What Were the Causes That Led to the Deepwater Horizon Blowout and Explosion? - and Open Thread 2

This post is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6606.

Author's Note: This is a guest post by William Semple. Mr. Semple is a drilling engineer and independent drilling consultant with 37 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. He worked for 16 years with a major oil company and has 24 years of experience as a drilling supervisor.

Mississippi Canyon 252 Macondo Well
24th April 2010 at approximately 21:49 hrs

I have summarized the information to try and keep it to the salient facts. The following information is from reliable sources. Most is public record and the remainder is from confidential reviews carried out by other major oil companies. I have interpreted the reports and made some conclusions with caveats where necessary. As such, these are only opinions and no inference of blame can be inferred as a result of these statements.

More detail will emerge when further investigations take place, especially with regard to the last few hours leading up to the explosion. However, I am confident the fundamentals are identified in this article and, most importantly, the crucial lessons learned so none of us repeat the same mistakes.

Much is being made of the water depth as a factor in this disaster. However, many of the mistakes made would have been equally serious in shallow-water drilling or even on land, and lessons learned apply to almost all drilling operations.

Well Status

Drilling of the Macondo well had reached total depth (TD) at 18,360 feet (ft). The previous casing shoe was at 17,168 ft. Open hole diameter was 8 ½ inches (in). Rotary Kelly Bushing (RKB) to Mud line was 5,067 ft. The open hole had been logged over a four-day period.

7 in by 9 7/8 in casing was run from TD all the way back to the wellhead--a single string.

The casing had been cemented using +/-60 bbls of slurry. There were no losses and the plug was bumped. No back flow was observed after displacement (although “U” tube effect was not significant.) Top of cement is estimated at 16,200 ft.

9 7/8 in casing hanger was landed with no lock ring (Reason not known).

No pack off or secondary seal was run (Reason not known).

11 hrs after cementing, the casing was tested to 2,650 pounds per square inch (psi) with the blind shear rams closed.

Drilling string was run to 8,367 ft.

Sequence of events

16.5 hrs after bumping the cement plug, the draw down or negative test was carried out to establish well integrity prior to displacing 14.3 pound per gallon (ppg) oil-based mud out of the well from a depth of 8,367 ft.

This test was carried out part-way through the displacement of the well to seawater including a complex spacer pill, with the well shut in and the kill line open & full of seawater. Kill line pressure was zero but there was 1400 psi on the drill pipe.

The inflow/draw down test was probably flawed. It would not equate to what the well would see after the riser was displaced to seawater. There is also witness statement information that the observation of return flow from the kill line to the cement unit was 15 bbls during the inflow test. As can been seen in the BP report, there was quite a lot going on during this process, and the data seems rather confusing. However, the test was deemed to be satisfactory.

The annular was opened up and the process of displacing the well to seawater continued at 25 to 31 barrels per minute. During this time, oil-based mud was being transferred to the supply boat, so total fluid in and out volumes could not be monitored. However, flow in and out was being monitored.

20:58-21:08 hrs there was an indication of increased flow from the riser returns. This coincided with a slowdown in pump rates and then stopping of pumps to carry out a sheen test in preparation to dump “clean” fluid returns to the sea (fluid spacer). During this period the drill pipe pressure increased (+/- 200 psi increase over five minutes).

21:15 hrs pumping restarted and returns were dumped overboard. The diverter was closed for this operation so there was no longer flow-out measurement.

21:31 pumps off. The pump pressure just prior to this had been increasing but then showed, a drop off which could have been a sign of the gas coming up to surface. Records show 4 telephone calls between the rig floor and the Toolpusher (drilling manager responsible for all operations) during this time.

21:31 – 21:47 erratic drill pipe pressure probably due to unloading of riser because of gas expansion.

21:49 Drill pipe pressure had risen rapidly to 5,800 psi. It is thought that the annular preventer may have been closed at this time. But since the drill pipe valve (Kelly cock/stab in valve) was not closed, the pressure would have reached the pumps where the relief valve pressure could have been exceeded and tripped gas would have flooded the pump room (this is speculation but quite likely).

21:49 All data transmission from the rig were lost presumably due to the explosions & fire.

21:56 hrs The EDS (emergency disconnect system which closes all valves & rams & blind shear rams on the BOP --blowout preventer--and disconnects the riser) was pressed from a remote location but it did not appear to work.

After loss of hydraulics and communication from the well the AMF (automatic mode failure system) on the BOP should have functioned. This would have closed all BOP rams but not the disconnect. This did not appear to work.

Post-explosion ROV (remotely operated vehicle) interventions were conducted to attempt to activate the blind shear rams, variable rams and other BOP functions.

Leaks were found in the system that were previously noted in the rig log.

Hydraulic system errors such that test rams (lower pipe rams) were activated instead of the lower variable rams.

Subsequent NDT (non-destructive testing) examination of the BOP indicated that the blind shear rams & variable rams did move and may be in the locked position, but final status will not be possible until the BOP is recovered.


Well Planning

  • The hanger was run without a lock ring. Pressures from gas leaking up from the producing formation could have provided sufficient pressure to move the hanger and affect seal integrity. There was no lock ring or secondary seal (pack off) to prevent this.
  • Hanger was only a single barrier—the cement was and could not be tested.
  • Gas from the annulus getting past the hanger seal was the most likely source of the kick and subsequent blowout.

Policy & Procedure

  • The method of conducting the inflow or draw-down test in conjunction with displacement of the well from weighted mud to seawater is suspect at best, and possibly fundamentally flawed.

Basic Rig Practices

  • The inflow/draw down test did not appear to offer satisfactory results, and also took place over a relatively short period of time.
  • During the displacement of the well to seawater, volume, flow show and pressure anomalies were evident but did not result in the well being shut in in a timely manner.
  • Even after there were some indications that all was not well, pumping operations continued. Returns were dumped and the return flow meter was bypassed,so the rig was effectively blind until things started to get quite serious.
  • When the well was shut in, the drill pipe safety valve or IBOP was not closed in time to stop rapid rise in pressure getting back to the pumps and probably blowing the pressure relief valves.

What lessons can we learn from this tragedy?

  1. The practice of running a long string instead of a liner to seal off a reservoir means any failure in the cement job cannot be monitored. It is well known that, in certain circumstances, some of the hydrostatic pressure of the cement column can be lost during the cement-curing process. Running a liner means the cement job can be monitored or tested, or that a liner-top packer can be used to act as an additional barrier.
  2. The industry should embrace existing techniques to prevent or compensate for potential loss of hydrostatic pressure during the cement-curing process.
  3. Hanger assemblies can and should offer dual barriers.
  4. Hangers should always include a locking mechanism. This should not be left out for the sake of convenience.
  5. Cement should not be considered as a barrier unless it can be properly tested in the direction of flow.
  6. Barrier policy should require dual barriers tested in the direction of flow.
  7. Inflow/draw down testing and displacing wells to lighter fluids is not part of the IWCF syllabus. It should be.
  8. Displacing wells to under-balance hydrostatics should require monitoring of volumes pumped and returned. The process should stop while volume is pumped to a boat.
  9. Flow checks during such displacements to lighter fluids should be mandatory and thorough.
  10. Basic well control training teaches us that, when there are indications of a kick, the well should be shut in.
  11. Basic well control training teaches us that before closing in a well, the drill pipe should be shut in first.
  12. Drillers must be empowered to have the confidence and authority to close the well in if they have any suspicions that a well might be flowing. Close the well in first – ask questions later.

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Continuing from the earlier thread...
The US Coast Guard turned up on site and deluged an abandoned Deepwater Horizon until it sunk 2 days later as the Coast Guard flooded the pontoons. the sinking of the rig resulted in the failure of the riser and the initiation of the worst spill in US history. Now I am NOT apportioning any blame to the US Coast Guard, but the decision to deluge the rig? Was it really wise? I mean if they had let the fire rage what would have happened?
i). The fire would have burned fiercely above the drill floor and would have eventually consumed everything from there up.
ii). Is it possible that the pontoons, the rig legs and the drill floor could have survived the fire for a week or two or maybe even more?
iii). Is it possible that the riser could have maintained intact for many days after the blowout? Simply feeding oil and gas to a giant inferno above the rig.

It is my opinion that, the best cause of action would have been for the Coast Guard to sit back and watch the rig burn. In fact there should have been a conscious effort to keep the rig dry, as the fire would have consumed all the oil that would otherwise be spilling into the gulf. Even if the rig burned for just two weeks that time would have been invaluable for planning the response.

The current set up over the Macondo well is actually identical in principle to the set up that was sunk by the Coast Guard two days into the response operation. In fact the original set up was better as we had a Marine Riser from sea floor to deck that was structurally intact and preloaded in place.

I wonder how much BP would pay to get that scenario back in place?

I understand the the rig would be literally anchored via the Riser as the thrusters would be lost, but risers, connectors, BOP's and wellheads are designed for an accidental load of 7.5 degrees of drift.
I accept that the scenario has limited life but it would not be impossible for an ROV to tow a line around a rig leg allowing for increasingly largely line to be winched through until anchor lines are in place.

Even if the spill is delayed for just 1 week the potential reduction in damage is huge.

from April 29

the link is a bit unstable but is worth watching and speaks to the issue of the sinking of the rig

this is a Canadian report compared to the non coverage from American media

Note the laugh from the audience Obama received in the part of the clip where he makes some remarks

Note the reported size of the slick at this point just 9 days after the explosion

Note starting at minute 8 Mike Miller's comments "never sink the rig"


Note the laugh from the audience Obama received in the part of the clip where he makes some remarks

My take on this is that Obama is completely disconnected from the Reality of the situation. How can a rational person make a humorous comment like that is beyond me.

Unless that is that he is completely stupid because I am not ready to swallow that a science teacher will have a solution to this problem. If Obama does believe that then he should ask some home econ teachers how to fix the US Economy.

Vote this guy OUT next time around. :-)

This Canadian report is Good. Sure gives a different view from the air of how things look and what the locals think.

Yes! Why did the Coast Guard turn up and sink the Transocean ship? That may have been the catalyst that set the whole debacle in motion. Why did no one in the hearing where they crucified Hayward bring this up?

A little reality check folks. For those not aware the rig was a semi-submersible. Essentially a ship. It was attached to the BOP/well head by a 22" thin skinned metal tube (the riser). The rig was held in position by a dynamic positioning system which kept it relatively stable. The rig's propulsion was driven by its diesel engines which were fueled by the fuel tanks which blew up shortly after the blow out. Thus the only thing to keep the rig (weighing several million pounds) from drifting away was this riser. All those folks who think the riser would keep the massive rig in position raise your hand. The rig was going to drift off location. The riser was going to tear away. The well was blowing out thru the BOP/well head. IMHO we would be in the same position today had the rig sunk or not. Thus whether they sprayed the rig or not makes no difference. Opinions will vary of course.


I see your yep and raise you a "hell yeah"

Does anyone want to learn to play "booray" it only takes 20 dollars for the first lesson?


And if you watch the footage of the CG spraying the rig, it looks almost like a ceremonial event -- these little tiny sprays of water around a volcano-sized fire. Most of the water aimed at the rig just evaporated before it hit.

Rockman: DW Horizon was a ship registered ("flagged") in the Marshall Islands as a "flag of convenience."

LA TIMES: Reporting from Washington —

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico was built in South Korea. It was operated by a Swiss company under contract to a British oil firm. Primary responsibility for safety and other inspections rested not with the U.S. government but with the Republic of the Marshall Islands — a tiny, impoverished nation in the Pacific Ocean.
Under International law, offshore oil rigs like the Deepwater Horizon are treated as ships, and companies are allowed to "register" them in unlikely places such as the Marshall Islands, Panama and Liberia — reducing the U.S. government's role in inspecting and enforcing safety and other standards. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-inspection-2010...

No drilling rig can operate in the OCS unless it complies with MMS/Coast Guard regs. Operators are required to comply in order to get a drilling permit. If the regs said all rigs drilling in the OCS had to be painted with candy cane strips they they would all look like barber poles. No stripes...no drill permit.

Rockman: I was just emphasizing your point that DHW is actually a ship is all.

I caught that EL. Just didn't want the newbies to get confused.

ROCKMAN wrote:

"Operators are required to comply in order to get a drilling permit."

And once you get the permit, you get to have sex with the MMS agent.

We have plenty o' laws and regs — enforcing them is another story, entirely.

Besides USCG and MMS regs all deepwater drill rigs operate in the international market - like the North Sea and Brazil. So they are actually built and maintained to higher standards than required by USA.

just my 0.02 here

USA standards in terms of rigs are more stringent than most countries, other than a few regulations regarding BOP and riser specs in certain regions like offshore Brazil and north seas ....a rig is built mostly to comply with US regulations and others follow naturally....it is a big misnomer that rigs in Brazil or Norway are better....operationally the best specs are the US specs ...most other countries follow API specs give or take ......API RP's (recommended practices) and Bulls (bulletins) are the standard that most all countries try to follow or emulate....API specs are what are back translated to ISO specs for other countries.....we lead all regulations worldwide through API RP's and this is not even up for argument....just my 2 cents based on experience having worked in a bunch of countries

what is not appreciated here is ....things have run relatively problem free for 40+ yrs on the GOM .....BP screwed up and all sorts of rules and regulations are coming up for debate .....Norway and Brazil are suddenly begin made out to be saints....let the API withhold all information tomorrow and Norway and Brazil and such wouldn't know left form right on a rig within a year....we through API put out RP's for everything.....even the tensile strength on a cable or the recommended practice to maintain the gauges oin the dog house....huffington post and such can go to hell ....we lead and others follow, its simple like that.....

Not actually the case. The US has its own standards for type approval of equipment and some policy guidance on certain aspects of fire protection, but 46 CFR Subchapter I-A (the regulations for MODUs) dates from 1978. The 1989 IMO MODU Code and most coastal state regulations have much higher requirements for stability, ballasting systems, and most machinery aspects.

(Edit to add: talking about the rig itself here, not the drilling equipment side. Will leave that to the experts...)

Even if the riser had been sufficient to hold DWH in position while burning, I can't see them doing much work in the area to kill the well as long as there was potential for DWH to break loose and drift into other vessels. If it had stayed afloat a few more days there might be a few days less oil in the gulf that could have burned while the subsea and RW response were being staged nearby. Beyond that it's better that the DWH is out of the way. Of course the emergency disconnect would have been preferred as then DWH would be afloat and possibly preserved more evidence for the investigation.

Let's look at what they've been doing; using ROVs and cranes with mile-long cables to fiddle with the BOP underwater. Do you really think that, given that capability, they would have been unable to hook some long lines up to the DWH fairly quickly, and either anchor it or maintain its position with tugs?

Well, actually, yes - as I remember, the burning rig was so hot, that they had to spray water over the nearest fireboat, using another fireboat, just to keep it cool enough to get a water-jet onto the rig.

Yeah... just hook that up to a tugboat....

Regards Chris


The design code for wellheads and BOP's states that they should be able to cope with a drift off of 7.5 degrees. Even before the DWH accident, this has recently been changed to 10 degrees although that has no retrospective bearing on this well.

The weakest link in the chain is the H4 connection to the wellhead, Vetco limited the working capacity of the H4 profile to 4,000,000 ft-lbf. It's actually bending capacity at 2/3rds yield is nearer 6,000,000 ft-lbf. Lets not discuss capacity at UTS.

The water depth in this instance greatly helps the riser survive under drift conditions as the bending moment is spread over a much greater length. i.e. the riser is subject to more of the drift load as a tension rather than a bending or shear stress.

So YES, I will raise my hand and say "it would have made a big difference" and that the riser would have survived until the first meaningful storm.

The weight of the rig has little or no bearing on the loads induced in the riser whatsoever. So I don't know what you're driving at with that one, the Gulf bears the weight of the rig not the riser. The biggest factors for the survivability of the riser would be water depth, wind speed and the wind sectional area of the rig.

These systems are designed for anchor system failure, it's called the accidental load case. Although the lifespan under accidental loads is obviously reduced it is more than zero, much more.

PQ17, from previous thread:

It is open to interpretation whether the oil seeps shown (taken by the ROV) is just oil that were being stirred up or something else.
Is it really open to interpretation? Without facts one way or the other, would it be interpretation or just a guess based on a gut feeling? Lack of evidence doesn't lead toward one explanation and against another.

It is not in dispute that the BOP is tilted.
It's not? Based on what? Yes, the flex joint is tilted, that's its reason to exist. Someone who knows more about the hardware would have to say if it was supposed to return to vertical on its own, or if staying where it is is normal. All the footage I have seen (a lot) has shown nothing obviously damaged between the riser flange above the flex joint and the seafloor. I find that rather remarkable given the energy required to fold the riser over the way it was. Note I said remarkable, not suspicious. You will probably interpret that in a different way.

It is BP's contention that the BOP was bent by the collapsing riser.
It is? Link please.

It is not inconceivable that with the bent, something cracked --- which would account for the minute amount of oil seepage.
What 'minute amount of oil seepage' - from where? I haven't seen anything that could be thought of as a leak around the BOP other than silt being stirred up, and dispersant wands set aside by an ROV without being shut off.

It is not in dispute that BP placed the inclinometer on the BOP to monitor any changes in its orientation.
Checking isn't a bad idea even if - especially if - you think there might be a problem. Checking doesn't imply anything other than that they wanted to check. What were the readings from the inclinometer checks? Don't know. What readings would be considered normal? Don't know. What were the readings before the blowout? Don't know. Seems if they had done slightly more checking in other areas two months ago, we wouldn't be in the sorry state we now find ourselves.

With the "cap" on it and additional work, it is not inconceivable that additional stresses can be placed on the BOP.
Stresses greater than those imparted while the burning rig was still attached and drifting out of control? Not with the stuff onsite at present. The yet-to-be-deployed 'overshot tool' might be a different matter, but I doubt it. It survived the rig breakaway and isn't visibly damaged, I would lean (lol) towards saying it's a lot tougher than common logic would lead you to think.

Whether it will lead to catastrophic failure --- we have no public information.
Right. Although it seems you're still salivating for armageddon, as if the current situation isn't bad enough already.

We do, however, know that sand is coming up with the oil and gas and gradually weakening the entire well structure.
If you had read any of the previous threads on erosion you would know that is not true. Inside the BOP at whatever locations are the flow restrictions - yes. In the well below the BOP - no. All the way down in the producing formation - possibly.

On a balance of probabilities --- I would say, watch it closely, but there is not much that can be done to stop or slow the failure if it does happen.
I am pretty sure there are a lot of people watching everything very closely now. Too bad that wasn't popular before the blowout.

The only thing I can think of is to be real careful putting additional stresses on the stack.
I think the whole thing would have failed while still attached to the rig if that were going to happen. The (possibly, presumed for safety's sake) failed casing far far downhole is a completely different animal than the top of the wellhead supporting the BOP.

It's ok to say 'we just don't know' when, well, we don't know. Why we don't know these things is another matter entirely. I remember things from 8th grade science class that were much more involved than the so-called 'Technical Updates' from Kent Wells.

You know what you call all those people from 8th grade science class who didn't get it or were not interested ? Today's news media people

It is not in dispute that BP placed the "inclinometer" on the BOP to monitor any changes in its orientation.


I've mentioned this before, (with no replies, due to thread changes), but I believe that this is in dispute.

I saw temporary measurements being made by an ROV on the flex joint above the BOP but I have seen no mention of a 'inclinometer" (it's clinometer, BTW) being installed on the BOP itself.

I could have missed something.

If they have checked the plumb of the BOP, that's one thing, but if permanent instrumentation has been installed, that has serious implications regarding the structural integrity of the well head assembly.

"if permanent instrumentation has been installed, that has serious implications regarding the structural integrity"

Not necessarily, just prudent given all they are doing to it.


Agreed, and I suspect that prudence is the order of the day.

That said, even the suspicion that the BOP could lean, hence the clinomer, tells me that there are some very worried (or just nervous) folks out there. The structure, and the underlying well head is so massive that any suggestion that it might shift, or let go, gives me the heebie jeebies.

Perhaps I should have said "Implications of possibilities..."

ali: In response to your question on the now closed thread:

I have no big handle on corporate law but this isn't corporate law really. I just know how the prosecutor's hard ball drill works. It usually follows the same script from the NY mob to Enron to your local pot dealer: Find a snitch and bleed 'em till blood runs out of their eyeballs.

Mitsui will join the snitch party at some point; however, I think snitching may be different in Japanese culture. Also, they are only 10% exposed and a lot richer overall than Anadarko; therefore, they are not as vulnerable to financial pressure. But they will see a peak at "discretionary debarment." I can tell you this: Mitsui will try to throw BP and Anadarko to the sharks when the timing is right or the pressure mounts.

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

Edit: Color and format added.

I am interested in the interplay of crew error and management error as they may have combined to cause the blow out.

It sounds like some are concluding that it appears that the crew did not watch what was going on closely enough to catch what was happening in time to do anything about it. Like walking in front of a train, as Rockman noted.

What about the BP decisions, though, are they part of the picture, and if so, how do you allocate ultimate responsibility given the bigger pic?

Some of the known BP errors:

6 certalizers instead of 21. Decision made at engineering level even after being warned in April 18 Halliburton report that the computer model with 7 centralizers said the cementing design "is considered to have a severe gas-flow problem.”

Decision to skip the cement bond log. Conducting the test would have cost $128,000, while canceling the work was about $10,000. The congressional committee contacted a failure analysis consultant who said it was “unheard of” not to conduct the test and called BP’s decision “horribly negligent.”

Is that true? Whose call was that? Did whoever made the call know about the Halliburton computer model showing severe gas flow problems?

Failure to install Lock down sleeve. It appears to be an engineering decision based on the e-mail from the junior engineer copied below. What benefit was there to not installing the sleeve? Time savings?

From: Morel, Brian P
Sent: Fri Apr 1604:38:032010
To: Sepulvado, Ronald W; Vidrine, Don J; Kaluza, Robert; Lambert, Lee; Guide, John; Hafle, Mark E;
Cocales, Brett W; Walz, Gregory S
Subject: Updated Procedure
Importance: Normal
Attachments: Macondo_Drilling_Production_lnterval BP01_rev2.zIP

Attached is the updated procedure based on our current plan forward. If anything changes I will update and send the
next revision out. We are still waiting for approval ofthe departure to set our surface plug 3000' BML. Ifwe do
not get this approved, the displacement/plug will be completed shallower after running the LDS (basic details of this
change are included in this procedure).
Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
A detailed cement procedure should be available from Jesse sometime tomorrow.
Thank You.
Brian Morel

So, if the BP errors set the crew up for losing control of the well due to poor cement job and no testing, and no lock-down sleeve, would the crew still be mostly, or just partly, at fault for failing to detect the loss of well control in time to stop it?

Under what scenario would the BP decisions be the primary cause?

Is it possible that something in the well failed due to pressure build up from gas that unleashed a chain of events that the crew was powerless to stop? It seems Stu's scenario is along these lines.

10). Seal assembly enters the BOP like a giant artillery shell. Wrecking all kinds of havoc. Riser level is witnessed to drop, as annular is damaged.

How is that possible if the DP is in place?

The seal in question is a ring the drill pipe runs through it.

"So, if the BP errors set the crew up for losing control of the well due to poor cement job and no testing, and no lock-down sleeve, would the crew still be mostly, or just partly, at fault for failing to detect the loss of well control in time to stop it?"

Yes it seems clear to me BP set up the crew for losing control of the well. If this is so the next question must be why?


BP is working in conjunction with obama to produce an economy wide price for carbon based credit to buy and sell. This manufactured oil crisis will not go to waste if cap and trade is passed by congress.

It was dead until this manufactured crisis was set up by BP.

This must be asked. Was the crew set up to fail? It seems so.

BP America President and Chairman Lamar McKay: “BP supports an economy-wide price for carbon based on fair and equitable application across all sectors and believes that market based solutions, like a cap and trade or linked-fee, are the best solutions to manage GHG emissions.” (Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, U.S. House Of Representatives, Hearing, 6/15/10)

Just to be clear, my use of the term "set the crew up" was in no way meant to imply it was done knowingly. I meant only that as a consequence of the BP errors/decisions, a loss of well control was precipitated or facilitated when the crew may not have been aware of all of the factors increasing risk, such that had they known, they would have done things differently.


BP is working in conjunction with Obama to produce an economy wide price for carbon based credit to buy and sell. This manufactured oil crisis will not go to waste if cap and trade is passed by congress.

Speculation is right. The next question is "Why the speculation?"

OBVIOUSLY, a Communist plot.

I was hoping the whacko conspiracy theorists weren't going to show up here; looks like I was wrong.

It's usually in short runs. Either they get ignored or someone with sense shows up and smothers the coals with facts and data. This isn't an easy gig for aggro guys with flaming hair.

Syn -- a couple of points. The use of less centralizers could have led to a poor cmt job. There is a negative to running a large number of centralizers: it might have made running the csg difficult. An outside chance that this could have led to working the csg down and inducting a kick. But a low probability but a reason for not putting too much “jewelry” on the csg. The bond log: just my opinion but the bond log is not a valid test for cmt integrity. I have never trusted, nor will ever trust, a CBL to determine if the cmt will hold. The CBL can be helpful during the completion stage to make sure the reservoir is properly isolated. An LOT (pressure test) is the only measure I would ever use to test cmt integrity. I get the LOT I want or I squeeze with more cmt and test again. And keep doing that until I get a valid test. And a minor point: the charge for the CBL might have been just $128,000 but if had taken 12 hours so that would cost around another $500,000 in rig time. The consultant is welcome to his opinion. But if he really feels a CBL is the way to know you have cmt integrity I would never use him to walk my dog let alone advise me on a well. It would be too dangerous IMHO. Was Halliburton at fault because the cmt failed? Cmt failure is common. Read the Halliburton contract the operators sign. Halliburton says in no uncertain terms they don’t promise a good cmt job. Not only that but if the cmt doesn’t test properly they’ll squeeze it and then charge the operator extra for the sqz job. And if that sqz job fails they’ll do it again and charge more for that. Again this is why the cmt integrity test is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Bad cmt jobs are common and are expected.

The lock down sleeve: Don’t have personal experience to know how critical this was. But from we believe led to the blow out I can't see how this sleeve would have prevented the kick. But it might well have made secondary problems much worse. "Seal assembly enters the BOP like a giant artillery shell": I've seen hundreds of seal assmblies run and have no idea what this statement means. Enlightenment would be appreciated.

Rockman, I didn't like the well design just by looking at the schematic for a minute. The more I looked the less I liked it.

The cement jobs on most of the casing and liner strings in my view were way too small and the last one should have certainly come higher. I don't mind that it was a foam job, but that was strange in it's own way.

The well should have been circulated much longer before cementing.

I agree with you on CBL's except for that a CBL in this situation may have given them proof that they needed to do squeeze work. I'm not saying you trust it when the CBL says the job is fine, but it should give atleast you pause when the CBL says it's not fine. Does that make since?

Obviously you don't do an LOT on the production casing shoe, so that test is out the window, so the CBL, positive casing test, and negative test are all you have to work with after the fact. Having good mud removal, proper cement density and monitoring for full returns during the cement job is a good indicator during the cement job. I also prefer to displace cement jobs at the maximum rate possible with out losing circulation.

As far as not running a lock down sleeve I'm not as very fimiliar with that either, I always assumed every subsea casing string had a way to lock it in place.

wildman -- I would have said FIT on the shoe instead of LOT but I didn't want to confuse folks. And I have had way more then one cmt not test good after seeing a good CBL over it. To be honest I consider CBL's to be so unrelaible I generally don't care what they say. I have had many good CBL's test bad and crappy looking ones test good. And a whole bunch that no one could interpret with any certainty.

Read the Halliburton contract the operators sign.

This needs to be stressed for those new to the Oil Patch. Service companies have disclaimers on their contracts in that they do not take responsibility for the work. The Company contracting the work always has their representative looking over the shoulder of the Service Company doing the work. If something is NOT right the Service Comp. needs to do the work AGAIN until the customer IS satisfied as he in the end the Company contracting the work shoulders the burden of any problems.

Thanks, Rockman. Thanks for taking pity on me stumbling around in the dark!

The letter did also note the failure to circulate the mud before cementing, and, of course, the casing choice, as per wildbourgman's comment.

It appears there's still discrepancy over the negative pressure test. The first one returned 23 b and the second one 15 b. (I have heard these results characterized as being successful and as failures.) Apparently, one was done on the drill pipe, the other one on the choke line. Was there a third? The hand who did the first two says no. BP initially said only two tests, but changed that through a statemet from BP attorneys stating that additional testing was done.


As for the comment in my post: "Seal assembly enters the BOP like a giant artillery shell", that was from an earlier post on the other thread i was quoting.

syn -- Forgot about not circ BU (bottoms up). That's just plain stupid not to do that after running csg IMHO. I doubt it directly contributed to the blow out but it does say something about BP's ops. Getting BU is primarially an info gathering effort. Tells you something about bottom hole conditions.

When you say that if the cement plug fails the pressure tests, the contractors then "squeeze" the plug and retest, what does that mean?

I'm guessing it involves forcing more cement down on and in the plug under pressure to try and fill any voids, and if the retest fails they do it again under the philosophy that more cement is never a bad thing. Is that correct or is it something else?

Thanks for your unceasing efforts to educate us ignorant folks.

Gulf Oil Spill Health Hazards

Many people will be exposed to chemicals in air, water, sand, soil, and food as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is important to understand the potential toxic effects and take appropriate protective actions to reduce exposure and harm.

This report describes the toxicity of chemicals in crude oil and in the dispersants currently being used in the Gulf area.

An Inconvenient Truth - Respirators Needed in the Gulf Cleanup

Gulf clean-up workers are potentially exposed to a complex mixture of toxic chemicals. Exposures change with proximity to the oil leak, dispersants and other chemicals in use, wind direction, wave action, and cleanup tasks being performed. The scientific community lacks complete information on either the short-term or long-term health effects of this mixture. OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) are not protective in this situation and are absent for many of the chemicals of concern. Workers are becoming ill. Therefore the only workable approach to protect clean-up workers from airborne chemical hazards is for BP and other employers to provide and enforce the use of respirators for many workers engaged in clean-up work. The types of respirators should be selected by an expert team of OSHA, NIOSH, and NIEHS in consultation with respirator manufactures, based on the anticipated chemical exposures in performing specific clean-up tasks in specific locations offshore, nearshore, in marshes, and on beaches. Because of the unique nature of this situation, it is not possible to strictly follow respirator selection protocols that are used when exposures and toxicity are better characterized.

If you find the information useful, please help send the links to folks living in the affected communities, including cleanup workers especially those working offshore near the spill. Also people who may be most vulnerable to health effects (as described in the articles), including infants, children, pregnant women, those with existing health conditions, etc.

The range of risks varies a great deal, depending on individual circumstances, but it's clear that there are significant numbers of people at risk for adverse health effects. The biggest barrier to protecting them is lack of access to credible information. People can take rational, appropriate, steps to reduce risk only if they understand the hazards and issues. As has been mentioned many times, BP has been less than forthcoming with information in general, and there's no reason to trust their word (over those of credible scientists and health professionals) on health risks to exposed communities. So please help spread the word. Thank you!

More, from http://www.sciencecorps.org/crudeoilhazards.htm

Why do we need this information?

In past disasters, inadequate public information and protections have caused serious health problems among responders and local communities that were poorly informed about hazards. Long after 9/11, cleanup workers remained uninformed and unprotected as they were exposed to carcinogens, neurotoxins, and other hazards. Negligent actions of many agencies led to thousands of severely harmed workers who are disabled and often dying. This occurred without any good reason. Adequate information and protective equipment could have protected those who worked after the initial attack.

The human toll of the Gulf oil spill will rise far above the eleven men who were initially killed when the oil rig exploded unless the current federal pattern of secrecy and inadequate protections changes. There is no excuse for failing to inform and protect workers and the public, at a minimum offering them accurate information and recommending options for protection.

Federal, state, and local agencies' desire to keep this information secret is unjustified and dangerous. There is no place for politics or selfish personal interests when people are exposed to chemicals that can cause disease and death. Current actions reflect the opposite of protective public health strategies. Those who place the public interest and well being above corporate and agency interests must be allowed to take appropriate actions in this situation to insure the best possible current and future health for people in the Gulf Region.

I'm from Pensacola, Florida and at the time of the Piney Woods I was en route to help a man names Bill Swearingen run his banding machine. The well blew due to the mud being cut with KCl brine and the bottom hole pressure of >22,000 psi.
The talk of oil and gas seeps is correct. I have never seen an oil seep braked the surface only gas, Warsaw farts. The petroleum magazines of the day had numerous article about them as seen on fathometer recordings. Just North of the DPW site there is 37 fathom coral ridge that runs from the mouth of the river to South of Pensacola where there were many gas seeps. When they started drilling along the 50 fathom line nearly all these seeps stopped.

This not the first time the oil companies have killed the fishing in the gulf. During the early exploration seismic surveys the kill several generations of fish.


I caught your reply thanks. Maybe we could have a beer sometime. It is hard to say where I am "from" these days, but Milton, Florida (actually Harold) is where I am supposed to be. I know that doesn't make sense but I will probably be back down there sometime over the next couple of weeks. I grew up in south Mississippi, and I gave up on offshore many years ago.

Piney Woods was a smackover well and I was on a few of those in Mississippi near Heidleberg. I understand they had to wait for a while for the stainless steel wellhead to be fabricated. Magnetic Ranging was used to make the kill.

I had read on the the Pensacola Fishing Forum some references to The Oil Drum discsussions going on here. I'm not familiar with seeps off of Florida but there were plenty in offshore Louisiana and inland years back. That is how Bayou Boullion got its name. I was told of a story out of Breaux Bridge of an actually seep blowout that ignited on the surface but of course that could have been B.S. You hear strange stories.

I don't know what is going to be left in the Gulf. I pray that it will come back somehow. I took my 5 year old granddaughter to the beach on the island. It was a windy day and we mostly watched the shore birds as the waves broke. I thought to myself that she may be a teenager before this is the same- if then.

Later I saw crews moving boom from blackwater bay, I suppose to be redeployed in Alabama. Then today I hear somebody thinks they have spotted oil in Blackwater Bay.

From the AP:

BP CEO's yacht outing infuriates Gulf residents:

"Man, that ain't right. None of us can even go out fishing, and he's at the yacht races," said Bobby Pitre, 33, who runs a tattoo shop in the crossroads town of Larose, La. "I wish we could get a day off from the oil, too."


Did you see the photos from the race?

BP's big 3. Don't worry I already have some Dudley pictures. Just waiting for a mention.
My photobucket beach pictures from today. Gulf Shores Alabama.

>>> "Just to be clear, my use of the term "set the crew up" was in no way meant to imply it was done knowingly. I meant only that as a consequence of the BP errors/decisions, a loss of well control was precipitated or facilitated when the crew may not have been aware of all of the factors increasing risk, such that had they known, they would have done things differently."

Change you can believe in!:

Centralizers. When the final string of casing was installed, one key challenge was making sure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. As the American Petroleum Institute's recommended practices explain, if the casing is not centered, "it is difficult, if not impossible, to displace mud effectively from the narrow side of the annulus," resulting in a failed cement job. Halliburton, the contractor hired by BP to cement the well, warned BP that the well could have a "SEVERE gas flow problem" if BP lowered the final string of casing with only six centrali zers instead of the 21 recommended by Halliburton. BP rejected Halliburton's advice to use additional centralizers. 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." Later that day, another official recognized the risks of proceeding with insufficient centralizers but commented: "who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine.":


"This was an unused line," Kovac said. BP "tried to avoid the cost of freeze protecting it. They were hoping operators would be able to respond if something happened."


"Two BP management officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal matters, said budget cuts were largely the reason equipment was not upgraded or repaired, and indicated that much of it has yet to be addressed. BP's Alaska budget for 2010 is $1 billion, compared with $1.1 billion in 2009 and $1.3 billion in 2008.

Moreover, according to two BP Alaska officials, projects related to "safety and integrity" have been cut by 30 percent this year and BP’s senior managers receive bonuses for not using funds from BP’s designated maintenance budget, a company wide policy implemented by Hayward. Documents show that Hayward also implemented a cost-cutting directive following the oil spills in 2006 in Prudhoe Bay.


You betch'ya!

From Clusterstock:

CHART OF THE DAY: Here's Why Politicians Are Falling Over Themselves To Skewer BP Right Now


Presidents might have reduced me to working at a restaurant, but BP has reduced me to blogging and bad art.

Grand Prize. Short and punchy and right.

I wonder if the Coast Guard caused this entire disaster by sinking the Transocean drill ship? Why were there no questions asked at the Congressional "hearing?"

That is akin to blaming the paramedics for a wreck. The Coast Guard has made mistakes, but other than Thud's lack of good communication skills, Semper Paratus. If Congress and the President had told them to have more oil collection and well managing capabilities and gave them the funds to do so, they would have finished by now. I do not know if that is the best solution going forward, but do not condemn a whole department of the government because of bad leadership and vision.


Your work? If so, not bad. I think Bush is a side note on this one, but many would disagree.

I concur.

Made on the mac , I got a talking polar bear too. What no credit for putting a container ship on the Great Sands Dunes ?

Well maybe, but the association is a stretch. Take mine for example. I used a real photo of Allen from the other day and had it shopped within a couple of hours. I even pasted a link in the comment section of the original story and the paper kept my hyperlink up. The local paper must have laughed their tails off, especially the original photog. I think I am in a gray area since I alter greatly for satire and make no money. I would certainly desist if asked and I dare BP or its board to sue me. I dare the feds to sue me. I would become a hero around here if they did. Do you know who Captain Kangaroo was? Curious.

Hell I know who Kookla, Fran, and Ollie were.

I started with Romper Room and moved to Sesame Street. Big Bird would be PO'ed about this incident.

Captain Kangaroo's name was Bob Keeshan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Keeshan).

The information on this site is fantastic. The Contributors & Editor do a commendable job breaking down the inside scoop on the terrible disaster in the Gulf.

Yes I know and he was a HERO of mine. Taught me to brush my teeth. I am sorry I used his likeness to make fun of Thud, but the resemblance is not just in my eyes. Besides, the Captain was all about laughter. I was asking for a clue if young folks with no idea of who he was were posting.

Bear #339

Working on having oil flow in , and flood the ice.

I could not get my gif's from my pc to work. What am I doing wrong?

Post them on host site Photo Bucket , Image Shake etc.

It is in photobucket. Are you using a GIF?

Check my bucket out. I am going for a million hits this month. Firsthand footage of Gulf Shores.

Yep, the GIF application is called GIF Fun, Freeware. The pixel stuff I do on Pixen, or Graphic Converter.

Ok I used the photobucket editor to make my gif. What HTML code do I use to load?

I was a conservative & evangelical in 1989, seemingly the unshakable base of the GOP, but I went to work as a commercial fisherman in Alaska that summer and ended up cleaning oil off rocks and picking up dead animals instead.

More disturbing to me than the actual spill though, was the relationship between the Coast Guard and Exxon, the corporation that caused the damage.


This opinion may not be worth much but I've dealt with the MMS off and on for 35 years and have never seen their MO change in any meaningful way regardless of which party controlled the White House/congress. Either they all share the blame or they have no blame IMHO. Hopefully that will change for the better now.

I strongly agree, but in the last few years I've worked for some horrible operators that MMS should have shut down and I worked for some good operators that MMS gave hell.

It's like MMS handicapped them in order to help the weak operators get by.

I know a bunch of client reps that will retire if MMS is stationed on the rigs with us.

I strongly agree, but in the last few years I've worked for some horrible operators that MMS should have shut down and I worked for some good operators that MMS gave hell.

It's like MMS handicapped them in order to help the weak operators get by.

I know a bunch of client reps that will retire if MMS is stationed on the rigs with us.

Re:"...if MMS is stationed on the rigs with us."

They are coming - I guarontee. May not be the old MMS. But they will be there.

Aww. I used to watch him and Mr. Greenjeans back when he had to put on fake white hair and pillows to look old and fat.

Didn't Greenjeans get busted for blow?

I wonder if the rig had not sunk, then maybe it might have ripped the BOP off the wellhead in the bad weather the week after. It's easy to say sinking the rig caused bad things to happen and not sinking it might have been better. The fact is, not sinking it could have caused a much worse case of a ruptured csg at the seafloor or many other such things.

Unless BP directly warned the CG not to fight the fire, then you can't blame the CG.

Many experts have said they should have fire boomed around it and let it burn. I do not know. Personally, I have always felt that by 11:59PM 4/19/10, it was already too late. The experts here seem to believe there were still many chances after that. I think once the well blew and the gas ignited, the sinking was a forgone conclusion.

IMHO, the only way the rig wouldn't have sunk was if it would have been somehow pulled off of location.

What work boat deckhand would have had to throw the rope? Ha!

Lefty -- It would not have taken bad weather. Remember the rig had lost its propulsion. The riser wasn't capable of holding the rig on location in a nice little 2 mph current. I know it's diffficult to imagine the scale but you have a 2' wide thin metal tube that is 5,000' long trying to keep millions of pounds of steel from moving in the current/wind. Maybe some mechanical engineer out there can throw some numbers out.

For 30 knots wind, assuming 20% areal frontal fraction (working from max dimensions of DWH), drag coefficient of 1.5 and a riser thickness of 0.812", a guided cantilever assumption yields a terrific level of stress - 22 msi (or 22,000 ksi), which implies a quick and obvious ultimate failure. If one assumes a high strength steel was used (100 ksi), back-calculating one gets only a few knots of wind before real trouble. Currents are likely even more damaging.

Ya gotta luv the number crunchers. Mucho thanks D.

Ever flown a kite, the string will bow in the breeze. The riser would bow in the currents, it would just not be rigid enough to take a strain of even a tiny 2 mph current. Get out and walk for an hour and you see all that distance you have traveled, knowing that moving several hundred feet will put tension on the riser.

Simple mental pictures here folks.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas.

[new] aardvark on June 19, 2010 - 5:09pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
I think the Dutch rigid skimmer arms were developed for confined waters like harbours and estuaries where the slick would stay thick.

And I think you should have read previous posts here from people with actual experience with skimmers that work in the North Sea before posting. (The Gulf is a pond when compared to "normal" weather/sea conditions in the North Sea.)

[new] Roger on June 19, 2010 - 4:22pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
Old Fisherman,

As heartedly I agree with you that it is a shame that the skimming response to this spill has been so bad (hopefully until now), I don't agree to blame Obama or Admiral Allen for this situation.

The President is the one in charge. He gets the credit when due and he gets the blame when due. And plenty blame is due here when it comes to skimmer decisions.

The Admiral is the President's guy in charge. He gets the credit when due and he gets the blame when due. And plenty blame is due here when it comes to skimmer decisions.

If such a basic emergency response component has been so badly handled this time and it is ignored, can we really trust the problem to heal itself? We trusted the government (via MMS) and we see how that's turned out.

We trusted the oil companies ("Can't happen") and we see how that's turned out.

Yes it is a scandal, within a bigger scandal maybe, but a scandal nonetheless and should be brought out into the open. Else it will only happen again.

Old Fisherman, would you do your co-readers here a favor, please, and leave the "new" markers off your cut-and-pastes of comments? Searching the page for news via that marker (with brackets), we have to keep revisiting you -- which, instead of winning support, wastes our time and patience. Thanks.

The President (any President) is in charge of the government. The oil well and the clean up are BPs responsibility (as a CODB), and BPs alone. While the President might have made different decisions regarding the skimmers (and we really don't know, what his options or the law, or the ramifications of them are, now do we?), he cannot (except in the case of "Unitary Executive" Presidents) act outside the laws and/or regs Congress passed. He is dependent on the industry to direct his subordinates. That's what happens in a Corporatist system.

I guess you want him standing on the shore directing operations through a megaphone, making the right call every time, and personally steering the ROVs.

And I think you should have read previous posts here from people with actual experience with skimmers that work in the North Sea before posting.

I go to the web site of Koseq the manufacturers and look at the pictures and read the explanations of how the booms work and draw my own conclusions.

The best those booms can do in the GOM oil slick is in the low 100s of barrels per day, unless they operate very close to the leak origin.

From the main article:

"12. Drillers must be empowered to have the confidence and authority to close the well in if they have any suspicions that a well might be flowing. Close the well in first – ask questions later."

Do the four phone calls from the floor minutes before the explosion, or some other evidence, suggest there was hesitation from the driller here?

I stumbled upon these quote from a McClatchy story:

"At least three times during the day, the crewmen aboard the Bankston were startled by sudden loud noises as bursts of pressure were released from the rig.

At about 5 p.m., the pressure tests were done on the newly cemented well. Something was wrong.

First, a test signaled that gas might have been leaking into the well. Another test found a "disturbing pressure imbalance."

Oddly, the story jumps from there without talking about what they did from there. I believe there was a third test that came back okay, or was interpreted as such?

In retrospect, were those two tests possibly/probably accurate?

"At least three times during the day, the crewmen aboard the Bankston were startled by sudden loud noises as bursts of pressure were released from the rig.

Ok Guys this is an easy one. More than likely not a big deal at all. This is a floating rig a semi submersible, it floats so they have to compensate for that when working on a well thats stationary. The semi sub releases pressure when bleeding down it's compensator. The compensator helps the rig drilling package to stay in one place when the entire ship moves up and down with the seas. During certain well operations it's standard procedure to be either on or off of the compensator, sometimes with no regard to the sea conditions.

At this part of the well the Horizon would have used the compensator a good bit and when they bleed them off it sounds like the world is coming to an end. This had nothing to the end that the Horizon and 11 of it's crew members came to, it's just a very loud but normal part of operations on a floating rig.

The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance
Watch their absurdly paranoid video asserting environmentalism is "without doubt one of the greatest threats to society" today.

According to disclosures, CFACT is funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, which are rooted in wealth from Gulf Oil and steel interests.

A soothing bedtime lullaby for BP's top management:


Senior Senate Dem to unveil plans to overhaul offshore drilling
By Ben Geman - 06/19/10 08:10 PM ET
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) plans to unveil legislation next week that would overhaul federal oversight of offshore oil-and-gas drilling and impose new safety standards.

Bingaman is readying the bill ahead of plans by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring wide-ranging energy legislation to the floor as soon as July.

Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker declined Friday to provide details about Bingaman’s bill, but suggested it will be expansive. “It will address all the things which are in the scope of our committee's jurisdiction,” Wicker said.


Hayward was conspicuously absent from a gathering of global oil industry leaders on Saturday in St Petersburg, Russia, where his company's woes were a constant topic of discussion.

In fact, he was spending time with his teenage son watching a yacht race around the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of Britain, after almost two months away from home and family, according to BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams.


This excerpt is from an article headlined "Gulf Coast residents brace for more oil", http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1416392020100620

Well I don't fault him for this disaster and I don't fault him for the fact that BP's bureaucracy along with the US governments bureaucracy SUCKS.

I fault the guys closer to the wellhead and in Houston for the blowout. The clean up and the project to get the well under control doesn't need Tony Hayward to be sitting in Houma, Venice, Fourchon, or on the DD-3 on a 24/7 basins for it to work any differently.

I would actually rather he and other BP people out of the way of the Wild Well guys on the DD-2 and the DD-3 drilling rigs.


US governments bureaucracy SUCKS.

And no part of our government has been more corrupt longer than the Interior Dept.

I agree regarding keeping them out of Wild Well's way and out of the face of the lead DD. I'm sure he told them to sit in worms corner- "you talk when I ask". I didnt know who had the contract but they have been on my mind ever since they spudded DD 3. Someday maybe we will hear the full story on what is going on the DD 3 at present - maybe you have connections that know. I don't care to know now - just that they get it done. The whole damn country ought to say a prayer for these guys. I know I do every night.

Hayward is probably in a form of shock and looked medicated to me at the hearing. He's probably going to be in a straight jacket in short order.

FE -
Every night , I am glad I'm not making a trip in that derrick. But I am an ole' man now, and if I was 26 , that's exactly where I'd want to be. I bet there's some really sharp worms working those tours.

I'm sure that their sharp and most in their twenties but I bet there is not one worm on board either DD 3 or DD 2. During my twenties I cheated death three times so I know what you are talking about- Id be there myself.

My thoughts have been on the directional hands which technically this is a straightforward job (for those that specialize in relief wells). It is the bitching and moaning and distraction that could take place from others. These guys have to focus on the job at hand.

Wildbourgman was hesitant in previous message thread regarding how they were going to kill. No mill or drill he said. My guess, based on his comment is that they would have to run along side and perf into the wild well. That would penetrate anything in the well bore: cement-casing-liner-drill pipe- junk.

Rockman: If your listening drink one for me. Im still a couple of weeks at least before I can raise one. But when I do I'll make a toast to you. We had a motor part out here and have been fishing for two days. Hence the time I've had to make a few comments.

Did 'na know ye culd DO that!

If you remember where the comment was, could you post a link?

I'd prefer if he and his family were out in some bay or bayou with buckets, rags, and Dawn detergent cleaning up the mess from which they derive profit to a greater extent than anyone else. The waterman of the Gulf coast are doing just that. Why isn't he?

It is best that Hayward not return to Louisiana. The shooter would probably get a similar sentence:



About to shut it down tonight but want to pass on some personal thoughts. Shortly after the blow out (and I recovered from the grief) TOD was a great boost to my ego. I’ve seldom been one of the smartest guys in the room especially in a room with so few experienced folks. But now…not so much. In the last two months much has changed. We’ve got a lot more oil patch hands hanging around now and thus more folks who understand my love affair with Blue Bell ice cream. But more importantly most of the regulars as well as many newbies have taken the bits and pieces thrown out and have researched and educated themselves to an impressive degree IMHO. Then we can add expertise brought in from other fields.

I’m sure the TOD staff has taken well deserved delight in the comments regarding what an asset TOD has become to the general public. Hey…who doesn’t appreciate a kiss *ss especially when the pucker is directed at them. I know I do. But now it feels that TOD has reached a critical mass and perhaps is become a self propagating entity that will continue to grow once the current nightmare is resolved to some degree. I hope so. As bad as the current situation is in the GOM right now the future may also hold more nightmares as we slip farther down the PO slope.

So I raise my last sip of B&B on the rocks to all here and salute you each and every one. As we simple say in the oil patch: you’re good hands.

RM -

Don't worry, I'll still tell your Mamma , you play piano in whorehouse.

Rockman: Thanks. Sleep well. You provide both education and entertainment. That's the way it should be.

Back atcha, Rockman. I've done some geophysical surveying in the Gulf but I'm by no means an oil man, so I've learned plenty (including from you--your safety regulation plan is an A+ in my opinion) even by infrequently following the discussion here. Not only about some of the mechanics of drilling for and producing oil, but also very intelligent interpretation of the live images, with insights many miles beyond anything receiving at-large media play. I'm reminded of some of the chat threads I monitored when the Russian nuclear sub Kursk went down about a decade ago--the submariners online debunked the reports within hours and had plenty to say about likely conditions before and after the accident.

One small aside on the Coast Guard going after the flames with water--they were just doing what they knew how to do, with the tools they had. It's similar in my mind to the (somewhat mindless) application of dispersants to any suitable oil, and the useless booming of miles of straight sandy beach. (You want to save your bayous, Jindal? Triple-boom the inlets and staff them with people to tend the booms and remove the oil caught! Forget the berms.) I'm reminded, concerning the fire, of the USS Forrestall fire during Vietnam. The initial explosion killed the fire crew, and those remaining fought the flames bravely. They brought them somewhat under control with the dry chemicals--but when those ran out, more volunteers just kept on dumping in water. Only that was the worst thing they could have done--the water swept away the chemical sealing off oxygen from the heat source, and the fire grew worse again.

As several have said--a gigantic rig with no propulsion would have snapped the riser by drifting. Not only is it uncertain where and how the well/riser assembly would have broken apart under such tension, but what then of the drifting rig itself? Unless it were scuttled by the military, it would have made landfall eventually...very likely the Coast Guard made the positive decision to sink it on the spot. (And I do realize now that the conclusion of my third paragraph does somewhat contradict my second...but I'm not sure. And I guess, as I typed, I persuaded myself that the Coast Guard did in fact know what it was doing and why.)

I’ve seldom been one of the smartest guys in the room

(Why do I have trouble believing this?)

It's true swifty. I've always tried to work with people smarty than me. Allows for more BB ice cream breaks.

31 winters ago, somewhere above Morgan, Utah ........ The first rig I ever ran, # 105.
Working for Mountain Geophysical . She was a piece of junk when I got her. I put snow shoes on her leveling rams . The crew was run by a bunch of Crackers from Mississippi, it was a holy shit moment for those boys. They didn't know snow could be packed. We flew an extra 10 feet of pipe to make up for drilling in deep snow. Note the cap box in the helper's hand off in the distance.
The highest hole I ever drilled was at 10,300 feet on the west end of the Unitas on a Texaco contract. It took 4 moves to advance the drill. That support basket on the left would kill your ass coming down through the tall trees, knocking off branches and such.

The real problem that has yet to come, is the water plants in FLA. , and else where that treat seawater. Tampa has the largest in North American ( 26 million gallons a day ?). I can't believe that Corexit 9500, and crude oil are very good for their filters.

That thing has been delayed for years and I do not know if they ever hit 25M. I think it has been up a year leading me to believe current sources are in place still and could provide for a large percent of need.

I asked this question to myself the first week of the saga. Went and looked for a night or so. Several dozen plants in the way. The one at Tampa is paired with a coal fired power plant that uses sand and Diatomaceous earth in the filters. That plant was real long drawn out fight. I don't think that they are ready for this "unseen oil" that are the dispersant and crude .
Waiting for the Tampa press to ask the same question.

That is a question that TOD should ask ......... What happens to the filter systems and membranes of desalination plants that take in Corexit 9500, and crude in less than parts per million ? Because there's no way they won't suck it up sooner or later.

Bigger brains than mine will have this answer.

One option is to place an activated carbon trap in the intake line to capture dissolved organic material ( eg crude oil components and dispersant components ). This technique is often also used to capture trace organics that may taint municipal or industrial water processes, both in feeds and products.

Calgon Corporation is one common supplier.

If the hydrocarbon and dispersant are undissolved or emulsified, there are physical separation techniques that can be used, including flocculation/filtration/adsorption.
I suspect most water users would be actively looking at their intake systems.

The lede on the HufPo tonight :
Karzai Says Japan Gets 'Priority' On Mining Vast Mineral Deposits

From the same people that gave hookers and cash to overturn the hunting whales again.

The resource hunt is moving into a whole new phase, Buckle your chin straps kids.


I was looking for something else but found this. Somewhat funny IMO but maybe it´s because I´m a Swede.


A question that no one seems to ask or answer is this....Mr. Hayward has repeatedly indicated they cannot cap the well because "the pressures would be too high". Fundamentally, the pressures of capping the well now would not be any greater than the pressures encountered if the BOP had done its job. The BOP shuts off the line, period. So this begs the question; if you cannot withstand the pressures now, you could not have withstood them in normal operation. This implies that BP has developed a new method of drilling that disables the BOP to allow them to use much simpler and less expensive or time-consuming casing methods that would work fine as long as two things did not happen. One, that no one ever closed the line 100% or that the rig did not collapse and break the line to the surface. If you violate the former rule, the well explodes hydraulically below the ocean floor making it an irretrievable leak and if you violate the latter rule, it creates a leak you must attempt to kill by relief wells. Sounds like a risk trade-off gone bad.
I wonder how many other wells of their 13,000+ wells were built in this same way. The modifications it appears BP has made to their BOP's are consistent with this approach to building a well with no chance for backup or shutdown.
If this is true, then the relief wells are really the only answer......only problem is that in a TV special this weekend on the BP expert crew working on the well were asked about the relief wells and they indicated candidly they were worried about whether they could produce enough pressure to actually block the leak. BP's own people showed explicit uncertainty in their plan and a review of the detailed hydraulics shows why.
Either BP is circumventing proper well construction and safety methods purposely to shorten schedule and cut costs or they are mistaken about the ability to shut off the leak. Neither is acceptable, but more importantly for us all is who else has become as clever as BP in building their wells.

I am neither expert nor oilman, but from many sources, the problem with capping the well that BP is referring to is with suspected damage to the casing down the well-bore that would have been prevented had the BOP done its job. In fact, it has been suggested, [in previous threads,] that the top-kill attempt was run more for diagnostic purposes in order to get an estimate of the extent of the suspected damage.

Having said that, I have a couple of related questions that have been bugging me:

1) If, as Dr Bea suggested, the blowout was caused by a failure at the "shoe" of the well and this "shoe" is seriously damaged, how will that affect the chances of success for the relief wells?

2) The reason top-kill failed is assumed to be the structural damage to the well allowing the ballast mud to escape into the surrounding rock. How likely is it that there is sufficient structural damage at depth that the relief well fails?

Apologies in advance if I haven't got the terminology correct..... [or if the question are typical noob questions.]

In Italy we still use roads made in stones by Romans 2000 years ago.
It takes much longer to make a road like that and it doesn’t allow huge speed for cars, but it lasts forever.
It is like Chinese goods compared to good quality goods.
They are much cheaper, but you are lucky if they last one week...
We have to learn to make good, long lasting goods.
I honestly begin to be fed up to change my appliances every year.
It is a waste of money, of time and mostly of resources.
We drawn in garbage and our life is getting hell.

I've spent a few hours over the past several days looking at comments on this site and still haven't found this info: What is the size of the Macondo deposit? I've seen the best-guess estimate of reservoir pressure @ 13,000 psi but still haven't located any info regarding the size. Thanks

50M bbl
please don't ask me where i read that...

Hayward said 50M during the Stupak hearing.

hydro -- Don't have the link handy but BP put out a very detailed report on the reservoir character. They actually got an accurate reservoir pressure with a wire line tool (MDT). It's 11,900 psi or a MW equivalent of 12.6 ppg.

Does the casing works like a concrete vibrator while drilling a well?

If I got it right there is mud on the seafloor. And there is nothing but mud several hundred feet down. While drilling I assume there are a lot of vibration forces that cause the casing to vibrate if there is no rock and cement stopping it which is the case for the upper part of this well. If so the mud near the well will be compacted. The casing works like a concrete vibrator regarding the surrounding mud. That could be a possible explanation for the "mud-crater" near the wellhead (some 6-8 feet wide).

If there is oil/gas leaking to the outside of the casing downhole, it will NOT flow straight up to the wellhead due to the compacted mud. Instead the oil/gas will find an easier path some distance away from the wellhead where the mud is less compacted. Maybe 50-100 feet or more away and will seep up in a big circle around the wellhead.

When passing through several hundred feet of mud I can imagine that the hydrocarbons have time enough to mix with the mud and form a "hydrocarbonmud" or a mixture of "methane-mud" and "oil-mud" or some other kind of stuff that I can´t imagine. But I can imagine that the slimy threads we have looked at for a week or so are some sort of hydrocarbonmud-threads seeping up in a circle many feet wide. The amount of threads is increasing IMO and that is an indication of more and more oil/gas coming up from a leak downhole. The threads usually seems to be white instead of brown or black like oil, but if mud is involved the light color is what you can expect. If I´m right about this there could be serious implications for the bottom kill process.


I will be glad if someone tell me that I´m completely wrong. Or, as we say at least in Sweden, that I´m out bicycling.

Kind regards from Sweden.

I do not have the expertise to say whether you are correct, but I do have significant training in both heavy engineering, [shipyard apprentice] and physics, [University and some CERN related research.] To me the basic premise sounds plausible and seems to fit in with the location data of the proposed sea-floor leaks.

At lot would depend on the rotation frequency of the drill. I imagine that, under normal circumstances, it is a fairly low frequency rotation and as a result the transmitted energy would not be sufficient to generate the crater. But there is a caveat to this:

Because of the blow-out, the oil/gas mixture is escaping under high pressure this would act like a church organ; creating lots and lots of high frequency harmonics, et voila, we have the energy to generate the effects noted.

I also agree with the impression that there seems to be more and more sea-floor leaks being reported?

Thanks Irvine. I think you are right. Only during a blow-out there will be enough energy availble. But it seems I´m still on track.

I have thougt a little more on this. The source of the threads can´t be far away from the wellhead (like several miles). In that case the threads would be everywhere but the ROV feeds are sometimes showing almoust no threads but in other feeds there are a lot of them. And with a source far away there would be threads higher up in the water column because the density of the threads do not differ from the density of water. They are following the currents perfectly well both vertically and horisontally but only a few threads can be seen at the top of the BOP.

And only in a perfect world (laboratory world) it have to be a circle of seeps. I think it doesn´t have to be a complete circle, maybe a quarter of a circle or just an area.

Of course it not have to be oil in the threads, but if so the oil not have to come from a leaking well downhole. But right now I don´t have any other explanation that fits to all my observations. I hope someone else has.

Kind regards from Sweden.

Just taking a first look at the ROV video feeds for a first time for a week, and I've a couple of questions for the people who know about these things if any are around..? (I'm watching the Skandi subsea 7 feed. I haven't really watched it since before the Q4000 kill line was turned up.)

1. There seems to be a lot more of the white coloured material in the plume; those are methane hydrates forming as the hot oil and gas hits the cold water, aren't they? Was this the cause of yesterday's suspension of the collection process?

2. Something I don't remember seeing when I spent hours watching: long white strands of some sort of stringy stuff. It appears at the bottom or side of the picture, and drifts lazily across the view. Sometimes it gets caught up by the ascending oil plume, sometimes they drift out to the sides. It looks something like hot chewing gum. What the hell is it (or are they)? It's driving me nuts trying to think what it could be.

Looks to me like dispersion chemical.

Thanks, olemanagain. I don't remember seeing it clump up like that before, but then I only really saw the Skandi dispersant ops feeds where it was being injected directly into the flow. Or perhaps the combination of products being used was changed. Hmmm.. Enterprise ROV 2 seems to be doing a perimeter fly around and lots of chunks of this stuff are visible hanging in the water some distance from the LMRP cap, mebbe 10m or so at a guess.

Would y'all be interested in a story datelined "ABOARD THE DEVELOPMENT DRILLER II"?


Circular firing squad update

Oil spill: BP to sue partner in Gulf oil well
Legal action aims to share clean-up costs as Anadarko is accused of 'shirking' responsibilities over spill


This will likely be one of the biggest Mothers of All Legal battles ever seen. Anadarko probably has its corporate life on the line. They'll gut BP and leave them hamging on the fence if that's what it takes. I had originally guessed that BP might try to settle w/Anadarko on the side. I take the BP suit as an indication those negotiations hit a fatal wall.

Obama officials still approving flawed Gulf drilling plans

At no point did any of the moratoriums cease the use of (categorical exclusions)," Suckling said. "They're cueing up all these drilling projects with no environmental review, so they're just sitting at the starting line" until the ban ends.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/18/96185/federal-approval-still-flowi...

For Sunday editions lately, Ben Raines, environment reporter for the Mobile Press-Register, has been working underwater with a videocam. Here, just off Bon Secour, Alabama (where the sharks are having a jubilee on oxygen-seeking minnows), he catches an image that he reckons "sort of tells us where we are":

This morning's Observer (UK broadsheet, left-ish sister paper of the Guardian) reports:

BP 'to divest all North Sea assets' in dramatic attempt to reduce its costs

Oil company is looking to axe £9.5bn in spending in order to sustain profitability amid the costs of the US oil spill


I don't think the general population of the UK have realised that North Sea production peaked over a decade ago[1]; it'll be interesting to see what the scholarly, well-read savants who write front pages for the gutter press make of this next week, if the story's right.

[1] EDIT: North Sea production data, charts: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/northsea.htm

(In other news! Another slick PR move from Tony Hayward - his first day off since April 20th turned out not to be: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1287925/BP-oil-spill-boss-Tony-H... D'OH! )

Halliburton, the contractor hired by BP to cement the well, warned BP that the well could have a "SEVERE gas flow problem" if BP lowered the final string of casing with only six centrali zers instead of the 21 recommended by Halliburton. BP rejected Halliburton's advice to use additional centralizers. 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."

10 hours to install 15 additional centralizers? Do they bring the ROV's up to the rig floor to install them?

rio -- The centralizers are installed on the drill floor by the csg crew. With a little planning putting centr. on wouldn't take extra time. Can put them on while the csg is on the rack but need to elevate the csg to do so. Otherwise they have to do it after they PU the csg.

Having worked on rigs most of my life I knew all that. I was just tryimg to inject a bit of humor with the ROV comment. As far as time to get them there that comes under the heading of plan ahead. They should of been aware of the need when the ordered the casing string, besides don't helicopters provide fast hot shot services.

That probably reflects time required to get additional centeralizers to the rig from shore.

That makes more sense. Thanks.

good morning ladies and gentlemen, and a special tip of my starbucks coffee to rockman. I have been educated here, and by him. He is the Yoda of TOD.

From yesterday and the discussion about the mudlog, (could that chart be reposted?? cut and paste didn't work for me...)

It seems that the lead article was therefor wrong. Semple stated that the equipment was bypassed and the rig was 'blind'when the blowout occured. It was not, as you can see from the log. It is all very clear. This is not what Rockman called as stepping unaware in front of a train. The train was hooting, the guard rails were down and flashing.

Second observation: There seems to be time for the kill sheet to be launched. There was well over 1 hr. Now, you don't step up to that as soon as the needles move, but it seems that nevertheless, time was not short. Agreed?

cap -- I think the chart you're refering to was not a mud log but a digital display of drilling parameters. The mud log display is rather simple and contains much less info. I don't think we've had confirmation that ML had been rigged down. Just speculation on my part but a good bet IMHO.

Yoda hell! By his own Humble admission, he a god of TOD! That means he can have blue bell ice cream for breakfast, if he so desires! I remember driving to work one morning with a severe hangover crossing the tracks. No lights flashing and no guard rails down. When I heard that engine's horn blow, I damned near pissed my pants! It wasn't all that close, but my hangover was gone! I am real careful crossing tracks to this day!