Deepwater Oil Spill - A Longer Term Problem, Personnel - and Open Thread

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The recent take-up of oil through the cap and the LMRP to the Drillship Enterprise was at a daily rate of 15,400 bd.

For the last 12 hours on June 11 (noon to midnight), approximately 7,835 barrels of oil were collected and 15.7 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• On June 11, a total of approximately 15,550 barrels of oil were collected and 31.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• Total oil collected since the LMRP Cap containment system was implemented is approximately 104,300 barrels.

• Operations were stable..

The Loch Rannoch is on its way, as, possibly, is the Toisa Pisces.

This latter is a Well Testing Service Vessel (WTSV) Dynamic Positioning ship, which has systems for the reception and processing of fluids from well completion, stimulation and repair. For those interested in well flow rates, that measuring capability is among its capabilities.

• Reception of the products from the well via flexible hoses connecting the well to the production system installed on the ship.

• Process and separate water, wasted and un-wasted chemicals, gas, crude oil and solids. The water will be stored in the WTSV’s tanks and later re-injected into industrial waste well or offloaded to a processing facility onshore.

• The crude and gas will be measured in quantity and quality. The combination may be returned to the export line, or if this last is not available, the gas will be flared and the crude stored in the WTSV’s tanks to later be exported to an onshore or an offshore offloading terminal.

• The solids are stored in containers to be disposed to shore.

• Crude ranges are from low to high (12 to 43 °) API. Pressures up to 10,000 psi at the well head.

It has been suggested that it might arrive on site on the 19th June. The Loch Rannoch should arrive a few days earlier, releasing the Drillship Enterprise, which, I suspect, has other things that it might now be doing.

The Toisa Pisces was formerly a cable-laying vessel, and is not a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit (FPSO).

Toisa Pisces

My main topic for this post, however, is not the possible change is the fleet over the well, but rather some thoughts on how to avoid this happening again. There were likely a cascade of several errors, each of which alone would not have led to the disaster, but cumulatively they did. So how do we stop it happening again?

In some ways the problem is similar to that the Mining Industry faces after more than twice the number of deaths (29) at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia in April. In both cases, there were safety concerns reflected in the numbers of citations that the companies had received relative to other companies. So how does one install a different attitude in those who work to produce the fuel that we all need? To a degree, it has to be done through the imposition of regulations that enforce the concept of safety in daily working life. Included in those regulations should be the appropriate recommended practices for carrying out different tasks in the operation.

But even with those regulations in place, they are only as good as the enforcement of them. If my memory serves, you could not become an Inspector of Mines in Britain during the National Coal Board years, unless you had a First Class Certificate of Competency (which is the examination that allows you to manage a mine). The standards of education and training for inspectors must be high, and they need to require a reputable image.

The problems, in part, for both industries, are that the fossil industry historically has been cyclic in nature. Often driven by the price of oil, when that price is high, there are lots of jobs, and both coal and oil boom. The price falls, times get tight, and lots of folk get laid off. It has happened more than once in my career, as we have students go from having many job offers, to students coming back for graduate degrees because there was no work in the industry. The employees that are laid off go find work in other, less cyclic industries.

And so when the next boom comes around, they are no longer available. Furthermore, the teaching departments at the Universities have closed. It is as a result of this boom and bust cycle that there is a dearth of middle management in many companies that work in the fossil fuel business. For many years, they were not hiring, and the folk that they now need as long-time trained and experienced individuals do not exist in large numbers.

The number of both mining and petroleum engineering schools have fallen, and student enrollments, until the recent rise in the price of oil (the $140 one) were bringing other departments closer to that action. At one time, for example, Leeds University in the UK had one of the largest mining departments. At that time, it was housed in a building that was funded by those in the Industry in 1928. That building is now occupied by the Art Department and somewhere – not quite sure where (this from the alumni office and the secretary in the building that houses the remaining odd faculty member) – there is still someone that teaches the odd course (he was out). There is only one other Mining School in the UK, and it studies hard rock mining at Exeter (used to be Cambourne School of Mines).

The Old Mining Building at Leeds

The commemorative plaque

It is hard to criticize University leaders, who must look to where the students are, and which faculty hire will bring the best return to the University. In recent years that has not been within the ability of the fossil fuel departments, and so they are closing – though the demand for their product is now rising again.

It is one of those interesting items to note that the latest reviews of world oil supply are beginning to suggest, increasingly, that the world is approaching if not past the point of peak global oil production. That will require more mining and petroleum engineers, though at places like Leeds (my alma mater), they will likely only be able to produce the modern version of Thomas Hair, to record the modern version of his “Art of Mining,” rather than the subjects of that art.

So what does all this have to do with regulation and responsibility? Well, it is very difficult to maintain high quality folk in industries that go through severe manpower cycles. When regulations are severely enforced under one administration and then almost neglected in another, either because the industry is in disfavor, or the apple of the administration’s eye, it is hard to keep the regulatory inspectorate that is a vital part of running a safe industry. The regulations should be fair, be strict, and must be enforced by individuals that have been properly trained to a high level of understanding as to both the technology that they are reviewing and the consequences of error.

Historical evidence is clear that Universities cannot be left alone to provide that education, and supply those individuals. The National Mine Health and Safety Academy at Beckley is a start in the right direction for the mining industry, but there are other changes that must be made, in the investment in research into new technology, in the general attitude to those who work to provide the fuels that we need (and will continue to do so).

Treating the industries and those who work in them as pariahs is not the way to solve this problem.

Oh, and not to get anyone excited, but for the first time in the recent past there is some earthquake activity under the Myrdalsjokull glacier in Iceland, the home of the Katla volcano. The map shows the age of recent earthquakes. Eyjafjallajokull is the site of the currently active volcano.

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The Loch Rannnoch is a shuttle tanker - normally employed on BPs Schiehallion field in the UK West of Shetland. Capacity stated as 850,000 bbls.

It doesn't have any processing capacity - unless BP have done a super-fast retro fit (unlikely), so its role will be limited to storing or transporting stablised crude.

BP have an entire navy of tankers which could be sent in - however the Loch Rannoch is equipped for offshore loading, which I guess makes it the best choice.


What sort of position-keeping capability does the Loch Rannoch have? Most tankers ship oil terminal-to-terminal, tied up to wharfs while the transfers occur. They are usually moved around the port area by tugs. In this situation where the Enterprise is continually manoeuvering in open water to keep its string and the cap centred over the wellhead, tying up a tanker to it would severely crimp its position-keeping abilties. A smaller barge is less of a problem to cope with.

If they're expecting rougher weather in the future then having a tanker with its own position-keeping thrusters alongside the Enterprise would mean they could continue operations in sea conditions that might otherwise require a shutdown and temporary abandonment of the wellhead.

The Loch Rannoch has full dynamic positioning. It is used west of Shetland for offloading - some of the roughest water in the Atlantic.

However, there was an incident last year when it collided with the offshore loading buoy. Some damage done, no injuries or oil spilled that time.....


If you look at its picture here:

You can see the little round marks on the bow, just above the waterline, forward of the Plimsoll mark,
that look like little propellers.
Ships that have bow thrusters (and thus have the mechanism for dynamic positioning - tho' possibly not the automatic control system) have these marks to tell tugboats not to position themselves in front of the thrusters.

The page on BP's site doesn't say it has full DP capability, but other sources imply it does:

FYI - if you missed the reference further down the thread, a new tech briefing posted:

And Adm Allen has mentioned its DP capabilities a couple of times during his daily briefings, indicating that as a specific reason for bringing it over from the North Sea, so that it will be able to safely stay near the Toisa Pisces.

A UPSTREAM article that another poster linked to a few days ago mentioned that it wasn't clear whether the Loch Rannoch would be used to transport the oil to a terminal or whether, due to Jones Act restrictions, it would transfer the oil to another tanker to be taken to a refinery.

Allen has been asked at least twice recently about the Jones Act in general - both times he has replied that to date he has not received any requests for exemptions, but would certainly consider the need to apply for one. If the Loch Rannoch might need one, it's surprising one isn't in the pipeline already.

I wasnt familiar with the Jones Act until this post, but man what a canb of worms that legislation is! The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I can totally see how the protectionist impulse has destroyed competition to the detiment of users of the cargo fleet. Jones Act seems at face value a great idea, but not if you actually have to pay to use a US cargo vessel!

I would like to know, how much money BP can net on each bbl pulled up this way. I mean the simple net (direct costs) per unit, not taking into account the additional financial pressures etc. (And even if not a profit, still better than zero gross return as in lost oil.) There's no reason to waste (in so many senses of the term) the oil if it can be used, but remember that only weeks ago we were told BP could and would only kill the well, there was no point in talking of pulling some up from this well? Could thinking of the benefits of the latter approach have influenced their decision making?

BTW the latest claim going around in right-wing circles is that the current approach is what BP wanted to do first, but "Obama blocked them." I don't think he even exercised any power at all esp. in the early stages, and wonder what formal power or agencies have anyway. Maybe he should, but I suggest a post here to clarify the governments legal and logistical situation (again, if necessary) about the leak disaster.

BTW there is no reason to resent their making money off this collection if they can. They might as well have money to pay for this with. That's also why it is stupid to boycott BT. First, it hurts the franchisees, who didn't know any better and why take it out on them? Second, we should want BP to have a decent income stream, the better to pay fines, compensation, etc. I sure don't think much of their recent big payout to shareholders (was it really a 9% cut of profit?) which looks like evading cash on hand to pay damages etc.

BP have said in a press release that they will use the net Revenue from the collected oil to create a wildlife fund.....

" As part of its commitment to restore the environment and habitats in the Gulf Coast region, BP today announced that it will donate the net revenue from oil recovered from the MC252 spill to create a new wildlife fund to create, restore, improve and protect wildlife habitat along the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The creation of this fund is over and above BP’s obligations under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

BP’s net revenue from the sale of oil recovered from skimming operations and the well containment systems will be deposited into this newly-created fund. At this point, BP cannot predict the total of amount of net revenue that will be deposited into the wildlife fund. The amount of funding will be contingent upon the amount of oil collected during operations and the price at which the oil is sold. BP will provide regular updates on the amount of proceeds being deposited into the fund. "

Source - BP Press release 9th June.

Before you start cheering about the wildlife fund getting "the net revenue from oil recovered", you had better find out what kind of bookeeping is involved.

Will royalties still be paid?
Will the donation count as a "taxable deduction"?
Who will lose the tax revenues?
Will the "gross" or "net" be used as a tax deduction?
Who will operate this "newly-created fund" and get paychecks?


You gotta love these guys:

" As part of its commitment to restore the environment and habitats in the Gulf Coast region, BP today announced that it will donate the net revenue from oil recovered from the MC252 spill to create a new wildlife fund to create, restore, improve and protect wildlife habitat along the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida."

Notice the caveat; "net revenue". There will obviously be no net revenue. Perhaps this "advertisment" should read:

" As part of its commitment to restore the environment and habitats in the Gulf Coast region, BP today announced that the US Government will confiscate all gross revenue from oil recovered from the MC252 spill to create a new wildlife fund to create, restore, improve and protect wildlife habitat along the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida."

Indeed BPie is trying to hide the number of their slices. Let's focus like a damn laser on their assets and take them to make things good for us all, we'll all be better for it and a lesson will be learned by the other oil vampires.

The US government is talking about a fine of $4,500 per barrel of spilled oil. The current market price of oil is under $80 per barrel. Compared to the fine, everything else is a rounding error.

Well, it's worth knowing about IMHO. And I see comments that the collection ships can't process - sure I would figure that, so where is it going? BTW I wonder if BP even has the money to pay such a fine, once the total is figured up with latest figures and the long delays. BTW what percentage of the gushput (I'm just playing with coinages, sorry) is being collected? From what I hear it may be around half -?

This is one of the fall outs that nobody ever noticed from the de-nationalisation of the coal industry by Mrs-Thatcher-The-Milk-Snatcher. The mining villages have gone to hell in a hand basket, particularly around Nottingham, but nobody missed management, all long retired to wherever you retire to in the UK (probably Torquay).
There is probably nobody left in the UK who can manage an underground coal mine. This includes the geologists, well-head management, inspectors, etc. Plus there is probably nobody who can do the budgeting, planning and business plan for the day-to-day running, and most importantly ... put together a business plan to raise the money in the City to do the job.
As if anybody cared.
I'm sounding like Alan From The big Easy ranting against Bush Pigs and Tony-Twit-Of-The-Year.
Incidentally, thanks to Peskild, Alan from the Big Easy, Trailman, Deseng, etc for their help on who has the tightest offshore drilling regulations.

A minor point on the TFA:

It is hard to criticize University leaders, who must look to where the students are, and which faculty hire will bring the best return to the University. In recent years that has not been within the ability of the fossil fuel departments, and so they are closing – though the demand for their product is now rising again.

The main reason the UK schools of mining are mostly gone is that 99% of the coal pits our coal mining industry was 99% shut down after the miner's strike in 1984. e.g. -- actually Wikipedia seems to be missing an article on the history of coal mining in the UK.

A question for the insiders here:

Is there really such a shortage of processing capacity in the gulf that not having a sufficient amount yet or for weeks to come is justifiable?

Aren't there rigs in the gulf that could have been leased?

I find this bizarre and, if the capacity was available, maybe the clearest example of gross negligence in the whole affair.

I'm guessing it is rooted in some sort of anti-science, anti-outsider denialism, and the fact that such has now become habitual for the corporation and many in the industry. And it bit back.

Requirements to have far improved intervention, recovery and processing facilities on hand in the Gulf would seem likely to be the kind of regulation put in place after this disaster as part of any permission to resume drilling in the deepwater.

This is a good question which has not had much airplay to date in TOD (apologies if I am wrong, but I have struggled to keep pace while holding down my day job).

It may seem odd to the outsider that there are numerous FPSOs around the world with processing capacities well in excess of 100,000 bbl/day - including a number currently not in service - and yet the vessel actually deployed is limited to some 18,000 bbl/day. But the key point is that all FPSOs fitted out for production duty are moored, and they use flexible risers to get the fluids to the surface. A mooring spread in 5,000 feet takes up a huge footprint which all other vessels involved would have to dodge around. And you could not lower and position a containment hat on a rigid riser like you can from the Enterprise.

Thus the actual subset of vessels which (a) have even modest processing capacity and (b) have dynamic positioning and (c) use a rigid riser is in fact quite small. They basically exist to do extended well tests, where there is no real benefit in being able to handle more than 20,000 bbl/day. "Full size" FPSOs are not dynamically positioned because this burns huge amounts of fuel to keep station - and why do that when you can moor it?

Ironically, when I first started to think about vessels which could handle a higher rate than the Enterprise, I thought of the Seillean. This was built in the 1980s by a forward-thinking operator in the North Sea to tap into small fields via one or two subsea wells with a rigid riser and DP. They sold it on in the 1990s. For the past few years it has been working for Petrobras in Brazil in around 5,000 ft water depth. But its capacity is 20,000 bbls/day, not much more than the Enterprise.

Oh.... and that "forward looking North Sea operator"? BP of course. Bet they wish they had kept that in the toolbox.

Is it possible to have a supplemental processor?

Perhaps divert some of what has come up the riser to another ship or add an additional port to the cap to which a flexible hose is attached?

I think that would be the only practical way to do it. But to do the modifications in-situ on the Enterprise to allow it to pipe onwards to another ship would not be trivial. And if you took it back to port you would be spilling the full volume in the meantime. The other ship would also have to be DP, and the flexible mid-water transfer pipe between them would have to allow them both to weathervane, and kept in a safe configuration so it doesnt overstress - not trivial either.

The flexible pipe ported off at the containment hat to a second DP vessel a mile or two away would get around the problems above. But think about the momentum change in the fluid heading off to the side at the hat, which is currently sort of "floating" over the BOP. Would be a horizontal counterforce of many tons which you will have to resist somehow. And maybe in the process stuff up the successful collection you are already getting.

None of these things are insurmountable, but engineering them "on the fly" takes time. I would guess BP have explored all these options, and hopefully a few more along the same lines....

If I am not mistaken the new system they are working on will rely on flexible hoses for delivery from a subsea riser with a buoy. Timeline - July to get this engineered and deployed.

Thank you for the thoughtful responses.

Matched ports 180° offset?

Or bolt the thing to one of the now available bolt holes?

It is the psychology (or madness?) behind the failure to scramble additional capacity if there was even a theoretical chance of connecting it that fascinates me.

They have a crisis that threatens the company, from very early had multiple acedemics saying that the flow estimates were low and they don't take an obvious action just in case.

A refusal/inability to believe it is as bad as it is?

A belief that those giving are acting only due to an anti-BP, anti-oil agenda?

Very strange.

Brains in an extreme failure mode.

Would recommend Kent Well's latest technical update:

Main problem, no matter what solution you use, ultimately have to have surface processing capability. Surface processing capacity (dynamically positioned) has limited availability in the industry. Note from the video, the Q4000 doesn't actually have processing capability, they are building/installing processing equipment right now on the deck live in the Gulf which is why they haven't started using it yet.

The video does show the longer term solution splitting the flow at the BOP (with new "overshot" tool sealed cap) to 2 new processing ships that are en-route.

Not sure I'd want a high pressure multi-phase flow line connecting ships at the surface (still has to come through the Enterprise initially, would have to shut down enterprise for modifications to do a connection before the seperation equipment on ship, and then would have risk of running a high pressure flow line running explosive gas/oil mixture between dynamically positioned ships).

On connecting a flexible hose to the cap ports at the BOP -- need some way of sealing hose (doesn't appear to be any flange or sealing mechanism on outside of port currently), then need 1 mile of high pressure hose & a ship that can process the flow. The industry has exactly this type of high pressure flexible tubing ("coil tubing units"), that can easily bring sufficient length of flexible tubing of up to about 3 inch lines (assuming have ROV to guide/connect the line somehow). But ultimately run back into surface processing cabability limit right now.

The best shipyards in the world to make these type of modifications are in Louisiana. In late April/very early May, they could have pulled in a spare ship and made such modifications.

Given a 24 hour/day, 7 day/ week schedule (and I promise you the workforce would have been motivated !) they would be ready by now.

No excuse !


There's never an excuse for anything.
Evil dooers must pay until the 7th generation for destroying "our gulf".

Also: LOL

Just as BP has apparently been slow to bring in added capacity, Adm Allen et al have been slow in recognizing the lag. Allen is finally beginning to ask for more.

Earlier this week Rear Adm James Watson (on scene coordinator) gave BP a 72 hr deadline to define their plans for increasing capacity and supplying redundancy. BP COO Suttles replied with an outline on 6/9. His reply here (pdf)

Watson found that reply unsatisfactory and on 6/11 gave BP 48 hours to come up with something more acceptable. Watson's reply here (pdf).

You indicate that some of the systems you have planned to deploy may take a month to bring online. Recognizing the complexity of the challenge, every effort must be expended to speed up the process. For example, elements of the Unified Command have been in active discussions with you about the use of the choke and kill lines for oil collection. Your letter indicates that it will be approximately a month before the kill line can be used to collect oil.

Based on the forgoing, BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be opeartionalized and expedited to avoid the continued discharge of oil from the Macado 252 well into the Gulf with expanded redundancy.

(the choke line will be used by the Q4000, the setup that BP's Kent Wells said (pdf) would begin testing this weekend. The kill line is slated to be used by the Clear Leader, a setup that Suttles writes won't be ready until mid-July.)

Counting the cost of drilling down deep

THE ecological catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has failed to discourage the Rudd government, which has granted oil and gas explorers permission to drill deep off the Australian coastline.

The latest federal government exploration releases confirm a trend towards deep-sea drilling, offering explorers blocks largely around the 1000-metre mark.

''The problem is if you screw up in a highly productive rock formation, the consequential flow is automatically very large.'' Mr Bourne said the remoteness of Australian offshore fields from any oil industry centre made an accident likely to be even more damaging. ''A dynamically-positioned rig would take several months even to get it to Australia before it could begin drilling a relief well. An immediate moratorium on deep water drilling now would be straight logic.''

Last August, when the West Atlas rig blew out in only 77 metres of water in the Timor Sea off Western Australia's Kimberley Coast, it still took 75 days to plug the Montara oil well.

Western Australia's battle for offshore oil
Crude Oil dropped by 27% in 2009

I got to say, but this posting exemplifies the wrong way to do it in my opinion; more regulation, more enforcement - it only makes it worse.

The problems with this approach are:
1) no set of regulations can deal with every eventuality and every circumstance, so there are still plenty of opportunities for the dumb process follower to do everything required, and still have an accident. By the book makes for dumb.

2) the more complete the regulations, the more onerous and the more inappropriate in particular circumstances. Net result is that people get used to shaving off the corners of what they are supposed to do, because it makes no sense. Then they shave a bit more and eventually you still get the accident because they don't agree with or respect the rules. This also promotes the behaviour where the regulators impose regulations to ensure that their will always be transgressions, so they can always point to the company as failing, even if the regulations are stupid (its not our fault, look at the thickness of the regs...)

3) the more enforcement, the more time consuming and annoying it becomes, the more things are hidden from the enforcement team (who become 'the bad guys'). No practical level of enforcement will catch even half the transgressions of the rules anyway. Net safety goes down.

4) the more regulations, the more enforcement, the more it costs, the less drilling is done - with far bigger systematic effects than the accident rate risk.

5) you will still get accidents, no matter what. Its in the 'risk sea' where you don't know, can't know what's going to bite you - just that it will happen no matter what. Better to realise and cope with this reality.

A better approach?

a) DON'T tell a company how to maintain safety. Tell the company that they have to define their own approach to maintaining it, describe it to regulators and prove it. Also tell them they are responsible for it. That way if something goes wrong, they are automatically in the frame for failing to ensure safety, whatever they actually do. They then have to prove they couldn't have foreseen it. This general approach is much better, more flexible, more effective and rewards innovation.

b) address the systematic issues with how drilling is conducted, to make the entirety more 'fail safe', as well as cheaper and more attuned to the post peak world. They have been doing the same basic thing for 100 years, they need a revolution.

c) create INDEPENDENTLY a service which only aim is to prevent leaks and close down accident sites. Don't give it to the oil company, have it government administered (and probably paid for)

d) state that the majority of the board of any dangerous or accident prone industry have to be qualified engineers, and make sure the accountants and lawyers in such organisations are kept on a leash. Arts grads, financial types and PR make poor board managers for such structures, for a variety of reasons that include safety.

BP is currently on the hook for their failings. So giving them more rope would have made this spill less likely?

I suppose we should give the financial industry more rope too

Corporations don't make decisions based on the public interest. And sometimes they don't even make appropriate decisions for their own interest.

You're missing the point of making them responsible. If you give them a thick tome of regulations, you create the situation where they shave them and can point to following them as being safe.

If you make them responsible for what you care about "being safe", not following words, you get a whole different, better, behaviour.

Be careful. They ban people here for suggesting "responsibility" instead of more words on paper.

To: garyp

I believe your item "d" is on to a basic part of the problem. BP unless they have changed radically since my last direct experience with them is a prime example.

BP often considers "Qualified" engineers to be someone who is not a "Degreed" Engineer as the equal of a truly qualified engineer. I have worked with "nondegreed engineers" who in their areas of competence were very good but they were not flexible and often poor at seeing the bigger picture. Fifteen or twenty years as an operator in a refinery or on a drill rig does not give one the background to be a "Qualified" engineer no matter what the BP job title.

The second part of the puzzle is that Managers who do not have technical degrees tend to look down on the engineers and disregard their advice. Part of this is due to giving unqualified people the job title "Engineer" and part is an attitude that looks down on technical jobs.

Ultimately I suspect these two related factors played as big a role as BP's penny pinching in this blowout.

That happens everywhere, its a core reason for failure across the piece really, you would have thought they would have learnt from Germany.

The stories I could tell.

You also have to consider the effects that 'engineer syndrome' has on the non-engineers who have to work with them. Have you ever met a degreed engenier who did not think that he knew more about your (non-engineering) specialty than you do?

That's a tired old canard. Yes, there are engineers who are respectful of non-engineers' knowledge and skill.

It may be a 'tired old canard.' But it still is more common than not to encounter it.

Considering the number of let us say 'creative' solutions to the blow out that are in circulation it seems to me that the reverse is more common.

I work every day on systems that are audited as described in (a). This requires a lot of my company's time and effort to explain what we're doing to the auditors. The auditors don't have the technical expertise to properly evaluate what we tell them and they don't demand the access they'd need to our day-to-day activities to validate that we do what we tell them. This is for some relatively simple systems that are not safety critical.

A safety system that gives freedom for the operator to design their own procedures would have to be conducted against a background of industry best practices and with some by-the-book, strictly-enforced requirements for gathering and creating safety-related data that does have to be enforced by the book. Examples of these requirements include a couple of things for which BP seems to be in trouble already: periodic inspections of equipment (inspecting North Slope pipelines for corrosion?) and completing as-built drawings so they're available to guide inspections and for troubleshooting when something goes wrong.

If the operator feels the need to hide routine activities from inspections there's either something wrong with the safety standards or there's something wrong with the operator's attitude toward safety. It would be great if there were a way to structure positive incentives such that everyone working for the operator saw safety as their first priority. If that's not practical the rules have to be enforced using guaranteed access for inspectors and fines big enough to get the operator's attention.

Why wasn't this extra capacity out there a week ago when the cap was installed? This whole exercise has an ad hoc, they're winging it feel to it. Where are the adults?

Roughly 5 weeks ago, when the first processing ship Discovery Enterprise, of 15,000 b/day capacity arrived, I called for a sister ship (or comparable capacity) to also be on-site with provision made for a 3rd (of perhaps smaller capacity) to be brought in on short notice.

Just common sense, if one looked at the various flows and uncertainties involved, but this would have cost BP more money "up front".



Don't you sometimes feel like Cassandra - always right but nobody ever listens to you?


The commentator snowball earlier in this thread pointed there are not that many drillships with gas/oil capability around. The units which can deal with more than 15-20,000 bpd tend to be rigs which need to be moored since they don't do active position-keeping the way the Enterprise can and setting up rig mooring at a depth of 5000 feet could take weeks, all the time preventing the current capture of oil that is being achieved.

I don't think the Enterprise is configured to transfer raw oil/gas from its riser valvegear to another processing ship or barge laid alongside, it can only store and trans-ship processed oil from its tanks. That means the bottleneck is its separator equipment. Adding another processing drillship similar to the Enterprise to the fleet would mean modifying the wellhead cap to take two risers, one for each drillship. This would make keeping the cap located on the wellhead pretty much impossible as the two ships would have to be able to move independently.

Five weeks ago there were four/five potential production points. The choke & kill lines from the lower part of the BOP and the three leaks from the riser (the end point had a valve attached to it by ROV that was closed but could have been opened and produced directly).

Today, it appears quite possible to produce the choke and kill lines directly, without leakage (combine both lines on one ship or divided on two ships.

There are significant issues in producing the top hat to two ships, in series or in parallel. IMVHO, possible. I would be inclined to a "Y" a few feet above tophat (before gas expansion becomes a bigger issue) and parallel processing.

The easiest solution though is to to take the largest ship (by processing capacity) in the world (BP pays whatever it takes to shut down whatever production it is currently producing) and attach it to tophat and move the Discovery Explorer to the choke and kill lines.

In five weeks, ANY ship in the world over any offshore field (that could fit through the Panama Canal) could be there today. All it takes is an open BP cheque book !


BP appears to have a perverse corporate culture. Instead of pursuing the goal that economists assume they follow--long-run profit maximization, BP appears mainly to be interested in short-run profit maximization (plus acquisition of reserves for the longer term). For example, think how arrogant it was to cancel their insurance three years ago and self-insure. In the short term this action improved their bottom line, but in light of what is going on now it is clear that this was a bad decision that will greatly decrease long-term profit. Similarly the corporate culture of hurry up and pinch pennies and skimp on safety precautions may help in the short run, but in the longer run it does not maximize profit in the dangerous and risky oil drilling industry.

In other words, BP management has done a poor job for their stock holders. I hope the stock holders will protest and vote proxies to get rid of all of BPs upper management and perhaps some or all middle managers too. BP needs to change its corporate culture (perhaps to resemble the one at Shell) in light of the current ecocatastrophe.

"BP needs to change its corporate culture (perhaps to resemble the one at Shell) in light of the current ecocatastrophe."

Interesting recommendation. Could you elaborate on Shell's corporate culture?

I don't think BP's structure is at fault. The problem is with the corporate culture--culture which is embodied in the beliefs, values, perceptions, and habits of their managers. Hence, get rid of the managers and hire better ones.

From what I've been reading on TOD, Shell has been a model citizen, insofar as an oil company can be a world citizen. Apparently Shell has an excellent safety record, and I believe the company is quite profitable. If it were not profitable it would be failing its shareholders, and by being an ethical and responsible company they contribute to their long-run profitability.

I see no conflict between a strong emphasis on safety and long-run profit maximization.

In the short run you can be like BP and skimp on safety and boost your share price for several quarters, but in the long run, sooner or later, you get the Macondo gusher.

From what I've been reading on TOD, Shell has been a model citizen, insofar as an oil company can be a world citizen. Apparently Shell has an excellent safety record,

Oil spills escalated in this decade

The company with the most spills from 2000 through 2009 is BP, which leased the well spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf since April 20, according to the data. The oil giant and its affiliated companies reported 23 spills of 50 barrels or more, not including the latest blowout. Oil firm Shell was next with 21, according to MMS spill reports.

...Offshore oil production increased during that time, but the rate of barrels spilled per barrels produced continued to increase.

Now as I believe BP produces a lot more offshore oil than Shell in the USA, it seems from the above that Shell had more spills per barrel of oil produced than BP between 2000 and 2009. Someone correct me if I'm missing something - although of course when things go wrong with BP they do seem to go spectacularly wrong. Also it seems that everyone has been spilling more in the last decade.

Anyone know the source for the MMS data listed by USA Today? Is it available on the MMS website? It would be interesting to see the table of spills per company plotted against production.

I should have used Exon as an example instead of Shell. Exon has been highly praised by Alan.

Actually, that was Rockman that praised Exxon safety (he thinks it may be attributed to post-Valdez).

Locally, Shell has a good reputation both as an exemplary corporate citizen (especially after Katrina !), refinery operator just upriver, offshore design (know some engineers doing that, DO IT RIGHT ! is the motto, redundancy etc.). Also one good report on offshore production safety by Shell.

No specific feedback of offshore drilling by Shell (BP was known as "cheap" before April 20, so "nothing" is probably good). I do know geologist that got fired by Shell after three dry holes in GoM.

Best Hopes for the Good Oil Companies,


And there are still spills going on since Ivan -the Hurricane - 6 years and counting.

IMHO - It's not just the Oil Patch's problem, but all corporations on the open trades market are running this way. I was a tech with a technology leader back twenty years ago, that was bought out by a larger company it was in debt to. The new management group had no experience dealing with our operations (they ran plants; we were a sales/service outfit), but their bean-counters immediately scrapped our forward-looking two year plans, and put us on a three month - all due to the market analysts drive for increased profitability.

'Twas said they wouldn't spend a dollar on Tuesday they couldn't get back by Friday. Another thing that got extended was Accounts Payable, moved from 30Days Due to 90Days. Tell you, that really pissed the folks off at HQ when they discovered that the bill for Janitorial Services had been delayed, and they ran out of bathroom tissues!

Not sure, but it looks as if Shell is not beholden to the US/UK market forces as much as most others are. I know that here in the NE US, Shell tends to be on the higher side for pricing compared to most other big name fuel outlets.

Thanks for the info. :^)

Data is interesting.

In 1996, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the ISO 14001 Standard: Environmental Management Systems - Specification with Guidance for Use, which outlines the components of an effective environmental management system. Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd. (LRQA) is set up to conduct a third party assessment of a company's operations integrity systems. LRQA can confirm if compliance with ISO 14001 is fully in place throughout a Corporation, has reached a high level of maturity in implementation and is promoting continuous improvement.

Do you know if Shell is in compliance with ISO 14001 and has been audited for such by a third party?

I don't think BP's structure is at fault. The problem is with the corporate culture--culture which is embodied in the beliefs, values, perceptions, and habits of their managers. Hence, get rid of the managers and hire better ones.

I have often wondered about this very thing. I think part of the problem is that a corporation is set up to protect its shareholders from responsibility, even when the corporation engages in what should be considered at the very least, criminally negligent behavior. At the very worst shareholders are only faced with a loss of stock value. They don't ever get to feel the true pain of being punished for the actions of their corporation's malfeasance. The corporation enjoys the rights of personhood, and the share holders hide behind it and get off scott free! Maybe if shareholders were actually held accountable in some way, say hefty fines and the loss of voting privileges, they would be more inclined to make sure there were real changes in the corporate culture.

So in my mind its a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Any new management can't really change corporate culture to the degree that might be necessary. They are beholden to the need to produce profits for their shareholders.

To me new managers would just be akin to new flies swarming over the same old sh1t! The essential fly, sh1t relationship, probably would change all that much...

If stockholders (owners) were not shielded from liability you might as well close down stock markets and give up on capitalism because private ownership of the means of production would become VERY unpopular and there would be no way for a company to raise money to go into business.

Then we would have only socialism (public ownership of the means of production). The problem with that is that allocation of capital works much better with capitalism.

If stockholders (owners) were not shielded from liability you might as well close down stock markets and give up on capitalism because private ownership of the means of production would become VERY unpopular and there would be no way for a company to raise money to go into business.

You say that like it was a bad thing...

BTW personally I do not see any of the currently existing *.*ISMS continuing as the operating paradigm far into the post peak oil future.

Especially if unbridled corporatist capitalism or state sponsored socialism, for that matter, continue to show themselves incapable of protecting the commons. Once the commons becomes sufficiently compromised in its capability to sustain capitalism, socialism or any other "ISM", it all becomes moot.

How many more ecological disasters it will take to make all of our current systems inviable, I'm not quite sure, but it ain't lookin good...

I think Gail's latest post is probably a better place to discuss this issue.

Belief Systems at a Turning Point

Posted by Gail the Actuary on June 12, 2010 - 8:53am
Topic: Environment/Sustainability
Tags: deepwater horizon, oil spill [list all tags]

I for one no longer believe in the systems we have now have in place.

Best hopes for a more sane and sustainable paradigm!

Thanks for the pointer to Gail's article.

And what is your alternate system for providing capital to companies? Do you really think that any 'retail investor' would ever dare to buy even _one_ share of stock in a company if it meant risking the loss of everything he has? What about the peoplem with 401k's?

Under your system the only people who would become the owners in companies would be the ultra-wealthy who can afford to buy enough stock so that they have an actual 'voice' in the company.

"They don't ever get to feel the true pain of being punished for the actions of their corporation's malfeasance" Have you ever had one of the stocks you own go bankrupt while you own it? The punishment is worthless stock. It has happened to me. It's plenty painful, I can tell you.

Oh the pain! Held Superior Offshore only managing to sell half and then the 5$ fee for sell worthless ouch! What was I thinking? I bought that on BO selling his drill offshore than didn't happen until a year later. BO's big plan of nat. gas and my owning worthless Blue Dolphin ha! Come to think of it buying GM when he said we stand behind GM, then lent them just enough to file ha! I need to stop trading on the upside until BO is ousted from office.

That wasn't my point. My point was to rebut the idea that an investor should be liable in exess of his investment if a company fails or faces fines in excess of it's assets.

For example - you invest $100 in XYZ inc which fails the next year, and you discover a lien on your house for the your 'share' of the liability in excess of the company's assets after bankruptcy.

"They don't ever get to feel the true pain of being punished for the actions of their corporation's malfeasance" Have you ever had one of the stocks you own go bankrupt while you own it? The punishment is worthless stock. It has happened to me. It's plenty painful, I can tell you.

A poor job for which stockholders? For twentysomething Wall Streeters whose computers hold shares for three seconds or maybe occasionally three days - or for some other group of stockholders. It seems like it's always possible to goose the share price now at the expense of something later. After all, the future hasn't happened yet, so you lack perfect information about how to build it into the current price. Indeed, if you object to some such action, you may not even be able to demonstrate that it's giving away too much of the future for the sake of "now".

three seconds=three microseconds or maybe occasionally three days=3milliseconds. You cannot believe how fast these people trade now.

I do not have a link but I have read that computer trading now creates the liquidity in the stock market. Some linked SPARK computers make trades in nanoseconds. Computer trading programs operating in nanoseconds were suspected to be the cause of the mysterious instant crash and almost instant rebound, the so called Flash Crash, several weeks ago.

Interesting that there still isn't a definitive post-mortum on that 'little glitch'. A black box run with black magic it seems.

It wasn't a 'glitch.' What happened was that automated trades began cascading on each other.

A very common practice is for day-traders and other short-term investors is to set up an automated trade to sell a stock if the price drops below 'x' dollar amount. In addition some institutional investors have automated 'sells' based on index prices.

This works just fine as long as there is not a lot of volitility in stock prices combined with a market correction. Since the market was correcting (stocks with inflated prices dropping to more realistic levels) and there was a lot of volitility - several stocks all hit preselected 'sell' points at once. As each investor's stock hit the sell trigger - it drove down the price of the stock (supply and demand) which triggered more 'sell' points. Normally thise would be offset by the people/institutions that had preselected 'buy' instructions if the price for a particular stock hits a certain poinjt. This did not happen because due to the market corretion most people who normally ould be buying were stiiing on the sidelines waiting to see where everything would settle after the correction.

The reason that the price drop only lasted about a half-hour was that people began recognising that there was an issue with stock pricing and not in stock value and began grabbing up 'deal of a lifetime stocks.' This buying began driving the prices of stocks back up until equalibrium was once again reached.

BTW - I missed out on the chance to buy a normally $50 dollar stock for less than $3 by only about three minutes. By the time I had jumped on my computer, logged on to my brokerage account and imput my 'buy' orders - the whole thing was over.

Lets see a link to a definitive analysis - rather than some traders opinion.

Here's your link:

Of course - since you cannot tell the difference between a 'trader' and an 'investor' - I suspect aht you may not understand the information. (Maybe you should find out what a 'trader is before you _assume_ that I use that type of investment stragety.)

And if you had read my previous post where I described how I think the tax laws on sotck investments should be changed - you would have know that I am absoklutely not a 'trader' since those recomendations would actually shut down the 'traders.'

BTW do you really think that I am going to invest most of my net worth into the stock market and not pay attention to what is going on?

"So while the volatility we saw on May 6 was crazy, and the speed of the drop was unprecedented, it seems to me that the stock market didn’t break, during those 15 minutes, quite as much as conventional wisdom says that it did. There were a few genuinely crazy individual prints, but overall, something seemed to be working."

So this is your idea of a definitive explanation?

I warned you that you wouldn't understand it.

Hint: Look at the chart and the spreadsheet.

Here is a quote and link to the offical SEC report:

"generalized severe mismatch in liquidity, as evinced by sharply lower trading prices and possibly exacerbated by the withdrawal of liquidity by electronic market makers and the use of market orders, including automated stop-loss market orders designed to protect gains in recent market advances;"
(Says the same things I din only in more precise language.)

Any more comments?

You are citing an opinion as definitive analysis. What part of the preceding sentence do you not understand?

"generalized severe mismatch in liquidity, as evinced by sharply lower trading prices and possibly exacerbated by the withdrawal of liquidity by electronic market makers and the use of market orders, including automated stop-loss market orders designed to protect gains in recent market advances;"

My, now that is a significant improvement from the masters of transparency and efficacy at the SEC. My hat's off to those wizards.

Spot on EL! 80% of trading today is High Frequency Trading. That isn't much of a market. That 80% is between five banks!

The problem is that our current tax structure penalizes long-term thinking and encourages companies to manage with a primary focus on the quarter-end results. This is because institutional investors tend to hold stocks for periods of less than one year.

The Bush changes in capital-gains rates were a baby step in the right direction. However we need to change things around so that we begin encouraging shareholders to hold on to ther stocks for at least three years.

In specific - I would change the following:

Brokerage and trading fees cannot be claimed as expenses. (This makes frequent trading more expensive.)

50% tax on all capital gains on assets held less than one year.
35% tax on all capital gains on assets held more than one year but less than two
20% tax on all capital gains on assets held more than two years but less than three
10% tax on all capital gains on assets held more than three years
15% flat rate tax on dividends.

If you do this then everybody will be planning on holding on to any particular investment for at least three years. When the majority of the stockholders are looking three years down the road - management will alter their practices to also focus on that three year time frame.

The dividend tax cut is to encourage companies to pay dividends. (Dividend paying companies typically operate in a more conservative and risk-adverse mode in order to ensure that they can continue paying that dividend.)

Great ideas, but you'll never see them come to fruition. The folks that have the liquid cash are the short-term traders. We all lose. :^(

I remember you calling for that Alan. I was impressed by your foresight. And have been impressed by it every damn time you mention it, which is not often enough. Also we need a minimum of 12 relief wells, not the paltry cheeeeep ass 2 that BP are (allegedly) drilling.

God, I pray that I look the fool when that first relief well slides in on the first try, ahead of schedule !

Best Hopes for RW #1 !


Would it be a good thing to require the regulatory as well as the corporate people to serve an apprenticeship of some kind,that is, on the drill floor,at the long wall or down in the pit?

How about they do time cleaning up tar balls and pools of oil on the coast or in the marshes? Or maybe spend a little quality time with dead wildlife pick up teams. They should get a better look at what they have created, and killed.

GW -- I Understand your thoughts. But I've run such field trips before. Folks just can't pick it up fast enough. In a way a little bit of familiarity can be counter productive: a false sense of how drilling ops run when there are no problems. And besides, I've seen very experienced hands make very dangerous choices when the financial motivation was sufficient.

via here are the links to each of the BP vessels - The link takes you to the vessel main page and in the left margin there is a link to "Itineraries History", which with a couple of exceptions has been removed but if you click on the Current Vessel's Track link the vessel position will appear on the map.


Onlooker, many thanks for your links to the Ixtoc blowout and Operation Sombrero in a previous thread. I noted them in my post early this morning at

which is now closed. If you missed this post and have the time to read it, I would like to have your comments. If you have none, I will assume that I am persona non grata here. Best regards.

I don't know about anyone else but when I went to that link I only got every fourth page. Could only get the first and last page of the sombrero operation article. May be the reason for no comment.

Donner T, I had the same problem, so I requested a copy of the book through interlibrary loan, "Offshore Pioneers: Brown and Root and the History of Offshore Oil and Gas."

The other link had the full text of the document, and you can download it for free:

this is the link to the JQuest comment string

As I recall Top Hat dominated the news cycle for a week in early May followed by Top Kill just before Memorial Day weekend. Both of these were media spectacles and I think it is safe to day that from the first indications of a leak back on April 23 the American media, government and BP downplayed the gravity of the situation. There were reports of a cover up that were redacted in some British papers as early as April 29. Spokespersons for BP and "experts" such as Vernon Asper made the media rounds in those early days and clearly downplayed what was happening (here is a link to an interview with Vernon Asper (MP3 audio about a quarter of the way into this free podcast on Bloomberg.

JQuest refers to the false and misleading information disseminated by the media, government and the companies involved. I certainly recall BP denying the existence of Plumes right up to the point that a scientific panel confirmed their presence. The media downplayed the environmental impact throughout the month of May e.g. very few pictures of oil soaked birds. And now just recently we have the controversial use of dispersants receiving the endorsement of the CRRC in what appears to be a major compromise (cave) to BP.

Perhaps the most controversial issue has been the flow estimates. From no leak to 1,000 b/d to 5,000 etc. It is hard to believe that BP did not have an idea of the flow from early on. It is equally hard to believe that the government with its vast resources did not have an idea of the flow. Both BP and the government had reason to downplay the numbers.

Then there are the numerous reports of the media being turned back by private/government security. Meanwhile another issue is emerging in BP's significance in the UK pension system with 14% of all dividends paid in the UK originating with BP.

Add to that concerns about a breach in the casing and the wild theories that Simmons has postulated. Then there is the conspiratorial ideas that some have floated that this is part of the climate change agenda.

Was Top Hat a cynical ruse foisted on the media to keep the public distracted? I am not sure what the motivation would be but I do find it interesting that the efforts to contain the leak have been sequenced in slow motion rather than prepared for concurrently. Even the ramp up of processing capacity is going to take another six weeks. It is like the media and the public are being fed tiny bits of hope until the RW is in place.

I think that the enormity of this disaster is yet to be fully grasped (or maybe some do grasp it, I'm thinking Sec. Chu for example), whatever, the implications of this will be as far reaching as any event in recent years or even decades.

Onlooker, good summary of the situation. BP and its government and media enablers know that propaganda works. Certainly I was fooled by Top Hat. It seemed like a reasonable concept. When it failed, I accepted the story that it was because methane hydrates plugged it up.

No one on this site questioned that story either, until JQuest put up his post. What he is suggesting, with credible evidence, is that Top Hat was designed to fail. Does no else here find this to be a subject worth investigating? If there is just a 1" diameter hole in the cap on Top Hat...well, I went over this in my earlier post.

If Top Hat had been designed to succeed...

I shall soon have a copy of "Clathrate Hydrates of Natural Gas" by E.D. Sloan, Second Edition(1998). There might be something interesting in it.

"No one on this site questioned that story either, until JQuest put up his post. What he is suggesting, with credible evidence, is that Top Hat was designed to fail. Does no else here find this to be a subject worth investigating? If there is just a 1" diameter hole in the cap on Top Hat...well, I went over this in my earlier post."

Actually I did but from a rhetorical standpoint. It doesn't matter if the hole is 1" or 6". If Top Hat captures all that can be processed topside then hole size is a moot point. Does JQuest feel cheated by his utility company if he discovers an orifice in his gas line at home?

I think for most here the problem has been identified BP will not be able/allowed to state the over used cliche' "I'm not your problem, I'm your solution".

If there is a design flaw to discuss then it's probably within the parameters stated by Alan from BE. The lack of processing ships could be solved by retrofitting. That being said does that resolve the DW problems of the industry? Posting processing ships at every drill site is one solution but not a very economical one. Alan made a statment in an earlier post regarding the Valdez incident being vivid in the memory of....( and I don't remember verbatim) but I'm sure it's not everyone because if it was this (current) BP distaster would not happen. There's a piece of my heart in the GOM. I grew up there and I have many good memories. One vivid memory is the first time I saw the distruction caused by hurricane Camille. I've come to understand that natural disasters pale in comparison to manmade disasters especially in terms of recovery.

What is the solution? Most of Rockman's posts have focused on proper inspection, follow thru, reading and interpretation, following plans and industry guidelines. I mention his posts again because I abhor shoddy work practices in any field. If you are on an oil rig and you are triming procedures to meet deadlines then you just trimmed you way into an unsafe zone. This applied to any industry.

That Viking Poseidon is a beauty. I've been on the Boa Deep C - the bridge has couches and wood floors. You have to take an elevator to get to the galley. Pretty "high cotton" for this oilfield scumbag.

For All

It’s a quiet Saturday morning, coffee has been brewed and the dog let out. And I feeling a little more full of myself then usual so I’ll offer a quick and easy method of greatly reducing the risk of all future offshore drilling that won’t cost the tax payers one cent. Additional it would get the oil field workers back on the job, kick the cash flow back into the service industry and reduce the loss of royalty revenue to the taxpayers.

The original thought was offered as much for comic relief as a practical solution: hire engineers formerly employed by an offshore operator to monitor their safe drilling practices. The idea produced a number of funny anecdotal stories of former employees in a number of industries who have very sharp axes to grind. They would jump at the chances to impose strong safety recommendations that were ignored (and sometimes mocked) by their former employers.

The serious proposal: First, develop specific criteria for the safest drilling procedures. This would take no time at all. Most companies already have very detailed safe drilling protocols (SDP) already developed. How well any one company follows its SDP is another matter. Second, have independent inspectors monitor how well any company is following the SDP especially at critical phases of the operation. Can the gov’t make offshore operators do this? Of course, they do it right now. Many here now understand there is a gov’t regulation that requires BOP’s be tested on a regular basis. These tests are done by private companies and are paid directly by the operators for providing this service. But the analysis by these companies is reported directly to the MMS. If the MMS doesn’t like the results it has the immediate authority to shut down the drilling ops. And how honest are these BOP testing companies? They certify their results under both civil and criminal penalties if they misrepresent the facts. Everyone can judge for themselves how well such a system might work.

So now I’ve incorporated Rockman, Inc. I’ve recruited about 80 consultant engineers. They are all experienced but not the most skilled hands out there. No need to hire the most expensive folks available. Remember they aren’t developing drilling proposals or making those tough judgment calls: they are “watchers”. Consider my background as a well site logging consultant. I sit in a Schlumberger logging unit and watch them log the well. I’m responsible for hole safety and quality control. Could I run the logging unit? Not if my life depended upon it. Way above my pay grade. But I can shut them down in a heart beat if I don’t like what I see. Same situation with my SDP inspectors. They don’t have to have the skills to do a job but can readily tell if it isn’t being done properly.

The cost to the operator? Minimal despite their complaints. The SDP inspectors need not be onboard everyday. Just at critical phases: cementing ops and testing, running casing, displacing riser, setting plugs. Just a guess but on a 80-day well they could be onsite 20 days. Two SDP inspectors working 12-hour towers. They chopper in and out as required. My inspectors would get paid $1400/day each. So the costs estimate for the model above; $1400*2*20 days = $56,000. Cost to drill a typical DW GOM well: $800,000/day*80 days = $64 million + $60 million (casing, mud, etc costs) = about $120 million. Percentage for SDP inspection: about 1/20 of one percent. Companies can bitch but who’ll will take them seriously.

But can the public trust these supposedly “independent” SDP inspectors? Did I mention that as owner of Rockman, Inc I get 20% of my consultants’ fee? Pretty standard cut for running a “body shop”. So what do I make: 80-days per well = about 4 wells per year. Assume 30 rigs drilling DW GOM. So $56,000*30 rigs*4 wells/year = $6.7 million/year. My 20% = $1.3 million/year just sitting in my office sending out invoices. So what would I do if I caught one of my SDP inspectors playing footsie with an operator? I would nail his b*lls to my office door as a warning to the other inspectors as a warning.

Pure speculation, of course. But how would have the situation developed on the BP well if Rockman, Inc. had been onboard? The cmt pressure test would have been rejected out of hand. Either re-cement and get a valid test or the rig is shut down. Displacing the riser? The mud returns are closely monitored or the rig is shut down. BOP in good working order? If the SDP inspectors don’t agree than the rig is shut down. Could Rockman Inc. eliminate all risk? No. But it’s unlikely we would see what’s happening in the GOM right now.

As you can see I meant it when I said I was feeling really full of myself this morning. But I’ve sat in the company man’s office a number of times and listened to concerned hands being over ruled on safety issues because of monetary considerations. In such situations I couldn’t open my mouth let alone change the course of events. All I could do is follow the standard practice when you become concerned about well safety: go to your bunk room and put your wallet and car keys in your pocket. That’s all you’re allowed to take into the escape capsule with you. And I’ve done that more times than I care to remember.

BTW: Do I think there’s much of a chance of such a program being implemented? No.

Where do I sign up?

I had the same question ;^)

Yo Rock.

This is sort of what I was trying to get at below. A group of professionals doing the oversight, using soild clear standards. Incorporate revisions of SDP standards on a continued basis. Is there any country where such a model can be used? It is as you point out, mostly an academic exercise, as the chances of such an effort are close to zero. But the people of whom you speak would have a short term financial interest in doing the right thing, and almost ALL former oil and gas folks want to see the industry continue, safely, and profitably. I doubt that a lot of outsiders realize this, but most of these folks would want to do the right thing.

Hey Rock, sign me up!

Reminds me of construction inspection services provided by engineering firms for civil engineering works, only it's operations inspection. I like it.

Rockman: Don't give up on your idea. The BP blow out and related consequences may have raised the calculated $$$ value of human lives as a commodity for deep water drilling.

BTW: Do I think there’s much of a chance of such a program being implemented? No.

Me neither. It would necessarily involve a push from government, which is unavoidably run by politicians, who are far more about the theater that keeps them in power than about mundane substance. Their instinct is always to make a grand show of doing something by piling on ever more rules, never mind that the rules already in place were already well-overdone - if only the sensible ones were followed. A program of mundane day-to-day involvement just wouldn't produce the sorts of maudlin, heart-wrenching, or spectacular videos that keep people scared, agitated, and demanding that power-mad politicians do something no matter how awful the unintended consequences. (Recall that according to the pundits, President O hasn't made enough of a show of anger to properly agitate the baying morons.)

Maybe where this really all goes is that the zero-risk-at-all-cost ideologues keep the moratorium going on and on and on, the resulting increment in balance-of-payments issues helps re-tank the economy, the bloody tourists can't afford to show up in their former numbers, and by 2017 President Palin is elected to "fix" the problems. Sigh.

It's like the once-proverbial broken record - the "system" just does not seem to accommodate learning and it's hard to see any way to change it so it could. Sigh again.

BTW: Do I think there’s much of a chance of such a program being implemented? No.

That's sad, because it seems like something like this program needs to be on the minimum ticket to drilling a single new well, nearly anywhere. Politically speaking, it's not going to go down very well if the industry simply says "Oh -- sorry 'bout breaking your Ocean. Bygones. We'll just be ever more careful in the future."

Still, I expect everyone in the industry has been shaken by this disaster. I wonder how many heated discussions have been resolved by invoking "Another Deepwater Horizon".

BTW: Do I think there’s much of a chance of such a program being implemented? No

Why not?

The public is screaming for changes that will lessen the chances of future disasters and this sounds like a very practical and effective one.

Surely if the industry supported it (or didn't fight it tooth and nail) it could happen.

A small minority are screaming at likeminded comrades. The majority trust that this was an accident, being dealt with by the authorities.

Suspension of disbelief is essential. Let's agree we're being told the truth. No ROV ever visited the Deepwater Horizon wreck. Nobody would switch video to green to block ugly images.

I've been a Resident Engineer on several big construction sites. It's not safety-related, but the task is similar to a safety inspector. You certify that the work is done according to the drawings and specifications, and you sign off the quantities on the payment certificates each month.

If you are working with a responsible, financially sound contractor near a large centre with alternative contractors available should this one screw up, it's not a problem to demand that things be done by the book.

When you are stuck in the middle of Namibia with an incompetent contractor who will go bankrupt if you don't sign his payment certificate and there is no one else within 200 km to take over, and the client needs the job finished to generate an income, you turn a blind eye sometimes.

If you are not experienced and you demand things be done a certain way because that's what it says in the specifications, and a gnarly guy with a hard hat and years more experience than you says, "But we always do it this way," what are you gonna do? (Householders get this a lot when dealing with builders.) Often you have to make a decision on the spot because big expensive machines stand waiting, so contacting someone senior in Head Office is not an option. (I'm talking of pre-cellphone days.)

And anyway, on a big site, there are a thousand things going on behind your back that you just have to trust the contractor is doing OK. You can't be everywhere at once.

What it comes down to is building a good working relationship with the contractor, so that he knows you won't take sh1t, but you're not going to be a dogmatically by-the-book a-hole, either.

Going back to DW GOM drilling, when something is costing $800,000/day. it's going to take an inspector with very large cojones to demand that it be shut down. The contractor will always suggest persuasive strategies to satisfy you while keeping his production going. In the back of your mind there's always the thought: What if they can prove I was wrong in shutting them down and I have to pay damages? These things are usually resolved by negotiation.

Additional suggestion: How to change the incentives.

Currently the same entity pays for the safety up front, and (more or less) pays the damages if there is a blowout, as collects the profits if there is not.

Mandate that all operator companies contribute to a body that oversees the safety (among other things, choses between Rockman Inc and its competitors), and bears a good chunk of the burden if there is a blowout. The participating operators have a say on how the body is run. This counters the whining about government involvement leading to inefficiencies. On the other hand, this way Shell (say) would have to worry about BP having a blowout. Shell would see downsides only to safety shortcuts (except when similar shortcuts benefit their own operations). But the psychology of shortcuts is very different if you have to worry about ten other operators taking more shortcuts than yourself, and so the participants would be far more interested in controls and supervision systems that actually work.

There should be some coziness/leverage resisting requirements. One safety contractor couldn't have a "too big to fail" proportion of its contracts with one operator and inspectors should rotate to different operators (thus also gaining a gut-level sense of best practices).

Rockman, Inc, sounds a lot like NR (Naval Reactors):

I work with folks who have told me something about how this organization works: When a NR inspector is on the Captain's ship, the NR guy is God.

NR inspectors are often enlisted, and wear civilian clothes, but his word is law, his words can stand the ship down...doesn't matter if the ship is skippered by the most decorated, biggest, baddest golden boy in the fleet, his name is mud if the NR inspector says so.

There are no-notice inspections...

AFAIK, we haven't lost a nuclear-powered ship since the Scorpion in 1968, and previous to that, the Scorpion in 1963.

The Russian quality control seems less effective, judging by this list of USSR/Russian nuke sub sinking that are public knowledge:

It is possible to tighten up this offshore oil drilling enterprise...but the inspectors have to be lifers, and beyond the reach of politics...DW drilling would cost more, but such is life.

Very interesting H...never heard of them. Actuallt MMS inspectors have had that same godlike power for many years. Gnerally nothing good said about them on the rig. But it seems they are often focused on the little stuff. Saw one rig "get ink" for having too many burned out light bulbs. Wonder if they studied the BOP test records that close.

Not difficult to keep the inspectors honest IMHO. It depends on management of the inspection company. That's the one area miltary rule/tradition has great value...honor.

AFAIK, we haven't lost a nuclear-powered ship since the Scorpion in 1968, and previous to that, the Scorpion in 1963.

Lesson learned ..
Don't name any future nuke sub "Scorpion"

Triff ..

Thresher in 1963.

Sorry Rock, not good enough! I have sent a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders asking for legislation requiring a relief well be drilled in tandem with any new exploration well in the shelf. I am not naive enough to believe this would come without risk. I think we see what happens when there is failure without a near completed well in the ready. Gone are those days you remember of trust.
If this relief well fails we will see even tougher controls on deep wells, I think that is a given. This is not to imply guilt on staff, only the distrust of Company lies as BP has lied through out this spill from day one!

Understand your position L. And if it's the RW that blows out and pollutes the GOM? I'm not sure drilling twice as many wells will reduce the risks.

Hi Rockman:

I would also go so far as to require an operator to have inspectors aboard 24x7 after X saftey violations and for the next Y leases. And I don't mean only major violations. As you point out - actually damn cheap taken in perspective. A really boring job, but for many a great opportunity to continue study and become more of an "expert." The extra 60 days isn't going to break anyone. And an opportunity for the inspectors to experience all phases of operations. You learn a lot by listening during the slow time. And I like the idea of having someone watching over their shoulder all the time, until they clean up their act. Hell, I'd be willing to do it. ;-)


You had me until your BTW.....and NO.

I don't think there is another way. As a layperson the only solution I see to reduce the risk to the environment (which is the focus of many today) is 2 or more RW's that are close to completion in conjuction with the main well. That gets spendy but not close to the money spent for clean up. I put employee safety first and when this is done most other issues fall in place.

A quick pause to say thanks for the rescue yesterday and add my thanks to the folks who put TOD together. I was pushing the grumpy meter because I was looking for a slot to say thanks to whoever is responsible for the quotes that are apropos to every topic and discussion and my tolerance was wearing thin with the questions being asked, so thanks. I was in the middle of writing my apology to JW as the thread closed.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Ben Franklin

There's lots of screaming about government intervention and regulation but without the government regulation industry doesn't regulate itself. I think both sides of the fence forget what government service is suppose to be. My plan for industry regulation mirrors what I did with my sons when they were not acting on my requests to clean their mess. I would call them to the scene and point out; you clean up his mess and he cleans up your mess. If you find something you don't want we throw it out. The problem with this approach is when we have a BP mess as we are dealing with today it's to late.

"It has happened more than once in my career, as we have students go from having many job offers, to students coming back for graduate degrees because there was no work in the industry. The employees that are laid off go find work in other, less cyclic industries. And so when the next boom comes around, they are no longer available."

Oh, we're still available. It is just that we don't bother sending resumes in to the Petro industry. Why not? Because every job has a requirement for 5 yrs experience examining the left hind leg of an osteoarthritic Namibian dung beetle. Without that specific experience, the HR bouncers just toss the resumes into the garbage. Forget the years you spent studying in school, forget the years worth of experience you might have with metallurgy or FMEA - they are "not applicable" in the Petro industry.

I remember very well attending a job fair in Houston three years ago to market my expertise in computational fluid dynamics. At one booth, the young lady I spoke with looked at me with a blank expression and asked me "what is that?"

A friend of mine who is an expert in fracture mechanics also does not apply to jobs in Petro industry. When I asked why not, his response was ..... "they are Neanderthals". No, I am not kidding, that really was his response.

CFD is really big now in the race car industry. Amazing actually, they can design a race car that is entirely predictable aerodynamically before it ever hits the race track.

Yeah, the "awl patch" is kinda caveman in many respects. However, I have seen the results when NASA engineers go to work for petro companies and it is not pretty as well as deadly and expensive. There is a place in the oil patch for you real smart folks, you just need to work in the patch for awhile to see the environment the equipment has to perform. Things are done a certain way in the field and most of that experience has been learned the hard way, sometimes thru disaster.

CFD is really big now in the race car industry. Amazing actually, they can design a race car that is entirely predictable aerodynamically before it ever hits the race track.

Race cars? Pfft!

The Inside Story of the MotoCzysz E1pc, the World's Most Advanced Electric Motorcycle

This is the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc, a race bike built by a tiny Oregonian company focused on pushing the limits of electric performance to the absolute max. It packs 10 times the battery capacity of a Toyota Prius and 2.5 times the torque of a Ducati 1198 into a package that looks like something out of a 24th-century Thunderdome...

“Ninety percent of a vehicle’s power is used simply to move the wind,” says Czysz, pointing out how aerodynamics play an even more important roll on electric vehicles than conventionally-powered ones (exhibit A: the Prius’s odd stub nose and compressed rump). Czysz has radically reduced the frontal area of this year’s bike — eyeballing the two next to each other, 2010 looks a third slimmer than 2009 — but it’s the wind’s exit that’s more important than its entrance.

“The low pressure area behind the bike is extremely vital,” explains Czysz. “That’s how planes work, the air accelerates so fast over the top of the wing that it creates low pressure that sucks the airplane up.”

So the challenge for a motorcycle aerodynamicist is to recombine the airflow behind the bike so it’s not sucked backwards as much as it is to split air cleanly around the front. Czysz also created ducts through the E1pc’s frame that suck air from the high-pressure area at the front through to the area beneath the seat, breaking up the low pressure. Gulfstream-jet-style winglets on the fairing whirl turbulence into these ducts just as the pull air rapidly through the motor and controller-cooling radiators.

The other extreme limiting factor to motorcycle aerodynamics is the big leather sack of human sitting on top, spoiling the airflow. Czysz has addressed this too, with perhaps the defining visual element of the 2010 E1pc. Turning to time trial bicycle racing for inspiration, he created a second riding position that the racer will move into on straights. By sliding their butt off the main seat and onto what's basically a modified pillion pad at the extreme rear, the rider adopts an incredibly low, flat-backed riding position that still gives them the ability to keep their feet on the foot pegs and hands on the handlebars; they can still fully control the bike in this position and even attack high speed corners by weighting the pegs and turning the bars.

All this aerodynamic innovation is reaping rewards on the racetrack. While competitors have adopted all-enclosed 1950s-style dustbin fairings that can negatively impact stability and therefore safety, Czysz is reaching far higher speeds using his modern methods.

Hmmm. Sounds like a pretty good size manpower base out there. Perhaps I should bump my cut up to 30%. Hey...I ain't in this for my health. Nor to save the world. It's just good business.

Rockman, I'm partial to your suggestion about hiring former employees. I'm a retired awlfield employee but you would have to also provide for your consultants the required transportation accessories. That would be walkers, hearing aids, motorized scooters, escalators for the rig stairs, and operations each day would have to be suspended for the afternoon naps.

Rock, get your idea to Senator Nelson's office. I think you will at least get a staffer's read with your credentials. It's worth a try to get serious traction for a credible idea.

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Unfortunately the oil industry likes its jargon, like any other. If you'd told her you were a specialist in "flow assurance" you would probably have been hired in a heartbeat. There will certainly be plenty of high-paid CFD (sorry, flow assurance) folks in Houston right now trying to figure out what is happening in the Macondo wellbore, BOP and containment system...

I am not an expert on the nature of regulation. I do think that BETTER regulation, followed by companies, is the way to go. In terms of personnel supply, however, you have hit some very hard targets. Western students do not seem attracted to the "hard" disciplines in the proportions they used to. Most universitiee give huge numbers of degrees in business, education, etc., and many traditional places [Nevada, for exa] are closing or merging schools of mines. We educate the technical people for the world - and I have no problem with that, but if you want effective regulations, and transparency, we need people who can work both sides of the game. I fear the continued decline in numbers for both industry and the regulatory world.

Another factor, about which I have no data, is the impact of private sector salaries and job challenges. When times are good, why would most people take a regulatory job, when in fact it is a hell of a lot more interesting to most geos and engineers to find oil, drill an complete wells, bring production online, and get paid well for it [and again, I think it is great that the pay is good]. Who does that leave for the regulatory world?

One idea that floated in the financial world discussed this in light of the Foriegn Service. Long ago we decided that it was in our best interest to educate a cadre of people to represent the US to the world - they go to good schools, learn languages, and through different presidents, work in the US Foriegn Service. They get paid pretty well, get good pensions. I make no claims as to the long-term effectiveness of their work, as I don't have data nor do I want to make this a political post.

The point is that most of us in the US view all regulation negatively, and regulators are a nusiance at best. The WV mine catastrope, the BP disaster, etc., point out that both sides are benefitted by a different model, and part of that model is that we need to refigure how we regulate ourselves, and be regulated by professionals. OF course, in the short run, we know that, and not neceissarily better, regs are coming. Thank you BP.

Western students do not seem attracted to the "hard" disciplines in the proportions they used to. Most universitiee give huge numbers of degrees in business, education, etc., and many traditional places [Nevada, for exa] are closing or merging schools of mines.

You go to school for four (or five) years in one of those 'hard' disciplines, and come out with a debt that's several tens of thousands of dollars.
If you're lucky, you'll find a job that pays enough for you to have money to live on while you're paying off that debt - because the bankers are more interested in getting it back (with interest) than they are in your life and health.

A response I recently received from a recruiter for a job I applied to in renewable energy:

"The job requirements have changed somewhat since we last spoke. They are now looking more for someone with ProEngineer CAD experience and fluid-structure interaction. The pay tops out at $85,000 /yr, so I am looking more at H1B candidates, as Americans are not interested in that kind of pay."

I replied to the recruiter that I was willing to accept that pay scale, and did not receive a response. My guess is that the primary requirement for the job is that the engineer must be from India or China.

Why on earth would any American college student study engineering when he will compete for jobs with H1Bs or a cheap offshore engineering division of a multinational?

I replied to the recruiter that I was willing to accept that pay scale ... The pay tops out at $85,000 /yr...

Problem is, the starting pay is $35K w/5yrs experience -- that top end is for 25 years with the company. You know the visa system is broke, when they use it to import hairdressers and nurses instead of local hires.

It always takes two at least to tango, and a crowd, in some respects, is even better.

We have two generally diametrically opposed groups of people in this country who hate each others guts but cooperate in effect without realizing it to totally screw up the labor market in this country over the long term for short term immediate advantage.

Businessmen want all the low wage help they can get,because thier own employees are a very small percentage of thier customers-on an individual business basis.

So Mr Biz can keep on selling -in the short term-at the usual price, and make a killing-for a while.But after a while, wages are equalized among business competitors at a new lower level, and the excess profits vanish-the new burger joint/convenience store / lawn care / janitorial service down the block cuts prices to get customers.

The liberal left for more respectable reasons -ethically defensible reasons -resists mightily any efforts to tighten up the borders.But they also have a vision-of millions of new democratic party registered voters.My more honest liberal buddies will on occasion grudgingly admit that there is truth in this comment.

Joe Sixpack doesn't know squat or give a daxn until the day arrives that the contractor he works for doesn't win enough bids to stay busy, or his daughter the recent graduate of a nursing school finds out that the hospital where she is planning on working is holding the line on nursing salaries by hiring a few Filipino nurses.

What NOBODY except lonely OFM ever seems to point out is that there are millions of poorly educated people in this country whose wages are FALLING RELATIVE to the wages/salaries of well educated liberal professionals and the profits of business owners.

We are manufacturing a new underclass inadvertently just as surely as if we were doing it deliberately , and the piper is gonna get paid.

Everybody needs to stop and think about this;which is more important-AND PROBABLY CHEAPER IN THE LONG RUN-workers doing crud work for a livable wage, or a crappy cheap hamburger ?

The price of the cheap hamburger is paid in the form of gasoline being poured on the fire of the welfare state.

And it ain't just food stamps and school lunches and medicaid.It's crime too.

I am a realist and have spent a good portion of my life in intimate contact with the underclass.a very large part of the small bore criminals in this country would go straight if the could find a job that pays enough to live even a very modest but dignified life-to wit, a guy I know well who used to deal pot and speed a few years back somehow managed to keep his drivers liscense clean, got a truck driving job, and somehow, some way(through the influence of a relative of his wife seems likeliest) got a srteady job making only thirty grand with bennies hauling gasoline to service stations.

He won't get within fifty feet of somebody smoking a joint these days-but before he got this job,the opportunity to make a few hundred dollars here and there by running a slight risk of going to jail was a godsend.That few hundred bucks bought groceries and paid for such modest luxuries as he could afford-a window ac,beer and cigarettes and an occasional fast food burger.

I can certainly "assure" BP that there is "flow" in the wellbore .... In fact, there might be more flow today than there was some weeks ago. How so?

In Alberta and Sask., a production technique for heavy oil known as "CHOPS" allows for simultaneous removal of oil *and" sand from the well. What happens in the reservoir is that the oil forms "wormholes" in the sandstone, as sand is eroded away. This happens at (and allows for) relatively high production rates.

GOM wells are supposedly high permeability sandstones. Given that Macondo is running "flat out", I would not be surprised if similar "wormholes" have been (and are still being) formed in the reservoir.

It really is amazing to see a well producing more than 15,000 barrels/day in North America.

This came off Mike Ruperts CollapseNet website. Is it as bad as this? Could it be true? If so are BP's efforts virtually pointless?

A credible source, highly-placed within the oil industry has told me that BP was drilling without a casing in the hours before the fatal disaster… to save money and time. That piece of information – which may or may not have been reported in the Babel of schizophrenic and conflicting news reports since April 20th – fits perfectly with news reports about how many leaks there actually are, how much oil they are spewing, and the so-called mysterious plumes devastating the Gulf.

The casing is a very strong cement structure built to house the drill string (shaft of the bit), the bit, and the drilling mud which makes it possible to extract crushed rock from the bore hole. It is much wider than the string because drilling mud is forced down through the center of the string and out the tip of the bit to recirculate back up to the surface inside the casing carrying debris with it. The only thing to prevent a loss of mud and a blowout once the oil and gas pocket is reached is the now infamous blowout preventer (BOP). The casing’s sole function is to keep the sides of the bore hole from collapsing inward. At the depths involved the lateral pressures on the bore hole are enormous.

Although I cannot say with certainty that there was no casing, what my source told me is supported by observable facts. They include, multiple (two and perhaps three) large leaks, widespread wreckage indicating a massive undersea explosion and secondary geologic ruptures and super-large plumes with apparent multiple origination points. It was this set of facts that I was analyzing when I was told about the casing. It fits.

Here’s what I think happened. Someone from BP overrode the objections of TransOcean and maybe even Halliburton and ordered drilling to proceed without the casing. We already know that a BP official had said to stop using mud and replace it with lighter water. As a result the bore hole collapsed in on itself and the softer sedimentary rock under great pressure filled the hole temporarily. But in so doing, it weakened the surrounding (porous) rock creating fissures and pockets which also filled very rapidly. Under enormous pressure the oil and liquid natural gas raced to fill in every crack and crevice, enlarging them and filling them with still more oil and gas, exerting more pressure and creating more cracks. The result became a giant, expanding, angry and explosive pimple of oil and gas which, when it overcame the rock, blew out a wide area around the rig. This would account for the fact that the riser has been universally reported to be almost a mile away from the bore hole.

Very early on, experts were remarking that the leaks were like “sticking a garden hose under pressure into a tub of pudding”. Nobody ran with those stories.

We know that Deepwater Horizon serviced more than one well. We also have multiple credible news reports of one and likely two separate leaks from another nearby wellhead and possibly a fissure. Because mainstream media reports have been so inconsistent it is hard to say anything with certainty except that there is more than one big leak. But the casing explanation does fit with these facts. There are huge geologic issues involved and this, above all else, is what I believe BP is hiding. So, by implication, is the United States government and every major news organization.

Also being hidden is the now obvious fact that BP’s use of the toxic dispersant Corexit was intended to hide as much of the oil as possible by keeping it away from the surface, causing much more damage to the ocean and life at all depths and levels of the food chain.

A month ago both I and Matthew Simmons, the world’s largest energy investment banker, told you that the flow rate was vastly more than 5,000 bpd. We were right. Coming from different places we both concluded that the flow rate was probably close to 100,000 bpd as has now been confirmed by several news organizations. (McClatchy has been doing a great job.) The reports of huge plumes in several different locations with multiple origins are also consistent with this explanation.

And the use of a nuclear device placed deep in the bedrock to melt the rocks and seal the whole may still be the only available option. In other words, BP is trying to stop a leak by trying to plug one hole in a dam that has just been hit by a shotgun blast. All the while patting themselves on the back and hoping you don’t see the other holes.

Like so many now, I believe the USG should nationalize BP immediately and put the Navy in charge. Every day the suffering of people in the Gulf becomes much more serious than the loss of a few weeks income. People are getting sick, and they’re getting pissed off at BP’s arrogant dissembling and ineffective spin. BP’s market capitalization has been cut in half as its stock plummets and it will never be able to repair or pay for the damage that continues to be done. I am convinced that BP is racing towards Chapter 11 due to its own stupidity and arrogance.

Only the naïve will cheer when BP goes bankrupt. People who have read me for years will stop and ask, “But wait, what about all those British, American and other pension funds around the world that are heavily invested in BP? Pension funds are going bust anyway. What happens to all those pensions? Who’s going to bail them out?

Until you change the way money works, you change nothing.


BP was drilling without a casing in the hours before the fatal disaster


...widespread wreckage indicating a massive undersea explosion

Reads more like the TV Movie of the Week, as in "Based on a True Story". Although the R. Limbaugh version -- environmental extremists blowing it up -- would be more entertaining.

Urk. I hate crud like this. I'll leave to others to pick apart, but it has so many idiotic flaws of physics, technical issues, logic, and misconceptions that it is just plain stupid. Whoever wrote it should be ashamed of themselves. Of course it will feed a certain set of conspiracy theorists desire.

I tried to log on to CollapseNet to get more info on the above and noticed you have to pay to read the articles. I can't believe that anyone would actually pay to read remarks from someone who is so uninformed how a well is drilled. But I guess as P T Barnham said, there is a sucker born every day.

I was trying to figure the positions of the ROVs, fail by the way and thanks to the poster that noted the ROVs use feet while I was working in meters :(, so I tried to look for the position of the BOP. Using Google to try and find the position gave me many different answers, boy that BOP moves around a lot. I am wondering if some of the speculation on the position of the BOP being 6 or 7 km away from the hole is due to this. The best explanation of why this is nonsense is the poster who pointed out that the BOP and riser had not flown up through the centre of the rig!

My personal feeling is that this is being trolled out as a wookie to get people distracted. Paying a lot of attention here is taking resources off what the real story is. My fear is it gaining traction and going up the ladder.


The ROV displays seem not to use consistent coordinate systems and to sometimes read in feet, sometimes in meters - may depend on the operators preference and who they are coordinating their task with. The ROV location readouts near the BOP generally match the location given in the well permit document for MC252 well B. The coordinate system most generally in use seems to be UTM, but one needs to know the specific projection being used in order to convert to lat/lon for instance. I am sure the ROV software can do this automatically. Most likely the coordinate system jives with what the Cost Guard and MMS use in the area for underwater locations. Accurate mapping is critical - but it is not a simple subject.

Why not keep it in UTM? It is independent on geodetic projections and every place on earth has a unique UTM location (apart from the overlap near zone boundaries). It also reads in meters so that you don't have to do any mental juggling in your head to get it into an intuitive measurement. It already is!

It only fails near the poles.

What CEOjr says below is correct Web - mapping appears simple and straightforward until you get to the details of trying to reconcile different mapping schemes or maps and imagery. These days it is generally done with specialized software, but you need to know the details of how a map was produced in order to accurately compare it to another map or mapping system. The point for this discussion is knowing the mapping system and projection used to locate underwater features in the GOM. It should be standardized for underwater development in the area - but I don't know the details. The well plan states 'lamber coordinates' [and also lists latitude and longitude], but the projection is not specified - it must be assumed and in general use for underwater development.

With my few years of mapping experience, any finding of a point on the globe is a study in layers of difficulty depending on the projection used to place a point on the globe. What you find is that below surface maps are not as good as above surface maps, and there are difficulties in converting UTM to Long/Lat, the math involved is not for the faint hearted.

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

This is confusing to me...

This says that the accident was a result of DRILLING without a casing. Yet, the blowout occurred AFTER the well was completed, and being readied to seal off, waiting for production piping to be laid to it later, is the understood timeline.

In other words, well after all drilling was done. Well design simply does NOT "accomodate" a bare hole punched in the rock as a production-ready well, nor can it be considered for capping off status at a point where you have nothing but a hole punched in rock. So, either the whole notion that the well was completed is a lie... or this is wild conjecture, it would seem.

Misinformation - just stupid/ridiculous really. A bottom cement plug had been set and they were preparing to set the top plug - in the cased hole.

Kind of like the "inside job" theories about the WTC...

"Kind of like the "inside job" theories about the WTC..."

In what way?

Those who question the 19 Muslim fanatics theory of 9/11 have real qualifications, compelling arguments and much hard evidence. If you doubt that take a look at this list of people who question the official conspiracy theory of 9/11.

Could a "Flag as silly" link be added to the mod system?

Fair enough, so it is rubbish. Which is good. However is the BOP the only source of the oil spill? Or has the well been breached in other places, either through the initial explosion, or through subsequent scouring? There are persistent reports of oil coming from elsewhere as well.

If so the relief wells will have to go below those breaches.

Rockman, I am going to put this in pdf and save it. I will print it out and keep it.
My confusion begins with what happened after the first negative pressure test came back as negative. After that, it's obivious something went horribly wrong as 11 souls perished in the explosions.
I don't know what changes will be brought to regulation yet.
I have been watching the live feeds and have learned a lot. I still wonder what I am looking a lot of the time.

Couldn't this have been substantially mitigated by having a failproof breakaway design and emergency blowout taps in the Riser? If the Riser had a failproof break-off beneath the rig and subsurface junction with 4-way adapter taps that could have new Risers attached to them in a blowout emergency then this could have all been solved easily and early. Regulations would require 4 processing ships to be on standby at all times. They could just hook-up to the taps and get all the oil without too much overload danger.

Also: Don't forget some of the 'experts' in here were chiding us just a few weeks ago that the flow was only 5-11,000 barrels and showing us the math for it. And some of the company shills were asking us "show us some evidence for a higher flow". Don't forget to put them in the book too (lol)...

"BP Official (Hofmeister) Admits to Damage Beneath the Sea Floor" (a bit of informed conjecture...)

Yesterday, recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister said that the well casing below the sea floor may have been compromised:

[Question] What are the chances that the well casing below the sea floor has been compromised, and that gas and oil are coming up the outside of the well casing, eroding the surrounding soft rock. Could this lead to a catastrophic geological failure, unstoppable even by the relief wells?

John Hofmeister: This is what some people fear has occurred. It is also why the "top kill" process was halted. If the casing is compromised the well is that much more difficult to shut down, including the risk that the relief wells may not be enough. If the relief wells do not result in stopping the flow, the next and drastic step is to implode the well on top of itself, which carries other risks as well.

As noted yesterday in The Engineer magazine, an official from Cameron International - the manufacturer of the blowout preventer for BP's leaking oil drilling operation - noted that one cause of the failure of the BOP could have been damage to the well bore:

Steel casing or casing hanger could have been ejected from the well and blocked the operation of the rams.

Oil industry expert Rob Cavner believes that the casing might be damaged beneath the sea floor, noting:

The real doomsday scenario here… is if that casing gives up, and it does come through the other strings of pipe. Remember, it is concentric pipe that holds this well together. If it comes into the formation, basically, you‘ve got uncontrolled [oil] flow to the sea floor. And that is the doomsday scenario.

Much more aggregated may all be conjecture, but it's at least some of the pieces pulled together.

Thanks for pulling this together. Obviously getting a handle on the dynamics of the flow is critical. Any thoughts on the possibility that Chris Landau's hypothesis is correct?

"oil is inorganic"? Carbon dating 100k years? Foolish ignorance mixed with rumor and unsupported conjecture.

Someone needs to press Thad Allen for the results of the seafloor survey and put a stop to the speculation with some clear information.

"Someone needs to press Thad Allen for the results of the seafloor survey and put a stop to the speculation with some clear information."

I agree. If what Simmons says is true, it could only be ignored by BP if there were Government complicity in concealing the truth. This would involve NOAA who have had the task of investigating reported oil plumes. Yet NOAA is headed by Jane Lubchenko, a distinguished scientist, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It seems inconceivable that she would be party to a cover up or that she would be unaware of it if there were a cover up.

What is disconcerting, though, is that so far as I am aware no reference has been made to Simmons' claims by representatives of either BP or the Government, despite the fact that Simmons has been widely reported in the mainstream media.

I agree, it would be a good thing for them to address this issue with a little bit of candor and put the wild speculation to rest.

Everyone should research the story of Eugene Island in the GOM.

I recently wrote about it here:

See how it fits together.

Anytime 'Homeland Security' becomes involved with an issue, especially one with national security overtones (energy production and dependence in this case) the potential for lack of clear information and 'dark areas' increases dramatically. Paranoia is a disease with many evil children.

I wouldn't be surprised if people are simply ignoring Simmons, because a lot of what he says makes no sense.

If someone's article says "You see oil is basically inorganic" you pretty much can dismiss the rest of what they say.

This event has sure brought out the kooks.

Well, yeah, my second instinct was to nav away because of the "inorganic" description (the first was to split when I read the apocalyptic title), but I wondered if some of the geological stuff he mentioned could be related in a causal way to higher flow.

The thermodynamic rationale he provides for his proposed mechanism for generation of oil and gas and coal is stunningly simplistic. There's almost nothing there.

That this paper was published in the proceedings of a regional conference of a non-academic organization does not mean that it has been rigorously reviewed by people who understand it and who care about what it says. Mr. Landau's ideas will deserve more respect after they're published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta or in the American Journal of Science or in the AAPG Bulletin.

I recall that anyone that pays dues to the American Physical Society can present abstracts to the annual APS meeting. I remember seeing lots of kooky abstracts to the APS, mostly by delusional geologists who would cram their abstract box with crazy drawings of plate tectonics,etc. Miniature bits of The Mentaculus.

I admit I was ready to scoff a bit at Hofmeister, as his primary experience is not from an engineering background, but I couldn't fault anything he said. However, the question that tried to imply that if the casing failed the relief well work would be useless was not really shot down. I haven't seen any scenario here or elsewhere that addresses this possibility at all. I could possibly see one relief well having an issue with the breakdown of the original borehole up shallow, but two relief wells working in concert should be able to control the flow even in the worst case scenario of a shallow breakdown of multiple casing strings.

That being said, I would have an _extra_ couple of boats filled with Haliburton's best cement on standby.

I highlighted another source pointing to the same theory in Drumbeat 6/10 and the open gulf thread on the same date but it did not get much response:

This adds some interesting information that adds some credence to Matt Simmons claim. An news story on MSNBC:

It includes a quote from an anonymous BP official that "We discovered things that were broken sub-surface...". It is reported that mud that was being pushed into the well was making it "out to the side" and "into the formation".

The interviewer reports that he has heard that BP experienced some type of failure during the top kill procedure that caused them quickly to shut it down Memorial Day weekend.

I'm not sure how Simmons' is concluding a leak 7 miles away, but it sure sounds like there is circumstantial evidence of a casing failure.

We have anoymous BP sources, John Hofmeister, and Matt Simmons saying something similar (I throw Matt in because what he is concluding about the well is very similar in concept: well casing and/or formation failure).

I think that there is something more to this story... but I'm shocked at how little members of TOD seem to want to seriously consider this and put their analytical minds into trying to figure it out.

I just watched a National Geographic Channel special on the Gulf oil spill (looking at the first 36 hours before the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon). They had some rather remarkable video footage from the first ROV at the wellhead when the rig was still attached to the riser pipe. I won't claim to fully understand what I was looking at … but it looks like the equipment on the sea floor was getting pushed and pulled, and was bouncing around with the riser pipe attached. I can't even imagine what this was doing to the wellhead. Here's a still from the video, and the part that is featured (I believe this is LMRP ... and I know the ROV is moving around in the currents too). Why isn't this video from the early hours of the blowout more widely available?

Why do you label him a "BP official?" He doesn't work for BP, he used to be Shell's president.

I've read dozens of comments over the past few weeks regarding the liklihood of damage to the integrity of the wellbore, many of them alluding to the fact that since the Top Kill op was terminated short of a successful outcome it may be that BP had determined that more mud was being pumped in than could be accounted for based on the relative lack of success of the effort. This assumption then has led many to conjecture that there is damage below the sea floor.

Now I have no good reason to question the possibility that there is indeed loss of integrity in the wellbore I do wonder about the logic leading to such conjecture.

Loss of back pressure due to leakage at the kinked riser location surely must be taken into account when assessing how much mud went where, and to get a fix on that it would seem to be necessary to have an accurate assessment of the rate of flow through those leaks.

Yet when oil was flowing through those leaks at the riser kink it was generally agreed to be well nigh impossible to get a very accurate determination.

Only if the discrepancy between mud pumped in and mud retained in the wellbore was great enough to trivialize the flow through the visible leaks would it seem that a good enough estimate could be arrived at to support such conjecture.

On the other hand if the outflow through the kink in the riser was indeed trivial in comparison to BP's calculated mud loss, then based on the considerable flow through the leaks in the riser wouldn't this imply a massive, catastrophic breach down below, something that would be setting lotsa folks' hair on fire?

Don't misunderstand: I am not saying I think there is a catastrophic failure in the casing - I am questioning whether conjectures about any failure in the casing should be taken to the bank based merely on the supposed "premature" stoppage of the Top Kill.

Disclaimer: My meager qualification to speak to logic is merely that I took (and, yea, passed) every logic course offered at Prof. Goose's institution when I majored there in philosophy back in the 60's. Not much, I know, but hey I read (pronounced "red") Russell/Whitehead and W.V.O. Quine, et al. On the other hand the old brain cells have 45+ more years on them now than then and sometimes I'm hard pressed to locate two to rub together so if anyone can straighten me out I won't holler.

Just don't club me, Rockman - that hurts. >;

Never mind. I think my problem may be moot and tentatively answered by something Cacadril mentioned, (115,200 b/d):

We have also seen the statement that they pumped mud at up to 80 barrels per minute during the top kill. 80/minute = 115,200/day. The latter figure could be reconciled with a moderate barrels per day oil leak assuming that the main pressure drop was taking place below the point of mud injection (e.g at the formation to well entry point). In that case the size of the openings in the BOP and riser would not be the limiting factor for the oil leak, but would still be the limiting factor for the mud loss. This could explain a much higher flow of mud than of oil/gas. But that would require the pressure at the well head to be much closer to the water pressure at the sea floor.

(OK Rockman, go get club.)

Not yet LT...never bash a newbie until I can really make it hurt. Some of these problems just can't be resolved. My 3 cohorts and I are trying to resolve a production problem with an onshore well. Over 130 years of oil field experience between us and we're helpless to explain what we're seeing. And the other guys are even smarter than me...beleive it or not.

OT except for mention of Cassandra: Here's an important reference document on the value of Florida's coastal & ocean economy.

The exec summary on p. 7-8 says Florida’s coastal economy generated almost $562B in 2006 and Florida’s ocean economy contributed $25B in 2005. There's further $ breakdown into categories of fishing industry, marine transportation, coastal construction, the cruise industry, real estate, seasonal housing, marine research and education, and coastal recreation.

This report was released at the time state leaders were pushing to create a Florida offshore oil industry. Key political leaders were visited to introduce the report with the polite message that the coastal/ocean economy was very important to the state, "so whatever you do, don't screw up what we already have." IMO this messsage was politely ignored, but the campaign to drill (no closer than 3 miles offshore!) has gone quiet recently, so maybe Cassandra has been heard.

Maybe this demonstrates Florida's big problems.

According to the Excel file available from here, Florida's entire 2006 GDP was $613.6B. Your $562B is for the "shoreline counties only" (bottom of p.9), which makes it 96 bloody percent of the economy. What are the non-coastal counties doing, or rather not doing, to account for only 4%? They surely hold more than 4% of the population.

On top of that, much of your $562B is discretionary fluff, finance/real-estate, tourism, and the like, much of which in turn is expendable. Even in a perfectly reasonable scenario where the mad borrowing boom of the last few decades merely can't continue quite as it was, having an economy largely rooted in fluff doesn't bode well for the future.

Looks like a large portion of Florida is coastal counties. Anyway, no one moves to Florida to NOT be somewhere close to the beach.

Obviously. But looking closer now, it looks like about 42 coastal, and about 28 not coastal. Not 24:1. Even if the interior counties have only a couple hundred thousand people apiece, that puts them well over 4% of the population. And a lot of the coastal population is just sitting around waiting to die, not producing anything. So the interior ought to be more than pulling its own weight rather than far less. This only reinforces my initial impression that the economy is largely expendable fluff.

Tourism is 1st by a long shot, then I think agriculture - oranges, strawberries, avocados, etc - import/export to South/Latin America, phosphate mining, construction, etc

Our economy in Florida is based on our Maids cleaning your rooms for 9 bucks an hour. That's why we hate them damn oil wellz.

That's exactly the way I was kinda figuring it. The numbers suggest that there's a bit of a real economy but not very much. So, without enough of them damn oil wellz, the affluence that makes it possible for people to go to Florida and employ those Maids won't be what it used to be, and then neither will the fluff-driven employment, such as it is. Worse still, the bulk of the tourists - including all of the free-spending German ones - fly in. Oil: in the short to medium term, can't live with it, can't live without it.

South West FL real estate impact of Oil Spill

Given the threat to livelihoods all along the northern coast of the gulf and the environmental devastation it may seem trite to talk about real estate values in SWFL. Ft Myers was ground zero in the real estate crisis and Marco/Naples were among the most inflated markets in the US during the housing boom. They are far from having recovered with prices half (+-) of what they were and now the threat (perceived threat) of oil coming to their shores will likely undermine the very feeble recovery that has been starting to take hold. Who would invest in real estate anywhere along the Florida Gulf coast at this point?

This from a real estate agent in Collier County on June 2 to their clients

(I give it a week to ten days before serious talk by economists and pundits begins to take place of the BP spill triggering a double dip recession in the US)

If the current high estimate of 40,000 bpd is assumed as a given (for now), does anyone have a handle on what percentage of that could actually be captured by the new containment system planned?

I anticipate that waiting for the relief well will be as painful as anything we've seen thus far.

August/September is a long way off.

Peter B.


between 40,000 and 50,000 by mid July according to Thad Allen

NASA has continued to post some imagery of the slick on their 'natural hazards' page:

The main surface slick seems to be slinging off stringers and clots mainly to the east.

Rockman: Ahh yes. kinda like making a good oiler/rigger out of an account type.They learn enough to be dangerous. that danged human nature of ours is always present,isn't it?

My uncle graduated from college with a degree in accounting during the height of the depression. Naturally there were no jobs for accountants so he went to work for Halliburton as a truck driver/cement guy. Ended up as VP of Halliburton North American operations when he retired. Needless to say he knew how it all worked from the ground up.

I have always said that any engineer that is hired on by an automobile company should spend two years as a mechanic in their dealership network before going to corporate to design vehicles. I guarantee you the cars would not be so impossible to work on.

Absolutely - as my scarred knuckles and mechanical vocabulary (including many special phrases) can readily attest!

Most of the compromises in auto design that make them difficult to work on are due to the stylists demanding that the car have a particular shape that precludes reasonable access to the engine compartment.

They also need to design the metal shell so that the car will take a quarterlight impact into a bridge abutment at 50mph and leave the occupants shaken but unbloodied. A frontal impact of any significant energy should cause the engine to go under the car (so-called submarining), not through the passenger compartment. The frontal area of the car is dressed in the design stage so that hitting a civilian at a crosswalk won't amputate their legs or punt them into the path of an oncoming bus. After all of that access to the major parts of the engine is given some consideration, but not much. Nowadays engines tend to last the life of the car without major work needing done to them -- no ring jobs, big end replacements, decokes etc. Most of the fluids and regular maintenance items can usually be accessed from the top with the lid open, anything else significant is shop work these days -- no user-serviceable parts inside. For most modern cars a lot of shop work is done from underneath today meaning you need ramps, engine lifts etc.

The day of the shade-tree mechanic is pretty much over except for classic cars and hobbyists. The demands of safety and fuel economy as well as reliability means car engines today are just too complex for the average person to do major work on them.

Another reason I bought a 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D with manual transmission !

No computers (but archaic pneumatic systems !), roll down windows, basic functionality. And actually quite easy to work on once one understand Teutonic engineering.

Fuel economy ? 28 to 30 mpg in the city. 30 mpg evacuating for Katrina (8-9 hours stop & go driving).

Best Hopes for Simplicity, ad wearing out before my car does,


"They also need to design the metal shell so that the car will take a quarterlight impact into a bridge abutment at 50mph and leave the occupants shaken but unbloodied."

Ah, yes. The American answer to highway safety: safe crashing.

Regarding, "So how does one install a different attitude in those who work to produce the fuel that we all need? To a degree, it has to be done through the imposition of regulations that enforce the concept of safety in daily working life."
Clearly, energy isn't alone in their failure to establish regulations which address how their business is conducted. Financial institutions designed instruments that were never tested in the real world, Toyota's new accelerator technology was sold before it had been proved in millions of miles of application and the flaws in most products tend to result when marketing or production ask for a solution which may demand standards that are not communicated to engineers or designers. There is a gap between how risk is perceived by various parties and the strictest standards (NASA?) or regulations from the best intentioned provide guidelines on how to avoid the previous or last known failures.
We know we probably can't forecast when failures will occur let alone why-how one or more parts of a system will fail. But we also know that a catastrophe from a nuclear failure will be greater than Titanic sinking and a glitch in the power grid will dwarf any 19th Century industrial accident. Simply put, the consequences of mistakes are greater but our inability to anticipate hasn't changed.

There is a gap between how risk is perceived by various parties and the strictest standards (NASA?) or regulations from the best intentioned provide guidelines on how to avoid the previous or last known failures.

At least as a broad-brush one-size-fits-all proposition, I certainly hope so. Most of us couldn't afford anything conforming honestly to the almost infinitely expensive persnicketiness of NASA-like standards. Sorry, but life cannot feasibly be made absolutely free of all risk.

It has almost nothing to do with standards and everything to do with the culture of the organization. Read the Shuttle accident reports and you will understand that despite having very strong engineering discipline, management pressure can override everything.

I am boned. When did this change?

I have not seen such a gloomy prediction for me here in Gulf Shores, Alabama yet. After the soccer match, I plan to post photos for all to see what such a projection means on the beach in this case. Go Team USA, beat those polluting, Tony Hayward loving, BP owning Limeys. I still treasure our close alliance, but it is game day.

Latest word from on Alabama beaches

ADPH Further Expands Precautionary Advisories for Swimming

The Alabama Department of Public Health has expanded advisories due to the increased presence of oil in coastal areas. Public Health is posting advisories not to swim in Bayou St. John, Terry Cove, Cotton Bayou, Old River or in Alabama waters west of the Dauphin Island Bridge, also known as Mississippi Sound.

The Alabama Department of Public Health previously had advised individuals not to swim in Alabama gulf waters or in bay waters immediately adjacent to Fort Morgan.

Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer, said, "These are precautionary measures to protect the public's health. We will continue to monitor the situation and reassess the need for further advisories should the situation change."

Signs will be posted at access points to the affected bodies of water. Residents should take the following additional precautions.

Protective Measures

* Avoid direct skin contact with the oil.
* If you get oil or tar balls on your skin, wash with soap and water.
* Launder clothing as usual if you get oil on it.
* There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing, and it is discouraged.

Food Advisories

* If a fish smells or tastes like oil, do not eat it.
* Wash hands before eating.


Some people also may be sensitive to any change in air quality, which could cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or headaches. If you have these symptoms, authorities recommend you consider staying indoors, ventilating your home with air conditioning, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity. If these symptoms do not improve, you should then consider contacting your primary care physician or other health care provider for medical advice. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness, you should consider communicating with your physician if you feel symptomatic.

Updated information will be available at

Swim hell, look at my photos and you will see folks fishing around oil slicks. These are not commercial fisherpersons, trophy fisherpersons, or scientists collecting samples. I am betting these folks intend to check the fish and if they detect no petroleum, they plan to eat them. The officials could care less if they were recreational shore fishing. Maybe a last hurrah, but the waters were closed. We have officially become a third world country.

The waters were closed to fishing and the address link for location is below as well as my photobucket with time and date stamps.

It's a challenge to keep people from fishing. Parts of the SF Bay are contaminated with mercury that is still leeching off of tailings from a mine active during the gold rush. There are signs in a multitude of languages warning against consumption above a certain frequency or by children or pregnant women in any amount, but there are still guys out there fishing away.

Some people also may be sensitive to any change in air quality, which could cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or headaches. If you have these symptoms, authorities recommend you consider staying indoors, ventilating your home with air conditioning, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity. If these symptoms do not improve, you should then consider contacting your primary care physician or other health care provider for medical advice. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness, you should consider communicating with your physician if you feel symptomatic.

See! Told ya. I told a new commenter from Kansas that he had a good case 2 weeks ago and folks laughed and laughed. Ha!

See ya in court guys!

Is this entire thread an example of the Bargaining Stage ?

I'm not trying to be a troll - I love the content of this thread. I'm just trying to figure out where we as a community are in terms of the Stages of Grief. Pre-peak oil this shortage of experienced personnel might be considered a relatively "normal" (but painful) cyclical event.

But if we are entering the Post-peak oil world economy, might this personnel problem be a symptom of "Catabolic Collapse"? And our discussions about this symptom an example of "bargaining"?

Feel free to flag as inappropriate if so inclined.

Something to be looked at, and you may be right.

"Is this entire thread an example of the Bargaining Stage?"

Somewhere along the continuum between denial and bargaining, perhaps.

I've observed, for well over a decade, now, that those with the most detailed knowledge of the industry and the resource base—"insiders"—must often deal with difficult conflicts, both cognitive and emotional, when dealing with the real ("externalized") costs of extraction/production/consumption *and* when confronting peak oil (quite likely, peak energy) and depletion.

It must be really tough, and yet we wouldn't have a fraction of the understanding of the problems that we do have, if it weren't for the work of insiders—Hubbert, Campbell, Laherrere... I'll stop because my brain is filling with names and even if I filled the post with more, I'd miss really important ones.

Also, in discussions like these, there are often liberal ;^) sprinklings of assertions from people who have confused economics with science and philosophy with reality. Those folks cling to what is actually a religious point of view and are major sources of the threads of denial that run through these ongoing virtual conferences.

TOD has done/is doing a better job than most at keeping all of this in balance. It maybe impossible to do it better without restricting membership and moderating the forum. Frankly, I usually prefer that model, but at this point in time, in the midst of the biggest/longest "teachable moment" since we've had a widely-accessible Internet as a teaching tool, TOD is *the* forum that counts.

"Somewhere along the continuum between denial and bargaining, perhaps."

That sounds about right to me. And I agree TOD is an excellent forum, I wouldn't change a thing.

Sometimes it is very hard to tell what is "bargaining" and what is merely intelligent consideration of various options and the viability of each.

For myself, half the time I wonder if most of my plans are nothing more than "bargaining."

I'd like to see this Question answered under oath by BP officials - Would you shut off this well if such a device can be fitted to the BOP, or do you have any knowledge that doing so would result in uncontrolled leakage from the well casing? Every solution proposed by BP so far involves a constant drawdown from the well. No solution proposed involves shutting the well down. It certainly makes me suspicious that some of the theories about improper cementing of the well have creedence. However, I want to note that if BP is in fact interested in capping this well, that it is a daunting task. The BOP flange appears to measure about 36 in. in diameter. A device sealing at this dia. would be subject to approx. 1100 sq. in. times the pressure differential at this depth. 100 psi would be 110,000 lbs trying to lift the device off the BOP flange, and 1000 psi would be 1,100,000 lbs. That's why the cap currently in use has big open chimney holes in it, and doesn't even try to contain more than a fraction of the oil & gas pouring out of the well.

I think there are various BOP type valves and diverters that would bolt right on to that flange. Right off the shelf, probably sitting in a warehouse in NOLA or Houston. No engineering and fabrication required.

As has been mentioned here many, many times, there is a high probability that sealing the well at the top (by closing off the BOP shears, adding a new BOP and closing it, top kill, Big Plug, whatever) would rupture the casing underground, spilling oil into the seabed and who knows where else. There's a lot of concern that the casing/liner below the BOP somewhere is damaged and wouldn't be able to withstand the pressure created by sealing the well at the top. That's why they are putting their faith into the relief wells, which will seal it at the bottom, near the reservoir itself; the damaged area would be above the plug created by the relief well, and isolated from the pressures below it.

(Note that all the above is what I've come to understand from reading here from people who've forgotten a hell of a lot more about this subject than I will ever learn, and if any of them want to correct my description, please do so.)

"I'd like to see this Question answered under oath by BP officials - Would you shut off this well if such a device can be fitted to the BOP, or do you have any knowledge that doing so would result in uncontrolled leakage from the well casing?"
Has their preemption of killing it (after the sixteen hour pause) been explained? Some have speculated they discovered some damage down line and more mud/more pressure over more time would diminish the chance for success. Remember, this was the second well at the same location after the first attempt failed. Some of the crew claim it was cursed but there may have been a general inability to mitigate malfunctions with known equipment and procedures. It's a poor analogy but when the DC-10 (UA 232) suffered an uncontained fan disk failure in flight which ruptured critical hydraulic lines, it required a redesign & incorporated hydraulic fuses to prevent such catastrophic loss of control in event of a hydraulic rupture. Perhaps the weak link in this well (or a well at this location) is well below the mudline.

I am curious about the air quality along the Gulf Coast -- can residents smell the oil? As crude oil continues to flow and the summer heat builds will this become a health problem?


It is not that bad around here at all. There is probably a slight charcoal starter smell, but I got used to it on the first day.

Here is the location in many of my videos and photos. If you post questions under my comment I will give firsthand answers to you.,+Gul...

My flickr and photobucket pages have about a week's worth of video and photos

Doesn't look too bad....

Are the beaches open for swimming?

Oh, holy s***!

At WashingtonMonthly, Steve Benen was just discussing a Ron Brownstein story about the Innovation Council's "mayday manifesto" on the need for research into clean-energy technologies. Brownstein, in part:

Without such a commitment, they warned, the United States will remain vulnerable to energy price shocks; continue to "enrich hostile regimes" that supply much of the United States' oil; and cede to other nations dominance of "vast new markets for clean-energy technologies." ...

The council frames the need for a new energy direction as being as much of an economic imperative as an environmental one. It calls for a national energy strategy centered on a $16 billion annual federal investment in energy research -- as much, the group pointedly notes, as the United States spends on imported oil every 16 days.

Equally important, the group urges that government catalyze the development of energy alternatives by sending "a strong market signal" through such mechanisms as mandates on utilities to produce more renewable energy or "a price or a cap" on carbon emissions. Such a cap is precisely what the Senate resolution sought to block. But the business leaders said that it is one of the policies that could "create a large, sustained market for new energy technology."

One of the council's key insights was to recognize that expanded energy research and limits on carbon (or other mandates to promote renewable power) are not alternative but complementary policies: One increases the supply of new energy sources; the other increases demand for them.

Hard to beat that as a worthy application of education and expertise, no?

Concrete containment of old Blow Out Preventer (BOP),

to create new well head at the top of the concrete containment with clean tight fittings where a new set of valves and controls can be fitted with no leaks.

I'm betting the following proposal has already been made.
However since I'm very overloaded just now, I'll ask for forgiveness and post this idea.

Brief design thoughts.
1. A turbine suction pump to be fitted to the top of the old BOP to create sufficient suction to stop all leaks down the old BOP while they are temporally plugged with sealant of some kind. Test this step can be achieved before proceeding.
2. Foundations at the sea floor to support the structure to encase the old BOP
3. Design an encasement tube to easily fit over the old BOP from bottom to top. This tube is to hold the concrete and is filled with reinforcing steel, over designed to easily contain any possible well pressure.
4. Run the turbine suction pump from point 1 above, have the rov's add sealant to all the old BOP leaks, mainly to prevent concrete from flowing in.
5. Keep the turbine suction pump running as the containment tube from step 3 above is lowered over the old BOP, secured to it's foundations and then filled with concrete.
6. When the concrete is cured and strong, remove the turbine pump and fit the new top of the concrete encasement (of the old BOP) with a very strong leak proof lid.

This lid would be very strong, designed to easily contain all possible well pressures.
The lid would have controllable ports to help exit any water that got in during installation and a fitting(s) on the top for a new set of well control valves, measurement equipment etc.
This new well head could have more than one large pipe at the top, allowing control valves to be fitted and instrumentation sent down the well for analysis (perhaps when full of mud). These top pipes could be designed so that standard equipment can be lowered into the new well head (i.e. connection angles not too sharp and smooth).

Now the new well head can be completely controlled.

When all is in place, slowly close down the flow of the well monitoring pressures at the new well head.

If the pressure matches expected pressure from the well as measured during drilling, then the well may not be leaking (much) between the oil reservoir to the new well head.
On the other hand, if the pressure does not match, there may be some leaks. I'm assuming that known techniques could verify if leaks exist or not.

Mud could be tried again as an additional test for leaks between the reservoir and the new well head or to seal off the well head.

If there are leaks, then setup the well to receive the full flow of the well on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, when the full flow of the well can be easily received at the surface, add a turbine vacuum pump designed to add suction to the top of the well head and stop or reduce the leak between the reservoir and the well head (assuming one have been found).

If mud can fill the well and stop the flow, then concrete could be piped to the bottom of the well (using something like a drill pipe) and used to plug the well from the bottom up.

or, perhaps the well is in good shape and can be use to help pay for all the damage caused.

Again, apologies if this is a repeat idea.

You mean they might construct something with 10" thick steel walls and big enough to go around the whole thing

I like the idea, too.

Can someone explain the engineering behind the overshot?

How does it "attach?" What is the logic behind the size/weight? If it weihgs 75 tons, what will support it? Will it accomplish 100% flow capture while providing a safe pressure buffer?

Thanks for any info!

syncro, You don't ask for much do you? We just got out first look at it a few hours ago, I'm astounded by it's size & weight.

Right, what will support it?

You can look at BP's diagrams, but I think that is the floating riser part that vessels can hook on to at 300 ft depth. I don't think that is the part that connects to the existing BOP stack.

Thanks for responding! I'm sorry if the request was asking a bit much, just an indication of my level of confidence in the TOD knowledge base. I thought maybe someone might have run into some info on it.

And James, I do think that mother replaces the LMRP, based on a quick check of google:

"Separately, a thick-walled vessel called an “overshot tool” will be placed around the lower marine riser package cap to contain more of the oil expected to continue leaking from the seal. ... 'The overshot tool replaces that cap as a longer-term option. It's more robust and sits on better,' BP's Pack said."

From another source:

"That option, which will be ready later this month, includes a heavier, better sealing cap called an "overshot tool" to replace the LMRP cap."


"By the end of the month, it planned to replace the newly installed capping device with one called an “overshot tool,” which is heavier and more tightly sealed. The tool would not only direct the escaping oil from the runaway well to a containment ship, but also be outfitted with a containment drum, so that oil collection would not be completely interrupted if a hurricane forced the ship to leave the area."

I would add that i have two guesses.

1. the weight is to counter-act the buoyancy effect of the oil/gas/pressure so that it can contain enough oil/gas volume to allow for higher recover rate, no water incursion and better pressure regulation.

2. They're afraid the bop is going to blow and this will help hold everything in place. :~D

But what will it sit on? Wouldn't that weight resting on the BOP make it more vulnerable not less, such as leaning off-center, more stress on the concrete, etc.

See, problem solved in one 16mm clip - surely some clever geneticists at oh, say, Tulane University, could splice us up some newfangled oysters that scarf up any available hydrocarbons to secrete plastic shells...

That clip was very interesting.

Corporate Problem: New off-shore oil exploration is killing local Oyster beds.

Corporate Solution: Create biased/fake scientific study for PR value, blame problem on a mix of natural climatic changes, insufficient salt water and a fungus, while making the false claim that oysters love oil and drilling mud, "never had it better!" Thrown in a bit of, what an incredible favor big oil did for those ungrateful, stupid oyster fishermen.

Take "we're killing their oysters" and turn it into "we're saving they're oysters." Problem solved.

Such cynical scenarios are not at all uncommon in the anals of corporate PR legend. Did you know more doctors smoke Camels!

in the anals of corporate PR legend.

A most delicious Freudian slip. ;-)

Sigh. Actually I did know from personal experience that doctors - and nurses - smok(ed) like the chimneys on a 1960s social-studies book. One of the very smokiest venues I ever performed at was the on-premises staff Christmas party at one of the local hospitals, which remained a dense, choking blue haze (not recommended by voice coaches) until the early 90s - some years after many private businesses had been limiting smoking to designated rooms or banning it.

Those partiers were the professionals, supposedly trained and well-capable of discounting banal flack PR - and that was almost three decades after the 1964 Surgeon General's report, surely time enough for it to sink in! Is it any wonder, then, that they couldn't get their patients to stop?

Physician, heal thyself. Would that such matters involved only corporate PR built on thin air and foisted upon naïve fools, and not any deeper aspects of human nature. If only it were that simple, it would be so much easier to deal with them.

So who thinks our chances to win this soccer match are much better than recovering our losses from BP and its shareholders. BP is a Green Devil and for today Team England is too.

How do I make the whole picture clickable to source image?

I think Green felt guilt about what BP has done to the US and thereby...let the US goal go in for the tie.

If it holds, BP should send him a $10 million dollar check.

Edit: Yes, it is funny that a man named Green in a green uniform helped us tie and stay in, go Team USA. Is it possible for a England-US Group Final?

Tony looks tired and troubled, a man haunted by not having his life back.

This photo was ripped off from a 2008 'Green' energy conference. It took me an hour to find a high resolution photo of him. He obviously controls his image well. I wish I would get sued, as I live in Gulf Shores Alabama and I would become a hero if I did. I do not care if the man gets kicked in the bollocks as they say over there. I want everybody's Gulf back. Remember the Macondo 11.

Remember how all the MSM and blogs that were going crazy over the big black oil plumes found by the Pelican?

From NOAA:
R/V Pelican (LUMC)

A NOAA-supported research mission aboard the Pelican, owned by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, was conducted May 2-16. Water column samples provided to NOAA and analyzed by Louisiana State University indicated no detectable hydrocarbons (smaller than parts per billion range). However, the sample storage practices were not consistent with EPA guidance, so the results are not considered valid for analysis, and will not be used.

So these are the type of folks who are going to solve the problems?

I believe the 8 NOAA supervised cruises that did follow EPA guidelines also only found PPB.

It makes no sense to me either. They should be allowed close enough to acquire some samples which DO contain oil, follow the subsurface currents, and map the dispersion. As far as I can tell, someone is refusing to do this.

The F S Walton Smith team has found visible oil in a plume, and they have been working at "ground zero". See Dr Samantha Joye's blog:

Let's see what is actually in all the data samples after they are analyzed. The are all sorts of samples already taken and analyzed from less than 1km -30 km away and down through the whole water column and still no big "plume". Seems like a fair number of cruise folks are under pressure to rush things and then have to edit their data and reports. Finding oil near ground zero would be no surprise.Not the same as what than been circulated in the media stories.

Diverdan, you are welcome to your opinions, and I look forward to reading them, but you are stepping over the line here and creating your own facts. The researchers, not "cruise folks", working the spill have found and described significant plumes of hydrocarbons from this spill, as has been repeatedly noted on TOD. If you disagree about the severity of a ppb concentration, fine, but diverdan doesn't get to define what a "plume" is.

Any citations on the research teams rushing things? Or having to edit data in some scandalous way? You are smearing folks who know more than you do about this problem, and who are working long hours in hard conditions to benefit the rest of us.

If you read the NOAA/USF report you would have seen the original post had wrong units and only after pointed out by some (perhaps here) was changed. The Pelican made news because of their use of term plume was not the press definition. They made the the mistakes of allowing interviews before they analyzed the data. The data showed minimal amounts of oil. (1000 times lower than EPA and levels for offshore discharges an water levels). So what is a plume?. First, it was used to describe the riser leaking oil and is used as such in the flow team report. The news media have actually called the oil slick a plume in there descriptions in some release and like many here talk about a big cloud of oil filling the Gulf.
The "plume" that is making the news below the surface has been "sensationalized " to quote the EPA document on water data studies. EPA/NOAA have said the public's perception of a plume and what is really going on as far as oil concentrations are totally unrelated. Only time and rigorous long term testing are going to tell us the long term effects. Blasting out some early numbers that the public can't understand before they they have been checked, rechecked and put into regional models IMHO is not good science.

BP was destroyed on this site because Unified Command agreed to give an estimate of 5000 BOPD (Turns out it started with a coast guard captain as per Admiral Allen in press conference last week) with high uncertainty. A certain professor taking minimal data and ignoring basic information stated to congress that the flow could be 100 K BOPD. As a scientist (and my scientists and academia engineering friends agree)this was unprofessional and political.
When the flow team was gathered I predicted they would not be able to come up with and exact number in short time. Note the iterations they have made and the ranges even with all this time. The pressure to find a flow rate quickly was only political as this spill and aftermath will be dealt with for a long time. They could have taken as much time as needed.
It is amusing to see folks (who are rightfully upset about the spill and should be) blast one group of people who are working 24/7 (and who as a group or as individuals probably had nothing to do with what happened on the Horizon) be accused of incompetence and dragging their feet and are attacked for many issues that are flat out false while people who are spending extra time taking samples and getting lab analysis are held to a lower standard.
It will be interesting to see just how this all plays out and what the data sets show over time.I just hope the Gulf Coast gets spared this Hurricane season. Been through those and had too many friends hit in La,, Florida and Texas the last several years.(Good thing forecasters aren't always right ) And perhaps this choke line can get the rest of the oil so the hot summer sun along with aggressive surface and shore work can clean up this mess.


BP was destroyed on this site because Unified Command agreed to give an estimate of 5000 BOPD

A minor or secondary cause of the disrepute with which BP management is held.

I think their history of multiple felonies had more impact on their reputation here (MSM is behind the curve of this story IMHO).

The pressure to find a flow rate quickly was only political as this spill and aftermath will be dealt with for a long time.

It is also essential engineering data for myriad VERY important reasons, like getting enough processing top-side.

Blasting out some early numbers that the public can't understand before they they have been checked, rechecked and put into regional models IMHO is not good science.

MUCH more importantly, it will help BP PR manage the public perception with less of these pesky independent observations and science. Yes, lets QUADRUPLE check everything, after recalibration twice or thrice.

Please note that this data restraint management does NOT apply to Tony and BP. He can claim that no plumes exist, the Gulf is big and leak small, that ppb of oil are meaningless/harmless, etc. Restraint ONLY applies to non-BP observers.


However, while diverdan doesn't get to define what a "plume" is, the media reports repeatedly leave the impression of a plume of fairly pure crude oil dozens of miles long, many miles wide, and many hundreds of feet thick. That's an implausible lot of oil, rather different from a similar volume contaminated with 100, 500, or even 1000 parts per billion. Isn't this all bad enough without the need for histrionic exaggeration?

I am not particularly shocked that they would find oil in the water while working within eyesight of the Discoverer Enterprise.

Pressures up to 10,000 psi at the well head.

We have also seen the statement that they pumped mud at up to 80 barrels per minute during the top kill. 80/minute = 115,200/day. The latter figure could be reconciled with a moderate barrels per day oil leak assuming that the main pressure drop was taking place below the point of mud injection (e.g at the formation to well entry point). In that case the size of the openings in the BOP and riser would not be the limiting factor for the oil leak, but would still be the limiting factor for the mud loss. This could explain a much higher flow of mud than of oil/gas. But that would require the pressure at the well head to be much closer to the water pressure at the sea floor.

I do not understand the geometry of the choke and kill lines. Can somebody explain? I have not seen any description of the difference between the choke and kill lines. Why do they have these names? What are their purpose under normal procedures?

They now plan to capture additional oil and gas through them. If the main interest is to produce and sell oil, it makes sense. If the point is to reduce the losses to the sea, it would only make sense if the principal pressure drop happens below the point where the the choke and kill lines communicate with the well and BOP cavities. But that contradicts 10,000ps at well head.

As I understood the description of the top kill and junk shot procedures, the top kill depends on a restriction in the flow path between the choke/kill lines and the sea. I understood that the choke/kill lines communicate with the regions below the shear rams, and I assumed that the shear rams were the point of the largest pressure drop, i.e. the narrowest part of the flow path. In that case the mud was not essentially pumped into open sea (through wide open holes in riser), but into a high-pressure region below the main path constriction. The 10,000psi figure fits well here. In this case, the oil/gas flow should be comparable to the mud flow, or a oil+gas+water flow comparable to 100,000 bpd.

What am I missing? I cannot square the numbers!

texican: no offense intended. My Ol' Dad went thru the depression and, after the War, got a business degree from the U of Wyo, and he was the best darned dragline operator I've ever been around. Taught me my trade well.

Write your Congress-people (including State reps) and demand that the people of the United States have complete access (via media video, pictures, interviews, etc) to the oil spill disaster area and to all pertinent technical data whether produced by government, industry, or non-profit organizations.

There is no justification for keeping secrets from our is our country.

I need to borrow some of westexasfanclub's "Oh holy s***!" right here. Mac McClelland's going to win herself a Peabody Award or get herself shot, one.

I want someone to—
[1] fill a swimming pool with saltwater
[2] put a dozen fish in it
[3] dump oil in the pool
[4] dump dispersant in the pool
[5] watch the fish for 4 days and see if they die

If they do then PLEASE stop the dispersants

Secondly the dispersants make it harder to collect the oil not easier but the dispersants do make it harder for us to see it. hehe

That won't tell you much. You must do this:

[1] fill a swimming pool with saltwater
[2] put a dozen fish in it
[3] feed them and see if they live for four days
[4] repeat this many times
[5] go back and do steps 1-3, but add oil after the fish
[6] repeat many times
[7] go back and do steps 1-3, but add dispersant after the fish
[8] repeat many times
[9] go back and do steps 1-3, but add dispersant and oil after the fish
[10] repeat many times
[11] do it all again, varying all ingredients in multiple ratios
[12] publish results, encouraging other to do the same experiments
[13] apply for a NIH grant for a new pool
[14] wait for Glenn Beck to mock you on FOX News

How much oil and how much dispersant?

BTW - I could also dump cyanide in the pool, but unless I was carefully replicating what is _known_ to be in the natural enviornment - It would be nothing but a waste of time.

The approximate volume of the Gulf of Mexico is 6.43 * 10^17 gallons. Not the whole ocean, the Gulf of Mexico.

The estimated top rate of the oil leak is about 800,000 gallons a day. But let's assume the most outlandish recent estimate: 2 million gallons a day.

An Olympic swimming pool is about 660,000 gallons.

If the oil leak lasted 20 years at 2 million gallons a day, it would be the equivalent of pouring about 2 ounces of oil into that swimming pool.

The dispersant is being deployed (last I heard) at an EPA limit of 15,000 gallons a day. Run that for 20 years in the Gulf and you get the equivalent of about 9 drops of dispersant from an eyedropper into that swimming pool (assuming about 600 drops per ounce).

There may be local damage to the environment, particularly in places like marshes, but the Gulf itself is a big place.

My bet is the two relief wells are using the same type of BOP the original well was using.

Does anyone think I am wrong and if so why-?

It makes sense they are using the same style BOP, Hopefully they are using something that will actually work if need be. Question: Assuming the same risks are present as in the first well, Will extreme caution and attention to detail prevent another catastrophe? Specifically, How will they manage the extreme pressure once the drill punches into the reservoir?

just my 2 cents ...

1-there are no extreme presures involved here.....the drilling parameters for the blownout well were not extreme ...infact 70% of DW wells have trickeir engineering involved ...if at all a case can be made the drill team got too lax in thier apporach based on the routiness of the well.

2-same goes for the RW's....there are no extreme pressures involved....

3- they will not punch into the reservior....a production well punches into a reservior...a RW punches in the leaking this case the RW will try to intersect the leaking well at 18000' rkb

4- so essentially both RW's will be in drill mode (regular drilling operations) until they reach to within a 1000' of the leaking well when the intersection team from boots and coots will take over and the operations will go into whats called ranging mode....

5- the 1000' when the intersection team takes over ....this 1000' is called the ranging zone ...which will allow the intersection team to guide the RW's to intersect the leaking well....this is the ONLY tricky part here.....because the only data they have they have are wellbore surveys and the intersection team will supplement that with PMR and RGR by vector magnetics ....essentially sending electrical current pulses in the leaking wellbore csg to generate a magnetic field and use sensors in the RW's to pick up these magnetic fields and guide the RW to intersection

6- things will switch from ranging mode to intersection mode and they will run a milling bit and time drill into the csg .....

once pressure communications are established ...the intersection mode is done they will attempt a bottom kill

5) With active magnetics, you can pick up casing as far away as 200', from what I've recently read.

6) My guess is there'll be a decision point when the near borehole is reached, as one of two scenarios will be very apparent
a) In the blowout well, the casing shoe failed because of the water in the casing, or the casing collapsed and the flow is only up the inside of the 7" casing
b) The original cement job was "insufficient" (too little, too foamy, too contaminated) and the formation fluids are going up only around the outside of the casing
c) A combination of a) and b) which is hard to imagine but I'm including it anyway. Hard to imagine because you'd have to then declare which came first and explain the physical forces that caused the other.

If the case is b), which is what I believe based on a healthy skepticism of all things having to do with trust in your casing cementers and poor engineering failsafes,

they'll never have to (nor will they wish to) mill directly into the casing of the blowout well.

They will work with the electric logs and determine the best shale unit to be in when they encounter the blowout well bore. This will be some distance above the productive formations and below the 9 7/8" casing. If/when they get close, they'll encounter pressure and oil. BP has already declared that the productive zones were drilled slightly overbalanced, as they've decided the original formation pressure of the productive zones are 12.9#-13.0#. Obviously, the first relief well will be quite above that, but not exceptionally so, for reasons Rockman has already given.

You then have to be ready to pump mud like mad. The mud will be circulating up the relief well bore, but will quickly leave go into the blowout well and start traveling upwards. The column of mud in the relief well will drop in both the drillpipe and the annulus, and you have to keep both filled. Well, you're pumping down the drillpipe normally, but instead of someone idly filling the top of the annular space with any old mud or in many situations I've seen a water hose, I'm sure they'll be pumping mud down the annular space as well.

As Rockman has mentioned, the possibility of fracturing the formation at the bit in the relief well (or any location between the bit in the relief well and the casing shoe of the last casing set in the relief well) is fairly good. This would be a bad thing. In many situations, you back off. I have a feeling with all the mud available at the time, they'll decide to toss caution aside for the moment and pump mud like mad. If you're pumping down the annulus AND pumping down the drillpipe, the effect of Effective Circulating Density is lessened slightly. After all, you're dealing with the ultimate lost circulation zone -- The blowout well itself, and above that, the Gulf Of Mexico. In theory, you'd be pumping mud until it came out the BOP and started traveling up the LMRP. In short, they'd better damn well have that Overshot Tool in place to make (at least) a partial seal. Otherwise, the mud U-Tubes up and out into the Gulf, and the mudweight that would balance the well at the mudline is damn high, as we've seen the math in previous threads.

R2 -- When we get close to the intersect we'll have to go to school some on specialty kill pills. Have read the boys have some rather unique fluids to work with. Hope they offer details when the time is right.

Rockman, apparently, there's a few combo gel packs available I can't WAIT to find out about. If the second relief well is there before the well is truly killed, we'll see some state of the art serious shit.

Excellent comments. Sure shows how complicated this stuff is. Another question,

"they'll never have to (nor will they wish to) mill directly into the casing of the blowout well."

Can you elaborate on this; such as the ideal scenario versus the non-ideal scenario? There is a lot of gloomy speculation, based upon the severity of the problem at hand.

If the scenario is that they encounter significant oil and gas flow as the bit rattles on (but not drills through) the 7" casing, they've reached the annulus between the formation and the casing and it would imply that the primary method for oil and gas to the surface is only up around the annulus in the b) scenario mentioned above. A good engineer will cover his butt and claim that there's no way to prove that oil and gas isn't flowing INside the casing as well as on the outside, the c) possibility mentioned. But the argument would then be between two engineering scenarios. Do you
b1) try to isolate the oil flowing along the outside of the casing first
b2) mill into the casing anyway.

As I mentioned before, if the annulus of between the casing and the formation is open to the base of the BOP stack (going between the 7" casing and the 9 5/8" liner, later as that 9 5/8" liner is hung on the 16" casing that goes to the base of the BOP stack [and the 7" casing is 'tapered' and at shallower levels is 9 5/8" itself - see the well diagram posted in earlier threads]) then mud will go from the relief well to that annular space anyway. There's questions as to that annular space, btw.

So, the relief well has contact and it is encountering oil and gas, circulating the oil/gas up, and most likely seeing their mud dissappear down the hole. The hole(s) are talking to them. Rockman or I or someone else should paint various scenarios depending on the different mud weights in the relief well, but if they're going in with about a 15.3# mud weight (my first guess and I could be way off) "slug" of mud, they'll do that and then wait and see. They will most likely go in a bit lighter than that, perhaps 14.8# and then circulate to get bottoms up to see what mud cut they have. In either case, if the annulus is in connection with the surface, the relief well WILL be losing mud to the blowout hole. What they don't want is to see that slug of heavy mud come back to them. It just means the engineers were wrong. If they're losing mud like crazy, having that first slug of extra heavy mud is a stroke of genius. It's not the whole column you want that heavy, but that heavy mud for a part of the well column can be a blessing.

Milling into the casing would only take place after the annular space is considered dead. If I'm wrong on this, then I'm way wrong, btw. Milling into the casing takes a bit of time, and you'd only consider doing that if you were in complete control of your relief well. This would imply that a) scenario, where the lower casing ruptured at the casing shoe (base of casing). Or a combo event c).

So, let's say that you have everything the formations leaking into both inside the casing and outside. You encounter the outside, and attempt to control that. Oil and gas are still streaming up from the inside of the casing. You have mud up the backside to the BOP now, too. Most likely the UTube effect would want to push mud into the BOP and the result would be about the same as we saw with the Top Kill. This would be very bad.

This is when the high tech folks with their specialty gels used for killing wells come into play.

First, you'd be planning to indeed mill into the casing, but you'd be wanting to stop the flow in the annulus first. You can do this with specific things that act like cement. They're two part gels, rumor has it. The smaller the space, the better they work. I have only heard of such things. If you can slow or stop the flow up the annulus, then you mill into the casing and again, pump mud like mad.

a ranging zone is not only established for magnetics....the 1000' allows for approach to be built with low dog leg severity.....the dip and the azimuth on the bit at intersection has to be controlled here too..a 1000' ranging zone allows all this to be established....the good thing is the csg is new and will have excellent magnetics ....and the fact that the Mississippi delta has very high formation iron ...this will amplify the magnetic field setup its a good chance 300-350' response can be had ....

a hot tap to establish pressure comms will not be effective here and milling (as unattractive as it sounds) it the only option here.....because the point where you decide to put the pedal to the metal on the mud pumps .....a hot tap will simply frac the formation before you know it....IMHO a milling option is the only scenario which gives a reasonable chance of success all things considered.....

with regards to specialty kill pills....there are some crazy offerings by mi-swaco .....cross linked gels that will be used with retardants depending on the pump stroke .....maybe a smaller pill of temp activated gels will be pumped inbetween to provide footing.....but that really all depends on the formation logs ....

with regards to deciding the best shale unit to go through.....this has already been done ....all this had to be decided before the wellbore profile for the RW's was constructed.....the fact boots and coots decided to establish ranging zone @ 1000' indicated to me there are not many good options downhole that are practical and the shale unit they've decided on is not too thick interesting come time ....

Can you point to some evidence that this BOP design is faulty? Or that it is somehow deficient compared to others? Are other BOP arrangements different in some dramatic way?

Exact same basic BOP design as currently used to drill every single deepwater well in the world. And no, I wouldn't take comfort from that...

Now whether BOP designs should have 2 separate ram shears or stronger ram shears to cut through thicker pipe or tools in hole, or other modifications to make safer, that is a good question.

"Operations were stable ..." ... turning the GOM to sludge.

This disaster should be "it" for BP in America. The last straw. BP American operations should be shut down and assets sold off to safer oil companies, proceeds going to cleanup.

I have no desire to discuss this. It's just my opinion.

I hope many more people adopt this opinion.

Direct economic damage from this spill plus longer term ripple effects are going to be hundreds of billions of dollars, not even considering ecological damage.

Over and over again BP has abused it's privilege of operating in America. That privilege should now be revoked. Seize BP American operations, sell off active projects and all assets to safer oil companies. Put BP American operations out of business.

Let it be a warning to other oil companies.

I think a cold bath would be in order and then check on what American companies and others have done to other Nations before targeting one just because it has hit nearer to your home, sad as it is. Just one example Bhopal disaster At that time, UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of the U.S. company Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), which is now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company.

This impending disaster which nobody wants but I do see one possibility that it will awaken the US citizen into questioning their own lifestyles in taking from others because you need it and ignoring the consequences of those actions.

What was the score by the way, we beat the Argies at Rugby. slainthe

Sold off hell, Bpie belongs to the people, like "our" gulf.

Since a reference was made to Eyjafjallajökull a live video beware the infra red is very misleading.

I include a link regarding any seismic activity North America Region and all the best to you guys interested in the footie for tonights game.

Here's a really nice link on sesmic activity from Schlumberger

Seismicity in the Oil Field

I'm trying to visualize what is sitting down there on the bottom of the Gulf, with respect to the machinery sitting on top of this well.

First, there's the casing that is buried into the ground several hundred feet, that surrounds the liner and drill pipe. The casing supports everything above it.

The BOP sits on top of the casing, with the liner/DP running through it. The BOP is a large (50' high) piece of equipment with several rams designed to crush/seal/cut the riser and DP in the event of an imminent blowout. This one obviously failed to operate correctly and may be compromised structurally.

Now, here's where my understanding gets fuzzy. On top of the BOP is another device, one designed to attach the riser from the ship to the BOP, and capable of quickly detaching from the BOP if there's an emergency. It has a flexible joint to allow some movement of the riser without fracturing the connection, and valves to shut off the flow if needed. I don't recall the actual name of this device, but it's the one the current collection cap is siphoning oil/gas out of after the damaged riser was cut off. Do I have this geometry correct, or is there something else in there?

Now, my question is that flexible connection between the BOP and the device on top of it. What is it made of, how durable is it if there's oil flowing up the riser instead of the DP, and how flexible is it actually? Recent comments indicate the whole package is leaning over more; could this just be the joint flexing from all the past and present stresses being put upon it, or is this a symptom of something worse? ISTM that if this joint fails, oil collection goes out the window until a new device can be bolted onto the BOP (if that's possible).

Comments? Ridicule? Laughter?

Bendal - I put together this from the pdf that BP gave to the feds:


The BOP is the bottom 'cage' and sits directly on the wellhead on the ocean floor. It has the rams and shears, and hydraulic actuators to close off or sever the casing/drill strings.
The LMRP is the next up 'cage'. It has the Lower and Upper Annulars, and (I believe) act as bushings for the drill string while sealing off the lower casing of the well from the riser going up to the platform.
Atop that is the Flex Joint and Adapter. It allows for movement of the riser due to sea conditions, as well as a breakaway for the riser in the event the drillship has to leave and safely closing down the well. The drillship/platform will reconnect there to recover production.

If I have any of this wrong, please let me know. Wish I had one to take apart and put back together again! ;^)

This is a question about determining who is at fault... I know, for instance, by reason of understanding management structure, that Tony, et al, do not answer calls from field hands or even field supervisors, about specific decisions about which cement to use and dealing with what mud to use where and what parts go where.

In a situation such as this, could someone describe what authority is delegated to whom, and under what conditions higher ups are consulted, and how high do they go, and under what conditions?

I've been lurking and reading here for a while and there's a lot of "BP did x.." type of statements, but I have no idea what that means. Did some guy pushing buttons, wearing a BP hat do something stupid, or did a question escalate upwards 2-3 steps in authority and a bad answer (irresponsibility ordered) cause something bad to happen, when you say stuff like that?

For many years, I worked in a small business, where my boss was the owner, and the company name was his name. What I did or didn't do reflected to the credit or discredit of the business as a whole. Yet, sometimes the decisions were mine, sometimes his.

On Hayward's statements... Hayward doesn't have first hand "I was there" information to pass along. Whatever he knows is filtered to him by people below him. Would any lie to him to cover their own backsides? Is this whole thing the fault of some office jockey who gives out bad directions, because he's insulated by space from the real work, and from the media and blame by management above him?

And with the current rash of jumping to conclusions, I'm beginning to despair of ever having a factual conclusion that showed who made what decisions that resulted in, well, you-know-what.

Is this whole thing the fault of some office jockey who gives out bad directions, because he's insulated by space from the real work

I was once a witness in a major law case where my (very tough) CEO was being blamed for some atrocious behaviour.

After millions were spent on legal fees and 80+ depositions made, it turned out that a small group of middle managers were responsible. These managers had 'optimised' unpleasant engineering data before passing it upwards to the board of directors.

Meta - That's why it's so tough to determine where the root problem exists. Your CEO may have been a fanatic about honest reporting and safety procedures. Or he may have given subtle messages to the staff that the bottom line was more important than anything else. But even if he was a righteous fellow some manager a couple of levels below him might have poisoned the minds of the underlings. The buck has to stop somewhere. But how do you fairly determine where?

There is definitely a culture in business organizations of fear of management. After all they have tremendous control over your way of life - one stroke of the pen and your career may be over.

This leads to an abject fear of reporting bad news to senior management.

I saw a case once where a company I was working for made an acquisition of a company that was supplying coke to the steel industry. This company had a long term contract with some significant penalty clauses for non-performance with a major company.

Due to lack of proper due diligence during the acquisition it was later found that the coke ovens were in an extreme state of disrepair and needed a major capital investment of $50 million or so to bring them up to a reasonable condition. The new management of the coke company decided not to inform senior management of this. About a year after the acquisition the roof structure of the coke oven line collapsed ending the production of coke. Since you can't make steel without coke, the steel company had to declare Force Majeure and stop supplying it's customers.

The steel company then went after the company I worked for and won a $2 billion judgement.

While it may be hard to win a case against senior management based on this, I'd bet your 'very though' CEO brought about this because the people who were working for him felt they had to 'optimize' information in order to keep their jobs.

"There is definitely a culture in business organizations of fear of management."

This isn't restricted to, unique to, or even more prevalent This is most prevalent in political structures, be it governmenal or political party, because they operate in the realm of perception, rather than fact. Normally business structures that have this culture fail rather rapidly.

In my opinion the accident is complex - not a simple, single cause.

Issues for BP:

Was the well design adequate/safe for the geological conditions?

Was undue pressure put on Transocean to complete the well quickly and/or did they (BP) approve any shortcuts that compromised the safety of the operation?

Did the visit of the VIPs on the rig have any bearing on the accident?

Issues for Transocean:

Were the final well tests run properly and were they monitoring the mud returns? (BP may have some involvement in this).

What was the state of the BOP? Was it functional both for normal work and to perform its well shut-in procedure? (Did BP overrule any request to perform required maintainance or repair - especially anything that would have involved down-time for the rig?)

There will be additional questions about safety systems on the rig (what sparked the explosion for instance?) as well as chain of command in an emergency, and whether there was adequate training of rig personnel in how to deal with an emergency.

It's 2:20 pacific time, and can anyone tell me what ocean intervention ROV1 is looking at?

I don't know what it is doing, but it is above the BOP / top cap mess a ways, in case you are wondering about the oil plume it is dancing around.

It looks like it was looking FOR something. it's got ahold of some kind of machinery cage at the moment and was looking at it closely.

And it let go and started again, wandering through the cloud...

it keeps spinning back and forth, been watching the direction readout. must be searching for something.

Looks like they may have some issue with the dispersant op.

Anyone know the oil containment stats for Jun 11th?

Sorry...stats are at top of this page. I was checking BP's site

Ocean 1 is looking down on cap #4. There are at least 3 ROVs around the cap. They have been using dispersant and a fan quite a bit. It's hard to tell what you are looking at when the camera angles change.

ocean 1 is now staring at appearntly Skandi 2, the feed from skandi 2 went off and it apparently turned its lights off, as well. Still gripping the BOP / riser, though. Boa Deep C has stared at one spot for a day or two now, and has spots before its eyes (lol).

Ok, Skandi 2 lit back up and the feed came back on...

skandi 2 video is 20 seconds behind ocean 1. Just saw the dispersant wand fall in the first one...and then again in the second one :)

awesome view while they look for the wand, now... it fell down somewhere and ... spotted it. UNDER skandi 2. like driving in fog, that dispersant turns the water to milk...

Why are the ROV's being used to hold the dispersant wands? They seem to keep dropping them. Why not position them with a magnetic clamp attached to the riser with a bendable metal hose like the kind used in machine shops?

There may be enough talent looking this site to figure out the size of this reservoir and production/flow characteristics. To my knowledge there just aren't that many gulf reservoirs capable of producing 30+ kbpd on a sustained basis.
1) Are there any guesstimates as to the size for deepwater overpressured reservoirs in this area of the gulf? Are they fault-bounded, or lenticular reservoirs that taper off horizontally? What is the dip?
2) What is the thickness of the reservoir, can it be determined from the drilling data previously made available?
3) What is the porosity of the reservoir rocks? 5-10%?
4) What is the permeability of the reservoir rocks > 2 D'Arcy?
5) Are the core plugs available?
6) Are any seismics available?
7) Can the lease agreements be revoked by the government? Has there ever been an instance where this has happened?
8) If a lease agreement is revoked or suspended, can the government require that all pertinent information that would otherwise be proprietary be turned over to government agencies (seismics, core plugs, well logs, etc.)?

I haven't seen anything in the way of a formal geological description, other than being told this is not a classical "sub-salt" play.

There are other companies that own the blocks on the east, northeast and north of this block.
Apparently, the feature extends in some measure onto the other blocks, but the high point is where the action is taking place today.
If anyone has the electric logs, I'd love to see them, even on a private basis.
I do know people who know people who have seen them, though.
On the gas well blowout in the GOM that I sat the relief well on (many years ago), only one sand had beautiful permeability. The three other sands went along for the ride when the well blewout. The beautiful sand UTube'd into another. The drillers swabbed in the gas on a trip to C&C the hole after the electric logs were run. The geologist was still on the rig, leaving while the fight for the well was underway.
In the case of this well, rumor has it the sands are Lower Miocene, and there are two primary hydrocarbon bearing zones.

It's been stated here that the seismic survey is not owned by BP in a proprietary fashion, but is "spec" data. As a result, it would be a special case to release any of that to the public.

The case of the lease agreement revocation is/are part of the politics/outrage issue and I can't speak to that.

In reply to today's TOD post,

I think it's just inevitable - on the demise of curriculum - dirty energy and the mad-dog capitalist mentality that heavily influences those "cyclic" boom and bust cycles are dying. It's a long, slow and now so obviously painful process. Be strong, and remember this is only the beginning of the end. Short of divine intervention, it's bound to get even uglier.

We are not only under attack by a gushing torrent of oil in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but we also are under attack by largely unseen forces determined to undermine US civilian and military authority. It appears they are succeeding. Given the scale of the emergency before us, it would seem this usurpation of command by a foreign corporate entity should really worry the President and senior US military. Maybe it's just me but there appears a disturbing perception of more official corruption, divided loyalties, or even perhaps mutinous intentions. The US military is the largest consumer of petroleum in the US. The world's most advanced military force can't move an inch without oil. This is not lost upon the likes of AlQadia and other extremists groups and individuals who wish us harm. Transporting oil is the deadliest job in the military.

So far Obama has surrendered the GOM to BP. Will he also surrender our national security to suspect commanders?

we also are under attack by largely unseen forces determined to undermine US civilian and military authority.

They have cloaking devices? Is it those pesky Romulans again?

Actually, I'd say they more resemble Ferengi :)

speaker: Heh! Heh! I commend Green for having the chain of authority correct!

Google and thread following lead me to this article on a blog. This seems nothing new. The beaurocracy is always most protective of itself, and the larger and more "activist" it is, the more obdurate it becomes.

I, too, am baffled why every last means of attempting to stop/catch/mitigate/clean/trap/remove the crude and/or broken down components isn't being employed and the results of each well documented.

I think you provided one of the reasons in your first sentence.

Is this even plausible? (photos in the link)

Piece of Deepwater Horizon

Piece of Deepwater Horizon washes ashore on PCB
June 12, 2010 03:03:00 PM

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Bay County's first tangible landfall from the Deepwater Horizon accident is not tar balls or oil plumes. Instead, it was a suspected piece of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana in April.

According to U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Steve Caskey, a tank weighing 5,000 pounds with a 550-gallon capacity washed ashore near 14th Street and Front Beach Road in Laguna Beach.

“It was leaking when it washed up on the beach,” Caskey said. “There is some oil in it. There was sheen created from the tank leaking.”

Caskey said there were BP markings on the tank and other evidence that it came from the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The Coast Guard pulled it from the surf and has taken the tank to the Coast Guard station at Naval Support Activity Panama City.

Crews Saturday afternoon were driving posts into the shoreline and stringing absorbent boom for about 100 yards along the shore.

Caskey said that part of the beach and shoreline is closed “until the threat is mitigated.”

Hazmat trucks were on the scene cleaning up and making sure residents and visitors are safe.

The Coast Guard also was driving up and down the beach looking for anything else that might have washed up.

This is a developing story. Check back with The News Herald for more details.

Is this even plausible?

I'd say yes, since a couple of weeks ago a charred oar marked "Deepwater Horizon" washed up on Horn Island in Mississippi. (Made a kid's day.)

Hmm... and that article says that other pieces have been found nearby.

Thanks .. guess that answers my question.

rainyday: OMG!

If you had unlimited skimmer boats, how would you control an oil spill? Aerial pictures show skimmer boats cruising through slicks, and the slick closing up behind them, only thinner and less easily skimmed. This is not effective.

The big problem is, oil spreads, so you must skim it faster than it spreads, while it is still thick and effectively skimmed.

Diagram A shows a skimmer boat width W travelling around an oil spill diameter D spreading outwards with speed S. What velocity V must the skimmer boat travel at to complete a circuit in the time it takes the oil to spread width W?

Making some wild-ass guesses:

On May 7 after 16 days the slick had formed an area equal to a circle 190 km across.
From the centre, spread velocity S = 190 x 1000 / 2 x 16 x 24 = 250 m/hr

Assume the skimmer width = 12 m

Then oil takes 12/250 = 0.0048 hours = 3 min approx to spread width of boat.

Assume we want to confine the spill to a slick diameter D = 5 km

Then distance boat must travel to complete one circumference = pi D = pi x 5000 = 15,700 m = 15.7 km

Therefore, required velocity of boat V = 15.7/0.0048 = 327 km/hr

Since skimmer boats only travel at say 25 km/hr (16 mph), 327/25 = 13 boats are needed, spaced evenly around the slick.

(More boats will be needed to fill in for boats leaving station to offload their cargo of oil.)

Diagram B shows a preferable scenario.

Two skimmer boats control the open ends of an oil boom, while other skimmer boats line up side-by-side and gulp oil.

They do not move. they hold their station while oil comes to them.

Of course, they would have to leave station to offload their cargo as they fill up so it's a bit more complicated, but I think this is the pattern to aim for.

As of now, the size of the oil's spread is so huge that there's no plausible employment of this.

It seems now we need to turn to a multi-pronged approach... First, stop it from making landfall as much as possible, starting with priority areas, and then stanch the flow of new oil into the gulf. If that means making a few mile wide "corral" and stop using dispersant, so it can be "caught" on the surface and skimmed up fast, that would make sense - assuming we can count on the oil reaching the surface even not using dispersant.

The next would be once the shouting dies down and all, that "clean up" or "containment" systems be developed for rapid deployment, along with a dedicated fund of some kind that keeps it on hot standby and operational. Every thought to now seems to be on spill prevention... but as Murphy's Corrupted Law states "Anything that can go wrong, eventually will".

The next would be once the shouting dies down and all, that "clean up" or "containment" systems be developed for rapid deployment, along with a dedicated fund of some kind that keeps it on hot standby and operational.

I believe that was put in place after the Exxon Valdez.

Damn. That should be 0.048 hrs. (I used the correct value in the formulas.)

I saw on another site that Oil Drum had posted the below anonymous comment about the cause of the Gulf Oil Spill. Any follow up on this and what say you?

Anonymous Source)
The following is my theory on what happened on April 20th. I have listed factual information to the best of my knowledge, and base this theory on 33 years of experience working on these rigs, with 16 years working as a consultant worldwide. The contractor (Transocean in this case) typically does not do anything without direction and approval from the operator (BP in this case). I believe that there was nothing wrong with the BOP, or the conduct of the crews prior to the catastrophic failure. If any operator drills a similar well using the same flawed casing and cement program, the same results will be very possible.
The well was drilled to 18,360 ft and final mud weight was 14.0 ppg. The last casing long string was 16 inch and there were 3 drilling liners (13 5/8?, 11 7/8? and 9 7/8?) with 3 liner tops. A 9-7/8? X 7? tapered casing long string was run to TD. The bottom section of casing was cemented with only 51 barrels of light weight cement containing nitrogen, a tricky procedure, especially in these conditions.
The casing seal assembly was set in wellhead and pressure tested from above to 10,000 psi. Reportedly, a lock down ring was not run on the casing hanger. The casing string was pressure tested against the Shear rams, only 16.5 hours after primary cement job. A negative test on the wellhead packoff was performed.
The rig crew was likely lead to believe that the well was successfully cemented, capped and secured. Normally a responsible operator will not remove the primary source of well control (14.0 ppg drilling mud) until such conditions were met. However, the crews were given the order to displace heavy mud from riser with seawater, prior to setting the final cement plugs. They were pumping seawater down the drill string and sending returns overboard to workboat, so there was limited ability to directly detect influx via pit level. This is the fastest way to perform the displacement operation, and the method was likely directed and certainly approved by operator. There was a sudden casing failure during this displacement procedure that allowed the well to unload, with ignition of gas and oil. Evidently, the crew was able to get the diverter closed based on initial photographs, showing flames coming out of diverter lines.

It is likely that pressure built up between the 9 7/8? and 16? casing under the casing hanger, due to gas migration from the pay zone. Based on reported mud weight, the reservoir formation pressure is in excess of 13,000 psi. The pressure building in the cross sectional area below the casing hanger would have increased casing tension and caused casing to collapse and part (rapidly separate) at a connection, probably a joint or two (50' or 90') below wellhead. The collapse pressure for 62.8 ppf 9-7/8? casing is +/- 10,300 psi. However, the collapse resistance of casing is considerably reduced in presence of axial stress (i.e. tension). Engineers – see formula from API bulletin 5C3, section 2.1.5 and run the math. The well then came in violently through parted casing and caused the blowout. Without lockdown ring on hanger, the casing hanger and joint(s) were slingshot up into BOP. That would explain why all components of the BOP are unable to seal or shear. The parted casing section remains across all BOP ram cavities and probably all the way up into the riser.
Shortcut #1: Running a tapered long string rather than a liner with 9-7/8? liner top packer, followed by tieback string and pumping heavy cement all the way to seabed. Perhaps the original permits for this casing program were based on a planned appraisal well, and changed midstream to a producer well, then hastily approved by the complacent or under-staffed MMS. This tragic shortcut may have saved about 1.5 rig days.
Shortcut #2: Insufficient time was used to cure the mud losses prior to cementing the open hole reservoir section, depending instead on using lightweight cement to prevent losses to the formation.
Shortcut #3: The nitrified primary cement job. This is difficult to pull off, even under ideal conditions.
Shortcut #4: Hanger without lock ring may have used due to the previously unplanned long string, and to avoid waiting for hanger with lock ring to be fabricated or prepared.
Shortcut #5: No cement evaluation logs were performed after a job with known high calculated risk (mud losses to formation). This shortcut may have saved 8 hours of rig time.
Shortcut #6: Pressure testing casing less than 24 hours after cement in place can expand the casing before the cement is fully set. This shortcut can “crack” the cement and create a micro annulus which will allow gas migration.
Shortcut #7: Displacing 14 ppg mud from 8000 ft MDRT with 8.7 ppg seawater, less than 20 hours after primary cement is in place. How many tested and proven barriers can you count? I count zero satisfactory barriers. Industry standards dictate that at least two tested (to maximum anticipated pressure) barriers are in place prior to removing the primary source of well control (weighted mud or brine).
There was a response to this report in the same thread from aliilaali, which answers some of the above questions. He goes down the points, which is a nice counter-view, cool stuff if you are trying to really understand what is happening.
aliilaali on June 10, 2010 – 2:15pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
it is a good analysis but then again hindsight is 20-20 …..but most of these points can be argued both ways…..
shortcut#1 – there is really nothing wrong with running a tapered string long as cement is pumped all the way down….similar approaches have been used all over the GOM …a cheaper approach YES …but not wrong from an engineering perspective
SC # 2 — this is correct
SC # 3 – there is nothing wrong with using nitrified cement…it is used all over again ….what has not come to light is what excess was used…cmt calculations need to account for nitrified cmt delivery ….simply put 30-40% excess is used….but this is a tested approach and not cause for concern in itself..infact in highly deviated holes it is the preferred option…why it was used in a vertical hole is a pause for thought but then nothing that is wrong here..
SC # 5 — again this has been misunderstood… has focused on the CBL log….now a CBL log only proves zonal isolation for a completion job….NOT to check for cmt integrity and if used the results are always ambigious …..because here a nirtified cmt delivery was used…the problem with this process is a higher than normal chance of micro-annuls forming…a CBL log DOES NOT check for micro-annulus ….so how a CBL log would have helped here I dont understand….a leak-off test is the only correct option here….would have been a good practice to run a CBL here but not a requirement…
SC # 6 — this is correct and the major cause for concern….nitrifed cmt delivery requires a longer WOC time (waiting on cmt) than the normal cmt approach ….the small WOC time is what started a hain reaction of problems IMHO
SC # 7 – correct but again ties into WOC times…the displacement of the mud without good WOC times again was not the best idea but the returns should have been monitored …especially since the company man knew he was cutting it close …the company man should have been HIMSELF watching returns …anything bubbling downhole could have been countered if needed
most of the things are bad judgment calls with nothing to do with bad processes being employed …just my 2 cents ….once a well blows and leaks like this one…looking back every decision seems like the worst possible decision …
aliilaali on June 10, 2010 – 3:23pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
good centering is important because it minimizes axial loading on the casing ….this was a vertical hole and I am not surprised BP did not agree to 30 ….10-15 is what most operators would agree to in vertical holes …..also it makes sense since nitrified cmt delivery takes care of tighter clearances …..the way nitrified cmt delivery works is …nitrogen is added to fluff out the slurry ….this make the slurry more mobile and can move well through tight spots and find its way along ziggy zag flow paths ……
I would bet my 5 bucks …if the caliper log is released ….it will show a crappy hole …combine that with the 7 centralizers ….nitrified cmt would really make sense here then …
aliilaali on June 10, 2010 – 3:57pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
just ran a quick calculation …..out of 1,192' of open hole drilled with @ 8 3/4?, running a 7? csg, volumetircs come to 0.0268 bbls/ft so running up a total of 1,192' the volume of cmt needed is or a total of 31.9456 bbls (32 bbl) of cement required to fill “newest hole dug” annulus.
so 32 bbl of cmt required and 51 bbl of cmt were pumped in ….equates of excess of 19 bbl or 59% excess……now this is plenty of excess cmt by any standards ….atleast on paper things seem right……
in real life drilling —- the caliper log is needed here to see what the actual avg dia of the open hole was ….this calculation assumes a good consistent caliper log which is hard to imagine given the well history in march and april ……so if the caliper log is not available more than likely this whole calculation is not worth putting any comfort in ……same caulcuations need to be run with using the avg hole dia from the caliper log to work out if enough cmt with enough excess was pumped in …..
tollertwins on June 10, 2010 – 4:06pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
Halliburton apparently documented their disagreement w/ BP on this point saying that ‘they could (would?) have SEVERE gas flow issues’ w/ the fewer number of centralizers.
Media reports of the hearings said that:
a) yes – very small clearance between hole and casing (something like 3/8 – 3/4?).
b) HBT recommended 21 centralizers. There were only 6 of the right configuration on the ship – so they went w/ 6. So HBT covered it’s hind assets w/ the above documented statement.
aliilaali on June 10, 2010 – 4:40pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
TTwin –
3/8 – 3/4? seems like a little exaggerated …and i dont really see how anyone can come up with this number or even this tight range without looking at the caliper log ……
given halliburton advised 21 centralizers …..again points to a high chance that the caliper log showed a hole in bad shape ….now the only way for a csg to run in hole is a hole that is wider than what is expected and not narrower … IMHO i can say with a high degree of confidence that 3/8? – 3/4 sounds unreasonable and probably something CNN would report given their outstanding job of pulling information out of their ass interms of this whole incident ….
a disagreement on centralizers between operators and contractors is very common really…….if I was the drill engg and halliburton wanted 21 on a vertical hole….i would need some convincing too…. not to say its not happened…I ran 38 centralizers as recent as 4 months ago on a less deeper hole but i needed to be convinced by schlumberger …took not their field techs but a senior engineer to convince me …point being such instances are common and in itself nothing thats not part of routine work…thats why there are techs , engineers and senior engineers to provide many heads and levels of knowledge to counter such problems at different levels just like any other industry

So then the picture of the cut riser apparently shows the collapsed 9 7/8" casing that shot back up through the BOP? There was an extended discussion on this several days back. Were there any parts of the 9 7/8" casing at the original broken end of the riser? How far would it have shot up the riser pipe to the rig? Probably not beyond where the sharp bend was in the riser, it probably would not have been able to make that sharp of a bend. Hard to believe that the entire string lifted all the way from the hole bottom. What would have stopped it? A leak along the side when one of the segements passed fully out of the liner?

What ever happened to the casing (moved, didn't move) happened during the blowout phase that destroyed the rig. The riser buckled over when the rig sank a few days later. I think it is unclear what exactly is in the snipped off riser - hopefully it has been or will be brought to the surface for inspection.

In fact, were there any ROV videos of the broken end of the riser? It's doubtful that both the riser and the displaced casing would have broken off cleanly at the same spot. I suspect that the top of the displaced casing is right where the riser bent over. I would also speculate that the displaced casing may have reinforced the well head connection to the BOP so that the whole thing didn't topple over.

So how does one install a different attitude in those who work to produce the fuel that we all need? To a degree, it has to be done through the imposition of regulations...

When they broke up the Bell System back in the 1980s, the newly-created regional telephone companies took a rather cavalier attitude towards the restrictions on their actions included in the settlement. Violations came to a screeching halt when the presiding judge threatened (quite believably) to start putting everyone in the chain of command from the employee guilty of the actual violation up through the CEO in jail for six months for contempt.

Incentives matter. Fines will be paid by the corporation. Jail time is done by actual people. Once Mr. Hayward (for example) realizes that platform managers can act in ways that result in Mr. Hayward doing 3-6 months in a real jail, company procedures will immediately change to guarantee compliance, and the corporate culture will change very, very quickly to ensure compliance with procedures.

Just look, look at these commie, bed-wetting, tree- and dolphin-hugging left-wing libural main-stream-media UN-PATRIOTIC TRAITORS trying to destroy our way of life like this. Go ahead, see for yourself, it's all there in black-and-white (well, color, actually......):

If this isn't proof enough that the people of the gulf coast themselves are responsible for this disaster, then I don't what it will take to convince people of the truth.

Dear TheOilDumb,
Not sure why you place so much blame on the "people of the gulf cost," but this video is another example of how BP, a foreign corporate entity, is undermining civil authority. Now provoking violent confrontation with citizens on public property. This isn't going to end well, those BP boys better start packing more than water bags.

Hey, I quit bed wetting long ago, but I'm still huggin' Flipper.

Kidding aside, just after Deepwater blew up and sank and the gusher started (how many months ago now?), a Russian - I don't know his name - stated that this spill could be our Chernobyl. If this awful mess keeps on past the summer into the fall and winter, which is a possibility, then he may be right and all sorts of unexpected and unanticipated events and consequences may occur, including social unrest.

As for the infamous corporation that caused this disaster, once this is over, BP should forever be banned from operating in this country. As for the British people, I have nothing against them.

Mr. Hayward will simply cease visiting the USA. He should be safe elsewhere.


Alan: Are you real sure 'bout that? Say, I am real sorry this thing is biting you in the butt right now, and so hard.My heart grieves for all of you down there. I do. Out here on the Great High Plains, those of us who care, have been in a running gunfight with people trying to take our precious water so they can water their lawns and play golf. It has been a losing battle. Oh yeah, I forgot the corn ethanol guys as well.Our Ogalla Aquafer is dying slowly but surely. Its a hell of a thing. Anyhow, I appreciate your insights, as well as others here. Rockman, Shelburn,et al, you know who you are.

mcain: it's called accountability. Yeah? From bottom to top. I don't believe one can teach this in an academic setting.There are good people's lives at stake, no matter what your endeavor in life. let alone the good stewardship of our lands and livelihoods that have been bestowed upon us.Callousness permeates the corporate culture of the world today.Workmanship and Service! I say!

Just an observation, the offshore surface oil seems to be expanding significantly just the last couple days. On the 10th I saw what appeared to be a large slick on the most recent AQUA MODIS image, around 25N 88.5W (south of the MS/AL border, west of the FL Keys):

However at the time the NOAA offshore forecast did not show any oil even close to that location:

Their more recent updated map expands the offshore area significantly and notes the spill there:

But there seemed to be nothing in the daily briefings to take note of this.

outstanding links, thanks

BP control over Nat'l Incident Mngt Systems data? Indicates withholding of data vital to DWH remediation.

See "BP GIS and the Mysterious VanishingOpen Letter", available at:


The deception and subversion continue. Anyone who still doubts we have 2 monsters to "kill" needs to read this letter...imho

It has all the hallmarks of an internet scam / urban legend.

Is there a shop somewhere that turns this stuff out. The ones I see are all so similar they seem to come from the same place.

They're always breathless. They're always over-board in fake legitimization tactics. There's always an outrageous and implausible conspiracy afoot, and they all end ultimately leaving it up to you to save the world by spreading the BS far and wide!

Where is the sense of urgency for the "new cap"??????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The first cap is a sorry excuse.

I am very confused that both BP and the federal govt havent provided a newer cap by now.

What are they waiting on? Between BP and the federal govt, they should have the resouces available to collect 90% of the oil coming out.

The news is not good from Gulf Shores, Alabama. I went to the main beach today and saw oil for miles and miles. Hardly no one in sight. Reminded me of that Don Henley song, 'Boys of Summer'. I was so disgusted I went to Hooter's. The Hooter's girls were even getting BP checks. You know it is bad when the Hooter's girls do not have work. I have today's video and photos in my photobucket. Please visit. If my count gets high enough a local media company may give me a local web job. Very cool to blog and report my way to gainful employment during this disaster.

All sexism aside, these girls have bills too.

Bills? Is that what they call them in Alabama?

For those old enough to remember Blazing Saddles "Work,work , work , work work......."

Done; visited. I admire the (semi) natural resources in the photo.

This isn't a peak oil v. let 'er rip paradigm. This is the destruction of a major ecosystem, a huge body of water, and of the lives of people. Sometimes engineering data doesn't catch it all. Please read:

True enough. True enough. Heh! Heh!

I have read that the flow is suspected of coming mainly from around the drill pipe rather than up the drill pipe. If this is the case, might it be possible to force a connector pipe onto the top of the cut drill pipe, maybe using a sleeve with o-rings, then pump mud down through the drill pipe for a bottom kill?

The Enterprise ROV's are clearly examining the lower flange, looking at the new LMRP device (picture above 10" thick steel), they are going to replace the existing 'teakettle' apparatus with something heavier and more substantial and suck up as much oil and gas as possible. They are also likely to attempt what they should have last time, which is an anchor mechanism to hold the new LMRP down to the BOP. The drill pipe itself is clearly ruined smashed with the shear as other pictures also clearly showed. I haven't figured out how to use the pseudo meta tags on this site (would know how to do the raw HTML, but they are blocked) or I'd repost them for you here.