BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - the Testing Continues - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6742.

At this morning's press briefing, Kent Wells of BP reported that pressures have now reached 6,745 psi, and are building at about 2 psi per hour. BP is estimating ultimate pressure will be around 6,800 psi. While this is not as high as originally expected, there are several reasonable explanations for this lower pressure reading, including the possibility that the well is now somewhat depleted, and therefore has lower pressure.

BP seems to be encouraged by the results. Mr. Wells said several times, "We are encouraged that we have integrity," and "We find no evidence of lack of integrity."

Mr. Wells did, however, mention that bubbles have been found on the 36" casing. This is the first (upper-most) casing installed, and Mr. Wells indicated that such an occurrence at this level is quite common. He felt that these bubbles were probably from the system cooling down, but, "out of an overabundance of caution," BP is taking samples of the bubbles, to make certain that they do not indicate a problem.

Other monitoring is continuing as well. This includes two seismic runs a day.

About mid-day today, the testing period will reach the 48 hour milestone. At that point, a decision will be made as to what to do next -- continue the testing; leave the well closed for a period until the containment devices up above and new riser can be fully installed; or stop the test and let part of the hydrocarbons back out into the water, until new containment capacity is fully installed, (or some other choice). The decision as to what will be done will be made by Admiral Allen, not BP.

Mr. Wells also reported that they are feeling good about how relief well 1 is lining up with the original well. It is now 4.8 feet away and at a 1.9 degree angle. BP now expects to need to drill an additional 24 feet. Regarding timing, BP is on target to make the intersection by the end of July. The kill procedure will take between a few days and a few weeks, and will extend the overall timetable into August.

Prof. Goose's Comment:

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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Goose, I think the blow out is on its way to being history. The cap is holding, the well is building pressure, and if they keep it shut in, they should be able to finish the relief well and get after it.

Talking about the relief well, I got a question: Why don't they make a close approach, and run casing, then run a set of tubing conveyed guns, say a 30 ft long gun with 2 shots per foot, aligned to shoot into the wild well, and get after it? I think I know the answer why this is a dumb idea, but I want to hear opinions.

Many of you are being a little unfair to the various ways we're doing our investigation. Any good police detective goes into an investigation with his mind open and with all kinds of theories, with all but one discarded by the end. I have no dog in this fight, I'm a professional stock trader and I have no magazine subscriptions or cable-tv, which I think are useless. So Matt Simmons and MSNBC are on my ignore list just for the sake that MSNBC is 'advertising' him.

I'm just looking for anomalies to try and determine the real truth, and in life I've found that it will be somewhere in-between what BP says and what Matt Simmons, says. With the constitution suspended, no reporters allowed anywhere near the site, this leads me to believe there is something to hide. Didn't BP say the top kill didn't work because there was a leak somewhere? Has this leak been fixed so that now the new BOP has completely shut things down. How was the leaked fixed?

It's your choice to believe everything you read and listen to from the corporate controlled media, I have no problem with that, but please allow those of us who don't believe a word the govt says to carry out our investigation. When this is over, I'll gladly list the points I made that turned out to be wrong.

Didn't BP say the top kill didn't work because there was a leak somewhere?

Yes there was a gigantic leak above the BOP. Whether there might have been a further leak downhole was unknown.

So why would they even try to pump mud down into the well which was pushing 1200 tons of upward pressure when the top is open?

It wasn't wide open, the valves were partially closed, so they were hoping the dynamic pressure loss across the valves would give them the pressure they needed.

I have no dog in this fight, I'm a professional stock trader and I have no magazine subscriptions or cable-tv, which I think are useless. So Matt Simmons and MSNBC are on my ignore list just for the sake that MSNBC is 'advertising' him.

I'm just looking for anomalies to try and determine the real truth, and in life I've found that it will be somewhere in-between what BP says and what Matt Simmons, says. With the constitution suspended,

LOL, YJCMTSU. If you catch my drift. Welcome home, you're amongst many friends.

This (gringoloid above) is very much my position. I've not posted for a week, but have been reading every thread from beginning to end.

I'm an alternative media commentator (call me a researcher/ investigative journalist), but I have a BSc in math and physics and I was once in Mensa before I baled out as the guys there were so dumb (not just a joke). I am committed to the truth, whatever it is, and through TOD I've really had my own wake-up call about how little some of the alternative media understands. I, too, have been wrong about a LOT of stuff and my position and understanding are VERY different from where they were 4-5 weeks ago.

I could write half a book about this (and maybe I should), but I think what happens is this: many observers who don't accept everything we're supposed to believe (from 9/11 onwards and outwards) KNOW SOMETHING IS BADLY WRONG, but they don't know exactly what. So a wild guessing game ensues, and they often pick up the wrong ball and run with it. Meanwhile, the Powers That Be are more than happy to provide wrong balls for these guys to run with - and run, they do.

I want you to know that I fully recognize and acknowledge that Lindsey Williams, who is a dear, sincere man, was LIED to (by his new BP source who came to HIM - and why was that, may we ask?? - who told him that the granite encasing the reservoir was cracking and that the pressure was 40,000 psi. I'm currently engaged in trying quite hard to correct and counter all the scary nonsense about asphalt volcanos and tsunamis. You guys do a great job.

** If ROCKMAN is anywhere out there, I'd love to interview him on audio for the alternative community. I can be trusted, and would commit not to publish anything without his okay. His real name or ID would not need to be revealed. He would be ideal to represent the TOD community to the 'alternative' community. Maybe someone else can jump in, too. (Offers or suggestions?) It's a chance to talk directly and educationally to the MANY good people out there who WANT to know stuff and have no reliable source of information and who do not trust FOX news, BP or the USG - with some justification. My e-mail is bill@projectavalon.net.

** Light relief (promoted by the MIG-25 story on the previous thread). I once worked in an outdoor center (like Outward Bound) in the UK, We had a student - a young man of 25 - from Uganda. He had never before left his country, let alone Africa. He was VERY apprehensive about going anywhere near Lake Windermere (a large lake in the English Lake District). After a small amount of counseling I discovered it was because he was really worried about the crocodiles.

I was once in Mensa before I baled[sic] out as the guys there were so dumb (not just a joke)

I was a member of Mensa too, but had to bale too much cotton so I bailed out...

Nothing like pretending you're a genius and then making a 3rd grader's spelling error. LOL

The two are not connected and neither are typing errors.


NAOM au contraire

The ability to spell can indicate general intelligence. Remembering a set sequence of letters indicates the mind's ability to retrieve remembered facts. Learning how to spell and use the words of a language is almost a complete IQ test in itself. Although poor spellers with high IQ scores can be found, it is rare, and in general--everything else being equal--the better spellers have higher IQ scores.

He spelled everything else correctly, I suspect he used a spell checker. He either didn't proof-read or didn't know he'd made a mistake. I wouldn't have picked on him except for him calling Mensa members stupid. I don't belong either far too cheap to waste the money on dues I could invest in wine, but one shouldn't throw stones in a glass house.

I've seen many a mention that genius IQ and dyslexia are frequently paired. If I recall, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, JFK, and a number of other historical leading-lights make that list.

Mentioning one's Mensa membership or eligibility is poor form in any case (also frequently the "tell" of poor credibility in general).

Interesting comment, about dyslexia.

I learned to read before ever going to school, and other than picking up some English spellings, always had pretty good spelling. The summer I took Calc III and Physics II, I developed dyslexia, still affects me today.

I make no claims to any intelligence, whatsoever, tho. There were plenty of folks that didn't struggle through school the way I did.

The summer I took Calc III and Physics II, I developed dyslexia, still affects me today.

Wow, talk about Interesting. I wonder what did that to you? (Hey now, surviving Calc III and Physics II certainly argues for your intelligence.)

Anyhoo, because two of my smartest pals are dyslexic as can be, I'm inclined to believe the correlation.

I don't know, (other than a lot of condensed stress), I theorize it has to do with learning to assign variables anything you want. (My prof used to use things like paw prints, on some of his lectures). I'm not even sure it's true dyslexia, could be just too much skim reading.

I usually attribute my survival to stubbornness,(determination, maybe), and a lot of help from a lot of people. Especially the latter.

As for correlation, all's I can say, is something in my brain changed that summer, and I started misspelling words more frequently after then. That's not necessarily dyslexia, but something happened.

There are two ways people learn to read. People who learn to read informally typicaly learn to read phonetically. People who learn to read in a from a classroom typically learn to read through memorization of the words. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the phonetic approach is that reading becomes easier and faster than for people who learned to read by memorization. In effect a phonetic reader 'hears' the words instead of really seeing them. However - without the memorization, a phonetic reader has a much more difficult time with proper spelling. In addition people with varying levels of dyslexia have a more difficult time with memorization.

An example here is simple multiplication tables. I have a mild form of dyslexia known as 'left-right blindness.' And I struggled with the memorization of these tables. So instead of memorizing the entire multiplication tables in school I memorized the key benchmarks and added the benchmarks together. As a result: instead of knowing that 8x13=104; I perform the following: '8x10=80 and 8x3=24, add 80+24=104.'

What the bottom line here is that dyslexics are not really more intilligent than other people - but instead solve problems using a different mental process - which frequently produces insights and results that may not occur to most other people.

And yes, I really, really wish that TOD had a built-in spellchecker.

And yes, I really, really wish that TOD had a built-in spellchecker.

That's a function of the browser. Works in Firefox, no idea about other browsers, but I'd be surprised (shocked even) if they didn't have that feature. To get the spell checker to work in Firefox, I had to install the dictionary first.

Interesting about learning to read phonetically, but I definitely used to mispronounce a lot of words that I knew perfectly well how spell, so there must be at least a third way to learn.

I like your math explanation, because that was the hardest subject for me to learn, and like I mentioned, the one that seems to have done a number on my brain. oooh, a pun.

I think this is so true about many things in life:

...a different mental process - which frequently produces insights and results that may not occur to most other people.


Many Egotists Needing Social Acceptance

I thought the "A" stood for "approval".

He spelled everything else correctly, I suspect he used a spell checker.

What is the korrelation between grammer and IQ?

Although I hate it when I misspell any word most of what I write is on the fly and I don't use spell check. If I'm writing an article for publication, however, spelling, grammar and sentence structure are paramount.

Having said that, I worked in a field in which we often accepted hundreds of text reports per day from the public. Many included spelling errors but the context and descriptive content and expediency were far more important than nit-picking spelling. Listen to eye-witness news reports of accidents or calamities where real-time, on-site inteviews, short and to the point, served a more immediate and accurate picture of what happened.

widelyred wrote:

He spelled everything else correctly, I suspect he used a spell checker. He either didn't proof-read or didn't know he'd made a mistake. I wouldn't have picked on him except for him calling Mensa members stupid. I don't belong either far too cheap to waste the money on dues I could invest in wine, but one shouldn't throw stones in a glass house.

Jeez! I typed it in a hurry and missed the mistake. No spell-checker. One bales out a boat. I apologise. (That's spelled with an 's' because I'm English. Is that OK?) I earlier mentioned that I worked in an outdoor centER because I was aware most readers here would be American... so at least I did try.

Methinks you may have sensitivities here; you said in an earlier thread [summary paraphrase] that you were not stupid and that you wagered your IQ was 50 points above that of the person to whom you were replying. Look in the mirror for arrogance.

If you wanna start chest-beating, be aware that you made a [minor] grammatical mistake in that earlier thread which I spotted and smiled about because you wanted everyone to know you were a great proof-reader. (No, I'm not going to tell you what it was.)

I never said Mensa members were 'stupid'. They are not. But some of them sure are dumb, as are some people who could qualify if they wanted to. There are MANY ways of being dumb which are unrelated to intelligence. Logic and judgment are not always aligned.

* Any comments about the fact that I was trying to make friends by sharing that I'd been quite wrong about a whole bunch of stuff and had learned a very great deal from being here - and was offering to represent TOD, facts, data and greater understanding to the alternative community?

* Did you like my story about the crocodile?

Jeez! I typed it in a hurry and missed the mistake. No spell-checker. One bales out a boat.

Ooooopsie! Try again; third time's a charm.

one bales a bale of hay

Bale out a boat and to bale out of something (usually an aeroplane) are acceptable uses of "bale", at least in British English (isn't that where it started?).

bale out

Mensa? I have no idea why Bill Ryan thinks bringing up his former membership in any way proves anything about his ability to comment on this or any other issue.

Mensa? I have no idea why Bill Ryan thinks bringing up his former membership in any way proves anything about his ability to comment on this or any other issue.

sofistek, it's a fair question. Here's why:

It was a (possibly quite inappropriate!) defensive/protective statement about membership of the alternative community.

Having seen the insults - some, but not all of which, have been cheap - thrown at various people perceived, rightly or wrongly, as being non-conformists, I was anxious about being laughed at as soon as I stated I was an alternative media commentator. A little nervous about being here, I guess.

It was like I was knocking at the door saying: "Hey, can I come in? I don't understand a lot about your world, but I want to know more, and I promise I'm smart and know a little math. So don't laugh at me if you think I'm different or weird. I'm here to learn and to represent your views to others who may have got some things all wrong."

I also was willing to show my real name... something that few members do. So I don't have the psychological armor of anonymity. You guys often give quite a grilling to newbies or to those with unconventional views. You know that?

Bill, I'm not the official greeter, so speaking just for me, "Welcome, pull up a chair! Here, I'll scoot ovah."

Yeah. Welcome and all that. You heard it here first: Matt Simmons is a Chinese triple agent.

Bill, maybe I was cranky, maybe not. Perhaps it was only your chapter of Mensa that had all the "dumb" guys. I have properly used the semicolon, and actually been criticized for it on blogs before, so have given up. Also, I found out when I was a senior in high school that I have dyslexia. I was on the honor's list at the time. I couldn't read at all in the 1st grade and they wanted to hold me back, but my family moved and the new school let me in as a 2nd grader. Between 1st and 2nd grade I taught myself to read, and have read thousands of books since. I have a six sigma IQ, so am more than confident I can win that bet. I don't claim to be a genius, just claim to have a high IQ (Stanford Binet). All my schooling was private, I learned critical thinking from Jesuits, went to a prestigious prep school so getting into a prestigious ivy league would have been a slam dunk. I opted on a different route and it seems to have worked out otherwise I might be an evil lawyer. You're welcome to go through this msg with a fine toothed comb, I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes. :)

I've often wondered whether genius has anything to do with insulation, whether the synapses and their little signals fire off down pre-determined paths without any leakage. Those of us who are not geniuses (and I am decidedly not one) have low insulation resistance, so are easily sent off topic when thinking about any particular subject. You know what it's like - you're in a conversation about oil leaks and five minutes later you find you're talking about spelling.

Thanks PassingThrough for my LOL moment of the day.

BTW, they hadn't defined ADHD when I was in school, but I'm certain I suffer from it. I have 4 web browsers running with "maximum tabs" in each (maximum defined as how many my 21" 16x9 display comfortably shows). I bop from tab to tab, and open new ones as they seem interesting on this or other blogs and sites I frequent. Add in the attention span of a five year old (even when I was 10 or 50) and life gets interesting. Actually that's one of the things I like about this site, things jump around so much I don't have to change the "channel". ;)

I have a six sigma IQ, so am more than confident I can win that bet.

Are you myiq2xu?

I hate that clown.

WR~I hope you saw my post to you on the last open thread about your question regarding the Bloomberg capture.........it was a list of BP's investments and not a capture of those who hold BP as an investment.


I think you should do a little more research before jumping in with insults, You 'bail out' a financial institution or a sinking boat but to exit a plane etc it is quite acceptable English usage to 'Bale out' or 'Bail out', the problem being the unknown origin of the term from Aviation, was it because it was an emergency ala the sinking boat (hence bail) or was it because the aviators had to exit the plane like a package (hence Bale), or that the parachute was like a package (hence Bale)


Bill- It is interesting and powerful that the internet provides those seeking the truth an alternative to the MSM. TOD has provided an intelligent port in the storm for this particular disaster. One can only hope that there will be such a valuable port of intelligent discussion and information for other fields once they become more necessary with another disaster or event requiring more technical knowledge and expertise. The MSM would be just as inadequate in other technical fields.

However, the reason that TOD has been such a success is that it starts with critical thinking on all sides and all ideas presented, no matter how pedestrian or wild. It is difficult to subscribe to an "alternative media" that begins with the most improbable and outlandish and then attempts to move back towards more logical and critical thinking.

In other words, if the average citizen followed the MSM, or godlikeproductions and similar sites (maybe avalon project), or TOD, where would the best source of information and critical thinking be for this particular crisis? I am not trying to attack, only discussing the various alternatives. To me, TOD represents not a middle ground between the MSM and "alternative media", but solid ground. That is what I am looking for in an information and knowledge source.

edit - sp

Exactly, well said. The problem is that our "average citizen" is losing the ability to think critically and therefor make sound decisions about knowledge sources. Last week I was talking to a prof whose field is epistemology. He has done extensive research and writing about how people learn what they know, can one know something that is wrong, can one realize this, and can it be changed. He's especially interested in pop culture "truths", conspiracy theories, etc.

To me the key is an open and flexible mind, but in a land where that's regarded as being "wishy-washy" it's getting harder to find.

"The problem is that our "average citizen" is losing the ability to think critically and therefor make sound decisions about knowledge sources."

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but as an average citizen I would like to defend myself and my cohort. I reposted Alaska_geo's comment from yesterday below as extremely relevant. I have asked questions repeatedly about the seismic characteristics of MC252. Not being an engineer or geologist, perhaps I lacked the vocabulary to make myself understood, which is why I try to frame queries in the context of a reference. Yesterday, I posted a portion of Markey's June 23, 2010 letter(http://globalwarming.house.gov/tools/3q08materials/files/06-23-10reliefw...) which queries the structure of the Macondo field, specifically addressing the possibility of leakage from other formations above the well. I have asked upon several occasions if the Macondo escarpment is similar to the slides in the Santa Barbara basin. I've asked about reservoir integrity. Most of the focus here has been on the well bore and head.

I read what is posted here very carefully. I appreciate the focus on the mechanical aspects of the problem-your house, your topics, and as your guest I try very hard to be appreciative and mindful of the superior knowledge of TOD posters. Not every web site can answer all questions, so I don't think it's inappropriate to look in as many places as possible for answers. However, I was wondering yesterday and last night why no-one expounded on Alaska_geo's post. It falls within the purview here and it would explain the pressure problems as well as be relevant to Markey's queries.

Sometimes the absence of information can be a signal and requires critical evaluation. Which is why there are so many places to acquire data in a free society, yes? Perhaps we should remember the words of Oscar Wilde: "Education-A process which makes one rogue cleverer than another."

Alaska_geo on July 16, 2010 - 7:49pm |
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..."

5-6 March 2008
page 8:"Dr Mike Bowman, Head of Discipline Appraisal & Pre Development, BP Exploration, Houston, Texas, USA-As an industry we have been poor at identifying and predicting the effect of reservoir compartmentalization on fluid flow throughout field life...A number of examples will be described from the BP portfolio to illustrate some of the approaches being used to capture and model subsurface response.""

I answered Alaska geo's post, just after he posted it. Wrote one of my typical maybe yes, maybe not answers.

Long-time readers may have noticed that I try and avoid using the term "truth". This is because I think it's a term that causes problems. This isn't from a Rumsfeld-type "reality nowadays is overpowered by perception-makers", but because psychogically once you've said something is "true" you're unwilling to change your pronouncement (a statement can only change from true to false if the maker initially made a mistake). Likewise if anyone disputes you on something you regard as a "truth" they are implicitly accusing you, so you dig in even more than necessary. I try and use "accurate", because it's much more psychologically acceptable to change the idea about which is the most accurate view of reality over time; likewise it's easier to change a view on accuracy as a result of debate.

FormerSafety - 100% agreed.

Note that even in the alternative media community there are those which are the equivalent of the National Enquirer. Godlike Productions is [usually] to be laughed at, for instance, and they are not alone.

But basically GLP is just a totally unregulated forum. Other sites and blogs try to do better, and sometimes suceed. Washington's Blog today did an admirable job of trying to get things right.


I do not think it is any less likely to find crocodiles in England than it is to find granite in the Gulf of Mexico.

I want you to know that I fully recognize and acknowledge that Lindsey Williams, who is a dear, sincere man, was LIED to (by his new BP source who came to HIM - and why was that, may we ask?? - who told him that the granite encasing the reservoir was cracking and that the pressure was 40,000 psi. I'm currently engaged in trying quite hard to correct and counter all the scary nonsense about asphalt volcanos and tsunamis. You guys do a great job.

Granite encasing the reservoir? And he believed that? He must have been dumber than your other menus friends by a long shot.

Oil is associated with sedimentary rocks. Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock.

Where there is volcanos and such there ain't no oil.

JamesR - While it is a very good generalization that granite and oil don't occur together it is not strictly true. There are a few rare cases where a reservoir rock is a fractured granite - perhaps a buried impact crater - or where an igneous rock provides part of the seal. It is certainly not the case with this well.

Maybe if it was abiotic oil...

One of my friends told me that he stopped hosting MENSA parties at his apartment (in Oxford, England) because the guests stole things from him. The people who seem to have the most to prove are the ones who just barely meet the membership requirement. They also seem to be the most likely to brag about being members.

Gringoloid, when you come in here posting this stuff, I feel like mailing you one of those bomb proof outfits the crazy dude used in "The Hurt Locker". This is an interesting point you bring, "truth has to be between what Matt Simmons and BP say". The question is, what happens when one side (Matt Simmons), pushes the boundary to such a wild extreme, the mid point is skewed towards the extreme? This is a good question we need to answer when we compare say the Fox News coverage with MSNBC coverage. Is it possible one of them is so far out, so radically insane, we can't just sit in the middle?

I like the point about the Constitution being suspended, but that happened a while back, and it seems most of us take it well. I don't know where you get the idea that no reporters are allowed "near the site". I've flown over the site myself, took pictures, and nobody said a word. And I'm not even in the media. So this idea that reporters aren't allowed "near the site" needs a little proof on your part.

The top kill didn't work because there was a leak at the top of the BOP - the BOP valves weren't closed properly, and they remain this way today. The leak was fixed by taking a flange off at the top, and putting in a new flange with a connection to a set of three valves, which were eventually used to close the well off.

When this is over, if you keep this up, your list of wrong comments is going to be fairly long. You could help yourself by trying to keep up with the information flow, and trying to understand it. If you don't want to bother, then feel free to ask here, without mixing the political baloney in with the questions. After you get answers, then you can start your complaints, but please make sure you have a reasonable basis to do so. Otherwise, you lose credibility.

what happens when one side (Matt Simmons), pushes the boundary to such a wild extreme, the mid point is skewed towards the extreme?

In fairness to Gringoloid, he did not say midpoint; he just said somewhere in between. If you take everything BP says at face value, you're just regurgitating propaganda. IMO, anything that is scientifically possible that doesn't violate known evidence (not just BP assertions) should remain on the table, even if it seems pretty unlikely. The unlikely sometimes turns out to be true.

Now propaganda is also sometimes true, and you can't get to the point that you think everything BP says is wrong. But if BP tells me it is 2:00PM, I'm going to look at my watch.

The top kill didn't work because there was a leak at the top of the BOP - the BOP valves weren't closed properly, and they remain this way today. The leak was fixed by taking a flange off at the top, and putting in a new flange with a connection to a set of three valves, which were eventually used to close the well off.

Good point fdoleza. My question for BP is, “Why didn’t you try that first?” I’m not talking about a fancy new BOP. Just unbolt the riser and install a simple gate valve. The flow could have been fully collected or cut off in two weeks. They could still take pressure measurements from the old BOP and use the old kill lines to reduce pressure further with increased flow, or try a top kill effort with a higher probability of success.

The total leakage volume into the Gulf would have been perhaps 5% of what it is now.

The New York Times has your answer in two words


Steven Chu

I do know that the BP folks are getting quite skilled at derriere_bottes

It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. - Harry Emerson Fosdick

Where in that article does it say that Chu decided not to unbolt the flange? As I recall, before doing the small top hat, they attempted to turn the bolts but did not have a tool that was able to do that.

One consideration for the decision not to unbolt the riser section sooner might have been the fact that at that point they hadn't demonstrated the ability to undo the bolts. It took a couple of ROVs three days to get out a single bolt. They later brought down new, more effective, tools, which proved to work quite nicely during the actual recent removal process.

Don't go along with conspiracy stories as the truth is always a lot closer to home (human nature) but I do suspect that bp is doing all it can to prevent the true rate of oil flow into the GOM to be ascertained to reduce their financial liabilities (human nature).

Looking at who has something to gain or something to loose is a great starting point to investigating the credulity of parties involved in any activity. I understand that there is a 4300 dollar per barrel shot gun facing BP and other leakers buried in the civil legal system.

The history of BP estimating the leakage starting at 1,000 bpd estimates leading eventually to 60,000 bpd estimates taken together with their other admitted cost saving steps that apparently lead to this mess, spur my own investigation for other actions that lead to gains and losses and to have conspiratorial level distrust of BP.

The history of BP estimating the leakage starting at 1,000 bpd estimates leading eventually to 60,000 bpd estimates

Boy, this one is hard to kill. ALL the public estimates made so far have come from the government, not BP. BP didn't challenge the estimates and did defend the 5,000 bpd estimate for awhile there, but it didn't come out with any on its own...except, ironically, on May 4, when it told Congress the spill could be as high as 60,000 bpd, which has turned out to be the government's current high estimate.

Are you saying that you are inclined to believe the information at face value around these kind of catastrophic events. I've worked in the Government sector, and it is my personal experience that these people are more concerned with how they can spin perceptions as well as avoiding accountability. It is in the DNA of those who seek power.

What is in question is not the validity of the information, it is its origin.

All of the initial estimates of the flow came from some combination of NOAA and the US Coast Guard. Later estimates have been issued by the Flow Rate Technical Team. BP almost always either referenced the official estimates or avoided mentioning them altogether.

It has not been unusual for the press to conflate BP and other sources, short-cutting it by saying "BP's rates," but the press has not exactly covered itself in glory with their reporting on this event.

I was trying to get my head into the place of those who believe that the real gusher that feeds Lake Simmons is six miles away yet can't be located- apparently can neither be seen nor heard. Yet it is more real than a well that offers only physical manifestation. The mental place felt familiar. And gave me a name for the ineffable gusher: "The 'oly Ghost."

LOL! Thanks for the wit, wrb

Here's a recent (20 minute) interview with the man himself:

He talks about the gusher, the oil lake and telling lies...

...oh, and methane/methanol killing people on the gulf ;) - very odd

You think someone would notice a second oil slick on the satellite images? Or is this 2nd oil leak something you need special eyeglasses to see?

Smells like BS to me. The criteria for well integrity was 8,000 to 9,000 psi and they have 6,800 psi. That reservoir would have to be alot smaller and/or loss alot higher than they have claimed, to loose 2,000 psi. All they have convinced me of is their incompetence.

Have they decided to leave it capped? Are they still feeding dispersant?

But earlier you said

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.

And now you say

All they have convinced me of is their incompetence.

So what is it "good estimates of the situation" or "incompetence"

Making a good estimate is not validation of sufficient competence to handle the situation. It would be more likely that they have inside information and the ability to manipulate it.

With the well being shut in, I dont see a need for dispersant.

That was not the question. ARE the feeding it? Should is a whole other question.

Flipper, they'll make the decision to leave it capped after they get more data. The reservoir seems to be fairly small.

I'm used to this phenomenom, which we call the Shrink-to-fix-axiom. When a well is proposed, the reservoir size is set to be the right size to convince management to approve the well. Then, as we get data, it shrinks to fit the size it has to be to approve development. Later, when the real engineers take over, they shrink it even more to make sure the SEC filing is kosher and they comply with Sarbanes Oxley. Later, when the well produces a bit better, they raise the figure again. So you get a curve like a boomerang, sort of like the horns on one of those mangy cows they use in their football games in Austin.

I don't think they are feeding dispersant at the time. If I were BP, I would take the left over Corexit, and package it in one gallon containers to be used as driveway cleaner.

Shrink-to-fit is a nice way of saying they will tell you whatever suites their needs at the moment. Sounds more like a bunch of criminals. That is why I have to wonder about the Corexit. I heard that Nalco is getting like $100 per gallon for the stuff. Not a likely purchase for someone with a oily driveway.

AND I also heard that they are the humble recipients of Federal Stimulus Funds.

It's human nature, and the shrink to fit is an internal problem, not external. I guess you don't get the way a large corporation works, nor the way people behave. You may never learn if you don't go through the experience. The shrink to fit problem is caused by individuals within the organization who work like crazy to get THEIR project approved. Management gets wise to it, so they usually put on very high hurdles before they approve the project. So it works like this: "Sir, I think this horse can jump 10 ft". Management then says: "Ok, then before we buy it we want to see it jump 8 ft". And the paperwork is done showing the horse jumps 8 ft. Later, the project moves forward saying the horse can jump 8 ft, and management knows all the time it only jumps 6. THEN the time comes to level with the regulatory authorities, and they call an engineer, and he knows Sarbanes Oxley and the SEC are out there, so he says "It's a nag, it can only jump 5 ft". Even later, after they put the horse through the paces, they realize it jumps 6 ft 3 inches, and that's what they report.

Your paranoia and hostility don't let you learn, and realize when somebody in a good-natured way tries to show you the way things work inside an oil company, but that's the way it is. Just remember next time you turn on the light, who's behind it.

$100 a gallon? Whom ever you heard this from is clearly a very poor source of information. I have some practical knowledge of the pricing of dispersants in commercial applications from work in paper recycling I did about 10 years ago. Even the more exotic materials containing silicone oils rarely are above $1 a pound. The ingredients in Corexit suggest pricing circa 50 cents or less per pound.

Your source is off by a factor of 25.

Sadly, I'm finding more shrink-to-fit than I'd like, even here on TOD. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6740/679334


Is stabilizing at a lower pressure possible evidence of a smallish leak downhole? I guess we will know if pressure stabilizes and then starts dropping, assuming they leave the well capped long enough. Anyway, as long as the relief works, I don't suppose it matters.

I do not buy into the depleted reservoir explanation. I think they have a leak. The pressure may line out at some lower than expected pressure if the leak is stable. The problem is, if the leak starts to grow. This would be indicated by a dropping pressure. Then they have to make a decision in a timely manner. Otherwise, I think they will just play media and information games.

Leak behaviors can be tricky because the system moves towards pressure and temperature equilibrium that can manifest in pressure variations. So you need to have a good understanding of your system, and hopefully a model of it, to assess behaviors and what the possible root causes are.

You are assuming that the whole reservoir would depressurize uniformly during the blowout. Another scenario is that there was pressure drawdown near the well, extending radially from it. In other words, there would be an increasing flow profile starting at the top of the well (nearing zero) going towards the well bottom and then increasing further going radially from the well. As this pressure profile took 2 months to form, it would similarly take a long time to equilibrate after shutoff. Right now, the pressure is slowly increasing at a rate they say is consistent with this depletion model.

Joules, you are absolutely correct, other than the first statement, which says I'm assuming something I'm not assuming. The pressure drawdown is indeed not uniform. And it's not necessarily radial if the well is located in a reservoir shaped like a hotdog, in thich case it's radial and then it hits boundaries (when it gets to the side of the hot dog), and it becomes sort of linear and radial.

We define the pressure field to be in transient mode until the pressure pulse caused by changes in the well rate reaches a boundary, at which time it changes over to what we call pseudo steady state. The flow profile you describe is a little odd. I think you mean a pressure profile?

Anyway, as Kent Wells explained this morning in his daily show, they are now taking the pressure, and plotting it on graph paper, and it's looking like it fits a classic Horner plot. But Kent's briefings are fairly short, and they're meant for the media, so the really good questions don't get asked. And Kent is a very smart guy, he's dancing around some of the more critical points, to avoid giving away figures the wolves can use to attack BP later. Eventually they'll have to write down their conclusions in a report, but I bet this will be really looked over by lawyers. The real nugget will be the amount of oil produced by the well.

carrying over from the previous thread:

i would like to see your calculation of ooip. i think you are saying 40 mmstb ?

you claim my compressibility is too high(i dont have a compressibility). me thinks the compressibility you are refering to is the one proposed by jamesrwhite and the ooip is the one proposed by jamesrwhite.

i merely pointed out that jamesrwhite was using a material balance calculation applicable to an ideal gas reservoir.

fdoleza, you are absolutely correct, other than the first statement, which says I'm assuming that you're assuming something that you're not assuming.

(I was replying to 'Flipper)

OK, as long as your're not assuming I'm assuming something I don't assume, then I'm just assuming you don't know what I know, and I don't know what you know. Between the two of us, we can assume Flipper doesn't assume we don't know.

So glad to see you fellers working so close on this!

Felix Unger on the dangers of the presumptuous assumption:


You've been reading up on Marx.


Glossing over lots of minutiae and not parsing the split hairs, 6,745 psi is a good number. Take 6,745 psi at BOP + 6,859 psi due to the weight of oil in the bore above the pay zone @18.2K feet = 13,604 psi for reservoir pressure.
These numbers are good, very good.

Your number for the weight of oil in the wellbore is off.

All they have convinced me of is their incompetence.

Yes, wholly incompetent. Nice summary judgement, however demonstrably incorrect.

Check the cams. No dispersant, since there's no oil to feed it into.

There are alot of cams that are blacked out and alot of ways to feed and spray dispersant. They have even been spraying Corexit from airplanes.

Yes, they're blacked out, indicating a coverup. If they're injecting Corexit then there must be another nearby gush of oil that we're not seeing because they don't want us to see it. Either they're hiding another well stack or there's a hole that the gush is escaping from or a crack in the sea floor or both or all three.
And besides that there aren't any ROVs with cams on over at Simmons Gulch proving that it's not there, so it probably is.

I think that about covers it, except for spraying Corexit from the air. We're in the dark there.

Spraying dispersant from aircraft and even helicopters is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I've seen pictures of ships with spray arms spraying dispersant on slicks too. A lot of oil is on the sea surface and aerial spraying might be the best method to reduce the oil slick at any given point due to lack of skimmers in that locality, poor weather conditions etc.

It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you do not breathe the air or swim/fish in the water. However, if you value the environment and your health, the thing to do would to would be to expect that three months is plenty of time to obtain skimmers. This guy in Alaska has a rig that can easily be attached to a conventional fishing boat. All he has gotten is bla bla bla innovative technology form bla bla bla. http://www.crudesolutions.org


"Water and sand along Alabama's coast should contain no more than five parts per million of oil or petroleum, according to Bob Naman, an analytical chemist. But, the samples we collected tested much higher.

From 16 ppm to 221 ppm, our results are concerning. Even more disturbing is what happened to a sample collected from the Dauphin Island Marina near oil containment boom."


The manticore report is here:

They're using flying boxcars left over from Vietnam, likely same ones that sprayed me wit Agent Grape, to Cortex the GOM.

I offered the use of an Antonov 22 equipped with a special boom to burn the surface of the water and the beach with a propane flame burning at 700 degrees F. This gets rid of all the oil, and vaporizes some of the water, creating a nice mist which falls back and cleanses the environment. The An22 can make 6 flights a day, and cover about a square mile. It leaves the area sterilized, and there's no oil at all. But they won't lease it from me for some reason.

The "manticore report" is disturbing in that it reports a high concentration in seawater of propylene glycol, which it takes as a proxy for Corexit levels.

Who did the research and wrote the report? Where were the samples taken? Why is that information not included in the PDF research summary? How is this report connected to James Fox of Veritas, whom many would consider a crackpot?

K3d, please don't take this as an attack on you, but I'm mystified as to the provenance.

Since there is still likely to be oil slicks on the Gulf surface, spraying dispersant on the slicks would likely continue for a few days after the well is contained. Of course after the oil weathers the use of dispersant becomes ineffective.

So if you hear of dispersant being sprayed from planes after say a week of claimed shut-in there is a legitimate reason to start asking serious questions.

I thought the EPA required the cessation of the use of dispersants on the surface some time ago, at the same time they asked for a reduction in the amount ejected at the seafloor.

Wholly incompetent is your summary and so you are correcting yourself. I do not think a reasonable person would deny a significant level of incompetence is involved in the Gulf mess, even if it is not wholly demonstrable.

I would characterize the current operation as at least competent. Well, so far. I believe you were addressing specifically a psi figure associated with the current operation and broad-brushed BP as "incompetent" based on your discomfort with the one figure you were focused on.

Yeah, I used a little hyperbole. "Incompetent" in the context you used it in is a subjective measure. I'm not sure I'd call BP "incompetent" but it's pretty clear that they were careless and will probably be found negligent for allowing the blowout.

I did not do the broadbrushing, you did.

I quote: "All they have convinced me of is their incompetence."

This exercise isn't contributing to TOD so I'm bailing.

Flip: 8k-9k is based on MEASURED reservoir pressure before incident minus head of oil and sets the upper bound. 6k is based on pressure during kill attempt and sets a lower bound. These are upper and lower limits based on real world measurements. The answer would be expected to lie between these limits in a good situation. Below in a bad. They are not in the middle, they are below however they are in bounds. The next step is to verify, which they are doing. So far, so good.


Your criterion for competence is mighty high. We are talking about the massed engineering talent of the world oil industry augmented by the US DOE and several very special consultants.

If there isn't competence in this aggregation of talent it does not exist within the human race, and likely never has.

With the relief well (I prefer "intervention well" since is to plug and intervene in the flow rather than relieve the pressure) only 4.8 feet from the blown-out well, there is no need to guess at the bottom pressure. The formation pressure is known to those bungling, I mean running, this disaster. The unknown is the weight of the static fluid in the column and that value can be calculated with reasonable accuracy using the average densities of the fluids that have reached the recovery vessels.

Downstream, the formation pressure is the bottom pressure after the well builds up, if it's all plumbed together. In other words, the intervention (aka relief) well is going to drill into an environment with a pressure which is going to be the same as the pressure they are measuring at the surface, plus the gradient from the surface to the point where the intervention (aka relief) well intercepts the annulus.

The relief is drilling rock with mud, which has to be weighted to control the flow of fluids into the wellbore, and make sure the rocks don't crumble. This mud is likely to exert pressure on the annulus in excess of the pressure which exists in the annulus. Which means the mud in the relief (aka intervention) well will flow fairly fast into the Macondo annulus. And this means they really do want to have an idea of what the pressure is, and the higher the better, because this minimizes the amount of fluid which will suddenly surge into the annulus of the wild well.

To estimate the static column density, they indeed take the samples of oil and gas, and perform what we call PVT studies, which can be used to model the wellbore fluids, and can give a pretty accurate idea of the column gradient profile. So this isn't really much of an unknown.

A bigger unknown is whether, when they cut into the annulus, they'll find an annulus connected to the flow path, or they find an annulus that's well cemented and thus they find nothing. Picture the well, it's a cylinder. This means the flow path to the surface could be ON THE OTHER SIDE, and the spot they hit is on the side where cement happens to be in good shape. So, it's conceivable, but not likely, to have the relief drill into rock, then cement, then touch steel (the casing itself), and have no mud losses (meaning the system is sealed tight).

At this time they'll have to call Dr Chu and the Admiral, and they'll have a huge head scratching session. And I presume they'll just put pressure to the pumps to see if they can frac to the open annulus. It should frac in a hurry, if it doesn't frac by itself anyway.

By the way, I got this idea for an oil refinery inside a well. We could drop the catalyst down the well, put hydrogen and the hot oil down, get the cracked hydrogenated oil up. Do you think this could work? It would be sort of like a Hydrotreater shaped like a spaghetti noodle shoved into the ground.

You need to realize that I'm mechanical, not chemical, so I don't consider myself an expert on cracking but, you could probably get cracking done, maybe even better there because of the monstrous pressures in addition to the free high temperatures. We usually only crack the heavies, so I'm not sure what it would do to the lights that are already in the blend but, maybe it would produce a much lighter crude for us to finish. However, we'll never admit you could crack in the well, you'd steal our jobs!!! You upstream guys have to leave something for the rest of us (for what little time we have left).

By the way, I got this idea for an oil refinery inside a well. We could drop the catalyst down the well, put hydrogen and the hot oil down, get the cracked hydrogenated oil up. Do you think this could work? It would be sort of like a Hydrotreater shaped like a spaghetti noodle shoved into the ground.

Interesting idea. I worked on something many years ago for PDVSA where we did that to refinery feedstock. The general idea was to sort-of pre-refine en route to the refinery. Like so many projects for the heavy stuff in Venezuela it petered out.

BTW, that catalyst is hell on valves.

Hydrogen compression is a significant cost associated with hydrocracking. Even if your idea were feasible, you would have to compress the hydrogen to nearly three times that which would be required for hydrocracking in a conventional refinery (3000 psi). You would also have to figure out how to preheat it all to an "ignition" temperature, and then deal with the exotherm.

Also, you would be hydrocracking lighter components, like kerosene, which isn't normally isn't part of a hydrocracker feed, into less valuable fractions (gas and naphtha), which would be a waste of valuable hydrogen.

In this case, the abundance of associated methane in the crude would dilute the hydrogen, reducing its "partial pressure" which is the thermodynamic driving force for reaction.

Nice try though--it might be possible to produce "heavier" crudes, or crudes from "depressurized" reservoirs by using this--not sure how you would get the catalyst down there however, or even if it would be possible to use one. Maybe some part of the material in the formation would act as a "weak" catalyst. You would probably have to inject H2 for awhile, and then wait for the pressure to build up from the ensuing exotherm before producing the crude.

Well, I could use a distillation unit to send 8 api resid to the hydrotreat well. The hydrogen would be mixed in with the resid at the surface, and the pressure would be delivered by the column weight. The catalyst can be hung in perforated liners, so we can flow through it but it won't be swirling around, and we can put a set of wells around the hydrotreat wells to control temperatures (they can either heat or take heat away as needed). I think I can make a well say 15,000 ft deep with a 13 3/8 inch casing, and rated to 900 degrees F, put the resid down, and pop back out with a 30 API product. A 15,000 ft well would give me about 3000 psi easy, depending on the amount of hydrogen we add.


Last thread, Propagandee asked about the distance of the DWH wreckage from the well and whether any ROVs had visited it.

(a) A Houston Chronicle story puts the wreckage at about 1,500 feet northwest of the well.

(b) Early on but not immediately (mid-Mayish?), someone here posted a few screengrabs of a ROV's investigation of the debris. I remember one view included the handrail of a walkway, the only piece I recognized (no doubt folks familiar with rigs would have seen more). Glimmering, haunting images.

Places where ROV's have seen debris on the sea floor are marked with a "wreck" symbol on this sketch map. The riser fell to the north; the Deepwater Horizon sank to the northeast.

FARRRRR more complete than my aborted version of exactly the same thing.

well done.

Oops. Just missed the deadline!! This is a continuation of our discussion on handling a worst-case oil flow. FD suggested a special rig that he thought would take two years to build.

Maybe less than two years, if we say no more drilling until its ready. :>)

How about instead of a special manifold 300 feet underwater, we use standard TEE connectors, spaced 500 feet apart, and a line of 12-inch pipe extending as long as it needs to handle the entire flow. At each TEE, we have a valve and a smaller pipe to the surface. The connectors at the surface could be available for whatever ships can handle some of the flow. When the weather gets bad, the ships move away, and leave flares sticking up maybe 20 feet from the top of the waves.

Good discussion. Lot's of details to be worked out, how to keep the flares burning in a high wind, etc. Looks like we are reaching our limit on comments. We need a few more days. How about we move this thread to http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout? If you have never used Google groups, don't worry, it is real easy. See you there.

[My reply to Levi's reply about whether there are any visuals of the Deepwater rig remains...]

Punny, but not very helpful.

I have to think that doing a visual examination of the debris field would have been the very first thing that BP would have done in order to determine if any of it would interfere with their subsequent operations.

Given the ongoing litigation between Deepwater and all the various insurance companies involved, I suspect that there is plenty of visual evidence attached to the lawyers' discovery files. (Think salvage value and the fact that even after the initial payout of $401M, the rig had an insured value of $560m, so there's still money on the table.


BTW, Wikipedia has the wreckage 1300 yds NW of the well.

I have to think that doing a visual examination of the debris field would have been the very first thing that BP would have done in order to determine if any of it would interfere with their subsequent operations.

Given the ongoing litigation between Deepwater and all the various insurance companies involved, I suspect that there is plenty of visual evidence attached to the lawyers' discovery files.


Thanks lotus for the Houston Chron article cite of 1500 feet. I had mistakenly used 1300 yards above when it should have been feet.

You're welcome, but at this point, NW seems to be losing to NE 2-1, so beats me who's right.

"Think salvage value"

Well I've been thinking about it and I've come to the conclusion that with a water depth of around 1 mile, any salvage operation would cost far more than the wreck would be worth in weight of steel. IMO that rig is not going to be recovered to the surface for its salvage value.

This is a repost of a question put up just before the previous thread closed.

The interpretation of the 6745 psi value seems to hinge on the pressure of the oil reserve at the bottom of the leaking well. I was wondering if the reservoir pressure was going to be measured. The leaking well is probably too clogged with drill pipe and/or blocked by kinks and topkill debris. But the relief wells offer an opportunity. Commenter "dipchip" pointed out that the relief well is currently above the pay zone, full of mud and drilling gear, and that special gear is needed to measure formation pressure. Those are good points since it makes it clear that measuring reservoir pressure would be terribly expensive. For us newbies, then, I have to ask if there will be any effort to get formation pressure measured? If the reservoir is still at the previous estimate (11,900 psi, as I recall) then the low value in the BOP would seem worrisome.

While I was writing my question, commenter "Downstream Eng" wrote an opinion that the folks running the relief well should have the needed data on reservoir pressure. Who's right? Is it "dipchip" who asserts that special measuring gear is needed down well, or is it "Downstream Eng" who asserts that regular operations give you the reservoir pressures?

George, the relief well will intersect the wild well above the pay, but they'll have a pretty good idea of the downhole pressure because they can use the column gradient from intersection point to the reservoir. This will be just another data point to add to the number being aquired now using the shut in pressure build up.

Before drilling Macondo, BP would have made a detailed pore pressure prediction for the whole column using offset well data, seismic velocities, and geologic modeling. This is necessary for planning casing depths and mud weights. Adjustments are made while drilling. Additional information from the original borehole falls into three categories of increasing precision. 1) mud weight, ecd's, well behavior (gas, cuttings, sticking etc), and logged while drilling resistivity. 2) LWD Geotap pressures were taken in the Macondo well (e.g. see slide 6 in BP presentation at http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/BP-Production.Casing.... ). Very precise measurmentss were made during wireline logging runs with the MDT tool.

Some of the MDT and Geotap pressures are plotted on the post-drill, pre-blowout BP slides linked above as well as the BP interpretation of fluid pressure and fracture pressure.

All these data were undoubtedly used to plan the relief wells. Of course the present reservoir pressures may be lower due to "production" if the connected volume is not too large.

My rule of thumb is .45 PSI per foot for sea water and the fluid column is about .8 of water .8*.45*13,000=4,680+6745 I expect formation pressure at about 11,425.

Your number is off. Don't use 0.8, use something a lot smaller.

Agree. Try a factor of .5. Your estimate of .8 would be valid for liquid hydrocarbons. Depends on the density of the soup coming up the barrel ... 40% methane (gas) at 7ksi and 60% liquid hydrocarbons. If the methane were liquid (and it isn't due to being above Tc) it would have a density of 422 kg/m3. That puts the density of the mixture at some number below 650 kg/m3.

I'm on vac away from my pc, but I do recall that based on the surface measurements for GOR, oil and gas density, industry standard correlations suggest in situ oil density of around 0.24 psi/ft.

Even at reduced average wellbore pressure and temperature this would be an ok number to use.

Prior to shutin there will have been free gas in the wellbore, but much of this will have reentered solution in the first few minutes of closure.

Given the new information on pressure, why is it that the top kill didn't work?

Tens of thousands of barrels of mud shot out the BOP?

I thought the mud was being pushed out by the oil.
But they were troubled that they couldn't get high enough pressures, that the well was compromised below the sea floor.
So confusing!

Additionally, this morning's NY Times reveals that they planned two more steps as part of top kill but Sec Chu decided it was too risky and ordered it stopped.

So it didn't actually fail, it was aborted.

Of course if it hadn't been it might have failed spectacularly, at least as far as they knew at the time.


Then capping, it seems to me, was as risky as top kill, albeit less violent... no?

My sens is that BP convinced Dr Chu that the ability to go slowly and listen for signs of failure and perhaps other things (improved modeling?) provided a sufficient additional safety margin.

The article says that BP execs didn't want to abort top kill but Chu ordered it. Then they didn't want to delay the shut in but he needed convincing before letting it go forward.

I hope everybody is keeping good notes.

Or the other way round and continuing with Top-Kill would have been as safe as the current operation but they decided they didn't have the data to conclude that at the time and now they do?

When you have an on-going operation that is not going anywhere near to plan it is a good idea to step back from it. They have had plenty of time to analyse and think about it. What they are doing now is based on that analysis.


This is an interesting article about Dr. Chu's rise from onlooker to key decision-maker in the team.

A point I hadn't seen made before is that one reason the BP/oil people wanted to do the shutdown was to prove that such a wild well can be capped. So to what extent is this a novel accomplishment? IE, capping at depth, capping this strong a flow? What was the previous experience of capping without mud? Has a second BOP been used for this purpose before?

Heh! Heh!

Couldn't build enough pressure to force the oil to go down. The well was younger then, had more pressure.

I don't think they ever got enough mud past the partially closed ram, and I don't think (based on discussions I've read here) that the mud consistency was what they needed even if they did get past that constriction.

If and when they ever get the BOP to the surface, it should tell a lot about why it failed on that fateful night, and why the top kill was called off.

The mud had to be pumped in faster than it was escaping and the input line was restricted by what was available for an input or you could say the input was choked and the mud could not overcome the well pressure.

and is it also probable that the pressure limit in the mud feed line to the BOP was reached, which limited the volume of mud entering the well to top kill?

fossil energy

If the now capped well spew 60.000 barrels, that equates to about 10.000 tons a day with each ton roughly containing a fuel value of 10.000 kwh. In other words the well released fossil fuel worth 100.000 MWH per day or 4166 MW per hour. To produce that amount of energy with wind power requires an installed base of about 10.000 2 MW wind turbines, asuming a run of the mill load factor of 20,8%.
The installed wind power capacity of Austria surpassed this week the 1000 MW mile stone, a mere 5% of the rogue gulf well. So is a transition to a sustainable economy without loss of quality of life realistic ?

Nuclear power will be needed.


And probably some geoengineering, like it or not, to save our bacon.

More of the same thing that's fried our bacon.

Well we could let Mother Nature reduce our populate to one or two billion, move North (and South) while we wait a few thousand years for the greenhouse gasses to be absorbed out of the atmosphere.

That'd be inconvenient though.

Of course. The unacceptability of inconvenience will push the likely inevitability of extinction to certainty.
Mission accomplished.

One wonders if this happened on Venus.

Is there intelligent life in the universe?
You need to ask?
OK, enough OT. Don't want to trigger a technocopian meltdown.

Open threads can restrict topic?

Only if you are a bird dodging all those propellers, I guess.

I got a lot of ideas for sustainable energy production, one of them is top secret, and I need to work on it a bit more. If it works, I'll be the Steve Jobs of renewable energy, and I can buy me a 14 ft glastron boat to go fishing.

You won't have time to go fishing if you do what you say you can do.
I also have an alt. energy program in the works. But, I'm going to buy a 50 foot POST sportfish with a pair of 1200 hp Nanonutron engines.

How does your calculation suggest it is not? Would we need more turbines than there is space for in the world?

An interesting calculation would be the number of turbines that could be built for the tens of billions this well has cost.

We do know that we can't keep releasing carbon at current rates without loss of quality of life.

And folks on the Gulf have just seen their quality of life take a bit of a hit.

I don't get this. It looks like you are happy with our energy consumption rate, and you assume that "mantaining the quality of life" equals "consume all you can, as fast as you can, giving a f__k about efficiency".

Sounds a lot like Bush's father's "american way of life". Produce, consume, reproduce, consume, produce... Nice. It's a pity that this planet' size is just a sixth of what it should be to sustain such a parasitic behaviour globally.

I believe that increasing efficiency is the first step, and that doesn't forcibly mean reducing the quality of our lives (quite the contrary in fact).

Even if the US reduces its oil consumption by 60% which would approach Austrian levels of energy efficiency the life style would still be far from sustainable: Austria needs 221k Barrels of Oil a day to run its economy.

I really don't get the reasoning behind that. It would simply be 60% more sustainable than now...

Are you suggesting that halving a nation's energy consumption is a waste of time? All or nothing?

Up to a point yes. Increasing energy efficiency in a world with readily available oil products is a way of growing the economy. Efficiency gains wont go towards halving the nation´s energy consumption, they will go into added economic activity. In a sense just more and more GDP dollars hinge on a barrel of oil.
If we get into a resource constrained world, it is a different game all together. The upkeep of the infrastructure not least of which is the provision of energy itself becomes progressively more expensive. A point will be reached were high value hydrocarbons have to be replaced with low value kilowatts from wind power for example. 10.000 2 MW wind turbines mean 15 Billion US Dollars investment cost. For that money you still can get several deep sea wells.

I thought one of the main problems with the top kill was that the top of the well was flowing. With the well shut in it seems to me that the top kill would be straight forward and represent less risk then breaching the well casing below with a bottom kill.

Well, it's about mid-day today 1120 Central time (I'm in Pacific time)when will we get an update ?
Nine ROV cameras currently on-line.

ROV cams:
(Note: you may need to copy and paste the ROV link to your browser. F/fox won't work for me, use IE.)

Not till tomorrow morning unless there's a reason for one.

Ruh-roh, Bobby.

Massive oyster deaths on Louisiana reefs

NEW ORLEANS — Surveys of coastal oyster grounds have discovered extensive deaths of the shellfish, further threatening an industry already in free-fall because of BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The deaths are blamed on the opening of release valves on the Mississippi River in an attempt to use fresh water to flush oil out to sea. Giant diversion structures at Caernarvon and Davis Pond have been running full-tilt since May 8 on the orders of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

More than 34,550 cubic feet of water per second is flowing into coastal Louisiana, enough to fill the Superdome once an hour.

“What I saw does not look good,” Patrick Banks, oyster manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said in an e-mail. He said he found no evidence of oil on the reefs east of the Mississippi River, but he said they “looked to be fallow reef.” ...

Oysters use salt water to make their shells and need it to keep their vital membranes working properly. They can tolerate small doses of fresh water for perhaps a couple of weeks, but they will die if they suck in too much.

“The public reefs on the east side of the Mississippi — American Bay, Black Bay, Breton Sound — that is where most of our seed comes from, and they might be closed for a long time,” Tesvich said.

Earl Melancon, an oyster expert at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, said he has already written off this year for oyster production.

“If you lose an oyster reef, it takes three years minimum to get it back into production,” he said. “And it could take five years.” ...

Po' li'l guys can't find a home:

Most likely, the oysters that will do the best will be those close to the Gulf of Mexico, where there’s more salt water.

But those shellfish could be vulnerable to the oil, which has been washing into coastal waters since the end of April.

The Louisiana oyster spawns by releasing larvae that swim through the water and find places to sit on and grow.

The oyster goes through various stages — from growing a leg to losing it, changing sexes and growing a shell by extracting calcium carbonate from the water — until it is big enough to sell on the market, between 2 and 4 years old. ...

Use your mono-legs to pogo on over to Mississippi, y'all. No problem on their reefs (yet), sez here.

Said the Walrus to the Carpenter: The time has come to talk of other things, like cabbages and kings!

Pay attention all ye 'open the rivers and wash it out' crowd. Just like Newton's third.


"Couldn't build enough pressure to force the oil to go down. The well was younger then, had more pressure."


According to a former main article here about erosion in the soft sandstone reservoir rock forming gullies, the oil flow has been gradually increasing due to erosion. So which is it- decreasing or increasing? (Or nobody really knows much of anything about pressures and BP are liars?)


Lynnie, don't confuse OIL production with GAS pressure. The autogenous drive caused by the natural gas in the formation is what has been pushing this oil to the surface in such force and volume. That natural gas depletion could account for much of the pressure reduction in the well, even while oil PRODUCTION was increasing. If you look up enhanced oil recovery, you'll see that in "dead" wells, they need to use gases like CO2 pumped underground to encourage the oil to come up. This is a reason that most oil wells are about 50% recovery of OOIP (original oil in place). Once the natural gas is out of the formation, you need something else like water or CO2 to push it out, and at some point the cost of doing that exceeds the value of the resource underground.

This was expected and shouldn't suprise anyone. Oyster reefs recover a little faster than mentioned in the article, and usually with huge increases in overall production the following years due to all of the newly emptied, clean shells for the little guys to attach to. The oyster beds seaward will also exhibit increased production, including the Mississippi reefs.
There are lots of parts of the state(Terrebonne Parish for instance) that are not being effected by the freshwater inflow. The poboys are safe, and the affected oystermen should be compensated. The state will likely get money to help speed up the recovery of the state reefs. I think using these outflows were one of the smartest things done for the good of the entire state.

L, What's going on with you and the oyster stories or should I ask?

It's obvious Bobby is out of touch in many ways. He's not an oyster man or he would have considered his options before the flush. Who would have though fresh water could be so toxic or he could be so stupid.

Most of my relatives were in the seafood industry when I was a kid growing up on the panhandle. My grandpa would go out and tend the (his) oyster beds religiously. I would sit and watch as he would cull with care making sure not to damage the small ones. He would haul shells out to cultivate new beds or improve he older ones. I remember the other oyster men tending their beds also but I don't remember how they divided up the bed areas but it seemed to work and everyone harvested from the areas they tended.

Thanks for your burlap and chicken feed pearl yesterday. One of my many chores was crushing shells for the chickens and if the hens were laying soft shell eggs my name was called. Grandpa's burlap bags were mainly dairy feed bags in a variety of sizes but a bag of oysters was by count so bag size wasn't an issue just the cost.

Lawdy, mytie, what rich memories you have. What's with oyster stories and me? Dunno, but every time I so much as see the word, my heart and mouth (respectively) leap and water.

I try not to think about oysters because the west coast price puts them almost out of reach. I still need my fix so I make sure I go to a resturant that serves quality.

The fishing industry is a lot like the oil industry; if you're not in it you don't know it. When the guys I worked with would get together for oysters, soda or alcohol they wanted me to wait a half hour or they would go hungry. I could shuck faster than four or five of them together but they were fun to watch. After they had a few beers I would tell them to stop and I would shuck for them or we would end up at the hospital ER.

Regarding the Jindal flush my opinion swings both ways. It's difficult to see the whole picture and ecological need during a disaster. I think it's evident there is no planning to address the issues because planning for as bad as it gets is never at the level of reality. Natural distasters sort themselves out but man made incidents have wide swings and the tradeoffs never seem to have a balance of good. Which industry or cause is the most important or has the political clout to support their argument gets the attention.

The linked herein doesn't look good. Most readers have heard the news per se but I thought this source might be a good digest and with some links and quotes. The problem might be leaks from the drill hole into other locations on the seabed (which concern was made light of in the past by some commentors, albeit being acknowledged some warnings in that regard were extreme and/or from offbeat writers):


Why would it crossflow now but not before the well was drilled?

With two separate zones there is no communication between them to allow crossflow until the well is drilled.

I can't get the picture. The well is closed between the first zone to the cap... right?

Imagine a layer of porous sand, say 40 ft thick. Then overlaid by an impereable shale of 300 - 400 ft thick. Then above that a 20 ft permeable sand. Until the well is drilled the shale isolates the two sands.

Then drill the well and you have communication between them.

If they are of different pressures then the higher pressure zone can flow (crossflow) into the lower pressure zone, through the wellbore.

Kill weight mud prevents this while drilling.

Casing and cement should prevent this after the well is cased. Provided the cement is good.

I understand the cement job in Macando is suspect.

It is unless the cement or the casing failed.

Wow, Heading Out and fdoleza are celebrities quoted in the article.

The article has no mention of Horner Plot that I suspect is key to understanding if where pressure is going is more important than where pressure is. I have no knowledge of Horner Plot and could use an explanation of its role in oil exploration.

From http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6737#comment-679137

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?

Doesn't anybody know how to use a search engine?

Not being a Petroleum Engineer, I did a google lookup of "Horner's plot".

Had an interesting read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Country_Wife

The Country Wife is more neatly constructed than most Restoration comedies, but is typical of its time and place in having three sources and three plots. The separate plots are interlinked but distinct, each projecting a sharply different mood. They may be schematized as Horner's impotence trick, the married life of Pinchwife and Margery, and the courtship of Harcourt and Alithea.

But the link at http://www.peteng.com/jmm/hnr01.html seems more relevant to analysis of shut in wells.

Pressure buildup (PBU) survey involves measuring the changes in wellbore pressure with time after a well has been shut in. PBU requires that the well produce at a stabilized rate before shut-in. The PBU equation introduced by Horner is given by:

See rest of the above article for the equation that is solved and do your own search of "Horner Plot" to see what the assumptions are and such.

You plot increasing pressure versus the square root of time on semi-log "paper". (No one actually uses paper anymore)

This has the effect of representing the radial diffusivity equation after it has been solved for radial (Horner) flow.

You then can extropolate the building pressure to the final reservoir pressure.

Then... "Admiral Allen said the test would continue in six-hour increments and that any new data would be reviewed by scientists and engineers from the government, BP and other companies. He said there would be “enhanced monitoring” of the seabed, including acoustic tests that could detect tiny bubbles of methane gas coming from the bed, which would be evidence of damage to the well".

A couple of TOD comments confirmed those bubbles exist, including mine, so I am afraid soon we`ll see the spilling of oil/gas again, very sorry to say it, I`d better be wrong.

The bubbles were said to be not a concern at this morning's briefing and related to the BOP cooling to ambient temperature and not communication with the reservoir. Skandi 2 was busy at the bubble pipe earlier clearing out some crap from the pipe and samples have been taken just to make sure. Hopefully the results of these tests confirm there is no problem.

The kind of bubbles we saw erupting in the sand weren't the ones referred to at this morning's briefing

What bubbles erupting in the sand?


Swift Loris describes Sen. Mikulski as "a pistol." According to this WSJ story from a couple of days ago, she must skeer Nalco:

Sen. Barbara Mikulski said she might subpoena Nalco Holding Co. executives to testify at a future hearing after the maker of a chemical dispersant being used to combat the Gulf of Mexico oil spill declined to testify today.

“I’m sorry they didn’t come,” the Maryland Democrat said at the start of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on use of dispersants in the Gulf. BP PLC has been using Nalco’s Corexit 9500 to break up oil that has been leaking from an undersea well.

In opening today’s hearing, Mikulski said that lawmakers “wanted those who represent the chemical industry, because I do believe in better living through chemistry.” She went on to say: “I want the record to show that the Nalco did decline, that its board of directors is made up of industry executives from BP, Exxon, Monsanto and Lockheed. And I’m sorry that they didn’t come, because I think they do a lot of good things, and there are questions that we have.

“But it’s America, and we’re not going to subpoena them for this hearing. We might subpoena them at another hearing, and I reserve that right.”

Of the Nalco directors Mikulski referenced, those with ties to BP, Exxon, and Lockheed no longer work at those companies, a regulatory filing shows.

I see the recently posted insane rant was removed, good. I can only repeat:

"The complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working”.-Anon

For many, it seems that this quote is their motto.

It looks as though the much hyped "A" Whale is exiting the GOM.


I'm strongly suspecting that the reason the pressures are less than expected is because the Macondo well has been in communication with and draining a small compartment, rather that the entire accumulation. This reservoir is most likely composed of turbidite sands. Turbidites reservoirs are often "amalgumated" sands. That is they are deposited by a series of turbidity flows over some period of time. The sands may make one big pile, but are still individual sands. The pre-drill estimate of 50-100 million bbls is no doubt based on seismic data, which does a fair job of indicating the overall size of the sand accumulation. However, seismic is often too blunt a tool to image the individual turbidite sands that make up the whole sand accumulation.

In a compartmentalized reservoir, individual sands aren't well connected to one another. A well draining one sand may get little or no contribution from adjancent sands. In the normal oil field development and production situation a compartmentalized reservoir is a bad thing. It means more wells (hence more cost) are required to produce the field. In the present situation, compartmentalization may be a good thing. It means the last 80+ days of "production" may have drawn down the pressure in the compartment significantly from what was observed when the well was initially drilled.

I agree with this 100%. Compartmentalisation is the single biggest reservoir risk in the GoM. This well has flowed wide open for 2+ months with no pressure support. It's totally plausible that formation pressure has dropped significantly since GeoTap and MDT pressures were taken.

or maybe it's a giant reservoir and the well was producing 200,000 BOPD (wink).

My gut tells me BP and Obama are hiding something and it never steers me wrong. That said, I too am looking for facts to explain what they are covering up. It is a fact that there was a large methane eruption at the site and the well and it was releasing 40% to 70% methane which is high. The methane in the air was measured very high also, as would be expected.So I won't shrug off methane theories especially ones from Matai, if he can consult the Queen of England and g10 I too will pay attention. There was also found off
of terrebonne Bay a large " anomaly " as yet unexplained by NOAA. I guess time will tell.

I'm neither a geologist nor an ingeneer, I studied ancient Greek and Latin. And I am querying wheather the depletion of the reservoir is possible. However, I think that if it had been so the oil would have spilled more slowly in the last days.

Can someone explain to me if my argument is correct?

See PapaWhisky above.


Me too. For a while I studied the ancient languages used in the New Testament but finally quit. For the most part it was all Greek to me. :)

For the oil engineer types: In the scheme of things happening with the shut in well is compartmentalization, if true, a good thing or a bad thing?


From the point of view of the economic value of the reservoir, compartmentalisation is a bad thing.

A homogenous, connected reservoir can be drained with much fewer wells and much less expensive pressure support than a reservoir that's chopped up into multiple compartments. Multiple compartments can make a project uneconomic

However, from the point of view of having an uncontrolled blow-out, then a compartmentalised reservoir is a good thing.

My gut tells me BP and Obama are hiding something and it never steers me wrong

For a change, try listening to something a bit higher up in your anatomy.

Oldberkely: Very well put indeed!

Instincts are what kept man alive for centuries. How do you think cops stay alive on the streets? People can spout numbers and scenerios and they can be fudged but the gut never lies .

My gut usually says "gurgle...gurgle..glop..rumble". When it does it usually means I've been eating too much junk food. That's no lie!

Over the years man learned to trust his gut because he might well have ended up in the gut of the thing that made him nervous. There was very little downside to false positives about dangers on the savanna, but very grave consequences for false negatives. It's in our genes.

That said, Are Obama's administration and BP hiding things? Probably. Organizations and corporations feel it in their gut that secrecy is the better course. Are the things they are hiding of great consequence? Probably not, but the corporate savanna is populated with beasties like predatory lawyers and it's safer to travel in silence than to trumpet on your trail.

I can't believe the battery in the new capping stack isn't dead yet. Isn't that what happened to the original 100 million dollar BOP.

The new cap is solar powered. That's why the ROVs have to keep the lights on it.


WaPo just put up an interesting thought-piece datelined tomorrow. Kyle Thompson-Westra asks-and-answers "How could this event have been even nastier?" How immeasurably worse, he says, if multinational BP were -- like the owners of 88% of the world's oil reserves -- a state-owned company; when one of them replaces BP as the butterfingered schmuck traumatizing others, then we'll see some landmark ugly.

(I believe someone here recently made much the same point. Or am I hallucinating again?)

Of course!

There is nothing worse than the government being in charge...they are all incompetent goons!

Unless of course it's Obama, which means he hasn't been in charge enough...why, he is an egghead weakling!

Unless of course he gets money from a private company, which means it's highway robbery...the man is a socialist commie terrorist!


... Etc.

Ad infinitum, fer sher.

(However, KT-W's point is that the diplomatic/Great Game horror-show will be the rub.)

Lotus, I made the point some weeks ago I believe about Chinese companies possibly drilling off the coast of Cuba, and how would we deal with them? That would be less than 50 miles from Florida, or approximately how far Macando is from LA. The first drillers off Cuba look to be the Spanish though.

Ah, 'twas you, red? Good, I still have some grip on ye olde faculties. Whew!

Can someone post a clear calculation how one comes up with 8-9 ksi as the wellhead pressure, given the depth of the bore and the 11,900 psi measured in the original formation?

It appears one has to make assumptions on the density of the oil/gas mixture inside the well, as well as rely on calculated numbers for temperature gradient as a function of height (though I think the latter effect is small).

If one uses density numbers for oil (or even a little lower), one gets ~6-7 ksi. Density numbers would have to be about 45% lower to get the 8-9 ksi.

It is also not clear (at least to me) that it has been stated only psia meters are used and the numbers are psia. There is a suspicious 2 ksi difference between the simple calculation we have been making and the target numbers.


Very easy: They knew formation presure from GeoTap and MDT measurements.

They had samples of the oil from MDT. They send the oil to a lab, do a PVT study and get the density of the oil and the PVT properties. This will specify the gradient of the oil.

By the way, GoM oil can vary anywhere from 0.5 - 0.9 g/cc (0.21 - .39 psi/ft)

So this oil is just lighter than the numbers in popular literature? Or is it very gassy?

I guess the overall question is how confident are they in their calculations? I generally try to avoid setting up an experiment, the success or failure of which depends on a not well defined value, itself subject to tests and analysis.

Dmitry, you are asking exactly the same question that I'm asking, although posted in a different way http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6740#comment-679334


If they got an MDT sample then they should have a very good handle on the oil properties.

Dima: Gassy. Over 2000 ft3 per barrel of oil. Take a fairly rich gas, specific gravity 0.7 (air = 1), squeeze it inside the oil under pressure, dissolve it, and the let some of it evolve - no matter how you work it out, the oil and later the fizzy stuff in the well is less than half the density of water, quite a bit less. I keep telling you guys who are using the oil gravity (it's 37.5 degrees API), to remember to put the gas back in, but you guys keep forgeting.

The NYT piece on Chu is very revealing:

"In early May, he suggested using gamma ray imaging to determine the condition of the well’s blowout preventer, a move no one at the company had considered."

"He insisted in late June that a tighter cap be installed on the leaking riser."

"Early on, he suggested the use of high-energy gamma rays to see inside the wrecked blowout preventer, providing data that helped guide later steps at controlling the oil flow."

Robert Dudley, the top BP official handling the spill response, said that he was impressed not only with Dr. Chu’s technical virtuosity, but his command demeanor.

“He is confident, he is inquisitive and he seeks views from a variety of people,” Mr. Dudley said. “He can speak with senior executives and then with subsea engineers, and ask probing questions about pressure variants and burst steel casing. He can actually interpret the data and have a very sharp engineering discussion with an expert from BP.”

This is too weird. Before the well integrity test, we were told that high pressures in the range of 8-9,000 psi would indicate intact casing while lower pressures would be suspect. Ths issue of whether the reservoir pressure might have become reduced after all these weeks was hardly raised. In fact, when I raised it, the only response I got was a very confident reply that I was wrong, that it's possible to calculate quite precisely what the pressure ought to be, the implication being that if the casings were intact, we should get 8-9,000 psi readings. I haven't come across anyone who suggested, prior to the test, that low pressure readings may indicate a variety of reasons including reservoir depletion, and not just leaking casings.

Now that we are getting the low pressure readings, I feel as if folks are trying to go back and re-write the script, that yes, this low pressure can indeed be caused by reservoir depletion.

Look, I'm a nobody with no expertise, so to all you experts here on TOD, Which is it? Can reservoir depletion cause a low pressure reading now? If the answer is yes, WHY wasn't this raised by Thad Allen, Kent Wells, and all you experts here PRIOR to the test starting? If the answer is no, WHY is this issue being raised now?

Honestly, I learned a lot from this forum, but in recent days, I'm finding more and more reasons to make me question how much I should believe.

Hiver, it's occurred to me to wonder whether the "8-9K psi" they were throwing around pre-test already included expected depletion. But if it did, you'd think someone would have mentioned that.

Well, yes. That too.

Another question is, now that the RW is very close to the formation, it wouldn't be that difficult, would it, for them to get a reading, right? As discussed up thread?

So if the low pressure reading is due to reduced reservoir pressure, and they have indeed found this by taking readings from the RW, you'd have thought BP would want to share this with the public, since it would be one indication that maybe the well casings are still intact?

I give them another couple of days, to see if they'll hurry up and give us some answers to any readings from the RW. In the absence of such indications, I'd go with the assumption that compromised casings is the most likely cause of the 6800 psi reading.

The relief well will not enter the reservoir. It will intersect the original well above the reservoir so they will not be able to measure reservoir pressure (even if they did enter the reservoir I strongly doubt they would spend time running a formtation tester.)

Given that you're "a nobody with no expertise", what is the significance of your assumption?

My assumption is just for the purpose of my own education. Nothing more than that.

I'll take a non-expert attempt at translation here.

I think the oil field folks think they have answered your first question repeatedly. However the answer is always something like "the RW hasn't reached pay yet." They neglect a detail not likely to be understood by civilians: The pressure in the non-porous rock capping the oil is not going to be the same as in the oil layer. So they can't measure the relevant pressure from where they are.

Your second question:

If I understand it correctly the cross-flow explanation assumes that the casing is compromised but the layer most likely to be receiving the oil is deep enough it probably won't come to surface.

I doubt BP will announce anything until it has flowed for several days and they still don't see bad things developing.

Hiver et al -- Sorry to be late to the party…just got back from a log run. Re: reservoir depletion/drive. Has BP or anyone else presented evidence indicating if the reservoir energy is supported by water drive or pressure depletion? For those not familiar in a water-drive reservoir the pressure decreases very little even through full depletion. In pressure depletion drive it’s just the opposite: pressure decrease is proportional to volume produced. And then there’s a hybrid when there’s pressure depletion with some water drive support. DW reservoirs have been found at both extremes and hydrides in between.

With respect to measuring pressure the RW will need to be in direct communication with the reservoir... either in it or thru the annulus. They can get a rough idea by varying the MW and watching how the well responds (loses circulation or flows back). Of course, that would be risky. The can run an MDT pressure gauge on wire line but that could risk losing the RW hole if the tool gets stuck. But there is a pressure gauge they can add to the BHA (bottom hole assembly) that can send that info back to the surface via a signal sent thru the mud. That would the least risky way to get a pressure. It would perhaps also give them a clue as to where the wild flow is moving.

Rockman - thank you. Helpful as always.

Do you think, (sorry for asking you to speculate, just keen to know) based on your experience, that by now they may already have some idea whether the reservoir pressure has remained the same or has changed significantly? I'm not talking about small changes, but large ones?

Thanks again!!

Hiver -- Not up to speed on the pressures being measured at the cap but the cross chatter makes them sound relatively high. I'm sure some of the smarty pants here have estimated the effective back pressure form the column of oil/NG trapped in the csg now. Just shooting from the hip for now but sounds like there hasn't been a significnat drop in reservoir pressure. I may not be current but if the cap pressures are that high that could be cause for optimism that the csg isn't leaking into some underground blow out.

I think Rockman needs a special pay pal account for BlueBell donations!

Good teachers are as rare as hen's teeth, and you have been outstanding.

Thank you.

Mighty glad to see you back, Rockman.

(P.S. Though many words and numbers here still go way over my head, I'm pleased to report that three months ago, I wouldn't have been able to follow your comment a-tall -- but now: no problema. Hozanner!)

I don't think that is quite true.

I'm no expert but I think I understand the evolution of opinion on this. I think the bulk of the opinions prior were along the lines of "IF the reservoir is as big and porous as believed THEN significant depletion was unlikely.

I believe almost as soon as he saw the log FD started making noises about cross-flow and it being complicated.

Now people are addressing a different question. Instead of "what is most likely?" it is "how is the observed evidence possible?" And people have proposed reasonable-sounding answers, including reservoir fragmentation.

If the RW is in intact shale then it cannot provide an answer. As to your head point see my post above


Right. I did read your comment and understand it. I just don't understand how come no mention was made by TPTB of other possibilities for low readings PRIOR to commencement of the test (given especially there was a delay, and plenty of debate was going on behind closed doors). Perhaps they thought the public is too stupid to understand multiple alternative answers, but I just find it curious, and frustrating, that the fact that low readings may STILL not tell us the status of the well (ie ruptured casing vs reservoir depletion). If that had always been the case, I'm back to the original question, of WHY this particular test was necessary in the first place?

If you get a high reading, you can assume the well is intact. Fine. But if you get a low reading, you can't tell squat from squat. WHAT THEN IS THE PURPOSE of risking rupturing the well (see previous allusions to breaking eggs a al Rockman and others), this late in the day, when the RWs are so close?

I feel like they're running rings around us. It may well be that I'm just stupid, which of course I'll continue to remedy by learning as fast as I can. But right now something doesn't seem right, and it has to do with the purpose of doing this test.

Disclaimer: all I know about well engineering is what I've gotten here and in the #theoildrum IRC channel.

I been on a number of the Kent Wells tech briefing calls, and it's not nearly so simple as going for just a final pressure number to give the answer, though that's what everybody seems to focus on. What matters is well integrity, not pressure - the latter is a kind of proxy for the former.

They had models for the two cases that matter: well has integrity (but possibly with depletion), or well does not have integrity, and my take is that the shape of the curve matters as much as the final pressure, though the differences are said to be subtle. They've said that the curves are more consistent with the well-has-integrity case.

In addition, they have another test of temperature at the base of the BOP (the original one, I think), and it's gone to essentially ambient, down from whatever the temp of the product is. This tells them that there's not flow up one end of the casing and back down another part (sorry, using unfamiliar/wrong terms here).

Finally, everybody's worried about blowing something out: the casing, formation in the rock, etc., and they've said that many breaches are self healing: when the pressure drops, the breach point collapses on itself and closes the escape route. They have reason to believe that this formation is that kind, which reduces the risk of something really bad.

They're also doing (ahem) boatloads of monitoring: ROVs watching all around the seafloor, NOAA ship listening for methane, multiple seismic and sonar runs every day: if anything goes wrong, they can relieve the pressure right away by venting to the ocean. My impression is that it could be done in a matter of minutes by an ROV that's just 40 lateral feet below.

There cannot be any doubt that having two days of no-flow into the Gulf is a good thing, but the question is whether that benefit is worth the possibly catastrophic risk. I don't know what the right answer is, but everything I've seen says that the right people have weighed in on this, and they have made prudent risk-reward tradeoffs.

Maybe we would not make the same tradeoff, but it's not foolish or irresponsible - they have more data than we do, and in many cases, much more experience.

~~~ Steve

Well, I'm no reservoir engineer, but they are not just getting a single max pressure from this test. They are getting a pressure history on shut-in. Turns out there's a large field of endeavor devoted to divining the shapes of pressure v. time curves called PTA (pressure transient analysis), so presumably, with the pressure history they can model multiple scenarios and rule many of them out. Where's a good reseng when you need one.


Deleted Duplicate Post

Wrb - Sorry if I missed some of the previous chat details…just got back to TOD. I just asked above if anyone has presented any credible evidence for reservoir drive. Without that there’s a lot of “possibilities” which really means there’s no good answer yet. I could post dozens of fields that cover less than 100 acres each and they showed 100% water-drive: no pressure drop at all thru depletion. I can also point to fields that have produced over 100 million bo each and were 100% depletion drive: straight line pressure drop plot vs. produced volume. Likewise 100’s of tiny fields with pure pressure depletion and 100’s of big ones with very strong water drives. I could also show two oil wells just a 1000’ apart in the same reservoir in the same field with one being strong water drive (no pressure drop) and the other pure pressure depletion (it’s in an isolated fault block).

To make it even more confusing I can point to numerous wells with strong water drive that acted like pressure depletion due to reservoir damage near the well bore. In fact, one of the common causes for such damage is from producing the reservoir at too high a rate. So (by pure speculation)the blow out reservoir might have had a pure water drive character initially and then excessive rates might have caused “fines migration” which is now plugging the pores and causes more of a pressure depletion character. On more complication: excessive production in a water-drive reservoir combined with a large pressure draw down around the well could cause premature water production. In fact, that would have been great had this happened since it would have decreased the oil flow. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem the be the case.

Thank you.

That all makes plenty of sense

The short answer is that a higher pressure would indicate intact casing. However, a lower pressure raises other possibilities. It could be a casing leak which would be bad. But apparently there has been no indpendent evidence (nothing unexpected observed from the nearby relief well, no other flows from the seafloor observed from robot subs, no new shallow faults observed on seismic, etc) to confirm a leak.

Lower observed pressures during the top kill were hard to interpret because no one could be certain of the flow rate out of the broken riser. Caution was appropriate, in my view. Now the team trying to control the well now has more data to evauluate. Also consider that during the time between the top kill and the present, the well has continued to flow at a still uncertain rate (but obviously well in excess of 25,000 bbl/day). The longer the well flows, the more other possibilities must be considered, such as pressure drawdown.

Predicting oil well behaviour is a very uncertain business even under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances.

Additionally, the response of the Horner plot may tell then if they are seeing radial flow at the reservoir or something else.

Though I imagine that wellbore storage would be huge in this BU.

Before the well integrity test, we were told that high pressures in the range of 8-9,000 psi would indicate intact casing while lower pressures would be suspect.

Not exactly. We were told that >8000 psi would indicate an intact well, <6000 psi would probably indicate leakage, and in between would be inconclusive. A reading within that inconclusive range might be explained by a slight leak, by depletion, or by cross-flow. There is no double-talk here. I'm not qualified to discuss the condition of the well, just clarifying what we have been told.

There is a sort of "by the book" approach to testing, that is rarely followed today in many industries.

Basically, you write a test plan, where a test objective is clearly stated, with an unambiguous success/failure criteria. This criteria should not be based on quantities you really don't know with certainty. You hold a test review, where a lot of questions are asked and if you don't answer them well, you don't do the test. When you decide not to do the test, it isn't a personal thing, it's just the process reached a conclusion and it is negative.

What is happening here is a test where objectives were either not well set, or relied on questionable numbers. The result is ambiguous, with the test plan apparently either not existing or not setting up a success/failure criteria to take the current results into a predetermined logic.

The standard procedure is developed to preclude exactly the kind of speculative interpretation that is going on right now. It is recognized that in many situations, humans are likely to want to interpret ambiguous results in ways that is most beneficial to them. It is therefore considered to be good scientific (and engineering) practice to agree to the rules prior to the game.

To those who will object that the above procedure is "not flexible", the answer is to keep the test part separate from the "interpretive" part. Declare test a failure and hold a post-test review to recognize what lessons have been learned to use in future work. Again, test failure is not a bad thing, not a personal thing, just the way reality worked out this time - you have gathered data and the answer was negative.

They should publish their test plan, so we can see exactly what their success/failure criteria was prior to the start of the test.

Thanks, you're doing a much better job than me of explaining the deficiencies of the current test setup. Like you said, nothing personal, but based on the test design, the results tell you certain things, and are unclear on other things.

My question is before the test, its usefulness was questioned, but I decided to keep an open mind, to wait and see what kind of results they can find, and what useful information you can get from interpreting the results. Granted the results are not all in, but preliminarily it does look to me there are serious deficiencies which, given the risks of doing the test, make the whole exercise still very questionable. Or even more questionable as my own understanding improves....

I think they did

>8000 success
<6000 failure

Between the two: many possible explanations.

Maybe they will be able to determine which one(s) by seismic or other means.

Reality didn't appear to allow a test where success or failure were the only possible outcomes.

Reality didn't appear to allow a test where success or failure were the only possible outcomes.

Indeed. And reality often behaves this way. However, such results may point toward other ways of doing diagnostics that will help pin down the answers.

>8000 success
<6000 failure

Which just goes to show that only programmers live in a digital world.

What is happening here is a test where objectives were either not well set, or relied on questionable numbers. The result is ambiguous, with the test plan apparently either not existing or not setting up a success/failure criteria to take the current results into a predetermined logic.

I think Dr. Chu goes by the book as you describe and on that basis stopped the test. BP was not looking for test results, they want to demonstrate that they were able to shut the well in. They have an objective, or multiple objectives, that are served by shutting the well in. They weigh those objectives against the risk as they perceive it, and for management that balance says go for it. (But they said go for it displacing the riser, too.)

Chu is doing a different balancing. He goes by the book and won't change from the RW plan as final objective, and measures all risk against how it impacts that plan. If risk is increased for that plan, what is the benefit for the paln, anything? If none, or if not enough of one, then don't take the risk. Stick with the plan. BP's objectives apparently do not merit taking the risk for Chu, or the other technical people including BP's it appears.

Will be interesting to see how far Chu bends or how much more data he requires to be satisified with those numbers and allow the well to stay shut in.

But he compromised by lowering the risk of shutting in the well by building in stop points and leaving final outcome subject to his safety analysis not BP's goal oriented analysis. He's trying to find room for BP's objectives in the equation.

As far as the pressure benchmark, BP is going to be highly motivated to declare it is good enough as is. Chu is going to need more time to feel comfortable with that number is my guess.

Syncro, it won't be legal by MMS regulations to just leave the BOP's on top and call it good. There are a number of procedures they are obligated to follow now to call this thing shut in. The RW's will continue and the original RW plan will be followed. They now have additional "triggers" to activate during he relief well process, which is likely a good thing. If the RW starts to kick, they might open all the valves they now have shut to relieve pressure for instance. They have very expensive computers and software, they've been modeling this for awhile now, I'm sure they've got some pretty good ideas, but they can't predict the future any more than the weatherman can, just give probabilities.

WR, i was just commenting on what might be guiding the decision making process on whether to keep the well shut it or whether to re-open and collect to surface. Chu is evaluating it one way, BP another. That's why the decision making process does not seem to make sense from a testing analysis perspective. We have ended up with a compromise result. Of interest to me is whether Chu bends sufficiently to allow the well to stay shut it per BP's desire.

I did not mean to suggest that chu would give up the RW route, only whether he would cave and allow the well to remain sealed until the RW makes intersection since doing so does not really advance the RW goal, but put's it at somewhat increased risk in Chu's analysis.

I did an edit to my earlier post that ended up mid-paragraph rather than at the end, so lots of room to confuse.

Dimitry, you make great points, in a lab or manufacturing setting. Unfortunately as any geologist can tell you, the underground world is NEVER what you think, NEVER homogeneous and NEVER even close to a perfect environment. Therefore Rockman and others weren't joking when they said a geologist (or petroleum engineer) NEVER says 100%, in fact they might only say 50-50. It is always a bit of a coin flip, and the unknowns always outnumber the knowns. Furthermore this wasn't a static environment, but highly fluid and politically and economically charged. This isn't like the test plan for the Dreamliner airplane, but more like Apollo 13 in the middle of an emergency.

from the NY Times article

The BP engineer said that many technicians at the company believed that the pressure test now under way was too risky — a view Dr. Chu shared for some time. BP executives, however, wanted to proceed, the engineer said, in part to learn more about the condition of the well bore, and in part because they were eager to demonstrate that they could actually stop the flow of oil.

“It’s not necessary,” the technician said. “It’s not justified."

I have yet to see a credible line of reasoning to suggest this guy is wrong. I also find it significant that on this well integrity test, the technicians were against it, while the executives were gung ho. Seems to me the BP management culture leading up to the blowout is very much alive.

Notice also that for the first time Technician is further IDed as an "engineer." Maybe we should pause to wave to NYT?

Well spotted, lotus! They definitely deserve a wave!!

Hiver, the next time you're in the hospital for a procedure, I am certain you'd rather the TECHNICIAN running the equipment decides how to proceed, rather than the DOCTOR in the operating room.

Technician, Blood pressure is dropping, let's disconnect everything

Doctor, No, I think we should save Hiver's life instead

Technician, Ok, but it's all on you Doc.

Doctor, Yes it is.

Don't understand what your point is. Not getting a sense that it's important either....

My point is that technicians aren't engineers. The fact that technicians are willing/happy to talk to the press and tell them anything they want and act above themselves says a lot about them. If they were QUALIFIED to be engineers, they WOULD be engineers, but perhaps were lacking something, say math skills or logical reasoning or discipline? Therefore, when I hear that a technician says something, I take it with a grain of salt. If it isn't pertinent to their area of expertise, I may discount it entirely. Technicians don't see the whole picture.

Management at BP are engineers or scientists, Tony himself has a Phd in geology or geophysics as I recall. They are also exposed to substantially more information than the "technicians" are. They also have the discipline NOT to talk to boneheads in the press, like the NYT, motto: "All the news that's fit to fabricate".

Red, you are using the word "technicians" in the way that those of us who have worked in scientific or technical firms do.

But I have, all too often, seen news organizations use "technician" to mean "someone who does technical work." So that would include engineers too.

So I haven't concluded anything from the NYT description of their informant.

Cheryl, Yes I was looking at it that way exactly, because I've worked with engineers, scientists and technicians for most of my professional life. My (admittedly rough) delineation is as follows:
A scientist knows WHY something works, an engineer knows HOW something works and a technician knows THAT something works.

The part of the quote that got me Lotus, was the first sentence:

The BP engineer said that many technicians at the company believed that the pressure test now under way was too risky

So who are we listening to here? An ENGINEER who is QUOTING technicians? A reporter who is so ignorant he/she is using the terms interchangeably? I prefer to get my science from scientists, my engineering from engineers and my routine work competently performed by competent technicians. When the technician starts delving into the how's and the why's of things, I'm going to be naturally suspicious. I am ALWAYS suspicious of the NYT.

red, I see you're determined that your reading of the word is the only correct one, so that's fine. That it'll go on biting you is no concern of mine.

My point is that technicians aren't engineers.

As Lotus just pointed out, the NYTimes has identified the person they've been talking to, whom they've been calling a technician, as an engineer.

If they were QUALIFIED to be engineers, they WOULD be engineers, but perhaps were lacking something, say math skills or logical reasoning or discipline? Therefore, when I hear that a technician says something, I take it with a grain of salt.

Isn't that attitude of "I out-rank you" what got BP into this mess to begin with?

Management at BP are engineers or scientists, Tony himself has a Phd in geology

Coffee spit on that one. Priceless.

We have all seen how the advanced degrees of BP management have run this show.

A better analogy would have had the hospital administrator deciding how to proceed instead of the surgeon. From my experience, when dealing with high profile events, this is often the trouble. Managers who have been behind desks too long come in and push aside the people who solve these problems every day.

I have yet to see a credible line of reasoning to suggest this guy is wrong.

Other than Thad Allen saying after thorough review that ALL, yes ALL, yes that's ALL the experts involved agreed it was the correct way to go forward?

That is not a line of reasoning. That is their conclusion, which may well be based on sound reasoning. I just haven't been able to discern what they are. Not saying the sound reasoning doesn't exist, but just saying there's a difference between laying out the logic and making an assertion based on authority, eg Allen's. Right now, I'll take the authority only if it's backed by sound reasoning openly explained to the public. That's just my personal preference, your mileage may differ.


I wasn't in favor of the shut in and test. It didn't make sense and seemed to risky considering the RW was so close. I think outside the box and like to think I take the logical approach. I have come to accept through experience that it's really OK to say; I don't know. I'm not sure if you are there yet but I can tell you accepting **I don't know** relieves anxiety and opens the door to logical processes while you become more educated.

Imagine the process in accomplishing a task while the world looks over your shoulder. Then you must (or you are expected to) explain every step to someone with no experience or education along with the probability that much of the explanation will not be comprehended or retained.

Not necessary as part of the effort to permanently close the well, perhaps a month or a month and a half from now. Is the risk worth taking in order to cut short the stream of pollution a month early? Tony Hayward isn't the only one who wants this problem to go away so he can get his life back. Millions of Americans feel the same way.

Is the risk worth taking in order to cut short the stream of pollution a month early?

That's only assuming they do not collect all the oil from the cap, which they now have the ability to do. Supposedly. Or at least that's what BP has promised. Can they deliver on that promise? It still remains to be seen.

In any case, the choice is NOT between the 'stream of pollution' and shutting down the well. The choice is between capturing the oil and shutting down the well. The capturing option has many downsides for BP, including finally confirming how big the leak is, and also pushing their capacity to process the oil/gas to the limit.

They can only capture all the oil as long as the weather is favorable.

Although BP and Adm Allen have both spoken about the potential to reach a capacity of 80,000 bbls/day, any of the scenarios to return to containment as described by Allen include a period of time during which some oil&gas would be flowing into the sea.

Q4000 and Helix Producer would take time to ramp back up, Discoverer Explorer would either be collecting through a yet one more leaking cap or would have to wait for a connection to the 3-stack ram choke or kill line to be set up, Toisa Pisces can't be hooked up until the 2nd floating riser is complete, current estimated date 7/24, etc so a decision to end the test inevitably means more oil & gas - and dispersants - in the water.

We're now about 4 hrs beyond the end of the 48 hr test period. I find it interesting that there will be no afternoon updates this weekend. It seems as if a decision has been made to continue testing for the moment, baring any unforeseen occurrence.

eta.. hadn't seen the official announcement
As we continue to see success in the temporary halt of oil from the leak, the US government and BP have agreed to allow the well integrity test to continue another 24 hours.
well integrity test

My test of a methane leak is are the ships still on location. If not, there's a leak. Captains are not going to risk their licenses.

For those interested in the issue of dispersant use, there's a good interview in the 7/10/10 issue of New Scientist with oceanographer Sylvia Earle. She sounds really pissed, and calls the use of dispersants at the well head "shockingly irresponsible." I'm inclined to agree. Disperse in haste, repent at leisure.

When considering apocalyptic scenarios related to the GOM be very aware that apocalyptic thinking governs societies with the turn of a millenium. Since 2000 we have had Y2K, smallpox, bird flu, swine flu, asteroids, global economic collapse, global warming, increased volcanism, anthrax, and now the great methane bubble and release. All were stated to hasten the end of mankind or at the least civilization as we know it.
The reality exists somewhere between denial and the extreme.

All were stated to hasten the end of mankind or at the least civilization as we know it.

Don't forget 2012 (end of the Mayan calendar)!

Swifty --to heck with the Mayans. Let’s not forget about the ancient prediction of the mystic Kubla Tex who foretold the destruction of the Blue Bell monastery in 2014. That’s why I’ve always planned to save the last bullet for myself,

Don't forget PO.

Next time call Roto-Rooter? Anonymous "Mystery Plumber" (AOL Surge Desk) getting some ink as the possible solver of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

"The idea was using the top flange on the blowout preventer as an attachment point and then employing an internal seal against that flange surface," Bea told the Monitor. "You can kind of see how a plumber thinks this way. That's how they have to plumb homes for sewage."

When BP successfully applied a new cap to the well this week, Bea, who is helping compile a progress report for the Deepwater Horizon Study Group, said he recognized striking similarities between the concept of the so-called Top Hat 10 and the anonymous plumber's drawing, the Monitor said."

Hope BP put some extra caulking around that flange. Otherwise, toilet flapper liable to blow out again. Funny but not so funny because the pipe could still rupture before the relief wells arrive.

Speaking of plumbers, maybe it's time for BP to call in these guys, demonstrating their leak-stopping skills in this two-part video. Imagine what they could do with an ROV!


In particular, note how Curly's valiant efforts with the shower leak display a remarkable parallel to the capping stack activity. Is it any wonder that Kent Wells chose the same haircut?

With a special appearance by Tony Hayward, as the butler.

To quote Moe: "Turn if off! Plug it up!"

I'm no plumber either, but I am part of a team that deals with refinery leaks way more often than anyone wants to admit. This post leads right into the first of two 2 questions I'd like to ask.

But first, please accept my apologies if these questions have already been asked and answered. I must admit that I went for a couple of weeks without following this thread. I'm afraid I tend to zone out when reading fantasy about 6 million pound concrete blocks, aircraft carriers with corkscrews, 5-mile long reservoir tipped condoms, thermo-nuclear repairs, and, worst of all, ethical politicians and CEO's. However, the main reason was that, as a life-long resident of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, I grew despondent over this disaster. So, if I'm asking redundant questions, please forgive me.

1) Instead of using what is essentially (or perhaps, is really) just a modified Plidco compression fitting on the riser pipe, why didn't they just connect to the flange a few inches below their current connection? Months ago I read on this site that the ROV's might not be able to apply the torque required to unbolt the flange, but didn't they torque up the flange to begin with? Alternatively, a hydraulic nut-buster would certainly have done the trick.

This second question is the reason I initially began reading TOD:

2) Are the intervention wells equipped with BOP's that can actually cut through the drill pipe being used? If the claim is that they can, is this claim based upon testing of at least a same-model BOP or is the claim based on calculations (as it was with the infamous BOP we've been watching so closely for the last 3 months).

Again, I apologize if these questions have already been asked but, at least I'm not here suggesting we re-orient the Hubble to direct solar beams onto the site to melt the sea bed into a huge glass plug!

NOAA apparently hasn't tasked any research vessels to check for widespread subsurface oil since May. According to the website (http://www.noaa.gov/sciencemissions/bpoilspill.html) the Pelican returned to port May 24 and no new missions have been scheduled or reported. Weatherbird II returned to port May 28 and no new missions have been scheduled or reported.

The TJ is looking but only at the coast and around the wellhead.

Is anybody aware of any other subsurface oil research that's been done later than that or is in progress?

We have ALL KINDS of subsurface monitoring going on down here. Which is why I am concerned. The double red flags are still flying.

Right, coastal monitoring is happening but not by NOAA. I was wondering about deepwater missions.

TFHG, did you see the sample stats via the link right below this subthread?

I think NOAA's Lubchenco shut them down after she lost control of managing the information on plumes (nice to see there's no politics at work here)

NOAA Asks for Time Out on Oil Plume Research Cruises
by Erik Stokstad on June 4, 2010 6:30 PM

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), yesterday repeated her plea for researchers to be cautious in collecting and interpreting evidence of underwater plumes of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well. Citing unusable data from some expeditions, she proposed a workshop to coordinate sampling methods before more cruises depart. http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/06/noaa-asks-for-time-out...

NOAA confirms oil floating beneath Gulf's surface
June 8 (McClatchy)
Joye was one of the first scientists to discover submerged layers of oil, reports of which Lubchenco attacked in mid May as "misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate."

On Tuesday, however, that dispute appeared to have been forgotten.

"We have always known that there is oil under the surface," Lubchenco said. "The questions that NOAA and many of its academic partners are pursuing are, where is that oil, in what concentrations and what impact is this having on the ecosystems."

How the Oil Plume Changed One Scientist's Life
by Erik Stokstad on July 2

Joye and others were puzzled by the reaction to the Pelican findings. "A lot of academicians were surprised by NOAA's behavior," says Ernst Peebles of the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, who has also identified plumes in the gulf. Ian MacDonald of Florida State University, Tallahassee, felt that NOAA was "basically challenging Samantha's interpretation of this data." NOAA says it wanted to correct misleading news stories and put out accurate information.

Yup, she is straight out of the politicized-science playbook I thought was supposed to be put to rest with the new admin.

She dithered for weeks before even sending boats out to do analysis, and then very oddly attacked the findings of Joye before being forced to backtrack.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Lubchenco

On July 8, 2010, the Associated Press reported that U.S. Reps. Barney Frank and John Tierney stated publicly that Dr. Lubchenco should resign, and Frank said he intends to bring his request to the White House. Frank and Tierney represent New Bedford and Gloucester, Massachusetts respectively, New England’s biggest fishing ports. The two Democrats took the unusual step of calling for a senior appointee of a President of their own party to resign, saying she’s failed their region’s struggling fishermen.

I don't want to get into Obama-bashing here, but WTF?

He appears to bow to the financial industry. Geitner, etc. Perhaps he also bows to the oil industry. They are both among the most powerful lobbies/controllers of govt. no matter who is in the WH (except FDR of course).

High hopes die hard. If Elizabeth Warren is ditched, i think the matter will be settled beyond any dispute, so we shall soon find out.

High hopes die hard.

And inch by inch, no, syncro? Very confounding fellow, our Barack. He does obviously play the long game, but I declare, from his FISA vote on, I've been constantly conflicted over what he's up to.

Sadly, I'm no longer conflicted. I doubt very much that we'll see a Warren appointment ... Geitner will most likely win that one, which will mean yet one more loss for the US.

I was wrong. Warren is not really a proper guage. Under SOP as revealed so far, she would get ditched. obama got the consumer agency, he will give something to the other side to keep them happy by picking someone acceptable to them to run it, and to be as inclusive as he can be in the change hs is making. That is how he does things. I think he sees it as necessary for achieving the larger goals. That's the best i can do in discerning a pattern in what he is doing that upsets people.

But with Warren, the symbolism is too much. He can't strike her down without a lot of collateral cost. He may pick her yet. He needs to throw a bone once and awhile. It's been awhile.

The jury is still out for me in terms of whether there really is a higher mission that justifies what are otherwise indefensible moves and decisions. Like Lotus says, the foundation for that painfully slips away inch by inch.

Water samples.

Water "sample exploded" when chemist tested for oil; "Most likely" methane or Corexit http://bit.ly/aTo3d6

Kids playin' in >200ppm oil sand/water.

mtm, I followed your link on through to the teevy station, but when I got there, the story was only the kids-in-the-nasty-surf -- no trace of exploding lab-samples. I can't trust a blog that provides no link for such a claim but tries to pawn it off on a source that doesn't mention same.

The exploding lab sample was at the end of the news video. What organic solvent would be used to separate emulsified oil from water in a flask and how could it possibly explode? The chemist or lab technician showed a flask with a 2-3" hole in the side.

Don't know, but what was used in the ME-163, hydrazine hydrate? That and water was a very bad combo according to my history knowledge. Weird how my history can makeup for some of the chemistry I forgot. I know sodium metal and water is a nasty mix too.

Ah, I didn't watch it. Thanks, Gobbet.

The exploding lab sample came at the end of the linked video... at least for me. Well, there was no video of an explosion - just the resulting damaged container.

mtm, I followed your link on through to the teevy station, but when I got there, the story was only the kids-in-the-nasty-surf -- no trace of exploding lab-samples.

lotus, the first link in mtm's "Shock" story takes you to the same story at WKRG Channel 5, complete with video:


The video is at the top right, not underneath the text; maybe that was confusing. At any rate, in the video the guy who did the testing displays a beaker with a big hole in it, which he says is a result of the test sample exploding.

Thanks, SL. I went back and watched it.

From what little I've seen of the blog, there's lots there I wouldn't believe, but this one seemed interesting.

It is articles like that along with the methane undersea volcano explosion folks, which are actually doing damage to the very real issue of deepwater dissolved methane and oil concentrations and the impact of those on the ecosystem i.e. anoxia and hypoxia. To my post above on the politics of the so called plumes, one almost wonders if those conspiracy theories are put out there intentionally to distract from the potential environmental disaster taking place below the surface (but then that statement in itself sounds conspiratorial:)

Guest -- your message reminded of something a geologist turned semi-spook told me many years ago about counter-intelligence. We were actually discussing reserve estimates in foreign countries. His point was that while the old saying was true: You can’t unring a bell once it has been rung. But if you ring 100 other bells who will notice that one critical bell.

And no...I didn't apply for the CIA job he was telling me about. Not that it didn't sound interesting ay first. This guy was high up in the organization and I eventually figured out he couldn't find oil in his driveway if his life depended upon it. Just didn't seem like a place where I would get any practical experience. Given the numbers we've seen come out of our govt over the years I think I made the right choice. LOL

Lotta times, I actually think we might be safer without a CIA. Their record during my lifetime (the publicly-known part, at least) has been bloody awful.

The overall health of the Gulf is indeed an important subject, but I don't see how knowing just how nasty the effects are at the interface where I find myself is "actually doing damage".

To me, 200ppm in the water I plan on immersing myself in right after dinner seems to be a very real, immediate concern.

I'd definitely like to know more about the methods the chemist used, (I was shocked that the entire sample was used in his testing, for one thing).

It does seem that they are trying mightily to clear hydrates or whatever blocking the bubbling pipe at the wellhead, the rate seems to have increased after removing some of it.

Produce the damn well to the surface vessels till the RW is ready to start killing it. That will not cause pollution, or more risk. Shut it in if a hurricane is coming. BP does not want the flow rate known.

How was that 9000-8000 psi arrived at?

wt = (11,900-8,500) divide by (.052X13000) = 5.0 lbs/gal

Would someone please explain this?

I’m a psychotherapist, but, since there is some controversy over which part of that professional identity is predominant, I’m not sure how useful my input will be, nevertheless, having been warned, you may decide for yourself.

I want to speak out to some of the skeptics and/or conspirasists out there, especially “fishkill” who has confidence in his “gut.”

I would agree that “the gut never lies,” but qualify that by reminding you that it is always operating on the basis of information it “believes” it has, which may, and, given the limitations of the human senses and information processing capabilities, perhaps must, differ from the reality that might be more objectively identified (if there were a way to do that).

One of the complexities of the human condition is that we are always filtering information we receive today through the lens of information that we believe we have acquired during our experiences prior to today, and the conclusions we have drawn from that previous information.

Broadly speaking we can refer to the general conclusions, which we have drawn from those previous experiences about the nature of the world, as our “world view,” and that “world view” differs from person to person because of our different experiences.

Thus people who have had a predominant experience of multiple negative experiences or, alternatively, a few very traumatic experiences, are likely to view the world as a dangerous place, and perhaps perceive positive experiences as exceptions, even transitory exceptions, or possibly, miracles, while those whose predominant experience has been positive may view the world as full of opportunities, and view negative experiences as only obstacles to be overcome, or setbacks that require extra effort to overcome.

One of the most important lessons I hope that my clients will draw from my work with them is an ability to challenge their own perceptions, not in a manner which will paralyze them, but in a manner which slows their decision process down (except in extreme emergencies) so that they can gather further information, adjust for likely distortions, based upon their (hopefully) increased understanding of the etiology and consequences of their previous experiences, and then make sounder, but still timely, decisions about how to respond to what they believe they know.

If we are looking for certainty, we are doomed to disappointment, thus when we try to prove negatives, such as “there is no conspiracy” we are setting ourselves on a quixotic path to frustration and/or paralysis. The best that we can ever do is gather as much information as is reasonably possible, draw the most rational conclusions we can draw, based upon the preponderance of that information, and then act in as timely a fashion as possible.

That’s why it improves the odds of success in situations such as this to gather the best expertise and information possible, squeeze out (if possible) those with agendas to distort or inhibit progress toward the immediate goal, then apply informed oversight and transparency to the process.

The bottom line is – trust your gut as an indication that you need more information, but don’t be controlled by it.

What a useful explanation, David -- thank you. Believe it or not, law-trained people have a shorter way of expressing most of that: "Standpoint is everything" [and the broader the better].

As any of my clients will tell you, I've never been known for brevity.

Nor are most lawyers.

(high-fives David)

Brevity is not always good. Especially when explaining something like the nuances of psychotherapy theory or approach. It's great to have all of the different perspectives we have here, that's for sure. As this collective mind strives to make timely and sound judgments, it struggles with all of the internal conflcit and needs all the help it can get!

Yes, let's hear it for (a) our TOD hive-mind and (b) every word of David's disquisition -- HUZZAH!

I would suggest, also, that people stop watching Fox News (and Dylan Ratigan's show on MSNBC when Matt Simmons is a guest.)

After being fed so much misinformation from these sources over a prolonged period of time, it is difficult to simply trust "the gut."

I may have missed it, but has there been a discussion about what it would take to connect the well to the pipeline network?

I assume it's just too late to start such an action now, I'm just wondering if it might be possible to plan and prepare for it in case of another spill.

It has been stated that there is a piping process in the works but the possibility of this happening or being needed has been reduced by the ability to shut in the well. With the well shut in they have the ability to evacuate due to weather without dumping oil into the GoM.

After the current test is completed they will resume processing to the ships topside and resume RW work.

Just a quick thanks the contributors of this forum. I've been following for a few weeks and have learned a lot on a wide range of topics. I also want to ask those of you who seem to have a sense that BP is harboring deep secrets and engaging in conspiracies to consider this. BP, and I'm guessing other oil companies, took shortcuts. I'm sure as a result of this blow-out procedures will be improved, caution will be enhanced, and rules tightened. I'm sure BP is doing what they can to limit their liabilities. But I don't understand the tendency to think that corporations are somehow evil. These large corporations are for the most part filled with ordinary people trying to do their best. Rethink your conspiracy theories. Personally I believe most of the people are BP are actually trying to do the best they can. Why wouldn't they really? Each person wants to succeed, just like any of us. Anyway, thanks for the great, informative site.

"Why wouldn't they really?"

Because since historical records exists, there are plenty of documented cases of power abuse and misbehaviour operated by corporations, just to get more profit. That's what it is all about. Not all of them, but those in a dominant position in their own markets have historically shown all kinds of irresponsible conduct, and have often ended in court. Just to achieve more profit for their investors. It's a matter of expenses / return ratio.

I'm not saying that corporations are evil, and I don't believe in most of the conspiracy theories. But IMHO the more power and money an entity or group has, the more it's operations should be watched closely. It's not about being paranoid, it's about being cautionary.

And that is EXACTLY what BP is trying to prevent here: transparency. That's what concerns me most.

But I don't understand the tendency to think that corporations are somehow evil. These large corporations are for the most part filled with ordinary people trying to do their best.

Agreed. But I don't think the complaint is about the employees of BP at all: I think the complaint is about the management, esp. in the executive ranks.

It's not that corporations are evil per se, it's that unrestrained corporate conduct is an evil because of the disasterous results it can produce.

The corp. has to obey imperatives (make money, maximize profit, minimize expenses) that often conflict with the public interest and that can cause great harm if not "restrained."

Like consider dumping raw sewage and chemicals into rivers. It might make perfect sense from the considerations that the corp. must use to make the judgment, but it makes no sense from the perspective of the public interest. Regulations and laws are needed to change that equation and make it so the corp. takes the public interest into consideration, too. Without that restrain, you can get horrendous outcomes where hazardous activities are involved, like Bopal, Chernobyl, TMI, coal mine disasters, financial collapse, etc.

Update: And another behavior that is problematic is corps. trying to influence govt. and legislation so that it favors their interests, which is fine and good, but unfortunately that often means at the expense of the public's interests, which is not good. Our public officials are supposed to look out for the public interest. But that purpose gets "corrupted" through all of the influence peddling and money changing hands, and we end up with financial collapses and huge preventable oil spills instead. This is an over-simplified sketch, of course.

I am shocked by the naiveté of the poster that assumes BP means well, because corporations "are filled with good people trying to do their best". In our society, there is the legal fiction that a corporation is an individual. Well ... if that is so, then what is the personality of that individual? A psychologist would have no difficulty in answering this. The personality is that of a psychopath (Antisocial Personality Disorder). By its very nature, every (large) corporation is manipulative, deceptive and predatory. It totally lacks a conscience, and is totally lacking in empathy or any genuine human emotion. These attributes define a psychopath. The "good" individuals that run a corporation have to check their own consciences at the door, as a matter of fiduciary obligation, a legal requirement of being an agent, i.e., executive of a corporation.

I am so sorry you got laid off.

BP is estimating ultimate pressure will be around 6,800 psi. While this is not as high as originally expected, there are several reasonable explanations for this lower pressure reading, including the possibility that the well is now somewhat depleted, and therefore has lower pressure.

Well duuuuhhhh.
Ya think?????

BP conspiracies : Hanlon's Razor at work ?

I presume that when they go ahead with the relief intervention well, and inject the "bottom kill" that they will have to bleed out the oil presently in the bore hole.

Dumb question: Since the flow is presently stopped, and the pressure is lower than it was ... would a Top Kill work now?

(ps : New on this forum engine -- I hope this went into the right place -- node/6740 .... )

"We are encouraged that we have integrity..."
"We find no evidence of lack of integrity..."

- Kent Wells @ 7:30am briefing 7/17/10

I find this conclusion by Kent Wells bizarre. Logic seems to be stood on it's head here. Are we being spun a flimsy certainty on well integrity?

Rewind back to the Top Kill attempt now shrouded in the mists of memory. Am I correct in saying that the Top Kill was abandoned precisely because the top well pressure was found to be in between 6,000 to 7,000psi? And this development was a sufficiently worrying indication of the likelihood of a down hole breach to cause the abandonment of Top Kill.

Fast forward a couple of months to the last few days. Now with a sealed cap in place the pressure is again found to be in the same range of 6,000 to 7,000psi.

But this time the finding is readily and conveniently dismissed on the basis of well depletion (perhaps due to compartmentalization). Obviously the earlier low pressure could not be dismissed by well depletion.

There seems to be a viable alternative explanation.

There is a breach down hole which is either a crossflow leak or a leak into formation. That leak was there at Top Kill and caused the low pressure reading. That leak still is there and confirms the earlier Top Kill pressure reading. There is a 75 million bbl reservoir with no compartmentalization and there is no significant well depletion.

Instead we have a down hole breach which is in stable equilibrium and feeding steadily (not explosively) into formation. (It could even in theory be feeding natural seepage lines all this time, with the sea floor exit of this seepage many miles away.)

I am reassured by seismic scans (as is BP) that this possible leak is not in the upper reaches of the bore. But there is NO evidence of compartmentalization or well depletion. There is instead an assumption that this depletion explains the low pressure.

Kent Wells is formally correct. There is no evidence of lost well integrity. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And there is a viable alternative explanation of the low pressure which is consistent with our earlier Top Kill pressure reading.

Can you help show the error in my logic? Thanks.

It seems it was Chu who ordered Top Kill to be abandoned.... just as he ordered a 24 hour double-check before the pressure-testing.

Just maybe if he had not intervened, the Top Kill might have worked... although I know that there are many here who are not so sure. But the whole process was never actually completed. [Do I understand that right?]

What's also interesting is who is making which major decisions (or who's over-ruling who) - and why...


I never had a response about it, but I have been wondering about the status (pressure, production rate etc) of the Rigel NG field that also sits in MC252, but at the 16,200 foot level.

From earlier reading on here, it is apparent that they started running into mud loss issues below 11,000 feet or so in the initial drilling operation.

Eh, what do I know. It must be a profoundly stupid question.

Even if you're correct about a leak, I don't see that it makes any difference. At this moment, they can only do two things:

A) Leave the well closed.

B) Open the well and collect the oil.

Either way, the oil downhole will continue to leak. It might leak a bit less with the BOP open, but not significantly so.

The final solution, as always, is to kill the WW with the relief well.

Until the kill happens, I'd leave the well shut in with ROVs monitoring it closely and Helix Producer et al on standby to resume collecting oil if need be.


It makes this difference though. We may have 3,000psi worth of flow missing, perhaps for the last three months. If that is escaping into sea floor seepage, then we have continuing flow into the Gulf. Flow for which BP is avoiding responsibility.

So it's all over bar the shouting.

I find the internal imaging of the well fascinating.
(Internal imaging appears on the Q4000 ROVs from time to time)

Wonder how many feet into 13000 ft they are able to view?
Wonder if one of the images is a composite?

Anyone care to comment?

Possible reason for extending the test ...

Pressure leak at wellhead base valves ... not sure what else to call the several valves with short stubs sticking out at the well casing where it comes out of the seafloor.

Watched ROV 1 BSkandi 'cleaning'out one if these stubs from which was issuing an intermitent stream of bubbles at;


It looks like ROV 1 is running around picking up more tools and is heading back under the BOP to proceed with that work... here's a grab of the bubbles ... barely seen as a couple of bubble streaks at 11 o'clock

And a second image of the base of the wellhead where th ROV was trying to stuff an fitting onto the end of the stub.

Wells commented on the bubbles during his morning tech briefing.

The ROVs that we have standing near the well head, if you watch it carefully you'll see we've got some bubbles coming from a valve that's on the 36 inch casing.

This is quite normal. The 36 inch casing is kind of the first piece of pipe we put in. It's almost sort of think about it as construction more than the well head. It's the first piece that we (inaudible) landed about 500 feet down into the mud.

It's what we start to build our well head and casing on and it's quite common. But in this – and there is actually eight of – I can't remember if it's six or eight of these valves around this piece of pipe. This is quite common. We see this on a number of wells.

But with an overabundance of caution we're going to go down and take a sample and make sure that that's not any gas from deeper down in the (horizon). It's more likely nitrogen or it could be biodegradable methane or something like that. But just in the overabundance of caution we want to go down there and get a sample of it. And when – as I talked about as the well is cooling down – as the well is cooling down that's probably what caused those bubbles there.

7/17 am Wells briefing (pdf)

Thanks rainyday - I missed the briefing... they seem to be trying to divert, slow or collect a sample with a drum lid now rather than in inverted bucket or something that might hold more..!??! curiouser and curiouser...

When I heard Wells say that, I wondered just how does one collect bubbles and get them to the surface...

and do you try to persuade them to remain as bubbles on the way up?

(perhaps dolphins would offer some assistance at higher depths
http://wimp.com/dolphinbubbles/ )

The past months on TOD sure have gotten me asking questions I never would have come up with before.

Indeed! Some amazing new challenges... Here's another one that these bubbles got me thinking about.

They've stopped the flow of oil/gas. So what happens to the mix of oil and gas in the well bore? What's to stop methane from collecting at the top? ...and thus be the possible source of the bubbles.

Don't anybody miss the video of porpoises making and playing with bubble-rings--unbelievably cool. Thanks so much for the link.

Statement by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen On Well Integrity Test

WASHINGTON - The federal science team has been closely overseeing BP's well integrity test with the goal of first doing no harm to the well. Based on the data and pressure readings compiled to date, the test has provided us with valuable information which will inform the procedure to kill the well and a better understanding of options for temporary shut in during a hurricane.

As we continue to see success in the temporary halt of oil from the leak, the US government and BP have agreed to allow the well integrity test to continue another 24 hours.

The government has ordered additional monitoring of the area while the test continues which includes doubling the seismic mapping runs over the well site. A NOAA sonar ship has also been brought to the site to assist in monitoring the entire sea floor area around the well. The ship will make regular passes around the well looking for any hydrocarbon release subsea, and both acoustic and visual monitoring of the area with ROV's will continue. The pressure in the capping stack continues to increase very slowly and we want to continue to monitor this progress.

When this test is eventually stopped, we will immediately return to containment, using the new, tighter sealing cap with both the Helix Producer and the Q4000. Additional collection capacity of up to 80,000 barrels per day is also being added in the coming days.

Progress also continues on the two relief wells the federal government has required BP to drill. The relief well remains the ultimate step in stopping the BP oil leak for good.

My questions:

1. Is the 6800 psi in terms of psia or psig? (If psig, then the absolute pressure on the cap is about 9000 psiA?)

2. Are the following numbers that I have seen posted elsewhere in the correct ballpark, at least in the view of non-conspiracy folks? Original bottom hole pressure - 11900 psiA, oil gravity = 38 degrees API, GOR 2300 SCF/STB, bottom hole temperature - 240F

Many thanks to all the contributors to TOD. I've spent many hours following the comments here and am infinitely wiser for having done so. As this phase of the disaster comes to a conclusion I'd like to ask the contributors who they think are the unsung heroes of this incident. Having spent some time in the Prudhoe Bay field I have the utmost respect for oilfield workers and the many companies that support the industry. I may be one of the few people who still have some admiration for the oil companies themselves. Anyway, for keeping his composure and providing engineering details I nominate Kent Wells as one. Another has to be John Wright at Coots and Boots.....can you imagine doing what he is doing with all those academics looking over his shoulder? I'm surprised they're all still alive. I'm sure there are more heroes and look forward to their getting some well earned credit.

I'm posting just to ask if it's possible the shale is absorbing pressure increase - from calculations it seems much more compressible than sandstone (unless my math is way off). Of course, this is if it isn't corssflow (between two sandstone stratas seperated by the shale).