BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - An Update on Collection, Evaluating The President's Speech and Open Thread 3

This thread is being closed. Please place comments on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6617.

In this post, I will be giving you my thoughts about Tuesday evening's Presidential speech, but first, let me give you my usual update on the oil collection process.

The secondary collection system, using the Q4000 has now been activated to help collect the growing volumes of oil generated from the oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico. There was also a small fire, yesterday, due to a lighting strike, that shut down collection for a short while.

The current status is thus

For the last 12 hours on June 15th (noon to midnight), approximately 4,830 barrels of oil were collected and 14.6 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• 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.

• Total oil collected since the LMRP Cap containment system was implemented is approximately 160,400 barrels.

• Collection commenced on the Q4000 at ~9:50pm with hydrocarbons reaching surface at ~1am on the 16th. We expect to optimize collection over the next few days.

The President has now given his Oval Office Address to the Nation on the Oil Spill, and I will update this as the news of his discussions with BP officials goes on. But the speech itself is worth examining. The most critical part of the spill is to get the leak stopped. It was the first significant topic of the speech, but this is what he said:

Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That's why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation's best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge -- a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation's Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we've directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that's expected to stop the leak completely.

So the recommendations of the “nation’s best” is “do better?” or “do more?” To which BP has responded by bringing in more collection equipment, but has not changed their current response to sealing the leak – which is basically to rely on the relief wells. (Although I did hear some stories that it was the “expert” team and Dr. Chu that told BP to stop the Top Kill attempts). But that was all the coverage that the most critical part of the speech provided.

The problem, of course, is that the problem is not solved until the leak is closed. Thus the “X days of the Gulf Crisis” that is the mantra of the main stream media will likely continue until X reaches about a hundred, and by then, barring some further catastrophe (and I’m not ruling one out) the public may be rather tired of the story. The clean-up is vital, dealing with the compensation for those who have lost wages will become interesting.

BP have just agreed to set up a fund of $20 billion to recompense those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. They have also suspended their dividend for the rest of this year. But the Administration gave BP some years to create the fund, so that the company does not get wiped out. They also agreed to create a $100 million fund for those in the oil patch who have lost work because of the moratorium on drilling.

It gets them off the hook, but I am very dubious that it will accelerate payments to individuals and companies. While BP had the responsibility, they had to hire the accountants, clerks, and administrators to oversee the distribution. These folks had to have rules, which had to be written, and paperwork documentation of claims had to be established. Getting that done as fast as it was is something that private industry, with the right incentives, can largely achieve.

But if the whole process, or significant parts of it, have now to be redone with a different set of rules to be established, then BP can now claim no responsibility, and it will be the Administration which starts to get targeted as payments continue to be delayed.

Bureaucracies take time to build, and once established are hard to get around. That is not going to change for those who need a check in the next week or so to pay the mortgage, or feed the kids. With apparently 14 different agencies involved in the clean-up, getting all the permissions for particularly innovative approaches had already required some creative thinking, and may require much more if, for example, advanced skimming tools are to be used within a meaningful time-frame. Again, based on current performance, I am becoming more cynical as to success, as the Administration claims more authority over what is, and is going to be done.

The other half of the speech dealt with the need to accelerate the change to alternate fuels. This is a site that is seriously concerned over the coming shortages of fossil fuels, and oil in particular. So encouraging the development of alternatives is something that needs to be done. Did it need to be in this speech? That is a political issue I don’t want to address. But there were not a lot of specifics in the speech. It was more along the lines of

Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

Well the federal agency that used to support such R&D was the U.S. Bureau of Mines, in the Department of Interior. It was one of the few agencies that the Federal Government (in the Clinton Administration) has ever closed. So maybe this isn’t just an industry problem?

So at the end of the day, there are no specific new steps to move forward with. We will see what Congress brings forth.

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Latest update:

Optimization of the dual system, LMRP Cap and the Q4000 Direct Connect, will continue over the next few days.

• For the first 12 hours on June 17 (midnight to noon), approximately 8000 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,500 barrels of oil and 25.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• On June 16, a total of approximately 14,750 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 3,850 barrels of oil and 40 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• The Overseas Cascade continues lightering from the Enterprise.

• The next update will be provided at 9:00am CDT / 3:00pm BST on June 18, 2010.

So they collected 18,600 bbls on 16 June - but looking at the Skandi ROV1 images I can't really see any change - it still seems to be gushing as much as before.


I'm not a lawyer but I've seen one on TV.

There were questions in a prior thread about whether you could get in trouble for saying negative things about, for example, a certain oil company, if the evidence for your statement was not clear.

Different countries have different laws about making "false and misleading statements" to influence securities transactions. In the US this usually refers to rules regarding the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The language is very broad, it is used to pursue insider trading cases and failures of company officials to disclose information to investors. I think it is unusual to see actions brought against a short seller who says he doesn't like a certain company. The law empowers the SEC to make enforcement rules.

The famous rule 10-5b says "...it shall be unlawful for any person ... to make any untrue statement of a material fact ... or to engage in any act ... which operates ... as a fraud or deceit upon any person in connection with the purchase or sale of any security."

See part 240 in this reference:

So this language could, at least in principle support a broad range of actions against persons who made false statements that influenced some other person's decision about a security transaction.

If I had a short on, I would want to make sure that anything I said to the press related to my investment was well documented and supported, and that I had a reasonable basis for saying it. Just my personal opinion.

Isn't all that only pertinent to those admitted to the proffesional practice of exchanging or brokering the exchange of commercial securities? If one is not acting in a strict client/consultant capacity, the application of such standards would be intractable. For instance, if your neighbor tells you that, in his opinion, Pepsi is better than Coca Cola. If you subsequently bet the ranch on his tout and find yourself homeless, it does not necessarily negate his opinion, he still prefers Pepsi, even if he relishes the opoortunity to pick up your house in a distress sale! Caveat Emptor!

There is another rule, 10-b3, that applies specifically to brokers and other professionals. Rule 10-b5 actually applies to anyone, which is why, for example, it is used against insider traders, who might not be brokers.

But having an opinion or an ulterior motive, however outlandish o sinister it may be, is not equivalent to having inside information is it?

Correct, insider trading and deceit are two different ways of breaking the same law. (I think. I'm not a lawyer.)

Insider trading breaks the law by using material nonpublic information to commit a fraud. False or misleading statements also deceive the public, in a different way.

You can bet against the company, by selling short, that's OK. You can tell people why you are doing it, that's OK if you are not lying. But if you lie about it, saying that the company is better or worse than you know to be true, then you might possibly be in trouble.

If you know a secret about the company, good or bad news, you can't make an investment that would benefit from that secret. You are deceiving the other party to your trade, because you know something that the public does not. It may sound strange, but that's the rule. You can't trade on "material, nonpublic" information.

The Constitution guarantees free speech, especially for publications.

If the statements that are made are believed to be true by those who speak it, and is not specifically made with the express intent to influence another person(s) purchase and sale of securities, it is pretty hard to trump the first amendment.

By the standards you are using, 99% of what is talked about every day cannot be said.

cud: 10-5b is a variety of fraud. Without going too far into the weeds, the two biggest hurdles the plaintiff would face in using 10-5b are proving the statement maker intended to deceive and the provable, specific damages from the statement. How do you prove that the statement in fact caused the stock to go down and, if so, by how much? Speculative damages are not allowed. [Waring: This explanation is neither complete nor accurate in all situations.]

Edited for typos.

Exactly right, it's hard to prove, and the cases are rarely brought against an individual investor. More often you would see it brought against the CEO who says "Things are great" while he's dumping the stock.

But I'm talking about a criminal charge. You don't have to prove how much the stock got hurt. The Justice Dept., if they wanted to make an example of the liar, would have to prove that they knew they were lying, and that a reasonable investor would consider the lie important when making a decision. (This is the only "materiality" part of the criminal burden). For a civil suit to recover damages, you have to show how much the lie hurt the stock.

Edit: the prosecution also would have to show intention, that the liar did this on purpose, in order to defraud. But the short position is clear proof of that.

cud: Not quite for fraud. The prosecution must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that it was the defendant's intent to defraud or deceive. A person can make statements that turn out to be false and act on them. That in itself isn't fraud. Trying to put it in everyday language, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew he was lying to benefit himself at the expense of others. Proving stupid, delusional, misinformed, or seeking publicity is not enough. The defense is pretty simple: "I thought what I was saying was true. That is, everyone was hiding the truth from the public." None the less, the burden is on the prosecution. Being wrong or stupid is not fraud. That's why the special crime of Not Sufficient Funds for writing bad checks on a personal checking account was created. It was near impossible to prove the elements of common fraud. "How could I've been out of money? I had some checks left."

First time poster--long time reader; some input on legal aspects of the spill.

The governing standard here is NY Times v Sullivan, where a plaintiff who is a "public person" has to show 1)actual malice and that 2)the defendant knew he was saying something false. This standard is almost impossible to meet. Any lawsuit by BP against its critics would be covered by this Supreme Court case.

I am a retired lawyer from La., whose family has been involved with oil cases since Standard Oil was actually called Standard Oil. It seems to me that a great deal of both the effort to seal the well and to protect the coastline has been dictated by laws, not by physics or chemistry.

For instance, every petrochemical state has a long line of cases about ownership of oil and gas which is "spilled" or "lost" by the driller. At least some of BP's cleanup behavior seems to be an effort to maintain a claim of ownership on the spilled crude. After all, there's billions of dollars of it floating around, available to the first person on the site with good cleanup equipment.

Similarly, it's my impression that a great deal of the undersea efforts have been directed, not at capping the well, but at proving that BP is not abandoning the well.

To me, the tragedy of BP's continued oversight of the whole thing lies in their basic aims; retain ownership of the well, retain ownership of the spilled oil, limit legal liability. They honestly could care less about anything else at this point.

Regarding the cleanup, procurement policies, labor and safety laws (such as the Jones Act), and intergovernmental squabbles over authority are a real damper on any serious effort at cleanup and collection. These are what are determining speed of response, not the will to prevent damage or clean up what has already happened.

And just a comment on the BP escrow fund--

"Escrow" means that they're setting aside the money on their books; writing off the value of a potential loss, as required by federal bookkeeping laws. The funds are usually administered by a third person, and disbursed only when responsibility for loss has been legally established... so it could be 20 years before this fund pays anyone anything. Also, they're already claiming that the fund limits their liability to the amount of the fund (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870365060457531320301032516...). In effect, the President is allowing BP to cap liability at 20 billion.

Cousteau Says Technology Can Clean Gulf Oil Now

The units are mobile water treatment plants, which use a nonchemical oxidation process, Michael Vinick, chairman of Ecosphere Technology, told cnbc.com later on Thursday. Vinick said the units can be placed on barges and taken out to sea. Each unit can process one million gallons of water daily, added the chairman.

Vinick said the units are especially useful in the Gulf spill situation because they don't use chemicals, they break up hydrocarbons and they can handle high volume.


"Nonchemical oxidation process" is an oxymoron. Oxygen is a chemical; hydrocarbons are chemicals, and oxidation is invariably a chemical transformation. So is "break up of hydrocarbons" whatever that means.
If it's not chemical it must be spiritual, and I don't think the power of prayer is going to get the job done.

Guy's gotta make some money, you know.

Aw, that kind of talk is going to ruin the fantasy. I guess the solution is to put Mr. Cousteau in charge of the clean up?

If BP can't fix this, I think the Commander In Chief has been pretty honest in implying that prayer is Plan B. The government is pretty well stymied by just figuring out the flow rate + or - 50%, they haven't sent their own ROV to overview the situation, they do not know what to do.

Tragic. True.

they haven't sent their own ROV to overview the situation

Which would help how, exactly?

These machines literally are trying to clean a drop in the ocean.

Lots of financing, nukes, Peak Oil, ... discussion here but does ANYONE have any information on the skimmers? The ONLY thing I've seen is one picture of ONE skimmer. Somehow I don't find that particularly reassuring.

How many are now working on site?

How much oil are they recovering?

Are the 3 Dutch skimming ships working? If not, why not?

How many American ships have been retrofitted with the North Sea booms Roger talked about?

It seems to me skimmers are the single most effective line of defense currently available. Every gallon of oil skimmed is one less to suffocate the marshes, stain the previously pristine beaches, foul a pelican ...

It's shameful, but sort of understandable, they weren't brought in in April. But it's (actionably?) criminal if they are not now being used to full potential 60 days into this horrific traumatizing disaster.

I agree that there needs to be much more attention devoted to what is being done to clean up the mess. There is already a lot of oil in the water and it keeps coming. So far all we have heard that is being done is that there are a bunch of fishing boats laying ineffective booms, and people with shovels and brooms on the beaches. This is woefully inadequate and there is no excuse for not doing far more NOW! Skimmers, maybe Costner's deal sound promising. I suggested putting aerators in marshes and other contaminated waters. We are fighting a house fire with a squirt gun while the firetruck is apparently stuck in traffic.

I think a better analogy is that the firetruck is in a parade waiting for the TV cameras to show up, and can't move anyway until it gets clearance through official channels that are as broken as Macondo.

I liked the jugular analogy from another poster... Repairing the sliced vein must take precedence over sopping up the blood.

Sadly, while there's plenty of "surgeons", the operating theater's missing a few vital tools.

In case you missed it--how hard would it be to build a bunch of these?


I haven't found any more info about how many, but C-SPAN has a nice video interview with crew members from one of the ships here:


It explains in some detail how the system works.

A problem has been the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, aka the Jones Act. It blocks foreign vessels from helping in the Gulf because of its requirement that ships transporting goods from state to state be built in the US, crewed by Americans, and owned by Americans.

The Act itself was waived after hurricane Katrina. Despite requests, President Obama has not yet granted a general waiver. I believe individual waivers have now allowed 15 foreign vessels to begin work.

I have no direct knowledge of the reason for this, but there is talk around that an unwillingness to offend certain groups has been standing in the way of the general waiver.

I think this information is only partly accurate.

There are 15 foreign vessels at work, but none of them required Jones Act waivers. Also there is an expedited process to grant waivers should any be necessary. So I don't think the Jones Act is standing in the way of anything right now. I suggest you take a look at this reference:


On June 15, Fox News commentators were making some inaccurate statements about the Jones act and foreign assistance. Maybe some of those inaccuracies have been traveling around. See:


If I recall correctly, the Jones act applies in when a vessel comes into port. It is a complicated law with many twists.


Maybe that, and an inability to cut through bureaucratic obstacles even if he wanted to pursue. Which he apparently doesn't. The Prez is certainly capable of issuing "memos" and whatnot but there's been two months of this. I forced myself to watch embarrassing, posturing congressional ass-clowns from both sides of the proverbial aisle today, conducting their "investigation". My tax payments and your tax payments didn't buy mandated disaster response instrumentalities but did buy cronyism, de facto laissez-faire, and posturing ass-clowns. SNAFU. And I, for one, am f'ing *livid*. An entire ecosystem is going down the tubes, and so are the lives and unique subcultures of all the people who live around it. And these mf's *who we have to pay for* are still playing politics and refraining from rocking the boat too much.

Okay, /end rant/

They haven't a clue - completely disconnected from reality.

That makes them perfectly qualified to decide our future alternative energy research directions, and our future energy needs and sources. It makes them perfectly qualified to spend money to boost the economy. it makes them qualified to know exactly what to do to spark businesses into hiring more people. It makes them qualified to completely make over health care and medical practice. It makes them qualified to manage education and curriculum. It makes them qualified to regulate EVERYTHING to the last degree, to save the ignorant people from themselves. It makes them qualified to predict the future climate, and therefore know precisely how to change it now with the proper mix of taxes and pork barrell and crony capitalism.

Or, maybe for once, someone here besides me will notice that Congress isn't capable of competently doing a dang thing about much of anything. Maybe we could get people on board the idea that perhaps just turning everything over to the wise heads in Congress just isn't all that... wise.

Unfortunately, they are successful because they are very definitely connected to the reality that is inside the Beltway ... they know what counts in DC, in Congress, and in November. They will not rock many boats at all, and will not offend serious constituencies one bit. Pretending to "grill" Tony Haywood was laughable - absolutely hilarious - talk about being beaten with a feather.

Rep. Joe Barton, 6th district of Texas, and the ranking Republican memember of the House Committee investigating the BP disaster, apologized to Tony Hayward for Obama "shaking down" (direct quote) BP for cash. A "shakedown" is short hand in police jargon for criminal act of theft accompanied with an implied threat of violence. In effect, he openly and directly accused Obama of an impeachable offense for setting up the $20 billion damage trust fund. A number of hours later he gave a stock, limp apology with a smirk on his face.

Barton was right. It is a criminal shakedown. We have laws against such things, and they should be obeyed no matter how badly the media abuses BP. Nobody, from the president to the thug on the street corner has ANY right to demand anyone just hand over money. The Constitution gaurantees it. Either we follow the law, or this a tin-horn dictatorship, not worthy of anything more than a laugh.

Jesus Christ!

The country is yammering because they're worried that BP America will declare bankruptcy. So Obama negotiates an escrow account of $5 billion a year to guarantee claims, total of twenty billion.

Does it shut up the screamers? No, they invade technical discussion forums to accuse Obama of a "shakedown".

How the hell is an escrow fund a shakedown?

What I hear is the Party of No. Against anything Obama does, or doesn't do.

You ought to try to shake that party paradigm off. It's a filter that distorts.


Ever heard of the IRS?

I think I am beginning to understand the term "give me liberty or give me death" means. At least in the minds of some people.

Remember no one has handed over any money involuntarily as of yet.

Check out Owens Corning, Trust fund, Asbestos, Bankruptcy. This scenario has all been played out before.

The damage continues and the guilty have to be held accountable. Is that in your constitution?

First off, we haven't followed "the law" in years. If we had, half of our "representatives", past Presidents and VPs would be doing time.

Secondly, what evidence do you have that a "criminal shakedown" occurred? None.

Lastly, we don't know that the President "demanded" anything. BP management is luck they're not under indictment and sitting in lock-down waiting for trial. If you're ever in legal trouble and don't buy your way out (by hiring lawyers and/or paying money to mitigate damages and/or preferring fines over more harsh and personal/corporal punishments), you're a fool.

Other than the yammering on Faux News, show me where Obama conducted a "shakedown" on BP to get them to cough up this $20 billion escrow account. Everyone who doesn't have an axe to grind against Obama (i.e., not far right talkshows/news programs/politicians) have said it was a great idea, and could help BP when the inevitable fines/litigations begin. They can show they've already paid out money and will be paying out more, it's in small enough pieces that the corporation can afford it, and it helps the people needing assistance.

Like I said earlier, some people are so blinded by their dogma that they will hate on Obama even when what he does benefits them (see MS's governor for example).

A number of hours later he gave a stock, limp apology with a smirk on his face.

He can fake being contrite, he can "apologise" to his Party, and the media can slash its collective wrists for a news-cycle or two. But Smokin' Joe knows that it has done its work, especially among the sheet-wearers who are presumably his main constituency. In Australian politics this tactic is called a dog-whistle - I assume it might be in America as well.

Exactly; the Obama haters will use his comments and conveniently forget the apology, or just claim it was forced out of him by the 'liberals'. What I want to know is why he's on the Energy Committee in the first place; even with his connections his party is no longer in power, and I figured that was the first thing that takes place (changing committee members) when the majority party changes.

The minority party has a minority share of the seats on each committee;the minority share of committee seats is iirc generally a little less than proportional by party sizes.

So when the Republicans or the Democrats lose the majority, they lose the committee majorities as well-but not ALL THE committee seats.

Each party decides which of its members will have seats on which committees.

Seniority plays a BIG part, but not the only part, in determining memberships.Plain old horse trading is probably the most critical factor in determining who gets onto a given committee, other than maybe a couple of the most important ones.Seniority may trump all else in some cases.

Ben: Texas = Oil money. Rep. Barton from 6th district of Texas is the highest ranking Republican (minority) member of the Energy (Oil) committee because of seniority (1984 elected), his ability to screw with legislation for sustainable energy for the benefit of the Petroleum Club, and his resulting ability to raise oil money for fellow Republicans. Bingo! We have a winner here!

Good rant.

The Jones Act, as you even quote correctly, only applies to ships carrying "goods." It doesn't not apply to skimmers and the like.

This is a typically false right-wing talking point that sounds great but has no relation to the situation here.

Right, Left, do you *really* care? 1) Stop the flow 2) Clean up. Do you really care as long as it gets better?

It isn't about the right. It's about the Union thugs demanding nobody get in their way of collecting dues and living rich and privelidged lives.

Sir, I say this to you in all sincerity, and with as much social grace as I can muster:

You are apparently mentally deficient, or completely committed to intellectual dishonesty. You attack those who share your overcrowded (and becoming more so, every day) lifeboat, while protecting and supporting the motives of those who put you there.

It's just the oft seen in 3 year olds syndrome: "Look Mommy! I'm running around with my pants off." Treatment: Ignore him.

The Louisiana skimming barges were an innovative idea in small areas.

Clearly, boom is very limited and is designed to assist in immediate containment of spills on a one-time basis in favorable weather, not long term protection over a period of days, weeks, months.

Looking at the huge area involved, I cannot imagine that even thousands of skimming vessels would make much more of impact. Akin to to "pissing into the ocean". Skimming may offer some protection close in against the streamers of a spill approaching shore in light winds, but when the mass of several thousand square miles of oil in tropical force winds is headed north... well, I am not sure there is a solution for that.

edit: well, the gulf loop current, properly positioned, would be the type of force necessary to cleanse the GOM.

Because the "Just nuke the sonofabitch!" solution will be heard again, along with references to "The Russians did it!", I'm posting a link to the document the information came from. But not before I point out again that what Macondo's in probably isn't much like southern Uzbekistan. Page 35, if you'd like to follow along: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.princeton.edu/sgs/publicat...

Thanks to all of the contributers here. My question and discussion point is what are the effects of BP spill cannot be capped? I would like to discuss what are the long term repercussions? I am an aeorspace engineer working on UAV's. It appears to me that a failure of the well casing and inability to cap or plug would probably bring on a depression. This is the worst case scenario but it is important to understand the possible repercussions.


The fear is that if a complete seal were made at the top of the well, the place where it is now leaking, that very much pressure would build up below the floor of the ocean, inside the well casing, which people believe to be damaged or incorrectly constructed. The result would be very large amounts of gas and oil at extreme pressure leaking into the surrounding layers of sand, shale rock, and silt (mud). This would mean that the oil and gas would erupt through the sea floor in many unprdictable and uncontrolable openings in the area of the sea floor surrounding the well. The current approach is based on capturing as much of the oil and gas being produced by the well as possible, without creating the kind of back pressure on the failed well casing system which would increase the risk of oil leaking into the subsurface sand, and silt. This not a plumbing problem in the sense that all we need to do is fix a leaking pipe, very dynamic pressure differentials are at play that defy intuitive reasoning.

Yes, agreed.

I think the "top hat capture", refined over time, is likely to be the best long term solution. Granted it is the choice less likely to do more damage on the medical treatment philosophy of "first, do no harm".

As to the Russian solution: they have a history of heavy handed engineering in which the negative results of same are not as frequently publicized as the positive ones. Suffice to say an unreliable sample to extrapolate to this case.

It appears to me ( I have no expertise in the matter however) that the relief wells will encounter the same issues, from a different direction, that plagued the top-kill attempt.

Why would it bring on a depression?

What is your causal mechanism?

Snakehead - thanks, I spent a lot of time trying to find this information a couple weeks ago with no success.

I thought it was important enough to try to extract the pertinent information from the document.

A couple points.

Time - One attempt was made 5 months after the blow out and it was unsuccessful. One is unknown, the others were blowing for 16 months, 23 months and 34 months before they were stopped with nuclear devices.

All required "relief" wells to be drilled to set the nuclear device, usually just above the producing formation. At the time the Russians only had the drilling expertise to get with in about 30 meters of the well bore, otherwise I'm sure they would have killed the wells with mud and cement.

One of the "successful" attempts took 7 days to actually stop flowing after the explosion.

The article quotes the Russians as saying there was no radiation but I have also read (on the internet so take it for what it is worth) that the last unsuccessful attempt with a 37.6 kt device left a wild well blowing out radioactive material. In any case the Russians never tried it again after that failure.

Excerpt from Science & Global Security, 1998, Volume7, pp. 1-117


On December 1,1963, while drilling gas Well No. 11 in the Urtabulak gas field in Southern Uzbekistan about 80 km southeast of Bukhara, control of the well was lost at a depth of 2,450 m. This resulted in the loss of more than 12 million m3 of gas per day through an 8-inch casing, enough gas to supply the needs of a large city, such as St. Petersburg. Formation pressures were about 270-300 atmospheres.

Over the next three years, many attempts were made using a variety of techniques to cap the well at the surface or to reduce the flow and extinguish the flames. However, because the bottom 1,000 m of the casing had not yet been cemented, such attempts led to diversion of the gas into nearby wells and to serious personnel safety problems because of the high H2S content of the gas. Underground attempts were hampered by the fact that the location of the lower portion of the hole had not been logged at the time control was lost.

Finally, in the fall of 1966, a decision was made to attempt closing the well with the use of a nuclear explosive. It was believed that a nuclear explosion would squeeze close any hole located within 25-50 m of the explosion, depending on the yield. Two 44.5-cm (13.5 in) diameter slant wells, Holes No. 1c and 2c, were drilled simultaneously. They were aimed to come as close as possible to Hole No. 11 at a depth of about 1,500 m in the middle of a 200-m-thick clay zone. This depth was considered sufficient to contain the 300-atmosphere pressure in the gas formation below. A number of acoustic and electromagnetic techniques were used to estimate the distance between Hole No 11 and inclined explosive emplacement hole at 1,450 m. The final estimate for the closest distance between Hole No. 11 and Hole No. 1c was 35 +/- 10 m.

The location for the explosive in Hole 1c was cooled to bring it down to a temperature the explosive could withstand. A special 30-kt nuclear explosive developed by the Arzamas nuclear weapons laboratory for this event was emplaced in Hole 1c and stemmed. It was detonated on September 30, 1966. Twenty-three seconds later the flame went out, and the well was sealed.


A few months after the closure of the Urtabulak No. 11 hole, control was lost of another high-pressure well in a similar nearby field, Hole No. 2-R in the Pamuk gas field. In this case, drilling had progressed to a depth of 2,748 m before the gas-containing horizon was encountered, and gas pressures were significantly higher than those at Urtabulak (580 atm). A month and a half after the runaway well started, it blocked itself at a depth of 800-1,000. Remedial work was done in the well and appeared to have resolved the problem when, four months later, gas started coming to the surface through other holes and through the ground itself.

After several unsuccessful attempts to seal the well by hydraulic fracturing from a slant-drilled well, it was decided to again use a nuclear explosive to pinch off the runaway well. A new inclined hole, No. 10-N, was drilled to intersect Hole 2-R in the middle of a salt formation that overlay the gas producing formation. Measurements after it had been drilled indicated that the minimum separation distance at a depth of 2,440 m was 30: +/- 5 m.

This time, a special explosive developed by the Chelyabinsk nuclear weapons laboratory was used, one that had been designed and tested to withstand the high pressures and temperatures in excess of 100°C expected in the emplacement hole. It also was designed to be only 24 cm in diameter and about 3 m long to facilitate its use in conventional gas and oil field holes. Its yield was 47 kt.

The explosive was inserted into Hole 10-N and detonated on May 21, 1968, at a depth of 2,440 m. Because of the large amount of gas that had infiltrated the overlying strata during the preceding two years, the flow continued for seven days before it finally died out and the seal was complete. The second "success" gave Soviet scientists great confidence in the use of this new technique for rapidly and effectively controlling runaway gas and oil wells.

Crater and Fakel

Some four years later, two more opportunities arose for the use of nuclear Explosions to extinguish runaway gas well fires. The first, code-named "Crater," was in the Mayskii gas field about 30 km southeast of the city of Mary in Central Asia. Control of the gas well was lost on May 11, 1970, and about 700,000 m3 of gas was lost per day. The producing horizon in this field was at the 3,000-m level. No details have been made public about this application, except that on April 11, 1972, a 14-kt explosion at a depth of 1,720m in an argillite formation was used to successfully seal the runaway well.

On July 7, 1972, another runaway gas well in the Ukraine, about 20 km north of the city of Krasnograd and 65 km southwest of Karkov, was sealed with a nuclear explosion. The runaway well was in the Krestishche gas formation at a depth of over 3,000 m. No additional information has been made available except that for this event, named "Fakel," a 3.8-kt explosion at a depth of 2,483 m in a salt formation was used. The small yield would indicate that the location of the runaway well was well known, and the explosive emplacement hole was drilled to be very close to it at shot depth.


The last attempt to use this application occurred in 1981 on a runaway well in the Kumzhinskiy gas deposit in the northern coast of European Russia near the mouth of the Pechora River, 50 km north of the city of Nar'yan Mar. Control of the well was lost on November 28, 1980, resulting in a loss of about 2,600,000 m3 of gas per day. On May 5, 1981, a 37.6-kt nuclear explosion, code-named "Pyrite," was detonated at a depth of 1,511 m in a sandstone-clay formation near the runaway well. However, the nuclear explosion did not seal the well, perhaps because of poor data on the position of the runaway well. No additional details have been published on the results of the nuclear attempt or of subsequent efforts to close the well by other means.

Of the Soviet attempts to extinguish runaway gas wells, MinAtom reports that all were completely contained, and no radioactivity above background levels was detected at the surface of the ground during post-shot surveys.

I wonder if they brought up any samples of the resultant fused material? I wonder what the picture would look like in the case of oil/gas/sand/? mix? But to this imagineer, perhaps the "nuclear solution" would be akin to geologic 'whack-a-mole' where seismic shocks in a fractured sedimentary picture would beget more fracturing/disruption. What do I know? disclaimer: Jeff Beck played the greatest concert I have ever been lucky enough to attend tonight. Are ya listening, Tony? Just "A Brush With The Blues?"

Suppose nuclear explosives were to be tried.

What is the risk of disturbing the gas hydrates further above?

Is there a risk that it can be made worse ---- by opening a bigger fissure?

WRT the Russians and their nuclear use in closing runaway wells - they were gas, not oil. Blowing a nuc on top of the formation would cause a hydraulic fracturing of massive proportions, as the oil doesn't compress as gas does. I could see a high explosive shaped charge - IF you could get it close to the existing borehole. 700 feet ain't close - 7 feet maybe.

I visited Gulf Shores Beach today. The Gulf was open to swimming there and the beaches were clean. There was a cleanup crew there. They were more local folks. They were nice and talked to me. I thanked them. The fish were hitting minnows, all while pea sized oil was present in the water. Pollution of the food chain in my presence. I tried to get a photo of it, but the surf was too rough. You can see fish splashing in this photo.

From today's photobucket - http://s892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/tinfoilhatguy/Gulf%20Shores%206...

I have more satire ready. I am going to give it a rest until tomorrow. I also got some clean Gulf Shores marsh shots.

Here is a photo from a park in town. No oil in the marsh yet.

Um, if you get eaten by the alligator does the alligator get fined and imprisoned? Thanks for the photos.


Survivors will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!

TFHG, I am having a hard time keeping up with the threads, but I read your quandry about respirators when doing an oil cleanup job after the thread had closed. As a chimney sweep for many years around airborne carcinogens on a daily basis I urge you to wear a good respirator if at all possible... I say it with an exclamation point! I know it is a drag in high heat and humidity, but it beats breathing that stuff in... really. Wrecking your lungs won't help in the long run.

Photobucket link, followed. Hooters girl and other shots of course) noted. Thank you.

snakehead - thanks for the link to the Indian paper of Sov nuc's. Much appreciated for several reasons.

I hope for the best because of many enjoyable trips to Gulf Shores, however, the area has received but a slight brush of the spill due to very fortunate wind direction changes.

The inevitable seasonal , if only tropical storm force winds, will send a mass of the spill into the area.

The timely shift back and forth of north and south winds have resulted in the spill meandering. These winds all change as the gulf erupts in the late summer and fall.

Keep taking those pics. Then put them on a jump drive and bury it deeply in a fire safe. They'll be precious someday.

I store online in two places. Off site vaults. Thanks.

My family used to vacation on the Gulf beach between Port St. Joe and Mobile; we'd pick a new location each year and visit. Seeing the Gulf Shores beach virtually empty is shocking, especially given the oil has barely reached there yet. Up here in NC we're seeing ads on TV for Fort Walton Beach, Gulf Shores and a couple other beach areas and they all specifically say no oil is there, trying to reassure vacationers.

Been lurking on your board for years. More so in the last few weeks given Macondo. A little background, I started studying pore pressure and hydrodynamics in the GoM when I was 19 yrs old. One of my heroes was this guy named M.K. Hubbert from Shell who formulated an integrated study of how thrust faults could produce the amount of discplacement observable in the Rockies. It's because rocks under pressure, particularly shales, are weaker when they are overpressured. An indirect observation quantifying this behavior has to do with the porosity of shales being higher compared to the present day burial depth. According to the old-timer structural geologist who tutored us during field camp, "This guy blew the doors off what we understood about the geomechanics of faulting at the time". King blew the doors off everything he studied. Its ironic posting here in that I inhaled everything King wrote about including natural hydraulic fracturing and tilted oil-water contacts due to hydrodynamics but was not clued into his thoughts about Peak Oil until years later. Heck, I was a geologist, and anybody who studied economics and business didn't have the cajones to study real science so why did I care? King was a hydrodynamicist at heart which is the point of this post regarding pore pressures at Macondo.

Another point before I begin. I noticed in the upper right hand "philosophy box" of your webpage espousing a quote by Simmons who was lecturing us to look at the data two or three times before coming to a conclusion or some tripe like that. Simmons obviously didn't follow his own philosophy when bloviating about pore pressures being 40 kpsi+ at Macondo on MSNBC. Although the data wasn't public at the time, anyone with critical thinking skills and some background in how rocks and fluids work in the GoM could conclude this guy is a kook. Fast forward to his retirement announcement. Good riddance.

OK, pore pressures at Macondo. ROCKMAN brought up a good point about reservoir pressures not being in equilibrium with the bounding shales, although he didn't post a reason (ie measured MDTs in sands are at 12.5 ppg while TD MW was 14.4 ppg). There's a good reason for this that King would be all over. Look at the PPFG plot from here:


Shales are at a PP of about 14.4 ppg, but the pay sands are considerably lower (~12.5 ppg). The software presenting this info in the PDF is called Presgraf, and was written by a guy from Amoco/BP. This same guy also formulated a physical model as to why shales and sands are not necessarily in pressure equilibrium in the subsurface, particularly when the sands have a large "fetch area". He termed it "centroid effect". Other people call it "lateral transfer". You can look up both of those terms for a full scientific explanation. The point is that sands can either be much higher or lower pore pressure compared to the shales because of lateral connectivity. The Macondo sands are obviously laterally hydraulically connected. Usually the higher PP in the sands compared to shales produce a kick. A converse situation can occur when the sands are lower pressure, and can be a sink for drill mud i.e. lost ciculation. BP predicted this as is evident by the solid line showing 13 to 15 ppg pressure in shales and the blocklike reduction in pressures referring to the predicted responses in the sands at TD. You can predict this behavior in the sands when you understand the geology. BP understands the geology. Kill mud operations will require the 12.5 ppg to overcome flow from the sands. That's a big difference compared to the 14.5 ppg in the shales, which will not flow naturally in this situation. Macondo pay sands may also be a "protected trap" so Al from Big Easy should probably look that up too given his comment about the well being drilled at the structural high. Maybe local stuctural high, but these sands are probably plumbed even higher somewhere.

A little more background. I'm a petrophysicist. I don't work for, or have ever worked for/with BP. I work for an operator. Petrophysics is the study of rocks, pores, and fluids. We do log analysis, but the term "log analyst" is a pejorative for some service company guy who runs LAS files through a program to generate data. I'm probably the age of your son. We integrate data from a variety of geologic and engineering sources and scales. Basically a petrophysicist needs to know everything. King was a petro at heart and would be all over this problem.

Please consider and evaluate. Thanks.

I'm not an engineer but I think I followed that. Consider another post that spells out implications, please.

It's just wonderful to hear from someone who worked directly with Dr. Hubbert. I'm sure a lot of the readers here are very familiar with his work. Thanks for posting this.

cud - Dr. Hubbert was a light weight. Dr. Berg was THE MAN. (just screwing with petro to see if he has a good sense of humor)

Are you referring to Bob Berg??

I'm probably the age of your son.

Sounds a little young then, to have worked directly with Hubbert et al. I might be missing something.

Good to have you around petro. Prior to my current gig I was a contract PPA for Devon working DW GOM and Brazil (ran KNOWLEDGE s/w). Been waiting till the RW got closer before detailing pp, frac gradients, centroids, ecd, etc. Hopefully they'll feed us details of their kill sheet when we get there. Pretty smart crowd on TOD if you haven't noticed yet. Many have already picked up the basics and will be hungry for more when we get to the cut.

Here's a little excerpt from the Oil & Gas Journal on centroids and lateral transfer.

Lateral transfer-centroid

Lateral transfer is the focusing of fluids transferred from deep to shallow within a continuous, confined reservoir or other high permeability fluid pathway.4

The source of the pressure is likely to be overpressured shales surrounding the tilted reservoir. P-D plots assist in the recognition of lateral transfer, which represents a drilling challenge, since the reservoir and surrounding shales at the crest of the structure, where a well is most likely to be located, are not in pressure equilibration, except at the "centroid," the point of pressure equilibrium between the shale and the reservoir (Fig. 10).

The effect of lateral transfer is to create higher overpressure at the reservoir1 crest relative to its expected value at that depth. Pressure-depth plots can be used (as shown in Fig. 10) to calculate this effect, a process that involves identifying the position of the centroid and extending a fluid gradient to the structural crest.

From: Swarbrick, Richard; O'Connor, Stephen A; Lahann, Richard in


Dear Petrofizz,
Thanks for the post and your obvious passion...

You wrote, "The Macondo sands are obviously laterally hydraulically connected." Does that mean we are looking at a sort of bleed-over from adjacent sands and an essentially endless flow if not checked somehow?

You also noted:
Macondo pay sands may also be a "protected trap" so Al from Big Easy should probably look that up too given his comment about the well being drilled at the structural high. Maybe local stuctural high, but these sands are probably plumbed even higher somewhere.

What difference does it make if it's "plumbed higher somewhere?" What does that imply?

Does this data give you any indication of how hard this area is? Is it actually prone to landslides (sic) or known to be seismically fragile? How hard can I shake it before it breaks?

I think the issue is that fluid can move around in parts of the formation and create pressure anomalies. This is below the surface, so it's not a question of landslides. Normally, pressure increases as you go down, due to gravity. (The pressure at the earth center is about 200 million psi. Fortunately, there's no oil there.)

In one of these lateral migration areas, the pressure can become lower or higher than expected in certain places, creating drilling hazards. The fluid in a certain part of the formation is getting squeezed from top and bottom, and the pressure gets distorted.

I guess the main significance of this phenomenon, well known to the BP team, is that it could affect how they plan to carry out the relief wells.

Here's another excerpt from the journal article, describing the traps:

Analysis of seal integrity helps in identification of "blown" traps (hydrocarbon leakage and remigration to a shallower level) but can be used, in combination with structure maps, to hunt for "protected traps," i.e., those traps in which pore pressures will never reach conditions for hydraulic failure because they are hydraulically linked, through the reservoir, to a leak point. Such conditions are described from the Popeye-Genesis field area, Gulf of Mexico, by Seldon and Flemings.3


Good grief! looks like TOD has been infected by a bunch of reservoir engineers. There goes the neighborhood. Not that's really a bad thing. Now I'll offer the geologist explanation of centroid and thus would be easily understood by the non-nerds (a term I use with great affection, of course). The pressure in the sealing shale is different than the reservoir pressure. And the pressure in the reservoir varies laterally. The higher on the structure the higher the reservoir pressure. The centroid is that spot where the shale pressure and the reservoir pressure are equal. Unfortunately we don't have enough details to tell where the blow well falls exactly.

Here's the problem that can develop: if the oil/NG column is very high the pressure in the top of structure in the reservoir may be very close to that in the sealing shale. Perhaps just 0.2 ppg difference. Here's the risk: if a well cuts such a small pressure differential the it would take a slightly higher STATIC ( mud pumps turned off) to control well flow. But when drilling the pumps add effective pressure to the mud mimicking a higher mud weight. This is the ECD (effective circulating density). So this is the worse case scenario: the reservoir pressure is 12.6 ppg and the shales fracture at 12.9 ppg. So you pump in 12.8 ppg mud. But the ECD adds pressure so while drilling the ECD is 13.1 ppg...sufficient to fracture the shales. So if they start to lose circulation from this fracturing they need to cut the mud weight back to an ECD of 12.8 ppg. But when the turn the pumps off to pull drill pipe out of the hole they lose ECD and the static mud weight becomes 12.4 ppg. This allows the reservoir to flow since it's pressure is 12.6 ppg. There have been wells drilled in the DW GOM where they couldn't remove the drill pipe from the hole: Turn the pumps off and it tries to kick you. Leave the pumps on and you lose mud. Some of these wells had to have cmt pumped to kill and abandon the hole.

So far I haven't seen enough info to guess if the RW might run into such a problem But based upon the pore pressure plot BP put out I'll guess it won't be a problem. But that's based upon a lot of assumptions including where the wild flow is going and the condition of the csg and other cmt shoes.

I had heard this document was out there, but hadn't seen it until now. Nice to finally have an actual electric log to look at. The sets of curves to the right of the depth track - these are the resistivity curves, and tell us things that the fancy curves put up elsewhere in the document try to quantify: The pore pressure of the shales is changing throughout the section. They were drilling from a high pressure zone to a slightly lower pressured zone. They've put some numbers on it, with a 14.1# sand at 17,700' and the main pays having a mud weight equivalent to 12.6#. This is totally believable.

In a previous response, I put up a cartoon that talks about this, looking at it a bit differently. The way that the old men look at it, is the shales are sealing off zones of lower pressure. The lower pressure zone in this case is the one that is flowing out all into the Gulf of Mexico. So, it's not as low pressure as you would think.

What it does mean, is that the higher pressure sands (and shales), combined with a lower pressure pay section, forced BP to try to get away with a lower amount of cement coverage. To properly protect the well with cement, the weight of the cement sufficient to isolate the pay properly would probably have screwed up the pay sands themselves -- they would have limited the productivity of the eventual completion. It was a gamble with horrible results we've all seen.

This is why BP and others think the oil/gas is coming up around the outside of the casing -- at least it was initially.

At least now I can guess where they'll try to intersect the wellbore.

I have the electric log. Now I want the deviation plan for the relief wells. Anybody got that?


Question: is this a combined resistivity/porosity log? They've got gamma rays on the left.

The assumption you are making is that the formation is static and therefore predictable. If the zone is producing methane hydrate, is geologically unstable, or is of an unknown composition then no one knows the pore pressures.
I recently pulled out my sub sea telescope calibrated for the correct depth and pressure, and you know what, it didn't work. I suspect that is the real problem. We need more tools and less guesses.

Why would methane hydrates be produced? The pay zone is to deep/to warm. This could only be a problem in the area surrounding the upper part of the well.

Hear, hear.

I R confused.

So a kick from an overpressured pay, I understand.

How come kicking from overpressured shales? E.g. not just the 'final' kick - the well was supposedly kicking a LOT all the way down.

Or was it just that the final one 'leaked' up around casing?

Rockman:"Just my dark view of the future but the nightmare of the future resource wars will make the current incident look less scary." "Resource wars" plural. Peak Everything. Water is the source of life. NASA doesn't look for oil on Mars (yet). But NASA looks for water on Mars now. For Water Wars: Think the Colorado River draining somewhere in the vicinity of 242,000 square miles of land, from the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.

Snakehead- Fascinating article. Thanks for the link. I noticed on page 37 that one time it failed, so it isn't a surefire precedent anyway.

My thanks too.
Looks like every one of those wells was a gas well, not oil/gas.
Would that make a difference?
It would seem that oil/gas would be more viscous and easier to block.

Depends on the P, depends on the unique characteristics of the substructure, depends depend depends. It's not what's coming out of the well so much as it is what happens in the event of a substructure collapse. It depends on the effects on the people living around it and the things living in it if things didn't go as predicted. I certainly don't know what would happen. But I'm not feeling really good about what basically would be an experiment down there. Best case? Last ditch. In my opinion.

Wow! There's an idea for sopping up the oil! Depends! (Sorry)

4. If you have come here to vet your plan to kill the well, understand that you will be queried on whether or not you have read the other 10 previous comment threads and all the myriad plans that have already been run by the kind folks in this room

I google-searched for “sieve” in these forums first, and my simple question is:

If we would plug a sieve deep down in the well, would the upward pressure above the sieve be lessened? Newton’s third law suggests that the lifting force (of the oil on the sieve) would be equalized with sieve’s pressure downwards, and presumably that would be the pressure difference below and above the sieve.

A massive cylindrical sieve (with obstructions across horizontal sections) could be propelled very deep down the well, perhaps deeper than the presumed cracks. On the way down it would have a low-resistance “aerodynamic” configuration. When it would reach the well diameter just about its own, it would plug itself with rubber brakes all over its surface, and then would spring into a highly obstructive inner configuration. If that would give a pressure effect at least for some time, the well could be top-killed against the lower pressure. Two or more such sieves could be serially plugged (perhaps with complementary sieve grids), giving a cascade of lower pressures.

Would that work? Can a significant pressure effect be obtained in a stable form?

Interesting idea and certainly each sieve would have a pressure drop across it decreasing the flow.

Have you considered how you would get the sieves into the well? It would probably require removing the BOP which would increase the flow and pressure while letting the well run wild into the water column during the sieve insertion.

The force needed to insert the sieve would be a bit more than the pressure drop across the sieve, and each sieve would have to be anchored to the wall of the casing (assuming the casing is intact which it may not be).

What sort of tool would push the sieve down the well? And how far down to have enough room for all the sieves?

If you tried to push all the sieves at once, say to move them, it would require over 1,000 tons of force, up to about 1,800 tons if you tried to stop the entire flow.

The casing sizes change as the well goes down so the sieves could only fit in the casing size they are designed for.

There is a liner which is a different size and if the sieve is in the liner and the leak is in the annular then it wouldn't have any affect.

There's a drill pipe in the way but that will probably blow out when you remove the BOP.

A few other problems but don't give up on ideas, just think them through a bit better.

Thank you for the reply and noticing tricky sides.

How big objects can be passed through the BOP?

For what I figure from the well pressure scheme (PDF link on this page), a suspected "majors loss" zone is at the depth of 18200' which is close to the well bottom 18360'. So it is desirable to bring the first sieve right to the bottom and spread it over the hole (or plug it outright?)

The sieve could be propelled by the reactive principle (as a rocket). The fuel in the oil "atmosphere" would be pure oxygen - how much can we mount on the "rocket"? The descent speed does not have to be high, and multi-stage "rockets" could be used - the used up parts would be kicked back and hopefully they would reach water soon. BP should call NASA.

While the hole diameter is at least twice as large as cylinder's, navigation should not be extremely difficult. But some automatic feed-back awareness of the walls is very needed.

A tricky part is, of course, that sieves have to be plugged from the bottom up. They would be impossible to remove later, rather surely. The first plugs should be as simple as possible therefore. If the casing does not go right to the bottom, the first or second plug could be fixed at the end of the casing.

Hmmm. Watching Skandi-2-ROV, the top "cap" is some degrees off angle, and there's a great deal of strong bubbling activity coming up in waves that are jerking the structure. This is about 1 AM Mountain Time, so 2 AM Central.

Lots of sand being thrown.

-- thanks,


Bedtime thought:

"If you lie down with dogs, don't complain if you get up with fleas." — Sen. Frank Church to Gen. Curtis LeMay

LeMay! Now, *there's* a man who would have nuked this well.

I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. However, the public opinion in this country and throughout the world throw up their hands in horror when you mention nuclear weapons, just because of the propaganda that's been fed to them.

~Curtis E. LeMay

Kal: "I wouldn't say we wouldn't get our hair mussed. Maybe 10-20 million dead here."
Where's Sterling Hayden when we need him? And Miss Foreign Affairs too? Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

This is the link to a government solicitation for help with the BP disaster. Experts among you ...Have at it!

I'm no expert. I just like to think about these things. I sent BP a suggestion. I recommended they have someone create or acquire giant rubber balloons folded up flat like the lens on a camera, each so it opens when filled from the bottom. Then the Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Marines, Army Corps of Engineers, BP, and each and every unemployed citizen of the United States of America could help cover the leak with the rubber pancake, fill it up, tie off the balloon's drawstring, and one at a time, tow away the big bags of oil. But they'd better get a big stack of these down there before they can no longer get near the gusher with robotic vehicles. (if this hasn't already happened.)


And if BP via SCOTUS is legally a "person," can't he be arrested, charged and jailed for crimes against humanity and/or the planet? I think you can even take away criminals' toys. (They did it in Minnesota!)

Long low undulating whistle............

IF arresting any person or entity can reverse the course of events, I am all for it. But realistically, should not that energy be focused on solving the problem?

As to the balloons — I need to have another drink to process that properly.

so your solution is basically a giant condom? well, since the oil well isn't pulling out, your condom better be pretty strong. But really, we could keep capping the gusher with more and more condoms, and instead of taking that oil to a refinery, we could blast it into space.

more specifically, we could shoot it to mars and venus and jupiter and all the planets, and impregnate them with oil. eventually, this oil will have to start breeding and cover all the planets with oil.

and thus, we have a solution to the peak oil problem. we can create a solar system full of oil-based planets and drill oil wells through space to tap these endless reservoirs of oil. it really seems brilliant. i'm sure Stockholm has already called.

You know you really might be on to something. Check out this link video from an extra-terrestrial. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1404974377259
He sounds a little crazy at first, but if you keep listening, he really makes some sense. As for condoms, the great thing about using one at the seabed level is there's nothing there to have to struggle to stretch it onto.

Dear fritzie-borgwardt,
"Silliness?" I don't think so. Yet, it would be more expeditious to use materials that are readily available. How about those huge drag nets commercial fishing ships use, with a fine-mesh screen sewn-in. This would allow water to flow through, but not the oil. Then, the oil rising off the stack and the now distant plumes could be sequestered, prevented from rising into currents...???

I know it would be an engineering challenge and we'd still have to deal with getting it all out of the water.

What about oversized weather balloons? Then we could use other helium balloons to pull them up! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_balloon It even contains the readily-available names of global companies that make them. I am trying to get in touch with my higher self, and I may be succeeding.

(See the video I posted for "third eye" above.) It amazingly came to me today only AFTER I re-posted this site's Einstein quote to my Facebook page. This alien apparently knew his own version.

Maybe you and I could go into business together and respond to the government's request for proposals? I'd be happy to supply the communications and marketing piece just to make something, anything that might work, happen.

Hi fritzie-borgwardt,
Balloons were discussed and dismissed as too fragile and too small. We need something that filters the oil out of the water while allowing gas and sediments to rise and fall away, as the case may be.

I like your spirit, keep plugging away at it...

Isn't the problem with these "capture the oil in big bags" proposals the gas trapped in the oil? From what I've read here, as the oil/gas rises from the bottom, the volume of the gas expands a lot due to reduced pressure. So, any bag/balloon/condom/pillowcase will need to be gigantic to contain the gas plus the oil, or someone needs to develop a porous substance that will let the gas pass through but not the oil.

Thanks Bendal. That's a start.

So let's just say the walls of the bag/balloon/condom/pillowcase were really, really thick. And yes, they would be ginormous. We are talking about the ocean here. Here's an uninformed question for a scientist. Would they float?

Can anyone name the absolutely most knowledgeable people on this site, those on oil drilling and those on just plain old physics and/or engineering? We also need someone who knows how to make gas and oil behave.

I really like your fishnet idea for the plumes that are already swirling in the water.

The weather balloon companies would have to re-tool and scale up, perhaps. And we'd need lots of people who know how to sew to put together such large swaths of mesh. The fishermen would have to use their boats to do a lot of collective tugging. And we'd likely need some folks to lob a lot of volleys at PR naysayers. That would mean hiring old guard newspeople who can get at the facts. And then we can use this site to solicit new energy proposals. It's amazing what folks can do when they work together. I'm not sure Halliburton is on that list. And then, of course, it might not work. At that time we could switch to plans for a Noah's bunker instead.

Will BP be responsible for all those Coast peoples Credit rating getting damaged. We all know if you are 30 days late they hit your credit hard. Do you think they will take that into consideration when they start compensating these fine folks.

I've already read where mortgage companies are being asked (and in some examples agreeing) to defer payments from people affected by this disaster. Don't know about other forms of debt, but at least for some people they won't have to worry about losing their homes.

BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.



Another Matt Simmons interview. It just gets more confusing and sadder. This time the water's burning.

Yeah, we talked about this one yesterday, I think, shelburn. We were focused on the the volume of 40% of the Gulf floor covered in 300-400 meters of "heavy oil," so we may have overlooked that little "burning" detail.

Not knowing this was a clip I'd already seen, I followed your link to the PO site. The opening advertisement when I watched the video was a 30-second spot by BP, touting their claims process and, while the clip was running, a Google screen overlay ad for plaintiff's lawyers hustling clients to sue BP popped up.

We are officially living in an altered state.

Simmons claims about the what the Jefferson was finding is what I find interesting. Has anyone seen any thing from the folks on the Jefferson shooting down Simmons claims ? He laid a lot of this off on them as saying the 40% figure.

...i don't know if Simmons is right or not but i heard something quite disturbing on wwl-870 New Orleans tonight...a caller stated that some kind of joint BBC/Discovery Channel investigation was happening about 5 miles from the initial spill site...he sounded really rattled and dejected at the news he reports hearing...4 leaks/fissures on the seabed...something around 6200 feet (maybe one of the disks downhole that we've been hearing about)...said that the operation had taken samples of the seafloor confirming something akin to the "oil lake" that Simmons opines...well casing damaged/destroyed...i was listening online but the caller had a bad connection so i just wrote as fast as i could the bits that were getting through...the guy sounded terrified...

I have questions. Is oil coming out of those fissures? Is it from the same reservoir? This is where it starts to break down for me. Okay, assume the well casing is damaged/destroyed. How does that turn into fissures 5 miles away given the sea floor hasn't collapsed?


From the very beginning there seemed to be more oil in the Gulf than was coming from the ROV site.

Simmons is talking most of the time about the leak? some seven miles away from the ROV site. Created by a screw up earlier which forced redirection of the drilling. Many of his critics are confused on this issue.

But if 40+ psi is impossible, then his theory is hogwash. For there is little doubt about his insistence on this. The fullness of time will prove him right or wrong but time right now is money and grief. And a lot of wasted time and money.

My other problem is that this seems to be the age of denial. Evolution, etc. With a hardcore vocal group that replaces science with personal attacks with no regard for truth.

The TJ's observations/data at the time Simmons made the claim showed "clouds" of very diffused oil, according to the TJ people - unless journalists reporting it got it wrong. Not a lake of oil.

If a major hurricane develops and the ships drilling the relief wells are forced to abandon their positions, how difficult is it for them to resume drilling afterwards? (my apologies if this has already been answered)

Relief well at 15.000 feet 11 days ahead of schedule

Simmons International has taken Matt's presentations off their website - anyone know where they can be found now? Used to be at http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/research.aspx?Type=msspeeches


I have 281 of them I downloaded, some are named by venue, but many are just numbered. They vary in size, most are under 5 meg.

Let me know what your pleasure might be.


Getting some fantastic back-lit shots of the plume at the top of the stack right now on Live feeds from Enterprise – ROV 2. Frankly, it looks just as ominous as ever...

Davids comment below is interesting. I am unable to get any images of BOP area on the BP site at the moment. Is this a coincidence?



"Hmmm. Watching Skandi-2-ROV, the top "cap" is some degrees off angle, and there's a great deal of strong bubbling activity coming up in waves that are jerking the structure. This is about 1 AM Mountain Time, so 2 AM Central.

Lots of sand being thrown.

-- thanks,


From CNN's "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on 6/16/10 (transcript at http://bit.ly/d7j4bb):

"BLITZER: One -- one expert said to me -- and I don't know if this is overblown or not -- that they're still really concerned about the structural base of this whole operation, if the rocks get moved, this thing could really explode and they're sitting, what, on -- on a billion potential barrels of oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Is that a real concern or is that just out of the question, unrealistic?

WERELEY: Well, I've heard concerns about the structural integrity of the well. In particularly, with the "top kill" -- the attempted "top kill," lots of cement and drilling mud was pumped into the well. And it didn't come shooting back out of the well and yet it didn't stop things.

So there is some conjecture that the -- the casing of the well is -- is faulty at some point. And what that suggests is that a "top kill" in which they -- you try to stop the flow from the top -- isn't going to work and a bottom kill is the way to go, which is what the -- the relief well would be classified as.

BLITZER: So how -- how fearful should we be about the structural integrity of that entire well?

WERELEY: Well, I think -- I doubt that it's degrading at this point. But that if, let's say if we put a big valve on top of the -- the blowout preventer and just turned it shut, that would put a tremendous amount of back pressure onto that casing -- the well casing. And that might be a bad idea at this point.

BLITZER: I suspect it would be."

NOTE: Werely also expressed confidence during this interview that the relief wells will work. Wereley is an associate engineering professor at Purdue University & a member of the gov. flow rate technical group that released the 35-60,000 barrel a day estimate.

If Werely is supposed to be a well-informed expert how come he seems to be talking rubbish?

1. He should have corrected Blitzer on the likely reservoir size.

2. What's this about "lots of cement and drilling mud was pumped into the well and it didn't come shooting back out of the well" during the top kill? I understood that they only used mud and it did immediately come shooting out - the whole problem was that they couldn't get it down hole!

3. "I doubt that it's [the well structural integrity] degrading at this point". Ongoing erosion HAS to be an issue, at least in the flowpath through the BOP. We can't know where else thbe flowpath is being opened up down hole.

He should limit himself to flow rate estimation. :-(

Apologies if this has already been posted:

Hayward estimates size of oil field at 2B gallons
Jun 17 06:29 PM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON (AP) - BP CEO Tony Hayward says the reservoir that feeds the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico probably still holds about 2 billion gallons of oil.

Appearing before a House subcommittee, Hayward estimated that the reservoir tapped by the out-of-control well holds at least 50 million barrels of oil. At 42 gallons per barrel, that's 2.1 billion gallons.

According to government estimates of daily flow figures, anywhere from 73.5 million to 126 million gallons gushed from the breached wellhead—whether into the water or captured.

That means the reservoir likely holds 94 to 97 percent of its oil. At the current flow rate, it would take from two to nearly four years for all the oil to leak from the field if it can't be stopped.


U.S. Petroleum Consumption 19,498,000 barrels/day

So, essentially all this destruction is really over less than 3 days worth of oil at our (US) present rate of consumption. It sickens me.

At least now I know where the 2 billion number came from....somebody "translated" gallons into barrels - again!

It comes from the same people who can't quite parse out the difference between automatic and semi-auto when it comes to guns and think that every semi-auto rifle that looks funky is an assault weapon.

Excuse me... he said 2B gallons. Are you saying it's 2B barrels?

Here is a link to one of the most informative pieces on oil prices I have seen in a while. It should likely be posted as a new article on the Oildrum. In it Faisal Khan of Citibank (I believe formerly of Oppenheimer) concludes there has been a 200% increase in finding and development costs and F&D costs have been rising at an almost exponential rate since 2000 rising to $18 per barrel recently. He believes oil has to rise to $80 to cover that cost and this also confirms my belief that oil will continue to rise in price due to the cost push of rising production costs (not to mention supply and demand imbalances).

whole article link:

The most telling paragraph: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/2010-F-And-D-Costs-At-18-Per-twst-15988669...

Mr. Khan: It will be. The way we set our oil price forecast here at Citi is based on an asset replacement analysis. When we survey almost 400 companies around the world that drill and explore for oil, costs have been rising over the last 10 years, and more so over the last five years, at an almost exponential rate. Form 2000 to 2004, we saw finding and development, F And D, costs rise from $4 to $6 per barrel. By 2008 we saw those costs rise to $18 per barrel. This is massive cost inflation. In order for companies to meet their cost of capital at $18 per barrel in F And D costs, we need an $80 oil price. So far these costs have been flattening out. A higher level of regulation could add to that. However, in the grand scheme of things ,it's hard to say if the Gulf of Mexico will have a huge impact on the overall cost structure across the world

Scientific American is hosting the blog of the research vessel alluded to upthread (as BBC/Discovery Channel) as heard on the radio. As of just now unfortunately the blog hasn't been updated since June 14:


I'm intrigued by the sea-floor "collapse" theory (or the variations of it). This has been mentioned several times on this site and a couple of looney-fringe sites, and here it has been commented on and debated by some intelligent and knowledgeable people. Yet the mainstream media still not to have cottoned on to the theory and thrown it out to the public.

Knowing the media, I'd have thought that someone somewhere would have come across this and released it to the public as a sensationalist story at the very least, or as a human concern item. But I can't find any references to it anywhere. Is there a reason for this ? Might there be a gagging order on this subject, to prevent mass panic ?

On this matter, I believe I have some expertise. I am not sure if the public knows the difference between a submerged gusher and a collapse of the ocean floor, or what the results of such an event might be. I know I don't. As for the media, they probably don't either, and may be afraid to show ignorance. The media has been scaring the public for so long the jury is out on whether the complacent populace would even care. Even now, I am amazed by the way folks are just going about their business as usual.

As for a gag order, that would happen only if President Obama was following someone's advice whose knowledge he believed to be superior to his own on the topic. And even then, that administration or business official could be untrustworthy, or even a political plant to help the President fail. I don't know if President Obama would think that way, but this partisan politics thing has gotten pretty sophisticated. I know this from personal experience with it.

If the news IS being held back, it is only because it cannot be delivered without a plan, not just for a solution, but a plan for how everyone should behave if it turns out to be true. And any politician who tells people how to behave has to be afraid of what the corporate-owned media and the PR machine will do to his or her chances of staying in office.

That's where we sit as a nation. And, as a journalist by trade and training, I for one would not attempt to tell and document that story without a plan, either. That's why I am hoping the experts on this site will collectively work with me on the science in order to develop one.

fritzie, I think you're right about that. It all comes down to fairly basic things, right or wrong. I agree, there needs to be a plan, and probably that plan relies first and foremost on honesty.

Maybe, just maybe, the media is exercising due caution on this subject and discovering that they can find no independent analyst who can agree with Simmons' doomsday claims. Without an independent verification, they're reluctant to go public with it.

At least I hope that's what they're doing.

Yeah, they don't have the expertise and two independent sources they can believe. So I wish they were working on calling for a solution instead.

I'm intrigues by that, as well. And agree about the looney-fringe sites.

Yet it does seem plausible. The problem is we have a bunch of engineers and armchair engineers here, but very few geologists.

About "mass panic," I agree. It smells very much like 2000-2001 when there was a lot of government discombobulation about what was going on with the economy. Well... now we know. But at that time I was amazed that the government was making things seem a-okay.

Another scare for the folks...

Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns

2 hrs 21 mins ago
NEW ORLEANS – It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.
The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.
"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said....


And we were worried about cow farts?

Yes, but. We've apparently discovered now that whale poop is an effective weapon against global warming, even though their farts are problematic. So the news isn't all bad.

That article link has too many redirects, and when I cut it down to the original the article's not there. Am I missing something? Or do you guys need even MORE moms on this site.

Much better. But I didn't see anything about whale poop.

No, that had its own article yesterday.


I know that Im new here, but I still wanted to pass the message. Accoding to my research, the oil leak flow rate is up from 8 to 15 millions liter daily since the beginning of the disaster. Tendancy increasing! Please keeep this in mind. I know it sounds crazy, but the future will very well prove me right.

Furthermore there exist no technologies to cope with the disaster. It is a scandal, that oil companies were and still are allowed to drill in such high risk environments without any existent and proven safety techniques and procedures.

In addition to that, there are rumours in the foreign press that the sea floor is fractured beyond repair, and that there are a great number of leaks. Please check it own on your own, and give me some feedback.

Many thanks,

People sick from the high toxin concentrations.

Regardless of the actual flow rate, it took less than two months for that gunk to get in LA marshlands.
Tony Hayward says the field has 2bn barrels left.

2 bn / flow rate = disaster

Hayward, 2B gallons. 2B gallons. Not barrels. Divide by 42.

That's ~94000 gallons/day. Higher than most but not all current estimates, and certainly plausible. Yes, the flow has been increasing, to be expected from a well with a bad casing. I don't know what foreign press you're referring to but a lot of unsubstantiated claims have been coming from conspiracy websites, based on Russian sources that have the look and feel of agitprop.

I saw a couple conspiracy articles referencing Russian sites, but couldn't confirm their phantom source material for the sensational parts of the story. The closest I came was finding the tidbit of truth that Russian Mir subs were used to scan the sea floor.

The second article quoted izvestia.ru, which is where the conspiracy article got the guy's name from:
FTA: "Izvestia daily reported on Monday that BP's management had asked Anatoly Sagalevich of Russia's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, which owns the mini-submarines, for assistance in eliminating the oil spill's consequences in the Gulf of Mexico."

Putting on a tin foil hat for a moment…

So, here’s me and my silly questions. What if Simmons is both right and wrong? What would it look like if there were a structural collapse of a chunk the GOM that is hydraulically connected to the BP well? What if this collapse opened up a crack somewhere and while BP is trying to figure out what to do with their well (the part they’re liable for and which can be televised without panicking everyone) there are a host of other ships (they’re not telling us how much coastguard is in the area) looking at and studying a problem they’re not sure what to do with.

Would this help explain the “not BP oil” claims we’ve been hearing about some of the slicks they’re finding? Would a sudden pressurization help to explain 40% methane composition oil?

1. Is this a realistic scenario?
2. Is there anything that would clue us into a situation like this?

/Tin Foil Hat

The indisputable evidence that we are not hearing the whole truth is the quiet and silence on the subsidiary spills which Simmons said there is at least one 7 miles away.

We know the well casing is being abraded by sand from the uncontrolled release --- and even if it is not failed already (the evidence is that it has), it will eventually fail.

Are we at risk of this event setting off geological scale (vs. human scale) events?

There are no answers without questions, so no sincere question is silly. When Hayward points to 2 billion GALLONS does he know how much gas is in it? Or is he just counting the oil itself.

Given that no one really knows what's happening beyond our line of sight makes for a great opportunity to conjecture. Of course, as D. Rumsfeld would say, " there are things we know, things we don't know, things we know we don't know . . .".

So, until this plays out, trying to come to some understanding of the status, probabilities or prospects of any aspect of what is going on on the seabed and beneath it requires that we weigh the opinions being put forth using both the available data and the opinions of those who have experience in dealing with these things (actually, that would be these things — on a smaller scale). Credibility of the source is very important right now. Unfortunately, it's very difficult for a layman to separate the credible from the merely possible. That this is a doomsday event even seems credible, at this point, as there is no sure solution on the horizon.

That said, I have some questions regarding bits of information regarding the oil/gas deposit, the geology of the area surrounding the well/bore, the well bore and drilling process, and the various claims that the sea floor either is, or can be fractured by our attempts to shut this thing down. For now, here are a couple:

oil/gas deposit:

1. There have been various news articles regarding the size of this deposit and its makeup. One that filtered in claimed that the mass of NG trapped in this formation is 10,000 X that of the oil, and that there would not be a realistic means to burn this mass off, should the well not be capped or the sea floor be compromised.

T or F?

2. I there a possibility that the improperly drilled well could be responsible for oil/gas seeping from the sea floor at a distance of 5 - 7 miles? If so, what mechanism or force would have caused this to happen?


1. Is there a possibility that this well sits in a karst (or its submarine equivalent) formation (e.g., is the reservoir holding the oil a relatively uniform shape — like the inside of a bubble, or is it riven through with fractures or eroded areas?

2. Ia an area of negative pressure being created somewhere else in the formation by the release of pressure caused by the blow out, or is there some means by which the pressure reduction within the deposit is naturally rebalanced, or is the rock containing the deposit strong enough to maintain its integrity without the pressure of the deposit?