BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Starting to Change the Cap - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6717.

This weekend, BP is carrying out two steps that will move the process of reducing the oil flow, and killing the well further forward. In fact, should the new sealing cap be placed over the well by Monday, then, with the new connections that are then to be made, there may well be no more oil flowing into the Gulf from shortly after that new collection system becomes fully effective.

There are two parts to the process. The more immediate part, that would have been in place, except for the bad weather, is the connecting of the flow from the kill ports on the blowout preventer (BOP) to the floating riser and the Helix Producer. At the same time the old riser section is being removed from the top of the well. At the moment (9:15 pm Saturday evening) the ROVs from the Ocean Intervention are working on continuing to loosen the bolts on the riser flange. The box to the left has just been brought to the riser by Ocean Intervention ROV2, and this view is from ROV1. (Skandi ROV1 also appears to be monitoring the operation).

UPDATE: 1. The broken riser and flange were removed at about 3:00 am, and thanks to sunnv , the video can be found on Youtube.

UPDATE 2. At 1 pm (Eastern) Sunday the transition spool is being lowered into position, I am watching through BOA ROV 1 .

UPDATE 3. At 3 pm the transition spool was set into place, and at present (7:30 pm Eastern) the bolts attaching it to the underlying flange appear to be still being tightened. The next step, I believe, is to lower the Lower Capping stack into place, and lock it into place. It will be lowered on a rigid riser from a drillship.

The view from ROV1 also shows, intermittently, one of the two pipe segments inside the riser.

Kent Wells has described the process that is being carried out, noting that as the testing of the new cap proceeds, once it is installed, it might be possible to shut the well in.

The flex joint has been straightened and blocked into place, and is aligned with the BOP. And the cap itself is a much more complex structure than had originally been discussed. It will also be installed in a number of stages, and I will use Kent Wells' illustrations and comments to walk through this.

The first step, in the installation process was the alignment of the flex joint and the removal of the old cap. The second (currently ongoing) is the unbolting of the old flange. There are 6 bolts to be removed, shown in this illustration as well as above:

There are a couple of tools that have been developed to split the two halves of the flange after the bolts have been removed – the initial one will be fielded from the Inspiration drillship, and will fit around the flange, so that the top segment can be just lifted off.

This will expose the two segments of drill pipe that are sticking out of the BOP, and so these will then be strapped together, so that they will fit within the transition spool. A guide shoe and positioning pins will be used to help lower this in place, and then the ROVs will bolt the 12 ft flange transition spool (the yellow segment) to the top of the old BOP.

The 18-ft Lower Capping stack will now be lowered, on drill pipe, to fit on top of the transition spool. It sits on the HC connector, and is fitted with rams to control or stop the flow, and connectors that will allow feed of the oil to the different risers that will carry it from the well to the surface vessels.

The capping stack has a perforated pipe at the top, and initially oil and gas will issue from that pipe, once the stack is locked in place.

At the moment there is some doubt as to whether the fixtures on the top of the well, and the well itself, can hold pressure. In other words if they seal off the well, will the internal pressure rupture one of the casings or the BOP. With the capping stack, with its control rams in place, the well can be gradually shut-in, while pressure and strains in the system are monitored. The flows can possibly be reduced, diverted to the surface vessels, or even, if the results are favorable, even completely shut down.

There is an animation of the process, that was put together to allow the teams who will be doing this, to be trained in the assembly of the system. BP currently projects that it is going to take 4 – 7 days.

And at the moment, the Ocean Intervention ROV2 is cleaning off the side of the flange, so that the joint can be seen. (The wire brush is rotating so you can’t see the strands).

And at this stage, it looks as though they have the bolts loosened - vide the one above the brush, and these below, which appear partly backed out and thus we may already be waiting for the separation tool to come down and remove the old riser. Then the transition spool (under the BOA ROV control) will be moved into place.

We will wait and see how this unfolds as the day progresses.

Prof. Goose's comment:

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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This is not to say that well considered questions about current attempts and modifications to those attempts are not welcome; they are. But try to place them in context and in what's actually going on, as opposed to your MacGyver dream solution where you have a 10 megaton bomb, an ice pick, and Commander Spock at your side.

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I would have thought that the crimping would add enough pressure to dislodge the flange. Good thing is that they have two contingency plans so that will not be a factor. Or is the off center pressure binding the pins? They are tooled up so it will be OK no doubt.

How ugly could the flow become if the flange removal releases the stuck drill pipe? Would that increase the flow?

We really appreciate your excellent coverage of the Gulf oil spill.

In the lessons learned column, undergraduate fluid mechanics (taught it for the past 50 years) emphasizes the fact that changing the direction of the flow where the riser pipe crimped just above the BOP caused a reaction force opposite to the flow momentum change in addition to throttling the flow rate. (Attempts to saw off the full diameter riser just above the BOP were bound to fail.)

Why did BP not consider shearing off the riser just beyond the bend and then fitting a cap on this restricted flow riser? If the first capping attempt failed, the reduced flow in the crimped riser would have greatly reduced the flow rate issuing from the BOP while another attempt was made. I'm curious why I never found this discussed in my frequent reads of this excellent blog.

The bend was leaking hugely and getting worse with erosion.

The bend was still acting like a nozzle partially open. So you would rather not leak at 5000 bpd in an erosion situation but open it up to 50k bpd? If it is true that all the pressure drop was through the BOP, why is it gushing at a much higher flow rate now?

50 years. Long time to teach undergraduate fluid mechanics.

I think they already knew the throttle point was in the BOP and there was minimal pressure drop around the bend.

Apologies if this has already been covered ... but why are there TWO segments of drill pipe expected across the BOP?

Some say that bop sheer was engaged twice, some say that the blow-out caused it. I vote for #2. Rockman would have the definitive reply.

sharkey - I definitively don't have any proof. OTOH I've had drill pipe part a number of times just during normal ops let alone during such a violent kick. And ended up with two joints side by side in the csg string. Somethimes the simple answer is the best.

I believe it has been said that a piece from the riser had fallen down into the BOP when the rig fell over.

Lots of speculation, but nobody knows why there are two pipes, but thre they are. Two have been seen, both within the BOP via gamma-ray, and in the section of riser that was cut off the top of the LMRP some time ago and subsequently lifted from the seafloor and taken to New Orleans.

I hope someone has confirmed that those two sections of drill pipe are held securely in position. It would be a shame for one of them to come loose, rise up, and jam the new BOP stack.

The direct answer to why they are EXPECTED, is because some people from a government funded research laboratory SAW them using a gamma/xray camera. No one yet knows for sure HOW they got there. But they are expected because they have been detected using gamma radiation. It may still turn out to be that they are not there after all. But don't hold your breath waiting for a different result.

They could have done this with in days after the accident, and anyone who believe differently is a fool.

The robots have preformed much more difficult tasks, and that pipe flange has been there from the start.

The worst of this disaster could have been avoided, if they had just bolted a new riser to that flange months ago.

Please explain how they could have done this days after the accident if they have spent the last couple of months building it. Please specify the more difficult tasks that ROVs have performed. Please explain how how oil and gas would not have blasted straight up a new riser and blown up the ship/rig installing it.


They could have just burned the oil at the top, and continued doing that until sufficient production capacity was available. A controlled burn would not require special flares or anything other than a valve and normal pipe fittings. See the previous thread for discussion of the objections to this solution.

They've been more collection limited, than cap limited, and that large stack of equipment shown above, was not 'just sitting at the docks'.

barnbilt - I agree 100%

I have yet to hear why a new riser was not bolted on. They have performed more complex operations than that in the past. They have the equipment to run a new riser to the bop.

They have everything they need to remove the bent/broken riser, bolt on a section of wide open valve, then gradually close that valve. Come on!!!!!!!!!

Not rocket surgery.

I'm sure this will be dismissed off hand by the techies here as over simplified...."you just don't understand...bla bla bla" I'm certain it is difficult but no one has explained why they didn't do the MOST obvious thing and bolt on a wide open valve, then close that valve.

Unless the well is critically compromised.

What does the BOP do? Close off the flow. You have slice valves, or gate valve, ball valve... come on!!!!!!

Why don;t they just say that they can not close off the flow because ...............???????

It's like they are standing by the door and coming up with a barrage of reasons why they can't close it...none of which makes any sense. How effing stupid are we?

There are a half dozen ways of cutting off the collapsed riser, (which they finally did after a month or so), there a half dozen ways of unbolting the connection, (which they are doing months later), theres a half dozen off the shelf valves that could be bolted on to shut off the flow or connect to a new riser,(which they are now doing months later) but noooooo.

Instead of swinging the door shut first we are going to try and rotate the house 45 degrees on the axis of the hinges.

But we are not supposed to ask why the obvious is not done...we are only supposed to be awed with the technology of deep sea wells.

eeyore and barnbilt,

The simple answer to your question is: Yes, they could have, IF they had planned ahead, which they obviously did not.

Now we're finally getting the "worst-case scenario" equipment on site, that was never designed or manufactured beforehand, b/c it would appear that the BP bean-counters, in their arrogance (or ignorance), may have decided to play it fast and loose, while attempting to save money. JMO

I think barnbilt has on of those Deloren cars like in Back to the Future, so he can go back in time and start engineering and construction on something we learned we needed in the present.:)

It has been explained repeatedly.

It is an obvious solution and they had it underway early.

The valve (a second BOP) was loaded on the drill ship in addition to its own BO
P that was to drill the second relief well. That ship started its well then moved off station in preparation for bolting on the second BOP.

Then top kill failed and they came out of the experience fearing that the casing was compromised sub-surface. A In which case closing the valve could have created a worse blowout- one outside the pipe.

The idea was abandoned and the drill ship returned to drilling the relief well..

So, I must understand that we are very lucky that the first BOP dit not work?

BOP is Blow Out Preventer with the emphasis on prevent. Once the blow out had taken place the game was changed. The longer it ran the worse the likely situation. If the BOP had been operated successfully before the blow out finally happened then there may have been less damage and not the potential issues we have now. So maybe we would not have needed that luck.


Winners make their own luck; losers curse theirs.

Yes, they could have captured all the oil within days, and it would not have required unbolting the flange. They could have moved a new riser pipe close to the leaking end of the old riser, then slowly tightened a sleeve around the two ends.

Looks to me that they were completely surprised by the methane hydrate problem, or they would have had some gates on top of the original cap to let the hydrates out. Slowly closing the gates would have the same effect as slowly tightening a sleeve. The hydrates can't form if there is no water in the coupling to the new riser.

Everything since then has been one bad design after another. It's as if the politicos who run BP are coming up with these designs, then ordering the engineers to make their ideas work, instead of letting the engineers plan it from the start.

they could have captured all the oil within days

They could have moved a new riser pipe close to the leaking end of the old riser, then slowly tightened a sleeve around the two ends.


In the first days most of the leakage was coming from a crimp in the riser where it bent when the DH sank. There was no end to fit a sleeve over. That came much later when the "claw" was used to slice the riser. Cutting the riser was a very controversial move because it reduces the restrictions in flow resulting in more oil coming out of the pipe.

Everything looks simple in hindsight. During the first few days of this accident the priority was to try to activate the BOP which unfortunately didn't work out. Go back and look at the history of the various attempts to contain the spill.

Criticisms that BP was not prepared are justifiable. Criticisms of the post accident response are not justifiable - the talent assembled and resources made available are first rate, and they are doing as much as possible with limited information in unprecedented circumstances with the world looking over their shoulder.

What I saw in those first videos was a lot of oil coming out the torn end of the riser pipe. But in any case, they should have been ready when they did decide to cut the riser.

I understand that things look simpler in hindsight. We can each have our own opinion as to whether these simple solutions are "hindsight only", or something any engineer with common sense would figure out.

I believe you are right as to the level of talent and resources BP is focusing on this task. That makes me hesitate to say they are screwing up. It makes me listen carefully to what you and other experts are saying. It does not make me abandon my common sense.

I am encouraged that others on this forum share some of my common sense.

If you recall, they were ready with several different cap designs when the riser was cut.

You said you were an engineer. You must then appreciate that without a detailed knowledge of the situation it is possible to come up with all sorts of simple ideas that look like they would work well but in fact would be a disaster. It may look like some if these ideas are common sense. In reality they are false hopes because they are based on incomplete understanding of the constraints on the system.

Understood. I'm still listening for any plausible reasons why the oil couldn't be burned at the surface. Until then, I am 90% confident I am right.

BP could eliminate all this uncertainty by answering a few questions.

So you would burn at the surface while collecting oil from the process ship? You don't think a controlled flare is dangerous enough? Really? Maybe you should ask who in their right mind would work in a burn like that? Any of you would like to work that ship in a burning pool of oil? I guess the sight of the horizon burning didn't bother you?

put some subsea pipeing in, do a freestanding riser/hose up to a spar buoy like flare pipe, away from the rest of the activity, and torch it off.

maybe the spar buoy has multiple pipes to keep the flow velocity up, so the gas will entrain the oil.

Also, a simple pelton wheel in the side will power a generator to keep sparks going during a hurricane and a pump to spray water on the thing to keep it from melting too soon.

Have a couple of these, with quick-change fittings so they can be swapped out and re-paired during intervals between storms/too much melting.

They were burning oil at the surface. Didn't you read about the Coast Guard doing controlled burns?

Of course you have to do it a safe distance from the various ships and drilling platforms involved in the effort, which does restrict where you can burn, and weather conditions need to be favorable, but this was part of the process from the beginning.

Are you confusing common sense with selective reasoning? It seems you really are ignoring most of the physics involved with this problem. You should head down there and tell them your common sense is far more accurate then engineering principle and physics. Cheryl, we need you!

See Wikipedia for a sketch of the proposed sleeve. There is a collection of other ideas there also. Anyone who would like to join me in writing an article for Wikipedia, please follow that link.

Yes, they could have captured all the oil within days, and it would not have required unbolting the flange. They could have moved a new riser pipe close to the leaking end of the old riser, then slowly tightened a sleeve around the two ends.

No, they cannot.. If you just bolt a new riser to the bop and try to produce the oil/ng, there is no control on the flow of oil/NG going up the riser..i.e. if it exceed the capacity of the drill ship processing the oil/NG mix, you are going to bring down another drill ship.. In the LMRP, they have vent that open to release the oil/ng. And if you remember they were never able to close all the vents. And that is because the production capability on the surface is not enough. In this iteration, they have valves that can direct the flow of oil to different drill ships (and I am sure they have emergency valve that will release oil/NG if it exceed some critical pressure).

And this would have accomplished exactly what?

The previous system was capturing all the oil they were able to process.

They didn't even have enough processing capacity to enable them to close the vents on that cap.

I think this guy forgot NO ONE knew the condition of the BOP or casings below sea floor. So quickly people like to re-write history! Without that kill attempt they had no idea what that BOP would handle pressure wise.

Agreed. Cutting the riser was a risky move. Still, they should have been ready to collect all the oil when the did decide to cut it. This would not even require unbolting the flange.

Wow, you really should read the time line of what happened. That is what the top hat was, it collected all the oil they could up until yesterday.

WRB, see the discussion in the previous thread re burning the oil until sufficient production capacity is in place.

There has been no indication that the previous cap wasn't capable of capturing effectively all the oil.

The most likely reason for the switch it to be able to use top pressure as part of the kill.

It took them weeks to set up the Q4000 to flare. Turns out they badly underestimated the capacity needed. So they then set to work to hook up a third ship, which is now ready.

You think they've been purposely delaying despite the billions in fines for which they are liable as a result of the delay?

The one possible alternative I can see is simply abandoning work at the well, pulling the ships off, and lighting a giant torch at the surface. How far away the relief well drill ships would have had to have been for safety and what delay might have resulted would then be a question.

What about all of the oil spilling out under the cap? Is there evidence that it was a negligible amount?

It was spilling out because they had it throttled bak at the top because they had no more flaring/processing capacity

OK that makes sense. We had different definitions of "capable".

I guess nobody is reading our previous discussion on burning the oil, so here is a summary. I suggested that they run a pipe to carry the excess oil to a barge 500 feet away from the ship where it is currently being processed, and it could be safely burned. There were several objections:
1) The fire is too hot. It will melt the metal.
2) The parts to build another flare aren't readily available.
3) It would not be safe to burn without a properly-designed flare. I assume this includes heat, risk of explosion, and smoke inhalation.
4) There would be objections from environmentalists concerned about air pollution.

My responses:
1) The fire isn't hot enough to melt metal. It will weaken steel, but not melt it. If necessary, line the edge of the barge with cement.
2) We have an emergency situation here. Use ordinary, readily available pipe and connectors.
3) The heat would be no worse than what is currently coming off the flare attached to the processing ship. 500 feet extra distance should be quite enough. The smoke will go straight up most of the time. If wind conditions are bad, shut off the flow to the barge, and move it downwind. As for the pipe exploding, don't let air get into it. Submerge the outlet whenever the flow is shut off.
4) Let the governors of the gulf states make the choice - oil on your beaches, or air pollution 50 miles offshore.

That is what they are doing. The Q400 is the "barge they hooked up. It took some weeks to build the flaring equipment and connect and run the pipe.

It proved to have inadequate capacity. So they built another connection and brought in the Helix producer. You aren't suggesting anything that isn't being done.

In retrospect maybe it would have been better to pull everyone out and flare the whole thing at the surface. But without benifit of hindsight no one knew that top kill would fail or that BP would repeatedly underestimate the flow and bring in inadequate flaring/processing economy.

The Q400 is not a barge. What I mean is a low, flat floating platform with sides sufficient to contain a few inches of oil. It has no engine, and no personnel on board. It's sole purpose is to contain and burn off whatever oil cannot be properly processed by other ships. Yes, I know, there would have to be some way to tether it to other ships. Use your imagination.

Let's keep in mind the objective. We need a way to temporarily get rid of excess oil, while all the proper processing facilities are being built. Just letting it gush out at the bottom of the ocean is not a good choice.

regardless of the technical issues involved, I have to agree that the current procedure is suboptimal, no offense to the smart, talented people working on this. Appreciate folks like you for coming up with ideas, and pointing out the obvious flaws with the existing process.

Not an awful idea as long as it was far enough away and their was no possibility of setting the sea afire.. Maybe some miles. I can see the reasonableness of being resistant to trying something untested that involves fire in the midst What would make attaching and rigging this barge any faster than than attaching the Helix Producer, which already has connectors and plumbing in place?

If their was a shortage of processing ships it might be a different. But there isn't. There has been a failure to recognize the size of the spill and plan for it. The Helix Producer was offered in the first weeks after the spill started. BP didn't think they needed the capacity.

Again, this is a solution to the wrong problem

I do understand that the main problem here is not technology, but human factors. Still, I believe engineers have a responsibility to do more than provide systems that will work if everyone does their job. If we want to drill a thousand wells with less than one in a thousand chance of disaster over a period of thirty years, we need to anticipate human failures, and do what we can to compensate for those failures in our designs.

Or maybe some of us have read and participated in the earlier discussion, think your ideas are nuts, but realize that you're going to continue to think you know the answer and if only people had listened to you we'd all be happy now.

It's pretty clear that your own estimation of your own engineering skills and physical intuition is so much different than (for example) my estimate of those skills that there's really no point in arguing. And since your continued posting will only hurt or benefit you it seems best to stay out of it.

Except for this post of course :).

can't just light it off at the surface,
the release is too deep, so the oil is too dispersed,
and much of the gas is dissolved in the water.

They needed to go with floating/freestanding risers ASAP.

They should have hot-tapped the old riser:
1st, where it was easy - near the end, away from the wellhead so other ships can look at the BOP, but up a slight elevation so they could cement in the broken riser end.

2nd, between the kink and the top of the BOP, once they figured out that the BOP was broken. This would have taken a custom machined saddle to deal with the deformed pipe, but do-able. This relieves pressure on the kink.

Then, with enough taps below the kink, one can CNC machine a saddle/patch for the kink to reinforce the kink.
Then clamp that down, and there - riser is sealed.

Want more? Afraid of the torque on the BOP from the riser?
then wedge some customer machined wedges into the kink from a port in the hot taps using remote endoscopic manipulators, inject some sealant, and then CRAW the riser above the kink.

I claim all of the above would have taken less time than what they've done, particularly sealing things up with hot-taps and a kink saddle/patch.

Good ideas, sunnnv. There must be many ways to skin the cat. I wish BP execs could think like this, or trust the people who do.

As someone who has done a fair bit of cat-skinning on an old 46-A D-8, I can tell you there are lots of ways to skin a Cat! I was told early on to think and not move the dirt twice, if you can help it. Sometimes a feller just can't. Sure glad most of you folks around here are learned. I can't offer engineering solutions as far as this collection effort goes. Or the relief wells. Wouldn't want to. It just seems, looking back over the years, it was sometimes hard to actually build what the engineers designed. Heck, dont forget us peons are the ones that gotta get it built or installed. Big gap there sometimes. What do I know..... this aint some engineering football game we are watching here. Havin beers and .....well, you know.

The most likely reason for the switch it to be able to use top pressure as part of the kill.

No, it is not.. Please check with Adm Allen previous briefing.. He mentioned quite a few times why BP change the cap.. It may help the kill process but the primary reason is that they want to be able to process all the oil without any leaking to the sea. And they also want the redundency (if one of the processing ship is in trouble) and ability to grow the capacity (up to 80Kbbl a day)...

Yeah, hindsight is wonderful. But, they did not have benefit of hindsight, so... Here's how things went...

1. Rig catches fire, crashes to the ocean floor a day or two later.
2. Undersea examination begins in earnest.
3. Attempts to close the various valves and determine if the BOP was fully functional take quite some time.
4. Pulled in crews and additional ROV's begin the process of trying to determine how much oil is leaking, and what is damaged.
5. Eventually, it is determined that the BOP cannot be further activated or closed.
6. ROV's attempt to unbolt sections of the riser. Fail.
++++ Top kill fails ++++
7. The big nipper comes down and eventually, they cut off the riser.
8. Wire saw to cut off the remainder of the riser is tried, fails.
9. Big nipper eventually is used to chop off the remainder of the riser.
10. Big collection hood failed, it clogged.
11. Several small collection caps are designed, one eventually installed.
12. ROV brings down improvised tool and finally is able to turn a bolt on the riser flanges.
13. Period of time passes while flow apparently increases slowly and ever increasing efforts to capture flow continue to be deployed. More ships brought in, conversion to processing is undergone, flares installed, etc.
14. Flow is more accurately determined, along with pressures, gives reasonably good confidence in well's composition and flow capacity, along with downhole pressures.
15. collection hood is removed, chopped flange is removed, and new valve package - probably started back around event 12 - is readied to bolt on, special one-off design to enable installation on producing wellhead under deep water conditions, and now appears to be underway.

AT no point before #12 was it determined to be assured possible to put a new riser on top of the one down there now.

So, please, let's not get all short sighted and start shouting stuff that's NOT true and NOT accurate.

With regards to #12 -- loosening the bolts -- has it been determined that no tool existed till recently that could have removed the bolts? It's hard to believe that the need to do so wasn't foreseen well before this disaster -- or that a tool couldn't have been quickly developed.

Well, early on in this endeavor they tried various tools and approaches for around three days before they could finally get a single bolt removed. They came back later with improved tools. That is one reason that a number of posters here said earlier that they doubted the riser stub flange could be removed.

I remember watching those attempts. I was astonished at the difficulty they had. In the overall scheme of things, that doesn't seem like it should be the hard part.

I don't see much shouting, but I do see a lot of ad-hominem attacks. I don't mind blunt language, as that often leads to a better understanding of an issue. The best thing to do with ad-hominem posts is ignore them. If the poster has a valid point, it can be re-stated in a separate post.

So all of the studs are now removed, and it seems that Cameron have not designed a bevel on the flanges to enable the flange splitters wedge to easily locate and drive the flanges apart?

Good point, why not have a universal interface(Flange) for fault situations? It boggles my mind as I think they now have them for submarines and have had them since some other deep water accidents,

How can we improve things if everything needs to be universally backward compatible?

You raise a good point about Universal interfaces, what about the stub the BOP connects to, are they Universal fittings, can BOP be replace with a BOP from a different manufacturer.

Of course my point about flanges is FOS because they do have a standard and are using it now with the new cap. But perhaps the standard should be easier to latch onto then the a 6 bolt flange.

Maybe this new connection they are installing might become that mechanism.


It won't get any easier than 6 screws.

A tapered interface with an locking mechanism for the outer circumference instead of bolts? 30 seconds of thought comes up with a solution that is better then a flange with 6 bolts.

What makes you think this is better? Locking mechanisms are subject to accidental release and mechanical failure. Six bolts is a hell of a lot safer in normal operations which is what you have 99.99999% of the time.

Be sure your cures aren't worse than the disease.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I'm sure the designers will have learned from this and bevelled edges will in future be used on flanges, as well as dome-headed nuts to allow wrenches to be more easily located.

As an engineer, I can tell you ease of use is far down the list of determining factors in fastener and connector selection. Dome nuts and beveled flanges are on a different page in the guides. They might change these things, but I assure you, good engineers have already thought about it.

In the previous article now closed people were asking about Queen Bess Island and what it is like now. Earlier in the DWH saga it was pretty messed up by oil. Here is a picture of Queen Bess after the oil incedent. Plenty of green and plenty of birds.

I have video of thousands of birds flying above it as LDWF scare them up as they evaluate the situation.


Thank you, this is very good news. I'm the one who raised this question. What is the date of the picture? I can't really see anything; could you post a larger version? Would you consider putting your video on youtube?

It looks like the pressure is not as high as it was the last time the cap was removed. Anyone else noticing this?

They are taking more oil out from the choke/killlines.


Drop the bolt! We have GPS and can recover it later! At 100,000 barrels a day , we can pick it up later!

It will sink into the mud at the bottom of the GOM. Good luck finding it there.

yes, perhaps that second collection stream is already pumping ? (from the kill lines IIRC ?) Supposed to be right about now ?

Anyone seen numbers on that new flow-path yet ?

The top hat is now lying, on its side, on the bottom. Wonder what that does for the contingency plan of putting it back on the BOP?


Per the latest from Wells today, either during the briefing or in one of the videos, they won't use the old cap again. If there is a problem with the new sealing cap, they have another new LMRP cap that they would use instead. He didn't say whether it would bolt directly to or balance on the BOP as the old one did.

Various 7/10 Kent Wells updates

The old LMRP cap is probably the most famous piece of metal in the world right now, having been watched by millions all over the world for hours at a time. Now it lies discarded.

If BP were smart they'd clean it up and exhibit it. But when it comes to PR, BP never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity (as someone said about someone else).

The old LMRP cap is probably the most famous piece of metal in the world right now, having been watched by millions all over the world for hours at a time.

Are you sure about that? I would think the numbers watching the cap for the last month might approach - at best - 1% of those watching the World Cup, and its much more valuable metal prize.

Okay, I give you that.

"The most famous piece of scrap iron..."

The old LMRP cap is probably the most famous piece of metal in the world right now, having been watched by millions all over the world for hours at a time. Now it lies discarded.

If BP were smart they'd clean it up and exhibit it.

Should go in the Smithsonian, gloriously becrudded as it is, if they can prevail upon BP to salvage it. Surround it wih a frame of monitors showing tape loops of the gushing oil and narrated loops of the attachment and removal operations.

It belongs in the Corporate Hall of Shame.

Newbie here, go easy on me :) Someone (SDW?) on the previous thread asked what the verticsl pipe was that was being cut with a diamond saw, shown by Enterprise ROV1. I was watching as the saw completed the cut. The lower section fell away to the seabed and the upper part remained where it was. The ROV then maneuvered to look up at the cut end of the upper part. I was surprised to see it was very thick-walled with only a narrow bore (had been expecting it to be thin-walled.) Would this have been a drill pipe? I supposed it would need to have high torsional strength, and the narrow bore would allow mud to be pumped down to the drill bit?

My previous post indicated that that might be the riser pipe from the old cap. That or another riser pipe to collect the oil. I think it was dumping the old cap which is attached to pipe.

Moved by author.

Mike, the pipe that was cut was the riser connected to the top hat cap that was lifted off the LMRP earlier today. That's the path the flow of oil and gas have been taking up to the Discoverer Enterprise - no drill pipe inside it.

For newbies who might not have noticed, there is a IRC channel where the ROV activities are being discussed and debated in real time. Directions on how to access it are in point #6. in the Prof. Goose comment that has been appearing regularly as the first comment in Open Threads.

6. Also, if you're looking for live chat to talk about the ROV/LMRP video, etc., and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

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

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

Notes on #theoildrum channel are at #theoildrum Channel Resources.

Wish I could but can't from work.

Good reminder. I just checked out the irc page today and it's a far better way to see what's going on than the web site.

FYI, for anyone keeping score: the posted plan allows about 3/4 day (18 hours?) for "Stop containment - Discovery moves off station" to "Unbolt flange & remove bolts". They pulled the cap at 10:42 PDT and were done by 21:43 PDT. This despite the numerous cries of panic every time a ROV had to change tools.

Has Ocean Intervention III - ROV2 Video Feed now finally gone belly up ?
It was showing signs of stuttering before, with moved images, and I thought I saw droplets (?!) appear on the image left - not a good sign, if it is behind a thick glass pressure protector....

Ummmm, pretty sure that about 30-40 mins ago, OI ROV2 http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:44838.asx?bkup=45135 was showing a feed from the ship deck - there were occasional gimpses of the booted lower legs in the shot, as the operators worked around it. Then the feed went dead.

So I'd say it's up for maintenance / toolset change, rather than a subsea failure

Regards Chris

Was there any clue before this week that the "tighter fitting cap" would be a device this big and complex? I do recall a technical briefing by Kent Wells several weeks ago where he alluded to an interim device following the Top Hat, but he kind of glossed over that.

I know that the idea of unbolting the remaining stub of the damaged riser has been discussed on TOD. I wondered why that hasn't been done. It was encouraging to hear Adm. Allen mention "bolting" something on in the update on Friday -- though it seemed odd that they were going down that path immediately after BP said they might have the well killed in another two weeks or so.

After searching for info on what this new cap would be, I was shocked to see something much more massive and refined than I expected.

fdoleza in the closed section http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6711#comment-672597 said this:

Also, it seems to me, why didn't they have a procedure and equipment to shear the riser as close to the BOP stack as possible, then open the BOP valves (all of them), and go in with drill pipe and push through to see if they had a clear bore, then try to close the valves once they knew the valves were clear? I thought that made sense in the early days. But then I also proposed to them they set up to flare underwater (and I already got laughed at, so please don't comment).

Sorry fdoleza, but I gotta comment. In fact I laughed out loud because I proposed the SAME THING! I even sent drawings and explained how they could use thermite to ignite the fuel (fire needs 3 things, fuel, heat and oxygen, thermite provides all three). Once lit, they wouldn't need to keep feeding thermite, but could use iron oxide to provide the oxygen component, the natural gas and oil provide the fuel obviously and the sustained combustion provides adequate heat. Worst case they just keep feeding it thermite. That would have solved almost ALL their problems especially saving the Gulf, but of course might have made a mess of the BOP. I suggested it could just slag in, which would help hold it together until the relief wells kicked in. So stupid idea or what?

Interesting thing is they sent me the dear john email, then followed up with 2 emails saying MY idea was something they were ALREADY CONSIDERING! Now I know why, they were also considering YOUR idea! ROTFLMAO :-)

Oh well, I guess we'll join the Rube Goldberg Flare Hall of Fame. At least this is sophisticated. The first flare I built was a pit dug with a dozer, a line made up of drill pipe with sacks of cement sitting on it, and a bucket full of diesel sitting next to the pipe outlet. The device we used to light it was a lit sack carried by a native, dropped in the bucket just before we opened the well up.

did you calculate how much iron oxide is needed?

going back a while, I calc'd the air to burn 5000 bpd.

A lot of compressor(s)/energy.

N.B. that calc did NOT include the air to burn the natural gas.

no multiply all by 10x for 50,000 bpd (more likely spillage).

Just hook up floating risers, let the oil/gas rise of its own accord, and torch things at the surface, where convection will supply fast quantities of oxygen "for free".

Didn't calc the Fe304 I'd need, but is different than your method because we wouldn't be using compressed atmosphere, and the ratio isn't 21% oxygen. In fact there are better things than iron oxide (with more O's), but the solution would be similar. No compressor to push the rust down, it will sink quite naturally. Would have been fun to watch actually, I was visualizing an underwater volcano like this:


Seems bad, but look how similar it looks to the current oil volcano, and realize that the waste product would largely be CO2 and H20. To protect the BOP, they could have used a chimney on top of the LMRP. Irrelevant now unless EVERYTHING fails, must be why they sent me the "we're already working on our own idea, which happens to be similar to your idea" emails. :)

The flange (aka "Phalange") is OFF.
Looks like more oil/gas, and it is flowing from BOTH the inside the cutoff DP and outside of DP.
It was hard to see, quickly became obscured in oil, but could make out only one DP, not two.

for those that missed it, "nuala" on chat recorded it:

The overshot flange removal tool did the trick,
no need for the flange spitter.

see 08:00 in:
"Overview with Kent Wells 9 July 2010"

I saw it live and it was awesome!

Did notice that the DP appears to be spewing a lighter, yellower flow that the rest of the BOP orifice.

Hope folks in the know can comment on the implications of this.

Well, they are doing what I have been clamoring for, for about a month and a half.

I am glad the opinions that the bolts could not have been untorqued/cut/removed turned out to be too pessimistic.

Good to see the ugly flange gone. Happy to see the leaky cap gone.

Hope that the next phases go well.

What are they doing now? It looks like they're trying to pull out those nipples on top of the flange. They don't want to budge.

Their sketch did not seem to include a space for them, so these got to go.

I did not realize these would stay with the base, once the flange was gone.

The ROV should hold on to the BOP with his left arm and use his more powerful right arm to pull the nipples out.

They're trying a tool that fits over the stub.
Boa #2 is now (4:27 CST) rotating a T handle on top, must be to tighten it to the stub.
(the stubs are for the choke/kill/hydraulic lines outside the riser).

The tool has a cable sling on it, so they can exert some upward force (from a surface wire line or multiple ROVs?)

So you knew before they did what the condition of the BOP was like below the mud-line? Re-writing history are we? Without the kill attempt they had no idea what pressure the BOP could handle. These people have done what some thought was impossible. It's not over, the easy part was removing the old LMR flange. That they could not do without the gamma ray image of the interior of the BOP. This plan has been very logical. What if they had applied torque blindly to the BOP and fractured a broken casing below mud-line? 50K BPD into the GOM, you would have called for heads?

Dimitry, count me among those pessimistic about their odds of pulling out those bolts. On the other hand, it might be that they've taken this month and a half to figure out EXACTLY how to do it right. Maybe upgrading some hydraulics on the ROV's for starters, that kind of thing. We're still not "out of the water" yet on this thing, and who knows, maybe they took more than just a cursory glance at YOUR drawings!

Why don't they just create a collar for the flanges? A hinged collar could be snapped into place in short order; locked and sealed, providing a connection for whatever they would want to attach to the mount.
Instead they choose to undo the flange that's there, and reattach a new one, while it's gushing. This will take a loooong time ... before they begin collecting any oil again.

Here's the principle - snap a collar around the flange, with the upper section of the collar having the mount you require for your containment unit. You can get a perfect seal, and you can create various venting options to be used while attaching the containment pipe.

But no - we have to unscrew the top half of the flange, a mile below.

I thought about something like that, but dismissed it because of
* not strong enough in tension
* With the bolts in place, there was very little 'freeboard' to grip
You would need some lead-in taper, but have no room for it.

I think they may need some back-pressure ability from the cap, to help the kill, hence the 'brick outhouse' approach we see now ;)

Trail -- I would bet lunch that any number of new latching arraignments have already been design for the next gen of BOP's. Why don't we have that capability today? My reply to another TODer late last night has a very sad answer:

That's why I have to point a dirty finger at my own industry. BP et al have said they had considered the "worse case scenario". First, a simple fact: BOP fail about half the time. Period...that's the record. Second, wells blow out. Not that often but it does happen. Third, anyone ever develop a plan to deal with a failed BOP in 5,000' of water? No one has jumped up yet saying they did. So what's the obvious WCS: a failed BOP on a blow out in 5,000' of water. Obviously every DW operator knows what the WCS is now. So how many can stand in front of camera today and say they are ready to deal with the WCS? They may do everything human possible to reduce the risk of a blow out. But if it does happen at such a water depth they will be just as screwed as BP. Can’t argue differently.

The operators have no choice but to develop a new system to deal with what is now not an unimaginable event.

Rockman said:

That's why I have to point a dirty finger at my own industry. BP et al have said they had considered the "worse case scenario". First, a simple fact: BOP fail about half the time. Period...that's the record. Second, wells blow out. Not that often but it does happen. Third, anyone ever develop a plan to deal with a failed BOP in 5,000' of water? No one has jumped up yet saying they did. So what's the obvious WCS: a failed BOP on a blow out in 5,000' of water. Obviously every DW operator knows what the WCS is now. So how many can stand in front of camera today and say they are ready to deal with the WCS? They may do everything human possible to reduce the risk of a blow out. But if it does happen at such a water depth they will be just as screwed as BP. Can’t argue differently.

Yup. When drilling offshore, you gotta do everything you can do to avoid a blowout. Gotta cut the odds per well to 1/1000 or so via better training, quality assurance in operations, redundancy of warnings, automatic BOP actuation under certain circumstances, etc., etc. Then you gotta have BOPs that fail less that 1/1000 times they are called upon to act in a blowout situation. That would cut the odds of a blowout and major spill to 1/1,000,000 per well. That oughta be good enough in my book.

Now, how to a failure rate of BOPS from 1/2 to 1/1000? Rudundancy . . . multiple rams . . . multiple BOPS . . . multiple ways of activating the rams . . . inspections . . . certifications . . . testing . . . quality assurance during all phases of construction, installation, and operation.

The industry must do better, or it won't be allowed to operate in the GOM without a real good story as to how it is very unlikely that something like this will never happen again.

There was an interesting segment on NPR this morning about possible implications of the impending development of DW drilling off the coast of Cuba, some of it within 50 miles of the Florida Keys.

Cuba's new deepwater oil well uncomfortably close.

US oil industry folks will be meeting with Cubans to discuss safe drilling practices, but, at the moment, can't bid on any of the work, either the drilling or potential cleanup activity due to the 50 yo embargo against Cuba. Perhaps some of those agitating about the Jones Act will add the eliminating the ineffective embargo to their efforts.

rainy -- If the Cubans can't use US drillers maybe they can get this Russian drill ship I was on a few years ago off the coast of Africa. They pulled the BOP to the surface during my last hitch. They thought they had a bad control pod. Turns out it didn't really matter if the pod was bad. When the pulled the cover off the main control valve guess what? It was empty. No valve...no functioning BOP.

That said, do you support the 6 mo.deepwater hiatus ?

GW -- An arbitrary time frame doesn't work for me. First, what I would like to see didn't have chance of happening. But in my fantasy world I would have dispatched MMS inspectors/consultants to every DW rig within a few days of the blowout. An immediate shutdown and shake down. At the same time a complete review and modification of required safe drilling standards. That wouldn't take more than a week by a select crew of consultants. Most operators already have such outlines in the can (whether they follow them or not). And to make sure there is full compliance station inspectors on the rigs full time. And the operators would pay for this relatively minor expense compared to the cost of a typical DW well. This wouldn't solve the apparent lack of adequate BOP design. But it would hopefully provide an acceptable low level of risk while the next generation of BOP's were designed and deployed...18 months or so.

IMHO such a plan could provide an acceptable risk to drilling the DW while at the same time not adding addition financial suffering to the folks in S. La. In the end that's going to be the choice of the gov't and American people: accept whatever minimum risk by drilling that is perceived or shut down all offshore drilling. As I've stated before I don't consider offshore drilling as right or wrong. It's decision tp be made and I see no value on putting an arbiter timeline on the process. Decide if the process is acceptable with something like the modifications I've suggested or shut it down indefinitely. IMHO not making such a choice right now is just the same as carrying on BAU as it's been done for decades. I also conside taking 3 months after the blow out for the investigation to have their FIRST meeting to be just another obscene waste of time in addressing the situation. There are not hundreds of witnesses to question nor thousands of documents to review. If we have an accurate picture of what went wrong it would not have taking a group of qualified investigators to come up with the clearest answer possible with a few weeks IMHO.

I really think Rockman, that one of the most critical "investigations" after this whole thing is not about what happened in relation to the accident, but what were/are the core capabilities and personnel capacity of the MMS to inspect anything. Who are/were there key operations staff, their backgrounds and core responsibilities. What role if any did these personnel have in permitting not only the BP well but all wells in the last two years?

I think that they must have such a low level of performance expectation about this in the Obama administration, that they may not have wanted to open that can of worms right now since fixing is going to be a full time job and the likelihood of getting these folks out to do a creditable job may be slim and none. Would you want these folks out there doing reviews when they do not have your basic trust? I am not going to give one of my nurses more of a load if she or he has demonstrated a failure to care for these same types of patients before and there have been significant consequences.. Naw, I want to have time to look at all of their performance very critically and perhaps bring in back ups during a period of assessing them and the patients in our charge. They have already blown it, so to speak. Yeah, you can bring in back ups, but selecting them and getting them ready to not only do the certification work but pick up past errors takes some planning. The government has already sustained a major black eye and broken nose. Does it want to have its teeth nocked out as well?

We always want to move fast to correct stuff -- and that is understandable. But when your whole system is suspect, as in the case of the MMS, you have as bad a situation as a failing hospital -- some units and personnel worse than others, but sorting through who goes and stays and where the cuts should be made is very difficult. Do you want to put these people on the units and increase their responsibility or do you want to limit new admissions and just carefully monitor your current initiatives. Having these folks back out "certifying" their own handiwork, just doesnt seem like what I would want to do.

In all seriousness, I am sure prep for housecleaning is happening right now...but below the radar. Poop is going to hit the fan once this well is capped for sure, and I am sure that there will be a lot of both expected and unexpected fall out.

Rockman persuaded me that the 6 month moratorium was wrong. He lays out the issue honestly. The bottom line is we are not prepared to shut down all off-shore, and an arbitrary time line will do nothing to lower risk. Lowering risk is the real goal. On the ohter hand, the more wqe delay, the more economic harm we cause people to suffer, worse than what was caused by the spill for some.

The only problem is that it may take 6 mos to implement Rockamn's alternative. But we should be able to do better than that, and i think Salazar will try to. He is in trouble IMO. In fact, i have been very disappointed in him. He gave an interview in Dec. 2008 before Obama took office, but after Salazar was appointed. Reformiung MMS was supposed to be at the top of the list. He took some preliminary steps, and then just dropped it.

He has done a poor job of taking charge. He botched the moratorium. He botched the clean-up. I think he should be asked to go.

My big question no one has answered directly and no one has asked directly is this:

Of the 34 rigs operating in deepwater, what percentage likely conducted business in a similar manner as BP before the bow-out? Was BP's SOP as reflected in the DWH drilling this well substantially the same as the otehr operators, or was BP a rogue operator?

syn -- Difficult to guess how many other accidents were (are) waiting to happen on the other DW rigs. I mentioned being on a DW rig some years ago when the operator took a chance that was a full magnitude of stupidity worse than what BP did. But they got away with it by shear blind luck. So BP certainly isn't alone in poor SOP's. Having a moratorium of any length seems pointless unless there is a serious effort to radically improve the system. And by improve I don't mean just change. Banning drilling for 6 months is a huge change but zero improvement. Certainly no chance of any spills for sure. But also a 100% chance of the lose of billions in salaries along with 10's of thousands of jobs, loss of billions in federal income and an eventual increase in our balance of trade from the eventual decreased production. OTOH continuing on with BAU isn't a logical move either.

I know my solution might sound overly simplistic. But remember I've done this for 35 years. I've had such greedy idiots put my safety at risk more than once. I know what the bad habits and pressure points are. And we all now know the industry had made no preparation for dealing with a failed BOP in 5,000' of water. Safe drilling protocols are very well known. They don’t need to be improved at all IMHO. They just need to be mandated and enforced. And I have no doubt that, in time, the engineers will greatly improve BOP functionality. I just don't think it should take a couple of years to get there. That's the time frame I anticipate. I have no confidence the political system will allow progress to move much faster.

Rock, I agree with your position on the moratorium. It is solid IMO, more so that the 6 month blanket moratorium. Clearly Judge Feldman and 2 of the 3 judges from the 5th cir. agree with you too, as do the govenors of the affected states.

(That's a position that many liberals would blast me for taking, BTW, WidelyRead.)

On the other hand, I suspect BP wasn't the only one playing loose with best practices and cutting corners, ignoring the regs, etc., out in the deepwater. And you seem to confirm that. So, shutting down all DW for some period made absolutely perfect sense under the circumstances. We do indeed have to do something and given the sorry state of current affairs, there is a lot we can do and do quickly. Lets do it, then, asap, so we don't cause more harm than what we are trying to prevent.

BTW, i came up with a better formulation for answering your question for the poor TO guy on the stand. BP is responsible for all risks originating in the well, TO is responsible for all risks inherent in operating the rig. And where the two intersect, BP has primary responsibility since it has far greater ability to assess how any one decision will affect overall risk given its possession of superior information about all prior decisions and the risk load of each of them.

I suspect the contract spells that out in similar terms. A contract typically will set a standard of care or assignment of risk responsibility more precisely than negligence common law would, and sometimes even contrary to what the common law would assign.

syncro, our lawyer-phobic companions notwithstanding, your presence here enriches my experience of TOD immeasurably. Just wanted you to know.


ditto what lotus said, syncro.

I wouldn't say I'm lawyer-phobic, tho personal experience has taught me not to leave my fate entirely to lawyers, as long as I have the power to do something. Abraham Lincoln was supposedly called up to the judge one afternoon for arguing the opposite side of an argument on a different case than one he'd argued earlier that day. I think E L once mentioned here, that he could have argued for both sides on a point of law.

There's a lot of training that goes into being a lawyer in legal reasoning, and that's something I respect, and like to learn from, so thanks to all of the lawyers who share their thoughts here.

I apologize if I have an apparent distrust of lawyers. It comes from the experience of having a judge tell me "you shouldn't be pleading guilty" to a plea bargain, looking at the lawyer I couldn't afford standing next to me, and being satisfied that I got the charge reduced to where I was able to continue with a career. The court appointed lawyer, (who I still had to pay), had told me to plead guilty. It was an expensive, and emotional affair. And a hell of an education on what the system can do to you, if you don't fight back.


motownmutt, don't get me wrong, there are lots and lots of imperfections and injustices in the legal system. It is an imperfest system for sure. And there are some terrible lawyers and judges out there, believe me i know, just like there are some terrible doctors, cops, you name it.

But there is a lot of good in the system to, and it is a system that evolved over thousands of years, literally, and people fought and died for some of the principles embodied in our system of justice. Don't throw the good out with the bad, like everything else. And recognize that no system is going to be prefect.

That's not what I said. I said that, in a very close case, I could write a reasonably argued opinion justifying a decision either way. Knowing a judge's leanings is very important in predicting out how he/she might decide a close case. Judges to some degree are umpires, but, if you know baseball. you know that different umpires have different strike zones. It's that kind of misinterpretation of what I have said, along with the outright ignorant lawyer bashing here, that has cause me to quit commenting except to correct the record when some one misstates what I wrote.

"Do not try to teach a pig to dance. It wastes you time and greatly annoys the pig." —Robert Anson Heinlein

Apologies for mis-quoting you, E L, certainly didn't mean to. And thanks for the clarification, I guess I didn't appreciate the distinction.

I realise that lawyer-bashing typically takes on a more insulting tone than say, geologist-bashing. If more people in all walks of life had to deal with geologists under unpleasant circumstances, (one would think that just dealin' with a geologist might be unpleasant enough in itself, let's just say), maybe that'd be different.

In any case, look at how many TV shows are about lawyers, and courts, and you realise, that the general public finds the profession fascinating.

So, once again, thanks for pointing out my mistake, and the clarification, and hope to see your contributions again.

Best regards.

Thank you.

Hey, cutie, good to see you EL. ;~)

Well thank you very kindly, Lotus. That's mighty nice of you. But of course i am here for selfish reasons. I get tremendous satisfaction from reading and participating in this forum. (And my apologies to those i may irritate.) While i may like the law, even love it sometimes, I like the technical side and working with my hands just as much if not more. The interesction of these two gives both the abstract and the technical to work with. Throw in the political and social issues involved, and it's all pretty darn fascinating.

Syncro, Lotus, et al, I'm not lawyer phobic, just don't trust the 99% who give the rest a bad name. I look at law and say, "There but for the grace of God go I". I was a champion debater in high school and had my choice of freed ride scholarships to famous colleges that happened to be associated with large law schools afterward. You know the ones, they've got that green leafy substance growing on the brick outside. Everyone was shocked when I went a different route, but I thank God I did, at least for me. Virtually 100% of my old team are partners with prestigious firms, and most of them are on their 2nd or 3rd trophy wife by now and no, I would not trade places with any of them, ever. But I'm glad you can work with your hands, in my book that means you're redeemable. We might become friends after all. ;)

BTW, one of my best friends is a lawyer, I tell him he's a One Percenter. Of course he has a Harley... ;)

Hey, WidelyRed, don't forget, i worked in the oil patch for college money just like you. And although the law school i went to is covered in ivy, before i got there, i spent lots of time covered in drilling mud, concrete, grease and fish slime.

P.S.: And of course it is the special expertise and experiences of the other commentors that make TOD so fascinating to read.

I still think the government did about the crappiest job imaginable in trying to argue for their moratorium (whether in the original Feldman stay proceeding or subsequently in district or the 5th circuit). Just horrid; to the point where I suspect it was intentional. That said, I still thought there was a chance the 5th would take Feldman to task over how he applied the standard of review. They did not, as you seemed to predict, my hat is off to you there. Of course, it was all made easier by the utter failure of the government to distinguish the State Farm case, among other errors, but still it is what it is.

bmaz, i basically agree with you. Except I don't think the govt. tried to kill the moratorium by doing it badly on purpose. It all started with how Salazar handled the report, long before the court challenge. That gave Feldman the opening to exercise some discretion, legitimately so.

And then the govt. compounded the error. Instead of cleaning up their act, they doubled down on the fancy footwork BS. They did an emergency appeal of the denial of the stay, but did not seek an emergency expedited hearing on the appeal. What does that tell you? (The judges on the 5th were so impressed they sua sponte expedited the hearing on the appeal during the hearing on the stay motion). The govt. saw political and tactical advanage in stringing the appeal out. The court did not like that at all. And the govt. alsl let out that they would issue another moratorium if the 5th denied their motion. More sneaky fancy footwork trying to game the system. Not the way to go before a court sitting in equity and when you are claiming the need to act quickly due to an emergency.

The 5th cir. judges were as put off by that conduct as was judge feldman over the reprot. And they did not believe the govt. So they exercised their discretion against the govt. too. But don't forget they were ruling on the stay, not the merits, so they did not have to get to Feldman's substantive runing, and never did. They just found that the gov. failed to show irreparable harm if the injunction was not lifted.

The initial mistake was in not foreseeing that they would have to defend the moratorium in a hostile forum most likely, so don't dare give the judge any room to exercise any discretion by doing a sloppy job, and don't piss off the (already hostile) appellate court if you do run into trouble with the trial judge.

edit: removed junk sentence and edited last sent.

It seems to me, that improvements come about by doing, or at least trying, things. We didn't determine that the containment hoods, or top kill, wouldn't work by theorizing about them, we found out by trying. To me that's a big problem with a blanket moratorium, it means people aren't doing or trying anything that will lead to better practices and understanding.

just 2¢

Rockman - If I were prez I'd ask you to take over MMS for 12 months. You name the salary.

Unfortunately, it's gummint and you have too much real knowledge and common sense to be effective in a bureaucratic setting.

Even as an enviro-lib-former semi-hippie I agree that the 6 month thing is not logical. But, the gummint folks don't want to make any more mistakes so - they do nothing on the theory that, if you do nothing you can't make a mistake. Therefore, do nothing as it's a lot harder to prove later that doing nothing was also a mistake.

SEE, 6 months and no accidents! Ain't we the smart guys? !!

I'm a retired engineer and have worked at all levels of gov't as well as a brief stint at attempting to make a living in the "real world". It is positively (and mind meltingly) true that the "do nothing" choice is the first choice of top bureuacrats. That's why I never lasted more than 2-4 years in all but my last incarnation.

Keep up the posts RM, your knowledge, common sense and sense of humor make it easier to put up with the huge amount of "non-sense" that is nbeing generated by this event.

Keep on truckin'

Thanks moose. But I wouldn't need 12 months. Would only take a couple of weeks to draft the new rules for OCS operators. The new rules (along with rigorous enforcement) would scare the hell out of them so bad you would see the safest ops human possible within a week. Heck, most of them are pretty close to being there already. The companies won’t publicize it because it makes them look like they weren’t taking care of business. But I’ve heard what’s going on: they’ve been beating safe drilling ops into all their hands like their lives depend on it. And it does. I know I make it sound simplistic but we all know how to drill as safely as possible. And we all know the dumb moves you can make to screw things up big time. And that’s because most of us have done stupid things and were lucky enough to get away with it. We don’t have to write one new safe drilling procedure. It’s all written down somewhere right now.

I can appreciate the govt feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. But the govt sitting back and doing nothing quick isn't a whole lot difference than how BP got themselves into the current situation: sitting back and doing nothing like retesting the cmt and redoing it. In fact, I hadn't thought of it this way, but the vast majority of screw ups I've seen n the oil patch the last 35 ears didn't come from hands doing the wrong thing but sitting there and not responding as the situation requires. Typical human reaction I suppose: I'm not sure I know what’s going on so I'm not sure what to do...so I don't do anything.

Yes, I see that human reaction often. It has nothing to do with oil exploration and I question if there is a management solution either.

I was in a meeting where I said there was a problem with our software generating a larger than normal number of errors when moving data between systems. Two fellow designers and two testing analysts and my manager gave me the deer eyes look. Finally, my manager said our clients have tested the software and no one is "screaming" to fix anything. We released the software and I started getting 35+ additional text alerts per week because of this problem. After many hours I found the problem. This version of software changed the source folder for data to be encrypted and the OS was mucking up the transfer of file during automatic decryption. Merely by adding one line of code to programmatically decrypt file before transferring, the problem was fixed.

And I have time to write more TOD comments since I get less text pages.

Interesting story brit...thanks. I've always found there was a solution to that non-responsive attitude: accountability. And I don't mean "Opps...sorry messed up there..won't do it again". I mean "Do something stupid and I'll nail your balls to my office door. And then I'll fire you". I've found that this approach works very well with my hands. And my owner finds it works really well with me, too.

One of the main factors that convinces me that a temporary drilling moratorium is necessary is that nearly all personnel and equipment which might be needed to respond to another major spill are now in use responding to BP's disaster. If there were another big spill now, where would they get more boom, or more vessels and personnel to deploy it?

This situation should give the federal government the legal authority to temporarily halt drilling: each driller is required to have a Facility Response Plan, which must (among other things), "identify and ensure availability of resources to remove, to the maximum extent practicable, a worst-case discharge." http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/frps/frpelems.htm

It's just not possible for anyone to ensure availability of resources to respond to another spill until this spill is under control. Each driller in the gulf (and maybe beyond?) should be notified that its Facility Response Plan is, under present circumstances, inadequate, and that they cannot continue operations until they can assure that the resources which they would need to clean up a worst-case spill would actually be available. In other words, once the industry is done helping BP clean up its little mess, we'll let them start drilling again.

That would be the worlds largest vacuum clamp. You didn't show the beveled flanges for the o-ring. These are flat flanges.

Ok. You leave the flanges in place. Then you put a collar over them. This gains you exactly what? You now have a stub sticking out of a flange with a collar around it. Still no place to make a good connection.

Use your imagination. The photo just shows the principle of the locking flange - you can design a longer "neck" with a taper that encapsulates the remains of the cut riser, and that ends in a perfectly sealing receptacle for docking your new containment riser.

As Rockman states above - the industry hasn't thought this through, going with "will never happen and hoping for the best" as their plan B.

This is just one possibility, but I'm amazed I didn't see something like that being snapped into place once they sheared the riser, instead of wasting days with the diamond chain saw that went nowhere. The whole point of using the diamond chain was to "get as even a seal as possible." But that's one-dimensional thinking - they could get a perfect seal with a hinged neck collar as described here.

The mechanical engineers I used to work with would say they have no way to model the stresses under bending loads or tension of such a thing, while standard ISO flange connections are well specified for all conditions. Without that model information and industry experience they can't sign off on the design, especially when failure is likely to put the environment or lives at risk.

You just don't throw away a design paradigm that has been in use for over a hundred years in favor of an off-the cuff idea.

Is simulation software used as an acceptable method to verify designs that are difficult to test with real world conditions?

I understand there are many reasons why simulation software may be impractical or provide a false sense of security so please don't interpret my question to mean I'm an advocate.

Yes, your right they are all stupid. So how exactly is your magic clamp better then what has been done?
Up until yesterday they have been processing all the oil they could. I think of these people as heros, not in the least bit (pun intended) stupid. Amazing you think your worlds largest vacuum clamp is better than a LMRP, really ........................ really.

Good work Trailman. I was thinking of something similar, but didn't know where to look. I would add one improvement - the collar should have a carefully designed breaking force, so if an attached riser is falling, it will break loose at a controlled point, and not endanger the BOP. These collars should be used in all new designs, on all flanges that might need an emergency disconnect.

Does anyone know how the flange puller gripped the flange? They lowered it over the flange, then gave it a good tug, and the upper flange came away. Was it some sort of suction device? I have looked at the Kent Wells pdf and they don't explain. They show a flange splitting tool which was never used.

Video of flange being removed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNv4tfyyvxA

Here is a different video but still does not show how it worked. I don't see the ROV's doing any manipulation to open/close/tighten anything. Maybe it was a wedge internally or a magnet?


Thanks for the link.. guess all that polishing they did last night paid off.

I, too, wonder how it worked.. looked remarkably easy, even allowing for the 10x speed.

the remaining flange looked like it had a bunch of stuff jutting out from it as you said. I don't htink they were expecting that. I sense befuddlement.

It would be nice if the helix would come online and then maybe they could see what they are doing.

It looks like they expected it because they have special tools that attach to the stubs.

(as previous) they had a set of stub pullers on the sea floor in a basket of tools.

And they've just snagged the 1st one via a crane line.

Also I think their idea to "close BOP" may be a bad one. Won't that raise the pressure of the whole pipe to the reservoir pressure and cause blowouts? Sounds very dangerous to me, unless they are pulling out 30-35 k bpd from the helix and q4000.

They are not just going to slam the BOP shut, but gradually close it while monitering the pressures. If the pressure climbs to a dangerous level they will open back it up. If they can get the well shut in, even with flow going out the choke and or kill lines that they can control backpressure on it will make the bottom kill much easier. That way they can hold just enough back pressure to hold the oil and gas in the formantion while allowing the kill mud to fill up the hole and circulating the oil and gas that is already in the bore hole out the top. That is SOP how to kill a well that you can shut in and flow out the choke line. That is the purpose of having a choke line in the first place.

Much easier to get a solid column of mud in the hole than just pumping into a totally uncontrolled flow.

Even if they can't shut in the well right away at some point during the kill process the pressures should reduce as they get heavy mud into the wellbore, and then they can shut it in and proceed as I discribed above.

My take is that they WANT the pressure to rise as they shut in - all the way to that predicted by a static head. That will tell them that the casing is not leaking into sediments. Might take a while to overcome the reservoir drawdown as the flow subsides.

It wouldn't be reservoir pressure. It would be the reservoir pressure minus the hydrostatic pressure of a 2+ mile high column of oil.

Or maybe even mud.

Or maybe even mud

Yes, any mud they can get in the column will reduce the pressure at the top. I think they have some idea what the max pressure the old bop, wellhead and casing in the upper part of the hole can stand. When they get enough mud in the hole from the relief well they should be able to close the new BOP and circulate the oil and gas remaining in the wellbore out the choke/kill lines. Also they will have isolated the 5000 ft seawater head from the well and will have replaced it with the head though the choke/kill lines which should be heavy mud at the end of the process. I believe this will make the mud weight calculations easier since the RW an WW will have an equal depth of mud head.

I used to be able to do all the calulations for mud weight and backpressure to circulate the oil and gas out of the hole while holding additional from entering the well bore, but that was a long time ago, so I will leave that to the active engineers on this site.

Refresher course for Rio (no charge...THIS TIME). Pressure (psi) = 0.052 * MW (ppg) * column height (feet)

Someone posted a report that they were going to cut the well bore annulus 350 psi over pore pressure for that depth. Based upon the MDT pressure guage the reservoir pressure is 11,900 psi (12.6 ppg).

Pop quiz: what MW would you need for a 17,000' column to generate a bottom hole pressure 350 psi above 12.6 ppg. We'll ignore ECD for the moment.

I remember that part, approximatly 13.9293484 ppg :), but how to calculate the casing pressure schedule to circulate out a gas bubble is lost somewhere in the RAM of my brain.

I do remember when I went to OU blowout school they had a Radio Shack TRS-80 for do the calculations, perhaps I need to check the app store for my iphone there may be "an app for that." :)

I was kind of into basic programing then and wrote a program for my Commadore 64 to do it. Lots of sleepless nights debugging. :)

Rio - I'm just as ignorant about generating a detailed kill sheet. I understand what they are and what it takes to build the model but that's it. Beyond that I follow Dirty Harry's philosophy: "A man has got to know his limitations"

Rock: When it comes to killing the well perhaps more appropriate is:

"Well punk , do you feel lucky?"

It wouldn't be reservoir pressure. It would be the reservoir pressure minus the hydrostatic pressure of a 2+ mile high column of oil.

But, if you had the well shut in any gas that migrates up through the column has no place to expand and when it gets to the top it brings the pressure with it. That is part of the consideration when you hold backpressure while circulating gas out of the hole, you have to allow the gas bubbles to expand as you circulate them up the hole and out the flare line.

If mud is coming up in the mix will they be able to process/flare it or will it need to be dumped overboard?


The mud would have to be separated out.

The fluids and gas goes thru a seperater that seperates the gas which is flared. The oil and mud mix will go to storage just like the oil that is being processed now, the only problem I see that they are flaring some of the oil and that would not be possible unless thay have a way to seperate it from the mud, which could be done, but I suspect by the time the start getting mud returns the flow may be reduced to a point that they don't need to flare oil. But that may be a SWAG on my part.

After the cap is in place, the flaring of the oil mix should come to a halt. Any mud that comes up and is processed would be kept like the oil, with the gas being separated out as normal. The oil/mud mix will be processed as a mixture and held separately, I would imagine. I'd imagine the choke/kill lines will be shut off at some point before/during the kill attempts.

I'd imagine the choke/kill lines will be shut off at some point before/during the kill attempts.

Maybe for periods of time during the kill process, but before the well is completly killed you have to circulate all of the oil and gas out of the bore hole and the choke/kill lines need to be open to do that. Once the well is killed then you can close everything, but then it needs to be opened up to circulate cement in to allow the mud a place to go as you replace it with cement.

another question: why does it take 3 days to "optimize the helix"? They should have it going full blast within hours.

They didn't mention anything about it in their release 7/10, which isn't a good sign.

Obviously you have never participated in a plant startup. All kinds of things go wrong or need to be calibrated in order to have good control of the process.

Skip those steps and you may have a problem. It could be a very BIG problem.

Like another sunken platform and dead people at the bottom of the GOM.

Full blast means processing about 25,000 BOPD and more than 50 MMCFD, on a floating vessel while flaring the gas. Because this is the Gulf of Mexico, the flare is a delicate piece of equipment. For example, they'll want to make sure the flare is burning mostly gas and there's no oil drops going into the water. I know this is a silly sounding topic when they're dumping so much oil, but the EPA and MMS are government agencies.

To make sure the flare doesn't melt the side of the ship, they'll have to make sure they bring it up slowly and they set up water curtains. And a flare this size will likely need an additional water supply coming from a different vessel. And all of this needs to be set up to make sure the flame heads downwind at all times.

The vessels sitting on that deck also need to be lined out to make sure they're working properly, all the level controls are working at the set rate, and so on. I'd say taking it to full capacity in a few hours is a little foolish - they may have said a few days because the media has been ferocious criticizing everything, so by now they're taking the estimated time and doubling it.

When this is over, I wouldn't mind borrowing a steam roller and doing a few passes on top of a group of media talking heads, because they have been lying, conniving, shilling and doing whatever they can to burn us as an industry to make their buck selling chips and dip. But for now all we can do in the industry is grin and bear it.

When this is over, I wouldn't mind borrowing a steam roller and doing a few passes on top of a group of media talking heads, because they have been lying, conniving, shilling and doing whatever they can to burn us as an industry to make their buck selling chips and dip. But for now all we can do in the industry is grin and bear it.

Can I ride with you?

"When this is over, I wouldn't mind borrowing a steam roller and doing a few passes on top of a group of media talking heads, because they have been lying, conniving, shilling and doing whatever they can to burn us as an industry to make their buck selling chips and dip. But for now all we can do in the industry is grin and bear it."

"Can I ride with you?"

World citizen shakes head in amazement.... Uh, fellas, at best the oil industry dingdongs who caused the accident, who are still alive, should be on the ground in front of the news people. If you don't want news shills and the rest of the world mocking people in your industry.... don't screw up... or at least not so catastrophically.

Personally, I think EVERONE in your industry should pause and show much contrition and even more humility. Just sayin... sheesh.

fellas, at best the oil industry dingdongs who caused the accident, who are still alive, should be on the ground in front of the news people

Agreed, but to paint the whole industry as the same as BP is wrong. Not that there are not some other bad operators out there, but most are trying to do it right and they are the ones that are most upset with BP because they understand exactly what was done wrong and it reflects on them.

I would also put some politicians that only want to use this to advance their agenda and don't really give a damn if it gets fixed in front.

"Agreed, but to paint the whole industry as the same as BP is wrong. Not that there are not some other bad operators out there, but most are trying to do it right and they are the ones that are most upset with BP because they understand exactly what was done wrong and it reflects on them.

I would also put some politicians that only want to use this to advance their agenda and don't really give a damn if it gets fixed in front."

Well said... and forgive me if I came across as condemning the whole oil industry. It was a tragic set of (avoidable?) circumstances. I guess my point is, there is a lot to do yet and so very few capable of fixing this... I just hope all this will be a lesson well learned and never forgotten.

I fully support the excellent in any field especially those teaching the next generation. Frankly, as non-expert citizens we are so dependent on experts we can't live without you. On the other hand there are the incompetent, the bad actors and the goofballs in every area of life from the religious, the politicians, the journalists, and the rest of us that I just hope we don't become so used to failure or become complacent with regards to excellence to let things in every area of life slide to the point of no return.

Again, my thanks to this site and those working tirelessly and intelligently for a better tomorrow. Peace

I think we are on the same page. I usually try to stay away from political issues on this forum because I can get pretty carried away some times.

I believe that I can most contribute with what knowledge I have on technical issues that most come here to understand. I am not an engineer, but mostly self taught and maybe I might be able to explain in a way that a layman can understand, it least that is what I try to do.

I guess mostly self taught is a little wrong, because I had some very experianced mentors.

It also took several days for both Discoverer Enterprise and Q4000 to ramp up. That it would take several days for the Helix Producer to get up to capacity has been mentioned in some of the updates.

Here's a question: why does one half of the plume seem red and the other half black. Very bizarre.

Is part of it coming "up the drill pipe" and the other part up through the outside of the drill pipe?

What's it all mean?

The oil is coming out so thick, I don't think they can see what htey are doing! Idiots for not having the helix going full blast.

Of course! They're idiots! Or perhaps they've considered something that webwatchers on dry land haven't.

Take a pill DUDE! These people are not idoits, they are heros! Why didn't the president call you in?

Why does half seem red and half black? Must be the photon red shift. You're moving away from the red half at nearly the speed of light, and the black is absorbing all the photons.

Seriously, I think the lighter stream is gassy, the darker stream is oil. There are two conduits coming up, one is slugging gas and oil, the other has more oil in it? The one that's slugging has a wider bore, the one with the steady state oily stream is a piece of pipe jammed in there somewhere. Just a guess.

Question, could one flow be oil from the drill pipe and the other gas flow outside the casing? I can't think of why there would be two separate flows other than high velocity gas can create it's own flow path.
This condition is called 2-phase flow. Gas flowing over the slower flowing oil. I would have thought more mixing would have occurred with the DP in place? Any thoughts on this 2-phase flow? Possible water cut also? Thanks for your thoughts and patience ha!

I don't think it separates fully inside the well - it's flowing too much and it's a vertical conduit. However, it may be that the flow is slugging, or the gas has a tendnecy to be more to the inside of the pipe, so if there's drill pipe in the hole then maybe it picks up more gas, or vice-versa. I don't think the well is making water, thus far I haven't seen any reports saying it did.

landrew writes:

Question, could one flow be oil from the drill pipe and the other gas flow outside the casing? I can't think of why there would be two separate flows other than high velocity gas can create it's own flow path.

Seems to me that the dark stuff is exiting the BOP at a lower velocity than the lighter colored stuff. It also seems to me that one can see gas bubbles in the black stuff, but I don't see any gas bubbles in the lighter-colored stuff.

It seems likely to me that the lighter colored stuff could be coming out of the drill pipe(s), and the darker colored stuff could be coming out of the annular region around the drill pipe(s). That being the case, it seems to me that it is also entirely reasonable that the source of the fluid for these two flows are coming from different elevations in the well, and that the drill pipe flow is less likely to be high in gas content than the flow in the annular region around the drill pipe.

I just hope that someday, BP and the government will tell us what they think was the situation was

*) immediately after the blowout

*) after the rig sank {BTW, why DID the rig sink? Did they pump too much water on it trying to put out the fire? When the rig sank, how much stresses did it put on the BOP and the top of the well?}

*) after they twiddled with trying to get the BOP to work {did they succeed in opening and closing the rams and is that what somehow caused two drill pipes to be at the top of the BOP? Did they do something to increase the flow?}

*) after they tried the top kill. {did they make things worse? Why was the top kill procedure suddenly stopped?}

*) after they cut the riser, and

*) now

One stream is from the annulus and the other from the production casing?

Yesterday, the Enterprise Rover #2 went over to where the LMRP cap was hanging. The LMRP had a big glop of black goo on the side of it. The rover then went up the drill pipe that supported the LMRP cap a ways to a box with a round thingy on the bottom of it, and started digging around in the goop on the other side of the round thingy (pardon my technical terminology). The goop looked like a mixture of dirt, asphalt, and it had these odd-looking sulphur-colored crystal-looking thingys embedded in it. The question is, what IS that stuff? It looks rubbery. Is the yellow stuff sulphur, parrifin, or what?

To illustrate what I mean, I put a few stills and a short video clip (in two different formats) on my site.

The links are:





Maybe this last movie format you guys can view more easily than the Quicktime .mov file format.

Just as methane and water at high pressure and low temperature can form a solid hydrade, I am wondering if H2S and water can do the same.


And another unrelated thought, as long as I am sucking up bandwidth: Somebody oughta be writing a book about the lessons learned about working deep underwater with ROVs. Like how to design bolts, nuts, and other fasteners, flanges, and all sorts of other hardware so that it can be more easily handled by ROVs.


Thanks to aethervox for posting the videos to Youtube that I posted yesterday in his post at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6711#comment-673136 - I sure wish I knew what he did to the videos to get Youtube to take 'em. I tried E-mailing him to ask, but alas, I can't figure out how to send him a private message.

Looks like asphaltine deposits with wellsolids or sea floor solids embedded in the asphalt. I read the oil is fairly light, say 35 to 37 API, but it's also high gas oil ratio, and many of these deep water reservoirs have asphaltine content ranging between 5 and 10 %. As the oil moves from reservoir pressure to flowing pressure the asphaltine flocculates, which means little itty bitty particles of asphalt float in the oil, and if they hit a solid surface they stick to it. If the well is making solids, and I bet it's been flowing anything from silt to small chunks of rock and cement, then these provide surfaces for the asphalt to stick. If they happen to be going by a point where asphalt has already deposited, they can stick to the pre-existing mass. I'm making this comment based on experience elsewhere. We saw wells completely asphalted if the pressure was allowed to go below a certain point. In a reservoir like this, my guess is flocculation pressure would be around 6000 psi. But remember I am guessing white a bit.

Can view the second of these two movies but not the first. The problem is not Apple Quicktime format which can be played by PC software. The problem is that what you are saying is a standard Quicktime .mov format actually isn't. Can you double check your encoding options? VLC media seems to think the video is using a Windows Media (WMV3) Codec (as does QuickTime). For that matter so does Windows Media Player 12 (on Windows 7) but it still can't decode it.

Those on the IRC channel seem to speculate that that crud was methane ice embedded with oil. It looked like there was a columnar mass that came off of the open vents that resembled a chimney of the same material. Very very unique stuff, if that's true. Not that the methane ice formed, but the process of incorporating even the oil into the mass of methane ice.

Well, that could be it. You mean hydrate. But the embedded material looked like rock to me. So maybe it's hydrate embedded in asphaltine? Hydrate doesn't look black, so the black material ought to be asphaltine. The hydrate I've seen before, it's more beige or orangey.

It looked like they were deicing(?) a circular deflective collar that went around the riser pipe. A yellow hose attached out of sight to the other side of the ROV arm periodically emitted something. Loosened debris would then descend.

I wonder why they were cleaning it. The riser was cut off the old cap - are they prepping it as part of the plan to use a backup new LMRP cap if the sealing cap runs into problems? Or just tidying things up before pulling the riser up to DE?

There's no telling what kind of sand/silt/shale is also embedded in that mix. I hope they do the science on this, and I'm glad they're on this, rather than let this "melt"

if the drill pipe is clathrate iced/asphaltene glued into the LMRP at the end of Enterprise's riser, they would have a hard time raising things.

They'd have to hoist both the riser and drill pipe simultaneously, then detach a length of riser (75' joints), raise it up enough to get at the nearest drill pipe joint (30' joints),
hold onto the drill pipe in the gap below the free riser piece (supporting the full weight), and either take the riser piece off over the drill pipe, or then raise the 3 or so joints of pipe up and detach individually (and do so 75+ feet in the air).

It would require lots of special rigging to do that,
since the LMRP annular probably won't hold the weight of the drill pipe by itself.

So they'd no doubt prefer to do the normal thing:
release the drill pipe from the annular in the LMRP,
pull the drill pipe joint by joint out of the riser (using the normal draw works to pull pipe up, and the slips to hold the string below while they remove a joint)
then pull the riser joint by joint.

Um, you seem to have missed it when they cut the pipe and dropped the cap of the ocean floor ;)


thanks - that makes sense.

Quick OT comment on video conversion - sorry in advance...

You have to export the video from QuickTime Pro to get rid of the WMV encoding. You can export as DV and then save DV as QuickTime (huge file though) or export as MP4; I had to do two clips as YouTube's max time is 10 min.

Oil Head-Fake Update: Why Alt Energy Will Never "Pencil Out"
(July 6, 2010)


This is one of the reasons we have subsidies and proposals for energy taxes.

The argument is fairly sound if one accepts his assumptions. But he has not proved 'never'. He assumes that there will never be a general collapse of our global financial/trading system. If the turmoil becomes sufficiently great that oil producing countries are sucked into the turmoil and can no longer actually produce oil and show no prospect of resuming production, or even feeding their populations --- then what happens?

If there's a general collapse, what would be the chance for technological advancement and rapid deployment across huge distances?

Ken Feinberg just made some folks in Alabama smile:

... "If you run a hotel five blocks from the beach and business is off because people aren't going to the beach, you are just as eligible, even though oil hasn't spilled on the beach," Feinberg said.

He said that Gov. Bob Riley insisted "that I take an expansive view of eligibility, and I plan to do so." ...

I take this opportunity to salute someone who, 50 years ago today, did much, much more for Alabama than BP ever will. That would be Nelle Harper Lee. Thank you, Miss Nelle, for To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled Patch . . .

My second check is a week late and no answers.

Two members of the Graham-Reilly commission were in Mobile/Baldwin County yesterday, listening to locals on the economic effects and saying, "We're looking at how the response effort has worked and what could work better to come up with some recommendations to make to the president." Sorry they missed you, TF.

I was too busy having my civil rights violated. http://gcn01.com

Around here only the Federales have that power. That part of the beach is Federal property full stop. You seem to be suffering the results of money talks. Mind you, from the size of those stacks I'll probably hear it all the way over here:)


Yes, if you read my essay, the cops told me the mayor ordered it. I am calling the US Attorney's office in Mobile tomorrow. They need to read the adventures of Sir TinFoil. Where's Jesse at? What is more minority than a Korean/Creole;)

So they actually knew who you were, TFHG? That must have been so funny if so. I wish you had that on film.

It would not surprise me. Word gets around and info sources are vital in these situations. Use your forum wisely. Credibility and objectivity on the facts are the key to having an impact.

I literally puckered as hard as I ever had. Talk about getting outed. He did say he would keep my secret and until I go too far, he supports my efforts. I thought he was going to put about five .40 caps in me.

TFHG, this may not apply to you but BP's slow/no pay strategy seems pretty clear.

BP ‘cuts payments to 40,000′ over incomplete claims forms


Sounds like a block-buster scoop to me. Are the local papers covering it yet, or don't they know?

syncro, NOLA.com doesn't seem to have noticed it yet (judging by my scroll through their headlines). Since Louisiana's DCFS announced this, you'd think they'd have covered it. CBS did:


al.com , nola.com's sister had it early this AM. http://blog.al.com/live/2010/07/bp_may_cut_payments_to_40000_w.html
I am waiting too, with little answers.

Thanks for the link, Lotus.

I wonder who is formulating the guidelines for proof and what they are basing it on. Answers to those two questions will tell a lot. But even under the best of circumstances, you have to draw the line somewhere. Where? No matter where you draw it, some will feel cheated and others will feel free-loaders are taking advantage.

I gave them two years tax returns.

That's pretty good proof, TFHG. I guess you have to show you lost work due to the spill, too, though, right?

Can not get a job anywhere. Told them where to look and if they found a job, call me and tear up the claims application. I'll take it.

How convenient to have something to blame for the down turn in business. What about the current economic conditions battering the US!!!. And under what authority or law does the Governer Riley have the right to insist that Mr Feinberg be expansive?
I am reminded of a post I read by a serving marine asking why the victims of the 9/11 seemed to be valued more than a soldier fighting for his country in Afghanistan. Are the owners of hotels who have seen a downturn in business going to be valued more highly too??

If I owned a hotel on or near a beach that was completely clear I would be pretty bitter about the role that the media and the politicians have played in convincing the rest of the country that everything and everywhere was covered in thick oil.

And finally, who would have thought that some environmental good just might come out of this. Reading the comment by the lawyer that if it got into the Atlantic ocean, then you might get mediteranean blue tuna fishermen suing for loss of business, I suddenly thought: I bet more tuna would survive the pollution than overfishing. If they can not be sold for fear of pollution then we might just stop overfishing them and they will have a chance to recover.

Which media outlets are portraying the entire Gulf shoreline as "covered in oil". Certainly not the ones I've been seeing; every one of them show open beaches and when they mention that oil is on some locations, they take pains to include that there are many, many others that are clean. How about take your media hate and tone it down a bit? Other than CNN, the other news outlets appear to be reporting this disaster very responsibly.

Hey Bendal, look at this! Have a nice day, my Gulf Coast butt has been COVERED in oil many times. Why don't you drive across the street in your Hummer and buy a pint of Haagen Dazs, ice cream of the devils. Bless you.


How long is the strech of beach oiled by the spill?

Is that really fair if in fact the oil spill has ruind their business? Are you blaming the victim here?

All claims have to be proven to some extent. They are not just giving money away. There are standards of proof that must be met.

Checks are stopping for me and all my friends with no answers. I keep getting the 'Change we can believe in' or the files are moving excuse.

If BP were smart they would offer discount coupons for people to go to the Beach in those areas. I'd take them up on it, just to see if I can run into a CNN reporter and get interviewed.

Morning fdoleza~Good point, but many if not all the hotels here are offering discounts and some condos are 1/3 the normal price for a week. A friend of mine just left and got a 3 bedroom/ 3 bath luxury high rise condo on the gulf for 1/3 the normal rate. Also, if you ever get down here when we are having an event like we did on the 23rd you'd have NO problem finding a reporter to interview you, I was approached by the guy from CNN (can't remember his name) and Mark Potter from NBC Nightly News but have my reasons for not wanting to be broadcast over the nation, so if you ever get to P-Cola Beach I have Mark's business card and the cameraman's card and will glady give them to you.

Wow, I may just go over by mid week if I don't have to work.

Are you close? If you do, my toss away email addy is on the last open thread and you can send me a message. But, unless we have some event here it's mainly local media.

If anyone does run into a CNN reporter please bend their ear about their redirecting stories from the cnn.com website to their Mexican website where the stories do not exist. I am fed up with having to use proxify to read their stories.


"I take this opportunity to salute someone who, 50 years ago today, did much, much more for Alabama than BP ever will. That would be Nelle Harper Lee."

Put down your Obama/Dem lynch mob pitchfork and torch, and grab ahold of yourself.
BP has furnished affordable, high quality products to the people of Alabama for 50 years, what they drive, what their computers/clothes/toys/etc are made of, what runs the planes that they drive in.
Oil is the basis of our civilization.
I think that trumps a single dusty old book 90% of us have never read...

Honestly, amerman, take it back to RedState. Your ugly fixation on Obama is entirely beside the point here (and very very boring).

whew. that's never pleasant to read, no matter how it gets worded.

True. But it sets the Red / Blue argument into perspective.

And it's simple enough that even a politician could understand it.

For someone who's mother was a REAL SLAVE, your words offend me highly. Yes, and slavery is alive and well today in the Untied States
AND I LIVE IN ALABAMA!!!! Slavery is alive and well here too!

Edit: I just noticed my typo. I think I'll leave it alone.

Just a summary of the rupture/burst disk issue.

Here is the patent http://www.drillscience.com/bp/Burst%20Disk%20Patent%20To%20Prevent%20AP...

The disks are intended to provide thermal relief through a very small port that connects the annulus outside the 16" casing and the annulus inside the 16" casing, between it and the 9-7/8" production casing. It is intended to relieve pressure due to thermal expansion of the mud in the outer annulus from the outside inward to prevent collapse of the 16" casing and nothing more.

So the DOE/BP well configuration diagram http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/3.1_Item_2_Macondo_Well_07_Jun_1900... is misleading. Along the way there have been reports, such as one in the Wall Street Journal, claiming that the top kill failed because of a plate at about 1000' depth, which presumably someone thought was the " 16" rupture/burst disk sub 6047' ". The rupture disk at that depth poses absolutely zero restriction to flow through the inner annulus and would have had zero effect on the success or failure of the top kill. So Secretary Chu needs a better explanation for the failure of the top kill. Of course, Secretary Chu does not expose himself to public questioning (a trait he seems to share with his boss, President Obama). That man has a lot of 'splainin' to do!

Well, the Wall Street Journal isn't the Oil and Gas Journal, and Secretary Chu isn't Boots Hansen. I'm pretty sure quite a few people would agree the top kill didn't work because the well has an open top, and they couldn't put enough hydraulic horsepower inside the BOP stack to create the pressure drop across the open top they needed to shove the mud downhole. They may have been able to do it if they had put a crimp on the riser stub, I guess.

I know one of these days there will be a 50 volume 12500 page set report on this incident, and it'll have an appendix on the top kill, why it failed, and how it could have been made to work.

You mean like this?

I would offer a solution to controlling the WW from the top without a RW, a modified top kill procedure I'll call "All the Marbles". Run a hose or tubing (about 3/4" to 1" OD) from the surface to the kill line on the BOP with valves at either end. Fill it with 1/2" diameter glass marbles, then fill the space with oil. Close the upper valve and open the lower one allowing oil from the WW to flow into the hose equalizing the pressure, at which point the marbles will start to fall out into the flowing oil at a measured pace which is limited by the reverse flow of oil needed to backfill the space vacated by the departing marbles. Repeat as needed.

This drops the marbles into the oil stream where they will fall downhole per Stoke's Law. Assuming the acceleration of gravity is 32.2 ft/sec^2, the marble diameter is 0.5 inches, its density (SG) is 2 gram/cm^3, the oil density is 0.9 gram/cm^3, and the viscosity is 0.3 centipoise cP (0.3 gram/meter-sec) you can calculate the terminal velocity of the marbles here http://www.ajdesigner.com/phpstokeslaw/stokes_law_terminal_velocity.php

If the terminal velocity is greater than the upward flow rate, the marbles will fall to the bottom of the well. The maximum upward flow velocity based on a 60,000 barrel per day flow can be calculated thus.

A 42 gallon barrel is 5.61 cubic feet x 60,000 barrels = 336,6000 cubic feet per day. Divide by 24 hrs/day by 60 mins/hr by 60 secs/min to arrive at 3.9 cubic feet per second. The worst case for this well would be all the flow going up the annulus (i.e. between the ID of the 9-7/8" liner and the OD of the 7" production casing).
The ID of the liner is about 8-5/8", that area is 58.4 square inches, the 7" OD casing's area is 38.5 square inches, so the Minimum Net Flow Area (MNFA in ASME Code-speak)is 19.9 square inches. Dividing by 144 sq inch/ sq ft and you get an MNFA of 0.138 sq ft.

3.9 cu ft/sec divided by 0.138 sq ft gives us an upward flow rate of 28.3 ft/sec. So the Stoke's calculator proves the marbles' terminal velocity is greater than the upward velocity of the oil and the marbles will fall to the bottom. As they do, they will introduce a flow restriction (e.g a "choke") to the WW further reducing the leak rate. Choke it enough and you can go to progressively smaller "marbles" until you get to the point where you can pack the all intersticial spaces in the marbles and kill the well, FROM THE TOP!

NO MUSS, NO FUSS JUST A SLOW MOTION TOP KILL. It might take a couple of days to inject all the decreasing sized marbles, but it would be a lot faster than this project has been.

Incidently, if you filled the well with 1/2" diameter glass marbles with a SG of 2 and let the intersticial spaces fill with oil, you'd get an effective mixture with a ppg of about 14, which was adequate to control the well before the explosion.

You do not need to pump the kill materials down the well, if they have a high enough density and particle size, gravity will do it for you. Gravity is awfully reliable!

Stoke's law doesn't work inside Macondo, it's suspended by Reynold's Law, which says you got a 50,000 BOPD + 100 MMCFD flow coming at you. This takes the glass marbles and fires them up at high speed, until they hit something solid and shatter.

So what you get is little pieces of glass flowing into the productin equipment, or going out the vents and becoming the solid focus point for tarballs, which end up on the beach, where a kid steps on them and ends up with a tarred foot PLUS a cut from the glass.

To complicate matters, it could be this glass ends up sticking to one of those rare sea turtles, and when it gets picked up and it's being cleaned, the PhD they hired to clean the turtles gets her hand cut through the glove, goes into a panic, runs to the sink to wash it, and trips over the TV camera man's cable. And at this point Anderson Cooper pops into view and comments: "And now BP and the Coast Guard are sabotaging turtle cleaning efforts, what are you going to do about it, President Obama?"

Wow, your better at this then I am ha! Love the particle physics now and then too ha! Do people really forget that this is a oil well? What part of pressure do people not understand? Do they really think all these people involved are stupid? Shocking really isn't it. A woman from Los Alamos wrote a very interesting post on this very subject. Eye opener for me really. Maybe they write before they think? Haven't seen the all caps for a while ha! I know we disagree on how fast this should have moved but, I really do think the process was handled logically? Cheryl from Los Alamos right? Cheryl I have worked with a few of you high energy people and would love to see more of your posts on the topic!

Can you at least link the cheryl post? I'd like to read it.


Excellent post & discussion

I was hoping for something on particle physics...

ah, well here's some graphics describing physics of oil spills: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37517080/ns/disaster_in_the_gulf/

Anderson Cooper and some others on CNN have been a big disappointment since the BLOW OUT started. I stopped watching CNN. Can't stand the grandstanding. If Cooper is "keeping them honest" who is keeping him honest?

Why fair and balanced Fox news of course.

I can't do a whole lot better than this.


The Formation is porous sandstone - and if you look at it through a magnifying Glass it looks like millions of Teeny weenie marbles all stuck together, and between all these teeny weeny marbles there is even smaller teeny weeny spaces. Now that pesky oil is nice and hot and thin and can flow quite freely through these teeny weeny spaces - So at a guess - I would think it would flow right past your marbles.
Even if you kept reducing the size you would have to get down to the size of mud particles before you could stop the flow, and if you already filled the tube with marbles you have to get the mud stacked up real high on top of pile marbles - Couple feet of mud on top of marbles wont do the job - you still got have the mud column high and heavy enough to generate the pressure to stop the oil flow..

Drawing Board that way ---------------->

I think the plan needs a little bit of adjustment.

Well, I ran my model and if you can fill the well with marbles, the marble matrix has a permeability of 200 darcies, and the tube length is 13,000 feet, then you do get one hell of a pressure drop, the well flow would be restricted to less than 500 BOPD.

Why heck, that explains that. I knew a Darcy once who was an airhead and permeable. She wasn't a model though. She didn't work either. Her tube length I quite sure wasn't 13,000 feet as well. I think your number must be wrong. :)

I do understand surface tension sort of. It hurts when you suddenly slow down from a long drop onto water. A longer drop hurts more... to a point. :)

Borderline geenyus I am I suppose but anyway, I have a couple questions:

Worst case is oil flowing up the outside of the drill pipe? If so, and if the casing is damaged exposing the flow to the surrounding sandstone, shale, or whatever... is BP releasing meaningful information so you can determine where in the strata the breach is by the composition of the earthy material?

Can you tell the number of breaches by the different types of earthy stuff and how bad or quickly rock is eroding?

Thank you

There are a couple of gaps in the idea.

Once the well is killed you must have enough weight in the column to balance the formation pressure. Glass won't be dense enough. That bit is easy, you need something denser.

But there are two critical flaws that will prevent the idea working. Yes you might fill the well with half inch marbles. But now you must flow your next size marbles down the well to fill the intersticial spaces. In order to do this you are assuming that the column of half inch marbles has throttled the flow rate to a velocity small enough that these marbles will fall to the bottom. But these marbles will be about one tenth the size. You haven't done the calculations to show that the next sized marbles will drop. You need to work out the throttled rate.

But it gets harder. Even with little 1/20th of an inch marbles filling the well, you won't have killed it. You propose a next size down again. And you need to show the same properties. Somehow the 1/200th of an inch marbles will fall to the bottom of the well against the remaining flow. You need to work out what the final sized marble is, and show that they will fall down. These marbles must be able to seal against the formation pressure. They are going to need to be small. Very small. I doubt that even with zero flow of oil this will happen.

Then the final problem. Zero flow means that the you have the full formation pressure against the seal. Somehow you have to bridge the situation from flowing to not flowing by sending tiny little marbles to the bottom of the well, where against this pressure they will somehow fall into place, and then jam the spaces to seal the well. It isn't clear that this can happen. Indeed you are probably in a "can't get there from here" situation. If you had a killed well, you could probably hold it down with your column, but you probably can't get the column in place if it is not already killed.

They do this already, Marbles that is. Called a Gravel Pack isnt it? Designed for Sand control and increasing the flow

Are you forgetting that, as you reduce the size, the surface area that the flowing oil has to push on reduces on a square law while the weight which resists being spat out of the top reduces on a cube law. IE the smaller the marble the much more likely to be spat out.


Several week (months?) ago I suggested same idea but with heavier gold Krugerrands instead of glass marbles.

Creative idea but once you start to form a packed bed the pressure drop across the bed will result in fluidization of the marbles and they will come back out.

We could use uranium marbles. They're pretty dense.

But the trick would be to drop enough marbles to slow the flow down, and you can do that with a few thousand feet of marbles. Once you slow down the flow, then the marble mix has to become poorly sorted, call it a marble conglomerate, and that's going to have a much lower permeability. Say you drop a marble conglomerate on top, then you got even less flow, and then you follow it up with 20-80 spent uranium, and so on, fining it until the flow is say 500 BOPD + 1mmcfd. At that point the well is making so little oil, we can just let it vent and it becomes a tourist attraction.

You got to recall the key here is the flow cross sectional area - and we have to assume it's coming up the inside of the casing and not up the annulus, because getting marbles to go down an annulus is a little trickier. But if the cross sectional area is that of 9 5/8 inch casing, then if you can get the marbles to fall they will plug the well pretty good as long as you get several thousand feet of marble down.

It's clear from this morning's video that at least one of the drill pipes has significant flow coming up inside it. Which means inside the casing. But it's still quite possible that the oil is also coming up the annulus (outside the inner most casing, still inside the 16in casing), and I seriously doubt there's a path to drop marbles there.

Yike, if those get spat out you'll shoot down some of the boats on the surface! If you need something really dense how about rolled MSM hacks?


I asked for multi ROV views on one page and got these responses:

ALBlurker on July 10, 2010 - 10:27pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

DukeSlade on July 10, 2010 - 11:06pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

Thanks guys. Both work though AL's seems better/clearer.

Heading Out gets views in MUCH better/clearer resolution than I can find anywhere (even on single view pages). Do you have an "inside source" to those views, HO? When TV cameras are in the ROV hive(?), they show large (60"?) high res tvs used for rov reception, far better than any I can find on the net.

Thanks again, guys.

I have a question for the inquisitive lawyers I've seen post a few comments.

Can TOD file a claim with BP to pay for increase in resources required to service the increased bandwidth due to Deepwater Horizon incident?

And I apologize for any disparaging posts you may receive for answering this question. I am one who was very impressed with retiredl's explanation of the goal of a lawyer as the maintenance of order. I quickly realized life without lawyers would be a life of disorder. Unfortunately, I suspect many will create disorder with contrary observations.

I've spent quite a few years working overseas, and this is by far the most lawyer-ridden society I've ever seen. No wonder God isn't able to sue the Devil to make him behave, all the lawyers go to hell, and God doesn't have legal coounsel.

I see this as a real problem, we waste a huge resource with so many lawyers chasing a buck in some of the most ridiculous cases I've seen. I've had a guy file a lawsuit against me one year after my son tapped his read bumber, because that's when he ran into a lawyer who told him he could make a quick buck off my car insurance.

I'll give you the mirror image now: BP should sue the Oil Drum because it is failing to capitalize on the increased flow by selling advertisements, and isn't sharing the profits with BP. How is that?

As a 17 year old on my Dad's insurance policy, I negligently backed into a car that was parked in a fire lane. Although I had a legitimate argument to say the car should never have been parked where it was, I took responsibility and convinced lady of damaged car I would pay for all damages and I asked lady to go to a body shop and get a written quote and I would give her cash for that amount. A week or two later I gave her cash matching amount on her written quote and that was end of issue. By the way, I started working when I was 14 years old and 40+ hours a week during summer and 20+ hours a week during school. My Dad did not pay a penny because I had plenty of money in my savings account.

A few years ago, my 6 month old Nissan 350Z was rear-ended by a pickup truck when I stopped at a red light. The driver of pickup truck apologized to me for causing accident and told police he was cause of accident. The repairs to my car cost $14,000. And I rode to hospital with a lady friend who received a serious concussion and other minor injuries. More than three years have gone by and I have not been asked for a deposition by a lawyer nor asked to participate in a civil case.

I agree with you there are too many trivial lawsuits and I support any efforts to eliminate this travesty.

When in college, a friend of mine from South Africa said her Dad had to pay a bribe to a government official so she could receive approval to attend school in US. I am curious if any of the countries you've worked in settle disputes or conduct business via bribery. If so, I would enjoy hearing any stories you would enjoy sharing.

I had a similar situation when my wife backed into a neighbor's car. The result was a small dent in a front side panel. I offered to pay to fix it. The neighbor got a written estimate from a body shop for $800 that I agreed to pay. After my neighbor dropped their car off, the body shop came up with another $1200 worth of "visible" damage that they'd "missed" on their original estimate. At that point I turned it over to my insurance to deal with. My wife wound up with increased premiums that cost us $1500. When dealing with large unethical companies there is no path but to lose.

That is the truth.

One time I damaged a $600 wheel on my 944 Porche when I hit a pothole during a heavy rainstorm on the highway. First, I called the county and they said because of no reports of pothole, they would not pay for damages. I then called insurance company just to get a quote because I couldn't tell from policy how much they would pay. They said I would have to file a claim. So, I filed claim and a few days later I received a letter stating if I filed one more claim my policy would be cancelled. My only other claim was to replace a broken windshield and that coverage is required by state law and that claim was on a 2nd car on the policy, not the Porche. I was so upset, I mailed a nastigram to my insurance agent. He wrote back and said I should be thankful his company provided insurance for my Porche. Needless to say, I changed insurance companies shortly thereafter.

Well, I'm afraid offering bribes is a violation of US law, so I can't really say anything about that, because I never did it.

But bribery does take place routinely, it's done by others. Until the EU passed a law banning bribery, European used to do it routinely, the French in particular were really good at it.

As for everyday life, I know of one country where NOTHING gets done by locals unless they pay other locals for everything. You can't even get a passport issued unless you bribe a guy at the passport agency, you can't get a building permit unless you bribe a guy at city hall, of course all the cops take money, bribery is used at customs, you can bribe bank officials to give you a preferential exchange rate, and bribery at the state oil company is carried out in a gigantic scale - so much so they are barely able to function because they keep getting the wrong equipment.

I also heard stories in another country where their military bought only the equipment from the companies offering the better bribes. When you hear about a country buying something like a Russian submarine, you can bet there's bribery involved. It's really pervasive, a huge hidden tax, and it distorts daily life to such an extent, it's like trying to move in molasses. When I lived in Russia, I found out I had it pretty good, because the KGB

There are numerous reasons why we have more lawyers. One is that our system is designed to resolve civil disputes in particular way: People get private rights of action under the law and individually vindicate their rights in a neutral forum. In other words, the govt. does not do it for people like in some other countries. We could make it so that there is a govt. regulatory agency that vindicates rights, and in some areas of law there is (at least as a preliminary step), but gerneally we rely on a quasi-private civil justice system with citizens vindicating their rights on their own instead of govt., and with a jury of citizens instead of bureaucrats making the decisions. (The founding fathers carefully designed our system of justice, are you sure your ideas are better than theirs?)

The second reason we have more lawsuits is that the laws requiring insurance companies to honor claims are generally weak, such that it is far more profitable to string people along and low ball everything. They dont "have to" pay until you get a judgment. As a result the incentives are such that you can typically forget about getting just compensation even where clearly deserved without an attorney most of the time. And by just compensation, I mean getting out without a net loss, usually a significant one.)

Of course, the other alternative is to just let the wrongdoer get off the hook. Let the victim suffer the loss. This is the blame-the-victim and the we don't-need-no-stinking-jusitce solution. How dare you let that other person hurt you! You want compensation? You freeloader!

Once these same critics get in a situation where their loved one has been seriously injured, or they have had their life savings ripped off or their business destroyed, they are the usually first to sue (being the possessors of a finely tuned senses of outrage that they are).

Frivolous claims get ripped to shreds quickly in court. The surest way to go out of business as an attorney is to depend on frivolous cases, unless you are being paid a handsome hourly fee, which usually is the defense side, not the plaintiff's side. Most people cannot afford to spend money on frivolous claims and competent attorneys will not waste their time on them on contingency cases. Defenses can be just as frivolous as claims, though. Should ins. cos. that advance frivolous defenses be penalized for making people have to run the guantlet of the system in a clear case of liability?

Finally, having to go through the lawsuit process is often a traumatic and painful for the injured party. It is no fun at all. Few come out of it whole by the time everything is done and paid for. Most are willing to take less than their loss to get it over with and settle.

I think our system could be improved by making it easier and simpler to process most claims, and by providing stiffer penalties and disincentives for insurance companies to string people along and low-ball claims. That would get rid of a lot of lawsuits, but it would also significantly cut into insurance company profits. They prefer the system the way it is. It is more profitable this way.

Well, I still think we got too many frivolous lawsuits, and too many lawyers who got nothing better to do. Maybe what we need is to go back to square one, and pass a law outlawing lawyers. Then we can jest have guns and shoot it out the reg'lar way.

And you guys need to put me in charge of writing a new tax code. I got Price Waterhouse doing my taxes and they ARE STILL doing 2009. When I get the package from them, it's two inches thick, and I don't have any way in heck to figure out what I'm signing. This is just getting out of hand.

"Can TOD file a claim with BP to pay for increase in resources required to service the increased bandwidth due to Deepwater Horizon incident?"

Hoepfully some of the others will pipe in here if they're out there. RetiredL?

My response is that you have put your finger on one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of the law. Where do you draw the line? It is a question that evokes philosophy, physics, and notions of fairness/justice. It ultimately is a policy driven condideration as much as it is a scientific question.

There are two ways the law handles this in torts. The line is drawn by limiting the scope of the "duty" one person owes another to include avoiding only harms "reasonably foreseeably" (except in certain cases), and by employing a doctrine called "proximate causation," as opposed to in-fact causation. Both doctrines allow policy-driven considerations to limit liability even if the harm arguably falls within the scientific chain of cause and event.

As a general matter, cause-in-fact is a question for the jury. Proximate causation and duty are often a question of law for the judge to decide.

The seminal case is Palsgraf v. the Long Island Railraod, form 1928, Justice Cardozo wrote the opinion.

Plaintiff was standing on a platform of defendant's railroad after buying a ticket to go to Rockaway Beach. A train stopped at the station, bound for another place. Two men ran forward to catch it. One of the men reached the platform of the car without mishap, though the train was already moving. The other man, carrying a package, jumped aboard the car, but seemed unsteady as if about to fall. A guard on the car, who had held the door open, reached forward to help [*341] him in, and another guard on the platform pushed him from behind. In this act, the package was dislodged, and fell upon the rails. It was a package of small size, about fifteen inches long, and was covered by a newspaper. In fact it contained fireworks, but there was nothing in its appearance to give notice of its contents. The fireworks when they fell exploded. The shock of the explosion threw down some scales at the other end of the platform, many feet away. The scales struck the plaintiff, causing injuries for which she sues [the railroad for the conductor's negligence].

Should she recover?

The argument for the plaintiff is built upon the shifting meanings of such words as "wrong" and "wrongful," and shares their instability. What the plaintiff must [*344] show is "a wrong" to herself, i. e., a violation of her own right, and not merely a wrong to some one else, nor conduct "wrongful" because unsocial, but not "a wrong" to any one. We are told that one who drives at reckless speed through a crowded city street is guilty of a negligent act and, therefore, of a wrongful one irrespective of the consequences. Negligent the act is, and wrongful in the sense that it is unsocial, but wrongful and unsocial in relation to other travelers, only because the eye of vigilance perceives the risk of damage. If the same act were to be committed on a speedway or a race course, it would lose its wrongful quality. The risk reasonably to be perceived defines the duty to be obeyed, and risk imports relation; it is risk to another or to others within the range of apprehension (Seavey, Negligence, Subjective or Objective, 41 H. L. Rv. 6; Boronkay v. Robinson & Carpenter, 247 N. Y. 365).

The court found that no duty of care was owed to the plaintiff by the conductor when he helped the guy get on the train (nowadays, couductors will not help you jump onto a moving train, too many have been hurt/killed doing that. But in the case, the conductor was not helping the woman, nor was it reaonably forseeable that the package might explode and injure another by causing the scales to fall.)

I'd say there are many examples of indirect damage to folks due to Deepwater Horizon incident. Personally, I would call the cause for indirect damage an act of God. But I would also want exceptions. Indirect damage caused during the commission of a crime would be one. Since civil suits can't be filed against God, these poor folks would need to depend on insurance, benevelonce of government, private organizations, family, friends or be left on their own.

It may be helpful to have an elucidation of what is deemed direct vs indirect for the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Thanks for the illuminating comments.

PS. I've been on a jury three times and I loved every minute of it. Especially, the trial when we deliberated for 15 minutes to convict a felon for attempting to sell surplus military hardware to Iran.

The problem with the test for duty and proximate cause they are still just words that must be applied and that require a judgment to be made in terms of what qualifies as reasonably forseeable. The question does not answer tiself.

Conservative judges will interpret the standard more narrowly than liberal judges, as conservative judges tend to side with the defendant class (govt. and business) more often than with the plaintiff class.

It sure seems reasonable to say that the spill caused the moratorium. The law imposes a stricter standard than that, though. It would seem to meet the standard set forth it the case. Yes, business owners on shore are within the foreseeable group of people that might be harmed by a spill. So there would be a duty owed by BP not to cause harm to the business. But under a promixate causation test, the link is not direct enough. The harm resonably perceived is not a moratorium, but direct damage caused by the oil. You can analyze it under either duty or proximate causation, but the chain of causation or the relationship between the act and the harm is not direct enough to pass muster under the law of most states if not all.

Edited: Tried to make it more comprehensible

The new riser looks like a Daelek from Dr. Who.

Maybe it will send the oil into the future where BP will get a better price for it.

EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE. Damn, brilliant Dalek plan.

What is that blue thing? Is that a fan?

And the rope they are trying to loop around the invisible drill pipes, invisible due to the oil. This is looking ridiculous.

The loops needs to go around the whole flume somehow and then tighten up...the flow of oil is so strong it might block that.

so much for not waiting for the helix, it's going to be like this for a long time. They might as well lower the assembly thing and just feel around for those drill pipes. They're not getting anywhere like this. This is a disaster if it stalls out now.

I'm not sure if the Helix will help if oil / gas are still escaping unabated out of the top. It seems to me that any product the Helix took would just be diverted from the overall flow without reducing the flow at the top. IMHO Comments anyone?

I'm lost, how could it not reduce the flow out of the top if it's taking flow that would have made it to the top before it reaches it?

To be honest, I'm not sure. I am merely speculating and looking for feedback from people more in the know.

I work in the gas industry and I know that if a line is hit (in other words flow is re-directed somewhere) it doesn't change the flow downstream of the hit. As long as there is pressure upstream of it the downstream volume / flow remains pretty much the same.

In my opinion I don,t think anything drawn out of choke line will effect flow out of top.
The flow is already being restricted by a pinch point at the shear rams. So there would be more pressure below rams . So it is the restriction at rams that control flow out the top so nothing going to change.

I see, so it would lower the pressure in front of the rams, but now behind it.

The q 4000 did seem to lower the plume some though.

If they take enough oil, it's got to effect the oil coming out of the top though. It would make the rams less of a pressure point.

It's a fairly simple plumber's nightmare. You have flow coming up, and it splits. If you provide for a flow up one of the splits, the flow up the other side has to drop. Therefore putting the Q4000 on does reduce the flow at the top. Because the oil column is lighter than sea water, as long as the line giong upstairs is big enough, it's better to flow the oil all the way to the Q4000 - because another alternative is to take that line and let it spill at the sea floor, where it has 2200 psi backpressure.

If they can't get that cap on because they have too much oil coming out of the top (I take this is happening from comments), then they just need to make it heavier - they can pull it up and sling some weights on it which they can take off later, another 10,000 lbs of steel will do wonders.

I would have thought they had the calculations made to see how the flow would drive the piece of equipment as they tried to mate it. That's what the guys at Los Alamos are very good at.

Or did I get the comments wrong and they're doing fine?

I think ideally they would have waited for the Helix to come to full capacity before switching caps. But due to the relatively small weather window they have before the seas could become rough again, they're moving forward with switching the caps now. Remember the Helix was supposed to come online at the end of June. The two tropical storms delayed it so now they're switching caps and optimizing the Helix almost concurrently.

Enterprise 1 looks like they're lowering a cap.

I don't think that's the transition cap or whatever. Looks like they've given up on that. They'll install this thing and hook it back up to the Discovery, I guess.

That's the new Sir Topham Hatt. He'll go on last, I think.

I like the little silver fish swimming around it.

ooooh oooh ooooh!

I just thought of a good one for the conspiracy theorists.

Have not the least idea if it is true but it seems to work internally.

Q: What could BP have gained by delaying the Helix connection until the old cao was gone

A) No measurement of the unconstrained flow

The new cap can throttle back the flow, pressure and well integrity permitting.

The old one couldn't. Any excess escaped.

So now they hook up, throttle back to 28,0000 bbl/day and say, "Yup that is the most it ever produced and only 3000 bbl/day has been escaping since the AQ4000 came online."

That was one of Markey's claims while he was playing to the pitchfork carriers a few days ago.

I would like Markey a lot better if he had included me in his list of perfessors and pinheads with that oil measuring project of his. I wonder if he heard the government already has a task force to measure the rate, and they are divided into four sub-teams. Plus, once they do get that cap on, they can get all the data they need to make a pretty good guess of what the rate would be now with the old cap on.

What none of them has taken into account is the variability in the flow path conditions, erosion, asphalt and hydrate deposition, well depletion, and so on. They'll never really get a bang on estimate because those variables have pretty wide boundaries. At first I thought just measuring the temperature would do, but then I realized I didn't have a good handle on the flow speed all the way up, nor did I know what was the heat transfer set up because I don't know the actual flow path.

That's the most concise, effective summary I've read about measuring the flow. Good post.

Don't worry, they can hire a few mercs like me and we can show how much it was flowing using the data they get with the new cap on, as long as we get a pressure reading from inside the old top hat, we'll do fine.

However, if BP hires me then I can also show the well productivity index has been increasing over time as the channel where the oil was flowing eroded and increased in cross sectional area. This means the initial rate was 1000 BOPD, then went to 5000 BOPD, and it increased gradually. Or I can show the well productivity declined because the reservoir was depleting. I don't have the GOR trend, but you can do all sorts of magic with that as well. if it held steady, maybe it was depleting, or maybe it wasn't if it's an undersaturated volatile oil.

Conspiracy theorists?

Why would it take that to wonder about it?

Depending on the measurement of the oil coming out they could be facing some heavy fines. If they have been leaking 30k BPD then they could be facing a fine of 129 million a day.

You don't think they would cheat anyway they could on those recovered oil figures?

Perhaps an imperfect phrase.

I didn't say that it was impossible. I just don't know if that is what they did.

I believe that there will be some who are certain it is the case , however

I have questioned lots of their plans and motives, simply because they are a business and they are facing destruction.

I do not fault them for trying to save themselves and what they do will probably never effect me one bit.

I just hope the people we are paying in DC do the right thing and I hope the people who are truly hurt by this are compensated.

I am hearing a lot of stories of people losing their jobs in the service industry down there and went to working on boats. In the mean time a work force has showed up from all over the US and where the first deck hands on the boats were making 300 a day now they are making 50 and 75 dollars a day.

The residents who are stuck there have no choice but to accept the 75 dollars a day now to feed their families.

Well hoss, if I were an engineer working on that well for BP, or his boss, and so on up the line, I would not cheat an ounce, because that could turn out to be a criminal violation. And I've sat in enough meetings where this type of issue has been discussed (in other circumstances) to know that it's nearly impossible to get a group of engineers to cheat on purpose, because it's just too much of a pain in the behind to spend the rest of your life cleaning toilets because you tried to cheat a few numbers.

The only thing I have seen or heard of was guys cheating on their expense accounts. And I heard of a security service type who was allowing the security provider to bill for extra hours. But when it comes to something like this, everybody is in CYA mode, and it's all done by the book.

My understanding was that the Coast Guard and the Flow Rate Team were involved in the measurement of the captured oil. I really doubt there would be an opportunity to cheat on this point.

Kent Wells, at another briefing this morning, said getting the new cap installed "was not expected to be finished until Wednesday at the earliest." Also:

... After a request from [Animal Fat] to take advantage of an expected period of good weather and accelerate work to stem the leak, BP agreed to install the new cap as workers were bringing another collection system into operation. ...

Much like the failed blowout preventer, the new cap is outfitted with three valves that can be used to restrict the flow of the well. Mr. Wells said that as soon as the cap was installed, technicians would do just that, “shutting in” the well and taking pressure measurements.

Based on the results, he said, his team, with the help of government scientists and others, would decide how to proceed with other collection efforts.

The pressure readings would also be used to plan for the operation to eventually stop the leak and permanently seal the well ...

So they haven't given up on top hat 10? Not sure how they're going to get a loop of rope around the two drill pipes...they can't even see where they are. Is that a dealbreaker? The need to put a cap on which is basically another flange, so that it is wide enough to pick up both pipes easily. Or they could get that diamond saw down there again and try that...push the pipes against a side and diamond saw the top of them.

As for helix affecting total flow, if there's enough of a passageway through the rams, then I think it would...maybe not one for one, but the q4000 seemed to reduce flow when they brought it on.

It raises another question of the "true flow"...against what? A column of oil? Water? with some taken in front of the rams?

In the spirit of fair play and free speech I agree with the dissenters. We've seen a lot of technical browbeating and down-talk by nomenclature-familiar posters but it's becoming clear this stuff could have easily been done early on and taken a lot of oil out of the Gulf. I remember the same insider jargon, technical-talk posters coming on and telling us why they couldn't remove the flange - and low and behold 45 days later the flange is off in a few hours. I expect this could have been done in the first week. The same people were scoffing at persons who suggested the flow was much higher than what was being reported. And now, low and behold we are at, what, possibly 80,000 barrels a day??? I think we are seeing the insular culture of people who know not to say the wrong thing in front of the corporate head-choppers. From what we've seen the going rate here is make your bid and 6 to 8 weeks after being trashed and ridiculed it will be proven right. This is probably due to an identifiable corporate dynamic of stick with your facts while you can get away with it and let others do whatever they want with the truth later on after we have sucked the money out of the process. A form of corporate government ethic perfected here in America. The corporate Fagan's interpretation of 'small government' is what you see here. It is cutting down safety back-up so managerial yes-men can cut the savings down to the half-penny. Yet the use of safety to bully employees increases at the same time under these draconian cut-throats. Trust me, the safety model that was being used as guidance here was Ixtoc. The only difference being the potential blowback from citizens whose livelihoods or health was damaged, otherwise the two corporo-government culprits in cahoots here are saying to themselves "they'll get used to it quickly after we cap it."

The tragedy of this spill is how easily it could have been either prevented or seriously mitigated by some rather simple technology and advance planning. What you are seeing is tombstone safety culture on a vast environmental scale.

My view of the oil industry is it is supplying the energy means by which the world's environment is being progressively destroyed under the unquestionable guise of economic development. So even if you make your living by this industry you are still part of that equation and the human outcome that will mathematically result from this with scientific certainty. Somehow I think the popular "You drive a car so you have nothing to say" politic falls short of answering this.

There was a huge screw up (in addition to the lack of pre-planning) but people are focused on things that just wouldn't have made any difference- because that enormous BP screw up.

The screw up was the failure to provide sufficient processing and/or flaring capacity, To hell with sufficient, they should have immediately provided hugely excess capacity. Something very strange and I think psychological was going on at BP.
They weren't really scrimping, they were wasting billions due to, apparently, denial.

None of the ideas to capture more oil make any difference if they can't handle it. The failure to bring the capacity earlier is both criminal and tragic.

Back when people were debating why they weren't unbolting the riser I figured it was either

1) They couldn't
2) They needed to fabricate tools
3) It wouldn't have accomplished anything. They were capturing all the oil they could handle. And any action carried the possibility of making the situation worse- since they were already operating at 100% capacity.

Since 3 is true 1 and 2 don't matter.

As they say in Texas, sht happens. The World Trade Center could have been prevented with stronger doors on airplane cockpits. The first shuttle wouldn't have exploded if they had waited for a warmer weather window. And so on. When you think of it, this isn't as bad as it sounds, they killed 11 guys, burned a few more, and we got 10,000 dead birds and turtles. Compared to the mess in Iraq, or what's going on in Afghanistan, this is nothing. It just hits closer to home, and it has the visuals. I don't think people look too much for pictures of US soldiers with their hand on their bellies, trying to stop spilling their guts in Kandahar. So out of sight, out of mind.

While I'm at it, we are providing the energy means whereby we can reproduce like gerbils and destroy the planet, that's true. But maybe the answer is not to reproduce like gerbils. Because if I change hats and start building wind farms, and provide you with the electricity you need so we can keep reproducing like gerbils, then we'll still destroy the environment, because we'll need lithium batteries for all those fancy electric vehicles.

Regarding economic development, I'm all for living in a smaller house and I drive a smallish car. But I don't think you're going to convince anybody to go change their life style until energy costs a lot more than it does now, and that's not something Bob and Hillary want at this time.

"But maybe the answer is not to reproduce like gerbils."

you mean like the largest auto market in the world and their one child policy?

Nah. I mean reproduce more than 2.03 children per couple. Unless you're Muslim or like to play around, in which case the math gets more complicated.

I love my big family. They keep me company. Go pick on the rabbits.

R. O. Dent the Gerbil

further comment on your post

"When you think of it, this isn't as bad as it sounds, they killed 11 guys, burned a few more, and we got 10,000 dead birds and turtles. Compared to the mess in Iraq, or what's going on in Afghanistan, this is nothing."

I suppose the unlucky folks in Iraq could make the same argument when thinking of the even unluckier ones during the cultural revolution, or the person who lost their job compared to the one who just lost their left foot.

I am not sure there is much practical value in minimizing this situation, it is what it is and I think most would agree that a great deal of suffering has and will continue to be the result. I agree that hindsight is 20/20 i.e. your cockpit door example, however I think there is frustration at the idea that MMS may have been not fulfilling their responsibilities and that BP may have cut corners or made some poor assumptions including in their disaster planning process. As for the attempts to mitigate the current leak there is little doubt that the best and the brightest are on the assignment but also that they are implementing the plan as they write it.

In my very humble opinion conceiving of a disaster such as this and having a plan in place to deal with it is not an unreasonable expectation. Prior to Deepwater Horizon, I am guessing that the average person filling up at their local gas station would have assumed (if they had even given it a second thought) that there was adequate monitoring and disaster contingency planning for off-shore rigs, particularly those operating in US waters.

I think we're going to see a lot of people killed on shore via suicide or getting lost in the bottle after they lose their home or business. It will be interesting to watch the statistics.

But no, it isn't on the scale of Iraq. But 9-11? I wouldn't find that unbelievable.

agreed no where near the scale of Iraq or for that matter some recent natural disasters but what distinguishes is Iraq the idea that it needn't have happened i.e. I think most would agree it was based in part on bad info of the intentional or incompetent kind, or both.

some would argue that Deepwater H needn't have happened either or could have been prevented, that could be deemed the hindsight argument. But in terms of the response even though all involved are doing their level best it would seem that the contingency plans were not up to the challenge.

In terms of disaster preparedness and response, there's lessons to be learned from this incident.

Initially, I don't think anyone properly identified the scope of the problem, either in the planning, or response stages.

It is more dangerous to LIVE one year in New Orleans than it was for me in Desert Storm for 18 months. If you want the math for the Storm, 190 KIA/500,000 in theatre. Having been through both, this crap is much worse. This is my home.

Prior to Deepwater Horizon, I am guessing that the average person filling up at their local gas station would have assumed (if they had even given it a second thought) that there was adequate monitoring and disaster contingency planning for off-shore rigs, particularly those operating in US waters.

That's really the point. The average person doesn't give a second thought about anything to do with energy, unless prices jump radically, or it doesn't become available at all, or unless there is some major environmenta disaster like this one. When they turn on the light switch, how many people think about what it takes to provide that energy?

Then suddenly all these instant experts come out of the woodwork: "they could have done this weeks ago"..."it would be easy to just take a big pipe and hook it up..." etc etc etc.

I don't worry about my groceries either. How many folks die in the US every year from food borne illness? Maybe 3,000. Granted, the contamination could have occurred post purchase, but I am sure some are bought that way too. Get a spinach E-Coli scare, and suddenly everyone is a Botanist.

jet -- I don't think I would go as far as saying the American people didn't have a role in what's going on in the GOM. Granted, the accident is all on BP's back. But how is it they were drilling out there in the first place? The oil/NG in the OCS belongs to the American people. Neither BP nor any other company has any inherent right to drill out there. The feds, with the backing of the majority of the public, entered into partnerships with all the operators. Not only did the public get trillions in revenue but they're getting a significant chunk of domestic production from these efforts.

Again, BP is 100% responsible IMHO for the nightmare going on in the GOM. But the public is 100% responsible for BP and other companies drilling in these waters. The great majority of Americans say today that no company can promise this will never happen again. But the majority of these same folks support future drilling offshore. A bit of a disconnect there, eh?

Rock: Of course it is BP's fault. But it was just as likely a local decision-making gaffe (Including perhaps not monitoring mud flow ) as it is some major problem with BP E and P. People take an accident and then jump to conclusions about generalized competence and ability to design and implement the sub-sea effort we see. Often they ignore that BP has as much deep water facilities experience as any company, they immediately got all industry involved and the solutions we are seeing now were thought of the first week. I, for one, never expected them to build this stuff as fast as they have. It is not like sticking ingredients in a bread machine and having it pop out in a few hours. Pretty amazing engineering. Does not mean the spill should have happened or be forgiven. All the 24/7 brainstorming has involved outsiders too,so I assume they all signed off on the paths taken.
I spoke to several friends of various backgrounds before 9/11. Actually took a poll about increasing airport security, and putting in a tax. To a person, everybody was against it. After 9/11 they changed their mind. Things always seem simple in hindsight. Also easy to sit at home and be a bomb thrower. Most people could not find there way out of an open BOP stack with a map and flashlight.

My own opinion is if the feds were really apolitical they would allowed drilling to continue but with more BOP checks, perhaps stricter casing casing rules, cementing procedures, plugging even beyond what might be necessary until such time as permanent solutions are proposed/implemented.
Right now most of these rules are unnecessary as the spill, the lifting of liability caps and insurance will cause every company to be on its guard. The key is long term, on a worldwide basis things should in place to reduce accidents caused when the complacency of long term success
increases the chance for human area. I assume over time they will change BOP design, riser disconnect etc. i am sure they will have a bunch of containment caps etc that the industry can pay for and stations (but probably never need to use).

Because the spill response is like a war--no matter how much you game it or practice, once the real thing hits it is different-there will be a mega review of what did and did not work, org structure, strategy, skimming effectiveness. We are going to learn an awful lot about dispersant, movement of oil, biodegrdation and effects on ecosystems.(I bet we also find out a lot of things were done well)

My guess is that outcome will be worse than many hoped, but not as bad as many feared.

Keep up the good posts

dan -- Was lazy and just used "BP" to cover any individual or group. As far as the feds being apolitical in such technical matters I suspect we both agree those days are gone...if they ever existed.

Somehow I think the popular "You drive a car so you have nothing to say" politic falls short of answering this.

No, I think that's pretty much the response for everything here.

If only you could find a cheaper source of energy, the world might... oh, wait. You _can_ find a way to lower the price of energy from other sources, At the moment, natural gas is far cheaper than oil in terms of energy per cost. Anyone wanting a cheaper source than oil of energy look no farther. Companies are not drilling in 5000 feet of water for natural gas deposits.

You're not driving around in an all electric car, with the electricity produced from natural gas or solar or wind. It's still gasoline/diesel, produced from oil.

If you're on the conservation bandwagon, fine. Ban air conditioners from automobiles. People aren't even going to give up driving in comfort, much less give up oil. Since the first uncontrolled gusher at Spindletop, where the oil gusher flowed uncontrolled for days on end at 75,000 barrels a day, the oil finding business has been messy.

We all understand the outrage and many understand the attachment of motives to events, trying to connect things so as to make people in this seem evil. There aren't too many oil field folks who aren't totally pissed at BP. BP's actions have screwed up, not the Gulf, but the oil business for decades. Everyone in the business is being raked over the coals for something a small group of idiots managed to do. This falls into the category of "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe, the horse was lost, for want of a horse, the battle was lost" etc.

Nobody can change your mind on the outrage. I wouldn't even attempt such a thing. But "The Oil Industry" is what someone won a Pulitzer Prize for writing about. The Prize, by Daniel Yergin. A good read. ANY time you talk about money and power, you're going to talk about the disregard for everything else in search of that same money and power. Oil has represented money and power from the early days. The oil industry is much more than BP or Exxon, or OPEC. America is not only addicted to oil, it's addicted to foreign oil. Jon Stewart has a funny piece on that from a couple of weeks back. The last eight presidents have all wanted America to stop being addicted to foreign oil.

I wish us all the best in finding a substitute for oil. But whatever that substitute turns out to be, it will hold as much power as oil does today.

I think we are seeing the insular culture of people who know not to say the wrong thing in front of the corporate head-choppers.

In the spirit of fair play and free speech I agree with the dissenters. We've seen a lot of technical browbeating and down-talk by nomenclature-familiar posters but it's becoming clear this stuff could have easily been done early on and taken a lot of oil out of the Gulf. I remember the same insider jargon, technical-talk posters coming on and telling us why they couldn't remove the flange - and low and behold 45 days later the flange is off in a few hours.

I strongly disagree with this attitude. Didn't you watch the experiments the ROVs went through developing the techniques to remove those bolts? Clearly NONE of this stuff has been done before and it takes time and careful planning to prepare for such work.

It worked well this time because of the obvious careful planning and preparedness that was done beforehand. That doesn't happen overnight. Anyone who thinks this could be bypassed is very mistaken.

Going in half cocked in a rush is exactly what caused this problem in the first place.

It is STUPID to look at the results of a carefully planned process that went smoothly and say "Ah yes that was easy they should have done it earlier." And ignore the fact that the reason it went smoothly was there was a tremendous amount of prep during the lead-up.

You can criticize BP or the oil industry and its regulators for not having the foresight to have developed the technology to do this work before hand. That would be more fair. But remember that even the gold standard - the space program wasn't prepared for heat shield tile damage and the need to do in flight repairs which led one of the shuttles to break up on re-entry.

Those with a engineering background have been through projects - and they know success or failure is determined by the quality of preparation.

Mother Nature punishes short cuts. Mercilessly.

I got a good quote: "Necessity is the mother of invention". I bet our military wouldn't have developed all those drones they use now, if they weren't forced to do it. And the Iraqis wouldn't have figured out how to make big powerful IEDs which made half of our vehicle fleet obsolete unless we had invaded them. And I bet there's going to be a huge surge in well control technology now that we managed to kill all those guys and critters. It's our nature, we always wait until AFTER. How many of you have been checking your fire alarms lately?

Have you noticed nobody has published the gas BP is flaring as barrel of oil equivalent numbers?

On July 3rd, BP reported collection of 25,198 barrels and flaring of 57 MMCF of gas.

Now 5,800 CF of natural gas is approximately equivalent to 1 barrel of oil. I.E. the gas they flared on July 3rd was equivalent to about 9,800 barrels of oil.

Will the fine be calculated on the 25,198 figure or should they use 34,998, the sum of 25,198 and 9,800?

Lawyers will have a lot of fun discussing this issue for years to come...

It is on barrels spilled not captured or burned.

In a Times-Pic guest op-ed, Len Bahr, a retired LSU marine-sciences professor and former coastal-policy adviser to Louisiana governors from Roemer to Jindal, slaps Bobby upside the head with nine reasons his panicky berm-building is a mistake. As he labels them:

  • Absence of science
  • Questionable justification
  • Opportunity cost
  • Environmental cost
  • Changes to natural flow regime
  • Lengthy construction time
  • Sand berm fragility
  • Dubious benefits
  • An alternative active response

"I'm not alone in challenging this project," Bahr concludes, "although I can afford to be more vocal than most of my science colleagues. Many of them, along with their employers, fear the financial consequences of alienating Gov. Jindal, who tolerates no criticism of his sand berm fantasy."

You know what? The word on Bobby Jindal when he first came to national attention was how smart he's supposed to be. But dang, the more we see of him in action, the harder that is to buy.

Sounds like the well drilling and spill response from everyone.

* Absence of science
* Questionable justification
* Opportunity cost
* Environmental cost
* Changes to natural flow regime
* Lengthy construction time
* Sand berm fragility
* Dubious benefits
* An alternative active response

What Jindal has been doing is probably quite smart from a political standpoint.

I agree, I can hear him next election: " They wanted me to do study after study and get approval from committees of committees, and I just wanted to do something to save our coast".

Except that he'll look pretty silly next January when they're finished . . .

Seems to me they would have done a lot better dropping hay bales right in front of the marsh, pinning them down with 4 inch tubing shoved right down into the mud. A hay bale ought to let some water through, and it sure ought to pick up most of the oil. If this is patentable, give credit to Dr. Regus Patoff.

That's Bahr's suggested alternative solution too.

Hay has been used to collect at the shoreline before, (Santa Barbara), and is part of the oil response plan in Florida.

Although, interestingly, The Department of Environmental Protection might have a problem with it

I've heard in passing there are some problems with hay bales, anyone know pros/cons?

The part I like of the sand berm plan, is that it attempts to capture the oil before it gets ashore. I seem to default to preferring capture closer to point source.

Hmmm..... I wonder how bales of hay could cause long term damage or hinder clean up? I wonder what their idea of long term damage is?

Well, they did specify sandy beaches in that article, so maybe it'd affect the sand sifters? I don't know, I'd like to hear a little more details. It sounds like the folks in Clayton County are planning to use 'em anyway, along with concrete barriers. They mention the hay out in the water, as opposed to stakin' 'em to the ground.

Len certainly takes no prisoners judging by some of the guest posts on the blog he founded and edits


//that was the exact article I was thinking of from last week in response to Jetblast's post above.

As for the article, sounds like Len is more concerned with feeding the "highly charged political atmosphere" than he is in offering his decades of marine science/coastal advisement experience in providing results-based alternatives, but I could've misread that.

Is Jindal your Guv'ner?

Is Jindal your Guv'ner?

Not sure you're asking me, mtm, but if so, nope. I'm in Florida.

woops, I was, and I remember now.

The next time they need to part flanges use the old tried method of jacking bolts. Provide a hole and thread and put the bolt in and tighten. Twist until the other flange seperates. Three are preferred.

BOA #1: Looks like the transition spool is over the wellhead.

Could you spot whether they decided to strap together the two pipes or leave'm be?


Not that I could tell but I could easily have missed it in the cloud of oil.

Okay, thanks, jfxg. Considering how long every step takes, maybe that absence of evidence is evidence of absence? Guess we'll find out at the next briefing.

Is anyone looking at Discoverer Enterprise ROV2? It's camera is looking up at the bottom of some other cap, it looks like, and the encrusted grunge on the bottom is developing a lime green puddle trapped on the bottom of the grunge layer. Anyone have a wild idea what this is? Methane involved perhaps??

Nope, looks like they are still trying to lasso the pipes.


Heading Out:

The view from ROV1 also shows, intermittently, one of the two pipe segments inside the riser.

Sorry, but nope. Maybe add a correction/update and this view instead. The thing seen in the flow was a flap of the wall of riser pipe bent around when it was cut by the shears.

What's this cable business between the transition spool and the BOP? Looks like the cables will guide the spikes into the holes...?

Good article on the direct taxpayer subsidies the oil industry gets.

Which are huge although a drop in the bucket compared to the subsidies we give them by absorbing the cost of the externalities they have offloaded on us.

I'd bet the near-term costs of ocean acidification alone will be in the $100s/bbl


Actually not good as it has no details, does not compare royalties to other industries, foreign tax breaks of all industries, subsidies for crops and ethanol, R and D take breaks for all industries,and many other "tax breaks" are no different than in other industries. Can you please link me do Rep. Markey's and Sen Menendez proposal for multi-dollar per gallon taxes on gasoline and heating oil? I am certain they and their supporters must have been pushing for these for the last few decades and of course none of them drive. I wonder how come these guys do not complain about the massive profit margins and gouging that are in other industries like high tech. Oh yeah, those guys must have lobbyists too--and give donations.

Here we go, kids . . .

BP faces ExxonMobil takeover bid speculation
Reports suggest Barack Obama 'won't stand in way' of bid as UK oil firm looks to sell assets to survive

BP was at the centre of fresh takeover speculation after weekend reports suggested the Obama administration has told ExxonMobil – the world's largest oil firm – that it would not stand in the way of a takeover bid for the stricken British rival.

Before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill BP was Britain's biggest company with a stock market value of £121bn. Since then more than £50bn has been wiped off its share value and a number of potential bidders are rumoured to be circling to take advantage of its weakened state.

Oil industry sources were quoted as saying that ExxonMobil had been given a green light by the US government to "take a look" at BP. A merger would create a group with a stock market value of $400bn (£265bn). Both firms refused to comment on the speculation. ...


Today Apache Corporation, the US's largest independent oil group, was named as being in exclusive talks to buy investments worth $12bn from BP, including the stake in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America.

Neither BP nor Apache would comment. "We've said we're going to be divesting about $10bn over the next 12 months as a result of the spill, but we have no comment on specific deals," said a BP spokesman.

Hey wow, they're lowering the yellow thing down onto the blue thing right now ... as we speak! Sorry about the lack of precise terminology.

I have to weigh in with those who ask why they didn't do this ... or at least mention it as a possibility ... sooner.

A lot of folks did, btw. There was a ton of discussion of removing the damaged riser/bolts many moons ago. Why it took so long will be debated at length, I'm sure.

Wow! Awesome!

There was a ton of discussion of removing the damaged riser/bolts many moons ago.

1) They didn't know they could do it or what tools would work until they tested them on a piece of the downed riser.
2) They needed to build the gear to go on top first.
3) They needed to wait for a long enough weather window.


The new riser package has not engaged fully - a few inches high. I hope they are just being extra careful before they seat it finally - and it isn't due to some unforeseen interference or something unseen inside the old flange.

Given the uncertainty of what is inside the bore, I would have opted for a shorter internal collet, or a flat gasket.

It's down! Seated at 12:56pm PDT. Great job. That was some delicate maneuvering. I was turning blue for a minute there.

Remarkable job to lift the transition spool just enough to re-seat it with the proper alignment... even more remarkable to me was that the crane lifting it was a mile above it.

great job all around!

(and for those putting together a list of future improvements, get those patient, meticulous ROV operators some tools that can't be accidentally dropped.)

I think every tool designer in the industry has been watch those videos, probably told to do so by their bosses. That workbasket seemed to have 1 of every wrench made, on hand. I think the bolt/socket combination needs the most work to get them to align automagically.


I'm so stealing "automagically." Hope you don't mind, NOAM. Wanna footnote?

Sorry Lotus, my software company had "automagically" in the documentation back in 1995, and I'm pretty confident we didn't invent the term either. Here's a link about it from '06 IT site, merely a decade old that:

Right on, it has been around for ages. Best used when there is something mystifying in the way something works ;)
Lotus - carry on.


Ir really is remarkable. And they make it look almost easy.

But they planned very carefully! You know they did. With proper planning, you can do almost anything.

Planned very carefully ... and apparently did extensive testing.

Human beings are capable of doing extraordinary work when they're paying attention.

(I'm still amazed at the thought of lifting the spool around 3" from a mile above - no wonder they need calm seas. I suppose drill and support ships have had prior practice doing something like that when they lower BOPs onto well heads.)

It's not a matter of when. Whether you are sitting in the seat of a crane or running the draw works, you MUST be paying attention. No excuses. There are people's lives involved whenever you lift something. Not to mention crude oil from a well blow out. These new hoisting systems they have now are real nice. Not like the old clutch and brake days.

It sure does look like too much standoff. The cap screws are not long enough to get through the bottom flange to try to pull it all together. Maybe the spool is just cocked a bit. Looks like more bad luck. When will it all end?

When Mr. Fusion is ready. Assuming we don't fusion each other first.

Got these from Boa Deep C-Rov 1


BP containment cap

33 EST

34 EST

Thanks for pics, did anyone capture video of this, sorry but I missed it .. sheesh! That's what I get for running an informal half-way house for my friends.

Here's a video of the original drop in.. captured by someone over on the irc


They later lifted it slightly and reseated it.


Can someone tell me what I'm looking at in this camera? A robot has been working on whatever this is all day.

which ROV?

help people help you by being specific - the more details the better.

Not sure... I think it said #11.

That's the view from ENT-2.

I have been wondering the same thing. I have been speculating that it is the LMRP that was unbolted and lifted off with an overshot earlier. I did not see the actual fish happen.

The only thing they picked off with their overshoot fishing tool was the remnants of the riser, to clear the flange.

Overshoot flange fisher tool (sped up)
Flange Removal
Transition Spool Install

The video above is from the Discoverer Enterprise, which was taking oil to the surface via a loose fitting cap.

The overshoot was done off the Discoverer Inspiration,
another fancy drillship, for whom we don't have feeds yet.

Is the cruddy mushroom thing the float for the flexible riser that will connect to the Helix Producer? Would that have a section of hard riser passing through it? At times there has been a cloud of green gas there--we've seen green gas when they prepped the previous cap to receive hydrocarbons--nitrogen or methanol being injected by the ROV arm? But the float would be too near the surface to need antifreeze, I think.

That is the old cap, they have been pouring the "anti-freeze" to it all day trying to thaw the methane hydrate that formed.

Here is the feed.


If that is the case, why not just lift the cap into the warmer surface water and watch the hydrate fizz off? Seems cheaper and quicker.

it's not the old collection cap, it's the adapter package at the end of the Enterprise's riser pipe.
It got goobered up with the escaped oil.

So it's at the end of nearly 5000 feet of riser pipe,
with drill pipe inside the riser.

They don't have a 5000 foot tall derrick to lift it to warmer waters,
so they'd have to lift joint by joint,
but doing so with pipe inside pipe is very difficult,
as I explained in

Thank you, very clear.
I missed your earlier explanation, so I thought it was just a fairly short piece like the cut off riser.

On a separate item, yesterday one of the ROVs, Enterprise 1 I think, cut off a piece of extraordinarily thick walled pipe with a radial saw.
The wall diameter looked to be the same as the bore of the pipe. What was that all about?

There is something mysterious about it. Why are there so many crystals in it? How was oil ever going through it?

Did the crystals form when they were removing it?

Are the crystals still forming? Once there were seeds will they just continue to grow in that water below the well?

Maybe they want it down there in case everything goes haywire and they need to use it again and all the crane time is taken up now?

Enterprise #2.
Just saw a little oil droplet come out, trailing bubbles, whizzing around like it was alive.

looks like hydrate ice and/or asphaltene glue sticking the drill pipe (that was used to recover oil) inside the assembly at the end of Enterprise's riser.

see this post above on why they'd want to get rid of this:

On his blog at The Atlantic, James Fallows reports on a July 9 session of the Aspen/Atlantic Ideas Festival called "How Will We Drill for Oil?" presented by Joe Leimkuhler of Shell. (Shell was a sponsor/underwriter of the conference.)

Fallows says the video isn't yet up on the Aspen archive site but should be in a few days, here:

Excerpt from Fallows's description:

...The presentation was different from anything I had seen before, in laying out step-by-step the differences in how you could design a deepwater well, with multiple, redundant fail-safe points and blowout-prevention systems (which is what Shell says it does), and how, according to Leimkuhler, BP did design and drill the well that has so catastrophically failed in the Gulf. On one side of his chart, Leimkuhler showed the multiple check points and controls on one of his wells; on the other side, the BP well with most of those controls and fail-safe points omitted.

Fallows's post is here:

I think that it's time to bid BP adieu--in regard to them ever again operating a well in US waters.

Since I know near to nothing about oil and gas exploration this question may seem obvious to many. I watched the bp videos about removing the riser flange and it mentions that they have two drill pipes in the remnants of the riser that will stick out and have to be avoided. My question is: What is the purpose of having two drill pipes down the hole at the same time?


No purpose, not supposed to be there, somehow resulted from the blowout.

It wasn't intentional. As a matter of fact, until a few days ago BP was claiming it wasn't possible for two pipes to be there, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

See yesterday's discussion of the two pipe phenomenon at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6714#comment-673282 .

Deleted -- redundant.

pict -- No reason to have two strings of DP in the hole during normal ops. One thought is that the force of the blow out parted the DP and caused two segments to be lodged in the BOP as it was activated.

They have added some new feeds.


Thanks for that - I updated http://www.mlittle.com/bp/ and added credit link to http://data.plan9.de/akamai-bp-streams.html

Hope no one minds me leeching off the hard work of that page's owner. Let me know if so, and I'll drop those extra feeds.

Using one of the links displaying all the video feeds, I watched for about an hour as the transition spool was carefully lowered into place. I noticed several times, when the jet of oil was clearly visible, that there were two distinctly different colors of fluid flowing from the well: a lighter, yellow-brown stream, and a much darker brown or black stream, as noted by others over the past days and weeks. There has been a lot of discussion and speculation, attributing this to different flow paths, possibly connected to the two pieces of pipe observed.

What struck me is the lighter colored stream was not visible after the dispersant injection line was removed, just before seating the transition spool. Is it possible that the color variation was just a consequence of injecting dispersant, perhaps accompanied by entrained sea water?

It was visible when they took the cap off before they started adding dispersant. It was also visible when they cut the riser before adding any dispersant.

Thanks -- shows the problem of watching for just a short time. It is hard to stay awake while watching most of the operation.

I took some screencaps because I was seeing that too.....is it sulfur...? Is it possible sulfur could have been held at triple point in the res or the field ? Here's the pics. I am curious to hear what people here say about this, because now the rumor is that this is a sweet well, but that looks like more than 1<, and isn't that the threshold for the sour label, ...any more than 1% sulfur and it's a sour well...?


So I have to say, it was impressive watching them work to put the new flange down, can't says I would have chosen to sew at 5k', but the angular shear on the male end , and the torsion bars on the sides were great. It's really a beautiful application of simple mechanics. I was curious why they opted not to just attach a "stinger" on a 180 balljoint attached to the male end, maybe 2'x1"x1" to guide the initial hook-up, but hey, they got there, that's what counts, it is inevitable that an outcome will happen, A or B, glad it was A. I have gained a massive amount of respect for those of you that work in any of the endless fields that fall under the moniker " Big Oil "...a whole hell of a lot of people fail to see that not everybody who works these industries is out to destroy the universe. In fact, since we are all at the core, very similar, and ultimately desire the same things, I find it interesting that many on other forums, the yelling and explanations of why " it will not succeed ", when SOME solution will satisfy. So kudos to those of you that are working on this. The study of Bayesian probability and public debates has opened my eyes to some very humorous things. I go to places like the Yahoo investors board to observe the monkeys trying to get the banana on the string, then I come here to see what the researchers say. I like standing on this side of the partition much better.

That said, I still have some questions, but they are about kills.

I understand how Bingham plastics work and I understand how hydrostatic kills work. Please correct me if I am wrong, normally they "soft drill" relief wells, to error on the side of caution when making the initial intersect, to avoid a massive "kick". If the kick is the sum return of the initial wave created by two opposing column faces , and the return is the wave determined by the porosity encountered in the "walls" of a trap, right..? I mean, the energy will go where it can and the rest will choose plan B, of which which is time dependent on the event. So what can't dissipate into porous rock will will effectively go " backwards " towards the first exit, running not walking. Would the aperture of the intersect, or the aperture into the trap be considered a Venturi tube...? I mean, the grade of the enlargement is much less severe, but ultimately the same in principle..? Casing string, small to large, bottom to top, respectively..? What happens if they reach equilibrium and a section pops laterally near the bottom of the gelled column of mud, from any HS stress cracks..? If there is a chance that there is an external void between the casings( there are 2 right ? ), doesn't that mean that stratigraphic pressures are not delivering direct support to the intrinsic strength of the bore. ?

Would the kick from that be massive or inconsequential..? I could see both A or B. I'm picking A, but that's personal. I like to say the best mechanics have no morals.

What's an HS crack?

While I'm at it, there's nothing empty down there. It either has

1. low porosity and permeability rock (shale),
2. Porous and permeable rock (sand)
3. Mix of the two (shaley sand)
4. Void space (full of mud or hydrocarbons
5. Cement
6. Steel

I believe the relief well is drilling in shale. So, let's say they have mud which puts a 1000 differential pressure across the rock standing between the relief well and the whatever has oil flowing up towards the surface (some say it's the annulus, I say by now it has to be a wormhole running vertically alongside the casing string). Eventually the rock they're drilling ought to crack and they'll just have a bunch of mud squirting from the relief well into the flow conduit alongside the wild well.

Typically, this makes the driller holler and cringe, and the company man starts looking real worried. Now, I suspect they got somebody nearby, say an old guy with a typical oil field name like Wright, or Arceneaux.
This guy will probably tell somebody to speed up the pumps and start putting a lot of mud down the hole.

Meanwhile, the guys sitting in Houston will watch this going on and go say their prayers, because this is when the kill operation has to start. And I sure hope they got themselves hooked up to pump down the kill line if they have to. I would have a boat hooked up to the kill line, and another boat hooked up to the rig just in case.

I don't know if this answered your question. My main concern would be to see them put so much pressure on they'll frac the well, and I haven't seen the well logs, they could have more than one sand feeding in, so this could get kind of complicated.

Lol, thanks for the rundown. There's really only 2 types of stratigraphic traps, shear pockets, or fold traps, I think folds are called " Gumbo zones " and are the underside of a salt finger , brine channels help to guide the oil....the surrounding field is always specific to the area, and each different from what I understand, yeah many different rock types and porosity encountered . here's a closeup of an offshore bore return from the initial drill.


HS cracks are stress cracks from reactions of sulfuric acid, seawater can meet rock and form it, or it can be formed in the reservoir.( I believe, otherwise it wouldn't end up coming up the casing ) Sulfide stress cracking it's called. It's a problem for both the outside face of the concrete in the bore that makes contact with the surrounding rock, and the inside of the casing. The analysis being circulated online showing a sweet well does not correlate with the elevated H2S levels in the G.o.M.

But anyway, the plastic zone is where the metal becomes weak at the molecular level and is subject to creep when stress is applied. No big deal normally because surrounding pressure on a bore lining is like squeezing an egg. It strengthens it..until force is applied unevenly, like this >0< . Anyway, my point is that there is always a kick when they intersect, normally gravity takes care of the problem, but lateral failure is not subject to gravity very much at all comparatively. Yeah... eventually the ball falls....

-Also just wanted to add this because I don't know if it is being applied in current drilling tech, but has a very real possibility of utilized. Faraday waves in Non-Newtonian fluids will introduce radical structures. Waves travel through solids with more resistance than liquids...yada yada..Mud is an NN fluid type .It would not increase the density of the mud, per se, but rather create great difficulty for opposing waves to travel through the material, and the wave can travel up the solid casing to follow the mud for some way, all the while imposing it's actions..how the structuring takes place at the intersect of face , I'll admit, I do not know, but given the actions of a drilling mud, I would be very interested to hear from some of you, what are your opinions about this.

check out this video.


I wouldn't know about this. The well is pretty new, and there's no reason to have a lot of H2S down there. Therefore stress cracking due to hydrogen isn't something I've given a lot of thought to.

Now, if you try to be less scientific, maybe I would get your concern. For example, are you saying the casing is going to collapse because the mud pressure is going to be a lot higher than the pressure inside the casing? I don't really get your point otherwise.

Ok, sorry man, I get paid to analyze things, so sometimes I get long-winded.

The weight in a vertical fluid column is distributed at the bottom. The bore is a dogleg at around 18k ? The final casing in a well get's bigger as you go from the deposit to the seafloor.? For every larger section of pipe that fluids encounter as they comes around a dogleg of system from lateral to vertical, the pressure gradients change. It's time dependent too. So if you have specific M=pva in this scenario, then you can estimate any "kick" encountered. Anytime fluid enters a larger bore traveling up, there is a slight momentary drop in velocity. My question is that if the bore/casing is damaged, say at something like 16k' , could hydrostatic load pop a weak casing..? Let's say they successfully get equilibrium and 5 minutes later something gives. That whole column above the point of "give" immediately starts to fall downward. When you break the equilibrium , doesn't the mud become fluid again..? Muds gel when they stop moving and settle right..? That's a mighty big hiccup , normally it's either going back into the res, or up to the surface.. And thanks for pointing that about about hydrogen , I appreciate your patience answering my questions, even if ultimately the are the wrong ones.

Update on Sir TinFoil. I cannot post or name for political reasons, but I just got support for no burying from an active, unopposed County Commissioner. Called those other guys 'Evil Commissioners' too. Dr. Res, I am above 50/50 now.


It seems there is little we can do to rescue BP by expertise, why ????, now it has lost Prudhoe Bay, which after reading last year's activities does not surprise me. It wastes its own resources and income. Well the oil prices are now high alike meat in UK after the USA imported Vets shot all the sheep at British Government instigation after the Cornwall terrorism. Justice will arise, but that is a bad collapse of an oil company that should have known from 1960s drill how to do the job. There is no oil crisis, just people burning gas, leaking oils, starting wars, burning Kuwait Iraq, spilling diesel. This may be good politics it is a disaster for people who need oil, farmers, water supply. But excellent Conservative Party Republican warfare. MD Stagg BScWales hydrology soils Geology UCW 1969 MSc Senior Lecturer 1978 . Portishead England

In the now you see it, now you don't category... after the riser stub flange was removed, there was only one drill pipe showing. (That explains why nobody saw two pipes being tied together as shown earlier in the animation.)

From Wells' afternoon briefing today

Mr. Wells said one surprise was that when a remaining stub of pipe was removed from the top of the well early Sunday in preparation for the cap installation, only one piece of drill pipe was found inside. Earlier video had shown two pieces of drill pipe in the stub — one that should have been there and another that ended up there after the blowout.

“We don’t know where the second piece of pipe has fallen to,” he said. "

Connector pipe for new cap installed ...

Perhaps the second pipe was being held up by crimped riser - once that was cut off, it dropped into the BOP. Maybe by now there is a section with three parallel pieces of pipe.

I had a side feeling that would be the case. Only 1 jet showed when the riser was cut which suggested 1 pipe. Had an exchange with someone the other day as to what was seen in the riser as it looked like female thread which I was told should be facing up not down. So it looks like a stray rather than something stuck through the BOP. I found it particularly odd that it just happened to be at the cut. Also note that the other end of the piece of riser has just one pipe in it. Maybe it fell down the riser from the rig end?


Anyone got an update on the bolt status ?
I saw Ocean Intervention III – ROV 1 with what looked like bolt-tightening a while ago, then it moved to a pressure gauge, that pulsed to ~ 2000psi

Do they have the spool torqued down, and are seal testing already ?

This has been quite impressive in speed, and precision of execution.

Now I see Ocean Intervention III – ROV 1 is back to spool and I think bolts are visible fitted ?

No update, but last night, after they had changed over to what looked like a bigger torque wrench, they were pulsing to close to 7000 PSI to loosten the bolts.

Ahh, so the gauge will be on the Bolt-tool. Makes sense, just seen it head to ~5000psi a couple of times.

The 2:30 technical briefing by Kent Wells confirmed that both pieces of pipe in the riser were drill pipe. When they pulled the flanges apart today there was only one, so they didn’t need to cinch them together before installing the transition spool which is now in place and being bolted down. (They are using ROVs equipped with hydraulic socket wrenches).

Go to BP.com and check out the animation as well as the most recent technical presentation from the 9th.

I've really enjoyed watching the ROVs work for the past few weeks...why don't we throw a party for them? TOD could host it, viewers could fund it! I'd certainly be willing to donate $10 for "refreshments" for the ROV gang...no?

WSJ floating rumours of Exxon bid for BP


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Last updated at 1:24 AM on 12th July 2010

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Takeover plans: Oil giant Exxon have been given the nod by Washington to mount a £100billion bid for struggling BP

Takeover plans: Oil giant Exxon have been given the nod by Washington to mount a £100billion bid for struggling BP

Oil giant Exxon has been given clearance by Washington to mount a £100billion bid for BP as the embattled British company undertakes a high-stakes gamble to cap the Gulf of Mexico spill.

The U.S. government has told Exxon that it will not stand in its way if it chooses to attempt a takeover.

Sources said the American oil group - which was responsible for the world's biggest oil spill until the disaster in the Gulf - had expressed a 'serious interest' in the deal.

The development came as BP removed a containment cap on the well to put a better one in its place.

During the procedure there will be no means of controlling the leak, meaning some 2.5million gallons of oil will gush into the sea until it is sealed again.

Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, BP has lost more than half its share value.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1293944/US-oil-company-Exxon-giv...

I found this interesting. It's from the Kent Wells press briefing this afternoon:

>>On the second relief wells, we've reached our casing point there at just slightly above 16,000 feet. We're setting casing, we'll cement it, and then we'll stand by at the point. The plan has always been to drill to that point and then wait.

We don't want to have two of the relief wells in close proximity at the same time. It could potentially interfere with ranging et cetera. And so we'll just wait there and then we'll be well positioned if we have any issues with the first relief well to continue on with the second.<<

If you're getting bored watching one ROV at a time, there's a website that shows all 12 ROV cams simultaniously:


It's the Fox 10 TV station in Pensacola, Florida. Your computer may have trouble loading all 12 screens simutaniously, I switched to Firefox and it ran fine.

Rick Steele


Has anybody heard if there is a live webcam in the Blimp?