Deepwater Oil Spill - the BP CEO and Congress - and Open Thread

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There are many people who have questions for Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP. (For those behind the times, they changed their name from British Petroleum some 9 years ago.) Today was the turn of Congress.

But before going to that testimony, the current status for things in the Gulf, as far as oil recovery from the Deepwater Horizon well oil spill is:

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 8,000 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.

That means that oil recovery from the well, which is the sum of that collected and that flared is now reaching a level of 25,000 bd. The capacity of the current system is around 28,000 bd, beyond which they will need to wait for the change in vessels, risers and for the new cap now planned for the end of the month. This will mean that the Q4000 will be disconnected, and control of the valves at the BOP also transferred.

Although it is difficult to tell from the ROV feeds, it appeared earlier that the venting ports at the top of the LMRP cap might have been closed, so that BP are now much closer to capturing all the oil and gas leaking from the well. The feed from the Skandi ROV1 for example seems to have more gas in it than previously. Similarly at the time this was written the vertical feed into the DP at the top of the cap can be seen, from the Enterprise ROV2 feed.

ROV view of the LMRP cap June 17th 8:30 pm

There were five questions that Mr. Hayward was warned that he would be asked about, before he appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. However while the committee obviously focused on the events at the particular well (Mississippi Canyon 252 – the Macondo well) which had the disastrous failure, they seemed to find it difficult to accept that, prior to the disaster, and with BP drilling hundreds of wells a year, the CEO’s only knowledge of the well had been that he had heard that it was a successful discovery. Congressman Waxman, for example, dwelt on the ignorance of BP top management about the well.

You are the CEO, so we considered the possibility that you may have delegated the oversight responsibility to someone else. We reviewed the e-mails and briefing documents received by Andy Inglis, the chief executive for exploration and production, and Doug Suttles, the chief operating officer for exploration and production and the person now leading BP’s response to the spill.

According to BP, these are the senior officials who were responsible for the Macondo well. But they too were apparently paying no attention. We could find no evidence that either of them received any e-mails or briefings about the Deepwater Horizon rig or the drilling activities at the well.

It was the Subcommittee Chair, Congressman Stupak who outlined the areas of concern that are being investigated:

We have learned that time and again BP officials had warning signs that this was – as one employee put it – “a nightmare well”. They made choices that set safety aside in exchange for cost cutting and time saving decisions. For example

 They disregarded questionable results from pressure tests after cementing in the well.

 BP selected the riskier of two options for their well design. They could have hung a liner from the lower end of the casing already in the well and install a “tieback” on top of the liner, which would have provided additional barriers to a release of hydrocarbons. Instead they lowered a full string of new casing, which took less time and cost less, but did not provide the same protection against escaping hydrocarbons.

 BP was warned by their cement contractor Halliburton that the well could have a “SEVERE gas flow problem” if BP lowered the final string of casing with only six centralizers instead of the 21 Halliburton recommended. BP rejected Halliburton’s advice to use additional centralizers and in an e-mail on April 16, a BP official involved in the decision explained: “it will take 10 hours to install them. ... I do not like this.”

 BP chose not to fully circulate the mud in the well from the bottom to the top, which was an industry recommended best practice that would have allowed them to test for gas in the mud.

 BP chose not to use a casing hanger lockdown sleeve, which would have provided extra protection against a blowout from below.

In his written response, Mr. Hayward first addressed the processes that BP are going through to address the current problems (cutting off the oil flow to the Gulf, cleaning it up and compensating those who have been damaged and economically impacted). He pointed to seven areas in which BP have focused their inquiries into the incident.

The investigation is focused on the following seven mechanisms:

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;

2. The casing system, which seals the wellbore;

3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;

4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the blowout preventer (BOP) and the maintenance of that BOP;

5. The BOP Emergency Disconnect System, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;

6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig; and;

7. Features in the BOP to allow ROVs to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blowout.

The video of the testimony is available from the Subcommittee website.

In his opening questions, Congressman Waxman noted that the BP decision to use a single production casing was rebutted by the heads of the other large Oil Companies who had earlier testified before Congress, the reason being that it provided “”an unrestricted pathway for gas to travel up the well through the annular space that surrounded the casing, and of course, it blew out the seal.” Mr. Hayward pointed out that this was the original design for the well, and that it had been approved by the MMS. There was then a debate as to whether a long string, or a 7-inch liner would be most appropriate. The decision to use the long string was based in part on the long term integrity of the well.

Congressman Waxman pointed to a BP memo which included that the use of the long casing consequence would include that “it is unlikely to be a successful cement job, and that it would provide an open annulus to the wellhead.” In contrast the use of the 7-inch liner would largely obviate these risks.

When Mr Hayward tried to answer that, the Congressman cut him off and accused him of stonewalling, refusing to accept that the decision was made based on an engineering judgment – which was the point that the CEO was trying to make. Mr Hayward tried to make the point that the long casing was not an unusual design in the Gulf of Mexico wells, to which the Congressman responded with Halliburton testimony that it was only used in 2 – 10% of the wells, and when Mr Hayward said that he would not personally judge which decision was correct, which the Congressman found unacceptable.

It was that sort of a day for the BP CEO and the full video of the investigative hearing can be downloaded, as I noted.

As the above exchange illustrated, there was not a lot of useful new information that came from the afternoon (though I must admit I had other things to do and did not watch most of it).

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First relief well is ahead of schedule and at depth of around 16,000 ft (18,000 ft target depth) and is reported to be within about 200 ft of the blow out well. So close but yet so far. At some point soon, they guide relief well down and drill tangentially to blow out well for about 1000 ft before finally intersecting it - a glancing blow?

This greatly increases the target size and also means that they graze the casing of the blow out well, reducing possibility of a sudden pressure surge?

Any readers ever been involved in drilling relief wells before and able to elaborate on procedure?

they are still in drill mode until they get to +-17,000'.....right now they are positioning the RW ....two things they are wanting here
1- to get tangential to the leaking well in the SAME or offset plane of reference (preferably the same plane) and keep fine tuning it till they get to around 17,000
2- they will be looking to establish magnetics with the leaking well...establish a baseline background at +-200' going all the way to 17,000' .....this will help smooth out noise at a later stage when to go into ranging mode

at some point they will be needing to find out the rock frac pressure by intentionally fracturing the formation rock a little to see what the rock is able to withstand but this will be at a later stage..cuz this will establish the max pump rate during btm kill

What is RW?

Is magnetics the best short range guidance? How accurate?

What actually happens when drill bit meets casing? - and they make a hole?

RW = Relief Well. When you are 16,000 feet down in a hole there are not many ways to "see" where you are. The blown out well has a steel casing that you can find with Hall sensors, and other types of magnetic instruments. I don't know what other instruments they may use.

I believe when they make a hole in the blown out well they will push as much heavy mud into it the formation will handle. The mud as it is carried up will add weight to the flow going up the blow out. At some point the weight of the mud will exceed the pressure from the formation below. At this point the flow will stop, and the well can be cemented.

I hate the fact that I can't talk about this in detail due to some intelectual property issues on my current job, but I want to tell you guys not to worry about the intersection.

The Unified command (which sounds like something from "Atlas Shrugged" or "1984") and BP has the best of the best on the job and all they have ot do is not mess with them. They need to listen to them and stay the hell out of their way.

Finding the target well should be rather easy and for all you old timers, you don't have to mill or drill into the target well to gain access. You don't have to do this in a way that risk well control of the intervention well and that's all I can say.

The Unified command ... and BP has the best of the best on the job and all they have to do is not mess with them. They need to listen to them and stay the hell out of their way.

Couldn't agree more - look at the fantastic job they did on the design of the well, the drilling of the well - and above all, the response to the blowout (both above and below the surface) - exemplary. I say let's not have ANY oversight at all - let the pros loose.

I'm not sure if I made myself clear, so let me try again.

BP and the Unified Command needs to stay out of the way of the SERVICE companies that are going to fix their screw up.

The unified command can have oversight, but they have no expertise so they need to stay out of the way and watch just like BP needs to stay out of the way.

When a Wild Well professional shows up to a blow out the first thing they do is put the guy who caused the blow out in his place and take charge. You don't let the system and the people who caused the problem attempt to fix it, because their track record stinks.

So which companies have the credentials to do this?

Those companies with those credentials are on the rigs already, that's why I don't feel guilty about the fact that I can't give you guys details. The fact that I'm a "talker" by nature bothers me, because I like the discussion.

The information I have but can't give out doesn't slow anything down unless BP doesn't follow these guys instructions then who knows. The guys that will locate the target well have a high success ratio. I'm just a fly on the wall.

I recall a Boots and Coots operating manager on one of the BP video handouts suggesting that this RW will not be a problem. I had the impression they were drilling the new well.

They would have been my first call, (I wonder if they were BP's?)

I think I've heard this company is qualified:

Disaster in the making, yet intellectual property comes first. Sounds very capitalistic.

I agree, but all of my fricken bill collectors are capitalist except for the property tax assessor she's a pinko.

you don't have to mill or drill into the target well to gain access.


Open sesame?

Your going to have to think about this one!

OK - I was talking to some retired BP engineers a couple of weeks back. They said they would drill to point of intersection of blow out well and reservoir - so that's one way to gain access. Obviously if you drill parallel to blow out well for a 1000 ft then you can reach this point with confidence and also reduce risks of catastrophic pressure rise drilling through blown out pipe.

BP need to revise their block diagram?! are they worried about damaging the reservoir with that method? Or not?

I doubt that reservoir damage is an issue.

You think they are not worried about it? Or it isn't an issue with the techniques being used?


1- differential sticking principles to suck the RW in are IMHO very tricky in current conditions .....unless Wright and his team have more information ....which I'm sure they do ...but even then i doubt this will work considering the geology here.....thin slicesof shale and sands (most of which seem to be plumbed somewhere higher...hvnt seen all the logs)

2- other than that ....the only one i know is a hot tap ...but a hot tap will for sure not work here because the formation will frac long before required pump rates can be achieved

IMHO i will be very surprised if short of milling in they can kill Ol' faithful here

Subsurface hot tapping sounds tricky, I'd wondered if it was possible at the well head before. Didn't know if it was possible.

Looks like JW has taken down the tech litterature, other than the welcome pages? I posted a link to it, but apparently the comment got moderated out. (apologies)...

OK, I'll throw some ideas out and see if any come close :)

Here is a well depiction originally from (Times-Picayune).

Below 17168, the only pipe in the well is the 7" casing. This runs for 1200'. While drilling the RW along the outside of this casing means there is only one casing wall between the RW (relief well) drill bit and the WW (wild well) internal area.

If the rupture is outside this casing, there should be Oil & Gas in the RW returns and possibly RW mud loss to the WW. Could this be easily detected in the WW produced fluids? Pushing kill mud at this point should kill the WW if this is the only flow path.

Another option could be to explosively perforate the WW casing from the outside. Could this be safely done below the RW casing? Or plug the RW bottom and back up some to perforate through both WW & RW casing?

"Or plug the RW bottom and back up some to perforate through both WW & RW casing?"

This sounds like a great idea, because you could also have a packer in place as to not allow the relief well to be compromised by any influx or fluid losses to the WW.

PW asked: [Is] an area of negative pressure being created somewhere else in the formation by the release of pressure caused by the blow out[?]
That's what bothers me. Is linear cavitation a possibility, however unlikely?

WT -- I guess the quesion is more about a pressure differential than a "negative pressure". When any well is produced (even a strong water drive reservoir) there is a pressure reduction ("draw down") close to the well bore. Not sure what a linear cavitation is. But when there is excessive draw down a number of problems can arise. It can cause enough pressure differential to pull water up ("coning") into the perforations and damage/kill the oil flow. Unfortunately this doesn't appear to be happening. A high draw down can also cause excessive sand cut. This might have been happening in the BP well at various times. This potential draw down may also be why the RW appears to be targeting an intersection above the reservoir: the pressure sink around the reservoir could make the kill process much more complicated. Hopefully they'll feed us more details when they get closer to the cut.

That's exactly the kind of information I needed, and your centroid explanation was also very clear. Now I have enough info to study for quite some time. Thanks!

Cavitation occurs when there is a zone with strong negative pressure created in the flow. You can induce it even in a flow that has a strong positive pressure in general, through rapid variations in the flow channel dimensions. It can be ferociously erosive particularly in a pressurized environment, but given the overall level of pressures in this situation it is less likely now to exist, though it may have earlier within the BOP. At higher ambient pressures the range over which the cavitation causes damage reduces very rapidly, but it does eat out metal, though the way in which it does it differs from that of sand erosion, and if the BOP is ever recovered you can (using a microscope) differentiate between damage caused by either process.

Thanks HO. So I gather it's more of a potential factor in the production tubulars/BOP then in the reservoir itself. All I can remember about cavitation is an article I read in grammer school about cavitation chewing up boat propellers.

From an earlier thread.


Cavitation is the formation of vapour bubbles of a flowing liquid in a region where the pressure of the liquid falls below its vapor pressure. Cavitation is usually divided into two classes of behavior: inertial (or transient) cavitation, and noninertial cavitation. Inertial cavitation is the process where a void or bubble in a liquid rapidly collapses, producing a shock wave. Such cavitation often occurs in control valves, pumps, propellers, impellers, and in the vascular tissues of plants. Noninertial cavitation is the process in which a bubble in a fluid is forced to oscillate in size or shape due to some form of energy input, such as an acoustic field. Such cavitation is often employed in ultrasonic cleaning baths and can also be observed in pumps, propellers, etc.

Since the shock waves formed by cavitation are strong enough to significantly damage moving parts, cavitation is usually an undesirable phenomenon. It is specifically avoided in the design of machines such as turbines or propellers, and eliminating cavitation is a major field in the study of fluid dynamics.

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, might have led to base-level flow from the bottom of the reservoir emptying it and causing catastrophic downstream flooding.

Thanks for the link to the story about what happened to the Glen Canyon Dam. Makes you realize there are some pretty awesome forces at work in something as large as the mass of water behind a huge dam.

The pictures from the Tarbella High Dam failure in Pakistan are more impressive.

HO - got a link?

Speaking of dam problems the Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station in Karsnoyarsk region of Siberia has a few. I believe it is in the world top 10 for hydro generation [#6 actually, and largest in Russia] and a year ago bolts on the cover of one of its turbines failed and the spinning turbine blew out into the machinery hall:

On 3 October 2009 the official report about Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro accident was published. (See the main article for full translated details.)

In summary, it states that the accident was primarily caused by vibrations of turbine № 2 which led to fatigue damage of the mountings of the turbine, including its cover. The report found that at the moment of the accident, the nuts on at least 6 bolts keeping the turbine cover in place were absent. After the accident, 49 found bolts were investigated: 41 had fatigue cracks. On 8 bolts, the fatigue-damaged area exceeded 90% of the total cross-sectional area.

On the day of the accident, turbine № 2 worked as the plant's power output regulator. At 8:12 the turbine № 2 output power was reduced by an automatic turbine regulator, and it entered into a powerband unrecommended for the head pressure that day. Shortly afterwards the bolts keeping the turbine № 2 cover in place were broken. Under water pressure (about 20 atmospheres) the spinning turbine with its cover, rotor and upper parts jumped out of the casing, destroying the machinery hall equipment and building.

Pressurised water immediately flooded the rooms and continued damage to the plant. At the same time, an alarm was received at the power station's main control panel, and the power output fell to zero, resulting in a local blackout. But it took 25 minutes to manually close the water gates to the other turbines; during that time they continued to spin — without load.

The dam also apparently has problems dealing with high water flows in the spring made more acute because normal flow through the turbines has been shut off while $1.2 billion dollars in repairs are being made following the accident.

The dam was privatized in 1993 (bought by the aluminum consortium that uses most of the power)and the operation has been run for profit while necessary maintenance was deferred.

Finally! a topic I actually know something about. You are correct that cavitation is more likely a problem for metal components than the reservoir itself.

Cavitation is a change of state of a liquid to a vapor (bubble forms) as pressure reduces and the subsequent violent collapse of that bubble upon pressure recovery. This commonly happens in valves as the fluid velocity increases through the restriction in the valve (vena contracta) the static pressure decreases below the vapor pressure of the liquid and bubbles form. As the fluid reaches larger flow areas downstream of the vena contracta the velocity decreases and the static pressure increases collapsing the bubbles.

The higher the pressure drop and recover, the more damage. It can chew the hell out of metal. However, all liquids are not the same when it comes to cavitation damage. Surface tension properties of the liquid as well as the density have a lot to do with the amount of damage. Water, especially seawater are the worst. Oil, especially light oil and distillates are not very damaging at all when they cavitate.

Multi-stage valves (and other restrictions) can be designed to prevent this phenomenon. In fact, it's what I do for a living. The BOP stack is acting as a multi-stage valve with each set of rams taking only part of the total pressure drop. There is very little chance of cavitation damage in the BOP because of the fluid and the relatively small drops at each stage. I think all of the damage is probably erosion.

I worry about a hard connection with a cap because unless topsides control of the pressure in the cap is very good, we could get a gas lift effect in the column and significantly reduce the back pressure on the well. The outlet pressure is now about 2,300 psig, but if this were reduced, the well would flow more. The multi-stage effect in the stack will prevent much if not all of the cavitation and so-called "choked flow" that would limit the flow if it were a single orifice.
This is a link to a company that makes huge, heavy-duty bladders of up to 50,000 gallons in size.
I will be talking to them about the government request for proposal. They are sub-oceanic and designed to contain petro-chemicals. They fold flat and expand. Yet this company has been contacted only about boom materials.

The bladder idea may run into some problems due to the methane that's coming from the well. The oil is liquid, so it obviously doesn't expand much as it moves from the bottom of the GOM to the surface. However, the methane does since it's a gas.

Let's use the ideal gas equation (van der Waals equation of state would be better) to approximate the expansion.


The number of moles, n, will stay constant and R is already a constant. Let's assume the temperature, T, is constant, too (it's not but will only increase the change of volume). So, if the right hand side is constant, we can use the relation p1V1 = p2V2.

p1 = pressure at bottom of GOM = 150 atm (approximately)

V1 = gas volume at bottom of GOM = 1,000 gal (I'm just making this up, but for a 50,000 gal bladder that's only 2% methane. probably low)

p2 = surface pressure = 1 atm

V2 = p1V1 / p2 = (150 atm)*(1,000 gal) / (1 atm) = 150,000 gal

If the bladder can withstand pressures of 150 atm or 2,000 psi, it could keep the gas compressed to its initial volume of 1,000 gal. If not, it would have to expand about 4 times to 200,000 gal (49,000 gal of oil + 150,000 gal worth of methane).

Eh, maybe my logic is faulty. Maybe much of the gas stays dissolved in the oil. Can't say I have much experience with pressurized gasses, but it's a thought.

btw- Sorry for previous snide comments.

I've suggested this before, as well as responding to similar comments about gas release.

Vent the bags. Gas is much lighter than oil, and rises to the top. Anchor the bags from one edge, to maximize the separation distance of gas and oil.

Use an internal float valve to prevent loss of oil (refer to snorkel float for design. You'd need a stiffer ball, maybe hard rubber.)

Watch your ideology. Losses must be balanced against wild well losses.

Use easy-connect piping, like fire hoses, on teed or multiple manifold.

Anchor weight to balance lift when full, then they bob at the surface for towing or pump-out. Lift for 50k gallons is
.05 to .10 of total weight of oil in bag, minus bag weight and anchors. (.9 to .95 spec. grav.)

THIS is what I'm talking about! Anyone have more?


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.

If the neighbourhood been infected where can we go???

I understand that if the ECD exceeds the difference between the shales fracture weight/pressure in the sealing shale (is that the correct description?) and the reservoir pressure you have an "issue" so is it possible to reduce the ECD by e.g. slowing down the pumps or drilling?

Is it possible to determine the shales fracture weight before drilling?

Thanks for all your time spent here, I don't even have time to keep up to date let alone write this.

That's exactly how the micro-manage MW Tony: vary the pump strokes to adjust the ECD while drilling. But the problem still arises when you have to stop the pumps completely when you make/break a drill pipe connection. The pore pressure plot does give an estimate of the shale frac gradient. I think it was around 15.5 - 16 ppg. They can also do an "OHLOT" (open hole leak off test) in the RW when they get close. They stop drilling and slowly raise the pump pressure. When the rocks start to fracture mud will be lost and pressure will break back. They'll probably do this when they get close to the cut point. This way they'll know the safe limit of MW (including ECD) they can use.

I've worked for some of the "bad eggs" in the industry that use ECD to hold the well in check and then they spot heavy mud on bottom in order to be able to (TIH) pull the drilling assembly out of the hole. Every bit of gas they get is always referred to as "background gas" or "connection gas" in order to keep the contractor from forcing them to set another casing string or even plugging the well, because when they really don't want to.

When my engineers call me on the rig to find what the lowest fracture gradient and the highest pore pressure within that particular section of open hole is, I might tell them it's a 15.2 pound per gallon equivalent mud weight. At that point they usually ask which one is a 15.2 PPG EMW and I say BOTH!

That's usually when there is a moment of uncomfortable silence.

TOD contributors.

Would someone please contribute some expertise and knowhow about:

A) the geology of the formation --- what do we know, what can we infer, and what do we need to know?

B) what are the risks with the hydrates formations there?

C) Is there a risk (however small) that this event have the potential to unleash geological scale forces?

Major areas of concern would be:

- stability of the undersea formations with respect to mud / land / sediment slides

- stability of the gas hydrates there


On geology - the deep water Gulf of Mexico reservoirs tend to be geologically very young - ultimate source for sediment is the Mississippi. Very rapid burial, over pressure and young age means that the reservoirs are often poorly consolidated sand. One problem here is that the sand can get produced with the oil.

On hydrates - these tend to be on surface of sea floor and shallow sub-surface. Their stability is favoured by high pressure and low temperature. I wouldn't worry too much about either catastrophic depressurisation or warming on large scale. The hydrates will stay where they are.

Geological scale forces - oil production like this has been taking place across the whole gulf for decades - just that the oil is contained in pipes and tankers and you only see it when you spill some at the gas pump.

The greatest threat you have at present is from pollution - much of the oil will evaporate, much gets eaten by bacteria. Some unfortunately makes land fall.

Worst case scenario is uncontrolled underground blow out - that is they lose the well and oil blows from reservoir into shallower layers. This will eventually lead to pressure equalistaion, and its a long way for that oil to reach surface.

The relief wells will work - I suspect the absolute top drilling engineers in the world are working on this.

Got cut off by the new thread, so here's a reply to a comment about overpressured shales, referring to the electric log in the pdf linked to in the last thread:
It's the little silts and thin sands within that overpressured shales that give the most problem. See the zone starting at 17,720? and the little hard streak at the bottom of that? (you can tell by the ROP drop they had coming out of the thin zone. This was contributing fluid to the borehole. It's hard to say immediately if this was pure salt water or gas without a porosity/neutron log. But it contributing some sort of kick by the reports. The shales around it are a higher pressure shale and even though the shales contribute very little to the fluids within the small sands trapped within, that's what has happened in this case. Additionally, if you drill a shale underbalanced (and this used to be done with frequency) you can get away with it. The shales will almost pop off into the borehole. When they do, the shale bits will curl a little bit. They call it "spalling". Mud men see this and report. Spalling shales were the first evidence you're going into a new pressure zone. Normally, you can handle this as you're drilling. The first real porosity you get, you better have something at the ready, meaning higher weight mud. The problem is with the lower pressure zone below. You take a kick, gas is in your wellbore, expanding on the way up, which is making your mud weight lighter coming out than you're putting in. You weight up, but the lower pressure zone (in this case the pay sands at the bottom) take the fluid in. When the sands at the bottom take the fluid in, the fluid in the wellbore drops, and you lose that column of mud and the pressure keeping back the high pressure zone comes in again. It's a vicious circle. You toss lost circulation material at the well. You hope it plugs up the zone taking the fluid so you can weight up enough to keep the high pressure zone from flowing.

And then you get the casing ready, because you can't keep up that all month long. Does the bit knock off your lost circulation material stuck to the side of your low pressure sands? Scary stuff.

It's hard to say immediately if this was pure salt water or gas without a porosity/neutron log.

R2: Have another look at that document. Isn't that a neutron porosity log on the leftmost column of the chart? There is a gamma ray trace measured in api units.

Noob questions, and apologies if these has been asked before

Why so deep on the relief wells? Looking at the BP graphics, it appears that they are aiming for a point only slightly above the reservoir, which involves a lot of drilling when they could go in at a much more shallow depth. I'm guessing it's due to the geology of the rock- other TOD posters have commented that the rock in the area is barely set sandstone, and they're aiming for something like a shale layer where they have a better chance of containing the flow?

Once in, how are they going to manage the connection between the old and new bores? With the amount of sand coming through, I'd assume there is going to be a lot of abrasion around the point where they break in- are they just going to cement it ASAP or is there some trick they'll use to prevent a lot of erosion?

If you have a certain pressure you have to balance, you can only do it with a column of mud. The taller the column, the less dense the heavy mud has to be. Problem is, if you tried to apply that at a shallow depth, that pressure would indeed balance the blowout well, but would fracture the formation the rest of your own relief well is in, and you'd lose fluids to the fractured shales, and you wouldn't be able to keep the heavy mud in your wellbore for control.

I thought of this, but that then begs the question of why they tried top kill at all. I really wonder about the level of concern about the stability of the formation below the BOP- it seems like there's significant reason to worry about the scenario you mention, but then top kill would have been the absolute worst idea available.

The top kill was worth a try. The operators figured that if the casing was not too badly compromised then pumping mud in from the top might work, stopping the flow of oil out the wellhead and into the Gulf. They couldn't pump enough mud into the well to stop the flow and they believed it was dispersing sideways through broken casings and failed joints down in the well bore. At that point they stopped before the extra pressure of the mud did more damage to the casing.

ed -- Just speculation on my part but that maybe why the feds supposedly made BP stop the top kill: fear that they might fracture the shallower csg shoes and cause and undergorund blow out or breach the shallow rocks and let the oil leak out that way.

Going so deep is needed because there is where there is a geological formation (salt I think) that can take the pressure.

The sedimentary rocks above that layer cannot take the pressure.

It also may be an implicit admission that the existing wellbore is (or likely to be) compromised to a considerable depth.

A followup on fraud.

E L posted a comment:

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.
[ ... ]

I entirely agree. But one part of the burden is easy. The proof of intent to defraud is easy if the liar has a short stock position. The reason for the lie is to make money, and you are making the money at the expense of the other party to the trade. What is very hard to prove, however, is that the liar knew that what she or he was saying was false. You have to show that the liar received information that would lead any reasonable person to the true facts, and then continued to lie. But the jury has a lot of say here.

cud: "You have to show that the liar received information that would lead any reasonable person to the true facts, and then continued to lie...." And there's the mess. In one sentence. If the information is not in writing (try sorting out contradictory oral statements beyond a reasonable doubt)... If the defendant received the information beyond a reasonable doubt... If a reasonable person would believe the information beyond a reasonable doubt... Prosecute that without a written statement from the defendant saying "I know I'm screwing little old grandmas and lovin' it." That's why emails hang people. BTW, juries don't care much if one rich person screws another. That's just business to a juror.

[I now leave this topic to darkness and to you.]

No surprise that Tony Hayward stonewalled and refused to answer questions at the Congressional hearing. He probably doesn't mind looking like an idiot as long as BP's game plan is executed, which was to not offer any substantial information regards the DWH incident.

Since the man has a talent for saying the wrong thing, it is just too bad that none of the committee members used an approach to get him to talk...he probably would have hung himself before very long. The dream committee for questioning this guy should include Nancy Grace, Judge Judy, and Rachel Maddow. He wouldn't stand a chance.

While I am not going to defend BP decisions, or the way Mr Heyward responded yesterday, I have given technical testimony in court before. It is very difficult sometimes to give an honest technical answer when the person questioning you says "give me a yes or no answer?" and the answer is actually neither. You try and explain this and get accused of not answering the question. I tried to illustrate this with the exchange with Congressman Waxman. He, obviously, wanted Mr Heyward to say that the company had made a wrong decision on the casing. But there were arguments on both sides, for that decision. The hearing was not set up so that these could be aired.

Waxman is completely right in cutting off Hayward's evasions.
BP is in charge of plugging the hole and a long list of unanswered questions and management's uncertainty only prove that BP is not ready to do whatever it takes to stop the Macondo oil volcano.
There have been a number of failed BP experiments and BP appears overcautious. Why isn't the relief well being drilled now if that is plan D..E..whatever.

BP's safety record is awful, indicating a terrible corporate culture.

Hayward also was earlier caught complaining 'why me'?

Most sane people, oil toady Joe Barton excluded, must be wondering, why has this slug not been fired?

Yes, an hour and twenty minutes of opening statements is annoying. Then a 30 minute break that actually takes 48 minutes. And keep in mind that most of the people questioning Hayward have taken large sums of money from the oil industry, so no matter what they say they'll vote with their pocketbooks. I don't mean to be rude, but to imply that Hayward was willing to address the technical merits of ANY decision is just not supported by anything he has said or done in the last 59 days.

Anyone who's ever worn a suit to work knows the drill. Top management insulates themselves from the day-to-day operations. They pressure you to do things that are impossible to do if you follow procedures. When the inevitable problems occur, they fire a few people for not following procedures. Rinse, repeat.

He would sacrifice any of you in a heartbeat. I couldn't tell if his discomfort was because he's not quite 100% sociopath, or if he's just not used to people talking to him like that.

Anyone who's ever worn a suit to work knows the drill. Top management insulates themselves from the day-to-day operations. They pressure you to do things that are impossible to do if you follow procedures. When the inevitable problems occur, they fire a few people for not following procedures. Rinse, repeat.

Well said "heyoka", that is just the way it works. As long as all is fine, "No problem" :-)

Our "investigators" reminded him that this was an official investigation, then continued to ask him questions that he couldn't answer about how and why this, that and the other person made various decisions at the well site just before it blew. Then expressed outraged disbelief that he couldn't tell them specifics about what motivated this person and that person to do this and not that specific thing because (now sit tall, puff out chest and talk louder) he's the CEO. Then chastised him for being unwilling to even speculate, again after reminding him that this was an official investigation. Given the questions they decided to ask, they should have had survivors there, not the CEO. It was embarrassing.

sh: "embarrassing"? See Rep. Joe Barton's opening remarks as senior minority member.

There was lots to go around.

Absolutely, totally agreed. But you gotta pick a winner for the Academy Award.

And don't forget this was after 90(?) minutes of showboating and grandstanding before Hayward even got a chance to speak. Remember these guys are politicians and since they are already elected their main question is - how do we get re-elected?

The presence of protestors complete with banners & pots of paint/oil is also a considered decision.

BP will of course have been advised by their lawyers what to say and what not to say and having taken professional advice must follow it or open themselves up to more charges by e.g. shareholders.

Shareholders? Somewhat. How about the US Attorney's office and, you know, a pesky 441 count criminal indictment brought to court in a wheelbarrow?

I think Tony Hayward did an excellent job at the hearing. That is from his and BP's perspective. There are a bunch of politicians try to win re-election in Novemeber and they all had to be seen sticking it to the man, they did. Tony Hayward was never going to answer questions based on the letter he was sent as in his view it was only part of the evidence and not delivered in the context required to fully make sense of it. Essentially he was there not to admit liability that would result in problems for future legal actions and that BP will want to get back some of the billions they are paying out by suing Transocean, Halliburton, Cameron etc. He also pointed out that many of the decision were signed off by the MMS. So from his point of view a good day at the office!

Pointing the finger at MMS after having paid them off was lame. Take a set of plans to your local building department. Wait to have them reviewed and approved. Perform the work according to plans which could be incorrect and see who pays the tab when the inspector writes you up or places a stop work order on your job.

Maybe as the CEO Tony did an excellent job of diversion. Within the context of ethics and morality had Tony shot down eleven people in the street people would want his head to roll. I find it difficult to accept how anyone responsible for the death of another sits tight lipped.

I posted a link a couple of days ago regarding BP's DW drilling plans. The topic highlights were how do we do it cheaper and there was no emphasis on safety. I understand corporate culture/structure and also know *understanding* is the booby prize. Reading their plans (dated 2000) pointed to where they were monetarily on the MC 252. Had they been given a choice between the decisions they made and the position they are currently in it's obvious to all what their decision would have been. Corporate culture kept them from asking the question or any acknowledgment of a what if. When question on a problem that existed corporate structure discounted it.

I've had to make decisions on getting a job done within budget when someone in the office missed a key element. Working hundreds or thousands of miles from the office meant making decisions and checking in with problems. The rule was; When you have a problem call with three solutions and we will decide which course to take. When I heard "we are in this together" after the decision was made I always knew who's a** was hangin' in the wind.

P.S. MMS sidetrack. This isn't my field but I do know there are industry standard in every field and those industry standards are the foundation for specifications, guidelines and codes and vice versa. I'm guessing BP didn't return to have the plan approved after the 800' sidetrack as was posted yesterday regarding Brian Morel's coments re; the cement job.. If 130' of casing (well bore) is out of plumb by one degree then the offset is approx. 2.25'. If the sidetrack was out of plumb by 6-9 degrees then the offset was 85'-115'.

The Halliburton crew questioned the decisions of using to few centering devices (centralizers) to insure a good cement job. Junior engineer Morel supporting Mark Hafle stated he expected the casing to hang straight (plumb) and I can only say; How? Is this a case of stupitidy or is he displaying corporate culture. Is this what he hasn't yet learned or what he has learned?

Using the MMS as a scapegoat only points to the poor job they did.

Great Post. People expected the CEO to name names and give a fourth hand account of decisions made, incriminating his own employees. As CEO he has to take his medicine and it was given in doses.

They should have had Donald Vidrine and the drilling engineer calling the shots on the rig.

I thought it would have been neat if he would have gone into lengthy discussions about compressibility in a liquid system being on the order of 10-6 and small amounts of gas saturation (air or methane) in the wellbore could result in a 15 barrel expansion rather than a 5 barrel. Or the hydrostatic pressure differential given different fluid contents in the kill and choke lines and the drillpipe giving pressure imbalances. Or the effect of foam cement on the acoustic impedance and subsequent bond log. Bamboozle with BS. Real technical issues in detail. I wanted to see some Exorcist type head spinning.

I thought the irony of Congress asking him about doing things to minimize cost was classic, Howard Hughes might have said something like "it is obvious Congressman that you are utterly unfamiliar with that concept".

The one material thing I remember though is that the blowout preventer critically failed 3 times. Really this investigation is not complete until it is retrieved from the sea floor and inspected. At the end of the day, is there a legitimate argument to that???


I thought the irony of Congress asking him about doing things to minimize cost was classic, Howard Hughes might have said something like "it is obvious Congressman that you are utterly unfamiliar with that concept".

That's a great idea but comes off better with a US Taxpayer on the stand. Maybe next week.

The one material thing I remember though is that the blowout preventer critically failed 3 times. Really this investigation is not complete until it is retrieved from the sea floor and inspected. At the end of the day, is there a legitimate argument to that???

For a complete accident report, I would expect an autopsy of the BOP. That does not mean that an investigation into what led up to the need for a BOP could not be completed earlier. The only time a BOP is needed is when other things have already failed.

I think the BOP failed once and they tried three different ways to get it to do the same thing just to make sure. It's likely that the failure was due to the weakness of being dependent on positioning of the DP joint. It's possible other things failed but that will require recovery to the BOP to analyze.

They may want to recover parts of the DWH rig for analysis, too. I suspect there is little useful there in terms of determining the causes due to fire and water damage. But is may be useful in analyzing possible structural improvements for future construction.

That's naivete. He could have answered any of the questions -- his goal was not to answer questions, that was clear from the written testimony that wsa available the day before the hearing. It was irrelevent to him or BP that he came across as someone in la-la land who hasn't the first clue about what's occurring in the company he is supposed to be running. BP's goal was to not provide any information to Congress. They achieved that goal by having Tony Hayward act a fool (since he has done this so well in the past month or so on his own without much coaching from lawyers, why change the script). They will keep him on until the DWH is resolved to their satisfaction (probably by bankrupting their US assets) and then they will bring in someone new.

It would be premature to fire him now, i.e. it is wasteful to fire him before all the flack has been taken.

Exactly, he is safe until the well is plugged. When the dust settles a bit there will be a new appointment 'to turn the company around'.


See the post above. If you were on the stand in front of Judge Judy and had tried to explain to her why someone else made a decision, she'd get really mad.

snake -- I didn't have the stomach to watch any of the congressional hearing. Knew it wouldn't do my blood pressure any good. But I gather from comments here that they didn't bother to ask simple questions like: has BP interviewed the BP rig personnel and develop some details for exactly what happened? You and probably most of the other experienced folks here know that Tony was full of cr*p when he said they didn't know what happened. Certainly within a week or two they had a detailed outline of exactly who said and did what. The only holes might be when some hands refused to answer BP's questions on advice from their lawyers. I would also bet that none of the third parties were allowed by their attorneys to volunteer any info. There's is nothing to investigate about the blow out IMHO. They have all the info they'll ever have today short of unwilling testimonies. But even with those missing they almost certainly know what went wrong and who to blame IMHO.

What he actually was telling them is that he'd be ducking those questions until the incident(s) had been investigated because he didn't want to speculate and didn't know all the facts. That's when he was reminded rather haughtily that *this* was the investigation.

Of course he ducked. Of course he knows more than nothing. But I can't blame the guy for not wanting to do a tear filled mea culpa and rat out everybody to a bunch of posturing a**-clowns.

This would have worked better with skilled questioners in a private room. That'll come later.

Not that it's important, but to me the worst of it is that hardly any of them had a clue about what a CEO actually does. Or acted like they didn't know. But I suspect the former.

Actually, it is doubtful that Tony would know any partial results of the actual BP investigation into the causes of the well blow out. He would assign the management of that task to some unknown and deliberately refuse, on advice of counsel, to receive any intermediate results.

His knowledge of the well prior to the blowout was most likely limited to a line on a spreadsheet, with columns like -- estimated size, estimated date, estimated profitability, estimated budget, percent budget expended, percent completion, projected date complete, and a red flag that it was over budget and behind schedule.

Actually, wouldn't the accident investigation be conducted by BP's lawyers so that it would be priviledged communication?

Merril -- I agree Tony would have a tech team evaluate the incident. Opinions will vary but I would bet my last container of Blue Bell ice cream he had a rather thorough analysis within 2 or 3 weeks of the explosion. The BOP failure would, of course, be a different matter. The bulk of those details still lay in 5,000' of water. But IMHO the details leading up to the blow out have been documented and those depositions are sitting in the BP lawyer's safe right now. And will stay there until the trial.


The BP investigation took place at a hotel near the Houston HQ from May 7th to 21st and averaged 18 hours/day of work by a team from all over the world. That investigation did inlcude the depositions of the rig crew.

The draft report was ready on May 27th to be presented to BP executives, the final version was ready on Wednesday night, before the Congressional meeting.

Tony's answers were probably 'legal quality answers', meaning any he said which was implied otherwise in the report which will surely be made available to Congress and/or OSHA mmight be unwise yesterday.

He could have taken the 5th I suppose, but that wouldn't look good on Wall Street.

Outstanding details Terry...mucho thanks. Might have to rename you TerrytheMole.

Several degrees of Kevin Bacon, without Kevin Bacon being one of them or Kevin Costner.

the worst of it is that hardly any of them had a clue

Alas. I don't know how many here were around for (and had time to watch) the Watergate hearings back in the day, but oh, how the House and Senate's lawyering skills have declined since then. A good many of those folks actually prepped hard and knew what they were doing (or turned it over to staff counsel who did). But discovering what riveting teevy it made, their successors grabbed the camera back; all downhill since.

In our era, only Bud Whitehouse in the Senate and Artur Davis in the House are seriously-crisp witness-handlers (but Davis' poor political judgment just got him "re-elected lawyer," so no more where that came from, drat the luck). Don't know whether any of Whitehouse's committee assignments will bring him into this, but if you ever get a chance to watch him in action, it's great stuff.

I wish that country lawyer Sam Ervin could show up. He's needed, and not only for the BP investigation.


It was all very dull and disappointing. I foolishly expected -- I don't know -- something new. It seems to me that since at least 1987 the standard line with a Congressional investigation is "I don't recall", "I'm not an expert" and "I don't know." The idea that Congress can really investigate anything anymore is ludicrous. Or that that was the point of this. The point was to publicly whip the whipping boy. I thought Tony played his part very well, not missing a line.

Hayward has had two months to find out what was behind his company's screw-up. The House Oversight Committee gave him a couple of days' notice to organize what he should know about specific aspects of that screw-up.

BP has been on notice and on probation for ten years over its criminal mismanagement of its US operations. I's not the least bit unreasonable to hold the CEO accountable for the results of his leadership in moving the company away from its old habits.

These hearings are without doubt only for political posturing. They have absolutely no other value. Whilst they might call themselves an oficial investigation, it is a charade. One - Congressmen are not competent to judge the merits of what is presented. Two - We don't actually know the full story - for instance it will be months before the BOP is recovered, and probably another month or two before technical analysis is complete. Three - there are no useful outcomes from the investigation. They will not feed recommendations into law making or other investigations from here.

In all, it is a show for the politicians to play to the home crowd. TV coverage, protestors, and congressmen cutting off answers? Theatre. In a real investigation you never cut off an answer. The answer goes on the record. You move on. (You always let the subject dig themselves in as far as possible, and never leave any doubt that they didn't get their chance to fully answer.)

As much as we might dislike Tony Hayward's demenor, he also understands that he is there, not to give evidence, but to provide the public and the politicians a bit of sport. There is nothing he can say that is useful, and so he says nothing useful.

A real inquiry, with the ability to compel evidence, overseen by technically competant members, and that deliberates over enough time to actually reach a meaningful conclusion will no doubt be established. But don't kid yourselves that this congressional inquiry is it. It isn't, and Tony Hayward knows it isn't.

Francis wrote:

These hearings are without doubt only for political posturing. They have absolutely no other value.

That's exactly correct. These hearings are our version of a dictatorship's "show trials". As such, they are disgusting and shameful.

And Joe Barton may be politically tone deaf to have pointed this out, but he is correct. What Obama did to BP with the 20 billion dollar escrow was an extra-judicial, outside-the-law shakedown of BP.

BP deserves to be held accountable for all the economic damage done by this spill (except for that which can legitimately be shown to be TO's fault, if any).

But we have laws and procedures for achieving that -- and those laws do not authorize the president to pick an arbitrary amount of money and coerce BP into turning it over.

This is supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men. But evidently Obama thinks he was elected King, not President.

This isn't a shakedown, it's a plea bargain.

Guy gets arrested while committing burglary. The DA says "we could take you to court and put you in prison for 10 years, but if you confess we'll ask the judge for 3: you'll be out on parole in a year or two." Guy says "yes."

Did the DA deprive the defendant of his right to a trial? Not really, the defendant waived his right. He did it under duress, but it was *legal* duress.

Corporation gets hauled into the White House for committing the nation's largest oil spill. The president says "we could draw this thing out in legal battles for a decade, or you can put up $20 billion now, and save your company both money and PR goodwill in the long run." Corporation says "yes."

Did the president deprive the corporation of its freedom from illegal siezure? Not really, the corporation offered that money up willingly. It did it under duress, but it was *legal* duress.

goodmanj wrote:

This isn't a shakedown, it's a plea bargain.

That analogy doesn't hold.

A prosecutor is the very individual charged by the law with the task of holding the defendant accountable. He is legally and specifically authorized to negotiate on behalf of the state, as its sole representative in the case. He can promise the defendant a lesser penalty in exchange for the plea, with the guarantee that the defendant will face no further legal action by the state.

The President, by contrast, is NOT the individual specified by the law to hold BP accountable. And he is not authorized to negotiate away the legal rights of all those harmed by this spill -- so he is not in a position to make BP an offer in exchange for which BP will suffer no additional liability.

Instead, what Obama has done is extra-judiciously, i.e. without legal authority, insert himself into the situation in a threatening fashion. And so what he has gotten from BP is a 20 billion dollar concession that only buys BP the unenforceable promise that HE, Obama, will not pile on and make BP's legal problems going forward even worse than they otherwise would be.

That’s extortion, not a plea bargain.

Michael, I can just as easily describe your reasoning as a faulty analogy, but it's not necessary. Instead, I ask you a simple question:

Did the President break the law?

I await your answer, quoting the Title you would prosecute under.

Otherwise, I'll stick to my original feeling that you have motives for these attacks on Obama.

...he probably would have hung himself before very long. The dream committee for questioning this guy should include...... Judge Judy

why is that ? would you expect his head to explode from the shrill questioning ?

There is speculation that the escrow deal limits BP's liability.

According to the published reports, it does not limit their liability in any way. However, it does have benefits for BP, and it may result in reducing their liabilities even if it does not legally limit them.

Persons who get a quick fair payment through the arbitration process may decide not to sue, where they might have gotten a higher payment, eventually, after a long and expensive legal fight.

You can receive an arbitration payment and then decide to sue anyway.

I think the primary benefit of this is that it should reduce legal costs. People will try this first, if they don't like the result they'll talk to lawyers. When the lawyers tell them they will take at least 30% of whatever they get after a fight which they may or may not win many people will decide the fund settlement is ok.

Ultimately this should benefit people because more of the money goes to the injured parties.

I've been wondering if the escrow fund is actually to BPs advantage, assuming the fund overseer will be paying roughly what a court would order anyway. I think eveyrone agrees that the compensation required will exceed 20 billion dollars. If court actions are used from the start then BP doesn't really ever leave the news, and as such they can't really play legal hardball. OTOH, ASSUMING they manage to permanently and completely stop the leakage within a month or two and it takes a couple of years to empty the escrow account, there's a reasonable chance that by the time they are next back into court it won't be more than a brief mention in the news bulletins and they're now more able to be more aggressive legally.

Not sure if this would actually work, but it seems possible.

Throwing the MMS under the bus publicly during his speech practically guarantees that BP can not be found criminally negligent, if negligent at all.

20B for his supporters was the price.

Without this deal in place the BP stockholders would have grounds to personally sue directors and management for losses due to failure to exert their fiduciary duty.

the 20B is the baksheesh.

Throwing the MMS under the bus publicly during his speech practically guarantees that BP can not be found criminally negligent, if negligent at all.

20B for his supporters was the price.

Without this deal in place the BP stockholders would have grounds to personally sue directors and management for losses due to failure to exert their fiduciary duty.

the 20B is the baksheesh.

First time poster; I've been reading Oil Drum for years. Some of this I posted to the other thread right before it closed, so please excuse the repeat.

I hate to tell you, but the people calling the shots on this are lawyers and accountants. BP took off its "engineering hat" and put on its "managing hat" a long time ago; that's why the spill happened in the first place.

Anything proposed by technicians, engineers, etc. is going to be vetted by lawyers and accountants first... including the scripted "Oops!" moment of the BP spokesperson talking about "the little people" (a classic provocative statement by a flakcatcher.) They will use a twofold criteria: Does this increase liability? Does this protect the company's assets?

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.

BP will not stop the flow of oil from the well until it has a relief well up and running; it will not step up on cleanup (why spend more on what's already broke?); it will use litigation, and, if necessary, bankruptcy to avoid liability; and, twenty or thirty years from now, it will pay the locals who are still alive a symbolic payment, which will not begin to address their loss.

Welcome to TOD! Keep posting good comments; they are most welcome.

"I am a retired lawyer from La., whose family has been involved with oil cases since Standard Oil was actually called Standard Oil."

Thanks for the interesting input, retiredL. I wonder if you can help with a question. Assuming you can't (or don't want to) talk about any specific case, in general terms, what would need to be proved to successfully prosecute a corporation with *criminal* negligence in an industrial incident with multiple fatalities? How high would the burden of proof need to be? Could individuals face prosecution? At which level? What would / could the penalties be?

I'm interested because my own field is engineering safety and I see lots of accidents. We've a corporate manslaughter act here in the UK but it seems unlikely any individual executive could face charges (as I understand it). Just wondering if it's the same in the U.S.


Does it matter if someone gets lynched (criminally prosecuted) or not at this point?

Clearly there are lots of things that matter more, PQ17, but I often wonder whether the knowledge that criminal prosecutions are rare / difficult to prove, etc., actually contributes to some of these major industrial incidents. Some companies never seem to change their behaviour.

The line between civil - negligence and criminal are very blurred.

In an industrial incident like this, we can debate until the end of time who is culpable.

Do we really want to end up with a Bhopal like case in the USA?

"Does it matter if someone gets lynched (criminally prosecuted) or not at this point?"

I prefer the term "held accountable" or "answer for this crime", but yes, I think it does matter.

If someone in the top executive ranks of BP goes to jail for this and the company is put into receivership, I am quite confident drilling practices will swing back to a much higher level of concern for safety throughout the industry.

That's an incredible legal tangle. That sort of prosecution is very rare here in the US.

Since I am assuming that you are speaking of the rig workers killed in the explosion, you run afoul of two really arcane areas of law: admiralty, and limitations of damages under Federal energy legislation. If I were still practicing, I would refer you out at that point, because my insurance wouldn't cover me taking your case. You'd have to go to a specialist's specialist.

I could go into a great deal of blather about it, but, as I taught my law students, "when in doubt on an exam, think of what your grannie would do." Grannie would not prosecute her drug connection, would she? It's extremely unlikely that the US or any of the states will do so to BP. We need them too much. And any prosecutor from an oil state who tried to prosecute BP could kiss their job goodbye, and then move to the dark side of the moon, to keep their house from being torched, their dog poisoned, and their children beaten. Not by BP, of course, but by all of their fellow oil-state citizens who see their livelihoods, pensions, and investments being threatened.


Sorry, but there's yet another issue you would have to face. Where would you find a jury or judge competent to rule on this matter? Any "blue-ribbon" jury you could call would have to be made up of oil professionals. All judges are primarily political animals, even federal judges (I know, because I have one of those in the family too). If they went after BP, pierced its corporate veil, and held individuals on the board or staff liable, they would be like the judge in "Miracle on 38th Street", trying to send Santa Claus to an insane asylum.

retiredL, thanks very much for the analysis. It was very interesting... and very depressing. Perhaps its a self-fulfilling system; it seems from what you say that there are major incidents (we've just today had the verdict on the largest explosion in peacetime here in the UK; my understanding is that the companies will face fines) - there are major incidents because the law has neither the teeth nor the expertise to prosecute the responsible individuals and send them to prison for a while. Yet people go to prison for not paying their taxes or television licences.

This is probably the most relevant example of prison time related to hydrocarbon release resulting in deaths:

Olympic Pipeline, Bellingham Washington, June 10, 1999.

IIRC, a faulty gauge or valve led to a pipeline shutdown causing a pressure wave back upstream. There was a weak spot where a pig had located damage that had not been repaired. This weakness ruptured, filling a ravine with gasoline vapors until an ignition source was found. Two children and one adult in the area were killed in the explosion.

The pipeline damage was caused by digging for another pipeline. The equipment operator knew the gasoline pipeline was in the area and knew he hit something but did not report it. This company was not found at fault.

The operating company manager and SCADA supervisor were sentenced to 6-months in prison for failure to "establish and conduct a continuing training program".

Sorry, but I think most of what you've said is hogwash. If BP could pretend that the spilled oil didn't belong to them they'd be delighted - the clean up costs that they face make the oil's commercial value pale into insignificance.

The relief well(s) will never be "up and running" - their only objective is to kill the blowout. That is not to say that BP won't one day produce from this lease, but that's a LONG way down the road in my opinion! More likely they'll sell it as a bad "Jonah" memory never to come back to.

As for the future litigation, bankruptcy and so on - that's a given. Unfortunately it will probably be the lawyer leeches that profit most.

Your assumption is that BP will do what makes sense. Have they done that thus far?

Corporations, like people, act by habit. BP's repeated failures and accidents show a corporate culture dominated by lawyers and accountants, not by technicals. In their cost/benefit analysis, they would rather defend a possible huge lawsuit than take small precautions in the present which might add to the bottom line.

Oil recapture is a huge legal issue in the US. It's a deeply entrenched habit of oil companies, preventing others from harvesting their spillage. If BP were to pretend the oil on the beaches wasn't theirs, then others could pretend that the oil coming from the damaged wellhead wasn't theirs, and it would be open season on collecting.

Regarding "hogwash", I can't name my old law firm, but I worked with people who wrote the textbooks on oil law and bankruptcy. I'm just telling you what I've learned in my experiences as a lawyer. Are you a lawyer?

Their objective may be to kill the blowout, but they have to kill it in a way which does not imply that they are abandoning the well. That legal parameter will determine everything they do.

And, if future litigation is a given, everything-- EVERYTHING-- BP does will be with limiting liability in mind.

It sounds crazy, but it's true. Think of the Challenger disaster-- the failure of the O rings. What did the supervisor say to the engineer opposing the launch? "It's time to take off our engineer hats, and put on our manager hats." That's BP's managing mentality as well.

I do not question that BP will want to limit their liability - they have a corporate duty to their shareholders to do so. Therefore every action will definitely be run before the corporate lawyers. However, if other parties were willing to collect the spilt oil purely for it's commercial value thereby reducing the clean up costs and spill penalties to BP then I'm sure they'd be delighted! The damages and costs resulting from each spilt barrel outweigh by far its 70ish buck value!

There is no obvious way for BP to kill the well "in a way that implies that they are abandoning the well". If they upped sticks and left the blowout gushing THAT would be abandoning the well, albeit without killing it.

rL: Doesn't BP also want to sit on the evidence? "Abandoning" the well might open up some unfortunate (for BP) opportunities for others to collect evidence.

It seems to me that the evidence BP will want to sit on is is records/communications at corporate headquarters. BP will want to plead an intermediate cause which should (at least partially) relieve them of liability-- the most important of which would be that their employees acted without management's knowledge or consent.

A legal note-- most of the time, you catch corporations, not by what they've done, but because of the way they tried to hide what they did. Obstruction of justice, perjury, creative bookkeeping, conspiracy, RICO.

BTW, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that BP's exploration division is firewalled off in some way from the rest of the company. It's normal in risky ventures to create a subsidiary to act as a fall guy, if something goes wrong. I don't know whether they did that here.

rL: I agree. I was thinking some of the damage to the hardware might contradict some of BP's "records." According to several here, BP's released logs seem to have missing data. (Don't give up any evidence willingly unless you're damn sure it will help you.) If I remember correctly, several of the engineers and geologists at TOD have also said that we won't know X until the Y is recovered or examined and that's under BP's control now.

E L claimed:

If I remember correctly, several of the engineers and geologists at TOD have also said that we won't know X until the Y is recovered or examined and that's under BP's control now.

No, it is not "under BP's control".

In a briefing way back in May, Hayward noted to reporters that the BOP and all underwater equipment had been subpoenaed by U.S. authorities, would ultimately be removed and brought to the surface under the supervision of those authorities and turned over to them for their examination.

MWS: Please cite your source for Haywards's statement.

E L wrote:

MWS: Please cite your source for Haywards's statement.

Hayward's statement was in a briefing at BP's website early in May. I don't see it now.

But you can look at this timeline and note the issuance of the subpoena on April 30th:

Or if you Google "Marine Board BOP subpoena" (without the quotation marks) you will see numerous references to it including an interview in Forbes where Hayward mentions it.

MWS: Subpoena for BOP only. Lots of other hard evidence involved with BP's blow out is not under any subpoena and is, therefore, still under BP's control. All documents are under a "do not alter or destroy" order.


Thanks for your contribution to the human race. It is so refreshing to get free advice from an attorney and expert witness like you. Your litigating skills on this topic are clearly priceless.

f-b: Your welcome. I will look forward to more comments from you that elevate the quality of the discussions at TOD.

rL: Excellent post. However, "twenty or thirty years from now"? You're an optimist, cf. Exxon Valdez litigation. "I have not begun to fight." — J. P. Jones

I have that leaden cloud in the disposition feeling that there is considerably more truth in RetiredL's comment than exaggeration, if there is indeed any exaggeration beyond what is necessary to make his points in a conversational way.

And while I am most emphatically not supporting the just say no to Obama crowd, the facts do seem to be indicating that red tape and buercratic inertia are contributing significantly to slowing down the work necessary to keep the oil offshore where it has already done it's dirty work.Keeping it out of the marshes should now be the top priority , after stopping the leak of course.

The anti Obama crowd is probably right in this one respect at least.

I doubt if the bueracracy has slowed down the actual work going on at the well itself very much at all, but someday we may find out otherwise,or that the well closure/capture options so far tried were selected more with political and monetary expediency in mind as the controlling factors than the actual actual chances of a faster success.There can be no doubt however that while the options tried so far should have been developed and tested ahead of need, they could have worked.

If there really is a giant field at the location of the well, the last dime of actual above direct costs of getting it out should be devoted to paying for clean up , remediation, and damages for loss of livelihood to the local people.

It is way past time that the law deal with corporations the way it does with real living people.

If Bill Gates or Warren Buffet could be held personally responsible for this mess, either one of them would have been arrested by now, or at least notified of a fast approaching date with a grand jury.

John Micheal Greer wrote a piece recently about this very subject of coroprate accountability.I urge all who missed it to read it;it is critically important.

"After all, there's billions of dollars of it floating around, available to the first person on the site with good cleanup equipment." ??
Say roughly 35,000 barrels/day x $80 = $2.8m; x 60 days = $168m not billions by any means.

"BP will not stop the flow of oil from the well until it has a relief well up and running"

Whilst not stopping the well until the Relief Well(s) have plugged the well (not producing from it!) BP are trying to prevent as much oil as possible from going into the Gulf. As of yesterday about 25,000 barrels per day were being captured or flared off and this hopfully will be increased over the next few days as the latest system is "fine tuned".

"it will use litigation, and, if necessary, bankruptcy to avoid liability" so far they have spent over $1.6bn. Of course at the end of the day if the costs exceed their ability to pay they will declare bankruptcy, just as any other comapny would.

"I am a retired lawyer from La." I guess your life therefore has been spent trying to win cases for your clients regardless of the real rights and wrongs of the case or what the best/fairest outcome would be.

Your last comment is the ad hominem fallacy. These are not welcomed on TOD.

Yes, you are right - apologies.

DS wrote:

Your last comment is the ad hominem fallacy. These are not welcomed on TOD.

So ad homs are off limits, but repeated smears and lies about BP are okay?

Have I ever smeared or lied about BP? Have many posters done so? I think you may be confusing conjectures with assertions.

I understand your anger, and I'm sorry for the realities which have occasioned it. But, in truth, we have passed through the looking glass here. These are not everyday people deciding what's right and what's wrong. These are lawyers and accountants who owe their corporate positions to their willingness to be ruthless in defending their property and finding maximum profits/minimum loss.

Law is not concerned with "real rights or wrongs" or "best/fairest outcome." I'm very sorry, but it's not. It's concerned with order and process-- creating predictable norms of behavior, and then assuring citizens that creating order is done the same for every person coming in contact with the legal system. And, very unfortunately, it's weighted in favor of those who have the most money.

I'm not well-versed enough in the technical side to determine how much oil has escaped. But don't get buzzed by all of the astronomical figures; accountants aren't. Even accepting your figures, who on this site would not consider killing someone for $168 million? And with lawyers, it's the principle of ownership that matters, not the dollar figure. People regularly get sued for amounts less than court costs.

Again, I have no way of ascertaining whether the amount of oil captured is correct. BP doesn't have a very good track record on giving good estimates, does it? I would be willing to bet that, in the end, the amount captured turns out to be very low, when compared to the amount of escape. It's not the actual capture figure that matters, it's the fact that BP is still behaving as if it's trying to do something, and not just waiting for the relief well to be drilled.

Regarding what BP has spent, I'm assuming that that figure came from BP. I'm sure that a) there's no documentation for it and b) it represents some interesting bookkeeping maneuvers. Does it include opportunity costs? Forward billing practices? Estimates of future liability? And who is paying it? BP subsidiaries? Government workers? Is BP paying itself for the relief costs, and does that make up part of the figure?

Here indeed is the truth - maybe not pretty, but that's the way it is across the board in our system.

For the most part I agree with your assessment of the legal aspects but BP has no commercial interest in the spilled oil except for their liability associated with it. There is very little value to the oil that has spilled.

10 days ago I did a quick engineering study about the rate of the leak and the growth due to erosion - very rough figures but much more scientifically supportable than the hyperbole being spread by the media.

Since then I saw the high res shots of the riser after it was cut and it is clear there is a large stream from the drill pipe which might not have been leaking at all before. So I think the increase in leakage when they cut the riser might have been closer to 50%, not the 20% BP suggested. My new estimate after June 5th is in the range of 30,000 to 45,000 bpd.

By the way, in line with your legal theories, BP never made any flow estimates. All official estimates came from government entities plus a whole lot from instant experts on MSM.

If you take a reasonable flow rate over the life of the leak as it increased from about 2,000 bpd to 35,000 bpd the total leaking from the BOP is probably more than 700,000 bbl and less than 1,600,000 bbl (30 to 70 million gallons).

So for this exercise lets assume 1,200,000 bbl has leaked out the BOP, remembering these numbers may be higher or lower by 40%+.

600,000 bbl (50%) has evaporated or dispersed, could be more but 50% seems reasonable.

125,000 bbl has been burned at sea - this is the USCG's estimate and could be way off.

100,000 bbl has been recovered by skimmers based on 20% of the USCG reported 21.9 million gallons of oily water.

200,000 bbl has been captured - this is a pretty exact number and can be found on a spreadsheet at

5,000 bbl has been burned on the Q4000.

That leaves about 170,000 bbl unaccounted for - floating around in spills, on the shore, in the marshes, etc.

And before I am attacked about the size of the spills - try to watch some of the aerial shots when they pan away from the large collection of emulsion. It is difficult as the media wants to show the worst of it but there are large areas of open water filled with streaks of oil and emulsion. I would wager that if you did an detailed aerial survey about 70% to 90% of the area reported as slicks actually consists of open water. It is one of the reasons it is so hard to clean up, most skimmers are designed to clean up coherent slicks, the thicker the better.

Back to the value to BP. The amount that is burned and evaporated has become air pollution, distributed over a large volume of atmosphere so its effect is greatly reduced.

The 100,000 bbl recovered by skimmers probably is weathered enough that very little of it can be recovered except by spending more money, in other words it has a negative value. Even very fresh oil that is skimmed has been exposed to salt water so its commercial value is greatly discounted, maybe about $10 to $20 per barrel at best. The oil still floating is likewise worth little to nothing.

The 200,000 bbl that has been recovered is probably worth about $15,000,000. A portion (12.5%? or 16%?) goes to the government as royalty and BP has said that they are going to donate the rest to a wildlife fund for the Gulf Coast. BP is capturing about 15,000 bpd worth about $1,000,000 a day but their costs of the recovery are probably close to $2,000,000 per day for the Discoverer Enterprise, the Q4000 and all the ROVs and support vessels.

Maybe you could find the legal document that sets up the wildlife fund and determine if it is actually above and beyond or if it just offsets cost that BP is liable for anyway.

Shelburn, Pretty sure several of us ROV watchers will support on your DP post riser cut observations. I read your recovered value markup as well.

But would you care to comment ,from the post cut video, on the very different nature of the oil coming up from the casing vs. that coming out of the DP which seemingly was reddish brown in the same light and appeared to be fairly devoid of hydrates? What would be entrained in that flow from 3000' down? that is not in the other reservoir production.

Edit; Apologies if addressed elsewhere and for this question being here but it remains a curiosity. I suppose the answer is just blindingly obvious, like the pipe is rusty.

I hope this is appropriate. I'm going to repost something I posted a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the last comments to a thread before it was closed. I'd be very interested in whether someone can tell me whether my assumption is correct. Does this not mean that royalties are owed on the entire volume of the discharged oil?


IANAL, but royalties are listed as a covered damage in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990...

§ 1002(b)(2)(D). REVENUES- Damages equal to the net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees, or net profit shares due to the injury, destruction, or loss of real property, personal property, or natural resources, which shall be recoverable by the Government of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof.

RL: Please, please keep advising the people who want to stop the leak.

I know your statement, sadly, is true.

"Law is not concerned with "real rights or wrongs" or "best/fairest outcome." I'm very sorry, but it's not. It's concerned with order and process-- creating predictable norms of behavior, and then assuring citizens that creating order is done the same for every person coming in contact with the legal system. And, very unfortunately, it's weighted in favor of those who have the most money."

This has been my experience while watching the legal system. But what then, is the point of such a system beyond making lawyers rich? And should taxpayers really be supporting a system that is supposed to treat people equally under the law, but weights its decisions "in favor of those who have the most money?"

It is this system that places us in such an ugly dilemma, and it will kill our society. There is more concern for covering evidence of liability than for the liability and damage itself. Thank you for your wisdom. Humanity needs a better system.

tw: "regardless of the real rights and wrongs" Whose set of real rights of wrongs? Rep. Joe Barton pronounced his set "of real rights and wrongs" quite clearly yesterday.

Some intersting issues raised here, at least in terms of the wider oil business. But I wonder how applicable they are to this leak.

The well itself we know is unrecoverable. It will be killed, sealed, and abandoned. There is no technical mechanism by which the well can be rehabilitated and turned back for production, and it seems there are regulations that force this. BP has no financial incentive to try to maintian any illusion of ownership of the well. They will retain their lease, and may well wish (after a decent interval) to drill a new well. But the current well is valueless.

Oil recovery. It has been pointed out that oil that makes it to the surface has no economic value. By the time it is recovered it has lost a significant portion of its volatiles, and it may be partly emulsified with seawater. Disposal may involve adding it to feedstock for a refinery, but a refinery will pay so little for the recovered oil that there is no money to be made. Indeed they could almost charge to dispose of the oil. The only oil that has economic value is that being recovered from the well head by the top hat. Clearly BP owns that. The economic value is at best marginal. So much so that they are in the process of setting up to burn up to 15,000bbl/day of that oil.

There is a clear and difficult financial equation for BP's recovery. We can assume that the EPA will go after BP for a $1000 per bbl fine. Talk of a $4000/bbl fine depends upon criminal negligence, and despite much vocal support for the thought, I doubt that one will fly. So BP probably face a fine of about $25,000,000 per day for additional oil leaked. The value of the well was of the order of $100,000,000 - or fours days spillage. (However, as above, now zero.) It makes no sense whatsoever not to do everything possible to staunch the leak. The less than stellar progress is more likely a mix of two issues. Poor technical preparation - with no really useful equipment ready to hand to apply to the leak, and a realisation that if they got it wrong, they could blow the well out to an uncontrolled gusher of circa 50,000bbl/day - which over the period until the relief well is expected to arrive, would entail significanly more totsl oil leaking - with both a worse environmental toll, a worse fine, and vastly higher cleanup and compensation costs for BP. It is a balancing act with no good outcome - just a least bad one.

I suspect the comments about spin doctoring and coaching of responses are spot on, but I also suspect that the issues of well abandonment and oil ownership are from a different (and probably on-land) era.

Well said and informative. I appreciate that the spilled oil has no economic value-- for a modern corporation with precise methods of computing such a value. However, in all of the oil recovery cases I have read, the oil had no economic value. People were taking it for their own use, whatever that might be. Think of the in third world countries who collect spillage for fuel. It's the ownership of the thing that matters, more than the value.

As for issues of well abandonment and oil ownership, the basic principles were created during the on-land era, to be sure. But, once created, basic law principles are very difficult to change. Law, both common and statutory, is based on precedent; and, unless compelling evidence can be offered to the contrary, precedent rules.

Therefore, I promise, my last words on this matter. BP's only concerns are protecting its property and limiting liability. Those concerns will be defined by laws and actuarial tables, not by common sense; so, they will pay attention to technical solutions only as far as those solutions accomplish those goals. Our society is far too dependent on Big Oil to risk damaging or driving an oil corporation out of existence. As with the Exxon Valdez, any punishment for BP's behavior will gradually be reduced over to time to a point where BP still feels welcome in American waters.

Thanks to everyone on this site. I have always found it decent, well-informed, and intelligent reading. Please continue the good work.

Just want to add my thanks to retiredL for some interesting remarks.

Don't be a stranger, come back again soon.

I was once driving to a meeting with an engineering manager and another engineer who was then studying patent law. Somehow they fell into a discussion of whether a lawyer should defend a person charged with murder who the lawyer knew was guilty. I was glad to reach our destination and get out of the car.

As far as the quantities recovered oil and gas goes I think it is pretty unlikely BP is fibbing about this. It is easy to measure the quantities here with industry standard techniques, and from what I understand the FRTG has gotten BP to use equipment that has been calibrated by third parties. The CG is probably also involved in tracking this, and of course there will be a paper trail for everything offloaded for further processing.

Stay with us. Do good work. Otherwise I will be convinced that even retired lawyers are too afraid of other lawyers to save the world from human destruction.

Coming back on using Corexit 9500. I know that BP is sitting in the supervisory board of Nalco. EPA and BP say that there is no alternative. However this is absolutely not true. The company Oil Treatment International - has proven products SOT 11 and LOT 11 which do not harm the environment.

So what we learn again is that the government institution EPA works in hand with BP. I am angry when I see that money and corruption is still ruling this accident.

These products are not dispersants and are not usable in any way as replacements for Corexit 7500.

Swap out BOP ?

I'm not an engineer and have limited knowledge of BOP technology, but with the riser severed and the well spewing perhaps as much as 65,000 barrels per day, or an EXXON VALDEZ sized spill every 4 days, does anyone know whether it's possible to remove the oil collection devices in place now for a short period of time and try to remove the old BOP and install a new one to kill the well ? I'm sure this must have been considered but with the relief wells solution still two months away, does anyone know if this is still a possibility ?

What you propose is perfectly possible and was under consideration earlier in the attempts to control the blowout.

The concern now is that the pressure containment integrity of the well is judged to be compromised and completely shutting it in at the wellhead may well lead to a worse situation and higher flowrates if the blowout then comes up through the mudline around the well structure.

Subsea operational update:

• For the last 12 hours on June 17th (noon to midnight), approximately 8,020 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,770 barrels of oil and 24.5 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• Optimization of the dual recovery system continues; on June 17th, total oil recovered was aprox. 25,290 barrels.
•approximately 16,020 barrels of oil were collected,
•approximately 9,270 barrels of oil were flared,
•and approximately 50.3 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• Total oil recovered from both the LMRP Cap and Q4000 systems since they were implemented is approximately 204,200 barrels.

• The free standing riser installation is progressing for the long term containment option.

• The next update will be provided at 6:00pm CDT on June 18, 2010.

Updated June 18 at 9:00am CDT / 3:00pm BST

They collected/burned altogether about 25,000 barrels yesterday. If the well output is about 60,000 [high end estimate], they captured about 40% of it.

Does the view from the ROV look like they are taking 40% away?

Or they could be getting 70%

Allen, the Obama administration's point man on dealing with the spill, said the "most probable" flow rate of oil leaking from the ruptured well into the sea is 35,000 barrels per day, but said the rate could be as high as 60,000 barrels per day.

Hayward came up with a new idea when he was testifying before Congress. It appears that Hayward, Svanberg, and VP of Drilling and Exploration Inglis have found an old U-boat and plan to attack the leak personally. Here is a crew photo.

Spit coffee's on my screen now. Damn.

My question is bigger, about process:

What role does the CEO have in risk management?

I will say that I work for a former Halliburton subsidiary, and there's NOTHING we do that doesn't go up the chain of command and get signed off on at the highest level.

I can't BELIEVE that BP didn't have a similar risk management system in place, and that ultimately, Mr Hayward didn't sign off, too, or one at least of his very close delegates.

RISK management is EVERYthing to companies like this. Anyone who's been there will know how front and central this is.

A CEO will head up the process that sets the Risk Management rules for the company. Procedures will be developed and written up, perhaps a proprietary software system, a Permit System, a Safe System of Work, will be bought in. You often find a unique safety culture has been developed in a major corporation, Zero Tolerance, No Excuses, Golden Rules, that sort of thing. The CEO often signs it off.

But on a day-to-day basis, the signing off of the actual permit-to-work will go to a fairly low level manager. Very few processes or procedures will get anywhere near the attention of the CEO in a large corporation (imo).

I disagree. In the (former hallburton subsidiary) company I work for, I often had to get (even small) contracts signed off on by the person reporting to the equivalent of the person directly reporting to Tony Hayward. No "fairly low level manager." I don't know where you work, but I know what it's like where I work and my email address is still begins with "HALHOUSTON".

Sorry, not my email address, but my intranet login begins with HALHOUSTON.

No big deal but I know how the sign-offs work.

ozamerican, sorry, I should have said my comments are based on my experience here in the UK. It may be different where you work. I work in literally hundreds of different places (I carry out safety inspections and audit maintenance work).

The CEO's review from the annual report:

Achieving safe, reliable and compliant operations is our number one priority and the foundation stone for good business. This year we achieved a reported recordable injury frequency of 0.34, an improvement of 20% over 2008. In Refining and Marketing reported major incidents have been reduced by 90% since 2005. All our operated refineries and petrochemicals plants now operate on the BP operating management system (OMS), which governs how BP’s operations, sites, projects and facilities are managed. In Exploration and Production 47 of our 54 sites completed the transition to OMS by the end of 2009, and I expect all BP operations to be on OMS by the end of 2010.This represents good progress and we must remain absolutely vigilant.

Process safety – oil spills
We report all spills of hydrocarbons greater than or equal to one barrel (159 litres, 42 US gallons). The reduction in the number of oil spills in 2009 follows several years of focus across BP on procedures such as ‘integrity management’ and ‘control of work’, which are core elements of BP’s operating management system.

Well, obviously, Tony's big thing (in getting hired as CEO) was to reduce the number of safety violations.

I'm sure he tried to do a good job. He probably had other imperatives (board. shareholders) drilling holes in his brain at the same time...

All of the policies and procedures I've seen have similar phrasing alluding to " ... you will develop necessary protocols to carry out these policies." at each step up the chain. Concurrent with that is the standard management maxim that "You can delegate Authority; you cannot delegate Responsibility. Which is why the US Navy relieves Captains from their Commands for any hazard infraction, even if he had been asleep at the time.

In most cases in corporations of this size the CEO's knowledge of day to day is very low, as an example while a detailed schedule of a major project is 30K activities, the reporting schedule to the leads on that project may be 100 activities per discipline (700 or so total), the reporting schedule to the project manager is closer to 300 activities, the report to the manager of that division is around 30 activities, and the schedule shown to the CEO of Bechtel/Daniel/Cameron/Mobil/Shell/etc. is at most one activity if even that much .. it might be one activity per division. When you are running a company that has thousands of projects going, in a hundred or so divisions, not including the data on operating plants and what other business they are involved in, the CEO's give general direction as far as corporate goals, not day to day direction even at a division level, def. not project level. Same goes for financial data, at best to a CEO, is given by division.

(I did project controls (cost/schedule) for 20 years, my smallest project was in the $20M category, largest was way over $500M and I have reported to multiple levels of management so these are what I was asked to roll data up to, sister was CFO for a midsized commercial construction company)

deddancer wrote:

the CEO's give general direction as far as corporate goals, not day to day direction even at a division level, def. not project level.

Exactly. BP has 80,000 employees -- the notion that Hayward should know the details of what each is doing is preposterous.

[new] perks on June 18, 2010 - 1:30am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
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.

While I respect your imagination I have an uneasy feeling you are trying to downplay the effectiveness of skimmers in this tragedy. Surely the people who are watching oil inundate the marshes and wetlands of LA won't agree with your imagination. I certainly don't.

Again I ask (and repeat):

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.

Possibly this will answer some of your questions about numbers:

Allen addressed some of the issues relating to skimmers in his morning's press briefing.

I found it distressing that he sounded as if they just started getting serious about skimming after the revised flow estimates were revised up to 35-50,000 bpd.
(bold added)

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Sure. We're coordinated with DOD right now to take a look at the availability of skimmers within the Navy inventory. That is (inaudible) right now between us and the Department of Defense and that will be worked out today.

We're also looking at the entire availability around the country. We're actually starting to manufacture skimmers in places like Port Fourchon and other places. What I told the folks is don't anticipate demand can ever be met on skimmers. Getting as many as we can make and as fast as we can get them here is what we need to do.

We're hoping to have a larger strategic assessment of the exact—actual gap that we've got and how many we will need ultimately. Part of the problem is we never had to deal with oil dispersed across this wide an area, but we have the availability of the 2,000 vessels of opportunity.

Some cases you need skimmers that are actually integrated into ship (inaudible). Other cases you need what we have—what we call vessel of opportunity (inaudible) where you take skimming equipment and just give it to a local boat and they could tow it behind it.

It's a good thing we didn't have that attitude about building enough Liberty ships and B-24s.

At the risk of showing how dumb I really am, IF Matt Simmons was right, wouldn't there be some record of a seismic tremor? I may have plugged in the info wrong but I checked the USGS site and this should have shown something. It doesn't show anything.
Here's the link to the search engine:

Here's the output I got with a pretty wide circle of the area (if I have the lat and long right) for the period from March 2010 to June 16th. When I searched other areas I got at least a few minor quakes:

NEIC: Earthquake Search Results

U. S. G E O L O G I C A L S U R V E Y


FILE CREATED: Fri Jun 18 14:15:31 2010
Circle Search Earthquakes= 0
Circle Center Point Latitude: 29.000N Longitude: 88.000W
Radius: 500.000 km
Catalog Used: PDE
Data Selection: Preliminary Data Only

NFO km

Do you have a link to Simmons's statement about earthquakes? This is the first time I've heard of him talking about quakes.

Anyway, I concur with your results. I've done a similar search, based on discussion on a related topic here at The Oil Drum. But since the issue we were discussing at the time concerned an earthquake in 2008, I went back several years in time.

No earthquake of note has occurred anywhere in the Gulf region in the past two years. Or, I'd speculate, in the last 100,000.

Surprising given what we think we know about the geology here, but I remember when this happened:

GoM 5.8 earthquake 9/10/06

Also a 5.2 in February 2006 in Green Canyon OCS area.

Generate a picture of GOM earthquakes since 1973 (USGS):

What is the geologic structure between the mouth of the Mississippi and the western tip of Cuba? I know that the delta area has lots of faults because the sediment sloughs off and collapses from time to time, but that is a rather striking linear feature.

No one knows, but it might be an old (Mesozoic) fracture zone related to the original opening of the GOM that still has some occasional movement. Some are calling it the "Cuba Fracture Zone." OTOH, no one can actually find it on seismic reflection data AFAIK. There are many faults related to failure of the slope since the Miocene, but this is deformation in unconsolidated sediments above the Jurassic salt layer, not connected to the crystalline basement; that's why it's surprising to have these relatively large mid-plate earthquakes.


The quotes from the British press are priceless:

"...he looked like a tired undertaker who was rather bored with having to look mournful"

"The man has the communication skills of a tax inspector; dry and arrogant. Its incredible that one of the most important corporate jobs in the world has been entrusted to him."

Hawyard's tone was likened to "that of a weary registrar in a South London crematorium"

"He has performed as he was presumably coached to do," says Grapper, "looking remorseful and grim and refusing to be drawn into specifics about the causes of the accident."

Collected by CNN this morning.

My favorite moment was when he said that BP had many wells in the GOM with the same design, and the committee member quipped back, "That's what I'm afraid of."

Hopefully the government can eventually disallow BP from working in the US, BP bankrupts their US assets to help pay for the spill, MMS is rebuilt better, and the work goes to other oil firms that are more than happy to provide information about their safety record.

Fine. All American oil companies will also go back home in return. Americans also STOP WASTING 2.2 times more oil than ANY OTHER NATION per person. Clear?

What about Russia drinking all my vodka or Korea eating all my Kim Chee? Yes, America is addicted to oil, but ranting about it is useless. You will use your oil just like me. There is only two ways to solve this. Increase price or decrease supply. Typically, both happen simultaneously. This spill gets America ready for $5 gas. I do not think it was on purpose, but see what happens.

Tim, I think that Saudi Arabia and Canada both use more oil per capita than the US. Where did you get your figures from ?

That's not what Hayward said. He said BP drill 100s of wells around the world. He made no mention of well design.
But the real question is why you enjoy seeing some arrogant congressman taking cheap shots simple for publicity purposes.

Here's a site FAQ that has been assembled by the diligent #theoildrum IRC team thus far. (If you are curious about live chat, etc., see point 5 in my introductory comment above.):

The twitter account for The Oil Drum is
The twitter account for alerts/notifications on ROV and spill related events is

If you would like to help with any of these endeavors, contact me at the eds box in the right sidebar or talk to the ops in the live chat.

Estimated Size of Reservoir (according to BP) = 50 billion bbl??

Well, besides giving an apology to BP yesterday, Rep. Joe Barton made some other news as well. He got CEO Hayward to provide BP's estimate of overall size of the Macondo find (based on seismic information). 50 billion bbl (and not the 500 billion presumed by Barton). Given what we know (11,000-12,000 psi, 60,000 bbl flow), does this make any sense?

Huh? Where does 50B come from?

Hayward estimates size of oil field at 2B gallons

Jun 17 06:29 PM US/Eastern

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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.


let's call the whole thing off

Hey joules...just had a thought. Want to start using the metric system to discuse the blow out? It could be a lot of fun especially if the MSM picks it up. Let's see...yesteday's capture was 100 million decaliters? Or was it 100 myriagrammes?

My idea, since we're at sea, is to use cubic fathoms. And for well depths, we should be using leagues (of course).


butt loads

Don't often laugh out loud when reading threads but I did on this one. Well played!

It does help relieve some of the grief, eh bb? How about we develop a TOD volumetric? That way only our very select membership will appreciate our post. I'll offer our new unit: a one SL (sh*t load). I'll let joules offer the bbl equivalent.

$20 billion

How many buttloads in one sh*tload? I'm thinking ahellofalot (ahellofalot x buttload = sh*tload)

But I can't figure out how many sh*tloads in one MattSimons (volumetrically speaking, of course; having been established that one MattSimons = 40% of the GOM ;-)

A butt load, converted into an understandable equivalent, is the amount of wood a woodchuck would chuck, if a woodchuck would chuck wood.

100 butt loads = 1 fuckton

I prefer the traditional 2000 buttloads = 1 asston or 1 asstonne, depending on where one's seated.

bbfellow asked:

How many buttloads in one sh*tload?

Are we talking metric buttloads or English units?

In honor of BP, for spreading so many buttloads around, let's keep this in Imperial units.

There's two butts of wine, three of beer, to a hogshead; see chart. ;^)

Now the firkin would make a good, universal measure. The concrete set time was 2 firkin short. The sea water was 2 firkin light. The pressure was 2 firkin high. Etc


PhilMB: It's just the MSM doing its measuring... again.

METRIC butt loads

Hayward has said discovery estimated size was 50 million barrels, not billion, but whats the difference between a "b" and an "m" to the media...

While we do have quite a bit of the reservoir data now, without the seismic data to get an aerial extent, its impossible to validate any assertion on the overall discovery size other than to rule out the completely crazy estimates (I'd bet a beer it was >5 million barrel discovery given flow to date and fact flow hasn't apparently slowed, and would also bet the discovery is far less than 2 billion barrels given range of discoveries in the gulf of mexico to date & recognizing that the largest visible structures to these depths have already been drilled).

I can with complete confidence state that the size of the discovery is NOT 50 million barrels. But it is quite likely to have been in the range of 25-100 million barrels, presuming based on seismic and single well log data that BP's exploration team told Hayward the size was about 50 (that he's then quoted to the press).

I asked this on the thread that got cut off (Whiskey Tango, thanks for pulling it forward, upthread):

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. (Answered) Is 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?

Petey -- It would appear this is an oil reservoir with certain amount of NG dissolved in it. As the oil is produced the pressure is reduced and the NG comes out of solution. I think I recall a figure 3,000 cu ft of NG in each bbl of oil. We don't use mass values in the oil patch: it's barrels and mcf (1,000 cuft) is the norm. Oil is selling around $75/bbl and NG around $5/mcf. The common number tossed around for the oil reserve is 50 million bbls. That would contain about 150 million mcf of NG. The oil being captured/burned right now is also yielding about 25,000 mcf NG per day. You can flare off the NG easily once it's separated from the oil.

Any abandoned well could leak oil/NG to the surface if it's not plugged properly. The MMS has guidelines on how wells with hydrocarbons in them must be plugged. I don't know for a fact that there is a well, plugged or otherwise, in the area you describe. Also bear in mind there are hundreds of minor natural oil seeps on the bottom of the GOM.

Geology: the reservoir is a sandstone rock about 60' thick. The oil/NG occurs in the pore spaces of the rock between the sand grains. We've seen no info on the physical shape of the reservoir. But it wouldn't be in a "bubble" form. It would be trapped in a "closure". think of a pile of sponges with a piece of plastic over the top. Pump oil and water under the plastic. Just like your salad dressing the oil floats to the top of the sponges with the water at the bottom. You know have an oil trap. Poke a straw (a well) into the top of the plastic and you can produce the oil.

Not negative pressure per se but a pressure variation. The area of the reservoir producing oil/NG has a pressure "draw down": lower pressure here than elsewhere in the reservoir. That's why the oil in a reservoir moves towards the well: high-pressure fluids move towards low pressure areas. What we don't know is the reservoir drive mechanism. In a water drive it's like the salad dressing example above: suck the oil out the top and the water pushes the rest of the oil up (water drive). In this case the pressure stays fairly constant. But a pure pressure depletion drive is like a hot bottle of soda pop. Uncork it and the liquid flows out fast. But as it does the pressure drops and eventually the liquid stops flowing when the pressure is all gone. And then there's mixed reservoir drives. I suspect the blow out is mostly water drive with a little help from pressure depletion as the NG comes out of solution.

Thank you, ROCKMAN.

Tell me about T&T Marine of Galveston. The Christian Science Monitor's story about the Dutch skimming arms said that BP had hired T&T to "coordinate" the cleanup response. It is T&T that procured the boats for the skimming arms and fitted them out. It seems this company has been playing a crucial role in the skimming operations and, I would guess, burning, vessel procurement, boom procurement, and boom deployment. Yet a Google News search turns up only this one story mentioning them.

So, in all the coverage about how disorganized the response has been, there has been no discussion of what role BP's chief contractor has played and how they have performed. Are they on a cost-plus basis? Do they have an incentive to clean up the oil as fast as possible? Did they have a role in declining the Netherlands' early offer of super-efficient skimmers? (I am not trying to blame them, since I have no actual information about their role.)

But the skimming effort to date has been pathetic. A few days ago, I estimated they had collected only around 60K bbl in 7 weeks, based on Allen's statement that the oil-water mix is only 10-15% oil.

From the look of the website, it isn't a huge company, though they do sell boom and own some skimmers. So maybe the CSM was wrong about their being the principal or "coordinating" contractor. Does anybody know anything about BP's cleanup contractors?

Don't remember who was questioning the whale poop story earlier today and couldn't find it. That's because it's under whale 'poo', not 'poop'.

Sorry, here it is:

How come all these so-called smart people here can't do google searches??

Some people have better Google-fu than others (they can come up with the right keywords quickly).

Can't we give BP credit for the success of one part of their response plan? No walruses have been harmed by this blowout.

This can't be true.

The walruses mentioned in their report are now extinct in the gulf.

Yes, but NONE of the extinct walruses have been harmed.

JSA: Addendum: "That we know of." Congressional testimony.


When the sea floor collapses the GOM will drain into the level where the extinct animals go and drown them all.

And the floor of that level is probably leaky so it will extinguish the molten core of the earth which will shrink and then they'll be sorry.

h/t Jules Verne

duplicate deleted

Theoretically no polar bears either. But then, I am wondering what all of that methane added to the atmosphere not to mention all the carbon from flared methane and burned oil is doing to the atmosphere. Percentage-wise it can't be much added greenhouse gasses - it might accelerate things by maybe a few months.

a few months here, a couple months there, and pretty soon we're talking about the present

Speaking of Hayward, I'd like to remind everyone that he has a public bet with ASPO that there will be more oil produced in 2018 than in 2008.

I think that will end up being a close one. My guess is that there will be a peak between 2008 and 2018 but it may be close enough enough to 2018 such that 2018 will be higher than 2008 even though it is on the way down.

It might come down to to the definition . . . "global crude production"? Does that mean oil sands are in but biofuels are not?

BP Boss Hayward Bets Price of a Barrel Over Peak Oil
June 10 2008 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward is putting money on the line to dispute the theory of peak oil, according to his counterparty in the wager Kjell Aleklett, a professor at Sweden's Uppsala University.

Hayward bet Aleklett the price of one barrel of oil in 2018 that global crude production will be greater than the current daily output of 85.5 million barrels, the professor said during his speech at the Asia Oil and Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Total supply was 86.8 million barrels a day, including natural gas liquids such as propane.

Aleklett heads the global energy systems department at Uppsala and is the chairman of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas. Peak oil theory holds that production will reach a zenith of 87 million barrels a day sometime around 2010 and then start declining, according the group's findings.

``I am upset that the bet is so low, only the price of one barrel of oil,'' Aleklett said to laughter from the audience. Crude oil futures reached a record $139.12 a barrel in New York on June 6 and have more than doubled in the past year. The July contract was trading at $133.86 a barrel at 9:38 a.m. in London.

Hayward, who received a Ph.D. in geology from Edinburgh University, gave the keynote speech at the conference.

The era of cheap energy is over as oil production isn't rising fast enough to meet demand amid a lack of spending,'' he said yesterday.

``Producers are being hampered by 25 years of low investments, because of low prices,'' Hayward said. ``The result is a supply chain being stretched to breaking point.''

Hmmm . . . I wonder if his own companies apparent inattention to safety will end up causing him to lose the bet? If deepwater drilling is forced to slow down and become much more expensive, that will end up slowing the fastest growing sector of oil production in the world right now. Ironic.

Speaking of Hayward, I'd like to remind everyone that he has a public bet with ASPO that there will be more oil produced in 2018 than in 2008.

Is that a bet that more oil will actually be produced or that the BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2018 will report more oil :)

Sky News has it that Svanberg's benching Tony.

BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg has told Sky's Jeff Randall that embattled chief executive Tony Hayward is to have a changed role in dealing with the oil spill.

Asked by Randall about Mr Hayward's ongoing role, Mr Svanberg said: "He is now handing over the operation to Bob Dudley." ...

"It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people," Mr Svanberg said.

Mr Svanberg admitted that the disaster is turning from an industrial accident into a much broader concern and he will now expand his own involvement.

"This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter and that is why you will now see more of me," Mr Svanberg said. ...

More there.

If Hayward wants to stay in the light and help BP, he should go clean birds or build a berm. If anyone questions him about BP, he should just say I am only here to help in small way today. I am volunteering for blank. Yes, I know the bodyguards and paparazzi would be an issue, but it just that sort of thing that would go miles in helping to heal the rift that now exists.

Dudley quote from June 1. 2010
On Face the Nation two days ago, CBS News correspondent John Dickerson asked the following question of BP Managing Director Bob Dudley:

There's been some talk about bringing supertankers in to help with the cleanup effort. Is that something BP is considering to vacuum off the oil?

Here's how Dudley responded:

We have looked at that. It's a — we have looked at that. It's an interesting, interesting idea. Those have you — been used in the — in the Arabian Sea in the Gulf over there for spills. What we're finding with this oil, it's — it's light, it's relatively volatile. And with the use of dispersants, it tends to string out a number of miles long but very narrow. And so, as we look at this, it's — it's not the same concept to be able to work. And — and our spill responses at the surface now are being very, very effective.

Read more:

No, he 'wants his life back.' ;-)

It would appear Dudley has experience in law enforcement and bad acting. We are in are capable hands.

Notice the lack of horns. Dudley has not earned them yet. He will. I promise no more satire for today. I will post informational only stuff for the rest of the day. I would not want this wonderful place to degrade. I am off to take cleanup pictures.

Strange this is news today, it was announced last week

and... (Mr. Dudley the BP cleanup overseer) and Sec. Mabus ( the US cleanup overseer), have something in common.

"This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter and that is why you will now see more of me," Mr Svanberg said. ...

That should please the "small people" I guess...

BBC Radio 4 news reported this in the 6 o'clock bulletin tonight as (words to the effect) "Tony Hayward is to step down from leading the response to the Gulf leak". Nothing on about it yet, though at the time of writing.

"This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter [...]" Mr Svanberg said.

No sh-t, Sherlock!

From the link:

On Wednesday, Mr Svanberg was called into a 25-minute, one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama over BP's response to the April accident.

OldSwede, whether a father-son chat or a come-to-Jesus, what would we give to have seen that?

Lotus, from that meeting and until the well is sealed and until BP has payed all the costs, Obama IS the chairman of the board, but with a suspect Swedish accent ;-)

But Obama also hired a couple of pretty experienced teachers to secure that it will be no more small-people-talk accidents.

That´s what that meeting was about and I give you this for free ;-)

Excuse me, I AM aware of the seriousity of this disaster but the above is a good thing from my point of view. I also think that Obama and Svanberg still are behind the curve but they are catching up.

Kind regards from Sweden

I'm still waiting to see a photo of Q4000's flaring operation. That has to be an impressive flame!

Indeed. Apparently the spew is 40% methane . . . that has got to be quite the flare.

40% methane down on 5000 feet depth . . . no wonder the methyl-hydrate crystals have been such a vexing problem in stopping this spill.

That is why a tight leak proof connection that can't let seawater in is so important. I suspect they are not having hydrate problems with the connection they just made to the Q4000. They just have to worry about all that gas blowing up the rig! ;-)

ABC Evening News had a reporter in a CG chopper. It wasn't as impressive as I had hoped, maybe 3-4 times the breadth of the DE flare.

Looked for Video at ABC but couldn't find.

I saw it too, not on ABC, tho.

I ask this question for the last time.

Why, for God's sake, they won't flare and burn it all? It has been told that they can unbolt the cut riser flange and install another sealed flange now.
So let's assume it can be done. A new riser can be bolted on that BOP without overpressurizing the structures beneath.
Then, considering technological risks, since it's involving many folks just over that gusher who may put their lives in jeopardy by trying to contain it, that idea is simply discarded - imo that by simply breathing "air" in that area they already facing a somehow unpredictable future..

Simple question: who the hell cares if it's not contained?

One steel pipe sticking out of the water with a huge flame over it.
One GOM saved from further damage.
One big cloud of smoke over some states that would only look bad, actually doing much less harm than everyday traffic there, even much more less damage than crude in the sea destroying food supply of millions (hope that makes sense), the food web of the GOM, the natural order of life as it was before that..
One chance for BP to make the flow estimates remain estimates once and for all.

Someone could please answer?
WHY not?

I think this was covered pretty extensively in past threads but basically what you are doing is transferring a blowout from the seabed where it is relatively safe to the surface where it is anything but.

There are several hundred men up there and even if you were to remove all but a couple of vessels they would still be at risk.

Even the relief well drilling rigs are to close to the well head to be safe.

I question the assumption that there must be people working up top if the stuff is just being flared and all though of collection has been abandoned.

Certainly people are being killed in great number by letting it spill and ruin lives. Having watched people die from suicide, drink and lost hope when the logging industry was shut down in the NW- and seeing their the damage extend through generations- I have trouble believing that thousands will not die from this tragedy.

So in consideration, I think there is a lot to be said for transferring a blow out to the surface.

I agree with you on the need for a cap that has a tight connection so it doesn't leak and doesn't have problems with seawater intrusion and thus methyl hydrates.

The problem with the huge pipe on fire approach is the size of the fire. Nobody could possibly work anywhere near it and there would still likely flaming globs of oil falling back into the Gulf, not to mention the cloud of black dirty smoke. That is why the special burner was fitted onto Q4000. Think this through and you will start to see why that would not be a good approach.

The best solution for now it to 'produce' the oil, which is what they are trying to do even if they are behind the curve still.

I am assured by some here that the next cap, called the 'overshoot tool' will make a tight seal... though I am skeptical because the few photos and drawings I have seen suggest an alternate definition of 'a tight seal' and the descriptions have been disturbingly vague.

Hopefully it doesn't have a designed leakage of 5,000 to 10,000 bopd 'to keep the seawater out' and the black death finally stops billowing out.

I still think the Coast Guard were too quick to deluge the rig.

The Coast Guard sunk the Deepwater Horizon by flooding the pontoons, it took them a few days but they managed it in the end.

I'm not sure what they were trying to achieve because I don't think it was ever possible to put this well out with water.

I don't blame the Coast Guard because they are only doing their job, they see fire, they put water on it.

But perhaps in future should anything like this ever happen again, god forbid, then I think it would be best to let the rig burn. The fire is above the drill floor and heat rises, so long as the riser and the rigs legs and pontoons are in place most of the oil should simply burn in a giant fireball.

It's impossible to know how long the rig could have lasted but it could have been weeks or even months before she sunk. Which would have bought truly INVALUABLE time to mobilize a response.

In fact this whole episode should have been a massive effort to keep water off the Deepwater Horizon and keep her afloat.

Perhaps in future rigs will be designed so that the legs, pontoons and drill floor can survive an explosion on deck, then so long as the pontoons remain buoyant the riser should be intact and the whole show can basically sit there and flare off everything whilst a full response it planned and prepared.

Perhaps derricks should have closed sides so that blowout fires burn above the rig? The flow through the derrick would draw air from below the drill floor and a truly ferocious fire would burn 200ft above the derrick.

This may even buy the critical 90 days required for relief wells.

Obviously the current design philosophy is built around a functioning BOP, if you haven't got that, you've got nothing.

Some dramatic pictures of Salvage of the "THUNDER HORSE" PDQ showing the rig with a 20 degree list following hurricane Dennis due to flooding of the port columns.

Ty all for your answers. I'm not sure this has been discussed enough, though read all threads a way ago since I found TOD, and this "solution" is out of the talk since a while.
We've all seen footage of the DWH rig on flames, I don't know how much flow to associate with that, but probably more than 5kbbl/day - we don't know if the BOP was activated, or how much restriction affected the flow then, sure it was looking like hell came on the surface. CG vessels were spraying water from a quite big distance, there must have been enormous heat all around, I understand that too. Still looked better than the Gulf today, don't tell me "uuu, that dirty smoke" is something on the same scale with this mess!

The DD2/3 rigs drilling RWs are some distance away from ground zero (not sure, must be around a mile), so a fire won't affect them more badly than the current layer of oil on the surface.

Now there are LOTS of ships just above the wellhead. There is crude flowing all around, constantly evaporating to the air not only carcinogenic fractions risking thousands of lives in the long term, but flammable, maybe explosive clouds might be formed - therefore I think that "evergreen burner" thing, the conventional NG flaring, to say, any controlled burn attempts by manned vessels in that area is a pretty bad idea IMO.

I think I would have asked Tony (the CEO of BP) if he had ever taken the BP 6 in 1 safety course. One of the main tenants of this course is that "everyone has the responsibility to stop the job". It sounds like quite a few people tried to stop this job. Why were they not listened to?

any idea when the equipment for processing will be available? will this include coverage for the ~20 million cu ft of escaping gas?

unrelated question: how many hp is the pump (s) that force the mud down to close off a wild well? i know the reservoir is ~11,900 psi so i am assuming one has to overpower that force


win -- some vague memory of more seperation equipment showing up in the next two weeks. Can't recover the NG. It has to be flared since there is no pipeline to ship it away. LNG is not an option in this circumstance. Not sure what the pump pressure ratings will be but probabaly not as high as some folks would guess. Remember just the pressure of an 18,000' colume of 14 ppg mud will yield a bottom hole pressure of 13,000' even with the pumps off. Kick in the pumps and it might add around 0.4 ppg effective mud weight (ECD) to the system. A more critical pump parameter is flow rate. Typically hundreds of bbls per minute on the really big pumps.

He was asked pretty much that question and he actually replied. He said that all the decision makers on the rig agreed to go forward and nobody wanted to "stop the job". Testimony from Transocean's OIM, and Senior Toolpusher was that they believed there were no outstanding safety issues and that they had a "good" result on the second negative pressure test.

tow -- the well site folks and BP still have a problem. Let's assume that an independent review board looks at the cmt pressure tests and concludes that the determination of a good cmt job was valid. But that doesn't relieve them of the negligence in not monitoring the mud returns as they displaced. As we've detailed before this isn't a cost sensitive issue: it doesn't cost a penny to keep track of the mud returns. FOR THE NEWBIES: for oil/NG to flow up the csg and cause a blow out it has to push the drill mud out ahead of it. How do you if the well is "kicking" (flowing)? You turn the mud pumps off and if the mud keeps flowing out of the hole then obviously something is pushing it out. As to why they weren't checking mud returns many theories have been put forward. But "checking for flow" is the primary safe drilling procedures. It is today, it has been for over 60 years and will continue to be as long as wells are drilled. When the investigation gets serious THE question will be: why weren't you checking for flow when the riser was being displaced? I can tell you the possible answer right now. 1) the person(s) responsible weren't doing their job. 2) we knew the cmt tests were good and didn't see a reason to do so (of course, they were wrong). 3) we were but the mud transfer procedures were hiding the well flow. 4) And they may be a few more imaginative answers. And what would be the one answer that relieves them of responsibility? There is none IMHO.


Mud was transfered straight to the boat.

Curiously I think this exactly strikes to a core issue. No-one tried to stop the job. There were reports about a "nightmare well" but that isn't trying to stop the job. If the person who wrote that believed that the well was intrinsicly unsafe they were dericit in their duty not to actually stop it. You don't stop it by appealing to your manager in an email report. That is ducking the responsibility and hoping that your manager will take it up. The "responsibility to stop the job" means that the moment you see an unsafe situation you act on the spot to halt it. It is your personal reponsibility to do this. Not your manager's, yours.

I suspect the reality is that nobody thought the well was intrinsicly unsafe. Just that it was difficult. We all have nightmare times with jobs. I do, and I sit behind a computer writing software. But I am not in fear for my life. Rockman has described rigs where at times the hands are either working, or sleep in the escape pods. These hands are truly in fear for their lives. They believe that there is a significant chance there will be a bad accident. It is the industry culture that accepts this level of risk that is the problem. And it would appear that this is endemic, not peculiar to BP.

However there is no evidence that anyone on the DWH believed this. They had had a rough time doing the job, it had gone over time and over budget (which for most managers defines a nightmare). If anything the accident would appear to be partly the result, not of fear, but complacency. If the rig workers believed that the well was dangerous they would not have been acting the way they did. They would have been watching like hawks, and the accident would not have happened.

My worry is that the recent commentary on DWH has focussed exclusivley on BP, and demonised them to the point of losing sight of the wider picture. There seems to be considerable evidence that this accident could have occured on many other wells in the GOM, and many wells were within a single failure of an almost identical accident. BP had the bad luck that the line of failures all lined up for them. There may well be some truth that BP's internal processes and management style made it more likely that the accident happened to one of their wells, but it doesn't avoid the pressing need to focus on the entire process and all players.

Well said Francis. But I'll add one clarification: anyone who has worked rigs very long knows that drilling is always intrinsically unsafe. Not trying to be overly dramatic but when you're on a rig just about everything you see going on reminds you of this. You can't avoid the thoughts be it getting hit in the back with a 4,000 lb pipe tong or getting your finger caught in a pinch point. Almost every piece of equipment/procedure on a rig can maim/kill. I sure folks who do construction would say the same about building sites. Heck -- I had a dumb electrician once almost die because he was cleaning his ear out with a screw driver. Standing in front of a hatch. Hatch swung open (no windows, of course) hit his elbow and, fortunately for him, drove the screw driver out the back of his ear lobe instead of into his brain.

Just like I went on above about checking for flow. Maybe I'm just a natural born coward but I require constant checking for flow even when there's no reason for concern. And I'll continue to harp on the fact that this most important safe drilling practice of all, IMHO, costs nothing. The cmt could have failed. The csg could have ruptured. But if they had noticed the mud flowing back in time they could have shut the well in (without ever activating the BOP) and killed the flow. As you imply, this would have been just another near miss that no one in the public would have ever heard about.

Hi Rockman:

Totally off topic but I'm hoping you catch this and feel inclined to reply.
I'm thinking of taking the Wild Well Fundamentals/Workover classes in Huston later this summer. Would you be willing to offer an opinion and/or alternatives? Thanks in advance (for sticking your neck out). ;-)

RP -- I don't know enough to offer a recommendation offhand but I'll ask my boss/engineer when I see him. Most off my well control knowledge I picked up across a galley table while having a bowl of Blue Bell.

"Just like I went on above about checking for flow. Maybe I'm just a natural born coward but I require constant checking for flow even when there's no reason for concern. And I'll continue to harp on the fact that this most important safe drilling practice of all, IMHO, costs nothing."

I 100% agree as I have been there and done that many times. It continues to baffle me why this most basic of precautions was not taken.

I have to chime in also and agree. While there were other things that may have come together as the perfect storm, how this got missed I just can't fathom.

On a side note, CNN ran an article today that said there were two people on the rig floor that fateful night that survived. First off, I don't know how anybody on the rig floor would have survived, but if true, they would be critical to interview to find out what the thought processes were.

I saw Congress also asked about calling the night company man. His testimony will be critical also to what exactly happened that night.

Well put, ROCKMAN. What little experience I have with wells, (mainly well development on ~2,000 ft GW monitoring wells), definitely impressed the constant safety challenges.

Besides the points you've made, one aspect that I quickly learned, is how seldom things go according to plan; difficult wells require constant adjustments at many levels of authority. Some parts of the work seem routine, but just add fatigue to routine, and things can happen. It sounds like monitoring the cuttings/mud is ingrained in your routine, fortunately for us, as we've all benefited greatly by having you around to explain things for us.

There's some smart cookies on this site from many walks of life, its been both a great resource, and a mind-numbing overload of information. Thanks, and keep it up. I don't have a lot of specialized knowledge to offer, just have tangentially approached a few different professions represented here, in one way or another. I'm currently living within walking distance of the GoM.

The only "would it work?" idea I've had, I've already ruled out, but I'll tpss it out there any way. In situ vitrification came to mind when reading someone comparin' electron flow to well flow. But turning the rock into a molten sand with volatiles in it would probably be a pretty short career path.

Thanks again, all.

idle thoughts on the testimony ...

1- you can't expect a group of politicians ( a job that has no formal gob requirement) to grill a professional geologist of 25 yrs when dealing with complex situations

2- why not have a panel of 6-8 petroleum engg profs ...i would say 3 form TAMU and 3 from UT for a panel ....i would imagine a couple of hours and things will be much clearer

3- most likely BP has investigated this matter already or atleast a time line of events has been drawn up ....all the he said/she said is written down somewhere.....I would have imagined BP and transocean would have moved quickly and debriefed the rig personal ....this is standard procedure for an instance of this magnitude.

4- tony hayward was supposed to look contrite and take some punching ...he did just that ...there is nothing to be gained out of a congressional testimony for BP but a lot to be lost by saying anything really other than i'm sorry ...we are investigating.....automaker CEO's did the same thing did wall st CEO's....i dont understand why BP was expected to do differently ....

5- not every question can have a yea or nae for an answer ..there are judgment calls...there are good and not so good practices....and there are regulatory expectations ...example would be the CBL log ...the regulatory expectation is that it will be run before completing a well to prove zonal isolation and cmt behind csg (in this case 500' cmt behind csg over the deepest productive zone) ...but was it a regulatory requirement at this point ...NO ....was it a good practice to run one ...YES ....did BP miss a trick by not running one here and could it have helped ...possibly..

6- I have given depositions at such hearings in the US and norway ....was one better organized YES ....was it the US one ..NO the US i knew I was in front of a bunch of people who know as much about drilling as I know about brain surgery ....I was non-committal on almost everything because I had nothing to gain and knew my comments would easily be mis-construed and could be bent out of shape by lawyers at a later stage Norway the panel consisted of safety engineers/process engineers/thier coast guard equvilant .....they asked specific questions and I was able to give specific answers ...all technical and I could asnwer easily since numbers are numbers....the US the only thing any1 was interested in was finding who to pin the blame on rather than understanding what happened or when or why takes a professional to ask questions from a professional ...just my 0.02

Many cultures have shaming rituals--our version is the congressional investigation.

forgot to add this point

7- the kick happened on the rig....folks on the rig are responsible for monitoring kicks and responding accordingly.....decisions earlier have no effect on this simple fact ....the guy responsible for monitoring returns has to be asked questions first.....does he have a logical explanation for not monitoring the returns or did he point it out to someone and it was ignored ....or what have you .....could be as simple as counters not being reset properly ...but even than 57 bbl over 12 minutes calls for a stopping displacement and at least a couple of minutes of thought on what to do next .....this needs to be asked first because 11 ppl that died died because of this .....this is not the last time a cmt job failed ....this is not the last time a rig was over schedule and directions to "bump it" were being relayed ....this is a business and all businesses are out to make money .....but no one at BP would've raised a much as his voice if they'd heard displacement was stopped when returns were observed to be more than 15 bbls in 12 minutes ..let alone 57 bbls....this question has to be answered publicly because the decisions made at the bank would've at worst caused BP to lose the hole ....but the negligence at the rig has cost 11 lives ..

It's really rich to watch Congresscritters who have no knowledge of anything, who routinely pass thousand-page bills and get caught out later on by booby-traps that were slipped in that neither they nor their aides ever bothered to read or even notice, acting as if a CEO would answer day-to-day operations questions. Just a bunch of posturing bloviating slimeball rubbish, really. Somehow that Norwegian approach seems more sane.

i grew up in the TX panhandle ...we have a saying that goes something like

"there's more men that need killin'; then there are horses that need stealin'"

that to me sums up this testimonial process

havent seen this one posted:

BP exec says relief well within 200 feet of blown well

June 18 (Reuters) - The first of two relief wells being drilled to plug the massive Gulf of Mexico leak is within 200 feet (60 metres) of the blown-out well, a BP (BP.L) (BP.N) executive said on Friday.

Kent Wells, senior vice president of exploration and production, said the next step will be to slowly hone in on the ruptured well and eventually plug it.

maybe rockman can tell us how they plan to hone in on it !

Thanks for posting this ee. I was just about to. This is a big deal--I don't how much it speeds things up--they still have to go through 200 ft of rock, right?

Let's hope...

elwood -- I suspect he means 200' laterally and not the amount of hole they have left to drill. The diagram they put out originally doesn't have a horizontal scale on it. Just noticed a funny thing: in that diagram the oil reservoir is depicted as being 1,000' thick. In reality it's only 60' thick. Maybe one last dicth effort to hype the stock price. LOL. Last I think i saw they had around 3,000' of hole to drill. I hope the put out a more detailed schematic soon.

I hope that is good news.

But then again, "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades" as the saying goes.

I'm wondering how a relief well would be used to stop the flow.

Do they try to pump mud down the relief well fast enough to disrupt the flow in the original
bore, or do they use the relief well to divert the flow, allowing mud to be introduced into the original bore hole?

Well today is at 15938', currently setting 11 7/8" casing. note drilled 2070' in last 9 days (between casing points).

Updated graphic on June 18 from BP:

How to destroy decades of conservatives and libertarian arguments for the efficacy of self-regulation in two paragraphs:

BIn response to a U.S. senator’s questions in a letter, BP said it never follows a federal law requiring it to certify that a blowout preventer device would be able to block a well in case of an emergency. The inquiry stemmed from a hearing in May into the Gulf oil spill from the explosion and fire which sank the Deepwater Horizon rig.
But, at the same time, the British oil giant blamed the federal oversight agency, Minerals Management Service, for not asking it to comply with the law.

That is some serious flip-fu.

wrb: Cite:

This statement is like saying the cop did not tell me to not drive drunk so it isn't my fault I drove drunk and etc.

This whole chain of events is becoming weirder and weirder.

No company drilling in the GoM performs that test. It's not just BP - it's all of them.

That doesn't make it right, nor does it excuse the companies for not performing the test.

wrb wrote:

How to destroy decades of conservatives and libertarian arguments for the efficacy of self-regulation in two paragraphs:

This accident destroys the argument that government regulation can prevent accidents and keep us safe.

Nonsense! You should know better than that: Clearly government regulation has greatly reduced the number of blowouts and accidents on oil rigs. Better regulation means fewer accidents, fewer blowouts. For a specific example of regulation that is better than that in the U.S., look at Norway. More and better regulation can enormously reduce accidents--e.g., laws against drunk driving.

Michael -- As the sailor implies: enforced regs keep it safe. My regs are much more severe than the MMS. More importantly the hands follow my protocols or they are run off. Not at the end of the tower...right then and now. No debates: walk off my location or I'll shove your butt off. I seldom have trouble with my hands. They know what my rules are.

Rockman: "They know what my rules are." Exactly what works. Consistent > Predictable > Fair.

Reminds me of when I was a rufneck in 1958 on morning tower and my dad was the toolpusher and was on location and either the driller or my dad fired the derrick hand and sent him walking about 25 miles from town. We were just starting in the hole so the driller went to the derrick and dad ran the rig. Fastest trip in the hole I ever saw. My dad could sure make a rig walk and talk.

...enforced... regs keep it safe

(emphasis added.) That's the problem, isn't it? Congresscritters and bureaucrats delight in appearing to look concerned by piling on more and more that then get ignored The boring and unremarkable task of day-to-day enforcement comes in a rather distant second. Even when it occurs it will often be like police during of a riot - look busy enforcing trivial laws or even arresting bystanders, rather than risk going against the actual violators.

You've got to be joking, or trolling, or just taking a contrary view to start an argument.

What this disaster (hint: NOT an 'accident') proves is that lax enforcement of weak regulations does not work, and that relying on companies to self regulate most certainly does not work.

Want more examples? This year's coal mine explosion; Bureau of Mines could not shut them down for safety violations, and fines were capped at a ridiculously low level. Another example; the banking disaster, a prime example of little to no regulation and no one knowing what anyone was doing.

Disaster, clearly. How was this not an accident?

Think anti-trust. Too much money and know-how in too few hands.

My thoughts on the testimony:

Having spent a day being interrogated by seven hot shot lawyers in a major US trial in a similar situation, I can tell you that your main aim is basic survival.

Everyone wants to damage you personally and/or your firm.

In my case - as in this one - billions were involved, so everyone is seeking a financial advantage ... and your health, reputation, career, freedom etc count for nothing.

I feel that I aged seven years in that one day in court.

Lawyers no longer scare me - I have faced hours with the best the US legal system has ... and survived.

Tony Hayward has been through something 100 or 1000 times worse - and has also survived.

As a human being in a dreadful situation he has done well.

His attackers are of course VERY annoyed that he didn't collapse, or issue weeping apologies for the BP accident/incident.

It doesn't matter what the background is, when the wolves are circling you can't lie down and let them tear you to pieces.

Who here in a similar situation would have acted differently?

meta -- Intersting...thanks for sharing. My recent court room grilling was nothing compared to your experience let allone Tony's. Almost fun since we had the high ground. The funniest moment: the other operator's attorney expressed a technical opinion and asked what it thought of it. My answer: "That's stupid". For a fraction of a second the entire court froze. The court reporter sitting in front of me looked up and raised one eye brow. I couldn't muster the nerve to look over my shoulder to see how the judge reacted. Their attorney got very red faced but said nothing. The best thing of all: I don't think our attorneys will put me on the stand again unless they really, really have to. LOL.

BTW -- we whipped their butts big time.

Rockman: Oh, no. We're back to that word "butts" again.

No ifs or ands either...

"Embattled BP Chief Hayward Taking Back Seat in Gulf Response"

"BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that managing director Robert Dudley will take over Hayward's role in responding to the crisis, according to a report by U.K.-based Sky News."

"Embattled BP Chief Hayward Taking Back Seat in Gulf Response"

Not surprised. After the kicking he has had over the last days/weeks he must be wrecked.
He'll need WEEKS to recover I would think.

Note, he was left in place until after the hearing.


The MSNBC article (both this and ABC referenced a Sky TV News article) contained an additional telling detail:

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said Friday he will take on a more visible public role as CEO Tony Hayward transitions away from daily responsibility over the company's spill response.

"This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter and that is why you will now see more of me," he told SkyTV in an interview.

Because the "We care about the small people" chairman is sure to be such an improvement. e_e

Not understanding why they are cutting Hayward loose before the well is plugged, considering he did what they wanted at the Congressional hearing. I wonder if they gave him too much Valium beforehand. (j/k)

Chairman has now come out with a 'clarification'. Hayward still the point man.

Even more interesting, because the remarks on the Sky TV News interview were not at all ambiguous. Trying to figure this out, since the obvious thing would have been to keep him on until the well was fixed (regardless of that, sooner or later the horrific state of sea life in the GOM is going to become apparent, and that is something there will be very little anyone can do to fix).

Ok, maybe the board made Svanberg put him back in charge.

There are also a lot of remarks by our politicians out there in the news about working with Dudley as opposed to Hayward. Would have been better to wait a day before saying anything, considering the way things have turned out now.

Wasn't Dudley supposed to take over for Hayward a few weeks ago? (After the Tony Hayward commercial/backlash etc)

Tony acts totally confused and incompetent in front of Congress. They send in someone else to replace incompetent Tony.

Dudley can just add to the confusion later stating: Tony Hayward was in charge at the time.

Dudley can then say, "Since June 18th, we've done such and such"...(Conveniently avoiding April 20th)

They had announced previously that he was supposed to take over *after the well was plugged.* But they made the change today.

The article says he is keeping his job as CEO, he's not the type of guy who "works weekends" and his family has started receiving attention.

Reading between the lines, I'd suggest he has walked rather than been pushed. Not that it really matters on the scale of things except that it may change the direction of BP's response to the scrutiny it is being put under. Perhaps they'll be a bit more open and transparent about what happened and what is happening.

BP may be in the process of separating out BPUSA and setting it up to be a US company. If they do that, there is no need for Tony to not be CEO.

If BP does several confusing organizational shifts, I'll put money on my guess that Obama offered them protection for BPUSA in return for the 20 B.

Well, not much money, but some.

Lfeather: But US has the ultimate landlord weapon against BP: "No, you can't lease any more space in the GOM from us." I think that the GOM is BP's most profitable area.

Not much of a weapon when the tenant owes you billions of dollars. No leases, no ability to pay back the money owed.

Ah, yes. No leases. No cash from the GOM to pay all your bills. Then, what? The BP's shareholders would love that plan.

maybe rockman can tell us how they plan to hone in on it !

Err ... isn't that about the right separation for the nuclear warhead ... oops, sorry, did I let the cat out of the bag?

Meta -- My worst fear is that they'll pump down 30,000 bbls of Blue Bell ice cream. The horror...the horror.

Let's hope Blue Bell doesn't create a new flavor called Oil Drilling Mud ..

Actually TFG they've had Mississippi Mud Pie for years.


Off topic.

You guys stop the Blue Bell chatter, please! I'm 1500 miles from the Little Creamery in Brenham. Still a half gallon, and I can still taste their old Triple Chocolate. Please stop! The blow-out is bad enough!



Tex == Then I probably shouldn't mention the blackberry cobbler flavor they been running lately. Think I'll run down to the Kroger's.


Damn, will not again be visiting the Lone Star for some time. Will not be soon enough. Thought about having a 1/2 gallon shipped but that would be as bad as giving a drunk a fifth! I'll return to topic. This is making me nervous!

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates?



Right! Socrates said that. But he was using Socratic irony: Back in Athens everybody knew that Socrates was one of the most popular (though he had enemies, obviously, considering his trial) philosophers in Athens. Most of his students were aristocrats or the sons of aristocrats, such as Plato and the famous and infamous Alcibiades. They were awed by Socrates power of reasoning and grasp of data which he kept all in his memory--never had to write anything down.

Don Sailorman,


I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates



Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie

Possible starting point? Adjust weight of bourbon as required.

My worst fear is that the US government will take over and hire ADTI to turnkey the entire operation. Oh My!

So where would that stuff fit in on the mud-weight scale ... ?

That finally got me to google Blue Bell...

For $119, they'll ship four 1/2 gallons anywhere in the country ...How to order

Hmmmm.. they seem to still use sugar, not HFCS..

Let's see .. buttered pecan, peaches&vanilla, summer berries, southern blackberry cobbler ... so many choices.

Homemade Vanilla and Peaches & Homemade Vanilla

Dang rainy can get it for $3.99/1/2 gallon in Houston. Guess I ain't movin'


Off topic.

(Posted a bit earlier.)

You guys stop the Blue Bell chatter, please! I'm 1500 miles from the Little Creamery in Brenham. It's still a half gallon, and I can still taste their old Triple Chocolate. Please stop! The blow-out is bad enough news!



I'm gonna share part of an email just forwarded by a friend in Mississippi. It's from her state legislator, John Mayo, telling his constituents about the ride he had out over the Gulf in a MS National Guard plane. He includes visual pix, but his verbal ones are more compelling.

... Let me get to the flyover. We saw little evidence of oil in Mississippi waters. With the exception of the far eastern waters, there's nothing. For those of you who know the story of how the boundary was found between Mississippi and Louisiana a century or more ago, the same current that floated that whiskey barrel away from what is now Louisiana (once claimed by Mississippi) is also shunting the oil to Louisiana and Alabama.

What I found out today, the spill site is due south of Mobile Bay, although off of Louisiana.

Out in the open waters where the Feds have control (and not closed to all fishing) we started seeing ribbons of sheen for as far as you could see. They move in and move out from the Coast. Oil rigs of all description dot the seascape off of Louisiana beginning south of the Chandeleur Island chain. They are everywhere.

The skimmers were out there and there were a lot of them. Two boats pull a boom much like a long fishing net, but without the underwater net. A can-like device is located where the boom string makes a curve from one boat to another. The device rotates, skimming up the top layer of water. The oil/water is shunted off through a pipe in the boom and onto a specially equipped boat that separates oil from water. The oil is recovered to be made into such things as tar and asphalt.

Arriving at the spill site, we saw scores of vessels. And, one would have thought that if someone lit a match, the whole place would go up in flames. Oil spill was everywhere. Here and there we saw the deep blue color of the gulf, but the sheen was MONSTROUS. In the middle of this organized mayhem was the large vessel pumping up the captured oil from the capped well.

A pipe on the side of the ship, a flame shot out, burning off the natural gas. Another smaller boat had a HUGE flame coming out from a pipe that was being kept cool by another ship spraying water on it. The flames were HUGE. This was burning off gas from the other drilling platforms.

Two platforms a couple hundred yards apart (albeit, they may have been closer) are drilling the relief wells.

The whole scene was reminiscent of a 50's horror film where Godzilla was created by all the atomic testing. I just knew a monster was going to rise out of all this oil, consume all the ships, and then set the whole place on fire with the fire spreading on the oil sheen from Louisiana to Florida to Mexico. That's what it is like out there.

And, I must chastise myself. There was no sheen in most of the Mississippi waters and I felt somewhat like a guy going to a NASCAR race and there was no wreck. But, the sheen we saw and the oil engulfing the spill site was sickening, heartbreaking, and you knew avoidable if someone had just said, "No. Let's do it right."

On the way back, this time flying to Mobile Bay and Dauphin Island where oil has been spotted, we saw long orange streamers. This is oil mixed with dispersant. This will probably come onshore in the form of tar balls which when cooled (out of the sun), so to speak, harden to tar or an asphalt-like substance. They were everywhere off of Alabama. ...

He includes visual pix, but his verbal ones are more compelling.

Compelling indeed, Lotus. Thanks for posting this. Mayo sounds like a mensch.

For sure a major mensch, Swift Loris. You should see the rest of his letter. He mentions, for instance, that he's been pressing questions such as whether they're addressing human needs like mental health ("surprisingly it is not in the 'planning' mix") and keeping records of lessons-learned and after-action reports.

"I won't go into a lot of detail," he says, "but I feel this Mental Health issue is really important. These folks and especially the children have gone through a lot of disasters the last six years."

I envy my friend her representative (though, for her sins, she lives in Mississippi -- which I have standing to say as a native-born). Mayo sure beats my turkey in the Florida lege.

Check out this video of the flow the day the riser was cut with the top hot not in place.

Seems like a lot more oil is flowing now but I don't really know

Marching to a lackadaisical drum:

Obama's Spill Recovery Chief Will Be Part-Time
2 big jobs: Spill recovery chief to split time as Navy boss, puzzling some environmentalists

for slamcoach not snakehead--I must have hit the wrong reply button [edit].

The current flow is a tube-shaped curtain around the cap which looks bigger because it is hollow.


With the indulgence of the editors I'd like to repost Terry's message. It's above and came in rather late in the day. But given the thread re: what Tony now knows and doesn't know about the accident:

"The BP investigation took place at a hotel near the Houston HQ from May 7th to 21st and averaged 18 hours/day of work by a team from all over the world. That investigation did include the depositions of the rig crew. The draft report was ready on May 27th to be presented to BP executives, the final version was ready on Wednesday night, before the Congressional meeting."

The plot thickens.

Wonder if BP was now worried about *that* hitting the news...

Legal staff probably wouldn't let him see it prior to his interrogation. No chance of a perjury charge that way.

What, if he had already seen the draft report?

Then here's hoping he goes down for perjury.

What, if he had already seen the draft report?

Rule #1 : Never, ever lie in a court. They will know more about what you have done or know than you do!

They have had teams of lawyers going through emails, files, diaries etc for days.

You may have forgotten stuff or believe some things are unknown ... but they have it on paper in front of them!

If they catch you out just once you are labelled an unreliable witness. Game over.

Hayward & his advisers should know this - so he won't have come out with ANY lies during his interrogation.


sounds close to what i've heard on the drill engg grapevine ....although didn't hear nothing about the final report until now....but then news comes in when it does one wants to be sticking their head out for news on this :)

heard Petrobras was heavily involved in analysis

ali - same here. Didn't want to repeat without some confirmation of the detail. Starting to get the feeling there are some BP hands blabbing. Maybe more than a few axes to grind.

RM -- yeah, i'd reckon there are a few axes.

don't worry though ...we have instituted our own investigative team of today we have 4 qualified interns (2 aggies, a longhorn and a red raider) on the job....they will be investigating this incident and submitting their findings in 3 weeks time (they've been running TA/PA procedures and the ops superintendent thought it be a good idea to bust their balls a little)...i will share their conclusions when they present on TOD ...

who knows...ROCKMAN SHELBURN HO el al might learn a few things when our high powered team of interns discuss their findings and i post them here on TOD :)

Woudn't be surprised ali. The kids start out so much smarter then when I started in '75. Dang do I miss traning the new kids. I'd start off all patient and understanding. But when it came to a real time stimulation I would rattle them so bad some almost comw to tears. Like the old saying: it's easy to hit a paper target when it ain't shooting back at you. Easy to run the kill sheet when you're not worrying about killing someone.

I was a little kid reading fishing magazines in 1975, and recall one magazine publisher who would convincingly write about King Hubbert and oil depletion. Anyone who remembers this has to be considered smarter than the majority of the people that have looked the other way all these years.

Noob layman here with a couple of questions.

Would you be able to get a permit to drill 18,000 feet beneath a sea floor that's 5,200 feet below the surface of the water if the BOP is only capable of handling 11-12,000 lbs. of pressure psi?

Does anybody have any idea why BP would approve a modified BOP for this project after engineers told BP it significantly increased the risk of a blow out of an already risky product?

I didn't check, but I would assume from my past experience that this BOP stack was rated for 15,000 to 20,000 psi. I'm going to look for this info.

The bi-weekly BOP pressure test may have been to 11,000 to 12,000 psi. That's a different issue. The BOP pressure test takes the wells maximum anticipated surface pressure in consideration. I don't remember the exact way that the test pressure is determined. Any takers?

I don't think that the water depth would make a huge difference on the BOP pressure rating, because the rating is based on the internal pressure not the hydrostatic pressure on the outside of the BOP.


Was looking for that too and came up with this.

"According to Transocean's fleet inventory, the BOP is a Hydril 18¾ inch 15,000 psi, six-ram system with a Cameron 15,000 psi wellhead connector."

Yeah I just saw that too. I don't think anyone is barking up the right tree on the BOP issue. I'm sure every issue that they had with the BOP was still within the regulations due to redundancy or had MMS approval or waivers.

If people want to change the regulations that's one thing, but I don't think you can retroactively punish them if they followed faulty rules.

BP and Transocean are known for being over the top on quality equipment. I think they started the well with a perfectly functional and tested BOP stack, at the end of this well the equipment was in need of repair, no doubt, but the root cause of this disaster is in the well construction and the processes not the BOP stack.

If the talking heads and politicians overlook the other issues and only we end up having bigger and better BOP stacks on rigs then this entire situation will have got the oilfield nowhere. The BOP is a minor issue in my view.

The BOP is a minor issue in my view.

except that the bop - didn't - pbo.

It may be that BP's well contruction and design and the lack of following best practices made it impossible for the BOP to function properly once the blow out needed to be prevented. I don't think you can design a BOP that will overcome stupid.

For example, if the 9 7/8 casing was blow out of the hole and jammed in the BOP, that is a well construction issue that caused a BOP failure not a BOP failure all by itself. Casing strings are not supposed to be blown out into the BOP's. So look at the root cause first.

What about performance testing and rebuilding the remaining 33?

xburb, that would have been even more tricky, but since the moratorium most of these rigs and their BOP's will go work elsewhere so the few rigs that stay won't have to fight for the company or two that actually do some of this work.

So 33 BOP's that need rebuilding and inspection that's tough but 4 or 5 BOP's not so much, since they can't work for at least six months.

Sounds good to me x but I think it might be time for a new generation of Deep Water BOP design. Like I was kiding a few days ago: after 35 years in the oil patch I don't think of BOP's as the "last line of defense". More like the "worse line of defense".

Rock, we have our subsea BOP's topside on the stump now. I just took a new mud engineer to check them out. I'm still impressed every time I see them up close (which is rare). I pointed out to the mud engineer that if MMS made us add another blind shear ram without allowing it to take the place of a pipe ram, the entire area of the rig over the BOP and the BOP hoist would have to be redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate the extra ram.

They are looking at millions of dollars and still not knowing the outcome of the blue ribbon commission in six months or later. I don't think many contractors are sticking around. They absolutely know there will be added cost and they don't know if the market will put them back to work right away. Rigs were already leaving, so why bother trying to stay?

ExBoPEng posted that the burst rating of the BOP in question would something like 20,000 psi to 22,500 psi.

Would you be able to get a permit to drill 18,000 feet beneath a sea floor that's 5,200 feet below the surface of the water if the BOP is only capable of handling 11-12,000 lbs. of pressure psi?

Someone will, I'm sure, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that the 18000-foot well depth includes the 5000 feet of water.

A company called MOP Environmental Solutions apparently has a good absorbent product for oil spills, I've read good things here and there. Anyone have any scoop, so to speak?

One of the Skandi ROVs was just checking the bullseyes on the BOP and wellhead and the bubbles appear to have moved when compared to images captured last week. The change is only a fraction of a degree, but the comparison would seem to indicate some movement has occurred.

I was watching that. It looked like the one near the top of the LMRP measured 1 degree, assuming it has a 5 degree range.

The one at the well head down below has the scale marked in a way that suggests it has a 3 degree range instead of 5. If that is the case the wellhead is about 2 degrees from plumb.

The one at the very top is attached to the flex coupling which is visibly bent, so it's reading has always been off scale.

What readings did you see on the lower two last time you saw them check?

I believe there are two levels at the top, one mounted on the flex joint and one fixed to the LMRP frame. I'm not sure about the actual range of levels - I seem to recall that the upper had a 2 degree range and the bottom was 5 degrees (but I don't recall where I got those numbers). The bubble on the top level has moved about half the distance between two markings towards the center - the one on the bottom moved from being pinned to the outside of the level to the first marking towards the center.

EDIT: James, I think I probably have the ranges swapped - I think yours are the correct ones.

Interesting. Any movement at all seems like cause to be extra gentle with it.

Assuming the levels provide an accurate indication of the center line (which they may not), it looks to me like the entire assembly is returning to the plumb line. Perhaps this would be expected given that the BOP was likely being pulled sideways by the rig and riser.

There's a new Kent Wells' technical update PDF with diagrams showing the planned configurations for the end of June and mid-July. (There's no accompanying video this time.)

eta: audio of the Kent Wells briefing is now available at 6/18 technical update.

Looks like they're adding an autonomous subsea dispersant system ... would that continue to operate if they need to disengage surface vessels during a hurricane threat?

The slides show both the Helix Producer and Toisa Pisces FPSOs pulling from the BOP kill & choke lines rather than from the cap.

During Adm Allen's morning briefing (transcript at 6/18 press briefing) he said that if it appears that the end-of-June 40-53 bpd containment is processing all of the flow, they may not switch out caps.

I'd like to hear some comments from knowledgeable folks on Thad Allen's description of the drilling procedure for the first relief well, from his conference call today.

What they actually do, just for your information, they actually come very close to the well itself. Probably within 10 feet of it. And as they pass by it, they use telemetry and sensor to actually locate to a virtual certainty where the well, where the pipe is at.

Then they actually, this is directional drilling, they actually bend the drill bit down and they go down about another thousand feet and they come right back into the pipe. And the reason they do that is to get an absolute location and then follow the pipe down to the exact intercept point.

Not knowing anything about drilling oil wells, this doesn't seem the quickest way to complete the relief well. I wonder if this choice of procedure tells us anything about what their concerns are regarding the integrity of the original well.

These are pretty good articles, assuming the writers are correct about the technical stuff. One of the more interesting points is the final one in the first article:

“If the Macondo well is too damaged to revisit, it is possible the company could turn one of the relief wells into a producing well.”

Per ROCKMAN and others the wild well will have to be permanently plugged and abandoned, by regulation. There's no chance the original well will be re-opened.

Cat, It isn't about being fast, it's about being RIGHT. Here are some images from a similar relief well situation. I'll just post the whole link so you can follow the professional's discussion about it:

Hi RioHondoHank,
No real relief, nonetheless very refreshing and it's funny because it's so damn real... Thank you.

This may be considered an ad hominem comment, but Henry Waxman reminds me of a fugitive from a Marx Brothers movie

Greetings. I have just joined, although been reading here for a while.

A bit of personal background: I was once a mudlogger in the Canadian north. Am now an Army officer in the Canadian Forces. Other claim to fame: Big brother to the Gov of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, whose efforts at developing the renewable energy industry for the state has gained peoples notice.

My comment is regarding the drilling mud, a la RM and many others. The mudlog is rigged with sensors at various depths, and alarms sound when there are sudden changes in mud flow rates or spikes in hydrocarbon content. Where this alarms working? If folks were not watching the log, the alarms would have drawn their attention. These are very big questions, for sure.

The rig fire seems to be way in excess of anything generated by flammables that would be located on the rig itself. If this was gas from the well, how come it took folks by surprise? They should have had at least some warning.

Thanks for the education I am getting from TOD!

cap - Not 100% but I think mud log had been rigged down at the time. That would fit normal end of well ops. Offshore at end of well it's always the same: shut up, pack up, get on the boat. I'm as confused as you: the csg had to completely unload and no one noticed it happening?

I truly cannot fathom that this would occur unnoticed. It seems totally impossible.

What if it didn't happen. What if the mud was flowing as it was suppose to. What if something else happened, and all of these problems occured after that something.

What if the explosion on the rig occured first and knocked the whole shooting match askew?

What would cause such an explosion? What would generate that type of fire? I can think of nothing on the rig which would qualify.

So true cap but one thing mutiple witnesses all offer: there was water, mud and NG blowing 90' into the derrick. Ony one thing on the rig could do that: Thousands of psi blowing up the csg. Only know one way for that pressure to be there: the reservoir. If a fuel tank blew that would look like that IMHO.

Rockman: You are causing me to think unthinkable thoughts. What if the only explanation is...?


Michigan has very great amounts of an abundant renewable energy source nobody's heard of--Convective Available Potential Energy, or CAPE--the same energy source which powers thunderstorms.

The inventor of a (patented) technology capable of harvesting CAPE, is your neighbor in Ontario, CA., Louis M. Michaud, P.Eng. The technology is the Atmospheric Vortex Engine, AVE. AVEtec is looking for developmental partners, which could be your state.

Warm water from the Great Lakes can augment CAPE in the fall and early winter months, and also at night.

May the AVE-Force be with you!

interesting for sure.

Which state is mine again? Wouldn't want to overlook an asset.

Oops--I'm now guessing you're from the same province as LMM.

Ontarians are endowed with the same extensive resources as the state of Michigan, however. Actually more, since you can count (portions of) Lake Ontario as well.

The greater the number of participants sharing the development costs of the AVE, the sooner it will be "ready for prime time", which could be just a few short years.

Check out both the Business Case Presentation and FAQs to start.

Also see for a tutorial on CAPE

HOG (AVE "Endorser")

Someone needs to quick beating the "Oil" Drum and get this situation under control. Unfortunately, people lost their lives and we don't need to forget about them and their families. As well, I don't have a good answer to the problem as many people don't.

Dear Heading Out,

"There are many people who have questions for Tony Hayward..."

I didn't watch the hearing, this information didn't happen to come up, did it?

Why Were Goldman Sachs and Tony Hayward Dumping BP Stock Before Explosion?

Telegraph UK -- BP chief Tony Hayward sold shares weeks before oil spill

Also, what do people think about Hayward's estimate of 50million barrels total in the reservoir? (That, btw, and this really blew my mind, is less than 3 days of US consumption at the present rate, U.S. Petroleum Consumption 19,498,000 barrels/day.) Think about that for a minute.

That;s a valid point greenie. But it's good to point out that BP thought this well would come on at 15,000+ bopd and the average well in the USA produces less than 10 bopd. Nothing will change PO. But more domestic production is beneficial on many levels. As long as you don't destroy a large region in the process.

Yeah, it was one of those ah-ah moments putting all this death and destruction into a clear and very disturbing perspective. Who here among us would not be happy to live without petroleum for 3 days if it would have spared us all this?

Now great sacrifice is required, now and into the foreseeable future, sorry kids.

Maybe because the stock market was peaking? Remember that turmoil with the Greek debt?

Click on the 6 month link.

Dear Speaker To Animals,
I hear ya... yet that's idle speculation on your part. All we really know is what the facts are, Tony Hayward sold his stock, made a nice pile and paid off his house in Kent. At the same time big problems were brewing in his other house, the one he rents from us, as he exited his position. Coincidence? Maybe. I guess we'll never know. Might be nice though if he, Hayward, were to take in a couple of those pensioners. I suspect that house in Kent is rather grand and spacious.

Apologies if this has already been posted, rig survivor's accounts on CNN:

Writing style a bit sensational in parts, first time I remember seeing this much info from survivors in one article. Video too. Still looking at it...

Just too painful for words FS. All I can think of is my 10 yo daughter getting such news. I've mentioned it before: she had never expressed concern about my working offshore. Then her best friend's dad was killed in a pointless accident. She begged me with tears in her eyes to not go offshore anymore. Not a difficult decision to make. But the truth is I have a better chance of getting killed by a drunk driver than dying offshore. But no 10 yo is going to buy that logic. At 58 yo I was getting a little too long in the tooth for the routine anyway. Fortunately my working onshore doesn't bother her. Maybe because she's been to such well sites and just pictures me sitting in a house trailer drinking coffee and watching the drill floor from afar. Which is pretty much what I do these days: it' good to be King. LOL

As long as I'm bringing down the mood I share one more sad and ironic story. One of my best friends, Mike Harris, and I started at Mobil Oil in the 1975. Similar career paths: lots of well site work for a geologist. He was an ops geologist for Devon and he and his wife got a long hoped for assignment: an over seas post that wasn't in some hell hole like Nigeria. His last trip to N. he was held for a short period as a semi-hostage by federal troops assigned to protect him. He had been down in Brazil for most of the year working Deep Water. As a consultant I did a few small projects for him. Mike had his share of close calls like most but nothing serious. So now he and his red-headed wife were off to Paris for a little R&R. They were the two Americans that were on the AirFrance flight that went down over the Atlantic a year ago. As they say: irony thick enough to cut with a knife.

In my previous career I was associated with the oil patch here in California as a safety products supplier/small business owner. I've lost friends to various rig accidents and heard lots of stories. I cannot even imagine what these guys went through.

Many thanks to TOD and all the fine people here for all the enlightenment received on my end by reading everything time will allow for the last 3-4 weeks. I've probably learned more about the oil business in the last few weeks than in my 22+ year of working directly with oil companies, safety people, drillers, production, service folks and hands.

"In the engine room, Doug Brown -- the chief mechanic who, at 50, was one of the rig's most experienced veterans -- stood in front of the control panels.

A mechanic for more than 20 years, Brown had traveled with Deepwater Horizon from South Korea, where it was built in 2001. But he'd dreaded this hitch on the rig.

An occasional "kick" of gas is normal on rigs that drill so deep into the ocean; small amounts of methane gas and mud come back up from the well. But this well had dealt the crew problems since the day they began drilling in January."

Barron was one of only two workers from the drill floor to survive. He had been so excited to be working his first shift there.

He struggles with the loss. "All the guys I loved were on that rig."

He can't help but recall the ominous feeling they all had about this well since the first drill bit burrowed into the Earth.

And then recall the OIM yelling into the sat phone after the accident "Are you happy now?..."

Something doesn't add up here - if everyone had had bad feelings about the well why would they have let their guard down that last evening? Why wouldn't they have monitored the mud returns and been sensitive to things that "just weren't quite right" with the pressure tests?

I have the feeling some important bits of information about orders and procedures that evening are missing.

IP -- If you want to see more examples of difficult to explain fatal accidents check out the Darwin Awards.

That's pretty harsh RM - maybe so though.

Interesting postmortem on another BP disaster, only 5 years ago:

Anadarko heaps all blame on BP:

(Reuters) - As BP Plc rushed to raise cash to pay for the Gulf of Mexico disaster, a partner in the out-of-control well said the British company was likely guilty of "willful misconduct" and should shoulder the financial burden for the worst U.S. oil spill.

And now for the circular firing squad.

What does the Article above mean ??

pocampo -- what in particular? If you didn't know BP doesn't own 100% of the mess. Anadarko owns 25% and Japanese company owns 10%. They are both on the hook for their share of the mess. But it's a safe bet they'll sue BP. But until they win that battle Anadarko pays for 25% of all the costs. The well was drilled as a partnership in essence.

I got it now Bro. Anadarko does not want to shell out any Duckets!! even tho there just as bad.. I just wonder if any of our Gulf Coast bro's will ever get any real cash for this.. Its just sad..

Twenty years of court battles with lawyers getting rich?

pc: From Reuter's article:

"'BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct,' he [Houston-based Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett] added, driving his company's shares up 2.2 percent in after-hours trading."

The article means another front has opened in the war against BP and, perhaps, a wild well of leaked information against BP. "Gross negligence and willful misconduct" could easily lead to criminal charges against BP and some of its employees. The prosecution has its snitch. DOJ and states attorneys general always jump up and down with glee to have an insider arguing their case and being their witness. The quoted comments are also a PR disaster for BP... a real dog's breakfast for BP.

"The article means another front has opened in the war against BP and, perhaps, a wild well of leaked information against BP."

Yup. You can bet that establishing BP's gross negligence and willful misconduct is a prerequisite for limiting Anadarko's exposure and/or imposing some additional obligation or liability on BP, pursuant to their agreement. Anadarko, its insurers, and lawyers for both, have decided to throw BP to the wolves, and grab the biggest pieces they can.

If I were Anadarko, I might well bet that my best chance of proving said negligence and misconduct is to team up with the feds and AG's.

Kal: And the Feds win a great big lollipop, too. To say nothing of AGs of the Gulf states. I would bet that the Japanese jump into the pile also.

Let Anadarko bitch. It's just karma. Some years ago I went out on a DW gig for them and it is was the single most dangerous/scary job I've been on in 35 years. The way Anadarko handled that situation makes BP look like a safety god.

As you know Rockman Anadarko was started and run by many ex Amoco engineers and explorers See the connection?

BTW I started at Mobil in 1975 ---many companies ago.

Small world Dan. I was working the shelf out of NOLA.

Rockman: Anadarko may be worse than BP but what evidence might they have? Frequently, the witness for the prosecution is just as bad as the defendant. Corroboration makes the difference.

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" — Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence on August 2nd 1776

Well, that blows a hole through the best rumor I've heard all week.

Justices rule for fishermen

The Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 18, 2010 at 4:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 18, 2010 at 1:50 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE - Commercial fishermen can recover economic losses caused by polluters, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a decision that could establish precedent for future claims against BP.

The justices unanimously ruled that fishermen can seek such recoveries under state law even if they don't own any property damaged by the pollution.

By a 5-1 vote, they found damages also are allowed by common law.
The decision does not apply to seafood distributors, restaurants and other businesses that sustain economic losses due to pollution.

In my opinion the following is likely. The possible truth is enough to cast a shadow of doubt regarding BP’s culpability in the explosion of the Macondo Well and consquent fireball which consumed the Deepwater Horizon rig killing 11 and injuring 17 workers.

My first point is that it is fair to speculate that BP was honestly reporting the flows they saw at the inception of this disaster and that we have a gusher of growing intensity and volume.

My Second point is that if a sufficiently large deposit of methane cathrate was in just the right location, no matter who drilled the well or what precautions were taken on bringing it in, an explosion would have ensued that no BOP could have stopped

Methane cathrate forms under the sea floor over many thousands or millions of years as methane seeps up and is trapped in geological pocket where it mixes with water at a low temperature. There it remains stable as long as pressure and temperature remain stable. But, if the temperature of even the smallest element of the methane catherate were to be elevated, it would immediately increase the ambient local pressure and, if this pocket is buried, say 1000 feet beneath the sea floor, the volume would remain substantially constant and the temperature would rise causing a run-away explosion of the entire deposit. (pv=nrt) Given a large deposit, the pressures would become extraordinary.

It has been suggested that the concrete used to finish the well might have heated up and caused such an explosion. But it seems more likely that the flow of hot oil might have been the trigger.

Given these conditions it can be imagined that the blast enlarged the geological cavern that contained the deposit of methane cathrate and blasted rock into the drill column and fractured and broke the drill pipe. The high pressure gas found its path of least resistance which was the drill pipe and shot up causing the explosion that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig. Not only did the blast push gas up the drill column under great pressure, it also blasted rock and debris down the drill column, which partially clogged it. At the same time it blew debris up the drill column which damaged and obstructed the BOP. As soon as the pressure from the explosion subsided, oil and gas filled the cavern and began making its way up to the sea floor. Now methane from the well flowed through the riser to the Deepwater Horizon rig feeding the fires. As time went on the strong flow of oil and gas moved and displaced the debris that had partially plugged the drill column, pushing it out of the drill column and up into the cavern thus clearing a larger and larger path for the oil to gush to the seafloor. Thus, over time, the flow progressively increased.

While BP might be guilty of misacting after the accident they may not actually be more responsible for the cause of the accident than anyone else drilling the same well might have been. This was very likely an accident waiting to happen and one that nobody anticipated or predicted but one which will repeat if a sufficiently large deposit of methane hydrate is located in the right relative position to a drill column.

If I am reading you right this methane catherate deposit is located say about 1000 ft below the sea floor. They spend several months drilling this well and have at least one string of casing set though it and have circulated who knows how much hot mud though it and it happens to give a problem as soon as they displaced the mud. I am not an expert by any means, but I don't think so.

I have some questions and this does seem to be the place to get sensible answers. My thanks to the people who have kept this forum on a steady course...

I would like to shamelessly beg for some sort of manual on how this forum works. How do I get a list of topics? How do I look for threads? I don't want to put a post into the wrong place and annoy people; I just don't know where to look. Point me, or email me (; many thanks!

First, just a bit of philosophy. So many things with this well have been done on the wrong side of the power curve! And sometimes that's just not recoverable. It might be smart to at least try to think of what can go wrong, ahead of time, instead of trying to think up a solution after it goes wrong.

I believe it would also be smart to at least try to develop some contingency plans for possible future emergencies, because Murphy appears to be in love with this well. So here are some thoughts and questions along the lines of “try-to-think-ahead.” I know some of these answers can be looked up. Some of them aren't textbook. Others of them, I have no idea where to look.

(1) It seems to me that even if erosion concerns are low probability, erosion's potential for creating an uncontrollable blowout (loss of pipe / flow around pipe) type of accident would make determining the extent of present erosion into a very high priority item.

(A) Since there's concern about erosion at the bottom end of the pipe and at least one segment of the well, why isn't this formation being re-mapped right now, quickly, to the best of our ability, and compared with the original mappings?

(B) Why isn't the amount, and the type of sand coming up, being very carefully watched? I would think this is pretty important data. If the type of sand changes, doesn't that give some hints about what formation it's coming from? (Please bear with me here, I don't know the ship end of the oil collection...) Is it too difficult to, in effect, pour some of the oil going into the top ship through a wire mesh, to look at the sand? Or pour some into any kind of smaller container, and scoop some sand out of the bottom?

Just watching "ROV TV" shows that sand is coming up out of the well, in differently colored big wads. This tells us something important: Since sand *is* heavy, and there's not a sand cone building up around the BOP, that sand is going up. Note: I also tried “erosion” on the BP site search and I got zip about this.

(I'm wondering if one of the problems with the 100-ton “first try” was the pipe was too narrow -and- the sand gave the hydrates a place to start? Be pretty interesting on the present setup if it is getting clogged up with sand, also. I've seen many a drain get clogged up with sand even with high water flow.)

( C ) Nature loves to bite engineers with erosion and cavitation. Glen Canyon Dam and the huge dam on the Mississippi (whose name escapes me right off) come to mind. Glen Canyon's overflow tunnels got chewed up by cavitation and needed work to repair them. And after taking a battering, the Mississippi dam engineers lowered a camera to look at the dam's concrete foundations, and they saw... water with fish swimming around... so, if I had to bet money, I would bet the erosion is worse than anyone thinks, and it's going to be a real nasty surprise.

What will happen if the bottom of the pipe is essentially dangling in an oil current, and it decides to bend and cut off its ability to carry oil? (Or if it just bends enough to run into something that clogs it). The momentum of this oil is ferocious! At 40,000 barrels/day, I calculate 26 gallons per second, but that's not a momentum number; I don't know enough data to do it.

( D ) I have a very bad feeling that what's going on is "Look Busy Theater", and the plan if things get worse is to "Blame Someone Else".

This may be a contingency plan it's time to create.

(1) Questions -- Technical Issues with re-mapping the reservoir & pipe

In mapping the reservoir, it will be necessary to put down sensors. I have no idea what a realistic time line is for doing a seismic survey. Anyone want to clue me in? How about if it's urgent?

1a. Are there now noise issues? If the noise produced by the oil coming up drowns out return signals, that answers my question. I don't know on this, hoping someone here will tell me.

1b. Seismic charges to begin? And water doesn't compress, so I think it should give a nice tamping effect. Would it be possible to use more powerful charges to get a return signal over the oil-pipe-roar?

1c. Hmm. Wait a moment, maybe we can turn this around and use the acoustic signal of the oil pipe.. If the ~~3 miles of pipe is giving off an certain acoustic signal, could we use that signal to map the formation? The reason I ask is I'm a computer guy. From what I've seen (I have a relative in the oil biz), much of the analysis of seismic signals is very similar to ray-tracing, often done for very spiffy computer graphics. It's computationally intensive, but it gives a superb picture.

I would like a “superb picture” of the pipe, and the formations around it, a whole lot!

1d) If there isn't a big acoustic signal coming from the pipe, we could make one. Attach a powerful transducer to the pipe, send a sonar-like PING right down the pipe, and see what sensors on the sea floor pick up. (And see if the pipe reflects the sound correctly from its end – this is a great diagnostic tool, and people here know more than I do).

The results would be very interesting, because sound will reflect where the pipe's physically damaged. I've already discussed using a TDR (time domain reflectometer), attach it to the pipe, and see how far the electrical signal goes, to help check pipe status.

Having a signal start at a vertical line source can give a lot more information than a signal starting from a point source. This is not that hard a change in software; I've looked at and tweaked raytracer code a fair number of times.

1e) It seems to me there are also many frequencies to try, and we can look for a frequency “window” that any oil noise is not using

1f) About generating different frequency signals: One way might be submarine gear. Navy sonar gear on subs, which, at least in public info, goes from 10.2 to 40.75 Hz (in interesting steps, too), then 76 Hz, which is probably for mapping ice. The Navy has this gear, if I remember correctly, in the 200,000 watt range; that number comes from where there was a problem with deafening whales off Bermuda. The Navy is used to picking up returns of 0.10 or 0.01 watt after sending out the 200 kW “active sonar” pulses, too.

Before someone says so, I'm not saying to bring in a sub! I'm saying they have this gear because it's needed to build & replace submarine sonar systems. I don't think a sub's sonar would couple to the ground that well, and subs have an operational limit well above 5000 feet down.

1g) Going way up in frequency are ground penetrating radars, very, very roughly, "1-50 Ghz" (there are all sorts of bands of radar .. X, Ku, whatnot). Different frequencies “shine” through different stuff.

And why hasn't anyone used a boring old radar speed gun on the oil going up, to find its speed? Is this just too simple?

1h) Could use X-rays, or gamma rays, depending on where the boundary between them is today (*grin*). Gamma “shine” is very penetrating. Power source must be big.

1i) There's also using neutrons. They're nothing new in oil exploration. However, that's isn't just a frequency change -- lots of things are different. The nice thing about neutrons, in this context, is when they hit a stopper, they frequently emit a gamma ray, which continues on until it's stopped. (Please, I'm just saying things that are in the textbooks, not commenting on nuclear power, okay?)

Okay, that'll keep me busy for quite some time.

In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away at a very not-clever, "KISS" solution...

Many thanks,

David Small

I read all the reports above regarding skimmimg effort so far (includling Shellbourn's estimate.) And NONE are in any way reassuring. The Alabama state senator mentioned seeing two boats towing a funnel type net between them with a collection can on the end.



There was a report on ABC News tonight (Diane Sawyer) with a USCG captain telling a reporter that "Norwegian, ... skimmers will be here in JULY."


The same report showed 3 HUGE oil fires with HUGE plumes of dense black smoke where oil is being burned off. Whay wasn't that oil skimmed first? And please dont try to tell me it was too thin to skim.

Repeat 3 HUGE oil fires with HUGE plumes of dense black smoke.

Just what's going on here? Sophisticated, tested, experienced skimmer equipment adaptible to local ships was offered only days after the spill started (60 days ago, 60 days if 100'000's of gallons of dense crude ecosystem destroying oil a day leaking). Experienced North Sea skimmer ships were on scene weeks(?) ago and apparently still haven't been allowed to go to work.

Is this is a SKIMMERGATE scandal. Someone needs to answer for this.


BP needs to admit that the well is blown!!!!