Deepwater Oil Spill - the Hurricane Season - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on

Five years ago, shortly after Prof. Goose invited me to help him start The Oil Drum, Hurricane Dennis, a Category 4 hurricane, struck the Gulf of Mexico. It formed on July 4th, 2005 and dissipated on July 13th. This was the first hurricane that The Oil Drum covered, and the focus, naturally, was on the impact which it would have on oil production. This was significant, as the MMS reported.

Hurricane Dennis forced the evacuation of a total of 445 rigs and platforms, according to a Monday report from the U.S. Minerals Management Service, which was released a few minutes before the end of the regular trading session. The evacuations prompted the shut-in of 96.2% of daily oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as 62.4% of daily natural-gas production, according to the MMS.

The update was the main reason for the rally, said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Alaron Trading. "People were surprised that Dennis shut in 1.4 million barrels of daily oil production [in the Gulf]," he said, emphasizing that that was a bigger loss of oil than many expected.

In that first post, the path of the Hurricane was simplified to:

Which, you may note covered the Eastern part of the Gulf, with the black spot being the location for the Thunder Horse platform.

Thunder Horse after Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5, formed on August 23rd (It appeared on The Oil Drum on the 24th, and daily thereafter) and dissipated on August 30th. Much of the damage that has been discussed related to the severe damage that the area around New Orleans, and all the way down the Delta, suffered. At the same time the MMS reported

These evacuations are equivalent to 78.75% of 819 manned platforms and 67.16% of 137 rigs currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Today’s shut-in oil production is 1,427,969 BOPD. This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 95.20% of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD.

Today’s shut-in gas production is 8.798 BCFPD. This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 87.99% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD.

Hurricane Katrina not only knocked out rigs in the Gulf, it also had a severe impact on refineries on shore.

Path of Katrina through the onshore refineries.

The price of gasoline rose rapidly and transiently there were gas shortages. It was the first time The Oil Drum had problems with traffic swamping the server. As for the rigs in the Gulf

In terms of exploration, more than half of the 231 offshore rigs (excluding inland barges) currently working in the US Gulf of Mexico were in Katrina's path. A total of 48 rigs lay within the most adversely affected areas where winds were at hurricane force, blowing in excess of 74 MPH. Another 69 rigs were located in waters that experienced tropical storm force winds of 36 to 74 MPH. In total, 117 rigs, valued at a combined total of over $7 billion, had to weather the storm.

As of Monday afternoon at 3pm, the US Coast Guard has reported that at least one, possibly two, deepwater rigs have lost their moorings and are floating freely in the Gulf.

58 rigs were damaged or displaced of which 30 were lost. By Sept 2nd gas was, in places, at $4 a gallon.

Hurricane Rita, a Category 5, was formed on September 17th and dissipated on September 24th, 2005. The rigs in the Gulf had not recovered from Katrina, but Rita swung further west moving through the offshore rigs to come ashore at the Texas border.

The effect of Rita onshore hit more refineries.

The impact of any hurricane in the Gulf on Gulf oil production and thereby on the national oil supply can be visualized with this map showing the locations of the rigs along the coast, from back in 2001. It has not changed that much since, except that there are more rigs out in the Deepwater.

Rig density along the Gulf coast in 2001 (after National Geographic)

Now I mention all this because the gas shortages, and loss of production from the Gulf lasted through most of the fall of 2005. In order to help with supply the National Petroleum Reserve was opened and 11 million barrels of oil sold. It has since been replaced.

This year is already predicted to be a more than usually severe one for hurricanes, with 2 or 3 likely to make landfall in the United States. Which leaves me more than a little concerned, and while there are many different concerns (I was on a survey team that went to NOLA after the disaster, and then down the Delta, and have no wish to ever see such devastation again), two are becoming more pronounced.

The first is as much political as anything, and it relates to the growing creation of the petroleum industry as villain du jour by the Administration and the main stream press. This is not meant in any way to excuse BP or whoever is ultimately found to have caused this disaster, (and I won’t mention the different treatment of banking relative to the oil industry) but there are ongoing consequences both of current actions and attitudes and the potential increasing level of regulations and reviews that are being developed. They are all likely to negatively impact the resilience of the industry in bouncing back from hurricane damage, and in motivating, and even allowing, parts of that recovery to be as fast as it was last time. As a result, any significant hurricane in the Gulf this year may accelerate the return to $4 gas, and for a longer time than the last.

And in that regard, I do remain worried that the powers that be shut down the Top Kill as fast as they did. Yes there were some problems, and I noted some potential ones, but at least it might have ended with killing the well. That won’t now be possible until the relief wells get there sometime in August. And in the meanwhile the well remains vulnerable to storms in the Gulf.

Not that BP have not been making provisions for emergency disconnection of the vessels catching the oil from the leak, and potentially for storing some of the oil. As Kent Wells explained last week, "The current solution involves a new connection at the BOP, which won’t be put in place to the end of June."

This will include a new collection tool that is currently being fabricated, made from 10-inch thick steel.

In addition there will be a new floating riser, with a flotation can to hold it some 300 ft below the surface, down below the level of the waves. Unfortunately if it has to be disconnected, then for the time that the Hurricane keeps rigs away, the well will be spilling oil.

The flow of oil leaking from the bottom of the cap continues to diminish, indicating that more oil is being captured.

For the first 12 hours on June 9th (midnight to noon), approximately 7,920 barrels of oil were collected and 15.7 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared. On June 8th, a total of approximately 15,000 barrels of oil were collected and 29.4 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

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

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Repost from closed thread.

Alan said (in response to the news about the FRTG's increased estimates):

==>Now the choke has been removed.

Production wells are NOT produced like this.

Best Hopes for severe well problems *SOON* !"<==

And I ask:

Alan, et al.:

What if a/the primary cause of the drop in pressure below the BOP (8-9K to 4.4K) is *not* downhole obstruction and/or a lack of seal/casing integrity, allowing O/G to flow... somewhere else?

What if, instead, pressure is dropping primarily because of reduced restriction in the BOP/LMRP and the resulting increased flow.

Where might this be headed?

Note: I understand we don't have a binary choice here. I'm deliberately oversimplifying, in hope of getting a response simple enough to grasp.

Ok, so assume HALF of the pressure loss is in the piping or inside the first few feet of the reservoir ? The other half inside the eroded BOP ?

Or because a large flow is going into an upper formation ?


The pressure loss within the reservoir can have "bad" effects (from a production POV), but this is a Q more for a PetE or one of those rock guys. I can only guess.


And then there's that great unknown possibility: an underground blow out. Could have ruptured csg or broke down another cmt shoe at any point in the past. Or in the future for that matter. And won't have any indication of such except for pressure changes...maybe. Unless it happens very shallow and comes up outside the drive pipe. So many many unkowns.


Yeah, I've been getting the same feeling. As in, "I hope Containment Cap System v. 2.x is implemented really fast, works really well, and is extremely free-flowing (and John, the RW guru is in a very good karma phase)"

Am I succumbing to alarmist tendencies, People Who Know?

Perhaps I am in a bad mood, but I think that there is both reason for hope and reason for despair.

IMVHO, this is going to be one of the toughest relief wells ever. But luck and skill can offset that.

This is a screwed up well, poorly done with corners cut, which complicates things in multiple dimensions. But the industry has tremendous skill and resources.

Best Hopes for Prayer,


I am an optimist and think a permanent leak with an improved permanent capture system that doesn't mess with hole-of -unknown-stability is the best bet.

Sure, you have a little leakage, but in a few years they will just categorize it as "natural seepage"; though hurricanes are gonna be a bit messier than in the past.

Hello. I'm new here. This is a very informative website. I've got too many questions regarding the gusher, but I'll try to give it a go. I hope someone with direct knowledge knows the answers.

1. When BP cut the riser and the gusher was flowing freely, did BP bother to temporarily insert any flow instrumentation into the opening to determine an accurate exit velocity from which a total flow rate could be calculated? Or are folks relying on high-res video and computer vision techniques to estimate flow rate? Or are folks assuming a maximum flow based on source pressure at the seabed or in the formation below, including a bunch of assumptions regarding flow restrictions?

2. Is the current collection scheme passive with regard to flow control? That is, BP has placed some kind of cap on top of the cut riser. There is what could be characterized as a very imperfect seal. I understand that a high pressure within the riser below the cut would make even a very tiny seal imperfection look like an enormous leak (which it would be). What if anything has BP done to reduce the pressure in the collection system immediately above the cut riser? What is the diameter of the piping above the collection system? Is it the same diameter as the riser? I ask this to understand more about flow restriction.

This brings up my final point/question. Understand that I've been a professional engineer over the last four decades and also have a PhD, but I have never worked in the petroleum industry. I have worked in the power generation industry and other industries and performed design and project management on very massive systems.

3. What are the existing limitations that keep BP from inserting a high flow-rate pump immediately above the collection system that sits atop the cut riser? I understand that pump impeller design is a trade-off between outlet pressure and outlet flow-rate. If we knew the flow-rate of crude at the cut riser (see question 1 above), and we knew the pump outlet pressure at a flow-rate that matched the crude supply flow-rate, and we were able to insert pumps as necessary above the cut riser at distance intervals that matched the outlet pressure (head) of the pumps, then we could increase the flow-rate in the recovery system and stop (or dramatically decrease) leakage into the gulf. This statement is based on Bernoulli's Principle of Pressure and observations over decades of professional work. And with the mother of all gushers here, we don't need to worry much about Net Pump Suction Head and impeller cavitation. :-)

I look forward to your knowledgeable responses and thank you in advance.

I'm just a petroleum geologist, so hopefully there'll be others who might answer in more detail, but:

1) Any flow rate meter would be severely buffeted around by the gas coming out with the pressure drop at the top of the newly cut riser. With an unclear gas/oil ratio, any volume number would be speculative. We have been provided with some numbers of some pressures within the BOP stack, but I don't think we've been provided with pressures within the BOP that might have been recorded during the "Top Kill" procedure, which would have been interesting to see. The pressures and orifices have led to the current estimated flow rates.

2)The mere act of placing the placing the LMRP cap over the jetting gas/oil starts the process. True, some nitrogen and methanol are being injected, but the driving force has to be the expanding gas and gas continuing to come out of solution from the oil. The DOE has provided us with the production numbers, and with that the choke at the surface that is being tweaked with. The choke size is the controlling factor for pressures at the surface, as when that oil/gas hits the surface, you want to control the flow, maximizing the production and keeping everyone safe. The diameter of the pipe up to the surface might matter if you could process an unlimited amount of oil/gas, but the topside ship has a limit, and they've exceeded what they've told us what that limit is.

The next step is to pull more oil from the BOP stack and take it to another processing ship. This will be done from the 3" choke and kill lines to the Q4000 ship. We're told this could process another 10,000 BOPD.

3) The overshot tool is still under construction, and I'd like to know more about this. The only shot I have I took from the video Kent Wells appeared in May 31st. This somehow fits over the top of the cut riser and flange below.

We are told that when this is fully constructed and in position, the top of the well will be safe from any seawater incursion. I interpret this to mean that with sufficient processing facilities topside, the leak of oil from the BOP to the Gulf will be effectively halted. (barring a hurricane bug-out, which would leave the oil spilling, creating tragic-comic oil/hurricane scenarios that cartoonists explain better than I)

Of course, if the well is producing oil in excess of the silly numbers bandied about, no processing ship would easily handle what is coming from the wellbore. So, when that overshot tool is in place, I would imagine we'll have a much more definite number of what the well is putting out through the top of the BOP. I'm also certain that those bandying about the silly high numbers will then claim the oil is being funneled into shallow sands from a shallow casing blowout. A shallow sparker (seismic) survey run after all is said and done will show whether that was ever the case. Any newly emplaced gas will practically glow in the dark on a seismic line focusing on shallow sediments.

I just came from the beach and have the latest pictures from Gulf Shores today. The beaches were clean today but empty. Little or no oil visible. Four things caught my eye.
1. Madison Police car parked at head shop/tattoo parlor for hours. Where the heck is Madison and why were the folks there paying for a car in Gulf Shores @ the head shop?
2. Why are all the buses, cleanup equipment etc, brand new? I am talking Caterpillar equipment and coach buses as well as golf carts. My daddy told me if a contractor shows up at your house with all new equipment, kick him off the job.
3. The locals are all getting checks to stay home, and they want to clean and protect the beach so bad.
4. All the public beaches except for the main beach was closed for cleanup staging. Do they have to take all the access for cleanup? It is like they want to hide the truth.

I have the pictures to back this up @

Madison is east of Tallahassee - about halfway to the Suwannee River. Maybe they are collecting evidence - but Madison is a very Wasilla sort of place. They could be buying up supplies to take back to distribute among their friends. ;-P

Unless some officer is using the city police car to go over to work on the spill, it makes no sense. Madison County does not have any coastline so they are not there to observe and learn for staging their own coast cleanup.

Thanks for the pics....

Been wondering how the beaches were doing in Alabama.

I think we should send you guys some of our British rain to help clean up. I bet you get sick of those blue skies...

TPTB of TOD: I would like to compliment you on exercising your authority to keep this site from descending into a snake pit, but, also, for allowing commenters to express a wide variety of opinions on a range of pertinent subjects and make pointed, argumentative comments. It is one helluva tough job to balance the competing priorities—freedom of speech v. destructive anarchy. No “scientific” formula exists... just mature judgment. Thank you.

[I hit "all the girls get prettier" (again) so I wanted to repost.]

We do what we can. I don't take any pleasure in removing comments, nor do I go seeking them out. I read the flagged comments, or comments that folks send me in the inbox and I respond with the best judgment that I have.

It's our site folks. I count on the community to keep this place civil and to adhere to the norms that we work so hard to maintain.

This place will not turn into a flame pit like so many other fora on the internet, even if we have to shut down conversations or entire threads.

If you don't like how we run it, go somewhere else. Hell, go start your own site. You'll see how hard it is to keep something like this going, growing, and worth people's time.

Prof Goose. In support, I have disagreed with TOD staff and viewpoints many times in TOD posts. Nnne of my seriously critical posts have ever been deleted.

Keep it civil and the posts stay up. It really is that simple.

Thanks for keeping TOD online.

And just a plug for TOD. I know a lot of newbies donated as soon as they started commenting, but how many of us old-timers have coughed up some dough. I will be the first to admit that I sent my first donation last week and will not be my last. There ain't no place like The Drum and it needs to keep going.

Amen, and thank you again for your valuable work.

HO, Rockman or Prof G,
If there no significant departure from how oil is processed now, and there is a hurricane, what is the predicted down time for the current recovery operation? And how big a setback to relief well drilling? How long were operations shut down in past hurricanes?

200,000 gallon MILSPEC fuel bladders are available.

Why can they not be adapted for subsea storage? If they'll hold on land, why not 300' underwater?

You'd need to find some way to separate out the gas underwater then; remember that between 5,000 feet and 300 feet it's going to expand to more than 100 times its volume at the wellhead. Ignore that, and within hours of hooking a bladder up, you're going to have an overpressured balloon floating on the surface in front of a hurricane.

EDIT TO ADD: To put it in numbers, 200,000 gallons is only about 26,000 cubic feet. They flared 15 million cubic feet of gas in half of yesterday. That means a bladder will hold about 2 minutes worth of gas at sea level, or 20 minutes worth at 300 feet. I doubt the military has enough to handle a two week hurricane shutdown even if they could find a way to hook all of them up.

rat -- Normally when a hurricane enters the GOM they shut down all the rigs immediately. Need to start a couple of days in advance. About 25,000 hands to chopper to the bank. Shuts down ops for 10 days more or less. Drill rigs are evac’d and left to fend for themselves. Ships can typically travel fast enough to skirt the storm.

But we’re looking at far from normal ops out there now. Just a WAG but I would double the shut down to 3 weeks more or less.

Would it not be appropriate to make the BP oil recovery and RWs the last crews out and first crews back in ? Minimize or eliminate a shut down (in case the hurricane veers one way or the other ?)


Maybe that's where the Coasties could be a big asset.

They could load them into a US Navy submarine, and put them back on the rig the moment conditions allowed.

God only knows what condition the two Kill Bore rigs could be left in following a hurricane! If the cane gets one of them, it gets both because of the close proximity. How long will it take to get that process rolling again?

One gathers that the BOP and disconnects will work this time :-)

That deep, no effect from hurricanes. Only effects topside (people go running, and rigs left to fend for themselves (computers, etc.)). Figure two lost weeks per hurricane.


This is back up and going in two weeks? Remarkable!

Aren't these kill bores "floating rigs?" After one of the canes I'm sure I read where a few rigs lost their moorings and drifted even.

Computer controlled thrusters (normally used for near absolute stability) plus design make them pretty robust.

If not, bring in another one/two/four DW drilling rigs and restart half finished RW !


Alan, let's hope so. Let's hope these Kill Bores can do the job before anything comes through there. With the super-active cane season forecast we may indeed get to see how robust they are, and how fast they/others can resume operations.

us -- Not as bad as you might think. The well bores won't be damaged. And with the 6 month drilling moritorium there should be replace rigs readily available.

Prof. Goose:

I've really enjoyed your web site. I have learned much here about the oil industry and have come to appreciate what they do to get oil to me (when they don't foul things up). But it's become clear to me how much control of speech occurs here, which I find troubling. If people want to ooh and ahh about high tech ROV's, that's fine with you, but saying negative things about BP is frowned upon and subject to removal.

This disaster has brought lots of new people to your site, yours truly included. If people are compelled to say that BP is a rotten, cheapskate, corner cutting corporation that has brought a great evil to the Gulf, you should leave those remarks on your site. Otherwise, people will start to think you are doing BP's bidding. Are you?

By removing what you find offensive, you've made your site, in my mind, kind of souless and have cut part of the heart out of this awful event. Is that your goal? Is your aim banality?


More subtle than some but a troll.

Convince me otherwise.

What is a troll? I don't understand. Could you please explain what you mean?

If all you have to say is "BP is a rotten, cheapskate, corner cutting corporation that has brought a great evil to the Gulf" then you're probably better off going somewhere else. That's the "noise" they're talking about. If you have something to say about that's going on and that rant is part of it, the post will likely stick.
There is no way they should allow posts that consist of

Yay BP why is everyone picking on you OR
Boo BP you suck and should die.
Obama (pbuh) he sucks and he's responsible for everything I hate.

Neither of those examples have any value other than to incite more stupidity.

There have been many very negative BP posts that have had content to show why people feel BP sucks and offered more than a rant that have stuck.

There is no way they should allow posts that consist of

Yay BP why is everyone picking on you OR
Boo BP you suck and should die.
Obama (pbuh) he sucks and he's responsible for everything I hate.

What about:

TOD (pbui) sucks and is responsible for everything I hate? ;)

I'm sure the answer is ridiculously obvious, but I'm not seeing it. I am wondering what (pbui) or (pbuh) means. =)

pbuh (peace be upon him) is customarily appended to mentions of Mohammed (pbuh).

It's a slam on Obama, meaning to associate him with Muslims and thus terrorists, etc.

pbui would be peace be upon it.

Lame, I know.

Right (although as far I understand, pbuh is appended whenever you're talking about a prophet of Islam, not just the prophet ;)).

Nope, only Mohammad gets the big (pbuh). Jesus, for example get a (bbhn) which means "blessed be his name."

Perhaps I've spent too much time in the Kingdom....

Ha! You had to be there.

There was a knowledgeable guy posting last night who could not overcome his disdain for Obama, and blamed him for everyething. Whenevcer he said his name, (pbuh) came after it: Obama (pbuh) is a no good. Obama (pbuh) is destroying America. His was very eloquent and intelligent in his writing until Obama came into the pic. Then it degenerated into primitive rants.

He was very eloquent and intelligent in his writing until Obama came into the picture.

Compartmentalization. In cognitive science, the separation into NON-COMMUNICATING compartments of cognitively dissonant elements.

People literally do not understand that they are being inconsistent, because their mind will not allow the dissonant thoughts to appear together in consciousness. An amazing phenomenon!

One of the beauties of the forums is that you can cut and paste the dissonant elements side by side, and essentially FORCE the person to recognize their compartmentalization. Or not.

Often you just end up breaking the discussion. This is where the moderation becomes difficult.

When I write my autobiography, the title will be "Don't Go There!"

Ah, so! Thank you very much. I was envisioning a raspberry or something.

Well you know, I guess that would be up to Prof. Goose eh? :D

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Have you heard of "google"?

I'm not a power that is, but I've been posting to a wide variety of forums since 1995.

This is a specialized scientific forum run by reasonable people, not a general forum.

Respect the intent of the site, and forgive any deviation from perfection in moderation.

Passion is not the goal.

The "general" part of TOD would be the Drumbeat...worth a visit if you have not tried it yet.

I am new too, but appreciate the focus on data and facts they seem to aim for in the HO posts.
There is certainly reason for emotion around this issue but it seems to pollute the discussion and I am glad they trim the screechy fat on either side.
They might consider a daily "opinion" thread for free speech; but it doesn't seem consistent with the flavor of the site- "just the facts, mam".

it doesn't seem consistent with the flavor of the site- "just the facts, mam".

Speaking as a TOD member with 4.5 years more seniority, a few lead articles and about 5,000 posts (WAG), passion is VERY much part of this site.

However, we "fight" with facts and logic and opinion, but logical opinion, buttressed with facts. I will repost a deleted post, in part.

There is a tone here that reflects the academic environment, often biting and sharp, but founded on a detailed foundation.

It is not "politics" per se, but a world view here.

TOD assumes that you do your homework (also academic POV) and provide links and logical chains of arguments to "show your work". And do not make claims too far past what you can prove unless you label them clearly as supposition, speculation, opinion, etc..

I believe that my posting on blue-fin tuna meet those criteria. I provided data (link to a map) where they hang out and noted the overlap with the oil spill area. And that after they spawn, the young will be floating around the GoM for some time.

I also noted that the young of another species of fish had negative, but non-fatal effects, from VERY low concentrations of one component of oil.

Per TOD protocol, I was raising an area of concern that was relevant.

Elsewhere, earlier, I had earlier posted my personal assumption (IMO) that this years class of young tuna were not going to make it. Now I provided more data and reasoning.

Just the way we do things here, regardless of politics.

We are looking into an abyss, both post-Peak Oil and Climate Change. If one cares about the future, it is difficult to NOT be passionate. But passion alone is useless and counter-productive.

Best Hopes for the Newbies,


That post got deleted? And my response to it about someone tagging a few adults this year? No way. There needs to be an explanation on that one.

That was one of those parent-children things. The post up top got flagged by enough people that it dropped, and then all of the children are also hidden. :(

I'm curious why so many readers of TOD chose to flag AlanfromBigEasy's above comment.

Would one of them please explain?

They didn't - the post he replied to got flagged and removed, that also removed the replies.

Ya, but that post was innocuous and I thought quite important topic. What happens if there ARE folks here that do not want the bad news of biological impact discussed here on TOD. They can just gang up on a commentor and flag them away?

In lieu of reinstating Alan's post, I request a TOD main article on Biological Impacts of the Gulf Disaster. Heck, it could be a Campfire Discussion topic, but it's important, or at least I think it should be.

Let it be known that I truly don't give a hoot about what you think.

There is a difference between allowing completely free speech and maintaining a community with its own norms. You try it sometime.

When comments get flagged to be removed by enough people or egregious comments are brought to my attention, they are removed. It's that simple.

After all the work we have done for this community to keep this site open--you, someone who has been around a couple of weeks seriously have the gall to accuse us of censoring for BP? You sir, are a retarded fool if you think I am a fan of BP.

If you have enjoyed the site, then cool, come on in, have seat on the couch. If you don't like the site, then go away, and don't come back for all I care.

And, just for the record, I really really don't. I care about the community a hell of a lot more than a single member who has been here a couple of weeks.

Prof Goose, as has been said so many times, ignore the trolls. What you and your team have built here is an indispensable resource for those in the industry, and laypeople like me that want to know more about what we see and how this will impact our lives.
Keeping the signal to noise ratio low is a thankless task, and there will always be those individuals, especially on the internet with more free time than brains and demand instant gratification from people who owe them absolutely nothing.

Keep doing what you're doing, and from those of us that found, joined and supported your community (and will let you get back to your regularly scheduled industry news soon enough) - a heart felt thank you for the much needed education.

This is the only site on the internet that I have ever found which has both plenty of red meat content and a reasonably open forum populated with lots of regular visitors who are worth reading;if it were any more open than it is the site would go downhill fast, and the people worth reading-the ones who contribute to my continueing education -would be the first to go.

It would probably be even better than it is if it were to be somewhat more closely monitered in respect to keeping the commentary on topic and non partisan.

I never flag a comment unless it contains a lot of profanity- there are such things as school and library internet filters - or unless it is obvious spam.

I try hard to act like an adult when I post here and generally succeed about ninetynine.nine percent of the time;I hardly ever forget to take my meds;-).

When I occasionally fail I am not suprised if a comment gets deleted, and never bitch about it.

Posting here is a PRIVILEGE, a gift extended to me by the people who sweat and sacrifice to make the site possible.

I'm just a hillbilly farmer but if I can understand this, so can everybody else.

As I said two days ago, poor Oil Drum. You have been dragged into the tormented landscape of the political blogs due to this unfortunate event. As painful as it is, hopefully there will be a lot of learning both ways, but you will have to suffer the craziness as part of it. Stick by your guns no matter what. People mostly come here to learn. If they want to b---- and moan, they should go somewhere else. I am also absolutely prepared to be deleted if necessary and accept your editing when necessary. 90% I plan to be a good citizen.

Ridden -- Opinions vary. If you had been here from the beginning you would have seen me p*sis down BP's leg any number of times. Maybe I've gotten away with it because I do it on a technical level: I have worked the OCS for 35 years off and on including the DW. I’ve sat in the company man’s office more than once and observed the type of tech debates that have been reported prior to the blow out. I’ve spent thousands of hours hanging around the shale shaker watching mud returns looking for a kick. I’ve been on rigs that have come as close to blowing out as I would ever hope to not see. I’ve seen death on the drill floor first hand: 33 years ago help the company man carry a crushed roughneck off the drill floor.

But you won’t find post where I’ve referred to BP as evil or murderous. Those are human traits and not corporate. If (and it’s still a big IF) we have the story straight we know the prime cause of the blow out: incompetence. And I’ve seen that exact same mistake almost lose wells/take lives more times than I can remember. And I’ve detailed my complaints of BP in numerous post. Perhaps I’m tolerated because of my natural charm. Hell…the editors even tolerate my dumb jokes. I suppose we can just write it off to the extraordinary mind control I’m able to exercise over such distant weak-minded folks as the TOD editors. Yeah…that must be it.

But you won’t find post where I’ve referred to BP as evil or murderous. Those are human traits and not corporate. If (and it’s still a big IF) we have the story straight we know the prime cause of the blow out: incompetence.

Well said, Rockman.

Any colossus organization, like any large size group of people, is subject to Murphy's Law ("what can, will go wrong at the worst possible moment") and the Peter Principle ("everybody rises to their respective level of incompetence"). BP is such a huge player in the petroleum industry foibles are bound to be legion and legendary.

Btw, thanks too for your on-going insights. We're really fortunate to have a contributor on board who has first hand experience. Gives the rest of us armchair spectators a window into the real world of oil drilling and exploration.

Speaking on behalf of many of us out here, we appreciate it.

Thanks for your posts, rock, we appreciate them, very informative.

I very much appreciate your experience and knowledge, Rockman. You, Alan, Professor Goose and many many others here make reading and learning here extremely important to me. I respect the rules of this site and do not want to change it. Every now and then, I will try to make a comment on things I do either know about or have some right to have an opinion. Otherwise I just try to read and learn.

Thanks very much

Rockman, you're mistaken, I didn't call BP evil, I said a great evil has been brought to the Gulf. I gave the same reason you said: incompetence. For a moment, consider the thousands of good, hard working people in the region whose lives have been upended by BP's gross incompetence. Then consider the sum total of those people's growing anger and disillusionment, unmeasurable things for sure, but a real thing none the less. If that isn't an evil, and a social evil, then what is it?

If I'm a troll, so be it. That will not change. I'll just have to add some technical speak to my posts to make my rants less prone to deletion, although something tells me Prof. Goose and others will be keeping a sharp eye on me, especially if I say something negative about that useless corporation. But that's ok.

How many gallons of oil has BP dumped in the Gulf by now? 50,000,000?

Riden -- I'm not mistaken. Read my post again...I didn't accuse you of calling BP evil. My post was just to counter your position that post critical of BP aren't allowed. Again, review my posts. Setting aside my massive humility you'll see that I've offered some of the most damning arguments against BP and I've never had one deleted.

But I do understand the edtitors need to limit the chatter for technical reasons and thus "non-tech" points of view are limited. That's unfortunate IMHO. I like seeing all post especially those from the lunitic fringe...most here know I have a sick sense of humor. I hope you hang around especially if the focus isn't criticism ins't focused on the process. But either way it's OK with me...I don't mind p*ssing matches as long as I'm not involved. Like I occasionally harsh sense of humor.

I just don't think you will be happy here.

Rather than change to try to change the whole experience for those that are perfectly content here, the Internet may have a another place that you feel more at home.

Hello all,

I would like to weigh in. I have been visiting TOD every day more or less since the day it opened. I originally came here following a link at "from the wilderness".

At the time TOD was one of the few sites around providing a clear, balanced and very well researched body of work exploring peak oil and the effects or otherwise we may experience as a result.

When I started reading TOD, I was working in advertising, mostly on high end commercials for luxury cars. As a direct result of my research and investigation into peak oil and the future in a broad sense, I left the film industry and found work in Sustainability Management. My readings of TOD material informed and educated all the way along what has been a very interesting 5 years to say the least.

I am now in the last stages of commercializing a commercial product squarely aimed at those that wish to reduce the environmental impact of their activities. I believe massive changes are coming for humanity, and slowly but surely we need to change the way we live. The commercial implications and to whit the opportunities are equally as large.

I still read TOD every day. The members have become part of the fabric of my life. I cried when I heard that a reader I respected had passed away. (I'm a very red blooded male, don't you worry) This site (and it's inhabitants) is a very special place, rare on the internet, and I consider myself very privileged to be in a position to read it.

The founders and editors do a fantastic job in what is a dynamic and changing environment. The coverage of the recent spill in TGM is extraordinary. I salute you all.

Don't go changing, you're doing a great job. In fact, you've convinced me a long time ago that I needed to change mine.

Thank you.


Ben, with a handle like Kiwi, are you perchance a New Zealander? If so, North or South Island?

Glad to hear you ventured from peeking to peaker. Out of the closet, so to speak. And don't worry, your red blooded maleness will not be compromised. Welcome aboard.

Yes, a day would not be the same without a dose of TOD. We are quite the family.



Hi Tom,

I live in the metropolis AKL, but my heart is in my spiritual home, the mountains of Te Wai Pounamu. (South Island)


Hey Ben, Auckland has a beauty of its own.

But I can see why the canoe of Maui may hold a special place. Paradise on earth.


Wish I had seen it earlier - Discovery Channel just finished a special on the "Disaster in the Gulf". They covered the explosion, the various efforts to stop the flow and why most of them did not work. It will be re-broadcast at 11 Eastern time and probably other times not on the schedule yet.

I'd like to see commentary from the people here on how accurate their narrative seems or if this is just a BP puff piece. I missed parts of the show but what I saw seems consistent with what I have read here.


Delver – On one level I have sympathy for President Obama. He inherited a flawed system. I can’t think of a president since Eisenhower who might have been better prepared for the BP event. Ike had the experience of ordering thousands of men to their death. A major environmental disaster might not have rattled him much.

The system has been flawed since I started working in the OCS 35 years ago. It’s easy to take cheap shots at the MMS so I’ll try to tread lightly. But like most gov’t bureaucracies it exists on it’s own momentum IMHO. As an insider I’ve seen the flaws. So have all the other operators. So we’re going to push for stricter regulations? Silly question. If you’re a good operator you keep your mouth shut and tighten up your ops from the inside. And if you’re not a good operator…well, we just got a good example of how that works. For better or worse the MMS follows a path regardless of which party controls the White House or congress. It’s difficult to imagine any president attempting major changes in such an agency without sufficient motivation. The president already had to deal with gov’t and quasi-gov’t (Fannie May, the Fed) organizations regarding the sub prime and banking melt down. Toss in a little ongoing modification of our national security system. Hmmm…and this is a job he fought for. But the future does look much brighter.

Oh…wait…forgot about Peak Oil. Difficult to imagine that in 10 or 15 years we may be looking back on today as “the god times”. Well with that it’s certainly time for my nightly B&B on the rocks.

What you say is dead on, one of the reasons that President Obama is getting so much grief from his base i.e. progressives, is that they believed that he was larger than life and an agent of change. He did not inherit this but has been served this disaster and like his predecessor who was served Katrina, President Obama's legacy may well be defined by this disaster in the context of his leadership.

as the Bard wrote "some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them"

one of the reasons that President Obama is getting so much grief from his base i.e. progressives, is that they believed that he was larger than life and agent of change.

Not so much that, as all the promises that were made (about change and transparency and all that other good stuff) and apparently completely forgotten upon inauguration, although there are people who did seem to believe he was some kind of superhero.

and apparently completely forgotten upon inauguration

Not true.

The reality is the system is slow to change, fighting it all the way. Regardless the direction of change.


“the god times” Was it Freudian or concentration on the B&B? Your finger couldn't have typed another O if it wanted.

I wasn't (told myself) going to post after reading the last thread and scrolling forever in an attempt to get past the rant but your last two posts promted a brain tickle on a couple of levels that's been discussed.

I was wondering how the drill pipe stuck/pinched in the BOP affects the flow and and overall well integrity or structure i.e. oil and gas entering at different levels. I know there's no way of knowing precisely to what depth the drill pipe extends, where or if it might be broken or if this may cause any overall adverse effects when the RW is drilled into the main well. If the drill pipe extends to a greater depth is this the purpose of the second RW or does the DM pump down and back up the drill pipe? Does the drill pipe affect flow out of the reservior and what we see at the BOP/Top Hat connection? I think most of the color changes we see are due to lighting and dispersants.

I would like to add a tag along on your comments regarding more regulation and enforcement. When I see the constant return of comments regarding the government being lax in part I can agree. There are companies that choose to run there business parallel to government regs. and this usually results in disaster and death. They count on the absence of inspectors and inspections. I shudder to think how much our government would grow if enough personnel were employed to fully enforce the regs. and laws currently on the books. I'm guessing based on comment that many don't understand that industry sets the standards for which regs. are written. In most cases industry is a major player in why and how regs are written. The problems that arise when industry chooses to walk the fine line between getting by and doing things correctly is how we came to this discussion on the well blow out.

Regulations and codes are written to meet minimum standards within the field we are conducting business. When architects, designers, engineers and contractors side step the regs. incidents happen and those who don't know or have forgotten what they were suppose to be doing go into *knee-jerk mode*.

I hated to see the president step up with the standard "we are going to investigate this and make new laws to make sure this **never happens again** followed with a six month moratorium on DW drilling. For those who don't understand industry; DW drilling is safer now than it will be at any time in the future, until the next time someone choose to circumvent safe practices.

my – I actually meant to say “the dog times” but my dyslexia kicked in.

The actual condition of the csg, other cmt shoes and the drill pipe are such unknowns I tend to avoid the efforts to make such calcs. But I do appreciate the efforts folks make. An even bigger question IMHO is what are the conditions near the intersect point of the RW? I’m sure they have a well thought out kill sheet but as soon as they start pumping the kill pill that plan might have to be abandoned. We always have a plan. But we also have a saying: “Let the well talk to you.” Sometimes the well tells you your plan is crap and it’s time to come up with a new one…real fast.

As per the USMC: "NO plan survives first contact with the enemy." Life just seems to be a long, strange trip of blow outs.

EL - Truer words never spoken. As was once said the first trip wire will likley change your outlook for the day. From what I've read of the hands running the RW they've been zapped more than once and understand what they're heading into.

Honestly I have zero sympathy. (I'm very far from being one of those people who thinks he's a secret terrorist or some such.) He inhereted a bad system, but did nothing to improve it for 17 months while simultaneously pushing a greatly expanded offshore drilling program. If this didn't happen I ratehr doubt anything would've changed at MMS for the rest of his term, even with the great proposed increase in offshore. If the consequences of people thinking he was some sort of treehugging socialist weren't so serious I'd find that hilarious; I've always seen him as the prototypical neoliberal corporate shill.

I think Carter would have handled this VERY well, with his Navy nuke sub background and a general understanding of science. He'd have had an easier time of it determining what was possible, likely, true and baloney in terms of options and outcomes IMO. Eisenhower I could see doing a good job with this, and Hoover. Not too many of the others the past century or so... people getting a elected for media savvy for a job that is often a hands-on managerial position is a very very bad thing IMO.

I think Carter would have handled this VERY well, with his Navy nuke sub background and a general understanding of science.

I believe that, too, actually. Carter was an engineer at heart. Of course, it turns out that politics ain't engineering, so maybe his background wasn't the best preparation for being a political operator. But whatever. :)


He inherited a bad system, but did nothing to improve it for 17 months while simultaneously pushing a greatly expanded offshore drilling program.

In light of 39 years without a Gulf DW blowout of note, exactly WHAT would have attracted Obama's attention to the second most lucrative governmental agency, considering the massive and wide-ranging problems bequeathed him?

Hindsight is 20/20.

He campaigned on (unspecified) "change" after a few decades of loosey goosey regulation and corporate-friendly revolving door "regulatory" agencies in many departments. I'd hope that if you're going to double or triple the amount of coastline for offshore drilling that Plan A for that happening safely isn't "Gee I hope nothing goes wrong." It's not as if there weren't warning signs that MMS had problems:

This is very much the type of oversight department I'd hope someone would take a careful look at after an oil family was in the White House 12 of the past 20 yrs, including the past 8. That is, if I want to be a "change" agent. I think it's also safe to say that the offshore plan to begin with is 180 degrees the opposite of what most of the people who voted for him were hoping for, so for that to blow up in his face almost immediately is appropriate. (I'm a strict non-major party voter myself, I just don't like people cynically manipulated.) If you can't focus on several major problems at once, don't raise hundreds of millions of dollars and spend a year of your life running for the job.

Uh, err -- do you remember what the top agenda items were on January 21, 2009 when he took office?

1. Financial meltdown
2. GM meltdown
3. AIg meltdown and bailout
4. Afghanistan war
5. Iraq war
6. Health care reform
-- Uh -- don't remember MMM -- got to reform the Minerals Management agency.

Remember his opponent? Drill baby Drill! ANWAR or bust... not too much said about reforming the Federal agency that gave out those leases...

Frankly, I hope and pray BP is safer than it seems, living less than 3 miles from its Cherry Point refinery. Seriously. BP has also been a good partner to our community on salmon and wildlife restoration activities. I do not forget that.

Life is complex, not black and white. Because we are humans, we are prone to hubris. But any wise human knows that and prays for mercy every day of his/her life...

Final Update: New Development

Boehner Says BP On Hook For All Oil Spill Costs

House Minority Leader John Boehner fully broke ranks with the Chamber of Commerce today by accepting that under no circumstances should taxpayers be on the hook for any clean up costs or damages resulting from the Gulf oil spill.

"No taxpayer money for cleanup or damages -- period. BP pays," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel tells the Washington Post.

It's an uncomfortable departure for Boehner who got hammered all day, after he appeared to agree with Chamber President Tom Donohue that the government should pitch in to pay those costs. But it remains unclear how or when Boehner proposes to force BP to cover damages.

Now will he walk the walk:

Senators Menendez, Nelson & Lautenberg introduced legislation on May 13 to lift the cap on economic damages from $75M to $10B. At the urging of Senator Reid, they've since modified that to remove the cap altogether. They've asked unanimous consent to pass that bill at least four times, and each time the Republicans have blocked it (May 13, 18 & 25, then again on June 8). Murkowski and Inhofe have objected. Senators Vitter and Sessions have introduced legislation that would raise the cap on damages to four times the last quarter's profits or $150M, whichever is greater. So, in this case, $20B (assuming BP's 1Q10 profits were $5B). Dems aren't biting. Vitter also tried to lock in a solution specific to this spill, again without Democratic support.

Do you really think that the biggest issue with this spill is the corrupt politics of Boehner? I think when the history of this is written it will become apparent that a massive political failure on all fronts contributed to its cause, duration and collateral damage. Just read the latest article from Rolling Stone.

No, I don't think Boehner is the most important issue. I would have left it at one post, but his spokesperson issued two follow-up statements that ended up changing his apparent agreement to clear disagreement with Chamber's position that tax payers and other oil companies should cover everything over $75 million because of the damage cap.

It's a big deal. Whether the cap will be lifted and who will pay impacts millions of people and involves probably $10-$15 billion.

While political failure played a role, there was no role played by the oil company (in this case BP)? Just a passive victim? How about us users of oil who demand more, more more? How much do you think we drove the political system that you consider a failure.

There is plenty of blame to go around. But lets not give the private sector or us, the main driveers of demand, a clean pass, ok?

Thanks for this link, a very interesting and substantive article. Reading it now.

This does bring to mind an interesting legal question:

If the US was to receive a royalty on the production, are they not a partner-in-fact?

A judge in Louisiana may reasonably rule that they, too, have to pay their proportion of the clean-up costs and damages.

A judge in Louisiana

lives in our community, shared in the trauma after Katrina, shared the joy of the Saints, eats our seafood, knows members of our community.

Such a ruling seems quite unlikely to me.


To clarify, my comment was not meant to demean a "judge in Louisiana" the birthplace of half my family. However, Louisiana law is uniquely based on , or has its roots in, the Napoleonic Code ( ), not English Common Law, as is the case in the other 49 states, and our Federal laws. The liability and proof of ownership details vary considerably.

That is to say it is problematic to say you share in the profits of the well, but you are not a partner that would share in the liabilities of the well.

I also suspect the Governor of Louisiana would not object if some of the checks were from the US Treasury, as long as they cleared.

Actually it has roots in French (and other European, German and Spanish) law that was in place prior to the Napoleonic Code. France adopted the NC in 1804 and Louisiana Territory was sold to the US in 1803. (Also it's possible if want to - literally - make a federal case of it to appeal rulings in LA law to the federal appeals court if you feel US constututional rights are being violated by a ruling, and this has in the past brought portions of LA law closer, or at least specific rulings, to the English common law systems you get in most of the US.)

Generally sovereign immunity protects government from lawsuits, this is particularly true of the federal government. Without going into various exceptions and limitations (eg, federal tort claims act) any lawsuit (by any state or by any person) against the federal government would have to be pursued in federal court = exclusive federal jurisdiction. So no Louisiana judge would try such a case. Furthermore, the law under which any such case would be tried would be exclusively federal law. So no Louisiana law, no Louisiana court, just federal law, just federal court.

A ruling from a judge in LA really would not mean that much. Claims will be filed in Tx, MS, AL and Fl, at the very least. If a state judge anywhere tries to do anything, a very good case would quickly be filed in Federal court under the Equal Protection clause. A state court ruling such as this would create at least 2 classes of citizens, the issue would move to Federal court.

The only thing certain about BP's little mistake in the Gulf is that it's a sort of economic stimulus plan for the legal profession. All of the out of work fishermen along the Gulf coast should quickly become paralegals and court reporters, they would be assured of work for year.

In brief, no. A lessor/lessee relationship isn't necessarily a joint enterprise.

I'm pretty sure you are right, but - if they leased it to an operator they knew (760 safety infractions in one year) were reckless, it would make it an interesting case.

Not really.

The United States has "sovereign immunity." It boils down to this: you can't sue the federal government, unless the federal government has waived its immunity from suit. In other words, you need a (congressional) statute waiving immunity. You couldn't really sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act, because one of the big exceptions to the FTCA is for "discretionary functions." Basically, you can't sue under the FTCA for a claim that relies on the exercise of discretion by a federal agency or employee, even if you're claiming that the discretion was abused.

MMS is required to award leases "only to the highest responsible qualified bidder." (30 CFR § 256.35) "MMS may disqualify you from acquiring any new leaseholdings or lease assignments if your operating performance is unacceptable according to 30 CFR § 250.135." (Id.) But it's pretty clear that whether MMS disqualifies or revokes is discretionary:

In determining if your operating performance is unacceptable, MMS
will consider, individually or collectively:
(a) Accidents and their nature;
(b) Pollution events, environmental damages and their nature;
(c) Incidents of noncompliance;
(d) Civil penalties;
(e) Failure to adhere to OCS lease obligations; or
(f) Any other relevant factors.

(30 CFR § 250.136)

That leaves you with trying to proceed under 43 U.S.C. § 1349. But it's not clear what exactly you would be able to sue over, given both the subject-matter and time limitations set out in that section. It's available here:

True, but you do not have to sue the Federal Government for BP to argue a reduction in a share of liability due to a "sovereign immunity" partner relationship. So, that portion goes unpaid, or the US pays the claimant(s) for political reasons.

True, but you do not have to sue the Federal Government for BP to argue a reduction in a share of liability due to a "sovereign immunity" partner relationship. So, that portion goes unpaid, or the US pays the claimant(s) for political reasons.

Hey, I am not trying to make a federal case out of this ( pun intended ), I just think it is an interesting question — is the Federal Government a partner with liability by virtue of its potential profit if production occurs?

They are perfectly willing to bank the royalty if the well is successful, yet claim no liability if it fails any damages others? (Not getting into the grossly negligent oversight)

This is not a luxury that the others that share in potential production profits will enjoy.

But it's just not the case that mineral royalties create any sort of joint enterprise or partnership or otherwise impose liability on the lessor of mineral rights.

Of course, I don't really know what BP is actually on the hook for, because I haven't looked at the statutory scheme capping liability for economic damages and so on. But as far as I can tell, there's 0% chance the federal government would be implicated as comparatively at fault for this spill in some kind of civil suit.

No, I hear you. It's fun to think about. It's fun (for me, anyway; this is what law school does to you :P) to dig around in the U.S. Code and try to see what you can come up with.

This is not a luxury that the others that share in potential production profits will enjoy.

For good reason: the others that share in potential production profits aren't owners of the land and/or mineral rights that BP, et al. want to extract.

Just as a policy matter, it makes good sense not to want to impose any liability on the lessor of mineral rights. What's more valuable to society as a whole? Land/mineral rights that go untapped or land/mineral rights that are exploited and so made usable by society more generally (by industry, by consumers, etc.)? The latter, of course. But if those who own the mineral rights were liable for the torts (intentional or negligent) of mineral rights lessees, owners would be much more hesitant to enter into leases making mineral rights productive.

Anon: Ah, yes. "or (f)" The magic always comes at the end. And what a "reasonable" MMS official thinks is "relevant." Then, "reasonable and relevant": what a judge, the jury and finally what an appeals court think the these words means with great deference to the MMS as the experts and a nod to precedent.

Yes... except for the royalty interest.

The lease payment does not imply a production partnership. Royalty payments are a different animal. The US will not be liable as a result of the leasehold interest, the royalty interest is a completely separate relationship, arguably, the same as a partner.

Mineral royalties are common in mineral rights leases. It's part of the consideration for leasing the right to extract the minerals, and doesn't imply any kind of partnership or enterprise relationship.

I saw a BP commercial that they stated that BP would cover all the cost without Gov money.

Key word: "commercial."

So, in this case, $20B (assuming BP's 1Q10 profits were $5B).

I think it is just an idle posture. it will affect future accidents but not the current one. First you cannot introduce a law that retroactively for events that is already passed. It is forbidden by our constitution (check the reference here) and will be stuck down by the court. Second BP already agree to pay beyond the 75mm cap. So what exactly will this boo ha ha do? With a high cap for damage in the future, all the small to mid size operators has to leave GOM.. The ATP, even APC of the world cannot handle a 10B - 20B damage. So every hole that they drill in GOM mean that they are betting their company's survival.. Why not invest their money somewhere else? Alternatively if the cap is not high enough, tax payer are going to be on the hook for spill caused by the small operators.. Do we really want that?

An ex post facto law (from the Latin for "from after the action") or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. In reference to criminal law, it may criminalize actions that were legal when committed; or it may aggravate a crime by bringing it into a more severe category than it was in at the time it was committed; or it may change or increase the punishment prescribed for a crime, such as by adding new penalties or extending terms; or it may alter the rules of evidence in order to make conviction for a crime more likely than it would have been at the time of the action for which a defendant is prosecuted. Conversely, a form of ex post facto law commonly known as an amnesty law may decriminalize certain acts or alleviate possible punishments (for example by replacing the death sentence with life-long imprisonment) retroactively.

A law may have an ex post facto effect without being technically ex post facto. For example, when a law repeals a previous law, the repealed legislation no longer applies to the situations it once did, even if such situations arose before the law was repealed. The principle of prohibiting the continued application of these kinds of laws is also known as Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali, particularly in European continental systems.

Generally speaking, ex post facto penal laws are seen as a violation of the rule of law as it applies in a free and democratic society. Most common law jurisdictions do not permit retroactive criminal legislation, though new precedent generally applies to events that occurred prior to the judicial decision. Ex post facto laws are expressly forbidden by the United States Constitution. In some nations that follow the Westminster system of government, such as the United Kingdom, ex post facto laws are technically possible as the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy allows Parliament to pass any law it wishes. However, in a nation with an entrenched bill of rights or a written constitution, ex post facto legislation may be prohibited.

xo: Be careful here. The discussion you cite is about criminal law. Civil penalties are treated differently.

Question for Alan:

Hearing anything on trying to get the 80/20 or 70/30 plan approved since this mess?

Are you talking about the effort for more relief wells ? That has been my primary focus recently.




I think BP will end up settling this matter by forming a trust that will probably contain most or all of the production assets of BP in the GOM and possibly Alaska. The income of the trust will be used to pay out claims over a period of years. The rest of BP would then still be around as a separate entity, though significant assets would be dedicated to funding the trust.

This could be similar to the Manville Trust, formed in the 1980s as a result of Asbestos litigation against Johns-Manville Corp. This trust in still in operation today, almost 30 years later.

Edit: Some evidence of this is Tony's exit from the scene. BP has formed a new entity that is headed by the former Russia director, who had some significant experience in what happens when a country quasi-nationalizes BP's assets in that country.

Interesting angle perks. I haven’t understood some of the comments that BP could go bankrupt and not be able to cover the ultimate costs. I’m too lazy to research it but even if the $30 – 40 billion cost estimate is correct aren’t BP hard assets valued into the 100’s of billions? Much of the talk has been about BP’s ability to pay dividends in the many billions. But their annual revenue stream has to be many times greater than the dividend yield. Am I missing something?

An off the cuff estimate of BP's worst-case real worth is probably made by subtracting all of the domestic US assets the US Gov could get its hands on.

Frankly, a trust of such assets would be able to pay out a significant sum in the future. What would each barrel of production be worth in the 2015-2020 time frame?

Edit: When BP says they will pay all "legitimate claims" they appear to be saying those claims determined to be legally valid. The time in the courts before actually paying these claims may be a few years down the road.

I for one am so sick and tired of hearing BP saying they will pay for everything and the media, Washington and all the anti-oil pundits saying "you're gonna pay, you hear me, your gonna pay!!"

For the love of god folks, BP is gonna pay and they know it. Now, how bout offering help to get the damn stuff cleaned up. Foreign ships, spraying hay, sawdust, anything. If just half of the hot air in Washington was spent on cleaning it up or preventing it from getting to shore there would not be as much destruction.

I sometimes wish that BP, when they go into the next congressional hearings, would nad up and say "if you don't get off our backs long enough for us to stop this thing we will declare the $75 million cap and see you in court."

The Brits could learn a thing or two if they watched the old black and white films of Howard Hughes congressional testimony.

Sure, if only BP had the guts to tell those feds to back off, then they could do the kind of top quality work that ...... what, that got us into this mess? BP has zero credibility and deserves zero leeway. I do not think any of these issues will much change what happens under the sea (with the possible exception of how many relief wells are started, but that appears to be decided)- they may or may not be able to reduce the size of the gusher, but the leak will continue until a RW can stop it.

Serious federal pressure might get them to take the surface and shore clean up more seriously. I have no doubt that as soon as they do get it stopped then they will begin weaseling on the cost part to the best of their ability. They are a corporation, and that is simply what corporations do - and BP has plenty of resources to spend on media, fake grass routes campaigns, political contributions, etc.

If the government wanted to "nad up" they could put such serious pressure on BP, but that is unlikely.

Of course, when all is said and done, a sizeable percentage of the blame may stick to Transocean and Halliburton in particular. Notice how their culpability seems to have slid away from the news?

I wonder what the far right would do if Cheney's baby was in the frame for a few billion?

texican: Nad up! Great idea. I can't imagine how this might backfire. No risk here. What with the BP leases in the GOM being on government property. And future leases in the GOM... piece of cake. Just nad up again, pard.

Interesting thought; it obviously won't happen though. Nonetheless, people here are beginning to tire of Obama's petty and vindictive anti British rants. We've experianced ranting leaders before and we don't much like being bullied. It's obvious that his domestic inaction since Apr 20th has crystalised growing disatisfaction amongst voters with his presidency for other reasons and his response is to come out with all guns blazing against the foreign devil, BP. It's stirring up a new McCarthyisim when it's becoming un American to say anything positive at all about BP which is interesting, given it employs 23,000 Americans, has four on it's board, supplies 12% of all US energy needs and is the Defense Departments biggest supplier with 40% of the company being owned by Americans. Perhaps if BP had retained it's BP Amoco handle it might be in a better place but then it's not the only one to change it's name, Barack Hussein Obama.

I'll check the Hughes thing out on youtube but I can't help but be left thinking that the man who sent back the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, who gave the Queen an iPod and the previous Prime Minister a set of DVD's as presents, (that weren't compatable with Europe), just doesn't get it. I'm also thinking Reagan & Thatcher wouldn't have acted like this; at least Reagan might have picked the phone up and talked to the guy responsible for the mess and the clean up.

Still, with every new ranty, shouty speech he manages to ramp up the risk premium for any company doing business internationally. The question the oil industry must ask itself is how on earth would an explorer without BP's financial muscle last before declaring insolvency in a legally aggressive environment where liability stretches to unfilled hotel rooms hundreds of miles away and the loss of salary to oil workers standing idle as a result of Goverment decisions. Will then, as a result of this, only the very largest E&P companies be allowed to drill and what are the implications for other industries?

it's not the only one to change it's name, Barack Hussein Obama.

with every new ranty, shouty speech

That BP is British (or just a diffuse multi-national) has no bearing on the reaction to their behavior (save that ExxonMobil or ChevronTexaco would not have Tony the Twit in charge and speaking for the company).

Royal Dutch Shell is quite well, even fondly#, thought of locally and seen as the "best of the majors". So much for xenophobia.

The British are *NOT* the injured party !! That should be clear.

My advice, just write off any BP stock owned as a loss, part of the risk of investing in corporations (especially those with bad ethics) and go on.

There is no "anti-British" sentiment per se, but if you rush to the defense of this felon there may well be, and for just cause !

Sorry about the iPod for the Queen and the DVDs not working.

On more significant issues:

The damages caused by BP are unknown (the damm well is *STILL* leaking massively !) and will not be fully known for years, if not decades.

It is clear that BP's promise "to make it right" (which includes secondary damages like lost tourism as well as tertiary damages such as local tax collections) is a lie.

Another clear fact is that BP is a multiple felon (unique among US corporations in EVERY industry) and their word is not to be trusted. Their compensation efforts to date are clearly unsatisfactory.

The ENTIRETY of BP's assets, throughout the world, should be available to pay for their damages, trebled if gross negligence is proven.

Best Hopes for Top Dollar for Bids for BP's Assets,


#Shell's post-Katrina efforts were exemplary and remembered. Alone among the major oil companies.

I agree with virtually all of that and it's reassuring to know that we haven't, as a nation, yet achieved the levels of welcome usually reserved for rabid dogs. My comments about anti British remarks are aimed directly at the current POTUS. I maintain though, that the jury is out on BP and how they will make it right. To have a starting point that they are lying is fair enough given you're there and I'm not but I think it's premature nonetheless. Apart from any other consideration there will be attempts at fraud on an interesting scale, there always is and in every country; they can't just cut cheques to anyone who turns up with a sad story and no paperwork.

You might be interested in some numbers put out by JP Morgan this morning.

"* Based on yesterday’s closing ADR price, BP has lost $98bn of value since 20 April.

* BP’s entire US upstream and downstream business has a likely market worth in excess of $100bn. BP’s 2010E PER has fallen to 5x; its dividend yield now exceeds 10%.

* This event has rapidly assumed global implications far and beyond
the oil industry. We note that during 2005- 2009 BP paid total income taxes of
approximately $51bn, an average of $10bn per annum. Over this period, BP
incurred upstream production taxes (including affiliates) totaling over $28bn
($35bn) or $6bn ($7bn) per annum. Over this period, BP’s US upstream business
incurred average annual income and production taxes (royalties) of over $4bn. In
a high fiscal deficit prone world, governments are critically dependent on every
tax dollar - BP is one of the industry's biggest tax payers. A weakened BP will
invest less and pay less tax.

* BP's loss of relative value has overshot a worst case - The sum of clean up
costs ($5bn), a fine under the Clean Water Act ($8.1bn) and litigation ($16bn) is around $29bn. In order to stay below a 30% gearing threshold, this might require asset divestments of $10bn. Adjusted for the sector’s weakness, BP’s market value has fallen by twice this figure.

* BP will almost certainly be exposed to claims from various businesses (most obviously tourism and fisheries) in the four states most exposed to the spill – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Total revenues from tourism by these states is c.$3bn,$9bn, $2bn and $57 bn respectively. The same figures for fishery revenues are approximately $1bn, $3bn, $0bn and $5bn. If we assume an extreme 50% loss of fishery and tourism revenue for both 2010 and 2011 for all four states (investors can pick the numbers) and a 20% industry average profit margin, then the aggregate exposure is $16bn. We note that this figure is 100% and unadjusted for any time value if unreasonable claims are contested.

*Potential fine exposure under Clean Water Act – This is as difficult to
estimate as potential litigation, not least because it depends on an accurate
measurement of the well’s leak rate. The independent flow rate technical team
has yet to provide an assessment, but informed estimates range 12-25 kbopd. If
we take the high end (25 kbopd) and assume the well is capped by 4 July (as per
prior bullet), this implies an oil spill of 1.9 million barrels. This implies a fine of $2.1bn at the specified rate of $1,100 per barrel (source: Clean Water Act). If BP is found to have been grossly negligent, the fine could rise to $8.1bn at the higher specified rate of $4,300 per barrel. We must caveat that estimates of the total spill are just that - estimates."

I have seen this rant coming from across the pond for 3 days now, and it baffles me. Just exactly when did Obama bash the British? Can you show any links where he has done so. Up until these stories started being published I saw no anti-British sentiment.

On the other hand, I have read quite a few stories in the British press where some, especially pensioners, are a bit upset that BP stock has gone down. Could it be that the basis for the anti-American feelins has to do with people's stock portfolio going down?

Look forward to the links showing Obama's negative statements about England.

Uppity colonists attack jewel in British crown, screams The Sun?

It grates every time I hear that, but some people will view this as an excellent opportunity to get rich quick on the back of BP's shareholders. In other words there will need to be some minimal level of vetting or there will be an unacceptable level of fraud.

I checked BP's 1st quarter, 2010, profits. Profits were $5.6 billion after taxes. This is a large increase over 2009 1st quarter, though, which were only $2.4 billion. I don't know what percentage of their profit is paid out in dividends, although it should be easy to find out.

nep -- Interesting...thanks. Not sure but I think dividends are subtracted before profits are stated. Also, profit isn't always profit due to accounting procedures. Maybe Gail could help out here. I'm most interested in BP annual cash flow. That may be a better indicator of BP to cover the blow out costs.

I think it's the other way. They state profits, and then they pay the dividend. Ist 1/4 profit was around 6 billion. Of that, around 2.5 billion will get shipped to shareholders.

They pay a nice dividend. Lots of grandmothers own BP.

If you take the cash flow this year and try to cover all of the estimated liabilities, BP could probably manage it only with the sale of the Alaska holdings and not change dividend or exploration investment budgets.

Realistically, BP will be paying over 10 years or so, much easier on cash flow.

Exxon's final payment for punitive damages and interest, for the 1989 spill were made in 2010. Though the major settlements were in the 2000-2001 time frame.

About $10B/yr is paid out in dividends.

One thing I haven't seen appreciated here is that expenses related to the spill count as that. expenses. This will reduce the profit and thus the amount of tax paid by BP.

I don't know what BP's effective tax rate on their US profits is, 0? 25? 50%. But it may be an interesting thing to figure out how much US taxpayers are going to be contributing to the cleanup via this back door per dollar that BP contributes.

BTW, fines arising from criminal penalties are not tax-deductible. Civil are.

Also, in a hostile environment, I think some of their 102 billion net worth could take some serious hits.

Do they pay much in the way of income tax to begin with? This could be negligible. They might even usually get a rebate. I thought the excise taxes and royalties were the vast majority of what a corp like this pays. In fact above I almost left a half-joking remark that if BP's quarterly profits were "$5.6bn after taxes" it could mean they were "$5.5bn before taxes."

perks is right on the mark here. Even if BP's cashflow is more than enough to cover the stream of eventual liabilities, as time goes by there will be enormous incentives to try to protect as much of their business as possible from the liability costs. The Manville trust is a pretty good analogy. From an investor's viewpoint, the uncertainty around possible future liabilities is very negative. That's why the stock got hit so hard, it's the uncertainty as much as anything. As an investor, you just don't want to be holding it.

What you would like to do, from the company's viewpoint, is build a wall around the damages somehow. You can't walk away from them, the courts would not permit it.

The tobacco companies made a similar settlement. It would go something like this: the company agrees to put part of its business assets in a trust, whose revenues are dedicated to paying the damage claims. Usually, these would be the assets which are easiest for plaintiffs to pursue anyway, in this case, as perks suggested, the US assets. BP has global interests, and some of them might be difficult for plaintiffs to access.

In return, the company gets to shelter the remaining parts of its business from additional claims. The company stops fighting the claims against the trust assets, and perhaps an expedited arbitration process helps speed payments to the claimants. Everyone might walk away a little better off than they would be in a nearly endless legal fight.

cudBwrong. Sensible plan. Highly technical term: "Ring fence the SH**." But for this to work, sometime, somewhere, all parties are going to have to come to all sorts of mutually approved agreements. Last I heard parties were all pointing fingers at each other. And then you have Goldman rumored to be concocting a poison pill defense from competitors. It's all still too murky for any confidence. Yogi Berra once said: "Prediction are hard to make, especially about the future." I'm with Yogi.

I'm not a lawyer --
BP has repeatedly stated that they will pay, "All legitimate claims". This is quite clever language in that for PR sounds reassuring, and more assuring when uttered along with token cash payments. However, "legitimate" in this context should only be construed as: "As determined by a court of law".

An interesting development on the "legitimate" claims front is the cost of the US imposed drilling stand-down. Suggestions that is BP is responsible for the loss to all as a consequence of the MMS imposed moratorium on drilling i.e. lost wages and profit to every entity affected by the moratorium.
Interesting question of indirect liability with stakes large enough to easily bankrupt BP. (I think it's a non-starter, but the pressures on.)

I think that very soon, the Congress will override the SCOTUS decision reducing punitive damages to twice actual damages i.e. the Exxon Valdez decision:
I don't think that this creates an expost-facto problem as long as the law is passed before any final judgement of a lawsuit.

On the criminal liability side, the evidence for criminal operational liability probably burned and rests on the sea floor. On the other hand, allegations to possibly wrongdoing WRT to misrepresentations to MMS are available, and the USDOJ will make this case, maybe not prosecute it, but it makes powerful leverage to coerce a more equitable meaning to the clever "legitimate claims".

The last thing BP should desire to do, is to go to war over this with the victims or the US Government. They probably will though.

The one group that will gain enormously from the Macondo gusher is the trial lawyers. See BLEAK HOUSE, by Charles Dickens for an idea of litigation to come and its outcome.

Welcome Back ! :-)


Ah...forming a trust.

This is what Owens Corning did about 14 years ago when the asbestos grim reaper appeared at thier door step. It pushed their stock way down as all their profit money (6 billion $) per year went to the trust. Eventually they went into chapter 11 were appointed their own receiver under bankruptcy as they were seen by the courts to be the best one to run their bankruptcy protection. Eventually went into bankruptcy and left the shareholders with a bunch of useless paper. Now the company is owned by ??

Not sure what happened to the asbestos folks and I do feel for them but OW assumed the position of being responsible for everyone who ever had any loss from asbestos in perpetuity.

The market can be tough and BP shareholders may find out the same thing as those who owned OW.

If there is as much oil under water as everyone is saying then this will plague the US coast line and the islands of the Carribean for decades to come. BP will never be free of the effects of this disaster.

Asbestos is an instructive example. The health hazards were poorly understood as the product became used everywhere, creating enormous exposures (a real tragedy) and ever multiplying costs. At least a blowout and rig fire calls attention to itself right away, we are alerted to the problem now, instead of decades later.

Owens Corning just didn't earn enough to pay for everything and still have a business left. BP has likely future earnings that probably will be more than enough to cover the bills. But they will find it harder to raise capital in a very capital-intensive business. The two main ways to raise capital are stocks and bonds. In both cases, investor nervousness over the liability uncertainty makes it more difficult and more costly to raise money, which is why BP will want the ring fence. That gives them incentive to negotiate.

The incentive for the various injured parties is that a raw legal battle could last indefinitely and bankrupt everyone except the attorneys. Even the lawyers can go bankrupt if they are working on contingency on something that never settles or wins a judgment.

The negotiations will be very very difficult, but maybe not as hard as the bottom kill, since there are incentives for everyone eventually to make a deal.


"Speaker" posted an important comment on the dispersant question, which was summarily dismissed by subsequent commenters, unfairly IMO:

"Perhaps a starting point would be the expert panel report:

BTW, the expert panel seems to think that crude is more toxic than the dispersant rather than the commonly reported (and erroneous) other way around."

I'm a published biologist (40 years in the business of generating new knowledge) with passable knowledge of toxicology (was a governor-appointed environmental regulator for 8 years). I wasn't going to comment on dispersants, because it's not my specialty and because toxicology is super complicated, both to address all the literature and to explain to non-scientists. Instead, I've just been sampling the original literature in background to get a sense of what's known. But in the second link above, we have an extraordinary chance to see the current view of the assembled experts on the wisdom of using dispersants on the BP DW oil spill, efficiently presented in one place. Their summary confirms what I've been reading.

P. 5 says: "It is the consensus of this group that up to this point, use of dispersants and the effects of dispersing oil into the water column has generally been less environmentally harmful than allowing the oil to migrate on the surface into the sensitive wetlands and near shore coastal habitats."

I read an article that I can't seem to find now where the reported had spoken to several wildlife protection groups who felt the dispersant was the lesser evil. The general consensus seemed to be that they thought that the deeper water animals would better survive and rebound than the larger animals especially the mammals.
I gave that some serious thought and it made sense especially after seeing photos of the dead sea turtles and dolphins. They are air breathers and have to go up into the slick, that can't be good.

Okay so I found an article, this isn't the one I read, but it's the main gist.

""Speaker" posted an important comment on the dispersant question, which was summarily dismissed by subsequent commenters, unfairly IMO"

I agree, and i apologize for my dismissive comment. I mis-read/mis-judged something that was said.

Thank you for this information.

The study group is certainly the best path for determining the lessor of the evils. Interestingly, recommendations and interim conclusions appear only in reference to surface application, the " better to have the oil at 10 meters below or on the surface" question. The big question of undersea dispersant application at 5,000 ft BMSL has yet to be addressed. Or did I miss something?

To the extent I understand this, you are right. It does not appear that research on that question exists.

"BTW, the expert panel seems to think that crude is more toxic than the dispersant rather than the commonly reported (and erroneous) other way around.

"I'm a published biologist (40 years in the business of generating new knowledge) with passable knowledge of toxicology..."

In attempting to develop a foundation for understanding the dispersant question, one of the sources I've come upon is the one abstracted below. I note that it does not appear in the bibliography of the "Dispersant Use Meeting Report."

I posted this to an earlier thread, but I'd like to take advantage of your expertise to try again: Could you comment on its possible relevance to this issue?


Dispersed crude oil appears to enhance the accumulation of toxic crude (naphthalene-type) metabolites at a rate 15 times higher than non-dispersed crude oil.

Abstract Title:

EROD induction and biliary metabolite excretion following exposure to the water accommodated fraction of crude oil and to chemically dispersed crude oil.

Article Link:

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2000 Jan ;38(1):70-7.

Article Source:


Abstract Author(s):

D A Holdway, M M Gagnon

Article Affiliation:

Department of Applied Biology and Biotechnology, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, City Campus, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia.


Immature Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) were exposed to water accommodated fraction (WAF) of Bass Strait crude oil or to Corexit 9527-dispersed crude oil for 6 days, followed by a depuration period of 29 days. Serum sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH) levels, indicator of liver damages, remained low during the experiment. Hepatic EROD activity was induced within 2 days following the onset of the exposure in both treatments, and persisted for 2-4 and 4-6 days after transfer to clean sea water in the WAF and dispersed oil treatment, respectively. Naphthalene-type metabolites, determined by fixed-wavelength fluorescence detection, appeared in the bile of the fish with 2 days' delay compared to EROD induction. In both treatments, EROD activity induction and levels of naphthalene-type metabolites in the bile were significantly related. The biliary levels of naphthalene-type metabolites were over 15 times higher in fish exposed to dispersed crude oil relative to fish exposed to the WAF of Bass Strait crude oil. BaP-type metabolites appeared only in the bile of the fish exposed to the WAF, possibly due to BaP-type compounds remaining associated with the dispersant in the water column or to an inhibition of Phase II detoxification enzymes by the dispersant. Bile metabolites as determined by fixed-wavelength fluorescence and EROD induction appear to be sensitive and complementary biomarkers of exposure to PAH.

Pardon me. The abstract doesn't mention the dilution. Could you abstract that information and compare it with the dilutions expected in the Gulf.

Also, is the DWH oil significantly different in chemical composition from Bass Strait oil?

I could, I suppose.

Would you, first, tell me the "dilutions expected in the Gulf?"

I noted (I'll get to the dilutions) this in a review of the article above:

Laboratory studies have shown induction of cytochrome P450 systems occurs after exposure of fish to crude oil in water, sediment or food. Most of the PAH found in crude oil (dominantly 2- and 3-ring PAH) are not strong inducers of cytochrome P450. Exposure to the 4-ring chrysenes or the photooxidized products of the PAH may account for the cytochrome P450 responses in fish collected from oil-spill sites. The contribution of non-spill background PAH, particularly combustion-derived (pyrogenic) PAH, to bile FAC and cytochrome P450 system responses can be confounding and needs to be considered when evaluating oil spill effects.

Which seems to say that if they're burning off oil, the toxic residues from that may be worse than the dispersant.

About the dilutions: There was a post about the oceanographic ship from USF marine sciences, leading to a blog from the ship which got into parts per billion of dispersant tens of miles from the wellhead.

If you will dig up the ppm, I'll go back and see if we're talking the same order of magnitude.

I'm just leery of the precautionary principle here.

"Which seems to say that if they're burning off oil, the toxic residues from that may be worse than the dispersant."

That could easily be the case. I'm just soliciting input from folks with better understanding of the toxicology than I can hope to develop myself in a short time.

I've looked at some of the data from both the USF and UGA expeditions, and it seems to me that there is still something less than clarity on the concentrations. My initial impression was that people are rushing and reference units are inconsistent. I'll follow up.

I'll also track down the dilutions in the Holdway study I referenced, just as soon as I find the full text in the mess on my monitors and bookmarks. Right now, I'm sorting through several dozen possibly-relevant abstracts to see which ones might deserve attention from the experts here.

Second, I don't have enough specialized knowledge of physiological mechanisms by which fish acquire and metabolize these particular toxins to interpret this, would have to consult with toxicologists. Second, IIRC Corexit 9527 was used initially in the BP spill but then abandoned in favor of Corexit 9500. The TOD threads around 21-23-May addressed this in some detail but I haven't taken the time now to reread, confirm a timeline, etc.

Past my bedtime, gotta go.

"Second, IIRC Corexit 9527 was used initially in the BP spill but then abandoned in favor of Corexit 9500."

Yes, I believe that's right. However, there are other, later studies that included Corexit 9500 and which appear, at first glance, to have produced similar findings (e.g., "Oil dispersant increases PAH uptake by fish exposed to crude oil," Ramachandran et al., Ecotoxicology & Environmental Safety, 11/2004).

I''ll post links to some of these, once I've sorted them out more.

"The TOD threads around 21-23-May addressed this in some detail..."

Yes, thank you. I read those threads and have reviewed them albeit not exhaustively. The questions raised, and others, seem to me to still be open.

Here are a few links to other abstracts of studies that appear to suggest that exposure to "chemically dispersed crude" (as distinguished from plain old WAF or pure dispersant) may be detrimental to various aquatic organisms (I think I've eliminated studies focusing on Corexit 9527 from this part of the list):

1. "Acute effects of chemically dispersed crude oil on gill ion regulation, plasma ion levels and haematological parameters in tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum)."

2. "Biochemical changes in rockfish, Sebastes schlegeli, exposed to dispersed crude oil."

3. "Preliminary investigation of the effects of dispersed Prudhoe Bay Crude Oil on developing topsmelt embryos, Atherinops affinis."

4. "Influence of salinity and fish species on PAH uptake from dispersed crude oil."

5. "Effect of dispersant on the composition of the water-accommodated fraction of crude oil and its toxicity to larval marine fish."

6. "Oil dispersant increases PAH uptake by fish exposed to crude oil."

7. "Metabolic responses of fish following exposure to two different oil spill remediation techniques."

8. "Influence of Dispersants on the Bioavailability of Naphthalene from the Water-Accommodated Fraction Crude Oil to the Golden-Brown Algae, Isochrysis galbana"

This study compared acute toxicity of Corexit 9500, 9527 and 9554:

"Comparison of acute aquatic effects of the oil dispersant Corexit 9500 with those of other Corexit series dispersants."

This one examined the effects of surfactant mixtures on bacterial metabolism (interesting despite the 9527 focus):

"Effects of Surfactant Mixtures, Including Corexit 9527, on Bacterial Oxidation of Acetate and Alkanes in Crude Oil"
Full text:

Not surprisingly, none of the studies I found contemplate the conditions surrounding the direct injection of dispersants into the flow of a 5,000 ft bsl gusher.

N.B. Admission of obvious bias: The structure of my search almost certainly increased the likelihood of retrieving studies showing the results I expected/suspected. I won't be a bit surprised to find that there are as many or more studies out there convincingly refuting these.

I'm not making any claims or assertions here, simply suggesting that we might be wise (or might have been wiser) to consider these questions carefully. It certainly isn't clear to me that DW application of dispersants is an obviously better choice than not applying them at depth.

I have no real expertise in the field of toxicology but I will try to explain the case for using the dispersant in non technical language for the benefit of those with even less expertise.This is not to say the case for dispersant use actually is sound,although in my own poorly informed opinion it is justified.

In the shoreline environment a heavy accumulation of oil will kill virtually everything, and it will take a very long while for things to return to normal if they ever do.Furthermore some little noticed (by laymen) but extremely important things occur in the wetlands,;for instance this is where lots of species breed and live as small fry before moving out into deeper water,etc.

The total number of square miles of wetlands may be only a very small fraction of the number of square miles of the gulf itself, but the wetlands are arguably the most critical part of the entire gulf ecosystem;to the extent the wetlands are lost, so is the gulf.Put another way, protecting the open waters at the cost of losing the wetlands is a bad bargain, perhaps a very bad bargain.Losing the wetlands and saving the rest of the gulf might be some what like saving the shell of a house with a burned out interior;the house is functionally worthless until the damage is repaired.

On the other hand, since the gulf is so large, it is reasonable to assume that a breeding size population of nearly all or all the species present will survive, so long as there is some large portion of the gulf that remains oil free.

Furthermore it seems likely that if the dispersants work as they are supposed to, nearly all the dispersed oil would be consumed by the bacteria and other microbes over a relatively few months of time;of course this may not be true, especially as the spill is so extraordinarily large.

Now it may or may not be true that the attempts made so far to close of the well had no chance of succeeding, and that the folks who made the decision to use the dispersants were misinformed about the size of the spill at the time the decision was made. I have no way of knowing in either case.It may be that the decision to use the dispersants was made cynically by tptb simply in order to avoid the public outrage and loss of business which results from oily beaches.

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that the decision to use the dispersants was honestly and correctly made.

It is a first principle of toxicology that the dose makes the poison.A little salt is good for us and actually essential for us to live;a little more leads to an in creased incidence of circulatory diseases.A large amount ingested over a short period is an outright poison and will kill a person as surely as any other poison.

It is pleasant and beneficial, or at least NOT HARMFUL, to warm yourself near a fire on a cold day, but it putting your hands in the fire is not very smart-even though the same amount of heat energy passes into your body.

The bottom line is the wetlands are critical to the gulf, but that the OPEN WATER GULF AS A WHOLE is not critical to the wetlands;and that the open waters will generally recover from the oil and dispersants faster and with less lasting harm than they would from the wetlands being indundated with crude even if the open waters remain mostly free of spilled oil.

"The bottom line is the wetlands are critical to the gulf, but that the OPEN WATER GULF AS A WHOLE is not critical to the wetlands;and that the open waters will generally recover from the oil and dispersants faster and with less lasting harm than they would from the wetlands being inundated with crude even if the open waters remain mostly free of spilled oil."

No disrespect intended, but the tendency of your argument is to draw a false dichotomy (at least one, IMHO).

It's not a simple question of using or not using dispersants. It's not a matter of sacrificing the marshes for the deepwater or vice versa. The choices are multiple, interconnected and complex.

You may be right that applying dispersants at the surface, to oil near the shore, is a better choice than allowing the marshes to be inundated by untreated oil. But that doesn't mean that dispersants are our only option, certainly not in the longer term and perhaps not even immediately. You could hardly argue that the best possible job of skimming and booming is being done.

Further, it's not at all clear that applying dispersant at the BOP has much, if any, effect on the amount of oil reaching those marshes. And it's at least possible that dispersant-treated oil that does reach the wetlands could be more harmful to organisms there than untreated WAF (see some of the links I've posted).


Your argument, from where I stand, is as good as mine, or maybe better;while my own seat of the pants estimate of the trade offs comes out in favor of dispersants,I made it clear that I don't actually know enough, either in principle or in fact ,to say either way.

My intent was simply to lay out the case FOR using dispersants as so many anti dispersant comments are being made that the positive side of the question is being drowned out by the noise.

Now the fact that the dispersants have not kept the oil off the beaches is a seperate one, and hindsight is always twenty twenty.

I think (opinion!) they would have worked more or less as intended if the spill were not so large;and we have no way of knowing HOW MUCH WORSE the shoreline situation would be, because we don't know how big the leak is.

We shouldn't forget that these dispersants are approved by the regulatory authotities that be,and that the pros and cons of using them were presumably thrashed out to the extent posssible during that process,with input from biologists .

A common error is to claim or assume that because a solution is not decisively and obviously successful in solving a problem, it is worthless.This is patently untrue;if you lose your job, giving up the high dollar booze and luxury car may not be enough to solve your money problems, but doing so will certainly contribute in a positive way to staying solvent.

One often repeated example:lots of folks argue that the allied bombinhg campaign did not contribute to winning WWII;they are repeating the opinions of generals and admirals who didn't believe in airplanes as offensive weapons before the war.No amount of evidence will ever convince them otherwise,as they just keep on saying "but Germany kept increasing her production"...

The bombs took out a lot of manufacturing plants, killed a lot of skilled workers, severely disrupted transportation, diverted lots of men and materials to antiaircraft duties,destroyed lots of useful infrastructure other than war materials manufacturing facilities,rendered civilians homeless by the tens of thousands, kept huge numbers of men and machines busy making repairs, and forced the German air force to divert a huge part of its available aircraft and personell to defensive roles.

The real question is HOW MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE the German war machine would have been had it not been bleeding from a thousand bombing cuts.People who believe in airplanes make a very strong case for "much , much more effective"-perhaps even enough more to have repelled the Allied invasion of Europe, or to have delayed it long enough to make it impossible .

Thanks for bringing this topic up again after we had all cooled off, NRD. Sorry for my part in the spitting match; I'm pretty upset with the Ministry of Truth in general, and used to think that NOAA was an organization with deep integrity. Since my husband is a career civil servant of 30 some years with Dept. of Interior, comments about my having an anti-govt. axe to grind really set me off. But Orwell saw it all coming. Several hundred years of increasingly surplus energy in a system creates a lot of complexity. Start closing down the tap, and this is what you get.

As an interested observer, I have watched reductionist group thinking in scientific panels take them far down the wrong roads way too many times in previous decades. The group thinking is least helpful with complex problems not reducible to a two-variable study, since very few scientists are generalists trained in non-reductionist methods. Throw massive quantities of two toxic substances in a stressed, anoxic, overly acidic environment, and I can guarantee you that those scientists do not have a grip on what is happening and what is preferable. I have some faith in nature, and the ability of wind, waves, heat, and sun to take care of the oil, although the massive volumes will probably overwhelm the system. I suspect, without proof, that adding toxic dispersants to the mix has not helped. First, do no harm. And as a long-time healthcare professional, I have learned that almost no-one has a grip on the effects of polypharmacy. I know that for some toxics, there is no safe minimum dosage. I also know that most research is biased, it is often paid for, and bad outcomes usually take about 10 years to surface in populations, long after primary and secondary research/testing has been done. Bad outcomes such as reproductive, mutagenic, neurotoxic, and genotoxic hazards. I also know that the small fry/larvae are the most vulnerable, and that dispersing may exacerbate these effects. But the biggest reason to skip using dispersants is that with the volumes of oil being expelled, the oil is going to go everywhere, no matter what we do. The link below, from Jeff Master's blog, gives an excellent display of what we're in for. It's going to go over the booms, under the booms, where the booms aren't. It's not a matter of either/or if we use dispersants. Dispersants won't make a difference in the long run, except to add or multiply toxicity for sealife. And if TPTB had any commonsense, they would have realized that from day one. If it had come to the surface, maybe we could vacuum it off, although that then begs the question, where do you put the byproducts? Maybe we could burn it off; then you'd just have toxic smoke and carbon to worry about. Is it better in the deep water or on the beaches, where the sun and heat and waves can biodegrade it much quicker? If we let it come ashore in one place instead of dispersing all the way to England, might that be better? (just trash one region instead of five?) All of that sand we're bagging; do we ship it all to Alberta, and suggest to the Canucks that they might get better net energy out of BP's trash bags than their oil sands?

And I've still got a nagging suspicion that someone is profiting from the dispersant use--I'd like to know what the connections are. The EPA has certainly lost all of its teeth--it cannot even dictate rules and laws to a foreign company. The thing that really struck me about that Taibbi Rolling Stone article was this comment:

"Employees describe being in Interior – not just MMS, but the other agencies – as the third Bush term," says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which represents federal whistle-blowers. "They're working for the same managers who are implementing the same policies. Why would you expect a different result?

This one bothers me the most, because there is a certain validity to this. For the most part, the players have not changed under Obama. Unlike previous changes in regime, those in charge stayed there. Perhaps as another side effect of overly complex systems; those in charge under Bush have no place to be side-lined unless they retire. And the issue is not politics. It has nothing to do with who's in charge, because at this point, the system is calling the shots. Overshoot is here, and massive catastrophic failures are going to happen. The issue is a complex system with a crowded policy arena with entrenched vested interests. The haves get more and more, the have nots get more and more disenfranchised, until the system kicks over into collapse. Having sociopathic corporations with no sense of moral responsibility in charge, with all the power and very few limiting regulations does not help. The libertarians screaming for less government need to be careful what they are asking for, because something will fill the void, and it won't be pretty.

Thanks for letting me get all of this off of my chest. I do not post often, but I am very sad and disturbed by all of this, and I need to talk. It's a sad day when the real truthtellers for our country consist of a journalist publishing in a music journal and a comedian on the Comedy Network. Click on the link below to see what's in our future.

Figure 3. Paths of 194 floating probes released into the yellow-outlined area in the northeast Gulf of Mexico between February 1996 and February 1997 as part of a study by the Mineral Management Service (MMS). The probes were all launched into waters with depth between 20 and 60 meters. Image credit: Yang, H., R.H. Weisberga, P.P. Niilerb, W. Sturgesc, and W. Johnson, 1999, Lagrangian circulation and forbidden zone on the West Florida Shelf, Continental Shelf Research Volume 19, Issue 9, July 1999, Pages 1221-1245 doi:10.1016/S0278-4343(99)00021-7

Iaato: I appreciate your heartfelt and eloquent contribution. I also identify with the frustration and anger you express. Most days, it's a lot easier, and seems more rational, to feel despair rather than optimism. Not every day, yet, anyway.

Thanks, also for the link to the figure. That's pretty eloquent, too.

Check it out, folks.

Iaato: "the system is calling the shots." Insightful and true, in more areas than deepwater oil production in the GOM, I think. Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

What do you think they might do with the new found ability to remove huge riser bolts with the ROV's? Anything?

Perhaps bolt something on top to collect oil that doesn't LEAK so bad?

Perhaps bolt on some sort of a diverter valve so they can at least control where the flow of oil goes, even if they do not dare to shut it in?

My uninformed guess is that they are preparing for stage 3 of the top cap operation, and setting up to install the overshot tool.


I think the White House read Dimitry-inspired subthreads, and his letter, and they said to the DW offshore industry, "Hey dudes, if you can't remove these bolts, maybe you've got no business being down there ever again."

I doubt it!

I have to give them credit for quickly ginning up some really strong looking hydraulic wrenches, with purpose built braces specific to the riser geometry. It seems at least one of the machine worked.

Their collection system (4th) now seems much more well thought out and flexible.

I hope their "overshoot tool" is going to be coupled well to the BOP, with a controlled large range valve, instead of the flapping seal for flow control.

Again, a system liked that should have been developed many years ago, tested, qualified and put on the shelf. Every DW operation should have had to show they have access to this equipment on very short notice before getting the drilling permit.

It is really not that much to ask.

I missed the live action. Can you describe what they did differently?

I have many hours invested in the earlier attempt... would like resolution --- Thanks

Explanation and/or informed speculation on that sensor Boa 2 was just employing, watched by Enterprise 2? Yellow rectangular instrument?

Vibration detector? X-Ray? Chemicals?


At the bottom of the ROV screen it said "Inclinometer Readings".

Any speculation as to why the plume on Skandi ROV 1 is so turbulent?

Broken seal on one side - you can see the flaps (look green on Skandi's weird camera)

Speculation? I am qualified for that.

Take a one inch hose running at a good rate and hold a 5/8" a hose female end up to it and try to connect. Also, I observe the dispersant nozzle and dispersant reactions seem to add to the turbulence.

Disclaimer: Attaching various size garden water hoses at surface air pressure is the limit of my expertise.

perks: I think I got it...

It is probably a clinometer. They have been checking the riser and the bottom of the flex joint several times a day for the last couple of days.... They must be worried about tilting of the BOP.


Why don't they put "plumb line" or "carpenter's level" on the monitor instead?


There is a spirit level on the side of the riser just above the flex joint, It was reading full scale tilt to one side (5 degrees)
weeks ago but it eventually became so clouded over by oil and dirt that it became unreadable.

Judging by a shot I saw of the seafloor and BOP, I'd say 10 degrees.


Oh, I don't like the sound of that. The BOP's tilt is possibly increasing?

Great information, dialog. Thanks.

Duct tape is great stuff. It works in space, under water, and it even works on furnace ducts...

We always kept several rolls of it onhand when I was working wells in college. It is realy handy for rigging stuff up.

In a previous life I've even seen it used on rocket payloads.

Re: comments about BP paying damages
Question is not just whether they will pay eventually, question is delays in payment process by BP. I am very glad to see the pressure that government has put on BP to pay quicker, it is working. There is no excuse for the bureaucratic delays which BP was imposing on good faith claims damages.


Adm. Thad W. Allen, the Coast Guard’s commander in charge of the federal response to the spill, pressed BP executives on Wednesday to be more transparent in its claims processing and to provide a more comprehensive plan on spill control.

Federal officials told BP about their “concern about the length of time it is taking to pay businesses,” and the company agreed to not wait for previous monthly losses to be tallied before making payments, Tracy Wareing, of the Department of Homeland Security, said at a news conference Thursday in Washington.

“BP recognized that its previous approach of waiting until after the books have closed for each month to calculate losses will not work,” Ms. Wareing said. “It won’t get dollars out quickly enough to the businesses that are struggling on the ground.”

At a hearing for a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mayor David Camardelle of Grand Isle, La., described the dire straits of people in his community who are waiting for payments from BP to make up for financial losses from the spill.

“I have 37 applications right now that’s standing by at the community center,” Mr. Camardelle said, all of which are “still waiting on a $5,000 check.”

He added: “You got a deckhand on the boat that gets $2,500, maybe. And the owner of the boat there, there’s a boatload of $5,200, that’s still waiting for a $5,000 check. You got a marina that’s waiting on a check, their electricity bill — right now, the water bill and the gas bill is $5,800 at my City Hall, and I’m not going to cut the gas off.”

Mr. Obama met on Thursday afternoon for nearly an hour with the families of the workers in the East Room of the White House, offering his condolences and listening to their request for more compensation.

“It is technically not his job as president to console families of men who died off shore,” said Keith Jones, a Baton Rouge lawyer whose 28-year-old son, Gordon, a mud engineer, died in the explosion. “But he made it his business and we’re grateful for it.”

The sub operator s using a cloth to wipe off the top of the wellhead near the seal between the wellhead and the BOP. Is he checking for leaks ? He also opened a valve at the bottom of the wellhead and a cloud of mud(?) came out.

He is reading the inclinometer. It is reading max at one side. I take that to be >5 degrees.

They just cleaned off the inclinometer that is attached to the riser just aboxe the flex joint and it is reading 2.5 degrees. It has improved. It was full scale to one side before they cut the riser off.

I was thinking, instead of using what looks like a ratty old pair of underwear to wipe off the inclinometers, why not clamp on some digital inclinometers, and do away with all the wiping, rover time, and manual monitoring involved in measuring what appears to be something of great interest lately. A set of MEMS-based inclinometers with underwater wireless modems could constantly monitor tilt at the well head, above the flex-joint, etc. Don't they use a similar setup for monitoring BOP pressures at various places, or are they wiping some analog pressure gauges that we can't see?

do you happen to have a source for said inclinometer/modem package pressure tested to 5000ft? If not it will take some time to fabricate plus time to develop a mount that can be attached by an ROV.


use a less perfect solution on hand to get the job done

Will there be a deadpool on the figure of the combined production from the blowout after the overshot tool (replacing the current LMRP cap) and the q4000 take from the choke/kill lines are fully operational?

Just wondering ...

is any agency auditing the amount of oil recovered by BP in this current 'recovery' exercise?

We have BP's word that 15,000 bbls/day are being removed from the blowout stream. What is the real number topside? Does anyone know but BP?

Just thinking here, but if they wanted to lie about the amount, they would more likely pick a lowball amount that would not invalidate their previous estimates of the leakage?

steve -- Believe it or not crude oil has a title just like a car or piece of real estate. The crude buyer, typically the refinery, actually has the legal requiremnt to verify ownership. This is a legal document (the division order) which documents the ownership and exact amout of oil involved in the transaction. Not sure about OCS oil but all other crude purchases require the buyer to deliver the royalty directly to the lessor. Crude buyers are subject to huge financial penalties if they don't get this paper work correct. No refiner is going to play footsie with BP IMHO.

Rock. Now that 40.000 B are confirmed. Is this considered a Blow out not just a leak. A Blowout Like in the movie Armageddon. Answer this and I'll by you some Blue bell.

pocampo -- Never thought about the distinction between "blow out" and "leak". In the oil patch a blow out is the uncontrolled flow of oil/NG/water from a well. A leak is that oil spot on my driveway. Perhaps we should just call it a blow out that's leaking a heck of a lot of oil.


I've been wondering about the accuracy of recovered volume too.....

They pump the oil through meters. We are told it's a third party verification.

Where would they put any extra? We can easily look up ship capacities, and it's not that hard to keep up with ships of any significant size coming and going. Any significant deviation will be obvious when there are too many or too few tankers entering and leaving the site.

250 ft above seafloor, looking down at black billows

"Strangers in the plume, exchanging glances
wandering in the goo, what were the chances
we could lose the well before the night is through?


The ROV must have moved away

I saw something yesterday around 4 pm and took a screen shot.

Hopefully the link to the pic works:

avonaltendorf: I REALLY need to see what the oil coming up looks like at that height, but can't make your video play anything but a black screen. Sorry for my shortcomings, there, but - can you help? - maybe a vidcap? It's important to see how quickly it begins to spread & disperse. Thanks!

Ocean Intervention III ROV 1

Ocean Intervention III ROV 2

Comfy, you know darn fine that we're not talking about bright lights big city top hat and tails.

No, actually, I don't. I was watching and taking screen caps from the same thing you were watching, and those were, at a short glance (I have thousands of pics) the ones that most clearly showed what you described. You, on the other hand, were again linking to a live feed assuming everyone would see the same thing you did even though they might find your link HOURS later, and then tut-tutting as if you provided unassailable proof of whatever harebrained conspiracy you think is afoot down there.

I really don't get it. When you talk about stuff you know, you're pretty sharp. When it comes to tiny pictures of blackness, you see all kinds of crazy stuff. What's the deal?

The deal is seafloor integrity.

It is now 7 hours of continous monitoring by the Akers ROV linked below, showing black billows and hydrate storm.

IMO too much discussion about capping the riser leak, BP's balance sheet, fixing the MMS. No one except me alarmed by a subsurface blowout. Let's suppose they succeed in intersecting the bottom of this well and start to pump heavy mud. We already know the top of the reservoir was fractured with 14.5ppg which caused lost circulation, BP's improvised tapered liner, and a failed cement program in the rush to plug and abandon. Since then the wellbore has continued to erode, the seafloor is obviously bubbling and venting despite your denial, and BP is constantly measuring the tilt of wellhead and BOP.

Okay, it's been a week since I put my hand up. Nuff said.

I'm really trying to figure this out, honestly. You think you see something I can't see. You claim there's a ROV monitoring a massive seafloor rupture that is belching oil; if so, that's important. If not, you may be a crazy person. I need to know which it is. Here's a few snaps from your favorite ROV, doing what I think it is that gets you so excited. (964 x 1206 composite of 15 screen captures)

Which, if any, of the frames in there show the seafloor plume? It's not a trick, the images are absolutely unaltered. Which ones?

Of course, there's always the possibility I've been hoodwinked by Poe's Law...

try again, adjust video gain up, contrast down

It was quite the gathering earlier ..three ROVs watching the plume and two ROVs monitoring the watchers. Shortly after, one of the watchers drew back and was replaced by a monitor.

Relief wells and damaged casing

What happens when they start pumping from the RW and the compromised casing of the wild well can't hold the mud weight required to kill it? If the mud column is lost before it can build a sufficient column? They know the mud weight required to balance the well before the blowout, does anybody know enough about the current state of the casing to know what it will be able to handle?

The relief well is likely to inject mud at, or near the bottom of the runaway well. If they start losing mud to a formation that is uphole they can do things like add chopped celophane or chopped walnut husks to the mud in order to plug up the porosity. It's not an uncommon problem and there are lots of solutions for it.

Curious, at what cost to mud weight — which appears to be a very significant factor in the RW plan.

It won't affect mud weight appreciably. I'd wager that they will likely add something to the mud to control porosity "just in case" since they will have to start pumping more mud in as soon as they drill into the runaway well and may not get a second chance to change their mind on the mixture of their mud.

Ok, thank you for the information. I had no idea about the range of simple creative ingredients of mud recipes to solve big problems.

On the funny side, I once met a fellow who used shredded money from the US mint to plug up vuggy porosity in a low budget oil well that he was drilling using a little service drill mounted on the back of his pickup truck.

He brought in the well (with no blowout) and ended up producing 2000 b/d if my memory serves me correctly.

This fellow literally pumped money down a hole.

I've been cogitating about your question for a few days now. If you assume the well is broached at a casing shoe somewhere above the pay zone or there is a severe loss returns zone present, it will be a very difficult kill with the RW 1. Without the ability to bullhead downhole from the top makes it even more complex. It would not surprise me to see a dual pumping shedule with RW1 pumping from bottom and RW2 having a revised intersect point midway or somewhere up hole above any broach or LR zone.

A post on the previous thread mentioned John Wright as the Guru of the RW planning. Is that for sure? Anyone know him? I've looked at his website but I have not met him during my career so I don't have a point of reference for his capability.

ExDM - the claim during Top Kill was that they stopped the flow, however fleeting in duration. Why couldn't they do a version of top kill again?

There has been speculation that the pressures created on the pipe during the Top Kill method may have damaged the pipe itself. Some are worried that the pipe has cracked underground and that oil will soon or may already be leeching through the seabed. I have not seen any verifiable proof of this anywhere though. Sorry for the non-technical explanation.

Thanks, that's at least a little consolation. Let's hope the only significant casing problems are up near the top, as have been mentioned around 1000' (below mudline). Still I can't help but feel queasy knowing there's a certain amount of a certain weight mud required to kill it, and nobody knows (or if they do, nobody's telling us) if the well will be able to hold it in its current state. Those lines on a graph have to cross somewhere, and the data for one of 'em is more or less a mystery.

(emotional rant: Perdido Pass is closed? Nobody could figure out how to keep the shit out of Perdido Pass? There's oil in Terry Cove, my adopted but estranged home? I used to catch and eat shrimp in Terry Cove. By age 15 I knew how to safely take a 40'+ boat out thru Perdido Pass, before the new bridge was built - when the tide was running, it always made me think of landing on an aircraft carrier with a crosswind. They couldn't even keep it out of THERE?)

On the previous thread I asked why an absorbent demonstrated to clearly work had been ignored by BP (according to reports on CNN). Here are responses:

[new] ExDrllgMgr on June 10, 2010 - 11:06am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

not to be confrontational, have you given any thought to how all these magic silver bullets will be transported to specific sites on the water, how it will be collected after absorbing the oil, how it will be stored onboard and then transported back to shore, how it will be disposed of, all in compliance with EPA and a half dozen other federal agencies? Granted, there are ways to collect oil on water, on a minor scale, with oil on water in an ice chest, but not practical in a real world situation. IMHO.

It doesn't matter if there are quantities enough to do the entire job. Whatever quantities are available (however large or small) should be brought to the cleanup areas. Or at least tried.

It really doesn't matter if it only works on a 'minor scale" or "real world". It should be tried by BP, if for no other reason than improving their so far disasterous public relations. ($50m for publicity.) "We are trying everything we can." If it doesn't work then "We tried this." I'll bet the people of Grand Isle or Plaquemines (?) parish would be willing to try it.

[new] nwaelder on June 10, 2010 - 6:07pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

I'm pretty sure that Zamboni is hankering to field test the GLFURL 3000. They're American right? More fodder for the book.

Yes, and if so, the Zamboni should be tried. Again "We are trying EVERYTHING we can to limit the damage we have caused." is a lot more effective PR than "We're sorry."

[new] Bendal on June 10, 2010 - 12:10pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
ABCNews showed this stuff being spread around last night as well. It did look like it worked to solidify the oil and make it easy to scoop off the surface, but they also said it was very expensive and would cost billions to cover the entire oil slick.

It might be useful in limited, high threat areas but the entire Gulf? No way. As ABC pointed out last night, the reason why skimmers and other old techniques are still being used is because they are effective and work.

If useful in limited situations, shouldn't it used/tried in those situations, say on oil that has escaped the booms and is imminently threatening marshlands?

As for current methods being "effective" and "working", I'm sure a lot of people in Grand Isle and elsewhere would not quite agree. Not to mention the pelicans we see on tv every newscast.

Again, if nothing else spending a few 100k (or even a million) on stuff like this (whether it works or not) will be a heckava lot more effective PR than the $50m being spent on Tony saying "We're sorry."

Someone should take a poll and ask what percentage of Americans want to just reach into their tv sets and grab him by the throat every time he says that.

One last thought, it's not as if it's a zero sum game and these methods would displace anything else currently being used. Trying the "magic silver bullets" isn't going to take away from something else. If a truckload of absorbent were brought to any number of fishing towns in LA, there would be dozens/hundreds of small boats lining up to volunteer to distribute/ collect it.

Right now, 9:40 PT, they are using a fan to clear the oil. You get good images of the cap.

Now, 10:32 PT Live feed from Ocean Intervention III : ROV 2 is positioning the fan.
Live feed from Ocean Intervention III : ROV 1, is watching.
What are they trying to do?

==sonofsamphm1c on June 10, 2010 - 10:55pm
I think the White House read Dimitry-inspired subthreads, and his letter, and they said to the DW offshore industry, "Hey dudes, if you can't remove these bolts, maybe you've got no business being down there ever again."==

Reply couldn't be posted up above, so:

I doubt it!

I have to give them credit for quickly ginning up some really strong looking hydraulic wrenches, with purpose built braces specific to the riser geometry. It seems at least one of the machine worked.

Their collection system (4th) now seems much more well thought out and flexible.

I hope their "overshoot tool" is going to be coupled well to the BOP, with a controlled large range valve, instead of the flapping seal for flow control.

Again, a system liked that should have been developed many years ago, tested, qualified and put on the shelf. Every DW operation should have had to show they have access to this equipment on very short notice before getting the drilling permit.

It is really not that much to ask.

All this afterthought is simply splendid, but a remote disconnect from the riser would have saved launching a thousand ships.

If you want an innovation worth the persuit; just imagine the diffenrence which would exist if that marine riser could have been decoupled at anytime during which the Deepwater Horizon was burning (36 hours).

There would be a 21" pipe floating near the surface, belching 1/2 the oil in a very confined space.


I'm looking at those drawings for the new manifold, hurricane-resistant set up.

Based on those drawings, I'm afraid something bad will happen. (Too much pressure on the gusher)

I hope to God that they are planning to put vents in this newest proposed set up. (I'm a technical know nothing and have trouble following technical info, so if this has been discussed previously forgive me)

However, my hopes aren't very high for a company which attempted to address the walruses in the GOM

Edit link -walruses:

My hopes faded for any semblance of wit from these guys when they announced that the vent ports of the LMRP Cap were left open because they had failed to bring a collection vessel to off load the crude oil the LMRP Cap had gleaned.

Forget the part where the riser flange has 4 giant leaky bolt holes in it, permeating their precious crude with lots of salt water. Can you say Methane Clathrate V_2?

These are some seriously challenged people.

What am I saying? President Obama assures us they are the "best and the brightest".

We are in serious trouble...

I usually don't defend BP...

Flange doesn't have "leaky bolt holes". Those holes are for running additional piping through the flange system along with the riser. The flange has a continuous gasket and the interior riser volume is sealed.

They mitigate against water intrusion by an imperfect method of maintaining positive pressure inside the collection cap (that's another way of saying oil gushes out the bottom, which is at best semi-sealed and currently appears mostly unsealed).

Most of the oil we see is the 1/2 (or more) of the oil they currently can't collect. However, with the current cap, they have to lose oil all the time because of requirement to maintain positive pressure differential (no or minimal water intake)


If they attempted to suck all the oil/gas mixture, water would be drawn into the cap forming hydrates and (probably) blocking the the pipe.

Moreover, the open ports at the top reduce the force on the cap that is still bouncing around from time to time.

They have to have vents. Any system that couples to the well directly must have vents (or giant tanks, I guess) in order to make up for the fact they don't have a functional way to reduce to the flow to the topside, which they must be able to do at all times for a host of reasons.

The vent can reside atop their new "cap" or somewhere else.

They have to have vents. Any system that couples to the well directly must have vents (or giant tanks, I guess) in order to make up for the fact they don't have a functional way to reduce to the flow to the topside, which they must be able to do at all times for a host of reasons.

The vent can reside atop their new "cap" or somewhere else.

Dimitry: thanks, I'm talking about the new system that will be installed next week, where the Top Kill lines will be used to collect oil. (Not Top Hat, but Heading Out's post at the beginning of the thread. I don' see vents in BP's or NOLA's diagram) Although they "have to have vents", this is the same company that addressed the walruses in the GOM.

I've been watching Skandi ROV2 spraying a milky liquid into the escaping oil plume. It seems unlikely that this small volume is dispersant. Is it possible that they are tagging the plume to see where the oil is travelling to? (e.g. colloidal silica, or some such?)

Don't know for sure, but that tube and escaping plume look similar to earlier dispersant tubes and plumes. I believe there are two tubes in use - the second one would be out of sight on the other side.

It's chicken soup. Cures anything, y'know.

Can someone explain this...on the WKGR TV web page here:

it shows the number of gallons spilled more than doubled in approximately 10 hours on 6/10/10:
From some 53 million gals total at about Noon PDT... To some 118 million gals at 2200 hours PDT.

Can you explain this, difference(?), anomaly (?), error(?) --?? Inquiring minds would hope to know.
I e-mailed WKRG, but got no response.

It's probably 'cause the scientists just doubled the leak rate of this well. Sorry, probably not a mistake. More oil have apparently spilled out than anybody thought.

Thanks Dmitri.

Goodmorning (for me it is)

i like this site very much, for so many experts give their opinion about whats going on, and trying to put it down in figures, flow, velicity, estimattion of the oilspill, since the accident.

i live at the north sea beach. when there is a oilspill,
oil will be at the beaches within a few days.
yes the north sea is at the most 100 meters deep.

i'm trying to figure out how long it takes the plume from the riser reaches surface.

i dont know the speed of the oil/gas mixture travels to the surface, but i like to try.

lets say 100 feet per hour? that would mean that it takes 2 days for the oil to reach the surface.
lets say 3 days for the reason that the oil doesnt go up straight, there is a current.

i hope i make not a big mistake with this estimation.

now i like to confirm my thoughts with images of a satillite.

when i go to this site:

i should get confirmation of my idea: a noticable oilspot from the crashsite.

i watched all the daily pics.

lot of daypics are too clouded, so these data give a good view of the golf: april 26 and 29, may 10, 17, 23, 24, 28, june 9.

i hope an expert can explain to me where on this picures is the (i suppose) growing oilspot at seasurface.

i hope that this approach makes sense , for it is the results of events of the last 60 days

thank you for reading this

It VERY much depends upon the size of the oil droplet. A 10 micron droplet will never rise to the surface (and surfactants help create such droplets). Slighter larger ones can take days, weeks, and months. Larger ones within an hour.

Hope that helps,


Should say 108 million gals leaked, not 118 million gals. but it is still doubled. bb.

118,000,000 gallons = 15,775,000 cubic feet = 360 acre feet of oil.

At this rate, BP will eventually be the King of Pollution.

BP + Best Polluter?

BP = BIGGEST Polluter !


BP = BANKRUPT Polluter !

Well well well....(no pun intended)

As many as 40,000 barrels (1.7m gallons) of oil a day may have been gushing out from a blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, doubling many estimates.

The US Geological Survey says that flow rate could have been reached before a cap was put on the well on 3 June.

Unless I have missed a dark corner of TOD, the forum is very dynamic : information zooms past your eyes!

Is there a way of parking useful links at a single location on the site on a per theme basis?

For example, a Deepwater Horizon page could contain links to items such as:
- camera feeds
- technical diagrams
- Press Releases
- maps

Just a thought ..

Oh great. Now they are spraying it with BRAWNDO!

What is BRAWNDO?

Thanks for monitoring during the night....

Latest reports suggest flow rate might be 40,000 bpd

Latest up date from BP

Subsea operational update:
• For the first 12 hours on June 10th (midnight to noon), approximately 7,630 barrels of oil were collected and 15.3 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.
• On June 9th, a total of approximately 15,800 barrels of oil were collected and 31 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.
• The next update will be provided at 9:00am CDT on June 11, 2010.
Updated June 10 at 6:00pm CDT / 12.00am BST

Yes, just to confirm what Euan M was saying - lots of newspaper headlines here saying the flow is twice as large as previously thought. These are some of our more highly respected news sources:-

UK Guardian.


Channel 4.

the flow is 2x as much ??

i am trying to find the oil at the surface.

can you help me out?

can you give me a picture of the oilspill at the surface?

must be big and noticable.

It was The US Geological Survey who upped the figure, I guess they must have the evidence.

The size of the surface spill was the first indication that the flow was much greater than originally stated, it was and is rather big and noticeable.

Remember you have to add in the volume of the "invisible" plumes if you are judging flowrate by the volume of spillage.

The confusion here is because Dr Marcia McNutt is the director of the United States Geological Survey but she is also the leader of the Flow Rate Technical Group and it was in that capacity she was speaking. 40,000 is the top of a range and not a definite.

Not all of the oil is on the surface, some of it it is below it. Additionally some of the oil is being pushed below the surface by the chemical they are using to break it up.

i understand what you try to say, most of the oil is under the surface.

but its now already 60 days, 60.......

and the estimate is now 2x much oil spill as estimated.

man, al the beaches must be full of oil now, no doubt

but all the pictures i have seen: yes there is oil but
it isn't HUGE

"but all the pictures i have seen"

part of the issue may be that there is a concerted effort to limit/prevent access and pictures - see this CNN report -

You are right, it's all a sham. There is no oil leak. Sheesh.

Saying 2x as much is not very instructive since original estimate was 5000 bpd - that is 8* as much in my book.

Where is all the oil? Well much of it that reaches surface evaporates. And much of it below surface gets eaten by bacteria and other organisms.

I'm guessing / hoping that 40,000 bpd is too high. Having settled in my own mind that 17,000 bpd was likely ball park I'd feel inclined to up that to 20,000 to 30,000 bpd - BP still only gathering half.

30,000 bpd over 51 days equtes to 1.5 million barrels spilled so far. Exxon Valdez spilled 250,000 bbls - right on to the beach. So such comparison is not really very helpful.

My first time posting image on this site. (Forgive me if it doesn't work)

From last night- 11:39 CDT.

Two relief vents open at top of hat

39 pm

Somewhat off-topic from the engineering stories, but hopefully of some interest. Let me emphasise I'm only trying to report the media coverage in the UK, NOT to comment on the rights and wrongs. Mods please delete if too far O/T or troll-fodder :)

The treatment of Tony Hayward and BP in the US media, and the associated undercurrent of "damn Brits!" has been getting a lot of play in the UK media. E.g.:

Some of the right-wing press has been working the reciprocal angle, "Obama ratchets up the anti-British nationalist rhetoric" this week, the Telegraph (which is seen as a quality, broadsheet paper - the Conservative Party's house journal -- and not one of our famously dreadful tabloids) in particular. E.g.: ; .

They've been running this angle so heavily that the story's now a story in it's own right:

Of course many people are pointing out the obvious, "How would you feel if it was an American company's rig that blew out in the North Sea?" meanwhile, bubbling under in the "contentious BP spill meme" all-comers championship is the "If the Americans can't regulate their local industry, that's their problem" line.

Again -- /regardless/ of the rights and wrongs, I'm just saying that this stuff is being published, and it's setting the stage for the next part of what the stuff above layer 7, ie politics and business.

I haven't seen much anti-Brit rhetoric. The fact remains that their boy Tony has been an easy target. His ineptness has been remarkable, and he does head BRITISH petroleum. WTF do they expect?

I am British and i frankly don't care what people say about BP. A couple of British Conservative politicians are trying to rally people behind BP by using the "my country right or wrong" line. But let's face it BP's top brass deserve the stick and a good jail term on top of it. It's a bit like people who confused pilloring George Bush with hating Americans.

I would point out however that BP shares are roughly split 50/50 between US and UK ownership. So it really comes down to money, as always.

That's the is not BRITISH petroleum it is BP. It has not been BRITISH petroleum since it merged with Amoco. May as well call it BP Amoco as BRITISH Petroleum as they are equally innacurate. BP was 40% US owned before the incident, but I guess now the price has dived the Kuwaties are buying the bargain basement stock as quick as they can. Though I confess I have bought some too.


A slightly disturbing news story this morning regarding the Jones Act and its impact on allowing foreign vessels to help with the blow out. Carol Browner said the administration would consider suspending the JA if the Coast Guard made the request. Then the reporter played a video of Adm. Thad saying the Coast Guard would be glad to consider suspending the JA if the administration were to make the request. But no one has made the request so far. It was really that clear. Granted this is a huge complex event. Is it time for a Blow Out Czar?

Politician in charge delegates to a lawyer. Lawyer in charge = SNAFU. The problem with appointing a Blowout Czar is that it'll also be a political decision. It's high time for MMS to be functional, FEMA to be accountable, and the DOJ to kick ass. Why aren't they?

In the meantime I propose throwing high level bureaucrats, appointees and pols into the GoM from the deck of the Discover Enterprise. Those who drown can be ignored. Those who float should stand trial for misfeasance, malfeasance and larceny.