Deepwater Oil Spill - the BP CEO and Congress - and Open Thread 2

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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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Thanks to aliiaali, wildbourgman, motownmutt, esarlls3 and others who contributed to that thread last night:

I see there are a number of questions on todays thread about how exactly the relief well (RW) will intersect with the wild well (WW) and kill it.

Reading between the lines my understanding is that one option is to drill RW very close to and parallel with WW. To then plug the bottom of RW and use explosive bolts to perforate RW and WW casing hence joining the two in rather controlled way.

Looking at diagram up top, one has to surmise that this operation could be done adjacent to the 9 7/8" casing giving access to the annular flow, or adjacent to the 7" casing giving access to any inner tube flow. Once fluid connectivity between the two wells is established, they start to pump heavy drilling mud into WW that starts to build a hydrostatic head. As the mud begins to fill the well, eventually pressure of the heavy mud column exceeds the reservoir and kills the well - put simply.

So this is still speculation - but hope I picked up the veiled messages correctly. More input welcome.


In fact, looking at block diagram, they can only access annular flow above 17,168' and they are already at 16,000'. Is it an option to access the annular flow at casing point? Where it says "a clear shot to surface"?

To then plug the bottom of RW and use explosive bolts to perforate RW and WW casing hence joining the two in rather controlled way.

i wonder if any perforating of the ww is needed. the uncontrolled flow is most likely outside the 7".

i recently reviewed a well file where, after running a cbl, it was found that there was a 10' gap in the casing.

how the he11 does a 10 foot gap get in the casing ? the possibility has been raised that a casing joint was improperly made-up, came unscrewed at some point and the casing dropped to the bottom of the hole.

this example is far far from the gom and on terra firma.

So that is a possible "yes" to accessing WW flow via arrow, a free shot to surface?

With all due respect to Adm. Allen, his comments today in the briefing were very confusing regarding the relief well kill intersect and kill plan. If anyone has any input to BP, would you please ask a technical person to publish a plan that makes sense.

Adm Allen says decisions will be made on the fly. Who is going to make those decisions, hopefully not the CG.? The plan as I understand it is the the RW will soon make a fly by the blowout well since it is 200 ft laterally from it now, turn down and parallel the blowout well, then “turn the bit down” and intersect the 7 in casing near bottom. Once that intersect is made they will decide if the drill pipe is inside the well at that level, if so the DP will be intersected also.?? Then they will pump mud and it will go up and then down and push the oil back into the reservoir???

There’s a few problems with that scenario, not the least of which is whether the well is flowing on the annulus. They also better have a plan for the case of the well flowing on the annulus AND inside the casing through the float shoe and float joints. I wonder how they are going to get the mud to go up and then down with no valve on top to close.

I didn’t get a real good feeling that the Admiral understands the downhole part of the operation.

I caught that as well.I'm in way-over-my-head with any downhole folks as I'm BOP stack people.

I found Allen confusing also. My guess is that he meant to refer to the 7" liner when he said "drill pipe."

I just finished listening to today's Kent Wells' tele-briefing on the containment configurations planned for the end of June and mid-July. (audio at 6/18 technical briefing, accompanying slides at PDF .)

He touched briefly on the relief wells (around 20 minutes in.) In addition there were several followup questions about them from members of the press.

I heard Wells say:
- that he will be talking in a lot more detail about the RWs and bottom kill later on (recently he's been giving a technical briefing once per week.)
- he reiterated that they are about 200 ft lateral distance from the wild well and will be moving slowly as they move towards it and then drill past it to determine its exact location (and will then move down)
- once at the appropriate depth, they will intersect the annulus first to determine if the flow is going up there, and then the casing
- exchanging a sealing cap for the current LMRP cap will allow them more options during the bottom-kill operation, including pressure testing and possible flow-restriction activity.
- he thought they most likely will use a heavy mud weight of 14.2 (didn't quite catch the units - sounded like 14.2 tons per gallon?)
- if drilling continues as well as it has, he anticipates being ready to begin the bottom kill process in early August. And that process will take as long as it takes.

As far as decision making goes, Wells said, at various times in response to several "what will you do about/when?" questions, "we will make that decision as we get closer and know more."

His answers to a couple of questions sounded as if feels the current flow is closer to 35,000 bpd than it is to 60,000. If he's correct, that will make the replacement of the cap more appealing since, by the end of June, Helix Producer and Q4000 should be collecting 30,000-35,000 bpd which would mean the flow coming out the top of the cap would be minimal. (the HP and A4000 will both be connected to the BOP, thus their operation should not be interrupted by the cap replacement activity.)

I stress that the above is what I heard him say, but since I'm a total neophyte in this whole area, it may not be what he actually said.

I would be more than grateful if somebody would post some drawings of the individual down hole parts of a well,large enough and simplified as necessary, to make it clear exactly what is meant by terms such as float shoes and float joints.Such drawings as I run across are to finely detailed and too small for me to clearly visualize just what is what, and how the parts work together.

This may help:

This site is good for figuring what oilfield terms mean.

Surely there is no drill pipe in the well? They had finished drilling and were completing when blow out occurred. We were told long ago that they had annular flow - but this is still not clear to me. Does oil have a path to annulus from reservoir? Or is the inner liner fractured and leaking oil into annulus?

sounds like there would still be drill pipe in the well. If I remember correctly, they circulate the fluids down into the hole through the drill pipe. I think they were in the process of circulating out heavier drilling mud with sea water when it blew. I've heard speculation that the BOP may have failed to shear because the shears were at a joint in the drill pipes.

It does sound like they think the oil/gas is migrating from the reservoir outside of the inner most production pipe. I'm not clear on that. The diagram you provided is helpful.

Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm mistaken, I've spent far less time on drill sites than many of the folks here, many who are currently in the industry.

(From previous thread, oldfarmermac was complaining about the slothy bureaucracy.)

Mac, I think you're overlooking the last eight years of Cheney and the oilco's stacking the bureaucracy, which was noted at the time, and also the Republican blocking of the filling of empty slots, which clogs the process of filling them, and makes it necessary to consider non-pertinent aspects of the candidates.

These moleocrats can really make a President look bad, and being high level civil servants, are hard to pop loose.

I think Obama knows it, which is part of the reason I think he did the so-called "strong-arm", which WAS an end-run around the bureaucracy. I suspect heads will roll in the MMS.

Oh, I think you can look back farther than eight years, and forward a bit, too. Follow the money, in 2010, it knows not Blue or Red, it is equal opportunity.

delete duplicate

That's right, he immediately jumped into reforming the MMS from day 1 because he's not beholden to the oil companies at all, correct????? Oh, wait... that's right... he's only the LARGEST SINGLE RECIPIENT OF BP CASH IN THE PAST 20 YEARS (

More than "Cheney", "the Republicans" or any of those "moleocrats" that "can really make a President look bad".

But let's just blame everything on any specific group of people we can use to obfuscate the fact we're going on Day 60 of a tragic event about which the NY Times says, "From the beginning, the effort has been bedeviled by a lack of preparation, organization, urgency and clear lines of authority among federal, state and local officials, as well as BP." (

After all, current leadership is blameless, right? Our President is going to conjure up an energy revolution (after updating our power grid & somehow addressing the many details omitted from his Oval Office address), rejuvenate the Gulf (after plugging this well, hopefully in August), secure future energy supplies (after peacefully concluding our current engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq) and, "heads will roll in the MMS" (after approximately 10 public polls show him that's what Carl Henric-Svanberg's "small people" a.k.a. "voters" want done).

Make no mistake. This environmental disaster was a group effort. It took Democrats, Republicans, lax regulatory oversight/enforcement and a disengaged public.

*The government and BP don't need to convince us they're serious about solving the problem. They simply need to solve the problem as quickly and effectively as possible. Time will judge the success (or failure) of their actions.*

Now can we please stop pointing fingers while trying to make ourselves feel better? That's not why I joined TOD and spend hours devouring the knowledge gleaned here.

Thanks. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Now can we please stop pointing fingers while trying to make ourselves feel better? That's not why I joined TOD and spend hours devouring the knowledge gleaned here.

Positive Flow -- Since you are so emphatic about it, I am curious exactly why you joined TOD. By your moniker, I take it that you are an oil professional, or perhaps a hydrologist or in a related field. So it sounds like you appreciate TOD because it gives you lots of free engineering advise that you can "devour". Alternatively, if you are here to solve problems, we do have some big ones that will last beyond the spill problem .. the oil depletion biggie, pushing of alternative energy approaches, problems with CO2, non-sustainable lifestyles, etc. Lots of "finger pointing" involved in these problems, because the fingers are pointed right back at us.


Again, since you are so emphatic.
Obama getting more cash from oil companies than anyone else is perfectly explainable. 1. The presidential campaign attracts more money than any other election. 2. Every presidential campaign raises more cash than the previous; that is the nature of growth. 3. At the end, there are 2 candidates the money can go to, Obama or McCain. Big companies usually split the money fairly evenly. We call that hedging of bets. In this case Obama got more, because they probably sided who they thought would win.

What can we do?

In honor of the 11 Deep Water Horizon oil rig workers killed, and all the countless victims of global Dirty Energy Inc. I purpose a three day Moratorium on private automobile and commercial aviation use in the United States.

In addition, I submit that on those 3 days all public transportation be free and subsidized by the oil industry.

I propose this kicking-the-habit Moratorium shall run from July 2nd through the 4th of July, Independence Day.

Why 3 days? According to BP's Tony Hayward the now blown-out oil well he was drilling in, now spilling into, the Gulf of Mexico contains about 50 million barrels of oil, total. And, according to the Energy Information Administration we, the US, consume almost 20 million barrels of oil every single day. So, in effect all the death and destruction we now see in the Gulf is over a well that - even though it's a hell of a gusher - would not have even provided enough total oil to fuel America's ravenous appetite for 3 lossy days.

I suggest additional days of sacrifice, although, for now that's best left up to individuals and their own private conscience.

I favor a twenty year moratorium on all U.S. drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. In twenty years we're really going to need that oil; for now we can import more than we are now importing because of excess capacity in OPEC. No, I do not know how the size of that excess capacity, and probably nobody outside Saudi Arabia knows. Official estimates are 6 mb/day excess capacity; Darwinian says 1 mb/day excess capacity. I split the difference and guess that it is truly around 3 mb/day and agree with Skrebowski that Peak Oil will probably happen in 2014. I noticed too that editor emeritus of TOD, Stuart Staniford, does not see much evidence of an imminent Peak.

Of course the Louisiana economy would be devastated and a lot of roustabouts and oil men would have to seek jobs in foreign countries; those are just prices that have to be paid for keeping Gulf oil in the ground until it is much more valuable than it is now.

My comments regarding the timing of the global crude oil production peak:

Regarding net oil exports:

I think that the US is well on its way to becoming largely free of our dependence on foreign sources of oil--just not in the way that most people were expecting. My outlook for the US is that we are going to be forced to make do with a declining share of a falling volume of global net oil exports.

US net oil imports fell at 4.5%/year from 2005 to 2008, which--at this decline rate--suggests an annual net import rate of about 10 mbpd in 2010, versus 12.5 mbpd in 2005.

In contrast, Chindia's net oil imports increased at 9%/year from 2005 to 2008, which suggests an annual net import rate of about 7.2 mbpd in 2010, versus 4.6 mbpd in 2005.

If we extrapolate the two trends, Chindia's combined net oil imports would exceed US net oil imports some time around 2013.

WT Thanks for always keeping these trends on the table. I had the same thought as another here about the US and Nigeria.

When ELM 2.0 really gets rolling what is to keep GOM oil, Bakken shale oil, Alberta tar sands or any other known primary energy source in the ground, and hence out of China's grasp. We see it already with great quantities of the world's coal, steel, and copper. Who has the gold makes the rules.

Not only will US citizens have trouble outbidding more efficient Chindians, but I suspect we will willingly take the jobs necessary to put said energy resources on the market in order to create sufficient revenue to fund our own halting transition away from FF on the back of a broken economy.

It's powerdown or scramble and I seriously doubt there is much good future in scramble though it hasn't kept us from trying so far. I do hope this tragedy gives us serious pause to consider the true cost of our grand misallocation of liquid FF's, for those on the rig, for those in the Mid-east, and for the health of the country and it's people as a whole.

I think it is fair to say that since 2005 oil production has been on a plateau. We're not going to stay on that plateau much longer: Either you are right about Peak Oil or Stuart Staniford and Skrebowski are right.

Due to my not being a petroleum geologist, I base my guesses on what I've read on TOD and also on other sources such as newspapers. My guess is that we come off the oil plateau within two years, and that there will be a slight but significant increase in global oil production until 2014 or thereabouts.

I hope that you are not right, but I'm not competent to judge one way or another.

Of course the Louisiana economy would be devastated and a lot of roustabouts and oil men would have to seek jobs in foreign countries; those are just prices that have to be paid for keeping Gulf oil in the ground until it is much more valuable than it is now.

Sure, it is easy to propose a way of taking away other people job. May be their family would suffer. Who care if they can pay their bill. Who care if people who is not in the oil industry are affected by all the layoff also. Hay, it is their life that you ruin by your idea, not yours. Yes, sir, someone else should sacrafice for the greater good. Just make sure that it is not you..

I'll repeat somthing posted on TOD when Obama first imposed his Gulf Drilling Moratorium. The poster said that it would be better to enforce a moratorium on new cars than on new oil. I agree. Give people something real to think about, however twisted.

During WWII in the States there was gasoline rationing even though there was never a shortage of it. The real shortage was RUBBER but rationing of tires alone would not have had the desired impact as tires are a product that takes longer to 'use up.'

Unlike the cars of the fifties which consumed most of their energy through their gas tank, today's cars have more and more 'embedded energy.' My understanding is that it may take many years of tank filling to get back the embedded energy in today's new cars -- which, if true certainly puts the lie to the whole 'cash for clunkers' mentality.

Don't cut off the snake's tail, cut off it's head. A moratorium on new cars makes far more sense than draconian measures to cut off their fuel.

My maternal grandfather had a neighborhood grocery in upstate Wisconsin, which fed his family during the Great Depression, but when wartime rationing came along he made a substantial fortune trading gas coupons.

Taxing new cars or old cars out of existence sounds fine until you consider all the "priority need" exemptions for state and local government, utilities, contractors, community organizers and favored (green?) employers. Sounds like a formula to kill off construction, retail, farming, self-employment, music and tourism.

Why not let supply and demand determine fuel and vehicle prices?

I have a personal moratorium on new cars: My 1993 Audi station wagon has 237,000 miles on it; I bought it seven or eight years ago for only $4000 cash. That car sold new for $46,000! It runs well, has too much power and not enough fuel economy, and repair bills have been reasonable--mostly things like new brake pads and calipers.

Back around 1957 my uncle Jack told me: "Gasoline is the cheapest thing you put into your car." He was right then and he is still right for current conditions.

I plan to keep my car for at least two more years and get it to a quarter of a million miles. Then I'll probably give it to one of my granddaughters.

I had a 1981 Honda Civic that had 377,000 miles on it when I gave it to a charity in 1998. It was seen driving on the street a couple of weeks later, and I wonder if it's still rolling. I had very few repairs made -- one gear went out, but I didn't need it anyway (the other 4 plus reverse stayed OK). I replaced the muffler a few times (under warranty) and had a clutch job, new tires, normal service intervals, etc. It got over 30 mpg street+highway. I haven't had any car of my own since 1998 and have done just fine. Luckily, I live in a city that has public transportation available. I try to "shop along the route" that the buses/trains take me, and have found that's the most efficient use of my time. I try to use my time waiting for the next bus/train productively, either by reading, walking a few blocks in the direction I'm going, or talking to others waiting. PT riders are amazingly interesting people.

In an ideal unlimited world that would work for sure. Not here though.

Simple thinking. Since automotive industry exists, new jobs became available in a never-seen-before rate. Jobs were occupied, and families were based on those jobs, and that happens day by day since (at least) the 50's all over the world.

When that industry collapses - let the cause be a moratorium on new cars, or our technological inability to replace the energy source when peak oil hits in (matter of few years imo) - what do you think those people will do? Just the same that the fishers and shrimpers now in the gulf, they'll pray for some divine intervention or what, that will never come.

The difference is that for the fishermen, now BP (may) pay a part of their losses, so they probably won't starve to death, if they're lucky to get the help in time. When the real sh*t kicks in with oil prices rising, there will be no one to blame, and there will be no opportunity for these people to earn money for they living.

Think further about the industrialized agriculture, industrialized everything that all runs on oil unfortunately. Neither I like that vision, neither our leaders, worldwide. These men, are scared to take steps Before the sh*t kicks in. Because until then it is unreasonable, people simply won't take it, like you won't take that bitter pill that from tomorrow instead of sitting behind your computer or doing a monotone conveyor-belt job or whatever you used to, you have to carry a spade and a hoe, to cultivate plants if you don't want to starve.

And if only you (the USA) would make that step, the remaining 95% of the world surely would not, it would break your great country in pieces in a really short period of time.. And since, no nation is able to do anything. We trapped ourselves, there is little if no chance to get out of it. Worldwide agreements aimed that way, compromising the now greater-than-any-nation "big money" corporations seem unlikely to me.

I agree with you, that would be the first hard step on our rough road paved with pain, guided by our slow awakening, leading to the only possible destination where our civilization as we know it today may survive.

But.. f*ck that, let's burn the oil, yeah. Waste the energy, produce useless crap that people buy, to make sure, advertise it by any means, make money and enjoy our crippled lives. We hope that we pass away before the crap we made comes down on us. This is the current main stream of thought.

The unfortunate ones born nowdays are seriously f*ked up..

I bet that if you offered these hands some retraining and jobs in solar you would be surprised how many would take the offer. This has been a personal battle of mine for almost 30 years now. The similarities between the fluid dynamics of a drilling rig and a solar thermal system are very similar and most hands would grasp the concept easily. In regard to PV - a flight into the gulf reveals the true commercial birthplace of this technology- as Navaid power and cathodic protection systems for offshore platforms.

Sounds like your ten years late to the party! The Chinese and Germans own the PV industry from Poly to the roof. That was while you were a sleep. Look at who makes the waffers and packaged units not who sells it!
Wind turbines the Germans own that industry! All this happened while we slept. Without an industrial ploicy as other nations have we rolled with managing monies, mortgages and government debt ha! We will manage the worlds money, hows that working for us ha!

landrew: And the great majority of solar panels are now manufactured in Germany and China by American owned/managed companies. Why? Germany and China are encouraging the location of solar panel manufacturing operations in their countries. Do they know something we don't?

Very nice idea greenie. Got my vote.

He's got my vote, too!

Perhaps also implement a tax on every barrel refined during those three days to establish a college engineering/safety/innovation scholarship fund for students who agree to go work at MMS or on deepwater rigs after graduating?

Their work (and the knowledge earned through those scholarships) then helps save future lives of rig workers.

Rockman Inspectors, Inc. guest lecture as part of the curriculum (only half-jesting there).

Going back to the VietNam protests, we see evidence of people offering up days of sacrifice, without actually doing long term thinking or action. Few talked about Royal Dutch Shell desires to maintain oilflow through the Strait of Malacca in the 1960's , and few talk about re-orienting transport imperatives now. Rather, the idea is, occasional days off from car use eases the conscience enough so that, we get back to motor mania ASAP after the fasting.

It was a strange and isolated position in the middle sixties to suggest massive demolition of US rail branch lines was shortsighted, and would bring us to irremedial over dependence on imported oil. We are here, the world stinks of spilled oil- -and no extra trains to cover trucking paralysis. True, we have super-efficient rail main trunks, working at near capacity, after years of trimming every possible redundant siding & spur and signal tower and yard trackage. So, we have something to build on and it ain't gold or guns.

In the Gulf the showdown; The national reckoning comes about because a few mid-level company oilmen wanted a bonus at the end of the year. Instead, they face manslaughter charges. This writer contacted BP when they announced the name change circa 911DAY, and suggested appropriate inclusion of Big Oil participation in the rehab of American branch line rail facilities. There is justice in the world, and it ain't pretty. And no joy at all, being in this together with deniers, to ride out the bootstrap necessity to rebuild alternative transport infrastructure with a broken financial system and lacking cheap fuel to accomplish the heavy lifting ahead.

But one thing railwaymen understand, is the concept of "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform". The rail capacity expansion & extension job will be accomplished even as the doomers are retreating. Armchair observers and other denizens of the peanut gallery can pick up a copy of "ELECTRIC WATER", or see web page "Suntrain Transportation Corporation" and decide to join in. Or wait until the heat and air conditioning is broken, and the trucks aren't bringing the chips. Churchill's words will be repeated, and the people to whom much is owed shall be doing Parallel Bar Therapy.

tahoevalleylines on June 18, 2010 - 8:33pm

"Going back to the VietNam protests, we see evidence of people offering up days of sacrifice, without actually doing long term thinking or action..." snip "...Rather, the idea is, occasional days off from car use eases the conscience enough so that, we get back to motor mania ASAP after the fasting."

I'm not sure what you mean? Many people made lots of sacrifices protesting Vietnam, a few even made the ultimate one, most notably Kent State. Things like that shaped a generation and even made "Peace" somewhat fashionable. Alas, we were unable to hold it for very long.

I think your second point raises a moral imperative and each of us will, for now, have to deal with that according to one's own moral compass.

greenfloyd, I love this idea. Let's do it!

Hi Songster,
Thank you, I'm sending the idea out to my contacts, local congressman and senators. I hope you and everyone else will do likewise...

Nice that your rich enough to do that. What do the rest of us do with out pay or jobs that are lost?

It's big ...

James Duncan Davidson


To answer EL’s question regarding what Anadarko (25% owner of this nightmare) could do to hurt BP: this was a joint venture project where BP was operator (managing partner). Anadarko may have a long paper trail criticizing many of BP’s choices such as csg design, cmt program, etc. IOW aspects that other are pointing to today. The operator usually gets to call all the shots. But every minority owner will document such disputes so they can at least throw it back into the operators face. Done just that many times myself. Anadarko might have even had their personnel on board for short periods and documented unsafe activities. I’ve also played that “got you -f*ck you” game more than once myself. And given that Anadarko will certainly sue BP for billions eventually you can bet they’ve been putting that documentation together the day after the blow out.

BP Relied on Cheaper Wells
WSJ Analysis Shows Oil Giant Used 'Risky' Design More Often Than Most Peers

The insight into BP's record comes amid fierce pressure on the oil giant and its partners, who share billions in liability in the accident. Anadarko blasted BP Friday in a statement by Chief Executive Jim Hackett, who said: "The mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions."

A long-string design is cheaper because a single pipe runs the length of the well and can be installed in one step. But it also can create a dangerous pathway for natural gas to rise unchecked outside the pipe. The alternative, known as liners, is seen as safer because it has more built-in places to prevent oil or gas from flowing up the well uncontrolled. "There are more barriers, and the barriers are easier to test," says Gene Beck, an engineer and professor at Texas A&M University. . . .

Marvin Odum, president of Shell's U.S. operations, said Shell doesn't use a long string for high-risk wells. Shell said many of the times it used long strings in deepwater wells, either it hadn't encountered high pressures in the well, or the well was in an area where Shell had drilled and was comfortable with the conditions. "When it is a high-pressure, deepwater well, we only have one way of doing that way, and that is with a liner tieback. Period," he says.

Maybe Shell was more cautious, maybe not. We will see. I didn't expect him to say "yeah, we do all that risky stuff, too". When the Shell engineers start spilling the beans, the President of Shell can just say, like Tony, " I had no idea that was happening"

Reality: We have a petroleum based economy, when oil prices rise, people lose elections. Lack of oversight of MMS was political expediency. Frankly, Corn based ethanol production requirements have caused more world-side starvation than this spill will ever cause. "Peak Oil" is only a a factor of risk and cost, we will not run out of oil, just the risk and cost factors change if you want more of it. We want more of it.

Rockman: Thank you for the stuff the Devil lives in. Piranhas are circling the sick guppy. Obama took the first bite. The Feds usually has first priority with their claims in any dissolution or reorganization of the corporation and now have that without having destroyed the corporation. But neither I nor anyone else have the slightest idea how all this will play out. The Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences is running wild. One lesson if you're in the oil business: Don't screw up.

To change the subject somewhat. Napoleon said: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence." I got the disturbing impression that you are having trouble explaining the "mud event" with incompetence. Just an impression. "[T]he csg had to completely unload and no one noticed it happening?" — Rockman

Having nothing, whatsoever, to do with the industry I cannot look at the graphs of more coming out than going in without wondering why nobody took notice. Maybe some difference is normal but I cannot understand why more effort was taken to confirm that all was within bounds. Rockman's comments are making me wonder if the celebratory party was distracting the people that were needed and taking them away from their work. I may be wrong and it is all coincidence and Napoleon's rule applies but I do wonder.


EL -- Not so much as incompetance in not knowing how to check for flow or even understanding how important it is. All the parties understood both aspects very well. But they didn't take care of business. The best answer I can guess is that the hand responsible for tracking returns didn't think is was necessary because he was told the had a "good cmt test". The rig was shuting down and he had 6 other matters to attend to. Correct? Don't know. But I've seen that dynamic in play many times.

The best explanation may come from Googling "Darwin Awards". If you understand why those fatal accident happened then you might understand the blow out.

Yes. Looks like the prosecutors have a new best friend.

Anadarko, which owns 25% of the Macondo well where the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling, signed a contract saying that it would pay a quarter of the costs associated with the well, unless BP is found guilty of gross negligence.

Edit malformed tag.

Or the Feds forgot about Anadarko for a moment, and now they are targeted as the next contributor to the big oil spill slush fund. "Ok, simply write us the check, and then you can sue and get it back from BP, no problem!"

If Anadarko can corroborate its claims of negligence and misconduct, neither the Feds, nor the states' attorneys general, nor any number of other potential plaintiffs are going to forget about it for a moment. Everyone is going to be extremely eager to make arrangements with the (relatively) small fry to increase the chances of catching the big fish. This is what prosecutors do, every day. And US Attorneys are absolute experts at making offers that can't be refused.

Kal: "offers that can't be".... And I suspect that Obama had a chat with the AG, the head US attorney, who then had a chat with some BP officials, before Obama sat down with Hayward and posse and "negotiated" the $20 billion compensation fund. The joys of being a landlord. "We want a big pile of money, but we'll let you live if you play nice." What would have happened if Obama had announced after the meeting that he had ordered the appropriate agencies to "review" BP's current leases in the Gulf? "Politics ain't beanbag." — Finley Peter Dunne

Rockman: I appreciate what you have done here on TOD and the load that you have carried here. My time to participate here is extremely limited (I am doing 24 hour geosteering duty in ND).

The single most important variable that I see that was missed was the flow check. I haven't worked offshore by choice for many years and back in my day checking for flow meant a visual check at the bell nipple. My understanding is that now the procedure is to circulate on the trip tank and use a sensor to measure gain. There is mention of this in the Transocean investigation material on the House website.

Old school would have been to get a visual on the flow. I would not trust any sensor for this info. The amount of flow for the cased hole cement may have been smaller than a pencil diameter - maybe smaller than a match.

FE -- One big problem with using the flow meter talley is that when the mud is being shipped from one tank to another you have to reset the counter. Sometimes the meters have alarms but if you don't re-zero you get false alarms. A common solution: turn the alarms off.

Don't even ask. You've been on know why they get rid of those "false alarms".

Good to see that your still up. My understanding is that they were using an indirect measurement method. I don't know the specifics but apparently a laser/infrared distance measuring sensor fixed above the trip tank. Of course any sensor could be subject to false alarm which is why if I was making sure the well is static- I wouldn't depend on one.

I'm not referring to the transfer of mud as they displaced - that was an obvious F.U. That should have been caught by any number of people including their RTOC people in Houston (probably sleeping). A friend of mine who had been on the Horizon thinks that the loggers were probably browbeat in that regard.

I'm talking about the positive pressure test and declaration that the well was "static"


That works well on a fixed rig. On a floater with the heave of the swell the level can be all over the place, so the SOP is to use the trip tank for a flow check. The only problem is they do no seem to have gone over to the trip tank for a flow check in the final two hours. All they did was to empty it to the pits which confused them about pit gains.

One point that has not had much discussion. When they closed the BOP to monitor the well in the last few mins they closed the 5000psi spripping annular which must of had a fair bit of wear as it had been used to stip in the hole on a previous kick with minimal closing pressure, instead of closing a 15000psi pipe ram and landing out as normal practise on a DP vessel. In 20/20 hindsight this would have the save the blow out at the BOP. whether is would have caused a sub sea crater, we will never know.

Thanks Toolpush. It's been over 25 years since I have been on a floater and we were "only" in 1500 feet of water at that time. Back then we only had the Delaval pit sensors which could not be trusted for such precision. Thanks for the answer on SOP. They thought they had her. I had some RIG information that did not detail the method for flowchecks.

Im aware of the Annular Preventer issue. Apparently the loggers or the shakerhand reported the chunked rubber. Bad Bad.

The expected flow would be very minute- at least at the start. By the time you are in the situation the Horizon was in- the flow is obvious- if it is checked. I am curious as to how much flow at the very start of the cement/casing failure.

I went to the Perdido Pass bridge today at Alabama Point. I took the walkway up the bridge and it was unnerving. It was raining and traffic was intense. I videoed the ascent and descent, as well as taking pictures of the pass. They are driving pilings and fencing (?) as a petroleum barrier. I know it looks like I am not very high but I assure you I was a couple of hundred feet in the air. This was a navigable waterway and the locals overrode the Coast Guard and bullied them in to approving it. We basically said they were going to have to send an armed cutter to stop us.

From today's photobucket -

If you need one more link in a human chain, I'll be there. Stay strong.

Beautiful area, to the west was the Perdido Beach Resort, formerly a Hilton. To the east a few clicks is the legendary Flora-Bama watering hole, sitting atop the Al-FL state line. You have to go to another state just to go to the bathroom.

Very sad, but protecting that bay must require some extreme measures. Seems that many wealthy Alabama natives live on the Florida side of that bay, since Florida has no state income tax. They are making sure their interests, homes on that bay, are protected.

If anyone finds the current actual deviation plan of either/both relief wells, could they post the link here?

Secondly, it sounds like BP is contemplating attempting an intersect of the blowout well before securing the blowout well's BOP top with a better cap? This cannot be accurate.

Apparently at the present time they are using the magnetometers to determine the well plan using field strength to calculate proximity to the existing casing. If they are successful with the kill the existing BOP can be removed and replaced with a wellhead or cap because there will be no flow at the mudline.

My guess is that deflection toward the existing well has the possibility for a "bounce" or collision without penetration depending on the angle of attack.

I posted this but the thread got closed before there were any replies.

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. While not to be discounted, it seems a pretty crude way to collect oil. At least relative to equiment available (and waiting).



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."

JULY? July! Are you kidding me?

The same ABC 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 don't 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. Some MSM news segment producer needs to pick up on this as another angle into te story.

JULY? Really?

I think I've read this comment at least 3 times on various threads. It's not getting any traction. SkimmerGate? Where do you want this story to go? To Obama?

Maybe they're burning the oil off instead of collecting it because Obama thinks doing it that way is more fun.

If I'm not mistaken, the report you cite, above, the State Senator reported seeing lots of skimmers. Someone also mentioned that they witnessed skimming arms that had been flown in from the Netherlands (or Norway) being fitted onto a US tanker (or other collection ship).

Maybe the reason the "MSM" isn't following the story is because there isn't a story to follow.

There is no scandal. There is no nefarious plan to maximize the damage from the gusher. There is no misuse of power by our "Unitary Executive." (thank you, GWB and Dick "Secret Meeting with the Oil Industry" Cheney). OTOH, there's probably plenty of confusion, and lots of reasons ships don't just sail, willy-nilly, into the disaster zones of foreign countries.

Sling mud. See what sticks.

TOD has its forms of pollution.

I think, Petey, maybe you oughtta read what "Roger" has posted several times regarding the skimmers. They HAVE been available since days after the spill started. AND could have been here literally in a matter of hours.

If I'm not mistaken, the report you cite, above, the State Senator reported seeing lots of skimmers.

I think you are mistaken.

Someone also mentioned that they witnessed skimming arms that had been flown in from the Netherlands (or Norway) being fitted onto a US tanker (or other collection ship).

No you are mistaken. What was said was it was possible to do that. But it hasn't been done yet. Or at least I've seen no evidence of it (other than "somebody said"). I did see ONE picture of a skimmer with arms on it. ONE skimmer. On a pretty small boat at that.

Maybe the reason the "MSM" isn't following the story is because there isn't a story to follow.

You may not think that THREE experienced North Sea skimming ships on site in the Gulf for days much less weeks, each capable of removing 100,000's of gallons a day, but not allowed to go to work is not news but I sure think it is.

There is no scandal.

Really? Maybe millions of gallons going up on beaches and into marshlands that could have been scooped up long before they reached shore. 10s, 100's of thousands gallons more being burned generating lord only knows how much more air pollution that could have been skimmed up. If that doesn't qualify as a scandal ....

There is no nefarious plan to maximize the damage from the gusher.

No one said anything about a "plan" but there are reasons why the skimmers are not on line yet. I'd like to know what they are, and who is responsible. My bet is on BP. Skimmers provide an accurate account of oil spilled. Oil slicks don't.

The Jones Act is being blamed but Admiral Allen said just today he knows of "no applications for exemptions to the Jones Act". If that's true, then what's holding up the skimmers? Is the Admiral lying? Is he being disingenuous? I don't think either one, at least I hope not. But something is not smelling right here.

Why burn the oil if it can be skimmed?


Oh, and you are at least right on one thing Petey. This theme has been posted at least 3 times. And I will keep beating this drum until I see evidence ALL efforts at skimmming the oil are at work. And I really hope (and we all should) it won't take until "July" (as the CG captain says) or August.

Skimming is the only reasonably effective method of oil spill recovery and ANY delays to get maximum effort working is a scandal, and worse.

Just guessing but the lack of response might have something to do with the fact that these things have been posted:

- The six Dutch skimmers are at work
- over 6000 vessels are involved in the effort
-Thad Allen announced that 2000 more vessels were being deployed for near-shore efforts
-He also announced that they were acquiring skimmers from a variety of countries and manufacturing new ones
-Just today a letter was posted from a Rep who reported seeing lots of skimmers at work when he flew over

Apparently they're here now. Here's a 3 minute video of C-Span touring one of them.

I believe I already posted this link:

Bottom line, even the CNN video posted shows an AMERICAN ship, which has been fitted with Dutch skimmers. They've cobbled together a hokey arrangement so they can collect a whopping 6000 bbls, before having the operation shut down so they can return to shore and offload. This versus the way the Saudis did it after the first Gulf War when MILLIONS of barrels were polluting their gulf. They weren't stupid, they didn't follow the Jones Act, they didn't worry about whether crews were Saudi nationals, and specifically they didn't worry about whether they were dues paying union workers who happen to contribute heavily to a certain political party. Nope, the Saudis contracted with every tanker they could find, they didn't worry (like the EPA did until they were publicly embarrassed) about releasing oil "contaminated" water back into the gulf, they were removing over 90% of it, but they way the EPA operates, once you take oil out of the water, you can't put it back at ALL! That stupidity at least has been removed for now, we're still up against the Jones Act and American (union) workers manning the wrong kind of boats to inefficiently deal with the spill.

Imagine if you will, supertankers outfitted with skimmers hoovering up the GOM. They'd not only suck up the vast majority of the oil without ever having to offload, they'd also turn a tidy profit when they sold it off (as the Saudis did). Alas, this is not going to occur here.

I will be attacked mercilessly for posting this, but I calls em likes I sees em, and no, I'm not a crooked NBA ref such as we got to see in this most recent playoff.

Skimmers aren't going to get all this oil; I suspect BP is burning oil near the well because there are already too many ships in the region, and having skimming ships there too would just create more hazards for everyone. Skimmers are being used between the shore and the well; the size of the spill means they aren't going to get all of it no matter what they do though.

Direct your outrage somewhere else; I think it's misplaced on this issue.

Those Koseq skimmer booms look a little Mickey Mouse to me. I don't think the Dutch skimmer boats are a game-changer. They are a help, though.

My impression is that the skimmer effort is disorganised and ad-hoc. Is there any grand plan controlling the deployment of skimmer resources?

Flare's imaged. To the Thunderdrome...

Check out the reflection on the water.

From the Examiner

Is this stuff usable as ship fuel? I sure burning it in a engine is much better than the Super Bic ship. Can diesel boats burn this stuff and not gum up the works? Gets rid of more oil AFAIC.

Are you forgetting the gas content and lack of separation plant available?


According to one of the briefings, the oil and NG are currently being separated on the Q4000 before flaring so that air can be mixed with the oil for a cleaner burn.

Allen mentioned (this morning?) that they are exploring whether or not the oil going to the Q4000 can eventually be collected and transported to shore rather than burned. The reason given for burning it initially was a concern over bringing more ships into an already crowded area. To collect the Q4000 oil will take two additional tankers - one to store the oil and one to shuttle it to shore - since there is little storage capacity aboard the Q4000.

I respect the men working in this environment. It is a very risky situation with the proximity and volumes involved, not to mention a sea surface covered with volatile hydrocarbons. A broken line, ignition failure, or a dozen other possible failures, and you can have a catastrophic situation in a matter of minutes.

I have a son in Afghanistan, and he is safer there than working on any of these ships. This is a extremely hazardous environment.

A short biography of Anthony Bryan Hayward.

What was Tony Hayward's Geology PhD thesis topic? "Tertiary ophiolite-related sedimentation in S.W. Turkey", 1982, University of Edinburgh

What does Tony Hayward think of Peak Oil?

Many leaders of the industry still dismiss the idea that there is reason to worry. "I am no subscriber to the theory that oil supplies have already peaked," said BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, earlier this month in a speech in Houston. (2007)

Hayward is done. So what have you heard about Dudley Do-right? Thanks.

Bill Deagle says that BP has tapped into a reserve of ABIOTIC OIL.

Is abiotic oil beyond Bigfoot stage?

Not saying that I believe in it, just wondering if this is another quacky conspiracy theorist.

Who's Bill Deagle? And I shouldn't be surprised, but, there's a radio show even dumber than Alex Jones? Damn!

"Is abiotic oil beyond Bigfoot stage?" - Nicely put.
Here is my take on Abiotic oil claims: The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Thinking oil will stay where it was formed, is not very bright, when you think it through. Given the temperatures, pressures and geology, and long time lines, it will move about.
Some of the GOM images, show mobile venting.

So that movement (and filtering) will give some the illusion of Abiotic oil.

Abiotic oil, as an idea, only really matters if we are using it less rapidly than it is 'created'. I don't think anyone can claim that.

Space aliens shot a giant death ray from Mars at the well, using laser targeting provided by a North Korean sub to hit the well and cause this spill.

The invasion starts on 4th of July (didn't you see the movie?).

Yes. I *think* oil is a biogenic substance.

Even if oil was abiotic I fail to see its relevance to peak oil, destruction of earth from gulf spill, or anything else for that matter. Either way oil generation must happen very slowly, we can't expect a magical refill of abiotic oil in our life times.

Oil is a bridge to the next energy source much like whale oil and wood were a bridge to petroleum. It is unlikely that mankind could have skipped the petroleum source and moved directly from whale oil to solar voltaic power. Critisize as you wish, but I would bet you have a petroleum driven vehicle, still use plastics in your life, and that your solar panels and wind power meet less than 100% of your power needs.

Some of the adherents of the theory don't believe that it is a slow process. Some of them believe that "continuous replenishment" is responsible for, e.g., the short-lived "miracle" at Eugene Island.

Note the key phrase: "short-lived"

Dear Checkerboard Strangler,
That's the most dire prediction I've heard yet. It makes some sense in that we know it's hot down there and I assume that comes from somewhere beneath the reservoir itself. However, the lack of identified "sources" hurts its credibility. Although I will really start to get scared when I see the FEMA troops show up.

Overburden creates pressure. No magma in this trend. None.

Dear avonaltendorf,
So the heat in the reservoir and around it is caused by pressure?

This guy Bill Deagle is talking about *burps* of Hydrogen Sulphide escaping to the surface. I learned about H2S when I worked on an onshore oilfield for a few months, and I have to admit it was the hazard that most scared me (I'd regularly walk around my work area checking the detectors were still in place and functional). It kills your ability to smell it, etc., and is as toxic as hydrogen cyanide.
I've no idea about the plausibility of this claim that H2S could be released into the atmosphere of the GOM. Is there any truth in it? My apologies if this has been covered somewhere else - like an earlier poster, I haven't been here too long and haven't yet got to grip with the search facilities. Will try harder next time.

Bedtime thought:

"A man wants nothing so badly as a gooseberry farm." — Chekhov

You just made all the lurking lit-geeks very happy.

Yes, both of them.

Edit: apparently more than two literary types are here. Three emails from the friends that are literary types chastising me are suggesting that many of those kind are summering on the gulf coast and ARE reading the, late at night no less.

So, my apologies (and I will make the suggested grammatical changes to my previous posts). Semper fidelis to JD and DanP, too.

perks: Angry lit-geeks have read up on pitch forks and can light torches too. I, moi, apparently a lit-geek, on TOD was called "you and all your fellow venom-filled, envy-eaten haters circling this accident like human vultures." Beware of the angry lit-geek. I'll eat your spleen too.

How many of the 70 or so Mobile Offshore Drilling Units operating in the Gulf of Mexico have contingency plans in place to control an uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons/crude oil, which would immediately come in to action, should a catastrophic failure of the BOP occur during a well control situation?

They all have plans. As did BP. MMS requires them (and must approve them).

If you search Google and recent threads here, you will learn that BP forgot to remove references to the potential effects of a major spill on walruses, when they cut and pasted from response plans prepared for Alaska to planning for the Gulf.

They also listed a guy named Bob Lutz, from the University of Miami, as a liaison they would bring in for his sea turtle expertise in the event of a major spill. Lutz had actually moved on from Miami to Boca some 20 years earlier, and had died four years before the BP plan was approved.

Google "regional spill plan," "spill response plan," etc.

I'll let the oilpatch guys opine as to whether it's likely that other operators have better plans.

I think it's pretty clear, to everyone who already knew or has been paying attention recently, that the only available approach likely to actually *stop* an uncontrolled release, in the event of a BOP failure (if you only have one BOP), is a relief well.

In Part One of this thread, retiredL wrote:

“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.”

I do not dispute this statement, but if it is correct then this strategy could have run alongside another one. Let us not forget JQuests’ discovery of the 1” orifice in Top Hat. Did BP put it there to prevent Top Hat from working, while still allowing the appearance that they were doing something?

If they didn’t want Top Hat to work, perhaps it was because they didn’t want all of that oil showing up on the surface when they didn’t have a way to handle it. A monster blowout, there for everybody to see. Maybe some BP executives would have been thrown in jail by now, after a spectacle like that. It is not out of the question that BP wants to keep as much of that oil as possible under the surface until the blowout can be stopped, even though it increases the damage to the GOM. Oil on the surface is easier to deal with than oil under it.

Unless someone can offer a plausible reason that a 1” orifice leading to a 6” riser improves the chance of capturing the oil and gas, it appears that BP sabotaged an effective system and used it instead for a PR stunt, and perhaps as retiredL suggests, a legal strategy. It would allow them to avoid spending what was necessary to capture all of the oil while they drilled the relief wells. Just keep most of the oil from surfacing, to avoid further public outrage. Dispersants help. They can also claim that they have not abandoned the well.

If either or both of these possibilities are true, the long term effects of keeping the oil below the surface are of no concern to BP.

So far the only attention Jquests’ posts have received is ridicule, excepting my responses. For example:

I have no doubt that many of those who use this site are experts in the O&G industry. I cannot comprehend why they either ignore or ridicule what Jquest is saying. If it deserves ridicule, then it also deserves a technical explanation of why it is wrong. Are all you experts afraid of it?

"Unless someone can offer a plausible reason that a 1” orifice leading to a 6” riser..."

First, someone needs to offer convincing evidence that the image presented actually depicted a 1" orifice leading to a 6" riser. I have not seen that evidence.

As any semi-serious photographer will tell you, lenses and cameras do not see the world the way human eyes do. If you can tell us the details of the equipment used (lens make and model, effective focal length, aperture, film or digital sensor size, etc.) and some (accurate) basic physical properties of the elements of the composition (overall dimensions of the under-construction device, relative positions of the camera, the human arm and hand, the rim of the cap, the orifice... I'm sure there's enough knowledge and research ability around here to do a reasonable calculation.

Then, we need convincing evidence that the device in the photograph is actually the one attached to the top of the original collector (or a duplicate thereof). I think there is some question about that.

The experts here certainly have some biases, as do we all. They also, by and large, have real integrity and a kind of gut-level need to dig for the truth that tends to go hand-in-hand with the study and practice of scientific and engineering disciplines. That's the approach it takes to formulate and prove hypotheses and to engineer solutions that actually work.

If you give 'em real evidence, they'll consider it fairly. Promise.

But the burden, at least initially, is on you and JQuest, and on others proposing such extreme ideas. As Sagan (and LaPlace) liked to say, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

kalliergo, I agree with all but the first part. Can a lens, a camera, the angle of view, or some combination of these, distort the orifice and leave everything else alone? How would they create this effect when focused on the orifice but turn it off if the orifice is not in sight? Why would a news organization do it?

But if this must be settled before we can proceed, it is a good way to put an end to the discussion. Calling the idea extreme gives it a good shove in that direction. The blowout is extreme, but it is a fact.

If someone can show that a 1" orifice improves the design, case closed and I will apologize for my statements. There is no reason that we must prove anything else first. If no one can offer a valid reason for the presence of an orifice, then it is time for the harder job of determining whether it exists. Top Hat is 5000 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico, and there are no news organizations shooting any more videos of it. And BP has a lot of sophisticated ROVs. If you know what I mean.

I don't believe you're able to see what size hole is leading to the riser. The strut assembly that has the 1" "hole" at the top appears to me to be just some type of reinforcement structure and is hiding the inlet to the riser. I believe that there is a gap between the struts and top of the structure and the inlet to the riser is behind this strut structure. For evidence of this, you do not see any weld bead on the struts to the top of the structure, which infers a gap. Also, you see some kind of evidence of fluid staining the inside of the top, probably something like WD40, and it looks like it has run down past a couple of the struts. It can only do that if there's a gap.

Of course, I have not seen the top hat so I can not emphatically say how it is constructed. But I don't believe there is any conspiracy in play here either.

Is it feasible the dome of the oil/gas reservoir could lose sufficient supporting pressure and collapse?

There's certainly a lot of water over the dome. If we'd had pressure readings over the last 60 days, they might give some indications of whether this is possible. But I don't think we have those.

It is irritating in the extreme to see a CEO claim "he did not know" as an excuse. For this reason alone he should be fired. He is the CEO. CEO means "the buck stops here" and claiming no knowledge is a claim he failed to manage, ie do what he was paid to do. As he wasn't doing his job; and the impact on the company is catastrophic he should be fired. Now.

This is the essence of line management in big organisations. Of course I do not expect him to have detailed operational knowledge. What I do need to know is that proper delegated command and control extends through the organisation from top to bottom. With high risk and costly operations like drilling, especially in deep water, good management procedures with checks and balances in place and functional at all key decision points is vital. This clearly wasn't in place and that is why Hayward should be fired.

Blame the man at the top. Well, has some truth, but I'd say another truth is that we've created economic and political structures such that it's unrealistic for the man at the top to have enough information and enough control to handle the problems that are being generated. Think about it a bit. There's a lot of blaming of Obama, of CEOs, etc. Can we realistically expect better results with better people at the top or have we built are information and control structures to unmanageable depth and complexity?

Regardless of what he knows or doesn't, the man at the top is responsible. It's his duty to know everything he can about his business, but even if he doesn't, he is still responsible by virtue of position. He owns the failures as much as he owns the successes.

I can tell you exactly when it started (but I won't), but for around 30 years the concepts of 'responsibility' and 'consequences' have become divorced. Nowadays, the Captain NEVER goes down with his ship. Many top dogs get in front of the public and "take full responsibility" for breeches of law and regulation, yet they never suffer the consequences that come with such responsibility. No one injured is ever made whole. It's as if saying "I take full responsibility" somehow magically releases them and everyone else under them from the element of responsibility that includes restitution/reparation (in the Gulf, we might get restitution, but we'll never get reparation).

If someone occupies a position of authority (with its requisite perks), or if they step up and take responsibility for the purpose of deflecting it from another person, they should suffer the FULL effect of that responsibility.

The other problem is that the US has created a legal system, and expectations of the operation of that system, that make it imperitive that under certain circumstances the CEO not know things. As an outsider I find it grimly fascinating to watch. There has been earlier commentary on this that pointed out the issues and pitfalls.

Basically, if the CEO tells any sort of mistruth, even if an honest mistake in giving evidence, he is guaranteed to be hung out to dry in later proceedings. The only tennable behaviour is to not remember. You can't be called out for forgetting. The US has a long and inglorious history of this. "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

The problem seems to be that the congressional inquiry is a political show trial, with no expectations of useful outcomes. With November looming large in the minds of most politicians you can't really expect much else. After the mid-terms I would hope for a much more focussed and useful inquiry. Both because the political pressure will be off, and there will be vastly more known about the nature of the accident.

Again, I note that there is unseemly interest in roasting BP over this. This isn't good. There is a smell of political expediency in hanging all the blame on BP's operations, and quietly ignoring the rest of the industry. This has the danger that the wrong conclusions are reached, and the wrong remedies legislated. The usual result of such action is that you suffer another accident.

I think he should await trial in jail.

Tony Hayward is Group Chief Executive of BP. He manages the executive management team which is the highest layer in the management structure. BP reported they had 80,300 employees as of 12/31/2009. The Exploration and Production business segment employees 20,000 and operates in 30 countries. According to Rigzone, BP is currently operating 27 drilling rigs. BP plans to start 42 major drilling projects between April 2010 and 2015. As a leader, Tony Hayward is responsible for the failure in leadership at BP, and for any pressure by upper management on lower management to make poor decisions. However, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect that Hayward would have direct knowledge of each of the day to day decisions of the people employed to make those decisions.

I disagree with the premise that Hayward should be aware of details of any operation at his level. You heard Rex Tillerson say that critical decisions would be made by a line manager in the drilling organization. He wasn't challenged by the clowns asking the questions.

I can guarantee you, however, that there is a major difference in line managers of ExxonMobil and the same for BP.

Can someone explain what we're seeing here:'s over now...apparentrly a plume coming from the sea floor, no cohordinates available on this camera

Dont see anything.

They are planning to install suction piles (anchors), which would kick up a lot of sediment. Perhaps they were installing one?

There are some solutions to seal the oil gusher for your kind consideration.
Could the drill stem still be pulled out?

Maybe this has been addressed somewhere (there's so much to read!), but if BP is drilling the relief wells, who exactly is making sure that the new relief wells are properly designed and will actually function to specifications and not simply result in new gushers? I certainly hope they are not drilling the relief wells the same way they drilled the current one. With the high pressures and methane levels involved, ought not the design of the well be reviewed to be certain it will hold up? I don't exactly trust BP to get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try...

I have another question. I've asked this once before, but I didn't get a serious answer, and it is a serious, if not directly relevant, question. I got to thinking: With all these massive oil deposits beneath the ocean, is there any reason to believe it is not possible for natural volcanic activity to open up a new volcano from below a major oil deposit, thus spilling the entire contents at once? When Hawaii was born, it was in the middle of an ocean. What if that spot had, by chance, contained oil? What about earthquakes? Should we be intentionally trying to drain the oceans of oil to prevent such a possibility? Let's go even further into the realm of irrelevance and wild speculation: could the dinosaur die-off that seems to have stymied so many investigators have been caused by a volcano resulting in a massive oil and methane release?

Dare I ask a third? If the only thing holding in some less-than perfect for exploitation wells is the hydrostatic pressure of drilling mud and some concrete, what's to stop those wells from breaking down over then next 1000 years, having the drilling mud escape, and then creating other, smaller, gushers in the future?

Top hands specializing in wild well control in independent companies are going to be doing the locating, pumping, etc. If they don't like the well design, I'mbetting that they can over-ride decisions.

And EVERYBODY out there is aware of the potential for a blowout because of the first one. They have a whole pile of data that the original well didn't.

They are going to be doing everything that they can to make sure that this one goes down w/o a hitch.

It has been argued that massive volcanism that incinerates hydrocarbons was a cause of die-offs and carbon spikes. Flood volcanism in the Siberian Trapps seems to have been at about the right time to have caused the Permian die-off.

Re: the Anadarko rat-out yesterday, looks like they've nearing the financial panic stage.

Moody’s cuts Anadarko debt to ‘junk’

Moody's today cut its ratings on Anadarko Petroleum to junk status and said it may cut them further due to uncertainty about costs the US independent will pay to cover liabilities from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

snakehead, did you notice the sidebar story about Anadarko's having earlier declared force majeure on three Gulf rigs? Ooops, kinda inconvenient for present purposes.

sh: Ahhh... the makings of a snitch.

The Perdido field is employing undersea separation of gas and oil. Is this completely new and unique technology or has this been done elsewhere?

Hi All.
This is my first an probably last post. I am a retired Electrical Engineer from a country a long way away. Long time follower of this website - love it!.

I have been intrigued by the Matt Simmons assertions. My Googleing had these results :

I am sure the TOD audience can take this forward.
A wonderful site. My background is AEROSPACE and IT, and it has been a wonderful experience for me to learn so much about OIL exploration and production, and to observe the similarities to my field.

Thank you.

Found this link. It's a compendium of oil spills. Although it's lengthy, and I haven't but started to read it, there seems to be lots of info on causes, dispersants used, and results.

PW: Thanks. Scrib is another wonderful site. I've been a member for quite a while. But I should use it more. Many hogsheads of source material are available on Scrib.

The transcript of Svenbard's interview with Sky TV is here:

He showed little support for Hayward.

Questions now arising as to who is in charge of handling the oil spill as BP contacts have said Hayward is still in charge, another that he will be in charge until the well is capped, yet another comment that the transition to Dudley has started and as soon as the transition is complete then Dudley will take charge regardless of whether the well has been stopped or not.

This will probably be cleared up on Monday.

As a Brit I find it a bit odd that so much holier-than-thou fuss has been made over this specific disaster.

Sure, it's only fair to be VERY annoyed ... but it's rather hypocritical for US media, senators and forum posters to act like this event was hand crafted by the Devil himself.

Back in 1984 a US company caused a major disaster in which many died.

However it was a US company and in one of those dirty, foreign countries so it didn't really count.

Check out the Bhopal disaster here:

Note the similarities: poor testing, poor design, poor operational systems.

The key differences : the clean up, the punishment of the company involved and the victims' compensation ... or lack of such.

I suppose it needs to be a cash rich foreign company working in/near the US before US citizens, government & lawyers get REALLY riled.

Hypocrisy is a major m.o. of our politicians. So is grandstanding. I'm betting the UK suffers from the same malaise, although perhaps in a less festival-like fashion.

While I'm not discounting the methane risk content of the article, I'm unconvinced of this: "Evidence of fissures opening up on the seabed have been captured by the robotic submersibles working to repair and contain the ruptured well." And there was no indication of methane escaping in that video in any case.

Some of the "whacko" websites are calling the oil radioactive, showing a geiger counter blip when oil is passed nearby. Does deep well oil usually have a slight radioactivity (i.e. higher than surface background)?