BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Results as the Testing Begins - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6740.

Becasue of the number of comments, this is a second copy of this thread. Prior thread can be found at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6734.

The picture that everyone has long been waiting to see became available after 3:25 pm (Eastern) yesterday afternoon, when BP closed the choke lines on the 3-ram stack, and oil stopped flowing into the Gulf.

The process started on Wednesday evening, after a delay during which the Admiral gave permission for the process to start, and held the press conference that I reported on yesterday.

It was followed by the Kent Wells' conference, which had been delayed, in which he noted that the relief well had finished a gyro survey to locate its position, and prepared the site for the casing to be set this weekend. Then the drill pipe etc. was pulled back into the casing while the integrity test was run. It was left in the well so that, in case there was any passage created between the two wells during the test (they are only just over four feet apart), then heavy mud could be immediately pumped down the RW to kill the risk of any additional problems. (The drill has 30 ft to go to reach the casing point, but is at the desired 2 degree angle).

One of the changes to the plan from that originally conceived was to add four ROVs that would be stationed around the well to alleviate the fears of those who had become worried by the continuing plethora of stories of a breached well casing. Although many of these stories have been discussed, and their invalidity shown, nevertheless in order to keep everyone happy (particularly those with political prominence), four ROVs were set around the well to watch the seabed and ensure there were no leaks.

This is one example of the results – the seabed is stable, with no oil and gas bubbling up from non-existent leaks. (BOA ROV 2)

Had there been any leakage from the well it would likely have come up around the casing of the well at the bottom. Here is the shot (BOA ROV 1) of the mud-line of the well. (The point where the well breaks through the mud to the sea bed).

As you can see, there is none. (The well casing with the BOP above it are just to the right of the lights of the illuminating ROV.)

The other change that Secretary Chu apparently imposed was that there be a conference every six hours during the test (which is scheduled to run 48 hours).

The initial plan was to close the rams sealing the well (which happened before I wrote the post yesterday) and then to close the kill line (the two ports that produced the vertical jets I showed last evening) and then to slowly (over a few minutes) close the choke, monitoring the pressure, until the flow ceased.

There should also be a little clarity in the discussion at this point. There are two sets of valves and circuits involved in this process. The first of these are the circuits on the original blowout preventer (BOP) . The kill and choke lines attached to those circuits were modified so that oil and gas are fed through them to the vessels on the surface which are either collecting or burning off the fuel. The second set of kill and choke valves are on the new stack that was mounted above the BOP, and it is these new valves that are being opened and closed. When the stack valves are open, the oil flows out into the water, rather than into directed lines, and so they are not the same circuits. At the beginning of the test the BOP valves were closed, so that all the flow went up to the stack where it can flow out through either the drill pipe at the top, the kill lines to the side, or the choke line – which is the curved yellow pipe at the top of the well. The drill pipe flow was first closed, using the central ram in the stack.

As the test began (and as Kent Wells noted in the morning briefing Thursday) that there was a leak.

. . . we noticed a leak on a hub on the choke line. And so when we saw that, that would have precluded us from properly doing the test, we needed to get that fixed. Fortunately, as everything, we always plan so we had a second choke on surface. So we disconnected that choke and hub system. Took it up, brought the other one down, landed it this morning and we’re once again going through the process of positioning ourselves to do the well integrity tests.

There were in fact two trips to the surface before the choke line was fully in place.

The well was then ready to ramp up for the test, and this was the schedule that Kent Wells reported in the afternoon briefing Thursday:

At 10:30 this morning we closed the kill line and since we had already had the middle ram of the capping stack closed that meant the only flow at that point was going out through the choke line and what was also being collected through the Q4000 and the helix producer.

Then between 10:30 and 12:30 we shut down the Q4000, we shut down the helix producer and that meant only flow was going up through the choke line and then at 12:30 we started to close the choke, we would do it a half a turn at a time to just slowly start to close the well in.

And at about 1:15 this afternoon we issued that the integrity test was starting. The official time of the choke being fully closed, which meant the well was fully shut in is approximately 2:25 this afternoon and as of that time there is no flow of oil going into the gulf of Mexico. So obviously this is an encouraging point of time. Remember this is the start of our test.

So the well is currently shut-in, though the results have not been all that had been hoped for. Admiral Allen has already issued a terse comment:

"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."

Part of the problem, apparently, is that the well pressure has not reached the 8 - 9,000 psi level that it was hoped it would reach, but instead it is reported to have fallen slightly shy of 7,000 psi. While this is below the expectation, it is higher than the 6,000 psi that Admiral Allen had set as the target below which they would assume a loss in integrity, and restart the flow of oil to the surface vessels.

To try and add a little context to this, at the beginning of the leak, the pressure of the oil and gas in the rock at the bottom of the well was measured at 11,900 psi. When the oil and gas fill the well that fluid column has a certain weight that balances some of the rock pressure, and the difference should be the pressure at the top of the column (which is where the BOP and stack sit). That gives the 8 – 9,000 psi range.

If the well pressure at the BOP is measured, however, at just shy of 7,000 psi then there are two possibilities. The first is that there has been so much flow of fluid out of the well that the driving pressure of the fluid in the rock has fallen by the 1,500 psi or so that brings the pressures down to those seen.

While that is a possibility, it may be unlikely because, at the time that the Top Kill was tried and as the Admiral noted just the other day, the well pressure could not be raised above 6,000 psi as they pumped in mud, even though at one stage they stopped the flow of oil out of the well.

What this could indicate is that there is a possibility of crossflow at the bottom of the well. What this means that the oil and gas that are flowing out of the reservoir into the bottom of the well, are, under the pressure in the well, now flowing into a higher reservoir of rock, now that they can't get out of the well. Depending on where that re-injection flow is, this may, or may not, suggest that the casing has lost integrity. This is a topic that has been covered in the comments at The Oil Drum, where fdoleza has noted:

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.

If there are questions whether there is still flow in the formation or from the original formation into surrounding rock, then it is possible that the relief well (RW) is close enough to the original well (WW) that putting a set of very sensitive microphones down the RW might allow some triangulation to estimate where such a flow might be occurring. It might make it easier that the well hasn’t been finally cased yet. But the test has 2 days to run, and will be evaluated every 6 hours. With time some of these questions may be answered as the test continues. (If there is no flow anywhere, after a while all the readings should become quite stable).

Oh, and just as this started to look like a little good news, there is this from the National Hurricane Center:

The windows of opportunity are not likely to remain open long. It is encouraging, however, that there may now be an answer if these do turn into hurricanes.

Prof. Goose's Comment:

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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widelyred on July 16, 2010 - 2:24pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

Syncro, aren't all liberals atheists by definition? You shouldn't care about God or the devil. LOL

You never met my mama, WidelyRead. She was the most religious person i've ever known, in terms of her deep personal beliefs, not outwardly in a bombastic way, and her liberal politics were infused with her deep religious belief and faith in Christ.

Of course, you are mocking the stereo-type, i realize, but it's an interesting ancedote.

Edit: Sorry, left over from last thread. Everyone else has to stay on topic!

I would have liked your momma. It was a good read and it feels good to be validated. I practiced self control and didn't reply at the time. The fanatical Rt's hypocrital position on stewardship which equates to molest and pillage behind selective smoke screens. I have been reading about their shift to green, it gets votes.

Back OT;

Is Enterprise ROV 1 holding TH-7 as a diversion or is there a plan to install it before the 48 hr. test is over?

Regarding the pressure buildup, one of the issues various posters have discussed is what would be the pressure draw down effect of 50 thousand bbl/day for 80+ days on a reservoir which has been claimed to be in the 50-100 million bbl size range.

One thing to consider might be the possibility of reservoir compartmentalization. That is, poor or no communication between parts of the reservoir. This is a turbidite reservoir. The overall size estimate is presumably based on pre drill seismic mapping. I've not worked DW GOM reservoirs, but friends who have have indicated that compartmentalization has sometimes been a big issue in other similar DW GOM fields. It has certainly been an issue for me in reservoirs in other settings.

In other words, it is possible that this well is only effectively draining part of the reservoir. If that is the case the 4 million or so bbls may have significantly drawn down the pressure. One approach for all you reservoir engineers might be to model it backwards. That is, if the orignal in situ pressure was 11900 and the pressure at the BOP is now 6700, what size compartment might account for that?

Alaska, it depends. We don't have the PVT data, but it's less than 50 million barrels in place. To us, the field is what the well sees anyway - anything outside of the well range is just out there, invisible and nothing we worry about.

I wrote in the previous thread maybe this is a combination of factors, shape, depletion, and cross-flow. Did you see the log? The well has a nice sand about 60 ft thick, a shale, and an upper lobe about 15 ft thick. This is a pretty good geometry to get crossflow going.

It's been a busy day and I stepped into Collateral D's **Whaaaaaaaa*** got sidetracked and had to get back to work. I got a little conspiracy, politics, religion, doom, gloom and of course **hoax***.

I was skimming through the posts and read a few of fd's posts and was beginning to appreciate the presentation and then ali posts this,


Should of known ali and fd were in cahoots and the whole thing is a hoax. ali pretends he has a sick well just like Rockman, comes in huffing and puffing to ask a question fd's already answered. Hope you guys are proud of yourselves. I haven't seen this kind of coordinated effort since Redford/Newman The Sting.

Just to reassure me,

Did you have your tin foil hat on, when you came to that conclusion?

If you didn't, somebody could have broken through your telepathic defenses, and planted ideas that aren't yours in your mind.

Take care.

I was thinking earlier about how people are brainwashed and remembered the Readers Digest article about the Mig-23 pilot who defected and landed in Japan. The US scooped him up of course and he didn't believe anything he was seeing; supermarkets without lines, stocked shelves, cars, freeways, skyscrapers etc. and he thought it was all a setup until he was aboard an aircraft carrier. His military experience helped him understand that the precision he saw taking place on the carrier wasn't a hoax.

For anyone accepting the conspiracy theories there whould have to be an epiphany IMHO when reading fd's explanations then have ali come in hours later and ask for pressure readings on cue.

There are no coincidences.

EDIT; Mig-25

my314tin wrote:

I was thinking earlier about how people are brainwashed and remembered the Readers Digest article about the Mig-23 pilot who defected and landed in Japan.

There is a book about that pilot and that incident. The title is "MIG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko". It is an utterly fascinating read. It was written by John Barron and goes into all the details of Victor Belenko's life in the Soviet Union, his escape flight and subsequent life in the United States.

Belenko indeed thought everything he saw in America was a put-on staged for his benefit. Upon his arrival in the U.S., as he was being driven to a CIA safe house, he thought that all the homes he saw must be fakes hurriedly erected to fool him -- because none of them had outhouses.

It was quite a while before he came to accept that America was real -- and that human beings did not have to live in the sort of hell-hole that existed under communism in the U.S.S.R.

The book is definitely worth reading and is available from Amazon.

I met some Russians, in the UK for a course, about 25 yag. They were amazed at the assortment of goods in the supermarket. What really stunned them though was that there was an assortment of pet food. Not because there was an assortment but that there was an assortment or even any in the first place. I could relate another tale but it is too close to home.


Markey's June 23, 2010 letter to Hayward.
I guess I'm not the only one who wants the seismic data.


"...If BP discovers... that hydrocarbons are also leaking from a location significantly above the target reservoir, what options exist to contain such leakage? Please provide all relevant documentation.
c. Please provide all documents related to the geologic formation in which the Macondo well is located. Are there significant deposits of oil and gas in formations above the target reservoir? Please provide an estimate of the total amount of oil and gas that is contained in i) the Macondo well target formation and ii) each formation above the target formation that could leak hydrocarbons into the annulus as a result of poor cementing, damage caused by the initial explosion(s), or the failed Top Kill effort..."

Whoever wrote this letter for Markey should have a steel toed boot put up his behind. "please provide all documents related to the geologic formation in which the Macondo well is located". As if they knew what to do with 500 tons of documents when they get them.

Grandstanding, for the folks back home.

"They".. more than likely don't know how to "read" or understand the documents and data requested, but maybe "they" know in who's hands to put them in to get a better understanding of what is going on. Further, once copies of the documents and data are in their hands, "they" have to share those documents and data with anyone who asked (or did a FOIA request), but perhaps they would just put them on the web for everyone to access. Considering all the comments regarding how folks wished they had access to data, pressure readings, notes etc. etc... it seems like a reasonable request (polite language too)... to be fair, perhaps "grandstanding for the folks back home" is NOT the ONLY motive behind this. If memory serves me, I believe "they" were partial responsible for getting the ROV feeds on the internet that we have sat around looking at for all these weeks? BTW I have enjoyed reading all the comments, off topic ones included.

Then maybe "they" ought to have asked for docs that could specifically address specific questions, rather than asking for a geology core dump.

"They", can ask for whatever they wish to ask for, but do they have the power to subpoena, thus requiring the willful submission of any proprietary and private information? If an indiviual were to make an assessment on their own that providing testimony in or out of sanctioned proceedings might possibly contribute to self incrimination, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of The United States allows for them to decline to proffer that same information. Let's just say that inquiring minds that "Want to know", can refer to the rags in the exit rack at the checkout register of their local grocery if they are that curious.

Tuna: Congress has the power to subpoena and to grant commissions created by Congress the power of subpoena. If you want to get knee deep in the 5th issue, read this article and then read the SCOTUS cases cited and distinguish between personal and corporate documents.


snakehead: For anyone who has been around document requests (discovery), if you don't make a blanket request, the opposing party will provide you with nothing, literally, by tailoring your specific request not to fit their definition for any of their documents. You'll wind up fighting over definitions with everything being withheld. I once saw a request for documents referring to items of a "red and/or green color" come up blank because the firm which was to provide the documents had British antecedents and spelled "color" "colour." They also produced nothing because they said the colours were described by their specifications not as red and green but as bright crimson and luminescent lime. The requesting party was stunned because they knew there were hundreds of documents which described these items. Oh, well....

Got it. Thanks, E L.

E L already pretty much explained it, but if you want a needle, you have to ask for the haystack. Markey's my rep, he's got my support for a good long time. And reps (even state reps, never mind Congressional reps) have staff and enough smarts to engage knowledgeable constituents when it looks like it could help.

This isn't a lawsuit, it's a donkey with a pen writing and asking for a volume of information he'll never know anything about anyway. To me this smacks of grandstanding and abuse of power.

Same principles for requests apply if you want to have anything given to you. And yes, I knew it wasn't a lawsuit.

Then let them request away, I guess. I would not answer it. Do you know why? Because it's very clear to anybody who knows that the guy who is writing the request doesn't even know what to request. Which tells me this is a sloppy DC flunky who is too lazy to even bother to figure out what he needs to know. In other words, we're dealing with people who are in Washington, who are so stupid they don't even know they don't know.

A smart, hard working person who wants to do a good job would sit down with a couple of sharp consultants, and get a very good idea of what to ask for. This way when the answer comes, they don't have to wade through 500 tons of crap to get to the bottom of it. You see, this world isn't just about lawyerin' either.

This is a perfect example of the reason why God has never been able to sue the devil. All lawyers go to hell, and they work for Satan, so God lacks the legal counsel to sue. Engineers go to heaven, where they keep the AC running and the beer flowing.

Don't answer it? Go to jail for contempt till you answer it. And then you spew a little cheap lawyer bashing for some much needed self aggrandizement.

Don't answer it, get a lawyer, and show a judge they are a bunch of jacksses. And start contributing to the campaign of whoever is running against this jerk. How is that?

fdoleza, i know what you are talking about. There are some lawyers out there who are particularly obnoxious in how over-broadly they draft their discovery requests. It can be extremely annoying when the requests are totally disproportionate the the issue at hand.

On the other hand, BP is accustomed to exchanging tens-of-thousands of documents at a time in litigation, no doubt. It has the resources and ability to respond to those requests, and to get them narrowed if they are indeed too vague and burdensome. And extensions of time are also granted. This is no biggie for BP's attorneys to respond to.

I would want all the documents if i was doing an investigation. The staff can handle them. It's easy to gear up to do that. It is appropriate to ask for them.

Syncro, that's the problem. This request isn't about all the documents. It misses 80 % of what they should be asking for, and it asks for garbage they don't need. So what this tells me is these dummies don't even know how to frame the proper language to ask a question.

Many years ago, I served as jury foreman in a criminal case, and I spent quite a bit of time squirming, because I could see how both the prosecutor and the defense were making mistakes. It was pathetic. It was like watching two kids hit each other with nerf bats. This Congressman reminds me of one of those guys.

Fair enough!

This kind of nonsense is also a very good reason why congressmen seem to not have the time to actually read the legislation they're voting on, with their Dear Leader being the archetype. "We'll have to pass the bill to see what is in it" (i.e. to find someone who will take the time to read it and tell us what's in there).

E.L. I think he is objecting that the requests are so vague and ambiguous so as to render them burdensome and oppressive.

Sounds like the objection possibly has merit, since the person who drafted them apparently did not know what to ask for.

A judge would provide relief if that's true. But the normal first step is to call them up to clarify and narrow the request, then reduce that to writing. If that fails, then you go to the judge.

Edit: If it's just a letter, they can probably just send whatever they think is relevasnt and negotiate from there.

syncro: I spent way too much time as a judge issuing discovery orders to lawyers whose clients were trying to duck orders for "inconvenient" information because the party didn't want the information out. BP has very good reasons to want to sit on a whole lot of information and not have the public know. By the bye, you try to provide relief when a party is recalcitrant. Every order is litigated as 'burdensome and oppressive." And now I will give this a rest.

calculating the volume (of your compartment)is relatively easy, but we need to make a few assumptions and have pvt data.

for a volumetric reservoir(no water influx) producing above the bubble point pressure,we have


N is original oil in place
Np is cumulative stock tank oil produced
Bo is oil formation volume factor
Boi is original oil formation volume factor
ce is effective compressibility
dp is delta pressure

and ce is (Soxco + Swxcw + cf)/So

So is oil saturation
Sw is water saturation
co is oil compressibility
cw is water compressibility
cf is pore volume compressibility

give us pvt data, we need pvt data. we can make a pretty good guess at the rest.

Regarding the pressure buildup, one of the issues various posters have discussed is what would be the pressure draw down effect of 50 thousand bbl/day for 80+ days on a reservoir which has been claimed to be in the 50-100 million bbl size range.

: stuff deleted

One approach for all you reservoir engineers might be to model it backwards. That is, if the orignal in situ pressure was 11900 and the pressure at the BOP is now 6700, what size compartment might account for that?

A trivial calculation . . .

Assume P1 * V1 / T1 = P2 * V2 / T2

Assume P1 = 11,900
Assume P2 = 6,700
Assume T1 = T2
Assume V2 = V1 + 50,000 * 80 * (4/3)

and solve for V1 you get

V1 = 6,871,794.87 bbl

(The factor of 4/3 is in there to account for the fact that some of the flow out of the well is gas (in this case, I am assuming that 25% of the volumetric flow out of the wellhead was gas).

how is that in any way applicable to this reservoir ?

Elwood, it's a form of the material balance equation, but he made it look real simple. The figures plugged in are a bit off, so the answer is off as well. To get it right, it's important to include the fluid compressibility, rock compressibility, and of course the pressure-volume-temperature behavior of the oil and gas mixture.

When we do that, and we use factors we obtain by anal extraction after fishing around for analogues, we get something closer to say 40 million barrels of oil in place.

Now, if I were getting paid to do this, you wouldn't get me to put it this plainly, because it could be way off. But since this is a blog, I'm just putting down some educated imaginin'.

For example, most of us think the oil is undersaturated, something we derive from the way the well behaved, but we don't have the lab results in our hands. And this point is important, because undersaturated oil will have a tendency to be less compressible than a saturated oil system (although not by a lot at these conditions), and this is important when one guesses at the amount of depletion the well should have for a given tank size and given production volume.

Elwood, it's a form of the material balance equation,

yes, a simplified form of the material balance equation for an ideal gas.

...because undersaturated oil will have a tendency to be less compressible than a saturated oil system (although not by a lot at these conditions)

and a gas system will have a compressibility roughly equal to 1/p, much greater than a saturated or undersaturated system.

look at the results, N= 7mmstb, 4 mmstb of which has already been produced ?? doesnt pass a most basic test of engineering; is it reasonable ?

Elwood, you got too much compressibility built into the system, so your figure for the original oil in place is too low. Let's put it this way, your spring is too bouncy. To get the pressure we see, if the system is modeled with a stiffer compressibility, the oil in place starts bouncing around 40 million barrels of oil in place. But that can move quite a bit depending on the actual figures we get...which we already said we obtain in a fairly dirty fashion.

Mr. fdoleza:

"...anal extraction..."

Doggone it! You just gave away one of the best kept engineering and, i suspect, geological secrets.


I am sorry for being off topic, but I could not help but see the storm I created by saying Devil=Green=Liberal=Higher education to the religious right around here. Sorry, I will get more Hooter's girls pictures. "Can't we just all learn to get along?" Rodney King.

Edit: You know the belles down here yell, "Cap and trade" instead of "rape" around here. For the record, I feel cap and trade is a bad way to keep score, but I also do not think it is the heart of a global conspiracy.

Sorry, but you must live in Denton, Texas? I hear Hooter's really popular, and they got a lot of religious people living in the area.

Gulf Shores Alabama, home of the world's smallest Hooter's. Hooter's here is now legit by community standards. That means the pastor can go there and not get in trouble. The economy and closings forced this concession. A new day is even dawning here in Alabama. Monday, I will make green history here. Wish me luck. http://gcn01.com

home of the world's smallest Hooter's

how small are the hooters ?

Even small hooters can be a handful ;-)

Monday, I will make green history here. Wish me luck.
I encourage you to make a contribution to 'green', of course, and to do it using whatever are your special skills & attributes, inside or outside the box. Don't just accept other peoples' definitions of "sustainability" or accept that experts must have the answers (You won't, I know)

I thought Hooters was popular with all men, it's my son's favorite place and has been since he knew what "hooters" were (he loves the wings LOL) and since my dad wants to be very involved in his grandson's life, he suffers thru the twice a week dinner at Hooters........what sacrifice for his grandson :)

WINGS? He must be pre-teen.

Oh I was being facetious, he's 10 now and has been eating at the Hooter's here since he was 7 twice a week......he knows the scedules of the hooters, err..... I mean girls he likes and they leave little notes on the receipt for him, and dad loves it because he get's so much attn and then dad does too!

Their fish tacos @ $8.99 are a deal. Crab legs have fallen to $9.99 lb served from $12.99 lb. The market price of Ophelia crabs has crashed since the spill. Go figure.

It is the old supply and demand, the public are not comfortable with seafood so they drop the price. Just goes to show you what kind of markup they make when the public psyche is less of a factor.

Same legs @ local nice restaurant, $18.99 lb served. They have more drink specials because the ABC (bev control) is cutting some slack. They NEVER do that. That will fill the nicer places.

I'm sure it's gone by now, but did you ever eat at a hole-in-the-wall place called Nikki's on the canal road to Orange Beach?

In the previous thread, Zaphod42 at 2:52pm CDT "... BP was trying to say it was only 5,000". [BPD]

I'm an engineer. I like precision. I like accuracy. I know that 5kbd was claimed at one time. But did BP ever claim that? Or, was it the Coast Guard?

I ask that because, as far as I know, BP has NEVER given a speculative estimate like that.

There were no flow meters in the path of the flow back then.


BP originally claimed 1,000 BPD

Following the rig explosion on April 20 BP said about 1,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, an estimate the Coast Guard later raised to 5,000 barrels a day. Now, on day 25, there's speculation that the gusher could be as much as five times as big.


also at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-24/bp-says-1-000-barrels-of-oil-le...


After they allowed how it might be 5,000 they goofed and said once they started capturing oil that they were capturing 5,000. Since we could all see oil still gushing out they had to admit at that point to more than 5,000

BP originally claimed 1,000 BPD

Actually, the initial 1,000 bpd estimate was from the Coast Guard, on April 24:


And the 5,000 bpd estimate was from NOAA, on April 28:


BP certainly didn't contradict the government estimates, but it didn't make them. Many in the media have consistently misreported them as having been made by BP.

I can confirm Swift Loris' recollection. I've been keeping a timeline of this thing almost "since day one."

To their credit, USCG was focused on SAR of the missing crewmen for the first 48 hours and weren't really worried about flow rates and such. But the first flow rate estimate--and virtually all that followed--were provided by the government.

Deepwater Horizon Incident Timeline

BP may have concurred with initial estimates, but spokespeople steadfastly refused to confirm later flow rates for obvious reasons. The official flow rate, estimated by the Flow Rate Technical Group headed by USGS, was first provided on May 27 (IIRC).

I welcome corrections to my timeline.

Here is a thread started by Shelburn about 2 months ago that discussed how the measured oil escaping could have been relatively small and then increased.


It's possible it was small flow in the beginning, and it increased over time. The well probably has a bad cement sheath, and it's possible the original flow was lower, then increased gradually. I'd like to see a comparison of the flame when the DWH was burning versus the flare when the Q4000 was taking about 8000 BOPD. That should give us an idea of the initial flow. If you look at the flare size versus the DWH flames, it looks to me like it was making less than 10,000 BOPD when it burst the first day. But I'm just guessing. Any opinions? Did anybody think the DWH was being flamed by 50,000 BOPD plus 100 MMCFD? I don't think so.

In the previous thread James in SA wrote:

“At that pressure the gas would still be in liquid state, so it would likely remain in solution with the oil.”

James, I can't talk O&G like you and others here, but critical temperature for methane is -116.5F. It cannot exist as a liquid above that temperature, no matter the pressure. We know that the lowest temperature the gas can reach at Macondo is about 34F at the wellhead.

In any case, gas will be in solution with the oil until the mixture contacts the atmosphere. The mass dissolved will just be decreasing with the pressure (champagne effect). Since there is very little methane in the atmosphere, essentially all of the methane will go out of solution at that point, although this would take a little while.

For constant temperature, the mass of gas in solution varies directly with the pressure – Henry’s Law. But the solubility constant changes inversely with temperature, although maybe not linearly. I didn't look that far.

There are fractions other than methane in the gas, and some of them might have a much higher critical temperature. Maybe some of them are liquid at the higher pressures in the well.

If the well is capped off and there is no flow, there is no pressure drop due to fluid friction, but just a change of state at the cooler top of the well. At the lower temperature, the methane would be less soluble in the liquid hydrocarbons. Some mass flow may occur with thermal equilibriation, but overall, the pressure at the top of the well should equilibriate with the rest of the well.

They may find out more when the get that relief well connected. If it shows 9,000 psi with the main line at 6,700 psi, it is a blowin'.

You can see that I am a stickler on this subject. Hey, this is the Oil Drum! For gases, solubility increases when the temperature decreases. So, at the top of the well where it is cooler, the methane would be more soluble. As Cheryl Rofer wrote:

"And gas solubility actually increases with lower temperatures, something that might seem counterintuitive."

See her comments and excellent links at


Edit: I should have noted that one of these links shows that the variation with temperature of the solubility of a gas is by no means linear, although it is inverse.

Flipper, I think you got it backwards. At a lower temperature, methane becomes more soluble in liquid hydrocarbons. When the temperature is raised, the lighter hydrocarbons, including methane, "boil off".

Regardless of the exact change in state at the lower temperatures, if there are no significant leaks, eventually the well would come to pressure and temperature equilibrium. If the methane remains in the fluid/liquid at the lower temperatures, it will approach equilibrium faster because there is less mass transfer driving force.

The point is that the capped well would eventually reflect the pressure in the oil reservoir if there are no leaks. The estimates I have heard of 4% of the total for what was released, simply do not explain the pressure loss.

Furthermore, I find it miraculous that with the criteria of 8,000 to 9,000 psi as confirmation of integrity and less that 6,000 psi as failure, that they ended up right in the middle of the undetermined criteria. So they can decide to do whatever they want. I think they had good estimates of the situation and set the criteria accordingly.

You are correct, there is a difference between gas being in a liquid state and gas being in solution.

It's suggested that about 40-50 % mass of the well-head Macondo flow is flared gases. So it's reasonable to expect that a lot of short-chain hydrocarbons were present in the reservoir liquid.

Crude oil is a mixture of organic compounds with carbon numbers from 1 ( methane ) up to 100. Typically, low density, volatile crude oils will contains alkanes and cycloalkanes, with lower concentrations of aromatic and unsaturated hydrocarbons.

A very simple model for pure n-alkanes ( straight-chain saturated hydrocarbons ) at ambient conditions, C1 to C4 are gases, C5 to C16 are liquids, C16+ are solids.
Crude oil implies a liquid, although heavy grades can be a semi-solid. If all the volatiles have been lost, the product may be bitumen or asphalt.

Crude oil is a single-phase/semi-solid fluid mixture of a thousand different molecules at varying concentrations, along with their critical points. But they still co-dissolve to form a reservoir fluid, and as you reduce pressure the volatiles will undissolve and form vapour bubbles, and also some of the larger molecules may precipitate as the smaller-volatile molecules leave - producing a semi-solid crude.

Obviously heavier grades of crude oil ( such as Macondo oil ) also contains other types of hydrocarbons, other saturates, aromatics, resins and asphaltenes, various trace metals, sulphur, etc. etc. The critical point of an individual molecule is unchanged, but the solubility in a complex mixture affects actual behaviour.

If you put 100ml pentane (C5 alkane ),into a shaking container, and pressurised the container with methane, the methane would dissolve into the pentane until the bubble point ( saturation of the liquid ) was reached. Note that the composition of the separated gas and liquid phases inside the container would be very different.

If you increase the pressure, or decease the temperature, the % of methane in the liquid will increase, as will the volume of the liquid. The critical point still exists, but you essentially have the methane dissolved in an inert but also volatile solvent. It's the same in crude oil, and it's fractional distillation at the refinery that separates the fractions according to volatility.

The assumption is that the Macondo reservoir is undersaturated, so you could pump more methane down and it would dissolve until the bubble point is reached. Then the reservoir is saturated for those conditions. Even more methane would produce a gas phase about the crude.

Also, consider the solubility of permanent gases ( eg Oxygen ) in water at ambient pressure and temperature - you have to reduce the pressure or increase the temperature to get the gas to undissolve - resulting in dead fish in hot, de-oxygenated, summer streams. Critical points are not very relevant.

Another example is the 220 psi dissolution of acetylene into cylinders of acetone for O2/C2H2 gas-axe/welding sets used in fabricate steel. Dissolution in acetone on a porous support prevents the auto-explosion of highly-unstable acetylene gas at pressures above 40 psi.

Bruce, even for a stickler on this subject like me, that is a fine post. I was surprised by this:

"...the % of methane in the liquid will increase, as will the volume of the liquid."

Suppose you dissolve oxygen in water. Does the water volume increase enough to notice? In my research on hydraulic compressors, I have been assuming that it does not, and haven't found any statement to the contrary. If it does not, why would methane/pentane behave differently?

I also remember the high school lab experiment of dissolving sugar in water. At least I think I do. The water volume does not increase. The sugar molecules just take up the space between the water molecules, and there is no change in the water volume. At least not enough to notice, for engineering purposes anyway.

"A mathematician and an engineer were deeply embroiled in a dispute about Zeno's Paradox when a beautiful woman walked by. The mathematician, thinking of the paradox, despaired of ever being able to attain her, but the engineer was confident that he would be able to get close enough for all practical purposes."

I am talking serious Mol% co-solubility of miscible molecules, and will try to find a freely-available table for C1 in n-C5, however in the interim, here's a link for methane in kerosine ( approx C9-C15 liquid ) from a 1934 paper.
Only the first page is free, but it has a nice graph ( Fig 1 ).

Life gets even more complicated when a polar liquid solvent, eg methanol, is mixed with hydrocarbons. The density of blends differs from that predicted from their individual densities.

I can address the sugar/water experiment. After leaving petrochemicals, I worked several years at a food plant which made simple syrup, i.e. saturated sugar solution. The equipment was a steam-jacketed, agitated tank with a clear plastic level gauge with a hole at the top of the tube. The tank was filled with hot water to a mark on the tube about 3/4 up the tank. Then sugar was added until the solution started to drip out of the hole in the top of the tube. So the volume definitely increases. I think the conclusion of the high school experiment is that the total volume is not the sum of the volume of the water plus the volume of the sugar. I'll have to check this the next time I make hummingbird nectar.

About dissolving oxygen in water: the water volume probably doesn't increase noticibly because the solubility of oxygen in water at typical conditions is small.

justenough, a satisfying post on all counts. Yes, I remember now about the point of the sugar/water experiment. It is as you say. For hummingbird nectar, I have been advised to use one part sugar to four parts water by volume. Mighty sweet, it seems to me, but time for a test!

You also must be right about the oxygen/water question. However, in a hydraulic air compressor, the mass of dissolved oxygen and nitrogen becomes significant at higher pressures. I see I have some more research to do.

I was a bee keeper and had to feed my bees sugar water in the winter. the volume of the water does increase significantly. I was adding a volume of suger about equal to the water.

SFC, good info. How are the bees doing there?

The mathematician clearly was incompetent then. Any person claiming that profession should be able to determine the sum of such a simple infinite series.

So what do you think was happening at the discharge of the riser cap? If the methane is dissolved in the crude oil, it suddenly is mixed into sea water. Do you think it is now methane dissolved in sea water? At what pressure do you think one would first see discernable bubbles?

For reference here http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?T=38&PLow=1&PHigh=540&PInc=25&Appl... are the isothermal properties of pure methane based on 38 F (i.e. the mud line) over the total depth of the well in atmospheres (3 atm = 100 ft of water). So at 176 atm (the mud line) the density is 10.38 lb/cu ft (SG = 0.17) and at the surface @ 1 atm the density is 0.044 lb/cu ft. The slope of the curve http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?Action=Load&Applet=on&ID=C74828&Ty... shows methane to be much more compressible when it is in the vapor phase near the surface and much less compressible in the supercritical phase deep into the well.

Any comments on the mechanism that Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_clathrate#cite_note-Wang-28 cites regarding shut-in pressures

Monitoring of well casing after it is "shut in" (isolated) will indicate hydrate formation. Following "shut in", the pressure rises as gas diffuses through the reservoir to the bore hole; the rate of pressure rise will exhibit a reduced rate of increase when hydrates are forming.

I don't think this makes sense. For example, the fluid in the reservoir is oil, not a gas. The pressure rises when the well shuts in because all of the moveable hydrocarbons shift over a little bit, head in the direction where pressure is lower. Since this is an undersaturated oil reservoir, there should be very little free gas phase down there, and it may not be very moveable. Why do we know this? Because as far as I could tell the gas to oil ratio wasn't changing much. It's not like a was making a GOR plot with the data, but it sure didn't look to me like it was changing.

Monitoring of the well casing will indicate hydrate formation? How? The well may end up with a hydrate plug at the top, but that's going to be inside the 9 5/8 inch casing, and the casing has that BOP assembly on top, and the cap on top of that. So what exactly does this guy mean? If the well is building up, then the fluids are moving, because the gauges are above the casing spool anyway. So in conclusion, I think this guy needs who wrote the Wikipedia article needs to clarify what he wrote.

The pressure rises when the well shuts in because all of the moveable hydrocarbons shift over a little bit, head in the direction where pressure is lower.

So a very moveable hydrocarbon, methane, would "head in the direction where pressure is lower", meaning to the top of the column right under the BOP?
If you agree, then you have a slug of supercritical methane (what some seem to like to charachterize as a "bubble") of comparatively low SG, which lightens the average density of the column and helps explain why the shut-in pressure slowly increases. While the methane is going up, the molecules that were at the top are slowly descending (Stokes Law my friend?) to the bottom and back into the wormholes in the formation where they can spread out laterally and not change hydrostatic pressure so much as they do.

Bruce, the stuff at the top won't be methane, and it won't be supercritical. It will be a gas mixture, as follows: carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane, hexane, heptane, and possibly a bit of the heavier fluids in tiny amounts. The mixture won't be supercritical, it will be a gas at dew point.

The very moveable hydrocarbon I mentioned would be within the oil reservoir ('in the sand'). And I doubt there's much moveable gas phase down there.

Stoke's law isn't as applicable as Fick's law, I think. But I'm not an expert in this field.

Finally, the pressure build up works the other way, fluid pushes out of the rock into the well, and the pressure builds as this fluid comes in. The pressure measured at the top will fluctuate a bit because the fluids will re-stack and cool down, but this isn't as important as the overall buildup, which is taking place due to the movement of OIL and possibly WATER in the reservoir.

Give me an idea what you mean by "gas" in terms of pounds per cubic foot. What I mean by "supercritical" is a fluid (mostly methane) with a density of about 10 lb/ cu ft, specific gravity of 0.17.

Most people would think of a "gas" as having an even lower density, which would reduce the average density of the column even further, which would allow more of the formation pressure to be felt at the well head as noted by the slowing rising pressure (2 psig/hr) currently being observed.

Never heard of gas with that density. I don't have my books handy, but I believe you would have to apply 3 gazillion psi to gas at cryogenic temperature to get it that dense.

fdoleza (and other experts here): you would be very welcome to edit the Wikipedia article for clarity. Just create an account so your edits aren't credited to an IP address, don't put original research in, and provide references.


Bruce T, if you will accept the simple-minded analysis of someone who is not an expert on the behavior of hydrocarbons, just before the oil/gas mixture exits the BOP and enters the water, there is already some undissolved gas. Previous posters have indicated that the bubble point occurs well before the flow reaches the BOP.

So now the gas, dissolved and undissolved, and the oil are entering the water. Some of the free gas then dissolves in the water as the flow rises toward the surface, especially since there was no gas in the water to start with. Some of the gas that is still dissolved in the oil also escapes to the water as the pressure decreases. Some of that newly freed gas also dissolves in the water. There are many news reports of dissolved methane plumes in the water from the blowout.

Maybe I am missing your point. For example, why do you mention that methane is more compressible at the surface than it is deep in the well? How does this relate to solubility?

On hydrates, all indications are that there is no produced water at Macondo, therefore no hydrates so long as the seawater does not enter the flow. The Wikipedia author notes:

"(Kicks, which can cause blowouts, typically do not involve hydrates: see Blowout: formation kick)."

However, regardless of hydrates, the article does say that shut-in pressure increases as gas migrates to the bore hole from the formation. The only explanation I can think of is that as the undissolved gas enters the production piping, which it should do since it is lighter than the oil, it will displace the oil. Hence the density and weight of the fluid column in the riser decreases, which would increase the pressure at the well head.

How's that for talking through my hat? (It is a Sombrero, not a top hat, ha ha, see my earlier posts on the gas lift pump.)

Edit: posted before I saw FD's comments. If there is no undissolved gas in the reservoir, my speculation is no good.

Second edit: FD, speculating again, if the bubble point is passed somewhere up the Macondo production piping to the BOP, then there is some dissolution of the gas in the column, thereby decreasing the column weight even if there is no undissolved gas in the reservoir. In other words, even at Macondo, should we not expect the shut in pressure to increase, although maybe not as much as for a gassier reservoir?

Questions for Bruce T as well as fdoleza and windward:

(1) If methane at the pressures & temperatures is a supercritical fluid, is it right to speak of it as "dissolved in the oil" or should we think of two fluids mixed together?

(2) If we know the density of methane at various pressures and temperatures and we know the volume ratios of methane vs oil (e.g. bbl methane to bbl oil) at those pressures, does that give us any clue as to how the density of the mixture changes with pressure and temperature?

On a previous day I noted 25220 bbl oil captured (recovered or burned) and 25.4 million cf gas burned. That works out to 2276 cf methane/bbl oil at the surface . From the NIST web site Bruce T linked to I can find the density at various temperatures and pressures, and figure out the ratio of methane volume to oil volume assuming the two are kept separate so that we don't have to worry about mixing/dissolving:

surface (14.7 psi, 60F): 0.6787 kg/m^3, 2276 cf = 405 bbl methane/bbl oil
seafloor (2250 psi, 32F): 148.4 kg/m^3 --> 10.4 cf = 1.85 bbl methane/bbl oil
seafloor (2250 psi, 150F): 98.09 kg/m^3 --> 15.34 cf = 2.73 bbl methane/bbl oil
reservoir (11900 psi, 150F): 297.6 kg/m^3 --> 5.19 cf = 0.924 bbl methane/bbl oil

(1) I would consider the fluids as liquids that are intermixed. I like the example someone gave before of how full is the jar when you fill it with marbles, then sand, then water. I say the big hydrocarbons are the marbles and the sand is the methane, which because it is compressible squeezes into the interstitial spaces opening them up a bit in the process, giving you a total volume that is less than the sum of its parts, but more than just the oil alone.
(2) That's why there is so much discussion as to what the SG of the stream is at the exit to the BOP. We haven't figured it out. But the net conclusion is that the flow in BBL at the BOP is going to be more than the # of bbls collected at the surface. It is also why fdoleza is concerned about collecting the flow at the surface without an adequate pressure relief. I'll guarantee you Adm Allen & Dr Chu cannot do a DIERS analysis of the two-phase flow that will take place as the methane comes out of solution due to the decreasing pressure before they have another blowout. There is a very good reason they bring those ships on line so slowly.

RL, the only thing I can add to what Bruce said is the typical statement that "A gas cannot be liquefied at a temperature above its critical temperature." Or another one, that in a supercritical fluid there is no distinction between the liquid and gas phases. We can say only that a supercritical substance is a fluid.

For number 2, I did not realize that the determination of the average density of the column is this complicated, as Bruce explained.

[new] widelyred on July 16, 2010 - 4:31pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top Mommy, something seems wrong with your chart there. If the Chinese owned 144,564,119 shares, why is it only worth 148M mkt value when Intercontinental is worth $134M with less than 10% that number? One or the other is clearly wrong.

Sorry for the late reply Wiley~it has been a hectic week so I left early and hit happy hour:) I am reposting the bberg page you were referring to in order to avoid confusion:


This is a screen capture of BP's investments not those that hold BP adr's as an investment , so it could be China Aviation Oil trades around $1 per share, or it could be the "co-file" status under source, I'd have to see what this stock trades for, the next largest (mkt value) investment held by BP is Intercontinental Exchange and prolly trades at a higher price per share......for instance if they held Ford stock last yr when it was trading around $1.00 per share and owned 2,000,000 shares it would be a mkt value of $2,000,000 and the next largest was XYZ trading at $20 per share and they owned 9500 shares it would be a mkt value of $1,900,000.....so it all boils down to the mkt value/share price. Now if this were a chart of all the institutional holders of BP, those figures would make NO sense whatsoever but this is what BP owns in their investment portfolio.
Hope that makes sense after 2 shots of Patron and a few too many beers!

So what PSI does that make at the wellhead. Just when I thought I was learning some of the oil stuff. This just proves one thing. There is a reason folks say leave it to the experts. Now explain what a put is again. Explain it in terms of a craps bets. :)

Is there a Plan B? I just have this uneasy feeling - it can't be the end. That oil is going somewhere, hopefully into a formation so deep it will never come up. What do they do if it starts boiling up through the mud. It seems like there is will be no alternative but open the BOP. I know they think they can handle 80,000bpd, but they haven't seen what the well will do with the BOP wide open.

My plan B is to burn the excess, no matter how much comes up. We started this discussion in a previous thread, but couldn't finish before it was cut off. In case we get cut off again, I've got a thread going at http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout. We can continue there.

Where we left it was, most folks thought burning it could only be done if they had all the proper equipment set up, simply dumping it on a barge and burning it would be unsafe. I disagree. See the discussion at the link above.

What I'm thinking now is - how do we handle the flow if the weather is just too bad for even a burning barge. What about some kind of underwater pontoons to hold the riser in place? Letting it all go into the water at the surface would be better than at the bottom, right? Then if the weather backs off just a little, we could have some really tall containment booms, tethered to the pontoons.

We might want a small submarine to keep the whole mess "on station" until the weather improves.

Where is the nearest production platform -- how about you send it there via pipeline and run it through the separation process there (or build the subsea separation then into pipeline then into production... ). I saw one idea of piping to depleted reservoir and re-injecting...

Sounds like a 3-month project. We need something that will get us through the next 2 weeks.

Sorry - assumed you meant if the RW failed...

That is BPs stated Plan B.

Rigel/7 Hands is a field just a few miles away. It has no surface facilities but does have a subsea manifold and pipeline to a production platform. If a short pipeline was installed from Macondo to Rigel, and if the existing production into the surface facilities was shut in, a good portion, if not all, of Macondo flow could be handled (with appropriate compensation to the owners of the displaced production.) There has been at least some planning going on in this direction for a while now.

What is the maximum flow we might get from Macondo? Will there be a problem pushing it horizontally through 5 miles of pipe?

Wouldn't it be better to put the manifold at the source, and run five one-mile pipes straight up? We still have to dispose of it at the surface, and that is the topic of this thread.

docellen, it depends on the pipeline diameter. Say you put in a 12 inch line, that should just about do it. If slugging is a problem, then putting a manifold at the well site and running several smaller lines may be a better option, I guess. Or maybe they lack the line of the right size - 12 inch line with the wall thickness and metallurgy to lay in 5000 feet of water must be a pretty exotic item. So maybe it's a lot easier to put in a manifold and lay smaller lines. But this means you got to build a manifold, and that gets complicated.

docellen, I can help you work out the kinks on this barge idea of yours. First let me ask, do you plan to burn the natural gas together with the oil, all at the same time? Or do you want to separate the oil, and burn the oil and gas apart from each other? Once you give me this design requirement, I can work out the barge size and other details for you.

There is no design requirement regarding separation of oil and gas. This may relate, however, to requirements for safety, simplicity, and bad weather tolerance. Let's start with a more careful statement of assumptions and requirements.

1) We have an emergency threatening severe environmental damage, but not loss of life. (Oil gushing at the sea floor.)
2) We have a way to connect a new riser and collect all the oil at the bottom.
3) We don't know exactly what ratio of gas and oil is in the release. It seems to vary.
4) The flow rate seems to be increasing. We can't shut it off. All we can do is divert it.

1) Minimize release of oil to the environment.
2) Minimize release at the sea floor.
3) Minimize risks to personnel, including heat, explosion, and smoke inhalation during construction and operation.
4) Keep the design simple, using readily available parts if possible, readily constructed parts if necessary, nothing that will take weeks to build.
5) Plan for bad weather, including worst-case, a direct hit from a hurricane.

At this point, I don't have a specific design worked out, just some ideas involving a riser supported with underwater pontoons, and maybe a valve that can direct the flow left or right so that a diver may work in the area. I don't even know how deep to put the pontoons and valve. This would be a compromise between needing to tolerate bad weather and not making things too difficult for divers.

Docellen, the best layout would be as follows, I think:

Take a dynamically positioned semi, strip the deck, put in an 80,000 BOPD process train. To bring the fluids to the surface, install a tower at the sea floor, with piling to keep it fixed, because this tower will have a flex joint at the top, and then a 10,000 psi working pressure riser pipe going up to about -300 feet, where you can have a manifold and connectors for a set of high pressure flexible lines which connect to a manifold set on the semi.

The semi has to be equipped with the equipment to separate oil and gas, because the gas has to be flared. So you need to put in a very large set of flare booms.

To offload the oil, a tanker with bow thursters has to come in from the upwind side, so it's better to put a very large boom crane somewhere in the tail end of the semi, which is going to be right where the quarters building is, so this is going to require a little thought, because the choppers have to land and need clearance or they run into the crane. But I think i can get around that.

So, this really large boom, say 300 ft long, is used to hand over the hose to the tanker, which uses its thrusters to make sure it doesn't bump the floater. It loads the oil, and moves off.

I think this is a pretty good layout, it'll take a couple of years to get it done, though.

"I don't understand any of this but I have developed a plan anyway."

Is that an accurate summary of your comment?

After watching the containment dome concept and the top cap attempt I believe everyone in the world started to feel like a genius. Seems we could have given a monkey a magic marker and he could have done better. If that is the best our scientific community could do without spending 3 months studying the process I hardly think they should brag.

Seems we could have given a monkey a magic marker and he could have done better.

And I bet the monkey don't know how the ram work. And the monkey also don't know what is require to make equipment rated for high pressure.. and the monkey certainly don't know anything about deepsea equipment and how to make things installale by ROV 8-))..Ah, But the monkey has a bigger ego than it know what to do.. So it comes to TOD and try to talk down those engineers that know this stuff 8-))

That wasn't done by the scientific community. My bet is that was something they slapped together at Boots and Coots. I already described my new and improved version, something like it but a lot bigger, with electric heaters and four big pipes with quick connectors. I called it the Superdome.

The top cap could have worked better, but the way they did it reminded me of one of those battles where one side is inside a castle, gets impatient and decides to go fight outside to get the crap beat out of them, when they could have stayed inside tossing rocks and boiling oil at the bad guys.

So, how could it have worked better?

They could have taken their time sawing the riser, and if they had to, smooth the cut a bit, then put a nice collar (steel with some plastic seating material inside to try to make it seal real good), just below the cut to stiffen the stub, and THEN stabbed into it. So if they had taken a week longer to figure out their tools and build them, I think they would have had a much better seal.

And of course, they also had to figure out the well was making beacoup oil, and set up with something ready to flare a ton of gas. And this was the real big problem. It can be difficult to set up a separator train for 50,000 BOPD with a bunch of government officials looking over your shoulder. I've done it for 10,000 BOPD, and it looked like a small refinery by the time we finished. So this is the first part of the second part I don't know if I could have figured out.

“I nailed it”
Oil drummmmmmmroll please. Back on June 15th and 22nd I posted my idea
on how to control the well. Not a perfect idea but close. I’m also a retired union
plumber. Just think about my idea, a seismic study, remove the top flange, straighten
the flex joint with hydraulic jacks, lots of control valves, and the possibility to stop
the flow or send the oil top side. Just too many co incidents. Now where do I send
the bill for all this great engineering. If they can’t send money how about some
Blue Bell Ice Cream?
To that mystery plumber I say thank you, and to T.O.D. what a great site and
discussion group you have, and to the survivors of this tragedy, I send my condolences. Thank you all

Did you submit your idea and get an acknowledgment? Were you the one with the Mario Brother's joke?

Hey, I want my 15 minutes of fame, even if it was beginner's luck. On my first post, June 11, I commented:

"Ex, here's my guess. They want to get a solid connection to the BOP. 2 choices a) the quick connect, b) the flange. I'm guessing they'll go with the flange. Tempting as the quick connect might be, even if they could release the riser stub and anything prevented reconnecting, they'd have no fall back. So the new top cap will bolt up to the old riser flange. Will it have a valve on top they can leave open until they can 'stab' the top cap on? (I'm thinking a single ram BOP with blinds and oversized kill/choke connections. DW/remote controls, does it exist?) Anyway, the new top cap will be pre-connected to a new valve manifold running to the new floating riser. I'm thinking this manifold will have vent valve(s) so any flow that can't be handled top-side can be released here. This takes care of the 'recovery' mode. But it also regains control of the top of the stack so that some choking (or even top kill, but probably not) could be done during kill operations."

So after adding their reduncancy, they ended up with 3 rams. So far they have only used one. Where's my check?

Check's in the mail.

A Whale officially flunks ... anybody want a large cargo vessel with holes in the hull?

NEW ORLEANS - After an extended trial period during which the supertanker skimming vessel “A Whale” was given an opportunity to demonstrate its capability to remove oil in open seas of the Gulf of Mexico, Federal On-Scene Coordinator Admiral Paul Zukunft today announced that it will not be deployed as a part of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.

“A Whale,” the 1,115 foot long supertanker that sailed to the United States from Lisbon, Portugal, was modified in an innovative way, and went through an extensive operational review by a multiagency team under the supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard. The report concluded that after significant effort, the amount of oil recovered was negligible, and limited oil beyond a sheen was found in the cargo tanks. Over the same 24 hour testing period, the Unified Area Command mobilized more than 590 smaller, more agile skimmers to remove more than 25,551 barrels of oil water, conducted 26 controlled burns, and recovered 12,800 barrels at the source to continue to fight the oil as far offshore as possible.

"A Whale" Operational Review Completed

Thanks for the update. We need all the comic relief we can get.

As we know by now, the A Whale is a converted bulk carrier. But to the MSM every large commercial vessel is a supertanker. It's a name to conjure with. "Superbulkcarrier" just doesn't cut it.

Windward, I got another idea for the A Whale. They could use it to fish for mullet. All they got to do is put screens driven by hydraulic pistons, to come down after it swallows, and then a huge piston inside, to push forward and force the water out, and keep the fish in. They can rename it "Looking for Mullet".

Maybe give the Whale to Whale Wars?

The should put a big sign on it that says, "Will Work for Gas Money" so they can get home.

We shall call you Ishmael.

James --- Thanks for clearing that up about the pressure gauges. This is what makes TOD worthwhile.

IMHO. If the lower 60’ pay zone has higher (most likely) pore pressure than the one above and they are in contact it makes sense to produce the well as it will reduce flow to upper sand zone. Producing the well into surface vessels does not harm GOM, and it keeps the pressure from raising and breaking formation, casing, cement, BOPs etc. These items seem to have survived the integrity test successfully up till now. The well is contained if shut in or producing.

If the upper pay zone pressure exceeds the lower one’s pressure, and they are in contact the static BOP pressure is roughly upper zone pressure minus hydrostatic from oil/gas in well bore. BP knows this upper zone pressure from their logs, but have not released it. Producing the well in this case with the four choke and kill lines will do no harm that I can see. It keeps the pressure down, and oil out of the Gulf.

Would somebody explain about gas migrating up, going out of solution, expanding and increasing pressure?

Of course I do not really know what I am talking about, but would like to see those who do know, speak out and explain the situation as they see it. The evening TV news, radio and newspapers sure don’t educate us much.

All the gas you need is on the thread that just closed. A solid 12 hrs. of gas expanding and contracting. Seriously!

OK todfan, here's the scoop: There's no particular reason to stop flow into the upper zone, because this zone is only a few feet above the main zone, and it's BELOW the reservoir cap or seal. As long as the oil stays below the seal, then it's OK. I doubt the upper zone has a higher pressure, but if it does, then it flows down into the lower zone - it's the same phenomenom, but reversed. The upper zone pressure is very likely to be the same as the lower zone's, when referenced to the same datum (the only difference is the oil gradient at reservoir conditions). If it's not, I'll lick my shoe soles.

I've explained several times in the past that producing the well is likely to require an open vent to the sea, because they lack an emergency shut down device to close the flow should an emergency shut down take place in the surface vessel's oil separation equipment. This means it will do harm to produce the well, it'll put oil back on the water. And this will lead to a lot of finger pointing and people crying and restaurant owners getting depressed.

The only technical option would be to hook up to the old BOP's choke and kill lines with 10,000 psi WP piping connected to a stout fast acting shut down valve, and to have the surface kit set up to vent the stuff that's in the riser pipe to a flare they know will work for sure. This connnection would have to be made to a flare which can burn oil and gas, and it has to be upstream of the production train's entry point shut down device. And I bet the MMS is going to have fits approving this set up. But I wouldn't stick around that rig unless I have a way to send the riser contents to a flare in a real hurry, and I definitely need to have something aboard with a little button I can push, and which I know will work 100 % of the time, to close that valve down there at 5000 feet. And this takes a bit of thinking and gearing, because these guys in the Gulf of Mexico never do this. I think they have to set up something like they use at Na Kika, but I don't know if that equipment is handy or not.

Has BP been in contact with anyone from TOD? There's a lot of info here that I'd guess they'd rather keep to themselves.

I have seen a few admitted BP'ers and I am sure just as many if not more lurking. You think the rank and file there know any more than we do? Information is one of the tightest controlled commodities in an organization. Finally, another use of my degree in OM (Organizational Management).

Has BP been in contact with anyone from TOD? There's a lot of info here that I'd guess they'd rather keep to themselves.

What info do you mean?

The sort of info I've observed falls into a few categories:

* Information widely known to oil-workers outside BP but of interest
to ordinary people who are affected by or merely interested in
the current crisis.

* Crazy speculation, e.g. about vast undersea lakes of oil, gigantic sea-floor rifts
Obama's secret volcano hideout, ...

* Innovative ideas about plugging pipes with giant corks, nuclear missiles, spare
styrofoam cups, capsized A-Whales, etc.

* The price of shrimp at Hooters.

I did write BP could send Tony Hayward to mow my lawn. I bet the BP employees got a kick out of that. I would criticize the other BP managers, but I don't know most of them. And Bob Dudley is a fine dude. I think they should promote Hayward to be in charge of cleanup in Pensacola, and Dudley can run the company.

The signal to noise ratio has gone way down. It is no doubt because of people like me.
I came here because of a link to the DougR post. It confirmed everything that I already knew. I decided to read some other posts to see if this was a legitimate site with actual people in the business posting. As I read I discovered that many people dismissed the DougR post, and after about an hour of reading, I read enough to convince me that the DougR post was not being taken seriously by people who know the business. I dismissed his post but it seemed that I had found an almost unbiased source of information. People in the industry will naturally be biased towards that industry, but I saw a lot of info from all perspectives. I have gotten a lot of information about the oil drilling business here and it helped me to understand what was going on with the Gulf spill.
Now it seems that many posts are political. Today conspiracy theories seem to rule. I can visit the Alex Jones site for that.
There are plenty of places to read about such things but getting real information from people in the business is hard to come by.
I am not suggesting that posters get banned or that posts should be deleted for being off topic, but perhaps a re-statement about what this site is meant for would be appropriate.
I did not expect to have to read through 200 posts about hidden well blowouts to get a bit of info on how to understand what the BP pressure readings meant.
I would like to thank everyone for replying to my questions and being patient with someone who knows little about the industry. This site will remain my main source for oil patch info.

Shark- You are not a bad Adam (Mythbusters) but remember, there is Jamie that is on to something lurking right around the corner, and it is usually something no one speculated about.

I almost am Adam. LOL We both started as stagehands and then went on to work in movies. I read his bio and I could copy and paste it in into my resume.

I know about the unexpected, on the morning of 9/11 I was worried about how quickly they could get in helicopters to rescue the people above the burning floors. That was my only concern.

You flew 9/11 rescue chopper flights. No sh*t? The greatest thing I ever did will happen Monday. That and I once saved a man from drowning, but I had my long board that day. I could have saved old Elvis.

I did not fly at all, I was talking about my concerns, not my job. :-)

Sorry, you took me by surprise for a second. You are in the entertainment business, no?

I would like to ask another question, what were the pressure readings after other WW's were sealed? What were the reading on IXTOC-1 and the recent Australian well after it was stopped? Normal well pressure declines can be dismissed as no normal well produces 50,000-100,000 barrels a day.

Shark, I am glad to have you on board as a concerned fellow. This site deserves all the accolades that have been showered upon it. Knowlegeble industry insiders giving frank and honest input to a multitude of well meaning but sorely misguided souls, rehashing previously addressed issues who lack the education and experience to even understand the answer to the questions they have posed. I submit that a anyone who's background is removed from science, let's say rooted in fantasy (a la Hollywood) has little wiggle room while condemning opinions from those with intimate knowledge of the physics and real world engineering issues at play. The loss of signal to noise is less related to the administrators of this site, but more a result of their HUGE ability to suffer fools, while understanding the need to mitigate the distress of the poor ignorant souls who are at least concerned and curious enough to try to understand what is really happening.

Thanks Tuna, I studied engineering in college and it helped me to create some of the special effects that I worked on while in Hollywood. Fantasy is for the writers, people who work on the set have to deal with the real world. I did not mean to criticize the admins of this site. I applaud them for for their tolerance. I just don't think that this is a good venue for conspiracy theories.

I completely agree with you. The last thread was all over the place with conspiracies and noise. As you already mentioned, there are sites that deal with those 24/7, and one of the main things why plenty of us visit TOD regularly is because of how focused on the real situation/engineering it is.

That being said, I hadn't laughed as much as I did on the last thread, it was refreshing to break the normal course of action, but that was more than enough. :)

Shark, I can't make sense out of the question. Pressure readings where? Bottom of the hole, or the surface? By the way, if a well produces 50,000 bbls per day, it can have a very nice pressure drawdown and buildup performance. It all depends on the fine print. So I'd say it's a bit early to dismiss anything. Now, if you try to clarify your questions, and parse them, then maybe I can answer a thing or two.

And you can tell us, how come when you guys in Hollywood blow up cars and houses, you always use gasoline? I've seen plenty or real explosions, and the only time I see so much flame is when something with a lot of gasoline or napalm goes off.

Thank you fdoleza for the reply, I was referring to readings like BP is now getting, I can see how such readings from other events might not be available. I see that you watch Mythbusters, I do makeup special effects. If someone has a limb cut off and it twitches while laying on the floor, I'm the guy who built the limb and is making it twitch. I haven't worked doing that in 15 years. I used to do Pyro until the laws changed and now I need a licence to do it. I can't even fire a blank from a handgun without a permit and licence.

Shark, Ixtoc was killed by the RW's only. They never were able to shut the BOP for long, so they got no shut-in pressure:

"In late June, the shutoff effort almost succeeded. Operating out of a bell, divers managed to find their way to the BOP stack and hook in choke-and-kill lines leading from a flat-top work barge called Able Turtle. The barge pumped seawater and 10-pound mud into the well through the lines to bring the pressure down. The BOP rams closed off the flow, the well showered down, and the fire went out. However, another break occurred in the well head. As pressure built, the rams were reopened to release the flow, and the fire was reignited to consume as much oil as possible."

This and more information is from the book referenced in


As of July 9, (80 day mark) BP had reported 756,000 barrels of oil accounted for (between recovery, flaring, ...). Here's an estimate of potential fines depending on how is decided much was leaking (Note only partial of sheet shown here).

Column 1 = Collection rate %
Column 2 = Escaped collection
Column 3 = Per day avg
Column 4 = Fine (in millions) @$4,300 per barrel

10% 6,803,100       85,039       29,253
15% 4,283,433       53,543       18,419
20% 3,023,600       37,795       13,001
25% 2,267,700       28,346       9,751
30% 1,763,767       22,047       7,584
35% 1,403,814       17,548       6,036
40% 1,133,850       14,173       4,876
45%   923,878       11,548       3,973
50%   755,900       9,449       3,250
55%   618,464       7,731       2,659
60%   503,933       6,299       2,167
65%   407,023       5,088       1,750
70%   323,957       4,049       1,393
75%   251,967       3,150       1,083
80%   188,975       2,362       813
85%   133,394       1,667       574
90%     83,989             1,050 361
95%     39,784       497       171
100% - -

In other words if 85mbd of oil escaped (worst case scenario), then the max fine would be under $30b. Not chump change but not unmanageable for a company that records profits in excess of $20b a year.

A question for anyone:

The stoppage of oil flowing into the gulf is great! I'm sure just about everyone other than conspiracists and those who bet against BP stock are elated as I am.

My questions are:

How much public/political pressure will BP experience to keep the well shut in even if ideally they would allow the well to resume flow until the RW would kill it?

If BP is feeling pressure to keep the well shut in and if the evidence gathered recently is marginal suggesting it would probably be better to allow the well to flow again to protect the wellbore, would BP take increased risks to please those who don't want more oil into the gulf or would BP do the best it can to protect the wellbore from further damage even at the risk of further condemnation?

edit, add:

If it came down to 50/50 does BP flip a coin?

Heads = keep well shut in, keep people pleased, hope no further damage

Tails = open flow to gulf to minimize risk to wellbore


I would assume that there will be a lot of political/public pressure for them to keep the well shut in. Hopefully sound science and experience will prevail and the decision will be made per that. I'm sure the whole team, which of course includes the scientific team, CG, BP and experts from basically every major oil company will go for protecting the wellbore even if it was a even 50/50 as the risks for not doing so would be worse. If they study the data and feel the wellbore can handle the closure then politics/public opinion may have them keep it shut in until the RW kills the well.

"... Hopefully sound science and experience will prevail and the decision will be made per that. I'm sure the whole team, which of course includes the scientific team, CG, BP and experts from basically every major oil company will go for protecting the wellbore..."

That's what I'm hoping for.

Do you think BP would keep the well shut in only if they were 100% sure the wellbore wouldn't be further damaged?

If so, how long until the well flows again?

Thanks, just curious

Personally, from what I've read and heard (not that I'm in the oil/gas industry) I don't think BP will have much say in deciding whether or not to keep the well shut in. They will provide their recommendation with the analysis to back up their position. The coast guard, government scientists, etc will also weigh in with their opinions and analysis. There will no doubt be a lot of discussions on which analysis is more accurate and why. In the end, the incident commander, Thad Allen will make the final call whether to keep the well shut in.

How much public/political pressure will BP experience to keep the well shut in even if ideally they would allow the well to resume flow until the RW would kill it?

Why would there be political pressure? They will go to a production systems with mulitple ships and "produced" all the oil.. All they need to say is that "out of abandency of caution, we don't want a subsea blowout. and it is concurred by government scientist lead by Dr Chu" then the deed is done..

I think that's a false choice. What they will do is keep the stack rams shut (so now oil flows to the gulf) while producing as much as they can (or as much as they need to) from Q4000, Helix Producer, and perhaps other ships if need be. That should provide flow to ease pressure and minimize risk to the wellbore. The only circumstance I can imagine them shutting the well down entirely is if a storm forces all the production vessels off station.

BP has one particular incentive to not pull oil out; given that now no oil is leaking, we can derive a better LOWER bound on the flow number by measuring how much oil they can collect in one day. If they let it flow freely up all their pipes to the surface, and it turns out to be definitely 50,000 barrels per day, then the floor on the possible fine goes up.

And we, in turn, are interested in what that number might be.

I agree, BP certainly has incentive not to resume containment since capture capacity has increased to ~50k bpd, and will be 80k bpd soon. Right now the only thing anyone can say definitively is that it's leaking more than 25k bpd. I think the question is, will Thad Allen and/or Obama decide measuring the flow rate is worth the additional pollution into the gulf and any risks to the well by opening and possibly closing the cap again later on.

Here's an estimate of potential fines depending on how is decided much was leaking (Note only partial of sheet shown here).

And how would that set of number stand up in court? Up to this point, it is just flow rate estimated and there is a wide range of number generated within the group. The flow rate and the mix of oil/ng change every instance. So how do the court decide a "fair" number of bbl leak to GOM to assess penalty??? That is one reason why BP never gave any estimate.. Any estimate they give will be used as an admission that the nubmer is accurate.. It will be a negotiate settlement and drag on for years.. The size of penalty will depend on whether the administration at the time want to have drilling in GOM or not. The 75 million liability limit was passed in a time when government want to bring E&P back into GOM. And the current administration obviously doesn't want drilling to go on so they "negotiate" with BP and BP "voluntary" wave the limet. if the penalty is too serve, no one will want to drill in GOM. even with the best of plan and most conservative decision making process, any rig can be Deepsea Horizon if the right combination of circumstance materialize. And if a mistake in drilling mean bk of a company, who would want to drill here. What if the company is ATPG or one of the small operator? They certainly doesn't have the capital to pay for the clean up or damage, let alone the penalty.. So how can they cotinue to drill in GOM?

xo: see Hayward Sees Abu Dhabi Prince as BP Looks for Support:

Also, see BP is talking to Apache about selling its Alaska assets:

I think this is a reasonable worst-case scenario for BP's spill. I am going to guess that BP will be successful in lowering the number considerably.

1) BP will say the government has had teams from day 1 estimating the flow. On day 1 that estimate was 1,000 bpd, rising to 5,000 bpd, then upwards. As BP contained more and more, the numbers got larger. I think if you do a daily tally (according to gov't estimates) of the spill, and subtract BP's daily tally of capture rate, you get much more modest numbers. From recollection, about half of this disaster, that estimate was 5,000 bpd or less. And I think BP can reasonably insist on using the government's numbers (how can anyone today 'prove' the spill was not 1,000 bpd for the first month?).

2) BP will argue they don't deserve the more punitive $4000+/barrel fine, but the $1000/barrel fine because they have cooperated with the government and agreed to all of their demands.

3) Finally, BP will say they've already paid their fine, they're just paying it directly to the impacted people via the escrow fund. They will point out that no one else has taken any financial responsibility (their equity partners, the rig owner, etc - BP has paid it all). Sort of like if someone did 100 hours of community service before getting sentenced for 100 hours of community service, maybe the judge says OK you already paid for your crime. My guess is the fine was part of the negotiations with Obama, but of course it would be a behind-the-scenes verbal agreement.

I would suspect that this is going to be the case. Some of the above won't wash - the cleanup and compensation costs are not part of the fine - you can't do 100 hours community service ahead of time for doing $1000 propertly damage and expect not to have to pay for the damage as well.

Fines are intended as a deterent. And these particular fines deliberately have no cap because it was perceived that the spills could indeed be of arbitrary size, and caused by companies for which capped fines were essentially a cost of doing business. Which pretty much sums up BP's operations to date (along with remarkable list of other well known companies I might add.)

But there is a clear quid-pro-quo here. BP could have hidden behind the 75M$ cap on damages. This would have left the
government with a pretty evil situation. They could go for the $4000/bbl fine, but be left with a devastated coast and economy that the fine would not cover - and as we know - the chances of a fine that goes into consolidated revenue ever coming out again to help those that need it, in a timely fashion, is remote at best.

So BP could do a verbal deal - don't hit us with punitive fines and we will play ball on the rest. It isn't a hard decision for a government to make. Overall, those most affected by the spill benefit vastly more, and now. BP does actually pay a lot more money - but they also know that they have a long game to play - including the risk of being squeezed so hard over the coming years that an additional 15-20G$ is easily worth it.

And as observed above - this issue has got far too big to be left at the simple legal level. When you are talking this much money, the implications are vast, complex, and can rebound hard and fast. If the US government was to go in hard against BP they would signal a sea change in the US, one which would reverberate around the planet. Suddenly the US becomes a bad place to do business. Not just the GOM exploration vanishing with a strategicly critical oil reserve going away, but other companies in other lines of business will see similar issues. And it signals to other countries that US companies operating on their land may be fair game too. No government, of any leaning, would want this. It goes beyond party politics and becomes a straight down the line sovereign integrity issue.

Handling issues as potentially explosive and damaging as this is what the true worth of a government is judged by. What you won't know for 50 years is what deals were really done. Which is SOP and always has been.

mfpporto on July 15, 2010 - 9:06 pm
“While everybody was cheering http://bp.isevil.org (frame 54013) has 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 ?”

Joaquin Menendez on July 15, 2010 - 10:56 pm
“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”.

jesse.ingram on Jujy 16, 2010 - 12:36 am
“This ROV definitely showed what appeared to be bubbles violently coming from the seabed”.

levi on July 16, 2010 - 1:19 am
“But like you, I know what I saw...and I'm not the only one who saw it”

mfpporto on July 16, 2010 - 10:33 am
“What I saw: BUBBLES erupting from the undisturbed sand, clearly focused at short distance”..

levi on July 16, 2010 - 11:12 am
“Unfortunately, we don't know what boat/ROV provided that feed. And without that info, we can't look for it's AIS position data”.

captbob on July 16, 11:09 am
“Yesterday there was some imagery that was far from quiet. There seemed to be mini belches of gas and oil at close range. Someone up thread mentioned this, and I saw the same”.

Being a fact that at least five of us have seen an ROV looking at bubbles coming out of the sea floor after the well was closed, that means that the same video images have been examined at the GHQ.

So, if we really saw what we think we have seen, we can only suppose that the people up there will not run any risk and the final decision will be to return to the containment process that goes together with the spillage of part of the oil into the gulf again, in spite of the high political cost of this decision.

Soon will we know.


This comes up about 8 times every day. If there is ever a real sea floor leak, the bubbles won't be tiny.

Aren't bubbles normal? When you lay down a bunch of sediment with organics in it ,as the Mississippi has done, it decomposes. I see bubbles in lakes and swamps all the time. A stream of gas would be a different story though. I have not seen that yet.

Yep, and amazingly there are living things down there going about their business. I say a rather large eel swim up in front of the ROV camera monitoring the well head. He looked surprisingly healthy consider what is going on in his neighborhood!

I saw that guy too. He looked irritated.

LOL! I would be too! It is amazing that a big guy like that can make a living in that cold, deep darkness, let alone deal with all the oil, methane, drilling mud, and endless volumes of Corexit. That's a tough life!

No kidding. "Now what, lights? Lights! There goes the damn neighborhood."

I quit worrying about methane leaks after I saw him.

Maybe the eels evolved in 3 months to breathe liquid methane. Also, CROCODUCKS.

I thought that eel was YOU Snakehead, swimming down to check things out.

I looked specifically for belches and bubbles because posts I was reading were alarming me but I couldn't see what I was looking for. I tried. In any case the statements have been consistent: the most likely place to see evidence of a breech is around the base of the BOP and there hasn't been any evidence of that.

It's called Mississippi Canyon for a reason and it's unlikely you or anyone will find disturbed or undisturbed sand of any kind on the floor of the GoM in this region. I was watching 12 feeds and I didn't see what you think you saw. I didn't see the ROV that levi recollects going to 5770' either. Can you just imagine the ROV pilots collecting all the imaginary and comparing it to reality. The next time you get a shot of hydrates settling to the floor with good lighting tell us what you see.

TH-7 is suppose to be installed on the top vent (drill pipe ) and the connections to the Helix is suppose to facilitate full capture and processing capabilities. Done I am assuming at all political costs.

Are you hoping for more environmental disaster at whatever the cost may be? What make you not so sure of what you saw? Your last paragraph started "So, (pause) if we really saw what we think.."

As I was watching the ROV feeds this afternoon (14:00 to around 16:30), one of the ROV's (not sure if it was Skandi 2 or Poseidon 1) was cruising across the seafloor at a depth of between 5690' and 5724'. I say "cruising" because it was moving forward at a considerable speed. I saw lots of seafloor and occasional pipe (hose...maybe 3 to 5 inches) laying on the seafloor. I was curious what it was doing (and where it was or if the depth guage was off) because the mudline has been reported at somewhere around 5023' (give or take a few feet)

Check the most recent closed thread. The ROV labeled as Viking Poseidon #1 is at MC383, 'Kepler' field. Totally different location. Don't know if the ROV on that feed is/was even working from the Viking Poseidon, may have just been a recycled akamai feed; the layout of the OSD was totally different from anything used previously by the actual Viking Poseidon ROVs when they were onsite at MC252.


Scroll down to Kepler. ~5800fsw. Nowhere even close to the MC252 site is there 5800fsw. The ROV would have to be under 1/8 mile of mud.

Actually, comfychair, you *can* exceed 6000 feet depths just a couple miles south of the Macondo site.

I keep wondering why there would be a low-res feed transmitted from ROVs that are not associated with the spill. Is it apparently NOT normal practice to xmit ROV video unless requested by a client or somebody on shore. The high-res video gets recorded on board, of course.

That was what is called a rethorical question, made out of respect for the opinion of other people.

I don't think it's OK to be adamant, saying things like "Bubbles? there are no bubbles" or "if there is ever a real sea floor leak, the bubbles won't be tiny" (how can one be sure of that???). Opinions should be expressed without imposing on others who think differently.

Science and physics don't depend on opinion.

For anyone who has ever dived or snorkeled in the ocean, bubbles coming from the seabed are not at all uncommon. I live in Hawaii, and see bubbles all the time. Bubbles are not evidence of a leak.

You may know this, but the Norwegian ships Boa Sub C, Boa Deep C and Skandi Neptune were heavily involved in the process of closing the leak, using the ROV Skandi. I just read this occasionally in a Norwegian newspaper, other may have more details.

New poster...great site...

A couple thoughts. Reservoir limits/damage seems very likely as opposed to some serious casing loss, but does anyone see a chance that pressure is being mitigated by flow back down the outside of the tapered string and out into the sediments in the un-cemented section below the deepest casing? Cross-flow deepers sounds reasonable, but does anybody know if the logs at the reservoir level have been released? I assume both sand were oil-charged?

I am afraid that the ROV photos are not so compelling as evidence of total casing integrity as the post seems to imply. But I assume these are stills from prolonged video that sweep a somewhat larger area and show nothing? In any case, I feel that having ROVs monitor the seafloor is sound practice in such a case and not simple political expediency as suggested in the post.

Where did this 9,000psi that they were expecting at the BOP come from. ? From my simplistic calculations, the 6,700psi is roughly what I expected. Admittedly there are a lot of figures we use that we just cant get the real info on.
The pressure showing Topside will be dependent on the average weight of the Oil/NG in the column, and we have no accurate information on this. And I say Average weight because the Oil/NG will be more heavy at bottom of well, As it gets higher up the casing it will get lighter due to the expanding Gas it contains. Same goes for seawater pressure at BOP, we can only estimate real density from our calculations, Water gets heavier as it gets colder. So anything we calculate we have to allow a tolerance or Fudge Factor.
So the best we can do is arrive at figures that are somewhere near the True values.
I have knocked up a little program I use to enter new values as they become available, It gives a reasonably accurate picture of what to expect. I had a link to it in an earlier post - But have now updated it to include pressure readings (within a reasonable range.)

You can get a copy here to check it out, Hopefully it may be helpfull.


Top rockhead @ University of Houston said 7,000 PSI. Previously posted.

The 9000 psi came from subtracting a fluid column increment of about 3000 psi from the approx 12000 psi original bottom hole pressure. If the reservoir is large enough the pressure drawdown from production was expected to be small. They were wishing.

I think we all made the calculation and unless the column of fluid is much lighter than standard oil densities, you don't get 9 ksi, you get 6.5-7 ksi. I thought the difference was psia-psig discrepancy, but folks said no.


i think you got some bad infomration bud
psia = 14.7psi + psig

so whatever modeling you would have would be impacted a lil sliver at best....

the only difference we have in this case is...and where you could've gone wrong in ur assumption was for this case
psia = pressure SW (due to 5000 colum of SW) + psig

psia is absolute pressure which means ambient pressure....so we take psia= psig+14.7 on sea level since 14.7psi is the pressure exerted by the atmosphere .....5000' below SW the ambient pressure would be the pressure exerted by a 5000' colum of SW

always easier to go by psig ...since that way you are always reading a well in its own context....psig is kinda like a voltmeter if that's easier to visualize...a voltmeter measure the potential drop across two points in a closed system and psig similarly measures the pressure drop across two points in a system

==psia = 14.7psi + psig==

Not true actually, at least at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Psia = Pressure(ambient) + psig, where ambient is the immediate environment outside the pressurized system under measurement.

is the correct equation.

Atmospheric pressure has no relevance at these depths. 2250 psi does, as it determines the differential pressure on the BOP components and it is the psig number that would be used in a stress calculations for the BOP structure, for example.

Yours is a common mistake. But so maybe mine, if the convention is always to report AND measure in psia.

so read my post again ... i really don't follow your line of thought...cuz this is what i said so where is the disagreement ?

2250 psi is actually ambient in 5000' DW's......so how is my line of thought wrong ?

You should reread your own post and then read mine.

You gave a wrong equation for psia and from it concluded that the final value is impacted "a sliver", because you used 14.7 psi for ambient - a rather large mistake for an ambient condition at the bottom of the ocean, where ambient is 2250 psi.

At the bottom of the ocean, where P(ambient) is 2250 psi, it is if fact critical to understand whether the gauges are giving you psia or psig, and if the pressures reported are in psia or psig.

Now, it may be a standard convention to always report in psia and always use psia gauges, with sealed, evacuated inner cavities, when doing these kind of measurement at the bottom of the ocean. I don't know - asking questions of those who do.

Psia = Pressure(ambient) + psig,

huh ? psia is the abreviation for absolute pressure, pounds per square inch absolute. ambient pressure can be expressed in either absolute or guage, psia or psig.

I take your point, but I don't think oil is that light. I usually work in density's as compared to water. ie: Avgas roughly 0.690. Gasoline usually in the 0.740 range, Diesel and heavier Fuel Oils usually in the 0.850 and upwards range.

So for a column oil that was light enough to only create a column weight of about 3,000 psi it would need a density of about 0.500 (4.34ppg) thats about half the weight of water, and if it was that light it would float up to surface real quick. So I think Oil is heavier than a lot of the figures floating around.


So I still don't get the 8-9 ksi objective for this test.

Dimitry, I speculated above, and I do mean speculate, that after shut off, gas goes out of solution in the column, displacing oil, reducing column density and causing a rise in pressure after shutoff. So the amount of pressure to subtract from reservoir is less than the pressure of a column of pure oil. This would mean a higher pressure final pressure than 6700 psig, or psia, I haven't sorted out that argument yet.

Is 4.34 ppg really so out of line for oil+gas in this reservoir? Methane at 11900 psi and 150F has a density about 0.3 -- and there's an awful lot of methane in the mixture.

I asked some questions about mixing vs. solubility above, but if you could model the volume of oil+(supercritical fluid)methane as (volume oil)+(volume methane), at reservoir depth we'd be looking at roughly 1 bbl oil + 1 bbl methane -- which means the methane would bring down the oil density a lot.

All I know about oil is what I picked up at TOD in the last few weeks, so if I'm way off or missing something, please let me know...

Thought about this, and it is a valid point. Gas would lower weight, but I don't think it would be this much. It well could be, information on this is lacking. And Methane expands by a factor of about 600:1 from bottom of well to the Top. So BP will have more information on Gas content than us. So is possible that weight difference could be explained by Gas content.


here's a lil stab at how the expected pressure would be calculated...

you know what pressure (P) is at the bottom ...11,900 ...so you account for the geomotry of the hole and flow path dia's and first take out frictional losses for fluid to travel along the pipe in the hole....this should theoretically give u the P at the BOP stack....however since fluid moving uphole is a loose matrix of HC's ....which escape the surface tension and into gas phase at varying press/temp so going uphole gasses will come out .....how much and at what depth within the hole depends on preesure and temp .......this uncertainty cannot be accounted for without PVT data.....so you model this decreases in friction for fluid moving uphole since lighter less viscous fluid will travel with less frictional losses than a viscous fluid..... loosely speaking this will give you the total pressure losses and you can subtract that from 11,900 to reach shutin pressure.......lotsa fine tunings can be made to account for the situation on hand but this is essentially the process...IMHO it is difficult to run an accurate model with PVT data ..you can model but the model is only as good as your faith in the model....i know form experience the well modeling software they would be using would be taking into account all sorts of small things even....then you can anticipate what kind of pressure support is being had form whatever pressure communication is open in shallower sands.....losta things they can incorporate to give themselves a good chance of creating a good model....but in the end that 9,000 is not a cutoff ...a 9000 is not a pass or fail....the only real result you get in an int test is that of a pass or fail.... its going ot be more headache for engineers if the result it somewhere around 6700 or 6800 ...then you got some int but not good int .....how do you use that to your adv during bottom kill.....i've said before 7,000 plus (held) is a good number since pressure loss is to be anticipated ....folks who ran the model would know better but the only number an int test is the fail number ...beyond that is qualitative and not quantitative.....experience with reading the situation in context counts then

even then still ....had an old timer once tell me a lil advise on modeling well behavior.....he said something like " modeling is just like masturbation....you put your mind to it and do it long enough...you start believing it's the real thing" :)

aliilaali - Your explanation is roughly how I figured it. But I'm no expert so doing calculations with all the things you mention is a bit beyond me. The calculations for a flowing fluid are quite complicated. But once well was capped I did my (Rough Harry.) calculations based on no Flow. Its easier with a static column to work out what pressures should be, just by going on weight and height of various components in well. And the main thing I'm not sure of is weight of the Oil - Best I can up with is only a Guestimate.

Even trying to calculate Pressures from flowing oil would be pretty hard to do - Even if you knew weight of oil and pressure in BOP under shear Rams, Calculations would not help unless you knew size off opening in the damaged shear Rams, What is the Pressure Drop across that flow restriction - No one knows for sure - Most are only taking a stab in the dark (Same as me.)
That advice the Old Timer Gave you sums it up pretty well. LOL

aliilaali just needs to learn to break down his paragraphs so I can study his material. I don't know about you guys, but I got lost in there and had to read it a couple of times.

Sticks, it would take God to figure out how to model this well, because the flow path is a deeper mistery than the Trinity's nature.

Read the Kent Wells transcript a few minutes ago. I would love to have aliilaali in there asking questions, this way we can get more info to run our models.

fdoleza - I agree, I even think god would need a big sliderule to work this one out. So working out the Dynamics of a flowing fluid is a bit beyond me, Turbulence, Friction and the shape (and condition) of the Casing make it a difficult job.
The calculator I made was just modeled on a static well, No Flow. And I'll be the first to admit, it only gives numbers that are in the ballpark. Thought it may be a help to people without much understanding of what is going on.

The last part of your post, I agree, we need access to more accurate data before we can really work out anything. At the moment we are just groping around in the dark.

Static solution is just fine for this kind of model.

Can you add in a thermal gradient as a function of height?

Can you add in a thermal gradient as a function of height?

That would be hard, not much info about it, its 225 degree at well bottom from what I saw in Well Schematics, Not sure what it is at BOP (very cold I would imagine.) And I don't think it would make a really big difference.
As I said in a previous post - we need to know the AVERAGE weight of Oil - So you could gather data if you can find it then work out average for yourself.

Program was only intended as a Quick and Dirty Calculator.

What "frictional losses" are you, pardon me, talking about in a shut-in well? It is by definition not moving.

It would seem that the temperature differential and non-ideal fluid behavior of the oil/gas mixture would be the only complex varibales here.

As far as "modeling being like masturbation", everyone can do the latter...

the frictional losses that you don't think about bud .....a flowing well when shut-in is not a steady behavior and modeled as a dynamic behavior.....same way the topkill will have been modeled as dynamic cuz there is a dynamic seal that forms....so you need to model this as PSS and not SS during the int test since this is a blownout well in flow... .......cuz the fluid inside the wellbore which is of concern is dynamic ....this is why PVT data can make or break the model

[edit] and which is exactly why the whole int test was a ballsy move by BP cuz the well behavior modeling team had little to go on but ended up convincing BP to run with that int test at this point

What exactly is moving in a shut in well?

Why don't you drop the jargon abbreviations and explain what you mean?

There is a thermal difference, which can lead to an interesting pressure gradient as a function of height, but it isn't very large and in a shut in vertical system like this will lead to no net flow.

The well will stabilize to a steady state solution, for sure.

That's why, I guess it is possible, by listening very carefully to "hear" the leaks...

Frictional losses are in Flowing Well - Shut in well don't have Turbulence and frictional losses, that's why I said its easier to do basic calculations on Static well.

But I need a window to put in my own estimate of the hycrocarbon column. Do you have access to one of those old books written by Kermit Brown? It has the weight of hydrocarbon columns for different API and GOR values.

I could easily put in another window to enter more data in, but unless you can supply a reasonably simple formula that I can plug into the code it would be meaningless.

No I have not got access to books you mention, but I seem to recall when I was working in the Oil Industry the API Conversion books were quite large.

Re Matt Simmons theory that this is just a hoax sideshow to the real leak, discussed on the first thread.... Thanks for the search hints, contrary to some rude commenters I had done a preliminary search of Matt Simmons but it looked like he had not been mentioned in recent months. Strange algorithm it uses perhaps.
Anyway I have now chased up some of the prior discussions and oh surprise, I do not find the claim that it has been decisively debunked to be remotely true. Just people tend to see their own views confirmed in any data I guess. Count those who agree with you and delete those who don't, et voila the vote is won as usual.
For now I remain sitting on the fence but with a very large dose of disbelief of anything BP says. Soon will know I guess.

The blog comments are not indexed, only the topic discussion for the day.

You can start reading here http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6572
or a day or two previous and you will find it comes every day, throughout the day. Most of us are just tired of re-hashing it over and over at this point.

Feel free to read it all in the archives on every date since it came up. You will find a ton of discussion on the subject.

Is it safe to say no matter what is presented you are sticking with MS? There is a complete thread +1+1 devoted to addressing MS & DougR. Read the last note on this thread (the opening notes from Prof. Goose) with the link to you guessed it......! You know most of the folks here are really OK with your opinion, it's just not their's.

Nah. If they get this well killed there'll always be that mystery hole out about 6 miles, that unseen lake of oil, the methane volcano ready to erupt. Etc. Take care to not get splinters.

RP, you might be interested in this scenario:

See "Chasm in GOM is the actual original well site" comment at godlikeproductions.com

I hate to re-post , but I think this got lost somehow.
What were the pressure readings after other WW's were sealed? What were the readings on IXTOC-1 and the recent Australian well after it was stopped? Normal well pressure declines can be dismissed (in my uninformed opinion) as no normal well produces 50,000-100,000 barrels a day.

Are you saying you hve listened to audio or read transcripts of what Simmons has postulated and still are on the fence as to his credibility? Naw, say it isn't so!

rpclarke, in this universal continuum, it has been debunked, please don't give the locals any indication that you may be from elsewhere, they may disect you. We made it, dude.

It is not up to the denizens of TOD to debunk Simmons' theories.

It is up to Simmons to prove that his claims are true.

If Simmons is challenging conventional wisdom, the laws of physics, common sense, etc., then he needs to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt why he is the sane one and everyone else is nuts.

Simmons claims that BP were drilling a well which blew out. The BOP and thousands of feet of casing flew out of the sea floor a mile underwater and impaled themselves back into the sediment six miles away. Luckily, the casing happened to spear through an oil field and the BOP started leaking a small amount of oil which formed the plume and slick we all saw. BP were delighted at this turn of events because it allowed them to show an oil plume and busy ROVs on camera, which distracted the public's attention.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by everyone except BP and Simmons, the old well, now with no BOP or casing, is still spewing horrendous quantities of oil into the gulf. This oil does not rise to the surface and form a slick which can be seen, but settles out in a vast underwater lake of oil floating somewhere between the sea floor and the surface. Nothing has been done about this blowout because it is impossible to stop it except with a nuclear bomb.

This vast lake of oil has never been found. Dr. Joye has been searching for many weeks but all she has been able to detect are trace amounts of hydrocarbons (i.e. oil and/or dissolved methane) in plumes so diluted that the oil in her sample bottles is mostly invisible. (See her Gulf Blog.)

Have I got the story right so far?

Because there's one important element missing. The Deepwater Horizon, which went down in flames with the loss of eleven lives. The only way this can be tied in with Simmons's story is if BP deliberately set the DWH on fire to fake a blowout at the Macondo site.

And that is an allegation I cannot accept.

Sounds pretty much like Simmon's story. You do describe another rather difficult to hide problem for Simmons. He asserts that the location of the current relief well drill platforms, collection, production, and all the associated support ships is six miles away from where the Deepwater Horizon was drilling. Now that is a really difficult thing to fake.

The loony conspiracy theorists claim that since the US government is on on the scam (clearly within hours of the blowout) that they have used their ability to fiddle with the GPS system to move the apparent location of all these ships and platforms to think they at the DWH's coordinates. Something that shows an astounding lack of knowlwege about how GPS works (hint, so nothing else in the GOM noticed that they had moved too? or that there are weird changes in apparent location that don't match the distance you travelled?)

We can have a look at the satelite images too. Check that the location on the images is the same or different. Of course the US government will fix their satelite images so it looks OK, and will have a chat with the Europeans to make sure that their pictures are also fiddled. So it isn't just the US government and BP, it really is the NWO!! My goodness!! Even the Brits are in on it. Not to mention the Russians and Chinese. Of course the latter are in on it because they want to buy up the bits of BP left over. And so it goes.

Of course the crew of any boat that has the temerity to navigate to the DWH location using a compass will have to be quietly disposed off. But that is what the black helicopters are for.

The story is of course that conspiracy theories are impossible to disprove, since you can always invoke even wider conspiracy.

My challenge to those that insist that Simmons has even a shred of credibility left is to have them propose an agreed test to decide the truth of this - to be tested in, say, three months. Propose it now. Agree that if the event has not come to pass that the story was without basis. Then we can take bets. My bet is that either the test will be so wishy washy as to be valueless(*), or we will never hear from them again. Simmons has made some clear claims, any of his supports willing to put themselves behind one or two of them for a future test?

(*) Lake of oil found would be a good one - but they will claim the USGov has subverted all the survey ships and researchers. So they won't be prepared to do anything other than vigorously claim it is still there. Etc, etc, ad nauseam.

NASA is saved! Here's the deal. From now on we launch casing and BOPs into low earth orbit. (Gonna need that heavy lift capability.) Using recycled ROV pilots flying space ROVs, we assemble complete casing strings and wellhead assemblies. Then, as soon as a drilling permit is received, we fire the retro-rocket and 90 minutes or so later, voila!, we have an oil well. What could be simpler and cleaner? Think of the time savings. Surface casing? We don't need no stinking surface casing. Lost circulation? Thing of the past.

Must be destiny that NASA Mission Control and so much oil business are both in Houston.

This is why the federal government is lazy and incompetent. Rather than have this waste declared hazardous, they can now go to WalMart, buy a cheap tarp, black duct tape, and become a waste baron.

From today's photobucket. http://s892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/tinfoilhatguy/GS-OB%20July%2020...
More leaky dumpsters and now duct tape instead of bungees. I expect an arm to be hanging out by next week. This is Waste Management we are talking about. Don't they trade under ticker LCN?

I looked up RCRA SUBTITLE D REGULATIONS which are the landfill regulations that BP is operating under. these regulations concern the disposal of non-hazardous waste which is what oil is still considered to be. I see a problem with compliance in this section,

Run-on/run-off control: Must have a plan to design, construct and maintain a control system to prevent flow onto an active area from the peak discharge of a 25-year storm and to collect and control the water volume resulting from a 24-hour, 25-year storm.

How can you guarantee that near the coast?

http://df3.datafield.com/df32online/ECRSPortal/site%20folder/pdf/techtip... for the full document.

13 miles inland and 350 feet above mean sea level. Non-issue. The PR angle will work. It also has advantages.
1. Allows me to hand off the project to business/city government. I have to study soon.
2. Allows me to use Blogosphere numbers as data.
3. I can count the current loss of tourism as mainly a loss of eco-tourism.
4. The folks around here are ready to reduce burial rates to national averages so we can start bragging.
5. Provide more free basic recycled materials for the community. Monitor usage to ensure no additional hazards to environment.
6. Allows me to include the non-scientific to the party. Once you get local business on a project, they tend to overrule other interests.
7. Cleans up our image moving forward. If Jacksonville Florida can do it, we can do it. They used the image issue first and then the economics started to prove themselves.

Good point about the elevation, I wonder about the flood protection though. Here in Houston I have seen entire freeways go underwater during a flood if the pumps fail. These landfills will be "Superfund" sites in 10 years. That's OK because it will help the local economy.

Yea but Houston is the only city in the Gulf South that builds its freeways as drainage ditches, I-10 and 59 are 30 feet below surrounding land level.

Good point Ded, however no Houston freeways will ever flood again. They have been designated as reservoirs now. So now when they fill up, it is to relieve the flooding. I wish that I was kidding, I'm not though. Using the main transportation arteries that lead out of the city as a reservoir is just good management. Who would want to leave a flooded city?

True Shark, I live in the Heights, downtown is our retention/reservoir. I figure my 1929 house has made it through all the storms already and I own a generator, I don't leave as DT has to be at the 3rd floor flooding before I have to worry! Been in the Gulf South since '60's and been through 17 storms including the eye of three. Needless to day during Ike my house was cell phone charging center & news center for the neighborhood as well they could come and get a little air conditioning. Keep one window unit in garage for those times.

You mean they did that on PURPOSE? Crap - now I have a new one just down the road from me.....

It's been a while since I knew most of the ticker symbols, but I thought it traded under WM ticker......

Think family.

No more thinking tonight, must be a storm coming in because I have a migraine..maybe tomorrow I'll figure out the LCN/Family

Keep up the good work in GS

Goodnite. Your husband will know and laugh :)

The dumpster movie is ready. Strong language and maximum smart ass was on. I was sober but PO'ed. STRONG LANGUAGE. I call it rated R. You hear that kiddies. Maybe PG-13, but I want to be fair. It is funny to me.


No hubs-been there, done that and knew the first month it was a mistake, I did try for 2 yrs and then said the hell with it, so a hint from any other hubby out there would be great.

Going to watch the video TFHG

Tin Foil, you really need to be careful with this stuff. You COULD end up in the water with your feet attached to a block of cement.

Better to die on my feet than live on my knees. These guys are going to straighten out just like BP. Who do you think would whack me first? Don't worry, I am incognito most of the time. I have certain ways of getting data to some special places and changing the world if I have to. A mac or PC and 2 minutes is all I need.

The dumpster video is a classic. Deserves to go viral.

In recent days the ROV pilots have received many well-deserved accolades.

Kudos, too, to the on-shore crews that came before them - the ones who built the ROVs, clearly tough guys all.

Undersea robots are heros of Gulf of Mexico oil spill fight

Most of the robots or remotely operated vehicles used to combat the leak were manufactured in Morgan City by Oceaneering, which has built about half of the 500 ROVs in use worldwide, said Mark Campbell, the company's manufacturing manager.

Noting that Oceaneering employees operate the company's 16 ROVs deployed in the Gulf, Campbell said it was a "huge relief" when the 87-day flow of oil was at least temporarily stopped Thursday by a robot-installed sealing cap.

"There were guys running around here with tears in their eyes," Campbell said. "We're not some huge detached conglomeration. We build these vehicles right here on the Gulf of Mexico. This is our back yard."

Undersea robots are heros of Gulf of Mexico oil spill fight

They are working on a 3D model!. It's mentioned at the end of this article.

I can think of a few improvements for those things. Need to check to see if they can be patented. Imagine, if NASA hadn't got stuck spending all that money on the Space Shuttle, robotics would be much more advanced, and those ROVs would work like Transformers.

I have a Zalman Trimon, which is a 3D monitor. I think I payed about $300 for it. 3D really helps to judge depth and I can't believe that it is not already the norm for remote operations. It uses polarized glasses to see alternating right/left eye scan lines. In 3D mode I only get half of the resolution as I get in standard mode, but the 3D really helps me judge distance in games. If I set it correctly, I get little discomfort from the 3D.

"There were guys running around here with tears in their eyes," Campbell said. "We're not some huge detached conglomeration. We build these vehicles right here on the Gulf of Mexico. This is our back yard."

God bless 'em. The more accolades, the better. But I just screeched when I came to the last paragraph:

"You can call the robots heroes," he said. "But remember: Behind the robots are a bunch of real people making sure they do what they're supposed to do."

Talk about understating the case!

Dang it, no, you can't "call the robots heroes." You can't even call them robots--they're remotely operated vehicles. And the heroes are the operators, without whom the ROVs wouldn't be doing anything but dangling from their tethers with their claws up their noses.


I vote for the guys who designed the ROVs. They remind me of my dad, who did the machinery design for Project Mohole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohole. Ask the guys in the gulf if they use dynamic positioning.

He also did the Glomar Explorer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSF_Explorer , which became somewhat famous for its success in recovering part of a Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific.

Something I have not seen before being shown on Helix Q4000 ROV 2 at 12:30AM EDT on Sat, 17 July:

Helix Q4000 ROV 1 was showing something similar only a full circle.

Now (12:58 AM) both ROVs are showing views of the bottom.

What is this?

I am fairly certain that that is part of the sonar survey they are doing to detect any possible leaks from the sea floor. That is what many of the ROV's are now doing. I think that they call it the Simmons meter.:-)

Thank you, SharkMan. (Sorry to have posted twice. I tried to edit the first post to add a second image, but the result was a separate post -- not what I intended.)

Something I have not seen before being shown on Helix Q4000 ROV 2 at 12:30AM EDT on Sat, 17 July:

Helix Q4000 ROV 1 was showing something similar only a full circle.

At 12:58 AM, both ROVs were showing views of the bottom, then Helix Q4000 ROV 1 switched to this display:

What is this?

They may also have just changed the range and now are seeing things that are more distant.I would guess that the small blips are ships and the big returns are the edges of the canyon. I read in todays Kent Wells briefing that many of the ROV's would be doing sonar surveys.
Check out these briefings from BP, they come out at 7:30 and 2:30 every day.

Seeing some leakage out of one of the large values at the base of the BOP just above the wellhead.


Also, the area around the base looks caved in from what I recall was a flat surface last time I saw it???

For some reason I can't get that link to work. Is this the feed you are looking at? Looks like the depression is on one side only. As it is not possible to discern the attitude of the ROV and camera the apparent lean is probably an illusion. There was a slight weep in the same area being monitored by Skandi2 yesterday.


That is the feed.

Perhaps I have not seen this particular angle before and the image is not very clear. Although I'm sure I saw a small amount of something leaking from one of those pipes, unfortunately it is now out of view.

The camera is now back on the weeping pipe. Does seem to be a bit worse than yesterday.


Seems to be pulsing at 2-3 seconds interval.

They just fleetingly put the camera on it again and there is a definite increase. Would no longer describe it as a weep. Camera back on as I type.


Benton F. Baugh, president of Radoil Inc. in Houston and a National Academy of Engineering member who specializes in underwater oil operations, warned that the pressure readings could mean that an underground blowout could occur. He said the oil coming up the well may be leaking out underground and entering a geological pocket that might not be able to hold it.

But Roger N. Anderson, a professor of marine geology and geophysics at Columbia University, said the oil pressure might be rising slowly not because of a leak, but because of some kind of blockage in the well.

"If it's rising slowly, that means the pipe's integrity's still there. It's just getting around obstacles," he said. He added that "any increase in pressure is good, not bad."


From BP:

The well integrity test is ongoing and active monitoring continues..
- 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.
- Pressure continues to rise and is currently above 6700 psi.

We anticipate the next update will be provided at around 9:00 am CDT on July 17, 2010.

Updated July 16 at 6:00 pm CDT

[emphasis mine]

How does that work then? If there's NO oil flowing into the gulf (or being collected), I'd have expected the pressure to stabilise pretty quickly (almost instantly).

Maybe they are collecting some then, and reducing the amount? - is that compatible with the well being 'shut-in'?

Excuse me if my question's been answered elsewhere, I haven't had time to read everything.


If there's NO oil flowing into the gulf (or being collected), I'd have expected the pressure to stabilise pretty quickly (almost instantly). ... I haven't had time to read everything.

Look up a half a page.

But Roger N. Anderson, a professor of marine geology and geophysics at Columbia University, said the oil pressure might be rising slowly not because of a leak, but because of some kind of blockage in the well.

"If it's rising slowly, that means the pipe's integrity's still there. It's just getting around obstacles," he said. He added that "any increase in pressure is good, not bad."

We anticipate the next update will be provided at around 9:00 am CDT on July 17, 2010

9:00 am CDT update sez 6745 psi, so it's still climbing slowly.

"- Pressure continues to rise and is currently above 6700 psi."

I have not seen much comment on the exact oil content, but looking at the shots of the old cap, there seems a good portion of asphalt there. - and it is plenty sticky too.

So, maybe the asphalt deposit effect, has helped to somewhat plug the old leak ?

Also, with gas seepage moving into hydrates, any slowly closed well
with a moderate subsurface leakage will shed the gas faster than denser, less mobile oil.
So the column density could be higher than they think ?

- add to this the last numbers for reservoir pressure are quite old,
and they really have no idea how that has changed with the leak, but you could expect a high volume leak, to lower pressures faster, especially if there are seepage pathways involved.

Also, in a static column, once the oil column looses momentum, it will slowly settle the heavier grains back into the reservoir, and that will slowly lower the density, and so work to raise the BOP pressure. (even if the reservoir pressure stays constant)

- and if there are reservoir level seepage paths, they will also slowly raise pressures as everything slowly gets back to equilibrium.

So, all this does not make the present numbers, and the earlier ones, totally 'mutually exclusive'. They can 'fit' ?

It also suggests any leak rates, lower than these other two effects.

Added : I see Kent Wells says this, in the latest briefing

"The last I looked at the pressures, an hour or two ago, it was around 6,720. We’re seeing it continue to build up in the range of 2 psi per hour. And that’s absolutely following the modeling work we did on a reservoir with depletion associated with it."

Also, in a static column, once the oil column looses momentum, it will slowly settle the heavier grains back into the reservoir, and that will slowly lower the density, and so work to raise the BOP pressure. (even if the reservoir pressure stays constant)

Don't think this will make any difference - Column will get lighter at top - but also gets heavier at base - Total weight stays the same.
If you got a truck loaded up high with Bricks - Putting the heavy bricks at the bottom doesn't reduce the load.

If you got a truck loaded up high with Bricks - Putting the heavy bricks at the bottom doesn't reduce the load.

It does, if those bricks can dribble thru the deck of the truck.

Remember, the bottom of the well is still open, only the top is closed.

It does, if those bricks can dribble thru the deck of the truck.

Remember, the bottom of the well is still open, only the top is closed.

If core Pressure of Formation is at a higher pressure to column its holding up then you can consider the well bottom closed. If you suggesting Heavy Particles are flowing back into formation - Well we can all go home, that would mean well was dead.

Added : I see Kent Wells says this, in the latest briefing: "The last I looked at the pressures, an hour or two ago, it was around 6,720. We’re seeing it continue to build up in the range of 2 psi per hour. And that’s absolutely following the modeling work we did on a reservoir with depletion associated with it."

If it's depletion it seems to me the pressure would be decreasing. Or maybe the +2psi/hr indicates a filling in of voids around a damaged casing, hopefully, within the original hole?

If it's depletion it seems to me the pressure would be decreasing. Or maybe the +2psi/hr indicates a filling in of voids around a damaged casing, hopefully, within the original hole?

Not quite, here I take him to mean a well that has undergone depletion (loss of pressure) during the leak, and is now recovering.

Like sucking water from a sponge at one point, that will slowly flow back to balance pressures, from further away in the reservoir,when the leak/draw-off ceases.

The Olympic Challenger video signal has picked up a gas leak from down the side of the wellhead.


Its bubbling up a few minutes now

(the ROV driver probably got an order not to focus on it as it has reverted to the base of the wellhead , after that it looked up up and down the BOP , peeked once more to the leak that bubbles from one of the 'tendrils' that stick out to the side and then went back to the base.
I imagine that its code red right now at the surface)

The bubbling seems to be continuous. Every time they move the camera over there, the bubbles are shooting out.

Looks like they don't want to advertise the bubbles, keeping the camera away now from the obvious topic of interest.

Here's a screenshot of bubbles:

and another

Bubbles not a concern just said at am briefing. Grabbed from IRC channel transcription (Kent Wells speaking - SJFriedl real time transcript

[13:39] "You'll see bubbles on the 36" casing"
[13:39] "This is quite normal. First piece of pipe put in down to 500'. Build well on top of that"
[13:39] "There are 6 or 8 valves around this piece of pipe, it's quite caution. But we'll go take a sample and make sure it's not gas from deeper down in the riser"
[13:40] ahh
[13:40] "Could be nitrogen or biodegrading methane"
[13:40] "As the well cools down, that's probably waht caused those bubbles"
[13:40] open for Q

Also http://twitter.com/BP_America

# Bubbles you see on the 36" casing on one of ROV cameras is normal. Being cautious, going down to double check & get a sample. -Kent Wells 1 minute ago via web

# Well integrity test continues, with pressure currently at 6,745 PSI, building at approx 2 PSI per hr. -Kent Wells 4 minutes ago via web

Thanks, Undertow.

Is the well head composed of concentric cylinders at this point and are these leaking pipes from an inner core or from an outer ring? Do these bubbles imply that gas is seeping into an unexpected region of the casing?

Edit/Add: There may be bubbles from the inner stack regions too - it's hard to tell from the low rez. video. Based on the fact that only 1 ROV is watching so far, I don't sense any panic. Oly ROV 2.

Another ROV now on the scene... can't identify it though...

Looks like 'clean' gas coming from some sort of hose.

No mucky oil so far.

Are compressed gas lines used for anything at that depth?

Are we actually looking at the lower BOP? These pipes look pretty random and bent. I thought that it had a frame around it too and I don't see the frame, or any bubbles in the Skandi-2 images of the upper BOP.

Wells addressed bubbles first thing this morning.Normal bleed off around 36 inch casing. Will extend test. Pressure to probably get to 6800 plus or minus 50 PSI. Still going up at 2PSI/hr but getting slower. Feeling more comfortable about integrity. Will do two more seismic runs each day.

Only one update today and tomorrow (AM).

Those are coming from a pipe with a shut valve directly at the well head.

They first appeared yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz67kr6AanY - http://www.flickr.com/photos/7521779@N05/4799265818

They have now increased: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSazjBoRYoo

BP's Kent Wells in his morning press call today said:

"You'll see bubbles on the 36" casing"
"This is quite normal. First piece of pipe put in down to 500'. Build well on top of that"
"There are 6 or 8 valves around this piece of pipe, it's quite caution. But we'll go take a sample and make sure it's not gas from deeper down in the riser"
"Could be nitrogen or biodegrading methane"
"As the well cools down, that's probably what caused those bubbles"

I wonder what the experts her are saying about that. Rockman?

Anyway - fodder for the conspiracy theorists.

Wells knew all the worriers who watch the images full time would be pointing to this as something sinister so he addressed it right off the bat.

Yeah, they get it. Finally.

Emphasis on "finally," eh?

Absolutely necessary to emphasize it.

I didn't actually realize, until I started browsing this site a few weeks ago, that the big worry with the methane, according to the more alarmist folks, was that the thing would blow. My big worry is a bit more pedestrian: methane is a major greenhouse gas. Was a very large amount dissolved into the ocean, is it acidifying the gulf, and is a large amount bubbling into the atmosphere as a result of this? I've seen stuff elsewhere on this, but I don't remember seeing anything here, and I'd trust the answer here more than I would from somewhere else.

I saw intact cookies floating by. One had a bite taken out of it. Too big to be vanilla wafers and peanut butter cookies would have fallen apart. I didn't notice any chocolate chips. Then again we're dealing with low res so there could have been chocolate chips in them.

You do not think ROV's deserve a snack break?

Besides being soggy, wouldn't they be a tad salty?
Although I suppose an ROV wouldn't be too fussy...

That's why vanilla wafers makes sense. But those were giant vanilla wafers, if that's what they were.

ROV's are pretty big. But being that BP is British I would expect Heinz beans on toast and maybe some Marmite and marmalade rather than wafers.

ROV's are pretty big. But being that BP is British I would expect Heinz beans on toast and maybe some Marmite and marmalade rather than wafers.

But the ROVs are build by Oceaneering based in Houston TX - so they obviously snack on cowhide.

There must be some variability built in. Being limited to cowhide could completely cut out the India market. And they have a big ocean.

One of the ROVs must have dropped them.

Here's the full AM briefing real-time transcript from IRC. Thanks to Steve Friedl


Kent Wells Technical Briefing, 7:30AM CDT, 2010/07/17 Saturday

Transcribed by Steve Friedl [SJFriedl] - steve@unixwiz.net

Note: These are on-the-fly paraphrases, not direct quotes!

Darren Bodo in BP press office
only briefing today - no PM briefing
tomorrow at 7:30AM CDT
Kent "Good morning: let me start first with relief well: RW1 by DD3, completed open hole ranging run yesterday
(precision part of the hole). Now 4.8" from macondo well, angle of 1.9 degrees"
"Now gonna drill 24' to the casing. Feeling very good at this point how the well is lining up"
"Drill that, do another ranging run, set casing, looking for intersection at end of July"
"Well integrity test continues. Pressure 6745"
"Building 2psi/hr"
"Buildup is slowing down"
"Question yesterday about reservoir pressure would be, I think about 6800 psi +/- 50"
"Continuing w/ monitoring, temperature, ROVs, sonar scans, seismics"
"Doing 2 seismic runs today - an overabundance of caution"
"Taking every possible precaution. I mentioned yesterday: NOAA vessel doing surveys to see if there could be breaches other places"
"You'll see bubbles on the 36" casing"
"This is quite normal. First piece of pipe put in down to 500'. Build well on top of that"
"There are 6 or 8 valves around this piece of pipe, it's quite common. But we'll go take a sample and make sure it's not gas from deeper down in the riser"
"Could be nitrogen or biodegrading methane"
"As the well cools down, that's probably what caused those bubbles"
"With the well shut in, there's no containment data to share with you"
Now open for Q
Q from Upstream: "Could you use this cap to choke the well back to what the current collection can take?"
"We'll be progressing every 6 hours as unified comand analyzes the data. Clearly if all the data says we have integrity in the well, and we wanted to contain -vs- shut in, we would have that option"
"But no decisions have been made"
Q from CNN: "Could there be some sort of debris or blockage that's contributing to the low pressure?"
"I don't think so: in a no-flow situation, anything that would act as a choke wouldn't act as a factor"
[tone of voice is that this was a surprise question]
"Technique we're using is a Horner plot. I don't think there's anything in the way of the pressure"
Q Reuters: "Is the test going to end after 48 hours?"
Kent: "I'm not going to jump ahead of the process. Adm Allen is the decision-maker, those decisions will be made as we collect data"
Q NBC News: "This test is going to continue all day until tomorrow morning? Does this mean you're going to keep the well shut-in past mid-day today? How would you assess info you've gotten so far?"
[ugh, same question]
"Conditions have always been to allow extension of the test if there is no risk, more to learn, no reason to make a decision right now"
"So far, everythign we've seen indicates that no evidence that we don't have integrity. Pressure building as one would expect."
[he worded it carefully, "no evidence of no integrity"]
Q from Bloomberg: "Since our tech briefing, did you find additional evidence against leaks? Beyond 48 hours will you do more tests that you haven't done so far, diff kinds of tests?"
"No evidence of lack of integrity, we'll just keep monitoring as we go forward" blah blah blah
Q from NYT: "Update on timetable for getting 3rd & 4th containment system?"
A "Over next coupla weeks, addl containment will come in - taking slight pause w/ all additional monitoring"
"First is Q4000 & Helix, then we have the ability to bring in the Enterprise w/ LMRP cappy, that may collect all flow at that point"
"Second freestanding riser is just about built and in place, need to do connections, toisis pisces[sp?] in the field in a coupla days, then some days to connect all up"
"Only thing to get in the way is weather. Over next coupla weeks we have options to bring up significantly more capabilities"
Q from BBC News "How did you arrive at that 7500psi pressure number to look for? Could 6700psi be result of depletion?"
A "We've put together numerous models of what would cause this with having integrity, having some, having no integrity, lots of monitoring"
[more of the same]
"We're feeling more comfortable that we have integrity, but test is not over, not reaching conclusions. No evidence that we don't have integrity, and that pressure rises gives us confidence"
Q from AP: "When you say you're feeling more comfortable that you have integrity, does that mean you have more confidence that there won't be more oil let into the environment? Still chance of oil back into water?"
"If we do decide at any point, during or after test, that we wanna open the well back up, we will flow into the gulf for a time to bring pressure down so we can go into collection systems [q4000 & helix] and we will work at that point to bring vessels up to max collection capacity. Will move to collect all the oil"
"Could be a period of flow into the gulf"
Last Q
Q from ABC News: "Assuming pressure readings are accurages, assuming depletion, was the flow rate prior to capping lower than you thought?"
"Clarifying: we didn't predict 7500, we set a range, right now 6756 headed to 6800 +/- 50psi, very much in the range"
"Our whole focus is on running the test perfectly, monitoring everything, running 2 seismic lines 2x/day, almost continuous seismic ops. Really focused on that, but clearly math says that lower reservoir pressure means lower flow rate, but we're not focused on that"

Nice spin from Kent Wells, looking for 9,000 got 6,700, now its "in range."

When did he ever say they were looking for 9000 psi?

Go back an read the transcripts from the past several days.


In the previous thread I posted results of a simple spreadsheet showing what fines could be to BP based on a leak of 85,000 bpd ($30b) ranging down to to 500 bpd ($175m). (Note figures were for 80 days)

xo responded:

And how would that set of number stand up in court? Up to this point, it is just flow rate estimated and there is a wide range of number generated within the group. The flow rate and the mix of oil/ng change every instance. So how do the court decide a "fair" number of bbl leak to GOM to assess penalty??? That is one reason why BP never gave any estimate.. Any estimate they give will be used as an admission that the nubmer is accurate.. It will be a negotiate settlement and drag on for years.. The size of penalty will depend on whether the administration at the time want to have drilling in GOM or not. The 75 million liability limit was passed in a time when government want to bring E&P back into GOM. And the current administration obviously doesn't want drilling to go on so they "negotiate" with BP and BP "voluntary" wave the limet. if the penalty is too serve, no one will want to drill in GOM. even with the best of plan and most conservative decision making process, any rig can be Deepsea Horizon if the right combination of circumstance materialize. And if a mistake in drilling mean bk of a company, who would want to drill here. What if the company is ATPG or one of the small operator? They certainly doesn't have the capital to pay for the clean up or damage, let alone the penalty.. So how can they cotinue to drill in GOM?

I'm not trying to establish a fine here or present court acceptable evidence. Merely show the range of possibilities. In the worst case scenario BP (who reports $20b+ annual profits) would not be irrepairably damaged financially. No one expects BP to pay anything near that. Of course there is going to be wide discussion from all variety of experts as to how much oil actually did esacape.

My hope is enough financial damage to BP is done that it forces a COMPLETE change of mgmnt from Board Room to local supervisors.

Even with no fines changes are likely to happen. $20 billion+ ain't chump change nor is cutting the dividend a minor issue.

It is funny how people who argue that oil production should be subsidized through caps on liability for the damages it inflicts will turn around and claim that oil is cheap and renewables can't possibly compete in a free market.

After the total leak is estimated a total fine would be calculated from that. I have been wondering if BP could get a reduced or discounted fine because of the money they have been spending on cleanup (not containment) efforts. Would the proceeds of the fine be designated for cleanup and reparations or would they just go into the government kitty?

Would the proceeds of the fine be designated for cleanup and reparations or would they just go into the government kitty?

Get a grip. As I wrote above, this is the single best reason for cutting a deal, fines versus compensation. If the fine was paid it would go to congress to appropriate funds for the cleanup and compensation. With tens of billions up for grabs, exactly how much of the money do you think would flow to those that need it compared to the current situtation? You would have congress critters from across the nation with their hands out for a slice. Not to mention the months of arguing, earmarking of special add ons, and other idiotic behavior.

Keeping the money out of the hands of congress was probably the biggest master stroke any POTUS could have done to help the GOM.

Early on several law experts said their interpretation of the act regarding fines was that they were there at the same time as the $75 million cap. BP immediately said the cap would be ignored, and said they would take no net funds from the liability fund (Kind of interesting that it can't be used ,can only get bigger). Also they have been throwing money at everything from berms to research grants to giving proceeds to wildlife funds, setting up the $20 b fund etc. The legal folks said the government would take all this into account when assessing fines. Obviously the politics and the November elections might push the feds to throw out a fine number but my guess is such things will take a long time especially given all the investigations that are going to drag on. Even the amount spilled will be debated for a long time especially given that the rate could have changed over time. I wonder what would have happened if a smaller company or one without all the gov contracts that BP has had been the responsible party and had not elected to ignore the caps.

I wonder what would have happened if a smaller company or one without all the gov contracts that BP has had been the responsible party and had not elected to ignore the caps.

That is a sobering thought. I suspect that from most standpoints the answer would be that things would be significantly worse. For all the criticism of BP, one thing that didn't happen was footdragging on trying to get things done, and opening the purse strings. They didn't do a very good job of managing things - and as we have seen, absolutley no-one was up to speed on how to really handle such a large scale accident. But at least the money came, and hasn't run out.

If it had been one of the minor players, they may well be bancrupt already. Which makes life very much harder. No money in compensation going out, no money to float the cleanup, and so on. It would have reverted to the government to fund and manage. And given the history of the response, the problems seen, and the various levels of command and control that have been brought to play, I can only see that the response would have been slower, and vastly more politicised. Eventually it would probably have settled down, and we would probably be close to where we are now with the capping and relief wells, but vastly worse off with the cleanup and, possibly the most important near term issue, keeping the communities on the coast alive. Trusting the government to do that properly is IMHO just naive. It isn't a political leaning problem. It is just the nature of governments.

Dunno. BP and their contractors have seemed pretty lost when it comes to clean up and recovery. FEMA at least gets to practice after hurricanes. They might do better.
Some sort of insurance fund to which all operators contribute might be a way of handling the problem of small operators. Although it would reduce the deterrent.

And FEMA supplies those great trailers too:)

I have one small question: At what point will we know for certain if the relief wells are on target to hook up with the damaged well?

I am wondering if there still is a possibility that the relief wells are off target, or won't work, and if that is the reason BP went ahead with this cap now and risked so much.

Kent Wells stated this AM that the relief well is about 4.8 feet away from the Macondo well. I wouldn't call that "off target".

Yes, 4.8 feet is current distance...

Here is Kent Wells (BP) tech briefing this morning:

The briefing begins with positive news concerning relief well status.

Could someone from oil patch explain a Horner Plot that was mentioned in briefing?

BP went ahead with this cap now and risked so much.

No you have read somewhere that they are taking a big risk. That's most definitely not the view of the experts with all the information and that's been stated by Thad Allen multiple times. He said that's why they took the extra 24 hours. Just so they could look even more closely at potential disaster scenarios one more time in case they'd all missed something. Now they might be wrong but I'll take their views over and above random internet guessing unless I see a good reason not to. And I don't.

That's a good question!

I think that the bottom of the leaking well itself is encased in a 7 inch (18 cm) casing, and the relief well is roughly the same size. To get within a 4.8 foot distance is pretty amazing (to those of us unaccustomed to drilling technology), but there is still lots of room for the two wells to diverge. One intriguing comment was Ken Wells assertion that the angle between the wells needed to be less than 2 degrees. A day or two ago he said the angle was at 4 degrees, and today it was reported to be at 1.2 degrees. I'm wondering how this angle is measured? Is this really an advance, or is it just PR fluff?

Just wonderin'-- has there been any pictures or vids of the remains of the DWH platform down there?

I understand the thing was as big as an aircraft carrier. (Visited one when I was a kid and that's one hell of a lot of metal).

How far could it have traveled from the site that is now crawling with camera weilding ROVS?

I believe that the DWH rig fell somewhat less than a mile NE from the well.

I haven't seen any pics of the wreckage, and hope that the ROVs had more important things to do than site seeing (pun intended).

Shelby County shoppers fly to Gulf Shores to support oil-spill damaged economy
Let's show our support by flying Cessnas from near Birmingham to Gulf Shores to shop? How many planes would it take to get 50 folks here? How much fuel are we talking? Would it have been cheaper to charter a 737? Certainly a bus. Thanks a bunch, but I just do not get it.

A striking aspect of the current situation is how badly we need an updated estimate of the pressure at the bottom of the leaking well. It sounds as though BP is now merely guessing that pressures have fallen from the original 9000 psi to 6800 psi. Is there no way to tell? Wouldn't instrumentation at the bottom of the relief wells give us a better idea? I seem to recall, from reading Ken Deffeyes' books, that pressure monitoring was pretty standard.

Deleted- misread

The capped well is now static with a 13000 foot coulumn of fluid. Do you really believe that the pressure at the top is the same as the bottom?

The RW is still above the pay zone and is filled with drilling mud. It takes a special tool to measure formation pressure. Measurements while drilling are monitoring pressure and they also have all the logs from the capped well.

NY Times: "Energy Secretary Emerges to Take a Commanding Role in Effort to Corral Well"

Energy Secretary Steven Chu may hold a Nobel Prize in physics, but he has no training in geology, seismology or oil well technology. Nevertheless, he has stepped in repeatedly to take command of the effort to contain BP’s runaway well, often ordering company officials to take steps they might not have taken on their own....