death lawsuits, and injunctions. Already the prompt actions have caused BP to hold onto many billions in cash that would have paid out in dividends, which is good for the victims (bad for the shareholders). I think it is likely that BP is rotten at the core, with overvalued capital and overstated assets driving a desperate scramble for earnings which incents both corner-cutting and the penny-wise, pound-foolish actions.

And yes, I am quick to judge, and that is a weakness and a strength. A lot of people can't/won't make decisions until the situation is crystal clear, often when opportunity has passed (if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice). I don't live in that sort of working world, and I will make decisions that are mine to make when it's time to make them, with the information available. Sometimes I am wrong, and I and my employers have always been fine with that. Here, it's just my opinion, which counts for naught.

Well said

Paleocon wrote:

Why I've moved from "BP is handling things" to "BP should be skewered":

Absolutely BP should be skewered -- for their failures. And this . . .

They have had 6 weeks to marshall resources, and yet are now leaking oil solely due to inadequate top-side resources. There is zero reason not to already have resources to deal with max flow of an unconstrained BOP already on-site.

. . . is certainly a failure deserving some skewering. It's inexcusable and also surprising given the amount of money that leaking oil is costing them.

Get real. The White House does not collect royalties.

BP will possibly owe a royalty on the waste, both O&G.

The Executive Branch is explicitly responsible for administrating bureaucracy, such as the ones that collect royalties and fines in this case. If you work for MMS (for example) then the POTUS is ultimately your boss.

The White House does not read the contracts, and no reasonable person would expect the White House to know the answer to the question.

But we're not being reasonable, are we? We're being outraged.

Any possible royalty is an extremely trivial amount compared to possible penalties for spilling the oil. (Anyone know how much? A dollar a barrel royalty vs more than a $1,000 a barrel spill penalty????)

past -- typical OCS royalty is 16.66% off the top

The Federal government can take royalty payments either in cash or "royalty in kind" (RIK) that is oil or gas.

Also, this particular lease would fall under the MMS Royalty Relief Act.

There are different hurdles which define how much, if any, royalty relief one gets. The lease is in greater than 5,000ft of water thus it would certainly fall into one of the buckets. If one could find when the lease was originally acquired that should dictate the volume of production excluded.

Apologies ahead of time if this has been posted, but this scientist is not so sanguine about the dispersed oil in the water. The oxygen that will be used by the bacteria eating this stuff (including oil and the large quantities of methane that are shooting out--something we don't hear much about) will likely deplete the oxygen in the sea water to below the levels that will support complex life.

(Thanks to Shar_lamagne and Cid Yama over at the Env. threads at PO forums for these links.)

Yes, I'd question the ability also of the oil digesting microorganisms if they're all DEAD due to toxins.

How serious is the oxygen depletion problem?

Potentially, this is a very serious problem. At present, oxygen concentrations exceed 2 mg/L but if concentrations drop below that, it would spell problems for any oxygen requiring organisms. The Southwest Plume is, at a minimum, 15 miles long x 2 miles long and the plume is about 600 feet thick. Temperatures in the plume are about 8-12ºC. We do not know the absolute oil content at this time. ...

How much biodegradation appears to being observed for the oil plumes?

There is a tremendous amount of oxygen consumption in the plumes. We have measured respiration rates in the plumes, above and below the plumes, and at control sites where plumes are not present. The respiration rates in the plume are at least 5-10 times higher than we see anywhere else.

Underwater oil plume: Frequently asked questions

While we do not know shat the flow rate is now or has been,
it is darned obvious that 100,000 barrels per day is simply very much too big for an estimate.
The only purpose for saying the number is to increase the size of the "scientists" notoriety.
If the flow rate had been 100,000 barrels a day then the capture of 15,000 barrels would certainly not make an difference in the visual picture. It is very clear that there has been a substantial reduction in the amount of oil leaking into the GOM below the hat. I could easily expect that an original flow rate of 25,000 barrels will be about the final estimate.

What I would like to read something on is the progress with the "Oil Eating Microbes" cleanup application, or if it is being utilized. The eventual cleanup will be done by microbes. It is just so logical to put them in the leak stream from the beginning. And it would seem that applying the microbe mix on the marshes and beaches would nust be a good practice to get a bit ahead of the problem. Has anyone read anything about any applications of that material for this leak?

About the "scientist":

"Ira Leifer
Associate Researcher: Marine Sciences Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Areas:
Hydrocarbon seeps, oil slicks, bubbles, fluid dynamics
Research Description:
The chemical and physical evolution of oil slicks, quantifying oil and gas emissions from natural seeps and leaking wells, bubble chemico-hydrodynamics, turbulence, gas transfer, and fluid dynamics from breaking waves, hydrocarbon and fluid subsurface migration"


So your supposition is that he's worked at this his whole life in order to deliberately make a fool of himself in the international spotlight when the opportunity presents itself? Makes perfect sense to me!

The problem is allowing himself to be interviewed when he knows the rational parts of what he says and the caveats will be ignored,or taken out of context. Remember, like Haywood, he may be PhD's but not necessarily media savvy or beyond political motivations.

Why is this a problem? If it raises anger levels and forces the government to demand more of British Petroleum, then more data would be available for experts like yourself to analyze.

We are already overwhelmed with data that most people choose not to read, know how to analyze or just ignore.

Your right. Less data is surely the best answer here.

Given the misrepresentations of it, I would be fine as long as the feds were getting what they needed. Putting it out on the web is just political gov PR to make us see they are in charge and have a handle on things. It does help to have the country focus on an oil spill videos rather than the economy and other issues we face. Very effective but really accomplishes little in a practical sense.

Your general cynicism duly noted. I disagree about the potential positive effects of more directed public attention and yes, anger (cf. posts above and everywhere calling for more government intervention in forcing BP to release data). True democracy requires transparency, imho. My faith in the government to do what's right without enormous pressure from its citizens is clearly more limited than yours. Especially when the default environment of influence is scores of BP lobbyists from previous administrations, or corporations with cash flow greater than GDP of most countries.

Academicians almost always make a fool of themselves when faced with the realities of the "real world". Their ivory tower perceptions and conclusions are typically inadequate in the invironment of the actual event. The old adage of "those that can, do; and those that can't teach" likely applies here. The only opinions I would consider are those of folks that have worked in deep water environments and/or high pressure fluid/chemical environments (not necessarily just oil).

Over-generalizing always leads errors in judgment.

Patently offensive to teachers of any variety, let alone research scientists. Maybe he's wrong on a specific number but even so I don't think he's generally incompetent, dishonest, useless or what have you.

I should think after this series of debacles that the "can-do" capacities of "real world" folks like BP wouldn't be trumpeted quite so loudly in comparison to professionals in other fields. Why is it so important to slander the capacities of someone like Leifer?

Having been all three of those(teaching, research, private industry) I would agree that the generalizations as strong as you have cited are not true for most people in all of those areas. Unfortunately, once in the public, all are open to ridicule that is often unjustified.
If the truth be known hidden behind the political pandering and media blather, this is probably one of the best examples of how public and private institutions can work together to solve a problem. Behind the scenes there is probably a lot more collaboration going on then is presented by those who have ulterior motivations. Personally, I would love to be on the team that is in Houston working with government, academic and industry folks who are brainstorming and trying to fix this thing.

It would be great to be a part of that Houston team, if I had the skills and knowledge..

That said, going back to the more general issue of interpreting information. We behave as though just having information makes chosing the "right" or correct action obvious or easy. As we all know, scientific and other information is rarely so clear or easy to interpret in terms of the course of action.

Americans particularly are very naive about what the "right" decision is... we forget that political, financial, social issues impact not only how we choose, but the very meaning of the information that we are trying to analyze.... For example, many rightly pointed out the limitation of knowledge on the impacts of the move to make the sand berms around the coastal marshes. Many cite the unknowable and possibly horrible impact on marine life that flows in and out with the tides around these islands... but the concern is couched in the uncertainty of language that science must always communicate when the data are incomplete. But it runs headlong into the "certainty" of regional and national politics where a Governor of a state must seem to be "in charge" -- whether or not his decision is ultimately correct for the impact on the ecosystem -- he is seen as decisive....

That is the fear that I have about the pressure on the Administration to just "do" this or that. And on a national scale, any screw ups would be huge...

I don't know -- its all damned horrible... we will have to live with uncertain leadership because I believe that uncertainty buys us a little time to just figure out what we know...


Thank you for the balanced response, Diverdan.

"The old adage of 'those that can, do; and those that can't teach' likely applies here."

That's so offensive, so silly, so revealing of ignorance and bias... it would not even be justified if it were an addendum to a meaningful contribution to the discussion, which it is not.

He would not be the first enviro-whacko PhD that manipulates information for greater personal publicity. Perhaps you are not aware of ClimateGate? Those folks got into the manipulation business to the extent that they even used teamwork to try to hide the crime. All supposedly experts with long and lucritive careers based upon keeping the lie alive.

The "expert" proposing the most extreme case gets on the news. He is safe though as he is covered by simply saying that it is a possible extimate with no real explanation on how he whomped in the number.

However, you can visibly see the effect of the capture of 15,000 barrels of oil. Do you believe that change is comming from only collecting 15% of the flow? I certainly don't. Based upon the observed change in the cloud at the wellhead it sure seems that they are capturing over 50% of the original volume.

Based upon the observed change in the cloud at the wellhead it sure seems that they are capturing over 50% of the original volume.

It sure seems like no such thing at all. Talk about exaggeration without evidence...

"It sure seems like no such thing at all."

It sure doesn't. +1

Right now you can clearly see the cap from time to time whereas before you couldn't see it all.

"Right now you can clearly see the cap from time to time whereas before you couldn't see it all."

Perhaps it was true, for some period(s) of time and/or for some view(s) of the escaping flow, that "you couldn't see it [the cap] at all." It might become true again, for some views and/or periods.

How do observations like this help to establish that "they are capturing over 50% of the original volume" or any other quantifiable percentage?

Aren't there any number of reasons *other* than sustained reductions in flow that might change the visibility of parts of the cap from one or more angles, ROV positions, moments in time, lighting variations, etc?

Anyway, it doesn't look anything like a 50%+ reduction to me, and my eyewitness testimony is just as unreliable as anyone's.

He would not be the first enviro-whacko PhD that manipulates information for greater personal publicity. Perhaps you are not aware of ClimateGate? Those folks got into the manipulation business to the extent that they even used teamwork to try to hide the crime. All supposedly experts with long and lucritive careers based upon keeping the lie alive.

No Troll

Thanks for the warning. These update posts have drawn a whole new crowd. Some really good stuff mixed in but I haven't had time to update my personal filters
?- )

If this helps, years ago there was a spill in the marsh here in Texas and the State people made a big deal about going out and spraying microbes on the stained marsh grass and in the shallow water. It was actually funny to see them spraying without a nozzle and using their thumb at the end of a hose to get a spray and some distance for the sprayed fluid. At that time I asked my research dept whether we should be stocking some of those little microbe suckers and was told that the spraying was a media hype and not effective at all. They said there are so many natural microbes in saltwater that to attempt to add some by spraying was totally ineffective, a waste of money and time.

Augustus -

There appears to be some confusion regarding the microbial degradation of petroleum constituents.

Yes, there are 'oil-eating microbes' that have been specially developed for that specific purpose. And in the natural environment, when petroleum constituents are present, the microbial population will make subtle shifts toward those strains more tolerant of oil and more capable of using the oil as an energy source. Trouble is: it doesn't happen overnight.

One should also be aware that in the microbial world, the 'food' has to be in water-soluble form for it to pass through the microbe's cell wall. While some of the components of crude oil are slightly water-soluble, most are not. Microbes get around this by excreting various enzymes that alter the surface chemistry at the interface of the oil and the cell wall. The bio-remediation of a crude oil spill is a rate-limiting process which is highly dependent on the mass transfer of oxygen and nutrients (primarily soluble nitrogen and phosphorus), as well as the oil itself, into the cell mass.

Getting back to those oil-eating microbes, they have much the same limitations as other microbes and do not have the capabilities of some monster organisms out of a sci-fi movie. In other words, if you dump some of these oil-eating microbes in a barrel of crude oil, very little will happen. The oil has to be at a sufficiently low concentration in a aqueous medium for the process to be effective. That is why I am dubious of the prospects of injecting specialized microbes directly into the oil stream. The other problem with highly specialized strains of microorganisms is that they tend to get 'mugged' by other naturally occurring organisms once they are out in the real world for a long while. Plus, the oil has already been spread over an area said to be larger than Maryland and Delaware combined, thus making it totally unfeasible to spread specialized microorganisms over such a large area. The problem is way off the scale with respect to a size range where such is doable.

unless those microbes are native to the N GoM, there is no way I'd want to take on the liability of releasing them into the environment.

They could have got there by themselves eventually.Plenty of larger animals are unintentionally spread around the globe by shipping. I'd agree though that local microbes would probably be best suited to the job. Just get some water up from the seep sites, that'll have plenty.

Regarding the "plumes", has anyone compared the water entering the Gulf from the Mississippi river to determine how much oil is contained in it? How about some tests in the western and southwester gulf that have not yet been affected by the spill? I suspect one can find parts per trillion oil anywhere in the Gulf if one looks for it. The media is spinning the NOAA report for their own devious reasons.

So it's the suggestion of the POTUS (for the record I've never been a fan of this one so this isn't partisan defense) that there'd be more active enforcement of the law that's wrecking BP stock, and not their own negligence?

"Too big to obey the law", that's the argument?

Exactly! The way the system works, the stockholders reap the profits (and they have been huge), and they bear the losses. If the company's management expose the company to massive liabilities due to willful refusal to obey the law or follow safe practices, it absurd and pathetic to scream at the govt. for the resulting crash in stock prices.

We the taxpayers should bear the cost so the poor BP shareholders do not lose their dividends for the next 5 years? Hahahaa! I don't think so. Choose your investments more wisely. If you want to go with Madoff or BP because the returns are so great, you're stuck with the dowwnsides, too. Unless you work on Wall Street. Then the taxpayers pay all losses, and you get a tax-payer paid bonus for all of your screwups.

As i wrote yesterday about 40% of BPs shares are held by US "entities" e.g. pension funds.

I just looked up the PA State Public School Employees' Fund, seeing as I live in PA and presumably some people I know are paying into this (have not been able to confirm).

From the Investment Section of their most recent annual report

- The 2009 investment portfolio is was worth at some unspecified point in time $43.3 B

- 23% of this was in stock (7.1% domestic, 16% international)

- Using the 2009 #s, about $6.8 bn was in international stock

- ... of which, $0.77 bn was in BP; this was when they owned about 20% more BP shares than the article referenced above has them holding now

- their pension fund lost 16% of its stock value total in 2009 (whether this is FY or calendar not 100% sure from a quick read), which has not led to apparent collapse

My conclusion: the article is GROSSLY, even IRRESPONSIBLY overestimating the effect of criticizing BP or 'threatening' to make them obey the law on the li'l ol' retired ladies' ability to buy a crust and a lump of coal for the fire in their declining years. [Edit: The key was to list the large-looking number of shares owned by the funds without adding any context as to how small a % of the funds' total value this is for each.] And doing it for cheap political points.

Now, that's if this fund is typical; someone put the whole pension fund on BP like betting a roulette number and that'd be a different story.

Not only do many states (eg New Jersey at 51 million shares) and the United Nations (22 million shares) have Pension funds with significant investments in BP, but as The Times reported last Friday:

BP employs more than 96,000 people in 100 countries and accounts for about £1 in every £6 received in dividends by British pension funds.

Oh, and the list does include the Illinois State Board of Investment, but they only have a million shares, so maybe the part that goes to ex-Senators isn't going to be that much.

Too big to fail has a new, ugly head. Mom would have said, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket".

Employment isn't so much the issue -- as long as oil gets pumped, the same sorts of people will do the same sorts of jobs. Employment will be more affected by moratoriums than by assets sales and bankruptcy. Long-term, employment should level out, though there will be short-term stresses.

Why would a state still be holding shares after the first few days? Does nobody manage their fund actively?

BP has suspended dividend payouts. Stock ticking below 30, down another 15% today.

Please provide a link, there's been a lot of speculation of dividend suspension, but I have yet to see anything definitive.

The PA State Public School Employees' Fund has 7x the number of shares as the Illinois State Board of Investment, and in the case of the former it appears to be less than 2% of their total holdings.

Not only do I not buy "too big to fail arguments" on the whole, I think with some of these pension funds it'd alsmost be "too small to notice" even if BP totally tanks - and THAT'S assuming their money managers hold on to the stock until the bitter end.

I should also note that the the PA State Public School Employees' Fund holds roughly the same amount of shares in a few other oil concerns, including Petrobras. Not sure how that would all play out (is anyone?) but long-term BP failing could lead to a net GAIN in their stockholdings.

Will all those pension funds fight to limit BP's liability for environmental and other damages to a minimum to keep their investments from cratering? A number of state pension funds are already in trouble and cannot withstand heavy losses. Some one's going to come up on the short end here. Stay Tuned.

It's not at all clear to me that anyone has presented evidence that any of these pension funds is going to collapse solely from their BP holdings. IMO this is a bit of ruse that people who have something to gain or a philosophical ax to grind are throwing out there.

Thus far the PA State Public School Employees' Fund, which is the only one I've bothered to research, has lost less than 1% of its total value from BP holdings loss. For comparison, they lost 16% of 2009 value from stock losses... which hasn't scared them away from the markets. A total of 23% of their holdings are in stock. They are diversified, very much so. I see they have holdings in 5 or so oil producers in their top 10 stock holdings.

Until someone posts something showing me that US government (state or lower level) pension funds bet the farm on BP, I call shenanigans.

Edit/PS: Remember that there's a world of difference between "40% of BP is owned by pension funds" and "my pension fund is 40% BP. (!!!)" How many pension funds, how much of each..? The mere fact that we're being given partial data here - hey, 2010 is the Year of Partial Data, lookee there! - makes me suspicious all by itself. The author of the article that kicked this mini-thread off would certainly have pointed out specific way-overexposed funds if he knew of any.

QM: "I call shenanigans" On whom?

The author of the above article that gave big numbers of shares held by funds w/o the crucial context of what % of the holdings of any one fund they comprise.

Edit: Remove DP.

My regards to the highly knowledgeable and committed individuals who run this site and those whoso comments make it so fascinating. I having been reading TOD for several years but this my first (and probably only) comment. It's really a question, addressed to the geologists who hang out here, and it pertains to the clean-up.

I have seen some companies suggesting that certain compounds could be poured upon the waters to absorb the oil and ease collection. A company in Florida has "floated" the idea of using an absobent compound of what sounded like a clay-like substance (I'm sorry I can't find the link ATM)but it was pretty expensive and I assume it would take time to make enough of it.

My question is, why can't they spread the lightest varieties of pumice along the coastline at least in critical areas? Pumice is entrained with gas and air, it floats and has a surface covered with "nooks and crannies" that should trap oil and hopefully aggregate it into "rafts" that could be collected or at least corraled by booms. I would think that it would also help with the evaporation process. Most importantly, pumice is light and easily transported and distributed by air or ship and, aside from transport costs, it should be free. I'm sure that many volcanic locations (including Central America and Greenland) have it in abundance and would be glad to be rid of it.

Here is a interesting series of photos.

and a close-up of pumice stone showing its pock-marked surface.

While this seems logical to me, I have found no discussion of it anywhere else, which leads me to believe that I am probably missing something fundamental. I would appreciate the thoughts that any geologists could offer on this so I could stop obsessing about it.

Also, if, by any chance, this idea has some merit, I would appreciate any suggestion of where it might best be put forward (besides here). I gather that sending such ideas to BP is a lost cause.

Again, my appreciation for the great work you all are doing.


I am aware of an effort to use biochar/activated charcoal in large amounts.

Not such a bad idea.


There's a professor at Texas Tech (in Lubbock) who is looking at ways to use cotton waste, and thinks it would be useful in absorbing oil.
I don't know what would be done with the oily cotton waste, though.

Again, operating from a position of near-total ignorance, I would think that the pumice, once it has collected the oil, would continue to float (since both the oil and the rock float) and it would make, perhaps a more solid "tarball" that would be easier to handle. Given that you could wash these rocks with a solvent, I assume the oil could collected. Though I'm sure the TT professor knows his stuff better than I, I don't believe cotten waste would do that and I would think it would rot quickly. The quantities of pumice available are vast and widespread across the globe.

This link, from, shows a "pumice raft" near Tonga

It seems, in looking at these rafts (such as the "yacht link" above), that they would also "calm the waters" which might make the booms more effective as well.

Good idea if it works. Looking forward to expert comment. The coastal Parishes Governments of Louisiana will jump on it. So far they have been arguing with the U S Corps of Engineers, EPA, and Coast Guard for permission to dredge sand into small berm barriers (with some success, but much legal stalling).

I'm looking forward to expert comment as well. I wish I was in a position to experiment with it, rather than just puzzle over it. I just sent the idea with photos to the DWH site. ("It fell to Earth, I know not where") and I'm shooting an e-mail to Plaquemines Parish as well. It couldn't hurt, I suppose?


Has there been a capture update today? I saw a number or 18,000 in the comments last night, which seems pretty close to the max capacity of the processing ship.

What's happening with the Q4000? Seems like that is taking a long time, given the lines were connected and tested during top-kill. Is there another part of that puzzle missing (new hydraulic modules for the BOP, maybe)?

BP seem to have moved to issuing two press releases a day first at 9:00am CDT with another at 5:30pm CDT, here's the latest:

Subsea operational update:
• For the last 12 hours on June 8th (noon to midnight), approximately 7,160 barrels of oil were collected and 13.9 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.
• On June 8th, a total of approximately 15,000 barrels of oil were collected and 29.4 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.
• Total oil collected in the last four days since the containment system was implemented is approximately 57,500 barrels.
• The Massachusetts began lightering this morning and should finish early morning tomorrow (lightering is a process of transferring crude oil between vessels, in this case, Enterprise to Massachusetts).
• Operations were stable with the exception of a short period, around 2pm, when the Enterprise rotated to set up for lightering necessitating a reduction in choke setting and collected volumes.
• The next update will be provided at 5:30pm CDT on June 9, 2010.
Updated June 9 at 9:00am CDT / 3:00pm BST

i don't have the dates for the Q4000 to hand but seem to remember it being planned for mid June?

think they'd prob have to wait til access to greater processing capacity ...

Extra capacity will be in the form of a well test package that is commonly used to test recently drilled wells. Since nothing is currently being drilled, there should be many of these available. Takes about 5 days to install and test.
I guess what is taking time is installing extra disconnects and safety valves (not required before for top kill) for the hurricane season prep.

Allen said during this morning's briefing that the Q4000 should be ready 6/14. It is being retrofitted to allow the burning of oil as well as gas. (The Evergreen Burner by Schlumberger mentioned above by HO I assume.) That will give it its 10,000 barrels a day capacity.

It would be interesting to know how they determine that the oil in this plume doesn't come from the big spill. What about from that other platform spill in progress? Also, wouldn't the degradation alter the characteristics enough that they couldn't really say if or not? Perhaps they aren't finding any Corexit in these plumes. I remain unconvinced. All we know is that there are these plumes which weren't there before the spill. Which could suggest the obvious.

On another matter - everyone is complaining about how Obama is handling this. But here is another horrifying thought. Imagine if this had happened under a Republican administration? Under Bush and Cheney with their adept handling of Katrina. Or under McCain and Palin. They'd be blaming the shrimpers, probably. Or blaming it on North Korea. And ignoring the environmental damages.

The techniques they will use to "fingerprint" oil samples, like GC and mass spec, will be interpreted as patently false or statistically unreliable by anyone who wants to interpret them as such. What is a hard-and-fast analysis by a technician gets cast as scientific "opinion" by lawyers and the media.

It was their fault!!! well according to this story Cheney's push of deregulators led to BP disaster.

"...I think ultimately it's going to be more damaging to the American republic, to our country, than perhaps the Iraq War or the interrogation policies and so forth that Dick Cheney's more famous for. A book by a political scientist at Gettysburg College, Shirley Anne Warshaw, called The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney, documents a lot of what Cheney did to destroy about a half-century or more's regulatory work with regard to oversight of fisheries, forestry, oil, gas, minerals in general. You name it. If it was supervised, if it was overseen, if it was regulated by the federal government, Cheney with his marvellous bureaucratic talent moved in and essentially replaced the people who were in the positions that were central to this regulation, this oversight, with people who were either lobbyists for the industry being regulated or executives from that industry..."

Uh, he's not now, nor ever was, President. Obama has had a year to undue any such appointments, too. Nor does lack of regulations or per enforcement or law excuse behavior -- it certainly can contribute to risk, but a company chooses how to run itself, and is not blameless. Especially when they STILL broke regs routinely and were written up for it -- they just weren't shut down.

Might as well say Katrina was Clinton's "fault". Bush rightly gets blame for bungled Fed responses to Katrina, especially long-term -- I have never said the first week was a Fed responsibility, but one should expect the Fed to be slow and inefficient. Obama will rightly get blame for bungled Fed responses to the spill, especially after the first few weeks. Really, it's too soon to see how bad the damage may be, but current indications are that Reps and Dems are both adept at pointing fingers and shifting blame while letting the cost fall primarily to local victims.

"current indications are that Reps and Dems are both adept at pointing fingers and shifting blame while letting the cost fall primarily to local victims."

That may be true. But there is a significant difference between them Reps believe the market/industry will best regulate itself and is best left in charge. Dems tend to believe that govt. oversight is needed, and that the market/industry will not and cannot adequately police itself.

Reps are anti-regulation and are more likely to have lax enforcemnt and have industry insiders run and staff regulatory agencises. (Remember James Watt!) That's when things tend to get so cozy that meaningful oversight is lost. That's the goal, though.

Does an noted infraction without consequence, unenforced reg, or non-existent reg make much difference? I'm a "rule of law" sort of guy, and like clear, fair boundaries. I would argue that the libertarian approach is better than what we have now (lots of regs with lots of enforcement, punishing only the law-abiding), but not as good as clear rules with a high probability of consequential punishment for rule-breakers.

This is just like the housing mess, finance collapse, and other lapses of over-sight -- foxes run all the henhouses.

I think that Obama's confusion and lack of effective response regarding this disaster can be traced back to his choice for Energy Secretary, who *should* have been "front and center" in the resolution of this episode. It is nothing more than a multi-phase "physical-chemical process" occurring in a semi-infinite space, and therefore amenable to engineering solutions using commonly available "assets".

However, instead of choosing someone with practical knowledge, like a Chemical Engineer, he chose an "atomic scientist", Stephen Chu, who has chosen to conduct "secret meetings" with a group of so-called "top scientists" in search of answers, few of which have been considered worthy enough to see the light of day.

Dick Cheney couldn't be prouder.

According to me
that story is simply BS
written to cover up the Obama (pbuh) incompetence.

Let the guy describe exactly what regulation controled the decision to remove the mud from a well allowing it to blow. Wells have used mud to control oil and gas flow for decades and it controls that flow all the way down the hole, not just at the bottom. Occasionally mistakes are made and it gets out of balance with a resulting well control problem. Now you believe that Cheney changed the regulations in some way to require a procedure that would cause more blowouts? That supposedly medicinal stuff really can harm you if smoked too frequently.

I don't think they know if there were plumes there before the spill or not. One of the plumes was clearly identified as not being from BP based on the composition of the oil. That would imply either natural seepage or another spill was causing plumes.

As far as the Corexit, it's going to be very hard to associate that with these plumes because the concentration of the oil isn't high enough to form droplets - it's just dissolved hydrocarbon. That could be formed from any deepwater oil spill, and in fact MMS did a study that predicted plumes of this nature would form from any deepwater spill.

Keep on trolling.

Plumes in the gulf, before. Sure. Corexit is great? Right.

Quality work Mr. Fish!


We know oil seeps from the gulf floor naturally, though in lower quantities than what the well is doing now. How do we know that this oil doesn't form plumes as well? How can you say categorically there were no plumes beforehand. Do you have any research that proves this?

Not "categorically"

I can't find a peer reviewed study that proves conclusively that the moon is not made of green cheese.

That said, as I have years spent under the gulf as a commercial diver, I would think that I, one of my brethren, or one of the many research vessels and subs might perhaps have found *your green cheese--before BP*.

Do you have any prior evidence of such plumes existing?!?

Not sure if this has been posted, I havn't seen it but the posts are getting too numerous to read. This is the Government's Energy & Commerce Committee's web page. Tons of links to many informative testimony and documents.

Associated Press have just put up a new "Dive Video"!

Horrible, that's not 0.5ppm. Just because some samples a long way from the spill were very dilute does not mean there's not significant amounts of oil hanging under the surface.

Is BP trying to move the drillship? The shuttle tanker does not have a moon pool to receive the riser. The shuttle tanker does not have any way to support the riser. There is no way they can run the riser through the swivel of an FPSO. Then there’s the problem of getting those hoses over from the drill ship to the shuttle tank. Drill ships don’t normally have loading arms or anything else to handle those large hoses. I don't think a drillship has the pumps to move the oil to the shuttle tanker.

FPSO’s separate oil, water, and gas. What will they do with that crappy water? BP can’t dump it back into the ocean and they have no way to inject it back into the well. The ocean is so polluted now what’s a little produced water.

I think BP is starting to inhale that wacky backy again.

The Massachusetts began lightering this morning and should finish early morning tomorrow (lightering is a process of transferring crude oil between vessels, in this case, Enterprise to Massachusetts).

• Operations were stable with the exception of a short period, around 2pm, when the Enterprise rotated to set up for lightering necessitating a reduction in choke setting and collected volumes.

What produced water?

""There is no way they can run the riser through the swivel of an FPSO""

The FPSO will probably be connected, when BP has the riser connected to an underwater buoy, and then they run a flexible tube fra the buoy til the FPSO.

The tanker can service both the drillship, the Q4000 and the FPSO I belive.

I doubt you can connect the riser to an underwater buoy since it is suspended in tension from the heave compensators on the Enterprise. It would probably make more sense to run a section of conventional flexible riser from the moonpool of the Enterprise in a suspended U or W configuration, with the other end coming up into the FPSO turret.

The water there're pulling from the Lower marine riser. I guess technically it's not called produced water but it is going to be nasty.

How long did it take them to "lightering." a week. I was thinking about doing some serious pumping.

I love all the graphs and technical information. I think I understand some if not most of it, at least the concepts. I drew a picture. Yes, I know it is not very informational, but we are playing England in the World Cup June 12. GO TEAM USA. I think I am entitled since I am out of work and waiting on a BP check.


Feel free to copy and add your own text. Everyone in this county thinks BP is evil, but we still shop at the LOCAL BP stores. We plan to attack BP's bankbook, not local BP people.

No way, we going for the entire BPie, even the little slices.

Does anyone know why Ocean Intervention 3 and Skandi Neptune are moore 3.2nm apart, is there something else going on ?

I dont know its name, but one of the ROVs is now moving around the BOP and has (I believe) a hydraulically driven wire brush in his hand. It shortly grinded at the flexjoint ...I don`t know what it wants to do.

It looks like they are holding onto the cap and adding ballast to it?

There's rumor, and apparently visual evidence that the BOP is off kilter 5% since adding the cap.

Shelburn and others had a discussion yesterday about 3 possibly related developments:

1). Changes in reported pressure readings.
2). Termination of Top Kill effort.
3). Evident change of plans re: attempting to attach a new BOP, etc.

Can our resident experts please comment on the possibility that the Top Kill effort disclosed that downhole pressures are much larger than previously thought?

For example, suppose there is a partial obstruction a few hundred feet below the wellhead which reduces pressure from some large number to the recently reported 4400 psi below the test ram on the BOP. Then there would not be enough distance above the obstruction to introduce a sufficient weight of mud in the shaft to kill the well.

This might have become evident during the kill procedure, and it might explain some of the behavior we saw. At first, reports were appearing from anonymous sources that things were looking good, so far so good, etc. But if the mud reached the obstruction, then any effort to pump it lower would have to overcome the higher pressures below the obstruction.

This might have made people very nervous, since, if the obstruction were dislodged, the 4400psi blowout could turn into a larger event.

Pick your number: 15k, 30k, 50k psi? I have no idea, but I can imagine people worrying that the BOP would blow off into the stratosphere and come down on the White House lawn.

It would explain why the effort shifted from top kill to oil capture and recovery while we await bottom kill.

A downhole sidewall leak could show similar behavior, attenuating the pressure above the leak point. The problem with that explanation is that we would expect to see the leaking material exiting somewhere, but maybe it is following the stratigraphy to some location we just haven't noticed yet.

I think this is sort of what Shelburn and others were driving at yesterday. I'd appreciate any additional comments to enlighten those of us who do not have the special expertise of many of the people who post on this forum.

Here's some poor man flow calculation (some in metric because I'm watching from the other side of the Atlantic). This might give people a feeling what potential flow we are seeing. (I round up numbers in the calc.)

The result of pressure difference from the well to the BOP to the under water pressure, is the flow of oil / gas mixture we are looking at. (And difficult to measure and to calculate.)

The flow exits at a 21" diameter pipe, right? (before LMRC). The net inner diameter is approx. 16"? (outside of flange pipe 21" minus (2x1" of steel) minus two (or one?) drill pipes inside @1,5" thick. (If anyone has more input, that's welcome.) So the net area of this pipe is approx. 41 cm^2.
If a fluid would escape from this area at a speed of 1 meter / sec. (assumption) then we would look at a 130 liters / second flow. (34.3 USG/sec.)
Another assumption is that the mix consists of 60% (input?) methane which can be seen as gas when it escapes.

So, that's 130 liters / sec. minus 60% gas = 52 liters of oil /sec. (14 USG/Sec.) = over 28,000 barrels / 24 hr of flow.

I know I left out many, many variables. Put now you can play with exit speed and gas / oil ratio to see different flow rates.
Again, input is welcome.


Has anyone seen an estimate of how many birds have died so far? Or how many will die in the next year?

I saw that they've reported finding 597 dead birds so far, but I'm sure there are more that die that aren't found- just wondering what the estimate is.

Interestingly, here's an estimate that wind power kills 6500+ birds a year in Washington and Oregon alone:

I understand that cars crashing into birds, kills more than have died in the oil spill and windfarms. Lets ban cars. Also pesticides, kill insects and birds starve. Lets ban pesticides. Don't forget about windows on houses.

Not my cat as well .. please !!

I know mine have killed at least five bluebirds the past month. Government regulation would be great cover for me to tell my family they have to go- so I know how GE feels...

To be fair, there is a difference because of the localization. Taking out .00001% of the population of every species, distributed (although not evenly) around the country is different than inundating the pelicans' nesting area during nesting season.

Granted, I was just using humor, to point out the fact that wind power is not a relatively large threat to birds. Earlier windmills with shorter blades that rotated at higher speeds, did kill more birds, but the latest generation of very large windmills are not so much of a threat. 20 years ago, there was a wind project sited in a non-suitable place with small blades in CA, that has killed a large number of birds and that is often used as an argument against wind.

Earlier windmills with shorter blades that rotated at higher speeds, did kill more birds, but the latest generation of very large windmills are not so much of a threat.

Just for clarification, higher speed here means a higher RPM rate. For a long time, one of the major design goals for turbine designers is to have tip speed just about six times wind speed, since that produces the maximum extraction of energy (number of blades affects the optimum ratio, but assume three blades for everyone, so an ideal ratio of six). Eg, in a 30 MPH wind, you want a tip velocity of about 180 MPH, independent of blade length. Shorter blades require a higher RPM to achieve that.

For a bird flying "through the blades", the higher RPM rate does translate into a higher probability of being hit. The blade that hits them, though, will be moving at about the same speed in either case.

Thanks for that clarification, you are correct. Here is a good resource relating to birds and wind power.


How many people got killed by terrorists vs car accidents ?

Here is a link to a summary that I have followed for some time. I cannot vouch for or against the accuracy or credibility of the numbers reported. All the usual caveats.

It is probably correct to assume that many more may be affected and not found. On the other side, some (presumably small compared to these counts) number of birds die of natural causes and get caught up in the oil post mortem. The daily figures are showing an increasing trend.

Relief Well from Hell


- Casing failure 1,000’ below seafloor (apparently flowing into muck), no limit on loss zone.
- Downhole pressure, 13,000 psi
- Mud Limit before fracturing formation 16.5 ppg

It will be difficult for a single relief well to contain the wild well. One cannot insert enough of the heaviest allowed mud (16.5 ppg) in a 12,000’ column to overcome the downhole pressure. Thus no cementing. An 18,000’ column of 14.6 ppg did it, so a 12,000’ column of 21.9 ppg mud would be required. Heavier mud would fracture uncased formation# around RW.

Some galena (lead ore) based muds to get up to 32 ppg.

Two options I see with two relief wells in combo, called Upper RW and Lower RW.

1) Upper RW is cased to wild well, injects heaviest possible mud and slows oil & gas production to a trickle. Dynamic pressure of pumps added to weight of mud. Lower RW injects VERY heavy cement (add lead or uranium BBs, gold, whatever) with more dynamic pressure. Combined, they hold the cement in place for 48 hours with pumps on.

2) Lower RW reduces pressure by producing oil & gas from a lower intercept of the wild well bore. Upper RW then does conventional kill and cement job on wild well and then itself. The Lower RW cements in itself.

# There is the option of casing the RW when within a few feet of the wild well, but this precludes a “back up and try again” option if the well intercept fails.


Assuming both wells can hit the target....

Two out of four, or five, are better odds !

Best Hopes for more relief wells,


Alan: I liked it better when you were talking a few weeks back on the massive amounts of oil that would be in the loop current by now. You know, looking at the latest NOAA maps your oyster diet may yet stay intact long term. :)

Having spent many years in risk calculations I will just read you posts on the RW's. I will point out though , if(if,if,if) they actually are able to capture the oil with the multiple collection devices perhaps the timing of the RW could be made moot.

That is *NOT* a risk that I am willing to take, just to save the felons at BP a few hundred million dollars.

The oil is still in the Gulf, circulating around. And every minute more flows in becasue BP was too cheap to get enough processing capacity topside.

Oil DID get into the Loop Current, but the the Loop Current shifted, cut off an eddy and sent it towards Texas.

And a record or near record # of hurricanes are expected this year.

Best Hopes for roasting BP's feet, ankles and knees in the fire to FINALLY do the right thing,


Having spent many years in risk calculations ...

What are the returns to the people of GOM for this risk ? Looks like only risk with no returns ...

Note that many of the states like the economic benefits and seem to want them to continue. They will have to decide about their cost/benefit given the future risk.

In option 2, would the lower RW be cased? After intercept?

Once the upper RW is cemented, then isn't the lower RW in the same boat as a single RW? It would have the fracturing problem again.

Might be able to use the top-kill approach to advantage in concert with the RW?

"An 18,000’ column of 14.6 ppg did it, so a 12,000’ column of 21.9 ppg mud would be required."

You would also have a 5000 ft head of seawater so you only need 17.3 mud.

You'd have 5000' of sea water plus the thousand more feet of near-seawater head down to your presumed casing leak at 1000' BML.
Seems like the formation was originally controlled with 14.0 lb mud.
(18,000 * 14.0 - 6000 * 8.9) / 12,000 = 16.6 lb mud for static kill with relief well.
Problem: Leak off test was only 15.9 lb at 17,168 in blowout well.
Under this circumstance the reservoir could not be killed until the reservoir pressure dropped to the equivalent of 13.6 lb mud in an intact well, because the formation (or cement job) would break down.
Of course the deeper the casing integrity has been breached the lower the reservoir pressure has to drop for a simple kill. Could need multiple relief wells into the reservoir near the original penetration - all put on production to try to collapse the reservoir to kill it.

A very naive question here: The relief well has a riser or something comparable, yes? Does this not give you 5,000 more feet of mud length? Wouldn't that provide more enough pressure even at 13.6 ppg?

Amused at something I just realized today: All the people saying "Why don't we just drop something REALLY HEAVY on the well to stop it?" Well, that's pretty much what the relief well is -- you drop something really heavy (a column of very dense mud a few miles long) right on the base of the well, hopefully squishing the oil flow like a bug on the sidewalk. It's just a lot more controlled and more effective than dumping, say, a battleship on top of the well...

I have read a lot of the last week's posting on TOD but have not seen anyone addressing oil capture using the PRP (Petroleum Remediation Product) manufactured by several companies. Why is this not used for oil capture- I would think everyone would be jumping all over it. I am just a bystander though - but concerned.

Hi rusty,

The PRP product is designed for very small spills, measured in gallons, not barrels. It is a good product for the size spills it is designed to handle, but won't scale up economically to handle a spill of this magnitude.


One way to cut down on newbies (like me) posting before they've had a chance to absorb what's here, and cutting down and the general noise, is to (and I assume you can do so) disallow posting until someone's been a member for 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month - whatever.

Many blog formats permit this - and I do think it would help a lot.

I had a professor who dealt with inane questions by giving the individual a homework assignment pertaining to the question. The length of the assignment was relative to the question asked.

I have a difficult time with questions that unravel threads. The topics here are thoughtful and apply to what's happening specific to this site and the main topic being the BP GOM blow-out. When the feeding frenzy begins forward motion on a solution to the problem ceases. This applies to the pros and amatuers.

In response to the *overplay vs underplay* re; this incident I think BP is the main player on the underplay side but the overplay side has been evident from so many camps it's difficult to keep track. Unfortunately many of the overplay statements have come from professionals with supposed knowledge in this field and the *drips under pressure* have only exacerbated the problem.

I asked the question; where's the oil in response to Simmons' oil lake/plume comments. SUNNNV responded with a link to a MMS study on oil droplets by a consulting firm that stated no studies had been done for DW blowouts. They had only done studies relating to hydrate formation at the depths BP is dealing with i.e. NG released and formed hydrates immediately upon contact with water. I asked the question because most of my previousquestions had been answered by the pros here. If Simmons' comment regarding most of what was coming out of the BOP (NG and a little oil)was accurate then the ROV could have had a snowman building contest. Without the NG the 100-150K bbd oil Simmons referenced that was pumping six-seven miles away would have looked like the artesian wells that are common in the Fl panhandle.

An example of overplay/underplay came from USCG commander Thad when he stated this could go on until the fall. I was under the impression most of us understood this but is it possible he was refering to 2011, 12, 13 or 2110.

In closing rant; There's a little Tony Hayward in all of us. How much of the pie do we choose to occupy? Tony can be a glutton at times.

oops PS. Rethorical questions comments.

If the engineers knew hydrates formed and they sleeved the riser to prevent ice plugs why did they ignore the needed radiators for the milk carton with the leg slit? They have changed (I hate to call what they are doing plans)so many times the "brightest and bestest" makes me wonder who is in charge and I think I already read that it seems as though BP is doing a lot to appease the media and the remaining actions are CYA. I am a metal fabricator and looking at the various drawings and renderings presented I wonder if the containment device currently in use is the item set aside prior to the decision to use the straw/tube 1K a day attempt. With the amount of info delivered on the tight lipped grommet needing to fit over the smooth cut on the riser provided by the diamond saw they (whoever's in charge) cut the riser with the scrapyard metal muncher. Why didn't they have a second or third backup saw. I have never seen engineers abandon plans (uugh) at the rate we have evidenced here. Why would anyone station a 15K a day processing unit on a well that's probably twice that much then wait for a ship to pick up the excess. Why isn't the ship waiting a half mile off on standby. I guess the answer to the backup saw is if you can't capture/process then there's no need for the transfer ship.

Hi my414tin,

One reason mentioned for not continuing to saw through the riser was the drill pipe within the riser was not firmly locked in place so the wire saw kept slipping up and down the drill pipe instead of cutting a starting groove and continuing through the pipe. Anyone who had used a hacksaw to cut steel pipe knows the hardest part is getting the cut started.

I don't know for a fact this was the reason they stopped using the saw, I do know it was not because the saw they were using broke and they did not have a backup saw available.

Problem with that is that many of us read TOD for months or years without ever creating an account, until we finally have a comment to post. It would be very frustrating to then discover that you are being banned as a newbie when you've actually been reading the threads religiously for a long time.

Wonder why BP needs collection capacity of 28,000 barrels/day for 5,000 bpd oil flow, or 12,000, or 19,000 bpd:

Well a prof. was on TV yesterday saying that after the cut the flow increased by multiple times. 30k is a multiple of 1k, 5k and 10k.

To Eric D,
re:[new] EricD on June 9, 2010 - 5:26am

"Experimental work is in progress already."

Comments can no longer be added to this story.

Again it's just my gut feeling, I'm only a failed scientist, but if you have time, please try your tube with a plastic coated steel cable inside. An inch thick maybe.(Scaled down for experiments in the sink or swimpool.) Try various sizes. I just think it'll give the liquid a more definite path to follow and help keep the tube from ever getting squashed flat.

There is a general agreement that BP/contractor error are resonponsible for the spill. Now the government has put a moratorium on drilling to make sure it is safe. Now whether other operators are following plans, the MMS is implementing rules, or BOP's are safe has nothing to do with BP (except for their operations). In fact by the accident happening new rules that should have been in existence all along may be implemented.

Yet, Salazar said contractors who lose work due to the moratorium should be paid by BP. That is just stupidity and shows the adaminastration is just after a company. All those wells could be drilled and BP is not responsible for what the others do or do not do (unless a well could not be drilled in the areas because of current ops).
On this one I would side with BP lawyers (makes my head hurt just thinking about siding with any lawyer. Sorry to any lawyers on here)

That is just the Obama (pbuh) administration standing up and showing us that they are accepting their share of the blame. All of the safety reviews that they regard as absolutely necessary, but did not do before, will require a 6 month moratorium to do now and since people will be unemployed, find someone else to pay it.

Glad they got Gitmo closed so soon.

You know I'm annoyed with how Obama has handled things so far and that said, can you cut out the "Obama (pbuh)" commentary? It makes you look childish and like you ought to be on the Fox News site.



I don't usually bother picking on the MSM but no wonder the public seems dazed and confused at time. Lunchtime radio report: Thad has announced they will be recovering 1.1 million BBLS of oil per day next week. Once again they've confused bbls with gallons. And Thad didn't say they would be recovering 1.1 million gallons of oil nor that the flow was 1.1 million gallons/day. But he did say processing capabilies would be increased to 28,000 bbl/day next week when the new procssing vessell arrived.

Have you notice that recovery is now stated in gallons but leaks in barrels? Innumeracy meets spin?

I posted this earlier: coincidence?

Here's some poor man flow calculation (some in metric because I'm watching from the other side of the Atlantic). This might give people a feeling what potential flow we are seeing. (I round up numbers in the calc.)

The result of pressure difference from the well to the BOP to the under water pressure, is the flow of oil / gas mixture we are looking at. (And difficult to measure and to calculate.)

The flow exits at a 21" diameter pipe, right? (before LMRC). The net inner diameter is approx. 16"? (outside of flange pipe 21" minus (2x1" of steel) minus two (or one?) drill pipes inside @1,5" thick. (If anyone has more input, that's welcome.) So the net area of this pipe is approx. 41 cm^2.
If a fluid would escape from this area at a speed of 1 meter / sec. (assumption) then we would look at a 130 liters / second flow. (34.3 USG/sec.)
Another assumption is that the mix consists of 60% (input?) methane which can be seen as gas when it escapes.

So, that's 130 liters / sec. minus 60% gas = 52 liters of oil /sec. (14 USG/Sec.) = over 28,000 barrels / 24 hr of flow.

I know I left out many, many variables. Put now you can play with exit speed and gas / oil ratio to see different flow rates.
Again, input is welcome.


Thanks because a little editing can deflect a lot of egg. I was in the processs of posting and double checked my 100-150K bbls a day Simmons quote.

It is germane to also note that the concentrations of oil in the plume are at a level of 0.5 ppm. In context that means that there is 0.5 cc (or roughly 0.4 gm) of oil in a cubic meter of seawater.

...In fact the water appears clear, and were this fresh water and the oil were instead Benzene, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would let you drink it.

The EPA list you link has permitted levels listed in mg/liter, not g/liter. 0.4 gms per cubic meter of water would be 0.0004 grams per liter, or 0.4 mg/liter. The permitted level for benzene is given as 0.004 mg/liter.

Math is not my strongest point, so feel free to check me on this.

I removed the sentence about benzene. We did some checking, and the EPA requirement is equivalent to 5 parts per billion, not million.

Thank you. The SOP for the media would have been to post the corrrection in a non-revelant thread three days later.

The numbers reported for the sample constituents are in the .00005 mg/liter range.(50ng/liter)

0.4 g per cubic meter = ~ 8 drops in 263 gallons of water.

I can see why they say it's not visible!

About enough to kill this year's spawn of Atlantic bluefin tuna (the ones that can go for $100,000 each in Tokyo).


Could you post a source for the report that 8 drops in 250 gallons will kill the tuna spawn. I'd like to read the study on that.

Source:, June 7, 2010

"A study released last Friday shows that the oil slick seeping out of the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well will cover key bluefin spawning waters north of that Gulf Loop current on the edge of the continental shelf.

"Scientists from the Tag-A-Giant Foundation spent five years tagging and tracking bluefin and yellowfin tuna along the North American coast to determine where exactly in the gulf they breed. Their findings carry an ominous message that bluefin spawning may be directly impacted by the spill.

"Bluefin release their eggs in the top 15 metres or so of water where they drift in the Gulf Loop current out to the ocean. This means eggs – as well as juvenile and adult fish – are exposed to oil and the dispersant chemicals that are now also in those upper layers of water.

"The dispersants may be particularly troublesome since the eggs are mainly composed of oils, which, some studies have predicted, could be broken down by the oil-eroding dispersants."

After Ixtoc, spawn survival was reduced about 70%, but it is unclear how much was due to oil and how much due to overfishing.

However, BP DWH is *MUCH* closer to their spawning grounds.


They're bringing in an FPSO? Will this be the first FPSO to be used in the GOM?
I forget why they haven't been used in this part of the world in the past, despite a long history in the rest of the world.
Will this open up the field (no pun intended) for more FPSOs to be used for production in deepwater GOM?

andrew -- I think I recall a plan by Petrobras to deploy the first FPSO in the GOM but don't know if it's been done yet. Utilizing a FPSO is an economic decision. The GOM has such a well developed infrastructure (mostly pipelines) an FPSO isn't typically the best way to go. These ships are expensive to build and operate

There's a rumor on that BP is about a month away from bankruptcy.

LOL, who's at the bottom of that? Looks like Matt Simmons may have started that one!

Plenty of rumors out there. But they've got GS helping them. You'll know they've bottomed when GS comes to the rescue with a cash infusion below par with warrants upon recovery. That's the signal for hedges to cover shorts and go long. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If they go bankrupt in a month it won't be from the spill, it'll be from some internal crisis. The spill alone would take a few years to fully hit, cash-wise.

Wonder if we will see the same tactic used on Bear Stearns. Buy CDO's on them, then drive the stock into the ground. Having Goldman look out for you could be like having a polar bear watch your puppy. Looks cute for a while...

It's hitting already, cash-wise. They're self-insured.

PC: About a week ago I posted that the real action is above sea level as the financial piranhas circle the sick guppy. Keep in mind, if the Goldman rumor is true, they refused to state publicly while testifying before Congress if, as a matter of corporate policy, they acted in Goldman interest or the client's. Refused to answer a simple yes or no posed to them. Just would not give an answer. Basically, IMO, BP will survive for quite a while, very screwed up no doubt, because the damages are unknown (do the piranhas want to chance getting ill from devouring the guppy?) and the British government won't want to see the largest corporation in GB, a jewel in the crown, dismembered. Subsidiaries may be hived off or discarded. However, the Doctrine of Unanticipated Circumstances is running loose as always. Several who post here have disagreed with me to some extent. Disagree, please.

And I can't imagine who would benefit from starting or spreading or otherwise encouraging such a rumor. Like, you know, anyone who just happens to be short on BP at the moment.

There're many pipelines in this area so FPSO's are not necessary. That's what I think.

Intrigued by your pipeline idea. Are the pipelines set up with valving to add new lines/capacity from new wells that come online?
If so, could they have connected to/somehow sleved and extended the mangled DWH riser to the existing production pipelines and let the blown out well flow into the production pipeline system without processing?

Typically, the production platform does oil/gas separation and then feeds into separate oil & gas pipelines. While there are a lot of pipeline systems in the Gulf, the lead time for planning and implementing new connections would not fit within the timeline for this situation. So using tankers to shuttle product to port is more appropriate.

idontno - start getting oriented in whats happening. It was announced this morning that they are bringing a tanker and a FPSO - so why do you commnet on things you nothing about?

Its af fact - don't bother to overstrain the brian commenting on facts....

Are you sure that wasn't supposed to be a reply to the question about why there were no FPSOs in the Gulf already that they could use?

What are the differences between "nondegraded oil" vs "degraded oil" (besides proportionate evaporation of lighter fractions)?

How is emulsion processed and what is the resulting oil good for / what limitations are there in its use?
Where is salt or sand a problem?
e.g. turbine manufacturers do not like blades being sand blasted by particles in the fuel or nozzles being eroded to a larger diameter.
See GE Turbine Fuel Specifications

Dependent on the type of fuel gas, the geographical location and the forwarding means there is the potential for the “raw” gas supply to contain one or more of the following contaminants:
1. Tar, lamp black, coke
2. Water, salt water
3. Sand, clay
4. Rust
5. Iron sulfide
6. Scrubber oil or liquid
7. Compressor Lube oil
8. Naphthalene
9. Gas Hydrates

Any ideas what Boa Deep C – ROV 1 is doing now it has removed the paint on the joint and is looking so closely at that shiny metal??

I think they may be preparing to semi-permanently install an inclinometer on that spot. I say BOA C's ROV2 pringing one down earlier. Maybe they are going to attach it with some kind of adhesive and wanted the paint off first.

edit: Well, maybe not... I see they are starting on another part of the flex joint now. The ROV screen says "BOP Flex Joint Cleaning". Must be a janitor bot. :-)

Watch and see what they do.

They are preparing to weld some brackets on the flex joint to attach the next cap. Either that or inspecting cracks.

The conspiracy theorist in me wants to know why they happen to start this right where the logo is. Did Oil States think that they were getting bad publicity?

Maybe they sold that spot to some other sponsor. I thought it was starting to look a bit like a NASCAR race technology-wise (no, that was not a compliment).

Perhaps looking for signs of metal fatigue, due to stress from the riser collapse and subsequent activity?

The paint has been buffed off where the ROV has been "holding" the inclinometer for the last few days when it surveys... perhaps semi permanent attachment of two magnetic base inclinometers for greater accuracy? Perhaps lean angle data is needed for overshot tool implementation next week?

David -- I think you have the gist. An emulsion is a big downgrade. Takes a good bit of effort, time and chemicals to break the emulsion. And some folks forget that oil is an organic compound and does go bad if exposed to air. Bacterial degradation is not uncommon in all production. I have one well that has a little H2S in it and as a result I have to treat it with chemcicals to kill the bacteria (which love to eat sulfur). Otherwise the bugs plug up my production equipment. Sand can be a problem but that's relative cheap to handle. Basicly the way the crude buyer handles it is to negotiate a deduct for whatever degradation they see. So that crude might be posted at $75/bbl but there might be a $10/bbl deduct on that price if the oil is screwed up some.

Well Texaco went bankrupt when Pennzoil won the case against them-the Getty merger. It was just so they could avoid the settlement that was given to Pennzoil.

Just a bit about ppm concentrations, microbial activity, etc.

The significance of a pollutant at a ppm concentration depends a great deal on what it is and on what you are. Benzene as an example is not highly toxic to humans (people used to wash their hands with it); it is however carcinogenic. There are also of course issues of the accumulation of pollutants up the food chain, on top of which we sit. A ppm can become a ppt if it is strongly accumulated. Do petroleum-derived HCs accumulate?

My understanding is that at concentrations below about 2 ppm dissolved O2 can in general limit aerobic microbial activity. And of course any O2 at all inhibits anaerobes, who can't break down HCs unless you provide them with some other electron acceptor. So seawater in the 0-2 ppm of O2 range might slow down the biodegradation of the submerged oil.

There are an extremely large number of facets to the interaction between this (or any) oil spill and the biota.

A quick Google search suggests that at least some PAH components do.



Dispersant increases the bioaccumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons into golden-brown algae.

Abstract Title:

Effects of Salinity and Temperature on the Bioavailability of Dispersed Petroleum Hydrocarbons to the Golden-Brown Algae, Isochrysis galbana

Article Link:

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1998 Aug ;35(2):268-73.

Article Source:


Abstract Author(s):

Mielbrecht, Schwartz, Singaram, Sowby, Tjeerdema, Wolfe

Article Affiliation:

Applied Sciences, 254-A, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA


Comparative studies were done to determine the influence of a dispersant on the bioavailability of naphthalene from crude oil to the unicellular golden-brown algae, Isochrysis galbana, under changing temperature and salinity conditions. Conditions were selected to represent a range (two temperatures, 12 and 20 degreesC, and two salinities, 22 and 34 per thousand) encountered in Pacific waters, where extensive crude oil transport and refining occurs. Cells were exposed to laboratory preparations of either the water-accommodated fraction (WAF) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil (PBCO) or a dispersed oil (DO) mixture of PBCO and Corexit 9527(R) spiked with [U-14C]naphthalene. Uptake increased by as much as 50% in DO, 20 degreesC exposures run at 22 per thousand (0.24µmol naphthalene/g algae in WAF, 0.37 µmol naphthalene/g algae in DO) compared with comparable exposures at 34 per thousand (0.23 µmol naphthalene/g algae in WAF, 0.37 µmol naphthalene/g algae in DO). A 24-h bioaccumulation factor (BAF) calculated in the absence of steady state indicated increasing bioaccumulation with decreasing temperature. No significant variation in relative metabolite composition occurred under the different experimental conditions. Results of these experiments showed that the use of dispersants enhanced the uptake of naphthalene by microalgae under a variety of temperature and salinity conditions, independent of aqueous concentration.

Why is the BOA DEEP C Rov1 removing the label on the OilStates Flexjoint ?

I just came over here to ask the same thing.

They're friggin' sanding off the paint to get down to the metal for some reason?

Why didn't they do this top side? Some days I feel like they want to jerk our chains.

That is the flex joint on top of the BOP stack. It would solve alot of problems if they could just take it all topside and work on it! ;-)

I think they are preparing to fit some instrumentation onto it to monitor tilt.

Perhaps to attach a utrasonic sonde to measure the flow rate? You wouldnt think to find a serial # by chance??

My mistake. I thought it was part of one of the new units that they just brought down.


Looks like this forum is more interrested about rebuilding the world than providing comments/explanations on what is happening downthere...

TOD can multi-task.

Our core competencies are figuring out the truth about future oil & energy supplies and how to adapt the world to a new reality, post-Peak Oil.

BP Deepwater is just a short-term distraction.

Best Hopes for learning more here,


A paper of mine that helps solve the US's energy, economic and environmental problems here

pdf warning

OK, but you have the ball indicator visible...

Well, ROV2 brought down an inclinometer that looks like it could attach there, and its screen says "Inclinometer Readings". (It is just sitting and waiting.)

Maybe they are installing something they can remotely monitor. Or maybe something else. We will just have to wait and see what they do.

James.... are you in South Africa ?


Looks like the amount escaping is less than before.... How did BP manage this "pumping" ?

They've probably figured out how to alter the video feeds to disguise that the well in now flowing twice the rate it as before they put the hat on it.

I regard to the samples taken, tested and results noted how can there be justification for labling this as an oil plume? I would expect an oil plume to be exactly that, oil. At a minimum there would be high concentrations of hydrocarbon contaminates.

Yes, I wish they would find a different word for those large areas of slightly contaminated water instead of 'plume'. 'Plume' best describes the clouds of visible oil such as we see billowing up from the top of the BOP.

I am just AWED day after day. .
Does anyone in their right mind not see
how evil this BP is ..
(and I am not religious,
so don't mis-term the word evil)
I mean EVIL.

They are now at 'a possible'
6 times the EXON VALDEZ's 250,000 barrels.
and 6 times the daily (5000)bbl
that they kept nodding and confirming for weeks!

6 times the amounts!
And they don't listen to the government,
basically laughed in the US government's face to
stop using the dispersant!

How can this be?
How can they get away with this?

US Government is controlled by foreign Oil Money,
That's damn scary,

"The U.S Government is controlled by foreign money"
Get used to it. It is going to get worse.

An iclonomterer might sugest movement of the Stack?

Or at least concern about that possibility.

I might note that the the top of the stack is bent, I think between the flex joint and the hydraulic coupling below. We do not know if the BOP itself or the well casing are plumb or not, but they know because we have seen them checking measurements.

The round leveling device with the ball bearing in it is already all the way to one side, so it gives no useful indication other than that it is not level. They may want to attach some instrumentation just to make sure nothing changes, as a precaution. Or, they may know that something is unstable and feel more urgently about monitoring it. We do not know, but they do.

I did not know that worldwide natural seeps amount to about 14 million barrels a year. This leads to a paradoxical consideration.

14MB / year are about 1000GB in 71000 years.
So in about 100000 year it would seep from the seabed an amount of oil comparable to the world reserves.

Most crude produced today is between 10 and 270 million years old. Assuming an average of 100 million years for simplicity we get a cumulative seepage for the last 100 million years that is about 1000 times the present worldwide reserves.
How is this possible ? Where do all this oil come from ?

I just assumed that the present figure for oil seepage are roughly valid also for the past, assuming that this period has nothing particular about oil natural seepage.
Can anybody tell me where is the error in this reasoning ? I do not think we should take in consideration the discredited theory of abiotic oil to explain this

I believe some of the distinguished geologists on board have posted that a large percentage of all petroleum ever formed has escaped to the environment. The reservoirs we located today are the exception, not the rule. Hopefully this puts your dillema in a different perspective.

And total reserves likely does not include a vast number of very small pockets of hydrocarbons, which could conceivably leak to form part of the seep total but would never be found, documented, or produced for any reason.

I imagine WHT's dispersion model would estimate the number and aggregate volume of such reserves, but I don't know that his theoretical approach could ever be verified at that end of the scale. I feel pretty confident we'll eventually locate the vast majority of the top 100 largest fields, though. I don't know which would carry the bulk of the total oil in place.

Here is the McClatchy article with Ira Leifer and Thad Allen talking about possible flow rates. I don't remember seeing it actually posted. It is dated June 7. They want to hold BP's feet to the fire.

From a article today:

"A team of researchers and government officials assembled by the Coast Guard and run by the director of the U.S. Geological Survey is studying the flow rate and hopes to present its latest findings in the coming days on what is already the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

In an interview with The Associated Press, team member and Purdue University engineering professor Steve Wereley said it was a "reasonable conclusion" but not the team's final one to say that the daily flow rate is, in fact, somewhere between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million gallons."

And here is that excellent HD video of the Riser shortly after it was cut with the Shear. Blitzer talking with Ira Leifer about it.

It is clear that there are 2 distinct streams coming from this cut; one red/brown and the other black. Comments from the pros??

I think the lighter is comming thru the drill pipe, more expansion than the oil from the riser?

An assertion that today's selloff is due to Simmons' ravings:$400+Billion/5717097.html

More likely that the cause is here: "Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a Senate hearing he would ask BP to repay the salaries of any workers laid off because of the six-month moratorium on deepwater exploratory drilling imposed by the U.S. government after the spill."

Jeez, these threads fill up so thick and fast, by the time I've read half of them they're closed and too late to reply! My special genius is posting right at the cut off point so I don't think anyone reads my rubbish anyway….

I posted the results of some wellbore and collection pipe models earlier.

RE the 6 inch pipe to surface, Paleocon asked :

"Does it much matter how much the water split might be? Or the GOR?From these graphs it appears that much higher volumes are possible given the 1200psi blocking pressure, so the realistic limit is upon processing, not transport up the tube?"

It seems that the collection system is much less sensitive to water cut and GOR than you might assume. If the cap could be thought of as a conventional reservoir at 5000 ft depth and hydrostatic pressure then you would be very worried about these things. But since the BOP is delivering at a constant pressure (maintained just above hydrostatic in the cap) and since a lot of gas has already come out of solution on the way up the wellbore so that the average density in the collection pipe is quite low, the lift characteristics are excellent. The system could in principle flow at much higher rates limited by fluid delivery from the BOP.

RE flow rate determination, several people (Shelburn, nwaelder, et al ) asked about calculating a worst case scenario based on observed pressures at BOP and reservoir.

There are too many unknown variables to do this properly, but I've had a quick attempt. First, here is a graph from BP which I found in the Appendices of the Plume Team draft report posted on this site earlier.

This is important because it shows what BP thought the reservoir deliverability was like on May 25th, and also what their model of pressure drop up the flow path looks like. The left hand axis is bottom hole pressure and the bottom axis is rate.

The thin line declining from left to right ('reservoir') shows how large a pressure drop is required at the bottom of the hole to make the reservoir flow at a particular rate (in this case a drop of 100 psi causes a rate of 30,000 stb/d so the productivity of the well is 30 stb/d/psi which is high).

The other line rising from left to right ('annulus') is the pressure required at the bottom of the well to flow at a particular rate up the annulus against the head of the wellbore fluids and any frictional pressure losses. This depends on the pressure at the top of the well, and we don't know what BP assumed (perhaps the old 8000 psi figure).
In any case the operating rate for the reservoir/well system is where the lines cross, at 20,000 stb/d.

To make my calculation I have adopted the BP view of the reservoir deliverability, but made my own annular model following the casing schemes released elsewhere. For a completely unrestricted flow up the annulus I get the following plots, assuming well head pressures of both 8000 psi and the newly released 4400 psi (data which was also dated 25th May). Plot is below :

This suggests a maximum possible flow rate of just over 50,000 stb/d at the lower well head pressure, and only 15,000 stb/d at the higher pressure.

There are of course many issues with this :

- the BP reservoir deliverability curve must be a guess, higher or lower productivities are conceivable

- the flow geometry in the model is very simple; in reality the flow through the breached cement will be complex, and there will likely be debris and other damage/restrictions elsewhere in the bore (this would reduce predicted rates)

- we don't even know if the shoe track cement is breached so that fluids are coming up the production casing (this would increase predicted rates)

- there is a chance that the last 3000 ft of flow is dominated by flow in the drillpipe

- we don't know if things have changed since May 25th, etc etc

You are a Nodal God...

Your last name isn't Sutton is it??


The thin line declining from left to right ('reservoir') shows how large a pressure drop is required at the bottom of the hole to make the reservoir flow at a particular rate (in this case a drop of 100 psi causes a rate of 30,000 stb/d so the productivity of the well is 30 stb/d/psi which is high).

High my ass that borders on the inconceivable!!!!! is it 100 psi or 1000 (to get 30 bpd/psi)


What is a "burst plate" on the MC252 well? This hasn't been discussed here yet? In his press briefing today, Thad Allen was asked about supplemental leaks on the seafloor, and he responded by talking about general concerns of increasing pressure in the well bore during "top kill" and other operations, and that they don't know the condition of the "burst plates." From his description, it sounded like a kind of automatic safety mechanism that would engage if the pressure got too high. He mentioned a concern that this systems could fail (or become overwhelmed) and potentially release oil and gas to the surrounding geological formation (but that they didn't have evidence that this was taking place yet). He's not the most descriptive person … what is he getting at?