BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - What Research Reports were Saying - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6692.

Chuck Watson's storm update, Sunday 5:40 pm

The low pressure system that has been moving over the Gulf and oil spill response area should be making landfall over Louisiana late Monday. Some skimming is restarting, but seas are still choppy and operations limited. The connection from the Helix Producer I platform to the well is still being delayed, as waves must be 3ft or less. There is another system off the coast of Belize that is becoming better organized. Models are showing it develop in to a tropical storm and following a track similar to Alex. Not good news - this promises another week of unsettled weather, and the potential for a tropical storm (perhaps 35%) or even a hurricane (10% chance) transiting the Gulf in 4 to 5 days, sending another rash of waves over the response area.

Gail's post

Every area of science or of business has its own area of research, literature, presentations and conferences. Since people in the field tend to read the same literature, this defines the "group think" of the field--whether right or wrong. I can only barely scratch the surface of oil spill literature, but I thought I would point out a few things I found.

On April 30, 2010, the US Congressional Research Service issued a report called Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress. An important graph in the report is this one:

The rather clear indication from Figure A-2 is that oil spills in US waters are pretty much going away. Even if the information was put together from other sources, this is what regulators and people working for oil companies would be looking at. It would be easy to get the idea that the whole issue of oil spills really didn't need too much vigilance now. Technology improvements over the years and better regulation regarding shipping had practically eliminated oil spills, so why worry about (or spend much government money on) oil spills any more?

Economic Costs of Oil Spills

One of the issues discussed in the Congressional Research report noted above is the economic cost of oil spills. There are three major types of costs of spills:

  • Cleanup Costs
  • Natural Resource Damages, including the cost of returning resources to the pre-damage condition
  • Other Economic Costs, such as loss of tourism or interruption of local businesses
  • One reference that is cited is a 1999 report by Dagmar Etkin called Estimating Cleanup Costs for Oil Spills. This report shows (among other things) that even excluding the Exxon Valdeez Oil Spill, US average clean-up costs are three times those of elsewhere in the world.

    A person might wonder, if, in the litigious US society, costs are defined differently than elsewhere in the world. If a bird is coated with oil, are other countries going to the same expense to try to save it? If tourism is down, are people who lost business, (plus their lawyers) being compensated? Does the government work very hard at keeping costs down, or do bureaucratic rules keep costs up?

    I did a back of the envelope cost calculation using the European costs. If the spill lasts for 120 days and averages 40,000 barrels a day, a total of 4.8 million barrels (or 655,000 metric tonnes) would be spilled. European costs adjusted to 2010 dollars, the cost would amount to about $11,266 per metric tonne, resulting in total costs of something like $7.4 billion. US costs would be at least three times as much.

    When decision-makers are deciding what clean-up actions to take, a major consideration is cost. There is a section in the same paper by Etkin called Cleanup Strategies. It points out cleaning up oil off-shore is a whole lot cheaper than cleaning up oil once it hits shore, and that the use of dispersants is usually a whole lot cheaper than the manual clean up of shorelines.

    Choices made in cleanup strategies and the decision-making process in the aftermath of a spill can significantly affect cleanup costs. Cleanup costs are often directly correlated with spill impact, particularly shoreline impact, so that reducing the spill impact can result in reducing the spill response costs (Etkin, 1998b,c). Likewise money well spent on an effective cleanup can significantly reduce later natural resource and property damage claims.

    When oil spills near a potentially sensitive coastline or resource (and near a potentially sensitive public), the most cost-effective approach to a cleanup operation is to invest as much equipment, personnel, and energy into keeping the oil away from the shoreline or sensitive resource. One unpublished study by an economist (Franken, 1991) suggests that in spill incidents in which the oil impacts a coastline, as much as 90–99% of the cost of cleanup is associated with shoreline cleanup procedures, especially when manual methods are employed. Franken (1991) showed that the cost of removing oil off shore (by either dispersants or mechanical recovery) averaged $7,350/tonne, whereas shoreline cleanup ran as high as $147,000–$294,000/tonne.


    There are International Oil Spill Conferences (IOSCs) every three years, and regional conferences more often. About the next conference, we read:

    The 21st Triennial International Oil Spill Conference on will be held May 23-26, 2011 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, USA. Over 2,000 people from 50 countries are expected to attend the technical sessions and view more than 250 exhibits. The Conference theme for 2011 is: "Industry and Government Working Together".

    There IOSC has searchable archives with more than 3,000 papers.


    I have only barely scratched the surface, but I expect these are the kinds of references people in the oil industry are reading. I am sure that someone working in the area could present much more.

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8. Yes, HO and others have put up many counterarguments to the "DougR" comment. There are many many links, but the first one was here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6609. If you ask in the thread nicely, they will also point you to others.

( I just put this comment in a previous threat, right as the thread was being closed. Seeing as I was interested in getting some replies to my comments, I have posted it again )

Maybe this has been suggested before now, although I haven't seen it.

If the problem with the first cap was the formation of Hydrates clogging the system, then could not something similar be a workable solution to the problem?
We need something that is the reverse of the erosion problem - find a way to create a accretion process.
If water was injected into the relief well/bottom kill, then would not the oil/gas/water mix flowing up the leaking well build up a slurry (or glue) that could plug the drill string/casing.
Or at least slow the flow to the point where a Mud kill pill has a chance of actually going down the hole.

If the dynamics/temps/chemistry in the gas/oil flow would prevent the formation of the hydrates inside the well, then maybe another substance could be found that would be sticky enough to gum up the works.
There are substances that increase their sheer resistance under increasing mechanical force/loading. I don't know the limits of that though...


Once the relief well is connected to the well bore of the gusher they will use appropriately weighted mud to kill it - no need for water. The mud will flow down the relief well, then up the well bore of the gusher. Once a sufficient weight of mud is in place above the intersection point, the well will stop flowing and they can start the permanent plugging process.

The sooner the better....

The reason I asked was that a comment was previously made that injecting the mud into a rapidly moving column of oil and gas might not give you a sufficient density of mud. If the mud was "aerated" sufficiently then it would not be heavy enough to do the job...
I appreciate that it is the job of the engineers to run the numbers and the mud-pumps to supply a sufficient quantity of mud to overwhelm the oil/gas flow.
But how guaranteed is that?
If it doesn't actually work as planned, then all you would get would be a frothy foamy mud mix from the top of the well blowout.
True I don't know the exact numbers, but it seems to me the situation still isn't so different from all the same problems they had with Topkill.

Lurking since start of the recent blow-out; I'll test out posting on a fairly uncontroversial topic.

Note that I'm not an oil guy but Rockman et al. have done a pretty good job of explaining things, and the physics don't seem that complicated, so I'll give it a shot.

When you start pumping mud through the relief well into the wild well, it will mix with oil+gas in the reservoir and be carried up the wild well, so yes -- when the mud hits the gulf floor the well column will have a mix of mud+oil+gas and probably won't be dense enough to kill the well. But it will still be heavier and denser than the original oil+gas; this means that there will be more back-pressure at the base of the column and flow from the reservoir will flow.

Less flow from reservoir and the same mud pumping rate means the material in the well column gets more and more mud and less and less oil+gas over time, and eventually -- provided there's enough mud available and the mud makes it to all the oil+gas flow paths -- the column will be filled and the well brought under control. The huge difference between the top kill and the bottom kill is that in the top kill, the flow pushes your mud out of the well column, whereas in the bottom kill, the flow carries it all the way up through the mud column.

I'm another non-expert, so forgive and correct me if appropriate... Simple physics would suggest that the flow velocity does not need to be high at every point along the path from the formation to the sea. The flow would be the same in terms of mass per unit time, but not in terms of linear velocity. If the flow cross section area is ten times as large at one point as compared to another, the linear velocity will be one tenth as high at the former point, assuming constant density.

There is a conversion between pressure and momentum too.

Consider two wide spaces connected through a narrow passage, all three regions containing a fluid. Assume the pressures in the two wide spaces are different. As a volume element of the fluid approaches the entrance to the narrow passage, the pressure will be higher behind it than in front of it, and this will accelerate the fluid. As the fluid enters the second wide space, the fluid looses momentum, it decelerates. This means that the pressure in front of the fluid must be larger than behind it. So the pressure must be less in the narrow channel than in either of the two wide spaces. Since the pressure is lower in the second wide space, the back pressure is insufficient to completely reverse the acceleration in the first wide space, and the excess momentum will be dissipated through viscous friction heating the the fluid, or the fluid will do some work, e.g. lifting some weight.

Conversely, if there is a wide section of the well, with a narrow entrance from the formation and a narrow exit through some constriction, e.g. at a leaking cement plug, or at the BOP at the top of the well, then the pressure of the fluid will be higher in the wider space than in the narrow passages, but not higher than inside the formation where the oil originally is at rest. If the pressure of the mud in the relief well is higher than the formation pressure, the mud should accelerate into the wild well. If the cross section of the passage between the wells is large compared to the narrowest constriction along the path of the oil leak, the mud should flow into the wild well in larger quantities than the oil and gas that is exiting at the sea floor. This will increase the relative amount of mud to oil in the well, until the well is dominated by mud.

Regarding the possibility of plugging the well with hydrates, I see two problems. Hydrates are stable only below a certain temperature (dependent on pressure), and I believe the oil reservoir is well above the hydrate stability point. In other words, it would be necessary to pump in enough water to cool the well. This would probably be a large quantity and require more effort than pumping mud. Remember, if the mud would be diluted by a fast flow of oil, so would the water. Second, the hydrate may not be hard enough - I have no data on its hardness. In the top hat, the hydrate was probably subject to rather moderate pressure differences since the oil could escape below the hat. Were the hydrate to block the flow of oil in the well, the hydrate would have to support the full pressure differential of the formation vs the sea floor - adjusted for the weight of the fluid column. If the pressure differential exceeds the hardness of the hydrate, it will simply break and squeeze through.

R -- The one big difference between top and bottom kill: in TK they had to force the mud "upstream" against the oil flow. In BK the mud will be moving in the same direction as the oil. And you're correct: though the csg volumn is only around 1,200 bbls they may have to pump 20,000+ bbls to compensate for the dilution effect.


If they get both the relief well and the main well filled with mud - how do they get the cement in to plug the wells?

Don -- That should be the easiest part of the process. Once they've killed the flow they'll pump cmt down the drill pipe. They'll probably put a "spacer" between the cmt and the mud already in the drill pipe. Flushing the mud away from the cmt target makes for a better cmt job. The cmt can be weighted just like the kill fluid so the hole will stay killed. Wait long enough and the cmt will set. And at that point they'll pressure up against the cmt to make sure it holds. Unlike what apparently happened to BP.

But even when the well is killed and cmtd on the bottom BP still has a big job ahead of them. Unless they get an exemption from the MMS they'll still have to reenter the well from the top and set the appropriate cmt plugs. This step alone could take months and cost way over $100 million.

Yair...Hey Rock if we lived in a perfect and world and the BOP had worked...that is to say the cement job failed and they lost the well but the shears had cut and sealed the pipe, what would happen next can the situation be recovered?


scrub - on paper the plan would be to latch on to the BOP with drill pipe and pump a kill pill into the well. In theory this should work. Essentially what they tried to do with the top kill but without the well flowing. Given how many things that should have worked that didn't makes me wonder if this plan would have gone as designed.

On "pushing upstream" -- I was just listening to the Kent Wells update from 5/16 (before the top kill), he mentioned the mud pumps had a flow rate of 40 bbl/minute. That's 57600 bbl/day -- which is slightly less than the current upper estimate of flow -- 60k bbl/day. So I don't think it's all that surprising that the top kill failed.

(At the time the official flow rate estimate was 5k bbl/day...)

That makes more sense... I don't remember the exact source any more, but I do remember the figure 80 bbl/minute top flow rate of mud, from a more or less official source (BP site, New York Times citing BP, or similar). That led me to ask if the flow of oil could be comparable to 115 kbbl/day, since the top kill had failed.


I remember watching the top kill effort. At the time it looked as if the best they were able to do was a stalemate with the flow oil. All the mud going to the BOP was essentially leaking out the top, very little of the mud going into the wild well. Your numbers confirmed what appeared to be taking place.

Gail said:

A person might wonder, if, in the litigious US society, costs are defined differently than elsewhere in the world. If a bird is coated with oil, are other countries going to the same expense to try to save it?

In one of the press releases I saw recently, there was a story about how the Coast Guard loaded up 6 pelicans and 12 sea gulls that had been cleaned of oil and flew them in a large Coast Guard plane to Tampa for release (complete with lots of press coverage). I can't imagine any other country in the world spending that much money on 18 birds.

Don't get me wrong . . . I am all for cleaning up birds, where possible - especially threatened or endangered ones - but couldn't they have put them in a van or something and driven them a few hundred miles away and let them loose? Or shipped them via a commercial flight?

Cost of publicity. OTOH those planes are shuttling all the time so they may well have used a regular coast guard flight anyway.



There are usually 30 - 40+ Pelicans per flight. These are Louisiana's State Bird (my home state), and they were just de-listed, in January, from the endangered list. Now, it seems that they will return to same list.

There are plenty of family pets that have been dropped off at animal rescue organizations here, because the people who have lost their jobs in the fishing industry, and oil support industry, were suddenly faced with no income, at all. These animals have been picked up by various supportive organizations, and were driven by van to new areas for adoption.

Thanks Gail,

This is an interesting topic and there are many differing views. My experience is the accounting side of many corporations don't have working models that show savings via prevention methods. The overall view is prevention measures are a negative drain on finances.

The data available to show the costs of oil spills or hazardous waste are easy to find whereas data showing the savings through prevention are negligible. There's more data to show increased cost to consumers due to accidents or negligence but no comparisons for cost savings because the accident didn't happen. Prevention included in risk management reports or company policy is a word inserted to show the intended viewer **the company cares**. There's lots of lip service given to prevention but when the catastrophy occurs it gets the **accidents happen** label.

When addressing the current GoM incident I think BP did everything to insure the incident occured. It's policy, procedure, and corporate body language was close to non-existent when addressing issues to insure prevention. This is true for many large corporations. When addressing the oil industry most of the people here at TOD know and understand the industry is dangerous and prone to accidents. Without moving into the hypothetical what-if's of how or why accidents occur I will just state an emphatic; people cause accidents. Mechanical failure and design comes up second in causes and the "this wasn't preventable" is way out there on the horizon. It's good to see citizens vigilant to what's going on around them after a major accident but when things settle down it's back to the daily routine.

I acknowledge not being the math whiz but do pretty good with the numbers in my profession. There are folks here who enjoy the processes applying to the petroleum industry along with the engineers and legal eagles. I would like to ask that attention be given to comparing the savings versus the losses. I think the overall losses are infinite because the lost labor and production of the people affected is probably three time more than most estimates and the same could be applied to other factors as well.

The following link is a recent EPA study or highlight from industry but it doesn't relate to savings. I'm out of time today, Thanks again


from the end of the last thread

NEW ORLEANS - The Captains of the Port for Morgan City, La., New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala. , under the authority of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, has established a 20- meter safety zone surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil response efforts taking place in Southeast Louisiana.

Vessels must not come within 20 meters of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law. ...


CNN Anderson Cooper on the "safety zone"

Huffington on the "safety zone"

My comment is that there appears to have been a pattern to restrict media access eg. this report from mid June:

and this article at the end of May in Forbes:

Media claim access to spill site has been limited
May 30


A lot of the media attention has turned from BP to the administrations shortcomings. I'll bet Obama is very tired of looking at video and pictures of oil on the beaches, booms on the beaches, and birds covered in oil.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the military has clamped down on the media coverage in Afghanistan. There is plenty of stories about this in google: See http://news.google.com/news/more?q=Gates+media+afghanistan&hl=en&safe=of...

Example from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/world/03pentagon.html

Gates Tightens Rules for Military and the Media

Published: July 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — Nine days after a four-star general was relieved of command for comments made to Rolling Stone magazine, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued orders on Friday tightening the reins on officials dealing with the news media.

The memorandum requires top-level Pentagon and military leaders to notify the office of the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for public affairs “prior to interviews or any other means of media and public engagement with possible national or international implications.”

That is the kinda thing that happens in dictatorships.


In a dictatorship McC would have been shot. At the very least McC would have been shot for stupidity. A four star general states in a mag interview that his boss is a wimp. It must have been a low blood sugar moment or it was his way of saying he wanted out without coming across as a wimp himself.

You comment indicates lack of military protocol knowledge.

You go from:

"A lot of the media attention has turned from BP to the administrations shortcomings. I'll bet Obama is very tired of looking at video and pictures of oil on the beaches"

"Perhaps not coincidentally, the military has clamped down on the media coverage in Afghanistan"


"That is the kinda thing that happens in dictatorships"

Nothing but maybe and looks like and a whole lot of bull in between.

We had a very nice dictatorship when Bush was in office. Bet you thought that was just fine.

You struggle to get intellectual consistency from a poster concerning the logical outcome of continuing down the road we're on. But then surrender completely to Bush Derangement Syndrome, where every statement is utterly beyond any rational basis, anytime Bush is mentioned. It seems the poster has far less issues with consistency than you do.

It also went out to everyone here (Pensacala Beach, Pensacola and Gulf Breeze) in the Santa Rosa County daily updates. Most spend today out in the sound of the Gulf and are angry they can't get out of the canals due to the boom restrictions. I fully undertsand the need to boom the inland waterways because the marshes, bay and estuaries are so much harder to clean than the beach, but it means I could be breaking the law sitting on my deck if an oiled bird is out in the "yard". I mentioned on the last thread that this island at it's widest point is only 1/4 mile wide and that means we are all incredibly close to the Gulf (I'm about 100 ft) and the sound side.

I just saw the Anderson Cooper video. According to him the CG wanted a 300' exclusion zone, which would have isolated many of the beaches from any public visitation and completely kept the media from getting anywhere near the boats engaged in oil cleanup. Making a violation a felony? Why all of the secrecy and security all of a sudden? The only boats out in the oil right now are either carrying press or officials, cleaning up oil, or are trying to find and rescue oil covered animals and birds. I doubt it is much of a tourist attraction, so every boat out there is doing something involved in the disaster.

Allen says it is for safety purposes, but have there been any incidents where press or civilian boats caused a safety issue out there previously? Every reporter I've seen said when the CG told them to move, they moved. In addition, people hired by BP are still telling reporters they won't talk for fear of losing their jobs, and reporters are still being ordered away from oil cleaning operations on the shoreline, despite Allen's comments that there are no restrictions.

This is starting to look like the government is simply completely unprepared in how to deal with a disaster of this magnitude, and especially the PR side of it. I expected better results from them.

Speaking of our litigious society, our friend E L (whom I hope pipes up again) may appreciate this:

TALLAHASSEE — In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP publicly touted its expert oil clean-up response, but it quietly girded for a legal fight that could soon embroil hundreds of attorneys, span five states and last more than a decade.

BP swiftly signed up experts who otherwise would work for plaintiffs. It shopped for top-notch legal teams. It presented volunteers, fishermen and potential workers with waivers, hoping they would sign away some of their right to sue. ...

Litigation is the cornerstone of every good economy :)

Because I had an error in the calculations of the last posting, and the main topic is closed now, I repeat it here with more correct figures.

Because I work in a kind of nuclear facility and know quite much about accident prevention there - I always asked myself why our principles of accident prevention cannot be transferred to oil businnes.

I think the comparision is justified - let me explain:

The danger in the release of radioactive contamination into the environment is caused by the risk of producing cancer in the human body. As a rule of thumb you say an exposition of 200mSv (miliesievert, unit of radiactive exposure) gives you a 5%-risk of coming down with leukemia.

Petrochemical products show an similar risk: Inhaling 1g of benzene creates a leukemia risk of 1:16000. Assuming a linear correlation between radiation dose and cancer risk (as all radiation protection laws do) 1g of benzene equals about 0.25mSv.

Now we have to calculate the abstract unit of mSv into the amount of a material. The typical factor (taken from Cs137, one of the worst isotopes released at reactor accidents) is 3*10^-10 Sv per Bequerel of radioactive material, 1mSv equals 3MBq. This means 3MBq radiation release equals 4g Benzene release.

In Chernobyl an amount of 10^18 Bq of Cs137 was released. According to the extremely simplified but for a first approximation appropriate calculation above this equals 1.3 million tons of benzene. If there are 5% of benzene in crude oil, you need to release about 30 million tons of crude to equal the cancer risks of the chernobyl accident. This could be about 50 times the amount released in the GOM, but it shows that crude oil is also a substance leading to significant cancer risks.

So what is done in nuclear industry to prevent the release of dangerous material? The most important principle is that there are always at least two independently effective barriers from radioactive material to the environment. And everything what only destroys one of these barriers has strictly to be reportet as an accident even if no radioactivity is released.

For these accidents, there is an event scale called INES. It defines several levels of an accident, starting at 0 for events without any risk for the environment, and ends at 7 for a catastrophy with large-area contamination (chernobyl).

Transfered to oil business, you could setup a similar scale:
0 - No direct security issue, but interesting for other drillers (e.g. pump motor failed)
1 - irregularity in drilling process, e.g. a "kick" which was controllable
2 - failure of a single barrier, e.g. a failed cement test
3 - failure of a safety-relevant barrier, e.g. of a gasket on the bop
4 - release of hydrocarbons on a in-facility scale
5 - release of hydrocarbons on a outside-facility scale
6 - release of hydrocarbons so that containment measures are necessary
7 - release of hydrocarbons with significant impact on environment and human life

Equivalent to nuclear facilities, the law should make it obligatory to publically report ALL events from degree 1 upwards, to report countermeasures and to stop further drilling activity till the issue is solved. In no case it should be allowed to operate the facility without 2 independent security barriers like in the macondo case without positive tested cement AND a flawlessly working BOP. If one security barrier is removed (like the heavy mud was replaced by water) the operaters should have to prove that there are TWO other barriers each capable of retaining the hydrocarbons. It must absolutely be prohibited that a "one-point-failure" is able to cause a blowout.

I post this here because I´m not in oil business. Please think of this only as a stimulation for thinking of better security measures.

What you suggest should be adopted by industry, TODAY.

You do know that equating the oil industry to the nuclear industry is a dangerous path when the cost of producing oil is considered. People don't have a sense of the danger of "natural" products such as oil as compared to "nuclear" products. People will not understand the urgency of what you say.

This period in time may be your best shot at getting movement on your idea. It should be clear that what you suggest will actually save money. And that is the real issue in any industry.

I suggest emphasizing the money saving end and make an additional benefit the safety spin when on this site. And I suggest a campaign to educate the public on the safety end before attempting to push that aspect. I think people will balance their safety to the benefit of cheap oil and go for the cheap oil aspect. Just look at the 30k deaths in automobile accidents to see the balance of risk to benefit that the public exercises on a daily basis.

You suggestions should be offered up as you have done, adopted by industry without argument and set in motion.

If industry does not adopt something similar, perhaps government intervention would then be appropriate.

what do you define as a release. a cup? a liter? a barrel?

I believe the oil industry uses the same "conduct of operations" that the nuke industry uses. I know they use the same safety programs promoted by OSAHA.

Concerning reporting. To who and how fast. There is not a NRC or any other regulating body in the USA with the expertize to understand what the companies would be reporting. The environmental and wildlife agencies are populated with folks that do not have hard science backgrounds. The delays would be extreme. An example being the BLM takes 6 years to approve a power transmission line across southern Idaho while at the same time the NRC takes 2 years to approve a uranium enrichment plant.

They clearly don't practice the redundancy at all times described above.

Xenon - the difference in safety requirements between the oil industry and the nuclear industry comes out of history. The oil industry began before we knew about the association of benzene with cancer, and a lot of other things. And it grew into a wealthy and politically powerful industry in time to prevent these sorts of laws from being applied.

TinFoilHatGuy began a discussion on an earlier thread about the disposal of oiled sand. The exemption of many petroleum industry wastes from hazardous waste laws comes out of this history. And it wasn't just the lobbying of the industry, but also a public attitude of hey, we've been using this stuff forever, how harmful could it be?

OTOH, the nuclear industry grew up in the 1950s, coming out of the Manhattan Project. So it looked scary from the first. The Manhattan Project scientists recognized some of the dangers of what they were working with, but more became evident as time went on. And society became less tolerant of what had been common waste disposal practices. For one example, throwing trash onto unused land was okay. A friend recently told me a story about throwing trash out of cars in the 1950s and how thoroughly many roads were lined with it. We don't do that any more.

Maybe it's time to apply the sorts of standards you are proposing. Maybe Congress will consider such a thing. But the history so far has been that the oil companies lobby heavily, advertise that you'll have to pay more for gasoline if the measures are legislated into reality, and the Gulf of Mexico will dry up and disappear, or a methane volcano will erupt. And voters and legislators have believed them.

[quote]A friend recently told me a story about throwing trash out of cars in the 1950s and how thoroughly many roads were lined with it. We don't do that any more.[/quote]

I'm going to guess you have never been to LA or MS?

Have you been on any of the Gulf Coast beaches? I have been on the beaches from the Mississippi Sound to St. Pete, FL.

Some are cleaner than others, but all of them have trash. No trash left on a beach is ever acceptable, imo.

The deep south, red state, drill baby drill crowd is known for crapping in its own nest.

In my 'dry' county, I can tell how good Fri nite was by the number of beer cans along all the roads.

I have to say thanks for the laugh though.

I live on P-Cola Beach and we have had volunteers since May cleaning the beach in advance of the oil hitting since it makes it harder to clean when there is trash, generally the beach here is pretty clean as most respect the "leave nothing but your footprints" signs.

I live on the eastcoast Atlantic Beach - I like the "leave nothing but footprints". Maybe we should post that on all our crossovers. Here's my contribution:


What a fantistic sunrise
this morning at the beach
all my friends were down there
taking in the scene

The lady with the camera
the ladies with the dogs
the ladies it the yellow shirts
hunting turtle tracks

There's runners, joggers and walkers
enjoying the cool morning breeze
me I'm just a strolling along
looking for some trash

I'm looking for the plastics
that the tide had floated in
papercups and plastic bottles
that belong in a refuse bin

What a way to get some exercise
what a way to meet new friends
all the while watching
the birds the dolphins
and the waves a rolling in

So if you believe in conservation
and recycling of our waste
get out there in the morning
and help cleaning up the beach

Very nice DonR~I like that:)

Hi Don,

I met one of my far neighbors (about 3/4 mile from me) by offering to help her carry a huge black plastic bag filled with trash that, it turns out, she'd collected on her stroll that day. I later found out she's 87.

The dangers of nuclear radiation was known well before the Manhattan Project. The early adopters of X-ray technology were the first to discover the risks involved before WW I. The early users of radium based paint for watches and aircraft instruments suffered from cancers of the mouth and hands at a very high rate during the early 1920s. These unplanned experiments with ionizing radiation taught us how much radiation is too much and protective measures for those frequently exposed were in use by the 1940s.


Excellent historical perspective on the differences between the 2 industries. The most tragic detail about the GOM catastrophe appears to be that it was readily preventable if BP had simply followed safe and proven drilling practices. I wonder if the manager(s) involved have a history of cutting corners in previous wells. One might assume so.

I think there is a huge amount of expertise in the nuclear industry that could be directly applicable to the oil industry.

Some media wag said drilling should not resume until we have the capacity to clean up big oil spills. If the nuclear industry operated according to that philosophy, it would be out of business, since for all practical purposes, there isn't any way to clean up a large radioactive release. Similarly, there isn't any way, to my knowledge, to clean up a contaminated marsh that gets covered in oil.

The trick is to avoid accidents at all costs.

All nuclear facilities built in the US have to meet the General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants

See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part050/part050-appa.html for the 64 criteria. Most of these criteria could be adapted to drilling rigs and oil wells.

For example:

Criterion 1--Quality standards and records. Structures, systems,
and components important to safety shall be designed, fabricated, erected,
and tested to quality standards commensurate with the importance of the
safety functions to be performed. Where generally recognized codes and
standards are used, they shall be identified and evaluated to determine
their applicability, adequacy, and sufficiency and shall be supplemented
or modified as necessary to assure a quality product in keeping with the
required safety function. A quality assurance program shall be established
and implemented in order to provide adequate assurance that these structures,
systems, and components will satisfactorily perform their safety functions.
Appropriate records of the design, fabrication, erection, and testing
of structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be maintained
by or under the control of the nuclear power unit licensee throughout
the life of the unit.

Criterion 2--Design bases for protection against natural phenomena.
Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be designed
to withstand the effects of natural phenomena such as earthquakes, tornadoes,
hurricanes, floods, tsunami, and seiches without loss of capability to
perform their safety functions. The design bases for these structures,
systems, and components shall reflect: (1) Appropriate consideration of
the most severe of the natural phenomena that have been historically reported
for the site and surrounding area, with sufficient margin for the limited
accuracy, quantity, and period of time in which the historical data have
been accumulated, (2) appropriate combinations of the effects of normal
and accident conditions with the effects of the natural phenomena and
(3) the importance of the safety functions to be performed.

Criterion 3--Fire protection. Structures, systems, and components
important to safety shall be designed and located to minimize, consistent
with other safety requirements, the probability and effect of fires and
explosions. Noncombustible and heat resistant materials shall be used
wherever practical throughout the unit, particularly in locations such
as the containment and control room. Fire detection and fighting systems
of appropriate capacity and capability shall be provided and designed
to minimize the adverse effects of fires on structures, systems, and components
important to safety. Firefighting systems shall be designed to assure
that their rupture or inadvertent operation does not significantly impair
the safety capability of these structures, systems, and components.

Criterion 4--Environmental and dynamic effects design bases.
Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be designed
to accommodate the effects of and to be compatible with the environmental
conditions associated with normal operation, maintenance, testing, and
postulated accidents, including loss-of-coolant accidents. These structures,
systems, and components shall be appropriately protected against dynamic
effects, including the effects of missiles, pipe whipping, and discharging
fluids, that may result from equipment failures and from events and conditions
outside the nuclear power unit. However, dynamic effects associated with
postulated pipe ruptures in nuclear power units may be excluded from the
design basis when analyses reviewed and approved by the Commission demonstrate
that the probability of fluid system piping rupture is extremely low under
conditions consistent with the design basis for the piping.

Criterion 5--Sharing of structures, systems, and components.
Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall not be shared
among nuclear power units unless it can be shown that such sharing will
not significantly impair their ability to perform their safety functions,
including, in the event of an accident in one unit, an orderly shutdown
and cooldown of the remaining units.

Other nuclear experience such as certification of personnel, training, and the like is also directly applicable.

The nuclear industry is tightly regulated. An application is carefully reviewed by dozens of people with various specialties and independent analysis is conducted by contractors, when necessary. Where data is lacking, research is done. Finally, there is several members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on site at each facility, and if there is a pattern of unsafe behavior, a facility can be shut down and the license to operate can be pulled.

I think the oil patch could learn a lot from the nuclear business . . . we have much in common in that the consequences of large accidents are just unacceptable. BP is learning the hard way -- the Deepwater Horizon might well bankrupt the company.

I think there is a huge amount of expertise in the nuclear industry that could be directly applicable to the oil industry.

Hmm .. not so sure.

I have worked in both industries (some time ago!) and I can say that the mindsets, goals, finances were worlds apart.

The nuclear side is VERY safety focussed - almost irrespective of cost.

I'm not so sure that safety was quite so much in the foreground in the oil projects I worked on.

However ... I also came across some instances of concealment of nuclear incidents. We knew that the public outcry would be HORRIFIC so everyone looked the other way .. the alternative would have been terminated projects, careers etc.

Anyone who has worked in the nuclear world probably knows the sort of thing I am talking about.

(Many nuclear sites also have a defence aspect tucked away in a dark corner, so the secrecy associated with those operations can provide an excuse for keeping quiet)

The oil projects however had hints of a different unpleasant odour which I never really noticed in the nuclear
industry .. corruption.

Note: This was all some time ago, so I'm sure both industries are now totally safe and corruption free.

However ... I also came across some instances of concealment of nuclear incidents. We knew that the public outcry would be HORRIFIC so everyone looked the other way .. the alternative would have been terminated projects, careers etc.

I worked my whole career in the nuclear biz (except for the summer of '72 when I worked in Houma for Welex, a division of Halliburton), and I never saw such things - and if I had, I would have reported it.

The oil projects however had hints of a different unpleasant odour which I never really noticed in the nuclear
industry .. corruption.

I know what you mean about corruption. It was a way of doing business. We bribed the driller or company man to get the work (our salesguy rode around in a Cadillac with a trunk full of goodies like cases of scotch, Browning shotguns, or whatever, and the workers bribed the roughnecks with boxes of work gloves, coveralls, or boxes of cheap cigars to help us rig up and rig down.

The offshore drillers need to make a case that systems and procedures have been put into place so that something like the DWH event will never happen again, or the American people will never allow them to drill in the GOM. I doubt seriously that BP will ever be in charge of drilling in the GOM - they have lost the trust of the American people, and will never get it back.

If I was president, I wouldn't let them operate ANYTHING bigger than a filling station in this country ever again. As far as I am concerned, they have lost their "operating license".


Are you serious. What tint are the glasses you're wearing?

The "never happen again" logo is probably why most Americans embrace nuclear. It falls just below *second to none*.

It will happen again but when it does let the reason be it was truly unpreventable, a real accident.

I don't know how credible this report is, or if it has been previously posted.


Apparantley the average life expextancy of workers that cleaned up the Exxon Valdev oil spill was 51 years, far lower than the 80 or so of the average American.

It is imperative that toxicity tests be done on the beaches and waters where clean up work is being done to determine what PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should be provided for said workers. ie Hazmat suits, Respirators.

It is not okay for the Coast Guard and BP to tell everyone that it is all good and you have nothing to worry about!

If you are working on the spill demand that you are protected, if you live nearby demand that you are informed of potential health risks for you and your family.

Get the air and water tested and find out what toxins are present and what effect they could have.

DO NOT wait for BP or the Feds to do this, they will never do it the financial implications for them are to dire, (think Bhopal) it will only happen on a local level.

This is my first post on the Drum, I thought this was important for the people down on the Guf.

I am turning off my computer for the day, will be back on Monday.

...the average life expextancy of workers that cleaned up the Exxon Valdev oil spill was 51 years...

Sounds like crap.

As far as I can tell, the only source of this (mis)information is the Kerry Kennedy interview from Campbell Brown. A commenter at Metafilter wrote that two books by Merle Savage also make the claim. Another commenter wrote the following:

...anyone who worked on the cleanup and is now dead probably died young, simply by virtue of the fact that the cleanup was only 21 years ago and it's not like they send elderly people to clean up oil spills... You would have to wait for all the workers to have died before you could get accurate lifespan information -- phoenixy at 4:55 PM on July 3


On the other hand, Ms. Kennedy also says that almost all of the Valdez cleanup workers are already dead...

You would have to wait for all the workers to have died before you could get accurate lifespan information -- phoenixy at 4:55 PM on July 3

Not quite, you just have to be careful how you do the statistics. The survival analysis has to take into account censoring of data. The Kaplan-Meier estimator is a an example of the correct way to do this. It is important because it is also used to figure out medical treatment efficacy.

And in the oil industry, you can use variations of this to figure out things like reserve growth properly.

But the fact that all the workers are now dead points to the fact that it is not a life expectancy problem, but a death sentence problem. If what they said is true it is a huge statistical anomaly.

I am in my 60s and I was involved in the Exxon Valdez cleanup. I had at least 2 dozen people from my company working up there. Over the intervening 20+ years I have lost track of many but there are at least 6 alive and well and I have never heard of any of the others having problems. And I think I would have as that would have triggered some legal action. One is currently working directly over the DWH site.

None of us ever had any residual problems associated with the Exxon Valdez, all are over 51 years old.

It was pretty odorous but either the smell decreased over time or we got use to it, probably the latter.

But reports of mass die-offs due to working on the Valdez spill are pure BS. I'm sure people with existing respiratory conditions suffered more but reports of everyone dying is just more fear mongering.

I'm more concerned about my offspring living continuously in big city pollution than I am about my several week exposure to the Exxon Valdez.

OTOH I had a couple close school friends in their late 20s die from cancer that the government assured us had nothing to do with Agent Orange.

Apparantley the average life expextancy of workers that cleaned up the Exxon Valdev oil spill was 51 years, far lower than the 80 or so of the average American.

Primary source information will be needed to justify such a claim. Epidemiology study in peer reviewed literature or such please.

While I agree that there is much to learn from security conscious industries like nuclear and airlines, aren't you missing a basic point? In difference to a nuclear reactor the whole point of an oil drilling operation is to let the dangerous stuff getting to the outside - albeit in a controlled manner.

So you can't make those barriers impenetrable and at some point you are going to have to remove them at least partially. Also, you operate under much more difficult circumstances. Imagine you have a running reactor 5 miles under the earth and you need to extract the nuclear fuel. Building a container around it first is just not practical.

Of course this just illustrates how addicted we are to that black stuff.

Interesting analysis, and I think applicable to all releases of materials containing known human carcinogens to the environment, not just crude oil and radioactive isotopes. Strict application would immediately put an end to the manufacture of cigarettes, outlaw tanning salons make gas stations a very different experience.

As for some factual backup, benzene content of crude oil is normally quite a bit less than 5%. Numbers I found cited an average of 0.2%, or about 1/25th what you used as a basis for your calculations, or a Chernobyl level crude release would be 750 million tons of crude.

Hi Speaker, and thank you Xenon

re: "Interesting analysis, and I think applicable to all releases of materials containing known human carcinogens to the environment"

This makes me wonder about many things. I was wondering how any specific material in question disperses, and, also, how this would affect the toxicity calculation.

It seems it must be quite different for gases than for "radioactive isotopes." I have no idea, but am curious. I haven't ever looked into how pollution is measured, for that matter - (i.e., toxins to humans, what amounts to toxins for other inhabitants of the environment, etc).

I also wonder if air has any self-cleansing mechanism, so to speak, and when and how these reach saturation levels.

All these factors are neglected in my approximation. But anyhow, particles which are small enough usually just behave like gasses. Radioactive isotopes can float in the air as aerosols (even heavy elements, which is dangerous because once incorporated by inhalation they don´t get back into the air anymore) and many organic chemicals like benzene just vaporize.

Aerosols are cleaned out of the air by rain and concentrate in the upper part of the soil - for vapours I don´t know.

I also wonder if air has any self-cleansing mechanism, so to speak, and when and how these reach saturation levels.

assuming one is talking about toxic petroleum constituents -

rain will dissolve them to a small degree, and clean them from the air.

regarding the remaining gas phase hydrocarbons (petroleum):
Ultraviolet light will cause photolysis (molecular splitting) of oxygen, water, and the petroleum molecules. The radicals (pieces) will float around until they run into something they react with. Ultimately, hydrocarbons will be oxidized into water and carbon dioxide, though the pathways are complex, and may form smog on the way.

I think saturation levels are reached fairly soon - the oxidation photolysis reactions are typically fairly slow in the lower atmosphere (most UV is already absorbed in the upper atmosphere). (smog is a pretty quick reaction, but it depends on nitrogen oxides co-emitted with hydrocarbons.)

But every day the sun rises, so bit by bit the air is cleaned.

Thanks for information, as told, I´m not in oil-business and so I have taken the first available source for benzene-content and there I was told it is up to 5%.

Also the other values are only estimations. The equalization of dose (mSv) and incorporation (Bq of some isotope) is very inaccurate, practically these two values cannot be easily correlated and for a good approximation you need to involve the whole mix of isotopes.

So my aim was only to see a rough relation between the DWH accident and the worst reactor accident. If the cancer risks are neglectible, one compared to the other, or not. And I think even with a factor of 1000 between these events, no one wants a thousandth chernobyl on his country.

Concerning redundancy: Of course no one can demand to build meters of concrete around any reservoir before exploitation. I also think some parts which are obviosly not prone to fail - like casing or piping of high quality steel - do not always have to be redundant. In nuclear technology its sometimes ridicolous, you have a pipe with 6cm thick stell of highest qualification, used at a tenth of its rated pressure, und you have to provide a plan how security of the facility is obtained when this pipe breaks. I really don´t think thats necessary at other bussinesses.

But redundancy should be an obligation for all parts which once have failed. If BP had been obligated to prove the effectiveness of two other barriers before replacing the mud by seewater, the accident would have been prevented TWO times. One time, because a qualified cement test should have failed, the other time because a security-relevant part, the BOP, was in bad shape and had to be repaired first. Further, a BOP which is not always able to sheer, wouldn´t have been qualified as a barrier at all.

If this redundancy would get law, of course drilling would get more expensive but I´m sure the industry would find good mechanisms to handle this when urged to. Is it really impossible to build emergency devices which can be built into the casing of a well and which close the wellbore underground by some kind of signal from above? If you would invent something like that and could qualify it as a barrier, you would have one problem less.

And such a rethinking of security would cost time. Valuable time in that the oil reservoirs would not be burnt by our cars but would be saved for the next decades. Perhaps a small step to flatten the peak of peak oil.

One of my family members was one of the old "rocket scientists". He told me that, not only did they have to design for multiple redundancy, they also had to have Plans A - Z prepared in case of any potential failure.

Thanks, All, for your comments re my reporting Lindsey Williams' remarks about the reservoir pressure (his source had told him, apparently definitively, 40,000 psi about a week ago).

I also appreciate the apparent high strangeness of Lindsey Williams saying that the granite encasing the reservoir was cracked. My take on this is that he may have told something else that was more unusual.... and he forgot what had really been said.

I see the clear discrepancy between the reported 40,000 psi and the officially stated 11,900 psi. It was interesting to read about the maximum experienced of 22,000 psi, in another situation.

My well-informed math professor contact had said the pressures were 'exceptional'. I'll run the information past him that is here on TOD. He did not give a figure. I understand that the 11,900 psi figure might have been considered exceptional by him.

However - another anomaly. He stated clearly to me that the mathematical models available did not apply to this reservoir. The mathematical geophysicists had not able to get their numbers to converge. The equations kept generating what in math is called a 'singularity' - i.e. the blowout. He said, hinting darkly, IT'S NOT A NORMAL RESERVOIR.

This is all I know. It was interesting enough for me to pay attention to. And I know this guy personally, but have not yet had a chance to meet face-to-face.

It sure looks - to a layman, watching all this - that something exceptional did occur. There appear to be rumors that will not go away - and I'm not talking about the crazy stuff (see below) - that this is not a normal situation here. I've literally lost count of the number of inside sources, reporting to the mainstream media (not just to internet blogs) that there is a very serious problem here.

I understand the problem of TOD regulars, and experienced oilmen, coping with an influx of apparently ill-informed and sometimes hysterical outsiders to your domain. Many people are like me and who simply want to understand. Many of you are doing a great job being patient with this. ROCKMAN, I appreciate your replies and your demeanor explaining things over and again.

One reason for this is that threads keep closing and it's very hard to find the archived material from a week ago. The thread URLs are not in numerical sequence. (I do appreciate this may be an aspect of the forum software.)

Finally, as an unashamed apologist for SHR (copied here by DougR): his latest post stated this:

SHR / DougR:

"No one is preparing for a Tsunami any more than people are preparing for Planet-X to come whooshing in and destroy us next month... although I'm sure some people are... the odds of that happening are roughly the same as being mualed by a grizzzly bear, a Polar bear, winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning... all in the same day...

I've heard about this giant crack miles away gushing out gazillions of barrels of oil.... it isn't true.

The actual real disaster is bad enough, we don't need any tsunamis or any of the other fantastic seabed collapses, methane clouds expoding and sucking all the air out... or any of the other fantastic doom scenarios that people are dreaming up... just a regular old massive oil leak is really bad enough..."

I second that.

There's a lot of nonsense out there. But not all the crazy stuff is nonsense. This is the problem.

I'm a minor opinion leader in the alternative media community, I try to be intelligent and fair, and I'm as concerned about the planet and the human race as everyone else is here reading this.

As such, I want to get my facts right. There are good circumstantial reasons to suspect the accuracy and motives of official sources of information on this and many other major problems. I very much appreciate the patience of everyone who is a regular here.

It doesn't take inside sources revealing unsubstantiated secrets and dark hints for people to know that this is a very serious problem. And it's not a normal reservoir; it's quite shallow as I understand it. But the pressure has been measured and the report containing pressure measurements has been entered into evidence.

"entered into evidence"

Is a phrase that is almost exclusively used by the legal profession.

Thank you for giving away who and what you really are.

Anyone in engineering will never use that term because they know the data is not static, but dynamically variable.

So you are working with one of the defense lawyers for BP and its co-respondents.

Rather obvious.

Another one of dougr's trolls? How many people did he bring over here to clog up TOD with garbage?

It's a public record. You apparently haven't looked at it.

Yeah, well, I guess you'll figure out that 'public records' is just another name for LIES when you wake up one morning in a FEMA death camp!!!!!1one

p.s. Alex Jones is The Messiah

Comfy, I dont think Alex has the ability to Shut Up long enough to carry the tablets.

comfy -- "FEMA death camp". LOL. Mucho thanks. My old knees were bothering more than usual this morning and needed a chuckle.

Yup. I mean, think about it. If there were no FEMA death camps, why would they need the NAFTA Superhighway? NAILED IT!!1

p.s. Is BB mint chocolate chip easy to find where you are? I'm beginning to think it's gone extinct, if my local stores are a reliable indicator.

It shows up fairly often. One of my favs also. BTW...haven't had a bite of BBIC in more than 2 months. That's why I have to live vicareously here on TOD with conversations about it.

Interesting that the NAFTA superhighway (I-35) cuts straight through Iowa where all those secret ethanol sands under the loess hills are located. The death camps are there for those miners who spill the truth. The subsidies are just for keeping the mines secret and maintaining the corn based propaganda campaign.

Interesting that the NAFTA superhighway (I-35) cuts straight through Iowa where all those secret ethanol sands under the loess hills are located. The death camps are there for those miners who spill the truth. The subsidies are just for keeping the mines secret and maintaining the corn based propaganda campaign.

Forgive my dumbosity ... but was that a serious post or simply an amusing spoofette?

"Dynamically variable" is a redundancy in the context of matter and energy. Now I've also given myself away as being the CEO of the secret corporation that owns the English language.

Do you have a workable hypothesis about what happened to cause a massive increase in reservoir pressure?

"Do you have a workable hypothesis about what happened to cause a massive increase in reservoir pressure?"

Ooh! ooh! I know this one! If the oil is coming from a granite cavern, the pressure must be generated by a volcano. Or maybe a mantle plume. Either of which will destabilize all the methane hydrates and wipe out all the wooly mammoths and sabretooth tigers like in that BBC Horizon episode I saw one time.

NO, No, no. You've got it all wrong.

The pressure anomaly was clearly caused by a stress concentration in the Earth's crust due to unusual tidal distortion of the Earth caused by the recent close approach of planet X.


When is somebody going to post up a simple, general stratigraphic column with formational descriptions? Jeez.

Please do. I and thousands of others would like to see what we think we know about exactly what's down there, and how we know, and who's telling us. Thanks.

Maybe BP PLC doesn't want all the armchair geologists scaring the locals???

BTW - no granites, only sedimentary "rocks" of various induration, and salt diapirs (salt intrusions).

Some of the "rock" types (and sediments) encountered would be unlithified sand, silt, mud, sandstone, shale, turbidite etc and ???? but no granite.

PDV -- Here you go. About half way down you’ll find a log over the last 900’ of the hole. The left column is the gamma ray curve. It distinguishes sandstone (leftward moving curve) from shale (rightward moving curve). The main producing reservoir is that 60’ thick blocky GR curve. The next track to the right is the resistivity curve. Simply hydrocarbons are resistive (curve deflects to the right). If the reservoir were full of salt water (very low resistivity) the curve would deflect to the left.

They haven’t offered more log data but the entire section from the sea floor to the bottom of the hole would predominantly be shale or less consolidate mudstone. The deposition system that delivered sand so far from the coastline doesn’t really have significance to the situation. But these are turbidite sands. Essentially muddy sandy flows that moved like an underwater river many miles across the continental shelf. The flow rate is all the more amazing given the 60' thickness of he reservoir. Some of the big DW fields have reservoirs from 300' to 500' thick.


Whatza "turbidite sand"? ~;)

If one of the BP techs could put together a stratigraphic column with a key and accompanying rock, unit and formation descriptions then much of the balderdash concerning stuff like "encasing granite" could be quickly dispelled. Perhaps USGS? The stratigraphy is developed from a well log amongst other geologic methods. A vague narrative just will not do it....

It would perhaps be instructive to have a "tech talk" concerning the geology, from a geologist. Maybe "heading out" can whip up a talk on "Bouma sequences" or turbidites to start off. Perhaps then maybe a tech talk from a structural geologist on the salt daipirism and tectonism in the area. Maybe a general talk on the regional geology and a more specific discussion of the local geology... something....

PDV -- I was lucky enought to take a course from Dr. Bouma when he was with the Oceanography Dept at Texas A&M. But you're right...HO is THE MAN for such tech discussions.

Generalized regional geologic cross section of the northern GOM. Major structural domains are numbered. Drafting: Jeffry Horowitz


Rapid burial of older, commonly muddy sediment caused build up of fluid pressure within the thick basin fill. This geopressurization decreased mechanical strength of the sediment, facilitating structural deformation. It also generated strong pressure gradients that directed fluids up and out of the deep basin towards the shallow sand bodies of the basin margin.

Although originating as a divergent margin basin with an axial spreading center, the Gulf was never tectonically quiescent. Compressional and thermal events caused by the convergence and subduction of Pacific plates beneath North America directly effected the western Gulf margin. There, compressional folds and a foreland trough overprinted the early Gulf deposits and controlled deposition.

Differential pressure gradients created as sediment began to load the Louann caused the salt to flow, creating a range of syndepositional structures including simple rollers, turtles, and salt domes, and complex salt canopies (Fig. 3). In much of the basin, salt was eventually completely expelled from its original position, creating a weld between unrelated rocks. Secondary salt bodies and canopies were themselves loaded and the salt further displaced up and basinward. Thick, isolated sediment pods fill "mini-basins" created by localized salt evacuation from shallow canopies. Stress regimes developed within prograding continental margins created zones of extensional "growth" faulting along shelf margins and compressional anticlines and reverse faults along the slope base (Fig. 3). At the landward limit of Louann Salt, the whole basin fill slipped basinward, creating a regional fault zone (known as the Mexia-Talco in Texas). Both salt and geopressured mudstone provided mechanically weak zones that accommodated horizontal movement and deformation. The long-term result was the wholesale emigration of salt from its depositional location on the floor of the basin upward and basinward into younger strata and even to the seafloor. Along the way a network of remnant faults and welds traverse the entire sediment wedge from its base to top, forming potential conduits for fluid migration.

The long history of deposition in the Gulf, with multiple rock types ranging from dolomite and limestone and highly cemented sandstone and mudstone to unconsolidated sand and mud, and depositional environments from carbonate platforms and reefs to deep-marine submarine fans has provided a multiplicity of potential reservoirs. Petroleum has been found and produced from every major stratigraphic unit from the Jurassic Norphlet age eolian siltstones and Smackover age shallow-water limestones directly above the Louann to Pleistocene turbidite sands of the modern continental slope (Fig. 2). Porosity types range from simple intergranular pores to secondary leached pores in deeply buried, highly cemented sandstones. Jurassic and Cretaceous carbonate reservoirs commonly exhibit fracture porosity.

SOURCE>>>> http://www.geoexpro.com/hydrocarbo/megaprovince/


(A 'turbidite', which can be comprised of various sediments and sedimentary rocks)

Something like this, with maybe with a comment on porosity, permeability, K and potential "super K" zones, or stratigraphic horizons that show hydraulic conductivity several orders of magnitude more than the 'turbidite sands'.... in addition, perhaps an explanation of what the various "turbidite sands" are?

"Bouma sequence"

Maybe somebody could discuss the " various sands", their hydraulic conductivity and bed 'a' and the "scoured base"? Where is FF (FractionalFlow)? Maybe a refresher on fractional flow and K....



Shamelessly copypasted from wikipedia:

The Bouma Sequence (after Arnold H. Bouma, 1962) describes a classic set of sedimentary beds (turbidites) deposited by a sediment-water turbidity current. The Bouma Sequence specifically describes the medium grained variety, which are usually found in the continental slope or rise setting.

The Bouma Sequence is divided into 5 distinct beds labelled a through to e, with a being at the bottom and e being at the top and each bed is described by Bouma as having a specific lithology (see below). In a real Bouma Sequence, some beds may be missing - Bouma describes the ideal sequence.

The beds are:

* e: Muds, ungraded, often bioturbated.
* d: Parallel laminated silts.
* c: Cross laminated sands.
* b: Parallel laminated sands.
* a: Sands and any larger grains the turbidity current was carrying at the time of deposition.

The base of the sandstone, below a, is scoured.

Bouma, Arnold H., 1962, Sedimentology of some Flysch deposits;: A graphic approach to facies interpretation, Elsevier, 168 pp.

PDV -- maybe you should host the turbidite short course. You're going to school pretty fast.

A side note: when I did my thesis on a CA turbidite field I cound't use the term "Bouma sequence". Something of a little catfight between my prof and Arni.

I remember some clueless grad student picking up a rock and asking the prof if it was a "flysch" ("Is this a 'flysch'?) hahahahaha! ~:)

"Bouma sequence":

* e: Muds, ungraded, often bioturbated.
* d: Parallel laminated silts.
* c: Cross laminated sands.
* b: Parallel laminated sands.
* a: Sands and any larger grains the turbidity current was carrying at the time of deposition.

The base of the sandstone, below a, is scoured.

FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Devonian_Turbidite_Becke-Oese_Bouma-Se...

Where "muds" = 'mudstone', 'marlestone', calcareous shale, etc.. .. ..
where sands = sandstone of various indurations
where silts = siltstone, sandy shales .. ..
bed 'a' can contain a hodgepodge. The word "olistostrome" comes to mind...

An olistostrome is a sedimentary deposit composed of a chaotic mass of heterogeneous material, such as blocks and mud, known as olistoliths, that accumulates as a semifluid body by submarine gravity sliding or slumping of the unconsolidated sediments. It is a mappable stratigraphic unit which lacks true bedding, but is intercalated amongst normal bedding sequences, as in the Tertiary basin of central Sicily.

Olistostromes are mélanges formed by gravitational sliding under water and accumulation of flow as a semi fluid body with no bedding.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olistostrome

A discussion of 'sediments', sedimentary rocks, 'consolidation', 'lithification', 'induration' would be good. With maybe references to 'competency', brittle and plastic deformation thrown in.

Salt diapirism and salt tectonism (wow):

Salt domes are the best known and most common diapirs. In the cross-section above, light blue represents salt and other shades represent other sedimentary rock layers. Salt is both very ductile and much less dense than most other rocks. If it finds a weak spot in the overlying rocks (left) it begins to flow upward. The pressure of adjacent rocks on the salt layer, plus the low density of the salt, cause the salt to continue rising (center). In advanced stages, the salt often takes on a mushroom shape (right) and can even become entirely disconnected from its roots. The upturning of layers adjacent to the salt creates numerous traps for petroleum. In the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, the search for petroleum basically amounts to a search for salt domes.

The salt can and often does reach the surface. On the Gulf Coast, the salt is very vulnerable to solution, and collapse due to solution is common.SNIP>>>

SOURCE>>> http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/Graphics-Geol/STRUCTUR/Diapir0.gif


Animated salt diapirism:



SOURCE>>> http://www.geo.wvu.edu/~jtoro/Petroleum/petroleum_figs/review2/traps/sal...

Notice the fracturing/faulting


Bathymetry of the Gulf of Mexico (image courtesy of Shell) showing the complex geometry of the Sigsbee salt nappe

SOURCE>>> http://geology.mines.edu/faculty/btrudgil/trudgill9.jpg

Bathymetry of the Gulf of Mexico (image courtesy of Shell) showing the complex geometry of the Sigsbee salt nappe


Salt systems of the northern Gulf of Mexico (after Diegel et al., 1995)

Salt systems of the northern Gulf of Mexico (after Diegel et al., 1995)

SOURCE>>> http://geology.mines.edu/faculty/btrudgil/trudgill10.jpg


Sample seismic profile showing salt geometry (black) and dasted horizons in the West Delta/South Pass area

SOURCE>>> http://geology.mines.edu/faculty/btrudgil/trudgill11.jpg

Sample seismic profile showing salt geometry (black) and dasted horizons in the West Delta/South Pass area


A complete 3D picture of the subsurface near two producing oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico:

A complete 3D picture of the subsurface near two producing oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico not only shows the sea bed at some 1,000m water depth, but features such as salt structures in green and a salt diapir that penetrates the sea bed (white). Thin lines show the paths of wells drilled to over 2000m below the sea bed to develop the fields, fanning out to penetrate various reservoirs. Shallow bodies in front of the well paths on the left hand side may provide hazards to drilling. Oil field reservoirs can be seen in colour (yellows and reds) at deeper levels. Most features are extracted from the actual data, though parts of two seismic profiles are shown in black and white near the base of the display.

great stuff, PDV. What's the age of the evaporites? *edit* whoops, never mind, given in one of the other graphics.

Well, according to the strat column up there, the evaporites - Louann salt - are middle Jurrasic in age, about 140-130MA.

Salt tectonics is a fascinating area of structural geology. Unlike most other rock types, salt is ductile at relatively low pressures and temperatures and will flow under differential pressure over time. Geologically rapid (up to meters per year) flow of salt produces a wide variety of complex geological structures, and strongly influences depositional systems. The interaction between salt tectonics and sedimentation is of great interest to the petroleum industry as understanding these processes will lead to a better understanding of reservoir distribution in salt controlled settings.

From B. Trudgill, 2004 (?) http://geology.mines.edu/faculty/btrudgil/research.html

Thanks for the excellent primer. What is the source of the salt structures? Are they ancient salt lakes, from dried up seas, that were covered by sedimentary deposits?


The salt structures have their provenance in the Louann Salt, an evaporite deposit formed by "seawater filling basins with alternating evaporations" in the mid Jurassic:


SOURCE>>> http://www2.mcdaniel.edu/Biology/eco/paleoecology/a155.jpg

Jurassic: FIsh became modernized. On land forest of cycads, gymnosperms, ginkgo common. Dinosaurs diversified. First birds crossed skies. Pangea continued to fall apart. Gulf of Mexico formed a rift zone which lead to seawater filling basins with alternating evaporations = Louann Salt deposits (130-140MA).As sea levels rose several times, interior flooding lead to the Sundance Sea.At the end of the period the sea was expelled.

Late Cretaceous:

While the days of the "gusher" is a thing of the past (which is a good thing - gushers are extremely dangerous and damaging to the environment), plenty of oil and natural gas production is still occurring in onshore areas of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas.

Just onshore, in south eastern Texas and southern Louisiana, the flowage of salt domes has been the predominant mechanism for creating traps for oil. Salt of Jurassic age occurs here. When it is put under immense pressure by overlying rocks, this salt, which is less dense than the rocks surrounding it, will begin to flow upward. As it does so, it displaces, folds, and faults the rocks around it. In this way, traps can be created.
The Louann Salt is more than 200 million years old, and is located at great depths along the Gulf of Mexico's shoreline. In some places, however, this salt has moved due to the enormous pressure being put on it from the rocks above. The map below shows us exactly where the Louann Salt is located below the surface (south of the blue line), and where structures (dark green "blobs" on the map) have been created by its underground movement.


Nearly all of the salt domes in along the Gulf Coast have a disk-like cap-rock, composed of minerals such as gypsum, anhydrite, limestone and dolomite, over part or all of their surface. This cap-rock generally forms when ground water interacts with the surface of the salt. In addition, calcite and dolomite dissolve when they come in contact with ground water. This can create large cave-like holes in the cap-rock, which may then be filled with oil that has migrated up from below. When this zone is penetrated by the drill, oil comes out of the ground fast and furious. This scenario lead to the formation of the great Spindletop oil accumulation, discovered in 1901, as well as Jennings Field in southwestern Louisiana, discovered just 9 months later.

SOURCE>>> http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/backyard/sections/southcentral/southcentra...

Salt-Related Fault Families and Fault Welds in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Mark G. Rowan, Martin P. A. Jackson and Bruce D. Trudgill
AAPG Bulletin
Volume 83, Issue 9, Pages 1454 - 1484 (1999)

Salt-related faults and fault welds in the northern Gulf of Mexico are classified based on the three-dimensional geometry of the faults or welds, deformed strata, and associated salt. Kinematic or genetic criteria are not used in the classification. Only documented fault styles are considered; those styles produced by experimental or numerical modeling, but not yet observed in the Gulf, are not included.


For those that want to learn the mechanics of clastic depositional systems(or a refresher for those that have a vague memory of strat/sed).

A good power point presentation:


A better reference:

Page 19-26 in that pps (power point show) = real good stuff on turbidity and debris flows. Excellent, thank you.

then much of the balderdash concerning stuff like "encasing granite" could be quickly dispelled.

It's like Medusa. Chop one off and two grow in its place.

Then a torch needs to be provided.


PDV -- Turbidite flow is tricky for most to envision since almost no one has ever seen one. Have just seen their deposits in the rock record. You’ve seen rivers flowing and currents moving sand along the beach. But turbidite flows occur in deep marine waters. Turbidite deposits were first identified in Italy and California. They have also been called “gravity flows”. Difficult to give a real life analogy. But picture a glass container with shallow sides. It’s filled with olive oil. Take a glass of water and slowly pour it down one of those shallow sides. Water is heavier than oil so it slides down the sides to the bottom. IOW gravity causes it to flow to the bottom of the bowl. Thus a gravity flow. Under just the right conditions a muddy/sandy mixture along the shore line will flow along the bottom of the sea floor down the slope. And it can be a very slight dip…just a fraction of a degree. In fact you can’t develop a turbidity flow over much more than 3 or 4 degrees. As the TF moves down dip the mud is slowly washed out from the sand. Eventually you have a moving sand mass very similar to what you would have in a flowing river. Except the TF might be in 2,000’ of water. When in grad school in the early 70’s there was much argument as to the possible existence of T deposits in the GOM. My grad prof was a big proponent of the theory. Turns out he was right. The BP reservoir looks like a typical channel sand that might have been deposited in a river. But the shale surrounding it (from fossil analysis) was deposited in thousands of feet of water.

They have mapped existing turbidite channels on the sea floor of the coast of CA for instance. How far could a TF carry sand away from the shoreline? One of these existing T channels runs 1,500 miles into the Pacific Basin.

Ah yes, turbitites. Remember going to a course in Santa Barbara on turbitites.

One day we parked the bus and trekked with the instructor down the side of a hill and along a creek to bang on a few T outcrops. Got to the spot near to the river and there bathing naked were some nice California coeds. We told them not to be bothered as we were just a bunch of rock guys. They just laid back down and "barely" paid and attention to us as many in our group actually seemed more interested in the geology along the bank than what I thought were more interesting features. Loved that field trip. Highly recommended.
Oh yeah, turbitites were nice too.

BTW dan: did my grad thesis on a T field (Strand Field) in the San Jac Basin. Had my field trip out of Bakersfield...in August. Almost dried up and blew away it was so dry. So much drier than usual it was making headlines. I think the humidity got below 8%. My field partner become so dehydrated I had to carry his delirious ass 2 miles back to the car. Spent the next 2 days sitting in front of our AC in the Holiday Inn. Nawlins boy got no business in Bakersfield in August.

Like that T-shirt with the skeleton, "But it's a dry heat".

By the way can you say "cross trough stratification" three time quickly.

Now can you do it after several pints of refreshment.(not Blue Bell)

While Blue Bell wouldn't have been available, I hope they provided something for you!

July through November can be insanely dry in California - I believe the record low for Los Angeles is something like 7 percent humidity, which is what I call 'don't touch metal' weather. That's Gobi level humidity, actually.

Rockman - below 8%, That is unusually dry, even for around these here parts (Bakersfield). Haven't seen the humidity that low for years. But, dry heat, yeah. Water alone isn't really sufficient, better bring your Gatorade or bad things can happen. Lived near the Gulf coast in Fla for a couple of years in my younger days, so I know what that's like too. It's a wet heat. heh heh

Kind of like a sideways mudslide. 3 or 4 degrees is more than enough for gravity to produce it. Reminds of the slow movement of ice under glaciers.

I used to observe something similar when adding salt to the swimming pool for the salt water chlorinator.

I'd plonk the 20-kg woven fibreglass bag of salt on the pool steps for the water to dissolve. Almost immediately a shimmering track of salty water would flow from the base of the bag, spread along the surface of the step, then flow over the edge of the step and down the other steps in a series of waterfalls, clinging close to the gunite surface, until it reached the pool floor and flowed in a flat stream underwater to the deep end.

It was amazing how little the salty water and fresh pool water mixed.

aardy -- Actually they used super saline solutions to model turbidite flows back in the early days of research. Not a great model since it didn't carry particulate matter.

Understanding the nature of T flows was a huge advance in petroleum geology. Prior to 1980 or so you would never be able to convince anyone there could be sandstone reservoirs existing in the far reaches of the DW GOM where all those big fields have been discovered. The convention was that once you got a great distance from the sediment source there was no chance of developing good reservoir rock. In essence once you reached that spot you didn't go looking any further out. Most of the DW plays around the world owe there existence to the embracement of the T flow depositional model.

Thanks for the info!

Question: How much water is the blowout likely to be making? Any guesses, ball park figures, brackets?

J -- I'm not sure they've gotten any sign of water cut yet. But given the conditions it might be impossible to tell right now.

Every time I see Rockman enter these rediculous conversations its like the teacher entering an unruly classroom.

Thanks, Rockman. I envy your patience.

jj -- You're welcome. But not so much patient as I am trapped in a chair almost every minute of the day from double knee surgery that didn't work too well. Quit a sight when I get out of the truck at a well site. I know the hands are making bets as too how far I'll make it on my crutches before I fall. Also one of the reasons I'm so adamant about my hands checking mud returns for signs of a kick. Spent 3 weeks on a drilling barge in S La and wasn't exactly in any shape to jump into the bayou and swim to safety. Hell...it was hard enough to just make it to the galley for a bowl of Blue Bell. But I did always make it, though.

The open hole well log does exist, not sure on the date, late may early june but it is here.
Happy hunting if you find the post,let us know wouldnt mind seeing it again myself

Check immediately above silky

hobby geogolists like me are curious too and the granit thing was like the methane vulcano to me.

I found it even difficult to find the correct drilling depth when i started looking.
Took 4 weeks.

I think i realized that oil industry is even more secretive then the CIA and KGB combined

I have seen a seismic traverse which is almost as good because, face it, we all know what the rock lithologies are.

Just go to 3:14 in:


It's eminently interpretable though some ambiguity due to the poor display.

your excellent work inspired me to at least look into GoM geology, from the perspective of my interest, (not so much sedimentary rocks, other than for determining provenance).

Don't have time to read this in much in detail, but discusses tectonics of the Gulf:

http://www.tectonicanalysis.com/site/download/Pindell_Kennan_2009_Caribb... (pdf)

From a cursory glance, the Gulf appears to be more rift oriented, (uh oh, mantle plumes!!!, really, don't be alarmed, alarmists), which I don't recall being granite-forming.

Are you Bill Ryan of Project Camelot? The Project Camelot who takes Ashayana Deane seriously?

Ashayana Deane is delusional.

The only thing that will get us out of the mess we're all in on Planet Earth is the truth - whatever it is.

Who I am: http://projectavalon.net/lang/en/bill_ryan.html

The only thing that will get us out of the mess we're all in on Planet Earth is the truth - whatever it is.

+1 .... so that begs the question how do off the record remarks by a professor who has the pressure and geology wrong fit in here?

The only thing that will get us out of the mess we're all in on Planet Earth is the truth - whatever it is.

+1 .... so that begs the question how do off the record remarks by a professor who has the pressure and geology wrong fit in here?

I'm looking forward to discussing this with him further. His remarks were brief, but he did definitely refer to the non-convergence of the numbers.

Project Camelot, with whom you seem to be very involved, seems to think that the disaster was planned by negative ET's so there would be a public outcry to use the nuke solution, thereby reducing the population. Do you believe that?

Project Camelot, with whom you seem to be very involved, seems to think that the disaster was planned by negative ET's so there would be a public outcry to use the nuke solution, thereby reducing the population. Do you believe that?


Here's my bio again: http://projectavalon.net/lang/en/bill_ryan.html

Kerry Cassidy (Project Camelot co-founder) and I separated our work earlier this year. I have no access to the Project Camelot site, and I've had no part in Kerry's recent interviews or statements.

My current view is that the DWH incident was an accident, exacerbated by human weakness (poor judgment amplified by greed and self-interest in various guises).

But I absolutely do hold the view that the various factions with various agendas will have immediately seized on the opportunity to milk the crisis to their own ends.


Bill -- glad you are here to learn more. Hope you find respect and courtesy here. I have appreciated some of the groundbreaking interviews you've done in the past. Thanks for your contributions to the greater understanding.

With all due respect, I think the "It's not a normal reservoir" stuff is so much hogwash.

For BP it was considered to be a potentially high flowing well (up to a theoretical 100 kbbl/day) on a smallish reservoir (100 million bbls). A sorry chain of cock-ups and oversights occurred in the run up to temporary abandonment and they took a big kick that led to an ignited blowout and the situation that we find ourselves in today. Nothing credible has been reported that makes me think that this "not a normal reservoir".

If they can't kill the well with the relief wells then maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, but until that happens I consider that we are still in the world as I know it dealing with an understood physical phenomenon, a deepwater hydrocarbon well blowout.

If they can't kill the well with the relief wells then maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, but until that happens I consider that we are still in the world as I know it dealing with an understood physical phenomenon, a deepwater hydrocarbon well blowout.

I really want that to be correct.

100 million barrels puts it in the top 99.7% in the GOM. How is "smallish" defined?

The median size of reservoirs is 0.3 million barrels in the GOM. The median maximum production rate is 200 barrels per day. This is information that I pulled from the MMS.

So this gives an average ratio of 200/300,000 = 0.000667, whereas they were predicting a ratio of 100,000/100,000,000 = 0.001.

So I have to wonder why they didn't drill two wells right away to maximize their throughput. Extremely rare that any well in the gulf has hit more than 50,000 barrels per day.

Supporting analysis:

Sorry - my use of the word "smallish" was not based on any statistics on GOM reservoir sizes. I just wanted to differentiate the reservoir from the X billion barrel elephants that have been mentioned by various nutters/conspiracy theorists.

Mea culpa - I'll now go and punish myself with margaritas... :-)

No that is quite alright. I just don't see enough of this kind of statistical analysis so I thought to do it myself. We will see if I get corrected and then I will have to get a drink.


I'm very impressed at your level of dedication to the cause - manually stripping all that data from the pdfs must have been a grim task!

I think its fine to try to show how a quoted reserve figure of, say, 50 million barrels for the Macondo field might compare to the population of fields in the GOM. However it is probably better to compare with the field size distribution rather than the reservoir size distribution. I've had a quick look at the 2006 reserves report that you are referencing, and note that there are a total of 230 oil fields in the GOM with a mean proved reserve of 108 million barrels. To subdivide at a reservoir level looks slightly misleading; the large number of 8000+ 'reservoirs' probably results from the way that vertical stacking of pay in different geological units, and lateral compartmentalisation into different fault blocks are accounted for.

It is also worth noting that there are special conditions associated with the term 'proved' which require a very conservative estimate of the recoverable volumes. Prior to production, it is not unusual for the proved figure to be close to a 90% confidence level rather than a 50% or perhaps mean level on which you would do field development planning. When TH says 50 million barrels he is probably talking about a mid range number.

50 million barrels is not very special at all. Much smaller and it would be a barely commercial proposition for development. Saving the exploration well as a producer as BP planned would help the project economics; drilling further production wells at say $100mln a shot will erode value rapidly.

I've got a larger problem with the way you compare the Macondo flow rate range with the data you have skimmed from the MPR reports. These reports seem to list the max rate for every well in the GOM on an annual basis, and in 2009 for example there seem to be about 8000 well records. Many of these are in fields that have been producing for a long time, and will be way down in their production tail where pressures may be low and water cuts may be high. Even if you add water and oil rates together to get a liquid rate, you are not doing justice to the original capacities of these wells. (If you are going back to 1975 then you need to make sure you are not counting wells more than once!)

There is certainly no point in comparing typical rates in a production setting (managed offtake rates) for reservoirs which are generally lower pressured on average, with a high pressure high GOR reservoir flowing in an unconstrained fashion, and hoping to shed light on its flow rate.

There is probably also no strong correlation between well rate and field size. Larger fields may or may not have thicker reservoirs and therefore higher well capacities, but typically if you can develop a field of reserve X million barrels with a single well producing Y thousand barrels a day, then you will develop a field of 10X million barrels with 10 wells still at Y thousand barrels each.

For a blowing out well you could have a tiny reservoir and a huge rate, or a huge reservoir and a tiny rate; it is purely a function of reservoir quality and the details of the blow out flow path.

There probably WILL be a stronger correlation between field size and total field rate - the larger the field the larger the rate, though note the smaller fields may have their economics improved by production at depletion rates up to, say, 20 or 30% of their initial reserve per year, whereas larger fields are typically produced at 10% of reserve per year or even less; it rarely makes sense to over design facilities to handle huge rates for very short field lifetimes.

To sum up; sorry, but I don't think your median reservoir size or well rate figures are meaningful in this context, and I don't think taking their ratio is a valid thing to do either.

Thanks for the interest in this topic. I have been analyzing reservoir and field sizes for several years on the blogs. I started with the UK North Sea because it had a very good set of data that was easily accessible.

This is field size information and I have a corresponding production rate distribution that I can dig up in a moment. The two model curves shown have a median size of 18 and 24 million barrels. This is much higher than the 300,000 barrel median reservoir size that is in the public records for the GOM.

What many people probably don't appreciate is that these are all power-law distributions so they have what is called "scale-free" properties. In general, any kind of analysis done on one scale, say reservoir scale will also apply to the field scale.

This is serious stuff and I will keep on plugging away at this because the vast majority of geologists seem to show very little intellectual curiosity on any of this kind of analysis. This is really all about looking at randomness and how entropy plays into generating a maximally disordered distribution of sizes and rates. I would be interested if you will add any more expertise to the findings.

The original context is looking at oil depletion, but it should be applicable to doing any kind of hazard analysis for future off-shore drilling. I do realize that broad statistical estimates are less useful to apply to a single data point like Macondo, but this is what the MMS data says.

Thank you for crunching these numbers. I share your distress over how little of this seems to go on in the professional geology world.


This is the UK North Sea plot that I promised before, originally published by the applied mathematician Bertrand Michel.

I added the straight line showing what would be strict proportionality between size and max production rate. Just like the GOM, it is proportional for smaller sizes and it starts bending over for larger sizes, so that you don't quite get as much out proportionally for large fields.

Of course you see scatter, but this is exactly the kind of dispersion that I include in the model.

About the North Sea production & size graph:

Is that kind of disconnect (between the expected/assumed straight line average and the actual results) something that occurs throughout all the planet's oilfields? If so, is the pattern of the mismatch similar?

I imagine that sort of oversight could have large implications for the whole industry's future and PO.

I take it you see a disconnect in the scatter or that it doesn't quite follow the line. Those may look troubling but a statistician is thrilled to have something with that obvious a correlation.

I imagine that sort of oversight could have large implications for the whole industry's future and PO.

I think the oversight is that no one has really done the analysis that we outsiders (to the oil industry) are doing.

However - another anomaly. He stated clearly to me that the mathematical models available did not apply to this reservoir. The mathematical geophysicists had not able to get their numbers to converge. The equations kept generating what in math is called a 'singularity' - i.e. the blowout. He said, hinting darkly, IT'S NOT A NORMAL RESERVOIR.

First of all, there is no such thing as a "normal" reservoir. Unless he means Normal in the sense of a Gauusian bell curve with a variance. More realistically, the variation is so great among reservoirs that a Gaussian doesn't even work and an exponential distribution models the variance better. This leads to the hyberbolic decline of reservoir depletion seen in so many situations.

Secondly the term singularity would likely not apply. I think the guy is pulling your leg a bit. If that was the case, every failure event would classify as a singularity. A few years ago there was this movement in the physics community to apply the term "critical phenomena" to every anomalous behavior observed. Certain physicists interested in this topic wanted to ascribe a phase change to the observations, which would raise the possibility of a Nobel prize if they discovered something new. Singularities are often associated with these phase changes.

Put it this way, the most common math singularity is a divide-by-zero calculation, leading to an infinite result. If something doesn't converge then whatever they are trying to calculate is heading toward infinity.

I can't stand this Art Bell, Coast-To-Coast stuff. It is not the least bit interesting. What is more interesting to me is plain randomness and disorder and variability, what we call Entropy. This is the way that nature works, but it doesn't lead to Nobel prizes nor does it give you a chance to talk to George Noury, or whatever that dickweed's name is. This is pure garbage.

Web -- It just occurred to me that maybe he means not a normal pressure reservoir. IOW hydrostaic. That would be true. At a 12.6 ppg pore pressure it is somewhat "geopressured". But not "hard geopressure" like a 17 ppg reservoir.

Got ya, perhaps not normal in a statistical sense, but instead not normal in a categorical sense.

The science is far from being properly done --- it is clearly not a normal reservoir.

Very large percentage of gases vs. liquid petroleum.

Possibly as much as 1/3 of the gases are Hydrogen Sulfide.

The oil itself is rather sour.

BP went out of their way to not release much data on the nature of the oil, the gases being released, etc.

One characteristic of the oil is it is HE oil - Highly emulsifiable - that basically have a specific gravity very close to water and hence, does not "float" well.

Lots of research need to be done to characterize the oil / gas mixture coming out, how it changes as it hits the cold water at 5,000ft depth, and as it moves around.

BP is going so far as to buy search terms on Google and Yahoo, and also to hire bloggers to push their case.

It is not an abnormal mixture. It is a light sweet (low sulfur) oil. API is near 40 degrees. Sample characteristics are well known.

Please cite your sources of your information especially H2S.


It makes little sense for BP or the industry to conceal the fact if this is an unusual or unique reservoir.

If it is what has happened here has little applicability to their future operation.

If however if this is what can happen with a typical well the implications could be great.

I'd expect they would be shouting that it was a unique and irreproducible event from the rooftops- if they could do so with any credibility.

What do you base this on? everything I've read said it's mostly light oil which evaporates relatively quickly.

There's a doomsday school which basically says "everything I say is true, unless it's proven otherwise". The sea floor is cracked, 120,000 barrels at the wellhead leaking! I mean miles away from the wellhead! They expect BP to shoot down every area 51 style theory.

what exactly is so "abnormal" about it?
H2S.....post your proof.
BTW.....the bit about buying search terms has been thoroughly debunked.

Of course it is abnormal.

No other reservoir has been found capped by 10,000' of gold.

That they've told us about.

How do you know it's gold? It could be 9000' of platinum. Who are you working for?

Because they are not telling us to put all our savings into platinum.

So why keep it secret?

Once we've sold everything and bought gold they'll reveal this deposit.

Bammo- our gold is worthless and they own all the real estate, businesses, bonds, stocks and other things we sold to buy gold.

It is obvious to any thinking person.

i d prefer irridium, thats worth more then platinum and gold combined and would pay every bill in the world

Me, I like pie. Who wants pie?

But then there would be only a 7750' layer, leaving 2250' to be filled by the end-of-days flamers with a mix of methane/magma/H2S/asphalt.

[edit: I forgot the asphalt]

Both the saber-tooth tigers and the mastodons are awfully territorial.

I reckon if it is iridium they'll claim the excess territory.

Flamers try to move in mastodons gonna stomp their butts.

And snorfful ice cream as they do it and trumpet ice cream fountains when they are done.

I always forget the asphalt too.

you could have methan hydrate in between which blows up to make irridium sponge which could be used imidiatly in catalysts, makes it worth even more.

Thanks for the love ha! The book looks good.

Oh DougrReader. You have so busted yourself now. Some of what you just spewed out is so indefensable that I'm sure even you don't buy it. Even most of the non-oil patch folks on TOD now understand your game. No doubt you're just fishing for plublicty.

By all means hang around. This is such a sad situation we can all use an occsasional laugh. I, for one, can hardly wait for your response.

I thought I was the comic relief.

"No doubt you're just fishing for plublicty."

Hey, give him a break. Life is tough if you don't have plubs.

You kids wash your hands this instant! We can't be passing a summer cold 'round here. Hate those.

"Possibly as much as 1/3 of the gases are Hydrogen Sulfide."

Concentrations this high would be on the magnitude of 300,000 parts per million. Since it takes only 200 parts per million to kill then I would imagine that everyone at the MC 252 site would be dead by now. There would have been NO survivors of the Deep Water Horizon.

Most of the Gulf coast and New Orleans would have been abandoned by now.


DougrReader -- another gem of a post ...

Very large percentage of gases vs. liquid petroleum.

now the percenatage of gas in oil can range from 0% to 100% ....so noithing to see here ...moving on

Possibly as much as 1/3 of the gases are Hydrogen Sulfide.

dougr...man even you outdo yourself sometimes....1/3 by volume of h2s...for this to be even remotely true you do understand ever1 on the rig should be dead as well as crew on the DDII/DDIII and every person on boats/skimmers (all 6000 or so vessels invovled in cleanup) near the wellsite right now should be dead besides ppl dropping off dead left right and center in southern LA and AL...

The oil itself is rather sour.

ecxept its not..it light sweet with API 33...there is nothing sour about this oil ...

One characteristic of the oil is it is HE oil - Highly emulsifiable

oil is inherently immiscible in water....reason why oil is emulsifying has nothing to the kind of oil in this case....but is a function of pressure at 5000' waters along with the dispersant being used....and oh there is no oil called HE (highly emulsifiable) oil that comes out of a well...HE is a processed and refined product that is engineered with very specific additives to allow water emulsification and even gallon of it costs an arm and a leg.....you gotta learn to be careful when picking up terms on wikipedia

BP is going so far as to buy search terms on Google and Yahoo, and also to hire bloggers to push their case.

this is standard practice...when toyota had their brake issues...they bought search terms ...same for ford/GE....almost every company buys key search terms during a crisis....so goes for hiring bloggers....its called crisis mitigation and every company is guilty of this...not exactly kosher but standard practice all over the globe.

cud go on more on the post ....

Guys : DougrReader and Dougr are two different people.

DougrReader has been a member for 4 days and has made 5 posts.

And Dougr only copied his initial material from SHR on this thread. Dougr is not the originator.


Another TOD member noted the formatting in the posts here and by 'SHR' and concluded both likely were pasted from another document, so either dougr and SHR had access to the same source document or they are the same person.

Another TOD member noted the formatting in the posts here and by 'SHR' and concluded both likely were pasted from another document, so either dougr and SHR had access to the same source document or they are the same person.

I think this is what you're referring to. Back on June 21, someone calling himself "h2" left a comment that read in part:

I do web development as one of my hats, and I can tell you with almost complete certainty that the same original file was used to create the godlike/SHR and dougr posting. This was based on noting a few things that would be obvious only if you work with this type of software and do postings based on text files pasted into text boxes.

I happened to notice it because I was looking for the original (in order to check the source and quality, and to try to find who actually was saying this, ie, was it an actual insider, or was it simply a decently well crafted internet story) of the dougr and found it as SHR, but it was clear that dougr had not in fact simply copied the original article, either using the browser output or the original html output. Also how the article was introduced here.

Since only one person would have this file, it follows logically that dougr and SHR are the same person....


Bill - Actually I'm both DoudrReader and Dougr. That's the great thing about the net, eh? We can be anybody we want and nobody will know. I figured if Rockman could shoot down their dumb ideas so easily he would look even smarter.

Oh no..
Thanks to all the "heavy metal(s)" guys for some illustrative calcs and amusing replies.. not all learning must be serious!

That's a relief.

Those two appearing really set us aflutter.

It seemed impossible.

How could anyone break in?

Lights burned late in The Scientist's chambers.

You were to be the only subject of the experiment.

It should still work.

No, I'm Sparticus

Tests conducted by BP indicated essentially no H2S. It's in their drilling plan. But since BP is by definition lying when its figures don't agree with what's in your head, I won't bother to post the link.

I sorta suppose it depends on his definition of 'abnormal'.

Perhaps he is referring to the fact that it or the sealing layer above it isn't at hydrostatic pressure? Perhaps not 'normal' (as these are called 'abnormally pressured zones', but they are definitely NOT unusual. E.g. from an oilman's perspective - it's completely normal to run into abnormally pressured resevoirs. But perhaps for a math or physics guy who would think that everything should be hydrostatic it's 'not normal'.

And there ain't no granite in the gulf...You get up to central texas you can find some granite - not in the gulf. And if there WAS granite in the gulf, the chances of it being hydrocarbon bearing would approach zero.

Reservoir composition is COMPLETELY 'normal'. Reservoirs can range from 100% oil that is so heavy you have to steam the stuff out, to 100% methane, and anything in between. There are one or two out there that are something like 80% CO2.

Edited to add:
The reservoir pressures he's stating are WAY out of line. I will say, however, that there were some very early reports of a 30,000psi reading AT THE SURFACE during the kick. However - nobody has substantiated this. And if true, that measurement would have nothing to do with reservoir pressure - and EVERYTHING to do with explosively expanding gasses reaching the surface.

The only thing abnormal about this well is that it that it exploded and has been leaking for 70+ days. Too bad given the field discovered is small ,the sand reservoir are thin, and the oil has a lot of gas.

Reservoir composition is COMPLETELY 'normal'. Reservoirs can range from 100% oil that is so heavy you have to steam the stuff out, to 100% methane, and anything in between. There are one or two out there that are something like 80% CO2.

The problem may be how we define "normal". In the statistical sense, Normal means that the data has a Gaussian distribution with a fixed mean and a known variance. If reservoirs can range between the extremes that you describe, it would be harder to describe it with a Gaussian because the standard deviation is approaching the mean. Same thing goes for sizes of reservoirs. Statistically speaking nothing is "normal" in terms of reservoirs -- instead you would call it a fat-tail distribution.

Contrast this with weatherman who talk about the "normal" temperature for today. When they say normal, they are technically correct because you will never see excursions beyond a certain amount relative to the absolute temperature.

That said, it does look like the pressures are way abnormal, as it leads to a likely impossible physical value.

Could somebody inform this poor soul about the physical principles generating high pressure from expansion? I thought it was the other way around - high pressure generating expansion when flowing into a region of lower pressure.

Bill -- Don’t quit follow your prof’s comment about the “mathematical geophysicists”. The situation is far from the geophysical subset. Perhaps he meant to say petrophysical: the study of rock/reservoir properties. Also, I’ve seen no info that the blow out reservoir is any different than thousands of other reservoirs produced in the GOM. From a reservoir pressure standpoint it sits in the middle of the pack.

I know the circumstances in the GOM right now seems unbelievable just by the magnitude alone. But the well is actually producing exactly as it should be. Almost all previous bad blow outs occurred in open holes: no csg. In many cases these wells killed themselves by well bore collapse. The rocks weaken and plug off the well. But the BP was cased and set up for completion. That’s the main reason we have such high flow rates and well bore stability. In essence it just a producing well they can’t shut off. I could go to any one of hundreds of offshore wells and reproduce what we’re seeing ( except for the “exceptional” high flow rate) right now by simply open a valve to the sea. That’s why we generally use the “well control” when discussing such matters: you’re either able to control the flow of oil/NG out of the well or not. Obviously BP couldn’t control the flow. But I mentioned it before: had the well kicked exactly as it did but they were able to shut it in (as they were trying when it exploded) no one in the public would have ever known how close we came to the current nightmare. Most in the oil patch wouldn’t have heard about it. It would have been just one more well kick that was controlled. These incidents are not that rare. No comfort for you there, I’m sure.

But the bottom line: when the cmt failed as they were displacing the mud column with seawater the well did exactly what engineering principals and the laws of physics required: it flowed like a son of a gun. Really nothing exceptional about that aspect.

I did the statistics a few days ago of all the wells that the MMS has kept track of and came to the same conclusion. For GOM, the average maximum flow rate per day as a fraction of the reservoir size is about 0.00067/day or 0.067%/day. If this one is 100,000 barrels per day and the size is 100 million as porker said above, then this gives 0.001/day. If the actual flow rate was 67,000 barrels per day and the size was 100 million then it would put it squarely on average.


Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you just generate the wrong answer with statistics? The average flow rate per day is nowhere near 67K - not even the strongest GOM well does that. Maybe I am confused as to what you are actually calculating...

This is a histogram of the Maximum Production Rates (MPR) that I got from the MMS.gov site.

As you can see the median is only 200 barrels per day and the maximum is around 50,000, in agreement with what Berman reported the other day. Note that these high flow rates are very rare, only a few out of the several thousand counted along the x-axis.

The reservoir size distribution has the exact same shape as the green curve, but it has of course different dimensions. The flow rates statistically and proportionally scale with the size of the reservoir unless throttling are other man-made constraints are put into place. This I believe accounts for the bulge in the curve.

BTW, probability & statistics cannot prove the result of an individual situation like Macondo. It only demonstrates the likelihood of something occurring based on prior results.

I just saw on Fox News where in Grand Isle a berm on the beach right on the tide line has been built. Presumably to reduce oil that reaches the beach. I have a picture of the same thing in Gulf Shores. This seems an obvious easy way to reduce the amount of shore you need to clean after a wave of oil hits. See example. Less is more. Simple is better sometimes. I called this shot 'People Crops' for obvious reasons.

I think this was not done earlier because officials felt it reduced access to the beach. Now that is exactly what the officials want to do. We all have given up on the idea of minimal oil hitting us so now we move to minimize the oil that hits us strategy. Total war. It is about time. Go bulldozers. Go relief well.

The movie version: http://s892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/tinfoilhatguy/GS-OB%20July%2020...

EDIT: I added feeds for Reuters, MSNBC, and FOX News. I also added the BP response feed. I will add ROV links soon as well as NOAA maps. Is there anything else I need on http://gcn01.com ? I added a contact form on the about page so you can contact direct if you wish or post a short line here. Happy Birthday Uncle Sam. I added virtual fireworks to celebrate.

water looks nice. I thought Grand Isle was ruined. I would have expected soupy oil and black waves of it.

Not clear, my bad. The pictures are of Gulf Shores AL where they now have Grand Isle like berms.

It points out cleaning up oil off-shore is a whole lot cheaper than cleaning up oil once it hits shore, and that the use of dispersants is usually a whole lot cheaper than the manual clean up of shorelines.

Wow! That statement smacks of "penny wise, pound foolish" thinking. Also out of sight out of mind kind of thinking as well.

What for example are the long term global economic implications of wiping out one of the only two known breeding grounds for the Blue Fin Tuna? What impact are the dispersants having on the multiple larval stages of crustaceans such as shrimp that are part of the free swimming zooplankton in the Gulf of Mexico? What are the impacts of a thousand other unknowns we will be finding out about and the thousands of unknown unknowns we don't even know we should get data on?

Seems that the people who make these statements haven't put much thought into what they are saying, are ignorant of basic physics, chemistry and biology, let alone are they knowledgeable about complex interactions in food web ecology and furthermore have little concept of whole cost accounting.

Sounds to me like they are just a bunch of incompetent ignoramuses and should be doing something more in line with their competence level such as cleaning latrines.

We really need some big picture holistic thinkers with a solid grounding in science to step into their places. We just can't afford this kind of thinking any more!

We just can't afford this kind of thinking any more!

completely agree!

"We really need some big picture holistic thinkers with a solid grounding in science to step into their places. We just can't afford this kind of thinking any more!"

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The statement was based on publications that compared the costs of historical cleanups, large and small. If you go to the IOSC searchable database listed in Gail's initial post, and search on "Cleanup Costs", you will find several papers that have reviewed costs.

Whether the all the environmental consequences of a spill have been included, I've no idea, but that database has many relevant papers for those interested.

Interesting questions but what makes you think what we have is a totally new event? The BP spill is not the first oil spill or the largest to have happened in the Gulf. We have examples to base predictions on. Everything is not a huge unknown as you have postulated.

What for example are the long term global economic implications of wiping out one of the only two known breeding grounds for the Blue Fin Tuna?

I picked this one to answer for the reason I have researched the issues here.

The first thing to realize is that NA Bluefin are highly depleted due to overfishing. It is unlikely that they are going to be an economically important fish species regardless of the affects of the oil spill. Much more likely that they were going to have a population crash.

The second point is comments made by marine biologists I have read indicates the BP spill has not entered Bluefin breading areas yet. So it is very unclear that these breading areas have been wiped out as you have postulated.

Has anyone heard this before?
...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these states; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their systems of government. The history of the this spill is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world...
...BP has refused their assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good...
..The Feds have forbidden the governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till the Feds assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, The Feds have utterly neglected to attend to them...
...BP and big oil have made judges dependent on their will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries...
...BP has affected to render the USCG independent of and superior to civil power...
...For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world...
...For imposing taxes on us without our consent:...
...BP has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people...

I think most folks know where this came from. Sure, I changed about 10% to fit the times but damn, did it have to fit so good?

Source: http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/freedom/doi/text.html

Happy Birthday to these United States of America. E Pluribus Unum.

You changed a 10% of the words, and 100% of the context.

Semantics and the TV bobbleheads who inspire such semantic games will not end this spill or clean it up.

All I was saying on this day was we felt mistreated by an English King back then and my community feels mistreated by an English company today. Yes, getting more control of the situation will help the cleanup. I am living here. It is not a 'game' to me. It is my life and the life of family. I am not advocating overthrow nonsense and Glenn Beck has ruined the founding fathers for me. All I was saying was I feel like I have a gripe today too. That was all. God bless you and God bless America.

Thank you. Yes, we all have gripes. Speaking casually of revolution doesn't move anything forward, it sends a fact based discussion of a practical problem entirely into the political arena, where no solutions lay. But yes, Happy 4th of July!! it's a pleasure speaking freely with you.

Not taking sides here but do you think we can improve things without increasing political pressure? Or do you think logical discussion and simple communication with our leaders will suffice? It is the fourth. Personally, I say bring the pressure on, but I absolutely want a continuation of best science and best greater good practices. I wish that your methods would yield desired results. I am sure you can say the same about my methods. At the end of the day however, that is the way the folks around here handle things; it is the same all over the nation. Thomas Jefferson's famous misused quote about a little revolution now and then has a positive meaning. Jefferson helped to setup a process so that such a revolution could occur within the framework of the existing establishment, eliminating the need for violence and chaos. It is wholly appropriate that I sympathize with my forefathers today and advocate a 'soft' revolution in our way of thinking if nothing else. In the spirit of the day, please go to my site @ www.gcn01.com and comment with your counter view on my words. It is what it is all about. Happy 4th.

The colonies started out as British Companies such as the Massachusetts Bay Company and the long lived Hudson Bay Company.

And before the Massachusetts Bay Company, which was chartered in 1629, there was the Virginia Company chartered 23 years before in 1606, which financed the settlement at Jamestown the following year. In 1624 the Virginia Company's charter was revoked by the James I and Virginia became a Crown Colony, and, then, in 1690 the Massachusetts Bay Company was desolved and Massachusetts became a Crown Colony, both Virginia and Massachusetts remaining Crown Colonies until the American Revolution. The following links provide a more detailed synopsis for those interested on this 4th of July the 234th year of American Independence.


The Hudson Bay Company founded in 1670 is essentially a part of Canadian history and still exists.


And an interesting fact: Bermuda was established in 1609 or 1612 depending how you read the history and exists today as the longest of the surviving Crown Colonies of British history.


TFHG - I have read many of your writings over the past months and I really respect and appreciate your posts which are an asset to TOD.
But as a person who is half american, half english, I have to point out that BP no longer stands for 'British Petroleum'. Can't remember the story but I think it merged with an american company years ago.

They are stupid money-grabbing fools, but there's nothing the 'english' can do about it. Its a trans-national corp, we have no democratic influence over it here.

Please, it's a hideous situation, but nationalism never helps anyone much.


TFHG - You do realise that has all been superseded by the modifications made to our Constitution, no?

Original Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

As it should be written today:

We the Corporations of America, in Order to form a more perfect Balance Sheet, establish Return On Investment, insure International Trade, provide for our Mutual Cooperation, promote the General Profitability, and secure the Privileges and Rights to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Corporate Charter for the United States of America.

Our Forefathers tried to give us the means to prevent the corporations (eg: East India Corp, National Banks) and the government (via the British Navy, Federal Reserve) from taking our freedom and property through servitude and taxation. Eisenhower was too late with his warning concerning the military/industrial complex; by then it was pretty much fait accompli, IMHO.

Many thanks for keeping us updated on the human costs and views of the resultant damage to the Gulf.

Hope everyone has a great Forth of July! God bless America.

I realize that the Declaration if Independence is really not a founding legal document like the Constitution. I know about Thomas and Scalia having a concept of 'natural' law. That the majority of the court rejects such an assertion. 'If there's a new way, I'll be the first in line, but it better work this time.' Dave Mustaine-Peace Sells. We just do the best we can with what we have.

A Whale is still being put through its paces off the Bird's Foot.

The Dutch-armed skimmers Seacor Washington and HOS Sweet Water are still in port--are 5' seas too much for these 200' vessels?

this link is real time for A Whale


BP must have read your post. Both vessels are now heading toward DH.

Why is the Gulf Oil Blog now forbidden?

This seems an inefficient place to find an answer to your question. Perhaps asking the webmaster at

University of Georgia
Computer Services Annex East Campus Road
Athens, GA 30602-1911

Administrative Contact:
David Matthews-Morgan
The University of Georgia
171A Boyd Graduate Studies
Athens, GA 30602-7413
(706) 542-0355

Technical Contact:
David Matthews-Morgan
The University of Georgia
171A Boyd Graduate Studies
Athens, GA 30602-7413
(706) 542-0355

rather than a bunch of strangers who have little to do with the site might be a more effective way to answer your question?

It's Sunday. Maybe a scheduled backup or some such.

Obama sent Samantha Joye to the FEMA camps.

Any news on the progress of the helix? Waves spiked up to 7 feet briefly, I hope that didn't delay their progress. they're at about 5 feet now.

Not sure what takes them so long, they could send a diver down there and put this stupid thing together, it's only 300 feet.

Also is there a chance that since 1 or 2% of the field has already drained that the pressure would drop kind of suddenly? Usually in a blowout there is a period of high flow which only lasts a few days or weeks, isn't there?

There's a story on bloomberg saying the had to delay it for "a couple days" as they coudln't make the connection, seas too rough.

Need seas 3 feet or less...which right now is coincidentally exactly where they are at.

They could almost have a diver go down and do this, they didn't engineer it very well if they need totally calm seas.

They better get this thing up and running. It's important that they show just how many barrels this thing is putting out.

Also are the q4000 or the lmrp cap relying of just pressure or are they pumping? Is the new Helix going to pump out the oil or just rely on natural pressure? It might be hard to find out exactly how many barrels are "coming out" because they number depends on what they are pushing again, oil, water, or a vacuum.

How long does it take to install now that seas are 3 feet again? It better be hours and not "days"...how does it take "days" to install this stupid thing?

The rather clear indication from Figure A-2 is that oil spills in US waters are pretty much going away.

Graphs show only what they show. In this case, volume released. 100,000 spills of 1 gallon are a lot different from one 100,000 gallon release, in terms of effect AND remediation cost AND strategy.

In short, the rather clear indication from the LA coast is rather contrary to the graph.

Further, what other peoples are willing to spend to protect their nation should NEVER be used to justify what we spend. That's lowest common denominator thinking.

What about having 5 times the incarceration rates of other G20 nations? Would it not be possible to improve our quality of life by following other nation's lead? Our streets would not be less safe. Most, if not all G20 countries have safer streets now. Sometimes, we can benefit by learning from other countries.

Would it not be possible to improve our quality of life by following other nation's lead?

Improve by whose metric?

You say (while bringing human tragedy of incarceration into an unrelated discussion) that we could follow what other people do.

I say we choose our own goals, even if we do it clumsily, and other peoples success does not impact our own. Happy 4th of July.

Hmm, but we always use these other nations as models who spend less on health care and get better outcomes. Same for defense spending.
Some places would not spend thousands to clean a bird. Different approaches.

but we always use these other nations as models who spend less on health care and get better outcomes.

If that were true then we'd have better outcomes for less money, or at least a different model, yes?

We use other nations methods not as models but as foils in debate. They are applied in an effort remove the actual context from the the decisions made, and insert some false utopian context where pedants can operate comfortably. If you can't control reality, controlling the debate feels pretty good.

fwiw, I agree with you DiverDan. Different methods.

So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?

In fact, there isn’t that much of a difference between BP and Lehman Brothers – both have been among the major players in the unregulated $615 trillion OTC derivative market. If BP is forced to file for bankruptcy, it will probably have an even greater negative impact on the financial markets than the Lehman failure caused.

Derivatives, not cleanup costs, are the real reason that BP can't be allowed to fail?

Also, Response To The BP Derivatives Story is the Econotwist blogger's response to a comment on Seeking Alpha.

Yup. TBTF. The "small people" are regrettably expendable.

Good thing we have such an abundant supply of 'small people'. I predict that soon, some enterprising Libertarian will develop an engine that runs on ground-up poor/disabled people. Two birds with one stone, as it were.

A possibility, no doubt. On the other hand this is a golden opportunity for those poor/disabled people to become entrepreneurs. Tar ball jewelry and bags of souvenir sand might be hot items. And those with a little cash and credit could be snatching up cheap beachfront real estate.

Seriously, I somewhat expect a hidden bailout masquerading as something else, packaged by Geithner/Summers/Bernanke and their Brit counterparts. Funding via the enforced courtesy of taxpayers and their progeny and their progeny.

"Pet Tarball".... the next rage

Hell dan...you just gave away a million $ idea! Remember when Mt. St, Helen blew and the Post Office got pissed because folks were mailing ash to friends around the country. The envelops leaked and the ash screwed up the sorting machines. It's a nightmare out there for sure but it also a truly historical event. A vile of the spill oil could truly be the next pet rock. Gotta save my oil next time I change it in the car. Hey...who's going to know the difference?

Mt. St. Helens. I think they shut down the great visitors center their. Amazing place.

Always said if I were a cigarette I'd probably make an ash out of myself.

hehe, after I graduated, I found myself mixing concrete again, and found a brachiopod in some 60/40. Put it in an envelope and mailed it off to my paleontology prof with whom I'd had a particularly contentious relationship. He sent the torn envelope back with a note that the brach had escaped in transit, (probably in a mail room envelope sorter).

1000 Bottles of Hope - Limited Edition

A pledge of 1000 dollars towards helping seafood laborers and secures you one of these numbered bottles of actual reclaimed oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster represent the reclamation of the lives of the people most impacted by what has been described as the single greatest ecological disaster in the history of the United States: the seafood laborer. There is a tragic beauty in the oil from the gusher floating on salt water from the Gulf that will have you hanging on to this piece of history for the rest of your life. We're pleased to have you remember the part you played in making things better.

Vials of Opportunity



Back to the singularity post, I tried to use Bernoulli’s equation to calculate the flow and I keep getting wild numbers that could not happen so I threw the mess in the can. I assumed there was a casing and no leaks. I assumed 13000 psi at the bottom and about 2500 psi at the top-still nothing but wild numbers. I know this is way over simplified but I should get close.

Geek7 did a pressure calculation the other day.

Its not that the calculation won't converge, its that it leads to a physically impossible situation given the constraints of depth, gravity, and densities of known materials. This is not a singularity condition.

(As gently put as possible.)

Geek7's post was about whether a 100k psi reservoir was possible; in addition, all his math was for static pressures. I think idontno is trying to calculate flow rates and pressures assuming one end of the pipe is at 13000 psi and the other at 2500. Those aren't the same at all.

FWIW I think the issue is most likely that idontno's model is way oversimplified. It's a bit daring to suggest a singularity just because you don't have a good enough model of the problem -- but Geek7's calculation is not the right rebuttal.

I wanted to show that a singularity (as discussed above) is different than getting physically impossible results.
What we should probably be discussing is hitting some asymptotic limits instead of guessing that a singularity has occurred.

The problem with the whole "guessing the pressure" idea is that we don't know the source of the pressure in the formation. It is indisputable that the oil and gas are trapped in the formation. But we don't know the origin of the pressure in the formation. The "joke" post about thousands of feet of gold is about the best most people can come up with. It is a fact that the pressure was measured at 11k plus and that should be enough. However theories that link depth of formation with gas pressure would lead to potential pressures far in excess of the measured pressure. As long as these are seen as theories it is fine to mention them. But to make a theory into something "solid" one needs to have unassailable proof. And there is no proof that the pressure can exceed 12 to 17kip.
That said the weight of gold, used to insult, or any other calculation of the sort is silly and embarrasses me. For example I can see a situation in which an inverted cone shaped shale layer cemented naturally could have tensile and compressive strength that would allow temporary pressures greater than the reported pressure. In fact the pressure could simply be greater than 17k without violating any natural law even excluding the weight of the overburden. If that occurred then we would have failed to admit to the fact that until there is another source that measures the pressure, we really don't know what it is. It is not verified by independent sources. A source of gas from a depth below 18k depth would imply pressures that "could" be close to 1 psi per foot of depth. To make cheap jokes about alternate theories limits serious thought to could awaken peoples minds to other avenues of investigation.

Making such insulting comparisons, while cute, will drive serious people to ignore what could have some value. People need at this point in time to see a fair representation of what the facts are. I for one "believe" that the pressure is as claimed by BP, but I withhold my final opinion until it is verified.


The 11.9K psi comes from BP's ability to control the open hole in the formation. That is a real measurement - never debunked as far as I know. Would the inverted cone have occurred after the explosion or are you just using it as a theoretical example to show that calculations like the gold thing can be wrong/misleading?

I am simply trying to show by example how valuable a theory can be. An inverted cone to reach 100ksi cannot work because pressure must be equal in all directions. But my intent was to give but one example of what is possible.
You must admit that the Gold thing was simply meant to insult and end the discussion. It enlightened few. The people that read the postings here are looking for something solid upon which to rest their opinions. Simply making a rude posting will likely turn them away from this site and they will then lurk elsewhere for their input. We who have the ability to understand this pressure thing have a duty to be forthwith with those who do not.

the main problem is if the pressure tranzences a certain point its beyond technology to control. Well know if the relief well fails or BP tells more data about macondo. theres no way to get allong with it exept making jokes in the face of the impossible.
humanitys technology aint advanced enough to manage everything earth can throw at us.

what are the options ?

1. its normal preasure rates, we can controll it.
2. its beyond our control.

case 2 we cant do anything anyway.

well have to try to reduce the impact.

which is why i want people to look for a better emergency plan c a lot better then a nuke which would propably fail badly with preassure so high.

HG -- I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly. Do you feel the pressures encountered by the BP well were beyond our control capabilities? if so that’s very incorrect. The water depth of the BP well is rather unique. But the mud weights and reservoir pressures encountered were safely drilled in 100's of wells in the Gulf Coast alone in the 1950's. In fact, the reservoir pressure in the BP well aren't even considered that high. I have 3 wells drilling right now whose mud weights exceed those in the BP well.

But perhaps I misunderstand you. If so, my apologies for the lecture.

I personally think its controlable. In this case. On the other hand as oil industrie drills depper it might acctually be that they encounter pressure thats not controlable. And a solution to deepwater blowouts should be available, some kind of containment system. even if its not needed now i bet it will be needed in the future as drilling in deepwater wont stop.

HK - IMHO we're bound to see a new generation of BOP's that also includes a much better system for potential capture. We can control pressures but never escape human error. Obviously the industry was not prepared to deal with the worse results of human error when drilling at these water depths.

I find the whole premise of this post to be so far off base that I'm not even sure where to begin.

First off, what we have here isn't even an oil 'spill' in the normal meaning of the term, particularly as it applies to Figure A-2 in the Congressional Research Service report. What is graphed in that figure are the cumulative volume of mainly single one-time events, such as in the instance of a tanker running aground or an oil loading line parting or just plain screw-ups. Rather what we have here is a blown-out well that has been uncontrollably 'producing' oil and pumping it into the marine environment for about 75 days now, and will probably continue to do so well past the 100-day mark. Deepwater Horizon is NOT an oil spill, but rather a massive ongoing release.

Second, note that in Figure 2-A the largest annual total US coastal oil spill volume was less than 3 million gallons (in 1980). While estimates for the total amount of oil released from Deepwater Horizon vary considerably, a conservative flow rate of 25,000 bbl/day over 75 days would put the total amount released at over 75 million gallons, or over 25 times the highest annual total US coastal oil spillage figure on the chart. This isn't even comparing apples and oranges; it's more like comparing watermelons with peanuts.

Third, while one might conclude from Figure 2-A that the amount of oil spillage has gone down over the years, again, what we have here is not an oil 'spill'. While the conclusion might be supported by the chart, it is a pretty much meaningless conclusion. Very likely, the amount of radiation exposure in the Soviet Union was also nicely trending downward ..... right up until Chernobyl. (Black swans do have a way of ruining even the most stable looking trends.)

Fourth, the nature of oil spills, releases, or whatever is so site-specific that I think it is totally futile to try to apply some sort of generalized cost estimate to a very large and unique event such as Deepwater Horizon. Furthermore, it's beginning to look like the largest single component of the 'cost' of this particular disaster will not even be related to the physical cleanup efforts, but rather will be incurred from the many thousands of compensation claims, as well as the associated litigation. At this point in time, any cost estimate by anybody is pure guesswork. Might as well throw a dart.

I do think people should draw fewer charts and graphs, as it lulls the uniformed into thinking that just because when a number of the X axis is this and the corresponding number on the Y axis is that, that there must be some sort of causal relationship between the two.

I like the thermometer 'graph' the United Way uses in the middle of town for its annual drive. Now there is a graph that can help.

Figure A-2 covered reported oil spills in the US from 1980-2004. Since you say "Deepwater Horizon is NOT an oil spill, but rather a massive ongoing release", do you mean to imply that if the graph was updated in the future with new data to cover 1980-2012 it should not include the Deepwater Horizon release?

I interpreted the discussion in the original post regarding Figure A-2 as "This is what the Industry has been seeing: a steady decrease in spill volume. This probably created reduced vigilance for spills, leading to what we are dealing with today.

it seems like spill is commonly accepted usage, just like oil is the common usage for petroleum, notice in the regs they have to specify non-petroleum oils by name.

Blaise Pascal -

Yes, that is exactly what I mean to imply. Please note that the graph is for land-based 'facility and pipeline' spills and doesn't even included offshore spills. This should be evident from examining the graph for the year 1989, the year of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The amount of oil spilled from Exxon Valdez has been estimated to be between 11 and 32 million gallons. Now look at the graph and see how many cumulative gallons of oil are shown for the year 1989. It is not even included.

I would agree that for incidental spills, over the years there has been greater care in the handling and transfer of petroleum products (largely as the result of stiff penalties). But what we have here is NOT a spill, as nothing was spilled. Rather it is a runaway well that is spewing oil out of control. Definitely not the same animal that is covered in your typical facility SPCC plan, most of which are of limited utility and whose main purpose is to have it on your shelf so that you can show a regulatory inspector that you indeed have such a plan.

I like graphs because they display a large amount of data in a small amount of space. The verbal description of what the graph contains would take considerably longer to absorb than just the graph.

My initial reaction at viewing graph was 1989 where I expected to see a spike due to Exxon Valdez. I saw no spike, so I looked up details and confirmed the graph was obviously missing that data. And that makes me wonder what other data the graph is missing. My discovery doesn't make me dislike graphs because I saved time by spending only a few minutes rather than wading thru an alternative to a graph.

The problem with graphs is the same as the problem with any tool. Imperfect humans use their wits to construct a graph and the end result may be missing key data or serving to communicate a personal message or both. Once this is understood, the graph becomes less menacing.

I'll leave it to the oil experts on the website to improve the graph if they feel that is necessary.

I was watching CNN the other night and they had a close up of the waterline of the “Whale.” There were slits along the hull just above the waterline. When the ship starts to skim, the Dutch pump enough ballast to increase the draught of the ship and the slits are covered with water slightly below the sheen. The water then starts to pour into the tanks where it is removed for separation of the oil and water. The tanker is large enough to draw in enormous amounts of water without any pumping costs. Simple.

If the oil from the well in the beginning had been allow to surface, I would bet with about five or six of these vessels most of the oil could have been corralled. Now because of the bumbling and fumbling of the USCG, MMS, and BP the damn mess is all over the Gulf.

The US is caught up in this frontiersman mentality that we will not ask help from anyone-“we’ll go it alone.”

This Wyatt Erp gunslinger mentality has got to stop.

The amount of oil any skimmer can collect is limited to the surface area covered in a day times the depth of oil on that surface.

The collection width of A-Whale is 200' and the speed is probably 1-2 knots. Therefore it can skim approximately one square mile per day, which is about the same as one ship with the Dutch skimmer arms or five shrimp boats each with a reach of 40'. Since the slick expanded to 1000 square miles in a short time, say 7-10 days, you would have needed a thousand such units on the job almost immediately in order to contain the slick.

A-Whale is a desperate gambit by an entrepreneur who had a temporarily useless supertanker on his hands and is having trouble paying the bills. He is hoping that a media blitz and resulting political pressure will force Adm. Allen to force BP to lease the services of this monstrosity. So far the media are cooperating nicely.

One option may be to use small skimmers to kind of corral the oil into narrower smaller areas and then have the huge skimmer come by and suck the whole thing up in minutes given that it measures only a few acres.

thanks, that answers my question about ballasting from a couple days ago.

I can't say for sure about this go-it-alone mentality you mention. There's definitely a protectionist segment of our population, that might explain some of it. To me, it just seems like a bureaucratic, regulatory bowl of spaghetti, to which the only answer the bureaucrats seem to have is, "we'll appoint a commission to study it, and recommend more regulations and agencies to oversee it."

An oversimplification, sure, but if there's ever been something that needs simplification, it's been the response to this regional, (for now), disaster.

When seas are high, the slits will be in line with the surface a small fraction of the time. Half the time the slits will be below the surface taking in only water, and half the time the slits will be above the surface taking in only air. How can this be efficient?

Another question for anyone with knowledge of the effect of oil/dipersant in the GOM. We have a resident here Gregg Hall who is posting non-stop you-tube videos that he says is showing boiling in the gulf, I personally haven't seen anything remotely close to what he's posting but maybe he's in another area of the beach that I haven't seen. so my question is WTF is he talking about regarding "boiling" water near the shoreline.


I saw a report, at least a week back, of fish and other aquatic life gathering near the shoreline. A large number of fish in shallow water churn the water in a way that has been referred to as "boiling." I've seen this in an inland lake overpopulated with carp.

I can't think of any way in which the dispersant/oil mixture would be likely to cause something that would look like "boiling."

Thanks~I can tell you that I have seen tons of fish, manta-rays, dolphins, turtles and last week sharks in wading level of the shoreline (all but the sharks were swimming in between the people wading in the water), but this guy comes across a bit "unbalanced" IMO, so thought I would ask here. He is intimating that it's the oil/dispersant mix and not the animals.

Watch out for mantas if snorkelling. If you are over them when they turn they can flick you out of the water - been there. That much sea-life so close in does not sound good. Sharks are worrying, if one panics and takes a bite then people will start panicking over a need to kill the sharks. Don't like it.


Thanks NAOM~but Manta's don't have stingers (at least I thought so) are you thinking sting rays? If so no ned to worry I stay away from those. The sharks typically don't bother me because they are always out there, but since they are following the rest of the marine life so close they are obviously looking for food and the scenario you just posted would make people's fear of sharks even worse (frankly rip currents are what frighten me more than any marine life). Also, the manta rays were in so close about 3 weeks ago that some got beached due to the strong surf and we literally had to go push them back in the water.

2nd that about currents. No, mantas don't have stingers but they are BIG. When they turn they bank sharply and,if near the surface, a fin can tip out the water with people panicking that it is a shark. (well, a manta is shark family but not the part people need worry about , they only skim feed the small stuff) If you are snorkelling over a fin when they turn, they may do that if they get nervous about you being there too, you can get flipped out of the water and winded. They mean no harm, it's like not playing near big trucks. Sting rays are another matter. If you tread on them they may well sting (treatment is to put affected limb in hot water, think bath you can only just stand in, for 1/2 hr to break down the toxin then get a medical assessment to make sure the wound is clean see Divers Alert Network site for details). I don't know if you get electric rays around there (check with local dive shop) but they are liable to swim between your legs and shock you if stressed.

I really don't like your reports about the marine life. That is going VERY wrong. Mantas stay in deep water and don't go close to the shore unless it is deep below a cliff or the like. If you see one beached please get some photos. Sting rays and electric rays are sand dwellers and can be found close to beaches normally about 20'+ down though stingrays can come into the shallows to feed.


Thanks for the info NAOM, I love watching them jump and play in the water but it is disturbing to see them in ankle to waist deep water, even the turtles are at that depth I am getting ready to go out and don't have my camera as my daughter wanted it but I will see what I can get on my cell phone as far as quality I can;t assure you it will be better and I am getting a waterproof camera so I can get the pic's of all the dead crabs that ARE NOT covered in oil floating on the bottom. I have no clue about electric rays but will check that out. I do have some pic's of the manta rays (not the ones that beached themselves) but not in PB and my PB isn't resizing properly so if you'd like you can email me at pcolabeachmom@yahoo.com and I'll be happy to share them with you.

YIKES, mommy, if you post your email addy intact like that, you're inviting spam-bots in the zillions! Do this instead:

pcolabeachmom(at)yahoo(dot)com -- the "(at)" as a minimum.

Rode on the back of a manta at the Texas Flower Garden Reef in 1976 (about 90 feet down). Guy from Dallas filmed it. Wonderful creatures.

Think like a remora, you have been lucky. I have been unable to get on board as 1) the ones I have met have been too fast and 2) I have been too busy staring :)


There were three of them hanging out by the reef actually two did vertical loop swims for a while. Maybe not as cool as being around about 100 hammerheads in the Red Sea but up there.

I've seen near surface schools of fish disturb the surface, (not quite "boiling"), makes almost a sizzling sound. But I've also seen snook jumping out of the water for as far as the eye could see, weeks before the blowout.

I haven't spent enough time on the Gulf to know what's normal wildlife behaviour.

I don't think any amount of reassurance is going to make me accept the amount of dispersants being used as being completely harmless. It's not that I don't understand the rationale being used for the trade-off. It's the devil we don't know that's been chosen.* The EPA has modified its position in a pretty short time, which doesn't reassure me that they really know the consequences either.

*edit: the devil we do know, oil-covered wildlife, isn't very pretty, either.

ITA, but if you look at the video posted, that is not what "Gregg of P-Cola is talking about" I wish I knew more and have seen that rough surf can make it look different (bubbles etc) so no clue what this guy is trying to say. I also agree about the dispersants and the EPA telling BP to find another alternative and then doing a 180 and letting them use it, but like I said in my mind if the water is clean (sight only) I will get in, and I guess I justify it by thinking about the ratio of oil/dispersant in the GOM vs the millions of gallons of water should have a highly dillutive effect. I don't let my kids in the water however as I am not willing to possibly risk their health if the water is unsafe.

Head of EPA said yesterday that if it looks clean and smells clean, it should be OK to swim in, so enjoy it while you got it.

LOL~I don't exactly trust what the EPA tells me, I just pray that it has to have diluted a tremendous amount by the time it get's here, but I could be wrong and also I posted yesterday about calling the EPA to line up a tour with Ray Mabus and then decided that Buck Lee would be a better choice, when the EPA called me back that scoffed at the idea Mabus was going to be here and told me if anyone would know that they would, I told them not to worry I had already taken care of the "tour guide" and they reiterated that that he wasn't coming becausse they would have certainly been informed........a lil egg on their face when he showed up Friday afternoon with Buck Lee and then had a small presser.

I don't think any amount of reassurance is going to make me accept the amount of dispersants being used as being completely harmless.

Beachmommy's question was whether the dispersant was causing "boiling" near the shore. My answer (I'm a chemist) was that I couldn't see how that could happen, although there might be an explanation for it in the behavior of sea creatures. Nothing was said about dispersants being completely harmless.

It's not a matter of every crazy apocalyptic idea being right or something being harmless. It's a matter of figuring out what is actually happening.

I found that video of very poor quality, so couldn't even guess what was of concern. The beach looked pretty awful. And acid doesn't bubble and boil, except in "B" horror pictures or when it's heated.

Thanks Cheryl, that is exactly why I am here at TOD to learn and since you are a chemist your input is invaluable to me and you understand my question perfectly. The beach really isn't that bad, it was bad on the 23-25th especially at the west end of the Island, here are the photos I took last weekend at the pier:



EDIT:Sorry that first pic didn't resize properly

Use the width="xxx" height="yyy" in your img line and maintain a ratio of 4:3 unless you use 16:9 mode and you have it. GO beachmomma.

Thanks TFHG~I'll try that next time, I just got back in and was at the beach behind the house and went down to the public beach to get some photos and check it out. These aren't the best as they are from my cell phone due to my daughter snatching my camera, but this is P-Cola Beach today.









Also the email addy is a "dummy addy" that I use on the net, once I have the email from anyone interested in info or pic's I use my real email addy, and I wasn't able to snorkel today due to the fact the surf was extremely rough again. Hopefully it will calm down this week and I can get the underwtater photos.

okay, I guess this is the video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtCQiD8mUqU I hadn't seen the link, so speculated what "boiling" meant.

In one of his videos it did show some of the same sort of foam as I've seen here in Naples, FL not long ago. I don't know enough about what normal sea foam looks like, so have nothing other than "I've seen something that looks like that, here, too."

You're right, Cheryl, what that video shows doesn't look at all related to wildlife behaviour I mentioned, it's something completely different. I'll leave it to anyone else to guess what's causing it.

Another poor quality video that is hard to make out. Anyone find a good one where you really can see what is going on.

That said it doesn't look very out of the ordinary for surf but I would like to see better video. I suspect many people have not looked closely before and now are looking hard and seeing things that were there all along.


yep, NAOM, that's sort of my conclusion after spending a few minutes at the beach studying waves with his video in mind. I think it's safe to say with that much pollution, there probably is some effect, but from the low quality of video, it's not easy to make an absolute call.

Thanks Mmutt and NAOM~It didn't look that unusual to me when we have rough surf, but he's spreading so many conspiracy theories and people who don't know any better are buying it and actually sending him money. Also, he has prolly more than 20 videos out there, and in one he shows how oil is under the sand and thinks BP is coming out at night and dumping sand to cover it up, in reality the tidal currents moving the water/sand in and out do that naturally and he's local and should no that IMO. I even staked out the staging area one night to see if BP/Contractors were dumping sand and never saw them do anything like that, plus talked to everyone at the pier which is where the main staging area is and the pier is open 24/7 and they haven't seen this either.

You and TFHG are doing some good on-site investigation and reporting. Keep up the good work.


Thanks NAOM, also I have no problem with anyone using the pic's elsewhere if they want to.......like I stated I'm off this week and plan to do more snooping and questioning of anyone and everyone I can find!

I agree. Yes, they are covering up the oil. No, it is not an evil conspiracy, it is a practical necessity. All the powers that be that I talk to say that the plan is still unprecedented removal and replacement, although the egghead set is try to come up with a 'washing' or 'bio-remediation' process. I almost hope they fail and have to replace everything, but is it right to send that waste to others or our own landfills? It is a complex problem.

Honestly I wouldn't have a problem with it either, but have seen no evidence of it here and have been talking with locals everywhere,and have spent at least 100 hrs after work following the workers, enviromental crews etc around, hell I have even gotten a few contractors drunk to get answers (girls got to do what she has to do), but I'm not saying they aren't doing it other places, I also have no problem with the sand being hauled off and newly dredged sand to replace the oiled sand but am certain they would wait until after Labor Day to do this.

That was my thought when he is talking about dumping sand...why not just go out at night?

Glad to see you did!

Part of his 'proof' is orange sand. I'm going to guess that is the same small amounts of oil that leave the orange stain on tide line.

This situation is bad enough, why do people want to make crap up?

This guy is picking up quite a following.

Exactly, the oil does turn the sand and orange tint, now I also have befriended many of the Env and other contractors as I walk the beach every day when I can (5 out of 7 prolly) and they know me by now. I had read about the sand at the Casino Beach site in trucks and was talking to them at the pier one day, I asked about it and it was some type of rock, I can't recall off the top of my head but I was able to park my car in the public lot close enough to go touch it and it was in no way sand. IIRC I think the salt was to brought in to help with the heavy machinery.

Also part of his rhetoric is that their is tar under the sand........well of course there is due to the natural tidal actions and currents, there is also seaweed and prollu my sunglassed I lost last week.

Now, I'm in no way saying that there might not be anyone doing this in LA, AL etc., but after 2 nights of arranging a sitter, and tons of coffee and I can tell you I never witnessed anything remotely close to dumping sand brought in from somewhere else, added for good measure it could be sand that was moved back by heavy machinery and then spread out later when they had picked up the visible tar balls, but to suggest the dump truck sitting in plain view filled with salt are some clandestine mission to come in under the cover at night and hide the oil, well that is just not what I witnessed.

ITA about making chit up, people here and in AL, and LA are already half crazy from this disater and I see no need to fuel the fire to make it worse.


here's a video from a few weeks back on that phenom


That's the guy I was talking about. I haven't witnessed that at Ft. Pickens, Casino Beach nor the beach behind the house and believe me I have looked. I'm sure conditions change rapidly and are different all over the Island especially the Ft. Pickens end which is next to the mouth of the Pensacola Pass (that area gets hit far worse than any other area for some reason). I just wanted to know if that's just natural bubbles from rough surf or something else altogether. He sure is scaring the hell out of people and thinks the oil below the sand is a big conspiracy where IMO it's due to the normal tidal actions of the surf going in and back out added to that the fact that Alex just passed thru the GOM which made our surf extremely rough so if I didn't see oil under the sand I'd be shocked.

I just went down to grab a sample of the water and sand, and while there spent a few minutes observing the waves crashing on the beach, with Greg's video in mind. I don't think what his video shows is pronouncedly different in the typical wave action on a shore, with the possible exception that he's obviously filming a very polluted area, which might affect things like surface tension of the water, etc.

After the initial wave breaks, right behind the breaker, there is secondary motion, probably from the wave action bouncing off the beach back up behind the braking wave. I saw a lot of suspended sediment coming up in localized plumes.

I'm trying to think of an experiment to see if a combination of the sea water/CaCO3 sand, and a surfactant/kerosene mixed with regular motor oil would cause extra frothiness when agitated. It seems possible that just adding detergent to water alone would show something.

In any event, Greg's video does show disheartening pollution, and I feel for all of you dealing with that mess right now.

I have a question, a few days ago there was a diskussion of the effekt of "sandblasting" on well integrity, because of solids in the stream of oil going up the pipe.

how is this effect contained in production wells ?
I´d think it would be similar.

Why would it be especialy harmfull in this case ?
Maybe because of the damage at the well head ?

I´d think sand going up the well would hit the walls at such high angel that it just glance of.

Not an expert, but repeating what the experts have said: high erosion occurs at pinch points where the flow is accelerated and comes to bear on a small area of metal. We saw this happen before the riser was cut. Tiny leaks at and below the crimp in the riser expanded to larger leaks in the course of only a few days. Commenters have said that pinch points within the blowout preventer may have eroded greatly during the first few weeks, allowing the flow rate to increase greatly. Then erosion would slow greatly as the apertures got wider.

I think i understand that part about the BOP, but im more interested how this would affect well casing if ther was holes in it and spilling into the rock. shouldnt backpreassure reduce flow speed so much that the erosion effect is nearly nill ? the oil has to go through a 90° angel to go through the walls, and there comes a new question, what speed is the oil going up the well ? i should be able to calculate this but im a bit drunk and i cant do this in inch and pounds anyway. Wouldnt the speed of the oil reduce the preassure on the walls ? question how much is the diffrence between dynamic and static preassure ? I wish americains would use the metric system like everbody else. its so much more simple.

Sand erosion can be quite destructive, flow back operators are always monitoring the iron for erosion. generally this occures early in a wells life as the free particles in the reservior come out into the wellbore. Sand screens, gravel packs, "Controlled Production" all mitigate the effects. Had the erosion, continued in this case it would have washed the Bop out in no time as the Bop in this case is the only choke piont in the wellbore to the mudline. I would think after 70+ days the BSW in the flow is minimal.

Is BP rejecting skimmers to save money on Gulf oil cleanup?

BILOXI, Miss. — From Washington to the Gulf, politicians and residents wonder why so few skimming vessels have been put to work soaking up oil from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.


and this from the AP

Volunteers ready but left out of spill cleanup
By TOM BREEN (AP) – 1 day ago

NEW ORLEANS — BP and the Obama administration face mounting complaints that they are ignoring foreign offers of equipment and making little use of the fishing boats and volunteers available to help clean up what may now be the biggest spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico...


Interesting comments from Nungesser in this CNN video

http://www.youtube.com/v/WpJBsjKhRTo (scroll to minute 4)

Why worry? Because in the age of Bush and inadequate "change", companies will cut corners and their so-called regulators don't care. As many note, many of these operators just take risks and hope it doesn't catch up with them. The externalities and net expectation values are improperly "discounted" as the saying goes.

Bush is the devil. Feel better. Now can we concentrate on today and tomorrow, please. For my town at ground zero? Thanks and happy 4th.

If we had these skimmers in port and they could be dispatched at once, then this spill would not have spread so quickly. OK the design is not perfect let's modify it. Nothing was anticipated only reaction.

React, react, react. The small amount of money to modify and test this design prior to this gusher would have been penny's on the dollar. So, we can't catch all of oil. Half or more would have been good enough for me.

There’s an old adage that goes like this If and engineer and a scientist are trying to reach a distant point and they can take two steps forward and then one back, the scientist will say “we’ll never get there.” The engineer will say “we’ll get so close it won’t matter.”

I suppose what was anticipated is that BP's cleanup contractors, who claimed a skimming capacity of around 500,000 bbl/day already stationed in the Gulf, would contain the slick.


Oil leak's spread predicted by simulation


"It's very diluted within the Atlantic Ocean."

As if entropy would predict anything different.

NOAA has already posted a clarification on their model that actually starts from day one rather than now.To date the oil has not gone where their model predicted. The model has a number of assumption that should be read before citing any media outlet.
Go to the NOAA.gov and DeepwaterResponse sites to get the real skinny on this.

Not so sure that deepwaterhorizonresponse.com is a site that I would put too much faith in for having reliable and timely data i.e. de facto endorsement of Corexit, 5000 bbd etc.

"BP CEO Tony Hayward said recently, 'No one wants this thing over more than I do. I'd like my life back.' Tony, I'm so sorry you had your summer disrupted. I'd buy you a drink, but you'd probably spill that too ... and make me clean it up." —Craig Ferguson

And now a side note on virtue so we don't forget what we are not confused about. Tony Hayward (some say, a psychopathic liar) gave up on trying to deal with the "little people". BP should be completely freed from dealing with this mess - except on a monetary level. Only an imbecile would argue that British Petroleum cares anything about this mess other than ultimately how it has offended their god Of Money. This disaster was conceived through a deep bow to their god of money. That is simple and true. In general, the public has been given nothing but lies and disinformation on mass scale since this started. Our government must not make a whore of itself to BP and hire the very best engineers and scientists from around the world on BPs dime for as long as it takes and for as much as it takes. BP needs to do nothing but pay and pay and pay and pay and pay.

Pull BP out and send in whom? The Girl Scouts?

EDIT: YES they are all devils. Get it out of your system. It helped me and I am stuck here at Alabama's ground zero. No shrinks are here yet either. I really have been asking, for myself and others.

None here that I have seen either and by seeing the despair on the faces of the fisherman, etc done here they are deperately needed. A few weeks ago the owner of the Hilton literally broke down in tears while speaking to the staff.

Whom? ANYBODY. Just not BP people. BP should have NO input what-so-ever other than money input now. And its time to start jailing those who made decisions to "keep going".

BTW TinFoilHatGuy, it was a post you made a little back that REALLY explained the process of this whole thing in EXCELLENT laymans terms that got me reading theoildrum. So far, the best resource I know of for getting away from the lies BP is paying for in the media.

Thanks, I have been trying to repay a rather large debt to TOD.

Rubbish. To some anything said that they disagree with or by somebody they dislike is a lie. Does not make it so. On the other hand those same people often believe a lot of unsupported junk that the media or folks on the internet present as fact.

The "Free" (and by free I mean "enslaved by huge money")Media is another worthwhile subject. What I am really trying to get at though, is that a multinational corporation has caused potentially grave damage to a very important ecology and a very important place to the United States and has caused certain massive damage to the U.S. economy and has toppled the lives of tens of thousands of families in the South... for what. It was on a bet. The bet that critical equipment failure would not matter because they were so close. I mean - that's what I'm essentially hearing through the little burps and sneezes in the media I've read about workers being worried by seeing pieces of material coming up in the mud and the rig company advising/suggesting against what BP ultimately chose to push ahead with.

That is why I believe that BP needs to just sit this one out. Let people and companies in to take over that are not compromised by an interest to be dishonest and use a potentially desperate thought process, as it were. The stakes are just too important.

My apologies if this vein is out of context or inappropriate for this thread.

I have been watching one of the ROV's today putting yellow blocks with hoses on them all around BOP riser where the 24 bolt flange is. I believe these are for the new underwater dispersant equipment they have been talking about. It will be used if they have to abandon the well because of a hurricane and maybe used if they decide to take the top part off of the riser and replace it.

Nope, those were to straighten the upper movable part of the flexjoint. From what I can tell by the tiny pictures it's more or less back to vertical. The dispersant rig they talked about has been in place for a while now, it's the clumsy contraption fixed to the base of the 'cap', mostly hidden by the curtain of oil rising around the outside of the cap.

What is the yellow boxy thing with something like hardware cloth, looks like a rabbit hutch?

What is the thing with a row of six dial gauges, each apparently with a valve operated by a T-handle? At mid-morning a ROV arm was operating the valves, apparently practicing.

I was talking about the new underwater dispersant unit they are setting up that has a large tank to fill with dispersant so if they have to leave that will keep spraying dispersant into the oil flow. This has just been talked about recently.

From my understanding that movable flexjoint is an internal part of the pipe, the outside if it is a solid casting. It is nothing that can be straightened from the outside.

BP stated they would be using a hydraulic tool to straighten the flex joint before setting the new cap.

I think the physics would rule out using relatively small things like those placed around the pipe where they would have to use the most force and have the least leverage but heck I might be wrong. It appears to me they have a hydraulic ram in place on that part now. I have seen one in the rov feeds.

In all the diagrams of the flexjoint posted here recently, none of them have shown it in any position other than vertical, in other words the flex part isn't shown in a flexed position. And the self-appointed flexjoint 'expert' stated emphatically and incorrectly that the flex part wasn't supposed to flex, so if you listened to him it's understandable why what you saw didn't make sense. It's like a fancy ball and socket joint, the upper part can lean over something like 15 degrees in any direction. After the bent riser was cut away, the flex part stayed flexed, the little rams/support bases pushed the flex part back to vertical. The control panel had a valve and a gauge for each of the little rams - one ROV was positioning the rams while another one worked the valves and monitored the gauges. There was also a scrolling dot-matrix LED display that showed the angle of the joint as they worked with it.

I put a couple of BOP related items on my website today:

http://homepage.mac.com/james_r_white/tei_share/images/BOP_Photo.JPG <-= nice big photo of the BOP

http://homepage.mac.com/james_r_white/tei_share/images/BOP_Drawing.pdf <-= drawing of the BOP

I was surprised to see one of the ROVs hook up a cable to a big panel on the top side of the BOP today and the whole shebang unplugged and was lifted off. I wonder what that was all about?

This thing? It's the control panel for the hydraulic rams. I didn't see where it went after that, if they hauled it up to the surface I guess they're done with it.

Looking at that BOP pic is a good reminder as to the scale of what they're working with out there. Aww, look at the cute widdle toy ladders! Watching the ROV video for a while, your brain interprets the claw as the same size as your hand... it's not! Not even close! :)

I was wonder about that. Please put us out of our misery. How big are those claws in real life, what sort of domestic object would be a similar size? It will help grasp the scale of what we are seeing.


big enough to pull a marlin out of a BOP, if earlier videos are any indication.

The jaws are interchangeable and of varying size, but it appears that most of the ROVs present are using the ones linked to below. The right hand jaw is generally a 4" parallel jaw fitted to a Schilling Robotics Titan 4 manipulator. This manipulator is an 'SC arm' which is capable of closely following the motions of a small 'master' arm which is moved by the operator. This allows very fine control of the arm. The jaw is about the same size as a human hand.

The left hand jaw is generally an intermeshing jaw about a foot long, fitted to a Schilling Robotics Rigmaster manipulator. This manipulator is more 'heavy duty' and is controlled by rate valves. This arm does not have fine control, being controlled by a series of 'on/off' functions.

If you follow the links below you will get a lot more info, especially if you click on the 'datasheet' links and download the PDFs.



" TALLAHASSEE — In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP publicly touted its expert oil clean-up response, but it quietly girded for a legal fight that could soon embroil hundreds of attorneys, span five states and last more than a decade.

BP swiftly signed up experts who otherwise would work for plaintiffs. It shopped for top-notch legal teams. It presented volunteers, fishermen and potential workers with waivers, hoping they would sign away some of their right to sue.

Recently, BP announced it would create a $20 billion victim-assistance fund, which could reduce court challenges.

Robert J. McKee, an attorney with the Fort Lauderdale firm of Krupnick Campbell Malone, was surprised by how quickly BP hired scientists and laboratories specializing in the collection and analysis of air, sea, marsh and beach samples — evidence that's crucial to proving damages in pollution cases.

Five days after the April 20 blowout, McKee said, he tried to hire a scientist who's assisted him in an ongoing 16-year environmental lawsuit in Ecuador involving Dupont.

"It was too late. He'd already been hired by the other side," McKee said. "If you aren't fast enough, you get beat to the punch."

At the same time it was bolstering its legal team, BP was downplaying how much oil was spewing from the Deepwater Horizon well — something that lawyers say is likely to be a critical factor in both court decisions and government fines."

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/03/1714485/bp-wasted-no-time-preparin...

It's all capricious and arbitrary anyhow. How much are 1,000 sea turtles worth? 10,000? An entire species? Sub-species? People? Way of life?....

Thanks DougR, every time I think that I know how low they will go, I find out they have gone lower. So we do now know what they are good at - containment - not of the oil but of information and liability.

Well, I guess this proves beyond a doubt the BOP has fallen over.

Things I have learned since following the BP spill on the ground and in the air:

1) A huge amount of money is changing hands and it goes to those with BP and government connections.
I would equate some of this to "pork" projects. Yesterday I say four massive graters shifting sand on the Grand Isle beach, beyond the berm that held back the oil, when it was coming ashore a few weeks ago. This is a dig and pony show. Big contracts have been awarded on Grand Isle.
3) BP is the unified command. Although Obama and the CG signs off on big decisions, every other aspect of this is managed by and through BP.
4) Throwing hundreds of millions at problems will make a lot of issues get away in the short term.....the question really is how will this play out in the long run, and how much money will get to those who are not connected the state and local governments and able to get in on the contracts handed out.
5) Where is the oil? At the bottom of the oceans and in the bays. We think its being sunk. Its the only plausible answer. There are reports of planes dumping corexit at night....this sounds right to me.
6) For those who like conspiracy ideas, if the relief well fails, and BP is forced to pump product from Deepwater Horizon via another platform and to shore (now plan B) I will be very suspect.

You could have learned most of that before the spill IMHO.

Edit: The oil is here. Go to my site and look at the pictures. http://gcn01.com

3) BP is the unified command. Although Obama and the CG signs off on big decisions, every other aspect of this is managed by and through BP.

As far as I can tell, this is true, except I would be surprised if the president is involved in any Unified Command decisions. In his early June speech, he (foolishly) claimed to be in charge, but that was just a political response to all the arm-waving that followed the oil making shore. But BP is managing most of the effort. Here is a new BP video about waste management--it's PR of course, but shows how complex even this small part of the response is.

Another BP video a few weeks ago showed guys in BP's Houma HQ directing the deployment of boom and skimmers for that day.

5) Where is the oil? At the bottom of the oceans and in the bays. We think its being sunk. Its the only plausible answer.

I disagree with you here. Dispersant doesn't sink the oil in masses, rather it turns relatively fresh oil into a fog of droplets that will eventually be eaten by bacteria. Dispersant doesn't much affect the weathered orange mousse and tar. So where is the oil? Perhaps 20%, the lighter fractions, evaporated in maybe a week or two after surfacing. Bacteria have already eaten a lot of oil--hard to say how much, but I'd guess more than has evaporated. A lot has been dispersered, no telling how much. Burning and skimming have removed a fairly trivial amount, probably less than 10%. And there's enough left floating to cover thousands of square miles of the Gulf.

Dispersant doesn't sink the oil in masses, rather it turns relatively fresh oil into a fog of droplets that will eventually be eaten by bacteria

Are we sure that after being treated with chemicals this "mousse" is still eatable by bacteria?...

If it wasn't we wouldn't see oxygen depletion in the oil plumes.

"Where's the oil?'

Well perhaps you might rethink your assumptions, look at a map to calculate the thickness and area, chart the weather of the past number of days and the wave heights too, think about how much has been skimmed, burned, evaporated, and collected, look at the published data regarding small amounts subsea, and look at the daily shoreline hits. Perhaps you will be able to come up with something other than "It sank".

One of the ingredients of this dispersant is an emulsifier. It makes the oil mix with water.

Actually I have flown over the site and ocean numerous times, watched video of numerous flyovers, have driven perhaps 1.500 miles to Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. Have three times taken boats into the wetlands, and have studied the spill charts carefully and endlessly. I have seen how few skimmers are out in the ocean and what how large the extent of the slick is. I have seen oil patches of oil under the surface of the water.

My opinion and that of almost everyone on coastal Louisiana, and one backed up by reports of undersea plumes, actual samples from Alabama scientists is that BP is sinking the oil or mixing in with seawater.

"If you would like to catch up with what's been going on in the last few days, our IRC channel has been maintaining a FAQ, which is an open source log full of information, links, and such. Check it out: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dff7zmqz_7c6rdwsc9"

Wow. Many thanks for this link!

This place has been here for a while. Yes, I joined after 4/20. I live in the direct impact zone, but I am nothing special. Ok, maybe I am spending some time on this now but there is no replacement for experience and knowledge. While you are evaluating a post, you might want to check a user's history and account length of service. When you come here and post a view or thought, these folks have been singing this song for a while. The reward is in the work and the user history is another good place to go. That's all.

Y'know, I've been meaning to mention this. TOD's user-history emphasis is something unique in my experience of Blogovia (maybe because this is the first even sort-of industry-centered blog I've latched onto, my other hangouts being mostly news-, law-, or politics-focused). But TOD is the first one I've known to supply each commenter a separate page, which community-members apparently monitor carefully, using time-in-attendance to some extent as a marker of commenter cred.

I haven't picked up that habit and probably won't (what and how you share are all that affect me), but it's distinctive. (Surely misleading too, since 'most any blog's loyal readership far outnumbers its stable of kibitzers; for instance, I read here for at least a month before logging in, then waited weeks more to start typing.)

How did this tradition start? Is it a common feature of science-and-tech blogs? (The only other one I frequent in Pharyngula, which doesn't devote bandwidth to this.) Hm.

Join dates are pretty common in bulletin board type forums, (as opposed to blogs). I think you're correct in that you can usually tell just by reading the context of a user's presentation to make some judgement as to the merit of an individual's contributions. Lurking before chiming in usually gives me an idea of who the established participants are in a forum. The folks who like to cite another's join date usually come off as engaging in a petty peeing contest, for the most part.

Ah, so that's where it came from, mtm. Thanks. Yeah, the first time I saw somebody's join-date used as a weapon in a flareup, I said out loud (startling a cat) "Hah?!" Well, whatever's handy, I spoze . . . cheers.

Join date as a weapon, bad. Join date as a start of a body of work, good. Good and bad in all, depends on how it is used.

NEWS FLASH GULF SHORES. Fireworks for 2010 on for 9 PM. Launched from an offshore barge. Yes sir nothing like Class A Explosives to crank this party up a notch. I am proud to be from Alabama. Look south for a big mushroom cloud @ 9:02 PM CDT. LOL.

EDIT: Yes going to get photos now, and will have some from the event. You can't keep Gulf Shores down.

Ooooooo dear, Hope there are not too many volatiles in the air or that will go with a real bang :)


Edit: From Alabama by way of Korea. Long story.

Here to TFHG, one show in the Bay of a barge and the Beach show off the pier....

Going to the pier. Did not find out they moved it until today. The gulf is too rough. One year they almost had to cancel because of the high surf. Now they go off the pier when it is rough.

Same here, this is the first ye they've done the pier thing as it's usually in the sound, but I guess the boom issue put the kabosh on that idea....I just thought about you as the Blues just buzzed us, can you see/hear them from GS?

Me and my buddy are playing heavy metal, guitar, drums, the works.

A very interesting theory here of what might have helped cause the blow out and some ideas on why BP is doing certain things like cutting off the riser pipe.


Very interesting read.

Yes, I was looking forward to comments from the oil geek crowd. I guess they went to the Blue Bell Country Club Classic today.

After the "non-technical" post a couple days ago, (which kinda seemed like it was a good chance for the political-types to let off some steam), I think the lawyers and the bluebell eaters took a little time off.

Looks like the techies are slowly coming out of their bluebell comas, might take a little longer for the lawyers, as they probably haven't developed a tolerance for bluebell brainfreeze yet. Geologists function about the same with or without brainfreeze, so I'd look for one of them to be the first to chirp in.

The value of being in a litigious society is that corporations are more careful. A Bhopal in the US would have been much more costly, which is why they were in Bhopal. Many dangerous industries have been offshored where they can operate with cheaper labor, less restrictions, and the assurance that they can get away with murder.


Our clean up will cost more than say in the Niger Delta because of fines and litigation. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcusbensasson/1235361139/

Oil spill, Niger Delta.A section of swamp is cordoned off after being affected by an oil spill from a Shell pipeline near the Engenni community of Joinkarama 4. Since the discovery of oil in Nigera over 50 years ago, the amount of oil spilt has represented the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez disaster per year.

Of course at some point third world people have enough and start kidnapping oil executives. If our media is kept from filming the spill results and no effective clean up happens the people of the Gulf might start feeling some affinity with the people of the Niger. I think BP's problem is that they expected to be able to treat a spill here like they would in the third world and increasingly our government is letting that happen.

Being able to sue not just for damages but also for punitive damages is possibly the only way to keep corporations in line, especially in an age when the Congress has built a high altar to deregulation.

Keynesians And Austrians Are Ignoring Basic Factors, Like The Energy Crisis

Left unaddressed during the past 3 years in most of the debates between economists has been the problem of energy. The reason is simple: post-war economists don’t do energy, except as an ever-expanding resource that the credit system and technology makes available. For the post-war economist, the supply curve of energy–save for brief lags–is always coming back into rough equilibrium with the economy. Accordingly, the ongoing dispute between Keynesians and Austrians (or Austerians if you like) is exceedingly boring in this regard.
As late as 2008, for example, economist Paul Krugman was at least an infrastructure-and-engineering Keynesian. However, Paul quickly converted to becoming just a throw lots of money at the existing system Keynesian. The hollow nature of Krugman’s debate with Niall Ferguson meanwhile comes via their shared belief that the system will self-organize, if you follow their respective prescriptions. They are indeed the inheritors of Adam Smith. However, neither allowing the economy to deflate further from here via austerity, nor throwing more debt-marked stimulus will solve the present day problem. For the United States, along with the rest of the developed world, has reached a boundary in energy.


A political move, but I like it:
From .com to .gov for oil spill response website

IMO the White House has already botched the political optics of this incident beyond repair. They really should have stuck to the original line, "The responsibility and the resources are in the private sector and this is BP's job to do." Verbally taking responsibility for something he can't really control was a crazy move by Obama, and I thought so when I saw that speech.

BP is helping pay for the current website. The government could still bill BP when it takes over the site.

BP better hope they don't use Smartronix for the website.

I'm trying to remember what the Federal gov't going rate on websites is. $18,000,000 for four years, isn't it?

A very interesting theory here of what might have helped cause the blow out and some ideas on why BP is doing certain things like cutting off the riser pipe.


This was so interesting that I have reposted it here in full ('Tex', 31 May)


This is only my opinion, I can not prove any of it, but I think it will come to light.

Everyone is saying they can not figure out what cause the Rig to Explode so quickly, the loss of 11 souls, the failure of the BOP. It is not that hard to figure out. I have been in the drilling business for almost 40 years. I could not get exact information as to casing strengths and all the data that would have been helpful to come up with perfect calculations, but there is only one circumstance and scenario that can cause this to happen in my opinion.

The information has slowly passed across the internet as to all the well data: mud weights, depths etc. I have had to piece and separate the facts from the fiction to come to my conclusions.

I see where they are holding the Captain responsible for the largest oil spill in History and saying anyone on that rig could have simply called a time out. I will assure you that that Captain had nothing to do with this spill, nor could he have prevented it. Nor could have the 11 men that died or the men that lived through a fiery hell.

In my opinion using my knowledge and experience no one could have stopped what appears to me was the makings of a disaster. They built the 20 hour bomb accidentally and it would have been impossible for anyone to detect what was going on until it exploded.

I believe they made a grave mistake in their design and then continued to make others after it started going wrong.

The secret to this I am sure is when they decided to pump Nitrogen cement into an abnormally pressured Deepwater well. They should have never done this is my opinion. The last thing you would ever want is to end up with gas behind the casing string in a Deepwater well. You do not want gas behind any casing string anywhere. It is different on a land rig or a surface BOP where you can actually let the nitrogen surface as it breaks out of the cement.

It is not contained and even if you install the hanger seal you can still monitor the pressure behind the casing through a well head wing valve. But if you do this on a Deepwater well as soon as they installed the pack off in the casing hanger at 5000 ft. it was the same as lighting the 20 hour fuse. The gas continues to migrate and there is no place to monitor it or to bleed it off. The pressure just keeps building.

It is one thing to positively design a well and use all the data and information from books and manufacturers design criteria considering known or expected pressures, but wells also need “WHAT IF CALCULATIONS” I call it (negative or what if) Engineering.

Three “WHAT IF” calculations should have been made and apparently they were not.

1) What if the Nitrogen migrates up the annulus behind the casing after the seal assembly is set?

2) What if the cement job fails altogether and the shoe is not encapsulated and the formation is not isolated either?

3) What if both of these occurred?

I believe these things happened on the HORIZON and that is what has caused this disaster.

Gas has to expand somewhere to relieve the pressure of the bubble as it migrates to surface or to shallower depths.

One barrel of gas from the bottom of this well will increase in size by approx. 884 times when it reaches the surface. This is 884 
barrels or 37,142 
gallons from the original 1 barrel of gas which entered the well bore at 
feet. Gas expands based on Boyle’s Law.

P1 x V1 = P2 x V2. .

I personally believe the nitrogen cement job started the events although it seems other bad practices had occurred prior to the cementing job. It really does not matter if it was from the nitrogen migrating after breaking out of the cement or the fact they should never have pumped nitrogen light cement into this well reducing the hydrostatic and allowing an influx from the formation.

It is just the fact that gas “was migrating” behind casing after the seal assembly was set and that is what created the un seen 20 
hour bomb.

The true sequence of events that no one could see.

What happens now? A lot of things start happening that are impossible for anyone to detect or to see. It is not important how much training you have had, how vigilant you are, how much you like your job or how many children you have.

This includes the driller or anyone else on the rig which have been trained to notice pressure differences, flow differences, gains or losses from the well.

Every monitor on the rig will look normal because it is impossible to monitor the pressure build up behind the casing with the seal assembly in the casing hanger.

The first thing that started happening is the casing you ran in to the well and hung off in the well head on the casing hanger is starting to get lighter and lighter. There is no way to see this. The casing is no longer connected to the rig at all. It has become a permanent part of the well. But it no longer weighs 400,000 or 500,000 lbs.

A compressed gas bubble exerts equal pressure in all directions. UP, DOWN, FRONT, BACK, LEFT, RIGHT AND ANY OTHER DIRECTION YOU CAN IMAGINE. It is like the rays coming from the sun in all directions.

There are two different scenarios I could talk about, but since there was a loss zone in the well and it took 20 hours after cementing for the “well” to kick and the rig explode I am sure the gas was expanding as it was migrating. If it was not; the occurrences probably would have taken place much sooner.

As the gas behind casing was migrating, it was gradually forcing more and more of the 14 PPG mud and cement downward into the loss zone and into the actual oil/gas bearing formation. This is not changing the BOP (bottom hole pressure) of the well because there is a loss zone, but it is drastically changing the weight of the casing.

The reason for this is because as more and more mud and cement is replaced with gas behind the casing there is more and more pressure exerted upwards against the bottom of the casing hanger. There are around 205 square inches below the hanger if you base it on a 18.75”
9.625” casing hanger. But in reality there was another (size step down)
in the well casing design because they ran a 7” x 9.625” casing string.

The actual square inch surface area that pressure will react against is 18.75” x 7” = 237 square inches.

By the time the gas had migrated upwards the first 1000 feet or forced away 1000 feet of cement; there was 728 PSI exerted against the bottom of the casing hanger.

If you remember the total weight of the casing was 400,000 
to 500,000 pounds. With this 728 PSI now pushing up on the bottom of the 
square inches of the casing hanger it creates an upward force of 728 X
175,536 pounds. The hanging weight on the hanger now is 500,000 –
175,536 = casing weight of 324,464 pounds. The gas migrates another 1000 
and forces the mud and cement back into the loss zone. The casing weight has lost another 175,536 pounds. Total casing weight is now 148,928 pounds.

By the time the gas migrates 1000 feet more there is now a negative casing weight of
(-26,608) pounds and instead of the hanger supporting weight; it is now holding pressure and pushing upwards with a force of 26,608 pounds. The actual mud or cement which has been displaced and replaced with gas at this point is about 67 
barrels. There had only been 51 barrels of cement pumped during the cement job. The cement would have covered about 2,200 feet behind casing originally or an interval from 18,336 ft to 16,136 feet.

It must be realized that since the well is now blowing out and the oil and gas is coming from the formation at the bottom of the well there can not be any cement around the casing at the top of the oil and gas bearing formation. Therefore it must have pushed most of the 48
 bbls of cement into the formation as described above. There would have been about 3 bbls of cement between the float collar and shoe inside of the casing. There was 51 barrels total cement pumped.

If the gas had migrated 1000 more feet and forced another 1000 ft of mud back into the formation; there would now be about 90
 barrels of compressed gas behind casing. The top of this gas bubble would be at a depth of 
feet from the surface and still 9,336 ft below the BOP. The casing weight would know be a negative (-202,144) pounds and this is also the force pushing up on the bottom of the hanger.

Even at this point the hanger could have been blown out of the well head if there was no cement at all around the shoe.

I do not know when they actually displaced the inside of the casing from mud to sea water or how much they displaced, but it would also have an effect; making a greater upward force.

They have now decided to displace the marine riser from 14 PPG mud to 8.6 PPG sea water. This is going to react and increase the lifting forces because the downward forces are being reduced. If they had finished displacing the 14 PPG mud with 8.6 PPG sea water it would have reduced the hydrostatic by an additional 1,404 PSI. This is when the failure occurred and the well kicked and blew out.

The upward force at this point on the casing string and casing hanger was 534,892 pounds above the actual weight of the casing that was ran.

1) There was a column of gas in the annulus with a volume of approximately 90 + barrels. It had a bubble pressure equal to BOP (bottom hole pressure) which is

2) The top of the bubble was about 14,000 feet +/- from surface and only 9,000 feet from the BOP. The well had more or less been displaced to sea water and the hydrostatic at 14,000 feet with sea water would be 6,260 PSI.

3) One of two things occurred.

4) a) Either the shoe turned loose and the whole casing string blew out and up through the BOP and the blow out occurred behind casing from the annulus only. At this point it only needed to blow out approximately 200 bbls before gas would be above the BOP stack. That would not take 5 seconds with that type of pressure build up.

5) b) The casing actually parted and the hanger and the casing blew up through the BOP and the kick is coming from inside and outside the casing.

6) As far as the kick and the burning of the rig it really does not matter at this point which of the two occurred the result is exactly the same and the time for it to occur would have only been milliseconds difference.

7) It might make a difference now, concerning the killing of the well. If the casing shoe pulled out of the remaining cement and the casing is intact then the complete casing string blew up out of the hole so the casing hanger must be above the BOP. If this was the case then if the annular was closed it should have at least partially stopped the flow. The casing hanger and seal assembly was 18.75”
 which is the same as the I.D. of the well head and BOP. It would have blown up inside the 21” riser to create enough by-pass for the well to blow out around it between the OLD. of the hanger and the I.D. of the marine riser.

8) If the casing parted somewhere below the hanger (which it most likely did) then the hanger itself could actually be in the BOP stack or again it could be above it with casing still inside the BOP.

9) Regardless this was failure is equivalent to a 6,740 PSI under-balanced kick with a volume of approximately 100 barrels of compressed gas stored and waiting with a
pressure of 6,740 PSI and then an open formation with a BOP of 13,000 
 following behind. It would have been next to impossible for a driller or anyone else to push the buttons fast enough to close the BOP in time. If the casing and hanger blew into the BOP there would have been nothing in the BOP that could have closed to stop the flow. (I believe this is the case.)

10) To my knowledge there is not a condition existing such as this in nature any where on this planet. While drilling formations from one to another; they do not have that rapid of a pressure change, nor do they have the ability to have that type of stored volume the moment you drill into the formation. This is more like drilling into the side of a compressed oxygen bottle with 6,740 PSI with a electric drill. Normal compressed gasses in bottles of any kind only have 3,000 PSI.

11) That blow out is equal to a 9.25 PPG kick at 14,000 feet under the conditions described above and the gas build up behind casing. I have never heard of a kick greater then 3 PPG as a natural occurrence.

12) From what I read there was drill pipe in the hole at the time of the kick and explosion, so if the casing and casing hanger blew up through the BOP there was nothing that could actually close to seal this well. There were no casing rams in the BOP, and even if there had been the driller would not have closed them. If something could close around the casing such as the annular then there would still be flow between the inside of the casing and the drill pipe.

13) There was not supposed to be casing in the BOP. Casing had been ran and cemented 20 hours before. The driller would have closed the pipe rams, but they would not close on casing.

14) The driller under these conditions probably would have pushed the shears to shear the drill pipe. If he did not, then the automatic system operated when communication was lost to the Pods and the shear rams tried to close automatically; they would not have been able to shear casing with drill-pipe inside. That would be why they did not have enough force to close and secure the well and that is the events that I believe have caused this disaster.

I just do not believe that so many things could have failed at the same time. I believe the BOP worked to the best of its ability, but could not cut because the casing had blown out of the hole. Many drill strings around the world weighing 100s of thousands of pounds have been blown out of the hole. There is no reason that would prevent casing from doing the same thing if gas was trapped behind casing.

If what I have described above is what in fact happened, then they can reinvent the subset BOPs and install 15 pipe rams and 2 blind shears and they still will not close if this should happen again. They need to make sure they understand the ROOT cause and fix that. Other wise jobs are lost, money is spent and the situation has not changed and the danger is still real.

I am confident they will probably discover that what I have described above happened if they are successful at cutting off the top of the marine riser. But they should consider this as a possibility. Looking at their latest plan it appears they are going to make a first cut on the riser using a large shear.

The way I see it they are going to crimp the riser shut when they make this cut. If they close in this well it is going to try to achieve a shut in pressure. That may blow the riser off the top of it and that won't be good. If they are going to do the first cut with a shear they need to have a good flow path to the recovery vessel and establish flow up to the vessel via choke and kill before they go fooling around with trying to make the first cut.

If they were real lucky they might crimp the riser without increasing the flowing pressure inside the BOP and all oil flow would be recovered to the vessel. Just do not try to shut it in at any time after this. If that does not happen then they may have to cut riser with the diamond saw, but if I am correct they will also have to cut through casing and then drill pipe to successfully clear the top of the well bore above the LMRP. If they only get it half done they are going to make the leak worse without having another corrective action.

They should also consider the fact as soon as they cut into the riser there is going to be a lot of pressure oil and gas coming out of the cut and it will blind all the cameras on the ROV if it is up close. If that happens they will be trying to work blind at the bottom of the sea. Also if there are additional strings inside the riser it could break the diamond band blade in the diamond saw.

Since they have choke and kill lines hooked up now, why do they not try to flow the oil up to a recovery vessel through the choke and kill lines. I am guessing at this, but I believe they said once that there was about 1600 PSI flowing pressure and I would have to assume that is above sea water hydrostatic of +/-2236 PSI giving an actual well flowing pressure of 3836 PSI.

There are some real intelligent people working the numbers on that end, but it seems to me if they could flow up through the choke and kills to the recovery vessel holding some back pressure at surface to prevent rapid gas bubble expansion the oil and gas column would be much lighter then the hydrostatic of 5000 ft of sea water which is +/- 2236 PSI. If they could get enough flow to reduce the pressure inside the BOP so that it was less then 2236 PSI, you would be recovering all the oil and the sea water hydrostatic would prevent oil and gas from coming out of the ruptured riser.

I have not tried to run any numbers on this because I do not know exactly what they have hooked up.

That is pretty much how I have thought it happened. I had wondered how pressure tests, both positive and negative would have been of any value when the whole annulus was isolated. I can see how they would be of value for testing the shoe, but that means nothing when the cement job is leaking up the annulus. As I see it they made 3 bad decisions that contributed to the blow out. I am by no means an expert, but I think all these actions should be against the rules for deep water drilling.

1. Running a 13,000 ft casing string instead of liner and tie back string. (Tie back string installed after it has been firmly established that the cement job is good.) Then at least the gas could have not been able to sneak up the annulus undetected.

2. Not enough centralizers

3. Nitrogen in cement.

I agree, Hank with the addition:

Displacement of 14ppg mud with 8.35 ppg seawater to the depth that they had planned to. They were reducing hydrostatic pressure to below pore pressure. To displace to 8367 with seawater they would have needed a heavier mud below. As I understand it, regulations called for hydrostatic above pore pressure for temporary abandonment.

Displacement of 14ppg mud with 8.35 ppg seawater to the depth that they had planned to. They were reducing hydrostatic pressure to below pore pressure. To displace to 8367 with seawater they would have needed a heavier mud below. As I understand it, regulations called for hydrostatic above pore pressure for temporary abandonment.

Ageed, but there would be no way to replace the mud in the annulus of the production string. That is the most basic problem. This isolated compartment in the well gave the gas a route toward the top. As I understand it the 9 7/8 had a callapse strength of 10,000 psi. which is reduced when pipe is in tension. You get near to 12,000 psi at the top of annulus, then displace riser with seawater and you have 2300 psi inside the top of production string and pop goes the weasel. I know there are safety factors in pipe ratings, but how much has the tension decresed the rating of the 9 7/8?

I don't know if the pressure would collapse the casing first or push the hanger up like poping a cork, but either way it is not a good result.

Another factor in this folly of running a production long string that I just thought of, is when they set the pipe in the hanger and seal it, it effectively isolates the 13,000 ft annulus from the 5,000 ft riser, there by reducing the hydrostatic head in the annulus and allowing the gas easier access to the well bore.

The more I think about this the more I think what were they thinking, they should know better. But, I am just a lowly mud engineer and know very little about casing design.

Anybody know what volume of nitrogen they put in the cement?

I think there was a link to the Haliburton specs for the cement job on TOD in the last day or so.

This probably has the info:


page 15 "Foam Pumping Schedule for Gas"

Foam cement that I have seen resembles gray shaving cream. It was used in a totally different application/environment and still required squeezing.

I'm just wondering: his hypothesis apparently requires a significant volume of nitrogen bleeding out of the cement and laking uphole to destroy the well. Is there that much nitrogen in the slurry?

Correct me if I'm wrong about the hypothesis requirements.

I don't think there was that much Nitrogen injected into the foam slurry but I am not a cementer. I believe it states that they pumped 1167 scfm for 7.74 minutes. I don't think that the nitrogen would have broke out of the slurry. Just my opinion.

So what is his conclusion? Will the relief well work or not?

I see nothing that will prevent the relief well from working. You still have a hole that you need to fill fro the bottom up with mud.

As the real idiot I am, I have some trouble understanding this. Just one issue for now, buoyancy is a pressure effect. The less dense the medium, the less the buoyancy. Therefore, casing should weight more, not less, in nitrogen (or natural) gas than in oil, water or mud.

I have seen repeated references to drill pipe being ejected during kicks or blowouts. I used to think that was due to perforating a high-pressure pocket, momentarily exposing the end of the drill pipe to much higher pressure than the rest of the pipe. Viscous friction would add to the effect if the blowout fluid achieves high velocity, but the momentum transferred to the pipe would not exceed that of the fluid flow. How many tons of gas flow past the pipe during its ejection?

I don't see a pocket of nitrogen injected with the cement and traveling up the well inside or outside the casing exerting any similar force.

By the time the gas had migrated upwards the first 1000 feet or forced away 1000 feet of cement; there was 728 PSI exerted against the bottom of the casing hanger.

If you remember the total weight of the casing was 400,000 to 500,000 pounds. With this 728 PSI now pushing up on the bottom of the 237 square inches of the casing hanger it creates an upward force of 728 X 237= 175,536 pounds. The hanging weight on the hanger now is 500,000 – 175,536 = casing weight of 324,464 pounds. The gas migrates another 1000 feet and forces the mud and cement back into the loss zone. The casing weight has lost another 175,536 pounds. Total casing weight is now 148,928 pounds.

Where does the number 728 PSI come from? Why does the pressure below the casing grow as the gas replaces the mud? Is there really so much gas in nitrogen cement the the gas escaping from the cement job can displace the mud in several thousand feet of well bore?

Perhaps it is not the nitrogen per se, but gas from the formation. This gas is supercritical and behaves much more like a liquid than an ideal gas (Boyle's law). The ideal gas law applies to dilute gases. Even using Boyle's law, the pressure ratio from the formation (appr. 13.000psi) to the sea floor (2.200psi) is about 6:1, so the expansion would be six times. The really big volume expansion comes only as the gas approaches the sea surface level.

As the gas behind casing was migrating, it was gradually forcing more and more of the 14 PPG mud and cement downward into the loss zone and into the actual oil/gas bearing formation.

This sounds like the expanding gas would exert a force beyond its ambient pressure, forcing the mud down into the formation. But the mud will (or so I believe) only be forced into the formation if the weight of the mud column gives it a pressure higher than the formation pressure. This is not a situation of a well blowing out due to too little mud pressure.

On the other hand, if an amount of compressed gas and an amount of heavy mud share a space, the heavier mud will tend to end up in the bottom part of that space. Of course, the space given up by the rising gas may be seen as part of the formation, in which case the mud is entering the formation. But the viscosity of the mud will usually delay its entrance into the smallest pores the gas came from. The viscosity of the mud is also, as far as I have understood, what sufficiently delays the gas bubbling up through the mud so that regular mud circulation is enough to prevent the mud column from becoming too light.

The viscosity of the mud is also, as far as I have understood, what sufficiently delays the gas bubbling up through the mud so that regular mud circulation is enough to prevent the mud column from becoming too light.

There were many hours of not circulating while running pipe and it is my understanding that they did not circulate much before cementing and there was 16 hrs of not circulating after that. Quite a lot of gas could have gotten in and started it's migration.

Why does the pressure below the casing grow as the gas replaces the mud? Is there really so much gas in nitrogen cement the the gas escaping from the cement job can displace the mud in several thousand feet of well bore?

The short answer is yes. With out all the formulas and stuff. Less mud in the column, less hydrostatic head so more gas can enter the well bore and it gets worser and worser. The nitrogen just helps get the process started then it is the natural gas.

In my mind and I my be wrong, you could eventually end up with the whole column of the annulus filled with gas and the pressure equalized to the formation pressure, but the casing would collapse or the pressure on the hanger would lift it out of the hole before that. Displacing the mud on the inside just makes that event happen quicker.

The nuclear industry safety standards would not permit a nuclear explosion to be used on BP’s Macondo blow out, regardless of what Matt Simmons, Bill Clinton or the National Enquirer say.

The blow out will soon be contained with a cap, or stopped with a RW. The oil will continue to float ashore for many months, the beaches will oiled for a few years and the marshes for a decade.

The long term damages to beaches and marshes could have been stopped if BP or federal government had been proactive immediately after the blow out, and gotten all the world wide surface oil recovery equipment and personnel available to the site.

BP put resources in public relations and liability attorneys, not oil recovery. Would like to know the money they spent on these three areas. The federal government did not realize a large amount of oil was being released to the surface, and it would wash ashore with much damage. BP’s goal was to save money, and they blew it. Governments job was to protect citizens of the Gulf Coast, and they failed.

The spilled oil will not disappear. These carbon atoms will continue to exist. Most of the long chain hydrocarbon molecules will not become VOC’s and just harmlessly go into the sky. They will wash ashore or go into the ocean environment, both with unknown serve damage. Nature can handle the wide spread natural oil seeps, but this very concentrated blowout might be different.

Will BP truly make whole ALL those who have lost money/way of life? Doubt it. Will gov? Doubt it. We all lost on this deal.

The oil will continue to float ashore for many months, the beaches will oiled for a few years and the marshes for a decade.

All traces of the oil were gone much quicker than that at the ixtoc oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Lots of bacteria to eat that stuff in warm environments. Hopefully we will see something similar in regards to environmental recovery here as well.


WaPo's caption: "A digitally enhanced satellite image shows the oil spill cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico. The image uses the satellite's sensor bands to highlight the oil and dispersant." If all that turquoise is dispersant -- and I do NOT know that it is -- holy moly.

The story this attaches to, by the way, is headlined "Defense Department remains a large BP customer." Their DoD contracts are worth at least $980 million this fiscal year (11.7% of total purchases both last year and this, per the Defense Logistics Agency), making BP the US military's largest fuel-supplier, as we've noted before.

... Even before the gulf debacle, the Environmental Protection Agency had begun probing the potential debarment of BP from all federal contracts -- including those reached with the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), which buys all fuel for the military services. The EPA plays the lead role in debarment proceedings related to the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, and its probe was sparked by BP's 2006 spillage of oil in Alaska and a 2005 explosion at its refinery in Texas.

But the EPA's deliberations are currently suspended until the investigations of the gulf spill are concluded, according to an EPA spokeswoman. The agency could eventually decide to shut off federal contracts with specific divisions within BP or to the whole company "if it is in the public interest to do so," it said in May. Any such action would be meant to punish "environmental noncompliance or other misconduct," it said.

Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who until recently was overseeing the review of BP's possible debarment, has said she initially supported taking such action, but held off after an official at the Defense Department warned her that the agency depended heavily on BP fuel for its operations in the Middle East. "My contact at DESC, another attorney, told me that BP was supplying approximately 80 percent of the fuel being used to move U.S. forces" in the region, Pascal said. She added that "BP was very 'fortunate' in that there is an exception when the U.S. is involved in a military action or a war." ...

Pascal's settlement talks with BP were stalemated when DWH sank.

"At some point debarment attorneys throughout the government need to look at BP's record," Pascal said. "This is one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. . . . Do we want to do business with this foreign corporation which has a horrendous record of chronically violating U.S. law? You have to look at the overall behavior pattern."

A spokeswoman for the Defense Department, Wendy L. Snyder, gave a different account of the internal debarment discussions. She said the Defense Logistics Agency "informed the EPA that there are adequate procedures and processes to protect the U.S. military missions should EPA determine that BP should be debarred." That claim was reinforced by Schirmacher, who said that "none of BP's current energy contracts are in direct support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan" and that the agency could meet its requirements without BP fuel. But she indicated that the Pentagon had no intention of taking such action in the absence of an EPA decision.

I wonder why Pascal is off the case now. The article doesn't say.

I wonder what we would have learned without the satellites? Either intentionally withheld information and the simply unknown by all. There is one big difference between this event and the others.

No clue what color COREXIT is, but that looks like the color of the water here when you go out past the sand bars

Like Being Blind on the Moon

The Trouble with Deepwater Oil Exploration


They're determined to continue exploration on oil's final frontier -- using high-tech methods they have not mastered.

X -- They do make some valid points. But they cripple their credibility with statements like “and they also muffle the seismic-pulse technology which engineers normally use to find oil. Below the salt you will be blind says Inge Manfred Carlsen, petroleum research director at the SINTEF Group, an independent research organization based in Norway.” Such a statement is so incredibly inaccurate I stopped reading the piece. Perhaps there were valid statements to follow. BTW: engineers don't interpret seismic data...geophysicists do). Two years ago I drilled a well in the DW GOM that entered salt just 600’ below the sea floor (a record) and then drilled thru 24,000’ of salt before getting back into sediments (another record). The seismic data of the geology below the salt was absolutely clear. It was a dry hole since there was no oil/NG trapped. But the geology was exactly as predicted.

We’ve been seeing this phenomenon all along. Folks have valid points/criticisms. But then they add hyperbole or just absolute foolish and indefensible statements that cause their entire offering to be dismissed.

nice map but there seems to be missing entries: Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog?

Thunder Horse (1999), Atlantis (1998), and Mad Dog (1999) were all discovered in the 1990's.

Of note is the geologic cross section view with the following reference:

Illustration Credit: Berman, A. E. and J. H. Rosenfeld, 2007, Deep-water Gulf of Mexico Wilcox play: A new paradigm for the Gulf Coast Paleogene: Petroleum Frontiers, v. 21, no. 1, IHS, Inc., Englewood, CO, 56 p.

Relative to the above discussion on geology of Gulf of Mexico and our friend Arthur Berman.

Of course IHS probably charges a lot for the document

Wilcox is the new frontier but I don't think Macondo is that old.

On that note, the seismic x section (in a BP video June 27) labels Macondo as "M56". I'm not familiar enough with paleontology to identify that age - it might even be a BP internal label: anyone shed any light on that?

No but the cross section is useful as an overall snapshot of the Gulf.. It probably is an internal label as a lot of zones in the recent sediments were labeled by foraminfera. I have an old chart that lists some of these, possibly such a chart is availble online. It has been a long time since I was in the gulf however...and I don't plan on going back.

The http://mxl.fi/bpfeeds site is down. Somebody please post a link that's working. Thanks.

[edit] The http://gulfblog.uga.edu/ blog is inaccessible, too. What's going to be the best FEMA camp to head to?

The mxl.fi/bpfeeds site is down. Somebody please post a link that's working. Thanks.


I use bp is evil because it allows me to stream through VLC media player. The individual streams are working fine right now, but for some reason the video wall isn't.

Are there any updates on the new capacity, supposed to be 'real soon now' ?
They were talking about nearly doubling the possible collect/contain rates, but that seems to have gone off the radar ?

Rough seas have delayed hooking it up, and unfortunately it appears another storm is trying to develop in the area where Alex came from.

The only ROV activity I have seen today seems to be related to the unattended dispersant system they are installing, which is not a good sign. If they think a hurricane is coming their way the will unhook everything and run away, leaving the floodgates of oil and dispersant wide open until they return.


Finally a couple of encouraging signs... it looks as if Helix Producer today moved into position in the City of Ships and her shuttle tanker has weighed anchor and is moving away from shore.

Check http://www.deepwaterbp.com/m_6.asp .. and choose Helix Producer (Real Time Tracking) on the Vessel Tracker drop down menu upper left to get the last 24 hrs of vessel movement... same for Lock Rannoch.

They've had to delay it AGAIN, due to high seas. Supposedly they need 3 foot seas and now they're 4.5.

They're also some storms inthe gulf that could keep it that high for days.

Why didn't they make it easier to connect to this stupid thing?

Hmm, is this sea-limit on the FIRST hookup, or all subsequent hookups as well ?
I could see that huge submerged float as a tricky beast to get right,
but if they have to disconnect due to weather, do they need to wait for very quiet seas to reconnect again ?

The ROV's seemed busy today to me. Installed another jacking control panel and worked with the jacks a good bit, But most activity ceased around 5pm. It would seem if there is work to be done in preparation of new hookup, it would go on around the clock .... just like when they were drilling the well. Certainly rough seas on the surface have nothing to do with with conditions on the bottom ...except when hanging a heavy object from the surface.

Before the thread gets closed, I'll add the links I followed from the original article that I only half read this morning.

The one thing that I found interesting, was the TITLE 33 > CHAPTER 40 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 2704 Limits on liability(b) Division of liability for mobile offshore drilling units


It seems pretty pointless to treat mobile drilling units as a tank vessel, unless the maximum liability is exceeded. I suppose there's a reason for it, but it seems unnecessarily artificial to me.

Other things I started reading before getting distracted this morning:
33 U.S.C. § 2706 : US Code - Section 2706: Natural resources

And I think this was the original article cited by Gail's main article.
http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL33705_20100430.pdf (pdf)

Happy Fourth, folks. We here in the U.S. have a good thing. Hopefully, we can make it better.

This PhD marine toxicologist mentioned cost analysis in his opinion on Corexit spraying:



Just heard on a commercial for our local news that the gov't is taking over the BP web site. Details at 10 o'clock.

Err - taking over a WEB site ?
Whatever for ?

via TFHG: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38088288/ns/disaster_in_the_gulf/

who can post information to the site would change.

to control the message, presumably.

Potentially a good way to bring a little more business to one of their preferred webmasters, as well, I suppose. But that's just speculation.

Although, to be fair, they've worked with the MMS before:

Smartronix has received more than $260 million in federal contracts since the year 2000, with the top awarding agencies being the U.S. Navy, Federal Technology Service, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Minerals Management Service, and the Office of Policy, Management and Budget...

Thanks for that link.

Now it makes more sense, it is all about posture, and appearing to be
'in control' - aka those old chestnuts, Politics, image and spin.

- but a single web site is not really going to fool many.
I guess it makes the self-important, feel more important ?

- but a single web site is not really going to fool many.

I have no way of knowing how many track the $ources of websites, but I imagine it'll give some a little peace of mind to feel the government's in charge. Not the least, those in the government who desperately want to appear to be in charge. But that's kind of my personal feelings.

My feelings aside, I can see valid reasons for them wanting to control the message, with as much misinformation as is out there. But, any way you slice it, the government isn't my go-to source when I want raw information. I wouldn't be here, if it was.

This REALLY bothers me, I hate censorship and I feel like this is just more CYA from the FEDS

Why do you assume that this is "censorship"?. Did you think that you were getting all the facts from the BP site? What host for this website would be acceptable and prevent you from believing there was "censorship" involved?

I am all for health skepticism, but where does that end and something called "cynicicsm" begin? Truly, who should be in charge of sharing information to the nation about this incident or series of incidents and who would you trust most?

I am opposed to the government disseminating the info we are allowed to hear, now do I think BP has been totally honest-no, but IMO I don't trust the government and IIRC they also want the internet kill switch. I don't trust anyone anymore to tell it like it is-too much politically correct BS for me personally, but the one source I trust the least is the Fed Governmet, that's why I have been reading here at TOD for months and finally joined.

Also, are your being restricted in some way from finding out other information from other sources? Will there be some oversight and restriction on other sources? Well there be an FBI agent at your home tomorrow to burn your books and check out your web sites?


Please. As I said, healthy skepticism is always necessary, but distrust where none is warranted is just paranoia without much merit.

Beachmommy, the agenda is the same.....both want to stop you from seeing certain images. This weekend it was oil on Fourchon and Elmer's Island beaches. A lot of oil apparently. No press allowed.

Last week a 60 foot rule was put in place to limit the distance anyone can get from any boom, whether on land or sea........you have to be at least 60 feet from a boom or face a Felony and possible 40,000 dollar fine. This was protested by AP and the ACLU. It was reported in the Times Picayune as well. Its another limitation on the public's right to know.

Ridiculous.They have been having issues with vandalism and interference with ops. CG put in rules. Not uncommon.

"...the gov't is taking over the BP web site."

This is a gob-smackingly stupid move.

The last time I laughed and shook my head in disbelief like this was when I heard McCain had nominated a former Miss Alaska contestant as his running mate.

Mark this down, I think he is wrong. It rained and wind is out of the east. Please note and I'll get back on it tomorrow and find out how I did against the pros.

Official: 15-mile-long oil slick could hit Baldwin County Monday

TFHG~I just saw that myself along with a new possible storm and if it's going to hit Baldwin County more than likely it will hit here too. Guess this wasn't the best week for my staycation but the Blues week is worth it.

Solutions! Some guaranteed to work! Just call the number!


"Are you really such a poor an helpless country. For this you would not necessarely use an underwater roboter, it might be possible, to bring the equipment in the right position, if you fix it between several heavy anchors!!! How long I have to wait, till they start to use there brain? still hopeful C. Holländer (Berlin, Gemany"

Tropical Disturbance 96L is starting to spin-up in the Western Caribbean.

Keep an eye on it.

Yes, and lows are popping up in several other places, although only the one Jetblast refers to is especially worthy of note... so far.

Lots of unsettled weather out there.


Yikes, looks like I should just go ahead and close all the hurricane shutters and have it done with and leave them closed all summer:(

From WKRG Mobile - Pensacola
Perdido Pass Project Still In Pieces

Roller~Posterbookmark image
Telegraph UK -- BP oil spill: oil giant explores Middle East investment to fend off rivalsBy Roland Gribben
Published: 11:11PM BST 04 Jul 2010
A Barclays Bank-style rescue is being discussed by BP with Middle East investors to strengthen its defences against opportunistic bids as it reaches another crucial stage in efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.path: Public ~> Gulf Oil Disaster
originally posted: 2010-07-05 00:29:23***

bookmark image
Guardian UK -- Relief well drill is only days away from leaking oil pipe
Suzanne Goldenberg
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 July 2010 20.12 BST
Relief well engineers are within 15 feet (4.5m) of the leaking pipe. Photograph Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

I thought this was an interesting allegation, from the article:

"They are homing in on that metal or iron signal from the first well," said Julius Langlinais, a former petroleum engineer and professor at Louisiana State University.

The search for the Macondo would go faster if BP were using measurement while drilling tools, whereby sensors installed in the drill string send the appropriate readings back to the surface, said Langlinais. However, that equipment is hugely expensive. Instead, BP is relying on a process that involves swapping the drill bit for the line carrying the sensor.

"They have to pull the drill string out of the well and lower down this sensitive device that looks for magnetic field variations and from that they can tell where the casing of the well is," Pennington said. Then engineers remove the device, replace the drill string and begin all over again. Each shift can take up to two days.

Hey, come on now, cut BP a break. That special tool is really expensive. Why spend all that money? What's the big deal over an exra week of leaking oil?

If this allegation is true, it further reinforces the charges of gross negligence and incompetence by both BP and gov't.

The allegation is false.

From the transcript of the Kent Wells briefing of June 28, 3rd full paragraph on page 4:

"Then there is another term that if you're watching any of the animations that
we put out there they use a term called BHA which stands for bottom hole
assembly and basically that’s just the drilling assembly that we use to actually
drill and take our measurements, et cetera."

"measurement" == Measurement (and control) While Drilling.

The news article is sloppy in other respects.
I just noticed this mistake:
"...the metal pipe of the Macondo, a target barely seven inches (18mm) in diameter."

7 inches is 7 x 25.4 mm/inch = 177.8 mm, a little smaller than a rugby ball diameter.
18 mm is 18/25.4 = 0.7 inch, approx. the diameter of a finger.

should be "cm" (centimeter) instead of "mm" (millimeter) to make sense, but not so dramatic.

And this confusion about viscosity:
"The mud must be viscous enough to flow down the pipe but also dense enough to slow down the oil bubbling up from below."

They'll be pumping it down the pipe, so the mud's viscosity ("thickness", resistance to being deformed) won't matter for flowing purposes unless it is too viscous (though viscosity is important for keeping the mud ingredients suspended).

What's the big deal over an exra week of leaking oil?

Ben Raines and his videocam have gone to see. Investigating the underpinnings of two natural-gas platforms in shallow water off Alabama, he checks out oxygen levels and sealife from surface to bottom: sheen and weathered oil floating up top, then a traffic jam of jacks and snapper, and finally farther down, no more oxygen. All the barnacles have died, and even the sea-undertakers have left the building.

Used to be a nice neighborhood, but nobody goes there anymore.

wouldn't be a big deal if they weren't releasing oil and gas down deep and "dispersing" it.

Why BP didn't do a hot tap into the riser on about day 2 is beyond me, they knew there was an issue with hydrates - just hot-tap the riser pipe and avoid the water - get the oil and gas to the surface and collect or burn it.

They did seal the drill pipe pretty soon, but that was inconsequential.

And then they shoulda' sealed the kink on about day 5 or 6 (would take a few days to measure and machine a patch clamp to fit).
Played around with domes and riser insertion tool for a month, disbelieved there were two pipes in the BOP, so wire-saw failed so no clean seal.
All the while claiming that the amount of oil flowing was irrelevant - duh!

Thanks for the link.

Maybe require all offshore platforms to have windmills driving air compressors and oxygenate the water. Make the farmers and cities up the rivers pay half.

"[faster if using Measurement While Drilling]"

argh! either the "experts" are not, and/or (more likely in my experience) the reporter misunderstood.

MWD (and Logging While Drilling) are useful for normal drilling, and very useful for directional drilling (which they are doing). Given that they refer to "BHA" (bottom hole assembly), they ARE using a mud motor with MWD.

The initial electromagnetic ranging needs the drill pipe out of the way so it can stimulate the Macondo casing and "hear" the (faint) "echos" from far away - so they can avoid an accidental intercept.
They first saw the wild well's casing at something like 200' horizontal distance.

Now that they're closer (20' closing on 5'), they can raise the drill stem a little ways up, lower a wireline tool into the drill pipe, and range without having to do a full "trip" (taking all the drill pipe out of the hole, then running it all back in again) because the signal is bigger at closer ranges. (apparently they can range through the drill pipe at close ranges - though I do wonder if they have a joint or two of some special non-magnetic pipe down there).
This avoids the full-length trips that take a day or two.

One reason magnetic ranging isn't part of a MWD/LWD BHA is that the stimulator/transmitter must be some distance from the receiver.
Another is that it is rarely used - basically only for blowouts and other abnormal situations.
Another is that the power and signal requirements are probably incompatible with a mud-driven generator (and its noise, not to mention the vibration, which would induce noise in the electromagnetic signal) and the (low) bandwidth of mud-pulse communications, so the vector magnetics tool needs to be on wireline so it can operate in a quiet environment - no mud moving.

relief well and ranging video from June 27, animation about ranging about 2:00:

You can see a bit of the ranging tool at 5:06 in this video from the 27th:
good views of the site (at 1:13 - most if not all of the 18 vessels I count are dynamically positioned - what's the fuel tab on that?) and DD III operations.

More detail in the conference call from June 28:

As of July 4, RW #1 is at 17,725 (measured depth?), with 6 ranging runs completed.

RW = 17725' MD

Running 9 7/8 liner no later than end of this week, maybe even as early as Wednesday ?

Given that Wells said they would run their 9 /78" liner at 50 feet above 9 7/8" casing shoe of original well they should be close. The shoe I believe is at 7150' TVD. Accounting for bend they should be pretty close. I was thinking next couple days also. Then let the fun begin.

Thanks for posting that information/rebuttal.

The Guardian also has the nickname of Grauniad based on the reputation for frequent typographical errors, such as misspelling its own name as The Gaurdian.

The professor is wrong.

Once the initial well has been found the procedure changes. Now after the well has drilled down an additional interval (a distance decided by those monitoring progress) instead of pulling the string all the way out and running the wireline in open hole to find the casing, the bit is only retracted to the cased section, and the magnetometer package is wirelined down inside the drill string.


Looking at the latest BP vids feed 46245; what's with the angle of the LMRP? The guides are way off horizontal. Or is the BOP falling quietly over and the LMRP cap's guides are horizontal? Not a good look!

nigwil do you have a link for that feed. I can't find it on any of the feed links I have.

Rockman, your profession offers all manner of thrills, doesn't it?

American Geologist Sentenced to 8 Years in China

Sheeze. Fingers crossed they quietly deport him before long, but his lawyer doesn't sound particularly involved (zealous advocacy a bad move in China?).