BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Response to DougR's Concerns - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6659.

This is a guest post from Oil Drum commenter shelburn, who is a retired manager for an offshore underwater service company. Shelburn also wrote a previous guest post related to the oil spill. - Gail

In this post, I would like to respond to a long comment made by DougR a few days ago, that has received a lot of publicity.

First, I will say that in one area we are in complete agreement. BP and the USCG have been less than forthcoming, and in doing so have hurt both themselves and the general public as all kinds of wild rumors and technical misinformation abound. Some of this misinformation results in harm to individuals and businesses as people suffer increased stress and tourists cancel vacations.

In this information vacuum it is easy to make wrong assumptions that lead to mistaken conclusions. It can be made worse if you have some degree of technical knowledge and verbiage and use that to make a case for a scenario that doesn’t pass muster with actual engineering analysis but sounds highly authoritative to many people, some TV commentators and various politicians.

What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over

DougR has made a case that he expects the BOP to tip over. He seems to base this on the following information.

1 – The well is leaking into the sediment below the mudline and that is undermining the foundation holding the BOP upright.

2 – In support of that theory he cites that BP cut off the broken riser to relieve pressure on the well.

3 – Currents are pushing on the BOP stack.

4 – He seems to believe the inclination or tilt of the BOP is increasing.

5 – The BOP, riser and well casing are eroding from the inside due to sand erosion further weakening the structure.

He weaves a visual picture of a 450 ton BOP waving around a hundred feet high supported by a thin piece of liner or well casing. Given that description it is understandable that people will believe the BOP is in immediate danger of collapse.

Looking at this from an engineering view point and using real data instead of conjecture and hyperbole I come to a much different conclusion.

The BOP is not in danger of tipping over.

Let look at each of his points.

1 – His theory seems to be that the well is blowing out the side about 1,000 feet below the mudline. I can understand, given the sparse and misleading information from BP and the USCG, how you could come to that conclusion. But let’s look at the actual make-up of the casing that supports the wellhead and the BOP. Here is the data:


First a 36” casing, up to 2” thick was put down. It extends from the mud line to 255 feet down, as tall as a 25 story building.

Next a 28” casing was run from the mudline to 1,150 feet down, almost the height of the Empire State building.

This was followed by a 22” casing from the mudline 2,870 feet down, twice as deep as the World Trade Center was high.

All three of these casings were completely cemented together and they form a very solid base which is what supports the BOP. I won’t detail the casing string below the 22” but is in the above pdf.

It is hard to envision any way the well would be able to leak out in the sediment between the mudline and the end of the 22” casing which is over a half mile down and well into formations below the mudline. At 1,000 feet there is a 1” thick pipe (the 22” casing) which is 100% cemented to another thick pipe (the 28” casing) which in turn is 100% cemented to the formation. Not much of a leak path there.

The immediate (first 1,000 feet) of well structure that remains is now also undoubtedly compromised.

There is no evidence that the foundation holding the BOP is being undermined or the upper portion of the casing (first 2,870 feet) is damaged. If you watch the leakage from under the LMRP cap you can see the oil and gas immediately start rising up at a pretty good velocity. If there were any oil or gas leaks anywhere near the BOP it would be very obvious as the leaks would look very much like the leakage from the cap and they would be quite visible as they flowed up around the BOP.

There are also occasional video shots of the lower part of the BOP and there is no sign of any seabed disturbance or subsidence. It looks pretty much like the earliest photos BP released.

The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking

What may be helping to confuse the situation is that there are two more concentric “pipes” that run from the wellhead area down into the well.

A 16” casing string is suspended about 160 feet below the mudline and runs down to over a mile below the mudline. This piece of casing is also sealed to the 22” casing and hangs down from there. The “annular” space is inside the 16” casing between it and the liner.

A 9-7/8” liner was installed from the mudline to the bottom of the well. This liner reduces down to 7” before it reaches the bottom. It was through this liner that the well was expected to produce oil and gas.

The 16” casing has three rupture/burst disks subs installed and one of those is at about 980 feet down. It was this “disk” that Admiral Allen was referring to when he said it “failed”. This would indicate the “well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking”. But a rupture of that disk does NOT leak directly into the mud. It leaks inside the well casing.

The leak would have to migrate down to the bottom of the 18” casing - 3,902 feet below the mudline before it left the well. I expect that BP thinks they may have underground blowout at that level, which would leak into another formation, not up to the surface unless the cement jobs at the 18” casing or the 22” casing were also bad and those were fully tested and used.

DougR also supports his theory of downhole leaks by stating:

80 Barrels per minute is over 200,000 gallons per hour, over 115,000 barrels per day...did we seen an increase over and above what was already leaking out of 115k bpd?....we did not...it would have been a massive increase in order of multiples and this did not happen.

But three paragraphs above he contradicts himself stating:

Early that afternoon we saw a massive flow burst out of the riser "plume" area


Later on same day we saw a greatly increased flow out of the kink leaks

2 – DougR says BP cut off the riser to relieve the pressure but the timeline of the events indicates otherwise. BP had released the design of the LMRP cap well before they started the Top Kill.

If BP had thought they had a leakage problem requiring a pressure reduction, they would never have attempted a top kill. So the claim that they cut the riser to relieve the pressure doesn’t fit the facts--it fits the already announced plan to cut the riser and install the LMRP cap.

3 – There is very little current at 5,000 feet. There may be other forces acting on the BOP, like gravity, but the currents are minimal. It is easy to verify this just by watching the video of the oil leakage.

4 – DougR’s claim is that the inclination of the BOP is increasing. There is no evidence of this.

Early discussions on TOD when BP released the first pictures talked about the fact that the BOP to well head connection appeared bent and the BOP looked tilted. The pictures at that time (very bad quality) seem to show a bend between the base of the wellhead and the bottom of the BOP. I haven’t seen any evidence that this tilt has increased over time or that there is any less mud at the wellhead.

There is a good reason why the BOP wellhead connection could be bent and weakened. For over a day the DWH was without power and the 50,000 ton rig was anchored to the wellhead. The movements of the rig in the surface currents would have put a huge strain on the BOP stack.

Also, when the rig sank and the riser bent over it would also have put stress on the BOP. But the riser doesn’t weigh as much as most people would think as it has floatation on it.

It would be a reasonably easy exercise, if you have all the data, to calculate the force that bending the riser would impart to the BOP and the well head. I’m sure that BP did that calculation and it didn’t deter them from proceeding with the Top Kill.

The LMRP has a flexjoint where it connects to the BOP. I believe that flexjoint is designed to tip up to 7.5 or 10 degrees. Normally the LMRP is under some tension from the riser which tends to hold it straight. Without this support from the riser it will always tip to one side. So the LMRP will always have a substantial inclination, by design.

you may have noticed that some of the ROVs are using an inclinometer...and inclinometer is an instrument that measures "Incline" or tilt. The BOP is not supposed to be tilting...and after the riser clip off operation it has begun to...

The ROVs have been checking the bullseyes regularly, before and after the riser was cut. The box that DougR thinks is an inclinometer is likely some other instrument, probably ultrasonic. That would be backed up by another poster’s observation that they had been cleaning the area where the box was being used. They could be checking the wall thickness at that point or trying to determine fluid flow. Both are more likely that an inclinometer reading.

5 - Erosion

I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together.

I‘m not sure if DougR is referring to internal pipeline erosion or external foundation erosion and I may be doing him a disservice but there has been enough other discussion about internal erosion to try to correct some misconceptions.

When we have been talking about erosion we are talking about small restrictions that have been eroded where the oil flow has to pass small spaces. The most dramatic example was the increase in the leaks at the riser kink. They started at almost nothing and grew dramatically over time. A similar process was occurring inside the BOP.

There are a lot of variables that effect erosion but the biggest is velocity. The only place that there is erosion in this well is where there are tight restrictions which have high velocity and large pressure reductions. These seem to be inside the BOP and the riser kink when it was still there. The original cross section of the leak path was probably less than 0.20 sq in. With the very high velocity this restriction would have eroded very quickly. The five fold increase in the flow estimate in the first few days of the spill would be consistent with this theory as is the continuing increase in flow estimates. As the restriction enlarges the pressure drops and the erosion slows down. This is also consistent with various pressure readings at the bottom of the BOP, dropping from the “8,000 to 9,000 psi” to 4,400 psi on May 25.

The velocity inside the casing, liner, body of the BOP and the riser is relatively low. I doubt that it would be possible to detect the erosion on the casing or riser with the naked eye. It would take years of flow before there would be enough structural damage from internal erosion to cause any problems.

This is especially true for vertical or near vertical piping. In a horizontal pipe sediment can drop to the bottom and over time wear a groove on the bottom of the pipe, which is not the case here.

All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of" 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...as I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more.

This statement brings together all DougR’s suppositions. I’m not sure if he is actually that frightened himself or if he just enjoys scaring others, but his conclusions come pretty close to fear mongering.

Besides painting a picture of a completely out of control blowout (which is a true worst case), in his “very least damaging outcome” he pretty much doubles the amount of maximum flow that this well could produce according to analysis that has been presented on TOD by well experts.

Transparency Issues

If BP and the USG were more inclined to transparency, a lot of this aggravation could be avoided. You will never convince the conspiracy theorists; it is a life style they enjoy. But the MSM would not be quite as far out there if they were presented factual information, even if they couldn’t understand it.

Just doing a quick review of this long post I came up with this list of questions BP or the USG could answer that would indicate some transparency.

Have you found any seabed leaks of oil and gas?

Edit – Evidently this was answered by USCG at a press conference with an emphatic “No”. No seabed leak, no washing away of the well head foundation, no traction for the DougR theory.

Do you believe there are any leaks from the well into other formations? If so, which ones?

Has the inclination of the BOP changed? By how much?

Describe the “disk failure” at 1,000 feet.

Are you concerned about the structural integrity of the BOP?, wellhead?, the LMRP?, the casing?

Describe the formation levels.

What are the current pressure readings inside the BOP?, the historical readings?

Is there any indication of seabed movement at the base of the BOP?

What are the ROVs doing when they are looking at the seabed?

What is the little black box the ROVs place on the riser?

I could go on for pages. I understand that BP has legal reasons why they won’t comment on the flow rates or what happened to cause the blowout. But there are reams of information that they could be providing the public.

new stuff in this introductory comment, 23 JUN 10.

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June 13th this video is posted on Youtube of ocean floor oil leak - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RxIQP0IBU ( ROV films oil leak coming from rock cracks on seafloor. )Is this the only evidence of an oil leak available to the public or is it bogus? Thanks in advance for professional review and comments.

Not bogus but not a crack and not an oil leak.

Well, what is it?

Not sure, but I think it's a ROV on top of a piece of junk, the black stuff is mud and the rest of the swirly stuff is silt. There was a really good post on this yesterday. There's no evidence of a sea floor crack around the riser.

The video is what, two weeks old. A small crack would be an active Mt. Vesuvius by now.

wundermaus, I am in no way an expert, but I've spent a lot of time looking at videos of the ROVs. I would say that unless HD video is released of that area of the seafloor, there's no way of knowing exactly what it is showing. Yes, there is darker material that is blown around by the ROV, but people who were watching that ROV prior to the clip on YouTube have said that the ROV was looking at debris on the sea floor. So, as I see it, the possibilities are:

  1. Oil rising up from a crack in the sea floor
  2. Oil trapped by something (drilling mud or piece of debris) that is being blown around by ROV thrusters
  3. Other dark colored organic material

It is very difficult to distinguish one from the other due to low resolution of ROV video and greenish tint to video. I think the jury's still out on that one.

Anything's possible, but there have been 0 legitimate reports of a crack in the sea floor around the riser and there have been legitimate reports that there are no cracks around the riser. http://gulfblog.uga.edu/, Item 17.

Hear hear.
Well done.


Good to see some engineering info on the casement. What impact if any could the original methane explosion have on the casement?

Thank you for the follow up. The best thing about an open forum, just like any theory, is that it is subject to scientific scrutiny.

Analytically, one approach is to ask,

Has it happened before where drilling set off a event which could not be contained within a reasonable time frame (e.g. 1 year)?

With such a case file, then these cases, however extreme, must be in the realm of possibilities.

Here is an example:


"On May 28, 2006, PT Lapindo Brantas targeted gas in the Kujung Formation carbonates in the Brantas PSC area by drilling a borehole named the 'Banjar-Panji 1 exploration well'. In the first stage of drilling the drill string first went through a thick clay seam (500–1,300 m deep), then sands, shells, volcanic debris and finally into permeable carbonate rocks.[1] At this stage the borehole was surrounded by a steel casing to help stabilise it. At 5:00 a.m. local time (UTC+8) a second stage of drilling began and the drill string went deeper, to about 2,834 m (9,298 ft), this time without a protective casing, after which water, steam and a small amount of gas erupted at a location about 200 m southwest of the well.[8] Two further eruptions occurred on the second and the third of June about 800–1000 m northwest of the well, but these stopped on June 5, 2006.[8] During these eruptions, hydrogen sulphide gas was released and local villagers observed hot mud, thought to be at a temperature of around 60 °C (140 °F).[9]

From a model developed by geologists working in the UK,[8] the drilling pipe penetrated the overpressured limestone, causing entrainment of mud by water. The influx of water to the well bore caused a hydrofracture, but the steam and water did not enter the borehole; they penetrated the surrounding overburden and pressured strata. The extra pressure formed fractures around the borehole that propagated 1–2 km to the surface and emerged 200 m away from the well. The most likely cause of these hydraulic fractures was the unprotected drill string in the second stage of drilling.[8] While steel casing is used to protect the well bore in oil or gas exploration, this protection can only be applied in stages after each new section of the hole is drilled, see drilling for oil."

Hi Shelburn, how is this going to make headline news? there's not enough doom and gloom action, what happened to James Carville riding a burning alligator!

"What is the little black box the ROVs place on the riser?" that's to show the false camera feed so we can't see it getting worse.

Much more interest in people saying either the clean-up team only work office hours or they secretly come at night - take your pick.

You said "You will never convince the conspiracy theorists" and i think that since America has more than anywhere else you're right.

Best Hopes for seeking out the facts no matter how boring.

You're so out of it.

You don't need "gloom and doom" to get depressed.

You only need the bare, unembellished facts.

You don't need conspiracy theorists to twist some weird tale of destruction.

It's happening, every minute that you sit here looking at your computer monitor.

There's no conspiracy behind the fact that hundreds of thousands of oil are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Please, just deal with that fact alone, and what it means.

Oz, my point is that we don't need dramatic inaccurate reporting and blogging but people looking at the facts and reporting accurately. Unfortunately the media doesn't work like this, many years ago i remember giving an interview to a journal where we were looking at some PCs from a minor manufacturer and in the next issue was a front page story that the major bank was going to junk all its IBM computers and replace them with PCs from this tiny manufacturer. It made an interesting story with an eye catching headline but was based on zero facts.

I'm not here as a reporter.

I'm here with a long professional history and current knowledge that informs my understanding of what's happening.

As far as the term "dramatic" goes:

I said I had "no doubt".

You said it was "highly likely".

What exactly are you disagreeing with, to the point of calling my post "dramatic inaccurate reporting"?

Easy there,fellas.

calm down I am pretty sure he/she was being sarcastic

Lots of Googlebucks and Acornchecks for people that start blogs and publish outlandish and controversial fabrications. The new economy.

They have invaded even the good blogs for quite some time now.

"The BOP is not in danger of tipping over."

All the "it can't happen" pronouncements here and elsewhere are rather amusing in light of BP, MMS, and others assuming an undersea blowout of this type would never happen. :)

If the BOP were to "fall over" it would likely be at the wellhead by finishing the kink already started in the 36" casing just above the wellhead bullseye, or equally bad, failure of the wellhead / BOP connector due to excessive lateral stress, simply breaking off the wellhead. I'm amazed (and thankful) it didn't break when the riser bent over.

I'm not speculating it might happen. I hope it doesn't happen. But I'm certainly not going to engage in the denial-induced "it can't happen" mentality seen here and elsewhere.

If it were going to happen it would have happened when DWH was sinking and the riser collapsed to the sea floor. There was a tremendous pressure put on it when that happened, but it withstood it, proving that it is obviously a very sturdy structure.

Now, there is no riser and there is relatively little well pressure below it, since so much is leaking out the top. If it didn't fall over back then it certainly is not going to fall over now.

More assumptions. :)

Perhaps, but that the well head and BOP are structurally stable at present and not in imminent danger of collapse seems a reasonable assumption. As if this disaster is not bad enough already!

We do know that the pressure has dropped, since that was measured and reported. We know that the riser has been removed, so there is no stress from that source anymore. We have a good description of the structure below in the text above. I think sturdy is a good word for the structure they are describing.

rf, your assumption that "excessive lateral stress" could shear the BOP/wellhead connection is pretty silly, unless you assume a freight train is going to plow into the BOP

In simple terms, the riser yanking sideways on the top of the BOP would have generated large tension and compression forces in the BOP connection, with a comparatively small lateral component.

You might want to read up on basic engineering before belittling other people's arguments on TOD.

Everything broke at the weakest link before, which was the riser.

That's been knocked out. The BOP alone, no matter how sturdy, and I'm sure it's very sturdy, is on its own and without the extra support of the riser.

I am not an engineer, or an oil man ,but I am a rolling stone who has been around many big costruction jobs and a professinal welder who has made many critical repairs on busted stuff loaded past its limits .

Steel that is moderately bent or deformed loses some strength, but not much.I am not exactly sure why the bop is tilted, but if it is because the pipes and the Bop were deformed during the accident, the odds are extremely high that the appartus is just about as structurally strong as it ever was.

Think if you will about a horseshoe or other piece of steel that has been bent or deformed moderately.If you put it in a vise and try to straighten it, you will find that it is just as hard to bend it back as it is to bend a new one.

The odds are VERY high that niether the pipes nor the BOP will fail NOW due to the metal ripping or bending, barring further accidents.

Anyone who doubts this can try to straighten a piece of bent steel himself.

Now as to whether they might fail due to being eroded away by abrasives in the oil and gas I have no real idea as to the time span involved-obviously such a thing could happen, in time.

The casing pipes are very large and thick in relation to the size and wieght of the BOP.So long as the casings are more of less vertical , the load is almost certainly trivial in comparision to the rididity of the casings and the strength of the fasteners..

Think of a ladder-it is easily carried by its bottom end, when held vertically, but it is extremely difficult for a man to hold a ladder of any significant length horizontally BY ONE END.

The casings might bend and "kink" some distance below the BOP if the muddy bottom were to shift around or erode away but unless there is a big leak coming up from somewhere below to displace the bottom mud(sediments) there is no reason for the sea bottom mud to move.Afaics, there is no evidence so far of such a leak.

Well, where we get really screwed is when the thing that can't happen, does.

The fat tail event. Can't be predicted, except it can be predicted that fat tail events will happen.

Exactly. This is a fat tail event.

Just like the economy. The macro models always work... until they don't.

Of course. And this one's not over, which is why BP's in the toilet. Last trade $27 and change.

Excellent set of questions at the end. Maybe BP/USCG will surprise you and answer them, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Agreed the list of questions would go a long way to undoing the conspiracy/fear mongering theories. But it does in the end come down to trust and at this point for at least some, there is very little trust in what BP, the feds and the so called research experts are saying e.g. Corexit. A sad state of affairs but it was created by less than honest and transparent management of this crisis.

Your suggestion of DougR being a fear monger needs to be balanced with the idea that BP, the media and the authorities seriously downplayed and covered up the magnitude of this crisis and its impact for almost six weeks and in that have lost much of their credibility. That is not to endorse DougR's theory but may help to explain why it and others like it have gained traction.

The oil industry's ties to politicians, government agencies and academic institutions should be of concern. The billions generated by lease royalties, the political contributions, the lobbying and the funding of research activities create a fertile environment for corruption, compromise and/or cover up.

+100. Good post.


At the very least, dougr opened minds to the possibility that BP and others could not so easily end this disaster, that arrogance, hubris, and false or incompetent claims were leading us down the wrong path... and in fact, here we are over TWO months and an estimated 2 million barrels (82 million gallons) later, and the "spill" is still gushing. Dougr may not be absolutely "right" on all points, but tell me, who has been? From my perspective, this has not simply been an "oil spill" in the Gulf, or the worst environmental disaster in the US.... dougr's worse-case scenario implies that this "spill" is a global disaster, and should be treated as such, allowing all countries who can and are willing to, help.

Also, I fully agree with "Guest's" statement : "The oil industry's ties to politicians, government agencies and academic institutions should be of concern. The billions generated by lease royalties, the political contributions, the lobbying and the funding of research activities create a fertile environment for corruption, compromise and/or cover up." But heaven help the person who points to the money trail and legislation... that person is immediately branded as either a democrat or republican. The oil industry's behemoth lobby is wrong, wrong, wrong... no matter what side you are on..

"First, I will say that in one area we are in complete agreement. BP and the USCG have been less than forth coming, and in doing so have hurt both themselves and the general public as all kinds of wild rumors and technical misinformation abound. Some of this misinformation results in harm to individuals and businesses as people suffer increased stress and tourists cancel vacations."

Thanks for this site. Posting from Alabama's ground zero, folks around here have no idea what is really going on. I now live in an area that if it were a US plant, OSHA would have shut down already. Instead, our leaders invite 100,000 souls and national TV to come get drunk. Does BP run the whole country? I guess BP stand for Bought the Politicians.

'How do we sleep while our beds are burning?' Midnight Oil.

USGS investigations indicate that gas hydrates may cause landslides on the continental slope.

Seafloor slopes of 5 degrees and less should be stable on the Atlantic continental margin, yet many landslide scars are present. The depth of the top of these scars is near the top of the hydrate zone, and seismic profiles indicate less hydrate in the sediment beneath slide scars. Evidence available suggests a link between hydrate instability and occurrence of landslides on the continental margin. A likely mechanism for initiation of landsliding involves a breakdown of hydrates at the base of the hydrate layer. The effect would be a change from a semi-cemented zone to one that is gas-charged and has little strength, thus facilitating sliding. The cause of the breakdown might be a reduction in pressure on the hydrates due to a sea-level drop, such as occurred during glacial periods when ocean water became isolated on land in great ice sheets.

Reference http://marine.usgs.gov/fact-sheets/gas-hydrates/title.html

Food for thought.....This could create a "large wave if a collapse occurs"

Thanks for the link, Seeker. Methane Hydrate is interesting stuff. The science indicates that there are several instability inducing factors. One is noted in the USGS article, that being a drop in sea level. This, of course, reduces pressure, which allows the MH to form bubbles, and hence the instability in the MH layers.

The second factor would be heat, which has the same effect. If the sea temperature rises a few degrees, MH at that level could form bubbles, and again that instability in the marine sediments.

The third event that seems to cause bubbles and release of gas is stirring it up. Petro companies have been researching this, in order to see if they can find a way to mine MH. So far, no go.

And, there is good evidence that a few of these events have caused tsunami events from time to time, some on our east coast. Clive Cussler has written a novel based on this ("Fire Ice"). It is an interesting read.


Methane hydrates do apparently sometimes melt and create sub sea slides and possibly tsunamis too.

Nobody should go out of thier way to read Cusslers book;speaking as a compulsive reader I can say with conviction that anybody who finishes two of them is a VERY EASILY satisfied reader.

Cussler sells a lot of books, and has many, many fans, but having read nearly every high tech thriller published in the last 25 years lead me to this rule: If Cussler's review is the only one printed on the back cover, then the book is not worth my time.

Cusslers books are entertainment, nothing more. If you want a diversion from this real world of disaster, war, crime, disease, hunger and poverty they do a good job. They are not great literary works, just entertainment.

This is also food for thought for the "nuke it" crowd... could the pressure waves flowing through these deposits cause a methane hydrate phase change? Like the guy who bangs your beer bottle at a party?

No. In fact the opposite. Phase change will absorb heat, slowing down further melt temporarily. It is not supercritical.

The methane clathrate system is much more complicated than that; if you look at a phase diagram for it, pressure is still the critical factor for keeping methane cage in ice or associated with water; temeprature response is pretty flat below a given pressure (I think about 20 atmospheres). A pressure wave from a large explosion would have below-ambient waves behind each pulse; I would not causually dismiss the concept that this could drop the pressure in a clathrate-rich layer enough to send the system to a part of the phase diagram where methane gas disassociates. Whether the cooling effect of gas expansion would be a limiting factor depends on how much heat is required and how much heat is available; since it is sitting in water and rock there is a lot of heat available. Once a bubble forms it is not going to easily be contained; the bubble is going to essentially be pure methane and will be limited in its association with water to be reabsorbed.

It is just a possibility; but methane eruptions from the seafloor are hardly unknown. Could they be triggered seismically by a sharp detonation wave is a question I think is worth considering; or would be if they were crazy enough to try to seal this thing ith a nuke :) So maybe not that worth considering, lol.

TFHG, did you see the link I posted in the old thread, http://www.cnbc.com/id/37918179 ? You might be getting some help that's not from BP or the USG.

I simply went and searched for "methane", didn't read or link from another site. I used to work in Houston for a company (Petro Marine Engineering) that designed these platforms so my interest is keen regarding the ramifications of this disaster. I was a piping designer back in the day...

Got it, thanks. We probably have a resource problem in fighting this, but it is so hard to tell. On the local blogs folks are calling for the National Guard. I said, "For what? To shoot BP and politicians?" We need leadership as bad as I have ever thought we have needed it. I swear if things do not pick up, I will start saying I miss that old Devil, G. W. Bush.

I wonder how many NG personnel who could be helping out here - shades of Katrina - are deployed overseas, occupying someone else's country.

The National Guard (and the reserves, if you're talking about the Air Force / Navy / Marines) normally responds to disasters at home -- tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, rock slides, cave-ins, sometimes even wildfires. First-responders, essentially: two weeks in summer camp, one weekend a month, a little extra money, and readiness to help out neighbors (training and equipment available, mostly).

What could the Guard or Reserves do that professional clean-up contractors can't do better? I have never heard of any training that the military gets that would make them well suited for this kind of work. Please explain what specialized wild well training that the military has. What kind of offshore oil pollution control equipment do they have? Don't get me wrong they are well suited for some jobs. The jobs they can be expected to deal with, civil unrest and natural disasters, they do very well. This is not the kind of thing the military is designed to do. Don't read it as mili-TARY.

I never thought I would miss Bill and Hillary. ;)

mac - I'll pass your regrets on to Hill if I get to chat with her next month. She'll be speaking at my stepdaughter's grad ceremony when she finishes her State Department induction. She's actually a little nervous that Hill and I might actually meet. I'm would certainly be my regular charming self. But the kid also knows my playful sense of humor.

Wow. A budding diplomat in the rising generation of the Rockman family. Obviously inspired by step-dad's example. ;^)

Funny how McCrystal's staff slammed everybody but Sec. Clinton. They had praise for her. Even if you are a bad employee or no one likes you, experience still counts.

The lack of info is so pervasive that personal put downs by either side of the various debates are out of line.

"I guess BP stand for Bought the Politicians."

I like that! :)

If they wanted them to stay bought, they should have paid more. Don't forget Barack Obama was the top recipient of BP money in the last election cycle, and he's not sounding very "bought" at the moment.

I never thought that it'd be a good idea to have a community organizer in an executive position. Community organizers teach other people how to organize. And I'm not one of the Prez's fans now. However, Obama received about $77,000 from BP employees. It's difficult to fathom that that would bias him much towards the company in the face of a major disaster.

$77K is quite a lot of money for one politician. The shocking thing is how little our politicos sell us out for. My congressman gets $500/year almost every year from a particular oil concern and $500/years almost every year from a particular weapons contractor, and this is enough for him to pull for tens of millions of taxpayer $ for both with regularity. One of those two doesn't even have a single job in our district (the other has a handful).

Obama sounded very much like Mr. Big Oil a few months ago. It was only after his approval rating plummeted and it became evident how upset people were with the government being caught flatfooted by this - weeks into it - that the "get tough" rhetoric started.

It is easy to understand why there are so many "conspiracy theorists." People want to know where they stand, and what is going to happen to them. Civilization is all about "the story" -- where we came from, why things are as they are, where we are going. The modern story, the "science" story, is beginning to look like a shaky proposition -- or at least that it has been harnessed by dark forces, and it doesn't have the explanatory power it once had.

Last night I saw a production of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire -- a sort of surrealistic dream that one could say was based in the collapsing monarchies of Europe and the rise of something new and frightening-- which the artists couldn't really forsee clearly in 1912, but of course turned out to be the war-torn industrial calamity of the 20th century.

I would venture to say that most "conspiracy theorists" are neither greedy (somehow out for personal power) nor psychotic -- they are just trying to make sense of what appears to be a senseless world.

It will be best if our stories are based in "fact" -- and the Oil Drum seems to be the best source of fact -- but in the end, I fear we will all be swept over by forces we can not understand, and certainly can not control.

It looks like science will give way to theology once again. It happened to the Muslims from the 13th century on -- and it is happening in the European/American world now.

In my opinion, "conspiracy theory" is a very perjorative and incomplete term to describe the revolution in our cultural story, and serves only to further polarize us. Calling some people "conspiracy theorists" confuses the message with the messenger, and creates invidious distinctions that serve to help create a new orthodoxy (or return to the old one.)

I'm fascinated by the way in which "uncertainty" can result in unsubstantiated (but authoritative-seeming) explanations (such as those being rebutted here) gaining attention and credence.

And since I can't comment in any way on the technical aspects of the post, I'd like to comment on what seems to be occurring psychologically. First of all some research that people might want to pursue - related to conditions of uncertainty and how biases can operate (see Tversky, Kahnemann and others):

Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases


How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life


Lots of social science research has been done related to "uncertainty" and "risk" - way too much to go into here. But basically people avoid ambiguity - so much so that cognitive errors are very likely under conditions of uncertainty (due, I think, to a desire to fasten onto some "conclusion" - any conclusion, and, amazingly, especially one as dire as the situation, to the untutored person, already seems to warrant).

This disaster in the Gulf is one which provides fertile ground for mistakes in reasoning, in (over)estimating the likelihood of further horrific outcomes, and also in interpretations and decision-making - based on anxiety and even panic.

It seems to me that experts in any field, who know more about underlying processes, risks, and so on, are much more able to tolerate uncertainty in a crisis (in their field of expertise). They know the risks. They understand the processes at work. And they can handle the uncertainty better, I think, than the untutored person, or the person with a little knowledge but not enough to really ponder all the data and tolerate the current imponderables.

I can see this in my own line of work. Personality dynamics are very complex. Your average person knows a bit, wants to speculate, and maybe can even throw around some terms. But usually the average person tries to over-simplify and has difficulty tolerating that maybe there's no way to really comprehend mass murder or even the suicide of one person. Nevertheless, tolerating "not knowing" is so uncomfortable, that the non-expert, in my view, HAS to come to some conclusion - irregardless of how off base that might be.

Thus, in the case of this oil gusher, the experts, who know a lot, can provide information about drilling and casing and checking mud flows and what should or should not have been done - but when it comes to speculating about what's going on way below the sea floor, those experts - in the absence of specific information - are going to wait and not do a whole lot of speculating. Or if they do speculate, they will do so very cautiously, making it clear they are considering theories, but not drawing conclusions.

But the public at large has difficulty tolerating the uncertainty (that the expert feels obliged to tolerate). So for your average citizen, since ALREADY a terrible disaster (which they would previously have viewed as highly unlikely) has actually occurred, now they are more likely to make the mistake of assuming that if one unlikely event has occurred, then another is to be expected! So there's a cognitive fallacy which gets going, making worse and worse case scenarios "seem more and more likely" - when actually the concurrence of disasters, statistically anyway, is less likely - not more likely.

I can't be sure that my psychological speculation here is anything more than speculation. But we need an explanation for why what experts would view as nonsensical conclusions have spread like wildfire over the net and even into the MSM. As if one stress, the crisis we know about, together with uncertainty, has made non-experts exceedingly willing to anticipate more and even worse stresses ready to happen. Kind of like mass hysteria taking over - simply because we are already in the midst of a crisis, whose outcome, at the moment, is uncertain.

So I think we all need to hang onto our hats here. And listen to the experts. To remain calm and patient. That is very important. Yes, we are in the midst of a crisis. But spinning more and more catastrophes does not benefit us personally, nor does it help our society.

Just a bit of advice...

Hey! Good post!

Listened to a talk by Dan Airely (author of 'predictably irrational) that really blew my mind! Sort of along a similar vein....esp. when he was talking about how people handle investments.


Yes, these people have done a lot related to economics and investment.

Thanks for this very-much-needed re-centering, TheraP.

Very interesting analysis.

It seems to me that experts in any field, who know more about underlying processes, risks, and so on, are much more able to tolerate uncertainty in a crisis (in their field of expertise). They know the risks. They understand the processes at work. And they can handle the uncertainty better, I think, than the untutored person, or the person with a little knowledge but not enough to really ponder all the data and tolerate the current imponderables.

Looks highly perceptive to me - I avoid any of the psychology type stuff because I don't understand it at all.

Excellent post TheraP, as all of yours have been in the few months I've been reading TOD. However, I take issue with the statement that "And they can handle the uncertainty better, I think, than the untutored person."

The reason for my objection that experts in their field of expertise do not necessarily handle uncertainty better, but rather, they have the capacity to grind uncertainty into smaller granularity. At a certain order of intellectual magnitude, you will return to agnostic judgment calls or reliance on historical data and probability. The result of this is often apparently better decisions, but risk of errors becomes difficult to quantify, and as found in software development, intellectual "rounding" errors can potentially result in catastrophic failure. I'm not familiar with much of the psychology field but having worked in both EMS when younger and in technology as I've aged, I've seen many types of experts, and the stress of uncertainty seems to be compartmentalized rather than handled. Engineers may develop low-level OCD behaviors or rigid worldviews. Paramedics may develop PTSD. I personally think that these psychological symptoms are at least partially the result of managing uncertainty.

I don't disagree with what you've pointed out. Because you've really explained how the experts would make use of intellectual skills in such a way as to gain a "bird's eye view" of the situation (from which they can consider events aside from emotions = a positive coping mechanism), and thus buffer themselves from the kind of anxiety that might take over for the non-expert, who easily feels sucked into a crisis situation, especially one that seems to make little sense.

Thanks for your careful reading!

It's usually good to stay calm, but basically what you've posted is an appeal to authority & expertize. But the experts in this field/industry have just proven that their knowledge and practices are inadequate for the work they've been doing in deep water drilling - they are out of their depth, so to speak. No one knows more, so they will have to do, but there is a big credibility problem. How many of the experts would have cautioned that such a disaster might happen this way at the beginning of April? Further, there is an enormous amount of money and personal power and fortunes at play here, which does nothing for truth and transparency.

So yeah, remain calm and listen to the experts, but with a big dose of skepticism and very little trust (trust must be earned).

I'm not sure that this crisis tells us not to trust the experts. To my mind it seems to be saying that when the desire to minimize cost becomes the over-riding goal, and safety issues and tried and true methods take a back-seat, then you may be setting yourself up for a world of pain. (Those were management decisions, not ones based on technical expertise.) It sounds like there were warning signs all along the way here. But they were brushed aside. And it appears that there was pressure from management to save time, save money, and overlook problems, required maintenance, or industry standards.

I actually have gained in my estimation of the expertise of people like Rockman (and others) who have experience with the very problems encountered in drilling this well and are troubled at how many choice-points, where choosing the safer decision (even more expensive or time-consuming) could have averted the many tragedies that came about.

Rockman or others need to weigh in here. But for myself I remain very convinced of the value of experts here at TOD to provide explanations and guidance.

Who else are you going to turn to for that? And how are you going to educate yourself, without trying to learn from the experts? Forgive me, but your skepticism seems misplaced. Be skeptical of deep water drilling. Be skeptical of our dependence on oil. But how are "experts" to blame for what's occurred?

But how are "experts" to blame for what's occurred?

Some experts are certainly responsible for acceding to the "pressure from management" to "overlook problems, required maintenance, or industry standards."

To dismiss the reality of that responsibility, or to refrain from calling those experts to account for their action/inaction is to validate the "only following orders" excuse. I submit that said excuse was laid to rest at Nuremberg.

Are you engaged in clinical work, TheraP? To what extent do you or would you succumb to analogous pressures in your own profession. What might be your judgment of others who do so?

Now you're talking ethics. And I agree with your assessment. As for how I handle pressures on me, I resist them! I hang onto my clinical skills and my ethics. And I hold the line.

I was on the ethics committee of our state psychological association for 7 years. It was a huge responsibility. And I will honestly say that most professionals who made ethical errors did so along with errors in clinical judgment as well. (so their expertise was insufficient.. in addition to their ethics)

I do agree that those who allowed themselves to be pressured bear responsibility for that. Thanks for pointing it out.

You see this as a problem stemming from cost cutting - the one bad apple, isolated incident view. From an engineering point of view, it does not look like the tried and true methods are acceptable, and I see it as more of a systemic failure. While the industry may have grown comfortable with the methods they use, to me it seems like their tools are barely adequate most of the time, with most wells being barely in control, and no capability to deal with a foreseeable failure in deep water drilling. I am far from comforted by what I see going on technically. That management are worthless I expect.

What is going on here is mostly an artifact of peak oil - there is a reason they are drilling 3 miles below the surface of the ocean for 3 days worth of world oil use. It's not because the oil is worth more than other oil, it's because we used the easy to get, lower cost oil. That has driven us to exceed the capabilities of the industry, and to cut corners to try and recoup the costs of getting it.

It may be more comforting for you to see it as an accident, but that does not mean I must wear those blinders.

I don't see it as an "accident" so much as flawed decision-making over and over and over. And I am in total agreement that even deciding to drill in the deep water, using a BOP that has flaws and lack of redundancy, and failing to test equipment and design better methods, or to stop drilling when problems arise...

As far as I'm concerned I'd be happy if we stop risky drilling altogether. I'd love to see lots of lessons learned here. And I started out simply to try and speculate about why a nonsensical explanation gained so much currency and left so many people scared as a result.

In my original comment I made it clear that I cannot speak to the post itself and that I lack the necessary expertise to comment on the technical aspects presented. Though I did my best to follow the lines of reasoning.

I fail to see where I was asking you to wear blinders. I would agree with your assessment of systemic failure - even though I've been looking not at how this well blew, but at how the public seem to have been taken in by an erroneous line of reasoning, which has been rebutted - quite well it seems - in the post above.

great post, explains the "it's raining oil" freakout that was getting on my nerves so bad yesterday

might even help me rein in my snark

TheraP, I have a reasonable background in cognitive psych --- and law. And I understand most (not all) of Tversky and Kahnemann studies/ theory, BUT.... what the public is experiencing now, I think, cannot be so neatly summed up as some irrational rationalization. In many ways, the way all this has unfolded is somewhat like going to a specialist for a medical condition, and finding out that the specialist has never encountered your disease, nor has predicted expertise. Or perhaps a more nefarious analogy, the doc is someone trying to harvest your organs instead of helping you. The public has been given outrageous information over the course of two months. BP is in the oil business...yes? From the get go, how is it they could have so miserably missed the mark on oil output? Are they not competent to measure their own commodity? Of course there were more accurate estimates, but they chose not to release those to us. Are we to believe that everyone in the oil/ resource management business is really that stupid, and now we should blissfully go along with their expertise in dealing with this disaster? Their effective, timely expertise? I think Amos would have an entirely different take on this situation and the public's reaction.

My comments were directly related to this very post and my fascination with how a dire explanation took hold - one which seems far-fetched to technical experts here at TOD.

So I was not addressing what the public is experiencing now. However, if you want my assessment of that, I suspect many people have been traumatized, and yes, as you say, many may feel betrayed. But that's a different topic entirely. Though one well worth pursuing.

There are many issues going on here. And if you look back over the past weeks of this crisis, you'll see they've been discussed in great depth in prior posts.

I doubt the cognitive psychologists would have tried to diagnose a "public mood" (they focus on information processing) - nor, as I say, was that the purpose of my initial speculations.

I'm more interested in trying to understand events as they occur and, if possible, helping to calm things down. Calm and reassurance are needed right now. I sense that. And fastening onto doomsday scenarios is unlikely to be helpful right now. You may disagree. But we have a long way to go before this is over. Lots to deal with for a long time. We need to keep our wits about us, learn the lessons we can, and make good long term decisions - for the greater good of all of us. That's my overall focus.

Very well. Allow me to assure you calmly that everything is fine, no cause for alarm because the largest GOM operator and the premier deepwater fleet owner killed 11, injured 17, traumatized the rest of the crew, and sank a 4th generation semisubmersible during a routine job preparatory to pulling up the riser and moving to another location. The lesson learned is that not one of the 33 deepwater rigs in the Gulf or their low-IQ "oilfield trash" crews are different, less subservient to company men, or safer than Deepwater Horizon.

Coast Guard board of inquiry findings will be reassuring, too.

On the other hand, it gave the government an excuse to gripe and grow.

Back to basic probability and statistics, doc.

"So there's a cognitive fallacy which gets going, making worse and worse case scenarios 'seem more and more likely' - when actually the concurrence of disasters, statistically anyway, is less likely - not more likely."

Once one disaster has occurred, the chance of it occurring is now 100%, since it's in the past. The chance of another, subsequent disaster is not decreased at all by the first occurrence. (As an example, if you flip a coin, and it comes up heads, the chance of it coming up tails next time is still 50%.) At best, they are independent events.

At worst, they are not independent events, and the past occurrence of the first disaster may contribute to, make more likely, or hasten the second disaster. That is what is claimed, with some apparent support.

As for the relative calm of the "experts," I find no factual support for that contention. Even if that were true, maybe the "experts" are (1) protecting a vested interest, or (2) just plain wrong, as they were obviously just plain wrong about the catastrophic events playing out before our eyes.

So, psychologically speaking, please stop patting us on the head and saying "there, there."

With training and experience in the legal field, I draw a very different conclusion: when people lie and try to hide the facts, as is obviously happening here, they have a very good reason to do so. They do not want to let us know the full truth, which must be much worse than what they've let on. If it were good news, BP would have it on a commercial, and Obama would be announcing it at a press conference. Not happening, is it?

I raised the issue of the dangers of destabilizing the hydrate deposits... but no one seem to be interested.

Dedicated to dougr, MEPatriot, and all similarly-situated.

What I liked about Shelburn's guest post is that it looked at the evidence and challenged the theory.

What you need is a few more frames in your cartoon, perhaps one that depicts BP executives scuba diving in the midst of an Oil Plume as they deny its existence and then one of a scientist endorsing Corexit against a backdrop wildlife carcasses. Maybe a cartoon of an official estimating 1,000 bbl/day while attached to a lie detector.

lotus: Heh! Heh! Keep up the good work!

I saw that movie.... Churchy goes to Fargo?

Thanks Shelburn: I am relieved.

Do you think that the top kill was abandoned simply because erosion of the BOP had progressed so far that they could not overcome the flow with mud, even at 80,000 bbls per day? If so, is it true that it would have worked had they started top kill sooner? I never saw any detailed discussion of how effective/ineffective the junk shot was at reducing flow through the BOP...did they actually try that?

I think if they had been able to start the top kill in the first week it might have worked. If there is an underground blowout that might have kept it from working even then. Others could give a more technical answer.

They did try a junk shot and it seemed to slow the flow, at least at some of the leaks in the riser kink, for short periods of time but not for long.

Well I'm not Shelburn but will take a hack at answering your question. The "top kill" was started too late in the overall process (mostly due to reconfiguration of the riser/BOP complex which, unfortunately took quite a bit of time to implement due to the complexity of the reconfig and difficulty of working at 5,000 feet below SL) and by the time implemented, the leakage from the riser at the top of the BOP had become much worse. Unable to create enough "back pressure" the mud was mostly being lost through the the riser leakage. Although BP did try to introduce "junk" to try to create some back-pressure in the BOP, I think that they were very concerned that they would rupture the riser if they tried the "junk shot" at the pressures and volumes needed to get ahead to the well pressure. If you go to BP's webpage, there are several technical updates by Kent Weeks (BP VP of Engineering) that discuss what BP has and will be doing on the blow-out. No BS straight talk.

I think there are a lot of gullible people here.

I do know, without a doubt, that there are BP people here posting comments.

"I do know, without a doubt, that there are BP people here posting comments."

Would you like to elucidate, e.g. who, how you know and what they are posting?

BP employs about 80,000 people so i would have thought it highly likely that some of them read and post here.

I hope they bring data.

They'll bring data and spin.

One of the things that's impressed me the most about TOD is the ability of members to ferret data out of spin and fantasy and toss what's left into the trash bin. Spinners lose momentum here pretty quickly.

By snakehead:

One of the things that's impressed me the most about TOD is the ability of members to ferret data out of spin and fantasy and toss what's left into the trash bin. Spinners lose momentum here pretty quickly.

I couldn't agree more! Very factual approaches to any scenario. TOD is a fantastic source of experience, wisdom, and technical information. A place where engineers can get together and discuss theories and ideas, and put these ideas up against a whole slew of hystorical evidences, as to whether or not they offer any valid merit.

The best part is the detailed explinations, as to what does what, and why. Or what doesn't or wont work, and why. There is no doupt in anyone's mind that information has been surpressed, but if it were really all that bad, or had the "potential" to be all that bad, do you really think these companies, or our government for that matter, would have millions of dollars in equiptment "over" the site? Would they really allow thousands of people to put themselves in iminent danger? I doupt it. If there really is that much of a concern, don't you think they'd be getting the heck out of there as fast as they could move?

I have plenty of faith, that this well, even with it's "worst case scenarios", will be filled from the bottom up, and will only be heard from again, in the history books under the sections of "Why cutting corners can haunt you for years".

One of the things that seems to get buried in these threads is that there are several hundred people working on top of this well. And their safety is paramount.

Lots of the various proposed fixes would have put them at great risk.

Sounds like you agree with me.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least. On the other hand TOD can get pretty cluttered with NWO asphalt volcano lake of oil 100000 psi methane explosion posts from people who have other agenda.

As I said "i would have thought it highly likely" but don't have anything to back that up, do you?

Of course, I have something to back that up. Suffice it to say, we both agree it's highly likely.

No. Stop. It's bad form to toss the "I know but I won't tell you" tactical nuke into a forum. You'll come off as McCarthyesque and lose credibility instantly.

snakehead, you are really good with the "meta" comments! Very perceptive....


"Of course, I have something to back that up."

That game doesn't work with serious people. Present evidence or your assertions will be filed with all the other reckless and unsubstantiated claims flying around.

BP apologist types just refurse to see the Lake of Oil and other truths, it's there, but you have to believe it before you can see it.

Also: Judge Crater

This has been around for a while but given that its author (Cass Sunstein) is the administration's Information Czar it makes for a good read.

selected excerpts:

"Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories ... Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law. The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such theories might be undermined. Such theories typically spread as a result of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational influences. A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy. Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.

... conspiracy theories are a subset of the large category of false
beliefs, and also of the somewhat smaller category of beliefs that are both false and harmful. Consider, for example, the beliefs that prolonged exposure to sunlight is actually healthy and that climate change is neither occurring nor likely to occur. These beliefs are (in our view) both false and dangerous, "



Of course advantage goes to the one who is first able to label the other as a conspiracy theorist or who is able to decide which ideas are conspiracies and which are not.

If you read that paper carefully you will see that Sunstein is advocating several things:
1) The executive branch should covertly subvert discussions on blogs like this one.
2) Gutting the Freedom of Information act
3) That the executive branch, NOT the judiciary is the sole arbiter of what constitutes a conspiracy theory i.e., a false theory about a government cover up
4) That conspiracy theories might have to be treated like terrorism if 1,2, and 3 above are not sufficient to suppress them.

You figured it out, it's me.

Well done!

The BP people, and their sympathizers, are more likely to be the ones posting the deflections, snide remarks, etc. Monumental hubris in the face of what BP has wrought.


Monumental hubris was posting your long "worst case" comment without knowing enough about drilling engineering or geology to be able to support your scenario.

It is also hubris to refuse to acknowledge valid and civil critiques.

I'll ask this again, doug, have you ever thanked someone for correcting one of your errors?


Gheez Ozamerican, I PRESENTLY work in the oil patch. I USED to work for BP. Do either of those facts disqualify me from posting to TOD?

Better be careful, that skeleton in your closet just moved!

When BP corrects their errors, gladly.
Try not to forget the main point. Who is responsible for all the devastation in the GOM?
Do you think the downhole situation is improving with time?

"When BP corrects their errors, gladly"

Considering that several of your errors have involved fabricating BP errors (as if there weren't enough real BP errors already), I think it would be more efficient if you went first.

The main point for me is that BP has taken eleven lives, screwed the ocean, the coastal environments, and our economy for years to come. That is plenty bad enough, and plenty hard enough to fix already, without having folks like you taking the attention off the real problems by grandstanding your pet disaster fantasies.

If what I posted here got more people off their asses in order to get more and better information from BP's dishonest, negligent and stonewalling cast of characters, I'm fine with it.
What did you do about it?
Oh...that's right...you, apparently, attacked me.
Good for ya.

"If what I posted here got more people off their asses in order to get more and better information..."

That is just wishful thinking. For the most part you have just spread disinformation, like "What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it".

What did I do about it? I didn't run my mouth about stuff that was above my pay grade. I supported comments on TOD from people with solid experience in their fields, and I publicized those comments outside TOD.

As for attacking you, I, and lots of others, have tried to engage you in a rational discussion of your ideas. But you rarely respond to specific questions or critiques (for examples see your posts today), so having a good conversation with you, doug, has been rather difficult.

LOL..."above my pay grade". The same kind of pompous attitude that BP has.
Do you think MORE questions with MORE vigor would have been directed at BP about its disaster from what you "did" about it?
If your mission in life has become a crusade to attack me on the interwebs...go right ahead. Big deal.

dougr, It's pretty strange that you seem to have plenty of time today to argue with me, but can't find the time to respond to shelburn's review of your June 13 comment.

Instead of stepping up and responding to the main topic on this thread, why are you skulking around the edges snarking at me?

As for the three points above ("pompous", what I did, attack on the interwebs) they are insulting, diversionary, and paranoid. I didn't intend to provoke you to that level of anger, sorry for the unintended result.

I'll leave you alone now, so you can focus on a good response to shelburn.

I remember when the original post went up. There was discussion on the board and it was civil and knowledgeable and much information came from it.

I am not an oil person or an engineer (although both are in the family) nor do I have any vested interest in the petroleum industry. I do have a strong background in the biological sciences and was rigorously educated by the old school Jesuits in NOLA at Loyola U. I hold TOD in high regard. The dougr post embodied concerns that many people intuited but could not formulate and thus gained a huge amount of attention. TOD has been assigned a leadership role because it honors diverse viewpoints and is willing to debate an honest proposition.

I have lived on the Gulf of Mexico all my life. I feel as though I am watching mortal illness of a spouse or child, and I want to know *everything* because somewhere there may be the key that brings a reversal to dissolution. I read many source and study so much information ,and I see so many lies of omission.

I hope that all persons of good intent will keep in mind this quote from Albert Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Don't feel bad. People can start to believe their own intelligence too much every day. How the hell do you think we got here?
Here is a list I came up with on the fly to illustrate my point.
Ten reasons why BP is the anti-Christ
1. We are only ten years from the millennium change.
2. This event will run into 2012.
3. I have never seen the Pope and Hayward in the same picture.
4. Hayward and BP have been working on some Sundays. On the non-work Sundays they have been partying or watching races.
5. BP in latin means Beati possidentes - Happy who possesses or takes over the world.
6. A 666 BP of Intron 6 of the human TD02 gene is a marker for psychological disorder. I read on a website where 666 BP upper managers have this marker.
7. I have never seen BP build a church.
8. Phoenix BP phone number is (410) 666-0878
9. In the movie Final Conflict, it is revealed that the anti-Christ will come from the 'Angel' Island or England.
10. The man that has figured out many conspiracies, TinFoilHatGuy, has libraries of information furthering the fact that BP is the Anti-Christ.

BTW: Join us. Come to the good side of the force. I started with an insane underwater casting idea. It was just desperation and maybe a little ethanol.

syn -- Another indication of how the administration may have been poorly advised on the issue of the moratorium: early in the announcement the president said he would ask/require that BP make $100 million available to the oil field workers laid off as a result of the shut down. I mentioned the other day that one of the service companies known for gathering accurate statistics estimated the moratorium would cost 46,000 less those who get work overseas. Can only guess how many would fall into that category but let's assume 6,000. Now let's also assume their estimate is wrong by 2X. So 20,000 will lose their jobs. DW workers make between $30,000 to $180,000 per year. Obvious a larger percentage make closer to the lower end but many of the technical hands make $60,000 or more. Remember these are 12 hours per day and living on the rig for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. For our model lets use $55,000 as the median.

That $100 million pledge looks nice and juicy doesn't it: just sit at home, have a beer and let all that free money roll in. The average one-time payment (whenever it actually shows up) for those 20,000 laid off hands will be $5,000 or a whole lot less than their regular paycheck. And if the number is closer to 46,000 then they'll be getting around $2,500. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick but won't pay the mortgage, car note and groceries for 6 months.

As I said before I don't judge the moratorium as either a good or bad thing. That depends upon one's position in the big picture. It is simple a choice that has to be made. A decision for president Obama that few would envy. But as I stated in the last post I don't think the administration understood the economic impact it would have on an already crippled La. economy. The fact that they touted the $100 million fund as some sort of a great offsetting benefit tells me they didn't have a good handle on the final outcome. Again, the following proposition is made to highlight that the moratorium is not cost free.

On the other side of that choice coin the president had to consider the potential for another disaster like the BP blow out. Certainly the perceived risk is much greater now than before. Not only for the possibility of another blow out but the cold hard fact that shutting off a wild well is much more complicated in these water depths than had been acknowledged. So what are the odds of another such nightmare compared to the odds of inflicting more economic woes on La? I think trying to quantify that number, be it 0.1% or 15% is a fool's game. There isn't a data base of significant size to make that call IMHO. So let's make it easy: assume the odds of another BP type incident occurring in the next 6 months is 100%. What would be the net impact? Granted it would make the situation worse but to what degree? The seafood industry has been crippled. We hear those stories daily. The fishing boats are tied up and will be for who knows how long. The net impact of another spill won't be that great for them...they've already lost most of their livelihood. The beaches and marshes are getting hit with oil now. If 100's of miles of coastal marshlands have been killed by the BP oil can it be killed much more? Most estimate are that the damage to the fishing industry will last years. More pollution won't make it any better, of course, but how much worse?

And if there were another spill in the next few months we have the advantage that the largest force of oil skimming vessels ever amassed in the history of the world are on location right now. And although it has come at a horrible price we have developed something of a learning curve on dealing with capture. And as a safe guard I have no doubt that the 30 or so operators in the DW GOM wouldn't mind paying $1,000,000/day standby charge for two rigs to drill potential relief wells. That's only an added $30,000/day when their average daily costs are around $1 million. I have no doubt they would pay that freight if it kept them drilling.

So even with a 100% chance of another major DW spill it makes a terrible situation worse. But I don't think even the most anti-drilling advocate would try to make a strong case for a 100% probability. So each can chose their own expectation. But there is one probability that no one can argue against: it is 100% certain that the moratorium would inflict a huge economic loss for La. including the loss of over $1 billion in paychecks for the middle class as well as more jobs/incomes lost by folks who survive off of the monies spent by oil field workers. Again, this is neither an argument for or against the moratorium but a clarification of the impact.

And in the spirit of full disclosure the DW drilling moratorium would be of financial benefit to me and my company. In fact, it would be of a greater benefit if the gov't never allowed drilling in the DW GOM or any other areas of the OCS. Any effort that reduced domestic offshore production would increase the value of our reserve base. A side benefit would be reduced drilling costs. As a result of losing offshore contracts the service companies are becoming even more competitive in their bids for onshore jobs. Likewise the skill level of the service company hands will increase as the offshore hands replace the current onshore hands. Just yesterday one of the mud companies told me they had just transferred their most experienced DW hand to work the Marcellus Play in NY. They wanted to keep him on the payroll so they would have him available when the DW picked back up. Of course, the mud engineer he replaced was fired and sent to the house.

I doubt if Obama is fighting too hard to keep the moratorium. He must be for it in case something else goes wrong. If he is forced to lift it, and something does go wrong, he and the taxpayers get a better deal in that LA and MS would have to shoulder more of the consequences.

BP claims to have spent +$2B so far.

It must have an economic stimulus effect for the region.

I want to see the cancelled checks/wire transfers/receipts. Short of that, there's really no accounting for the amount, or where it went.

Well some of my friends are getting $2500/day/boat looking for oil - not cleaning, just looking. I am tempted to take leave from my day job to join them. That's pretty good stimulus. BP will be paying for a lot of business lost to the general recession rather than the oil spill. Hotels/casinos along the Redneck Riviera were already hurting but BP will likely get nailed on losses based on a good season rather than the bleak summer we were already looking at.

The press/govt was horrified when BP asked for evidence of lost income before paying out support in order to reduce fraud. Yes, people around here are well versed in fraud. Many of the fishermen in S Louisiana are also on disability, fortunately commercial fishing is one of the least physically strenuous occupations. I have also heard of (friend of friend type of thing) of continuing to fish while being paid for not fishing.

I am in the region. The only thing stimulated around here is media, politicians, and my patience. Check Washington and then Montgomery, I bet they have more spent per capita there for this mess than all the Gulf Regions combined.

Good point jal. You would think BP would be pushing those numbers out in detail for little good spin they could get out of it.


Your posts are anchored in reality and are very helpful.

Its early in the game ... oil spill damage control first ... second the details of the economic stimulus.

Stories have been told of rig workers doing a two week on the rig and then operating a business during their "off time".

I can add an old story.
When the cod fishery collapsed in Nfd. the fishermen were receiving compensation, had time and money to renovate their houses. The economy receive an economic boost. Yes, there were permanent changes. No doom and gloom.

I envision that the gulf coast fishermen will also see dramatic changes.
However, lets not discount all of the money that is pouring into the gulf.

If I had a house in Florida, that has already lost 50% of its value, and could lose more because of the oil spill, I would be putting a claim for the total loss. The banks have not recognized the 50% lost to date in their books, therefore, the odds are favorable that BP would lose and have to pay up.

The residents of the area can come up with their own scenarios as demonstrated with the following story.


IRS Audits Block 10% of First-Time Homebuyer Credits

The claims in question included about $9.1 million from 1,295 prison inmates, $18.8 million from people who bought homes before the law took effect and $134 million from situations where more than one filer said they bought the same house, the report said.
“Although I am pleased that the fraud identified earlier does not continue, I am concerned about prisoners claiming the credit,” Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said in a statement today. “I am also disturbed by 67 people claiming the credit for a single address and millions of dollars claimed by people who purchased homes before the program started.”


The banks have not recognized the 50% lost to date in their books, therefore, the odds are favorable that BP would lose and have to pay up

that is what I call "lawyer right to work" problem.. This is going to litigate until the cow come home. And what if property value rebounce in 5 years before the lawsuit finally exhaust all the appeal? How do one determine the interim value of loss the value of enjoyment of the ocean etc. Beach is easy to clean up (just remove all the sand and replace it with sand from subsea somewhere.. It is expensive but it can be done relative quick once the oil stop flowing). And ocean can clean up itself quickly.. Lawyers will make tons of money ligtigate the loss but very little will go to the homeowner pocket.

Hey! Get away from my sand! That's my sand! Get your own sand!

Heh. You funny, subsea.

jal -- Growing up in S La I know for a fact we have some of the best crooks/con men in the biz. Fortunately they are a small percent but do garner big headlines. BTW..is Gov Edwards out on work/release yet? LOL. I mentioned it a while back: years ago I knew twin brothers who were offshore mud engineers that worked opposite hitches. The one off hitch would run the other business: a charter fishing boat. A cold irony to think they lost both their income streams in one day.

It good to hear some folks are picking up good day rates for the cleanup even if there are few scamming. I think of that as part of BP's penalty. At least the scammers will be spending there monies in the local economies.

I want to see the cancelled checks/wire transfers/receipts. Short of that, there's really no accounting for the amount, or where it went.

Thank you Rockman! Its just the way of it. Thanks for articulating that so well.

I'm quite sure the technical people will be able to find employment rather easily. Possibly overseas, but there is a huge shortage of technicians in the maritime industry accross the board.

Paul -- I hope you're right. You may have noticed this is a touchy subject for me. Back in the 80's bust with a master's degree and 1o years experience I was driving a yellow cab in Houston when I wasn't delivering food to restaurants. I could have tried for more professional positions but did't want to give up on the oil patch so I just took throw away jobs in between the little consulting I did. I knew two geologists who commited suicide from the stress. And a lot of divorces. For me, as long I could buy a half gallon of Blue Bell now and then I was OK.

I remember all the folks in Houston walking on their homes that had dropped far in price (and the prices did not come back for almost 20 years), the land going for 10 cents on the dollar and yes the suicides and divorces. Because it was not on the East or West Coast it was not a big deal. No bailouts then---but I wish there had been.

Me too - I bought a house in Houston in 1982. It took me until about 1992 to get out from under, still at a loss.

After the 1982 oil bust, I remember whole subdivisions abandoned on the New Orleans West Bank. The just rotted into the ground eaten by Formosan termites and looted for copper.

In the Eighties, we had a deflationary oil & gas collapse in the midst of an overall inflationary economy, while today, we have an inflationary oil sector, within an overall deflationary economy. In the Eighties, the pain of the oil price collapse was very concentrated, while the benefits were very diffuse--gasoline was a few cents per gallon cheaper. Today, the benefits of higher oil prices are very concentrated, while the pain is very widespread.

"I don't think the administration understood the economic impact it would have" Ah the law of unintended consequences yet again when, in this case, politicians take knee jerk reactions in response the to public mood without having considered opinion. For the avoidance of doubt, I'm not suggesting for a minute that this blowout is not significant but surely better to look at things statistically and work out a better approach. I would bet that pretty much every offshore well takes more care with the cement now than two months ago.

If the limits for damage are raised to say $10bn then the chances are that only a handful of companies would be able to drill because insurance will IMHO not be obtainable so they would have to self insure. It would be crazy to allow a small company to self-insure for an amount greater tahn it could afford. It worked out pretty good for AIG with derivatives didn't it?

It is usual with any sort of major problem, e.g. rail crash to have calls for more safety but people usually forget that rail is the safest form of travel and if the intent is to save lives then the money could be more efficiently spent elsewhere e.g. getting more people to travel by train.

Re your standby proposal, how long does it take for a rig to "pull everything up" and make safe before it has not yet reached the oil? If a short period then presumably there must be many rigs currently drilling that could do this at short notice?

Once again many thanks for the tremendous amount of time you have put in here, I'm glad you don't have a proper job to do:-) I've made a small donation just for self interest as I don't want your servers to run slowly.

You're welcome tony. The standby RW would really just be window dressing. No operator would deny the MMS a rig in an emergency IMHO. I always felt BP was a little slow on pulling the trigger for the first RW. Don't know why but I would have been mobing one when I saw the first shot of the BOP flowing all that oil.

"Ah the law of unintended consequences yet again when, in this case, politicians take knee jerk reactions in response the to public mood without having considered opinion."

I don't think it is fair to say the moratorium had much to do with public mood. It may have been knee jerk, but it was to prevent any other catastrophes. You can argue that it was overkill, but you can't say it was irrational.

Or even unnecessary, given the facts that have come out about the state of equipment testing and the identical "response plans" all of the major players have been handing out with their well plans.

When a plane crashes in the military, or even a near catastrophic event because of mechnical failure or poor maintenance occurs, its isn't uncommon for the fleet to be grounded while the systems involved are checked out/ the work force is retrained for safety. This wasn't just an accident that is causing massive destruction for the environment (which a lot of people couldn't care less about), it also killed 11 men. Pausing to check the systems and machinery is not a bit out of line.

6 months may be longer than needed, but the nice thing is that you can always cut it shorter. 6 months was certainly an arbitrary number, but one that sent a very clear signal out that this was serious, and everyone needed to clean house right now.

As far as Rockman's inflammatory arguement goes, it seems a little foolish to believe we have done as much damage as could be done already, what's another out-of-control well? Macondo is in one set of currents that are taking oil to one (wide) area of coastline, but south florida, eastern LA and texas have been in the clear so far. Sealife fleeing the NE gulf have someplace safe if they make it there. The economy of the Texas coast is unaffected so far.

The next well might send its oil in those directions.

Frankly, the oil companies have no one to blame but themselves for this, and the workers should be blaming them long before they get to the government. They did not have a real plan for dealing with a wild well where they were drilling; they had boilerplate for some place with walruses. They put no money into developing spill response systems; you know damn well they could have had a functional system stationed in the gulf and ready to deploy within a few days if it had been a priority. They took shortcuts with safety. BP is the goat here, and maybe they had a higher probability of accident because of their culture, but if the accident had happened with any other company the response and scope of the disaster would have been the same.

Oil is about the most profitable business in the world (that actually makes something); and the bulk of those profits do not go to the people who put their life on the line to make those profits. They can afford to spend some of it on those people for a half year.

"Oil is about the most profitable business in the world (that actually makes something); and the bulk of those profits do not go to the people who put their life on the line to make those profits. They can afford to spend some of it on those people for a half year."

That would be great, but it is doubtful that you can establish BP liability for lost income resulting from a govt. order to shut down. The order is not necessary because of spilled oil, it is necessary because the govt. deems it so in order to minimize the risk factors for another blowout.

If spilled oil caused people to have to shut down, say to avoid a fire or because of a safety hazard posed by the oil, then you could make the connection to BP sufficiently to establish liability.

What distinguishes this moratorium from others where the fleet is shut down is that typically, you use the shut down to find the cause, fix the problem on all affected units and then resume. That makes perfect sense. Here, we already knew about the probelm, but proceeded anyway with no plan to deal with it. And a moratorium will not allow us to cure that problem, unless we make it much longer than 6 months. The most we can do is tighten risk around the edges of the bigger risk we can't cure in the short run.

A shut-down to accomplish that goal is the least we can do, IMO. Although Rockman's underlying point has some validity, i agree another spill would cause a lot more damage all around, including especially to off-shore drilling and all the jobs that go with it.
Look what one "accident" has done to the industry. You can rent a dril rig in the gulf for 40% of what you could 6 months ago. Another one before this one is resolved would result in a total shut-down of the off shore industry until a solution was developed. That could take a couple of years.

Gvernment bureaucrats are fear-driven. Always have been. Fear of public exposure mostly, justified given their chronic laziness, displayed in all it's disgusting ugliness in this regulatory disaster, likely being their root motivation for their knee-jerk on-then-off-then-maybe-on-again moratorium, perhaps along with their concomitant desire to convey an illusion they're actually waking up and doing something useful, when it is increasingly obvious they're floundering around in typical bureaucratic chaos.

Shucks, now I forgot what my main point was ... :)

I'm glad I was just a lowly crane operator for most of my life. It was quite challenging most every day, and fulfilling, even with all the rear end puckering on all those tricky lifts!

In my time I have seen crane operators, dragline operators, back hoe operators etc so skilled at their trade that it boggled the mind to watch them do their thing. I've always wanted to climb onto a dozer or hoe and see what I could wreck.

It's fun as all get out, I tell ya! Heh! Heh!

The "making it worse" in this case might be dead and or chronicaly ill people, species extinction, permanent destruction of small unique communities, even barrier wetland and beyond loss (dead marsh grasses leading to more rapid erosion). None of us know what amount of oil is the tipping point for any of this anywhere.

Somebody's "a little bit worse" is someone else's end of the world.

So we're willing to roll those dice to keep people employed in an industry that clearly has no concept whatever what to do to remedy the current situation, in an industry which appears to have lied and continues to lie about those capabilities, and about the odds of this happening to begin with, and which may well be found to be criminally negligent..?

"... and which may well be found to be criminally negligent..?"

I quite hope so.

Unfortunately said hoped-for finding of criminal negligence wouldn't extend to MMS.

Authority with no accountability.

Yes, government regulators have a nice cushy ego-boosting job.

quizmasterchris wrote:

So we're willing to roll those dice to keep people employed in an industry that clearly has no concept whatever what to do to remedy the current situation . . .

No concept whatever to remedy the current situation? The current collection efforts and the two relief wells don't count as anything at all?

No, they don't. Not good enough.

This is what number attempt to collect the oil? How much of what's been done increased the flow? What was the plan going in (I see there were some references to saving the GoM walruses in the BP plan on file; they appear to have been successful in keeping the Alabama walrus from a single casuality)? Is it all being collected now? Do we even know how much is leaking? Do we even know what % is collected? There doesn't appear to have been a plan for removing a bolt should that have been/be necessary.

What they've been doing with a lot of the oil is spraying dispersant into the stream so it goes we-know-not-where and does we-know-not-what once it gets there. Once oil hits the coast it's abundantly obvious that BP's response has been wholly inadequate.

If your best shot takes a few months of tedious and potentially dangerous (and potentially failed) work, that's not good enough given the consequences. If it takes 3 months to fix a squeaky hinge on a screen door, that's annoying but acceptable. If it takes 3 months to maybe kill a potentially cataclysmic event, you really don't have a handle on the forces you toy with.

Again, I'm not the one who's spent billions of dollars over the past few decades to assure the public, politicians, regulators, academia, etc that I know what I'm doing, that a disater of this sort isn't going to happen, that more drilling of this sort is necessary and safe, and that a plan was in place to deal with any consequences.

quizmaster wrote:

No, they don't. Not good enough.

I didn't say that what BP has done is "good enough" -- nor did YOU merely claim that what BP has done is not good enough. Hence, your entire response is a straw man argument.

What you said was that the industry "clearly has no concept whatever what to do to remedy the current situation" -- and that is obviously a false statement. If the industry had no concept whatever what to do, it would be doing nothing. And that is obviously not the case.

As imperfect and flawed as the effort may be to date, asserting that no one has any concept what to do to remedy the situation is grossly unfair to the many thousands of people working extremely hard to remedy the situation.

I'm impressed that you can listen to Rush and type at the same time.

What are the things BP has done that lead you to believe that they have a handle on the situation? I want a list if we're making that claim. Are we claiming what's happening now is the best we can hope for in response? If that's true, you're making a good argument for no offshore drilling anywhere ever let alone a 6 month moratorium.

BP has been flailing about wildly with a series of failed collection methods and if we take them at their word still isn't sure even how much oil is being released. They have had no better plan for most of the catastrophe than spraying dispersant and hoping the oil doesn't end up somewhere we can see it. When we can see it befouling or approaching the coast it's painfully obvious that they have no plan whatever for containing or removing the spill. "Nothing" is precisely what has happened across miles and miles of coastline.

quizmasterchris wrote:

I'm impressed that you can listen to Rush and type at the same time.

Well, that's really telling me! That certainly refutes every point I made!

quizmaster continued:

What are the things BP has done that lead you to believe that they have a handle on the situation? I want a list if we're making that claim. Are we claiming what's happening now is the best we can hope for in response?

I haven't claimed that BP "has a handle on the situation" -- just as I haven't claimed that what's happening now is the best that can be done. Thus you continue to advance a straw man argument while evading the actual content of what you claimed.

When we can see it befouling or approaching the coast it's painfully obvious that they have no plan whatever for containing or removing the spill. "Nothing" is precisely what has happened across miles and miles of coastline.

Nonsense. It is an utter non sequitur to claim that since some oil is making it to shore in some places, that means nothing is being done to lessen it or slow it down or clean it up.

You continue to smear the thousands of individuals working to stop this spill and clean it up.

The funny thing is I don't even believe you're a "shill" in that shills are paid. I think you're just one of those millions of Americans who've been trained to reflexively carry water for anyone in a position of authority with money.

It is certainly my intent to 'smear' the people responsible for sending clean up crews to photo ops while hundreds of miles of coast get ruined. As for the people down the chain who are happy to get any job at all, anything I say is not nearly as damaging as having them work without proper safety equipment.

Your buddy Tony H. said that the gusher would be "down to a trickle" by now, how's that workin' out? More proof that BP has had a plan all along and the plan is working? Please enlighten us as to how trotting out a half dozen different methods of plugging the well and/or collecting the oil over two months was all part of the industry's master plan for this sort of event.

quizmasterchris wrote:

Your buddy Tony H. said that the gusher would be "down to a trickle" by now, how's that workin' out? More proof that BP has had a plan all along and the plan is working? Please enlighten us as to how trotting out a half dozen different methods of plugging the well and/or collecting the oil over two months was all part of the industry's master plan for this sort of event.

You continue to evade the actual issue by advancing the lamest of straw man arguments. Now your straw man has me being Tony Hayward's "buddy" and posturing as if I have defended his predictions or any other aspect of BP's response -- when I've done neither.

Do you have any actual valid arguments -- that aren't logical fallacies -- to support your claim that "the industry clearly has no concept whatever what to do to remedy the current situation"?

So far, you haven't offered anything to justify the claim that the 2 relief wells being drilled, the current collection system catching about 25,000 barrels a day, the skimmers, the 3.5 million feet of oil boom deployed and the thousands of people working on this all amount to "nothing".

In fact, what qualifies as "nothing" is the logical value of the preposterous straw man arguments you keep inventing and trotting out.

1) There is no telling if or when the relief wells will work. Thus far it has not been possible for them to do anything, and thus far they have not done anything. That is "nothing." If your "last" line of defense (aside from BOPs which apparently have a 45% failure rate when absolutely needed) takes MONTHS to complete, the fact remains that there really isn't any plan in the industry for dealing with this in the interim.

2) The current collection system has not collected 25K barrels/day on average and there's no guarantee that it will continue to do so. The other day for while there there wasn't any cap on the gusher at all. If even
just 5K barrels/day is still being spewed into the Gulf, that's still an absolute "F" for failure for the ecosystem. Nature doesn't grade on a curve, there's pretty much good enough and not good enough. That's simply not good enough. If this is the best anyone can do, it's a great case for halting deepwater drilling until a better system of response is in place. It is painfully obvious that no one has had any plan in place for dealing with this inevitability.

3) The coastal "clean up" has been a much greater hoax than any tinfoil hat (not the poster w/ that name) hoax on here. The booms don't work. Skimming has been woefully slow. We don't know where most of the spill is and we still don't know how large it is. Again, if this is the best the industry can do, "F"s all around.

4) You are clearly defending BP and the oil industry and you have in every thread you've participated in.

Instead of wasting time posting here, and buying search terms on Google, don't you BP boys have something more important that needs attention?


It would seem that there is little that can be done to directly confront the primary risk here in the next year or so without giving up all DW drilling. (Although lots can be done around the edges to address the risk.)

And while we may be able to do without the oil, giving up all of those DW related jobs in the midst of a disaster taking lots of other jobs makes it an especially costly solution in terms of human costs and the impact on the region. It's a solution that causes a lot of damage, very real damage to an area and population already reeling from the damage done by the spill.

Unless you can do something as a result of a moratorium that will directly eliminate the risk, or substantially reduce it, any moratorium is an exercise in line-drawing and balancing actual human costs vs. potential environmental costs/risks.

A logical balance is to determine what can be done to minimize risk in the short term, shut down DW until some of these things are done, and then allow rigs to resume drilling upon certification that they have done the upgrades in equip., procedures and training. You want to target that if possible so you can roll out the most important changes asap and get the risk donw as much as you can as quickly as you can so operations can resume in a time frame that have minimal impact on the industry infastructure and workforce.

Because the reality is we are not going to give up oil off-shore drilling or the risks that come with it, and a 6 month moratorium is not going to offer a cure for the probles that come with that. That means line-drawing. Might as well be honest about that and draw the lines in the most sensible manner given what you are really balancing. Lower the risk as much as you can as quickly as you can.

Because the worst outcome here would be to do the human damage without really having accomplished much if anything more in terms of risk reduction than what a more targeted approach that did not cause so much human damage would have accomplished. Again, the moratorium is 6 months as proposed. One year out from now, will the human cost have been worth it for the extra safety achieved during that 6 month period, since DW drilling will resume anyway.

I don't have the numbers to make that calculation, but it would seem the scales are tipped against a blanket moratorium in favor of another approach that achieves real risk reduction without so much human damage.

It is noteworthy that I believe 5 of the 7 experts on Salazar's panel whose report provided a good chunk of the evidentiary basis for the moratorium in court disagreed with the moratorium as proposed and siad the risk did not warrant it, and that a more targeted moratorium was more appropriate.

The judge also noted that under its existing authority, MMS can shut every DW rig down now and not allow any to resume drilling again until they certify they have made any changes MMS deems need to be made to increase safety. Each rig would have to certify those changes before being allowed to resume drilling, and of course MMS could do inspections.

It seems like a more reasonable approach than just shutting down for an arbitrary period of time, especially when it allows you to address the risk in a manner that minimizes human damage. It's a more honest approach, too. Just shutting down for 6 months will not make the problem go away, pretending it will is silly.

syn -- that's interesting to hear the judge's point about the MMS having authority to shut down drilling at an admistrative level. I had always heard that across a galley table but wasn't sure what the written rules were. Back to that nagging question: did they administration know they had the power to stop DW drilling and called moratorium for political gain or were they just ignorant of their power? If I had to guess I wouldn't accuse them of playing politics...they just didn't know their own abilities to handle the situation. They could have shut down every DW drilling ops the day after the BP well blew out and had a complete and through shake down. I really feel the WH just didn't have enough direct contact with the folks who knew how to respond. Or maybe those folks were to afraid to raise their hands. I just keep having this bad feeling that there's still too much miscomminication going on even today.

Another theory: I think the moratorium was a (successful) attempt to get the judicial branch to share the blame. Now, whichever way it goes, the WH cannot be blamed completely for the results.

btw: I dont see this as a bad thing. It also says a lot for the WH using checks and balances to verify major decisions, and, incidentally, has allowed more transparency to a creepily opaque catastrophy.

Here, Rockman, now you can quote the citation next time it comes up!

There is no suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives:

for example, an individualized suspension of activities on target rigs
until they reached compliance with the new federal regulations said
to be recommended for immediate implementation.

Indeed, the regulations themselves seem to contemplate an individualized
determination by authorizing the suspension of “all or any part of
a lease or unit area.” 30 C.F.R. §250.168. Similarly, OCSLA permits
suspension of “any operation or activity . . . pursuant to any
lease or permit.” 28 U.S.C. §1334(a)(1).

Yeah, they miscalculated. They did try to narrowly target it, though. And they are being responsive and recalibrating. They deserve credit for that at least. And don't forget, all the complaints that obama was not being presidential enough, not taking control, how the govt. should be in charge and control. That's when the moratorium came out and probably why they chose that more dramatic vehicle than the boring existing regulations.

Too bad so little of that has anything to do with preventing the actual oil that is now in the Gulf from reaching the shore.

Political posturing and dramatic effect are about all they've got to offer. Not much in the way of "get-r-done"-type actual experience that would make a difference.

Too many lawyers, and they're not absorbent enough to soak up much oil. Of course, I don't have the scientific tests to prove this. Maybe we could launch an experiment...

More pollution won't make it any better, of course, but how much worse?

Rocky, I have to disagree with the underlying theme that things are so bad that nothing could make matters worse.

First of all, given your assumption that there is another blowout within 6 months, we are already strapped trying to stop one well. Adding another would be foolhardy.

Second, about 40% of the GOM is closed to fishing. My relatives are in South Texas... they are still fishing there the last time I heard. So... add another 80KBD gusher and maybe 100% of the GOM is closed. And, the wetlands there in Aransas County are every bit as fragile as the ones in So. La.

Let's make sure the regulations are sufficient. Let's be certain that every precaution is taken, and no shortcuts, no hedging on investment in safety, and no downgrading in human resources, either in talent or in necessary numbers.

Now, I agree with the Judge in the moratorium case. There is no indication that all of these things cannot be done in a week or two. So, why haven't they been done in 2 months? Who is responsible for all the foot dragging?

I suspect that, as is usual in politics and economics, there is plenty of blame to be shared here. You probably know my view of politicians and big business. The question that I have is, "How do we get these guys to understand that we don't want a bunch of b.s. We need to see action! If they are not a part of the solution, then they are part of the problem, and they need to go. Send in the substitutes, and get this thing shut down. Meanwhile, find improvements on capture and deploy them. When we see that this is happening, we will all sleep better.

One other thing... thank you again for all of the time, thought and effort you have expended. I, at least, watch for your comments and have learned much!


Just a bit of hyperbole Craig. Really just wanted to stir up the conversation more than convince anyone one way or the other. I really prefer to hear well thought out altenatives to any ideas I might toss out. My ego can handle it most of the time. And when it can't there's always my best friend to comfort me, Ms. Blue Bell.

If you're ever going to be in the uptown / arts district area in Dallas, give me a shout and it will be my treat.


Rachel Maddow pointed out recently that all of the spill response plans for all of the drilling companies rely on the same equipment base, which is now more-than-fully-committed to cleaning up the present spill.

So the judge in the moratorium case is telling deepwater drillers they can work without that (admittedly poor and porous) safety net. Which seems to me to be an extremely foolhardy move by the judge. Until the current cleanup is largely done, or until more cleanup resources are assembled, more deepwater drilling is . . . well, there's that old definition of insanity: repeating the same behavior that got you into trouble and expecting different results.

One element is glaringly absent from Rockman's analysis, the single most important element of all (yes, even for people who work in the oilpatch): the effect of this postulated second "spill" on the marine environment.

That's the element that is routinely omitted from serious discussion in these threads. The fact of this repeated omission suggests that a dangerously reductionist and narrow worldview may prevail here—anthropocentrism.

I strongly suggest that all here add ecology to your reading-list subject indices. In the current circumstance, here's an excellent title for the top of the list:

Earle, Sylvia A.
The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's are One
Washington, National Geographic Society, 2009


As I keep saying, the ocean is not too big to fail. If it does, we all go with it.

Excellent kall...just one of the reponses I was fishing for (pun intended). Really...I rather let folks tote their own water then to stick my nose too far into areas outside from my knowledge base. As I said earlier one thing I really like about TOD is its diversity.

Excellent points. Myself, I'd shut new DW down completely until the leak is stopped, and things are restored to "better than before" as Tiny Tony was until recently promising in his smarmy little boy-voice. Poster above mentioned insanity and working without safety net. Good God people, if this unmitigated catastrophe doesn't wake you up, wtf will?

A stimulating post indeed, on many levels. One is the scale of cleanup--I don’t think we really have a sense of what may be required.

First, consider barrier beaches. They offer a sacrificial layer of sand, are nearly two dimensional, and have a predictable tidal cycle of deposition. On a small scale, we can clean oiled beaches pretty well:
This gives cause for optimism about local damage. But on a large scale, can we mount the effort needed to keep up? The Pensacola Beach video from 23-Jun-10 is sobering:
This just begins to lift the veil on how bad things could get. Soon. Without hurricanes.

The Ixtoc I case suggests what happens if we just let ‘er rip without much cleanup.
TODer subsea mentions Ixtoc tar deposits (perhaps from oil scraped and foolishly buried in trenches dug in the beach) now being exposed by normal shifting beach sands along the Campeche coast:

In contrast, I’m not aware of any grounds at all for optimism about cleaning marshes, bays, and estuaries.

We need a pro forma scenario analysis: Scenarios would include several versions of the Macondo 252 blowout gushing at the current and worst-case flow rates, for several periods before bottom kill. Other scenarios would add one or more other blowouts.

Then pencil in some metrics to make it meaningful. How much of the Macondo flow can be captured directly to vessels until the end of each scenario period? How much surface slick will vaporize? How much can be biodegraded by microbes? Consumed by controlled burns? Can be captured by skimmers? How much can be expected to come ashore on barrier beaches? How much in marshes-bays-estuaries? What manpower and machinery would be needed to scrape the barrier beaches under each scenario? What else can we measure/estimate and integrate into the scenarios?

IMO a quick run at such scenarios would show that things could be so much worse that we’d agree to render worse outcomes less likely by a quick scrub of the existing operations.


I'm not very concerned about the beaches. Of course from an economical perspective, clean beaches are important to attract tourism. But from an ecological perspective the damages on the beaches is relatively small after a clean up. The cleaning up of beaches is very labor intense, but it can be done the whole year through (baring cyclones).

The real value and danger to it in this spill are the salt marshes and the estuaries. From an emotional standpoint, one could point at the millions of migrating and domestic birds that depend on the marshes and estuaries. Looking at oil stained birds is really depressing.

But the real stake is in the amount of biomass created there; shells, worms, larvae, the fish nurseries, etc. They form the cradle of live and a massive input for many ecosystems in the Gulf.

That is why it is paramount to prevent oil from coming in these sensitive areas. 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. But that is with relatively small spills compared to this one.
It is a huge experiment on which the outcome only really can be known years after the fact.

Roger from the Netherlands.

I would agree Roger except for one fact, concentrating on marshes right now is attacking only a small percent of the problem. Maybe that is the percent we can do the most good with, but I will explain. The oil has contaminated maybe 1000 miles of coastline (adding for islands) to maybe 50 feet max in most places? What percent area does that represent of the total area contaminated by oil? The marshes get little play because we do not see them very much. The Gulf is getting almost no play because we cannot see that without special equipment and do not know what to look for anyways. I will worry about the marshes very soon, but right now I am worried about the GOM itself and the sea life.

Good points, Roger.

Please don't forget, however, that unprecedented (in this context) amounts and concentrations of O/G are being injected into, and drifting through, the benthic, demersal and pelagic zones (and various sub-zones, if you like) of the marine ecosystem. We know less about the possible effects of this pollution than we do about the effects on the beaches and in the marshes, but we *do* know about certain potentially-serious consequences. And it would be foolhardy in the extreme to assume that what we don't know cant' hurt—us and the environment we are dependent upon.

Reply to both TinFoilHatGuy & Kalliergo,

You have both a valid point here. It is a fact that a huge amount of O/G is dispersed and floating around at various depths in the water column: http://gulfblog.uga.edu/. Also several reports of measured oxygen depletion points in this direction. Although nobody knows how much oil is staying under the surface.

The thing is that very limited resources are available to clean the oil right now. That is the reason one has to pick parts of the Gulf to clean first. And put the limited resources as efficiently as possible to work.
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.

On the oil in the water column; indeed the lasting effects are unknown. But the fact is that all though the gulf is all water, the ecosystems in the various layers mostly only interact indirectly between them. The organic matter is largely created at depths the sun can reach because of the photosyntheses there. From there, the organic matter seeps down to the lower ecosystems.
So the negative effects of the oil at great depths will also probably largely be only felt at the deep water ecosystems concerned.
We as humans are much more dependent on the ecosystems in the upper layer. For fishery etc.

The real question remains: what is causing the dispersing of the oil at various depths in the water column?
1) Is it caused by the physical nature of the oil/gas mixture being released on great depths? or
2) Is this caused by the huge usage of dispersant at the well?
3) Or maybe a mixture of both?

And if it is caused by 2) should BP stop this? So we can skim up the oil? Or are we then really run over by a huge amount of oil on the beaches, marshes, etc.

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...

But the fact is that all though the gulf is all water, the ecosystems in the various layers mostly only interact indirectly between them.

I suggest that "only" is a misleading and inappropriate modifier, here. The very essence of ecology is our growing awareness and understanding of the sometimes profound effects of indirect interactions.

So the negative effects of the oil at great depths will also probably largely be only felt at the deep water ecosystems concerned.

That seems, to me, to be a hasty conclusion drawn on the basis of inadequate evidence. Furthermore, "the oil at great depths" suggests suggests vertical stability of oil in the water column and it is quite certain that any such stability will be temporary; we just don't know *how* temporary—yet.

3) Or maybe a mixture of both?

I think Joye and other similarly-engaged researchers would agree that your number 3 is most likely.

And if it is caused by 2) should BP stop this? So we can skim up the oil? Or are we then really run over by a huge amount of oil on the beaches, marshes, etc.

Fact is that skimming is the best way to clean up the oil.

It seems clear that you are correct in this assessment. Skimming (and, as a backup, competent booming) are really the only ways we have to clean up oil before it reaches shore. Sadly, the industry and our government appear to have utterly failed, both in preparing in advance for such operations and in organizing an effective response in the two months since the catastrophe began.

I expect that, as the magnitude of the environmental damage associated with this gusher is understood over time, the profound failure to prepare and implement effective cleanup operations will loom as large as cheapskate well designs, haphazard BOP testing, and the incomprehensible failure to watch the mud returns.


I have some answers, from Joye: http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/oceans/ES_Joye.mp3

Plume of cloud; is not thick oil, but a mist of oil and natgas.

Size of one of them: one is 300 meters thick 10 by 20 miles wide.
Others are out there, size not known.

Cause of plume:
-O/G mix released at water depth 5000 feet
-cold water
-forced out at very high felocity
-through a small orifice: 21 inch pipe
-fractionating it into small particals of 1/100 of microns.

The surface tension that is holding the particals down
is greater than the buoyancy force that wants to push up
the particals to the surface. (Roger: no comment on dispersant)

Previous reseach:
Weeks to months to stay under (Roger: no comment if it will come up)
We do not know the biodegration forces at work in the Gulf.

NatGas Vulcano: not likely because the sea water does not flow into
the well.

Methane Vulcano: not if you do not try to blow up the well.

Ruptures in the sea floor: no credible data on this,
but many natural seeps.

Good summary, Roger.

Joye and her team are near the top of my list of people to follow on these issues.


Is is a fact that, the ecosystems in the various layers mostly interact indirectly between them.
"As primary productivity is strictly limited to the photic zone and decay of
organic matter is pursued in the deeper water masses of the oceanic system, the
distribution of many elements exhibits a strong vertical gradient" :


But you are surely right in saying that it could ultimately have a profound impact on the upper layers in the water column. If the lower layers become oxygen depleted, the decaying processes of the matter that seeps down could be stopped.
And that would also stop the nutrient cycles between the deep layers and the photic zone.

While I personally doubt that this will happen due to the enormous size of the deep water, you are right that I cannot draw definitive conclusions on that.

Thank you for correcting me on that one!

"It is a fact that, the ecosystems in the various layers mostly interact indirectly between them."

Yes, I know it is. My objection was to the use of the modifier, "only," which, in English, tends to suggests a lessened or minimal effect. It's OK—it's a subtle difference, and the English is the second most-incomprehensible language on the planet, after Dutch. ;^)


That is also the reason why I usually put the "Roger from The Netherlands" as a signature under my comments. In the early days of the http://theoildrum.blogspot.com/ my mental capabilities sometimes where challenged because of my English writing disabilities ;-)

I try to keep up with you natives, but it is hard for a Dutchy!

Roger with several ethanols behind the molars right now ;-)

"skimming. . . booming. . . really the only ways we have to clean up oil"

If Allen correctly estimated the amount of oil in the oil-water mix being collected by skimmers, in situ burning has removed 3-4 times as much oil as skimming. That ratio may or may not have changed significantly with the arrival of European equipment, but nobody has enough sense to ask. However much oil is escaping from the cap today is probably several times greater than the amount skimmed today. But you are certainly right about "profound failure to prepare and implement effective cleanup operations."

Samantha Joye has said emphatically that the subsurface plumes would have formed to some extent without subsea dispersant. Frankly we might be grateful that the oil is down there rather than on the surface where the responders have shown no ability whatever to shrink the slick.

Maybe what they should have done is boom a five-mile perimeter around the Enterprise and work the inside of it with the most efficient skimmers.

Edit: I guess 5 miles isn't near big enough to clear the congested area, which has a 30-mile circumference.


As the data slowly but surely keeps rolling in, I tend more to the conclusion that you guys where f@cked from the beginning of this spill. It is really unprecedented in every aspect.

-The size of the oil spill and the contaminated shores is incredible huge. Even if there was a real skimming response organization available with the best skimmers around, it could not have prevented a devastating impact.

-The dispersant is indeed not mainly responsible for the distribution of the spill. All though extensive research will be needed to be able to decide if the usage of dispersant at the well head is indeed wise to do.

The only thing that lasts is to try to use the available resources and options at its best.

You are completely right that in situ burning is one of the options that should be used. I will add it to my list.

But all this does not justify the fact that foreign help is still "under consideration"

Roger from The Netherlands

Something I've noticed on marinetraffic.com is that the ship with the Koseq skimmer arms travels at only 1.2 knots, I guess that's around 2 km/hour. Even with a wingspan of 160 feet, it will take eons to cover 1/4 of the Gulf at that rate.


No berms. It will take too long to build them--weeks--and if they're complete enough to keep out the oil, then they'll keep out ocean water too. In other words, berms will kill the circulation which is part of the marshes' existence. Do you put a plastic bag over your head when there's smoke in the air? No, you use a barrier which has at least some permeability.

The best answer is to boom the inlets, even the big ones. Too much boom has been wasted on open beaches. Of course the beaches need protection, but this is a triage situation, where our resources are dwarfed by needs. Therefore, we target the resources toward areas of maximum effectiveness, which in this case are the passages to the marshes.

Coastal marshes depend on constant communication with the open water for their existence. They're rich biocommunities tuned to the in- and outflow. By damming off those inlets, we no less surely condemn the marshes to death--by starvation, asphyxiation and salt imbalance. This is on top of the fact that a storm of any severity will likely remove anything we build anyway. Booms at least can be quickly replaced (and removed in anticipation of the storm) in such an event (one is brewing right now, Invest 93 east of Yucatan).

The booms need to be constantly tended for wave and wind conditions, and the oil captured and removed. You don't just toss boom in the water and let it sit there--that's guaranteed failure. Building berms across the inlets is a classic example of the cure being comparably bad to (or worse than) the disease.


If one would block the entire marshes, they indeed will die.
Again, what is needed is a strategy:

The sand barriers must close MOST of the water inlets to the marshes. You need the water to be able to flow in and out. So breaches are needed. In front of the breaches, boom and skimmers must be deployed to keep the oil from getting in.

Boom is unfortunately not effective to keep oil out. The oil just washes over with the waves that are always present at the shores, even with little wind.
Unlike the boom, the sand barriers will, like the beaches, capture a lot of oil, that is the main point.

Yes, it will take a long time to build, but the well also takes its time to spill, it could go on for months and even longer!

The US Coast Guard does agree with my proposal. As you can see the sand barriers will be build (or at least it will be tried):


Roger from The Netherlands

There is nothing more important than clean beaches. The livelyhood of thousands and thousands of hotel workers depend on clean beaches.

TODer subsea mentions Ixtoc tar deposits (perhaps from oil scraped and foolishly buried in trenches dug in the beach) now being exposed by normal shifting beach sands along the Campeche coast:

Can't say one way or the other about scraping, but saw a CNN story where oil is already being buried by new sand coming ashore in Pensacola. Read today that a guy was digging 10 inches deep, consistently encountering a 1-inch thick black band of fresh oil and/or oil-saturated sand at the 6-inch mark. That's at least part of what happened here. If we get this storm in the gulf, that oughta send enough swells over here to expose the stuff from Ixtoc and I'll post some pictures. Or I guess I could go dig it up. Dolphins and Kemp's Ridleys are fairly common here now and they show up 15 feet away when I'm out surfing -the fin scares the hell out of you before you realize they're porpoising - so in the Case of Ixtoc, there was a slow recovery. Now, if we get any oil from this it will be highly weathered from it's trip by the Yucatan, but the current will shift come winter, and that might be a different story if they don't get the gusher plugged by then.

Excellent post, shelburn. The well diagram is the best I've seen and I need to study it.

Point of interest: It's been pointed out elsewhere that dougr's alarmist comment of June 13 on TOD (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6593#comment-648967), given publicity in Mother Jones (http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/worst-already-true-BP-well-no...), largely duplicates one at http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1097505/pg1 by "SHR" on June 12. So we can assume that "dougr" and "SHR" are one and the same.

Unlike dogur's comment on TOD, SHR's posting at godlikeproductions includes some photos, one of them of an inclinomoter of unknown provenance. I haven't figured out how to put pictures inline in a comment here, so I've posted that photo to http://imgur.com/j4j4C for your viewing pleasure.

Incidentally, to put another recent alarmist meme to rest, I ran through the numbers to see what thickness of sandstone it would take to cap a methane gas bubble with a pressure of 100,000 PSI. If my numbers are right the answer is 18 miles of rock. So I don't think we have to worry that 100,000 PSI may be trapped only 1.6 miles beneath the seabed at the bottom of the Macondo well.

The picture is a "bullseye", one of several the ROVs have been checking since the videos were available. They are standard equipment on subsea wellheads, BOPs and LMRPs.

The inclinometer that DougR referenced was a "black box" the ROVs have been pressing against the side of the BOP/LMRP/riser.

I was thinking about the methane bubble. It seems all we have to do is drill 100,000 feet into a 100,000 psi formation and then we should have all the NG necessary to sustain our lifestyles and BAU for the next hundred years.

Lets spud tomorrow - drill, baby, drill.

I remember a movie from the 70's where the company in the movie drilled into the inner crust of the earth and created a geothermal power system. Of course, it created a supervolcano that went out of control and destroyed humanity.

I remember a movie from the 70's where the company in the movie drilled into the inner crust of the earth and created a geothermal power system. Of course, it created a supervolcano that went out of control and destroyed humanity.

Crack in the World, 1965, starring Dana Andrews:

The whole film is on Google Video:

I watched it a couple weeks ago; it's actually pretty good. The science is way out of date--the film was made before plate tectonics had become well established. But the early part, in which scientists and government folk are arguing about the wisdom of messing around that deep underground, seems eerily prescient. (BTW, only a chunk of humanity is destroyed--but we end up with a new, second moon as the earth blows off a huge section of its crust.)

And then there was the time in the early 1950's, when they drilled to 13,200 feet (the deepest well in the world) and found the home of the Mole Men.

Even then, the evil oil drillers tried to stop the press from discovering the truth.

Luckily, Superman was there to prevent them from going to war with the surface dwellers.

Superman and the Mole Men

Never mind.

all we have to do is drill 100,000 feet into a 100,000 psi formation and then we should have all the NG necessary

People from three offices down came running in to see if I needed help.


Do you know whether we are seeing bubbles or balls in the bullseyes? I've seen both terms used. Bubbles ride to the higher side when there is a tilt, balls (or mercury) roll to the low side, so they would be 180 degrees different in showing the direction of the lean.

Also, thanks for taking the time to address dougr's comment in detail, our earlier scattered responses didn't seem to have much effect.


Myself, I wouldn't want to see what happens when a little gas bubble in the bullseye at an ambient pressure of 2240 PSI is taken to the surface, so I'd assume it's a solid, maybe a polypropylene bead in water. Mercury? But that could contaminate the pristine seabed environment!

Perhaps it's just a simple steel ball bearing???

They are balls. Bubbles don't work well at 5,000 or 10,000 feet. They tend to compress so either the level glass breaks, the instrument deforms so its worthless, or the bubble compresses (150 x) so you can't see it.

thanks for that.

Ball bearing in a little plastic collar. Yellow in this case for contrast.

Most of what is being said at this time is speculation about what might happen.
But, all the methane gas will take a toll on life in the gulf.
Check back in 10 years to see what is left......

Most of what is being said at this time is speculation about what might happen.
But, all the methane gas will take a toll on life

Man you got that right, sad about the gas, but that's life in capitalist hell.

I, for one, think that DougR's post made a lot of sense. It certainly explains why the top kill did not work. If I remember right, BP engineers had been stating that the pressure drop across the BOP was still very high. If that is the case, then the mud should have traveled down the well and killed the flow. The hypothesis that DougR put forward is that the mud leaked out part way down the well and thus could not travel down deep enough to provide enough weight to kill the well. This hypothesis is coherent.

DougR's theory also is supported by BP's collection of oil and gas before the BOP, which, by reducing pressure before the BOP, would help to prevent the leaking oil/gas from eroding the well where it is leaking from the casing, thus preventing the leaking oil/gas and further compromising the well.

While the casing is likely compromised down somewhere deep below the wellhead, it does not necessarily mean, though, that the BOP will tip over or that the well will collapse. It does increase the possibility.

Making a list of questions for BP is pointless. If they have been lying up to this point, why would they answer truthfully now???


You might notice I didn't challenge his description of the top kill.

As Rockman would say - there is a 50/50 chance that the well is leaking into a formation somewhere. My personal belief is that it is more likely that there is an underwater blowout than not.

But there is no evidence that leakage is finding its way to the seabed and considerable evidence that it is NOT blowout at the seabed near the BOP. That was the entire premise of DougR's claim the BOP was going to tip over.

I think I have asked this before, and don't remember seeing an answer.

If there is a blowout somewhat lower in the well, how will that impact the relief well efforts? If they cut in above the blow out, wouldn't the mud just flow out where the oil is leaking, thus preventing the cement from sealing off the well? And, if they must go below the blow out, how much mud, exactly, must there be to balance the flow and allow the cement to set up? Is there a point at which, no matter what they do, they cannot cap this thing?

I certainly hope the answer to my last question is a resounding, "No." OTOH, I and others have noted a certain Mr. Murphy's presence.


zap -- There are some materials (lost circulation) that could help plug off an underground blow out. But it's all a matter of degrees as to how much LCM can help. I've seen folks literally cut up gunny sacks and pump them down with no positive results. I suspect the biggest challenge will be for them to figure out exactly what the problem might be. They could start pumping the kill pill and easily not get the result they had anticipated. But why? So many possibilities and so few options to sort it out. They might get it killed within 48 hours from the beginning of the kill. But they may be there weeks trying different approaches. Having all those csg strings and different cmt shoes as well as possible csg ruptures makes this so much more complicated than an open hole kill. That process would be a walk in the park compared to what they're up against now IMHO.


You say DougR's post makes sense then follow with comments like "This hypothesis is coherent" and "DougR's theory also is supported by BP's collection of oil and gas before the BOP...."

You then follow with a; "While the casing is likely compromised down somewhere deep below the wellhead, it does not necessarily mean, though, that the BOP will tip over or that the well will collapse. It does increase the possibility."

Tell us where your knowledge and experience base lies in order that we may also make sense of DougR's post. Hypothesis, theory and hyperbole wil get you nowhere in this arena so tried and true physics applications will sway me and many others.

In regard to an earlier post on the riser supporting the BOP the truth is that it's the reverse. The BOP supports the riser and with the riser gone the BOP is more stable. It's possible the riser to the BOP was bent when the DH rig sank and the riser collapsed. It's probable based on the junior engineer Brian Morel's comment on casing hanging straight that the BOP was out of plumb by a couple of degrees before the blowout. It's highly unlikely the blowout, DH rig sinking or the lateral pressure caused by the casing above the BOP collapsing would have moved the well casing one minute.

Do you have any idea how much force it took to fold the 22" casing connected to the top of the BOP? If you can get the calcs on that then you have a good idea on the structural condition (not functional) of the BOP and and well casing.

I have many years experience connecting pieces of metal with molten metal. I have a good idea on what it takes to pull it apart. I have a good idea on the benefits of a tractor and chain when applied to the removal of ones head out of their backside when addressing conspiracy theory/rumor. It's really Okay to say ***I don't know*** rather than make up the answer. I've found it beneficial to read prior threads and in doing so the pros here at TOD..Shelburn, HO, Rockman etc will save me lots of typing.

As much as I don't like some of the actions taken by BP, USCG, advisors or the Obama administration, I don't think it appropriate for BP or any other agency to do a time-out demonstration i.e. remove the ROV's from around the BOP so it can be proven there are no supposed leaks from supposed substrate cracks.

DougR's hypothesis is that the casing integrity is compromised at a joint between two casings which are sealed by cement. It is possible that the cement joint may have been damaged due to ingress of natural gas when the cement was poured, or perhaps during the initial explosion and collapse of the riser. No matter how much stress that the falling riser may have had on the leaking joint (assuming that this is what is going on), because of weeks of leaking natural gas/crude oil and the sand which it carries with it, this leak will eikely continue to worsen due to erosion. For these reasons, DougR's hypothesis makes a lot of sense.


Thank you, Shelburn, for the informative and thoughtful post.

I agree with you that you will never change the beliefs of the conspiracy buffs. To them, when BP speaks, it is always a lie, and when BP does not speak, it is always a cover up.

BP has lots of reasons to be "cautious" with the truth.

Get real. It'll all end up in the courts.

Unlike the government, the media, any special interest groups, and the millions of blogs and websites that only deal in facts, reason, intellectual honesty, and total objectivity.

Yep, those, too.

The only fact we seem to know for sure is that there are millions of gallons of oil (and methane gas and dispersants) being injected into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

That fact (indisputable) should keep everyone fairly well occupied.

I agree with you there. It is, what it is. Only time and lots of long term analysis will measure the true toll. All the angst in the would will not stop the leak or clean up the mess. That's is just a slow complicated ta day by day operation. The good thing about not trusting the company(any company) or any in the government or its agencies is that it provides a limitless opportunity to anybody to claim he or she is the only one who knows what is going on or for that person to create any doomsday scenario they please, no matter what their knowledge, level of expertise, ability to analyze data, or limited data access. Ah, the days of the internet and 24/ "news'......at least it provides some cheap comic relief.
Always fun to see how many people do not know what they do not know!

I can't speak for BP folks but when I contacted some old friends still in the "patch" they all laughed at the idea that anyone would spend time reading sites such as TOD-(some had been partners with BP). They said that most people were too busy working and added they hoped my leg problem would heal soon so I could get back to engaging in more my productive hiking, biking, and other retirement pursuits!

I will say that it is nice to have folks like Rockman, Shelburn and the other technical guys take their time to post facts and insights related to the operations and help to clarify some of the subsea stuff. Won't change the ideas of some who have latched on to certain beliefs. But that's okay.

and then there are others who when BP speaks, it is always the truth, and when BP does not speak, it is never a cover up.

Guest, are you referring to Ma and Pa Strawman?

Guest wrote:

and then there are others who when BP speaks, it is always the truth, and when BP does not speak, it is never a cover up.

There may be such people, but I've not seen anyone here make that claim. I have, however, seen plenty of people taking pretty much the opposite position.

Not the best video of the BOP on you tube, But it clearly shows the "tilt" is down at the well head and the Bullseye ball is hard to the outer edge, so the tilt has to be greater than the range of that Bullseye. To save boredom if you watch from about min 4:00 you get a good look at the Bullseye then the seabed around the wellhead and then a flight up the BOP stack.


The range of most of those bulleyes is about 3 or 5 degrees maximum and the USCG has already stated the tilt is about 10 to 12 degrees.

I would sure like to have someone ask Allen again about the tilt angle. Even with the ROV camera distortion the shots at the bottom of the BOP looked like its tilt was more of the 5 degree range. Allen was talking interchangeably about the LRMP and BOP.Clarification would be nice.

Bottom bullseyes are 2 degree models.

Middle = 5 Degrees.

Both have been confirmed with the manufacturer.

Top Bullsye(s) is unknown.. there has been no photos videos of it to my knowledge.

The bottom bullseye has been maxed out since at last june 10th.

The middle bullseye showed a lean of 3 degrees on June 10th.

More info here: http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2010/06/11/confirmed-gulf-oil-spill-bop...

Thanks for the link

I am glad our water sources are 9 wells a couple of miles inland, and the water is tested for organic compounds daily. Is there a quick dip test I can do on my own? I have a pur filter on my faucet, but I imagine that is for taste more than health. I guess I need to use the bottled stuff.

Young man I advise sniffing it.
Always worked for me.

About three weeks ago I mentioned an older magazine article that contained technical info on the ROV arms we keep seeing in the video feeds. This month that same magazine, SERVO, has a cover article all about the ROVs themselves. I just finished reading through it and found it to be pretty good - some of the BP-supplied system diagrams are old hat now but the ROVs are really incredible.

For anyone that is interested, it's the July issue. www.servomagazine.com


(Disclosure: I was formerly the technical editor of this mag but I no longer have a financial connection to it.)

Hi all, this is my first post on TOD after being a long time lurker of about 4 years.
There has been a lot of interest in ROVs all of a sudden because of the spill, and some of the comments regarding ROVs and their capabilities here over the past few weeks have been informative and accurate, others, uh, less so. I say this as someone who works directly with ROVs and knows them pretty well.

I had intended to post earlier but the rate of turnover of threads was so high, things always seemed to have moved on by the time I spotted a post I wanted to correct or add to. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is I'll try to address anyone's ROV related questions and otherwise continue to enjoy and learn from TOD.


Thank you so much for the offer. I have been looking up information on teh ROVs since the spill. Started with Oceaneering. My main interest is in the work and heavy work versions of ROVS.
If you are on comments and I have a question, I will pop up and ask. I am on the IRC. I have a thing about being accurate.
I am in awe of the ROV pilots, navigators and manipulator operators.

"Venezuela's government has seized control of 11 oil rigs owned by U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne, which shut them down because the state oil company was behind on payments.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez announced that Venezuela would nationalize the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company's rigs."


A request to the President, the Gulf Governors, MMS, USCG, and of course BP.

I do not want MORE legislation either. At least the feelgood kind. Why is there a Genocide Treaty? To end genocide or to deal with it the next time it happens?

From yesterday on the beach where I took my photos.

My friend got a job cleaning up. The plan is to bury the oil that comes ashore and dig it up at the end of the season. I do not like this plan, but maybe it is the way to go.


Thank you for the photos. I was upset (but not surprised) that there is very little coverage of this in mainstream media. Last night when you posted this there was absolutely nothing on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Huffington, etc... I would think they would have had this as top billing.

Then there were rumours in local media and youtube that it dissapeared (pnj.com). Some attributed this to workers cleaning it up, some to bulldozing over it (there was a you tube video of a bulldozer on the beach sitting idle), and some to a tide depositing sand on top of it. Can you confirm or deny any of these rumours? Is it really gone? Where did it go?

They are bulldozing it under. I will get video, I have to catch them. They are hiding as much as possible. Doing it at night, etc.

Edit: They are collecting much of it though. That oily sand is taken to the asphalt company to make road topping. From what I understand, it is about the same toxicity as hot asphalt topping. I am sure there is much I do not understand about it.

That oily sand is taken to the asphalt company to make road topping. From what I understand, it is about the same toxicity as hot asphalt topping.

I do not understand much either. However you (along with everyone else who has reported on location) have spoken of the strong adverse effects of the fumes. The low toxicity claims do not sound right to me given these reported experiences. And (again w/o proper knowledge on the subject), I would argue that the foot or so of sand on top will not stop the fumes (only the bad PR).

Edit: grammer

Don't know if these are in the field but here is a slide show of a beach cleaning bulldozer



The plan is to bury the oil that comes ashore and dig it up at the end of the season.

...logged as an increase in the Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

Insta-oilsands. Just need the methane captured to melt it back to oil.

Pensacola News-Journal has a couple of bits today about oil and sand. Pensacola Beach has been hit hard twice and today the beach is open and much of it looks OK. What happened is that the oil was covered up by clean sand moved by tides. With a little digging, you find oily sand.


Another piece there said that a crew of 1,100 working all night made not a dent in the oil on the beach. So my optimism about the cleanability of beaches apparently was misplaced. However, it's probably true that buried layers of oily sand will have little effect on the ecosystem. They will be exposed in patches from time to time and make the beach less pleasant.

Tell your friend to wear a respirator.

My employer has issued guidelines for persons traveling to the Gulf Coast area to help with spill cleanup. We are not in the oil industry but make some equipment used for cleanup. I also, as a Chem Eng who sets up a lot of new processes, am very familiar with respiratory protection and how you deal with airborne contaminants.

There were a couple good links in their advisory:

Here's my take on it, with what I understand so far:
-All cleanup workers should be wearing respirators
-By law, Employers are responsible for issuing all required personal protective equipment to their employees.
-If respirator PPE is NOT required, BP needs to be able to support this with large amounts of monitoring data. Given the amount of variation in concentrations of oil that are possible, this should be based off the worst case scenarios. Go to the most fouled beaches and take air monitoring there, with a breeze blowing in from the water, skimming at the source of the well, etc, while standing waist deep in the water. Guidelines should be based on chemicals with the lowest PEL's and/or the highest concentrations, not just one indicator.
-BP's failure to provide respirators or fire people for wanting to use them is criminally negligent and will eventually spawn lawsuits in later years for higher-than-average rates of cancers or respiratory ailments. Count on it.

I would love to see the following:
-Some enterprising guy gets hired at BP for cleanup
-Same employee requests a respirator
-Employee told he doesn't need it (preferably in writing)
-Employee "just happens to have" air monitoring with him
-Employee wears own respirator
-Employee gets fired for wearing respirator
-Air monitoring results show higher than allowable levels for benzene/toluene/etc.

I think that would pretty much be a slam dunk in court - any enterprising lawyers out there want to give this a shot? I hate lawyers but you're good for a few things....

For those of you with friends considering working in cleanup, remember the World Trade Center:
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/356/22/2233. They said that was safe at the time too.

From yesterday on the beach where I took my photos.

What a horrendously, sickeningly ugly wave.

I live right on the Jersey Shore, a block from the beach. The thought of it being similarly despoiled is unbelievably painful. And it might yet happen.

My congressman, Democrat Frank Pallone--otherwise a strong Obama supporter--went ballistic when Obama proposed opening up offshore drilling weeks before the blowout, even though no drilling off New Jersey was in prospect, exactly because a spill anywhere around the eastern half of the country could ultimately threaten the entire East Coast.

Wednesday he issued the following press release:

Pallone Requests Review of Possible Oil Spill Effects on Eastern Seaboard

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., co-chairman of the House Coastal Caucus, and 29 members of Congress Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke regarding concerns about the possible effects of the oil spill on the Eastern Seaboard.

In the letter, Pallone requests science-based predictions on the long-term trajectory of the oil spill and a coordination plan and preparedness report for all states along the Eastern Seaboard which should include a response for the worst-case scenario. While a scenario where oil contaminates the coastline of the Eastern Seaboard is unlikely, Pallone and others want to have a plan of response in place.

New Jersey’s economy and the economies of most coastal states rely heavily on the tourism industry which would be significantly impacted by oil washing ashore. In New Jersey, tourism accounts for approximately $50 billion in revenue and the livelihoods of New Jersey’s small business owners, fishermen, and others who live and work along the coast would be affected.

This is followed by the text of the letter.


I wish I were confident he'll get a useful response.

This looks nasty, but it gives no idea of the scale of the pollution. For every mile of beach, can you estimate how many yards are contaminated?

I would estimate it at 1760 yds of contamination per mile of beach.

Thanks. Useful picture.

From Mac McClelland in Plaquemines:

Depression, Abuse, Suicide: Fishermen's Wives Face Post-Spill Trauma

FEMA, if some of you are reading here, TFHG in Alabama, John Mayo in Mississippi, and these women in Louisiana (on behalf of thousands more) all say: "PLEASE, for God's sakes, don't leave beefing up the Coast's mental-health services off your list."

Too late.

Fishing captain who took his own life remembered as generous, gregarious.


This is not a FEMA issue. This is a POTUS humanity issue.

deep sigh.

I am a military chaplain (Canadian Forces).

Here is a place I go to for resources that help people suffering from grief and loss:


maybe there is stuff there that will help some of these folks.

If you are military, especially Canadian, you know what we need. There was once a battle during the Second World War in which the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was given the Sisyphean task of invading the beaches of Normandy almost singlehandedly. The 'Raid on Dieppe' as is was later known, was an abysmal failure by the 'geniuses' Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten. The Canadians took the majority of the losses and the Allies chalked it up to landing practice for D-Day.
Long story short, we need good leadership, but they need the right strategy. To even attempt tactical decisions without making sure your strategy is a good one is a recipe for disaster. I also remember another one from OCS school, "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics"

Does it still take 12 men/women in uniform to support 1 man/woman on the ground fighting?

Does it still take 12 men/women in uniform to support 1 man/woman on the ground fighting?

No - its all outsourced to Halliburton and Blackwater.

When I left in '92 the talk was reducing it to 9 to 1 by outsourcing. I can only imagine it continued.

I thank shelburn also for the detailed post. I appreciate it.

I pulled up dougr’s initial post, and re-read it, and then read yours again. You have convinced me that dougr is mistaken in a number of things. I see dougr is on this thread—I would love to see his response to your posting.

But here is a question that you did not address, and it seems to me to be a key one.

Dougr states, and references, the following:
"So what we had was BP running out of 50,000 barrels of mud in a very short period of time. An amount far and above what they deemed necessary to kill the well. Shutting down pumping 16 hours before telling anyone, including the president. We were never really given a clear reason why "Top Kill" failed, just that it couldn't overcome the well."

So my very simple question.

What happened to all the mud?

We know a lot went out the top of the BOP. It was very visible at the riser kink and the broken end of the riser. But, just as it is impossible to measure the flow of oil/gas within more than about a +-40% estimate there is a similar difficulty in measuring the amount of mud that was lost through the top of the BOP.

Obviously BP thinks that some went down the well casing but the very little information they released was pretty non-informative. Admiral Allen said something about a "disk failure" at 1,000 feet. There is a rupture disk in the 16" casing at 980 feet.

If you look at the various casing diagrams that have been released it would appear that if that disk is leaking there is an open path to the formation at the bottom of the 18" casing at 8,969 feet (3,902 feet below the mudline).

We don't have any information about that formation, if it is porous enough to accept the mud, or if there are any other mechanical blocks between the 16" disk and the bottom of the 18" casing.

So we don't know if there was an underground blowout downhole at that level, or leakage somewhere else, or if they just couldn't pump enough mud to overcome the losses.

In other words - once again stymied by a lack of transparency from BP and the USG.

Shelburne seems to be the self-appointed oil industry expert/apologist determined to explode the 'myths' of dougr.
Perhaps he's angling for work as a (PR)consultant to BP?

All three of these casings were completely cemented together and they form a very solid base which is what supports the BOP.

The cementing operations were not well sealed according to Dr. Robert Bea, who directly knows something.

"This disaster was preventable," Bea writes, "had existing progressive guidelines and practices been followed."

The report lists what Bea believes are seven "Steps Leading to Containment Failure," also known as "blowout," including:

*improper well design
*improper cement design
*early warning signs not properly detected, analyzed or corrected
*removing the pressure barrier -- displacing drilling mud with sea water 8,000 feet below the drill deck
*flawed design and maintenance of the final line of defense – the blowout preventer

One of the early warning signs was belches or 'kicks' of methane gas, which came up from the depths of the well in the weeks before the accident. The gas was in slushy ice forms called methane hydrates -- but was potentially explosive. One incident was serious enough to shut the well down.
"They had a catastrophic loss of drill fluid into the formation," Bea says. "Gas got to the surface. They had to bring the rig to cold operation."
From what he's learned, Bea says, workers thought the successful response to that incident had fixed the gas problem in general.

Bea also says "drilling and well completion operations did not meet industry standards." He says the well was considerably behind schedule and some of what proved to be bad decisions were designed to save time and money at the expense of safety. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Bea's interview with Lisa Myers:

Dr. Robert Bea: There are time pressures that are extremely intense. And there are economic pressures that are extremely intense.

Lisa Myers: So you saw a lot of cutting corners.

Dr. Robert Bea: Sure.

Bea says the worst mistake was the decision to remove heavy drilling fluid, called "mud," from the drill column, as part of the end of the normal process to close down the well. Fine if the cements seals were working, he says. Potentially catastrophic if they weren't.

Lisa Myers: "The critical decision was the one to remove that heavy mud?"

Dr. Robert Bea: "That's based on everything we know. Yes."
The biggest underlying problem of all, Bea says, is that "we horribly underestimated the risk."

Throughout his interview with NBC News, Bea refers to the offshore drilling community as "we." He himself was once a consultant for BP, the lease operator and owner of the oil well at the Deepwater Horizon rig. He has worked with government regulators of the oil drilling industry for decades. Some employees on the Deepwater Horizon the day of the accident are friends and former colleagues.

Bea says all the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon accident probably bear some responsibility, but that most of the blame rests with BP and the federal government, because they failed to properly oversee the project.

"These are not bad people," Bea says emphatically. "We're just doing dumb things."

Lisa Myers: This report is damning.

Dr. Robert Bea: I hope not. I hate damning... I hope it's constructive... I want learning to come from it. Not just more damn pain. There's enough of that around.

After reviewing Bea's report, BP spokesman Andrew Gowers wrote in a statement to NBC News that the company is surprised Bea has so quickly reached any conclusions, based on incomplete information. BP says with many investigations going on and so much evidence to be examined, "we think it appropriate to await those findings before further comment on the causes of this terrible accident."

Bea says he's been down this road before, after Hurricane Katrina.
He says the revelations about why the levees failed then are similar to the revelations about why the oil rig failed now.

"We had this long slide down this slippery slope of incremental bad decisions [regarding the levees]," Bea says. "This is following the same trail."

"I think we've got the outline of the picture puzzle," Bea says. "The details are still missing. But I think we got the outline right."


Robert Bea, a civil engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and oil industry consultant, disagrees. He's been interviewing workers who were aboard the rig before it blew and said the BP platform shut down several weeks before the accident because of hydrate problems.

"Whether it was either methane hydrate or gas, it doesn't really make a difference," Bea said. "It has unanticipated, undesirable effects. Based on my interviews and investigation, (methane) hydrate seeped into the core."

Bea and others say the industry's drilling and spill cleanup technology hasn't caught up with the economic imperative to produce more oil.


Bea was a former BP consultant and also the investigator for why NOLA leavees collapsed.

Nice to post such a long post that has nothing to do with the casing that Shelburn referred to and the situation that Bea was addressing.

If you take what BP presents in its engineering documentation as the God's honest truth as to the physical reality of Mocando, then of course, everything is just fine and the best case scenario is what we're seeing.
Shortcuts? Cost-cutting? Understating possible worst case? Overstating precautions taken and reliance on best practices? Never happen with BP.

"*improper well design
*improper cement design
*early warning signs not properly detected, analyzed or corrected
*removing the pressure barrier -- displacing drilling mud with sea water 8,000 feet below the drill deck
*flawed design and maintenance of the final line of defense – the blowout preventer"

So of course, whatever some people say couldn't possibly happen, won't happen.

Unless they're basing their assertion on none of the above and likely more being the case.


I pass no judgment on what you original post and subsequent ones said - yet.

But I do note that there is now a virtual posse of people that comes after you, including nit picking things that are clearly intended to divert attention and discredit all your points.

Whats more interesting is how many of the posse have accounts that did not exist prior to the BP incident --- they can't even disguise their interest in that simple manner.

Good luck - you stirred the pot - and I will sit this one out but I do have my bets leaning one way.

Thank you for that PQ.
The pot definitely needed stirring. It wasn't my original intent though. The attitude of some folks here...the virtual posse...is quite interesting and says a lot about them.


I tried to post this link in its entirety in a comment, and it was promptly edited by Prof Goose.

Which is itself interesting in terms of "editorial intervention".

Take a look of the list of questions being asked by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives of the US Congress:


Suppose someone were to take dougr seriously, and craft a list of questions for BP to answer (in addition to other Government and other parties that can be made to testify before Congress).

I would say that the list of questions in the above link could have been written by someone who have the technical expertise to understand the issue, and wishes to get the "best facts available" on the issue.

BP is required to provide the answers by July 2.

Expect to see their stock price reflect the answers either shortly before or after July 2.

Expect to see other experts called to give testimony on the same facts.

Tip of the hat to you, dougr


Ed Markey's questions were offshoots of information gleaned from a wide variety of sources.
Most, if not all, of that information has been in the public domain and most of it was also in the public domain before the "infamous" post I submitted and, indeed, was the basis for the "infamous" post. References were included y'know.

Look around at what's out there...you might find something and put some pieces together.


PQ: Thanks clearing things up. I had always assumed that the only people who know anything about oil and gas would have been long time members of TOD.

The age of the account is not an indication of anything.

But pair the age of the account, with specific agendas being pursued, and some details about their IPs.

Then tie it to the hundreds of firms that offer such services....

Then there is this new FTC Rule:


Beginning today, bloggers, Twitterers and others who write online reviews or endorse products using new media must disclose it when they receive free merchandise or payment for writing about an item. The guidelines update the F.T.C.’s 1980 guide addressing the use of testimonials in advertising, remapping marketing rules for the digital realm, where it’s hard to know if the exclamatory musings of fashion hounds and best-disposable-diaper posts by suburban moms are inspired by a great product or a free product.

“Endorsements in print ads or on television are clear, because it is obviously the company’s advertisement,’’ says Mary Engle, the F.T.C.’s associate director of consumer protection. “It became very clear to us when we began our regular periodic review of guides in 2007 that because of all the social media going on we’d need to update them.’’

The link in Shelburns post is a BP-sourced document that was turned over to the feds.

If you look at it - the grey stuff is cement. You can see that the casings are fully cemented together down to about 8000'.

The part of the well that Bea was specifically talking about is down between 17500 and 18500'.

Completely different portion of the well.

And when Shelburn sez something about an ROV - he knows whereof he speaks. He used to run a bunch of them for a living.

Calling shelburn an apologist is about the silliest thing ever posted here. And we are just supposed to take your word for that, right, because it's too much work to cite any examples?

Your comments and very long quotes about cement are off the mark. You are discussing the cementing at the bottom of the hole done at the end of the drilling. Shelburn was describing cementing done at the top of the hole in the beginning of the drilling project. You are off by a couple miles.


Sorry...that low blood sugar made me giddy again. Couldn't resist.

I'm confused. I thought he's supposed to be a PAID SHILL!

no, no, it's a paid SHRILL!

Aw Hell! It's 5 o'clock somewhere..........aint it?

Heh! Heh!

Someone get the Blue Bell, quick!

Rock: Forgot your breakfast bowl of Blue Bell again did you?


Joules -- Now that's just down right nasty...go kneel on the rice in the corner and say 10 Hail Mary's.

That's a Nawlins thing...just ask Alan.

That conjured up fond memories of cute Catholic girls at the streetcar stop by Sacred Heart hiking up their plaid skirts for the ride home. Always one or two with bright red kneecaps.

brat -- Son of a gun...I went to Sacred Heart on Canal St. Did you go to WE by any chance?

Rockman, no, I went to Ben Franklin. I was using the Academy of the Sacred Heart school on St Charles as an example. Catholic girls trying to make knee-lengths into mini-skirts were all over the city, God bless 'em. Lucky you for getting to go to mass with them.

Aw geez! There went the divine status AND ice cream for breakfast! Holy Cow!

majorian, it's inconceivable to me how someone who has been around for a couple years on this board has not learned enough to know what dougr was talking about, what Shelburn was responding to, and what Bea was referring to. I can only assume you have just popped out of the woodwork after a long sleep and haven't had your coffee yet today. BTW, if I haven't been clear, you are completely off-base with your comments.

flawed design and maintenance of the final line of defense – the blowout preventer

Could you please substantiate this because imo it's really important and possibly central - especially the flawed design. Whose design? Why was it flawed? And most importantly, if it *was* flawed, how did it end up at 5000' below the DWH?

Edit: sorry, stupid question; or rather, stupid of me to expect an answer.

I have no oil industry credentials or experience WHATSOEVER, but even I know the cementing issue the OP was talking about is different than what your cited expert was talking about.

Finding the facts and truth about events is important. One becomes an expert by acquiring knowledge and experience. It can be seen in the writings of various posters here quite readily if one reads more than one or two threads.

Does that make me a BP apologist?

edit to correct verb tense

PQ will have to run down your IP address, etc. to determine if you're a paid shrill.

"On Feb. 13, BP told the minerals service it was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, drilling documents obtained by Bloomberg show."

"To contact the reporters on this story: Alison Fitzgerald in Washington at afitzgerald2@bloomberg.net; Joe Carroll in Washington at jcarroll8@bloomberg.net"

I sent polite requests for those documents to both reporters. I expect this request to be ignored, because a while back I sent requests for primary sources cited by three reporters who quoted Simmons liberally. Those requests have yet to be answered. Go figure.

"...National Incident Commander Thad Allen announced that the riser package is tilting “10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular,” twice the 5.5 degree tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa:

The entire arrangement is kind of listed a little bit. I think it’s 10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular so it’s not quite straight up.

The “integrity of the well casing is a major concern,” Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil, told the Houston Chronicle last week. Engineers and geologists fear the stack atop the well could tip over if the well integrity further degrades, leading to the “unlikely, but not implausible” scenario of “oil gushing through the sea floor.”

On June 10, the stack was only tilting by about two or three degrees.


Different structures in the BOP stack have different tilts and the reports, after being translated by the MSM translation service, are not always clear where they are talking about. The BOP itself is tilted slightly - about 3 degrees+ from what I've seen.

The LMRP has a flexjoint between it and the BOP which is designed to tilt so it will always have a larger tilt than the BOP unless it is pulled up by a riser attached to a drill rig. Currently they are reporting this tilt at 10-12 deg. It doesn't matter if the LMRP tilt changes. The critical tilt is the BOP and the wellhead.

The integrity of the well casing reference is about the casing string thousands of feet below the seabed.

A typical case of the media taking three separate facts they don't understand and jumping to a totally erroneous conclusion.

What everyone should be asking and what we should all want to understand is what the other deep water operators have done and are doing differently, such that they haven't had this kind of problem before and won't have it in future. The Halliburton hand's journal, indicating he'd been overruled on cementing "best practices" revealed by the congressional hearings seems like one likely part of the answer, but I'll bet there's more. This question and the answers would also resolve the question of whether he moratorium is needed or not. The fundamental message of the main post is key--factual, objective information is what is needed, not BS and not cover-ups. At this point, 75% of what we've gotten from the gummint and BP has been cya and ignorance.

Unfortunately, MMS and the pResident don't have any information, either about BP's operations or anyone else's. They haven't been doing their jobs for decades, preferring to sit in their offices and spew memos and proposed regulations that only block action, but never lead to anything productive.

You sound like the guys selling these.


The science is actually not that hard to implement, but you really want millions of lazy and greedy Americans with all those nuclear materials.

The post has lots of welcome perspective, but I sense an extreme defensiveness about the industry. Pride in one's work is a great thing, but it can cloud one's vision. First, the BOP, and presumably the 36" casing (is this the spud?) it rests on ARE leaning at 10-12 deg. The question remains were they "pulled over" by the sinking DWH? Or are they beginning to "fall over" on their own? If they were pulled over, the forces required yank a 36"dia, 2" thick pipe sideways is deeply concerning. Anything that big and strong that is bent by 10-12 deg somewhere under the mud-line suggests the thing could easily be compromised. We don't know, and that's the point.

More importantly, this talks a lot about big butch technology, but not about the really fragile geology. It seems almost certain that the fragility of the geological situation is a major contributor to the problems. If things are caving in down hole, would we even know? What happens to all this really cool casing when it has no support from surrounding rock? What would happen during the blow-out to unsupported casing, bad cement jobs etc? I don't know, does anybody?

Finally, the color of the liquid coming out of the riser keeps changing. Sometimes it s black as you would expect, other times it has a brown or even tan color. Is this silt, sand and mud coming up the well bore? If so where's it coming from? BP would have a COMPLETE record of the well bore geology, so they know exactly what rock is where down hole. They are capturing a lot of this stuff on the surface so if it has dirt in it, they know exactly where it came from. Perhaps its coming all the way up from the deposit, or maybe its the mud from top kill, or maybe the casing is compromised. Somebody knows, and I'm sure it isn't me.

For a land based version of this thing, check out Maricopa blow of 1910. It DESTROYED its derrick and the well casing, then turned into boiling caldron of oil coming up an unprotected well bore. It ran 544 days before they got under control. Start at Wikipedia.

Get BP off this job and put somebody on it who actually gives a s%$# about the gulf, America and the world's oceans. Obama has botched this by believing BP, even when he KNOWS they're chronic liars. He's left them on the job far too long. You want to know what's happening, GET BP OFF THE JOB! And put liens their US bank accounts while you're at it.

I thought when an object falls toward the surface of a body due to gravity, it constantly accelerates as it falls. Constant acceleration increases velocity exponentially unless other forces act. Would this not mean the riser/BOP would have tipped over by now?

"Constant acceleration increases velocity exponentially"

Just for reference, an exponential increase in velocity implies the magnitude of the increase is dependent on the current value of the velocity. Think compound interest. The amount of interest you get is proportional to the size of your principal.

Constant accelleration doesn't result in exponential growth - instead, for each second you get a constant increase in velocity - 32 feet per second, every second.

Took the curve a little too far, my bad. Point being it falls much quicker the last foot than the first foot.

Get BP off this job and put somebody on it who actually gives a s%$# about the gulf, America and the world's oceans

heh heh, BP as a company probably won't care about the gulf.. they can just move on to other country..But the problem is that they will loss all their asset in US and US government will chase them in UK court as well.. so They won't be able to walk away from the problem without fixing it.. BP incentive to fix the gulf is their ultimate survival as a company.

Page 37 says, "ROV identified undocumented modifications to the hydraulic control system; the extent of these modifications is unknown at this time." I remember at the congressional hearing they said Halliburton did a cement op to cap the well about 20 hours before the explosion. Is it possible their guys made those modifications? If so, or if not, who made those modifications? What were they, and why were they necessary?

At this point, I think TOD 'feature' writers, guests or not, should preface their articles with disclosure statements about any and all investments in the oil sector. As someone who holds no stock in any oil or oil services companies, I am concerned that some of TOD's key commentators do have such investments and have not disclosed those facts. I have noted that TOD is often repeating BP's storyline long after that should have stopped. I realize that technical analysis from industry 'experts' is needed, but those individuals ought to disclose whether or not they currently have financial ties to any corporation that benefits in downplaying the severity of this crisis.

It is patently clear that paid shrills for BP are working this site hard.

What more "disclosure" do you need?



BP are a-h0lz. BP, and others here, deny the existence of blue unicorns. Therefore, blue unicorns EXIST. And the others here who deny it are SHILLS and work for BP.


You have got to be kidding.

Can't be argued. Perfect logic.

You have no evidence of this. It is your own paranoia. Many people here simply understand the oil industry much, much better than you, dougr, dtuttle or any of the other "hair on fire" commenters who seem to now have shown up on this site to increase the noise to signal ratio.

Excellent point, tip or request.

Commenter who are swearing, threatening, virtually shouting or making blanket statements about "hoaxes" or denigrating others is virtually advertising their intent.

What intent? Who?

Stop the innuendo, please.

You mean, like "BP paid shrills"?

I totally agree, this disaster is of a magnitude that it demands "disclosure statements".

DougR is a prime example of why your concern has merit. But TOD's response to his doomsday scenario internet hoax demonstrates that there are other ways of dealing with bias, misinformation and spin from interested parties.

Because the reality is that many people who post here, the people with the most knowledge and expertise, have invested their lives in the oil patch. Does that make them more or less biased than someone with stock? And of those who do have stock, only a small percentage would likely be motivated to the extreme of spiking TOD with misinformation with the expectation that it would be believed and would deliver financial gain, or reduce losses.

DougR proves there could be such a person or people, but a general disclosure requirement is not the way to deal with it, IMO. It would diminish the forum. Better to challenge suspect information and feret out misinformation.

A "hoax" is deliberate lying. Do you think he's lying, or mistaken? There's a huge difference.

I don't know but I do know he is not qualified/knowledgable enough to be able to make the calls he does with any degree of authroity or basis in fact, and he knows that, too.

He worte a compelling piece of fiction, and in the particular genre of a hoax. It has all of the hallmarks, and it worked, and he has a real talent for it. A critical part of any internet hoax is weaving in enough credibility that the reader is persuaded that you know what you are talking about enough to be believed, but he does not catch on that that is what is happening. That is an artistic skill, not a technical one. And piecing the story together in such a way that the sheer horror of it is part of what makes it believable in the human mind, it lends credibility, especially during a crisis like this where people frrl info is bering withheld.

I could go on and write an essay about that piece, and the technique and characteristics present. But that's my take on it. Could be wrong. Maybe he just read TOD and threw together a theory he believed. He did not have the knowledge base to get there on his own, though.

From wikipedia:

A hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive or trick people into believing or accepting something which the hoaxer (the person or group creating the hoax) knows is false.

It is possible to perpetrate a hoax by making only true statements using unfamiliar wording or context, such as in the Dihydrogen monoxide hoax. Many hoaxes are motivated by a desire to satirize or educate by exposing the credulity of the public and the media or the absurdity of the target.[1] For instance, the hoaxes of James Randi poked fun at believers in the paranormal and alternative medicine. The hoaxes of Alan Abel, Chris Morris, and others satirize people's willingness to believe the media.[1] Political hoaxes are sometimes motivated by the desire to ridicule or besmirch opposing politicians or political institutions, often before elections.

The word hoax is said to have come from the common magic incantation hocus pocus.[2] "Hocus pocus", in turn, is believed to be a distortion of "Hoc est corpus meum" ("This is my body") from the Latin Mass.[3]
The demarcation between hoaxes, fraud, tricks, fiction, rumours, and black propaganda is not sharp.

A hoax differs from a magic trick or from fiction (books, theatre, radio, television, etc.) in that the audience is unaware of being deceived, whereas in watching a magician perform an illusion the audience expects to be tricked.

Deception with the intention of depriving the victim of money or valuables is fraud or a confidence trick rather than a hoax. A hoax is often intended as a practical joke or to cause embarrassment, or to provoke social or political change by raising people's awareness of something. Journalistic scandals overlap with hoaxes to some extent.


I would say DougR's hoax made people aware of important things, like the risks of drilling off shore. He also demonstrated very effectively the lack of info being released and the need for info. And he mocked the media and the govt. and BP quite effectively, although indirectly. His story was more credible than theirs to many who read it. His hoax probably resulted in more info being released than would have been otherwise. It probably had numerous negative impacts as well.

In order to prove that it is a hoax, you would have to show evidence of dougr's state of mind and evidence of intent at the time the statements are made.

Do you have that?

No. I don't. I am focusing on the nature of the writing and its effect, and how effective it was. Look how far it went. Yet it was quickly shot to pieces as a plausible theory when subject to knowledgable scrutiny here. Very quickly.

There are other hallmarks. This was a carefully and thoughtfully written piece that reflects a level of skill in persuasion and constructing a story-line, and tuning it to the drama and vulnerabilities of the moment, that it is hard for me to believe it was not constructed to generate a response along the lines that it did.

I suppose it is possible to unleash a hoax without intending to if you believe it yourself. Then it becomes a rumor, I suppose, and an expression of concerns and fears that widely resonate with people during a crisis.

it is hard for me to believe it was not constructed to generate a response along the lines that it did.

I'm utterly befuddled that almost nobody seems to think there's much significance to the fact that the comment dougr posted here was posted first on a UFO/conspiracy theory/roleplaying site whose disclaimer explicitly warns that visitors should not trust anything they read on it.

In my view, that in and of itself is pretty good evidence (if not ironclad proof) of intent. Why would a person who had a spill scenario they genuinely believed was valid and deserved serious consideration give it its first exposure on such a site, instead of on TOD? Maybe there's a good explanation for the posting sequence that I'm missing; if so, I'd love to hear it.

(For the record, I know nuttin' about the oil industry other than what I've been able to glean from TOD, which I joined shortly after the blowout, and I have no investments in any relevant companies. I'm a lefty who distrusts corporations and governments and is very worried about the state of the environment. I have a certain degree of Internet savvy, as well as a longstanding concern with accuracy in media, including Web media--hence my interest in the origin of dougr's scenario and the degree of credibility it appears to have acquired.)

The vociferous of the complaint is directly in proportion to the likelihood that sensitive points got too close to comfort.

Recall a certain individual who publically (and under oath) stated,

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman"

Depends on how the brilliant lawyers define the terms....

But we kind of know the truth..

Now you done it PQ...shamed me into confessing: Yes, I did have sexual relations with that carton of Blue Bell. God...I feel so much better now.

What I've liked about TOD from the start is that anyone can say any damn thing they want as long as they keep it civil. Bizarro, stupid, pro or con any opinion. I could give a rat's ass about their motivation. Leftist hater of all free enterprise or mad dog right wing religious nut. It just words on a page. Read em...don't read em. But critisizing them seems like such a waste of space IMHO. And don't even ask me what I think about the criticism of the criticism.

and now I have to clean the baloney sandwich I was having for lunch off this here screen!

quizmasterchris wrote:

A "hoax" is deliberate lying. Do you think dougr is lying, or mistaken? There's a huge difference.

Well, yes, there is a huge difference between a lie and a mistake -- except, apparently when BP says something that turns out to be wrong, in which case it is automatically asserted to be a lie.

...but a general disclosure requirement is not the way to deal with it, IMO. It would diminish the forum. Better to challenge suspect information and feret out misinformation.

I agree. Plus: We all are invested in oil. Look around your house! I have only been on TOD for a few days, however, I have not noticed an overall bias one way or another. There are not many frequent contributers, at least not too many to read their posts and understand their perspective and where it comes from. The fact is that this is by far the best (possibly the only) place so far to get some credible information both from experts and people who can see it with their own eyes. I don't believe we can't read critically, research where necessary, and make our own decisions based on the arguments presented.

In addition, it goes without saying that for most of us outsiders, this information is only to satisfy our own needs to understand. There is nothing I can do about the information I gain; I can only, hopefully, gain some understanding. The only danger posed by wild theories and conspiracies is that people who already are frightened by such things remain frightened. The rest of us are smart enough to be critical, or at least mindful of the fact that nobody really knows exactly what is going on.

Edit: added quote on top. removed a comma.

Bad idea. Any "disclosure" could be bullshit.

I own no stock in anything and have never been a BP employee.

The severity of the crisis is not being downplayed. Some want to know what's real and what isn't, others here help with that best they can. Bullshit gets identified and tossed out until it shows up again, and then it gets tossed again. Some worried people drag in stuff from the web and want to know if it's right. Some people drag stuff in here to forward a hidden agenda and then attack the integrity of people who don't buy in.

Information stands or falls on its merit, and sometimes that's not so easy to figure out.

I have no problem giving you an overview. I sold off most of my offshore oilfield stock years ago when I retired.

I currently hold a small positions in a lot of small, ONSHORE, independent oil and gas companies, small gold and commodity mining companies, fertilizer companies and mostly cash.

I sold the few hundred shares of Transocean I had on April 21. The only position I have related to the offshore industry is a sizable (for me) stake in Petrobras. So I do have an investment from a company benefiting from the crisis as they are picking up the DW rigs leaving the GoM.

I also keep a few shares of Oceaneering that I bought in the 1970s so I can get their annual report. Enough to treat a family to a good restaurant dinner. At one time I did have a sizable position in OII.

I have been invited three times by two different companies to come to Houston to work on this. I turned these offers down for a couple reason but the primary reason is I have a conflict of interest as I am on retainer as an expert witness AGAINST BP in a totally unrelated case and the law firm said I couldn't work for BP, even as a subcontractor.

I am a strong supporter of offshore oilfield workers and of presenting FACTS as apposed to opinions based on misinformation.

Noble reaches new agreement for Gulf rig

Noble (NE) announced that it has reached an agreement with Noble Energy (NBL) regarding the contract on the Noble Clyde Boudreaux. The rig was under contract in the Gulf of Mexico at a day rate of around $605,000 until November 2011. The revised agreement places the rig on standby from June to December 2010, which is the anticipated length of the moratorium. During the standby period, which can be extended by mutual agreement, Noble will earn $145,000 a day. Following the standby period, the rig will enter a new contract for $397,500 a day that will last for about 17 months, which was the remaining term left on the original contract.

Not sure how to interpret this - looks like an in-house contract with a subsidiary.

Just a guess shelbun but I've seen such situations before: they may have a common ownership but each company is an independent business that takes care of its own interest first. Sounds like the operating company is helping the rig company keep some cash flow going but is rewarded for doing so by getting a break on the day rate down the road. And given that rigs could be very tight in the GOM when drill starts up again it could be a real benny for the operating company.

The Truth about BP's efforts is known to a very influential group of people.

It is irrelevant whether "dougr" or anyone is right or wrong --- time will tell.

What is relevant is, the financial community is at present, sending BP financial instruments on the steepest dive ever --- with no end in sight.


BP stock price (daily)

BP CDS (now hovering at 600 basis points).



" BP fell 6.4 percent, knocking over 15 points off the index and hit a 14-year low while its credit weakened sharply on talk that it needs extra cash to fund the clean-up and compensation bill for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Five-year BP credit default swaps, an insurance-like instrument against debt default, widened 44 basis points to 580 basis points, CDS monitor Markit said.

BP's plight again dented sector sentiment with integrated oil companies Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and BG Group (BG.L) shedding 1.3 and 1.2 percent respectively."


An army of paid shrills on TOD and other sites cannot change this fundamental fact: BP debt is now showing a significant risk of a bankruptcy event.

That is assuming the relief wells... work.

If they don't work... BP is as good as Enron!

"An army of paid shrills"

Please stop the innuendo. If somebody challenges a post because they think it's inaccurate and backs it up, it doesn't mean that they're shilling for anybody.


The lynch mob mentality is getting worse. If you don't agree with us, you be agin' us and agin' all right-thinking people. And that makes you part of the enemy!

"It is irrelevant whether "dougr" or anyone is right or wrong --- time will tell."

No, it's totally relevant. DougR has no experience or expertise and his weak attempt to plagiarize the same has total relevance. DougR's comments are based on theory and hypothesis and for all the wrong done by BP there are many professional knowledgeable people here to whom he has done a great disservice.

In regard to the post on who Shelburn is or is suppose to be as an authority on the subject; The articles and topics posted by TOD have rather clear disclaimers and I haven't read anything in their comments stating their's were **last word**. Check the sidebar for more info.

The emphatic language here comes from those with no experience in the oil business or in most part any business.

PQ, how much were you paid to misspell "shill" ?

Just joking, but you are beginning to resemble your accusations. Take a deep breath. Maybe there are paid hacks out there somewhere, but most folks here are just trying to sort out what has actually happened, and what is really happening now.

Although if someone wants to hire a carpenter who can type 10 words a minute, I could use the work.

A bouquet for dougr:

We will see what the future brings but in the meantime, you have introduced LOTS of people to the idea that maybe the Almighty Kill Wells will not just fix everything.

It may turn out that widespread acceptance of that heretofore heretical idea might save us all a lot of grief.

I think all of us want your vision of what could happen to be proven wrong. So do you, for all that.

Regardless of what happens, though, I think you have the people of this country a service.

Thank you.

[and I hope the flack fades away]

The flakers are well compensated for this work.. they will not go away.

But note the flak is not having any impact on the financial markets.

Thank you Lfeather.

Working on my price models a bit on various risk / outcome models.. it looks like the stock will be heading to $20 with some more oil swept ashore from the storm plus the termination of capture operations during the storm.

There - it might dead cat bounce back to $25 - until more news become public.

The big trading day will be July 2 or thereabouts, when they are forced to respond to the Congress with some facts and details.

Expect bad news to be dribbled out by Congress thereafter to kill the stock.

Short BP by any chance?

Short Bp,?

LoL, dougEr is RPing, now maybe his folks might short an oil co. Dunno.

Slightly off topic but on the topic of conspiracies, check out this bogus headline making the rounds:

'Secret' law lets police arrest for failing to show ID near (G20) summit


There is nothing bogus about that.

PQ -- Just a little side note. Not sure if it's still the law but when I lived in La if you were stopped while driving and didn't have your license you were immediately taken to jail and booked. Why? At that time when you got a driving ticker they took your license and would mail it back only after you paid the fine. A pretty effective way of getting folks to pay their tickets. Also made some folks run like hell when a cop put on his flashers and they didn't have a license on them.

Excellent post, Shelburn. I hope BP reads it. Their PR response to the leak has been abysmal. Don't they have executives that went to business school? I have an MBA and we study corporate response to disaster, with the Tylenol poisoning held up as a great example. It can be summed up as:

Keep the public fully informed, and be seen to be doing as much as humanly possible to mitigate the damage.

BTW, this comment by Dr. Joye's Gulf Oil Blog on the "seafloor cracks" needs repeating:

(17) Have you seen any evidence of other sources of oil such as might indicate fractures in the sea floor near to the site of the wellhead explosion?

No, we have not seen any evidence of fractures in the seafloor near the riser pipe.

"fractures in the seafloor" is a rather difficult term to say --- for any "fracture" would instantly be filled with something -- like water or silt.

A more descriptive term would be "leaks (of hydrocarbons and gases) on the seafloor", with the proviso that the leaked hydrocarbons and gases can be demonstrated to be a reasonable certainty to be from the same deposit that BP drilled into.

That is the question that BP's lawyers do not want asked.

The "fracture" case would almost certainly be unlikely.

The "leak from same deposit" case would be itself worrying.

Notice the repeated denial of the "fracture" by posters on here and elsewhere, which divert attention from the issue of "seeps" and whether they are natural, whether they have increased, and whether the hydrocarbons are form the same deposit.

Well, lets see what Google pops out, as a gauge as to why this is a hot issue.

ROV films oil leak coming from cracks in a ROCK on the sea floor
Oil Confirmed to Be Leaking from Cracks in Sea Floor ...
Videos Of Oil Leaking Thru Cracks In The Sea Floor!!
Oil And Gas Leaks From Cracks In Seabed Confirmed - Videos Show
Remotely Operated Vehicles films oil leak coming from rock cracks ...

Etc., ad nauseum. I'm sure you'd agree that a crack is a fracture.

I didn't see any hair on fire stuff about fractures filled with silt or water.

Nothing like a comprehensive answer to an important question. (edit)

Their PR response to the leak has been abysmal.

As the head of a UK PR firm put it on BBC News: "Tony Hayward believes that PR is all about hiring a bunch of folk to pick up the phone and tell callers to buzz off"

Did you hear that BP and Toyota have both been nominated for PR Prizes of 2010?

Did you know that BP were seemingly about to be awarded the 2010 Industry Offshore safety award for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance by the offshore oil and gas industry."?

Well officially they were one of three on the short-list to win but the awards were postponed and BP removed before we found out the already picked but not announced winner.

In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

BP, now under federal scrutiny because of its role in the deadly Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill, is one of three finalists for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention."

The winner of the award - chosen before the April 20 oil rig incident - was to be announced this coming Monday at a luncheon in Houston. But the U.S. Department of Interior this week postponed the awards ceremony, saying it needs to devote its resources to the ongoing situation resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and fire.

I am not an expert, but Shelburn's post seems well reasoned and support by the facts.

That said, one I do know is the ROVs have used inclinometers, at least previously. As you know, some fo the ROVs feeds have some short description of the ROV's mission (ie. "Dispersant ops"). Once I saw an ROV -- I don't remember which one -- with text "inclinometer readings" or similar. I remember this because I didn't know what an inclinometer was -- its was the first time I had seen the word, and so I googled it. So the ROVs are definitely taking inclinometer readings (or did so at least once). Of course, that doesn't mean the incline has changed or is changing....

(Not a shot at you). I agree with Shellburn. There are likely people from the media mining this site for inside info, considering that official information from either BP or the govt is limited. The inclinometer, it makes good sense to measure, explore all the possibilities. It doesn't make sense to make assumptions with nothing to back them up. There is something built into the human psyche, that may serve (or used to serve) a purpose in some ways, but mostly seems to cause problems. In situations where there isn't enough information, some of us tend to thrive on building ridiculous hypothetical constructions. Those afflicted range from the idiotic, to the very intelligent. This is nothing new, probably goes back to the beginning of man. What we need to do is base our understanding of what is happening here on physical reality, on that which can be gauged and measured, not on assumptions or drawn out conspiracy theories.

I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been. The "bullseyes" that the ROVs look at on a regular basis show the tilt of the piece of equipment they are attached to. They could be identified as inclinometers. Most of them are maxed out so they are of limited use.

The whole discussion about inclinometers is a bit of a side issue. There has been a black box that the ROVs have held up against the side of the structure. They have been identified as inclinometers and they could well be but they could also be something else like ultrasonics to measure the wall thickness or - horror of horrors - fluid flow.

What is important is the fact that the BOP and wellhead were bent during the time the DWH was attached and sinking and it has not tilted more since then. In other words that particular aspect of a bad situation is not getting worse and the BOP is not about to "tip over".

Shelburn, I'm sure there must be useful info in the same site as http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/3.1_Item_2_Macondo_Well_07_Jun_1900....

But when I try http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/ I get


You don't have permission to access /open/documents/ on this server.

Irony slinks away in despair.

Got any clues for how to find more info?

several documents listed on this page look interesting including some spreadsheets with measurements or data




Lots of very good data including a spreadsheet with detailed hourly recovery rates on the Discoverer Enterprise. Nothing on the Q4000 - yet.

Edit - Some Q4000 data just showed up


idle thoughts ....been trying to avoid having to reply on dougrs post...i kinda thought the wild doomsday theories would go away after plenty have poked enough holes in the post to make it look like swiss cheese....Shelburns post up thread ought to have done it ...but it seems like dougr's post it actually gaining traction ....I do have some spare time and will attempt to build on Shlebrun's post up thread and point out a few more fact ....

if some one can tell me how to do the thing where you can post another users comments in the square thing ...I will like to poke some more holes in dougr's comments

ali, here's the trick, but use pointers where I've got brackets (if I used pointers in this example, the software would show the result instead of the lesson):

[blockquote]text you want to quote[/blockquote]

Use the "less than" pointer before, the "more than" pointer after "blockquote." Leave no space between the pointers and the "b" and the "e."

lotus...I am not sure i follow what you're saying ....ill just go the simple quotation route ....appreciate the help neverthless

replace the [ ] in his example with < >. Use the preview to see its result.

"Her" example, actually, but thanks for the help.

He is telling you to do it like this:

<blockquote>This is the quote</blockquote>

and the result is

This is the quote

Wow. How'd you keep that from reading



(Note my reply to boon.) Thanks for your help too.

Sorry, man, I'm not very good at talking HTML code. It's all I can do to use it a little, let alone 'splain it.

Deleted cause I screwed the answer up!

here goes a little oil field drilling 101 ...this is a reply to dougr's post....this post build on the issues pointed out by Shelburn ...

This was probably our best and only chance to kill this well from the top down.

now this is just plain wrong....top kill never had more than a single digit chance of success....because top kill assumes a structurally intact BOP .....what happens in a "bull heading" process is the kill and choke line are used to create a dynamic seal which needs the BOP to hold pressure.....and then a kill pill is pumped a little south of the dynamic seal to reach pressure equilibrium with the formation....now if anyone has tried pumping air into a leaky bicycle tire, they know its not going to work....why because it cannot hold pressure...same problem here...

This "kill mud" is a tried and true method of killing wells and usually has a very good chance of success. "

-- now this again it false....top kill has NEVER in the history of drilling been successfully done on a flowing well....this is a flowing well ....what you are saying is "my dog has 4 legs, my cat has 4 legs; therefore my cat is a dog " kinda analogy..

They tried the "Junk shot"...the "bridging materials" which also failed and likely made things worse in regards to the ruptured well casings.

-- now again this is just not true....the bridging agents are not meant to be shot downhole where the csgs are .....what the agents were meant to do is rise up along the BOP and hopefully plug the holes on the top at the LMRP where there were 5/6 small holes...the idea was once you inject them via the C/K lines....they would flow with the fluid and get lodged into the holes....again WHY ...because that would allow pressure to be built up in the BOP to allow for top kill.....so how bridging agents can damage csg is nothing more than active imagination...

"Usually this will happen fairly quickly, in fact for it to work at all...it must happen quickly. There is no "trickle some mud in" because that is not how a top kill works. The flowing oil will just flush out the trickle and a solid column will never be established.

-- now BP pumped in at rates upwards of 80 BPM (according to your own post) with plenty of volumetrics ....if you think this rate is "trickling mud in" than you obviously have never been around a top kill attempt in your life.....becuase this is HIGH ...very HIGH considering (1)the pore pressure (2) mud wieght they drilled with @ corresponding depth .....80 BPM is outside what most engineers would be comfortable with ....but to suggest they didnot crank up the mud pumps and give it an honest shot is again active imagination at best when the numbers plainly say otherwise..

There are no "Disks" or "Subsea safety structure" 1,000 feet below the sea floor, all that is there is well bore. There is nothing that can allow the mud or oil to "escape" into the rock formation outside the well bore except the well, because it is the only thing there.

-- sorry to break this news but rupture disks are real and BP commonly uses disks in exploratory wells as a safety cushion...the fact that disks activated and bled pressure probably saved the wellhead form a lot of damage ....and that is why rupture disks are installed....

another point i will make is .....having 50,000 bbl of kill mud on hand is smart ....when you are dealing with a blowout you are assuming you will loose fluid to the formation ...you go into a top kill with this assumption but what you cannot compensate for is if the BOP is not able to hold pressure then you are just pissing into the wind ...

now i haven't even gone through the complete post...I have gone through about 6/7 paras to find out such glaring conceptual faults with the post...i really don't want to have to go through dougr's complete article because that will mean a very long reply from my side ...but the rest of the post can be picked part just like this easily....

side note...appreciate yall's help with the blockquote thing...finally got it :)

Woohoo on that suave blockquoting, ali (your technical explanation is excellent too)!

Well Damn, Ali...having you go thru the whole thing mighta been FUN!

The well casing is obviously compromised

There is a big flanged pipe attached to the stub of the riser, with nice big bolts, at the top of the BOP. The ROVs could bolt a simple valve to the top of this flange and seal the well IF the casing could hold the pressure. Because this has not been done, it is obvious that the casing is damaged to the degree that there is a significant chance of an uncontrollable blowout if the flow is shut at the BOP.

Some TOD commenters seem puzzled by BP's secretiveness, but this is accepted behavior in America. A corporation is allowed, and even encouraged, to conceal the truth to improve its financial performance. What has changed is that such deceptiveness now can inflict unprecedented damage on the public and the ecosystem. The traditional incentives and behaviors of profit-seeking corporations are simply inappropriate to the conduct of safe deep sea oil drilling operations.

Watch for the use of evasions, victories by definition, and other games being used by certain posters here.

They probably have an illustrious track record as Bill Clinton's lawyers.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. "

President Clinton


This is the standard for truth from the nation's top leader.

What do you expect from TOD posters?

Or Bush and the WMD in Iraq.

Couple of hurricanes in the gulf will push this slop all over...from TX to S. FL... I want to go to S FL again or Cancun, but both look like they could get slopped with tar... Guess i'll stay home.

What do you expect from TOD posters?

The same thoughtful, fact-based discussions that have been keeping me coming to this site since it first opened up.

And the odd shouter...

PQ17 wrote:

What do you expect from TOD posters?

But that standard does not apply to you, right?

Lessismore wrote:

A corporation is allowed, and even encouraged, to conceal the truth to improve its financial performance.

That certainly has not been my experience in my 30+ years working for a company whose stock is listed on the NASDAQ. We were required, by law, to have an annual audit done by an outside, independent auditing firm -- and we were not allowed to conceal anything from these auditors. At the completion of the audit, the auditing firm published a public report with the results of the audit.

So can you please provide some evidence to substantiate your claim that companies are "encouraged to conceal the truth to improve their financial performance"?

Michael, I would suggest that there is a significant difference in PR between publicly traded companies and private ones, both of whom often rely on capital from "outside" sources - either through the market in the former or through capitalization by private investment in the latter.

I think it's probably a little disingenuous to suggest that leadership doesn't shape the release of potentially positive or negative information. Speaking from experience, it is advantageous in negotiations, whether weak hand or strong hand, to conceal by omission potentially negative information. If you have never seen this occur in your 30+ year experience, I would suggest that you have had an exceptionally unique experience, or possibly, were not involved at a high enough level.

Note that I'm not suggesting that it's done out of a lack of ethics, impropriety, or at a scale that would achieve some sort of conspiratorial maleficence, but simply that it is done as a matter of business, and not so rarely as to go unnoticed.

Meanwhile, while the number of devils that dance on top of a pin are being debated here -

BP stock is down 5% to $27.22 at 1.58pm in New York on volume of 63 million shares (rounded up) while average volume is 49 million shares.

Market cap is now down to $85 billion dollars.

How many trading days like this can BP take?

"BP stock is down 5%

How many trading days like this can BP take?"

The answer is obvious: 20.

More seriously, if Dougr wishes to be taken seriously, why does he or she not identify him or herself and give us a look at his or her cv. We'd know then if he or she had some relevant expertise, whether in creative writing, geology or whatever.

Actually at 5% decrease each day from its previous price it will be about 65 days until it hits $1.

Yes, at 20 days it's down 62 percent. (Excel is fun....)

"Actually at 5% decrease each day from its previous price it will be about 65 days until it hits $1."

Not really. 5% of today's opening price times 20 takes the stock to zero.

We're figuring 100, 95, 90.25, and so on: each one is 5 percent less than the previous one. It's the right answer also; just depends on how you figure '5 percent decrease each day'.

If it falls over dougr is correct. The fullness of time will decide dougr and/or Simmons, etc. will be vindicated. Simmons, of course, did not hide his identity.

So far, the tinfoil group seems to be winning. Regardless of protestations of the impossibility by those more knowledgeable(?).

"Simmons, of course, did not hide his identity."

No but dougr has hidden his. Are we to assume that dougr is saying nothing that Simmons hasn't said? If so, why are we wasting time on it? Lets just keep with Simmons claims which are, at least in part, self-evidently false, e.g., the hundreds of square miles undersea lake of oil. Surely, no one believes that NOAA could have missed that.

It's not even a question of NOAA possibly missing it. According to what I've read, Simmons claimed the information came from the Thomas Jefferson research vessel. They obviously reported no such thing (docs are online). He hasn't provided any other source. I don't know any sensible way to see it other than that it was a lie. He's short 8000 shares of BP stock.

When this kind of financial product is being flogged... it tells you something.

"Reverse convertible BP chainsaw, sir?
Posted by Joseph Cotterill on Jun 25 16:15."


"For each $1,000 principal amount of the Notes, the investor will receive $1,000 plus any accrued and unpaid interest at maturity unless:

(i) the Final Stock Price is less than the Initial Stock Price; and

(ii) on any day during the Monitoring Period, the closing price of the Reference Stock is less than the Barrier Price.

If the conditions described in (i) and (ii) are both satisfied, then at maturity the investor will receive, instead of the principal amount of the Notes, in addition to any accrued and unpaid interest, the number of shares of the Reference Stock equal to the Physical Delivery Amount, or at our election, the cash value of those shares. If we elect to deliver shares of the Reference Stock, fractional shares will be paid in cash.

Investors in the Notes could lose some or all of their investment at maturity if there has been a decline in the trading price of the applicable Reference Stock."

Went to Hooters today. It was packed. There were National Guard there. I thanked them and told them of my combat service and of course they opened up. I asked them what their MOS (job classification) was and they told me medics. I was thankful and said, "Thank God that local health issues are being addressed." They said, "No Sir (I was an O-2) we are not here as medics. We are here helping folks fill out BP claim forms." So then I asked him what he thought of Admiral Allen. This spec 4 was on his way to general because I loved his answer. He said, " Lieutenant, I am going to answer that in such a way that you will understand my answer. As with all leaders that are assigned to me by the President, Governor Riley, and their designated officers, I have the greatest confidence in Admiral Allen and his capabilities." For those of you in the civilian world, that meant he did not think much of the Admiral at all. Sorry moved during photo.

"I am going to answer that in such a way that you will understand my answer."


Weeks ago, before he went sailing, Tony Haywood said the leak would be reduced to a trickle "by the weekend". A number of weekends have now passed and the leak is clearly much more than a trickle. So is Tony Haywood simply clueless, or has BP been compelled to change its plan for containing the leak? Or is Tony Haywood trying to destroy BP's credibility? Is he, in fact, posting here under the name dougr?

Trickle is in the eye of the beholder......When you get to my age you'll know what I mean.

If now it really is just a trickle, does that mean that virtually all the oil on the surface is from the early days and little is now being added (assuming most of what does leak is being emulsified). In other words, does that mean that without a worsening of the leak, the amount of oil that can come ashore is being reduced as the cleanup/skimming operations continue?

dan -- sounds like you might be able to use one of my tricks: Viagra...keeps me from peeing on my feet.

I thought that is what they gave to the guys at the old folks home to keep from rolling out of bed.

here is an interview with Samantha Joye from earlier today (MP3)

she speaks about the Plumes and about 2/3rds of the way through comments on various "theories" including cracks in the sea floor and the risk of a huge explosion. I won't offer a summary for fear of being accused of putting a spin on it. Suffice to day her story on the cracks is somewhat different than the short answer in her blog and she advises against trying to use explosives to stop the leak for fear of setting off a deep sea gas explosion. (the link came from her site (gulfblog.uga.edu/multimedia/) so I assume it is legit.

MP3 File



Money-saving measures BP took while designing the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico appear to have dogged efforts to bring the massive oil spill under control.

Documents released by congressional investigators show that modifications to the well design BP made last year included a reduction in the thickness of a section of the casing — steel piping in the wellbore

The modification included a slight reduction in the specified thickness for the wall of a 16-inch-diameter section of pipe toward the bottom of the well, according to a May 14, 2009, document.

Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern. Odum and others from the industry regularly sit in on high-level meetings with BP and government officials about the spill.

If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer.

The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."

The strength and thickness of casing walls are key decisions in well design, he said. If the BP well's casing wasn't strong enough, it may already be split or could split during a containment effort.

BP spokesman Toby Odone said the decision to reduce the pipe thickness was made after careful review. The company said it doesn't know the condition of the well casing and has no way of inspecting it.

But of course if you claim credentials as a poster on The Oil Drum, you can say that none of this is remotely possible......

Good shot.

"... pipe toward the bottom of the well"

"... pressures deep in a well"

Two points, dougr:

1. Your post is not a reply to the post linking to the Mandy Joye video. Please watch what you're clicking.

2. Could you cite an example of a poster "claim[ing] credentials" here "say[ing] that none of this is remotely possible"—please?

I suspect that you cannot.

I suspect you do recognize an emphatic when you see one....right?

Find these words on this thread:

"The BOP is not in danger of tipping over."

While in the comment you are responding to this is not the case.

"Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern."
"If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer."
"The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."
"Documents released by congressional investigators show that modifications to the well design BP made last year included a reduction in the thickness of a section of the casing — steel piping in the wellbore"

Unresponsive, dougr. More reliance upon noise and misdirection.

I'm almost certain, by now, that your efforts are intentionally fraudulent.

Believe what you wish. You are wrong. Should I now accuse you of fraud? Grow up.

The article I reference there directly addresses the concern expressed by at least two known qualified people about possible loss of stability of the BOP and why they are concerned. This thread begins with the claim that the BOP will not lose stability. That is not the case.


Just a minor point.

Just because the steel casing is specified to be of x strength --- that does not mean it cannot have a flaw in a particular section / area or damage from handling / use that would be a weak spot.

It is widely known that in the past 7 years, every industry have worked diligently to cut the amount of materials used for jobs for cost savings.

Something to be expected when commodity prices spiked the way they did.

This particular engineering decision (to use thinner pipe, which may or may not be the same strength as the old one depending on many things, including the strength of the steel), is almost certain a product of the cost cutting efforts.

In one of my alter egos, I watch a certain maker of transportation equipment apply "lean" principles to their stuff to the point where testing and validation became an afterthought, supervisors were eliminated at the line level, and components, including steel, became so thin that literally, their stuff crumpled on any unexpected stress.

That company once had a stirling reputation for quality.

If you read the whole thing - yeah, they are explaining why topkill was stopped, AND why they don't want to put backpressure on the well.

Basically - there's nothing here that is in variance w/ what Shelburn or Ali have been saying all along. In fact, when they STARTED top kill Shelburn said that if it was him, he'd have tried to get everybody but the Q4000 outta there in case something like this happened.

The condition of the well also limits how much oil and gas can flow into containment systems now being used successfully to capture some of the flow. Even if a vessel could capture all the hydrocarbons gushing from the well, some would have to be released to keep well pressure under control.

Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern. Odum and others from the industry regularly sit in on high-level meetings with BP and government officials about the spill.

If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer.

The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."

The strength and thickness of casing walls are key decisions in well design, he said. If the BP well's casing wasn't strong enough, it may already be split or could split during a containment effort.

All the point covered are true. It is when you combine them out of context that you reach an untrue conclusion.

Item 1

Documents released by congressional investigators show that modifications to the well design BP made last year included a reduction in the thickness of a section of the casing — steel piping in the wellbore

The modification included a slight reduction in the specified thickness for the wall of a 16-inch-diameter section of pipe toward the bottom of the well, according to a May 14, 2009, document.

Item 2

Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern. Odum and others from the industry regularly sit in on high-level meetings with BP and government officials about the spill.

Item 3

If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer.

Item 4

The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."

Item 1 is about the 16" casing which is contained inside the other casings for about 4,000 feet. And many on TOD drum including myself have expressed concern about the integrity of the 16" casing. Admiral Allen essentially said the 16" rupture disk at 1,000 feet had failed.

Item 2 does not specify which casing he is worried about, I would assume he means the 16" casing or possibly other casing further down.

Item 3 is only true is the casing near the mudline ruptures or an underground blowout follows the well casing to the surface. THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT EITHER OF THESE THINGS HAS HAPPENED.

Item 4 is a general statement that is certainly true but is not specific to any particular casing on this well.

By taking these items and combining them without the necessary qualification of location and applicability you draw incorrect conclusions.

The 16" casing is contained inside the other larger casings so it is not leaking out of the well casing into the mud. It can only leak out if it goes down to the 4,000 foot level and there is a good chance it is leaking into a formation down there, NOT UNDERNEATH THE BOP.

You conveniently left out a couple other paragraphs from the Houston Chronicle article.


The blowout preventer has been listing slightly since the accident, but officials believe that may have happened when the Deepwater Horizon sank while still attached to the well via a pipe called a riser.

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday noted research vessels found natural gas seeping from the sea floor several miles away from the well. Those appear to be pre-existing seeps that occur naturally, a NOAA spokeswoman said, and unrelated to the spill.

The chances of the well eroding from underneath and the blowout preventer tipping may seem unlikely.

"But everything about this well has been unlikely," said David Pursell, an analyst with Tudor Pickering Holt & Co.

So we have a financial analyst possibly supporting your position to the extent of; "But everything about this well has been unlikely".

From interview:

"Goal of our work follow up on previous research work on Pelican where they had first discovered underwater plumes of oil around the leaking wellhead and during our two week cruise we confirmed the findings"

PQ, you're not confusing underwater plumes with vents in the seafloor are you? Plumes are the "clouds" of dispersed hydrocarbons suspended at various levels in the ocean. Or are you making some other point?

Rather off topic but I'll share: many years ago an old WWII navy vet told me about a movie they were filming on his tin can. Otto Preminger was the director. They needed a shot of depth charges going off so they rolled a few for him. But they set the fuses on the DC's for deep so they made hardly a ripple. Otto came of his chair yelling:"My plumes! My plumes! Where are my f*cking plumes!"

For some unexplained reason I can never see or hear the word plume without thinking of that story.

Rockman, this often flashes in my frontal lobes when I think of plumes, from a little before WWII:


Actually a nice interview with a scientist who says it will take a long time to evaluate all the data that has been and will will be gathered and to understand the effects of deep oil gas releases on the environment. Sounded pretty professional to me.

Yeah, Dr. Joyce did very well, until she got to the part about the possibility of a large underground gas explosion. All she needed to say is that there must be (free) O2 present for a conventional explosion and there ain't none down there. But she rattled on about dynamite, etc. Which goes to show you that "experts" get in trouble when outside their fields of expertise.

Thanks for the link, interesting stuff. And helpful.


BP stock is below $27.

If it closes below $27

The market will have spoken - that was the last line of resistance on the way to $10

Hardly matters if dougr etc. is right -- the markets spoke authoritatively.

What's your short position?

Nil. None. Not a single position open on BP or any related bets.

I wish I bought CDS on their debt back in April...

Are you telling all? You certainly seem to be extremely interested for someone with no position.

Myself I just wish I had enough money to buy BP petrol most of the time (seen the UK price recently?) never mind play in the markets.

I am planning a hostile takeover of BP for $1 in September.

Congratulations. Your English is a lot better than my Chinese then :)

Edit: Just noticed your first TOD post (1 year 1 day ago) began


Please fix the following minor technical errors:

China's currency is the Yuan, or Renminbi.

So there we have it. Obvious Petrochina shill :)

Hardly matters if dougr etc. is right -- the markets spoke authoritatively.

Yes who cares about the oil-spill when you can make a fortune out of the disaster at the casino. More made up gulf apocalypse news should help nicely.

Right now, BP is not priced for the "worse case" scenario.

It is priced for a moderately successful relief well.

There is no casino to solid financial research that assigns a fair market price to BP on the balance of the probability of different outcomes.

Judging by what I have seen in the past with shrills...

Once the main line of resistance is overcome (in this case BP goes and stays firmly below $27, there will be a period of relative low activity as the shrills are laid off or until another line of resistance materialize - at $10.

Since BP started this saga with their stock at $62.38 (52 week high), at $27, Matt Simmons are on balance, more right than anyone else in his specialty --- the financial call.

At $10, if I were Simmons, I would cover the shorts!

Shill, not shrill.

Petey, they pay him to spell it "shrill" so he doesn't look like a professional writer. ;-)

Tinman here's a story about the burying the oil conspiracy theory


It is not a conspiracy theory. Natural tidal actions do most of this without intervention, you cannot fight it. Why not use it to increase the cosmetic appeal of the beach? I just want folks to understand the long term consequences of this event, not 'bury their head' in the sand and throw benefit concerts in areas where the air gives me a headache in a couple of hours.

I just want to remind folks that we don't even know if Dougr wrote the post that is being critiqued, or if he just cut and pasted someone elses work.

PeakingAroundtheCorner on June 13, 2010 - 10:55am

So, who is the actual ORIGINAL writer of this post, dougr or SHR at
Godlike Productions?


dougr on June 13, 2010 - 11:08am

SHR---whoever that is---;-).

Dougr has not stepped up to the plate on the authorship of the piece. The quality of his responses since seems to indicate that he lacks the chops to have written it to begin with.

How about it dougr - are you in fact the author of the post and SHR on godlikeproductions?

I'm not asking you to reveal your RL identity, if you did that then within a day there would be reporters clamoring for interviews and you would likely get airtime all over the place. Can't imagine that you would want to take credit for your own work.

Does it matter if the work appeared in the NY Times or the President read it out aloud?

The markets have spoken.

BP is going to struggle to close above $27 today.

Break $27 at closing, and it is in free fall to $10.

"Break $27 at closing, and it is in free fall to $10."

So how short will your position be when the stock breaks $27. Or are you unprepared to put your money where your mouth is?

I am preparing a hostile takeover of BP for $1.

It'll cost you three billion.

Sell 110 million at 27 and you'll make enough when you cover at one dollar to purchase the outstanding stock.

If you don't act now, your missing an opportunity of a lifetime - that's if your right that its gonna be freefall to nothing.

Right now, I would be selling $35 calls.

All this talk of $$$ shows how much DENIAL there is of the NEW REALITY bubbling up from the gulf.

Fiat currency (those pieces of paper which were once related to gold and silver but are now only related to your pavlovian response to it) will be truly worthless and useless once the volcano/methane explodes.

I doubt even the elite bunkers will be able to cope with the methane gas clouds.

True. Worthless once the methane volcano explodes. Mine seems to be worth less every day despite deflation, for some reason. Maybe it's a sign.

Look on the bright side. Gold won't be worth much either since even the elite bunkers will be gassed.

"The Markets Have Spoken"

Pretty much the Word of God, eh?

The collected wisdom of a mass of idiots and a couple of smart manipulators certainly outweighs anything the turtles would have said, if they had a voice.

I appreciate the posting very much. It is highly informative, and considerably reassuring. I would like to say one thing about "doom & gloom conspiracy theories."

It's certainly true that we all love a good disaster flick, but I don't think it's entirely or even mostly a matter of people wanting to dream up conspiracies. I think it's that we are surrounded by highly complex systems, and depend on specialists to keep them working. When they don't work, the news media do a poor job of explaining the failures. Not because they are malevolent, but for other reasons: they aren't specialists either, and can only tell us what other people will tell them. By its nature, the media offer bits and pieces, and do a relatively poor job at summarizing, especially on stories like this one.

Meantime, neither the U.S. government nor BP have been especially forthcoming. When you keep people in the dark, it's pretty foolish to imagine that they won't turn on their flashlights and start looking around. As one of those who has been trying to do that, I can unequivocally state that I do NOT want some "disaster scenario" to come true. Yet, now that one already HAS come true, I think I and many others can be forgiven for wondering whether there is another, and potentially much bigger, shoe to drop.


I my opinion the government and agencies have been much more forthcoming than I had ever imagined. They post data on other sites, initial and interim reports, daily briefings,and technical briefings. Add that to all the disaster hearings, congressional testimony, and reams of transcripts and I would say there is more data and information than most people would ever have time to go through. In fact I find it fun to listen to a full briefing and then quickly go fromm channel to channel to see how it is reported or misreported.
Right after BP had removed the cap the other day and at the daily briefing Allen reported not only this but also two people had died one network reported that two ROV's crashed into each other and killed two people! Yesterday, I was listening to the radio and a MSM network news broadcaster stated that without the cap the well was pouring 100,000 barrels per hour into the gulf!
I have always contended that no matter how much data is put out many in the public will not only not look at it but they also will say it is not enough or say it can't be believed.That is just the way it works.
(I have also said from the beginning that IMHO the whole PR thing for BP is a waste of time. They have to stop the leak and clean up the mess. In the meantime nothing they say (or do now) will change their image or release them from liability.)

Let's wind back the timeline. When the rig sank and the riser collapsed, the BOP deadman closed on drillpipe and debris. The collapsed riser added some flow restriction. Pressure at the wellhead was maybe 8,000 psi. There is a productive sand that kicked at ~12,000 in addition to the deeper reservoir that blew out an 18,000 ft mud & water column and sank Deepwater Horizon. Wellbore lost circulation across a couple hundred feet at ~17,000, which cement may or may not have sealed. I speculated that it's possible there is another stacked gas pay perhaps at ~18,500 that could have been fractured by overbalance and subsequent blowout pressure release. I think it's reasonable that casing hangars, shoes, packers blew out and the well is leaking everywhere.

From observation I'm satisfied that there was seafloor venting near the wellhead and at 3 miles along trend through updip faults. Comfy's snide pix of seafloor debris at the wrong location and Shelburn's post notwithstanding, I'm convinced that kill wells will have to cement multiple horizons.

Whether I'm right or wrong about these assessments is unimportant, except that it may take much longer to finally halt the flow at Macondo and a tight seal at the riser flange is courting disaster IMO.

I warned on BP as a "going concern" May 16.

The only reservation I have about your "going concern" comment is that Matt Simmons claim that BP will go to ZERO will not likely be realized.

Shares of GM are still trading.

GM at 75 cents a share!


That's the final NYSE price, a year ago. That doesn't trade.


At 4:06pm, BP is $26.78.

Plunge Protection Team, where are you???


They're probably waiting for you to call them in, since you seem to have all the answers. /s

The responded. BP closed above the technically important $27.

BP closed today at $27.02

Volume was heavy.

That means they missed the technical free fall by a nose.

Monday will bring the axe?

" BP PLC has taken new steps to bolster its cash and available credit, adding another $5 billion to its oil-spill war-chest amid deepening concerns about the escalating costs of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

A person familiar with the matter said BP had raised more than $3 billion in additional unsecured bank credit lines in the last week as well as $2 billion in cash borrowed against BP's stake in OAO Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil firm, and other assets.

BP's total cash and available credit now tops $20 billion, up from the $15 billion the company said it had .."


I wonder what the covenants must be on the $3b loan they just got?

OK Lets rebuke your rebuttal point by point.

But first let met state that your thread doesn't even disprove dougr's conclusion, it only attacks the assumptions he made to arrive at his conclusion.

1) You assert that the well casing is structurally intact and is 100% cemented.

Your assertions are incorrect.

A) Congressional investigation clearly shows that the BP did not test the cement and the well was not circulated. Therefore there is no way to tell if the there is problems with the structural integrity.

In fact it is hypothesized that blown cement is the reason the well blew in the first place.

b) MMS documents show BP ran into problems with the cracks in the well casing and cracks in rocks around the well as far back as february. It took BP three attempts at cementing those cracks before they could continue.

BP continued to run into issues with cracks during the cement process which lead to a "well control" problem in march.

No one can make any claims as to whether those repairs have held. In fact, since the rocks continued to crack as BP drill further the assumption that the repairs did not hold seems more logical

c) BP's own internal documents point to a) an open hole in the well casings, b) shale collapse and c) the possibility that the oil is indeed leaking into the annulus at some point in the well.

Further more each of the joins where the well goes to a smaller diameter represents a possible failure point.

You claim not much of a leak point there but other experts say that is exactly the place where the well would leak from.

If there were any oil or gas leaks anywhere near the BOP it would be very obvious as the leaks would look very much like the leakage from the cap and they would be quite visible as they flowed up around the BOP.

You claim that leaks at this point would be clearly visible as the flow up around the BOP. This an incorrect assumption you make which may not necessarily be the case. Leaks could be making its way through a spiderweb of fissures or could possibly be making its way back down hole for some distance.

There are also occasional video shots of the lower part of the BOP and there is no sign of any seabed disturbance or subsidence. It looks pretty much like the earliest photos BP released.

Again this is incorrect. BP has cleaned a few feet of mud from the lower part of the BOP.

the 18” casing or the 22” casing were also bad and those were fully tested and used.

Where is the evidence of this?

2 -

DougR says BP cut off the riser to relieve the pressure but the time line of the events indicates otherwise. BP had released the design of the LMRP cap well before they started the Top Kill.

If BP had thought they had a leakage problem requiring a pressure reduction, they would never have attempted a top kill. So the claim that they cut the riser to relieve the pressure doesn’t fit the facts--it fits the already announced plan
to cut the riser and install the LMRP cap.

The fact that BP released the LMRP design before they attempted top kill makes no sense to support your claim nor does it discredit dougr's claims.

BP surely would have calculated that a the largest risk of top kill failing would be due to loss of well integrity down hole. Based on that assumption alone BP would have calculated the best way to prevent further substantial damage down hole in would be to cut the pipe and relieve pressure. They would have through of that before hand and hence release the design documents for that plan before hand.

In fact Thad Allen and BP's comments confirm that they are afraid of that applying any additional pressure to a possibly compromised well that they don't know the condition of could lead to leaks into the formations surrounding the well casing.

Thad Allen also did not say that this hasn't occurred. He said what hasn't occurred, to his knowledge, is communication of such leaks to the seafloor.

3 -

There is very little current at 5,000 feet. There may be other forces acting on the BOP, like gravity, but the currents are minimal. It is easy to verify this just by watching the video of the oil leakage.

There is current and it any pressure, no how minimal, applied to a 5 story 450 ton BOP will only increase the leverage of the pressure of the leaning BOP

4 -

DougR’s claim is that the inclination of the BOP is increasing. There is no evidence of this.

I haven’t seen any evidence that this tilt has increased over time or that there is any less mud at the wellhead.

There is also no evidence to dispute that the lean is increasing. The only absolute evidence we have is that on June 10th the BOP was leaning 3 degrees according to the manufacturer of the subsea bullseye.

However, contradicting your statem, there is indeed evidence of less mud at the well head because BP cleaned it away with ROV thrusters.

But the riser doesn’t weigh as much as most people would think as it has flotation on it.

Regardless the weight amount of leverage generated by a solid pipe that is 1 mile long is huge. In fact to the circular motion of the pipe moving around for over 24 hours while the riser was still connected to the rig that was floating on the surface of the Gulf after the rig lost its navigational capabilities may have in fact not only bent the BOP but it could have destroyed the cement casing down hole that you assume is 100% intact.

You do the math. You have a pipe 1 feet above ground and 2 feet below. You move it around in a circular motion for 24 hours right after it was cemented.

Now replace feet with miles and calculate how many degrees do you need to move a 3 mile long pipe with a 1 mile lever point above the seafloor to displace the formation beneath the seafloor hundreds of feet or even greater?

In any case it is not illogical to assume that such an event would damage cement casing and compromise the integrity of the well down hole.

I’m sure that BP did that calculation and it didn’t deter them from proceeding with the Top Kill.

Another flaw assumption. Top kill was the only chance BP had of killing the well until relied wells could be completed months down the road. Even if they calculated a 5 or 10% chance of success, even with the risk of making the well worse they would have attempted top kill.

Furthermore BP has admitted that the BOP is leaning and they are indeed measuring the incline.

5 -

When we have been talking about erosion we are talking about small restrictions that have been eroded where the oil flow has to pass small spaces. The most dramatic example was the increase in the leaks at the riser kink. They started at almost nothing and grew dramatically over time. A similar process was occurring inside the BOP.

Where is the evidence of this? All I have seen is speculation that makes excuses for the cover up of the true flow rate.

Furthermore, in my opinion the TOD thread that discusses the internal erosion as a possible increase in flow rate is flawed.

In fact, the thread discusses a flow rate in the range of 17-25k prior to the riser being cut off, but do you realize that at the same time WHOI measured a raw flow rate of 125K barrels per day or raw material using sonar or have you ignored that number just as the media has because WHOI numbers where in cubic meters per second? The WHOI measurements totally discredit the slow increase due to "erosion hypothesis" .

Also well casing compromised down hole leaking into the surrounding formation is much more likely to explain the drop in pressure in the bottom of the BOP. It also explains why there is such a huge pressure differential between the reservoir and the bottom of the BOP.

Hope you get reply. Good post.

Great site, I've been reading daily for weeks and have learned a lot. A few comments in no particular order:

I occasionally try and counter some tidbit of absurd misinformation that a person will say with an accurate fact, but am usually met with a blank stare or annoyed look. Science and logic takes too much work for our average citizen, soundbites are easier. As I've said before, even as an ex-teacher I am astounded at the lack of basic scientific knowledge in our population; it's a scandal and events like this really make it obvious. A very successful businessman said to me, "Why don't they just stick a big balloon in it?"

I just returned from Anna Maria Island, Florida, just off Tampa Bay. Blue water, no smell, families enjoying themselves on the beach, but all occurring with a strange sense of forboding. IMHO, everyone really knows what's coming. More helicopters than usual, one day a huge, 4-engine prop plane (looked military to me) flew the length of the shore, maybe 100 yards out and a couple hundred feet high. Everyone on the beach just froze and stared. Maybe some bigwigs taking a look????

I'm sure that the following observation has been mentioned somewhere her before, but: for all you industry professionals it's obvious that oil is measured in barrels. Of course, I understand that, it's technically correct to do so. But I believe that from the start BP has, and continues, to take advantage of that fact. It's much less threatening and alarming and "minimalist" to say that 1,000 barrels per day is leaking rather than 42,000 gallons; 5,000 barrels rather than 210,000 gallons; 50,000 barrels rather than 2.1 million gallons. It's quicker to say, takes up less print in a news story. But to the average American, who has an "emotional understanding" of what a gallon is but none for a barrel, it has painted a much less threatening and therefore inaccurate picture. I'm disappointed that virtually all the media and the government has played along with this PR strategy.

Tell it in gallons, then people will understand.

But to the average American, who has an "emotional understanding" of what a gallon is but none for a barrel, [using barrels] has painted a much less threatening and therefore inaccurate picture. I'm disappointed that virtually all the media and the government has played along with this PR strategy.

FWIW: I have barrels on the brain from reading TOD, so I tend to notice when the media reports amounts in gallons. In my observation, based on how often I've had to call up Windows' calculator to do the conversion, they're more often given in gallons than in barrels (although increasingly they're given in both; apparently many reporters have caught on to the fact that gallons get confused with barrels otherwise).

Correct me if I am wrong but the WH estimate is roughly between 18 and 35K BOPD if adjusted for the volume of gas. The preliminary report that was put out stated they only looked at total flow volumes(.12-.23 cu.meters/sec). It was after the top kill (that did seem to increase the flow) but before riser cut. Take a middle number and increase it for the drill pipe that is now flowing and you can get to the Admiral Aleen estimate of 35 k now ----which despite all the inherent inaccuracies is as good as any until we see what happens when the kill line is hooked up.

WH estimate is roughly between 18 and 35K BOPD if adjusted for the volume of gas.

There are 86400 seconds in a day (60*60*24)

The Woods Hole Institute measure a total flow rate of hydrocarbonsbefore the riser was cut at a lower bound of 0.12 cubic meters per second to an upper bound of 0.23 cubic meters per second.

Using the cubic meters to barrels calculator we get .12 cubic meters is 0.754777 barrels and .23 cubic meters is 1.44665 barrels.

That puts the raw flow rate at between 65212 barrels and 124990 barrels




Your numbers put oil to gas at 18:65 (1:3.6) for lower bound and 35:125 or (1:3.5)

Good question, but I'm pretty sure it is already adjusted down to bbl of oil. Steve Weyerer's very early high estimate was castigated because he (who is not an oil guy) mistakenly assumed that the whole flow would be oil. So 35,000 is the low end.

If we could just get the media to stop treating a worst case estimate as though it were the top of a range estimate, or treating the top of a range estimate as the basic estimate.

Range estimate: "That drive should take 20-40 minutes, depending on traffic." Media version:"That drive will take 40 minutes, and according to some experts, you will be killed in a collision."

I have a couple of questions related to this. I'm an engineer but not anything to do with the Petroleum industry.

I've wondered about the stresses put on the BOP once the drill ship lost power, sank, and even after when the riser separated from the drill ship and was bent and sticking way up, a thousand feet, as I recall. What kind of stresses could be put on the first thousand feet of liner by 5 thousand feet of riser attached to a ship that is drifting and then sinking? I would certainly appreciate and be able to follow the structural analysis of the system under these conditions by an expert.

Another question: I assume that the riser bent over just above the BOP when the drilling ship sank. How would this change the pressures within the BOP and down hole? Would this be considered a sudden change? I imagine this event as hitting the BOP from underneath with a big hammer at the time of most lateral stress from the riser bending. Does this scenario make sense?

A few threads back there is a ballpark calculation of the tugging force exerted by the drifting DWH. It is a reply to a question by Rockman that included the searchable phrase "mechanical engineer."

I think this thread is interesting and good critique of the idea in dougr's post that the BOP might tip over and etc. But a major point I remember is his idea the well casing was compromised a long distance and that could cause worse problems than we expect. Isn't there still something there to wonder and be concerned about? And I saw an explanation of why the top-kill didn't work, and it had never worked on a gushing well before anyway etc. - true, no surprise? But I don't remember skepticism rolling out anywhere (my apologies if most of you did indeed) of how unlikely that was to succeed, just various mixed doubts. More insight would be appreciated.



Trust is vanishing fast. The market's response to Hayward's comments on Thursday that BP was through the worst and only in "intensive care" was typical. The shares fell again on Friday, bringing to almost £66bn the drop in BP's value since April's accident. It's still a big beast, capitalised at £57bn – but cash is vanishing fast, not least now it has put $20bn (£13bn) into an escrow account to appease Obama.

Arguably more telling than the equity markets is what the debt traders think. The cost of insuring BP's debt keeps spiking higher on fears the company needs a big cash injection. BP says it doesn't – preferring to outline $10bn of asset sales. But they would take too long and be the act of a forced seller. And raising that sum looks a drop in the ocean, anyway.

There are other concerns, not least that the oil price has been moving against BP – down from almost $90 a barrel to around $75 in the past month. It's still comfortably above the $60 or so that the company needs to remain cash-flow positive, but the direction does nothing to pour oil on troubled waters.

Hi shelburn, thanks very much for this guest posting. Since I started here nearly 4 years ago now I've been asking old (baldy) goose "where does the truth lie?". Of course we can guess and get lucky, but sober logical analysis of multi dynamic fast moving events and data are what we are looking for and that is what you have given us here.

The main worry for me is the way the MSM latch on to alarmist reporting. Oil Drum visits hit over 100,000 per day on the back of DougR's comment. If you have come here to read rubbish then I respectfully ask you to leave, go read a horrorscope or something of that ilk. The consequences of the GOM oil spill are already bigger than most reasonable folks can imagine, no one knows what the final environmental consequences might be. This is a very real disaster in many different ways, its really time to try and minimise it, contain its consequences and to stop blowing it beyond its already expanding boundaries.

I'm 100% behind the Americans conducting the relief well / bottom kill - kill it as soon as you can guys.


Once again, Shep Smith gives cause to wonder how he keeps his job:


"I'm getting kinda grossed out, Judge," Smith shot back. "You're blaming the government for this?'

"I'm blaming the government for this," Napolitano affirmed.

Smith then went off on BP's record of safety violations and mistakes, asking Napolitano, "And now you're going to turn around and blame the government for these bumbling, fumbling, crazy people?"

"How does it feel to be standing up for BP?" he asked.

I don't watch Fox "News." By the same token, I've learned which handles to scroll on by here. Life is short, you know?

What is government? Ideas? Laws? Buildings? Of course not, it is people. From a legal standpoint, maybe the Judge was going for a 'should have been better regulated' or 'could not foresee' defense. In any case, it would seem it is easier to say people did this, and I am one person.

He is from Mississippi, right? Very fair and balanced.

It sure as hell is, huh. Geez. Today I felt like we were going thru last month all over again only with a good dose of stupidity and subterfuge thrown in. Aw well.

Once again, Shep Smith gives cause to wonder how he keeps his job:

You mean, because he frequently leans in the opposite direction from his employer, right?

Brain Griffin -
"Well Stewie if you don't like it, go on the internet and complain ".



Here's a little test for all you arm-chair drilling engineers like dougr). On a drilling rig, a cable runs from the drawworks (fast line) up to the crown block where it goes over a sheave (pulley) and down to a sheave on the traveling block, then back up to the crown block, and so on. There are four sheaves in both the crown and traveling blocks. After going around the 4th crown block sheave, the cable comes down (dead line) and is tied off to the derrick leg.
A weight indicator measures tension in either the dead or fast line, giving the weight being held by the traveling block. Let's assume it reads 50k pounds.
Now you add pulleys to both the crown and traveling blocks. Now you have five sheaves in each block with the cable running through them.
What will the weight indicator read now?
50k or
or more
or less

Geez! you mean they gotta re-rig this to a 5 part? If only they knew!

Both lines have the same tension? I thought a movable pulley would reduce force needed to pull against gravity by roughly half and increase the distance that force must be applied by roughly 2 times. Fixed pulleys merely redirect force. All block and tackle systems are not perfect and there is always loss of effort due to friction, cable stretching, etc. Point being shouldn't the dead line and the fast line read differently unless only redirecting pulleys were used? In that case, another redirecting pulley would make it read the same. I know I missed something, but I think you want thought out wrong answers too.

TFHG: re-read that again, a bit more carefully. Dont give anything away cheap now, ok?

Weight stays the same the amount of energy required to move it is less.


HOUSTON (Reuters) – With a storm threatening to disrupt oil-siphoning efforts at BP Plc's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday said collection efforts would be suspended five days before the forecast onset of gale-force winds. ...