BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - UPDATE: The Cap is Off the Well, ROV Incident, Entering the Old Well, and Open Thread

This comment thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6650.

UPDATE 3 pm: I have looked at the fuller comments that were apparently made at the phone conference this morning about the need to remove the plug from the Blow-Out Preventer (BOP) (sorry I missed it since I was watching MO S&T pass Calgary in the solar car race) and I am not sure that it was necessarily an ROV bumping the cap that closed a valve and caused the problem. For those reading earlier posts I have commented on how, even in fast flows, precipitation can close nozzles, and back on May 12th I posted pictures showing how precipitation can close pipes and nozzles. This blockage may thus have a similar cause, and can, in the short term possibly be remediated best by just pulling the cap to the surface, cleaning it and the feed lines and sending it back down.

UPDATE Noon EST: Oil gushing at spill site after vent damaged; Cap removed after sub hits vent; 2 cleanup workers die in separate events. More in comment thread below.

UPDATE 9:15 am The cap has been removed from the BOP - am not sure if they are replacing it with the new model, or if there has been a problem.

As the fleet above the Deepwater Horizon well begins to build, the new daily production total for oil has almost reached 26 kbd.

For the first 12 hours on June 22 (midnight to noon), approximately 8,195 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 5,045 barrels of oil and 27.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On June 21st, total oil recovered was approx. 25,830 barrels:

• approx. 15,560 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 10,270 barrels of oil were flared,
• and approx. 52.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

• The fleet above the well as the collection system begins to change. Click for larger image.

The Helix Producer will be collecting oil from the BOP and feeding it to the Loch Rannoch for storage. Note the preparation of underwater dispersant tanks, in case the fleet has to abandon the site due to an approaching hurricane. Speaking of which, the picture of the Gulf hasn’t changed much since yesterday, questions on the possibility of a hurricane being formed by the end of next week remain in the air.

BP is giving the money from the sale of the oil to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with the first check (for $5 million) already on its way.

Relief wells

I was asked today why there need to be two different ways of getting into the casing at the bottom of the existing well. And why the relief well had to make a bend to come into contact with the original well at right angles. Well, the reason that this is so, is that the initial intent is to use a milling or drilling tool to go through the steel casing. Now the casing is not that large in diameter, and so the surfaces curve away from the closest point of contact. As a result, if the relief well does not come in so that it is aligned with a diameter of the old well, then it will strike the edge of the casing at a very shallow angle.

The analogy that I used was to consider that you want to drill a hole through a piece of wood. Normally you set the drill up so that it drills down perpendicular to the wood, and the hole is made. But if the drill was set at a very shallow angle to the wood (say 10 degrees or less) then as you tried to push the drill into the wood, it might bend along the wood surface instead. Push hard enough and you will break the drill bit. Starting a hole in rock is often referred to as “collaring” the hole. In jack-leg drilling, which often occurs on a relatively rough rock surface, the drill bit is held against the rock with one hand, while the other slowly starts the drill, until the “collar” is established. It is very difficult to establish a collar on a very shallow angle, particularly if the drill bit is at the end of a three-mile long piece of pipe.

This is why, if the relief well drill comes up against the side of the casing, and it is not aligned so that it can drill into the old well without glancing off the casing, that the crew has another string to their bow. (And this is taken from an earlier Tech talk on Completing and Perforating a Well)

And this is where Her Majesty's Explosive (HMX) comes in. Small, specially designed, explosive charges, known as shaped charges are now put together into specifically designed charge packages, and lowered down into the well into the completion zone.

Arrangement of shaped charges (the yellow cylinders) – when the explosive goes off the cones collapse and small liquid metal jets shoot out of the open end, through the casing, concrete and into the rock, creating a channel. (Core Labs)

Here they are detonated, sending small jets of metal against the wall of the casing and perforating the steel and concrete into the surrounding rock. There is an animation that shows the jet being produced (see also information here).

Representation of shaped charges firing and penetrating the casing, cement and wall (OSHA)

As I have described it, this normally gives the passage for the well to flow out of the rock and into the well bore. In this case it has, instead, opened a path from the relief well into the well, rather than the reverse. It will be through these vents that the high density mud will be injected into the well to start the kill.

ROV Camera View

Looking at the ROV cameras tonight just as I go to post this it seems as though they are starting to hoist the old broken riser to the surface, unless they are examining the riser that is currently coming out of the Enterprise – but this has been embedded in sediment, and so is likely to be the old riser. Seen through Enterprise ROV 1. The flow out of the bottom of the LMRP cap continues to get less. I can now see considerably more of the wall of the cap through Skandi ROV 2 than I have been able to see in the past, because the cloud of oil and gas is diminished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'd like to add one more suggestion. If folks want to squabble (and you know who you are), can you take it outside, 'cause some of us don't have time to weed through the crap to get to the solid information presented. You diminish the value of the material and this site.

Syn --And there's the real dilemma for the feds: "how could you blow that order when you have this oil spill as your evidence". Very easily: just because BP blew out doesn't mean any of the other drilling effort represent a significant risk. The BP blow out does prove a blow out was possible but the feds knew that when they gave BP the drill permit. So no new info from that quarter. Are the other rigs following the regs the feds require? MMS has field inspectors...did they go out immediately and check those rigs? If so did they find any problems? If no problems why stop drilling? And if they didn't go out and check the other rigs immediately WHY THE HELL NOT!

You get my point: if the feds say they need a moratorium then it's an implied rebuke of their own oversight. As someone pointed out on NPR just this morning: there are only 33 other rigs drilling in the DW GOM. Why didn't the MMS put 2 inspectors on each one. For that matter why not have two coast Guard inspectors on board. And for that matter why not have two independent very experienced drilling consultants reporting to the MMS watching over operations. The oil companies would gladly pay that expense if it kept them running. We've joked about but it's true: I could have put together a take-no-prisoners group of consultants in a week to go to all 33 rigs and rip them a new butt hole for any minor infraction of the rules. Basically a due diligence effort. I've run many in the past. And don't think that my guys would go soft just because they are insiders: Due diligence by its nature is slash and burn. Just like lawyers who specialize in suing other lawyers. I would be as comfortable running a company out of business as I would be promoting them. Nothing personal...just business and another paycheck.

Bottom line: the only rationale for a blanket moratorium is the gov't admission that they are totally impotent and completely unable to handle their responsibilities. Is that going to be the defense they'll present to the judge when they off their appeal: despite decades of telling the public we were doing a good job the truth is that not only have we not been providing adquate oversight that even today, while watching the ongoing nightmare in the GOM, we're still not capable of assuring safe drilling standards? If the MMS can't guarentee they can keep drilling ops safe today why should anyone think they can do so in 6 months?

Rockman: Without going to far into the political weeds, this mess has a great big, fat, enormous oil/gas lobby political contribution BAS mixed into it. Think of what Rep. Joe Barton said about a "shakedown"and his apology to BP. He thought he would be carried out of the hearing on the shoulders of the oil/gas lobby from Texas after saying that. He didn't get reelected in his district since 1984 and rise to be the senior Republican on the House Energy Committee (and once and future Chairman) by costing the oi/gas lobby a lot of time and money. He successfully has blocked as much renewable energy legislation and sponsored as much oil patch subsidies as a CEO of an oil company would. I have heard him called "the Honorable Representative from the oil patch." The oil patch has gotten what they asked for. "And so it goes."

EL -- I don't deal with lobbyist...never have...probably never will. So I don't know where they are coming from. I can tell you what the grass roots think: They won't mind seeing the gov't beat BP to death especially if it gets the drilling business back on track. BP is a competitor...not a "friend". I'm sure very major oil company is licking their lips hoping BP will be weakened enough for a take over of their assets. Again, it's not pesonal...just good business.

I don't think anyone can apologize for the behavior of others anyway. I could only stand to watch about five minutes of Sen. Waxman's questioning before I turned it off in disgust at the tack of his inquiry. He acted as if he truly believed that Hayward was on the drilling rig calling shots play by play. It would be like accusing Obama of supporting the use of federal handouts to fund brothels because his ACORN flunkies did so. These gubmint clowns are like the high school dweeb that becomes a cop because he was picked on in class and now wants to show everyone how pwerful he is. The best thing for anyone could do if they are subpoenaed to one of these witch hunt flavored dog and pony shows is to invoke their fifth amendment rights and let them go pound sand for the sensationalism they are after!

Representative Waxman may be a fool BUT.........

....if CEOs are paid millions and billions they are either responsible or they are not.

They can't have it both ways.

The honorable thing for Hayward to do IS to commit suicide.

Two items.

MMS was weakened during Bush and this was not addressed by Obama sufficiently. There was no crisis, either.

Delay is needed until the facts are fully known. The costs are astronomical, long lived, and threatening regardless of need for the oil and jobs.

Quote: MMS was weakened during Bush and this was not addressed by Obama sufficiently. There was no crisis, either.

Question: Is this substantiated somewhere? Would like to see some facts that something done by the Bush team weakened the MMS.

The entire bureaucracy of the federal government was weakened via dumbing-down under Bushco. From agency heads to clerks, policies of nonperformance were enabled and encouraged (M. Brown, M. Goodling, as examples). As general policy, they disdained scientists and their studies.

"The oil companies were running MMS during those [Bush] years," Bobby Maxwell, a former top auditor with the agency, told Rolling Stone last year. "Whatever they wanted, they got. Nothing was being enforced across the board at MMS."

Source: http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/da_kings_men/2010/06/12/epic-fail-bp-mms-bus...

Then there's this nasty little scandal, which Bushco owns:


It doesn't help that the MMS was founded by Ronald Reagan’s Interior Secretary and noted religious zealot and rabid anti-environmentalist, James G. Watt (bio, here):


Cutbacks in bureaucracy are not bad things. I saw cuts at NASA and DoD that were very effective and saved lots of money by removing dead wood. There is NOT a correlation between cutbacks and decreased effectiveness as you indicate. The problems of the inmates running the asylum exists regardless of staff levels. Scandals are a dime a dozen in Washington lately regardless of who / what party in in the White House, it seems that something in the air in Washington promotes misbehavior.

Also I've worked with the Government enough to know that what an agency was 30 yrs ago is NOT what it is now. Bringing in James Watt and President Reagan does not add anything to your argument.

"The entire bureaucracy of the federal government was weakened via dumbing-down under Bushco."

And, it has really been strengthened by Obama, right?

Surely, you are not suggesting that the President has anything to do with how a Federal agency is run on a daily basis. Do you think Bill Clinton was thinking about the MMS while leaning back in the chair waiting on Monica to get there?

The article you referenced said that the whistle blower's report came forward in OCT 2008, at the end of Bush's term and just before the election. No politics involved, huh?

"Surely, you are not suggesting that the President has anything to do with how a Federal agency is run on a daily basis."

Um... that's how the Executive Branch of the federal government works. The POTUS sets policy for the departments through the selection of administrators and a framework of how to apply policy through them. There's always tension bewteen how laws read that were passed by Congress and/or the Executive in the past and how the present administration handles the execution of those laws.

IMO both major political parties, bought off, since about 1980 have made it their business to hire regulators who won't regulate, but will hand over public funds and property to the private sector. We then claim "governmnet doesn't work" -- and less regulation is the answer!

Petey Wheatstraw asserted:

The entire bureaucracy of the federal government was weakened via dumbing-down under Bushco.

Even if that were true -- which you have certainly not demonstrated -- Obama has had 16+ months to correct it. Oddly enough, I haven't seen any reports of the Obama administration firing these bumbling bureaucrats you would have us believe were appointed by Bush.

Obama has had 16+ months to correct it

Yeah! It's not as if he came into office with two wars to deal with and an economy on the brink of collapse. What the hell has the guy been doing?

I would expect a "change" candidate (not that I ever expected such from Obama - always saw him as BAU which renders the howls that he's a commie treehugger funny) to be cleaning house in pretty much every federal department. Polling indicated that Obama was likely to win in at least October. There were a good 20 months to have made changes in a department of this nature, and in fact if the Dems had ever been serious about "change" there should have been shadow cabinet members and lower officials in the Rolodex years ago. Years.

Of course this is the POTUS who has kept GW Bush's Defense Sec., so dice on that. Two corporate parties.

Obama has had 16+ months to correct it

Yeah! It's not as if he came into office with two wars to deal with and an economy on the brink of collapse. What the hell has the guy been doing?

Yeah! It's not like the president have time with all of the issues at hand to play basketball, golf, have numerous concerts in the WH in his honor, attend to fundraiser dinners, and go for vacation, pick the bracket in college basketball March Madness,and come to NYC for shopping. Oh, wait.... :)

ExDrllgMgr said:

Delay is needed until the facts are fully known.

So what further facts are needed than they have now? How much more will we know in 6 months?

IMHO, we know why the well blew out - it was a whole string of human errors, similar to the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident and the Chernobyl accident. We didn't shut down all the nukes. We strengthened training, procedures, improved instrumentation and controls, and other design changes, but we didn't shut everything down.

We didn't shut down the chemical industry down just because of the Bhopal disaster either. We don't shut down all the trains every time we have a derailment.

The anti-drilling people say "We can't drill unless we have a viable cleanup plan". We run nukes without viable cleanup plans . . . you can't put the genie back in the bottle . . . . you gotta keep the genie in the bottle at all costs.

I think deepwater drilling can be made safer by having the industry take a long hard look at how the nuclear power industry does business.

The FAA does ground every plane of a certain type even if normal inspections discover a safety concern whether one has crashed or not. It is one of the reasons why the drive to the airport is more dangerous than any airline flight. Shutting down all the rigs until they are certified safe is a reasonable reaction to this fatal explosion and blowout.

I'd still like a good explanation of why the explosion and fire occurred. Is there a fundamental design flaw that is common to all rigs or was there just sloppy maintenance on the DWH?

This entire thread is NOISE, not signal. PLEASE take this meaningless debate somewhere else, and mods, please DELETE this entire thread.

Bottom line: the only rationale for a blanket moratorium is the gov't admission that they are totally impotent and completely unable to handle their responsibilities.

There is another rationale. Maybe Barton had it right "shakedown", this moratorium is a a power play by BO, to get Big Oil into some kind of compromise on an energy bill. Hard Ball my friend, Hard Ball.

I don't think so lefty. All BIg Oil can do is throw money at the lobbyists. In the end the energy bill will be determined by politicians on the basis of politics IMHO. I think the president was in a tough position of having to do something to offer the public some peace of mind. That is one of his responsibilities as a leader. I just think he didn't get very good advice on how to go about it. For instance imagine the photo op: MMS inspectors on the drill floor of all DW rigs THE DAY AFTER THE BLOW OUT reporting back to the president on drilling activity. Films of Coast Guard inspectors going over every nook and cranny of all offshore rigs. Very strong appearence...very take charge...very proactive...very effective. And yet we see noting along that line. A missed opportunity to boost his polls IMHO.

Everyone knows MMS is compromised, That is the whole problem. Having them on the rigs would just be foxes looking over the hen house. No, this is a huge power play, an attempt to get something out of Big Oil and their politicians. Payback for Carville jumping to the Jindal campaign, the energy bill, any of the above and all of the above.

And I forgot to mention Florida's Electoral Votes. La, MS, Al, TX (where the oil workers are), those electoral votes aren't in play. Florida, doesn't have anything to loose from the moratorium, smacking Big Oil, looks good to the condo owners in FL.

Ya think lefty? Fl has 27 elect votes. MS, AL and LA have 25. Those southern states have been historically Democrat. You want to be the next Democrat looking for support in S La for your next run? I rew up in La. and I couldn't imagine the state ever going Repub. But if the Repubs can effective dump the economic downturn as a result from the moritorium on the Dems we may see what I never thought I would see: La electing a Repub president. They already have a Repub for govenor. someone might want to send Rom E a copy of the electorial map.

Here is an easy to use map of electoral results. http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/

Since 1980, when Regan swept the south except for GA, the south has generally given its electoral votes to the Republican Candidate. LA did so except for 1992 and 1996, when it voted for a neighboring Arkansan.


The 'fox in the hen house' analogy does not really apply to MMS inspectors on the rigs - unless you're accusing the MMS of stealing oil. In the past the MMS has had potentially conflicting missions: to promote drilling on federal leases and the resulting revenues and national energy goals on the one hand; and to promote safety and environmental compliance on the other. I think the recent split up of the MMS by the US Administration was directed at resolving this very conflict.
Rather than a directionless 6 month moratorium, why not have a much briefer pause for the time necessary to guarantee that every rig in the GOM is using a modern, full-featured BOP (with at least 2 Blind Shear Rams, which BP did NOT have). And most importantly, that all BOP's are tested in the most rigorous way possible, very often, and that they PASS ALL TESTS without exception. The reckless, thoughtless, sloppy BOP maintenance that BP tolerated simply cannot be allowed. If companies can't afford properly functioning, top-of- the-line BOP's maintained and tested at 100% readiness, then we can't afford to have them operating in our GOM - they can sell out, go drill elsewhere in less valuable real estate, or drill wherever they can afford to operate responsibly. Once all of this is in place, then operations should resume without further delay.

And if necessary, put the MMS under the Coast Guard, or even the US Navy, whoever can still 'run a tight ship'.

Even if they did report it, they'd find a way to attribute it to his Islamic/Muslim/Socialist/Communist/Nazi/Globalist/Afrocentric agenda.

As I've said before - they want Obama to fly in with his superman cape on - not to save the day - but to use him as target practice.

After all, they've had all those spare cases of ammo sittin' around in the closet, playroom, fridge, whatever collecting dust since they stocked up on it 2008.

Rockman: Agreed. 100%. But I don't think anyone, except maybe in the oil patch, knew how serious or difficult the blow out was going to be. It's always hoocoodanode. As I think you've said, if the blow out had been on dry land, it would not received much attention because it would have ended quite quickly with tolerable damage. The BP refinery fire passed with less notice than a young girl missing on holiday. BAU.

EL -- And that's where I think the president's advisors let him down big time. Once we knew the blow out was coming around the csg and that drill pipe was stcuk in the BOP everyone in the oil patch knew this was going to be the Mother of All Spills. The only big question was how much oil per day. Granted President Obama having that info wouldn't have change the attempt to kill the well but he could have at least prepared the folks for the bad news as well as lookingmore presidential. Like the old joke about not letting a crisis go unused the president could have scored big points with the public IMHO had he hit them between the eyes with cold ugly facts.

I agree Rockman. This was another letdown for me and continues to make me question the potency of this administration to affect meaningful change - in any direction.

Rockman: Didn't BP spend some days using ROVs to fiddle with the BOP? I vaguely remember some interviews with industry "experts", probably lobbyists, saying as soon as the the ROVs get the job done, we can move on; nothing to see here.... The old Watergate questions: What did he know and when did he know it? Good God, it always comes back to Watergate. I think I'll take a nap.

El -- As I recall I think they were manually trying to activate the BOP with the ROV. Again, not my area, but I would bet that the tech folks involved saw little chance of success. I'm sure BP was hoping the well bridged over before they admitted just how little hope there was to stop the flow.

Rockman: "Hope is not a plan." — old military saying from Napoleon. BTW, you're running up quite a Blue Bell credit with me.

FYI for the non-Texans:

"Founded in 1907 when enterprising townsfolk converted an abandoned cotton gin to churn farmers' excess cream into butter, Blue Bell had 1997 sales of $191 million, according to Information Resources Inc.

"Although it is carried in just 14 percent of the nation's groceries, the ice cream ranks behind only the top seller, which goes under the Dreyers label in the West and Edy's in the East, and No. 2 Breyers, and is ahead of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's."

Blue Bell has seen significant taste variation within its relatively small sales area, which expanded outside Texas in 1989 to gradually encompass the other Gulf Coast states as well as Oklahoma and parts of New Mexico, Kansas and Missouri.

And the nearest, in Chicago, is 1 1/2 hrs from me. :-(

You are definitely right about that. It puzzled me why they did not approach it that way. It was a clear opportunity for obama to shine.

Then I remembered the announcement for expanded off-shore drilling only weeks earlier. And the year-long review they boasted about doing. And obama saying off-shore drilling is safe because of advanced technology.

Of course we know now that the technology for the single biggest off-shore risk, the one we are now suffering, has not advanced in 30 years really. And MMS was fully aware of the risk, prepared a report on it a decade ago, but did nothing about it. And MMS was also aware that BOPs offer only limited protection, and did nothing about it. And they fail 45% of the time. The admin. also knew MMS was a corrupt industry-beholden entity and did nothing to correct that in conjunction with their expanded drilling proposal. Out it all together, it sure makes obama look stupid after his grand announcement.

So, possibly, out of an abundance of political caution and fear, the response to the spill was muted, and the govt. tried to downplay it. That's why I think he bumbled the opportunity. He has terrible political advisors, IMO.

syn -- I don't disagree with you but let me add some personal observations. I've dealt with the MMS off and on for 35 years. My first job was doing development drilling in the OCS in 1975. Granted my contact was limited to pushing paper work in their direction. In 35 years I've never had a conversation in person or on the phone with anyone with the MMS. I've had them show up on rigs offshore for inspection but being a geologist never had even a short chat with them. Beyond that I don't much about the interactions with rig personnel other than what I hear in the galley. The general description was always about the same: nit pickers with little practical knowledge of drilling. Valid or just sour grapes from the rig crew? Don't know but probably a little of both.

Perhaps it happens way above my pay grade but I've never seen nor been told of any collusion between the MMS hands and the company personnel. The MMS may have little practical experience, a lack of motivation/skills to get the job done right or an unconcerned management as long as the paycheck shows up every couple of weeks. And maybe they spend too much time hunting porn on the net or using gov't credit cards at strip clubs. But I've never seen anything to indicate they were corrupt. More simply: they're just not very good at their job.

Yes, the word "corrupt" is problematic. I am using it in the looser sense that it is corrupted relative to what its purpose should be. Instead of a watch-dog, it is industry beholden. It serves cakes at staff meetings that say "Drill Baby Drill." That sort of mentality and approach represents is corrupting of the agency's true mission and function. That is very different from taking bribes and such.

The judge seemed to use the word in that way, too:

"The Court recognizes that the compliance of the thirty-three
affected rigs with current government regulations may be irrelevant
if the regulations are insufficient or if MMS, the government’s own
agent, itself is suspected of being corrupt or incompetent.

10 If the MMS and the Department truly were incompetent
and corrupt, as the intervenors insist, the Court fails to see how
this conclusion supports the government’s position.
Indeed, while
the government makes light of the fact that several of the experts
disagree with the recommendations in the Report by noting that they
do not disagree with the findings, of greater concern is the
misleading text in the Executive Summary that seems to assert that
all the experts agree with the Secretary’s recommendation. The
government’s hair-splitting explanation abuses reason, common
sense, and the text at issue."


syn -- very interesting comments from the judge. Had not seen those before. I'm going to go out on a limb and offer a very wild speculation: I wonder if someone in the oil patch didn't put a bug in the judge's ear: the MMS is so incompetent doing their jobs (as witnessed by them letting us get away with stuff for decades) that their analysis is worthless. I could honestly offer such an opinion myself: granted the public might not fully trust the industry to self regulate themselves properly you could still expect us to do a better job of it than the MMS. Not a nice thing to say about the folks at the MMS but that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't true. Or put it another way: I've heard of no one at the MMS losing their job over the BP blow out. In fact I would expect big budget increase and many new jobs there as a result of the accident. But thousands of oil patch jobs and a huge chunk of cash flow has been lost. Who suffereing the most from MMS laxed oversight...them or the oil patch?

Rockman: "Regulatory Capture."

I thought you would appreciate footnote 10. I instantly thought of you while reading it and even wondered, hey, is the judge a Rockman fan? He just slams Salzar for deceptively passing off the moratorium as being supported by the panel when it was added after the fact.

The judge does seem to believe the govt. justification that was attempted is a bad idea and causing unnecessary economic damage even if the govt. had produced sufficient justification (legally) to support it. That's not his call, really, but he is expressing that in dicta.

I think he views the corrupt/incompetent charge as an embarrassment for Salzar, and mostly irrelevant. I think it angers him in light of the inadequate showing the govt. made in support of the moratorium order. MMS may be incompetent, but so are YOU Salzar on the basis of what you offer in support of this broad moratorium. Why should these people suffer financial losses over your incompetence any more than the residents of the Gulf may be suffering from MMS' incompetence. Show some competence if you want to exercise your power and take these people's money. That's not a bad message, but it's not your typical deferential rationality analysis from a fed. judge during a crisis.

All the judge said was that there is evidence that the MMS acted outside of the regs, based on the testamentary & documents he has read. The judge hasn't said the decision to stop work is right/wrong.

The judge was given evidence that direct harm was being done by the ban. (Its not like your appealing a fine).

So the decision was a slam dunk. Hornbeck proved their case. Its now upto the gov to defend the decision and that the ban is within MMS/federal regs.

I don't work in Oil & Gas, but from a business perspective this hasn't helped anything. Next month the next judge could rule in favour of the MMS & we are back to square one. IMO the MMS has to say "my bad, over reaction, lets have lots of inspections". Until then its too much of an unknown and the industry will choose certainty over unknowns (ie move elsewhere).

The decision was not based on just whether the moratorium caused harm to the plaintiffs. Then of course it would be a slam dunk.

The judge says clearly that an order issued with the proper justification could outweigh the harm to the plaintiffs, but such an order was not issued in his opinion in this case for the reasons already covered. Salzar is issuing a new order that will supposedly provide sufficient justification.
While a suspension of activities directed after a rational interpretation of the evidence could outweigh the impact on the plaintiffs and the public, here, the Court has found the plaintiffs would likely succeed in showing that the agency’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.

But you're right. How can anyone have confidence with the uncertainty. Salzar's team screwed up.

I hate law (& IANAL), but I work with the FDA (indirectly).

arbitrary and capricious has a very specific legal meaning which in layman's terms is outside of regs.

The judges ONLY concern is the plaintiffs & the defendants, not the bigger picture. The judge has editorialised that he thinks the ban sucks.

While a suspension of activities directed after a rational interpretation of the evidence could outweigh the impact on the plaintiff, if the ban is within regs the ban stands (and the impact is irrelevant), outside of regs it doesnt. the MMS did not prove their case.

The FDA, FAA ban stuff all the time, the reason it doesn't go to court is that its within the regs. The FDA cannot ban a drug because they dont like it, they have to have valid specific reasons within their own regulatory framework. If the regs are wrong then that's a separate court case (and the FDA have been taken to court over their own regs being incorrect).

The preliminary injuction order is beautiful in that it smacks MMS's and Salazar's lazy asses.

When Salazar appeals the preliminary injuction, I hope Hornbeck & co-plaintiffs cite your earlier points about failure of MMS to get off their lazy asses and dispatch inspectors to other deep water wells post-haste.

I've heard of no one at the MMS losing their job over the BP blow out.

Actually, Elizabeth Birnbaum "resigned" as head of MMS shortly after the blowout; she was replaced by Michael Bromwich.

Also, it was noted earlier that the term "corruption" in reference to MMS was being used loosely to mean not collusion between it and the oil companies but simply that it had failed to do its job. However, there were several investigations back in 2007 and 2008 into highly questionable activities of MMS (including sex-and-pot parties with oil company employees and a cover-up of oil lease problems benefiting oil companies and costing taxpayers billions), reviewed here:


But I've never seen anything to indicate they were corrupt. More simply: they're just not very good at their job.

I think that's right ... I worked in and around the Australian federal bureaucracy for 20-plus years, and agencies that have a regulatory or monitoring function seem to have the same culture.

It is not that they are corrupt, but they have either (a) former workers from the sector, who understand where shortcuts and compromises are required, or (b) staff who do not know the industry, and are easily fooled or compromised (both types eager to please, and be respected, too).

In fact, if many of these regulatory bodies (in whatever field of endeavour you wish to name) actually were effective, and applied the law as she is wrote, lots of industries would be so shaken up they would grind to a halt, or become non-viable.

So water finds its own level, and everyone rubs along comfortably - until there is a major drama, followed by tragedy, followed by the blame-game, followed by an important-sounding inquiry, followed by a fat report that says what government wants it to say, followed by a few heads rolling (maybe), followed by reform ... and then all back to normal.

"So water finds its own level, and everyone rubs along comfortably - until there is a major drama, followed by tragedy, followed by the blame-game, followed by an important-sounding inquiry, followed by a fat report, followed by a few heads rolling (maybe), followed by reform ... and then all back to normal."

I would have to say that is brilliant summary of the process. And accurate. But I do believe the process matters, as messy, embarrassing and imperfect as it is. What comes out of it matters. Something good can come of it, or nothing, or something worse. It can change attitudes if nothing else.

Contrast how watergate was handled/investigated versus how the financial melt down was handled/investigated. The impeachment of clinton is an example of the process run amok. Blow jobs are a little far afield of the relevant inquiry for high crimes and misdemeanors for a president. But that was one hell of an investigation. They even got his semen and the dress she was wearing. From the president. Imagine applying that level of commitment to solving the problem of a failed BOP and a broken regulatory agency, and how to make drilling safer quickly.

"Something good can come of it, or nothing, or something worse. It can change attitudes if nothing else."

I agree. But in this particular case of regulation, or not, of the oil industry, this issue is quite ephemeral. We, here at TOD, know the oil industry is nearing the end. The important social/policy problem is managing its orderly shutdown. So, in a longer view, it really doesn't matter.

In the shorter run, there is the problem of the people who are put out of work. For this I have a suggestion: BP should hire them, all of them, as permanent new hires in their PR department. They are at least as qualified as the current PR people. They will say things that will cause no end of embarrassment to BP, but they need work.

Rockman, Your excellent posts have been crushed by the weight of other nonsense about irrelevant gunshot wounds and detailed discussion of the riser cap that truly belong on the real time chat area outlined again and again in the first post of every new comment thread. But I digress.

This administration is extremely top-heavy with lawyers. Lawyers have a tendency to approach things differently than any rational person would, because they operate from a different world view. Our drop-in lawyer tried to explain that to us, but was so roundly criticized that unfortunately I haven't seen him post again [EDIT: Ahh here he is: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6642] Glad to have you back retiredL. But he was RIGHT. For instance your BRILLIANT idea of having SWAT teams of inspectors hitting all the rigs has already partially occurred, remember the news? Unfortunately because LAWYERS are running the bureaucracy they found themselves in this exact position. "What happens if we say this specific rig is safe and it has a problem? Then WE are liable and look like idiots besides. We can't have that, so as polished bureaucrats, we will do what we do better than anyone on the planet, and simply kick the can down the road, accomplishing NOTHING". The moratorium was a fait accompli given that mind set. For a corollary, look no further than the FDA. Approve a new drug that saves millions, but might leave you with egg on your face with side-effects? Fuggedaboutit.

As for meeting people at MMS, I've met a few, and they were industry people before they decided to join the government. They had petroleum engineering degrees, and took the government jobs in the 80's when oil crept down to $10/bbl and jobs dried up. Their day-to-day experience might be rusty, but they are well-informed and get to attend unlimited conferences (which is where I've met them) and also get to see the latest and greatest from multiple companies, unlike company drones who don't get to see what their competitors are doing. However, they are STILL bureaucrats, or work under bureaucrats (which is of course worse), so they have to mind their P's and Q's more than thee or me.

I cant comment on the MMS, but I have regular dealings with the FDA (not often directly, but I work in the industry). The FDA has big nasty fangs. The FDA has the power (and it uses it) to prevent someone from working in the industry (normally for fraud - subcontractors (hospitals) faking patients & results).

I have worked on more than one drug that had no safety issue upto approval, but then 1 patient dies, drug is cancelled. Avg R&D cost ~300M & 10 years of work. Its a numbers problem (population size), typically a drug will be tested on ~50,000 patients before being approved, but if a drug has a fatality rate of 1:250,000 you wont know until more people start taking it after approval.

The FDA does audit procedures (people genuinely break out in cold sweat when the FDA are coming) and if you fail you get an FDA warning letter (or worse), and if you don't fix the problems your operations get shut down.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is comparing FDA/MMS doesn't work in this case. The pharma industry isnt perfect, but the FDA do appear to be more in control than the MMS, based on comments I've read on TOD imply.

Tabby, The FDA can sit on approval for decades if they so desire, and the only sad thing is the millions who might die. So be it, they are essentially unaccountable. The MMS on the other hand is the ONLY group in the Federal Gov't besides the IRS who actually PRODUCE REVENUE! The FDA is never held to account when they screw up (a certain pain reliever that apparently caused heart attacks comes to mind and Thalidamide for those a bit older) except that there is a hangover effect once they are embarrassed that causes everyone AFTER the embarrassment to suffer, at least for as long as they think the public has memories. Then there is the issue of pharma's defense in liability cases, "Well, the FDA approved it so why are you suing US?". At the end of the day, they are more similar than you think, ESPECIALLY once the current political storm blows over. There will be 2 or 3 MMS', only one of which is interested in progress, the other two will diligently fight against it. Sort of like when the old Bureau of Mines was in existence, and spent most of its budget fighting the EPA. Our tax dollars at work.

Bless you, but I wasn't even aware of the criticism... law school gives you a thick skin.

RM: "The MMS may have little practical experience, a lack of motivation/skills to get the job done right or an unconcerned management as long as the paycheck shows up every couple of weeks. And maybe they spend too much time hunting porn on the net or using gov't credit cards at strip clubs. But I've never seen anything to indicate they were corrupt."

I think you guys are using an overly-narrow definition of the word. Using the term in its formal and traditional sense, MMS easily qualifies as corrupt.

Main Entry: 1 cor·rupt
Pronunciation: k&-'r&pt
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, from com- + rumpere to break -- more at REAVE
transitive verb
1 a : to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; also : BRIBE b : to degrade with unsound principles or moral values
3 : to subject (a person) to corruption of blood
4 : to alter from the original or correct form or version
intransitive verb
1 a : to become tainted or rotten b : to become morally debased
2 : to cause disintegration or ruin


I think in general that since 2000 the government has weeded out the technical people and replaced them with lawyers and bureaucrats. Or the technical people left when their findings were ignored or turned away, replaced with belief systems. Obama inherited this in the EPA, MMS and other departments. This is a systemic problem that is not easily solved by simply hiring new staff. Nor can it be done quickly when some positions require congressional approval and the Republicans are currently holding up over 100 such appointments, simply because they can. No wonder the MMS is inept. This is that "Smaller Government is Better Government" mentality in action.

So we are left to the big corporations like Citi, Lehman Brothers and BP running things and policing themselves. How is that working out?

We are so F**ked!

"Would you like some sauteed swan with your ice cream?"

Obama looks like a deer in the headlights because just about everyone in the US was caught in the same light. (Me too! I've been kicking myself for not shorting BP immediately!)

People in the drilling business knew the score but how many of them comment publicly? The stage has been abandoned to individuals such as Simmons (has he lost his mind or what?)

As for the moratorium; the problem is less with the drilling operations - I suspect all the current operating platforms are on 'max paranoia' level. The issue is with spill remediation. Despite BP's promises (and previous failures) it had a worthless spill remediation plan. Like the bailout/restructure finance strategy that conveniently left out the restructure part, the moratorium includes no preparations, no plan to counter/clean any additional spills in the same area ... or even accelerate the rate of cleanup of the ongoing spill.

The moratorium is more PR, more Potemkin politics where the appearance of a thing is more satifying to his administration than the thing itself. This is not particularly Obama's fault. He is not capable of what is not in him. For Obama to succeed as president at this point in time he would have to be an out-and-out hellion, piss and vinegar on wheels. He would have to be a Freddie Kruger to 300 million Americans, to have them tremble at the mention of his name. That sort of personality would be refreshing, an actor to take on the corporate interests at their own level.


The problem with B.O. is that his idea of leadership is to position himself in front of a parade. He thought everyone wanted a moratorium... you want it, you got it. No thought goes into most political actions, or actions by politicians, beyond the next poll, the next election. Just like business. No thought beyond the next balance sheet, next quarterly report, and stock price.

This thing will drag on until the well is capped. We can just hope (and pray if you are so inclined) that something else doesn't go wrong...

In other words, Murphy owns this well. We're basically screwed.


"Bottom line: the only rationale for a blanket moratorium is the gov't admission that they are totally impotent and completely unable to handle their responsibilities. Is that going to be the defense they'll present to the judge when they off their appeal?"

Yes, I agree and made that point yesterday. However, the setting we have here is a little different. We have national emergency and we have the executive branch trying to deal with it. A Federal court has to and normally would defer to the agency judgment under such circumstances. The agency need not state the embarrassing truth if they can otherwise make the necessary showing to justify the moratorium, which any attorney worth his or her salt should be able to do here. They did not do that yesterday because they did a pathetic job on the justification they did offer. It did not even match up factually with their own information.

RetireL you are right that i confused 5th and 6th circuits. The mass
recuasl in the 6th is interesting even for the 5th as it is a problem in both jurisdictions that a large percentage of the judges have stock holdings that could mess up the appeals process on an en banc hearing of the decision to block the moratorium. It also reveals the snake pit the administration has gotten itself in by screwing up the initial order.

That's why they are going to re-do it, IMO. They stand too big a chance of losing on appeal because of the defects in their initial justification showing. But I disagree with you, RetiredL, that they will not be able to do a do-over. Salzar can issue a new order every day as long as it has new facts offered in the justification. The court will have to consider them, it does not have a choice. This is not a lawsuit that gets decided once on the merits and done. This is an order from an executive agency concerning an on-going national emergency with needs and demands that change by the day. This is more akin to filing an amended complaint than it is trying to do an end-run around a decision on the merits.

And RM, to get back to your point, if they can't come up with the factual justification for a moratorium sufficient to meet a challenge given the disaster in the gulf, and the deference a court should give to an executive branch agency during an emergency like this, then either the attorneys are incompetent or the judge is ruling based on his biases rather than applying the appropriate legal standard and deference.

Look what the judge had to say, it was not that the govt. was wrong, it failed to offer any justification on numerous points and got others factually wrong:
"The Report makes no effort to explicitly justify the
moratorium: it does not discuss any irreparable harm that would
warrant a suspension of operations, it does not explain how long it
would take to implement the recommended safety measures.
The pattern continues. The one page memorandum, also, fails to
explain the reasons for the suspension of operations or the depth
of operations to be affected.
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.
The APA cautions that an agency action may only be set aside
if it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not
otherwise not in accordance with law.”
The Court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the agency, but the agency must “cogently explain why it has exercised its discretion in a given manner.” ... It has not done so.

Given the legal standard and the required deference to the agency, all the agency has to do is make a rational case. It does not have to be a compelling case or an airtight case, it just can't be an irrational one, or the complete failure to give a justification. Any of us here could come up with an adequate rationale I am sure.

Where i think the administration screwed up is they apparently assumed, particularly under the circumstances, that no court would have the audacity to actually subject their justification for the moratorium to actual scrutiny. Traditionally, especially during an emergency, it is more or less a rubber-stamp review unless the govt. is clearly trying to accomplish an ulterior purpose.

And the reason for that is separation of powers and deference to the executive to handle national emergencies and the recognition that they need room to operate. You can't have judges second-guessing or nit-picking, or nothing will get done. Especially when judges may have parochial interests vs. those of the national govt. SO the law gives them very limited review powers in these circumstances.

But this judge clearly is not happy with the admin./ Salzar, and is applying the standard with teeth. He humiliated Salzar in the opinion, mocked the report where the scientists did not sign off on the moratorium but Salzar made it look like they did, mocked the corruption of MMS, mocked the lack of any justification on numerous points, and very rightly pointed out the harm the shut down operators are suffering.

The judge is not saying no moratorium under any circumstances, he is saying with some real justification, don't come in here with this garbage when you are taking these people's livilihoods away. At least take the time to put together a coherent argument. At least meet the letter of the law. They deserve that much. I'm not your rubber stamp. Salzar's attorneys should have anticipated that. They would have done a much better job and thereby avoided this embarrassment had they had done so. Instead, they were apparently hopeful that the pipe would hang straight in the hole under gravity, and the judge would just rubber stamp it, or no one would challenge it in the first place.

syn -- I wonder if the administration had a handle on the cost of the moratorium? Wonder if the judge did and that's why he's placing a higher hurdle for the administration. Last week I got some unadvertised (to the public) of the cost of the moritorium. Much higher than my earlier estimate. This company is very well known for tracking accurate statistics in the oil patch. By their estimate a 6 month moratorium will cause a loss of $12 - 15 billion an cash flow and 46,000 jobs. Granted some companies will pick up some of that loss by heading overseas. But that won't help the folks in La losing their jobs. The BP blow out is terrible and may have been a matter of gross negligence. But it wasn't an intentional economic diaster for the region. Whether one agrees with the moratorium or not it is an intension development. A choice has been made. Given the price the people of La will have to pay it should justify a little more explanation IMHO. There seems to be a little disconnect with the American public between it's concern for the losses do to the ecological nightmare and the losses from the moritorium. Granted a oil soaked pelican will tug at people's heart more than welder and his family losing their home house. The true irony is that many extended families who are suffering from the oil spill were looking for financial aid from their kin working in the oil patch.

No doubt when you put it all put together it is a catastrophe for the affected folks. I would expect they looked at the economic impact of the moratorium. Maybe not closely enough. When you see only 34 DW rigs affected out of a couple thousand in the GOM, it looks minor from a distance.

I don't think a moratorium is per se over-reaction or extreme under the circumstances. It would be routine in most high-risk environments like airlines or nuclear power to shut all affected units if there was a catastrophic failure causing death and disaster. But this was not a hidden risk, it is a risk that was well known. We've always lived with it.

Although they made some effort to target the moratorium, it was not good enough. If they are smart, they will revisit this and hopefully they will come up with a set of benchmarks, if we do XYZ we can re-open. Implement the new regs, inspect all rigs and BOPs, require certification they can cut the pipe they are using, require better testing procedures and crew training on blowout recognition/prevention.

"Granted a oil soaked pelican will tug at people's heart more than welder and his family losing their home house. The true irony is that many extended families who are suffering from the oil spill were looking for financial aid from their kin working in the oil patch."

I think you're posing a false dilemma, Rockman. We do not have a binary choice: welders or pelicans, environment or economy. At least, not in this rather narrow case.

There are all sorts of ways in which we might take care of the needs of people affected by the moratorium and *still* take the time needed to be sure that this catastrophe is unlikely to be repeated. It's really a matter of priorities.

Do you really think we could afford to bail out Wall Street but can't afford to take care of the basic needs of citizens while we reorganize DW operations and oversight? I don't believe that.

You're on target with what you said about the judge's mindset. He doesn't tolerate fools. I've gone into his court with a stupid cause of action and gotten fried for it.

SInce when was the Oil Spill a NATIONAL Emergency requiring the Executive Branch to step in? People in the GOM are massively affected but people in North Dakota for example or Iowa are not affected at all. Causing others in the GOM to suffer and perhaps the entire country due to BP's screwup is another massive knee jerk over-reaction to the problem. The solution is to apply the rules ON THE BOOKS. If you want, stand down a rig for a few days for ROCKMAN, Inc and the USCG to inspect it but don't shut down perfectly safe wells.I

The logical path of this idea would be because cars pollute the air and that bad air harms animals we need to ban cars. Of course they are already trying to ban Salt, High fat toods and other things "not good for you" so these logical fallacies are taking hold. Whatever happened to free will and with that the personal responsibility.

You should be able to successfully challenge you own assertions, as they can be easily knocked down using a modicum of intellectual honesty. Before posting them would be good, too.

May I ask, do you expect consideration or respect for an Ad hominem attack?
You might look within yourself for "intellectual honesty" before posting.

I did not attack him. Clearly, I attacked his argument as easily overcome and based on intellectual dishonesty. WTF?

Since when was 9/11 a NATIONAL Emergency requiring the Executive Branch to step in? People in NYC, PA and Washington DC are massively affected, but people in North Dakota for example or Iowa are not affected at all.

Or here's a better one:

Since when was the Economic Crisis a NATIONAL Emergency requiring the Executive Branch to step in? Poor people are massively affected, but people who make a lot of money for example or Iowa are not affected at all.

Even if it's not a national emergency, it is within fed. jurisdiction and under the applicable spill law the president is required to take charge, even if only as over-seer.

However, i think it is fair to call this a national emergency. More to the point, it is the appropriate factual context for analyzing the judge's ruling. This is the last moment you would expect a federal judge to second guess the executive branch, when it is dealing with the largest environmental disaster in the country's history.

And while your arguments why the moratorium is wrong certainly make sense, that is not the inquiry the judge is supposed to make. His inquiry is limited to whether ther govt. has provided a rational reason, not whether it has provided the best reason or even a good reason. Under the law, the judge is supposed to approve even if he thinks it's a bad idea so long as a rational justification is provided, one that is not arbitrary, not masking an illegitimate purpose.

P.S. And the judge granted the injunction because the govt. failed to provide any justification on some points and contradictory info supporting one point (500 foot depth or 1000 foot depth), among other deficiencies.

It was not that he found the reasons offered to be insufficient, it was that nothing was offered, or factually contradictory info was offered, on key points, and the burden was therefore not met.

That they misrepresented expert testimony to try to make their case, certainly is a corruption of the process itself.

Is Salazar in any way related to the supposed clean up of the MMS/BOE? This should concern anyone who does business with that agency.

Other interesting factoids to me regarding the federal moratorium, include the $2Bn+ loan to Petrobras discussed last August. How many rigs are being snapped up by Brasilia by the moratorium? Probably not a legal case for a conflict of interest, but deliberately misrepresenting expert testimony is damaging to the credibility, and opens the door to speculation as to the motivations.

Some of the political motivations have already been made abundantly clear, by other politicians. I suspect some folks don't mind the means, as long as policy is being directed in a direction they approve of. I think that's unfortunate, as they'd be screamin' bloody murder if those means were employed to move in directions they disapproved of. I think that's why the process is important. It's called playing by the rules. I don't know if there's an unwritten rule about deliberately misrepresenting someone else's expert testimony or not, but if there is, it seems like Salazar broke it.

I've heard that George Soros has a finacial interest in getting more rigs to Brazil. Don't know if that's factual or just some right-wing nutcase rant aiming at the president. But there are ten's of billions at stake in this soap opera so the rich/powerful must be somewhere in the mix IMHO.

Rockman: "rich/powerful" Bloomberg and the WSJ and others report that BP has employed Goldman, Blackstone, Credit Suisse and a number of other top advisors. Probably right there you have a a full NFL team of billionaires, who frequently represent billionaires.

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc is working with financial advisers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Blackstone Group LP as potential costs pile up for the worst oil spill in U.S. history, according to two people briefed on the matter. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-14/bp-financial-advisers-said-t...

Piranhas everywhere....

To the extent that "free will" isn't illusory, it is limited. As it must be if we are to have a functioning society.

If we collectively agree that cars, or heroin, or deepwater drilling, or child molestation, or peanut butter, or anything else, is/are too harmful or generally undesirable, we may decide to ban, restrict or regulate any or all as we see fit.

Hopefully, we won't tread *too* hard on your heart's desires, but you can't always get what you want.

That's how societies work.

Just because the majority has often loved stomping on the exercise of free will, does not mean that free will itself is "illusory". You might think that you have done a really wonderful thing by keeping heroin, etc illegal. Until you realize that your "good deed" has also resulted in a massive increase in crime, imprisonment and ultimately in situations like you can see today in Mexico and Afghanistan. Those who prohibited alcohol might have saved a few lives (maybe) but they also gave rise to the first nationwide crime syndicates the nation had ever known (aka the mafia). Prohibition is long gone, but the big crime syndicates are still with us. Beware of those who just want to "help society" - especially when their mission involves keeping adults from "hurting themselves".

"Just because the majority has often loved stomping on the exercise of free will, does not mean that free will itself is 'illusory'."

That's correct. Free will is illusory, largely, not because it is limited by agreement, decision, coercion, etc. It is largely illusory simply because it does not really exist, or is so often constrained by circumstance that it is merely notional.

"You might think that you have done a really wonderful thing by..."

I'm not arguing the merits of any particular restriction, or prohibition, or requirement or provision. I'm merely pointing out that societies, by various mechanisms, *always* limit individual choices, even as they may expand them in some ways.

You can like it or not, but not liking it will only make you unnecessarily grumpy. If you live in society, you are subject to the limitations and restrictions it imposes, just as you may be a recipient of certain benefits.

As for your aversion to "keeping adults from 'hurting themselves,'" you should probably consider that many of the ways adults hurt themselves are costly and/or injurious to others and to society as a whole. When society (by whatever methods a particular society may choose) decides that the costs or risks are too high, restrictions may be imposed. Such decisions are subject to review and revision.

Again, you can't always get what you want.

You know what, I have almost NEVER been to the Gulf. But that makes no difference whatsoever - to me and millions of other Americans, who are transfixed with the horror going on hourly, daily, weekly, monthly - into a body of water that connects to the Gulf Stream and there to the Atlantic Ocean and thus to every other ocean. Huge percentages of the population are paying attention to this - something like 85% paying close attention. And most people are able to see the connections between oil on water and beaches and birds and undersea affecting anything that swims or lives there. Most people fill cars will gasoline and have uses for it. People care about other citizens, those who died, those who've lost livelihoods, those who depend on tourists, those whose own tourism might be affected now.

Yes, this IS a catastrophe for the entire nation. And to deny that a vast majority of Americans is aware of and concerned about this ongoing event as a series of crises unfortunately suggests (to me anyway) that you've not been speaking with your fellow Americans or even reading polls indicating their views and concerns here.

And your metaphor of a "logical path" (as you assert) is also unfortunately a very flawed one. A better example would be another terrible catastrophe. One which exposed lax protections, lack of redundancy, short-sighted decisions which placed lives and the environment at horrific risk.

Somehow your comment piques the reader's curiosity (as to your own motives) - for it seems you've marshaled "arguments" in view of predetermined conclusions. And those conclusions ring more like propaganda than a reasoned effort to lay out some thoughts for serious consideration.

As such, your comment appears to be more "noise" than "signal" IMVHO.

The last time I looked at a map showing political boundaries, South Dakota and the Gulf states were all in the same country. It should go without saying, but I will feed the trolls and point out the obvious fact that this is a crisis that is affecting - and will affect for a great deal of time - an entire region of the country. The Gulf region impacts the country because it is a major shipping hub, contains 40% of the wetlands, a majority of the fisheries and represents a large economic block that will surely drag the country down thanks to BP. Not to mention the fact that a NATIONAL emergency doesn't have to affect every country in the nation - it just means that the problem is serious and immediate enough that it deserves the attention and resources of the entire nation.

I think a case can be made that it is as much a national emergency as was the feared meltdown of the financial system. That emergency directly affected only a few people on Wall Street and perhaps in Connecticut. We all of a sudden started feeling those people's pain very acutely. But they have better PR than GoM folks.

But really, as a practical matter, there are several million of them. If they take it into their heads to migrate to somewhere else in USA, as did the 'Okies' and 'Arkies' of the dust bowl, there will be an obvious national emergency. This collection of injured individuals have much better autos than the earlier set. They can travel farther and faster.


Can you suggest why BP doesn't remove the flange (rather than cut the pipe) and put another flange (with a new pipe) in it's place? I'm sure there is a good reason, I just can't figure out what that reason is.


I was just about to ask this question myself. If the ROV removed the riser couldn't new one be reattached? Could the BOP be then opened and the drill string be fished out and the well killed and cemented? Obviously not but I was wondering why.

The reports are that they are going to do this for the new collection system. Search around in this and the last couple of threads and you should find the reference.


btv -- really can't offer an opinion. As I said before I lose interest when we get above the well head. But there have been a lot of clever folks on TOD watching so I'm sure someone will offer some insight.

There is a documented history of federal (lack of ) oversight resulting from the Bush deregulation era, in addition to a history of conflict of interest in connection with the MMS.

As for the urgency of the moratorium now.... how else do you proceed when you hear this from the CEO of one of the biggest oil companies out on the Gulf:

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) just asked Hayward if there are any other BP wells that were drilled with various controversial procedures.
Turns out most BP wells are drilled like this: "There are many wells that have the same casing design. Many have been drilled with the same cement procedure," Hayward says.

If Congress identifies negligent procedures in the Maconda well, then hundreds of BP (and other oil company?) wells could be in violation.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tony-hayward-there-are-many-wells-in-the-...

webargonaut wrote:

There is a documented history of federal (lack of ) oversight resulting from the Bush deregulation era, in addition to a history of conflict of interest in connection with the MMS.

Yes, that's the same claim that has been trotted out to "explain" the financial crises. However, it doesn't pass the basic smell test. If " Bush deregulation" is the cause of these problems, why hasn't Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress simply re-imposed the "deregulated" regulations and corrected the situation?

The fact is, the "Bush deregulation era" is a complete myth invented by the left to cover the fact that the financial crises was brought on by years of following liberal/leftist ideas regarding home ownership.

Absurd, but I do have bridge you can buy.

You have fallen for the lie that there's a substantive difference between the 'two' parties, and that one is good and the other is evil. They both do the same things when it's in their political interest. You seem to think there's a vast army of radical Leftists trying to destroy America, in reality there's only at most less than a handful of elected officials at the Federal level that can be honestly considered 'Leftists'.

You've been lied to, and apparently like it and want more more more. It's the same mentality that makes people worship one college football team and spit vitriol at their longtime rival. It's just silly and has nothing to do with reality.

So so true!

Stop being a Democrat. Stop being a Republican. Start being an American.

Dang comfy...your words inspire me to offer you half my Blue Bell stash...almost anyway.

Well said.

They did what? They tried to increase regulations during the Bush deregulation era? Who stopped them? So many questions.


My reaction to MichaelWSmith:

SPEAK roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes;
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.
— Lewis Carrol

Japan Air Lines (JAL) suffered a catastrophic 747 crash in the 'Eighties. It held an emergency board meeting shortly afterwards; chaos reigned. Each department sought to blame the other for the crash. The head of the board listened for a while, then said, "I am to blame. I accept all responsibility. Shortly, I will resign. So, let's stop seeking to assign blame, and instead find a solution to the problem."

Assigning blame is the most counterproductive thing you can do in an emergency. People stop thinking of solutions, and start thinking of defenses. Blaming induces paralysis.

There will be plenty of time afterwards, when more info is available, and heads have cooled, to find the causes and assign responsibility. Right now, concentrate on problems at hand. If you allow any part of a disaster response to be compromised by blaming-- even the excellent analysis on this site-- it becomes ineffective.

Perhaps it would be better for people to stop trying to blame Bush, or Obama, or Clinton, and let the people on this site discuss what's going on with the well, and what might be done about it.

long tme reader of a very interesting forum first time poster.

I have done this "due diligence" work for NASA for many years and it is just as set in it's ways and full of career civil servants aka bureaucrats as MMS. However after the Challenger disaster they really ramped up efforts to catch issues earlier rather than later and the results of audits/reviews and findings were no longer swept away as useless information that was just holding up progress. Due to this culture change NASA was also able to evaluate effectively the next disaster (Columbia) and quickly apply the lessons. There is NO REASON MMS cannot do the same, by hiring the right people to check into each rig drilling in the GOM.

Rockman,your ideas and model make perfect sense as NASA and the DoD have programs very much like that and have had for years. I suggest you put together a business plan, get some sponsors such as your Congressman and go sell the idea to MMS.I know companies who do the work for DoD and NASA are considering this opportunity but they don't have the industry knowledge your team would nor do they have the agility to get the business plan done quickly and if approved have people on the job the next day. If you are a minority, a veteran (the other positive would be female buit that won't work) or can spin up a company with someone like that with 51% ownership even better. Having the oil companies furnish the people or pay for them is a bad idea, way too easy to make them ineffective via corporate politics or funding cuts.

I must respectfully disagree.

The accident revealed some bloody things that were endangering the public that clearly needed fixing- BOPs that can't shear the pipe or be activated from a lifeboat, response plans that were pure bs, and practices that, as you have pointed out, were inadequate. The govt would have been negligent to have have ordered a shutdown. Not ordering one for shallow water and trying to fix things while people are still working is cutting it very fine (but the right thing to do imo). Obama is going to get creamed for taking the risk if there is a blowout in shallow water.


Having worked at a large corporation, it is one thing to have a disaster happen, and a swath of inspections to take a snapshot to see if "everything looks ok".

It is quite another thing to implement new processes, top down, and change a corporate culture, if required. That takes months, and, sometimes, years. Tony Hayward apparently tried it, after taking over from Lord Browne, and failed.

Get all shipshape for the inspection, then back to business-as-usual after they leave.

I've seen it happen.

spring -- Let me put it this way: sit me on a semi drilling in the DW in the GOM with the authority to shut down a $million/day operation with one phone call and I'll show you a corporate culture that will re-invent itself in hours...not years, months or even days. Trust me: I have a very good history of adjusting folk's attitude when I have the authority. There are more than a few careless hands that lost their jobs who will testify to that fact.

Certainly a few rolling heads pick up the pace ;)


I think you have a good idea what was done wrong by BP at 252. But there has not been a report from an official investigation that supports your analysis. From an regulatory point of view, if there is NOT a moratorium that amounts to finding BP guilty without a fair hearing. Perhaps a proper investigation would reveal that the current rules are, indeed, inadequate and in need of serious revision. The justification for the moratorium is that it MIGHT be the case that BP is not guilty.

IMHO, the oil patch has gotten itself into a bind here in regard to the idea of government regulation. By visibly engaging in attempts at regulatory capture they have made credible the idea that the regulators have made undiscovered errors in rule making.

It IS an article of faith for all involved that, done correctly, drilling can be done with acceptable risk. But we need a new study that reviews "correctly" and "acceptable" in this creed. Or is the argument that the only thing that is truly unacceptable in government is admitting a mistake? I don't think you will find many takers for that idea.

I think your suggestion that the uncertainty about a moratorium is causing companies to move their deep sea drill rigs to other parts of the world is very interesting. It may be that the Obama administration gets its desired moratorium without ever having to enforce it through legal action. This might be discovered by future historians to be a brilliant tactic, they regulate with a iron fist through the APPEARANCE of incompetence.

geek -- I agree to some degree with your points. But the bottom line: within two weeks after the explosion the MMS could have had all the available data analyzed by experienced engineers. They could have had every BP person involved with the well sworn under oath. Those BP folks could answer the questions or taken the fifth. Even with the little bit of second hand data we've gotten at TOD there is some idea of what went wrong. If we had all the data and had it analyzed by a group of engineers we would probably be 95% certain what went wrong and, more importantly, how not to let it happen again.

A very simple question: why does it appear the gov't is spending a greater effort to shut down drilling then finding out how the accident came about in the first place. IT'S BEEN TWO MONTHS! What have we heard from the gov't about the cause of the accident? They want to shut down drilling for 6 months to make sure the rigs don't have the same problem. How can they ascertain that if they don't know what caused the accident in the first place?

Sorry for the rant. Just got carried away the more I thought about the lack of action to determine what went wrong while at the same time the gov't is saying "We ain't gone to do that no more" when they haven't determined yet what "that" was. I know folks at TOD have done a great job learning about drilling practices but it can still be confusing at times. Granted I can't be certain of all the "facts" floating around. But I've seen the mistakes BP apparently made done by other operators. Certainly not with the same scale of results but the same careless mistakes. With certain variations every blow out has happened for similar reasons. It really isn't difficult to fill in the blanks if you have all the data at hand.

Because the drillers not following rules is only part of the problem. A major part is the original plans were inadequate: for example BP's used a less safe liner design, and this was approved by MMS. An inspector on the rig cannot do anything about this.

It also sounds like BOPs have to be redesigned. For new ones to be designed and manufactured would probably take a couple years.

If it's OK past I'll pick your words apart a little. I can't qualify the BP csg design. I'll let the engineers argue that. The csg design might have made the well more unstable after the blow out. But the csg design didn't cause the blow out IMHO. The cause of the blow out seems clear: they removed the drilling mud which was providing the pressure to keep the formation from flowing before the cmt was sufficient to hold the flow back. BP could have had the most expensive csg design every run into a hole. But we would still have a sunk rig, 11 dead hands and an ecological nightmare in the GOM. I'll also offer that they could have run the worse csg design ever put together and had the cmt been tested to the proper pressure level the well would not have blown out as it did. It might have failed in another way, of course

RetiredL: WWWOT: Thanks. The need to modernize was so great it went very smoothly. However, we were nuked right in the middle by MN Rep. Party v. White.

[Apologies to all for wasting thread.]

Wow! I just took a look at the ROV feeds and I see that the top cap is gone. Oil is gushing out the cut riser full force. Does anyone know what is going on?

I was watching when it was pulled off at pretty good speed. I am assuming they are going to be putting on a replacement, but not sure.

Didn't look intentional.

The tighter fitting cap wasn't supposed to be deployed until next week at the earliest; any idea as to why?

I think something unplanned must have happened. The ROV's are doing a lot of inspecting right now.

The view from the Skandi ROV 2 shows what looks like a further damaged riser...possibly like part of it has been broken off.

What's Skandi 1 doing? Is that the same old tophat or a different one?

Tophat monitoring about 80 -100 feet above the well riser.

Top of the BOP looks like a rocket engine firing off.

It's shocking to see this at full force. Gives me the creeps.

Still unsure of why there are two flows with two different colors?

I think that is simply an artifact of the two different flow rates as the flow is being restricted to different degrees, there.

I am worried about this. Does anyone have a link to the video of the cap coming off? Has there been any update as to why the cap is off? Thank you.

I was watching before the cap came off and it seemed like it was rocking back and forth more than normal. I missed the actual point when it came off, but it could be due to rough seas.

Also don't forget that the Q4000 is still connected and should be processing on the choke line so we are not seeing the full force out of the top of the BOP.


They should name the ROV "Inspector Clouseau"

I suspect it had something to do with the amount of tilting the LMRP had been experiencing. It looks like they also had one of the fins attached to the dispersement fluid rig (fin at left side of picture).


Time between the two pictures that were superimposed was about 4 minutes.

just something that I've been noticing and wondering if anyone knowledgeable can weigh in:

Two weeks ago the ROV's were examining the oil spill cap and I noticed that the depth was 4932', and the altitude of the ROV was 59.7'

Looking at the current video from the ROV the depth is indicated at 4928', and the altitude from seabed(?) is 13.7'

Can anyone explain if there has been some sort of rise in the sea floor, the total depth at that site has changed from 4991' to 4941' today.

Unless the readings were from the same ROV, I'd take it with a grain of salt. Each ROV seems to have its own definition of altitude, and some show meters, others feet.

These are both the Skandi Neptune ROV's that I was comparing. Youtube video of the altitude/depth June 6th:

What I have understood from reading TOD is that the ROVs use sonar for the altimeter. If equipment or another ROV is below them that would give a shallower reading. They are interested in the closest thing that they could prang.


Thanks for that

They were knocking big clods off the top of the cap, which floated away. Then peered up inside the cap, it looked clogged up?

aethervox getting Database Error on the Live Feed Oil Gusher GOM thread over at


thanks for all your work posting there

You are welcome.

I'm also getting a database error, even on the main page. Hope they get it fixed soon!

If you just want ROV video feeds, you can use my little feedwall: http://www.mlittle.com/bp/ Nothin' fancy, just a vanilla page of the 12 videos.


Btw there have been occasional complaints on TOD that some of the feed walls crash PCs. Now the pages are very simple and there's nothing malicious on any page I've seen. However then a friend told me his machine crashed at http://mxl.fi/bpfeeds2/ about 30 minutes after he brought up the page.

I popped over and installed a temperature monitor on his PC and visited the page then watched the temp creep up towards the danger zone before I shut it down. After I advised him to clean it out (he's a smoker) and install an extra case fan it now runs fine and the temp stays down.

These multiple feeds can really max out multi-core chips far more than most anything else. If the chips heat output exceeds your cooling capacity then the chips will slowly cook over a few minutes or tens of minutes. So if anyone is experiencing crashes on these pages then check your cooling. A good monitoring tool for Windows is Speedfan http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php Watch out for s slowly increasing core temp when running multiple feeds that never levels off.

Per Allen at his briefing (now finished at CNN.COM)

The cap was removed because there was an indication that hydrocarbons might somehow be migrating up the hot-water down line, a dangerous situation.

Before the cap can be replaced, they need to:
- be assured the hot water line is clear
- clear any hydrates that might be forming under the cap while it is off (from residual hydrocarbons coming in contact with water)
- check that all the vents at the top of the cap are positioned correctly. It seems that the second ROV sent to look at the cap may have bumped one off kilter. (One of the reporters kept on asking how could that have happened - he obviously hasn't watched much ROV video.)

This is getting around; no idea if it's true or not (source was Breitbart):

BP oil containment stopped after gas detected: coordinator
Jun 23 12:17 PM US/Eastern

The containment system capturing oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill had to be removed Wednesday, leaving the gusher unchecked after a collision involving a robotic submarine, US officials said.

There was a collision, but that was not what triggered the removal - it was a concern that there were bubbles of hydrocarbons going up the hot-water line. Allen didn't specify oil or gas.

He said he learned of the removal shortly before coming into the briefing and had spoken to BP about it, but did not yet have an exact time line.

Also during the briefing, Allen mentioned that:
- 2 people involved with the general operation have died - the captain of one of the vessels of opportunity and a worker in some kind of swimming pool accident. He did not have details.
- some component of the first floating riser is being tested today and they plan to attach a production vessel to it next Tuesday.
- Allen has been in communication with Dudley, the BP guy now in charge of the BP response

And an OSHA guy gave an update on what they are doing re worker safety.

Is it just me, or does the "concern that there were bubbles of hydrocarbons going up the hot-water line" not sound convincing....

- Why can't they just pump water down faster?
- What's the actual danger of this eventuality that's so worrisome?

And the response was to remove the cap - which isn't easy to replace, and which results in the meantime in a gusher (and a gusher of bad publicity.....) Seems like one drastic response to a seemingly minor / unlikely-sounding operational issue.

Maybe I just don't have the insider facts available to me, however, I often get a queasy feeling that Allen is a spinmeister, rather than a spokesperson....

....anyone else get that impression?

Regards Chris

What's the actual danger of this eventuality that's so worrisome?

Gas going up the wrong way and catching fire.. remember the DE is actively flaring gas, so there are flames nearby.

It smells like mendacity to me, also. I'd guess the hot water pump quit or got turned off and no one noticed. Either that or hardball is harder than we have surmised. Nothing surprises me any more.

Is the green stuff coming off the top hat on Enterprise 1 the hydrates?

It's probably the methane dyed green so they can see it. Or maybe the hot water.

From the previous thread was the story of the Lake Peigneur accident where the well went into a salt mine and caused a vortex that grew and grew taking in barges, surrounding land and trees etc.

You can watch it on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8rg5I1Ceto

why is it necessary to breach the wild well at all ?


the uncontrolled flow is most likely outside the 7" casing, either up past the 9 7/8" liner shoe or down past the 7" casing shoe.

if the relief well can get close enough to perforate, won't the rw be exposed to the uncontrolled flow ?

rockman ?

Could happen elwood. Sometimes RW's blow up and more hands die. That's why they get bonus pay. Hopefully they'll get to spend it.

i am willing to wager that they have a working bop on this one.


count - "Had BP developed a hurry-up method for evaluating well tests? Was it in use April 20? Had the method been validated to accurately predict failures? My inquiring mind wants to know".

Perhaps BP or others have developed some software to analyze these tests. Haven't heard of any but this isn't my area. Don't be alarmed but this is how I seen every pressure test analyzed over the last 35 years: someone looks at the chart of pressure vs. time, scratches their butt a couple of time and then says either the test looks good or it doesn't look good. And as I've said before it's not always black and white. There's thepicture in the text book and then there's what you see on the rig. Essentially you're trusting the experience level of that person as well as any pressure on him to interpret the test one way or the other.

Count and ROCKMAN, you guys are in luck because what you have here is someone that knows about BOP testing.

This new BOP testing method was being used on the Horizon from what I know. This method of testing does make the process go faster than it once did but it's not a "hurry up" exactly. The information on this system on the other thread seems fairly accurate.

The current archaic system used a "pressure chart recorder" that is not digital information and it's been in use by many years. This "chart recorder" can be and has often been manipulated by the person performing the testing. The system BP came up with had much less chance of "boiler housing" or cheating.

See BP's problem along with other companies in deep water was that BOP testing was a much longer process, due to the compressibility of mud in the riser and the BOP. It was also a problem because many more people were involved in the decision making process on defining a good test so they would hold a five minute test for an hour or evn more until everyine agreed it was OK. In the past on lower profile shallow water rigs the cementer from a service company would perform the test and upon completion of the testing he would bring the chart to the company representive(the KING), he and maybe the OIM would make a decision if all of the test were proper. If a testing process went too long the Company man would ask the cementer to "help him out" and the chart recorder would get adjusted so to speak! Cementers that didn't play ball or didn't make "pretty charts" would get "run off" or fired from the rig. Cementers that cheated and never found leaks were "good hands". It was an unwritten rule and if they wanted to keep their job they played ball and this unwritten rule gave the company man plausible deniabilty.

The BOP testing process on deepwater rigs went much longer than on shallow water rigs due to mud compression, lack of cheating on the test due to extra oversight and because no one on the rig wanted to make a decision of what a good test was, so they let the chart on a five minute test run for an hour unitl everyone was on the same page. With all of those reasons in mind, BP's new testing method was actually a much better process that took human nature out of the equation.

BOP testing on ultra deepwater rigs working for most major oil companies can go 24 to 48 hours with BP's new system it was around 12 hours from what I've been told.

I would bet that the rate of cheating on BOP test on shallow water OCS, inland water rigs and work over operations such as snubbing, is around 70 percent. In deep water it was around 10 percent.

Great info wildman. But I thought count was asking about FIT/LOT. But very inetresting to hear about the new BOP test procedures.

Thanks, Rockman. There was actually a whistle blower that came out trying to connect this BP incident to cheating on BOP test or "chart spinning" that took place in Alaska. He was totally wrong. The reason he was wrong is because the major oil companies in deepwater watch everything on BOP test now and because BP has this new system. I think the $h!t would hit the fan if MMS was on every rig in the gulf. Yes it would be a pain in my @$$ too, but it would be funny to see some guys sweat. I know guys that would have to just retire!

I'm sorry for any run-on sentences, but all this stuff is connected and it's very dynamic.

Wildbourgman.... do you know of any weblink, press or blog, to this particular whistleblower? Thanks.

No I just read it and moved on. I think it may have been at Huffington.

The program or system that "count" had posted about in a earlier thread was a new system that validated or failed BOP test. FIT and LOT test isn't a problem using the old ways of doing things and FIT's or LOT's had nothing to do with this particular Blowout problem, where BOP inspections and testing was a part.

Wild, I agree that FIT/LOT are not in the picture here. I was interested in the positive pressure test and negative pressure tests used to validate well integrity on the afternoon of April 20. Contrary to Harrell, the negative pressure tests are questioned.

I was asking about the positive pressure tests and negative pressure tests used to validate the cement job. A positive pressure test is much like a Formation Integrity Test, as I understand things, but used for a different purpose?

The negative pressure tests seem to be the ones that have generated the most concern/consternation.

Ok I have to hurry on this one because I have red beans and rice cooking and I have to go soon.

The negative test FAILED and these guys didn't stop the job. Negative test are not required, they should be and they will be but they are not.

So BP went above the call of duty and ran a negative test, had they not done a negative test nothing would have been made of it, but they did. So if you volutarily run a test (any test) and it fails you can't turn back after yu have that knowledge you must investigate further, or FIX it.

When you bleed off a negative test you get very little fluid back at 5000 ft or so maybe 2 or 3 barrels and that's pushing it. They returned back 15 or 20 that's crazy.

Look at a picture of the Halliburton cementer that testified about this testing incident, how old do you think he is? Does anyone think he could have changed the BP co-reps Harrell's mind once it was made up. These guys need on-site oversight and that's the answer. The need ROCKMAN INC!

Wild and Rock - a noob question if I can be so bold.

The rig DH was owned and operated by Transocean, leased out to BP. If I read into that correctly, all of the auxilliary equipment on the rig was provided by TO, and BP would have little to say in the types of units provided. Just like you contract for an addition to your house, and your contractor brings in a framing crew. You notice one of them is using a ball-peen hammer and pry-bar instead of a claw-hammer, yet getting the job done.

I see the BOP/LMRP/FlexJoint as a 'tool' of the rig, not directly under BP's control; is that correct?

I think if Salazar and his crew wants to implement some type of regulation for off-shore drilling, then mandating two Blind Shear BOPs on all over 300 feet depth would be appropriate. The single BS BOPs can still be used on land and shallow - diver-accessible - wells.

Thanks both for sharing your knowledge, and the rest of the gang hereabouts.

Ok the oilfield is very different than other industries. Most of the time a contractor(transocean) has a standard package on the drilling rig that the operator(BP) would contract all of it to go to work. Now BP being a Major has more power to ask for other equipment or other considerations in the contract. It's all about negotiations and who has the upper hand. Example if a BP company rep finds a contractor employee using a ball-peen hammer and he wants the employee to use a cotton swab instead, that employee is going locate some cotton swabs, right now!

So yes BP can make demands about the type and amount of equipment they want. The operator in the offshore and especially the deepwater realm is GOD. God gets what he wants for the most part, that's why you still have drillers that's affraid to shut in wells without calling for permission first.

When the oilfield is very busy though or when the operator is very small, contractors do have more control.

The BOP is for transocean but BP is the responsible party.

As to the addition of another blind shear ram if that ram takes the place of another ram that's currently in the BOP stack, then it's no problem. If they want to keep the other rams and add another Blind/shear ram too, then that could mean major stuctural changes for deepwater rigs. Right now many of them can't easily handle a larger BOP stack when it's on board the rig with our major rebirbishment.

Shallow water rigs can handle another blind shear ram with less problems.

Thanks, Wild.

Seems like there's enough blame to share around all the players, and seems Obama and his crew aren't doing much to improve the final outcome. The oil patch gets royally screwed now, and the rest of us will get screwed later, one way or another.

God keep you all safe and sound!

"boiler housing"

havent heard that term in a long time ! it was a place and time when "good old boy" was a complement.

Wild, do you know if BP's new BOP test procedure ever was validated to see if it accurately predicted failures? The patent application does not say so.

I know that MMS agreed to let BP use this form of testing. I don't know how well it predicted failures. I do know that it's better than years of cheating that took place before in shallow water, inland water and on land when (they got around to testing). I have talked to Company reps on land rigs that called a third party to test the BOP's, they showed up with the pressure charts already completed with out any testing and wanted to get his field ticket signed. That was the way things were and still are in many places.

As for as your later question about testing the cement job. Positive pressure testing the production casing tells you if your casing, casing seals and your shoe tract are holding. It does not tell you how well your cement job is, because you should be isolated from that cement job. On a production casing string the only test you have to tell you about your cement job is the Cement bond log. A negative test can tell you if the well will flow on the annulus through the cement and the casing seals, but if the well doesn't flow that does not mean your cement job is trouble free and providing zonal isolation.

wildman, thanks for the excellent description of what the different tests test.

Can you elaborate this point:

A negative test can tell you if the well will flow on the annulus through the cement and the casing seals, but if the well doesn't flow that does not mean your cement job is trouble free and providing zonal isolation.

Why not, or how not?

BP deferred to i believe the tool pusher's desire to do the negative pressure test. It was not part of the BP plan. The TP said it was his "policy" to always do it. BP was going to do the CBL but canceled. of course, you already know that.

I posted in prior thread a recent video of Q4000 etc.

http://www.youtube.com/v/6OVqITQQe7Q (go to minute 1:40)

also live tracking map of the various vessels including Helix http://bit.ly/aADNxI

Looks like to me it is leaking in two places on the BOP.

This would be a good time to check the pressure wouldn't it?


This is somewhat off-topic, but here is a video about the Indonesian mud vulcano, still spewing and going into its' 5th (!) year. Gas drilling gone wrong.

I highly recommend viewing this, because it puts our trouble in a different perspective. In the US & UK we have two cultures in play, but both are relatively liberal and just. The Indonesians are way more screwed than we are. At the end of the day, I bet "We will make this right" will prove out.

Just curious to know why there seem to be two distinct plumes of differing colours in the Skandi 2 ROV video?

It appears part of that top pipe has broken off.


No, it's been that way since before they put the LRMP in place. It's one of the reasons the LRMP didn't fit very well.

That is what is left of the riser after the craw cut it off.

Oops, meant to reply to your 10:14 comment.

one from the anulus in the back and one from the drill pipe infront, they have different velocities and gas content

Invest 93-L update


The strength of this system when it reaches the northwest Caribbean on Saturday will be very important to its eventual track in the Gulf of Mexico. If Invest 93-L is a tropical wave, tropical depression or a low-end tropical storm when it reaches the Yucatan Peninsula, it will likely track west-northwest and head towards the Texas coast. However, if this system is stronger, let’s say a upper end tropical storm or even a hurricane when it reaches the northwest Caribbean on Saturday, a track to the north towards the northern Gulf of coast would come into play.

We've set up a tracking page for any GOMEX storms that might impact to oil/gas production wells at:

If you click "all track map", you get a map showing some representative track models (including official, if available). For example:

For each track scenario we are generating wind and wave overlays. Here is the current GFDL model:

The dynamic models are pretty interesting at the moment - most are showing at least a cat 1 storm crossing the OCS, which would be "good" in a cleanup sense, bad in a production/capping sense.

As time permits will add in some production impact estimates or, if you want more detail [begin advert], subscribe to Bloomberg's "BMAP" system (we provide them with a detailed feed) [end advert].

Compare the flow from the bop just after the riser was cut ( june 9 ) http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/raw-video-hd-video-of-gulf-spill...

and now...


Seems like a lot more coming out now...

The notch in the pipe is a legacy of the failed attempt to cut the pipe with the diamond saw. After the pipe was cut by the shears, a piece of the pipe folded down along the previous diamond saw cut and had to be cut away by the ROVs before the LMRP cap could be fitted. This left the pipe with a gap and may have been the cause of the LMRP cap's rocking motion.

Don't forget there is c.10,000 barrels being diverted through the Q4000.

Would like to know what the issue is though.

It looks about the same, which would equate to more since I presume that the Q4000 is still collecting and burning. It is not a direct comparison since the 10,000 BOPD the Q4000 is collecting and burning is drawn upstream of the restriction the BOP provides. That means if they pull 10,000 BOPD through the choke line, they don't necessarily reduce the flow out the top by 10,000 BOPD. Also, they are injecting dispersant now, and they weren't in the earlier film.

It is really flowing now. I checked a few hours ago, and it has really increased.

I guess that there wasn't enough sand to clean the "crystals".
I do not see any sandblasting effects on the crumpled piece of riser.

Gobbet on June 22, 2010 - 2:15pm
1,500 bpd-- current rate of skimming.*
*Assuming 12% oil in the collected oil-water mix (per Allen's estimate).

Old Fisherman -
"1,500 bpd-- current rate of skimming.*" Wow. 60,000 gallons. Help me out here Roger. I was under the (clear) impression that SIX of your North Sea skimmer ships, each with the capacity to recover 100,000's gpd, were now (finally) working on site. Plus a number of US vessels retro fitted with your skimming booms, each with presumably a pretty high capacity as well.

What's going on, Roger? Is the Gobbet's report wrong? Are your skimmers not working? Have you been ahhh... "enthusiastic" in your reports of the effectiveness of your skimming equipment?

60,000g recovered is pretty slim pickings for the amount of skimming power we were counting on, relative to your postings here.

wrb on June 23, 2010 - 8:52am
Over 600 skimmers are working according to the Unified Command.

Less than 100 gal/day per skimmer?

If they are that ineffectual it perhaps offers some justification on the reliance on dispersants and the failure to bring in every skimmer that has been offered from distant places, both of which I questioned.

Judderbar on June 23, 2010 - 8:06am
look at the oil coming from the riser. and think about how that oil moves thru one mile of water to reach the surface.

Then think about a fire and where the smoke appears one mile above the fire. Then wonder if 6 north sea skimmers can find all the oil.

Then consider why 600 boats, and booms etc might be necessary.

I don't want to be a pita but something is NOT RIGHT here. It seemed to me skimming should be the single most effective method of protecting the beaches and marshes. Have (some) skimmers go along the edges of booms where the oil concentration is the highest.

I'm with wrb - 600 skimmers and only 100 gpd average. My grandma could do 100gpd with her old Electrolux.

Roger tells us his ships are capable of 100,000's gpd recovery. He sounds credible. Now we all understand that's probably under ideal conditions, but geez ... even so ... 100 gpd? When we understand over 1,000,000 gpd are escaping and not being recovered/burned?

Can all the escaping oil be that much diluted with dispersants there is (almost) nothing to collect? That it is distributed in the water column?

Allen reported 2 more workers have been killed in the Gulf.

Yes, the BBC have just reported 2 deaths among clean up workers in the GOM. Unconfirmed reports say one onshore, one offshore. Can't find any confirmation anywhere else (apart from Quantum's comment above). Very sad if true.

One was a captain of one of the vessels of opportunity, and the other died at a swimming pool, per Allen at his just concluded press briefings.

He did not have any additional details - he was told just before the start of the briefing. He said they are following up to learn more about the two deaths.

One guy got SHOT. That would suck. Here I am cleaning oil and I get capped.

TOF--I missed your post because I was writing this one:

The "current ops" on the DWH response page is reporting the skimmer fleet in the range of 420-440 vessels. Obviously many of these are very dinky. However some of the cleanup contractors' vessels claim a skimming capacity of 10-15,000 bpd. Apparently these ratings are nearly meaningless. A number of vessels are skimming near the spill site where the oil is thickest. Among these is Seacor Washington which carries the Dutch Koseq arms.

Can we stick to the unit of bpd instead of gallons?

Old Fisherman,

There are not 6 North Sea skimmer ships working in the Gulf.

The CG accepted 6 sweeping arms trough http://www.tandtmarine.com/.
The 6 arms are being deployed on vessels of opportunity with oil storage capacity. So that computes to 3 US skimming ships.

The skimming capacity of the sweeping arms are clear:
One ship with two skimmers can collect up to 250.000 liters of oil out of the water per hour. That is net oil, so without the water. Their water cut is aprox. 30% in this system.

So, 3 ships with these skimmers, each collecting 250.000 liter of oil per hour, is 750.000 liters times 24 equals 18.000.000 liters per day.
That is approx. 113.000 barrels of oil per day.

Of course is the actual collection rate proportional to the thickness of the oil layer on the water. Some have point out that it will not collect much on areas with oil-sheen only. True, but what other technique would? Yes, 6 arms deployed on 3 ships is of course nearly not enough for the entire spill. What you need is a strategy with all available techniques:

A complete strategy could be as follow:

1) Start building sand-dikes in front of specific areas you want to protect, such as marshes. It will take time, but this will give a superb defense.
2) Do not use dispersant at the well. Let the oil float to the surface.
3) Use planes to detect the oil that has surfaced. Focus on the coastlines.
4) Direct small oil tankers equipped with skimmers to the oil. Of course you need more as the spill grows.
5) As a last line of defense, use aerial dispersant nearer to the coast if you are to late to skim it up.
6) Use the small boats who are pulling booms, or with small skimmers, in the estuaries and canals when you are to late to stop it before it enters.
7) Manually suck up oil with specialized vacuums or Costner's devices.
8) In less sensitive areas (beaches) you can either scoop up the oil, or even use soil-washing. There is also an interesting technique being offered by the Swiss: http://www.physorg.com/news195831212.html this could be used on the beaches.
9) In sensitive areas, such as marches, preventing oil from coming in is paramount. Because you cannot clean marshes without destroying them. If the oil does come in, one should let nature bio degrade it. Experience shows that will take between 10 and 15 years.

This all will of course not magically save the Gulf. But it will minimize the impact on the sensitive areas.

It is a fact that a lot of oil is being dispersed in the water column: http://gulfblog.uga.edu/. Also measured oxygen depletion points in this direction. Although nobody knows how much oil is staying under the surface.

So either the ships are being deployed on the wrong areas (mainly oil sheen), or
most of the oil has not surfaced (yet).

Wetter this is caused by the huge usage of dispersant at the well (should BP stop this?), or it is because of the nature of the oil/gas mixture being released on great depths is unknown right now.

Fact is that skimming is the best way to clean up the oil. If you look at the amount of International help including skimmers that has been offered, the CG should accept all skimming devices immediately. Currently they are almost all still under consideration! http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.state.gov/documents/organiz...

Roger from the Netherlands.

deleted, duplicate

Good post. I hope you cc:'d BOE/MMS. Maybe after they get done replacing all the blotters, business cards, stationery etc. someone might notice this and take heed.


I hope so too that they take heed!
As Gobbet points out below, it seems that the possible skimming response of the contractors was hugely overstated. So the only option BP had from the start was using dispersant.
Now the situation should alter greatly, that is when enough skimming capacity is being brought into the Gulf. The main question remains: should BP stop the dispersant at the well at that point?

Roger from the Netherlands.

I would think so but I'm no expert. If enough oil were being skimmed, what would be the point?

Old Fisherman,

Ah, but hark!

clippity clop, clippity clop...It's Kevin Costner riding to the rescue.

"In other news, there are unconfirmed reports that Tony Hayward thinks McChrystal should stick around for a while, at least until BP's relief well has been finished."


Skimming rate-- the unnoticed scandal

I posted this a couple of threads ago and it received a couple of comments.

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).

The Old Fisherman asked about the Dutch skimmers. When I first raised this issue two or three days ago, I qualified it by saying that we don't know whether the Koseq skimming arms have changed the fleet efficiency significantly. Various journalists and bloggers wrote about "Obama" or the EPA being to blame for the delay in accepting the Koseq arms, but no one has bothered to find out who actually declined the offer--it could as well have been BP or their contractors. Also no one has bothered to find out how much oil the Seacor Washington and the other Koseq-armed ship have been able to collect per day. Why hasn't a journalist inquired? Many, including myself, had thought these skimmers could make a huge difference. Have they or not?

Whatever that volume is, it is lumped into the reported "gallons of an oil-water mix" on the government's response page. According to a comment by Allen at a briefing about a week ago, "We usually get a 10-15% return on that" (quoted from memory, I'll try to find it"). But if one ship is collecting 500 bpd of actual oil, that would raise the fleet's collection rate by 1/3.

In early June, the fleet of 400+ skimmers was collecting on average 500K gallons of oil-water mix per day, which amounted to around 1,500 bpd of actual oil. In early May, a much smaller fleet was collecting 1,000 bpd of oil. That fleet I suppose represented mostly the efforts of BP's cleanup contractors.

The press has almost completely ignored the role of contractors. The way the system is supposed to work is this. Each oil company pays retainer fees to large cleanup contractors, allowing them to stockpile resources in areas where oil might be spilled. Then when a company spills, they expect the contractors to do the cleanup on what I suppose is a cost-plus basis. Neither the oil companies nor the government have substantial resources for cleanup. It is the contractors who are supposed to have these capabilities.

In its permit application, BP claimed that its contractors had a skimming capability of 400,000 bpd, or approximately 10 times the volume of the DWH spill. But these contractors actually delivered--in early May, before the stormy weather of mid to late May--only around 1,000 bpd, That's right, 1/400th of the claimed capacity.

This should have been the big story of the cleanup failure. The contractors claimed to have, but did not actually have, the capacity to control a big spill by skimming. Here is about the only competent article on the issue:


So the cleanup effort was doomed from the start. There was no chance of keeping the oil away from the shore. I don't know when that dawned on BP and the feds. Tony Hayward may have been sincere in his early claim that the damage would be minimal. What, me worry? Our guys can skim 400,000 barrels a day!

I've been wondering if there hasn't been fraud committed by the contractors. It seems their business is creating paper capability which becomes incorporated in a paper response plan that is simply a lie built on lies.

Well put, wrb. I wonder who all knew that the capture estimates were wildly unrealistic.

Just watched the press conference with Adm. Allen. He said that they noticed a 'burp' in the line, of either natural gas or
hydrocarbons coming up through the line meant to carry heated water down. They elected to remove the cap as a safety measure. Before they decide to replace it they have to check for hydrates; if they are found, they'll have to clean it and possibly reseat the pipe, then recap it.

He said an ROV bumped into one of the vents on the cap cutting off that venting too.

U.S. Department of the Interior
Office of Emergency Management

Enterprise Temporarily Halts Production


As of 12:00 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Enterprise has temporarily stopped recovering oil and gas, and has moved off location because of a problem with the riser pipe connected to the Top Hat. Oil and gas were detected in the space between the riser and the drill pipe, where it was not expected.

During the National Response Team teleconference today, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that one of the remotely operated vehicles may have bumped into one of the vent valves contributing to the problem. Currently the system is being checked and the Enterprise will move back on location as soon as the problem is resolved.

Currently there is an uncontained flow of oil and gas from the damaged wellhead, however, the Q-4000 continues to collect some of the oil and gas flow through the choke line.

Can't believe it took this long to motivate myself to become a memeber...

and from Suspension of LMRP Containment Cap Operations

NEW ORLEANS -- This morning at approximately 8:45 a.m. CDT, a discharge of liquids was observed from a diverter valve on the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise,which is on station at the MC252 well-site. As a precautionary measure,the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap system, attached to the Discover Enterprise, has been moved off the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer to ensure the safety of operations and allow the unexpected release of liquids to be analyzed.

Capture of oil and gas through the LMRP cap is therefore temporarily suspended until such time that the cap can be re-installed. Capture of oil and gas through the BOP's choke line to the Q4000 vessel on the surface continues.

Mobile Press-Register:

U.S. Coast Guard Commander Chuck Diorio, a spokesman for the joint information center at the Mobile command post, said a boat captain who was working in the oil spill response died from a gunshot wound this morning.

"I'm very sorry to announce the death this morning of a captain in the vessel of opportunity program at Fort Morgan, Alabama," said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Chuch Diorio. "Our hearts go out to his family and the Gulf Coast community. There are many facts that need to be determined surrounding this."

Diorio said the Gulf Shores Police Department was conducting an investigation.


Here you can see them pumping what looks like anti-freeze through the containment cap.


Picture of the pumping green stuff.


BP is using both methanol and hot water for control of methane hydrate formation in the LMRP. They have colored the fluids with a green color to aid in visual recognition. They are not using anti-freeze (glycol).

It sounds like suicide, but we cannot be sure. I keep screaming for mental health help. I think half the posters here would vouch for me anyways. This is so jacked up. Little things like concerts mean alot when you are sitting on your ass getting BP checks. RIP Capitan. Why do we not address morale during crises anymore? I want the four-star Jamaican knight.


I propose using a Genuinely Interesting nametag for issues on which people want more information/discussion. Anyone could post something as GI: and, later, a search for GI: & theoildrum would quickly pull them up. So here’s one:

GI: I’d like to see more info/insight about the innovative ocean-grade steel-boom barriers across inlets and river mouths intended to protect coastal estuaries. This is genuinely interesting because oil is relatively easily removed from barrier beaches, but not from bays and marshes. So improving methods of keeping oil out of bays and learning from each attempt are very important.

This came to my attention thanks to the terrific post & photo by TinFoilHatGuy at

There were good newspaper accounts on the decision–making and plans, including:
This last article mentions booms placed across the Appalachee and Blakeley Rivers but gives no details.

Now there’s news of a boom-and-barge operation under way at the mouth of Choctawhatchee Bay (but no details):

Questions: Are there important news updates on these or others like them? Is anyone monitoring/reporting on effectiveness of the barriers in stopping the oil slick? On efficacy of skimming at the boom? On how boat passage is being handled? On how the installations stand up to rough weather? Other problems or lessons?


The report concludes that decreased oil droplet size in deep waters is consistent with chemically-dispersed oil. The report also shows that dissolved oxygen levels remained above immediate levels of concern, although there is a need to monitor dissolved oxygen levels over time.
The report also confirms the existence of a previously discovered cloud of diffuse oil at depths of 3,300 to 4,600 feet near the wellhead. Preliminary findings indicate that total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentrations at these depths are in concentrations of about 1-2 parts per million (ppm). Between that depth and the surface mix layer, which is defined as 450 feet below the surface, concentrations fell to levels that were not readily discernable from background levels. The tests detection limit is about 0.8 ppm. Analysis also shows that this cloud is most concentrated near the source of the leak and decreases with distance from the wellhead. Beyond six miles from the wellhead, concentrations of this cloud drop to levels that are not detectable.
Dispersant has been used as part of the overall strategy to prevent more oil from impacting the Gulf Coast’s fragile wetlands, marshes and beaches by breaking up the oil and speeding its natural degradation offshore.

The link you posted is to a summary page, which includes links to several reports. To which one are you referring, please?

Good idea about GI: and good thread idea too. Here's an early example of super-boom via local action, but I don't think there has been significant oil in Mobile Bay yet (nor any estuary east of the Mississippi).

The NOAA map is showing a strong line of boom across the mouth of Lake Borgne near NOLA, which I'd guess is ocean-quality boom.

The Perdido Pass hardened boom could be tested in the next day or two. Stuff like this is needed and could be effective all along the Alabama and Panhandle coasts, which are mostly beach. The Florida coast turns marshy somewhere below Port St. Joe in the armpit, down to just above Clearwater. Is the MS coast mostly beach?

Dauphin Island was hard hit, code red and yellow on the "oil impact assessment map." Now it is dark blue. They cleaned it up. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach were a mess (red), now they are coded yellow, which means a usable beach with some tar balls. These areas will be hit again and cleaned up again with little or no environmental damage.

Alas for Louisiana, which has no shoreline.

Gob: very helpful, thank you.

You know I have taken pictures of that pass not far from here.


If you want more let me know. Just note, climbing the bridge gives my acrophobia hell.

We received a request for expert assistance.

We are working on two solutions which are designed to close off the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Prototypes are being built.

There are a number of experts on our team, but we are missing a real expert who is familiar with the actual local situation at the MC252 oil well and who knows the blowout-preventor (BOP) in place.

Would it be possible to ask the members of your excellent discussion forum, whether they know an expert with the above-mentioned skills?

Please help us find the right expert. We are willing to pay for the expert support rendered.

If you have the right qualifications, or know someone who does, please contract Christian Heusch at c dot heusch at gmx dot net.

I'm no expert, and I don't know anyone who is, but I've had an idea for a couple days that I'd like to propose.

Obviously stopping the well from the top has proved to be difficult, if not impossible. But why aren't they attacking the problem from the bottom? I'm certainly not an oil expert, but I do have a mechanical engineering degree (although I'm in the building energy sector).

It seems that if we could jam an umbrella like contraption down the well, open it up, and settle it over the bottom of the pipe it would significantly decrease the flow (if not stop it completely, although I can't imagine how that would work). Obviously the technical difficulty would be delivering it all the way to the bottom of the well, and I really have no idea whether or not that's feasible, so I'd be interested in hearing from people who know this stuff well.

I've written about it more here (personal blog, but no ads and I'm not looking for subscribers). Even if it can't work, maybe it will give someone else an idea that would.


If it was possible to thread something into the well, which it isn't, they would have done it with coiled tubing to the bottom and pumped heavy mud to the bottom to kill the well just as the are going to kill it with the relief well. This is not the first blowout in history and the people on the job are well aware what methods will work to kill the well and gadgets crammed down the well bore are not one of them.

If you got your umbrella to the bottom and opened it, it would most likely become the projectile of a 13,000 ft cannon.

It seems that the ability to jam something down the shaft would depend greatly on the pressure drop due to the tip and friction drag generated by oil traveling up the shaft. To pump mud in, you'd need a fairly large tube with a blunt end because a narrow tube significantly increases the head required to pump a fluid. A large cross section would generate significant drag on the pipe, probably compromising its ability to be sent down the well.

However, something like what I'm proposing isn't likely to need a very large cross section. That compounds because the reduced cross section has reduced friction drag, making it less likely to buckle.

I'm not saying it's a sure thing to work, but I think you're comparing apples to oranges.

To pump mud in, you'd need a fairly large tube with a blunt end because a narrow tube significantly increases the head required to pump a fluid

I have seen wells killed with 1 inch tubing that required heavier mud than this one. The other problem is if, as they suspect the flow is coming up the annulus, once you got to the bottom you would be doing nothing to stop the flow and your cannon would be a dud.

Fair enough - a few questions for you:

Wouldn't heavier mud allow for lower flow rates (thus a smaller required ID) because a smaller column would develop an equivalent head pressure? Why isn't that used on a well like this? Based on some calculations I had done, with the current mud they'll need roughly 9000ft of mud to "plug" the well. Why not use heavier stuff one way or the other? Cost?

Couldn't the diameter of the "expanded umbrella" be larger than the OD of the annulus, which would seal itself due to the pressure differential in the well and the resevoir? It's my understanding that the annulus diameter would still be less than a foot across, so this could still be fairly simple to accomplish. Does the production tubing usually extend below the casing?

The annulus I speak of is outside of the 7 inch casing which goes to the bottom of the hole. And there is a plug in the end. Unless you have invented some magic umbrella you can't get it to open more than the id of the casing.

It is obvious that you have not studied the construction of the well before developing your plan.

I think we're not on the same page. Are you referring to the area on the outside of the well casing where it is normally cemented to the bedrock? If that's where the oil is leaking through 1) How and why is it re-entering the casing so it can flow out through the BOP? 2) How is the relief well supposed to help? The volume of rock that's deteriorated could be significant, which would mean a significantly higher pressure would need to be applied to the mud, and it's certainly no where near fool proof.

If it's happening how I'm envisioning it (flowing up the casing, but not the production pipe), what would it require to unplug the end of the production pipe?

I will try to explain as briefly as possible. The BOP is attached to larger diameter casing without a proper seal between it and the production casing. prduction casing is a tapered string of 9 7/8 and 7 inch. bad cement job over production zone, therefor oil and gas is going up the annulus of producton casing and into the BOP and out the top.

There are some other complicatIons due to collapsed casing.

Yes, I understand all of this. I'm not sure how it makes my solution impossible. The ideal end game would be the umbrella seals over the end of the casing, not the production pipe.

The volume of rock that's deteriorated could be significant, which would mean a significantly higher pressure would need to be applied to the mud, and it's certainly no where near fool proof.

Not true, the reservoir pressure remains the same and might even decrease due to depletion.

I don't know what mud weight you used to calculate you 9000 ft figure but I suspect that there is heavier than any practical mud weight. They have 13,000 ft of hole to work with plus the head of 5,000 ft of seawater, about 2,300 psi.

I used 2000 kg/m^3, which I thought was rather conservative. You can see my calculation here:


First off you are going to have to talk in lbs/gal and ft. if you are going to get anywhere talking to oilfield types. I don't think that even the lofty engineering types have converted to the metric system. Just ruffly looking at you figures you are talking 17 ppg mud. It would be better to use lighter mud and utilize the entire 13,000 IMHO, but others might have a better handle on that. Like I said I am not an engineer, just a lowly mud tech (they called them mud engineers, but I was always uneasy with that title), who by the way when I was working in the field got the blame for anything that went wrong, related to the mud or not.

Yeah, I only use metric because it can be really messy multiplying English units, particularly when using pressures. I don't know the standard conversion factors, so I just calculated it. It looks like about 14 lbs/gal would use the entire 13,000ft well. The only reason I didn't is because I wasn't sure that the integrity of the well would hold at the top, so I wanted to give myself some extra breathing room.

Since you are an engineer may I direct you to the following web page that covers the problems of wild well control. It should make good reading for an engineer type. John Wright happens to be in charge of the relief wells being drilled.


I am just a mostly self taught drilling and mud man that has learned though 70 seventy years starting as a pup going to the rig with my dad and grandfather who were drilling contractors.

Various rams in the BOP are either closed or partially closed, there's no clear path to the bottom of the hole, where any device of any sort would have a positive effect. Trying to plug it off in the area above the rams would run the risk of overpressuring the well casing. This is why they gave up on any form of 'top kill'. As stated in the reply above, if there were a clear path past the BOP rams they would have used it to pump mud and killed the well. Your umbrella plan and all the other novel plans amount to different variations on top kill, which they are afraid will only make things much much worse.

What I am proposing does NOT amount to the same thing as the top kill. In fact, it is more of a bottom kill than the relief wells. As I understand it, the broken riser has since been removed from the top of the BOP in an attempt to relief pressure from the well casing. Yes, the increased pressure could damage the walls of the casing as the umbrella and shaft are pushed down the well.

However, realistically I have two counter points (which are more thought experiment than based on true knowledge of the workings of the well).

First, once the umbrella and shaft get below the damaged portion of the casing, any further distance they travel down the well would actually relieve the pressure on the casing because they add to the pressure drop. So if the damage is at 1000 feet sub-seafloor, the static pressure on the casing could be lessoned (compared to its current experience) if the umbrella reaches 4000 ft (just made up a number for sake of discussion).

Second, once in place, the umbrella would sit inside the oil reservoir, and the pressure differential between the well and the resevoir would hold it in place. Imagine going up a chimney with an umbrella closed, opening it at the top and hanging from the handle. Now flip that upside down and instead of your weight holding the umbrella in place, the reservoir pressure does. This means the pressure inside the well is significantly reduced, which could make any damage sustained worthwhile. It's a cost-benefit analysis that someone with more expertise would need to run through.

To address your last point, there may not be much clearance to push the device through, but I doubt it. Oil is not a very compressible fluid, so there needs to be a fairly large cross section all the way down to allow this much oil to flow out.

Lots of words, still failing to acknowledge there is no path to the bottom through the BOP rams. All your suggestions are based on logical fallacies, things the competent technical experts here have explained and shot down in great detail many times. You either haven't read any of the previous material, or if you did you didn't pay close enough attention to it.

Bravo. Watch their politics, as well as their expertise. Those whose political views compel them to undermine the elected Commander in Chief should be charged with treason.

Those whose political views compel them to undermine the elected Commander in Chief should be charged with treason.

We don't elect a Commander in Chief, we elect a president, and he (or she) works for us.

The only people for whom the president is Commander in Chief are the military, and they work for him (and us).

There's no us in us anymore. People think they are paying taxes for different reasons. I thought my tax dollars went to preventing something like this from ever happening.

Because I'm in a pessimistic mood today, a couple of "ifs." If a hurricane forms and moves on a projected course for the blow out site and if the vessels have to leave the area before the cap can be put back on, how many days would the blow out leak at full force? I know any estimate would be very tentative and vague so maybe no one wants to touch my question. "Murphy was an optimist." — Sod's Law.

Are we thinking too much in the present? Life is never going to be the same. I am not a religious person, in fact, always felt that it was stupid. However, what is happening now is of biblical proporations. Every creature in the ocean is going to die. This is unavoidable. The millions of tons of dispersants are toxic and will get into the atmosphere and form acid rain. If a tsunami occurs and the sea floor lifts, I believe it could be the end for everyone. The earthquake in Chile changed time - something of this magnitude could even knock us off our axis. This is just my stupid opinion. I also wonder with all the drilling of oil out of the center of the earth - what has this done to our rotation? All very scarey stuff. Please please tell me I am stupid and all wrong.

Reply to myself: Whew! Cap on. Sod sleeping. Delete my comment.

Haven't seen this posted; if it has, apologies...


Image was taken last Saturday. Too bad the media doesn't pick up on things like this...it really brings home the magnitude of the problem.

whew, that's ugly. thanks for sharin'.

General comments on the entire thread:
Glad they noticed the gas/water line problem. As much as it pains me to hear of increased flow at the wellhead, I'm glad they are keeping workers' safety a priority.

Lots of bad news, as usual, I guess. Time for an inappropriate, insensitive remark to take my mind off it.

So, here goes:

Don't dismiss the possibility of flaming alligators:


It could be just a regular joe oilman, but I don't see buckets of blue bell.


This article has an interesting video on BOP’s. After reading it and lots of other stuff, I have to wonder if it would not be better to have something more mechanically fail-safe as a last resort ram activation.

That's actually a pretty good design. Yours or from where?

Mine. I'm a piping/mechanical designer with plenty of time to dream while I'm sitting here on my unemployed @ss. I did the conceptual model in Autocad.

Interesting concept. It looks like it scales out that each arm is about 20 feet long.

Based on about a 2,000,000 lb force operating on a 12 inch stroke that would seem to indicate the weights would have to be at least 50 to 75 tons each depending a lot on the shape of the cam. Pretty massive beams to handle that weight on a dynamic acting cantilever, probably should be capable to holding up 200 tons cantilevered in a static configuration - but feasible.

Thanks Shelburn. I just roughed this together. The baskets are showing 8 one-yard concrete blocks, around 31,000 pounds total, but that could be changed and the length of the arm varied as well. The blocks or the whole basket could be removed to relieve the weight once the cams lock in.

After reading about BOP's, it seems like there are inescapable risks in hydraulics. There is a reason they still use the Otis Elevator brake.

Don't forget that your weights (probably steel) will be buoyed up by the weight of the water they displaced so a steel weight has to be about 15% greater in air - ie - 50 tons in water is about 58 tons in air. Much larger ratio for concrete, maybe 85 tons for 50 tons.

Since we'll soon have a lot of obsolete 450 ton first gen BOPs laying around, we'll have a lot of weight we can put in those baskets...

Yeah, what subsea said. Elegant.


A big box of rocks at the end of an I beam. Even Texans should be able to understand that. After some explaining of course.

Trusses would probably be better than structural members, and gearing the arms together so they activate in tandem. Other than that, just pulling pins and gravity.

It's clever, although I don't know how it would work out in practice. I was just using the opportunity to bust on Texans. ;-)

Interesting idea. Was thinking of what would trip it, and thought of an overspeed governor. Think of an axial "fan" in the flow. It would have a couple of weighted arms attached to a latch. The weighted arms would be lifted by centrifugal force and would be lifted above a certain height and mechanically trip the latch if the oil flow exceeded a certain limit. Very simple concept used widely in elevator safety mechanisms, no need for outside intervention. As txpiper points out, *mechanical* fail safe is the point - simplest and most reliable option.

This would be for future consideration. At the moment, I'm watching events with something approaching horror.

'twas a dumb - really dumb question. :-(

Wednesday 1:20 PM Central time and I'm watching what are supposed to be simultaneous live feeds mirrored over at Graphoilogy, but I don't believe it, not for a second. One feed shows "Dispersant ops" with clouds of white milky liquid being released just below the open riser tube. This liquid is surrounding the riser tube as it is drawn into the rising stream of crude & gas escaping the pipe. The other feed is from another side of the riser - I'm figuring roughly opposite the first. They both show the same time & date in the on screen data, but there is NO evidence of the milky white dispersant in the second feed. There's so much of it in the first feed there would be no way to miss it in the second view -indeed it would be back-lit by the lamps on the ROV- but it's not there. This "live" video is B.S.

I've been wondering about that too. I'm not prone to heavy conspiratorial breathing but it does seem odd. Explanation, anyone?

You'll have to take my word for it, but as they stopped putting dispersant into the geyser, the second bot pivoted around the well and then headed off. There was a delay of about 5-7 seconds between the two feeds, because I then saw the other bot.

But I was seeing dispersant on both feeds in the first place, anyway. I think they are out of sync, but I'm not sure that it's entirely fabrication, because that well looks realllllly bad.

I'm not saying you didn't see what you said you saw, but I sat here and watched those feeds for several minutes, the dispersant was never visible to me in the second feed, and I repeat that it should have been, there was so much of it. It was not there.

The explanation is simple; one or the other, or both of the feeds, are not live, and the the data overlays are bogus. Whatever the case, you cant trust anything on the screen.

The other explanation is that each ROV has two feeds, a main and a backup. Right now the Skandi ROV1 (Herc 14) backup feed is out of sync with the main feed (while the timestamp on backup feed read 13:37; main feed read 14:30, even if I refresh the web page). I wound up making individual pages for each feed so that if one got stalled, I wouldn't have to wait for all of the feeds to come back when I refreshed the web page.

The cameras are all adjusted different and the ROVs use different color temperature lights. The same scene viewed from different cameras almost always looks vastly different. Sometimes even different color temp lights on the same ROV. Some examples:

I don't know if different companies use certain color bulbs in specific locations on the ROV for a specific purpose, or if they just stick in whatever bulb is available. Anyone who has messed with high pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs will know what a difference color temperature can have on the thing you're looking at.

disclaimer (why do I even have to do this? sheesh): I don't have any 'inside information' or 'contacts' or know anything about ROV ops/drilling/offshore stuff other than what I've figured out since this disaster started.

I guess the question is now whether the uptake of oil by the LMRP will be back to the levels it started with, and whether they will have to go through the process of closing valves all over again.

My guess is that they will need to do that. And since they stuck that thing on there on 6/3, that means we have twenty days to get back where we were before.

Time is ticking.

Could someone comment on what is currently going on in the cam feed?

It looks like it is smoking with all this milky white stuff flowing around.

I saw this too, before they changed the cam view. Couldn't tell if it was coming from the ROVs or from down below.

Well, they stopped doing it, but I assumed it was dispersant.

Has anyone heard a reliable report of oil rain in Lousiana? Found several videos and non MSM reports for today. Checked River Ridge weather, rain is in forecast.

If indeed that alleged oleaginous rain is a verifiable report, don't worry about the booms, fellas. That horse done run and the dog's gone huntin'. Just relax and have some Bluebell with the Rockman.

The only websites that I found that are pushing this story are pretty wild and woolly and are the worst offenders at spreading fear based on bad science and lies.

Sorry, it's time for another one of my crazy questions.

Is what this guy says correct? I saw this posted at "1:39 PM" on http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/spill_cam/. He has some earlier comments too.

"This well is completely out of control and is getting worse. We have been reviewing the telemetry and I must report that the velocity exiting the well is approaching 15ft/sec. this velocity along with the abrasive sludge will erode the casing. If this velocity isn’t reduced to under 2ft/sec, the casing will fail. this translates into over 45 cuft/sec. If 40% of this is gas and 60% is oil, then the flow rate of oil is 415,000 barrels/day or 17,000,000 gals/day. This is out of control."

I tracked the poster down, http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2010/06/survey_finds_postoil_spil...

He appears to have a commercial interest that could be coloring his opinion. Here's what I found:

I am a Chemical Engineer with over 30 years experience and hold over 23 international and domestic patents and patents pending. Our team has developed a program to cap the well "bottom kill" in 7 days at a cost of $35MM. This can be implemented immediately.

The well is not be capped for political reasons, not technical reasons.

Sam Shepherd,
B.S. Chemical Engineer; M.S. Engineering Technology.
Diplomat American Board of Forensic Examiners

The well is not be capped for political reasons, not technical reasons

Sorry, I will call it BS.. If you truly has this invention. BP is lining up your door already.. Didn't Kevin Costner pitch an oil separator and BP bought 32 units? So if your invention is so good why do you need to pitch it here.. Your statement is showing your ignorance of the economic of the spill.. For each bbl that BP spil, they are going to see at least $4300 of penalty. And on top of it, they have to pay damange, loss wage, business loss. BP is raising 50B to pay for this spill (so it is their worst case cash need), 35MM is peanut if you can solve thier problem.. Your ego is talking and not your invention.

He's right that the well is out of control (of course, there have been periods of partial capture of the flow and we'll probably return to that situation fairly soon).

Everything else is either wild speculation (casing will fail) or utter nonsense (400K bbls/day).

Please tell your friends not to buy into this stuff.

Well Doc I don't think anyone can say the situation isn't out of control. The csg may be damamged for any number of reason but I don't think much of the straight intervals have eroded much. That's going to happen mostly where's there a bend in the line. But whether it's doing 50,000 bopd or 400,000 bopd it's certainly out of control. No argument there.

Does anyone know what this is?


Was watching the live BP oil feed, and around when the robot was there--an hour ago?--this crazy white flow begin coming up from underneath.

Looks like dispersant.

NASA says new images from its Jason-2 oceanography satellite shows the tropical Pacific has switched from El Nino warm conditions to La Nina cool conditions.


I hope they have some sort of a plan here other than just letting Oilzilla run free while they study the problem.

Get your Oilzilla glassware here:

Rats! They're on back order 'till 7/19.

Question about alternatives to the bottom kill

Since we are drilling into the old well, would this divide the flow and pressure and reduce the rate of flow out of each well? Essentially the same well has multiple outlets? If so, could the top kill be tried down the multiple tubes at the same time, or perhaps send cement down the failed well and allow the flow to entirely go out the second (or second and third) well heads? Could a valve or cap be put on the old BOP to close it off as the second wells come online.

Secondly, if the casing is ruptured further down below the sea floor, would it become feasible to collapse the first borehole once the second well head is set up to collect? This would send all of the oil up through the unrestricted new wellheads so long as there were vessels above to collect material. Not meaning nukes, but just an explosive or thermite dropped a few hundred or thousand feet down that could fill in that area once the flow had been reduced up the failed borehole.

This seems like you would not need to drill to the base of the well, but could connect a new well head (or multiple wellheads) much closer to the surface and use theold bore for most of the oil's path.

Anyone know what this yellow blob is sitting below the cracked pipe in this picture?


You can see it good in this live vid.


I think it is just a place where the some of the black scum got scraped off the white painted riser pipe stub.

Or maybe Oilzilla has been drooling.

That just looks like part of the riser that has had the collected oil residue rubbed off it by an ROV's arm sometime since the cap was removed.

QuantumUS, please take a few minutes and figure out the difference between 'Reply' and 'Start new thread'. If your comment isn't a reply to a specific comment, use 'Start new thread'.

Thanks comfychair.

I have been on a lot of sites and have never seen this setup and have no idea where to look to find out the right way to use reply, reply in new window start new thread.

Can you explain please?

Well using this thread as an example, here:


Your comment doesn't seem related to or in response to Thane's comment; should have been a new thread. If you'd wanted to ask about something in Thane's comment, or answer one of the questions he posed, then 'reply' would have put your comment under his.

Each post (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6645) has comments; a 'new thread' is a new question/comment, replies to a thread go below the original comment, 'cause they're somehow related. Each 'new thread' (also called 'parent subthread') is nested all the way to the left margin, each reply is offset to the right (see the vertical lines descending from the original comment?), if there's more than one reply to a comment they're listed chronologically, top-down.

As to reply vs reply in new window, it's just personal preference. Sometimes after posting a comment, hitting the 'back' button reloads the main page from scratch and wipes out all the nifty [new]* markers (HATE THAT btw), reply in new window lets you keep your place in the main comment page.

* sorry for those doing ctrl+f

I am no expert, but I'd imagine MOST of the oil will continue to flow up the old wellbore, as it is the path of least resistance.The Relief well is designed to 'plug' the well not to be a conduit for surface recovery.I am not sure you could 'collapse' the old wellbore, without fracturing the rock surrounding it leading to an uncontrolled release from the sea floor.The way I understand it, even being damaged the BOP is a HUGE 'flow restrictor' doing anything that could lead to flows 'outside the BOP is a bad idea as is anything that damages the casing.

I just noticed that The Oil Drum got mentioned and linked-to from Jeneen Interlandi's Newsweek article The Oil Spill's Worst-Case Scenario?:

It's possible that hydrocarbons are leaking out the bottom or sides of the well. If so, they might erode surrounding sediments and undermine the foundation upon which the 450-ton blowout preventer sits. If such leaks aren’t sealed off in time, the entire structure could topple over. “After that, it goes into the realm of ‘the worst things you can think of,’” writes a commenter on the oil- and energy-focused website The Oil Drum. It was this commenter's post that has become the subject of wider speculation. “The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well that could literally come flying out … at the very least we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more.”

Oh gooooooodddddd!!! Now we're all 'commentators'....Wonder what happens if they pick up the post up-thread about the end of the world?

Where's a good emoticon when you need one.....

Concrete containment of old Blow Out Preventer (BOP) with foundations "floating" on sea floor mud.

Resubmitted to address questions and discussion on the prior thread, includes floating foundation to deal with soft sea floor mud.

Note: This is a sturdy solution, it completely seals out any water and is not something prone to injury by a bump from a ROV. Additionally it has backup piping to allow alternative risers to the surface in the event one is damaged (or to sea floor tanks)

============= 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.

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.

BP 1-281-366-5511

============ Floating Foundation =================================
Floating foundation on the sea floor to deal with the soft mud:

The sea floor mud is too soft to support any foundation.
The solution is to make a foundation that "floats" on the mud.

Take or make 3 smallish barges, add balast tanks, sea bed anchor rods, connection points and heavy weights so that the barges barely float on water.

Lower the barges to close to the BOP base.
Add air to the balast tanks so that the barges have neutral boyancy, neither floating nor sinking, so that ROV's can push them into position.

Push the barges into position, release the air in the balast tanks so that they partly sink into the mud.
Arrange the barges at 120 degrees apart facing the bottom of the well head.
Operate the rams to push the anchor rods vertically into the mud to fix the position of the barges.

Next connect a bottom positioning steel ring around the well head pipe (to hold the bottom of the vertical tube) to the barges with expanding screws jacks such that the small adjustments to correctly align the ring can be made by the ROV's. This ring can also have a clamping system to firmly grip the vertical tube when installed.

Next lower the steel tube to be filled with concrete over the BOP and inside the bottom positioning ring. On the side of this steel tube further up the tube are 3 connection points, 120 degrees apart with sufficient strength to support the weight of the tube and all the concrete to be added as well as the weight of extra valves to be added to the top of this tube.

The 3 connection points on the side of the tube connect to each of the barges via powered expansion screw (screw threaded jacks). At the barge end there would be 3 connection points. All connection points on the barges have load sensors for measuring the forces at each point. The barges could also have sensors to detect any movement or sinking of the barges as the sea floor may not be flat.

With the tube lowered over the BOP and connected to the barges, pour a small layer (guessing 6 ft) of carbon or glass fiber reinforced concrete into the bottom of the tube to form a plug. The inside of the tube has concrete reinforcing steel around the inner edge to give this concrete a grip on the tube.
When this concrete sets, the remainder of the concrete can be poured.

As the concrete is poured, the weight is transferred to the barges which then settle further into the mud.
To compensate, the large connection screws holding the tube up from the 3 barges are activated progressively to continue to hold the full weight of the tube and concrete. Ideally some of this could be automated (with manual override), but at least computer monitored.

This foundation will float on the mud until the barges rust out.

Reference links



All variations of 'top kill'. Please re-read older threads that explain the potential risks of top kill and why those plans were abandoned.

TX A&M research vessel crew just got back in. Sounds like high concentrations of methane are being found in the area around the wellhead - and up to 5 miles out.


John Kessler of Texas A&M University in College Station, one of the scientists on the research expedition, said last week that methane in deep-ocean waters (below 1,000 feet) near the oil spill are 10,000 to 100,000 times higher than normal. At times, the team measured methane levels that were 1 million times above normal......[They} discovered that the methane, which makes up 40 percent of the substances coming from the well, is staying in the deep waters and not escaping into the atmosphere.....At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters.

TT -
Bum link

TT: The article states that the percentage of methane is astonishingly high at 40%. Can anyone tell me what would be the expected percentage? And what 40% may mean? Kessler refuses to speculate what the 40% may mean. Maybe, we'll just have to await his analysis. Please keep us posted on what he says. Thanks TT.

He said that O2 concentrations have fallen 30% in some areas. Not a problem yet, but he was concerned about what it would be like in a couple more months. I guess because of microbes eating it.

Based on activity, it looks like BP is readying the LMRP for redeployment on top of the BOP.

NPR just said it might not be ready until Thursday.

You believe NPR?

Looks like cap is being placed now. Allen and BP had said this afternoon if all was well.

well, BP is trying very hard to get the cap back op the BOP right now

Just been watching the live video of the gas/oil mix streaming forth from the open crown of the BOP, now that the cap has been temporarily removed. That's quite a show, and we've got to hope, for the sake of the Gulf, it doesn't last too long.

But hey, while the cap is removed, let us note that BP has a perfect opportunity here to measure the flow rate directly, by inserting instruments directly into the gas/oil stream. Yes, we have a brief opportunity here for direct in situ measurement of the escaping gas/oil flow.

I feel sure there are BP engineers who would like to take those measurements, just as I'm absolutely certain BP management would be even more interested in *not* taking such measurements. So, who's going to win here? Ordinarily, it would be management, hands down -- the guys who sign the paychecks. But these aren't ordinary times.

Maybe this an occasion where a scientist of the stature of Dr. Chu**, Secretary of Energy, could step in and say "take the measurements". Yes, let us go forth and gather the data, in the interests of science, and for general public knowledge.

**Nobel Prize winner

The "best" measurement will be zero, after the RW works.

The second-best will be the captured oil measurement, when all of the oil is being captured, if it ever is.

Obviously nature didn't intend for you to be an engineer or scientist. I hope you enjoy your life in management or spectating.

I wonder what the flow rate is too. But even with some sort of flow instrument inserted here, it would still be an estimate. They can and probably have gotten a similar measurement with visual information.

Oh yes, I am enjoying life.

Headline in local paper:
Coroner: Charter captain working oil spill killed himself; former co-worker 'surprised something like this hasn't already happened'


Governor Riley we need physical and mental health support NOW. RIP Capt. Kruse.

Folks I've been watching soccer all day - well done Ghana, USA, Germany and England.

So I log on here to see the cap is off and then log on to Skandi ROV1 and 2 and see that they seem to be dead, lying on the seabed amongst debris with their cameras on?

Anyone know wtf is going on?



OK. I'm told that Enterprise ROV1 is monitoring BOP - but it looks like both Skandis are dead.

Chatting to myself - time to go to bed soon.

Looking at the video feed from Enterprise ROV2 you can see an extreme high velocity stream coming out of the BOP. And they are trying to get the cap close - every time they get close it seems the velocity of the flow pushes it away and the cloud of oil obscures their vision - looks like they have a long day (and night ahead of them).

Good luck!


Now they got another ROV trying to push the cap over the BOP.

The pipe stub on the top of that BOP looks awfully worn to me - almost not there - anyone else think that?

It looks the same to me except for being dirtier.

it looks like both Skandis are dead

I looked at Skandi ROV1 a few minutes ago, and it was on the surface, aboard its vessel, drips on its faceplate and a guy moving around in the background. Just looked again now and it's color bars.

Well I just looked at Skandi ROV1 again and it says 4959.3 ft (16:45) and it looks mangled on sea floor with bubbles passing? Don't know how to get screen shot.

Euan, Skandi ROV1 is currently descending, this supports Swift's comment.


OK - all I can say is that i know what I'm looking at here in aberdeen - so we must be looking at different feeds - worrying in itself - though the Skandi ROV 2 feed has changed and it has come back to life - maybe they were resting?. Maybe buffering problems - I don't know.

Looking at that pipe stub on top of BOP - it still looks eroded to me compared to when I Iast saw it - 10 days ago? Anyone got stills?

And there seems to be two distinct flows emerging from the BOP?

Past midnight here in Aberdeen i gotta go to bed. I watched them try to get the cap on three times now, a few major problems. I'm guessing flow rate has increased significantly from when the cap was first installed - that in itself is quite worrying - and it looks like they are having 2 sorts of problems getting it back on. First the flow velocity seems to be deflecting the cap (don't know what this looked like first time around) and second, when they get close, the cloud of oil obscures vision.

Good luck guys.

Oilzilla is very angry and does not want the lid put back on!

Ok... it is back on again. Lets hope it stays on.

It looked impossible to me - but they did it! :-))

Now all England have to do is beat Germany and Argentina, meet USA in the final.

Still shit loads of oil spilling though:-((

And if I'm not mistaken its off again?

Trying to understand what happened that the "top Hat" needed to be removed. Sounded like they had gas/oil entering a hot water line fed to the stack from Enterprise that made it back up to the ship against the flow of hot water. A possible cause being that when an ROV bumped an open vent on the cap it caused it to close, increasing the pressure under the cap, enough to force oil/gas back up the hot water feed line.

the cap is all most back on the BOP: http://sanaracreations.fi/rov-feeds/index.html

Actually the capping vessel is the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) not the so called "Top Hat". The Top Hat is the siphon device that attaches to the top of the LMRP that delivers fluids and gas to the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise. The ROVs rarely show the "Top Hat" although earlier today they seemed to be doing an inspection of the TH after removal of the LMRP. Lots of confusion surrounding these names in the press.

I'm sorry if I've missed it, but has there been serious discussion about a supposed "methane volcano"?

Don't know where that came from, but an informed discussion of that would be interesting. ...A methane volcano that was being held down by gravity and all the oceans of the Earth, until someone said "Drill, baby drill" and stuck a pin in it?

And the experts cannot even predict volcanic eruptions ABOVE ground, if indeed, volcano is the right term.

Was wondering the same thing myself. I ran across links to a couple of the 'methane volcano' stories here:


But both stories seem to have originated from the same questionable source.


This could knock Rockman's socks off! It's an old link, and needs follow-up investigation, and frankly, I am not too interested anymore. I can't watch this. Time to make a plan.

What is wrong with the idea of unbolting the flange and bolting an LMRP that has about a dozen chimney pipes instead of the one? I've heard the tech isn't there for bolting and unbolting, but that is hard to buy into since the BOP's are installed and removed.

You have thought about Rockman, Inc. a lot more than I. At, least, I hope you have. But here goes. I further hope I don't get splattered with Blue Bell. One tactic might be to take your plan to an oil co. that has the most through, careful in house safety protocols in the business. They might like it for two reasons: 1) It won't cost them much time or effort to come into compliance; and Drum Roll! 2) It might cause some real headaches and costs to their competitors. They get to look good and stick to the competition. It's a twofer. They probably have a couple of persuadable congressional staffers (it's always the staffers) who could carry the idea forward. How about Rep. Joe Barton who made such a mess for himself? For the once and future Chairman of the House Energy Committee... Redemption.

What do they have 'one eyed' ROV operators?, their Depth perception is HORRIBLE.Watching them try to grab that handle was painful to watch.

What depth perception? They are working from a flat screen computer monitor.

Have they replaced the old cap - or put on the new improved version? Cant see the ROV feeds - they keep crashing.

Can anyone see?


Same old cap, minus most of its paint.

This site has thumbnails of all the feeds - you can right-click a thumbnail and select Zoom > Full Screen: http://www.jtnog.org/

Right now they're still trying to get the cap on.

I don't have a '3D' display myself.

For those interested in figuring out what the relief wells are doing, here is a photo from a couple weeks ago showing the locations of the RW rigs:

I used Google Earth to help determine distances from the RWs to the blowout well along with the coordinates from DigitalGlobe (where the photo was sourced):


and this derived from the BP well plan (assuming well B):

Using the PDF diagram from BP linked here:


one can come up with some constraints on the angles involved (an exercise left to the reader).

Happy trigonometry.

Speaking of relief wells, shouldn't the Development Driller 2 and 3 have ROV feeds? The Helix? Can you tell that I don't get enough underwater action?

Gosh of things were not bad enough now it appears that thunderstorms are picking up oil from the gulf and raining it down inland in LA: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/black-gold-heavens-oil-rain-louisiana

Grain of Louisiana salt with that is warranted. We'll find out soon enough without having to slog through yet more gone-viral videos that are crap. It's been raining in Houston and a bit inland in Louisiana today. I haven't seen any reports from legitimate outlets reporting this.

From Reuters:

Oil sludge washes in Florida, dolphin stranded:
"It's just a line of black all the way down the beach as far as you can see in both directions. It's ruined," said Steve Anderson, a Pensacola fisherman. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2312758220100623

LMRP cap back on riser stub at 18:30 CDT.

Minus the rubber ring that had been on the lower edge before. Perhaps easier to fit and less chance to jump up and down when gas bubbles out.