The BP Deepwater Oil Spill - of Plumes, and Drillships, FPSOs and the ASJ - Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please move comments to

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):

Prof. Goose's comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Don't be afraid to go back and read the last couple of open threads yesterday and today before you start on this thread. They are really good, and will likely catch you up if you have been out of the loop for a while. We shut down threads when we get to 300-400 comments, as it's really unmanageable. Lots of good stuff in there though.

Not sure where else this should be most appropriately posted — but I would like to give a big thanks to those that participate in this forum with
Deep Water and many other areas of expertise.

With the over-educated curse of being from the biological science as well as mechanical engineering backgrounds, the frustration with information from other sources has been enormous. Having those here patiently answer the dumb questions about this matter close my heart ( I live in the gulf area) , has been fantastic. I can say I would not be so patient with the dummies in my own areas of work, but I am learning a valuable lesson on that, too. Many thanks. My wife thanks you too. She was sick of hearing about it before I discovered

TOLD YOU! Magnificent timing. REPOST :

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

==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.==

What do you think is the pressure differential inside the cap vs. the two outlet pressures (ambient and pipe)?

There was a neat table published recenty that I think had a few hundred psi differential at the BOP exit relative to ambient.

I wonder why they did not try to put a low pressure drop diffuser to create a more stable "reservoir" inside the cap.

Hi Dimitry,
I've no real idea what the differential is, I simply assumed around 200 psi and this now seems to be consistent with the surface pressures they are reporting.
They have the tricky job of balancing the surface choke settings with the amount of blow through the relief valves and past the flange seal, with the number one concern that the cap pressure does not drop below the ambient of around 2200 psi.

Thanks for the personalized feedback!

How capable is the software? Does it handle a transition to turbulent flow?

I know one graph a few days back included temperature -- can it model temp and pressure to indicate clathrate-forming zones?

If some moderate degree of seawater can be tolerated, then perhaps the cap can indeed get the spill down to "a trickle" once enough surface capacity shows up. I would hate to learn the water-cut threshold be trial-and-error, though.

These curves illustrate the impact of BOP erosion. They'd be collecting all the flow at the earlier pressure's the decreasing restriction that is probably causing the problems now. I hope they don't have to deal with 50Kbpd rates eventually.

Hi Paleocon
My pleasure!

The tool is very good at predicting pressure drops for 'normal' production well flowing conditions up tubular flow conduits (or annuli). The correlations used are actually largely based on lab experiments. Different flow regimes are recognised, some of which are chaotic, eg the transition from bubble flow (in which the oil contains small discrete gas pockets) to slug flow (in which the gas pockets coalesce). The impact of vortices around discontinuities in the flow path down hole (eg presence of completion equipment) is apparently generally not significant. I don't know how turbulent the flow is as it exits the sheared riser and flows through the cap and into the collection pipe, but my guess is that in the entire system the pressure drop due to gravity/density dominates and the extra drop due to turbulence would be less important. Just a feeling.

It can calculate hydrate forming regions, will do this if I get time. My guess is they will not risk allowing water into the system and will always control the system to keep positive pressure in the cap. There will thus always be some blow by the flange seal and they won't capture 100%.

I haven't seen a shot of the top of the cap for ages but I bet they are still venting heavily there, and they might have a good chance of reducing that enormously once they get some more surface capacity installed.

Never mind theory. BP claims to be recovering 15K bpd from the cap now. The plume billowing from the cap overflow still looks to my eyes to still be greater than the flow from the fractures in the kinked riser before it was cut.

I don't see any way that total flow from the cut riser could be less than 30K bpd at a minimum.

As for the bizarre assertions by Matt Simmons of a massive leak from the sea floor miles away - I just hope these are nothing more than mental confusion from the imagination of a senior citizen under stress

Nice job. A jury can understand this.

Could someone make a list of frequently asked questions and their answers? E.G. why a nuke won't work (possible fracture of seabed) or why won't a big tapered plug work (partly extended shear in the bop?) I'd like to be able to refer my neighbors and friends to it.

When you come across a post you like, click on the Permalink,top tool bar, and book mark it in a new Folder. I use "TOD". Then you can send the link to all your friends and neighbors.

Why won't a nuke work? Well, it probably would work, but it is still a bad idea. The idea is to use a carefully controlled blast to crush the well, thus shutting it off. However if it does fail, you could be left with an out of control hole in the ground with no hope of shutting it off. A nuke destroys the well and this closes out all of your options. A relief well is a much better idea.

As far as using a plug to seal the top of the well goes, it could lead to excessively high pressures near the top of the well that could rupture the outer casing(s), leading to a blowout and you are back to having an out of control hole in the ground with a potentially higher than ever flow rate.
At present, the consensus seems to be that at least one of the well casings may be compromised, thus reducing the integrity of the well. Closing off the well at the top is thus a bad idea. The safer route is to kill tyhe well from the bottom up usimg a relief well as a pathway for mud and cement.

Good question. It seems like there's a few obvious questions that many of us have - and I suspect that buried in the miles of threads, there's an answer to everything and a FAQ would help. Of course, Oildrum is a better place for (intelligent) answers instead of the mainstream media.

For example, why can't another BOP be installed on top of the cut riser to completely shut off the flow of oil? I guess I'm picturing the deepsea robot equivalent of Red Adair turning some huge valve to shut off the flow of oil.

Another question, how come the BOP can't be repaired to shut of the flow of oil. Doesn't the BOP have triple redundancy? One would think that our friendly deepsea robots could fix (engage) at least one of the shut off valves (or shears)?

Yet another question, I've seen comments that the pressure is now too high coming out of the cut riser to recover more than a fraction of the oil (with the riser package). Why can't some sort of T - fitting be installed on top of the cut to split the flow (in two). Wouldn't this reduce the pressure in half? I guess you would need two ships to 'suck' up the oil. But isn't that what BP should be doing - sucking up all of the oil instead of trashing our country?

Short answers:
New bop? How attach? Weld at −5,000 ft? Remove or cut massive, high torsion bolts with an ROV. No can do.
If you could do: now with damaged well casing , arguably you are better off if you let it flow. Stop the leak and just comes up in a couple of days from the sea floor ( courtesy of the pressure you created a path at weak casing ( ~1000 feet) and then you have a situation you cannot capture or plug, even with a nuke and an SUV.

Short answers:
New bop? How attach? Weld at −5,000 ft? Remove or cut massive, high torsion bolts with an ROV. No can do.
If you could do: now with damaged well casing , arguably you are better off if you let it flow. Stop the leak and just comes up in a couple of days from the sea floor ( courtesy of the pressure you created a path at weak casing ( ~1000 feet) and then you have a situation you cannot capture or plug, even with a nuke and an SUV ( an obscure reference to the guy that offered his HumVee to plug the well).

I think they believe they can release the LMRP and they were planning to attach another BOP there to try to stop the flow.

For reasons that were never fully explained by BP or the government they canceled that plan very abruptly.

Yesterday's threads have quite a bit of discussion about the change in plan including theories of why and also who might have actually made the decision. There is some indication it might have been the government shutting BP down.

The existing BOP can not be repaired except by recovering it to the surface. The ROV spent several days trying every way they could think of to operate the rams and it is possible they may have dome some good but couldn't stop the flow and the subsequent erosion.

The recovery doesn't have any problem with pressure at the LMRP, it is recovering as much as they can handle aboard the ship and is capable of handling a lot more, probably the entire flow but they are already processing about 10% more than the rated capacity of the ship and more than that could cause safety problems and another fire or explosion at the surface.

This got cut off in the discussion of whether the 12,000 ft relief well would be able to generate enough static mud pressure to stop the well:

A very naive question here: Why doesn't the mud column extend all the way to the sea surface? Does this not give you 5,000 more feet of mud weight? Wouldn't that provide more than 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...

It was an aircraft carrier - the USS Ronald Reagan. The Admiral stole my idea. He'll probably get a whole chapter.

The book is almost writing itself, thanks to all.

I am giving you credit in the book. Mentioned you to Geo. Washington of geo. washingtons blog. He had given the admiral credit and I referred him to your Huffington post comment. By the way thanks for pitching the book, it looks like I have a publisher. Thanks again to all the fans.

Are the gold hexagonal pieces that pack together going in ?


landrew: I demand inclusion of my black hole solution. What's wrong with you?

bb -- The relief well will have that extra 5,000' column of mud. But when they start pumping the kill pill into the blow out well it can attain a max column of only 13,000' since the riser is gone. But the water column will add about 2,3000 psi to the 13,000' mud column. One difficulty will be that the oil/NG will continue to flow up as they pump the kill pill. This will dilute the kill pill's effectiveness to some degree.

You can do your own BHP (bottom hole pressure) calc: mud weight (in #/gallon) X 0.052 X mud column height = BHP in psi. If it originally took 14.0 ppg mud to keep the reservoir from flowing when it was drilled then reservoir pressure = 14.0 X 0.052 X 18,000' = 13,104 psi.

Here's a test: if can can only get a 13,000' column of mud into the blow out well what mud weight would you need to generate a 13,104 psi BHP?

Ah, thanks, of course.

Let's see... you need 13,104 - 2,300 = 10,804 psi mud weight

So x*0.052* 13,000 = 10,804
x = 10,804/(13,000*0.052) = 15.98

I guess this is a specific problem of underwater wells, otherwise you wouldn't have the shorter column in the wild well than in the relief well. It just gets more and more interesting...

There was some discussion earlier that the requirement of heavier mud in the RW might cause it to break down the formation since it would have a full 18,000 ft column. Would it be possible to inject nitrogen into the RW BOP kill line to lighten up the top 5000 ft of head to keep from breaking down the formation, but still being able to deliver heavy mud to the orginal well?

Very insightful Rio. They actually do stratify the mud weights. They'll have different MW in different tanks and can pump lighter mud after heavy. And it can get complicated: they can have one MW on the "backside" (the area between the RW hole and the drill pipe). But when they make the intersect they can pump a different MW down the DP into the blow out well. No doubt we get into all the messy details when the RW gets close.

Well, I have picked up a few tricks over the years as my family has been in the drilling business for a long time. Below is my dad on the slips and my uncle on the brake in1922. Grandad is one with hands in pockets.

Good to have you around then Rio. I'm not as knowledgeble avout dumb iron as I pretend sometimes.

bb -- you have learned well grasshopper. Now, the complication: why not just use extra heavy mud? The rock also has a pressure at which it will breakdown (the frac gradient). If they pump a 18,000' column of heavy mud down the relief well they could fracture the rocks at the bottom of the RW and potentially lose it. One more little complication: they have to pump the mud down. The pumping action adds an effective greater BHP...the ECD (effetive circulating pressure). Pumping a 16.5 ppg mud might have an ECD of 16.9 ppg. But turn the pumps off and the ECD goes back to 16.5 ppg. One more problem: there may be other pathways the kill pill could flow besides up the inside of the production csg. Hitting theblow out hole with the RW will be the easier part. Killing it probably won't be.

Rockman: Just for amusement value, what's your over/under date for killing the blow out?

EL -- Nope. BP has an estimate and I think one wrong answer is sufficient.

Thank you. You kinda answered my question.

Also once access is gained to the blow out hole could a packer be set just below the seafloor to isolate the top 5000 ft of head so the nitrogen could be cut off?

That is a darned good idea. I've been trying to solve that problem from the other end, the blowout well end. Did Stephen Chu invite you to the meeting?

I had expected that it was possible to pump different mud weights to get the stratification. however I had thought of it as more difficult in the the hydrostatics had to balance at just the right values to kill the flowing well, which will change the mud weight with its varying and subsiding (hopefully) flow. But then the weight in the Relief Well is going to continue to overbalance and push mud out of the blowout. Getting it just right is not really that simple and could take several attempts with flow restarting again.

I believe that the RW casing program is about the same as the blowout well. Maybe the question could also be "Can they get enough mud flow rate down a string of 4" to overcome the flow from the formation." I'd guess the answer is yes but this is one heck of a capable resivoir BP has located. It could take all of the reserves to pay the damages.

"I believe that the RW casing program is about the same as the blowout well"

I would hope that they would have a hell of a lot better casing program and make sure they have good cement. We don't need 2 wells blowing out.


But it really wasn't so much the casing plan as the cement job that caused the problem. Failure of cement is not really something that is rare, that is why it is checked and double checked. There are now computer models of everything. But I've never seen the monkey that came back from the bottom of the 7" with a cement quality report, even with internet access.

This well was drilled and controlled just as several thousand others have been for decades, using drilling mud. They drilled into the pay and it was under control. Trip the tools out and under control with mud. Run the last pipe string and under control with mud. Send the cement down and still under control with the mud. In all of those respects it is no different from any other well in the southeast oil province. Someone screwed up in evaluating the cement job. Problem maybe compounded in having a compromized BOP, maybe. Compounded further because of the 5,000 ft sub sealevel creates access problems.

I've recently wondered if the airlines have spill recovery programs. A 747 leaving Chicago for Shanghai has about 550,000 lbs of fuel on board. If that thing goes down in Lake Michigan the fish kill would be disasterous. Should each flight plan include a crash spill control plan? Exactly how many fuel recovery ships should the airlines be required to have standing by on Lake Michigan? And then they need to cross the Pacific. How Many recovery stations, and how far apart, are required for protecting those waters that are so precious? It does get complicated.

Actually, various issues with the casing plan have been raised - portions not tied back to the top, lack of locking ring, too few centralizers making cementing problematic, questionable decision making re safety of the design with exceptions to standard safe design being approved, numerous changes late in the game... All this has been discussed repeatedly including the recent discussion of Mark Hafle's testimony at the MMS hearings.

Also I would think you would be able to adjust the effective mud weight in the RW quickly by ajusting the nitrogen flow.

I'm beginning to understand why it took 9 months to kill the Ixtoc blowout. I remember the incident vividly, but since that was long before TOD we great unwashed masses never really understood the particulars of what was happening.

Rockman: Is there a way to estimate the losses through the "other pathways the kill pill could flow" from current pressure differentials?

The 13,000 psi reservoir pressure estimate seems like a reliable number, as does the 4400 psi at the bottom of the BOP. Can we use this information to estimate what might be flowing out now through the casing damage?

"The rock also has a pressure at which it will breakdown (the frac gradient)"

Let me guess, this value can not always be anticipated precisely and is sometimes learned the hard way? Leaving you wishing you had started drilling that second (and third) relief well three months ago?

The multi-level intricacy of the RW operation is definitely becoming more and more apparent. Maybe it'll all go in perfect textbook fashion. So far nothing else has with this well...

bb -- They actually have a better idea about the pore pressure profile and frac gradient after they drilled the blow out well. The logging data from the first well can be used to come up with a more accurate model than they began with. I use to calc these parameters in another life. But still won't be a walk in the park even with this extra info.


Normally when killing a well, bottom hole pressure (BHP)is held constant by keeping the pump rate steady and changing the choke to keep the drill pipe pressure on the graph, as this will be a wait & weight kill with dynamics thrown in. As this well in effect has a fixed choke, restriction in the well plus any BOP restrictions, then to maintain constant BHP will have to controlled by changes in pump rates.

At the same time to loss zone will need to be addressed, I suspect they will be pumping loss circulation material (LCM) to try and heal the weak formation so it will be capable of handling final kill mud weight.

As for the relief well being full (18000ft) compared to the blow well with 13000ft of mud plus 5000ft SW, should not be tooo much of a problem. The annulus of the RW will have drilling wt mud. The BOP will be close and kill weight mud will be pumped down the drill pipe with an open path to the blow out well. Therefore the pressure from the kill weight mud will be relieved though the blow out well at the sea bed. There will be dynamic forces due friction from the restriction in the blow out well.

The kill mud would would be displaced from the RW drill pipe before pumping stops, but it would "U" tube by itself. This would be tricky as there would be a negative pressure at the pumps until the mud reached TD.

What would help is a method of measuring the pressure at the BOP. In fact maybe the C&K lines maybe able to be used as a choke and pressure reading.



I wish they had sound on the ROVs. It could be very informative.

You'd hear the continuous roaring of the escaping oil, plus maybe high-pitched whistling where it flowed through restrictions in the BOP. You'd listen out for any shudder or flutter which might indicate an obstruction working its way free. The cap rocks on its seating flange. That would cause some bumping noises. There's the hiss of the dispersant spray. You'd listen for any groaning or screeching indicating something was getting too highly stressed. The ROVs themselves would generate propellor and machine noises as they maintain station and manipulate their tools (I would love to have heard that diamond saw). And banging noises as careless drivers bash them into stuff. And if you heard any bubbling noises of gas escaping from the sediments you'd probably get worried.

Anyone know if the ROV drivers have an audio channel?

It would be nice (from an aesthetic standpoint) to have some audio as background to our video. And before someone writes in to say "they haven't got time for fun and games down there", let me say it could be very informative in an engineering sense: imagine what might be heard if one could apply a "stethoscope" to the well head or BOP (or apply three and get some spatial imaging of sound in the BOP). Likewise to other parts of the containment cap and riser tube, and the general ambient sounds perceived at some distance from the well.

Serious composers of modern classical music might be interested in the samples -- after all, there is already a work based on the sounds of humpback whales, and this could be something similar.

Oh yeah, ring tones -- plenty of commercial potential there.

Right now, it seems to me, vision is the only one of our five senses being used to control the ROVs. Just recently BP has started to deliver some HD video and, yeah, that's a big improvement, now we can see more of what the ROV controllers presumably see. But our other senses remain unused. Okay, nobody really wants to *taste* or *smell* the oil and gas leaking out of the well, but a sense of touch would be a huge asset in controlling an ROV. Just think about that poor guy trying to get the socket wrench aligned over a nut on the BOP a few days ago. With touch sensitivity, it would have been a piece of cake. It would have been something that could have been done in the dark (or in the midst of an opaque cloud of oil). That's the sort of thing that ought to be researched in universities and the like developing undersea technology.

Back in the 1960's there was a lot of interest in undersea colonies ("City Beneath The Sea" by Irwin Allen, etc) and it seemed that the subsea environment would become a new habitat for man, possibly on a massive scale. Well, that hasn't worked out -- so far.

zzzz ... Maybe I lack imagination, but I vote for crew voices.

I agree crew voices. I can imagine they wouldn't want to do that though. I imagine we would have heard some pretty colorful language the other night when they were trying to put the socket on the nut.

I'd settle for a twitter feed with posts every few hours stating what each ROV is doing next. But then we wouldn't be sitting here speculating about it :)

Your description sounds like my neighbor's car.

Repost--due to lack of "air-time" in previous thread.

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.

Again, what confusion and please summarize what was the lack of effective response and the consequences of that lack?
1) Are you saying that his choice could have somehow averted the disaster or the scope of the disaster in some real time, boots on the ground way?

2) That early interventions of the appropriate nature, presumably proposed by this theoretical engineer could have assured what? More booms, faster, more (fill in the box) faster, better, averting x amount of damage? Can you say that -- please support your assertions

3) Secret meetings that we all knew about, right? So much for trying to think out of the box. Should all of us have been invited and a transcript provided of their brainstorming ideas for a solution -- a quite different purpose than Cheney's closed door meetings, me thinks...

4) Please explain and quantify the results that would have been materially different if Obama had an engineer as Energy Secretary and also the nature of the so called lack of "effective response"

The Oil Drum is really good about requiring us to provide supporting details. Please do so.

I think Chu was/is a good choice for his job.
His background is excellent for the difficult job of analyzing/choosing energy decisions.

The present problem was not created by Chu, rather by the culture/personnel that Bush/Cheney gang created in MMS bureaucracy.

Also, what is your source for the supposed fact that Chu held "secret meetings"? Please provide a link for your assertion.

I'm not sure why you perceive a lack of air time. Finger pointing in a partisan light is inappropriate. If there is fault with the current administration then it would be negligence on insuring appropriate personel and equipment to address the disaster. The USCG is responsible for cleanup/organization and BP is responsible for the tab. I see no reason why we need to wait on BP to provide the necessary equipment. What makes a chemical engineer a better choice or an atomic scientist a poor choice? Most of BP viewed Tony Hayward CEO in a good light before the blowout. What part of a degree equates to practical knowledge or management skills.

The nature of the degree means that an engineer is oriented towards practical knowledge more than a scientist. Engineering is "applied science". That said, I believe an engineer would have made sure the following was handled differently:

1. More workers on the beaches. Google "elmer island cleanup" for details on how not to do it. An engineer knows how to mobilize when manual labor is involved. We have 8 million unemployed. You'd have seen a dip in the unemployment rate and an army of workers on the beaches pouncing on each tar ball and bit of slick that came ashore.

2. Proper boom use. Booms parallel to the shore are useless. Booms should be oriented at an angle, at least two deep, to guide the oil to a place on shore where it can be recovered and dealt with.

3. Spill volume. An engineer probably wouldn't have accepted BP's estimate of 5000 barrels per day but, even if he had, when BP recovered 5000 barrels in one day with the siphon and the leak continued unchanged, he would have obtained reliable data, even if he had to send a research sub down there. The threat of that probably would have made BP cough up some measurements they would have taken and an engineer would have recognized if they were reliable.

4. An engineer would not have let BP be caught short with processing capacity. He would have realized as soon as the cap started working and the flow continued unchanged that more than 15,000 barrels per day could likely be recovered.

5. Relief wells. An engineer knows how much can go wrong with the relief well type of attempt and he would insist on at least three wells being drilled. Evaluating cost against risk is something an engineer does regularly and two wells doesn't cut it.

These are just some of the things we, on the outside, have seen and have observed as not working properly. You can bet that an engineer on the inside would have done dozens of other things differently. I'm not saying that having an engineer in charge on the government side is the only solution but they haven't got the right people in charge. These things should have been done better. That's why the administration is being criticized.

I'm failing to see anything in your list 1 or 3-5 that wouldn't apply if you changed scientist for engineer, and I'd imagine 2 would have been done in consultation with knowledgeable people anyway. (For example, ask any grad student about being assigned all sorts of grunt-work without a second thought by the glorious leader. Likewise for 5, people tend to assume scientists work at some slower pace, but in reality these days it's very much short-term-goal focused and they have no qualms about spending more money to ensure a key goal (often data collection) will be acheived with high certainty. Indeed I wonder if the whole endeavour is being bottlenecked by some number of key equipment: can 3 relief wells be drilled given the currently available equipment?) I think there's two issues to consider here:

1. A lot of what's happening is new territory. Doing new stuff is takes longer and always looks more error prone than solving a problem that's already been solved N times before for the N+1'th time. (Not to say there haven't been mistakes, but IMO the big one has been waiting until a disaster happened to begin testing all these ideas.)

2. The openness (at this stage, not at a later post-accident investigation) charge is a red-herring. If they'd had a strategy that worked would the vast majority of people have cared whether they'd seen it evolve in public or not? It's because things haven't worked that we (in general) imagine things would somehow be improved by openness.

In short, I don't think either an engineer or a scientist would do things particularly differently.

Engineering is "applied science".

Tell that to every person lying lying under a pile of rubble after an earthquake. Tell them their building had undergone seismic retrofit based on applied science. Maybe it was how the science was applied that makes the difference which brings us to the real topic of why the blowout occured. Now go tell the famlies of the 11 crew members who died how an engineer is the best choice in dealing with this disaster.

They were also told that there buildings were not 'engineered" to withstand earthquakes. A retrofit can make it better for $XX or they will tell you to tear it down and rebuild for $XXXXX cost and be very safe. Some people choose to take the cheap way out and ignore the advice.

The nature of the degree means that an engineer is oriented towards practical knowledge more than a scientist. Engineering is "applied science". That said, I believe an engineer would have made sure the following was handled differently:

1. More workers on the beaches. Google "elmer island cleanup" for details on how not to do it. An engineer knows how to mobilize when manual labor is involved. We have 8 million unemployed. You'd have seen a dip in the unemployment rate and an army of workers on the beaches pouncing on each tar ball and bit of slick that came ashore.

2. Proper boom use. Booms parallel to the shore are useless. Booms should be oriented at an angle, at least two deep, to guide the oil to a place on shore where it can be recovered and dealt with.

3. Spill volume. An engineer probably wouldn't have accepted BP's estimate of 5000 barrels per day but, even if he had, when BP recovered 5000 barrels in one day with the siphon and the leak continued unchanged, he would have obtained reliable data, even if he had to send a research sub down there. The threat of that probably would have made BP cough up some measurements they would have taken and an engineer would have recognized if they were reliable.

4. An engineer would not have let BP be caught short with processing capacity. He would have realized as soon as the cap started working and the flow continued unchanged that more than 15,000 barrels per day could likely be recovered.

5. Relief wells. An engineer knows how much can go wrong with the relief well type of attempt and he would insist on at least three wells being drilled. Evaluating cost against risk is something an engineer does regularly and two wells doesn't cut it.

These are just some of the things we, on the outside, have seen and have observed as not working properly. You can bet that an engineer on the inside would have done dozens of other things differently. I'm not saying that having an engineer in charge on the government side is the only solution but they haven't got the right people in charge. These things should have been done better. That's why the administration is being criticized.

Brings to mind the old joke. To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Engineering is "applied science".

Tell that to every person lying lying under a pile of rubble after an earthquake. Tell them their building had undergone seismic retrofit based on applied science. Maybe it was how the science was applied that makes the difference which brings us to the real topic of why the blowout occured. Now go tell the famlies of the 11 crew members who died how an engineer is the best choice in dealing with this disaster.

Umm.. all you have to do is look at the death toll in Haiti versus the death toll after Loma Prieta (a substantially larger quake) if you think seismic engineering does not save many, many lives... and I'm not even an engineer. There will always be failures; no human endeavor is perfect. Which is why we need to be ready and able to handle failures when they inevitably occur.

My favorite engineering joke: Give someone a little red ball and ask them to determine its volume. The mathematician calculates the volume integral, the physicist uses the formula for the volume of a sphere, and the engineer looks it up in the Little Red Ball Book.

I don't think applied compared to none at is is a good comparison, but the joke is cute/funny. Of course the mathematician and physicist don't see what's funny. There were lots of applied and failed science prior to the distruction caused by the Loma Prieta quake. With all the advances in construction Loma Prieta proved what engineers thought and stated as factual, in many cases wasn't at all. Lots of changes were made as a result but what it didn't change was the core of Rockmans posts; human behavior. Another building or bridge will fail/fall because a contractor took a shortcut. Northridge brought lessons to the table also. Yes many lives were saved because of the advances in science.

You have chosen a bad example. Earthquake resistance is probably one of the best examples of civil engineering success. Look at Chile at the recent earthquake this very year. The performance of buildings that were built to standards was quite good. Mostly only the buildings that were built outside of the current national standards failed. "Most of Chile's modern buildings emerged with little more than broken plaster". Most of the failures in modern structures came from code violations. When you consider that the earthquake, at 8.8, was one of largest earthquakes recorded, it is quite significant. The greatest loss of life was actually due to the tsunami. Earthquake engineering has indeed made much progress.

That being said, you will NEVER get the same performance from a retrofitted building as a building designed from the ground up to be earthquake resistant. You can improve many things, but up to a point.

As as for the families of the 11 crew members who died... I have a feeling that when all is said and done, that you will find out that engineering judgment war superseded by management decisions. From what I have been reading by the local TOD experts, standard industry procedures to avoid blowouts do not seem to have been followed. Management money-saving corner-cutting decisions are rarely done on engineering advice.

(Although the quote above about the performance of the is from a newspaper, I have heard the same thing directly from experts that have gone to Chile, and many more earthquake zones, See, "The Quake Chasers". It is well documented.)

Energy Secretary, who *should* have been "front and center" in the resolution of this episode.

I disagree. The Department of Energy is not concerned with oil drilling, well safety, and so forth. The is a resource exploitation/management issue, and belongs in the Department of the Interior, where the MMS and USGS are located.

Don't know what sort of axe you have to grind against Sec. Chu, but you are way off base here and clearly don't know anything about the history or mission of the DoE.

I'm amused by the idea that someone who has been an experimental physicist for thirty years isn't qualified to supervise engineers. It's his job to find the right people and ask them the right questions, not to know all the answers himself. At the top this is a leadership challenge - finding the right experts, listening to them, understanding what they say, acting - more than an engineering challenge.

I agree!

Question for the production/reservoir guys.

BSW in the flow rate spreadsheet is 0.

Does that mean:

a) that the well is not producing any sand (and if not, where would erosion be coming from)


b) that the separator meter isn't sensitive enough to pick up sediment


c) ????

toll -- BSW = Basic Sediment and Water. When a reservoir produces oil/NG a small amount of water and/or sand may flow out with the oil/NG. This water isn't the same as water cut we talk about. Even a sandstone reservoir that contains oil still has a small percentage of water in the pore space. Think of BSW as a little trash that comes out with the good stuff.

Sand cut is determined using a very high tech approach: take a known volume of oil, mix some water, shake and let the sand settle to the bottom. The make up some number that seems to represent the amount of sand you see on the bottom.

Don't know if the well is producing much sand now but I would bet lunch it has eroded a lot of sand out of the reservoir to date. Even wll designed compltions will produce some sand. It this completion wasn't designed at all.


And I just LOOOVEEE high tech stuff like how you measure sand!!!


In the high res video it's pretty obvious that the DP(s) is/are producing a different color oil than the casing leak even when lit the same. Black for the casing and rusty red for the DP in this light. Also there does not appear to be many hydrates coming out of the DP but plenty in the blacker casing stream. I'm guessing this is because they are communicating with different depths and compositions in the well bore.

What will cause the seeming absence of hydrates and is something entrained in the DP stream to create the difference in color? Like to revisit this in light of the two pipes in the cut picture. Is it possible we are seeing delivery from the previous failed track? Returning mud from top-kill? Formation salt, sand, water?

Could it be hotter and higher pressure with gas still in solution? (more direct route up the well) I think this tells us something important about the well condition/damage/leak paths, but I don't know how to interpret it.

I'm thinking that maybe too, but also w/o interpretation. The data from the samplers and sensors that were being poked in there sure would be interesting.

Someone earlier posted that there is only one pipe within the cut riser. It has been deformed into the shape of an 8 on its side. Consider that when the pipe is cut by the shear the pressure of doing that will collapse the pipe. Drill pipe is extremely tough. The diameter of the pipe is smaller across than 1/2 of the circumference. When the circumference collapses it will somewhat V at the center and the point will tend to go the center, on both sides. That give the condition that you observe in the cut riser with only the drill pipe.

No pretty sure it's two. Heard and understood that other idea. The right pipe is flattened somewhat as you describe. The two flattened sections are too wide for any single drill pipe listed present in the well and that's what we had sticking out the end of the seafloor riser section. That figure 8 pipe would be at least 10"

Possible causes
a)one got sheared by the rams and passed itself in the riser when the rams were re-engaged
b)the pipe came apart and it dropped down when the rig sank jamming into the BOP
c)the failed piece from the earlier track came up through the casing and lodged at the kink

But really it appears in the video that only one of them is leaking significantly. It is the nature of that leak that we are interested in. Reddish against black in the same light and showing few if any hydrates. Different part of the well. Question is what part and what is entrained in that DP flow, and why?

If it simply that the oil is entering the DP at 3000ft below seafloor and this is what a quicker less restricted path would look like then fine. It's simply an anomaly that could have something to tell us about the nature of the failure. Or not but interesting nonetheless.

The deformation of the 21" will be different from the drill string. They really are different materials even though both are steel.

Squeeze a coke can. It will get wider than the diameter of the original can, compare to top of can. The riser material can do that.

The drill pipe will not flatten and widen as it fails. It will fracture before in bends enough to collapse. The Mother of All Shears got a hold on it and it fractured into the 8 pattern. I'm not claiming drill pripe won't flex. That is different measure.

For those persuaded by this argument I encourage you to look at the pics posted in the link provided by houhpc below. Also download the pic above which HO provided enlarge it and preform the measurements that Merrill and I have done and then determine which drill pipe diameter we are talking here from the list I linked above from Big Moose. And make up your own mind.

I understand the presence of two DP's there was improbable and unexpected, but so supposedly was this failure. In trying to determine what has happened I think we need to ask the questions and come up with reasonable explanations. A paper clipped 10" drill pipe does not pass the smell test IMHO. Look at the pictures. What was sticking out the end of the leaking seafloor riser at a right angle, leaking, cut off, and then capped?

There may be some clues here and I would still like to hear from any other knowledgeable oilpatch folks what is their opinion on this and the two very different oil flows coming out of the cut riser in the high res.

If it is only one pipe, then it is a 9 7/8" liner or a 9 7/8" casing pipe.

If you scale the dimensions of the "two" inner pipes against the dimensions of the 21" riser, the inner pipes combined have a roughly 9 3/4" diameter. I measured the left pipe at about 4 1/2" diameter and the right at about 5 1/4" diameter.

Great discussion on the two-pipes or not question folks, thanks. However, I'd still like to know from a experienced driller if there is any scenario whereby two drill pipes/conduits of similar size would be intentionally placed in a well simultaneously. Maybe I’m missing a key understanding here but it seems the annular seal rams within the BOP would have a very difficult time sealing around two pipes.

It's also odd to me that BP did not immediately hoist the sheared riser section to the surface for forensic analysis. It’s bound to provide some clues as to what exactly they are dealing with. Maybe they already know from the gamma ray imaging initially done on the BOP?

If anyone wants to see the complete series of sheared-riser shots I captured, they are posted at:

I'll try to post others there soon.

Does well casing normally have a welded seam? If so failure along the seam when shearing could result in the 'paperclip' effect. The left lobe could have 3 1/2" DP within it... In some views it looks very much like two pipes - hard to explain unless the drill pipe broke down hole and was moving up the well. If it is the 3 1/2" pipe that would mean that quite a bit was ejected - should be the larger diameter in the BOP before the accident.

I measured the OD periphery by tracing over them in an image processing program and these are the results I got. Not far from yours.
21inch/753.268*175.730 = 4.899093 inch left lobe
21inch/753.268*196.801 = 5.4865214 inch right lobe
21inch/753.268*365.633 = 10.193308 inch figure 8/both lobes
And no, these aren't accurate to 6 decimal places.

Specs for the Deepwater Horizon specify the riser OD as 21". I heard the drill string was 6-5/8" (at the BOP) and the production casing was 9-7/8". Are these also OD?

More details of the measurments posted here:
Another screenshot of the cut riser can be found on that thread.

Thanks for the answer to the question I didn't get a chance to ask. From the info I read two drill pipes would go side to side on the flattened riser. If the drill pipe was the same allow as the riser it would have flattened as the riser did. Being tougher and less ductile it sheared without flattening.


My thank you posted lower on the thread. Is drill pipe sized like standard pipe? Nominal OD with spec'ed wall thickness determines ID? I'm guessing it's a special OD & ID if you would end up with a 4-4.5"bore.

I don't know whether drill pipe is sized by ID or OD, but for the pipelines that I know about, the nominal size is ID.

drill pipe is sized OD because it hase to come into the casing that is sized therefore ID

I've spent some time in the field but it was several years ago. I have a general understanding of the problem, but would not want to every have my hand on the brake or the torque knob.

The oil field has somewhat varying standards. There is "regular" material, "regular" heavy duty material, and I would guess there is special order material used on High Temp High Pressure wells. My guess is that the DWH had a lot of very special tubulars available and that is what they specialized in and charged for. One way to make the material stronger is to thicken the wall. The next step it go to thick wall with "exotic" additives to the steel. The general idea is that 6" drill pipe is 6" OD. The history is that you know the ID of what you are trying to fit the new string into so you spec based upon the OD that will go down the hole, with special considerations on materials or thickness.

Repost from the tail end of the last thread:

From a article today on the upcoming release of the Flow Study panel's estimate:

"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??

the daily flow rate is, in fact, somewhere between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million gallons

Yes. 31 (+/- 12) kpbd. This I believe. It might have been less before the riser was cut.

They're a couple of weeks late, but at least this seems to promise a better understanding of what their respective roles are or should be. (See article copied below)

I guess they figured out that if Bp had planned better, or if they had forced BP to plan better and not to skimp, we could have easily had everything lined up already, perhaps including bigger pipe to capture much more oil than they are. Maybe BP never thought it would work so well. Or maybe they have been stymied by their own willful ignorance of the flow rate.

BP Given 72 Hours to Develop Better Plan

(CBS/AP) BP has 72 hours to provide plans to develop a longer-term and multi-faceted containment strategy for the crude spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, complete with contingency plans if a method of collection fails, according to a letter sent from the U.S. Coast Guard to the company.

"Now that the so-called 'top hat' containment system has begun to capture and recover some of the oil escaping from the wellhead, it is imperative that you put equipment, systems and process in place to ensure that the remaining oil and gas flowing can be recovered," wrote on-scene Cmdr. James A. Watson in a letter dated June 8 to BP COO Doug Suttles.

The letter specifies that there should be no delays while waiting for another recovery vessel to arrive on scene, and that a contingency plan needs to be in place if a hurricane or severe storm forces the collection vessels to move.

Here's the letter:

Here's an idea that BP should consider, IMO--

There are many possible variations of the above scheme, some of which might involve multiple vortices.

Furthermore, away from the leak site, a fleet of relatively small sea craft could be deployed to create an "array" of vortices that would consolidate and "trap" the oil at specific locations.

For oil floating at or near the surface, I think a diesel cut could be sprayed or otherwise distributed below the weathered oil "strands" absorbing them, and make them more amenable to recovery from the vortex centers, by using pumps. The diesel cut could be separated by distillation on board for re-use.

IMO, this method of using ships as an "organized force" rather than in what appears to be a quite haphazard effort, would actually MINIMIZE the energy consumption involved in this effort.


In the same vein Adm. Thad Allen sends a note to CEO Tony Hayward asking for access to their "claims monitor the status of individual claims...".

What's disturbing to me: Where's the teeth? Where is the "or else"? Given BP's record so far why would they expect a response and what happens if they don't get one?

"We need more detail and openness from BP to fulfull our oversight responsibilities to the American people and ensure that you are meeting your commitment to restore the Gulf Coast."

No kidding Thad!

It would be helpful to have some clarity as to responsibility for the management of the repair and recovery effort.

First, considering that all of BP's drilling decisions were green lighted by the MMS, the liability will clearly be shared.
Second, since the spill was in US waters, surely the chain of command for the cleanup begins with the USCG.

This suggests that the decision maker here is not BP, but rather the US government. So it may be misdirected to fulminate at BPs lack of disclosure.
Certainly some of the decisions made suggest that the people involved are not that conversant with the specifics of the industry, perhaps because they are not industry people.
The delay in mustering enough capacity to treat the fluids captured for instance is quite consistent with the government management hypothesis.

Does anyone here have any insights into the actual chain of command and of responsibility for the resolution of this disaster?

US govt (MMS) has sovereign immunity and has no liability (unless Congress choses to assume it LOL!). If fault was 99% MMS and 1% BP, then BP's share of the damages would be 100% - 0% (mms share) = 100%.

Et – Some clarifications. First, the MMS didn’t green light any of BP’s drilling decisions. Nor do they cast judgment on any other operator’s decisions while drilling. The MMS does have standards and regs operators are required to follow. The MMS does do well site inspections on an irregular basis to check compliance. Once again the BIG IF: if the well blew out because the cmt job failed due to the decrease in back pressure due to displacing the heavier drilling mud with sea water. It was BP’s sole responsibility to make sure this was a safe. No one at BP called the MMS and asked them to pass judgment on this decision.

There was some discussion about the MMS approval of BP’s final csg program. The MMS did approve BP running a csg string that some felt would have been more difficult to get a good cmt job. Even if that point is valid it did not relieve BP from the responsibility of making sure they had a good cmt job before displacement. In fact, it should have made them even more cautious.

The chain of command is very clear: BP, as operator, is responsible for all aspects of the blow out including the spill clean up from day 1, The Coast Guard has the responsibility for ascertain that BP is conducting these ops properly. At anytime that the Coast Guard feels that BP is not conducting the effort properly the gov’t has authority to immediately take over all aspects of the incident. But if that were to happen it would not relieve BP of any financial responsibilities: they will still pay all the bills including any that the gov’t runs up. That’s a very big motivation for operators to take care of business properly.

This too was cut off from the thread being continued.

I've been poking around and I'm 100% convinced that there isn't a single pension fund in the US that'll fail if BP stock becomes worthless.

I already provided #s on the PA Public School Employees fund (less than 1% of value lost). The NJ state workers' fund has been tossed around in discussion as possibly threatened. BP isn't even in the top ten positions in the NJ equity fund. That means BP stock is less than 1.5% (possibly closer to 1%) of their equity investments, tops. Exxon, by the way, is number 1 at 3.5%. Those numbers as of the final day of 2009. "The Division currently manages approximately $78.7 billion in investments for various New Jersey state pension plans and other entities."

Losing 1% (maybe) of pension fund investments isn't great, but this is hardly a meltdown that's going to drive American pensioners to the poorhouse. This is "too big to fail?"

And it's no excuse at all for not enforcing the law.

The UN pension fund is more exposed, even at that they'd lose no more than 3% of the value of the whole. According to their 2009 annual report they pay out almost exactly the amount employees currently pay in annually, and would have about $30bn in reserve to invest better (or not, hey they keep telling me capitalism is SUPPOSED to be an assumption of risk...) in future if BP stock evaporates in the morning.

Those British pensioners might be in big trouble. Is this a good reason - has that ever been a reason in the past - for the US not to vigrously enforce its own domestic laws?

The concept that BP failing is going to cause public pension equity funds to fail appears to be wholly without merit. That's an understatement.

Incidentally it turns out I know several people who are paying into the PA Public School pension fund and as you'd expect it was quite the surprise to them that they (indirectly) own BP stock. I alerted them that A) this is so and B) it's in such small quantities comapred to the whole of their pension fund that they need not worry about that even if it becomes penny stock in record time.

Edit/PS: 40% of BP being owned by pension funds doesn't mean that any single pension fund is 40% (or 4%) BP. When you present it that way though it makes people worry that if the fines are big enough, Aunt Edna who worked as a first grade teacher for 59 years won't be able to pay the electric bill any longer.

Pension funds everywhere have a hell of alot more to worry about than whatever might become of BP.

Any pension, or many pensions, loosing 2% on a single event is a VERY big deal. When they expect 8% growth per year, that's 25% of their growth going down the tubes in a heartbeat. You can expect every pension fund manager sitting on Obama's desk screaming at him not to hurt BP. They want the stock back up.

BP is a $100B company and anytime you have that kind of money involved, there are lots of financial interests involved. Many people will get hurt by BP's downfall, and most of them are the public.

When Dubai was threatening to default, 3 of the largest US pension funds went to visit them in person. Where do you think your 401K money is? It's in Dubai, it's in Greece, its in BP, etc. Do you want your next 401K statement to be Red? Most people don't.

The US gov has plenty of liability here. According to reports, the MMS signed off on pulling the mud out of the well. There are lots of people covering their butts here, and the US gov is one of them.

I'm waiting for the US gov to declare this a matter of "National Security", and then they will bury all of the information. That's the ultimate way the US gov always covers it's butt and hides the truth. Otherwise, the lawyers and court system will drag everything out in the open, which is the last thing the gov wants.

According to reports, the MMS signed off on pulling the mud out of the well.

Source? I've seen something about their approval of the BOP at some point, but nothing about a sign off on the exchange of sea water for mud. (there are plenty of other reasons to criticize MMS, just haven't seen this one before.)

There's the teeth, send an angry mob of pension fund managers over to talk with Hayward.

The UN pension fund is looking for 3.5%.

What makes you think that all of the other investments - we're talking dozens if not hundreds in each case - of these funds are going to lose money, or remain right where they're at? I noted in the last thread that all of these funds also look to be (more heavily) invested in other oil concerns. I can't help but think that in the case of say the PA school employees pension that if BP bit it the stocks of the 4 or 5 other oil producers in their top ten might well mitigate a decent amount of that loss. (That's the top ten of stock holdings, which is as a category less than 1/4 of total holdings.)

I pointed out in the last thread too that some of these funds lost 15-20% of value from stock losses the past couple of years, and are still ticking, still invested in stock.

I've invested in things that were one whole heck of a lot more than 1-2% of my personal worth and I don't expect the government to let people get away with illegalities to guarantee I make money.

In any event, the picture painted by some articles that argue for shielding BP is that grandma and grandpa are going to have to sell the farm and get tractored out by the 'cats and try to get the jalopy across the Ca-la-for-nie line to pick fruit for $2/day if BP is made financially responsible.

And it's just... not... true.

Any pension, or many pensions, loosing 2% on a single event is a VERY big deal. When they expect 8% growth per year, that's 25% of their growth going down the tubes in a heartbeat. You can expect every pension fund manager sitting on Obama's desk screaming at him not to hurt BP. They want the stock back up.

BP is a $100B company and anytime you have that kind of money involved, there are lots of financial interests involved. Many people will get hurt by BP's downfall, and most of them are the public.

When Dubai was threatening to default, 3 of the largest US pension funds went to visit them in person. Where do you think your 401K money is? It's in Dubai, it's in Greece, its in BP, etc. Do you want your next 401K statement to be Red? Most people don't.

The US gov has plenty of liability here. According to reports, the MMS signed off on pulling the mud out of the well. There are lots of people covering their butts here, and the US gov is one of them.

I'm waiting for the US gov to declare this a matter of "National Security", and then they will bury all of the information. That's the ultimate way the US gov always covers it's butt and hides the truth. Otherwise, the lawyers and court system will drag everything out in the open, which is the last thing the gov wants.

Any pension, or many pensions, loosing 2% on a single event is a VERY big deal. When they expect 8% growth per year, that's 25% of their growth going down the tubes in a heartbeat. You can expect every pension fund manager sitting on Obama's desk screaming at him not to hurt BP. They want the stock back up.

BP is a $100B company and anytime you have that kind of money involved, there are lots of financial interests involved. Many people will get hurt by BP's downfall, and most of them are the public.

When Dubai was threatening to default, 3 of the largest US pension funds went to visit them in person. Where do you think your 401K money is? It's in Dubai, it's in Greece, its in BP, etc. Do you want your next 401K statement to be Red? Most people don't.

The US gov has plenty of liability here. According to reports, the MMS signed off on pulling the mud out of the well. There are lots of people covering their butts here, and the US gov is one of them.

I'm waiting for the US gov to declare this a matter of "National Security", and then they will bury all of the information. That's the ultimate way the US gov always covers it's butt and hides the truth. Otherwise, the lawyers and court system will drag everything out in the open, which is the last thing the gov wants.

1) 8% growth during the decline of oil is an unreasonable expectation, unless you don't account for inflation. All pensions and life insurance an in danger assuming another lost decade.
2) People are hurt be BP as is. Their pensions are not my problem. Of course politics plays a role, which is why so much has been socialize already. But when things fall, the result will be pensioners looking for work.
3) I cashed out my 401K in early 2007. Stocks too. Gold has done fine, but it's a disaster hedge, not an investment for me. Skills and tools are nice to have around, and hold value. So do guns.
4) Plenty of blame to go around, but in the end, BP will pay dearly just to defend themselves. Can MMS even be sued?
5) Why would the administration take more body-shots over this? They very much need a whipping boy. Bush had Saddam. Obama rather needs to kick someone's hind-end, it seems. Unless Iran gets uppity, this is it.

Note that Van der Sloot got about 2 days of headlines. It's 6 weeks in and the spill is still front page. For the US, this is really something.

Re the discussion of oxygen depletion in the earlier thread:
Note, they just say a possibilty.
"...The first low-oxygen pocket was found on the bottom in about 60 feet of water 12 miles off the coast due south of the mouth of Mobile Bay. The second was in about 100 feet of water 25 miles off the coast...Scientists said the unusual presence of low-oxygen areas off the coast raises the possibility that the number of oil-eating microbes has swelled because of the millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf"

There's a good possibility, if metabolism of hydrocarbon substrates is contributing to the observed oxygen depletion, that methane is the principal species involved. It is likely to be widely present, it has relatively high solubility in water, and methanotrophes (bacteria that oxidize methane) are ubiquitous in nature. Solubility is around 40 mg/L, which is about 10X higher than the O2 present by weight and 25X higher on a molar concentration basis. This substrate is molecularly dispersed ("dissolved" as opposed to droplet or micellar), the bacteria are pre-adapted to it, and it's likely they're having a feast. If methane metabolism is dominating the oxygen depletion it's going to impact the ability of the bugs that can attack higher hydrocarbons, which also are aerobes, to do their jobs.

There is also a native background population of bacteria in the Gulf that can metabolize larger hydrocarbons (hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria), as these substrates have always been available from natural seeps. Methanotrophs typically are specialized and won't eat larger hydrocarbons.

If it occurs in nature, there's a bug out there that can eat it.

Or all of the fertilizer that just reached the GOM from the heavy rains a few weeks ago in the Ohio valley and upper Mississippi valley.

"Oxygen levels have declined steadily since a May 28 sampling effort, Graham said.

Levels were between 4 and 6 milligrams per liter at the research sites on May 28.

By June 2, they had declined to 3 milligrams per liter or less.

Tuesday, researchers measured 1.7 milligrams per liter.

Scientists consider 2 milligrams per liter the threshold for survival."

It seems to me that Matt Simmons is claiming that the entire wellhead
was likely pushed out, then dragged by the sinking DH for at least a mile,
with the well casing still connected, and with the gas and oil we see
in the video feeds being less than that gushing from the actual well site.

Then, I guess, the floor plate might have settled against the seabed,
or the BOP might have been tipped upward by ROV and cable-to-crane.

If this impression is correct, would the relief well become a way to
explosively collapse the main well miles deep if they can't seal it
with concrete soon enough ?
Matt is no flake, and he seems sure that the story on the tube is way off.

The riser video before placing the vented cap appeared to show reddish-brown
light crude issuing from drill pipe, while a dark mix of oil/mud/gas/chemicals
issued from the riser. This might be another indication of breached casing.

Matt is no flake

That is what I used to think. Great book in 2005. Now, I don't know. Aged 65+ now. Maybe early Alzheimer's?

The thing that puzzles me about the Simmons' claims is that, unlike reserves in non-transparent foreign countries, they seem to be verifiable/disprovable. I imagine that there's probably an exclusion zone for casual maritime traffic further out than 6 miles, but I'd have thought that the government could have arranged to produce some evidence either way. AFAICS there's no advantage to the government to suppressing news of a further leak now, as most people have probably got "scale incomprehension" at the moment anyway whilst disclosing in a month or two will make them seem complicit with BP. Having said that, governments often don't make sense.

Continued from last thread ... 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?

In gas processing applications, burst plates are used as alternatives to pressure relief valves. They relieve pressure by bursting -- protecting the rest of the equipment -- but once they break, the system is depressurized until the plate is replaced. Sometimes they are used because they are cheaper than valves, but that's not necessarily the reason why you might choose them.

I don't know what they do specifically on the MC252, but I think you are on the right track. See:

Dunno if this was already posted before, but I just now ran across it. To relieve the otherwise ongoing pain.

When I was a child, when jubilees happened everyone would grab their flounder lights, a gig and sack and head out to the bay. Lights could be seen along the shore for miles, and oh, what a feast! I've been thinking about jubilees since the blowout and after reading the eulogy, I looked it up just out of curiosity.
"...during jubilees the water inside the 2 meter contour along the eastern shore is well oxygenated. This shallow water extends several hundred meters offshore. During jubilees fishes present there are trapped between the shore and an advancing water mass low in dissolved oxygen; the water at the surface and very close to shore usually has enough oxygen to support them for the short duration of most jubilees."

We are seeing a Jubilee of Death.

So those "plumes" of low dissolved oxygen have been appearing there since you were a child? And they were once seen as a blessing?

Please read the comment. I know I know, its hard when you have granite in your head.

Come on, Augustus. You are clearly a smart and knowledgeable person. Almost certainly smart enough, I'm pretty sure, not to have *actually* misunderstood the explanation at the linked source:

"...accumulated organic material on the bay floor could, under a certain set of conditions, result in a rapid depletion of oxygen (hypoxia) in parts of the bay, driving fish to the surface seeking oxygenated water.[1]...."

No plumes. Not similar to the conditions being reported by the Georgia, USF, etc. researchers.

That wasn't even a credible effort at spin on your part.

Maybe Augustus was exposed to a low oxygen area as a child. I'd say about 8 minutes would be enough to explain some of these posts.

There is a way of controlling willfully ignorant or intentionally misleading posts. Click on the "Flag as inappropriate" link. If five (I believe it is) people do this on any given post, it disappears. This is an important way that we keep the quality high. Please don't use it just because you disagree with someone, though. And keep in mind that you can run out of "flags" if you do it too often.

Augustus, I got to thinking about what you said. Since the phenomenon of intermittent oxygen depletion has existed in that area for an unknown period of time, what happens if the conditions that produce jubilee occur at the same time the artificially induced depletion is in place? Can jubilee occur under the present circumstances? If "jubilee" is not restricted to Mobile Bay, but has only been observed in that place, and is an occurrence throughout the Gulf, what impact is this going to have in conjunction with the oil? You made a good point. Maybe I should have clarified by specifying the condition (oxygen depletion) as opposed to cause (natural or artificially induced).

You make a good point. Semantics can be problematic.

This Nuclear option seems popular and it has gone viral. But then, there is a little problem with lingering radiation, not to mention the chance that things could go wrong. Given BP's track record on this, do we really want to trust them with Nukes this close to New Orleans?

The only evidence that this "worked" is a propaganda film from the Soviet Union. They were the same people who assured us that Chernobyl was just a minor accident. Do we know if this actually worked? No, we just have a propaganda film.

If Matt Simmons is correct, there may simply be no way to plug this thing up. Especially if the various tubings and bore hole have been compromised. They couldn't see this coming - because they refused to consider the possibilities and had become too lax.

I wonder what effect this will have on greenhouse gasses. All of that unflared methane isn't helping much.

It irks me that BP is still stalling as far as providing evidence that could be used to determine how much is leaking still. They don't want to admit the full extent of the problem as if it will just go away.

Why doesn't someone go down there in an Alvin sub or the Johnson Sea Link sub and get some non-BP video of this? BP doesn't own the ocean! Plus it would be interesting to see the collapsed oil platform as well - and study it to do a post mortem.

Wasn't nuking an oil reservoir the job of the Spectre VILLAIN in the James Bond movie "Never Say Never Again"? More than just a little irony here, I think.

And I agree that it would be good to get some independent visualization of the situation on the sea-floor in this area from one of the several subs capable of this job.

If it does get nuked, it sure won't be BP doing it. Be assured, BP has no nukes. Much of the gas is trapped as hydrates when it hits the water.

Matt Simmons is still recovering from a trip through the wormhole. He has claimed that the bottom hole formation pressure is 50,000 psi. Impossible. He has claimed that the casing was exploded out of the hole and is lying on the bottom. How did that happen and no one noticed 13,000 ft. of pipe flying up through the rig floor? Impossible.

I would not worry about the nuke option at all. All of our nuclear weapons that were small enough for the job were all destroyed in the late 1990s. To make matters worse - all of the blueprints and design data was destroyed as well (by destroying them you save money that would otherwise go to security).

And just to make things even more interesting - all of the people who had exiperence in designing and building nuclear weapons are all retired.

"All of our nuclear weapons that were small enough for the job were all destroyed in the late 1990s. To make matters worse - all of the blueprints and design data was destroyed as well (by destroying them you save money that would otherwise go to security)."

I find that very difficult to believe. In fact, after cogitating on it for a bit, I don't.

And just to make things even more interesting - all of the people who had exiperence in designing and building nuclear weapons are all retired.

I don't even need to cogitate on that.

A few years back we needed to produce new tritium igniters for bomb refurbs. The info was so top-secret that only a few people ever knew the design, and only a few copies existed. All copies had been misplaced or destroyed, and the people had retired. A very expensive ground-up new design was required, and it took years.

This stuff was hard the first time (funded by massive resources and growth). It's just as hard now, it appears.

We know very well how to melt rock with nuclear explosions. Many glass caverns were created at the Nevada test site. However, even using a Nuke has to get at the bottom of the well. I hate to think what size of nuclear explosion you would need to melt rock to 13000 feet if one were to attack it from the top.

As for the nuclear contamination, these should be contained in the glass or near there and under 1300 feet of mud. Not a risk to the public. The science is well understood by the US scientist.

That being said in my opinion there are other ways to melt rock such as in situ verification, which uses several mega watts of power to melt dirt to glass. Microwave or some kind of resistance heat.

I think the nuke talk is just some fantasy - I guess some people have a nuke fetish.

Speaking of which, we are lucky McCain isn't the president.

A good number of people would disagree, evnow. He may not have been the right person in the right place at the right time in Nov. '08, but this seems like the sort of thing McCain would excel at handling based upon his personal history. The man finds a way to pull through and succeed when hope seems lost.

At the very least, it's doubtful we would be debating whether descriptions of a "clenched jaw" displayed in a private briefing constitute proof of the President's resolve or whether his intentional use of public profanity for the first time ever was appropriate (all prior instances were private or accidental) on a television show popular with families preparing for the school and work day ahead.

Regardless, revisionist history does no good at this point. I think we're all hoping our President leads the way towards the best solution possible as quickly as possible. Here's hoping he makes us proud and finds a way to limit further damage to the Gulf ecosystem and source of livelihood for so many of our fellow citizens.

*The government and BP don't need to convince us they're serious about solving the problem. They simply need to do so as quickly and effectively as possible. Time will judge the success (or failure) of their actions.*

Well stated.

I have a question for those who know about explosives and mining in general. Would a nuke even be required if it ever was decided that collapsing the well was the only way to go? I remember from the Iraq invasion days, talk about this "mother of all bombs" which theoretically had a similar yield to a tactical nuke. Would not modern conventional explosives be sufficient for that kind of job?

Slight topic drift question...
If the ship collecting the oil has to run from a hurricane,what happens to the pipe ? Do they hang it on a float below the surface ? Maybe all that gas is the float.
cheers Pete

Hi Pete,

I believe you are correct, the plan is to be able to detach the riser from the rig and let it float far enough beneath the surface so a hurricane won't affect it. Then they will return and hook up again. The gas won't be the float though :-)

I have a few questions in this area.

Are they going to disconnect and let it flow for a week or two? Without a permanent connection to the BOP and even if they did there's the question regarding well integrity and complete shutoff has been on the table.

Right now, they'll have to pull the drill pipe up, then pull the riser up to the ship, which will take several hours for each step.
They they can run away. When they come back, they'll have to reassemble things, pick up the LMRP cap, and stick it back on the BOP.

Around the end of June they will have a riser pipe that will have a float and its own anchor, so they can easily detach and bail.

explained about 9:20 in this video:

off the bp video archive site:

Latest: Reuters: BP says it has captured 7,920 bbls of oil in 1st 12 hours Wed.

Flow from June 9 midnight to 0500 was at a rate of about 16,100 bpd oil and 31,100 cf/d gas with zero (0) water through 2 chokes - 102/64 and 104/64 which would indicate they are close to max on production or flaring capacity and throttling the flow. Seems the cap and drill pipe recovery system could recover more if the ship's processing equipment could handle it.

Original GOR was about 2,500 and reduced to about 1,900 and been in the mid 1,700 at times. Oil has ranged from 36 to 39 API. Some obvious flow variations over time but not really dramatic.

Data from a spreadsheet which seems to be updated at least daily at:

Lots of great information including:

Well Configuration - Lots of casing and liner information, even some temperature data

Oil and Gas Recovery Data - spreadsheet of RITT recovery

Oil and Gas Flow Data - Detailed spreadsheet of LMRP cap recovery including chokes, and 15 minute detailed readings (unfortunately no pressure readings)

Pressure Data Within BOP spreadsheet stick-man drawing of BOP with pressure readings as of May 25.

Seems the cap and drill pipe recovery system could recover more if the ship's processing equipment could handle it.



I guess knowing what the flow really is - IS a requirement for designing an appropriate response. Alan (from Big Easy) Drake is so vindicated.

The nonsense is that people believe that BP Does know what the flow rate is. BP has not given an estimate of flow rate. They've all come from government exxperts.

The ship they are using is what was available. They probably could have a bigger one there now, if they had wanted to wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive and get on station.

They probably could have a bigger one there now, if they would have started a month ago so it could arrive and get on station.

They don't know the flow. If they did know they would have had the flare ship there weeks ago too. There is only so much space there for these large ships to operate. they are not jet skis. and you don't know if they dould have or not, unless you are a ship broker. the Coast Guard estimated the flow rate at 5,000 barrels a day. BP got a vessel that is three times the government estimated flow rate. Now they are getting a larger one. Where is the Coast guard vessel standing by for this type of emergency? there is not one. It is all private industry that is supplying the services.

No other ship was available? On the planet, in this hemisphere, in the Gulf..? Just hard to believe. Not available because of the other six catastrophes of this magnitude that require similar equipment..?

Let's assume that BP has no idea what the flow is, just none. Might be 1 barrel/day, might be a bajillion barrels/day. Why aim low? What could the conceivable justification for that be?

Every day's worth of uncaptured flow might be the portion that kills a species or takes out a marsh or washes up on a beach and kills summer tourism in 3 counties.

Supposedly BP has teams working on rolling out idea after idea and is playing 3-D chess twelve steps ahead, but I continue to see flailing about.

At least the FAILboat is chugging along under budget and ahead of schedule.

"Let's assume that BP has no idea what the flow is, just none. Might be 1 barrel/day, might be a bajillion barrels/day."

That is, obviously, not the case. However, it seems entirely possible to me that they do not know, and do not want to know, what the flow is with real accuracy. If they did want to know, it seems likely that a serious attempt at direct measurement would have been made, perhaps during the time between CRAW assault on the riser and placement of the dunce cap. (Please, BP apologists, don't waste time lecturing about all of the difficulties associated with making such a measurement; we know. Those difficulties don't explain or excuse a failure even to try.)

It isn't hard to imagine at least one possible reason for not attempting to measure: "I don't have any idea" is a much more effective reply to questions by opposing counsel than "I don't recall."

"Why aim low? What could the conceivable justification for that be?"

That's actually a much harder question, in my view, quizmaster. In the overall context of the disaster, one would think that any cost savings associated with under-provisioning would be trivial, and thus not a major motivation. What does that leave? Deliberate malice seems unlikely. If I were forced to bet, I'd probably go with stunning incompetence. But, if that's it, I truly do find it stunning.

I think the answers in previous threads have been a $4000 fine per barrel on leaked oil, you have to pay the gov royalty on even the leaked stuff, and they (BP) may not want to tell everyone just how badly they effed up.

What you don't know can't hurt you. After you already blew everything up, that is. Especially after.

So you are postulating they are incompetent and a little stupid?

I'm saying that they used the Coast Guard estimates. Is the government Coast Guard incompetent?

The real deal is that neither is incompetent. They are dealing with unknowns and making estimates.

If another larger ship was available that you know of, give us her name.

The BP engineering team used the Coast Guard surface-based estimates to inform their strategy? Wake up Alice, you're having a dream.

Wake up Alice, you're having a dream.

Not Alice - some new BP Apologist.

They have not said anything publicly about the flow rate because it is a crucial piece of evidence in a crime scene and they are the criminal.

"It is all private industry that is supplying the services."

100% as it should be since private industry was expecting to capture 100% of the profits from the well, right?

Please provide an argument about why that should not be the case...

Nonsense. We all know the basic free market principle - privatize profits, socialize losses.

There is *NO* pleasure in this vindication :-(


BP stock has lost half its value in the six weeks since the spill, wiping out $90 billion in market value.

BP's shares down 16% today.

Anyone still think BP doesn't sleep with the fishes?

They'll be taken over before years end although it may not close that fast.

They won't be taken over intact. It will have to be split into a "bad-BP" and a "good-BP(s)". The bad-BP will go bankrupt and the good-BP(s) will be taken over. For example, the Russians might acquire the BP interests in Russia. Their London law firms and investment bankers are putting in overtime, I'm sure.

Referman: First, BP must swim with the piranhas.

Let's cut the pie up now while it's more or less whole. Maybe size up the Exxon pie while we're about it and Shell is looking pretty gouda right now.

Nom nom nom

Very long time reader, just registered though.
Thought a bit of levity, other then battleships with giant screws, might be nice.

That seems fair.

BP has said that they will be responsible for their spill too.

Answer to:
Andrewintown on June 9, 2010 - 1:52pm
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?

In 2007 Bergesen Offshore, a company within the Bergesen Group, own and operate the FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel) in the Gulf of Mexico under a 15-year term agreement with Pemex, the Mexican state-owned oil and gas company. This was in bay of Campeche area so this was in Mexico's waters. There was an FPSO's scheduled for 2010 in US GOM waters this year, the BW Pioneer for the Cascade and Chinook fields of the US GOM.

I believe that there are two factors that contribute to little FPSO activety in the GOM.

First is that that the area has developed relatively slowly over many decades with many pipelines developed and expanded as the development moved offshore. When production declines from an old well the pipeline capacity is available for the new ones and can be used by the step out fields / formations.

Second is that there are pretty expensive US Maritime laws. Ships that both pick up a cargo at a US port and deliver it to a US port MUST be constructed in a US shipyard and, I believe, be manned by US crews. Consider that a pipeline has little relative operating cost once installed and does not need staffing when not being used. sure, pipes cost money. but they may only be needed to connect to a nearby system, not all the way to shore. ships are expensive to build and to operate, even when not operating.

It is possible that the FPSO received some special dispensation from some Maritime Bureaucrat before it was allowed to operate in US waters.

Edit: this post is pretty descriptive of the effects of the Jones Act. It seems that offers of equipment were made by foreign sources and declined by Obama. Nothing needed here they responded. this would also restrict the BP options available. You cannot let an emergency screw up a good deal for the union supporters of The One.

You cannot let an emergency screw up a good deal for the union supporters of The One.

As soon as I read this I knew you were new here.

How long does one have to have been a member to have been convinced that the Jones Act is good legislation?

Bush refused help from Venezuela during Katrina. We always refuse help; stupidity is bipartisan.

Re: deepwater plumes, here's the most informative press report I've found on the three independent efforts to understand the situation with oil dispersed deep in the Gulf.
IMO Doug Suttles assertions today of "no significant concentrations" below the surface are disinformation. While it's true that lots of oil combined with lots of dispersant is not concentrated, the sampling efforts under way show that it's still lots of oil.

Let me point out that they didn't analyze for dispersant, so they don't know if there is any associated with the oil or not.

I also found the press report rather lacking in the description of the oil - this is dissolved hydrocarbon. If you had one of these samples in your hand it would be impossible to tell if it had oil in it by looking at it. It would look exactly the same as a sample of seawater without oil in it. You wouldn't see a "cloud of oil" or any cloudiness at all.

How much oil is hard to say - the number is proabably in the 10's of thousands of barrels based simply on taking the volume of the area surveyed and multiplying it by the concentration. Given the size of the leak this is not exactly surprising.

And some of it at least according to the NOAA report is from sources other than BP, much like the original tar ball reports from the Florida Keys turned out.

No one can mention plumes without you repeating that about the dispersant. You seem to be on a mission.

The water may look clear, but it reeks of oil and when you put it through a filter you get what appears to be oil stain. Dr. Joyce on the Walton Smith had a blog where she discussed and demonstrated these results, and she has been on the national media as well.

Prof. JOYE: Well, basically, these are deepwater features that we see starting at about 200 meters above the bottom, around 1,300 meters water depth. And they're most intense near the spill site, and they decrease in intensity away from the spill site.

“When we were out there, we did as many casts as we could to characterize [the plume’s] features,” she said, adding it would take close to six weeks to truly tease apart the plume’s features.

“The amount of oil and gas, the sheer mass of the material that has been injected into this system, is tremendous,” Joye said.

She said that because of the way currents run in the Gulf, the oil will be sloshed and circulated in this isolated body of water, first to the northeast and then to the southwest.

“The stuff’s gonna stay there, and it’s gonna circulate around, and it’s gonna have a lot more impact,” she said.

“In my opinion there is really no good way to remediate the deep water,” Joye said. “The oil’s not in a form that’s easily removed.”

The deep-water oil, which has been treated with a soap-like dispersant, is broken down into small particles that are hard to see, even in samples. She said the samples her team took had to sit for a while before the oil settled out.

Unfortunately, Joye said, samples of the three dispersants have yet to be obtained for research purposes.

I believe it has been mentioned that the addition of dispersants may invalidate the "finger printing" method of NOAA, since they are using pure crude samples as their baseline. Since significant tarballs in the Keys have not been reported since the Mexico spill, I find the NOAA conclusion a bit suspect.

Disclaimer: I have a personal bias against belief in the concept of "coincidence".

STA: "I also found the press report rather lacking in the description of the oil - this is dissolved hydrocarbon. If you had one of these samples in your hand it would be impossible to tell if it had oil in it by looking at it. It would look exactly the same as a sample of seawater without oil in it. You wouldn't see a 'cloud of oil' or any cloudiness at all."

There are already plenty of other reports that provide additional descriptive content, e.g.:

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

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.

More and more and more coming soon, tragically. And you can bet we'll be hearing about the dispersants, too.

As ludicrous and, frankly, offensive as I find this sort of stubborn denialism, I really wish you were right.

prairiecomm was nice enough in this post in the earlier thread
to provide a link to an interesting article which included some informed speculation about tuna spawning and possible oil spill effects. The direct link to the article is:
I was confused by some of the information near the end. They state that the fish spawn in the Mediterranian.

AlanfromBigEasy was also nice enough to respond
and describe a possible decline in fish populations following the Ixtoc blowout but also wrote that some people also attributed the decline overfishing. That information is interesting but I was hoping for direction to the study that showed that the effect of 8 drops of oil in 250 gallons of sea water would kill all of the fish eggs and wipe out the spawn. I'd really like to read how that study was done and the methods used to perform it. If you can provide the info I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

Dept. of Fish and Game is a good place to start. But I think every state is different when addressing salt water.

Every study I googled was behind a paywall, but below was this quote I saw before:

“Studies have suggested that concentrations of 1 part-per-billion have toxic effects to fish eggs.

eggs from demersally-spawning fish species accumulate dissolved PAHs released from oiled substrates, even when the oil is heavily weathered; and (3) PAHs accumulated by embryos from aqueous concentrations of < 1 μg/L can lead to adverse sequelae appearing at random over the lifespan of an exposed cohort, probably as a result of damage during early embryogenesis. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) can be a slow-acting poison, and toxic effects may not manifest until long after exposure.

Tuna are NOT demersally-spawning but interesting anyway.


Oil and other organic pollutants may include both mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds.


BTW, the Atlantic blue fin tuna breeds in two known places, the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and off Louisiana.

The carcinogens (PAH) in the oil plumes are at the ppt level, that's 1 ng/liter.

Here is an open article that found...

Alan, if you post the links to a couple of the more interesting titles maybe I can help.

thanks you for those links to different studies that show sufficient exposure to oil can affect spawning. That is not a revelation.
I'm interested in the one which you believe studied it and concluded to show that 8 drops of oil in 250 gallons of seawater would wipe out the eggs from a spawn. I would wonder if the entire Mediterranean is not polluted to a greater oil content than that, but I have not tried to find that. However, if true, those would have possibly developed into an oil immmune new genetic strain of the species. I'm sure you can clear it up. Just a link to an abstract will be fine.m

Stop it, just stop it already. I think I'll just go through and flag every one of your trolling posts, enough. Enough with the Obama (pbuh) or whatever you keep spewing and enough with the snide bull. The trolling is old already.

I'll join you on that one. This guy has revealed himself as a troll with nearly every post.

Here's a nice "Research Blogging" post about Atlantic bluefin tuna:

Found the link to the study:

and another for TGF's press release:

Bluefin apparently spawn both in select regions of the Gulf and in select regions of the Mediterranian.

Hello. I'm new to this website. I've given more than a little thought to temporarily reducing the uncontrolled flow of oil into the gulf, and I have an idea that might work until the relief well(s) are finalized. I've forwarded this onto BP and the government, but I think it will be buried in noise. Here's the idea:

After BP cut the riser above the BOP, they placed a collection system that needed to fit snugly over the cut, but they cut the riser with a method that left the pipe irregularly shaped. The collection system doesn't have a good seal. It's been estimated that an intact pressure boundary at the top of the BOP would produce a very significant static pressure with a closed system. A tiny misfit at a fraction of this pressure would result in large scale leakage. We have to dramatically lower the pressure within the collection system so that there is little leakage from the riser. The only way to do this on short notice is to increase the flow in the riser to equal the flow the well provides at the sea floor without the restriction of the riser. Place a high flow-rate pump immediately above the collection system. Due to design trade-offs, high flow-rate pumps do not produce tremendous output pressure, but tremendous output pressure is needed to lift the oil at the desired velocity upwards 5000 feet to the collection ship.

For example, if a high flow-rate pump can lift the oil 250 feet at the desired flow-rate, then 20 pumps each separated from its neighbors by 250 feet will be needed in series in the riser. Power cables will also need to be routed to each of these pumps.

Yes, this is over-simplified, but the concept is sound. I don't have time to look up specifications for large industrial pumps, but I used to perform engineering design in the power industry, where we employed both high-flow low-head and low-flow high-head pumps.

Thanks for the posting opportunity.

They don't need any pumps and the collection system is NOT supposed to seal tight.

The limit is how much the Discoverer Enterprise can handle safely, the collection system could deliver more to the surface but the ship can't process it.

Then increase the number of ships that can handle it and crank up the flow. That's the only way to decrease the rate of loss into the gulf and reduce the toxicity to the environment. It's a simple application of Bernoulli's Principle of Pressure.

If this well needed a pump, why would you want to pump it? Would you add the pump so you could turn the pump off and stop the leak ha! Wow, more fun in the anti-science world. You really sent that and had some one waste their time opening the letter? If all it took was to add a pump don't you think 80,000 BP people would have done that? Wow, how novel, add a pump, really.

The DOT resident smart a$$ strikes again. It is clear you never went to charm school.

At least you didn't make a comment that you were going to add it to your book.

Maybe there is hope for you yet.

From the story:

Allegations of major disagreements between Transocean’s crew and BP representatives over drilling activities continue, specifically displacing the heavy drilling mud in the riser with seawater.

Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, who represents a group of Transocean employees provided Mother Jones with an account of a conversation between Transocean manager Jimmy Harrell and someone in Houston that took place via satellite phone.

According to the Buzbee account, Harrell was screaming, "Are you f*******g happy? Are you f******g happy? The rig's on fire! I told you this was gonna happen."

When the person tried to calm Harrell, he is supposed to have replied "I am f******g calm. You realize the rig is burning?"

That's not at the linked story. It also directly contradicts Harrell's own testimony which was that there was no argument with BP, no pressure and that operations on that day were carried out with his full agreement.

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

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

...Harrell also testified that while BP had apparently fallen behind on the well, he never felt pressure from the oil company to hurry up and finish the job.

The only other person present at the alleged argument to have testified so far (Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell) also said under oath that there was no argument.

from the article;
"However, due the restrictions of the Jones Act, which require ships doing business between two US ports to be flagged in the US, BP may need to use another tanker to actually take the oil ashore, or may need to seek a temporary exemption from the act. "

See this article for more on the restrictions BP has had to consider in engaging vessels:


Nice info in the .pdf on the FPSO

I am new to this site (a few weeks), but have spent probably too much time here for my over-all mental health in the past few weeks. I came here because I want to understand what is happening from a scientific/technical perspective. After better understanding some of the tech talk (thank you very much!), and listening to the back and forth of the political discussion, the only thing I think I am clear about at this point is that this disaster is very complicated, both in it's making, but more so in how to stop it/clean it up (if that is even possible).

I am also quite clear that this is my fault. I have contributed to the demand for oil.... I have wanted cheap gas, affordable heat, I have used petroleum based products all my life. I have not insisted enough that regulations be adhered to by my governmental agencies. I have not said Enough! when there have been deaths at explosions at refineries or on oil rigs or from other spills. I, like many other people on this planet have "settled" for petroleum based resources and have not demanded alternatives... have not volunteered to pay more in taxes to develop alternatives.

I say this as someone who has devoted most of my life to working for human rights as an activist... and working to end nuclear proliferation. I don't know what this spill will ultimately mean for the people who live and work on the gulf and for the rest of our country. I hope it means that we will seriously take a look at how we, the collective WE are living. And, I hope that we can move beyond blaming politicians and start taking a look at ourselves and see our role in the creation of this nightmare. Ok.. off my soapbox and back to lurking and learning.

I also live in Philadelphia, and having observed Jody's behavior up close I can assure everyone this is all her fault.

Seriously, though... Hello neighbor first off. I'm new here too and I have to say people are largely smart and nice, sometimes simultaneously. It's a great site & beyond the crisis I'm going to keep reading in future on peak oil issues.

IMO "It's everyone's fault" is very close in practice to saying "It's no one's fault." As a person who's never owned a car, walks bikes and rides the subway (and I have since the '70s), owns largely used stuff including clothing, and went the past two winters w/o turning on the heat (detail in a comment I left on a different thread in the TOD Europe Campfire discussion this week), have a TV in my home for the first time in 14 years (through marriage), etc etc etc... I'm none too inclined to accept equal responsibility on this as BP execs, or bought off politicians who havent regulated, or cokeheads at MMS, or even Hummer drivers.

I use some energy and I eat food that uses petroleum to exist and to get to me. On the whole for an American my footprint is tiny. I've never had any real say in how the food in my society is produced, I've never had any real say in how we do energy. My calls and letters to my elected 'representatives' are ignored, and always have been. 95%+ of the candidates I vote for lose, usually badly. I even spent the better part of a year running for public office on what could be called a responsibility platform; rec'd less than 1% of the vote (which was still 1000 people, not bad considering...). My economic choices are 'outvoted' as well.

This isn't an appeal for not trying. But I steadfastly refuse to accept responsibility for screw ups like this, especially when they more than counterbalance a life I've tried to live deliberately and responsibly.

I'm not irresponsible. BP has been irresponsible, the entire oil industry has been irresponsible, the US government has been irresponsible, the state governments have been irresponsible, and most of the American public who are able-bodied and well-educated and comfortable enough in their position in life to make better choices - and don't - are irresponsible.

In order to maintain any sanity at all in times like this I can take some small, cold comfort in knowing I did my best not to contribute to the problem. So, again, no, I'm not willing to take a share of the responsibility here. You sound like a responsible person to even raise these issues. Don't beat yourself up.

The shore will stop the barge.

Optimum strategies like fi lowest price incentives will hopefully produces alternatives through applied technology spin-offs ,
the principle of least restriction is a mode of nature ,
easy oil will flow.
Collective guilt alas such an unworkable and stagnating sentiment.
Do you allow for stratification of the collective ?


Hi jody, it seems you understand more than most:) This is OUR fault, we ask for more and more and more oil everyday. When you have to mine, drill at
-5,000 ft sea level, fracture rock, pump a thousand barrels of water to pump one barrel of oil that should tell all of us expect more of this. That is the price of doing business.

I have to respectfully disagree. While the US' demand for oil has indeed pushed companies into drilling deeper and deeper wells, the "fault" here is that the US relaxed the safety and drilling regulations to the point that the companies, not the regulators, are calling the shots when it comes to how they operate.

That needs to be changed, and quickly. I'd love to see a Norway-like regulatory system in place for offshore drilling, with harsh penalties for ignoring or violating those regulations. Corporations aren't going to self-regulate; that's obvious whether you look at coal mines, banks or oil companies.

But, saying "we are at fault" diverts the attention from BP, who ultimately is responsible for this disaster.

There have been developments in laser technology that have resulted in solid-state operation with kilowatt outputs. Notably Fiber Lasers. I entertained the idea of directing lser light along fiber-optic cable from laser-supply ships - down to the work zone. This, ostensibly to ameliorate the cutting and shaping of otherwise troublesome to cut and shape deep-sea structures and fixtures. It's my understanding that fiber transmission length for high-power laser light conveyance is limited. Nominal is 200 meteres. Fiber Lasers are ruggged and contain no gas cavities. The lasing action occurs within appropriately-doped solid opitcal fibre. In-line as it were. Very clever I think you'll agree. The upshot of this solid-state construction is that the laser should lend itself readily to water and pressure proofing.

Objections might be raised as per the delivery path would be obscured by intervening matter - oil, notably. A reasonable solution is to shroud the laser end in fresh water - pump in fresh clear water. It may be that oil is largely transparent at certain operating wavelenght. Typically, longer, more penetrating; near-infrared wave-lengths.

In the context of shearing internally- contained pipes. I envision drilling an access hole (or two) and intoducing the metal shielded fiber-optic wand. It can machine manipulated to raster scan blindly.

Trust this as not entirely unreasonable.

except that are NO fibers that can handle multi-kilowatt laser beams over a 5000 ft distance. every high power cutting laser i know of uses air or vacuum in hollow pips to guide the beams

8:35 PDT: Enterprise ROV2 has a good long shot of the well head.

Now we return to our regularly scheduled Goo-Cam

Frightening.....its flow has increased if anything from yesterday. And this is what is!

That is just a close up of what you have been seeing. It is actually showing less oil flow as the material behind the oil is more visible than before. You are maybe alarmed becasue the escaping oil and gas seem more "violent" in a close up?

Oil on the camera lens, for sure. But I just don't get the purpose of this nightly survey. Ostensibly looking at the fallen 5000 ft riser, but certainly something else of interest, occasionally quite active black billows and heavy hydrates. Reminds me of Doc Sevrensen and Johnnie Carson playing 'Stump The Bloggers'

The Akers Goo-Cam isn't idle or parked. It's swimming south.

He does seem to go on nightly jaunts.

Anybody know how long those downed riser sections can keep on belching oil and gas? or would it have all evacuated long before now? One of Boa ROV1's journeys ended when a thin white cloud opened long enough to get a good look at the open end of a riser, at which point the ROV ended exploration and ascended.

Another evening's journey over the generally featureless seabed ended with the capture of what I gather from the video id was a Compatt transponder. (used by the dynamic positioning system?) Odd to see that suddenly appear out of the darkness, sticking up on what look like a piece of rebar.

The transponders are used for the ROV navigation. The batteries only have a few days life so he is probably picking it up to be sent to the surface for a battery change or it quit functioning properly.

Hmmm... Boa ROV1's label has changed... from something like "Riser Survey" to
"Seabed Integrity Survey" Haven't seen that one before. (around 2:03 CDT, 6/10)

How can there be anything still spewing from a riser lying on the sea bed? Surely this has been disconnected from the BOP for a week or so now and would be empty?

Are there any pictures that show the base of the BOP and it's connection to the well, and do things look as they should down there?

Surely this has been disconnected from the BOP for a week or so now and would be empty?

I would think so, too, unless the riser is kinked in ways that have left odd nooks and crannies that are slow to release oil and/or gas. I don't know if that is even possible. Seems odd ...

There was a shot of the BOP and wellhead a couple of days ago - nothing untoward was noted by the people with drilling experience. The seabed around it looked much the same as it does elsewhere except for the large dimple where the piping entered.

This is no longer just a "BP spill" and has obviously expanded into an industry-wide public awakening of just how dirty is "dirty energy." Words fail to express the outrage, frustration that trouble-plagued BP is still in charge of what requires a major mobilization and condemnation, as though the nation were, is, under direct attack.

Dear Mr. President, if you really want to, as you put it, "kick some ass," Bring in the Navy:

What expertise, precisely, does the US Navy have in dealing with out-of-control oil wells?

There seems to be a widespread belief that by kicking ass and screaming, a solution to a major accident involving engineering under extreme conditions will emerge through either the shear force of Presidential charisma or public indignation. But the real world, does, not work that way. I have no knowledge whatever of the oil business, but I cannot see how solving novel and complex technical problems can be helped by the idiotic yelping of the US President or environmentalists whose consumption of fossil fuel is probably very little different from that of the average US citizen.

Dear Lucretius, you asked: "What expertise, precisely, does the US Navy have in dealing with out-of-control oil wells?"

What-ever expertise or private property that is needed can be drafted or taken to serve during a national emergency, with severe penalties - firing squads - for not reporting for duty or impeding operations. What's missing, at this time, is a pair of Presidential Balls.

I agree "kicking ass" (Obama's words, not mine) and screaming will not solve technical problems and I doubt very many people are actually under that illusion. I think you are suggesting an obvious point, we all have to make sacrafices. I continue to examine my life and try to find ways to do without, or with less, petroleum. And yes I see room for improvement in my life, and I'll keep trying to do what I think is the right thing. If that makes me an "environmentalist" in your eyes, so be it.

Kicking, screaming and howling at the moon...

Dear Greenfloyd,

Thank you for your civil response. I fear I wrote in some haste. I have been disconcerted by the seemingly inappropriate Presidential language and actions. Once the leak is fixed and the cleanup is proceeding satisfactorily, it will be time for an inquiry into what went wrong, why it went wrong and what must be done to reduce the risk of such an accident in the future. In the meantime, I would have thought that the most important thing is to maintain an atmosphere of calm, while providing close but quiet oversight to ensure that roadblocks to effective action are removed and all necessary resources are forthcoming.

And on reflection perhaps you are right about the Navy, they might indeed be helpful, at least in the cleanup.

As to environmentalism, what you say tends to confirm my view that it is as much as anything a moral movement, and as such, admirable. However, I suspect that environmentalism provides corporations and governments an means to evade many responsibilities, by leaving it to the consumer to "do the right thing," when the average consumer is hopelessly ill-equipped to know what the right thing is. It is for that reason I favor a carbon tax, rather than expecting the consumer to know whether, for example, buying a Prius is really environmentally friendly compared with buying an equivalent non-hybrid, which requires fewer resources to build.

" As to environmentalism" , I took the bait ( good points all, BTW) . Buy a used car, and simply DRIVE LESS. Yes, environmentalism is a lot more complicated that buying new Prius and talking about how green you are at the environmental conference in Copenhagen you FLEW to attend.

You are right on carbon tax. We consumers respond to financial pain more effectively than any other stimuli. Hiding the real cost of oil in military expenditures to protect the middle eastern oil fields and health care subsidies and health care insurance of cost of things like diesel micro-particulates (Google it, you will be surprised) , does not make the situation clear enough for the consumer. Though I hate new taxes ( because the cost of collecting them and paying them back out is extreme, and the source of all political power), having gasoline ( and any combustion produced energy) priced at its real cost allows consumers to make better decisions .

Dear Lucretius,
You are welcome, and I'm sure you understand the seriousness of what I'm suggesting. To the wealthy and powerful of this world any form of "nationalization" or interference in private business, (especially Big Oil), is the ultimate economic, capitalist blasphemy. "Thems fight'n words," as they say in Texas Broad Rooms. Nonetheless, any honest discussion can not ignore the political fall-out. Even while an unknown number of unsung heroes, the many skilled and dedicated crews, engineers, etc. who are tirelessly working, under what must be extreme stress, to control and eventually kill this monster. Gods speed.

I think it is instructive to note the change over time of the once "BP Oil Spill," to today's "Gulf Oil Disaster." If it's true BP paid Google to get top billing for its web site, it's ironic they actually choose a more fitting description. At least for now. We can not ignore the scary fact no one knows how big and how bad on the whole, all the rigs, pipelines, dispersant along with natural seeps, native bacteria, cumulative effects of many smaller spills and leaks will all sort out, over a thus far unspecified amount of time. We appear blind on the battlefield, naked in our ignorance. And we haven't even touched upon the national security issues this "disaster" raises. It's overwhelming...

It seems that this would be an appropriate place to ask a question that has been on my mind for a few weeks. That is... do we have any knowledge about the life expectancy of the plugs used to kill a well? When a well is abandoned due to inadequate production how long will the device/plug used to stop it last? I assume that there are any number of wells of various pressures that have been plugged and abandoned, some carefully some not, all over the world. Is there any data available on the life expectancy of the plug before it begins to leak out?

Thanks in advance.

greenfloyd, I agree the Navy could possibly provide support for the clean up, but that's about it.

As far as killing the killer well, the Navy has no place and no expertise in doing that. Even if they were in charge and could draft the expertise into service, that expertise is held by free citizens of the United States of America who get paid to do a job of their own free will. I don't think anyone would want a Navy firing squad to snuff out a few petulant AWOL rough necks that showed up late for crew change.

Dear wildbourgman,
I really wasn't suggesting shooting AWOL rough necks, they'd be thrown in the brig and subject to UCMJ. I was trying to stress the seriousness of my suggestion and a little bit of what it implies for corp-gov't relationship. Citizenship carries certain legal and moral responsibilities. As I suggested we all must make sacrifices. Refusing to serve when called is tolerated under certain specific exemptions related to family, moral or religious grounds. However, it is my deep and abiding belif most Americans faced with a monumental emergency would be ready and eger to serve their country in its time of need. This is such a time. It's also time for Obama to take the off the kid-gloves and deliver a truly proportional response to this ongoing, expanding disaster. Even if that means martial law and siezure of private assets.

"Most Americans..serve their country in its time of need."

Citizens [nations] should be rational: "The Russians are Coming", 1966.

America invited private enterprise BP to bid for leases within US territorial waters to extract a resource owned by the commons. They won the bid, the MMS government regulator approved, and "regulated". Now this.

Hopefully, the laws in place will extract every ounce of flesh from BP. How do we extract the ounce from MMS, and by extension Congress? Maybe limitations on punitive damages doesn't look so good? That can be changed. Why shred the Constitution and the rule of law with crazy talk?

"Hopefully, the laws in place will extract every ounce of flesh from BP."

The problem is in this case that the criminal is in charge of the crime scene. This is what many find intolerable. (Actually, the whole stinking mess is pretty damn intolerable.)

What expertise, precisely, does the US Navy have in dealing with out-of-control oil wells?

Plenty, during Operation Praying Mantis the USN and Marine forces offed many enemy from offshore platforms. Wouldn't take many to clean out the nest of oil vampires in the Gulf. Then if would be "our" Gulf again. Let the Feds get the oil, make it an arm of Amtrac.

If it has already been commented on and I have missed it, I apologize, but I would be interested to know what credibility there is in the claim by Ira Leifer that the leak may in fact be as much as 100,000 barrels per day. In particular, does he have any reasonable evidence for this view?

A report on his claim is provided here:

It appears likely that a relief well cannot kill the blowout well. Let's hope, if this is true, that it is realized prior to any fatal damage from heavy handed attempts at a kill.

Once again, I will say that the collection quantity of the cap is very good news. It appears that the cap can be tweaked to contain 80-90% of flow indefinitely. There is no reason I can see that this collection method cannot be scaled with different processing equipment, new cap designs etc.

What would be the effect of simply producing from the relief wells on pressure to the blowout well?

The end result of this situation may be a contained blowout and production from the relief wells as a best solution. Yes, some permanent skimming and long term cap extraction.

Could this be a situation where Rube Goldberg type production is better than a bungled kill attempt?

I would caution against putting percentage numbers on the oil collection rate. The cap design is crude, it lacks a proper diffuser and a well designed manifold to create a stable reservoir of oil for maximum rate of collection with minimum internal pressure differential.

Currently, the pressure differential is clearly substantial, as evidenced by large and energetic flow from the lower seal (and presumably from the upper vents, though they are not shown...).

I would wait until the total flow estimation is made by the government (BP obviously has one, but rather not say) and I would expect the collection percentage of this first-generation device to be in 50-60% maximum, which is better than I would have expected a week ago, but still far from a sustainable long term solution. At the same time, it would seem that the well flow may be quite variable, for a host of reasons and may increase, or change the flow characteristics that would make it less "collectible" with a unsealed system.

For example, at this time I see very substantial movements of the cap, both up and down and circumferentially, which have not been seen lately. I am not sure if these are flow driven or induced by the riser excitation.

Thanks for the comments. I agree.

I should clarify that I think that these are short term problems that can be solved. Thankfully, the constraints appear to be up-hole, more flaring of gas capacity, better cap design, full production capability, secondary capture pipes/rigs. Though the cap solution will always have to leak a certain percentage, I believe it can be optimized if it has to be a long term solution. And I believe it will have to be a part of the long term plan due to doubts on the kill plan for the complexities involved. ( see Rockman's many posts above. I know, he doesn't say it won't work but...)

We have had this conversation before. The current collection system is capable of recovering substantially more oil and gas that the Discoverer Enterprise is capable of handling.

As of this morning the flow records showed an average of about 16,100 bpd of oil for the last 5 hours and as much as 18,500 bpd for 1.5 hours but they had that choked back using two chokes, 102/64" and 104/64". About 4.07 sqin vs the over 30 sqin if the DP was wide open.

Hard to estimate what the wide open flow would be due to the mixed phase and because they haven't released a pressure reading from before the chokes but it is probably safe to say the maximum flow would be substantially in excess of 18,500 bpd, maybe even double.

In thinking about it I've concluded that BP might well not have a scientifically-based flow estimate. If they generated one it could be supposed. If they disseminated it within the organization it could leak. So their lawyers may have instructed them to avoid studying the issue and this may be why there is now a lack of processing capacity. The official lawyer-driven lowball estimate became the figure believed within the organization because they couldn't really send around a memo that said "that estimate is bs for the purpose of limiting our liability, the real figure is x"

After reading several posts here i'm more confident that the relief well will kill the blowout well.
BP estimated that the well would take until sometime in August to drill.
Give them time for several intercept missed and it is certainly the end of the month.
That has been the BP position from the beginning of the blowout that a relief well is the only solution to the problem.

BP has used modern tech to locate and drill into a tremedous resivoir. It somewhat proves up the idea of the tremedous oil reserves in the deep GOM and stands the Peak Oil theories on their ear. They screwed up the final stages or completion. Producing it with two or three or four more wells will not make much difference in drawdown.

It somewhat proves up the idea of the tremedous oil reserves in the deep GOM and stands the Peak Oil theories on their ear.

1 week & 5 days and you now know enough to debunk peak oil.

This guy has been caught intentionally misrepresenting facts a number of times above. It is the responsibility of posters to look out for trolls and trollish posts and flag them as inappropriate. This is one way we keep a low "noise to information ration" as Prof. Goose puts it.

It seems like the very name "relief well" implies that it is intended to be used to draw off flow, thus relieving pressure from the upper (failed) portion of the well. If enough flow could be diverted away from the failed part of the bore, perhaps the pressures in that portion of the original well above the intersection would be reduced enough to allow another attempt at a "top kill" type of procedure and/or cementing of that upper section without as much fear of it blowing out through the casing. With the portion of the original well above the intersection properly plugged, they could then either continue producing from the relief well or attempt to seal off the whole thing.

I suspect the name originated in water drilling.

Likewise, we are not exactly "Surfing" the internet.

Is that fire under the water at the cap?

Live Feed from Skandi Rov1: Click to watch feed from bp

Well, the cap assembly is YELLOW. Bright lights, swirling oil, yellow color — think fake firelogs.

nevermind -- the background is yellow -- it is an illusion.

I've seen that a few times, and I think you get that effect when an ROV is on the opposite side, and one of the lights is shining through the yellowish/brownish oil.

Its definitely NOT the yellow paint
Its a fire , you can see the yellow region extending beyond the top-hat
My guess is the DISPERSANT has caught on because of the heat generated by the pressures involved.
I saw it appearing for about 8 hours ago
If its not the dispersant but the METAL , then I think there is a problem (...Houston)
The 3x4 cams show a dispersant line entering the flames :

We had this same discussion last night, it isn't fire. It's the yellow from the top hat. I realize you're not going to believe me but that doesn't make it fire. If you stare long enough you'll see scratches through the oil plume and those scratches don't go away, it's not flames.

I believe that in our collective DNA , the imprint of Fire has been well ingrained as to appeal directly to our instincts.
I also believe that there are rabbits that stare into headlights ...

I watch in awe ...

You sir, are a rabbit murderer.

?? I'm a strict vegetarian ??
Its my wife that feeds the dogs ...

A fire requires free OXYGEN to combine with the fuel.
It is readily available in the air at the surface.
There is NO free oxygen available at 5000 ft. subsea.

If the chemical properties of oil wells are such that it excludes any free-oxygen-constituents , then I must certainly agree
I suppose then that the formation of oil is only possible within an anoxic environment or that oxygen is a part within the production cycle.
And oxygen being the radical it is , it probably wont last long as a separate molecule

This is consoling

They could adjust the hue on that camera
But it does serve to enforce that 'hell of a well' comment

For those of you who haven't seen this, here's a video of an AP reporter along with a coral researcher scuba diving in the Gulf and what they found. I had read here and other places that these plumes were mostly invisible. One of the plumes spotted by these guys looks very much like the oil coming out from under the cap.
Or is this the oil coming out from under the cap??? It's hard for me to imagine this existing too far away from the well. I can't seem to copy the video link directly here, but you can click on the on the video if you go here:

The plumes they have been talking about are mostly over 1,000 feet of water - no SCUBA divers there. What you are seeing are divers in the surface slick which often hangs down in the water several feet.

The deepwater plumes are pretty diffused with the oil measured in ppm. Nothing you can see with the naked eye, it requires special instruments.

The scientists seem to be more concerned about the low levels of oxygen created by the microbes eating the oil although there are others who think even these minute amounts of oil may endanger eggs and larva of reproducing marine life. I'm no biologist so I can't express an opinion as I have no knowledge or training.

IF BP 'could' somehow Tomorrow, COMPLETELY stop the flow of oil(Which it cant) this disaster would ONLY be about 10 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill. The Ramifications of which are only NOW beginning to impact the US Shores.The shores in all these states are going to get FAR WORSE soon, not a 'Few Tar Balls' here and there,more like WAVE After Black Wave spoiling the Beaches in an even widening area. what we are seeing now is merely the leading edge of a MONSTER. A monster that is growing every day. NO WAY Does BP survive this, it's Financial collapse is going to make Enron's look like Slo-Mo. BTW: The cap looks like it's ready to get unseated.

If only the financial collapse of BP would serve any purpose other than assuaging the human lynching instinct, that would be a great idea.

Killing the responsible party does not mystically return things to the previous status quo. Though I guess the people that effed up would not be with BP any more, they would be with Shell or Exxon. Would that be helpful to you?

I think Exxon and Shell have Far better safety records and this wouldn't have happened under their control.Look at the Stats Man, BP is a SCOFFLAW of the first order.

I don't disagree. Then who, with what motivation, allowed them to drill, the riskiest possible, deep water wells in the Gulf of Mexico? Maybe that is where the problem lies. Ultimately, politically pleasing the demands of the electorate with more jobs, cars and homes pushed that group to risk it. If you have a young child and have visited a toy store with same, the political analogy is not too divergent. What Union, business or car-driving individual says " we need safer energy"?

"I have found the enemy and it is us"

Ah, the Okeefenokee. We have met the enemy and he is us!

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.


People want energy, sure, but they in most cases don't know where it comes from really and don't really have a whole lot of practical choice in how their fuels are produced. People choose to use energy (in some cases they don't even do that much if you need two cars to get two people to work in oposite directions to pay the bills in an area with crippled public transport, if you're infirm and need the heat or AC...).

The extractive industries spend huge amounts of money on lobbying (both for opening up drilling and weakly regulating it), on commercials, on 'education' programs, on think tanks that just happen to come to conclusions the industry likes, on political campaigns, etc etc. They spend a lot of time and money convincing people that there are endless supplies of oil that will be provided cheaply and safely. Look at that new BP logo. They have spent hundreds of millions on these gambits in order to make billions, which funds the cycle again.

Thus I respectfully disagree that "we" pushed the industry. The industry wants to make max profits and they've poisoned the energy discussion for decades and rigged the game in their favor. Then we blame Joe Sixpack? Joe's been lied to. Can't make good decisions with bad data. Now there are some people who know better and go with energy gluttony anyway, but it's still close to an adict/pusher relationship.

Of course Americans know where their energy comes from - it comes from that tank truck that is always in the way when you want to fill up your SUV.

Actually perks the BP well wasn't "the riskiest possible, deep water wells in the Gulf of Mexico". While the water depth for dealing with a malfuntioned BOP is unprecedented the drilling of an offshore well 13,000' below the sea floor is very old news. Thousands of wells have been drilled to that depth (as well as numerous others that have gone 25,000' or more) and a great many encountering much higher pressures. If you include the onshore Gulf Coast there have been 10's of thousands of comparable wells drilled. The BP well required the same safe drilling practices that were well established in the 1950's. I expect no one to take comfort in this: the drilling, casing and temporary abandonment of the BP well was rather routine. In fact, so much so that this may have been a contributing factor to the lack of attention paid towards the end of the process. Fighting a bow out in 5,000' of water is another matter. Safely drilling a well like this is very old school.

I agree with you Rockman, this rig and crew just came off the Tiber well also operated by BP. A 35,055ft monster in over 4,100ft of water. Reports are that "Tiber" rates as a "giant" discovery.

It'd stop BP from doing more harm, which is plenty good reason for me. I'm a big supporter of the corporate death penalty.

Just curious what all that oil under the water would look like if it was floating on top of the water.

If you assume 30,000 b/d for 100 days (4/20-August), that's 3 million barrels total spill.

If you spread that an inch thick, how many square miles of the Gulf would it cover? What if it was 10 feet deep?

This isn't intended to simulate an above-water spill, but rather to put into some menaingful visual context just how much oil is likely to be spilled into the Gulf by the time this is over.

3M barrels is 126M gallons is 16,843,750 cu ft so 1 inch thick would cover 202,125,000 sq ft.
1 sq mi is 27,878,400 sq ft so the spill would cover an area 7.25 sq mi with 1 inch of oil
or an area of .60 sq mi with 1 ft of oil. which is 1.5 km sq

Thanks! I expected it would be a larger area,

How thick the actual oil film is then?

According to -

the darker spots of an oil spill are about 0.00008 inch or 0.002 mm thick. That's 1332 gallons of oil / sq mile. The thinnest (and lighter, barely visible) spots have 25 gallons / sq mile. On average 3 million barrels would turn into about 4500 square miles or over 11 000 square kilometers. Most of the oil film is thinner though, and all oil is not on the surface.

Anybody watching Skandi Rov 1 right now? The cap is really dancing around on there, and no, it's not an optical illusion. You can clearly see that the BOP is stationary (the ROV is holding onto it) and the 2-3 "teeth" visible at the bottom of the cap are moving in relationship to it. You can see that when the cap is jostled, a bigger plume is released from the uplifted side. Anybody have any idea what's going on?

I see it, I am not sure the Cap or BOP is going to make it till August when the 'Relief Well' is supposed to be done, what a disaster that would be

Video views from the Skandi ROVs suggest that there are too many moving parts down there.

Either the ROVs are swaying in the currents or the top of the BOP and the LMRP are doing
a slow dance.

Couple that observation with the seabed surveys being conducted and the inference is that
stability of the system is questionable and confidence in sustainability is shaky.

Also, Enterprise ROV 1 is looking slightly down at the the cap. Every once in a while you can get a good look at one of the 4 valves on top of the cap through the plumes. I've not seen these before. It appears to be closed at the moment.

I know that it is open to interpretation, but I can't help but hear we want to recover 28,000 BPD from Adm. Allen's quote. Am I jumping the gun here?

"The second containment system will boost the amount of oil being captured to as much as 28,000 barrels of oil per day," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Wednesday, providing the first official acknowledgment that the amount of oil gushing from the pipe may exceed governmental estimates.

Allen never explicitly said they were changing flow estimates. He simply said that they will be able to get 18,000bpd max on the DE and 10,000bpd via burning on the Q4000. The delay in moving the Q4000 over has been due to the retrofitting necessary to allow for the burning of both oil and gas ... the oil won't be stored on board.

His briefing is available both in transcript (on the Deepwaterhorizonresponse site) and video (on cspan).

Why not use the Navy to seize BP's assets. A friendly court order under the circumstances seems the least that can be done. They have lied, killed, slandered, and obviously will never change.

Might I add that first Katrina (and the Nashvile floods more recently) and now this, how many full-time military personnel and National Guard people who could be assigned to help clean up, monitoring and so forth aren't here right now... because they're burning massive amounts of fuel on the other side of the planet (in a region we have an interest in for its massive amounts of fuel...)

"National security" needs to be better defined.

I've thrown up a passing thought on energy security here

Do the drill ship heave compensator and riser tensioners keep the containment cap from bouncing on the sheared old riser stub? Is the heave compensator set to keep a steady low weight on jagged cut of riser stub? If the inside top of cap is raising and lowering off diagonal cut stub with the ship’s heave that is bad. Complicates dynamic flow to seawater, and puts loads to the cocked ball joint, connectors, BOP, wellhead and casing. Don’t want a catastrophic failure from any of these items.

Would the diamond wire saw have bound up if it had cut on the tension side of the kinked riser, 90 degrees to left of where it was?

The large number of unknowns of this dynamic chaotic well killing process will make for an interesting kill. I think the best people on the planet are in control here, they will learn a lot as the unpredictable events occur, and they will succeed.

What back pressure will come from mud raising through obstructions in well bore and BOP, pipes in seawater, and choke at the drillship, and what gas lift effects are there? This is complicated stuff, I take my hat off to the engineers etc.

The new containment cap to be installed should reduce or stop the leak (+/- 15K B/D) and make the well kill easier. TOD mentions heavy plutonium and lead mud at 34 lbs/gal, amazing. Is the bottom hole temperature 262 degrees F, and what is the temperature when oil reaches the Discovery Enterprise?

Most of the oil from BP’s blowout is still floating on surface of GOM, not at seabed as MS thinks. If it is not picked up before getting large scale into La. marshes or Florida’s beaches, BP will not operate in U.S. again. Costs will exceed Exxon Valdez mess by ten times. One barrel of oil will kill how many acres of marsh for the next decade, or keep how many million visitors off Florida’s beaches?

BP has done a terrible job of getting the oil off the surface before it reaches land. BP has known for fifty days this oil was going ashore, but has not made a worthy effort to remove it. The U.S. government also sat on it’s hands. Now with haste, the government needs to take over the recovery and cleanup, put the necessary manpower and equipment to protect our shorelines and economies, plus charge BP for ALL damages (regardless of amount).

It was believed the oil and gas underwater reserves were on the continental shelf (water depth out to 600’), and not out in the deep water. Well, that turned out to be false. In the last ten years huge amounts of oil and gas have been found in the deep ocean. There is probably more energy in methane hydrates on and near the ocean floor than there is oil and gas below the oceans. The temperature gradient heats up sediments rather quickly with depth so methane hydrate (it requires low temperature and high pressure) does not exist a great distance below the cold seabed, and does not last long in upper warmer waters. This hydrate is continually migrating up to seabed, breaking loose , floating up, disassociating to fresh water and methane, and the CH4 gets into the atmosphere. Lets harvest and use it.

These hydro carbons are needed now and can safely be discovered and produced. Ten years from now less than 10% of our energy will come from solar and wind systems.
At that time oil, gas, clean burning coal and nuclear (small amount) will supply over 90% of our energy.

The DOE needs much R&D for (a)clean burning coal, (b)carbon sequestation (if burning fossil fuels causes global warming), c)inexpensive shallow coalbed methane wells, (d)producing the million+ abandoned oil wells in US that were drilled vertically and still hold 80% of the oil but can now be extended horizontally for great production, (e)offshore methane hydrate, (f)geothermal, (g)solar, and many others which are better than wind and present day 15% efficient solar panels which are a waste of money.

A practically unlimited energy supply is available from the oceans sharp thermocline. A closed system Carnot heat engine can be operated from the temperature difference between the warm upper water and the cold lower water just a short distance below. Warm water contains a lot of heat energy which can be converted to electrical energy. The liquid working fluid is boiled by warm upper water, drives a turbine and generator for electricity, drops down to cold water and is condensed, and is ready for another cycle. Just like a backwards refrigerator.

Am sure I have made enough goofy statements here to warrant some criticism.

There's a video concerning underwater oil on youtube by a diver:

I have a question for the experts around here. I've been reading for a while that there are some restrictions in the BOP that are preventing some flow. I've also read that some of these restrictions are getting bigger as the flow is eroding them. Would it be possible to attempt to operate the BOP again to "take up the slack" so to speak compensating for the erosion?

I note BOA Deep C ROV 1 is on a "Seabed Integrity Survey" right now. It says so on the screen.

This website likes to take a series of facts (seafloor corruption) and weave a tale, but are the facts true?

Raw Video of June 9 fly over by Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office

The daily update on the BP website says that, "first relief well, which started May 2, continues and has currently reached a depth of 13,978 feet. The second relief well, which started May 16, is at 8,576 feet, and preparing to drill ahead."

Given water depth of just under 5,000 feet this suggests they've drilled through 9,000 feet of mud and rock with 4,000 feet left to drill. Since the last update three days ago the depth has increased by 1,000 feet.

Does this indicate therefore, that they will achieve the target depth well ahead of schedule, maybe even by month end or is there a dramatic slow down in progress at greater depths and when drilling at an angle? Or, might they be maintaining the August date for "bottom kill," in case they miss the target first time round?