BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Awaiting the Integrity Test - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6729.

Ah! The joys of trying to work out what is happening at the seabed around the leaking well in the Gulf, and relying on the images from the ROV cameras. Consider the image that I have just pulled up from the Enterprise ROV 1, which BP has designated as “looking for leaks.” Not wishing to be querulous but that looks suspiciously like a diamond cutting saw in the ROV’s clasp.

Image from the Enterprise ROV 1 – “performing leak monitoring.”

On that little note of caution, there does seem to be some delay, or perhaps “slow, methodical, unseen progress” in regard to closing the valves etc in order to test the integrity of the well. At roughly 10 pm Eastern, the flow does not appear to have changed much, if at all, and the BP site notes that the test has not yet started. (Nor has it two hours later having finished writing this post).

The white pipe is injecting dispersant that changes the color of the oil/gas to more brown and seems to be coming in spurts rather than regularly at the moment, but this may be because of the changes in the equipment below the leak, which is likely siphoning off a considerable volume from the well.

I do note, however that Secretary Chu came down to monitor the test today, and this may have a little impact on the schedules.

His involvement in the spill has been continually underlined by the Administration.

Secretary Chu assembled a scientific team of top scientists and has made three trips to Houston, monitoring the progress of BP's effort to contain the leak and helping to design the strategies for moving forward. The team includes:

  • Dr. Tom Hunter, Director of the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories
  • Dr. George A. Cooper, an expert in materials science and retired professor from UC Berkeley
  • Richard Lawrence Garwin, a physicist and IBM Fellow Emeritus
  • Dr. Alexander H. Slocum, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT

(Ed. note - George Cooper, whom I know and respect, is a retired petroleum engineer)

Secretary Chu is on the phone with his science team a minimum of 1-2 times a day, 7 days a week, and the calls frequently last 90 minutes or more. Secretary Chu and members of his team also have a dialogue with BP executives each morning.

They visited the BOP manufacturer (Cameron) and their main competitor (National Oilwell Varco) back in May, and have had, among other things, the following input to the operation:

Due to our suggestion, BP used high energy gamma rays to image parts of the internal state of the BOP. Lab personnel have independently analyzed the 2D gamma ray images. That imaging is crucial in helping understand what is happening inside the BOP and informing the approach moving forward. For example, it told engineers which valves and rams inside the BOP were closed and which were open, and it showed that a piece of drill pipe was stuck inside the BOP. Trying to determine what was wrong with the BOP without this information is akin to determining why your car has stopped running if you have no working gauges and can't open the hood.

• They strongly encouraged BP to collect additional pressure measurements, which were very valuable in interpreting the behavior of the well and BOP after each top kill and/or junk shot attempt, and ultimately those measurements helped the government and BP determine that the top kill was not going to work and that it was time to move on. The measurements also showed that the top kill attempts did not significantly erode the BOP.

• During the top kill attempts, the team suggested rechecking all of the hydraulics on the BOP, which BP did. As a result, one of the pipe ram valves closed more tightly and provided more resistance to the flow.

• The team conducted an extensive suite of structural analyses to assess the stability of the riser system in support of the choke and kill series.

• The team conducted an independent set of analyses to explain the oil and mud flow during the choke and kill series. This provided an understanding of the operational limits of the containment system going forward.

The list does not, however, appear to have been updated since June 15th.

After the visit today Admiral Allen issued the following statement:

"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. The drilling of relief wells also continues- the first relief has been drilled to a depth of 17,840 feet below the Gulf surface, and the second to a depth of approximately 15,963 feet below the surface."

The time of the more than 200 scientists and engineers that the Secretary has involved in these decisions is no doubt a part of the $99.7 million bill that the Administration presented to BP today. BP have already paid previous bills totaling $122.3 million to the Administration.

In today’s briefing the Admiral noted that the seismic run that was carried out Tuesday morning was to provide a baseline measurement of the seabed condition before the pressurization test of the well casing occurred. It also had to be carried out in daylight, since the vessel running the sensors had to steam through the fleet assembled around the well, and the sensors also were likely to be degraded by too much adjacent noise as they ran the scan.

He also corrected the sequence for the close down of the flows out of the well. (My concern yesterday) The sequence is

When we get ready to start the well integrity test, we will first cease production through the Q4000 and the Helix Producer I. We will then divert all the hydrocarbons up into the new capping stack. Valves through the kill and the choke lines for the new capping stack will be opened. And the center bore is already open. So we will be venting basically through three different exits on the capping stack, the kill line and the choke line, and the main line going through the bore.

Then in sequence we will attempt to close the stack down and assess the pressure readings. As we do that, the first thing we will do is close the main ram. There are three rams. The middle one will be closed and that will basically shut off the flow outward through the top of the capping stack. At that point we’ll take pressure readings. We will then close the kill line, which is the second remaining outlet and take pressure readings.

The third and most critical will be the choke line. There is a special device that has been built on the capping stack. You will see it. If you look at the video, it is yellow. It is long horizontally and it is a curved up pipe for the exit of the hydrocarbons. That choke line will be controlled by a remotely operating vehicle, which will slowly close it incrementally. And this is going to be very, very important because we want to measure the amount of closure, which will be measured gradually by turns of that choke line valve by an ROV simultaneously taking pressure readings.

The goal is to slowly close that down and understand the changes in pressure as we are closing it until that choke line is closed. At that point, there’ll be no hydrocarbons exiting from the capping stack. And we will go into a period where we’re going to start taking pressure readings. It will go in basically 6, 24, and 48 hour increments depending on the results.

Once the well is shut in then the pressure at the BOP (which is monitored by transducers and not the visible gages) should rise to between 8 and 9,000 psi (which Admiral Allen, a long time ago, had said was monitored just downstream of the BOP at the start of remediation). This is the anticipated value when the weight of the oil/gas column is subtracted from the pressure in the bottom of the well. Anything less than this will indicate that there may be some problems within the body of the well. Incidentally, the gages that the ROVs are monitoring are monitoring pressures in the accumulator lines that run the hydraulics of the rams and power tools.

The Admiral was also more precise on the exact location of the relief well

Development Driller III is now at 17,840 feet measured depth. They’ve been there for a day or two. They are doing testing to make sure they have the right angle of attack as they close in for the last 60 or 70 feet before they’ll actually try and make the penetration for the relief well.

And the current estimate of how far away they are from the condo well at this point is four feet four inches. So you can imagine this gets pretty precise as they’re trying to go down another 60 or so feet and actually hit the point where they can drill into the annulus and potentially to a seven inch casing pipe. So that continues as well.

The Admiral noted that they are on pace to have 1,000 skimmers along the coast by the end of the month, and that they are using 2 million tyvek suits a month (the suits worn in cleaning the beaches) and there is a growing concern about the national supply of these.

And he pointed out that a part of the shut-down process will be visible.

What we will do in sequence is we will stop production on the Q4000 and the Helix Producer I and remove the way for the hydrocarbons to exit through the kill and the choke lines on the original blow out preventer. That will move to three exit points, the choke and the kill lines of the capping stack and then the top opening of the capping stack. Then we will in sequence first, there are three rams that are a part of the capping stack. The middle ram will be closed. That will seal the upper opening from any hydrocarbon release. That will leave us the kill and the choke lines.

The kill line will then be closed as well. Now remember this is either open or shut. That will leave the choke line of the capping stack as a last way for hydrocarbons to exit from the capping stack. And that is set up with a specially designed engineered and built, you’ll be able to see it on the video. It’s a horizontal, yellow piece of equipment that has a pipe that curves up where the hydrocarbons would exit and at the other end there’s a place to insert a tool with a remotely operated vehicle and then slowly close the valve, which we will do that while we are taking pressure readings.

This is the control panel he was talking about, taken at 5 pm Eastern.

BP is also now holding twice daily briefings. In the Tuesday morning one Kent Wells gave the actual timeline for the 3-ram stack installation

First in terms of the capping stack, last night at 6:20 pm we actually landed the stack on top of the transition spool. By 7:00 we had it fully connected and sealed on top of that device. And then at 8:30 we actually disconnected the drill pipe from the drill ship enterprise from it and so it was in place and free standing at that point in time.

The tests of the flow to the Helix Producer showed that it could sustain flows of up to 12,500 bd (as high as they went). He slightly corrected the Admiral on the relief well:

The first relief well is at 17,840 feet. Right now we’re running another survey to confirm the distance from the Macondo well, the direction from the Macondo well and the inclination of it.

We only have another 30 feet to drill before our final casing point and so we want to make sure that this well is perfectly lined up. So that’s why we’re doing this confirmation run. We’ll do that then we’ll trip back in the hole and we’ll drill that final 30 feet. Then we’ll come back in and what we call open up the hole to make it large enough to run the casing and most likely we’ll be running casing in the hall on Sunday, but of course there can be variability to that. But what I would say is that we’re on track and I’m still looking for the most likely intercept of the Macondo well being at the end of July.

He went on to say, in regard to that intersection

So the inclination we’re looking for at the bottom is somewhere in the range of two to two and a half degrees and we think we’re in that range, we just want to confirm that. And that lines us up as we then – after we set the casing I’ll come back and talk about that in a second. We’ll have about 100 to 150, 200 feet to drill to intersect and that two degree angle allows us to do that in that period of time. So that’s why we want that particular angle.

In the Tuesday afternoon briefing he pointed out that when the sequence of tests on the 3-ram stack begins:

. . . down below two rams there’s a what we call our flow T and there’s two sides to it and that’s where the flow would be coming out when we actually shut one of the rams.

However, as I pointed out at the start of this post (and as still holds true), the integrity test has yet to be initiated.

Prof. Goose's comment:

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

BP (and industry) seemed unprepared for a problem like that. Possibly everybody lived in denial - we have a BOP after all. Now BOP "blew up", so BP (and feds too) had to learn a lot, fast, and unfortunately "on the job". Will this knowledge be spread to other companies or stay inside BP - as proprietary?

Given that all of the learnings are available to the "Incident Command" (CG, BP, US Govt) I doubt there is anything considered proprietary and I expect future regulations to include preparation of more devices that have been constructed to deal with this disaster for industry use in the future.

HO, great update. Thanks.

I love the smell of perspiration in the morning.

I read a post in a different thread where someone was acknowledging the hard and good work of those trying to fix the problems in the gulf. I would like to join in the appreciation and support giving my thanks and gratitude too.

God knows I'm not capable of fixing it and in my IMHO we're indebted to the capable engineers, workers, ROV pilots, and all the others involved in fixing this mess.

People .. the solution to this mess at this point may be 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.... which sniffing around here may help us understand why the gulf smells like it does. :)


I also want to echo my appreciation to the many engineers, technicians, scientists and other experts from wherever they have come to deal with this.

In medicine they refer to the practice of anesthesia as 99% boredom with 1% pure terror. Not exactly analagous but it does compare to the "sweat" part of your comment --

I believe there is a classic maritime saying: "Sailing is like war -- hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments when you fear for your life."

Hmmm... please be neither bored nor terrified if'n ya have to knock me out.... and if you are, at least be interested in waking me back up. This is why I NEVER go to doctors voluntarily. I don't want to find out anything's wrong with me. I enjoy not being patient.

It's a guy thing and now you know why. :)

Your point about being neither bored nor terrified is understood. What the saying implies is not that anesthesiologists are bored or terrified, which is not the case, but that the emotional rollercoster can go from a very quiet, steady state with little departure from the norm on all the dials and equipment that reveal a patients status, to things heading south, such as an unanticipated bleeding event, etc., sometimes very quickly. Anesthesiologists are very good at what they do and there are many back ups to prevent problems and "pure terror". I was exagerrating for the sake of humor. Please don't avoid care based at any point that you need it based on my lame attempt at humor.

Same applies to commercial pilots: one moment you fly absolutely routine takeoff, next you have half a dozen gees in both engines (Hudson landing) . All you will hear on the transcript was a brief "ahhh", more of a surprise than 'fear'. Training takes over, adrenaline stays low. Quintessential cool, calm and connected.

Experienced well driller belong to the same category?

I have 15 hours in a Cessna 152 :)

I watched the 1977 Tennerife crash on NOVA last night. Then watched the special on the 2007 Oshkosh airplane show and watched as two P-51's landed about simultaneously at the same time and place on the runway. WOW.

Flying is fun, but I think there is something universally concerning about abrupt stops; or unplanned, hard landings.

Similarly, all the people here seem to be worried about suddenly stopping the gusher in the gulf. I say just plug it. Sheesh

See nym but I can assure you that in other forms of engineering you go o...k then a whole new mode automagically kicks in until all is over then step back and look at what has happened, frequently over a pint :)


LOL... I got the humor. Thanks. It was me trying to be funny that was lame... and that's no excuse to see a doc either. Last "physical" I had was a few yeas ago. I'm now approaching years old enough to be considered aged and wise in some cultures.

Firefighter physical a few years ago:

The short and arguably morbidly obese, bloodshot eyes, smoking, stressed out, and substance abusing "doc" said at 6'1" and 195 I need to start watching my weight. As you age things can go downhill fast.

Your blood pressure was 100/60 which is kind of low and should be watched. Has it always been on the low side? Your resting heart rate of 45 is low too. Should I raise both of them doc? I mean, I could go easier on diet and exercise, ya know, eat pizza & ice cream (Blue Bell?) some more and watch tv. No, as you age it's good to be increasingly disciplined.

Your cholesterol level is 119. Hey doc, is that the good ones or bad ones? Uh, at 119 it doesn't matter, they're all good.

Your lung results are quite a bit above the normal range for the average male your age. Is that good, doc? Yeah, unless you run short of air sometime... as he coughs out a laugh.

Any good news doc? You said my eyesight is 20/13. That's good isn't it? Yes, for now. You'll need glasses one day. When? Who knows. Hey doc, am I healthy enough or anything should I do differently?

Well, you're healthy enough you'll be able to come see me again next year. My receptionist will make an appointment if you want.

We'll see, doc. Right now I have a new motorcyle rumored to go about 175 MPH and I want to find out. I'll be sure to lay off the pizza's and (Blue Bell - why Blue Bell?) Ice cream, exercise more and sleep well. I want to live healthy as long as possible.

Yeah, live hard, die young & quick, be happy. Ahhhh.... screw the docs. :)

We'll see, doc. Right now I have a new motorcyle rumored to go about 175 MPH and I want to find out. I'll be sure to lay off the pizza's and (Blue Bell - why Blue Bell?) Ice cream, exercise more and sleep well. I want to live healthy as long as possible.

You would have made a great fighter pilot and or astronaut..and with that bike a good organ donor too!!

"You would have made a great fighter pilot and or astronaut..and with that bike a good organ donor too!!"

LOL.... thanks. Funny you should mention it. My dad worked on Apollo 5-11, Mariner, B-1, Space Shuttle, etc. and after college (actually after Top Gun) I nearly went into the military as a pilot. I qualified for FS, OCS but chose biz instead. Sheesh.

I got rid of the bike a year ago though I am still listed as a donor on my license. :) I had a buddy wipe out three times, me none BTW, and noticed; the better you got the faster you rode and the greater chances you took. It seemed a downward spiral of false confidence and luck and I got rid of it out of either fear or respect... I can't tell which. I had some great memories though.

One yuppy mom-type was going slower on the freeway than I thought she could, even though she was multi-tasking with latte, phone, food, kids, etc. so, I rode an 80 MPH wheelie past her... I think she dropped the food down her blouse and spilled coffee in her lap. I can't remember if she flipped me off but I doubt it since she looked kind of churchy. :)

Nice list of positive inputs from Chu and external science team. What about the negatives like delays because consensus decisions take far longer and are often no better than hierarchical decisions. Was pressure test delayed because Chu wanted to be on site?

I was on the beach in Gulfport yesterday and noticed that the pickup crews miss a lot of the tarballs. I wonder if the just try to get the ones above the high tide line?

We can count on you and many here to remind us of all the negatives as regularly as clock work.. no problem with overlooking that

With the kill well nearing completion why would BP & USCG take a chance on catastrophically damaging the well or original valving? The engineering that has gone into the new valving & its installation seems amazing! Why not just throttle back and try and capture everything now and wait for kill well? Is there something they are not telling us about probability of success of kill well? Hope I'm not repeating anything and wasting your folks time. If so just point me to past threads if you have time. I really value all you do and have sent in $$ a few times. God bless and stay safe all. Dave

It is certainly curious that a decision on such a major step as pressurizing the well would not have been fully nailed down well in advance. We have instead had a stop-go situation emerge in the last few hours before the test was about to begin!

I understand that a weather window mandated the installation of the new cap, but it would seem that FairDealDaveNH has a good point, and that maybe we just have to live with the flow rate and save our powder until the vital time of bottom kill is reached. Alternatively, partially increase pressures and monitor -rather than going for the risky full shut-in test.

Reiterate my $100 wager that any full shut-in test will be aborted within a few minutes (under a half hour) because it's going to leak subsurface.

I guess I was thinking more along the lines that they are checking to see if there is a leak in the well that will prevent the bottom kill approach to fail as well. That would seem to me to be the only reason to take this much of a chance with the kill well this close and the ability with the new cap to capture most of the oil and gas while waiting.

As Rockman said, the relief well will succeed by pumping mud from below, no matter what the subsurface problems are. Cementing is a much more complicated task.

Hello Everyone,

Been reading TOD for many years, ever since I first took the red pill after watching End of Suburbia about 2006, but have never commented before. Anyways...

If this is true, does that mean DougR may have been right?

Well, no, but perhaps partially correct given the circumstances. I mean, you never know but people who know are confidant there is a probablity something is going to happen. I wouldn't worry about it, it's a complicated matter best left to the experts at BP and the gov't. That said, it's a crapshoot but relax, we won't know until we know... know what I mean?

Chances are good the well will either explode, run dry or be stopped but at some point the gulf will be better than ever. The presuure testing you are hearing about is to verify the level of anxiety in the populace with respect for the upcoming elections and their sensitivity to the minor concerns in our world compared to the economy, health care, the budget deficit, rumors of middle eastern nuclear conflagration and Nibiru. So, maybe.

Nothing is certain about the relief well working or in what time frame it will be completed. Having multiple approaches to the problem is a very good idea and increases the chance of getting a good solution.

My take is that if they can not get enough of a fit to maintain pressure, then once the relief well is set, they will not be able to fill the wild well with a mud column high enough to stop the flow unless they can build the mud column to sea level. If they can't get a seal, fill the well and lose mud at the BOP, the column will not develop enough pressure to stop the flow. If they try to fill the column from TD to the BOP with a heavy enough mud to kill the flow, then they may have extreme hole problems with fracturing and lost fluids, etc.



All of your concerns are valid, imho.

Couple of thoughts on this...doing an integrity test as it is called, could have more to do with determining the ultimate size of the fine than needing the data for the relief well or whatever they are saying now. They seem desparate to know the flow rate. They have all the data they need for the calculation except shut in pressure and a couple values for pressure drawdown at measured rates followed by buildup over several time values.

Granted, having the ability to shut in the well at some point will greatly enhance the kill operation from the RW but that shut in can be done later with way less pressure at the bop's after having filled the well with mud from bottom to the bops.

Don't know whether BP or Govt put the delay in effect but I'm glad someone is rethinking the shut in. Trying to kill a well that is flowing underground after rupturing the casing on a shut in test will be much more difficult, but not impossible, than doing it with the casing intact or mostly so.IMHO

Also, my eyes are not that good anymore but it sure looks to me that there is some leakage around the stack at some fittings below the yellow nipple that was installed the other day.

Interesting. I too thought I saw leaking from the base of the flex joint but didn't say anything about it being less than mushroom food in the scheme of things.

I think the flex joint may be the weak link above ground. If what I hear is true, escaping oil & gas flow under pressure begins erosion and enlarges quickly given the opportunity.

Anyway, things must be going great. I don't hear a whole lot of anything negative coming from TPTB. That's good, isn't it? :)

doing an integrity test as it is called, could have more to do with determining the ultimate size of the fine than needing the data for the relief well or whatever they are saying now. They seem desparate to know the flow rate. They have all the data they need for the calculation except shut in pressure and a couple values for pressure drawdown at measured rates followed by buildup over several time values

Do you agree that "the size of the fine" is an important determining factor in the success of a top kill and that if they underestimated the flow they likely could have used too fine particles in the mud during their top kill attempts?

That would mean that they prematurely terminated the top kill because the mud took too long to settle in the well while most of it flowed out the riser downstream of the kink. They did report that the flow had stopped for a while. In effect, they effed up and could have done a succesful top kill but chickened out too early. Nearly two months of leakage that ought to have been prevented. I do not think most people here realize that if they successfully stop the flow, the next easy step would be to do a top kill in a non-flow situation (that's why they have kill & choke lines on BOPS, kids). Close in the well and then top kill it and the problem is solved well before they can even attempt the bottom kill with the RW. Then they rearrange the ships and do a proper cement job and abandon the well.

I dunno. They held the details of the top kill very close to their vests and I never did see any pumping rates vs pressures or where the pressures were taken etc etc. I admit, who are we, the public, to be entitled to all that data, but I sure was curious.


Some possible reasons, articulated earlier, either by Wells, Allen, etc or via speculation here, included:

1. If the pressure holds steady, they could keep the well closed until the RW finishes, thus totally eliminating flow into the sea (plus ending dispersant use.)

2. Although they should have the capacity to collect all the flow in a couple of weeks (if it is not >80000 bbls/day), they would have to disconnect the vessels during a hurricane, thus reverting to dumping oil, gas and disperant.

3. Running the test is supposed to let them know if and where there are leaks in the well, information that would be useful during the bottom kill procedure.

Whether or not those three are worth enough to risk executing the integrity test is totally above my pay grade.

Thank HO~

I just heard the tail end of the news while leaving for work, I thought I heard the drilling of the RW has been stopped (could be wrong as I was rushing as usual), and am worried about why the integrity test have been delayed because being new to learning about the oil industry, and all the technical issues involved....so if Rockman or anyone here that can answer I have 2 questions, first why have put the drilling of the RW "on hold", maybe it's a safety issue ??

Secondly, exactly what is the integrity test......is it shutting the valves to test the pressure and if so is it being delayed beacause it could compromise the WW, or some other reason possibly due to the seismic testing etc.

Sorry if this has been covered and I missed it and thanks in advance for any input.


According to Kent Wells briefing. The RW drilling is stopped while they trip out the drill string for a final ranging check then cementing in the last bit of casing before the intersection. In other words, things are progressing, just nothing is moving at the moment

This link says they stopped the RW until the tests have been done on the new cap. Was it halted for ranging or for cap testing or both?


BP says it halted drilling on a relief well meant to plug its Gulf of Mexico oil leak for good while it prepares to test a temporary cap on the well.

Kent Wells, a senior vice president in the company, said at a Wednesday morning news briefing they were delaying drilling by up to 48 hours on the well that is supposed to reach the broken one underground and plug it with mud and cement.

Wells said it was a precaution.

It was the latest delay for BP after it postponed testing of a new cap on top of the well by 24 hours late Tuesday. The cap is a stopgap measure designed to keep the oil in the well or funnel it to ships until the relief well is done.

Is it possible that they fear that closing off the new cap could create so much down hole pressure that it would damage the relief well if it was too close?

That was one of my worries, but hell - I am not a geologist, engineer nor anyone who would have a clue what the reasoning would be, so I tend to speculate from what I read here and hope someone will stop me if I am going in the wrong direction and further try to educate me on these issues


mummsie -- Could really damage the RW. Even if the shut the WW in it could only build a bottom hole pressure as high as 11,900 psi. Even if the rock between the RW and the WW were to collapse they still have a sufficient MW in the RW to handle the pressure. But such a collpase could make running that last string of csg in the RW more difficult.

Hi ROCKMAN. If the RW fails for some reason is it possible to insert an explosive device using the kill well bore to implode the base of the leaking well?

mummsie/fair --first a typo: meant to say "wouldn't". Fair -- we have explosive charges (called a "gas gun") we can run down the hole to do exactly what you describe. But I don't believe it would be possibile to seal the WW this way. Remember there's 50,000+ bbls of oil flowing at 11,900 psi thru that hole. The explosion might frac the rock and make it collapse but I'm sure that collapsed rock would blow right up and out of the well along with the current stream.

Thanks for the info. ROCKMAN. I think we are now approaching the need for some Divine specialized help so I just asked God to help us all out! We got the message...now we need a miracle. Speaking of miracles ... your professionalism over these 80+ days and unbelievable patience with many of us is very much appreciated. I can't figure out why they have not asked for you to be on the Dream Team! You have my vote. Dave

You're welcome dave. But they couldn't afford to have me on the team. Not talking salary...just my Blue Bell allotment. I'm glad to have this opportunity on TOD. It allows me to fullfil an obligation very important to me.

Has anyone tried Bluebell Strawberry Cheescake flavor? I ate the whole container within a day and and a half, so good.

If there is communication between the two wells during the test might they start pumping mud for a kill or just try and hold things stable?


Thanks RM......I hope your "ill" well is better today.

mummsie -- I'll know in a couple of hours when we get back to drilling. I hope so...can't get by with a couple of sleepless nights like I could when I was 10 years younger. But I did perfect the power nap years ago. Back in January I truly amazed my two young company men. Except for meals and potty breaks I sat in their office on the barge rig 24 hrs a day for 3 weeks. I would just lean my head over and nap for a couple of hours...in the middle of the afternoon with folks in and out of the office and all the rig noise around me. Honestly I can often sleep more comfortably sitting in a chair than in a bed.

LOL~did you have your coke bottle for the potty break! I do understand about needind a power nap and I can sleep at my desk with my feet up if the phones quit ringing, but my favorite spot to snooze is the couch on the deck, listening to the waves crash......I do prefer that over my bed also.

mummsie -- Actually there's a little secret to my apparent madness for those three weeks on the rig. I was recovering from double knee surgery and laying flat in a bed was the most uncomfortable position for me. Getting up from a chair was more painful than walking so another reason for staying immobile. The Coke bottle...no...even with us redneck types on a rig we don't do that in front of each other. Fortunately the coman's potty was just 10' away. Also...always have a supply of ear plugs in my pocket.

Mr. Rockman:

Thanks for confirming or adding to the database to support my continuing decision to put off knee surgery. I have been putting up with screwed up knees for over 35 years and seeing others suffering thru that surgery has always convinced me i can get along without it.

Here's hoping for a full recovery.

By the way, i have really enjoyed your comments over the past few days.


You'll know when you need the new knee(s). I had one done 4 yrs ago and it was well worth the aggravation - there is some discomfort involved (and for proper results you have to follow rehab instructions). I salute RM for doing 2 at once but it's probably better than two separate operations.

In my case the pain after the operation, at 2-3 weeks, was less than pre-op. It gave me part of my life back as I couldn't ski much any more and stairs were becoming a problem. The evaluation x-ray showed full bone-on-bone and I had worn over 3/8" off the lower bone. No wonder it was sore at times.

Am now 5 weeks into my first hip replacement. It's much easier than the knee - one crutch after 1 week, none after 2. Modern medicine (at least in this case) is pretty amazing. And luckily I have good health insurance with my retirement so, for the moment, I avoided the death panel.

Moose -- I liked your nice comment until the last sentence. Seriously, death panel? Hmmm -- you couldnt be making some snarky reference to health care reform -- ya know, the initiative that will help everyone who needs it have the opportunity for a good outcome like you?

I apologize if I am getting an incomplete picture of things, but knee surgery has advanced quite a bit over the last few years and both recovery and improved functionality have been greatly improved. Even the anesthesia is way better with the use of regional nerve blocks that allow the surgeons to avoid putting people "to sleep" with more heavy anesthesia - which prolongs recovery time. People, depending on the type of surgery, go home the same or early next day and are active real quick. Pain is much less as the less invasive techniques using arthroscopy are less traumatic to tissue and therefore you heal faster..

Anyway, all this to say, if you are gimping around in pain and having to rework a lot of what you are doing day to day to avoid pain and an unstable knee that you can't use without thinking, you just might want to think a little longer on it.

I've had several reconstructive surgeries on both knees at the same time (during which I had to remind myself how much fun I had playing football) where I had to sleep lying flat for three weeks at a time which wasn't good for me either. Overall, worse that the surgery itself. We forget about these little things like being able to roll over in bed when we can't do them. Candidate for double replacements now but holding off as long as I can.

Get better soon!

bb -- Yep...the BBK (Brotherhood of the Bad Knees). LOL. The left one worked but the right is worse than ever. The problem is that I can't schedule enough time off the rigs to get that knee done. I suspect it will be a total replacement.

I have had 3 knee surgerys. I feel your pain man! Hope your getting better. I find lots of light exercise helps alot, I bicycle (no impact on the joint).
Cold pack on the knee may help, try setting a 1/2 gallon of Blue Bell on your knee (must be eaten before it melts).

Wow hazman-- 3 legged. And then say Texans brag a lot.

LOL, 707. Little did you know I do live in San Antonio Texas! Thing are BIGGER in Texas.

Delete: sent message twice

Wow -- sounds like you had surgery recently?

If so, keep up that rehab and stay on top of the pain with ice and advil like drugs --

Getting up from a chair puts a lot of pressure on the knee caps and until you build up those quads enough, and the joint heals, its not fun, for sure..

Wells' explanation this morning for suspending work on RW1 while the integrity test is going on:

And then in terms of the DD3, what we’re doing now is we’re just – as a precaution we’ve stopped drilling at 17,840 until after we do the well integrity test. What I’m thinking is there is we’re only four feet away horizontally from the well and there is a possible scenario that during the shut in test if you were to get flow out the backside and there was something that you could get pressure to in the relief well, we would want to be in the best position to be actually able to notice that (inaudible). so we don’t believe actually that’s going to happen, but I think it’s a really good safe precaution to do that and so that’s why we’re doing that and then we’ll be in a position to commence drilling and setting the casing as soon as the test is over.

7/14 am Wells briefing (pdf)

Thanks deadmen.....I obviously worry a bit since I live at one of the ground zero beaches and I thought it very well could be something like that, but the integrity test and the "need more analysis" stmt worries me that it could be something seismic related OR maybe they didn't want to risk it if doing so could possibly damage the casing/WW more thereby making it an unnecessary risk.

Just check, check and check again. Then go back and check it over. It's a big one they plan to do so they are welcome to take their time. I just wish they could collect from the top while they do.


I tuned into the briefing while driving and this was my takeway:

  • There are two teams involved in the well integrity tests: 1) operations - to check ROV and equipment 2) scientists - goal is to acquire information with the least amount of risk
  • The scientist team decided immediately following the technical briefing yesterday that they needed a better real time grip on the data which will be recorded by the integrity tests. To be specific: the plots of time vs shut in pressure readings . In other words a pressure loss at time t 2 is going to mean something entirely different from a pressure loss at time t 3.
  • RW operations are stopped for the duration of the integrity tests. If one listened carefully I heard this:Since the integrity tests impose some risk to the bottom hole conditions , and since the RW is only 4' horizontally from the WW--- well, let's not get any closer since we could mess it up a little more
  • Pressure gauges: The pressure gauges seen in any of the ROV feeds are NOT the ones recording the test. These pressure vs. time results are being transmitted real time back to the teams.

What I wanted to ask : Why can't the public see footage of the pressure data as it comes across the monitors in command central? Can BP make that available either by video footage, Google spreadsheets, or whatever.

UGHH!!! I really hope this motivation to pressure test is not solely for a science experiment. The Chernobyl accident was the result of a science experiment gone wrong. My understanding is they wanted to test actual free wheel capacity vs. the theoretical model.

Pressure loss at any time is a bad thing. As soon as they start shutting in the well the pressure will rise rather quickly. I can't see the timing making any difference as they just don't know how things are underground. The more they can close it the better, so close X%, wait Y time, close X1%, wait Y1 time, and on and on until the last iteration you get to 100% closed (or max safe pressure) and then (hopefully) hold it until the RW does it's job. I think slamming it shut would be very bad but how fast to close it is the issue. I bet that is the holdup, the Gubbmint Scientists and the BP Engineers don't agree on the parameters.

1. I've heard the drilling of the second relief well has been stopped because further progress could intersect the reservior and create risks to the 1st relief well as well as present further blowout risks to the second relief well.

2. They have to test the integrity of the casing of the well to know if the cap will work. If they're able to build pressure, the casing is still whole and they can continue. If pressure does not build, somewhere the casing is compromised and oil is being diverted somewhere. I don't know why its being delayed. No details were given. It could be that Chu just wanted to read over the engineering before going ahead or develop another backup plan if pressure does not build.

I had heard already IIRC yesterday about the 2nd RW drilling stopped, I was just unclear why the first one was.

I also understood about integrity test and how too low a pressure could mean a possible leak somewhere else and the casing issue, I was just looking for possible scenarios that would make the decision to stop the integrity test since we have no real explanation other than "further analysis needed".....but I also am curious do we really need to shut this in with the integrity test if it could possibly compromise the 1st RW's chance of success.

Again, if my questions make aren't exactly worded properly I apologize-I am just trying to figure out the reasoning behind the decision since we are kinda of left hanging to speculate.

[quote]"I am just trying to figure out the reasoning behind the decision since we are kinda of left hanging to speculate."[/quote]

Right...of all the abuses being done to our nation and its people by B.P. and our government, this one is the hardest to stomach. There is ZERO excuse for not allowing access (at least controlled access) to the region of the disaster and to information.

Filtered news is really not news when you think about it. It's propaganda.

No wonder conspiracy theories run rampant.

But maybe that's what they want too??

There is controlled access. But we'd all like more and better information. Part of the problem is the questionable quality of the fourth estate.

Well, "far less restrictive controlled access" then and far more frequent and ubiquitous public access. The only thing that should limit access is legitimate concern about the risk of boat/plane accidents due to congestion. Certainly, we are a LONG, LONG way from that at present.

At least the embedded reporters in the latest wars always had the possibility of deathbed confessions, change of heart (full disclosure), book royalties tempting them, what have you, at some point after their experiences.

This way, Big Brother totally controls the "memory hole," and the people of planet Earth will never know what really happened here.

It's like someone comes to your house, dumps trash all over the lawn, flings dirt and excement all over you house and then says, and "don't you dare come outside and see what we're doing." And the police stand back and smile and work with the criminals to keep you locked up inside.

So what access do you want that you're not getting? Be specific, otherwise I'll have to conclude you're just trolling the site.

I'll answer. Well log, all of it from mudline to TD.

Look upthread, somebody posted a government site where they have a slide show with the well log - but they show the pay zone and a few hundred feet above it.

Myself, I'd like to have the well log, the seismic cube, their drilling procedures, the daily drilling reports, and so on, but there does seem to be a reasonable access, and I don't think most of the guys running with foam coming out of their mouths would know what to do with the well log.

I wonder, if I take the log with the pay zone, and print it on a t-shirt is that a copyright violation? It would be one hell of an inside joke.

The only thing that was interesting on public release was the pressure gradient and bottom reservoir pressure. For me, the interesting story is at 12,000 SSTVD and the faulted section with stuck tools that had to be bypassed. Halliburton was much more forthcoming than BP, and if it weren't for Waxman's staff we wouldn't have anything from the damn operator.

avon -- I'm with you. The only part of the well BP should have been concerned with sharing with other operators is the pay section. If you weren't aware the reservoir may extend under two offset leases that BP doesn't own. Those two other operators tried to partner with BP in their well but were eventually turned down (lucky them). But now with the log in hand they should have an idea if the field is worth developing on their side of the lease line. But the shallow part of the log doesn't have any value other than us having a look-see.

So they have stuck tools in an old hole they sidetracked? I didn't know that. And they have offset leases other people own? Poor guys, imagine what it's going to take for them to get drilling permits to develop the unit.

fd -- I think I remember they left the BHA in the hole. And I'm told the offset lease holders negotiated with BP for a long time trying to form a voluntary unit but BP eventually rejected the idea. Both companies were very small compared to BP. Even if they each only hasd 5% or so the final bill could have easily burned them to the ground.

There has been a real problem with the reporting of this whole situation by most of the media from the start of this story. Reporters always want more access (part of their job and we must respect that). However, for the most part, most reporters have poorly reported the not-insignificant amount of available information that is out there. This arises, IMHO, from the media's reporters and editors having very little grounding in science or engineering and almost no previous knowledge of the oilpatch.

Also, sadly, some of it is just bad and/or lazy reporting too.

I have a bit of an informed opinion here. Between finishing my BS and entering grad school, I took a second BA in journalism in a great J-school to merely broaden my education and interned in a big-city daily. I later joined Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists) and did specialized science reporting after getting out of school for several years and continue to publish in my field throughout my primary science career.

IMHO, much of the reporting on this story is simply bad. As an example, when I got up this morning, I checked the MSNBC website and read their reporting on the well testing story. I then clicked into TOD to get the real story. HO's post was great. Along with the discussion here, I'm getting more of the story. However, contrast what is here to MSNBC's reporting this morning and you can see just how poor the mainstream reporting can be.

This problem is more than just MSNBC; they are just today's handy example. The problem is pretty widespread.

There has been a real problem with the reporting of this whole situation by most of the media from the start of this story. Reporters always want more access (part of their job and we must respect that). However, for the most part, most reporters have poorly reported the not-insignificant amount of available information that is out there. This arises, IMHO, from the media's reporters and editors having very little grounding in science or engineering and almost no previous knowledge of the oilpatch.

Also, sadly, some of it is just bad and/or lazy reporting too.

Yes. Most reporters just dumb-down the daily briefings and pass it on.

If there is anything that is surprising, it is that BP makes so much info available. If I was running BP, and if I was under investigation for CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE, I wouldn't say $hit . . . I would take the 5th and just get the well closed in the best way I knew how . . . and if the government wanted to do it different, let them get their own contractor and do it, otherwise, get the heck out of the way.

As snakehead states, there IS "controlled" access. How do YOU think that should be managed to your satisfaction and who or what entity (that YOU trust) should manage it? Since BP AND the Govt are on your do not trust list, who should?

All nice to be critical. How about a solution that makes sense? Having a bunch of half prepared, semi knowledgeable folks running around the site of the accident doesnt sound like a good solution to me, don't know about you.

As for information, we have a lot of information. Requires some thoughtful screening and evaluation, but it is there. As for the blow by blow debrief of where every little step of every little detail, I don't think that everyone needs that. That should be focused on those who actually need that information, to you know, FIX THE PROBLEM.

Ayway, the effort to keep folks who are not part of the fix up to date on minute details minute to minute would exaust the system and keep the cowboys up even more nights hatching up new conspiracy theories on how the Gummint' and creatures from Mars are trying to take over 'Murika, run death panels and turn us into sex slaves

I've mentioned in earlier posts the relief well could be used to listen to the wild well - I would have stopped drilling and used the bore to run a set of microphones to listen to the wild well when they start shutting the well in (or just run a mike up and down to pick up data un and down the well). This isn't a seismic data acquisition exercise, it's more of a simple listening exercise. And I sure hope they do it.

I've also mentioned that a failure to build up may not mean there's a leak to a non-reservoir zone, it may mean they have crossflow from one sand member to a different sand member. But I don't have a well log so I don't know if this is the case (ie, did they find a reservoir with more than one sand?). It seems they may be ignoring crossflow because they're not aware it happens all the time?

There is a 60 foot sand with a 20 foot sand, and a couple 5-10 foot sands stringers above it. I feel certain the engineers have taken the possibility of cross-flow into consideration. Here is a link to a paper with the MWD log from the well. It's down a few pages.


Well, if you're working for BP or the government, then I suppose you can be certain. But I'm not, and I didn't hear anything regarding crossflow. All the comments seem to point to a belief on their part that the well will have a very nice, classic buildup, and it sure as heck isn't going to do that, because that 18080 sand is definitely separated from the 18140 sand, and it's possible it has a lot less pressure support.

This means the lower sand will build up and its fluids will be injected into the upper sand. And the dynamic flow will not allow the pressure to build up. Which means they may panic and think they have a breach somewhere up the hole. This is why they ought to set microphones in the relief well to listen. Now that I've seen the well log, I can also see the relief well is sitting above the point where the cross flow is likely to be taking place, so they'll just have to go as low as they can in the relief and listen. I'd run accelerometers as well, this should allow them to figure out where the noise is coming from.

I know this may sound redundant, but since they never described the possibility of cross flow it may be they forgot about it. Or maybe they think they're just talking to the media, in which case they need to keep it simple and hope their phalanges hold.

Just read the Kent Wells press briefing from this morning, and this time he did mention they had deferred the test to get a better handle on the way the pressure would build up, also mentioned they wanted to understand whether the failure to build would be due to a breach above the reservoir, or due to cross flow. He didn't mention cross flow, but it's evident that's what they had in mind.

My conclusion? They had not modeled the Pressure Build Up behavior taking cross flow into account, when they met yesterday, somebody must have brought it up, and they decided to defer the shut in until they get it modeled.

I bet they had guys running all sorts of simulations using pressure superposition models and a different team running dynamic grid software - and I bet they worked all night at it and are just putting together their slides.

So now I would want to see if they wised up and decided to run the mikes in the relief well(s) to listen very carefully to what the well tells them.

fd -- I'm also surprised they haven't run a sound log (maybe they're just not telling us). As close as the RW is to the WW you'd think it would work very well. If nothing else they might be able to tell if flow is going up or down the well bore annulus or both. Wright knows more about this than you and I ever will. Diificult to imagine he wouldn't want one. I've never run a sound log personally but I would bet it's small enough to run thru DP so they wouldn't even need to trip. Just some more idle speculation while we hurry up and wait.

I've run them, and did so many years ago, we used to run them in 2 3/8 inch tubing when we had those stupid multiple completions with sliding sleeves and gazillion packers (I call them Japanese completions because Baker used to sell them to the Japanese and they ran some world record combinations which later they took one year to fish).

So I assume today they got a mike the size of a pea they can put down there.

fd -- Funny...you reminded me of what a fishing hand told me years ago: Thank God for Baker...gonna put my kids thru college and set me up for early retirement". Or something to that affect.

fdoleza, your familiarity and understanding of noise logs is age dating you. lol

Ex -- And my young secretary teased me about using "icebox" the other day. Kids!

Hmmm...I don't work for BP of the government.

Dang it. I was hoping to swab you for all that confidential information I'm lacking. So now I got to go to plan B, I'm going to see if the Russians got a spy in there and will sell the information.

That might be a good idea. It wouldn't necessarily surprise me if the Russians knew more about this thing than a lot of the press here in the states.

Send in the red head.......guarantee you'll get some info from the boys!!

Speaking of Russians, I have not seen any reference on TOD to this Russian offer of their world class submersibles, tho someone has probably pointed out why its irrelevant.
Sure hope its because they are of no relevant use and not because the US is playing silly little boys & too proud to ask for help.

Actually, Greenbau, I brought that over the other day. Cute, aren't they?

They sure look like nice fat manned subs. But they're not designed for oil field work. Maybe Michael Moore can hire them to go take pictures of the Deepwater Horizon for his movie: "Deepwater Oil, A Love Story".

Heck, with their charisma, they'll be one of the stars. "And appearing as himself . . . Mischa the Submarine."

so, uh, what's the on-site duration of free-swimming, manned submersibles -vs- tethered, un-manned ROVs?

Most of which ROVs come attached to special ships with one or two cranes having 8 or 10 k feet of cable capable of lowering ~ 100 tons to the seafloor while maintaining surface position,
and have crew experienced in deepwater construction/repair of petroleum infrastructure.

Do the submersibles have all the hydraulic attachments the ROVs do?
(and are they tested and proven by experience?)
(and what impact on the submersibles batteries would heavy usage have?)
(and what's the battery recharge time?)

Are the Russian crews fluent in oil-field technical English?

What happens if one needs 3 or more separate vehicles?

If one is manipulating things underwater with a mechanical claw, one might as well be on a surface ship where one can take a pee break and have a shift change without a journey to the surface and back interrupting the work.

1. The second relief well being stopped at this point is according to plan. If they need to use it, it is close by. But they do not want to drill it so close that it could interfere with the one they are working with at present.

2. The cap will "work". The pressure tests will presumably give them some valuable information about the condition of the well. If the condition is better than expected they may be able to just shut the well in with it. If not, it will still "work" to capture the flow and route it all to the ships on the surface. Either way it works.

There may have been some concern about whether the hydraulic coupling holding on the new BOP was latched properly. Oil had gotten behind the covers on the gauges on the latch panel rendering them unreadable. This morning they succeeded in removing the covers and cleaning them. Once that was done the pressure on the "latch" side was bled down from about 2,500 psi to 700 psi. I am not sure what that was all about, but is seemed important to somebody.

Perhaps someone here is familiar with the operation of those hydraulic couplings could fill us in. I presume they do not want to close the valves only to have the whole BOP shoot off catastrophically because the latch is not properly engaged.

Ahh... so that explains those puffs of green fluid being released from the panel showing the hydraulic pressure gauge coming down to 700 psi.

Here's a pretty comprehensive article on current events if you can read WSJ articles that is

Wow! Widelyread got that posted quickly. The WSJ dateline on the article is 1:00PM ET.

I found these two quotes to be of interest:

If BP determines that using the cap to shut in the well is too risky, the U.K. oil giant would use the cap to produce oil from the well.

However, seismic analysis performed Tuesday to determine the condition of the well's formation and the condition of the sea floor was not the reason for the delay in the integrity test, Mr. [Kent] Wells said.


There is concern that closing the cap could create pressure in the well's formation, resulting in oil being released close to the surface of the sea floor and eventually flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Wells said.

Given that they supposedly are mere days away from the bottom kill, why not just go to production for the interim and not worry about doing an extensive integrity test? Or is the integrity test important to how the bottom kill would be executed?

Also, if the seismic analysis is not the reason for the delay, the implication is that there are other tasks going on which provided the non-critical-path window for performing the seismic analysis.

HO, regarding that picture of the diamond saw at the top... It seems the Enterprise ROV pilots were having a bit of a bad day yesterday.

One of them was using that saw to TRY and cut some unwanted small steel cables that were wrapped around the riser pipe from the old top hat, and it was CLEARLY the wrong tool for the job. As one might expect, it caught on the teeth and hopelessly wrapped the cable around the shaft of the saw. I don't know how he finally got loose, but it was quite a mess.

The other ROV at the same time was having an awful time getting the umbilical reeled back on the spool of it's cage properly, and was manually trying to guide it onto the spool. This went on for quite a while, and I don't know how it ended.

I guess everyone has a bad day once in awhile!

Someone on a financial chat posted notes from this mornings technical conference call with Kent Wells.
- collected over 17000 bbls, 9200 helix, 7900 q4000
- Test delayed for 24 hours for science team to analyze procedure (clock started when?)
- mid day today next decision point
- delay to analaze recent pressure data
- relief well final intersection schedule slips 24 to 48 hours awaiting integrity test
- decision to delay 330p yest
- team trying to decide what various pressure levels will mean for well condition before test starts.

Last night explorer30504 suggested that yesterday's seismic test was a geohazard ping, of the type used to survey seafloor. Here's an example of sonar/ping imaging technology


It can't tell Chu anything about the sand or shales at 12,000 ft

Later on in the thread I learned it was not a shallow hazard type survey, aka pinger. It was indeed a full fledged seismic survey. I still wonder why these data were collected though as BP almost certainly already have a high resolution 3-D survey over the entire prospect area. I suspect they want to use the the new data to convince themselves further that there has been no underground blowout to date.

ex -- Actually BP had to do a complete shallow hazard survey to get the original drill permit. Redoing the seismis survey (often called a "sparker" survey) must have been done to see any changes. They may be looking for indications of very shallow sands being charged with NG from any shallow leaks. Under the right conditions we can see a direct indications of NG in a sand. That's the main reason for running a SHS before drilling: to ID shallow NG sands you would rather not drill thru.

RM- I understand the shallow hazard survey requirements and that was put to rest in the last thread. The boat acquiring the data was the GECO Topaz, thanks Beagle, and they don't do shallow hazard surveys they do full 3-D seismic surveys.

avon- Actually you can indeed get information from a line 2 1/2 miles long. If the target is a single point you do not need all that much aperture, length of line if you will, as long as the geologic dip is low, less than five degrees or so, and there are no complexities such as the target being subsalt. Also the Topaz has multi-streamer capabilities and I feel sure more than one streamer was deployed thereby giving them a small 3-D survey which would increase their resolution considerably..

Edited to answer above post: OK, a postage stamp 3D to resolve what? A 20-ft sand is half a cycle. A 10-ft stringer is invisible. Not enough offset for AVO.

Not knowing the velocity of the overburden or the frequency content of the data I am unable to answer exactly what the resolution of the data may be. Also I know nothing of the geology above the reservoir sands. Perhaps there are some big fat 50-100 foot sands above it. In fact the small sand stringers above the 60 ft sand already appear to be hydrocarbon bearing so even if you do get cross-flow and add more hydrocarbons to them I wouldn't really expect to be able to see that with a full wide aperture high resolution survey anyway.

It's the incidence angle that matters, so for shallow targets you would still have enough offset for AVO. Also the impedance of any sand would sharply drop if filled with gas, so you would see a big difference from the original survey even at normal incidence.

This glacial pace in throttling the well is unnecessary. Is that how they would actuate a BOP during a developing blowout?

The methane in the stream is a supercritical fluid. Here http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?T=150&PLow=2250&PHigh=12000&PInc=5... is the isothermal properties chart from the Government (National Institute for Standards and Testing). The average density of the methane is about 19 + 6 /2 = 12.5 lbs/ cu ft. for the current situation, where the density @ 18,000 feet (12,000 psi) is 19 lbs / cu ft and is 6 lbs/cu ft @ 5'000 feet (2250 psi). Shutting in the capping stack could send the pressure at 5,000 feet to 8,000 psi with a density of 16 lbs/cu ft, so the average density would become 16 + 19 / 2 = 25.5. So the methane fraction of the stream will act as a nice shock absorber to eliminate "water (that is oil) hammer" concerns.

Actually, as the cross-section of the well gets larger nearer the wellhead, the average will be somewhat less dense than shown under elevated pressure above and will decrease this effect, but that is a second order effect and is stated separately to keep the basic message simple. The methane will also cool as it rises through a cooling ground temperature profile which will further accentuate the basic effect, somehwhat negating the diameter issue. "Oil hammer' is not such a big deal that it justifies taking hours to close some valves.

"This glacial pace in throttling the well is unnecessary."

Thanks for sharing that. It shows us why they didn't put you in charge.

That's cruel.

The glacial pace is very useful. I don't have their layout, but I understand they have two vessels connected to the well via the BOP lines. I'd love to see them keep the collection vessels collecting crude (assuming they have a way to choke the flow into the collection lines), close the main vent (the ugly one with all the oil spewing out), leave side vents open, then close those while allowing oil to spill via a choke in the new cap, and finally start closing that choke to divert the flow to the two collection vessels, which I understand should be able to handle 30,000 BOPD.

I would flow the well to those collection vessels to get the rate - pressure sets, then open up the choke at the cap to release more oil to the ocean (sorry pelicans), and then close the BOP outlets, finally closing the choke at the cap very carefully while watching pressures.

Once the well is buttoned up, watch pressures and build up for enough time to see if there's indeed crossflow taking place at the reservoir level - and listen with mikes using the relief wells. If there's crossflow, then they should go back to producing so the relief well doesn't run into a charged stringer, and forget buttoning it up for good until the relief well is down.

Or something like that.

If the methane were alone, it might be a supercritical fluid. However, it's accompanied by a number of other hydrocarbon components, so you really need to be looking at a phase diagram encompassing all those other components, which probably doesn't exist except in approximate form. And the higher critical points of the higher hydrocarbons mean that the mixture is probably not supercritical.

The flow coming out is obviously a mixture of phases, but it's hard to say exactly what they are, except some gas, some liquid, and some solid, without doing some very complicated modeling, which, given other priorities, probably isn't worth doing. Although I know some people who might be doing it just because they would find it interesting.

OTOH, there may be some in BP and other places modeling the probability of a "hammer" effect. But I suspect they'd be using somewhat different models.

I don't think that mixtures of compounds change the density of individual components much. While the oil and sand (of course) are not compressible, the methane and ethane which comprise natural gas clearly are. Also, the natural gas comprises around 50% or more of the oil/gas mixture, so there is a lot of compressability there. That compressibility is reduced because of the pressure and being beyond supercritical, but there is still a lot of compression that can occur because of the projected pressure increase which will occur once the well head is completely closed down.

I think that they are closing things down slowly to monitor whether there is a leak in the casing, not because of the hammer effect. Of course, avoiding any spike in pressure is a good think too.

I don't know where this hammer effect came into the discussion. It takes a hell of a lot of hammerin' to get a hammer effect with volatile oil. And they would have to be pretty dense to go for a quick shut in. Besides, it's not like they got a flapper safety valve in the well, I'm assuming they got gate valves and that's going to take a bit of turning to get them to close. So why is this hammer effect being mentioned?

You don't see bubbles do you? There does not seem to be any vapor in the form of bubbles emerging from the BOP. Even if there were, it would increase the compressibility of the column and soften the "oil hammer" even more.

It was the dithering while the crew of the DWH assessed what was happening to them that led to them attempting to actuate the BOP a bit too late. Paraphrasing a bit...A flip (of the kill switch) in time saves eleven (lives).

When you need to use the BOP, it has to close in a reasonably short time period. You don't want it to take so long that you suffer the same fate as the crew of the DWH.

I think what Cheryl says is spot on.

The phase behaviour of the mixture is not remotely like that of
Any of the pure constituents.

There will be no super critical fluids in this stream.

The only way you would get a hammer
Effect would be with a very abrupt shut in from a flowing well head pressure that was higher than the fluid bubble point so that
The well was full of oil only.

HuffPo - I know - but from the AP is reporting:

NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) - The plan to start choking off oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico was suddenly halted as government officials and BP said further analysis must be done Wednesday before critical tests could proceed.

No explanation was given for the decision, and no date was set for when testing would begin on the new, tighter-fitting cap BP installed on the blown-out well Monday.

In the meantime, oil continued spewing into the Gulf.

The oil giant had been scheduled to start slowly shutting off valves Tuesday on the cap, aiming to stop the flow of oil for the first time in three months. BP was initially ahead of schedule on its latest effort to plug the leak. The cap was designed to be a temporary fix until the well is plugged underground.

Gulf Oil Still Gushing After Cap Efforts Suddenly Halted

Any confirmations more (less sensationalized) info?


Toll -- Doesn't matter when Anadarko partnered up with BP. The process of drilling a well with partners requires the submission of a legal doc to each of them. This is the AFE (Authorization for Expenditure). The AFE establishes the financial responsibility for each well. It's more of a cost estimate summary without a lot of well planning detail. The JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) goes into great detail as far as liabilities. JOA also typically include very specific language dealing with operator conducting negligent /illegal activities on a well. This is the "Get out of jail free" card Anadarko will try to use to duck their 25% of the costs. The real details of the well plan, including any strong differences of opinion, would be documented in a long series of emails and hard copy documents. It's SOP for any partner to thoroughly document any disagreement. The JOA states Anadarko owes 25% of the final well cost. But at the end of the job disputes that could be shown to cause costs over runs makes the final payment somewhat negotiable. Not that Anadarko expected the blow out but there's always missteps when drilling. So if a partner can show some level of poor judgment he'll use that to lower his share of the final cost. This is about the only leverage a non-operating partner has. Thus it's possible Anadarko has documentation strongly critical of BP's well plan. When BP submitted the AFE to Anadarko it had to be fully agreed to by Anadarko or they were out of the well on whatever penalty basis was in the JOA. IMHO BP has more to fear from Anadarko then the feds. The feds will just want to bleed BP some. But Anadarko may well be fighting for their corporate survival. And if that means crucifying BP? Anadarko has the nails and hammer ready right now.

They certainly have the motivation. However, I hear that on many well drills, the junior partners make it a point to protest every cost expenditure possible (even those made on the basis of increasing safety) in the event that the well turns out not to be lucrative so they can reduce their costs. Anadarko, while they have nothing to lose financially going this route, could still be reputationally hit by revelations that show they protested earlier expenses by BP meant to reduce risk and protect personell. I feel Anadarko will probably find itself regretting its decision to publically come out against BP's integrity rather than keeping quiet. We'll see won't we.

TX -- I would be surprised if BP/Anadarko could show documentation that A. lobbied for reduced safety protocols to save money. They may have made such statements verbally with no witnesses around. But most aren't stupid enough to leave such a written record around. OTOH, I can see the potential for A. to produced docs which showed they were in strong disagreement with such aspects as running a long string instead of a liner. Again, just speculation. But go back to what we think the root cause was: displacing the riser and the btm cmt failing. I doubt those procedures were ever presented to BP's partners. That's the power (and responsibility) of being the operator: you don't need to tell your partners everything you're doing and why you're doing it. I can't tell you how many times I had operators do things I vehemently disagreed with. But typically I didn't even find out about it until after the fact. Again, that's the good news/bad news about being the operator. BTW: my owner really hates not being the operator. It's one thing if I screw up. Quit another if it's done by someone that we have little or no control over. He does not tollerate failure. He can nail my hide to his door when ever he wants. Can't do that to another operator nearly as easily.

As a working interest owner in wells, I know where you are coming from. It is impractical to notify and seek approval of the partners everytime they want to scratch thier butt, but why with so much at risk, didn't Anadarko have a repesentive aboard the DWH.

I always try to be on location personally during critical phases of wells that I have and interest in. Many WI owners do not in the small wells that I participate in, but most of them would not know what was happening anyway and they have to trust the judgement of the operator.

Rio -- I'm waiting to make a log run right now on an outside operated well. Their geologist told me last week that I might not want to go: they were sending a consultant out to log the well for them. I didn't want to embarrase him by saying that was one reason my company was sending it's VP Operations to the well. The bigger reason is that my owner holds me personally responsible for ops...even if we're not operating. He has zero tollerence for stupidity. Me too.

I learned a long time ago that if you want something done right, do it yourself (for example your boss wanting operations). I am too small and don't want the headaches that come with operating, so I guess the next best thing is to look over their shoulder to keep them from completly screwing it up.

Again, to me, the most disturbing aspect of this tragedy is the complete disregard for the democratic process exhibited by our own government. They are essentially running interference for B.P. by not allowing access to the region of the spill by interested citizens, activists, investigative reporters...or even Congressmen.

This sort of thing should result in ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE on the part of the American people, but still they slumber.

In an Orwellian environment such this, anything B.P. or the government tells us becomes "truth," and without the real truth we can never improve safety for the future or expect justice for those affected.

Again, I would suggest that a flotilla of private boats or a flight of private planes BREAK THIS BLOCKADE as soon as practicable stuffed with video equipment, seismic intruments, etc. Make the Navy or Air Force respond...if they dare...

Where is Earth First!? Where is Greenpeace?

I sense some VERY odd collaboration here....

Would you care to address the unfettered cruelty being dished out by all the purveyors of terrifying agitprop?

Not sure what that has to do with my post, but, "YEA, CUT IT OUT!"


So basically you want a bunch of civilian boats running through a work zone unsupervised, getting in the way of a very dangerous and technical operation, and do exactly what?

The problem is a mile underwater; unless you're Superman, no one's going down there to see for themselves what is happening, which means all your civilians are going to be looking at the ROV videos, looking at gauges, and talking to people trying to do their job.

IOW, they'd be getting in everyone's way and accomplishing nothing.

I want the boycott and B.P./USG filtration of information to stop. I want the ability for independent investigators to step in and do the job the lapdog press is unable or unwilling to do, yes.

(I already mentioned above the need for some controlled access to address your concerns, but not this barricade of corporate/government approved "news/truth" only. This is still America, right?)

Somebody forget to eat their stewed prunes the last couple days?

While I agree with you on the DWH site itself, I am also very concerned by reports of people being threatened by authorities for trying to document the onshore impacts.

Not talking about civilian boats in the operation zone, but about "BP officials" ordering public places closed to the public, threatening journalists with arrest (by persuading local police to take their orders?) and the apparent lack of outrage on this. Probably, they toned it down when the stories hit the press. My 74 year old mother is down there picking up tarballs, and her only complaint has been that they don't use biodegradable trash bags, that the trash bags pile up bigger than the tar, and oh yeah, she mentioned it was really hot and humid. I wonder if the "threatened with arrest" scenario was isolated, or what the whole story was.

James, I am down here too and have taken close to 1000 photo's, talked with Florida DEP officials, the contractors, several enviromental contractors and a few folks from the EPA. I did pick up tarballs the first week they hit here IIRC around the 5th or 6th of June and took them to a crew to dispose of, and I did once have trouble at the BP staging area after the cop let me in the lot, but they left me alone after I told them I was with Goldman Sachs. Now, I know most of the ppl contracted in our area and when they are on the atv's they stop by and chat if they have a moment. At first, I was bound and determined to hate them all, but the lazy ones got fired and the rest I buy pizzas for when I see them bust their azz all day in the heat with very few breaks, so I am sure there are tons of other stories where it could be true, but I found that you get more flies with honey than vinegar and so far it's worked very well.

I hope your mom is careful in this heat and keep water with her, if not most of the crews I know will give you fresh, cold bottles of water when they see someone helping out......so make sure she is careful to watch her hydration.

You need the salts as well, sodium drops to low and the body gets rid of the water. 1l water, 1 level teasp salt, 8 level teasp sugar, juice of 4 limones. Need to make myself some when I get back.


Ahem. Times-Pic:

... Media can now obtain credentials by providing their name, media affiliation and contact information to the Unified Area Command Joint Information Center. Media can travel within the 65-foot safety zone as long as they have credentials and follow safety rules.

Before Tuesday's announcement, media had to contact the Coast Guard or other response officials to gain access within the safety zone.

"We need to discriminate between media, which have a reason to be there, and somebody who's hanging around when we know that we've had equipment vital to this region damaged," Allen said.

According to a news release from the joint information center, the safety zone was created "to prevent boats from going over the top of booms; it is not intended to limit media access."

Thank you for the update. I appreciate it and actually understand some of it :)

I AM outraged! But what can one old lady do? I too have wondered where Green Peace and all the other environmental organizations are. I smell a rat....

Sorry about that. I'd better go take a shower.


If you believe that important evidence and activity is being "hidden" from citizens and journalists, I suggest you contact Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.


Sea Shepherd has a Gulf response operation in progress and, I absolutely assure you, would run a "blockade" in a heartbeat if you can provide reason to believe that doing so would likely produce evidence of harm to the environment being hidden.

They won't do it just for fun or publicity, though, so organize the case and call Captain Paul.

It is interesting to see how many things had to be suggested by the gov team before BP did them.

From earlier reports, it seems that some things took more than a "suggestion", like the examination of the BOP, with BP insisting that it was impossible for a second pipe to be in there.

wth is wrong with the people working for BP? At this point shouldn't they be looking to be as sure and careful as possible, not making assumptions?

• During the top kill attempts, the team suggested rechecking all of the hydraulics on the BOP, which BP did. As a result, one of the pipe ram valves closed more tightly and provided more resistance to the flow.

Stuff like this is just stunning to me.

For me this underscores the need to have a very strong regulatory/oversight mechanism in .gov.

Many are pointing to the failures at MMS as a reason to scrap the oversight system and let industry regulate itself.

This shows that such oversight not only can work but is vital. It is our responsibility as citizens to keep our public oversight of industry strong and honest.

I don’t know where you people are getting your LIVE FEED.
I’m at http://www.bp.com/sectionbodycopy.do?categoryId=9034366&contentId=7063636
and most of the time I get a selection of loop recording or nothing at all.
Even the plume recording from BP live feed from Skandi ROV 2 freezes up after it gets to the end of the loop.

Has a reporter brought this up at a press conference?

They're not "loop recordings". And often certain feeds are not active. If you want alternative sites offering compilations of the multiple views, there are plenty. Here are a couple you can try:



But if your computer has problems running that many videos at once you may want to try a page that offers access to individual videos.



also live feeds from a flash player that allows you to select the feed you want


and a live active image page at


Gee! I must have a defective MAC.

Lets take the example/picture from http://naula.sytes.net/~naula/bpfeeds.html the one labelled S2, the video of the plume. The cursor at the bottom ran through its recording and the stopped at the end.
It does the same thing with The BP pages.

They are not "recordings". The problem you are having is on your end. Maybe someone with a Mac can help you out.

I don't MAC but be sure to have the latest version of the software used.

I'm watching on a Mac.

If a feed drops for some reason - and some of ROV feeds do more than others - Quicktime quietly starts replaying a loop. I've learned to check the time on the videos to see they are all still live. Closing the window and relinking from the source usually gets them live again.

I use http://data.plan9.de/akamai-bp-streams.html? to see all the feeds - it refreshes every 60 secs - and I then click on a ROV thumbnail if I want to go live with that one. On occasion I have had to close Firefox and start from the beginning to get back to live feed for a particular ROV, usually one of the Skandi feeds for some unknown reason.

Fifteen ROV feeds, the crashing sound you hear is your browser, be forewarned.

I like the "realitycheck" site as you have control of each feed individually. You can stop feeds with nothing worth watching, and if you notice one locked up, you can stop/start to get it going again.

Thanks for the link. I have been looking for someting like that for a while now. But I think my laptop may be a bit unhappy about it. (I heard it groan as the page loaded)

Just found a story on Bloomberg about the delay....

Condensed version:

BP & gov officials still intend to conduct the assessment, which BP and OBAMA (?) admin will use to determine whether the leak can be safely sealed.
Trial was scheduled to start yesterday, and it was postponed after BP met with Allan, Chu and a government team of scientist and industry experts, who decided more analysis needed to be done before they proceeded. "We continue to review protocols for the well integrity test, including the seismic mapping run that was made around the well site this morning" Allen said. "As a result of those discussions we decided the process may benfit from additional analysis". BP is continuing to operate a system for capturing some of the oil, which is piped to surface ships.

Once the test begins, BP may need 48 hours of data to declare the well safe to seal, and we may know within 6 hours if it can't be sealed.

The rest of the article is old news.


If the well is proven safe to seal (after 48 hours), will they seal it by way of the new cap and then continue with the RW?

If, after 6 hours, they find it can't be sealed, how will that effect the RW, which has been halted?

tek~Wish I could answers any of those, I just posted what I read on the bloomberg, that's why I am hoping more of the regulars (smart ones who have experience in the oil patch) will respond.

tek - even if they completely stopped the flow they still have a blow out well. It would just be shut in at that point. It hasn't been killed. They'll still have to get enough heavy mud into the well vis the RW to stop the flow from the reservoir. Then they still have to re-enter the well from the top and permanently plug it as per MMS regs.

Why don't they collect the oil coming out of the new stack?
They have the collection ships/rigs. Not sure if they have the riser ready to connect.
That way they take their time deciding on the questions of testing and

Just my guess Billy but I don't think they have the processing/flaring capability to handle 100% of the flow. And perhaps they still aren't confident what that exact flow volumn is.

I've also wondered why they don't collect the oil. They promised that once the Helix Producer was there they'd be collecting all the oil. Well, it's there, and they're venting MORE oil now than before, it seems.

This is what Kent Wells had to say.

Press Conference July 13, 2010 at 7:30 a.m. CT

Richard Harris:
Good morning. If you have to open the stack again, if they valves don't -- aren't good enough. Could you put another sort of top hat on top during the two weeks that it will take you to get the second floating riser in place?

Kent Wells:
Great question and absolutely that's our plan. So if you remember we had the drill ship Enterprise that had the (LMRP) cap on. when we moved it off, we moved the Enterprise off site and it's in the process of running on drill pipe -- a different cap that when if the integrity test says we need to open the well back up, we will immediately start collecting oil again through the Q4000, collecting through the Helix Producer and the free standing riser and then we have the ability to bring in the enterprise and over the top of the capping stack where you see the oil flowing out now to put this additional cap on there to collect if it's needed to do that.

So we have a lot of optionality going forward in terms of our collection capabilities.

Press Conference July 13, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. CT

Richard Harris:
I wanted to follow up a little bit with the Enterprise and its cap. You mentioned that that would be ready to go on top of the well if need be, if it failed. How quickly could that happen? and could you tell us what that material is that's currently exiting from the -- I'm not sure if it's the LMRP cap that the Enterprise is -- ROV is looking at but it looks like it's part of that whole apparatus.

Kent Wells:
OK, so the question around the Enterprise coming in, so what its being based on is if we -- if the well integrity test says we need to open the well back up, the first thing we'll start to do is put on the production from the Q4000 and the Helix Producer. We have the ability to -- in addition, if that's not collecting all the flow and before such time as we bring on the second riser with the (Toices Pisces), we have the ability to bring in the Enterprise. We've already run our LRMP cap number seven down and we'll be able to move it over top where you see the majority of the flow coming out today and collect any flow that might still be coming out of there.

So that's sort of the contingence we have in place.

Now I think you also had a question, probably about some ROV footage and I don't know which one you're looking at and I don't know it could be where we're actually looking to dehydrate around the LMRP from where the original LMRP cap was on. I don't know if that's the activity that's going on that you might be looking at, but that's one activity that is going on.

I don't consider that an explanation of why they're not collecting all the oil.

"...to declare the well safe to seal"...???

What the heck is that? How is it safe not to seal?

This on-again/off-again testing scenario is one of the best and most immediate examples that there is way too much "shoot from the hip" going on without prior thought and computer modelling. I realize no plan is full proof, but there is NO EXCUSE FOR DUMPING ALL THIS EXTRA OIL INTO THE GOM right now while B.P. and the Feds argue about the course of action here. That should have all been ironed out way in advance.

They will need 48 more hours of data ON WHAT? What is/are the concern/s here? Why does the public not have the right to know?

We don't even know when the test will start, then we wait another 48 hours while the RW shuts down all activity?

This is crazy!

They will need 48 more hours of data ON WHAT? What is/are the concern/s here? Why does the public not have the right to know?

Because the public don't know how to interpret the data or even understand the concern. Vast majority of the poster here don't know much about deepsea drilling and the rest of the general public know even less.. More data just mean more speculation and nothing more is accomplished.

See, that's the attitude I cannot condone or accept. Certainly, there are members of the general public with advanced degrees who can interpret data. We still have free access to the internet, or you wouldn't be having this discussion with me now. They haven't even told us what kind of data they need another 48 hours of delays and escaping crude to collect!

The attitude that B.P. and the USG exhudes is... "We, the great and wise ones who are destroying your Gulf, know that you are not capable of our level of understanding, so not only are we not going to share our data, but we are going to refuse to allow any of you inferior beings to attempt to collect your own."

Well, all I can say is I'm sorry for the people who don't get it but are concerned and intelligent enough to ask for more/better information. I think I understand this well enough, sometimes I think I understand it better than the guys running the show (OK, so I'm arrogant), and I do get frustrated because I don't have all the information.

But we're dealing with human beings who are under pressure and they are in an adhoc organization with BP and government people and who knows how many consultants all of them trying to work things out and communicate which each other, and the internal chemistry must be pretty murky as it is, with all the money and jail threats on the line. So I can see why, even though they're all trying to make an honest effort to provide information, it just doesn't keep people happy.

If it makes you feel better, I think the well shut in was deferred because they forgot a few details, and when they reviewed what they had, they caught on, and now they're making sure all the details are covered. Why did they forget those few details? Because it's a large group of people and I'm sure some of them thought of these details, but in the end it didn't get to the decision making level fast enough. And one reason why those making the decisions aren't available to listen to these details is because they spend a lot of time giving press conferences and trying to feed information to people who are ready to kill for it.

You have a charitable view of BP which I do not share. There is a corporate gag order. I suspect they destroyed a lot of computer data in the first 24 hrs after the blowout, and aren't telling the government half of what they know or suspect about the well. Cofferdam, Riser Insertion, Top Hat and this latest mousetrap were public relations stunts.

The only job that matters is the relief well. Months away from a kill.

I know they have a gag order, because that's Standard Operating Procedure for any company which is about to be sued.

I doubt they destroyed computer data (I assume you mean emails), because that's backed up, and any effort to wipe out at a corporate level would be visible to forensic IT experts. How do I know this? Because large corporations have data recovery plans set up in case they have a terrorist hit, and this means BP's servers are probably backed up into a secret place sitting in a vault somewhere. And I don't think anybody in their IT department would be dumb enough to start selectively wiping out emails out of those backup servers, that's jail time if they get caught.

Are they telling the government everything they know about the well? I think by now they have, because if they don't they would be tortured to extract the information anyway. And the sight of a CIA specialist holding a water hose will make a petroleum engineer shake in his boots.

The only exception would be the guys pleading the 5th amendment, I assume they got their own lawyers, and neither BP nor the government can get to them now.

Even though I am reasonably intelligent I am not an oil worker. This site has made me more cpable of understanding what is going on as well as the risks and benefits of the strategies being undertaken.

Frankly, a whole lot more technical information (mud logs, etc.) won't help me much unless a problem is glaringly obvious. Better information IMHO will help the experts here knowledgeably peer review and interpret the data/strategies increasing the quality of explanations compared to the rampant and perhaps baseless theories found elsewhere. Thanks

Did you miss the discussion about snapping the valves closed? Would you like to know what may happen? Read back over several treads!

IMHO is they realy think they have a leak underground and are trying to figure out how deep it is and how big it is. Will they have the enough of the right mud and are ready to deal with a compromised hole?

A better assumption at this point would be that after the latest round of testing, the Engineers looked at each other with looks that said "we're more fraked then we ever thought...".

Of course, for people in this country who might actually "have the facts" (a relatively very small number), they already know this simple observation applies to a wide range of subjects...

Can anyone shed any more light on yesterday's seismic survey? What could they be looking for? It seems like the results of it might have led, in part, to the delay of the integrity test. Any thoughts on why that might be?

Reporters didn't ask and haven't asked still, as far as I can tell.

I think the seismic survey was to set a baseline picture of the sub-surface so that if the integrity test compromises the casing and oil moves into areas outside the well casing, it can be seen. As I understand it, this is a version of 4-D seismic where you can see how a reservoir is depleting as it is produced.

The AP last night:

A series of methodical, preliminary steps were completed before progress stalled. Engineers spent hours on a seismic survey, creating a map of the rock under the sea floor to spot potential dangers, like gas pockets. It also provides a baseline to compare with later surveys during and after the test to see if the pressure on the well is causing underground problems.

An unstable area around the wellbore could create bigger problems if the leak continued elsewhere in the well after the cap valves were shut, experts said.

“It’s an incredibly big concern,” said Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Professional Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston. “They need to get a scan of where things are, that way when they do pressure testing, they know to look out for ruptures or changes.”

It was unclear whether there was something in the results of the mapping that prompted officials to delay. Earlier, BP Vice President Kent Wells said he hadn’t heard what the results were, but he felt “comfortable that they were good.”

National Incident Commander Thad Allen met with the federal energy secretary and the head of the U.S. Geological Survey as well as BP officials and other scientists after the mapping was done.

“As a result of these discussions, we decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis,” Allen said in a statement. He didn’t specify what type of analysis would be done, but said work would continue until Wednesday.

An unnamed BP source told John King, “There were some potential complications that might cause a delay — some bad, some in the better to be safe than sorry category.”

Why wasn't the seismic survey completed a week or more ago? Why is it on the critical time path now, disrupting other operations?

That my friend is a good question. I could speculate that it is a bunch of engineers who are running the show and they oftentimes overlook the geophysics or the geophysicists haven't been shouting loud enough in all the din. Too many cooks and all that. If there is an underground blowout it is a good tool to locate it.

From one expl or another: We do not know if the idea was a late add-on or not. Also, remember the feds moved up the new stack installation to run concurrently with he Helix producer start-up. During the last week we had the Enterprise with its string capturing and then also moved in the ship to install the new stack. After the disconnect of the Enterprise a ship came in to off load off its crude storage. Only after all the ships were finished could the seismic vessel be brought through without getting in the way. I would suggest there might be a "too many cooks" situation here. Right now depending on an individual's bias any problems are either BP's or Chu and company. Once they elected to go ahead after the storm and during the weather window,the probability of a totally smooth or predictable operation was reduced exponentially, IMHO. It is clear the feds want to show they are in charge. With that though, comes the possible fallout of unexpected outcomes. This and the nature of the public sector explain a lot of what may be happening now during the decision making process. (Also interesting politics)


It appears the seismic study is an important tool to see what is going on around the well.

Any speculation why BP never ran one until now?

As others have commented they should have had a shallow survey done before drilling. My guess would be that BP , the feds, or the team decided just to do small one to perhaps, either see if anything had changed in the near surface regarding shallow faulting or gas compared to the original, and as others have pointed out, as another base line prior to the integrity test.

You know, this delay could have come about just by Chu and BP asking everybody to take one last look and perhaps even polling other experts, just to be sure they were not forgetting something. I actually see that as something good. There are always people on a diverse team who may have doubts and others who could pipe up with final concerns. I am sure everyone is quite cognizant of the oil leaking during the delay but why hurry until you have all your ducks in a row.

Good points DD. I would sure like to be a fly on the wall on some of the meetings and side meetings they must be having.

The survey requires moving all of the ships out of the area around the well. Clearly you can't do that without impacting other operations. Basically it boils down to the fact that the survey is going to be on the critical path no matter how you schedule it.

I see two possible reasons for it but doubt they had the results at the time the decision was made yesterday. They may be looking for evidence of an underground blowout that has already occurred or they are setting this up as a baseline to monitor an underground blowout that could occur in the future. As BP certainly already had a high resolution 3-D survey the baseline idea rings a little hollow to me. If they do find clear evidence of an underground blowout already in progress then they would certainly cancel the integrity test.

I have a naive question: If pressure in the upper portion of the well may cause or exacerbate an underground blowout, would it be feasible to reduce the pressure at the BOP by installing a pump at the sea floor, which would lift the oil to the surface?

It's possible to install a pump, but in this case the oil flows with a huge amount of gas, more than 2000 cubic feet per barrel. This gas is under pressure, so it's very dense, but the overall mixture is like soda pop after you shake the bottle, weighs a lot less than a column of sea water, so it can make it to the surface on its own. What caused the blow out was precisely the deadly nature of this mixture, which was able to get to the surface in a hurry because it's so light, and because the pressure in the oil reservoir is so high.

The debate here is between a side which really wants to see if the well can be shut in - for different reasons - and the guys who think it's too dangerous and the pressure rise after the well is closed could blow up the well.

I'm sort of in the middle, I would check things out really carefully, close it gradually to see what it does, but open it after it stays closed for a short period of time. Unlike the official line, I never expected it to build pressure to a static point because I think the oil reservoir is too complex, so it's going to have flow back and forth and it's not going to stabilize. So they won't get a stable pressure anyway - or the pressure won't go as high as they expected (who knows what they really expect, I don't get to talk to the real brains in there).

But this is getting to be so touchy, if I were in charge I would get more information before I made a final decision, which seems to be what Admiral Allen is doing. And he's going to let us know in a couple of hours what they told him, and what he thinks needs to happen. And I imagine Chu and the other experts will have a lot to say. And Matt Simmons is going to be waiting to see if his prediction ccmes true.

It is not really not needed, since they can just let the oil and gas flow though the kill and choke lines to the surface and reduce the pressures to a safe level. There are downhole pumps that are used in wells to move large amounts of fluid, but I don't know if they have ones with the capacity to do any good in this case. We once pumped compressed air down a well to reduce the hydrostic head to flow back a frac job faster, I would prefer nitrogen, but poor boys have poor ways. But anyway I don't see any need for pumps or reducing the head in this case.

Ha! Thanks to both.

Disclaimer: This is just a WAG from a geologist, and I don't have any real information. But it's possible that the seismic survey showed something suspicious. Remember, that's basically just mud. Oil could move into it without showing any immediate symptoms. It would show on the readouts as a slight density difference, and if anything like that was seen, it would explain the sudden delay.

But it's possible that the seismic survey showed something suspicious.

Not according to Wells. From the NYTimes report on this morning's BP press briefing:

[Wells] said that a seismic survey, taken Tuesday, had no bearing on the decision to postpone the test. That survey showed the condition of the seafloor, to a relatively shallow depth.


A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well.

“Some of this has been a topic of discussion for a long time,” said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

BP has said that the test will provide data to help in planning the relief well operation. But the technician said many relief wells had been successful without such information. “In my opinion, it’s not worth acquiring that data,” he said....

Mr. Wells said in reviewing the test procedure, the scientific team was trying to make sure that the results could be properly interpreted — if pressure decreases over time, for instance, what that might mean about damage to the well, either near the seabed or far down in the well.

“What we want to avoid is oil being put out in a shallow environment,” he said, because if the oil seeps from the seabed it would add to the pollution.


Interesting Swifty...thanks. Mr. Wright's statement (“What we want to avoid is oil being put out in a shallow environment,”) is the first clear official word Ive seen over concern for an undeground blow out.

Oh crap.........I'll be right back, going to fill the valium and grab a bottle of Jack

"'Oh crap.........I'll be right back, going to fill the valium and grab a bottle of Jack"

LOL... relax. These are the people saying the potentially toxic waters people let their kids swim and play in are actually safe and beneficial to future health, reproduction, and intelligence. ... kind of like liquid vitamins I suppose. :)

I generally vacation near water being raised in south LA. I've been to the gulf coast many times. I lived through Betsy and Camille ... but I ain't gonna go nowhere near the gulf anytime soon if I can help it. Irrational? Perhaps. Safe? Definitely.

I prefer my gut to the gov't.

Mr. Wright, or Mr. Wells ? all those W's running together...

from page 7 of:

Kent Wells: Yes, the decision was taken about an hour after our 2:30 call yesterday, which
is what I feel bad about having just told you one thing and then an hour later
we make a different call and that’s why we got the press releases out from
Admiral Allen and then subsequently by us.

The – in terms of the risk, this is all about as we shut in the pressures, what do
the pressures mean. Where – like I say, we don’t know – if we can’t build up
pressure, where does that mean the pressure’s being relieved and it can be
everything from down very deep to shallower and it was really about trying to
understand what do the pressures over time mean, where does that mean the
pressures being relieved and it’s one thing to have pressure being relieved
deep down. It’s a more difficult situation as it’s being relieved shallow and
that’s what we’re just looking at is what do all the pressures mean to make
sure we understand exactly what’s going on. And I think I’ve talked about
that before, what we want to do is avoid that oil’s being put out in the shallow
and then there’s always the potential is motive that might be that
it could breach up to the surface.

and from p. 4&5, it sounds as if they want to make sure they understand the implications of the readings they get during the testing.

Kristen Hayes:
Good morning, Kent. I’m still not very clear on why the decision was made to hold off. I mean we understand that there’s more analysis needed of what? You said the seismic [wasn't] an issue, so was there an issue in the sequence of steps of how this was going to be done or was there concern that there – it might not be actually able to shut in the oil? I mean what exactly happened?

Kent Wells:
Yes, so the – remember the thing we don’t know is exactly what the integrity of the well is and it could be – if we don’t have full integrity, the integrity loss could be in numerous different places and what we’re trying to do is make sure that the test is designed and we understand whatever pressures we’re getting at what timeframes, what would that exactly mean. And so you look through all sorts of different scenarios and it was just going through and make sure that everybody was crystal clear on how we would do it, what the information meant, what limits we would have, et cetera. And so it was just making sure that there was no question in anybody’s mind. That we fully understood thing and had the right procedure in place. I don’t know if that helps you or not, but that’s really what the debate’s been about.

I think they finally got it..the well ain't about to build up clean because it's going to crossflow. Which means they were about to start running around their conference room in a panic thinking they had an underground blow out higher in the section, when all they have is the shallow stringer taking oil from the fat sand. I was surprised to hear them talk about the build up behavior as if they were back in College Station taking PBU 101. Now they get it, and I'm sure they'll get their simulations done, and won't be panicking when they fail to get pressure to build all the way.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and that upper stringer will be at exactly the same static pressure as the fat sand. What are the odds?


I've been keeping quiet, fingers crossed, biting my tongue, trying not to jinx the efforts with a lot of 'negativity' but 'what gives'?

The latest Top Kill(#6?) effort on hold because of questions about the indestructible 26" casing holding pressure(calulated at a mild 12000 psi at TOD?)?
Where are those seafloor strata reports? Oil leaking out of the well?
Still lots of gas leaking(40%?) out after 65 days and 3 million barrels of oil later?

This ultradeep GOM drilling(in gas hydrate mud) is too difficult and should be halted at least until the experts really know what is going on.

Since nothing is happening at the moment for whatever reason,
I'll revive Clinton's battleship top cap with 2 destroyers to form a cassion instead.


Missed you maj...welcome back

So the decision to proceed or not proceed with the shut in might be THE most important decision for BP to ever take, and extra 100,000 barrels spilled might be irrelevant, compared to skimming half the reservoir from the surface and turning the other half into "plumes" underwater? One try - do or die? Let's just not try and live another day?

Rockman -- There is no "public acknowlegement" of undersea venting, but I believe that it is occurring. And that it is known where.

With some reservation, let me report "publically" that I watched a ROV mission about 2 miles south of the well, at a depth of 5,770 feet. It was the first time I had ever seen a feed NOT from the well head, a very unusual event. Several watchers have noted that ROV equipped boats moved to this general area a number of times, beginning way back in the 1st week of June.

The ROV was following what appeared to be a shallow trench in the ocean floor. When some large, dark cloudiness became coming into view, the feed was abruptly cut.

Assuming that there's oil venting a couple miles from Macondo, without establishing that the oil is from Macondo there's nothing to go on.

Right. Just the video - which I lacked the capability to record. FWIW, I was not the only observer.

A successful relief well operation is the only "fix".

That's pretty much taken for granted at this point. What can't be taken for granted is that the RW(s) will work with 100% certainty.

Thank you, levi. I've seen it, too.

And thank you for corroborating.

Matt Simmons' claims were obviously unfounded, but I have the feeling that Sen. Nelson actually had "the goods" and was, umm, "instructed" to clam up.

How much back pressure was created by the LMRP cap? That didn't seem to be a problem.

Maybe they could test it to 4,000 psi instead of 9,000 psi and keep the q4000 and helix running...

That's about all the back pressure it needs for the relief well, isn't it?

brianb Yes 4,000 psi would be enough to allow them to run the WW full of mud up to the surface, which would be a considerably better way to do the bottom kill than without the higher back pressure. But you've got government scientists playing with their summer school science fair project at BP's expense. They see no downside to being hyper-cautious as they intend to be governed by the old adage "Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan bastard child of BP".

Gotta say, love that hi-tech magic marker on the choke valve assembly.

"18 3/4 Turns" with a giant arrow

I guess "Righty tighty/lefty loosey is on the other side... ;-)

My first thought was 'gate or plug?' and the second was 'what size?'

Did I read that correctly that the Helix is only going to ramp up to 12.5 k bpd? That's a disappointment if so.

Why not throw the cap on while they're waiting, see if it works and see what the total flow is.

Also here's a question: do they cement the last 100 feet or so of the kill shot? After they cement the lining and go in for the kill shot, waht is to stop the mud from wrecking that wedge of rock between teh RW and the WW?

"Why not throw the cap on while they're waiting........."

It's not as simple as that.

I can't understand why they dont connect the new riser to the top of the stack so they can collect all of the oil while they go over the figures etc. It seems like they could have contained all of the oil for the last 12 hours or so.

Did they ever get the old riser rigged down, the one with the drill pipe stuck in it? I don't see it on my live feeds this morning.

Right, they could be pouring it all into lined up super tankers right now if they wanted to, but NOOOooo....

There's a lot more than just foul odors from the spill wafting in from the Gulf.

You cannot pump directly from the well in to a supertanker, if you did eventually a massive natural gas explosion would occur. That's why they are bringing in additional processing capacity to separate and flare the natural gas from the oil.

Should they have had the capacity on site a long time ago? Yes, I do believe they should have. Still the processing ships are massively complicated and are subject to long start up times and occasional breakdowns under standard conditions, and these are anything but standard operations.

The public, who wants magic instant technology fixes is at odds with BP who wants to keep a veil of secrecy and appears incompetent by doing so. Is it likely that all the oil could have been captured by now if BP acted faster on many levels? Again I do think so, but only by a few weeks at most.

One assumes that unorthodox rapid deployment of large supplies of liquid nitrogen for use in explosion-proofing large-capacity vessels is considered "crazy talk." Exactly why, I don't know.

They could pump it to an FPSO. Mount a deck with 100,000 BOPD separation capacity, and a huge flare boom. The offtake could be done using flexible hoses connected to tension risers. It can be done in say three years, with pipelines going all the way to Baton Rouge.

Looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_Production_Storage_and_Offloading list of FPSO's I don't see any close to the Gulf. I'm assuming that any FPSO close to 100K bpd is hooked up and in production. Therefore before one could be moved in....

1. Production in the field would have to be shut in.
2. FPSO would have to be disconnected, unmoored, unloaded, and cleaned/prepared for transportation.
3. FPSO would have to arrive from wherever it was. (could take weeks depending on distance)
4. while the FPSO is on the way, remove the old damaged riser and create hardware for hooking it up (and in this case, tools for removing it. Remember the new hookup method has to have a way to vent in to the ocean incase the FPSO shuts down for whatever reason.
5. when the FPSO arrives, do the proper unpacking and prep for system startup.
6. Hook the system up and test for leaks.
7. Slowly bring the system up to full capacity.
8. Pray you don't have a hurricane.

The biggest problem with this blowout is that none of the tools and hardware (and rov training?) where in place before hand. Much of the stuff needed had to be manufactured. Much of the stuff being done has never been completed in the short amount of time that it needs to be done here.

Before the next blowout occurs (and there will be a next time eventually), drillers need to have the correct LMRPs prebuilt (even if sitting on land). And that a handling ship with far more capacity then necessary is on it's way to the site ASAP.

Me neither (why no collection while thinking), but I don't think the new collection cap is on the drill pipe yet. Since cutting off the end, they'd probably have to trip the drill pipe to get a new connector on it, unless they can un-screw pipe joints with ROVs, or they have some clamp-on connector for LMRP cap #10.

I think they got the drill pipe loose, I've seen it move vertically several times yesterday.

at 10:44 CST
Ent ROV1 is hanging out at the LMRP, looks like no drill pipe hanging down, so they must be tripping.
Ent ROV2 just went back in the water, got oil on it's camera, they turned the camera to a thruster and blew the oil off. Looks like it's descending, now outside of its cage.

"LMRP cap #10 on seafloor" - can't find any pictures of it.

The Discoverer Enterprise has dual rig capability. The new cap, TH-7, has been at depth, ready to go, for at least 24 hours, now. You will occasionally see it on the Ent ROV feeds, particularly Ent ROV2.

Hmmm, Kent said #10 in the transcript of the briefing.

Well, in any case, thanks for the report on your observation.

Forgot about the dual rig capability/presumed they'd re-use the old riser and pipe setup.

Given that the cap is ready to go, why not get it on and starting up. Even if they waste a day, that's a good hedge on deciding tomorrow that maybe the pressure test is not a good idea after all, and they collect that much more oil sooner.
If they do start the pressure test tomorrow, then so what - a little bit of nitrogen and methanol have gone to waste.

"Hmmm, Kent said #10 in the transcript of the briefing."

Really? I'll have to check that out. The one they lowered was definitely TH-7. They pulled the unconnected TH-7 and TH-8 all the way up from the bottom over the weekend with cable. Then they re-lowered TH-7, connected, and even primed it with methanol at one point.

Maybe they have pulled TH-7 back up. I haven't seen it in a while.

I do not know if they want to do the testing with the cap on, so I think that the effort to put it on, get it up and running, then shut it down and take it off, may have been deemed unfeasible/unreasonable. Or maybe the old riser is an issue. They have had difficulty withdrawing the old DP and I do not really know/understand what their plans are for the old riser/LMRP. It would also require static positioning of the Enterprise over the well which they may not want to do, for some reason, at this time.

In looking back a the transcripts, Cap #10 appears to have been the contingency cap for the naked riser after they removed the flange but prior to installation of the transition spool or new cap.

Re the delay to testing the well. If Chu et al have told BP to wait until they have revised procedures ready for the test, can BP claim that anything that goes wrong as a result of the test is "not our fault"? As in, "we're just doing what Chu told us, therefore we're not liable if this ends up blowing the casing / leaking out the seafloor / damaging the RW."

Conversely, if the integrity test does work and they end up shutting down the WW, can they claim that they could have done it quicker but Chu told them to wait, therefore they shouldn't be liable for any of the spillage that happened during the delay?

Seems to me like BP are very happy for Chu and the US government to take as many decisions as they like, because potentially it could be used as a card to reduce their own liability.

Any lawyers out there care to comment / rip this to shreds? :o)

Pure sausage, but I would guess that BP discussed the oil leaking as the result of the old cap being taken off before the Helix was put onstream and perhaps not being liable for that 15K BOPD up to the time the Helix is up to capacity, a new cap is on, or the well is shut in. I am assuming there are all sorts of legal discussions going on all the time. The negotiations on this type of thing will be going on for longer than the cleanup (My guess).

Would be fun to be in the discussion between BP/CG and the A Whale owners after the testing ends tomorrow.

Henry Fountain of NYT:

ABOARD THE RESOLUTE, 40 miles off Louisiana — Workers on surface ships continued to flare gas and oil on Wednesday at the site of BP’s runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico after officials announced that a critical pressure test on the well would be postponed.

Kent Wells, a senior BP vice president, said scientists from the industry and government were reviewing the test procedures. “This test is so important that a decision was made to give them another 24 hours,” he said at a Wednesday morning briefing in Houston. “We don’t want to end up with a test with inconclusive results.”

He said that drilling of a relief well that is considered the ultimate solution to stopping the gusher would be halted during the test as a precaution.

Mr. Wells said that a decision about the test would be made at midday and that it would probably begin Thursday. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has been involved, he said. ...

A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well.

“Some of this has been a topic of discussion for a long time,” said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

BP has said that the test will provide data to help in planning the relief well operation. But the technician said many relief wells had been successful without such information. “In my opinion, it’s not worth acquiring that data,” he said.

For the test, engineers would also shut down the two collection systems, and the flaring would end, at least temporarily. Drilling of the first relief well, which is nearing completion, would be stopped during the test in case the pressure increase caused problems deep in the runaway well, which extends 13,000 feet below the seabed.

“It’s a good precaution for us to take at this time,” Mr. Wells said, but added, “It will set us back a couple days.” ...

He said that a seismic survey, taken Tuesday, had no bearing on the decision to postpone the test. That survey showed the condition of the seafloor, to a relatively shallow depth.

Mr. Wells said in reviewing the test procedure, the scientific team was trying to make sure that the results could be properly interpreted — if pressure decreases over time, for instance, what that might mean about damage to the well, either near the seabed or far down in the well.

“What we want to avoid is oil being put out in a shallow environment,” he said, because if the oil seeps from the seabed it would add to the pollution.

At sunrise, bright tongues of flame could be seen coming from booms on two vessels: the Helix Producer, which began operating on Monday and is collecting oil and flaring gas; and the Q4000, which is burning both oil and gas, producing a sootier flame. ...

The City of Ships is busybusybusy this morning, sez.

I guess I am glad to have this delay so everyone can think through and debate the idea of shutting in the well and measure the pressure.. Looks like we have mutlitple fractions of engineers/scientist that have difference of opinions and they need time to fight/sort it out.

A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well.

LOL Now we are getting our info from techs. What's next, Chu and Well's send out the janitor to tell us what is going on?

How many months has this been in the planning and just yesterday they thought about this?

Pure nonsense.

We are being played, just not sure what the game is.

QUS, this "technician" has been NYT's source all along. No telling who it actually is, but given the skinny they've been publishing, "technician" = "someone pretty clued-in (with an occasional axe to grind)."

QUS, this "technician" has been NYT's source all along. No telling who it actually is, but given the skinny they've been publishing, "technician" = "someone pretty clued-in (with an occasional axe to grind)."

I'm surprised he hasn't been ferreted out and silenced after all this time. He must be leaking info they don't mind being leaked. Could it be they want to get the word out on certain points without its being attributable to an official source?

It's the typical ***source remains anon.. because they do not have permission*** to give information. This gives us the gray area on what's true or false.

Dunno, SL. NYT has proved useful in that connection before, hm? In this instance, however, "technician's" stance is anti company-line, so maybe not.

Well done but disturbing piece in WaPo

Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded

By Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 14, 2010; A01

The story of the last cataclysmic American oil spill has evolved over time into a straightforward tale of cause and effect: In 1989, a hard-drinking skipper ran his tanker aground in Alaska, and Exxon was unable to prevent crude from spreading along hundreds of miles of pristine shoreline.

But the full story of the Exxon Valdez wreck is far more complex, and it offers striking parallels to today's events in the Gulf of Mexico -- including a central role played by a consortium led by British Petroleum, now known as BP.

A commission that investigated the Alaska spill found that oil companies cut corners to maximize profits. Systems intended to prevent disaster failed, and no backups were in place. Regulators were too close to the oil industry and approved woefully inadequate accident response and cleanup plans.

History is repeating, say officials who investigated the Valdez, because the lessons of two decades ago remain unheeded.

You out there, TFHG?

The report also gave a hint of what might lie ahead. In Alaska, the environmental and economic damage from the spill was followed by increased alcoholism, depression, anxiety, domestic violence and child suicides.

More at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/13/AR201007...

I have already witnessed the depression and anxiety levels escalate and the drinking has too from what I've heard, never heard of child suicides though...

Very sad prediction

With all due respect how is that different from what has happened in most states the last few years. Oh yeah, I do not get a recovery fund from a big company or the government. (Let's not get into Alaskan drinking habits before or after the Valdez)

Watch the suicide rate in the months-years ahead.

Population control ?

Many would rather end it than live a different "lifestyle".

(Let's not get into Alaskan drinking habits before or after the Valdez)

Corrected: (Let's not get into Alaskan drinking habits before or after or on board the Valdez) :)

Looks like you're not the only one who is noticing the problems with emotional health... hope this winds up in providing some effective help for Gulf coast residents.

On Wednesday, July 14, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is slated to visit Bayou La Batre, Ala. to discuss with community residents, workers and responders as well as local officials, the mental health and public health aspects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Surgeon General will be joined by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials Pam Hyde, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Admiral Jim Galloway, HHS health liaison to the National Incident Command.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to Visit Bayou La Batre, Ala. and Address the Mental Health Impacts of Oil Spill

rainyday, just from listening to the two days of hearings in NOLA this week, my mood is lower-than-low. It was hair-raising to catch those stories one-after-the-other for hours, and if I'd had anything direct to do with causing this, I'd have needed to shoot myself. Whatever it takes, they've gotta get those thousands some damn HELP.

The worst challenge is undoubtedly the Coast Vietnamese, due to the language barrier. How many Vietnamese-speaking shrinks can we lay hands on? Therapy is no place for translators, even in cultures open to seeking it.

Oh hey, I'd forgotten this, but Regina Benjamin's gonna be coming home to Bayou La Batre. That's where she founded her clinic before she was Surgeon General.

Capt to Admiral:

Sir, why not at least put the cap on so you can collect the oil? I thought you have already said that the casing is compromised. Are you trying to figure out how compromised? If you are waiting for a couple of day to do analysis, why not rev up the RW again?

Admiral to Capt: Do you have a media pass?

Capt: No Sir.

Admiral: Lotus will get you one. next question.


snort: is that a 'negative soldier' to the media pass request?

Dunno. Wot's "a negative soldier"? Wuz laffin, 'sall.

ah. Laffin'. Thought it was a 'request denied', and I was about to launch remedial action for the review of the merits of the case up the chain of command, all the way to Rockman if necessary.

Not good:

Market talk of PetroChina interested in BP's (BP/ LN) assets in Russia

16:29 14-07-2010

snake -- As you know China has been hurriedly converting their US $'s to oil in the ground for a number of years. I can't imagine they weren't eyeballing BP within the first few weeks of the blow out. IMHO any Chinese company will be able to outbid the competitors for any/all of BP's assets. They just aren't constrained by the same economic model as the rest of the players. Their focus still seems to be more on access than profit.

That's the worry. The Pentagon and the spooks must be going apesh*t over the issue. BP has to survive because of its financial role so potential asset sales can't be blocked. Catch 22.

And the other problem: the more petro that China ties up and reserves, the less available on the market.

That is correct. People seem to forget that access to oil is not only an important commodity; it is a strategic asset for national defense. The US military is the world largest purchaser of oil in the world. BP supplies a significant amount of oil through contracts to the US government. China may get some BP ancillary assets in China friendly countries, but the core of BP’s assets in the US and core allies of the US will never go to a non-ally foreign government. I believe the strategic nature BP’s oil interest is the reason why we have so many government and military entities tied into the BP effort in the GOM.

"The US military is the world largest purchaser of oil in the world."
Maybe it is time for a smaller USA military.
Right now USA is paying almost as much for military as the combined total of rest of the world.

Three Good Reasons to Liquidate Our Empire
Chalmers Johnson
Author of The Blowback Trilogy

"The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union."


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

"The price in treasure has, in a sense, been financed entirely by borrowing. Taxes have not been raised to pay for it - in fact, taxes on the rich have actually fallen. Deficit spending gives the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed, that we can have both guns and butter. But of course the laws are not repealed. The costs of the war are real even if they have been deferred, possibly to another generation."


Snake -- You remind me of what I think I read a while back: BP is the prime supplier of fuel to the US military worldwide. Oh yeah the boys at DOD would be tickeled pink with that substitution prospect.

Yeah, and it makes me wonder if there's been discussion about some sort of fancy dress seizure and the subsequent fallout.

Good point. China has the deepest pockets and the greatest future needs. China already holds more USA debt than it can use, and is actively searching for better investments in any form: raw materials or existing companies that have rights to raw materials. Continued financial weakness of USA makes such companies a bargain.
USA is paying for the occupation of Afghanistan, but China won the contract for development of huge copper reserves there, and huge infrastructure improvements too. USA is paying for the occupation of Iraq, but China won the first big oil development contract there.

mauisurfer: Actually, the biggest contract in Iraq was won jointly by BP (51%) and CNPC (49%) for developing Rumaila field (2.85 million bpd expected). Exxon (80%) and Shell (20%) won W. Qurna-1 (2.335 million bpd and 40 billion bbl OIP). Eni, Sinopec, Oxy and Kogas won (1.125 million bpd) Zubair field. A second bid round awarded another 7 fields, which I won't get into.

Here are a few facts to chew on: BP produces almost 33% of all oil and 7% of all gas that is produced from the Gulf OCS. More than 20% of BP's worldwide oil production is in the Gulf of Mexico.

They are probably looking at plan D now.

Build a dam from Florida to Mexico, drain the Gulf and just let the oil wells flow freely and pump it out at the shore line.

...But first they have to figure out how to keep Cuba from stealing the oil on their North shore. ;-)

Chu is working on that. Something having to do with a photon trap.

Did they say the helix would only get 12.5 k bpd? How sad if true. The old cap was getting more than that.

Also, why not drill down to the liner point and then stop. The relief well was about 30 feet away from hitting the liner point, where it would have to wait for 3-5 days while they cement.

don't see why they have to shut it down completely. What do I know, but why don't they just see if they can shut it 1/4 of the way down...add some back pressure to it. That would make the RW easier and wouldn't risk blowing stuff out.

Brian, according to Wells this morning, HP can produce more and will later if needed.

So in terms of the 24 hour period yesterday, we collected a little over 17,000 barrels of oil. Approximately 9200 of that went to the helix producer and 7900 – approximately 7900 went to the Q4000.

What we did in anticipation of starting up the well integrity test, we went to what we call stable operations. You know this has been the early stages for the helix producer. What I will say is it’s working very well. They’re working out the all the kinds, it’s been very stable. So we’re pleased on how that’s operated. We certainly have a lot more capacity that we can continue to collect and we’ll look to ramp it up after we completed the well integrity test, assuming we have to go back to collection.

I am glad to hear that, thanks.

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I just want to say thanks to all of y'all for making me the smartest man in my peer group. Someone asks me a question about plugging the damned Macondo hole, I run over to The Oil Drum, and 15 minutes later I'm answering that question like a master driller. ;)

Y'all rock. Seriously. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

You are smart! You know the plural of "y'all" is "all y'all"! I've got almost no knowledge of this oil & gas business, but what I have I got here. I've done The Oil Drum run a time or two myself ;)

Wecome GCT. Don't shy...jump into the chats anytime. So you're a "master driller" now, eh? So if you go hang out on the fishing site and learn about baiting hooks you'll become a "master bai..." Never mind.

Reuters alerts:

US govt., BP (BP/ LN) officials meeting shortly to decide on whether to proceed with well test, says co. executive

17:50 14-07-2010
BP (BP/ LN) executive says co. could forego test if it determines high risk of damage to Macondo well

17:49 14-07-2010
BP (BP/ LN) executive says tells CNN delayed key well test due to concerns that it could damage undersea wellbore

17:47 14-07-2010

There has been lots of opinions regarding the risk/benefit analysis of the currently proposed pressure tests of the well/wellhead/BOP.

Lets put some numbers on the page.

Lets review what we know first. We know that the upper well/wellhead is operating at the static pressure of 4400 psi, from pressure data taken below and at different points within the original damaged/broken BOP. There is an additional 2150 psi pressure drop across the BOP. There is no reason to suspect that these numbers have changed significantly over the last two months.

It is a reasonable assumption that the entire wellhead/BOP can be safety pressurised to 4400 psi indefinitely during the bottom kill operation.

The relief well/bottom kill operation is complicated in this case due to the presence of two different lengths of well, once the RW is connected to WW. There is 5067 feet of difference between the two. Therefore, it will benefit the bottom kill operation if the wellhead/original BOP would be able to provide some static back pressure to balance out the system before introduction of cement. I will leave it to the professional to answer in detail, if they want to, but a RW operation can be planned around the 4400 psi of available back pressure.

For an "ideal" RW/WW configuration to balance 11900 psi of formation pressure at 18,360'TD, with a secondary exit at 5067' (wellhead/BOP), back pressure of 3284 psi would be needed. Obviously, this is available from the current wellhead/BOP, without further testing.

Once the back pressure requirements for the successful bottom kill operation are known, it becomes very difficult to accept the need for testing the wellhead/BOP to any values beyond the needed capacity. Given that the pressure expected at the wellhead/BOP for "successful" completion of the well integrity tests is 8000-9000 psi, and the ability of the system to "pass" is in doubt, it seems that the risks from this test greatly outweigh any practical benefits that may accrue. The risk, of course, is a furhter severe compromise of the upper well/wellhead/BOP integrity, making the future bottom kill much more difficult or impossible and making any containment/production also impossible. I do not think that the argument that this level of pressure has already been "reached" during the top kill attempt is solid, because the dynamic pressure during this event has not been published (am I wrong in this?) and, further, the exact reasons for aborting the attempt have not been clearly articulated.

So, given the now obvious risks associated with the integrity test and very little, if any, practical benefit, why has BP decided to do it in the last week?

The answer, I think, is in the information in the current NYT article on the subject. It appears that BP, though warned and prodded on this for well over a month, still does not adequate topside processing capacity to accept all of the oil. This means substantial amounts of oil still leaking into the Gulf for several more weeks, elevating the fines further and depressing stock price lower. Given their current political/economic predicament, BP has chosen a high risk gambit to "shut in the well", dangers be damned.

I strongly beleive they should not be allowed to conduct this dangerous and unneeded test only weeks before their best shot at the final closing of the well via relief wells.

Yeah, for the life of me I can't figure it out.

Why don't they put that second cap on it, isn't the discover exlplorer around to pick up its 15k bpd?

That would be all of it.

Thank you, Dimitry. I concur, except to say that BP's motive is to goose their stock price so the deal with Abu Dhabi brokered by Goldman works out for all concerned, especially BP brass who want golden parachutes.

It does appear that Chu has stepped in and said "no," or at least, "not so fast," after BP unexpectedly departed from prior articulation of the plan and announced the shut-in plan.

Reading some of the accounts in the articles would support this.

The reasoning you use and the arguments you make mirror Chu's reasonings when he shut down top-kill.

Additionally, when the announcement came out, there was a chorous of people on TOD raising the same concners. Why take the risk? What's the upside? Is it really worth it?

The announcemnets leave room for a decision not to proceed with the shut-in. If they cancel it, it would suggest Chu is why.

I don't think anyone has come up with a definitive account of what the upside of shutting in right now would be. Or I have not read the posts carefully enough, perhaps.

Is this a juncture where BP's interests depart somewhat from the public's interests (which is better served by a more conservative approach to maximize chances of final success) and Chu has stepped in the assert the public interest? Possibly, it would seem. He did it before at the top kill juncture, same reasoning.

In either case they need to get the decision made and either proceed with the test or get the rest of the containment hooked up and the leakage stopped.

It does appear that Chu has stepped in and said "no," or at least, "not so fast," after BP unexpectedly departed from prior articulation of the plan and announced the shut-in plan.

This is from Doug Suttles's 7/9 letter to Allen in response to Allen's demand the previous day for a detailed plan/timeline for the capping procedure:

At present this plan moves to shut in the well directly following the installation of the capping stack and the cessation of collection from the Q4000. Attachment A illustrates the range of possible timings for shutting in the well. Details for the shut-in procedure are being finalized in a meeting today, July 9th 2010, with the DOE, DOI, Federal Scientific Technical team and Secretary Chu who will be in attendance. The detailed procedures will be finalized and submitted to Unified Area Command for approval following this meeting.

Unless Chu didn't attend the meeting after all, he did have a crack at the shut-in plan at that point and presumably approved it. So if he's now said no, it's because he's had second thoughts, not because BP stole a jump on him.

FWIW, Allen didn't mention the shut-in plan during his 7/8 press briefing; he just announced that the capping operation and the hookup of Helix Producer were going to be combined to take advantage of the good weather. All he talked about was containment. But he did issue that sudden demand later in the day for Suttles to provide within 24 hours a detailed timeline, with contingencies, for the capping/hookup operation, and in the letter he also mentioned the shut-in plan, so it was something he already knew about.

Transcripts of the press briefing and text of the Allen and Dudley letters here:

Well, somebody said they had reached 10,000 psi with the top kill, but I don't know where this was measured. I guess I feel the shut in is a good idea to get some material balance work done, and I thought the BOP was in fairly good shape because they did go for the top kill atempt. But I'm not a BOP expert, so if you say it's too dangerous, then they probably should back off.

I did have a concern with a shut in building enough pressure to make the relief well drilling a little dicier (there seem to be quite a few thin stringers in the section), so my solution was to build up and then open up the well to process as much oil as possible via the existing vessels.

The other question is the weather. How much time do they have in the current weather window? I would really like to know if they can shut in should they have to move off due to a storm.

The original plan, as shown in the letter from Dudley to Allen, showed the good weather window extending through Saturday. Haven't seen anything later on it.


On the earlier closed thread you responded "Numerical analysis does not support your position."

I didn't do an analysis. I simply stated that I agreed with the necessity to shut in the well i.e. yes the flow needs to stop. Yes there needs to be measures in place to prevent additional oil dumping into the GoM due to any cause that necessitates a processing disconnect. I didn't say I agreed with how BP was going about it.

I expressed concerns regarding the flex joint because it isn't pressure rated to match the BOP.

When the weather allowed they were suppose to install the stack and make the connections then begin processing. Then came the last minute change to attempt shutting in the well but the question still remains as to why they are not connected and processing all the oil. Actually I think Thad Allen stated they would be exceeding capacity. I thought it best not to ask the meaning of this.

I agree with your comment regarding processing capability and when they have everything topside online and connected they still may be short of capacity. This is just one of their many shortcomings. I don't believe in giving kudos to sub-standard performance. I don't agree with corporate policy on bonuses given for showing up on time and in BP's case just showing up.

Well, don't they have about 45,000 KBD capacity? So why don't they hook up all three vessels, and choke the flow to match the vessel capacity? That's assuming the well will make 45,000 KBD with 2200 psi at the mud line. And if it's making more, then by golly choke it back a bit to stop putting oil in the water. That well has to have a really high productivity index (did anybody get a nodal analysis, they must have one but I haven't seen it).

It is a reasonable assumption that the entire wellhead/BOP can be safety pressurised to 4400 psi indefinitely during the bottom kill operation.

Don't agree. There is absolutely no assumption that the original LMRP (annulars, hyd coupler, flex joint, riser flange) can hold 4400psi, in fact there appear to be leakage traces around the flex joint that suggest the opposite.

That is my concern, and I haven't seen it addressed anywhere.

Just because the original ram assemblies are holding 4400 psi differential does NOT mean the original LMRP will hold once you move the restriction to the new 3-ram stack and pressurize the entire stack!!

edit: Unless you are referring to the lower stack only leaving the new 3-ram assembly unrestricted, in which case we agree.

Fair points. I base my assumption on knowledge of real world margins that exist in actual structures, even if large loads cause some plastic deformation. Often (not always), systems show more real-life resilience that exist on paper. Also, it is not clear what the BOP stack actually saw during the abortive top kill effort. Likely the upper portion of the stack did not see very high pressures, so it is not a proof of anything, unfrotunately.

But your concerns only argue for more caution in pressurising the system in any tests. We would do best to save any back pressure capacity when it is actually needed - during the bottom kill via relief wells.

I hear you on 'real world' vs theoretical when setting reasonable expectations. There is normally a much larger real world safety factor than the calculations suggest.

But in this case the stack played anchor to the DWH when it lost power, then the entire riser string fell to the seabed. This event undoubtedly stressed the flex joint significantly.

The other factor making me nervous is the requirement to straighten the flex joint with jacks. IIRC, the BOP itself is pretty near vertical. If I understand the construction correctly, the flex joint should return to vertical on its own when side stress is released, unlike a more traditional ball joint. The fact it had to be jacked back to vertical suggests caution...

Or am I missing something?

I wholeheartedly agree with your overall position in terms of great caution regarding this shut in test. I really don't see any overriding need for it right now. Leave the restriction on the original ram assembly as it is now and produce 100% of the O/G to surface without pressurizing the 3-ram stack (and original LMRP) any more than absolutely required.

The first Gulf Coast Kemp's Ridleys have launched from KSC (into the Atlantic). Fair winds and following seas to youse, kiddos.

US House Committee Passes Ban on Future BP Leases


I would think that that would give BP another step toward filing bankruptcy. I don't see why they haven't already filed myself...

I'm starting to ponder the theory I read earlier in this thread that consciously or subconsciously BP* wants to destroy the GOM entirely so it's easier for them to drill there in the future. The "gonna do the time, may as well do the crime" theory. The jokes in the last few posts about "damming" the Gulf show the body politic resonating with this possibility. wtf!

*if a corporation is a "person", BP is one f'd up mental case.

There won't be a BP if they "destroy the GOM entirely."

This has to be done in stages. Once all marine life is extinct bothersome environmental regulations can be discarded.

Then the next step is renaming the affected entities. The Gulf of Mexico is given a new name... "The Strategic Petroleum Reserve".

Then, BP is no spilling oil into a pristine ocean environment... they are "adding to the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve".


On the other hand, asphalt will be cheap and highway infrastructure repair will boom, reducing unemployment.

*if a corporation is a "person", BP is one f'd up mental case.

Indeed, if it were a "person" it could be Baker Acted and we could collect a boatload more money from the years long incarceration therapy.

I think it's pertinent to recall BP has been using an environmental good guy image for quite a few years. And this means many young guys and gals who work there decided to work for BP because they thought this was really neat. And this means they're probably shocked. So this incident is going to hurt a lot of people, and I think many of them are going to be BP employees. When I think of it, BP may need a plan to slow down attrition, because I suspect many of them are going to leave if they can manage to get jobs elsewhere.

So their resumes will say, "Worked at... a large unmentionable oil company for X years"? ;)

Well, I suppose they'll point out they had nothing to do with it. The older fellas from Amoco and Arco heritage may have a better rap sheet. The young ones who got no say in anything anyway will just need to have some attitude fixin. My impression is they have too much commmercial control, not enough engineering, and they re-organize too often, which means the organization doesn't get to shake down. Must be listening to high fallutin' consultants.

The second time I ran into these high fallutin' consultants they wanted to re-organize us and the guy in charge didn't even know we had to file taxes overseas, and kept separate tax books for each foreign subsidiary. He re-organized us into a mess, and he became famous writing books about how smart he was.

The FIRST time I ran into one of those high fallutin' consultants, they sent a guy to watch me work, and he wrote in his report that I spent too much time staring at maps and charts. Lucky for me my boss was an old timer and tossed him out the window before I could get to him. I was 28 and I already had delegation of authority to approve drilling locations, and the guy expected me to approve them as if we were working at McDonald's.

My conclusion? BP has too many high fallutin consultants working for them in London. And they do need to change some managers, and put in a culture which respects the engineering profession, and puts the bean counters in the back of the bus.

Defenestration sounds like a great idea for multiple folks at BP land.

Sooooo, the amendment "would prevent BP ... and other companies from getting new leases unless they pass safety and environmental requirements." And . . . what?

I'd bet that lobbyists are working on that right now. Less then 4 months till elections.

snake -- Not much meat in that article but if I read it correctly it's not just BP...no company will be granted a lease for 7 years unless they met some undefined hurdle.

Whatever the hurdles are, I hope that they're not defined by Congress and that they're immune to politics.

They designed this stack months ago. They put three rams on it for shutting off the oil.

Yet they want us to believe yesterday they decided to talk about it and decided they had not talked about it enough.

Me thinks there is a cat fight going on at a high level.

me too. has all the markings of one. But i take it as a good sign, not a bad one.

MSM has been reporting for weeks that shut down was planned. It's doubtful that the admin would have allowed hopes to escalate beyond expected outcome.

I don't remember any mention of a complete shut-in attempt in the MSM at all untill about a week ago. The plan was always explained as new cap = fuller collection or complete collection. Shut-in has been described as a relief well operation ever since the demise of top kill.

I took what they were saying to mean they would have full containment, not that they shutting in of the well. But i could have gotten that wrong. I don't recall any prior discussion about the risk here on TOD until after the announcement yesterday.

Agreed, outcome was not specifically defined in the MSM. It's hard to argue though that things happened according to plan yesterday. People expected pressure testing which didn't happen. This can only undermine confidence and it's unlikely this undermining is beneficial to the admin. Something unexpected had to cause the decision. The "we're just being cautious" theory doesn't pass the straight-face test.

There is no downside for the gov't to suspend this. They can portray it as "we are protecting the public interest from another catastrophy". Meanwhile Washington can continue hammering BP and Oil to further their agenda. You bet there is a cat fight=gov't wins. This will go on a long time, the gov't(admin) sees no upside, presently, to capping the well. Cap&trade is on the agenda later this month. Don't be surprised if the RW is suspended as long as possible as well.

They can, but they aren't. So I think you can relax. This sounds too much like the wild claims that GWB let 9/11 happen for similar political reasons. It's wild speculation and conspiracy theory madness. It is laughable to suggest that Chu would participate in such a scheme. For what? He's a nobel winning scientist, not some two-bit political henchman.

He is a nobel winning scientist with an agenda against the company he is overseeing now.

He is a vocal advocate for more research into alternative energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combating climate change. For example, he has conceived of a global "glucose economy", a form of a low-carbon economy, in which glucose from tropical plants is shipped around like oil is today.

Barack Obama and Al Gore won Nobel prizes.

Not in physics.

Peace Prize is a different prize committee, award by 5 people chosen by the Norwegian "Storting" (parliament).

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegain Parliament). The Committee's composition reflects the relative strengths of the political parties in the Storting, and is assisted by specially appointed expert advisers.

politicians instead of scientists.

The other prizes are awarded by:
(Chemistry, Physics) Swedish Academy of Sciences
Physiology or Medicine by Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet.


No, you miss the point. A physicist who is at the level to be considered for the prize is not likely to toss science in the trash can in order to achieve dasterdly political goals, let alone do so in a fraudlent manner, where he uses contrived science as a cover for the hidden short-term tactical political goal of helping build support for a piece of legislation.

Quick, grab that tether to reality before you float off into deep space. It is an absurd proposition on its face.

Gotta run.

Politicians play these scientist types like an accordian all the time. When they wake up from their naivete they protest and/or quit. When Chu realizes he's being played he'll quit. Or, he may see that the benefit of pursuing and possibly attaining his stated goals outweigh the negative of compromising integrity. Politics and science are mutually exclusive. Politics is about compromise and deals. Science is supposed to be about facts. He wouldn't be the first one to join the political realm ie global warming.

Uh, QUS, you do remember that "BP," according to itsownself, stands for "Beyond Petroleum"? Right?

I do remember that. I know I read an article about all the US backed loans and grants and tax write offs BP has gotten for their wind farms they have built all over the world.

They are a smart business in ways, no matter which way the wind blows they will have a stake in it and benefit from the fight that ensues.

When you sign on with the political organization known as the "admininistration" you become a "two-bit political henchman" at the beck and call of the president whether you like it or not: or you resign. They hired this guy from the beginning to give cover. A nobel just adds a bit more oomph. Some of these guys are naive and believe they actually have independence. They're the ones that quit early. It looks like Chu is on the bandwagon.

Sorry, you have not provided any basis in fact to support your wild leap of logic. And you opinion is grounded in conspiracy theory speculation, not fact.

Your opinions are noted. What would need to happen to disprove your theory, anything?

LOL You have no clue on how politics work. I'm a pessimist, you're an optimist. Three months of trying to shut in the well with the BOP and top kill and all of a sudden the casing is questionable?

The casing integtity was in question since top kill from the stand point as to all interconnecting parts and function.

I'm guessing that being a pessimist brought you to the conclusion that the last three months has been about shutting in the well. What does shutting in the well mean?

With the social skills you're showing us, no wonder you're a pessimist. Just sayin'.

With the social skills you're showing us, no wonder you're a pessimist. Just sayin'

LOL Pretty touchy aren't we? Can't believe politics are involved? Or the beloved president's men are "two-bit political henchmen"? Or now the integrity of the casing is questioned? Which is it?

It's your rudeness. Period.

You need to learn some manners, kalalp.

You might also do a little review of discussions here, and news flow elsewhere. The possibility of problems with wellbore integrity has been understood and discussed for many weeks.

The more interesting question is: "When did the plan to conduct an integrity test (i.e., shut in the well with the new cap complex) develop?"

I don't think any of us had any idea they were planning such a thing until very recently, and it may be that Secretary Chu's group was less than fully aware of this, also.

Yeah...we've been telling you for weeks that we'd have this thing under control when the cap is installed but now that it is, we decided it's better to not test it's shut-off capacity. We're doing this to protect the public.

uh huh.

"We're doing this to protect the public."

I have not heard anyone claim that. When they do do that type of political PR, they make some show of it. there's been nothing. Instead, they just said a little more testing to make sure we get this right.

I applaud that. This has not been engineered in advance like a lunar landing. Slight delays to recalibrate or to take into account dissenting views are to be expected and applauded because they reflect good, careful judgment.

Perhaps. Seems the PR guys would have adjusted expectations prior to yesterday though.

They designed this stack months ago. They put three rams on it for shutting off th

Not necessarily. The rams are useful for bottom kill as well, when/if they want to add extra mud weight from the top. I'd imagine it would be very difficult to kill a well that is freely flowing up tops. For one thing, even if they have enough MW to kill the well (which at the moment is debatable), you'd still be losing a constant stream of mud to the ocean. How the heck do you cement a well in such conditions? I don't know. Perhaps someone can tell me whether that is possible.

Three rams to shut off the oil? I doubt it. Probably blind, shear, and pipe, to deal with the debris coming up when RW pumps mud from below, then final top plug from above.

What does this mean?

If the cap doesn't work, I'm donating my swollen prostate. It stops a leak mid stream.


Today's daily 2:30 CST daily briefing has been postponed to 3:00 CST. Hmm....cold feet??

Next live technical briefing dial in details
Technical briefing moved back 30 minutes

BP is hosting twice daily technical briefings to provide updates on its subsea containment efforts. The briefings will be held at 7:30 AM CDT and 2:30 PM CDT.

Today only the call will be at 3 PM CDT. The dial-in details for these briefings are as follows:

US/Canada Dial-In Number: (877) 341-5824
International/Local Dial-In Number: (706) 758-0885

Password for morning briefings: AM Technical Briefing
Password for afternoon briefings: PM Technical Briefing

or the noon meeting to decide go/no go has not finished yet.

From the NY Times article:

Mr. Wells said that a decision about the test would be made at midday


Cold feet? Or more cat fights?

Sure be interesting to be a fly on the wall in Houston..

Mr. Wells statement about the "process" benefiting from more analysis struck me as gobbledygook. At this point my guess is the well was always a problem and is still a problem and they really can't get a handle on it. They could be trying to come to grips with what to do and not just deciding to do the pressure test or not.

Mr. Wells said that "The plan is that at midday today, the team will get back together and a decision will be (maken) – be taken on the path forward." I interpret that to mean the meeting began at midday (CDT), not that the decision will have been made by midday.

Sure would be interesting to be one of those flies.

Allen is now scheduled to give his briefing at 4 pm, CDT - an hour after Wells.

I'm picturing the war room in Dr. Strangelove.

If the rig bosses on 4/20 were distracted by BP's "celebrate safety" party, that would be, tonally, sort of like the Soviets deciding to keep the Doomsday Machine a secret.

a poster at Zero Hedge explains:

From BP/Gov

"As a result of those discussions we decided the process may benfit from additional analysis"


We reviewed the data and realized we are completely scr*wed. We can not tell you the real magnitude of the problem, until we create a story of what we are going to do and why we are extremely confident it will work. We need time to get our story straight.

Sounds more like the guy can't say what he wants to say and has to defend what's going on anyway, so he said something that was nothing.

Sounds like they have not reached agreement on how to proceed and they are in the process of addressing the differences of opinion, perhaps with the result being that

1. they proceed with the test,

2. they modify the plan to take into account dissenting views, or

3. They cancel the test.

Someone perceives the test as wandering into the yellow zone without sufficient upside to justify the risk and thus defaults to the green zone to maximize chance for success on the ultimate objective, especially in light of all the previous failure and the consequnces of failure here.

Show him something that justifies going into the yellow or that demonstrates we would stay in the green, and he'll go with it. Otherwise, we default to green, on principle and plan discipline.

Right. Wells wants to crank up the voltage, go to the lab and throw the switch.

Just looking at it from a pr standpoint ...

1. they proceed with the test
- and it succeeds ... maybe they get a bit of useful info' and the delay will fade in the mist of memory
- and it fails ... well, the sound of "we WARNED you!" will ring out across the land

2. they cancel
- some griping about the hours of uncontained flow and the delays in the RW and preparation for more containment, and then the focus will soon switch back to the RW

I vote they cancel.

This may be a case in which partial daylight on the decision making process winds up influencing the decision. Even if Chu et all believe the risk is small enough to go ahead, it will be difficult to give the ok.

Or, alternatively, the fact that the concern was of sufficient magnitude to warrant a standoff suggests that there is a hurdle to meet, and it probably is not trivial.

This view is based on the assumption that there is a bona fide dispute not based on ploitics, but on science. It is an alternative view to the theories that this is being spun for PR or fabricated to advance the energy legislation.

There is always room for competing theories. Let them stand or fall on their own merit!

news that will shift the stock price? 3p CDT is market close. Abandoning shut in will dip the stock.

Now delayed until 5PM CDT.

This just gets curiouser and curiouser..

Yeah well, it's going around.

So Allen gets to announce the cancellation at 4 pm?

Just heading out to the dock and read the headlines for BP on Bloomberg:

Allen says delay was in order to avoid "irreversable mistake~

Gov't gives go ahead for BP Integrity Test~ 17:39

Sorry if the Allen stmt was already posted and I missed it.


we could build a stack of them so there's backups.

Does anyone know if the readings on pressure in the well are taken at the sea floor via camera on gauge or are they sent via wire to a control board on ship?

Telemetry back to the ship. From this AM's Kent Wells teleconference:

"One thing I want to make sure people don’t – because I even saw it in the news last night. People still looking at pressure gauges and talking about that. The pressure sensing devices are what we call pressure transducers and they send a signal to the surface which are then are converted to their actual pressure readings. So we will not have ROV cameras on pressure gauges that will show what the pressures are during the tests. The pressure gauges you see are for our hydraulic equipment or (accumulators) et cetera like that."

Yet another opportunity to obscure data unless a public video feed shows the transducer readings. Of course if they do reach full valve closure and some time later the local seabed starts venting methane and oil...

I then wonder how much "Wehidesit", would be required to make that "disappear"?

Watch over here while we cut through a pipe or fiddle with a gadget. All the other ROV pix are solid green or blacked out because, uh, their crews are tired and have to pee.

Watching the installation of the sealing cap over the weekend, on the chat board I saw a lot of comments comparing the excitement of watching this to seeing the moon landings.

I guess no one here remembers the inevitable hold and delays that preceded those launches.

Reading some of the comments on this board -- and listening to the press -- following announcement of delays, I'm reminded of the psychological test subplot of the "Social Psychology" episode of the NBC comedy, "Community".

I was in Australia on R&R when we landed on the moon! I was very excited!!!!

I was 12, and at a family picnic at Portola State Park (about 15 miles West of San Jose, CA). I listened to the landing on a transistor radio, then we drove home in time to see Armstrong leave the LEM.

The Aussie's were really into it, they had a tracking station and even made a movie about it a few years back called "The Dish" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205873/

Being all of 19 and getting 5 days in Sydney my focus was elsewhere.

"Being all of 19 and getting 5 days in Sydney my focus was elsewhere."

You mentioned R&R. Were you in the military at the time?

I can only imagine what you were focused on, but would it be roughly what distracted Paul Hogan about 20 seconds into this 1984 ad?

Yea, Army. The flew us from Saigon to Darwin in about 4 hours. Let us off the plane, we didn't where the hell we were, gave us 2 beers and back on the bird for 4 more hours. Dead of winter in Sydney and we had nothing but short sleeve khaki's! Still, we partied like it was. . . 1969!

A few weeks ago, I took my dad to an appointment at his cardiologist, and while in the waiting room, I struck up a conversation with an older guy who told me -- after telling me about his two bypasses and their complications -- of his service in the infantry in Viet Nam.

IIRC, he said he was a "quad gunner", and told me some horrific stories, including a couple about watching choppers go down in a LZ, and seeing one guy cut in half by the rotors, while another was decapitated.

I was still in high school when Saigon fell, and thought many of you guys got a raw deal upon your return to the U.S.

Thanks for your service!

I was still in high school when Saigon fell, and thought many of you guys got a raw deal upon your return to the U.S.

Being in Oklahoma, I did not witness any of that crap, which is a good thing because someone would have gotten hurt. It turned my stomach when I saw the news reports. I had one buddy that died there as a hero (Silver Star). Another was copilot on a Huey, had his arm shot off and pilot killed and landed using his bloody stub, saving the other 2 crew members and they had to escape back to friendlys on foot and him with a broken leg. Also Silver Star, and will always be a hero to me.

For those not familiar with the show "Community", and episode I referred to, the subplot involves a psychological test where a group of test subjects, who have volunteered for a psych test, are placed into a room and told that the test will begin soon.

After they are waiting for awhile, one of the people conducting the test comes into the room and tells the group that there's been a delay, but the test will start soon. This cycle repeats every hour or so.

One by one, the test subjects "crack", and their reactions as they leave the room are observed.

It turns out that the object of the test was to test a theory that people will eventually react explosively when something they are waiting for is delayed.

Much comedy ensued.

Some one check my math, where do we stand?

30,000 bpd * 90 d = 2.7 Mbbl total

daily US consumption (eia) = 19.5 Mbbl

2.7 / 19.5 = 0.138

0.138 * 24 hours in a day = 3.3 hours worth of oil spilled so far

Double it to 6.6 if it's flowing at 60,000 bpd

Our great nation will die a few hours sooner.

Plus we are wasting a lot of fuel on all those giant ships.

Earlier on these series of threads, mention was made of the recent Joe Leimkuhler (from Shell) July 9th Aspen presentation on "Drilling for Oil: A Visual Presentation of How We Drill for Oil and the Precautions Taken Along the Way" [We do it safer than BP]

That presentation has now be posted on the Aspen site at: http://www.aifestival.org/audio-video-library.php?menu=3&title=639&actio...

While the video includes the slide projection screen and is somewhat readable, I have not been able to find a good copy of the actual slides posted elsewhere.

Here is a quote from the current front page NYT article on the test delay:
If the pressure test shows that the well is damaged and the valves have to be reopened, full containment of the oil would probably not occur for several weeks, until one or two more ships could be brought in to handle more of the flow. That would raise total collection capacity to more than 60,000 barrels a day, the current high-end estimate of the well’s flow rate. Halting the gusher would then await the completion of the first relief well.

This means BP still doesn't have enough topside production capacity, hence their sudden turn to a high-risk plan

Helix+Enterprise+Q4000= 53000+ BOPD can be ramped up beginning today if they want to.

Maybe the article's information is wrong...

If you look at the marine chart, Toisa Pisces, the next FSPO scheduled to be put online, is already at the site. I believe she and her increased capacity will replace Q4000 once the second floating riser is complete (due 7.17 or 7.19 iirc) That will have the added advantage of ending the flaring of 8,000 bbls of oil a day.

Eventually, the Discoverer Enterprise (on site) and Clear Leader (not yet on site) are to be connected to the kill and choke lines on the new sealing cap when the flexible piping(?) is ready. Before then DE can be attached via the yet one more new cap sitting nearby on the seafloor. (the rovs seem to have been working on getting the pipe for that new cap ready.)

Maybe there is more oil coming out of the well than BP is admitting

(i'm gonna lost a $50 bet if there is less than 70K, so I shall not opine on that hot button!)


Maybe. I wouldn't expect newspeople to be experts. I advise some of them informally, send them emails when they goof up. They take it well, and they are pretty smart. But they're not petroleum engineers. And even a petroleum engineer who hasn't worked offshore or knows the hardware gets lost here.

The well's production capacity is a function of the backpressure the reservoir sees. This backpressure is a function of the flow capacity of the rock, the completion (meaning the type of conduit taking the oil from the rock face to the wellhead, the flow rate, the fluid properties, and of course the famous choke.

The choke is used to provide a section of pipe where the flow is forced to go through a small cross-sectional area. For a well like this, if you force it to go through a small cylinder 2 inches in diameter, the pressure drop caused by this cylinder is caused the "choke effect". It's possible they have a variable choke down at the bottom, in the pipes connected to the wellhead (the BOP), and it's possible they also regulate pressure at a manifold located at the surface. So it's possible to force the well to go through these restrictions, increase the backpressure, reduce the flow, so it fits in the equipment that's available.

I think the NY Times writer isn't up to speed in this field. Again, that's not something to be ashamed of, many engineers don't specialize in this field either.

Stop quoting BP collection rates like they have some basis in reality.

Collection rates are accurate within 5 %. They have a basis in reality. Maybe we should explain the oil COLLECTED is run through a surface system equipped with meters, and the equipment is run by contractors (not BP). The contractors are responsible for system calibration, metering, and so on. I would expect the MMS to have personnel aboard monitoring the metering. A lot of the oil is being offloaded to tankers, and they have to sign off on the volumes loaded, so this is also used to calibrate the meters. I said 5 % to be generous, but I would expect a system backed by tanker ullage should be within 1 %.

What they don't know is the volume going out directly into the sea. That volume can be established in part by measuring the well pressures (the test they're taking now will help), but they won't be conclusive either, because the reservoir is too complex to figure out the amount of oil produced with just a pressure reading, it'll take a lot more data gathering to finally pin it down. But they should have a fairly decent idea in a few years.

AP update on A Whale with a number:

A giant Taiwanese oil skimmer has collected 6.3 million gallons of oily water from the Gulf of Mexico as tests continue to prove its worth in the cleanup effort. Bob Grantham, a spokesman for TMT Offshore Group, which owns the "A Whale" vessel, said Tuesday the oil-water mixture had been collected during the past three days.
The skimmer is capable of sucking up 21 million gallons of oily water per day.


At 10% oil, that would be 5,200 bbl/day, which would be more than the fleet collects. However, I'd guess it's more like <1% oil, since the collection slots appear to be around 2' high/deep and the oil layer is a fraction of a millimeter thick. Interesting that the writer repeats the claim about sucking up 21m gal/day after saying that it actually sucked up 10% of that.

Two ships with Dutch skimmer arms remain in port. I wonder why, given the "surge."

It is my understanding that A Whale has the capability of separating most of the water from the oil/water mixture after it is collected and dumping the water overboard.

It will be interesting to get the final report on how well it works. These news stories are always a little short on hard facts.

and news stories based only on releases from pr guys working for the vendors are always a bit suspect.

I appreciate the openness that BP is showing with the current efforts underway to clean up the spill and develop the relief wells. I can't help but be skeptical however given the fact that BP has such a terrible track record when it comes to safety and openness about the real facts. BP has continually worked outside the norms and standard operating procedures of the industry. I find it interesting that now they are taking advice from other companies given the fact that they ignored suggestions and advice from experts when building the Deep Water Horizon well. BP's poor judgment and irresponsibility is clearly outlined when you look at the graph and safety record provided by the American Energy Alliance and Save U.S. Energy Jobs website (http://www.saveusenergyjobs.com/resources/). Why is no one talking about these facts?

I have been following the Spill since the beginning, while I'm an engineer I'm not in Oil or mining. I must say that some of the engineering I've seen on the ocean floor is remarkable. Cheers! But some of the management leaves me gasping. As I look back and understand that BP et al, possessed remote shears and were able to cut off the orig riser and drill rod I simply cannot understand why they didn't do that immediately, remove the sheared section on the BOP fasten the new adapter thimble (my name for it) and then couple on new riser to collect the oil until they could locate and transport the new 3 valve gate and install it on the well to start shutting it down. I don't know if a throttled down well would have then let them make the Top Kill work or not but at least it would have let them capture and control a lot of the lost oil. In terms of dollars and cents it seems that that would have been a major BP cost savings over this nickel and dime approach they took.

From a Reuters update:

Nansen Saleri, former head of reservoir management for Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, told Reuters BP should scrap the test and keep using surface vessels to collect leaking crude until a relief well intercepts and plugs the leak by mid-August.

It is not HIS ocean that is getting oil dumped into it after all.

did he mean "skimmers" or "Q4000/Helix Producer/Discoverer Enterprise/..."?

The former is ludicrous, the later seems entirely reasonable.

They've wasted a day+ letting oil spill out the top of the new cap,
while the DE is hanging around waiting.


Kent Wells lead us to believe that placing a BOP on top of the failed BOP was not an option and they had to go away and design and manufacture a new containment system.

Yet what we now see is effectively a new off the shelf BOP coupled to the old BOP.

If you would read the releases you would know it is not "off the shelf" and understand the time line.

Read every release and watched every video. What is now stacked on the old BOP is nothing like Wells painted and is just an off the peg BOP with a modified Choke.

It doesn't matter what the abbreviation is.

What matters is the function. The valves/rams on the new constraption can shut down the well - a function commonly associated with a blow out preventer systems.

Shutting down the well mechanically was never mentioned as a viable option before several days ago.

A mechanical valve system (aka BOP) on top of the existing configuraiton, for the purposes of shutting in the well was officially rejected months ago by BP and suddenly revived a week ago.

It was an option that they considered and took steps toward implementing (robbing the BOP from RW #2). They did not at that time seem to have the capability to unbolt the flanges. Also the new stack weighs 1/3 as much and is shorter, which may have been a consideration, given that it has to sit on the flex joint.

Aybody know what this is coming from the feed from Skandi ROV 1 about 2:25pm CDT?

The ROV mission is labeled as "Sonar Survey"

On-board sonar on the ROV as part of a navigation thing or something else?

This ROV is performing a Sector Scan inspection. This is essentially a metal detector. ie it is scanning around and should be picking up the large objects like the well head / new BOP; the old LMRP, junk on the sea floor from other operations etc.
Typically it has a range of a couple hundred yards or so.

As to WHY it is doing it, that is a mystery to me!!!???

To amuse and confuse the people watching the ROV cams is my best guess. "Look! it is showing YELLOW METHANE leaking from the sea floor cracks!! Oh my, we are doomed!"


Mapping the lake of oil.

Or, sonar is looking for the up-armored titanium-skinned Godzilla just arrived from Tokyo Bay and surely lurking just out of camera range. Attracted, no doubt, by the huge lake oil coming up from the massive tear in the sea floor or perhaps the space-time fabric itself. Or, just waiting for the coming atomic blast to breed baby Godzillas ;-)

Jeez Louise! I almost am afraid to type that because someone will likely believe it.

> coming atomic blast to breed baby Godzillas

They breathe methane and exhale H2S, you know. And poop out radioactive asphalt.

I almost am afraid to type that because someone will likely believe it.

Believe it and post it elsewhere, claiming "I saw this on the highly respected TOD."

Looking for all the tools the ROVs have dropped the past couple of months?

The AP catches Suttles in his cautious mode:

NEW ORLEANS — BP's work to cap its Gulf of Mexico gusher was in limbo Wednesday after the federal government raised concerns the operation could put damaging pressure on the busted well and make the leak worse.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the government didn't want potentially dangerous pressure tests on a new, tighter cap that has been placed on the well to go ahead until BP answers questions about possible risks.

Gibbs said he did not consider the delay to be "some giant setback," describing it as "a series of steps ... that are being taken in order to ensure that what we're doing is being done out of an abundance of caution to do no harm."

A top BP executive said there was no guarantee the company will get approval to go ahead with capping the well, a temporary measure. Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told The Associated Press in an interview that BP is trying to resolve the government's concerns.

"I don't know whether we will get that approval or not," Suttles said. "I hope we do."

At the same time, BP on its own temporarily halted the drilling of two relief wells that are designed to plug the gusher permanently from underground. That work was halted for up to 48 hours as a precaution because it's not yet clear what effect the testing of the new cap could have on it, the company said. ...

On down in the story, a woman from Bayou La Batre says everybody there is jumping out of their skins right about now:

"Everybody's calling everybody. It's hectic," said Nelson. "Everybody is worried about them blowing the whole thing out. If that happens, there's nothing they can do but let it drain out."

For one expert's view on why they are stopping progress to do a "well integrity test":


Regardless of the reasons for more testing, my question is still, why not do both? If they really need a well integrity test, do it with the riser connected, and sending all the oil to the surface.

They are concerned about a well rupture if they shut the valve.
They cannot send all the oil to the surface yet because they do not have enough ship capacity to hold it all.


Interesting, this part:

We also know that between the "capping stack" and the old BOP that there is a non-wellhead rated piece of equipment, known as the flex joint, along with the riser adapter, that we've talked about before. This piece of equipment, that normally sits above the BOP, is not rated to those pressures encountered in wellheads. All of the other components in this BOP are rated to at least 10,000 psi (new, off the shelf, and undamaged); this piece is by far the weakest link in the chain, especially since it took severe stresses as the rig sank and 5,000 feet of riser torqued it as it sank. Yesterday, Adm. Allen announced they were going to take the stack, including this flex joint, to as high as 9,000 psi for up to 48 hours. I have been unable to learn the model and rating of the flex joint here, but Oil States advertises their LMRP flex joints to be rated 600-6,000 psi, far below the 9,000 to which Adm Allen said they would potentially go; even with the 2,200 psi of hydrostatic pressure on the outside of the compenent caused by it being in 5,000 feet of water, it's still at least 1,000 psi differential pressure over the rating of the component.

Can anyone shed any info on the pressure rating of this flex-joint?

I think a well integrity text requires all the valves be closed. Therefore they can't do both. However, they can and should be ready to collect the oil as soon as possible. I think they'll probably close the well in this evening, and watch it, meanwhile they'll be prepared to flow it to the production units over the next 48 hours. The well should hold, and they should then proceed to produce it to avoid high pressures downhole. But I would choke it back some to try to keep the pressure the relief wells see fairly high - this will avoid a lot of uncontrolled mud loss.

Those guys seem to be getting pretty smart, so I think it'll be fine. The oil spill phase is about to end. Now we got to clean the beaches and the march, and teach people to clean tar off their feet for a couple of seasons.

The afternoon daily briefing was postponed from 2:30pm to 3pm and now to 5pm CDT

Kent Wells update has changed from 2pm to 3pm to 5pm now.

At this rate maybe we will hear something by midnight.

They have to get out of the East Coast news time slot.

That chunk of pipe seems to be gone from the old cap. Anybody see what they did with it?

Don't know if it is significant but BOA ROV feeds mission title just changed to "Well Integrity Test" a few moments ago. Previously said "Well Integrity Test Preparation".

We'll see, but you might have to change your handle to "Scoop," Undertow.

Well it's what it says...

CNN saying test will go forward.

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- The man leading the federal response effort to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is expected to announce Wednesday that an "integrity test" on the ruptured oil well will go forward, barring any last-minute objections from government scientists, a BP source told CNN.

Announcement expected that 'integrity test' moving forward

Okay, it's official: Undertow is now Scoop -- W00T! Beat CNN (or at least rainyday) by 20 minutes!

Congrats to Scoop, fna undertow!

and here I was convinced they were going to cancel.

Guess Allen gets to make the go-ahead announcement at 4 and then Wells gets to try to explain it all at 5.

Here's hoping that BP isn't trying to save a few bucks by using refurb transducers.

Snake: I told you they are using "flux capacitors"

and we were right about the cat fights, or at least herding cats:

The decision to delay testing was made at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kent Wells, BP senior vice president, told reporters Wednesday.

Asked why it took more than five hours to publicly announce the delay, Suttles said there were many people involved in the decision process and "everyone needed to get informed and aligned."

also, there seems to be some modifications from previously announced plans?

When the test gets under way, both the BP and government source said it likely will proceed slowly. The generally accepted plan is to close the well so the pressure gets to about 6,500 pounds per square inch and "keep it there for a bit to watch a few things that some of the scientists are concerned about," the BP source said. The decision then would be made about whether to take the pressure up to where it needs to be to conduct the test, at about 8,300 pounds per square inch. If the plan plays out this way, a 48-hour watch period looks much more likely than the six-hour period, they said.

But this is still unofficial, leaked(?) stuff. The devil will be in the details, in their formal announcements today.

Herding cats is quite easy, you just need a good water pistol.


Animal Autopsies in Gulf Reveal Only a Mystery

Interesting one here, with a photo gallery and big ol' graphic sidebar . . . but no solid answers.


The [turtle excluding] devices are so contentious that Louisiana law has long forbidden its wildlife and fisheries agents to enforce federal regulations on the devices. Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation that would have finally lifted the ban, citing the “challenges and issues currently facing our fishermen.” By contrast, Mississippi officials strengthened turtle protections by decreasing the allowable tow time for skimmers, posting observers on boats, and sending out pamphlets on turtle resuscitation.

Disturbing . . . and ver', ver' Louisiana-like. (I never did understand how they missed suing Florida for trademark infringement when some bright light over here decided our new marketing slogan should be "Florida -- The Rules Are Different Here." Maybe because that one only lasted a few weeks?)

I have a brother in law who (literally) owns an island in Indonesia. The place has been developed into a 'get away from it all' (no cell phones, TV, planned activities, etc.) style resort and has a 'turtle nursery.' Apparently there is a threatened/endangered species of sea turtle that lays its eggs on the island and the hotel staff collect the baby turtles when they hatch and take them to a protected nursery area for several months and releasing them when they have grown to the point where they have a very high chance of surviving to maturity in the wild. (Apparently the mortality rate for just born sea turtles is over 90% - they get eaten by something). Tourists on the island are offered the chance to 'buy' a turtle and then they get to release the turtle themselves. The proceeds are used to help fund the turtle nursery program.

Any reason why people in the Gulf cannot do something similar?

the EPA would have a conniption. No hope of starting something like that unless you could convince a OJ-style jury that there are absolutely NO negative consequences. Even then, it would be forever clogged with pointless or redundant studies. The turtles would long be extinct before the paperwork even cleared.

Been doing it in Texas for years. Ridley's sea turtles. Saw a report that they were looking for turtle eggs in LA, will incubate them and then release off the east coast of FL, turning Gulf turtles into Atlantic turtles....go figure!

hasbeen, somewhere in this thread there's a report on the release of the hatchlings from first 700 nests trucked to Kennedy Space Center from the Gulf. (And from another story some days ago:) they packed the eggs in sand from their native beach to imprint the young'uns, so when they're old enough to breed, they'll wend their way home to Alabama, not Florida.

Jindal is one smart cookie. He doesn't want Obama to sue LA for enforcing federal laws like he is Arizona.

Someone needs to tell the NYT that autopsies are only done on dead people.

yep, necropsies are done on all other dead critters. Seal necropsies really stink.

Perhaps BP's motive for at least restricting the flow through the new cap before they start collecting through it is to maintain as much uncertainty as possible about the the size of the leak, which will be to their advantage when they negotiate the size of the fine. As has been discussed here previously, uncertainty will be their friend when the time comes to assess the fine. Right now all anyone knows for sure is that the leak has been somewhat in excess of 25k barrels of oil per day. Now that they have the capacity to collect about twice that amount, they face the possibility that unambiguous measurements of oil collected will show that the flow is at least 50k barrels per day. If they avoid collecting the entire flow until after they have increased the resistance inside the new cap enough to reduce the flow to below 25k barrels per day, then they may still be able to argue that the amount flowing for the past few weeks was considerably less than 50k barrels per day, perhaps only around 30k barrels per day. This could save them billions of $$.

It is worth keeping in mind that calculating the amount of oil in the brown stuff seen billowing from the pipe is not trivial, given that it is a complex mixture of oil, methane dissolved in oil, supercritical methane, methane hydrate, corexit, and other things. This mixture is undergoing a rapid drop in pressure and temperature, and thus presumably not anywhere close to an equilibrium condition. Given the scant literature on the physical properties of such mixtures under these conditions, in the absence of definitive measurements made by collecting the entire flow at the surface, there is plenty of room for different expert witnesses to arrive at very different answers to the question of how how much oil has been escaping into the GOM.

Pressure appearing on gauges ~400 psi...

Seems they are moving forward with the test. A mistake, if true...

No, it looks like they decided on a modified plan to address Chu's team's concerns:

When the test gets under way, both the BP and government source said it likely will proceed slowly. The generally accepted plan is to close the well so the pressure gets to about 6,500 pounds per square inch and "keep it there for a bit to watch a few things that some of the scientists are concerned about," the BP source said. The decision then would be made about whether to take the pressure up to where it needs to be to conduct the test, at about 8,300 pounds per square inch. If the plan plays out this way, a 48-hour watch period looks much more likely than the six-hour period, they said.

LOL, syn y0u picked up exactly the same bit as I did!

Hey, Hiver, but it is the key bit of info to answer all the questions.

Agreed. Also, great minds think alike? lol

So do small ones, BTW!

But i think it all makes sense now.

But i think it all makes sense now.

Actually, it still doesn't make sense to me. I still cannot come up with a scientific or non-cynical explanation or justification for BP to take this extra step. Although I'd rather not speculate on motives, it is hard not to view this whole exercise with suspicion, on top of worries about creating an even more monstrous situation, when the RW is so close.

Just doesn't make sense to me.

No, I meant the delay made sense, what was going on and why.

I still do not understand why the change in plan, was it a change, did the gov. know before yesterday?

And what about this:

Could you put another sort of top hat on top during the two weeks that it will take you to get the second floating riser in place?

Two weeks to get the floating riser in place? Could they not have started that 2 weeks ago? Why wait unless you were hoping to shut it in and save the work? Maybe i am missing something.

Syncro, that is my question, too.

Why can't they still be containing at least some of the oil while the tests are halted and conducted? They were collecting and burning a good bit until they took off the old cap.

I still do not understand why the change in plan, was it a change, did the gov. know before yesterday?

One more time: Allen knew about it on Thursday 7/8; Chu, DOE, DOI, and the Federal Scientific Team knew about it by Friday when they met with BP to go over it, if not before (can't imagine that Allen didn't communicate it to the gummint as soon as he found out about it).


Hiver, the well's capacity can be estimated using a set of rates coupled to a set of pressures. There's no need to flow the well wild at absolute flow capacity to understand its flow capacity. There are accepted engineering methods, all very sound, all very well known to those of us who practice this line of work, to estimate what the well can produce if left to run wild.

But there's one caveat: the well's flow capacity will be measured now, and this flow capacity is variable. It can be steady, it can be increasing, it can be decreasing, it could have been low in the beginning, then increased, then dropped, or viceversa. Since the early time data is missing, they will have to obtain information now, later they'll have to drill more wells, produce the reservoir, understand it, model it, and eventually produce a more accurate figure based on the pressure depletion they see now. This is why closing the well now is important, it has the potential to give us the pressure we need to know how much oil and gas came out of this balloon.

The pressure showing on that gauge is not directly related to the pressure testing. Prior to removal of the old cap, that gauge was consistently reading '500'.

That is just hydraulic line pressure in some of their equipment and is meaningless for our purposes.


Pressure appearing on gauges ~400 psi...

The mechanical gauge is pressure of various part of the BOP and it is not the internal pressure that they are mearsuring.. Those measurement go directly to the onshore location and we won't have any access to it.. It is covered in Well conference call this morning and Adm Allen briefing yesterday..


But it probably should go up, when the test is in full swing.

It will go up if and when they need the hydraulic pressure to activate a valve or something, then go back down once that is done. But, we don't even know what it is connected to, so it doesn't mean much.

If is actually measuring some pressure inside the old BOP, that value should stabilize to a system constant, once the upper stack valves are closed.

If it is measuring hydraulic pressure in some other piece of equipment, it is not of interest, at least to the casual observer.

Kent Wells said that they were gauges on their hydraulic controls when asked about them earlier.

So they're going to blow up the flex joint for sure? Why would they do that? They must realize its rated pressure capacity. I don't get it.

What would the pressure be if they shut the well half in and allowed the helix and q4000 to produce 30k bpd or so while the rest of teh bop was sealed up?

Relax and watch the show.

Pass the popcorn........

Hard to watch anything with the ROV black-outs

Just hit refresh. Works for me.

New bit from the NYT source - "the technician":

A technician involved in the effort said that at the center of the debate was the issue of whether shutting in the well was worth the risk. A pressure buildup might damage the well bore, making it more difficult to eventually seal the well through the relief well.

“Some of this has been a topic of discussion for a long time,” said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

BP has said that the test will provide data to help in planning the relief well operation. But the technician said many relief wells had been successful without such information. “In my opinion, it’s not worth acquiring that data,” he said.

Actually, Dimitry, that passage is recycled from the morning version.

Sorry, I thought the last paragraph was a new addition this afternoon.

Pretty sure it was there earlier (that's what I was thinking of when describing Technician as "anti company-line" when Swift Loris and I were chatting about it).

Pretty sure it was there earlier (that's what I was thinking of when describing Technician as "anti company-line" when Swift Loris and I were chatting about it).


Thanky, SL.

Please excuse me if I'm asking something that has already been answered, but here goes:
I thought the whole idea of relief well was that it is a way to kill the wild well without putting any additional pressure on the BOP of the wild well. I thought the idea of reworking the piping on top of the BOP of the wild well was to improve the collection of oil that is leaking out of the BOP, NOT to attempt to stop the flow. So why the change to trying to cap the wild well from above again? Could it be that BP management is just jerking us (the people and the government) around in order to gain some legal advantage or something venal like that?

Isn't it true that no matter what the delayed pressure test shows, they will still complete the relief well, and complete the intersection of the relief well with the wild well, and pump mud, and ... whatever it takes to kill the wild well from below?

Government seems to have introduced some new elements of technical caution into an otherwise half assed operation dominated by PR and legal maneuvering. The pressure "test" might give a number that could be useful in estimating the flow rate, but the next step, at the top of the wild well is to hook up the piping and start collecting all the oil that is leaking. When that happens, we will know soon enough how fast the collection ships are filling up and from that what the flow rate has been up until now. Is this something BP really doesn't want to have on the public record?

Sorry that I've editorialized in what are basically honest technical questions, but what is going on, really?

There is a post above in this thread that attempts to calculate the amount of back pressure required from the current wellhead to aid in balancing out the relief well pressures. They do seem to need a little bit of back pressure capability (seemingly consistent with what they already have at least right below the old BOP), but that need is WAY less than the pressures they will attempt to expose the upper well/wellhead/old BOP to today.

The big gambit for BP is they will attempt to completely shut in the wild well, if they can demonstrate that the system can hold ~8,500 psi of pressure. They will still do the relief wells, but it will be to finalize the kill. The downside is that they will breach whatever integrity they have in the current system, making the relief well or containment impossible. I don't know how they convinced the government that they can do this safely, which I think they can't do, at least not for some failure modes that are possible or for failure locations that are possible.

This whole approach literally materialized out of thin air over the last few days. BP has contributed to the overall media confusion by continuing to call the new stack "The Cap", implying it is like the old collection cap, while apparently planning to use it in very different way.

Much as I would like the test to pass (indicating intact casing) I'm much more inclined to believe it will fail. So I'm hoping that either my pessimism is unwarranted, OR that I'm overly optimistic, and that the test will fail in the early (up to 6,500 psi) rather than later stages (8-9,000psi).

Damn, can't decide which is better...

When will they get up to 6,500?

Maybe there are unstated conditions for full shut in. If there is any indication of loss of pressure before then, they would abort. And the data they do collect in the readings they do get could enhance the effectiveness of bottom kill even if they end up aborting.

So maybe Chu gets something for taking the risk that enhances overall success and they bring the test closer to the green zone by having sufficient conditions on when they will abort, sufficient to allow some control of the risk.

BP was live tweeting Allen's comments at http://www.twitter.com/BP_America

(newest tweets first):

# We are building out an enhanced containment strategy in case the tests do not go well & we have to continue containment. -Adm Allen 8 minutes ago via web


Well integrity test will run for 48 hrs. Then, we stand down, assess where we are at & what to do next. -Adm Allen 9 minutes ago via web


We will start to increase pressure in capping stack in 6 hr intervals to review pressure data as well as sonar & acoustic data. -Adm Allen 10 minutes ago via web


Early this afternoon, I briefed President & Cabinet & we will tell BP to proceed w/ well integrity test. -Adm Allen 12 minutes ago via web


Questions raised yesterday re: what happens & what expected as start to shut valves on cap. Asked BP to come back with more info. -Adm Allen 14 minutes ago via web


We have never been sure about the well casing since the accident occurred. -Adm Allen

Thanks, GCT.

this really deserves to be highlighted IMHO

We have never been sure about the well casing since the accident occurred. -Adm Allen

1. This was third seismic survey. Looked at it today and okay. Will run a fourth hone after test.

2. Brought in a couple new folks from outside to have one more look and asked BP to provide more detail on WW drilling specs.

3. Looked at and eliminated "cratering' in this well as a potential risk.

4. Relief well one not stopped. Relief well two on hold.

I thought it interesting that they did one on 4/26, just days after the "event."

(the first seismic was done before they drilled.)

Wells was quite clear that work on RW1 is suspended during the well integrity test .. Allen must have missed that. That aside, this was the best briefing I've seen Allen give, complete with a hand-drawn diagram on a small white-board.

THE BACK PRESSURE TEST (i.e. WELL INTEGRITY TEST) IS POINTLESS except as another attempt for BP to maintain uncertainty in the size of the leak (i.e. total spill volume).

There is no reason that they need to do a back pressure test on this cap to contain this leak. Connect it to the riser. Better yet, drop ten risers to the BOP cap (or use larger risers if possible) and the back pressure will actually be less than if there was no cap (i.e. when the leak is completely contained and the flow velocities/pressure drops in each riser is insignificant). BP will not do this because it will reduce the uncertainties about the leak rate (and total spill volume). Now BP still has a chance to argue in court about assumptions being made in the leak rate estimates. Worse yet, for BP, this (more risers to surface) would actually increase flow rates from the well because a column of oil/methane weighs less than a column of sea water. BP IS THEN CONCERN THAT THE LEAK RATE (OR TOTAL SPILL VOLUME) WOULD BE OVERESTIMATED. (don't know why, it's simple fluid dynamics, but I guess judge and juries are not experts in this area--so it's a matter of choosing to believe the plaintiff's or defendant's expert witness beyond a reasonable doubt).

For BP it has only been about reducing their liability, not about stopping the leak.

From the very beginning there were devices that could have been designed to stop the flow into the sea. The first containment dome that was the size of a house was connected to a four inch riser. Anyone who is trained in fluid dynamics and thermodynamics (i.e. chemical engineer) knows that this as the simple pressure tank outlet problem; and would have likely failed even without hydrates (i.e. path of least resistance).

On top of that, this dome was an ideal "design" for hydrate formation and blockage: a constriction (BOP), followed by an expansion (fallen 22" riser segment and containment dome), followed by a another constriction (4" tank outlet). With or without hydrates, the back pressure created by a 4" riser (plugged or not plugged) would force the leak out the bottom of the dome (especially around 22" riser), therefore, creating a "rocket". Why didn't BP connect the original dome to ten 4" risers (or larger risers if possible)?

Yes, the experts are now concerned about back pressure. This problem and its solution has always been about back pressure.

FOUR INCH riser to the surface, what a joke. A 4" riser might work fine for normal operations when the system integrity has not been compromised (i.e. when the system (BOP and pipes) is rated up to 50k psi; this system is now rated for 0 psid--it leaks!). USE MORE AND/OR BIGGER RISERS! (kinda too late now)

Jim, I never heard of a 50 Kpsi system. Who builds those?

I pulled out an old VHS tape Of NOVA Season 19, from 1/14/92 Hellfighters of Kuwait http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/listseason/19.html

I'd bet all y'all would be fascinated to watch it now that your knowledge of the industry has improved at TOD! Call PBS and demand it!

Let the Macondo well’s oil and gas flow to the surface vessels. The original 900,000 pound stack, the intermediate spool and the new 150,000 pound stack do not leak (if that middle new blind ram is closed). The bolted flanges do not leak, and the hydraulic connectors do not leak. The well can be contained now.

No harm is done if no oil/gas get into GOM. Wright’s team will probably kill the well in a few weeks. Why risk damaging the well which could cause 12,000 psi hydrocarbons to escape outside the well’s outer casing and cement to the seabed, which could be impossible to contain, and more difficult to kill?

The lower stack 3” choke and kill lines to HP and Q4000, along with the upper stack choke and kill lines to other DP vessels can collect more than the well flows. The well test pressures are not critical information for the relief wells to succeed.

Let the well safely flow, determine flow rate, don’t risk damaging blown out well and kill with RW. If the fine is 4,300 $/Bbl and if 2 million barrels leak in GOM, that comes to around 8.6 billion dollars, an amount worthwhile for the lawyers to argue over. A good BP scenario would be, shut in well, kill with RW, argue and win that only 5000 B/D leaked into Gulf, and save around 6 billion dollars.

Should not take action which could make situation much worse. Will be interesting to see how storey plays out, and who’s judgment prevails. A great movie is coming.

Lots of excitement. Didn't take long.

BP has cut off the flow from the main upper riser pipe and it is now coming out from smaller yellow pipe or pipes. Oly 1 yellow gauge is at 2000 psi.

Uh, Houston, we got a leaky choke & kill connector!

It is below the large choke so there won't be much controlled choking going on...

You mean the oil flowing from the side of the new tree is an uncontrolled leak?

First, find the leaks. Good grief.

From NYT's new story:

After several delays, crews on Wednesday afternoon shut down two systems that were collecting oil from BP’s runaway well. Adm. Paul Zukunft of the Coast Guard, the new national incident commander for the spill response, said the shutdown of the two systems meant that engineers and scientists had initiated the test of its new tight-sealing cap over the gushing well. “It appears that is the case,” he said in a briefing aboard this Coast Guard cutter.

The shutdowns became apparent about 3:45 p.m. local time, when flaring of oil and gas stopped on two surface ships at the well site, about a mile away. A gas and oil burning boom on one vessel, the Q4000, was extinguished first, followed by a gas flare from the Helix Producer, which died down slowly, producing notable soot at the end.

Imagine the shock to everybody's ears -- silence after weeks of roar.