BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Not Everything is Clearly Successful - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6698.

Yesterday, I noted that the report from the Unified Command had the well at 17, 400 ft. And I was corrected to note that this is measured depth (MD). Well today the depth has increased a further 300 ft to 17,700 ft , an additional gain of 300 ft, bringing the well to within 60 ft of the point where, earlier, they said they would run the final casing. And at that drilling speed, they should be perhaps there by now, in fact this number would suggest that they might have reached it. There then still remains the delay while they run that casing, which could be some significant additional time, depending on conditions. (The second relief well is at 13,900 ft). The two wells will then be connected, and the bottom kill attempt started.

The complexities of life seem to be influencing other aspects of the spill and situation today. The voyage of the “A Whale” to sweep up large quantities of oil has so far been inconclusive and, despite the large fleet of vessels employed for the process, only an average of 900 barrels a day is reported as having been skimmed and recovered, initially by the two companies BP relied on

BP said it would reach the stated goal largely by deploying two companies that have the necessary expertise, trained staff and equipment: the nonprofit Marine Spill Response Corp. and the for-profit National Response Corp.

Part of the problem of accurately assessing performance comes in the definition of what is being counted as recovered, the oil, or the initial oil and water volume before the oil is recovered. (Of which latter volume some 31.3 million gallons has been recovered). The same sort of questions, in other words, applied to the overall oil recovery as are now being asked of the “A Whale” performance.

More questions are also being asked of other aspects of the spill response. There is an article, for example, in the Times Picayune that critically reviews the move to dredge and create sand islands between the Louisiana coast and the oil spill site. The article notes some of the major concerns, for this series of 6-ft tall berms that will be created over an 80-mile stretch. These include that by changing the seabed geometry, the dredging might reduce the energy-adsorption of the coast as storms approach.

This ties in to the changes in the natural flow patterns of the area, with some areas seeing increased fluid flow that will accelerate erosion, while other areas will lose the ebb and flow of seawater, critical to the health of the protected areas.

The berms created have already been proven to be fragile, with some protective barriers that were emplaced by the National Guard off Holly Beach having been eroded away by the actions of Hurricane Alex. However this was partly due to their location. To be effective the berms, made with Hesco baskets, they need to be further from the water.

The new floating riser system is now anticipated (after the storm delay) to be in place and working by the end of the week. This will capture additional oil through the kill lines, hopefully allowing the vents on the top of the cap to be closed, although there will still be some spill around the base to prevent hydrate formation. (And if the new cap is in place, it will also help with the height of mud column that can be generated when the two wells are connected and the kill begins).

Incidentally the report on waste collection that BP released today does show that some of the boom is being pressure washed to remove and collect the oil that it captured.

The current numbers are:

For the first 12 hours on July 5 (midnight to noon), approximately 8,340 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,095 barrels of oil and 28.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On July 4, total oil recovered was approx. 24,955 barrels:
• approx. 16,920 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 8,035 barrels of oil were flared,
• and approx. 56.9 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Prof. Goose's comment:

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Continuing comment from previous closed thread to brit0310:

In addition to the detection issues regarding mud pulses - the challenge in MWD systems is as the article stated - downhole. There are essentially two types of powering these systems. The most common method is to use lithium batteries. Another method is to use a turbine to generate electricity from the mud flow. Either system can have problems such as debris ( say a glove) getting caught in the turbine blades or temperature and vibration effecting the lithium batteries.

As you can imagine vibration can be extreme at a distance of 50 feet or so behind the bit where these sensors typically are located. Over the past 30 years the dependability of MWD tools overall have improved tremendously, however a tool failure is always a possiblity.

wouldnt it be sensible to combine, like a mud turbine charging a li io batterie ?

that woud be redundancie

The lithium battery is the most common configuration. The turbine based system is not as common. There are some configurations that do incorporate both. The most power consuming component of the system is the electro hydraulic "pulser" that opens and closes and produces the the transmitting pressure pulse. There are also negative pulse pulse tools that port flow above the bit and provide a pressure decrease. And finally there are configurations that do both simultaneously with the positive pulses at a slower wavelength and negative pulses at faster.

As I said these systems have come a long way however heat and vibration can be a challenge.

I wonder if you could boost the data rate by using both neg and pos pulses, along with normal flow, to give a tri-state pulse system.


im into bit pushing with leave it to the engeneers to reduce voltage im trying to imagine how to get data up and down a 3 mile pipe in rock.


Hey, if you can get data back from the edge of the solar system (6.5 billion miles away) with a 20 watt transmitter it can't be that bad.


As I discussed in the original thread there is a move to a different technology called "Wired Drill Pipe" although Im not sure how commercially available or durable it is at present:


Another technology that has faster data rates is EM (ElectroMagnetic) MWD that uses low frequency radio waves. It has limitations in terms of the local geology (such as salt beds), also as you get deeper your signal strength lowers. An example is here:


Wave heights are up to 6 feet again! They were 3 feet for a day or so. They SHOULD have finished the floating riser...if they truly need 2-3 days of 3 feet waves or less...they might not ever have it done. It doesn't look liket he GOM has weather like that for that long.

Not sure how long it takes to hang liner and the rest.

I think with the super big skimmers like those dutch ships the goal is to concentrate the oil with smaller skimmers and then suck it all up, but maybe I'm wrong. That way the big skimmers sucking up .5 square miles a day could be more like 20 or 30 square miles. That is if the water is calm enough to skim together 50 or 100 acres into one acre.

curious about this comment from syncro on the previous thread.

Is this "the holding that corps. have constitutional rights" the same as "the recent ruling by the Roberts court gives corps the right to spend unlimited money on elections, which amounts to a huge expansion of corp. power."?

Here's one thing that puzzles me about criticism of the Citizens United ruling. Are there financial limits put on "news" corporations regarding elections? In other words, if news corporations have unlimited free speech, shouldn't all corporations?

I realise it's off topic, (although there's plenty of criticism of corporations marbled throughout many discussions here), but couldn't squeeze it in before the last thread closed.

... a huge expansion of corp. power ...

Too late - the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the US have been thoroughly undermined by the corporations through their own illegal and unlawful acts. I'm sure there is more, but the biggest case that stole our rights and gave them to corporations was a California Tax case, and the discovery thereafter that the Court Reporter illegally added corporations to the 14th Amendment.

Corporations are a construct of government, and as such have privileges not rights. The actions of corporations with the connivance and acquiescence of governments led to the first American Revolution. I fear it will require a second one to reclaim our Founder's vision:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I've seen a share of disputes over fences, this one seems about as pointless as the rest of 'em.

So, the State was unsuccessful in taxing a few hundred miles of fence, is the jist of all of that? The company was incorporated by several prior acts of Congress, (always the harbinger of doom?), and when the state tried to tax 'em, they argued that the fences weren't given the same tax benefit as private citizens, so refused to pay.

The public utility/quasi-corporation aspect is interesting. I guess I'd have to see how others have cited that as precedent to see how that's been interpreted as corporate person hood

An interesting read, thanks for posting that.

"I guess I'd have to see how others have cited that as precedent to see how that's been interpreted as corporate person hood"

The case really is at the core of the argument. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview:


    So, the State was unsuccessful in taxing a few hundred miles of fence, is the jist of all of that?

So, the Crown was unsuccessful in taxing a few hundred cases of tea, is the jist of all of this?


lol, well played, although I might have missed the issue of taxation without representation in the case you cited. Thanks, though, that was a great comeback.

I think you have misconstrued the gist of the article you quoted, and the following excerpt of the article illustrates this:

Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite announced: "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."[3] This quotation was printed by the court reporter in the syllabus and case history above the opinion, but was not in the opinion itself. As such, it did not have any legal precedential value.[4] Nonetheless, the persuasive value of Waite's statement did influence later courts.[5] For these reasons, it is considered a turning point in the extension of constitutional rights to juristic persons.[6]

The problem with that is it was a false statement at the time it was uttered. No 'opinion' had ever been submitted from the Court, indeed it had never been argued before the Court prior to or during this case. All judges issue instructions to the lawyers and those attending before the bar, but they are not part of the case for adjudication unless presented during argument.

Because of this unlawful direction, we are now at the point where people who have no right to vote for an individual for an office can control the access or lack thereof to those who can vote. Time to put the corporations back under the privileges of government, and out of the rights they've usurped.

What part of the statement was false? It is clear that the judges' opinion is what was recorded.

There is nothing to prevent judges from expressing opinions in any number of ways. They do it all the time in various publications and during the process of hearing a case. Obviously these opinions don't carry weight of law unless they are expressed in a legal decision, but there is nothing at all wrong with other judges being influenced by these opinions when in the future they make their own decisions.

There was nothing unlawful done in this case, and given that the same types of decisions were re-affirmed in following cases the body of law there is not one thing that is untoward about this.

And the idea that people who can vote have no way to control the results of this is incorrect. The Constitution of The United States can be amended and has been a number of times in the past. It clearly could be done so in this matter if the voters were to dictate so.

Personally I would favor this - corporate personhood has been taken too far IMHO. But not entirely - there are some merits to it - for example how do you sue a corporation or bring it up on criminal charges if it has no standing in court? You can't sue the owners because liability is veiled. Without personhood accountability vanishes.

What part of the statement was false? It is clear that the judges' opinion is what was recorded.

You may be confusing the judge's personal opinion with the legal opinion, which is the ruling in question. The court clerk (who favored the railroads) added the judge's personal opinion to the introductory matter, and somehow it was accepted as if it were part of the ruling itself - which it isn't, and never was.

IMO, and IANAL, if Congress wanted corporations to have the rights of individuals, they should have done it then, instead of leaving us with creeping corporate personhood (without the responsibilities that individuals have, and without real penalties for illegal actions).

The first amendment protects the right to petition the govt. and to engage in political speech (the most protected speech there is). That means no limits on lobbyist spending or on political commercials. It also menas no limits on campaign cash. That's "protected speech" in corporate speak.

So guess who has the loudest voice in our democracy now that the S.Ct. threw out John McCain's campaign finance law (and the precedent that supported it) and extended the reach of corporate fist amendment rights?

Citizens who have the right to vote, or large corporations who have vast mountains of money to (1) control who gets sufficient campaign money to run for office, (2) what the voters see on tv political commercials, and (3) hire armies of lobbyists who on a daily basis bribe, threaten and mislead our elected representatives once they get to DC.

It has a lot of people upset, and for very good reason. The ruling is seen as erroding our democracy, put quite simply.

update: Congress is working on a work-around solution, but it can't undo the ruling since it is based on the constitution. Only the S.Ct. can do that. It will take a long time for that to happen. But congress can do a lot to address this if there are the votes for it or it's not blocked from getting to the floor by the determined minority.

The donations are also a matter of record and if you don't like who they support don't buy their products or their stocks/bonds. IMHO it's far better that the donations are out in the sunshine versus the way it was done under M-F where it was funneled thru thinly veiled groups or given under the table via lobbyists. If you don't think #1, #2 and #3 don't ALREADY happen then you are either new to the USA, a recent voter or have been hiding under a rock the last 30 years. Given the power of social media and the Internet what candidates and policies companies support can quickly affect their business thus they are either going to be very careful about who gets support or are going to donate to both sides equally. Additionally what $$$ an influential person in a given firm (say the CEO) gives are that of a private person not the corporation even though they may go to the same candidate but for different reasons. However I don't see the CEO privately supporting some candidate that the corporation thinks would be bad for business. Unless you remove money from the system, both public, private, personal or corporate you are always going to have problems. No system is perfect and very, very few individuals of the type that yearn for public office can be 100% unswayed by money.

I understand, and share the concern of eroding democracy, although maybe for different reasons than others.

I'd have to re-read it, but I seem to recall two things I wasn't entirely comfortable with in the decision, possible foreign and increased union influence.

Our federal government is suing American citizens of Arizona, which I don't believe they'd be doing if they were all that concerned about restricting foreign influence in our political process, to be honest. As for unions, well, they obviously weigh pretty heavy on one side of the process. Something to think about the next time someone cracks a joke about Detroit, maybe.

Thanks for all of the responses, quite a bit of fresh insight to think about.

Do news corporations contribute millions to politicians in order to buy themselves tax breaks and lighter regulation? Is writing news stories the same sort of process as legally bribing politicians? Or perhaps I've misunderstood your third paragraph.

Gobbet -- I had not thought of it until you made the point but I suppose a news corporation could supply a candidate with favorable coverage that would be worth 10's of millions of $'s in positive publicity. And they don't even have to report that effort as a political contribution.

They could also "bargain" campaign money for being the first to break new stories that the public finds interesting. That drives more people to watch which drives up the $$$ they get for advertising time. The Super Bowl doesn't get the highest advertising rate just because it's a great game, it's due to the massive number of viewers.

"Of the 150 cases involving the Fourteenth Amendment heard by the Supreme Court up to the
Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 that established the legal standing of “separate but equal,” 15
involved blacks and 135 involved business entities."
This amendment was to protect the rights of newly freed slaves primarily.

Rock: "a news corporation could supply a candidate with favorable coverage that would be worth 10's of millions of $'s in positive publicity." Not only could, but clearly DID in this last election cycle, and think Billions, not millions. Since news corporations were exempt from the law (being supposedly "neutral") as well as individuals, what we ended up with was NBC corporation loudly (and lewdly, remember chills up the leg?_) rooting for Obama. There wasn't even the pretense of impartiality. Furthermore the heavy hand of billionaires like Soros and Progressive insurance's founder Peter Lewis roiled this last election. So ill conceived arguments aside concerning Citizen's United, the FACT is that unless we want to hand our political system to billionaires and news media permanently, corporations fighting back is our only hope. Obama's statement about foreign corporations was a bald-faced lie, he KNEW it wasn't in the judgement but threw it into his speech nonetheless, figuring the population was too stupid and uninformed to know the difference (he was right). Remember, Citizen's United wasn't some EXISTING corporation, but one explicitly formed to collect money and produce a product (albeit with a political statement). It wasn't like Proctor and Gamble suddenly decided to get into politics. That is the canard that a number of posters here (and elsewhere) keep trying to throw into the mix, it is the very definition of red herring.

Corporations are an excellent vehicle to collect money via shareholders and even reimburse those shareholders after any number of exit events. Unlike proprietorships, corporations have continuity after the demise of the founders. What a lot of people here seem to be confused about are EXISTING successful corporations (like P&G) versus up-and-coming corporations that haven't achieved that success (yet), think Google in 1999. Incorporation literally means "to put body (flesh) on". A corporation is just like a human in that it can have rights and responsibilities. The difference in structure (versus a proprietorship) is that individual shareholders aren't obligated beyond losing their investments, the "corporate veil". The other difference is that the corporation is still RUN by human beings, and (theoretically at least) via group decision making can come up with superior stratagems versus an individual.

I think your last sentence says a LOT. Corporations are still run by people who quite often do NOT make political decisions that are best to allow the corporation to thrive but are using the corporation for promotion of the PERSONAL agenda aka Soros and Lewis. That can happen in ANY corporation large or small and there isn't much the opponents can do other than to get other corporations to donate money for their side.. Thus, it's still all about the money. The money just comes from a different source. IMHO, and media outlet and it's parent companies are NOT allowed to make political contributions unless they give exactly equal to both sides.

I seem to recall it's already a law that foreign entities cannot contribute to a US election candidate (but the Chinese CLEARLY did to Clinton..yea they sent SOME back but not all) but it's not enforced unless someone brings it up and of course bringing it up is "negative campaign" or "personal attackes".

That's twice the MSM have been quoted as pro-Obama. Clear sign of poster bias, since Fox News seems to have been just as biased for the Republican candidates.

Let's be fair. The MSM can be bought, just as candidates can be bought, AND as the previous other poster said, we need to remove money from the system without removing money as speech.

Ideas? Isn't bribery still a legal concept?

I had nothing that far-fetched in mind, Gobbet

There were some limits on corporate advertiing before elections and otherwise that have been wiped away by the ruling. It is my understanding that corporations will be able to spend unlimited amounts on political advertising without any disclosure of who is funding the ads right up to election day.

One proposal to correct that that I heard mentioned was to require the CEOs of any company funding such ads to identify themselves and say they approve of the ad, like you see on the politician ads.

My point was that now corporations can influence the democratic process much more than many believe is healthy, and more now than previously. I would submit that this oil spill and the financial meltdown are two clear indicators of that.

Mowtownman: Yes, the ruling could allow foreign money into the process since most big corporations are multinational. This is another area where congress can enact fixes. And yes, the unions would have the same rights, but the labor movement in the US is but a shadow of what it used to be, and cannot compete with big business in terms of resources. The decline of unions IMO is another indiactor that corporations have far too much sway over lawmakers. Unions helped build the middle class and end a nightmarish work place. Now, kids in their 20s come back home to live because the only jobs they can get don't pay enough to live on let alone support a family. If they could get union jobs, that would not be happening. Without unions, wrokers have no bargaining power.

Look at wages over the last 40 years. They have declined (right along with union membership) while profits and prductivity have skyrocketed. Manangment/SHs have pocketed all of it. To me, the disparity of wealth in this country is a clear sign we need more unions, not less. Just my opionion, of course, motownman. I know you have an equally valid opinion that takes a contrary view. And I agree unions have their problems, but believe the good far outweighs the bad.

but now wandering ...way off topic.

Decline of Unions? Yes, but overall employment in skilled trades and manufacturing has declined as well. Manufacturing has been sent 90% overseas for cheaper labor. But who or what made the labor here unaffordable and pushed companies to cheaper markets.

Unions were an excellent concept when they protected the rights of the workers, but that evolved to the workers having ALL the rights and the employer NONE. That might not have been the intent of the everyday worker but they elected people to represent them that negotiated that way.

Unions are still a HUGE political force in the elections as many teachers, Government employees, pilots, police, firefighters, construction workers and others are unionized esp. in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and West Coast.

I think you vastly underestimate unions, as they exacted some pretty good concessions in the Obama Health Care Plan..you don't do that if you are a non-player even if you do vote Democrat.

I fully agree with Right to Work laws as the best person should get the job, not the one in the Union who is not worth a crap.

Look at the downfall of GM, Chrysler and almost Ford..it was due to union benefits and retirement rules that couldn't (or wouldn't) be adjusted to the economic conditions. The killed the goose that laid the Golden Egg as they wanted more eggs then the goose could lay.

A lot of skyrocketing productivity is due to the introduction of technology and automation such as robots.

Hourly wages have gone UP in the last 40 yrs. In real, inflation adjusted terms they probably haven't but neither have other salaries in a lot of fields.

Look at things logically and based on the economics not on the emotions and the picture changes.

You have a great ability to rationalize things. You seem to dodge the point, though.

"Hourly wages have gone UP in the last 40 yrs. In real, inflation adjusted terms they probably haven't but neither have other salaries in a lot of fields."

Wages have declined when adjusted for inflation. When you put a chart of profits next to one of wages for that time period (and perhaps also the increase in wealth of the top 5%), it is enough to make you sick. It's as bad now as it was in the 1920s, and getting worse. Those are the facts, not my emotions.

Anyway, out of deference to the hosts, I think it's time to end this off-topic thread, so if you reply, forgive me if I don't respond.

The only economics that matter are the overall distribution of wealth. The wealth in this nation has rapidly moved into the hands of fewer and fewer. Wealth is power.

I really appreciate the level of thought that went in to the replies this off-topic topic elicited. I honestly wasn't expecting it, and am grateful to you all for proving me wrong... ...About the quality of conversation to expect here, not my deeply held convictions.

Damn it all, let's talk about drill bits some more...

"Decline of Unions? Yes, but overall employment in skilled trades and manufacturing has declined as well. Manufacturing has been sent 90% overseas for cheaper labor. But who or what made the labor here unaffordable and pushed companies to cheaper markets."

Maybe, just maybe you are correct. I don't remember the price of Levi's going down in price after being outsourced to Egypt and other parts of the globe. The prices didn't drop when they cut the number of belt loops from seven to five either. I'm interested in your answer.

Maytag washer and dryers didn't go down in price after moving to Mexico.

If unions were the cause and the labor rates were exchanged for rates of ten percent or less what happend to the prices. Loking at things logically a person should be able to buy Levi's for $3.00.

You left out air travel that's so much safer today than twenty years ago. This goes hand in hand with the screech and whine of how the US Govt should have been watching BP more closely.

"For the first 12 hours on July 5 (midnight to noon) ... 28.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared."

I'm sure, as with the oil statistics, these numbers pale in comparison to US daily usage, but this gas flaring still seems stupendous in terms of the sheer amounts of precious fossil fuels being wasted (and converted to greenhouse gases to boot). Is it really negative EROI or dollar ROI to collect and transport this gas without direct pipelines to liquification facilities? With all of these billions in profits available for engineering and R&D do oil companies really lack the technological ability to compress natural gas to at least some extent on ships and transport it the few dozen miles to standard facilities? It's depressing!

It wouldn't surprise me if we calculated all the wells in the world, and found we flared more gas than we tanked.

I'm very curious how much greenhouse gasses are contributed by flaring globally.

Drastically reducing flaring might be much easier that some of the other fixes.

Flaring CH4, and thus converting to CO2, is superior to releasing CH4 into the atmosphere because of the 16x GHG effect of methane versus CO2.

In other words, it's far better to burn NG than to release it into the atmosphere. This is not debated, just a fact.

Of course, even better would be to capture and use it.

I wasn't thinking of releasing the CH4. I was thinking of prohibiting producing (not exploration) flaring or releasing. It might change the sequence by which wells were developed as some were delayed until capture was cost effective but they would all get developed in the end.

Flaring CH4, and thus converting to CO2, is superior to releasing CH4 into the atmosphere because of the 16x GHG effect of methane versus CO2.

In other words, it's far better to burn NG than to release it into the atmosphere. This is not debated, just a fact.

Of course, even better would be to capture and use it.

Does it matter how much CO2 is produced from CH4 via flaring? I understand that methane has a greater (~16x) GHG effect than carbon dioxide. And, while I'm no chemist, I assume that the single carbon atom in the CH4 is transformed into the single carbon in the CO2. So it appears to be a 1-to-1 conversion and thus a ~16x reduction in GHG effect. Can someone confirm this?

Of course, it would be better to put the released heat to good work. Are there any places where the flaring is put to any useful work?

Yes it is 1:1 ratio neglecting the water (two molecules) that is also produced.

As was previously described capturing and using the gas requires significant capital investment. I imagine that in the past this was not practical because of low oil prices. As oil prices go up it should become more attractive to capture the methane.

"Of course, it would be better to put the released heat to good work. Are there any places where the flaring is put to any useful work?"

I seem to recall a bad incident not too long ago where a school blew up that was using something like this for heat. I can't recall if it was NG or some by-product of another process.

New London, Texas
March 18, 1937

Heating with un-scented natural gas.


I seem to recall a bad incident not too long ago

Really, how old are you GLurker? It only happened in 1937, :^)

New London(Texas) School explosion

This was the catalyst which started artificial odor to be added.

I seem to remember that one of the Simmons presentations, posted around a couple of years ago, stated something along the lines of "half the natural gas ever extracted from the earth's crust has been flared off"

....i.e. cases where the infrastructure didn't exist to collect and sell the gaseous product. If I'm not mistaken this routine flare-off is still the case in places such as Nigeria, Angola etc.

Regards Chris

When they connect the FPSO's they will collect all oil & gas for transport. The ships they are using now don't have that capability.

e3 -- FPSO's don't make LNG. They just separate the NG from the oil and flare it. The example I gave was just that: an FSOP flaring 25 million cu ft per day off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. Fortunately Marathon Oil did have a NG reserve large enough to justify a LNG plant and were shipping their product to the EU.

Perhaps my mistake here. The Helix Producer can process 30,000 BOPD (oil), 50,000 BWPD (produced water), and 70 MMSCFD (gas). It has gas compression to support a gas export pipeline connection, if one is available.

And there's the equally sad part of the answer e3...no pipelines close enough to tie into in a reasonable time frame.

In the absence of gas export facilities most FPSO's compress then reinject the gas into the reservoir. Obviously there is no injection well available at this location, so flaring is the only reasonable option.

Even if there was a handy FLNG (floating LNG) vessel available, it and it's shuttle tankers in addition to the existing surface vessels on site would present such a frightening risk profile that it would not be allowed.

ABR -- The technology to compress NG to LNG is decades old. In many cases it's not EROI that's the problem. It's that it would be a money losing proposition. The plant needed to produce LNG is very expensive and takes years to recover the initial investment. LNG production requires a huge reserve in order to make a profit. When I was working off the west coast of Africa I watched 25 million cu ft of NG flared every day. At even $4/mcf that's $100,000/day or $36 million per year. And this went on for many years. If it had been profitable the operator would have converted it to LNG but it wasn't. And that flared NG was just a small fraction of the NG flared in the region. I was also insight of offshore Nigeria and could see dozens of similar flares every night. Yes...a very depressing sight.

There are multiple research efforts coming to fruition to convert the NG to liquid fuels on a small scale - stranded gas recovery. I've read about several prototype Fischer-Tropsch systems and a couple of dimethyl ether systems (Chinese and Japanese). The technical challenges seem to be field maintainability.

Fischer-Tropsch requires temperatures around 300C and 60bar pressure plus lots of water and large reactor vessels. Then the outputs have to be sent for further refining via truck/rail/pipeline adding costs or I suppose one could build a refinery nearby tailored to take in F-T products. To supply a 20K bbl/day F-T plant with NG feedstock would take about 150MMcf of gas per day, and you'd need several 20K plants to equal the output of a mid-sized "traditional" refinery. While the F-T process is proven and has been fine tuned so that it works great (Sasol in South Africa is the #1 user of the process) if there is any other way to get the NG to market it the end result is more positive. Many places in the Arab world such as Qatar and in SE Asia (Malaysia) where they have more gas than they know what to do with are building LNG plants not F-T plants which should tell you something about the economics of the process. I hate to see NG going to waste via flaring but that's about all that can be done in many cases due to current economics.

I don't have the link but a recent paper(Energy Conversion and Management 50 (2009) 855–876) put the well to wheel break even for gas to liquid FT synthesis at $35/bbl using existing plant data.

GTL FT does not need a lot of water, pressures are up to 25bar in a slurry reactor and the vessel size is modest because of the liquid to liquid heat transfer. Sasol type fixed bed reactors are large to control heat dissipation (highly exothermic). The crude waxes do not have to be cracked on site but shipped to a central refinery.

LNG plants are cost effective at very large scale with large fields nearby to sustain them. The small scale FT and DME plants are intended for isolated stranded gas. LNG does not scale down as efficiently. Economically, GTL works, the problems are technical. A standardized plant that is relative low maintenance in the field.

If that $35bbl figure is true then someone would be building a dozen. If they can produce volume at that price then someone is going to make a LOT of money as they can get market price that is based on $80bbl crude the refineries are using, or they can undercut and grab market either supplying refiners or selling finished products (as I understand some of the FT processes can produce pretty good diesel). I'm wondering if some of the big NG companies should be looking into building these in the shale gas areas of the US as they can get more for the NG by doing GTL than putting it in the pipelines at $4.50 MMbtu.

I can't find the reference, but I recently read that a coal or gas to liquid plant is about a 30-50% premium over a standard crude refinery. The problem in the US is that it is all but impossible to get permits for a new refinery. Even small field units would require an enormous permitting effort for each site.

Several companies are working on deployable skid mounted FT and DME plants. Like anything else, raising capital to reap the potential profits is the hard part. With all of the new finance "reform", it is all the more difficult. The fact that they can only be deployed in non-US or non-EU areas increases the risk and capital cost.

3 million tonnes a year was the final out put before they started bombing the place.

thats what i know, to boored to look

i mean the place in now chechoslowakia, argh check ? where they made the fisher trop reaktion industrial.

From the first time I saw photos of the ng flaring as a kid it seemed like a terrible waste.

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750'"

LNG only requires about 2% of the energy in the NG to covert it to LNG. The equipment is not 100% efficient, so there is an entropy tax that probably makes that closer to 4%-5%.. Therefore, the economics of LNG is purely a matter of equipment.

A barge with LNG equip. could park next any large source of off shore NG and make LNG out of it, then transfer it to an LNG tanker.
But at $4/mcf its probably not worth it.

dd -- Not my area by a long shot but the last time I saw the price tag on an LNG train it was around $2.5 billion. No idea how small you could design a train and still get the proper results. But I'll also point out that some of those huge NG fields in the Persian Gulf are being run thru LNG trains. The reports say it costs about $3.50/mcf to convert and ship the LNG to the States or the EU. But that doesn't include any revenue to pay back the billions spent on building the plants.

A slightly different take on the EROI issue in re. liquifaction vs. flaring NG from deep ocean oil wells.

The fact that such flaring is allowed is an example of a hidden government subsidy of oil production. There should be a regulation that all pollution associated with an extractive process be captured and dealt with as part of the production operation, but there isn't such a regulation because --- we are addicted to oil.

The science exists, the technology either exists or can be developed (IF there were some way to pay the development costs.) But we lack, as a society, a way to decide and execute. Traditional thinking about social good tends to assign deciding and executing on issues like this to the sovereign. Here, the people are sovereign. It's not going to happen because our belief system won't allow it.

By the time our belief system changes the resource/pollution will be gone, so it is likely that it will never happen even if our belief system changes.

geek -- Actually the MMS only allows limited NG flaring during tests. No production NG is flared in our OCS. OTOH good luck trying to convince the Nigerian or EG gov't to put a stop to the pollution. The example I gave for the 25 million cu ft/day of NG flared off Equatorial Guinea: the operator offered to lay a pipeline at its own expense and give the NG to the people for free. The govt turned it down. The govt didn't want to spend the money for a local distribution system. Just one more part of the very sad EG story: one of the richest nations per capita in the world and 90% live in poverty.

Around '99 I contracted as a scheduler with a oil company working on a front end, analysis project for development of a gas gathering, gas compression, and gas plant addition to an existing Nigerian facility in that area, but it was put on the back burner due the the company having been caught trying to bribe their way around the Nigerian Oil/Gas ministry. I tried to explain to them that the project was not going to get approval after the incident but it took them another 3 months after we didn't get the first client approval before they understood that. Did not keep track of what happened to the project after that, I was just glad to get off the project. I find it boring to be at work with no real progress so I was ready to go, plus the project team was driving me nuts, they wouldn't get their work done on time and when asked for when they would complete an activity they were wanting me to "leave the original dates" ... sheesh, after a half dozen times trying to explain that since they did not own a working time machine they could not plan to complete work in the past I was ready to pull my hair out, that and that they wanted me to remove all the logic out of the schedule because "if you keep the logic in there it won't meet the end date"! Last time I agreed to work directly for what I would usually refer to as a "client".

Not to imply that your comment about the political situation in Nigeria is wrong in any way, I got to personally see a smaller scale of that in Panama in '58-62 time frame. Just to mention that at least at that time they seemed to finally be considering doing something about gas collection, flaring has been a long time problem there.

rockman i bet u know it, in us waters or in european waters uyou got diffrent rules to countrys whos yearly in come is a fraction of the profits of a big oil company, there the companies simply buy the law

Sad but true HK. I've had the misfortune to see life sold very cheaply at times.

"Yes...a very depressing sight"

The picture you paint is also depressing. Perhaps a licence to produce hydrocarbon energy should also include a proviso not to waste hydrocarbon energy?

What you describe makes a total mockery of all the financial incentives to produce alternative energy when we just treat the energy bearing by products of an oil well as loss making garbage that have to be disposed of as cheaply as possible.

Doesn't make sense, alternative energy attracts price premiums, flaring off natural gas does not attract penalties.

In the mid to late 1970s, during our last war on energy, I had a Petroleum Engineering consulting company in Denver. One of the problems we worked on was how to develop gas discoveries that were not near an existing pipeline -- a classic chicken and egg problem. The reserves could not be adequately determined without development drilling, and development drilling could not be economically justified without a market for the gas.
One interesting idea was the potential use of a patented Mobil catalyst to make gasoline from methanol, which itself can be made from methane using steam reforming combined with a shift reaction (old technology). The basic idea was to make a product that could be trucked to market, thereby reducing the economic risk, even if the revenue did not cover all of the development cost. This process was actually implemented in New Zealand, as described in http://nzic.org.nz/ChemProcesses/energy/7D.pdf.
For the purposes of avoiding the flaring of natural gas from offshore production, it would not be necessary to refine the methanol and convert it to gasoline at the production site -- the crude methanol could be shipped to an onshore location for chemical feedstock or conversion to gasoline. Of course, economics would need to be carefully analyzed. But it may be much cheaper than some of the alternatives to fossil energy, and useful during the transition from fossil to other forms of energy.

I have always wondered why it is not a simple matter to filter and compress the methane. High pressure air compressors are not all that expensive and one wonders why nat gas would be all that different. Obviously the denser LNG would be more convenient and economical to handle but one would assume going the extra step to liquify the gas is where the expenditures become exponential. Still wondering.

sly -- It is a simple matter to do it. Just expensive. BTW...in general it's a lot more expensive to compress air than NG. I've done both in the oil patch. Think about the difference between compressing NG that comes in at 800 pis vs. air coming in at 14 psi. Takes a lot more horse to compress that air.

liquification needs a lot of energy not liquified you need big pipes , both expensive. and you need a market. which you dont have if you dont have a supply. burn baby burn

who cares about global warming ? just the pussies to cheap to buy a survivalst retreat in the rockies

We-ell, Hauke, I was just reading an interview with a biology/earth sciences prof who's written a book about rising sea levels and their consequences (say goodbye to most of our agricultural land, starting with the deltas where rice grows). The interview ends,

How do you cope with doing this incredibly depressing research? Do you despair?

Here’s what I’ve lately decided: I’m the little kid in “The Sixth Sense” who sees the dead people. I’m getting really sick of being this Cassandra. I mean, it’s kind of miserable. I’ve got a 13-year-old boy and you go through these scenarios like you as I have done and it’s pretty upsetting. But on the other hand I try to instill in him that wherever there’s challenges, there are opportunities. I tell my kid right now what you can do to save America is to get the best possible education he can and get political.

We cannot have another generation of apathetic people. We baby boomers, of which I’m one, really helped screw up this world.

Whoa there, Kemo Sabe! Maybe we did help the screwing-up, BUT seems to me we Boomers (at least some of us) were also the first to recognize the problems of excess. And I hardly suspect that the generation after us – all of whom seem to have gone into investment banking (or wanted to) – has the solution either.

Are you joking?

Boomers, and their parents, despite being the self-anointed "greatest generation ever" are individually great people, but are the generations who in American history will go down as having left us future generations with the largest debt and financial obligations in the history of the world. It is the political leaders of the boomer and boomer-parent generations who have partied like animals and left the rest of us with the tab. "Let's just defer this payment, let's ignore this liability, let's not fund this program now..."

What's laughable in today's news about Federal debt and deficits is that most of those already ominous numbers ignore the looming mostly unseen icebergs of unfunded liabilities in the form of Medicare, Social Security and various other programs. The news is no better at the State level.

It is the Boomer aged investment bankers in control who have made the mess we are in, not the young pukes they hired to sell their toxic CDOs.

Nah. This is not the first time the US has had debt problems. Post WWII the national debt as a percentage of GDP was twice what it is now and we had marginal taxation rates on individuals over 90%. During the Panic of 1893 the US was so bad off the US gold reserve levels were effectively zero and President Cleveland had to borrow gold from JP Morgan to support the gold standard.

There are similar other instances in the history of the US. If you back to the late 18th century you will even find a case of hyperinflation vis a vis the Continental. Not to belittle the idea that we have debt problems - we certainly do. But it isn't the first time, nor is it the worst.

unfunded liabilities in the form of Medicare, Social Security and various other programs

Sorry to spoil your rant, but Medicare and Social Security are in fact funded, and if they were properly tied to income increases, we wouldn't have politicians pushing the 'unfunded liability' lie.
(We Boomers have been paying into these for decades, paying for our parents and grandparents in their old age as well as providing funding for our own and yours, and you're complaining about us being the cause of problems?)

Thank you for catching that. I have been paying for my social security for decades. So has everyone else. It will continue to fund itself (from SS dedicated funds paid by individuals) for decades without significant problems. It needs minor adjustment to remain solvent for well into the future.

What people mean when they say social security is broken is that while social sercuity has brought in a large surplus of funds, instead of being put into Al Gore's lock box, the govt. has spent that money on things like war and massive tax cuts for the very wealthy. In place of the money we paid in, the govt. issued bonds that will have to be paid back in the future when SS funds coming in are not sufficient to pay benefits going out.

It is paying those bonds back that the disingenuous alarmists are referring to when they claim social security is broke (it ain't).

The alarmists want the gov. to default on the bonds, or not have to pay them back, meaning all that money folks paid into social security will have been swiped and used to pay for things like wars and tax cuts for the super wealthy.

Don't fall for the scary lies. They just want to steal your money. Suggest they cut the bloated and ridiculous military budget instead. Then you're really hear the screams. That pipeline of corporate welfare is sacrosanct!

Hauke: express any opinion you like, but please choose less offensive language.

Just to note that the Mobil ZSM-5 process was only viable courtesy of the NZ government's desire for 50% imported fuels substitution, very cheap natural gas, and also low global methanol prices. Once the global methanol price went up, it was more viable just to sell the methanol globally and purchase gasoline or crude oil on global markets, so the gasoline production facility was shut down ( late 1990s? ).

In 2004, the two methanol trains were also mothballed as the feed gas price was increased and global methanol prices were low, but in 2008 ( when the global MeOH price reached $450/tonne ), one train was restarted.

Not sure if it's still working. Methanex also has a much smaller standalone MeOH plant nearby at Kapuni, and can switch production depending on global prices.

It's also worth noting that the Gas-to-gasoline process is inherently very wasteful of the natural gas's energy, so an intense desire for a drop-in liquid transport fuel is also required. The fact that there hasn't been a rush to build more zeolite Gas-to-Gasoline plants elsewhere probably accurately reflects their economic viability.

because nigira can´t afford the infrastructure to use ng, they cut trees, this is perversion pure

Actually it is because Nigeria is too corrupt build the infrastructure. They have plenty of oil money but no wish to waste it on anything that could benefit the citizens when its so much easier to put in a Swiss bank account.

Given the cost of LNG infrastucture maybe compressed or absorbed natural gas would be an option to consider? Sure that infrastructure is not in place now to store the gas being flared but it seems like a missed oppurtunity. Given the pressure of the gas coming out of the pipeline it does not seem like compressing the gas would be problematic. ANG is stored only at 70-80psi and requires much less cost to compress than CNG if that is the issue. I'm curious if a ship can be designed to store and refine the gas that typically flared, and then run the production rigs in a field on that gas, or ship it to a NG pipeline.

For the first 12 hours on July 5 (midnight to noon) ... 28.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Since the Q4000 came online they have averaged about 52 million cf/day flared. For the past 5 days is been about 57 million cf/day.

57 million cf/d is minor in worldwide terms. Recent data seems hard to find but using 2007 data it is 3.5% of what Nigeria flares every day, 1.2% of what Russia flares and about 0.6% of the gas flared by the top 9 countries.


Carbon emissions from consumption AND flaring of natural can be found on a couple spreadsheets at http://www.eia.doe.gov/iea/ng.html. Russia shows the same emissions for both the consumption and the consumption plus flaring spreadsheets so they don't always separate flaring out.

All these figures are in million metric tons of CO2 (mmt) from 2006.

The USA shows 24.4 mmt from flaring (2.1%) vs 1,163 mmt from using natural gas.

Nigeria shows 40.6 mmt from flaring (65.5%) vs 21.4 mmt from using natural gas.

The totals show that at least 196 mmt are produced by flaring worldwide but as that doesn't include Russia it is way low.

Macondo History Before the Blowout, author's bottom line is that human error was the cause.


Interesting read. I have a question about this statement:

(cement plugs) This is done by running drillpipe and
tubing to several different depths and spotting cement plugs. Prior to doing this, it was
necessary to replace the oil based drilling mud with sea water, since the drilling mud
would contaminate the cement."

Is this true? If it is necessary to replace the "mud" with sea water, is it done for the length of the drill string? and if so how do they prevent a "blow out" with a well that was already having difficulties being controlled with mud"?

From "popular press" accounts, I go the impression that the BP engineer decided to replace the mud with sea water because it was cheaper and faster way to plug the well.

SHV -- Obviously I can't answer why BP chose to displace the OBM. But I'll offer that I would never leave OBM in a well I was temp abandoning. Eventually I would re-enter such a well to complete. OMG left in the csg will alter over time due to the temperature. It can become very difficult/expensive to remove as required before the completion process. A short while ago I re-entered a well temp abandoned by another operator. Instead of taking a day and $15,000 to get the OBM out it took 2 weeks and $500,000. And this was on a barge rig in S La. and not a much more expensive DW rig. But I would not have displaced with sea water. It would have been a simple and relatively cheap matter to increase the weight of the seawater by adding sack salt. Such heavy brines are routinely used to keep back pressure of a well during the completion stage. The brine can be formulated to exactly match the mud weight used to control the well. Had be BP done this the well would not have kicked even if there were no cmt in the csg let alone a failed cmt job.

So what would be the reasons they would not have done this safe... and... extremely cheap step?

Just a guess Will: they didn't want to take the rig time to make the brine combined with their erroneous conclusion that they were safe from cmt failure.


That is the most sobering post in the thousands of words expended here.

It's hard to wrap my mind around it.

They had a $600 million dollar rig, hundreds of millions of dollars sunk in project expense, a history of trouble with this well, less than perfect pressure tests...

... and they toss the baby, so to speak, for a few thousand pounds of salt, and the time to inject it?

Seriously... how much time does this salt trick usually take?

Will -- I really hope I'm misinterpreting the data we've seen. Maybe there was something going on we're not aware of that would change my speculations significantly. Otherwise this incident may stand well above all other unnecessary accidents in history of the world.

I can only speculate on the time but if they had extra tank space they could have made up the brine while they were taking care of other business. In fact the last time I had to displace with brine I didn't even bother to mix it on location: had it delivered ready to go. They could have had a boat deliver the brine to rig ready to go. Would have cost $10's of thousand but no real amount of rig time. Guess that doesn't make you feel better to know that.

And I really do hope my speculations are completely wrong. If not this will prove to be a black mark against the industry for many, many years IMO. Operators could argue that we will improve the technology. But how do you effectively argue that we can change human nature?

Unless an inhibitor is added to keep the salt (you do mean NaCl aka table salt, right?) in suspension, past a certain point the salt will precipitate out if mud stops circulating which means you might accidentally plug your well with salt mud. At room temperature 100 grams of pure water can dissolve no more than 35.92 grams of Salt to form a stable saturated solution. or simply stated 3 parts water to 1 part salt. Just eyballing equal volumes of a gallon of water and a bag of salt I'd guess you could get about 7lb of salt to stay dissolved in a gallon of water giving about a 15ppg salt brine "mud".

NASA -- There are a variety of salts (the generic concept) used in completion fluids. Bromine is a common one. Designing the right formula is critical. Wouldn't add the salt to the mud. Would make a clear fluid with the right salt. That's exactly why they displace mud with a spacer and then run a clean completion fluid in the hole: to avoid plugging/reservoir damage issues. In fact, most clear brines are run thru extremely fine screens to remove particulate matter not even visible to the human eye. So when I say a clean fluid I'm talking immaculate in many cases. Completion fluid is another one of those critical art forms in the oil patch most outsiders never hear about. Not very sexy but very critical. There have been many very good wells turned to crap by a bad completion design.

BTW -- When BP eventually got back on the well to complete they would have had to run a heavy completion fluid in the csg before perforating the zone. This is a critical step regardless of when it's done. But a week ago someone pulled up MMS regs that clearly required BP to leave fluid of sufficient weight in the temp abandoned well that would exert a bottom hole pressure greater than the 11,900 psi measure in the reservoir. Sea water doesn't even come close to meeting that requirement. Maybe BP received an exemption from this rule or the rule had been suspended since it was published. If not then BP is on record for having violated one of the most critical safety protocols establish by the MMS.


After all the showboating on Capital Hill, the Air Force One flights to and from GOM, Steven Chu and the brain-trust... it comes down to:

...a week ago someone pulled up MMS regs that clearly required BP to leave fluid of sufficient weight in the temp abandoned well that would exert a bottom hole pressure greater than the 11,900 psi measure in the reservoir. Sea water doesn't even come close to meeting that requirement.

Will -- Our legal eagle cohort here, syn, pulled that reg up.

SYN -- you find any further clarification on that reg?

Hey, Rockman. No. nothing beyond where we left it last time. Here it is again. And unfortunately, I have to run now. But I'm still very interested in the regs, including whether anyone follws them.

250.1721 If I temporarily abandon a well that I plan to re-enter, what must I do?

You may temporarily abandon a well when it is necessary for proper development and production of a lease. To temporarily abandon a well, you must do all of the following:

(a) Submit form MMS–124, Application for Permit to Modify, and the applicable information required by §250.1712 to the appropriate District Manager and receive approval;

(b) Adhere to the plugging and testing requirements for permanently plugged wells listed in the table in §250.1715, except for §250.1715 (a)(8). You do not need to sever the casings, remove the wellhead, or clear the site;


§ 250.1715 How must I permanently plug a well?

(a) You must permanently plug wells according to the table in this section. The District Manager may require additional well plugs as necessary.


(9)If you Fluid left in the hole,
Then you must use a fluid in the intervals between the plugs that is dense enough to exert a hydrostatic pressure that is greater than the formation pressures in the intervals.


EDIT: Changed (8) to (9) to correct typo.

One thing I as a rookie was uncertain of was the precise meaning of this phrase:

"the formation pressures in the intervals"

How will that differ from the formation pressure?

syn -- just a guess but even a column of oil/NG has some hydrostatic head. Obviously it's tiny for pure NG. An oil column, say extending 10,000' above the reservoir, would have a head of, let's say 2,000 psi. So if reservoir pressure is 10,000 psi and you're setting a plug 10,000' above the resevoir the fluid would only need be the equivalent of 8,000 psi (10,000 psi - 2,000 psi). But that doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.

Must have been written by a damn lawyer!

I figured that was the distinction, but dumb questions are a lawyer's best friend. I learn more from my dumb questions than I do all the others put together.

You raised the point before that they may not have even been able to change out some of the mud with that casing design.

Getting back to my prior question, do operators even bother to follow the regs? It sure does not seem like it based on BP's conduct. The regs on monitoring mud were also violated. Same with the pressure tests. There may be something affecting the casing design as well, based on my first read of the regs. And displacing the mud in the riser obviously did too.

I think your conclusion that BP so far is not in the chain of causation is wrong, but no time at the moment to show how.

syn -- I get what you mean about chain of causation (freakin' lawyer speak!). But I'm very big on personal responsibility. I've seen very good company men run off for not following foolish orders. I've lost a contact or two myself. Missing a big paycheck is painful. I learned that first hand driving a Yellow cab around Houston during the 80's bust. But I truly believe there is a special place in hell for any hand who risks someone's life to make a payday/bonus. I catch someone doing that on any of my wells I can promise at least one of us is going to have to be carried off that rig (probably me...I wasn't much a scrapper even in my youth). For me it's real simple: there are some situations you cannot let stand. I have my own mental list of hands that will never work for me. And a shorter list of hands I'll go way out of my way to make sure they never get another gig.

A tad emotional issue for me...sorry.

RM, I certainly appreciate and have great respect for your experience and knowledge, and your views on personal responsibility especially. But I do not buy that these guys just let the whole rig blow up like that due to stupidity, laziness, distraction, etc. It does not add up.

We still don't have all of the info and we have not heard from some key witnesses.

You mentioned that they could have done the top plug with the mud still in the riser. It would be quicker to displace the mud first, though, wouldn't it, since they were gettting ready to break down and move. Would they have had to wait for the cement to set before displacing the riser if they waited until after poruing the plug?

The matter of the pressure tests is a big one, too. Did BP tell them to go forward despite the pressure test results? I thought that would be a BP call to make.

And has it been fully established exactly what was going on with monitoring the returns? I've heard conflicting accounts. How could they monitor if the mud was being off-loaded? They had a guy out there cleaning the tanks that same day, I believe. Wouldn't it have been safer to off-load the mud after they set the top plug? And the BP investigation notes that the mud loggers were never informed that off-loading stopped at about 5:00 p.m. What is the significance of that? Does it mean that if they had been told, they would have beem monitoring after that, but were not?

Too many questions to answer. (So don't waste your time on more than one!). I'm just glad you're here to answer so many of them, Rockman, even my dumb ones. Thank you, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable learning experience.

syn - Not arguing that BP didn't set the nightmare in motion by decades of inbreed complacency. But remember my primary bitch: there may be a dozens excuses the management on the rig to explain why they did what they did. But they have to answer one question honestly: would they have done everything the same if they had absolute control. If the answer is yes then they're admitting their thought processes were no better than BP. Would you give them a pass then? And if they answer no...BP coerced them into procedures they felt were dangerous. So now they admit the knew they were taking chances with the rig and the lives of the crew. And they sat on their collective asses and didn't watch for signs of trouble they now say they expected. Do you give them a pass on that?

See my point: the rig managers only have two stories. They did what they did because they thought it was correct and thus cast themselves as incompetent as you paint BP. Or they knew BP's procedures were dangerous and then sat back, drank coffee/caught a nap and didn't look out for the safety of their hands.

There you go counselor: pretend you’re the company man. Pick your defense.

Rockman, Syncro:

This testimony by Mark Hafle BP Drilling Engineer has some discussion of the regulatory relationship. You may have already read this. Apologies if it is redundant.


Maybe someday someone will ask Frank Patton at MMS about this:


Was the request rubber stamped without at least doing some calculations? The deeper surface plug would have determined the seawater displacement depth in my opinion.

Do the words "must", "shall" and "may" in those oil drilling regulations mean the same things that they do in my road building regulations? Because in my industry, "must" means "thou shalt do this or else", while "shall" means "you should do this", and "may" means "you can do this if you want to".

BP has allegedly stated that some regs were not followed because MMS never told BP that they had to abide by them.

snake --treid that with a state trooper once. Told him I never read a law sayng I had to obey the speed limit signs.

Yep...he didn't buy it either.

(9)If you have fluid left in the hole - Then you must use a fluid in the intervals between the plugs that is dense enough to exert a hydrostatic pressure that is greater than the formation pressures in the intervals.

As a non-lawyer, non-driller after reading items (1) through (8) I could interpret that to refer to a hole with no cement plugs. If so then (9) would not be applicable to the BP well.

And I do know of many cases on shallow, low pressure onshore wells where they have done just that for a few months before completing. Usually the fluid was water as the pressure wouldn't even reach the surface.

Wel damn! thx for that comment. I had no clue that you could do that with brine.

So something that was making sense on the surface - not leaving OBM in the hole by displacing to seawater - (albiet in a manner that ended up being unsafe), didn't even make sense in the base case! They coulda done it differently and a LOT more safely.

Edited to clarify..

toll -- If the reg is still in effect the only out BP might have is to show documentation that they had plans to displace the sea water with a heavier fluid. But i don't think I'll hold my breath waiting on that.

Are there any issues of corrosion if these brines are left in the well for a long period of time?


not - there's a process called "pickling" the engineers do on tubing/csg to help fight corrosion. Don't know the details but there's always going to be corrosion to some degree.

The exact timeline on what happened is still unknown. With the drill crew dead along with the two mud engineers- leaves the BP Company men and Mudloggers to tell the tale. One BP company man pleads the fifth and another is unavailable due to "health" reasons- leaving the mudlogger(s). I have not seen their statements.

Exactly what time awareness of the well flowing and who determined that, will be very important to understanding the event. The Transocean Well Control procedures need to be released to the public so as to understand the options available to the crew in the situation they faced.

It remains interesting to me that the person Jimmy Harrell specifically testified should have been monitoring the mud returns survived the explosion but did not testify when scheduled. I have not seen any reason reported.

Also testimony of OIM Jimmy Harrell, Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell and Subsea Supervisor Chris Pleasant was that there was disagreement about the negative pressure test meaning amongst Transocean personnel at first. In the end, and after discussions and a subsequent pressure test, the explanation put forward by Transocean's Jason Anderson of "U-tubing" was accepted as correct by all concerned (Transocean and BP) according to Transocean testimony. It may also be of note here that Anderson was considered one of Transocean's top well control experts. In fact Miles Ezell went further and described him as the most qualified person on the rig to analyse the situation. Presumably he included BP personnel in that assessment.

Unfortunately we don't have any BP testimony and Anderson sadly can't give his version of events.

I will start going through the transcripts of the hearing in Kenner:


Haven't had a chance to read the full transcripts (couldn't see them last time I looked) so was working from memory and video replay but here's a segment from Chris Pleasant from the link you posted and refers to the first negative pressure test discussion.

By that time Wyman worked 6:00 a.m.

2 to 6:00 p.m. By that time his relief comes

3 up, which is Jason Anderson, which is a

4 toolpusher as well. So, you know, just

5 listening to them talk, you know, Jason he was

6 telling Wyman the same thing that -- that it

7 U-tubed. And Wyman, you know, he was still

8 like he couldn't believe that it U-tubed back

9 out the hole, you know. But, you know, I

10 guess we never really had a clear

11 understanding where the fluid went to.

This period covers the shift change between Toolpushers Wyman Wheeler and Jason Anderson. Wheeler initially believed there was a problem but Anderson believed it "U-tubed" according to Pleasant's testimony.

And here's Ezell's account of his last conversation with Anderson at 9:20pm

1 times pieces, but it was 9:20 by my watch. I

2 called the rig floor and I talked to Jason

3 Anderson. And I said "Well, how did your

4 negative test go?" And he said "It went

5 good." He said "We bled it off. We watched

6 it for 30 minutes and we had no flow." And I

7 said "What about your displacement? How's it

8 going?" He said "It's going fine." He said

9 "It won't be much longer and we ought to have

10 our spacer back." I said "Okay." I said "Do

11 you need any help from me?" And he told me

12 "No, man." Just like he told me before he

13 said "I've got this." He said "Go to bed.

14 I've got it." He was that confident that

15 everything was fine. I said "Okay." So, I

There is a lot to go through there, I will be looking for Frank Pattons testimony.


An excellent summary especially for newbies. Granted it's based only on the bits and pieces of data that has been released but it does have a solid logical base. They only place I think they missed the mark a little: it isn't necessary to displace the oil based mud before setting cmt plugs. Cmt plugs are routinely set in OBM. In fact, the cmt shoe at the base of the csg was set in OBM. They somewhat contradict themselves lower in the piece by pointing out that BP would have improved the integrity of the bottom cmt job had they circulated a larger volume of OBM.

IMHO the most important take away is that although a number of money saving short cuts have been documented these did not cause the well to blow out. The piece squarely points the finger at human error and gross negligence in not closely observing the well. This was not a situation where BP was dealing with extreme conditions as some have speculated. The sad truth is that it should have been a routine exercise to drill and abandon this well. While the water depth was extreme the drilling conditions weren't. Much more challenging wells were safely drilled 40 years ago.

IMHO the most important take away is that although a number of money saving short cuts have been documented these did not cause the well to blow out.

I have to strongly disagree here RM. The obvious "money saving short cuts" mentality that clearly permeates BP from Boardroom to basement (just look at the their record going back years/decades) is ABSOLUTELY the basis for this catastrophy. Had it not been, more care would have been taken at each step just as a matter of course (including watching mud returns, and/or using brine instead of sea water).

Just as is their reluctance to put more skimming capacity to work. Which influences the Admiral's decisions as well. After all, the bottom line is "BP are the experts". Proof of that daily is in their (after the fact) truly outstanding competence/ingenuity to control the Blowout. Hard for the Admiral to second guess BP on other matters (skimming/cleanup) when faced with that excellence/dedication EVERY HOUR EVERY DAY.

Hey old man...we don't disagree. I didn't say anything about the basis of bad corporate mentality. I was just referring to the actual physical cause of the blow out. No one on board the rig was from BP's corporate hinterland. The folks who were responsible for keeping the rig and hands safe were far below the board of directors. But I fully agree about how unsafe attitudes can permeate an organization from the top down. BP almost seems to be the poster child for this phenomenon.

But to reiterate: the well blew out because the cmt gave way when they displaced the mud with sea water. But if they had seen the well kicking sooner they very likely could have prevented the explosion. That was the point I was making. Didn't make a judgment as to why those folks made the mistakes they made or how such careless attitudes might have developed. That is also important but a seperate issue IMHO. I've seen hands make foolish/dangerous mistakes when they worked for operators that were fanatical in their safety protocols.

I've seen hands make foolish/dangerous mistakes when they worked for operators that were fanatical in their safety protocols.

Rock, Unless your experience is a lot different than mine (and I've been around A LOT of "unsafe" vessels), you've seen (a lot) more hands doing unsafe/careless stuff when working for "shortcut" companies than those who worked "fanatically safe" ones.

My point is while everyone is focusing on the exact cause of the BP Blowout as if that in itself could prevent another one, while the real root cause is MUCH deeper (and insidious).

My opinion is the only way to change BP type attitudes is prison time for upper management (Board Level, CEO, president, ...). Until something like that happens they will always "be playing with other people's money" ("If we make money, fine, if not, no big deal. It's just a job."). Attitudes (and focus) are different when one has his own skin in the game.

BTW, you have mentioned Exxon as a example of a super safety conscious cmpany and suspect it dates to the Valdez. It may well be but I have known really old time "Standard Oil" employees (some who started with the company as far back as the 20's) and my impression is the Exxon has always infused that attitude in its people. (My friends were refinery workers, not drillers.)

At 9:00, gas began coming out of the riser. Despite this, the pumping of seawater did not stop until 9:31.

This can't be SOP, can it? I'm not a religious person, but that would be the most fervent half hour of prayer I'd ever engaged in, to any god kind enough to listen.

moto -- This is still the huge disconnect for all of us in the oil patch. What do you think about a possible well kick when you're sitting 100 miles offshore? It's not an issue taken lightly. Walk past the company man's off and hear "well kick"...you stop and listen. He might be talking about a well he drilled years ago. Everybody on the rig, including the cook, knows that a well kick is just two steps from potential death. It's just that simple. Thus while it's impossible to imagine the crew not alerting to the well kick it's equally difficult to accept they missed the signs of the kick coming up.

Everybody on the rig, including the cook, knows that a well kick is just two steps from potential death. It's just that simple. Thus while it's impossible to imagine the crew not alerting to the well kick it's equally difficult to accept they missed the signs of the kick coming up.


I worked offshore as a cook for a while in college, the H2S class was hair raising. I wanted to know what was going on out on the drill platform. There was stuff going on out there that could kill ASAP.
When taking coffee etc up to the tool pusher/company man I'd eyeball the spools of printout and ask what was 'going on' (Got a more or less free pass (off duty) to wander by the screens where the mud came out when the Rockhound found out I was a amateur rockhound) the stuff coming out wasn't much in the way of rocks though.

When the drill logs from the final day were released I had a really bad thought,
if I had seen this step one (from my training)was 'tell everyone there is return and the pumps are off!'
step 2 hit the alarm and run for the lifeboat' they guys training me said 'never assume that anyone has read the chart' (circa 79 it was not unusual for a hand to tear off the paper and wander over to the screens and see what was going on, On the rigs I worked on the log came off a printer like an EKG/polygraph). They also noted equipment was replaceable, people were not.

I am still shocked that the driller/tool pusher/company man didn't go full throttle on the mud pump/choke and kill lines and evacuate ASAP when the log showed that much return with the pump off. It makes even less sense since they had pressure issues on the hole they had to abandon prior to drilling Mc252.

pardon the long wander down a memory hole.


There was a report that they were off-loading the mud at the same time that they were displacing the riser. This would have made it difficult to properly monitor the returns.

There was a report that they were off-loading the mud at the same time that they were displacing the riser. This would have made it difficult to properly monitor the returns.

Difficult, well maybe yes, but not impossible. Like my daddy always told me, there ain't no can'ts in the oil field. I would be measuring what was being offloaded and keeping track.

I did a stint in a chemical process lab for a summer vacation from uni. Around the whole plant every red fire alarm break glass had a green break glass next to it, the evacuation alarm. Even as a temporary student I had full authority to smash that glass which would have had the plant cleared within 2 mins and a few new world records for the mile. I would have needed to have a damn good reason to explain afterwards, for example a chlorine tanker dumping or a fire on the storage tanks but that would not be an issue.

From my nym I have no experience or training in oil. That said one look at those charts and my reaction was YIKE! If the off-loading made the process difficult, as noted by geo_man then they should have built in check points. Even from outside the industry it just seems so very wrong. In other industries and occupations I have passed through it is check, check and check again. At times I even get someone to listen as I go through the steps, helps to focus and even a unknowledgeable question can prompt an extra check of something.


Sometimes people become inexplicably distracted.

In the world of medicine, anesthesiologists are particularly challenged having long periods of monitoring dials and instruments that are revealing a stable situation. Though there are many alarms and red dial indicators, people still sometimes don't "see" or hear the alarms. I read somewhere that different voices were tried on test pilots and astronauts to identify which tone was best able to get their attention. Maybe an automated voice alarm (like we have observed in some of the sci-fi movies, announcing 10 seconds to self destruct, 9 seconds , and so forth, might be a solution?) (I know, silly)

I know this, anesthesia practiced in the OR is characterized as 99% boredom and 1% pure terror for a reason. Not sure if this relates completely, but maybe some

Back in my early years in the Software business I worked on the software for a "black box" for an advanced concept airplane that actually DID have voice warning capability for those long periods of boredom on a mission that go to hell in a hand-basket in a split second. It was a really neat concept plugged into just about every system in the plane. We got a local TV anchor to record a series of words which we then digitized and strung together to make phrases. It was kind of an awkward voice s you normally wouldn't have different tones/tempos in the same phrase and we also removed any emotion by clipping the peaks of the digitized data and using band pass filters. Also didn't want it too sexy or such..very androgynous. The box worked great!! The plane got cancelled but the technology has lived on and has gone way beyond our simple version. I also worked on real-time expert systems that could monitor complex situations and render a decision in a split second. Maybe there needs to be more of the old tme knowledge of drilling captured, reduced to some basic simple "rules" and some scenarios put together to allow some "independent" analysis of situations. Might not every be put on a rig but might make a great training tool?

From looking some of the psychology literature I looked at in connection with camera surveillance, it's a very, very unnatural thing for a human being to be both concentrating on something whilst also not actually physically doing anything in connection with it, so people tend to go into a fugue state. The staff who look at baggage x-ray images at airports have a "synthetic suspicious image" thrown up every so often that they have to flag. This isn't just because it provides an automated way to tell the operator has lost attention, but because actually having to act on the trigger image brings the mind back to attention. As such I'd be inclined to "force" the responsible person to do something to the danger alarms in response to some signal on the dial on some random time schedule.

The well is encased in steel down to a depth of 17,168 ft. The well
is currently flowing behind the 7” production casing, so the three lower liners and the 16”
casing are exposed to the oil flow. The 9-5/8” liner is the weak point with a yield strength
of 22,000 psi which is 9,000 psi greater than the shut-in reservoir pressure. The well is
therefore capable of withstanding the shut-in reservoir pressure if the well were shut in.

Whoever wrote this is not an engineer and does not know what he is talking about.

We do not know for a fact that the well is flowing in the annulus behind the 7" pipe.

There is not relationship between YS and BHP especially without taking into consideration pipe thickness...

"Macondo History Before the Blowout, author's bottom line is that human error was the cause."

It would be better to say that human error was the terminal event in a chain of causation that included a non-conservative well design (which, from what I have read here, saved much more than a million dollars and more like $10 or 20 million in rig time and other costs), the decision to replace mud with sea water rather than brine matching the mud in specific gravity, and a management structure that allowed flawed judgments to be made on the basis of the decision maker's pay grade.

In other words the blowout was due to incompetent top management, which failed to create a failsafe system of lower level management. One thing BP should do is bring in the psychologists, as some airlines have done following disasters. A general conclusion from such investigations has been the need to insure that a co-pilot sensing impending disaster is psychologically prepared to challenge, and if necessary, overrule the pilot. Likewise, BP need to insure that at every level of the organization workers feel free to challenge the professionalism and competence of a superior and, in an emergency, to overrule a superior. This means creating a new corporate culture -- one that minimizes outward signs and symbols of rank and which rewards timely speaking out.

L -- I've seen the type of program you describe put into action by one major operator. Before they let me on one of their rigs working off the coast of Africa I had to attend classes which focused on issues you mentioned. And I was just a consultant. Their employees go thru these programs on a regular basis. In particular communications from low level blue collar workers to management level types. I'm sure most here can imagine how intimidated some hands can get when confronted with A type personalities. The exercises worked both ways: low level hands encourage to speak their mind and upper level hands reminded to not be *ssholes. A lot of the classic team building games many have seen before. In addition they had two independent safety officers on the rig periodically that could go straight to upper level management if the any of the well site managers didn't cooperate.

I've mentioned this operator's MO before: it's ExxonMobil which might surprise some folks. If they even suspect you're not taking their safety protocols serious you are off the job in a heartbeat. Have a close call/near miss: you'll probably never work for them again as a consultant. Their lawyers make sure of that. As I've speculated before this could be the aftermath of the Valdez incident.

Rock, It is good to know that this approach is being taking in the complex world of oil where most of the work seems to be done by contractors and consultants. Once the leak is stopped and Tony Haywood has stepped down, perhaps BP will be able to recruit an Exxon man to shake up and remodel the management.

Who knows L...maybe all of the top managment of BP will be replaced by XOM hands after the take over. LOL.

If the takeover price is right, I'd be happy to see it!

It's been all over top news and news items under BP on my bloomberg about hostile takeovers etc., in fact IIRC last week JP Morgan had published scenarios for Exxon to takeover BP, among the other companies rumored was Shell. In fact the stock jumped almost 10% the day that news item hit the bloomberg.

Noob question #101 from Sharkman.
The mud will contaminate the cement. Will not the brine cause contamination as well? Salt destroys cement in bridges and roads all the time. Perhaps there is a lack of oxygen which cancels these effects?

Sharkey -- that's why they use spacers between the different fluids when they are pumped to prevent contamination. Don't really know those details so can't add much more.

Are you talking about the disks that no one is talking about?

sharkey -- Not talking about those burst discs. Don't know enough about tthen to add anything usefull. The spacers are various liquid compounds that clean out the existing fluid (to some degree) in the csg/tubing before the following fluid moves in.

RM here is some info on the burst discs. I guess they act like a popoff valve betwen the casing and the annulus, but I can't see how they could handle much volume.


Thanks Rio. From the comments I gathered it worked something like that. Just never had first hand experience with them.

I had a similiar question.
Found some good info at www.pqcorp.com/literature/Bulletin_35-01.pdf
Also check out Wikipedia "drilling fluids"

...the complex world of oil where most of the work seems to be done by contractors and consultants.

When I was first contracted to work on an oilfield I had to wear a green hard hat. This told everyone I was inexperienced and in theory made them keep a closer eye on me. After a probationary period (a few months) and an exam or two, I graduated to a white hat, and part of my job was to watch the newbie green hats who came after me.

The system worked surprisingy well.

At my old company, rookie ironworkers had a red tape stripe around their/our hats. First time I saw a guy with a red stripe limpin' up to the job, I knew we were in for trouble. Boy was I right. That's the guy that pulled a roofing panel I was standin' on from out underneath my feet about 55 feet in the air. I moved on before he could kill me, though.

Rockman, XOM is not the only major to train employees and contractors in safety protocols, including 'stop work authority'. I've not seen it exercised on something like a well kick, but I have seen more routine safety mistakes stopped by subordinates.

For sure Glen. But I like to use my experience with XOM as an example since they still carry such a bad rep with them.

"Have a close call/near miss: you'll probably never work for them again as a consultant. Their lawyers make sure of that. As I've speculated before this could be the aftermath of the Valdez incident."

One interesting perspective is whether the 1990 Dem Congress Oil Pollution act which capped accident/spill liability at $75 million might have been a factor.
Without this cap, which basically made the US govt self-insure against such accidents, a private insurance firm would have applied additional requirements/regulations which may have prevented what MMS failed to prevent.

The fact that our Govt then reneged on it's legal commitment, and instead shook down BP, was not only despicable/unlawful/unethical/immoral, but will surely have long term damage on US job growth, as what company can ever trust the US govt to keep it's legal commitments.

OMG amerman: To call this a shakedown is to ignore the complex relationship between all of the stakeholders. BP gets lots of money/subsidies from its relationship with the US govt. BP has a giant PR problem with the spill, if the public mood swings the wrong way, then the cash cow of the oil business is threatened. 20B may sound like a lot of money to you and me, but it is nothing compared to having the ability to get access to the mineral riches of the US, while being allowed to rape the marshes, pollute the air and many other acts of destruction of the planet. If 20B can keep the mood of the public from changing, it will seem like chump change.

I love how the urban myth that the US (Obama) "shookdown" BP to get them to agree to pay all cleanup costs related to this disaster. Long, long before Obama announced the $20 billion fund set up by BP, they were publicly stating they would pay for all associated costs related to the cleanup, plus damages to businesses and the environment. Obama's negotiation with BP was just to clarify and set up what they had already agreed to do.

But hey, if the GOP dares to run with this "shake down" line of thinking, go ahead and try it. Already Senator Burr here in NC is being heavily tied to the oil industry, citing both how much $$$ he got for reelection plus how hard he fought to relax regulations on them.

Long, long before Obama announced the $20 billion fund set up by BP, they were publicly stating they would pay for all associated costs related to the cleanup, plus damages to businesses and the environment.

Actually, BP never had any choice about cleanup costs--it's required to pay 100 percent of those no matter what, and those costs aren't included in the $20 billion, which is solely to pay damage claims.

“human error was the terminal event in a chain of causation that included ...a management structure that allowed flawed judgments to be made on the basis of the decision maker's pay grade.”
You have in mind some management structure which DOES NOT ALLOW FLAWED JUDGEMENTS or human errors? I believe such has never existed.
You have a better way for decisions to be made/reviewed than by pay grade/ engineering expertise?. Furthermore, every single BP well design decision was documented/approved by MMS.

“In other words the blowout was due to incompetent top management, which failed to create a failsafe system of lower level management.”
‘Failsafe system of lower level management”- … I believe that such HAS NEVER EXISTED IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD… I guess we should fire/blame our POTUS for every single military airplane crash, AmTrak train crash, or the Ft. Hood murders? Obama obviously failed to create a ‘fail safe’ system of management.
I guess every single airline accident should result in the bankruptcy of the airline, termination of management? Wouldn't we be dramatically short of airlines and management pretty quickly?
Was 'greed or profit' the reason for NASA's shuttle disasters?

“BP need to insure that at every level of the organization workers feel free to challenge the professionalism and competence of a superior and, in an emergency, to overrule a superior.”
The TransOcean head tool pusher’s testimony was that every single worker on that rig had the right/duty/obligation to stop the operation or take action if safety was at issue.

I do wonder how the 125 TransOcean personell/drillers on the rig somehow failed to detect/correct the well kickback, and how/why the TransOcean owned/maintained/operated BOP failed to EITHER close to stop the blowout OR emergency disconnect the riser.

There is a tendency to believe/assume that tragic or very bad results prove gross negligence, but instead so often a chain of unlikely events, small/innocent mistakes, misjudgement and some bad luck can lead to disasterous results.

I'd like to hear some expert TOD response to this statement, from page 4 of "Macondo History Before the Blowout':

"BP should have had the containment system built and tested ahead of time. (Shell had one on standby)"

My initial, intuitive reaction as this disaster began to unfold was that much, much more could have been done to contain the oil in the early days. Do other drillers have better plans than BP? Does anyone know the background of the statement "Shell had one on standby"? One what? Shouldn't this be part of the National Contingency Plan? Is the NCP inadequate, or was it ignored?
I know that there was some rough weather early on--did this truly make booms and skimming impractical?
The early reaction seemed to have been dominated by shock over the deaths, search and recovery, liability control, and way too much wishful thinking.
How much better could the early containment response have been? How can we assure a better response in the future?

Thanks to anyone who can provide any detail on these issues.

BP should have had the containment system built and tested ahead of time. (Shell had one on standby)

I'm not sure where he got this information but I can make a guess.

I seriously doubt anyone had a containment system "on standby" before the BP blowout. I don't know how you would design a containment system without knowing the leak configuration, water depth, flow rates, oil/gas composition, etc. before hand.

I think it might have come from Shell's desperate attempts to shield their Arctic drilling plans from being delayed or canceled due to the political fall out from the BP spill. One of the things they said was that they would build a "standby containment system", but this was after the blowout had happened.

I think their Arctic plans were put on hold.

There are a couple other discrepancies such as on page 2 he analyzed the formation pressure to be 13,366 psi based on mud weight but BP released a measured formation pressure of 11,900 psi.

Also on the last page he says the the BOP might had failed because the riser was "at an angle and prevented the proper closing of the BOP". I think if the BOP was inclined the deformation would be at the connector on the bottom and should not have affected the area where the shear rams operate.

But overall the paper seems to pretty much follow the facts as they have been released and his conclusions seem to make sense..

Bedlam, I am not an expert, but I think this is THE most important issue, yet it gets little attention.

Drilling an offshore well without the ability to contain a worst case blowout is like building a nuclear power plant without a containment building. The Russians tried it, and we know how that turned out. Assuming that we can make blow out preventers so reliable that they need no backup is a huge mistake.

I am not proposing that every well have a containment dome in place, however a dome with proven reliable technology capable of containing a worst case blow out should be available with the capability of being installed within 48 hours of an accident, as a condition for being permitted to drill.

We should have been using this disaster to improve knowledge and technology. The administration should have implemented a competition for developing such technology. It would start with a prize of $500 million for the first team to develop a system capable of collecting over 99% of leaking oil. A team of independent experts would evaluate each submission, and when a collection system fails, the most promising contender would be up next until a successful technology is developed.

I believe the leak would have been contained long before now had this been done.


Triff ..

Bill - I fully agree with you. And I bet the feds don't have to offer a prize today. I've no doubt that every BOP builder has been working on the next generation DW BOP. And the new design will certainly include structure modification to make capture easier should the BOP fail seal. And the Clean Gulf Association (they maintain all the spill equipment) will have already built the top hat capture system designed specifically to fit the new BOP design. And the saddest part: this could have been done at least 10 years ago. And w/o offering a prize. All the feds had to say it was do it or no drill permit. It would have happened before you knew it. IMHO.

Sounds like a little confusion about best location for a physical barrier? They wanted Jindal's dredged sand berms farther offshore, but the fabric lined wire baskets full of aggregate need to be further onshore? Good reasons for both calls, I guess. I still wish they'd collect as much as possible as near to the point source as safely possible, but that idea seems to get continually shot down.

Interesting video on the waste streams http://bp.concerts.com/gom/wasterecovery062210.htm , thanks, HO.

The most efficient and seaworthy skimmers apparently have been working near the wellhead consistently, for example Seacor Washington. I don't know of any grounds for criticizing the deployment of skimmers, it's just that skimming isn't very effective in open water, and many thousands of vessels would be needed to control the slick in timely fashion.

The big dustup between the US and Gov. Jindal over the berms was about where the sand comes from rather than where the berm rises. Dredging ops violated an agreement to take sand from some 2 miles offshore of the Chandeleur Islands. They were taking it from closer in to save time, but this involved making a huge hole in the nearby sea floor that over time would capture sand that should be going to nourish the islands. Or that was the feds' stated concern, anyway.

Do you have a reason to doubt that?

No, it sounds reasonable that the borrow pit could be harmful--I'm just not qualified personally to state it as fact.

What units of fuel and what price? Is that pounds sterling per litre? Sure looks good by our standards, but I know better.

edit: What is AUTOGAS and why is the half price of regular unleaded?

Autogas is LPG.

Its pence per litre.

Edit : Converting to US gallons & USD

Autogas = $3.33
Unleaded Petrol = $6.26
Diesel = $6.20

2nd edit, conversion factors used.
1 US gallons = 3.78541178 litres
1 U.S. dollar = 0.658891744 British pounds

I get $7.10 USD per gallon. Is that right? That sucks, good thing it is a small island by our standards, geez. How much is diesel there?

Edit : Thanks Tabby. I'll check my math.

Yup, it sucks. 2nd highest petrol in Europe from memory. Its expensive in The Netherlands (1st) too.

In the UK we have something called "red diesel" which is for the exclusive use of farming equipment. In every way its normal diesel, except it has a red dye added and reduced(none?) tax so its much cheaper than normal diesel (I'm not a farmer so I don't have current prices of red diesel).

Diesel used to be much cheaper. Modern diesel engines get much better MPG than petrol, so diesel became very popular for cars. This switch in usage of diesel then prompted our government to increase the duty on diesel.

They first reduced the duty to encourage people to switch, so they did. I needed a new car so switched to diesel to take advantage of tax and better mileage. Then the tax went up. Talk about smegged off.


EDIT: Forgot to mention, Customs regularly check lorries to make sure they are not using farm diesel. If the sample is red they are in bad do-do.

Of course one could accidentally run the red diesel through an activated charcoal water filter once or twice.

You can try filtering the diesel (I've been told fuller's earth works well) but the equipment used by the Department of Transport inspectors can detect marker dye levels in the parts per billion range. They swab out fuel lines and sample exhaust soot so you can't beat them by only using the red diesel occasionally -- I've heard of cases where farmers had two fuel tanks in their road vehicles, one filled with red diesel and one with regular but inspecting the engines defeats that particular trick.

Other folks use red untaxed diesel -- boaters[1], for example and fishermen. Trains operators also don't pay tax for fuel but public transport buses do.

[1] I once bought a couple of friends a hundred gallons of red diesel as a wedding present. They lived on a narrowboat on a canal mooring and the diesel was for their honeymoon trip.

In Mississippi it is green.

I miss my 6.2ltr diesel Suburban...27mpg.

Actually now its a bit higher, about $7.80 USD per gallon.

On one hand, it sucks for us (in the UK)

But on the other hand, we are more proof against short-term increases.

- our BAU 'system' is based on these prices. But about 1/2 of what we pay is a flat-rate tax.

So, (follow my thoughts carefully ) say the cost of crude doubles. That increases our fuel costs by only 25%.

Countries with no fuel tax will see a 100% fuel cost increase.

Hence in the short term we should be less recession-ised by increasing costs.


More than size is the transportation system. I spent some time there as a kid and it was great to be able to walk or take a bus everywhere. This wasn't just in towns either. At one point we lived in a little village about 8 mi out of town (which wasn't big...Gr. Yarmouth) and you could take a bus into town from out there. Very few people had autos and even those who did, didn't use them all the time. I know we seldom used ours.

Trains used to be great too!

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750ft"

That will be UK pennies per litre, and it looks a bit out of date -- most petrol stations near where I live are selling fuel at about 117 pence per litre. To convert to US terms that would work out to be about roughly $6.50 a US gallon. Most of this is tax -- Vehicle Fuel Duty or VFD.

Autogas is liquified propane/butane mix plus some additives to up its octane rating and make it easier to burn in modern car engines. I used to have a car converted to run on the stuff. A litre of this gas provides less mileage than a litre of petrol or diesel as it contains less energy. It's most often used by car/van fleet operators in dual-fuel setups as there are tax and cost advantages over using exclusively liquid fuels.

Doesn't look like a UK gas station - but the image name has 'britain' included. Weird.

In the UK we might say LPG; also the word 'regular' is not really English .... but I'm prepared to be corrected!

(BP Connect is in other countries too)

Well, I just spent a couple of hours with Cheryl's Arrogance and Scientific Rules of Thumb and the ensuing comment thread. This could do wonders for TOD's S/N Ratio, since noisy lotus will be in recovery for days, babying her over-stretched mind. BRAVA, Cheryl and (almost) all.

The "new" spill chart shows a 20 million reduction of oil spill over the weekend! Things must be going better than we think! (saconol off) Yeah right. John

What chart are you referring to? Apologies if I'm being dimwitted.

30 years ago... Must viewing for all petroleum engineers.


Stiv: Linked and discussed several weeks back after it first aired.

Missed it the first time, great video.

Thanks stiv. A rather sad and more than a little embarrassing view of how certain areas of technology have not kept up in the oil patch. This knowledge should have led to even greater diligence and safety protocols during drilling ops IMHO. Obviously BP didn't see it that way.

So that is how they planned it out and shared information. The Rothchild's/Bush's/Rockefeller's used a board game.
This really was on sale in the UK before this disaster, and it is no longer made. The value of this game has shot up to 75 pounds.

Edit: The game is 35 years old. We never learn, do we? Games instead of solutions. Typical.


that is hilarious!

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750 ft"

Let's try to guess the questions contained in each of the two piles of cards, assuming one is positive and the other negative to the player's interests. For samples, see here.

Ping Kalliergo

I don't know about Green Ridleys. Could you provide a scientific name, please? (I know about Olive Ridleys, Lepidochelys olivacea, which are certainly relatively abundant, but I don't think they nest in the Gulf.)

>>> Quite right, I was thinking Olive Ridley but typed Green Ridley, no idea why, well olives are green. My apologies.

I don't quite understand, but I do know this: There are, perhaps, 1000 nesting female Kemp's Ridleys, Lepidochelys kempii, on the whole planet (compared to tens of thousands on a single beach 60 years ago). They were already in very grave danger and the Macondo gusher is very bad news for them.

>>> Yes, but my point was that only part of the population will be in the area so they are available for recovery but must be helped. Never mind populations 60 years ago, I wonder what the beaches must have been like before man came on the scene.

I think there's ample reason to be very concerned about both. And about, cetaceans, birds, and a number of other species—the whole ecosystem, actually.

>>> True, I find the overall effect on the ecosystem frightening. Unfortunately much of the fish population is stuck in the middle and all generations will be affected. I am trying to look in a relative way that the turtles have only part of their population in the area.

The butterfly effect is real (see Lorenz, Bradbury and the world we actually live in).

>>> Yes.


We're on the same page.

I'll just note that female Kemp's Ridleys aren't sexually mature until they reach 10-12 years of age. Also, they return to their home beaches to lay eggs every 1-3 years, not 10, so the segment of the population likely to be impacted by this is much larger than it would be with the longer interval.

A third, or more, of a population of 1,000...

Hopefully, if the conservation programming has been successful, there should be a good population of under 10/12s out there in the ocean to return and boost that number. Next year on, get those eggs into cages and release at night. You can increase the number of young getting back into the sea by 5-10 times. That will provide a good boost to the population. About 10 years ago we had a few cages which had a few nests moved into them. A few years ago, when the 10yo turtles started to return we ended up with full cages and building many more. Many of the resorts have put them up on the the beaches in front and the resort security help keep an eye on them. Police patrols are trained to spot turtles, keep people back and call the specialists. I try and help keep people out of the way too.

PADI has a Project Aware program for marine life. Might be an idea to see if some of the local dive shops can get some divers together, under this program, to survey for dead fish and oil on the sea bottom, near the beaches.


I am guessing that this picture answers the question about what the other pipe was inside of the riser.
That sure looks like they are working casing, and not drillpipe in this mock up.
So, speculating of course, I think that the casing string originally failed somewhere above the bottom, and as the overall casing string emptied out of mud above that point, this last section of string was jacked out of the well, up through the BOP.
I guess that since most blowouts happen while drilling, I don’t think this should affect their chances of success with the relief wells.

IMO the jury is still out.

"We still don't really know what's in" the well wreckage, said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose team discovered the second pipe using gamma-ray imaging.


P.S. I wish some of the newbies would learn how to use the blockquotes.

My guess is that, since they are working with a section of crimped casing in this picture that matches that of what is actually currently on site, they have now figured out what they are dealing with here.

There are not many places a piece of casing like that could have come from to end up in the BOPs. We know it likely did not come from the surface; the only reasonable explanation is that it must have been pushed up from out of the well. Therefore, there is no question in my mind that the well casing is broken. Does it really matter that the casing is broken? Probably not.

A teleconference with Samantha Joye at UGA took place earlier today (July 6). Interesting comments from her on a range of topics including gas from the well and the condition of the casing. One of her concerns was that if the casing has been compromised (and she thinks that is probably the situation) that when the relief well is completed that gas may continue to escape. It was also her perspective that the majority of the gas release is being trapped beneath the surface due the microbial oxidation process being faster than exchange with the atmosphere. They are still analyzing samples from the various research cruises.

Unfortunately I was unable to take notes so hopefully the full briefing will be made available online providing the full context of her comments.

Guest -- Do I interpret correctly that Samantha anticipates the RW to be completed as in made a producing well? I suspect you know that's not the plan. I agree though that the condition of the csg is a big unknown and they won't get a hint of how bad the situation might be until they make that first contact with the well bore annnulus. And even then they may still have to do a lot of guessing. I'm sure folks will get excited the day they make the intersect. But we should still have guarded optimism at that point IMHO. So many uncertainties.

RM~I thought the purpose of the RW from what I've read here was to kill the well and not make one of the RW's into a producing well? Correct me if I am wrong. I had posted a question below about the need for the 2nd RW to help contain the high volume of oil vs a backup to the first. If you get the chance and have the patience could you explain why the need to contain the flow if the 1st RW kills the well.

You've got it right mummsie. I think some of the confusing started when folks began to speculate that one or both of the RW might be eventually temp abandoned once the WW is killed and later utilized to develop the reservoir. That could happen especially if the first well does the job and they can immediately suspend the second RW. Another confusion was that some folks initially thought the goal of the RW was to siphon off some of the flow.

Thanks RM......and I think you answered my question I posted below regarding the 2nd RW. Again I appreciate everyone's patience while I ask what surely are "silly" questions to most regulars.

Your welcome mummsie

It was my (Mis)understanding that the RW would at least relieve 50% of the pressure on the WW, and the second would take that number to 66%. The from what I just read, the RW will only help if it can seal the WW? An all or nothing kind of thing?

I believe 'Plan A' is to kill the WW by intersecting it with RW#1 and pumping heavy mud into it until it is static, then pumping cement. However, depending on if/where/how WW casing is damaged, it may not be possible to hold enough mud weight in the WW to stop flow, which might lead to 'Plans B &/or C': If they can replace the current soft connection to the WW riser with a hard one, they could use that extra column to allow the WW to be killed with different mud weights and less pressure across leak-off points; or/and they can reach the WW with both RWs and use one to bleed off pressure while the other injects kill mud. Maybe 'Plan D' could be drill the wild reservoir with a RW and inject 'something' into it - as easy as it is for me to screw up a productive formation by accident there just has to be a way to do it on purpose!

The new capping assembly they are taking out is described as a BOP and there are some meaty actuators on it. I am wondering if they intend to choke it off as they pump mud. If there is a mix of mud in the flow then the back pressures from choking off may be in the acceptable range.


But the well head is mutilated by the sheers used earlier. They did not know that there were pipes in the BOP, so the diamond saw failed.

OMFG mummsy

Figi~I will address this one time and one time only, I am not sure what your problem is with me aside from your becoming the spelling/grammar police. I an NOT a shill for BP, simply a PO'd resident of one of the beaches at ground zero. Whether of not you can accept that is not my problem.......continue on with your bashing if you wish, however I don't think it adds anything to the discussions here and serves as only a distraction. That being said, have at it my friend, you certainly aren't the first nor will you be the last to try and go toe to toe with me (never a good idea), but our of respect for all the other posters here at TOD this will be my last post to you unless you have something worthwhile to contribute to the discussion other than my "simpering" , asking who is taking care of my kids, or telling me that I sicken you. Have a great day.

Figi's 7 comments to the The Oil Drum are listed here:

I don't see where Figi asked about your kids, was sickened by you or called you a shill for BP. Please provide the links to the comments you accuse Figi of making. Thank you.

They were deleted as was my response asking if he/she was being facetious and RM's respone and many others. Sorry that I can't provide you with proof, but Brit, RM and many other saw it, granted the first one telling me that I made him/her sick by simpering as a shill for BP and "the dopes hear ate it up" his/her words, also FIGI asked who was taking care of my 3 yr old child while I was simpering was removed. Obviously I have no 3yr old child.......so no links unless whomever deleted them kept them, not that I feel the need to prove anything to you or anyone else. My stmt stands and is factually based.

Steady now.....! Steady.

I remember seeing his snide comment on "simpering".
Yes indeed, TOD will delete entire threads.

Keep it lit, beachmommy.

I actually had to look up simpering, you know a girl from the TX wouldn't have a clue what it meant.

Do you by chance know where to access the transcripts from the pressers, I caught only part of Thad Allen's today and would love to see the transcript.

It's on CSPAN if you can take watching a half hour of it.


I don't see where Figi asked about your kids, was sickened by you or called you a shill for BP.

I saw all of these before they were deleted.

me too

me too

Yup; I'm one of the people who flagged them. I'm afraid Ma may have picked up a stalker.

LOL WR, It's been awhile since I had a stalker ya know. I appreciate you and others watching my back so to speak.

I've only been here for a few weeks and I've found many, many great folks who's insights concerning the inner workings of the oil industry are invaluable. I was trying to remember what riffraff did before the web was around. I remember old high school acquaintances looking up phone numbers and calling to say, "Is your refrigerator running?... You better go catch it." I'm sure there were others who were far more obnoxious.

I'll tell you a secret about technical folks. Most of our "eureka" experiences when in the middle of highly complex, highly technical problems occur during discussions with people who know nothing about what we're talking about. I've had many times when I've visited someone in the middle of a problem that had me lost. I start explaining the problem, scribbling details on a whiteboard, answering questions, and then the solution just pops out of nowhere.

THRASHER~Sorry I missed it, but appreciate the effort.

BRIT~I do completely understand as my father is an engineer so I understand how you guys think to a degree! I do agree that TOD posters are an incredible source to turn to for information that is so desperately needed now. I'm just grateful they let the "riff - raff" like me hang around and ask questions.

mummsie -- he's not even a very good garmmer cop...got away with my intentional faux pas comment to you at 1:41. Perhaps he only likes picking on girls. You know the tipe, I'm sure

LOL~I noticed your intentional misspelling you "grammertist" and no doubt I know the tipe, also if you are going to pick on a girl- well he picked the wrong target because being brought up in Texas I fight like a boy (down and dirty if needed) and I don't feel like I have to prove anything as it's a waste of time and doesn't further anything, but I will defend myself once and then ignore him.....PS, are you sure it's a him anyway?

In Texas we women kill our own snakes.

Heh! Heh!

I am by no means belittling the huge contribution of Dr.Joye.....she has been ahead of the curve in tracking submerged HC's....but the good doc knows an expert is only an expert in his/her chosen field.....and she has been stretching the rules of academic reporting the past few weeks ....

1- she introduced the term Oil plumes..this gives the impression of a huge blob of oil ....whereas it is dispersed oil entrenched in a water column which is at best is very low ppm's...there is no blob of oil anywhere...

2- the good doc has been active in modeling behavior and extrapolating results....I am 100% sure she teaches the dangers of extrapolating from data in her classroom ....but again the good doc has been liberal in her on extrapolations...

3- how she is qualified to make any substantive comment on casing integrity - its even more disingenuous for her to put out a catchy soundbite and they qualify her statement with "possibly"....can the good doc even tell her 9 7/8" Q-125 prod csg from her 9 7/8" HCQ-125 drill liner ?? -- or the difference in both when burst/collapse pressures are considered or when their tensile/joint yield strengths are considered ?? -- i can confidently say not even the RW team knows where/how the csg is compromised...the extent of pressure communication across the cased hole

4- she comments gas may continue to escape even after bottom kill is done....what flow path is she projecting ??? what geological understanding does she have of this reservoir/formation to throw this sound bite out ???

i am not saying csg isn't compromised --- lotsa folks including me are pretty sure it is compromised but not based on conjectures but of working knowledge of forces involved and knowledge of csg properties after yrs of drilling -- yes, there maybe flow paths open to HC discharge even after btm kill but what knowledge does she have of petroleum geology when folks with decades of experience in petroleum geology cannot predict at this point what can/cannot happen ....

I am sure the good doc preaches the importance of sticking to what you know in her classroom ....IMHO it is not becoming of a highly respected academic ( and she is highly respected no doubt) to put out catchy sound bites based on extrapolation and hunches ...the only reason academics are taken for their word is because they are unbiased in their approach and speak only when they have evidence to back up their assertions...the good doc is stretching the public's trust in her statements the past few weeks

Agreed. And she's not the only one stepping beyond the bounds of expertise. I don't think she's responsible for initiating the "plumes" discussion however (although I could be wrong).

"1- she introduced the term Oil plumes..this gives the impression of a huge blob of oil..."

Ali: I agree that Joye is ranging rather far from her areas of expertise, but, the term "plume" has long been used in environmental documents and regulations to describe phenomena just like what we are seeing here: pollutants spreading through gas (e.g., the atmosphere) or liquid (e.g., groundwater). It's really the way these things have been discussed for a long time.

".......whereas it is dispersed oil entrenched in a water column which is at best is very low ppm's...there is no blob of oil anywhere..."

Please remember that we have only the barest beginnings of hints of concentrations, from relatively few readings. We don't know what they are or where. It is not good science, or sound practice for decision makers, to be too certain, at this point, that the numbers are "at best... very low ppm's."


i understand the context when the good doc uses the word "oil plume"...she is differentiating the area of entrenched HC's suspended in sea water based on difference of physical properties.....same as a scientist can say a cloud is a water vapor plume suspended in the atmosphere and be completely right ....it is a contextual word used to describe a certain zone within a larger environment based on diverging physical properties....but not every1 has a PHD ...he statement while been correct scientifically has been used in the wrong context so many times that now folks are imagining a huge under-water blob of oil....least the good doc can do is clarify her report for the sake of the joe's and the bubba's out there....


It would seem that there are oil plumes (the invisible kind to the human eye described by Joye) and then there are PLUMES (the huge underwater clouds of oil) seen by these scuba divers 40 miles out (one is an AP reporter). See the huge oil PLUME at around 2:25 in this video:


Other oil configurations can also be seen in the video. Something called a 'snotball,' as well as lots of oil bubbles moving in the water.


Plume is a term that is frequently used to describe the hydrodynamic movement of pollutants in water or air. In either case, the concentration of the actual pollutant itself may well be so small as to be measured in parts per million or even less.

It is certainly not Dr. Joye's fault if you, or anyone else for that matter, fail to understand how the term is generally used.

aliilaali, were you on the call or at the briefing?

Did you even listen to the interview or are you condemning her on the basis of the short report of the interview posted above? I suspect you have no idea what the context of her comments was. If someone asked her about the well in an interview, she is only answering their question if she verntures a response. That does not imply expertise. Everyone talks about the well and ventures guesses and expresses concerns. Damn near everone in America not matter what their qualifications are. Your suggestion that she is out there preaching outside of her area of expertise barely falls short of a smear.

The good doc never had your trust, apparently because you think she's a liberal! You better check the political credentials of the crew on the RW while you are at it and let us know how safe we are.

"she introduced the term Oil plumes..this gives the impression of a huge blob of oil ..whereas it is dispersed oil entrenched in a water column which is at best is very low ppm's...there is no blob of oil anywhere"

I don't believe that's true, but even if it is, her use of the term to describe what is happening with nearly all of the oil staying under water is far more accurate and honest than your description, plus she has the credentials and has done the field testing to back it up. What about you?

Hey guys...just a feeble attempt to lighten the tone: do we now refer to the emulsified oil under the GOM as "plume pudding"?

Also: syn: have you found anything else about the reg regarding leaving a kill fluid in an abandoned hole?

I think of it as a vinegarette!

Works for me as I need the levity! Maybe I could sell some plume pudding on Ebay along with the tarballs.

You may want to throw in some Dijon or Creole mustard with that.

Nope, I still druther pie.

Heh! Heh!


i have listened to her interview....now here's my question to you...

the good doc has put out volumetircs on the plumes as well....saying one is 1000' deep and 300 miles in areal area....the method of sample collection is you collect water samples and see if there is oil and measure the concentration of oil.....how can you give volume of the plume when it is equally likely when the research vessel goes to measure the same plume again next day....it can be 500' deep and 150 miles in areal area or its equally likely that it would be 1500' and 600 miles in areal area......to put a quantitative spin on a qualitative analysis is extrapolation ....

if the good doc can pinpoint a foot cube of water at a specified location....measure the oil concentration and run her models and what have you and predict correctly the following after a day
1- the location of the foto cube of oil within +- 1 mile (rmbr this is not surface water which can be predicted with wave flow to some accuracy but water 1000' ft below ...below the thermocline where water movement is not the same)
2- the conc of the oil in the cube of water within +- 50%

then i'm wrong here.....but i don't think i am because giving volumetrics is again putting a quantitative spin on a process that is qualitative....the only thing for sure is there is oil entrenched in the water column ...beyond that to predict is the realm of extrapolation in a highly dynamic environment..

you either understand what i am saying or you don't....a scientific process has no liberal or conservative bias buddy and its always easy to paint ppl red or blue when you have no other arguments...

again I am in no way belittling the work of the good doc....i hope she keeps up the good work to keep BP honest but the good doc is extending her arc here a little and i call it like it is....i never said i am not biased in my approach...almost every1 i know is somehow connected to oil and gas so yes it bothers me when qualitative processes are given a quantitative spin ...


I am glad to hear you did listen to the interview before making your comments and I apologize for assuming you did not. And forgive me if i confused your post as being one of those that minimizes the significane of the amount of oil in the water and dismissing concerns about long term impacts.

I disagree with you about the use of the word plumes, though. When they were on the water, they identified areas of higher concentration of O/G than the surrounding water, and it smelled like oil and oil could be separated out of it. To me, plume was a perfectly accurate description of that condition. She never claimed there were "bloobs" of oil as you suggest, and you do have a belittling tone when you speak of her. But that's your right of course.


no worries ....my intention was not to touch on frayed nerves....i can certainly see why you would be correct to assume i wouldn't be the type to be listening into her briefing.....through chevron's PR dept we are linked into such briefings especially these days...the PR folks call in at the number and setup a facility for us to tap into such briefings indirectly (for those interested) over the company intranet where such briefings are available in real-time....we have a few summer interns over here ..since i've assigned them a little side project to analyze MC-252 blowout and turn in what they thought went wrong...so i thought i would be a good idea to let the kids listen in what the good doc has to say ...i sat in as well to understand the impacts as well as a few other enggs...

my intention was not to sound condescending towards the good doc....the doc has done a great job of keeping BP honest in a lot of areas....but sadly us folks down south are not always the most literate when it comes to our vocabulary or eduction....most folks have morphed the good doc's plume reference (i never said it was worng scientifically) and taken it to mean blobs of oil.....maybe a little clarification on part of the good doc for the common folks isn't a bad idea ....help to lessen the fear ..

[quote]...but sadly us folks down south are not always the most literate when it comes to our vocabulary or eduction....most folks have morphed the good doc's plume reference and taken it to mean blobs of oil.....maybe a little clarification on part of the good doc for the common folks isn't a bad idea ....help to lessen the fear ..[/quote]


The plumes have quickly become giant blobs and the methane has formed a big giant bubble which will explode.

This issue isn't limited to us southerners though, it is all over the country. There is a Facebook page where people from all over are opening their homes as way-stations or even something longer and looking to set up a fund for those people on the Gulf Coast looking to evacuate before FEMA comes to get them.

It is just sad and a little scary...maybe scarier than the oil.

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750 ft"

There is a Facebook page where people from all over are opening their homes as way-stations or even something longer and looking to set up a fund for those people on the Gulf Coast looking to evacuate before FEMA comes to get them.

It is just sad and a little scary...maybe scarier than the oil.

I totally agree, and have witnessed my fair share of it here.....again, that's what made me finally decide to post at TOD because it's easy to get caught up in the hype because hype and frenzy = $$. And obviously I am one of those southerners as was pointed out to me last night by someone with the spelling/grammar police.

Can anyone tell me what this is in the video, as the alarmist swear it's cracks in the Gulf floor leaking oil....any input I would appreciate. Thanks in advance:


The guys here at TOD said it was debris from the DWH...storage tanks?

Someone posted photos of other debris from DWH and you see the similarities of the surfaces.

It has also been mentioned that one would not see any 'rock' that looked like that in GOM.

The guy who posted that particular video has been here on TOD and I'm sure was around the night this was debunked.

I've tried to pass along what little I have learned here and knew from my Dad, but these folks get real upset if you piss on their disaster party. Seems to me that reality here should be disaster enough.

There are times when I think the methane bubble causing a giant tsunami might not be such a bad idea...from an evolutionary standpoint. ;)

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750 ft"

LOL about the evolutionary standpoint, instead as I posted below I can see a profit to be made from their disaster party, buy a ton of cheap land in Iowa or somewhere and sell it to them before the methane tsunami at a 200% profit. I also agree the reality should be disaster enough but sadly it's not.

as usual, I only have something completely random to add, but I helped a bud with his payphone route after he got hurt and couldn't drive for a while. We serviced most of the pay phones at Chevron stations in central New Mexico.

absolutely nothing, (other than chevron),to do with the topic at hand, though. I suspect the few folks here from NM probably aren't the type to use a payphone, but we can all see where assumptions about other people can get ya. ;)

it wasn't an interview and it's not available on line

aliilaali, were you at the briefing today?


i must've been posting my reply to syncro when you posted this....see my reply to Syncro above which details how i was able to listen in

Fair enough, then you know that she was very careful to qualify her statements and as I included in my initial post indicated that they are still analyzing the data.

Personally I appreciate when someone who is on the ground provides some perspective especially when that person and their interdisciplinary team (biogeochemistry) have been in the thick of this from the earliest days including time on the Gulf near the deepwater location.

I'm just guessing but I suspect she knows something of the geology of the Mississippi Canyon maybe not MC252 but blocks not too far removed.

There was a link to an mp3 posted here a few days ago and there's now a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr7zgBjDxoY

snake, the briefing was today, hopefully they will put up the mp3

Okay, then I apologize for posting an irrelevant link. However, I do agree that once Dr. Joye steps out of her area of expertise, she's just speculating and apparently has less to go on then many of the people at TOD. If I recall the mp3 interview correctly, she opined that blowing the well up could be extraordinarily dangerous because the gas could explode. For instance.

The word "plume" in this context has been in use a long time as seen in these 1983 and 1976 papers.

The modelling of hydrocarbon bubble plumes to include gas hydrate formation
David R. Topham
Frozen Sea Research Group, Institute of Ocean Sciences, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, B.C., Canada V8L 4B2
Received 2 September 1983; accepted 19 January 1984. Available online 5 October 2001.

Information gained on hydrate formation on a single rising bubble of hydrocarbon gas is applied to the case of a complete bubble plume. When hydrate formation is included in the plume equations there is a strong coupling between small scale bubble behaviour and the total plume buoyancy. The sensitiv of the plume solutions to this coupling is examined for methane and a natural gas typical of certain Arctic oilwells. The results of the latter are app to a hypothetical oilwell blowout under Arctic conditions, and indicate that for wellhead depths greater than 800 m all the gas will be converted to hy before the surface is reached.


Bubble plumes in stratified environments
Trevor J. Mcdougall
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge
Journal of Fluid Mechanics (1978), 85:4:655-672 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © 1978 Cambridge University Press
Received February 20 1976. Revised September 15 1977. Published Online April 12 2006.

This paper is concerned with the behaviour of buoyant plumes driven by a source of bubbles. It is shown experimentally that, when a bubble plume rises through a stratified environment, fluid can be transported vertically for some distance and then some of this fluid can leave the plume and spread out horizontally at its own density level. A simple plume model which regards the plume as a single entity is discussed in order to make a first assessment of the effects of gas expansion and bubble slip velocity in this stratified case. However, the experiments reveal a more complicated plume structure in which the bubbles remain in the centre part of the plume, and only the outer part of the plume spreads out into the environment at certain levels. On the basis of these observations a double-plume model is proposed which regards the plume as being composed of two parts: an inner circular plume (which contains all the bubbles of gas) and an outer annular plume.

bubbles and plumes in the same sentence, if only the author had included the word clouds all would be resolved:]

Now, now, the study is talking about actual bubbles, the kind I'm forever blowing. A methane bubble of this type would occur when you fart in the bathtub.

I'm not sure what you mean by the "dangers of extrapolating from data". Making generalizations from data is at the heart of the scientific method. The purpose of conducting a controlled experiment is to make generalizations from the data collected and gain a broader understanding of the empirical world.

The scientific method is a series of steps and guidelines that have evolved over the centuries. One of the functions of the method is provide boundaries that reduce the likelihood of unwarranted generalizations. In more recent times, scientists use statistics and probability to estimate the risk that their findings, and thus generalizations, are in error.

Scientific findings are never 100% certain, and this is one of the features that makes the scientific method powerful. The body of knowledge derived from the scientific method is always open to new data and reinterpretation.

According to the University of Georgia faculty directory, Dr. Samantha Joye's areas of expertise are:

"Biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, metals, and organic materials in coastal environments; biogeochemistry of methane hydrate and chemosynthetic habitats; ecosystem and geochemical modeling; microbial ecology, metabolism and physiology; molecular biology; global nitrogen cycle, global methane cycle."

A list of her papers is available at the link.

Dr. Joye is head of the Joye Research Group. the group studies Biogeochemistry which is an interdisciplinary science involving Geology, Chemistry and Microbiology.

"Biogeochemistry is an interdisciplinary science that examines how biological processes mediate the geological and chemical dynamics of the Earth's hydrosphere and lithosphere. The integrative nature of biogeochemical research requires application of tools from different disciplines, including: microbiology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, geochemistry, ecology, hydrology, mathematics, physics and many others.


Another "newbie" question, sorry if this has already been addressed but the locals news is reporting:

GULF OF MEXICO - The relief well BP hopes will stop the leak is still on track to be completed sometime next month. Here's a live look at the leak this evening. BP is confident the relief well will do the job, but they are drilling a second one as a backup. At least one person says that's a good idea. Carlos Osornio was the engineer in charge of deep-water drilling operations during a 1979 oil spill in the gulf. He says BP may need both relief wells to contain the leak. Osornio says one well may not be enough to contain the high volume of oil.

SO, my question is do they have to wait for both relief wells to be complete to try and kill the well or just the first one. Obvisouly I stay confused because I thought when you killed the well and in this case a cased well you had to kill in in two places which makes it harder than killing an open hole but it would stop the oil flow, and if this first try is successful and it's "killed" why would you need the other one to contain the high volume of oil?

One relief well should work; the 2nd one is being drilled in case something happens to the first one that delayed it, or required drilling another well completely. Two relief wells on the blowout well ought in theory allow them to overwhelm the pressure faster, but there's lots of people here who can say whether that's correct or not.

Thanks, that's was what I thought that the second RW was a backup, but that article I posted made it sound like the first RW wouldn't be enough to handle the flow of oil, and I assumed (which is always dangerous) that once the well was killed there would be no more oil flowing after the mud was pumped in the two areas.......guess I need to do a bit more homework on RW's, and TOD is where I come to do this as their is so much conflicting information out there now.


John Wright Company's case history include a well that was killed in Syria in 1995 that required a kill rate of 80 barrels per minute. The mud weight required was around 15 pound per gallon. They used two relief wells and had contingency for a third to kill the well. I'm not sure if John Wright Company or BP has stated an estimated kill rate at present for the Macondo well.

In the case of the well in Syria the relief wells were ready within 3 days of each other and the "dynamic kill" took 12 minutes at 120 bbls per minute

I think that if their engineering models required both relief wells from Development Driller III and Development II that they would be upfront about it. At least I would hope.

Thanks FE~I have read alot about his record and owned shares in WEL for over a yr. I understand the need for the second RW, I was just unsure by what I read today why they neede the 2nd for containment if the 1st RW killed the well......granted like I have stated before this is so beyond anything I have ever studied.

I don't know about the second containment vessel except for maybe uncertainty when the final kill is made. I think once they begin the operation that it will not take long and there will be no doubt that flow has stopped. Having said that, I have to admit that as any oilfield operation you cannot assume anything. Assumptions is what got BP into this mess.

This is probably just uniformed reporing as it's in our local news (not incredibly bright to put it mildly). I agree about assumptions, what's that old saying when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.

I wouldn't be too hard on the local press. This situation effects them personally as well. These concepts are hard to fathom at best and most are getting a crash course in petroleum technology just to grasp what has happened.

BP Assumptions:

"But who cares, it's done, end of story. will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job."

Words that will haunt that guy forever.

I do agree with that, however that being said I do try to find out what I can and have no problem asking questions here or to anyone that will listen because I want to be as informed as possible and it's obviously a huge task to try and take a crash course but expect true journalist to do as much or more than I do.

Damn BP with those words (inaction) in regards to the cement job and you're right, they will haunt them forever

I tackled prayer and the New York Times today on my blog. I turned instant comments on. I need participation please. http://gcn01.com

Edit: If that does not make folks get riled up, then it must take pictures oily animals.

I joined TFHG~thought since we are kinda neighbors I should check it out. I enjoy it very much. I have no pic's of oil birds, just one of a turtle egg covered in oil and a pic of the doplhin that died........let me know if you need them and I'll email them to you.


I forgot to hit post. 'The are no atheists in foxholes' is now available. http://gcn01.com

Pray with one hand and pick cotton with the other and see which hand gets filled first. Prayer can only help, but not if it is a substitute for real action.

I suppose I could sent Wright's wife some roses :)

LOL~if he is successful, I'd personally deliver them or whatever he wants as a huge thank you. TFHG, are the winds and seas as bad in GS as they are here? I thought I was going to get sandblasted the night of July 4th (kinda like I did in Gustav when I went out to take pic's in my swimsuit), not that smart in hindsight but I did get a nice microdermabrasion for free.

Send me your e-mail address TFHG as I could not get it from your site. I'll send you a check to fuel your land boat for a while and help your investigations.

Cheeseburger's? I walk the walk or ride the ride as the case may be.

gulfshoresaintbad(at)yahoo.com is my public email account
Send a comment through the about button on http://gcn01.com if you need additional info. It is actually secure enough.


In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

The disparity between what BP promised in its March 24 filing with federal regulators and the amount of oil recovered since the April 20 explosion underscores what some officials and environmental groups call a misleading numbers game that has led to widespread confusion about the extent of the spill and the progress of the recovery.

"It's clear they overreached," said John F. Young Jr., council chairman in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish. "I think the federal government should have at the very least picked up a phone and started asking some questions and challenged them about the accuracy of that number and tested the veracity of that claim." ...

After Steve Benen whipped out his Big Chief tablet and pencil and did some figuring, and some of his readers came along with calculators to help, they concluded that

... BP's skimming and removal efforts are operating at less than 0.2% of the promised capacity. The oil giant only exaggerated its abilities by a factor of 500.

With an estimated total of about 2 million barrels having already been released into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has captured only 67,143 barrels -- or about 3% of the total.

BP officials declined to comment on the validity of early skimming projections, stressing instead the company's commitment to building relief wells intended to shut down the still-gushing well.

"The numbers are what they are," said BP spokesman Toby Odone. ...

Toby seems to get that credibility kicks can do to companies what well kicks do to drilling rigs -- put them "two steps from death."

Yes, thanks to the WaPo for this article-- finally a journalist who gets the difference between oil and water collected, who points out the role of the cleanup contractors, and who makes clear the futility of the skimming effort.

The only cavil I have is, it's not just BP. I don't know how to find the information, but I'm 99% sure all the offshore drillers have been making similar claims on their spill response plans. They share the same pool of cleanup contractors. They would all be equally helpless in case of a blowout in the Gulf.

They share the same pool of cleanup contractors. They would all be equally helpless in case of a blowout in the Gulf.

That's what I remember too, Gobbet -- from one of the hearings, I think.

Thad Allen on the Coast Guard's repsonse plan

Q Thank you. Admiral, over the weekend Tony Hayward said that BP clearly was not prepared for a spill of this magnitude. The Coast Guard is the frontline agency in responding to oil spills. So what about the Coast Guard? Did you discount the possibility of a major blowout in the Gulf?

Adm Allen" ..."I think it was a peculiar set of circumstances that, frankly, weren’t anticipated and I think are going to have to be anticipated in the future."

Full Context see Transcript: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/597631/&printerfrien...

Can't find anywhere in the WP article that actually says what the oil skimmed has been. It estimates the oil. Has Unified command released the actual net oil skimmed figure? Having said that the amount is probably about 100 k plus or minus. But the big question is how much is actually in the surface to skim. We do not yet know the flow rate before the riser cut or after. We are not sure how much is dispersed underwater nor of course the evaporation percentage. Having said that, clearly estimates of skimming capacity are always suspect as they assume perfect conditions and ideal circumstances. I will be interested to learn, after this is over, how much oil volume actually made it to shore, and to see a final mass balance to account for all the oil leaked.

Correct, she doesn't say whether she got the oil total from a source or estimated it. Estimating the mix at 10% oil would yield something very close to the figure she gave, 900 bbl/day average. I would think they have a total for the oil recovered by skimming but prefer to post the more impressive number of gallons (natch) of mix (natch) collected. I suppose there would be a time lag for measuring separated oil and it would be problematic how to count oil-water emulsion.

How about a TOD pool where we guess at the mass balance? ;)

How about a TOD pool where we guess at the mass balance? ;)

Waaaay too fooken depressing.

Not as depressing as what we read in the news, where they calculate the total flow as 60,000 bbl x 77 days and usually forget to subtract the amount captured at the wellhead. (Option 1: assume 100,000 bbl/day. Option 2: multiply by 42 .)

Diverdan guesstimated the spill so far as 2m bbl. Oddly, I'd scribbled up the same number yesterday.

Considering the good progress of the relief well (somewhat ahead of schedule) and the continued delays of the helix producer hookup due to rough seas, would it be possible (or even preferable for BP) that the relief well succeeds before the Helix Producer raises containment to 53k+ bpd max? Right now the only thing anyone can say for sure is that the leak is over 25k bpd. How much is a lot of estimating and conjecture at this point. If they kill the well with the relief well is there any way to go back and determine how much is leaking? Wouldn't this be critical to the fines BP is facing under the Clean Water Act? How would this affect some of the coming lawsuits against BP? It will be interesting to see how all this turns out.

I also have some thougts about that. It seems BP are pleased with the present collecting rate but IMO they are working pretty hard doing intentionally clumsy things. One example, if you have to drop an important piece of pipe into the mud, you certainly will cap it so you don´t have to remove mud from the inside when you pick up the pipe. The cleanup I saw took 1-2 hours. If you add all those small "incidents" the total delay can be counted in days or weeks.

And why do you need to have 12 swithes and 12 gauges and 12 yellow things around the flex joint? BTW, the 12 yellow things have been redesigned and replaced. They also let some green liqiuid out from time to time. I think it is about injecting methanol in the new collecting system but I´m not sure.

To me it looks like they are working on a prototype for a completly new collecting system to be used in the future in case of another blowout in the GOM or elsewhere (the Arctic) but they have to prove it to work properly. If they work this out slowly they can put the new collecting system on line one day before the bottom kill process starts just to prove the capability of the system. If they achieve the goal, BP will be way ahead of every other operator.

Bottom line: From BP:s point of view, I think this is not about collecting as much oil as possible and as fast as possible. This is now about BP:s future drilling in the GOM, in the Artic and elsewhere. Longterm it´s a good thing for BP and the oil-industry but in the meantime the ongoing disaster in the GOM continues......

Bottom line 2: We need the oil in the GOM and in the Arctic and elsewhere during the transition to renewables. It´s not bad if we can extract the remaing oil without environmental disasters.

Of course, the above are only my own thoughts, but I have not seen this adressed before. Any thoughts from the experienced people on TOD?

Kind regards from an old Swedish HVAC engineer.

Off Topic

Interview Tonight, 7:30 PM EDT of me by Nicole Sandler on Internet

Available via podcast later

More than a little nervous, but I need the experience and this looks like a good first try.

Mainly about the work of Hans Herren and the Millennium Institute. ASPO should be mentioned if I do not get too nervous and forget.

Best Hopes for Not Screwing Up TOO bad, not sneezing on air, etc. etc. etc.,




Alan, here's your mantra: "I know it. I know I know it. And they don't."

Break a laig and have fun!

My personal experience with fractures is that are, most definitely, NOT FUN !

Best Hopes for limited Orthopedic work,


Yeah, what lotus said. You'll be fine.


You "done good" as they say in Chapel Hill.

Nicole had the same trouble with "cement a la oil patch" that I do!

Nevertheless, the 25 minutes I heard were so informative, and point us in the right direction. Keep up the good work, and here's to many more interviews.

Maybe you might call into Ed Schultz' radio program on the America Left channel on XM Radio (also on Sirius) since he's always up for boosting American products and progress. Number is 877-934-6833 and he's on from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm CDT.


Is worth reading this paper about the cause of the Macondo disaster


I disagree with that paper and I think the courts will to.

You can not take a string of shortcuts that diminish the safety of a project or structure then blame the last person in line for for making a mistake.

Part of safety and design is to try to get the project where 1 person can not make a mistake and destroy the whole thing.

There were standard operating practices not followed that led to a savings in money in the short term but destroyed the line of barriers put in place to keep this exact thing from happening.

The drilling engineer can not be the only one held accountable for this. That would be a grave injustice to the 11 murdered on that rig.

An electric battery car could cost as little as 56 cents to run for the 11.2 kilowatts required for a 40 mile day. The gasoline equivalent would be around US$4.80 for the average 25mpg car.


I am interested in electric cars as well. So lets use 35% efficiency for electricity generation - 5% transmission losses and we get about 30% as the conversion rate of energy to usable energy. Cars get about 18% to 20% conversion, so unless the chargers and batteries are very efficient, then electric cars are a complete waste of time. I wish the numbers came out better as I am a fan of electric cars and built my own electric bike that can go 30 MPH. :-) Two 1000 watt hubs and a 48V 4 battery power supply. It's all wheel drive!

Roughly accurate for electricity from coal. Gas generation does better and of course some states are seeing measureable upticks in renewable - Texas for instance in wind.

The real point of electric vehicles is CO2 reduction, and on a wells to wheels basis electric beats gasoline by 30% with existing US generation mix.

Electric vehicle fleet sets up the ability to drive emissions to <1% as renewable technologies become economical (and yes, these don't exist today, but they will).

I think you have it completely backwards there. Internal Combustion Engines are very inefficient. They lose a good percentage to heat loss. They are something like less than 20% efficient. Electric motors on the other hand are highly efficient. I don't have the numbers but it is something over 69% or maybe higher - I forget offhand.

I don't know who you are or what your purposes are but you've depicted it completely opposite to what it actually is. If Electric Vehicles (EV's) are powered by a highly efficient source like hydropower or even local photovoltaic or other alternative energy their efficiency and carbon footprint goes into the higher ranges.

Jetblast you're right about the engine itself, but to compare apples-to-apples you need to do a wells to wheels comparison. Just look up Electric Vehicle on Wikipedia and you'll see what SharkMan is talking about.

Of course a hydropower only powered EV would be clean and efficient, but the US runs on a mix of electricity - mostly coal.

More important than the average energy usage is the marginal usage: First, (a) when you plug in an EV, where does the extra current come from. And (b) when people start regularly using EVs where will the extra generation capacity needed come from? Also, if you're going to consider inefficiency of electric generation and transmission you have to also consider the net inefficiency of hydrocarbon transportation and refining. I don't have the reference, but I know there have been serious in-depth studies looking at net carbon efficiencies, and I believe these give an edge to EVs (though nowhere near as much as is implied by the people who like to claim their plug-in hybrids get 200 pmg).

(Carbon sequestration is also possible from centralized power plants but I'll only count that chicken when it's walking around the barnyard...)

Not only that, also the cost of upgrading the grid so people who don't have places to plug in a car will be able to - that means wiring parking areas, somehow, that are not wired now.

If you read a tiny bit further on, it could also cost as much as $3.18 just for the electricity at that one utility. At any location other than the unstated Northern California area cited, who knows; so much depends on the whims of local PUCs. The article also mentions wear and tear on the obscenely expensive battery, at a cost of $4.70. So overall, it might cost considerably more ($7.88) than driving an efficient diesel, or it might cost less, it's a crapshoot.

Naturally, the promoters are promising better batteries in the distant future, but for now those are still vaporware (and as Keynes said, we're all dead in the long run anyhow.) And let's not forget that governments are simply going to have to figure out a way to apply road tax to EVs. (Big Brother spying GPS perhaps, then the supercilious bossy politicians can get their jollies by telling you where you can drive, when you can drive, and what route you must follow.) The free ride EVs get now can't continue too far past the early-adoption phase, or else the roads will get so bad that the more road-hugging models will bottom out at the potholes. There's another crapshoot.

What happens when you live 65 miles from the nearest grocery store?
I do.

When I lived in Texas the first time we were 20+ miles from any grocery store and ~35 miles from a hospital. Finally we moved to Bryan/College Station where I could get groceries within a 3 mile radius. Many parts of Texas are very remote and far away from grocery stores, healthcare and pharmacies. I understand your problems and love to hear you shot snakes too (or killed)

Biodiesel from Jatropha.

Comments on A Whale on CNN

Headline Only 1,100 barrels of oil were skimmed in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday,

Amazingly some of the blogs e.g DailyKos appear smugly satisfied at this development. How sick is that?

read the rest for context



"ROBERTS: The crews are still doing a test run on that massive skimmer ship, the "A Whale" to determine exactly how much oil it can actually pick up. So far, it has not produced mediocre results with probably has been because of the high waves.

CNN's Allan Chernoff takes a look at the ship from New Orleans this morning.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, the "A Whale" so far has been more of a minnow when it comes to cleaning up oil. Rough seas have harpooned its ability to skim oil near BP's gusher

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Test of "A Whale's" abilities so far are inconclusive. Meaning the massive converter oil tanker, three and a half football field long has yet to prove its Taiwanese owner's claim that it can skim between 15,000 and 50,000 barrels of oil off the sea in a day.

CAPTAIN BRIAN KELLEY, COAST GUARD CHIEF OF STAFF: It is supposed to be able to skim greater quantities than any other vessel on the planet. That's what they claim.

CHERNOFF (on camera): That's what they claim.

KELLEY: Yes, and that's why we are testing right now?

CHERNOFF: So far it has delivered. KELLEY: Right now, they are under a testing evaluation. We haven't completed that yet. As a matter of fact, the ship just asked for an extension to their testing evaluation period, which we accepted and approved. So they are going to be able to continue that test until Thursday morning.

MARK WILCOX, COAST GUARD COMMANDER: We haven't seen a very large amount of product. Early indications indicate that's not a lot was collected.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): That so-called product, crude oil floating in the sea hasn't been concentrated enough according to BP for "A Whale" to skim effectively, even though it appears the ship has been surrounded by pools of oil just a few miles from the gusher.

HANK GARCIA, BP SPOKESPERSON: We've got oil coming up from over a mile below the surface. It doesn't always come up in one spot.

CHERNOFF: "A Whale" may still have to prove itself, but the vessel will have to do so before BP officially hires it to join the cleanup fleet and if that's to happen, the sea will need to cooperate.

GARCIA: When you've six foot, eight-foot seas, it is not going to lend itself to a good capture of the oil.

CHERNOFF: As crude continues gushing into the Gulf, skimming has been scant. Only 1,100 barrels of oil were skimmed in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday, less than the amount pouring out of the blown-out well in an hour using the most conservative estimates.

Does it have booms (maybe 100 feet to the port and starboard) to direct the oil to its collection points at the bow? If it only collects what is right in its path then it might burn up more oil then it collects, that would be better then the oil contaminating the gulf, but it would not justify the expense.

Justify the expense?

Justifying the expense model is what got us into this problem in the first place.

This is one of the richest companies in the world. If they have to pay a 1000 dollars a barrel to pick the oil up what is the problem with this?

Why are their economic decisions being made when it comes to cleaing up this spill?

That is an excellent point and I agree with you 100%. I am not in charge though and the bean counters will win this war as they always do. As to the clean-up points they will justify 10 years of shore clean-up as being better then 200 million dollars a day used now to clean it up while it is in the Gulf. Much will not be seen and much will dissolve before it hits the shore. Why do you think that they are still using dispersant's even after the EPA asked them to restrict their use?
Yep, it's all about the money, look up some previous posts about amortizing the clean-up costs as in now or later. You get much more red ink from cleaning up the spill now.

Sometime over the weekend, someone on TOD linked to a video of A-Whale in action. It showed only one smallish boom, connected off the port bow irrc, near one of the streams of water coming from the bow (presumably the post-oil removal water.) My guess was that the boom was somehow intended to keep the not-pure water in an area where it could be recirculated. (remember those EPA regs and the some other skimming approaches?)

From the vantage point of the helicopter doing the video, the seas didn't look very high.

The CNN video linked at the top of this subthread shows a boom being towed on one side and forward of A-Whale. It is concentrating the oil in a way that should improve collection efficiency. Perhaps as part of the test they will compare the two sides' productivity to see whether booming is worthwhile. If the EPA exemption requires pumping polluted water upstream of the collection system, as I suggested a few days ago, I doubt that boom would be needed to meet that requirement.

But isn't the boom connected forward of the collecting vents, directing the oil away from the openings and not towards them?

The earlier video - which I haven't been able to track down - showed more than the brief snippet in the video linked above.

I'm half blind and can't see the slots, but surely it must be attached aft of them.

I'm not clear on what you found objectionable about the Daily Kos post. It was already obvious before the test that A Whale couldn't possibly live up to the hype.

Actually 1,100 bbl/day is much more than I expected and would be highly significant given that the rest of the fleet may be capturing only around 2,000 bd under good conditions. Seas were rough part of that time, but only 3 feet on Monday afternoon.

BUT did Chernoff mean that A Whale captured 1,100 gallons that day or that the rest of the fleet did? According to the DWH Response page, fleet collection from Sunday to Monday was 300,000 gallons of mix, which at 15% oil would be around 1,100 bbl of oil. The CG officer says only that the Whale captured "not a lot."

I think I described it (kos) as being smugly satisfied. Personally I think it would have been fantastic if the Whale was able to even do a third of what was being suggested, I am sure you share that sentiment as well.

Celebrating failure with an "I told you so" when there is so much suffering in this crisis is to me, objectionable to say the least.

Beginning with their (kos) headline "Giant skimmer captures just 1,100 barrels in 24-hour period" followed by comments such as "Looks converting supertankers into giant skimmers that can slurp up oil from BP's leaking well isn't a magic wand after all" and concluding "Moreover, even if results improve once waters calm down, the giant skimmer seems to be inherently inadequate -- any solution that depends on calm seas for a spill in the middle of hurricane season is at best incomplete."

Here is another recent article on A-Whale from Reuters:

High seas out near the site of the blown deepwater well halted tests of the supertanker, named "A Whale," and forced the crew to instead adapt a system designed to allow oily water into the ship's storage tanks where it can be decanted. Coast Guard officials had left the supertanker but testing could resume later in the week.

"The long term results of this are that we are learning quite a bit about when this technology should be deployed," said Frank Maisano, spokesman for TMT Shipping Offshore, which owns the ship and hopes to sign a skimming contract with BP. "One of the things that we are seeing is that this technology has to be applied much earlier in the process when the oil is thickest and there are the least amount of dispersants," he said.

That last quote sounds like the management is discouraged with the results--not even using the weather as an excuse. I'm really wondering if that claim of 1,100 BOD will hold up.


Skimming has captured only 67,143 barrels, and BP has relied on burning to remove 238,095 barrels. Most of the oil recovered -- about 632,410 barrels -- was captured directly at the site of the leaking well.

"The numbers are what they are," said BP spokesman Toby Odone. "At some point, we will look back and say why the numbers ended up this way. That's for the future. Right now, we are doing all we can to capture and collect the oil through various methods. We will make sure all the oil is ultimately dealt with."

Its peculiar how Marine Spill Response Corp and National Response Corp websites have nothing to say about DH oil recovery. They are two companies used by BP for oil recovery per filings with MMS.

Rockman, Allen said there were talks about hooking the well up to someone elses existing lines to produce it. He said BP was in talks with people about that.

Have you read that those talks are off now?

Another question. How can anyone know what caused the blow out for sure until they know what that second pipe is in the BOP?

There is also the mysterious disk that they fear might be leaking, has anyone heard what that is?

Q -- I recall such a comment early on but haven't heard anything since. But I don't think there were any pipelines in the immediate vicinity. Even a pipeline just 15 or 20 miles long can take 6 months or more to design, survey and lay. And that's only if you get the feds to wave the 1 year plus permitting process. I think the conversation was more of a speculation than a negotiation...just a guess.

I haven't really paid much attention to the second (drill) pipe section to any great degree. Given the force involved in the explosion it would be no great surprise if the DP where broken and two joints ended up side by side. I've had that happen in wells while just conducting normal drilling ops. The critical question IMHO is when did the DP end up side by side? If the two joints were in the BOP when it was activated it could be the big "get out of jail" card for the BOP maker and BP. I'm pretty sure no BOP has ever been certified or required to cut two sections of DP at the same time. I'm sure BP is looking into this issue very closely.

Thanks Rockman!

But from what you said upstring, Rockman, while that might get the BOP maker off the hook, it wouldnt necessarily speak to the human error that possibly prevented the BP engineer from picking up the "kick" timely, right? Or did I misunderstand that issue?

You got it Eli. I see it as two seperate issues. The BOP failure stands alone regardless of what/who caused the blow out IMHO. I can't varify what was stated early on but supposedly the drill pipe used in DW wells is much tougher than standard drill pipe. And the BOP's were designed to deal with just the standard stuff. That could be a point to hang on the BOP makers and the DW operators. But I doubt the MMS has ever required a BOP to be certified to be able to cut thru two strings of any DP at once. Just MHO but if the BOP failed because it was subjected to circumstances beyond its design specs then there's no fault other than not expecting the unexpected.

But not controlling the well is a completely different matter. I mentioned it before: well kicks happen much more often then the public realizes. Obviously most are controlled without hands dying and rigs exploding.

FWIW, this is a time line on the DWH using public records.

3-10-2009 BP Initial Exploration Plan Mississippil Canyon Block, OCS-G 32306 They originally planned to drill two exploratory wells, Well A and B. Well A to be completed by July 09. Well B to be completed by April 10. Original rig was Marianas.

5-13-2009 - Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig Marianas, Location (Longitude 88.365934), water depth 4992

9-28-09 - Revised Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig Marianas, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992;

10-15-09 - Revised Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig Marianas, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992;

10-21-2009 Application For Permit to Modify - API Well# 6900, Well Name 001, Rig Marianas, Status "Borehole Sidetracked." Permit Type: "Information", Subtype "Surface Location Plat", Date commencing work 10-22-09, Permit Type Information, Status Borehole Sidetracked;

10-29-09 - Revised Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig Marianas, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992;

12-28-09 - Application for Permit to Modify - API 6900, Well 01, Rig Marianas, Date Commencing work 12-28-09, Status Borehole Sidetracked, Permit type: "Other operation" Permit Subtype "Describe Operations";

11-1-09 - Transocean report - unlatched BOP from well head, preparing to pull riser - Shear Rams on Yellow Pod Failure (problems began 28 Oct 09 through 31 Oct 09);

11-1-09 BP email - confirms BOP being pulled and cementing 18" casing. Shear rams cannot be functioned from Yellow Pod. Additionally, lower annular will not close and upper annular was stripped through during a "well control event."

1-12-10 - Revised Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992;

1-25-10 - Revised Application for Permit to Drill New Well - API Well # 6900, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992;

3-10-10 - Application for Permit to Modify - API 6900, Well 01, Rig DWH, Status: "Borehole Sidetracked", Permit Type: "Abandonment of Well Bore", Permit Subtype: "Plugback to Sidterack/Bypass"; Date Commencing 3-10-10;

3-10-10 11:11 am - BP email "We are in the midst of a well control situation . . . and have stuck pipe. We are bring out equipment to begin operations to sever the drillpipe, plugback the well and bypass. . . . The BOP test is due tomorrow. We would like to set the plus after we kill the well and then test the BOPs . .let me know if this is successful"

3-10-10 12:12 pm - BP email - Are there any hydrocarbons being zones below 12,900 feet?

3-10-10 1:57 pm - BP email - We have a partial log over the area below 12,900 that has a 4' stringer that shows some resistivity which has bridged over. We are packed off and unable to circulate through the bit or under reamer, indicating we are packed off above the under reamer. There is no way for us to perforate to put cement across that stringer. With the give and take of the well and hole behavior we would feel much more comfortable getting at least one of the two plus set in order to fully secure the well prior to testing BOPs.

3-10-10 - 3:23 pm BP email - Sorry, we cannot grant a departure on the BOP test further than wen you get the well under control. It is OK to not place a cement plug across the 4 foot stringer since you can't.

3-10-10 - 3:41 pm BP email, I would like to have a conversation with you in the morning to discuss the BOP test. We have major concerns about coming out without getting at least one cement plug set to secure the well. I realize the guidance on BOP test extensions comes from the regional office, but we wanted to discuss with you first . . .

3-10-10 Email BP confirming MMS approval of BOP test extension. After further consideration, an extension is approved to delay the BOP test until the lower cement plus is set. Before testing BOPs, please wait for the cement plug to set up and verify its successful placement by tagging with 15000# pipe weight. Please note the dept of the cement top and BOP test extension in the IADC report

3-12-10 - BP email "verbal approval granted last night to revise the setting depth of the cement plug to 12,150' due to the SCMT/Temp logging tool left in the hole"

3-15-10 - Application for Bypass - API Well # 6901, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992; Kickoff point 11585;

3-25-10 - Revised Application for Bypass - API Well # 6901, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992; Kickoff point 11585;

4-14-10 - Revised Application for Bypass - API Well # 6901, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992; Kickoff point 11585;

4-14-10 - BP email discussing changes to design parameters of well. States "We have flipped design parameters around to the point that I got nervous" but says "all looks fine." Discusses running casing as a long string versus a liner. Apparently, running as a long string was not the original configuration.

4-15-10 - Revised Application for Bypass - API Well # 6901, Well Name 001, Rig - DWH, Location (Lon: 88.365934), Water Depth 4992; Kickoff point 11585;

4-15-10 - BP document - long string is best economically and well integrity case for future completion operations. If liner required, will add $7-$10 million. Goes on to state there have been two lost circulations during this hole section - the second was a "major loss".

4-16-10 Application for Permit to Modify - API 6901, Well 01, Rig - DWH, Status (blank), Permit Type "abandonment of Well Bore", Permit Subtype "Temporary Abandonment"; Date commencing 4-18-10;

4-16-10 - BP email - honor models to go with long string;

4-16-10 - BP email. Still waiting for approval of the departure to set surface plus

4-26-10 Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

4-26-10 Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 002, Rig - TO Development II, Location (Lon: 88.362608), Water Depth 5132;

5-3-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

5-12-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

5-23-10 - Application for Permit to Modify, API 6900, Well 02, Rig T0 II, Type "Relief Well"l, Status (blank); Permit Type - " Abandonment of Well Bore", Permit Subtype "Temporary Abandonment";

**I'm the first to admit I don't understand all this, but this makes me wonder if Relief Well 02 encountered problems and was plugged**

5-24-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

5-30-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

6-2-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 002, Rig - TO Development II, Location (Lon: 88.362608), Water Depth 5132;

6-17-10 Revised Application for Permit to Drill a New Well, Well Name 003, Rig - TO Development III, Location (Lon: 88.362664), Water Depth 5159;

Many of the above documents can be found here at the US Energy Committee:


Transocean initial report on blow out found here (pdf)


Hate to ask, but could you provide better links please? Cheers.


Nice job on the timeline - I haven't seen it anywhere before.

Couple of comments on the interpretation:

- The well was started by the Marianas. Unfortunately, as they got to 4000 ft BML, Hurricane Ida intervened - you'll probably find a bunch of stuff about securing for the storm near early November.
- Marianas got damaged in the storm - enough so that they had to wait on Horizon to take over. Bet some of the "well from hell" stuff started here
- Horizon took over the same hole (hole has not changed - always well A, followed by the sidetrack due to stuck pipe, followed by relief wells)
- After the explosion, they had to temporarily abandon the DD2 relief well - they were poaching it's BOP for the BOP/BOP solution that was abandoned when the well was found to be compromised.

Interesting and poignant: in comments section, Horizon is referred to as "SUNK" even in documents produced before the explosion.

edit - detail - unsubstantiated but believable:
Recent documentation shows that the Marianas arrived at the Macondo site on October 6, 2009. The 18" casing was set on October 31st, and then drilling was stopped to pull the BOP for repairs. Hurricane Ida came through on November 8th during BOP repairs. Electrical wiring damage was subsequently discovered and the Marianas left on November 26th for repairs without even having re-entered the hole. Thus, 26 days on site with no productive drilling operations.

Would that have meant that the BOP on the Marianas would have gone with it and DWH used theirs or would DWH have used the Marianas's BOP?


21 years later.


My thoughts go back again to the Gulf as they have been doing all day, like a moth returning to the same lightbulb over and over even though it gets burned. There is no end in sight for their disaster, which now dwarfs the Exxon Valdez. The ghosts of the Deepwater Horizon and BP have begun with the 11 men lost in the explosion, and the sealife, and the birds, but the ghosts of their future still walk and swim. And I don’t know how we are going to do it, but I know we must change. We play with poison pretending it’s safe, and we risk our own lives, the lives of our children, and the planet as we know it. Fossil fuels are our death sentence – one that we are imposing on ourselves. And we don’t want to stop killing ourselves and our planet because – it’s hard. We’ll have to change. We won’t be able to do things like we used to. It will be inconvenient. It’ll cost a lot of money.

Right now, with my throat still tight and the smell of petroleum still burning my nose, skimming across the waves of this beautiful place that hides its brokenness, having just gazed into that crystal ball for the Gulf, I don’t care what it costs to change. The price of not changing is too high.

Thanks for this link, Iaato. This story is going to stay with me, I can already tell.

FIXED AND TIGHT - repair the oil leck

Come on, gays and girls !

it might be possible
to mount a closure at the defect tube
that holds fixed and tight
even without a screw cap !

take a long inner pipe
fortify it with some crosses inside
protect it with a skin of hard plastic material
and put it into the tube

place an outer pipe about it
and press that together with some monster of brides

but before you drill some holes
for screwing to that thing,
in order that it does not run away
when you are working

or have you got the idea to design
an underwater boring threading machine
in the space of 3 days ?

Trying to add some on-point....levity we have penned a new article on why we think the nefarious J.R. Ewing would make the best "Oil Spill Czar" and do a better job than the current groups in charge.
Thanks for reading and sharing. Comments and ideas are always welcome.

Felix Salmon
Truth and lies in oil-skimming statistics
JUL 6, 2010 10:13 EDT


I posted above that it seems all responsible were ill prepared


US Navy airship en route to assist Gulf oil recovery

It will detect oil, direct skimming vessels and look for wildlife that may be threatened by oil from a mooring three miles (4.8 kilometers) from the Mobile Bay shoreline in Alabama.


Anybody got a hurricane proof home for this thing?

And not only that, snakehead, but I asked (and nobody answered, that I saw) what good are blimps in thunderstorm territory? They show up around here for Daytona Race Week, but that's in February. Never see one in the rainy season.

I think we have prima facie evidence of management by committee. If not, Rube Goldberg's much dumber cousin has been placed in charge of skimmer ops.

Bleeve so, yuh-huh.

Skimming operations are also stopped by storm systems, so the airships limitation would not be a problem. However their extended hovering ability is why they are liked for surveillance and research.

My question to this forum is what is the real cost of bio-fuels? If you take away the corn subsidy then you are at a loss I believe.

If you take away the DDGS you are also at a loss. Distiller's Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) are fed to livestock. This year there was a problem with wet corn getting moldy and having too many toxins, especially vomitoxin in them. Making ethanol doesn't destroy the toxin and in fact concentrates it in the vomitoxin. So some corn had to be rejected by the ethanol plants as they could not sell the resulting DDGS's if they used the moldy corn. Without them they were not able to be profitable. http://www.pig333.com/latest_swine_news/pig_article/2089/usa-vomitoxin-a...
Hogs are particularly susceptible to vomitoxin.

How much this impacted ethanol this year I haven't read yet but it is a limiting factor.

TY but that is not an answer. What is the energy input vs the energy output on bio fuels? Distilling is required so that is a major expense. And alcohol is much less potent then gasoline so transport costs are also incurred.

Sharkman it is. When they figure the ERoEI of corn ethanol they factor the DDGS in as part of the ER - that is the only way they can get a positive ERoEI. At least that is what I remember from other discussion boards years back. Busy cooking sweet corn for dinner. If I find something to back that up I will post it later.

meanwhile a quick search turned up this post by Robert Rapier - just glanced at it - not sure it addresses that but perhaps it will help you. http://iseof.org/node/4208 Gotta eat the sweet corn hot!

TY for the reply Oxi, as a reply, it is a good one. Unfortunately it does make my point. :-(.

Can any geologist or expert tell me what this is showing in this video, as the alarmist swear it's cracks in the Gulf floor leaking oil....any input I would appreciate. Thanks in advance:


Asked and answered many times. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6655 Thanks.

thanks TFHG! I will go look right now...

Not an expert, but it came up a couple of weeks ago. I dont think there was a definitive answer. But the most likely is its part of the DWH and they were checking the status of contamination leaking from the actual wreck.

Run for your life!

You are looking at a cracked piece of wreckage from the rig. When the ROV moves, the movement results from high-powered fans that turn on an off to get the desired movement. The fans create currents, which in this video distrub the material on the seafloor and push it out of the cracked piece of metal. Notice that the seepage only happens right after the ROV moves.

Sorry to re-post.
With all the oil spilling into the Gulf, I had to ask myself if there were any health concerns for the residents of the Gulf. One of the first things I noticed was the presence of benzene in crude oil. Here are some of the things I found out about benzene.
Benzene is known to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence in humans. The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. (http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/eleventh/profiles/s019benz.pdf)
The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood.
But the big questions is about the exposure from an oil spill, not if benzene is toxic. I looked that up and found that during exposure from an oil spill, the initial concentrations can be well over 1 ppm (the safe level as determined by OSHA) but initial concentrations decrease rapidly over time and concentrations should drop below 1 ppm within 6 hours.
That study was looking at single spill event, not a continuing one like the one in the Gulf.
This still makes me wonder if some Gulf residents might be exposed to harmful levels of benzene as 6 hours is plenty of time for the wind to blow the fumes far inland. A 20 MPH wind could blow the fumes 120 miles before the benzene breaks down. Some studies suggest that even parts per billion can cause cancer.
I could not find any data about how dispersant’s might affect the evaporation of benzene, but I did find this, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s approval of BP’s use of oil dispersants to break up unsightly oil slicks could increase levels of carcinogens like benzene in the Gulf’s food chain”.
Needless to say, I would be very concerned for the people working out in the Gulf

mummsie -- guess I qualify as "any geologist". I have no idea what it shows. Could be oil coming from cracks or mud coming from cracks or oil coming from the BOP swirling around the bottom.

Not sure where the alarm would be if it is oil coming from some failed shallow csg. There's a hell of a lot more oil coming out of the BOP than anything the vid might show. If the csg is breached shallow the oil will keep leaking until the WW is killed. Same thing true for the oil coming out of the BOP. Maybe it's some odd coincidence and just another natural seep like the thousands that have been documented for decades in the GOM and just happens to be next the BP BOP. Then that oil will keep leaking out for years after the WW is killed.

The only thing that might get the alarmists jumping off buildings is if they believe the earth has cracked open to 18,000' and the oil/NG is flowing up that way. And if that's what they think I wouldn't begin to try to convince them otherwise. Life is too short.

RM~thanks, this is not my opinion just more of the conspiracy theorist here where I live trying to get everyone to evacuate before the tsunami from the methane gas explodes and wipes out Florida (hmm, that gives me an idea - maybe we should sell them land inland at a huge profit). I'm sure you are right about trying to convince them, but I have friends that see that and are going nuts but they will listen thankfully. I have explained natural seeps already but always like "a qualified geologist" opinion if I can get one.

We had a running bet that Gulf Shores was going to blow up when the fireworks went off on the fourth. We all bet a shot, lost and had to drink. I then rode home on my bicycle in the rain. I am going to check things out on the beach now. I will let you know what the conditions are like. TinFoil.

Thanks mummsie, some one had sent me a link to that video and I hadn't had time to check it out to give them an answer back. This just saved me some time. My non-industry friends often send articles to me to get answers, I cut and paste a lot from TOD as answers.

I had never seen it until a friend sent it to me and I came straight here for answers - obviously I have opinions but not even remotely close to qualified to give my opnion as fact/supposition, copy and paste always works well for me.

I've been ignoring posts about Googles' alleged relationship with BP, but this morning, after searching Google Images and getting this, I went to Bing Images and got this.

The difference is clear. I'm sure others have posted similar results, but like I said, I haven't been paying attention.

So, for anyone out there looking for pics of spillzilla, don't go to Google Images (unless to test it by entering the terms 'pelican bp gulf oil spill' then doing the same at Bing Images).


also noted that on this google page about the spill: http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/oilspill/

the satellite pictures are not updated since late may.

The "current observed spill" map seems ( notwithstanding clouds) to be not corresponding with the sat. image http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/?2010185-0704/Louisiana.A2010...


Who are these guys? They are running all kinds of ads on the radio down here too. I am not discounting it out of hand; I just never heard it before.

Here is Media Matters take on them http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/200909250001

The politicalcorrection.org website make a number of accusations about the other website... saying that they are lying. All the points they say are lies are true. Treehuggers might not like to admit those points are true but they are.

It will give you the info on "who these guys are", or at least their founders, which is what I presumed he was asking. As you probably noted the founders are not listed on their website.

[quote]In fact, lowering levels of carbon dioxide would actually inhibit plant growth and food production."[/quote]

Lowering to what level? Do you believe that if we lower CO2 levels to what they were 100yrs ago that all the plants will not grow?

It's my understanding that more CO2 makes some plants grow more/better, but others do worse. It's a question that plant physiologists are very much interested in, especially when it involves economically important species.

CO2 is Green: More CO2 Results in a Greener Earth
Here is their about page:

An excerpt:

CO2 is Green is a pending 501(C)(4) non-profit organization. Our mission is to support scientifically and economically sound public policy on environmental issues. Currently, we are especially concerned with federal proposals that would interfere with nature's dependence on carbon dioxide (C02).

CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 makes Earth green because it supports all plant life. It is Earth's greatest airborne fertilizer. Even man-made CO2 contributes to plant growth that in turn sustains humanity and ecosystems.

CO2 Is Green is working to insure that all federal laws or regulations are founded upon science and not politics or scientific myths. No one wants the plant and animal kingdoms, including humanity, to be harmed if atmospheric CO2 is reduced.


Description of a 501(c)(4) from Wikipedia:

501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.[19] Unlike 501(c)(3) organizations, 501(c) (4) organizations may lobby for legislation; they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as campaigning is not the organization's primary purpose.[20]

Contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations are not deductible as charitable contributions. 501(c)(4) organizations are not required to disclose their donors publicly.[21] This aspect of the law has led to extensive use of the 501(c)(4) provisions for organizations that are actively involved in lobbying, and has become controversial.[22]

The tax exemption for 501(c)(4) organizations applies to most of their operations, but contributions may be subject to gift tax, and income spent on political activities - generally the advocacy of a particular candidate in an election - is taxable.[23]


CO2 is Green appears to be a political excursion by Natural Resource Partners L.P. dressed up as a sciencey concern about the environmental impact of their business.

Natural Resource Partners L.P. (NRP) is a master limited partnership that is principally engaged in the business of owning and managing coal properties, and coal handling and transportation infrastructure...

NRP's VP, general counsel and secretary is Wyatt Hogan.

Contact information for the non-profit entity is Wyatt Hogan.

Could be different people, but the mailing address for both is 601 Jefferson St Ste 3600, Houston.

Edit: I see that all of this information is in the Media Matters post, which I would have noticed had I scrolled down far enough on first read.

Why would the coal industry be lobbying spill victims? Electric coal fueled cars? Surely we are not that stupid. Scrap Cap & Trade? Use the victims for help? I know I am jumping to conclusions, but I state so and ask for input into my critical thought process.

Beats me, TFHG. Maybe a chess move to push for coal-to-liquids? Contrasting the dangers of deep water oil production (or hatred of BP anyway) that is now front and center for millions of people along the GoM coast with "Hey, look at us! Coal, the other green fuel! We don't spit out nearly as much sulfur as we used to and besides all the plants need the CO2!"

More speculation... I suspect it's just coincidence and they aren't targeting anyone, just buying ads in different markets at different times based on many factors and you happened to catch a slew of them. I've noticed this with radio ads in the past. La-de-da, going through life, dum-de-dum, and then all of a sudden I'm inundated with ads telling me I really really really need to buy some Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

P.S. Thanks for the pics you post here. Much appreciated.

That is the same address as Quintana Minerals Corporation, which used family oil money to buy Appalachian coal rights. Surprise, surprise.

The cap is raising and lowering a lot and twisting. Lot's of oil gushing out but I am sure the collection totals will run the same as yesterday and the day before.


Yeah, seas were over 9' at mid-afternoon. It doesn't take that much to bounce the cap.

Not sure if your comment means you doubt the figures but if you want more information the DoE posts the logs from the Discoverer Enterprise every few days.


Look for "Oil and Gas Flow Data from the Top Hat and from the Choke Line (.xls)" for a spreadsheet showing recovery data at 15 minute intervals. The flow meters are monitored by 3rd parties and the volumes offloaded are also confirmed so this should be good data.

Incidentally, for those interested, they post the API gravity. I did a quick parse and found the average is API 38.4 with a range from 36 to 40. For the first few days (June 4 to 9) it averaged API 37.6 and has gradually drifted up so the latest days (July 1 to 5) it averaged API 39.2. GOR for July has been about 2,200.

Shelburn:I think(if I calculated it correctly) the GOR from the Helix production is higher than the GOR from the cap. Could it mean that the fluid from the pipe inside the riser has a lower GOR than that from the riser (and choke kill lines)? The drill pipe fluid would act to lower the over all GOR reported by the Enterprise. How does this fit with your thoughts regarding flow? I remember your post regarding what might have happened to overall rate after top kill and then after riser curt due to drill pipe flow.

Some wild speculation.

After they cut the riser it was apparent there was a substantial amount of oil coming from the cut off drill pipe even though it appears partially smashed. That flow looks like it is a slightly different composition and color than the flow from the riser. It also seems to be flowing at a higher velocity.

The drill pipe is supposed to be down as much as 3,000 feet below the BOP so that oil may be drawing from a different level than the flow coming from the riser and the flow going to the Q4000.

I would guess the difference in elevation and pressure between the bottom end of the drill pipe and the BOP might act a bit like a separator vessel and the GOR at the BOP might be higher than the GOR at the bottom of the drill pipe.

If we assume the flow in the riser and the flow to the Q4000 are essentially the same with the same GOR but the drill pipe has a lower GOR then the combined recovery at the Discoverer Enterprise would be lower than the GOR going to the Q4000 which would not have any flow from the drill pipe.

As I said a WAG.

Edit for typos

Deepwater Cementing Consideration to Prevent Hydrates Destabilization
F. Tahmourpour, Halliburton
On behalf of Dr. Kris Ravi, Halliburton
November 18, 2009, Houston

Excerpt from the presentation:

• Shallow water flow may occur during or after cement job
• Under water blow out has happened
• Gas flow may occur after a cement job in deepwater environments that contain major hydrate zones.
• Destabilization of hydrates after the cement job is confirmed by downhole cameras.
• The gas flow could slow down in hours to days if the destabilization is not severe.
• However, the consequences could be more severe in worse cases.

Not sure of why you posted this. It doesn't apply here. The well was cemented at 18,000', well below any hydrate zones.

Maybe they created a deep hydrate zone by pumping sea water into the well?


Methane hydrates are believed to form by migration of gas from depth along geological faults, followed by precipitation, or crystallization, on contact of the rising gas stream with cold sea water.


Slide 9 of the presentation shows an illustration that depicts the Base Hydrate Stability Zone at roughly 3300 metres below the sea floor. What am I missing here?

The illustration is attributed to:
Hardage, B., Roberts, H. 2006. Gas Hydrate in
the Gulf of Mexico. What and Where is the
Seismic Target? The Leading Edge. May.

What you are missing is that the 3,300m is from the water surface. He seems to be showing about 500 meters from seabed until hydrates will not form due to the geothermal gradient.

There are some interesting photos in this presentation of hydrate mounds and oil seeps to the NNW of the gusher.

Check out slides 22, 23 and 24.

Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium's Semi-Annual Meeting
The HYFLUX Project: Overview of Results from MC118 and other Gulf Hydrate Sites
Ian MacDonald

That's why BP is developing "backups for the backups." But the British company is sparse on details, and even the ideas it is floating can't guarantee the blown-out well won't keep flowing into the fall – or perhaps even beyond.

Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president, said other options include trying to reconfigure the existing containment cap to collect more of the spewing oil or tying it into another production platform on the surface. However, Wells has been mum on a game plan, and he said no decisions have been made on the alternate platform idea.

Engineers and oil industry experts say that if the heavy mud BP plans to pump into the existing well from underneath at its source doesn't stop the flow, it should at least reduce the pressure that is forcing oil so fast into the sea.

A reduction in pressure could give BP the option of putting a new blowout preventer on top of the one that was damaged in the April 20 explosion. That was a containment option BP considered early on but hasn't tried because of the risk posed by pressure from the seafloor.


or tying it into another production platform on the surface.

Looks like it is still on the table.


I must apologize. Often I can be unclear. When I post a question like the 'CO2 is green' guys you can assume I went to their site and looked around good, pulled a whois, dns, route, SEC, and BBB records. I also do a news search and a wiki search. I appreciate all the info but so much that is not there or misleading. I come to trace it from the other end. News reports are good, verifiable second hand can be ok, verifiable first hand is better. Printed information is better than eyewitness. Video can be good if context and actual video is good..... Deddancer link that had a 'take' on it was good. Thanks. Keep going just remember, less is more unless like me you were unclear. Sorry.

Some response to "Oil Whoopers"


Unfortunately they are only refuting politically based BS and they haven't addressed any fear mongering such as giant exploding methane bubbles, tsunamis, massive subsea pools of oil, BOP falling over, oil rain, etc.

Snopes is also not debunking except for a "email" dealing with Chevron, but I assume because neither are oil/gas experts.

I read over the weekend that the government guaranteed a 1.45 billion dollar loan for the construction of a thermal solar power plant, in Arizona, rated at 280 megawatts. I presume that this is 280,000 KWh. It seems that a barrel of crude oil contains the equivalent of 1,642 KWh. Thus the plant supplies the electrical equivalent of about 170 barrels of crude oil. Turning this around, at 33% efficiency converting oil to electricity, this is the equivalent of building an oil-fired generator that would consume 510 bbl/day of crude, but would yield no GHGs. Assuming a 30 year lifespan, this is a cost to build and fuel a plant that would consume less that 2 million barrels in 30 years. A power plant and 2 million barrels of production for 1.45 billion dollars? All this cost to avoid GHGs? And the plant covers 1900 acres.


Is my math right? I hope not!

Edit: 510 bbl/day is 5.6 million barrels over 30 years. My first of what I expect is more errors!

damn, now I'm going to have to read more on use of molten salt as a power storage medium to bank up to six hours worth of electricity.

No your math is not right. Your math is off by a mere factor of 1000. Watts and watt-hours are not the same thing. A kilowatt is 1000 watts. A megawatt is 1,000,000 watts.

Nope, your math isn't right.

The plant's power output is rated in megawatts. The energy content you give for a barrel of oil is in KWh = kilowatt hours. 1 kilowatt hour is equal to a power of 1 kilowatt sustained for 1 hour; conversely, you can think of 1 kilowatt as being 1 KWh/hour.

So basically, for your calculation you'd have to take 280*10^9 * / 1642*10^3 * 3 to calculate equivalent barrels burned per day. If you assume 8 hours/day this corresponds to 4000 barrels per day.

Also, if you really want to fairly judge the costs of this plant you have to consider (a) the costs of constructing a 280 MW oil-fired plant, and (b) the cost of fuel. [Hint: 4000 bbl/day * $80 / bbl * 30 years * 365 days = 3.5 billion dollars.] Of course it's way oversimplified to simply consider total costs of operation rather than present value, but you get the picture... the comparison you make is an unfair one even after the math errors are corrected.

Good! I was running these numbers and the costs did not look competitive at all. This makes moving off oil look much better. Also, in effect, the 1.45 billion includes the fuel stock (sun).


I can't edit my post, so the expression should have been

280*10^9 * [number of hours operated/day] / 1642*10^3 * 3

Also, this is taking your numbers for granted and correcting the math only.

280 MW means 280,000 KWh per hour. If the plant produces that much electricity for ten hours a day it'll replace something like 50 million barrels of oil in 30 years, for a break-even equivalent of $29 per barrel of oil. This power rating is probably a peak rating rather than what the plant can produce all day long and the 33% estimate for efficiency of an oil-fired power plant is a little bit low. This plant will still look good while oil prices are where they are today.

The good thing about solar electric generation in Arizona is that it makes the most electricity at the time that people need the most air conditioning.

Yeah, I just blew my numbers when I didn't realize that I had to account for the time the plant operated. If it generates 280 MW for ten hours, the plant produced 2,800,000 KWh for the day. The economics work out much better.


The downside is that the Solana power plant will use a lot of water for cooling...a problem in a desert environment..the mitigating rational is that it is less water than would be used for agriculture.....No free lunch for energy production

The plant produces 280,000 KW. That's 280,000 x 24 KWH/day or 6,720,000 KWH/day assuming a 24 hr duty cycle. It may be 1/3 that since it's solar, or not depending on the molten salt storage and how it is used.

JEA in Jacksonville, FL is an interesting power plant for your kind of research. Instead of building power plants, they are purchasing power from other plants. I don't know how much Uncle Sam contributed to both current solar and future nuclear. The current cost is from my personal 4/15/10 electric bill and includes all fees and taxes.
JEA customer charge for 3000MW from coal/oil: $.127 per kilowatt (before solar)
JEA cost of 15MW power from online solar farm: $.158 per kilowatt
JEA cost of 206MW power from 2016 Plant Vogtle nuclear plant: $.083 per kilowatt

Is my math right?

Here's one error:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071014210223AA8sTVx 17 kwh per gallon of oil. = 714kwh per barrel

Not 1,642 kwh per barrel

So that makes final answers (with correct math) for solar even appear twice as good.

I think there is a mistake in your basic information. I believe the USDE estimated breakeven for large solar thermal power is about $0.25/kw and about 90% is the build costs. Your basis seems to be about $0.075/kwh based on 7.5 sunlight hours per day.

That's a better return than a new coal fired plant.

Could be the loan is only a part of the build cost.

The 170 barrels at 33% would 510 barrels per hour - at 7.5 hours per day of sunlight would be 3,825 bpd or about 42 million barrels in 30 years for a saved fuel cost of $3.1 billion at today's cost. Actually I think the efficiency of a large oil fired steam plant would be better. 280 MG of 2 MW diesel generators would burn about 3,500 barrels in 7.5 hours.

With those numbers I want to invest in this power plant!

As a practical matter, oil is not used to produce electricity. The new plant will replace natural gas or coal use in existing power plants. (Arguably, it might help prevent the need to build a new natural gas power plant, but with existing high capacity for gas fired power plants, this is debatable.) The cost of the natural gas or coal fuel component of electricity is something on the order of 5 cents per kWh.

This is usually the part of the comparison that doesn't work well.

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