BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Improving the Clean-up - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6637.

One of the more innovative recent technical advances that you have likely never heard of is called Hydro-excavation. It combines the use of a water stream of the sort you find at a car wash (i.e. 2,000 psi water at about 2 gpm) with a vacuum hose attached to a vacuum truck. It turns out to combine into a new tool that is quite effective for disaggregating soil and removing it to leave a relatively dry cavity down to significant depth, quite fast. It has a lot of advantages if you are excavating in an area where there are fiber-optic cables and other underground conduits that might take unkindly to the use of a back-hoe, (including gas lines).

I mention this, because there is a certain amount of the clean-up now going on in the Gulf that can be done with waterjet lances, and some parts of the spill can be cleaned up with suction hoses. (And I have some experience with both, courtesy of helping in the development mentioned in the first paragraph). One of the classes that I have taught involved the use of pressure washers in a demonstration laboratory that supported the class lectures. So I thought I would take a moment to mention some of the things that need to be considered when using pressure wands and suction hoses.

The first obvious, but neglected point, is that the operator rarely can judge exactly where the tip is relative to the surface being cleaned. This is actually quite critical because the average pressure wand comes with a fan tip on the end. The tips come with different angles of dispersion of the jet, and having photographed a fair number, most jets are about 5 degrees broader than the jet pattern stamped into the nozzle. The second point is the one that is usually missed, but which relates to the distance of the nozzle from the surface.

When the jet comes out of a fan jet nozzle, the shape of the nozzle forms the stream into a sheet that gets wider with distance. Because the volume of water coming out at one time doesn’t change, the jet therefore gets thinner the further that it gets away from the jet.

Flash Picture of a fan jet

With a typical nozzle (usually called a tip) the sheet gets thin enough somewhere between 2 and 4 inches that the sheet perforates, and just as with a balloon when it pops, the material pulls back from the hole. In the case of the water sheet, this creates circles of larger droplets that continue to move forward. It is at this point that the jet is at its most effective, in many applications.

However, those droplets that are moving originally at about 550 ft/sec are moving into air that is relatively stationary. It breaks these large droplets up and decelerates them over the next couple of inches. As a result, the jet becomes virtually powerless within about 6-inches of the nozzle. (The distance varies with nozzle manufacturer, design flow rate and operating pressure – but that distance is typical). If you hold the nozzle further away from the target than that you are merely getting the surface wet, and not moving anything but surface dirt.

The problem that you, as an operator, have is that it is very difficult to judge that 6-inches. (Making it easy to “catch the student in error” at the beginning of the lab and reinforce the lesson). So the simple way to resolve the problem, is to touch the target surface before you start, position your feet accordingly, and then back the lance off a little and you are likely to be much more effective.

Having cleaned a wall of my house with an 18-ft extension lance to the normal pressure washer last week, I can also add that trying to maintain a 2-4 inch standoff while holding the lance above your head is an art that has to be learned.

OK, now the next problem is that most of the material being removed is going to be some form of hydrocarbon (oil. Oil emulsion or something similar). Some of these are quite sticky and hard to remove with just water pressure. In this case if the water is heated to about 185 deg F it will cut through and remove those coatings a lot more easily than at a lower temperature. You don’t want to heat it all the way to steam, since that loses the pressure of the jet at the nozzle too quickly, but with hot water the range can be extended.

One other way to extend the range is to use a spinning round jet nozzle (sometimes called a 0 deg tip). There are a number of these on the market and the cone of the jet is created by rapidly spinning the cylindrical jet that comes out of the nozzle. Depending on the quality of the nozzle (and diameter and pressure) these can increase the jet range to a foot or more. If you work out the amount of energy and water required to clean a surface both our group and some folks in Germany have shown that using this rather than a fan-jet can drop the amount of energy and water that you use to clean that surface by up to 90%.

The final point I want to make deals with the use of suction hoses. These are now appearing more frequently in some of the locally made systems being fielded along the Gulf. While the same basic argument about the operator not knowing where the tip is, still applies, there is a different reason as to why this is important.

In most cases the object is to pull a relatively thin film of oil from the surface of the water. The ideal place to hold the end of the hose is just above the oil: water level (less than half-an-inch). The air drawn into the gap helps pull the surface layer into the hose, and you don’t pull in a lot of water.

Unless you have really good control of your position (bearing in mind you are looking along the hose at the water) this is very hard to sense. If you push the hose into the water hardly at all then you pull in too much water and not that much oil.

If you tilt the hose then it tends to pull in a lot of air, and not a whole lot of water or oil.

The best way to control the position is to have the end of the hose attached to a piece of foam that will float and in this way the mouth of the nozzle can be placed where you want it. It is easier to do this if you bend the hose so that most of it is lying on the foam, and not pushing it into the water, but in this way, depending on the amount of oil, you can slide the nozzle up and down in the foam to get the best distance to recover the oil.

That half-inch distance is fairly critical for best performance, especially if you can keep just below it. (Yeah we actually did experiments where we adjusted it).

There are now whole books on this technology, and some safety recommendations on how to use some of the equipment, as the industry continues to grow. Hopefully this has been of some help. What one learns in one application can be quite usefully applied, often in others.

Flow recovery update from the Gulf:

For the first 12 hours on June 20 (midnight to noon), approximately 6,790 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,280 barrels of oil and 23.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• On June 19, total oil recovered was approximately 21,040 barrels:
• approx. 11,050 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 9,990 barrels of oil were flared,
• and approx. 43.4 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Prof. Goose's comment:

A continued humble and sincere thank you to all who have donated thus far. It will help us pay for the fourth server we brought online to accommodate the increased traffic. (See point 3 below.)

1. The Oil Drum is a special place. We strive to maintain a high signal to noise ratio in our comment threads. Short, unengaging comments, or comments that are off topic, are likely to be deleted without notice. (to be clear--engaging, on point humor and levity, more than welcome.)

We are trying to perform a service to the public here to coordinate smart people who know their stuff with other people who want to learn about what's going on. Promotion of that ideal will be the criteria by which we make our decisions about what stays and what goes.

Flame wars, polemic exchanges, and other content deleterious to the community will be removed, either by an editor or by the community through its moderation process.

2. If you see a problematic comment USE THE COMMENT MODERATION SYSTEM--see the "Flag as inappropriate" and (?) beside it? Learn more there. If you see comments that are questionable after you've done that (that aren't being removed), let us know at the eds email address.

It is up to this community to enforce the norms we have established here (a high signal to noise ratio), keep. it. up.

Our guide to commenting at TOD can be found here: http://www.theoildrum.com/special/guidelines . Please check it out if you are unfamiliar with it, but it is essentially 1) citations welcome (if not necessary), 2) be kind to others, and 3) be nice to the furniture.

3. We have gotten a lot of queries whether this bump in traffic is adding costs to keep the site functioning. Truth is, yes, we are incurring added expenses from these events. It is also true that we try not to beg from you very often as we are not the types to bother you with constant queries.

That being said, if you are inclined to help out, your support is always welcome and very much appreciated. To those who have already given, thank you very much.

You can find the donate button in the top left hand corner of the main page.

4. If you have come here to vet your plan to kill the well, understand that you will be queried on whether or not you have read the other 10 previous comment threads and all the myriad plans that have already been run by the kind folks in this room; if you have actually read all 10 comment threads and still think your plan has legs, well, then maybe yours really is the one that will save the Gulf of Mexico.

This is not to say that well considered questions about current attempts and modifications to those attempts are not welcome; they are. But try to place them in context and in what's actually going on, as opposed to your MacGyver dream solution where you have a 10 megaton bomb, an ice pick, and Commander Spock at your side.

5. Also, if you're looking for live chat to talk about the ROV/LMRP video, etc., and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

(google MIRC and download it; Hit the lightening bolt and fill in your info; select the server as "freenode" (it is in the server list), hit connect; when connected type /join #theoildrum)

or you can get there just via a browser: http://webchat.freenode.net / Just enter a nickname and #theoildrum in the boxes; then when connected type /join #theoildrum)

6. Don't be afraid to go back and read the last couple of open threads yesterday and today before you start on this thread. They are really good, and will likely catch you up if you have been out of the loop for a while. We shut down threads when we get to 300-400 comments, as it's really unmanageable. Lots of good stuff in there though.

"5. Also, if you're looking for live chat to talk about the ROV/LMRP video, etc., and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum"

Please be advised, #theoildrum IRC permits nowhere near the latitude of discussion permitted here. Discussion is pretty much limited to play-by-play BP actions, ROV actions, ROV video feed issues, etc, and constant inane inquires like "Uhhhh... what's a BOP?"

Go outside that and you're likely to be kicked off by their team of Nazi video-game mentality mods.

Pretty disgusting in my view, hardly worthy of "theoildrum" name.

On a different note, I'm proudly wearing one of my new CRAW T-shirts, doing my part to support this site.

Maybe I'm dumb, but searching Google, Cafepress, etc. failed to produce a CRAW T-shirt. Can you post a link - please?
All hail THE CRAW!

Moved from very end of previous thread for additional comment:
I asked a cleanup worker today what is being done with the contaminated sand, he told me it is being recycled. I said really, who would want oil contaminated sand? He told me road builders, they use it to make asphalt road topping. I thought about it for a second and it seemed like a good idea to me. Has anyone heard about this? This is a good idea, right? We will not start having major increases in cancer clusters because of this, will we? I would think asphalt road topping is already carcinogenic in most forms. I guess that is why Europe uses cold chemicals.


Are they recycling the oil or the sand? There is a process for burning oil soaked sands and the product is sterile sand. No good for the garden but is used for road building.

They shovel the sand and oil in the same shovelful. They put the mixture in a plastic sandbag. They haul off the now full of sand and oil mixture plastic sandbags. I doubt they do more than screen it before introducing it to the asphalt mix. It is a hot process.

Yes indeed, it's called sand asphalt and it is used for low volume roads. Sand is mixed with a certain % of asphalt, plus some small diameter aggregate, and used to either patch holes or resurface a road. Since the sand already has oil in it, they wouldn't need to add much more asphalt/oil to it in the plant.

Are they removing benzene, etc ??

Interesting camera watching.
Live feed from Enterprise : ROV 1 is showing dust bunnies.

A bedtime lullaby for those who "grew up in Nawlins":


This comment last thread from "Oiltox" was slightly disturbing:

"What I do know is that the metals will accumulate over time in most of the fish. Basically I would not reccomend eating any fish from the whole of the Atlantic even 10 years from now."

Anyone care to comment before this starts to show up mainstream? There goes the theory that oil tar is less toxic than road tar. Perhaps those dispersants should not be used, after all. Instead, I think it's time to enlist ghostbuster squads to smother dispersants on the world's 100 largest banks and corporations. Every one of them could likely wage war on the US and win.

I don't recall seeing the updated Joye blog mentioned yesterday or today, but Joye has an interesting discussion on toxicity.http://gulfblog.uga.edu/
The MSDS sheets for Corexit 9527 & 9500 are in her resource page.

I know that the Thomas Jefferson report was mentioned in part one of this thread, but it bears repeating, especially in the context of Joye's discussion. Would really like to hear more about the acoustic anomaly mentioned therein. Can someone discuss/explain in more detail?

In re fish
"The Coast Guard seized about 30,000 pounds of shrimp apparently taken from an area in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast that is closed to fishing because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill..."

I have the feeling bootleg fish from contaminated areas will become a serious problem.

I wanted to bring the following forward from the closed thread.
Looking for the expert opinions of the working man.

“They damn near blew up the rig.”
In fact, according to documents in the administration's possession, BP was fighting large cracks at the base of the well for roughly ten days in early February.

See ...

Goldman Sachs sold 4,680,822 shares of BP in the first quarter of 2010. Goldman’s sales were the largest of any firm during that time. Goldman would have pocketed slightly more than $266 million if their holdings were sold at the average price of BP’s stock during the quarter.

Tony Hayward cashed in about a third of his holding in the company one month before a well on the Deepwater Horizon rig burst, causing an environmental disaster.

Anyone on this site willing to speak off-the-record or get me or a hired video hand to a sensitive location to do some documentation? I think TOD has my email address.

I think you might be more successful just moving down here and taping what is going on. There is no vast hidden conspiracy. I remember from communications school that conflict is what sells. If you could get into the operations center, maybe compelling, but probably illegal and harmful to the process. You could go offshore, but then how and why. You try to go to the site, but unless you got into the control room, I wonder what you would see. Again, probably illegal anyways. The conflicts that are occurring are the little ones. Some examples:
1. The Gulf Shores v. The oil - Saving Little Lagoon.
2. Gulf Shores restaurants. Closures? How many? Permanent?
3. Health care? For the workers? For the residents? Any problems
4. Economic relief? Tax relief? How much is BP really paying? Is it even possible for them to pay more than half? 25%?

You get my point. I think trying a 'gotcha' piece on someone doing wrong in this incident may get you a Pulitzer and go viral, but it is a very low percentage play.

Just move down here for 2 months. Rooms are REAL cheap.

I'm getting my Pulitzer for something else.

I am not so interested in those other stories everyone else is doing, because they are just small boaters in the tidal wave to come. It's almost like you could substitute the word "Oil Spill" for "Katrina." I know these are heartbreaking human dramas, but we have a lot of bad story-tellers, and the public is numb with compassion overload.

I guess if I went down there, I would be looking for something like that marine biologist or zoologist going door to door trying to raise money for a Noah's Aquarium. I want to bring reassurance and get instructions. Or I would be looking to find experts really working together to save what's left of the Gulf, so I could witness the flow stop.

When I hear you all complaining about the news media, I agree with you. Problem is, we do not have a real news media in this country anymore. The corporate mega-powers overtook it on the way to conquering our Democracy. For the past 25 years or so, we did not see what was being broken or rigged in government, (by those who do not WANT government) and now we are finding we have to fix it.

It's dangerous to do real news in today's newsrooms in the same way it might be dangerous for one of you oil-types to go vocal. A few corporate bosses own almost all news sources. So instead of newspeople, we have spokespeople for Corporate Spokespeople. ...and, as you on this site are able to discern, we have crackpots all over the web. And even when someone tries to do good work online, it's easy to get mistaken for a crackpot.

Plus, there's no immediate paycheck. It's more of a challenge than commission-only sales, because you have to invent and create the product first, and then you even have to worry about being sued for telling the truth.

But if you're really, really good at it, you might become a "man of value," as Einstien would say.

How about a story on all the people willing to donate their time, energy and ideas to help create better tools for dealing with the cleanup. Outsiders(outside of BP) are not able to contribute to the effort to find a faster way to shut it down and the more we hear about how the well was constructed the more we realize that anything above the very bottom of the well cannot be trusted to hold pressure so we are left with the cleanup. I am seeing a lot of the same ideas but no single organized site to groups the ideas into categories so like minded inventors can work out the details in a group forum. No patents...just people wanting to help people survive and get on as best as possible. I've pitched the idea of doing a show around this social inventors idea but no takers yet. Still waiting for the Discovery Channel to call back. They did several nice pieces on my non-profit, The Robot Group and I was thinking doing this one kind of like MythBusters or American Chopper where we attempt to build a better skimmer, sucker, or scoop system to increase the collection rate. I personally have been working on a scoop skimmer idea as well as some sea floor cleaners. Some designs for do it yourself beach booms with wind and wave powered collectors that protect, collect and store the oil with cheap methods so individuals can defend their own sections of beach or wetlands without having to wait for the government or BP to do it for them.
I'm also working on some ideas for a way to use the collected oil as a sort of voucher for a claim, something like; Joe the average guy collects 10 barrels of X oil(oil/water mix to be weighed for density or some other way to quantify a oil content value). Joe then sells oil to refiner who pays him a sum which is part oil value and part clean up value and part punitive damages in claims against BP.
My starting point to all this as it develops is my part of the TRG wiki at
Let me know what you think at brooksdesign@peoplepc.com and please no spam. I have nobody to help me make use of those purple pills or any other enlargement devices.

Anyway, it's not illegal to get everything you can on "private" property unless someone with the authority to do so tells you to leave.

ZEN17 says:

"The Gulf of Mexico will turn into a tar pit once the seabed collapses under the weight of the blowout preventer (450 tons) and the pressure of the oil from the borehole. There will be a mass exodus from the southern states...Mother Earth is wounded."


I hope that this is not satire. It is even better that way.

There are lots of stuff like that, ranging from claiming there are monsters from the underworld that will be released, to abiotic oil, etc. that are being tossed about.

Uh oh.

Going to be clashing of some large and pointy teeth when that thing lands.

Imagine you've got friends over and are barbecuing a mastodon haunch over a magma rivulet and that thing lands on the beer cooler.

A real pisser.

wrb: Thanks for the relief. I agree with Dave Barry: "You can only be young once. But you can always be immature."

Heading Out, and Everyone else that keeps the place running Thank You.

I have not been keeping up with all the threads in the Oil Spill posts, to much time spent in the other TOD key posts, and Drumbeat, so my questions might have been addressed already. But here goes anyway.

The reserve is supposed to be on the order of 100 Million Barrels.

1,At what point will those bits of oil stop flowing on their own?

2, How much erosion can happen in the reserve before the flow channels collapse due to not having oil and gas in there to keep the grains in place?

As I understand it, the reason why the oil is flowing is because it is all under a lot of pressure and you have poked a hole in the pressure vessel and it is flowing out, but it is more complex than that, So the main thrust of this comment/question is. When will the well deplete to the point that it'll stop flowing? We always talk about a % of recoverable oil in a given reserve, so what is the % of oil and gas we will get out of this one?

It seems that there had been a lot of DOOM and GLOOM about the well going on and on for 10 years, and I can't see that happening, without something filling in the spaced left by the oil leaving the well. If I need to go back and read some tech talks just tell me.

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

The oil will keep flowing as long as the reservoir have pressure greater than the oceans above.

It is anybody's guess at this point - but the best guess will come from previous wells in similar formations in the area and how much pressure they had.

Off hand, months is sure, weeks likely, years possible.

Blow Up the Well to Save the Gulf

Latest NYT oped, ex Navy submarine torpedo man (not a geologist, no experience in oil at all) says Navy should be put in charge to blow it up.

"At best, a conventional demolition would seal the leaking well completely and permanently without damaging the oil reservoir. At worst, oil might seep through a tortuous flow-path that would complicate long-term cleanup efforts. But given the size and makeup of the geological structures between the seabed and the reservoir, it’s virtually inconceivable that an explosive could blast a bigger hole than already exists and release even more oil."

Why does NYT give space to this ignorance? Surely there is a better way to sell papers.


You know what killed James Garfield? Most experts believe that the assassin's bullet was survivable, but the doctors kept cutting him open to retrieve the bullet. He died of infection related causes. Let the relief wells work. Blowing wells up right now should be limited to the Middle East, if done at all.

Why does NYT give space to this ignorance? Surely there is a better way to sell papers.

Just count how many folks proposed to bomb/nuke the wellbore in the first 4 to 5 weeks of the crisis in this site? This is American way, we watch way too much movie and TV and bombing is the final solution to most complex problem. One thing that bother me a lot is that the media folk who report the story do not take the time to learn about deepsea drilling. The editor of NYT is acting just like tabloid, they substitute true reporting (which mean that they have to read the report, talk to expert, visit the work site....) with hesay, outrageous claims, fictional story. The goal is to generate as much readers as possible and seeking/reporting truth is never the plan.

The NYT lets all sorts of quacks write on its editorial page. Factual accuracy is not required. It has done some decent reporting, too, though, like the BOP story.

Using a bomb to seal the well may seem crazy, but so does waiting three months for a RW while an Exxon Valdez full of oil is spilled into the Gulf every four days (at 60kbd).

The quickness is not because Americans watch too much tv, it's because we need something quick. All that oil is leaking out!

The big question is whether it can be done safely. We know the us has done a lot of testing on bunker-busting bombs that penetrate rock and have delayed explosions. I imagine well-sealing bombs could be made fairly accurate and to explode at a depth deep enough to seal the well but shallow enough not to endanger collapsing the entire formation, if such possibility exists in the geology. Maybe even if just to seal it long enough to get the RW drilled

But I doubt the military is going to develop a well-sealing bomb. Neither is industry. Too bad. It would be a great solution if it is feasible. Very quick.

The issue is using explosives underwater is qualitatively a different thing than on land.

Whatever explosive power is muted by the high pressures - and given the small diameter of a well bore for the charge, the size of the bomb is limited.

Can it do the job? Maybe. Need someone with expertise in explosive simulations to do some back of the envelope work to see how much is required and whether it can fit inside the bore hole.

I have a real problem with the name calling done by posters on here for the idea put forward by Christopher Brownfield.

His idea is no more (or less) outrageous than many other ideas mooted on here or elsewhere.

True, there are technical issues, and IMHO, given the explosive power required and the risks involved, it would not work (without actually doing the calculations because I don't know how).

His idea can be dissected, discussed, and vetted without resorting to the abusive behavior seen here.

Nah, mauisurfer, he ain't ignorant, Brownfield is a freakin' genius with a magic pen.

With one stroke he kicks out BP and brings in the Navy, and Presto! the problem of collecting the leaking oil just disappears (it must have disappeared, he never mentioned it again).

With a second bold stroke he not only creates a brand new politically correct multi-disciplinary task force, but Abracadabra! they all agree that Brownfield is King and we have to blow up the well. Amazing isn't it? But he saves the best for last.

A final swoosh of the mystic pen creates his special explosive column which is not only buried several thousand feet down in the rock, but miraculously simultaneously it is in open water so it can create a jackhammer effect. And when this special explosive blows, it sends out "a pressure wave of hundreds of thousands of pounds per square inch" which, magically contrary to all prior experience, leaves not a pit of shattered rubble, but no my friends, it creates a "layer of impermeable rock". I think this magic layer is in the shape of a foot, but perhaps Brownfield's genius exceeds my poor ability to comprehend. I am in total awe of this man.

Obviously written by a brat. :-)

There is a problem with nukes (if that's what people are proposing) that has not been brought up yet.

So far, nukes are useful only for killing large civilian populations and for tactical battlefield situations. They are used in war.

Using them to seal a well adds in a beneficial peacetime use. How can we tell Iran to stop building them - all the oil well they have. We can't, and non-proliferation takes a big hit. Nukes would become the new BOP.

Okay... different view just to break the monotony of the gloom.

At a flow rate of 60,000 bbl/day, and an 84% carbon content for crude, and an 18.5% carbon content for living tissue, the current flow from the hole is 1.2 Sauropods per second (ave 25 short tons) or if you are into different units, 6 Tyrannosaurus Rex per second (ave 5 short tons)...

OR// about 234,301,000,000 zooplankton per second.


I don't know if this has been posted before:

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


Looks like the government knew that the well was unstable beforehand.

ment -- Not necessarily dismissing the seriousness of the "crack" issue but from reading the article it appears they had a "lost circulation" problem. Not all of the drilling mud pumped down was returning to the surface. It may have been fracturing a formation in the hole or going into a porous sandstone reservoir. This is a very common problem in drilling many wells and especially true in DW wells. Generally it's a matter of balance between the rock pressure and the pressure of the drilling mud. Too light a mud weight and the rocks flow back oil/NG/water. Let the mud weight get too high and you have lost circulation. As far as anyone knowing "the well was unstable beforehand" I'm sure that's true. Every well drilling in the DW at the time of the blow out was "unstable". That's the nature of drilling. The effort to keep a well stable is constant and always falters at some point. Virtually every well drilled in the DW has a lost circ problem at some point. Often a minor inconvenience. Sometime deadly serious. I once worked on a well that lost 60,000 bbls of mud while drilling 2,500' of hole. The csg capacity was less than 3,000 bbls. A very serious situation and this operator had accepted about the most dangerous circumstances I've seen in 35 years. But from the details I've seen of the BP well their lost circ fell more towards the less serious side of the fence. But I consider this aspect to be a pointless distraction. The BP well could have been drilled with no lost circ and had used the best/most expensive csg design that anyone could come up and we would still have the nightmare going on in the GOM we now see IMHO. The fatal mistake BP made came long after the well stopped drilling. There may be some value in picking apart various protocols BP uses in any of their ops. But it seems, at times, to take the discussion down blind alleys IMHO.

I was wondering about the temporary deep water (>500 feet) drilling ban. If BP had blown out a well in 498 feet of water would the result be any different. As far as I can tell the cause of the blowout had nothing to do with water depth. Would the blow out be already capped if it was in 498 feet of water?

Is the deep water ban more of a political decision than a technical one?

500 feet can be dived by men. It is an extreme depth, but something like an Atmospheric Dive Suit would do the trick. I think the Germans test dove to 500 feet in the First World War, but had some issues of course.

French (Comex) have "dived" down to 700 METERS (using hydrogen).

But could men in a diving suit cap this well? In 1979 they couldn't do it.

Did not say anything about that. Above my pay grade, as they say. You asked what's the difference, I gave you a big one.

Deepest dive with a hard ADS suit is 2,000 ft.


The sea floor there is 5,000 ft.

500 feet is standard saturation depth. Could have had a team of 16 to 18 divers working around the clock (max 4 divers locked out at a time) within probably 24 hours after the rig sank at 500 feet.

All tasks would have been much faster - but probably the same result.

Maximum practical working depth for commercial divers is about 1,000 feet. Deeper working dives (about 1,100 to 1,200 feet) have been done, primarily in Brazil.

Research dives in chambers have been done to over 2,000 feet but the results were pretty poor, just staying alive was about all the divers could do and there were a lot of residual problems, few of the divers who went that deep were able to pass a commercial diving physical afterwards.

I was a sat diver for 22 years and spent time in Brasil where we did 700' x 28 day sats quite often.

Only problem was it took about 28 days to recover from them. Then we did it all over again for another 28 days.

Why subject ourselves to the abuse?


While it is doubtful anything even remotely useful could be done:

Free diving records:

Constant weight 124 metres or about 407 feet

No limits 214 metres or about 702 feet


In the last thread, biodoc wrote:

Here is an interesting tidbit from the EPA website titled "Exemption of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Wastes from Federal Hazardous Waste Regulations", url is
http://www.epa.gov/waste/nonhaz/industrial/special/oil/oil-gas.pdf . Written in the 90's but still up on the EPA site. Wow. Wonder if these policies are still active?

The answer is yes. E&P production wastes have been exempt from RCRA-based regulations since 1980. Since 1987 (additional exemptions added in 2005), they have also been substantially exempt from Clean Water Act regulations.

Edit to clarify dates.

I didn't see chemical dispersants in the list of exempt materials, from a cursory glance. The MSDS mentions RCRA if released into the environment. They might fall under mixed waste, I'd have to re-read it.

Another note on regulation/self-regulation: who writes MSDS sheets? The chemical manufacturer, apparently. "Do not use this product outside of its intended use, call a sales rep." The MSDS doesn't tell you what the intended use is, that I could see.

look's like being an oil company CEO or board member just got a little bit more risky

Preliminary war crimes investigation against Swedish foreign minister Bildt who was sitting in Lundin Petroleum's board between 2000 and 2006, when he took up his ministerial post.

According to the report, Sudanese soldiers in cooperation with militia groups have indiscriminately attacked the civilian population in the area where oil companies were drilling for oil. The report is based on eye witness accounts as well as aerial and satellite images.”


Swedish page


Anybody happen to know if the Rigel or 17 Hands gas fields are in danger of being affected by fluids from the BP stovepipe? I'm not sure where exactly they are at or what their extents are, but according to Rigzone they are in Mississippi Canyon Blocks 296 and 299... but other articles point to a MC-252 location:

"...an in-line PLET was installed at the Rigel well in MC 252..."


The reason I ask is that over the last few days, I've seen what appear to be more gas in the plume... as if I can tell what it is when I see it. I'm referring to the globs of bluish white that you see in the plume.. not the milky dispersant from the nozzles. I have no idea what the pay depth for those two fields are, but if they are contributing to the flow... that would be bad.

The White House Commission investigating BP Blowout has been stacked with liberal greenies who want to get off oil and shut down all drilling in GOM. Deep water exploration/production can be done safely if procedures and equipment are changed.

Need participants (oil companies/contractors/manufacturers/MMS) in the many BP blowout investigations to come clean and honestly tell the facts of this accident (plus the many other past close calls), and not just protect themselves from liability. Let the engineers and operations people present the truth, don’t let the lawyers hide it.

The expected value of an event is the summation of all the individual probabilities times the consequences of those individual events. The oil/gas industry used unrealistic low probabilities (disregarded many BOP failures in deep water) and under estimated the huge environmental/social/economic (could put BP America under) consequences of this blowout event.

No inherent reason exits for the absence of revealing truthful meaningful investigations except the Corporation’s main goal of making money.

Stacked full of people who do not recognize that petroleum is going to be a primary source of fuel for us for decades... and their "green" alternatives are in many ways, a) not any better (in terms of carbon output), or b) EROEI poor.

PQ17: Do you think that Gail's analysis is correct in "What happens when energy resources deplete?". http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6624

If Gail is correct, what, if anything, is to be done?

Or is your conclusion the same as Rockman's "PO is real..in the process of developing to a serious stage....and we are hopelessly screwed."? http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6631

I am going to differ with Gail with respect to several things:

A) long before we hit Peak Oil (as in recognize, not the actual fact), governments will get together and conclude, "we can't have this".

Oil will be a rationed commodity - and open markets for them disappear.

B) debt defaults / recessions

Lets take a look at what happens to debt in serious regime changes in the past.

What we see is debt is sworn off --- e.g. look at Republic of China debts from prior to 1949, or Weimar Republic debts, or debts owed to Britain by pre-1776 USA

All of those are examples where a new regime comes in, repudiates the debt, and after a long enough period, the debts are gone.

Recessions - yes, in the sense that there will be not economic growth in the conventionally measured sense.

However, that is not to say that we cannot live very well.

Lots of places live a very good life on far less resources consumed.

The big issue that is far more likely --- wars.

That is the wild card in the sense that no one wants to talk about this strange and unusual period of world peace we have had since the end of World War II.

It is an anomaly in world history.

PQ17: "The big issue that is far more likely --- wars." Nuclear? Will this be Europe 1618-1648 with nukes added?

If wars generally or Resource Wars, in particular, please then explain "Lots of places live a very good life on far less resources consumed."

Civil war in US over water? Colorado, Las Vegas (pop. 2+ million today), San Joaquin Valley. i.e. Peak Water with Peak Oil.

Based on what I know and am seeing developed, we would regard nuclear war as humane and civilized.

Hitler and his concentration camps would be regarded as no more advanced in his methods than a Roman Legion.

Partial answer.

Next question?

No. Godwin's Law.

Is that the "law" that if one mentions Auschwitz the conversation stops? Is that not a form of holocaust denial?

Please define "liberal greenie."

Let me set you straight, 'cause your thought process appears to be all bent, twisted, and leaking toxins:

If, as you say, "Deep water exploration/production can be done safely if procedures and equipment are changed," why didn't this happen BEFORE the BP bow out? Can't we trust the 'conservatives' and their uberliberalization of the capitalist greed-fest (via deregulation) to do the right thing BEFORE their unbridled lust for wealth puts us all in the poor house? If there's a chance for self-enrichment, these people would drop trou and take a dump in the village well. That, precisely, is why there are laws and regulations that stop these folks from doing just that.

You go on:

"Need participants (oil companies/contractors/manufacturers/MMS) in the many BP blowout investigations to come clean and honestly tell the facts of this accident (plus the many other past close calls), and not just protect themselves from liability. Let the engineers and operations people present the truth, don’t let the lawyers hide it."

These are all virtuous right-wing businessmen — you think they'd lie to protect their own wealth? Do you think they'd compromise their own personal integrity (not to mention their relationship with Jesus) by hiring lawyers to prevent us from knowing what happened? Who would hire lawyers to pressure their employees to do anything BUT tell the truth? Lefty greenies?

You continue:

"The expected value of an event is the summation of all the individual probabilities times the consequences of those individual events. The oil/gas industry used unrealistic low probabilities (disregarded many BOP failures in deep water) and under estimated the huge environmental/social/economic (could put BP America under) consequences of this blowout event."

Underestimated or gambled? Underestimated, or shielded their personal gains from their criminal negligence? The extent of your worries over environmental/social/economic impact is for BP America? What about simply America? Why do you hate America? Are you a word twisting corporatist shill?

You conclude:

"No inherent reason exits for the absence of revealing truthful meaningful investigations except the Corporation’s main goal of making money."

Sure there's an inherent reason, it's called "greed," and that's exactly what the Right-wing is all about: Profits to the corporatocracy, losses to the "little people." If you haven't gotten rich off of this, or the housing bubble, or by the creation and distribution of toxic derivatives, you have been made a fool of. YOU will eat the cost, THEY will take the money.

And you have the nerve to speak of others with disdain.

Typical bamboozled right-wing tool (note: this is not an ad hominem attack, it's an observation that you have been used to make someone else's work easier).

Hi folks - newbie here

First a big thanks to the everyone on this site for providing an intelligent forum for discussing the gulf event and related topics. I have a deep respect for all of the industry pro's who have provided me with energy all my life.

Two areas I'm curious about:

1. The rig. I would imagine that having a look at the rig would provide forensic evidence regarding the rig fire, and that cameras would be sent down to look at it. Am I wrong about this? Do you just leave it down there and not investigate? Are there pictures of the rig? Also, what are the impact effects of a massive rig like DH hitting the sea floor? Could that damage underground wells in the vicinity or create other relevant damage?

2. The drilling plan states that there are two well sites - "MC252 A" and "MC252 B". The blown out well is apparently "B", and there is a comment on the TOD site that says site "A" was abandoned last July ( comment is here http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6572#comment-643984 ). Is "B" the second attempt? And if so, why was "A" abandoned? Is this why the project was behind schedule and over budget?

Thanks in advance for any light you can shine on these questions.

I am sure that there will be an attempt to recover critical parts of the rig -- and any remains that are still on board the rig.

While it is huge (size of an Aircraft carrier), it is not impossible or inconceivable for the wreck to be floated --- if only to be scrapped. The issue will come down to economics and also, if there are such issues as toxic substances leaking out from it.

Probably much higher on the list of things to salvage is the BOP.

As there is now a possibly of a tropical storm or hurricane in the Gulf next week, what would this do to current operation at the site?

Depending on how close / far the storm is, how intense it is and so on.

The equipment on site can be operated up to a certain point --- then they too --- have limits and must seek shelter.

Can a hurricane damage the recovery efforts?
If personnel must leave the site, what can continue?

One of my biggest concerns is how much oil is undersea (not on surface) and what is happening to that oil.

We know that it is being metabolized by microbes, and many of them metabolically generate gases like H2S that are toxic to us.

How much of that gas is stored in water?

Will a Hurricane stir it up and release it in toxic concentrations?

A lot more questions than answers I have.

thanks pq17. youtube user MrDrummerboy65 posted some amazing videos of the rig burning and sinking. they were shot up close from one of the firefighting vessels, on which MrDrummerboy65 was working. unfortunately these videos have been removed. but seeing the damaged rig up close really gave me a sense of the epic scale of this event - here's one that was re-uploaded by another user: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-2OwnKkstE

so after watching those videos i've been trying to imagine what exactly happens to an object on that scale sinking and hitting the sea floor, which from reading this site, i've learned is fairly soft on the top layer. also, after the lockerbie event, re-assembling the airplane shed light on the specifics of how the craft exploded, and i would imagine that there could be similar relevant insight which could be gained by at least looking at the sunken rig with cameras.

I doubt that the other well was ever drilled. Probably a backup in case the primary hole had problems. It takes time to het a new hole permitted (shallow hazards study etc) and so the backup would allow them to not interrupt drilling.

Cold, Dark and Teeming With Life

Published: June 21, 2010

"Now, by horrific accident, these cold communities have become the subject of a quiet debate among scientists. The gulf is, of course, the site of the giant oil spill that began April 20 with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig. The question is what the oil pouring into the gulf means for these deep, dark habitats.

Seep researchers have voiced strong concern about the threat to the dark ecosystems. The spill is a concentrated surge, they note, in contrast to the slow, diffuse, chronic seepage of petrochemicals across much of the gulf’s northern slope. Many factors, like the density of oil in undersea plumes, the size of resulting oxygen drops and the potential toxicity of oil dispersants — all unknowns — could grow into threats that outweigh any possible benefits and damage or even destroy the dark ecosystems.

Last year, scientists discovered a community roughly five miles from where the BP well, a mile deep, subsequently blew out. Its inhabitants include mussels and tube worms. So it seems that researchers will have some answers sooner rather than later. "


We have injected food (petroleum) into a vast, little known, ancient ecosystem that have many components that date from the earliest times on earth.

What are the effects?

Can we cause a bloom of cyanobacteria (toxic and poisonous to most of us)?

A vast open air experiment is now being run to address these questions.

Lets hope my fears are wrong.

Has anyone looked at the Enterprise ROV 2 feed lately? The flow escaping the LMRP appears to be much less. You can actually SEE the LMRP through the flow... keep it up, BP.

Day 63.

According to the web site:


approximately 158,580,000 gallons of oil have gushed so far. (I'm sure critics will complain that I used this figure.)

This amount of oil equals about

21,200,000 cubic feet, or

485 acre-feet of oil.

Imagine standing front of a column of oil that 208' x 208' (one acre) and almost as tall as a 50 story skyscraper. That's nearly half as high as the 110 story WTC towers used to be. (Coincidently, the towers were 208' x 208'.) That's how much oil BP has probably dumped into the GOM to date. The question is, how tall will that imaginary column get before the well is capped?

Been reading here for ~2 wks,what a fantastic site,thanks bigtime to site organizers & commentators.For newbies like me,here's some perspective on the scale of a seabed BOP.

Notice Hydraulic Rams on the right-side.I guess the Marlin to be 10-12'.

Not a bad job done by the ROV Op.


You won't want to miss this one !