BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Starting to Change the Cap - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6718.

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.

A continued humble and sincere thank you to all who have donated thus far. It will help us pay for the fourth server we brought online to accommodate the increased traffic. (See point 3 below.)

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

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

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

That being said, if you are inclined to help out, your support is always welcome and very much appreciated. To those who have already given, thank you very much.

You can find the donate button in the top left hand corner of the main page.

4. If you have come here to vet your plan to kill the well, understand that you will be queried on whether or not you have read all the other previous comment threads and all the myriad plans that have already been run by the kind folks in this room; if you have actually read all the comment threads and still think your plan has legs, well, then maybe yours really is the one that will save the Gulf of Mexico.

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

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

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)

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

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

@ Rockman, Heading out et al

The gauges they are showing are cycling between zero and 2500 to 4500

Any idea what units?

Furlongs per foretnight or lb/square inch?

ergs per hour?

I do note that the 4500PSI was posited early on as the well bore pressure below the BOP.


American hence PSI. If they have any sense they will only use the one unit throughout.


We do. Dollars. Like dollars per MMS bribe.

woerm...your "Furlongs per foretnight" comments brought back memories of my ME thermo class 40+ years ago. Our prof was emphasizing attention to units and used exact same expression.

I love the term.

Heard it used about F104 and F102.

(pilot to group of students) "at these speeds it doesn't matter if it's knots or furlongs per forte night, we don't adjust ETA, we adjust airspeed. "

edited to add, I was probably the only one in the room who had a clue what a furlong was (1/8 of a mile, length of a furrow in a farm field)


Is Ent ROV2 trying to free the "missing" second pipe from the LMRP Cap top half? Presumably it was pulled out earlier inadvertantly since it became "welded" by the clathrates; and it (an interesting piece of evidence) will fall out on the way up to the surface.

No, they sawed off the lower part of the drill string with the old collection cap.

Now it looks like the LMRP assembly + warm water vents (way above - not visible) has the drill string (that the Enterprise used to take up oil/gas) stuck in it by methane hydrates and/or asphaltene, etc.

I covered why they can't/won't bring it to the surface "as-is" here:

BTW (for etudiant and others curious about the thick-walled pipe that was cut to drop the collection cap)
From some Kent Wells missive a while back, he mentioned there would be "drill collars" in the string.
These are heavy walled pipe, usually used to weight the drill bit and provide some extra rigidity/guidance down where drilling is going on. Many times they have spiral channels in the exterior, to provide passage for mud return. But to pass thru and seal in the annular preventor (a big rubber gasket that can be squeezed tight) that's part of the Lower Marine Riser Package at the end of the riser, then used "slick joint" pipe - smooth on the outside with no belling out for joints.
In the case of the collection cap, they wanted more weight to keep the thing on the BOP.

They could have bolted a riser to that flange days after the accident, but have been just playing around instead of really trying to solve the prolem.

They didn't have the tools (or the necessary information, I suspect) to do it then.

No they couldn't, both Home Depot and Lowe's were out of stock of the bolts. :)

They could have bolted a riser to that flange days after the accident, but have been just playing around instead of really trying to solve the prolem

No they can't. They don't have the mean to control the flow of the oil/ng mix if you have just a riser. The oil/NG mixture can easily blow away another drill ship if it exceed the production capacity of the drill ship (which we already know that the well produce way more than 25000bbl a day). they have to have a way to vent the excessive oil/ng out to the sea and not letting them reach the production vessel.

I have not been following all the details of the BP efforts to fix the spill nor all of HO's reports. But one thing does strike me: a few days ago, all the talk in the MSM was of the relief well(s). Now that has virtually ceased and all talk is of the cap. There are no transitional paragraphs or even sentences. It's as if the relief well(s) option has disappeared.

The relief well option was aimed at stopping the flow of oil. The cap option seems aimed at bringing the oil to market. Those are the appearances. I am, naturally, quite sure the actuality is to best serve the interests of all the people affected by the spill.

Welcome to the world of 30 second sound bytes that is the MSM(main stream media). You were expecting real content?

Edit: The new cap is to keep the oil out of the ocean until the RWs can be used to stop the flow permanently.

The fine oil folks here have explained there are multiple purposes of new cap. There has also been a little friendly quibling concerning the importance of the various purposes.

1. Enhance success of relief well by preventing flow of mud into Gulf or riser via shutoff valve
2. Provide a relief well failure contingency to continue capturing oil
3. For continued capture of oil, increase the percentage of oil captured compared with current cap

For all three purposes, the primary goal is to stop flow of oil into Gulf

If and when RW mud starts coming up the riser, they shut the vents to increase hydrostatic head, effectively pushing mud down into the reservoir and later balancing WW to allow massive cement job to cure. Personally, I don't think any of this will work, because I believe there's more than one interval producing and at least one fracture zone.

avon -- It doesn't matter if there are 10 zones producing. If they can establish a mud column of sufficient weight that exceeds the reservoir pressure of those zones the well will stop flowing. It may seem counterintuitive but it doesn't matter if it's 10 zones or 1 and if it's flowing 50,000 bopd or 50 bopd they won't be able to stop the flow unless the pressure exerted by the mud column is greater than the reservoir pressure.

Certainly. I was thinking of the cement job.

avon -- For sure. Killing the well will be one thing. Getting the cmt everywhere they need may be even more difficult.

Unless the frac gradient is altered by production? What happens if you have a 10 ft stringer of crappy turbidite and it's lost pressure? The frac gradient will go down. Now you got those guys pumping mud like crazy going up the wild well, possibly using the annulus to climb higher. So you got a dynamic pressure drop, you got a nearly virgin fat zone below, and this little stringer of depleted zone somewhere on top of the main pay. And suppose this little pay zone fracs, and starts taking mud. The mud is cold, and it cools the rock, so it has a tendency to frac even more. So now you are trying to balance the pressures with the thick lower zone building up pressure (it's going to build close to the initial pressure because it's big, fat, high perm), and you got this little zone you can't pump up because the mud just cakes the wall, and it keeps on chugging making a longer fracture... that could get confusing. I suppose eventually the fracture gets so long the mud can't put pressure at the tip, and it stops growing. As long as it doesn't grow up. Do you have a well log and pressure plot for the Macondo you can share?

4. To make for faster and easier disconnects/reconnects if a hurricane moves through.

I think that, at the moment, the first relief well is starting to run its last length of casing. Because this is going to take some time, since all the measurements that might not have been taken on WW will certainly be carried out this time, there is not a lot going on in that operation at the moment.

On the other hand the change-out of the end cap, with moving lights, swirling oil, and physical action gives something much more dynamic and visual to write about that also has the benefit of watching what is a significant step to a conclusion of this process.

I re-read today's (7/11) NYT article, p.20 and it does mention the relief well in the last two paragraphs. Still, it remains my impression that the relief well option has greatly dropped in visibility in the last few days in the MSM.

And a question remains: the cap does seem aimed at capturing the oil, bringing it to surface, and one might imagine, with BP being a profit-oriented concern and all that, to market. So there's an itsy-bitsy contradiction here: plug the thing up, stop the flow, OR, capture as much as possible, never mind a certain amount of leakage.

These are the pesky little things that bother me sometimes.

The relief well is in a 'hurry up and wait phase' until casing and cementing is done. All the action is on the cap so I guess they are paying attention to where the news is, as you would expect a news organisation to do. As far as profiting from the captured oil, they are giving away all profit from the sale. Mind you they do profit from reduced fines.


Mind you they do profit from reduced fines.

Hm, yes. Is this revenue over and above the fines AND liabilities or simply deducted from it? If the latter, it's meaningless.

The liabilities, were they set at anything near reality, would amount to several times the market cap of BP. Of course, they won't be.

They are fined on oil spilled to the environment, so much per barrel. Every barrel collected doesn't get fined so reduces the fine COMPARED to what they would be fined if the oil was leaking. Hence the benefit of collecting.


Ok, clear. But that still leaves the question of the relation of the revenues generated by the recovered oil and the other liabilities. Is BP turning this oil (or revenue) over to the gov't to disburse quite aside from its liabilities? How can one know the collected oil is really a donation, i.e. a real donation? The importance of knowing this is clear: money influenced technical decisions that led to the spill -- is money going to influence technical decisions in dealing with the spill? If there's enough of incentive, one can envision a scenario where the oil is allowed to continue leaking, some captured, some not.

There is a much darker scenario that I will throw out: suppose TPTB decided to write off the Gulf ecosystem. Suppose that it were considered beyond salvaging. What would then be the point of drilling bans, regulation, and other such nuisances? There would be no furhter impediments to maximum exploitation of the Gulf.

Such are the dark thoughts that afflict me on occasion.

You mean the question quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The answer is us.


(Us being the population in general)

BP is donating all their profits from the recovered oil to WFSF (hope I have the acronym right).

As for as the gulf being a dead zone, that is rediculous and doesn't match what the scientist at LSU are saying or what I am seeing when people post all the great catches of fish being made where the oil first came ashore around Califronia point and north and in Baritaria bays western side.

Omegaman,link to your sources. Here are mine.

An unusual low oxygen zone in Gulf of Mexico waters off the Alabama shore has persisted for more than a month, and evidence points to the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill as the cause. Oil spills can deplete oxygen in water by providing a source of food to microbes that grow on oil and consume oxygen in the process. Researchers can't say how low oxygen levels will affect the region's ecosystem in the long term, but for now, most animals that can swim away have left the area. Plankton in the zone have died. The researchers measured low oxygen levels along the entire 40-mile stretch they sampled around Dauphin Island, Ala., from about 40 miles offshore to within a mile or two of the shoreline. The bottom layer of water was oxygen-depleted at depths of about 30 feet close to shore to 100 feet further out, along the continental shelf -- a rim of shallow water tracing the coast from Mississippi to Florida.
"It's not little local pockets," said Monty Graham of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who is tracking the zone. "It's over a regional scale. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a band of low oxygen over that entire area between the Mississippi River and Apalachicola, Florida."

Full article at http://news.discovery.com/earth/gulf-mexico-dead-zone-oil-spill.html

And of course it is not the WHOLE GULF - yet

BP is donating NET revenues to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). see http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7063047

The question is what do they consider NET - usually net is revenue less costs. If they count all the costs of the various caps, skimmers etc there will be little net left if any

My guess, and it's only a guess (as I have NO oil drilling experience or knowledge other than what I have gained here on TOD), is that this "Sealing Cap" is heavier than that the 5,000' of 22" diameter riser pipe (broken off when the rig sank) full of "mud" would have been so the well can be killed by the Relief Well(s). In other words without the weight of the SC (or riser full of mud), mud pressure/weight inserted by the RW would just flow from the bottom up and escape out the top of the well before the RW can insert enough to overcome well pressure.

Just shutting off the top of the well to stop mud escaping might build enough pressure to blow the existing well casing right out of the well if the casing is damaged. In which case would result in a completely out of control well, pushing several times (maybe 10 times or more even) as much oil/ng out is coming out now (estimated as high as 60,000 bpd right now). Then it would be time to call in the Navy with enough firepower to ex/implode the well. {shudder}. Or the Air Force to drop one of those bunker busters. {double shudder}

And/Or 2) If the RW fails (for whatever reason) and there's no good reason why it should but ..., or takes longer than expected, with the SC, they will be able to literally capture/process ALL the well production (absent hurricanes, etc). Maybe even be able to shut it off entirely with little risk of the casing blowing out (again due to the extra weight on the well casing, etc.). Certainly should be able to shut it down to a relative trickle.

As the video said, 4-7 days to completion. If I were a betting fella, I'd bet on 2 or 3 days. Great PR for BP to get done early, not so hot if they take 7 with oil coming out unabated/unrecovered all that time (estimated as high as 60,000 bpd right now).

(Note the above is offered not as knowlegeable but what an interested outsider has gleaned from some very expert posters. Its accuracy - or not - is a relection on how well they have communicated to a dummy.)

I know by now anything that gets done out there is supposed to have some evil intent, according to the news media. But honestly, if you think about it, the fine for putting oil in the water is $1000 a barrel, or $4000 a barrel. The sale price is at best $75 a barrel. So you do the math, which would you rather do, collect it and give it away (which is what they're doing anyway), or let it spill, spend money tossing Corexit at it, clean it off the beach, pay to have the birds cleaned up, and pay the fine on top? I think the conclusion is BP does have a very keen interest in making sure the oil doesn't get spilled, and selling the oil is just a distraction. I bet they'll give it to you for free if you say you'll donate your profits to a wildlife fund.

The people who should be questioning what BP has done, and is doing seem to off in some other universe. Our Government and all the people it employs don't seem to even be capable of asking questions.

That pipe flange has been there from day one, and they could have cut the pipe off of it, and bolted a new riser on to it with in days after the accident.

They took weeks to get around to cutting off the damaged riser, and then instead of unbolting the flange, and bolting on a new riser they played around with the cap. They had a riser down there from the time they stuck that pipe in the end of the old riser. The problem with hydrates they had was because sea water was sucked in and mixed with the oil and gas. By directly bolting a new riser to that flange all the oil and gas would have been forced to the surface,and the oil dumped in tankers and barges and the gas burnt off.

Everything they have done to date was like kindergarten kids were running the show.

As mentioned above they are bolting on a ram stack, and if they were truely worried that the casing or cement job was bad, why would they take the time or go to the expense to install this if they were truely scared to use it.

They could have contained this well practically from the start if they wanted to.

The balony that they had to fabricate new tools is a joke, because those robots have been bolting and unbolting flanges to install and move all the pipes that bring in the oil and gas from all the other wells out there.

They are proving that they can buffalo the people and the Government, because they fall for what ever they say with little questions.

If they had bolted a new riser on near the start of all this they could have saved all that oil, and it would not be there in the gulf to cause the catastrophy that it has, and BP would not be billions of dollars libal for all the damages and losses. They are not oilfield genius's but common fools, and nobody can seem to admit it.

Wow, who ever would have thought, a couple of hundred words from one armchair, could solve all the issues ?!. ROFL.

It also overlooks a basic fundamental, that a flow you cannot control, is a dangerous flow.

Meanwhile back here on this planet, the calls on the steps are made by the National Incident Commander, not BP.

I agree, and even though I am an armchair analyst it seems they are dealing with a lot of unknown issues that we have nothing really comparible to. I would also think it's an engineering "nightmare" to come up with resolutions to try and solve the various issues with this well from unknown flow, unsure of the casing stability etc., course I am no expert so feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

On another topic, I was happy to see the birds diving in the waters today for fish and the rays jumping along with the dolphins playing out in the Gulf.

I think they have been very careful to say BP is in charge.

I think they have been very careful to say BP is in charge.

Just the opposite, actually. I get the daily emails from the spill response team summarizing the day's developments, and whenever one of the items reports on something BP is doing, it's always preceded by a phrase such as, "At the direction of the federal government..."

Now, there is one step missing from your idea. Other issues as well but I will stick to just this one for now. How do you propose to connect a new riser without the oil and gas blasting up it and blowing up the rig installing it, you know, just like happened to Deep Water Horizon?


Please feel free to correct. I felt very apprehensive about trying to put on an oil hat but I thought the best test of my knowledge was to jump in the water. I hope I don't drown...

Um, missed?

Sorry, about that. I thought your comment was tied to a comment I made earlier and sent reply to you by mistake.

I think you make a good point, but I think you misapply it.

What we have learned is that given the will and the dedication of resources, a lot can be done in a short amount of time to address a failed BOP leaking oil deep underwater.

Imagine what they could have done if they started in 1980, after Ixtoc, instead of on or about 4/25, 2010.

Why didn''t they? Watch this moive for the answer:


(Thanks whoever posted it again!)

The oil industry has been very successful in maintaining a loose regulatory environment as it relates to deepwater drilling at least. It has self-regulated. I imagine the other producers are mighty pissed that BP had to go and destroy that.

But to get back to your post, what they have accomplished 5000' below the water is remarkable. If you don't see that, you just don't understand.

I agree that BP maybe could have cut weeks off full containment with better planning/delivery of processing capability, and money may have played a role there. I have not seen the facts to prove that, but it would not surprise me. I also agree that BP has probably made decisions where it was forced to choose between it's self interest and the public interest, and chose its self interest, both on the clean-up and in things like avoiding calculation of flow, and then not having the capacity ready to deal with it as a result.

Otherwise, your post is generally way off mark.

Barny, I agree with most of what you say, but I have to leave a little room for doubt about their ability to bolt on a new riser on day one. At that time, they were very worried about a much larger flow if they removed the crimp in the pipe. Here is what I would like to have seen them doing on day one.

sketch of sleeve for emergency connection of underwater riser pipes

They could have used something like this to attach a full-size riser instead of that silly little "riser insertion tool". The attachment point could be *after* the crimp in the old riser, so as to avoid any disturbance of the existing pressures.

This may not be the right forum for an engineering discussion. There have been a lot of good ideas put forward in these comments, but then they get buried in a flood of unrelated discussion. If anyone would like to contribute ideas, diagrams, and technical information relating to blowout prevention or response, I'm starting a discussion group at http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout. You are welcome to join. Maybe we can hash out ideas there, and summarize here, if we think a wider audience might be interested.

HO: will there be a class on coal mining tomorrow?

Coming in late, but saw this on the last open thread and FINALLY something I am qualified to comment on:

fdoleza on July 11, 2010 - 11:43am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top 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.

Since I have a son in Iraq and live at ground zero I tend to agree. Granted this is a clusterf_ck of ecological and enviromental proportions it's enough to make you pull your hair out........until I realize I wake up every morning praying to God I don't get that phone call or that visit from the Army chaplain telling me I have one less child than when I went to bed. I worry so much for the ppl who have lost their income and only way to provide for their family due to this mess, but having lost a grandchild at 11 weeks last yr who died in front of me in my daughter's arms, and whose ashes are in the GOM I can tell you tangible assets, and boats, cars, fancy houses and $$ mean absolutely NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. I'd give up every asset I had today to have my Grandson back for one more day. I have been to that point before where due to a divorce/custody battle I DID lose everything, and moved here penniless, but I did the right thing and in the end it worked out for me. So, unfortunately I am qualified to respond to a post finally and I appreciate that everything needs to be put in perspective even though at the moment that is really hard to do. I know many others have been in similar circumstances and when we reflect back we can see "it can be worse" and shit happens .....he's right, if the shuttle had waited for a warmer day the O-rings wouldn't have been an issue, if the doors were stronger or security had been better 9-11 "might " have never happened. If they boy last night hadn't gotten drunk and jumped off the pier, his mother wouldn't have to bury him and of the family of the 2yr old child (reported incorrectly as the 4yr old victim) had not let her in the water on a double red flag day she would still be watching cartoons on tv.

Sorry for the long post, but sometimes I just need to put things in words after reading and that post made me remember there are many things worse and this hopefully will be a hard lesson to not become complacent and let greed rule decisions and maybe many yrs from now we can save a few lives from the lessons learned.

Mummsie: Geez! I know what you mean. Was burned in a propane fire in '80. August. 73%, 53% 3rd degree. Worse than some not nearly as bad as others. Went back to work in May '81. When I think of the terror my parents went thru, it makes me shudder. I lost my first born girl in that thing. Your whole life can change in the blink of an eye. My thoughts and prayers are with ya. Hang in there, you will be ok. Ok?

Thanks GW~I am as content as I could be becuase I learned a hard lesson, but very valuable - like you say in the blink of an eye, and it tends to put a little clarity on other issues no matter how devastating they are. You were fortunate to even be able to go back to work after a burn like that, and no doubt your parents were scared as he77, and as you pointed out about your own little girl, when a parent can't take away their child's pain/fears or loses a child/grandchild it is the deepest cut into your soul that never heals, we just learn to deal and move on and hopefully learn something that might help someone else or even save their life.......

I am very ok and I appreciate your sympathy and concern (although I don't want anyone to think that's whay I posted it, I posted it to make a point) I know he's in a better place and if I can handle that, well I think I can pretty much handle anything <3

Thanks again

Yes. Appreciate the point. Just thought of offering some succor and balm to the wound is all.

You have no idea how much that "balm" means to me.....and obviously you know too how grateful those who have experienced those "things" needed to hear it. It touched me deeply and I am very thankful you repsonded:)

From a fellow veteran, nothing is more important than those that give all for the cause. I cannot even hold a candle at those guy and gals memorial. As a veteran however, I would jump at the chance. You never really know how much you love your country until someone tries to kill you because of it. It is the same in life about most things. Rejoice in the heavens, for a warrior enters your gates. Army Strong. I was,'Be all you can be', but I am old.

And I want to thank you for your service also TFHG!

I used to work with a guy that was fond of saying of many problems: "In a hundred years, none of this will matter." It was meant to reflect "Don't sweat the petty stuff." Over the years, I morphed this after many of my life lessons into "If my grandchildren aren't going to read about it in their history books, it's probably not that important."

This one was definitely important.

I am deeply touched by the losses.

I like that saying Ohm_Boy and may steal it for myself! Don't sweat the small stuff was one of my favorite books and also part of my eulogy as most never get it.


My appologies for having stepped on you thread. Delay between writing and sending.

Pls don't apologize as I am WAY off topic BH!

QUOTE fdoleza on July 11, 2010 - 11:43am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top 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...QUOTE

Only about 10% to 50% of you can spot the tragic misconception in this post.
Probably only closer to 10%.

Not sure what the tragic misconception you refer to is, WT. I'll bite.
*I do not believe it is easy to quantify suffering. I think that is a misconception.
*I imagine fodeleza was not serious with regard to forseeing the weak links with regard to airliner hijacking and shuttle boosters.
*His writing style loses me, but I don't consider that tragic.
*He draws attention to the coverage our famous "wars," which is strikingly similar to George Orwell's Three Minutes Hate programs in the novel '1984.' Tragic, yes; but no misconception.
Awaiting shoe.

I wouldn't wish being burned on my WORST enemy! That's all I can speak to. I dont even know Tony H.

Would that be the part where the (insert code word for Jews), Rothschilds, NWO, TLC, Hollow Earth people, Bilderbergs and/or Saudis/Bush/Cheney did it, or is there some entity I've missed?

[edit] Forgot to include Hollow Earth people.

Crab people, how could you forget the crab people. Don't you watch Southpark ;)

I consider South Park to be a little better than Fox News and CNN but still not good enough to rely on as a source.

It could have been squids from Georgia.

"While I'm at it, we are providing the energy means whereby we can reproduce like gerbils and destroy the planet, that's true."

It's a small thing but you cannot destroy the planet. It's a planet; a lump of radioactive molten rock with a thin crust spinning around a very average star. The planet does not care what you or anyone else does, it will keep orbiting and spinning for the next 5 billion years and then be consumed by the sun as it expands into a red giant. Then it will be reduced to it's component atoms and redistributed around the universe in the ultimate recycling activity.


Duh, he meant the ability of the planet to support abundant LIFE. And you knew that.

Nice to see somebody has such a long term view. I'm more worried about the planet we leave behind for the next 10 generations or so. And nothing we do will work very well if population keeps increasing. The old Bible saying about going out to reproduce doesn't have much validity, we ALREADY went and reproduced, and in the process we exterminated a lot of the competition.

So, I focus on the short term, and I find very little consolation when I think the sun is going to bake the Earth eventually, if we're going to end up living like in Soylent Green because we're too dumb to know when to reproduce in a more sustainable fashion. We can't be green enough the way this is going, we'll run out of oil, we'll run out of lithium, we'll run out of fresh water, we'll probably be killing each other by the millions in resource wars before 50 years if this keeps up.

So how did we get to this point of the argument? I think I said the oil spill was pretty bad, but we have to put it in context, there are plenty of bad things going on, and some of the other bad things I happen to consider a lot worse for the long term. Since this site is about energy and we're discussing the oil spill, then I'll just stop bringing up the endless wars we're fighting, or the way world population keeps growing. And this is all I have to say about that.

If you watch your pennies, you will dine with Bill Gates one day. Taking a long term view is the way to go, but action is in the now. Having a 500 year plan is meaningless if you do not know where your breakfast is coming from.

As one who lost a daugther at 21, just as she had decided what she wanted to do with her life, I can relate to what you say. There is no greater pain than to lose a child, it is not suppose to work that way.

When you speak to you son thank him for his service for me. We owe so much to the young men and women that are putting their lives on the line.

Rio~no truer words ever have been spoken, we are not supposed to outlive our children much less our granchildren. But I will say he got his genes from my side of the family, he was born 17+ weeks premature and had less than a 1% chance of survival but he was a d@mn spitfire and had he lived would one day been a helion. I learned alot watching him fight when he was the size of a bottle of aquafina, and he shocked everyone because wimpy white boys due the worst in NICU, and though if he can do it so can I! Also to see the absolute will and struggle to live not daily but hourly was frankly inspriring and I was blessed with him for 11 weeks, and for that I am deeply grateful.

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter Rio, and my heart goes out to you also so I'll share the balm GW passed on.

Next time I talk with my son I will share your thanks and your damn straight we owe so much to our servicemen and women.

And,if you please, my thanks as well?

Will do with pride, and I hope you don't mind if I shares your balm.......seems many could use it after the responses.

Thanks! And please do share. Heck fire, aren't we here to help each other out, after all.

That's how I believe and IMO how it shoulde be!!!!!

Ahhh, The Military brainwash is pretty thick on TOD.

Yep, spend those $ Trillions on more bombs, bullets and barrels of crude. Can't have decent healthcare for about 50 million of us lowly citizens, now can we?

Six more died today in the Afgan hills. Were they in the military because they needed a job? Needed healthcare? Duty, Honor, Country? Doubt it. Who is going to compensate their families? Why is an oil rig worker worth more than a marine? The rig workers families will get $millions. Why, I ask?

What you "owe" those kids in the military is to get the 1000's of bases closed. What you owe them is the truth, that they have been suckered by people who let them do their dirty work of killing and then "thank them" like they are grocery clerks. They are expendable by the criminals that run your government. And you allow it to happen.

May not be qualified to answer.

Never spent a day in the military.

Dad was 20yrs in US Army, brother was Marine.

A lot of folks are in the US Military because this republic is worth fighting for.


My Marine son, who is quite bright, never understood what the hell we were doing there.

Could you explain why this fighting is saving this republic?

Clear and present danger would be a start.

The desire of people to serve their country out of a sense of duty cannot be tarnished by the incompetence of civilian commanders, nor can the honor they bestow upon themselves and upon us. But i agree, there is nothing more tragic than sending someone else's kids off to die in a war that was at best optional, and more likely very ill advised (reckless seems to fit).

Well, I don't think we got 1000's of military bases. I'm more of a Ron Paul supporter, so closing bases overseas is fine with me. But let's not get over the top, we do need some sort of military to keep the country safe.

And we do need to spend money getting oil out of the ground. For now it's the only thing available. And I know you don't really have much to offer as an alternative, given the tone you put on.

And no we don't have to spill it this way. As I said before, we didn't have to have 911 either, and it happened. This is a terrible thing, I'm spending way too much time staring at the ROVs and wondering what's going to happen to all the people I know who make a living in this industry, and I do thinnk it's a terrible thing those birds are covered with oil, and I hate the idea that even a damn shark may be drowning because its gills are covered with oil. I don't really too much about the marsh, because I got enough of an eyeball to notice the oil doesn't go in too far, but what's happening offshore is indeed pretty gross.

Tell you what, if you come here and propose in a rational tone that we should pay a tax on fuel at the pump, to subsidize a national energy industry, I would be willing to discuss the details with you. But what is this national energy going to do? Don't tell me you want to use ethanol, that's not even viable, all it does is use food to make fuel, and it hurts the poor starving masses overseas we sell that food to, because they're too incompetent to grow it themselves.

So what do we have left? You want electric cars? Generate the electricity with nuclear power? Or do you want to burn coal? Why don't you give us some ideas? I don't have a problem making a living doing something else, if it makes money.

"Well, I don't think we got 1000's of military bases."

No, not thousands. I think the 2005 official worldwide count was about 725. With around 2.5 million total personnel.

List on Wikipedia:


it hurts the poor starving masses overseas we sell that food to, because they're too incompetent to grow it themselves.

That we'd consider converting food to fuel is a measure of our own incompetence. US agribusiness doesn't know how to do this without treating topsoil as an expendable resource.

The military members I work with every day are volunteers. They are young enough (or I am old enough) to be my kid and they chose (as adults) to enlist after the Iraq and Afganistan campaigns began. Some have volunteered for second and third tours. They are intelligent, well trained people. Education is valued by the modern military. A surprising number have college degrees (from good universities) and others are earning theirs while on duty. The mid-grade officers often have Masters and I have met a few PhDs. I find military members to be well informed of political issues and in no way "suckered".

There are not "1000's" of military bases (at least not under the US DoD).

Cost is somewhat less than $1T

With enactment of the FY2009 Supplemental (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32) on June 24, 2009,
Congress has approved a total of about $944 billion for military operations, base security,
reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).


If you really want to know about USA military bases in foreign countries, suggestion;
Read Chalmers Johnson:
According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. We deploy over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. In just one such country, Japan, at the end of March 2008, we still had 99,295 people connected to U.S. military forces living and working there -- 49,364 members of our armed services, 45,753 dependent family members, and 4,178 civilian employees. Some 13,975 of these were crowded into the small island of Okinawa, the largest concentration of foreign troops anywhere in Japan.
check wikipedia for a list on online free publications
He has written numerous books including, most recently, three examinations of the consequences of American Empire: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.
Remember the first GOP presidential debate, when Ron Paul talked about "Blowback"? Remember how the GOP disallowed Ron Paul from participation in any further presidential debates after he mentioned "Blowback"? Remember the looks on the faces of all the other GOP candidates when Ron Paul mentioned "Blowback"?

If you really want to know the cost of USA military, and the costs of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, read Stiglitz (Nobel laureate economist):

The three trillion dollar war
The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that's $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.

btw, more recently, these estimates have been increased

"...the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop."

Didn't some famous dude once warn everyone to, "Watch out for the military industrial complex."

He must have been one of those communist hippie types.

Another excellent source on USA costs of war is Andrew Bacevich:

The longer the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged, the more costly they became. By 2007, to sustain its operations the U.S. command in Baghdad was burning through $3 billion per week. That same year, the overall costs of the Iraq War topped the $500 billion mark, with some estimates suggesting that the final bill could reach $2 trillion.

Although these figures were widely reported, they had almost no political impact in Washington, indicating the extent to which habits of profligacy had become entrenched. Congress responded to budget imbalances not by trimming spending or increasing revenues but by raising the debt ceiling by $3.015 trillion between 2002 and 2006. Future generations could figure out how to pay the bills.

All this red ink finally began to generate nervous speculation about a coming economic collapse comparable in magnitude to the Great Depression. Americans continued to insist, however, that the remedy to the nation’s problems lay in the Persian Gulf rather than at home. The slightest suggestion that the United States ought to worry less about matters abroad and more about setting its own house in order elicited from the political elite shrieks of “isolationism,” the great imaginary sin to which Americans are allegedly prone. Yet beginning to put our house in order would be to open up a whole new array of options, once again permitting the United States to “choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.”

Long accustomed to thinking of the U.S. as a superpower, Americans have yet to realize that they have forfeited command of their own destiny. The reciprocal relationship between expansionism, abundance, and freedom—each reinforcing the other—no longer exists. If anything, the reverse is true: expansionism squanders American wealth and power, while putting freedom at risk. As a consequence, the strategic tradition to which Jefferson and Polk, Lincoln and McKinley, TR and FDR all subscribed has been rendered not only obsolete but pernicious.

Rather than confronting this reality, American grand strategy since the era of Reagan, and especially throughout the era of George W. Bush, has been characterized by attempts to wish reality away. Policy-makers have been engaged in a de facto Ponzi scheme intended to extend indefinitely the American line of credit. The fiasco of the Iraq War and the quasi- permanent U.S. occupation of Afghanistan illustrate the results and prefigure what is yet to come if the crisis of American profligacy continues unabated.

read the whole article here, rather prophetic, written before the Great Recession


Just one more by Bacevitch:

As if responding to some cosmic imperative, the best minds in Washington proceeded to devise policies incorporating all the worst features of the Soviet policies that had hurtled the Soviet Union toward self-destruction. The Bush administration committed U.S. troops to what quickly became a costly, open-ended war, beginning in Afghanistan, then shifting to Iraq, then reverting in the Obama era back to Afghanistan. Like the Politburo of olden days, our political elites remain oblivious to the possibility that the real threats to the American empire might be internal: an economy in shambles and basic institutions wallowing in dysfunction. The conviction that “victory” in Afghanistan will make things right grips Washington with the same intensity that once gripped Moscow—and with as little justification.

These Colors Run Red

The U.S. follows the Soviet Union into Afghanistan.

By Andrew J. Bacevich


I carried a rifle and stood a post so you could write a post. I would have it no other way. I think you are dead wrong and I invite you to my site http://gcn01.com . I would return to that post so you can continue. God bless you. Maybe you will 'get it' one day but it does not matter as long as some do. There, I wrote a self-explanatory sentence.

Well dude, all I can say is good luck and hope your son makes it back in one piece. I was plenty crazy when I was 19, tried to sign up to go to Viet nam, and lucky for me they rejected me. So I understand very well why sometimes one just wants to sign up.

I'll tell you what, all of us just need to make sure we take care of two very important things: 1) don't forget those guys are out there, and it doesn't really matter if the government screwed up, they're still out there, and 2) all of us need to make sure we are committed to making sure we don't get people killed or hurt doing whatever it is we do. Some of us do stuff that's a lot more dangerous, and can hurt a lot more, but if you happen to fix elevators, or are a surgeon, please don't slip up either.

It is probably late in game to ask about this, but why didn't the giant shears didn't simply pinch the casing pipe shut? I can understand why pressure on the well side might have kept that part open, but why was the top part, often referred to as the "figure-8" cut partially open? Is the pipe metal especially brittle or springy? Thought of this in the context of the mysterious second drill pipe and questions about what might be dropping to the sea floor.

you'll note the upper portion of the riser pipe, with no flange near it, was crimped down pretty good.

The lower portion was real close to a heavy flange, which provided resistance to distortion of the circular pipe shape.

The shears have sharp opposing surfaces, so something caught between them will tend to shear.


You too can rent a set

What's your view on some of the things I've read about BP derivatives being similar to Lehman Brothers derivatives? The articles feel BP's portfolio of derivatives could impact many other companies. I have a tough time accepting the comparison because I thought Lehman had Fixed Income derivatives that were nose-diving due to mark-to-market accounting rules and a bankruptcy would further erode these assets. I'd guess the purpose of BP derivatives is to protect against price fluctuations in oil or international currency.

Here's one of the articles:

brit~I'll be back in the office tomorrow and see what I can scrape together, but to be honset derivatives are so far over my head I refuse to sell them, I figure if I can't explain it to a 10 yr old I shouldn't sell it. I amd a bond salesman/trader to instituions, just ARMS & MBS ( securities traded on a pool of mortgages for those who don't know) and Agencies (Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's along with a few others )mainly because they are simple and most of my redneck (and I mean that in a good way becuase I am to a degree) accounts understand them.

There are so many problems with mark to market that it is disastrous IMO, but I won't go there tonight. But I will check out the link you provided and gather more info at the office because God help us if they are similar to the Lehman fiasco.

Here is a decent article on derivatives and their purpose:


Hope this helps!

Yes, there are certainly scary aspects to derivatives. I've read the books House of Cards and Too Big to Fail and they went into quite a bit of detail about what happened. And these derivatives were used to package Fixed Income assets that made many people very wealthy before the floor fell in.

I haven't read any books about packaging commodities into derivatives and I'm guessing BP would be using this different class of asset that may have different affects.

I also assume there must be a positive side to derivatives due to the huge amount in use. But we all know what assume can get us...

The too big to fail "line" always worries me.....

Here is the simplest explanation I could find that wasn't almost exclusively a Fixed Income class of derivative:

What Does Derivative Mean?
A security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes. Most derivatives are characterized by high leverage.

Futures contracts, forward contracts, options and swaps are the most common types of derivatives. Derivatives are contracts and can be used as an underlying asset. There are even derivatives based on weather data, such as the amount of rain or the number of sunny days in a particular region.

Derivatives are generally used as an instrument to hedge risk, but can also be used for speculative purposes. For example, a European investor purchasing shares of an American company off of an American exchange (using U.S. dollars to do so) would be exposed to exchange-rate risk while holding that stock. To hedge this risk, the investor could purchase currency futures to lock in a specified exchange rate for the future stock sale and currency conversion back into Euros.

Perhaps Gail could organize a Presentation on Commodities and Options, why these might be good (for Oil), and how these evolved into CMO's and other Derivatives and how the latter became bad.

Yes, I agree.
Derivatives were used for many years in commodity markets before the fixed income departments of Wall Street firms used them for real estate. The simplest non-derivative trades involved only the commodity such as corn, soy, oil or whatever. Investors wanted to speculate on the price of the commodity rather than purchase or sell a commodity so that demand created the derivative. A buyer of a commodity would want protection from a price drop because of the signed contract to pay an agreed amount before delivery. The demand for this protection created the credit default swap.

I was curious if people are taking advantage of the recent negative news for the word "derivative" to scare people into thinking all uses of derivatives are bad. I don't know the details of how BP is using derivatives and that is why I ask the question.

Checkout the Khan Academy with lots of cool videos on science and math, but also very good videos on the markets, economics etc. My head was imploding trying to understand CDO's, CDS's etc, but after watching the credit crisis section it made sense to me.

I don't think I was very clear in my question. I wasn't looking for explanation of the term "derivative". I was looking for explanation of the use of derivative for a commodity such as corn, soy, or oil. This may be different from its use with a fixed income entity such as real estate. The whatever of mass destruction article focused on real estate based derivatives. And the recent financial turmoil did not affect commodity based derivatives IMHO. I have another comment further down that gives more explanation.

And thanks for the comments.

Now you are scaring me.


Not meaning to NAOM~just pointing out how extemely complex derivates are........and I have been in the buisness for 20+ yrs, I gave up trying to figure them out long ago when the person teaching courses on them talked so over my head it was like Latin, so I won't sell anything I can't explain or undrstand to a point that I feel they are safe.

Looking at the example of Goldman Sachs, I'd say that if you can't understand it, someone is probably using it to try and take advantage of you. Derivatives started as a scheme for taking risky investmentments off of balance sheets and this should already be a warning.

Just watched the 2nd generation torquing tool in operation - very simple, elegant device. Small, efficient, high pressure.

One may question why this approach has not been used upfront and why months have been essentially wasted with multiple jurry-rigged contraptions.

The current approach leverages the deep water drilling technology in current use, instead of "inventing" new ways to inefficiently siphon oil with half-baked devices.

I am sure there are rational explanations why this is the LAST thing BP did, though it was obvious to even non-industry people that this is the FIRST thing they should have done, after failure of "top kill". One can even surmise that the dangers of "top kill" would also have been easy to foresee, allowing to skip that risky step altogether.

I was so certain this this was the right approach prior to relief wells coming in that I even wrote BP/EPA/CG/DE with a detailed argument why they should bolt on a new flange with a production line and increase topside production capacity to accept the higher levels of flow. I am sure they received other letters with the same message.

I look forward to this episode finally coming to an end as the endless flow of oil into the gulf STOPS.

I am sure there are rational explanations why this is the LAST thing BP did, though it was obvious to even non-industry people that this is the FIRST thing they should have done

If you watch Kent Well's presentation, this is the first idea they have after the blow out.. But all the design, fabrication, testing (yes, testing.. they need to try out everything first before putting this thing under the sea), and practice installation take time.. and here we are about 2+ months before it is ready.. Just think about how massive the stack is (15000lb??) and what kind of equipment go into the stack for all these weight...

For what they have built I would say they have done a damn good job of getting it done in the time they have. That could not have been easy to get from idea to sea floor, via drawing board, in that time.


That's a big massive structure. But, I'd like to hear comments from those familiar with availability of Cameron and other large industry components in that assembly. Most of what we see may be a bolted assembly of relatively standard components with some not-too-complex custom fabricated items.

I realize there can be long lead times when ordering a new, custom spec'd item like a BOP valve. But how quickly could you get your hands on three that were close enough in an emergency?

A qualified maybe...

It is clear that they did not test most of the things they tried before the current effort. I have done lots of engineering and qual tests on plenty of new systems and the engineering tests on all the previous attempts were what we saw on the ROV feed.

If they had a "main" design plan and it required this time to implement properly, while ANOTHER design team fooled around with siphons and leaky caps, they should get a qualified pass.

If, however, they had a sequential process that meandered from failure to partial failire for three months, finally culminating in a real solution, they should not get a pass.

I am not impressed with professional jargon and appeals to complexity and difficulty of environment - I get enough of it in my own field and don't care for it there, either. At the end of the day, they either stop the flow into the Gulf or they don't. All of their previous attempts have failed, hopefully this one succeeds.

By what date should they have been at this point?

Why did they take as much time as they did to design and build the complete overshot assembly they have now? Do you even understand what all it does and why? It does not appear that you do.

Well, I'm no Oilman, or Geologist, or PetroChem Engineer, or... OK - I am an idiot, but it seems to me that the relief well is still the best bet.

The new riser cap may not stop it. It may help contain it, now that they have constructed that monster octopus-cap-thingama-catcher. But there is still a significant unknown regarding the integrity of the casing/cement in the hole, and they may not actually be able to fully close the new BOP they are looking to install. I'm pretty hopeful that there are Engineers with the pressure data from the top-kill attempt(s) who have a better feel for the pressure attained vs the results they saw, but for me, if the corporate communications guys actually say that [from memory] "there was concern about the integrity of the well based upon the topkill results", it makes me think that there may be some integrity concern with the well at pressure. Call it a hunch.

As for just bolting on any old 22 inch gate valve, I seem to recall reading somewhere that oilwell flow at these pressures and velocity will pretty quickly erode most ordinary fixtures.

Like I said before, I _AM_ an idiot, but didn't I hear these things right?

Hey! I'm an idiot too! I think I read that somewhere as well.... hell.... what you said.

Well, save room for me on the idiot train as that is exactly what I thought too.......guess that's what I get for thinking!

Don't worry about it, I've been in this industry for 35 years, and I feel like an idiot most of the time. Heck, I'm a real idiot. If you think there's something you dont understand, somebody will try to explain it. All you need is to understand what 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi) does to a piece of steel, and remember it's incredibly hard to fart at 5000 feet.

Just bringing this from Isaacnd200 up from the prev. thread, because it happened to coincide with something else I was reading up on about Non-Newtonian flow, (dilatant, work thickening, viscoelastic, etc),


search this for 'Reynold' to get an idea how it applies in drilling world. (also a good glossary of terms for drilling industry, in general.)

I don't think it has much to do with the subject at hand, but I'm sure there's folks well versed in the intricacies of fluid dynamics here, and like I said, I was reading about it in a completely unrelated subject, when I saw Isaac mention it.

for a little added context, I was studying thixotropic clays in college, and talkin' with a late friend, who perked up when I mentioned them. He had designed the epoxy that held the space shuttle's heat shields on based on a similar material property. Random, and off-topic, I know...

Awesome , I went to the Randolph Macon Military Academy in Front Royal VA, right behind the Avtex factory where they made the tiles for the shuttle.....22 years ago, and I can still smell it.

After a little hugfest for lawyers in the previous thread, the subject changed and Rockman wrote:

“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.”

I think the best way to start removing the rot that is overtaking us, if that is still possible, is to apply Rockman’s principle to the lawyers:

“Study after study has shown that the current rules for professional conduct are not enforced. Misconduct is rarely perceived. If perceived, it is not reported. If reported, it is not investigated. If investigated, violations are not found. If found, they are excused. If they are not excused, penalties are light. And if significant penalties are imposed, the lawyer soon returns to practice, in that state or another. Lawyers constantly condemn the failure of the criminal justice system to deter crime for precisely these reasons – because of its alleged indifference, procedural niceties, or excessive lenience. Indeed, we know that the efficacy of social control varies even more strongly with the likelihood of punishment than it does with the severity of the sanction. Yet on both counts, especially the former, the professional disciplinary system falls far below the wholly inadequate standards of the criminal law. Lawyers can hardly present their travesty of a penal system as an effective deterrent.” (“Why Does the ABA Promulgate Ethical Rules?” by Richard L. Abel, Connell Professor of Law, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, from 59 Texas Law Review 639, 1981)

In 1804, William Duane of Philadelphia wrote:

“A privileged order or class, to whom the administration of justice is given as a support, first employ their art and influence to gain legislation; they then so manage legislation as never to injure themselves; and they so manage justice as to engross the general property to themselves through the medium of litigation; and the misfortune is, that to be able to effect this point, it is attended by loss of time, by delay, expense, ill blood, bad habits, lessons of fraud and temptation to villainy, crimes, punishments, loss of estate, character and soul, public burden, and even loss of national character.”

i'll nibble at your biat, windward, but i won't bite. I think everyone has heard enough lawyer stuff already.

Yes, there is a code of professional conduct and a very active system for prosecuting attorneys who violate their professional duties to the public. I read the cases every month when the bar magizine comes out. And we are required to have continuing education every year, including in ethics. Or you lose your license. Do you have that in your profession?

As for the description of lawyers you posted, that was written by DougR's great-great-great gandaddy.

I rest my case.

Not that I do anything but skim most posts - but there seems to be an awful lot of offtopicness in the last few weeks of threads (ie the time I've been reading).

My bad~the O/T on this thread was due to a response from the last. I apologize, but thought it needed to be said.

Anyone have an update on the Helix producer?

Kent Wells, this afternoon's briefing. (He's doing two a day while the cap replacement process is underway.)

In terms of the helix producer they've gone through all of their start up procedures. We have a number of shut down valves and one of them we need to make some adjustments to that. So they'll be doing that and we anticipate bringing the helix producer on sometime this evening.

He has said elsewhere that it will take around three days to get it operating at full capacity.

Thanks. I had read that but was wondering if anyone had any updated information to confirm.

Watching the live ROV streams, it strikes me as really retro and kind of steam-punk to send ROVs a mile underwater to video analog gauges. Don't they have digital gauges that can transmit their readings without the use of an ROV and video and all that?

Are there technical limitations to using transducers and having live telemetry from digital sensors?

How does digital communication happen underwater anyway. Presumably there's no "umbilical" running down a drill-pipe to send commands to the drill bit positioner? Is wireless digital communication used at all in DW?

Well, hate to say it, but they use a trained mouse inside a small capsule, it reads a tiny pressure gauge, and azimuth and inclination, and it taps code by hitting the pipe, or by sticking its little paw in the mud stream, to make it pulse. At least that's what they told me when I asked. And because I was wearing an orange helmet, I decided to just leave it at that.

Sometimes they use a gyro and it sends the signal by pulsing the mud, but the mouse is a lot cheaper.

Too funny.
BP should have blamed the WW on a mouse gone rogue.

Analog gauges are a LOT cheaper than outfitting all those systems with telemetry and digital transducers. Less umbilical cables too. Analog usually requires less calibration over time and never needs new batteries.

Oh, and the analog gauges just sit there when not being actively used. Digital stuff would still require wires and transmitter bandwidth. And there is a LOT of equipment down there, with lots of places to want a gauge.

This does bring up a question though - how are those gauges compensated for underwater ambient pressure? All of my dinky little dials are open to atmosphere. They'd want to read backwards in a mile of surf.

They are probably a sealed case oil/glycerin filled gauge. With a diaphragm type back, it auto compensates for the local atmospheric pressure, even when it is 2500psi.

...With a diaphragm type back, it auto compensates for the local atmospheric pressure...

So, while OI-3 ROV1 is torquing the bolts, and the gauge is bumping up to 6500-7000 PSI, that's on top of whatever the head pressure for a mile of seawater adds to it, right?

The fun one to watch is the Maxx30948 using an ordinary combination wrench to try to tighten a tubing fitting. It's pretty simple for us with a wrist and an elbow (and shoulder and waist and legs and 3-D perception) to do this with our Craftsman wrench, but it puts a new spin on the process seeing it tried by remote like that. It's the sort of thing that would be fun to do at a convention booth, but I wouldn't want to have the fate of the GOM riding on how well I could swing that wrench robotically.

Analog gauges are very reliable and robust. It is a royal pain rigging any electronics for full ocean depth, even stuff right off the shelf (I build oceanographic instruments). There are off-the-shelf fiber and electrical connectors but they have to be carefully mated and potted to the cable. Any pressure vessels have to be tested to depth because all it takes is single drop of salt water to ruin electrical components. It takes time (and hideous expense). They probably have transducers rigged that will come on line when the risers to the surface are connected.

An added benefit of analog over digital: With digital, any error is a problem with linearity and calibration, load matching, compensation circuits, clock count rate errors, and there will have to be a metrology chain of calibration without which someone can be liable. With analog, the gauge is labeled as an indicator only, and any error is just parallax and sea blur - you know, unforseeable.

They already have the super duper remote control/video system, so why not use it to relay the output from the analog sensors and have it do the AtoDtoA conversion and display for you. :)

Stupid answer, but it is a different wire. They can't really patch into the ROV umbilical easily, probably was't designed for extra channels (though it probably will be from now on).

Voiced this gripe before, but with all that money, should the oil industry have a remote sensor suite relay capability available NOW? I am sure the technology is available - they just didn't adapt to to underwater and qualed it for future use.

Not sure you understood what I meant, you don't have to patch into any wire when you aim the camera at the analog sensor's mechanical/optical display. :)

Previous posts discussed digital transmissions for relief well. These talk about mud pulse telemetry, EM telemetry and wired pipe.

Yes,that's what I was told. I think the mouse in the capsule story is bs. but the rest of it is true. They get something to tap the mud and they read the signal at the top.

You know, I worked on a project many years ago, to use pressure transducers to listen to a well, and figure out how much it was making just from the noise it made. It really worked. But then I got transferred overseas, and I didn't get to see the final trial results. And then I moved on to other things, but when I ask about it in recent years, people stare at me as if I am crazy. Did we ever get those sound sensors calibrated to use in wells offshore, so we don't have to run regular well tests?

I've had many questions concerning use of digital controls in oil exploration. I haven't found many comments on this important subject.

I worked with pressure transducers in air conditioning 15+ years ago. High-rise buildings often use pressure rather than temperature to control air conditioning. Designing the transducer was a bear and took many months. But that was a long time ago and I'd hope these sensors are more advanced nowadays.

Wireless won't work too far underwater (at any reasonable frequency), because sea-water is fairly conductive.
To signal nuclear submarines to rise up and listen for a message,
one uses very low frequency "radio waves"

But it is hugely inefficient and very very slow.

So one can use sonar, but there are bandwidth limitations on that too.
Since the ROVs have power/control umbilicals, might as well use them.

As far as drilling, the control systems in current use rely on mud pulses to send commands to the Measurement While Drilling/Logging While Drilling equipment.
Schematic of a system:
Data transmission methods:

Some use a low frequency electromagnetic system.
Work is being done on wired pipe, but that's still in development.

And don't believe the trained mouse story - many wells are hotter than boiling water...

There are electronic gauges that are used at such depths, like for production platforms.
But this is an emergency situation, that needs to be flexible and reliable.
The ROVs are always down there (there's the only way of doing anything at this depth),
so they're there to look at gauges, etc.

Not being critical. I really want an answer. Why does it so long to get the torque on only 6 bolts? Who would have thunk that it would take longer to put in 6 bolts than it took to the the first ones out???

Like any mechanical repair, one must take more care assembling than disassembling.
Looks like they do have some ...intricacy... involved with getting the hex socket aligned and onto the bolt heads, and they are following a torque pattern to get a good fit with no binding or warping. Sort of like torquing an engine head or intake manifold. They are going around and around, torquing incrementally more each pass. The more passes, the more time it takes.

I'm going to create a video game called "Deconstructing Macondo", where you get to take apart the riser connection flanges, put in bolts, take them out, and so on. To make it more fun, you'll be driving a remote shaking around in a stream, turbulence will move you around because there's 50,000 BOPD surging a few feet away, and the camera feed from the game will be put on the internet for several thousand people to watch. Once in a while you'll hear a booo because you can't grasp a bolt. And to make it more fun, a clock runs counting minutes and for every minute you delay you pay $10 in bonus money to the political campaign of a politician you don't like.

This bolt tightening does seem a bit weird. They had apparently tightened the bolts when i went to bed. And i dont understand whey they keep moving the tightener around for minutes at a time when it appears at first with the movement they are wirebrushing the bolt rather than attempting to get the thing on the bolt. Surely they could have had a better design after all of this time of waiting to put that thing in place?

Edit: Now i see them reaching for the 'tightener' that successfully undid the bolts when the 'wire brush' ones seem to have done nothing at all.

Doesn't seem to be much oil coming out when they did it. Perhaps the Helix is collecting almost all the flow already?

I heard Michelle is coming to the gulf today. Seems she must have whipped the well into shape they way she's whipped Barry. "Damn it Barry, Malia wants the well plugged. Get out of the way and watch a woman do it!"

Hi All,
I have been following the oil drum since inception. I have lost my original login credentials, as one does. So while I am an aerospace professional and have no experience in oil extraction technologies I would like to make a few points. AS follows -
Firstly, the only way to fix these blowouts is a bottom relief well cement job. That project was set in train by BP et al right from the beginning. It takes months to drill wells to these depths, and further weeks to steer the drill to intersect the faulty well with sufficient accuracy to inject the mud. So.. this is normal
procedure an hopefully it all works out. If it should not work out then that would be unusual but not unknown. Here we need to consider why we have only two relief wells. Some argue on this site that two is not enough.
Fair enough. We have experts posting to this site, I am not one of those.
Secondly, As much as it pains you, we have the world's best experts working this problem. These people are normal mothers and fathers with mortages and the rest of it. It is not helpful to impugne the people who are fixing this disaster. Someone of authority on this [TOD] site should make a statement on behalf of the TOD
community in gratitude for their efforts. They are people too.
Thirdly, My name is greenas and I am true to that. This GOM blowout will serve as a wakeup event to steer us to a more feasible future. cheers juan.

Sun Herald:

Since the Deepwater Horizon well exploded April 20, BP has paid fewer than half of the claims filed in six states, including Mississippi.

The oil giant had received 103,013 claims as of Saturday and had paid 48,795 of them at a cost of nearly $163 million. Mississippi residents and businesses filed 11,535 claims, and 5,088 had been paid. In this state BP has paid out nearly $16 million.

The company says its intent is to pay all legitimate claims. However, BP officials said there are delays if the company has to wait for documentation from people and businesses filing claims. Once it has the right paperwork, it takes between five and eight days to get a check. ...

Not exactly your experience, TF?

Exxon and BP silent on £100bn takeover rumours

Business Digest: Oil companies refuse to comment on reports that Obama has okayed a bid

Read more: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/65734,business,exxon-and-bp-silent-on-100b...

Sheesh - not much techie talk at TOD currently.

OK, now that the 'transition spool' is connected, where is the oil flow going?

Is is still venting to the ocean, but simply out of camera shot, higher up?

BP (BP/ LN) says collected 8224 barrels of oil in the last 24 hours at the Well Mon, 13:37 12-07-2010

BP (BP/ LN) says lowering new cap to Gulf leak, to attach to wellhead later Monday morning Mon, 13:38 12-07-2010

Fire sale...

BP Discusses Selling Assets to Apache to Pay for Spill
By Stanley Reed, Jeffrey McCracken and Katarzyna Klimasinska - Jul 12, 2010

Apache, the largest independent U.S. oil company by market value, is negotiating for assets that include a share in BP’s Alaska business, for a price of less than $12 billion, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public.

“Apache is a very smart acquirer and that’s been part of their growth over many, many years,” Philip Dodge, an analyst at Tuohy Brothers in New York, said yesterday. Apache, based in Houston, has bought BP assets before and is “a company that is very strong financially and liquid.”