BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Why the Flow Rates are Increasing and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed for comments. Please comment on thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6612.

Tonight [Now, last night] 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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Q4000 is now on-line according to BP. I am very curious to see what BP says they are recovering through Q4000 and the video from the leak....

The spillcams don't seem to show improvement....

Who knows they might have slowed collection efforts to test the system..

No data regarding oil collection amount for June 15th on BP's site.

Here's the update on BP's website, was posted earlier this morning.


You make a grand argument for why/how flow rates can increase. In general you are correct, but in this case, how do you know the flow rates have increased and by how much? There is very poor flow data (dead reconing) from the early phases of the spill, but unfortunately no hard data to which you can make comparisons with any confidence.

At a certain point (that point being irreversible damage to the marine and terrestrial wildlife and ecosystems), determining the actual flow rate becomes an exercise in pointlessness. A million gallons per day vs. two million gallons? Unless the flow rate somehow negatively impacts the attempts to close the well (and if that's the case, accurately determining flow rate should be priority 1), it's better for all if we settle on the amount being simply unacceptable. Of course, there has been talk of billing BP on a per gallon or per barrel basis, but that formula for determining damages is also unacceptable, for the reasons cited, above.

Two things: The faster the flow, the more urgent to get the relief wells in place.

Second, it is instructive in the larger scheme of things. Where HO shows that graph with the peak and then decline is illustrative of Peak Oil in general. Accelerating extraction of oil by humans is followed by a more severe downturn in the tail. We can either let nature do this via erosion or we can do it to ourselves.

BTW, I have a "theoretical" plot of how the curve comes about further downthread.

Here's an enlightened discussion of how to stop the leak:


Refute that, all you TOD elitists.

[Note: This program is the highest rated "news" program on cable news.]

I'm not a TOD elitist but from the clip

"...I tend to think of making fun of Sarah Palin as pretty old hat. I mean, she has to say something pretty silly at this point to make me take notice. But last night she went on O'Reilly to rail on the president for not getting the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico stopped. And when pressed on just how he was supposed to do that by all of people Bill O'Reilly, Palin said Obama had really blown it by not reaching out to the Dutch since they proved themselves so good at building dykes and sluices and dams to reclaim land from the sea. Which when you think about it is pretty much the same thing as capping an oil gusher a mile underwater..."

Yes, pretty much the same thing, almost identical, close enough - apart for several small facts but i don't suppose they get in the way for Palin. Maybe she should jump up and down and shout really loud, or click her heels together or kick some ass.... I'll bet that senator (?) guy who was worried about Guam tipping over also has some good ideas.

She is probably thinking along the lines of sticking a finger in the dike.
Hey, she's going to be your next president, no?


I heard SP speak on O'Reilly and she made valid points. The Dutch have offered their advanced skimmer technology but have been rebuffed.

That's not true. The Dutch skimmers are in operation as I type. Review last night's thread.

Hammer: And we accepted the offers from foreign governments some time ago. And the foreign skimmer technology is on the way if not here now. (See elsewhere in today's comments on TOD.) She is complaining that we have not responded at all to foreign offers of assistance from the Dutch and the Norwegians. That assertion is false. Repeat false. And that assertion is her main point in the interview. BTW, she does state that the Dutch experience in dikes is a reason that we should listen to them. Huh?

She brought up the Dutch in reference to a question on what more obama could do to stop the leak since no one knows how to stop the leak. Does she know how to stop the leak, she was aksed:

Take a look.


The Dutch skimmers should have been here right away. They are here now, but the delay was inexcusable. But the problem is not that obama is incompetent or refused to return a telephone call, its because we had no plan in place to deal with this spill, period. Nearly everything has been done ad hoc, so it seems. Even after Ixtoc, no one bothered to think, what if....or do anything about it. Industry has to take a share of that blame. So does the lax govt. regulation.

Hi Syncro,

There is one thing that really bugs me since the beginning of this massive oil spill.

A couple of days after the well blew, several companies (example: http://www.koseq.com/) in the Netherlands that have offered to provide huge oil collecting devices witch can be attached to tankers to collect the oil from the surface of the ocean.
This system has been proved to be effective in the past with other oil spills.
Initially neither the US Gov. or BP has responded to our offers to help.

I finally found out what the problem was, why it took so long before the skimmers could be deployed.
The reason is as simple as it is disturbing: US safety and regulations laws at first prohibited the use of these skimmers, due to the fact that they collect an oil/water mixture and separate the oil from the water. The water is then pumped overboard, of course with some petroleum particles still in it. US laws demand that all the oil/water collected must stay aboard on the ship, because it is unlawful to pump water with oil residue in the Gulf.

While at the same time it is lawfully to use a toxic dispersant to disperse the oil and thus prohibiting the ultimate collection of a lot of oil?!

So it was neither an engineering problem, a technical issue, a resource issue of men and equipment that prevented a effective response to the surface consequences of this massive spill. But it turned out to be solely a political issue.

Now it seems that when the separated water is being pumped back in the the Gulf but in front of the skimmers, it is again within US regulations.

I think I'll make a lousy politician; I'm far to practical to understand this all ;-)

Although it is important to learn the lessons of this spill and take actions to hold those responsible accountable, I personally think it is to early for that now. We need every hand aboard to contain this f@cked up situation, including those who made mistakes.

On your comment of not having a plan, you hit the problem right on the head:

When the dust is settled, it would be wise to install a body (overseen by the US government and funded by the oil companies that drill in the US) that is 24hrs a day ready to come into action when a spill occurs.

Maybe you could look into this example for an upfront response system: http://www.emsa.europa.eu/

Roger From the Netherlands

Roger, thank you for sharing your insights. I am not at all surprised that the delay in getting the skimmers deployed was caused by something as ridiculous as someone's interpretation of a clean-water regulation. But whoever made that initial decision probably did not have the authority to waive it, is my guess.

The point is, as you note, that without a plan already in place, these kinds of delays are inevitable no matter who sits in the whitehouse. If the situation calls for immediate response, you are going to fall far short without something you can take off the shelf and deploy immediately.

That plan would include an arrangement already worked out to have the skimmers in the air headed this way within 24 hours. Any requirement for waiver from existing regs would have already been taken care of.

It would be interesting to compare regulations for the Netherlands and US DW drilling. Certainly there is more emphasis on being prepared for a disaster. You don't have to have these skimmers sent in from the outside. They are there ready to deploy immediately, and employ technology developed to greatly increase effectiveness of skimming. Viva la Dutch!

A few days after the blowout and fire there were only a few thousand barrels per day to clean up.

The urgency came later.

This is a joke, right? I cannot see the twinkle in your eye.

"The horror! The horror!" — Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

[Edit addendum: According to Intrade people are betting Palin has 20% chance of becoming president in 2012. http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/contractSearch/index.jsp?query=palin]

20% is high enough to motivate me to finally get off my lazy ass and apply for a passport. Thanks for the heads-up.

sorry -


02 May 2010
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Sunday said it could be 90 days before a relief well is completed to address the Gulf oil spill.


The above article states that the relief wells will complete the plugging within 90 days or July, 2010

BP has outlined plans the company says will enable it to capture, by the end of June, all of the oil that is currently estimated to be flowing from the damaged well. BP, which said that further enhancements will increase the collection capacity to as high as 80,000 barrels a day by mid-July.


Let’s look at the dates. BP tells us that relief wells will cap this well by July and at the same time BP is saying that they will be able to capture 80,000 barrels a day by mid-July. What is it going to be, capture or plug-?

Maybe they are planning a redundancy in their plans and an overlap is expected or they are talking out of both corners of their mouth--?

By my reckoning 90 days is about 3 months so May plus three months makes August - not July and this date has been known all along and is the best estimate not an absolute time.

Yes they are planning for redundancy as recently demanded.

tool - From what I understand the redundancy is a response to the gov't demands for BP to put in excess capacity/back ups into the capture phase. As far as RW timing no one can say with any certainly when the kill effort will be successful: maybe July...maybe December. The timing projection is just that...a projection. It is not even a promise let along a guarentee.

So isn't that an admission that the well is spewing out 90,000 barrels per day?

No. It's an admission that it might be 40,000 BPD and the Government is demanding redundant processing capacity.

eey -- Just my opinion but if I were calling the shots I would demand that BP have at least 2X the stated capacity to handle the flow volume as estmated. Not only could you have a mechanical shut down like that caused by the fire but the well could be doing 30,000 bopd one then and then jump to 60,000 bopd the next. Might cost BP some extra standby time but that's what you get when you lose control of a well.

Hi Rockman,

I have been looking for an explaination of how oil and gas are seperated onboard ships but I haven't seen one yet.

Can you describe the machinery and process for us?Anybody?

I can see burning off the gas rather than trying to cool and liquefy it at sea which must be too big a job.

But if it is possible to seperate and burn off the gas coming up to the first ship and off load the oil, I am at a loss as to why a second chip cannot do the same and save the oil, or most of it at least.

Surely there must be at least two ships in trhe general area with the right kind of equipment on board to do this seperation and after all the oil that is to be burnt off is worth over seventy dollars a barrel.

This may be chicken feed it relation to the big picture, but it would be enough to help a lot if spent wisely to help out the locals thrown out of work.

The oil and gas are actually being separated on the Q4000 as well as on the Enterprise, even though both are subsequently flared on the Q4000. The separation allows air to be mixed with the oil in a separate stream before flaring to create a cleaner burn.

During several of his briefings (early last week?) Adm Allen explained that they decided to burn the oil on the Q4000 rather than capture it for safety reasons.

Unlike the Enterprise, the Q4000 does not have the ability to store significant quantities of oil. In order to contain the oil, two additional vessels would have been needed - one to receive oil as it was separated on the Q4000 and a second to offload from the first and shuttle the oil to shore.

It was decided that the addition of two more ships to an already crowded area was a risk they didn't want to take. Of course, that was before Watson's letter to BP, demanding a speed up in capacity. Now plans are to ramp up the number of vessels. I find that worrisome.

Incidentally, this photo of already congested area was released this morning - DE in the middle, presumably flaring above the sprays of water.

Also note that the Q4000 option which is burning the oil is temporary. In a few weeks, the FPSO's will be online using the new secure cap and the burning will not be necessary.

mac - here's the cook book answer:

A separator for petroleum production is a large drum designed to separate production fluids into their constituent components of oil, gas and water. It works on the principle that the three components have different densities, which allows them to stratify when moving slowly with gas on top, water on the bottom and oil in the middle. Any solids such as sand will also settle in the bottom of the separator. Gas can be removed from the top of the drum by virtue of being gas. Oil and water are separated by a baffle at the end of the separator, which is set at a height close to the oil-water contact, allowing oil to spill over onto the other side, while trapping water on the near side. The two fluids can then be piped out of the separator from their respective sides of the baffle. The produced water is then either injected back into the oil reservoir, disposed of or treated. The bulk level (gas - liquid interface) and the oil water interfaced are determined using instrumentation fixed to the vessel. Valves on the oil and water outlets are controlled to ensure the interfaces are kept at their optimum levels for separation to occur. The Separator will only achieve bulk separation. The smaller droplets of water will not settle by gravity and will remain in the oil stream. Normally the oil from the Separator is routed to a Coalescer to further reduce the water content.

I know you understand a good bit about mechanics so you've probably guessed the biggest problem with separation: time. Gravity works on its own clock. But you may have seen some of the talk about the separator system K Cosner has been promoting. Haven't seen the details but it sounds like equipment I saw 15 years ago. Similar in concept as a centrifuge. Fluids will separate much quicker thanks to centrifugal force.

I agree: it astounds me that they are going to burn sellable oil. I assume it's just a stop gap until they can get more seperation on site.

Is the burning of oil is just another backup (could be wrong)? If they couldnt offload for some reason and reached max capacity they would have to stop processing. Being able to flare the oil, rather than letting it go back into the GOM seems like a good idea.

Edit: Ohh, and if they have got the flow rates far too low then they can flare the excess.

kitty -- They have to burn the oil because of insufficient seperation. They have to seperate the NG out of the oil and flare it. Dump the oil into the tanker w/o serperating the NG out and you'll have another sunk vessel and a lot of dead seamaen. It's not an offloading problem IOW.

For Rockman, Heading Out or other longtimers here with experience in remediation efforts:

First, my profound gratitude to those of you who have patiently provided invaluable information to us newbies and the outstanding progress reports,links and other considerations the longterm members have shared thoughts on.

My latest question - what large scale cleanup efforts/machinery are available or needed for removing oil from the sand? Seeing legions of people shoveling sand into plastic bags isn't going to cut it when the oil starts hitting the beaches in real volume. I fear that even as the powers that be have been slow to react in water clean up, what can locals do to plan ahead for what I see as an eventuality. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

From Bloomberg today:

"Bloomberg forecasts show that BP is unlikely to pay a cash dividend in the second and third quarters. BP’s payments accounted for about 14 percent of all dividends in the U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 stock index last year. Fitch Ratings yesterday lowered BP’s credit score by six grades to BBB, two levels above junk, on concern costs will escalate."


Don't worry be happy!

Happy Yet?

Been a good bit of discussion regarding some statements by Matt Simmons. From a Barron's report:

"Simmons has a 4,000-share short sale on BP that he picked up when the stock hit $37. That’s in addition to a prior 4,000-share short sale he made at $48 a couple weeks prior. “It’s going to zero,” he says of BP stock. Simmons is not working actively with the firm he founded, and the firm recently upgraded BP to “Outperform.” Simmons & Co. does not have a position in BP shares, long or short."

I won't cast judgment on any possible motivations of Mr. Simmons. Others may wish to do so. However he has made a 26% return on his shorts. And if BP stock continues to decline he make an even better return.

"Turning to the spill, Simmons reiterated the rather surprising conclusion that the current “top kill” effort by BP, as well as the planned relief wells, will not stop the Gulf spill.

He says he talked over the weekend with scientists on board the Thomas Jefferson, a research boat used by the National Oceanographic Administration.

The chat confirmed his suspicion that the leak that BP is focusing on at the “riser” is not the problem. The real problem is a gaping hole at the “well head,” 8 miles away.

“The riser leak is a deception,” says Simmons. “The hole is in the well head — it’s the well bore.”

Asked why such a massive hole would not be readily apparent and reported on, Simmons answers that the Thomas Jefferson was previously prevented from coming closer than 20 miles from the site of the explosion. This past week, it got within three miles. However, it’s still impossible to see anything at the well’s depth of 23,000 feet.

“Think of it like a forest fire,” said Simmons. “You can’t get into the wilderness, you can only climb into a plane and fly over it, and when you do, you see that the fire is getting bigger every day.”

In other words, the massive hole at the well head, or the well bore, is still inferred at this point based on the rate of the spill, not actually seen.

Simmons sees further ripple effects from what he considers the massive size of the leak.

“When they [the Thomas Jefferson] finally got the permission to circle the three-mile radius,” of the well, “once they got up wind [of the blast], within 20 minutes all the crew [of the boat] were nauseous, and several people are still in the hospital. There is benzene coming out of that stuff. If a hurricane finally blows up the Gulf, we could have millions of people die,” on the Gulf coast.

What the hell is this Simmons character talking about?

"the wellhead is 8 miles away from the riser"

They cut the riser off the BOP days ago and are recovering oil from the sheared pipe. The original riser is now totally out of the equation and has been for some time.

Also Benzene ? hurricanes ??

What does he think will happen to the concentration of noxious gases under hurricane conditions?

Does he think a 3 mile gas cloud can be transfered hundreds of miles inland? I wonder what happens to diffusion in a 100mph wind.

This man is a complete idiot, he's talking when he should be listening

I agree. What is the attraction of this guy? I think he may be certifiable.

NOT impressed by anybody feeding the feeding frenzy. (member 6 weeks)

What is the attraction of this guy?
(Member for 3 Hours )

What the hell is this Simmons character talking about?
(Member for 22 hours

It would seem that most of the posters making these types of comments about Matt weren't reading the OilDrum 3-5 years ago nor any other Peak Oil site for the last 5 -10 years.

If the posters that make the kind of derogatory remarks about Matt's Integrity have produced the number of powerpoint presentations about Peak Oil for the last 5+ years Matt has, I would give them a Listen.

However Matt has more than earned, I said EARNED my trust enough to give him the benefit of the doubt until things are proven conclusive one way or the other.

For those who don't know who Matt is, Here's a few of his presentations.


Oil Depletion Conference
Edinburgh, Scotland



So, If BP says it's 5,000 bpd and Matt says it's 100,000 a day, I'm gonna lean towards Matt until proven wrong. Way more than someone who just started posting here since the spill.

So I tend to agree w/ the peak liquids thing.

That doesn't make me believe anything technical that he has to say in this case. And note that nobody is saying anything about any flow rate that Simmons proposed.

What we are objecting to is that he is saying is that we cannot be seeing what we are seeing with our own eyes, without there being a massive coverup that has BP, the Coast Guard, NOAA, etc involved.

He also appears to be misrepresenting what the research vessels are seeing. E.g. 'massive lakes of oil' - when mass spec analysis of said clouds is finding <1ppm of hydrocarbons.
People in the hospital who were never IN the hospital.

OTOH I DO understand that the person engenders some religious-type positions from followers, so you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Repeating it to anybody involved in Exploration or Production is going to get you some VERY funny looks.

OTOH I DO understand that the person engenders some religious-type positions from followers, so you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Repeating it to anybody involved in Exploration or Production is going to get you some VERY funny looks.

Actually, we laugh. Hysterically.

I work as a lead engineer in the upstream industry.

You can ask me whatever you like if you dont believe me.

I dont care who this guy is or what he has done or said about any subject in the past.

It doesn't change the fact that on this event the guy is talking unadulterated bull-sheet.

Almost every statement he made in that Bloomberg interview is factually incorrect.

Looks and sounds like Walter Mitty to me.

If you want to know my opinions on peak oil plug away

If the posters that make the kind of derogatory remarks about Matt's Integrity have produced the number of powerpoint presentations about Peak Oil for the last 5+ years Matt has, I would give them a Listen.

Simmons is not a source, of anything beyond some decent lead in jokes anyway.

A month ago his company started to understand what some noticed years ago, related to the value of his "contribution".


I think his wild statements must have an effect of the price of BP stock. For a person who has shorted BP stock, making wild statements is rational behavior. Just my opinion...

And there is absolutely nothing to indicate that he is trading on the basis of insider information, so what laws ...

I really wish Matt would be more clear, especially in view of his short.

I have seen suggestions that what he may be thinking (and I would prefer not
being forced to try to read his mind) was that an alternative pathway from
the reservoir to the surface has something to do with prior work on this well.
He mentioned, in the latest interview, the incident where the "tools were lost."

There was an event where the drill got stuck and I think a section of the borehole
eventually was shut in and cemented. I don't have the details, can anyone help?

However, in a previous interview, he gave the impression that he thought the
BOP had been shot off like a cork. Clearly, this did not happen.

Whatever Matt may be thinking, is there any possibility that the explosion and
fire created an additional pathway to the surface somehow? Just asking.

Was that well really cemented in? I had heard that since it wasn't a completed well (no oil was coming out), that they just left the broken bit in , and moved to drill the new hole..

This was on the IRC channel, so it's more than questionable.

Yes - they stuck pipe and had to plug back and sidetrack. That is NOT an uncommon occurrence, cause for alarm, or anything that would cause a blowout.

We have 6 centralizers, we can run them in a row, spread out, or any combination of the Two. It's a vertical hole, so hopefully the pipe stays centralized due to gravity. -- Energy and Commerce Committee's Letter Outlining Risky Practices in Anticipation of Hayward's Thursday Testimony

I find the concept of sidetrack and Vertical Hole to be a bit hard to visualize.

Subject came up on the IRC several times. Now that I've read your question, I wonder since they wanted to place two if they put one plug in or left it unplugged.

Also, what did Mr. Patton mean about hydrocarbon bearing zones beyond 12,900 feet?



"Verbal approval granted at 11 :00 p.m. last night to revise the setting depth of the cement plug to 12,150' due to the SCMTfTemp logging tool left In the hole"

Subject: RE: MC 252 #001 - Plug back approval requested


After further consideration, an extension is approved to delay the BOP test until the lower cement plug is set. Before testing BOP's, please wait for the cement plug to set up and verify its successful placement by tagging with 15000# pipe
weight. Please note the depth of the cement top and BOP test extension in the IADC report (because of well control operations) ...


Sorry, we cannot grant a departure on the BOP test further than when you get the well under control. It is OK to not place a cement plug across the 4 foot stringer since you can't.


We have a partial log over the area below 12,900' that has a 4' stringer that shows some resistivity which has bridged over. We are packed off and unable to circulate through the bit or under reamer, indicating we are packed off above the
under reamer. There is no way for us to perforate to put cement across that stringer.

With the give and take of the well and hole behavior we would feel much more comfortable getting at least one of the two plugs set in order to fully secure the well prior to testing BOPs.

Please let me know if you have further questions or comments. Thanks.

Scherie Douglas

"Are there any hydrocarbon bearing zones below 12,900 feet?


Frank Patton


We are in the midst of a well control situation on Me 252 #001 and have stuck pipe. We are bringing out equipment to begin operations to sever the drillpipe, plugback the well and bypass.

The APM for the plugback is submitted in Ewell.

The BOP test is due tomorrow. We would like to set the plugs (2) after we kill the well and then test BOPs per the procedure in the APM. Please advise if this is acceptable.·

Please let me know if you have any questions or require additional information.


Scherie Douglas..."

So you'd have to get Rock to explain this fully...it's been a long time for me...


They hit a thin section of sand (about 4 feet). This section collapsed into the hole while they were logging it and got the tool stuck. It also started a kick (well control situation). So I'm inferring that it was a pressurized pocket of gas.

The rest of it sounds like:

a) get the well under control.
b) set the bottom plug and test to make sure it STAYS under control
c) test the BOP to make sure it's still working
d) set top plug and go ahead and sidetrack

k3 -- MMS regs require sealing off any proven hydrocarbon bearing zones in a well bore before they abandon that part of the hole. That's would be one reason to asking if there were hydr. below a 12,900'. If they physically can't do this, like having drilll pipe stuck across the zone, they'll allow an excpetion. Just a guess but I think they didn't want to test the BOP until the plug was set for safety reason. If the well had kicked harder while testing the BOP it could have been much more difficult to control.

NOT impressed by anybody feeding the feeding frenzy.

I'd rather believe he's deluded - but it wouldn't be the first time that somebody respected ended up preying on people.

toll -- I shared a dinner table with Matt several months ago. He seemed neither dillusional nor incompetant. Perhaps he's changed since then. Perhaps not.

Hmmm...If he's NOT delusional, I thot that overt market manipulation was illegal.

toll -- So is driving over the posted speed limit. How's that working for us? As I said I won't pass judgment. There have been thousands, if not tens of thousands, of folks who have made a fortune by shorting BP.

Is he having a mental breakdown..this stuff is real tinfoil hat material?

can we get him to make a concise post about his analysis and the evidence?

Someone mention my name?

Over market manipulation is illegal? Where have you been? It's completely documented and we even know who is driving the rally since March 2009 and how. You live in a corpgov state, aka a fascist state. Obama is also busy censoring news on the actual effects of this blowout. This should surprise no one, because as I've repeatedly noted before, Obama is just Bush V2.0. Iran? Check. More Afghanistan? Check. New war in Pakistan? Check. More corporate protections on Wall Street and elsewhere? Check. More taxpayer bailouts of failed corporations? Check. Total incompetence at any large natural disaster? Check.

This is your "change", people. Now you get to beg for a whole boatload of "hope".

ROCKMAN, if you know Matt and email or talk to him, just tell him that we at TOD are curious if he has any more supporting evidence to his claims because if not, his statements seem fairly incredulous.

Dragon -- As we say in Texas he and I are barely nodding acquaintances. I also suspect he has a very long list of MSM begging for interviews right now. He's in a perfect position to put out as much detail as he chooses to do...or not to do. I suspect we'll be hearing more.

Simmons' comments have about the same believability as BP's comments in my view, however I agree with his short view of BP. This well is one huge uncontrollable and uncontainable clusterf&%$ in my view. If I were in the market I would be shorting BP also.

Barron's speak with forked tongue.


. Simmons & Co. International raised its rating on BP on Friday to “Overweight” from “Neutral,” with a $52 price target.

When Simmons says "BP is going to zero" does this make any sense?

BP run their US operations through a US corporation, so can the bankruptcy of the US corporation bankrupt the UK-based multinational parent company? If not, what proportion of BP's assets are included in the US company?

Lu: Keep in mind that under numerous circumstances the actions of a wholly owned subsidiary can be attributed to the parent company. I'm too lazy to try to trace the corporate structure of BP but I would guess, repeat guess, they exercise effective control over BP USA.

I think it was 40-ish percent...(at least of production volumes).

Hey Loosesandman, you got a link to that report?

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

Is Simmon's making accusations regarding the leak in order to push down BP shares and profit from his short, or is he so confident in his knowledge of what he alleges in his statements regarding the leak that he shorted BP to profit from it.

Just as one can profit from manipulating news/information using misleading accusations, one can also profit from truthful information that is not readily apparent or known to majority of investors.

Being short does not readily prove or disprove Simmon's statements.

Like most long timers here on TOD, Matt Simmons has been a hero to me in the peak oil movement. I have read Twilight in the Desert and read many of his presentations. But his recent interviews on the spill aren't making a lot of sense to me either. This quote is what really confuses me; "The riser leak is a deception,” says Simmons. “The hole is in the well head — it’s the well bore.” My understanding is that the BOP sits on top of the well head not some distance away attached to a riser. So what we are seeing and what he is claiming does not compute. But interestingly and very early on in the disaster I heard from some talking head that the Horizon rig sank miles away from the advertised spill site, as if it floated some distance from the BOP as it collapsed into the gulf. Could it be that the rig came down on top of another well head and damaged that BOP? And that it is this well that is really causing the majority of oil spilling into the gulf? I would imagine if that happened noting could be done given that a huge rig is sitting on top of the problem preventing any kind of access.

I am most likely completely wrong with my idea but I hope Matt an clear this up. If he can't reconcile his views with what we have been staring at for far too long he is either being intentionally deceptive to make money on shorts or he has jumped the shark for real.

Sonar(?) readings after the rig sank (there are pics somewhere - saw 'em, but don't remember where) indicate that the rig is about 1500' from the wellhead. Spaghetti pipe down there.

Given that this well was considered a wildcat, and not even a near-field wildcat the liklihood of another wellhead being a mere 1500' approaches zero.

NOt to be a pita (again), but on the last thread I posted a query about the Dutch North Sea skimmers apparently sitting idle because of US law/regulations banning foriegn vessels working in US waters.

Great work by posters here turned up "reports" from several sources (newspapers, etc.) giving the impression the skimmer ships were working. It looked to me the reports were full of hedge words ("if", "maybe", "will be", "should be", "haven't received any requests" ...). Can anyone point to actual video of them at work as opposed to second or third hand info filtered maybe by people who are embarrassed they are not actually at work yet. Or don't intend to have them work (BP maybe because they think they won't be needed after next week when they get "overkill" in place? Or the govt because the Pres hasn't really suspended the Jones act (or whatever) yet.

Or reports of how much they are actually capturing, not "potential to capture"? Or maybe video of them actually at work in the Gulf. Until we have clear credible evidence of the skimmer ships at work, we (I) have to believe they are being held up somewhere.

I had thot that they were still under sail on the way over.

The last I heard they were in the Gulf last week (Monday?) but weren't going to be allowed to work. Admiral Allen has been quoted as saying "no requests for exemptions have been received." All the other reports quoted in the last thread are full of conditionals and hedges.

We need those skimmer ships working NOW, not some vague time in the future.

My guess is BP doesn't want to pony up the money to pay for them (probably 10's or even 100's k's per day). Or BP is afraid of how much they will recover as it will be an irrefutable independent record of the volume of the leak when it comes time to go to court. As opposed to arguable estimates as it is now.

Good news, Mr. Fisherman, the Dutch skimmers are working now.


You are never a PITA, as far as I'm concerned.

Thanks CB. This has been really really roiling at me since they were first announced.

Tankers with skimmer arms supplied by the Dutch are now working in the Gulf.

There is some confusion between "Skimmer Ships" and "Skimmer Arms".

These appear to be just the arms supplied by the Dutch attached to American tankers.

These appear to be just the arms supplied by the Dutch attached to American tankers.

If you are right, TB, there needs to be some major investigation into that. Why would they just use the arms and not the whole ship which is experienced in oil recovery? Certainly no American flag ship would have the on board recovery capacity to handle the arms. Are they just towing the arms for the cameras? Would Admiral Allen really approve of that?

If true, then it's just another BP PR stunt in the dog and pony show. Or the govt is doing CYA to cover up their unwillingness to allow the actual ships to work. Or the delay in getting approvals/clearances.

We need real honest to god skimmer recovery vessels on site. And we need them NOW.

The offer from the Dutch government was to supply only the arms, which can be flown in.


Probably the arms are the key part of the technology -- a tanker is a tanker, no? Does the rest of the Dutch ship have some additional technology that is not being used in the current effort?

According to the report, the way it works is that an oil/water solution captured by the arms is pumped into the tanker, and then the oil and water are allowed to separate. Then the water is pumped back to sea.

Seems like it shouldn't matter which tanker you use, unless there is something else.

They apparently don't keep tankers with arms installed sitting around waiting for the next spill. They attach the arms when needed. And it has been reported that the arms alone can be flown.

Why the hell don't we have a few of our own sitting around? We suck sometimes.

The Dutch government keeps a stockpile of them for emergencies. That's where they got the ones they sent us. The U.S. has a non-socialist ;) system where private contractors are hired by the private spiller to coordinate and perform cleanup services after a spill. That's why the U. S. govt doesn't have the equipment. Unfortunately, the spillers and cleanup contractors apparently don't, either.

If published figures are correct, three of the Dutch-armed skimmers would have easily been able to contain most of the spill near the wellhead. By contrast, the hundreds of primitive skimmers in use have barely made a dent. The 20 million gallons of "oil and water mix" collected to date are, according to a comment Adm. Allen made recently, only 10-15% oil. That means, in 7 weeks, they have collected only around 60K bbl of oil, or two days' worth of the spill.

And let's not blame this on U. S. regulations and laws until we hear that a request for waiver was refused. (If it was refused, let's see some heads roll.)

Looks like these socialist skimmers weren't requested (May 18) until it became apparent that the flow estimates were off and that BP's confidence in stopping the thing quickly was misplaced.


I also think that the problem lies in the downplaying of the problem by BP.
They said from the beginning that there was a minimal spill and no environmental impact could be expected... liar liar pants on fire...or on this case: liar liar sea on fire!!

Think of it: BP was totally responsible for cleaning it up and pluggin' the hole.
So also in charge of hauling in skimmers or deciding not to...

PS: the Dutch are not really socialists anymore ;-)

Roger from the Netherlands

The Coast Guard has the authority to override BP's decisions so some of the onus is in their court.

Old Fischerman,

The skimmers are pretty effective in collecting oil from the surface of the ocean. One ship with two skimmers can collect up to 250.000 liters of oil out of the water per hour. That is netto oil, so without the water. Their water cut is aprox. 30% in this system.

So, lets say 4 ships with each 2 skimmers, each collecting 250.000 liter of oil per hour, is 1 mil. liters times 24 equals 24.000.000 liters per day.
That is 150.000 barrels of oil per day.

Facts about the oil collectors/sweeping arms:

Sweeping Arm

The rigid sweeping arm consists of 2 pontoons, which give the arm its floating capacity, and a bridge piece, for guiding the oil.
The inside pontoon (the one directly next to the ship) contains a pump for discharging recovered oil.

The design and dimensions of the pontoons give the rigid sweeping arm stability, even in rough seas.

The rigid sweeping arms are deployed directly next to the ship. When the vessel is moving forward, the oil will be guided between the ships hull and the rigid sweeping arm, to the oil collection chamber in the sweeping arm. The height of this oil collection chamber is hydraulically adjustable depending on the thickness of the oil layer. This feature means the amount of water entering the oil collection tank can be minimised to 30%.

The oil/water mixture is then pumped on board through an oil tranfer pump. This special pump has an impeller combining the properties of a screw pump with those of a centrifugal pump. This makes the pump suited for high viscous oils and at the same time, less sensitive for debris.

On board the vessel, the oil/water mixture will be separated through the difference in specific weight, whereafter the water can be pumped overboard. The recovery off spilled oil can continue until the tanks on board the vessel are completely filled with oil.

Recently, we have developed an interchangeable oil collection chamber equipped with a brush conveyor skimmer cassette and a pump. The complete oil collection chamber with brush conveyor skimmer cassette and pump replaces, in minutes, the existing oil collection chamber with the MSP 150 pump mounted in our rigid sweeping arm. The brush conveyor skimmer cassette can also be height adjusted using the same features as our existing oil collecting chambers.

More info: www.koseq.com

Roger From the Netherlands

Thanks this explanation, Roger. When I was critical of just using collection arms I was thinking that on board collection/separation would require more sophisticated equipment/training than would be aboard just any old tanker.

Your explanation allays some of those concerns. When this is over, heads should roll for whoever was responsible for delaying the implementation of the arms.

Do you have any information regarding the 3 Dutch skimmer ships in the Gulf? Are they still being stopped from being deployed for any reason?

Hi Old Fisherman,

The skimmers are being used right now. Slowly but surely will get there. But there is a bit of frustration among the experts that where send along with the skimmers. From a dutch newssource:

LONDON (Reuters) - The Dutch contribution to combating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is underused. Communication with the Americans is difficult and the Dutch experts are poorly listened to.
A spokesman for the Rotterdam company Mari Flex said so to Radio Netherlands:
"We have seven Dutch in the United States to advise on the use of the six sweeping arms that RWS has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard. Each can suck up 240 tons of oil per hour.
But U.S. authorities so far ignore the Dutch opinion, suggests a spokesperson Mari Flex. 'So we think it is smarter to clean oil oil further from the source because there it is thicker and therefore better to suck.''
"That's pretty frustrating,''said the Dutch company. "We are still hired for our expertise.''

Barely 5 percent

Since the ships last week have gone to work, is only 10 tons of oil per day cleared, only 5 percent of the capacity of the poor. "The operation was a much more effective and accelerate if the Dutch would be listened to.''
U.S. law also limits the ships in their doings. Thus, vessels with a larger storage capacity can not be used in the operation because they are not American flags.
According to Mari, the Flex-clearance operation, will last at least another few months''. The assistance of the Netherlands followed a U.S. request to help the European Commission.

Roger from The Netherlands

It truly is an embarrassment with the skimmers. They are a perfect example of how utterly unprepared we were and what the consequences of that are. You can't ad hoc this stuff on the fly and expect great results.

The Dutch government owns the skimmers. It is my understanding that in the event of a spill, the oil companies have 12 hours to respond effectively or the govt. steps in and then sends the co. a bill.

Why don't we own a bunch of them? Why haven't we developed advanced oil recovery technology?

Here's example of why:
As he reviewed the pending decision, Obama didn't ask for more information about the Minerals Management Service. Now infamous but little-known then, the MMS is the primary agency that oversees oil drilling. In 2000, it prepared a report that warned of the possibility of a major spill that could start with a fire atop a rig, noting that "retaining well control in deep water may be a problem," and said that spreading oil could both remain underwater and rush ashore.

That report was shelved during the Bush years as the government bowed to the claimed technological infallibility of the oil industry. In fact, the agency became known for cozy relationships between regulators and the oil industry, something Salazar set out to fix
when he took office last year.


Of course, Obama went on to approve expanded drilling without doing anything about it either. Why? According to the same article:
Top Obama administration officials say that they did an exhaustive job marshaling information for more than a year, and that the president asked what he needed to ask when it arrived at his desk. Anyone, they said, would grow complacent about the safety of offshore drilling after decades without a major spill.

"It's really important to understand you have decades of nothing going wrong," said one senior administration official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity as a matter of White House policy.

"The last time you saw a spill of this magnitude in the Gulf, it was off the coast of Mexico in 1979," a second senior administration official said. "If something doesn't happen since 1979, you begin to take your eye off of that thing."

Of course, industry didn't so squat to invest time or money in disaster preparation, either, despite their claim to be capable of effective self-regulation.

Hello Syncro,

It is always a delicate balance between self regulating and government oversight.
But just as with nuclear power plants, you have to be prepared as a population for a possible oil spill.

Companies tend to internalize benefits and externalize the costs...
When producing dvd players or childrens toys, that's all very well.
But when it comes to the important and dangerous stuff like energy production, you should at least have a competent government oversight.

When the dust is settled, it would be wise to install a body (overseen by the US government and funded by the oil companies that drill in the US) that is 24hrs a day ready to come into action when a spill occurs.

As in the Gulf, in Europe it also took an oil spill before an upfront response system was put in place: http://www.emsa.europa.eu/

Roger from the Netherlands

"As in the Gulf, in Europe it also took an oil spill before an upfront response system was put in place: http://www.emsa.europa.eu/

This is the second big spill in the Gulf, not the first, with both being the top two spills ever in water I believe. So, yes, after two huge spills in the Gulf, maybe something will get done now.

The other one came the same year Carter gave his peak oil speech. Reagan took over the WH shortly after, and the period of re-regulation that stretches to this day first began.

Freudian slip...sorry: "De-regulation"

Roger Dank u wel.
This is what we needed.

Note; I think it's a fact of life that many of these slicks are not on the surface yet. One report from this morning stated that a heretofore unnoticed slick appeared off the coast of Florida and the oil was of particular heavy nature. (link not handy) Based on analysis from Roger_Rethinker and others underwater fractioning means a lot of oil will take considerable time and will not come up directly in the vicinity of the blowout at all. Perhaps these will only tend to surface once currents have carried them in very close to shore? Tracking and predicting these migrating cells and deploying skimmers in their paths may prove to be a tactic worth consideration.

As a couple of skimmers are said to have the capacity to collect all the estimated current flow, would it not make sense to quit using dispersant, eliminate the complex pipe work necessary to collect the oil at the wellhead and, instead, skim the oil from the relatively confined area where it first surfaces? This would eliminate the need for burning oil and lower the risks associated with the recovery operation.

Makes sense, except the oil is now scattered all over the northern Gulf in patches with densities thick enough to damage the coastline but too thin to skim with high efficiency. Maybe just one of the socialist skimmers can take care of the area around Ground Zero so long as the collection systems are working, and that might justify putting an end to the subsea release of dispersant. I hope that is being considered.

It is infuriating the realize that the oil could have been mostly contained (and collected for use) with such a simple system and without surface burning and dispersants. I don't attribute it to the low-ball public flow estimates, since we know that both the government and BP had been warned to act on the assumption of much higher rates. I suspect neither BP nor the USCG had any idea how feeble would be the efforts of the cleanup contractors.

That post has no source. Where did the blogger get the information, that dutch style skimming is going on I wonder?

Where are the Dutch skimmers, what ships are they on, and how many?

If any.

I'm just wondering whether some of the people expressing skepticism on this issue are actually skeptical, or instead pressing a particular semi-covert (but poorly disguised) agenda. As I say, just wondering.

Originally published June 14, 2010 at 5:54 PM | Page modified June 15, 2010 at 6:42 AM

A month after the spill, U.S. to receive foreign aid

Four weeks after the nation's worst environmental disaster, the Obama administration saw no need to accept offers of state-of-the-art skimmers, miles of boom or technical assistance from nations around the globe with experience fighting oil spills.

By Juliet Eilperin and Glenn Kessler

The Washington Post

Four weeks after the nation's worst environmental disaster, the Obama administration saw no need to accept offers of state-of-the-art skimmers, miles of boom or technical assistance from nations around the globe with experience fighting oil spills.

"We'll let BP decide on what expertise they do need," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters on May 19. "We are keeping an eye on what supplies we do need. And as we see that our supplies are running low, it may be at that point in time to accept offers from particular governments."

That time has come.

In the past week, the United States submitted its second request to the European Union for any specialized equipment to contain the oil now seeping onto the Gulf of Mexico's marshes and beaches, and it accepted Canada's offer of 9,842 feet of boom. 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.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States has received 21 aid offers from 17 countries and four international groups. But some lawmakers and outside experts are questioning whether the administration has been too slow to capitalize on these offers, lulled by BP's estimates on the oil-flow rate and on its capacity to cope with the aftermath of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

"We're clearly behind the curve because BP did not have the game plan to deal with this spill," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who visited Louisiana on Friday.

Sen. George LeMieux and Rep. Jeff Miller want President Obama to waive a law they say is keeping foreign oil skimmers out of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Florida Republicans sent a letter to Obama on Monday and plan to discuss the issue with him Tuesday during the president's visit to Pensacola to assess the BP oil spill in the gulf.

The federal maritime administrator in emergencies can waive the Jones Act that bars foreign ships from carrying cargo and passengers between U.S. ports.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, who also was in Pensacola on Monday, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has assured him skimmers from the Netherlands and other European counties are on their way.

The State Department sent letters to some U.S. allies two weeks after the accident, and the Coast Guard initially sought to assess what supplies might be available overseas, but the administration's public posture on aid has been inconsistent. On May 5, Crowley announced that 13 international offers had been received and that decisions on what to accept would be made "in the next day or two." Two weeks later, the State Department said the government saw no reason to accept any of them.

"The coordination on this side of the ocean was not completely clear," said Floris van Hovell, press counselor for the Dutch Embassy in Washington, adding that when a Dutch official was seeking to broker an aid agreement last month, "it was for a long time unclear on where he should go to, and who should take the decision."

According to government sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed to the White House several weeks ago, suggesting that it needed some foreign aid for practical and diplomatic reasons.

In some cases, the administration rejected offers because they failed to meet U.S. specifications: the private Norwegian consortium that serves as that nation's spill-response team uses a chemical dispersant that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved.

In other cases, domestic politics are at play. Dutch authorities have worked in Louisiana since Katrina hit and were among the first to offer to help. After some hesitation, BP has obtained the state-of-the-art Dutch skimmers, two of which are in operation. Meanwhile, a massive sand-dredging operation is moving slowly.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to create sand berms to keep oil from reaching the coastline originally came from the marine contractor Van Oord and the research institute Deltares, both in the Netherlands. BP pledged $360 million for the plan, but U.S. dredging companies — which have less than one-fifth of the capacity of Dutch dredging firms — have objected to foreign companies' participation.

Garret Graves, who chairs Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, wrote in an e-mail that state officials "have made it clear to our contractors from the beginning that we want to use American dredges to complete this sand berm as quickly as possible. ... Ultimately, any effort to expedite these berms will be fully considered, but we remain committed to our American companies."

In the meantime, governments around the world are mobilizing help. In addition to boom, Canada has dispatched an aircraft for surveillance flights as well as several technical experts. Japan is still offering to send boom; the Swedish Coast Guard said it can send three ships that can each collect 370 barrels of oil an hour, but it is waiting to hear from the U.S. government or BP.

The Norwegian Coastal Authority has approved sending nearly a third of the nation's spill-response equipment to the gulf if asked.

"We want to help the U.S. with whatever they need," said Espen Myhra, energy counselor at the Norwegian Embassy. "But of course, it's up to the U.S. and BP to decide what they need, and we will respond to that."

Additional information from The Associated Press


Some emphasis added.

According to this Christian Science Monitor story, 6 Dutch sweeping arm skimmers were sent on Sunday, 30-May.


6 skimmers are now deployed in the Gulf. They are attached to vessels of opportunity, which have oil storage capacity. More can be delivered if requested.

I expect media coverage on the preliminary results pretty soon.

Roger From the Netherlands.

The C-SPAN video showed a tanker with a capacity of 6000 barrels, that is being prepared to use the Dutch skimmer arms, on 11 June.

If one ship was outfitted and collecting, say, 5000 barrels a day, for even one day, don't you think that would be big news and BP would be adding that to their daily totals of oil that was extracted for that day? There is simply no way these skimmer arms are operational yet.

Argument from incredulity.

Here's more on decision-making behind the skimmer story from 8-Jun-10

Good link, but I really hope we can get to the bottom of these claims about bureaucratic and legal interference with the cleanup. Thad Allen has repeatedly said he knows of no requests to override the Jones Act but would be happy to see that they are considered. And the EPA has given a ruling approving the discharge of slightly oily water by skimmers. Did anyone ask for this earlier? I've seen no evidence of that. If people just assumed that government would stand in the way of needful action in an emergency and didn't seek relief, that's their fault. However, EPA should probably have proactively modified the rule--or is it a law?-- about discharging polluted water. I'm sure it was intended for situations like tankers dumping ballast water from oily tanks.

Note that the preponderance of the evidence seems to refute the assertion in the referenced story that the Jones Act played a significant role in delaying the Dutch skimmers. See numerous other posts here in the past two threads, including denials by the USCG spokesperson.

The delay in accepting the skimmers seems, rather, to have been caused by poor planning, underestimation of the flow, and brain-dead application of EPA regulations.

The assertion about the Jones Act and foreign assistance with dredging appears to have more validity. It seems, based upon my quick and sketchy research, that American dredgers, who don't have nearly adequate capacity, are resisting foreign help—and state and local officials in the Gulf states are pressuring the feds to keep the Dutch dredgers out of the action.

Edit to correct brain-dead punctuation.

I think you are probably right on both counts.


You are right; The Jones Act is not applicable in this situation.
The skimmers can be fit on a vessel of opportunity with oil storage capacity. Most tankers will do. So it can be mounted on US vessels.

A couple of days after the well blew, several companies (example: http://www.koseq.com/) in the Netherlands that have offered to provide huge oil collecting devices witch can be attached to tankers to collect the oil from the surface of the ocean.
This system has been proved to be effective in the past with other oil spills.
Initially neither the US Gov. or BP has responded to our offers to help.

I finally found out what the problem was, why it took so long before the skimmers could be deployed.
The reason is as simple as it is disturbing: US safety and regulations laws at first prohibited the use of these skimmers, due to the fact that they collect an oil/water mixture and separate the oil from the water. The water is then pumped overboard, of course with some petroleum particles still in it. US laws demand that all the oil/water collected must stay aboard on the ship, because it is unlawful to pump water with oil residue in the Gulf.

While at the same time it is lawfully to use a toxic dispersant to disperse the oil and thus prohibiting the ultimate collection of a lot of oil?!

So it was neither an engineering problem, a technical issue, a resource issue of men and equipment that prevented a effective response to the surface consequences of this massive spill. But it turned out to be solely a political issue.

Now it seems that when the separated water is being pumped back in the the Gulf but in front of the skimmers, it is again within US regulations.

I think I'll make a lousy politician; I'm far to practical to understand this all ;-)

Roger from the Netherlands


The dredging by the Dutch is having a GO too. We will build a 50 mile long sand barrier along the coast of New Orleans to protect the marshes.
Look out for the vessel: "Stuyvesant".
(Witch will be carrying the US flag, for nationalistic reasons ;-)

/sarcasm on
But hey, as it will carry the American flag, it must be good!!!
/sarcasm off

Roger from the Netherlands

According to that article by Loren Steffy in the Houston Chronicle:

While the skimmers should soon be in use, the plan for building sand barriers remains more uncertain. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the idea, and the Coast Guard has tentatively approved the pro-ject. One of the proposals being considered was developed by the Dutch marine contractor Van Oord and Deltares, a Dutch research institute that specializes in environmental issues in deltas, coastal areas and rivers. They have a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.
That proposal, like the offer for skimmers, was rebuffed but later accepted by the government. BP has begun paying about $360 million to cover the costs. Once again, though, the Jones Act may be getting in the way. American dredging companies, which lack the dike-building expertise of the Dutch, want to do the work themselves, Visser said.
“We don't want to take over, but we have the equipment,” he said.
While he battles the bureaucracy, the people of Louisiana suffer, their livelihoods in jeopardy from the onslaught of oil.
“Let's forget about politics; let's get it done,” Visser said.

Sarah Palin's comments on Dutch expertise may have been poorly phrased, but they were on target. Enough of the derisive polemics. I'm interested in everything concerning the solutions to this environmental and economic mess.

Does anyone have real information on why BP has to bring vessels form Norway and South America to handle the increased amount of oil being recovered at the wellhead? Aren't there any such vessels closer to the GOM?

Your question was answered on other threads, so this is a passalong that I hope is reasonably accurate. The need is for fairly large vessels that do processing (separation of oil, gas, and water) and storage. Because of the great depth and crowded conditions at the site, mooring is impossible, so the vessels must have dynamic positioning technology. There are few such vessels in the GOM because the production rigs do their own separation and usually offload into pipelines. Apparently vessels to spec are fairly uncommon worldwide.

FWIW I saw a NatGeo show about the oil spill that followed the actions of a Dutch crew that came over in the first stages of the disaster to help put out the fire (altho that proved impossible). So I guess Dutch teams have been involved from the first.

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. -- BP won permission to start burning oil and gas piped up from its broken seafloor well, one step toward fulfilling a pledge to more than triple how much crude it stops from spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal authorities gave permission late Monday for BP PLC to use a new method that involves pumping oil from the busted wellhead to a special ship on the surface, where it would be burned off rather than collected.

Final preparations on the burner were still ongoing Tuesday, BP spokesman David Nicholas said.

BP gets OK to burn off captured oil, gas at sea

I would really appreciate some mechanical imput on Simmons' BOP view (other than that he is losing his marbles) if possible. I read his Twilight book (no not vampires) and have read him over the years and watched his interviews, and he appears to be as lucid and intelligent as can be. And I can't see why he would say something totally absurd and risk his entire reputation. That fact that he SOUNDS so calmly absurd about the BOP is what intrigues me. Why would he go on TV and destroy a life's work and reputation by saying something impossible and insane? Makes no sense.

If you have a 5 story high piece of apparatus weighing 450+ tons, then how could it not be on top of riser pipe? Physically, how could that happen?

Is the answer that the lower riser pipe could have blown out at an angle, maybe near the top where cement failed, such that it went right up through sea floor sediment a few miles away, and the BOP is left sitting on top of an intact piece of pipe maybe 1000 feet long? And now most oil follows that new path?

During the early days when BP was not releasing feed, would it have been possible to create a fake by putting the BOP on top of a leak, say in a kinked piece of pipe? I have been assuming that the BOP is just too huge to go move it easily, but could they have taken a week and staged a fake somehow?

I cannot reconcile Simmons current statements with my limited understanding. Neither can I reconcile his claims as absurd, given the man's lifetime of expertise.

I would really appreciate any feedback from those who respect Simmons on how the BOP could have been dislodged from the main leak. Thanks.

Bloomberg just had a segment on the well where they explained that the cement casing was just done very hundred feet or so. Oil is flowing out of these gaps.

Naturally some gaps are more conducive than others but this at least is a cogent explanation of what the heck is going on.

Please explain to me why BP would "fake" an oil leak and then go to such efforts as they have recently to shut it down, while the presumably bigger one was left undisturbed? This is up there with the fake moon landing conspiracies as far as I'm concerned.

As for Simmons' claim that the riser somehow blew out miles from the well, the GPS coordinates for the well and the robots are practically the same, certainly not "miles" away from each other. So, if this "fake" leak is supposed to be far from where the "real" leak is taking place, why are the coordinates for the robots matching the well's location?

There is no logical explanation for how a BOP which is clearly attached to the top of some rigid structure on the seafloor, is geographically located (according to the ROV locations) where the well is supposed to be as per the BP well plan, and is (and has been for weeks) spewing tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day, is somehow not sitting on the well itself but was somehow transported miles away from it with a blowout.

thank you.

Supposedly there is a report just released by the research vessel Thomas Jefferson that would shed some light on what Simmons is saying. He says it confirms this undersea lake of oil covering 40% of the Gulf of Mexico. Says he believes the well casing is gone. Says our only alternative is a nuclear bomb -- or let 120,000 bpd gush out for 25 or 30 years.

If someone can get hold of that report and post it it would be helpful.

Here's his latest:

Matthew Simmons: The Relief Well Will Fail, And An Undersea Oil Lake May Be Covering 40% Of The Gulf

I don't think there is such a report. Matt may have some inside sources on that boat. He claims the oil concentrations were so high that people are getting sick aboard ship and going to the hospital. That would be breaking news.

All I've seen lately from the TJ has been a feelgood PR video, posted on Facebook yesterday, about how cool it is to work there.


Anyone have something recent?

I don't know, I'm cudBwrong, and I could be wrong. I've been wrong before.

Try this:


The three samples analyzed by the agency contained oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, in very low concentrations -- .5 parts per million of oil and in the parts-per-trillion range for PAH. They came from three areas: 40 and 45 nautical miles northeast of the wellhead, and 142 nautical miles southeast of the wellhead, which has been spewing an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil a day and possibly much more, since an April 20 explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon drill rig, claiming 11 lives.

I've just written to NOAA's public information people, asking them to comment here, get in touch with the TOD editors, and/or issue a press release on this alleged report.

USCG/NOAA/BP also have not officially denied there are swarms of aliens crawling out of a rift in the seabed and swimming towards land, and when they hit the beaches they will begin eating fat sunburned tourists. If they don't deny it, then it must be true. On the other hand, if they do deny it, some people will claim they are lying because they have lied about other stuff, and the denial is actually proof the aliens really are coming to get us.

I appreciate sarcasm as much as the next guy (oh hell, I love sarcasm) - but for a guy who's only real source of information is grainy, highly compressed videos provided to you by BP, you are awfully damn confident that you know what is happening a mile under the sea. Setting up those video streams took someone a lot of money and effort. Did you ever wonder why they they were set up? Was it just for your entertainment? Altruism and a desire for truth?

I've got no idea what Simmons is getting at (nor do I trust wealthy men), but I also know that all the knowledge I have was provided to me by organizations with a vested interest in manipulating my opinion (corporations and government).

How many people have posted here, freaked out, with "wtf there was a huge cloud with crap flying everywhere and now the camera is totally blacked out, the whole thing must have exploded!" Those people are always the ones only watching the one composite stream from various ROVs, selected by BP. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together who saw the scene from multiple cameras would not have been freaked out at all, because the cause - another ROV clearing away the plume with a fan - was just obvious. Same goes for the "omg the whole thing is on fire, that's fire, I know fire when I see it and that's FIRE!"

Do you think this immediate problem and the much bigger long term very real problems we are up against will be solved sooner if we spiral out of control into 9/11 'truther'-style paranoia? 4/20 Truthers? You think going insane will make it easier to fix this?

I don't think it makes a hill of beans worth of difference what any of the people posting here believe they saw on these videos. What exactly are you accomplishing, what influence do you have? People watched these videos for weeks and still were unable to tell the volume of oil coming out to closer than an order of magnitude.

It is perfectly possible that oil is coming out somewhere else. I've got no idea if that is true, and neither do you. You see what you are shown, and are totally confident that's the reality. You see some oil seepage from what do appear to be bits of wreckage, and from that conclude with complete confidence that all ideas of oil seeping from the sea floor are absurd.

The oil will stop spewing out when the relief well intercepts, which is months away. These video streams serve to distract and provide comfort to a technology obsessed nation used to sitting in their comfy chairs watching the world go by on TV. It gets you involved and impressed with the technology, allows you to identify with the intrepid heroes trying to stop it, keeps stringing you along. Seeing it on TV makes it real - not!

My point, in totality, is to maintain a healthy skepticism, remember where the information you have is coming from and the limits of the knowledge we have. Always ask "why am I being shown/told this?".

Member: 4 weeks, 4 days.

As are most of the posters of this line of thinking.

If a company buys up search terms like "Oil Spill" from Google and redirects them to their own sponsered PR sites, I wonder if they have any "Professional Bloggers" doing damage control on major "Oil News" sites.

Not that I would be skeptical of BP's honorable intentions....


You ask, "If you have a 5 story high piece of apparatus weighing 450+ tons, then how could it not be on top of riser pipe? Physically, how could that happen?"

Please realize that the drill riser is a complex large diameter pipe with smaller diameter service pipes attached that connects the drilling rig floating above to the top of the BOP stack on the sea floor. It connects to the top of the tall BOP stack . . . not the bottom of it.

This well's drill riser pipe was 5,000 feet long and as the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, shortly thereafter the riser separated from the rig and fell in a twisted, crimped mess to the sea floor with one end still attached to the top of the BOP.

It was this riser connection to the topmost flange on the BOP that was ultimately sheared off so a containment cap could be partially seated and once again, connected to a tanker on the surface 5,000 feet above. You seem to perhaps be confusing well casing sections with the collapsed riser pipe. The web has endless diagrams explaining various parts of a deep sea wellhead, BOP and well casing/hanger and cementing procedures.

Hopes this helps you visualize things.

Looks like the CHOPS rate is easily explainable. If the cumulative drawdown goes like U(t)=U0*exp(-R*t) where R is constant, then if you add an accelerate to R(t) like R=k+c*t then the function looks like the dU(t)/dt graphed here:

which looks a lot like the graph that HO posted.

The very important upshot of this is that the rates initially go dramatically higher, but than the downturn is also more rapid than the exponential. However, that is no comfort when we are talking about essentially draining a reservoir.It will either come out at once or slower. If it comes out slower we have a better chance of getting the relief wells in place.

Dave - as mentioned in an email, don't know if this has been discussed, but many deep GOM reservoirs are poorly consolidated sand - barely rock at all. This is function of rapid burial and over-pressure. Often, when you see the cores, they are little more than like wet beach sand. Under normal controlled conditions a sand screen is placed in the well, in the reservoir, to prevent the sand being produced with the oil. Don't know what will be happening in the reservoir in Macondo, but I could envisage large amounts of sand being produced.

To go and speculate a bit more, I imagine this could have significant abrasive affect. Furthermore I wonder what impact this will be having on the physical strength of the reservoir at the point of entry to the well bore. One outcome might be the whole thing collapses sealing off the well (dream on). Alternatively, erosion of the reservoir will increase the well contact area enhancing flow - speculation remember.

Quit true Euan. That's been one of the amazing things about the estimated flow rates: IMHO it would be difficult to reach these volumes without severe reservoir damage even if you did a gold plated completion. But there's is an interesting phenominon about flow thru a poorly consolidated sand. As long as it's just oil/NG it will hold up well. But if water starts being produced it can fall apart very quickly. Picture a pile of nice clean dry sand on a plate. Stable. Not slowly lower the plate into a tub of water. Not so stable now....it falls instantly. Your basic surface tension booger.

Which I suppose would be a contributing factor at Thunder Horse, where the water production from the main structure has shown a large increase, concurrent with the crash in oil production. If memory serves, Euan said that the reservoir(s) at Thunder Horse is unconsolidated.

Good point WT. When I first started working with shallow uncosolidated sand reservoirs in S Texas my engineer explained: When you start see a water cut you need to begin saving your month revenue checks: you'll be paying to plug that well soon.

If the reservoir rock was eroding badly and being produced as sand would that appear in the flow up the cap riser and into the Enterprise's gas/oil separator plant? If so would it be detected and possibly measured there?

nojay -- samples can be caught at anytime and the sand washed out and measured. Not rocket science to say the least.

Would this sand not precipitate from the released oil/gas coming out of the top of the riser and start covering everything below in a rain of "sand"?

I must be spending too much time watching the robots playing. :-)

I cannot see any sand residue.
I see, jelly snow flakes and jelly spaghetti.
What would be the size of the particles of sand that you are referring to?
Would they be making a plume of cloudy water?

There are 3 open vents on the top cap, I don't see a sandstorm.


It would be fairly low concentration compared to the volume of oil, small particles, moving fast, perhaps themselves abraided to clay size - they'd float out with the oil, eventually settle out over wide area.

Darn it!!

I cannot see the sand and I cannot see any evidence that there is any sandblasting.


I am watching the Live feed from Ocean Intervention II at http://mxl.fi/bpfeeds2/
I see a lot of sludge, sediment, as he inspect where the hose is lying but I do not see anything that I would call sand.

Other shots of the bottom ... nothing that I would call sand.


The comments about sand abrasion are interesting. Using the inputs I list below, I get that about 1,000 cubic meters of sand have been emitted from the well. If this were all dumped uniformly over a 200 meter diameter centered on the well, there would be a layer of sand about 3.4cm (about 1.3") thick. You'd think that would be detectable in videos of artifacts as a slowly accreting layer.

I expect that sand large enough to be effective as an abrasive would also be large enough to settle out from the oil flow after exit from the well, particularly since the added dispersants would reduce the thickness of buoyant oil films surrounding the denser sand particles.

However, the video commonly shows currents in the well area that probably are fast enough to disperse descending sand over a large area, rendering the accretion too thin to notice.

If the sand/particle content matters, a straightforward laser scattering detector could provide a rough estimate by putting it down-current from the well. Descending sand particles will give a big reflected intensity spike. From the laser sampling volume and the brightness/distance/target volume relationship, it should be feasible to work out a useful estimate of sand emission rate and particle size statistics. Would these data be helpful for any reason?


flow rate: 40,000 bbls/day
days of flow: 56
sand content by volume: 0.003 (0.3%)
sedimentation footprint diameter: 200m

- all the sand precipitates;
- precipitation is restricted to the footprint

Hi Ridge - main question, where does the 0.3% sand content number come from? It sounds reasonable, and a 10 * 10 * 10 m excavation in the reservoir sounds reasonable(1) - its what I'd have as a mental model. But what is the basis for your numbers?

1 - doesn't mean we have a 10*10*10 cavern since compaction and "flotation" (expansion?) may reduce this

Hi, Euan - I searched literature, mostly unsuccessfully, for data on the range of sand in crude. Nearly everything I turned up dealt with tar sands, which isn't applicable here. The 0.3% came from a paper (Liquid–solid separation phenomena of two-phase turbulent flow in curved pipes, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer 45 (2002) 4995–5005) in which the authors gave the sand content of oil from the Shengli field in east China as being 0.1% to 0.3% by volume. I picked the upper range to run my numbers. I have no idea where this range stands in relation to what's found in the Gulf formations. I was kind of surprised at how little of this data I could find, but that's probably down to being an outsider unfamiliar with where the data get published - or not published.

Thanks Ridge, I think in keeping with much of this "debate" we are way out on a limb. I suspect your numbers may be conservative. In my own mind I'm trying to keep up with what may be happening to this well from initial 5000 bpd estimates through 30,000 bpd to 50,000 bpd and more. Looking at the Skandi ROV1 images right now - it looks pretty energetic.

Anyone wanting to view google "Skandi rov1"

My experience is the smaller grain sand is more damaging, especially in a gas well. In a gas well there is less "slip" between a smaller particle and the conveying fluid so the velocity at impact is very close to the gas velocity. The force with which the particle hits is a linear function of mass and a square function of velocity. Actual material removal rates are closer to a cube function of velocity depending on many other factors like angle of impingement, sharpness, particle rotation, material properties, etc. Velocity is the most important one at impingement angles > about 12 deg.

Somewhere else it was noted that the gas and oil coming up the riser is quite hot from the friction of all that turbulence and sand. Is that heat unexpected under normal circumstances? Would that soften the surfaces and make them more prone to this erosion? I expect the design specs call for some accomodation for the pressure and cold; could heat alter the properties of the materials or is the temperature difference too small? Again, thanks for all the great info! I need a bigger brain to hold all this stuff!

Worst Case Speculation

Unconsolidated sand is being produced and creating a cavity with ever expanding surface area. Basically a void under the cap rock. Some minor reduction in pressure over time (we are pulling over 1 million barrels out, >2 million by December when RW's get past failure points).

Void below and response to "sudden" (geological time) changing pressures results in cap rock fault. (My understanding is that this area has relatively unstable geology).

Rest of reservoir begins to migrate up.

Even 0.5% chance of this happening ?

Best Hopes for RW #1 !!


BTW, Thunderhorse is unconsolidated sand as well,

Just been reading the BP ops update:

On June 15th, a total of approximately 10,440 barrels of oil were collected and 25.1 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• Oil collection volumes were lower on June 15th due to the direct lightening strike on the Enterprise.

beam me up Scotty:-)

I really don't know what will be happening in the reservoir Alan. If they have hard over pressure - close to lithostatic, then fluid can support rock. The cap rock seal is probably pretty thick.

I am not sure how well consolidated this formation is. The sand production record from the CHOPS (which shows basically what happens when you don't try to control sand production at all) is on the graph, and it declines with time. When I talked about the rates of cutting we get, bear in mind that I was using a very small jet flow (less than 10 gpm) with a loading of around 0.6 lb/gallon of sand.

The sand size is in the 100 - 250 micron size range (which is around that you might find in the reservoir). At that size, in low concentrations it is going to be very hard to see. And even if the sand is much less concentrated in the flow (which is 50 times what we use) it may still have the same overall particle numbers hitting the surface, at the same velocity, but just over a longer time interval. So the erosion still happens, but not nearly as quickly as we achieved. Nevertheless removing the odd tenth of an inch here and there over a day or week can raise the orifice size, and since the pressure at the reservoir remains about the same, increases the overall flowrate.

The stability of wormholes is a whole different issue. I am not sure that you will get a single huge cavity, but instead the sort of then channel flows that you see with cave formations, which (as Rockman noted) are relatively stable until water shows up.

Once again, sure would be nice to see the geology of that reservoir.

i posted a link as to the geology a few days ago. No one noticed at the time.

Dave - the bottom hole diameter is 7 inch casing (I believe). Can you give us an idea of the flow velocity of 50,000 bpd through a pipe that size compared with the velocity of the water jets you have worked with over the years.

I think I have a reasonable feel for low sand content, moving fast over a prolonged period being a slow burn sand blaster. I imagine any cement lumps etc that were obstructing the well are long gone.

Did you see we had >100,000 visits yesterday?



PS I'm beginning to think they should start filling this with ball bearings and the like - its what they did on Ixtoc.

NEW ORLEANS - BP began burning oil siphoned from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday as part of its plans to more than triple the amount of crude it can stop from reaching the sea, the company said.

BP PLC said oil and gas siphoned from the well is drawn to a semi-submersible drilling rig on the ocean surface. Once that gas reaches the rig, it is mixed with compressed air, shot down a specialized boom made by Schlumberger Ltd. and ignited at sea.

It's the first time this particular burner has been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP starts burning oil siphoned from ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico

In an ideal world, an ideal nation, these clips would be broadcast front and center in every MSM venue possible.

I live in Gulf Shores Alabama. Had the petroleum smell for weeks. Like most folks, I probably keep up with a couple of hundred people's health on a ongoing basis. If one of those folks got sick, I'd know about because I would have to visit them. It is still a small town. No problems breathing or going outside. Not even from the asthmatics and elderly. If something happens I will let you know. Obermann is Colonel Hyperbole from the Makeup Stuff and Not Be Credible channel. Besides with the Admiral in charge, what's there to worry about?

"Obermann is Colonel Hyperbole from the Makeup Stuff and Not Be Credible channel."

It wasn't Obermann doing the talking so an attack on Obermann in order to discredit the information doesn't work. The information in that clip was from Dr. Ott.

I understand, but how come no one I know in my town of thousands has possible spill related symptoms. My brother is an Internist on the island. If I am wrong, he is not. He told me after church that there has been some possible aggravation of conditions, but folks just stayed inside and got better. One thing I know about doctors, when it comes to health, one MD in the field is worth five PhD's or three PhD/MD's in the lab.

As for MSNBC, come on. Madcow and Mr. Ed. Remember when Obermann had cancer? He acted like he was Yul Brenner or something. Is Worsest a word yet? This is not a liberal slam either. I think Rush is ten times worsest.

"how come no one I know in my town of thousands has possible spill related symptoms."

She's talking about people who have been up close and personal with the spill...not residents of towns that are set back from the shoreline.
I imagine one good storm that carries the oil inland will change that though.
People should be made aware of what health effects they could experience when they're surrounded by the stuff.

Well sure and there is some risk. Perhaps even great risk later. It is just that things tend to get whipped up in the press and it is just not a big issue, YET. I am sure the folks at ground zero are breathing totally different air from me, but I consider those folks professionals and they should be using equipment. I know about a half dozen beach and about 100 boat cleanup and spotter folks, no problems there, no equipment used. This is not my first assault on my body by Nature and Man, and I hope it will not be the one that gets me.

BTW Gulf Shores Alabama is at shoreline.


so you think that what Dr. Ott says is not credible and reasonable?
after all, the enourmous amount of oil gushed must be somewhere.. and the effects of this mass of hidrocarbons and benzene have to be seen somehow, in spite of the attempts to hide the information and the reality...
btw her site : http://www.rikiott.com/ is not accessible, I guess ( hope) due to server overload..(?)

No, not at all. It is just from a risk management standpoint, alligators and lighting are bigger risks. That does not give safety to ignoring the risk from respiratory issues, but rather than reacting outright, I monitor the situation and react accordingly. Dr. Ott is probably a leader in her field, but so were the guys that got us in this mess. Is she the next Dr. Frankenstein?

Have you seen this??

Those are footprints! Footprints, not more than 20 feet from the base of the BOP! What the heck is going on here??!

Simmons? Do you know his shoe size?

One can only speculate, but I think this may be a clue:


That one on the right looks more like the face of Jesus.

Those aren't real. BP's producing these videos on the same soundstage that NASA used to fake the moon landing evidence.

Nah, they already built the Mars one. They are just testing it out.

I think we need to start having ROV-watching interventions soon. It is a bad addiction and after 30 mins of staring at it all, the mind begins to play a bit.

Boa Deep C ROV Descriptions: Manifold Recovery Operations

Ocean Intervention III seems to be checking the newly added Q4000 production path for any leaks.

From previous thread, Apuleius asked

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.

This is where my comment about dilution comes in. The hydrocarbons evaporated from the surface oil mix with the atmosphere pretty quickly and become a very small part of it. So you have to run a lot of air over your catalytic convertor to destroy a tiny amount of hydrocarbon. It's analogous to the schemes out there to remove carbon dioxide from the air by artificial "trees" that would circulate air through basic solutions. The fans to provide sufficient circulation would likely make more pollution than the catalytic convertors or "trees" would destroy or collect.

Maybe some calculations later...

Not to mention the energy & pollution costs to make the catalysts in the first place.

Interview by Mac Greer at Motley Fool regarding BP liability with Prof. Noah Hall who teaches environmental and water-rights law at Wayne State University Law School.

Part 1: What You Need to Know About the Oil Spill and BP's Bottom Line

Part 2: BP and the Oil Spill: A Big Misconception and 3 Big Questions

Two more parts of the interview have not been posted yet.

Does not the flow escaping around the cap appear to have decreased now from what it was for the last few days? I have not monitored it all the time and it may be the angle, but I believe I can see more of the cap now.

We had no disagreements about anything. Everything was fine and then the rig just blew up!
Last month, Mark Hafle, BP's senior drilling engineer for the oil well that's now spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, testified in Kenner that he and his team believed they had worked in concert with a contractor to come up with the safest possible design for encasing the well with cement and steel tubing so that "all the concerns had been addressed."

But now, e-mail messages released by congressional investigators paint a different picture of Hafle's confidence in the troubled well.

They show Hafle expressed concerns in the week before the April 20 disaster on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, calling the Macondo well 5,000 feet below that rig "a crazy well."

And contrary to Hafle's testimony that his team worked with the cementing contractor, Halliburton, to analyze models and design a plan "to give us the best chance to have a successful cement job," the internal e-mail messages now show that BP actually rejected a safer plan that required installing more components because, as well team leader John Guide wrote on April 16, "it will take 10 hours to install them."


A computer model Gagliano ran on April 15 showed the BP plan would cause problems with the cement while the Halliburton suggestion would have reduced the chances of gas escaping.

But Brian Morel, the junior drilling engineer who worked with Hafle, responded to Gagliano by saying BP preferred to rely on hope than Halliburton's computer modeling: "It's a vertical hole, so hopefully the pipe stays centralized due to gravity. As far as changes, it's too late to get any more product on the rig."

That e-mail, which was also sent to Hafle, makes Hafle's testimony more than a month later at a Kenner investigative hearing before the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service curious:

"No one believed there was going to be a safety issue on that cement job," he said. "All of the risk had been addressed. All the concerns had been addressed. We had a model that suggested that if executed properly, we would be able to get a good cement job on this string of pipe."

Hafle also testified May 28 that his bosses at BP never had any plans to run a test of the well cement's strength and integrity called a cement bond log. A lawyer for rig owner Transocean confronted Hafle by saying that The Times-Picayune had reported May 19 that a team from Schlumberger was on the rig ready to do the cement bond log until BP sent them home about 11 hours before the accident. Hafle reseponded by saying, "I believe that's inaccurate."

But again, Hafle was contradicted by the records released by congressional investigators. Records from the cement bond log contractor, Schlumberger, backed up the original Times-Picayune account.


I am so relieved they are testifying under oath!

I am so relieved they are testifying under oath!


Hafle's performance -- verbal and non- -- was remarkable: crossing himself before he began; the huffy, panicky breathing his mike picked up; the way his answers grew snottier and more defensive as time went on . . . good times.


sin -- I'll add one little piece of info as to why Brian is a "junior drilling engineer". A well bore is not a vertical hole even when we describe it as such. The hole develops a cork screw configuration as it's drilled. Not a quick spiral but enough that any section of the hole will easily be a half of a foot or more of vertical plumb. And sometimes 10'. Thus a piece of csg that would normally be hanging perfectly vertical is actually up against the sides of the hole over various intervals. That's why you run centralizers: to push the csg away for the side of the bore hole so cmt can get between the csg and the rock. Someday perhaps someone will show Brian a top down view of an actual well track. On that day he might be promoted to senior drilling engineer.

A nice lesson for us, Rockman. You should charge us tuition.

Rockman rocks.

This document has the subject well bore caliper data and trajectory pages 3 thru 7 if I recall correctly.


Plse cut an old guy some slack. I can't find the place on this computer that I saved a spread sheet that showed the daily recoveries of oil plus the pressures. Does someone have that flagged? It's an excel spreadsheet if I recall. I will owe you a beer, or maybe two. Thanks.

I've seen enough documentaries that included early oil strikes to assume early this was Advantage:Oil. Though it may be easier for people to comprehend a giant rock heading for the planet, calling this a leak only trivialized the force of nature we face.
But our instincts are still primitive. If something is falling from the sky, duck. If stuff is spurting from the ground, plug it.
And the record has been great. Nothing from above has demanded we do more than get out of the way and nothing from below was too formidable to stop.
What about a volcano? Doesn't count. We didn't start it, humans can always control their on creations.
It might be a good idea for everyone to carry a copy of Newton's three laws of motion until we're out of the woods, or water in this case. And newscasts could close with a reminder: Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.

Apparently, you never learned the lesson Godzilla tried to teach us.


This can't be good:

6-story Jesus statue in Ohio struck by lightning

MONROE, Ohio – A six-story statue of Jesus Christ was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only a blackened steel skeleton and pieces of foam that were scooped up by curious onlookers Tuesday.
Travelers on I-75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.

Bishop said the statue will be rebuilt.

"It will be back, but this time we are going to try for something fireproof," she said.

It will be a way to segregate the cost of the blowout.

The cost is already in the billions before it even starts to operate.

It's a great way to segregate the stimulus cost going to the gulf.

The administration cost of the program will also need to come out of the fund.

After a hurricane, you can easily add another zero to that number.

Now that there is money going to escrow, here is what Obama should have said in his TV sermon. He should have mobilized the armada of American creativity by incentive:

This is what a real leader would have said:

"We will pay you $2,150 for every barrel of BP's spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico that you recover and deliver to Port Fourchon. We will do all the lawyering up with BP. We will cut you the check upon delivery, and we will prosecute BP for twice the reimbursement we give you up to the legal mandate of $4300/barrel. US Citizens only. BP oil only from the Blown Out Deep Water Horizon well."

Think of the entrepreneurial activity that would create. All the hotel rooms filled, restaurants at capacity, boat docks, etc. Simple American's can solve our problems. Give an incentive and get out of the way. Every skimmer in the world would be in the Gulf in 5 days... I am convinced some entrepreneurial company would figure how to "skim" underwater plumes with this incentive.

A simple mass spectrometer test at Port Fourchon will confirm it is the correct oil. Not hard technically.

that's a slam dunk. I'd have made the bargain slightly different, but you have the precise idea...

Put the market to work, and by george, the solutions will come screaming in like artillery :)

I agree ol'geezer. I'm 58 retired for 2 years, if someone were to cover my gas and put me up, I'd head to Louisiana and do the engineering and lend a hand... This is MY country darnit, my forefathers fought for it, and I am fed up with over regulation (don't let in Scandinavian Skimmers), politics (what good is a crisis if we can't use it for cap and trade) and political correctness (Obama's head of MMS who resigned in 24 hours, sheesh what a leader).

Us common folks know what needs to be done, and how to do it... Lead, follow or get the h_ll out of the way!

Come on, this is ridiculous. It's already too late for anyone to come up with some new idea and execute it in time. We're stuck with the resources we had on hand when this happened.

If we would have bought 10 of those Dutch skimmers and had plans for quick deployment, then we could have made a difference. I realize they are socialist skimmers from an over-regulated European country, but they are far better than anything we have, or bounty hunters have.

I like the idea. But more effort would probably be applied to finding a way to make fake BP oil, and sorting through fake claims.

That occurred to me but then I realized that safely aging your fake oil in the sea would be damned near impossible.

Will time lost due to reading TOD count? Put me down for five thou$.

All part of the dog and pony show. Or is that horse and pony show? Everything that took place in the meeting between Obama and Tony "I Want My Life Back" was agreed to beforehand.


Last part of statement is true. Obama said on Mon or Tues that he expected everything to be worked out to a mutual agreement by the time OB and BP met today.

Wanna bet the 'carrot' was continued contracts with the defense dep't. and keeping their license to operate in the Gulf?

A possible carrot would be a promise to slow down the momentum in Congress for removing the liability cap altogether. It is fear of unlimited liability that has caused BP's credit rating to collapse. If anybody on the Gulf can bring suit before an angry local jury and be awarded millions for headaches or panic attacks, the company has no chance to survive.

This seems like a great move by the government. It assures timely compensation for the victims and reduces the chance of fencing off liability through restructuring. It is twice the size of the extended liability bill the Democrats were pushing.

If there was a deal to cap damages at $20b, that ought to be announced rather than denied as the statement seems to do. Yes, some people would howl "bailout," but perceptions about BP's future need to be stabilized so they are still around to foot the bill. With a BB credit rating and cratered share value, they are fair game to be eated.

No deal to cap at $20billion, and no assurance that they won't get sued by everybody and his dog.

Currently the liability for damages is capped at only $75 million. I know the statement says there was no deal on a limit of $20b. But there might have been private assurances that the congressional leadership will lose its enthusiasm for removing the cap if BP ponies up.

See the discussion of liability and other exposure here:

Stupid question from a total complete non techy:

Can the oil flow itself (without sand) cause erosion?

Edit: Erosion appears to be occurring around the cut riser..

Moving gas or liquid can cause erosion. It can be just mechanical,
from molecules colliding, and some on the surface break loose, or
there could also be chemical effects, as when water causes something
to dissolve.

I'm not sure what's causing whatever you see around the cut riser, or
whether it's something to worry about.

The cut riser isn't visible unless they remove the cap... which they haven't since it was put in place almost 2 weeks ago.

It's probably nothing to worry about...

Tears -- Over a life time perhaps but not in any meaningful amount IMHO. There is another effect called cavitation and it can erode but again I think this a rather slow process compared to abrasive cutting.



The effects of cavitation - Glen Canyon Dam, 1983:


Erosion caused by cavitation in the spillway tubes began to erode the plugs in the diversion tunnels at the base of the dam and, had the high flows continued, led to base-level flow from the bottom of the reservoir emptying it and causing catastrophic downstream flooding.

Yay! Another lawyer.

OBAMA ANNOUNCES NEW MMS CHIEF - WaPo: "President Obama has selected Michael Bromwich, a partner in the law firm Fried Frank's Washington D.C. and New York offices, to head the Minerals Management Service (snip) ... has a reputation for cleaning up embattled organizations, including the Houston Police Department's crime lab. He has little past experience with oil and gas issues."

So what if he's a lawyer. What is his relevant experience and what are his skills?

He appears to have excellent qualifications for reforming and rebuilding a corrupt/inept agency. But no energy experience. Maybe an outsider is a good thing given the history and the fact that the cozy relationship between industry and regulators is one of the primary problems at MMS.

According to his resume, his practice has been concentrated on conducting internal investigations for private companies and other organizations; providing monitoring and oversight services in connection with public and private litigation and government enforcement actions; and representing institutions and individuals in white-collar criminal and regulatory matters.

From 2002 to 2008, Bromwich served as the independent monitor for the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department, focusing on use of force, civil rights integrity, internal misconduct and training issues. In 2007, Bromwich undertook a large-scale investigation of the Houston Police Department's crime lab.

I have no problem with bringing in a tough sheriff. But surely there is someone with petro experience and/or an understanding of industry-specific issues who could clean the town up.

I agree he probably should have put someone like Rockman in there.

But do not under-estimate the ability of someone with his background and skill-set to get up to speed quickly. He's building an agency that will work and have teeth, not writing the regulations. He has lots of experience fixing/evaluating broken systems.

Yes-If nobody can be found with the technical expertise and leadership /turn around experience necessary to RUN the cleanup of the agancies involved, then the boss should have a couple of sutiable industry people handcuffed to his left arm with mehaphones to shout in his ear if necessary.

syn -- In general I agree with you. The problem isn't so much technical as organizational IMHO. If he's a clever guy (and I would bet he is) I could teach him all he needed to know in a week or two. After that he would have tech consultants to advise him. IMHO the problem with the MMS has never been knowing how to oversee the offshore ops but just doing it. Just like we kid about Rockman's Inc inspectors. In truth I could take 98% of the folks on TOD and in a few weeks teach them what they needed to know to monitor safety on a DW rig. As I said before they don't need to know how to design a well plan. Just understand safe drilling practices. An easy everyday example: you don't need to be a fire chief with 30 years experience to realize that putting a gasoline can next to you NG fueled water heater in the garage is a bad idea. A clever 16 yo could tell you that. You don't needed to be an Indy car racer to know that driving 80 mph through a school zone is unsafe. I hate to ruin the illusion some may have of how brilliant the Rockman is but safe drilling practices aren't that complicated. Buckling your seat belt isn't much of a technical challenge. Nor does it cost anything. Nor does it take any time to do so. So why do so many not do it?

Thanks, RM. The appointment maybe could have been better, but at least he has the right skill set and experience to reform an corrupt agency, and maybe that is the right focus.

On that score, it is noteworthy that James Watt created MMS. Some say it was designed to cater to industry from day one.

"The unusual structure of the agency has also helped thwart efforts to overhaul it, despite its problems. Established in 1982 by Interior Secretary James G. Watt, it was created by secretarial order, not legislation, a set-up that some lawmakers said made Congress pay less attention to it.

And because it is financed by the $13 billion a year it collects in oil royalties, it largely escapes the kind of scrutiny that other regulatory bodies get in the appropriations process."


When will Rockman, Inc. begin accepting resumes?

Anyone who will demand a release all they have on Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group is fine with me. I believe they are the property of his previous employer, the executive branch of the federal government.
WoPo has enough here to make the most uncurious begging for more.
MMS may be banal compared to Dick's group.

Bloomberg: BP Swaps Rise to Record at 40% Odds of Default: Credit Markets


And now for some Congressional water boarding.

Crikey! 630 basis points on a Credit Default Swap is way, way out there. Hard for an oil company
to exist under those circumstances.

One way or t'other, this will change.

For those of us clueless about the whole financial meltdown thing, what-the-hell IS a credit default swap, anyway?

It's insurance against a default of some counterparty, usually based upon a specific bond or basket of bonds. If the bond defaults, the insurance seller makes good. The seller gets a stream of payments for issuing this guarantee.

By calling it a swap and insisting that its a derivative and not insurance, it does not get regulated like insurance.

Wiki's page is OK:


The reason this matters:

Even though BP makes lots of money, like any large oilco it needs to raise a lot of capital to conduct its normal business operations. Last year, it earned $16 billion from continuing ops, but it made $20 billion in capital investments, which it needs to do to have income in the future. In addition, at least until recently, more than half of the earnings are paid out in dividends and therefore are not available for investment. So it needs to raise capital.

To buy insurance on BP debt now costs a whopping 6.3 per cent. With the insurance, a BP bond is still not as safe as a US Treasury. (Why? Because the insurance provider might go broke, as AIG almost did.) But let's ignore that part. So to make it possible for an investor to buy a BP bond and then make it about as safe as a Treasury, BP has to pay an investor the treasury rate, about 2.1 per cent on a 5 year, plus a premium to cover the insurance cost, or 8.4 per cent all together, at least, to have any hope of selling bonds. The actual number is probably higher, but no matter. The important point is, BP's competitors can borrow for much less.

This means that BP really can't compete on major project opportunities as long as this situation persists. If it can't make new investments, then at best, its business will slowly wind down.

cud: Thanks. "BP really can't compete" You hit the key point better than I did. And the problem can become a "doom loop."

!!!! WOW!

What's the chance that that spills over into the rest of the industry?

Or is it more likely that the rest of the industry just exits the DW Gulf for an extended period till things have calmed down?

Toller/Toller: A great big fat guess. A weakened or eliminated BP will create a bigger share for the others. That's what happened when Bear Stearns, Merril Lynch and Lehman Bros. collapsed. Same pie; bigger slices. And remember BP is only the sixth largest oil co., but the largest co. in GB. "Doom loop" was limited to BP's potential financial spiral. But, if BP Deep Water was to go into uncontrolled blow out, then get under your bed.

Toller/Toller: Credit Default Swap (CDS) is basically an insurance policy. A swap is a contract. The trick here is that it is a private, unregulated contract between two private parties unlike fire or auto insurance which are regulated. In the CDS world, I could buy insurance on your house against a fire. If your house burns, I get paid. Motivation? Frequently, a CDS is purchased to insure a bond, etc. a person holds against default. So the greater the perceived risk of default in a whole lot of insurance purchasers' thinking, the more one must pay—supply and demand sort of. If your house is in a high fire area with a lousy fire department, you're gonna pay a lot for fire insurance. When the price of a BP CDSs goes up and up, more and more people (maybe huge hedge funds, banks etc.) are betting that BP will default on their debt down the road. Not. A. Good. Thing. It's a very rough guess of the perceived risk that a company is in trouble. Anyone can buy them, theoretically. And anyone can sell them, including you and me in any amount. And there's no guarantee that, if there's a default. your counter-party has the funds to pay you. That was AIG's little problem to the tune of some 90 billion of those things called dollars they owed. Bail Out! if your the largest insurance company in the whole wide world.

a credit deafault swap rate is essentially the cost to insure a company's debt...and it one of the fundamental indicators for a company's financial strenght when looked at from a financial traders prespective.....this at the instatenous represents the premium a financial institution would be placing to provide BP on a 10 million dollar line of credit or any other agreed amount to manages its daily affiars on a sort of a revolving line of credit to hedge against un-forseen expenses in the short term...

Can someone explain to me why, using a nuclear weapon to seal the well, hasn't even been mentioned (as far as my limited reading on the subject has seen)?

To my mind, one detonated about 1000ft below the seafloor, close to the damaged pipe, would melt the seafloor and seal the leak...

I'm sure you guys can explain why this hasn't been considered, and I'll realise I'm being daft...

Been considered. Check older threads.

The Russians claim to have done it, but it's reasonable to question the Russians on claims like this. Plus they haven't done it under a mile of water.

That business of melting the seafloor only appeals to those who haven't actually seen the results of nuclear weapons. The idea of solid "green glass" exists only in the comic books.

The Russians did not just detonate a nuke on top of that well as some have suggested. They detonated one in a cemented in "relief well" some 5,000 feet below the surface. Much deeper than 1,000 feet to insure the explosion did not reach the surface or release radiation.

Here is the clip of the "documentary" on that event, complete with happy music... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJWjAOHyPiI

..."valuable fuel was conserved for the economy of Mother Russia and everybody lived happily ever after." ;-) It is obviously a propaganda film, but I do not think they could have faked that footage.

It is actually pretty ingenious what they did, but even the Russians resorted to this only after every other option had been exhausted and populated areas were being threatened by poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas.

So it could work, but no-one really wants to see it done, for all sorts of scary reasons, that may or may not be realised upon detonation, and through the aftermath....

It's ok, I'll just continue reading, and try to lower the amount of daft comments I make....

It absolutely could work, but the reason that it is such a 'last resort' option is that it is also your final option so it had better work on the first try. (Not to mention the cringe factor.)

What is the only thing worse than a huge unstoppable fountain of oil gushing into the gulf? A huge unstoppable fountain of RADIOACTIVE oil gushing into the gulf!

I'm sure hurricanes would just leave all the radioactivity in the water rather than pushing it up on land too.

It might form a perfect glass seal with the rock around it. It might also form a glass plug with big rock fractures all around it. It might create a fractured glass plug, or the glass might break on cooling. It might create a porous structure from all the light elements and carbonaceous material turning to gas from the heat. It might send a glut of gas up through the rock bed. The shock waves might disrupt formations and drill holes for tens of miles around it.

You need to make a bomb that can be lowered 5000' into the ocean and probably another several thousand feet into the bed. You need a mechanism for getting the bomb into place safely for the people involved, without damaging it or prematurely detonating it by pressure or heat, and with a mechanism to detonate it when you want it to detonate.

In short, the price for getting this wrong is extraordinary, and the time involved to make certain we don't get it wrong is far greater than digging a lot of relief weels.

Can we lose this glass plug idea. Find the Nevada test site on Google Earth or Maps. What do you see, craters, why? The explosion forms a cavern which then starts to collapse. The collapse continues towards the surface. Whether it reaches there or not depends on depth, bang, strata etc. A column of fractured rock would be a perfect oil/gas conduit. Yes there would be glass down there, trinitite, but nicely broken up.

To produce a suitable bomb would take some time, a lot of time. It may need a proving shot to be sure first. Then you need a casing capable of resisting 10,000 psi. It will be big.

Now you need to put it in place. Guess what you need, a drilling rig, a drilling rig that can drill a big enough hole. The ones they use at Nevada are dry land machines, no good for ocean. Then you need to put the device down there, keep it cool so the explosive does not cook off, melt or distort and the circuits still work. After all that hope that it doesn't fizzle when you push the button. Oh, nuclear weapons are very not cheap either.

It will take longer, use more resources, have a lower success probability, a higher chance of making things a lot worse than a host of relief wells. That the Russians succeeded bears little bearing as they had very different geology using the layer of clay to tamp the well.

Now, please, can we drop the whole nuke idea.


Yes and we would trust BP with Nukes, given their stunning track record already?

Nah, if that were done, the gummint would do it.

Drilling for underground nuclear placement and stemming of the borehole is something they know how to do, although it will be a lot harder underwater.

he more I read, the more confused I get, anyway ...
Has anybody noticed that the oil coming out of the BOP has different colors? Some of it is black, and some of it has a color like the mud that was coming out during top kill. This supports the erosion hypothesis: the well is producing lots of sand & mud along with oil and gas. Intuitively, this could be due to erosion in the deposit, coming all the way up an uncompromised casing. Or it could be evidence that the casing is badly compromised somewhere down hole.

Matt Simmons is a respected investment banker, NOT an engineer. He is well known to TOD because of his extreme stand on Peak Oil. This stand put him at odds with his old firm, who need to stay on (very) good terms with the industry. Now he's gone from there. It could be because they think he's nuts, or because his public stance is too controversial for a investment firm or both.

Regardless the guy is well connected, and may have access to information not circulated in the media.

His recent pronouncements have been very confusing, but seem to come true right after he makes them. BP is now admitting the casing may be compromised, and there may be leaks on the sea floor. The Thomas Jefferson has found huge oil plumes, in very low concentrations. That doesn't sound "lakes of oil on the sea floor", but what they found is similar and very disturbing.

Some 8th grade math ...
a slick of 10,000 sq mi .001" thick points to a continuous leak for 60 days of about 70,000 bbl/d, add all that oil under water, and his 120,000 bbl/d might be right. If the BOP is producing less than that, then where is the rest of it coming from?

When the DWH sank, the riser was bent and crimped off reducing flow, and increasing pressure. If the down hole casing was damaged in the blowout, this pressure could have frac'd weak rock layers and connected to crack systems or an abandoned well bore. If the casing went through really unconsolidated sand layers, couldn't it have buckled sideways, with multiiple sections of pipe going off in all directions into the sand? This would create a large cavity, where oil would build up and seek any escape route available. LOOK AT THE RUSSIAN VIDEO BELOW FOR HOW THIS REALLY HAPPENS!

BP should have been removed from managing this a long time ago. All they manage is their image. There are ridiculous conflicts in having them in charge. Crucial information is not getting to the people who need it to plan the clean up. Come on Barack, this isn't that hard. You need a commission of industry experts, and a few scientists (like Feinman in the Challenger investigation), and THEY hire the right guy to manage the well, another guy to handle the clean up, and others to consider contingencies in case of a hurricane, or in case they can't shut this thing down, and the relief wells don't work.
Contractors are doing all the work anyway, and the gov can hire the exact same people along with many more. They have all been complaining BP won't let them do their job. This is how you fix that. With the new escrow account you can pay everybody.

NOTE: the relief wells are perfect for the nuclear option. You stop drilling 100 ft (+/-) from the existing bore, and blow the nuke crushing the well bore closed. You don't need to turn it into glass, just smash it shut for a few 100 ft. It's not trivial, but there is a great video showing how the russians did this:


NOTE: the side vents that sprung up 100's of yards from the original well!

Earlier in this thread, some snotty comments were made about Palin (but aren't ALL comments about Sarah Palin snotty?) and the Dutch skimmers. Overlooked in that was this however:

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

Palin was right, an environmental catastrophe that could have been mitigated, stopped by bureaucrats in the EPA.

Earlier in this thread, some snotty comments were made about Palin (but aren't ALL comments about Sarah Palin snotty?) and the Dutch skimmers. Overlooked in that was this however:

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

Palin was right, an environmental catastrophe that could have been mitigated, stopped by bureaucrats in the EPA.

"aren't ALL comments about by Sarah Palin snotty?"


Nothing in the sources provided for that article leads to the conclusions reached in the article. And Palin referred to the Dutch expertise in windmills and dikes.

News article on ecological impacts of Ixtoc I blowout:

$500 MILLION to STUDY the pollution in the gulf?

How much of this money will go towards fuel to travel around the gulf and collect samples and labor to analyze them


How much to fund trips to five star hotels for conferences, for lobbyist dinners with Congressmen, and fuel for the Greenpeace ship to head to the Gulf for publicity?

What is there to study? You don't need to be a genius to realize that oil spills are bad. But I guess you need to be one to realize you're better off putting hundreds of millions towards improving BOP design, concrete plug process control technology, and deepwater oil collection equipment that funding more "studies".

During Mark Halfe's testimony, he is asked if they should have set the top plug before circulating mud out of the riser. He said "No." And he was aksed if the failure to do so increased the risk. He responded, "I don't know. No."

Is he playing games here or is that a credible, legitimate answer from an engineer on that issue?

Heading Out,

Can you elaborate more on what 'second LMRP cap" you were talking about. I tried to follow up on this and could not find anything except one article that confused a 'second cap' with direct connect flow they just established using the choke/kill line.

they'll replace the current cap with a new, heavier duty version
when they move to the floating riser setup (so they can disconnect/reconnect faster/easier if/when a hurricane comes by).

latest tech update video from June 10th:
The new cap + system is explained starting at 5:55
Pic of one of 3 designs of the new 75 ton cap "overshot tool" at 10:11

(Find these at BP->"response in video")

but there's a pic of the new cap "overshot tool" under construction at 10:54
explanation starts at 9:22
in this tech update video from May 31:

Note they've changed plans to have two risers from the new heavy cap.

I'm a land surveyor -- and not a Registered "harpedonapata" either, just a mere crew chief -- a field monkey. Not an engineer, so most of your vernacular is Greek to me. :) But I have learned a good deal by lurking on this great site, and I have a question. I've looked up what info I can about flow rate... What is the likelihood of cavitation coming into play here? I ask because a poster linked to a video of an ROV filming discharge from a fissure whose UTM coordinates did not match those of the accident site.
I know very little about hydrology, so ROCKMAN's plain-English explanation about erosion helped, but seems to be (and I assert this humbly) a possibly inadequate explanation insofar as concerns the continually escalating number of bd that BP keeps giving the press. My concern is that there could be a NG bubble miles below strata, ready to violently erupt once the pressure balance is favorable to such an eruption.
Or is my tin foil hat on too tight? :D

The video of something leaking from something that isn't a BOP is of a storage tank or some other piece of equipment from the sunken rig. Keep in mind, there are some people who claim in all seriousness that when the ROVs are idle or otherwise offline (showing color bars/other) is actually BP blocking the feed so we can't see what they are really doing down there.

Thanks comfychair, but perhaps I should have been more precise. This is the video I referenced:

It is leaking from the seabed, not from a storage tank or other piece of equipment, in my humble estimation.
Could this be due to simple erosion, linear cavitation, or both? Or something else entirely?

Again, thanks for the input.

The more I look at this, the more it seems like the ROV has moved onto a flat piece of junk and is compressing it and some stuff is emerging from an edge, and then a lot of silt gets kicked up as it moves off.

I hope desperately that's the case.
Otherwise there's a slim chance the conspiracy folks like Lindsey Williams are correct.
RE: http://www.infowars.com/may-levels-of-toxic-gases-in-gulf-back-up-claim-...
Even though that guy's delivery of the info IMO is meant to scare, I still wonder.
<< tightens tinfoil hat, just in case >>

"Pastor Williams said his sources report the level detected in the Gulf at 1,200 ppb." Uh, where in the Gulf? I have no doubt that being surrounded by the stuff could be toxic.

Yeah, IDK the *current* concentrations of those toxins. Some people were saying that those toxins -- methylene chloride, benzene, and hydrogen sulfide -- would kill millions if a hurricane sweeps them this way, which is doubtful.
A hurricane rotates widdershins, so given that if a hurricane forms and heads N.NW of the GoM it could possibly sweep some oil in that direction. But gaseous toxins? How diluted would they be *if* they got there at all?
Still, the fact remains that those chemicals are being released. Hourly. The longer the leak remains, the more hazardous this may become.
I just hope the oil doesn't make it to Tampa's desalinization plant and clog the pipes, forcing them to shut it down.
Or to the nuclear plant +/-30 miles north of Tampa, which uses seawater to aid in cooling operations. Those poor folks potentially could lose power and water service.

Though not shown in use, this is a C-SPAN vid of Dutch skimmer arm onboard the Seacor Washington moored at Port Fourchon & readying for deployment-


Our company, QuatraS specializes in "oil spill recovery". We use Patented Sorbent and Encapsulation Technology which makes cleanup simple, effective, and affordable. But best of all, the oil can be collected and BURNED at 16-18K BTU! The ability to collect oil is one thing... the ability to collect it and re-cycle it is another. We hope to get a chance to demonstrate this publicly very soon. We welcome volunteers from all sectors, both public and private to take part in this much needed resource. Learn more about it on our blog at www.quatrasonline.com.

Off topic, I've no doubt, and I apologise for it, but I had to get something off my chest.

Have just listened to the post-Presidential statement from BP. "We care about the small people," said the chairman of BP.

That, I think, is the most illuminative statement I've heard so far in this debacle.

I'd love to have been there and been able to ask him, "Just who, Sir, do you consider to be the "small people"?

*These people* have spent too long looking down on the rest of us from their corporate jets, imo.

Again, sorry if I'm way off topic.

Yeah, that word really thunked, didn't it? Maybe just the awkwardness of a non-native English-speaker, but an unfortunate adjective in any case.

I bristled at that as well, but chalked it up to english not being his native language so he didn't have command of the politically correct term (whatever that is- "man on the street", "working class", "most vulnerable"?).

Clearly, Obama talked to him about keeping those folks in mind as they made decisions. You don't have to be rich as this guy (and Obama) to think about it that way, do you?

I'm still very concerned that BP isn't getting credit for taking responsibility and trying to expeditiously pay claims- leadership is based on trust, and often the best thing a good leader can do is find something being done right and highlight it so people know what "right" looks like. I hope we don't find ourselves thinking "right" means the government taking care (or attempting to take care) of every problem.

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams

I think he is referring to "height-challanged" individuals when he speaks of the small people. The rest of us, the not-small people, he does not care a lick about.

BP's setting aside $100 million to pay laid-off rig workers and won't pay dividends the rest of this year.


Here is the scary 5hit everybody was afraid of.
Oil seeping through the rocks recorded by one of the rovers


Hope they solve this mess

I don't think it's all that clear as to what we're seeing there. ROV could be on top of a piece of junk compressing it a bit.

Would anyone know (TinFoilHatGuy?) why the number of Coast Guard vessels involved in the spill is classified information? I heard it on the news last night. It makes no sense. Talk about transparency.

I don't know if it really is classified or not, but if it is, I would guess that since the coast guard still has many other duties it is responsible for, several of which relating to national security and drug enforcement, it does not want "the wrong element" to find out what percentage of its resources have been redeployed for this operation.

Maybe too much secrecy, but that would be the likely justification for it, and not necessarily a bad thing.

It'd be a smuggler's holiday. The CG is military. You never tell anyone how, where, or how many/much of your military resources are deployed.

Grateful bows to each and every one of you. Could you, merehuman, post the link to the geology of the formation once again. Many thanks.

This was posted by BIGMOOSE upthread a ways:

This document has the subject well bore caliper data and trajectory pages 3 thru 7 if I recall correctly.


http://www.utdallas.edu/~rjstern/pdfs is the link to the geology. Hope i did it right. Link came from utuber henningkemner. he had some other good links as well.

I posted this yesterday

The gamma ray looks persuasive, 60 ft pay. Something bugs me about that. Original well plan was to drill to 20,000 ft. Lost circulation zone above stopped them from continuing, and improvised the long tapered liner for "production keeper." Okay, fine, I follow all that, but what if the big pay was at 19,000 and overbalanced mud fractured the seal between logged pay and much bigger HPHT reservoir below it?

Glad we have some data (finally) but I'd like to see the whole well and a dipmeter.

Obama Names Five for Spill Commission

JUNE 14, 2010, 7:43 PM ET

President Barack Obama named five additional people to his BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission today, choosing at least two people with an environmental bent for the panel.

The commission is to investigate what caused the spill, the safety of offshore drilling and federal regulations, among other things. Its report is due in six months.

Two of the members have established credentials with the environmental community.

Frances Beinecke is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group in Washington. Donald Boesch, a native of Louisiana, is president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. He wrote that the spill may be part of “the winds of change” on oil and energy policy in a piece for The Washington Post on May 6.

“The impacts of the oil and gas extraction industry (both coastal and offshore) on Gulf Coast wetlands represent an environmental catastrophe of massive and underappreciated proportions,” he wrote. “Offshore drilling is clearly not risk-free, particularly when fail-safe blowout preventers fail. And, as the Deepwater Horizon blowout demonstrates, even though the risk may be low, the consequences may be quite high when drilling in very deep waters.”

He also said the nation should “be redoubling our efforts to get off oil.”

In an interview before she was named to the panel, Beinecke said she had lobbied the White House to appoint an independent commission to investigate the spill and hoped the panel would look carefully at the future of oil drilling policy, which Obama had expanded not long before the spill began. Her group also supported the moratorium on deepwater drilling and the cancellation of pending leases in Alaska.

“Our focus was on how do we figure out what happened, how to ensure we do take a pause and reverse direction of government policy that was sort of heading down a very different road,” she said.

The other side of the spectrum may be represented by Frances Ulmer, chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. A Democrat, she also served as lieutenant governor of the state. Like most politicians in Alaska, she supported opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, though during a 2002 unsuccessful campaign for governor, she was accused of being insufficiently supportive of the effort.

Also named were Terry D. Garcia, executive vice president for mission programs for the National Geographic Society, who worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the Clinton administration, and Cherry A. Murray, dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

“These individuals bring tremendous expertise and experience to the critical work of this commission,” Obama said in a statement. “I am grateful they have agreed to serve as we work to determine the causes of this catastrophe and implement the safety and environmental protections we need to prevent a similar disaster from happening again.”

The panel is being chaired by former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat, and William K. Reilly, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Republican President George H.W. Bush.

If the oil industry thinks the panel is tipped against them, they aren’t complaining too loudly. “The president has the right to put anyone on his commission that he wants,” said Cathy Landry, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group for oil companies. “We trust they will seek out the cause of the spill.”


Lemmie see now, how many of these folks are petroleum engineers?

OK, so how many of them are engineers?

Well then, how many of them are technical people?

From http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/06/scientists-get-seats-o...

Two prominent scientists will serve on the presidential commission tasked with investigating the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident and recommending ways to deal with future oil spills.

Cherry Murray, the dean of Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is a condensed matter physicist who has also had high-level leadership roles at Lucent Technologies and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has broad experience in coastal ecoystems, including the impact of oil drilling.


Can you see where this is headed? Obama suspended deepwater drilling until he gets some recos from his commission on May 21st, then goes and plays golf and plays with Paul McCartney and flies around the country a time or two, then he finally names the commission ALMOST A MONTH LATER.

Can you see this group looking at drawings and logs and such and coming up with a "Ah-HAH! That is what caused the blowout! Why if we just do this and that, we can commence deepwater drilling again."?

I can't either . . . this looks bad.

This kinda looks like what would happen if you had a buncha engineers try and figure out what went wrong with Murfa's botched gall bladder operation.

BTW, the Executive Order creating this commission (reference http://tinyurl.com/2btuh3c ) says

The members shall be drawn from among distinguished individuals, and may include those with experience in or representing the scientific, engineering, and environmental communities, the oil and gas industry, or any other area determined by the President to be of value to the Commission in carrying out its duties.

Anybody see any engineers? Anybody see anybody from the Oil and Gas business? We got plenty of environmental scientists, bureaucrats, and political hacks, however.

If I had any stocks exposed to deepwater drilling in the GOM, I would sell 'em . . .

James -- While I doubt the president and I share similar views on a variety of social issues I've been sympathetic to his situation. No president is prepared to deal with such a situation especially on a technical level. But I'm very disappointed to see the makeup of the commission as you've described. IMHO there should be a full blown environmental commission documenting in great detail the environmental nightmare going on in the GOM. Perhaps even an economic commission to detail the plus and minuses of continued offshore oil/NG development. And there should be a very tech savvy commission studying what went wrong on the well. IMHO an ecologist has no more business involved in that study then a drilling engineer being involved in evaluating the impact on the La. marshes. In either case it seems almost certain to hurt the credibility of both such efforts. There are dozens of skilled university professors in Gulf Coast petroleum engineering departments who could have been selected and thus give the appearance of non-industry bias. But if you wanted the commission to really rip BP an extra butt hole put some top drilling engineers from Chevron or ExxonMobil on the commission and just sit back and watch the bloodshed. I know I wouldn't be a good choice because I'm sure I would have to literally bitch slap the first BP hand that started to throw some BS at me. I'm all for inclusion but only when it aids the process and not distract from the goal.

rockman, rarely do i disagree with you. Mainly because I ain't no engineer. But in this case you need to reframe. this ain't just about finding out what went wrong. i agree the engineers will do the best job on the task of finding out what went wrong. . but a much greater task is at hand and that is the very future of DW drilling in the GOM. I once ran a project on a major water resources project in Florida. I was given 1 million to spend. I gave half to the engineers and half to the ecologist types. The results were not even close. The ecologist, who included many folks with engineering backgrounds were much more effective in modeling the whole system and developing solutions addressing all the competing interests involved. The result was the removal of much of the work originally designed and constructed by engineers, who mistakenly believed rainfall which averaged 55 inches/yr came throughout the year. truth is that Florida does receive an average of 55 inches/yr, but most of it comes during the hurricane season. Yep they, the engineers, proved they could drain off the excess during the wet season, but the place burned up during the dry season. No, this effort needs a multi-disciplinary approach. Ecologist, lawyers, geologist, hydrologist, etc. should all be involved. I am going to recommend the committee call you for testimony however, because one of the Chairpersons of the committee is a friend of mine who i worked with for many yrs. Practice your smile, cause you gonna be on TV. By the way, the five wide inch wide tie is no longer in style. But you can bring your slide rule.

Yes. What Rube said.

We need many more viewpoints and much more expertise than any single discipline can provide. The decisions that need to be made are decisions for all of us, not just investors or engineers or rig workers, or... We really, truly, *all* have skin in this game.

(I don't like disagreeing with rockman, either—cuz I have inadequate background, he's usually right, and those oilpatch guys are kinda scary.)

rube -- I think you missed my point. More simply: how much time would you want the environmentalist on the president's commission to spend on redesigning BOP's? Conversely, would you want a drilling engineer to determine max safe benzene levels in the food chain? I respectfully disagree: there is not one "greater task at hand". There are multiple great tasks at hand. I think that by trying to cover them all under one big tent will diminish the outcome. In particular, I think the environment would be the ultimate big loser in such a tossup. You may not have seen my earlier posts on the subject but I have absolute faith that once the real pain of PO kicks in the American people will sacrifice the environment, our military and what's left of our national dignity/pride to maintain BAU as best as possible. The environmentalists on the commission may seem like the big dog in the fight initially but when gasoline hits $7/gallon they'll be chained to the doghouse and whipped if they so much as whine IMHO.

"I have absolute faith that once the real pain of PO kicks in the American people will sacrifice the environment, our military and what's left of our national dignity/pride to maintain BAU as best as possible."

Oh, yes, and that's the optimistic view. ;^(

But the double-triple-quadruple-dip Great Recession is keeping the energy market relatively soft, and is reasonably likely to continue to do so while much of the commission's work is done—and while the pain and ugliness of the New Black Plague (the Chocolate Mousse Plague?) remains visible and/or is vividly remembered.

The environmentalists may well get their moment before being burned at the stake as heretics.

Yup, but what you just said is an assumption. Unfortunately, in the short run you are probably correct in this assumption. greed, and the non negational way of life, is at the root of many of our decisions. But i choose to hold out hope that at some point folks will realize the enormous free services provided by our natural systems are too valuable to put in jeopardy. Surely you know that we have a serious "reserve replacement problem" and that sooner or later it is just not going to be economically viable to extract from areas where the costs exceed benefits. IMO we are nearing that point. This hemorrhage in the GOM is costing much more than anticipated. Sure it was a human error. But, that makes it all the less probable that we can develop a totally fail safe process for drilling in these hostile environments. Did you watch the testimony by the EXXON CEO yesterday when he had to agree with the question about 100 percent certainty? Every time we drill in this environment there is a chance, even though small, that there will be a serious problem. I am very depressed about this whole thing and not thinking clear. But I can tell you if this thing is not stopped soon and cleaned up, millions of humans will pay a price, and that does not include the billions of members of our fellow creatures, who are paying with their very lives. No, I hope a real cost/benefit analysis is produced by this commission and folks can get a real appreciation for what is at stake. Sooner or later we are going to have to get along with a lot less. The TOD has posted many articles over the past few years suggesting and discussing ways to make the transition. I believe this tragic event may just serve as the catalyst for changing our assumptions. But i could be wrong because i used belief and assumption in the same sentence. Please forgive. Regards.

rube -- you need to double your hopes for my account, please. In my youth I got to see first hand what (or who) our society is willing to sacrifice if it suits its purposes. My hopes were burned to the ground a long way from the GOM. Like they say: "Fool me once..."

Memmel concluded on of his posts several weeks ago with this sentence. "How on earth does this tree hugging hippy flower child economy utterly destroy our current cold bastard ruthless polluting system ? " The answer is I don't know, but I been searching for it for years and will not quit until.....

Nice talking to you Rockman.

Good hunting rube. but damn...did you have to use my name in the same post as memmel. Now I feel like I need a shower.

Hey Mike...how u doin? long time since we chatted. You not into all this death and destruction?

Aahhh - I understand. Somebody else who thinks it will have to be economic.

rube: Every time I read your posts I am about 1% less cynical... at least for the moment... which is good.

Thanks EL
Remember, ""The glass ceiling is in you. The glass ceiling is conscience."
—Jacob Holtzbrinck, The Keys to the Planet

If what they are doing is trying to boil the ocean - I gotta agree with you. It may make sense to have one oversight committee with multiple task forces working.

And yeah - I think that if the $$ of gas gets high enough, people are gonna flip back the other way hell-or-be-damned. I don't really see this event causing all that many people to get religion.

And it already looks like we are going into another cold war over energy even as it is, sometimes.

I have to agree.

The mission of the commission is supposed to be:

Sec. 3. Mission. The Commission shall:

(a) examine the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster;

(b) develop options for guarding against, and mitigating the impact of, oil spills associated with offshore drilling, taking into consideration the environmental, public health, and economic effects of such options, including options involving:

(1) improvements to Federal laws, regulations, and industry practices applicable to offshore drilling that would ensure effective oversight, monitoring, and response capabilities; protect public health and safety, occupational health and safety, and the environment and natural resources; and address affected communities; and

(2) organizational or other reforms of Federal agencies or processes necessary to ensure such improvements are implemented and maintained.

(c) submit a final public report to the President with its findings and options for consideration within 6 months of the date of the Commission's first meeting.

Reference: http://tinyurl.com/2btuh3c

So why so many enviro-wackos and washed-up politicians on the commission?

If you want to know the root cause of the accident, you need to dig into the logs, data, design, procedures and the like. That is a technical exercise. If I was on the commission, I would want BP or the government or whoever to pull the BOP for forensic investigation, once the relief wells have stopped the flow. They should probably treat the well and perhaps the sunken rig as a crime scene.

The corrective actions, IMHO, involve not in the response to a big spill, but making sure the probability a big spill is driven down to one in 1000 years or less through better equipment, testing, training, quality assurance programs and the like - the same as in the nuclear industry. In the nuclear industry, no body worries about how to clean up a large release of radioactivity . . . the emphasis is making damn sure that it does not occur.

It is clear to me that there was inadequate oversight of the activities by Registered Professional Engineers.

In some ways, the scope of the commission is too broad. There are several issues that need to be addressed, IMHO.

*) What happened?

*) How to we make sure it is very unlikely to ever happen again?

*) How do we clean up this mess?

It is pretty obvious to me that a spill of this magnitude is unacceptable from many standpoints: Environmental, Economic, and Health and Safety. It isn't worth a lot of time worrying about how to mitigate big spills in the future . . . the time should be spent in prevention.

james -- And I'll push the same point out again and risk boring folks. First, THE BIG IF I always feel obligated to offer. But IF we have the details more or less correct it should take the committee no more than two weeks to come up with a final report on the accident. And that includes detailed fixes that would greatly reduce the chance of such event happening again. And the two weeks include long lunches and multiple Blue Bell ice cream breaks. The basic procedures were badly flawed and even more poorly executed. I understand that. About 99.9 % of the oil patch knows it. Many of us have had such fools as BP almost kill us in the past by making the exact same poor decisions. And some of more than once. My worse potential near death experience occurred about 7 years ago when a DW GOM operator made a decision which makes the BP actions look good. The well didn't blow out but that was pure luck.

This is one big reason I would compartmentalize the commission. The environmental impact of the blow out is much more complicated and much more pressing IMHO. After that would be dealing with the economic impact on the folks in the Gulf Coast. The third would be fixing the drilling situation offshore. I think the first two goals are huge complicated tasks. The last...not so much.

JRW, "Root causes" of disaster. Why are we drilling for oil in these hostile environments? Answer, "reserve replacement problem." You know PEAK OIL! What does that mean? Sounds to me like an excellent opportunity to include a edifying discussion. But, Rockman is probably correct, the commission will probably just look with a very narrow focus. You know, kinda like Obama did last evening. Think i will pour a stiff drink.

"I know I wouldn't be a good choice because I'm sure I would have to literally bitch slap the first BP hand that started to throw some BS at me."

WOW! ROCKMAN is the man. I feel the same way although I do worry that I may have to work for him one day. I guess I'll have to keep my BS quotient way down so I don't get bitch slapped.

The problem with the Blue Ribbon committee and the Congressional hearings, is that those folks on the panels don't know when smoke is being blown up their collective asses. How do we get any good to come from this disaster and how do we make this moratorium worth anything if the people doing the investigations don't had the credentials and the industry knowledge to regulate or repair our processes and equipment? I don't see these guys making us safer.

wildman -- I know what you mean. I've got a long enough list of companies that wouldn't use me ever again. Fortunately I wouldn't be willing to work for any of them either. At 59 yo I still have a few more bridges I can burn then I need to reach my final destination: the sweet release that comes with death. LOL.

You can burn a lot more bridges in the next ten years. I know... but it's more fun the older you get. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

It seems that the "professionals" who created this mess (under lax supervision and unenforced regulations), already can't get this fixed. How many days in are we? How many schemes have they tried? How transparent were they? Why are BP and the USG asking for ideas? That said, the problem is no longer confined to the area of the leak — it's already all up in the bays and marshes. Are you suggesting that an industry engineer knows what to do about any of this? If you owned stocks exposed to drilling for oil in the GoM, I'd agree you should sell them ASAP. Until the cost of this debacle is known, any venture into oil development in the region will be operating under the expectation of ruin, should they screw up. That's how it ought to be, and if it stops this from happening again, so be it.

BTW: Why don't you own any stocks such as you mentioned?

I got this from a friend of mine.

I received a disturbing email revelation from a neighbor and sent it to another neighbor (who is a retired geological engineer who worked for XXXXX for 37 years on 5 continents) to get his opinion. Read below to see the real nightmare…

The brown stuff coming out of the well plume is sediment, and sediment is erosive.

When it started the well was probably making 2-5000 BOPD.

As the hole enlarged (downhole) from the sediment being blown out, the flow rate increased (D'Arcies' Radial Flow formula).

The whole casing system has been eroded and compromised.

For a couple of weeks now I have come to believe that they will not be able to kill the well with one or even two relief wells. The downhole cavern is now bigger than the Twin Towers, and the ability to pump heavy mud fast enough given the viscosity and Reynolds number of heavy mud without bursting the casing won't be there.

Sea-floor cratering of the well head is possible and I believe that is the next event.

The obvious procedure is to get those Saudi and Dutch scoop-up tankers in place and just start scooping the oil up as it comes out at the surface, after building BIG containment booms around the surface area, and wait it out. It might take a couple of years before the well bridges over and seals itself. Meanwhile 50 million barrels could be produced. Sell your BP stock.

By the way, BP only has 65% of the well; Anadarko has 25% and Mitsui has 10%.

I'll deny anything I said here.

While I think this is highly unlikely, it would be interesting to know exactly what is coming out of the leak, and if they are getting any solids collected at the surface. Any comments?

For a couple of weeks now I have come to believe that they will not be able to kill the well with one or even two relief wells. The downhole cavern is now bigger than the Twin Towers, and the ability to pump heavy mud fast enough given the viscosity and Reynolds number of heavy mud without bursting the casing won't be there.
Sea-floor cratering of the well head is possible and I believe that is the next event.

What is the upside for anyone with a hint of 'need to know' not revealing that horror as soon as the secret is out, anywhere (as in this forum)?
Are they rehearsing shock and surprise or planning on hiding it?

Many urban legends germinate from a shred of truth. So, what sort of information should be demanded that may be less than flattering but better than the above?
Are the big brains here satisfied with data they are getting about the netherworld?

At a White House briefing on Wednesday, Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, the national incident commander, said that BP’s is developing a new production system that “will get us to 80,000 barrel capacity” by the end of July.


What happened to the relief wells that were supposed to cap this runaway gusher by the end of July--?

Ooops -- I got my answer way above and did not get a notice. Sorry, this is a redundant post and I would delete it if I could

Again sorry for the re-post of old news

In a Congress hearing yesterday a Congressman stated that Mobile, Exxon, Shell and BP were all using the same oil cleanup company should a leak occur. Now that this lone company is devoting 100% of its capacity to try and clean up BP’s mess what are the other oil companies going to do if they too get an unexpected leak--?

food for thought

In general the oil companies all pay into non profit companies such as MSRL in Europe or (i believe) MSRC in the US, other such companies exist around the world. Oil companies can be full members or affiliate members. Oil spill capability is not usually held in house except for the equipment to deal with fairly small spills. the size of this disaster shows that this policy is inadequate for such a catastrophe. There are other specialist spill companies but the number of skilled technicians is not huge worldwide. i imagine that the majority of them are now all employed in the GOM.

Betting that BP is hoping that something works that can be patented and sold...(not that I'm saying that's a bad thing).

Aren't you using the same fire department as your neighbor? Should you double their size? Or get your own firetruck?

I'm sure these companies manage their capacity based on history from the many spills that have happened, and have the ability to flex it up as needed.

I'm surer that they do a better job of it than would BP or the government.

"Aren't you using the same fire department as your neighbor? Should you double their size? Or get your own firetruck?"

That depends upon the likelihood of fire, the potential consequences and the projected and or demonstrated capability of the fire department (together with other factors), doesn't it?

"I'm sure these companies manage their capacity based on history from the many spills that have happened, and have the ability to flex it up as needed."

Why are you sure of that? Does the evidence of the past two months support that assertion?

"I'm surer that they do a better job of it than would BP or the government."

Why are you "surer" of that?

First time poster, I'll keep it brief. This posting is more theraputic for myself. I've been following this site for a few years, but have only become addicted since this catastrophe...gotta stop to try to figure out the future with this one.

In any case, if you're interested, here's what I've written about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:

The Last March of the Ents and Oil.

Thanks for all the difficult and professional work found here on TOD.

For decades the role of the president hasn't been to rule. The 'ruling' part is reserved for those people/groups who actually have power. For example, the 'class' that owns the weatlh of the country.

The role of the president is a semi-religious, ideological one, almost like a highpriest. Primarilly he makes speeches that express and articulate the attitudes and interests of the ruling elite, the corporations, who, after all choose the candidates that ordinary people are allowed and encouraged to vote for. In this 'democratic' system the people have a small degree of influence, but no real power, that, is reserved for those with massive economic interests.

Obama is a weak president because he deliberately undermined his own independent powerbase and told his supporters to 'stand down' after the election rather than mobilizing them further in order to push through his policies and apply pressure on the legislature. Obama didn't want any real 'people power', which after all, is what democracy is supposed to be about, he preferred more busines as usual; the corporate control of the state and the entrenchment of anti-democracy.


As you probably know, an American president is also Commander in Chief of all armed forces. That gives him a great deal of executive power. Furthermore, simply by declaring a national emergency a U.S. president instantly gets essentially wartime powers. In essence, that is what FDR did during the Great Depression and even moreso during American participation in World War II. Thus each U.S. president is potentially a dictator; some accuse FDR of being an actual dictator, but I think that accusation is stretching the truth.

In terms of stopping the blow out, what do you think the government could do that BP is not already doing?

I don't think any government or anybody else can do a better job than BP is now doing to stop the blowout. On the other hand, I think decisive action by the U.S. government (including declaration of a national emergency) could do a great deal more than is now being done to protect the Gulf coast from the spill and also to clean up what mess is already there.

Euan Mearns on June 16, 2010 - 2:49pm, "In terms of stopping the blow out, what do you think the government could do that BP is not already doing?"

Dear Euan,
It seems to me it's not so much about what BP is doing, it's more about drawing clear lines between the corporate and public authority in a time of crisis. I know many people have issues of government over-reaching, but given BP's reputation, longterm accountability and the overwhelming nature of this disaster, I think most rational people would agree, a little FDR-like dictatorship, putting these multi-national mega-corporations in their place, would be a breath of fresh air about now. Although it's clear, Obmam ain't no FDR.

That's a keeper. Best description of how things are I've heard in a long time.

Re Don Sailorman: Obama uses his commander-in-chief authority to carry out the wishes of his ruling class bosses.

Re Euan Mearns: Obama can't do anything to stop the blowout. His job is to help his ruling class bosses profit from it.

For the Rock's of the world who don't have time to read the docs...

Fracture Zone Measured Depth 18305.0 ft
Fracture Zone Gradient 0.779 psi/ft
Fracture Zone Density 15.00 Ib/gal
Fracture Zone Pressure 14255 psi
Reservoir Measured Depth 18200.0 ft
Reservoir Pore Pressure 13197 psi
Reservoir Zone Gradient 0.726 psi/ft
Reservoir Zone Density 13.97 Ib/gal
Back Pressure 0 psi
Height - Mud Line to Mean Sea Level 4992.0 ft
Height - Mean Sea Level to Rotary Kelly Bushing 75.0 ft
Sea Water Density 8.54 Ib/gal
Returns To Surface
Simulator Volume Increment 5.00 bbl
Surface Iron Displacement 0.41 bbl
Shoe Track Length 189.0 ft
Additional Pressure to Seat Plug 500 psi
Eccentricity Enhanced Calculations No
Erodibility Enhanced Calculations Yes
Mud Erodibility Measured Depth 17168.0 ft
Mud Erodibility Number 20.69
Mud Required Shear Stress 29.00 Ibf/(100*ft2)

Most of the hole is 'relatively' straight (<1 degree per station - stations look to average about 130'). However - in zone of sidetrack deviation is 6 - 9% over about 800'.

(i used to have a life.....).

Thanks toll...much appreciated. Now go out there and get a life. LOL

The reason all the oil companies plans looked like cut and pase is that they essentiaal are the same. Rely on the same group of people who have the big stocks of dispersant and the airplanes to deliver it. Send in technicians to direct efforts and employ locals to supply labour and boats etc.
This policy has worked pretty well in the past when spills have been finite, as with the various tanker spills. I have seen the risk assessments for a disaster of this nature but have to say that the reality makes them look like 'cross yor fingers and hope for a quick fix'

Re/ the "small people" blunder.

Non-native speaker rookie mistake.

In most Indo-European Languages (German, Dutch, Swedish, etc), you have an expression like "die kleinen Leute" -- the little people aka the guy on the street, working stiffs etc. He did a literal translation into English, and unfortunately, it came out sounding rather bad.

I'm sure somebody will be sufficiently sorry about in the next few days.

Just get into the "I am sorry" conga line...

Thanks for the tutorial, blonderengel. I imagine Brother Svanberg can expect some emails beginning, "Lissen here, ya dern Swedish cracker . . . " -- but probably just as many thanking him for muzzling Brother Hayward (who lacks the excuse) today.

Friend of mine just emailed:

Shorter BP: "And we’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky dwarfs and munchkins that make up what used to be the American middle class!"

Are there any photos of the Q4000's Evergreen Burner in action yet? I would like to see that.

BP Trades as Junk, Credit-Default Swaps Invert: Credit Markets


Big ouch.

Their stock was up only about 1.4% today, despite the news of the escrow agreement. I don't think the markets are buying that as a limitation-of-liability move.

From the Bloomberg story EL linked:

Debt investors are losing confidence in London-based BP as the company fails to contain the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. BP said June 7 it has spent $1.25 billion, or about $27 million a day, related to the accident. Credit Suisse Group AG estimated the cost may reach $37 billion.

"JUNK." Now that's a scary word. Where's the old Michael Milken when we realy need him?

Edit: Junk shot?

Michael was here, in San Francisco, yesterday, at a Giants game, raising tons of money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which he's been doing for a long time, now. He seems to be an example of the possibility of rehabilitation.

Ran up 3% immediately after the announcement, then fell back. The action could have nothing whatsoever to do with the general stock market because of all the BP-specific factors, but afternoon pullbacks have been pretty typical generally.

wasn't there a time when people who thought that BP's liability would be in excess of 10BN were considered wackos?

I am surprised given their track record so far that they continue to put out estimates and that anybody actually pays any attention to them. I do think there are times when bad data is worse than no data at all.

From my earlier post of last Friday http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6588/647701
and the post of the Saturday before http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6566/642198
I had hoped that someone, or many, here would have grasped the immense importance and implications of what those posts detailed and that these revelations would have been on the evening news by now.

Watch the video in the following:
BP to try unprecedented engineering feat to stop oil spill - CNN.com

This is the containment dome reported May 4th and deployed on May 8th that failed immediately thereafter because of "frozen methane hydrates." Their implementation was terribly incorrect, as explained in previous posts. They restricted the flow down to approximately a one-inch hole before entering the six-inch riser. This cut the flow capacity to about one sixtieth of a full pathway. Imagine trying to draw 210,000 gallons a day through a tiny one-inch restriction, let alone a million or more.

Having gained diagrams of the current LMRP cap that is presently wobbling on the BOP, from energy.gov, they have increased the diameter into the riser to three-inches and it has not been plugging up with hydrates. That is still a restriction but nor near as bad as the earlier one-inch orifice. Meanwhile the earlier incarnation is just sitting unused on the ocean floor.

The gravity of this is such that the containment domes actually will work and are the only viable solutions to containing the oil flows, especially now that there are several sub-strata flows breaking out all over. Just cover and capture each of them.

If they had actually made this thing properly then they could have been using it since May 8th, the day it was first deployed. Quite possibly, they would not have done the top kill afterward which was because the containment dome "failed." Now, according to a senate investigation and others, they say that there was a casing blowout, which was the result of the top kill and the increased pressures in combination with their use of very thin casing material in places.

There is now an immense need to have several more of those containment domes, each over one of the sub blowouts and feeding to a ship on the surface.

At this point, the jig is up. They have been caught red handed. I recommend that they pull that first dome up off the ocean floor, open up the pathway for the flow, close in the sides (which are no longer needed) and get it down there containing a leak, Immediately!

Furthermore, finish off that second dome and start building more of them, Now! It seems perfectly feasible to build a very tall dome to cover the BOP and take in all of the flow from it, which is only going to increase over time.

These ideas very well could save us all and appear to be the only rational way to deal with what we are now left with.

There has been much talk about using a nuke. That is a 50/50 thing, it could fix the problem or it could possibly collapse the oil dome strata and open the gates of hell releasing untold Billions of barrels of oil.

This post deserves its own searchable thread without the nofollow tags.

Time is of the essence here.


"Having gained diagrams of the current LMRP cap that is presently wobbling on the BOP, from energy.gov, they have increased the diameter into the riser to three-inches and it has not been plugging up with hydrates."

I thought this one had already been debunked and discredited?

The hole in the photo is likely also 3 inches, the same as the current cap. The photo distorts that because it does not accurately convey the distance between the hand and the hole. No depth due to the lens choice.


"At this point, the jig is up. They have been caught red handed. I recommend that they pull that first dome up off the ocean floor, open up the pathway for the flow, close in the sides (which are no longer needed) and get it down there containing a leak, Immediately!"

Your point is heard and the seriousness is understood. BP has placed the new containment dome on the BOP and they request your presence on the deck of the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise. BP has an estimated 20K bpd they have diverted past the drill ship prossesing unit. It's your job to handle the excess oil being captured.

Time is of the essence.


"The Americans don’t have spill response vessels with skimmers because their environment regulations do not allow it. With the Dutch method seawater is sucked up with the oil by the skimmer. The oil is stored in the tanker and the superfluous water is pumped overboard. But the water does contain some oil residue, and that is too much according to US environment regulations.[media:factfile1]

US regulations contradictory
Wierd Koops thinks the US approach is nonsense, because otherwise you would have to store the surplus seawater in the tanks as well.

“We say no, you have to get as much oil as possible into the storage tanks and as little water as possible. So we pump the water, which contains drops of oil, back overboard.”

US regulations are contradictory, Mr Knoops stresses. Pumping water back into the sea with oil residue is not allowed. But you are allowed to combat the spill with chemicals so that the oil dissolves in the seawater. In both cases, the dissolved oil is naturally broken down quite quickly.

It is possible the Americans will opt for the Dutch method as the damage the oil spill could cause to the mud flats and salt marshes along the coast is much worse, warns Wetland expert Hans Revier.

“You have to make sure you clear up the oil at sea. As soon as the oil reaches the mud flats and salt marshes, it is too late. The only thing you can do then is dig it up. But then the solution is worse than the problem.” "

Old news. This problem has been mitigated. The skimmers are being deployed in the vessel of opportunity program of the CG. Skimmers will also come in from Norway and Spain.
Now get the big boats out under US flag to skim around the Jones Act and Let's get the oil!

Roger from the Netherlands

Yes, this story is quite old, and the regulations are quite asinine. Like not wanting to put the fire out when the house is burning down for fear of ruining the carpets.