BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - The Admiral on Casing and Connections, and an Update or Two - and Open Thread

Because of the large number of comments, this thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6642.

Update by Gail, Tues. 4:30pm:

Judge rules against Obama's deep-water drilling moratorium

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman says the administration overreached in implementing a six-month ban. A White House spokesman says an immediate appeal is planned.

I am following a number of different events this week, and so today is as much a set of updates as anything. Firstly the oil in the Gulf.

For the first 12 hours on June 21 (midnight to noon), approximately 8,410 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 5,015 barrels of oil and 25.3 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On June 20, total oil recovered was approx. 23,290 barrels:
• approx. 14,570 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 8,720 barrels of oil were flared,
and approx. 48.3 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Total recovery was slightly down on June 20 due to shut-ins from a lightning storm in the area of the Enterprise and Q4000 heading changes to accommodate wind shifts.

One of the concerns in the Gulf relates to the arrival of a hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center is showing the development of an area of low pressure that could cause problems later in the week. It has changed from yellow to orange in the past day.

National Hurricane Center

Admiral Allen held a telephone conference call today. In this he mentioned that the deeper relief well has now reached 10,677 ft. They intend sending electrical pulses down the casing of the existing well (WW), which will induce an electro-magnetic field that will help locate it and allow the relief well (RW) to be steered towards it. This will start about now, and will allow a much more accurate estimate of position than they now have. The RW operation is currently scheduled for the second week of August.

Given concerns over the integrity of the borehole, Admiral Allen specifically noted (in response to a question from the AP) that during Top Kill they had evaluated the highest pressure that they could use in injecting mud, without impacting the integrity of the casing. When they reached that pressure, without being able to kill the well, then they stopped the operation. But that did not damage the wellbore, and though there may be a problem with the wellbore near the top there is no way to check it, and thus they will rely on the bottom-up filling with mud. This will exert less pressure on the casing, and if, at that time, there is a casing failure it will be with the well full of mud, and thus of less consequence. It is also why they don’t want to cap the well at the surface now. They are capturing the oil and gas, and the RW will be able to perform a safer kill.

Apparently the vents on the top of the LMRP cap are still open, and the 23,000 plus bd that is being produced does not count the amount that is still being vented. However they are bringing in another vessel so that they can tap into the kill line out of the blowout preventer (BOP) (they are currently only producing through the vent and the choke lines). That will allow an increase in volume collected to a capacity level of 53,000 bd sometime next week.

Following the tests on unbolting with the ROVs the new plan is to unbolt the current cut riser segment and then bolt the new cap onto the top of the BOP. That will then produce through 4,000 ft-long flexible risers (rather than the current rigid pipe) and should be in place by the middle of July. (With a capacity at that time in the 60,000 to 80,000 bd range). This will give the flexibility of totally sealing the end and directing the flow up the risers. BP has been tasked to put instruments that will measure flow into the new cap. The current intent is to carry this change through in the next 7 – 10 days.

He noted that there is no sign of ongoing erosion, and that the BOP is tilting at an angle of 10 - 12 degrees.

In regard to the fielding of the suction barges, he said that the Coast Guard had carried out a safety inspection and found some safety issues with electrical grounding, and the barges were kept in port until those had been fixed – which they now have been, and the barges are being used.

Two different procedures are also now being described for connecting between the RW and the WW. In one option the RW will intersect the well, and break through the rock wall of the well. Then a path will be milled through the casing to inject mud to fill the well, before pumping in cement, at the bottom of the WW to totally kill production.

If there are problems with the connection, and it is not a good intersection, then perforating charges will be used to penetrate between the two wells and provide the pathways for the mud and then the cement. This process also allows the area around the bottom of the RW to be separated from the main well with a packer, if it is needed, as extra protection.

Oh, and by the way, there is a solar car race that will be coming through Rollo, Missouri, (where I live) on Wednesday of this week. I have written about it on Bit Tooth Energy.

Prof. Goose's comment:

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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.

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Tropical Weather Discussion Summary from Crown Weather

So, bottom line is that I expect Invest 93-L to develop into a tropical depression on Wednesday and a tropical storm on Thursday. If the environment is as favorable as the model guidance suggests, then strengthening into a hurricane is very possible before it reaches the southern Gulf of Mexico late this weekend. After that, it is way too early to really say where it’ll go. If this system remains fairly weak, like say a tropical storm, then a track towards the Texas coast seems more plausible; however, if this becomes quite strong like the GFDL, SHIPS and LGEM models suggest, then a track towards the northern Gulf coast would become likely as it would track towards a weak trough of low pressure that would be located along the US East Coast.

According to Weather Underground, the surface temps in the Caribbean and Gulf are really rather high - in the 90+F range.

I understand that if any little ol' storm slips into those waters, it is likely to grow bigger and bigger.

I've seen a couple of comments in threads referring to how much oil is in this reservoir that were quite low compared to what is there.Have read 2.3B bbls & heard Tony(BP) state in an interview "it's around 2B".Also believe someone referred it to be in 4 sections/segments all "linked".

Here's a close look at a sea floor BOP.Watch what the ROV camera spots & the Op's tactics.


2 billion GALLONS

50 million BARRELS

(I'm starting to think that journalists don't take math).

I'm starting to wonder how they feed themselves

"add one teaspoon salt... well that saucepan is spoon shaped, so it will do... there, full of salt... but wait! How much tea should I add?"

I think you have to ask the "Tourpusher".

Can someone explain the derision over the NYTime's use of this term in their article yesterday?

oilcareers.com has an advertisement for a Tour Pusher here:


In fact there are a lot of job adverts for a "Tour Pusher" or "Tourpusher".

And the definition I find on the web is pretty much the same as given in the NYTimes - assistant toolpusher.

So what's the problem?

I think that when we have access to the Transocean well control procedures that it will list responsibilities as "Toolpusher". "Tour Pusher" may be a new term for assistant tool pusher that works a 12 hour tour opposite to the Toolpusher but there is still the "man". The Toolpusher.

He probably sent his "tour pusher" out to deal with the press.

Most rigs have only one with single responsibility. Different Strokes for different blokes I guess.


Remember these are not little land rigs, The Development Driller rigs are double derrick, therefore two drillers per shift. You will find they have a "Tourpusher" looking after the outside events with a "Toolpusher" more concerned with paper work and compliance issues. The OIM will be above them.

From a 10 year old Transocean Employee Hand book, They had OIM, Senior Toolpusher and Toolpusher. Though no Tourpusher was mentioned the Non senior Toolpusher can commonly be called a Tourpusher.

I was looking for my old Transocean well contol book, which was a excellant publication but it has been missed placed over the years.

Against by better judgement, I will have give this one to the journalist.

Thanks Toolpush. You are the "man". I defer.

Been on jobs that we called him the night pusher.

Not all land rigs are that puny by the way. Check out some of the Unit rigs. My favorite is one that used to drill nuclear test wells and would drill a 60" diameter hole to 5000 feet. The substructure was high enough to accomodate a railroad car to deliver the bomb. They'd hook up a pad mounted transformer and shut the rig engines off- all you could hear was the brake squeak. No I don't want to feed the "nuke the well" bunch. But it was a neat rig.

I'm starting to think "small is beautiful", though.

I wish they would make the current well control manual public because it would show what options were for well control under the circumstances.

They're comm majors. Ever take any comm in college? Easiest most BS major I ever dipped my toe into, the two classes I took were complete jokes.

In the UK, it's not even the case that most journalists have university-level training in journalism. They often have experience on the university paper whilst doing some degree in another subject and then move into professional journalism upon graduation. Most of them thus have a surplus of the most important skill, which is how to write a story in a compelling and entertaining way; skills like accuracy/precision and balance (even just in terms of presenting the big-picture) often aren't acquired.

To be a good journalist takes years of experience.

Don't judge the quality of journalists just from your perception of a few courses intended for non-majors.

A equally invalid compare is an engineering course for non-engineers being used to judge what an engineer can do with 20 years of directly relevant and up-to-date expertise and experience.

Can I judge journalists by the stories they often publish? Full of basic factual errors, poor English, and sensationalized as much as possible?

And that's when they aren't just right out lying.

Guess what?

Like anything, you have to sort through them and find the good ones.

The best journalist I have the privilege of meeting are, IMHO, in their areas of specialty, as good as the experts they interview.

Over the course of my life I have had the privilege of working under the guidance of or getting an education from 4 very special people. These people had been awarded or eventually won Nobel Prizes.

John B. Fenn
Allan McLeod Cormack
Lars Onsager
Pierre Gilles de Gennes

I have never read material from nor met any journalist who was remotely as talented as these people.

I have met more than a few journalist that I believe, if such a prize were available, they would be Nobel caliber.

But I spent time looking for them.


"Can I judge journalists by the stories they often publish?"

Can I judge petroleum industry folks by the Macondo clusterf*ck? Professional football players by Michael Vick?

C'mon girls and boys. Generalizations are always wrong. ;^)

"Generalizations are always wrong. ;^)"

Which is a generalization, which means it's wrong?

Did you see the emoticon?

like a fish sees a spinner. ;)

Fair enough, journalists should not judge all DW drillers based on one oil company's shortcomings either.

Except that the cream of journalism - nyt, wsj, wapo, find it difficult to relate the basic facts correctly - everything they produce needs skeptical reading. Why can't they hire a drilling engineer for a couple weeks and learn the basics?

The same reason that posters on here have little understanding of the political dynamics that ensure that the "Peak Oil" message have little or no impact?

nyt, wsj, wapo are all corporatist-controlled propaganda houses. Real journalism today is done on the blogs.

Sadly, the reason the "journalists" can't get anything right, is that's all they've ever done in their life. They don't know how anything works, down to having no idea how to fix their lawn mower when the rain gets into the gas tank.

Really GOOD journalists are people who have practical knowledge and experience in things for a while, and then learn the english skills to communicate. They aren't easily taken for a ride by slick talkers and they spot logical holes in explanations that would get by the current crop of slickers.

(I'm starting to think that journalists don't take math).

Sarah Palin supposedly has a BS in journalism...

"Sports journalism" in the reports I've seen.

Not a fan of SP by any means but her check book math skills seem extraordinary. A couple terms on the city council followed by a couple as the small town's mayor leaving the little city in deep in the red followed by about a year of working as governor (the other portion of that abbreviated term was pretty equally divided between feuding with various AK government entities and getting wildly popular by campaigning on the national stage). Few have parleyed so little into so much.

I'm starting to think you're in severe denial.

When referrring to oil wells, people in the industry think and talk in terms of barrels, not gallons. Tony Haward was saying 2 billion barrels.

Hayward told the Stupak hearing panel 50M bbls.

deleted, duplicate

Hayward clearly used gallons when the 2B figure was cited. Gallons, not barrels. Divide by 42 to get barrels.

Jun. 17, 2010
Hayward Estimates Size Of Oil Field At 2B Gallons
BP CEO Hayward Says Up To 2 Billion Gallons Of Crude Left In Gulf Oil Field


There are 2-3 BILLION BARRELS in this reservoir.

Can you cite a reliable source for that?

Day 63.

According to the web site:


approximately 158,580,000 gallons of oil have gushed so far.

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 has a ground area of 208' x 208' (a square acre) and that's almost as tall as a 50-story skyscraper. This is nearly half as high as the 110 story WTC towers were. (Coincidently, the towers had a floor area of 208' x 208'.) That's how much oil BP could have dumped into the GOM to date. The question is, how tall will that column get before the well is finally capped?

That's 3,775,714 barrels
or 59,932 bbl/day
or 0.7 bbl/sec.
Which is towards the upper end of the flow estimates.

For context, the world uses about 1000 bbl/sec.

A 1000 barrels a second
Peter Tertzakian

Obama has failed to demand that nature stop spilling oil:

the amount of oil residue in seafloor sediments that result from natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, California.. . . the amount of oil in the sediments down current from the seeps to be the equivalent of approximately 8-80 Exxon Valdez oil spills.. . .The paper is being published in the May 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology. . . . There is an oil spill everyday at Coal Oil Point (COP), the natural seeps off Santa Barbara, California, where 20-25 tons of oil have leaked from the seafloor each day for the last several hundred thousand years.

A 5% reduction in supply relative to demand increased prices 400% during the 1973 OPEC oil crisis.

In 1998, spot prices dropped to $9.7/bbl and shot up 1500% to $147/bbl by 2008 - after OPEC cut back on growth of its oil production on top of Non-OPEC's peaking in 2004/5.

Obama's deep water drilling moratorium will directly increase global fuel prices and increase unemployment - beyond the direct job losses already caused. This directly degrades the US's national security and transfers more control over fiscal sovereignty to OPEC!

The difference with the natural oil seeps is that they are well known, defined, and often, support a cluster of microbes and other aquatic life around them that naturally, "cleanse" it.

The problem is, this spill is an uncontrolled, large sudden infusion --- and there is not time for the natural fauna to adjust and build a colony around it.

Yes, but in the seep colonies the bacteria eat the oil and the other critters eat the bacteria, so the oil can be disposed of without building a complex colony. Bacterial populations can expand very rapidly. One consequence of the seeps is that the Gulf was pre-inoculated with bacteria, so they must be at work everywhere.

The big issue is oxygen depletion in the deep water. Samantha Joye in her blog said that the scientists on the Walton Smith found very good conditions for the bacteria in the undersea clouds (plumes) they sampled. However, there was some oxygen depletion in the older ends of the clouds that were 24-40 miles from the well site. This depletion was not at a harmful level, but there was concern it might become so as the clouds age. Still, they will also tend to disperse more as they age.

As I understand it, bacteria and microbes there have different ways of dealing with the presence / absence of oxygen in water.

There are some that are anaerobic, some aerobic, and some that have different metabolic pathways that do not require oxygen at all.

We really need an deep ocean biologist to explain this to us.

Yes, Joye is one such, and she will have more to tell us in coming weeks. If aerobic bacteria use too much of the oxygen, they die off and become corpses that will use up more oxygen when they drift into water with some oxygen in it. I don't know whether there are anaerobic bacteria that eat oil, probably so.

Paging microbiologists. . .

Not a microbiologist, but my limited understanding...

There are bacteria that are anaerobic, and there are microbes that eat hydrocarbons and produce / excrete H2S... etc.

So we can add this to the apocalyptic menu. . . after the aerobic bacteria consume all the oxygen in the Gulf, the cosmic methane fart that destroys America will even smell like one, owing to the H2S produced by the anaerobic bacteria.

an important point in the anaerobic arena is what the chemistry is. If you need to oxidize a fuel to obtain energy, the most commonly available and useful oxidant is (you guessed it) oxygen. If you have a fully reduced hydrocarbon (an alkane), the only way to go is up...(which I'll designate oxidation) There are undoubtedly anaerobes that could use hydrocarbons for something other than energy and I think I remember something from geology and the ages before photosynthesis related to this... Anyway....the choice is right proper oxidation, perhaps to CO2 which is very exothermic, or an anaerobic oxidation (is that an oxymoron?) to a less reduced species...like elemental carbon. I'd have to look it up, but I believe that the oxidation of an alkane to carbon and hydrogen is somewhat exothermic. Hey....these bacteria could get us off oil by using it to produce coal and hydrogen gas. Or maybe diamonds? I need a million dollars to study this....any offers?

If you Google up "anaerobic metabolism of hydrocarbons" you'll find quite a few studies have been done showing that anaerobic bacteria do metabolize even saturated alkanes. So, there is such a thing as "anaerobic oxidation", where species such as sulfate and ferric (III) iron are the electron acceptors and H2S and ferrous iron (II) are the reduced products, respectively. I haven't seen too much on the details of the metabolic pathways involved except that one claims that "beta oxidation" takes place. This is the standard aerobic pathway for long-chain alkanes, or rather, fatty acids (lipids), leading eventually to CO2 as the final oxidation product. No obvious reason why this could not take place in anaerobic organisms if a suitable oxidizing agent is present since the O atoms arise from H2O anyway.
In seawater, I'd imagine that aerobic oxidation would take preference (using O2) as long as sufficient O2 pp exists, and that the bacterial flora would "prefer" to attack methane given the choice of metabolites owing to its high concentration and relative solubility. Methane oxidation via well-known pathways could be the primary reaction through which the O2 levels are depleted. If the situation gets sufficiently anaerobic (in sea water), the anaerobes could get into the act, very likely using sulfate as the oxidant, or (less likely) Fe(III), since that's probably in exceedingly low concentrations.
Replying to a comment above in this sub-thread: bacteria can be aerobic, anaerobic, and a hybrid called facultative anaerobic. E. coli is an example of the latter: it runs an oxidative metabolism if there's O2 around but can switch to anaerobic fermentation if not.

The deep water drilling moratorium will likely fade away fairly quickly if the relief well staunches the Macondo flow, so that is just one more reason we best hope the first try works. Give me a break Hagen, would the hell would you do while all the focus is on the blowout, sell more leases and push for instant tax credits for quickly spudding new wells? You were a big Ronnie Reagan guyed weren't you. The landslide that sent that clown into office has a whole lot to do with why this country is in the mess it is now. Lots of denial in the peak oil crowd's closets where old RR is concerned, it is manifested in very ugly ways. Will the Obama administration be able to use this deepwater blowout to help redirect the US energy policy? I don't have high hopes for that either.

"485 acre-feet of oil"

How many butt-loads is that?

I would say approx. 15,2 shit-load of but-loads.
That equates to 1 (Imperial) cluster-f@ck.

Brian -- I doubt there can be much learned about the cause of the blow out from studying the rig. Right now it appears the blow out was caused by cement failure at 18,000' as a result of removing the heavy drill mud from the system. While these fatal decisions were made on the rig the physical aspects were rather removed. They do have various data that was recorded in real time that offers some insight into the accident which is fortunate since no physical data on the rig survived. The fact that the rig exploded, burned and sank carries no great mysteries IMHO: that's exactly what would happen in the type of catastrophic failure BP suffered: rigs burn down, men die and the environment suffers. Obvious a very good reason to not take foolish chances with the process.

As far as other locations on BP's Plan of Exploration it's very common to get approval to drill more wells initially then you actually have specific plans to drill. The POE approval process takes so long that a company will permit as many locations as they think they MIGHT want to drill.

There is the instrument panels, switches (which if still readable) may have left a record of the last moments of the rig.

Fire may have severely damaged equipment and instruments on board, but there are records that can still be read.

Then there is the possibility of retrieving mud, etc.

Plus the all important task of recovering human remains, and autopsies where it is still possible.

PQ -- Most of the DW analog instrumentation has been replaced with electronic controls. Which is actually fortunate. The charts we've seen indicating various drilling parameters just prior to the accident were being transmitted in real time to onshore servers. Had this not been the case the only info we would have would be from eye witness accounts.

Sadly I doubt there are any remains that will be recovered. It was such a sad commentary I didn't want to bring it up yesterday but since we've broached the subject here: I spoke to the uncle of one of the hands killed on the rig. He had traveled back to La. to visit his son's grave on Father's Day. His adult son was killed in an auto accident less than 2 weeks before his nephew died. As they had no burial for his nephew they expanded the grave site visit as a memorial to his nephew. Hell of a way to spend a holiday. We hear about tragedies everyday and it's easy to not take them in too personally. But it's a very different matter when you can hear the grief in the voice of the survivors. Never met either of these two hands but it felt like it for a moment.

Coincidentally I shared breakfast this morning with a coworker of 4 different hands who were killed on the rig. That subject never came up. I suppose we've said what we had to say already. There's not much left to do but put it behind us as best as possible and carry on.

That is not quite accurate.

There are still many physical switches and dials that can be "read" as to what it last position is.

Furthermore, even if the data is transmitted, it is almost certain that some of that data would have been temporarily stored in hard drives, solid state memory, and other devices.

With difficulty, these devices, even badly damaged, can often be read.

All of this is SOP in an NTSB style crash / incident investigation.

The question always is, what is worthwhile to go down to look for, what hypothesis do we need to test, what material evidence down there would substantially make a difference in our understanding of the events.

Needless to say, recovery of the remains are very important --- to the families.

I would hope that BP / Transocean, etc. recognize this, and once the immediate crisis is pass, deploy some of their ROVs (which is the only game in town) to at least, try to recover some remains.

Did you see the vids of the fire? I'd be suprised if there's any plastic on that rig that wasn't a melted puddle.


And there will probably still be data recoverable from the wreckage.

The rig came down pretty nearly upside down so all the computers, records, dials, etc would be under many feet of mud and probably destroyed. The high pressure at depth causes water to get into everything including transistors, solid state memory, etc. I don't know if the disks in a hard drive, which will have probably physically imploded, can be salvaged, even if they could be recovered.

While it is theoretically possible the rig could be recovered it would be the most expensive and technically difficult salvage job ever attempted. It would take years and cost billions.

All compartments holding air have either flooded or collapsed. Filled fuel, mud and water tanks may still have some integrity and I know they have been working on plans to recover some of the 700,000 gal of diesel fuel onboard after the well is capped.

The rig could be blown apart with shaped charges placed by ROVs and pieces over 500 tons could be brought to the surface using a drilling rig and then transferred to surface cranes but it would be a long and dangerous undertaking. I would estimate probably about 3 to 5 years to salvage the majority of the rig. And I doubt there would be much useful information gained.

Unfortunately any remains left would have been near the drill floor and probably washed overboard when the rig sank.

Its hard to describe the utter chaos inside a sunken vessel, especially around offices and living quarters. Every piece of insulation, paneling, furniture etc is thrown and moved by the force of the water coming in even before the mud gets into it. Surges of water can move anything not welded down into other areas or out the doors and windows. Sometimes we would find items, like computers, in a room a couple decks away from where they were supposed to be. Any compartment where the watertight doors were closed will have imploded. A landfill garbage dump looks pristine in comparison.

Except for a very detailed survey and an attempt to recover oil or pollutants from tanks in the pontoons I doubt any attempt will be made to salvage anything unless it is sticking up out of the seabed.

Look at what was salvaged from the USS Thresher and K-129 before you conclude nothing can be done.

As we type, there is an ongoing effort to find the black boxes for AF 447.

The Thresher was laid out over a hard bottom and most of the information came from high resolution photos.

The K-129 was lifted by a drill ship, just as I described piece of this rig could be lifted, but it was small enough to be lifted in one piece (theoretically) and it was not sunk in the mud. Also as a submarine everything was contained inside a pressure hull, a completely different situation to the DWH which is upside down in the mud and everything you want to see was open to the water and now under mud or washed overboard.

Very few, if any, black boxes lost in deep water from a midair explosion are ever recovered after the transponders die.

OTOH the cargo door off the Hawaiian Air flight was torn off at over 30,000 feet altitude in mid-Pacific and we found it in 17,000 feet of water.

Rather than speculating, once the crisis is over, shouldn't Transocean / BP etc. just send down some ROVs for a look see?

This may make no more sense than soldiers risking (and losing) additional lives to recover the bodies of their (already dead) comrades.

But sometimes, tradition trumps sense.

Lets not deliberately leave them behind when there might be a chance.

This is getting morbid but you need to consider the physical situation. There was an intense fire for over 24 hours. The drill floor was washed with high pressure hoses during that time. The rig overturned and sank through a mile of water and came to rest upside down in the mud.

Exactly what are the ROVs supposed to look for?

The ROVs did a survey of the rig in the days just after it sank. I expect they have probably done a more detailed survey since.

ROV operators are offshore workers, if they thought there was any possibility of locating remains they will have already done that.

I do agree that out of respect for the loss of 11 men's lives that ROVs should be sent to inspect and record images of the wreckage, and perhaps install a memorial of some kind. If any of the men killed were related to me, I would absolutely want some kind of recognition of their sacrifice at the site of the wreckage. Davy Jones locker holds a lot of secrets, but this location should be marked permanently for future identification and any possible salvaging.

I expect when the well is killed, plugged and abandoned, and any other work like recovering diesel fuel is done that the rig will be declared a memorial and restricted against any souvenir hunting like the Titanic and many other shipwrecks that resulted in loss of life.

The DOD did those things, Classified information is one thing, and the K-129 was during the Cold War. The USS Thresher was found in little pieces.

Given that we have a need to know what has happened to these things that sank, getting data to the surface will be expensive and time consuming.

As to Bodies, Likely you'll not find any, going there just to hunt for them will be disappointing to say the least.

Just saying that you should not get your hopes up to finding anything new from the wreckage. Most the information that we are likely to get will be from the people that survived and the data we do have, not what is on the bottom of the ocean.

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

Unfortunately any remains left would have been near the drill floor and probably washed overboard when the rig sank.

Don't you imagine that, DWH having served as a robust crematorium for two days before its sinking, the ashes rode the updraft and later wafted peacefully down to the sea?

If they washed overboard from the drill floor, there is a slight chance that it can be found in the debris field.

I feel for the families and thus, believe once the immediate crisis is past (prayers that the relief well(s) work), an attempt must be made.

Even if the odds are near zero, lets try.

Solid state memory? Maybe. Hard drive at ~5K depth? Not likely in saltwater. The disk platters are ceramic nowadays and would survive but I can't imagine being able to read much of the media. Lots of big explosions. Not impossible but pretty unlikely.

deleted duplicate post from server chug

Any magnetic media that got hotter than its Curie temperature will have been degaussed, and not even the best NSA guy could get the data back. In other words, any media that got around ~300c(+/- 100c) is toast.

Not to mention, a PC is NOT built like an aircraft data recorder.

I believe DWH was equipped with eDrill. I will opine that all the data you need is or was resident on a BP server onshore. Forensic IT personnel from the FBI should knock on BP's door(s).


The well control equipment is usually independent of any other system. The drives are likely to be in the accommodation but edrill systems usually are only concerned with drilling parameters, Not BOP functions.

thanks to all in the above thread for answering my questions, and sorry if it lead to a morbid area.

i owe you all a beer.


Klurker made the comment in the previous thread at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6636#comment-657149

"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."

Nukes as the new BOP of choice, with a claimed success rate of 4 out of 5, [or 80%,] compare favourably to the NYT's recent revelation of a success rate of 45% for traditional BOP's

Please note, this comment is for humour only.

Edit: bad spelling

Add this too:

XXX [name protection]:

What is the feasibility of using a nuke to close off the oil leak?


About the same as using one to fix a leak in the plumbing in your house.

[Category: Humor.]

I was just trying to draw attention to what the downside to such a method might be. When you think of it I don't think BP thought enough what the downside of their actions might be.

RHH: I have saved your response and intend to unleash it when appropriate. With proper credit, of course.

RioHondoHank howdy,
You're too modest. It was a great one-liner.

Glad though, to see your subtle qualification about "downside" thinking. Seems to me the whole industry got caught with its nickers down on the true risks associated with DW.

I'm still of a mind that using a "nuke" is not entirely out of the picture. Given possible, yet unlikely scenarios developing over the next couple of months, it would be unwise to dismiss what could, god forbid, become a viable option, if not a last resort.

Rio if you make it to the beach from up there, let's grab a beer. That is if there's not a hurricane bearing down on us by then.

It's hilarious - I didnt think of that.

We need more peaceful uses for nukes. What about nanoton stickers. You can put a few on those hard plastic wrappers that cheap tools come in and open them real quick. They could have a shrek theme.

Question: Has the crimped segment of riser that was cut from the BOP been brought to the surface? I've not seen any photos.

I know it was rigged with recovery slings before it was cut. I see no reason why it wasn't brought to the surface--it appeared to be connected to a crane. Maybe it was just moved out of the way...

I am pretty sure I saw it sitting in a big yellow bin at the bottom a couple of days ago when an ROV passed by it. I would think they would want to bring it topside and determine just exactly which pipes are jammed inside of it for information about the state of the well, but perhaps they already know that.

I would guess since it is part of an ongoing investigation (perhaps criminal), it is being treated as "evidence" and not open to public scrutiny. I would think this would apply to all pieces of this well/rig brought up topside.

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.

Lurker -- Not much details in that article but I doubt there's any direct impact. There may be a logistic problem with those ops given all the boat traffic and movement restrictions associated with the blow out. As far as NG volume changes the flared NG numbers seem to stay fairly constant when compared to the amount of oil recovered. But we might see significant surges in NG at times. Under the current conditions seeing the well flow in abrupt "heads" wouldn't be a big surprise IMHO.

Funny, I was looking at that the other day.

I've got a map which shows what I think is the Macondo well over to the east side of the 252 block, whereas the Rigel field straddles the southern boundary.

The Seventeen Hands gas line and an oil export line from Na Kika both cross the block in the south and west.

So all other on block infrastructure looks to be about 3 km to the south and west of the Macondo well.

According to this: http://www.halliburton.com/public/solutions/contents/Deep_Water/related_...

The Rigel prospect has a measured depth of 16,200 feet. Macondo was drilled to 18,000 feet (and change). 17 Hands is 11,750 feet and Na Kita Kepler is 17,660 feet.

I'm not a geologist... but it seems to me that 3 to 7 miles is not that far in strata that is as close as 340 vertical feet apart and that varies from impermeable to highly porous. The Rigel seems less of an issue... except they had to drill past (through?) that level with what is now a casing of dubious integrity.


From previous closed post:

Tyranosopher on June 22, 2010 - 7:08am Is that the "law" [Godwin's Law] that if one mentions Auschwitz the conversation stops? Is that not a form of holocaust denial?

Godwin's Law:
"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

"There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over.... Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups."

[Edited for continuation clarity]

FYI, it is not a compare, but a hint of the future weapons of warfare.

The Nazis, and the Holocaust were important events in the 20 C, and it is natural that they are evoked. If then comments are to be closed, it's the equivalent of denying that they should be evoked, so it's holocaust-denial-of-presence-in-the-internet. De facto.

By the way, Hitler was fed by Standard Oil (Exxon) and Texaco (to invade Spain), and invaded Poland to get to its oil (but Stalin got it first). As France got invaded, the Nazi armored division were fueled by American and Soviet oil. So WWII and Hitler had everything to do with The Oil Drums.

New visitors to TOD might enjoy Robert Newman's History of Oil which covers the WWII era. (It really gets rolling about 2 minutes in.)


It seems the methane hydrates have caused a number of problems, I am wondering if instead of avoiding them, maybe they could be used positively. For example, what if they pump seawater into the choke and kill lines to form hydrates and clog the BOP? It might be a way to slowly close off the flow? If that might work but is not desired due to casing issues on this well, maybe when the RW is working, would it help then?

My impression is that the people in charge do not want to stop the flow out of the BOP because, they believe, that would cause a dangerous rise in down hole pressure. Official interest in stopping the flow at the BOP seems to have stopped several days ago.

Just my, possibly erroneous, observation.

what about in a situation where one does want to stop the flow via the bop? i.e. what if they had done this instead of the mud based top kill which most people seem to think was going to fail before it started.

also, what about when they are trying to flood the wild well with mud via the reserve well. from what i have read (mostly here) the change over from oil to mud must be done quickly to get a critical mass of mud together Vs the mud getting pushed out with the oil. at that time, would a little back pressure to slow down the escaping oil / gas help ensure the bottom kill works? even if it forces some oil / mud out a cracked casing, if that helps get a good columbn of mud, why not?

kow -- that's an interesting idea I hadn't thought about. I suspect they'll try a conventional kill approach first. But if they do have a lot of trouble getting a sufficient mud column as you speculate they may try another top kill effort to assist in getting enough kill weight in the csg.

Deleted, garbage

The ROVs don't really have to unscrew the nuts on the riser stub flange. Much faster and easier to just crack 'em in two pieces...using one of these babies:


Those are the divers' tool of choice when speed is the object.

I doubt if it will work as the riser is connected with bolts not nuts.


Yes they are bolts, not nuts. Huge bolts!

Actually they made a third practice run one night with some better tools and a single ROV working alone was able to remove one and reinstall it fairly efficiently. They just had to figure out which were the right tools for the job.

And they'll probably use another tension tool like this:


to tighten up the individual NUTS that are on the STUDS...

or...they could use a set of these:


and tighten all the NUTS (that are on the STUDS) at once...

I think you'll find it's a studbolt with a nut on each end, sport.

I watched them take one completely out. It was a bolt with a 3 3/4 head and a shank diameter of at least 3 inches. It threads into the flange.

Of course it is possible that different bolts are used on the flange on the flex joint than on the rest of the riser. I haven't looked at pictures of those ones in awhile since they are now covered by the cap.

I've been in the oilfield diving industry since 1975 and have never seen a large diameter flange that used that type of hardware. Not saying you're wrong--just that I've never seen one...

Just out of curiosity, were you on the J Ray, Lay Barge 23 around 1978?

Nope, Brown & Root/Taylor Diving from 1975 to 1980. Have lots of friends with Mac Ds but I never was with them myself.

My Dad was with Taylor Diving from about 1960 -1980. I would like to talk to anyone who worked with him, and I have his slide collection of 'job pictures' that I would like to have most of them go to someone who would appreciate them.

If you or anyone else here who worked with him would be interested in sharing a few stories, I would be very grateful and would like to share some of this huge collection of 35mm slides.

gmmf56 @ yahoo.com

Thanks for the reply. I was very impressed at the diving operations that I was around but I was just a rigger back then.

They are studs or bolts and dont have nuts it seems.

the top of the bop has a patented part from cameron called a loadking 4.0 connector




James in SA--Yes, those are the bolts I'm talking about-NOT the marine riser fasteners...

Perhaps this is why the fasteners are a different type than you are used to seeing in this application... from the product brochure for the riser system: http://www.c-a-m.com/content/products/product_detail.cfm?pid=2889&bunit=DRL

"Unique flange and bolting system provides longer fatigue life."

Nice link to a tool I hadn't seen before. Wonder if it works on "nuke the well" people?

Watching the feed of undoing and refitting the bolt there was no nut on the other side,no tool used to hold one either. Bolt connecting directly to the flange. However it did appear to be reinforced at the bolt holes, presumably to give more metal to screw into.


Here is the link to the Vetco page,


Not the best information but better than nothing. They are 3 7/8" bolts with head as you have seen on the ROV flicks. The nut is a retained nut on the lower side of the box end connection. The thread is a square thread and before you ask I do not know the torque, though from memory it is a few thousand ftlb

It REALLY pains me to reference an article that ultimately resolves to FOX News so fire away if you must. It was not the hyperbole related to Obama and his Administration that got my attention but rather the claim that the DWH well was allegedly known to be leaking from seafloor fractures as early as Feb 2010. And sorry if this has been covered once or more in earlier open threads.

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at Market Ticker where the FOX News link can be followed.

God's Work? Luck? Or Lawbreaking?

It seems incomprehensible that the president and other members of the administration still have jobs when it is now being reported that the federal government was apprised by BP on February 13 that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil and natural gas into the ocean floor.

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.

Further it seems the administration was also informed about this development, six weeks before to the rig's fatal explosion when an engineer from the University of California, Berkeley, announced to the world a near miss of an explosion on the rig by stating, "They damn near blew up the rig.

More journalistic license. They started having well control issues back in Feb/March. E.g. 'cracks in the reservoir sucked up all the mud and well started kicking'.

I don't know how in the hell this got translated into seafloor cracks!!!! (not accusing you of that - the way that the article was written could have been interpreted that way if you'd been listening to the Simmons debate at all).

PT --To add a little more detail to toll's response: 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. 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 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. There does appear to a rather negative pattern in BP ops decisions. But it seems, at times, to take the discussion down blind alleys IMHO.

I would like to have permission to quote some of your replies.

I am as frightened by the amount of hysterical 'information' out there as I am of the mess in the GOM. This is currently the hottest topic going and the theories and fear-mongering are stunning.

Have at it gmf. But remember my royalties are to be paid in Blue Bell ice cream.

Ha! You get a much better deal on Blue Bell where you are. It is $6.00 a gal here.

How about some chocolate chip cookies to go with the Blue Bell? I can mail those easier than Blue Bell.

Chinese Whispers is a piss-poor way for us to manage (what's supposed to be) our Democracy, huh? Who woulda thunk!

Even with less than a year's experience on land based water monitoring wells with probably no significant pressures to speak of, lost circulation was a fairly common problem.

ROCKMAN is obviously the person to listen to on this, but I thought I'd add what little I know. It does seem to distract from the real issues, but someone who's never worked on a well wouldn't necessarily know.

It seems incomprehensible that...

It seems that almost everything that happens in the real world outside the Fox News video broadcast facility is incomprehensible to its occupants. Is this news?

Wow, that blahg might be even worse than FOX. Let's follow the links...

The blog links and quotes the Faux news story:

...reported that the federal government was apprised by BP on February 13 that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil and natural gas into the ocean floor.

That text is a link to a Bloomberg article where we see what the scandal is actually about:

It took 10 days to plug the first cracks, according to reports BP filed with the Minerals Management Service that were later delivered to congressional investigators. Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.

In other words, the Bloomberg article is talking about the well known earlier problems with mud loss in drilling the DWH well.

Then Faux comes along and, showing their typical professional integrity, says the well was "leaking oil and gas into the ocean floor" (implying into the water). This with the added twist that Obama knew about it and is covering it up because he's a pinko mooslem terrorist from Kenya using the spill to advance his homsexual socialist agenda to destroy 'merika, or something...

Then this fine citizen Karl Denninger comes along and adds some more commentary on top of the FOX BS. He's accusing Goldman Sachs and Tony Hayward of insider trading based on the 'fact' the well was leaking oil into the water in February. Oh, but he's "Just curious, mind you...."

FOX isn't a news source.

You should be pained.

I see no information about any report that the well was leaking oil or gas in February. The Fox reporter made that up.

I wonder when he thinks DWH began drilling.

Thanks - sometimes you (well me speaking for myself) reference post something you kind of know is crap if only to get help trashing it.

I do not like to help foster tin foil hat sensationalism, but in the world we live in debunking the crap is as important as anyting else I suppose.



Always vigilant ... Protect Democracy. Freedom is not free.

This is doubtless a misunderstanding of "lost circulation" during the well's history, which occurred some thousands of feet below the seabottom. Note TV journalists are not trained in engineering and come up with some of the strangest beliefs. A few, of course, are so isolated from reality they come close to psychosis.

The New York Times yesterday ran a detailed article on the BOP failure. I was shocked by the disclosure of the deliberate tolerance of failure risk in the design. According to the article, there is a 10% chance of a single shear ram design failing if it hits a hard drilling pipe joint. On top of that, there are critical failure points in the hydraulic system that lack redundancy. BP knew that similar BOP designs had only about a 50/50 chance of controlling a blowout, based on years of historical data.

It is now obvious that BP always intended to use relief well drilling to handle major undersea blowouts, because it deliberately refused to invest in more costly fail-safe BOP designs. There was a cold blooded decision made at BP, and other oil companies, that society and the biosphere would carry the cost of a low-probability catastrophic blowout, and not the stockholders.

This is the ugly face of a profit-driven business confronting the risks of massive environmental pollution: maximize profitability by deceiving and/or corrupting those charged with protecting the environment. BP deliberately misrepresented the safety and reliability of the BOP, and now America is facing the greatest environmental disaster in its history.

The BP personnel who made the decisions to spare expense on the BOP equipment should be sent to prison, and INTERNATIONAL treaties should be developed to mandate the use of fail-safe BOP designs in all future deep water drilling.

The limitations of current BOP design are known to the MMS and all drilling companies. Until now, MMS has not required additional robustness.

I think all drillers plan "to use relief well drilling to handle major undersea blowouts". Fortunately the "major undersea blowouts" are rare.

I don't think the BP shareholders feel that they are not paying the cost of the current event. And I don't think saving some capital expense for better BOP's has resulted in maximizing profits.

It's also unlikely that anybody "deliberately misrepresented the safety and reliability of the BOP."

"The BP personnel who made the decisions to spare expense on the BOP equipment should be sent to prison." It's quite likely that nobody made a decision like this.

Questions for others: Do BOP's usually come with the drillship as a package for the drilling phase? Do lease operators commonly specify the BOP requirements for a well or do they use what's on the ship? Are there other BOP models commonly in use that have better features?

Certainly, improvements in BOP design and testing requirements will be coming soon. Along with additional operating requirements to avoid the need to exercise the BOP in the first place.

So what you are saying is all the drilling companies and the corrupt MMS knew about the problem and did nothing.

Thanks for the confirmation.

Lessismore claimed:

There was a cold blooded decision made at BP, and other oil companies, that society and the biosphere would carry the cost of a low-probability catastrophic blowout, and not the stockholders.

Lessismore, it is not within BP's or any other oil companies' power to decide that "society" will carry the cost of a catastrophic blow-out instead of BP. Where did you get such a notion?


It is for this reason on a DP drilling rig it is normal or good practise to land a tooljooint out on a set of pipe rams for any well control issues, so you know for sure that there is no tool joint in the Shear rams.

Also makes it easier to fish the string once you return to the well.

Excellent explanation Toolpush.

From AP:
Oil threatens key Gulf algae and its ecosystem:

This is a huge issue --- and we know very little about what it is going to do.

Similar to phytoplankton — the nearly invisible floating plant life_ sea holly is at the base of the marine food chain, said Dennis Heinemann, a fishery scientist with the nonprofit, Washington-based environmental group Ocean Conservancy.

This is the sort of reporting that I complained about previously in this thread. It's hard to say if it's intentionally inaccurate or not, but it definitely has issues.

Note that "plankton" is a definition based on ecological niche, not taxonomy. Phytoplankton are plant plankton. Autotrophs.

So saying that Sargussum is "similar" to phytoplankton is misleading. They are phytoplankton.

And yes phytoplankton are the base of the food web.

But not this PARTICULAR phytoplankton.

Sargassum are not part of the food chain. Important habitat yes, but not food.

It's also hard to tell whether STA's out-of-context quotations are intentional or not, but they definitely "have issues."

A little more context (but read the referenced article, please):

Like underwater coral reefs, these algae mats are critical habitats for marine life. Tuna, Mahi-mahi, dolphin fish, Billfish, shrimp, crabs and sea turtles all use the algae to spawn, sunbathe or hide from predators, often while noshing on it. The algae's own exclusive community_brown or yellowish fish with weed-like tails, unusual tiny shrimp and crab and unique seahorses, have adapted in color and behavior to live only there.

"Once it's oiled, from everything we know of the effects of oil, all of those animals that live in the Sargassum will die," Powers said.

Similar to phytoplankton — the nearly invisible floating plant life_ sea holly is at the base of the marine food chain, said Dennis Heinemann, a fishery scientist with the nonprofit, Washington-based environmental group Ocean Conservancy.

Sea holly attracts so much marine life to it, fishermen congregate around the long weed lines formed by the algae, knowing it could increase their catch.

But experts say oil can kill the Gulf weed either by poisoning it or by restricting its ability to breathe or get sunlight.

Relying on the weed are 145 species of invertebrates, 100 fish species, 5 types of sea turtles and 19 different seabirds, said Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb, a marine scientist with the Washington-based nonprofit Oceana.

"They're trained to cue in on that Sargassum," Powers said, pointing specifically to younger fish and animals. "It's the only structure out there that provides them any refuge from predators."

It's also hard to tell whether STA's out-of-context quotations are intentional or not, but they definitely "have issues."

Yes, and exactly what are these "issues"? I went into great detail specifying exactly what these issues were. All you did is make an accusation without any specification.

You have not made your argument at all.

I demonstrated that you had chosen an out-of-context fragment to use as an example of the "sort of reporting" that you had complained about.

I didn't point out that you also attempted to cloud the issue being discussed in the article you cited as an example by such means as quibbling over the (mostly-irrelevant in this context) definition of plankton. Among other things.

I agree that I have not made my argument, yet. I'm not sure that I have one, yet.

What I have is a suspicion that you are pursuing an agenda: to dismiss or minimize, insofar as possible, concerns about environmental harm that may be associated with the gusher.

I'll just keep watching and reading, and pointing out the tactics and behaviors that give rise to said suspicion. I could, certainly, be wrong.

Edit to add missing definite article.

Sorry, but I have been asked by the powers that be not to include large amounts of quoted material here because it makes reading the threads difficult. And since the link was in close proximity I really don't think it is anything like an attempt to obfuscate via information control. When people try to quote out of context for effect they usually don't do so where the original is easily available.

As far as agenda, yes I have one. Like pretty much everyone here does. Mine goes a little bit counter-current for this site though. It's partly to point out logic and factual errors in over-sensationalized stories, and more importantly to apply methodological naturalism to the process of making sense out what is happening here. It means I probably won't buy into the idea that the spill is an extinction event for the human race, that we are going to have oil all the way to England, that there are trillions of gallons of oil down there in plumes 40 miles on a side, that BP and the government are in some sort of conspiracy to hide the location of the real leak and that we are going to be subject to Corexit rain any time soon.

Think of me as a skeptic.

This story hit my hot button because of the idea that Sargassum was the base of the GOM food pyramid, with the fuzzy use of the term phytoplankton.

Sorry, but I have been asked by the powers that be not to include large amounts of quoted material here because it makes reading the threads difficult.

It's called a link. Get one.

hopefully skyebluepink (Margie Kieper) will weigh in on the weather/hurricane risks

Blood pressure raiser:

US Department of State Chart on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response:
International Offers of Assistance from Governments and International Bodies


THAT's news.

I have noticed on the "improving the cleanup" thread, there were posts from folks who had not read everything first. In other words, a waste of your valuable space, and a dilution of the useful information.

In any case, no one has any answers or really seems to want to follow any cohesive ideas through to the point where they could work. If one were developed and BP refused it, THAT would be a story.

Yes you do need more moms on this site. Moms will do anything to protect their children, and they are ingenious when tackling threats both big and small.


My house is on fire. I'm trowing small buckets of water on it, but it still keeps on burning. My neighbors are offering help to put it out and the fire department is standing by with heavy equipment. I'm still considering if I should let them having a go on the fire. But in the mean time I did file an insurance claim for the loss!

\sarcasm off

Available objective model guidance on North Atlantic invest 93L indicates it could become a tropical storm Thursday morning south of Cuba, and a hurricane Saturday morning in the vicinity of the Yucatan Channel on its way into the GOM. Track guidance is pretty tightly clustered and places it on Saturday in the western Caribbean, somewhere between the central Yucatan Peninsula, still offshore, and the western tip of Cuba. It will likely enter the GOM whether it landfalls over the Yucatan or not. By Thursday's 00Z run it will be apparent what track it is likely to take once in the GOM, whether it is picked up by a trough or continues WNW.

Still toting around that basket of computer model tracks that look like they'd knit up into a nice sweater, I see! Just a quick wave from your old WU follower shoreacres. - glad I happened to see you ID'd.

Hey there! :) I will still be providing input to Jeff on request at WU and also hoping to have time for updates here.

93L got less organized today. I can't make out if the center is still as far south as it was, or if the center is now closer to the midlevel circulation apparent on the satellite imagery (lack of ability). If it is further north, then it could be in the GOM before it even starts to be able to organize into a TD.

Here in New Orleans watching 93L very carefully. The idea of all of the ships and ROVs pulled off station while tidal surge and Tropical Storm/Hurricane sea spray spread this stuff far inland is getting pretty close to a doomsday scenario. I don't need any expert Highway Patrolman or other nutcases to convince me of this.


From Upstream 22 June 2010 14:05 GMT

No spill: says Saudi Aramco
Aramco refutes 'secret' spill talk

Oil giant Saudi Aramco today denied allegations reported in several news and media internet blogs about a ‘secret’ oil spill in the Arabian Gulf during 1993.

“Saudi Aramco unequivocally refutes allegations¿about an alleged “secret” oil spill during 1993 in the Arabian Gulf,” said the company in a statement.

“The company states that there is no factual basis to those allegations, and there was no such event or incident as alleged concerning its operations in 1993, 1994, or at any other time.”

The statement follows claims made by a former employee, Nicholas Pozzi, that he helped the state-run company clean up a spill similar to that of BPs current disaster in the US Gulf.

Pozzi says an accident caused millions of liters of crude oil to spill into the Persian Gulf and that he was on the team that developed a plan to remove the crude using Saudi-owned supertankers, reported website VOA News.

"The supertankers in Arabia have the ability to suck or discharge, so they can pump or suck," he said.

Pozzi says the operation cleaned up 85% of the total oil spilled.

His idea to use supertankers in the Gulf of Mexico has been endorsed by a number of prominent figures in the oil-and-gas industry, most notably John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, who has urged the Obama administration to pursue it, reported VOA.

However, Saudi Aramco denies there was any spill in 1993 but that it participated in oil spill cleanup activities and operations in early 1991 during the Gulf Conflict.

“Under the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s government, the company, together with various agencies, undertook oil spill cleanup operations lasting for about six months until July 1991,” said Saudi Aramco.

“Although the company utilised a number of work and supply boats, Saudi Aramco wishes to clarify that no supertankers were used during the 1991 spill cleanup operations.”

Furthermore, the company said that while Pozzi was a former employee of the company he made no significant contribution to the spill preparedness or response teams during his employment or at any other time.

“The claims made about his alleged efforts at a 1993 oil spill response operation are without factual basis,” said Saudi Aramco.

The Presidents advisor after the oval office speech ruled out the use of supertankers? Anyone know why supertankers are not being used?

Short answer (the experts may expand): There isn't much supertankers could do to help and there is no practical way to either maneuver or anchor them safely in the "city of ships" working topside.

There are a remarkable number of allegations regarding the lack of approval for ships, refusal of help from ships, etc., most of which are absurd. Most ships have little value in clean up; there are some boom systems that can be attached, but to process produced fluids requires special equipment. Tankers have one purpose - move product from point A to B.

Does anyone know Wade Miller from Picayune Ms? I knew him as a teen many many years ago, and he was part of a generation of offshore oil workers.

Does he owe you money?

Lawyers tap into gush of potential court actions
By Michael Peel in London


"Litigation lawyers said that information on the legal position provided by BP and the White House was still scanty. But they added that it would be surprising if claimants on the fund were allowed to bring separate private lawsuits against BP."


I heard a radio interview with Kenneth Feinberg last Friday. He said that if you had received what he called "interim payments" you could still pursue a private lawsuit. He also said that although no final decisions had been made, he thought it was proper that if you received what he called a "final judgment," you should agree not to sue.

It is essential that an injured party not relinquish their right to sue before they know what the administrator's "final judgment" amount is. How could anyone take the chance that they might get nothing? It's a different matter if you are satisfied with the amount and are willing to give up your right to sue as a condition of accepting it.

If anyone has more recent information, please post.

Just a completely wild guess but based on past experience. "Interim payments" might be several "tide me over" payments to live on or stay in business, that is to see you through your law suit. "Final judgment" might be a much larger lump sum payment that you take right now in full satisfaction of all your claims and waiver of right to sue. You'd have to choose.

Anybody know who the Chemical Safety Board is?

They are the guys who investigated Tx. City - but I don't know what relevance they would have to this incident?


Edited to add this snip - but I'm still not sure it's apples/apples from a technical ability to investigate perspective?

The CSB's investigation into the Texas City explosion, which killed 15 workers and injured at least 170 more, was the longest in the agency's history.

The CSB concluded that years of budget cuts and lax safety practices were factors in the explosion.

BP has consistently denied budget cuts contributed to that disaster and pledged to improve safety.

Bresland said the Deepwater Horizon investigation will examine safety cultures involved and effectiveness of relevant laws, regulations and industry standards.

An extremely important but little known agency:


They have jurisdiction over investigating important accidents and issuing recommendations. Sort of a National Transportation Safety Board for refineries and chemical plants. Some of the potential hazards that they deal with make Macondo or possibly even Bhopal look small by comparison. They also have been a focus of increased attention since 9/11.

BP Oil Disaster Costs U.S. State Pensions $1.4 Billion in Value

That is just the beginning - be rest assured that the higher cost for finding and producing oil will be built into everyone's bill within a year.

Not really. Oil is frangible so the price is based on the highest cost oil that meets the demand curve.

The DWH well was an exploration well so it wasn't expected to start producing for at least a few years if tied back to Thunder Horse or 10 to 15 years if it was to be a new facility.

The moratorium is mostly affecting exploration rigs, not anything currently in production. To the extent that rigs were shut down that were drilling development wells that reduction in oil will show up in about 2 to 5 years and the exploration wells will affect prices 10 years from now.

The long term affects will certainly increase prices but by that time the general public won't remember the events of 2010 and realize that some of the price increase (or more likely rationing) will be attributable to actions being taken right now.

The higher cost of operating an oil company --- from increased regulation, more safety measures, higher insurance, delays, are budgeted into the next budget cycle.

Budget cycles are annual.

But oil companies don't have the luxury of setting the price of oil (with the possible exception of Aramco) that is set by the market and is outside the control of companies like BP.

Yes - they will budget the increased costs next year, and budget the volume of oil they expect to sell, and they will make a stab at estimating the price they can sell it for. But they don't have control on that price. They may well decided that the cost of some projects will be too high to go forward which will also have an impact on oil costs, but not for several years.

Oil companies can control output, and also the pace of capex.

"Right now it appears the blow out was caused by cement failure at 18,000' as a result of removing the heavy drill mud from the system."

Rockman: I don't mean to coerce you into doing this, and maybe i have missed an explanation you already gave, but i was wondering whether i could get you to expound on this a little.

Are you saying:

1. They should not have removed that mud before putting the top plug in because the mud gave them the only secondary protection available, given the open string casing they used, if something happened, like the cement failed;

2. They did not wait long enough for the cement to cure before displacing the mud;

3. The never should have displaced the mud, even after fitting the top plug.

If you'd prefer not to be pinned down on this, I understand.


syn -- we covered it in some detail early on. But again with the indulgence of the editors we can hit it once more for the benefit of the newbies. First my standard IF: if we have the early facts correct. The heavy mud column was not a secondary protection. The back pressure put on potentially productive oil/NG reservoir by the mud is THE prime control system during both the drilling and completion phases. Any shallower plugs, cmt and otherwise, should be considered a secondary protection IMHO. And as I've joked before I consider BOP's to the the worst line of defense...not the last line of defense. Did they wait long enough for the cmt to cure or was the cmt formulated/pumped properly? Perhaps but that's not the key issue IMHO. Cmt jobs fail all the time. That's why you do a pressure test on the cmt. It's the proof that the cmt is sufficient to hold the reservoir pressure. Regardless of the details the cmt obviously wasn't of sufficient quality. The well coming in as they replaced the heavy mud with sea water proves that. The validity of the cmt pressure test has been discussed in detail so I'll skip that aspect.

There's a valid reason for displacing the OBM (oil based mud) out of the csg before the well was temp abandoned. Been detailed before so I'll pass on that also. I would have displaced the OMB had it been my well. But I would have made very sure the cmt was capable of holding the reservoir back once the mud was displaced. I could have placed another drillable plug above the bottom of the hole. That might not have stopped the well kick completely if the cmt failed but it would have reduced the flow considerably. But I still would have triple checked the cmt to make very sure it was stable. But even if I were 100% confident in the cmt I still would have had the mud returns closely...very closely...monitored as we displaced. Again, IF we have the correct info they didn't watch the mud returns close enough to notice the well beginning to kick long before the blow out occurred.

Pin me down anytime you like. My opinions are free (and worth every penny of it). And the right answers cost no more than my incorrect ones.

"There's a valid reason for displacing the OBM (oil based mud) out of the csg before the well was temp abandoned. Been detailed before so I'll pass on that also."

newb warning ... i've been wondering about this for a while. is there any chance someone has a link to the explanation or if its short is it possible to re-state?

basically, i am wondering about the last finishing steps and state a well is left in before moving along?

Much Appreciated.

The short answe kow: need to clean out OBM before putting well on production. Last January instead of the one day/$30,000 I thought it would take to clean out OBM from old well it took 2 weeks/$500,000. And that was with a rig that costs 10% of what a DW rig would cost. OBM set up like epoxy. A real nightmare.

The short answe kow: need to clean out OBM before putting well on production. Last January instead of the one day/$30,000 I thought it would take to clean out OBM from old well it took 2 weeks/$500,000. And that was with a rig that costs 10% of what a DW rig would cost. OBM set up like epoxy. A real nightmare.

Can they displace OBM with water based mud of similar mudweight?

KL -- Never seen that done but certainly possible. Could even use a clear completion fluid with the proper weight. Who knows...you may have come up with the new displacement protocol.

again, from groundwater monitoring well viewpoint, after the drilling is done, the drilling fluids need to be completely removed in order to get good data. The only reason I have any experience around drilling at all is because I was the least experienced, hence cheapest, person they could afford to have on site during well development, (basically pumping, bailing & testing the water), for well over six months, quite a bit longer than they anticipated. Not directly correlatable to oil well production, just adding to general understanding.

In that case, (again, way off topic of oil wells), lost circulation problems meant adding lost circulation material, (LCM, basically bentonite clay, if I remember right), which ended up contaminating the well for the purpose of ground water monitoring. It was probably a fairly atypical job, but people rightly don't want radionuclides in their groundwater.

Sorry I don't have more relevant experience to share, but it was an interesting job.

"Again, IF we have the correct info they didn't watch the mud returns close enough to notice the well beginning to kick long before the blow out occurred.

Pin me down anytime you like. My opinions are free (and worth every penny of it). And the right answers cost no more than my incorrect ones."

Thank you very much, Rockman. I caught parts of that on prior posts, but not the entire newbee summary like that. Thank you.

I will have to look at the posts on the pressure tests. I have seen them characterized as both fails and passes. I guess it would still fall to the driller/tool pusher on whether to proceed given the tests, and to keep a close eye on the mud given the shaky tests, if it's accurate that they were shaky. I assume that's their call.

But it all seems to fall on Transocean, then. Nothing BP did regarding the choice of the casing, the cementing, centralizers, bottoms up, lock-down sleeve would be a direct cause if failed cement should have been anticipated and guarded against no matter what, and especially so here given what preceded, assuming we have the facts, which you highlight is the big IF here.

I know BP is responsible for the whole ball of wax under the law and probably under some of the contracts at issue. But on the practical level, it would appear under this scenario that it was not BP's failure that allowed the blowout to develop to the point where it could not be stopped. It would seem arguments could be made that BP increased the risk of a blowout with the choices made and corners cut. But the crew should have been anticipating a possible kick anyway, even if they did not know the extra risk created by BP through design choices and cut corners.

I think there is a counter-argument to this that given the high risks and disasterous consequences, anything done to cuts corners that increases the risk of losing control of a well is unacceptable and inevitably can be viewed as a contributing cause if well control is subsequently lost even if other failures happened that resulted in a failure to contain the well.

Thanks, RM, and sorry for asking for asking you to re-plow that ground for me.

Who insures BP against liability? (if anyone)

Word is they are self-insured. But i would imagine some of their contracts require some sort of insurance for some risks in certain contexts.

When you throw in the BOP and MMS, the chain of causation/responsibility gets pretty messy.

sync: Corollary. Does Anadarko have liability insurance?

I have no idea. My guess is they must have some kind of protection to hedge the risk. You have to be exceptionally bold and big not to have something in place. Either that, or foolish. It's a company-betting proposition otherwise.

f-b: I don't have the cite right off but BP became a self insurer a few years ago, as I remember. They might be required to carry some limited special purpose insurance in some areas in order to drill in some places.

I read in The Times [London] some time ago about BP and Lloyd's of London arguing in court about who has to pay for what, so I assume that BP has some insurance. Have no idea how much.

syn -- the drill crew assists in pressure testing but it is still the sole responisbility of the operator (BP) to validate and oeier accept reject the test results. Like most activities on the rig some service company or consultant is providing info to the company man. But the company made decision to displace the riser....not anyone on the drill crew.

And a directive/reminder from the company to carefully monitor mud returns would have been like telling the crew to chew their food before swallowing? Not likely to happen i would imagine. Some of the e-mails seem to direct operations fairly closely, but there are not enough to get an accurate sense of how closely.

It seems like someone somewhere used the same logic the junior engineer used when he said "hopefully" gravity will keep the casing centered so no need for the 21 centralizers. "Hopefully" that cement job really is good and so no need to check the mud or the chart. Except there was a pay-off in time savings in skipping the certralizers. There does not appear to have been one for failing to monitor the mud that I have seen(other than for whoever decided to skip it, unless it was simple forgetting). So maybe one is a rational (even if arguably wrong) choice, while the other is a screw-up, a failure to perform for an irrational reason such as forgetting, laziness, distraction.

the junior engineer used when he said "hopefully" gravity will keep the casing centered so no need for the 21 centralizers

It has already been pointed out by someone here, that BP had gotten a drill tool stuck in this well early on. They had to cement the stuck tool in place, back off, and redirect the drilling to get around that place. That was part of the earlier history of the well. I doubt (but I'm not at all and expert) that when they got the tool stuck they were deliberately drilling a helix (cork screw) well in the expectation that they would get a tool stuck and the redirect could then be straight down so that they could save on centralizers. Somehow I just don't believe BP drill bosses have that much foresight.

In fairness, the bend from the redirect might be much higher up in the well than the place where the centralizers were being placed. But ... I wonder. Do straight down wells really go straight so that a plumb line, would not touch the well wall over a distance of hundreds or a thousand feet? Rockman, is the work done to that precision? Deviation from plumb less than a few inches?

The surveys are in the the "Halliburton Production Casing Design Report":


They most likely got stuck initially to differential sticking and then lost hole integrity. I havent seen the specifics described on that event is not described.

It's total speculation without the mudlogs and there would be plenty of speculation even then.

"I doubt (but I'm not at all and expert) that when they got the tool stuck they were deliberately drilling a helix (cork screw)"

Actually, they were. Well, according to Rockman, the hole is never straight, it in fact takes a helix route to the bottom, although not a tightly compressed one. But enough of one that centering the casing by gravity misses the point that even if you do that, centralizers may be needed due to hole deviations. The junior engineer apparently did not grasp that.


This is where I'm still a bit puzzled. According to testimony. the negative pressure tests were not to a BP spec but added by Transocean (intended as an additional safety measure) at the request of Transocean OIM Jimmy Harrel. Could this have added confusion (not whether it should have but did it in actuality) to the process of deciding on whether the results were "good" or "bad"?

Harrel testified that, as far as he was concerned, they had two good negative tests and he understood the earlier apparent anomaly. Subsea Supervisor Chris Pleasant testified that BP had said "no go" after the first negative pressure test and that there was disagreement between Transocean personnel as to the meaning of the results of the first pressure test and so a second test was performed. After the second test all involved apparently agreed to proceed...

Tow -- I’ve never had the job of interpreting such tests. But I’ve seen the plots and understand the process. It’s essentially a psi vs. time plot. So it’s not so much that X psi was seen but looking at the slope changes of the curve. Sometimes obvious….sometimes not. It’s an interpretation so I can’t really judge the statements of those hands. Multiple plots/interpretations could certainly confuse folks. Not uncommon to have to figure out contradictory data in a drilling ops.

But any statement from that hands involved that there was even the slightest concern then I’m all the more confused. If they were 110% confident in the pressure test they still should have been watching the mud returns closely IMHO. But have any doubt what so ever and not make a point of watching returns very closely? That’s very hard for me to understand.

There were big wigs on board and supposedly a celebratoty party re: lack of accidents.
If that is true, it stands to reason it affects all on board to some degree. It thrws off your cues and timing when the big kahunas come around
My 2 cents.

I think you really hit on something important, syncro. For the reasons you state, I don't see how BP can be considered to be the negligent party here. Their well design was approved by the MMS, and was not the cause of the accident. A more conservative design would not have prevented the accident. The negative pressure test(s) may have been dubious, but the decision to displace the sea water was mutually agreed by BP and TransOcean. The real negligence was the failure to properly monitor the mud returns, something that is (or should be) automatically checked by the drilling crew (TransOcean).

What am I missing here?

Pressure testing and cement bond logs (CBL) seem to be entirely different critters looking to find the same answer--will the cement job hold. Are CBLs a the exception rather than the rule on deepwater wells? Also the emails concerning the number of casing centralizers have been batted around quite a bit of late. Are they talking 21 as opposed 6 centralizers in the whole 2 1/2 miles of well bore, or just through the portion above the pay area that needed to be cement sealed? I've no experience with trying to keep something a big as that pipe system centered in such a long hole but I have seen how smaller steel loves to wander in much shorter runs, even 21 centralizers for a couple miles of hole doesn't seem like many to my untrained eye.

The centralizers would only be placed in the zone to be cemented - probably about 500 feet. So you would have a centralizer every 20 feet or so.

There is no need to deal with the other 2 miles of pipe as it will not be cemented and, as such, does not need to be centralized.

In the Halliburton engineer's models, I think the 21 were spaced over about 900 feet, the 7 were spaced over less than 300 feet. I don't know about the 6 that actually were used.

Thanks, I'd a feeling that must be the case but I've read so many fragmented stories that a real picture of the intended hole has been obscured in my poor brain.

Now if I can just get a feel for how necessary it is to have a cement bond log before relying on the cement. I can't tell if the CBL is just another fancy analytical toy that adds very little to the real knowledge about cement job integrity or if the CBL is truly a very helpful but somewhat time consuming-thus costly-knowledge enhancing tool that should almost always be used but is sometimes (often?) not employed in the name of expediency.

Luke -- I'll offer my very prejudiced view of CBL vs. pressure test. I never consider a CBL a method of evaluating cmt strenght. I'll use it to tell how well I've isolated the producing zone. When I perforate the csg I only want that interval to produce. If the cmt isn't solid and continuous a portion of the reservoir below the zone might flow in the completion. If there is a water leg below the zone it would hurt the production profile and cause premature abandonment. Thus I usually run a CBL when completing and not just after running pipe. Also, CBL's can be very difficult to interpret and at time very misleading. I've seen good CBL on bad cmt jobs and vice versa.

As far as I'm concerned a pressure test is essential. Consider the most common circumstance: I’ve set csg and will be drilling deeper. My primary concern is that the cmt csg shoe be able to handle the higher mud weight in the deeper hole. Assuming I may have to raise my MW to 18.0 ppg. So I’ll pressure up to 18.2 ppg against the csg shoe. And when I drill out the cmt I’ll also drill an extra 10’ of new hole. So now I’ll know that the cmt can handle the higher MW and also that the rocks won’t fracture at the same high MW.

Opinions will vary but I would never count on a CBL to tell me the cmt job will hold a potential pressure level.

Thank you HeadingOut for the updates on the progress.

I hope in a future post you can expand on the two different procedures for the relief well. I am sure most people nodded their heads when they read it, but for the untrained few like me, it would be nice to have some further explanations: Milling? exactly how is that accomplished? Perforating charges? Packer?

Thanks again for your post.

I very much have enjoyed this site. Don't care much for the political wrangling, but for the technical pieces, you are unequaled. Thanks.

A very common sense view:


Question for BP: How Close Are We to the Unthinkable?

Jun 18 2010, 12:02 PM ET
Lisa Margonelli

"And finally, more alarming, and possibly a gross overstatement, there is the possibility that as the ground and the casing shift, the whole thing collapses inward, the giant Blow Out Preventer falls over, the drill pipe shoots out of the remains of the well, or any number of other scenarios that could make it very difficult or impossible to eventually stop the gusher even with the relief wells. (I do not know the author of this post, and cannot vouch for its accuracy. I do not share the author's fear that there is a conspiracy to hide this information. My sense is that it's unthinkable and so no one is asking the questions.) Thus the relief well are being drilled in a race with the integrity of the ground around the well and the casing.

If they don't make it, we're looking at a very very different kind of accident. (This is where the "decade" remark comes in.) And if so, Tony Hayward will look back upon yesterday as a relatively pleasant interlude before the *real* disaster struck.

It's time to start asking for a best guess of what is going on in the well hole. It is dishonest not to."

And time for BP to come out and give us the same technical data they are working with --- so we can draw our own conclusions.

If all that happened, you could stick a cast iron bridge plug in there, or better yet, a packer.

PQ17 quotes a piece in The Atlantic:

"I do not know the author of this post, and cannot vouch for its accuracy."

In the original piece, the word "post" is an embedded link to the dougr comment, complete with Editorial Comment directed to new readers, and responses to the dougr comment, almost all of which, as it happens, are positive.

The Atlantic writer doesn't mention TOD, but a commenter says TOD is the source of the dougr comment, implying this gives it credibility.

Folks that hang out in the Oil Spill threads should pop over to the DrumBeat threads, you see a lot of the news articles you keep posting in here.

Like the one you just posted, it was in the discussion in the DrumBeat of the 18th or 19th. And a link to that article is in a Richard Heinberg link in today's DrumBeat.

So this is a General At you ALL, to go look at the other key-posts in the other areas of the site. See the Red links on the left hand side of the page, for current key posts other than these and the DrumBeat, which is a daily news download kind of general topics thread.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs from a long time TOD person currently from Arkansas.

He noted that there is no sign of ongoing erosion, and that the BOP is tilting at an angle of 10 - 12 degrees.

Anyone know- has the BOP been tilting 10 degrees since April 20, or is this tilt becoming more pronounced over time? What were the results of the seabed integrity test from a week or two ago?

There is no hard information to indicate one way or another --- that is the sad part.

BP and the USCG is withholding the detailed technical data that allow us to make an independent judgment.

The "10-12 degrees" was in reference to the top of the flex joint where the cap is attached, not in reference to the BOP as a whole. Here is the excerpt:

Q: Do you have any signs that the—there’s erosion? In other words, that the existing containment gear, the blowout preventer, et cetera, are failing in any way that could lead to a larger and larger flow? In other words, that you could be chasing a moving target in terms of flow?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Nothing that we’re familiar with at this point. The entire arrangement is kind of listed a little bit. I think it’s 10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular so it’s not quite straight up. And that causes a little bit of a challenge in sealing this containment cap in the rubber seals around it.

But none that I’m aware of, but we will double check that. If there’s any change to that, we’ll make an announcement by tomorrow. But I think—I don't think we have any indication that’s going on.

From: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/683223/

He noted that there is no sign of ongoing erosion, and that the BOP is tilting at an angle of 10 - 12 degrees.

I question that comment. 10 - 12 degrees would be a lot for the whole BOP to be leaning, and bullseye readings and visuals we have been given do not support that much lean of the BOP. The bullseye readings looked like about 2 degrees at the well head and 1 degree higher up on the BOP stack

Now the flex joint that the riser was attached to is another matter. It is clearly bent and 10 to 12 degrees sounds about right.

If the shallowest potential area for a problem with the casing is as has been stated at around 1000' below the mudline, how many FEET would the BOP/wellhead have to move to allow an angle of 10-12*? A lot. It would be clearly visible from the ROVs, which have shot hours and hours of video showing the base of the BOP and there's nothing that would lead anyone to believe it's anywhere other than where it should be. There are voids around the base of the pipe (early shots I saw looked scary, as I saw it from more angles and different cameras it's not nearly as deep as I first thought) but the oil hands here have said that's normal from driving in the first section of casing.

However I expect all this to be ignored and cries of "the BOP is falling! the BOP is falling!" will ring out across the land.

I see where Steven Newman is lobbying the press for an early end on the moratorium. I am just warning all Jedi he is not to be trusted for he is a Sith Lord, Darth Newman. May The Force Be with You.


I wonder how good he is at that whole voice projection, mind suggestion thing. He is definitely going to need that power. That and his light saber skills.

Everyone keeps talking about the increases made in the capture rate of oil (both in the flaring of oil and gas, and in storage) that is leaking into the gulf, but yet oil is still escaping, are there any new estimates on the total flow? It's hard to believe that some drastic erosion isn't taking place. How else can they explain the drastic increase in capture rate and still not getting the entire flow?

Aside from the leak I haven't heard anything on the clean-up it self. Is it gaining any headway or are they fighting a loosing battle (not being able to keep up with the leak)? Is the spill still increasing in size and by how much?



No one knows whether the flow rate is increasing. In a couple of weeks they should be able to capture 53K bbl/day, so we'll know then whether the flow is more or less than that. On keeping up:

42,000 bpd-- current median flow estimate.
25,000 bpd-- current capture rate
5,000 bpd-- current rate of in situ burning.
1,500 bpd-- current rate of skimming.*
unknown-- rate of bacterial digestion.
unknown-- evaporation rate.

*Assuming 12% oil in the collected oil-water mix (per Allen's estimate).

How much of that is gas? The gas can be converted to hydrates / supersaturated solutions as well as vented upwards.

Link to Fisher labs --- with some photos of the lifeforms that cluster around the hydrocarbon seeps:


been talking to a few folks involved in making recommendations for upcoming safety overhaul of offshore by the MMS...starting to sound like a real catch 22

turns out there is a real danger that some older gen rigs...mostly old gen jackups ....are in real danger of becoming obsolete with the new regulations being formulated ....

some safety recommendations being put in place for the rig floor are not easy to apply since the older gens have limited rig floor space and the risk of cramping the rig floor is very real......similar situations are going to arise with the mandate of increased rams in the BOP stack and other mods being recommend with regards to response capabilities .....it is starting to look like out of the 33 capable of setting up shop in OCS ....5/6 (maybe 7-9) will simply not be able to meet the new suite of operational regulations and others will certainly end up in yards for extensive re-engineering or just move abroad ....

it is starting to look like the drilling contractor landscape will change drastically .....and ironically it is the big contractors like transocean that will become even bigger players....

OH BP what hast thou done !!

Trade war started Star Wars. It is the dark side.

And the older rigs will be pawned off to lesser operators operating offshore Africa, South America, South China sea, etc...

Awaiting their next accident.

yeah well they will move ...no doubt ...but there is nothing in the pipeline to replace the ones that move out .....a rig is essentially a small city block on a boat ....not many around and take upwards of 5 yrs to build one

an average DW rig supports around 1400-1500 high paying jobs .....besides generating a ton load of ancillary economic activity.....its all good for someone in Maine to sit and type "ban drilling ban drilling" ....no job/family is being effected out there......same as its easy for someone in TX or LA to support a ban on lobster fishing (ala maine lobster) ......what gets lost in this all is the human touch......fishermen as a group are not the most educated bunch....to expect a 40 yrs old fisherman to suddenly pick up a replacement trade IMHO glosses over the fact that the fisherman has no other marketable skills ...same goes for most rig crew....again not the most educated lot around....work in a rig is so specialized that most guys oin a crew specialize in just the particular task they are tasked with.... a guy running wireline is all he does ....he can and most do for 40 yrs till he retires ...to expect such ppl who have no other marketable skills to pick up another trade again is out of touch with reality.....folks like me don't get effected...you can ban drilling for 2 yrs and it won't even make a dent in my yearly bonus .....i suppose like always the "little people" get pissed on ...

just my 2 cents

ali: "OH BP what hast thou done !!"

Some shareholders may be thinking the same thoughts:

BP boss retreats from spill as shares hit 13-year low



A repeat of the mid 80's wont make the long term picture any better either. Another generation who wouldn't touch the industry with a barge pole!

"Another generation who wouldn't touch the industry with a barge pole!"

bingo !!....a highly cyclical industry produces sharp up and down swings....case in point

my drilling sup graduated out of TAMU in early 80's.....things were so bad a qualified engg form TAMU (no less) coudln't find work and went to work as a roustabout in west TX for Grey Wolf Drilling for 2 yrs before grey wolf was able ot offer the him a proper drill engg postions......but then he knew the ins and outs and quickly rose up the food chain at grey wolf before hopping ship to chevron to come grind our belly fat ...

OTOH ...i graduated form TAMU late 90's .....this was when a gen had given up pete engg as a viable career path and our graduating class was just 32 ppl .....needless to say things had picked up and i rmbr still....companies were lining up with fat sign on bonuses to recruit anyone with a pete degree who was able to give even basic answers during the interview.....all 32 of us had at least 2 offers ....

but it seems like pete engg as a career path is again about to take another plunge into obscurity..

I have observed generally that a discipline out of favor when entering college is likely to be in demand by the time you graduate, and vice-versa. It seems the student supply over-compensates in both directions. (TAMU EE '83)

Some of the hands I am sure are reconsidering their offshore livelihood - even without a moratorium. I decided 25 years ago that I would never step foot on another offshore rig. There may be a few that used days off to develop another skill or small business. That has been my advice to the new generation of hands.

Personally I developed other skills in alternative energy - primarily solar and energy efficiency. Unfortunately those skills are subject to the political winds as well. Business models built on the existence of tax credits usually have catastrophic (in a business sense) failure once the credits are eliminated. Energy Efficiency has a fantastic potential, (Home Energy Ratings, my specialty in this area) however again politics has kept this hobbled.

In regards to deepwater drilling, I think that it will have a similar status to the nuclear power industry since Three Mile Island. Although new reactors were not banned- new construction was limited by the bleak economic reality by the operators. It will only be more difficult from regulations to getting insurance now that the full risk has been realized. One more blowout or a cat 5 hurricane ripping through and we will see the gradual abandonment of deepwater GOM. I expect an increase in imported oil for as long as it is available.

When it becomes unavailable I expect the government at the Hands door with "defense related priority" impressed service writs.

This is my first comment on Oil Drum, but I have been referring this site to those interested in the oil business for a couple of years now. My background is geology and I was a petroleum geologist from 1974 to 1989, having worked for Gulf Oil in West Texas and Sun Oil in California. I have recently been looking into a bit of Gulf Coast geology surrounding the BP well and would like to know a bit more than I have found concerning the Mocondo well.

Can somebody explain what type of reservoir was found in this discovery well (age and depositional environment) as well as trapping mechanism. Any links or insights would be appreciated.



Federal judge blocks drilling moratorium in Gulf

A federal judge in New Orleans, Louisiana, has blocked a six-month federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf.


White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the government will immediately appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Judge block Gulf offshore drilling moratorium
Jun 22 01:54 PM US/Eastern, By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.

President Barack Obama's administration has halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.

Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger. . . .

U.S. Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge

Diamond Offshore Co., owner of the world's second-largest floating drilling rig fleet, has filed a separate lawsuit against the regulatory agencies over the ban in Houston federal court. That suit, which accused the government of illegally "taking'' its drilling contracts, worth up to $500,000 a day, has a scheduling conference in Houston this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas. . . .The case is Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar, 2:10-cv-01663, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

It is very interesting to read the Judge's ruling without the filter of the press saying what he said. It may be found at


Read it . . . man, he really reams out the administration.

If I was president, the judge would be at the top of my list for the next Supreme Court nominee.


I'll offer a different perspective that many folks in the country haven't considered. We'll start with the proposition that most Americans are truly sad about the economic losses to the Gulf Coast region by the drilling moratorium. Combined with the damage done to the local economies by the oil pollution it's truly tragic. But now that we know the gov't and the oil industry underestimated the risk we should step down for a period of time to make sure the system's safety standards are improved. Having worked in the oil patch for 35 years and having seen much first hand I really can't argue to strongly against that position even though I do think it's a bit of overreaction.

But shouldn't the rest of the country be equally concerned about the safety of the current 1.6 million bbls of oil being produced from these same offshore areas? We're watching the nightmare of one well spewing tens of thousands of bbls of oil per day into the GOM. What about a platform failure that could spew hundreds of thousands of bbls of oil per day into the water? The safety of these facilities has been qualified by the exact same folks who considered the BP operation to be an acceptable risk. Everyone comfortable with that little bit of news? If we consider the safety assumptions of the gov't and industry to be insufficient with the drilling phase should we not be equally concerned, if not more so, about a potential production catastophy that could make the current oil spill look minor? FYI: there are no BOP installed on producing wells. Yes...other control devices but not the so called "last line of defense".

So, should the gov't order a 6 month shut down of GOM production while it evaluates potential safety issue? It is the start of hurricane season after all and has been forecast as a potentially very bad season. Certainly doing so would cost the national economy many billions of dollars as well as many thousands of jobs. But that's the same price the folks in the Gulf Coast are being forced to deal with today. And that's on top of the economic losses they are suffering from the oil spill. At least the rest of the country has been impacted very little by the environmental damage. There might be a little side benefit to a production shut down: give folks a small but temporary taste of a PO future. Might actually start a serious national discussion about Peak Oil.

As someone once said: "Occasionally great personal sacrifice in needed. And as long as I'm not the one sacrificing I OK with it".

It makes sense from a safety and risk management standpoint, but not a political one. If politics starts making too much sense to too many, that is when the real problems start.


There can be a much finer calibrated "shutdown" than just a crude moratorium on new exploration (it does not affect production) wells.

The 6 month ban is a political blunt instrument to make it look like the government is "doing something".

Why not sort the activities by risk and jobs affected, and try, just try to limit the impact on the industry while holding off on the riskiest activities?

PQ -- true but I can appreciate the political pressure to do something substantial right away. What's really frustrating is the time lag. The new presidential committee won't even have their first gathering until mid-July. Granted we don't have enough facts to pound the table with but collectively I think the folks at TOD have a decent handle on the situation. Imagine if we had subpoena power and the threat filing perjury charges: how much would we understand today? I do think there should have been an immediate stand down of all drilling activity everywhere in the GOM and have a complete BOP inspection. Might have taken a few weeks...maybe more. And an immediate clarification of safety protocols. I think you've seen my very prejudiced opinion on the matter of monitoring mud returns even when there's no serious threat. And as I suggested some days ago I wouldn't be surprised that drilling in the GOM has never been safer than it is today. Whether that's an acceptable safely level for the gov't/public is a different question. But I'll bet you lunch that every time a riser has been displaced since the blow out there have been multiple hands assigned to watch mud returns. And another set of hands to watch those watchers.

So we're talking a 30-day stand down for development of a temporary inspection/testing/observation protocol. Then 30-60 days to complete implementation of immediate testing and staffing needs. Note that some sites would be on line before all of them were finished. That sounds reasonable.

Then follow up with permanent BOP and other requirements changes in 3-6 months and allow a year to implement these instead of the temporary requirements.

What is the safety record of wells after they have been successfully converted to production status? Could you write something about that, even if only generally>


count -- I don't have that data base. There have been production spills but obviously nothing of the magnitude of the BP incident. But OTOH there have not been a drilling catastrophe in the GOM like the BP accident either. So pre-blow out what would you say the odds were of it happening? Probably no better than the odds of a 300,000 bopd production facility of failing catastrophically. That's always going to be a problem with the probability of fairly rare events. The odds of your getting hit in the head with a meteorite is extremely small. But regardless of the odds if you do get hit you're just as dead as though the odds were 50/50.

It's regrettable this has to work out like this, but what Rockman advocates is absolutely the only sane course at the moment.

So, because of our industry arrogance and govt. corruption/incompetence, we have to shut down the entire Gulf now. We should have addressed this before, but didn't, so there has to be real pain and suffering now, because we admit we left you hanging without a net all this time, and that's unacceptable we now see. Big mistake. Sorry!

It makes too much sense, RM. Will never happen.

"Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger. . . ."

Yes, the Interior Department would have to admit too many unpleasant truths to state the facts clearly! But still, the judge seems to have to bury his head in the sand to make overlook the showing being made in the GOM. Can't he take judicial notice of that?

From reading the brief, I'm betting that he'd have gone with shutting down in deeper than 1000 feet. That's what the engineers reviewing the thing suggested, and that's where the testing started showing safety equipment breaking down.

But they pulled 500 feet because that's where the cutoff for floaters was. Just because they were floaters - not because equipment started malfunctioning in a pressure regieme > 3000 psi.

I wonder who's inspecting meat?

Based on other oil companies' testimony to Congress last week, there is "no better plan" in place than the one being implemented to contain another large leak.

I was hoping that they would get better safety regulations, possibly a method of partial drilling of RWs (So that RW completion will take several weeks instead of months)

Six months was enough time to come up with better safety regulations.
There was just too much mess within MMS and duh, with the regulation agency a mess....

The people who are complaining about the spill the most don't want the moratorium.

I guess its back to same old same old.


You have identified a number of failure modes, and how such failures may have occurred. For most it appeared they could be handled by straight forward conservative engineering and strict attention to established protocols and precautions.

What about proceeding under a "belt and suspender" cautious approach while comprehensive reviews are taking place? That would seem to be more effective in progressing our rate of oil supply development while being much less expensive than the 6 month shut down or the significantly higher price of oil in the future from such a shutdown.

Logical david but putting it into practice is another matter. We've joked about having Rockman Inc inspectors do just that. But that would require the gov't to trust insiders. OTOH there seems to be a consensus that we can't trust gov't inspectors either. Your idea could be easily done IF there were confidence in the new process. But how to instill that confidence in the public? If the public doesn't sign off on it can we expect the politicians to do so?

I know I'm concerned about all those "inspected" wells out in the Gulf; I supported Obama's moratorium, but was hoping there would be some allowance of inspected and approved wells being returned back into service at an earlier date.

Drawing an arbitrary line in the sand for six months while new processes and regulations were developed sounds unreasonable; couldn't they have sent out new inspectors to the wells and returned them to work after approval?

Quote: "What about a platform failure that could spew hundreds of thousands of bbls of oil per day into the water? The safety of these facilities has been qualified by the exact same folks who considered the BP operation to be an acceptable risk. Everyone comfortable with that little bit of news? If we consider the safety assumptions of the gov't and industry to be insufficient with the drilling phase should we not be equally concerned, if not more so, about a potential production catastophy that could make the current oil spill look minor? FYI: there are no BOP installed on producing wells. Yes...other control devices but not the so called "last line of defense"."

RM, I take issue with the above statements on several levels. There have historically been safety devices on offshore producing wells. Evolution has made them more and more safe from catastrophes as technology and experience has progressed. How many hurricanes have come through the gulf and across producing platforms, even destroyed some, but we have not seen massive spills, largely because the safety devices have worked. These safety devices are tested frequently and witnessed by inspectors on an unannounced basis. They are designed to remain open by applied pressure and fail "close". They are, in effect, a last line of defense if a wellhead is compromised. I might also mention that if a safety device fails on inspection by the MMS, that well or even the platform in some cases is shut in until re-inspected by the MMS. So, I am very comfortable with that "little bit of news" as you put it. That's not to say there will never be an accident and if some asswipe bypasses a safety device to keep production rolling along and ends up with a catastrophe like we are seeing today, then the government should bankrupt them too.

I understand Ex. But if I folowed your list of reasons to not be concerned it seems most were applicable to the BP well prior to the blow out. Back to the same basic problem: no matter how well built a piece of equipment is or how well it's maintained it can be difficult to keep some idiot from screwing it up.

"...But shouldn't the rest of the country be equally concerned about the safety of the current 1.6 million bbls of oil being produced from these same offshore areas? ..."

may be the key to the decision of the Courts at this particular point. Not only is the *local*population more aware of safety issues, questions that would formerly have been dismissed as not worthy of serious consideration are being addressed by credentialed experts across multiple disciplines. And population has been expanded to include a multinational base of interested parties. TOD is a good example of this phenomenon. Remember when the majority of persons surveyed approved deep water drilling? That profile has changed significantly on an individual/local level and on a multi-national level as some countries will no longer permit risky drilling projects on their soil/in their waters.

The public has educated itself to the point of being justifiably fearful of what is transpiring in the DWH situation. Not quite frightened enough to be willing to sacrifice personally, but getting there pretty quickly. I think this is a good opportunity for the Administration to recoup it's knight in shining armor image. The problem will be in determining how long it's safe to draw out the drama of the Jedi against the Death Star? Will the Courts rule for the Rebels or the Empire? Stay tuned!

"...But the order was challenged by a coalition of businesses that provide services and equipment to offshore drilling platforms...state of Louisiana, arguing that the moratorium would damage its economy."

"...president “strongly believes that continuing to drill at those depths ... “makes no sense” and puts people’s lives at risk..."

Look at the buzz words. Semiotics is all.

As someone once said: "Occasionally great personal sacrifice in needed. And as long as I'm not the one sacrificing I OK with it".

Aw Rockman, have you been listening to those Tea Party people again?? LOL

From the Obama administration's point of view the decision is not a terrible outcome. If there is another blow out on moratorium wells, then it's the judge's fault. "We tried." And most people will go back to work. And those who want to see the moratorium to continue will blame the judiciary.

The Sierra Club should sue to enforce the Endangered Species Act..

They would probably have more power than the president...

If they can control the Edward's Aquifer in Texas, they can control a marsh in the Mississippi Delta

The Report
patently lacks any analysis of the asserted fear of threat of
irreparable injury or safety hazards posed by the thirty-three
permitted rigs also reached by the moratorium. It is incidentspecific
and driven: Deepwater Horizon and BP only. None others.


This gets kind of entertaining around page 18 (on an all day conference call and multi-tasking... ;>D )

The Report seems to define “deepwater” as
drilling beyond a depth of 1000 feet by referencing the increased
difficulty of drilling beyond this depth; similarly, the shallowest
depth referenced in the maps and facts included in the Report is
“less than 1000 feet.” But while there is no mention of the 500
feet depth anywhere in the Report itself, the Notice to Lessees
suddenly defines “deepwater” as more than 500 feet.

The Shallow Water Energy Security
Coalition Presentation attempts at some clarification of the
decision to define “deepwater” as depths greater than 500 feet. It
is undisputed that at depths of over 500 feet, floating rigs must
be used, and the Executive Summary to the Report refers to a
moratorium on drilling using “floating rigs.” Other documents
submitted summarize some of the tests and studies performed. For
example, one study showed that at 3000psi, the shear rams on three
of the six tested rigs failed to shear their samples; in the follow
up study, various ram models were tested on 214 pipe samples and
7.5% were unsuccessful at shearing the pipe below 3000psi. How
these studies support a finding that shear equipment does not work
consistently at 500 feet is incomprehensible. If some drilling
equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all
airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon
Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavyhanded,
and rather overbearing.

Why is he not recused? US District Court Judge Martin Feldman, who ruled in favor of oil related businesses hoping to end a 6-month moratorium on drilling for oil in deepwater, financial disclosure: http://www.judicialwatch.org/jfd/Feldman_Martin_L_C/2008.pdf

Damn good question and likely part of the basis for the appeal to the U.S. Circuit.

Is that the same guy that BP was trying to get to handle any lawsuits against them, or somebody else?

Also - any of you legal eagles....Can the feds just get around the injunction by dragging their feet on approvals. Like instead of taking 5 minutes to approve things (which was bad), take, say, 5 or 6 months to approve them?

And I'm w/ ExDrlngMgr on disagreeing w/ Rock on this one - provided that drilling went forward in 'belt and suspenders' mode. E.g. testing cutting of casing, mandated design and monitoring procedures, etc.

TT: "by dragging their feet on approvals." Sure. But that's not legal tactic. That's a "red tape" bureaucratic tactic. "The paper work is right here on my desk and I'll get to it as soon as I have a chance."

I was unable to obtain the name of the judge BP ran to. But per a commenter here and his/her research, this judge may be connected to the oil patch. I don't know much about the judges in this area but a lot of them may have oil patch relationships. If you challenge this judge, you might wind up in front of a worse judge. And you might also piss all the judges off. Judges don't like to see a colleague's impartiality challenged unless it's really obvious. It's embarrassing to have a party say to you you're too prejudiced to sit. In particular, the US government in a publicity case.

I addition, as I said in this thread elsewhere, the administration probably doesn't see this as a devastating loss.

[Edit: I posted before I saw Syncro's comment below. He/she has better source than I, but my speculation was correct. Just goes to show....]

Back when such things as ethics and trust in government mattered, judges were supposed to recuse themselves if there might be an appearance of impartiality.

I am not a lawyer but I have at times been basically interpreting various federal rules and regulations, and court decisions, as part of my employment.

In general this decision relies on the personal opinion of the judge much more than usual. This leaves at lot of room for appeals, because the facts can be explained in a different way by the government.

If I were to guess, this order will not hold up very long. On the other hand, unless Congress steps in or another law is used here to produce the same result, litigation may continue for some time - most likely with the moratorium in effect.

So is this total BS? Because if not .. .

"According to geologists, the first signs that the methane may burst its way through the bottom of the ocean would be manifest via fissures or cracks appearing on the ocean floor near the path of least resistance, ie, the damaged well head. Evidence of fissures opening up on the seabed have been captured by the robotic midget submarines working to repair and contain the ruptured well. Smaller, independent plumes have also appeared outside the nearby radius of the bore hole. When reviewing video tapes of the live BP feeds, one can see in the tapes of mid-June that there is oil spewing up from visible fissions. Geologists are pointing to new fissures and cracks that are appearing on the ocean floor. . . .

A methane bubble this large -- if able to escape from under the ocean floor through fissures, cracks and fault areas -- is likely to cause a gas explosion. With the emerging evidence of fissures, the tacit fear now is this: the methane bubble may rupture the seabed and may then erupt with an explosion within the Gulf of Mexico waters. The bubble is likely to explode upwards propelled by more than 50,000 psi of pressure, bursting through the cracks and fissures of the sea floor, fracturing and rupturing miles of ocean bottom with a single extreme explosion."

Please say BS.

I think some of the experts here say it is a possible risk, but highly unlikely. Somewhere between fatal asteroid impact and getting killed in a car accident.

cerv -- Not complete BS. Like may stories there are often accurate facts mixed in with less acceptable thoughts. There are natural oil/NG seeps in the GOM. Are there seeps around the blow out that are natural? Could these seeps be from the leaking well? Both answers are maybe. I've seen folks debating the existance of such leaks but no one has convinced me yet they are there. But could shallow csg be leaking oil/NG into the sea floor and then erupting around the well head? Certainly possible. About 35 years ago I had a rig destroyed by just a NG leak up the outside of a well head. But that rig sank...didn't catch fire or blow up. Have never heard of an instance where a subsea NG has ever blown up.

OTOH the reservoir pressure is well documented to be 11,900 psi so the 50,000 psi number is loney tunes IMHO. The highest pressure i've seen in the DW GOM was 19,000 psi.

Sort of tangentially related: the Miami Herald's good story today on the "cold-seep" communities of deepwater fauna. Made me wonder whether some of those whitish, stringish thingies we're seeing float by might be rudely-disanchored tubeworms.

I suspect the whitish stringy things are just precipitating methane hydrates. Definitely not tubeworms!

Cold seeps are common on the continental shelves and feature chemosynthetic communities based on methane or sulfides or both. These share many characteristics with rift communities which are sulfide based. The amounts of these chemicals released into the water are far less than the Deepwater leak. Even so they are toxic to some organisms that avoid them, such as most echinoderms - which is why you never see crinoids right at an active methane seep. In the fossil record we are able to determine if a deposit was a seep by looking at the ratios of stable oxygen and carbon isotopes, as well as general structures such as seep collars, as well as the fauna (Vesicomya being a commonly occurring bivalve). Methane seep communities were discovered relatively recently and are still under study (both modern and fossil).

Another thing that happens when methane reacts with seawater is calcite deposition. I have seen such deposition around some tidepool level seeps along the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Port Angeles where one can see bubbles of methane and hydrogen sulfide coming from underground. One can smell the sulfide and at times, ignite the methane. It would be interesting to see if such deposition is happening around the BOP etc.


"But that rig sank...didn't catch fire or blow up."

Just curious. What caused the sinking?

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates



tex -- therig floated on top of two giant pontoons. They filled up with water and thus the boat sank as they tend to do when they fill up with water. Did the Pontoons rupture or did the water from the fireboats do the deed? Opinions vary. But doesn't really matter too much IMHO: sunk is sunk.


Thanks. Constantly learning.

Assumed you hadn't overloaded the rig with Blue Bell.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates



Speaking of Blue Bell - all the talk here y'day forced me to try it. As good as I was led to believe.


I believe no matter how grievous a situation, a little Blue Bell brings the matter into perspective.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates




Actually, any ice cream 'will do' in a grievous a situation. But there's just something special about the Little Creamery in Brenham.

Back to the blow out.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. Socrates



"...is likely to cause a gas explosion. With the emerging evidence of fissures, the tacit fear now is this: the methane bubble may rupture the seabed and may then erupt with an explosion within the Gulf of Mexico waters. "
Like someone said in an earlier thread... Explosion? In the water? Wouldn't that require some oxygen?

Explosions can be caused by pressure release.


Methane doesn't exist as a gas under 5000 feet of water or in the formations below; as you can see in the ROV videos it comes out of the well as a liquid. Matai's doomsday scenario is based on a violent gas explosion at and below the seafloor, so it pretty much falls flat on its face in his third sentence.

Well, hydrates spontaneously explode at a certain temperature, and there's a lot of hot oil.

Matias seems unaware of the existence of hydrates, which indicates he knows less than you do, subsea, so why try to defend his bizarre scenario?

Not meant to defend. We don't know. We also don't know what we don't know about this formation and conditions above and nearby. Macondo spudded into one of the two largest, if not the largest areas of hydrate concentrations in the gulf.

That jpg sourced from: http://www.aade.org/houston/study/Fluids/11182009/F%20Tahmourpour%20Deep...

Deepwater Well Objectives
•Cement slurry should be placed in the entire annulus with no losses
•Temperature increase during slurry hydration should not destabilize hydrates
•There should be no influx of shallow water or gas into the annulus
•The cement slurry should develop strength in the shortest time after placement

Conditions in deepwater wells are not
conducive to achieving all of these
objectives simultaneously

Pretty stupid to keep on truckin after the "crazy / nightmare" descriptions from the engys if you ask me. If I think I'm having a nightmare I wake myself up.


"When Camilli observed hydrates after the earthquake, they "had broken away from the seafloor and had floated up and away. They're buoyant. One site, called Sleeping Dragon, a massive hydrate block was working its way out of the seafloor -- about the size of a school bus. There were pockmarks where the hydrates come out of the sea floor."

Sorry, subsea, I'm not following you. I thought the discussion was about the plausibility of Matias's gas bubble eruption scenario.

You are discussing methane hydrate deposits in the seafloor, and you seem to be concerned that they could lead to a nightmare of some sort. You cite a slide presentation on the problems with hydrates melting in the vicinity of well casing as a result of heat released during cement cure. And you cite an article that describe surface deposits of hydrates 8 miles from the leaking well at 3000 feet depth. That all makes me curious, but doesn't give me nightmares.

Can you describe known deposits of hydrates near the well in concentrations big enough to cause harm? What about a mechanism that would rapidly melt masses of hydrates at 2200 psi and near freezing temps? And a trigger that would escalate the melting to... to what exactly?

Give us something to work with, subsea, besides just calling other folks "pretty stupid".

Sorry, subsea, I'm not following you. I thought the discussion was about the plausibility of Matias's gas bubble eruption scenario.

I haven't seen Matai's article. I came in to state that there are methane hydrates in the vicinity. 8 miles is spitting distance. The bottom is silt.

You are discussing methane hydrate deposits in the seafloor, and you seem to be concerned that they could lead to a nightmare of some sort.

Nope. Hafle or his colleague used the words "crazy" and "nightmare" to describe the well.

You cite a slide presentation on the problems with hydrates melting in the vicinity of well casing as a result of heat released during cement cure. And you cite an article that describe surface deposits of hydrates 8 miles from the leaking well at 3000 feet depth. That all makes me curious, but doesn't give me nightmares.

Nor myself.

Can you describe known deposits of hydrates near the well in concentrations big enough to cause harm? What about a mechanism that would rapidly melt masses of hydrates at 2200 psi and near freezing temps? And a trigger that would escalate the melting to... to what exactly?

Can you say there are none? What depth would they be? Could hot oil contact with stabilized hydrates? Sure. Could they expand on contact with the hot oil and become unstable? Sure. Could this expansion accelerate rapidly? Sure. Watch Halliburton's slideshow again. Find the part on page 10 where it says "more severe".

I will say that given the problems with kicks and the knowledge of abundant hydrates close by, along with the dangers of drilling at that depth and lack of knowledge about whether there were unknown hydrates close by would have made me stop the well out of prudence. Was not meant to defend Matai or attack you. I'm just showing a possible source of combustible gas that wasn't cased in. I'll trust your assertion Matai's is a nutjob and spare the time of finding and reading his article. Don't need the noise.

Give us something to work with, subsea, besides just calling other folks "pretty stupid".

I stand by the "pretty stupid" statement. It's hubris and very common in the industry. To a man their competitors have stated that this "was not a well we would have drilled" or the equivalent. Caution to the wind, and here's what you get.

Exxon shut down the Blackbeard well under similar conditions. At what point does safety prevail?

There are a lot of questions about the hydrates in the area -- we know the area is loaded with them.

To be flatly honest, I have nothing but a hunch that there is something wrong that need to be investigated.

Solid hard scientific data about what is going on there. Not from speculation, but science, measurements, observation, tests, theories, etc.

I don't want to say much more --- because I have few facts to add to the discussion other than a seasoned researcher's nose that something is not right.

If I were NOAA, I would be doing a lot of work on the sea floor there to see if there is any evidence to show anything (if) changed, what might have moved, what might have altered.

Something is going on there.

I have posted this previously --- that in the realm of geological time, there is evidence of major change from gas eruptions.

But again --- I have no means to do good science --- just a hunch.

Exactly my point PQ17. Lay out a grid. Probe down into the silt with small autonomous ROVs that can burrow down with a water jet or similar. Log what's there. Catch us a clue eh? Hydrates are not the devil incarnate. They are an engineering problem begging to have all factors taken into account. Hydrates are an energy source which dwarfs all of the hydrocarbons ever produced. They are crystallized methane in a water lattice. Want nat gas? You got it. I'd prefer zero carbon but we're not close yet.

more oops and oh no!

(from www;jsmineset.com)

The BP crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has rightfully been analysed from the ecological perspective. People’s lives and livelihoods are in grave danger. But that focus has equally masked something very serious from a financial perspective, in my opinion, that could lead to an acceleration of the crisis brought about by the Lehman implosion.

People are seriously underestimating how much liquidity in the global financial world is dependent on a solvent BP. BP extends credit – through trading and finance. They extend the amounts, quality and duration of credit a bank could only dream of. The Gold community should think about the financial muscle behind a company with 100+ years of proven oil and gas reserves. Think about that in comparison with what a bank, with few tangible assets, (truly, not allegedly) possesses (no wonder they all started trading for a living!). Then think about what happens if BP goes under. This is no bank. With proven reserves and wells in the ground, equity in fields all over the planet, in terms of credit quality and credit provision – nothing can match an oil major. God only knows how many assets around the planet are dependent on credit and finance extended from BP. It is likely to dwarf any banking entity in multiples.

And at the heart of it all are those dreadful OTC derivatives again! Banks try and lean on major oil companies because they have exactly the kind of credit-worthiness that they themselves lack. In fact, major oil companies, conversely, spend large amounts of time both denying Banks credit and trying to get Bank risk off of their books in their trading operations. Oil companies have always mistrusted bank creditworthiness and have largely considered the banking industry a bad financial joke. Banks plead with oil companies to let them trade beyond one year in duration. Banks even used to do losing trades with oil companies simply to get them on their trading register… a foot in the door so that they could subsequently beg for an extension in credit size and duration. For the banks, all trading was based on what the early derivatives giant, Bankers Trust, named their trading system: RAROC – or, Risk Adjusted Return on Credit. Trading is a function of credit bequeathed, mixed with the risk of the (trading) position. As trading and credit are intertwined, we might do well to remember what might happen to global liquidity and markets if BP suffers what many believe to be its deserved fate of bankruptcy. The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has already been and will be further undermined by BP’s distress. They are one of the only “hard asset” entities backing up this so-called exchange.

If BP does go bust (regardless of whether it is deserved), and even if it is just badly wounded and the US entity is allowed to fail, the long-term OTC derivatives in the oil, refined products and natural gas markets that get nullified could be catastrophic. These will kick-back into the banking system. BP is the primary player on the long-end of the energy curve. How exposed are Goldman sub J. Aron, Morgan Stanley and JPM? Probably hugely. Now credit has been cut to BP. Counter-parties will not accept their name beyond one year in duration. This is unheard of. A giant is on the ropes. If he falls, the very earth may shake as he hits the ground.

As we are beginning to see, the Western pension structure, financial trading and global credit are all inter-twined. BP is central to this, as a massive supplier of what many believe(d) to be AAA credit. So while we see banks roll over and die, and sovereign entities begin to falter… we now have a major oil company on the verge of going under. Another leg of the global economic “chair” is being viciously kicked out from under us. Ecological damage is not just an eco-event on its isolated own. It has been added to the list of man-made disasters jeopardizing the world economy. The price tag and resultant knock-on effects of a BP failure could easily be equal to that of a Lehman, if not more. It is surely, at the very least, Enron x10.

All the counter-party risk associated with the current BP situation means the term curve of the global oil trade has likely shut down. Here we have yet another credit-based event causing a lock-up in markets that will now impede trade and commerce. It looks like an exact replication of the 2008 credit market seizure could ensue all over again – and it could probably be a lot worse. The world is in a far more delicate state now.

Although never really discussed, the world is highly reliant on BPs provision of long-term credit to many core industries. Who makes good on all the outstanding paper that so many smaller oil, gas and electricity companies, airlines, shipping companies, local bus, railway and transportation networks that rely on BPs creditworthiness and performance for? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this could all unwind. If BP has to be bailed-out, like a bank, the system will have to print even more unimaginable amounts of money.

The market, intellectually lazy and slow to realization, as it often is, probably has not woken up to it yet – but the BP crisis could unleash damage similar to the banking crisis. A BP failure through bankruptcy could make Lehman look small in comparison, and shake the financial house of cards we live in even more severely. If the implicit danger of the possibilities imbedded in such an event doesn’t make an individual now turn towards Gold at full speed, it is likely that nothing will.

Respectfully yours,
CIGA Pedro

capt: CIGA Pedro is an an enthusiastic supporter of Jim Sinclair's web site http://jsmineset.com/2009/02/13/jims-mailbox-78/.

"Jim Sinclair is primarily a precious metals specialist and a commodities and foreign currency trader.... He is a frequent and enormously popular speaker at gold investment conferences and his commentary on gold and other financial issues garners extensive media coverage at home and abroad." http://jsmineset.com/about/

me too

CIGA Pedro

you do realize that if BP goes bankrupt all those assets don't mysteriously disappear. All that a bankruptcy does is change the ownership of the assets from the current shareholders of BP to the future debtors of BP- those damaged by the spill the US government which will impose the fines.

Whether it is the current shareholders or the future debtors they all share a common interest that BP's assets be managed in the most effective manner. Be that in a going concern BP or by another entity that purchases them.

Re: BOP.

Engineering safety regulations are one step behind advances in technology. It's often illuminating to look at an extreme example, so for instance if you look at the regulations surrounding electrical installations in, say, 1946 and then look at today's, you'll see that the '46 regulations were compatible with the technology at the time, and ditto today's regs. Statutory regs are often intentionally vague, that this or that piece of equipment must be robust, must comply with this or that standard (British or European over here)and must effectively carry out the operation for which it is designed (cutting off a short circuit fault, or whatever).

I've seen so many posts here on TOD which seem to me to be saying that the design of the BOP was at fault, that it was not fit for purpose at such a depth, that it was difficult or impossible to test at such a depth (easier on shore).

Here are some examples of the standards that a piece of "oilfield equipment" might have to meet in ordinary circumstances. I've just pulled it off the Anson website. http://www.offshore-europe.co.uk/ExhibitorLibrary/499/Anson_General_Broc...

BS.5750 Part 1 British Standards Specification for Design/Development,
Production, Installation and Servicing. Original ANSON qualification date 1986.
NS.5801 Norske Standard Specification for Design/Development, Production,
Installation and Servicing. Original ANSON qualification date 1986.
ISO 9001 1987 International Standards Organisation. Model for Quality
Assurance in Design/Development, Production.
Installation and Servicing. Original ANSON qualification date 1988.
NS ISO.9001 1988 Norske Standard as ISO.9001-1987. Original ANSON qualification date 1989.
BS.EN.ISO.9001 2000 New Specification covering ISO.9001 became effective in December
2003. ANSON reassessed and qualified July 2003.
API.Q1 American Petroleum Institute, Specification for Quality Programmes. Original
qualification date 1992.
UKAS ACCREDITATION CERTIFICATE United Kingdom Accreditation Service.
ANSON certified to undertake Fire Testing.
Certificates have been endorsed with the Netherlands Certification Councils
RVC Accreditation Mark.
PED Anson qualified to CE mark Pressure Equipment in accordance with EU Directives.
In addition, ANSON are active members of:
API American Petroleum Institute.
ASTM American Society for Testing of Materials (Organisational Member).
NACE National Association of Corrosion Engineers (Corporate Bronze Member)

My question is, Would not the BOP have had to be certified to a similarly high standard? Would it not have had to be type tested at 5000' in order to receive its accreditation and certification? Could BP or anyone else have used it at such a depth and in such circumstances if it hadn't been certified?

My first thought was that perhaps its individual components were compliant (valves, hoses, rams) but that the total BOP as a "system" was not. But I still find this hard to believe. I've searched for but can't find the standard(s) with which the BOP should have complied. Perhaps someone could point me in the right direction because I'd like to have a look at the literature.


Somebody from the BOP business will have to reply specifically, but I am not sure that there is a standard not set by the manufacturer that they have to comply with.

Thanks, PQ17. I understand the BOP was manufactured by Cameron and have trawled through lots of stuff, but can't find any reference to a specific standard with which the BOP was meant to comply. Have just found lots of stuff suggesting that the BOP was faulty (260 failure possibilites), as here.


My reason for asking is that imo if it could be proved that the BOP was not subject to a specific accreditation requirement (which I still find hard to believe btw - think Toyota, imagine there'd been no standard which said the brakes must be designed thus and thus, and work in this or that situation) then all the parties involved could blame the regulator for allowing a 450 ton, non-regulated, non-tested, non-accredited leviathon on the seabed to be the last line of defence.

I'm *certain* this isn't right. The BOP surely can't have been something knocked up by the boffins at Cameron without regulatory oversight. My personal opinion is that this will be fairly central to the invesigation. Was the BOP compliant with current design standards & regulations, or not?

Hate to break the news to you... lots of things in industry are not built to standards or accredited.

For example, while there is a FMVSS standard for brake performance, it is so weak (literally) that it is virtually meaningless.

There is no independent standard for accreditation / testing for automobile grade software, nor is there for the most commonly used software and applications like Microsoft Windows, Apple iPhone, apps, etc.

And yet... it moves!


"Hate to break the news to you... lots of things in industry are not built to standards or accredited."

That is very depressing. I wonder if you're right (no disrespect, I just find it hard to believe) and it could be proved that the BOP design was only found to be at fault when the poor guys on the rig pressed the actuator and found that it didn't move.

"The BOP surely can't have been something knocked up by the boffins at Cameron without regulatory oversight. My personal opinion is that this will be fairly central to the invesigation. Was the BOP compliant with current design standards & regulations, or not?"
Who other than Cameron (and Big Oil engineers) would have a better idea on what and how a BOP should be designed to accomplish?

I doubt MMS would have. Then who?

Thanks, hammegk.

Here in the UK we have a veritable army of public sector workers whose job it is to provide oversight of the workplace and who are very highly qualified experts in their field. They have enormous powers to supervise Health and Safety in the workplace. Here they are at their most basic level (viz., just the portal into their expertise).


I deal with these people on a regular basis, and can tell you from personal experience that they are very competent. I've no doubt there's a similar organisation in the US. If not, then I am way out of touch.

We're not that rational, here. Our public safety personnel are despised by many simply because they represent government regulation. On the public official side, they're too busy setting themselves up for a cushy job in the industry they're supposed to regulate (MMA personnel were even bumping nasties with oil industry personnel), to make many waves when push comes to shove. Our regulatory system completely discounts qualifications or expertise in favor of going along to get along. If we pushed for more reform and enforcement, we'd probably have our national embarrassment — the "news" media — calling it "Socialization of the Workplace," or something equally specious and inflammatory. Nowadays, in America, you can only be a patriot if you hate the government and what it stands for, even as you make your living off of it.

At least in the U.S., much in the oil biz is according to API "recommendations" - or not.

My involvement is from about 30 years ago, but there were very few standards that applied to BOPs. For clarification, by BOPs I mean the Ram and Annular BOPs, not the entire assembly that we used to call the "stack" or the "BOP stack". Everyone on this forum seems to just call the entire stack "the BOP". The only standards used at that time were the API spec (5A?) on the flanges attached to the RAM and Annular BOPs and some NACE corrosion specs regarding Hydrogen Sulfide exposure. The API spec set the test pressure of the flanges generally to 1-1/2 times working pressure which was the minimum for pressure testing of BOP prototypes. The only certifications at that time were from Det Norske Veritas for BOPs to be used in Norwegian waters.

I've been reading some 'opinions' on the possibility of oil making it's way into the Atlantic Ocean and causing havoc there, all the way up the Eastern coast of the US and eventually finding it's way to Europe and Africa. I immediately dismissed these claims as my understanding of any ocean is that a little oil spill won't do much damage. The sheer size oceans is their strenght. Given nature's ways of 'dealing' with oil, when oil will be more diluted, I figured, it can't do much damage.

Any takes on this?

No way to answer that without being cruel. The current runs right around Florida then up the East coast, then to Iceland, then to the home of Hayward land.

This oil is toxic.

In theory yes.

Dilution, evaporation, and the natural effects of weathering on the oil ought to make most of it disappear in due course.

However, what is different is:

A) this is coming out deep undersea, and the soonest it might stop (based on best info) is around August, not sooner.

It may continue longer in "worse" cases.

B) previous spills that are bigger (e.g. Kuwait) are spills to the atmosphere --- not directly in the ocean

C) the GOM is a relatively smaller body of water and have land around it to "contain" what is not evaporated and dissipated.

So.. we are onto new ground here.... a big science experiment in whether the ocean can dilute / dissipate this much hydrocarbons in one sitting.

Ixtoc 1 (Bay of Campeche) in 1979 probably did just that.

Apparently fairly high levels of tar occurred in the Florida Key's during that time.

NOAA's current statement on the loop current:

The offshore trajectory maps (previously displayed on this page, showing oil interacting with the Loop Current) have been temporarily suspended because the northern end of the Loop Current has been pinched off into a large eddy (Eddy Franklin) so there is no clear path for oil to enter the Loop Current from the source. Also, there have been no reports of recoverable oil in the Loop Current or Eddy Franklin and the oil has moved to the North and away from the Eddy Franklin.


What is really different from Ixtoc 1 is the depth (500 vs. 5000 ft), and the cold / pressure which means the escaping methane do not all become gas and vent to atmosphere, but much of it goes into water as hydrates.

Another thing that is different is the GOM, in the recent years, is much weaker ecologically, and less able to withstand the shock.

Finally - the oil is different. This is a HE oil.

Ixtoc I approx 50 meters approx 160 feet.


Thanks for the correction!

Dear waht,
Keep whistling past the graveyard...

I think it would be a better idea for waht, among others, to acquaint themselves with the fundamentals of marine ecology and its relationship to *our* ecology.

A good place to start might be with Sylvia Earle's The World is Blue.


The ocean is not too big to fail and, if it fails, so do we all.

Hi all, just another mail reader here, but here is a laugh for the day

However, Iran is ready to rescue President Obama if he requests help, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported Tuesday. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast underlined Tehran's technical capability to help the United States control the oil spill and the resulting slick, which he said is a "humanitarian issue."

From http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138210

The was some bazaar chat about blowing up the well the last few days, maybe the Iranians picked up on it and have a down hole nuke haha.

I find it interesting in the article that Iran offers of help in the face the the "shameful" inability to stop the flow two months later are to President Obama, and mention nothing of BP.

I think "war" has reached a new level of sophistication. But I also think that every country on Earth feels threatened by this.

That is a great point. I have been making the same point. Yes, as I sit here and collect BP checks, this event is a threat to our national security because it could potentially damage our relationships with our allies. Forget oil damage, I am talking political damage. Political pressure has caused more wars than physical damage ever has. Far more.

Has anyone heard of any manned mini subs doing exploration in the gulf as far as the oil spill goes?

I am kind of surprised that I have seen no mention of them.

Wars CAUSE physical damage. In this economy, however, it is very difficult to see who is waging the war against whom.

Ned wonders how much of the economic damage was due to Obama's demonization of BP. The stock price is down 50% and the dividend has been canceled. So far, state pension plans alone have taken a $1.4 billion hit and will do without $125 million in dividends for 2010. If Obama had taken the Haley Barbour approach, would things have been better, since BP was already on the hook for the cleanup?

Ned wonders at http://chumpsandlosers.blogspot.com/2010/06/dauphins-jest.html .

Obama has caused some erosion of confidence in BP. Certainly stock prices are impacted. You would think BP would have thought of before they started acting like the cast of Celebrity Rehab in the police evidence locker. Obama did not erode the value of BP. He is just the broker. BP did this to themselves. And we let them.

np: I think Mister Market took a look at BP's potential liabilities from Gulf damages and said "I'm outta here." I think Mister Market figured this out all by its little self without needing a lesson from Obama. Just like Anadarko. But look for "dead cat bounce" by BP.

On the contrary, the flow of funds data (a Bloomberg would show you) shows funds have flowed into BP indicating a degree of confidence that they will recover.

Last Updated: June 22, 2010 17:14 EDT

The price of swaps on London-based BP, which rises as investor confidence in the company’s creditworthiness deteriorates, has soared more than 12 times the level of April 20, the day of the rig explosion that triggered the spill that has cost BP $2 billion in cleanup costs.


Edit Addition: BP's shares hit 13-year low 6/10/10 http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE65909B.htm

Today's Bloomberg data:

52 week low BP stock: 29.000 on 06.09.10

Today's low BP stock: 29.370 on 06.22.10


Barron's and Bloomberg can track inflows and outflows as much as they like but it doesn't mean squat. May the best HFT algorithm win.

The title of this story should be "Why The Oil Drum Exists" but instead it is "America's Magical Thinking on Energy: New poll shows that Americans don't understand energy policy..."


Well, duh.

There doesn't need to be an energy policy any more than there should be a potato policy.

If potatoes become too scarce, then the price of each potato will be bid upward. As the price of potatoes rises, more and more people will switching to eating carrots or will simply go on a diet, instead of eating potatoes and derived products like french fries. Meanwhile, entrepeneurs, seeing a profit opportunity, will invest in devloping mutant genetically modified potatoes as an alternative to regular potatoes. The higher the price of potatoes, the more urgent the research will be and the greater the potential profit will be. More and more capital will be directed to solving the problem.

Is it hubris to expect a socialist planning committee to perform better than the market. Manufacturing something as simple as a number 2 pencil is far beyond the capabilities of a single mortal man: http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

Even assuming that the world will suddenly and catastrophically run out of oil (rather than gradually, which I think is far more likely), then this will no doubt cause millions of human deaths. But I would expect socialist government policies trying to manage the problem to cause even worse harm. We've already killed 1 million Iraqis.

>51% of the public say they'd oppose a gasoline tax

Yes, people often oppose thefts commited against them.

Or ...People might stop eating potatoes and switch to carrots. Unless the potato growers and processed food manufactirers could convince them they needed potatoes.

The real problem is a couple of chess moves down the road. King Midas turned everything he touched to gold, so he couldn't eat. You can't eat oil (unless you're primordial-soup-making microbe,) and you certainly can't eat money. That's why so many people are now investing in gold!

This may start to become amusing soon to all those folks in all those other countries who don't have enough food, not even carrots. Problem is, we've made it even worse for them at the same time.


hmmm seems we do eat vast amounts of oil, modern ag would not exist without it

Modern ag is not working so well. Inside-the-box thinking makes food taste bad.

nevertheless, it is feeding a lot of humans

Dr. Acula, or is that just play on Vlad the Impaler? Pure economics actually work great. As soon as I find some I will post it here and let you know. In the meantime, please realize as human being left to our devices, we will always try to stack the deck in favor of our particular business. The most common way for us mere mortals can do that is through manipulation. What the hell is advertising? Shouldn't the market determine the best product? Free from the bias of Madison Avenue? What about the capitalists? They are going to do the right thing, we do not need anti-trust laws. You seem to deny the fact that without some restraints, we are doomed to anarchy. Say I disagree with you and I want to put you out of business. I can afford a gun and bullets, so I will use my capital and invest in knocking you off. Now I have more people visit me because I just eliminated my biggest competitor. Isn't the pure market great.

>What the hell is advertising? Shouldn't the market determine the best product?

From Ludwig von Mises' Human Action:
"The consumer is not omniscient. He does not know where he can obtain at the cheapest price what he is looking for. Very often he does not even know what kind of commodity or service is suitable to remove most efficaciously the particular uneasiness he wants to remove... To convey to him information about the actual state of the market is the task of business propaganda... Advertising is shrill, noisy, coarse, puffing, because the public does not react to dignified allusions. It is the bad taste of the public that forces the advertisers to display bad taste in their publicity campaigns... The restriction of the right of businessmen to advertise their products would restrict the freedom of the consumers to spend their income according to their own wants and desires."

>I can afford a gun and bullets, so I will use my capital and invest in knocking you off... Isn't the pure market great.

This isn't a voluntary exchange or a market activity. This is an act of violence and of theft: you are depriving me of the right to my own body. In earlier epochs, my family might retaliate. In the current epoch, you will face the social apparatus of coercion, the police.

So when did I volunteer to whore out our oversight to BP for money? What if I buy off the police with my capital and write it off as an expense? See this can go on forever. Admit it, the 'free market' must have regulatory constraint in order to function. You ever seen what Chinese drywall does to homes?

>So when did I volunteer to whore out our oversight to BO for money?

What are you complaining about exactly? Are you complaining about the policy of bailing out failures? In a free market, failed companies are liquidated and their factors of production are auctioned off to hopefully more efficient uses.

>What if I buy off the police with my capital and write it off as an expense?

I think I agree with you: one can cause harm by criminally victimizing others. But I'm not sure what this has to do with capitalism or markets, i.e. voluntary exchanges.

BTW regarding your comment on antitrust, antritrust laws are not an element in free markets. If I own the only well in town and you want a drink, you will have to pay whatever price I demand or you will go without. It is, after all, my property. To force me to sell it at a specified price is a violation of my property rights.

But in reality there are always alternatives: you will ship water in from neighboring communities unless I drop my price to a competitive level. In reality, a monopolist charging high prices will face upstart, competing entrepeneurs attracted to the profit opportunity. Did Apple exceed Microsoft's market cap through clever innovation (e.g. the iPhone) or only because the DOJ pestered Microsoft for years? We'll never know with certainty but I strongly suspect it's the former. And Microsoft was never really even a monopoly - there have been multiple OS's and Office-like products available for decades. The DOJ simply victimized MS unfairly.

I meant BP, that was a typo. I was thinking you would think body odor. My bad.

Antitrust is a big deal. Monopolies and oligarchies invariably lead to higher prices, thus demonstrating restraint of the market. Basic economics. Your high priced well might prevent my low priced well for I have no money left for pipe.

If I live in Las Vegas 150 years ago, maybe I cannot get more water. People cannot act in such a manner unfettered. We tried it and it sucked.

>I meant BP, that was a typo. I was thinking you would think body odor. My bad.

LOL, I thought you meant Barack Obama.

>Monopolies and oligarchies invariably lead to higher prices

Yes. For example, a labor union is a cartel of employees who set the price of their product (their labor) artificially high. If it weren't for the federal government giving such a cartel special legal protection, the consumers of the labor (the employers) would simply replace them with a different, cheaper source of labor (scabs). This is why GM had to build such massive SUV's - to dilute the per-unit labor costs stemming from the governmentally protected cartel (the employee union) they were forced to use. Then after GM nearly goes bankrupt, the government intervenes again and bails them out. Our government's interventions are a comedy of errors. If only the free market were allowed to work...

>thus demonstrating restraint of the market.

It is not a "restraint" for people to have the freedom to choose to engage or not engage in transactions.


"This is why GM had to build such massive SUV's - to dilute the per-unit labor costs stemming from the governmentally protected cartel (the employee union) they were forced to use. "

it's the unions' fault! good one!

Dr. A: "The DOJ simply victimized MS unfairly."

You seem to be giving Microsoft a pass on its coercive OEM licensing contracts. How does telling a company they can't carry your industry standard product if they also sell any alternate product have anything to do with a free market?

"...the 'free market' must have regulatory constraint in order to function."

Not only that, TFHG. "The market" doesn't even exist outside of the agreements, traditions and rules of the community. The notion that it is a real thing, arising from some immutable law, is simply a religious superstition.

" "The market" doesn't even exist outside of the agreements, traditions and rules of the community. The notion that it is a real thing, arising from some immutable law, is simply a religious superstition."

No one here ever said such a thing. A person stranded on an island does not constitute a market. Nor does a group of murderous insane people, or monkeys (although I think there have been instances were chimps have been witnessed performing voluntary exchanges).

OK, so, what do you believe "the market" is? From where does it arise? From what cause(s)?

>what do you believe "the market" is?

The market is a system for voluntarily exchanging economic (i.e. scarce) goods. This can range from a barter economy to one based on money (a medium of exchange based on the most marketable good) where buyers seeking low prices and sellers seeking high prices arrive at market-clearing prices and thus a price structure (which is ever-changing).

>From where does it arise? From what cause(s)?

It arises from each person's innate desire to improve their situation, or at least their perception of it. It is empirically true that the vast majority of people recognize the value of voluntary exchange: even children will barter and exchange pieces of candy after a Halloween run. The benefit of exchange lies chiefly in the ability to exploit the division of labor: the fact that each person has particular tasks they are best suited to. While I might be able to fix your computer, I have no idea how to repair my steps; therefore I find a carpenter who needs his computer fixed and exchange my labor for his. Such an exchange can be performed indirectly and more easily in an economy involving money.

Let me try this another way. In a free market, this little guy is worth target practice to you. Maybe to ten others it represents a visit and money spent. Why should your evil blood sucking ways win over mine. I am offering more money too. Are you really a doctor? If so, what kind? You don't do that Goth fake blood sucking ritual stuff do you?

"It is empirically true that the vast majority of people recognize the value of voluntary exchange: even children will barter and exchange pieces of candy after a Halloween run."

Uh-huh. It is also empirically true that some people, at some times, prefer the option of involuntary exchanges—taking what they want.

Some children will beat up others, take the Halloween candy, and run.

We don't permit such behavior without restriction because it is injurious to our *common* interests. Thus, we have established agreements and rules about property, exchanges, etc. These norms are determined collectively and exist only because of common agreement.

We have decided, as a society, that it is in our community interest to permit you to acquire "property" (of specific kinds) in certain ways (but not in others), and to use it in certain ways (and not in others).

Your property is private only to the extent that we, all together, agree to permit that privacy. That agreement is premised upon, and limited by, the value that granting such privilege provides to us all.

Without the rules and sanctions established by the community, for our mutual good, your property is yours only until TFHG and I decide to get together, hire some burly kids and take it from you.

If we, as a society, decide that your acquisition, accumulation, use or distribution of property is harmful to the commonweal, we may alter or limit your ownership or control. Happens all the time.

Because your property is "yours" only because we agree to let you have it.

K, I think I hear the ghost of Mr Locke in agreement:

2nd Treatise, On Property, "and therefore he cannot appropriate, he cannot inclose, without the consent of all his fellow-commoners"

Great little story: "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read". Thanks for sharing that.

That might hearten greens but it also shows how unrealistic Americans are on energy. Right now fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—are responsible for 85% of America's energy supply, and it would take a Herculean effort to displace oil in just a quarter century.

Always and everywhere: the unspoken assumption that it is (of course!) possible to "displace" FF, with a growing population, "higher standards of living," etc.

It must be possible. With God and/or Science, all is possible. Right?

Holy crap!

Is this true???

"During the September drilling operations, the Deepwater Horizon drill penetrated a massive undersea oil deposit but BP's priorities changed when the Macondo site in the Mississippi Canyon off the coast of Louisiana was found to contain some 3-4 billion barrels of oil in an underground cavern estimated to be about the size of Mount Everest... WMR learned that BP was able to have several safety checks waved because of the high-level interest by the White House and Pentagon in tapping the Gulf of Mexico bonanza find in order to plan a military attack on Iran without having to be concerned about an oil and natural gas shortage from the Persian Gulf after an outbreak of hostilities with Iran."


You'd have to ask Wayne Madsen. According to his post, his source is Wayne Madsen: "According to the Wayne Madsen Report..." I like to go back to original sources when possible, but in this case I think I won't.

Um. Probably not.

Doc -- I try to be patient with any odd ideas but this story is even beyond me. There's not enough Blue Bell ice cream in the world to make me take it on. But perhaps you don't know about my BBIC addiction.

"Is this true???"

No. It's absolute nonsense.

Ask the people distributing this idiocy to provide evidence that would withstand peer review.

kal: Oh, come on, man. My third cousin, who owns Sammy's Deli, heard Bibi Netanyahu say the same thing in Yiddish to a dinner companion. So there.

Wow, the volume of Mount Everest (2413 Km^3)= circa 15.2 Billion Barrels, isn,t that like 2 years of US consumption from a single formation? A couple more of these puppies and we'll have to reset our doomsday clocks!

Looks like everyone here thinks that story is crazy. I kind of felt that but thought I'd check here :)

>Wow, the volume of Mount Everest (2413 Km^3)= circa 15.2 Billion Barrels, isn,t that like 2 years of US consumption from a single formation? A couple more of these puppies and we'll have to reset our doomsday clocks!

You have to account for porosity too. For the story to be true (3-4 billion barrels) I guess the porosity of the formation would have to be about 3.5/15.2 = 23%.

You have to account for porosity too. For the story to be true (3-4 billion barrels) I guess the porosity of the formation would have to be about 3.5/15.2 = 23%.

Of course the term 'underground cavern' require no porosity calc as a cavern is just a single pore with a 100% porosity ?- )


Did you mean re-set the doomsday clocks backwards? Or forward?

Underground cavern. Sure.

Shipping people comment on how this will increase cost/slow productivity in transportation industry? There's surely going to be a ripple effect hitting rail and road carriers. Ecology people care to comment on how much contamination and what kind can be vectored by an exposed vessel? Anyone at all on who's footing the bill for this aspect of DWH? Wonder how much grocery prices will be going up.


"BILOXI, Miss. - The director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has established the following temporary no-wake zones around vessel decontamination sites in the Mississippi Sound effective immediately..."

Thank you for a very informative post.
So based on your estimates, a 100,000bpd and above flow would require... a much bigger hole?
Can you tell us more about the composition of the hydrocarbons in the reservoir?
What happens to the methane /hydrocarbon mix as it escapes and contacts seawater?

Hi PQ17,

Actually if you had flow up the production casing itself, making the hole bigger wouldn't have that much impact, you'd be getting to the point where the flow is not constrained by frictional considerations. You can jack up the rate by assuming a higher permeability in the reservoir, or by knocking the BOP off and allowing flow to ambient sea bed pressures. These combined together would take you to around the 120,000 stb/d mark for flow up the production casing. You'd struggle to top 75,000 up the annulus.

I've not seen a composition reported anywhere, and can't locate one in the public domain for any nearby fields. Based on fluid data reported on the Enterprise I don't expect any really unusual properties, correlations would suggest bubble point is probably about 6000 - 7000 psi at reservoir temperature. Viscosity is likely low at ~0.3 cP, shrinkage is likely quite high at ~ 2 reservoir barrels for every barrel of stabilised stock tank oil.

What happens as the fluid hits the water is likely very complex, and not something commonly modelled in the industry. Just at the top of the wellhead, at the May 26th reported pressure of 4400 psi and likely flowing temperatures of ~170F, the lighter fractions in the oil will already have started to flash into the gas phase. After a further short distance the gas / oil mix then jets into very cold sea water at a temperature of around 40F and pressure around 2200 psi. My guess is that under such rapid cooling the oil is likely to form small, higher density, more viscous droplets in an emulsion that probably continues to outgas as it rises to the surface (or stays suspended for a while if the droplets are small enough). The gas produced from the well will expand dramatically on exit, and a portion of the methane present will form hydrates as we have seen. There will be some solubility of some of the components in the sea water itself. So to summarise I haven't really got a clue.

I honestly do not have a clue how to do a good flow estimate.

Too many variables, too little data.

And too many persons with axes to grind that want the number to go a certain way.

Bignerd, thanks for that last paragraph. I've been wanting to think out what must be happening but just haven't had the time to do it. Everything you say there is plausible.

I'm wondering about the temperature of the petroleum in the reservoir, which should be close to its temperature as it hits the seawater, but that wouldn't make a significant difference in your scenario.

The models that might be able to handle it are the ones that model combusion in automobile engines. Would have to change a bunch of parameters, but I suspect it could be done.

Hey BN...
What is this open flow likely to do the reservoir, and how far could whatever reservoir issues there are go?"

Hi TT,

Lets suppose for the sake of argument the flow rate is 40,000 stb/d and the reservoir has an in place volume of ~100 million stb, with recoverable reserve of ~50 million stb/d. This means that we are producing at a high depletion rate of around 30% of reserves per year. There are several reasons you probably wouldn't want to blow down a reservoir like this in a production setting.

i) you will end up with a very short and peaky production profile which means you have to over-size production facilities for a very short field lifetime. The large production tubing required is also unlikely to allow stable vertical flow if the water cut rises.

ii) if your development plan relies on displacing the oil via water injection or by an active aquifer then you run the risk of creating an unstable flood which results in early water production and may limit recovery

iii) if your development plan relies on aquifer influx to maintain reservoir pressure, but this is weaker than expected, there is a good chance that pressures will drop rapidly and possibly go below bubble point in the reservoir. The appearance of gas in the reservoir will help to slow down further pressure depletion, but you then end up tending to produce the gas rather than the oil (its much more mobile)

iv) higher flow rates generally require a larger drawdown at the sand face (ie a higher pressure differential between reservoir and wellbore). Together with high flow velocities there is a risk of sand production, particularly if water breaks through or if reservoir pressures decline and create additional pressure on the sand grain contact points. Collapse of the formation against the production casing is not unlikely.

Judge Martin Feldman--aka Eye-gor?
Another Big Oil worshipper.

Well, that explains the ruling against the moratorium.

'Yes, Master.'


The federal judge who overturned Barack Obama's offshore drilling moratorium appears to own stock in numerous companies involved in the offshore oil industry -- including Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to BP prior to its April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico -- according to 2008 financial disclosure reports. [...]

According to Feldman's 2008 financial disclosure form, posted online by Judicial Watch, the judge owned stock in Transocean, as well as five other companies that are either directly or indirectly involved in the offshore drilling business.

It's not surprising that Feldman, who is a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has invested in the offshore drilling business -- an AP investigation found earlier this month that more than half the federal judges in the districts affected by the BP spill have financial ties to the oil and gas industry.


So does this decision affect these companies in any significant way? Transocean for example operates on a global scale. I took a quick look at a couple of others and it appeared they were also global companies.

It is the local companies that will get hid hard by the moratorium.

They do operate globally, but can you redeploy the existing equipment and staff in a timely manner to other opportunities?

Are there customers out there willing to pay that is just waiting for an available rig?

Not so easy.

That's not quite on point. See the Code of Conduct for United States Judges:

A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:...

...(c) the judge knows that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding;


But see:

June 2, 2010, 12:29 PM ET

Eight Judges Out: Mass Recusal Cripples 5th Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is composed of 16 active judges. You’d think it wouldn’t be all that hard to get at least nine of them to come together to hear a given case en banc — that is, as a full court.

But lo and behold, a full eight judges on the Fifth Circuit have recused themselves from hearing an en banc appeal of a provocative global-warming lawsuit. As a result, there’s no quorum and the court is unable to hear the case. Not surprisingly, the development has thrown the closely-followed litigation into a state of disarray. Click here for a nice overview of the situation, from the American Lawyer’s Allison Frankel.


Ok now this is getting really very interesting. Mass recusal. Missed that wsj article. How far up will this go?

Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade

Heh. They made a mess of it on top of it.

The recusals were apparently based on stock ownership. And yes, it could affect S.Ct., but I cannot imagine they would tolerate that:

Taylor suggests that the same recusal problems may be an issue for the Supreme Court also, the members of which have in the past recused themselves in cases involving energy companies, due to stock-ownership conflicts. Writes Taylor: “Indeed, it may not even be possible for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear any appeal in Comer.”

- same link

Big guess. I think the Circuit Court of Appeals can call in appeal judges form other Circuit Courts. I'd bet a spoonful (size: tea) of Blue Bell it has happened before in the Circuit Courts. Recusal is more iffy in SCOTUS. Scalia had an odd situation with Cheney over a duck hunting trip (brave man) and refused to recuse himself.

Yes, I've been following that.

A remarkable snapshot of our culture, I think.

or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding;

"Substantially" is where the ambiguity is. It is hard to escape ALL impacts of such decisions. Transocean as far as I could determine from their prospectus has 5-10% of their rigs in the Gulf. Would idling these for a period of time result in a change in the judge's investment portfolio that would be substantial? I don't know, I'm not an expert in what is substantial.

But that's the criterion here.

Anyway I don't think it's going to matter much because this case is going to shoot up the appeals chain PDQ.

This is not to say the judge may not be prejudiced, his ruling would certainly indicate which side of the law he favors either due to prejudice for the oil industry, against the Obama administration, or because he doesn't perceive the moratorium order as being legal, but I seriously doubt any higher court would find for prejudice based on his 2008 financial disclosure. That seems to be the job of the media.

The financial disclosure showed he had between $1 an $14,999 worth of Transocean stock among about 80 investments in that same range and about 9 in the $15,000 to $50,000 range. So it is likely Transocean was about 1% or less of his holdings; without actual values we can't be sure.

During 2008 he sold his stock in Halliburton, KBR, Rowan, Parker Drilling, TXCO Resources, Prospect Energy, Hercules Offshore, Quicksilver Resources, Pimco, Pengrowth, ATP Oil & Gas and Chesapeake Energy. He retained the Transocean, Ocean Energy Notes and Provident Energy.

At the most I expect that a higher court would recommend he divest himself of Transocean if he hasn't done so already - and the history of his trades in 2008 showed him selling off almost all his energy holdings, he might well have sold Transocean before the blowout.

Hi ali,
I really appreciate you responding in such a detailed way to my post. Here's a quick go at a reply :

throwing my 2 cents in the basket here ...without putting too much thought into it there are a few things i can point out here....i think most are valid ....others might think differently ...
1- how can you model a reservoir without knowing the areal extent of the reservoir ....is the assumption here the reservoir is in transient and boundary effects are not felt yet ??

I'm not modelling the reservoir as such, only its inflow performance. I have in fact used both transient and semi-steady state forms of the inflow equations to model the flow, but this wasn't really necessary; in reservoirs of this assumed quality the difference between sss flow and transient flow after 60 days production is very small for any reasonable reservoir size. I've had a guess at the areal extent using the 60 ft thickness and assuming 100 MMstb oil in place. Compared to all the other assumptions I've made to do the calculations, this one is one of the least important.

2- the assumption being made here is shallower zones are adding to fluid ....this is the deepest productive zone since you would go up to re-complete ...DW wells are not flexible like onshore wells where you can go up and down to squeeze oil ....so essentially what some on TOD have said (including myself) is that this deepest zone is being supplement by some shallower zone...kinda like what we pete's do sometimes on purpose on dual or triple string completion by running a MMS co-mingling permit…

Actually I was responding to someone here who suggested that the blowout forced the production casing downwards at a rate of knots and fractured the base of the well in such a way that a deeper reservoir was contacted. My point is that the performance of the well can be explained by reasonable reservoir properties over the 60ft interval without invoking a contribution from either above or below the main pay. (Which is not to say that there isn't such a contribution - but I guess this would require compromise of deeper liner hangers…)

3- personally i doubt too many wells can produce these rates (unrestricted) with a 60' pay ...but this is just my guess based on what i've seen....hence the ideas being floated about a shallower zone adding to fluid

A well at this pressure with this oil and a similar permeability*thickness to the assumptions here flowing up such a large tubular certainly would. The pressure gives plenty of headroom to pull a decent drawdown, and the relatively high GOR helps to reduce the effective density of the column.

4- nodal analysis would have been performed on this well ....BP will have guesstimates of production base don that analysis but BP cannot say X bbl is leaking because BP isn't sure and the MSM media will skin them alive if X turned out to be wrong ....but the best approach and i would bet the horse here is that BP has a good nodal analysis here and could give a range if they wanted to ....but will not .....BP has not agreed to any number as yet ....all numbers are govt figures of the academia ...BP itself has not put out any number and that's because it gives them deniability …

Totally agree. They won't ever commit themselves to a range. But if the next version of the cap really does bolt onto the riser stub, then within a week or so we will all have a very solid idea of what the total flow rate presently is…. (BTW has anyone seen an update to the Enterprise production spreadsheet since the 16th June??)

5- the 100 MMSTB reserve figure reported would be the recoverable number and not the possible and probable reserves as reported to MMS.....rmbr it is not in BP's interest to jack this number up even by 1 bbl ….

I agree fully, hence the recent quote by TH at 50 MMstb. Who knows what block boundary this might cross…

6- that fluid produced is increasing makes sense and the well flows ..its only natural ...its a cased hole otherwise in all probability it would have caved as discussed by a number of ppl on TOD…

Not sure I really understand the first part of this comment. Latter part I agree; there probably has been some early sand production. There may have been some collapse around the casing itself, though you'd expect a certain amount of this to be stripped out.

7- i hate to say this ...but crude oil assumes heavier HC's as well....the particular type of oil produced is nto heavy and will have very little %age of heavier HC's...this is what makes GOM DW attractive…"
8- also the NG being produced topside is not wet gas ....again a function of the type of crude ...this too is often the case with DW GOM…

I'm very familiar with reservoir fluid compositions from many different provinces around the world. My point was simply to draw attention to the multi component nature of both the oil and gas stream as it exits the BOP, though this may not have been a point worth making.

Concrete containment of old Blow Out Preventer (BOP),
Resubmitted to address questions and discussion on the prior thread.

============= Original idea is a follows ======= I've added comments at the end.
to create new well head at the top of the concrete containment with clean tight fittings where a new set of valves and controls can be fitted with no leaks.

I'm betting the following proposal has already been made.
However since I'm very overloaded just now, I'll ask for forgiveness and post this idea.

Brief design thoughts.
1. A turbine suction pump to be fitted to the top of the old BOP to create sufficient suction to stop all leaks down the old BOP while they are temporally plugged with sealant of some kind. Test this step can be achieved before proceeding.
2. Foundations at the sea floor to support the structure to encase the old BOP
3. Design an encasement tube to easily fit over the old BOP from bottom to top. This tube is to hold the concrete and is filled with reinforcing steel, over designed to easily contain any possible well pressure.
4. Run the turbine suction pump from point 1 above, have the rov's add sealant to all the old BOP leaks, mainly to prevent concrete from flowing in.
5. Keep the turbine suction pump running as the containment tube from step 3 above is lowered over the old BOP, secured to it's foundations and then filled with concrete.
6. When the concrete is cured and strong, remove the turbine pump and fit the new top of the concrete encasement (of the old BOP) with a very strong leak proof lid.

This lid would be very strong, designed to easily contain all possible well pressures.
The lid would have controllable ports to help exit any water that got in during installation and a fitting(s) on the top for a new set of well control valves, measurement equipment etc.
This new well head could have more than one large pipe at the top, allowing control valves to be fitted and instrumentation sent down the well for analysis (perhaps when full of mud). These top pipes could be designed so that standard equipment can be lowered into the new well head (i.e. connection angles not too sharp and smooth).

Now the new well head can be completely controlled.

When all is in place, slowly close down the flow of the well monitoring pressures at the new well head.

If the pressure matches expected pressure from the well as measured during drilling, then the well may not be leaking (much) between the oil reservoir to the new well head.
On the other hand, if the pressure does not match, there may be some leaks. I'm assuming that known techniques could verify if leaks exist or not.

Mud could be tried again as an additional test for leaks between the reservoir and the new well head or to seal off the well head.

If there are leaks, then setup the well to receive the full flow of the well on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, when the full flow of the well can be easily received at the surface, add a turbine vacuum pump designed to add suction to the top of the well head and stop or reduce the leak between the reservoir and the well head (assuming one have been found).

If mud can fill the well and stop the flow, then concrete could be piped to the bottom of the well (using something like a drill pipe) and used to plug the well from the bottom up.

or, perhaps the well is in good shape and can be use to help pay for all the damage caused.

Again, apologies if this is a repeat idea.

=============== additional comments ===========

R2-3D suggested an "overshoot tool" with 10" thick walls, along with a photo.
See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6587#comment-648475

R2-3D, something like this, however I was thinking of more like a hollow tube open on both ends and structurally would gain it's strength with the help of the concrete that fills it, perhaps fiber glass or carbon fiber filled concrete in addition to a certain amount of reinforcing steel around the inside of the steel tube.

The steel tube is large enough to easily go over the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) from the sea floor to above the top of the BOP. The sea floor may need some foundations to hold the weight of the new structure.
Once the steel tube is lowered over the entire BOP assembly, the vacuum pump is activates to a level that previously stopped all leaks in the BOP, then concrete is poured into the steel tube up to the top of the BOP.
(Alternatively, the steel tube could be in two sections bolted together around the BOP, allowing this project to be a parallel project to current containment efforts. )

A method of having the top section of the steel tube be much stronger than the lower section and have mating plate and seal for an equally strong top to be placed and bolted down (or welded?) over the top of the tube.
Care needs to be taken to not overfill the tube with concrete.

At this point the entire old BOP is encased in super strong concrete (fiber glass or carbon fiber reinforced) with a perfect lid on the top ready to take a brand new BOP (with all the batteries charged etc. ;) ).

The lid could be equipped with ports to exhaust any seawater inside to prevent hydrate ice forming in the new top, measure pressure etc. The lid could have more than one top port connection that could support separate risers for things like dropping other pipes down into the well for analysis, pull out the old drill pipe and replace it, lower and new drill pipe and pump mud to the bottom of the well to control the flow, then pour concrete from the bottom up to seal the well etc. etc.


The 90 day moratorium was not going to accomplish anything, considering the people who were charged with investigating the incident. At least the 30-day review that Salazar misquoted had some technical people on the panel.

From Today's Wall Street Journal

JUNE 22, 2010

The Antidrilling Commission
The White House choices seem to have made up their minds.

"Under my Administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. . . To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. . . I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, and not the other way around."

—President Obama, April 27, 2009

The President has appointed a seven-person commission to take what he says will be an objective look at what caused the Gulf spill and the steps to make offshore drilling safe. But judging from the pedigree of his commissioners, we're beginning to wonder if his real goal is to turn drilling into a partisan election issue.

Mr. Obama filled out his commission last week, and the news is that there's neither an oil nor drilling expert in the bunch. Instead, he's loaded up on politicians and environmental activists.

One co-chair is former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who fought drilling off Florida throughout his career. The other is William Reilly, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush but is best known as a former president and former chairman of the World Wildlife Fund, one of the big environmental lobbies. The others:

* Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland "biological oceanographer," who has opposed drilling off the Virginia coast and who argued that "the impacts of the oil and gas extraction industry . . . on Gulf Coast wetlands represent an environmental catastrophe of massive and underappreciated proportions."

* Terry Garcia, an executive vice president at the National Geographic Society, who directed coastal programs in the Clinton Administration, in particular "recovery of endangered species, habitat conservation planning," and "Clean Water Act implementation," according to the White House press release.

* Fran Ulmer, Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, who is a member of the Aspen Institute's Commission on Arctic Climate Change. She's also on the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes nuclear power and more offshore drilling and wants government policies "that reduce vehicle miles traveled" (i.e., driving in cars).

* Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who prior to her appointment blogged about the spill this way: "We can blame BP for the disaster and we should. We can blame lack of adequate government oversight for the disaster and we should. But in the end, we also must place blame where it originated: America's addiction to oil."

On at least five occasions since the accident, Ms. Beinecke has called for bans on offshore and Arctic drilling.

* Rounding out the panel is its lone member with an engineering background, Harvard's Cherry A. Murray, though her specialties are physics and optics.

Whatever their other expertise, none of these worthies knows much if anything about petroleum engineering. Where is the expert on modern drilling techniques, or rig safety, or even blowout preventers?

The choice of men and women who are long opposed to more drilling suggests not a fair technical inquiry but an antidrilling political agenda. With the elections approaching and Democrats down in the polls, the White House is looking to change the subject from health care, the lack of jobs and runaway deficits. Could the plan be to try to wrap drilling around the necks of Republicans, arguing that it was years of GOP coziness with Big Oil that led to the spill?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took this theme for a test drive on Sunday when he said that Republicans think "the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fisherman." He added that this ought to remind Americans "what Republican governance is like." The antidrilling commission could feed into this campaign narrative with a mid-September, pre-election report that blames the disaster on the industry and Bush-era regulators and recommends a ban on most offshore exploration. The media would duly salute, while Democrats could then take the handoff and force antidrilling votes on Capitol Hill.

Even as this commission moves forward, engineering experts across the country have agreed that there is no scientific reason for a blanket drilling ban. The Interior Department invited experts to consult on drilling practices, but as we wrote last week eight of them have since said their advice was distorted to justify the Administration's six-month drilling moratorium.

Judging from that decision and now from Mr. Obama's drilling commission, the days of "science taking a back seat to ideology" are very much with us.

The WSJ editorial page has a lot in common with some of the dooms day posters. No matter what obama does, they set out the doomsday scenario for it, and there's usually a vast conspiracy tucked into it.

Let me see if i get their logic right. Obama announced an expansion of off-shore drilling. In reality it was all a ploy. His real agenda is an "anti-drilling political agenda intended to kill off shore drilling.

Okay, whatever you say, WSJ.

Well if Rupert Murdoch's WSJ isn't an unbiased source of news analysis, what is?

It cracks me up that after Obama opens up most of the American coast to drilling, after his gifts to industry of basically a trillion dollars of taxpayer $, after continuing two wars in the Mideast, after the phrase "Bush's Third Term" has been used to describe the (in)action of most federal departments, we still have these claims that he's some sort of socialist pinko peacenik treehugger. Quite amazing.

(I should note that as a socialist treehugger type myself, I find the suggestion that Obama or any of the DLC Dems is/are us to be infuriating if it weren't so funny...)

Now if we can get Cheney's cloistered energy policy group added to that committee in the name of balance we could get quite the show, though science and engineering would most certainly not be driving the wagon.

Let's see the moratorium was imposed May 28 and the relief well is supposed to be completed about August 24. Looks like about 90 days a fair compromise between the orignal month long stoppage and six months.

Now if they can get the capture rate up to 70% of the wild well flow before that it might even be found that 90 days is excessive and the committee will be doing its dog and pony side show as operations quietly resume.

Let's see if I have this right. The expert witnesses signed off on a document that was then altered, and claimed to have been peer-reviewed and recommended by them?

Is this any indication of how we can expect the new BOE will be run? Whether you agree with the ban or not, does that sound like the way you do business?

Hi JamesRWhite, all
It does seem strange, the way this "Antidrilling Commission," is stacked. Certainly makes President Obmam vulnerable to criticism, especially after his demonstrated flexibility in finding a middle-ground with political opponents. "Kicking ass," I believe he put it?

There is a new site just launched today that collects all of the various options to stop the oil gusher.

Go to http://www.stopthegusher.com and add you idea and/or vote!

This is one of the wonderful quotations circulated on the Oil Drum

“It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it.”—Upton Sinclair

I posted this late, so I'll post it again, because it seems even more appropriate here.

The real problem is a couple of chess moves down the road. King Midas turned everything he touched to gold, so he couldn't eat. You can't eat oil (unless you're a primordial-soup-making microbe,) and you certainly can't eat money. That's why so many people are now investing in gold!

This may start to become amusing soon to all those folks in all those other countries who don't have enough food, not even carrots. Problem is, we've made it even worse for them at the same time.

For someone who lives an autarkic existence - e.g. a subsistence living on an isolated farm or hunting grounds - peak oil will not affect them. It is the advanced economies - those with very high order (production) goods - that will undergo major transformations. The best thing to do is step out of the way and allow market participants to perform the necessary changes to the structure of production, seeking profit and avoiding loss based on signals conveyed by market prices.

Instead, we have idiocy like the US government massively subsdizing sprawling suburbs (with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) at the expense of the taxpayer. It's probably the opposite of what will need to happen. And who knows how much oil USA wastes on military invasions.

And if the US had never subsidized the westward expansion of rail with gigantic land give aways to the railways the whole world would have been a different place. Get real, the free market of your dream world never existed, and never will...except when you step back and look at the big picture--but I believe Darwin used a different set of terms to describe true free market.

Sometimes the give and take between individuals, business and government works like a finely choreographed dance though usually it more resembles a clusterf**k. All of both types of motion are just a small portion of the real free market.

"And if the US had never subsidized the westward expansion of rail with gigantic land give aways to the railways the whole world would have been a different place."

I don't know a lot about the historical incident you are mentioning. But I do have two questions:
1. How did the government come to own the land in the first place? If I declare that some unused resource is mine, and then give it away to person X, am I doing person X a favor? Am I giving them a subsidy?
2. And if the government, which owned the land, had sold it at the highest possible price, rather than giving it away, what things would have come into existence with the funds obtained? If the USA had depended on those sums of money and correspondingly reduced taxation on all its citizens, then what additional things would the citizens have created? My point is that you are only focusing on the obvious - that which is seen (the railroads). You are completely neglecting that which is unseen: the goods that might have possibly been created in lieu of (or in a mixture with some portion of) the railroads.

>Get real, the free market of your dream world never existed, and never will

I agree: nothing that humans do is or ever will be perfect. But that does not invalidate economic science.

In the case of the railroad land grants we will not bother to go into how the government got title to the land, but the colonial history that was a bit of an outgrowth of mercantilism certainly makes it hard to define just where you start to talk about your free market. The social contracts that allowed for the colonial practices also protected private property and capital. None of this stuff evolves in a vacuum. Models are useful, but you must always remember they are only models. Economists tends to treat their models as real world depictions, that could be why those in the empirical sciences tend to gag when they hear the terms 'economic' or 'social' science.

The railroad land grants often amounted to ten square miles of public land for every mile of rail built. The classic distribution was every other section of land ten miles each side of the rail right of way and it is still evident in timber company forest holdings in the west--the timber companies having been spun off the railroads. Without the land grants in the 1860's eastern investors couldn't be lured to put their scarce capital into threads of steel extending over the perceived vast wasteland between the Mississippi valley and the Pacific Coast.

Without the rail line the land the government held title to would not fetch much if any price at all so getting the rail built added value to all the western lands while giving away only half of the choicest morsels. Free market, well when you figure in payoffs, and political office sales and the like I guess that is what it is--but the reality of it is nothing like the text book models or Ayn Rand fiction you are espousing.

So like I said without the grants it would have been a whole different world...I made no value judgment on if it was a better or worse world. Of course you can build a model to say just what would have happened without the land grants...fiction writing has a long and honourable history ?- )

“It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it.”—Upton Sinclair

Quite true, and that's why most economists cannot be trusted. Their ultimate goal is to get in a cushy government job which means they need to support socialist, interventionist policies whether or not they contradict economic science (which they invariably do). That's why we have one Fed chariman after another manipulating monetary policy (price fixing) and failing to anticipate the very recessions that their actions induce.

I agree with you about the suburbs. We have to drive out to them so we can have big enough houses to hold all our stuff.

Here's a question for all you scientific-types from a mom. There's a lot of pressure on a great big wide sea floor down there. Now there's the equivalent of a pin-prick in it. Is the weight of the sea floor pushing the oil and gas up through that tiny hole? Or is it more like what happens when there's a pin prick in a balloon? And isn't it mostly the gas that wants to escape?

This video really looks different with two extra looking plumes coming out.


A portion of the sheared riser has been raised... at some point maybe we'll find out whether it contained one pipe or two.

One other interesting note, we’ve found a—we didn’t find, we were able to recover the 40 feet of riser pipe that was cut off when we sheared off the lower ring riser pipe just below the kink. That section of pipe is important for forensics and for the ongoing inquiry. That is—that is being brought to the surface and will be brought to New Orleans, and of course that will be part of the evidentiary—the evidentiary material will be part of the Marine Board of Investigations...

From the transcript of Allen's press briefing earlier today.


Something else interesting.. first mention I've seen of investigating the possibility of another company producing some of the flow.. or actually sending it back into a reservoir.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, first of all, we’re mitigating risk on the relief well by drilling a second relief well alongside it. Hopefully that won’t be needed. Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu had a meeting last week in Washington with other industry representatives beyond BP, other oil-producing companies that are out there, and we’ve actually identified a couple of platforms that are in the area that might be capable of taking the product coming out of the wellbore through pipelines and either producing it or putting it back down into the reservoir. We’re exploring that over the next couple of days.

If we’re able to do that, that would give us an option of controlling the flow without having any surface vessels there, to some extent. That wouldn't be the capacity we’re looking for, but that would be another risk mitigator to handle some of the oil. We’re in exploratory conversations, and again, that was just the result of a meeting that we held last week where we asked industry to basically unconstrain their thinking and see what they could do for us. So we’re actually looking at whether or not there are normal wells out there (inaudible) wells out there we could use as alternate production facilities.


Q: Admiral, Ray Henry. Wanted to see if you could explain a little bit about what you just talked about, putting the oil potentially back in the reservoir. Give us a little bit of a sense of where those conversations stand, what you'd be looking at. Would this be a production platform that would be brought in to do this, but you need to drill a new well to accomplish that? That’s the first time I think I’ve heard anyone speak of that.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, it is the first time we’ve talked about it. We’ve had some communications with BP. At the industry meeting that was held last week hosted by Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu, we were looking at alternatives that would help us increase capacity, and there was an idea in the room among all the people that were talking, and this is the reason we bring other people in and ask them continually searching for new and better ways to do this. They talk about whether or not it was in the immediate area, where this well was being drilled, that there are other production facilities that are already there that we – that could be used if we were to extend the pipeline along the bottom of the ocean, and that’s what we’re looking at right now.

The question of how many of those might be available and the capacity that we could generate is all being looked at right now through a series of letters of request for information that we are working, but it is something that we’re actively looking at because it could allow us to continue production out of that well without the—requiring a service vessel to be there, which is problematic, as you know when a hurricane.

Q: So you would extend a pipeline back into the reservoir to return the oil in a loop, or would it go to someplace else?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: No. We would send the pipeline to an existing facility that’s not being used for well production right now that has access to a different reservoir.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: It does not. I believe they're going to try and intercept somewhere around between 16,700 and 17,000 feet. We will confirm that for you and put out a statement tomorrow. They don't have to go clear to the reservoir, which is at 18,000 feet, and what they're going to do is they're going to close in and very slowly close to that point where they will then drill through the wellbore casing, and if they need to, drill through the pipe itself. But you are right; they'll be slightly above the level of the reservoir. Was that responsive?


Can someone tell me under what circumstance they would not have to drill through the pipe Allen is talking about?

Can someone tell me what Allen is talking about here?

To me it seems they have stopped drilling the one relief well.

Q: OK, and the second thing was why is the second relief well going so slow?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, they didn’t start at the same time. The second relief well started several weeks afterwards, and also, the second relief well—the second relief drilling rig had a blowout preventer on it that they had intended to use after Top Kill if they were going to cap the well. They decided not to use the blowout preventer because of the uncertainty regarding the status of the wellbore and what pressure might do going down. That’s the reason they abandoned the Top Kill and the capping exercise at that point.

During that time, when they were doing the Top Kill exercise, the Development Driller II moved off station with the blowout preventer and had to prepare to put on the wellbore should we—or the lower marine riser package should we need to do that. That didn’t happen. They went back and they continued their drill. They are—there are the risk mitigator for the first relief well.

We had a really good last 24-hour period as far as productions out in the Discovery Enterprise and the Q4000 production platforms. We produced 25,836 barrels petroleum. That is a new record for us, and we continue to make progress in optimizing the capacity out of the wellhead there.


Pure Spin.

What a great day.

We produced 25,836 barrels petroleum. That is a new record for us, and we continue to make progress in optimizing the capacity out of the wellhead there.


Pure Spin.

I don't take it as spin.. It is good news in the sense that 25,836 bbl of oil that would have been in the gulf is not.. If you don't take it as good news, what would?

The reason I think it is pure spin is he is the incident commander of the whole operation and he opened the 24 hour briefing with that statement about oil collection like it was a great day they collected 600 barrels more then they did on the 17th of the month.

To me that is not a really good day as Allen put it.

It appears they have reached a plateau with this collection process.

A really good day to me would be to collect double what they have been doing.

A really good day would be getting that new cap on the well that we were led to believe would be happening a week after they put this cap on.

In a recent statement by Allen I think he said that new cap is a week down the road still.

Yes, it is spin, just as is the title of their latest email alert...

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Largest Release of Rehabilitated Brown Pelicans to Date

Sounds like the teaser for a reality show - tune in next week for the most exciting episode ever.

In a recent statement by Allen I think he said that new cap is a week down the road still.

The new cap comes later than that.. they will be tapping into the kill line, adding another 20,000-30,000 bpd capacity before then. Today's briefing was the first mention I've seen of temporarily moving in another, smaller production vessel on the kill line next week before the Helix Producer, which is currently off Timbalier Bay (Marine traffic), is ready.

Welcome to Planet Earth, visitor! The current date is year 2010. We have created a world where a good day is one in which things don't get exponentially worse.

also a record in lives ruined, animal and human, hell it aint even done yet

They haven't stopped work on RW1 - they're preparing to use a different technique to sense the exact location of the wild well as they close in on it. They will be going more slowly from here on out.

The second relief well is behind the first well for two reasons:
- it started fourteen days later.
- work on it was suspended for a number of days while DDII was moved into position for the potential lowering of a BOP. In addition to the time spent waiting near the wild well, DDII had to raise the riser & drill pipe before the move and then set it all up again on the return.

Can someone tell me under what circumstance they would not have to drill through the pipe Allen is talking about?

I can think of two possibilities...

1. If they intercept the wild well and discover that a flow is going up through the annulus because of the posited failed cement seal (see Nola well diagram) they might try to inject mud and kill the flow that way.

2. An approach discussed in earlier threads would involve plugging the bottom of the RW and then using some kind of blast to perforate both the RW and the adjacent WW and liner .. then pushing the mud through the holes, it's just that the holes wouldn't be created by drilling.

Caution - if this is the first time you've read one of Allen's briefings...it's not unusual for him to be a bit unclear on the details, in ways apparent even to this newbie.

"Incoherent" is a word that comes to mind. ;-)

From today's transcript it sounded as if the poor guy was having trouble even holding up the schematics he brought with him.

Although there were image and other problems with the earlier Suttles/Landry show, there was a benefit to having one person reporting on the subsea drilling and containment activities and the other on work on the shore and surface.

I look forward to Kent Wells' weekly technical briefings, although I realize the experts here scoff at the label 'technical' since he doesn't include all the details. His calls do seem to attract a more informed group of reporters, with somewhat better questions.

The first time I saw the well diagram to which you link was when it was submitted to Congress along with the testimony of a Halliburton executive. That was quite some time ago. In the meantime, the diagram has not been challenged or corrected, far as I know, so I have assumed the diagram is correct.

Is this true? Does anyone know if the diagram is correct?

That design wasn't one of the items that Waxman and Stupak called to Hayward's attention. It hasn't been discussed at any congressional hearing I've watched, although I haven't seen them all. I don't think it has been discussed in the Kenner hearings, although I haven't read the May 11 and May 12 transcripts. I know Hafle wasn't asked about it.

I'm completely outside the industry and don't know anything about well design. Noting my limitations, I further note that that design seems unimaginable, although others don't seem very concerned. Does anyone else construct wells like that? Has anyone ever built a well like that? WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?

Hooray! Capture the oil and send it down a pipe to where it can be handled in some way. Very good! Especially if it turns out that killing this well is more difficult than we would hope.

The most encouraging news I have heard in quite a while. Allen, etc., may not have all the answers yet but at least they are working on it.

Petey Wheatstraw|: ref: WH Commission on BP blowout.

Liberal greenie defined.
Frances Beinceke, “stop addiction to oil”
Don Boesch, Professor of Environmental Science
Terry Garcia, National Geographic Society lawyer,
Cherry Murray, Harvard physics scientist
Fran Ulmer, politician, climate change activist
Bob Graham, Ex Florida Senator, anti offshore drilling
William Reilly, ran EPA, World Wildlife Fund lobbyist

The commission needs some people from the offshore drilling industry who know something about it, not just academics/lawyers/politicians (all Obama types) who are against it.

Thank you for setting me straight with your nerve to speak to me with disdain.

Over 2300 deep water wells had been drilled in the GOM without a significant blowout before April 20, 2010 with many needed large oil/gas discoveries. The loose MMS laws and regulations have been in existence for fifty years, but the fine past record was the result of the industry behaving itself in the pursuit of profits, and not screwing up the environment. Liberals dump in the well as much as conservatives.

I go on:

If the participants lie during investigations and do not make the necessary reforms to operations and equipment they will only hurt themselves. Safe exploration/production will make the industry more profits, and the public will be able to drive cars, fly in planes, heat homes and use more electricity.
And I continue:
Yes you are right BP gambled and lost, with terrible consequences to the gulf shores and people. I don’t care much about the BP Corporation, some other major will replace them if they go under because people need oil. I do not hate America. In fact I am very grateful and proud to be an American. Was lucky enough to do two hitches in Vietnam.

I conclude:
Right wing greed is not any worst than socialist left wing greed. Little people gain less in more controlled societies. The little people of Venezuela or Saudi Arabia have not gotten rich. Oil makes work easier.

Obama should be impeached over this.


Member for
10 min 55 sec

I have to love how we shoot this kind of crap out of the sky so consistently. Good work inc.

Yep, just like how the judge shot down Obama's moratorium.

You've been napping I see. It's appealed to U.S. Circuit. And how will they get permits eh?

To barrow a phrase "his decision compares to the ref's call in the world cup soccer game last week"

cr5 I suggest since you have not been here very long. Scroll up this thread and read Rockmans take on the decision it may be our best outcome in this mess. Political hackery severs no one around here

You may as well learn something wail your here

incus: "Political hackery severs no one around here"

Is that an updated version of "but words will never hurt us"?


Obama should be impeached over this.

What is "this"?

- The blowout?

- The oil spill?

- The cleanup?

- The delays in killing the well?

- The $20 billion "slush fund"?

- The 6 month moratorium?

- Because he's Obama?

Heading Out,

Totally OT, but I spent 4 long years in Rolla. UMR '83. Where men were men and women were scarce.

Here's a great story.


"...PANACEA — Jack Rudloe saw the future of his little slice of Florida a few nights ago, on an insomniac hike on the beach. He shined his flashlight at what should've been sea foam. It was not.

"I don't know what it is," he said, holding a bag of the brown goop up to the light the other day. "I've never seen anything like it in my life."

The oil has been inching this way. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. Pensacola. Panama City. The people of Panacea, a fall-down fishing town in the path of the black monster, are past the point of trying to hope the thing away....

Scientifically, it's questionable," Rudloe says. "But what do you tell the little kids who are asking about the oil spill? You have to tell them you're doing everything you can do."

He calls it Operation Noah's Ark...."

OK, I admit I haven't read anything like all the comments here, but I keep wondering why all the oil capture plans continue to revolve around finicky, hard to seal "top hat" things. I envision something about like the first giant box they tried, but with a plenty big enough pipe in the top to not restrict the flow and a slew of other pipes angled off of it. You drop the whole kit & kaboodle over the whole blowout preventer assembly (possibly putting down a bed of sand or gravel first, mostly fill it with concrete, let it harden, and now you have a whole bunch of pipes you can direct the oil through, with no giant billows gushing out around the edges. Don't even try to bring up the oil under any kind of real pressure, just attach a series of damn big hoses (buoyed to support the weight) to all the pipes (many pipes and valves allow you to shut one pipe to replace one hose when it inevitably breaks). You only have to keep the juggling act going with the hoses till you get the relief well completed.

In a way, they are creating an octopus of hoses - well, a quartet anyway. They've been incrementally increasing the captured flow as they bring in more vessels - there are now two paths to the surface, there reportedly will be three by next week, and there are plans to be juggling four by mid-July.

Having a tight seal at the moment would be problematic, since they do not have the capacity to process all the flow. They would have to use a choke to limit the flow, which would be undesirable since they're currently consciously avoiding back pressure down the possibly compromised well.

The three replacements caps that they're currently working all are designed to have a better seal - one by a flange-to-flange connection, one via a latch under the flange, and one, called over-shot, that would slide down over some portion of the assembly. I doubt any of them will be placed in service unless they are confident they can process all the oil & NG.

BP (excuse me, the USG's in charge) doesn't want to increase pressure to chance further damage to the well. That's why they don't want to try to seal anything till the relief well op.

To All the Drilling Experts who inhabit TOD:
With the moratorium lifted for the moment and the appeals process in chaos due to recusals, would oil companies resume DW exploratory drilling without a final decision? In other words, will the moratorium hold in fact? Starting prematurely could be very expensive?

Instead of a drilling expert, shouldn't you be asking a woman with a crystal ball, whose storefront window displays a neon palm?

heehee, you ask an interesting question.

We are nearing the edge of anarchy. I like the guy with the big box. Imaging there were no oil. What else could you posters do with your skills to benefit humanity?

Considering that BP was lying from the start about the volume of oil polluting the Gulf (the estimate was 5,000 bpd remember) why would anyone believe the numbers they are promoting right now?

Not sure which set of numbers we aren't believing right now but BP never made the flow estimates. Unfortunately this is more media misinformation that doesn't go away.

BP was extremely careful to NEVER give out an estimate of the flow. The 1,000 and 5,000 bpd flow rates came from the government based on oil slicks at the time and the government appointed task force came out with the later 12,000 to 19,000 (or 25,000) bpd.

BP did say they expected the flow to increase 20% when they cut the riser although my belief is that it was probably closer to a 40% increase.

If you are questioning the numbers of oil and gas recovered or flared on the Discoverer Enterprise or Q4000 those figures are measured by instruments and verified by third parties. Skimming and burning estimates are made by the USCG - and those are real rough estimates.

The reported flow rates have never been BP's numbers. They, and everyone else, has been using estimates provided by various government or government-sponsored entities.

The past few estimates are based upon the work of the Flow Rate Technical Group—organized at government request.

You can Google it.

More fecal matter entering the rotating device -

TAMPA - A relentless sun baking the tropics for weeks has turned the Gulf of Mexico into a simmering cauldron with water temperatures already hitting their August peak.


I did not post this before, but God speaks to me interesting ways. On Sunday, I took a look at the live video of the spill. Just as I called up PBS' link to one of the underwater vehicle cams trained on the gusher, I saw what LOOKED like a large explosion. There was a blinding light, and shrapnel flying. The screen went chaotic, then black, then a new video appeared looking just like the one before the blast. This happened at around 2:39 p.m. Central Time Sunday. Any thoughts?

Off to sleep. Hope you have the answer by tomorrow. Enjoy your Blue Bell, Rockman, and it's new, corn-syrupy formula.