BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - the Problem of Cleaning Up Marshes - and Open Thread

Because of the large number of comments, this thread is being closed. Please comment on thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6599.

I have listened to some of the press conferences held by the Deepwater Horizon External Affairs folks. One thing they talk about is how different clean-up operations are for beaches compared to marshes. For beaches, workers are sent in with shovels and rakes to remove the portion with oil. For marshes, techniques vary by area, but there are few good options. This is a section from a press conference a few days ago describing the marsh situation.

Q Good morning, Admiral.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Good morning.

Q I spoke -- I was down in Venice yesterday and I spoke with the Sierra Club and its president, who had just come in from touring the Barataria Bay . . . Michael Brune, the president, said he was struck by the futility of the cleanup effort and he said there really is no effective way to clean up an oil spill; that the boom, even when it’s in place, is not very effective when you have wave action that pushes the oil inland into marshes or over pelican rookeries. . . So I’m wondering if you could comment -- I mean, you’re talking about the battle line being drawn on the coast. I mean, what should people along the coast realistically expect of protective booms, cleanups, and the realistic of -- cleaning up in this disaster?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, I think you’ve done a very good job at describing the vexing situation that exists out there, especially in the lower area in Barataria Bay and Plaquemines Parish where there is a lot of marshland. There is no good solution when oil enters a marshland. And as we know, boom can be defeated by seascape -- it has to go over or under the top of it, depending on environmental conditions.

And skimming is very, very difficult. And if you use mechanical means back in the marshes, you do as much harm to the marshes as the oil might do. And, in some cases, you’re faced with the prospect of either an in-situ burn or just to let it biodegrade.

And the real issue is to stop this thing at the source, do maximum skimming, in-situ burning -- deal with it as far off shore as possible, and do everything you can to keep it from getting to shore, because once it’s into the marshes, quite frankly, I think we would all agree there’s no good solution at that point.

That’s the reason I think it’s incumbent on us to really attack this containment at the source. And I think definitely, as you heard me mention earlier, as this spill proliferates into smaller spills from south-central Louisiana and clear into Pensacola, Florida, it’s going to significantly stress not only boom production capability of the country, but the ability of skimmers. And we are working very, very hard to do that.

A few scenarios involved in oil spill planning contemplated, that brought an area of defense of a spill and it’s emblematic of the anomalous nature of this spill and why it’s difficult for everybody. But we’re working as hard as we can.

A 1998 MMS report called Effects and Management of Oil Spills in Marsh Ecosystems, relating to the Gulf of Mexico area says:

The effects of oil spills on marshes are complex and should be considered at various scales of spatial and temporal resolution and modes of impact. In general, lighter weight oils are more immediately toxic to plants than heavier oils. However, many of the modes of impact to marsh macrophytes involve effects related to smothering of the gas exchange surfaces of the plant, or of limiting gas exchange into an oil-coated sediment. Oil in the sediment can lead to increased oxygen stress in belowground tissues due to reduced gas exchange, disrupt root membranes and ion selectivity, and may adversely affect vegetative regrowth as newly-emerging shoots contact the oil. Oil may have considerable effects on marsh soil biogeochemical processes, however, the effects warrant further research

Oil has been found in marsh soil 7 years after a spill, which indicates the potential for long term effects. Crude oil greatly but temporarily stimulated soil respiration, affects Eh, and possibly remineralization rates, and may stimulate nitrogen fixation. A research program designed to better understand the long-term effects of petroleum hydrocarbons on nutrient cycling in coastal marshes is needed.

An aolnews.com article describes the techniques for cleaning up gulf marshes in as follows, each with a drawback. (These are techniques in general, not necessarily ones that would work with the particular type of oil that is a problem in this particular spill.)

  • Burning oil-coated plants, which removes oil quickly and minimizes trampling.
  • Low-pressure flushing, which helps push oil into areas where it can be vacuumed up or absorbed.
  • Cutting back vegetation to leave plants intact and prevent oiling of birds.
  • Adding nutrients to speed natural degradation of the oil.
  • Doing nothing. Oil that degrades over time hardens into a crust similar to asphalt, and letting Mother Nature take her course has the advantage of causing no collateral damage.

These are a few limitations of the above techniques:

Cutting plants back, for example, only works in small areas -- and there may not be many of those with a spill that has pumped more than 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf since April 20.

Introducing nutrients to accelerate the activity of natural microbes in the marsh that "eat" oil has limited potential, since oxygen levels in wetland soils are often so low that microbe activity is limited whether nourishment is added or not.

Likewise, low-pressure flushing only works when oil is floating on the surface.

The boom system for keeping the oil away from the marshes is not working very well. Regarding the effort to keep the oil away from the shore line, it says:

Its chief weapon is “boom,” floating rolls of plastic and fabric laid on the water to contain and absorb oil. More than 1.2 million metres has been deployed to date.

But Unified Command faces a crisis of confidence as it becomes clear that the boom system has major flaws of its own. There is not enough boom, for one, to line the entire coast; Alabama Gov. Bob Riley became enraged last week that the Coast Guard removed a large quantity from his state and sent it to Louisiana. And rough waters have both washed oil over boom lines and broken those lines up, sending boom adrift into the ocean and onto land.

“It’s a joke,” Billy Nungesser, the outspoken president of Plaquemines Parish, told Congress this week. “It washes up on the shore with the oil, and then we have oil in the marsh, and we have an oily boom. So we have two problems.”

Another approach to keeping the sand away from the marshes is building sand berms. Louisiana received approval from the EPA to build 40 miles of berm (sand piles six feet above the water level and 25 feet wide) to keep the oil away from some of Louisiana's marshes, despite concerns about the high cost, and the ability to work as planned. Some of these concerns are as follows:

. . .that the emergency berms would take several months to build, by which time a lot of oil would have hit the coast; that dredging up the sand to build the berms could intensify coastal erosion and rip apart undersea oil-and-gas pipelines; and that the berms, by changing the flow of water, could alter the water's salinity, potentially hurting fish. . .

In written comments May 26 to the Corps of Engineers, the EPA said the berms would be "unlikely to stop the majority of the oil from migrating inland," because they would leave many large water passes open.

Furthermore, the EPA said in its comments, the construction of the oil-blocking berms "could exacerbate the emergency situation in the Gulf," in part because it could move around sand on the sea floor that already had been contaminated with oil, newly endangering aquatic life.

So there are no easy answers.

Furthermore, residents are concerned about the possibility of losing jobs because of the six- month moratorium on drilling according to the Guardian:

The crisis is as much about money as it is about the environment. In Plaquemines, where rigs and refineries line the roads, there is as much anger at Obama for putting a moratorium on offshore drilling as there is at BP for provoking the six-month timeout in the first place.

Almost everybody has someone who has worked in the industry and there is as much talk about fears that the offshore industry might migrate elsewhere as a result of the crisis as there is about the black tide washing into the marshes.

BP is still catching far less than the total amount of oil escaping. To try to solve the problem of catching oil, BP is being given 48 hours (to the end of the weekend) to come up with a plan to increase oil collection. Clearly, the best way to stop problems with oil getting into marshes (and other places) is to stop the flow at the leak.

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Off topic and I apologize but the NYT ust published an article a minute ago indicating a possible bonanza of industrial ores just discovered in afghanistan.

This is a potential game changer if true.

Now there's a reason to stay for another 30 years... Wonder how long this has been known?

Just read through it - quite interesting - hard to say what it portends. Surveys started in 2004 based on maps from the Soviet occupation period. Another aerial survey in 2006 followed by some ground truthing. Iron, copper lithium niobium, and gold. Surveys done by the Pentagon and US geologists. Concerns about China's interests in the region. Will be set up for bidding for multinational corporations. No mention of oil or gas... Just read something about gas development in the Aral Sea basin in the dry seabed.

BP is being given 48 hours


The US government is going to call in some little green aliens to clean it up.
Really this has got to be the stupidest non-conditon i've ever seen. What exactly is going to happen after 48hrs?


Or...Else...Obama is going to swim out there...strike that... he's going to WALK out to the rig and Kick Some ASS!!!

uh oh, they have sent a letter to do something within 48 hours--what leadership and command and control.
I am so impressed!
If nothing happens within 48 hours they will drop the hammer big time.......
?write another letter asking BP if the first letter was received?

These comments on the 48 hour deadline miss a crucial point. It bugs me when people denigrate what they do not understand. This deadline establishes the basis for legal prosecution and recovery of funds. It is also tied to the approaching 60 day point in the time line. How about assuming there are reasons more intelligent than the ones you thought of? This assumption would lead to a clearer perception of what is being done and perhaps, to its limitations as well.

Your comment shows a very naive belief and understanding in the system of international law and assumes that all the framework is in place to proceed according to protocol.

Well unfortunately in terms of liability there is no precedent for protocol here.

The 48hours in the grand scheme of thing really means diddly squat - thats brit for jack sheeeet.

Geoff, the point i'm trying to make is that all the press reports go something like this "BP have until sunday/48hr until..........." It's like no-one has bothered to finish the sentence. You know why - cause the press havn't got a clue! Neither do you or me - thats the whole point.... .'or what?' What miracle is going to occur in 48hrs?

It's all some BS whipping stick to lull the US sheeple into the 'we're gonna flay someone' mindset.


Dear Geof,

As I said: Here come the letter writers. You sir must be their Dear Leader.

Sorry, geoff, but these taunters will not be happy until the president puts on his superman cape, punches Tony in the nose and swoops down to plug the well all by himself.

The letter is very significant for several reasons. (1) It is the first time the govt. has told BP, "Not good enough, do better." This after their first letter giving 72 hours to come up with a plan. So, the govt. is taking charge with this letter, letting BP know it can expect to be watched and will be told to come back with more/better resources if it fails to do so on its own.

(2) the letter sets the basis for the govt. to push BP out of the way if it continues to fail to do adequate planning,, etc. If the govt. did this without first clearly establishing that BP was falling short, BO would have a strong argument against liability for subsequent costs/damages. The govt. can't act arbitrarily and just take over without cause and expect to keep BP on the hook. It needs to establish a basis for doing so.

I know you want superman in a cape, but this is how it works in the real world.

Again you are another newbie who fails to understand the situation. Please take the time to read the related prior posts. You don't even need to read all the comments....just work through the information that the contributors have kindly given in the header article.

Okay, you seem to be the only one who understands anything. Imagine that. Our own resident super genius!

Here's a flashback from when an oil man was in the whitehouse, May 15, 2001:

Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

Sorry to disagree, This was a national emergency day one! That is the problem I have with how BO handled this! Was this his error of having the wrong people in cabinet to understand what happened (still his error)? Was he ignorant to believe what BP said without verifying what happened (still his error)? When giant pools of oil started to surface he still believed 1000 barrels a day were surfacing (still his error)? If most of us from days after incident understand the absolute horror in this spill and then understood his protection of TO Big To Fail Companies how can we come to any other conclusion other then BO failure to respond?

Bush or Palin or anyone else would have most likely put on the same kabuki dance. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Regardless of party affiliation the USG exists to service the needs of the rich, one of which is the provision of bread and circuses for everyone else. So long as the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, there is no national emergency.

Obama held an emergency meeting pretty much immediately. The fact that the US media decided not to report virtually anything of the incident at first is interesting though. Even getting TOD to allocate key posts to the disaster was difficult at first for that matter...

I didn't say he did not speak of the spill, I said he failed to call a National Emergency. Just as the Shrub failed to see Katrina as a national emergency ( as much as three days prior) BO is as fault, no if ands or buts. My pet goat seems to follow these clowns in either party. I raised money for BO sent him all the monies I could, house parties etc. Still this is on him for not understanding or having people in position that did not understand.
Friends and party hacks don't always make the best advisers.

BO is at fault for not calling a national emergency? What the heck would that have done?

All the pagentry accomplishes nothing.

I agree he was too trusting of BP at first, and should have come down harder on them from day one in the sense of setting benchmarks and clearer objectives/expectations. But really, he's doing everything he can to deal with the crisis that I can see, and is striking the right tone and holding BP to account. He does not have a magic pill to stop the oil or prevent the damage now that the oil is out there.

Sorry again I disagree, A national emergency allows the federal government to call in DOD, commandeer any private resources (drilling ships, tankers), state national guard. These tools could have been brought to bare far earlier.
This would have pulled expertise beyond his woefully lacking cabinet. Say what you want about the military but, they organize and execute like few other groups. This is a tragedy that is global and the weak thinking has allowed this to grow now far beyond what BP can contain. I don't think DOD would have taken BP at it's word!

Under the clean-up statute passed after Exxon Valdez that governs this spill, the president already has authority to do whatever he deems necessary in his oversight role, including directing private property and resources, and all federal resources necessary to deal with the situation.

What you are missing is that there is no technology to deal with a failed BOP 5000 feet under water. The military does not have it or he would have deployed them already. The military brass i have heard speak to the matter say it is better to let an oil company handle it since it is a leaking oil well. Makes sense.

So there is no tech to deal with a spill at a mile deep of ocean with a failed BOP? Must be Hollywood we are watching ha! Newbie, I know tech, energy and engineering. All I said was Bo could have added additional resources and clearly we needed them if you talk to Alan sitting in muck up to his eyeballs!
Ask Alan if he would have liked to have seen military with booms and skimmers?
All the forces of the government (which I am included) should have been brought to bare.

I can agree with using more govt. resources if you show me what they could do better. I do not know enough about resources currently deployed for skimming. I did hear they were getting over 25k barrels a day. I do not know what a reasonable total would be or how much more they could do. Would like to. I suspect not enough is being done. But as far as having the military take over? Show me what exactly they would do better and how. Plus the taxpayer is then picking up the tab. Is the amount of any improvement, if any, worth that cost? That's a legitimate question that needs to be asked.

I am sure we will see national guard involved at some point.

So there is no tech to deal with a spill at a mile deep of ocean with a failed BOP?

If there was I think the spill would have been contained by now. We have been told all along the relief wells are the only way this one can be killed.

Ask Alan if he would have liked to have seen military with booms and skimmers?

Where are those booms and skimmers coming from? The same outfits that are currently working for BP? Or are you proposing we add Naval vessels to the boom and skimmer contingent?

All the forces of the government (which I am included) should have been brought to bare.

That's a pretty broad brush to paint with. Most likely the government resources brought to bear would be those that are already participating. Any other additions would be agencies whose missions would facilitate the acquisition of settlements from BP, assuming that is not currently the case. By the by, just what role is your agency playing in this disaster? And if they aren't participating what value do you believe they could bring to the table?

Sorry, geoff, but these taunters will not be happy until the president puts on his superman cape, punches Tony in the nose and swoops down to plug the well all by himself.

The letter is very significant for several reasons. (1) It is the first time the govt. has told BP, "Not good enough, do better." This after their first letter giving 72 hours to come up with a plan. So, the govt. is taking charge with this letter, letting BP know it can expect to be watched and will be told to come back with more/better resources if it fails to do so on its own.

(2) the letter sets the basis for the govt. to push BP out of the way if it continues to fail to do adequate planning,, etc. If the govt. did this without first clearly establishing that BP was falling short, BO would have a strong argument against liability for subsequent costs/damages. The govt. can't act arbitrarily and just take over without cause and expect to keep BP on the hook. It needs to establish a basis for doing so.

I know some want superman in a cape, but this is how it works in the real world.

What exactly is going to happen after 48hrs?

It serves real purpose and I think we will see the result tonight. BP will go out of their comfort zone and try to get rig and other resource from other oil companies to try to speed up the process.. It is project management 101. You have to put a stake in the ground for want is acceptable (and what is not) and see if BP can come back with a better soluiton. My sense is that BP has gone through their company resource and try to fix the problem as much as they can. But they have not gone to other company for help yet (may be corporate ego kind of thing).. But the letter put a real spotlight on this issue and will force BP management to do the right thing. It also serve a legal stack on the ground that government is not happy with their response. And the difference is going to be additional penalty at the end when the count all the damage. It will end a lot of careers within BP if they cannot do better with the response (e.g. the COO, Doug Shuttle), so the hope is that BP will do better.. And that is the goal of the letter..

This has been an incredibly sobering and sad affair so I thank you for bringing a little humour to the oildrum. I presume you were being funny? Oh..you weren't sorry.....

BP will go out of their comfort zone

I would LOVE to take a video of you enjoying your comfort zone - and then getting out of said comfort zone...is there blue faced screaming involved?


What's anyone to do at this point? Stopping the flow is priority #1 that's a given but more focus should be placed upon where the Oil is showing up. It's ok for the Administration and Political grandstanders to proclaim that BP will 'pay' but I don't think there's any amount of money that could repair the damage already done. No, money isn't the answer. Manpower would help.


Oh, my fault,

I thought your post was in response to some letter that should have been dated May 13th.

Cleaning the marshes is the piece of the puzzle I'm focusing on. Gail's excellent post demonstrates that no options have been identified by MMS or the Coast Guard. The reports point out that a lot of the harm comes from smothering transpiration and/or respiration. If the oil is absorbed into the interior voids of a particle which acts like an ordinary solid, it is way less damaging. In previous posts I have talked about plant-based absorbents and biochar especially. I have followed with interest the discussion of coagulants as well (http://www.wintecusa.com/oilspillrecovery.php).

In the marshes, it is necessary to use an amendment that stays in place. I believe the ideal absorbent should have these properties:

1) It should float until saturated with oil (it would be ideal if it sank when saturated with oil);
2) after imbibing oil, surface of particle should not be oily (this only can happen if there is enough adsorbent to absorb all the oil;
3) The particle should be stable for at least ten years, so that it can hold the oil and release it slowly over a reasonable period for bio-degradation of the oil (this rules out plant material, I think, which will biodecay faster than the oil).

Activated charcoal has been mentioned as a solution. Essentially all of the activated charcoal on the market is derived from coal, and sinks in water. The conventional way to use activated charcoal would be to pump water through a bed of activated charcoal. It has also been suggested to broadcast powdered activated charcoal onto the surface of the oil, which has merit; however the fact that it sinks may reduce its effectiveness.

I am convinced that the best solution for the marshes is to use a form of biochar. A particularly useful form of biochar was previously commercially available:


The Sea Sweep process is described in US patent 5110785, by Thomas B. Reed, with whom I have been in contact (he is 85 and still active). I am also working with Biochar Engineering to try to redevelop a product as good as Sea Sweep was. This process could be accelerated dramatically by some money. Biochar can be made from essentially any cellulosic waste, though wood chips are especially useful.

The key property that differentiates Sea Sweep from activated charcoal and also conventional biochar is that it floats for weeks. In fact, it never does sink (reportedly) which is not ideal. Sea Sweep gets its hydrophobicity from adsorbed oils which are produced in the low temperature pyrolysis (350C) used to make it.

A poster in an earlier thread suggested using pumice as an absorbent.

justpassingthrough - http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6579#comment-645373

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

Pumice contains mostly closed cells. That is why it floats. An efficient absorbent needs to have open cells (like a sponge). The trick is to find an open cell material that soaks up oil but not water. Two things are required: very small cells and hydrophobicity. An extreme example is Gore-Tex, which is an open cell foam of PTFE (Teflon). The openings are very small (<0.1 micron), and PTFE really doesn't like water, so in this case it takes 40 psi or so to force water into the pores. Biochar is not nearly as hydrophobic, nor are the cells as small, but it is cheap.

Another adsorbent with pretty ideal properties (except it is too expensive) is hydrophobic aerogel:

This stuff will float on water for years, yet soaks up oil easily, and when it is full of oil it sinks...pretty ideal.

I have not figured out how to insert photos here, but I would invite you to look over the images of pumice found on wiki and Google.


Though I would agree that that pumice is not the ideal substance to serve as an oil absorbent. I believe it meets several of your criteria (including continuing to float) and it has the over-arching benefits of being abundantly available and cheap (maybe cheaper than bio-char?) and not really needing any additional processing in order to be ready to use. I have wonder whether any commercially produced absorbent is available in the quantities needed immediately? Not all pumice is alike and when it has weathered it has a considerably less pock-marked surface area, but it is self-selecting, in that the most buoyant rocks will float and the less buoyant will simply sink. No doubt, a certain portion of the sediment in the Gulf was pumice at some point so its enviromental impact is probably negligible.

I realize that I am projecting a lot of beliefs based on little or no empirical proof, but there's a lot of that going around. ;-)

If I was richer and crazier, I'd be driving a truck load of it down to NOLA just to see if someone would try it out.

Thought you might find this interesting if you haven't read it before:


One part of Paul Stamets TED video in 2008 concerned rehabilitationg oil soaked earth.


When Sea Sweep was trying to go commercial, they had studies showing it could be composted and something in that ecosystem eats the oil right out of the pores in the biochar.

Smothering, burning, removing or even cutting back live plants should be last resort and should only be done if the plants are dead and the spill itself is contained.

(The MMS report probably did not address a spill that is ongoing for months)

In Plaquemines Parish, of what I saw on CNN, there was still green above the oil damage.

If the grass stays green above the oil then it is has root activity.

Live grasses act as a bit of a filter themselves.

It is going to be a challenge to keep the oil out of the marshes and an even larger challenge to try to clean it/restore it.

My fear is that the oil could spread to inland/freshwater marshes.

There's another product called Oil Gator that has been tested and used successfully on oil spills. It was developed in cooperation with the USDA. This is from their website:

OIL GATOR is produced from recycled, chemically modified cellulosic fibers. It contains all the necessary ingredients (nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous) to enhance biodegradation of hydrocarbons by indigenous bacteria.

OIL GATOR meets all OSHA requirements and is biodegradable. It is not WHMIS regulated. When activated by the addition of moisture, the indigenous bacteria are furnished with ideal growth conditions, within which they proliferate and rapidly utilize the available hydrocarbon as a food source.

OIL GATOR’s powerful wicking action acts a physical emulsifier by actually extracting hydrocarbons from less absorptive material. OIL GATOR encapsulates the fine droplets making the hydrocarbon available to the bacteria as a food source. It is nonabrasive and will not harm machinery.

OIL GATOR absorbs and encapsulates hydrocarbons from the surface of land and water. When applied correctly, it will completely absorb toxins preventing them from leaching into the soils or into underground aquifers.

OIL GATOR can be incinerated and will contribute 7,000 BTU's per pound with less than 3% ash. It may be placed into landfills, or non-hazardous oil field waste land farm. The nature of the hydrocarbon absorbed determines the appropriate disposal method.


Comes in a 30 pound bag (13.5 Kg bag) for ease of handling and storage (also available in 1,500 lbs Sacs (675 Kg Sacs))
Lightweight- which will lower the cost of transportation.
Encapsulates oil or oil-based products where permitted by law
Ground cleaning by bioremediation.
Stops leaching of contaminants into the soil or groundwater.
Non carcinogenic & non abrasive
All natural cellulosic fibers
*where permitted by law


It is some sort of treated waste cellulose fiber...you can think of it as cellulose fibers coated by wax, but it could be grafted as well. It will rot before the oil degrades on the bayou, I think.

Can anyone tell me why Sea Sweep (basically charcoal) is not being used in the Gulf cleanup?

I think everyone should read the comment by dougr on the previous thread. If he's right( And I think that he is), then we've reached a critical point in this disaster.It's clear that BP is capturing only about 25% of the oil and gas pouring out of the well, while the well structure itself grows more unstable. The potential to have a billion gallons of oil dump into the gulf waters is very real.

In the spirit of trying to offer a constructive suggestion, I offer the following:

Fabricate a heavy steel ring that can be lowered to the ocean floor around the BOP. This ring could be maybe 60 feet in diameter, and high enough to encase the lower half of the BOP. Concrete could be pumped into this ring. Large eye bolts could be welded to the top of this ring to form stable attachment anchors. Hopefully, the hardened concrete pad would form a base to secure the well from future instability.

I think everyone should read the comment by dougr on the previous thread.


"The whole purpose is to get the kill mud down,” said Wells. “We'll have 50,000 barrels of mud on hand to kill this well. It's far more than necessary, but we always like to have backup."

Try finding THAT quote around...it's been scrubbed..


“The whole purpose is to get the kill mud down,” said Wells. “We'll have 50,000 barrels of mud on hand to kill this well. It's far more than necessary, but we always like to have backup.”

However that something is leaking below the sea bed certainly seems all too possible. But we don't have any visuals of the end of the riser as the top-kill was under way (we are told because you couldn't see anything for mud) and I have no idea what percentage of the mud shot out there compared to any lost down the hole.

Yes, I fear dougr may be right. The whole thing with the rupture disks was a big clue.

The only other possibility is that the top kill never had any chance for success at all, and it was just theatre to show they were doing something.

There are after all still headlines out there (near the top in google, if you google "BP oil spill" )that proclaim "top kill a success".

Re visuals of the riser end. I think this is an important consideration.

Had that same inquiry during top-kill. Indeed any intermittent feeds from that area were really cloudy and resembled the other large mud plumes from the kill attempt. As you allude to the mud tended to disperse everywhere being so dense, but the frame 'clarified' really well when they stopped pumping and the oil flow re-established.

What I_P and I observed during a late pause and subsequent abandonment of top-kill was definitely a much increased flow of dark crude going straight up from the riser end and a seemingly larger crater around the pipe end. I wonder if this might not indicate significant increased erosion of the kink and/or BOP components during top-kill and hence a large loss of mud from that location.

As I understood it top-kill was capable of pressure/flow of around 7000psi at around 50k bpd which fell off pretty fast if the volume was ramped up. As we are beginning to estimate bigger leak rates now (except for what resulted from removal of the kink restriction of course) wouldn't those also have to be applied to top-kill as well?

One can only hope. BTW dougr's post deserves to be a topper with all you knowledgeable insiders encouraged to respond too, great comments here as well.

Yes, with any blowout, you have the possibility of a parted casing string(s) downhole. Underground blowouts with burst casing are often related to shallow sands. After the well is controlled, you can run shallow (hi-resolution) seismic surveys (a series of single 2D lines at first) that will tell you where your subsurface hydrocarbons went. I've mentioned before I once sat on a relief well for an offshore blowout. The BOP stack was shut in (but it partially failed) but was shut in enough to cause the well to have a subsurface blowout. The gas flowed out the burst casing and along the outside of the whole thing and up to the surface. It also charged (flowed into) a shallow gas sand at about the same level as the burst casing. It was estimated later perhaps 3Bcfg flowed into the shallow sand in the vicinity of the blowout well. The blowout well "bridged over" before long. It most likely bridged over closest to the surface, as the gas quit flowing to the surface after a day or so, but since the shallow sand took maybe 3Bcf, the gas probably continued to flow into the shallow sand from the formations, up inside the casing and then through two strings of casing into the shallow sand.

Did the Top Kill give any information about a possible casing breach?
I'm pretty much out of my league when I talk about engineering casing designs; grab those salt grains as you read further.
With this Macondo 252 #1-01:
You have 36" conductor(drive) pipe set to 320+ ft below mudline. Traditionally, these are driven down, banged on (it's loud) until you can't bang on them any more.
Next you have the 28" casing (surface pipe) that is set in this case to around 1200' +/- below mudline.
You then have the 22" casing that is set about 2900' +/- below mudline. I believe this is the pipe that most likely supports the bulk of the weight of the BOP stack.
The 18" is a liner that's hung off of the 22" stack, I think. The base of the 18" is nearly 4000' below mudline. I don't know where the top of the 18" liner casing is, but let's say 250' above the base of the casing it was hung on, or about 2700' below mudline.
Then the 16" is run to the base of the BOP stack. The base of the 16" is 6860' below mudline.

If the formation fluids are coming up the outside of the 7 x 9 5/8" tapered casing, they're going up the inside of the 16" casing.

So, let's say that the fluids coming up the annulus between the 7 x 9 5/8" tapered casing and the 16" casing, and there's somehow enough backpressure to burst through the casing. Let's say it's going through the 16" casing. Most likely, it would not go through the 22" AND the 28" casing, but perhaps choose a spot lower than the base of the 28" casing. (Why not go out deeper? It could. But bear with me) I seriously doubt it went out through the 16, 22, 28 and the 36 inch casing strings all at once within a few hundred feet of the surface.

So, I'm painting a scenario where the oil and gas "choose" a window to burst through. This assumes there's enough backpressure to create that burst level pressure downhole. After all, if that "burst window" was that easy to pop through in the first place, the blowout would never have made it to the surface. Perhaps the riser keeling over created some temporary kinks before the riser kink itself breached. Who knows?
This all _assumes_ there _is_ a casing breach, something that's merely speculated on. I'm trying to get to this description to make my own point.

What I'm suggesting is that _if_ there is a casing breach, it's through the 16" and the 22" casing somewhere between 2700' below mudline (or above whereever the 18" liner is hanged from) and 1200' below mudline (the base of the 28" casing shoe)

If there's anyone that asks you, "Why do they run electric logs all the way to the surface, you have a reason to tell them. Don't you want to know if there are any sandy sections in that interval? I know I do.

Okay, we have a theoretical breach of two strings of casing between 2700' below mudline and 1200' below mudline in this scenario. Did the formation fluid get far, or did it seek the path of least resistance and travel up the outside of the casing/cement to the base of the BOP stack? Well, we might see blips and blobs of oil/gas or we might see a torrent.

NOW, let's talk about the Top Kill. You have the BP engineers that already know what I've said to you. It's a possibility. You deal with the reality. The reality is the bulk of the oil is coming up the BOP and into the riser. The Top Kill is tried after the new control pod is placed on the BOP stack. Pressures within the BOP stack are taken at various points before and after the Top Kill. I suspect the flow rates of mud and the pressures didn't exactly match up, but that's speculation on my part. What the effect of the Top Kill is, is to increase pressure at the surface, "bullheading" the formation fluids back down. The mud is pumped with enough volume to overcome the riser leaks. If you do this slowly, you don't run a high risk of _causing_ a subsurface blowout, but if there is one already there, you could open that up and leak off into the shallow sands.

So, let's say that some pressures and pumping mud volumes gave some BP engineers some indication that they've got a breach in the casing. They stop the Top Kill and proceed with capturing the oil as best they can (not so well so far, but whatever) in a passive manner.

Now to my point (whew, that was a long way to get here!)
The casing design means there's little chance of the BOP stack falling over, or even moving five inches from its spot.
It also means there's little chance for the BOP stack to fall off or completely break. What exactly is bent and at what angles are of interest. Did something bend enough below the BOP stack to break, and are we in danger of fluids coming out of somewhere really shallow? We don't know. If fluids come out of a very shallow breach due to bending stresses, does that mean the well has failed? Far from it. The erosion you hear about is overrated. Formation sands can be made to erode, but there's got to be a lot of them. Do you see that sand floating down in huge volumes? We saw the bullseye level the other day and that was not covered in all that much sand. We should see huge volumes of sand coating every bit of the BOP's lower sections. We don't. Sand production isn't a big issue in this case at the moment.

Do any fluids going into our theoretical casing breach mean anything? Well, they're obviously not coming up around the BOP stack in large volumes. Is the oil and gas leaving our breach and traveling laterally? Perhaps. What's the mechanism? Have the fluids traveled seven miles away and only then popped up to the mudline to leak away? Now you have to calculate some volumes. What's 7 miles times say 1800 feet wide times 20 feet high? Fill that volume with 5 ft of net oil, so instead of 20 feet high, it's only 5 effective feet of oil 'tall'. Maybe 3,000,000 barrels. Hey, anything is possible.

Point is, if the oil and gas DID leak through a casing breach, it's meaningless to both the oil spill killing shore critters and relief wells.

Why does a casing breach not impact a relief well operation? Can't the control mud flowing up the blowout from the relief well intersection just flow into the shallow formation forever, UTubing and preventing control of the blowout downhole? In theory, yes.

This is where the control fluids are added to the heavy mud, and this time it's more than cellophane and nutshells. All you have to worry about is the top of the BOP stack. There needs to be some pushback ready to go. Those orifices are too big to control, but the theoretical casing breach 1800' below the mudline is a problem, but it's not an insurmountable problem.

Thank you, R2-3D. Good discussion. Bottom kill is the correct answer, but I'm not altogether certain that relief well will succeed, unless they cement a large section of reservoir and give up the idea of producing at a later date with sidetracks.

R2: thanks for this detailed description.

The potential consequences of a casing breech depend upon the detailed circumstances.

One way to think about it is to imagine drilling a well from the bottom up. Suppose you had a rig down inside the reservoir, and you are drilling up towards the surface.

All of the material above the reservoir, the formations of rock, sand, sediment, and the seawater column, act like a huge column of drilling mud: they work to hold the reservoir in place.

If you drill up one foot, nothing is going to happen. The remaining materials will continue to hold the reservoir, as they have done for geologic periods of time.

If you drill all the way up to within a few feet of the sea floor, well, things might get interesting. The remaining overburden could give way, giving the reservoir a means of escaping into the water.

So the consequences very much depend upon the geology and pressures at and around the breech location.

Thanks very much for taking the time to write this out. This account is better reasoned and to me more authoritative (based on better knowledge/experience) than the doomsday scenario post. Even if the seeping seen on the ROV captures is leaking oil, which seems an open question at best, it does not portend the imminent collapse of the wellhead or toppling of the BOP.

People really seem to have a need for some reason to create the "all hope is lost" scenarios in any big crisis. It's interesting.

So you don't even want to question what effect a MASSIVE drill platform bursting into flames and sinking might have on the BOP and casing as it is exerting undoubtedly MASSIVE force on the riser.

Never mind. I'm sure it didn't even effect it. MASSIVELY

Signed, A MASSIVE skeptic.

R2-3D wrote:

"The casing design means there's little chance of the BOP stack falling over, or even moving five inches from its spot.

It also means there's little chance for the BOP stack to fall off or completely break."


This - and the 'erosion factor' - seem to be the principal differences between R2-3D's surmises and dougr's.

If the BOP is still fairly stable in it's 'mooring', can one draw any hope that some increased back pressure above the BOP might be added (as necessary) to help defeat mud loss to the top when the bottom kill is attempted?

(Or is my understanding of the process hopelessly skewed?)


Peter B.


The Overshot Tool will be turned upside down over the entire area where the LMRP cap is now. Somehow, there will be a seal or two, or the entire thing will be lined with neoprene along the sides. How this seal functions we aren't told, but we have been told they (BP engineers) expect to not worry about the seawater incursion. This means at least a decent seal, but probably a low leak off (this number will be critical, and it's it's not 1000# someone hasn't designed this properly). (Again, I'm not an engineer, but part of the peanut gallery)

When the mud comes up from the relief well bottom kill, it will easily go past the BOP at the mudline and either
a) travel up the riser or whatever conducts the oil to the surface after the Overshot Tool is in place
b) the valve at the Overshot Tool connection will be closed.

This is that "backpressure" you have to have. How good the seal is between the Overshot Tool will be known that day. If there's a small or no flow, all is working. What lost circulation material is used to seal any casing breach will also work in the seal at the Overshot Tool (however, I suspect that seal will be a dynamic one, and the effect of lost circulation material there will be fleeting.

Wow, BPSKEPTIC. After reading dougr, you propose surrounding the BOP with a 60x20-25 ft hunk of concrete? This would indicate reading-comprehension challenges and probably some attention-deficit problems too, so I bet you missed kalliergo's report: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6593#comment-649007

Ooo wee.

dougr's comment is one of the most depressing things I've ever read. Also see:


Apocalypse time, maybe. Let's hope not. If it happens, changes will come to this country we can't imagine now.

Here's what can happen with a shallow casing failure:


If this happened here, there would be evidence, oil and gas erupting from the mud. A deeper casing failure would allow the pressure to flow in or out depending on formation pressure, but not necessarily to the surface.

I came to the same conclusion as dougr several days ago however it seems like back pressure is the issue. As long as they let the leak flow freely out of the BOP the casing leak, in what form it might be, doesn't seem to a big problem...yet.

They are doing the best thing in attempting to capture all they can AFTER it leaks out, creating minimal back pressure, and putting all the emphasis on the relief well efforts.

Its the only explaination I can come up with as to why they didn't unbolt the fitting at the top of the BOP after they cut off the riser, and then bolt on a huge, open valve and either shut it off or connect it to a new riser. If you look at the photos after they cut off the riser there was only a short section of riser pipe left then a bolt on collar.

Anyone want to explain why they didn't unbolt that connection and bolt on something else?

Anyone want to explain why they didn't unbolt that connection and bolt on something else?

One ROV spent several days on and off trying to unscrew a bolt on the cut off section of the riser. A few days ago they brought down a new tool and this time the ROV succeeded in removing a bolt. So if they decide in future to unbolt the remaining riser section from the top of the BOP then at least they have the tools to do it there now.

It's clear that BP is capturing only about 25% of the oil and gas pouring out of the well

That is a strawman proposal to try to slip in an estimate of 60,000 bbl of spill.. do you have any reason to believe you have a better source of information than the government group of scientist estimation of 20,000 to 40,000 (not that I believe them either.. But at least they have spent more effort and better access to the limited information that us, the newbie)

Fabricate a heavy steel ring that can be lowered to the ocean floor around the BOP.

May be you have not follow previous thread very much. The seabed is full of sands. how do that support the weght of the ring and tons of concrete that you propose to pour on top of it? If the problem is so easily solve, do you really think everyone who work on this problem in BP's payroll is so dumb??

Thanks for defending science my friend! What part of 1000-2000 ft. of mud and sand do these people not read? Thanks again!

it gets better. Here is a link to seabed leakage as viewed by robot.
http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com yes its leaking from the seabed.

If you watch closely in the beginning of the top video on Higgin's site, and focus on the debris being moved by small currents, the apparent leaks sprout just as an eddy of current hits them. Subsequent things that look like leaks shoot up just after the ROV changes position with its thrusters, especially noticeable in the big clouds at about 00:29, just after the ROV shifted to the left. These clouds are completely consistent with silt being blown around by the thrusters. No evidence here of a subsurface oil leak.

The 9 minute video focussed on a pipe and apparatus lying on the seafloor isn't of high enough resolution to see much of anything clearly.

Sorry, there may be other leaks in the area, but these videos don't prove it.

Thank you. i thought i was being helpful. I will be more careful in the future.

You were being helpful by posting the link so we could see the videos, thanks for that. As for being more careful, heck, we all jump to conclusions sometimes (except maybe Rockman).

This may have some other possible explanation but it is not thruster kick.

It appears that way because the YouTube Video skips frames. After you rewind the video you can get all the frames and see the oil clearly coming out of the cracks.

For example take this progression (There is an even more detailed one on my site).

Also, at 2:45 you see coagulated globs of oil come up from the cracks... that is not mud.

My Mac played the video very smoothly first time, Alex, thank you.

This video looks like a survey of a piece of drilling debris, the light surface with the ragged hole is convex like a pipe or tank, and the ROV moves along it past some brackets or valves or something. The dark plumes could be trapped oil flushed out by thruster current, they don't seem to be flowing out on their own.

The footage at 2:45 is in a different location with no apparent crack. There is a black video artifact at the upper left from 2:41 to 2:45. Is that what looks like a glob? At about 3:00 on the left side of the screen you can see the edge of a huge jagged hole, to me it looks like a tank that was ripped open.

So, who is the actual ORIGINAL writer of this post, dougr or SHR at Godlike Productions?


SHR---whoever that is---;-).

Oh where do I start ha! What part of 1000'-2000' of mud ocean floor do you and your altar ego not understand? So you want to suspend oil recovery of 40,000 barrels of oil poring into the gulf daily while you take 2-3 months to build your GIANT Porch Post Form. Weld together a form a mile long to cover a possibly damaged BOP which might leak below the surface. Or did you think you could just fire hose into the ocean quick setting concrete post cement? Sounds famously like a altered sinking battle ship ha! You should read about what the well looks like. Really. Really, more quick setting post cement ideas. Oh not to mention 13,000 psi oil shooting out the top of the BOP. Really.

"What part of 1000'-2000' of mud ocean floor do you and your altar ego not understand?"

An "altar" ego at Godlike Productions?

Makes perfect sense.

I posted a few hours ago in the prior thread a report on Simmons & Company. It is common knowledge that Matthew Simmons (Chairman Emeritus of Simmons & Company) has been making apocalyptic comments about the BP spill and its impending bankruptcy, so it is of interest that his company has just come out with a change in their rating of BP from neutral to overweight.

(note that Simmons & Company have modified their website in the past few days so even though there is an entire section devoted to Matt, he has been removed from their Senior Partners page. Here is the May 29 Cache of that same page.)

Imagine that all the water vanishes from the GOM leaving the oil behind. What would you see?

You'd see a huge, turbulent column of oil rising from the damaged BOP, going up 5000' from the sea bed and spreading out in a thin layer where the water surface would be. It would look like an orange or silvery cirrus cloud.

About 600' above the BOP you'd see a faint oily mist start to separate from the main rising oil plume. This mist consists of micro-scale droplets of oil ripped from the main plume by the force of gas coming out of solution and expanding. The currents (or breezes, in our vision) would carry this oily mist off into the distance, forming a faint ribbon of cloud. This is the famous "vast plumes of oil" which Dr Joye is tracking and sampling. See her Gulf Blog.

In addition, there would be other faint plumes of oily mist rising from the sea floor like the smoke from distant bush fires. These are the natural seeps.

There might also be a very faint haze drifting from the Mississippi delta. This is the old engine oil and oily chemicals disposed of into the drains and washed off the roads by the rain.

If you were Matt Simmons, you'd see a SECOND giant plume of rising oil. This doesn't come from the BOP but from a hole in the sea bed where the BOP used to be. This oil doesn't rise to the surface where we could see it. It rises maybe 1000' then spreads out into a vast underwater lake of oil. No reputable scientist believes in its existence so they are not trying to track it and sample it.

"Imagine that all the water vanishes from the GOM leaving the oil behind. What would you see?"

A cumulonimbus cloud, spreading out at the "inversion" called the hydropause.

We have had several postings here stating that Simmons and Co. disavow any continuing relationship with Matt Simmons and his opinions.

Animal, perhaps you have a link.

I find it odd that they would have an entire page devoted to his speeches and media appearances. I have seen no press release indicating that they have severed the relationship with their chairman.



Matt is is not the chairman of the board, these days, he is "chairman emeritus."

If you search through recent threads here, or with Google, you will find that Simmons & Co. have issued a statement officially distancing the company from some of Matt's statements and analyses.

Whether or not they "distanced" themselves and I have not found a single link from an independent source (Wikipedia notwithstanding) that corroborates that official or otherwise, suffice to say he is a company insider who spent the better part of a month discussing the demise of BP with outlandish theories only to have Simmons and Company put an overweight rating on BP.

"...and I have not found a single link from an independent source (Wikipedia notwithstanding) that corroborates that official or otherwise..."

You need to look harder, or perhaps with more care. I gave you a big hint in my earlier post: Search TOD threads.

As to whether or not Matt is still a company insider, that's an open question, at least as to fact. Whether he is an insider WRT securities law, I'm sure someone here can answer that question with some authority.

I'd be willing to bet that real Simmons and Co. insiders very much wish that he be neither.

In any case, I think you can rest assured that Matt & Simmons and Co. have not cooked up a crazy stock manipulation scheme. It would be ridiculously transparent and they aren't nearly that dumb (although Matt does seem to be pretty far off the mark on some issues, of late).

Kalli, as I suspected you are simply making an assumption without any fact or data to back it up.

The text of the "distancing" email was posted on TOD a couple weeks ago, but it has resisted my attempts to locate it. Does anyone else remember where it was posted?

If this was addressed the other day in the "hurricane" thread, I apologize and would appreciate any help in finding relevant discussion.

I find myself wondering whether the oil in/on the water will have any effect on severity and/or tracking of hurricanes in the area. It seems to me that there are a couple of mechanisms by which oil could have an impact on a hurricane, but I can't figure out which way the effects would trend.

On the one hand, it seems there should be some impact on local seawater temperature just due to changes in solar absorption. I can't figure out whether an oil sheen would raise or reduce the solar absorptivity and therefore whether it would have a heating or cooling effect locally.

More interestingly, I'm curious about the effect of an oil layer on transfer of heat from the water surface to the air in the storm. I'm not certain, but it seems to me that the main mechanism for this heat transfer would be through evaporation of the water. Although I'm not sure how effective it'd be, it seems that an oil layer should have a snubbing effect on this transfer.

Any thoughts?

I haven't kept up with TOD so I don't know if these have been mentioned, but Jeff Masters over at Weather Underground has a couple of posts on his blog that address these things:


Thanks, those links were pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

The NHC fact sheet will answer these questions (TOD, is there a way to make available a link to this, especially considering we're going to have TS Alex in about 24 hr? thx).


Infra red would, normally, be absorbed in the upper layers of the sea, warming it. If there is sufficient oil, on the surface, the heat would be absorbed at the surface and not get into the bulk of the water. It would radiate freely from there. My feeling is that the bulk temperature of the water may be cooled but it would show a higher surface temperature. As hurricanes feed on the heat in the water this may damp the hurricane. The Reynolds SST Analysis shows a slight warming in the area but there is not enough resolution to correlate. I would not like this to tested by experiment.


Heat will be conducted very rapidly from the floating oil to the water beneath it. Evaporation from the water surface is reduced, which is a major pathway by which heat is transfered from the ocean to the atmosphere. It would seem VERY unlikely that the oil will cool the surface waters.

Don't forget that warm water rises;) I was thinking more about direct radiation and wind cooling from the oil layer than evaporation. It is just my thoughts on the situation and I really don't want us to have to find out exactly what does happen so I will keep my fingers crossed for a late start and some lucky tracks.


Oceanography 101. The upper 100m or so of the ocean is typically well-mixed by wave action and fairly uniform in temperature; even a surface oil slick will not prevent this. Heat absorbed by surface oil unless it is extremely thick (which it is not) will rapidly make its way into the surface mixed layer of the ocean.

See the refs to Jeff Masters' writing cited above about sea surface temperatures, hurricanes, and oil. He's an expert in this field. He expects higher temperatures under the oil.

Re: Cleaning up the marshes -

The addition of nutrients can speed up the biodegradation proceess only if nutrient availability is a limiting factor to the growth of microorganisms. Oxygen availability can also be a limiting factor, as can sunlight for certain organisms. So, even if in a given situation the addition of nutrients speeds up the growth of microorganisms, there is the danger of the increased biochemical activity depleting the oxygen in the water and possibly leading to the death of higher organisms, such as crustaceans and fish. It is not something to be used in an uncontrolled manner. In other words, you don't just start spraying nutrients all over the place and realistically expect all sorts of good things to happen.

While it is true that there are a variety of sorbent materials that can bind a large amount of oil for their weight, there are some serious logistical and mass transfer problems in trying to employ those in a marshland environment, where one is not dealing with open water but rather soft swampland filled with masses of water plants. This becomes particularly daunting when the problem is on a truly massive scale, as this one is. One of the main obstacles is the difficultly in trying to evenly disperse the sorbent material so as to ensure maximum contact with oil-contaminated areas. How does one do this in a large swampy environment? Spraying a slurry from swamp buggies? Dropping the material from planes? Is this doable for hundreds of square miles of swamp? Can this material itself disrupt these delicate habitats and actually cause damage?

I think that when it comes to the marshes, once the oil is already in there and most of it has been skimmed off the freestanding water as best as can be done, perhaps the best thing to do is to just leave it alone and let nature take its course. Anything else might very well do more harm than good. I know that's not a very optimistic take on the matter, but let's face it: there is going to be massive environmental damage that could very easily take decades to heal.

Are marsh grasses primarily annual plants? Perhaps some sort of harvest and replanting system that removes contaminated grasses and replaces them with grass shoots. Do it in sections to maintain whatever integrity is left.

Are marsh grasses primarily annual plants?


They aren't annuals, but they can be replanted, probably via division from healthy plants.


The link I provided was:
Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana

A snip from the site for a project that was planned probably quite some time before the oil spill

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana invites you to participate in a marsh restoration project in the open mud flats located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain within the USFWS Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. This area provides essential protection for our inland communities and wetlands. We will plant over 10,000 plugs of vegetation to stabilize and vegetate the bare marsh platforms that were recently created by the CWPPRA Goose Point/Point Platte Marsh Creation Project, which dredged sediments from Lake Pontchartrain to create over 550 acres of marsh platform. In addition, the project will also create wildlife habitat, increase species diversity and provide a seed source for natural regeneration.


Thanks Gail! Another great post.

There is a sad fact that seems to be rarely mentioned in the various clean-up schemes - this spill is an ongoing occurrence, not a single event. The most optimistic (but very unlikely ) scenarios have the well being killed in August. Then, all of the oil "en-route" will probably take a few more weeks to make it ashore.

So if treading lightly into the marsh to clean it up is an option, we'll also need to remember that we'll be treading lightly into the marsh on a weekly basis for the next 3, 4, 5....months to repeat the process. If there is a magic clean up material to be spread across the marshes, expect it to be applied many, many times. Will the twenty-fifth application be as effective as the first one?

I'm imagining Sisyphus with a mop, paper towels and oil booms....

I have a hypothetical question to pose to you all and have wondered about it for a week or so now.

Which would be worse for all involved (companies, governements, locals, ocean and coastal ecosystems)?

- A leak of gas/crude like we have now for years and years until the reservoir is totally depleted.


- A complete and sudden depletion of the entire reservoir into the GOM in a day or two.

The best--worst case scenario IMO is 2-3 relief wells turned into production wells. IMO They should be planning for this.

If the USG is taking a substructure collapse doomsday scenario seriously, why wouldn't there be more than two wells being drilled?

What might happen with a substructure collapse depends on how catastrophic it would be. The 2 relief wells they're drilling now are too close for comfort imo. How far away from the site would it be safe to place more?


dragonfly41 -

I have pondered that exact same question. It is a good reminder that what we have here is not really an oil 'spill' in the usual sense, but rather a large continuous release of oil. There are obviously major differences.

I guess the answer is not totally clear and depends on very many factors. I view it as roughly analogous to a hypothetical situation where a terrorist in possession of given volume of nerve gas has a mission to kill as many people as possible. It is more effective for this person to release it all at once in say the New York subway at rush hour, or does he try to distribute it over a wider area over a longer period of time?

If he releases it all at once in a confined area, some people will receive a dosage thousands of times higher than the lethal dosage and he will thus have wasted much of the material. However, if he methodically sprays it in a fine mist from a truck slowly driving down the crowded streets at what he believes will be just at the lethal dosage, he will likely kill more people.

Along the same lines, I am more of the opinion that a continual oil release spread over a period of months is likely to cause more environmental damage than a single massive sudden release. The sudden release, while highly destructive, is over and done with, and due to it being a short-term event will likely not have distributed oil at toxic levels as far and wide as the slow continuous release. Also, as long as the release is still going on, the affected areas will not be able to even begin to recover. I think the distribution factor is key to this question. If the release continues for several more months, there is hardly going to be any part of the Gulf that will not be negatively affected in some way. It sort of boils down to a matter of acute versus chronic toxicity.

I have pondered that exact same question. It is a good reminder that what we have here is not really an oil 'spill' in the usual sense, but rather a large continuous release of oil. There are obviously major differences.

One point I've noticed is that the governments responses have all been to an acute occurrence, as if just by jumping on BP and "kicking their a$$" BP will turn off the spigot and commence the cleanup of "an oil spill". They don't seem to have any real provisions in place to battle an on-going scenario of a blow-out. IIRC, back with the Exxon Valdiz there were several recommendations made to have assets staged around the country, and funds appropriated for same, to cut down on the lag of getting appropriate equipment and materials to the locations.

Needless to say our vaunted politicians raided the funds to pay out to their plantation hands, and any equipment was soon forgotten or reassigned. Unlike in a private company, in a government bureaucracy no one needs to make a decision; if all the 'rules' are followed no decision is required, but any deviation needs approvals all the way up the chain.

Two deviation (I'm not certain they've been approved yet) that made me disgusted with the whole shebang were the 'violations' of The Jones Act and the EPA's restrictions on Water/Effluent Discharge.

Jones stipulates that a non-US Flagged vessel cannot stop into two consecutive US ports. That precludes any of the very large tankers being used to gather and ferry any oil/water mixes into a terminal.

EPA had initially refused to allow foreign skimmer vessels access, as their operation only recovered >95% of the oil, and their 'rules' preclude "dumping" of the <5% oily water back into the Gulf.

I'm sure there are many other problems, equally impacting both fed/state governments and private reclamation activities. I also know we don't want to make it worse - but doing nothing awaiting the perfect solution is not an option.

"Government always knows better than the citizens what is good for them, and there’s no limit to the amount of the citizens’ money it will spend to constantly remind us."
-- Josh Painter

3 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf? 3 billion barrels of oil really? They would drill baby drill multi dozens production wells before letting anything like 3 BILLION BARRELS OF OIL hit the gulf!

It is a hypothetical. I believe both of these scenarios have been discussed and mitigation plans created. The reason I bring this up is this. What if US gov/BP try everything, including relief wells, nothing works to stop the leak. At that point, plans to stop the leak at the source could come into play? Would they go to the extreme of trying to blast or cave in the well closer to the source? If so, what risk would you run of making the leak worse, a lot worse.

If relief wells don't work and they are forced to consider going for a riskier move (possibly increasing the flow dramatically) or sticking with the lower flow that they know and have some capture success, which is really the best?

Thank you, Doug.

How far is this from the BOP?

Location of the sea floor crack leaking:
E: 1202852.27

My calculations indicate:

The ROV is 19.11 feet north and 55.75 feet west of the leak point.
The ROV is 58.93 feet away from the leak point.

SEE THIS: BP Gulf Oil Spill ROV UTM Distance Calculator

That is a nice bit of work Alex - could you add the permitted locations for wells A and B to your .jpg?

Well A: N 10431617.00, E 1202803.88
Well B: N 10434194.00, E 1202514.00

Edit: If the locations of the relief wells could be determined that would be of interest too.

Also there was some watching of what might have been leakage at N 10430532.28 E 1202548.55 Don't recall the ROV feed and the image did not clearly show the sea floor and was always a bit dark.

this is a screen capture from June 10 (note the caption at the bottom of the screen)


I posted this in a thread above, but it is pertinent here:

If you watch closely in the beginning of the top video on Higgin's site, and focus on the debris being moved by small currents, the apparent leaks sprout just as an eddy of current hits them. Subsequent things that look like leaks shoot up just after the ROV changes position with its thrusters, especially noticeable in the big clouds at about 00:29, just after the ROV shifted to the left. These clouds are completely consistent with silt being blown around by the thrusters. No evidence here of a subsurface oil leak.

"...the apparent leaks sprout just as an eddy of current hits them."

That is not apparent to me and, if it were the case, would not prove, or even suggest, that the activity visible is *not* leakage, from somewhere/something.

"Subsequent things that look like leaks... are completely consistent with silt being blown around by the thrusters."

That appears to be correct.

"No evidence here of a subsurface oil leak."

The evidence doesn't support that conclusion, or any other conclusion. Rather, it suggests further careful observation.

K, you seem to be putting a higher burden of proof on me for saying it's just silt than on others for saying the ocean floor has cracked open and oil is pouring out. Silt is everywhere down there and many videos show it being blown around by currents. That is the norm in this environment.

But your comment about "leakage, from somewhere/something" got me to take a third look at the video, and I caught something I had missed before.

The "rock" in the beginning has a uniform convex surface, flattened somewhat by the wide-angle lens, but it shows as the ROV pans to the left. Then the ROV moves on a linear path over that same convex surface and reaches some mystery apparatus. This looks like an ROV survey of Deepwater Horizon debris. And yes, early in the vid we might be seeing trapped oil being forced out of a breach in the wall of a tank or pipe by the thrusters, as well as some silt drifted down onto it. Wouldn't have noticed all that without your reply, thank you.

Still, I'm gonna stick to my guns and say there isn't anything here that shows oil and gas from the reservoir coming through a subsurface crack.

Watching the whole thing it does look like a survey of a debris field - too bad the video resolution is so poor.

Doug, you do realise that if your hypothesis is mostly correct then it was possibly a reprieve that the BOP didn't function correctly?


Doug - It looks to me like the rov in the clip is hovering over a piece of Deepwater Horizon wreckage. It doesn't have the appearance of the rest of the sea floor, and it is located next to some obvious wreckage (seen toward the end of the clip). I think Occam's razor suggests that we're seeing leakage from debris.

If the sea floor is as hard as what looks like on that video, I'll eat a bug.

It looks like mud with a consolidated skin on top.

When it comes to mudline near the end of the Mississippi Delta, there's no such thing as "consolidated". You might get sand. You will get mud. You won't get consolidated.

Let's say there is a leak as I mentioned with the theoretical casing breach in this thread. If there isn't significant volume of oil/gas, (and btw, I _would_ like to see gas bubbling up at the same leak as the oil, as in theory this would be the updip section of the casing breach and this is a gassy oil) then any oil under the mudline is oil that hasn't entered the Gulf of Mexico. BP can't even get fined for that. And unless there's a significant flow to the surface, this is an academic exercise.

Edit to add: There's zero guarantee that if there is that casing breach and what you see are whisps of oil from that casing breach, that this would be the spot to observe when the bottom kill proceeds. As I mentioned, when the bottom kill mud starts flowing up the annulus of the blowout, the theoretical casing breach will proven significant or insignificant/non-existent. That's the time the ROV drivers earn their pay again, and when the lost circulation materials get applied in the well.

One thing is certain about the any theoretical casing breach: If the fluids can only reach the surface via a permeable layer, lost circulation material should stop it cold. If the fluids break through around the base of the BOP, then there's a bigger issue, but it's still something that can be dealt with.


Thanks for the sanity. If the Mississippi was pushing rocks the ACoE would be dredging them from the upstream side of a loch. Also thanks for the tech talk on well construction/development and I think anyone caring to read might comprehend. When I spend time looking at heah look; *oil leaking from a rock* I start to get a loggerhead twitch.

I wonder if Higgins ever considered what is supporting the rock and if it isn't mud just how big the base of the rock must be. It's just another example of how clueless people are of what really happens in the world on a daily basis.

To you or anyone and this pertains to the condition of the well. In the munched riser there's a piece of pipe. Is it one or two has been the question? I have searched but couldn't find info on what was in the well at the time of the blowout. I remember talk about the BOP possible failure due to tool collars, connections etc. being to thick for the BOP ram shear but I don't recall and can't find info on the drill string. Had it been pulled, was in the process of being pulled or was it still in the well. The follow up is there has been speculation the the pipe we see is casing but to me the size would be incorrect. The drill string still in the well explains why the shear/scrapyard muncher didn't flatten it completely. I the string was still in the well and riser blew out of the BOP then we would be seeing three pipes i.e. a pipe, inside a pipe, inside a pipe. Of course that could change if the drill string broke but that's not my first guess.

It was in the well - ~8,000' (ML - 3,000') displacing with seawater to that depth and preparing to set cement plug. The details are given in the pdf provided by BP being discussed below - their summary of the accident. Lower portion was 3.5". As to what happened during the blow out - did the DP (and maybe some casing) start to travel up the well - maybe. If BP retrieved the snipped section of riser and did forensics they would know the answer to this most likely.


I think they have cause for concern with that casing design, the 16" being the weak spot with 6920 psi burst and nothing behind the casing but 14 ppg mud. I don't think BP realized until the Top Kill burst the rupture disk that they were in communication with the annulus and that that was where the flow was coming from. In hindsight it was a good thing that the BOPs had failed as they did or total casing failure would have happened with no chance of any oil recovery while the relief wells were being drilled. So I would say that what caused the blowout was not having a casing design that could be shut in.

Since the flow was coming up the annulus any of the pressure and flow tests between drill pipe and kill line would only be testing the 7X9 7/8 and its seat in the downward direction. There was no lock down sleeve run. In the inquiry Mark said something about how the service rig would have to do that, I can't remember him saying it was on the rig, but that it was in the drilling program and it hadn't been run. Without the lockdown sleeve the only thing holding the seal in place is the weight of the casing, about 550,000 pounds. The seal goes from 9 7/8" to 18" though I don't know how much of this would be exposed to the pressure at the bottom, it's about 150 square inches and would only take a 3,700 psi pressure differential to lift the casing and break the seal. Also, with the weight of the casing off the bottom hole the pressure at the shoe might have been enough to start blowing the whole casing string to surface. What was cut off in the riser looks to me like 5 1/2" drill pipe inside of 9 7/8" casing.

I don't think they had the order of the cement reversed. That would be just too huge a FU. But any cement will go through a period when it is setting up where it loses the hydrostatic pressure and will allow gas migration until the cement is fully set. Unless there were channels in the cement which is possibly since they ran 6 rather than the recommended 21 centralizers. In either case there might have been enough high pressure gas that migrated to the surface that it was enough to pop the seal at the wellhead.

I remember seeing that operators have deployed a carpet of these concrete mats http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snppAm6M5Ko around the wellhead to make it easier to place tool cribs and equipment w/o having them sink out of sight in the mud. IIRC it was quite an extensive operation and extends out some distance from the BOP.

In all the hundreds of hours of ROV video, how many rocks have you seen? I guess there are rocks all over the place down there and they are all leaking oil, but BP has manipulated the video feeds to make sure we never see them. They slipped up just this one time thinking that the public is too stupid to know how to record an XML feed, but we got 'em! Yeah!!

That's a burnt and cracked piece of metal. It leaks more when the ROV thrusters blow on it. Look, I know different people react to traumatic situations in all kinds of different ways. Many times I've been close to 'breaking point' and had to just turn everything off and cry like a little girl. But seriously, is inventing fantasies an effective method for dealing with this?

Many of the "leaks" that I see pointed out appear to be more like mud kicked up by thrusters. Many of the ones, in this clip, move away from the ROV which tend to support that.


I read dougr's post. It's that scariest thing I've seen recently.

Can anybody take apart his scenario and show where his reasoning is wrong?


Its tragic that the oil has reched the marches. The problem is not short term (days or weeks) but long term (months and years). You can't clean a mangrove or straw swamp from sticky oil - i'ts impossible.

You can spread anything to soak the oil, because it introduces yet another foregin element to the marches, and you can not remove it again.

In the long term the thick sticky oil could deprive the plants of oxygen or poisen them as it seeps in the the soil / root zone.

My only prpoosal would be to cut down and burn oil infected arears, og just burn them.

Should be possible with flamethrowers and maybee napalm or both in combination.

Wildlife would such a birds, incets etc. woud be damaged by this, but the effect will be short term.

Plantlife would quickly recover from a burn, as the roots are not affected.

Biggest problem beeing, that oil continues to flow in. So it might have to be repeated.

If one wats too long, i.e. after the well has been stopped, oil might have gotten in to the root zone, and its too late to du anything.

I think Doug has done a pretty good job, with one caveat. As pointed out here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6593#comment-648994 Doug asserts that there are no rupture disks 1000 feet below the sea floor, whilst the diagram released of the well design explicity shows exactly that - a 16" rupture disk at 6000 feet below sea level (and hence 1000 feet below sea floor.)

It seems that his nightmare scenario depends upon this disk not existing. He needs to explain why it is shown on this diagram.

He may still be right, but at the moment the logical flow has a show stopper.

Doug's post also appeared at Godlike Productions where there are a number of folks running around with their hair on fire. However, there's a post by "Grey Wolf" that addresses some of the doomsday post, on this page: http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1097505/pg15

sh: I had never heard of Godlike Productions so I made a visit. As far as I can tell, they are mostly an aggregator which trolls for "really scary things. BOO!" I have no idea why Doug's post is there. I await some of the experts whom I trust on TOD to comment. "It's too soon to tell."

I check out Godlike Productions now and then as the group there really pride themselves at catching breaking news from around the world.

There is just as much debunking of conspiracy theories as there is trolls for "really scary things."

As with any site, even TOD, you have to still act as if you have a brain and check things out for yourself.

ee: Just to be clear: I didn't say they were trolls. I used "tolling" in the sense of "fishing for." You need to catch the "scary thing" to debunk it... or not.

"Trawling" might be a better description of their methodology. Trawling uses a net to gather everything in its path. Trolling is using a baited line to see what it will hook. And Trolls live under bridges (and blogs). ;)

It's not Doug's post. The post you are referring to that has dougr's name attached to it ORIGINATED at GODLIKE PRODUCTIONS!



Dougr posted it here, however. And since we're going by snappy netnames, who knows who is who? It's the content and what does or doesn't back it up that counts.

Re: the oil seepage a mile from the well, I think it'd be important to try to get a sample to see if it's from the same reservoir as what's seeping up near the well.

Like I said, you might be right. But perhaps you could answer the question, because it does call into significant question the rest of your hypothesis. Is there a rupture disk at 1000 feet below sea floor or not? You assert there is not, and yet the diagrams clearly show that there is one in the design. Why is it shown on the diagram?

The rupture disk might have been there at one time but it didn't function as a rupture disk....it failed. If it didn't function as a rupture disk it may as well have not been there. It's certainly not a "rupture disk" now and any claim that it is somehow relevant to the reality of the situation is an exercise in picking nits from ones gazed at navel.


WASHINGTON—BP PLC has concluded that its "top-kill" attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk inside the well about 1,000 feet below the ocean floor.

Perhaps you can explain how a rupture disk fails then? There is a mismatch in semantics happening here. BP said it malfunctioned. Funny word. A rupture disk can only do one of two things. Rupture, or stay intact and closed. Everyone has assumed that BP meant that the disk had ruptured, but they didn't intend it to. So that is a malfunction.

You are saying it "failed". I have no idea what you are trying to say when you say "it isn't a rupture disk now". It is either a solid disk, still intact, and preventing communication between inside the casing and the outside, or it ruptured and does allow communication. It seems that you are asserting that it failed by not rupturing. That is the only way that the remainer of your scenario plays out. So why did BP say the top kill was stopped because the disk malfunctioned? The only logical answer that supports your view is therefore that BP expected it to rupture and it didn't. But that makes exactly no sense. They said they stopped because they were getting mud loss after a malfuction.

You wrote:

There are no "Disks" or "Subsea safety structure" 1,000 feet below the sea floor, all that is there is well bore. There is nothing that can allow the mud or oil to "escape" into the rock formation outside the well bore except the well, because it is the only thing there.

It seems you are now retreating from this position. The diagrams clearly showed that this statement was totally wrong.

If there is indeed a rupture disk in place, and if it did actually rupture (BP said it "malfunctioned", you say it "failed" however I think we can assume that the disk did actually rupture) we end up with a perfectly reasonable circumstance that is consistent with the published nature of the situation.

It isn't exactly a happy situation, but that is a seperate issue.

Please pay attention to the verb tense in the statement. You want some kind of precision? Then first you need to use it yourself.
It is present tense. The statement is correct.
You are mixing tenses when referring to the "diagrams" which show past tense.
The semantics problem is coming from your end.

Playing silly word games isn't helping. Answer this. Each one. Don't avoid the questions with rhetoric or displacement statements.

Was the casing built with a rupture disk at 1000 feet below sea floor?

Did the rupture disk rupture when the top kill was attempted?

Two words are required. Yes/No in each case.

Also not discussed is the fact that the first several hundred feet of sea bed is soft.

Rockman said something like the first several hundred feet is not drilling so much as just pushing the drill pipe through.

If the casing leak is in the "frosting" part, or maybe where the frosting ends and the rock begins, then disks would be useless.

It can't possibly be a video of cracks in the seabed rock as there is in excess of 300 feet of Mississippi deposited mud above the rock.


Yes it can be a rock. I recorded it.

There are plenty of rocks on the seafloor....

Including this rock with a huge hole in it.

The same ROV was investigating a large cloud, possibly of oil, which originated near this rock.

From your vid:

See the blue corner in the upper right I drew, paralleling the square corner?

This is most likely a piece from a tank that blew from the initial explosions.

I'm going to second R2-3D's assessment: this looks like a tank, not a rock. It is cylindrical, thin shelled (look at the edge of the hole) and is ruptured and crumpled at the left end.

Higgins also describes methane bubbles in this video. Can he explain how methane can form a bubble in cold water at 2200 psi? Or why the bubbles go sideways and downwards? Maybe they are nucular powered bubbles!

If there is indeed only one rupture disk (there could be more) it seems unlikely to have stopped the top kill alone. We're talking probably about a 1/4" hole, but one which itself would be spewing quite a bit of oil.

OK, good, what's the burst size? Anyone?

The other thing is that these disks are installed with sensors to indicate that they've burst.

Size is clearly big enough that it can aleviate enough pressure to avoid casing failure. Otherwise they have no useful purpose. Trying to find an actual description is harder however. Sensors would be a good idea.

I would be interested to know how they work. They don't run any electrical connections down the well.
Maybe they have receivers setup in a production well to be able to communicate with a sensor on the rupture disks, but right now there is no power or communication to the well head, so any sensor system on a rupture disk will be inoperative.

Building a sensor on the disk capable of communicating with the well head would be a challenge. It would need its own power.
About the only passive design I can think of off the top of my head is to build the disk so that it whistles when oil flows though it. Or you power a transmitter from the oil flow through the burst disk. Either way you are going to need operational equipment at the well head to receive the signal, something we don't have.

Where is the rupture disc between? Surely not to the outside of the pipes? Is it better if the rupture disc is diverting oil into the sediments?

In re Doug's post: scary & grounded. Another point of contention from up-thread had to do with "where is all the purported sand?" Without sand, the oil/gas is not very abrasive. I wish we knew just how much pressure changed behind the BOP before/after top kill? We have seen evidence that this pressure went from about 8500 psi in early days to 4400 psi on May 25 (just before the top kill attempt). This could be due to three factors:

1) erosion of the BOP orifice, causing more flow, therefore more viscous drag coming up the pipe from the reservoir;
2) normal reservoir depletion;
3) leaking from somewhere along the pipe into mud or weak sediments.

Doug's post favors #3 as the primary explanation. I hope for #2, but still think #1 is a contender.

First time I have been truly freighted of the possibilities.
Before, it was just the oil age unwinding.

Perhaps application of various techniques (burning, cutting, flushing, fertilization, ignoring) in adjacent marsh regions would give the best odds for greatest recovery. Organisms surviving in one region might have the opportunity to move to an adjacent region later.

In any case, something is lost. I took the following photo in Paradise, MI, in the summer of '08. A fitting title today might be "BP: Beyond Paradise"


A marsh cannot be cleaned without destroying it. Three things break oil pollution down: evaporation, sunlight, and microbial action. Evaporation and sunlight take a long time and stop being effective when dead march plants and animals fall on the oil, burying it and shielding it. Microbial action does a lot - to a point. Bacteria will eat many of the compounds present in oil, then they'll stop and return to their regular diet. For all intents and purposes, the oil remains toxic for decades.

In 1969, the oil barge Florida ran aground in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, spilling approximately 175,000 gallons of #2 fuel oil into the bay. The scientists at Woods Hole were (somewhat morbidly) happy about this - here was an oil spill right in their backyard - and as a result, the oil that fetched up in Wild Harbor marsh in West Falmouth is quite likely the most studied oil spill site in the world.

The last study that I know of was published in 2003, and found that the amount of oil still in that marsh remains the same as it was when it was last surveyed back in 1973, 30 years before. Another study documented that the oil in that marsh is still toxic for burrowers: mussels and fiddler crabs (who dig down until they hit the oil layer, 2 to 6 inches below the surface, then burrow back up to the surface). All species there show diminished growth, feeding and breeding activities. Fiddler crabs who come into contact with the buried oil stagger about like drunks.

Oil in a marsh is going to stay there and remain toxic for a lifetime. At least. There's no sugarcoating this, and there's no technological fix.

I just want to know why the oil industry as a whole is not involved. Yes,this is BP's problem, but by God we need every resource available to combat this nightmare. Where is Exxon and other companies????

I hear that they are involved. That the BP effort is being undertaken by representatives from something like 70 oil industry companies. We know Halliburton is there, for instance.

As has been pointed out by everybody from Thad Allen to the administration since the first week, the whole industry has been involved from the beginning..

I find this implausible. BP sharing proprietary information with Exxon and Shell? Phooey.

No really, I think they are involved, equipment and some key staff -- but it's kept very low key.
The others, understandably, probably don't want any perception of ownership of this disaster in the press.

As has been pointed out by everybody from Thad Allen to the administration since the first week, the whole industry has been involved from the beginning..

There are different levels of involvment. e.g. they could have their well control expert on loan to help brainstorming ideas. They may even loan some small equipment that they have in their warehouse to BP. But would they stop production of a well near by and give the heavy equipment to BP? I don't think so (at least not yet until BP is desperate and the rest of the industry finally figure out that is do or die for deepsea drilling in GOM.). I think Adm Allen letter to BP is the first step to make BP desperate (if they are not there yet..) and the next step is to make the rest of the industry desperate..

exactly why the attacks on obama for not cleaning the oil on land are nothing but a calculated attack from political agenda toting conservatives...they know damn well that there is no fix its their golden ticket to dig at him in the media; I think he is doing his job. This is awful.

Are you commenting in the right thread? I said nothing about Obama in my comment, or about the efforts to stop the spew or clean things up.

well i see that now....im not sure who i was talking too anymore...but you get it so hey....i hope other oil companies are involved...these new "bolt toys" have to be coming from somewhere. they dont look shiny new either....and where do we get off using all this rusty steel for the caps?

I agree.... and let me add it is good that those on the left attacking him and along with all the special interest groups from the middle, the left, anti-oil, environmental groups, pols from both parties ,local, state and national, are totally objective and have no agenda.Thank goodness for all that integrity. As long as we can focus on that one group that has a bias, it makes it much easier to understand! I am also glad for the first time ever we have an administration that is apolitical. Thank God they came from the bastion of integrity in that mid- western state.

I don't know what you and bopposocko are smoking, but you're not sharing!

Please stick to the material in the comment - the long term effects of oil pollution in coastal marshes. For more information, you can go to The Woods Hole Oceanic Institution, and run a search on "Wild Harbor Marsh." You'll find numerous links.

Here is a recent article from the Globe describing this spill.


And a summary from the Wood's Hole site.


It is important to be aware of both the similarities and differences here.

Thanks, Papicek. You've got the first valid response to Gail's post. Unfortunately there is no fix once the oil's in the marshes. And my guess is that Peskild is right; the only reasonable response to months and months of layers meters deep of oil concentrating in the marshes is to burn it off, and vacuum it up. They'll have to evacuate the population within 20? miles of the coast, though, before they burn because of lethal toxicity of the smoke, and check the weather carefully (controlled burn the entire coastline)? Can you say "hydrocarbon pneumonia?"

The only solution to pollution is dilution? Ha.

As Jon Stewart said, "I can't quit you, Big Oil." Even Lloyd's of London gets it now. Heck, even Mr. global-logistics-the-world-is-flat Tom Friedman's finally got it figured out. The language below is corporate, but the sentiment is honest, even though they don't see the big picture and are too optimistic.

We can expect dramatic changes in the energy sector in the coming decades. This report encourages businesses, both in the energy sector and beyond, to look at how this will impact on their firms. The transition towards a lowcarbon economy and the interim volatility in traditional fossil fuel markets presents businesses with numerous risks but also opportunities. In order to reduce potential vulnerability and seize opportunities, business should be aware that:

1. Energy security is now inseparable from the transition to a low-carbon economy and businesses plans should prepare for this new reality. Security of supply and emissions reduction objectives should be addressed equally, as prioritising one over the other will increase the risk of stranded investments or requirements for expensive retro-fitting.

2. Traditional fossil fuel resources face serious supply constraints and an oil supply crunch is likely in the short-to-medium term with profound consequences for the way in which business functions today. Businesses would benefit from taking note of the impacts of the oil price spikes and shocks in 2008 and implementing the appropriate mitigation actions. A scenario planning approach may also help assess potential future outcomes and help inform strategic business decisions.

3. A ‘third industrial revolution’ in the energy sector presents huge opportunities but also brings new risks. Of particular importance for new technologies is the risk of constraints on raw materials such as rare earth metals, as scarcity may drive up costs. The rapid and widespread diffusion of some new technologies may also incur negative environmental implications.

4. Energy infrastructure will be increasingly vulnerable to unanticipated severe weather events caused by changing climate patterns leading to a greater frequency of brownouts and supply disruptions for business. This throws out a critical challenge to energy providers, investors and planners in terms of choosing the location of new infrastructure and fortifying existing plants and networks. Those businesses for which uninterrupted access to energy is of fundamental importance should actively consider investing in alternative energy supply systems.

5. Increasing energy costs as a result of reduced availability, higher global demand and carbon pricing are best tackled in the short term by changes in practices or via the use of technology to reduce energy consumption. The wider use of renewable energy and even self generation, bring added price and supply security benefits.

6. The sooner that businesses reassess global supply chains and just-in-time models, and increase the resilience of their logistics against energy supply disruptions, the better. The current system is increasingly vulnerable to disruption, given the trends outlined in this report.

7. While the vast majority of investment in the energy transition will come from the private sector, governments have an important role in delivering policies and measures that create the necessary investment conditions and incentives. If the global carbon market is to become a reality then government action must be taken to bring additional price stability and transparency. Investing in a secure, low-carbon energy future may have higher upfront costs, but will deliver lower cost energy in the future. Sound renewable energy and demand side measures are crucial elements in delivering the necessary energy services for businesses and the expected return on investments.


@papicek - agree - thats why I belive the only solutions is to burn down the infreted vegetation, thus also burning off the oil, before it can settle in to the root zone.

Plants will come back next year.

Proplem really is, that oil continues to coming ashore.


MMS Deepwater Lease Sales to BP and Other Companies Continue Lax Oversight, say Groups
Leases financially obligate U.S. government, creating incentive to allow drilling


“MMS quietly granted oil companies the right to drill 198 more deepwater wells as if the spill wasn’t devastating the Gulf,” said Derb Carter, senior attorney and director, Carolinas Office, Southern Environmental Law Center. “If it’s too deep to stop a spill, it’s too deep to drill. BP is under criminal investigation for its explosion and dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, yet MMS approved 13 new leases for BP to drill in deepwater without any better oversight.”

The groups’ lawsuit challenges MMS approval of leases, including 198 deepwater leases, in the Central Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 and ongoing spill. In a legal claim added on June 10 to an ongoing lawsuit in federal court, the groups allege that MMS failed its legal responsibility after the explosion and spill to reconsider its 2008 conclusions that the sale of the deepwater leases and future oil drilling would have no potential significant impact to the environment and no detailed environmental review was required.

Since this thread is about spill response and cleanup I want to post my concern. Living in Gulf Shores, Alabama, our community has been hit by several waves of crude that end up deposited on the once beautiful sandy beaches. Then a cleanup crew comes and shovels the contaminated sand into bags. They used to do it on a dispatched basis but it was obvious they could not keep up. Then the crews switched to a scheduled rotation which I believe they are currently using. In some areas the level of the beach has been lowered by a few feet. I need to figure out a way to show this in pictures. There are mountains of sand piled up over the beach area, but the stuff looks like it is of lower quality and might be for offshore defense or sandbag use. I am concerned that the good white sand is getting taken away shovel by shovel and then will be replaced by the Sandcrete stuff. Does it not make sense to go ahead and put the Sandcrete type sand out now so when it is bespoiled and taken away, the white sand remains?

Since dougr made a fairly decent post about the What and the How of the situation.....enough to allow many more of the ostriches to take at least a small peek around the local vicinity......now, maybe someone else can pick up the oil ball and run with it! Wow! Wouldn't it make just a teensy-weensy, itty-bitty-bikini bunch of SENSE to now put together a TIMELINE of all the events leading up to 4/20?

Oh, you can go as far back as you want, to when the lease was signed, etc., but I'll bet you the really meaty tarballs will be found in the sequence of events when the FIRST well was drilled.......because that's where the real problems started. They messed that one up, supposedly capped it, and then moved on down the road and did the exact same thing (more or less).

When did BP report, the first time, either internally or to the MMS, that they had a potential "out of control well" situation? Hmmmmm?

Then, once you get all those dates together, you can start injecting all of the dates of when the large, in-the-know shareholders started dumping their own stock holdings, and wow, get this.....then you could start getting some of the financial guys to also start digging into when the big boys started shorting the stock and buying puts/selling calls in a major way, buying CDS protection, etc.......

That'll be your smoking plumes, right there. When those who were "in the know" started making the big bets on failure, that's when it was all but a foregone event. Wonder who knew about it, but decided to profit from it rather than take the steps necessary to possibly prevent or mitigate the situation?

Hurry now, before the records get oil-soaked, muddied, and scrubbed....

"Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig’s on fire!


"Then, once you get all those dates together, you can start injecting all of the dates of when the large, in-the-know shareholders started dumping their own stock holdings, and wow, get this.....then you could start getting some of the financial guys to also start digging into when the big boys started shorting the stock and buying puts/selling calls in a major way, buying CDS protection, etc......."


I think you meant to post in a new window.

"Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig’s on fire!

Once again sworn testimony from Transocean OIM Jimmy Harrell was that he never said anything of the kind and that there hadn't even been an argument with BP earlier in the day. That was backed up by Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell. What they did discuss earlier was adding a negative pressure test (at Harrell's request) prior to displacement of the mud. BP agreed to add the negative pressure test.

Harrell and Ezell both testified that, as far as they personally were aware, everything was being done safely and with no pressure from BP to speed things up. Ezell went to bed at 9:20pm (after discussing the current status of the riser displacement operations with duty personnel) as he was totally assured all was ok. Harrell was in the shower about to go to bed - also thinking there were no outstanding concerns.

I believe his testimony was that there was no disagreement before the well blew. Lots of wiggle room there. There are also two or three hands who were on the bridge when he made that statement and have signed sworn affidavits that he made it. There were other statements made, by others, too, such as "I guess that's what those pinchers are for..."

also two or three hands who were on the bridge when he made that statemen

Link for "two or three". I've seen one lawyer make a claim that one client claimed to have heard that. If there are multiple sources I would be more inclined to believe it.

The laweyer says he has two statements:

"Buzbee told Mother Jones that the sailor's version of Harrell's phone conversation following the explosion was corroborated by a statement from a second crew member who says he also overheard the call. Both statements were taken in-person by Buzbee's investigator and safety consultant, who has interviewed some 60 people involved in the disaster, and signed by the witnesses, he said."


This isn't just any lawyer. He has won more money from oil field disasters than any other, including $100 million in punitive damages from BP and $15 million from Transocean for injured offshore rig workers.

Ok that report says it wasn't on the rig. An earlier report I read said it was on the rig bridge. Don't recall if he was questioned on anything that might have happened on the boat.

But if he thought the rig was about to blow up then why, as OIM, was he going to bed when he could have been double checking everything going on during the critical displacement?

Harrell's waffling perjury is going to land him in prison, where he belongs. The OIM had command of the vessel while it was attached to the well.

As far as I can remember Harrell wasn't asked any questions about what he did or didn't say on the mud boat after the rescue when this conversation was reputed to have taken place. There were two sources for this who signed statements concerning the information they provided. There also have been quite a few people who have said that BP was putting pressure on Transocean to speed their work up.

If it was on the boat then I agree I don't recall him being asked what happened then but I thought the lawyer who made the claim said it was made on the rig's bridge on a satellite phone - which he was asked about and he wasn't making telephone calls according to his testimony.

It was on the mud boat:

Tony Buzbee, a lawyer representing 15 rig workers and dozens of shrimpers, seafood restaurants, and dock workers, says he has obtained a three-page signed statement from a crew member on the boat that rescued the burning rig's workers. The sailor, who Buzbee refuses to name for fear of costing him his job, was on the ship's bridge when Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell, a top employee of rig owner Transocean, was speaking with someone in Houston via satellite phone.


At that point, the boat's captain asked Harrell to leave the bridge. It wasn't clear whether Harrell had been talking to Transocean, BP, or someone else.


So - third hand through a lawyer with an interest, but reasonably sourced and two witnesses corroborate it.

I'm inclined to believe he said something on the phone then but until we hear from him on that I'll leave it with a big question mark in my mind. It's very easy for third parties overhearing a telephone call to get the wrong end of the stick. And that's before you add a perception distorting crisis going on around them.

Good point. However, there are multiple accounts from multiple sources indicating a significant disagreement on a critical, fateful, decision, with some alluding to a blow out a possible consequence. And we know that they had already lost $20 million or more on delays, so there was lots of incentive for someone to push things.

We won't get the full story until the witnesses testify. But you can bet that this will get resolved eventually. People will be taking the 5th. One already has and another declined to testify. The BP company guy.

I agree people who were not present or involved in the decision making said that's what they thought happened but I'm just saying that testimony from Transocean's CEO, OIM, Senior Toolpusher and Subsea Supervisor all says that there was no argument or significant disagreement and where there had been a request for a change (negative pressure test) BP agreed. Miles Ezell testified that it was sort of a running joke between them (because Harrell always added a negative pressure test to the BP plan prior to displacement) that others thought was an argument.

According to testimony there was certainly much discussion about the negative pressure test results and the decision was "no go" by all based on the first test. All parties seem to have agreed that they had a good result on the second negative test and had explained the apparent earlier anomaly. They then proceeded to displace the mud.

Now they may all have perjured themselves but they all said no big argument and they were actually present at the meetings (well not the CEO obviously but he was speaking for Transocean).

Then, once you get all those dates together, you can start injecting all of the dates of when the large, in-the-know shareholders started dumping their own stock holdings, and wow, get this.....then you could start getting some of the financial guys to also start digging into when the big boys started shorting the stock and buying puts/selling calls in a major way, buying CDS protection, etc.......

You mean like the Goldman Sachs shorts?


Was that story ever confirmed?


I feel your pain. I am serious when I say this. I have witnessed the same in past events but nothing to the degree that is happening now. It seems logical after the first cleanup to place the brown sand to absorb the oil. The sand you are concerned about unfortunately isn't on the radar of the clean up crews. If they used rakes there would be less white sand removal but it would require more cleanup personnel. The white sand does get replenished even when it gets contaminated but unfortunately this time I think the source is contaminated also. It's been years but about 120+ miles to your east county officials decided to mix Georgia red clay and sand to add parking space along the beach for spring break surge. On one admitted to the decision but it took a few hurricane seasons to clean it up.

GWS22B asked a question of me shortly before the posts closed yesterday morning about the dispersants like Corexit.

So then they are making a vinegarette that is floating around underwater and a kind of mayonnaise on top with the use of Corexit?

I think that your analysis is close to correct. The water in oil emulsion is similar to mayonnaise. Corexit doesn't seem to have much effect on this stuff, however. Once the water in oil emulsion begins to age and become thick it isn't dispersible with Corexit. (It's a variation on the old saw about mayonaise and chicken salad, except here you can't make vinaigrette out of mayonnaise no matter how much Corexit you add.) http://www.mms.gov/tarprojects/542/542AA.pdf

To extend your analogy, what they are trying to do with the injection of Corexit at the wellhead is to make vinaigrette so that mayonnaise doesn't form up top. That said, it isn't at all clear how well the generation of vinaigrette is progressing, particularly what the oil droplet size in the vinaigrette is, or what it might be considering the temperature and pressure conditions that exist in the oil as it leaves the BOP.

The report emphasizes that better methods of making these measurements and determining the effects of deep water dispersant injection into the gas/oil column need to be developed. My reading of this and from some things that Speaking To Animals has said here suggest that the proportion of the oil that enters the water as dissolved hydrocarbon and oil droplets is not at all certain with or without the dispersants. Some of the concerns in the report also deal with questions about making hydrocarbons more available to single and multicellular plants and animals in the deep water when the oil is dispersed with the detergents. There seems to be a great deal that is not known about using dispersants under the deep water conditions where it is now being used. That said, I think that the Committee had difficult call. The lack of experimental data meant that no matter what they decided they were going to be second guessed.

Also in a post the other day where I mounted the list of components of Corexit, I listed one nonionic detergent twice and didn’t list the third one. The one that I left out was:

Sorbitan, tri-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs which is also known as Polysorbate 85 or Tween 85.


One of the differences between Tween 80 and Tween 85 is that there are three hydrophobic side chains on Tween 85 and one on Tween 80. Both derive their hydrophilic heads from glycol groups.

I followed a link posted a few days ago to the Corexit 9500 MSDS, which is much different than you are saying here. The MSDS says it is a sulfonated light oil. I too initially thought it was a non-ionic surfactant. See my past post:


Okay, i've seen enough youtube clips of what sure appears to be oil leaking from the seabed floor to now believe it is happening. We know they are looking for it. This is the first time I have seen clips that are hard to doubt. We also know they are very concerned about movement of the BOP. And Senator Nelson early in the week came right out and expressed that they are worried about this scenario without getting into the detail of what it would entail.

It reminds me of the pinhole leak in the space shuttle Columbia. Relatively slow and small but ultimately fatal. Once sufficient erosion has taken place, the whole thing comes apart catastrophically.

My guess is no one can say for sure if and when it all fail. All they can do is minimize pressure and hope the relief well gets there in time.

So there's really no way to kill it with the RWs if the current bore won't hold a sufficient column of mud. No other options?

My best understanding in the absence of official acknowledgement is two seafloor locations spewing hydrocarbons, gas near the well, gas and oil about 3 miles away.

Feeds of solid green, color bars, or duplicate views of an innocuous ROV operation are amusing. Obviously they've explored the rig wreckage and blocked public sightseeing. Ditto seafloor venting, conducted mostly at night when no one in Washington is watching.

Contractors and employees are contractually bound to secrecy, which is so typical of oil & gas industry that no one blinks an eye at compartmentalization or disinformation. Gravy train salaries and threat of unemployment buy a lot of silence. I've never worked for BP, so I can say any damn thing I see or think, and in particular I think BP ought to be fired as lease operator and replaced by an industry consortium to kill this mess subsurface. Let the military fix the marshes and beaches.

GFR: Thank you. Appreciate your patience with this pea sized brain of mine!It still has a thirst for knowledge though! Heh! Heh!

HI Folks, based on very constructive feedback from TOD'ers a few weeks back I have revised my idea to contain the leaking well head. I fully realize this would only be used if all else had failed but I thought it was worth getting it out there for others to think about. You never know what parts of an idea can be helpful or built upon by others to solve a problem.

I really appreciate what all of you folks are doing here at TOD. I truly believe when things settle down that TOD will have provided one of most valuable and honest forums to help solve the problems at the well and on the surface.

God Bless & Stay Safe, Dave


Just how flexible is that connection between the BOP and the assembly on top of it? If it is flexible, what is it made of and how does it support the weight of the assembly above it while still remaining (somewhat) flexible?

I have to say I am NOT an oil engineer. My thought is that the new LMRP assembly would sit (be attached) to the top of the cement weight ring. I'm not even sure if a BOP is a good idea as so many folks are saying that full back pressure on the well might blow out the casing below the ocean floor. The BOP would really be for the safety of the folks on the surface I guess and should probably be there but hopefully by throttling the valve in the LMRP you could control the flow to the surface in a manageable way until you get full flow going up. As far as the connections to the top of the new LMRP those decisions are for folks who know about how to go from the ocean floor to the surface. I am not one of them.

Ben - I'm pretty sure the only thing that allows any flex is the top joint I show in the diagram here. The well-head pipe goes down over 250 feet and is 30 inches in diameter (not sure if that's ID or OD) and the BOP assy is solidly attached on top of it. I also believe the riser has sliding joints staged along its length to allow for the platform motion on waves, whereas the drill string is held by the heaves at the top of the driller.

If I have it wrong, I hope someone will point me in the right direction. Sad that it's taken this disaster to make us all aware of just how involved and technologically difficult it is to get to the bounty that our earth provides.


Thank you; I didn't see your original response to my earlier question. I was thinking there was only the assembly on top of the BOP, and not a separate flex joint assembly on top of that. I'm wondering if the 'tilt' we're seeing from the videos is more a result of the flex joint assembly bending, or is there a definite leaning of the entire stack? It should be fairly easy to determine this if the robots are looking in the right place. If just the flex stack is tilting, that's not nearly as concerning as if the entire stack is.

It would actually surprise me if there wasn't an off-kilter lean to the entire stack, though I'd bet it would only be a degree or two. I looked for the displacement of the Deepwater Horizon, but can't find it. A similar, but smaller semi-sub is the Development Driller III, and it lists 52,869 tons at drilling displacement. I'd guess that DH, whipping around in excess of 60,00 tons and retaining connection with the riser on its way down, would put an enormous stress on the vertical position of the BOP. I think the riser stayed attached through the fire-fighting, as there was no notation of any real drift off station of the rig.

By the way, my thanks to all the folks here who have taken their time and experience to point us noobs toward the documentation and arcane knowledge involved in oil drilling and recovery. The only experiences I've had with wells was my own water well on a property in NY, and recovering that after I collapsed it after putting on a rev-osmosis/softening unit. Also found out that while other deeper wells ran dry during droughts, my 28foot well never did, as I was tied into an aquifer from one of the ice-ages moraines south of the Finger Lakes.

FAIRDEAL: I know, huh. To me its kinda like sitting and eating lunch at the job site with all the guys, trying to figure out the best way to attack whatever is before you that afternoon!There is just something good about that sandwich that's been in your lunch box all morning too!

Maybe Exxon and others are lending experts and equipment I don't know. What I do know is the industry better not wait until this thing gets worse. People are rightfully getting very angry and if this spill bends around to the Atlantic coast the industry will catch living hell.

I think the other half of Gail's post should have been, with or without clean-up we will still drill more and deeper wells. This will be a long term problem not just with this well but more to come. We will not change the need for more and more oil. With production declines around the world and the Chinese locking up every asset they can buy we are forced to drill all we can as our lives (food) depend on it!

World 2009 oil use drop biggest since 1982

June 9, 2010

Corrects reserves increase figure in paragraph 4, inserts word “drop” in 1st paragraph

LONDON (Reuters) – World oil consumption fell by 1.2 million barrels per day in 2009 the second consecutive annual decline and the largest volume drop since 1982, BP (BP.L) said in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy released on Wednesday.

The world’s oil production dropped by 2 million bpd, or 2.6 percent, which was also the largest decline since 1982, the British oil major said.

It said global oil refining capacity additions totaled 2 million bpd last year, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 80 percent of the increase.

The world’s proven oil reserves stood at 1.33 trillion barrels last year, an increase of 700 million barrels from 2008.

The world’s gas reserve grew by 2.21 trillion cubic meters last year, while production fell by 2.1 percent, marking the first decline on record, BP said.


The way I see it;

The company man aboard an offshore drilling rig runs the tactical show, yes he takes some direction from his office ashore. The drilling contractor’s offshore installation manager, toolpusher and driller normally do as the company directs. Money and knowledge are power. The oil company designs the well, plus sets the operating procedures and schedules.

The contractor’s driller runs the equipment going down the hole under the direction of the contractor’s tool pusher, who works under the contractor’s offshore installation manager. The drilling contractor personnel do not have detailed engineering knowledge of casing system design, mud/cement chemistry or Schlumberger logs.

The success of this team depends upon sharing, understanding, communicating and agreeing(sometimes) upon what to do. The participants need to understand the whole picture and not just have their special secret knowledge. For instance if the OIM, tool pusher and cementer where not allowed to see Schlumberger logs and did not know open hole geometry from caliper log they would not know how much cement the annulus would require and the well could be lost.

This simple example shows that by sharing information, and making the company man, OIM, toolpusher and cement man all having necessary complete information, and all of them individually calculating the volume of cement required, and then collectively sharing their volumes and deciding which is the best will produce a good solution. This would be a lot of work at first, but all hands would learn much and become more well rounded, plus most importantly it would make for a safer operation.

One company man should not have such power over everyone else just because others don’t have the information only he has. The above mentioned folks need to independently calculate/determine with the necessary information and knowledge what is the best course of action to take. Knowledge is power. Many times in the workplace people do not share information or skills because they do not want to lose the power.

Four informed heads can make a better safer decision than one head, especially if the one head controls the purse strings and withholds information from the others.

Considering the consequences of (GOM shoreline damage or loss of life) a bad decision on these offshore rigs, the company man should have to inform responsible parties of the pertinent facts, and seriously consider their experience and decisions.

Most of the oil that has leaked into the GOM is still floating on its surface, and not getting removed quickly enough. It is only a matter of time till this toxic oil washes ashore. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to remove it now. Once this oil fouls the marches and Florida beaches the cost could bankrupt BP. It is impossible to clean the oil out of the marshes without destroying them. The States and federal government have not protected our shores. BP is responsible, but it is obvious they have not removed much of the offshore floating oil, therefore our governments must remove it with haste and send the bill to BP. I commented similarly awhile back and have not seen much progress since.


Shortly after the blow out shots of the digital drilling console were posted showing mud pit volumes, stand pipe pressure, etc. Can't find those post. Someone save the link?

What reminded me of those posts was the Energy Dept's "transparent" web site with all the important data has none of this info. Might be nice to repost not just for the newbies but we have more oil field trash hanging out at TOD these days. I'm sure some of these guys can offer better analysis of this data.

Mucho thanks tow. A CNN reporter out of London was looking for some hard data. Interesting that the link is to a gov address yet it's not posted on the Dept Energy blow out web site. Not too transparent, eh? Perhaps it was just an oversight given how unimportant this data probably might be.

OK you oil patch worms who can read these graphs better than the Rockman...what do you see?

BP themselves provided some interpretation in their draft written testimony submission "What We Know". Definitely worth a read for those who haven't seen it yet. Here's Page 29


Weren't those also included in BP's preliminary accident report filed with congress - the one that showed the casing, BOP layout, and the general timeline? I think HO had a post with all that including the pics and a link to the pdf. Would be interesting to see if that document matched the info that was posted here earlier.

David L Hagen had a comment in HO's post that included all the links to the documents submitted to the House hearing...

including BP's What we know statement
and Transocean's Daily Drilling Report for April 20th.

Halliburton gave government chart of drilling parameters from 8pm to blowout at 9:47pm on April 20, 2010.


This shows mud and trip tank's volume changes, mud pump flow out, weight on bit, standpipe pressure etc. If this information is accurate you experienced drilling people can figure out what happened. Suspect BP and Transocean have much more detailed information than this. The truth should, and I suspect will come out.

Thanks to you to Todfan. I've got some experience interpreting such data but I think we have some folks here now with more experience. Be good to hear some more opinions. Always a bit of art to such analysis IMHO. The more experience the more artful.

i've said my 2 cents on the log a while ago...still every time i see this log I just think....how could this not have been picked up .....there are enough early indications of the well "Winding up"....no matter what happened before there is enough time to in these logs to have run a heavy pill

I know ali. That’s why I wanted to get some new eyes on it. The CNN reporter asked how many folks at BP and elsewhere could have been watching this data stream in real time on the rig and at BP’s offices. My guess was that given the time of day and the phase they were in, it was quit possible that no one on the bank was watching. The data should have been on several monitors on the rig….coman’s office, mud room, driller’s dog house. But who was watching? The more important question IMHO: when did they first notice and how much time did they have at that point.

NEWBIES: save this link. I suspect it will become THE data at the heart of the eventual investigation/trial.

rockman: Why weren't they, whoever "they" is, not watching "it?" Is no one assigned and responsible to watch the data as it comes in for "early indications of the well 'Winding up'" per ali?

EL - I can imagine no one on the bank watching...game seemed to be over once the csg was run. The hands on the rig is a different matter. There's an outside chance they turned all the monitors off on the rig but that's very unlikely IMHO. It's hard to believe someone didn't notice it early on in the event. From my experience it's almost instinctive to look at the monitor when you pass it. From what little we know they might have started fighting the kick an hour before the explosion. But if they knew it was kicking that early then both coman, pushers and OIM should have been on the floor by then IMHO.

rockman: Thanks for the reply. The more I learn the less I understand.

"From my experience it's almost instinctive to look at the monitor when you pass it."

This says volumes about the accident. Corporate culture is corporate structure.

From what I have read here from the pros the rig should have been on red alert.

RM --- "IMHO: when did they first notice and how much time did they have at that point."

that's true...in fact too true and might just be what needs to be figured out....what confounds me is ....far as I am concerned at least three sets of eyes should've been on this...like you point out @ dog house, mud room and the coman...

this is specially confounding since from the testimony's its clear the crew was on edge and there were some misgivings with trying to hurry up, TA and R/UP to move...in these conditions this slips by is even more perplexing.....

but far as I'm concerned ...the coman should've been on this HIMSELF .....to knowingly race the clock and not monitor returns ....i would have some no-nonsense questions for the coman here ....has there been any chatter on TOD or elsewhere with regards to the coman ??? if he's the experienced sort or like the new breed of coman/rig mgr's that get plucked out of college and get mentored a year or two and become rig mgr's ...end up knowing just enough to be dangerous ...my feeling is this could be a factor here....we had a bunch over at our office who got trained this way but we were able to convince mgmt to keep em' in midland/odessa as rig mgrs for another coupla yrs or so running TA/PA and work-overs but some mistakes we would run across on the morning drill reports were surprising sometimes and downright stupid at other times....

this is specially confounding since from the testimony's its clear the crew was on edge

With respect that is not clear. Some employees who were not directly involved in the decision making have remembered things with hindsight which might support that but the testimony so far of those directly involved says that just wasn't true as far as they were concerned. Somehow it seems all senior personnel concerned had a false (with hindsight) sense of security.

One of those who could contradict them is dead, of course. And it would be an incomplete picture to neglect to mention that the two key BP folks who were on the rig refused to testify at that hearing.

Donald Vidrine declined to attend the hearing claiming he did not feel well. Robert Kaluza asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

And they may deny any disagreement, but the accounts (more than one) are too detailed and plausible to be dismissed out of hand:

"I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller," said Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the explosions that occurred just before 10 p.m. April 20. "The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, 'No, we'll be having some changes to that.' It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be,' and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed."

Brown said the top Transocean man on the rig, Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell, spoke in a low grumbling voice as they left the 11 a.m. planning meeting with BP the day of the accident.

Brown recalled Harrell saying, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."


"I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller," said Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the explosions that occurred just before 10 p.m. April 20. "The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, 'No, we'll be having some changes to that.' It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be,' and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed."

Testimony from both Miles Ezell and Jimmy Harrell was that others had misunderstood that discussion and that it was never an argument. In fact, Ezell insists on fully explaining to the hearing what it was about and that it was never an argument. Both said that the result of the discussion in any case was that BP agreed to do it Harrell's way (as they always did Ezell testified). So both the Senior Toolpusher and OIM are perjuring themselves if we believe Brown's version of events.

I agree I would have liked to hear testimony from the BP Company Men.

One of those who could contradict them is dead, of course.

Are you suggesting that Miles Ezell is lying and that he wasn't totally assured all was ok by his close friend Jason Anderson who he trusted implicitly, at 9:20pm?

Harrell, when pressed, did admit to saying something about the "pincers" (BOP). I had the impression that the top witnesses were saying as little as possible and deflecting any questions that might lay blame. Normal behavior in such a hearing, but not necessarily helpful in understanding what went wrong - "everything was fine and then the rig just blew up".

It's one thing to deflect questions. Another to give a false answer. But recall Ezell didn't deflect the question. On the contrary he said you need to understand the background and went on to set the scene (basically people who knew each other really well and had had the same discussion many times before always with the same outcome - "Do it Harrell's way", as they decided in this case, as it added an intended extra safety precaution) before you understand the words. Have a listen again to what he said. More will come out in time I guess.

No, i'm talking about the call to displace the mud from the riser made earlier in the day. There is another hand who corroborated that dispute. And it seems like a decision likely to generate some discussion and frankly disagreement.

These guys were fully prepped for their testimony by attorneys. The excited utterances and other evidence of what went on are in conflict with their testimony. If you go by their story, the dead crew gets all the blame. How convenient.

No, i'm talking about the call to displace the mud from the riser made earlier in the day

Yes that was the same event. Harrell wanted to do a negative pressure test before displacing the mud. BP agreed. That's what they testified. But now everyone seems to want to believe that BP is lying and Transocean senior personnel are lying in sworn testimony. Perhaps they are but at least entertain the possibility that they are not lying and the simple fact was that everyone in a decision making capacity thought everything was fine almost right up to the last moment.

The fact is that the conflicting statements are made by people who weren't in the loop so they are speculating on the meaning of partial conversations they may have heard. Quite possibly it was only after the explosion that they searched their memory for "clues" which they had thought nothing of at the time.

"Perhaps they are but at least entertain the possibility that they are not lying and the simple fact was that everyone in a decision making capacity thought everything was fine almost right up to the last moment."

Sure, if you draw all inferences in their favor, you can come out that way. And it could have happend that way. I agree. That's not a productive way to conduct an investigation, though. There are legitimate alternative inferences that can be drawn and those will have to be explored/resolved.

It's also pretty common for management to blame the crew when something goes wrong. And lots of instances with far less at stake where management has lied to cover up its own responsibility. In the investigation phase, you identify the logical suspects and you assume that everyone may lie to cover their ass. Everybody remains a suspect until their involvement is rulled out. That's a little different that wildly accusing them of wrongdoing.

There are legitimate alternative inferences that can be drawn and those will have to be explored/resolved.

100% agreed. I don't know what the sequence was but I do know there's apparent conflicting information and I've pointed that out. What I am saying is that we need more information to establish the facts. The stakes are very high if senior personnel are shown to have lied under oath.

People lie under oath every day in every court house in America.

True but I've watched virtually all the testimony on video - seen the body language etc. Have you?

Yes. Care to disclose who you work for?

Do you need to work for anyone to watch C-Span?

I don't have any connection with the oil industry or anything else relevant and am just posting for myself if that matters. I did once work for FMC in the Subsea Division (in IT) but that's as close as I get.

clip from The Driller's Club

The crew is unsure about pressures. Anomalies have been seen. The crew shut in on the annular.

But who was monitoring all this? Who was in charge? Where was the company man? It doesn't matter if it's a deepwater job (which I don't do) or something simple in an African desert, if there are doubts about pressures and flow out, I'd expect to be informed. And if the well has to be shut in, I'd be on the rigfloor within minutes afterwards, congratulating the driller on his quick response, but trying to establish what was happening. That BOP panel isn't a sort of Nintendo on which you just press all the buttons hoping for a winning result.

The bottom line is, who, exactly, was calling the shots and keeping a close eye on what was going on during this exceedingly dodgy operation, while at the same time entertaining a bunch of BP bigwigs who'd come out to the rig for a back-slapping session?

I felt Ezell had misgivings but let his friend persuade him with the phrase "I will call you if I need anything".

Yes I got the impression that if it had been anyone other than Anderson he would have stayed on the rig floor anyway. However he totally backed Anderson's judgement to the hilt (in fact he was the most qualified person on the rig to handle well control incidents he said) and didn't believe his presence would have made a difference (other than he would now be dead himself).

Most qualified? Yeah right, started as a paint chipper, junior college dropout, missed all the clues and blew up the rig.

Ezell testified he was Transocean OIM qualified, Senior Toolpusher and had recently been appointed as a Transocean Well Control Instructor.

Ezell was Senior Toolpusher, not Anderson.
My notes on his testimony at Kenner:

Miles Ezell, Sr Toolpusher
6:30 am daily telecon with shore asset mgrs, OIM, capt
busy all day with Harrell conducting VIP tour
5:30 pm handover - BP not happy with negative test
Harrell insisted on negative test, argued with BP
Don Vidrine in charge of well, Jason Anderson toolpusher
Ezell ordered increased pressure in annular
BP ordered open kill line test
Jason was confident, Ezell went to dinner
met with dignitaries 7pm - 9 pm, 2010 budget
9:20 called rig floor, Jason still confident
telephone rang at 9:50 asst driller Steve Curtis
"well is coming in, mud to the crown"
Joseph Keith should have been monitoring returns
BP execs were aware of negative test problem
refused to say what he thinks caused blowout
lawyer stops Ezell from expressing opinion

Ezell was Senior Toolpusher, not Anderson.

Agreed. I was just saying that Ezell testified that Anderson held the rank of Senior Toolpusher within Transocean even though he was not the Senior Toolpusher on this job.

Undertow ---

i think with the testimony's it is clear on the drilling contractor side ...ppl were not comfortable with what the line of action was.......that has been my impression from the testimony's.......and if I am wrong ...which i could easily be since its my take from the testimony.....regardless.....to monitor 50 odd bbls of gains in returns and not stop misplacing right then is not excusable......a sopohomore at an petroleum engg program at any college will tell you that much

I agree in principle on the pit gain but I had a question on this in another post.

Was it truly a pit gain or does it represent the fact (I think) that they were taking suction directly from the sea rather than the pits. If that was the case, then the 57 bbls would represent the pump rate during that 12 minutes which would seem a little on the high side but not that much high. But not knowing their plumbing or how their mudloggers were rigged up, I can't answer that question. But there are plenty of survivors that at least know their plumbing and would have a good idea of what this represents. If it is truly a volume gain, then it's beyond comprehension that it was ignored by all. That includes BP, Transocean, and MI. But while it looks damning on the surface, there might possibly be a very logical explanation for it.

For anyone who hasn't seen it - a page with all information compiled in one place by people from the flickr blog - technical details, reports, etc:


2 comen on the rig. One of them had a mostly onshore background and was out there to learn about deep water ops.

Testimony indicates that even at the 18 min before blowout, the rig crew thought that 'they had it' re: controlling the kick.

RE: Rockman's question as to the BP .ppt file, it is investigation - not what the rig guys were thinking. Even for the 'test could have been a major anomaly' item, the rig guys had convinced themselves that they were seeing a 'U-tube' effect (and if anybody would explain that one, I'd be grateful.).

but far as I'm concerned ...the coman should've been on this HIMSELF .....to knowingly race the clock and not monitor returns ....i would have some no-nonsense questions for the coman here

I guess another thing to keep in mind is that key Transocean and BP personnel were celebrating their excellent shared safety record with BP VIPs that evening (you couldn't make that up). Whether that influenced events remains to be seen.

For over 8 hours? Rubbish. They were talking about the next project, showing the new kid how cool the positioning simulator videogame was, jabbering about guy stuff and making unfunny jokes about the girl on deck who later saved their asses by radioing mayday without permission.

I can't imagine that it DIDN"T influence events!! Chance to rub elbows w/ muckity-mucks.

The more important question IMHO: when did they first notice and how much time did they have at that point.

According to the BP draft document a problem was identified on the rig at 9:31pm, 18 minutes before the explosion.

Note we have since heard that the EDS was not initiated by the Captain. In fact he didn't agree with it and explicitly said not to. Subsea Supervisor Chris Pleasant testified that he pushed the button after a brief discussion with BP Company Man Donald Vidrine who agreed with him to push it against the Captain's wishes (They literally pressed it behind the Captain's back). The Captain appears confused as to the scale of the disaster in the immediate aftermath (he also tried to prevent a distress call).

tow - I had not seen these details before. It’s hard to believe what the BP report says. It seems I’m reading it wrong but it’s offered in simple language.

Straight from the BP release:

Flow-out volume of mud and drill pipe pressure showed expected correlation until about 20:58

At 20:58, pumps were slowed and the following abnormal results:
- Drill pipe pressure increased from 1250 psi to 1350 psi
- Flow-out volume increased instead of slowing

Flow-out vs flow-in shows gain of approx 57 bbls over 12 minute period

First indication of flow -51 minutes before the explosion
1250 psi

And then the report says they resumed displacing the mud from 21:14 to 21:49
Resume displacement
- Pump another 265 bbls
- Returns going overboard
- Flow meter bypassed - unable to
monitor flow out

• Pumps stop at 21:31- suspect problem
identified with well

Suspect explosion at 21:49

FOR THE NEWBIES: seeing drill mud flowing back is the first and most important indicator that a well is kicking (something at the bottom of the well is flowing into it and pushing the mud out even when the pumps are slowed/off.

A 57 bbl mud gain in 12 minutes is very significant IMHO. And they don’t decide they have a problem until a half hour later? And they know the well is flowing but they continue displacing the riser. Either I’m very confused or they aren’t reporting it correctly. To continue displacing after they note the well is flowing is a virtual suicide move IMHO. What an I reading wrong?


I believe it's a combination of after the fact interpretation and what was thought at the time on the rig. With hindsight the problems should have been noticed 51 minutes before the explosion. In actual fact it was noticed that something was wrong at most only 18 minutes before the explosion. At least that's what I think it means.

Note that when Miles Ezell last spoke by phone to Jason Anderson on the rig floor at 9:20pm he was told everything was fine and he went to bed.

If they had the production casing and the bottom cement plug properly set there should have been absolutely no flow - correct? Is there any way they could have thought they might have a small leak, but rather than take the time to check further and maybe do a squeeze they thought they could just set the top plug and pull up - finish the job? Maybe there is no such thing as a 'small leak'....

IP -- That's correct...the hole was cased so the only avenue for fluid entry would be past the cmt or from a csg hole. But from my experience 51 bbl/12 minutes is not a slow leak. Something like 5 - 10 bbls would be a red flag...and that would be from an opne hole. But as commented above these interpretations were made post-blow out. The only way I can explain the continued displacment after clear evidence of well flow is that no one on the rig saw the flow indications. I really can't think of a every day circumstance to compare. Maybe you look down and your pants cuff is on fire. Oh well...it's just a little fire (leak) so no worries. But everyone on the rig, including the cook, knows a well flow is the first indication of potential death on the way.

Thanks RM, kind of what I figured.

Did anyone directly involved in this process survive the explosion? Or were they all killed?

Miles Ezell named someone who survived who he said was specifically tasked to monitor the returns. The person he named did not appear before the Hearing to give testimony when called. No press reports have explained why he didn't appear. In fact I don't think the media even noticed it.

are these straight from BP ??? there seems to be holes in this report.....the cookie coming out of the oven don't match the shape of the cookie cutter...

gain of 57 bbl over 12 min.....the problem sat staring them in the face and they continued displacing....and took em half an hour to figure out there is a problem....this report seems to be missing information

this report seems to be missing information#

Put bluntly, the people with the most knowledge to fill in some of the blanks are sadly dead and it wasn't the job of that report, as I understand it, to speculate. If other survivors have more knowledge then they haven't testified.

ali: "and took em half an hour to figure out there is a problem....this report seems to be missing information" Or it's just plain, deadly, inexplicable, and perhaps criminal recklessness. That's why the English language has the word "reckless."

"It's too soon to tell."

My first post here. I found this site soon after the incident and have found it to be the best site for getting the best information. This is my first experience with a blog so I guess I have been "lurking" for approximately a month and actually registered a few days ago but hadn't really planned on commenting although I've had to bite my lips several times. I'm from the old school and like to have these type of discussions face to face but I guess that isn't possible in the new digital world.

These logs from the day of the incident are very interesting and I plan on looking at them in detail. Without having seen them previously, I've said to my friends and family that I was guessing the main problem that day was complacency. The well was finished. Everyone was in the go home mode. They were convinced the negative tests were good and nobody was paying attention. On first glance, these logs seem to confirm that.

But having said that, I've already seen a couple of points in your recap that I have a question about.
1) The gain of 57 bbls in 12 mins. WIth not knowing how their mudlogger and pits were set up, Could this be because they were taking suction direct from the gulf and returns were going to the pit. So you would have a net gain in the pits equal to their pump rate which would be 4-5 bpm. Kind've large but not out of range. Don't know the answer. If that's not the case, then this looks real damning to the crew that was overseeing this or should have been overseeing it.

2) When they resumed pumping, it says returns going overboard. I would have to assume from this that they were completely displaced with seawater returns. Otherwise oil based mud would be going overboard. How was their plumbing set up. To go overboard, would it be out their diverter lines? Does that explain why their flow meter was bypassed?


OBM was being pumped overboard to Bankston service vessel.

While possible, I don't think they would have used the term overboard if it was going to the vessel. Plus in Harrel's testimony, he said it was not possible to go to the Bankston directly without going to the pits first. Which is what I would have expected.

Glad you piped up old man...need more gray hairs around here. I suspect you know how easy it is to get pit volumes wrong if you're doing a lot of transfers and not resetting counters, etc. I suspect the mud loggers were already rigged down at this point. As pointed out below they were dumping mud into the boat below so that might have made tracking pit volume impossible.

FOR ALL THE SMARTY PANTS: "U-tubing" was mentioned as a potential fact that they might have thought of as the cause of well flow. Never quite got a handle on this theory. Are we talking about different lines in the riser u-tubing mud into the system?

I don't remember hearing that u-tubing being used as a reason for well flow, but I do remember during one of the testimony, I believe it was Chris Pleasant, that during the 1st negative test, that was how they explained away the shut in pressure on the standpipe. The annulars were leaking (prior to them upping the hydraulics) and utubing from the backside of the drillpipe due to difference between the mud column on the back side and seawater on the standpipe. But caution, I may be remembering this testimony wrong.

As far as the Bankston taking fluids, I'm confused. Jimmy Harrel testified that transferring to the Bankston was stopped prior to the start of the second negative test. And that it was impossible to go the Bankston without going to the pits first which is what I would expect. Is there some other information out there I missed?

That is exactly what I recalled from the testimony - too bad we didn't get to hear from the Captain of the Bankston. I am wondering exactly how engaged Mr Harrell was in the final stages of the operation or if he was otherwise occupied with the VIPs.

Paul Erickson, first mate of the Damon B. Bankston, said he and other Bankston crew members were vaguely aware of the Deepwater Horizon having problems with the well. He said that as long as six weeks before the accident, they had to clear mud off the rig because of what they heard was a "loss of circulation."

"A comment was made that it was a difficult well, not typical," Erickson said.

But on April 20, the day of the accident all seemed to be going well, he said. The Bankston had stopped collecting drilling mud from the rig at 5:17 p.m., and they didn't hear anything from the rig crew until the accident, at a few seconds before 9:53 p.m.


I had forgotten about the press reports - so any mud displaced from the well after 5pm went to the pits?

That's how I understood it from the testimony in Kenner. So back to my original point, when they say they were going overboard, I believe it's exactly that, overboard, i.e. to the sea. Which I interpret as they were completely displaced at that time and getting seawater returns. Doesn't really answer any questions, just wanting to make sure I have sequence of events right when I look at these charts in detail.

Sounds right:

But on April 20, the day of the accident all seemed to be going well, he said. The Bankston had stopped collecting drilling mud from the rig at 5:17 p.m., and they didn't hear anything from the rig crew until the accident, at a few seconds before 9:53 p.m.

Erickson had some of the most detailed descriptions of the geyser-like blowout that preceded the explosion. He said it wasn't dark mud, but what looked like seawater that billowed out just to the aft side of the derrick, then ignited in a flash over the liquid, he said.

"The liquid was coming out over the cargo and then the fire emerged over the top of the liquid, at which point I yelled , 'Fire, fire, fire on the rig!' and ran for the general alarm," said the 63-year-old merchant marine veteran with a shaved head, a white beard and two large hoop earings in his left ear.


People on the rig said first water blew out, then drilling mud (I believe the well was only displaced down to ~3,000' below the mud line). The people on the fishing boat said the same thing - first water, then mud, then gas, then the explosion after the gas had pooled on the rig.

has anyone else noticed that both of these data links are broken? Maybe the websites are just swamped or down for maintenance.

Many links have been collected on this web page:


This is also the group that has been discussing the issue by posting comments on a photo on Flickr:


Can I ask a simple question? Is there any successful marsh restoration project ever done on any large scale? Any small scale? Maybe we should start to cordon off a heavily affected marsh with substantial barrier and test some solutions. Pick an area that can have some water pumped in from a well protected area. Use other open water areas not affect by the spill to test with. I know even if successful, it would take years, but we need to get started. Maybe think of ways of removing more oil in the short term. If gas goes to the level that some predict, it will get like the road warrior. Folks will have illegal refineries instead of meth labs. The locals would have that oil cleaned out in about 10 years. Maybe not, but growing marsh is worth a try.

TINFOILHG: I agree. Let's get started doing something. One can ponder things for only so long before one has to move ahead. A good feller told me one time: Well, let's do SOMETHING, even if it's wrong!

Florida is trying restoration in the Everglades, although this event might set them back a century or two.

Last three model runs have trended more west instead of WNW. So appears headed for the Lesser Antilles. Hasn't changed very much in organization. The next TWOAT will be out in an hour.

I still expect TS Alex tomorrow, if this continues to organize, with TD One at the 14/1500Z advisory and TS at 14/2100Z.

ROCKMAN: That would be construction trash here!

If this has been covered elsewhere, my apologies for having failed to notice.

For a great example of oil companies running rampant, consider Shell in Nigeria. Specifically, Ogoniland in the Niger delta country. (Local banditry and insurrection has not helped.)Shell is still the major villain, along with the corrupt Nigerian government of Gen. Sani Abacha then dictator, who approved the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The Wikipedia article:
gives a somewhat sanitized account of some of the matter. Myself, I learned from biased sources: Mr Saro-Wiwa's nephew was a fellow parishioner at my previous church (St. Paul's by-the-Lake Episcopal Church, in northeastern Chicago), where every year Mr Saro-Wiwa and the rest of the Ogoni Nine who were hanged along with him are remembered in a special service on or around November 10, the anniversary of their execution in 1995.

Considering their vicious treatment of human beings, we should not expect other than platitudes from the oil industry. Indeed, the ruthlessness, brutality and venality of Big Oil is impossible to understate.

David -- Wish I could disagree but I've seen the same BAU in another part of Africa. But I think you’ve narrowed your target down too much. You can find similar sad tales regarding the treatment of S American Indians by the folks supplying Alcoa with bauxites as well as Indonesian natives and the gold fields there. And let’s not forget the Blood Diamond trade by the EU. Of course, playing footsie with brutal local politicians isn’t restricted to corporations. We can start with the USA support of the Shah of Iran as well as a nearly endless list of democratic and honorable nations following similar paths. Pop quiz: list the companies/countries that haven’t went along with local mad men if it served their shareholders/citizens. Pretty short list, eh?

Thought I should re-post this information here, since this discussion is more appropriate than the orginal discussion I posted it in.

The orginal credit for finding this product belongs to Triffin.

WinTec USA

HCA-10: The Future of Environmental Oil-Spill Recovery

HCA-10 Brochure

HCA-10 Component information

WinTec Coagulant MSDS information


I am wondering whether this could be sprayed, from say a crop duster, on the affected marsh areas as a means to bind (not sure if that is the correct term) up the oil. Granted, in an ideal setting this oil/polymer mix would then be removed from such areas. However, even if it was necessary to leave it in place, it seems that having the oil "bound up" this way would reduce some of its negative impact.

In case the question arrises, I have no affiliation with WinTec USA in any form, their HCA-10 product just looks like another descent tool to use to fight this spill with.

Can anyone point me to a link/source that provides daily progress of the relief wells?


Peter B.


BP is updating periodically (not sure if updated every day). Page shows as updated as of June 13:
Currently setting 13 5/8” casing at 13978’ on first well, and at 8576’ with 22” casing set and running BOP on 2nd.


Also unified command daily briefings occasionally mentions progress (but not every day), e.g. June 9: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/623251/

As in the well diagram, the 13 3/8 is set deeper in the relief well than the same casing liner set in the blowout well. 833' deeper. This design allows for a much bigger bit/borehole to hit the blowout well with. Bigger is better here in every way imaginable.

R2 -- Once again a classic old field straight line I'm must pass on. Thanks for nothing


Could you give me your best guess as to the
physical dimensions of the DWH BOP ie
height and width of the entire device ??

Also, what is the diameter of the top of the wellhead
where it attaches to the bottom of the BOP ??

Thanks in advance ..

Triff ..

Triff -- One of hands supplied this link above. It should have much of what you might be looking for.



As I understand it, this is what you know best...

Can you characterize, in simple terms, the composition of the rock at the blowout well intersect with the formation?

And/Or provide additional detail about (very local to the wellhead) geological 'knowns'?

Again, the questions are academic, but they might could use 'airing'.


Peter B.


Peter -- You're half right: I occsionally pretend I'm know some things best. Just a guess from the RW displays but it looks like they plan to cut a shale above the sandstone reservoir that is flowing oil/NG. Shale is basicly compressed/hardened mud. This would make sense: cutting into a porous sandstone could make it more complicated to pump the kill pill into: mud could be injected into the sand instead of up the csg. They may learn much by cutting the original open hole before cutting thru the csg. If the cmt job isolated the producing reservoir from the top up then there should be no pressure. If the top side of the cmt failed then they'll be drilling into 13,000 psi. If so they might pump a kill pill into this annular space before they mill a hole in the csg. Lots of what if's to be sure.

Thanks RM ..

From the pdf I get

66 feet from "mudline to top of BOP"
18 3/4" Seal Assembly diameter for widest downhole diameter

Still couldn't find anything about the "width" of the
BOP .. Would ~24' or so sound about right ??

Triff ..

I believe the ID of the BOP is the same 18 3/4"

delete ... David.ChE has later info above.

Sensor deployed to better measure the oil spill.. May be we could have a thread discussing how would sensor work to measure the pressure and the mix of water/gas/oil to make estimate the volume of oil spill? There would be more interesting in some idle speculation of what to do next...


SCHRIEVER, Louisiana - Undersea sensors were being deployed to a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday in an effort to better track the amount of oil gushing into the sea, the Coast Guard said, as pressure mounted on BP fromthe Obama administration and Gulf states to create special accounts that would set aside billions of dollars to pay for spill-related claims.

New estimates say the blown-out well could have been spewing as much as 2 million gallons of crude a day before a cut-and-cap maneuver earlier this month started capturing some of the flow.

This means more than 100 million gallons may have leaked into the Gulf since the start of the disaster in April — more than nine times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska, previously the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Reason Top Kill attempt ended? Relief wells? Produced sand eroding BOP?

I've seen a lot of discussion regarding the top kill attempt being ended due to down hole casing problems. I'm wondering if it wasn't ended simply because they couldn't supply enough heavy mud fast enough? Since most of the mud was blowing out of the remains of the riser, the success entirely depends on the small % going down hole. Clearly at some point you might just run out of available supplies of mud?

Remember that the top kill was never said to be a sure thing. My recollection is that BP was giving it only a 40-60% chance of success from the beginning. (Correct me if those % are wrong.) I believe all along the well kill experts have been saying that the relief well is the surrest way to kill a blow out, but also the slowest. The top kill was something to try that might (emphasis on "might") give a quicker solution.

In all the discussion regarding possible problems with the casing, failure disks, etc, I haven't seen much about the possiblility that produced sand is eroding the BOP from within. Does anyone have any info on how much sand is coming up with the oil and gas? BP should have some data on that from the oil being separated at the surface from the top hat. I know from experience in other areas that produced solids can erode and cut pipe from the inside, given enough sand moving fast enough for long enough. If the well is making significant solids, I would think there might be some concern that the BOP is being destroyed from within. Perhaps some of you with more GOM experience could comment on how likely that is?

Disclosure: While I have a lot of subsurface experience in other areas, my GOM experience is very limited and well past it's shelf life. I have zero ("0") DW experience.

Again, I'm not an engineer, but imagine if you will...
You have pressure sensors reactivated in the BOP stack at various places.
You have the choke and kill lines connected to mud pumps above.
You know the pressures at the various points before the mud starts down, and now with the mud pumping into the BOP stack, the pressures go up.
After all, the mud AND the oil are leaving out the bent riser, and it's a higher flow rate, but internal pressures have to increase to accomplish that through effectively the same orifice at the riser/BOP flange.
You raise the mud rate again. Higher pressures. You want the higher pressures, as at some point, the pressures in the BOP stack equal the upward pressure of the oil. The oil flow slowly stops. Slugs of natural gas will bubble up, but for the most part the flow as stopped.
You raise the pump rate again. Pressures should now continue to increase inside the BOP and the mud should start to go down(in theory, as there's little way of verifying this)
Suddenly, pressures inside the BOP stack fall. There's very few explanations for this. The best explanation is a breach somewhere. You don't know where.
You back off pump rate, and monitor the pressures in the BOP stack. Are they the same when you maintained this pump rate before? If not, and they're lower, your breach is still open.
You shut off the pumps.
You decide where your breach is. Is it close to the surface? If you can pump your mud all the way to the site of the breach, will the Junk Shot fill that casing breach with junk and help seal it?

You see, now even I am speculating. Please forgive. :)

Sensors to calculate oil flow rate deployed

Sensors to measure the pressure of oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico were being deployed Sunday to give the government a better idea of how much oil is flowing, according to the Obama administration's point man on the environmental disaster.

Researchers recently doubled estimates of how much oil has been flowing from the ruptured well, saying last week that up to 40,000 barrels -- or 1.7 million gallons -- a day may have leaked for weeks.

Sensors will be placed at the pipe and will help in estimating the flow rate, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen.

"We actually are going to be deploying sensors down there today that will start taking pressure readings," Allen said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."


kalliergo -

It's so reassuring that it only took the government over six weeks to realize that there are ways of actually measuring the flow rate of a jet of fluid flowing out of an orifice.

Notice that from the very beginning BP has had absolutely no interest in determining the flow rate or having anyone else determine the flow rate.

As has been discussed BP did have a large interest in knowing - just not in providing any information to either the Coast Guard or the public. Either they had reasonable estimates of their own, or all the efforts at the wellhead were just blind flailings or a PR show (unlikely I think, but I suppose its possible).

"As has been discussed BP did have a large interest in knowing..."

Yes, and, as I've said before, BP also had a major interest in *not* knowing. All those folks, eventually, are going to be deposed, and/or examined in open court, under oath, and will be asked what they knew about the volume of the O/G escaping into the Gulf, and when they knew it.

The fines, alone, could be in excess of $4K/bbl. And, "I don't know" plays better than, "I don't recall.

Sounds like what Sec. Chu's group asked for..

as reported in Dr McNutt Provides Updates on Flow Rate Groups. (6/10)

1. Analysis of Pressure Readings (DOE scientists led by Secretary Chu)

A team of federal scientists led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu is analyzing pressure readings from the BOP stack and the riser to assess flow rates and how flow rates may have changed as a result of the riser being cut.

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy have directed BP to provide precise differential pressure measurements inside and outside the top hat to allow federal scientists to develop another independent estimate of how much oil is flowing from BP's well.

A lot of comment in this thread has speculated about the role of the "rupture/burst disks" in the failed well. The position of the three disks is highlighted in a published doc:


People have wondered whether or how one or more of these disks may have "failed". But it's not clear what the role of the these disks was supposed to be in the first place, other than "relieving pressure" in the most general sense. Also the word "failed" has a double meaning in connection with a one-use-only membrane-rupture device: does "failed" mean "ruptured as designed" or the opposite?

It would be good to understand the original purpose of the three 16-in. rupture/burst disks: why were they were placed in their respective locations and what they were supposed to do there? Here is info on the three disks, as presented in the document:

Top disk: At 6047 ft below surface of Gulf, hole in center for "wider" portion of drill pipe, must be a sliding fit to drill pipe, defines "top" of seawater fill region. What is above it? What is it isolating from what? A permanent installation or just temporary? Role in displacement operation?

Middle disk: At 8304 ft below surface, hole in center for "narrow" end of drill pipe, seems to define one end of column of "seawater" in annulus. But what is below it? Isn't the seawater pumped down from the drill rig on the surface actually coming out at the bottom of the drill pipe? What then is the role of this rupture disk? Was it for "future use" after the displacement?

Bottom disk: At 9560 ft below the surface, no hole in center -- a complete isolator between the seawater above and (presumably) the mud below (all the way to the bottom of the hole).

Can/does the drill pipe force its way through the center of these diaphragms as needed during drilling/cementing/logging operations? Do the top two disks normally "close up" behind a retreating drill pipe during a "trip out"? I'm assuming so (if the rupture disk installation is permanent). Are these disks permanently installed in the casing? Do they make a tight sliding fit with the drill pipe?

I can see these disks could rupture, from the bottom up, in a situation where a sufficiently large pressure differential built up between the reservoir and the upper portion of the well casing. So, in the case at hand, the bottom disk might have ruptured (as designed) during the blow-out. Is that a "failure", or is it just something "unexpected", in the situation leading up to the blow-out?

Okay, say the bottom disk is blown out. What difference could that have made during the "top kill", or now? I can't see how the other two disks could blow out, as the drill pipe was open to the surface.

Any insights greatly appreciated.

I posted a comment from a drillers board a few days back. Apparently the 'rupture disks' are SOP in producing wells. They are inset into the wall of the casing to bleed off pressure as the well is brought on-line and everything heats up (I may not remember that completely correctly).

Anyway - they are inset into the wall of the casing - they don't form any kind of vertical barrier. And one guy said that most of them are about 1/4" in diameter (which the guys here say can still leak a pile of fluids at the pressures we're talking).

I guess we can put this to bed once for all that the estimate is from the government, not BP.. So blame the government if you don't like the way the answer change over time.. I have a lot of respect for Adm Allen for telling thing the way it was and stand up for what the government do:...


Allen maintained, however, that BP was not to blame for the inaccurate figures about the size of the oil leak.

"They were never BP's figures. They were our figures," he said. "We have several different methods of trying to establish the flow rate, from taking overhead satellite imagery of the oil on the water to using very high resolution video to try to assess the volume of the flow and velocity at which it's rising."

Allen said that the oil is spilling out at a rate as high as possibly 40,000 barrels a day, but "we'll only know what is flowing out of that well when we have it completely capped

That liquidity issue, again:

Senators call on BP to set up $20B special account

Sunday, June 13, 2010

(06-13) 11:51 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

Democratic senators want BP to set aside $20 billion to pay for cleanup and other costs from the Gulf oil spill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to send BP a letter on Monday proposing the account. That's two days before BP executives meet with President Barack Obama and three days before chief executive Tony Hayward testifies at a House hearing.

A copy of the letter was released Sunday by Reid's office.

BP has promised to pay for damages. But Obama also wants BP to create a special escrow account, though he hasn't suggested an initial amount.


I think the Obama administration wants to be the piranha which gets the first bite out of the sick guppy. I hope they force BP to ring fence quality assets. I hear echos of the Manville Trust.

BP will quit the US before they significantly hurt their company's future. Before they set up any trust, they're going to have to have an agreement for that to be the end of their liability, which Obama is not going to promise. Obama is acting like a puffed up blowhard in making all these "deadlines" and "demands". I am ashamed at his actions in this crisis. Truly not worthy of a president.

What would you have Obama do then? Nothing? And then your comments would be ... ?

If BP leaves, they leave. So what? Better now than giving them the opportunity to kill more American workers thru their negligence.

GregTX: "BP will quit the US..." Please explain how they will just up and "quit."

I don't know if anyone noticed, but last night they sent Viking Poseidon ROV2 down with 2 different wrenches for a go at the riser bolts. They gad a much smaller and faster hydraulic torque wrench to break it loose which one ROV could (and did) handle easily by itself. It made short work breaking the bolt loose. It worked great in fact.

Then, instead of fiddling with hydraulic hoses they had a second hydraulic impact wrench similar in appearance to the ones a truck shop would use to remove wheel lugs to spin the bolt off... which it too did with ease.

Then, the ROV reversed the impact wrench, re-installed the bolt, and tightened it. This all took a few minutes at most, and then they put the wrench away and went topside.

So, it appears they have the process of removing and re-installing riser bolts with the ROV's down to where it is like changing a tire.

I also saw Enterprise ROV1 going along a very long string of intact riser, which appeared to be vertical and not damaged. Are they moving in some riser? I am not sure what that was about. Did any of you see that?

>> Are they moving in some riser?

Two huge suction footings are being installed as part of the next phase - could be one of those.

I've seen them do that other evenings, although not last night.

According to Kent Wells' most recent technical briefing (6/9), they were hoping to begin testing of the BOP choke -> manifold -> Q4000 connection this weekend. Perhaps that was the riser being examined.

OTOH, the amount of ROV activity taking place when I've checked seems low level if they are actually doing any subsea testing. Perhaps they are only exercising the newly installed Schlumberger oil & gas flare on the Q4000.

Yes, I watched it. My thought was they may be preparing a new plan to connect to the BOP. ISTR the BP guy, in the progress briefing, mentioned looking at other connection options to the 75 ton monster so this may well tie in with that. Bolting a lightweight (relatively) manifold on top sounds more comforting than dumping that much weight on a possibly challenged BOP.


It seems that they had just a simple manifold bolted on top with several valves and ports to connect to flex tubing that could be opened or closed as needed that 90% of the oil spillage problem would be solved. No more leak at the bottom, just the problem of what to do with the oil and gas topside.

Even if they had to just let it come out an open pipe sticking above the surface topside and they set it on fire it would be much better than the current "solution".

I am curious about the progress here too. They are suggesting 5-10K bopd from the choke/kill lines which should be visible on the ROVs monitoring the cap, but I haven't seen much evidence of a flow reduction so it's likely not fully operational. Anyone hear any concrete comments on whether they're burning yet (even in small quantities)?

Separately, if they can unbolt the riser easily, does that imply they can install a better-fitting cap and suck up more flow?

According to this story:


up to 100,000,000 gallons of oil have spilled so far.

This is equivalent to over 13,300,000 cubic feet, or 306 acre feet.

If your figures are correct, it makes you realise how small the leak is as a proportion of the gulf total volume when dispersed. Fractions of parts per trillion. Allowing the oil to concentrate at the surface and then wash ashore is disastrous, so it makes you wonder why we have to wait for a leak before we start arguing the benefits of dispersion and the safety of dispersants.

"it makes you realise how small the leak is as a proportion of the gulf total volume when dispersed"

Of course, it *isn't* dispersed throughout the total volume of the Gulf...

Your statement is incomplete:

What part per trillion of the total spill and/or dispersant is needed to kill an individual plankton or fish larva?

This is like saying poisonous snake bite is not a problem - since it is too dilute to do any harm when dispersed among 6 billion humans.


From experience in previous oil spill in marshes in France:

I'm afraid the answer is simple: you cannot clean a marsh from an oil spill without destroying it.
When you burn the oil, cut the plants, dig out and clean the soil or whatever, the result is the same:


And that will mean that the coastline will be placed more land inwards. Not a problem in itself. If you have the space for it to let nature create a new marsh. Otherwise, no marshes. And more vulnerability from flooding.

The wise thing to do is to let nature clean it up. It will take some 10 to 20 years for that.

The only "solution" is make sure you skim the oil of the water before it hits the shores.

Roger from The Netherlands

"And that will mean that the coastline will be placed more land inwards. Not a problem in itself. If you have the space for it to let nature create a new marsh. Otherwise, no marshes. And more vulnerability from flooding."

The present system in place already allows for this which are the controls on the Mississippi.

With all the whailing done by BP and all other government agencies the truth is not many really care. It has always been the two foxes against the rabbit. They will wear you down until you become lunch.

I'll put my rose colored glasses on and comment to cause; The best we have is the well is controlled soon, spillage is brough to a minimum, as much oil is collected before it contacts land or marsh and our hurricane season is a good one. I know it's customary to start naming hurricanes beginning with "A" of the alphabet an alternating gender each year. I think we may need to consider an alternate plan. Put all the names in a hat and pick. All the names of the folks leading (stated lightly) us through this debacle. Nature has on numerous occasion repaired itself after our attempts to destroy it. I think it will take nature again to clean up this mess and I'm hoping she's a bit more forgiving for what's been done. It's going to take a few Cat:2-3s and a few seasons before the marshes and coasts are inhabitable by the current struggling ecosystem. I pray that what's below the surface isn't as bad as some doomsdayers predictions. I hope Tony's name isn't pulled because we don't need another Cat:5 in the GOM any time soon.

Natural zeolites adsorb oil. I have used some to clean restaurant oil off the floor of my wife's restaurant. You know how oil sticks to plastic. It adsorbs right away. The mine where I got mine is Idaho near the Utah border but there are other natural deposits. http://www.bearriverzeolite.com/water%20filtration.htm
I am not sure how you would get it to float though.

One could also dam the mouth of the Mississippi river and flood the marshes with new sediment. The dam would not have to be much. Consider a farmer when they food irrigate would dam the ditch with a canvas dam and then siphon the water up and over the ditch bank.

I am reading a lot about damage to the oil bore, a fracture in the sea bed. Can you all address that? I am not sure what it means. Thanks.

You are reading a lot of speculation, some wild speculation, mixed in with a few verifiable facts. What we know for certain is that there is a whole lot of oil coming out the top of the well where it is supposed to come out (but not into the water), and that there is some damage to the well down hole... but we don't know how bad or where that damage is.

What not just inject LNG at the leaks. LNG cools the oil and the gas forms gas hydrate ice slush blanket over the leak.


The hole is capped and BP losses access to 2 billion barrels of oil, which BP hopes to reap thru the relief wells.

If the gas rich seafloor is totally fractured and further drilling is impossible, a bigger ice cap of gas hydrates would be needed.

I made this suggestion a couple days after the blow-out.
Now Obama is demanding a final plan to plug the hole.

Hey Tony-baby, I got your plan right here!

Yet another plan that is simple, straightforward, and completely wrong.

If one were to cool the flow by injecting the well with LNG or LN2 or whatever really cold fluid one would have to inject at a rate much greater than the well is already flowing in order to effect any kind of heat transfer low enough to block anything. If they could possibly do that then they would have done it with mud and killed the well. As we know, they were unable to do that.

Besides, everybody knows only multiple nuclear explosions and laser guided screws have any chance of working.

The idea is to form a cap of hydrate ice over the hole, the cool liquid natural gas is to keep the hot oil melting the cap.

However, the LNG could turn into a giant methane bubble and blow up the surface ship like Deepwater Horizon. :^<

Don't forget about that backup plan to pave the GoM with millions of tons of cement in case the screw didn't work.

And the "Nanobytes UNITE! Form the shape of a BOP!" plan.

I'm still hoping for sharks with lasers powered by nuclear explosions.

I like that. Maybe Disney could create some cute, helpful, dancing ones just for this purpose. In nifty little harnesses that hold the suitcase-sized power generators and something like miners' hats to mount the lasers on. They'd be happy to swim down the relief well hole. It'd be just like taking out the Death Star, so we know it can be done.

Sharks with lasers in no crazier than spraying dispersant which is 10 times as toxic as oil on the mess, just so they can hide the problem, and that's exactly what is being done.

I'd go for the sharks.

How about instead of spraying dispersants at the leaking oil, one sprayed liquid nitrogen or other extremely chilly non-volatile gas or superchilled liquid at the plume, and kept the outcoming oil at the BOP instantly and continually coagulating into licorice-like solids that the little rovers could gather and stack for uplift to bulk barges? The chilling would need be enough distance from the leaks' outputs to avoid chill-clogging the pipe, but frozen oil should be easier to contain than the gooey form. Even if it is only frozen temporarily.

Perhaps they could contain this frozen oil and package it for grilling? How many frozen oil balls would it take to smoke some ribs for 8 hours?

I'm not clear if "marsh" is being used in the official communiques to include what would properly be designated "estuary".

Toxicity of substances under discussion may be different in fresh water, and distribution of those substances through freshwater currents or the process of estuarine behavior may be significantly different than in a salt marsh. There is also a question of edibility of estuarine products in affected zones.

http://web.bryant.edu/~dlm1/sc366/estuaries/estuaries.htm is a good site for differentiation among estuaries, salt marshes, tidal flats and mangrove swamps.

I need some feedback. Would air popped popcorn make a good boom testing material. Would it sink too fast? How about latex painted natural corks?

Put some popcorn in water and see what happens. (soggy mush)

Will it float enough to be visible for 30 minutes. It can degrade and sink after that. I think I will try it.

Bedtime thought:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
— John Donne (January 1572 – 31 March 1631), Meditation XVII