BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Why the Flow Rates are Increasing and Open Thread

Because of the large number of comments, this thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6611.

Tonight the President will talk to the nation about the oil disaster that has been going on in the Gulf of Mexico for over a month. That will likely be the news story of the night, followed by the answers to the five questions that lawmakers have of BP. By that time I will also be starting a daily visit to the National Hurricane Center to see if there are any signs of coming problems. All of which being said, now might be a good time to talk about erosion, how it is changing the Deepwater Horizon well conditions, and why precautions about the flow increasing are probably wise. And I am going to recap bits of an old Tech Talk, as I do so. (It’s partly why they are there.)

To begin with a simple point – fluid (oil and gas) will only move from one place to another if something is pushing it. (Newton’s first law). For the fluid in the reservoir under the Gulf, this force pushing the oil out is the difference in pressure between the oil in the rock, and the pressure in the well. The pressure of the oil in the rock is 12,000 psi. When the well was drilled the pressure of the mud that filled the well was over 13,000 psi and no oil moved into the well. Just before the disaster the fluid in the well was changed from mud to seawater. This lowered the pressure of the fluid in the well below that of the fluid in the rock, a differential pressure now existed, and where there was a passage through which the oil and gas could flow, and they did. The question has always been – how much?

Gas flows more easily through cracks than oil, and the disaster was first evident when leaking gas reached the drilling rig, and then ignited. The BOP then, at least partially, functioned. After the rig sank, the riser also sank, bending the pipe just above the BOP. At that time there were reports that a Coast Guard ROV examined the underwater assembly and did not see any obvious oil leaks. A couple of days later the flow was suggested at about 1,000 bd, and this then escalated to 5,000 bd. As cameras began to publicly monitor the outlet of the riser the estimates started to grow, but a not-well-publicized effort measured the flow out of the riser, and found that it was around 8,000 bd, with allowance for leaks, the overall flow was estimated to be perhaps 12,000 bd. Once the broken part of the riser was removed and a cap placed over the well, a significant portion of the escaping oil was captured and could then be measured as it flowed into the surface vessel recovering it. Those values are currently at around 15,500 bd. BP is currently planning on additional capture this week of up to another 10,000 bd, and preparing for a worst case scenario with a flow rate of 80,000 bd. These numbers vary a lot, and yet they could all be correct.

Why? Well, its called erosion, and simply put, the oil and gas that are flowing out of the rock are bringing small amounts of that rock (in the form of sand) out with them. Rocks that contain lots of oil are not that strong and are easily worn away by the flow of fluid through them.

Let me make an analogy with soil. If I make a hill of soil, and leave it sit for a while there will be a number of rainstorms fall on the soil. Initially the surface will all erode relatively evenly under the diffused flow after the rain, but very quickly weaker parts of the soil will be removed faster and instead of a smooth surface, the soil will be selectively eroded and channels or rills will start to form on the surface.

Hillside rill channels formed as initially diffuse rainwater water flow concentrates and erodes channels

These are larger than the passageways around the individual grains of soil, and so it is easier for the water to flow in these channels, and so more water collects in them and moves through them. As it does, because the fluid can easily get around the soil particles, and this was a weaker area already, more soil is removed, and the channels get deeper. This is known as concentrating the flow and means that, over time the channels grow bigger, the fluid flows faster, and it has a greater potential for erosion.

This also happens when oil and gas start to flow from a reservoir. It is generally not a good thing to allow, since the sand is still in the oil and gas when it reaches the surface and it is expensive to get out – as well as causing the problems I am about to talk about. So to stop it, the well is fitted with a screen when it is first opened. The screen holds the rock particles (sand) in place around the well, slowing if not completely stopping the creation of the channels.

But sometimes, the deposit doesn’t flow very well, the oil may be heavier, or there may be other reasons, and in this case allowing those channels to develop can help production. This technique is known as CHOPS – Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand. (The report cited is a multi-chapter pdf). The impact of allowing the sand to flow with the oil and gas (to be produced in the terminology) is very significant.

Simplified change in production from a well with the sand being produced (upper curve) relative to conventional flow (lower curve). (The curves have been smoothed and only a sample of the “noisy” data is shown). Government of Alberta CHOPS Report

There is thus a very good reason, from the oil in the rock point of view, for the production to have been increasing the way that it has. And for it to increase to the levels that BP are taking precautions to capture. And because they cannot get access to the flow channels to restrain their growth and hold the sand until the relief wells are drilled that increase may well be unavoidable.

Now to the second part of the puzzle, which is what that sand does to the flow passages. The DOE release of some of the documents from BP included pressure measurements at different points along the BOP as taken on the 25th of May.

Pressures along the BOP on May 25th (DOE )

Because of the erosion, values only exist transiently, so dates become important.

When I cut with an abrasive slurry system, the jet flows through a nozzle that is about 1 mm in diameter (0.04 inches). With a pressure drop of 5,000 psi across the nozzle, that jet, once formed, will cut through casing steel in around 15 seconds. It will cut through ASTM – A108 steel to a depth of over an inch at a traverse speed of 1.5 inches a minute. (Cement is much easier to cut). In this way very small initial openings are very easily made wider, to allow a greater volume flow. (And for those who assert that changing material properties will stop erosion, one of my upcoming papers deals with what happens to diamond.)

The pressures across the BOP don’t show the pressure drops that they did earlier in this disaster. At one time it was reported that the pressure below the BOP was in the 8-9,000 psi range and that above it 2,800 psi with the 2,250 psi pressure being that of the seawater outside the riser. At that time I calculated that a flow of 500 gallons per minute (17,000 bd) would only require a gap in the range of 0.5 to 0.7 inches in effective diameter to allow that flow, at that pressure drop.

The pressure below the BOP is now at 4,400 psi with a pressure drop of around 2,150 psi which will slow the erosion significantly – but not totally. For that pressure drop to have occurred, for the same flow rate, the effective equivalent diameter through the BOP need only increase by 0.1 inches to 0.8 inches, which is not a lot. Were the effective diameter to increase by only another 0.15 inches the flow would increase to 25,000 bd, and if the effective diameter were to double to about 1.7 inches, then the flow would reach the maximum capacity that BP will be able to handle of 80,000 bd. Given the steady erosion that the BOP is seeing, and the fact that a slow erosion rate over time still gets to a large enough diameter, perhaps it is not foolish of BP to bring in that additional capture and storage capacity.

And since a picture sometimes helps, the following picture shows a single ASJ jet at 5,000 psi cutting the walls of the OmniMax Theater under the Gateway Arch in St Louis. We cut the full 15 ft of the new wall exposure with the system (to make the hole for the theater to be put into). The jet flow rate was around 5 gpm.

And this was the cut after a single pass, we were cutting about 18 inches deep on a cut (rock and cement cut a lot easier than metal – though we accidentally ran over a couple of those bolts and cut them right off).

Dolomite and chert cut with an ASJ in the walls of the Omnimax Theater under the Arch in St Louis. (Its all hidden behind the concrete wall now).

Now you will notice that this says nothing about those ideas such as that propounded by Dougr that the casing has been cracked and oil is escaping into the surrounding rock., and that the casing is becoming a lot weaker. There are two reasons for this, firstly if there was a crack, in the same way as with the BOP, then over time that would have been eaten away as oil, gas and mud flowed through it. Once a flow starts it will rapidly eat out a larger passage, as the above has demonstrated. Once that passage was created then oil flow through it to the surface would make it impossible to see what was going on around the well (look at the cloud above the BOP). In fact there are very clear pictures from under the BOP. This would seem to show that there is no oil leaking there at present.

The other thing to remember is that BP are planning on using the second LMRP cap effectively as a seal on the well. They could not do that if the upper segments of the casing were damaged, and I imagine that they have enough data from the Top Kill testing to reassure themselves of that.

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Gail, good to know the traffic is growing. Growth is good ;)

I just made a (little something) donation via paypal. I see that GAIA offers "Dedicated Servers" for $150-$200 per month. Sounds quite expensive - but perhaps, that's the cost of renewable energy? :)

Just wondering... have you guys considered other cheaper albeit "non-renewable" hosting options such as NearlyFreeSpeech.net? Or is it by policy that you have decided to stick to GAIA? :)

Not all growth is good, man. :) We are just happy to help folks learn about energy.

GAIAHost has been great--very helpful, responsive bunch. Ours is a pretty burdensome account because we push a lot of images and use a lot of bandwidth (note that those figures are for 50GB served per month/server...we do more than that because of our graphics-heavy posts, etc., plus add in monitoring and other costs, and it's, well, pricey.). I would imagine a pay-as-you-use service would be even more expensive, especially in times like these.


Frustrated at the lack of action in New Orleans? Want to be pro-active in helping in what is coming to the GOM?

Come, we can do something together…


And please spread the word.

OFFICIAL...35000-60000 BARRELS A DAY LEAKING..... http://us.cnn.com/2010/US/06/15/oil.spill.disaster/index.html?hpt=T1&ire...

Yep, BP were lying insanely from the start. Initial estimates at 1,000 bpd and then 5,000 bpd for 3 weeks? And now we have reached 60,000 bpd. Matt Simmons might be spot on with his 100k bpd estimate.
There is really no transparency on the issue.



At some testing stations in the Gulf of Mexico, levels of benzene have been detected at over 3000 parts per billion (over 3 parts per million). The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set a maximum workplace exposure limit of 1 part of benzene per million parts of air during an 8 hour workday. So already some testing stations in the Gulf of Mexico have detected levels of benzene that are three times higher than what the OSHA considers to be safe.

Not only that, but WWLTV in New Orleans is reporting that hydrogen sulfide has been detected in the Gulf of Mexico at levels as high as 1,192 parts per billion. The concentration threshold at which humans begin to experience physical symptoms from hydrogen sulfide is about 5 to 10 parts per billion.

Needless to say, this is beyond alarming.

Norwegian workers on-board some of them vessels serving the ROV op complains about White Spirit smell all over the place- worried about possible long term effects.
The boat-crew roam around with headache, nausea, cold sweat, feels intoxicated - and more...
They got a cr4sh course in gas-mask usage before entering the area.
The owners sitting safe and sound in Norway says : Not to worry. I'd reckon those substance_PPM's are at their maximum right there; on the decks of those ships.... Time will show.

Norwegian article (use translator) - "Health at stake in the Golf" http://www.smp.no/nyheter/article235529.ece

That's a very good point for a landlubber like me. I hadn't put a thought to the conditions for the personnel topside at the disaster site

I'm not certain, but it's more likely that you mean 5 to 10 parts per million (not billion) for symptoms.

OSHA limit for H2S is in ppm, not ppb. Intentional misrepresentation to produce sensationalism or not, you decide.


Benzene : TWA exposure 1 ppm. Note TWA = Time Weighted Average, not maximum.


Curious what and where the testing regime was. An industrial hygienist would tell you that time and exposure is part of the equation determining the hazard.

BTW it's good to be concerned about benzene. It is one of the very few materials to be an actual proven human carcinogen. Most of the materials that are listed as carcinogens are done so based on animal studies or because the structure is similar to something that is thought it could be a carcinogen.

I agree that we can't trust BP. But did you read any of the main post??

What it said was that all those estimates (and they were not BP estimates) could be right, because initial flow would likely increase as erosion cleared a path for the oil. From the chart presented, it looks as if we could still see some weeks or months of increase in flow rate before it slowly starts to subside.

My questions, visa vis dougr's earlier post are:

Shouldn't we expect some pretty major erosion all along the length of the pipe this stuff is flowing through?

At some point shouldn't we expect there to be major breaches in the pipe?

Since the entire wall of the pipe is getting the same level of erosion, should we expect it to all go at once?

When might that happen?

Would such a development make containment impossible or nearly so?

(And on another OT front, what is going on with the oil price chart???)

The erosion rate depends on the velocity. Using the water jet as an example, at the nozzle tip, the hole is small and the velocity high. In the supply pipe the velocity the flow area is big, velocity low, and erosion rate low. Same here. In the restrictions -leak path in the BOP (likely the shear rams) - the velocity is high.

Didn't read and/or understand this posting, did you?

Did you read the post?

BP was probably not "lying insanely from the start". Erosion can and almost certainly did cause the flow to increase over time.

I think I'm missing something (hardly a first!)...

Is the erosion taking place in the pipe, or in/below the well casing, or in the BOP itself? If it's in a natural setting (mud/rock/sand), I follow the "eroding landscape" example pictured above. If erosion's in something man-made (steel/concrete), aren't we talking about fractions of millimeters? How does that figure in the drastic official lifting of estimates?

Sorry in advance for what will be an obvious answer. Please be kind.

The erosion talked about in the article is in the BOP.

But you could also see the erosion in the riser as they attempted the top kill- those openings grew significantly over time.


So we're talking about structural integrity issues then, of ALL the fast-flowing metal pipes? Surely not! (I guess sometimes problems can only be "felt": I'm imagining the perfect gouges inside one of my low-profile tires driven flat on the rim for several hundred metres the other day - keep driving and the rim's gouging the road itself!).

Scratching away tiny bits of metal (unseen) over a long time doesn't sound too bad. But if it's happening rather quickly, as it seems to be suggested in this case, then damn!

Regards, Matt B
I understand there's roughly 4000 GOM wells operating in depths exceeding 1000 feet of sea-water, presumably under comparable pressures. Though I appreciate these wells are doing the job today, might erosion be a problem in the coming years?

In wells where problems are expected, they can instrument for corrosion, errosion, and sand production. Where needed, the subsea choke (well control valve) can be replaced when the errosion gets to an unacceptable point.

Yep, BP were lying insanely from the start. Initial estimates at 1,000 bpd and then 5,000 bpd for 3 weeks? And now we have reached 60,000 bpd. Matt Simmons might be spot on with his 100k bpd estimate.

yes, if you really take your time to follow the oil spill, you would have heard Adm Thad Allen discussed the oil leak number is government number, not BP this past Sunday in Face the Nation..BP did a lot of thing that is wrong. But the estiamtion of the spill is not one of them...

VK wrote:

Yep, BP were lying insanely from the start. Initial estimates at 1,000 bpd and then 5,000 bpd for 3 weeks?

The 5,000 bpd leak estimate did not come from BP -- it came from the Coast Guard, as CG Commander Thad Allen made clear this weekend.

Not that I expect the likes of you to care about such things as factual accuracy when there is a chance to smear a big company like BP.

Need an expert to chime in here before the thread goes off the rails:

If the new estimates are to be believed, then aren't they getting close to placing this well among the highest producing wells in US history in terms of bbl/day?

I suppose the high end of that would put it among the higher producing wells in U.S. history. If the well is really flowing at 60,000 BPD then it is almost unrestricted.

I honestly don't think it is that much, though. I think the 30,000 BPD estimate is much closer. I base that on the 15,000+ BPD being collected and my semi-calibrated eye looking at the flow escaping the cap. It looks like mostly gas to me.

Until they had the topsides trouble today, I haven't seen any big change in the flow since they stabilized collection at the 15,000 BPD level.

I'm just eyeballing it, though. I could be very wrong.

Came across this at another site, comparing this oilfield to the Ghawar oil field. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19660

If someone is talking about the volume of oil in a reservoir, but then mentions as a reference someone who is on the record for believing in abiotic oil (or abiogenic oil, depending on your dictionary), you run.

There is a shote from Live feed from Boa Deep C : ROV 2 of a pressure guage rising --> + 6,000 and rising
What is it that is being measured?

The caption on the video is "Manifold Valve Testing."

I'm pretty sure that is the manifold that is/will be used in the transfer of oil from the BOP choke to the Q4000. So it is likely part of preparation for the activation of Q4000.

It is readying 7,400psi and steady. Let us hope they are pressure testing the manifold to check for leaks, and that is not now the well pressure on the choke line they are connecting to. :-)

Two articles from Switzerland:

One is a ruling by a US federal judge that Transocean

"cannot use a 159-year-old maritime law to cap its damages"


"The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 states that a vessel owner is only liable for the post-accident value of the vessel and cargo as long as the owner can prove that he had no knowledge of negligence in the accident."


The second link is to a discussion of assigning blame for the BOP failure

"And that is the key issue here, the failure of the Transocean BOP"


This fits in with some of Mr. Rockman's previous comments.

This is interesting.

This is my first post on TOD. I am currently working as a subsea engineer. In an earlier guise in my career I worked for a company doing subsea water jet cutting.

We used to use a small nozzle, an iron abrasive and 14,000 psi to cut through anything and everything. 8" steel plate was no problem. Our biggest problem was line losses and depth.

However one thing that vastly accelerates the cutting process (a factor of 100-200 times) was the presence of a air shroud.
You can throw abrasive through water fairly effectively but if you're throwing it through a gas... It's a completely different show. If the well is still leaking gas then the abrasion will be many times faster than anticipated.

Very true.

I have designed control choke specifically for sandy service. The material removal rates are about a 3rd power function of the fluid velocity. Fine sand in gas flow was the worst because of the velocity.

I've seen it cut tungsten carbide like butter. My experience with calcium carbonate is that it is worse than silica sand.

Just to add another couple of point RE flow rate...

This well is producing via a tapered annulus and NOT a production liner.

Flow via a tapered annulus would accumulate a much lower back pressure than a uniform diameter liner.

This well is producing at the sea bed and not the surface, removing 5,000 ft of lift and 2,250 psi of overbalance will vastly increases the production rate.

The bottlenecks in the flow path i.e. the 9-7/8" casing hanger and the partially closed BOP rams will be eroding due to sand and gas production. Therefore the bottlenecks are opening up more and more every day.

One thing to consider is that if the liner collapsed at the first joint below the wellhead then the tension and pressure would have slingshot 700,000 lb of pipe down into the formation. This could have caused the formation to fracture in all manner of ways resulting in very non-linear production, especially under uncontrolled conditions.

HO: Thanks for explaining something that does tie things together. When our Purdue prof took his original flow speed and adjusted it for the proper effective diameter and for gas content the leak at the end of the riser came out to near 9000 BOPD (then add at that time a couple K more for the kink). When he looked at RIT data and correlated it to flow reduction percent he still estimated about 10-12 k for both leaks. It sure did seem (no matter how close those number may have been then) the flow increased after top kill, maybe more after the riser cut, and maybe continues to increase.
Question .: Could top kill have dislodged a down hole blockage in addition to eroding the path?

I guess we will get closer estimate once the choke line gets up and running with the cap. (Do not need anymore lightning strikes)

Latest from FRTG:

Oil estimate raised to 35,000-60,000 barrels a day


Matt Simmons on Bloomberg. Sticking to his story 100%. Sounds about as level headed as can be for a guy whose story is so counter to what is being reported elsewhere.


RE: Simmons.

I thought the Russians had done 5 nuclear well caps? Also the thermonuclear civil engineers are still alive and well, waiting for the phone to ring. I would love to know their day rates.

I was with him until he said the casing isn't there.
This is a subsea well with a subsea BOP, that's 300 tonnes of steel preloaded to the wellhead.

Land blowouts? Completely different kettle of fish, 13,000 ft of pipe didn't make it out the hole. Where the hell does he claim it went? Is it currently in near earth orbit over Canada?

It seems totally impossible that the BOP blew off the wellhead since:

1). AFAIK it is still in the right location.

2). There is an awful lot of oil coming out the top of it. If it's not in communication with the wellbore, where is this oil coming from.

The one intriguing comment in his report is the remark about new data from the Thomas Jefferson (NOAA research vessel) on Sunday. It was the report of a very large subsurface plume which was one basis of Simmons' claim that there was a second leak. I've received no further news from Professor Cowan, but we should watch for any further reports from the Jefferson.

Didn't you hear? This is all being filmed in a backyard pool in Beverly Hills just off Rodeo Drive (well, except for the CGI stuff from ILM). All the people are actors.

Wait, did I just start a conspiracy theory?

It's true. Skandi ROV #2 spent several hours the other night staring at hundreds of footprints in the 'mud' very close to the stage prop everyone is calling the BOP. Then the ROV appeared to surface and the feed went dead, clear proof that they are trying to keep the truth hidden.

BTW, are dougr's flow estimates figuring in the TRUE reservoir pressures of at least 500,000psi? If not we should re-run the calcs. I bet it's flowing at least a million BPD.

(it's awfully hard to satirize crazy once it gets beyond a certain level)

Yes, he sounds level-headed, but his story makes no more sense than it ever did.

Articles about the Thomas Jefferson are all over the Internet. This report, from the LA Times environment blog, is typical of what was being transmitted last week:

Scientists on a federal research vessel said Tuesday morning that they have confirmed a sub-sea concentration of hydrocarbons near the Deepwater Horizon leak site. The preliminary findings suggest that the undersea oil appears and disappears in a series of cloud-like concentrations -- instead of as a steady stream of oil, or plume, as early reports from university researchers suggested.

The federal researchers aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel Thomas Jefferson stressed that they could not conclusively say the oil is linked to the BP leak until water sample tests are completed. The initial findings were based on tests using sophisticated sound-monitoring and fluorescent scanning equipment that detects the presence of crude oil underwater.

NOAA researchers, joined by a University of New Hampshire expert and other outside scientists, detected the "clouds" of oil about 1,100 meters below the surface, 7 1/2 miles west-southwest of the Horizon leak. The clouds were dynamic -- some appeared on sensors at one point and then, later, did not register in the same location.

Separately, NOAA confirmed the existence of broad areas of sub-surface hydrocarbons as far as 142 nautical miles from the leak source, in depths from 50 meters to 1,400 meters (164 feet to 4,593 feet).


No lakes (or worse) of heavy oil accumulating on the seabed.

Latest stories have the TJ leaving Galveston to continue mapping.

Well, his place in Maine looks nice.

So Sen. Susan Collins and the Maine delegation brought Sec Chu to see the Maine State Water Advanced (something) Center yesterday and Simmons got to meet Chu and chat him up? Would love to have been a fly on the wall for that.

ah.. so Chu was in Maine yesterday, but the visit wasn't about oil.

Energy Secretary Visits Offshore Wind Research Program In Maine

by NAW Staff on Tuesday 15 June 2010

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, accompanied Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on a visit to the University of Maine to learn more about its deepwater, offshore wind energy research program.

Collins invited Chu to visit the university's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center and spent the day showing him the facility, meeting with stakeholders and talking with Maine energy exhibitors at a technology fair at the lab.

"ah.. so Chu was in Maine yesterday, but the visit wasn't about oil."

Right. Offshore wind is one of Matt's main interests, these days:


Either this guy is off his rocker completely... Or there's two oil well blowouts, one that NOBODY knows anything about except some single research vessel and presumably whoever was on it.

I HAVE SEEN THE TOP OF THE WELL. It's still there. Nothing larger than drill string could have come out of there. YOU have seen the top of the well. He keeps insisting that there's no well casing, the whole thing blew out of the ground, and there's a fire so large you can't get within 3 miles of it in the GOM, right now.

This guy hasn't watched the live feeds, he hasn't read any of this. He saw pictures of the rig burning, and the oil being burned off right after it sank, and that's the last input he's had. Or else he's just off in la-la land.

According to him, the Thomas Jefferson has reported that there's underwater "lake" of crude that covers 40% of the GOM. The R/V Thomas Jefferson is an NOAA vehicle, and the NOAA website publishes daily maps of where oil is detected, and there's NOTHING there at all to confirm squat about this. In fact, no report from the NOAA indicates any fire anywhere at all, and in fact, continue to confirm that the BOP is in place and reflects precisely what WE know, and nothing at all about his well. Where's this fire that's so bad you can't get within 3 miles of the well? There's no pictures of it anywhere.

Rather, there's reports of water samples with ppm hydrocarbon analysis and "extent" maps of surface oil, etc, etc.

My guess? He's in la-la land

The nice thing about this website is that thanks to the work of a lot of the people here, the truth comes out, more or less, sooner or later.

Matt Simmons has done some interesting work in the past, but IMHO there is little or no verifiable evidence for his recent remarks.

But let's just take note of what he says and, in the usual TOD way of doing things, see if any real evidence develops.

Nuclear get this kind of stuff all the time! welcome to the club OIL.

Have any of the editors here at TOD thought of contacting Simmons and requesting an interview? Surely, they could ask more pointed questions than the Bloomberg anchor. And I'm sure Simmons would oblige.

TOD would be doing everyone a huge favor by either (1) putting this controversy to sleep or (2) blowing the whistle on what looks, at least on the surface, very much like a cover-up (of what, I am not sure - that's why it's called a "cover-up").

Given the quality of genuine information here, I would think it's more a case of Simmons contacting TOD and seeing if he could (please) put his arguments into a realistic context on here.

There is no way TOD is beholden to Simmons for further hard information, nor should it be chasing him - TOD is world's best Internet practice on this spill - and anyone who doubts that should put up or shut up I suggest - or identify where the coverage is bigger and better.

So do you mean that that is what is so "new" about new media, like TOD and other sites?

That they are so high and mighty that they should wait for experts who have been at it for 35+ years to contact THEM, instead of doing it the other way around?

In the past, the editors here at TOD have been pretty interested in what Matt had to say. Now, apparently, not so much. Looking into it would distract them from parsing the info provided by BP's ROVs and press statements.

As for experience in the oil industry, I noticed that Obama appointed a guy with absolutely no oil experience to head up the MMS:

This makes sense, as I too have absolutely no experience with oil, yet I can come up with realistic statistical models to evaluate oil depletion. And so I would think that the new head of MMS doesn't need any oil experience to clean up shop there either. IMO, oil people have a huge blind spot, largely caused by that huge bag of potential riches that has been obscuring their vision over the years. Simmons may have a new blind spot because of that $200/barrel oil that he predicted for this year. We need more measured objective voices in the discussion.

I have seen many comments that the lighter fractions of the oil spill at the surface evaporate quickly. What happens to them ? I imagine that they break down quickly, but surely they dont go all the way to CO2 and H20 in, say, 24 hrs ?

What about these atmospheric plumes of residual lighter fractions from the spill ? I would appreciate pointers to the atmospheric chemistry of evaporated hydrocarbons.

The lighter hydrocarbons mix into the atmosphere and act as greenhouse gases until they oxidize, which, you are correct, takes longer than 24 hours.

I did a very quick search for atmospheric chemistry of hydrocarbons and didn't find much I could recommend, but I suspect there's more out there. Wikipedia gives a "lifetime" for methane of about 12 years, and it's probably similar or longer for higher hydrocarbons. Some methane chemistry here(pdf).

Something I don't see much reference to (or apparent understanding of) in much of the news and commentary is the power of mixing and dilution, and the relative masses/volumes of the various components. Some TOD commenters have very kindly done some of those comparisons, and we can all be grateful. I'm not advocating that dilution is the solution to pollution, but it will help out in the Gulf.

It's been a long day, so I won't do any calculations now. Maybe tomorrow.

So here's a question: would it be worthwhile to catalyze the degradation of these hydrocarbons? I'm thinking of a catalytic surface of platinum/paladium wire, exposed to the open air, and kept hot by solar concetrators. The heat will cause circulation to bring in fresh air constantly, and the contact with the platinum will cause the fumes in the air to oxidize.

Hell, get an old catalytic converter from a chop shop, add in a solar oven, and place on a rooftop in Port Fourchon. It can't hurt.

Your idea reminds me of the concept of plating car radiators with platinum to clean the air as they drive.It does work to some extent!
I think the real trouble in the gulf is the sub surface oil.It will cause horrible oxygen depletion...and as an added bonus, who knows what kind of bacteria will like the new environment?Perhaps they will be innocuous, but they could also be deadly.There is no way to know.The consequences of this disaster will be many, and they will be complex.Pandora's box is opened.

Never heard of that before, got any links? Exhaust catalysts don't work until they hit VERY high temps, and once they do they're self sustaining to an extent - making their own heat to keep the reaction going. Coolant radiators are certainly well above ambient but not hot enough, I would think. And the last thing you want to do with a radiator is make it hotter.

BofA limits trades with BP:


From Reuters: "Limiting the duration of trades with a counterparty is one way in which banks can seek to protect themselves against risk that a company will be unable to meet its long-term obligations."

Make of this what you may....

Addendum: Reuters: "BP's five-year CDS costs have jumped to 515 basis points, or $515,000 per year to insure $10 million for five years, from around 40 basis points in April, according to Markit Intraday."

These are sticks and stones.

These are sticks and stones.

Actually, these are rocks and boulders. Also today's Fitch downgrade from AA to BBB.

515 basis points is enormous in the CDS market. BP will not be able to raise capital effectively if this persists, and an oil company needs capital.

I remain concerned that an unscrupulous buyer could attempt to loot the company assets and stiff the injured parties. This company is very much in play right now.

Anytime Goldman Sachs is involved you can know that it will not end well for anyone except Goldman.


I know this is popular right now, but almost every company that deals with GS ends up better off for it. That is why they are where they are. When congress and the press did their little naive spat about GS betting against their own clients, the parade of clients walking out the front door - well, there was no parade of clients walking out their front door. Their clients know better than to believe that line of stupidity.

When BP gets in trouble, who do they call? Goldman Sachs. Why? Because they are incredibly good at doing good work for their clients.

...almost every company that deals with GS ends up better off for it.

You mean better off if they had not worked with GS ? Unfortunately we can never find out ...

But I'm sure GS specializes in doing barely legal stuff to the max benefit of GS & customer. To the detriment of everyone else involved.

evnow wrote:

But I'm sure GS specializes in doing barely legal stuff to the max benefit of GS & customer. To the detriment of everyone else involved.

GS is highly successful and you hate them for it. How novel and refreshing.

You are flat out wrong.

People continue to deal with Goldman because Goldman provides access to the stock market at competitive rates. But after the story broke out of the con they pulled over the mortgage CDS's, Goldman got used very quickly to not having its word taken at face value over anything.

They do not care whether or not you take their word on anything. Their customers have stayed with them. Access to the stock market is not why. They can get that in lots of places. Access to Goldman Sachs' professional proficiency is why. They can only get that from Goldman Sachs.

Their customers know the Rolling Stone and their ilk are full of organic mud - bottom killed, so to speak.

is this a buy signal?

Only if you're reckless.

[Sorry. "I can resist anything but temptation" — Oscar Wilde]

Addendum to Reuters post by me above: To insure a BP US $10 million bond for five years will cost you US $2,575,000 or more than 20% of the face value of the bond.

If the BP bond insurance (CDS) were fire insurance on a $300,000 home, the total premiums for five years of fire insurance would be $60,000+ or $12,000+ a year.

[If I have calculated wrong, please jump up and down on me. But, then again, I probably don't have to send you an invitation.]

You have it right, it's about five per cent per year.

Of course, the insurance is only as good as whoever you buy it from. Remember AIG?

So it really makes them unable to compete, they cannot bid on large projects, pretty much, if they have to, in effect, pay so much extra for the financing. They would have to partner with someone. It really cuts to the core of their business. This can't continue.

>> So it really makes them unable to compete, they cannot bid on large projects, pretty much, if they have to, in effect, pay so much extra for the financing.

Not having access to bank finance due to panicked banksters is a bit less critical to a company that mints their own currency (oil)! Really just limits BP to not funding more projects than ops cash flow, which at last glance could still fund some pretty hefty projects. BP 1Q 2010 ops cash flow after tax of about $7.7 billion.

Bond market reaction seems a bit odd, as I thought the bonds & rating were backed directly by BP PLC (ultimate parent company, with worldwide subsidiaries & assets). Cash flow isn't broken out by region, but less than 1/3 of profit was generated from US based on 1Q earnings release. I'd assume that extreme liability scenarios at some point would make it no longer worth BP defending its US subsidiary. Though if the specific bond in question were backed by a BP US subsidiary only, ratings might still be optimistic.

I agree with your observations. The bond market reaction does seem odd, but I take that as a warning sign. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature or bet against the bond market, most of the time.

In 2009 they had $16 billion in earnings from continuing ops and $20 billion in capital investment. And they pay out more than half of those profits in dividends. So even though they make lots of money, they need to actively raise capital to run their normal business, although they could limp along without it.

Also very serious is the fact that one of the major swaps dealers, BofA, won't trade with them. This probably means most or all of the major dealers will follow suit. They need swaps to hedge their normal business operations, this could become a big headache for the CFO. This is perhaps the most surprising, and ominous, development of all.

I also have a vague recollection that some massive pension funds would not be allowed under federal and state law to buy their bonds if BP's credit rating overall were to fall below "A". GB may have similar pension fund rules, particularly if the funds are government guaranteed as a fall back.

Nope. Your math is right.

To elaborate on your earlier observation: *Big* sticks and stones.

kal: Cf: http://www.examiner.com/x-51590-Cultural-Issues-Examiner~y2010m6d6-BPs-T...

But you probably remember Hayward's taunt. It may be his epitaph.

Thats insane. Hmmm. On 2nd thought, its approaching NJ property tax rates. Ah well, not sooo bad.

Obama live from the WH:


Yeah, and right now he is talking about Peak Oil without naming the bugger with his true name....

Is Obama doing a Carter.

Bizarre. He's even channelling Carter's hand movements.

Finally Obama appears to make a clear step in the right direction.

Right, not even close. Funny that he specifically referred to PhD's like Chu, not realizing that these are the guys that he should be recruiting to verifying and validating theories behind oil depletion such as the Oil Shock Model, Dispersive Discovery, and Export Land Model. These were all developed on TOD and need some acknowledgement at the governmental level. Then they just wait for the blowback from all the cornucopians and dispatch those guys with reason.

As it is, Obama's recruiting of Chu sounds like he is a super-technician who will help trouble-shoot our way out of our predicament.

Acknowledgment is needed first, and then you attack the problem. The fundamental problem won't get fixed by patching and hacking.

Funny that he specifically referred to PhD's like Chu, not realizing that these are the guys that he should be recruiting to verifying and validating theories behind oil depletion such as the Oil Shock Model, Dispersive Discovery, and Export Land Model. These were all developed on TOD and need some acknowledgement at the governmental level.

Do you really think that what has been and is talked about around here can actually sustain a reasonable peer review?

No, not the stuff on this thread, but the oil depletion models, certainly YES. However, you would have a hard time finding someone to peer review though, especially my stuff. The ELM stuff would be a bit easier because it is not as comprehensive.

Obama said (paraphrasing) "the American people deserve to understand why it happened".

Of course he only refers to the disaster and not to understanding the real problem of oil depletion. That seems to be something no one cares to understand.

Of course he only refers to the disaster and not to understanding the real problem of oil depletion.

He said they're only drilling 1 mile under the sea because the easy oil is gone. Said we've ignored the oil depletion problem for decades. Seemed to be an explicit reference back to Carter.

Did you miss the end of the speech?

That's good. Real-time blogging apparently prevented me from listening 5 minutes into the future.

Oh come on. Surely you would have used the first 90% of the speech to model the tail.


It's all about the multi-tasking my man. :) Seriously, I am thrilled about the "Carter moment". I am listening to a right-wing talker now and he is having convulsions over Obama's deep-water drilling statement.

Empty, meaningless crap.


And I am sooo tired of the faith and prayer nonsense from politicians.

Absolutely no specifics ...

the transition to other energy sources is apparently going to happen because we are good people? smart?

how? when? where?

i agree. waste of time. who in the hell was he talking too?

And I am sooo tired of the faith and prayer nonsense from politicians.


Yeah, unless he says "we have to stop driving, we have to give up our cars, etc., we have to change our infrastructure" then his speech is just an EXTREMELY SOPHISTICATED ploy to keep the support of the left-wing tilting upper socio-economic level elites while doing NOTHING to change the status quo. In other words, BAU.

My friend who is the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company believes the whole Obama Green BAU concept, new fortunes to be made in renewable energy and conservation - onward and upward! Naturally, I do exactly agree. Yes, some will be winners, but the losers will be more numerous. Thin film photovoltaics will never create enough jobs to replace those lost in car making and house building.

But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked – not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The sad part of this is how the media report it. Since they feel this strange compulsion to be fair and balanced, they will always report on the cornucopian side of things as well, not realizing that the earth is not flat (as Paul Krugman famously said). With the spill, we will see the oil depletion realists getting some face-time and we will need the best arguments to counter the spew that will come back at us. It seems like guys like Simmons (a realist) and Chris Landau (a cornucopian) are just priming the pump.

I imagine the occasional journalist reads TOD nowadays, and so we shouldn't be surprised if we see some twisted reporting.

"The sad part of this is how the media report it."

I found it sad that, after the speech, CNN cut to a room full of folks who were complaining about the oil moratorium because they all knew people employed in the industry.

We'll never change anything until people realize that we all have to give something up.


20% of the worlds use and 2% of the world's reserves. This is true and makes me wonder how far out to sea the US reserves can be claimed?

This disaster is 300 miles off shore and made by a foreign registered company which is 40% owned by US citizens. With buying and finding and claiming oil rights and laws which allow horizontal drilling and pulling oil out from under another jurisdiction the entire geographical resource area gets very flexable.

Who has legal jurisdiction over international waters being drilled and how reckless can an operation be?

Now BP has discovered oil 7 miles BSL. God help us if they loose control of that operation.

Now I see the oil sands stock is on the rise. More speculation and profit.

At the time of the explosion, the Deepwater Horizon was drilling an exploratory well at a water depth of approximately 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the Macondo Prospect located in the Mississippi Canyon Block 252, in the United States exclusive economic zone about 41 miles (66 km) off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.


Well, just watched the presidential address.

No call for sacrifice, just rah-rah America-can-do platitudes.

I voted for the guy, and didn't have high expectations, but his address was generic politicial-speak. This is what he does with an opportunity to show leadership. Bah.

Sorry, but I can't imagine any President willing to stand up and tell the US population that their standard of living is not sustainable, that we all need to get used to increasing energy costs and lower supply levels, and nothing can be done to stop it. Saying such things would be political suicide and doom his administration to impotency for the rest of his term. Few politicians have the courage or foresight to speak of issues past their next election cycle.

Obama's speech focused on the here and now, and that's about all I expected tonight.

Agreed. If he really channeled Carter, he ran the risk of repeating Carter's fate.

Carter's fate in political terms was that he didn't get a second term. His fate in historical terms will be more kindly regarded. That's the way it usually works.

Yeah, but no one seems to care about being famous after they are dead anymore.

Carter's failure is due in part by the fact that he switched alliances midstream to Rockefeller.
You can't serve two masters.

My personal estimate is that Obama did about as well as we could EXPECT given the reality of politics but I agree with Greenish.

Sometimes it is the right time for a leader to simply lead, and to hell with the short term consequences.

The short term consequences might be, would be, tough for the Democratic party , but over the longer run, he would have been in home run territory as a leader who dared to speak the truth.We need a Churchill.

In some cultures a man who cannot get his point or his convictions across any other way resigns his position to make it clear that he has principles that are more important than his position.

I fear that five or ten years down the road we will collectively wish like hell we had had someone,anyone, in the White House who would have leveled with us.

But at least we don't have to worry about that airhead Palin taking over if the Prez chokes to death on a speech so grand and ponderous it blocks his windpipe.

The last president who told it like it is on energy was run out of office a year later. None of his goals were implemented. (See copy of speech below.) One 20 year goal he set was 20% solar by the year 2000. Just imagine if we had done that.

Now just imagine Obama trying to do that. How would the press treat his proposal? How would the GOP respond? Would the country rally around him, or would his opponents use it as more grist for the endless mill of BS that spews out of the tv. Instead of death panels, we would be hearing about Obama taking our cars away, or limiting how far we can drive, and charging $100 for a gallon for gas. They would turn it into a circus sideshow just like they did with health care reform.

Everything attempted is opposed on principle. Everything. Obama has an energy bill. Will he even be able to get a vote on it in the senate or will the gop filibuster it like everything else?

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980s, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade -- a saving of over 4-1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day.

Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my presidential authority to set import quotas. I'm announcing tonight that for 1979 and 1980, I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow.

Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun. I propose the creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990.... Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.

These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well-spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment.

Point four: I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.

Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the red tape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.

Point six: I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every state, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford. I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

Our nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives.

Maybe we'll get somewhere this time....I hope...

We really took a step back in the 1980's. Reagan even took away the energy tax credits.

Fast forward to April 2010-Prior to Deepwater Horizon, it was Al Gore and the Climate Change.... Wasn't there a goal to decrease our globe's temperature by 4 degrees or something like that???

And it was about CO2 emissions, which are harmless to humans, plants and animals.. (I personally found climate change and Al Gore stuff annoying and vague-without a clear cause and effect.)

Now, we've got oil in the water, oil on animals, oil on plants, etc.. Unlike CO2, oil gone wrong is bad.

A few months ago, if someone would have created a Si-Fi possible nightmare scenerio of uncontrolled oil gushing all over the GOM for weeks or months would anyone have believed it a future reality?

Maybe we'll get somewhere....

If you think "CO2 emissions are harmless to humans...animals", may I suggest you attempt to breathe high concentrations of it and see what happens. Not to mention how it has the potential to affect our atmosphere if too much of it gets pumped into it.

Plants, well sure, plants love it.

That was stupid then, it's stupid now, and why Carter was such an abysmal failure. He was simply incapable of doing anything more than lecturing people about how bad things were.

Thanks for proving my point. Not one comment from you on the substance of his proposals. It's all about personality and politics.

If GW Bush had proposed Carter's program, I suspect you would have responded differently to it.

If Carter's proposals had been enacted into law, do you think our nation would be stronger or weaker? Pretend he is GWB if necessary. It's the proposals that matter, not the personalities.

It's not about partisan politics. The people who'll vote against austerity are the political middle. Sure, Carter's policies could have made USA stronger... SFW? You can't do it because you can't get middle america to come along with you. Obama's choice is to give power to the right, and be famous after he is dead, or maintain control and gently attempt to arrest the momentum as the country slides to the right. What would you advise?

Well, considering the utter and abject failure of the "appease the right" approach, for decades, I would advise growing a spine and trying to do the *right* thing.

Obama is failing just as Clinton failed. The right, effectively, *has* the power, because what passes for "liberal" in this one-party system with two right wings is scared silly. The notion that Obama "has control" is simply ludicrous.

The man I saw on television a few hours ago has control of nothing important at all. He's a serial appeaser.

Unfortunately, appeasing the rabid right and the "middle" (read: "abysmally ignorant") on the issue of the unavoidable and relentless permanent energy crunch can only lead to a very ugly place. BAU and baby steps ain't gonna cut it.

It's too late.

"What would you advise?"

Educate the public, using this oil spill as a teaching tool to build support for change in energy policy, to start.

Oh, you misunderstood. Let me rewrite it. Carter's proposals: "It was stupid then." Propsing it now: "It would be stupid now". Ok, I'm assuming you're not confused anymore, or do I need more clarity?

Got it, oldgeezer. And thank you again for proving my point.

You cannot even have a conversation on the primary energy issue facing America with someone who thinks it is "stupid" to pursue alternative energy solutions.

Instead, it becomes an ideological shouting match with junior high name calling and nasty sneers. And huge oil spills.

Carry on.

President Carter didn't know about AGW, so he pushed coal as an alternative to oil for electricity. I'm sure he would have advocated natural gas instead. Ask him. His work keeps him young.

President Carter did good. We, ordinary selfish citizens by and large betrayed him.

Maybe Obama has read that speech, knows the reaction, and has another plan. I hear nothing sensible from others, because they all advocate education for the ineducable.

Katy Couric and Dave Letterman are ranting about conservation and why doesn't the government work, and will THIS disaster be the tipping point in American consciousness.

Plato mentioned that democracy allows the masses to vote themselves privilege until the system breaks, and democracy encourages elected panderers.

You got a solution for that interaction between human nature and democracy?

Plato mentioned that democracy allows the masses to vote themselves privilege until the system breaks, and democracy encourages elected panderers.


OK, Old Geezer. With all your accumulated wisdom and knowledge, what do you propose to do, if anything? Just sit there and grow older? Until you come up with something positive instead of just spewing spittle all over your computer screen, I put you in the category of "Look, Mommy! I'm running around with my pants off."

Right on, ofm. If the dissenters in Bush vs. Gore had resigned, as they should have, we would be in a far better place today.

"Sorry, but I can't imagine any President willing to stand up and tell the US population that their standard of living is not sustainable, that we all need to get used to increasing energy costs and lower supply levels, and nothing can be done to stop it."

Probably not, because anyone willing to say such things out loud would never be permitted to get close to the presidency. Had Obama somehow found the courage to do so (very unlikely considering his record of deference to power and convention), he would almost certainly have been chopped off at the political knees and guaranteed a hostile Congress and a single term in office.

Nevertheless, these perfectly rational and sensible excuses just don't work for me anymore. I demand more than timid incrementalism that never achieves more than one step forward, two back.

I've had it up to my ears with forty-some years of apologists telling me, "It's the best we can do."

That "best" is leading civilization to catastrophic collapse, a collapse that becomes less avoidable every year.

When I watched and listened to Barack Obama, tonight, I didn't see the best we can hope for. I saw and heard the same old feel-good drivel. I saw and heard a compromising (and compromised) coward, a man without the courage to tell the truth, just another politician going along to get along.

It was pathetic. I know I can't expect much more, but I'll be damned if I'll accept it.

This time there will be action. The key point in the speech was that we are spending $1 billion per day importing oil.

The April mechandise trade balance was a deficit of $52.5 billion, and it was $52.4 billion in March. We cannot continue running a $600 billion per year trade deficit for long given the state of international finance. We could for a while, so long as foreign banks and investors would buy mortgages on US housing. But that is over, and the only paper they will take is paper guaranteed by the Federal government.

But that will stop, and oil imports will stop with it.

It doesn't matter when the world will run out of oil, because we will run out of money first.

You could be right, Merrill. Actually, you probably are right, although the time frame is uncertain. After all, when you owe the bank a really huge amount, and have the biggest guns on the planet, negotiations can usually be extended.

What seems certain, to me, is that the present course is more likely to lead to a hard landing than a soft one.

So it goes.

How can anyone not accept it? Are you going to move to another country? that is the only way,IMO of getting to the root of the structural issues which comprise US oil consumption. It is also the best way. My dream is to move to Costa Rica or Vietnam or someplace unruined and that has functional villages.

Why didn`t Obama mention villages? Why doesn`t he set people up in functioning villages? That is the only way out.

I thank you for your comments. Was not moved by the President's speech. I suppose Obama's sustainable energy program fit nicely into his speech. However, unless it is up and ready to implement, we are still and will be a society addicted to and held hostage by oil. I remember all of his (Obama's) campaign rhetoric regarding these very things, yet, still no action. Congress deadlocked (pls correct me here) and BIG OIL is just that...deep pockets, strong lobbyists and frankly no competition. My biggest hope is that BP can, indeed, stop the leak....until then I just pray for our eco-system and the loss of jobs, income,etc., here along the Gulf Coast.

I appreciate this forum. I find all incredibly interesting & enlightening to a novice like myself.

>> That "best" is leading civilization to catastrophic collapse, a collapse that becomes less avoidable every year.

When I read that, I thought "Bingo!". When the political process is as compromised as it is in the USA, scientific illiteracy rampant, a mainstream media driven by advertising dollars and the entertainment value of news rather than the informational content, bundled together with general background buzz of apocalyptic religion, fuzzy American exceptionalism, and a common concrete belief in one's own personal interventionist angel, is it really so hard to believe that what you have witnessed for the last 40 years isn't close to the "best we can do"?

>> I know I can't expect much more, but I'll be damned if I'll accept it.

Agreed. Now, what should we do?

Don't expect any leadership from politicians, kalliergo. Collapse, or something close to it, will have to happen first. Even then, the response will be to get economic growth back on track.

He offers nothing.

The fact is he is running 2 wars of choice-probably for oil, and using up immense amounts of oil to run them.

The US military is the largest oil user in the world, and BP is it's largest supplier. Who works for who?

If you want to address 'our' use of energy, you start with that.

Energy is a global issue. Whatever sacrifices we make to reduce our energy use in the US will be a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to sustain the increasing demands of the rest of the world.

While we can be more efficient, I want my steak, and my zippy car, and my air-conditioning. And so does everyone else. And so *should* everyone else. The whole entire world. Carter's mistake was to think that this should involve sacrifice. I want to do it without. The vast majority of the world's population already sacrifices more than most of us can even conceive of. Why aren't they entitled to their steak, zippy car, and air conditioning too?

Sacrifice is not the answer.

The answer involves changing the means by which we and the rest of the world obtain the energy we need. It seems completely preposterous to think that we couldn't.

Some of that does involve rah-rah America-can-do platitudes. At least that's a better response than calls for sacrifice.

"Some of that does involve rah-rah America-can-do platitudes. At least that's a better response than calls for sacrifice."

I think you are right. If it is seen as a new frontier and a new challenge, with rewards to be reaped, not sacrifices to be made, people will jump on board quicker than they would with Carter's message.

While Carter may have been right, all of his proposals on energy independence were relegated to the dustbin.

While we can be more efficient, I want my steak, and my zippy car, and my air-conditioning. And so does everyone else. And so *should* everyone else. The whole entire world. Carter's mistake was to think that this should involve sacrifice.

I don't have any comment, I'm just drawing attention to this for art's sake.

For art's sake...;)

I think the "I want" brigade will have a rude awakening pretty soon...if they haven't already...

btw : I watched Michael Ruppert's "Collapse" right after the speech. It's very grounding. I didn't find it depressing at all - just a good dose of (mostly) realism and, strangely, quite hopeful.

As I visualise our contemporary Easter Islanders fighting over the last tree...er... "zippy car".

"Sacrifice is not the answer."

Wanna bet?

No...I don't eat steak....feel too sorry for the cows, they have such big beautiful eyes.
No I don't have a car and neither does my husband. Our family of four manages with bicycles and the excellent public transportation system here in Japan. I NEVER EVER want a car. They seem scary. I was in 2 accidents in the US when I lived there and don't want a repeat of those.....In one I could have died (a highway accident) I wasn't driving. The other was minor but it was my fault. Luckily noone was hurt but those two incidents put me off driving forever.

Cars have such a nice friendly mask, but the true face underneath the smiling mask is a face of grinning death; Gulf oil spills, climate change, accidents, consumeritis, affluenza, obesity, diabetes, water pollution. The mask ("see the USA in your Chevrolet!") is slowly coming off before a shocked, horrified public. Can it be that this NICE KIND creature we thought was OUR friend, the car, is really a hideous enemy? Yes.....I am afraid so!

No air-conditioning for me either. You can avoid it if you try. See various websites on ecological living.

Excellent points.

perhaps it is time we were told to do these things and not asked. Political science has always confounded the facts and yet we are washed in it every day. Truth is now subjective.

A benevolent dictator? a new religion?...I do not know but we must get the administration on a new track. A change in life style, expectations, our modern mentality has to be made.

Think back when you looked at Grandma and Grandpa. Cleaning chickens in the back yard, pulling nails out of old wood, straightening them and keeping them in an old can, tilling a garden, canning, baking bread made from scratch, trading a bushel of turnips for a bushel of apples, and seeing the smiles on their faces at the end of the day.

Hello, all,

First post.

I am not a Simmons fan but I do believe that there is currently an underground blowout. Can you critique the following "proof"?

First, assume that there is a leak in the casing at around 1000 ft as reported by WSJ and by Washington Post (it is all sourced: I don't know the original sources). Then

- The pressure at the seafloor is around 2300 psi. That is just the weight of the water above.

- The BOP is at the seafloor but it has a higher pressure - 4400 psi - at it's base because it has restrictions to flow inside. You have to apply more pressure to get the flow out the top.

- the pressure at the casing leak (inside) 1000 ft down is BIGGER than that at the BOP by the weight of the oil in the column between the leak and the BOP. It's an extra 400 psi making the pressure inside the casing, at the leak, around 4800 psi. (note that flow friction will make it even bigger).

- What about outside the casing? The pressure outside is simply the pressure at the seafloor plus the pressure due to the weight of the mud sediments surrounding the casing, which add an extra pressure of around 1000 psi. So the total outside the casing is around 3300 psi.

- we're done: the pressure inside the casing is 4800 psi and the outside pressure is 3300 psi. The fluids press outward with a differential of 1500 psi - a large pressure. The sediments have very little tensile strength because they have not lithified yet. So the leak flows outward and upwards.

Am I off base here? The argument is ridiculously simple - probably already discussed but man, all those posts to go through! Any assistance appreciated - I am happy if you debunk it.


Upwards to...?

You're obviously one step ahead of me.

Upwards to the seafloor. Though at shallow depth I guess it'd move laterally too.

Sounds like you think I'm full if shit and really that's OK. That's why I posted this - to learn something. So If you're going to debunk, debunk away. But please don't waste space with sarcastic little things.

Do you disagree with:
the leak in casing?
the pressure inference
the "upwards"?

Klurker - I wasn't being sarcastic. There easily could be a casing leak. I was with you on outward, but you have to explain upward. It comes out of the casing into a natural formation. There have been blowouts where it has migrated upwards. Santa Barbara was one.

Why do you think the path the Macondo oil would follow is upwards?

I'm sorry.

We've all just had so much craziness that... well, I get impatient, and I found the president's address, tonight, more than a little disappointing (although not surprising).

I didn't mean be sarcastic, either.

Hey, no problem - I get a little gun-shy on the internet.

Actually, I think it would have a big lateral component because we're so shallow. But it's just mud there I guess so wouldn't any migration have a component in the vertical direction and surface somewhere?

BTW: I was also disapointed tonight. I thought this was his chance to declare his moonshot.

On the POTUS tonight...Epic Leadership Fail.I find it profoundly sad as well as disappointing.
He really blew it.I suspect the blow-back will be ferocious.

If the casing is leaking and has been doing so since the blowout, where's the evidence? Shouldn't it have broken through somewhere on the seabed after 50+ days of leaking? If the mud is homogenous, then the least pressure on escaping oil would be directly above the leak, so the oil would be travelling in a more vertical direction than horizontal.

For that matter, wouldn't the area immediately around the casing be the most disrupted and therefore, the least capable of resisting the flow of escaping oil?

The casing may be damaged, but from the evidence we know so far I'm not convinced that there is oil leaking through it. We should be seeing evidence of oil leaking through the seabed if it were.

First and foremost - BP and partners have seismic data on the reservoir(s). This is not a rank wildcat well. The geology is not "sub salt" and the pressure gradients are known from seismic and mudlogging the well. The inside diameter is known from the casing program. The cement could be compromised and leaking up the outside of the casing strings. I sure am happy now that Agip did full cement jobs on all casing. BP cut corners on this well and did not cement enough so a underground blowout is possible. Those long cement jobs were hell but sure make for well integrity. I like how CVX, COP, RDS and XOM said to Congress today "we would not drill this well and if we did we would not drill it like BP..." so much for the brotherhood of API! Wait till the new MMS hires all us retired drilling engineers so we can climb all over the well programs - those $60 million wells will be $100 million in the GOM and the US operators will decamp to Nigeria or Angola - cheaper wells. So, BP knows a lot more than they are saying, remember the Amoco Cadiz. When the tanker lost its rudder control in 1978 in the English Channel, the master was on the phone to Amoco corp. HQ in Chicago since the cargo was going to be lost to a salvage company $$$$$. Amoco hesitated for days, and all was lost. It took the French government 10 years in federal court in the US to prove that Amoco owned the tanker and cargo. BP will do the same - it is corporate secrecy breeding - BP and CIA killed Iran's leader. They will fight till Gabriel blows his horn.. So is this well an underground blowout? I bet the flow is coming up the inside of casing and around the hangers into the BOP and that is going to be hell to kill by the relief well. In Norway (1989) we drilled the first horizontal well with the relief well program and rig ready to go. Love that socialist well designs! I can't wait for my new MMS inspector job to go to offices in Houston and inspect the well programs, line by line, tool by tool, pup joint by pup joint....

You forgot that the casing is of steel and is thick enough that it can hold 1,500 psi. (Which as a point of reference is the sort of pressure you would see in a pressure washer that you can buy in the hardware store, or use at a car wash). And the casing is surrounded by cement, and that too has some strength, though more in compression than tension. But combined they are more than enough to contain even the 10,000 psi internal pressure that might have be exerted on the well when they were running Top Kill.

I showed some pictures of a section through a top of a well in an earlier post .

I've come to expect disappointment from Obama, and today he met my expectations again.

An escrow account? That's supposed to be taking action?

If I were President I'd be saying "BP has proved their incompetence and dishonesty repeatedly since April 20. It's time for them to step aside. They will continue to pay the bills while the US takes over control of the effort to stop the outpouring of oil and more competent hands execute the needed steps."

But hey, that's just me.

I think you may have missed the part that says the 'more competent hands' tend not to be employed in government, because of their payscale. At least for the subsea effort. Cleanup may be a different matter...

I wasn't talking about gummint employees.

Well then pray explain your prior statement:

If I were President I'd be saying "BP has proved their incompetence and dishonesty repeatedly since April 20. It's time for them to step aside. They will continue to pay the bills while the US takes over control of the effort to stop the outpouring of oil and more competent hands execute the needed steps."


Today Rex Tillerson said his company would not have drilled the well the way it was drilled. I think he's being truthful. As usual, the obvious questions ( if this was asked, I did not hear it) were not asked. Would he have done Top Kill or Top Hat the way they were done? I think he would have said yes, and his engineers probably contributed to that effort, and all efforts since it became apparent that the BOP was not going to be actuated in the days immediately after the blowout.

Short of the relief well, there are nothing but primitive, bailing wire-type fixes possible.

In other words, every failure you have witnessed was guided by the best hands. So you know of better hands? Where?

"In other words, every failure you have witnessed was guided by the best hands."

Well, every failed attempt to stem the flow, anyway. As for containment, collection and cleanup, not so much.

THAT, is my understanding as well...

"You're in good hands with BP"

Rex Tillerson didn't offer a suggestion as how to fix this blowout though. I would suspect no one else wants to touch this well, lest they become part of the lawsuits if their efforts fail. The government take over the efforts to kill? They won't touch it either due to the political risk.

No one wants to say it, but no one but BP is going to fix this.

During 1979-1984, MIT and Brown & Root studied Operation Sombrero (Ixtoc). From the MMS website (!):


From the report:

"Test results indicate collection efficiencies of over 90% using the double collector positioned twenty feet above the wellhead."

Operation Sombrero was a gas lift pump. It would work at DW, but this technique was never developed after Ixtoc. Why do you suppose that is? Too expensive, said the oil companies, I am sure, and the regulators fell into line.

I know, Ixtoc was shallow, no hydrates. For the conditions for hydrate formation see:


To enable a Sombrero at DW, two solutions to prevent hydrates appear feasible to me:

1. Heat water with the flared gas and send it down to the leak to heat the flow.

2. Send oxygen down to the leak and create a controlled fire in it to heat the flow. It would require the combustion of only a small fraction of the oil and gas to heat the flow by 40 fahrenheit degrees, which would be enough to prevent hydrate formation at that pressure.

I don't know if a fire could be formed in the flow, but it works for oxy-acetylene torches underwater. No doubt it would take some special nozzles to mix the oxygen and sustain a flame. A continuous electric arc might be required. This research should have been carried out thirty years ago so we would be ready, as everyone agrees we should be, but no one does anything about it. That is regulatory capture at work, and neocon politics.

I still would like to know why BP put a 1" orifice in the cap on Top Hat. It makes no sense, if their intent was to capture the leaking oil and gas. This leads to darker speculations.

"US takes over control of the effort to stop the outpouring of oil and more competent hands execute the needed steps"?

Do you know a group of people within the US government with more experience in deepwater drilling than BP? The only other organisation that even comes within earshot is Total.

The problem here is that even the best guys in the industry are struggling with the technical problems. More competent hands simply don't exist.

What you are suggesting is tantamount to the president walking into Mission Control at Houston halfway through Apollo 13 and asking all the engineers to leave and replacing them with teams of Whitehouse advisors.
I can see it now:- "It's OK guys, you have a highly competent team of contract lawyers operating your life support system now and our competent media relations intern is currently rewriting your trajectory software"

The big problem after this incident is that if a blowout in US waters comes with a $20bn liability. Then who on earth will drill in US waters?

Answer: minnow exploration companies with market caps of circa $500m - $1bn. And if those guys have a blow out in the future they will declare bankruptcy on day 3 and send everyone home. Certainly no CEO responsible for a super major would be stupid enough to take such risks. No super major would ever knowingly risk it's very existence on a single well.

At business school, you can study the cases on Boeing. They bet the company on every commercial airliner and lived on military contracts (cost plus...). While you say no super major (TOT, BP, RDS, XOM) would bet company on a single well, BP did just that. Texaco never recovered from their Alaska well and went down later for other reasons.

Stu: Sooo.. who's gonna pay for the damages from this drilling adventure?

Very good points. As to your last one, it's the best argument for strong and competent regulatory oversight, and why the industry should support it. It protects everyone including the industry...from itself.

If it turns out BP's cost-cutting decisions led to the blow out, as it appears now, the self-regulation/small govt. argument approach will have failed in the Gulf as spectacularly as it did on Wall St., with lots of people wiped out as a result who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Unless they voted neocon.

Is this about self-regulation/small government? Or moreso about government (small or large) oversight failing to fulfill their fundamental duties enforcing existing regulations?

You can put as many laws on the books as you like... but if the existing laws and regulations aren't being enforced, adding new laws and regulations won't make a lick of difference.

Exactly. We need good, sound laws and regulations, backed up by harsh enforcement penalties if the corporations ignore/circumvent the laws. Inspectors need to be motivated and experienced in what they're overseeing as well, and given authority to make decisions on the spot if they see violations taking place. Penalties are needed because inspectors aren't on site 24/7, or everywhere at the same time.

Unfortunately, it would only take one Republican administration to undo every single bit of this reconstruction of the regulatory agencies, and we'd be right back where we started.

"The big problem after this incident is that if a blowout in US waters comes with a $20bn liability. Then who on earth will drill in US waters?"

Maybe a company that has taken every conceivable step to avoid exposing itself to such liability?

I really don't think we, as a society, are going to be interested in limited liability for disasters like this, at least not anytime soon.

"Answer: minnow exploration companies with market caps of circa $500m - $1bn."

Are you interested in buying their stock? Providing venture capital? Selling them insurance? Letting your kids work on their rigs? If you were in charge of the new, improved MMS, would you be eager to hand over the permits?

In any business, the cost of doing business is the most fundamental piece of information you can have. As this well is proving, the cost associated with cataclysmic failure is too high to support the enterprise(s) involved (at the current sales price of their end product). That's where the lesson is to be learned, and the lesson, in this case, is that we shouldn't be allowing any enterprise that can't cope with cost incurred should their operations cause massive damages — regardless of cause — do business. If that means no more drilling in the oceans, then so be it. We'll have to find alternatives — we simply can't afford another episode like this.

Exactly. I think that's what Obama should be telling us. This argument is leverage for carbon tax, and a (more) comprehensive energy bill and is way more compelling to far more folks than what he did tonight. We simply cannot afford to live this way anymore. A Gulf shrimper, or beach shop owner ect should get that. Then engage for assistance directly from the people. Ride sharing, reduced speeds, fewer trips, cycling, support for electrified rail...How can we do our jobs with less energy?

Ask us for our participation in that damn it. Something on the order of..."If you conserve energy now, I can't promise you an absence of disruptive change, but BAU is definitely making it worse (surely this spill proves that) and RE/conservation will allow you less international conflict, a lower balance of trade deficit, and such measures combined with those outlined above will generate more locally based jobs focused on greater energy savings a cleaner, more secure environment and less climate change"

Time to get the adults in the room talking.

Got it in one, xburb.

I try really hard not to say this too often, because it freaks people out so badly (and I do that too often, anyway), but I have to add to your list:

The shapes and distances of our built environments are keys to reducing our insanely wasteful energy consumption. Sprawling suburbs and single-use zoning are killing us.

Yet what is the solution to those "sprawling suburbs"? Force everyone to move into urban areas? Levy a high tax on them to make living 30 miles from work uneconomical? Refuse to expand utility lines into undeveloped areas?

People don't like living elbow to elbow with their neighbors; give them an opportunity to spread out and they'll take it. Yes, automobiles made this possible, along with cheap fuel and a network of highways and roads around every city. But that's just one side of it; the other side is the dislike of congested, urban living that a lot of people have. Higher living costs in urban areas, higher crime levels, noise, crowds, etc, all are parts of the equation that lead to many people looking to move into the suburbs.

How do you change that?

As a guy raised in a rowhome in the city who lives in a different rowhome in a city now, allow me to say that I can't conceive of living in the 'burbs. I actively hate suburbia. I am currently literally less than a 1 minute walk from 4 different corner retail stores, and could not bear having to, say, drive 20 min roundtrip to buy one grocery item. City living is not that horrendous, no lawn to grapple with either.

I didn't say everyone wanted to live away from the crowds and noise of an urban setting, only that a lot of people do.

If we're using personal anecdotes, here's mine. I grew up on a farm and enjoyed the open space, the randomness of the unmanicured fields, the lack of human created noise, the predominance of green, growing things. I live in a subdivision right now, but if I had the chance I'd move outside of suburbia into a farm again in a heartbeat.

Guess everyone's different, right?

Joseph Tainter in a nutshell..........

I wonder how Tainter feels when he sees this spill on the news. He must be satisfied that his research conclusion was correct, but God, what a way to be proven right...........

I'd say he is like a Greek Chorus, giving a prophecy before the tragedy becomes apparent. No one could listen. no one could take any heed, yet his work was out there for anyone. And he published his main book in 1989, for god's sake!! We've known about collapse and energy's role in it for over 20 years, but just ignored it, or coverned it up, or pretended like it was not important.

Stu, you raise an interesting question. That $20bil liability is a show stopper.

Some people think the gov't isn't acting in the best interest of the US in not stopping drilling like this. Do you think Obama and crew are well aware the liability is so high that it in itself will have the same affect as a permanently imposed gov't moratorium (without all the political fighting) on deepwater drilling?

It seems that way to me.


The big problem after this incident is that if a blowout in US waters comes with a $20bn liability. Then who on earth will drill in US waters?

So what's the alternative? More "Privatize the profits, socialize the costs"? If the potential liability is $20 billion, then that's what it is, and it needs to be economically accounted for somehow.

I imagine in the real world the risk will be taken by big insurance companies, leaving medium-cap drillers in the game if they can afford the premiums. If they can't, then, uh, they shouldn't be drilling where the potential liability is so huge.

At least may Obama realize that the US government can't take over control and expect any better result than other government agency. Maybe he thinks of the political blow back that would occur if he had a Bush like FEMA response post government takeover. Is political risk worth the reward, especially when he can just keep demonizing BP?

My mail got lost just last week, our government can't find Osama Bin laden, our leaders don't realize that 13+ trillion dollars of debt is unsustainable and some people want those same resources that did such a good job during Katrina and Rita to take on this task. I don't think so.

I as a Louisiana resident should expect the same US government that ruined the coastal regions of Louisiana with the actions of the Army Corps of Engineers to take control of this. I really don't think so.

As an deepwater oilfield worker I personally know some of the players on the DD-2 and the DD-3 from service companies and they are the best in the business. I have seen these same guys find and plug wells before and they can do it again. I think that BP is paying for the best and letting them work and if they are not then they're crazy. These guys if left to do they're job they will hit the target and they will kill that well. The Federal government could do nothing more than let these same guys do they're job and if they did anything else they too would be crazy.

I think that government could possibly handle the clean up, but not the wellbore intervention. That's as far as I would go and that's a stretch.

What Obama should have done is ban all sales of new cars after one year. Used cars, and new buses, trucks, other vehicles could still be sold and bought. He has got to go to the car market and give it a whopping hit or nothing will change. He can do this, even if he can`t be reelected because of it. People would panic and be scared but changes would happen fast after that. He should do this and sacrifice his second term with courage. Go after the cars, they are the root of the problem.

"What Obama should have done is ban all sales of new cars after one year"

How would our investment in Government Motors ever pay for it self if this was done?

Sure. Then we'd all buy trucks. You don't understand. 300 million us actually do have to travel. If we can't buy cars, then we'll buy trucks. Some people can be sheep. Productive people cannot.

I disagree totally. People would be forced to change and there would be clarity about the future at least. They would work together to help everyone else, knowing that the cars were going to go eventually. A lot of things would change fast. I think there would be tremendous potential for positive action. Someone has to give the car industry the "sorry, but it's time for you to go" speech and wean people off that way of living. It is just a matter of time before it happens via gas shortages. Why not take preemptive action and start a healthy movement for the future and for the earth??? America could lead the way....why not??? Certainly you can't manage without functioning oceans.........indeed noone can. What will you choose, the oceans or you stupid cars???

Choose the oceans. They will not disappoint you.

Seriously, wtf? I'm sticking with "wildbourgman" & "theoldgeezer" on this one.

Remember when Segways were supposed to revolutionize personal transportation? So much for that.

Let's establish another means of effective transportation for folks over long distance before eliminating cars.

That's nonsense. Older vehicles use more fuel and pollute more than newer vehicles. That was the rationale for "cash for clunkers" last year and it made sense, but it didn't go far enough. What should be done is to require no vehicle older than, say, 10 years be allowed on the road, and incentives provided to get them replaced with newer vehicles. Overall fuel efficiency and lower pollution levels would improve, vehicle manufacturing industries would benefit, and older, less safe vehicles would be removed from the road.

So is it better to keep driving my 1999 Camry with almost 200000 miles that still gets over 20 mpg or should it be scrapped and spend the energy and capital to build something newer? If the new car gets 30 mpg, how long do I have to drive it to save the energy required to create it? Or the capital required to buy it?

MMS reform and rig inspections.....been some talk of reorganizing MMS ...i think its a good idea to separate the revenue and regulation dept but as usual the gub'mint failed to address the real issue here.....the quality of inspections run by the MMS and the lack of knowledge .....a rig inspection is only as good as the person conducting it....MMS has some very hard working people ...understaffed and over worked .....but you cannot entice top talent to come work for the MMS cuz it just plain don't pay .....comparable job in the industry pay much much more ....there are IMHO only two ways to sort this out

1- inspections at MMS are sourced to private independent consultants -- get all those experienced folks who are near retirement or recently retired ....i'm sure they will be happy to visit the rigs and look around .....and you can bet the truck these consultants won't be easy to BS.....10 mins on the rig ...a coupla questions from the tool pusher ...a few from the Coman and they will know what to look for and where .....


2- if for some reason the MMS wants to keep inspections in-house.....then raise the pay scales.....why would an experienced guy give up 100K+ to come work for 50K odd + be over worked at the MMS.......the MMS collects a ton load of revenue each year and can easily afford to pay inspectors more.....SEC (securities and exchange commission) is an example.....they realized to have any chance of regulating the markets they needed to have smart people like the markets can command ....so they got an exception form the govt and raised their salaries to match comparable positions in the market or bring is close enough as they could....something like this perhaps where the MMS can raise their pays to attract top talent.......

ON a side note --- Rex Tillerson really let BP have it at the testimony ...clear and blunt answers on a number of topics...good show

MMS rig inspections would have done little to nothing to prevent this disaster. Having a guy find a five gallon soap bucket not stenciled with the contractor or the operators name doesn't stop a blow out. Having an inspector look at BOP test charts when cheating on BOP test is as old as BOP testing is a futile effort. Telling a roustabout to use the hand rails and put on his safety glasses does nothing. Looking to see if a drain pan under a diesel engine is clean doesn't stop you from having to jump off of a burning rig at 22:00 hours. Rig inspectors don't decide how an oilwell is built and that was the main issue with the Horizon debacle.

The problem came from the people in MMS that approve applications for permits to drill, they didn't see the problems with BP's well plan. They also approved waivers and dispensations to that plan that shouldn't have been approved. Government workers except for those that get shot at are usually lazy and or complacent and MMS is no different.

If MMS personel lived on the rig working an even schedule, never going to the same rig in consecutive hitches that would give them more reason to do their fricken job. You can't let them get comfortable by going back to the same rig too often and becoming one of the guys. They would have to be suspicious and basically concerned for their own personal well being, so they would make sure a blowout didn't happen due to something they approved. We need direct MMS supevision on these rigs and I'm not a fan of big government at all, but what we now have is the facade of supervision even after the horizon incident and that is worse than no regulation at all.

The industry is now more self regulatory than the government ever was, but if we want competant MMS supervision this is the way it will have to be implemented. The MMS agent has to have literal "skin in the game".

"Rig inspectors don't decide how an oilwell is built and that was the main issue with the Horizon debacle."

Please review the reports, logs and testimony describing the last, say, 12 hours aboard the DWH and tell us whether or not you think a proactive inspector might have intervened in a way that could have prevented the blowout.

Inspectors, only show up at lunch and then leave, so timing is everything. When they do inspect they check old BOP test charts, they look for oil in drip pans, they check to see if portable buildings power down when the door is left open, they make sure that air hoses don't run through walk ways and maybe check emergency shut down switches on diesel engines, if they're feeling good.

They don't get involved in real issues. When real issues such as the negative test come about, rig crews shut down and wait for them to leave, then they finish the process. The Airlog chopper always leaves in time so they can beat the traffic after their lunch has settled.

They need to live on the rigs, but never the same rigs.

"Inspectors, only show up at lunch and then leave..."

You're thinking of the pre-Macondo world. I asked about "proactive" inspectors, the kind I actually think we're going to get from the *new* MMS, because Obama actually can, and must, reform that organizational pigsty (Rockman, get that inspector pool prepped!).

"They need to live on the rigs, but never the same rigs."

Yep. Absolutely. We agree.

You asked if a proactive inspector would have changed anything on that day. A proactive inspector prior to the BP Horizon found many more buckets that were not stenciled than the other inspectors. I don't think a proactive bucket inspector would have stopped anything. These guys need to have real oil field knowledge and they need to have some real authority.

We had an inspector come out after the Horizon and not much changed.

There are changes in other things related to BOP's and BOP inspections in the recent Notice to the Lessees, but I don't think we will see anything of substance for some time. If the moratorium persist we will loose so many rigs in the Gulf that this won't even be an issue, until oil prices make it worth while. The GOM will be the dead sea again.

While I'm not that comfortable with the idea of privatizing a regulatory function, this approach would definitely go a long way towards allowing for the creation of a competitive payscale for regulators/inspectors (as determined by the contracted organization(s), e.g. ROCKMAN Inc). Contracts could also be structured such that there are additional financial incentives for reporting/uncovering actual violations. This would go some way towards changing the dynamic from being one of government vs. private interests to that of competing commercial entities with the MMS acting as the arbiter between those entities.

EDIT: This should probably be extended to include operations oversight, not just regulation enforcement.

Either one of those funding choices fine with me, aliilaali. Whatever it costs to do it right can either be charged to the operators and passed on or added to the taxes paid at the pump.

One of the few benefits of this mess is that it's making it easier, every day, for me to argue that gasoline is too cheap.

kall -- IMHO regulatory observers are no different than other subcontractors except for a couple of key points. Above all else their presence on the rig is not a matter of choice for the operator. The contract is awarded by the MMS. The only one that run the inspectors off is Rockman. And the only one that can run Rockman Inc. off is the MMS. Their compensation is not decided by the operator. The MMS sets a day rate charge of $X. But the operator pays Rockman Inc directly. Thus gov't pay scales are not an issue. They are not gov't employees. Just like the subcontractors that inspect BOP's. Rockman Inc inspectors don't have to be the best of the best. They are watchers. They don't draft the well plans nor direct daily activities. They just sit, sip their coffee and watch for a screw up. Like a questionable cmt test. Or noting that they aren't keeping track of their mud returns. And Rockman Inc. doesn't issues fines so there's no monetary influence to do so. Real simple: Rockman inspectors doesn't like the safety conditions he shuts down ops until he's satisfied. At a cost of $700,000/day it's a safe bet the operator will jump thru his butt to comply. And a safety shut down is not debatable: to get a drill permit from the MMS the operator agrees to this authority. No agreement...not drill permit.

This is not a theoretical program. This is exactly how I run my drilling ops. I'll shut my own rig down and suffer the costs if it's necessary. It's not a difficult choice: I don't burn down rigs and I don't kill hands. And as I said earlier, I would bet you lunch that if you were to go to any DW rig in the GOM right now you'll find someone like me being an even bigger hard ass on safety issues. And he's probably the operators employee.

Rockman: "probably the operators employee[s]" Who want to return to their homes someday.

Rockman: Let me make sure I'm being clear. I love your proposal. (As an old socialist, I'd rather nationalize it along with the operators, and equalize the pay on both sides of the fence, but I'm also a realist, and I'll be giddy with happiness if a Rockman, or three, makes a ton of money kicking butt to make sure we don't have a DWH repeat performance.)

As I've said, I also expect that you're right about the level of, ummm... safety awareness offshore right now. But I'm not gonna trust it to continue, because I know it might not and the risk is too great. I want a well-paid, independent, ruthless army of Rockman, Inc. inspectors out there, every day, starting as soon as possible and ending when the last drop of crude worth the EROEI is squeezed from the rock.

So, now we are up to 1.5 to 2 million gallons a day pouring into the Gulf. Who knows who or what to believe?

While we boast of nanotechnology, medical breakthroughs with drugs, advanced military and space technology the question in this BP spill focuses on exactly how helpless we are to do anything about it. The president speaks, yet they are just words.

How do we stop a leak in the ocean? If we are this helpless over stopping an oil gusher 5,000 feet down in the ocean (and we are), just how helpless will we be when a hurricane storm surge tosses water and oil miles inland?

How helpless will we be when water supplies are contaminated by millions of gallons of oil and water mixed?

How helpless will we be if a 8.5 magnitude earthquake hits a city with a population of 14 million people collapsing roads and hospitals, smashing dams, power lines down, mobs stampeding to grocery stores to get food and vital needs, thousands of looters raid everything they can get their hands on while National Guard troops remain mostly immobile?

How suddenly all our lives are changed in an instant and how helpless we are in an era when we think we know so much but ironically depend so much on government agencies to marshal the emergency crews and supplies to come to our aid. We are not prepared for much of anything calamitous.

What if you turn on your water tap and nothing comes out? What if something does come out, but instead of water it's oil?

ee cummings wrote:

what if a much of a which of a wind

gives the truth to summer's lie;

bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun

and yanks immortal stars awry?

Blow king to beggar and queen to seem

(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)

-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,

the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays

screaming hills with sleet and snow:

strangles valleys by ropes of things

and stifles forests in white ago?

Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind

(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)

-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,

it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream

bites this universe in two,

peels forever out of his grave

and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?

Blow soon to never and never to twice

(blow life to isn't: blow death to was)

-all nothing's only our hugest home;

the most who die, the more we live.

That's what I'm wondering as well. It seems like much of the conversations, as informative as they are here, are based on posters' beliefs that things can't get any worse, and that safety improvements/technology will help protect us from all that's about to happen. I see a great deal of denial here (not from all, perhaps not even from half), but enough to raise my hackles as friendly as I can keep them under control.

All of our technological advances, and our scurrying brains to fix this thing, cannot hide the fact that we know very little about the whole systems of the earth, as they inter-relate with each other. It's time for all of us to stop insisting that global warming is not for real; that the Arctic ice is not melting at an ever-accelerating rate, that glaciers world-wide aren't disappearing; that floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions aren't increasing in volume and intensity each year. Just look at the last three month's worth of global weather news. Biggest this, worst storm, biggest volcano eruption (stopping half of the flights within northern europe for weeks on end).

What kind of macho hubris makes us think we can just go ahead with the same stuff (with minor adjustments)?

We do NOT control Nature. She controls us. And, as far as I can tell, she's had just about enough of us altogether.

Nowhere in history have we been faced with so many catastropies - be they social, financial, political, or environmental, simultaneously at this kind of magnitude all over the globe.

To think that we can just fix things by adjusting drilling techniques is.....I won't say it.

Thanks for listening. I'm not able to offer any answers, unfortunately. At this point I have to leave it up to mother nature. I think we've gone too far, and stretched out our welcome for too long (unwanted guests that need to be kicked out).

The idea that if we just design better BOPs, have better oversight, more rules, more rule enforcers, is just impotent thinking at this point.

Who knows what mother nature has in store for us from here on. No new technological band aids to a system so corrupt and broken as are the mega-corporations, and, for that matter, our mega-incompetent and corrupt government. Neither of the two will be able to deal with the ever increasing intensity of similar events on the horizon. We've harmed her for too long, and she's not having any more of it.


If the US Supreme Court can give a corporation the status of "personhood", we should give far more rights to our mother planet.We, and all the sustenance we need, come from her, live our lives from materials she provides for us, and end our lives contributing out bodies back to her (either through coffins or ashes). We forget that too often.

HO or Rock or somebody...

I'm still VERY confused about the whole erosion thing, unless, as a previous poster suggested, the channeled cement is acting like a gravel pack.

There was 0 BSW and 0 Sand on the Enterprise's production volume spreadsheet (which, I unfortunately can't find on bp's website again).

What gives???

Hello tollertwins, I am the poster that suggested that the channeled cement job may be acting like a poormans gravel pack.

I am confused on how this well is producing so much without any sand control products and and wellbore stimulation. I would have expected this well to have packed off with formation sand, unless it's being choked back at one or more points in the flow path. The first choke point IMHO would be the failed production casing cement job, the next would be the failed seals at the top of the 9 7/8 casing and then the failed BOP rams. Now if this well is being choked back enough to stop formation sand from stopping or slowing the flow, then why should we expect that this well is producing more than other great deep water wells in the deepwater GOM.

Now I'm not a fan of coincidence, but maybe this is a coincidence that this well is perfectly choked back by mutliple failures in equipment, but also has just enough flow path to allow massive productive ability from a GOM formation. It's just crazy!

toll == you may have noticed that I've avoided the erosion discussion. Sand cut can be a serious problem. And it might have been a factor of some import early on. But a couple of things about erosion. Most important I've never seen a report of any meaningful erosion in vertical csg. Typically where there is a bend in the production tubing close to the well head. There and at the small choke oriface that's in the well head. As noted by many a water jet carrying abrasives can cut steel like a hot knife thru butter. I wouldn't be surprised that part of the BOP was eroded in this manner early on. The lack of sand in the current capture volume says much IMHO. But even if there is an occsional heavy sand cut it's hard to imagine it changing the dynamics at all.

The third line on the graph I included shows (considerably smoothed) the sand production over time, and it does drop off considerably. But it doesn't take much sand in a flow that is running 500+ gpm 24/7 to eat out a hole by 0.15 inches a day, or week - dropping the pressure differential across the BOP and increasing the differential pressure across the formation:well interface. Remember that the wormholes will continue to eat back into the formation over time.

Sorry if I misunderstood when the data on sand content was taken.

There is (was?) a spreadsheet of what is getting separated out at surface on the Enterprise. 0 sand cut, 0 BSW being recorded. Still trying to find the damned thing again.

Does anybody know whether these would show up from the separation capability that the Enterprise has?

It doesn't take much abrasive in a "jet" to cut or erode material.

Typically a 20lb bag of abrasive would be enough for running a 90gal/min cold torch for around half an hour.

Which equates to 0.1% sand content by mass.

The cement might have originally helped hold the sand back (the gravel pack filter concept) but over time as the sand starts to have velocity by the time it reaches the cement it will eat right through the cement with no problem (see pictures referred to in my earlier comment from the earlier post about drillships and the ASJ)

As to why there weren't any in the original log, bear in mind that this was likely taken from the well when it was still full of mud, and the pressure balance was maintaining the integrity of the rock walls of the well. Once the pressure differential appeared, the rock around the well could well start to crush (usually at the top and bottom) starting the sand formation and the channels (which I should have mentioned are often referred to as "wormholes"). Without containment and filtering, over time it just continues to get worse.

So when does the sand content get high enough to plug itself?

Is it possible that this formation in Mississippi Canyon is that different in this reservoir than others that we have produced in these same areas.

Maybe we need a revervoir or production engineer to give an opinion.

I just don't see 60,000 to 120,000 bbls a day oil production in this baby.

The sand content declines with time, so it won't be self-plugging (see the line on the graph that I referred to in the comment above). CHOPS is a practiced technology (Luseland Field in Canada) which has, admittedly, largely been used in heavy oil and low production, but it is the mechanism by which it works, and the fact that it generates higher production with time, as the wormholes eat back into the formation that I wanted to highlight. (I gave a ref to the report in the main post).

Remember that most wells are run with control of the production, CHOPS exemplifies what happens where there sensibly isn't any.

I am new here but not new to the oilfield,land rigs only. With that said,one of my questions pertain to the formations that are below surface,are the formations similar the formations a land rig might find at that depth? The next question pertains to casing.At what depth was last string of casing set? How much open hole is there between bottom of final casing to the last string run? and final question {for now} was this hole a directional well or a vertical drill? Be nice or at least gentle or my therapy bill will have a blowout.

Well configuration here (pdf), from Dept of Energy oil spill data.

This is nice

BP just donated to the so called experts (actually this group has been the beneficiary of Big Oils largess directly and indirectly for years) a cool half billion.

Three Gulf Research Institutions to Receive First Round of $500 Million Funding

Release date: 15 June 2010

BP today announced significant progress in its half-billion dollar pledge to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). Three research institutions in the Gulf region will receive a total of $25 million in fast-track funding for high-priority studies of the distribution, composition and ecological interactions of oil and dispersant.


I would not trust their research until I knew that the results were free of industry influence. I remember A J Rynolds funded a lot of "medical" research that concluded that smoking did no damage.

[Edited for poor proof reading.]

It sounds as if we are stuck with high rates of leakage for another month or more.

It seems that part of the problem is that the oil is being injected deep in the ocean, so we don't know where it is going and what reaches the surface does so chaotically.

How about, instead of attempting high-pressure plumbing, they drop a large diameter, flexible material sleeve over the BOP and large diameter pipe all the way up to the surface. I am thinking of something in the order of three feet in diameter, such as sewage pipes, with neutral buoyancy.

The pipe would reach the surface in a controlled area, and would not be watertight against the seafloor, so it would not be pressurized.

The objective would simply be to guide the plume upwards to facilitate surface capture and processing.

On May 2, I suggested either hacking through the pipe at its base making a clean, even cut flush to the sea floor. Then ships could be rigged with grappling hooks to completely pull the pipe away from the open hole. You would have on board a 20-ton (or heavier) block of concrete, lower it and cover up the hole. Then use the submersibles (ROVs) to shore up the area around the concrete block and make it a permanent seal.

Too simple? Must be since I suggested it over 6 weeks ago. In any case, I haven't seen one solution from oil drilling "experts" that would work.

What part of 'blown casing' don't you understand?

As with most ideas the devil is in the details. Try out your ideas on a small scale. Try putting a small rectangular rock over a garden hose buried in the ground, and seal it with mud and your fingers.

Stick the garden hose in a bucket of water, and see if the flexible tube idea works.

It it easy coming up with ideas. The difficulty is working out the details to make them work or disprove them. I explore new technology for a living. I have found much can be learned from simple experiments. You will get more feed back from this than anywhere else.

Alonso, your idea was mentioned about a week ago, using web belting to make a big tube.

Gearhead, so what was the reply to the big tube idea?

I do agree that the devil is in the details. That said, experts are often subject to group-think, fear of ridicule for straying too far from CW, methodological fixation (thinking inside the box), and so on.

I am from the software industry. I understand that many ideas flounder in practice. But I am not too impressed with oil technologists. This is a century-old industry with a great deal of legacy thinking, and it shows.

You missed my point. Your idea, you see if it works. Search the older threads - I don't recall.

That's an interesting experiment and I appreciate your expertise, however, my intent is to dramatically slow the leak and buy time, keeping the oil leak and spillage at manageable levels. It's not only simple, but it's far cheaper considering the contraption that BP is using but still allowing almost 2 million gallons of oil to gush out.

I understand that the inner diameter of the pipe is 20 inches. Covering that small of an area with a large 20 or 30-ton block of concrete may not completely stop the leak but it would be a trickle compared to the more complex, but highly ineffective method being used now by BP. So, I still don't see the flaw in this approach that you point out -- clearly using a small rock to stem the flow from a garden hose would not only be absurd, but useless.

The difficulty will be getting a decent seal. Assuming it doesn't build up pressure and blow out the well casing. Sealing several 1000 psi is difficult - rubber and soft stuff likes to blow out. My suggestion to try the idea with a garden hose starts to address the problem. Can a brick, for example, be used to seal a garden hose? Riser is 20" diameter. Let's say a garden hose is 1" diameter (end). Then to use your numbers (20 ton weight) 1/ 20 in. squared * 40,000 lb. = 100 lb.

Ok a little heavy to work with. But try a cement block (about 40 lb.) and a sheet of rubber to seal the hose end. IMHO this load it will not seal very well, nor will 100 lb. This will be a scaled problem to what they would have to do 5000 ft underwater.

Try these numbers: 2000 psi (number with the well dead headed would be higher) x pi/4 * 20in diameter ^2 = 314 tons. That is just to keep the lid on, not additional load to compress a seal.

Pipe below the BOP is reported as 36 inch, pressure from the diagram at the top of this thread is 4400 psi. That works out to a 4 million pound block of concrete, more or less. The good news is you don't need to worry about gaskets because the pipe will probably crush under the load.

For that matter, the ROV's now have the capability to just unbolt what is left of that riser from the flange. Why not just bolt on a valve in it's place... and simply turn it off like you would the faucet the garden hose is connected to?

Apparently the concern is that if you shut off the flow at the well it would soon be blowing out the sea floor instead maybe a few hundred feet away.

Good point. If I understand what you are saying the pipe could rupture and cause multiple leaks? The inner diameter is 20 inches but I'm not sure if the outer, if it's 21 inches diameter, is too thin to withstand the pressure?

If that's the case, then a lot of wells out there are going to experience mucho metal fatigue over time and end up a domino effect with one or two wells rupturing every week or so. Surely, BP Deepwater Horizon drillers wouldn't be that stupid -- or would they?

The BOP sleeve?

Not sure what you mean here but it would need to be mechanically preloaded to the BOP to prevent it being blown off due to the internal pressure.

Cutting everything off at sea bed?

Is there a tool that can cut through a 36", 20", 16", 9-7/8" stack up?

Plug it with a concrete slab?

The reservoir is 12ksi and is (17,821-5,067) 12,764 ft below the mud line. Assuming a column of seawater is sitting above it then that's (12ksi - [12,764' * 8.6ppg * 0.052] ) 6,291psi. But we need to compensate for the the water depth so if we subtract from that figure (5,067' * 8.6 * 0.052) 2,266psi then the pressure dif at the mud line would be (6,291psi - 2,266psi) 4,025 psi.

Now if you're going to cut everything off at the mud line (lets assume you have a tool for it), then you have at best a (36" - [2 * 2"]) 32" hole with a cross sectional area of (32" * 32" * pi / 4) 804 insq.

That means the hydrostatic force due to the pressure at the open hole would be 3,237,097 lbf. Your concrete slab would need to be 2,000 metric tonnes just to prevent it being blown off site.

Then what?

You don't exactly have a seal as the seabed isn't flat, and even if it were it certainly wouldn't prevent the migration of 4,025psi of gas and oil. Also you haven't exactly helped visibility or access have you.

I think that with the oil leak increasing, it is the processing this much oil in real time without an ability to control the rate that is the real problem.

I have advocated standard production riser and processing, but this well is now becoming too much for standard production methods. Apparently, there is no tried methodology for multi rig or multi ship production - they are doing it now pretty much for the first time.

They can't process 60 kbd of oil on the surface, or so it seems.

A substantial pressure differential will develop between the inside and the outside of any such riser at some point, probably not very far above the seafloor, because the fluid in the riser is not as dense as the seawater outside. This is how gas lift works. This pressure differental would collapse a flexible riser.

This is about the hundredth time I've seen this idea. It is always presented as the obvious solution by someone who has no background in the industry or fluid mechanics.

This is a terrible idea that would kill many people.

If the pipe you suggest could be constructed, and I would love to see your calculations on vortex induced vibration and your anchorage plan, but if it could be constructed it would lead to the following events: The column within the pipe would begin quickly to discharge water from the top as the oil and gas start to displace it. Liquefied gas at the ocean floor rapidly changes state to a gas as it rises and loses pressure. By the time the well fluid reaches about 2000 feet the gas is expanding rapidly and the column weight and therefore the pressure on the BOP starts reducing quickly as the "gas lift" goes into full effect. The reduction in back pressure on the BOP causes the leak to increase dramatically and increases the stress on the BOP's pressure boundary. As the gas and oil mixture approaches the surface it accelerates to extreme velocities as surface ships are showered with seawater. By the time the gas surfaces it is trvelling at nearly the speed of sound and more than 65 million SCFD roar with an earsplitting 150+ dBA rendering anyone within about 100 yards deaf. It won't matter though because static electricity from the surrounding vessels will ignite the mixture into a fireball that engulfs all of the vessels and kills virtually everybody.

Did you not see the rig burn?

valverx: Please save this for easy reposting. We really need a Wild Well FAQ around here.

Not to be a pita but I think TOD could be putting more discussion/insistence on the status of the Dutch North Sea skimming ships. TOD is clearly the information leader for the BP Blowout.

Insistence here translates into MSM picking up on the importance of getting them into service as quickly as possible.

Which in turn translates into political pressure to get whatever bureaucratic/legal/financial obstacles in the way resolved.

Which in turn results in less oil in marshes/estuarie/beaches.

Which translates into less gloomy news, which after DougR's post the country could really use.

Extra RW's, Trust Funds, etc, are all downstream events. Important, yes but we have oil leaking today and that needs even more attention.

We need those skimmer ships right now. more than we need Trust Funds, or extra RW's. Not instead of, but in addition to.

Could you brief us, please, Old Fisherman?

I've been under the impression that, after an initial delay because of knuckleheaded bureaucratic resistance, the Dutch skimmers had been invited into the operation. No?

It think it's absolutely clear that skimming deserves the very highest priority, now and beyond the day when the well is eventually killed.

What do you think we can/should do?

All I know is what I last heard on the news and what was posted here (apparently by a Dutch company official) and that was the ships were not allowed to deploy because of US law regarding foriegn vessels in US waters.

There was talk about EPA regulations requiring NO discharge of oily water (even if the skimmer removed 99% of the oil it scooped up) but apparently that was resolved.

What do I think we should do? The only thing I can think of, short of organizing some sort of "Write to your Congressman" campaign (which is beyond my resources) is to talk it up on TOD until some credible source (like the Dutch official) posts otherwise. Or CNN or ABC shows videos of the ships actually at work. (Not just reporting they "are here" as was reported on CNN tonight.)

Please note even the President said BP would only be recovering 90% on site when BP gets up to full production (which is still weekks away at 2m+ gpd until then). That still leaves 3 to 6,000 barrels (500k gpd) a day spewing out and needing collection by skimmers or otherwise. And that estimate doesn't cover what may be leaking from outside the well (controverial theory maybe but ...) nor does it cover what will spew unabated if a hurricane comes and forces BP recovery ships to leave for days/weeks.

TOD is clearly monitored by (some) MSM and the only hope is to attract their attention which will get action (Presidential level). Anything else will take weeks/months for action.

I agree that we should be talking about it more--but it is being pressed by a lot of different political actors. However, I think for Obama to accept the help now would look much worse...and that's why it hasn't happened.

The legal part of this is that the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a United States Federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports.

Section 27, also known as the Jones Act, deals with coastal shipping and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

Yes, that's right. Oil is a good, even if it's being sucked up in a big vacuum tube.

During times of national emergency, the President can grant a waiver of the Jones Act.

President Bush (43) waived the Jones act right after Katrina. Obama should as well...however, he has not done so, perhaps because of political pressures from particular groups.


I assumed that Jones Act waivers would be routinely granted in this emergency. I understand which interests are responsible for the Act, but I'm not clear who benefits from refusing to waive it now.

Can you elucidate, Prof?

We are all assuming the "best and the brightest" are doing the right things, kalliergo and that's part of the problem. What anyone who believes the Dutch skimmers should be brought on line as soon as possible should be doing is keep bringing it up here until evidence shows them working.

Like the CNN reporter tonight who said "they are here" and goes on to something more important in his mind because he assumes they are being put to work or are working. All along the chain of command the same assumption is made. "They'e here so they must be working."

But until we have credible evidence (as noted above) we have to assume they are NOT working because the President has not suspended the Jones Act (or whatever is holding the up).

And the only way to break that "assumption" jam is to keep TOD screaming to get them to work.

kalliergo: Prof. touches on a very interesting point. A major criticism facing our President at the moment is a slow, marginally effective government response in facing the spill.

Political fears may now be inhibiting the decision to grant a Jones Act waiver, even though doing so would likely help the overall situation and reduce the amount of oil coming ashore.

Simply put: Short-term fears may be impeding long-term gain.

ON 1 HAND: Granting a waver to the Jones Act at this point may well intensify the criticism.
Can you imagine? "Why wasn't this done weeks ago?!?" or "See?!? The Dutch offered these ships on Day 3! He's just doing this now, on Day _?!?" or "Bush waved the Jones Act asap after Katrina. It took him _ more days than Bush to figure out that's the right move here?!?"

ON THE OTHER HAND: Just saw this quote on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog, hadn't considered this angle others are taking: "Bush waived the Jones Act after Katrina but he wasn't looking to use Katrina as means to push an agenda."

Seems like he's becoming d*mned if he does and d*mned if he doesn't.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of those criticisms, hypothetical or real. It's just a very interesting/frustrating position he's in.

My guess is he won't grant the Jones Act waiver in hopes that BP really will be capturing "90%" of the oil spouting forth in just a few weeks, as they "plan" to do.

That avoids the embarassment of looking as if he should have granted the Jones Act waiver weeks ago, though more oil makes landfall for the time being.

Thanks, PF. I think I understand the *perceived* political motivation: Obama, alleged friend of organized labor, won't (or wouldn't) grant the waiver for fear of antagonizing his union friends.

OTOH, I haven't heard a peep from labor spokespeople opposing a waiver and, frankly, I can't imagine that very many would be willing to risk the bad press they'd get if they did oppose. There sure aren't any American crews, on American vessels, whose jobs would be threatened, anyway.

Besides, Obama hasn't hesitated, so far, to throw supporters under the bus when that suited his purposes.

I just don't get it.

Edit to add:

I found this from one of the regular bloggers on SF Gate:

In an official statement by the Unified Command's Lt. Erik Halvorson, Chief, Joint Information Center of the Unified Area Command said:

"All potential foreign technology solutions are being reviewed for their suitability to meet response requirements. As Admiral Allen said this morning, he will review waivers of the Jones Act if they are requested, but so far no requests have been made. I am not aware of any instance in which needed foreign ships or technology have not been accepted due to the Jones Act. The Jones Act is not preventing us from getting the technology that we need."

Simply put --- Labor unions and the Jones Act plays no role, zero, nada, zilch in the evaluation of clean-up vessels or technologies. To imply that labor unions and the Jones Act could be blocking the use of the world's best technologies is simply false and misleading. It is not true that Obama is colluding with labor unions to prevent the use of any vessel or technology, foreign or domestic.

There are no foreign vessels with advanced skimming and clean-up technologies just sitting around waiting for Jones Act waivers.

Fox News, the Heritage Foundation and Wilson's politicized story do nothing to contribute to any solution needed to help the gulf coast. At best, Wilson's story serves only to drive a political wedge amidst a national tragedy.

There is a time for politics but the truth is for all the time.

ADDENDUM: I followed up on readers' comments and again asked the US Coast Guard to elaborate. Their direct response is again through the Unified Command's Lt. Erik Halvorson, Chief, Joint Information Center of the Unified Area Command and is as follows:

"...I tell you that we have reviewed all international offers of assistance. More specifically, that the Unified Area Command has received 21 offers of assistance from 17 countries and four international organizations. These offers came through the U.S. State Department.

"All offers were reviewed by the Unified Area Command. All qualifying offers were accepted.

"Those offers of international assistance that were not accepted did not meet the operational requirements of the Unified Area Command.

"These offers have not been declined. They may be needed in the future as our response strategies change. We will reconsider them as necessary.

"The Unified Area Command reviews all offers of assistance as the operational situation changes and if an offer meets an operational need, we will pursue acceptance."

Again, according to the USCG, the Jones Act was not a consideration. That said, I am still waiting for the USCG to clarify the story about declining the Dutch offer.

Full article:

So, we still don't know the story on the Dutch skimmers, but USCG says the Jones Act is not an issue.

Let's keep looking...

Thanks, kalliergo! Great find on that SF Gate piece. I agree with you labor doesn't seem to be standing in the way. Be curious to see what the final story is on the skimmers.

What really piques my interest? When the spokesman states, "As Admiral Allen said this morning, he will review waivers of the Jones Act if they are requested, but so far no requests have been made."

No requests have been made? I thought the Dutch offered use of their skimmers on Day 3? Odd.

This from the SF Examiner:

US Reconsiders Dutch Offer

The U.S. Government has apparently reconsidered a Dutch offer to supply 4 oil skimmers. These are large arms that are attached to oil tankers that pump oil and water from the surface of the ocean into the tanker. Water pumped into the tanker will settle to the bottom of the tanker and is then pumped back into the ocean to make room for more oil. Each system will collect 5,000 tons of oil each day.

One ton of oil is about 7.3 barrels. 5,000 tons per day is 36,500 barrels per day. 4 skimmers have a capacity of 146,000 barrels per day. That is much greater than the high end estimate of the leak. The skimmers work best in calm water, which is the usual condition this time of year in the gulf.

These systems were developed by the Dutch as a safety system in case of oil spills from either wells or tankers. The Dutch have off shore oil development and also import oil in tankers. Their economy, just like ours, runs on oil. They understand that the production and use of oil has dangers and they wanted to be ready to cope with problems like spills. The Dutch system has been used successfully in Europe.

The Dutch offered to fly their skimmer arm systems to the Gulf 3 days after the oil spill started. The offer was apparently turned down because EPA regulations do not allow water with oil to be pumped back into the ocean. If all the oily water was retained in the tanker, the capacity of the system would be greatly diminished because most of what is pumped into the tanker is sea water.

As of June 8th, BP reported that they have collected 64,650 barrels of oil in the Gulf. That is only a fraction of the amount of oil spilled from the well. That is less than one day’s rated capacity of the Dutch oil skimmers.

Turning down the Dutch skimmers just shows a total lack of leadership in the oil spill. To just leave the oil in the water because regulations do not allow you to pump slightly polluted oil back into the ocean is just plain stupid. The small amount of oil pumped back into the ocean with the Dutch system is tiny droplets of suspended oil that will be quickly broken down by naturally occurring bacteria.

Using the Dutch skimmers should have prevented most of the oil from ever getting even close to shore. The Dutch skimmers work best close to the source of the spill where the oil is more concentrated. Outside of that circle, dispersants could be used. Additional smaller skimmers could be used closer to shore to pick up patches that might get through the first 2 rings. The less oil that reaches shore, the less there is to clean up. The less oil that reaches shore, the faster the environment will restored by natural cleaning processes.

Having technology like the Dutch skimmers should also allow us to feel more comfortable about allowing deepwater drilling. If the skimmers work then it greatly lowers the environmental risks from future oil leaks in deep water. One advantage to deepwater wells is they are typically very far from shore, giving a long response time to clean up the problem. There would be no need to have a moratorium on deepwater drilling and having 50,000 people loose their jobs.

This incident with the skimmers just shows the lack of leadership by the President and other government officials. Most people, certainly the local residents, recognized that the government systems to deal with the oil spill were inadequate. It took over 6 weeks for the government to allow the state of Louisiana to build sand berms to protect the marshes, after oil has already entered the marshes. Decisions need to be made, often without full information and sometimes conflicting rules and regulations. The oil well did not stop spilling oil as the government tried to study the problems and make recommendations. There was no one with the authority to make the fast decisions necessary to combat the spill.

I really appreciate everyone's comments. Some of you have asked for references 'Source Documents' to the efforts of the Dutch to help us. Here are some with the first one being the most relevant:

Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Christian Science Monitor

Seattle Times


And, finally, this:

Dutch Skimmers Now Working in Gulf

Tankers with skimmer arms supplied by the Dutch are now working in the Gulf. Each of these skimmers has the capacity to collect up to 5,000 tons of oil per day. That is 36,500 barrels of oil per day for each skimmer. That’s about equals the newly revised high estimate of how much oil is leaking from the well.

On June 14th 2010, BP reported that “Operations to skim oil from the surface of the water now have recovered, in total, almost 475,000 barrels (19.9 million gallons) of oily liquid”. That is only a small fraction of the oil being leaked. These new skimmers should dramatically increase that amount.

I hope that these new skimmers will be able to collect all of the oil leaking from the well. If they are successful, they will be able to stop injecting dispersants into the oil leak at the source as it will be better for all the oil to rise to the surface where it can be collected.


Nice work, finding all this, thanks.

From the Washington Post, June 14:

"The government is soliciting additional boom and skimmers from nearly two dozen countries and international organizations worldwide.

In late May, the administration accepted Mexico's offer of two skimmers and 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and eight skimming systems offered by Norway."

Floating out in Googlespace are various quotes of Thad Allen saying the Jones Act doesn't necessarily apply, and they will waive it as needed.

I don't know what exactly the two gauges they placed on the top hat are measuring, but the readings have dropped to the point one of them is now indicating a negative pressure.

They were put there before the speech, to measure Obama's approval ratings.

LOL! In that case they seem to be working flawlessly! ;-)

I have been out of work due to the spill for a month. Tomorrow, I am going to the unemployment office to try to get an oil cleanup job. I am not worried about health risks. I am getting older and it is all going to hell anyhow. Have you tried to wear a respirator in 100 degree weather at 95% humidity? Heat stroke kills too. I am breathing now and I have been around the stuff all day. I am not trying to say there is no risk, but homelessness and malnutrition has risks of its own. If the PPM is low enough not to have to do a general evacuation I'll risk it. I count on the old folks and poor breathers as canaries in my town. I'll just add raw petroleum to the list. DDT, depleted uranium, army shots, Gulf War, crazy women, Chlordane, dioxin, chlorine gas, etc. My dad treated his gout with WD40 for years. Maybe that is why my brother is an orthopedic surgeon.
BTW I have three college degrees, no record, work hard, army vet, and little prospects.

TinFoilHatGuy, I'm sorry to hear about your plight and I hope to not be standing in that line myself, but I'm certain it's very possible.

The good news is that around 5 billion of exploration and development drilling budgets in the deepwater GOM will be spent somewhere. Service companies from Houston to Houma are sending their best and brightest to land drilling areas in North America that have been needing this experience base for years. There will also be overseas opportunities for those with certain skill sets. I hope you can find something once those jobs to become available.

It is ready. I knew I had seen the Admiral before, but he was just a Captain. Apparently, he got promoted after he left TV. Please forgive me for dissing Bob Keeshan, he is a childhood hero.

Yes, I know I misspelled Captain, I fixed it but it will not reload the corrected version. It is corrected in my bucket.
From my photobucket - http://s892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/tinfoilhatguy/BP%20is%20the%20d...

TFHG, I have your Tony Hayward cartoon up on the wall. It is a work of genius, let's have some more.

My old great-uncle Bert (b. 1882) would go to the doctor, get a prescription, go the the drugstore to fill it, come home and pour it down the toilet.

Did you see my Obama the Oil Gladiator? Admiral Thud Allen is my project for tomorrow.

Thud Allen! Outstanding!

Good luck, TFHG. Living in a system that could leave someone like you, lots of someones—like you and like all of us, scrambling for prospects just makes me mad as hell.


Good luck, TinFoilHatGuy! Glad to see a bit of levity in the midst of an otherwise dour situation.

It is ready. My unemployed, oil spill, self, worked on this for a little while. This is mental therapy I cannot afford otherwise. My contribution to the political situation that I find myself in. Folks in the spill area have lost total confidence in the Coast Guard. Most folks around here want Thud Allen replaced immediately. Leading candidates for his replacement are Gen. Colin Powell and Gen. Russel Honore'. I always wondered what happened to the Captain after TV. Sorry Bob Keeshan, you were one of my childhood heroes.

If it makes you feel any better, which I'm sure it won't, but here goes anyway....I was in software consulting for 15 years until the year 2000, when pretty much the whole industry serving the manufacturing sector crashed, and my job (and many others) along with it.

I guess mostly due to outsourcing of the jobs being cheaper than implementing new technology to improve efficiency. And the offshoring of manufacturing.

So all you can do is move on and do something else. Often, the "something else" ends up being more rewarding that you ever would have thought.

While collecting unemployment, time for some soul-searching to re-envision yourself.

With a slurry coming out of the well, wouldn't a precipitation of grit be expected under the containment cap? The oil is being directed downward before it turns toward the surface so heavier sand/rock material would tend to fall to the bottom, no? All ROV video I've seen shows clear water under the oil.

I have not see any indication that there is sand mixed with the oil.

Most of the flow is going out of the BOP and into the DP that attaches the cap to the LMRP and then into the riser and up to the surface. We just don't know the current definition of "most." At the speeds the fluid is moving at the sand is generally retained in the flow by the speed.

Incidentally I should have mentioned earlier that very shallow angles of impact (such as at lower velocity as the oil flows up the well in either the casing or the DP) do relatively little damage, it is only when the oil speeds up to get through a narrower passage that the erosion becomes a problem.. thus the narrower the passage, and the higher the pressure upstream to get through the gap, then the faster the gap increases in size, and the pressure drops.

In this case "most" means 26%-45%. Just a little different than most folks definition of "most".

Who is to say what meaning of the word is right?

Or, to put it another way, perhaps 15-17 thousand barrels of oil per day and 30 million cubic feet of gas is being collected; while between 18 thousand and 45 thousand barrels per day, along with 36 million to 90 million cubic feet of gas, continues to gush into the Gulf.

If the latest FRTG numbers are correct, of course.

Whatever one's definition of "most" might be, way too much O/G is flooding into the Gulf.


Thanks for the erosion analysis.

What if all or most of the erosion occurred during Top Kill? The flow rate estimates before Top Kill were in the 25-35 Kbpd.

BTW, how did you estimate the "effective" diameter of the BOP? Just Bernoulli's equation? Did you use a "coefficient of discharge"? My theoretical calculations show smaller values for the effective diameter, but in the same ballpark. An increase from 30 Kbpd to 60 Kbpd could have come from an increase of 0.15" of the "effective" opening.

"... then into the riser and up to the surface."

If you are right then the people at the "top" should be able to tell us about how much sand that they have collected.


Bedtime thought:

"Hope is not a plan." — Military saying

Apparently, I should put my tinfoilhat back on. Tonight on BBC, Dr. Who episode, The Hungry Earth, about how drilling destroys an English village is airing. I know it is just a show, but drilling? I pray it was shot pre-4/20.

The post Obama speech BBC website headline.

Is the BBC still unhappy about 1815?

I'm terribly confuzzled by something... so I thought my friends at TOD might shed some light.

1. Joe Johns of CNN just did a piece on BP's Atlantis rig for Anderson Cooper 360.
2. His piece essentially reflects this 5/19/10 Reuters article (at http://bit.ly/cQhBFH) which states, "According to a database Abbott compiled while on contract with BP, more than 90 percent of the engineering documents and drawings for Atlantis' subsea components had not been approved by an engineer as required by regulations, Grijalva said."

THIS BEGS THE QUESTION: Aren't operations on the BP Atlantis rig supposed to be halted as a result of the President's 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling?

I have found nothing explaining this or detailing an exemption granted for the Atlantis. Any clarificaton would be greatly appreciated.

Have a great rest of the night!

Only a quick answer since it's late. It's my understanding that the moratorium is for new wells to be drilled, and only in deep water (though I've heard they aren't giving out permits for shallow water either, effectively extending the moratorium to shallow water drilling as well). Existing wells in shallow and deep water continue to pump oil, otherwise I think you'd see at least $1+ jump in gas prices at the pump in a week if not less.

Thank you, anon3803! That absolutely makes sense. I'll try to find out more, but for the time being I really appreciate it!

THIS BEGS THE QUESTION: Aren't operations on the BP Atlantis rig supposed to be halted as a result of the President's 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling?

It is my understanding that production platforms would be allowed to continue, it is the deepwater drilling operations that have been suspended.

1 - BP Atlantis is a production system, not a drilling rig so it is not under the moratorium.

2 - I don't think the MMS gave a percentage of the papers onboard the Atlantis that were out of date or unsigned. BP's own internal investigation said about 85% of the papers were non-compliant.

The MMS requirement is that all the manuals and drawings have to have a signed hard copy of the most recent revision onboard.

I read somewhere else (Rigzone?) that the networked version of the drawings and manuals were up to date and available to all the appropriate people on board. All the majors use networked computers for manuals and drawings as the most recent revision is immediately available to any office or department onboard the facility or onshore without having to try to track the document down when you need it and find the last user didn't file it back in the proper place, it is outdated, covered with coffee spills, etc. And if you need a portion in hard copy you just print it and throw it away later so it won't be an outdated version when someone needs it in the future.

I think this may be more a case of the regulations not keeping up with technology than an error with major safety implications.

That does not excuse BP from not keeping the required documents in the unused file cabinet as per regulations. And it does not explain why they did not have the proper documentations of the BOP modifications on the DWH which cost them a day of ROV time early in the incident. That sort of problem is exactly what a networked document system is supposed to prevent.

Matt Simmons Revises Leak Estimate To 120,000 Barrels Per Day, Believes Oil Covers 40% Of Gulf Beneath The Surface

Matt Simmons was on Bloomberg earlier, adding some additional perspective to his original appearance on the station, in which he initially endorsed the nuclear option as the only viable way to resolve the oil spill. Simmons refutes even the latest oil spill estimate of 45,000-60,000 barrels per day, and in quoting research
by the Thomas Jefferson research vessel which was compiled late on Sunday, quantifies the leak at 120,000 bpd. What is scarier is that according to the Jefferson the oil lake underneath the surface of the water could be covering up to 40% of the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Simmons is reporting the Jefferson found this "lake" was 300 to 400 meters thick.

Let's see:

The Gulf of Mexico has an area of about 1.6 million square kilometers. Let's say half of that is deep enough to be "the Gulf" in terms of Matt's assertion: 800,000 km^2

40% of that is 320,000 km^2 (320 billion square meters-thousand million for Brits and others)

Multiply by the depth you accept (300, 400, whatever) to get the volume of the lake in cubic meters.

There are about 6.3 barrels of oil per cubic meter.

The good news is that the EPA fines will be so large that we'll be able to repeal the income tax.

If the lake of oil is 100 meters deep this pencils out to 200 trillion barrels.

Forget about the fines. Stick a straw into it and it'll run the whole planet for centuries.

At 133 meters deep it's a bit more than the total proven reserves of Saudi Arabia.

kal: Oh, goody. I read somewhere that the income tax was illegal, immoral and fattening anyway.

As I understand the Matt Simmons position from various sources and a poor memory.

The site he is talking about is 7 miles from the site we see being relayed by BP. The flow rates of what we see is not the flow rates of the site 7 miles away.

Why the distance. BP screwed up previously, lost the tools and then did another try off the same operation. This second try/offset? is what we see provided by BP.

The theory is that the original try fractured and is allowing a flow of oil through a old fault. It is of a heavy consistency.

To get possible oil flow, Add 60k to 120K.

My problem. If this is true and I do not consider Matt a nutcase at all, why it is not part of conversation by the administration/BP. Or is this such a calamity that it is best swept out of the press.

Some have expressed the thought that a bomb is not a good answer in this particular formation. IE the Gulf would be dead meat. Then the Atlantic.

The other calamity listed is the dispersion agent. Not just the chemical part but that dispersion spreads out the damage, multiplying the pain.

A fine comment. But not for here.

The other calamity listed is the dispersion agent. Not just the chemical part but that dispersion spreads out the damage, multiplying the pain.

You've read this site? You've heard the fractionation explanation? You've heard the dispersant pros and cons? You realize that dispersed oil doesn't foul the marshes? You've calculated the volume of water in 400' of 40% of the GoM? You realize the HC in the plumes is average .5 ppm?

You can spread the pain until it doesn't hurt anymore.

You can have such an open mind the bats fly in.

Reality bites, but fantasy has rabies.

Wan't really talking marshes, but other factors, oxygen, sea floor life, and other things I know little about. It's like cigs or some weed killers that were safe. One gets wary of big money versus science. Peak oil, global warming seem to be the latest victims of $science.

Q4000 Apparently Operational

Haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else yet, but according to McClatchy News Service (story at: http://bit.ly/by14DJ), "On Tuesday, a second vessel, the Q4000, with a capacity of 5,000 to 10,000 barrels a day, began capturing and burning oil..."

Doesn't appear to be much difference at the top cap; I really hoped there would be. Maybe they aren't pumping to the Enterprise until they get the Q4000 quickly ramped up so that they don't draw in water in the top cap?

Videos Of Oil Leaking Thru Cracks In The Sea Floor


I see what looks like a crack, but what's cracked? The sea floor? Some Macondo wreckage? How much of what's coming out is oil? I do see what's probably silt being blown around.

I did notice the tags for the video: "GMS Hebrew Israelite EsauDownfall". Looks like the heavy breathers think they have a video agitprop piece.

The new theory at work here is that oil leaks always follow the path of most resistance. That's why it has bypassed the mud and silt and sand and muck, and instead come out of solid rock. And despite the fact the oil was able to fracture the rock, it now only comes out in little wafting wisps. To even top all of that, it found the only rock on the seafloor within a radius of at least 50 miles. It's like the opposite of Occam's Razor.

HO, thanks for the interesting information.

The reference claims that in test 1 they pumped heavy mud at a rate of 53 bpm, in the top kill effort, 76,320 bpd. The graphic shows there is substantial resistance and pressure drop through the bottom three rams.

It looks to me that if they produced a high flow of oil through the choke line, just below the lower annular, they could reduce the pressure in the top of the BOP to ambient sea water pressure, eliminating the leakage into the ocean. There may be some reverse flow of sea water into the BOP, but as long as the discharge temperature remains above the limit for formation of clathrates, it would not be a problem.

By recovering the oil through a large diameter riser with low resistance to flow, the pressure at the bottom of the riser could be several hundred psi lower than ambient sea water pressure.

They could take advantage of the low flow to dismantle the flange and install a new valve and riser on top of the BOP. What do you think?

I sure hope that Matt Simmons is right in his assertions otherwise nobody will ever listen to him again, which would be sad.

Err ... oh ... I hope Matt Simmons is wrong in his assertions otherwise we are in deep trouble.

Aw, heck.

Too early to cry wolf but the projected path of this depression is pointing towards the northern GOM:

Weather Underground

At least right now, National Hurricane Center is forecasting 10% chance of tropical cyclone formation:

Think good thoughts.

My apologies if this has been addressed before, but a simple question:

Why isn't it possible to thread a much smaller diameter pipe very far down into the main well (perhaps to near the very bottom) and then pump mud into that? The mud would flow upward at first, but wouldn't there eventually be enough extra weight to counteract the flow?

This late at night you get a quick and dirty non-expert reply. Can't thread it through the partially closed blowout preventer, and there may be obstructions like bent drill pipe in the hole. Not a bad idea though.

Thanks. I suspected the two main problems would be (1) getting it past the BOP, and (2) vibrations and instabilities induced by the flow going past the inner pipe. It hadn't occurred to me there might be additional obstructions once you got into the well itself.

If (2) is the real problem, I can see plausible solutions but it quickly becomes a lot more complicated...

A clear run into the bore could indeed be useful.

All sorts of (small!) gadgets could be injected into the flow.

Think 'pig' (the pipe inspection type!) and then reduce the size by a factor of 50.

However ... as noted above, the BOP area is probably a right mess, so such options are very unlikely to be possible.

Basically that is what they did with the Top Kill through the choke and kill lines (both about 3 inch ID). They were able to overcome the flow of oil and gas but for some reason they didn't seem to be able to get past about 1,000 feet down the well.

No technical explanation about what BP considers the problem but they have been treating the whole BOP stack, wellhead and casing with kid gloves ever since and several knowledgeable posters on TOD have had dark discussions about casing collapse, underground blowouts, etc.

I'm confused. I thought the injection from was above the BOP. Did they actually get a pipe 1000 feet down it?

The choke and kill lines have a number of valves allowing them access to different points in the BOP. In this case they were used to inject the mud underneath all the BOP rams directly into the well.

As I said they did not give any technical details so we don't know where the 1,000 foot data came from or how BP came to the conclusion that there might be a problem at that depth below the BOP.

No. You are not confused. I think Shelburn didn't grasp what you had suggested. As to why one can't put a small pipe down a blown out well to do a bottom kill, the experts can probably tell you tomorrow. Must not be practical in general, or relief wells would not be the standard practice,

No, the mud was able to overcome the oil flow and they got 1000 feet worth of mud column into the well but no deeper than that. They need a much deeper mud column that with its weight will counteract the oil flow pressure and kill the flow. That is what I think he meant, anyway.

A fly-around of the Enterprise two hours after yesterday's lightning strike shows the traffic jam in the City of Ships. Yowzers.


So far an accurate estimate of oil flow has been impeded by BP withholding info. Other experts noticed a dramatic increase in oil flow following several of the failed attempts to contain the oil. So to make the claim that erosion from sand is the primary cause of the increased oil is just an unproven theory. What we do know is the amount has been downplayed at each step of the way.

Two months later and we still don't have ships ready to load the oil.

This is a joke.

Re. Matt Simmons.

I'm confused. Matt Simmons seems to be certain there's a second leak. As time goes by, he seems to be more, not less adamant about it. Most of the responses I see here are to the effect that he's wrong (to be polite) or losing his grip, a bit flaky, etc. (to be less so).

Has anybody on TOD actually taken his assertion seriously and given it the sort of response and analysis for which this site is justly respected? I mean has anyone carried out a technical appraisal of the "second leak" hypothesis?

The reason I ask is that Matt Simmons is going to look rather foolish if he's totally wrong, but Jimmy-Carter-like if he turns out to be right. He'll say, "I told you so, but nobody took me seriously, not even TOD."

Probably a bit late in the thread to post this, but I'd really appreciate it if someone picked this up and carried it over if necessary. Many thanks.

BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Matt Simmons on Dylan Ratigan Today, Closing the Relief Ports, and Open Thread 2


Thanks for that, beagle. If I may say so without offending anybody, I still think there's more heat than light around the Simmons claim. Still not sure how many people are taking him seriously.

Maybe, but what he says does not make sense at all. He says that the casing has blown out and the wellhead is 7 miles away. Has he not seen the live video from the ROVs cameras clearly showing the BOP firmly attached to the wellhead, gushing oil and gas?

He also has short positions in bp so in a sense he is talking down his own book.


If Matt has short positions, he ought to detail the evidence for his claims. He is on a slippery slope here.

I am new to TOD but have been lurking here for a while. Thank you all so much for the info presented which gives us the ability to form our own picture. I wanted to comment on what Matt Simmons has said. I would like to first say that i do put stock into his ideas, Michael Ruppert seems to think he is on track also. I belive what he is saying about the casing is in reference to the failed hole miles away. I think the assumption is that BP did not close and seal the well properly and when the pressure spiked it blew out. This is all speculation but seems to be possible....thank you all again..

I've just posted the following comment above, but I'll repeat it here:

Have any of the editors on TOD thought of interviewing Simmons? It's not as if he is terribly inaccessible. Of course, the editors here could ask much more pointed questions than have been asked thus far by Bloomberg, Ratigan, and others.

Interviewing Matt would either put the whole thing to rest, or blow the lid off yet another instance of BP obfuscation.

Someone who responded to my suggestion for an interview (above) said that TOD is under no obligation to interview Simmons. Of course it's not. But that's just the sort of thing that cutting-edge media do.

Simmons needs some quantitative theory to back his assertions up. he has always relied on insider information, and that backfires if his insiders feed him bad info.

Pretty picture, but prolly not what they had in mind when naming their town "Orange Beach."


If a well is producing 100,000 barrels of material per day, do I need to pump 100,000 barrels per day of mud into the bottom of it in order to get it to stop and not just blow the mud out the top? Also, if the mud or concrete is of higher density than the oil, what prevents it from falling into the reservoir instead of sitting still?

I can see how these techniques would work on a well you have under your control since you’d have some control over flow rates and such but a bottom kill on a well that is not under anyone’s control with high flow rates and with the potential to sand blast incomplete barriers and god only knows what all this has done to the bottom of the casing, seems difficult at best.

It's all about weight, not volume. The force the mud exerts on the oil and gas comes from gravity. If it's being pumped, some of the pressure may also come from the pump. When the pressures balance, the oil stops moving. Of course, the weight of the mud will depend in part on how much of it is in the column.

As far as why the oil and gas do not permeate the mud and work their way up, I'm not sure but I think it has to do with the porosity of the material. Perhaps this is why clay (not very porous) is a major component of drilling mud. The experts here (I'm not one) will correct me.

If you're asking about the bottom kill, I think what is supposed to happen is that even though the mud will be pumped in from the bottom, a column of it will accumulate up higher in the existing well in an effort to get the oil to stop flowing so the cement can be pumped in and left to set. It's a tricky procedure, according to the experts here.

You can ask the same question about why the oil stays in the reservoir inside the earth, beneath the denser rock, in the first place. Well, sometimes it doesn't. Depends upon porosity, I think.

No viper. To stop the flow they need to cause enough back pressure from the mud to exceed the reservoir pressure (about 12,000 psi). Given there is only 13,000' of csg that can be filled it would take about 16.2 ppg mud weight to do this. But the rate at which they inject the kil pill is important. As the kill pill moves up the csg it will be diluted with the oil/NG and thus reducing it's bottom hole pressure. So they'll have to pump pretty fast. The csg volume is only around 1,200 bbls so it's not much compared to the oil/ volume. But given the dilution factor they may have to pump many times that 1,200 bbls to kill the well.

Just out:



 BP announced today that oil and gas is flowing through a  second containment
system attached to the Deepwater Horizon rig's failed blow out preventer

This second system supplements the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap
containment system, which remains in operation.  The new system is connected
directly to the BOP and carries oil and gas through a manifold and hoses to
the Q4000 vessel on the surface. The Q4000 uses a specialised clean-burning
system to flare oil and gas captured by this second system.

Oil and gas collected from the BOP reached the Q4000 at approximately 1:00 am
CDT (7.00 am BST) on June 16. Operations continue to stabilise and optimise
the performance of the second containment system.

Information on the volume of oil collected and gas flared by the LMRP cap
containment system is being updated twice daily on BP's website, www.bp.com.
When measurements are available for volumes of oil and gas being flared by the
Q4000, this information will be added to the updates on BP's website.

Neither the new capture system nor the LMRP containment cap system has ever
before been deployed at these depths and conditions, and their efficiency and
ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured.