BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - the 3-ram stack - and open thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6725.

After a relatively long and technically difficult process BP has managed to locate and install the three-ram Lower Stack on the flowing well in the Gulf. At the same time the viewing site has been changed, so that the feeds from all 14 ROVs can be seen together. The view from Skandi ROV2 shows the flow from the well is now issuing from the segment of drill pipe left at the top of the stack, after the installing drill pipe was disconnected.

Flow from the top of the 3-ram stack at 10:45 pm Eastern Monday – the color is due to the injection (through the white feed) of the dispersant into the flow.

Just as a reminder, this is how the assembly looks underneath this drill pipe.

The White cylinder above the yellow transition spool is designated by Cameron (who make it) as a Cameron HC 18¾-in., 10000 psi connector, with the HC designation standing for High Capacity. Inside it looks like this:

BP held a press conference on Monday in which they commented on the problems noted on Sunday with the Helix Producer feed, and that these had been fixed.

We did encounter two problems which created some delay yesterday. One was with issues on a hydraulic control line for a valve (so that it couldn’t work) and the second was a leak in the methanol system. Both of those issues have been resolved and we will be starting up the helix producer later today. It will likely take several days to ramp up to a full capacity, which is at about 25,000 barrels a day, which with the Q4000 would give us a total capacity of around 33,000 barrels a day of containment.

BP also admitted to a slight problem that delayed the installation of the 3-ram stack today, though as with the flow line problem it has also been fixed to allow the installation which was completed after the press conference.

We did have a problem with the deployment real (sic) on the Inspiration. We had a backup plan and moved to that backup plan and will be attaching the cap later this morning.

With the stack in position, the next step is to connect up the hydraulics, so that the power can be applied to the rams and that they will close the flow. This is some of what is going on with the array of other ROVs whose operations are now available for monitoring.

Prior to that I suspect that they will, Monday evening, check the flow of oil through the kill line to the Helix Producer, to ensure that it can handle the flow, and that this will occur concurrent with the flow to the Q4000. Once those numbers have been confirmed, and the flow conditions validated, the shear rams will be closed. I would suspect that this will happen first, since it will increase the pressure in the well somewhat, as the flow path out is restricted to the kill and choke circuits. Then, after checking to ensure that the well is retaining its integrity – no leaks into the surrounding rock through the casing or any other of the horrific disasters that have floated through comments over the past few weeks – the flow to the choke and kill will slowly be closed. As they are closed the pressure in the well will continue to be monitored, together with the flow out of the two lines. (Having now read the full transcript I note that BP are going to do it the other way around, closing the rams last instead of first. Well I think it might be more logical to do it the other way, but they know more about the relative benefits of the choice than I).

If the pressure continues to rise (indicating no leaks) as the flow trails to zero, then the well will have been shut-in. The flow will have stopped, and a test will be run, for a planned 48 hours to ensure that all the seals are holding.

At that time I expect that the choke and kill lines may re-open, but without there being some unforeseen incident, I do not expect the rams to re-open. Once the well stops pumping out oil into the Gulf, the political difficulties in restarting that flow un-necessarily are considerable. And if there is a problem then in addition to the choke and kill lines the riser to the Enterprise can be re-connected, and take 15,000 bd up the pipe, for a total system capacity of around 50,000 bd without letting any more oil out into the water.

If the current tests are successful, then the risks of additional leakage into the Gulf during a Hurricane are also going to be greatly reduced, and the pressure on the relief well becomes a little less.

We’re now at 17,840 feet. We’ve completed our eleventh ranging run to locate the original well bore, we’re approximately five feet away from that well and we’re about 30 feet vertically from the point at which we’ll set casing. We expect the casing operation to begin this coming weekend.

Work on the second relief well has now been stopped with the current end cased and cemented, until circumstances indicate that it will be needed.

The process to cement the last casing was also reviewed

. . . we’ll get to the final casing point. Then we actually do what we call open up the hole. We just make the hole a little larger so that we can run the casing and cement it in place. After we do that we’ll run some logs, which are basically tell us about the cement bond log, tell us about making sure everything’s right. And then we’ll prepare to start to drill out and we’ll have done a BOP test before doing, so there's a fair amount of work to do before we sort of start to drill out.

And then we’ve got about another hundred feet to go, is what we’re anticipating before we intersect the Macondo well, and of course that will be plus or minus, it won't be exactly a hundred feet. But it will be in that range. But we would drill that very precisely doing a number of ranging runs. And that will all take time so that’s why you’ve heard me talk before. I anticipateus intercepting the Macondo well sometimes toward the end of July and then the kill procedure, the kill and cementing procedure, depending upon where the flow is, analysis, casing or boat, could be anywhere from a number of days to a few weeks to do that.

Incidentally in the press conference on Sunday morning Kent Wells noted that each of the bolts on the flange of the riser weighed 52 lbs.

In the afternoon briefing they also noted that there was only one piece of drill pipe found in the BOP, at the moment no-one knows what happened to the second piece of pipe.

And for those who, like me, have some difficulty working out which camera is showing what, here are some additional shots of the stack (h/t Mark Moore), from different angles, so that some of the component locations may be clearer.

And this is the main control panel, with the ability to operate the valves with the ROVs made rather evident. I suspect this picture was taken a little while ago, and the port cut for a valve with a cutting torch has been cleaned up a little since then.

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.)

1. The Oil Drum is a special place. We strive to maintain a high signal to noise ratio in our comment threads. Short, unengaging comments, or comments that are off topic, are likely to be deleted without notice. (to be clear--engaging, on point humor and levity, more than welcome.)

We are trying to perform a service to the public here to coordinate smart people who know their stuff with other people who want to learn about what's going on. Promotion of that ideal will be the criteria by which we make our decisions about what stays and what goes.

Flame wars, polemic exchanges, and other content deleterious to the community will be removed, either by an editor or by the community through its moderation process.

2. If you see a problematic comment USE THE COMMENT MODERATION SYSTEM--see the "Flag as inappropriate" and (?) beside it? Learn more there. If you see comments that are questionable after you've done that (that aren't being removed), let us know at the eds email address.

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.

A reply to Isaacnd200 from a previous thread:

The fluid dynamics of a well is interesting and perhaps before the blowout it would have been a good topic for one of Heading Outs Tech Talks on a normal Sunday. With the focus now on the relief wells perhaps I can partially answer your questions. I think your essential question is how does a "kill" work in terms of dynamics. First consider that there are manuals many hundreds of pages thick that attempt to explain this. I will try to make it as simple as I can and still be somewhat accurate. There are several kill methods but most follow these concepts.

As you noted the wellbore consists of many different size casing that gradually reduce in size and the open hole section is at the bottom. Within the casing and openhole of course is the drillpipe, bottom hole assembly including drill bit. Between the pipe and casing/ open hole is the annulus. Pumping the fluid is the mudpump normally of triplex in design that pumps fluid a known output in barrels per stroke. This output is a critical bit of informtion in the process.

The sum of all the capacity of the various casing strings and open hole is calculated. Also the capacity of the drill pipe/BHA as well as its displacement. As you add pipe into a hole full of mud, mud will be displace and flow out of the hole as you "run to bottom". At the end of the calculation you have a "model" if you will of the dynamics of the hole. With the known rate of the pumps and the capacities known, you can predict when a formation that is drilled can reasonbly expected to reach the surface. This is known as "Lag". You can also time when various "pills" or "sweeps" pumped from surface will reach the bit and then from bit to surface. By knowing the number of strokes you know not only the time but the depth that you can "spot" the pill.

In an extreme simplification the process to kill is this:

1. Pick up the drill string and make sure your pipe joint positioned properly in the preventer.

2. Open the choke to prevent shocking the shocking the system when the well is shut in.

3. Stop the mud pump.

4. Close the annular preventer

5. Slowly close the choke: Record the Shut in Drill Pipe Pressure, Record the Shut in Casing Pressure

6. Circulate out gas and oil while on choke and maintain 50 to 100 psi over the Shut In Casing Pressure until new heavier mud reaches the bit. Gas is diverted to the degasser and flare ignited.

This circulation is at a slower pump rate at least 50% of the normal circulation rate in order to reduce the “equivalent circulating density” and also to avoid shocking the system. A pump pressure/casing pressure schedule can be calculated that models the decrease in pressure over time as the well eventually goes to a static state.
For more information you can look up the following terms: “Drillers Method”, “Wait and Weight” I think that a variation of this method will be used rather than the “Bullhead” method where pump pressure forces fluids into the formation.

Two hydraulic models available are Bingham Plastic and the Power Law. The differences are greater at the lower end of the shear stress curve. For oilfield measurements this value is known as “Plastic Viscosity” and “Yield Point” of a mud. These are terms that you could use for further research.

Other comments: I believe the Faraday wave is what allows the operation of a measurement while drilling tool. Unless experimental I don’t believe that the effect has been applied to the drilling itself. When things settle down, perhaps a Tech Talk on drilling fluids, underbalanced drilling (stiff foam and parasite string air injection, hammer drilling, etc. would be in order.

The sample image that you posted the link to is not representative of the well at MC 252 although it is a good image to give an idea of what in general cuttings samples look like. More than likely the reservoir at MC 252 would have the appearance of an oil saturated beach sand under the microscope. I know that this sounds ironic but that is probably what it looks like. The shale above the sand would appear as gray ,possibly waxy and silty.

“Sulfide Stress Cracking” is a term relevant to tubular’s not the rock formation and is form of hydrogen embrittlement. Typically scavengers such as metal filings can be added where H2S is ecountered (the filing combine with the H2S and become pyrite). I don’t think scavengers are needed at MC252.

President's Commission on the Oil Spill starts at 9am lots of places to watch on line



(edit 9am central)

From previous thread

Has your ROV ever been attacked by underwater alien fire bugs such as the ones in this video?

Yeah, every time I take a tab, dude.

Seriously though, don't take drugs, they're bad for you.

rov -- Does that mean you're strictly decaf now? LOL. And also: you a righthand driver or a lefty? I've was once told by a rov pilot that they try to pair righties and lefties so you balance out and can steer straight.

As it happens, yes I am, but most pilots fly on a nicotine/caffeine combo.

I'm a righty, but I think you were being spun a yarn ;)

rov -- Someone spinning yarns...could even be me. BTW...you got any RC toys at home? Seems like most my galley chats with pilots revolved around some toys they play with when off hitch.

I used to have an RC plane, and an RC car but none right now.
Might get some more some day.

Ha! I used to have an RC plane too,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,which is why I'll never be an ROV pilot :-(

Lol, Oops!!!

Its the driver's fault, should never have left his car there. Sue him for breaking your plane :)


Its the driver's fault, should never have left his car there.

Whew, glad you said the driver wasn't in the car. I was worrying about whether he'd been injured.

This is why I suggest to folks that they join a flying club. They have insurance and will teach you to fly (well, they'll try). The club I joined was built on an old landfill. The guy that owned the adjacent property at the end of the runway hated the little planes. He was great with a 12Ga.

In my experience, the bugs* only come when you stop taking drugs.**

* Link is to alien fire bug video from previous thread.
** Drugs are bad.

Wow the poster of that comments

have seen this 'bug" embed itself all over the well head, its in the pipes, anything that is steel it seems to be able to go into like it is not even there. I dont know what could have made this, it could be some type of reaction to radioactivity if BP has used Nukes in the Gulf like I think that they have. It has been confirmed by University Of Washington seismography lab that the pattern shown on the day of the initial blow out is that of an underground nuke!

It could also be some type of alien life form

So BP have their own nukes now. Be very afraid ;-)

One thing this event has shown is that people have a lot more imagination than I ever thought...that or better drugs.

I recall a statement by a former government official that nobody could have imagined people flying planes filled with people into buildings. In future, we surely need government officials with imaginations that are at least on a par with the general populace.

As to the specifics of an imagined BP nuclear explosion. I wonder how BP gained access to the UK nuclear arsenal? I can't imagine them having gained access to the US nuclear arsenal. Or the French. Or the Russian. Or does BP have its own nuclear arsenal? Why? How do the hide the expense in their published financial statements? Isn't it cheaper just to bribe government officials?

For a discussion of detection and identification of underground nuclear explosions,
see www.fas.org/ota/reports/8838.pdf which was published in 1988. The technology has changed but science has not.

Don't think they need access, if my rough calculation was correct, every 12 hours this well produces enough hydrocarbon fuel for a fuel-air bomb with the same energy capacity as the Hiroshima 15kT device.

will we EVER stay on topic before this whole friggin site comes crashing down?????


The Bush administration's claims of ignorance are cast into even greater doubt by a report that a hypothetical event resembling the actual events of September 11 was the subject of a military training exercise less than a year before 9-11. As United Press International documented, on October 24, 2000, the Pentagon ran a "mass casualty exercise, which simulated crisis response in a scenario where a hijacked aircraft crashed into the Pentagon."


rovman, a question about the equipment at depth. A lot of it looks like it was taken pretty intact from topside. I would have thought that the absolute pressure at depth of a few thousand psi would have wreaked havoc with just about everything. But it looks simpler than I thought.

A few questions, gauges look like surface gauges, do you just let the seawater permeate the casing and now have say hydraulic pressure inside the bourdon tube and seawater outside?

Are electronic cases nitrogen pressurized, with the pressure regulated to be a few psi above ambient seawater pressure?

All those hydraulic tools, likely with shielded and/or low pressure seals on the ball bearings, do you just let seawater migrate inside for the trip and trash the tools afterwards?

Electrical connectors and wiring, do you just let seawater migrate between the insulation and the pvc insulation? Or is everything purged with say nitrogen?

From some of the things I have had to do but not ROV

A few questions, gauges look like surface gauges, do you just let the seawater permeate the casing and now have say hydraulic pressure inside the bourdon tube and seawater outside?

From diving, often liquid filled.

Are electronic cases nitrogen pressurized, with the pressure regulated to be a few psi above ambient seawater pressure?

From dropping cameras 1k+ feet, just good O-rings and strong cases. Maybe ROVs use something different.

All those hydraulic tools, likely with shielded and/or low pressure seals on the ball bearings, do you just let seawater migrate inside for the trip and trash the tools afterwards?

Pass but titanium is often used undersea, strong and corrosion resistant. There are good lubes as well.

Electrical connectors and wiring, do you just let seawater migrate between the insulation and the pvc insulation? Or is everything purged with say nitrogen?

You really don't want sea water inside. Good seals, glands, gell fills, welded seals, potting etc. Hydrogen often gets used as a purge on comms and power cables, penetrates better.


For all those questions: Sorry for not responding on the last few threads: up all night with a sick well.

rightsize/rainy - Why take the risk? Just a guess but so they can stop/reduce the flow now until waiting another few weeks for the RW...which might take a lot longer than a few weeks.

bb -- Unwarranted risk? And there's the rub: one person's unwarranted is another person's OK. The old joke is true: ask 5 highly skilled engineers that question and you're certain to get 7 or 8 good answers. I have no way of knowing but I bet the insider's working opinions on the situation range from "OK" to "Hell no". That's not all that atypical in these situations.

OCTS -- BP would never be allowed to produce the well even if they had 100% containment and recovery. And if they could do it legally I serious doubt they would want to try: way too much potential for another leak IMHO

Guest - had a bartender show me how to win that bet years ago: customer can't break egg. Bartender does and wins bet. How: the bartended took a pin and put a nearly invisible scratch along the long axis of the egg. Breaks real easy then. No way for me to know but there could easily be a "scratch" in the near surface csg.

deadman -- All drilling contracts have an out clause...the force majeure. Typically includes such minor events as wars, etc. Gov't intervention is usually one of the outs. Can't get a drilling permit...no contract. But that also allows the drilling company to cancel their commitment and sign new contracts and ship those idle rigs overseas. An operator calls FM and they are out of the drilling game until they can contract another rig. And the rigs that leave the GOM will probably be on multi-years deals so they won't be back in the GOM until long after the moratorium is lifted. An operator can easily spend $20 -$30 million in fees just to ship the rig overseas. They won't do that to just drill 1 or 2 wells as a rule. As Glen says, the Destin reversal took about 10 years to resolve if memory serves. And I believe this situation developed not from what the feds did but a lawsuit by FL.

OCTS -- The investigators might not need to ask the right questions. Expect Anadarko to pull out all the stops to show that BP was criminally negligent. Right now Anadarko is on the hook for 25% of the entire cost of this nightmare. They're not nearly as big as BP. Their share could destroy the company. I'd bet my last half gallon of Blue Bell that Anadarko had the best consultants available in the world build their legal argument many weeks ago.

I am intrigued by the partners situation. Would a partner like Andarko have a man on the rig at all times? A lot of risk and money is involved I would expect they would keep a close eye on things.

Steve -- A partner always has the right to put their own observer on the rig at anytime. But if it happens it's usually just a geologist when they are logging the well. All drilling ops are covered in the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). A rather long form that covers many situations and clearly outlines financial responsibilities. We haven't seen the JOA on the BP well. But they typically have sections that deal with negligent/illegal activities by the operators. You can imagine over the decades the language has become very precise based upon previous screw ups by operators. That why I offer Anadarko as BP worst nightmare when it comes to the formal investigation of the accident. Unless BP comes to a settlement that satisfies Anadarko we should expect a very bloody technical debate.

In fact, Anadarko may actually have a written record (emails) of very specific complaints re: BP operation of the well. It's even possible Anadarko specifically told BP they didn't agree with the plan to displace the riser with seawater and BP told Anadarko to sit down and shut up. Operators do that with partners when they can't reach a compromise. I've done that many times. And you always hope it doesn't come back and bite you in the *ss. I've negotiated millions in reduced costs for clients over this "I told you so" option. So it wouldn't be a surprise to find out Anadarko had a formal list of "I Told You So's" long before the blow out.

Thanks for that insight. A very different world to the one I inhabit.

Expect Anadarko to pull out all the stops to show that BP was criminally negligent. Right now Anadarko is on the hook for 25% of the entire cost of this nightmare.

This should be an interesting call for BP. Cynically the equation is risking 4 times the fine, and 25% of the costs. Both or nothing. Fighting a criminal case, and losing will cost them say, 1.5G$ in additional fines plus say 5G$ in cleanup. Winning the case, saves them that. But cutting a deal with Anadarko for their share of the cleanup with Anadarko dropping out of any criminal case costs them 5$G. With the risk that they still lose the case and end up 6.5$G down anyway. On that basis, I suspect they will sit and fight.

The big question about criminal negligence is the question no-one has been able to answer. Sure we can point to issues in the managment in BP, and point fingers at the well design. But we don't know how many other wells have been drilled by the other contractors that are no better, and all approved by MMS. Very hard to make a case for criminal negligence on a design that has government signoff. Very hard to prove criminal negligence if the whole shmozzle is nothing more than SOP across the industry. For all the posturing by other operators, I would bet many are worried about just how much industry dirty linen will be aired if this gets to criminal proceedings. If it does.

Also, evidence of the number of other wells in the GOM that kicked at various times, and had to be shut in. That also points to industry and government (via MMS) accepted risk. My bet is that a criminal negligence charge will be hard to make stick. Straightforward negligence, much easier. I will bet they cut a deal. Cough to simple negligence, pay $1000 /bbl. This leaves Anadarko with a problem. A very big one. BP may well cut a deal with them too. BP are not neccesarily on the back foot here.

I remember a case we tried years ago in Galveston where the insurance company used the defense that everyone in the insurance industry "did it" even though it was against he law.

That went over like a lead balloon with the trial judge. He had some integrity. Fine man, may he rest in peace.

The jury awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages in a case where the actual damages they awarded were about $150,000.

Anytime a company intentionally violates the law, even if the agency involved is asleep at the switch or looks the other way, if the trial judge has integrity, you better watch out. Of course, integrity is always subject to reversal on appeal.

Seems to be happening more and more these days.

Anytime a company intentionally violates the law, even if the agency involved is asleep at the switch or looks the other way

Absolutely. The issue I see is that it isn't clear that apart from the actual spill of oil - which was not itself intentional, it is hard to find laws that have been broken.

Then you go to the deaths of the rig hands. Again, it is very hard to find a point where laws were broken, or overall management was in breach of laws to the point of criminal negligence. As Rockman has been at pains to point out time and time again, there was nothing out of the ordinary about operations before the accident up until a few hours before it occured. Cement jobs fail. You can argue the toss about well design, centralisers, and so on. But none of this is criminal negligence. Poor judgement on the part of low level managers, but not criminal conduct by BP. So, cement jobs regularly fail. There is an understood process. It seems that about now it all falls apart, and nobody can usefully explain why. It took at least three separate very bad actions to cause the accident. 1. Not wait for cement cure. 2. Explain away anomolous cement test. 3. Not watch mud returns. Up until here there hasn't been anything that could be actionable. And time and time again, number 3. Ten minutes before the accident it could have been avoided. It would have been reported as a kick and shut in to the MMS, and appeared on an end of year report. Just like all the others. BP would have ended up a few million further over budget, and nobody would have died.

Moral and ethical blame rests with both BP and the contractors. There simply wasn't a good enough safety culture. But you can't legislate culture. You can't really even legislate quality (not really, only on paper), and it is hard to make lack of (real) quality a criminal issue. Of course this is why things like ISO9000 are so popular. You can legislate that. And all the little bits of paper circulating are very high quality indeed.

Trying to cast a huge and complex accident like this is simple guilty/not-guilty black and white misses the important points. Sadly a base human desire for vengance via application of law tends to mean that there is a very good chance that exactly this application of legal vengance will drive out the important lessons. Like the Space Shuttle, it may take another one before people wake up.

It's still manslaughter and civil wrongful death.

So is an auto accident.

It is the constant desire to sheet things home to legal black and white that is dangerous. I'm sure there is an astounding amount of legal precidence here. To a large extent I don't care. It isn't what is important. Vengance is for Clint Eastwood movies. The only thing that is useful is to ensure that going forward we learn and do better. Avoiding any repetition is the most important goal. It seems clear that there has been considerable pressure on BP's operations from keeping a weather eye on possible legal and financial ramifications. Lack of transparency to the public is probably the least of these sins. If pressure to avoid criminal proceedings and reduce EPA fines results in deals being cut, and sealed out of court settments, and likely the opportunity for various government agencies and other oil industry operators to avoid scrutiny, then the law has worked against the public interest. And at the moment it looks as if this is the most likely result.

Francis, you make an excellent point. The desire for revenge against BP is totally counterproductive to the public interest. As a BP shareholder, dependent on this company for a good bit of my retirement, I am outraged by what my company has done. I don't feel that I deserve to be "punished", however. Like most of the public, I was under the impression that BP was one of the more enlightened of the oil companies. I certainly would never vote for any proposal to save 2% of drilling costs by cutting corners on safety.

Paying the cost of legitimate claims is more than enough punishment for shareholders. As for management, I and other shareholders will be looking for an opportunity to throw them out.

The public desire for revenge will only make BP managment, and perhaps some of its shareholders circle the wagons, and engage in coverups, instead of being honest about what happened and admitting mistakes. We are already seeing it happen. They could have shut off the oil going into the ocean months ago, but apparently they were worried about fines based on an accurate measurment of the flow. See http://dailyhurricane.com/2010/07/bp-doesnt-want-all-of-flow-captured-be... for a discussion of this astonishing theory.

Every dollar in revenge, will cost the victims of this disaster probably ten, and over the years, with a more antagonistic relationship between producers and consumers of oil, perhaps cost future victims a hundred dollars.

We are all addicted to oil - producers, consumers, contractors, shareholders, workers, everyone. Let's stop fighting each other, search for the truth about what happened, share the costs as fairly as we can, and above all work together to fix this industry for now, and find alternatives for the future.

Yes, Francis; so is a car accident.

However, this will not stop a wrongful death action if the driver is deemed to be negligent (i.e. evidence of drunkenness, texting, watching videos, applying make-up while not watching the traffic signals, etc.)

Docellen: Shareholders are often victims of the corporations in which they invest (and they can be wiped out, but only to the extent of their stock investments.) This is simply a brutal reality.

Should investors be saved while victims of corporate negligence have suffered? This will likely be determined by a court, just like in the case of a car accident. And the judge will not make a determination on behalf of investors. Remember that a corporation (or an LLC or PLC) is a separate legal "person" and the shareholders do not count in the legal equation.

taking responsibility for one's actions is not "revenge"...

Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment.

It occurs where death results from serious negligence, or, in some jurisdictions, serious recklessness.

and for the next post... your retirement worth more than the dead workers... hmmm... what if it were YOUR son... THAT'd be a dilema... YOUR golf carts vs YOU flesh and blood... how friggin' heartless...

I can speak to all those statements there, and I still have to say: Be slow towards anger. Vengence is a dish best served cold.

The only thing that I can point to that may have been illegal was the negative test. Legally they didn't have to perform the negative test, unless that was part of the APM permit that BP sent to MMS for approval to T&A the well.

Now if they can be found negligent by not following industry best practices or maybe even covering up or not listening to the actual results of the negative test then that IMHO is a felony. To bleed off as much as they did during a negative test means you obviously have a problem and purposely moving on without fixing or investigating the problem's source should be proof of negligence.

I think a good case could be made against the Drill reps onboard the Horizon and maybe a engineer in Houston, (if they were in the loop) if they go after the negative test.

Wildman, i agree with you that the pressure test is a key area and the conduct there has the potential to rise to criminal conduct, possibly. The handling of the concrete issues by the engineers is also very ripe for establishing liability. The one engineer is already a disaster for BP from based on his testimony. And the junior engineer is lethal to BP based on his e-mails.

The suggestion above that there is no indication that BP did anything actionable up until the blow out is incorrect in my opinion. There are so many opportunities here that it would take some time to sit down and map them all out.

There are doctrines that would apply here to shift the burden or proof onto BP to prove it was not negligent. One is negligence per se where if you violate a regulation or law, you are presumed negligent. That doctrine would encompass the concrete and pressure testing issues since applicable regs were likely broken. Can BP prove it was not negligent on the on the decision to proceed despite the apparently clear pressure test failures. Can BP prove it was not negligent when it disregarded the halibutrion warnings, proceeded with 6 instead of 21 centralizers, did so because that was all they had not because they had some altrernative theory on why 6 wouild be fine, and they then proceeded based on the hope that the pipe would hang straight in the hole under gravity...when the hole itself is not even straight.

(The e-mail about hoping the pipe hangs straight pretty much sums up their negligent attitude throughout and can be used like a hammer to pound that home to the jury. It sums it all up in a dramatic way when contrasted with the 11 killed and the devastation that followed. Most people are more careful than that backing out of their driveway. Here BP decides not to look when backing out and hopes it will not hit anyone. Well, it ran over and killed 11 people.)

This leaves the issue of causation, and there will definitely be challenges there, but under the circumstances of this case, I believe expert opinion will be able to make the connection sufficiently, with the possible help of burden-shifting rules/doctrine.

This is just scratching the surface and does not include an over-arching theory that likely can be very effectively developed here. I have not done a formal analysis of the claims, but based on what I have seen already, my initial curbside opinion is that BP is toast on civil liability claims based on tort law. I suspect they are just as dead, or more so, under the applicable contracts as well. I don't know enough about the potentially applicable criminal laws, except the spill law bases criminal liability on simple negligence (misdemeanor) that can rise to felony level based on intent.

The facts are so thick with potential legal claims and application of various legal doctrines that this case would be an excellent basis for a law school examination question(s).

Counsel: My field for 32 years has been tort law and I can assure you that this accident was foreseeable and is appearing more and more so every day. I wouldn't touch this case with a ten foot pole but it is only because I don't have fifteen years left to spend on a case and millions to put into one (the Exxon Valdez lesson for tort lawyers).

But there are tort lawyers who do and will.

And of course many of the commenters here can not properly distinguish between the civil and criminal laws much less the various burdens of proof regarding them. Doesn't stop them from trying to defend the industry however. I guess I should not be surprised that so many here seek to find ways to justify BP's conduct.

But I simply can't. What irritates me so much is the response to the spill.

The real gross negligence, it seems to me, is the inability to handle the wild well. Blow outs are going to happen. They are foreseeable. In fact they have blow out preventers knowing blow outs will happen.

So why did we have such an abysmal failure to control the output of the well once it blew?

You don't decide to build a fire truck after the fire starts.

All this crap about having to engineer a cap to stop the well is not going to cut it with the public. And the apologists are lauding the industry about doing it in such short time and saying the the industry should be saluted for their heroism and ingenuity!

The comparisons to Apollo 13 are pure fiction and not apt. Apollo 13 was not an unmitigated catastrophe. What crap to claim the efforts are similar!

It is like the Gulf of Mexico became the oil industry's guinea pig without the informed consent of the public. And people are pissed and rightfully so.

We had to learn the hard way just how bad these accidents can be.

And another thing that pisses me off is the attitude of people who know no medicine (human or veterinary) or know nothing of the biological sciences and who seem to think the harm to life will be minimal. What hubris.

I grew up in Galveston. I used to surf as a kid. I used to fish and crab as a kid. I am outraged about what has happened to the gulf. I am sure everyone who grew up around or lives near the gulf are as well. And the excuses just are not satisfactory at all.

The problem I see is that the US is rapidly becoming the land of the entitled where personal responsibility is a quaint anachronism for the age of plenty. Hence the abundance of lawyers.

The leak was caused by many things, errors in engineering judgement and failures in oversight are most direct, but every person on the planet shares the responsibility in part because they enjoy the benefits of the risks taken by those engineers and governments.

So go ahead David and attack the industry that gave you a comfortable lifestyle and rail on the engineers and risk takers that gave you the opportunity to exist on this Earth (because without all the energy oil has provided, most of us wouldn't have lived). After you're finished spouting your hatred, take time to consider what you'll do when nobody needs your services anymore because the lights have all been turned out and industry grinds to a halt when as the oil that feeds us all bleeds away forever.

GregTX: Are you saying: 1) BP's conduct should be excused because it should be the acceptable standard of conduct within the oil patch and 2) the public, and in particular the residents around the GOM, should absorb the resulting damage from BP's conduct as the price of the the public's consumption of oil?

EL: You beat me to the same questions.
GregTX: answer please!

1) No, it shouldn't be excused, but the enormous cost of the clean-up operation is punishment enough.

2) Yes, this is part of the price of oil.

TW: And the small businesses and individuals around the GOM who have suffered losses from the blow out should do what?

File their claims and start thinking about other lines of business if they're concerned about their self-preservation. Fishing and tourism are going to be iffy for awhile. It's tragic, but its life.

Yeah, same with the wives and children of the 11 who died on DWH. Especially them, since they sucked directly from the tit of BP.

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not. What happened to their husbands is tragic and the industry (as a whole) strives desperately to ensure that doesn't happen to anyone. I can't offer them any consolation to how hard life sucks, but attacking the corporation vengefully won't get their husbands back and won't make them feel any better. Its a really awful place to be, but there's really nothing else to offer them.

Nothing to offer?
How about some oil!
It makes everything ok!

Greg, you raise some good points, but I think the law does address them.

First, civil law is not about vengeance, it's about compensation for proven injuries. Not claimed injuries, but damages proven to a jury of 12 who all (or 9) agree that the competent and admissible evidence they considered, which was subject to attack by defense counsel and experts, proved the damages were legit. and reasonable.

Second, There are no damages (for property damage, lost income and injuries) awarded unless liability is established first. Again decided by a jury after being instructed by a judge on the law. And the law finds liability only if it is proven that the party was responsible for causing the injury through wrongful conduct, meaning negligent conduct.

That means the risk of damage/danger of an act or acts was foreseeable, the risk of harm to the party was foreseeable, and the acts were performed below that standard that is acceptable to society, below what you would expect of an ordinary and reasonable person under the circumstances. Holding people liable (which means responsible) for their conduct makes society safer because people are more careful as a result. And since they can control outcome better than anyone else, they should get responsibility. It also places the damage on the responsible party and not the victim.

Third, the law is designed to accomplish the other important fact you brought up, and that is making sure all oil users bear some of the burden. And they will. That's another reason why the law holds the party doing the act responsible. It is more efficient to do that. That way, the cost can be spread. In other words, the externality is assigned by the law back to the responsible party, and then that party, or business, passes the cost of the damages it pays out back to the consumer in the form of price increases. If someone else, like the victim of the gov. is stuck with the tab, then that does not happen.

Punitive damages are part of civil tort damages, but they are not there for simple vengeance. They are there to discourage others from doing the same thing, and to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are permissible only upon clear evidence that the wrongdoer acted with intentional disregard of a know risk of injury to another. It was fully aware of the risk of harming others through it's wrongful or illegal conduct, but cast caution to the wind and proceeded anyway. Punitive damages are reserved for reprehensible conduct that is very damaging to others and society.

Vengeance is reserved criminal law. And there vengeance is the goal according to some theories of criminal law.

You should also remember that this is not just any company. This is a convicted felon on probation at the time of the spill for reckless conduct that killed 15 workers 5 years ago. Judges consider a criminal's prior record because it is relevant. It is relevant here too. Can you imagine that congressman from Texas running to apologize on national TV to an individual who is a convicted felon responsible for the deaths of 15, who has now been implicated in the deaths of 11 more, and who has unleashed untold suffering and destruction? I can't.

I was with you until your last paragraph where you went from trying to be n objective in your explanation of the law to showing your politics. You must be one of the dems campaign committee. ( I love being a moderate independent. I get to hate them all) Despite the goofiness of the statement, you know what Bartlett meant as does did everyone else who watches the administration operate. You know exactly what the comment was about and you know the refinery incident in the downstream division may be totally unrelated to the upstream drilling. If you do not think unlimited caps are a deterrent then you are just out for vengeance against the "evil corporate money grabbers". I prefer to actually wait to see what all the evidence shows.(Actually I never did like BP all that much, but still think show be given a fair trial--probably impossible here) I caused a hung jury once when the rest of the folks wanted to vote guilty because the entity had money to pay even though they all admitted there was not evidence of gross negligence. "But we have to give the little guy something and we are tired and want to go home". Needless to say I do not usually make it through jury selection.

You are probably right, I should have left that part out. I even went to delete it, but the edit button is gone. However, I would not remove it because I think I am wrong.

I am sincere. That congressman would not have done that to a convited felon on probation for the deaths or 15 and just implicated in the deaths of 11 more if the felon was a human being. He never would have apologized to such a person like that on national TV, even if the guy deserved it.

What makes it acceptable in congress no less to do so when it is a corporation and not an individual. I find that a fascinating question, sincerely. (Does the fact that it is one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet figure into that?) It was not solely a political dig, although i admit that the politics are there, but I did not put them there, he did. I'm just bringing it up.

Thanks for your comments Diverdan. Gotta run!

This spill will cost many $Billions in liabilities, with much more from America’s insane tort system.
You can see why the 1990 Dem Congress had to pass the Oil Pollution act, and limit driller's liability to $75 million, required to LURE drillers to the Gulf.
Our greedy govt promised to INSURE against potential massive liability over $75 million. Our Govt wanted the $trillions of oil royalties, fees, taxes, and took it's profits.

However, when the inevitable spill occurred, this corrupt govt reneged on it's legal, moral, and ethical commitment, and instead used the full force of the US Govt to terrorize, bully, and shake down BP into waiving the cap.

Chicago style extortion, shakedown, machine politics.....
Shameful, and self-destructive to American jobs and prosperity..

What company will locate to America, expand, or even stay knowing our lawless Govt will renege on it's legal, moral, contractual, ethical commitments?

The Republicans were the majority party in Congress in August 1990 when the Oil Pollution Act was passed, and signed by George H.W. Bush. The Dems became the majority party in November and were seated on Jan 3, 1991.

The rest of your drivel isn't worth responding to.

Chicago style extortion, shakedown, machine politics.....

Our government is all that, true.
What a government for the people and by the people would have done would have been to declare a national emergency at the onset of this disaster, seized all of BP's NA assets, taken over day to day operations from BP, assembled a team of the best and brightest minds from both the industry and academia and brainstorm a way to PLUG THIS DAMN WELL.

Any company who would be so backsliding enough to try and abdicate their ultimate responsibility for a disaster soley of their own making would not be welcome by said government.

1. BP's conduct will be judged by those with all the available facts. I neither excuse it nor condemn it because I do not have the technical facts available to judge it. Future juries will.

2. Citizens of the gulf coast in general are paying the price for the public's consumption of oil and the conduct of all those involved in the BP well. They cannot expect to ever be FULLY compensated (no amount of money can replace a livelihood perhaps gone forever). They have to take responsibility for managing their own futures and move on from this as if it were just another natural disaster. They cannot expect any corporation to put them on permanent welfare as a result of mistakes made in the past. This may seem harsh, but its the way of things. Even if the ultimate revenge of liquidating BP was on the table (which it is not), the people of the gulf coast would still be only temporarily relieved (the lawyers of the gulf coast are another story).

I see people like David attack the oil profession and engineering all the time, expecting fellow flawed human beings not to ever make mistakes and therefore assume all errors were made either maliciously or due to a lack of integrity to the profession. They sit in their comfortable offices and ignore the fact that they owe their lifestyle to engineers and laborers who make choices and assess risks daily, mitigating them with knowledge and experience. I don't know if this particular accident was caused by engineers who risked too much or had too little knowledge, but accidents like this do happen occasionally and its the price we pay for our comfort (and our very existence as I've mentioned). That is what I believe and I vote accordingly. I respect those people who reject this and choose to live in caves, but I cannot abide by the idiocy of those who embrace the benefits and think they can reject the costs (David).

GregTx: According to one frequent commenter here who has a long term connection to the oil patch, his reading of oil patch sentiment is that BP should suffer the 16th century English punishment for treason. But it's always good to read another pint of view.

There's alot of emotion in the oil patch right now and that's how I'd take a comment like that.

They have to take responsibility for managing their own futures and move on from this as if it were just another natural disaster.

But GregTX, this was NOT "another natural disaster." It was a unnatural disaster, likely caused by BP cutting corners (judging by the modicum of evidence we have now.) And, if BP was negligent, BP must bear the responsibility for the loss.

They cannot expect any corporation to put them on permanent welfare as a result of mistakes made in the past.

Under Tort law, if corporations are found guilty of negligence, yes; they can. Corporations are found guilty of negligence all the time. That's just the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

One other comment, Greg. It is completely corrosive to law and to our society to only hold some accountable to the law, while others live by a different standard. Equal protection of the laws is a cornerstone of our democracy and constitution. It is bedrock and fundamental. Unfortunately, all too often, the powerful are not held accountable, and many act like that is their right.

Lack of accountability is why we are here in the first place. Many people felt BP got off too light in the past in light of its horrid record of violations.

You know what they say about criminals who are not held to account. They go on to kill again. Does that apply to corporations, too?

You know what they say about criminals who are not held to account. They go on to kill again.

But Syncro, as a fine attorney isn't it your JOB to defend criminals? One of the problems I have with lawyers is they represent KNOWN guilty people all the damn time, and have NO compunction about leaving them to prey on their fellow man. They just say, "I am just defending my client to the best of my ability". So no problem on letting them off with a technicality when they have the blood of 10 victims on their hands, it's just Attaboy! and high-fives at the local watering hole. Too bad if he kills another 10, but maybe you'll get to represent him and get him off again - a two-fer!

Widelyred. My cousin was a public defender. I went to watch a murder trial he was handling where a guy on a fishing boat murdered everyone else, or most everyone else, on board. I asked him how he could do it, defend a guy he knew was guilty. Did it trouble him. So, I understand where you are coming from.

My cousin explained to me that he was an officer of the court, with a responsibility to ensure that the integrity of system and our laws are upheld. He also explained the history of the right to counsel and the abuses that led to it. And he explained the vital importance in a democracy of ensuring no one is put to death or sent to jail without the govt. adhering to the law, meeting its burden and kept honest. Doing that protects everyone's freedom, and is essential to maintaining justice in practice and in concept.

Most of our cherished rights have been won on the backs of scoundrels, but the rights themselves are prescious and need to be protected and honored in practice every day in every case or they wither and die.

"It is completely corrosive to law and to our society to only hold some accountable to the law, while others live by a different standard. Equal protection of the laws is a cornerstone of our democracy and constitution. It is bedrock and fundamental. Unfortunately, all too often, the powerful are not held accountable, and many act like that is their right."

The most powerful player here, and the MOST RESPONSIBLE is this corrupt Federal Govt.
Dem Congress negligence/incompetence for failuing to regulate over their 3.5 years in charge.
Obama MMS failures to enforce existing regs, issuing waivers for this exact rig, failing to require adequate spill response plans.
Obama Government incompetence in 15 separate agencies to contain or clean up the spill, incompetence in spill response.
The LAST THING the Dems and Obama want is their incompetence and negligence over 3.5 years displayed in a courtroom.
Expect some deal with BP to bypass proceedings which bring Dem corruption, negligence, and responsibility into public view.

However, the worst corrupt Fed Govt aspect is it's lawless reneging on the 1990 Oil Pollution act, and instead bullying, terrorizing, and shaking down BP into bypassing our Govt's legal, moral, and ethical commitment to handle all liability/costs (other than cleanup) over $75m.
This will have very bad long term effects on US employment and business, as what business can trust the US govt to live up to it's own lawfull commitments.

You would have thought the dissonance would have caught up with the rabid right wingers by now.

The reality is the oil industry is getting less and less good to be in. Costs are going up, complexity is going up, prices get capped by what the market can bear - and now the regulators are playing holier-than-thou on accidents where you thought you had a $75m liability cap.

Frankly if I were looking at strategy for big oil companies I'd already be looking to withdraw and move into other areas, safeguarding the assets and looking for a growth industry; rather than a cash cow (which is where oil now sits).

If politicians are smart they will make sure BP is let off and regulations aren't over tightened - but I somehow doubt they will really look at the big picture.

Citizens of the gulf coast in general are paying the price for the public's consumption of oil and the conduct of all those involved in the BP well.

We are paying the price of those who "sit in their comfortable offices and ignore the fact(s)".
Anyone who has spent time in the corporate world knows the reality of the avarice(longing for advancement) and fear(competition for said advancement) that drives decisions at all levels.
This is not "just another natural disaster".
This was a totally avoidable, man-made calamity brought upon us by those who are foolish enough to promote a fraudulent way of life, a way of life that those who exercise a smidgen of commonsense know is doomed.
And I do not owe my "very existence" to the buffoons of this industry.
On the contrary, the BP disaster has shown the inimical results continued pursuit of this lifestyle delivers.

Said while ignoring the fact that without these same societal constructs (industry) you are attacking, you would be banging out your message with sticks on a hollow log to the local tribals within earshot instead of the advanced technology these same constructs have provided in spite of the rantings of naysayers, before and since since the Wright brothers were told to give up on manned flight since God never saw fit to bless mankind with feathers!

Edit: My friends always chastise me for prematurely going for the soft underbelly and foregoing the gusto of relishing the debate.

Chicken or egg.
Unfortunately sticks on a hollow log are not an option.
I was born into this mess and did not create it.
Your argument is weak.

should absorb the resulting damage from BP's conduct as the price of the the public's consumption of oil?

no.. Public consumption of oil is not the issue. The price of oil, the job in the gulf, Fed budget deficeit, trade deficeit with other country and USD currency are the issue.. There are a lot of economic issue that get tie into drilling in GOM. Just think if we don't have drilling tomorrow. All the righs will move on to other part of the world. And all the local business supporting the drilling industry will be gone. So are the employment.. Some of these job are really good pay comapre to serving hamburger in McDonald. Then without the royalty check, we need tax from something else to replace the revenue. Then we would have to import more oil from other part of the world. It will increase the price and in the events of a war we may not be able to get oil from other country and we are going to be stuck (remember how Soviet treat their neighboring country by cutting of NG delivery when they have a dispute. Same can happen to good old USA if we are not energy self sufficient ourselves). And with higher trade deficeit, our currency may have to go lower at the margin and create inflation and lower standard of living across the country.. And with higher gas price, everyone with car will suffer (remember what happen to us when oil was in the $% a gallon range??)

TX -- I understand your feelings well. But I'll have to go along with David on the guinea pig part. Looking at what's going on in the GOM it's obvious no one in our business had a plan to deal with a malfunctioning BOP in 5,000' of water. The obvious solution for us seems to have been: don't do anything that could remotely cause you to go to your BOP. Apparently BP forgot about that part of the plan. Tomorrow if Chevron had to hit the BOP when drilling in X thousand foot water depth and the BOP stuck a jnt of DP what would they do differently then what BP is doing right now? I doubt my skin is any thicker than yours and I don't like to listen at the shots taken at us for doing what the public demands so we can feed its glutony. But the truth is the truth buddy.

Look, if a plane crashes into my house because I just happen to be under a very popular flight path do I get to sue the airline industry for using my house as a guinea pig? Obviously they should forsee that crashing is a common occurance and be prepared to avoid damaging innocent people's property. After all, the history of aviation is riddled with aircraft flying into houses. Just saying "we'll keep it in the sky" isn't nearly good enough.

So, GregTX, are you saying that you would not seek some form of recompense for the loss of your home - or the loss of your loved one? (I doubt it.)

From the company whose plane landed on my home yes...

What if the company were named "BP?" (See your comments above...)

My comments are directed at the attack on the industry as a whole and I made no claim that BP shouldn't compensate people appropriately. There are many here that think appropriate compensation is whatever large number comes to their head, but its not, though courts may (and usually do to all our detriment) disagree. People cannot fish. Ok, well you can receive an equivalent wages for cleaning up or atleast a check for your associated profits and idle expenses. Fair enough. Oh, you think you've hit the jackpot and sue for 10 million dollars even though you would never earn that much. Well, we'll see about that (refer to courts). Now you think that industry as a whole should be punished because one of their members screwed up. Well, give it a go, but understand how much you'll hurt your own community if you succeed.

i don't think it's fair to assume you know what people here think. with the exception of a very few, most are simply discussing what happened, how it could have happened and the implications of such. no one but you mentioned suing for $10 million dollars and living on welfare. and (sorry, not sure where the link to the article is at the moment, but i'll look for it) my understanding is that those who have signed up to clean up are taking a serious day rate cut. it would be like if that plane crashed into your house and you had to work at mcdonald's for a year until the mess got settled. some compassion would be nice, you know.

maybe you are really angry at all the other people who are giving the oil biz grief and you are just airing it here? i read david's comment and heard more grief for the gulf and his childhood stomping ground than a wrongful indictment of the oil patch. and, honestly, as a former gulfer, i'm pretty darned sad about it too. it's because of weeks of reading the sane, intelligent, mostly flame-free discussions here though that i can see and have a ( slight) understanding of both sides. that said, in my book, bp flubbed up royally and will / should be held rightfully and reasonably accountable.


What a load of slapstick, nonsensical , utter bullshit and trash nonsense.

We all drink water. Ok so if a treatment plant by mistake,due to poor control, injects poison in the water and thousands die THEN its the public's fault because they drink water???????????????

You have just got to be getting paid to post such utter claptrap.

You should go to the closet and not come out until you can spell "BP" and "Fault".

Then go to the corner and don the dunce cap for the next 20 years.

Sheessshhh , what color is the sky where you live? Or better yet who supplies your weed? Time to change suppliers.

The space program has quite a few lives on its rolls. The crews of two shuttles, the Apollo launch pad fire that killed 3, several astronauts killed in various training accidents and so on.

The fact is that life is all about risk. If you aren't willing to take that risk there will be no progress. If the early cave dwellers didn't take risk they would have rejected the dangers of using fire to cook and for light, and we'd still be living in dark caves eating our food raw.

To accept the benefits of modern technology and at the same time hold those involved in the accidents that come along with it to impossible standards of responsibility is hypocritical. And does the species great harm. The simple truth is that we are coming to a real challenge as the non-renewable resources of the planet dwindle. It will only be by the dint of taking many risks that humanity will progress through the times to come and be able to continue to progress.

I agree.

Now, the caveat I see is that we need to learn how to pursue these larger and more concentrated forms of energy with greater safeguards, an obvious lesson that is being learned, but there is no way to eliminate risk altogether without giving up progress entirely. I just hope in the end that that's what comes out of this, that progress is worth pursuing while acknowledging that risks are being taken, but further mitigated.

In the modern world, corporations usually carry liability insurance for just such "accidents."

As someone who spent a LOT of time in the Space business I agree. NASA came up with systems to try to quanitify and manage those risks and based on that analysis (we lose 1 shuttle in 100 was the analysis and it has been pretty accurate) managers make decisions to go forward or not. There is an old saying "no risk = no reward" which is true but the equation doesn't say to take stupid risks. I assume the oil companies have something similar but it may only factor in economics of if the well produces or not and leaves out the chance of an accident and possible losses from that.

Don't want to criticize in hindsight, but many years ago my oldest son was considering a subject for Science Fair, and I did a little research on the Shuttle design. It seemed to me the basic idea was very flawed, because there was no need to lauch people and heavy payloads together. I programmed my little PC and derived a much better option, building a huge cargo plane to launch the crew with a space plane, or to launch small critical need payloads, and using dumb boosters to launch payloads.

I also looked at the Space Station, and concluded there was no need to build one. My conclusion was the whole effort was a lot of pork, and space R&D should be shifted to robotic craft.

And better robots is what we need for deep water. I bet we're about to see a quantum leap in deep water ROV capability. In 10 years, they'll be like deep water Transformers, with all sorts of gizmos, four arms, and will take things apart and put them together pretty much on their own.

Engineers don't try to be lawyers (or shouldn't) so lawyers should return the favor. I think the people in the business will tell you there were some significant challenges to getting cap made. The quick and dirty idea didn't work due to hydrates, the other ideas worked somewhat but not fully, and they learned from each one in order to understand conditions in the well and what needed to be done. Engineering is NOT as simple as people think (nor is law) and it's not always right the first time when something is new (no blowout like this had ever happened this deep). Additionally they had to make a solution that didn't make things WORSE. You can't fault the engineers here, you might can fault the Management for not starting the right set of engineers on the right problems faster.

I agree the accident could have been forseeable, but that's only going to cover the part about the deaths. Last I looked you couldn't charge a corporation with negiligent homicide but you can sure get then on negligence! Whether BP was negligent in its' response however could be argued bit different, according to what I have seen BP was in compliance with MMS policy about what contingencies to take concering a spill/blowout. IMHO that sort of removes some avenues for damages, but IANAL (only 9 hours of BLaw claaes at Grad level) so that's just my opinion.

I can also see some lawyer (one with a thick skin) arguing that the workers were contributory in thier own deaths by thier actions/inactions. A lot of this would normally be a straightforward application of black letter law but there is always someone who trys to invent a new way around the law and once in a while they get lucky with the judge. Then come the appeals. Also there are issues here of jurisdiction, what goes to Federal Court and what stays at the State level (e.g. does the spill crossing state lines mean it's a Federal case? since it was > 12 mile offshore does that make it a Federal case?). Then the issue of the Lousiana courts system having some significant differences than other places may be a twist and the chance of finding an "impartial" judge or jury may also arise.

As you said it's a plantiff's tort lawyer nightmare but if you are counsel for BP and are paid by the hour..Wooohoo..start the printing presses as there is going to be a lot of money made for many years to come. I'd say 15 yrs might be a quick resolution to all the cses.

Engineers don't try to be lawyers (or shouldn't) so lawyers should return the favor.

Agreed. I try to return the favor, but I've been voraciously reading TOD and other sites for over six weeks, I'm a geek naturally, and I stayed at the Holiday Inn last night... ;-)

It is not just the deaths that were forseeable, NASA. I would argue that the resulting damage to the GOM and an entire way of life for the region (the sea food industry, the hospitality industry, etc.) were forseeable as a direct result of the explosion. The lack of a real emergency response plan simply adds proof to the negligence claim IMHO.

Lucky for BP, the fish, turtles, whales, porpoises and birds have no right to sue! (I am simply injecting gallows humor here.)

I am not a tort lawyer, and I am located in Los Angeles, so I "have no horse in this race." But I love the Gulf, and (like others here) I find this accident and the loss of life a tremendous, pathetic tragedy. I want to know absolutely everything about the process & I have learned so much from TOD, the riveting live feeds, and #theoildrum on IRC.

David, Thanks for your comments and it's a pleasure to meet you here. Big tragedy all around. People struggle to understand it all. I sure do. I can't blame people for having mixed feelings, but everyone has a job to do. And when you run this event through legal analysis, it raises some very troubling issues not necessarily clearly visible to the lay person.

Rockman and I have been having an on-going debate of sorts about BP responsibility vs. Transocean responsibility. He has put me in a box, saying Transocean can't blame BP or it blames itself, essentially. The analysis i have put together to get out of that box is useful i think for seeing things not immediately apparent.

True, you can take each individual action BP took and arguably claim that each one standing alone, with the facts construed most favorably to BP, was done within industry standard practices. But that misses the point.

The risk factor of each individual decision can be fully evaluated only by considering risk in the context of all prior relevant decisions that came before that decision, and the cumulative risk factor those decisions.

You could assign colors green for safest available risk factor (let's call that best practices), yellow for increased risk factor (let's call that industry standard when there is also a best practices available), orange for heightened risk (something you might do in a pinch where no good choices), and red for acute risk (this is negligence). Assign a color to each decision you make. Your goal is to get to a sealed well while having a green or yellow cumulative risk factor. (This is a crude system, but it makes the point.) There are many lives at stake.

Let's start with the casing choice. Several imporrtant factors here impact risk evaluation. The casing provides an open path from formation to the drilling floor. The casing is also wider than ideal for a good cement job. There is also a significant section with open annulus in the design, no cement at all. What color do you assign the risk of this particular casing choice. Certainly not green. Probably not yellow. Probably orange.

Move on to cementing. What color? Probably red since Haliburton issued a warning of high risk of a failed cement job unless adequate centrailizers were used. BP disregarded that warning and went with 6 instead of 21.

What color do you assign the casing choice and the cementing choices when considered together? The risk is compounded. My guess is red.

Move on to the decision to reject the pressure test. Now if all prior decisons were at the green level, maybe it's justifiable (maybe not), but if all prior decisions already have you at the orange level, no way. Skip the CBL? If you're in the green, maybe. If you're in the red, no way.

Move on the the decison to displace the mud in the riser without two independent barries in place, with two questionalbe pressure tests, unaccounted for returns, no CBL, no top plug, no hydrostatic balancing in the hole, and a BOP with only one bilnd shear ram. What color? Add the cumulative risk load. Add in the decision to off-load the mud and how that impacted the ability to monitor returns and shut the well in. What color individually and cumulatively?

How about the breaking down of the rig that was going on at the time. It might be okay to do that if the cumulative risk level is at green, no way if it's at orange or red. Too many distractions.

My guess is that the rig was glowing red with cumulative risk by the time it blew. Decision after decision was made at the orange level or higher, and cumulatively, the compounding of the risks surely put it into red.

And that, Rockman, is how I get out of your box. Transocean did not have sufficient info to do a cumulative risk analysis. BP did. TO only has to ensure each individual decision it has input into meets industry standard or regs. BP was responsible for evaluation of each decision in the context of the cumulative risk load of all prior decisions.

Anyway, sorry for the long post and I hope to seee you around, Dave.

How would you assess the responsibility of M-I Swaco, the employer of the two mud engineers, both of whom died?

If I understand things correctly, the incident spanned the shift change, with there being two alternating shifts. So I'd guess all (i.e. both) the mud engineers died. But wouldn't they have a central part to play in monitoring the well for kicks etc? If so, then if they had been diligent in their observations and forceful in bringing the problem to the attention of those in charge of the drilling for immediate resolution, the kick could have been killed before the well blew out. They are not BP employees. Nobody talks about them out of respect for the dead, but accident investigations cannot be queasy about asking tough questions.

Good question, Bruce. Unfortunately, there is not much info on the mud situation and who made what decisions there and who had what responsibilities. Not enough facts.

Also, my analysis is an exercise in speculation and not one intended to assign liability or fault definitively. It is intended as a tool to assist in analyzing what happened. It is not a rendering of a judgment.

One of the things you learn when selling safety devices (rupture discs) is that the manufacturer is very wary of making recommendations. What they want is full data sheets of the application from which they can provide certified flow capacities based on actual flow testing per the ASME Code. We have no detailed knowledge of the details of the cutomer's process, no P&IDs, nothing except his data sheet.

Sometimes I've had customers ask for things my products can't do. You have to learn to say NO! My rule of thumb is the customer is always right as long as he agrees with me. If he does not agree, we need to discuss the matter further until one or both of us adjusts his opinion until we have agreement, at which time he is always right. If we cannot reach an agreement, he is no longer a customer (I won't sell it to him) and therefore he does qualify for the basic premise, the CUSTOMER is always right, unless he disagrees with me.

Brilliant analysis, syncro! Thank you for putting your mind to pull the concepts together.

francis -- the one big IF: syn turned up a MMS reg which cleary states that BP was to leave fluid in the well of sufficient weight that would keep the highest pressure reservoir from flowing. Still waiting to see confirmation that this reg was still inplace and that BP hadn't recieved a waver.
If BP willfully violated MMS regs and it can be shown that this led to the blow that could make a pretty good case for negligence IMHO. But I'll let our TOD legal eagle address that in detail.

Yes, that keps worrying me too. Learning a lot here. So, a clear completion fluid would have saved it too. Possible mistake number four in the last hours. There must be a paper trail here. Indeed this may be far more key than the other mistakes.

Guys they couldn't leave heavy fluid of any kind in the riser because they were planning on leaving the well.

The CFR from my memory states that you must have fluid heavy enough to control the well unless you have multiple barriers. They they were supposed to have multiple barriers at that point of the well. So they could have continued on with the T&A. I personally don't like the sequence of events, but even if they would have performed the entire T&A as normal practice and IF the well blewout on the annulus, they could have completed the T&A process and still had the same blowout just before unlatching the stack.

wildman -- Not in the riser, of course. But if I recall the way the actual reg was written it says you must leave a sufficiently heavy fluid in the csg regardless of any plugs. But my memory ain't what it use to be...and never was.

Yeah I don't remember either.

I don't recall ever going about things the way they did.

Now I did have an operator that demanded that we do an "indirect displacement" where we went from drilling mud to sea water, stopped and cleaned pits for three days with the well wide open and then circulated brine in the well later. I asked the company rep if he felt comfortable doing a negative test on the liner top and the other well components with no packer, or even drill pipe in the hole for three days?

He looked at me and said "what do you mean by negative test?" I explained the possibilities and he still didn't get it. I have no problem with saying that it's time for these guys (drill reps, engineers, drilling managers, OIM's to get a wake up call. We have some real idiots that were working in very important positions in the oilfield and maybe if the precedent is set by putting the BP Horizon drill site managers in jail(only if the deserve it), then we can fix that problem.

I've been on conference calls at 04:00 am where a drilling manager was drunk out of his mind telling us to fill the hole full of cement, because they were loosing returns. They had earlier decided to drill until they ran out of mud and they almost did, that's when the contractor stepped in. We had 12 to 15 foot seas, 200 bbls of mud left on the rig with a drill string volume of 150 bbls and a well that was drinking all the mud we put down the annulus. We convinced the drunk that pumping 16.4 pound per gallon cement in a well with diesel oil based mud, that couldn't maintain a column of 14 ppg mud was a bad idea. Especially when you couldn't get more mud or cement to the rig, until the seas calmed down in a few days.

One of the drill reps made a comment that "we used to do this all the time in South Texas(land)". My comment to him was that in South Texas you don't have twevle foot seas, you can order more trucks of mud or cement and in the worse case, you can run to your truck and leave location.

@ Rockman, Headingout, et al,

I'm watching the crude flow out of the top of the new stuff at about 11:15 11:20 there are a lot of silver looking globs, bubbling out like metholated hydrates out the wazzoo.

sorry I can't seem to get a screen cap on the video.

What's up there? Usually it's a small blizzard of hydrates but this is weirder than usual.

any ideas?


worm -- have to leave that one to HO. I never watch the subsea adventure.

I'm confused about the existence of non-mud heavy completion fluids. What are they? I'm familiar with NaCl brines; can only get so heavy, maybe 10 lb/gal, thought that was all that was used. What's up with this?
"Classes of brines include chloride brines (calcium and sodium), bromides and formates."

Anything go above ~12 ppg?

(2nd edit - chagrined)"Let me Google that for me"

15.44 ppg

Yes you can go way over 12 ppg. Zinc bromide is the heaviest, at around 17.5 ppg being the heaviest I've ever used with a 19 ppg being the "spike" fluid for density maintenance. The next one is calcium bromide, then you have the light stuff, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium bromide.

Sometimes if your in between optimum fluid weights for the speciic fluid, or if you started with one fluid and have to change to another you can mix some of these. BUT some mixtures during winter time can freeze at average winter time temps in the GOM. Even some of the pure fluids freeze at less than 32 degrees if I remember correctly.

I never used any heavy brines, but once tried to talk company man into it. It was on a 22,000 well with 19ppg mud and about 280 degrees temp. Anyway they were trying to run a bond log in the last liner and the logging tool was only 1/4 inch smaller than the id of the liner.

I thought it was going to be impossible to do considering the heavy mud was left cooking in the liner while tripping out of the hole and going back to bottom with logging tool, so I suggested spotting brine water in the liner. He would not go for it, so we spent about 10 days tripping in and out of the hole and conditioning mud with a chemical for temperature stabilization that I don't recall and finally got it logged.

Rio -- Good advice: if you're ever messing with brines on the floor leave you leather boots in the truck. You might look like a coonass fisherman from Fourchon but those rubber boots are the way to go.

280 degrees F isn't that hot. But 19 ppg mud is pretty nasty. Maybe you just needed more sinker bars?

Francis -- In fact that's how BP would have eventually completed the well. You typically don't want to perforate a well with drilling mud in the csg...can mess up the reservoir. So you switch to a clear completion fluid. And you weight it very close to your reservoir pressure: you don't want a pressure surge when you perf. After you open it up you begin displaing the fluid and get the well flowing.

I don't fault BP for getting the oil based mud out of the hole. I would never leave OBM in the hole for such a long period...a real expensive pain to remove later. But any fluid 17.6 ppg or higher would haven't prevented the blow out.

Rockman, from what I remember BP only circulated mud out of a shallow section of the well not the entire production casing. That's not normal. Does anyone know if that's the case?

They were not accomplising much by doing that, unless they were concerned about a cleaner bonding environment for the surface cement plug.

wildman - fuzzy to me to but for some unknown reason I think they displaced all the way from the bottom hole. Could be right about the shallow plug. OBM does make it more difficult from what I've been told.

Rockman, Wildman:


page 11: Loss of primary well control

Also note the level of seawater on the well schematic:


They had displaced or were displacing to the bit depth 8367'

Calculate the well hydrostatic without the riser with 5067 Mudline, seawater at 8367 and 14 ppg from 8367 to shoe at 18303.

Compare with hydrostatic with the riser with pore pressure at 12.6ppg.

Here is how I see it:

((8367'-5067')x8.35)x.052) +((18303'-8367')x14)x.052)

1432 psi seawater hydrostatic + 7233 psi 14.0 ppg OBM hydrostatic

Total hydrostatic at Mudline: 8665 psi

Hydrostatic of riser: (5067 x 8.35 x .052)=2200 psi

Total hydrostatic at time of blowout: 10865 psi

Formation pressure: 12.6ppg from MDT test

18303 (total depth to shoe including riser)

18303 x .052 x 12.6 = 11,992 psi

11992 psi formation pressure - 10865 psi hydrostatic= 1127 psi underbalance. This is exactly 10% underbalanced.

11992 psi formation pressure - 8665 psi hydrostatic at mudline= 3327 psi underbalance relative to well abandonment requirements

Mucho thanks FF. All the damn times at looked at that schematic and didn't note the fluid content in the prod csg. No one is more blind then he who refuses to see.

FF - Your numbers also do a great job of showing how a little gas cut mud can kill you fast. Who knows what the head was at the well head by the time the gas hit the drill floor? You know the feed back loop as well as I do. Why just a 5 or 10 bbl gains makes me nervous.

Exactly any kick needs to detected ASAP- they were so far behind the eightball that when they closed the annular- it was already in their face.

Where does Transocean fit into this picture? Looks like they have been forgotten.

Gross negligence. OIM was responsible for safety of crew.

Don - Just guessing but I suspect To will lay as low as possible until BP starts getting put thru the official ringer of the investigation. I doubt there's any right thing they can say now but a bunch of wrong things come to mind.

The question is whether anybody outside of a small group of BP employees signed off on the changes made to the well as it was being completed. For example, I understand there was a change in the number of centralizers used to cement the final casing string (the "production casing" if you will). If the change in the number of centralizers deviated from procedures shown to the MMS and Anadarko, and neither signed off or were able to provide comments, then BP could be on the hook, if the lack of centralizers led to a poor cement job which in turn led to loss of control.

I don't guess they'll be inviting me to investigate this incident, but if I were in charge of an investigation, I would focus on their written procedures.

1) Did these procedures request waivers from existing regulations, internal BP engineering practice?
2) What was approved, and what deviations took place from the approved procedure?
3) How does the approved procedure deviate from accepted practice by other operators?
4) What was the training and certification for individuals who approved the procedure, and the deviations from the same?

I know a lot of people focus on the BOP testing and so on, but it's a little simpler than that, if you look at the big picture, the usual suspects are poor procedures, or deviations from the same, by personnel who shouldn't be making the call anyway.


bb -- Unwarranted risk? And there's the rub: one person's unwarranted is another person's OK. The old joke is true: ask 5 highly skilled engineers that question and you're certain to get 7 or 8 good answers. I have no way of knowing but I bet the insider's working opinions on the situation range from "OK" to "Hell no". That's not all that atypical in these situations.

"Highly skilled engineers" can't agree? Amazing! Just like judges, eh?

OCTS -- The investigators might not need to ask the right questions. Expect Anadarko to pull out all the stops to show that BP was criminally negligent. Right now Anadarko is on the hook for 25% of the entire cost of this nightmare. They're not nearly as big as BP. Their share could destroy the company. I'd bet my last half gallon of Blue Bell that Anadarko had the best consultants available in the world build their legal argument many weeks ago.

I'll bet you a hogshead of Blue Bell that BP and Anadarko settle out of court with a "confidentiality clause." Anadarko's early napalm strike was just a warning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPXVGQnJm0w

ask three physicists what electricity is prepare for at least 7 reasonable and equally indefensible answers.


Thanks for the answers Rockman. I forgot about the Anadarko involvement. That will get interesting.

I take it you didn't tell it to take 2 kill pills and call you in the morning ;)

Ducks flying rock hammer.


So are the rams closing as we speak? The flow looks a little less.

The q4000 and the helix are shutting down too, ironically the helix was up only for less than a day.

So if they decide to cancel this shut in, can they leave the rams closed and reduce the pressure by just having oil go out to the q4000 and helix or will they just open all the rams right away and bring the q4000 and helix on slowly?

Is there a risk of catastrophe with closing the rams and blowing out the casing?

Thanks for this post, HO.

ROVs whose operations are now available for monitoring

Just before the last thread closed, I responded to rovman's kindly making himself available for "monitoring" (i.e., our questioning about his job):

Thanks for the invitation, rovman. As you have time, I'd like to know . . .

1. What qualifications land someone a job as a ROV pilot-trainee? What are the must-have attributes for this work?

2. What does your training (lasting how long?) cover? How frequently refreshed?

3. Do y'all further specialize on the sub-chores or master all three and switch-off between them? What's the usual age-range of the profession (if any)?

4. Are m/any ROV pilots women? (Mrs. Lear herself once told me that their light touch on the controls makes women the best LearJet pilots. Any parallels to ROV-work there?)

5. If there's a classic "ROV-pilot personality," what is it? Beyond basic skills, can a veteran meet up with a noob and spot right away whether s/he has the right stuff (or do they just think they can)? [Why yes, this is 1(b) in sheep's clothing.]

6. Where is the ROV corps' place in the oil-patch pecking order (and is this summer raising it)?

7. What makes for a hard shift, and how long do you need to recover after one?

As I say, no rush on the answers, I'm just curious. Thanks again.

And, "I wanna drive one of those things". Or work the claws.

We cross-posted :)

See answers somewhere below...

BP (BP/ LN) to start integrity test on leaking Gulf of Mexico well late morning to midday on Tuesday - BP Executive

12:44 13-07-2010

I missed the part why BP can't produce the oil from the top during this testing phase.

So today we get the envelope to the $64,000 question ...... Will this hole hold pressure.

From previous thread- Lotus

1. What qualifications land someone a job as a ROV pilot-trainee? What are the must-have attributes for this work?

Various things. A technical background in either mechanics, hydraulics, electricals or electronics. Possibly military, such as aircraft technician. An engineering degree or several years experience in a related industry. The ability to think on your feet and be self-sufficient. A sense of humour. Infinite patience. A wife/partner/spouse who can accept you being away for extended periods then under her/his feet for extended periods. Not being prone to over indulgence in alcohol. Not being a substance abuser.

2. What does your training (lasting how long?) cover? How frequently refreshed?

That depends on your background and location, but several weeks basic training covering all aspects of how the various componenets of ROVs work, plus a week long offshore survival course. Pilot training is ongoing and on the job, and can last years. You work up from pilot tech through supervisor to superintendent. Survival training is refreshed every 3 years. Further training courses are provided by the specialist manufacturers of some of the components, e.g. the hydraulic manipulators, or the sonars etc.

3. Do y'all further specialize on the sub-chores or master all three and switch-off between them? What's the usual age-range of the profession (if any)?

All pilots attempt to master all trades. This allows crews to be mixed/moved easily. Jack-of-all-trades are prized. Age range is usually 20s to 50s. By the time pilots get to their 50s they have generally accumulated decent savings and start to find the offshore life tiring, so retirement gets appealing.

4. Are m/any ROV pilots women? (Mrs. Lear herself once told me that their light touch on the controls makes women the best LearJet pilots. Any parallels to ROV-work there?)

Very few. I have never met a female ROV pilot yet. The job is highly technical, dirty and potentially dangerous. Three aspects that would appear to put women off. having said that, there is absolutely no reason why a woman should not be an ROV pilot and an excellent one at that.

5. If there's a classic "ROV-pilot personality," what is it? Beyond basic skills, can a veteran meet up with a noob and spot right away whether s/he has the right stuff (or do they just think they can)? [Why yes, this is 1(b) in sheep's clothing.]

Yes. Three main components- an innate technical ability, the ability to switch between long periods of boredom and long periods of hard work easily, and a slightly crazy sense of humour that only us ROV types get.

6. Where is the ROV corps' place in the oil-patch pecking order (and is this summer raising it)?

Bottom-feeders. Possibly rising to 'plankton' level after this summer.

7. What makes for a hard shift, and how long do you need to recover after one?

16 hours at the sticks concentrating on a difficult but critical task with an unhappy Company Man looking over your shoulder. Recovery better happen before your next shift or you're stuffed! A beer would help, but most vessels and rigs are 'dry'.

I take it that you are interested in training to be a pilot? Is that the case?
I also take it you are female?

Rovman -

Read this many moons ago , the book about Tommy Thompson who found the SS Central American . Hell of a read , goes into great detail of the building of the ROV Nemo ......

Ship of Gold


Thanks for these thorough answers, rovman! Yes, I'm a woman but no, I wouldn't apply for training (no technical background whatsover, and I'm too old to do much about that now). I am very nosy, though, as you see, so really appreciate peeks into others' workdays. This was a fine one.

P.S. Nowadays, I doubt the "highly technical" puts many young women off, and given their participation in the military, "dirty and potentially dangerous" apparently don't either. Maybe stand by for some female Iraq/Afghanistan vets wandering in before long. Boo-yah!

Maybe it's not the job that puts the women off. Maybe its...



Maybe its...


I shan't surmise . . .


As a female that was in E&C for over 25 yrs. I can tell you as far as construction a lot of our females were ex-military, especially electrical and instrumentation and some of our equipment operators .. if you can drive earth moving equipment for the military you can sure do it in the civilian industries. If you are an instrument tech in the military you can get employed by any industrial construction company. However the highest number of females in crafts that I ever had on a job site (2500 crafts people) was 4% on a papermill addition to and existing pulp yard in 1984.

When I originally got in the industry if I had two other females on a project that were not secretaries it was unusual. So unusual that in 1979 when I went with Bechtel there were meetings at corporate level and with the client due to the fact I was going on to a project were the Scheduling Lead was female and this was going to be the first time they had two female schedulers on the same project. Sounds redicious now but that's how it was then. When I went with Cameron in 1996 there were no female department heads .. I called it doing the time warp. In late '97 when I went into Off-Shore & Sub-Sea, my last 7 years, I started having more females on projects, the Norwegians didn't seem to have a problem with it.

Overall females in engineering is still low but then so are Americans in engineering. I would probably put the % of females in E and/or C still below the 10% figure.

ded -

I have to respond to the Bechtel part of your comment. I was a scheduler with Bechtel Power Corp (BPC)in '73-'74, and the last job I had there was training two women to take over my job - they were going to be the first female schedulers at BPC. This was on a nuke project; I don't remember there being any female civil/mechanical/nuclear engineers on my project - scheduling was considered to be not quite real engineering, and thus OK to integrate women into.

So from zero women schedulers in 74 to 2 in '75 to 2 on the same project by '79: sounds like a typical rate of progress for Bechtel!

In the petro-chem group there were exactly 4 female schedulers, all of our first names started with M .. rather weird coincidence. Even with me having worked in a shipyard they were still hesitant to let me go into Construction scheduling .. but I went with Daniel Construction for a while .. when Betchel hunted me down in '88 and I came back to Houston they had no problem with me working both sides. But they fought all of us on going overseas .. and I was raised overseas .. army brat. And one of the other females had worked middle east with Parsons and she still couldn't get overseas assignments with Bechtel. Meet a couple female cost engineers out of BPC.

How much time do you spend on the simulator vs. operating a real ROV when training? We got to play on the simulator briefly when I visited Oceaneering in Morgan City with a team I was working on in 2002. It seemed pretty realistic to me.

Training is mostly classroom or online. Simulator is becoming a bigger part, and some systems have an offshore simulator for the crew to use in quiet time. Yes, they are really pretty realistic.

Are simulators available for the public to use, like the 747 flight simulators? I'd pay good money having a go at undoing a bolt in VR, or trying to cut a pipe while not attached to something. I've played enough computer games & read tonnes of SF to know that piloting an ROV has gotta be hard work, sounds like great fun!

Perhaps someone could make big $$$ designing an ROV simulator game for Wii -- the next generation of operators could train themselves, have some fun, and get a better appreciation of the skills involved.

And, sounds like "ROV operator" would make a great episode for Discovery channel's Dirty Jobs. Along with many other jobs associated with this mess (like "BP defense lawyer"--think of all the muck they'll have to wallow in, wearing shiny shoes).

Somehow I thought I had read that the ROVs involved with the current emergency were remotely piloted from Houston. Is that true? If not, how do the pilots coordinate with each other when they are located on six different ships?

The ROVs are coordinated from Houston, but piloted from on board each vessel.
Think of it as like air traffic control and a military command centre combined. Each ROV is monitored and assigned tasks by the control centre in Houston.

Yes. Three main components- an innate technical ability, the ability to switch between long periods of boredom and long periods of hard work easily, and a slightly crazy sense of humour that only us ROV types get.

Sounds exactly like a completely different class of engineering that I did a lot of years at.

My question, would the jocks have gone to Cameron to get familiar with the stack before the fitting operation?


I don't really know, but I'd say probably not. The guys planning the operation will have, but the pilots most likely won't.

Thanks rovman.

Some more questions, in part triggered by your answers.

- how long is the typical shift? I thought 12 hrs, but you mentioned 16 hrs down thread. We've seen some of the rovs working intensely for quite a while - can an operator still take breaks in the midst of a period like that? (obviously not at a critical moment.)

- do the operators perform some of the on-deck rov maintenance we've seen glimpses of? is that why the work is "dirty and potentially dangerous"?

- survival training? such as how to evacuate from the drilling area?

- nicotine and caffeine combo? smoking is allowed on boats? or just chewing tobacco?

I'm surprised the pilots are so low in the pecking order. A lot of us folks watching the live feeds sure have a higher opinion of them than that.

Typical shift is 12 hours. It can be extended up to 16 hours if necessary. Dispensation can be given to extend even longer. I once did 30 hours but I suspect some rules were broken. If I hadn't been so green at the time I'd have told them to stuff it.

Pilots do get breaks. A crew is normally 3 guys, at least two of which can pilot reasonably well, so they can swap out.

There is a good deal of maintenance. ROVs are complex, contain lots of electronics, high voltages and high pressure hydraulics. They have to withstand extreme pressures and a corrosive, wet environment. These things don't mix well, so there is lots of maintenance to do to keep them running. What you are seeing glimpses of is the ROV returning to deck for maintenance or tool changes, and then deck checks before relaunch.

The work is dirty because of the maintenance, yes. It is potentially dangerous because you are working with machinery, and also because you are offshore on a vessel or rig with the potential for disaster due to the presence of explosive gases. You go to work in a helicopter, with a small but significant chance of crashing into the sea.

Survival training consists of fire fighting, first aid, emergency evacuation to life rafts, and escaping from a helicopter simulator under water.

Smoking is allowed in the Smoking Recreation Room and the Smoking Tea Shack only. Strictly forbidden elsewhere.

I'm kidding slightly about the pecking order, but ROV crews are often seen as being responsible for the overly complex fragile piece of water-hating crap that is the ROV which is holding up something important due to being broken again. The truth is it's a high tech marvel without which there would be no chance of getting oil from waters deeper than about 200m :)

Got to go for the day, probably see you tomorrow ;)

the overly complex fragile piece of water-hating crap that is the ROV which is holding up something important due to being broken again.

Had to laugh at that one!

My Dad started diving in the late 50s. I remember when the first ROVs were used and his stories about divers being sent to find/rescue the ROVs.

"never eat dry rice krispies at 750 ft"
Fred Miller

What are the service schedules for ROVs? i.e. after how many dive hours does a manufacturer recommend service/part replacement?

Is there a maximum number of dives/dive hours before a ROV needs a complete overhaul or to be replaced? (Just wondering if BP will be liable for overhaul/replacement of ROVs due to this extended working situation)

What is a 'normal' shift for a pilot? In a case like this where some of the ROVs are down for extended periods of time, how many teams of pilots will be flying one ROV?

What would the average number of dives/dive hours be for a non-emergency situation? (i.e. 1 or 2 dives per day, each lasting 8 hours?)

Thanks for letting us pick your brain!

Quick answers, I gotta go.

Service schedules vary hugely. All depends on the part, and amount of use. How long is a piece of string?!

Max dive hours? No, all depends on wear and tear.

Normal shift is 12 hours. For each ROV there will be two shifts of three crew each on the vessel, and a further two crews of six ashore on leave, so total 12 crew.

Dives/dive hours vary enormously. Some ROV jobs mean the ROV rarely gets wet, other jobs mean it is under water as much as possible.

Gotta go!

"Gotta go!"

Yeah me too, the galley just openned up!

No blue bell, but steak day is today!

rov left out the most important aspect: potty breaks. Or, as some newbie asked me long ago: "Why is the cook saving all those empty coffee cans?"

And for heavan's sake don't forget the lid.

A few weeks ago I took an old friend to a local airshow of WWII planes. He had served as a navigator/bombardier on B24s stationed in England, so I had the opportunity to ask him as many questions as I've asked here.

Learning that many of the missions involved flight time of eight hours or so, and having now walked through the absolutely primitive interior of a B24, I asked about how they dealt with that issue. His response - "we stood up, moved over to the landing gear wheel well and let loose. It would often freeze as soon as it hit the wheel." Of course that sometimes resulted in other later challenges ... occasionally the pilot would have to come in for a landing on one wheel, bouncing a couple of times to shake loose the other wheel.

I was so struck by -
- how flimsy those planes seemed
- how cold it must have been up in them... the crew wore electric suits, shoes and gloves, which sometimes shorted out.
- just how many rivets it takes to hold one of them together. No wonder there were posters of Rosie the Riveter.

Oh right! Let the peeing in a Coke bottle thread begin!

yes syn...I'm still bored.

RM~I'm bored too, but the peeing in a coke bottle is so unfair since women can't (well not without alot of practice anyway) pee in a bottle...guess that's why that astronaut that drove from FL-TX wore a diaper.

Can tell you using a construction site port-a-can in the afternoon in the middle of summer in the gulf south will teach you how to get in and out of clothes and do your business in 10 seconds flat.

ded: Now thats funny, right there! You gals can do anything, if you put your mind to it! Heh! Heh! It,s a hell of a thing, those porta-potties, ain't it? I always tried to do artwork in there with a sharpie pen......but.... thats just me!

16 hours at the sticks concentrating on a difficult but critical task with an unhappy Company Man looking over your shoulder.

I'm on the production commissioning side so most of my time offshore is waiting for ROV's to complete certain tasks. :) In my experience, there are usually a lot of people waiting on the ROV to finish so other things can move forward. At the end of our tasks, production starts. So delays due to ROV availability or skill are expensive and visible. But if everything happens promptly, the ROV moves on like the rest of us with little notice.

ROV's make deepwater production possible.

Posted earlier: There is an awful lot of oil mixed with an awful lot of seawater and spread over an awfully big area. Something has to be done about that.

The tried and trusted method is ... TIME.

Nature in the form of waves, wind, bugs, weather, sunlight will clear up the mess fairly quickly.

Do you know of any coasts which have been permanently blighted by oil slicks etc?

Take a look at the English Channel ... for centuries muck has been dumped into that narrow corridor ... and we can still use the beaches.

Do you know of any coasts which have been permanently blighted by oil slicks etc?

Well, Prince William Sound...and the ecosystem effects there are permanent: Prince William Sound orcas doomed by Exxon oil spill

Gulf sperm whales are in pretty much the same situation.

Hmm ... I'm not too sure what to think.

The orca were very badly affected ... BUT ... it was a very small group.

So you can say:
"The oil spill wiped out the killer whales."
"The oil spill killed a handful of killer whales."

How about the area? Are things still dying? Are the locals still wading in oil?
Could you tell that there had been an oil spill there?

I haven't see recent photos ... but I bet it all looks pretty and not like a disaster area.

Alas, no, MM.

This photo accompanies a Mudflats post someone here linked just the other day. It was taken this July 4 on Prince William Sound's "Diesel Beach."

... We have half an hour left on this beach. I walk around in a daze, digging little test holes, squishing through the oily mud and watching my footprints turn into rainbow covered pools. There are small mussels, and seaweed all living here on top of this thin veneer – this fragile skin on the surface of this disaster that bleeds with a footprint. I take a few short videos, and forget what I’ve said by the time I’m done. It’s hard to speak, and I keep my voice low. It seems fitting to be gentle with this victim – at this crime scene – at this never-ending funeral. ...

Talk about fouling your nest.
According to some here, this is the "price" we have to pay for "comfort".
Unbelievable that folks intelligent enough to spell their own names hold this view.

Meta -

The Human Relationship with Nature that people across generations experience psychologically something quite similar to the children in Houston, that people construct a conception of what is environmentally normal based on the natural world encountered in childhood. The crux is that with each ensuing generation, the amount of environmental degradation can increase, but each generation tends to take that degraded condition as the non-degraded condition, as the normal experience. That's what I'm calling the problem of environmental generational amnesia.


Two decades after the Exxon Valdez spilled almost 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, the herring still have not come back.


Besides which, as the decades pass people forget what it used to be like. I found a study on the web which I posted some time back. They interviewed young fishermen and their fathers and grandfathers. Turns out the young fishermen have no real grasp of the riches that their fathers and grandfathers were able to access.

There is research being done on whaling. They are going back through the early records when it was just man and spear, none of the fancy stuff. They are saying that talking about the recovery of the whale population as doubling sounds good but when that recovery is looked upon as going from 1% to 2% of the original population it does not sound good at all. Couple that with new data on whales' lifetimes, from dating old harpoon heads found in recently caught whales, it gets a lot worse (they are putting some species lifetimes at over 200 years).


About 5 minutes into this TED talk by coral reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson, How did we wreck the ocean? there are revealing photos comparing trophy fish caught off Key West in the '50s compared to what is considered "trophy" now.

rainyday, I'm 62 now; my parents started taking me to Destin before I was one, and until I was in high school, our family spent two weeks of every June there. Back then, the biggest thing in the village was Capt. Dave Marler's two-boat fishing "fleet" (one was the Florida Girl, and the other's name I forget). Every afternoon, the Marler boats returned from the day's fishing and docked right below Seaview Cottages. You couldn't see their decks for the curtains of grouper and red snapper somewhat longer and way heavier than my little brother and I. We'd buy our supper-fixings fresh off the boat.

The last grouper I saw for sale in Destin (a few years ago) looked like those big boys' and girls' fry.

It's not only the ocean that's wrecked. I was in Silver Springs Florida last week. It's one of the largest fresh water springs in the world, I think. When I was there in the 80's, it was beautiful. With white sand colored bottoms, crystal clear waters. Absolutely breath taking. One of the most spectacular places I had ever visited. Last week we took the glass bottomed boat ride in the park. Nearly everything is now thickly covered in alge. The white sand, the eel grass, the springs all brownish-green. Sicking to me. I had to leave the park. The guide said that things had really gotten bad in the last 4 years. (Caused by nitrate fertilizer runoff is the theory, but the true source is unknown.)

The true source is unknown?

Bull. I'm sure mega-developments like the Villages and their 18 golf courses have nothing to do with it.

and I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay, at a time when you could stretch out on a short pier, lower a string with some bait into the water, and net up blue crabs to steam for dinner.

Judging by the pictures of the blue crabs on the walls of Phillip's, compared to what gets served, I'd say they were a lot bigger back then too!

And in the air, the pictures of flocks of passenger pigeons are so much larger than any flocks of passenger pigeons we see today.

And on land, we have some 80 year old farm buildings on our property. They were built on large timbers (about 10" by 10") laid directly on the ground. They are damaged for sure but still there because they are from old growth heart pine. Some people say there are more trees in the US now than when white man first arrived (who counted them then) but whatever the numbers, no scrub pine that is growing now compares to what the trees these timbers were made from must have been.

How quickly we forget what was. See the death scene in the movie Soylent Green scene "Sol goes home" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7U4EQXFMBE "how could I have ever imagined it?"

I read what I wrote to my husband. We are in Alabama. He added that his grandmother used to tell of robin migrations when she was young so full they blotted out the sun. They would come in on bottom lands to feed on their way north. They used to easily shoot them out of the sky and make robin breast pie. Robins.... We still get spring migrations, maybe 50 at a time....

Ah, that's how we achieved Destin lunches. (My mammy's deviled-crab recipe still draws applause.) Dang, I loved those two weeks every summer.

rellio and DYEW, whatever killed Silver Springs (prolly The Villages, yep) is an unholy shame. (So is what's come of Destin.) Gawd, sometimes it's really hard to own up to being a Floridian.

Before I moved to Florida I vacationed in Destin for 20+ yrs and watched the growth run completely unchecked and it's so different now it's sad to me. I used to wait until after midnight to get groceries when we were there because of the traffic and crowding issues, I could never live there and was pleasantly surprised that Pensacola Beach had only one little traffic light and a school, and you don't have to lock your door or take the keys out of your car-sometimes too much growth is not the best thing.

EPU'd; Reposting

Nalco VP Dr. David Horsup demonstrating the effects of Corexit on oil in circulating water:

Compare the mixture in Horsup's beaker to the underwater plumes documented by Philippe Cousteau:

Here's the only video I could find of A Whale in action. I think this, plus your two videos showing what Corexit does combine to show why A Whale has no chance to clean up this spill. It is below the surface just like in the beaker. A Whale would literally have to sink 25 feet into the ocean to have a chance. Good ideas, poorly executed, mutually exclusive.


BP (BP/ LN) says things went extremely well with install of cap on well, and currently running seismic tests over well

13:39 13-07-2010
- Later will run integrity on well to see how strong it is.
- helix producer is producing up to 12,500 BPD.
- When BP does shut in tests with cap, Helix producer will go down.

The way I read it now, there won't be 100% shut-in, but rather gradual flow restriction and pressure measurement.

What seismic tests? Seafloor nodes? Is the test just the background noise level?

Good question, and one I'd like answered but the "journalists" neglected to inquire. It's possible that the cracks-in-the-sea-floor question could have been addressed. But it wasn't.

So, we have an unexplained delay. And a big question left in the dust by hobbled minds.

Hos ROV 2 is (was)monitoring a 0 - 10,000 psi gauge. It currently reads about 300 psi. I'm wondering if that is the internal pressure below the new valve stack. If it is, the pressure should slowly increase today as they attempt the shut-in.

There is also a cable connection nearby so there may also be a pressure transmitter connected to the surface.

That ROV has been monitoring that gage even prior to the new cap installation with same rdg. I wonder if gage could simply have a "zero offset".

The gauge is reading 0 psi, you're seeing a parallax error caused by the point of view of the camera. Right now I can compare ROV1 & ROV2 and see that ROV1 has a more perpendicular view and reads zero.

I think they are two different gauges, one has a light reflecting on it now and if you look at that screw on the casing the slot is pointing a different way. I can't figure out any camera angle that would do that. But heck I have been wrong before.

I think it's two different gauges. I've read enough gauges from all angles to know that the ROV 2 gauge is not on zero. It's about 300 psi.

These gauges are for the Helix connection pressures. The one reading "300" should be down to "0" (or really close to that) when they start the testing with the new capping stack as the flow to the Helix is going to be shut in, first, before the testing can start.

Love the 'Choke' control close instructions now showing on Skandi ROV1 :-)

Propublica published this yesterday: BP Getting Daily Exemptions to Directive Limiting Surface Dispersant (http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/bp-getting-daily-exemptions-directiv...), which includes a link to the exemption request letters:

There's an interesting doc online at https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://cryptome.org/oil-spill-safety.... titled MC252 Oil Spill Response, New Orleans Safety Items.

Focused on Safety like a laser as Tony would say. LOL

How long would that take to burn through, then?

Americane Crane operator how do you know your load lift limit.

If my rear tires come off the ground it is to heavy.

Heck! Thats when you take an old 966 Cat loader with a full bucket of dirt and choke it to the front end of the truck crane. Seen that done a couple times! back in the day. No kidding.

two tech suggestions from a construction workers perspective for rov developers. possibly a magnetic stabilizer on an arm, like a magnetic drill base on an arm , and laser binocular
. these guys do a terrific job , but i can see where depth perception and stability are a challenge.

Like a mag drill? Very handy tool up here on land.

This should be good:

US Coast Guard says BP (BP/ LN) should be able to contain flow from Macondo well by mid-July regardless of well tests

23:10 13-07-2010

Oh good, 2 days and it is all over.

If there are *any* decent reporters around, the news conference could be entertaining.

BP can contain spill regardless of well test-Allen
13 Jul 2010 15:21:40 GMT
Source: Reuters

HOUSTON, July 13 (Reuters) - BP Plc will start a key series of tests on its blown-out Macondo well on Tuesday afternoon to determine if it can seal the runaway well completely, the top U.S. official overseeing the oil spill cleanup said.

BP should eventually be able to contain flow from the well with oil-siphoning vessels by mid-July if efforts to seal the well with the containment device fail, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters at a briefing at BP's U.S. headquarters in Houston.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays and Alyson Zepeda; Editing by Paul Simao)

Oh, well. More mushroom food.

One thing i see now... that new top hat below Enterprise is fitted with a hydraulic coupling that I presume fits onto the coupling atop the new BOP. So, that wasn't down there as a backup in case they couldn't complete the job. It is intended as a 'permanent" leak proof connection for Enterprise until the well can be killed..

I'd bet they could stop it at any time by mixing up Dr Chu's Magic Mud (53 BBL depleted uranium and 410 BBL Corexit) and injecting it into the kill line.

Sit back and have some Blue Bell while the mixture sinks and the oil & gas rise, just like in a Lava Lamp, and the resultant mixture acts as a fluidized bed to create a downhole pressure of 14 ppg.

Dr Chu has plenty of depleted uranium (apparently 480,000 tonnes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium ) in DOE stocks and he is the Big Kahuna of the DOE. Two days should be a piece of cake!!!

I was wondering if they might consider killing it if the pressure tests go well and the flow can be stopped. Really, it wouldn't take an exotic mud to kill it with the well shut in. All they would need to do is start introducing rather ordinary mud at a slow enough rate that pressures did not rise excessively if they do not have to fight a flow. We shall see what happens.

Cement it directly in that case, I guess.

One unfortunate thing is I hope they were going to measure the flow.

Were they able to do that just from measurements inside the new stack? Or do they have to capture all of it to know how much it is?

Clearly one of BPs main goals is to shut the well without ever getting an accurate measurement of the actual unrestricted flow rate.

It looks like the administration is going to let them get away with that.

I am sure that is right.Get real.

There's no need to measure the actual unrestricted flow rate to estimate it, if they have accurate measurement of the restricted rate, and take the information to estimate what the unrestricted rate would be. This is a fairly simple matter. What's not so simple is to estimate how the well's productive capacity has evolved over time. Arguments can be made to say:

1. It was low at first and it increased gradually, reaching its maximum capacity today
2. It was always a certain value, and it has remained steady
3. It was higher before, and it has dropped over time
4. It was low, it increased to a peak rate, and dropped thereafter.

I know this sounds really vague, but that's the way nature is.

Based on the size of the surface fire compared to other flares I've seen, I suspect this was by far the highest flow rate. Note that this was also the lowest outlet pressure.

Then the riser fell over. The outlet is now under 5000 ft of water and the riser is kinked.

Then the ROV's tried to manipulate the BOP. Were they able to move anything to restrict the flow? This is probably the minimum flow point to date.

I don't think the top kill or junk shot had much effect but possibly. Internal BOP pressure readings during and since this phase would be helpful. During this interval, internal erosion is likely increasing flow.

Taking flow from the choke/kill lines may have little impact on the flow to the GoM since they come from below the choke point in the BOP.

The riser is cut off and cap #4 is installed. Now the new 3-ram stack is installed. This should allow restricting flow with the new choke and the production vessels.

Yesterday a ROV put some sort of instrument against the side of new spool an a couple of places for a while and then stuck it down inside the throat in the flow for a couple of minutes.

The only way to accurately measure the flow is to put it into containers of a known size; e.g., the storage on the drill/production vessels now hooked up. I guess BR and the Admiral have collectively decided to keep the spill flow rate vague ... back to 'he said, she said' ... but then how do calculate the fine?

but then how do calculate the fine?

The fine will be negotiated or a prolong court battle.. Adminstration change. BP can easily outlast any particular administration.. The new one would be able to give a hefty fine (a couple Billions) and call it a day.. There is some problem of imposing a big penalty. It will kill GOM drilling faster than any moritarium that government can impose. Regardless of how well the drill plan is sturctured or how good the excution and decision by the drill crew, there is always going to be a possibility of having a blow out. And if company see that drilling in GOM is a bet your company type of risk, no one is going to do anything until there is a way to share the risk and the price of oil has to be high enuogh to pay for the additional "insurance premium"..

If the well can be shut-in by the 3-ram stack, with the oil recovery (production) shut-in, a SITP (shut in tubing pressure) can be measured. Flow the well at, say, 2000 bbl/day and record the FTP (flowing tubing pressure). Calculate the PI (Productivity Index, which is bbl/day per PSI drawdown). Now calculate the flow based on the SITP minus FTP (the wildwell FTP would be the seawater head at the sea floor) times the PI. You have the flow rate.

Adm. Allen said several days ago that they intended to measure the flow rate by measuring the pressure in the stack.

You have the flow rate

Understand that once we have all the oil/ng cap in, we will know the flow rate. But the fine is based on the hydrocarbon escape in the last 80+ days.. Those number will never stand up in court since no one has any scientific proof.. So we will end up with a negotiated settlement.. If this adminstration is not interested or BP does not like the price, they will just drag on until no one care..

I thought Animal Fat said that the transition piece contained a flow meter and they were measuring the unconstrained flow.

That's what I thought they would have done as well - have the new piping instrumented so that they can read the flow. It ought to be comparatively easy to measure the flow within a sealed pipe (compared to once the oil is mixing with seawater). One question is whether they ever operated with unconstrained flow and no extraction to Q4000 and Helix Producer.

TOD member hero Simmons must be waiting nervously hoping for a well integrity failure. Five weeks ago he said BP would file for bankruptcy in a month. July BP options are up over 500% in a few weeks (APC double that). Always nice to be a contrarian to the doomsdayers :)(especially when trying to pay for kids college)
Well, perhaps the only reason BP is trying to shut-in the well is that they know the real leak is 6 miles away and hiding in the vast sea of back oil. Now that the $200 per barrel bet looks to be lost Simmons is claiming that oil will be $100 /BBL soon! Wow. How bold.

Watching some of the panel testimony today reveals the obvious: the whole thing is about as useful as congressional hearings. All political show--at least so far. Only hearing that has been at all useful is the one by the marine board.

Anybody know if A Whale has been skimming the last several calm days? If so, how come the NOAA maps and photos still show an oil slick? And what about Roger's skimmers?

I haven't heard anything about A Whale lately, but yesterday I got curious looked for its position and saw it was skimming slowly a few miles away from the pack.

Edit: Here is A Whale's current position...


This is not a response to any of the above but just a note of thanks to the technical people on here who have been able to cast light on what has been going on.

On a slightly flippant note I wonder when Hollywood is going to do a movie on all this: evil Brits, heroic Americans - just perfect!

Thanks again

More likely the first will be a Michael Moore film. You know the guy who gets rich blasting anything capitalistic.

Michael Moore? Too dull.

I'm thinking Mel Gibson; Houston we have an oil slick etc etc. Too much material, too many angles. The only people impossible to parody would be the politicians.

Should BP just suck up and sell as much as oil as possible and slow down the relief well?

Should BP now have an advertising campaign in the US: "Buy from us - it's all in a good cause?

hmm.. Mel Gibson is more toxic than BP atm

I like Mel Gibson, his acting is so so, but the action is good. And the movies he directed, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalipto, were REALLY good. Why is he toxic?

However, I bet one of the networks is working on a made for TV disaster movie, with the typical 200 person cast, including the rough-tough roughneck who dresses in cut off jeans, fist fights on the rig floor, drunk chopper pilots, and the star banging on Hayward's desk demanding the wells be pumped full of cement because the phalanges in the blow out preventers are made in China.

fd -- you left out the geologist sitting in the back of the galley cradling the last surviving half gallon of Blue Bell...the horror...the horror.

Sorry. And of course we should have man's best friend, the geologist, eating a cone of Blue Bell ice cream as he runs through the burning quarters building holding the cute drilling engineer chick who also happens to be Tony Hayward's safety conscious daughter over his shoulders.

fd -- And lets hope for her sake he can carry both her and the BBIC. A man gotta do what a man gotta do.

Went and did I little research on Gibson. I take it he tangled with Hollywood big wigs when he made the Passion of the Christ, the Hollywood big wigs thought it was anti-jewish, and there's been bad blood ever since. Gibson doesn't help matters behaving this way, that's for sure. But I did like the Passion of the Christ, and I don't like the way they tried to censor the movie. That stuff is supposed to have happened 2000 years ago, so what's the big deal? The movie was a masterpiece.

Or it was one-dimensional borderline torture porn. Mel does drama, but he doesn't do subtlety.

Never saw the movie. I read the book and, the movie is usually never as good as the book.

One of the reasons why (Jewish) people were upset was that Mel Gibson's Catholic version of the story is deemed factually incorrect by biblical historians (even Christian historians.)

According to the historians, Pontius Pilate crucified over 10,000 Jews and was eventually called back to Rome in shame because of his excessive cruelty to the citizens of Ancient Judea (then occupied by Romans.)

The studio big-wigs were concerned that the film had an agenda that would engender unjustified anti-Jewish sentiment. I dunno if it ever did. (I never saw the movie cuz I hate seeing gratuitous violence.)

I really don't want to start a religious argument, but I don't think there's a "factually correct" version of the story. All we have is text written down after the fact, edited to suit the winning side's version. Mel Gibson's version of the story is the one I was taught when I was little. BUT I'm not saying what I was taught was the absolute real version. On the artistic side, i found the movie to be a masterpiece, the story itself is of course very moving.

You know, when Jesus Christ Superstar came out, they didn't make this ruckus - I guess because that was a musical made in London?

Regarding the movie The Passion of the Christ itself, and focusing on its quality, I found Mary to be the central character, and I ssw this more as the story about the suffering of mothers when their sons are killed. And I guess people can't relate to it unless they've seen a mother who lost her son break down in front of you.

The photography was outstanding, and it was a very serious effort. I also understand the women in the story were Jewish, and THEY didn't think it was an anti Jewish story.

It seems to me there's a tendency to be a litttle too Politically Correct in Hollywood, unless of course it happens to be a movie making us in the oil industry into real evil doers, in which we, of course, aren't really human, we're brawling drunks who like to pollute and kill anything that moves, and don't have to bring a paycheck home to feed the family and the dogs because all of us are rich anyway.

Sorry I got off on this, this is a tangential story, I already started a subthread when I brought up our soldiers fighting and dying abroad, and I don't want to start a debate about the details of the crucifixion, and who asked for Jesus to be crucified, etc.

Why is he toxic?

Gibson's legal and career problems mounting.

The Sheriff's Department is investigating Gibson for 3 alleged crimes -- domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and child endangerment. He's been dropped by his agent.

Read more: Sheriff's office wants the tapes.

Dr. Shaw offered a stark analysis of Corexit 9500 in her piece for The New York Times.

"Though all dispersants are potentially dangerous when applied in such volumes, Corexit [9500] is particularly toxic," she wrote. "It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells and causes internal bleeding. It is also bioaccumulative, meaning its concentration intensifies as it moves up the food chain."


Should make a good movie.

"Corexit [9500] is particularly toxic," she wrote. "It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells"

But did you realize that seawater contains sodium chloride, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, prostration or death?

But it depends on dose. Likewise with corexit.

Without an indication of the toxic or lethal dose and information on the amounts folks are likely to ingest, the human hazard posed by the use of Corexit is impossible to assess. However grizzly the worst case, the actual danger may be slight indeed.

I've also been monitorning the marinetraffic site. A-Whale has been out there daily since the 4th of July weekend, however the USCG says the effectiveness was inconclusive due to the six foot high seas.

The two others I have been monitoring in the last few days is the Ella G (the Costner centrifuge equipped barge, renamed), which is working in tandem with C-Rover. I saw Ella G noted in the vessel names there in the last couple of days, and today I see the C Rover. They are also working the perimeter around the Development Driller location.

A Whale has been running skimming tracks at skimming speeds pretty much the whole time and has probably swallowed the whole Gulf of Mexico, so I don't know where you get this stuff about there still being an oil slick. Seacor Washington with Roger's skimmers headed for port yesterday and is still there. It's performance is a secret closely guarded by the media, because the important story is the Jones Act.

No info on the A Whale, but I'm on the bloomberg at work and it shows investors covering their short positions, the number of shares that were sold short fell to 15 billion from 26 billion in the first 2 weeks of the month. They rebounded 38% from the low on June 14th, and up 25% from the beginning of July......I did notice that yesterday at one point it was up ~$3 per share on the ADR's

So I was happy to see the new cap installed without what I was expecting (another possible clusterfruk), and am anxiously waiting the test that are going to show the pressure readings. I THINK I have this straight, if they pressure reading is too low that would possibly indicate the well is leaking at other places and if it's too high that means it can't handle the extreme pressure???? Sorry it's so jumbled, I'm trading bonds, on the phone and trying to read here.

mummsie- No offense, but maybe stop multi-tasking. Eh? TOD will still be here, I bet. Heh! Heh!

GW~none taken, and how I wish I could stop my multi-tasking, but that's what happens when you're ADD (although for my job it's almost necessary to do about a dozens things at once). I just got used to being able to leisurely read and respond at TOD without everything else and I miss it:)

My understanding is that too low does indicate a leak. During his morning briefing, Allen said that they are looking for something between 8-9,000 psi, the estimated pressure coming up through the old BOP.

They are anticipating one of three possible scenarios.
- If they see something a lot lower than that, say 3-4,000 psi, they would continue testing for a six hour period. If it is still that low after six hours, they will start opening up valves and collecting again.
- If the pressure is somewhere in the middle, they will continue testing for 24 hrs. If the pressure has not increased at the end of the 24 hrs, they will resume collecting.
- If the pressure is in the hoped-for range - 8-9,000 psi - they will test for 48 hrs to determine if that pressure will hold, and, presumably at that point, determine if they can just leave the well closed in.

No mention of higher pressure - I assume they think the lower BOP is stable enough that it won't suddenly allow more than 8-9,000 psi through.

Thanks Rainy~I missed the briefing, so 8-9000 psi is optimal. Curious about no mention of higher pressures though, I'd think an high pressure reading would also be worrisome because it might compromise the stability of the well (but again that's just me ass-uming which is dangerous since I am a noobe)

I think the logic is something like this:

They know the reservoir pressure, the height of the well column, and the density of the oil. If they manage to stop the flow completely then the pressure at the top will be pressure of the reservoir - pressure drop over the height of the well. Presumably this is about 8000-9000 psi.

I haven't dug up the real pressure numbers, but if reservoir pressure were 13000 psi, the well column were 13000', and the oil had a density of 6.9ppg then the pressure at the well head ought to be 13000 psi - 0.052(psi/ft/ppg) * 13000 ft * 6.9 ppg = 8400 psi.

Any lower pressure than expected means there's flow in the well -- because any time you have flowing liquid in a pipe you lose pressure -- which means there's a leak (bad). But there's really no way to get higher pressure than expected unless you're off on the reservoir pressure or the density of the oil.

lurker -- BP actually ran a wire line pressure guage (MDT) that gives a fairly accurate read. Showed about 11,900 psi or 12.6 ppg equivalent. But your numbers should be pretty close anyway.

Thanks, Rockman. I had seen the numbers earlier but was too lazy to look for them, so I figured I'd make some up which were close to what I remembered and put on a disclaimer to cover my rear :).

I hate to sound like a broken record, but you guys are thinking static, and this well has produced a few million barrels (?). This means there's a transient way out in the reservoir, and there may be selective depletion - some sands may be depleted, some not. I asked if anybody has a log so I could eyeball it and get a better sense for it, but there could be small stringers depleted to almost flowing bottom hole pressure, because they'll be very discontinuous. If this is going to be a 48 hour shut in, they could get cross flow as well. I've seen lots of crossflow in my career (I'm used to working with thick comingled pay overseas), and I've even seen the crossflow in water injectors when we dropped TV cameras to see what was going on.

So this means the pressure readings may not be the full answer. In a case such as this, they need to LISTEN, and I would have very sensitive mikes listening to the well, sitting in the relief well. But then, I assume the BP team has a lot of people smarter than me, so they thought of it and they're doing it.

Sounds reasonable to me. That's what I was thinking when I posted a couple days ago.

Actually, I think well integrity failure is at least in the realm of possible. But well integrity failure cannot rescue Simmons. He needs a 60K psi methane bubble that wipes out New Orleans and Beijing, together with an underwater fire and proof that the BOP is in Burbank.

Ha. And Lake Simmons.

Coast Guard: Just Finished Seismic Run On BP (BP/ LN) Well

16:56 13-07-2010

It'd be nice to know what the results were. For example, is there an indication of oil leaking from the sea floor, Y/N?

I'm thinking along the same line as you. I know I am a doomsday theorist but WHAT happens if this doesn't work? We all know there is compromise downline in the well. What if this breaks it open? If there is a hell we may just find it. Hoping for a miracle. If I believed in such a thing.

They just finished the seismic tests that should have given them some indication about oil leaks. No news yet, of course. Up till now there's been zero evidence that the sea floor is cracked and leaking, however.

You do not think those are just the base line test before shutin?

Could be baseline tests, could have indicated something unexpected or unhoped for or nothing, who knows? Not us mushrooms.

Question is: what are they measuring?

Active source? doubt it because there's too many surface vessels out there. Though possible to measure surface waves into nodes.

Microseismic? Then they'd be measuring noise background I guess.

You know, maybe the dinosaur extinction was caused by a meteorite hitting earth, causing a crater, and also breaching a giant oil and gas reservoir, say something the size of Ghawar. If this led to a huge rise in methane in the atmosphere, and poisoned the oceans, it could have killed some animals selectively.

After the recent run up, I think I'd want to be at least hedged before the pressure test starts. That explanation isn't as fun as something mysterious and spooky, however.

Is it possible to convert the relief well(s) into production wells? Can production casing be added at this depth?

Billy -- yes...a possibility for the second RW. I don't think the first RW has much potential though: I think the csg is set to close to the WW. But they might be able to sidetrack out of it up shallow and steer clear of thw WW.

I think that is actually the plan Rockman. :)

About the second RW, could you explain why it is not being used now? Why are we waiting on RW 1? Thank you for the wonderful work y'all do. I am in west Florida and have referred other Gulf Coasters to your blog to get informed.

I am pretty confident that BP has this under control, just as the current technological successes point out the gross negligence that allowed the blowout to occur in the first place....

Agreed 100%

Snake: I am with you on that.

In 1979-80, I was a foreign currency trader (Deutsch Mark desk) at CitiBank NYC. At the time, the former Shah of Iran was rumored to be dying. I cannot tell you how often we started trading frenetically, simply on rumors of the Shah's death that turned out to be false!

Our motto became; "We trade on any news - or no news!"

I can imagine that is happening right now for BP news (or no news.)

That is so true, sometimes it's all perception of what "could be" happening rather than what is really happening. I used to trade stocks but moved to bonds, mainly agencies, CMO's, MBS', ARMs etc., but watch the stocks and I bet the traders and the poor soul on the floor has aged 10 yrs and probably goes out and gets slap azz drunk after work.

On a previous version of this thread there was an opinion posted, stating that the shut-in pressure test would generate "the same pressure" as the future RW mud fill, so why not try it now?

I thought about this for a while and it seems clearly not to be the case.

Heavy mud fill column would have the pressure equal to the reservoir pressure at the bottom, which is 11,900 psi, if memory serves. At the BOP, however, this column would have a near zero gauge pressure (or 2,200 psi), if they chose the mud ideally.

An oil filled column (shut-in pressure test) whould have an identical pressure at the reservoir end (11,900 psi), but due to the lower density of oil, would have a high residual pressure on the BOP end (maybe something like 8,000-8,500 psi, or 5,800-6,300 psig).

If the damaged zone is fairly high in the well, as seems to have been reported during the aborted "top kill" effort, the pressure of the shut-in test would expose this area to much higher risk.

This seems like a pretty big difference and the questions remain whey they are taking a big risk this late in the game.

so why not try it now?

I think they are using the information to formulate the mud weight.. In today's briefing. Adm Allen did talk about the reason behind closing the cap and do the measurement. he did not address the risk of fracturing rock formation.. But one of the reason he cited is to help gather information for the relieved well...


==so why not try it now?==

It seems self-evident - high pressure in the upper well section and BOP=risk of upper well section/BOP failure. They stopped their "top kill" effort abruptly over similar concerns.

Been thinking about that Dimitry. With a reservoir pressure of 11,900 psi it would take a mud column of 18,000' at 12.6 ppg mud to control. But w/o the riser they have only a 13,000' potential column in the csg. It will take a 14.2 ppg MW to balance that 11,900 psi. Actually 11,900 psi - 2,300 psi (the 5,000' water column pressure). The pore pressure plot BP released estimated the frac gradient at reservoir depth to be around 16.2 ppg. The RW will have almost an 18,000' mud column so the bottom hole pressure in it will be around 13,300 psi or about 1.5 ppg greater than the reservoir.

Then comes the big unknowns. If the well bore annulus is in communication with the reservoir they may start losing all the mud to the formation with none going into the annulus or production csg. That won't be a bad thing necessarily. If the mud is going into the reservoir than no oil/NG will be able to flow out. They could stop pumping mud at that point and the reservoir might not flow back. If so they could pump cmt at that time. But there is still a low potential pressure in the direction of the WW so if they stop pumping the flow might go back up the WW. And if the annulus isn't in communication with the reservoir? After this point there are so many what-ifs I'm not sure what to offer as a reasonable possibility. But whether the flow in annular or up the prod csg they'll need to fill either with 14.2 ppg mud to stop the flow up. They said they were going to make the intersect with a mud pressure of 350 psi over reservoir pressure. For an 18,000' column that would be a MW of around 13.1 ppg. They won' frac the rocks at that MW but a 13,000' of 13.1 ppg will only generate a bottom hole pressure of less than 8,900 psi...not enough to stop the WW flow. But it should slow it up a good bit.

So maybe that's the point of the new cap: give that extra 3,000 psi of back pressure plus the 8,900 psi from the mud column to equal the 11,900 psi reservoir pressure.


If that is so, it is new information as well. I don't think they ever expressed a need for an additional capping pressure to be available for relief wells to be successful.

Don't they already have some back pressure generated by the current, damaged BOP? Why expose it to thousands of psi more today and risk blowing it further, when you may need the current backpressure tomorrow?

At any rate, BP/Gvnmt seems to have shifted gears and are doing things today they seemed unwilling to do a month ago.

D -- The only back pressure at the BOP right now is the 5,000' water column. That represents about 2,300 psi. That's why the mud column needs to add only 9,600 psi and not the entire 11,900 psi reservoir pressure.

No, that's not what I meant, or more precisely, that's not what I wanted to say...

Current BOP is providing back pressure to the well, at a fairly considerable level. If they need moderate back pressure for the RW to kick in, they have something to tune of several ksi from the BOP.

If they need a lot more than that, well, then relief well isn't much of a relief...

If they don't need more than that, why expose the BOP to twice this amount or more today, and risk loosing this as a back pressure system for the RW effort in two weeks?

Especially if you have a tight seal and enough topside capacity to process all or nearly all of the oil, as I have advocated for, forever, it seems.

Seems like a weird risk to take.


BOP is only providing back pressure when the well is flowing. They need the back pressure when it is static so they can cement.

They only need the back pressure WHEN it is flowing. Once the main well and the relief well is filled with mud they should not need any back pressure, they are done.

Currently the partially closed/broken original BOP is providing substantial dynamic back pressure - several ksi worth. If they need much more back pressure to make relief wells work, don't bother with the relief wells, just close the now available top cap/mini BOP.

In other words if the top of the well/original BOP can take full static pressure, one can pump the mud from the top or the bottom. The whole reason for drilling relief wells way low was to do the "bottom kill", which you must if there is no significant back pressure available at the wellhead. Again, for those who seem to forgotten, the "top kill" was abandoned due to exactly the same concerns about upper well pressure integrity. Majority of folks here seem to have forgotten about that in to time flat.

I think there is some confusion as to the original reasons for drilling deep relief wells and about the new and exciting mini-BOP they attached.

This cycle actually repeats at TOD with every new BP attempts at fixing. Lots of excitement and much support, not too many questions, followed by disappointment.

They might need the back pressure to compensate the differences in column between rw and ww. When static.

edit - Oh yes and thanks for reminding me that I'm a moron.

All of this is new information, which was never mentioned by BP. I have never heard they needed static back pressure at the wellhead to make the relief well approach work. How does relief well approach ever work without a functioning BOP at the wellhead?

Are you suggesting that without a working, high pressure stop at the wellhead, relief wells will not work? That would be very bad news for BP and us, as there is a very good chance they upper well section/wellhead really can't take high pressure - as evidenced in the abortive "top kill".

In other words, in order to make relief wells save a wellhead with a broken BOP, one needs a functioning BOP at the wellhead? Which of course obviates the need for the relief wells in the first place.

Am I the only one bothered by this "mad hatter" logic? Most folks here seem very comfortable with it...


No a relief well probably may not require the back pressure. BP has said that but they also have said that the back pressure might make it easier to execute. Remember they have 5000 ft of water over the ww as opposed to mud in the rw riser. Means they must use a heavier mud than would kill the formation if only one well were being drilled. It's still under the frac gradient apparently but maybe they'd like to weight the deck as much as possible to success. Expanding their options if you will.

I don't think anyone has ever executed a RW in 5K of water. Principles should be good but caution is in order.

edit: thanks again!

I understand a little back pressure will help.

Why test for "a lot" of back pressure, risking the upper well/wellhead/BOP integrity in the process?

One has to preserve whatever assets you have for the time they are needed.

New BOP should be closed when the relief well operation is in progress and they have mud only flowing at the wellhead.


I don't have a good answer for that one. I think you are right that the amount of back pressure is not 9K. If they fill the ww with mud, then they only need a couple thousand psi, I guess.

Another possibility: they evaluated the risks in the relief well kill and decided it was worth trying a top kill first (I know - doesn't jibe with the cancellation of the BOP operation last month). I have no idea whether this speculation is reasonable.


Kent Wells has certainly hinted several times that the cap might make the relief well process simpler - the back-pressure is clear conclusion.

Good comment. Now work out a solution for two zones, the lower zone is thicker, and has zero depletion, the upper zone is a stringer 10 ft thick, and it's depleted to a bit over flowing bottom hole pressure. Work out the change in the frac gradient from depletion, and see if the shallower depleted zone can stay unfractured as you put pressure on the well to kill the lower zone. Don't forget to take into account the mud temperature cooling off the rock and reducing the frac gradient if they have to pump a lot of mud at high rates.

fd - Yeah...caught your comment the other day. How many time have we stared at the end of a 5 1/2" piece of pipe and came up with a dozen different scenarios of what was happening a couple of miles down? Like a man once said: "Sometimes I sits and thinks. And sometimes I just sits."


A couple of thoughts on this -- maybe you can comment (and correct anything that's obviously wrong):

(1) It seems to me that a top-kill will necessarily expose the well to even higher pressures than simply shutting in the well, as you need at least a little bit higher pressure of the incoming mud in order to push back the oil.

(2) At the time of the top-kill operation the briefings quoted a flow estimate of 5000 bbl/day and the pumps they had could pump 60000 bbl/day of mud (40 bbl/min). Given the current flow estimates are 35000-60000 bbl/day it seems clear they had no chance at all of completing the top kill with that pumping capacity (even if it were possible they had nowhere near enough mud on hand). They might also have wrongly concluded that there was a casing problem given that they were pumping in a lot of mud and seeing no real progress. Finally, we don't know who made the decision to abort the top kill or whether it was a consensus decision or there was disagreement.

My gut is that they stopped the top kill out of an abundance of caution combined with inaccurate / incomplete information. I suspect that they now think the earlier top kill was failing just because the flow is way larger than they had thought, so it's reasonable to try stopping the flow. Stopping the flow has huge benefits that you and others have pointed out: no more flow into the gulf (which means no more Corexit), the ability to pull ships away during hurricanes without losing containment, and the ability to use the additional 5000' of well height to help the bottom kill.

lurker -- I didn't have much faith in the original top kill effort when it became clear how big then leak was in the BOP. I don't think the mud volume was the problem as much as the lack of seal. Top kills are easily done on wells that are shut in. Just crank the pump pressure up and you'll force the oil/Ng down the well along with the kill mud. The csg capacity is around 1,200 bbls but they pumped around 30,000 bbls in the top kill effort. Obviously noneof the mud went very far down the csg. recently I saw someone do what seemed to be a reasonable calculation/guess on the velocity of the oil/NG flowing out the BOP. It was 260 mph. If that's anywhere close to being correct it indicates how impossible the top kill was. You've got this very fast fluid flowing out the leak in the BOP with the additional force of the mud pumps also being directed out of the BOP leak.

This lastest effort to restrict the flow may have more to do with aiding the RW kill then trying to stop the flow by whatever degree. Just my guess.

Whoever figured 260 mph should go to remedial math class!!

60,000 bpd x 5.61 cu ft/bbl = 336,600 cu ft /day = 14,065 cu ft/hr.

Estimating the cross-section of the BOP at about 20" diameter, or about 2 sq ft, the flow would be about 7,000 ft/hr or about 1.4 mph, not 260 mph.


Don't send him all the way back to remedial math, just have him go back over the unit. The 260 mph calculation included the volume of methane mixed in with the oil. It's reasonable to include that and if the leak were at the surface it would give rise to a pretty dramatic and high-speed geyser.

IIRC the problem is that the calculation was based on the ratio of volume of methane flared at the surface to oil recovered & flared. That estimate would be off by a lot because the methane volume at depth should be ~1/160 the methane volume at the surface.

Note: I hate to "rebut" someone's calculations without linking to them or re-reading them directly, so if anyone has a link I'll be happy to go back and check my claims. I'll even post sheepishly if I'm wrong...

At the pressure head at 5000' in the ocean, the methane is in a supercritical state (where gas is indistinguishable from liquid)

There is a limited amount of expansion by the methane going from 18,000' (12,000 psi) to 5,000' (2250 psi). The NIST table for an average temperature of 150 F is here http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?T=150&PLow=2250&PHigh=12000&PInc=1...

So the volume of the supercritical methane increase by a factor of about 3 (from 18 lbs/cu ft to 6 lbs / cu ft) less something percentage due to it getting cooler as it rises. The weight percentage of methane to oil is fairly small, so it does not greatly affect the calculations.

The gas does not begin to turn into gas until it gets below the critical point, well above the mud line.

Well, this sure left me confused. I don't have a phase envelope for methane right here, I'm in my TV room. watching Keith Obewonknobe criticize Rand Paul.

BUT it seems to me methane at 2200 psi and 150 degrees F is in the gas phase. Maybe you should refer to it as "natural gas fraction of the hydrocarbon mixture"? In this case, the natural gas fraction COULD be supercritical. But that's irrelevant, because we have the oil or liquid phase present. Which leaves me hanging from my tree branch scratching my arm pit, and wondering, what's this comment about?

Bruce, lurker,

I do recall that quick calculation you guys are talking about (and forget who made it--but I think it was another site...hold on here...well, this might not be the exact post, but it gives similar numbers):


Read through the explanation, and you'll find the reasoning behind the 260mph calculation.

The short version is, it has more to do (MUCH more to do) with the expansion of methane as it rises in the pipe and experiences less pressure, than with the volume of liquid oil.

I agree that they were both confused http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870487560457528013357716426... and very cautious.

Rock - Just read you post, I'm having Problems understanding it. I Acknowledge your superior knowledge about these issues and I look forward to your posts, I have learned a lot these past couple of months, So thanks TEACH.
I agree your calculations about the mudweight and the 18000 column from RW are correct, but only in a closed well, as soon as that well hooks up with the WW, things change, it is flowing into a lower pressure zone, so the Mud weight and column height must result in a lower effective pressure.
My knowledge on Blowouts is next to Zero, but I'm learning (Thanks to you and others.) but have a pretty good basic knowledge of Physics, so the problem I have with this is how can you be Fracturing a formation at the same time that formation is freely flowing. The way I see it if you are Fracing a formation, the well was killed long before you reached fracturing Pressure. I cant see how both conditions can exist at the same time. (Its Fracing and flowing.)

Am I missing something.? Or should I just put on my Orange Hard Hat again.

This just in - enjoy!

by Patricia Marx
JUNE 28, 2010

Blackened Prawns
This is such a favorite with the guys on the rigs that the running joke is that our company was named after the dish! Believe me, you won’t have leftovers (but, if you do, they’ll last and last).

Prawns. If prawns are extinct, use chicken drumettes.
Enough finely chopped garlic to overcome aroma
1. Coat prawns with garlic. If necessary, use glue gun.
2. Broil. Watch for flareups.
Tip from Chef Tony: Cooking is like playing jazz—there’s no such thing as a mistake.

Wild Duck and Sticky Rice à la Pressure Cooker
A lot of cooks are afraid of pressure cookers, but I say no problemo. Besides, if something does go wrong, well, as Julia taught us, you’re alone in the kitchen. Who’ll know?

A duck. If varmint cannot be restrained with tongs and corn-on-the-cob holders, stand on it.
Enough rice to plug a three-inch diameter hole
Weather stripping
1. Clean gaskets and bird with Mr. Magic Countertop.
2. Aren’t there directions somewhere on appliance? See if you can find owner’s manual.
3. Serves four—or approximately two hundred members of the press.
Fun Fact from Chef Tony: As far as can be determined, nobody has ever sustained a permanent injury from a smell.

Thick-as-Tar Chocolate Pudding
My late wife couldn’t get enough of this. Best eaten at night under a moonless sky. The pudding’s gentle glow is just the thing to put you and your sweetheart in the mood! Light a candle at your own risk.

Cocoa powder (optional)
Marine diesel
1. Lubricate ramekins. Set aside.
2. Blend, baby, blend.
3. Throw overboard. Discard ramekins as well.
Science Lesson from Chef Tony: The number of crockery pieces flung into the ocean is minuscule compared with the number of molecules in the universe.

E-Z-Does-It Crunchy Pasta
When I was a kid, my mom used to serve this alfresco. Then the yard disappeared.
1. Follow directions for “How to Whiten Your Teeth” (p. 173).
2. If potable water is not available, serve yourself last.
Chef Tony Says: Be frugal! Use the yucky orange-colored oil when cooking for children or those with a severe head cold.

Tony’s Never-Fail Deep-Fried Doughnuts
We’ve received reports that this recipe failed. We recommend that you turn off the lights and leave the kitchen immediately.

Tony’s Try-and-Try-Again Deep-Fried Doughnuts
How much masking tape do you have? Keep stirring. If it still looks like that after an hour, continue stirring for four to six months. Can’t you call it gravy? Japanese peanut butter? Swiss cheese has holes in it and nobody complains. Blot well with paper towels.
Another Thought from Chef Tony: Who wants to slave over a hot stove all day? Call Morty’s Deli. They deliver. Don’t you want your life back? ♦

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2010/06/28/100628sh_shouts_marx#ixzz0taA3...

I can't try the duck. I use my tongs to hold my iPhone4.

Consumer Reports says that Duct Tape will do the trick on your iPhone, so you can now try your tongs on the duck!


Haven't heard to much about Kevin Costner's machine. Wonder if it is effective?
Regarding the oil clean up in the marsh lands and areas of still water where the oil is naturally or artificially corralled. What are the processes?
I have hired vac trucks to vacuum small spills into ponds and around containment areas whereas more water than oil is recovered simply because there isn't an effective wand or tool that works in conjunction with the vac hose. If one was to design a tool that captures much less water during the vac process one could really clean up(financially and literally). Another question that I have pondered is the purity of discharge water after skimming/vacuuming?? Can the water be discharged overboard with much less oil to water ratio or does it have to be 100% oil free?

Thanks in advance

A question, if I may. I would appreciate an explanation of the way the "foundation" or load-bearing bore entry point, of a deep sea well like the BP WW under discussion is prepared. Every well starts at a point somewhere on muddy sea bottom . . . a very heavy BOP has to be set, through which the drilling, testing, weight of mud etc. will take place.

So what sort of physical foundation is there to firmly and securely hold such weight? Does the ever-lengthening cemented casing provide substantial surface friction load bearing support? Are pre-stressed piling driven before BOP placement? I am particularly interested in understanding this because of the huge extra weight now bolted on top of the BOP. There has to be some pretty hefty base or foundation to support all this.

thanks . .

The first pipe(36" on the Macondo)that's normally run on a subsea well is a jet pipe. It's "jetted" in place to a point with geology suitable for the drilling operation to take place. I think this wells jet pipe is around 250feet below the mud line.

The next pipe is the conductor casing(28' on the Macondo) and that pipe is what the BOP is attached to. That pipe is around 1150 foot below the mud line and this pipe should be cemented back to the mud line.

Jeffr's questions about skimming and cleanup:

Rule 1: the media show no interest in how effective a device is in practice, only in political spin about whose fault it is that the device wasn't deployed earlier. So we haven't heard anything about how much oil is being collected by ships equipped with the Dutch skimming arms, or Gov. Jindal's armada of Shop Vacs, or the Costner centrifuge devices.

The centrifuges have been used on a tank barge that collects oil-water mix from skimmers out at sea. Just a few days ago, another barge, Ella G, was dispatched to the spill zone. It has a boom collector with a skimming device floating inside, feeding oil-water mix to a Costner centrifuge. Many more centrifuges are scheduled to arrive in 2-3 weeks.

The EPA has a purity requirement of 15 ppm for discharged water, which seems ill-advised under the circumstances. Tank barges that milk the skimmers of oil-water mix have to make the 10+ hour run to port with tanks carrying 90% slightly polluted seawater. The rule has been modified to allow water to be returned upstream of the collection device for some skimmers.

I've seen pictures of workers in the marshes literally wiping the grass with absorbent pads and scooping with hand tools. There are some vacuums in use. A guy in MS is producing a 120-lb rig to be mounted on boats as small as 16 ft., pushing an easily changed absorbent pad 12' wide--sounds useful for skimming small waterways. Things like this, and vacuums, and small strainers catching tarballs may be important once the thick offshore oil is mostly gotten rid of but smaller slicks keep coming ashore for months.

I have been out a number of times watching the skimmers at work......there are crews in the marshlands in some areas doing what they can to save bits and pieces.....in Barataria Bay, St. Bernard, and near Venice there are much more areas of marshland that have been soiled, and after the initial deposits have been suctioned up there isn't much that can been done. There is an armada of suction boats and skimmers in Barataria Bay looking for anything that comes in the tide. Farther west near Trinity Island I have seen groups of 20 skimmers in a slick, with maybe three actually skimming. The only people who really know the entire extent of what is happening are in BP or high up in the CG, and they are very tight-lipped.

Hope this helps.

I made some suggestions back in a post on improving cleanup about three weeks ago - sorry there is so much to write about, but simplistically for surface film you need a flat hose end held less than half-an-inch above the water, so that the air moves the film into the suction zone, without drawing too much water into the hose.

If you're skimming thicker deposits again you need to have a flat end parallel to the surface, and incrementally move it down until drawing the layers you are after.

In the afternoon briefing they also noted that there was only one piece of drill pipe found in the BOP, at the moment no-one knows what happened to the second piece of pipe.

Take a look (just right of center) at the 7:15-7:17 mark of this video of the removal of the old flange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1CNs7JLhFE captured by suzieconley in the Chat Channel.

Looks to me that the second pipe was snatched up as it lifted and swung clear of any interference in the lower spindle. Also note the pipe that is left in there, and seems to puff before getting hidden in the flow.

If so, may lead credence to the view that the second pipe dropped down into the BOP when the riser folded, and crimped by the CRAW in the stub.

So with only one pipe in the shears, why did it fail to cut and close?

Looks like the oil flow blew the second pipe up through the flange. It probably landed nearby. Hope it didn't hit anything.

Maybe it fell down and was wedged between the flange and the DP so it came loose with the flange movement.

Hi Folks. Couldn't find an answer to this one after searching the thread archives here.

Is there risk of tipping over this new 3-ram stack, which is now mounted atop the failed BOP? And I don't mean an ROV slamming into it. I'm more concerned about the sea currents which ebb and flow, along with the tether lines up to the ships. Seems to me we've got a pretty tall flagpole now - maybe 20+20 = 40 feet? Even with fifty-pound bolts on the flange, the thing looks so top-heavy.


P. S. , I don't know anything about this machinery other than what I read here.

Question for the pro's:

Why the complexity of three rams in the mini BOP?

Does anybody know what the Enterprise ROV #2 is showing?

It looks like some kind of Sideways flow...

I sure hope it's not a leak from the BOP


Something blew, and now the debris and leak is everywhere.


I hope that is a deliberate test or something ....

It's the old LMRP that used to be above the cap that was removed on Saturday. Looks like they're still doing some kind of flushing/cleaning exercise on it prior to lifting it to the surface. They've been working on it for days.

The old cap was cut off earlier and is sitting somewhere on the seafloor, keeping company with other discarded caps, domes, etc.

Actually it looks like they have a new cap attached to it with a hydraulic coupling to connect it to the top of the new BOP once they are finished testing. They appear to be trying to get it all cleaned out and ready to use again.

I don't see a new cap, just the LMRP assembly that was used to hold the drill pipe that collected oil.

Saw them close the hot water outflow valves ~ an hour ago,
now must be pushing water down the riser (around the drill pipe)
to flush the crude that collected up in the latching collar.

An LMRP assembly goes at the end of the riser, and consists of, from bottom up:
a latching collar that can release from the ram portion of a BOP
a pair of annular blowout preventers
a flex joint connecting to the riser itself
(all surrounded by some control and hydraulics stuff, along with quick disconnects for the choke and kill lines.)

In this case, there's also (above that) a section with some valves to release the hot water water that was pumped down the riser to prevent hydrate formation.

Saw then pull a bit (one or two joints - joint is 30') of drill pipe up last night, but looks like the end of the pipe is still as-cut when they dropped LMRP cap #4.


They were showing the new cap attached to it early this morning. It looks like it has a coupling designed to fit tightly over the top fitting of the new BOP and lock down hydraulically. They need to have some kind of a connection to hook up to Enterprise again and use it's 15,000 bopd processing capacity. (Unless of course they are able to shut it down or kill it.)

Working on the old LMRP system. Nowt to do with current containment.

I was wondering the same thing about the need for three rams on another thread. I think I posted shortly before the thread was closed.

Other than making damn sure that one of the rams works this time, what is the need for more than one? Is this over-designed as a device intended for temporary use?

It's nice to have redundancy. Why not three? Oil wells usually have more than one valve - two masters underneath, one at the top, and two wings on the side line where the flow is directed to the production system. So I guess the industry practice is to have a lot of redundancy.

More redundancy on 4/20 would have been great to prevent this disaster. Once it becomes an emergency, isn't it a little late to build in redundancy? -- especially if it costs weeks in the schedule and likely won't be needed?

I suspect the three BOPs are necessary to attempt well control from the top as mentioned in the other reply.

iirc, Wells (or Allen?) said this morning that the middle ram shuts down the flow out the top of the cap, and the lower ram shuts off the flow to the kill line. He didn't say what the top ram shuts off, but probably backup to close the choke.

Unlike the top and the kill line, which are either open or shut, the choke line can be closed gradually - manually by a rov - and will be the last one shut down as part of the well integrity test. The yellow device sitting atop the cap will channel the choke flow when it is opened.

OK. That's starting to make sense. They are probably necessary for proper isolation of the choke and kill lines.

About seven or eight years ago I spent a lot of time studying and drawing P&IDs for the prototype of a new ulta-deep water drilling system. We had to consider several well control scenarios. I understood things fairly well back then, but I'd need to get out those diagrams and study them again to refresh my memory.

However, what you are describing is ringing a bell. Multiple BOPs are probably needed if you want to attempt well control from the top in a more standard fashion. Chokes, by design, are throttled open slowly to bleed off gaa. The kill line in our system was connected between the first and second rams (counting from the bottom of the BOP stack) and the choke line was connected between the second and third.

Question: Why weren't more wells drilled into the reservoir directly, to draw out more oil, use it or store it, and thereby maybe relieving pressure on the "rogue" well, or shorten the time for the reservoir to empty?

Another question: Has ExxonMobil filed suit yet against BP, for contribution to the $500,000 (sad it wasn't more) verdict in the Exxon Valdez lawsuit?

Factoid: Tony Hayward was "in charge" of the Prince William Sound containment/cleanup effort, for BP. Woefully unprepared, even criminally negligently unprepared. Need I say more?

Only the tanker and its contents (probably bound for Japan, like 80% of the Alyeska Pipeline oil. Hear me Sarah Palin?)were ExxonMobil's. BP's was all the rest of the responsibility. Didn't Anadarko learn anything from that, or are they all in the same bucket of negligent behavior?

Finally, can anyone in the U.S. Coast Guard be trusted? Especially the Admiral-in-Charge?

Thank you.

Piggy: Better go back to looking for truffles.

We need an icon for beverage spill warnings.

Piggy, drilling more wells to relieve the pressure would take quite a bit of time. Then there's the equipment needed to take the oil and gas from these production wells to shore. I'd say this could take quite a few months to accomplish, more likely several years.

Tony Hayward will be the subject of a new book written by a famous writer, Stephen King comes to mind. This book will go over his career, which I'm sure will show his body was taken over by an ancient Egyptian mummy's spirit he ran into while visiting the museum.

I think the Coast Guard can be trusted. The admiral in charge is my uncle, and he's a very nice guy. You can trust everything he says.

Boa Deep C – ROV 1 Camera is showing a stick with a rag on it cleaning gauges!

It's Matt Simmons. He's hijacked an ROV and he is trying to unlatch the BOP from the well so it will fall over during the pressure test... so he can cover his short position. ;-)

Better not be using household cleaning fluid! Might destroy the ecosystem.

Oops! It looks like some nasty dirty oil got blown in behind the nice plexiglass covers over the gauges. I guess the engineers did not consider the possibility of oil in the water down there!

I guess we have to wait another 5 days while they figure out how to clean the gauges.

The rag on the stick look pretty effective!

Unfortunately the oil is on the INSIDE. :-( I think I see a dispersant wand coming to the rescue.

The mission title on BOA 1 & 2 says "Pressure Integrity Test" so I guess that's where the action will be when the action starts.

They should try one of those on Hayward.

During this morning's briefing by Adm. Allen, there was an answer to one question that came up yesterday - "why weren't they starting the well-integrity test sooner?" It turns out they needed to wait for daylight so they could safely navigate moving many of the vessels out of the immediate area to allow for the successful performance of the seismic survey, which was done from another vessel, called, I think, the Decco Topaz. Allen said they surveyed 2.5 km north/south for a baseline for their monitoring during the integrity test. Don't know if he meant 2.5 north of the well head and then 2.5 km south, or 2.5 km total distance.

Great info!

Looks like they shot a 2D line for time-lapse - just what I would have done (well, I might have applied some thinking towards 3D - after all, 2D time lapse is pretty hard to interpret). Wonder if they have a couple of lines of seafloor nodes laid down - orthogonal to the source line - that'd give them 3D (at depth).

I'm new here.
I have no doubt this link has been posted before, but I was so blown away by it that I wish it was required viewing for anybody getting an account here.

This lecture was posted on youtube in 8 parts.
The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See

For more do a search here for Albert Bartlett.

Utterly untrue.

You can find a copy of the Thomas Jefferson's most recent report here:

Oil to be extracted from a well isn't like a magma lake, a cavity filled with boiling-hot molten material. The oil (and the methane dissolved in it) exists within the porespaces of existing rock layers. The oil, due to its lower density, does indeed tend to rise within the crust and escape at the surface. However, the pressure on the oil is due entirely to statics: the weight of the atmosophere, ocean and earth crust on top of it. Magma, on the other hand, being over 1000deg C, is under hugely greater pressure, due not only to statics but also to its very high temperature.

There are in fact massive volcanoes many miles across on earth--Yellowstone is one. The Gulf of Mexico most definitely is not. This fracturing crust nonsense is just that, nonsense.

Of course, just about everybody who regularly reads this site understands all this already--I guess I'm just responding to a flyby, hit & run commenter?...ah, well.

Don't know how often I'll comment. I'm just a curious but ignorant person who wondered if the gash thing had any credibility. In my world it's ok to ask questions.

No blame on you, but technically knowledgeable folks here have been beating down hysterical scare stories for months. The bottom line may be this: well blowouts are fairly common and there is no reason whatever to expect that a runaway well is going to precipitate a geological apocalypse. The problem is just what it seems to be, a very unhealthy amount of oil has been gushing into the Gulf.

Is there anybody here that can debunk this? I find it hard to believe.

Concurrently, a huge ragged gash on the ocean floor hundreds of feet long has been reported by the NOAA research ship, Thomas Jefferson. Before the curtain of the government enforced news blackout again descended abruptly, scientists aboard the ship voiced their concerns that the widening rift may go down miles into the earth.

That gash too is hemorrhaging oil and methane. It’s 10 miles away from the BP epicenter. Other, new fissures, have been spotted as far as 30 miles distant.

Measurements of the multiple oil plumes now appearing miles from the wellhead indicate that as much as a total of 124,000 barrels of oil are erupting into the Gulf waters daily-that’s about 5,208,000 gallons of oil per day.


Man finds hole in ass!

Details at 11.

"Is there anybody here that can debunk this?"

I can ...inaccurate assumptions

Unsupported bs with no links to data. The author's either selling lots on Lake Simmons or he's short BP stock.

The link to Texas A&M was legit.

and misused as justification for the bogus TJ gash claim and the rest of the hogwash.

intelligent -- I'd be glad to try to debunk anything you like. Just present the documented facts. Unsupported theories are fine. But trying to debunk them is a fool's game IMHO.

There are huge gashes pouring oil and gas all over the planet. When they pour out onshore, they make tar lakes (like the one in California where all those actors get dropped). There's one in Trinidad, and a huge area around it has a bit of soil on top of tar that came out of the gash, the ground is so soft, it wiggles if you put a large load on it, and measurements show this tar lake extends offshore, where it sits underneath a thin layer of sand and mud.

There's also an area in the Caspian where mud volcanoes spew out mud and also natural gas in huge quantities, these volcanoes are pretty tall, sometimes hundreds of feet. The Gulf of Mexico is also famous for lots of these gashes pouring oil and gas, they're usually called seeps, and the term for the gashes is "fault".

It seems to me the measurements of the oil plumes are not that accurate at this time, and everything is kinda mixed up because there's oil coming from the Macondo well AND also from the seeps. So the best thing to do is to wait until they close the well in, and then have research vessels go measure the oil concentration in the water column in a series of cruises crossing the area, so we can observe as the oil disappears from the water. We also need to see what happens to the oxygen levels, and so on.

Evidently a seep 30 miles from the Macondo well can't be coming from the well. I'd say anything within say a one mile radius should be looked at extra carefully, but beyond that, it has to be a natural seep and those happen all the time.

Hope this helps.

Nope. 5 miles along trend x 3 miles up strike.

I assume you suspect an underground blowout followed by a seal breach to the surface? I don't know the area, how much of the top 3000 feet of sediment is sand and how much is shale?

It's mud.

Well, if it's mud, it has no strength. And this means a shallow breach at the well will find its way to the surface in a hurry - no need to go zigzag around if it's soft sediment. I'm not a geomechanics expert, but I suspect any kind of a breach at the well into shallow zone will either stay contained, or if the top seal is soft then it'll go up in a hurry. If there's no permeable sediment to drink it, then it'll just keep going up and create a seep. And it won't have to go beyond a mile to find its way all the way to the mudline.

But this isn't my field, I'm just guessing.

Seems reasonable to me that it would go vertically. Lithified sediments, if they were present, would encourage more horizontal flow.

Mudstone is a seal at depth. The thing at issue is stacked pay, fractured shale, slump faulting. That's why it could leak along trend or updip.

Trinidad Lake Asphalt. In a prior incarnation a paving contractor tried to sell the municipality I was working for some surplus TLA he had left over from a bridge resurfacing job. I had never heard of it but, apparently it is extremely durable and resistant to cracking. And was expensive. Apparently a special grade of asphalt.

Nice to know there is such a lake of petroleum and my leg wasn't getting yanked.

I' m not interested in the tsunamigenic aspects of the cited reference, but some of the material it contains seems to describe the "low relief escarpment" mentioned on pp 16-17 in the IEP. Maybe you or Rockman can answer if deepwater escarpments behave differently than shallow water formations. Anyone ever get the exact dimensions on that formation near A and B? Also, that phrase "deeply buried" becomes relevant because of the depth of the original well bore, right?

"...Continuous seismic reflection profiles show that many buried slide debris lobes exist and comparison of the deformed reflectors with ODP Drill Site 149, Hole 893 suggest that at least 200 000 years of failure have occurred in the area (Fisher et al., 2005a)...Other mechanisms that can stimulate mass movement on the sea floor include [loading of slope sediment by storm waves or hurricanes], elevated sediment pore pressures from dewatering in response to tectonic compression or rapid increase of overburden pressures, reduction of stress by bubble phase gasexpansive pressures, artesian pressures, seepage forces, gashydrate disassociation, and sediment accumulations exceeding the angle-of-repose"

Another good reason for the seismic studies and the geophones, IMHO.

BTW, BP funded this excellent study: magician.ucsd.edu/~ltauxe/CV/reprints/schwehr06.pdf
"We would like to thank NSF (grant OCE-04-25919),ONR (grant N00014-03-1-0272), and BP for funding this research." Really nice graphics.

Initial Exploration Plan

fd, I stole your comment completely and posted it on GretaWire, a Fox site, in an effort to stop the fear mongers. I hope you don't mind.

No problem

intelligent -- Ask all you want. That's one of the main reasons TOD exists. Just please be a little more thick skinned. The regulars can tease each other pretty hard sometimes too. Feel free to join in and take your own cheap shots when the opportunity presents itself. Heck...I'm a petroleum geologist so you can imagine the crap they throw at me sometimes. But I'm basicly an attention whore so I tend to enjoy it.

As to the 40,000 psi to 100,000 psi pressure offered in the article the reservoir pressure has been well documented to be 11,900 psi. That lower pressure doesn't necessarily disprove any of the more frightening predictions. Most of the hands I know who have been killed/injured in pressure related accidents happened well under 1,000 psi. I was thinking about your "gash in the earth" comment earlier. There was a sea floor map presented early on that showed a scarp (small ledge) in the vicinity of the blow up. To someone not accustomed to looking at such a presentation it might look like a gash. Perhaps that's how that story started.

intelligent, sometimes you have to nag, nag, nag to get an answer! Or just stick your neck out so they can ambush you.

I think BP's seriously worried about that scarp formation. fdoleza, or RM, is MC252's escarpment analogous to structures referenced in the Santa Barbara Basin study? 695 acre-feet or a volume of 1.09 sq miles in area, one foot thick (Bruce Thompson above) may have been lost to the MC252 formation in addition to the trauma incurred during drilling-that would be enough to get it rock and rollin',
All due respect to NasaWatch. Not trying to be a an engineer but I REALLY want to know. We don't have any information on the "deeply buried scarp" AFAIK other than the data online, but it's bound to be larger than 980'/1000'(distances from sites A-B), which should have put the drill path right through it,

Sorry, but it seems that website you quote is using the wrong units. That's probably it, because what they say doesn't make any sense. It's as if I told you a 3000 lb policeman was seen chasing a guy on a skateboard at 160 mph. None of what you're linking us to makes any sense. So I'll be polite and just point out the numbers are so so far from what's physically possible, they just forgot their conversion factors. Are the guys writing this stuff from Canada? They use funky units up there.

Tightening the choke on Boa ROV 1, looks like the plume is easing?

Anyone know how fast the valves can be closed?

When would 'water hammer' (OK, 'oil hammer') due to inertia in the moving fluid column below the valves be severe enough to break something?

Here we go. Pressure rising on the outlet gauge on Olympic Challenger ROV view.

Don't quote me, but it looks like 3,000 and steady

ON EDIT: The instant I posted this that gauge was back to near zero.

An excellent article by Dean Baker today:


"...This raises the question as to why the public seems to accept that the top officials at BP, who cut corners and made risky gambles in their drilling plans, should be able to “get my life back,” as BP CEO Tony Hayward put it. The people who lost their livelihood as a result of BP’s spill will not get their lives back, even if BP does pay compensation. Certainly the 11 workers killed in the original explosion will not get their lives back. Why should the people responsible for this carnage be able to resume their lives of luxury?

"There are two separate questions. The first is a narrow legal issue concerning the extent to which Hayward and other high-level executives can be held criminally liable for the accident. It may be the case that the laws are written so that even if companies commit gross negligence that results in enormous harm, including multiple deaths, top officials are not criminally liable. This is a question about the status of current law.

"The second question is a moral and economic one about what the laws should look like. From either standpoint, it is very difficult to see why we would want to say that reckless behavior that would be punished with long prison sentences if done by an individual, somehow escapes serious sanction if done as part of a corporation’s pursuit of profit. Do we give a “get out of jail free” card to people when they are wearing the hat of a top corporate executive? This makes no sense.

"Just to take the extreme case, suppose that Tony Hayward was racing back to the office after a three-martini lunch in order to prepare the paperwork for a big contract that he had just negotiated. On his way, he hits a school bus, killing 11 children. Would it make sense to absolve him of blame for these deaths because it was the result of his efforts to raise BP profits? And, if that doesn’t make sense, why does it make sense to absolve him of responsibility for the deaths of 11 oil rig workers that were the direct result of his decision to cut corners in order to increase profits?.."

Rediculous points.

This isn't a case where an executive tried to steal money or hide company insolvancy, this is a case where a manager down the line delegated with certain authority made certain decisions which may turn out to be right or wrong, but in any case had little to do with what Tony Hayward personally did. Now, he may have promoted the wrong senior managers who promoted the wrong line managers or awarded bonuses when money was saved without understand HOW the money was saved, but he wouldn't have made any direct decisions on the well and thus has no real criminal liability (except in maybe kangeroo court where law is in the eye of the gun holder).

The last analogy is just stupid and its patently obvious why it is.

This isn't a case where an executive tried to steal money or hide company insolvancy, this is a case where a manager down the line delegated with certain authority made certain decisions which may turn out to be right or wrong, but in any case had little to do with what Tony Hayward personally did.

Wouldn't that depend on things like, um, evidence?
All persons should be presumed innocent but that's not the same as predicting anyone, "in any case had little to do with what..." may be criminal.
Over 20 years ago, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh (R) called the S&L scam "the biggest white collar swindle in history" – it cost us anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion.

The Obama DOJ may do more than Bush 41's fearsome name calling.

Hey, they already have!

In a criminal law context, maybe not. But in CIVIL LAW, the "kangaroo court" (as you describe it) will use a common law doctrine called "respondeat superior" (Latin, means "Let the master answer") which makes an employer liable for the actions of its employee downline when the actions take place within the scope of the employee's employment.

Respondeat superior was established to provide a better chance for the injured party to actually recover from his loss. Under respondeat superior, BP cannot avoid liability by saying, "I did not know anything because I made no 'direct decisions' on the well that caused the damage."

The theory behind respondeat superior is that the principal hires the agent and controls the agent's behavior: thus, the employer must assume responsibility for the agent's actions.

Most plane crashes these days are due to pilot error. 200 - 300 dead, $100 million aircraft written off -- that's serious.

But they don't crucify the airline executives. They investigate minutely and use the knowledge to improve the industry.

Most plane crashes these days are due to pilot error.

That's one heck of a statement, aardvark, and stated as a statement of fact. Can you back that up? I've seen many NTSB reports that put plane crashes down to a defect in a computer system, or the wrong type of grease having been used on a jack screw, etc., etc.

If you learned that a plane crash had occurred because a senior executive had ordered a cut in the maintenance budget, and the manager of the maintenance department said he was just following orders (for example, using an inferior grade of grease to save money), who would you say was to blame? Who should be punished? Or would you say they should use the knowledge "to improve the industry"?

Just asking.

"That's one heck of a statement, aardvark, and stated as a statement of fact. Can you back that up? I've seen many NTSB reports that put plane crashes down to a defect in a computer system, or the wrong type of grease having been used on a jack screw, etc., etc."


The single most frequent cause, by a fairly large margin, is pilot error, though sometimes it's an error in reaction to something else like weather.

"Pilot error (mechanical related)" represents accidents in which pilot error was the cause but brought about by some type of mechanical failure. "Other human error" includes air traffic controller errors, improper loading of aircraft, fuel contamination and improper maintenance procedures.

Good point, dhogaza and succinctly put. I'll concede the point except to say it's pretty marginal, and I still think the point relating to executive responsibility is a valid one.

But yes, good post and thanks for bringing clarity to the discussion.

Most plane crashes these days are due to pilot error. 200 - 300 dead, $100 million aircraft written off -- that's serious.
But they don't crucify the airline executives. They investigate minutely and use the knowledge to improve the industry.

Go figure! Bernard Madoff cops a plea and is doing 150 years...
Yes, vicarious liability and corporate liability are more complicated than a street mugging.
But they occasional get their man.

And history may be a poor guide in this case. Except for BP's record, that is.
It isn't a typical of any previous environmental crime, exploitation of labor in violation of labor and health and safety laws or on the same scale of any 'accident' I can recall.
No, this incident is not like a plane crash...as serious as they can be.

Me, I'd probably hope to avoid a trial by a jury of coastal residents.

One word - Bhopal. 50000 dead. And the execs in charge still at large. Will ths be any different? Should it be ?



********* News Flash ***********
This should be an interesting subcommittee meeting on July 22nd!!

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), July 13, 2010

BP said Tuesday that Japan's Mitsui & Co., its partner at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, has notified the company it's withholding reimbursement payments for expenses related to the massive oil spill there.

MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, which is a subsidiary of Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd., informed BP Monday that they are withholding payment for their share of costs related to the leak in the gulf, including costs associated with containment efforts, BP's spokesman Mark Salt said in an emailed statement.

"We are disappointed that another party has failed to live up to its obligations under the Macondo Operating Agreement and as a responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act," Salt said. Mitsui has a 10% interest in the mile-deep well, which has been spewing oil into the Gulf's water since late April.

Last week, Anadarko, which owns a 35% interest in the well, also notified BP that it was withholding payments related with the spill.

In early June, BP billed Anadarko just over $272 million for May's expenses, according to an invoice provided by the subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security. Mitsui was billed around $111 million, according to an invoice provided by the Senate subcommittee.

The Oil Pollution Act, enacted in 1990 after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, establishes that responsibility for spills from an offshore platform lies with the companies that own the leases granted by the federal government.

But Anadarko Chief Executive Jim Hackett said in June the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was "preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decision and actions," allegations that BP has rejected. The Houston-based company has said its operating agreement with BP for development of the Macondo well contains a clause that could limit Anadarko's liability if misconduct or gross negligence of the operator, BP, is proved.

BP said Tuesday it will continue evaluating its options under the operating agreement and the law regarding its relationship with Mitsui and Anadarko.

Anadarko's Hackett and Naoki Ishii, President of Mitsui unit MOEX Offshore 2007, will testify on their liability in the Gulf oil spill before the subcommittee on July 22.

This will be the first time that the top executives of BP's partners will give lawmakers their view on their responsibility for the spill-recovery costs.

Good report Red. But from the beginning it has been reported that Anadarko owns 25%. Perhaps they added Mitsui's 10% to the number. Didn't know A & M were going to testify on 22 July. This has the potential to be truly explosive. There will be widely different opinions presented as to BP ops. But there is a real possibility that Anadarko has a well documented record of disagreeing with BP's plans long before the blow out. There are almost always tech disagreements between partners. But with BP being the operator and owning 65% of the well they would win about everyone automatically. But as I mentioned earlier when Partner A tells Operator B:"Don't do XYZ because you're going to cost us money" and B does it anyway it isn't a free pass. If XYZ does lose some money A will negotiate exactly how much they'll pay. Doesn't necessarily matter what the JOA says. And they'll use their "I told you so" documentation to argue their point. I have no inside info but Anadarko may have a long list of "I told you so's" and maybe, just maybe, one is "Don't displace the riser with sea water before setting the top plug." Just wishful thinking at this point but it would be so sweet to see it come about.

Wow, there's a committee I've never heard of. Sez here Tom Carper of Delaware runs it, and Levin, Akaka, Pryor, McCaskill, and Burris are the Dems; McCain, Coburn, Voinovich, and Ensign the GOPers. In other words, don't look for the crispiest interrogations . . .


Can anyone tell me what Enterprise ROV 2 is looking at please ?

It is the LMRP that hangs below the Discoverer Enterprise. The pipe below it is the riser that used to go down to the Top Hat which has been cut off and discarded and lies in the mud. They are cleaning off gunk which has accumulated on the bottom of the LMRP over the last few weeks and prevents them freeing the riser pipe.

Two people today asked a question I have wondered about for weeks. Is the stack, weighing many tons, really balanced on top of a very long pipe? What happens if the mud washes away and it all starts to tilt? I did hear tell of guys attached to huge floating "anchors" but is that how it's done?

Secondly: a word about applying law in response to accidents. The dialog here earlier today was very interesting but some of it missed the point. Somebody wrote "there simply wasn't a good enough safety culture" and I have to ask "why was a lawyer in charge of MMS and not an engineer?" Absolutely, there should be an enquiry and compensation for real losses but any punishment should be personal and should not be adjudicated against the pensions of the innocent.

The 36" diameter column is sunk 250-300' deep in the sea floor. It's not going anywhere. Perhaps we should leave these concerns to the team of top engineers who have done the math.

Sunk 250-300 ft in unconsolidated silty mud.

According to well diagrams posted here many times, the 36 inch pipe goes down about 255 ft, it's cemented to a 28 inch pipe going down about 1150 feet, which is cemented to a 22 inch pipe that goes down over a half mile into increasingly consolidated sediment. That's a cement reinforced steel column over two Empire State Buildings deep.

Gail posted a good description that helped me to understand that despite the weight of the BOP even with the new stack on top of it, the entire contraption above the mudline was sitting on one heck of a foundation.

See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6659

The PDF of the schematic can be found at http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/3.1_Item_2_Macondo_Well_07_Jun_1900...

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

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

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

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

I wonder how many people know that New Orleans is build on nothing but mud. One Shell Square is built on mud. They jam pilings into the mud and build 51 story buildings on them, no bedrock. If you stick a 5 foot stick into mud, it doesn't move. Suction will keep it in place.

I've observed that there are lots of ways for folks not familiar with the scales and weights of all this (until-lately) exotic subsea equipage to make comments that seem silly to the more experienced hands here. A little patient indulgence would go a long ways toward education, I'm thinking.

As for the BOP, it weighs 450 tons and it four or five stories tall. It is anchored to the seabed rocks by several thousands of feet of telescoped steel casing pipe of decreasing diameter that has been bonded with concrete to itself and to the rocks surrounding the bore hole. The new ram stack they put on top of the BOP last night weighs 80 tons. The flange transition spool, the tubular pillar upon which the new ram stack sits, probably has walls that are two-inch thick steel. None of that stuff is going anywhere anytime in our lifetimes, I'd bet. For more info on the BOP, google Cameron International, the company that built the new ram stack (as well as the BOP that failed so spectacularly on the Macondo 252 well head).

There's been a copious amount of fearmongering by talented ignoramuses with a talent for sounding like they know what they're talking about out there in the internets and radioland and those of us who know better should take the time to bat down this nonsense. People want good information, not insults, when they come to places like this seeking information. People want the truth; those of us who know the truth should fight ignorance, not enable it.

Right on Uncon. And those ignoramuses, fear-mongerers, and calamity peddlers will be so disappointed when the RW hit the WW, the mud is pumped in, the oil stops flowing, and the cement is pumped in and the well is sealed.

Right on Uncon. And those ignoramuses, fear-mongerers, and calamity peddlers will be so disappointed when the RW hit the WW, the mud is pumped in, the oil stops flowing, and the cement is pumped in and the well is sealed.

Ask yourself: "Do anchors float?". Next "Should I have asked this question?".

Ask yourself: "Do anchors float?"
Next:"Should I have asked this question?".

My goodness tdmidget, how did this board ever manage to handle such posters who ask ignorant questions before you arrived here last week?

While floating boat anchors don't exactly anchor you to a specific spot, they do slow the movement of your boat so that you can stay in the same area for a longer amount of time without being swept downstream as quickly.


Also called a sea anchor. It keeps a boat aligned with the wind, perpendicular to the swells to keep it from swamping and slows its speed drastically.

As if BP needed a new front in its wars . . .

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The four senators from New Jersey and New York are asking the State Department to investigate whether oil giant BP played a role in winning last year's release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie airliner bombing.

The four on Tuesday requested the probe a day after asking the department to press the British government to look into the circumstances of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's release. He was released on compassionate grounds after doctors said the cancer-stricken Libyan man had only three months to live. A doctor now says al-Megrahi could live for another decade.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey say they are concerned by reports that BP helped secure al-Megrahi's release in order to finalize a $900-million offshore oil drilling deal with Libya.

No doubt the Scots will welcome some company on that hot-seat.

Why would the Scots welcome company? The whole world except Libya was amazed at the release of Al Megrahi by Scotland.

Hi, beagle. I'd say your second sentence answers the question in your first. (Though I'm not right sure "amazed" is a strong enough verb for the purpose.)

I remember Lockerbie well. I had family there who phoned the next day. A whole suburb was completely destroyed by fire and the moors covered in body parts (not just chunks of plane). The news agencies sanitised the facts.

There can be little doubt that Al Maghrahi was swapped for oil but I am well surprised that Scotland agreed to it.

Sorry for your family's trauma (not to mention the hundreds of others'), beagle.

Re: Lockerbie

Please read these two articles:

The Framing of al-Megrahi by Gareth Peirce

From a logically compelling case that seemed to point clearly in one direction the prosecution switched tack, but not at the beginning: not, in fact, until two years after the bombing, when the politics of the Middle East shifted and new allies had to be found quickly if the flow of cheap oil were to continue.

It is not difficult to achieve a conviction of the innocent. Over many decades several common factors have been identified, and the majority of them are present, centre stage, in this case: achieving the co-operation of witnesses by means of a combination of inducements and fear of the alternative (the tried and tested method of obtaining evidence for the prosecution on which many US cases rely); the provision of factual information by scientists where there is no proper basis for it (a recurrent theme in UK convictions as well as in the US); reliance on ‘identification’ evidence which is no such thing. Add to that the political will to achieve a prosecution, and the rest is easy. Fabrication demands outright dishonesty, but it isn’t always necessary, or necessary in every aspect of an investigation: the momentum of suspicion, and a blinkered determination to focus on a particular thesis and ignore evidence pointing to the contrary, is a certain route to achieving the desired end. Al-Megrahi is reported as saying that he has evidence, which will be revealed on his death, that will prove his innocence. But it is clear even from the evidence that can be looked at today that his conviction was extremely disturbing.

For the first two years there was no mention at all of Libya. The investigation originally seemed to have clear evidence of a motive (tit for tat retaliation); evidence of the existence of a bomb intended to destroy airliners in mid-flight contained in the same brand of cassette radio discovered on the plane; and evidence implicating a Palestinian splinter group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, which was prepared at the time to hire itself out to regimes that were known to be state sponsors of terrorism; Syria was one (somewhat earlier, Libya had been another), so was Iran.

Behind every crime there is of course a motive. For the initial prime suspect, Iran, the motive was brutally clear. In July 1988 a US battleship, the Vincennes, shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in the Persian Gulf, with 290 passengers, many of them pilgrims en route to Mecca. There were no survivors. By chance a television crew was on the Vincennes when the attack took place and images of triumph at the carnage were immediately beamed around the world. When it became clear, as it did straight away, that the attack was an appalling error, the US compounded its mistake: President Reagan claimed self-defence and the ship’s commander and crew were awarded high military honours.

Inconvenient Truths by Hugh Miles

Robert Black QC, an emeritus professor of Scottish law at Edinburgh University, was one of the architects of the original trial in Holland. He has closely followed developments since the disaster happened and in 2000 devised the non-jury trial system for the al-Megrahi case.

Even before the trial he was so sure the evidence against al-Megrahi would not stand up in court that he is on record as saying that a conviction would be impossible. When I asked how he feels about this remark now, Black replied: ‘I am still absolutely convinced that I am right. No reasonable tribunal, on the evidence heard at the original trial, should or could have convicted him and it is an absolute disgrace and outrage what the Scottish court did.’


Interesting post. The release of al-Megrahi was pretty controversial here in the UK. The tabloid press did not look favourably on it, and it was a vote loser for anyone linked to it. It still is. The suggestion that the release might be linked to trade has been aired before. Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister, was accused of influencing the release after pressure from Qatar, but there is no evidence for that. This and other other putative links to Arab Oil states have been talked about in the press. There is evidence that the al-Megrahi release was raised by Qatar and others, but no evidence that the actual release occured for political or trade reasons, rather the evidence is that legal process was followed against the wishes of many in government.

I don't think this horse will run far.

Hi, steve.

I don't think this horse will run far.

I kinda doubt it will either, but it certainly intrigues me. Maybe I'll nose about a bit more . . .

I may be naive, I just think more of the Scottish legal system, not BP, but yes intriguing nonetheless.

Some more info on this:

BP was finally given the go-ahead six weeks after a volte-face by the British government to include Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya under which prisoners could serve out sentences in their home countries. Jack Straw, the justice secretary, revealed this decision in a letter to his Scottish counterpart. He cited “wider negotiations” and the “overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom”.


Wildly off-topic, but he almost certainly didn't do it anyway; it was a classic British miscarriage of justice. See Private Eyes passim; they've been investigating and following the story for years. Unfortunately their proper journalism isn't on the website.

Bingo (more or less). Thanks, MOB. I was following this in ToL, etc., at the time, but the BP angle didn't stick with me.

As I remember, State's reaction at the time was approximately "Tsk tsk." So the Senators are taking this opportunity to posture for the home crowd (and this is prolly the last we hear of it).

Saving 10 million dollars on drilling costs may seem like a lot of money but compared to the total value of the oil in this well it would be less then 1/2 of 1 percent. The largest oil hit BP has ever had and no one had the time to watch over the plans and a small time drill rig boss from BP was in charge. It appears that BP doesn't really feel accountable for anything and the government doesn't really want two volcanoes spewing in the Gulf. I do have a good imagination and I do love a good conspiracy theory. Maybe the dinosaur theory is right and instead of a comet hitting the earth here millions of years ago this crater blew from the inside out and killed all the big boys on earth. But of course if that were true we would be seeing more earth quakes and volcanoes than usual so it seems were safe. (:

In an exploration well, you have to factor in the risk of not finding an economic accumulation. Makes the dollars saved more important.

A Whale has yet to prove itself:

Deadline looms for giant oil skimmer

The A Whale has been performing tests in the Gulf since last week. The Coast Guard has given the skimmer until Thursday to prove its value.

The A Whale has been performing tests in the Gulf since last week. The Coast Guard has given the skimmer until Thursday to prove its value.

Say it ain't so!
Anderson Cooper is in Haiti, he gets a vote on fiascoes and this might be worth an hour on CNN.
I think he only left under the assumption A Whale had proved its value. A double fiasco, eh?

Have they started the pressure test yet? It looked like the flow was less than in other days, maybe that's due to the helix ramping up, although it's to be shut off in the pressure test...

I'm eager to learn the true flow of this thing too...I hope they can measure it somehow.

I've been monitoring this thread, waiting for news, too. MSM is hopeless.

avonaltendorf: NYT said that at 2:30 briefing BP was still a couple hours a way from starting.

The first thing they will do is close the new BOP and cut off the flow out the top. This flow has been visible from Skandi 1. Behind the black plume in that view, the yellow elephant-trunk thing is the choke outlet. After the kill line is closed, there will be a lengthy process of gradually closing the choke. This will be done by BOA #1, which earlier was practicing turning a T-handle on a toilet-paper-roll thing inserted at the rear of the elephant thing. I don't know what the holdup has been.

Aboard Enterprise---- Does the drill pipe go from rig floor, a mile down, thru riser and out old cap?
If the DRILL PIPE is frozen tight inside MARINE RISER with methane hydrate how can they pull them up and break out drill pipe joints with tongs if DP is covered with riser?
If there is no relative movement between riser and drill pipe breaking out these joints seems difficult. The 31' drill pipe joints do not space out with longer riser connections.
I assume any roughneck can tell me how to do it.

The drill pipe used to collect oil & gas goes from the rig floor, down about a mile, thru the LMRP on the Enterprise's riser, sealed with an annular preventor (from the annulus between the riser and the drill pipe - used for hot water),
and a few feet more to where the old LMRP cap #4 was.

You're right, it would be an incredible pain to try and raise the riser with drill pipe inside it.

But they apparently have things cleared up.
I saw late last night a few feet of the drill pipe go up (maybe a joint or two), and then a little bit this morning, after the flushing of stuff down the annulus, a few more feet of pipe went up.

AFAIK, they still have a cut end on the pipe since dropping LMRP cap #4, so I don't know how they'll hook up LMRP cap #7 (their backup if the pressure test fails).

N.B. now - at 5:54 CST, the choke line (curved yellow pipe off of long square choke valve on one side of the capping stack) is starting to flow some stuff. There's a small tube into the choke outlet, anti-freeze (methanol, glycol) I'd suppose.

Boa Deep C #2 is closeup,
Skandi ROV 1 is overview.

If they pumped seawater from the bottom of the well, would hydrates be able to stop the flow as they did with the first tophat attempt?

Is there sea water in the bottom of the well to pump?

I suppose all they have to do is stick a little ole' pump into the bottom of the well and give her a try!

Gonna need a long extension cord for that puppy aint they?

Let's take a moment and go back to examine the crystalization characteristics of these handy ole' methly hydrate what nots?

At those temperatures they might form on the former planet Pluto, but that is off the curve ( had to throw you at least one).

I have heard it seriously speculated that BP (in consultation with its ilk), having now committed to paying a steep price for the blowout with more to come, figures it has "done the time, so commit the crime." The crime being, in this case, the total petro-saturation of the GOM. Once the pristine quality of the marine environment has been soiled -- in this case, destroyed -- there are no reasons to maintain strict environmental regulations. The GOM will be treated with the same deference given to preserving the ecosystem inhabiting a refinery's surroundings or to a mountain of coal tailings: none. So the logic goes.

Having read many of the comments here to the effect that "you drink the poison (oil), you deserve to get sick and/or die and should plan to," the logic doesn't seem so odd anymore. When top dollar is the main concern, it appears easy to rationalize every insult to the earth and every abuse heaped on living, breathing human beings nearby.

The courts can sort out who's legally responsible; society as a whole has the power to bestow forgiveness or impose more serious penalties than just handing over the last quarter's profits. But the prevailing attitude of godliness and being above rebuke while encouraging if not actually participating in possibly this nation's greatest man-made tragedy to date really will always remain disgusting.

I no longer put it above BP and the industry as a whole to strategically plan the despoliation of the GOM, the better to have a free hand. One sanctuary at a time, we will wipe nature off the globe until it's just us, oil, and coal. Eat plastic.

I have heard it seriously speculated that the world, she's a flat.

Nothing flat could hold in all this oil, coal, water or the sanctuaries. I'm thinking we've gone concave here.

We shall see. This is the first deepwater blow (that we know of). Let's see about the second and third.

Those doubters would do well to study the history of the coal industry, where systematic despoliation has been a strategy that has effectively done in rural West Virginia and is now being practiced in the West.

The use of ridicule to avoid Occam's Razor can result in nasty cuts.

You're going to cite Occam's Razor to support your theory of a massive oilfield conspiracy over the theory that few operators made some really dumb mistakes that lead to a common industry problem called a blow out?

I don't think I'm following your logic hear.

There's a bit of a difference here. Times have rapidly changed. The fact that a "few operators made some really dumb mistakes" is no longer simply a really bad business decision, affecting some grazing pasture. Oil corporations have grown so large and so overpowering of government, that their risky decisions are no longer simply bad business. Their brand of the Brave New World of drilling, however, allows those same "few operators" making the same "dumb mistakes" to wipe out the whole GD GOM and the communities who live there.

How many more similar "few operators" are out there now -- operators who can by their actions wipe out say, the North Sea? The stakes are now so high that whole swaths of humanity are at the disposal of business decisions. Call it the New Capitalism if you will.

The total control which the industry gained over the government under Bush/Cheney is best exemplified by the sex and cocaine favors notoriously passed out to the MMS regulators by industry girls.

That's a bit hyperbolic don't you think?

60,000 bpd x 5.61 cu ft/bbl = 336,600 cu ft per day. Divide by 43,560 sq ft per acre and it becomes about 7.7 acre-ft per day.

After 90 days @ 60,000 bpd you'd have 695 acre-feet or a volume of 1.09 sq miles in area, one foot thick (That's why you are not hearing about any miracles by the A Whale). This article http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6798449/Real-time-Detection-of-Oil-Slick-Thi... puts the thickness of a "sheen" at 0.4 to 0.5 millimeters. A foot is 2.54 mm/in x 12 inches or 30.48 mm. So the total volume could form a sheen 1.09 x 30.48 / 0.4 = 8,300 sq miles. That is one hell of a mess, but it is not the oil slick that destroyed the GOM. You'll note that Michelle Obama was on TV today telling people that the gulf beaches are open and people should come on down on vacation to support the people in the tourist business on the Gulf Coast(just before she goes to Mt Desert Island, Maine for vacation. Do as she says, not as she does I guess).

Always nice to see a response that deflates hyperbole with mathematics and logic. Nicely done!

You are on the right track, but got the wrong cars. Please try again. There are 25.4 mm to an inch (2.54 cm). A foot is not a square foot. Not sure how to calculate the average thickness of mousse but it is certainly thicker than a "sheen". Those deep trails of oil with the consistency of salad dressing have me totally stumped. But hey, go for it.

OMG, you're probably freaking right.

Well, I see a number of configurations of BOP listed at http://www.c-a-m.com/ but no pictures popped out immediately. Is this a fair schematic - http://www.glossary.oilfield.slb.com/files/OGL99008.gif? I remember a bridge foundation which was designed to go down 130-140' though mud and silt in that same vicinity (over the course of a couple of years) so I just wondered about the lateral stability of the BOP. I did find http://www.treesfullofmoney.com/?p=1610 where they write about "dynamic positioning". Is that what's being used here?

"A critical test to gauge the integrity of the blown-out well is expected to start "in a couple of hours," a BP executive said at about 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)." Now 7:17 p.m. EDT.

They didn't want to chance blowing out the old BOP on the evening news cycle. Sort of like how they report bad news on Friday night.

2:30 pm briefing transcript is out, including Q&A around safety of shutting in the well:


Thank you for taking my call. What pressure gauges will you are monitoring? What two pressure gauges will you be monitoring and are the ROVs going to stay there throughout the test?
Kent Wells: Yes, the pressure information we’ll be getting is actually coming from transducers and so you won’t see pressure gauges on ROV feeds

No questions about the seismic test results. No comments about the seismic test results.

Just said how they gathered the seismic.

What do you think the problem is with reporters? Not analytic enough, overly dazzled by the science, or what?

The USG is supposedly in charge. Maybe they're being fed the questions and can't deviate.

Or maybe they're just mediocre.

"Shallow" is a word that comes to mind. "What kind of seismic tests", and "what were you able to determine from them" would have been useful questions from even a non-technical inquisitive mind. Sigh!

You are right! Shallow seismic.

active source

3D possible but not likely

seafloor fractures would be gangbuster on 3D time lapse


It's a western-geco streamer survey. 2D it seems. Quite a trick with at least 3 big ships in the area - forgot what the minimum sail-by is for streamer.

Wonder what a 2D will buy them - here's what I think: they will image the neighborhood of the well. Anything outside casing should light up the sediments along the well (as is well known). They will be able to tell the depth of any breach. Unless they choose the right azimuth by luck, they will not see much in the way of an extended fissure. They might see a cylindrical blown out zone, though.

I'd spend the time and money - it'll be great information.

Having worked with a bunch of reporters over the years (yeah, I know, I know), many of them are generalists and really unprepared to deal with this kind of subject matter. Most do not have ANY formal training in science, math, geology or engineering, let alone subsea systems or petroleum extraction or chemistry. Many are just lazy or just smart enough to have snagged the jobs they have or both. It's a sad state of affairs in journalmalism right now. Most reporters aspire to move to bigger markets and become courtiers to the wealthy and powerful, so they never really do any reporting that might disturb the status quo or endanger their potential for advancement within The Village's corporate butt-sniffing technocratic pecking order. The closest they get nowadays is playing Gotcha! with idiots too dumb to hide their schemes from reporters. Busting loose with the truth is something only a few of them will ever dare risk, let alone do their homework well enough to ask cogent questions regarding this kind of topic. Sorry, but that's the state of journamalism right now.

Yeah, I can't disagree. But I'm not trained in any of the disciplines your mentioned and I f'ing know that sea floor integrity is a big deal and that the seismic tests could have something to say and that it's a big issue.

Seismic could say what exactly? One or two shot points? or "passive"? It's a cinch they didn't do a checkshot survey. I think this whole public relations exercise is way over the top. They're not going to do anything risky but they hope to try higher pressure and maybe shut it in. And then what? listen to it with geophones? Pththth.

This is a job for downhole pressure measurement, period.

It's a 2D streamer survey and it'll image a traverse through the well. They'll be able to see any fluid leaks into the sediments I expect. Basically look like bright spots following the well trajectory.

And the transcript gives us yet one more title for Thad ...

Admiral Allen is the national innocent commander of this.

A number of reporters were asking variations of the question many of us have been asking - "why are you taking this risk?" Wells sounded as if he's convinced they're minimizing the risk.

And what we’re not about to do is take the risk that if we know we’re losing pressure somewhere that it could be somewhere that could end up breaking around to the sea floor. That’s just not a risk we’re prepared to take. And so the test has been carefully designed to make sure we don’t create a bad situation and yet we’ll find out the information we need to find out whether we have the integrity. So that’s – that’s the whole purpose of that test and we’ll just go forward with the test. We’ll get the information and lets all hope that we get to the higher pressures. Which will mean we can make a decision whether we want to leave the well shut in. or if not, then we’ll know we need to continue on as we are with our containment activities and move – continue to move forward with the relief wells, which we will be doing in all cases anyways.

I am wondering if the transcript was outsourced, maybe to India?


It seems like they have given up for today.

Yes, the well integrity test has been delayed.

The following email was sent out but is not yet on the official site.

Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander::

"Today I met with Secretary Chu, Marcia McNutt and other scientists and geologists as well as officials from BP and other industry representatives as we continue to prepare and review protocols for the well integrity test - including the seismic mapping run that was made around the well site this morning. As a result of these discussions, we decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight and tomorrow.

Both the Helix Producer and the Q4000 collection systems are currently on line with the potential to exceed the containment capability that existed before the sealing cap was installed, and skimmers continue to be surged to the well site in anticipation of any increased oil flow as part of the transition.

eta .. now up on site

They shouldn't delay it, they should cancel it.

Whatever limited integrity the upper wellhead currently has should be saved for the relief well effort. The test will bring up the upper wellhead pressure well in excess of what it will see during a hopefully successful relief well/bottom kill in a couple of weeks.

It makes no sense to waste your only asset on a conservative and very dangerous test, which appears to be a publicity stunt by BP and has little technical relevance to the final success or failure of the relief well effort.

It is unfortunate that so many folks have gotten caught up in the excitement of the moment.

Wonder if they saw something on the seismic. I guess it was processed onboard and they are looking at images a few hours after shooting.

This is getting quite bizarre. Acquisition, migration, depth conversion, line up with BP Macondo 3D dataset, attribute analysis and determine if anything changed subsurface after the blowout? Can't be done. I don't care if they have MIT working day and night. Won't tell them a damn thing conclusively and won't tell them squat tomorrow morning.

2D line.

It'll be processed very quickly. These days, they do 3D surveys at least to DMO stack/postMig onboard. 2D will be easy.

Shallow fluid leaks do not need attribute analysis - they are obvious. Thad Allen could interpret it if there is appreciable volume leaked. If little or no volume leaked, then they reshoot after the integrity test and look for small differences.

They will probably compare with the 3D after a cross-equalization filter. Maybe they'll pull a 2D line from the 3D and compare with that (if same azimuth). Cable feather might be a problem though.

I wouldn't pt MIT on this - just a competent seismic interpreter.


This test is a bad idea and finally someone with an long-term viewpoint looked at the BP test plan.

We have one chance to get this thing closed up and relief well/bottom kill is it. This process is geatly aided by preserving upper well/original BOP integrity as much as possible. The current test can easily destroy whatever pressure integrity is left.

In fact, THE ONLY other way this thing works at all (if relief wells don't work) is "production" from the current wellhead. Which is also destroyed if the wellhead is blown by this test.

To summarize, this test has the capacity, in one shot, to severely compromise the relief well effort and negate the alternative salvage operation as well.

So why do it?

This makes perfect sense to me.

I think this was the logic secretary chu used to end top kill when they did. Conserve that resource for the moment you need it most to execute your best plan. This is not the time to take any unnecessary risks.

I do not know enough to evaluate if that is in fact the situation here, but what is happening seems inconsistent with the rule Chu laid down previously.

"BP says 'integrity' testing on well cap will start soon."

BP does integrity test on itself, finds nothing.


BP does integrity test on itself, finds nothing.

Best one-liner since "...nuke the toilet."

In line with the comments that blowouts are not uncommon those interested in details can click on the link.

There was also a methane blowout last month at a drill site in Northern West Virginia drilling for the marcellus shale, the derrick was destroyed in the fire and workers were burned TG no one was killed. Speculation has it that they were drilling thru an abandoned coal mine but I don't think that was the cause - they just hit a gas pocket and weren't properly protected.

Pa. fines 2 firms over Clearfield gas well blowout
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- State officials have come down hard on two firms deemed responsible for a blowout at a natural gas well being drilled in Clearfield County June 3-4 that spewed 35,000 gallons of chemical-laden "fracking fluid" into the atmosphere and somewhat contaminated a nearby stream.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10194/1072487-113.stm#ixzz0tcHDqNEC

Adm. Allen quoted a max anticipated pressure of 8000 to 9000 psi. Does anyone know if the flex joint (oil states product?) above the original BOP is rated for this pressure? Normally the flex joint wouldn't be expected to see well head shut in pressures. The oil states web site quotes a maximum of 6000 psi for any of their sub sea flex joints.


Hey my numbers checked out.

Why do you want to see if the upper wellhead "can" take 8-9 ksi, if it only "must" withstand 3-4 ksi for successful relief well kill?

I have been asking questions about this test for three days now and arguing against it when the numbers for this test became obvious.

The Feds should stop this "test" immediately. It is a dangerous publicity stunt, with very limited technical benefits. Would look great if they just "shut the well in". Probably would scuttle those takeover rumors.

Not sure I would call this an "upper wellhead" issue. More a problem with the ratings for the original LMRP on up to the new triple BOP. The annular package is 10K, so the connectors in that area are 10K max. After the trauma the DWH inflicted on the upper package I wouldn't be keen on beating on it any more than necessary.

The connector between the original BOP stack and original LMRP is only rated to 10K, the Flex Joint is not designed for well shut-in pressures and has been beaten up big time with the DWH yanking on it then the riser falling over, plus I haven't seen any numbers on the rating for the riser flange connecting the new adapter spool to the Flex Joint. Typically that flange is designed for high mechanical loads rather than high pressure loads...

This does NOT sound like a good idea!!

n.b. For everyone with neat ideas about clamps onto the damaged riser two months ago, you had to get the rest of the damaged riser off of the Flex Joint flange before doing anything that required pressure integrity. The riser itself is NOT designed to hold much pressure as it normally has to deal with mud weight differentials and potential diverter backpressure only.

Just to clarify-- the original flex joint is still in place above the original BOP/LMRP stack and below the new transition spool. I agree shutting in the well & exposing the abused flex joint to high pressures (for which it may have been never designed) doesn't seem like a good idea. I hope they have checked this out.

They could blow a hole in the side of the old BOP or crack the outer casing releasing hydrocarbons into the shallower formations and the bottom kill would still kill the well.


But if you inflict serious damage on the BOP or upper casing strings you are going to have serious (potentially more serious) O/G flows until the relief wells are successful. There is no guarantee they are going to get an adequate relief well intercept on the first pass.

If they do get an adequate intercept, there is no guarantee they will be able to kill the WW quickly.

If you can't close the ram package on the new BOP stack, you lose the ability to generate a mud column to surface during the bottom kill operation, so you have a problem with equilibrium between the relief well and wild well. The will cause problems both during the kill operation with drilling mud, and more seriously during the cementing operation later.

Why take the chance when you can achieve 100% capture now? The only major risk with not achieving shut-in immediately is a hurricane...

From: Inventor Afif Abou-Raphael

I am very happy that finally BP and the US Coast Guard have decided to use my proposition to stop the spill after more than a month and a half since I first contacted both, and after I had sent them all the details like drawings and explanations.

One e-mail I had sent in the beginning to the White House through their published e-mail address, and there I could not send any drawings. Only thing I did send them was a brief detailed proposition with the site of my patent


which is the solution for this kind of disaster. The White House didn’t even bother with my e-mail and I didn’t receive any answer. That was around mid May. After I had called BP and I had sent them by e-mail mostly everything they needed to understand what needed to be done to completely stop the spill.

After not receiving any answer from BP, I decided to contact The American Coast Guard USCG.
Explicit details and drawings were sent to them, with calculations of the weight that is needed to keep the plug in place.

The plug is exactly what BP is using now to stop the spill.

I am wondering; why didn’t they use it when I sent it to them and before that big spill grew to be a disaster that will stay for many years to come.

My other big surprise is; when the President of BP was questioned at the House of Representatives directly on TV.

I called, and spoke to a secretary present during the questioning, and asked her to transfer me to a any state representative who is questioning the BP’s president in order to ask him why BP is not trying my effective proposition, when they were talking to stop the spill in August.

The secretary said that she can’t do it. Then she was supposed to send me an e-mail address where they can look at my proposal carefully. The result is the secretary didn’t send me anything.

Now I am surprised and happy at the same time to see my idea is what is being used to stop the disaster, but after more than one and half month of oil flowing into the ocean (they say about 100000 barrels a day).

I am expecting at least a thankful letter from the Coast Guard and from BP.

Invntor Afif Abou-Raphael


Note: (I am willing to send copies of all the correspondences that I have sent them, and the USCG, that show drawings and explanations).