BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Starting the Testing Program - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6734.

This is a second thread for this post. Please see http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6731 for previous comments.

Update Thursday Afternoon, 4:00 pm : BP has at least temporarily capped the well, and oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf. BP will now be carefully monitoring the pressure levels. Admiral Allen reports:

"We're encouraged by this development, but this isn't over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed."

Original post
When things are going well down at the Deepwater oil spill site in the Gulf there are press conferences, data flows in a timely manner and the public can understand what is going on. When there are problems, these get delayed. Then as I noted yesterday we become dependent on the videos that BP release, to get a closer and more immediate view of the actual situation. That can at least show the occasional something significant. Today’s such topic is the picture of the well from the Skandi ROV that I took at around 6:15 pm CDT Wednesday (though Admiral Allen also had something interesting to note, which I will point to at the end of the post). And in an update, there was a leak on the choke line, so a part (the yellow pipe below) has been removed for repair - the "as is" shot is at the end of the post.

In his second press conference Tuesday, Kent Wells had noted (as I wrote yesterday)

. . . 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.

As you may note from the picture, the flow has now switched from the top drill pipe section to the two ports below the rams. We can thus presume that the well integrity test is now underway.

That particular flow has now been going on for over 2 hours (the feeds are no longer synchronous with real time), and this was as late a picture as I can currently pull up from the Skandi ROV that showed the picture above:

The two separate flows from the two ports can be discerned still.

So what is going on? Kent Wells tried to explain in his brief Wednesday morning. First he ran over the numbers, and then apologized that the schedule that he had anticipated yesterday has fallen behind. Specifically he noted that

The second review that was going on was our team of scientists and industry experts who were once again looking at all the analysis and the procedures – the test procedures that were put in place to make sure that the test was absolutely designed to maximize what we would learn from it and minimize any risk under all possible scenarios. And this test is so important that a decision was taken to give them another 24 hours to make sure that this was the best possible test procedure we could execute. It was just felt that this is so important we wanted to make sure that there was no questions in any minds that we would learn the most from this and we’d minimize risk and so that was the decision that was taken yesterday.

For which, I expect, you can read that Secretary Chu, and his visiting team had a set of questions and discussion points that had to be gone over and reviewed with them, to ensure that they were happy, and would therefore give their thoughtfully considered blessings. They were supposed to have everything settled by the afternoon press conference.

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. If any amendments need to be made to the test they’ll be made at that point and I’ll certainly let you know at our 2:30 meeting where we stand on that and the path forward.

But what we don’t want to do is move forward with a test that ends up with inconclusive results. And so that’s what the 24 hours is about. We just need to make sure that there’s absolute clarity on this is the right test, this will give us the most information, this will minimize the risk and we can proceed forward and as a result of that then know the best path forward after that, whether it’s to shut in the well, whether it’s to go to containment, what does it mean for the kill with the relief wells. All of those things. We just need to make sure that this is right not – as much as we want to do things as soon as possible, we also want to make sure that they’re done absolutely correct.

But problems apparently persisted as became more obvious this afternoon, as the time for the start of the integrity test (and the explanatory press conference) kept getting put back later and later, until it reached 5 pm when apparently the decision was reached. That transcript is not out yet, but the result was evident with the change in the path of the oil through the stack. There are presently 3 ROVs monitoring the flow (the 2 Skandi ROVs and the BOA ROV 2) and over the course of time the flow out of the ports has changed from the relatively small flow shown above to higher volume flows, and back.

Skandi ROV view showing the higher flow levels from the ports – this is the ROV that is issuing the dispersant in 3 jets from the wand in the picture, at lower flow rates those jets are visible.

The third ROV, the BOA one has moved around so that the lack of flow from the drill pipe is confirmed when the pipe is back-lit from the Skandi ROV that took the first shots above.

In the details of the process that Kent Wells described the process changes include:

I mean the one thing that – and of course I can’t predict exactly how the ROV cameras will be set up but what we will be doing is on the capping stack, we will be opening the two side vents and so there will be – instead of flow just coming out the top, there will be – you’ll start to see flow coming out of the two side vents and then the top gets closed and then one side vent gets closed and then over a period of about a couple hours we close the other choke mechanism. So that would indicate when – that the test has started when we’re shutting down that third event. Whether you’ll get to see all that and figure that, I don’t know. But we’re committed to keeping you posted on where we’re going.

Well the shut-off and diversion of the flow is documented in the pictures above, though it hasn’t been possible to show the switching of the flows, unless this was where the volumes coming from the well and shown by the Skandi ROV changed.

The problem of concern, determining whether, if there is a leak, as indicated by a problem in getting to the 8,000 to 9,000 psi pressure in the well, is it caused at depth or near the surface. As was repeated at this brief

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 environment and then there’s always the potential is motive that might be that it could breach up to the surface.

The discussion topics that have led to the delay were further addressed by Admiral Allen at his 4 pm Wednesday press conference:

We consulted extensively with outside experts from academia. Our science team, led by Secretary of Energy Chu, consulted also with other members of industry regarding of potential issues we should definitely deal with. I will zero right in on what the discussion was mainly about and I’ll be happy to answer some questions about it.

We have never been sanguine or sure that we have known the condition of the wellbore and the casing pipe since the event occurred. As we've gotten closer to having the potential to close in and do pressure readings on the capping stack, we have had numerous discussions about what the current status is of the wellbore and the casing and the implications if they had been damaged or if there was any communication outside the wellbore that might bring oil or hydro carbons into what we call the geological formation potentially to the – to the sub-sea floor.

Some – some questions were raised yesterday about the implications of leakage and how that interfaced with the test as we start to shut down the valves and increase pressure in the capping stack and I'll go over that process in a minute.

What we might expect, what we’re – even low probability, high consequence outcomes.

As a result of that, we asked BP to go back and give us some more information on the structural strength of certain portions of the casing pipes. They had run down there particularly around the 22-inch and 18-inch casing pipes. We asked for some more information about assumptions that could lead to irreversible leakage outside the well from external experts. And we thought about what kind of thresholds we would need to look at as we ran the well integrity test.

That took us about 24 hours to work through all of that. We've had a number of conversations. And early this afternoon, I briefed the president and members of the cabinet on the way forward and at this time will be releasing an order to BP to proceed with the well integrity test, but we gave them some additional direction and we did this to make sure that we were taking due care, and in some cases maybe an over abundance of caution to make sure that we didn't do any irreversible harm to the wellbore as we proceed forward.

He noted that the test is being run in 6-hour increments, so that if they started at 17:00 Central, then the second stage should start at 23:00 Central. (about 10 minutes from now as I write).

The stages, as the Admiral reported are:

Here’s how we intend to do the well integrity test. We will slowly take down production from the Q4000 and the helix producer later on today to the point where they are not producing anymore. That will force the oil up through the blowout preventer into the capping stack. At that point, the kill line, the choke line, and the top of the stack will be open, and there’ll be product releasing from there and we know that that's the reason we’ve got the skimmers and the additional capacity on the surface to deal with that.

We will then in sequence close the middle ram here, which will stop the flow out of the top of the stack and then we will take pressure readings.

We will then close the kill line and take pressure readings.

 Following that, we will use a remotely operated vehicle that will hook on to the – that – the little bar here that actually turns a valve, and this choke line has been especially constructed – if you looked at the video, you'll see kind of a yellow object up there with a curved up pipe. That is the choke line. That is the last way for oil to leave the capping stack.

 We will slowly close that, very, very slowly, in partial turns, and measure pressure at the same time. In that manner, we will slowly close the entire capping stack and start the reading pressure.


 Now, as we do that, we're going to be watching very closely the pressure readings. If the pressure readings stay low, that will tell us that the oil is probably going someplace else and we need to consider the fact we may have a breach in the well bore or in one of the – in one of the casings. If that is the case and we have very low pressure readings for about three hours, we will probably stop at that point. That will be the assumption and we will go into production, bring everything back online so we minimize the amount of oil that's going into the environment and we will assess the results of that test.

At the end of 48 hours, we will stop the test, assess all the information we have. We will probably do another seismic run over the area around the well to detect any potential hydrocarbon or methane leaks from the sea floor. And then we will assess whether or not we need to go into another cycle of closing the capping stack down, taking pressure readings, and this will lead us possibly to two very positive directions. Number one, at some point our ability to determine that we can, with confidence, shut the well in and understand we're not harming the well bore and the casings.

The Admiral did also report on the result of the seismic survey

There’s a seismic test that was done yesterday and we do not have those results until this morning. And what they did was to reinforce the fact there was not a problem where there could have been. And so we had more confidence in the way we’re looking at the alternatives that’s come about.

There was one interesting comment on the top kill operation that is, I believe new

Tell you what – why we’ve been obsessing over this, and (probably) I should have explained a little bit more on the front. We tried the top kill back in May, and we pumped a lot of mud into that well, and as long as we were pumping mud into the well, we were suppressing the oil. But the maximum pressure we were able to achieve pumping the mud down the well bore was only around 6,000 (GSI), so the question is why aren’t we able to achieve a greater pressure head and be successful with the top kill? And you can postulate a number of things, but two we’re discussing, and this was part of the discussion over the last couple of days.

One of them we’re just (pointing) out to the top of the blowout preventer, like we saw the oil escaping. And there was a lot of mud (inaudible) there. The other one was that as it was being forced down, it might be escaping the (as it reached) the casing through the well bore. We don’t know that. The (admission of something) was potentially wrong and we should have this discussion partially due to the fact that we’ve never been comfortable with what the 6,000 psi meant during the top kill effort and what the implication for not being able to achieve a higher pressure.

Now if they couldn’t get the pressure above 6,000 psi then that may be indicative that they were injecting more fluid somewhere in the well, since the reservoir pressure is 11,900 psi. On the other hand, if the well stopped the oil flow (which he says it did) then you have to get into how much mud they were able to drive down the column to determine whether they have a problem or not.

It will be interesting to see what the transcript for tomorrow morning's brief brings.

Update Thursday Morning: News reports are now saying that a leak in the choke line has been found and will need to be repaired before BP can begin the test.

Current status at 10 am Eastern Thursday

Note the yellow pipe is missing. Compare to the photo at the top of this post.

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Anyone have a link to the War Room, or a real time pressure reading in the well head?

6700 psi from an NPR reporter on PBS newshour about 3:30 pm PDT, 6:30 EDT...

That's certainly something I'd like to see too! It was also glaringly missing from the afternoon press briefing with Suttles.

Your report confirmed by the Wash Post:

Tom Hunter, retired director of the Sandia National Laboratories and a member of the federal government's scientific team, witnessed the test inside BP's war room in Houston and told The Washington Post that the pressure rose to about 6700 psi and appeared to be likely to level out "closer to 7000." He said scientists will labor to understand the meaning of such pressures. One possibility, he said, is that the well has simply depleted itself to a certain degree over the course of nearly three months.

"It's just premature to tell. We just don't know whether something is leaking or not," Hunter said.


If it has averaged about 80,000 BOPD and it's cross flowing about 10,000 BOPD, the pressures match more or less. The reservoir would be about 2200 acres.

Hmmm...6700 psi sounds like an uncomfortably non-conclusive figure to me. If we aren't higher soon there HAS to be a leak somewhere down the line, right?

If that's the case, we will need all of the tools in the toolkit (RWs 1 & 2, new BOP, top kill mud pumped in too) in order to have a shot at really closing this sucker up totally and permanently.

I still would like to hear the reasons:

1. It took 86 days to get this far
2. What is happening in these supposed cracks in the seafloor nearby right now, IF they exist
3. Why so many experts (like Dr. Branko Babic) were ignored when we could have stopped this leak millions and millions gallons ago.

IT WOULD SEEM that the more oil you take out of the formation, the lower the pressure SO IF you can handle the current pressure, you're always better off because you've already proved you can handle the higher pressure previously existing, REGARDLESS of other conditions. (I'm dismissing worries about currents a mile down, erosion, earthquakes, and alien submarines...)

The bottom kill would also be easier at lower pressures.

6700 psi, maybe still rising towards 7000 psi, is indeed in the non-conclusive range. We only know the original formation pressure, which IIUC would be equivalent to about 9000 psi at the BOP, so IF the formation was still at original pressure, the lower measured pressure would indicate a borehole failure. However, it is certain that the formation pressure has been reduced substantially in the past 3 months - it is certainly possible that 7000 psi represents the current formation pressure rather than a borehole failure. Let's hope so.

How can they tell?

I would think they could hear the turbulent flow of a leak with a sensor placed on the well casing while the flow is shut in. It should be eerily quiet.

Most of these "experts" deserve to be ignored. A 200' friction plug? You have got to be kidding. That is one of most nonsensical ideas I've seen, and I've seen quite a few.

The sea floor cracks and similar stories are ravings of the loons (as in lunatics) looking for attention that you see in any story like this.

We need a modern Diogenes of the internet - with a lamp out looking for rational men.

Speaker: I am with you.

That said: Fishgrease of DailyKos, along with Tomtech there and ROCKMAN here, seem to be very strong disciples of Diogenes.

We thank Fishgrease for "F**king Boom School," innit? (I don't know who to thank for the voiceover on the video, but she nailed it too.)

Agreed! Also, I was very disappointed that the pressure gauges have mysteriously disappeared from the video feeds as the test started! Seems like they prefer to keep up in the dark on the reality of the well pressure & casing condition.

I've been wondering why a new BOP wasn't fitted up right after the broken riser started gushing. Those "cap" solutions were unbelievably primitive.

I guess you must have missed when many people repeatedly stressed that the pressure valves are hydraulics on the top stack, not well bore pressures.

As first reported by hasbeen on TOD here:

BP Well Likely To Reopen - Even If Test Is Successful

Allen ‘Encouraged’ by News of BP Stemming Oil Flow

By Andrew Restuccia 7/15/10 6:16 PM

The White House has released a statement by Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander in the Gulf, on the news that BP was able to stop the flow of oil from the Macondo well. The tone is one of cautious optimism:

"We’re encouraged by this development, but this isn’t over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane.

It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed."


Looks like some people (likely Obama Admin independent scientists?) are not prepared to take the risk of keeping it shut -even if it passes this 48hr test. Maybe this was the compromise between the independent scientists and BP over the whole well test issue. There was an unreported battle going on -thus the 24hr delay in the test.

They're planning to open the well up again and suck oil to ships (and possibly resume venting of a smaller flow into the Gulf?)

Interesting that this vital clarification of the plan comes via a White House statement - and not by means of an in-person media briefing by Thad Allen himself.

(Score 1 for the independent scientists, I think.
Bout time they got a score. They were 25 - 0 down.)

(Edited for clarity)

Very interesting that this vital clarification of the plan comes via a White House statement - and not by means of an in-person media briefing by Thad Allen himself.

He said pretty much the same thing in his briefing this morning, actually.

With some exceptions, the [expletive deleted] media has been playing up the hope that the shut-in for the integrity test is going to stop the leak for good and that containment will be abandoned. I think this has made the TPTB very nervous about a mass freakout when they do go back to containment, especially since it'll be a week or more before they're in a position to get all the oil. So they're now pushing back strongly, from as many official sources as possible, against the no-more-containment, it's-all-shut-in-now notion that's taken root. That's my guess, anyway.

Point taken Swift Loris, but this was Thad Allen's moment, wasn't it? And the earlier caution was when nobody had any idea if full shut-in was possible. I think that if it was 9,000psi+ we would possibly be in a different ball game. Is this success or failure?

He said pretty much the same thing in his briefing this morning, actually.

Yes, he did. He took great pains to explain that the new cap was designed in response to the request that BP develop a more robust and redundant collection system. That it evolved to allow an integrity test and possible shut-down was a secondary bonus. As I mentioned in the prior thread, he went on to say that the [current] plan is to resume collection at the end of the 48 hr test, even if a desirable pressure is reached and sustained, do another seismic run and then decide from there how to proceed.

Ambiguous statement. They have done this for the last week. They have no body but themselves to blame when people interpret their nonsense.

then decide from there how to proceed.

Perhaps the understandable calculated ambiguity would be resolved by rephrasing the released statement:

"It remains likely that we will return to the containment process...."

To instead read:

"It is now inevitable in the light of the low 6,700psi achieved that we must return to the containment process....."

Perhaps avoiding such clarity was why we got a press release, rather than Thad Allen himself. (No awkward questions that way)

Transcript was not up, so those are my words, not his. Note the lack of '"' . He spoke more specifically of the expected resumption of collection and any chance they might decide to shut down the well on an ongoing basis or in case of hurricanes.

But the future course is not clear now - it depends on what they learn from the tests.

He was asked a number of what-if questions. One relevant Q&A was

Q: OK, so—OK, so if the pressure remains high, you will still go to the four vessel containment system until the relief well does its job, right?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Not necessarily, what we're going to do is we're going to test for 48 hours, and every six hours, we're going to evaluate all of the information we have available. At the end of 48 hours, we're going to take down the system, go back to containment, or production, as you say, and then we're going to get a new seismic reading off the floor that will tell us as a result of that testing at high pressure for 48 hours, was there a change in the well bore, or did we have oil leak into the formation and form a pocket just to be a precursor for breaching the ocean floor? Is there methane gas coming up, which would be a precursor as well.

Once we are satisfied that there are no indications that we've compromised the integrity of the wellbore, we create an irreversible position of oil leaving the well bore, we can go back then and put the—put the system under pressure again. Then once we're—once we're convinced, we've got no pressure in the well bore, and it can withstand the pressure after another seismic run, after that 48 hours, we can certainly consider shutting in the well, that's always a possibility, and of course, we would like to do that.

Full transcript (pdf) 7.15 Allen briefing

Why do I get the feeling that BP really wants all the oil they can get before they shut this down.

And I am really not in the woo woo camp!

Do you have any evidence to back up your feeling?

The "up to 80k barrels per day" figure puzzles me.

Does that mean they're going to actually increase the flow rate from the current 60K bpd to 80K ? Or does it mean the current flow rate is around 80K ?

There seems to be a lot of fluctuation/speculation surrounding the actual flow rate, and reading 80,000 barrles per day certainly got my attention.

The capacity to collect up to to 80,000 bbls/day gives them redundancy in case one of the vessels has to be brought offline - remember when Discoverer Explorer was hit by lightning?

Allen is still sticking with the last estimate of 35,000-60,000 bbls day flow rate. They won't be collecting 80,000 unless that flow rate estimate is incorrect and it turns out simmons,dougr et al had more correct figures.

Does that mean they're going to actually increase the flow rate from the current 60K bpd to 80K ? Or does it mean the current flow rate is around 80K ?

As I understand it, that's the total containment capacity they're aiming for, i.e., more than they think they'll need. It's also a matter of redundancy--if one containment vessel has problems and has to stop taking up oil, there'll be another one available to take its place.

As I understand it, 80K is the maximum daily volume of oil that their surface gear can process (not the expected flow rate).

Admiral Allen, in one of the recent news conferences, used that figure as assurance that (1) they could process every drop of the estimated 35-65K flow rate and (2) that there was some redundancy in the system, so if one collection vessel is somehow compromised they can still continue to collect. So, no, they are not going to increase the the flow rate.

It seems curious that the flow rate can be as high as 65K per day. I thought the record for the Gulf of Mexico was around 43K (from an earlier TOD post). Anyone know if Macondo is poised as a record breaker?

I built a well model and it can indeed flow 80,000 BOPD. But remember, all I have to do is change the rock permeability to make it behave the way I want to - or I can introduce negative skin to account for wormhole effects.

The reason I'm trending the model up towards the higher figure is the low observed pressure - I had heard somewhere the reservoir was about 100 million barrels, so that's what I put in my model. I ran it undersaturated to be conservative, and it's still giving me a huge rate - and/or it's crossflowing like crazy. Right now I got it set flowing 10,000 BOPD in crossflow.

So all I need is for BP to run a damned microphone in the relief well so they can tell us if they can hear it flowing down there or not.

FWIW, which may be near or at zero, Hayward repeatedly put the size at 50M. But I've seen others as high as 10x that.

10 X what? you mean 500,000 BOPD blow out? That's really neat. It would be like seeing a 500 ft long shark, I guess.

Reservoir size. Yeah, I've seen guesses that the reservoir could be that huge (500M bbls).

Seems unlikely to be 1/2 billion from a 60 ft sand. I think Hayward was not lying (why would he perjure himself over something like that) - it's 50 MM.

This came from thread 6642. Don't shoot the messenger, I just said I'd seen it.

But the 50m figure cited by Hayward took some industry insiders by surprise. There have been reports the reservoir held up to 500m barrels – the figure quoted by Hayward’s questioner, Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas.

“I would assume that 500m barrels would be a more likely estimate,” said Tadeusz Patzek, the chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. “I don’t think you would be going after a 50mbarrel reservoir so quickly. This is just simply not enough oil to go after.”

I would think that 50M bbls would be large enough to go after, and I doubt that anyone here considers Joe Barton to be an expert on reservoir size.


I agree with you. 50 MM is economic and remember that they probably didn't have a 60 ft sand in their most likely case. It's telling that Patzek has to rely on a very indirect argument ("...so quickly" lol) - his reasoning is faulty. He doesn't cite the economics because he hasn't done it even approximately. He has never explored anywhere much less deepwater GOM.
No, I'm not shooting the messenger. Nothing wrong with mentioning what people have said.

50 million bbls recoverable oil, right? from two turbidites 252 A and B.
The wild well could produce slightly more than half: 25 million bbls oil

Tea sip confusion about OOIP, boe, recovery factor

It's more than just one 60 ft sand. Permitted to 20,000 ft, and we know there was stacked pay that kicked repeatedly while they were drilling.

"It's more than just one 60 ft sand. Permitted to 20,000 ft, and we know there was stacked pay that kicked repeatedly while they were drilling."

How do we know this? Wells commonly have problems before hitting "stacked pay". I'm not aware of any source claiming more that 60 ft in the log.

If you have a complete log, mudline to TD, I'd like to see it.

Me too and I don't have a log other than what we've seen. So we do not know if there is stacked pay. That's all I'm saying. I think it's economic on 50 MM (I am assuming recoverable).

A log of the well is on page 6 here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/BP-Production.Casing..... Between 18,080 and 18,260 ft there appears to be up to 140 ft of pay zone. Also signs of several other "stringers" above that to 17,700 ft. It must have been attractive enough for BP to stop far short of planned total depth and ignore another lower target zone. Original oil in place could be quite large. But BP engineers calculated the abandonment pressure on that well design would be about 4,600 psi, likely leaving a lot of hydrocarbons unrecoverable.

BTW, Platts Oilgram reported Wednesday that BP has retained Weil, Gotschal & Manges as legal counsel, and possibly Fulbrigh & Jaworski as well, as likely bankruptcy counsel. Stopping the well flow, by whatever means, will be only the end of the beginning of BP's ordeal.

We need the whole well, not just the last 1000 ft. Also note they had to TD at 18320 because of lost circulation, not because they "had enough pay."

We're getting crossthreaded. I thought you meant rate. It's this issue with the m's.

If the reservoir is only 50 Million BSTO IN PLACE, then the well has been producing 50,000 BOPD or less. I assumed it was 100 MILLION BSTO in place when I estimated 80,000 BOPD. I guess I can't be estimating much if I don't have the information. But if this is a 50 MMBO field, then it's teenie weenie. It's a two well field at best. What a drag, they lost several tens of billion of USD for this?

Yeah, sorry, different nomenclature. The drilling plan (http://tinyurl.com/37u68nl) is for wells A & B. Maybe they would have filed for others later; I certainly have no idea how big the potential is.

Before the blowout, the BP Macondo well was estimated to have ~100 million barrels of oil in place and ~50 million of ultimately recoverable resource.

Fdoleza, are you using STARS (CMG) for your simulation?

No sir. I don't have a license. I'm using a spreadsheet.

Seems to me the permeability in that sand must be very good. Otherwise, wouldn't you expect an obvious draw-down effect (less flow, lower velocity of flow) in a well flowing unrestricted for that long? Even a good aquifer will draw down around a well that pumps all the flow possible, and water certainly flows easier than crude, no?

If this refers to my comment that the pressure match I got was for 80,000 BOPD....this is an estimate of what the well was making prior to being shut in. I'm running a coarse superposition (multirate) model in my PC.

Thanks everyone for the clarifications. Much appreciated ! :)

I have toyed with putting together a rough estimate of the amount of money BP's alleged short-cuts would have saved BP, in rig time and cost. This is just for the period of two weeks or so leading up to the blow-out.

So far, i have come up with is a list of the alleged short-cuts. Any comments re inaccuracies, omissions or rough estimates on time saved appreciated.

- Opted not to inspect BOP after rubber chunks showed up in mud pits (would an inspection have been required under best practices?)

- Opted for riskier production casing instead of safer liner ($7-$10 million savings per BP e-mail)

- Opted to ignore Halibutton's warning and not to install more centralizers in order to save the time it would have taken to get them out to the rig

- Opted not to circulate “bottoms-up” before cementing

- Opted not to wait the full best-practices time for cement to cure before displacing riser mud (true?)

- Opted not to do a CBL test before displacing riser mud after negative pressure tests produced unexplained returns

- Opted not to take the time to ensure two independent barriers were in place before displacing riser mud

(- failed to achieve hydrostatic balancing in well before displacing riser mud)

(- failed to set top plug and lock-down sleeve before displacing riser mud)

- Opted to off-load mud before they had well fully sealed and secured

- Opted not to ensure effective monitoring of returns while displacing riser

- Opted to have crew occupied with rig-tear-down tasks before well fully sealed and secured

- opted to host a party on-board for bigwigs celebrating Transocean's safety record.

(not a time saving shortcut, but certainly time and attention focused elsewhere.)

Well, the party was not a cost-cutting move, but it did reflect some of the same hubris involved in the cost-cutting decisions.

I stumbled upon this looking for something else.

§ 250.442 What are the requirements for a subsea BOP stack?


(e) Before removing the marine riser, you must displace the riser with seawater. You must maintain sufficient hydrostatic pressure or take other suitable precautions to compensate for the reduction in pressure and to maintain a safe and controlled well condition.

One other one i forgot.

- Opted to drill Macondo with BOP with only 1 shear ram instead of two despite industry standard (and Transocean practice/history since at least 2001) of 2 shear rams on DW rigs.

That's a big'un there!

I know it sounds a crazy idea but crazy does happen. Maybe that go crossed over with brine in the well somewhere along the line? Just a crazy thought.


I don't recall you ever being a source of carazy ideas, NAOM. But i don't quite get what you mean. That they were going to put brine in the well at some point?

Ok, I'll try and make my thought a bit clearer. You show the reg for displacing the riser with sea water. The well is usually displaced with a clear fluid which can be referred to (and is) a brine though is a heavy brine with a similar density to mud. I am just wondering if, somewhere along the line, somebody mixed up the ideas of brine (heavy) in the well and seawater (light brine) in the riser. Yeah, I know it shouldn't happen but neither should this disaster.


I think the regulation to displace the riser with seawater has to do with flushing all the mud out of the riser before it is disconnected so the mud doesn't contaminate the ocean. When the riser is disconnected it doesn't have any affect on the hydrostatic head against the well pressure.

That's right, I am just wondering if someone did a big screw up and got things mixed up.


Yes, Shelburn, it was in a reg about BOP removal I believe (i edited that part out), so your points are right on.

I posted it because it still implies that correct practice is to balance the well before displacing the mud in the riser, i.e. if following the same logic, DWH would have adjusted mud-weight to compensate for the lighter sea water before displacing...UNLESS they secured the well in some other acceptable fashion (like thinking your cement job is okay maybe?).

It was the only reg. i could find that mentioned displacing the riser. I did not mean to imply it was directly applicable.

Okay, i get you now NOAM. I'm not sure whether that is possible. I don't recall ever hearing that was part of the plan though.

But as far as that reg. goes, it does say hydrostatic balance OR other means to secure the well, without specifying what is acceptable. I don't know whether industry practice would say displacing under those circumstrances was fine IF the cement had been good, like they must have assumed it was. But how do you know for sure until you start to displace.

I believe the new regs are supposed to specify two barriers any time you do something like that.

IF the cement had been good, like they must have assumed it was.

They certainly omitted the golden rule about 'assume'. I hope they get more specific about those 2 barriers and how they are installed/tested. I trust they mean hard, physical barriers rather than fluids (that can be lost, degraded, expelled etc).


I am a little confused about whether displacing on the assumption alone that your cement job is good would have met industry standard. The regs. are vague, unless i have not yet found the one that clarifies that. They would appear to permit it, or not explicitly prohibit it. So industry practices would fill in the blank, if there is one.

Then that vagueness needs to be removed. Each item needs to be reviewed, looking for anomalies, and compared against industry standard. The higher level of test needs to be defined, though there may be instances where that does not need to be applied. Every rule reviewed, every 'industry standard' reviewed and compared against the rules and maybe added to the rules. Possibly there is stuff that really needs to be torn up and thrown away but, again, after a thorough review. It is what worries me about calls to permit drilling after an inspection of the rigs, what standard are they inspecting to? While it maybe valid to restart after inspection, the rules of inspection need to be validated first.


Last comment. The regs. may be vague, but given the tussle they had over displacing the riser mud with sea water and the "guess that's what we have them pinchers for" comment, i don't think it's up to snuff. The TP insisted on a pressure test at minimum. Claimed it was his "policy." That way not open to argument of CM.


Truitt Crawford, a roustabout for drilling rig owner Transocean LTD, told Coast Guard investigators about the complaints. ...

"I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out," Crawford said in his statement."

Just a word of thanks to all the experts here who have displayed incredible patience and given out pertinent and useful information during this event. This has been a great learning experience.

I'm starting my celebration now, and hoping nothing untoward interrupts it as the next 48 hours go by. Then, onward.

Best wishes to all those around the Gulf, even though we are many miles away in the mountains our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Ditto. Thank God for TOD!!

Best source of information on any diaster since the dawn of the internet, IMHO...

Very kind of you. Texas here, so not so directly affected, but have friends in the other Gulf states who read TOD and will appreciate your thoughts.

I'm glad they will open it up again. This way they can see what the true flow is.

As for PSI being 6,500 psi, it was supposed to be 9,000. That may be a bad thing.

Frankly I'd prefer that it stay sealed if it's feasible. We haven't seen 100% containment yet and every release will be hit with Corexit. As far as the true flow goes, decent estimates are good enough for me but won't be the right number until there's nothing to measure.

Maybe I misunderstand your point. The new stack has kill and choke lines plus the great big vent on top. Right now all three are closed. As I understand it, if they "open up the well" again they'll start collecting from the kill and choke lines directly (or maybe from the BOP kill and choke lines?)" but leave the stack rams closed. (I.e., there shouldn't be any more use of an ill-fitting and inherently leaky cap, should there?)

The presumed intention of resuming collection is to reduce pressure on the BOP and in the well column, which will happen whether the flow is out the choke and kill lines or out the top.

Yeah, that's the plan. If that's what happens and everything gets collected, that'd be fine with me. However that's not going to happen for a few days at best apparently after the test is over, and then there's the weather factor. I'm a bit puzzled that they think they can stop collecting, close the cap quickly at will and leave it in place for however long it takes in case of bad weather. Some of this stuff isn't hanging together that well for me.

I have not heard anything official on pressure or if it is changing--either building or not.I will wait for tomorrow's press conference assuming no surprises. My guess is no one knows yet the path forward. Too many people making inconsistent preliminary statements --such as Alan. Wells was probably correct in saying this afternoon that the group of experts will brain storm every six hours. We will just have to wait.

Off topic,I watched the Ken Feinburg town hall meeting. He pulls no punches and can say things BP never could get away with saying. He really gave ot too a person who wanted to no why payments might be taxable.

Some people do not like Kenneth Feinberg. From CounterPunch July 2-5, 2010:

"The Case Against Kenneth Feinberg" By RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Kenneth Feinberg is an expert. His expertise? Collusive class actions. Limiting the liability of toxic tortfeasors. And covering up corporate and governmental wrongdoing. That’s the take of public interest attorney Rob Hager.


Is the reported 6,500psi at the wellhead or at the surface? If one adds the ~2,300psi of sea depth pressure to that figure, it becomes 9,800psi, which they were hoping for, depending on what point the psi is measured at---does this make sense?

pretty sure it's at the wellhead.

One the subject or doing a top kill now or waiting for RW, IMHO the first order of business after killing the well with mud will be to pump cement into the bottom of the well to seal off the producing zone. The only other way of doing this other than the RW would be clear what ever junk there is in the hole and run pipe to the bottom and that maybe that would require removing the old BOP. At best this would be a risky operation.

Best option is to finish the RW, kill from the bottom, and cement from the bottom since you have to finish RW anyway.

I was wondering about this when reading the question (in the thread just closed) addressed to Rockman. If there is a need to pump mud into the WW then it would need to be displaced by the cement from the RW due to the fact the DP is still in the old BOP.

I know it's speculation at this point but the exact placement of cement in the WW would most likely be determined by the results from the RW i.e. the oil is coming up the casing, annulus etc.

PS. On another topic; Has 30 minutes passed yet?

The plan I saw a while back was the kill the annulus of the WW from the RW, then pump cement into the annulus. Let it set and then mill into the casing and kill the inside of the casing and then pump cement into the the inside of the casing. I know I would not be happy untill I had cement in both.

If you mean 30 min since shut in, it has been close to 5 hrs.

I bet there some cheers and applause in the war room when they finally got the well 100% shut for this test. If they don't find any problems, I bet they never open it backup unless it's necessary for the actual relief well kill. Personally I'm glad it's holding so far and I hope it stays shut forever.

Tropical depression 6E is reported forming off the West coast of Africa.


Getting this thing closed in could be an even better idea than it first appears. Knowing the flow rate and the other details might be nice, but on the whole I'd prefer a safer, cleaner Gulf.

That's it George. Go rain on our parade!

delete duplicate

TD Six-E is an Eastern Pacific storm, currently about 500mi south of Baja California. It's chugging away from land.

But there *is* a rather large wave coming off Cape Verde. Hasn't developed much today, but it's worth watching. It's unusual that African systems have gotten started so early this season.

There's another big and disorganized wave in the western Caribbean. The real tropical weather headline is the onset of a new La Nina event, so we're probably in for a busy hurricane season.

I'm hoping the well remains stable under pressure. It's difficult to imagine BP can complete the RW before something blunders across the Macondo fleet. I'd hate to see them bug out without being able to close things down.

Thanks Chris,

Embarrassing to fail to distinguish between a Pacific storm and an Atlantic tropical wave! On a sobering note, the NHC has now identified a second low pressure system in the Caribbean that has a low chance (<30%) of becoming a hurricane. I sure hope the upper bop holds.

For future reference the international designations for hurricane basins are: A. Arabian Sea, B. Bay of Bengal, W. Western Pacific, C. Central Pacific, E. Eastern Pacific, L. North Atlantic, S. South Indian, P. South Pacific. So TD 6E is the sixth tropical depression to form in the Eastern Pacific this year.

A couple of follow-ups to comments in the prior thread:

- tyee asked who constructed the new cap. During his 5 pm briefing yesterday, Wells said that the key companies involved were Cameron, Transocean Engineering and GE (Bedco).

- lotus quoted an article in the NYT, BP says oil flow.. that quoted Wells

“I am very excited that there’s no oil in the Gulf of Mexico,” Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP, said about the flow during a teleconference on Thursday...

Reporters score again... Wells was not being that insensitive. From the transcript of his afternoon briefing,

Harry Weber:
Thank you. Mr. Wells, can you talk a little bit about what you’re feeling right now? You talked a little bit about trying to contain your emotion but obviously you must be a little excited. When do you think – and also when do you think the people – the Gulf should really be excited?

Kent Wells:
So two questions there, one about me, one about the people on the Gulf. I’ll stress again, I’m very pleased that there’s no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact I’m very excited there’s no oil going in the Gulf of Mexico. Let me be really clear about that. Where I’m holding back my emotion is we’re just starting the test and I don’t want to sort of create a false sense of excitement. We need to let the test move forward. We need to learn from it and make the right decision. So I think it’s important.

I think for the people living on the Gulf. I’m certainly not going to try to guess their emotions. I hope they’re encouraged that there’s no oil going in the Gulf of Mexico, but what we have to be careful about is depending on what this test – what this test tells us, we may need to open the well back up. we may need to go back with our containment options which we’re continuing to progress to be prepared in all scenarios and as soon as we think it’s appropriate, we’ll immediately start drilling the relief wells again. So I think at this point I would encourage them to perhaps be encouraged but let’s do the test and let’s see what it tell us.

This was never commented on in the last thread. Sure would appreciate some comments!!
I specifically addressed Rockman, but please all feel free to comment. I work so cannot follow everyday, but about a week ago I read a very interesting comment from someone which seemed to explain a visual we had all seen earlier. This was the view of the end of the riser which had fallen and from which some oil was flowing. It seemed to be two pipes we saw, but they did not look like drill pipe as the thickness was to minimum.
So, the commenter I mentioned had guessed that it was a section of the casing that had been bent into a figure 8, which is exactly as I remember the picture to seem like. If agreed, it seems important in two ways-One, can someone really good in math and computer graphics develope the diameter if it is the casing to help us understand from how deep it came from, Two, can it have meant that the BOP could not function correctly, thus indicating RIG is not at fault for a failed cement job?

In addition it may influence how this well is finally killed. Additionally one more time, it seems to tie into the missing drill pipe BP expected to see the other day but was missing when they replaced the old riser section-I remember the comment they expected to see two pieces but only one was there, though I may have missed this discussion's conclusion if different.

Comments can no longer be added to this story.

Criminey, rainy, what a verb to drop.

THANK YOU for the amendment.

lotus: i was going to get on your case right when the thread closed. The transcript had been posted and even if he had dropped a verb once, he was asked about his feelings by three reporters. Cut the guy some slack. Says more about the reporter or news service than it does about Wells.

Says more about the reporter or news service than it does about Wells.

Sure does. BAD NYT, bad.

Yeah, pretty bad.

It's one thing for reporters to get confused about technical details, another thing entirely for them to slant their coverage in what appears to be a direct quote.

It's one thing for reporters to get confused about technical details, another thing entirely for them to slant their coverage in what appears to be a direct quote.

I doubt it was deliberate, just sloppy.

I doubt it was deliberate, just sloppy.

Entirely possible since (a) H. Fountain is prolly all sun-addled after 2-3 days out on the Gulf, and (b) you can tell, these last several months, that NYT has cut back severely on copy-editors.

you can tell, these last several months, that NYT has cut back severely on copy-editors.

As it happens, I'm a copy editor/proofreader/transcriber by profession. Between the illiterate transcribers of the briefings and the lack of adequate copyediting/proofreading at the Times and just about everywhere else, I feel like a dinosaur. Once my generation is gone--and it's getting there fast--I fear it's all over for good English in print. (Present company excepted, of course!)

Remind me again where I can find genuine content in english in print?

"I fear it's all over for good English in print."

And, as good English has so seldom appeared in the spoken word, and almost never on the Internet (much of our present company, thankfully, excepted)... we shall have to cling to our libraries. Or turn to French, which my Francophone friends assure me has retained both its purity and superiority. ;^)

we shall have to cling to our libraries. Or turn to French, which my Francophone friends assure me has retained both its purity and superiority. ;^)

Oy gevalt. Spare me from purity and superiority! Good English is neither pure nor superior, praise Dog.

"...and second prize is two copies of the complete works of Prudhomme."

"...and second prize is two copies of the complete works of Prudhomme."


We will know when the audio is released.

Transcribers get things wrong.

Audio has been available for some time now. The NYT was wrong.

audio here http://bp.concerts.com/gom/audio/techAudio_7152010_2.htm

(and yes, transcribers do sometimes get things wrong .. I still chuckle over the "ceiling cap" and "innocent commander Allen".)

ETA: yup, the NYT misquoted, but I did pick up a new transcriber chuckle ... about the "capping attack".

And don't forget the "alimar p cap".

And don't forget the "alimar p cap".

And "phalanges." And "Animal Fat"!

from the 1700 update on July 14:

page 4, 3rd paragraph (about why they didn't replace the original LMRP with another and a 2nd BOP on that):

the transcript said: "... LMRP has (zero) pipe in it."

The audio was: "... LMRP has drill pipe in it."

Let's play News Telephone!

Kent Wells: I’ll stress again, I’m very pleased that there’s no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact I’m very excited there’s no oil going in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kent Wells 'very pleased' no oil going into Gulf

Kent Wells says he is 'very pleased' with Gulf disaster

Kent Wells: 'very excited' there’s oil gushing into Gulf of Mexico

Gulf seafloor ruptured, leaking; Kent Wells says he is 'very pleased'

Chupacabra crossing border illegally for romantic encounter with Goat Boy; Obama ignores invasion, distracted by Financial reform

The Plan

In the beginning was the Plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.

And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying, "It is a crock of s[redacted]t, and it stinketh."

And the workers went unto their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odour thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, "It is a vessel of fertiliser, and none may abide its strength."

And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another, "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors then went onto the Vice Presidents, saying unto them, "It promotes growth and is very powerful."

And the Vice Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him, "This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigour of the company; with powerful effects."

And the President looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good.

And the Plan became Policy.

This is How S[redacted]t Happens.

You just made my night. I literally laughed out loud, specially since I just recently watched a Chupacabra news story. It was ridiculous, I couldn't believe they were still at it !!!

Hi ... I'm newly registered, though I've been lurking a while.

I've been watching BOA 2 all afternoon.

Since about 14:00 it's been sitting on the sea floor, watching drops of oil (and possibly hydrates) seep out of the ooze.

It's facing into the current, so some 'floaters' also come by.

Once in a while it runs its propellers full blast, throwing up a cloud of orange 'dust' laden with oil drops -- which then drifts back past it. (The first time I wasn't watching, and then looked up at my screen to see a dark cloud, and thought there had been a blow-out. But I've seen a couple more since then.

Another ROV recently appeared in the distance (just a light) ... probably come to watch the same seepage field.

iirc it was Allen who said this morning that during the integrity test there will be two ROVs monitoring the seafloor around the well head and four doing sonar scans in the four quadrants around the well.

The ram BOPs in the new three ram stack appear to be by Hydril now owned by GE. I didn't get a good enough look at the annular and don't know if I could tell anyhow.

Will there be a recording released of this briefing?

Reporters score again... Wells was not being that insensitive.

Been fixed in the latest update of the article, I'm happy to report.

Deep C Rov2 is in a striking haze of oil-like particles. Anyone know what's happening?

george, somebody had a good theory earlier: that the plume produced a chimney effect that, when it stopped, left the oil to drift in the current.

(Thanks for the weather update just now.)


Some of the oil would sink if a great deal of dispersant had been introduced at the last moment, otherwise you might expect the oil to rise out of the way. I never got much of a handle on Navier-Stokes, so "chimney effects" work for me.

george, somebody had a good theory earlier: that the plume produced a chimney effect that, when it stopped, left the oil to drift in the current.

This many hours later, the last oil released would still be drifting around the wellhead?

If it has enough Corexit in it, maybe so? (No telling, huh?)

I`m a li`l bit afraid to say that, but while everybody was cheering http://bp.isevil.org (frame 54013) have been for a loooong time showing what seemed to be gas bubbling from different parts of the ocean floor, like tiny moon craters that opened and rapidly closed. Has anybody seen it ?

Pretty thick blizzard over [EDIT: somewhere], Viking Poseidon 1

The big yellow thing is an FMC blowout preventer or manifold which makes no sense. None of the MODUs in the area have one. Deepwater Horizon didn't have anything made by FMC. Can anyone clear up this mystery for me?

Initially I thought Viking Poseidon 1 was over the DWH wreckage site because I saw the collapsed riser on the seafloor, but there shouldn't be any FMC iron in the wreckage.

EDIT at 8:15 Central - Viking Poseidon 1 just went through an incredible storm of some kind, hydrate blizzard, black stuff, puffs of white.

Down on #theoildrum IRC chat, "completenovice" reported personally seeing the Viking Poseidon docked in Galveston.

Whatever ship/ROV is using that feed is clearly *not* the VP.

Interesting. I've been using sanaracreations.fi/rov-feeds

Can anyone identify this ROV, currently staring at a big seafloor eruption?

avonaltendorf, it is rather well known that a number of "rogue" ROVs have joined the party. What boats are carrying them is part of the mystery. Also why there is no "official" mention of them, specifically links on the BP ROV feeds page.

With 128 boats in the immediate vicinity (IIRC) sorting out ROV equipped boats by AIS data too big of a project for me.

I'm currently looking at the Viking Poseidon ROV 1 and this is the exact same picture it currently has, only it's clearer. It appears to be on a ship? perhaps? rain looked like it was hitting the lens earlier. i'm lurking on globalwarminghouse.gov...

Quite right, it's been recovered, so I misunderstood the bubbling.

Which site you use for your feeds is irrelevant. The sites are simply offering mirrors of Akamai's web feeds. Whatever that ROV is, it is on the (old?)"VP1" feed. What it really represents is anyone's guess. As has been pointed out, the VP is in port in Galveston.

I was just stating it to state. I have read online that some of the live feeds are a little bit skewed on the time and not all of them match up. With some lagging. Thanks for putting it so eloquently...

avonaltendorf - Not sure what feed this is other than it says it is the Viking Poseidon ROV1. First time watching the feeds tonight and around 8:30 ET this feed showed the methane storm you described as it was viewing the seabed around the FMC EVDT as you mentioned. Then the ROV took a hold of a cable that was connected to something on the seabed and ripped it loose. These were my observations if they are of any use. This ROV definitely showed what appeared to be bubbles voilently coming from the seabed.

Thank you, Jesse. Good to have independent confirmation.

Ditto for me Jesse - though I did not get to see this.

In my opinion, it is quite likely that there has long been a "vent" from the sea floor of oil from the Macondo well. ROV equipped boats have made excursions 2-4 miles to the SSW, according to observed AIS info. Such excursions date back to at least June 5. I personally observed a video feed from a ROV mission in this area -- which was abruptly cut when a dark cloud became apparent.

I further would expect that dispersant operations were set up there -- which might explain the equipment that you and avonaltendorf saw.

One can speculate re the many reasons why such venting and dispersant operations have been kept from public knowledge. And some here will likely label this as crackpot tinfoil hat alarmism. But like you, I know what I saw...and I'm not the only one who saw it.

Bubbles? There have been no bubbles shown on any of the feeds except when the ROV is within ~100ft of the surface, either ascending or descending. There are blobs of oil in the mud around the well, and when mud gets kicked up by thruster wash, ROV moving cables to sort out or prevent tangles, or even a ROV out of view dragging its tether as it moves, the oil blobs float up with the mud. These seafloor vents people keep imagining look and behave nothing like any of the actual oil that came from the actual leaks from the actual plumbing. There may very well be venting from the seafloor, but it hasn't been shown on a ROV cam not once since this whole thing started.

This is NOT a "big seafloor eruption!" Not by a long shot! It's the interior of one of the vessels, ostensibly the Viking Poseidon (which is supposedly in Galveston tonight.

(1) When I snapped this image with VLC, it was labeled as being the Viking Poseidon (ROV 1) at: http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:46566.asx?bkup=54013

(3) Here's my initial screenshot (virtually identical to yours): http://twitpic.com/25oous

(4) An hour or so later, a new image begin to morph, until a large hand appeared, virtually covering the camera lens: http://twitpic.com/25opus

(4) At about 11:30 pm (ET), as I was video-recording the scene with VLC, the interior of the vessel become clearer. My hunch that the initial image was floor grating in some vessel, perhaps the Viking Poseidon, was confirmed.

(5) Next, I saw workers begin to walk around, and screen-captured the top of a worker's hardhat: http://twitpic.com/25or0j

(6) I have endless pics of this live feed's evolution from (a) floor grating to (b) workers walking around to (c) a watery, abstract of a ship's interior. Bottom line? It is absolutely not a "seafloor eruption."

I disagree. Viking Poseidon is in Galveston. VP ROV showed an oil volcano. Therefore, there must be a massive rupture in the earth's crust all the way from MC252 to Galveston.

Hush. You're just being silly, both of you. I acknowledged that the ROV was recovered and I mistook the bubbling at surface for something it was not. It remains that Jesse indepedently verified what I saw (and documented with a screenshot). And I'm beginning to question whether the ROV could have been recovered so quickly? or have we been deceived again by switching video feeds? It certainly wasn't Viking Poseidon as advertised.

Nevertheless, this episode has me rethinking the chronology of Macondo. If you're not familiar with the whole story, let's start at the beginning

On October 21, 2009, the Transocean Marianas arrived on location to spud an exploration well. Several days later drilling commenced, but was halted on Nov. 28, 2009 when Marianas underwent repairs for damage caused by Hurricane Ida. The depth of the well is unknown. [Rigzone/SubseaIQ]

It's reasonable to assume that Marinas drilled about 10,000 ft, rode out the hurricane, cemented a top plug, pulled up their riser and BOP. Deepwater Horizon arrived February 3, 2010, splashed their own BOP according to Chris Pleasant's USCG testimony, and re-entered the Marinas well, we think. DWH drilled a few hundred feet, got stuck, cut off the pipe, sidetracked and spent the next two months drilling to the reservoir top, lost circulation, and on orders from the beach installed a long tapered production liner.

Since I saw the FMC subsea tree, I'm beginning to question whether Marinas drilled a different location than DWH, reached a gassy pay sand and left an FMC tree instead of cementing a top plug. DHW started a new well, had plenty of time (10 weeks) to reach 18,000 ft, and when DWH capsized it drifted down smack on top of the Marinas well, which explains what I saw and also explains why we've never seen any ROV exploration of the DWH wreckage. All we know for sure is the DWH riser disconnected and folded up, nowhere near the sunken rig.

Let's assume I'm wrong. No problem. All I ask is Unified Command or BP to cough up some documents showing the coordinates of Marinas and Deepwater Horizon, and drilling reports. Did DHW stick a new wellhead in the seafloor or re-enter an existing one? Pretty simple question.

I listened to Ratigan's most recent phone interview with Matt Simmons. He may be right, that there's an open hole 3 miles away: the unacknowledged Marinas well?

I'm concerned that all of TOD is in severe denial about what Matt Simmons has been saying (that the real leak-hole is far bigger and everything in HO's post above is just sucking up to BP's pantomime cover-up).
For a start, where are those huge undersea plumes coming out? How come there is such good visibility right there at the "leak"? The Simmons claim of a separate hole at first sounded like it could be him becoming unhinged into a conspiracy theory. But on further study, in particular this video linked below, it's clear that it is what TOD should be concentrating on rather than the sideshow that all these posts from HO are diverting us with. TOD, please wake up and smell the methane!
(Note that the first 7 minutes of part 1 are irrelevant stuff about some Christian church. But that doesn't mean anything is wrong with the evidence from Simmons himself):

Cauldron of fire? BP could have drilled into a volcano?

The TJ's report covering findings from their latest journey is online. There's no mention of anything like this.


I think what I saw was an FMC EVDT subsea tree.

avonaltendorf -- please email me

The plot thickens! Apr 2009: "FMC Technologies has received orders from BP for additional subsea systems for the operators Gulf of Mexico projects. The awards, worth around $82 million, are calloffs from a frame agreement signed in November 2006 and consist of nine subsea trees including controls, installation and workover control system and other related equipment. Deliveries will start mid-2009 and continue through 2011."

Guessing but quite possibly that refers to Thunderhorse. BP announced that they were replacing some of the FMC Thunderhorse subsea equuipment just before the Maconda blow-out. BP has also been ramping up Thunderhorse South to attempt to compensate for poor performance at Thunderhorse North.

That looks very strange, there is weird stuff going on in three of those frames. You have to watch for a little while but it looks like oil and gas coming out of the ground.

I came across the 60 Minutes interview with blowout survivor Mike Williams again today and there are some things in his account that kinda bother me a little bit.


"I hear the engines revving. The lights are glowing. I'm hearing the alarms. I mean, they're at a constant state now. It's just, 'Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.' It doesn't stop. But even that's starting to get drowned out by the sound of the engine increasing in speed. And my lights get so incredibly bright that they physically explode. I'm pushing my way back from the desk when my computer monitor exploded," Williams told Pelley. (snip)

I'm sure it was a hellish experience and I'm not trying to denigrate him in way. I'm sure a sudden intake of methane would increase the engine's rpm, but don't they have some kind of "governor" or rev limiter on them? And wouldn't there be some kind current limiting circuitry on the generator? Wouldn't the circuit breakers have prevented his monitor, for example from exploding. Possibly a very sudden surge could do it, but it would have to be massive and pretty much instantaneous - the monitor and lights would have blown at the same time. I know everything happened very quickly, but I just don't get the impression that it happened that fast.
Anybody on here with elctrical experience that can help me understand?
- Thanks to everyone on TOD for helping me learn so much.

The generators diesels are normally governed by automatically changing the fuel injection rate, unlike gasoline engines, which control the intake airflow.

Normally, a diesel air intake runs wide open, and there is a safety gate that flops over the air intake if the engine overspeeds.

If a diesel engine gets any kind of fuel in the air intake, such as methane, or engine oil from a blown piston or piston ring coming in through the crankcase emissions system, the safety flopper is SUPPOSED TO CLOSE.

I've read that the diesels on the Deepwater Horizon had such floppers, but they didn't operate for some reason when the diesels oversped.

In reference to your questions about circuit breakers: they normally open when there's too much current, and are not tripped by over VOLTAGE, which is likely what blew the lights.

I'm not sure what kind of monitor he was using, but I presume it was an LCD monitor, which might have blown overvoltaged capacitors. I doubt a CRT monitor glass would blow from overvoltage.

Edit: I'd have to know much more about the regulation mechanisms of the alternators in the generators themselves to hazard a guess why the voltage just went up. It may be that the design parameters of the field controls didn't allow a low enough excitation voltage to keep the voltage down with the generators (WAG) went to doublespeed.

An alternator's voltage is directly related to the engine speed and rotor current. The standard brushless design is an alternator creating the rotor current through diodes flying on the rotor. So you increase voltage by applying more exciter current, and decrease by waiting for the rotor's current to decay by the diode drop and its resistance.

Since the decrease is also a parasitic loss, the rotor circuit is designed around handling a sudden load loss without too much voltage overshoot. This isn't a lot, maybe 25%, decreasing with size, and a 10% voltage overshoot is OK. Permanent-magnet rotors are doable with a bit more air gap and a flexible voltage output. So even if the exciter current drops to 0, a sudden double speed means close to double the voltage.

You can avoid this by using a brushed rotor design, or an active circuit on the rotor. This isn't a bad idea if engine overspeed can't be prevented.

But any possible overvoltage due to runaway was a minor side issue in this situation, eyewitnesses said the gensets literally blew themselves off the platform and started the fire.

Thanks for the reply orm. Could this be another safety feature that failed? Wonder if it had anything to do with the ignition source? Course if the ignition wasn't caused by something related to the generators, I'm sure it would have been something else.

BTW, I'm wondering what became of the 700,000 gallons diesel that were on board?

§ 250.510 Diesel engine air intakes.

Diesel engine air intakes must be equipped with a device to shut down the diesel engine in the event of runaway. Diesel engines that are continuously attended must be equipped with either remote operated manual or automatic-shutdown devices. Diesel engines that are not continuously attended must be equipped with automatic-shutdown devices.

I have had a hydraulic line blow next to an engine air intake. The speed went up so fast the governor couldn't catch it. The engine block split in half. Bye Bye Cay D-399.

DR - know the feeling on that one. In the mid-90s, I was director of production for a small company which built both on & offshore gensets & Hyd power units. ALL offshore diesels have to have an automatic intake air shutdown for overspeed/runaway situations. We used the "Chalmatic" valve made by Chalwyn - I think out of B.C. You set the valve by a locknut & rod for a specific rpm at full load - if exceeded, the valve snaps shot & kills the intake air, thereby shutting down the engine. There are electronic overspeed protection devices, but I don't know enough about them & their redundancy - IMO, the "manual" automatic shutdown is more foolproof - JMO.

The Chalwyn rep showed us a video of an intentional overspeed test & failure - frightening!!!!

I experienced a stituation eerily similar to the Macondo Well. While on a well in Wyoming, we took a kick that blew the flowline off. Since the mud no longer diverted a gas cloud enveloped the drill floor. The floor motors started running on natural gas and within a few minutes two $80,000 cat motors blew up. One threw a rod right through the engine casing. A quick thinking hand realized what was happening and tossed his Carhardt over the intake on the the other motor which averted a total loss.

It was the middle of the night and the screetching sound of the motors was unreal.

With the well shut-in, the flowline was re-attached and the well was circulated through the choke. Still dicey....remember the kick is just the displacement of the mud column from the gas bubble down hole that is still on its way to the surface and it was big one. You can slow it down by choking the well but it is still coming.

Easily an 80' flare that roared like a 747 when the bubble hit the surface.

Amazingly, by 10:00am the next morning, there were two new cat motors installed.

If memory serves, just as on the Macondo Well, the motors that blew were equiped with "rig saver" type governors. While there are plenty of theories on the cause of the Macondo Well incident, one thing is certain.....the rig saver governors did not work.

First post but I've been lurking for a while. Really appreciate the generous sharing of expert knowledge on this site.

NippleUp, excellent story.

Nipple: Wyoming Machinery to the rescue, eh?

TV monitors blowing up is Hollywood stuff... at least due to anything electrical. Maybe the blast overpressure from outside could've done it, though something strong enough to crush a CRT would've left his ears bleeding too. I wasn't there so I won't pass judgement either, but my eyebrows went up when I read that, too.

Probably hyperbole for conversational effect.

Most likely it cut out with a bit of noise.

What puzzles me is who uses CRTs any more?

Oh, I do assure you that, when the magic smoke is lost, computer gear can really go with a bang. Capacitors are especially good fun with foil confetti distributed everywhere. There is one make of PC, a notable make, I would not want to have anywhere, especially on somewhere where fire could be a problem. You should see what the jet of flame out the back of a power supply can do. Generators over run, protection circuits exceed rating, surge blows through, yep could well have gone with a good bang.

As for CRTs they do have some uses for high resolution work but LCDs are getting better, faster but still have number of line limits.


Hey,hey,hey ! ! Watch it !

Possibly a very sudden surge could do it, but it would have to be massive and pretty much instantaneous - the monitor and lights would have blown at the same time.

That's what an eye-witness said:
all the lights on the rig blew out instantly.

I thought it was these fishermen, but can't find it in their text,
still an interesting story:

What the other commentators have said: diesel engines are prone to overspeed if ingesting any flammable. And even the automatic dampers have failed.

The ONLY way to sure control it is stop the air, since a diesel will compression ignite whatever is burnable, so if unlimited fuel is streaming in thru the air intake, cutting off the diesel fuel pumps/injectors does no good.

Note that most electrical circuit breakers have some delay before they activate.
A diesel can rev up very very fast - there are people who do drag racing with them - so the voltage could rise rapidly.
And it can go beyond the "normal" limits for governance, especially as the exciter field generator is likely on the same shaft as the main generator:
the faster the exciter turns, the stronger the field in the main generator, thence the higher the voltage (given the same load).

And the high revs would have allowed more inertia to provide greater instantaneous current (thus power).

And, if one has a large electrical transient, such as big breakers popping, one can also have "echos" that lead to large voltage transients, especially with transformers in the circuit (they store energy).
Such large voltage transients can ionize the air between breaker poles and bridge across, even if the breaker is popped. (large utility breakers use gas jets or oil immersion to get around this).

Having seen the aftermath of a large magnet that had a power supply fault (evidence of molten copper),
and many, many power supplies, etc. that lost their "magic smoke" (1),
I have no problem believing that in a self-contained power grid with several over-reving-to-destruction diesel gensets (phase mis-match would have made for interesting voltage spikes too), that light bulbs, computer monitors, etc. would get toasted in obvious and spectacular ways.
The generators could have supplied several times normal voltage for a few seconds, 5x or more as a diesel went from chugging along at 1200 rpm to 8 or 10 thousand rpm, before they self-destructed.

I also had the thought that the large frequency increase could have fooled the generator voltage regulation circuit.

(1) old electronics repair person joke: when something fries (literally), and it no longer functions, the loss of function is facetiously ascribed to the loss of the "magic smoke" that obviously was within the part when it was still functioning, thus the "magic smoke" is what makes things work.

Yup. Good summary. No problem imagining monitors, light bulbs and a long list of other stuff making impressive flash-bangs... for a little while.

We always told the marketing guys that the wireless systems ran on smoke: "We know this because, when we let the smoke out, it stops working."

And even the automatic dampers have failed

When this was first brought up on TOD several months ago, links were given which extensively covered the subject. IIRC the only reliable way to shut down a runaway diesel is to hold the valves open with a decompression mechanism.

Could be a few Cruise ships for sale about now. BP could use them quickly------ to cart oil a- shore---------Filter out the furniture later. All jokes aside this pressure reading of 6700 psi could indicated a leak but what I don't understand is why they think the pressure could build over 48 hours time. Seems to me more likely to drop if there is a leak. And it seems the longer the possible leak is allowed to happen this could hurt the bottom kill process.

I think they wanted to watch it for up to 48 hours if it stayed stable. IF the pressure starts dropping, they'll probably open it up I guess.

Seems to me more likely to drop if there is a leak

could it be NG expand as it move upward and as you get more and more NG on top, the pressure builded until the well becoome static and nothing move.. And you get the equilbrium pressure??

So what's the pressure now ?

Looks to me like BP may have screwed the pooch, or the reservoir, in this case. Producing a well wide open through the casing for 86 days isn't the best oilfield practice. If the gas head is allowed to escape the formation it can leave behind large amounts of unrecoverable oil; oil w/o a driving force. Looking at the live feeds it seems to me that there may be less gas in the effluent, less roil in the boil, than there was some weeks back. Now that BP has been pressured in to acting, installing the 3-ram stack (any easy task in retrospect), they are crazy to shut it in and leave it shut-in ... at least the accountants are.

Producing this formation is the furthest thing from their mind. Do the math on what they are spending and and income (it is peanuts), which by the way they are giving to some wildlife recovery effort anyway.

50 million barrels is 4 billion dollars, so it is worth coming back too, isn't it?

Some day - some company not named BP - will quietly go up or down dip from the current location and develop this.... assuming the well is successfully plugged.

I would bet if anyone comes back, it won't be BP.

No doubt worth it, but another way to look at it, 50MMB is about three day's supply for the US. (Swift Loris, did I get that apostrophe wrong?)

20 years from now - 50MM bbls of light oil - could be very valuable...

about three day's supply for the US. (Swift Loris, did I get that apostrophe wrong?)

Yeah, should be "three days' supply." (Normally I don't have my editor's specs on when I'm reading blog comments, so I don't notice stuff unless someone asks. Didn't mean to make anybody nervous!)

I think you would go cross-eyed if you put on the specs.

They are giving the income to the wildlife recovery effort - the NET income. What costs they subtract has not been stated. All the costs of the cap, the new BOP, the relief wells, the skimmers, the lost rig, the clean up of the marshes and beaches, the payments to the fishermen......??????? If they donate what would be normal net income from X amount of oil that would be nice. But if they subtract pretty much any of the extra costs being born at present they quickly get to zero and then move right on into Net Loss.

As I understand it the only thing being deducted is the royalties, production taxes and maybe working interest owners share. BP only has 65% of the well and has no say were the 35% share goes. Of course there will be a court fight over the working interest owners share of the expenses.

From what I can tell -- with a 6700 - 7000 PSI reading -- the result is inconclusive. If the readings are 8000-9000 - then they keep it shut in as long as possible. 4000-6000 they stop testing and start collecting. So what's next - some thoughts:

* They run the 48 hour test
* Re-connect to the choke and kill lines (not the top)and capture "up to 80,000 boe/d"
* Run Seismic to check the seabed
* Restart RW1
* When RW1 ready - disconnect capture - and close valves as necessary to inject mud/cement

Of course this is jmho....

I suppose just producing through the choke and kills line-that can handle 33k- might be an option while keeping everything else shut.

Diver, they may not have an ESD on the choke and kill lines. I don't know what's the working pressure for the lines going into the surface vessels, but say those are 5000 psi lines, then they won't be able to produce unless they keep some oil spilling - to make sure there's pressure relief. So this may not be as clean as it sounds. I sure wish they would publish their full piping diagrams including their ESD logic.

If they're going to rely on a containment strategy after this test is complete it won't be pretty if there isn't close to 100% recovery. It may be that climatological dynamics limits are close at hand.

Gianluigi Zangari
Frascati National Laboratories (LNF) - National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN)
Frascati 00044, Via E. Fermi, 40, ITALY
Correspondence to: Gianluigi Zangari Email: gianluigi.zangari@lnf.infn.it
Abstract: BP Oil Spill may cause an irreparable damage to the Gulf
Stream global climate thermoregulation activity.
The Gulf Stream importance in the global climate thermoregulation processes
is well assessed. The latest real time satellite (Jason, Topex/Poseidon, Geosat
Follow-On, ERS-2, Envisat) data maps of May-June 2010 processed by CCAR1,2
(Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research), checked at Frascati
Laboratories by the means of the SHT congruent calculus3 and compared with
past years data, show for the first time a direct evidence of the rapid breaking
of the Loop Current, a warm ocean current, crucial part of the Gulf Stream.
As displayed both by the sea surface velocity maps and the sea surface height
maps, the Loop Current broke down for the first time around May 18th and
generated a clock wise eddy, which is still active (see Fig. 1).

more at:

There's also the question of how this might affect hurricanes in the Gulf this season. Maybe it'll cause them to be less ferocious? Or not?

The reliance on the containment is temporary -- assumption is that there is enough pressure in the 6700-7000 range to successfully complete the RW. Part of the 48 hr test is to see if the pressure stabilized in the 6700-7000 range - if so - then it may be possible in a hurricane situation to shut in some or all valves for a short period of time -- wish they could manage remotely...

Although the RW is the best solution, it's getting to be a bigger assumption by the day. Not reaching 8000-9000 concerns me.

A 2 day stabilization in the 6700-7000 range apparently says nothing useful...especially in regard to the break in the loop current. The loop current isn't paying that much attention to this test. There's enough oil and methane in the Gulf already for the break to possibly remain for months...and several hurricanes.

BP legal probably has a good handle on this one though....ambiguous causality.

Understand the concern -- a more optimistic look -- a hurricane can actually help to break up the oil in the gulf into smaller pieces that can be eaten by microbes or evaporate... kind of a large toilet flush impact :) I think the longer this thing stretches out the better chance for all the "worst case" scenarios -- but I believe there is enough pressure to cement seal leaks to the formation and pump mud and cement to kill the well...


Can't we infer that they can get enough back pressure to ensure relief well utube is not a problem?

More old news dressed up in drag for a Doomsday party.

The Loop Current breaks off an eddy like this every year or so, this one is Eddy Franklin, starting to follow its older sibling Ekman towards Texas.

Gianluigi Zangari is good at wild speculation:

...it might be therefore plausible to correlate the breaking of
the Loop Current with the biochemical and physical action of the BP Oil Spill on
the Gulf Stream.

but he isn't much of a researcher if he can't even check Wikipedia for a Loop Current and eddy description:

edit to add: Besides, the eddy was already starting to break away on the day the well blew out: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/GLBhycom1-12/navo/glfmexspdcur/nowcast/sp...

Come to think of it, Dougr, why weren't you smart enough to fact check this nonsense before posting it?

The break in the loop current is not the usual shedding of an eddy. When an eddy is shed, the loop current still remains intact.
An example of this is on that wikipedia page:

Here is another example of the shedding of an eddy

The loop current remains intact.

If you compare that to the current situation you can see there is a significant difference.

I did mention that causality was not by any means solid but there is a difference.

Loop current/eddy formation looks normal

A little more detail info and references

I think that they only model the top layer of the current, wonder what is going on with the lower layers?

Just a reminder that the complete archive of Gulf of Mexico current models is here:

While looking into the ability of a hurricane to loft oil/dispersant, I found that there is a bit of argument back and forth on the role that "spume" plays in moving energy into the hurricane from the sea. "Spume" being the froth and spray torn from the tops of the waves. One of the larger points for contention, has to do with the enthalpy. (heat transfer characteristics) When I ran across this it got my attention:

"...is the scale of turbulent velocity differential over the droplet radius r, exceeds the restoring force associated with the surface tension. Then the criteria for the pulverization is that the Weber number should exceed some critical value ..."

Surface tension? If I remember, a surfactant is used to modify surface tension. That's how soap works. And surfactants play a large role in dispersive agents... such as Corexit.

So.. yeah there can probably be an effect. But I can't tell you what it will be. Whether the oil or dispersant enhances or inhibits that heat transfer in the spume is going to be really important, but I haven't read anything addressing that issue.

Anyone who can comprehend it (I can't grasp it all), here ya go:

Model of the spume sea spray generation
V. N. Kudryavtsev1, and V. K. Makin


I'd like a noise log in the relief wells before they do anything else.

Can a noise log in a separate well pick up flow in the ww? Even if it's5 ft away?

I think so. The noise made by 10,000 BOPD and 20 MMCFD should be turbulent enough to make things vibrate. A very sensitive mike set in the relief well, if the noise is coming through 5 ft of sediment, should be quite discernable. My concern is that the flow may be BELOW the relief well's current depth. But I would model it, and try it.

Oh. I thought the idea was to listen for flow when the well is shut in - that way tell if it is leaking. Seems reasonable to me. Wonder about the baseline though.

Exactly. I believe the flow will be coming out of the bottom sand and going into the upper sand. It would not be a leak, but it would tell them why their pressure data ain't a classical surface buildup. And I sure hope they're modeling temperatures and so on, because this is a very interesting case. They don't have downhole gauges, so they'll have to take the way the oil cools down as it sits to get a better idea of the way things are moving down below.

You know, I sure wish these guys had a channel to get some comments to them. I wrote them a couple of times, with suggestions, got put on some bs list, and later I got two offers to go clean ducks. The second time they did it, I told them to send Tony Hayward over to mow my lawn.

"I got two offers to go clean ducks"
so finish the story, did you go clean ducks?
how many?
thanks for that fd
and thanks also for the hot tip about using cooling to guestimate flow, never thought of that, makes sense

No, I didn't go clean ducks. I went around a bit. Next week I'm gone again, so I'll be participating from Europe.

I dream of getting offers to clean ducks.

that sounds right to me IMveryHO

As the BP disaster in the GOM may be coming closer to a final solution, I'd like to take a moment to thank the TOD and it's primary editors and contributors (Rockman especially) for how well they have monitored this site and provided an outstanding educational experience for all of us "non-oil-patchers." I'm a retired engineer from the defense industry and have a faced a few harrowing moments in my life, but nothing compared to what the brave souls, industry and government, who have given so much to bring this disaster to an end (hopefully).

Yes, I will be cruising this site again because I'm concerned about our energy future, climate change and the depletion of natural resources world-wide. We're facing a very uncertain future. Fortunately sites like TOD provide a forum for intelligent discourse, with a minimum of partisan diatribes.



Hear, hear ..... "Atta Boys" all around .

I'll heartily "second" that! I've just begun exploring this site (and participating in #theoildrum), but I'm impressed (and excited) by this resource.

I am not a proponent of conspiracy theories, really, but:

I found in my local newspaper a Reuters article that says
"Analysts surveyed by Reuters Insider predict that BP will spend between $63 billion to $100 billion over the next 15 years in fines, cleanup costs and legal costs"...

First, my "conspiracy" thought is whether Exxon Mobil would be treated same way as BP with a "foot on the neck".

Second, on the serious note, as I understood BP created the $20B fund under gov't pressure, but voluntarily. All its liability as written in law is $75M. So if they are willing to pay (and pay) reasonable losses and expenses to affected businesses and individuals, can they try to play defence two way

- "we pay fair, do not push us past $20B, because we will hide behind $75M and if you go after us retroactively, Supreme Court will agree with us and you will try to get your money from the Feds good luck, thank you very much and our business in the US is pretty much done anyway"?

- "we already setup government run $20B slush fund to pay your reasonable losses/damages" and so judges might be more likely to say - go to the fund and come back only if you were seriously mistreated.

Doesn't gov't have reasons to limit BP payouts, too - aren't they a BP expense after all? do they want $100B in tax deductions?

Obviously if anything goes to trial by jury of fishermen in Louisiana, then why bother, just turn off the lights.

Reading a lot of the Posts about Pressure - I see nothing wrong with this number , its within a reasonable range. If you work out the weight of Oil/Gas in Column then subtract this from Formation Pressure, that will give you a ballpark figure as what to expect.

I have seen weight of Oil given as about 7.7ppg - well if you reduce this to 7.53ppg which would be possible with the amount of Gas its said to contain .
7.53 Oil would give a calculated pressure at the BOP of 6,700 psi.

Have just added a couple of Pressure readouts on a small program I knocked up to save me always banging away on the calculator.. It is very handy to enter new parameters as they change - Give a good overview of when things are within a reasonable range.

If you want a copy - Grab it from here.


Thank you for so much expertise concentrated on one website; I've been lurking for awhile. We had some big changes today, and there is one nagging video that I saved from May 27 that involves Matt Simmons. I guess he's a persona non grata around here, but I want to clear this up in my own mind for my own financial website.

They say on the video, (May 27), that there is another 'hole' about a mile away. Has Simmons updated his opinion, has he been proven wrong, or what?

The other gentleman says that a 7 inch oulet would not be big enough to let the amount of oil that we see in the Gulf. Has this been challenged?

I live in South America, not much cable tv news available.

Thanks in advance.


The video is old, refers to events over a month ago, and a lot has happened since then. Thus far there's no evidence for another hole a mile away, that I know of.

A seven inch pipe can be used to flow 50,000 BOPD - but that's not what the well has. It has a 7 inch cross-over to 9 5/8 inch. And 9 5/8 inch is very confy for 50,000 BOPD.

I thought Matt stated the "other leak" was 5-6 miles away, I wouldn't even think that would be the same resovoir? Pls correct me if I am wrong as you know I'm just a beach bum not really qualified to interpret that info, except to say Matt should have covered his short position ealier IMO.

The 5-6 miles leak was probably the least crazy thing he said - it is (barely) in the realm of possibility though I'm not sure he knows that the sediment is just mud. Unfortunately, he has said a bunch of much wilder stuff. Sad for anyone to lose it like that.
Actually, I hope he didn't cover the short- that would make him a run of the mill pump/dumper. I seriously doubt that's what he's doing - he is sincere.

I have only watched a few videos of him, but have read his quotes for a few weeks, and most ppl that quote him (not on TOD) think he is some expert ex-CEO of a drilling company and not a Finance man. That being said, I usually buy and hold for long term positions but every now and then it's best to either cut my losses or take my gain as I did after buying Ford last yr for a little more than a buck. Guess I was brought up with the saying "Bulls make money, Bears make money but Pigs get slaughtered", and short positions, unless short against the box are risk I rarely take.

Simmons should have covered his shorts instead of waiting till things go up and puts his stories out. They seem to appear every time BP takes a rise. It seems greed overtook common sense and he should have realised the bottom was over.


OK, so you got any good snorkeling reefs down there where you guys are?

Anyway, turning back to the oil patch, I don't think you can push oil 5 miles via an underground blowout - even if it's going via a fracture zone - in this kind of basin. I can suggest this as a PhD thesis for a geomechanics candidate, but I really hate to have proposals I think are going to make it harder for the guy or gal to get a job later.

Not that I know of, but I stay pretty close to shore FD and that is gorgeous to watch the fish, ray's etc swim beneath you and dolphins just inside the sandbar of the turquoise water.

Thanks for the answer about the 5 mile "zone", and on another topic IF I ever saw the 500ft shark you mentioned upthread, well that would damn sure keep me out of the Gulf for sure!

IF I ever saw the 500ft shark you mentioned upthread, well that would damn sure keep me out of the Gulf for sure!

Either that or give up on the Raicilla ;) Oh, have you tried the bananas?


Not yet NOAM, we just had a day of calm water yesterday and I was stuck at the office late, but if it's nice this weekend I'm going to try one!

Matt Simmons was just on Dylan Ratigan again today (beginning of the show) restating his opinion that there is a leak on the gulf floor miles from the Deep Horizon site.

There is also this wacky(?) article mentioning same, and saying an EMP nuke is a solution BP is looking into. I can't find any confirmation of the claim that the Thomas Jefferson has found evidence of the sea floor leak.

Why BP is Readying a 'Super Weapon' to Avert Escalating Gulf Nightmare

Reports still indicate that methane is flooding the Gulf waters at a rate one million times more than normal, and the NOAA research vessel, Thomas Jefferson has reported spotting new fissures.

Last week the science ship stunned some reporters with the revelation that the oceanographic team had discovered and measured a rift in the ocean floor miles from the BP wellhead. The rift was reported to be more than 100 feet long and widening. Oil and methane continues to plume from that rift. BP has also admitted damage beneath the sea floor.

This poor chap, Matt Simmons' family really needs to visit his physician discuss the possibility of having his medication adjusted; it really is just sad to see Alzeimer's take hold of a fine mind.

interesting story -- I met mr. simmons - he was on the board of a company that I worked for and I had a chance to meet with him in preparation for a meeting -- this was right before the "Twilight in the Desert" peak theory book was published... he was very knowledgeable and made a couple of predictions about oil price -- that in the short-term proved to be right. One thing I know is that he truly believes what his "data" tells him -- I don't believe the story about him shorting BP stock resulted in his theory - I believe his theory resulted in his shorting BP stock. Having said that - he has always been on the edge - so I discount it by several months/years -- so the RW - if it works - will end his current theory -- jmho

I do agree with you about the "shorting stock as a result of his theory" as you stated, and to be honest being short 8,000 shares isn't a huge position for an investor like Simmons (small potatos) versus your mom and pop retail a/c type investors.

Hold on a minute. Like I noted above, there's an FMC subsea tree that Viking Poseidon was surveying. Big methane blizzard. Maybe Simmons knows more than we do. Undoubtedly he has confidential backchannel sources.

Easy to say he's demented.

Yes, it is.

I can only say that my interest lies first in Finance and that's why I like the commentary on this website. I have put options on St Joe Company, a Gulf Coast land company, .......so far , so good. I played MOPN for awhile. Missed Nalco.

Despite the disappointment of the sub 7,000psi pressure achieved, there is a strong positive aspect to the result, is there not?

BP have now demonstrated the ability to stop flow. And that makes the job of bottom kill a great deal easier.

If flow can be stopped for a period of over 12 hours like this, then the mud does not have to try compete with a fast oil flow. Establishing a mud column is then akin to bleeding air from your auto brake line. Pump mud and open a top valve slightly to allow rising mud to eject an equal volume of oil at the top. If my understanding is correct?

Depends on what they do from now on. They do need to find out why the pressure is down. If they depleted the reservoir, then it's fairly small. If it's crossflowing, then they'll have some issues to deal with with variable frac gradients, and if it's blowing out underground, then they have a bigger issue.

I'm not a geophysicist, why would an underground blow out into a very thin sand be measurable with seismic if it's oil?

Its a good question. I think it it fills a thin permeable sand, it'll be a challenge to see. But there is probably not too much sand in the shallow section.
I would guess that the oil and gas would enter the mud - small bubbles. Any such thing would reduce the mud compressibility a lot and would be visible. Casing leaks have been seen on seismic and it is a very clear signal - no need for elaborate time-lapse analysis.

So they got to get the oil from 18,000 ft to the shallow section, say at 3000 feet?

If the oil gets to that shallow section, and indeed it's at 3000 ft, where sediments are mud, then it keeps going. That muck gets cut through by the oil like a ginzu knife cutting mozarella, work out the numbers.

Its all about the csg.....they are trying to figure out if the oil is leaking outside the csg. If the csg is OK, they can stop the flow and just overwhelm it with mud from below with one relief well, but if leaking, they actually may need both relief wells, and have to wait until both are ready to go. 6,000 psi is inconclusive.

Rockman? Did I explain that correctly?

Hello, Rockman (re your previous-thread-6731 post at 2:13 pm): The oil spill commission appointed by the President does not yet have subpoena power, unfortunately. The House voted to provide it, but there's a delay in the Senate: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/whodunit-anonymous-republican... . You always give us such excellent information I thought you'd like to know. :) The joint investigative panel (USCG & MMS) that took testimony from witnesses in May, however, does have that power. Thank you so much for making us all a little smarter every time we tune in.

I think the Republican Senators have now decided to give the Commission subpoena power. They were being hammered for blocking the power for the Commission to compel testimony.

Yes, what thehill's article says is this: "Senate Republicans do not plan to block future attempts to give subpoena power to a commission President Barack Obama has appointed...." The commission is currently trying to work without it, though, which I would think is a wasted effort.

Also, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to create a third commission (by amending a larger oil spill bill), just to clarify matters further. ;) #3 would have subpoena power, but members wouldn't be appointed until mid-September. I don't know when that larger bill moves on for a vote. You can read more here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/39230.html .

Warmest June on record, climate scientists say


The streak continues.

The NOAA posting -

NOAA: June, April to June, and Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record


What nonsense. Didn't the Winter's blizzards already kill global warming ?


Examiner Bio Video: Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh claim recent blizzards mean global warming is dead

I remember Limbaughs comment when the well first blew out "ocean water and oil are natural". So is Hemlock, why not have a cup (or two), this worked for Socrates (but then again he was actually worth something...).

Hmmm~I thought oil does seep naturally, I remember as a child going to the beach and having to use kerosene IIRC to get tar off? I know the flow of a natural seep is obviously extremely slower, but natural nonetheless......

Yeah ... Come to think of it I remember going to the beach after an oil spill years ago!

There was a comment a while back that the natural seeps for a year were ten percent of the present spill to that time (which seems a month ago).

That's typical of those who are science illiterate, thinking because there were blizzards that automatically translated into colder. Some areas were colder and some areas warmer than normal in parts of the U.S. As a matter of fact, areas that got more snow were at or near normal but because of El Nino, more moisture was carried up from the southwest colliding with cold air which caused major snow.

Temperatures in Bangor, Maine, by the way were higher than normal. During the Olympics in Vancouver, BC, they had to truck in snow for many of the events because of the warmer than normal winter.

Do some research and you too can learn to sift the facts from hype. But, there are plenty of people who think if they have one cold winter that cancels out 150 years of records showing indisputably, a warming trend and getting warmer.

More significant are the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and in particular, those near shore which are running between 88 and 90 degrees F. Tropical meteorologists are telling us that the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than last year, similar to the conditions in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

This link gives you a good idea of the activity in the Caribbean where there are a couple of tropical waves forming. In the legend at the top of the satellite image you can check the box that says SST, sea surface temperatures. http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-avn.html

Remind us of what they were saying last winter when some of the greatest freeze overs ever recorded were upon us; other than AWG causes colder weather? BwaaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHa!

One of the first things about warming and climate change predicted was "extreme variability". When the climate change deniers invoke "gee, sure is cold ain't it". Well "it sure is hot right now". Their "point" means nothing.

For "deniers" etc. The very well known biologist E.O. Wilson offered this advice to Theologians when they rave on about Evolution...

"Theologians should avoid any such discussions because they don't know enough to render any such opinions"
Paraphrased slightly, but the meaning is clear.

Wilson should be required reading for everyone, especially those who wish to pontificate about science.

IMO, Beck and Limbaugh and the entire crowd of "deniers" are either ignorant of or are deliberately confusing the difference between climate and weather.

Beck and limbaugh are not ignorant, oldberkeley, they are the smart ones, along with Sarah Palin. They are cashing in like oil barrons drilling and tapping a rich overthrust belt of ignorance and stupidity. Snake oil salesmen could only dream of the riches they haul in.

True enough. Rush - one of the great kings of conspiracy theories. What a tool...

Another question, In the camera view these past days, I've heard that the white hose that goes into the pipe carries a 'dispersant', but they don't say what the name of that dispersant might be. I guess they could be using many different types and brands, but is this Corexit?

Yes sir. It's Corexit, known to be quite effective, it disperses the oil and breaks it up into itty bitty globules.

Yes, they are still using Corexit. They apparently prefer the dilution solution to pollution as opposed to getting enough skimmers out there, setting their boom properly and cleaning up their mess. Nasty business. There is more information at http://www.SaveFlipper.com

I'm trying to be open minded about the use of dispersants-there are several possible explainations that might hold water.

One is that the feds have a team of environmental experts who agree that using the dispersants is the best policy from the environmental pov, and thier reccomendations are being followed..

I am pretty cynical in respect to politics and politicians in general but I have some hope that this is actually the case.

Another is that the powers that be( meaning upper level OBama administration) have overridden the environmental experts if they are indeed opposed to using dispersants, having calculated that the political and economic costs of oil saturated shorelines greatly exceed the unknown and perhaps unknowable costs of using the dispersants.

I must admit that this possibility causes my bs meter to approach the yellow zone that just precedes the red zone;but I can see that such a decision might be deemed at the highest levels the only one possible from a practical point of view.Any presidential administration might very well come to the same conclusion.

Another is that the feds have sold out to BP and are going along to save the company to the extent possible by keeping the oil at sea where the damages can never be litigated by local courts as might happen if it hits the beaches undiluted.I could come up with some plausible rationalizations for such a course of action but it would take hours to type them up with two fingers.

Another is that the early use of dispersants was undertaken without much thought,and the people in charge know now that they made a big mistake but do not want to admit making it and are covering up now by continueing to follow the same script.

Does anybody with actual experience in these matters think that all or most of the oil could actually be captured in the volumes being released by skimming ?

It seems to me from reading about skimmer technology and boom technology that such efforts could not succeed except under the very most favorable weather circumstances-and that the odds of such continious favorable weather are exceedingly slim,especially at this time of the year..

Even the relatively small amounts of oil-compared to the amounts that would arrive if dispersants are discontinued- that are getting to the shoreline seem to be more than the booms can keep in check;maybe there aren't enough booms and skilled boom layers and tenders in the world to get the job done.Maybe it is impossible to run enough skimmer craft close enough together due to the risk of collisions to skim the oil at the well site before it disperses of its own accord.

Of course all these questions may as of now be of academic interest only as the runaway well appears for the moment to be under control.

Another is that the powers that be( meaning upper level OBama administration) have overridden the environmental experts if they are indeed opposed to using dispersants, having calculated that the political and economic costs of oil saturated shorelines greatly exceed the unknown and perhaps unknowable costs of using the dispersants.---unquote

I have bad news for you. The "upper level" Obama Administration are bottom rung gofers to the real "powers that be".

Why does the BOA #2 look like pieces of shit hitting a fan ?

They are parking it on the bottom in different places, presumably for some kind of monitoring. When they power on the thrusters to move to a new spot it stirs up huge clouds of muck. It will clear out in a few minutes. I have seen them do it several times now.

Remember all that drilling mud that blow out the leaks in the riser when they tried top kill? Guess where it ended up!

Yup - looks like I just saw a golf ball kick up -- of course that could have been one of Mickelson's wayward drives...

"Yup - looks like I just saw a golf ball kick up -- of course that could have been one of Mickelson's wayward drives..."

LOL... Phil's drive might have been a bit offline, but it was long. If it were one of Tiger's balls... it wouldn't have suprised me.

O.K. But why does the sonar show one big long line, as if it is a casing whistling as the oil rushes out ? ( Just color me skeptical. )

Although I was roundly criticized for one of my early suggestions that the pipe should have been cut flush with the sea floor and a 20-ton block of concrete dropped over the open spigot, it seems the latest cap is doing exactly that. Yes, the current procedure is far more complex than my suggestion but mine was meant only a temporary fix until the relief wells could be drilled and conventional methods of shutting down the well are completed.

Arguments against that plan also made sense and still do. Namely, controling the pressure and monitoring it in case the pressure dropped precipitously, thereby indicating that the entire pipe might rupture from the pressure.

But, one thing that has been accomplished immediately and that is the gusher has stopped. Unless the above worst case scenario develops, I believe my simplistic suggestion may have worked, at least long enough until the relief wells connect up.

What is more dismaying to me, however, are reports that there is no blow out protector safety shut-off procedure. This stunning revelation says to me that the expense of installing the emergency shut-off valve overrode the possible disastrous results if the relief well blew the moment it begins siphoning off the oil and the tremendous pressure that will occur once contact is made.

Just thoughts from another lay individual who has been following this catastrophe for the last 88 days.

Yair...an' you could watch it for another 88 days an' still have no freakin' idea of what is going on

So, are you some kind of freakin' expert?

Yair...no, but I know enough to be dangerouse...an' I have sucked a mudpump or two onto the back of a B65.

??????????DuDeDuDo...DuDeDuDo... They are among us!!!

I'm going to take a quick shower, watch the news, and estimate the weight a concrete block has to have to plug a well cased with 9 5/8 inch casing.

Hint: 5 tons per square inch of well opening.

At 6700 psi, you are looking at 200 tons or so. Don't know the 9 5/8 id exactly but a lot.


A 20 ton block of concrete would fly off the well at about 24 mph. However, a 300 ton concrete block should just about do it.

But when I started figuring this out, I told myself, why use concrete? We could use a 600 ton steel cylinder, about 4 ft in diameter (might as well be a little on the high side), walls would have to be about three inches thick, with a huge piece of very stiff rubber stuck inside. Then we could blow off the wellhead, and drop the cylinder on the stub that's left sicking out. Just in case, we can put the cylinder down with a drilling rig, using a special connector and then a string of drill collars and drill pipe to surface, to put more weight down just in case that cylinder decides to fly off.

To make sure the stuff doesn't leak out, the cylinder gets pushed down over the pipe stub. And if the oil leaks that's no big deal, the well had been blowing out for a long time anyway. And even if it's not a perfect seal, that cylinder ought to stop someo of the oil from coming out.

Now, I guess by now you realize I'm joshing a bit here. But I think it's important to do a bit of numberin' to see if the ideas people throw out make sense or not. One of these days, somebody is going to come up with something that works.

If the pressure is a little higher than expected or there is a surge that would make one he77 of a mortar round. Are you working on the pressure up the top or down below? If you aim for a middling pressure that may end up self balancing like the indicator in a flow tube. Drops and increasing pressure pushes it back up, if it rises the supporting pressure will drop and it will sink.


The ID of the wellhead and BOP is 18.75" = 276 square inches. The internal pressure is currently said to be 6,700 psi but could easily be over 9,000 psi and any weight to contain the well would have to be designed for at least 12,000 psi. That would be a concrete weight of about 1,650 tons but then concrete underwater weighs about 57% of concrete in air so the actual size of a concrete block large enough to stop the flow would be 2,875 tons, about 38,000 cubic ft of concrete, over 200 mixer truck loads. And it has to rest and seal directly to the top of the BOP or wellhead.

So how do you form it, how do you lower it, how do you keep it from destroying the BOP, wellhead and upper casing.

A 20 ton weight would shoot out like the cork in a champagne bottle.

A little common sense and high school math can go a long ways to prove or disprove a theory.

SHELBURN, you must have a PhD, dang it.

Being more of an oil field hacker, I decided it was more practical to blow the well up with 20 lbs of RDX wrapped around the outer casing. This leaves me a hole with the stub of 9 5/8 inch casing looking up, the other casing strings are just there to help provide a seal with the stiff rubber inside my giant steel cylinder. And if anybody wants to object the cut is going to be jagged, I'll hire that Russian sub, and they can come down with a grinder and make sure all those casing strings are ground nice and level, and smoother than a mirror. I like the Russian sub because it has windshield wipers, and they're going to need it to keep the oil off their windows to see what the heck they're grinding.

Because the hydrocarbon column is 13,000 ft tall, we can design this cylinder to contain 9000 psi. Evidently if we use the 20 ton concrete block it'll blow out of there like a BB, but I think my 600 ton steel cylinder takes care of the problem. And this cylinder goes on the outside, so it's sort of like a boa eating a broomstick.

When we consider how to manufacture a huge cylinder with 3 inch walls, we have to think South Korea, so this will take some time.

On the other hand, we COULD just steal one of those large 30 inchers from a battleship, and wrap it in steel to make sure it has the right weight, then drop it on top of the wellhead, which will be suitably blown off ahead of time. Think about it, we could even put a shell inside the cannon, and have a plan B, we can shoot the cannon off, it'll drive the shell down into the well like a cork, and the cannon will fly out of the water and land on Bobby Jindal's mansion.

So how do you form it,

Lumber from Mordor?

Another speck of hope today, the water was gorgeous and a friend of mine was surfing/paddleboarding and saw schools of bait fish and pods of dolphins again. It's been awhile since the water has been so extremely rough that anyone has been able to go out far enough off the shoreline.

Hi everyone. This is my fp, though I've been reading this site since blowout.
First, i have to say thanks to all experts and good people here for your great work and tons of info and your patience for non oil personas :)

I have a question.
Sea floor is basically mud, right (for at least 60')?
IF there is a leek bellow wellhead, how gas and oil will behave released to mud? Are they going to form hydrates? Or they are just slowly saturating mud, making it less dense?
IF there is a leek i think we are not going to see plumes like from bop, or i'm wrong? thx :)

p.s. pls excuse my bad english :)

Enterprise 2 has gas venting

Yep , something's bubbling .

Better take some Pepto Bismol


I have been reading your blog for some weeks now and really appreciate the information and insightful discussions here. I have family on the Gulf Coast and am not so far away from it as I would like to be. The media coverage has been lame and the situation is scary. And now, when I go to the live feeds it looks like most of them are just blanked out and no one was talking about just what pressures they were seeing on the well. I have my gas mask ready and my gas tank full.

Thanks much!

Its all about the csg.......6700 is inconclusive. They are trying to get a RW strategy.

It depends. 88 days of running wide open may have taken a toll on reservoir pressure. A lot of the gas has leaked out. In the absence of noise from turbulent flow or some other indication of a casing leak a lower shut in pressure could just mean the formation pressures are lower now and also easier to contain.

Remember those graphs HO posted back in the early days of the flow and pressure of a wide open well over time? How it would rise rapidly for a short time and then decay just as rapidly? We may be on the down slop of that graph after the abuse this reservoir has endured.

Their instrumentation will give them that indication. All we can do is endlessly speculate based on the little bit of information that trickles down to us.

We just watch the show and wait at this point. Other than an occasional ROV stirring up a cloud of mud it looks very good down there. We can hope that what they are seeing is good too!

Just a pressure reading won't give much insight. What they are doing is recording pressure vs. time - when laid onto a graph that will make a line of a specific shape. Different shapes roughly correspond to different conditions inside the well. Yes it's a bit like reading tea leaves, but the people who have done this sort of thing for decades know what they are looking at. Put on your thinking cap and read read read over at http://www.jwco.com/technical-litterature/tech.htm - even the boring legalese stuff in the first sections are useful, it shows a little bit about their attention to detail and belief in planning for the worst possible scenario. Plus, the boring parts make the interesting parts seem even more interesting.

Some of the gauges on the big yellow block attached to the new capping stack were showing ~6500-7000 psi pressure, or at least the needle was in the right position of the 10 ksi scale to be giving this reading.


This view has been unavailable for a couple of hours now.

It's been about seven hours since the flow was shut off. Word spread quickly and there was much celebration from Baton Rouge to Bay St. Joe.

I sure would hate to be the man that made the decision to open the spigot, again.

LOL~great point, and I know s/he would definitely be popular here on P-Cola Beach no matter what the reason...they are running scared and crazy because they most don't decipher fact from fiction nor care to learn anything about how to stop the WW or RW's/

Who would want to stop an RW?

Nobody I know around here even knows what a relief well is, that's was what I was trying to state......they are all bat chit crazy at this point, that was the point I "tried" to state even if I didn't do the best job. They are just consumed with the disaster side and not evem trying to learn about WW's and RW's.

Lets try to be positive, since they pulled the trigger on the test, anyway.

First, there is probably a calculation that can be made, starting with known conditions and size of this reservoir and allowing for the kind of oil and gas escape that has occured, to assess the possible range of partially depleated pressures. Is 6.7 ksi in the range of possibilites?

Second, if there is a leak down below, how much do we care if it isn't coming up or coming up so slowly as to be not signficant.

Third, it is nice not to have that nasty oil gushing into our water. I watched the mudline at BOP on a big flat screen in silence. It is beautiful without the oil, there was something live swiming by...

It would be good, if there was a logical reason to keep the well shut...

Perhaps HO could re-post those graphs again for our enlightenment, but yes from what I remember that is well within the range of possibilities.

If there are no leaks it should be eerily silent right now. If not, their instruments will detect the noise and vibration of a leak. It is a good sign that there is not much going on.

Dimity, If they had 9.000 of pressure, they would have known that they could shut in the well during the kill, and use one RW.

Now its unclear if there is a leak through the csg so the question is will they need one relief well for the kill or two?

Dima, I don't know if BP knows the container size. I sure don't. By now BP should have the oil properties nailed down (they've been producing the well for a while, so they got lots of samples). They got the well logs, the seismic, and so on. But there's always unknowns. I don't know for sure, but I think, suspect, surmise this may be undersaturated oil. If this is the case, then the pressure drops fairly fast when the well is produced. But we got another problem, we don't know the rate for sure.

They could guestimate the container size, use the known initial and current pressure, let it build to see if it indeed is static or not, and then use the container size and the other data to figure out how much oil came out of the well. This of course is a pretty good thing to have, because Obama needs it to know how hard to squeeze on Hayward's neck.

If the system is dynamic (meaning something is flowing down there), and the "leak" is from the lower sand to the upper sand, then this is fine, because it's taking place below the seal. If the stuff is leaking up into a shallower zone, that's not good, because it can get worse, and it sure complicates drilling in the area in the future.

Haven't read everything so maybe someone has said this already.

Now they have closed off the well flow and found the pressure is a bit under 7000 psi at the wellhead why do they not pump some drilling mud down one of the lines (like the choke line) firstly at a very low rate so that the pressure goes up only a fraction, then, due to the weight of the mud as more gets into the well, the pressure at the wellhead will reduce. They can then increase the mud flow rate (assuming a positive displacement pump) until the pressure is back to around the 2000 psi of the seawater around the wellhead. (By that time no pumping is necessary. The weight of mud above the seabed is sufficient to provide the flow and a timely change over to allowing seawater to enter the line at the surface will restabilise to a no-flow condition.)

Given the concern about the structure right below the wellhead letting go, by removing the pressure differential, this helps prevent that happening until such time as the bottom kill can be performed.

I imagine this will make the bottom kill easier as both passages will be filled with the same fluid as the break through occurs.

This can also be looked open as a reinitiation of the top kill with the new dome being a better junk shot.

I just discovered you and am very impressed with the depth of technical expertise displayed by many, as well as the relative paucity of off-the-wall comments. Thanks much.

Earlier today "hasbeen" posted this:

"Haven't seen this reported here yet; please excuse me if it has.
Platts Oilgram News reports that the two co-chairmen of Obama's commission to investigate the blowout don't think much of the drilling moratorium.
"It's not clear to me why it should take so long to reassure ourselves on those 33 rigs," said William K. Reilly (former EPA head). Continuing, "I am less understanding of why it will take so long to insure that the existing rigs are safe."
His co-chairman agreed, questioning the logic of a moratorium on all drilling because of the April 20 explosion. "Why can't they do a rig by rig inspection?" (to end the moratorium more quickly) former FL Senator Bob Graham asked.""

Just in case there has been no other comment on this item I wanted to point out that an even bigger lesson from this incident than the concern about the safety of equipment and procedures in deep water drilling is the very troubling evidence of a profound lack of any contingency plan on the part of anyone involved in this disaster for handling an accident.

Anyone who is in a position of responsibility in any organization is not doing their job if they're not acutely conscious that they have to be prepared for mishaps when, not if, they happen, because they will happen.

Right on. I think the Emergency Response Plan should be thought out, discussed, and reviewed with everybody who's supposed to get involved. And it should be written by the same people who write the procedures, so they can figure out how they're going to get themselves out of the mess they make.

By the way, if you guys are operating, go check your plans, because I've found gaps in the middle, the field managers and oims may have theirs, and the drillers have theirs, and they don't connect when the job involves activity in an existing field supported by an existing field organization.

So, what would be the top pressure with column of oil partially filling hole? A: anywhere between 0-60% oil column subtracted from bottom formation pressure. How long before gas bubbles stablized and stop causing pressure variation at top,, if well is truly going quiescent? A: I dunno.


MSNBC July 15: Matt Simmons still says BP covering up MASSIVE HOLE miles away, cap test is "absurd"

He suggests that this one leak under the BOP could not fill the entire GOM.

Guess we will find out after they shut down this one....

That would be IMO a stretch of the mind even on hallucinogens because IIRC the GOM has ~640,000,000,000,000,000 (quadrillion) gallons of seawater

Not to mention his 'oil lake' is many, many times larger than the entire reservoir let alone the recoverable minus gas.


I'm no BP apologist (or FedGuv supporter either) so I'm sure that a lot of the data we're getting outta Chu and BP has been filtered. That said, I still think Simmons lives on a world where his sky isn't the same color as ours. His dismissive attitude when dropping "facts" suggests he believes and lives within this synthesized reality.

As as scientist, I *do* think it's important to listen to he nutjobs every so often. It forces us to re-examine our beliefs and again test those assumptions that our conclusions rest upon. Discoveries are made, things change.

But Simmons... wow. More for Art Bell, not MSNBC.


A perfect example of a nut job the oil industry should have listened to sooner.

Alfred Wegener

If his earlier recommendations included making sure that the BOP ram hydraulics were leak free and that the damn batteries were charged, then I fully agree with you Mr. Wegener.


BTW, a great book on Wegener and the rejection of his theory by the American geological establishment at the time, because he "had no mechanism".

The Rejection of Continental Drift:
Theory and Method in American Earth Science
Naomi Oreskes

Well Dan, if you're a classical physicist, I've been doodling a theory of quantum gravity for a while, but I can't get anybody to watch my drawings, and it's got me going nuts because I had to conclude time doesn't exist. I got the idea watching whales jump out of the water.

"I got the idea watching whales jump out of the water."
That's where I get my great ideas too.
Tried to post a picture, but cannot seem to do it, better go watch some more whales, maybe I will figure it out!

Lord love a duck. There is no massive hole. That's absolutely absurd, and I'll stake my own reputation on that.

Putting all other considerations aside, it is an extraordinary technical achievement by all the engineers and technicians involved to have seemingly re-gained a measure of control over the well given where they are working. Bravo people.

I doubt that history will judge these engineers so kindly.

History will curse the catastrophic failures to promote general
science literacy, and the resulting lack of rational birth control.

Ignorance is Hell for us, the near future, and the distant future.

General science literacy, of course, but the root of the problem is the inability to think logically. After almost 40 years of teaching it became abundantly clear to me that more and more people literally did not know how to think logically. They didn't see it at home or in their neighborhoods, it wasn't taught to them as a skill, as a matter of fact all they saw was the opposite.

So what we have now is a country increasingly dominated by anti-intellectualism; suspicious about science and the scientific method and real knowledge in general (the names of the American Idol finalists don't count); actively hostile towards those who try and use reason instead of gossip and conspiracy.

Very sad.

I think a lot of the problem is people who come up with scientific theories and believe so strongly in them they want laws passed to get funding and power to implement the change they want.

Then 20 years down the road we find out it was junk science.

I couldn't disagree more. I don't mean to nitpick your terminology but people do not just "come up with" scientific theories. You're misusing the word "theory" in this case.

That said, I understand where you're coming from but I don't think it's "a lot" of the problem. As a matter of fact, can you give me a specific example?

You are right, I was wrong in using the term scientific theory.

My grandfather was taught in school that there was a 20 year supply of oil.

My father was taught there was a 20 year supply of oil.

I was taught there was a 20 year supply of oil.

I imagine kids are being taught the same thing now.

I was taught in high school that plate tectonics was a joke.

I learned different in college when i went back 10 years later.

I remember sitting in a lab with 5 thermometers all brand new out of the box and all reading a little different and always having that in the back of my mind when hearing about global warming.

I watched our airport expand around our weather station and wondered how many other weather stations around the world experienced the same thing. I know what a difference concrete and blacktop can do to the temp.

I questioned people about this and they assured me that was all taken into account when it came to the global warming.

Then I found out that was some of the stuff that was cheated on.

Pure science I have no problem with.

Using junk science for social engineering I have a problem with.

I think Secretary Chu is a perfect example of a scientist with a social agenda I feel is all wrong.

"I think Secretary Chu is a perfect example of a scientist with a social agenda I feel is all wrong."

What is it?

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.

I agree with the nuclear power. I think the rest is junk.

Well, a lot of scientists and non-scients believe it makes a lot of sense to begin to develop more alternative energy sources. I don't see how that would put him on the fringe or anything. We have to import too much even if you assume an infinite supply.

You and your whole family (at least judging from your memory) did not listen well in school. Now I know most American schools really do try to educate, so I can assume your family had an aversion to education.

You seem to make conjectures based on scant evidence and much ideological commitment.

The sad thing about America today, is that factual evidence seem to be entirely replaced in public debates with nothing more than TV heads and radio voices of folks with absolutely no command of fact and no integrity whatsoever.

I am afraid to say, it seems to be a sign of terminal decline. This must be what Rome was like toward the end. Demagogues and idiots "debating" the future of the empire.

This must be what Rome was like toward the end. Demagogues and idiots "debating" the future of the empire.

Funny i wonder the same thing more often than i like.

I spoke the truth.

My grandfather taught school right out of high school. He joined the army in WW1 and won the second highest medal. He came home, bought a farm that he ended up dying on but in the mean time he became a lawyer, sorted mail on a mail train for 25 years and retired from the post office, went back in the army as a captain in WW2 and at 84 got his real estate license and started building homes.

After my father got his doctorate degree we moved around the country a lot from army labs to nuke labs until he had enough of research and settled down to teach.

We all talked about the oil and energy situation and were in agreement.

I have no reason to lie.

Now we might have been wrong but we were not uneducated.

Yeah....but did you or your family ever earn degrees from HuffnPuff or DKos U?

LOL LOL Dimitry

You complain about factual evidence being replaced in debates so what do you do?

You debate by insult with no facts.

Read your post and then look in the mirror.

Oh, you mean kinda like Al Gore?

All of this basically proving the case against BP of negligent homicide IMO.......if I was the prosecuting attorney I would loop all of the robot feeds for the jury and start talking about all the contradictions and problems with the rig. Dead battery on the BOP? No problem. No good pressure test, lets try another, get a better result. Rubber from the BOP coming up on the drill deck? No worries. Kicking gas. So what?

All of these problems, so much risk on a dangerous rig, and with all of these tools available-- what did the company man do? He pulled the mud and took his chances....he walked away and 11 men died.

Not to mention that coman invoked the fifth. And therein lies the problem for BP and coman.

I know, syncro, and all lawyers here, that is not an admission of guilt, only good legal advice!

Edit: spellcheck ;)

IANAL (although I managed flocks of 'em and spent decades up to my eyeballs in Federal, state and local regulatory proceedings and the occasional civil case), and I know that predicting legal outcomes is a fool's errand. That said, if the government decides to bring a criminal case against BP et al., it's gonna be an exquisitely painful experience for the defendants. The information already in the public domain is just overwhelming.

There are any number of crimes that might be proven on the basis of gross negligence on the part of the operator and/or its agents, and syncro's list is just the beginning of what the prosecution will have after discovery.

As for the coman who took the 5th, and the other hands who have been avoiding giving testimony, you can be certain that the US Attorney will be drawing for those guys a very explicit picture of the advantages of becoming cooperating witnesses.

Maybe. I'm still pissed at them for, for no good reason, f***ing it up, killing 11, shutting down e&p and oiling the GOM, including the birds that migrated all that way from the Alberta oil sands tailing ponds. But that's just me.

This ain't being caused by thrusters ..... This venting of the sea floor.
BOA Deep #2

No its not. Get a grip.

Simmons is a jerk and TodFan is clueless. I've been lurking around TOD for several years but have never had the time or inclination to respond to some of the comments. H/T to Rockman. Without his commentary (and there were several more, forgive my lack of memory) these threads would have been useless and more than confusing to the uneducated when it comes to understanding what is really happening on the WW and the RW. The next story of this sad saga will be what is being called the 'kill liner'. The DDIII will, hopefully, be running the liner sometime this weekend.

Remember Challenger?
MSM won't get this right, so we as a culture will not learn from it... but hats off to the engineers and rov operators and everyone else that made this happen.

Some have trouble believing BP stopped oil leak

"It's a (expletive) lie," shouted Stephon LaFrance, one of several oil-stained oystermen standing around Delta Marina in marshy Plaquemines Parish. "I don't believe they stopped that leak. BP's trying to make their self look good."

Sitting on a boat, his cousin, Louie Randy Barthelemy, looked up and said: "BP's trying to manipulate the media."


Snoop around the conspirablogs and you'll find more of the same except that BP's strategy for 1) faking the flow stoppage and 2) stopping the flow is more elaborate and has darker motives. I knew a decent and generous man in Kentucky, a farmer, old school all the way. He and plenty of other farmers planted by moon phase. He simultaneously believed that 1) the moon landing had been a fake and 2) the moon landing had messed up the moon and was causing problems with growing food on earth.

Been lurking for several months..finally decided to join up, and donate. A RockDoc from Australia.

Wonderfuly information-rich site, with a number of technically competent posters. Been in the business since '79 and didn't realize there was this much I did not know about my industry. Great job all!

A question for any of the Gulf Coast denizens here...where is this veritable army of clean-up workers being housed and fed? I realize that the tourists are scarce, but it would seem that BP could help the situation by housing the workers in the local motels and providing a per diem so they could eat in the local restaurants. They all have to eat and sleep somewhere, might as well help out the local economies.


They now use locals. Cheaper, better press and better workers. They fed them on-site first but now they eat in the restaurants and the fast food. Few others do. There is hardly anyone else here but of course Hooter's was packed. I have photos and a video of Hooters. The very beautiful Lauren sticks her tongue out at the camera. Check it out and ask anything. I am stuck here at the ground zero of Alabama.
http://gcn01.com . If you join my site, you can ask directly there and leave more room here for the oiled technoheads.

Lauren's video direct link: http://s892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/tinfoilhatguy/GS-OB%20July%2020...

"...options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed."

Assuming that the tests indicate that the well is not leaking somewhere below the mudline, what is more likely to weaken the well: leaving it shut in or possibly opening and shutting it in several times in the event of bad weather?

Am I wrong for being concerned that repeated shut-ins might "fatigue" the structure?

I believe you are wrong for the reasons noted in this previous thread:

Let's try and remember inside all this hyperbole that the payzone is about 18,000 feet below the surface (13,000 below the seafloor). I think you need to REALLY study this picture, which is linked from that article and which I've had on my computer to review ever since.

It has everything, including the temperatures that so many were curious about.

Certainly there is a potential issue with production outside the casing, if the cement NEVER worked ANYWHERE. The lower shoe is about 57' of cement, that's a lot to overcome, could happen, just not incredibly likely. Much higher up the cement clearly failed, there was less of it and they never ran the CBL that they should have (they excused the Schlumberger crew without them doing their job, pretty pathetic, possibly criminally stupid).

Thanks. I looked over the casing plan several times over the past few weeks and have read the DougR thread. Maybe I'm asking the question wrong. By "weaken the well" I'm not asking of it's going to fall over into the mud.

They are now testing the well because they are concerned about its integrity. If the test shows that it is OK, I'm assuming that still doesn't mean it's in first-class condition and they would not want to put any more stress on it than necessary.

So what I'm asking is: What would be best for the well's future integrity: 1)leaving it shut in until the bottom kill begins or 2) releasing the pressure by flowing it, but then shutting it in again and again when bad weather threatens?

If the integrity testing gives a positive result, then I'm suspicious of the plan to let it flow again given that there's the incentive of gaining about $5 million per day of oil by flowing the well.

I'm no engineer or geologist (and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), but I too can't help but wonder if repeated opening and closing of the well might not cause some weak point to fail.

I'll breath a sigh of relief when the RW is finished and they scratch their names in that big chunk 'o concrete they are going to pump in there.

I would not be surprised if the pressure starts to drop some.
As I recall, a BP drilling engineer at the inquiry in May said that before
the blowout in April they lost 5,000 barrels of mud in some short time.

Then in June, I read that they could not force enough mud down
the well with 20-30,000hp during the junk shot at the kinked riser.

Unless some cement was injected, and found its way to the right places,
it seems that the well integrity is suspect, and that trying to hold 8,000 psi
at the cap might further degrade transient integrity for mud support behind
a relief-well plug attempt; though a new relief well liner might avoid that need.
(fluids tend to eventually find a way to seep and erode)

I don't know much for sure, but it scares me that experts in
many fields too often don't seem to know enough for sure.

From BP:

The well integrity test on the MC252 well commenced today; full closure of the choke valve occurred at approximately 2:25pm.

-Currently the well remains shut-in with no oil flowing into the Gulf; any significant change to this operation will be announced via a press release.

-For the first 12 hours on July 15 (midnight to noon), approximately 5,875 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 3,430 barrels of oil and 22.5 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

-We anticipate the next update will be provided at around 9:30am CDT on July 16, 2010.
Updated July 15 at 6:00 pm CDT

[Emphasis mine]

Reading a lot of the Posts about Pressure - I see nothing wrong with this number , its within a reasonable range. If you work out the weight of Oil/Gas in Column then subtract this from Formation Pressure, that will give you a ballpark figure as what to expect.

I have seen weight of Oil given as about 7.7ppg - well if you reduce this to 7.53ppg which would be possible with the amount of Gas its said to contain .
7.53 Oil would give a calculated pressure at the BOP of 6,700 psi.

Have just added a couple of Pressure readouts on a small program I knocked up to save me always banging away on the calculator.. It is very handy to enter new parameters as they change - Give a good overview of when things are within a reasonable range.

If you want a copy - Grab it from here.

Sceenshot here:

Edit: Add screenshot link

Nice Job Sticks! :) I like the BP graphics upper right too. Well done.

Upstream I wrote about now pushing in some drilling mud through perhaps the choke line in order to reduce or eliminate the pressure differential at the (weak) wellhead (and reduce any tendency to leak out some other way into the sea bed). Maybe once mud is in it would tend to be replaced over time with oil/gas (the lighter fluid rising while some mud drops into the reservoir) and the pressure below the wellhead would again rise. This would be a controllable situation with say the choke valve cracked open and more mud introduced to keep the pressure low.

That would eliminate the pressure problem until the bottom kill (unless a hurricane causes the surface ships to move off-line - but even then some surface, or near surface, reservoir of mud could be left connected)

But would that work? Am I missing something?

Surely the goal now should be to eliminate the potential (burst) problem rather than indulge in 'research'. I have often opined in the past about the difference between research and development in 'R + D'. R is OK if you have the time and money and are prepared to take extra risk but the primary focus right now should be on the D. Neutralize the problem asap even though you might not obtain some nice info for THE report. Having academics involved makes keeping to the D much harder.

Boa Deep C 2, splattered with oil. They have a giant mess on their hands.

It's been a long day.

I'm confidant that what you're seeing are digital artifacts from the CCD, or more specifically, artifacts introduced due to low light digital algorithms used to augment the inherent lack of low light capacity/capability of the CCD's.

Snapped screencap of possible plume at 3:16 AM (and a couple of others earlier but quality wasn't as good). Can't say for certain if this is a plume or just some kind of lighting effect but it sure seemed to look an awful lot like a plume to me, and I didn't like the way it moved.


But who knows, maybe I was just seeing things. It's that time of night, after all.

Just muck kicked up by the ROV.

Yes, looks like silt thrown up by the ROV thrusters.

I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from watching those feeds, now, though. If O/G is ever going to find its way to the surface outside the casing, the current conditions seem ideal (assuming a lack of integrity, somewhere, of course).

Let's just hope that the wellbore and casing are patent and that they can balance the formation pressure and kill this puppy forever in the next few weeks. This has been a really painful mess, even from as far away as the Pacific coast. For our human and other friends in the Gulf it has been excruciating and we need to get out of reaction mode and do some real cleanup, fix-up and healing.

This image was taken by an ROV that was stationary at the time if I remember correctly.

But I guess if this explanation is correct, then we have nothing to worry about, and all is good! However, it would be nice to see someone credible address the issue directly (not that a post from a 2-week member of TOD isn't credible or that I don't believe this is the kind of thing you've seen before, but some confirmation of this story would be nice given the stakes and what they are supposedly measuring with the test), right now a news search for ROV and silt turns up 0 matches. If we have nothing to fear then surely it is worth someone's time at BP to spend 5 minutes debunking this theory once and for all. And you certainly can't blame them for encouraging conspiracy theories given their behavior in other areas throughout the crisis (and previously).

To the guy down below asking about why wouldn't the oil be rushing out and only coming out in sporadic plumes...I don't know perhaps because when you plug the top of the well it can spread out into many other different pathways and form pockets of oil that seep up to the surface. And those could be potentially spread far and wide across the ocean floor *which would explain why the plume now looks dispersed*...

Most of the responses to this theory seem to be snarky and arrogant and along the lines of "haven't you READ the EVIDENCE that it's BEEN debunked?!?!?!" Well no, frankly, I have not, and it seems that nobody outside of TOD has bothered debunking it. If this is truly what we are seeing then I would love to see some clarity shone on this issue so we can all go to sleep and stop worrying. If there were nothing to worry about then I might expect to hear something to that effect from BP, like "silt kicked up from a stationary ROV is completely normal." Consider what you might expect to hear from BP if there WERE something to worry about...like...I don't know...deafening silence?

"haven't you READ the EVIDENCE that it's BEEN debunked?!?!?!" Well no, frankly, I have not, and it seems that nobody outside of TOD has bothered debunking it. If this is truly what we are seeing then I would love to see some clarity shone on this issue

Contemplate that for awhile, WE. See the problem? If you really want clarity, this place is lousy with it. But if you refuse to look at it, well . . .

It's worth taking a look at the huge number of vessels in the Macondo area, google AIS.

Regarding the pressures observed at the BOP vs. reservoir pressure.
I've gone back through comments and it seems there is an assumption that the fluid column in the well is primarily oil. We have heard repeatedly that there is a LOT of gas coming out of this well. With the well "shut-in" the column will begin to separate with gas settling in the top of the casing. If the bottom hole pressure is ~11-12,000 psi and most of the column is gas, couldn't pressures at the BOP be expected to exceed 9,000 psi?? I don't see a note on reservoir pressure, but I'm sure someone else will know.
Secondly, with the upper portion of the well filled with gas, that SIP at the BOP will be seen by the upper part of casing, which is where failures may be seen.
Seems like the 7,000 psi being observed (if that's correct) is not really in the comfort range. So isn't this well leaking??
Look forward to engineering responses.

I am not an 'expert' response but, as I see it, any tendency now for the pressure under the wellhead to rise would indicate gas settling out as you suggest.

We have the knowledge from what was collected of the proportion of oil to gas and there is certainly a lot of gas.

If it is mostly gas in the drilling right now and the pressure stays around 7000 psi that might indicate the reservoir pressure is now lower than 11000 psi plus. (But I am assuming the density of the gas at these pressures is still lower than the oil - just do not know.)

Cracking open one of the valves on the new POB and collecting what comes out would indicate whether the gas is settling out - and the pressure would then fall as more oil comes up the well (dynamic situation) but, as I said above, I am more interested in getting some drilling mud down there (better if tooth paste like to reduce the tendency for replacement with oil/gas bubbling through) in order to eliminate the pressure difference at the wellhead.

I should have gone to ROV cameras before that last note. Does anyone else see the pulses pushing up off seabed from ROV2?? Sure looks like something is coming out and floating away... Don't know where this ROV is relative to borehole.

Yes, right now, the feed from BDC 2 shows "clouds" or "plumes" of something, rising from the seabed below and in front of the ROV. These do not appear to be the usual thruster-wash of silt we've all grown used to.

OTOH, I'm not able to identify it. But, it's there, and it's different.

We shall see.

Yes. At 4:22 a.m. I saw what looked like a large plume on the Boa #2, then it quickly moved away and the camera stayed fixed on the spot it's on now, with the plume to the left of the camera angle.

Boa C2 has been showing clouds of mud, clathrate & oil most of the night. At 5-5:30 am it was running from WNW to N of the WW location and 200-250' away. Last I looked it was not feeding video anymore.

Looks like the ROV is gently rocking in the current and kicking up some sediments to me.
Also, the pilot is clearly unconcerned, he's not even looking around.
Take it from someone who has worked offshore with ROVs for many years, this is nothing to worry about. Looks quite normal to me.

Upthread, there are people convincing themselves that Simmons may be a nut but there are seeps and plumes from this reservoir as far as a couple miles away (or more) and there may be a second hole that's no longer plugged. If that's what they think, seeing the flow stop makes no difference. No amount of arguing about psi or well integrity is going to make any difference. If bottom kill succeeds it won't make a difference.

They could be right or wrong but it's pretty clear that belief systems are in full bloom and contribute to the fog of war.

I'm an empiricist all the way. So, thank you, rovman. I find your contributions to be invaluable here.

I'd really like for the folks who are convinced of the 'venting' to explain the process by which oil comes up out of the mud, wafts around like smoke, then thins out and stops. If oil were flowing, wouldn't the flow open a path and enlarge it? And keep flowing? Like, for days or weeks, instead of a few minutes at a time? What makes it stop? Oil is lighter than the seawater, but is it lighter than the mud at the bottom? What's the shallowest feasible depth where the oil is leaving the wellbore, and what's the effective weight of that amount of seafloor sediment - is that weight low enough to not contain the oil, which after it has exited the wellbore essentially is no longer pressurized? Is that oil at ambient pressure but under at least 1000' of mud really light enough to float up through all that muck to the seafloor and pop out right in front of a ROV camera?

You GO, comfy! Woohoo!


Comfy, even if you got a not altogether wacky explanation of how it's possible, there's a current subthread consisting of mutual confirmation of seeing ROVs make a two mile trip to explore a plume, camera being abruptly cut off, etc.

If BP's people are concerned about other major leaks then their behavior in this latest effort is inexplicable - unless it's all just a ruse, a plot, a conspiracy, PR, whatever. If that's what people believe, then Macondo will never stop oiling the GOM even if it's nuked and turns into a methane breathing parking lot.

Comfy - yes, much of what we, the inexperienced ROV watchers, have seen is indeed ROV backwash. Or leaky dispersant hoses, etc.

I'm not quite sure if Snakehead is belittling reports of ROV activity in the 2-4 mile SSW nexus, but it did happen and probably continues to happen. If you all have a snappy explanation for that activity, let's hear it.

I'm not belittling it; I have no reason to disbelieve you and others. What's missing is the connection to Macondo and why what you saw has apparently been ignored subsequently if it's a real danger.

I have questions.

Has anyone in the legitimate press addressed this? Would ROV trips show up via various ship trackers, and if so, have they? Why would BP/USG proceed with the current effort if all they'd accomplish is effectively increasing reservoir pressure thereby forcing more oil/gas out of uncontrollable vents? Etc.

comfy -- I can offer a reasonable (but not very likely IMHO) scenario: They do have a shallow underground blow out charging a sand. As you correctly assume the frac gradient is so low at this depth oil in this charged sand could slowly leak as long as the pressures isn't too great. It would mimic a natural oil leak in that sense. I don't think that's the most likely expanation...just a rather low probabilty possibility

Given the strict access control to even beaches, I would say that the MSM/BP/USG are not to be trusted with anything they say.

Were independent investigators given access to things, we could more easily dismiss claims of fissures spurting hydrocarbons.

As it is, we are left, again, like mushrooms in the dark...

Right. Lack of evidence is evidence of a coverup and everything is dark, spooky, ominous and vague. The Endarkening continues, same as it ever was.

There are a lot of people here who actually know something, can apply that knowledge, and have put in lots of time and effort to enlighten. You keep trying to pull the shades down.

Just looks like disturbed silt to me.

Given the violence of the choked discharge that we saw from this well at the top of the old BOP, if an unchoked leakage path had been established up to the mud line then I would expect VERY significant flow, cratering, etc. Not just an occasional piddly bubble and a bit of a silt cloud!

Upthread somewhere (sorry, can't spot you now), someone had quotes from Cajuns who flat don't believe they've stopped the flow. By now I can't really blame the people along the Gulf who refuse to believe a word from BP, up to and including that Macondo is shut-in -- which one crabber who considers his crabbing days over for good likened to “a Band-Aid on a dead man.”

His phrase evokes Deepwater Horizon's unfit-for-purpose Band-Aid. When NYT published its report on BOPs back in June, this passage (emph. mine) electrified TOD:

Last year, Transocean commissioned a “strictly confidential” study of the reliability of blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs.

Using the world’s most authoritative database of oil rig accidents, a Norwegian company, Det Norske Veritas, focused on some 15,000 wells drilled off North America and in the North Sea from 1980 to 2006.

It found 11 cases where crews on deepwater rigs had lost control of their wells and then activated blowout preventers to prevent a spill. In only six of those cases were the wells brought under control, leading the researchers to conclude that in actual practice, blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs had a “failure” rate of 45 percent.

Now Reuters (also ProPublica and TPM) have news that shouldn't surprise anyone who saw that: On page 9 of his memo (pdf) announcing the new moratorium, Salazar stated (emph. mine):

It is clear that the apparent performance problem with the Deepwater Horizon's BOP is not an isolated incident. Performance problems have also been identified in recent weeks with the BOPs on the relief wells that BP is drilling. The problems have been uncovered during new testing requirements that were imposed on the relief wells after the BP Oil Spill, thus providing more evidence that prior testing requirements were inadequate. It is unlikely that these problems are unique to BP. The BOPs are manufactured by a very small number of companies, and BOPs used across the industry tend to employ standardized components.

RigZone identified these "performance problems" as

  • An LMRP disconnect function that, during ROV hot-stab testing, failed because of a leaking shuttle valve
  • Another failed shuttle valve that caused the All Stabs Retract function to flunk its test
  • A shuttle valve installed that shouldn't have been, causing a failed dead-man test
  • A broken solenoid connection on the blue pod that kept that pod from closing the casing shear rams

Even non-engineers can spot the implications at a glance: Cameron didn't seem to have its head cut-in much better than BP's (and neither did the old MMS). Salazar said the the relief-well BOPs' flaws all got repaired, but oh brother: the phrase "a Band-Aid on a dead man" might wear-out around here if these companies and agencies don't learn their lessons toot sweet.


Very late response to Syncro at 5:58pm on the previous thread:

Any reports of anyone from the British government apologizing to BP for this on national TV yet?

Note that we had a change of government in the UK in early May, 2010. Labour lost power and we now have a coalition of Tories (aka The Conservative Party) and Liberal Democrats. Yes, we have a political party hear called Liberal Democrats, they got ~25% or thereabouts of the national vote and are now sharing power with the right. Both parties raised hell over the Al Magrahi release at the time, there was also a big furore in the press. The double irony is that he almost certainly didn't do it.

(EDIT: and of course the decision to release him wasn't made by the UK government, but the devolved Scottish government, which is run by the Scots Nats -- mortal enemies of the Labour Party that formed the UK gov at the time.)

The double irony is that he almost certainly didn't do it.

Rilly. Hi, imipak. (I thought of you and "oik" yesterday when MetaMeme needed sorting-out.)

Anyhow, yes, it's a shame we didn't get to see that appeal play out, but I suppose neither the US nor UK governments could have tolerated it.