BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Taking it Day by Day - and Open Thread

This thread is closed. Please comment at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6746.

Doug Suttles was the BP representative on this morning's (Sunday morning) technical update. Mr. Suttles said that pressure is now at 6,778 psi, and continues to build at one to two psi per hour, and this is encouraging. BP still does not see any problems.

BP now thinks that there is a possibility that the test can continue from now until the well is killed by the relief well, probably in August. But this is not a decision that can be made all at once. Instead, careful monitoring will be continued, and a decision made on a day by day basis. Admiral Allen and government representatives will no doubt be involved in decision making as well.

Mr. Suttles said that when the cap is left on, this is really continued testing, rather than shutting the well in.

BP is using a number of types of tests to make sure that no hydrocarbons are escaping from the well bore. The types of tests being used include

  • Seismic
  • Sonar
  • Monitoring by NOAA Pisces
  • ROV's looking for visual and sonar evidence
  • Monitoring temperature at the BOP

Regarding monitoring temperature at the blowout preventer (BOP), they would expect to see the temperature to rise, if any hydrocarbons were escaping. The temperature is at a steady 40 degrees, so this is not showing evidence of any escape.

Yesterday, Kent Wells mentioned that some bubbles had been seen. BP has not yet been able to gather samples of these bubbles, but is working on this effort. If these bubbles were methane, they would expect to see methane hydrates forming, but none have been seen so far. So this would seem to be evidence that the bubbles that have been seen are something else.

Mr. Suttles indicated that really would like to keep the cap on if conditions permit. If it is necessary to take the cap off, oil can be expected to flow into the gulf for up to three days.

Relief Well 1 is now at 17,864 feet. The next step is casing the well, and that will take about a week. After that, they can start drilling--very slowly--the remaining distance. The well intercept is expected to take place about the end of July, but the kill procedure will take until perhaps mid-August.

Prof. Goose's Comment:

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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Is someone watching the Olympus ROV1? It has been looking at the seabed for some time and it seems to be quite clear that there is clouds of black stuff coming from the seabed. And before anyone says it's stilt from the thrusters, it seems not to be. The ROV seems to be steady and looking down to seafloor and clouds of black stuff are slowly emerging from the ground. I made some screen grabs also just in case. Not sure if they prove anything, but still, if need be I can post them.

Please post your screenshots. Thanks.

That's the silt being stirred up by Cooper Anderson's Russian Submarine.

You tell 'em, fd!!!!!!!!

it is called silt

Post the correct name first.

I have been calling attention for a couple of days that at least five TOD contributors have seen gas and or oil (not silt nor anything blowed by the ROV)erupting from the sea bed for some time before the view is suddenly changed or blanked. As it has been said before, not only by me, I (WE) KNOW WHAT I (WE) SAW.

Official: Seep found near BP's blown out oil well


As it has been said before, not only by me, I (WE) KNOW WHAT I (WE) SAW.


Reminds me of the 2DP vs figure-of-8 story. To what extent should we believe our senses as opposed to expert opinion? I posted some thoughts downthread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6745#comment-680524

BP's Doug Suttles - not Shuttles.

The NOAA ship is the PISCES - its traffic pattern is interesting:

here is a clean view of Pisces pattern, notwithstanding comments about problems with deployment vis a vis frequency inteference it has been doing patterns like this since Allen said it was being brought in.


this is another interesting site to track the NOAA vessels


Pises is sonar equipped. That track looks like an ongoing sonar survey.

@MoonofA - Bernhard, is that you? or (gasp) Billmon?!

Bernhard yes, Billmon no

Maybe it has been asked already, then apologizes. Can someone explain me the following video.
Is the oil coming from the sea floor or is it just a bad angle of the camera and the oil is coming from beneath? The footage is from the 16th of July

That's silt being stirred off the bottom by Anderson Cooper's Russian submarine.

I'm a child amid titans but doesn't silt drift away from rotary blades. This "silt" appears to rise toward the camera, which is where I assume the blades are. It doesn't look like oil but at whatever the pressure is at these depths, it seems like a lot of silt moving from/away from the motor blades.I guess the guys who rub the cameras on these machines would know.

It's very fine silt. Anderson Cooper's submarine uses very powerful propellers.

Over many weeks I've looked at a number of such similar videos. Invariably you get 2 opinions, one that says this is evidence of oil/gas/whatever escaping from the seafloor, another says this is silt kicked up by the ROVs. While I have no expertise and am still unable to make up my mind which version is more plausible, I have learned over time that despite the huge amount of excellent information on TOD, there are times when one can easily be led astray by authoritative-sounding voices.

The one distinct memory I have is on the issue of whether there were 2 drill pipes in the cut riser. At the time there were vigorous reassurances by those with expertise that said this was one single pipe that had somehow been cut in such a way as to produce a 'figure of 8' pattern to resemble 2 pipes. I was (almost) taken in for a while, but of course since then it's been confirmed that there were in fact 2 segments of DP in the riser when it was cut (one of which subsequently fell out).

So, now I read cautiously, and try to evaluate the evidence, and not just follow the assertions of those who should know. So on the subject of what the videos are showing, I'm still sitting on the fence and awaiting more definitive evidence one way or the other. Just my $0.02, FWIW.

Besides, oceanjoe, water is much denser (about 1,000 times denser) than air, so disturbances like backwash from a prop break into turbulent eddies in all directions within less distance than in air. It all gets back to that old equation, "force = mass x acceleration". Since water is so much denser than air, the same amout of force doesn't accelerate water as much as it would accelerate air.

More physics than you wanted, I bet! : )

No, I like physics. I surf Hatteras when it's huge and glassy and practical physics means a lot, especially when compared with theoretical physics..and while I don't share fdeloza's political and cultural opinions, in some matters he seems like he knows what he's talking about...except I guess if it was important enough to know, someone would set the sub on the bottom, turn off the props, film the silt either dissipating with the relaxed current or continuing it's rise from the sea bed.
Maybe it's a non-issue, like the back up on the blow out preventer...and while I am on the subject, does anyone know how many companies operate like BP without a back up on their blow out preventer.

Leaking Oil Well Lacked Safeguard Device
Wall Street journal

U.S. regulators don't mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn't have one.


The remote-control device is different from a second shear ram. The remote-control device, also known as an acoustic switch, would allow another vessel to send control signals to the BOP without a direct connection. It would not have mattered in this case.

For a discussion of the BOP and shear rams, on this page here:

I'm no expert (although I have stayed at a few Holiday Inns) but it reminds me of the same video feed from BOA 2 that had been "sitting" at the base of the well looking for leaks. Every so often, the ROV would stir up the mud/silt and be swallowed in a cloudy mist. That stuff looks very much like BOA 2's mud/silt "mist".

More on ROVs looking at the seafloor. I find this one interesting. Caveat: can't vouch for the source as this is like a second hand video, so take it FWIW. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WsEdK8aFng&feature=related

Hastily finishing up a seriously off-topic conversation from the previous thread...

Thank goodness you're at odds with them there literary snobs?

Thank goodness I'm entitled to my own opinion. If I were required to adopt theirs, I'd have to slit my throat.

There now. Friends?

Hurt myself laughing. (Full disclosure: I thoroughly enjoyed snorting at the first one, so I owe ya twice.)

I read that exchange this morning but it took me forever to dig this little gem out of the dustbin of my memory:
An English professor wrote the words: "A woman without her man is nothing" on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.

All of the males in the class wrote: "A woman, without her man, is nothing."

Are you ready for this...........?

All the females in the class wrote: "A woman: without her, man is nothing."

Punctuation is powerful.

Have a great day.


What a great anecdote!

On several levels!

What a great anecdote!

And it says as much as the renowned "prose stylist" did in his piece in a tiny fraction of the words, and much more clearly. (If "stylist" is used to describe anybody but those who deal with hair and makeup, it's a red flag. Good writers write their prose, they don't "style" it.)

What cracks me up about the joke is the thought of the women in the class doing a slow burn and all coming up with the same way to put the professor in his place.

Could it be they are both right?

"A woman without; her man is nothing."

Thanks for the great post!
Years ago I was on a web dating site and someone used the title sentence to describe who they were looking for. However, a key word was accidentally replaced with a similar word that completely changed meaning in a very negative way. I tried to politely correct but the response defensively insisted wording was correct.

Hey there, Pecos. I've always loved that one.

(How's your snake harvest coming? Friend of mine near Austin has been nailing copperheads at a great rate. Out your way, maybe it's rattlers?)

It should be:

"A woman without Herman is nothing."


"A woman without Herman is nothing."

Wins the thread.

Hurt myself laughing.

Me too (both times).

No, I get to finish, hopefully. ;^)

Pico's piece may be silly, but what would you expect of a self-conscious exercise in exegesis, an explication of the nuances and intricacies of strange little squiggles and their impacts on meanings? Surely, however, nobody, competent herself in wordcraft, would honestly question Iyer's facility with language, notwithstanding the triviality of his message. Come on, now, Loris, you know he's good at it; he just annoys you.

lotus: Of course, we must all be friends. How lonely would lit geeks and language freaks be if we didn't seize every opportunity for fellowship in this world where the vast majority believes that semantics is only important in source code?

Come on, now, Loris, you know he's good at it; he just annoys you.

You got the last part right.

If he intended it as self-satire, maybe I could give it a pass...

So they figured out spilling oil while producing the well is non sense. Now they need to figure out a way to set an "official rate" without testing the well. I think they convinced the admiral there's no way to know for sure what happened, and the rate and overall spill volume will be a negotiated amount.

Why do they have to spill any oil? Aren't the choke and kill lines to the old BOP still connected, just valved off?

Why can't they just attach to the new choke/kill lines on the new closure device? I though they had valves that were closed?

Sounds like BP doesn't want a real flow test.

moosedog, I answer this question approximately four times a day...

The production equipment at the surface doesn't have an emergency shut down control device at the wellhead, which they can activate if they have a problem topsides. It is standard requirement to have such a device, and it's crazy not to have it. If they were to have a problem, and the system has to shut in, they don't have a fast acting system to close the well, so the pressure would build up on the riser, and the weak point is right at the point where the riser gets to the surface vessel - and this could explode, sending a cloud of oil and gas all over the place. This cloud would likely catch fire, explode, and burn a bunch of people. The alternative is to allow the system below to have a vent, let oil out to the sea, so if the system closes above, the oil can not build pressure - it just goes out in bigger amounts out the vents.

I thought they were not producing during the testing and that one of the benefits stated about the cap was that in the event of a hurricane the production lines and vessels could be unhooked and moved and the cap would remain to stay the flow of oil?

They are not testing. If they were to test, they would have to spill some oil to the ocean. If they disconnect due to a hurricane, they would spill a bit more during the disconnect, and then they would close it - the same condition it's in now. So many of us think it's better to leave it shut in, closed tight, and wait for the relief well to kill it for good.

And some of us think this is a BS pretext that is laughable as a bisis for this decision, at least from a scientific or risk analysis.

When is a test not a test? When they are trying to extend a test to effect a shut-in...

They are testing the possibilities of testing the test.


Oy, you should have posted a spit warning! Now I got coffee all over my keyboard.

They are not testing. If they were to test, they would have to spill some oil to the ocean.

They are not testing how much oil the well can produce. The pretext is that they're testing whether it's safe to leave the well shut in. This lets the government save face, keeps BP on their toes to monitor the well very carefully, and keeps the option open to require that the well be opened again if the observations change.

I understand your explanation of the plumbing, but it did not address moosedog's question.

"If it is necessary to take the cap off, oil can be expected to flow into the gulf for up to three days."


Because two hookups are available to connect the well to collecting vessels, and three vessels would be needed to capture the well's full flow. We're assuming an all-or-nothing opening of the well, to keep the back pressure as low as is consistent with capturing all or almost all of the oil.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but all the responses are about plumbing, and plumbing is not process. The question is - "Why must the oil be released for 3 days" before containment can resume. Is a a hydrate formation issue again? I just wonder why the various taps cannot be connected to the risers before the valves are opened?

And since it was possible to close the valves slowly and individually during the capping step, why must they all be opened before you can start producing to the containment/treatment vessels. All or nothing now, but not then?

At a minimum, Allen has said that some O&G would have to be vented to relieve pressure before they could begin collecting again.

In addition, if they open the top and use the new containment cap attached to Discoverer Explorer we will once more see oil & gas leaking from the bottom of a cap.

I agree fd - it's likely the rate and overall spill volume will be a negotiated amount, for at least two reasons:
- any measurement now - and we are days, if not weeks, away from having the capacity to contain the maximum estimated flow - would just show the flow for those days remaining before the well is finally killed. The flow could have been significantly larger in June than it is in July. We'll never know the true amount that has been spilled.
- both sides will agree to a settlement to avoid a protracted legal battle.

I'm all for leaving the well shut. It seems that the two arguments for reopening it are to reduce the risk of an underground blowout and to learn the flow rate. If Chu can be persuaded that the current monitoring is adequate to give a warning about a potential problem with leaks, that would satisfy me. As for the flow rate, we'll never know what it has been the past three months. I find the argument that by not collecting, BP will potentially avoid paying a larger fine unconvincing, since, as noted above, there in all likelihood be a settlement. Somehow, whatever the size of the fine BP pays, I imagine that other companies have already gotten the message to increase safety awareness. If they haven't, another couple of billion dollars in fines isn't going to change their minds.

In any event, sending more money from a fine into some government bucket will do less for the well-being of the Gulf environment, the health of the creatures that live in it, and the economic well-being of those who live around it than will keeping one more drop of oil and dispersant from entering the water. There have already been anecdotal reports that tourist reservations started picking up as soon as word spread that the well was shut down, albeit temporarily.

In addition, there is inherent risk in collecting the oil and flaring the gas at the surface. A few weeks ago Allen mentioned that there were around 1,500 men in that city of ships and a number of other ships have been added to the area since then. Why risk their lives at this point if we don't have to?

May we never see those shots of oil & gas leaking out into the sea again.

Now they need to figure out a way to set an "official rate"

I am fast coming to the conclusion that the whole issue of determing the flow rate for the purposes of fining BP is becoming an internet mneme all of its own. It is interesting that the whole idea of fining BP under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act was something that was first breeched in the press, not by a government agency. It seems that almost any action by BP is now being viewed as a way of somehow avoiding the truth with respect to the fine.

It is worth pointing out that pursuing such a fine is up to the US government. They have a number of options before them, and some interesting possibilities exist. The Act actually provides two different mechanisms to fine a company. The mechanims are exclusive - they can only use of of them. If the government elects to fine BP using the paragraph 6 mechanism (which limits the total fine to $125,000) they don't fine them with paragraph 7 - which is the open ended, up to $3000 per bbl bit. This means that there is a mechanism by which the government can actually kill the option of the big per bbl fine, if it so wished. The government could OTOH cut a deal where they claim a specific spilled amount and BP agrees no to contest it. That would allow a middle ground.

The actual determination of the fine - if it is done under paragraph 7 is, however, up to the court that hears the case - not the government. Which may mean that the government will be less likely to pursue this option - since it relinquishes control to the court for what is going to be a very sensitive political matter. There is a time when the executive needs to act as the executive. This incident is way past that point.

In the end there is a lot of room for the court to move over the fine anyway.

(E) JURISDICTION.—An action to impose a civil penalty
under this paragraph may be brought in the district court
of the United States for the district in which the defendant
is located, resides, or is doing business, and such court
shall have jurisdiction to assess such penalty.

(8) DETERMINATION OF AMOUNT.—In determining the
amount of a civil penalty under paragraphs (6) and (7), the Ad-
ministrator, Secretary, or the court, as the case may be, shall
consider the seriousness of the violation or violations, the eco-
nomic benefit to the violator, if any, resulting from the viola-
tion, the degree of culpability involved, any other penalty for
the same incident, any history of prior violations, the nature,
extent, and degree of success of any efforts of the violator to
minimize or mitigate the effects of the discharge, the economic
impact of the penalty on the violator, and any other matters
as justice may require.

I would also remind everybody that the fine does not cover any civil penalty a court would grant for damages done to each person. This is going to be the largest cost.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that the whole issue of determing the flow rate for the purposes of fining BP is becoming an internet mneme all of its own.

Probably because that is the coinclusion you want to come to.

“Thad Allen wants to do containment because they want to find out what the real flow rate was,” Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Petroleum Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston, said in an interview yesterday. “Unless they do something like that, they’ll almost never be able to prove what the true flow rate was.”


Allowing oil to flow from the well will make the final kill procedure easier and safer, as it will lower the pressure in the reservoir and make any potential hidden leaks less risky, Van Nieuwenhuise said.

“They’re moving in a very careful and deliberate direction,” he said.

Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Petroleum Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston, carries more weight than random speculation about internet memes.

And people here who (like Rockman and Fd) have actually WORKED with / around blow-outs and other well situations carry one hell of a lot more weight that a Geoscience Professor. Geoscience in NOT Petroleum Engineering which itself covers a big area. There are a lot of different Engineering problems at work here plus several politico/economic issues. I've seen a LOT of academic experts posting perspectives that have been dead wrong. I'll stick with the guys who have had thier a**es on the line. Practical lessons learned the hard way are often the ones that stick around and get used again and again.

Could we have an article on biochar please? There was a recent conference at Iowa State IIRC with lots of technical stuff about the reactions, one talk (pdf of the slides available) contrasting IIRC char at 500oC (oils plus gummed-up charcoal) vs. 700oC (mostly syngas plus pretty pure activated charcoal). I'd like to discuss the feasibility of using lots of little syngas powered biochar reactors capturing and burying half of the carbon captured by our great suburbian lawns and shade trees, and syngas powered harvesters which capture half of the carbon in crop residues, burying it in-situ where it will adsorb the phosphorus which otherwise ends up dissolved in the ocean.

Thanks. Sorry to be off-topic on this thread. Happy to see the hole plugged, if only temporarily so far. ("Daddy, have you plugged the hole yet?").

So what happened to Allen's statement yesterday that the collection will start? Who is in charge? Once again BP says the CG in charge, and then tries immediately contradicts them. Collect the oil. Lets see how much is leaking....is an important part of the assessment of the damage that BP has caused.

Every transition creates additional risks.

I clearly understand why BP doesn't want flow rate determined. But since flow rate cannot be presumed to have been constant, I'm not sure how much good data from a thin cross section of (hopefully) the end of a three month event will actually do anyway.

For me and millions of others, including people who are being directly affected, keeping oil out of GOM waters is the first priority, and whatever's second is lagging well behind.

Snakehead, BP wants the flow rate determined. What they dread is a high flow rate. But the current system doesn't allow them to test the rate, and as you say, even if they do test it now, all they would get is a single point. Given enough time, I can put together a very viable argument to show the rate started low, increased over time, then remained steady. Which means the rate will be negotiated.

Exactly. It'll be negotiated.

Letting more petro than necessary into GOM waters is unconscionable. Determining flow at a point in time isn't necessary in my view.

The sloppy logic here is startling coming from some of the people advancing this rationalization.

It likely won't be negotiated. And even if it is, this move allows BP to negotiate for 35k, which is likely what it will end up. In other words, the ambiguity is worth billions to BP, whether in negotiations or otherwise.

Be honest, you want it kept closed because it feels good, not for any sound scientific reason. Ifn fact, you're willing to overlook science and logic to get that good feeling!

I want it kept closed, if possible, because:
- adding more oil PLUS dispersants to the Gulf hardly seems in the best interest of the Gulf and those who live around it.
- re-opening it would again expose the 1,500 or more folks working at the surface to the risk entailed in flaring gas
- capturing data on the full flow, which wouldn't be possible initially anyway, would only say what the flow is now, not what it has been over the past three months.

(I'm in the "they're going to negotiate a spill amount camp" or they'll be involved in endless litigation.)

The key is the 'if possible' part. Who knows what the risks are of keeping it closed? My understanding (and correct me if I'm incorrect) is that transitioning to collection will create some leaks for only like 3 days. That to me is miniscule compared to the 90 days that it's been spewing.

Granted 3 days less is still less, but ask yourself what is balanced against that? Will the pressures of a shut-in well erode the casings some more, possibly enlarging what might be minor leaks right now, to a point where bottom kill becomes difficult/hazardous/impossible? That's the tradeoff to be considered.

This was discussed many times in the past weeks, but now we seem to have some sort of collective amnesia, where the risk of worsening any leaks suddenly seems acceptable? As far as I can tell, the reasoning behind concerns about pressurizing possibly compromized casing was sound last week, was sound before the well integrity test, and should remain sound today.

Who knows what the risks are of keeping it closed?

My guess is that that is the main question the BP and gov't scientific teams are weighing. Indications seem to be leaning in the direction of no current leak (all the careful "no negative results" comments), but what is the risk of possibly creating a future leak?

As for the amount that might be vented if they return to collection mode - if they re-open the top of the stack and collect via top hat#7 connected to Discoverer Explorer some o&g would continue to spill out underneath the cap - although supposedly less than with the earlier cap.

I haven't seen any discussion of what would be the effect of releasing some pressure by collecting less than the full flow via the choke and kill lines. Capacity for full collection won't be reached until later this month at the earliest and it is not clear how moving vessels back closer to the well would impact the seismic and sonar surveys they might want to continue doing if less than the full flow was being sent to the surface.

some o&g would continue to spill out underneath the cap - although supposedly less than with the earlier cap.

Rainyday could you clarify for me why this is the case? It has been mentioned several times that they will soon have the capability to receive up to 80k bbl/d. Why then is there any reason to vent some of the oil to the sea?


the key word is soon. That capability is not in place yet (see my comment at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6745#comment-680570) so they might use the top-hat up to Discoverer Explorer along with Q4000 and Helix Producer for a few weeks. The top-hat by design is not a tight seal to ensure that seawater doesn't intrude and trigger hydrate formation, so a certain amount of spillage from that would be inevitable.

There would be a certain amount of venting during preparations no matter what is hooked up -Suttles said today that could last for as long as three days.
But the, we could end up with, if we have to re-initiate containment activities it would require flow into the Gulf of Mexico for up to three days, potentially up to three days.

But the, we could end up with, if we have to re-initiate containment activities it would require flow into the Gulf of Mexico for up to three days, potentially up to three days.

1. Why so long?

2. When John Wright an' them start mud injection, the stack will need to be open to let the hydrocarbons flow into the water instead of through the choke and kill lines, yes? Why, and could it mean another three days' spillage?

1. I haven't seen any explanation of why three days. Allen said that they would have to open the cap up (via the kill or choke line I assume) to relieve pressure before they began re-attaching vessels, but I wouldn't think that it should take three days to do that. I can understand that it takes time to ramp production back up on the various ships, but that doesn't seem to be what they are talking about.

2. It does sound like there will be spillage during the relief well operation. May it just be a matter of days, not the weeks they keep on saying some relief wells have required.

"(I'm in the "they're going to negotiate a spill amount camp" or they'll be involved in endless litigation.)"

I understand. It sounds reasonable. But the truth is, that is just a rationalization. It's not a reason. It's is a rationalization offered to support a desired result.

And the rationalization is completely unfounded and uninformed.

If the govt. does not have a sound enough basis for its flow calculations, there will be NO fine at all if they have to meet "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. If BP can discredit the govt. expert or methodology, there could be be NO fine at all. At best, because it is all based on estimates, this path leaves sufficient ambiguity that is likely worth hundreds of millions or billions to BP.

Actual flow collection blows that whole line of defense out of the water.

I will pass on judging whether it is good or bad to keep it shut in, but the reasons being offered in favor of it are little more than rationalizations. Non sequiturs to be more accurate.

Call it a rationalization if you will, but I guess I just don't find the whole issue of potential fines as compelling as the health of the Gulf, those who live in it and around it, and those who are currently working on the many vessels on the surface above the wellhead. No amount of money is worth any more risk to them than necessary.

If the well is to be reopened, it should only be if it is determined to be less risky than keeping it shut, not because somebody somewhere is worried about the strength of a future court case.

“Thad Allen wants to do containment because they want to find out what the real flow rate was,” Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Petroleum Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston, said in an interview yesterday. “Unless they do something like that, they’ll almost never be able to prove what the true flow rate was.”


Allowing oil to flow from the well will make the final kill procedure easier and safer, as it will lower the pressure in the reservoir and make any potential hidden leaks less risky, Van Nieuwenhuise said.

And there is no need to let the oil just gush freely into the water. That argument is a red herring. They will be able to capture nearly all of it if not all of it. They should be able to capture all of it.

And there is no need to let the oil just gush freely into the water. That argument is a red herring. They will be able to capture nearly all of it if not all of it. They should be able to capture all of it

Yes. Red herrings seem to be in season right about now, out in force all over this thread.

They should be able to capture all of it.

Eventually it seems, but not initially according to statements from Wells and Allen. The floating riser that the Toisa Riser is to connect to has fallen a week behind schedule due to the movement of vessels to allow for sonar and seismic scans, and the drill pipes that will allow the Discoverer Explorer and, eventually, Clear Leader, to collect from the 3-stack mini-bop kill and choke lines aren't ready.

In the meantime, it is not clear Q4000 and Helix Producer would have the capacity to deal with the full flow. In any event, they would all still have to be disconnected during a storm, resulting in more spillage when they were re-connected, even if they could re-close the cap for the duration.

(I guess you missed my comments elsewhere about the spillage from top-hat#7 if they choose to go that route.)

I've been waiting for a lawyer to weigh in on this. It seems to me that a court or a jury would give far more weight to a measurement than the results of a calculation they can't understand, no matter how much the guy who calculated it assures them that he's nailed it.

OK one will.

My personal feeling is that once that well is shut in I don't want them opening it again for any reason because they might not get it stopped again. So most jurors will be susceptible to any reasonable argument for not starting the well flowing again.

But from a purely legal standpoint, evidence today of what well flow was two weeks ago or two and a half months ago may not be very accurate either. It would be subject to serious expert attack. As posters have pointed out the pressure of the reservoir may have changed significantly over time.

You are going to have a battle of experts. Some are going to say the number is X and others are going to say the number is Y. And the jury (who will be totally incapable of judging experts as they always are) will have to make the decision of which expert number to believe. And the jury may well believe the expert who is the best looking or hottest or most suave and not the expert who is most likely to be right.

The rules of evidence allow all kinds of attacks on experts (such as ad hominem attacks) which science abhors.

So I would much rather have the well stopped and not opened again because I know what kind of evidence there will be either way.

"So I would much rather have the well stopped and not opened again because I know what kind of evidence there will be either way."

But those are not the facts, here, Dave.

The issue is an estimate based on an estimate vs. an estimate based on actual measuring. One is inherently more reliable than the other, and thus better and more persuasive evidence than the other.

Sure, you can drown out any evidence by referring to the battle of the experts and throwing your hands in the air that the jury will be all idiots anyway. But in that case, the assumption is that the entire process is so arbitrary that even rock solid evidence means nothing. I don't go that far as cyncial as I am. Do you?

Having been there many times, I am that cynical, unfortunately.

Recent case in point. Judge allowed the defense to put on a telemarketer to tell the jury he used to telemarket for my expert doctor. Telemarketer admitted he did not telemarket my client. Judge still allowed the testimony and the jury poured me out though there was no expert evidence to oppose my doctor's. The appellate court called the telemarketer's testimony harmless error.

This crap happens all the time.

In the scientific world you would be absolutely correct, but judges and juries are clueless about the scientific method. Ad hominem attacks on experts run rampant and they are of course allowed under the rules of evidence as attacking credibility.

So yes, I am very cynical. And the higher the stakes, the more cynical I get. I just heard that BP was buying up all the best experts on the gulf coast for their legal defense. Giving these experts huge retainers so that they can not be called upon to testify against BP. I don't know what percentage signed on, but I am sure many did.

I think a much better and effective way of punishing BP than the fines if BP refuses to consent to a reasonable leak amount is for the government to withhold offshore lease rights. This is the government. They can find ways to punish BP where other entities can't.

I just heard that BP was buying up all the best experts on the gulf coast for their legal defense. Giving these experts huge retainers so that they can not be called upon to testify against BP.

I came across them too (will post if I can find the link). I was disturbed both by the news but even more by the fact that I was less disturbed than I ought to be. If that makes any sense.

Yes, Hiver, I saw a story where they tried to buy off an entire university science dept. They had forms for them to sign limiting what research they could do, what they could say, etc.

BP is a liability-avoiding-machine right now, locking up experts, shutting up witnesses, shopping for judges, blocking flow-rate calculation. The opportunity for savings in the billions is there if they can push everything their way. Of course they are going to do that, and do it well with the resources they have.

If they will go to that length to buy off the experts,
what will they do to buy off the actual flow rate
that the experts base their opinions on in the spill law case?

How about, Figure out a way to get the govt. to never take actual flow measurements? It isn't even all that dasterdly. Any rational actor would do that if the opportunity "presents" itself and its legal.

The strategy is obvious and rational. Limit the experts. Limit the data.

Buying off experts and out-manuvering the prosecution so it spoils its own evidence are not crimes.

Isn't that just an old recirculating story linked to BP's funding of research?

Release date: 24 May 2010
BP today announced a commitment of up to $500 million to an open research program studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and its associated response, on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico.
BP already has ongoing marine research programs in the Gulf of Mexico. Building on these, BP will appoint an independent advisory panel to construct the long term research program.

I certainly see your point, Dave. But I am not so sure a jury will decide the penalty. They may just decide the flow rate, if that.

More importantly for me, it looks like BP pulled a fast one over the last week. And they put everyone else at risk to do it. And it looks like they are going to get away with it, too. They shouldn't. It undermines my confidence in the process and makes me as cynical as you are!

Edit: That's my hunch, anyway. Just to be clear.

Maybe it may be an non-scientific judgement - but common sense to me is:

"If it isn't leaking - don't touch it!"

It's common sense to you only because your common sense is not taking into account the relevant factors that bear on risk. If it did, you would come to the contrary conclusion IMO.

Worst case, politically:

The administration orders the well opened to get a measurement- over BP's objection.

Hurricane comes, shut down attempted

This time it blows

Relief wells fail.

Months more spilling all blamed on the administration.

Alternative worst case:

Allen says "keep it closed"

The casing fails somewhere high enough up that oil&gas surface in multiple, uncontainable locations.

Relief wells fail.

Oil spills until reservoir depletion.

Glad I'm not part of the decision making process on this one, but it sure would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the conference rooms used by BP's and the gov't's scientific teams, even if I would only understand a small portion of what they were talking about. Even more interesting to be in the room where they meet together. At least they're not short on data to evaluate.

I thought that the tone of the briefing was less deferential towards .gov than previous discussions. He repeated during the briefing (the obvious) "nobody wants to see more oil go into the Gulf" as if to say if we open it back up in the absence of evidence of problems it's not BP's doing. I thought he quite adeptly put Allen into a corner on this one.


I checked my e-mail for Admiral Allen's latest statement, from about two hours ago. Sounds like he doens't want to go quite as far was what BP is saying.

Per my conversation with BP Executive Bob Dudley as recently as 11 a.m. EST today, nothing has changed about the joint agreement announced yesterday between BP and the US government. The ongoing well integrity test will continue until 4 p.m. EST today, with the potential for additional extensions in 24-hour increments. As a condition of the extension, the US government has required significant new monitoring and periodic evaluation and approval by our science team.

Work must continue to better understand the lower than expected pressure readings. This work centers on two plausible scenarios, depletion of oil from the reservoir and potential leakage caused by damage to the well bore or casing.

While we are pleased that no oil is currently being released into the Gulf of Mexico and want to take all appropriate action to keep it that way, it is important that all decisions are driven by the science. Ultimately, we must insure no irreversible damage is done which could cause uncontrolled leakage from numerous points on the sea floor.

Rearguard action by the admiral the well will stay shut in.

CNN led it's 400pm est news hour that had Allen's statement, sans the very last sentence.

Cue Twilight Zone theme.

Methinks the fight is red-hot...

So what happened to Allen's statement yesterday that the collection will start? Who is in charge? Once again BP says the CG in charge, and then tries immediately contradicts them. Collect the oil. Lets see how much is leaking....is an important part of the assessment of the damage that BP has caused.

Jesus andy, we already explained a gazillion times, if you open up the well, it can't be done without spilling oil to the environment. And the rate measurement now doesn't tell you anything if some of the oil is spilling anyway.

Pressure was expected to be 9,000 and the test came up far short, and now we have gone dropped to 6,800 as a barometer of "good" news. Where did that come from.

Rapid depletion due to reservoir compartmentalisation.

Have you considered there may have been a gas cap that burned up Deepwater Horizon, and that the water drive oil leg is now less compressible shut-in? Personally, I don't think turbidites are compartmentalized as a rule, and the well was almost certainly drilled at the crest of the structure.

It depends on which turbidite-dominated facies we're talking about. If the rocks in question are from the inner part of a subsea fan the sands are the fillings of channels, encased in lots of silt and mud. If they're from the outer part of a subsea fan the sands are more extensive flat sheets of rock.

Some English-language abstracts (the classic work is in Italian or is not available on line):

Ricci-Lucchi, 1975
Mutti, 1977
Normark, 1978

This is pretty much unique to and characteristic of the Gulf shelf break, a collapse structure after rapid deposition. Thank you, however, for citing literature.

Folks seem to believe that there's a "fudge factor" that's being used to deceive and there's collusion on a grand scale for a multitude of nefarious purposes, or that conditions are dynamic and that must be taken into account when making decisions.

If you're in the first camp, it's a long way to the second.

or maybe folks are just confused by Allen's statment on July 13

And as we said before while maybe counterintuitive to some, in this exercise, high pressure is good. We have a considerable amount of pressure down on the reservoir forcing the hydrocarbons up to the well bore. We are looking for somewhere between 8 and 9,000 PSI inside the capping stack, which would indicate to us that the hydrocarbons are being forced up and the well bore is being able to withstand that pressure. And that is good news.


No doubt that that's a contributor to confusion. But there is definitely a propensity on the part of some people to seize one statement and make a break for the goal line. Others try to place it in context. Fog of war.

I agree that stuff can be taken out of context and those with an agenda will run with it, but the context of the above is straightforward, Allen even comments on the reservoir. Then of course there are others who can't reconcile what someone has said with their own agenda and will discount it or dismiss it all together. As you say the fog of war.

What we're seeing is the need to make a decision when there are significant risks and costs on both sides and complete information about the risks will never be available. It's messy. The need to reassure the public makes the message messy, too.

Jesus fd, can't someone disagree with your opinion? Just cos you've 'explained' it, doesn't make it the right decision. And who crowned you the ultimate authority anyhow?

Andy, good questions. I don't know the answer, but I support continuing asking them till BP and/or the government comes out with clear answers.

...till BP and/or the government comes out with clear answers.

By "clear answers" you mean devoid of technical or scientific terminology and concepts and so drastically simplified and dumbed down that they are virtually unrecognizable as logical and accurate data and therefor useless. However, they would fit your preconceived notions of the "truth".

Hope not.

No, clear answers mean clear answers that answer the questions posted by Andy (and others), logical and accurate data included. I've never found those to be an impediment to understanding. And I don't appreciate the public being patronized by such thinking...

fd is a retired "El Grande Jeffe".
Please cut his wife some slack.

So what happened to Allen's statement yesterday that the collection will start? Who is in charge? Once again BP says the CG in charge, and then tries immediately contradicts them. Collect the oil

Instead of getting all hype, may be everyone should just read Suttles conference call transcript this morning.


basically he float the idea of keeping the well shut until the relieved well is done and keep using "we" to describe the work group and decision making process. He is using the word intentionally to muddle up the decision making process. But everything else he said is what Adm Allen said in term of how decision would be made etc.. The only difference is that he is pulling for the decision to shut the well and use the "no one want oil in the gulf" arguement given that he has the microphone. But at the end of the day, if Adm Allen and his government team decide that we need to produce the well, they will write BP a letter and BP will have to do it because of the law governing the crisis reponse. BP has every incentive to try to shut the well in (less oil spill with less fine, less damage to the environment hence less clean up cost and damage claim). And I won't blame Suttle for trying. Ultimately it is up to the government scientific team to weight the risk/reward. I am sure they don't want to have more oil leak to the gulf if nothing else for the environment as well.. But they will be the one burden with weighting the benefit against the potential problem of subsea blowout.. There was never once in the briefing that Suttle come out and said that "BP make the decision" or "BP will ignore the command from unified command". It is the reporters that took the bait and spin the story BP wanted..

q7, for you and others new to this site you will see at the top left of your Oil Drum screen the word search and a place to type in your search term. I typed in biochar and got more than 10 pages of results from previous Oil Drum articles and discussions


There is an option for advanced search as well
For help, read Google's basic and advanced instructions.
You can also obtain filterable and sortable results using our advanced search engine based on Apache Solr.

The Oil Drum has been around for some years and I doubt that there is a single energy topic that has not been touched on in passing or in detail. The Deepwater Horizon accident has been front and center of late, but The Oil Drum has been dealing with all aspects of energy for quite some time.

OCTS said, based on an ABCnews report of May 14:

So BP originally said it was 1,000 then they went with the Coast Guard / NOAA estimate that upped it to 5,000. I'd say they knew it was much higher from the start when they had the audacity to call it 1,000. That's just a bit bigger lie than agreeing with the 5,000


In their earlier press release of May 4th BP say:

Accurate estimation of the rate of flow is difficult, but current estimates by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest some 5,000 barrels (210,000 US gallons) of oil per day are escaping from the well.

In a 22 April press release, BP said:

As of Saturday, April 24, the oil spill response team had recovered more than 1,000 barrels of an oil-water mix of which the vast majority is water. The material has been collected by skimming vessels and vessels towing containment boom.

I can't find where BP said the rate of flow was 1000 bbl/day.

I think it was Rear Adm Mary that made that statement


BPie is stealing my OysterMen. Where can I get a check for over-priced Apalachicolas? Ima being oppressed by the giant lake of oilz.

Also: It's quiet. Things look sweet from here. White sand, cheeeep Shrimp. Life goes on.

Except for the Oyster shortage.

And the job losses, economic ramifications and personal and social upheavals that can't be measured.

How about in the internal BP confidential memo from April 27, 2010?


Or is it only real if you see it on the TV?

How about in the internal BP confidential memo from April 27, 2010?

Which says the oil flow is between 1063 to 14266 bbl/day with a "best guess" figure of 5758.

More to the point, no one can rationally accuse BP of deceiving the public if the source is info that BP didn't put before said public.

What I'm looking for is where BP told the public that the flow rate was 1,000 bbl/day.

I'm now pretty certain that 1,000 bbl/day figure came only from Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry on 25 April.

Or is it only real if you see it on the TV?

I expect any deliberate attempt to deceive the public would ultimately involve feeding false info to TV reports. So yes, kinda.

Right at the beginning:

BP Oil Spill Day 25: How Much Is Really Leaking?

May 14, 2010

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

More importantly -- re: the 5,000 BPD -- There's a quote from BP's Suttles later in that article.

BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles, pushed back against that claim on "GMA" today, saying it is "almost impossible to get a precise number."

"Ourselves and people from NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) and others believe that something around 5,000 [barrels]…is the best estimate."

Now, I don't much care who made the estimate. BP is clearly endorsing it. When someone else makes a more reasonable estimate, they discredit it by talking about how hard it is to get precise. Well, it sure is, but who was concerned about "precise" at that point? We'd have settled for a range that was in the ballpark.

It might be safer to call them disingenuous. I'll still say they were practicing the art of deception.

Following the rig explosion on April 20 BP said about 1,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking

Actually (one more time!) it was the Coast Guard who came up with 1,000 bpd, on April 24.

It might be safer to call them disingenuous. I'll still say they were practicing the art of deception.

If BP knew or strongly suspected the actual flow was higher, yes, disingenuous would be an appropriate term.

But it's a lot harder to build a case for not being able to trust anything BP says, and use it to bolster conspiracy theories, when all BP was doing was going along with something others--official entities, no less--were saying.

It may seem like too fine a point to bother with, but it really does make a difference in folks' perspectives and their willingness to entertain nutty scare stories such as those Matt Simmons is promoting.

Actually (one more time!) it was the Coast Guard who came up with 1,000 bpd, on April 24.

No need to repeat yourself. I know you believe it was the CG who made the estimate. I was responding to GrittyRedBrick who said "I can't find where BP said the rate of flow was 1000 bbl/day" and I was pointing out where the article claimed BP said that. He didn't ask who made the estimate and the article doesn't say that BP made the estimate. It just states that BP said what they believed the rate of flow to be.

I was responding to GrittyRedBrick [sic] who said "I can't find where BP said the rate of flow was 1000 bbl/day"

I still can't, all we have are news reports that seem to be repeating a misattributed statement. If you trace it back, the trail leads to the coast guard and stops there.

The figure is not in any of BP's press releases, it's not in any of Kent Well's briefings (that I've seen or read) and it's not in any report I can find with a named BP spokesperson. I suspect lazy reporters abbreviated "Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry" to "BP".

In one of Wells' briefings, in answer to a question iirc, Wells ventured an opinion that the flow was likely towards the lower end of the 35,000- 60,000 bbl/day task force estimate. I don't remember which briefing it was - I do remember thinking at the time that his comment was the closest I'd heard to an estimate from a BP spokesman, aside from the one given at their congressional testimony.

Except when they don't. I think message discipline was a bit ragged in the early days.

Coast guard and company officials estimate that as much as 1,000 barrels of oil is leaking each day after studying information from remotely operated vehicles and the size of the oil slick surrounding the blast site.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/05/02/www.cbc.ca/m/rich/world/story/2...

or, if you just limit your search to TOD,


I know you believe it was the CG who made the estimate.

It's not what I "believe," it's what's on the record. If your article claims otherwise, it's simply incorrect. It's by no means the only report that has gotten it wrong. Once the mistake is made a couple of times in major media, it gets picked up by others and repeated endlessly because it doesn't occur to anybody to go back and check. The report you quote is dated May 14, almost three weeks after the Coast Guard made its initial estimate. That's what almost everyone else was reporting by that time.

And my links (above) are from articles posted April 24, 2010, the same day the 1000 bbl rate was put forth. And each attributes the leak rate to BP.

There is a wild well release. The volume or rate of the release is unknown, but thought to be significant. The USCG has requested a best guess estimate from the RP (and I would not be surprised if that value is in the 10-20K bbl/day range, the SSC's best guess estimated based only on past experiences).

above quote from 4/21/10 GOVT email leaked at


(the email is at the bottom)

the govt response has always been a mystery to me; they clearly knew they needed a huge response on day one

Have you read THIS thread? In it, HO presents an explanation for the various numbers regarding the flow.

To my knowledge of events from April 20 forward, BP has never officially estimated a flow rate. All rates of flow have come from the government, beginning on April 24. BP may have agreed to a government estimate, but no one from the company has ever said the rate of hydrocarbon flow from Macondo is xxx,xxx bbl/day.

Correct: I've followed BP fairly closely and they will refer to other people's estimates of the flow, but never produce their own. News reports sometimes will attribute an estimate to BP, but they're always estimates from the government. This is a rational thing to do in the circumstance. Just like if you're caught speeding, the police officer will say "do you know how fast you were going?" and you should probably say "no."

I did hear Suttles get frustrated once and say that he does not believe some of the high estimates suggested by outsiders (some people were claiming 100,000 bpd).

Unfortunately, I think there has been a negative consequence to that decision: I think it delayed BP in realizing they need the big containment devices (i.e. the Helix Producer) on site to capture the flow. I think many thousand bpd extra would have been captured if they had moved the Helix Producer (25,000 bpd capacity) on-site sooner instead of using the Q4000 with its evergreen burner (8,000 bpd).

So there's an unfortunate conflict of interest because BP wants to hide the flow rate for liability reasons, but that flow rate is actually important in making some decisions (i.e. which capacity ships to bring).

Thank you Gail.

Could you answer a couple of questions from someone who knows little about this?

You said: "Regarding monitoring temperature at the blowout preventer (BOP), they would expect to see the temperature to rise, if any hydrocarbons were escaping. The temperature is at a steady 40 degrees, so this is not showing evidence of any escape."

Explain this a little further: If hydrocarbons were escaping far below the surface, wouldn't the temperature at the surface still be steady? Is 40 degrees what should be expected?

Also, could you explain what they are looking for with sonar tests?

As always, thanks for the update.

As I understand it, the oil coming out is at about 200 degrees, so if there's any escaping, it would warm things up.

From previous version of this thread, in response to my persistent psia/psig querries:

I must have run hundreds of gauges deep in wells over the years. They generally use quartz transducers and have the very high resolution needed to Pick up very subtle pressure changes that can be diagnostic of reservoir character. Strain gauges are run as backups for coarser pressure measurements (especially in wireline tools) but typically don't have the resolution needed for reservoir engineering purposes.

I'm on vac on iPhone so not easy to post links but google schlumberger or metrol for specs.

When talking reservoir or wellbore pressure I've NEVER seen a gauge pressure referenced to an ambient other than atmospheric. Psig and psia are 1 atm apart. The gauges are not ported to give a zero point at any seafloor reference. This is a slightly unusual situation with a jury rigged sensing kit in the cap, but I'll bet that's still the case.

Exciting time, lots to comment on, but for my money crossflow (ie flow between the units in the reservoir section) is a red herring. A dynamic leak process to shallower horizons might have been possible, but appears to have been made less likely by the character of the pressure build up (though note conventional analysis of the subtle pressure changes in the reservoir will be greatly hindered by the distance between gauge and reservoir). As i noted at the outset i suspect we are seeing real reservoir depletion.==


These sensors appear to be wellbore equipment, to drop deep into the well.

The sensors they are using are the likely the same sensors that BOPs come with. They have several in the original BOP and likely the same in the new capping stack.

What kind are they?

They could be strain gauges (Wheatstone bridge) or crystal gauges (quartz or saphire or micro-saphire)

Dima, if you have a sensor inside the system, it's likely to be a quartz piezoelectric gauge. The gauge is calibrated at the surface, and it sends a signal up a wire to the surface. The signal is just indicating how the quartz is being squeezed, and the software converts that to psi.

There's no wire to the surface. There'll be a transducer on the BOP and then wireless to surface.

Both BOP's (the original and the new 3-ram stack) probably have pressure and temperature sensors connected to data acquisition circuits on the BOP's. They will then have an electrical power and data cable to the surface. Newer models use fiber-optic cables for data transmission to the surface.

a data cable in the presence of a drilling riser and a drilling rig make sense.

This configuration has neither.

If it is a quartz type, it is likely to be a psia sensor.

If they are strain gauge type, they are equally likely to be psia or psig kind.

The amount of confusion over this issue is disturbing.

I hope this doesn't exist in BP's control room.


You're the only one creating confusion ! You are confusing pressure with the gauges that measure pressure with the units that are used to express pressure.

Remember that the difference between the Psia and Psig is irrelevant to this problem. 14 psi is not a critical error.

Above two comments exemplify the disturbing lack of understanding of this simple problem from folks who are apparently oil industry professionals.

the "G" in psig is ANY pressure in the immediate external environment. Topside it is 14.7 psi, but 1 mile down below the water surface "G" is a cool 2250 psi, which makes a HUGE difference in the measurements.

For those who continue to lack understanding of this issue, please educate yourselves. There are several types of pressure gauges. There are absolute gauges, which measure absolute pressure. You can dunk them into a pressurized environment and get a reading. There are relative gauges wich measure gauge pressure, which is referenced EITHER to a known pressure (say a sealed cavity with 1 atm inside), OR, more commonly, to the immediate environment on "the other side" of the measurement pressure. The latter is particularly attractive for measurement relative pressure in pressure vessels (such as a BOP in deep water), where the pressure differential is the stress inducing quanity for the vessel. In addition, for very high pressures, gauge measurements simplify the design of the sensor body, since it doesn't have to function as a high pressure vessel of its own.

It should also be clear by now that the instruments making the measurements being talked about (at the bottom of the hole and inside the cap) are of the absolute type, shouldn't it?

Certainly at the bottom of the hole there is no way to bring any ambient to a relative type gauge. And at the gap a relative type gauge would not be able to tell the difference between flucuations caused by variations in well pressure and waves passing overhead or the tide rising and falling.

With the type of sensor described at the earlier Schlumberger link, there is no need for a high pressure vessel to measure against - you squeeze the rock and it's properties change, which you measure and convert to meaningful units.

It makes no sense for these numbers to be anything other than absolute psi - anything else and you're just carrying around the excess baggage of having to provide the ambient number along with every pressure number you communicate.


Good point, I forgot they don't have a riser hooked up to it.

Quartz pressure transducers are very accurate, 0.01 percent or 1 part in 100,000. At 6700 psi you would be good to .1 psi or so. I suspect you can get more accuracy if you want to pay for it.

This is from one manufacturer that we use.


I am sure they are accurate. The questions is if the data is being interpreted correctly.

Lockheed made a very accurate engine burn prediction for the Mars Surveyor, based on Nasa's orbital data. The problem is Nasa was giving their data in kilometers and Lockheed was working in miles.


It's been commented (by others) several times that psig and psia are the same up to 14 psi, a trivial amount in this context. Is that your current understanding of the difference between the two units?

You also seem to lack understanding that in the deep underwater environment, "gauge" is the immediate pressure environment outside the system under measurement, in this case a BOP.

This value is a cool 2250 psi, which obviously is important.

Do they not teach this anymore in engineering schools?

Three authoratative sounding people so far who lack this simple knowledge.

Do they not teach this anymore in engineering schools?

Of course they do! In all European engineering schools and probably in Russian engineering schools too... but then again I wouldn't really know all that much about pressure gauges and readings and such, I was trained in Italy by Sub Sea Oil as a hyperbaric tech and saturation diver... we only learned Kgf/cm2. Once on a rig our Italian supervisor received a box of pressure gauges in psi, he promptly threw the whole box overboard and placed another order, Those were the good old days!


Quartz pressure transducers are very accurate, 0.01 percent or 1 part in 100,000. At 6700 psi you would be good to .1 psi or so. I suspect you can get more accuracy if you want to pay for it.

This is from one manufacturer that we use.


0.01 percent = 1 part in 10,000, not 100,000.

.01 percent of 6700 = 0.67 psi

But from the above reference,

Typical accuracy of Digiquartz® Instruments is 0.01% of full scale or better.

So if you had an instrument with a range of 10,000 psi, the accuracy would be .01% of 10,000 psi or 1 psi, or if it had a range of 20,000 psi, the accuracy would be 2 psi and so on.

I suppose, however, if you are comparing two readings with the same instrument taken at different times, some of the causes of the inaccuracy would cancel out, provided the conditions were the same (same temperature, same tidal height, etc., etc.)

All it would take to get a 1 psi difference is about a ~2 ft change in sea level due to the tidal swing.

All I am saying is that measurements must be interpreted carefully with an eye toward uncertainty.

Just a couple of comments, and then I will let this go. In my original post, I was incorrect in using the term psig - I should have certainly used psiD as suggested in a previous thread. My previous question/comments should have been posed in the context of whether or not the pressures being reported were differential or absolute pressures.

After combining oil and gas into a single liquid phase using some simple historical fluid property correlations, I calculated an approximate pressure gradient of the static fluid column of .215 psi/ft. If there is no water, or leftover mud, or leftover kill fluid, or whatever in the hole, this gradient should be reasonable for back-of-envelope calculations of pressure versus depth on a static fluid column.

After all of my hand waving, it just strikes me as a REALLY interesting coincidence that the difference in original reservoir pressure and current bottom-hole-pressure=cap pressure+(18360.-5067.)*.215 is close to the pressure at the sea floor. I am willing to buy into any number of explanations - reservoir depletion, insidious in-flow from the reservoir and back-flow to your choice of reentry point somewhere in the well, cluttered well bore, subspace tunneling of energy from the thermosphere to reservoir, whatever - but the closeness of the value makes me want to have SOME assurance that the cap pressures are absolute and not differential pressures.


Psig and psia are 1 atm apart.

Only at sea level.

PSIA - pressure above VACUUM, absolute relative to ZERO

PSIG - pressure relative to AMBIENT - NOT atmospheric!!! In day to day use, eg filling your car tyres ambient is ROUGHLY 14.7 psia but depends on barometer. If you are 5,000 feet under the hogin it is pressure relative to the depth you are at ie your, or rather the gauge's, ambient pressure.

If the pressure of the water at your depth is 2000 psi above that of the surface then a PSIA gauge will read 2014.7 approx while your PSIG gauge will read 0 as its ambient is the same as that which it is measuring.


We can assume a temperature of 20 °C (293.15 K, 68 °F) and an absolute pressure of 101.325 kPa (14.696 psi, 1 atm) at the surface according to naval STP. If the TinFoil gets it, come on people.

Arrroogh right back at you!

You need to read the whole thread (better still don't, it's not that illuminating)

The point is that in my experience in normal industry practice, gauges that read wellbore pressures are always calibrated at surface and NEVER ported to read zero at any other ambient conditions they encounter, so for these gauges psia is ALWAYS 14.7 psi above psig. 

They have probably got a non standard sensing set up on the new stack but I'd expect those gauges to operate on the same principle. 

You need to read the whole thread (better still don't, it's not that illuminating)

Unfortunately I have :(

Sounds like those gauges are PSISG then rather than PSIG or PSIA ;)


Thanks for the article this morning, Gail.

I am not a reservoir engineer, but it looks like from the pressures we know from the initial well, and the pressures we have at the surface today, _combined with_ the slow build in pressure, the reservoir is significantly depleted.

Regarding a submudline leak, one can guess that with the slow build of pressure, you'd have to paint a strange scenario to get a steady but slow rise in pressure and still have a significant casing breach. Without an obvious mudline breach of fluids, it's time to invoke Occam's Razor on this and call it. They have two sparker surveys, obviously not covering 100% of the surrounding area, and they'll run more.

There will still be oil spilled to the Gulf when the kill ops begin, as they'll circulate the oil out for heavy mud, and then close the 3 ram stack again. Looks like 14# mud weight for kill mud should be more than enough here.

Relief Well 1 is now at 17,864 feet. The next step is casing the well,

Do they plan on using a liner or a long string like the WW?

I would use a long liner. But I assume the liners they ran above it are all pretty stout, and they got at least 10,000 psi burst pressure rating all the way up.

I like the idea that you can pressure test both ends of a liner (shoe and backside) where with a long string the anulus is isolated, but then again they are not setting this in the producing zone like during the WW. Also they would be able to pressure test again after drilling out.

I thought having a long string would give them less hole volume to deal with and make any changes in mud weight they might have to do a little easier to do during the kill.

In "yesterday's" thread ROCKMAN opined that the BOP was owned by BP. (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6742#comment-680064)

I was wondering who owned it - and have thought that it was more likely Transocean's equipment.

"owned" in the sense that: "unless Cameron inspected the Chinese modifications and blessed them they would be off the hook: it wasn't a Cameron BOP..it was a BP BOP rebuilt by the Chinese." Transocean may be the owner per se but they complained that BP had not given them the updated design drawings. If that's true Transocean isn't off the hook IMHO: a critical safety device is owned by them and they don' know the design?

Rockman, TO may own the device, but BP is leasing it and excercising total control over it in terms of what modifications they wanted.

Your point is a good one, though. TO is just standing by and letting BP do something they knew was risky and probably illegal. Shouldn't ie bear some of the responsibility?

In one of the letters between BP and TO, you can see how much in denial they were. The talked about who would be responsible if MMS finds out about the mods and demand that it be changed back. They never talk about who is responsible if the unit fails and a catastrophy results.


The talked about who would be responsible if MMS finds out about the mods and demand that it be changed back

That letter says nothing of the sort. It just says that as the BOP must have two functional VBRs that BP will pay any extra costs involved if the reduced redundancy meant the BOP needed to be fixed to ensure the legal redundancy (2 VBRs) more often than would otherwise have been the case if it had 3 VBRs.

After the mods the BOP still met existing MMS specs.

It looks like you are correct in that reading of the text, undertow. My mistake, thank you for cathcing it. However, the point you make underscores that the mods they did in facrt weakened the effectiveness of the BOP. I am not sure how that interplays with the reg. I need to go look at the regs. before I agee that this was a legal modification.

The significant fact here is that BP was willing make the BOP "less safe" to save a few buccks. Just like they chose to rely on a BOP with only one ram shear when most DW rigs by 2004 had two. And it was willing to weakend the effectiveness of that alreay weak BOP with this modification.

And the only consideration that enters their discussions is cost if MMS requires them to correct the obvious weakness the modification entailed. There was no consideration reflected of any concern about the increased risk to the GOM and those who live along it and make their living from it.

only one ram shear when most DW rigs by 2004 had two

Do you have a source for that?

It's been discussed on previous threads, but here's one good source http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/us/21blowout.html

So the original BOP configuration had three variable bore rams. MMS requires two. This allows continued operation with one failed VBR.

BP had one of these VBR's changed to a test ram. TO apparently had enough concern about the reliability of the VBR's that they wanted to be sure BP would pay for downtime to fix it since they would no longer have a spare VBR.

Do other operators desire test rams? Is it a BP policy to have a test ram?
What does a test ram do differently?
Would another VBR have made any difference in this case?
Did changing the VBR to a test ram require BOP control system changes that could have caused a malfunction that would not have been caught during post-modification or periodic function testing?

They made the modification to make it cheaper to do the tests.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, the MC252-B BOP was sold to Transocean by Cameron. Transocean claim that BP ordered them to overhaul the BOP in China, which "is common in the industry".


Good morning all

I have been reading your site for 2-3 weeks and have a question

IF the pressure continues to rise (indicating no leaks), why in the world would they even consider re-opening the well ?

I've always believed that if something is working, leave it alone !

Maybe I'm missing some information, or just plain dumb, but to re-open the well once it is shut off seems riskier than leaving it closed

@gary: in order to begin capture or intersect macondo to kill the pressure needs to be released some. i believe those are the reasons.

Not to mention that a few threads back it was noted that the flex joint connector was only rated to 5,000 psi. I presume each day that it has more than that going against it creates a greater risk it will fail and then the whole second BOP will be toast. Anyone who knows more can correct me, but that is my unprofessional guess.

It has been tested to 7,500 and the fail would be higher still.


They'll probably keep it closed until they're ready for the kill procedure.

At that point, you'll need to replace the oil/gas in the blowout well with heavy kill mud. That means, you flow the well at the top, while pumping the mud down the relief well and up the blowout well. As soon as you release the pressure for the oil to leave, the reservoir will start producing again, diluting your kill mud. You flow it this way until most of the blowout well column is filled with the heavy mud.

You would normally pump mud down the relief well down the relief well drill string AND down the annulus around the relief well drill string. They normally pump mud down the annulus with cement pumps or the like.

However, there's an alternative method to the kill mud procedure, a hybrid if you will, where you have the kill mud ready, one in which you would want to have go from the formation to the surface, and then you have what is called a "pill" or a slug of very heavy mud. If you start out with a slug of very heavy mud, it gives you a head start on any dilution by formation fluids. I would expect something like this, now that everyone seems to know the status of the casing integrity. The volumes and the weights of the kill mud are speculative now, but if you have some sharp pencils, you can make a ballpark guess.

In short, the well should be open again for less than eight hours, and perhaps a third that. Sometime during that time the well will stop flowing oil and will flow mud.

We watched this video at last night's safety meeting. Two teens in Mississippi were 'hanging out' at an abandoned well site. Something ignited vapors in a tank. The resulting explosion killed both of them. This video was made by their friends and families to warn others and hopefully to get these sites cleaned up or secured.

Similar dangers could also exist with current debris removal and storage sites.


The audio of this morning's tech briefing by Doug Suttles is now up at

Could someone please tell me why British Petroleum, BP, or whatever people like to call them did not do the present fix, simply clamp a new pipe on top of the old one, from the start? Were they worried further weakening the well and causing a down hole leak, and if so, in that case, could they not have produced the well full speed to relieve the pressure.

My other comment is, the executives off British Petroleum should be extradited and made to stand trial somewhere in the US, like Massachusetts, where the congressman forced BP to put up the live video feed, or maybe Florida, but definitely not in corrupt oil oligarchies like Louisiana or Texas , where they elected a congressman who apologized to these miscreants. If people do not agitate for justice, they will get jobs as janitors cleaning up the billionaire’s filth, and their ten children they cannot feed will serve as bullet magnets in the fight to steal oil for these people.

Dragonfly, that's an excellent question. My guess is they felt taking the old flange off and putting a new flange on with a set of valves and associated equipment had better be done carefully, and the equipment wasn't on the shelf. I would have moved faster to get it done. I also suggested some crazy ideas in this site which were ignored - they sounded too crazy - such as why not OPEN the BOP valves and let the pipe stuck in there either fly out or drop into the well, and then try to close the BOP's again? There are all sorts of things people proposed, in the end we have the outcome we have.

The executives of British Petroleum can not be extradited for this, the British government would refuse. Also, what are you going to try them for?

@fd: if there is criminal liability they cannot refuse to extradite, imo. to do otherwise would be to jepardize the mic relationship to name just one.

Are you sure? Didn't Utah refuse to extradite for a case involving cyanide poisoning at a metal recovery company? The VP skipped to Utah and skated? I will find the case. I bet the JD's know.

Edit: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-07-01/news/8602160946_1_extradit...

@tinfoil: this case would involve international treatys. and there is a high bar even to reach criminal negligence. will be passed off to mistake/error in the end, imo. everyone will walk with maybe a fine. like goldman sachs.

Yep. Too easy to skate.

We need to tell London to fork them ove, and that failure to comply is a casus belli. The British and the US had better take their countries back from the financial parasites in London and New York. Extradition and trial would be a fair start. Bringing the miscreants to justice would accrue to the benefit of both peoples. No amount of money can repay the act of obsecene violence done to the gulf, all to save pennies. There are a multitude of laws they could be tried under, starting with murder.

Comfy, if you have any pix of E1202672 N10432446 or thereabouts, I'd appreciate confirmation or disproof of seafloor plume updip NW of the well.

This document is an excellent reference for all things related to the DWH. You will find lots of ROV pics & coordinates.


So what about the liability issues surrounding the BOP, which it now appears BP sent to CHINA to be rebuilt in order to save a dime?
Or is the world a now liability-free place for everyone but the small people?
Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/18/deepwater-horizon-blow...

Interesting points from the linked article:

BP ordered the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, whose explosion led to the worst environmental disaster in US history, to overhaul a crucial piece of the rig's safety equipment in China, the Observer has learnt.

BOP Owner: Transocean DWH
BP had it sent to China for "overhaul".

Experts say that the practice of having such engineering work carried out in China, rather than the US, saves money and is common in the industry.


There is no evidence that the significant modifications to the blowout preventer (BOP), which were carried out in China in 2005, caused the equipment to fail. But industry lawyers said BP could be made liable for any mistakes that a Chinese subcontractor made carrying out the work. It would be almost impossible to secure damages in China, where international law is barely recognised.

What were the "significant modifications"? Is this a modification of design or 'overhaul' = disassembly, PM, reassembly (incorrect?) without changin designed fuctionality?

It is understood that lawyers for Cameron International, the manufacturer of the BOP, will argue the device was so significantly modified in China that it no longer resembled the original component, and that Cameron should therefore not be held liable.

Do BOP manufacturers price their overhaul services to encourage owners to send them elsewhere for maintenance, thus absolving them of liability?

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, which bought the BOP from Cameron, has already told congressional hearings into the disaster that the modifications were carried out at BP's request and "under its direction" as the lessee of the rig.

Ho Hum! This wasn't a bad oil spill! The thousands and thousands of barrels of oil that have been incinerated together with thousands and thousands of tons of sargassum on the surface of the Gulf killing millions of larva tuna, etc...well, that's nothing! The ocean is big! It will rebound! Forget about it! Let's do it again soon! How many dead creatures liter the bottom of the ocean because of this "Accident"?

Anyone watching the ROVs? All of a sudden it seems very oily down there?

On Olympic Challenger UHD 30 there seems to be oil coming in from the right and on Olympic Challenger UHD 31 it's a mess.

Yeah, I've been watching. The view from Boa Deep C ROV 1 is pretty dark too but I haven't concluded that it's fresh petro.

The opinion over on IRC from those watching the feeds all the time is that we are seeing very bad compression "noise" on top of a dark murky picture that makes it look like blacker stuff moving round the screen. Looking at it myself I do see a lot of compression artifacts.

Best evidence I have of an oil plume (black billows) is highly artifacted, but in a peculiar way. Not at all random. More importantly, I question why an ROV would be tasked and stationed to monitor nothing of interest? This is a 5-frame loop.

C'mon, man.

While I'm a total newbie on oil topics, I work with all types of compressed streaming video for transmission in IP networks every day and can explain what I think you are seeing.

One has to be very careful interpreting and drawing conclusions from loops like this because of the quantization error in how the original high-quality video was digitized and compressed for transmission to us.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantization_error

This type of video artifact can also happen in DVDs, digital cable and satellite TV. In fact, it occurs in all digital video, even HD-SDI to some degree. As a rule of thumb, the lower the data rate (the higher the compression rate and the lower the dynamic range) the more profound the error.

As an example of this effect, look at the lifeboat scenes after the ship sinks from James Cameron's Titanic movie. The beautiful sweeps of the night sky in these scenes produced a similar error effect even in high-quality high-data-rate video streams of the DVD (cable TV which typically compresses more made it eve worse). Film is an analog media with a high dynamic range and can handle these type of scenes but digital video can't and produces rather profound quantization-error artifacts.

BTW, I have used this clip as a test of new video encoding techniques; kind of a digital video torture test.

The ROV videos are highly-compressed low-data-rate streams with a natural higher quantization error (and lower dynamic range) and can produce some very strange effects when mixed with other video processing artifacts for scenes with subtle changes in the background.

This is particularly true when the silt from the bottom get stirred up, produces just enough "gunk" in the near-bottom water column that then, in turn, gets illuminated in the lights of the ROV to create a very subtle gradation in the background. Just the natural fall-off of the intensity of the illumination over a few feet via the inverse square law is made more pronounced with the quantization error of low-bit-rate video. Then, combined with artifacts that naturally occur from the video compression technique used, you end up with these effects.

The effect you are seeing is actually to be expected and is a totally "natural" process of this type of streaming video even if the video was shot in a clean water tank.

Also, I've seen similar effects produced from many non-underwater flat-near-black grounds when a smoke effect is used in the shot.

I suggest as what you are seeing as a billowing plume are just the effects of (1) the inverse square law from the lights on the ROV illuminating the very-small naturally-occurring particles of stuff in the water; (2) made more pronounced by the resulting quantization-error artifacts; and (3) made to appear "billow" by the compression artifacts.

Sorry, but these type of artifacts have lead a lot of people to see things in the ROV that aren't really there but appear to show up in video due to this class of processing artifacts. All of the video that I've looked at on YouTube posts purporting "oil flows from the bottom" have been examples of quantization error and compression artifacts of stirred-up silt or other general gunk in the water. This is understandable though; interpretation of these low-grade videos is very difficult at best even with experience.

Right. I was elected to SMPTE, back in the day when you had to be nominated, and understand what you said about compression error (blocking). Note that the ROV is stationary, and that the gif loop is 5 screenshots taken at one-minute intervals. Check the color. Check also the size of those color blocks. When I watched the live feed (in 30 fps) it was very clearly billowing oil.

The location is interesting, too. About 800 ft north of the well, which puts it updip stratigraphically high on a salt weld or non-sealing collapse fault maybe.

Maybe is an important caveat. But I had to report what I saw.

avon, did you see this link I posted upthread? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WsEdK8aFng&feature=related

Yes. I wasn't able to form an opinion. Only watched half of it.

Never been around a bad outbreak of Red Tide, have you?

When I entered this business in the 70's, most of the older, experienced engineers had two mantra's:
1) the solution to pollution is dilution and,
2) industry will never be able to survive the costs of compliance with EPA/OSHA regulations.
Anyone who still believes either of those statements is deluding him/herself.

Well the first one still works in Texas, the constant fight between EPA and Texas is that in Texas the emission level is measured per total facility plat including non-process faciltiy land, not the standard for the remainder of the US which is per operating facility area. So while the actual processing plant might cover a one acre area, the facility sits on a 50 acre plot, the other 99 acres are often rented as farm land or cattle grazing. So if you see a plant in the middle or on the edge of an extremely large plat you can guess that is producing some really nasty stuff. So yes in Texas the solution is dilution.

Number 2 lets just say that industry now has a clear picture of what the actual costs are to compare against, given a new reality to the old discussion of "how much will it cost if I don't do this?" $65B will buy me a whopping ass BOP or any other safety device.

Sequence of recent landfill events.
1. Landfill buries oily waste.
2. Connie Baggett from the Mobile Press writes story.
3. TinFoil reads story and declares war.
4. TinFoil calls everyone including the state.
5. Commission candidates endorse no burial, they win.
6. Setup meeting to launch green campaign for Monday 7/19.
7. State comes down on WM Magnolia Landfill on unrelated issue. Public hearing, the works.
Apparently, the folks I turned around in Montgomery really turned around. Nah, just unrelated events thrown together by circumstance, but what circumstances? One has to wonder, I sure do.

EDIT:Confirmed subsurface oil here. Now the double flag issue makes much more sense. Reported from the AIR.

TFHG, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go out there and see if you can find that submerged American flag that Ben Raines left out there in the submerged oil.

I caught two nice flounder yesterday, right off the old barge near Punta Clara. Summertime seafood goodness. No flags, though.

good fer you tinfoil.

Speaking of sub surface oil, where is the NOAA research fleet?
Surely this is by far the most direct challenge that agency currently faces, the reality of an eco disaster on our shore.
There was some comment posted previously which said the leading NOAA research vessels had been dockside since late May, on HQ orders.
If this is correct, we are missing critical information to correctly evaluate or model this spill and its effects.
Could someone shed some light on this, please?

I have been unable to locate anything resembling a science report from the Thomas Jefferson survey, except a PR puff piece on the NOAA website. FOIA request forwarded NOAA general counsel.

Trying to not talk out of school here (I like my job, even if I make <1/5 the $250/hr BP is paying some academic colleagues):

There are issues with the TWG for subsurface oil. As of yesterday, unless they've had equipment malfunctions again, the Jack Fitz & Bunny Bordelon (& I think Rachel Bordelon) were "looking" for subsurface hydrocarbons with methods not signed off on by the Trustees. Look for a separate NOAA/Trustees effort with different SONAR frequencies and a different sampling plan to leave port in the next couple of days. There are a number of "interesting" technical scientific & engineering & statistical issues involved in quantifying subsurface hydrocarbons.

I've written to NOAA public affairs staff, and to the command contact address for the Thomas Jefferson, twice, asking for information relating to a "real" report from the survey trips. I've pointed out to them, on both occasions, that some rather wild claims were being made, with reference to the Jefferson's findings as "evidence" for those claims.

I've receive no meaningful response, just canned fluff.

Thomas Jefferson went out for another three weeks beginning mid-June, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Continues Deepwater Horizon Spill Study Mission,
a couple of others have been collecting fish for analysis, NOAA Ship Delaware II to Collect Tunas, Swordfish, Water Samples on Deepwater Horizon Spill Study,
two ships have been studying the loop current NOAA Sends Two Ships to Study Loop Current and Coastal Florida Waters,
NOAA funded ships are at work NOAA, U.S., Brazilian Partners Send Ship to Study Corals, Water Column for Gulf Oil Spill Response.

No doubt there could be greater effort...

No NOAA missions to do research re: submerged petro, however, except at the coastline and around the well only.

Yes - I wonder if any academic vessels are still doing that. I haven't seen any mention of additional activity since Joye's mission docked.

“These vessels are providing a variety of seafood and water samples from locations throughout the Gulf—nearshore and offshore, shallow water and deep, oiled and unoiled,” said Dr. Steven Murawski, who is leading NOAA’s science response to the spill.

If they can't find Simmon's "Hundred mile oil lake at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico apparently 400-500 feet deep" either they are better off docked - or the lake doesn't exist.

Anyone following the Ent ROV 2? Is this some kind of new containment cap they're moving into position?

BTW, y'all -- for the most part -- ROCK! I've learned an awful lot from you over the past three months, thank you.

so much emphasis on testing for pressure! I pretty much think the existing gusher is ruptured below the wellhead. but we will never know for sure cause the ROV's are in private hands. there is no independent news or video of the surrounding seabed coming from the site. Not like the media does a good job anyway, but still something would be better than only BP coverage of the event....

Ruptured below the wellhead where? Where is the oil and gas that has sprung forth from this rupture? It is being absorbed? Unlikely, no? Perhaps impossible. Why is the pressure rising? We are being lied to about that as well? I am not so sure the evidence supports your hypothesis. Good luck.

only the lawyers will care if the hole is compromised after the well is killed. suttles hedged by saying there is no proof. so, what ya gonna do?

but still something would be better than only BP coverage of the event....

Like independent scientific research results being broadcast by radio Havana? >;^)

The absence of evidence is the surest sign that there is a conspiracy afoot.

You're on the right track, but you must go one step further to portray the ruthless cleverness of these dastardly villains:

The complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working!

You just gotta love circular arguements........

Paranoia is a theme in every thread. This thread refers to literary snobs. So what could be more fun than combining them?

Madame de Villefort: "It's quite simple. The count is telling us horrible stories with the intention of making us all die of fear."
Monte Cristo: "Is your terror real, madame?"
Madame: "No, but you have a way of supposing things which gives them an illusion of reality."
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

"Someone hit with a disorder can muster the most insignificant of details and construct an elaborate and coherent theory of why there is a conspiracy against him. And if you gather, say, ten paranoid people, all in the same state of episodic delusion, the ten of them will provide ten distinct, yet coherent, interpretations of events."
- Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

There's nothing objective about literature, but the best literature has something valuable to say about human nature so can be helpful to consider.

@ndr: it's fun too.

kiers, the ROV operators are indeed in private hands, put there are military dudes holding H&K 9 mm pistols to their heads as they operate their vehicles, the CIA has set up a torture chamber in New Orleans just in case they think there are huge oil spills being covered up by BP, AND the president has ordered Men in Black to infiltrate BP's headquarters.

Anyone know what Seadrill West Sirius semisub was tasked to do?

Here is a quote from a thread on the previous thread of this discussion which I followed up on google.

Benton F. Baugh, president of Radoil Inc. in Houston and a National Academy of Engineering member who specializes in underwater oil operations, warned that the pressure readings could mean that an underground blowout could occur. He said the oil coming up the well may be leaking out underground and entering a geological pocket that might not be able to hold it. But Roger N. Anderson, a professor of marine geology and geophysics at Columbia University, said the oil pressure might be rising slowly not because of a leak, but because of some kind of blockage in the well. "If it's rising slowly, that means the pipe's integrity's still there. It's just getting around obstacles," he said. He added that "any increase in pressure is good, not bad."

The original article can be found here in the google cache. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jeSUR_d9KjIJ:www.wy...

The interesting thing is that the original article had morphed into something entirely positive and no worries now type of language that didn't include this interesting pair of counterpoints. The search on Baugh and pressure and blowout brought up cached copies that didn't include the counterpoint and had been changed to this new format. However, a search on the original title brought up a lot of cached copies that included the original counterpoint.

Clearly, the point/counterpoint is being edited out of the current articles as the spin is being changed. I am just wondering if Benton F. Baugh is also a kook? Are his comments also kooky and illogical or does it make sense?

Since fdoleza seems to be the original proponent of the cross flow theory and this point/counterpoint seems to fit that bill I was hoping he might comment.

Is it possible that the cross flow could cause problems in the other reservoir?

I don't remember now from reading the other discussions to what the nature of the cross flow was attributable. If there are two different reservoirs one above another, is it the case that the one closer to the surface would have lower pressure? If this is so, then is there risk of fracturing the lower pressure reservoir as a result of an equalization of pressure between the two?

Just wondering because this seems to me like a case of hooking a 50V battery in parallel with a 20V battery which isn't usually a good idea.

Of course being an EE I am looking at the issue with EE colored glasses so I could be way off base in my analogy. Just wondering about this interesting counterpoint which I hadn't previously considered in reading about the cross flow.

There's a new statement by Thad Allen at the DW Horizon site:


BTW, keep up the good work folks. I'll chime in if I think I can add anything to the discussion.


emphasis added

WASHINGTON - Per my conversation with BP Executive Bob Dudley as recently as 11 a.m. EST today, nothing has changed about the joint agreement announced yesterday between BP and the US government. The ongoing well integrity test will continue until 4 p.m. EST today, with the potential for additional extensions in 24-hour increments. As a condition of the extension, the US government has required significant new monitoring and periodic evaluation and approval by our science team.

Work must continue to better understand the lower than expected pressure readings. This work centers on two plausible scenarios, depletion of oil from the reservoir and potential leakage caused by damage to the well bore or casing.

While we are pleased that no oil is currently being released into the Gulf of Mexico and want to take all appropriate action to keep it that way, it is important that all decisions are driven by the science. Ultimately, we must ensure no irreversible damage is done which could cause uncontrolled leakage from numerous points on the sea floor.

Oops. Meant to post my reply here. CNN led it's 4:00 EST segment with Gulf story including Allen's statement above, sans the last sentence.

Cue Twilight Zone theme.

(Sorry for the repeat. mY Dell won.t boot-bad patch, it sez I'm reduced to pecking this out on an iPad)

p.s. I have no evidence that my computer was sabotaged for drawing attention to this. Does that mean it was part of a conspiracy?

Can't handle it, huh? http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/18

How disappointing. It appears that your thinking is stuck inside an oil drum. Over at Huffy Post they say you guys all shill for BP and corrupt government.

From that link

Why was BP allowed to drill in this location? Both the MMS and BP geologists cautioned against drilling in the location of the Deepwater Horizon due to evidence of a highly volatile methane bubble beneath the seabed. They warned that if this bubble was disturbed and exploded, it could cause a 200 foot tsunami that would virtually wipe out six Gulf states! In spite of all this, MMS waived environmental impact studies for the rig and well.

Somehow we've circled back to huge bubbles and a 200 ft tsunami.

And it just keeps growing, I saw an interview with the Warrior/Hero of Pensacola where he's saying the Tsunami could kill 100's of millions of ppl.....but, I do watch it for shits and giggles when I'm bored!

Here is part one if anyone can access it-but I must warn you to put down anything you are drinking to save your laptop screen:


The question seems to include alot of statements that could be debated. However, the main point is about the lack of regulatory oversight and the existence of potential hazard to the public. So let me paraphrase:

Why was BP permitted to do deepwater drilling in such a high methane area of the Gulf?

It's still a load of complete nonsense. It's a pity you are taken in by it

Do you honestly believe even the first point?

1. Why was BP allowed to drill in this location? Both the MMS and BP geologists cautioned against drilling in the location of the Deepwater Horizon due to evidence of a highly volatile methane bubble beneath the seabed. They warned that if this bubble was disturbed and exploded, it could cause a 200 foot tsunami that would virtually wipe out six Gulf states!

I'm still trying to find the sixth Gulf state. Lessee, There's Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and...


I'm drawing a blank.

The oh what a state?


Over at Huffy Post they say you guys all shill for BP and corrupt government.

Please ask Arianna Huffington about the solubility of permanent gases in water at ambient pressure and temperature and tell me what she says.

She's a bubblehead and a ginger.

Ginger. Had to look it up:

Ginger --
A rare natural hair colour which inspires odd and sometimes fearful reactions from the more common coloured hair types. Typically redheads are believed to be more sexual than normal, highly artistic, fierce fighters, and to have a greater tolerance for pain than average. The sun is their only real enemy.

Decendants of vikings. The Romans were said to have put red haired males born in the empire into training as soldiers since they were believed to be fierce warriors. Rome also gave up on taking Ireland due to the number of redheads they saw there.

Women with ginger hair are greatly admired in the US yet feared in the UK. Being called a "Ginger" is an insult in England but laughable in the US.

Reminds me of this:

Take that, English dogs.

If there aren't some fresh images of a chocolate pelican soon, the anti-drilling forces are going to lose some of their effective visuals. Spill Cam was pretty effective, but now it's No Spill Cam.

HuffPo has a bunch of oilcoholics in denial. I missed the part that said, "Why was BP drilling in the Gulf instead of in Bakersfield or Beverly Hills?"
What has HuffPo done in the last 90 days to move away from their addiction to FF?

HuffPo is just another blog in the blogosphere. Nobody checks the science behind what poster's post. They pushed the "vaccines cause autism" scam for a long time because Arianna believed in it.

I've gotten really disgusted with the so-called left, 80% of whom are to my right.

I still support the President but Obama is losing my faith. He lacks true leadership IMHO. I coined a term of his tactics on AL.COM and it was a hit. 'Talk and Awe'. Use that one. I still support him and hope he pulls it out. There is still time. God bless America and its government.

this is what i believe will happen. macondo will be produced and proceeds will go to us gubmint. this is what the argument is about right now.

msnbc appear to have forgotten that BP has already pledged it's share of net oil revenues from MC252 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

You might support him, but he has abandoned you.If he cared, he wouldn't have vacationed in Maine.

You support him too. There is not another co-president laying around. Of course, my support is not total and does not restrain me from redress such as these comments. I would still salute him face to face due to previous lifetime oaths. If he said I was active, I would follow his orders as though they were the word of God, pursuant to US law. My support for him would be total at that point until relieved of duty.

Talk and Awe.
That would be a good one for Colin Powell.

Talk = "I'll say anything you want, boss."
Awe = "Aww, I didn't mean it, new boss."

Now that's leadership!

You remembered I was a Powell fan. I now realize there are many more detractors than I had thought. I wanted him for incident command, but I think Allen has actually started to wear on me. Did you see my positive photoshop on Powell?

Seems to be a conflict of hymn sheets. Suttles (bp) says the well will remain shut, Allen (US Coastguard) says the well will be opened up to capture.

@beagle: this is the argument that will win the day, imo.

The produce-the-well strategy was voiced by former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, who told "TODAY" he fears that the casing at the base of the well might be too weak to support the ultimate goal of plugging the well with cement.

"Do we have enough casing to hold cement to hold oil in the reservoir," he asked.

"We have a flow, why don't we use that flow," he added. "Let's capture all of the oil if we can. In other words, produce the well. And if this well is damaged, drill another well to be a production well ... the funds could be used to restore the Gulf Coast."

the funds could be used to restore the Gulf Coast

Gosh, I had never even thought about that, that is one compelling argument. The "Macondo fund" could do a whole lot of good for the Gulf and also leave a permanent legacy for the 11 souls who lost their lives.

that's the ticket. heck, give the proceeds to the 11 families. it woundn't be enough, of course but it would be a lot more than bp will give them.

Sunday morning, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told reporters that, because a new mechanical cap seems to be holding, "there is no target set to open the well back up to flow." That seemed to be an open-ended plan to keep the well closed. Suttles said that if no problems arose, the well could stay closed until a "relief well" shuts it down for good.

But then, Sunday afternoon, Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen (ret.), the federal government's point man in the disaster, said in a statement that concrete plans for the well had not been made past 4 p.m. Sunday


They're actually saying pretty much the same thing...

Suttles, 7/18 briefing

I think that nobody wants to see anymore oil go into the Gulf. Absolutely no one does, but clearly we have to make sure that we don’t make the situation worse and that’s the reason why we're taking this integrity test so cautiously and carefully and have this very, very extensive monitoring program in place.

And as you said the data has been monitored continuously. Its been formally reviewed on a regular basis with all of the experts involved. And I think we will just take this day by day. Clearly we don’t want to reinitiate flow into the Gulf if we don’t have to, but if we need to to make sure things don’t get worse we will. But at this point we'll just take this a day at a time.

Allen,7/18 statement

WASHINGTON - Per my conversation with BP Executive Bob Dudley as recently as 11 a.m. EST today, nothing has changed about the joint agreement announced yesterday between BP and the US government. The ongoing well integrity test will continue until 4 p.m. EST today, with the potential for additional extensions in 24-hour increments. As a condition of the extension, the US government has required significant new monitoring and periodic evaluation and approval by our science team.

Work must continue to better understand the lower than expected pressure readings. This work centers on two plausible scenarios, depletion of oil from the reservoir and potential leakage caused by damage to the well bore or casing.

While we are pleased that no oil is currently being released into the Gulf of Mexico and want to take all appropriate action to keep it that way, it is important that all decisions are driven by the science. Ultimately, we must ensure no irreversible damage is done which could cause uncontrolled leakage from numerous points on the sea floor.

(emphasis added)

@rain: yes, and both senarios can be true just now. leak and depletion. depletion if you consider the pocket theory of the deposit and leak if you consider a small leak that could be overcome by renewed flow from adjacent pockets. i believe that is why bp chose to drill. there may be an interconnected field. even simmons was saying maybe 40% of gulf was conected.

LONDON, July 18, 2010 (AFP) - Oil giant BP could split itself up by scaling back its U.S. operations and selling refineries and petrol stations in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The troubled British-based firm is facing a battle to rebuild its reputation following the worst environmental disaster in US history, which may now have been contained following the capping of a ruptured oil well.

Directors of the firm are at an early stage of canvassing shareholders about possible options, which include increasing the amount of in-house engineering which takes place, rather than outsourcing it, the paper said.

"BP seems to have accepted that it will be a smaller business. It is prepared to consider anything," an unidentified investor told the Sunday Times.


Increasing in-house engineering would be a positive step.

"Increasing in-house engineering would be a positive step."

Not if their new engineers pull the same stunts as the engineers they had working on DWH. Those engineers were there to provide cover for cost-cutting practices that do not conform to industry standard or best practices. The cement job is exhibit A for that proposition. (http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/293776-1) BP management seems to have corrupted engineering to justify its risk-taking. It will take more than new engineers to fix that.

With Mark Hafle in charge? BP has hundreds of engineers and, worse, bean-counting risk tolerant managers that killed 11, destroyed a rig, tried to pin blame on Transocean and Halliburton, covertly planned to produce from the relief wells by drilling horizontally into the reservoir, blundered with stupid collection schemes that didn't work, and leaked 3 million bbls into the Gulf while denying they could measure flow.

Thank God the government put Wright in charge of relief well drilling program.

Congress forced them to cough up internal documents that show BP shrugged off the risk of a long tapered liner, ignored Halliburton and bullied Transocean to hurry up and move the rig. They put trainee Kaluza in charge of negative test.

The only way to fix BP America is disband it and impound the assets.

Do you have any facts or links to stand to these assertions? Then please present links.

"covertly planned to produce from the relief wells by drilling horizontally into the reservoir"

There was to my best knowledge no horizontal drilling.

"blundered with stupid collection schemes that didn't work"

The collected some stuff - not enough maybe but collection worked to some part.

"Thank God the government put Wright in charge of relief well drilling program."

To my best knowledge BP chose Wright.

Took a long time to find it. Stalinist airbrushing missed one copy.

avon -- I drill offshore horizontal wells for a living. Long story short the schematic of that directional well couldn't be produced. Perhaps the confusion has come from the discusion that either or both RW's could be eventually used as producers years down the road. That certainly could be an option.

Those drawings were not meant to be precise, just to show the scope of the operation. Note 1500 ft away is DWH vs. 5000 ft water depth vs. 18000 ft well depth.

Here is a quote regarding the intersection angle for the RW. Emphasis mine.

Kent Wells update: July 17, 2010 7:30 a.m. CT

We completed our open hole ranging run yesterday.If you remember I talked about this is the precision part of the hole. We've got it down pretty precise now. We're actually 4.8 feet away from the Macondo well. We're at an angle of 1.9 degrees and based on that we're now going to drill 24 feet to our casing point. So like I said very much in the precision.
We're feeling very good at this point on how the well is lining up. So towards the – we’ll drill that down, do another ranging run towards the middle, back end of next week we'll set casing, do some testing and then we'll look to drill out to do the intersection. Once again looking for the intersection to occur towards the end of July.

This picture is factually incorrect and needs to be removed from this blog. For those not familiar with the oil field it is missleading and can cause many bad arguments.

Are we really having "IMAGE IS NOT TO SCALE" discussions?

Relief Well scale

Wright's intervention plan

Somebody leaned on BP to drill two instead of one relief well IMO.

This was a well in the Mideast(Three wells). The feds pushed BP for a second well

This is not for Macondo.


"Increasing in-house engineering would be a positive step."

Yea, that's the ticket. Direct-hire degreed engineers who won't or can't pass a simple engineering licensing exam (no panacea, admittedly), so they can work without personal liability under an "industrial exemption clause" while wearing golden handcuffs monogrammed with the letters "BP".

Having the corporate logo on one's Nomex does not make one a better engineer, just one who has more to lose if he/she dares to say "no" to some manager's hair-brained scheme that will gain the manager another rung on the corporate ladder.

Direct or contract, the engineers must be competent, and they must be prepared to function ethically.

I still like the idea of one guy from Rockman, Inc overseeing the operations on each and every rig, with authority to shut it down. I want ALL oil companies to be competent and careful, not just BP.

He would become Rockman the Hut, fueled by an insatiable need to consume Blue Bell. Remember Lord Acton.

I am all for freedom of speech but this tin foil hat club is taking up to much bandwidth.

Cross reference all IP numbers from "those other sites" against every one here, and ban all that match. Why not? Every time a coherent poster gets loose in their neck of the woods they ban them, no reason we can't do the same when they come here and spew nonsense.

Then I would say you are not ALL for freedom of speech.


No your wrong I am all for freedom of speech. That does not mean being stupid while your at it. There is enough stupid talk to fill the internet twice over. I am for opinions with a common frame of reference and that stay on point. This event is difficult enough to follow along with and adding political spin and conspiracy crap only degrades the website and the postings. I am all for staying with the program. If you want to clutter the posting with bullshit go some place else.

I suggest you check my postings if you think I post bullshit. I usually don't post on political issues, but I don't have an issue with those that do. I strongly believe in freedom of speech including yours and even from the nuts. If they are to out to lunch I just skim over it and go to the next post.

Rio -- I personally feel TOD should ban any discussion of free speech. Just as long as we remember that not all free speech is equal.

ROCKMAN, should this be flagged?

Snake -- I don’t flag folks. Just a philosophical point for me. The worse I do is just scroll past the names of those folks. I figure the best punishment for nasty folks (who are typically craving attention) is to ignore them.

BTW -- My response to Rio above shouldn't make sense to anyone...that was my point. LOL. If anyone did undestand what I said you should seek professional help immediately. LOL.

I've flagged a couple but it takes pretty extreme and unjustified ad hom. With lots of flagging the flaggers get flagged and pretty soon you wind up in a pool of butter.

It was a joke. Not too good, either.

The only time I have flagged is by accident with my fat fingers on my iPhone and I think it was flagging myself. :)

Uh oh. I'll have to go see Burlap at the Please Come Inn.

As you know I post mostly about techincal issues that I might have a little expertise in. But I get a little off track once in a while. I have some very strong political opinions and I understand that posting them can just start a pissing match.

Yes, it's thick in here today! I'm heading outside~!

Just heard again on NPR the earlier reported story that the original BOP was overhauled in China. IMHO this is going to get a lot of traction in the next few weeks.

Can/will the original BOP ever undergo some type of forensic engineering?

@oldb: great timely question. so, lets say the bop is a legal matter and should be recovered asap. there will be a hesitancy to do so. more cover to the produce macondo scenario. push the bop recovery way into (10-15 years) the future where people will forget?

"...Yesterday, Kent Wells mentioned that some bubbles had been seen. BP has not yet been able to gather samples of these bubbles, but is working on this effort. If these bubbles were methane, they would expect to see methane hydrates forming, but none have been seen so far. So this would seem to be evidence that the bubbles that have been seen are something else...." TOD today.

So, what if those bubbles are from dewatering as the pressure gradients change within other parts of the total reservoir structure? BTW, Rockman mentioned back a ways that he was suprized that the reservoir was only 60" in depth. I suspect that figure is a Jesuitical truth. 60' in depth is the depth after the original structure reconformed and created that pocket. Since compartmentalization is being considered, need to extrapolate the dynmaics of that particular phenomenon.

"Rapid depletion due to reservoir compartmentalisation." Papa Whiskey today.


"...Vent fields from which methane-charged, low-salinity fluids containing sulfide, ammonia, 4He, and isotopically light CO2 escape are associated with these exposures. They characterize a newly recognized mechanism of dewatering at convergent margins, where freshening of pore waters from hydrate destabilization at depth and free gas drives fluids upward..."

"...Sedimentation, Overpressure, and Shallow Water Flow Shallow water flow results when geopressured sands are drilled in areas of low formation strength
(Pelletier et al., 1999; Ostermeier et al., 2000) (Figure 4). It is common in the deepwater Gulf ofMexico with the greatest risk of its occurrence in the zone where there has been recent sedimentation in front of the Mississippi delta (Figure 5)..."

I have a question about the relief well(s), specifically about the actual event where a RW makes contact with and punctures (is that right word?) the main well. I guess the question is, "How the hell does that work, anyway?" I have not seen a description of that part of the process, although I realize I may have missed it on TOD. I did some searching but could not find what I'm looking for. I'm hoping someone here can explain it or point to sources that do.

The BP site has a page titled How a relief well works but it doesn't drill down (pun acknowledged) to the level of detail I am looking for:

A drilling rig drills a relief well or second well to intersect the original, flowing well as deeply as possible. A specialized heavy liquid is then pumped into the flowing well to bring it under control.

It's that "intersection" part that I am curious about. I recall seeing an episode of This Old House many years ago where one of the upgrades was to install a new supply line from the water main under the street. Now, the end purpose of this was different than what a relieve well does, but there's a part of the process that seems to me to be very similar--intersecting an existing structure that is currently under high pressure. Anyway, on the show they dug down 6 feet or whatever it was to get to the water main. They wrapped this contraption around the main that sealed a certain part of the rig off, which allowed them to drill a hole in the main without gushing water everywhere and install a tap that would go to the house.

I'm just trying to picture how this sort of thing works down at the depths we're talking about with this oil well. The relief well process doesn't allow for a managed tap that wraps around the main pipe, like I saw with that water main. So how does the relief well not result in oil and gas spewing out of a tiny hole the moment the main well is breached? Is there a gasket at the front end of the relief well? I do not get the impression that the relief well is filled ahead of time with mud heavy enough to counteract the pressure of the main well. Is some initial spray/spew expected and accepted, and then stopped by the subsequent pumping down of heavy mud?

OK, that's several questions. I guess it all comes back to my initial question, "How the hell does that work, anyway?" Any insights appreciated. Thanks in advance.


I'm not sure they'll answer all your questions but I found the following two Kent Wells videos helpful.

Relief Well Overview and Ranging Animation

and Relief Wells Operations Overview

and this article on relief wells on John Wright's site - he's the guy calling the shots on DD3.

Relief wells: Advancements in technology and application engineering make the relief well a more practical blowout control option

Does anyone know what Skandi 2 is collecting or watching? Darned if I can read the ops legend against that silvery background.

It is zoomed in really, really close on the gas collection being done right next to the wellhead. It is collecting into what looks like an inverted tin funnel when seen in its entirety.

"Gas Monitoring". It is sampling the tiny bubbles which they are fairly certain are just normal and probably nitrogen bubbles from cement which has recently been temperature cycled (and are seen on other wells) but they want a sample just to be absolutely certain. That's what has been said at briefings.

Thanks, guys.

First we're going to plug the well by pumping mud into the BOP with the top open. I didn't see any golf=gulf balls coming out of the top either. Now we're thinking the pressure should rise in the well substantially with the bottom open to the reservoir. Some pressure build could be expected but it would equalize with the reservoir. Any air or gas in the well would not decrease or increase the initial pressure in the well because it would immediately equalize with the liquid pressure until there is a temperature change which would force sum of the fluid back into the reservoir. Liquid pressure transfers aren't slow they are almost immediate. Now grind on this for a while. You will not prove me wrong.

@OOK: you forgot to factor in the pocket nature of the reservoir, imo.

Oilfield people and geologists are used to watching what happens when multiple things going on at once and to making decisions even though they know they can't ever have full information.

Some interesting things that might be going on right now in our favorite well:

- Slow recharge of the producing horizon after fast release had drawn down its pressure

- Cross flow between two producing horizons whose initial pressures were different, either through a worm hole outside the casing or through multiple breaks in the casing

- Loss of fluid through a shallow break in the casing

- Flow from the producing horizons to make up fluid lost to other processes

There's no need to choose among these effects. They could all be happening at once. What we see by watching the well pressure is the net result: more oil is available from the main producing horizon than is being lost from the well.

FYI, there's a GW blog article posted over at http://www.zerohedge.com/article/geologist-depletion-oil-reservoir-unlik..., laying out the contention that the Macondo reservoir is huge and therefore lower than expected pressure isn't a result of depletion.

Snakes:The guys working on it (partners too)would probably not agree with the huge reservoir contention.

I'm aware of that probability. BP's drilling plan for 252 Miss. Canyon is for two wells only.

@diver: how about a number of interconected small pockets separated only by thin sand? that would explain one drop to 4400 psi after initial pocket depletion AND gradual pocket re-load from external pocket(s).

That analysis assumes that pressure equalizes instantly through the whole reservoir. If the pores in the rock are small enough that there's resistance to flow the producing horizon could be drawn down locally and could be replenished from more distant parts of the horizon when the extraction rate were reduced.

@densley: bingo.


A belated thanks for the Neil Tyson Link.

Is BP using ultraviolet(UV) light to search for oil and gas leaks on the sea floor/BOP?

Hydrocarbons exhibit bright florescence under UV light. This phenomenon is used to detect minute amounts of hydrocarbons in drill cuttings.....remember your old blacklight posters?

Any hydrocarbon leaks would exhibit bright flourescence. For instance, the bubbles emitting from the base of the BOP would stand out like a sore thumb under UV light if they contained hydrocarbons. Equiping a ROV with a blacklight bulb would be simple.

This is such a simple and effective method of seeing hydrocarbons that I can't believe it is not being used but it hasn't been mentioned. Perhaps the white light channel is public while the blacklight channel is getting beamed directly to the Evil Doctor Chu's secret headquarters.

I smell a conspiracy.....A very dark and sinister conspiracy.


I would think the entire area would glow like a sore thumb. Everything collected oil while it was gushing out.

Plus there's the photons stripped from the red "compressed methane".

I wondered about that also.

It would be interesting to see either way. The top of the BOP is 60' above the sea floor. Did all of the hydrocarbons go up? I tend to think so.

If a fraction of the oil did filter down and settle on the sea floor it would be a heavy "asphalt" portion that would have dull floresence verses the bright floresence exhibited by a fresh leak.


Actually I have seen it mentioned, via NatGeo.

The water would absorb the UV like crazy.



Bad memory - it's on the sand. Nevermind.

Correct. UV absorption (~ 360 nm) by seawater is about 80% per meter (Laboratory Analysis of the Selective Absorption of Light by Sea Water, JOSA, v. 29p. 43 et seq., and lots of later references). This absorption is increased when there's additional dissolved organic and/or mineral matter, and scattering increases with turbidity (stirred-up silt, etc.). To get underwater UV brightness equivalent to what you get using a UV flashlight in air looking for oil in mud returns would take a far brighter UV source than is available for deep sea submerged use. I can think of ways around this, but they're laboratory methods, not packaged for field deployment. I therefore doubt there's a BP conspiracy to keep UV flashlights off the ROVs.


Thanks for the info.

It does beg the question: How many BP people does it take to screw in a UV light bulb in to a ROV..................?


Can't be done. We only screw UP not IN

Call me jaded, but is it possible that the reason the pressure is low is that it doesn't conform to the meme that 100,000 barrels a day could have been leaking?

Is the increasing well pressure more consistent with that meme, and when this new cap is opened to allow flow, will the higher pressure that has been building then increase the flow during the "test" that the government would like to have to be able to determine a flow rate?

Also- why would you keep the pressure on a seal that you were afraid might fail due to pressure, when you can just collect the oil and relieve the pressure? Is the issue that BP wants to keep the oil in the reservoir so it can collect from it later?

The good news is the crisis has given me more confidence in the ability of the blogosphere and sites like this one to get to the bottom of issues. The bad news is that it has given me less confidence in the ability of government and academia to give me reliable answers. I never had that much confidence in the ability of big business to do so, but at least they're generally truthful about their inability to do so.

For what it's worth, that phrase about monkey/football interaction has been around a long time to describe "somebody doing something in a pathetically incompetent manner". No racial connotation at all.

I, for one, am disappointed that several dozens of comments had to disappear to suppress it.

@fh: i agree completely. thought the racial complaint was strange. i didn't get it at all. someone thought it was about bama? people are so sensitive nowadays. i think we have over corrected.

Perhaps it depends on where in the country you grew up and/or how long ago you were born. Sure sounded like a dog-whistle to me, but then I was raised south of the Mason/Dixon line.

yes, proly a regional thing. i don't understand dog whistle either. thanks for the feedback.

I thought it was meant to be a joke. No?

@siva: for me it was a joke. nothing more. maybe i have been sheltered all my life.

I meant the 'racist' accusation was meant to be some sort of joke.

Since any gaseous methane will basically flash freeze upon reaching the seabed surface, could those be hydrate patches the seabed monitoring ROVs are seeing?

Ever hear about the Banana-Doughnut theory, or the The Mogi doughnut hypothesis, in the science of seismic tomography. You do know that the Gulf is the tectonic center for residual gravity ...?....don't you...?

Here's the compiled movements for an 11 month period where the big one happened in the Gulf in 2006


Here was the epicenter of the quake, and the direction of pressure travel.


Here's the events from the time of the blowout to today's date.


..after I read the LA Times article today...I had some questions, especially after what some studies about the Eastern Hub reveal.


Anyway, i have a rather large article, a ton of various maps and studies.... I'd like a few opinions from the smart ones...so I came here.

Here's the link to the article


Just went and read your article at your blog about the Mogi doughnut hypothesis. Although I didn't understand most of it, it was certainly fascinating nonetheless. Thanks for drawing people's attention to this doughnut/banana theory as it relates to earthquakes. For the record, I am just a middle-aged woman living in Florida that is very concerned about what has been going on in the GOM, so don't beat me up guys. I certainly know nothing about science. But that being said, I could not help but notice that there were 6 earthquakes in the eastern half of the US within 24 hours of the capping of this well. The first went off in Arkansas about 30 minutes after the well was capped. There were 5 more on the map within the next 24 hours. Since my son lives in southern California I watch the earthquake maps at earthquakeusgs.org pretty frequently, and so I know that 6 in a 24 hour period in that part of the US was a little weird. The only thing that I could think of was root beer. When I was a child, my dad would make homemade root beer. Sometimes he'd make a mistake and the cap would blow off and root beer would shoot everywhere. But when things went right we had bubbly rootbeer on hot summer days. So I couldn't help but wonder if this cap was exerting some sort of back pressure on the earth's crust. Anyhow, I actually commented about it here on TOD but my comment was pretty much dissed. Thanks for this site. I come here a lot, to try to gather information, though most of the time I haven't a clue what I'm reading!

One more thought. There have been three small earthquakes right on the Mississippi River in Missouri since Friday. I guess this is where the New Madrid fault is? It's almost directly north of where the rig exploded. I just think this is a little odd.

"But that being said, I could not help but notice that there were 6 earthquakes in the eastern half of the US within 24 hours of the capping of this well."

I read about that too, but you don't really hear much talk about it on the news or anywhere else.

It would be worthwhile to read the original article (Mogi's scientific paper) before assuming that its conclusions apply to a huge region. The LA Times article quotes Susan Hough as saying that news items like this one cause unnecessary panic more often than they provide useful insight. She and Lucy Jones have been recording and cataloging Southern California earthquake data for decades, so they'd know as well as anyone whether there's a prominent pattern like this.

The maps in this blog article show earthquakes thousands of miles apart that are happening for different reasons: subduction of the Nazca Plate under Mexico, transform tectonics on the San Andreas Fault, extensional tectonics in the northernmost Rio Grande Rift, flake tectonics where a major transform blends into the back arc area of the Lesser Antilles, a few stray earthquakes in the Mississipi Embayment and in stable North America. I doubt that there's an underlying geologic feature that links the causes and the timing of all these earthquakes to one another.

I'll worry about the possibility that earthquakes are linked over an area 2500 miles across when Ross Stein says it's reasonable.

something been bothering me since i heard suttles briefing. he mentioned he/they were using a horner clot. can't remember in what context. oh, measuring the pressure. anyone know what that might be?

Horner "Plot", not clot - plot used for analyzing pressure buildup data

I am glad I am not the only one that does that. At least it was close.

Google for "Horner Plot" (with quotes) for more information than you ever wanted to know. Some good explanations a thread or 3 back.


fletch -- "Horner clot". LOL. I know it was probably just a typo but a great laugh anyway...thanks. One of the prime uses for a Horner plot is to allow some qualitative estimate of how large a reservoir might be. I've seen more than one operator nearly develop a clot/stroke when the HP indicated a reservoir much smaller than thought.

Being in the IT business for years, I have had to send two to the funny farm. One stayed for over 5 years and then came back. With a big raise for time in the puzzle factory. Go figure, only in America.

@rman: i read the interview with suttles. didn't listen to it. hence the "clot". heck, i'm not an oil man. coulda been. what do i know. happy to bring some humor to ya.

fletch -- Kudos for you anyway. You're educating yourself. That's what this country needs as much as anything else IMHO.

It is now open industry warfare in Louisiana. It will spread in the coastal areas like wildfire IMHO.
Until now, the Time Picayune was more pro industry based upon editorials and pro/con story count.

Edit: The layoffs had to sink into the community conscientiousness.

That article is one long apology for the oil business.

I read it as Anglo-Euro-Americans came to this continent and didn't respect the native people enough to learn anything from them. Arrogant, heartless and never gave a damm about the earth.

I also noted the article's provincial point of view....they act like Louisiana extends all the way out into international waters.

It is a first try. Believe me the TP has made a move. Small, but noticeable. It will progress as time marches on. Then it will come back again. Same thing happened with the relationship with the Feds over Katrina. Still rocky, but it was really improving. Then the economy tanked and now this. Wow, we sure have been getting the proverbial nature's butt whooping for a while. I hope it is over for now. Darn hurricane season.

tower -- Trust me: none of us in the oil patch feel we need any apologists. The American people are insane in the gluttony for hydrocarbons at any costs. We have the power and don't need to kiss anyone's butt. We don't need you or anyone else to like us. Even the most green greenie out there needs us more than we need them. You don’t like us now? Just wait till we slide further down the Peak Oil slope. You’re trapped and we have the only key to the cell.

What would you like the Anglo-Euro-Americans to learn from the natives that they didn't? How to fight neighboring tribes over land and resources since private property rights weren't very well developed? How to negotiate to trade Manhattan swamp land for beads? How to bury women and children alive like they did in Cahokia (google it)?

Or are you thinking about coal and corn?

We didn't learn anything about internal gas combustion engines, electricity, nuclear power, or CPV from them- and if not for these, you'd be fighting others for resources while mankind dies off- at least that's what I read will happen post-peak-oil from some here.

Truth is, global living standards have risen as population has risen. If you have some evidence to explain how solar, wind, nuclear, or even coal- post CERN announcements at the upcoming Aerosols Conference- are incapable of maintaining that trend, please provide it.

Otherwise, denigrating progress, technology, and the risks brave people took in the past to make a better world- no matter the color of their skin- is of no practical worth that I can see.

@tinfoil: this is a tough love lesson. for a couple of hundred years the people in the gulf have had a free ride re:resources. no one really cared to preserve because there was no threat. there is now a reason to cross train and educate the population for other work. being a "waterman" might not feed the family in the future. hope this brings a change in attitude.

The presence of natural resources such as oil can impede economic development in many powerful ways. They are applicable across countries and cultures. http://www.africanexecutive.com/modules/magazine/articles.php?article=2574

I think the African (Nigerian?) lake of oil story and pictures are widely disseminated here.

I think you are deliberately misleading people about the nature of the article I linked to. It's about the economic consequences of having natural resources, nothing to do with what you are suggesting.

I would have thought you of all people ought to be interested, seeing as how you care about your community and have put so much effort into making things right.

@hiver: i doubt that. he proly didn't actually read the article. relax.

I'm relaxed. I just think it's somewhat insane to comment on something that one hasn't actually looked at. But then each to their own. ;-)

My bad if you think so. I thought a lake of oil is a visual manifestation of what you are talking about, but it is totally my own opinion. Of course I read the article and it has many other merits. Sorry.

Point taken. Peace, mate.

@hiver: yes, path of least resistance. human nature to want the easy way. takes a strong will to work hard against the stream. americans, for the most part, are weak in that respect i'm afraid. i hope for a change.

And it isn't just Americans. It's the same across different countries, which is what makes those findings so sobering.

@hiver: well, welcome to the global problem. corps see profits to be made and go to the weak link where there are no laws and plenty of corruption. the majority thinking here is to promote christianity and democracy under our corp/gubmint control. for our security, of course, because other countries don't know crap about what THEY need.

Two remarks for now:

When I was a little kid, in the 1950s, we went to Nag's Head and the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week. It was a two story motel with kitchenettes, so we could eat cheaper than going out every meal.

In front of the room doors along the step between the concrete walk and the beach sand, there were bottles of solvent, probably lamp oil, and clean rags that we had to use after walking on the beach and in the ocean, to get the tar balls off our feet.

They called it the Graveyard of the Atlantic, off the Outer Banks, and especially during the war (WW II for those losing count) ships, including tankers, went down by the dozens, hundreds of them all told. They were (are!) still leaking, and bathers got tar balls on their feet. My Dad made it to 80, and died of COPD caused by Chemo, and my Mom also died of COPD caused by Pall Malls, in her 70s.

I don't know how bad the Gulf will be, I hope not too bad. I lived various places around the Gulf in my 20s when in the USN. There was a Kleenix plant in the north end of Mobile Bay that was probably worse than this well, since it was in business for decades, and pulp mill discharges contain dioxin, worse than benzene by far.

Second remark:

When you take samples, put them in a cooler on ice. This is SOP with DEP, EPA and USGS. It helps maintain the contents of the sample containers intact. When petrochemicals are suspected you need glass bottles, preferrably dark brown to keep out UV and light in general. I'm not a water chemist, but I worked with them for 20 years and live next door to a USGS hydrologist and field biologist. His personal coolers all say in big letters "DO NOT STEAL - PERSONAL PROPERTY" so they won't get confused with government coolers being sent to the analytical labs.

Sampling is tricky, I would get some training from a water lab if I intended to take samples that would stand up to peer review. And lawyers.

Just saying,

The JUCO in town has lab people and I know the director. He would love to do it. He has a PhD in Microbiology. He has students. I could go that route.

I read earlier on a news article that they say they would have to open the well up and let it dump into the GOM for 3 days to reduce pressures in order hook up their containment systems again? Is that really what they are saying?

Scientists still aren't sure whether the shut-in is causing oil to leak into the bedrock surrounding the well, which could make the seabed unstable. That's why pumping the oil through nearly a mile of pipes to four ships on the surface and containing it there may be a safer option.

But that would mean oil would have to be released back into the Gulf for three days to release pressure from the well, Suttles said.

Unimpeded, the well spewed as much as 2.5 million gallons a day, according to the government's worst-case estimates.


If so the integrity of their "containment" systems is in much more doubt than the well itself!

At 60,000bpd, 3 days is another 7,560,000 gallons of oil dumped into the Gulf, assuming everything goes as planned and there are no delays. That is another 3/4 of an Exxon Valdez.

I think this talk of going back to "containment" "just to be safe" needs to be completely off the table unless there is clear evidence of imminent, catastrophic failure somewhere.

They shouldn't even be entertaining such an idea! Deliberately dumping another 7.5 million gallons of oil into the gulf is not containment, or being safe and cautious. That is an act of terrorism if they do it deliberately.

What are these people thinking? I think enough oil has been dumped into the Gulf already.

Umm, a 3-day leak is a 3-day leak. An unsuccessful bottom-kill can delay the final killing of the well by weeks or months.

Do your math.

btw it won't be at 60,000 bpd since they now have (or expect shortly to have) the capacity to process 'up to 80,000 bpd.

No, but they are saying they would let it leak wide open for 3 days before re-connecting containment to lower pressures. That is just insane! The pressure is not that great!

If their equipment is incapable of handling 6,700 psi then it is not safe to use it and they should not be allowed to use it period.

This is a very perverse definition of "safety".

If their equipment is incapable of handling 6,700 psi then it is not safe to use it and they should not be allowed to use it period.

No, the issue isn't whether their equipment (by that I presume you mean the containment/collection system) can or cannot handle 6,700 psi, but rather whether this somewhat lower-than-optimal shut-in pressure indicates the possibiilty of weakened/leaking/ruptured casing downhole.

They are not saying 'a 3 day leak' they are saying 'up to 3 days', CYA on time but they expect it to be less. Reasons have been discussed, they just cannot switch over with a bang, maybe in an ideal world but this is a jury rigged system. They need to open up, start the feed then shut back slowly until full flow achieved into the containment. Collection capacity is not their expected capacity but capacity plus reserve in case one unit goes off line.


Containment versus shut-in does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. They have Helix Producer with a solid connection connection to the kill line through a valved manifold. Why can't they gradually open this up and ramp up to HP's 25,000bopd capacity WITHOUT first dumping another Exxon Valdez into the GOM just to be easier on the equipment. The pressure is not that high now, and bleeding 25,000bopd out the kill line would surely take that pressure down considerably.

This idea that they have to spill 7.5 million gallons before they can begin collecting again just seems insane. All they need to do is gradually start re-opening some valves. And they DO have valves that can be opened gradually on that line, otherwise producing from Helix would have been impossible the first time.

James: Relax. First, he said up to three days and did not say the whole flow for that period . Also Allen said most likely 35K per day.Put that together and it may not be as onerous as the article states. You can be sure the longer things look good the longer they will keep it closed unless Simmons is advising Chu!

Sorry, it just makes my blood boil when they discuss DELIBERATELY releasing millions of gallons of oil "just to be on the safe side". There is government involved and it is possible they might just do it in their bureaucratic exercise of infinite wisdom.

Sorry, it just makes my blood boil when they discuss DELIBERATELY releasing millions of gallons of oil "just to be on the safe side". There is government involved and it is possible they might just do it in their bureaucratic exercise of infinite wisdom.

I agree BP has done a fantastic job of setting up this false choice. It puts the govt. in a box. Chu more specifically. It makes people want to keep it shut in. It makes opening it up again look stupid.

But are we really stuck with that choice? What are they doing about it right now? It does not pass the smell test. I'm open to persuasion, but right now, it looks like BP is playing this aspect for all it's worth to persuade the admin it will suffer political damage if it keeps following Chu's plan.

It does not pass the smell test.


unless Simmons is advising Chu!

I thought Simmons was now going straight to the top. He spoke once with Chu - at that conference a few weeks ago - to grease the way. Obama just brought Michelle and the girls along with him to Maine to cover his covert meeting with Simmons aboard AF1.

Yes but the CIA is going to have to hush Simmons because what he REALLY found was the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and its exact location was supposed to be kept a state secret. Simmons is in BIG trouble now! ;-)

@rain: where did that info come from? i saw no snark sign.

I was joking socal ... didn't think Simmons references required snark tags anymore.

thanks for that. took me off guard. not enough humor on this site.

Kenny K CFO of Tacky Jacks and a longtime friend spent 20 minutes with President Obama when he came. First question I asked Kenny was how tall is President Obama. Kenny said about 6'1.5". About Kenny's height is why it is so close. Kenny then said and Obama is much shorter and smaller than Kenny thought Obama would be. Camera effect of course. Interesting though. I will ask Kenny if he saw Simmons there.

Good afternoon all - I wanted to throw a question out because I've noticed a questionable lack of coverage on this from the msm. It might not be of any relevance at all and maybe not all that unusual but it seems that this is the only place where real pros are answering questions for the rest of us laypersons. In the 60 minutes interview with (matt or mike) williams he stated that the blowout happened during there 2nd attempt at drilling. He said the first attempt ended in failure after the drill broke and they had to move to a different location. He also stated that the drilling failed when it created cracks under the sea floor that "ate the equipment" hence the move.
Is this not unusual? What caused the first attempt to fail, damage the drill and cause cracks to the point where they had to relocate? Why couldn't they just replace the drill head and continue on? And wouldn't that indicate there was some kind of danger that may be cause for reconsidering drilling in that area? I can't find anywhere gov or bp or msm that is addressing these questions.
Even the non tinfoil hat crowd is concerned that there is something about this we are not being told beyond the "to stupid to understand " aspects.

They got the drill stuck in the rock and couldn't get it back out. A pretty common occurrence, it happens.

Harking back to an earlier thread's query how this spill could have been any worse than what we've witnessed since April 20, another TOD contributor promptly posted along the lines, Well, it could have been a State-run oil company implying in their sovereign waters. Sitting in Brazil this sends shivers down you know where, particularly this week when I read senior engineering voices at public (meaning Federal Govt-funded) universities claim Petrobras has no ability to stanch a leak at sub-ocean surface depths of 6,500 ft. and more to drill into the humongous pre-salt reservoirs deep below the ocean floor roughly 200 miles offshore. A respected national reporter who attempted to obtain answers to a written list of safety questions from the National Petroleum Agency was brushed off with a list of non-answers -- her conclusion, it's probably not realistic to expect anything else in the run-up to presidential elections in October with the sitting govt's attitude "Petrobras is far too experienced and clever to let anything like DWH happen in their fields". Going forward this is outright frightening and I'm wondering if the reality that so much future DW production will be in countries like Brazil (coupled with fact the language is not English) means lively, open discourse like that on TOD is not going to be a reality for the public good if and when the next O&G disaster strikes in one of these new giant-producer countries.

rp - The MSM isn't covering those points to any great degree because they are not relevant. As I recall they stuck dril pipe (not uncommon in all drilling ops) because they had too high a mud weight and it fractured the rock and lost mud to the rocks. That's probably where the misconceptions of "cracks" being caused and made them move the rig. The rig wasn't moved. The "cracks" where thousands of feet below the sea floor. They plugged back the hole with the stuck drill pipe and side tracked (drilled around) the lost section of hole.

We've covered this aspect in great detail early on. But don't hesitate to ask any questions. And don't let the other old farts here tell you otherwise. IMHO it's much to TOD's credit that it continues to attract newbies even if they can cause redundancy. Besides, some of us big mouths like to show off our knowledge especially to folks who can't tell facts from BS. LOL.

Pull up a bowl of Blue Bell and join in.


From one old fart to another, been enjoying your commentary.

Would you please comment on an earlier question of mine? Re the reports that the original BOP was serviced in China, will a forensic engineering exam ever be possible?

berkster -- I can't imagine that the BOP won't be the start witness in the civil trials alone. It will be damaged for sure. But the design modification done in China should be well documented and will be introduced into the discussion with a very critical eye IMHO. The BOP failed…no debate there. And someone will have to have that pinned on them.

should be well documented

BP should have full as-built drawings for all the platforms they're operating in the Gulf. Reports are that their records are far from complete.

Thanks rockman,

theoildrum and all of it's contributors have been the only place that hashes all of the tech stuff out for all of us who have no experience in these matters. Most of us (myself included) are just looking for some reliable info because we just don't understand what's going on and BP and the fed don't seem to be to forthcoming.

Greetings. I am working on an academic paper that covers, in part, how Matt Simmons' controversial theories about the oil spill have been received at large, and I would be grateful if someone could point me to places where this was discussed and debated on TOD.

Thanks for your help.

Tell me it is in the field of Abnormal Psychology.


Greetings. I am working on an academic paper that covers, in part, how Matt Simmons' controversial theories about the oil spill have been received at large, and I would be grateful if someone could point me to places where this was discussed and debated on TOD.

Thanks for your help.

Discussed ad infinitum. Use the Search tool upper left corner and type in: simmons, leak

Substitute other relevant words in place of "leak". Also, look at the intro to this page below the lead news story for more info.

btw, Just curious, how do you define "at large"?

Just from a quick reading of today's thread:

It seems to me...
My common sense tells me...
I'm not an engineer[insert physicist, chemist, biologist, driller,etc.] but I think...
I'm totally new here...
Maybe I'm missing some information or just plain dumb...
That's my unprofessional guess...
Just wondering because it seems to me...
I could be way off base but...
Why don't they just...
I can't believe that they don't just...

Arrogance and Scientific Rules of Thumb
Posted by Gail the Actuary on July 5, 2010 - 10:16am

I often get irritated when I read poorly informed discussions of scientific and engineering issues. Why? I think it’s the arrogance. That arrogance comes in several forms:

Hey, you science guys! You’ve got something wrong!

I’ve figured out a solution for a problem that other people seem to find difficult.

No, I didn’t have to check what’s been done before

@ob: did ya have a point?

Some people know what they're talking about and some don't?

@ob: people have different specialties. mine is information tech and an interest in macro econ. those comments that you list are qualifiers that are allowed, imo. some say that is noise. noise to one is an explaination to another. i can count 20-30 maybe here that actually have been on an oil rig for 20-35 years. the rest of us ask questions. i believe that includes you. for your consideration. peace.

My mistake, my poor communication skills, I didn't mean to suggest that mere questions were off base. Of course not. That's why I quoted from the great post by Gail a few weeks ago. It's the presumption that an unqualified person's opinion should be given equal weight to an expert's opinion, much less an expert's knowledge.

I'm all for a representative democracy, of the people and for the people all the way, but the latest sociological/political craze has as its center the anti-intellectual notion that "just plain folks" know as much as trained professionals and can do everything just as well if not better. No they don't and no they can't. Just my opinion, peace also to you my friend.

the anti-intellectual notion that "just plain folks" know as much as trained professionals and can do everything just as well if not better


Yep, I know the Darwin quote, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." Descending once again into poetry and incurring the wrath of oilmen everywhere, as Yeats wrote, "The worst are full of a passionate intensity, while the best lack all conviction."

:) My favorite poem.

Hey berkster -- We oil guys like poetry. Here's one for you: “There was an old driller from Nantucket who….” Wait a sec…gotta get the phone.

Gail posted it, but the content was a guest post by Cheryl Rofer.

@ob: understood and thanks.

berkster - And do you offer that opinion as an expert or just plain folk? Just teasing. Slow afternoon and we're getting bored while waiting for the next shoe to drop. So we're just left to pick on each other for the moment. If it gets any slower I'll have to revive the Blue Bell ice cream conspiracy.

I'm an expert on knowing what I don't know; been showed-up enough times that now I'm very, very careful.

And by the way, by coincidence, one of my daughters just told me that today is National Ice Cream Day!

Yeah, the entertainment value here is high.
Sometimes I'm glued to the monitor watching the action, and then in the quiet periods the conspiracy people come out to play.
Random thoughts:

RE the discussion about opening her up again, isn't BP just the screwdriver these days and isn't the govt the brain calling the shots?

I don't get the argument about opening the well to get a flow reading so BP can be properly punished. There's no guarantee that opening the well will result in any liability difference to BP. Allowing flow should only be done if there is a technical reason to do so IMHO.

Thanks to the dirty fingernails bunch for technical input, and thanks to all the conspiracy theorists for the entertainment. I was visiting long before this incident, but it has been a real learning experience.


I think people are just trying to be humble, not arrogant.
I have never worked on an oil rig, so I don't know what I don't know.
I have worked in large power plants and have worked on a lot of piping systems and trouble shooting.
In several different blogs I have told people that the solutions are not simple, as we don't know the pressures involved, piping thickness, oil/gas densitys and over all just how the BOP's work. Of course that was before I joind TOW and learned a ton from the experts. Due to the TOW I fee I have a good understanding of how things work and what is required to kill the well.
Thanks to all that have provided great information.

I've been off for a couple of days, but I have a couple of questions. I'm hearing they will have to open the well back up in order to restart the containment operations at the conclusion of this test. I know it remains to be seen if this is going to be the actual course of action or not, but assuming for now they don't want to leave the well shut in completely. Couldn't they just produce off of the kill and choke lines from the original BOP and keep the pressure reduced in the well without leaking any hydrocarbons during the startup procedures? With the choke line being variable, it seems as if they could easily start that and then run it up to maximum before opening the kill line and doing the capture/flaring off of that one.

My First post. This was off the AP wire News as there has been some speculation on seepage and views by the ROV's on the various feeds. Some thought it was silt or other stuff.

Official: Seep found near BP's blown out oil well
Associated Press Writers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal official said Sunday that scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane seen near BP's busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that's been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not yet been made.


Told ya !!

One report. Extent unknown. Still a grave concern. Go to FPCON Bravo. Open 'er up and collect. Go relief well. Still on the program. Coffee cups and manual moved from front of OH CRAP button glass door.

Here is another link from the Houston Chronicle...


novice -- Certainly a possibility. But "condition of anonymity" statements don't carry much weight on TOD. We have lots of hard sources posted here to chew on. So keep posting

Yes to the anonymity part, and being cautious in our interpretation, but this is carried by AP, which is not known to be particularly sloppy or careless with major stories, as journalism goes. The problem is until it is officially confirmed, which given all the scientific uncertainties plus legal and political implications, may not happen for a good long while, this may be the only kind of information that we're likely to get in the meantime.

Can someone please explain what this story implies? I have no education in engineering or the likes of that so I'm unable to confirm what these various view points entitle. Now, I've heard of frightening scenarios floating around and I'd like to know the truthfullness behind them.

I have been following this story for a while and here are my questions.

1.)What does the above story mean, really?

2.)What are it's consequences? I know I may sound stupid, but various comments on Yahoo (I'm sorry.) such as these; "There is most likely a bigger leak about to spring up. They may never get this thing stopped.", "There is a 20 mile crack on the ocean floor and when this thing blows all of the methane will kill everyone in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. I don't know why the government hasn't issued a mass evacuation but if they don't may god have mercy on everyone down there.", and then something about a sinkhole are begining to confuse me, I'm not sure who to trust and I thought I'd come here to get some information.

3.) That tired old methane story floating around, I don't know how it's suppose to work, but I'm just curious to whenever or not this situation is plausible. I'm sorry if you had already dealt with this question numerous amount of times but I'm just a bit worried.

No, it means there is an unconfirmed report of a possible leak from the sea floor. To what extent or even a confirmation of existence must come out before any more speculation could be even fairly attempted. Go relief well. With that said, dig and post away, were are at Bravo.

I raised the question of the low 6,700psi pressure being
caused by seepage here yesterday. Some members responded
with a discussion of the possibility and the mechanism
by which it could be taking place. Very informative.

Read More:

The AP article also says the following:

BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring

My gut feeling is: the well is capped and probably will not leak. I would guess that the odds of me being wrong are less than one in ten. But, since the results of being wrong are so dire, I would think that they would have killed the well already, using the kill line on the new BOP
There have to be some risk doing the RW penetration and the wait until the RW is complete.

It appears from the Skandi ROV2 feed that they just transferred the gases they've been collecting with the funnel device to a cylinder (for tranport back to the surface?) for analysis.

My gut feeling is that BP is taking the stance: "We've plugged the damned hole, and we're not unplugging it." The government has a problem with that, because if they tell BP to unplug it, then it becomes the government's spill.

Imagine this--BP Executive, speaking to the media: "We had the hole plugged, but they told us to unplug it."

I think we're watching a game of Chess, and BP just hollered, "check."

Imagine this--BP Executive, speaking to the media: "We had the hole plugged, but they told us to unplug it."

It is a powerful box to put Chu in. Not doubt about that.

But it is a cheap-shot lie coming from a two-time convicted felon proven liar of a corporation out to save its own skin.

But it is a cheap-shot lie coming from a two-time fellon con-artist proven liar of a corporation.

Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel. :-)


Official: Seep found near BP's blown out oil well

By COLLEEN LONG and HARRY R. WEBER (AP) – 42 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS — A federal official said Sunday that scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane seen near BP's busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that's been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not yet been made.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official said BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring. BP spokesman Mark Salt declined to comment on the allegation, but said "we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this."

This is not a confirmed report yet, but is of great concern. We need to monitor the situation and any gloaters are devils. Go relief well.

Go relief well indeed. This is keeping me on knife-edge and driving me crazy, and I live thousands of miles away....

The official said BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring.

I may be jumping the gun here but can some educated legal mind enlighten us to the options available to the USG should BP continue to 'not comply'?

It just can't go there. It would be like an NFL strike or lockout. No winner either way. BP will always try to do whatever they have to get the Feds out of their building.

Watch what happens subsea. If anyone thinks there are seeps, they will open it up and let oil release back into the gulf. So far, Thad had not ordered the top flipped.

This may originate from a question you hear on some of the conference calls which relates to bubbles you can see coming from the well. The response was A) if it was methane, you'd see hydrates; and B) you see this on other intact wells; and C) they will continue to monitor.


I'm parsing this AP story a bit more carefully. What intrigues me is that the story talks about 'a seep' and 'possible methane'.

A federal official said Sunday that scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane seen near BP's busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unless they are grammatically careless (which I doubt, given the enormity of this story, if confirmed) it would suggest that a somewhat higher level of certainty about the presence of seepage vs the presence of methane being released. Notice also the following sentence, where it would appear that the seepage is not in doubt (as expressed), only the nature of what is seeping.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well.


I found out about this site from another site I frequent for news and info. I don't possess the knowledge displayed here by many, but I do enjoy reading the posts and I have learned a lot. I have to admit I was one of those drill baby drill Americans, I did not know the danger involved in drilling for oil in the GOM until the recent tragedy. And I have a feeling that I am among the majority of Americans. We just didn't know something like this could happen. The reason for this post is I would like to know what the consensus here is of the possibility of a massive oil leak elsewhere in the gulf from major cracks or fissures in the ocean floor? I am still reading a lot of articles about this possibility from various people. I really would like to believe that the oil is no longer seeping into the Gulf. Please forgive if I am asking the same question that has been asked before. It is just very hard to find answers these days.

I certainly think it would be great to be able keep this well closed until the bottom kill but I believe that would jeopardize the final solution of cementing the well in. Not allowing anymore pressure to escape from the reservoir seems to make good earth science. Watching the pressure gauges so intensely seems to indicate that they are looking for some kind of force placing pressure on the reservoir from below the reservoir. Any pressure spike would indicate something is extremely unstable in the reservoir. I believe when we are done here we should head up to yellowstone and drill on land. (-: Just joking.

No, I think they are going to open her up and collect ASAP. ROCKY.

Keeping the well shut-in during the drilling of the relief well will allow them to monitor any possible communication between the relief well and the wild well. If the wild well, now shut-in, experiences a pressure spike while they are drilling the relief well, while assuming they are drilling over/underbalanced, they will know there is a flow path between the two wells via the wild well annulus. If there is no spike, but they believe they are close enough, they could turn up the mud pumps on the relief well and look at the pressure in the shut-in well for pressure spikes, which would indicate they have intercepted the shut-in well annulus.

This could just be the fed "misinterpreting" what they are seeing on the rov cams in order to strong arm bp into doing what they what, for whatever reason they have for wanting it done. Thad has been pushing for the cap to be reopened since yesterday. Don't know exactly why they would want to do that but this story from an "unnamed federal scientist" seems a little convenient given the conflict between the 2.

Great wildly speculative counter. We shall see. If it is detectable, I believe it will be confirmed.

So what is the meaning behind this seepage, is it silt or naturally escaping oil or something else entirely? What is our best option here?

Someone mentioned what their gut feel told them -- my gut says - there is a leak into the formation - I'm not a techie so only base this on reading alot of view points and trusting what I feel... but I believe the RW will fix this... I don't understand completely - but as I understand you can get cement into the annulus space between the casing and formation and seal that leak -- then you can proceed with mud and finally cement to kill the well. Just saying - don't have the technical knowledge to say how this will exactly work - but trust the old gut...

I don't think the gut feelings of a blogger sitting behind a computer hundreds or thousands of miles away has much to do with the realities of what is going on below the ocean floor. Perhaps for someone working on the rig watching the mud returns it is.

It is probably just something you ate. ;-)


... and what do you believe is going on and what will result???


I can't do more than speculate on WHAT is going on. Perhaps the well is shut in and nothing is going on. I am just saying that the gut feeling of anyone removed from and not particularly experienced in that field is not a reliable indicator of anything.

Now, it is a different matter for those with years of experience working on the rig. They are watching the monitors, maybe the mud return, or maybe just perceive a change in the sounds on the rig. They detect that something is not right on a subconscious level before their consciousness can connect the dots, and that gut feeling is what snaps them to attention about what is going on.

But when bloggers go on and on about what their gut feeling is telling them and they are not even in that field, it is probably just indigestion.

The gut feeling is only useful in the right context.

We don't know yet. There is a blip on the radar screen and we have scrambled interceptors. We are awaiting visual or electronic confirmation.

Skandi ROV2 is showing the collection cylinder now.

(Note: This sample may be totally unrelated to the seep mentioned in the AP wire)

Thank you for your patience with me.
I can now rest in peace while this is hopefully sorted out. Also what are the chances of the cap blowing out, quite a few people are speculating about it and I'm curious about the possibility.

Speculative, yes but wildly? Obviously BP and the feds have conflicting opinions about what path to take next, is it really so hard to believe the fed might, just might be willing to speculate that there could maybe, possibly be a leak therefor making it necessary to re-open the cap? Either way defiantly saying a prayer that it turns out to be nothing.

Anyone have access to the COMPATT scans?

Q4000 ROV 1 seems to be on a leak, but I don't have expert eyes and the image keeps shifting. There seems to be a lot of fine bubbles.

HOS Maxx ROV 1 has a different angle on the same event.


Going to get photos. Wish I had RSS text for here. I have the cheap phone. Basic text only.

Looks like Skandi ROV2 is headed topside with its sample.

Hope it doesn't all boil off before it gets there.

Wouldn't you have to allow oil to flow up the main well at some point to allow the kill mud and cement to get in from the bottom? I truly do not know I'm just asking.

Yes. Otherwise, the relief well becomes a production well.

The argument on the difference between the calculated shut in pressure of 9000 psia and present measured 6778 psia can easily be resolved . First the measured pressure is accurate, and not in dispute. So how was the upper expected 8000 to 9000 pressure determined? What assumptions, principles, numbers went into arriving at these upper pressures? Thankfully a few TOD folks have put in some numbers, but need more principles.

Today Doug Scuttles stated the Q4000 and Helix could start producing within two hours. How much oil will leak into the Gulf during the production hookup? An hour out a 3” choke or kill line is inconsequential compared to many weeks of flow out the 18 ¾ inch ID of BOP. Doug Scuttles repeatedly said ’we don’t want to see more oil going into GOM water”. Once the Q4000 and Helix start producing there will be no oil leaking into the Gulf, the equipment above and below Macondo wellhead will be safer, and the risk of more problems is reduced. Why did Mr. Scuttles say oil could flow into Gulf for three days? Why does it take DDIII a week to run last casing? Is it hung off inside upper casing, or go to wellhead?

What causes the slow pressure build up? Is it the VOC’s migrating up and going out of solution, or reservoir permeability allowing more hydrocarbons into well bore, or something else (probably)? Does BP want to know the flow into Gulf waters, or let the lawyers argue it out? Of course it has varied greatly since April 20th.

Sorry if this is a bit off the thread topic but I've been waiting for a few days to ask this question and none of the threads seemed just right so here goes..

In my former Corp life I spent 20 years working for medical device manufacturers. I was in production engineering and then plant management. All of our operations were regulated by the FDA and I have participated in many formal FDA routine inspections. First question when inspectors come in is, “let’s see the management structure-chain of command”, who works for who. It better show that quality control DOES NOT report directly to operations at the plant or corporate levels. All QC functions must report to Corp VPQC and finally to CEO. My QC manager was on my staff but did not report directly to me. He reported to Corp QC for division. If he walked in my office and said a certain line was DOWN, it was DOWN, and that was that. Operations could NEVER override QC. Is this the way it is in the oil industry? If not, I’m thinking it would be a good thing to consider. From all that we have read and heard it sounds like there were those who, if they had the final authority, would have shut the DH down until things were working properly. One question Congress never asked BP CEO that he should have been able to answerer without saying, “That’s not part of my job”, is ... “Mr. Hayward, what is the management structure of your company as it pertains to the chain of command relative to Operations and QC/Safety?” If there is one thing a CEO must know it is how his/her company is organized! Most things come back to the decisions that are made by workers and management. From what I have read on TOD there certainly are folks here that would have operated DH quite a bit differently. I hope the politicians try and fix what was broken and not just use this catastrophe to forward their political agendas. There are too many livelihoods and US security at stake.

TOD is without a doubt the most honest, intellectual and refreshing source for ideas on how to move the industry forward in a way that is good for all parties involved. I hope when the well is finally closed TOD will be a place where our politicians, regulators and industry leaders will look for inspiration on clean up of the GOM and the future of hydrocarbon based fuels as opposed to other sources of energy. Thank you to all who make this a great place!

FOR ALL - The obvious just occurred to me. It is illegal for BP to open the well up and let oil flow into the GOM? I have a few oil wells in the GOM and it would be illegal for me to flow, intentionally or accidentally, any of them into the GOM regardless of whatever reason I might have. Need to let our legal eagles comment: IS IT EVEN LEGAL FOR THE FEDS TO ALLOW BP TO OPEN THE WELL BACK UP SHOULD THEY MAKE THE REQUEST? The fed laws don't exempt the govt as far as I know. I do believe a number of fed agencies have been sued for pollution in the past. Perhaps by presidential order it's possible. This would be a great question for Thad from the MSM: exactly who has authority to order the well opened up? I doubt BP nor Thad has that power.