BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - (Breaking) Anonymous Official Expresses Concern about Seeps and Pressure (and Open Thread 2)

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6749.

This is the second copy of this thread. The previous one can be found at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6746.

Update: 9:00PM EDT Sunday: Admiral Allen has sent a letter to BP about seeps which have been detected "a distance from the well", and indicates that BP needs to develop a plan for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well, in the event that hydrocarbon seepage near the well head is confirmed. This is what the letter says:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.

You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are
considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.

As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.

Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.



Previous Update AP has released this story (link here), entitled "(Anonymous) Official: Seep found near BP's blown out oil well."

The last open thread where this was being discussed (all throughout, but especially towards the bottom) was http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6745.

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.

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

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How far is the seep they detected from the well? And how was it detected?

We don't know.

The info comes, first, from an unidentified official leaking to the press, and then from Allen's reference to seeps in his latest letter to BP.

We need more data.


I'm not sure where you're coming in, but if you haven't read Thad Allen's letter to BP at the top of this thread you should do that first. Other than that I've only seen a gas sample from the wellbore returned to the surface for analysis at 1945 CDT. That ROV (Skandi 2) has now redeployed, but most of the ROVs seem pretty idle. I speculated perhaps they were running the seismic survey per Allen's letter, but have no proof of it.


I don't think there's a provable answer right now to either one of your questions

I said quite a few things, are you refering to my post, when I asked what the test were about or why the sudden talk of politics? But thanks for the advise, the story looks interesting so far, and I wonder what our more seasoned engineers have to say about it.

Can you please correct "lightning bolt" in paragraph 6 above?

Thank You.

Deleted, feeds change too fast...


Scandi 2 is spending a long time looking at the flex joint. There maybe a small leak there...


ROV1 has been pretty static with the current view of the BOP for awhile now (maybe hours?).

ROV2 just returned to the bottom about an hour ago, deployed a DP Beacon, and is just getting started on a BOP and stack integrity survey.

Can we be sure about that?
It seems to me that it's just scanning the scenery like it is suppose to, but the quality isn't the highest so I can't really see anything to major going on.

I have been watching the Rov's and reading all the Oil Drummer comments. I know zero about oil drilling. You all have taught me a great deal in a very short time.

What I do know is this.. The Gulf Of Mexico is a bath tub full of oil, coreit and Methane. Through air, land and sea it is making its way through our great states, poisoning it's people, plants and animals.

I have watched the methane gas explosions under the sea. I saw, what appeared to be a shark, blown up in a spew of exploding gas coming from the sea floor. I cried.

Has anyone considered warning our Nation of this terrible tragedy that is to come? Does anyone simply use plain common sense? We must plan to help our fellow Americans. I live in California and I have a daughter who lives in Palm Harbor, Fl. Their dog just died from unknown causes.

The Devil's in the deails. We need help.

Moonbeam, I went to the beach this afternoon, and I didn't see any oil or methane explosions. Where are you seeing them?

I'm having the same problem except I was watching the ROV camera's since I woke up this morning and I haven't seen a single explosion, of there was one we'd probably hear about it from all over the news. Whether it be from posters on this very board or some other medium, so where did you see this and if you did I suggest contacting BP right now.

Moonbeam, I looked at all of the examples you posted and all are classical examples of the bottom silt being stirred by the ROVs themselves. BTW, I've look at a bunch of these since the well was shut in and they are all pretty much the same thing; haven't found anything but "silt storms" so far.

It doesn't take much to disturb the bottom which is a very fine semi-gelatinous mass easily disturbed. The thrusters on the ROVs are pretty beefy because the ROVs are pretty big. The ROVs themselves range in size depending on their mission and use and some of the large ones are about the size of a UPS truck (according to a Newsweek article). Yes, their thrust goes out a ways because it takes a lot of thrust to make these beasts as nimble as they are. A smaller work-class ROV has something like a 75HP electric motor as a drive and the large ones 250HP drives. See http://www.sonsub.com/rov/ if you're interested.

BTW, if you dive in the GOM (I have), at much shallower depth of course, you can create the same effect on a smaller scale with your flippers if you get too close to the bottom. Like I said, easily disturbed.

ROVs can thrust in all axes and thrusters are also used to station-keep a position. An otherwise stationary-appearing ROV can still be using thrusters and create silt storms. The ROV thrust disturbing the mud doesn't even have to come from the same ROV showing the video at the time. An ROV passing close by (overhead, below or off to one side) puts out enough thrust to stir up the bottom. This area is a pretty busy place right now and some of the ROVs are working very close to the bottom.

If you watch the real-time you will see these silt storms happening all the time since the ROV video has been made available. If you watch one of the silt storms long enough, you will see the mud settle back down or the ROV cruise out of it.

BTW, there are ROV folks (techs and pilots) in this on-line community but I think many/most are tired of talking about these silt storms, IMHO.

Many people report these simple silt stir-ups as oil/ng blow-ups and are needlessly scaring people so as to fit some doomsday scenario they are peddling.

The devil also is in mis-information, some of it deliberately pushed onto unsuspecting people who may lack an adequate BS detector. I'm seeing a lot of that lately. Kind'a sad.

I hope the people who are actually making decisions are looking at this with a wider eye.

This blowout is the first time I have seen ROV video so I have no experience there, however I am a diver and to my eye the 1st video (fish) looks like the seafloor being stirred. When the seafloor is stirred by disturbing the water near the bottom it goes all over - like a cloud or thick fog. It blinds you until it clears.

However the second and third videos do not look like that at all. The ROV is clearly anchored or not moving, and the so-called silt seems to stick to itself. It looks more like campfire smoke on a still day. I have never seen silt look like that.

The fourth video looks like both.

Since we seem to be going on guts for the most part with this one I'll tell you mine: It is clearly seeping. If you don't think it is a possibility, and you can't see it might be happening, you are just as destructive as the doomsdayers. I think there are a whole lot of reasons why a slow seepage through the seafloor may be preferable to taking the cap off for both BP and the US Gov. And it could actually be. But, letting it seep is putting us yet again into uncharted territory at great risk. I think people have a right to be and should be scared. Not in the "whole worlds gonna end" way... but in the more healthy "my god... what have we done?" way. Custodians my ass.

If you don't think it is a possibility, and you can't see it might be happening, you are just as destructive as the doomsdayers.

I certainly think it can happen which is why I have looked so closely at all of these videos for the last three days. As a professional research scientist, I think I keep my mind open to whichever way the observations point and wherever the data takes me.

It is just that in this case I haven't seen anything in any of the videos that looks like a seep. Everything I've seen look like silt storms.

That is why I can't wait to see the details of today's reported seep. Hopefully we'll get coordinates and video tomorrow and perhaps even an early analysis. Still a lot of questions to be answered and could be either from a leak in the well casing or a natural seep. The case hasn't been presented yet.

Although not a geologist or in the oil business, I have worked three annual subsea research projects in the field looking at natural seeps (two in the GOM and one in the Pacific). I designed and built the data transmission systems used to move this type of video from ROVs from their research vessels to their research centers/institutions for a very large-scale research and education project. The seeps were just one small part of the overall research and surveys. One of the perks of working with my client AND being a Master Diver is that I got to do three weeks of field work every year with these folks as a vacation in addition to my real work on this project. I got tapped for the seep project. I have photographed natural seeps both as a diver and driving much smaller research ROVs. Granted, not in the DW but I still haven't seen anything on the DWH ROVs that can't be explained by my past experiences with stirring up the silts and loosely-consolidated sediments of the GOM.

It's just my opinion. It could change if better data/videos come along.

BTW, I have seen the bottom in the GOM (and other places) come up in chunks (almost like turf being blasted by a fire hose but in slow motion) like in the two video you mention and with much smaller thrusters on research-class ROVs that I've driven. No problem at all with the far bigger thrusters used on these work-class ROVs (10x to 30x the HP of what I flew). Other times, drifting haze like milk in the water.

Also, since the ROVs can thrust on their axes to keep position and the ROVs have lots of inertial mass, the thrusters can still be operating while the ROV appears to be relatively stationary and still be kicking up a lot of junk from the bottom, particularly if the thrusters are close to it.

As an aside, the class of ROV that I have experience with were flown entirely on their joysticks which means sometimes you can overcorrect and bottom out (or at least I did, a lot) which stirs things up too. From what I've read about these ROVs, it is still the mode used by these world-class pilots but with far less error than I could ever muster. I wonder if these big boys have a computer-controlled "hover" or "station-keeping" assist.

In reply to your questions about 'station keeping', these work class ROVs have several systems on board that allow them to hover or station keep. I will describe them in turn below.

1. Auto heading.

All work class ROVs (WROVs) have an electronic compass on board. Most are a simple flux-gate type, but some have a ring laser gyro (RLG) or fibre optic gyro (FOG) on board, especially for survey work. The heading from the compass is fed back to the computer controlling the ROV and can be used to automatically activate the ROV's axial thrusters to maintain a constant heading. The pilot can activate/deactivate this function as required.

2. Auto depth.

All WROVs have an accurate depth sensor on board, normally a Digiquartz sensor. Again, the data from this is sent back to the ROV's computer and can be used to automatically activate the ROV's vertical thrusters to maintain a constant depth. Again, this can be activated/deactivated as required.

3. Auto pitch/roll.

Most WROVs have pitch/roll sensors on board, and some of those have the ability to automatically vary their vertical thrusters to maintain level attitude if required.

4. Station keeping.

Some WROVs (including most OI Millenniums) are fitted with a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) which is a sensor capable of accurately measuring the velocity of the vehicle in three dimensions relative to the sea floor. The data form this is sent back to the computer and used to operate the axial thrusters in such a way as to hold the vehicle stationary (hover) in the water column and not get swept away by currents. The ROV can even be 'told' to move, say, 10 meters north and it will do precisely that, all by itself. It is my belief that this (hover) feature is being used regularly by the pilots at this work site.

It is entirely possible that an ROV can be left sitting just above the sea floor with these functions switched on. This would result in a stationary ROV sometimes kicking up sediment. The pilot could even be elsewhere, such as off having a cup of coffee whilst the ROV happily kept station (although he really shouldn't, the pilot should never leave the ROV out of the cage unattended).

The first link is really interesting just because of the fish. As for the fish being blown up, it looks as though it could be silt stirred up by the ROV, but then again I don't really know anything.

I don't think the action in the second link can be thrusters as the position of the ROV is stable. Be nice of some expert will chime in.

As I have stated before,I work with ROVs and have done for many years. I have spent many many hours looking at footage from ROV cameras as part of my work and am very familiar with how ROVs work, what they do, and what you see in the monitors and what it is that is causing what you see. I have also spent many hours over the past few weeks watching the feeds from the Gulf. In that time, I have seen many interesting things but at no point have I seen anything which I can say is definitively, or even slightly likely to be, an oil or gas leak from the ocean floor. What all of the above videos show without exception is almost certainly silt kicked up from either thruster wash or the ROV itself contacting the ocean floor. There may be some small natural seeps, but I've not seen footage of any so far. There may even be some leaks that are to be worried about, but I haven't seen any evidence of this at all yet.

The ROVs involved in this task are very powerful. The Oceaneering Millenium, which is the commonest vehicle there produces 220hp and weighs 8,800lbs in air. They are trimmed to be 'heavy' and so will naturally settle to the bottom if power is lost. It is quite usual to have the ROV sitting on the bottom with a small amount of upward vertical thrust still applied. This sends a continuous wash of water down to the sea bed and kicks up silt, even though the vehicle is sat stationary on the sea floor. It really takes very little to disturb this very fine silt and create a sh*t storm. One the ROV takes off from the bottom, it trails with it a fair amount of silt and this creates a continuing sh*t storm for several tens of seconds as well. A classic sign that what you are seeing is silt kicked up is what appears to be black lumps with a trail of 'smoke'. These are what the commentator in the above video refers to as rocks thrown up by the erupting sea floor. They are no such thing, they are small lumps of mud trailing a plume of silt behind them.

Another thing to be aware of is the apparent scale of what you are seeing. When you see the stack it is easy to forget that it is about 5 or 6 stories high, and that the ROVs are the size of a minivan. They look a lot smaller. On the other hand, when a 'rock' flies past the camera it is easy to think it is a foot across. It isn't. It's probably about the size of a small coin.

I'd also caution people about trying to interpret the sonar images. There were comments a few threads ago which were wildly off. If you want to know what you are looking at, post a picture or a video clip and I or someone else with experience will take a look. These things are much harder to interpret than the video images.

I do get tired saying the same things over and over again, but I'm happy to continue to do so in an effort to educate people and counteract the rising tide of nonsense out there.

As for the fish, Moonbeam, it didn't die, it just got some mud kicked over it. No need to cry :)


What are the indicators you used to make a determination of "almost certainly silt kicked up from either thruster wash or the ROV itself contacting the ocean floor"? Can you point me to a video that is "an oil or gas leak from the ocean floor" —— so that I can see the difference for myself? Or is the distinction one that only your expert eye can distinguish?

I'm confused by one aspect of your response (although I recognize that you may intend it to refer to another commenter's video):

When you see the stack it is easy to forget that it is about 5 or 6 stories high...

I did not notice anything resembling a stack in the video I linked to in my comment above. For convenience, I'll repost the same links:


If you can help me understand what I'm looking at, I'd appreciate it very much. Is there an easy way to tell where the ROV recording this video was located? Also, I assume that whoever shot the video of the ROV feed is mistaken to refer to the depth in feet; the correct unit for the depth indicated in the feed is meters, is it not?


Can you point me to a video that is "an oil or gas leak from the ocean floor" —— so that I can see the difference for myself?


Since so many 'experts' are telling us what we are seeing is not what we think we are seeing, perhaps it's time to actually SHOW US what exactly we are NOT seeing that we should be seeing if there is indeed seepage from the seafloor.

Which btw the government says has now been 'detected', although we don't know by which method...

It's ok, I'm patient. I'll wait out the truth...

I wish I could, but as I've said above, it's something I've never seen. If I had such a video I'd post it.

I'm all for people questioning what they see, and looking for leaks, but people have been far too eager to interpret every little thing that they don't fully understand as the first signs of the end of the world.

If I see something that alarms me, I'll tell you. Also remember, if there is something alarming down there, there will be an ROV or two watching it 24/7.

+100 for common sense and a cool head. ;-)

Hi andrewo,

To be honest, it's really just down to knowing what I see through having seen it a million times before in the course of my everyday work. 'Expertise' if you like. I wish I could point you to a video of an oil or gas leak, but I'm afraid I don't have any. I've seen gas leaks from man made structures a few times, just like the one currently on the stack, and I've occasionally seen a few gas bubbles escaping from mud as the organics decompose.

All I'm trying to say is that throughout this event I've said to myself 'Oh, some disturbed silt again' a hundred times but never once have I said to myself 'Uh-oh that looks nasty!' Remember also that if there is a leak worth worrying about down there, there will be an ROV stationed next to it 24/7 with a camera trained on it. That's what you should be looking out for.

My comment about the scale of the stack was in reference to previous threads where this was discussed, and so was for the benefit for those who were familiar with that. In more general terms what I'm saying is 'Objects in the ROV monitor may be larger (or smaller) than they appear'.

As for that video, yes, it looks dramatic, but to me it looks like an amount of mud and silt being kicked up within about three or four feet of the camera. It could be being caused by the ROVs own thrusters, or possibly another ROVs thrusters nearby. It could also be a leak from the sea floor but I don't see anything that looks specifically like oil, it looks much more like silt. Which do I think is by far the most likely explanation? I'd say the ROV did it.

The ROV's location is shown in the coordinates at the top left of the display. They are eastings and northings on a metric grid. I was unable to read them clearly, but others may wish to try to read them and plot them on the chart.

The depth is indeed in meters, not feet.

Thank you very much for your patience with me, rovman. Having reread your earlier remarks a few times and rewatching the video a few more, I think I can make out many of the features you describe without too much difficulty. It's impossible to do that without knowing what to look for. So thanks again.

Also, I've updated my blog post to reflect the fact that the video I've posted is most likely silt in that case. I'll take that video down unless I can locate video of a real, definitive seep — even one unrelated to the current trouble in the Gulf — to use for comparison purposes.

No problem Andrew, it's clear that you are a logical and clear-thinking individual wanting to seek out the best information available in order to understand what is going on without preconceptions clouding you. I myself seek to do the same and will continue to monitor the feeds and the posts here and elsewhere and keep on trying to filter out the wheat from the chaff.

I'm getting confused! Watching the video I get

E1202690/N10431722 Depth=1524.4, Alt=11.0

The eastings/northings reading look like ft. The depth & alt look like meters. But I cant remember seeing an ROV using mixed units before.

If you assume the UTM coord are in ft then its very close to the BOP.

Hi Tabbycat,

Yes, it's pretty confusing. I myself thought the UTM coordinates were in meters, but apparently they are in feet.
The depth is indeed in meters, the two values are independently changeable between metric and imperial. I'm a bit surprised the pilot hasn't changed his depth to feet, maybe he just likes it that way.

Mixed units are normal. X-Y coordinates are in feet. Depth in meters.

I'm not an ROV person (or even remotely connected).

The video is someone watching the feeds at home and displaying then on a large TV.

As ROVMAN stated, its silt being thrown up by the thrusters. I'm guessing but it looks the the ROV footage I was watching when the test started. An ROV landed very close to the BOP on the sea floor and kicked up a lot of silt for several minutes. A little later the ROV moved and again kicked up a lot of silt.

The ROV in the video was at E1202690/N10431722 (best guess trying to read video). That location is very close to the BOP, so again supports the idea that this was the ROV near the BOP watching the sea floor during the tests. I cant find the exact UTM coors of the BOP at hand, but just looked at the current footage and an ROV is hovering at E1202727/N10431687 looking directly at the BOP.

I'm guessing that if there are sea floor leaks then it will be very, very obvious.

correction, just checked the date and its not footage of the start of the test (opps, my bad).

Thanks for the ongoing patient explanation, rovman.

Although, on 99% of the occasions I have checked the ROV feeds when someone reported seepage or a "cracked seabed" what I have seen has clearly been silt and miscellaneous crud kicked up by ROV thrusters, there have been a couple of moments when the images might have been HC bubbling or seepage. Not sure, just an outside possibility.

In light of the recent reports by the incident commander indicating some concern over O/G emissions from the seabed "some distance" from MC252B and "uncertain anomalies" at the wellhead, it probably makes sense for all of us to be less than certain when we classify every reported sighting as thruster wash. Most of it certainly is, but we can't be sure about all of it, and the ROV's move and the feeds change quickly. Healthy skepticism works both ways.

As I've said elsewhere, there's a possibility that some of the data is pointing toward conditions that weren't supported by what we previously knew. Let's keep open minds.

And let's try to recognize the really clueless and frightened people who show up here, and not treat them as we do shameless trolls. Some of these folks are truly terribly scared and we may be able to help relieve the fear, just by stepping through "explanation number 345" for the upteenth time.

I'm trying to use ROCKMAN as my model. If he can be patient with all of us, we can at least take turns being patient with the real lost souls.

And let's try to recognize the really clueless and frightened people who show up here, and not treat them as we do shameless trolls. Some of these folks are truly terribly scared and we may be able to help relieve the fear, just by stepping through "explanation number 345" for the upteenth time.

Hear! Hear!

Thank you kalliergo, and I'd like to say I fully agree with everything in your post. I will be keeping an eye out for anything untoward and will let you all know if I see anything.

And let's try to recognize the really clueless and frightened people who show up here, and not treat them as we do shameless trolls. Some of these folks are truly terribly scared and we may be able to help relieve the fear, just by stepping through "explanation number 345" for the upteenth time.

Can some spook please put this on Admiral Thad Allen's desk please.

I have watched the methane gas explosions under the sea. I saw, what appeared to be a shark, blown up in a spew of exploding gas coming from

Admiral Thad Allen's terse statement about a seep at a "distance from the wellhead" with no other info was always going to cause a certain amount of panic. I'm, not sure he understood that at all. This needs clarified fast.

There's some water in there, too. And animals.

I've not ever seen a big subsea oil leak, but the seeps I have seen (not here) have been streams of bubbles & globules rising rather quickly and uniformly towards the surface. All the images I have noted from these ROV feeds lack bubbles (or, given the pressure & temperature) clathrate snowstorms (an occassional white particle but not many.) And the stuff that does 'erupt' does not accelerate towards the surface but tends to swirl and dissipate, as mud or silt would.

You can easily find some video of offshore seeps by searching Google Video.

There's some footage of oil seeps off the California coast in that video.
I'd turn the audio down, the folks that produced that have an agenda of drilling
off the Cali coast to 'save' the 'Billions of dollars of lost oil'.
Hmm $2,000,000,000 at, say $100 a bbl, that's 20 million bbl of oil a year, off
the coast of California, don't think so. Perhaps globally, but how much of that
is really economically producible?

Anyway, video of oil seeps are readily found if you want to get a reference for
what they look like underwater.

Moonbeam, I think you wasted some tears. Its a bit deep for sharks - besides virtually nothing to eat in the area.

Wow. Talk about dynamiting the pond.

This will have them jumping into the boat with you.


I have several questions for the experts here.

Previous discussion here at TOD after topkill questioned the casing below the 28” casing (run from the mudline to 1,150 feet down) and perhaps below the 22” casing (from the mudline 2,870 feet down). With the 36", 28" and 22" casings running down nested inside of each other and cemented together (not the cement jobs that were questioned), the logic of the possibly weakened or failed casing being below the 22" casing was in favor at the time. Note that I am using the term "below" and not "at."

If this is still the likely situation, would a leak in the casing of the well at its current closed-in pressure: (1) merely manifest itself in a seep and not something much larger? (2) Could such a leak get to the mudline this fast (three days)? (3) If a leak is in the 28" AND the 36" casing (as beefy as they are) so as to be in the mud itself (down about 1,000 ft. I understand), wouldn't such a leak be fairly major and come up close to the wellhead?

If casing-failure leak is deeper, again, has there been enough time for HC to get to the mudline?

If I followed Rockman's "cracked egg" analogy correctly (see http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6721#comment-675008), seems like a leak from a casing failure would be abrupt (I guess unless it had already failed in the original blowout), much larger, more evident and also show a significant pressure loss (<6,000 psi), perhaps far below the currently reported pressure that was not only holding but slowly rising last I read.

As a layman not knowing any better, it sounds like the casing is pretty good unless there has been an unreported presure drop when Rock's egg cracked.

At these pressures, seems a leak due to a casing failure would be an eruption and not a seep. No, not a mere silt storm from ROV thrusters but something unmistakable, on-going and kind'a large.

I want to think that small seep could be something unrelated to a casing failure or even a natural seep.

Edited by author for typos and clarity.

bb - A csg failure could be abrupt and permanent. But there can be smaller leaks which are pressure sensitive. In the shallow section of the well the cmt at the csg shoes are the weakest links. When we do a "shoe test" we pressure up on the cmt until it begins to leak (an LOT: leak off test). Then we back off the pressure and the shoe remains intact. So in a sense the cmt shoe can act like a valve that will leak/close subject to the pressure. How much it leaks will be pressure dependent to some extent also. Given the pressure surge when the well blew out originally it wouldn't surprise me if some of the shallow csg shoes were damaged/weakened.

So could we have seepage near the well bore from leaking shallow csg shoes? Seems quite possible. Easy to imagine some oil/NG rising up alongside outside of the csg. If that's what happening it can't be a large volume otherwise there wouldn't be a debate about what folks were seeing. If thousands of bbls/day of oil were leaking this way I don't think there would be a debate. The prospect of such a secondary leak doesn't concern me greatly. The source of the seepage would still be the flow up the csg. Kill the well and no more seepage (once it depletes) IMHO. I know some folks have postulated that this seepage could be coming thru the rocks form the reservoir 13,000' below the sea floor. Not really possible IMHO. There are hundreds of sealing layers between the reservoir and the sea floor. That's the reason the accumulation is there in the first place. The only rare exception would be if a fault cutting the reservoir extended all the way to the sea floor. Those are actually common in the GOM and are probably the source of many natural seeps. But such connectivity would have had to be suddenly developed by the blow out and I've seen nothing to indicate the possibility.

For the moment I see little value in debating the source of any seeps near the well bore. Natural seeps will continue as they always have. A blow out induced seep will stop when they kill the well. Regardless of the source of any such seeps the volume appears to be completely insignificant compared to the damage already done IMHO.

The concern would be whether this small leak could jeopardize the integrity of "something" if allowed to continue by keeping the well shut in. Several people here have said its "obvious" the well should be opened up if this "seep" is from the well. From what I read from your posts, it does not seem that obvious. You do not seem to believe that such a leak could create a catastrophic situation if left to continue. Is that the case? I think we all would prefer to leave the well shut in if catastrophe was not a possibility.

Has there been an update on pressure?


Sadly no, but if we follow the pace it has been rising for the last three days we can assume it is somewhere in the 6,800+ range. Which is looking somewhat good because despite the number falling short, it is still rising which shows that the well may be doing okay. Though word has it that some seepage has been found and they are currently discussing what to do with the well, but for the time being it looks like the cap is staying on until BP can find a reason why they should remove it.

@ esarlls3

Thanks for posting the BOP info. That took some work. Reposting here might be nice idea. There is a lot of good info there.

One thing I wanted to point out. Reading that history gives the impression that the BOP has not been treated like you might expect a last-ditch safeguard against total catastrophy would be.

For example, the BOP on DWH could have been fitted with two blind shears. Instead of modifying it to deliver more safety, though, BP modified it to save money, the expense of testing. I bet they regret that decision in hindsight, no? A second shear ram might have made a difference here.

BP could have also upgraded to a dual ram shear before starting Macondo, or at any other time. It was not a priority. But "industry" seemed to recognize the risk, and lots of DW wells have dual ram shears.

From your post:

2001: TO buys DWH with the single-BSR BOP. At this time TO was using dual-BSR BOP's for new rigs. DWH does not have room for the new dual-BSR BOP's. The DWH BOP can be modified to provide dual BSR's but at the loss of other functions.
2001: A MMS Study recommends dual-BSR BOP's.

Now: TO has dual-BSR BOP's on 11 of 14 rigs. Only DWH and older rigs did not have dual-BSR BOP's.
Now: All rigs contracted to BP, except DWH, have dual-BSR BOP's.
Now: About 2/3 of rigs in use in the Gulf of Mexico only have one BSR.

Thanks. I had just finished my review of that article for the afternoon thread and the posting was lost going to the evening thread so I had to do it again :). If the current urgency settles down I may post it again later today.

Your original statement that started my search was:

syncro on July 18, 2010 - 2:29pm
The significant fact here is that BP was willing make the BOP "less safe" to save a few bucks. 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 already weak BOP with this modification.

With over 70% of TO rigs having dual-BSR's and all BP projects except DWH having dual-BSR's, they are ahead of the GoM which still only has dual-BSR's on 33% of rigs.

Do you have a source indicating "most DW rigs by 2004 had two"?

Note that when the 2001 MMS study recommends dual BSR's, MMS decides to require one BSR. Before 2001, a single BSR was not even required. And when BSR testing (actually cutting a pipe) becomes "required", the requirement is not asked for or checked in drilling permits.

Neither TO or BP demanded dual BSR's on the DWH BOP. It was not specified exactly which functions would have to be removed in order to add another BSR. Could this have been added instead of the test ram? If so, that would seem a clear trade-off by both TO and BP.

It may be adding the test ram instead of a third spare VBR had nothing to do with a BSR. This could be simply a trade-off between reduced downtime if there is a failed VBR test against lower costs when doing well tests to get production data from the exploratory well. A time & money gamble but not impacting safety.

With all the downtime this BOP was requiring for maintenance 'almost daily', maybe it was time to retire the BOP and replace it. Maybe TO planned to do just that after finishing MC252. Note that a replacement may have required structural changes to the deck to accomodate a different size/shape BOP. This would mean downtime and loss of income from DWH for a while. TO may have been waiting for a client to demand BOP changes so they could charge the client for the costs.

This is just as speculative as the "BP cut corners on safety to save money" theme. It's easy to speculate on motives without evidence or testimony to support or refute the speculation.


Amazing. I do NOT think that the Thad's "seep" is newly discovered. It's been my contention and belief for months now that BP (and the Govt.) have known since at least June 5th that there is a vent "some distance" from the well site.

That capping the well was a "test" should, thus, be no surprise. Nor should Adm. Allen maintaining that the test would end and "production" resume -- because he knew that there was a leak and it was only a question of how much (more) it would flow if the well was capped. I think Thad, by publicly declaring that a seep has been "detected" (note: he didn't say when it was detected) is calling BP's bluff (or gamble) that shutting the well head will make everything OK, politically, until the relief well(s) execute a successful bottom kill. BP is/was betting that the government has enough reasons to keep existence of said seep from public view.

How far away is Thad's seep? Dunno, but I'll bet that the one that truly matters is about 1.8 miles SSW of the Macondo 252-A site, at a depth of approximately 5770 feet. Because that's where ROV boats like Viking Poseidon and Ocean Intervention were going in early June.

So they named it "Thad's Seep"? If it's almost two miles from the well, then it's likely to be a natural seep, I suppose.

twas I who dubbed it "Thad's Seep". I kinda hope it sticks.

Yes, the seep may originally have been natural. It's flow may have been augmented by flow escaping from the (presumed) compromised well bore. Or not. We have not been informed of the location, or flow rate of Thad's Seep - only that it exists.

I stick by Albert Einstein. Trust your gut.

Yeah, but... I think I'll go with Cheryl. I'll trust my gut on electronics and English and politics and other stuff I actually know about. Even PO and energy issues on a macro level.

On deepwater E&P, I have to take baby steps. I pay a lot of attention to the gut feelings of the oilpatch folks, though.

Right now, I want to know what fdoleza wants to know: Where is the seep and how was it discovered (and when, and characterize it, please)?

It is just there like THOUSANDS of other ones!!!!!

While, you took some abuse yesterday, some of the more rational thinking readers of TOD appreciate your patience and concise explanations of some of the more arcane methodology of DW GoM drilling, and Rockman, Sheldon, et. al., too.

I guess time will tell, but Alan(a Dougr disciple???) posted a few good links yesterday. One of them:

A Multidisciplinary Sea-floor Observatory in the Northern Gulf of Mexico:
Results of Preliminary Studies

So, I wouldn't get my panties in a bunch until more data is released.

EDIT: Should read "get my drawers in a bunch".

This was posted Yesterday by oil geologist Chris Landau

And this has been reported everywhere but the good ol American MSM
[I live in Holland and we even heard about it..but apparently not CNN]

I have highlighted [bold faced] what I feel to be the most relevant intel..

US Navy evacuates 46 ships from Gulf region to Costa Rica

Russian foreign military intelligence directorate (GRU) sources are reporting in the Kremlin today that NATO has ordered over 7,000 US Marines to begin deploying in the Central American Nation of Costa Rica [map 2nd photo left] over fears the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is about to rupture the fracture zone lying between the North American and Caribbean Plates and potentially unleashing upon the America’s a catastrophic earthquake.

As we had previously reported on in our July 4th report titled “NATO Orders All “Critical Assets” Moved 100 Miles Inland From Gulf Oil Spill Region”, NATO’s current Chairman of the Military Committee Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola has taken defacto control over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster from President Obama who continues to this day leaving this unprecedented catastrophe in the hands of his intelligence services and BP.

Admiral Di Paola’s fears, this report continues, lies in the massive amount of...oil and methane gases being released from the Gulf of Mexico which many experts are warning could destabilize an already weakened earthquake zone...

...Admiral Di Paola’s decision to move these 7,000 US Marines...... to Costa Rica, this report continues, is based upon his need to have “viable forces” positioned on either side of the North American and Caribbean Plate Zones should disaster strike.

Under pressure from NATO, Costa Rica this week granted the US military a six-month window to bring the 7,000 Marines, five planes and 46 warships into its territory by a vote of 31-8 vote by its Legislative Assembly with some lawmakers warning that their Nation was giving up its sovereignty.

And in what could possibly be one of the greatest ironies of all time, (and we’re not making this up, check the links) the American government is saying that its rapid movement of these 7,000 US Marines to Costa Rica is to help this Central American Nation “fight drugs”, while at the exact same time it not only refuses to protect its own drug infested border with Mexico, it has actually sued one of its own States for trying to protect it themselves.

Aw, now, this is within my own field of expertise. It may or may not be true about the troop movements, I wouldn't know. But if they're moving, it isn't because of some earthquake theory like this! The New Madrid Rift is due to let go, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens at any moment, but that also has nothing to do with the oilfield. You think this oil reservoir is deep? It's a surface scratch compared to the depths where plate boundaries operate. I promise you, there is no possible connection. Find a way to pump all the water out of the GOM, and then maybe you can influence the plates!

Edit: Not trying to be disrespectful in any way. It's just that, if the USGS was bouncing an idea like this around, I would have been let in on it. Not to mention the seismic teams that would be at work down there.

(CNN) -- Testing continues and scientists are evaluating the results to decide whether to resume collecting oil from BP's ruptured deepwater well, the company said Monday.

BP's statement came hours after Thad Allen, the federal government's oil spill response director, said that testing had revealed a "detected seep a distance from the well." He ordered the company to quickly notify the government if other leaks were found.

"When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours," Allen said in a letter to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley released late Sunday.

BP's statement Monday did not mention the leak, but said the company was carrying out extensive monitoring activities around the well site. Allen's did not provide further details about where the leak was spotted or how big it is.

Well it still IS my area of expertise..and since when has such a massive deployment of US forces to the waters and lands of sovereign nations to conduct military operations..not exercises mind you but OPS, without the consent or at least a debate in Congress? Military exercises involving other nations or powers are usually planned and announced in advance so that no one thinks we are pulling a surprise invasion. If you have the expertise you claim, you surely must know that. Yes?
So doesn;t this unannounced, unplanned and suspiciously-timed deployment of 46 ships and 7,000 active Marines [and their support personnel] strike you as ..at the very least...ad hoc?

I risk losing my clearance just being on this site and commenting...and for tyhe last 3 months ..ever since Doug R posted his doomsday scenario I have been checking in to see what the supposed experts and engineers and geologists have been saying and reposting here..including the diagrams.
i believe one of my posts was edited out because there was too much science involved about the origins of oil, and the porosity of the rock, combined with other experts who strongly believe this " spill" is being intentionally mismanaged..or was until Admiral Allen tried regrowing his balls..these laast 24 hours.

Has it occurred to anyone here that Doug R was not entirely wrong?

I assure you, from where I am sitting it certainly appears that Chris Landau's assessment is being proved correct.
Admiral Allen agrees..or he wouldn;t be demanding the straight truth from BP about seepage, flow rates..nor would he be so anxious to re-open the well cap [relieving the back pressure] and stick with containment...until the RW's are ready
in August.

Personally, I wish the spirit of the Cold war and it's long-term but ridiculous prejudices against Russin science would go away here on TOD. Science is science..you can prove it in a lab and have results peer-reviewed..you can duplicate results and it doesn't matter what the " ism" or the language of the researchers..it's all about the numbers which are universal.
We are currently using Russian technology to keep us in space..and they remain the largest oil and gas exporters
having pioneered their own technology and their own petro-science which..BTW holds that oil is not from dinosaurs and plankton but is abiotic [abiogenic], preoduced by natural forces inside the earth.

I know of at least two major think tanks in the US..both " conservative" in stripe that have known, discussed, assessed and AGREED with this conclusion since ..to my personal knowledge..the early 80's.
That TOD does not endorse this view is one of the reasons that I read a lot of commentary here with extreme scepticism.

If you don't really know what or where the oil is being produced from, understand the natural process and the geologic composition of the strata under the Gulf...how in the world are you going to contain the " leak"?

You want to know why the pressure test is failing, and the Admiral is looking for leaks and seepage?

The expected pressure..for a " successful" test was supposed to be between 8 and 9,000 psi , attained within 12 to 24 hours of the well cap being in " shut in" mode..it is now more than 72 hours and the pressure hasn't reached 7,000 psi.

That means there are only three options or possible explanations for what we are seeing.
1. BP was wrong about how much oil was in originally in the the reservoir to be pumped...[dpubtful..they rarely if ever UNDERestimate the oil to be tapped and pumped

2. BP vastly understated the flow rate for the last 3 months..so a lot more oil/methane has escaped than they want to admit...but still, the reservoir is not as full as it should be according to BP's numbers and thus..the 9,000 psi is no longer reachable

3. Doug R and Chris Landau..and the Russians are right...there is a massive seepage taking place..the oil is rising thru the porous rock..slowly..and just about the time the RW is ready it will be too late..Mother Nature will have
found her own way to achieve "equiliibrium".

Now, you can argue and rant and flame if you wish..but it won't make August 10th go away...that is the day that my sources tell me the true magnitude of this spill and its consequences will be apparent to everyone..even BP

I hope they are wrong..I hope you are right..but again..a sudden order to move an entire battle command from home base [which costs a LOT more money than keeping them docked at home port] to the other side of the Gulf means I am not the only one monitoring events from inside that think this situation is about to go sideways and soon.

If I were a religious man, I would be saying fervent prayers for anyone in the GOM about now.

1. BP was wrong about how much oil was in originally in the the reservoir to be pumped...[dpubtful..they rarely if ever UNDERestimate the oil to be tapped and pumped

Surely the pressure would be lower than expected if BP OVERestimated? How often do they do this?

Not that I necessarily disagree with what you're saying if you have access to inside info. Is there any way we can know whether to trust your prediction prior to August 10th?

Doug R and Chris Landau..and the Russians are right

What's your motivation, I mean for trying to scare people? Why do you want vulnerable people to believe "Russian" agitprop, a creep who believes oil is inorganic, and a guy who lifted a post from godlike productions instead of people with true expertise and experience who aren't connected to BP?

Check back in August 11, okay?

Mensa FYI
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962)

This kind of foolishness belongs at sites like godlike productions and prison planet. Not here.

Off topic, but have you seen any of the work on the re-activation of the Rome Trough aulacogen? Neat stuff.


Please identify source of that text. Sounds absurd, NATO has no "critical assets" or personnel anywhere in the US. At least not that I know of.

Well, they have the American military. ;^)

If Italian commanders have taken over from Obama and the US service chiefs, the right wing is gonna be way more upset about that attack on our national sovereignty than about any little cataclysmic realignment of the tectonic plates. They've known for a long time that the bar codes on the backs of the road signs are instructions for the one-world-government invaders.

Personally, I hope they use their time in charge to redesign the uniforms. Italians do really impressive military uniforms.

And the food! Our guys are seriously going to love it when Tuscan chefs take over the mess halls and the base Burger King is replaced by an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria.

I think the overwhelming majority of readers here would be extremely surprised to realize just how many treaties and agreements we have made concerning our military and other sovereign, allied and non-allied States, stretching way back to the balance of forces strategy and the hemispheric, and regional policies of the Cold War until now...Have you read the protocols of the OAS, let alone the NATO protocols..how many assets must be committed to mutual security and defense in a certain readiness posture in a certain area of operations...
Let me ask you this..everyone has an argument to make about troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and most would rather the troops not have to be there...lives, money..yada yada...it's a mess and it's costing us ...How many votes would any party get by whipping up reasons to send still MORE troops to fight a drug war in the jungles of Costa Rica?
You think the citizens are up for that?
And why..if the situation in one of the 5 " happiest nations on earth" according to the recent UN survey,is SO Bad that it threatens our national security[!]. has there not been extensive coverage and a national debate?
They have suicide bombers and shoot outs every day in Mexico and it is raging across our borders...do you see Obama calling in the Marines?

And get this..the US invited it's military there by invoking a protocol of the Joint Patrol Agreement...and one should really read those protocols to get a sense of what the US has strong-armed weaker governments into agreeing to...
including ceding their sovereignty [or else!] to US forces in times of declared crisis.

Back to the main point of the question..The US retains command of its own forces, even in joint missions ..even when the Commanding Generals of the Theater or Joint Op are actually from other NATO countries. And the POTUS as CIC has to approve and order such a deployment..if not with the advice and consent of Congress,then by executive order [it's called fiat government].

Since this event was classified almost immediately as a national security issue,you can forget the advice and consent of an open and informed Congress...instead you have a few select, security-vetted Senators and Senior Congressmen who are getting a very elemental, very [deliberately] scary briefing, and asked to say yes and shut up.
Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo is the current Chairman, Military Committee of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)and leads the meetings of Chiefs of Defense. The Military Committee is the highest forum of NATO that meets regularly to discuss various strategic issues concerning to the Organization. That the Russians have a special thing for the Admiral and are tweaking this story more for local consumption that international publication is very possible..but see..the Admiral was just having lunch with the Russians in Brussels back in May, when this oil spill was big news..

"Brussels (AFP) May 6, 2010 - Russia is considering cooperating with NATO on anti-missile defence systems and other areas, the transatlantic alliance's top military officer, Italian admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, said Thursday. "Missile defence has ... been named by General (Nikolai) Makarov, as an area in which we could look," said Di Paolo, referring to his Russian counterpart, following two days of talks. "But we have not gone in any specific discussion" he added, stressing that future progress "also depends on what will be developed on the political side." The 28 allied chiefs of staff agreed, during talks with Makarov in Brussels, on a joint "working plan for 2010"

Being members of NATO means we have designated assets that could be called upon by NATO in the common defense, and if we suddenly change their status we have to notify somebody in Brussels..and that has to be co-ordinated with them.
That goes the other way around..if someone in NATO, seeing the situation, monitoring the intel and running the Doug R scenarios becomes alarmed at the real possibility that it all might play out that way..they would immediately notify their ally..Us..that it is prudent and necessary to get these designated assets out of harm's way..failing that they send us a friendly reminder that we have this treaty and in the protocol it says that there are obligations under the treaty and in certain cases of imminent threat..or even if not.[!] the NATO Commander of Fleet Atlantic requesting that you get these assets out of harms way [pick an excuse..but get them moved...please..]...shall not be ignored.

Does that clear it up for you?

Now whether this actually happened...or the Russian journalists are just yanking our chain because they know what a pickle we are in...or just out of habit..or bad intel[and it could be all three]..or just for fun...the fact is that without any public debate we have just comitted a total of almost 10,000 military and support personnel to fight a war on drugs in Costa Rica that, unlike every other drug war the US has ever fought, will only involve 47 ships, the Navy and Marines... and only last until Dec 31st.

Think about it.

And this has been reported everywhere but the good ol American MSM

The U.S. MSM doesn't tend to report wild scare stories emanating from Russia. It's on all the doomer/survivalist/conspiracy Web sites and blogs, though.

Here's the July 6 Knight Ridder story on Military.com about troops and ships leaving the Gulf for Costa Rica:


Some in Costa Rica are not happy about it, fearing that U.S. involvement in fighting the drug trade could threaten their country's sovereignty. Lots of discussion about that on more reputable Web sites and blogs.

Landau's an abiotic oil guy with wacky ideas who has found an audience.


BTW, both the original BOP and new capping stack have panels with analog pressure meters which, when rarely shown, are pegged at needle position indicative of 6-7 ksi pressure on a 10 ksi scale.

BP has repeatedly said that they are measuring local hydraulics, but that doesn't seem to be true

"BP has repeatedly said that they are measuring local hydraulics, but that doesn't seem to be true"

At that pressure? I wouldn't think so. Caterpillar's biggest tracked dozers use 3500 psi hydraulics. What's usual in this sort of equipment, oilpatch people?

Hi Dimitry,

Did these initially read '0' or '2250' PSI ?
This would answer the question of whether the 6700 is
an absolute or 'a relative to ambient water pressure'

FWIW, I, like you, consider PSIG to be a device with a bleed port on the back of the diaphram to allow it to equalize to ambient air pressures ( tire gage, etc. ) There do exist, sealed 'PSIG' transducers with a 14.7 psi internal pressure. These then do show a constant 14.7 PSI offeset to Absolute as some have stated.
( they would show a negative pressure in Denver )

So, there are 4 flavours of pressure :

Absolute : Zero is referenced to a vacuum

Gauge : Zero referenced to the current 'environment' pressure

Gauge : Zero referenced to precisely 14.7 PSI

Differential : dual port devices were Zero equates to equal pressure on both ports..

If, as previously mentioned, there are thousands of seeps (size unspecified) in the natural Gulf of Mexico, adding up to hundreds of thousands of barrels a year, and if they'd tend to be near reservoirs of oil, then why get all upset about the existence of a seep near the Macondo?

Geez, people, get a grip.


That's a good question. Obviously the people running the show have concerns about it, or it would not be a factor.

People only know that there is a confirmed seep, somewhere, that is of concern. What we don't know is where, how much or why.

That lack of information increases people's fears.

Bubbles from seabed being observed by the Q4000 ROV1


Apparently no one remembers where the Cantarell Field got its name. But of course this is the same crowd that believes all the oil on Santa Barbara's beaches decades BEFORE there was an oil industry there was somehow caused by the oil industry. Not that oil companies like to find seeps and then figure out where they come from because that's a likely spot to discover big oil fields. Nawp, they'd rather use divining rods and such.

Thanks widely read.
Wiki has the story, along these lines....

"The first field was discovered in 1976 by Rudesindo Cantarell. Sr. Cantarell was not a geologist, nor a geophysicist, but rather a fisherman. It seems that the natural oil seeps were playing havoc with his nets. PEMEX, the national oil company of Mexico, finally investigated it and the rest, as they say, is history. Cantarell Field, as it turns out, is a real freak of geology. The porosity - or holes in the rock where the oil is located - is believed to be the result of a rubble pile from an asteroid strike which took place some 65 million years ago..........."

"Upset" would be, at least, premature, but concern seems appropriate.

We have a wild well which has long been suspected of having loss of integrity, it has recently been effectively shut in and has not demonstrated the expected pressure at the wellhead. If it is flowing, somewhere, that flow might cause additional damage to the casing, or fractures in the reservoir rock or elsewhere, which just might make it harder to kill the well.

Why wouldn't you be concerned?

Many of the people who already knew, or took the time to learn that that so many of the previous doom stories were BS have taken on a superior attitude toward those who have remained ignorant and terrified, along with those who promote fear.

I think that especially those who have little technical knowledge, will find it hard to move from their position now. What began as a campaign against ignorance & fear mongering can easily turn into a fixed position of "everything is going to be fine". Just as fixed as those waiting for a tsunami.

"...have taken on a superior attitude toward those who have remained ignorant and terrified, along with those who promote fear."

Yes. Remember, though, that it's sometimes hard to tell whether a new poster is a sh*t-disturbing troll or genuinely confused and frightened. And there have been so many tsunami/volcano/ruptured seabed fantasies. It's easy to get grumpy and short-tempered.

"What began as a campaign against ignorance & fear mongering can easily turn into a fixed position of 'everything is going to be fine'. Just as fixed as those waiting for a tsunami."

You're right. Clinging to conclusions when the data changes is as unscientific as promoting science fiction stories with religious fervor.

The data may be changing.

Clinging to conclusions when the data changes is as unscientific as promoting science fiction stories with religious fervor... The data may be changing.

That's a sensible approach, kalliergo, and I entirely agree. One problem though is that it depends upon the integrity of the data. Who knows whether we have been told the truth by the all the different parties in this scenario? Matt Simmons, for example, has been sceptical about the data / truth for a long time.

Yes, and if Matt turns out to be anything like right on this one, you're going to see lots of heads spinning like a scene from "The Exorcist." One of them will be mine.

I do understand your concern about data. I think it's quite clear that we are getting very fragmented and incomplete data, and I don't see any valid reason for that, although I recognize the corporate and bureaucratic tendency toward secrecy and control of information.

I don't see much indication, however, that we are being deliberately lied to or fed misinformation, and I don't think that would be a likely course for the government to take, or to allow BP to take. The magnitude of this disaster is so great, so many people are involved, so much political fighting and litigation is coming—there would be no way to keep things secret for long. And the political fallout when the deception was discovered could easily be enormous.

We just need to evaluate the data we do have using our best methods and judgment, and paying special attention to the experts here who can help guide us in the ways of the oilpatch.

And, of course, we need to keep digging up more data. It's really a civic responsibility. Helps keep 'em all honest. Well, as honest as possible. ;^)

Maybe when you're on the edge of a collapse of the current political order, the political fallout of a deception discovered might be seriously considered in the risk/benefit analysis.

Some here would also say the government is deceiving us about peak oil, and the unprecedented wealth transfers through the bank bailouts - perhaps they considered that a risk worth taking.

Here's a 20 minute interview with Matt Simmons on King World News a few days ago. What he says does sound unlikely to me, but maybe there is an element of truth to it, even if he's grossly exagerating - for his own financial purposes?

its comments like this that make me ask, whether by deception or by ignorance, has abiotic oil actually been disproved?

theres plenty of people who say its poppycock, but there are also plenty who say peak oil is poppycock...

so, the question stands, has abiotic oil been disproved?

i see so much intentional lying and truth wrangling, and so much ignorance on such a variety of subjects it makes me wonder. things long believed have been disproved later on a variety of topics. keep in mind the world isnt flat.
i have long believed what i have been told. oil is a fossil fuel. i also remember from school that climate constantly changes as far back as is measurable. there are people who dispute anthropogenic climate change.
so where is one to find a truth that is in fact truth?

eye -- Basic logic: nothing can be proved to not exist. You might not have looked in the right place. You can only prove the existence of something. But a more important point: let's assume abiotic oil exists. In fact, let's assume all the oil we've ever produced has an abiotic source. So what? We still have to find where it's accumulated. And that's what we've been doing for about 100 years. And remember even the most pro abiotic crowd doesn't offer that such an source is generating oil at a rate faster than biotic sources. From a practical stand point it really doesn't make any difference what the source is. I've been exploring for oil for 35 years and that question has never affected the process.

From a clear real versus psuedo-science point of view, abiotic oil has some serious problems however.

As Rockman says - it is hard to disprove - but it isn't impossible from a rigorous science point of view to do so. So long as the proponents play real science and not psuedo-science.

Abiotic oil is a clear hypothesis. They posit a particular mechanism for the world's current oil deposit's creation. The mainstream "biotic" theory posits another. So far so good.

The difference is in the individual theory's ability to make new testable hypotheses, and for them to be actually tested. The mainstream theory makes quite specific claims about where you can and can't find oil - especially the bit about where you can't, and also makes testable claims about the chemical composition of the oil. Oil isn't some simple mix of hydrocarbon chains. There is lots of stuff in there, and it tells a story. That story is subject to falseifiable hypotheses based upon the theory.

So, abiotic oil needs to make some testable claims - claims for instance about whether a particular area is capable of having an oil deposit present or not, and to do so with some useful accuracy. Biotic oil theory does this - knowing the geological history of an area you can predict that, if there was a source biomass, whether it would have endured the right set of temperatures and pressures to be converted into a useful oil deposit. There are lots of times when the biomass was not so lucky, and the conditions were not right. We tend to call the results "coal." (Actually, the abiotic people need to come up with a story for coal anyway.)

Another claim that abiotic oil needs to make is to come up with predictions about the chemical composition of various oil deposits. They need to provide a consistent theory about the chemical makeup found, and predict those compositions that can occur and those that can't and why. They then need to go to a new, undrilled, field and make useful predictions. They should also be able to make testable predictions about the ratios of possible components of oil.

If a theory continues to make testable hypotheses that fail when tested, we tend to eventualy abandon it. If it doesn't make testable hypotheses - it isn't science.

The difference between science and psuedo-science is that the science is usefully predictive. There is less information in the theory than in the observed reality across all the tests. Psuedo-science has this habit of constantly being modified to take into account each and every new finding that contradicts its previous predictions. So there is as much (and sometimes even more) information in the theory as in the observed reality. Junk science just dismisses the contradictory evidence and yells harder.

Have a look at the writing on aboitic oil and decide for yourself which catagory you think it fits into.

We may not be able to directly disprove abiotic oil, but we can certainly decide if it is science or not.


Seems to be a new observation though who can say for sure. Stuff near the well so difficult to say they missed it before. The liklihood of a new seep starting yesterday when none was present before makes a natural explanation difficult.

But we have no info besides that dumb letter - so I'm not going to be super concerned at this point.

MMy money is on this being a very cool bit of political jujitsu on Allen's part. Mention a previously known seep and BPs attempt to make the government's preferred containment seem the more scary one is undone.

Skandi 2 showed a leak at the new quick-disconnect joint (a few globules of oil escaping continuously), but it looked very small.

Hello all. Been following closely for months now on TOD. This is the best place to get the truth about what is going on. Please tell me how can there be a "small leak"?? We have seen the pressure that is emanating from the well. Where along the pipe is this small leak coming from?Or are we compromising below where casings have been poorly installed and are cracking under pressure. Please advise where is the leak that Admiral Allen is speaking of. I am not one of the doom and gloom people, but if the sea floor is being compromised I sure as hell want to get the Heck out of Miami!

Please advise where is the leak that Admiral Allen is speaking of.

What Allen has spoken of, so far, is not a leak but a seep (small discharge) from the ocean floor some unspecified distance from the well. They aren't sure what's seeping, and they aren't sure it has any connection to the well at this point. They're investigating. It doesn't seem to be a harbinger of doom, but they may decide to end the shut-in test of the well and start collecting the oil on the surface instead, just to be safe.

hi all,

regarding this comment from the closed thread:

"coordinates E 366645.92 N 3179555.64" looks pretty close to MC252A on the original drilling plan

could there be a problem with MC252A?

i'm not in the oil business, but i am curious about this.


The oil guys will have a real answer, but MC252A had been drilled to only about 4K ft when the hurricane shut it down. Doesn't seem likely that it had penetrated a pay zone. But, maybe. Oil guys?

There are only three surface well locations on this lease - the wild well and the two relief wells. The wild well got stuck and was sidetracked - down around 12,000' IIRC, but it was the same surface location. Typically OCS wells will be identified by the lease number and the well number once they are permitted for drilling, but will frequently only carry the lease and a letter name on preliminary planning documents like the Plan of Exploration. There may be some confusion if people are mixing and matching between documents.

Check your coordinates/math. I get it much, much closer to the BOP (<100ft away).

BTW. Most coords for this are quoted in feet, not meters. Its a lot easier to look up locations if you use feet for all coords.

What if all of this was just a Weapon Of Mass Distraction? I mean... you'll agree with me that it's proving quite effective in that respect! Building on people's fear...

The point of all this is that ANYTHING could be happening now, both real or fake, and you wouldn't know the difference, because of the lack of transparency and the way the US gov is responding to this emergency. Asking "please BP allow me to know what's going on there, if you can"... come on guys, it's just plain ridiculous.

If the gov wanted, the gulf would be filled with both military subs and research vessels since day one, and BP wouldn't dare to touch anything. But that's not happening, and IMHO this fact should ring a bell somewhere.

Let's play the conspiracy unrealistic game: as things are now, you could set off a low yield nuclear device in the middle of the gulf and say that it was the seafloor collapsing because of the oil seep... who would know the truth?

Or even better you could say "disaster is coming! let's evacuate everyone! let's put some states under martial law!", giving an internet streaming as evidence... which, for what we know, could be a videotaped oil seep from 10 years ago put in streaming.

These are crazy scenarios, but the underlying truth that I would like to stress is: without multiple independent sources of information, we are easily fooled.

There's an interesting investigation on the Washington Post published today after 2 years of work:
Top Secret America

It's a nice read, detailing the extent (and dangers) of government secrecy.

"...as things are now, you could set off a low yield nuclear device in the middle of the gulf and say that it was the seafloor collapsing because of the oil seep... who would know the truth?"

Hundreds of scientists at seismographic monitoring locations all around the globe would know, within minutes. The Cold War left us with lots of skill, experience and infrastructure for detecting, recording and characterizing things that shake, rattle and go boom underground.

So, if we are the victims of a nuke in the Gulf, we'll know about it, really fast. Probably not highly likely.

Anyway, you can track all the ships out there in real time, watch daily satellite updates from NASA/MODIS, logon to the same GIS site that the NIC is using for decision support, watch the ROV feeds, etc. We certainly aren't getting all the data we'd like, but we're hardly being kept in the dark, either.

The nuclear scenario was willingly far-fetched, and was clearly not my point...

What I urge people (and myself) to do, is to keep a critic eye on everything they see. This event could have profound consequences, and must be watched closely and from every direction.

Restricting press coverage, refusing international help, preventing access... this all goes in the opposite direction. It simply stinks.

Anything could be happening down there. Satellites can't give you an underwater panoramic view yet, nor the GPS location of all the boats in the gulf. I could set up another ROV feed tomorrow myself, with old footage and a different timestamp, and you wouldn't notice anything. It would just be a videotape playback.

To be honest, 1500mt underwater is the perfect theatre. One could even film things in advance. Nobody is gonna see anything, unless foreign bots and vessels are allowed to get close. Which are not.

By watching BP streams you are putting all of your trust in them. On a feed. From the company originating the problem. And you put all of this trust in BP on a situation of such an importance that it could have consequences for the entire planet.

The fact that the US gov is fine with this (and even cooperates in this direction) stinks as well.

PS: Sorry for my less than perfect english...

Yep, strong primary(P) and weak secondary(S) wave propagation in nuke blasts.

nuke seismic waves


EDIT: for clarity

Just for a laugh, picking one of the wildest doomsday scenario of this forum:

"You see, that gigantic methane bubble explosion produced exactly the same seismogram of a small nuke. It's a pity that no documented seismogram of such an unique event exists, but trust us, it's exactly like that of a nuke." :-)

teleseisms have been monitored to determine test ban compliance. I don't know if subsea methane explosions have been profiled, but here's a few different seismographs to compare. (I accompanied a student who was working on these on a few field excursions).


just a quick link found googling teleseisms geophysics:


other keywords for the geekier-inclined might include neural networks, etc...

Could be, you are right and you are wrong. There are things we do know and things we don't know. Some things are simply what they are and some things really may be conspiracies. That sums it all up rather nicely.

OTOH, we can't really decide/know for sure who was responsible for Kennedy. No doubt secret ops are secret. Who knows, you could be part of the en masse distraction. Or, maybe me and I don't even know it. That Orwell fellow wrote some useful stuff about this IIRC. Think I might prefer reading some James Joyce about now.

Sorry for straying so far OT...

You might be ok with the way things are being carried on, and think "secrecy is for my own good" / "its not my business" / "i will never know".

I'm just saying that there is an alternative for people that aren't as happy with this lack of data, worried that their own butt might be affected because of it.

And that is strongly demanding more transparency now. The right to protest and demand transparency is one of the few powers that a democratic regime gives you, and the number of people does count (IMHO).

Thank you for the link neves, this is excellent.

In the previous thread Dimetry wrote:

Few small comments.

1. Current situation is the direct result of inadequater test preparation, likely no formal test plan, no clearly stated test objective, no failure/success criteria and no pre-planned exit strategy. For those who believe that all that "formal stuff" has no real value, I strongly disagree. Formal test planning and a requirement for a defense of your test strategy before a strong peer review concentrates the mind and clears political fog. This was a clearly "off the cuff" effort by all involved.

Thread closure prevented my comment as follows:

Your #1. I have no problem with having formal test plans well thought out beforehand but sometimes it is necessary to do things on the fly as things are changing. In that event it is good to have those who can make the decisions on-line.

What I have a problem with in this case is why, having closed the well down, they thought they had time for ‘testing’ (whether planned or not) rather than going ahead immediately with a top kill procedure that would reduce the pressure at the wellhead and thereby REDUCE RISK immediately.

In my past a have solved engineering problems by having a group assess multiple causes and making simple, quickly applied, mods to prevent them whatever they were. The upshot was the problem went away without knowing the cause.

Sometimes you do not have the luxury of turning it into a research job. This may be one of those cases.

Earlier in that thread Rockman, in replying to AeroEngineer, wrote:

A top kill method is a very common way to get a shut in well under control. Been done 100's of times in the GOM on shut in wells. Those incidents never made headlines becuse no oil hit the water and no lives lost. But you've got to be 100% certain the BOP/well head/csg can handle to pressure. The injected mud has to push that 13,000' column of oil/NG all the way down and back into the reservoir. Obviously a gutsey call either way you roll.

And I wrote:

Rockman. I, of course, bow before you greater knowledge, undoubted wisdom and experience but tell me why, when injecting the mud the pressure at the well head needs to be any more than a few psi higher than it is right now.

See my yesterday exchange with fdoleza.

Once a few feet worth of head of it gets in, the pressure at the well head will start to reduce and a higher rate can then be introduced without exceeding the current wellhead pressure.

Rockman. I really would appreciate it if you could address this as I think it can impact what happens next.

Another thing I commented on yesterday was:

"Which makes we wonder why whoever is in charge of this operation just can't play it safe.

U.S. engineers, led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, yesterday told BP of “grave concerns” about drilling mud, and the company halted the process, White House energy and climate adviser Carol Browner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” broadcast.

“At the end of the day, the government tells BP what to do,” Browner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

My comment was:

See my upstream rant about doing a top kill with firstly mud and then cement asap and who is responsible if the wellhead suddenly bursts after unneccessary days at circa 6700psia pressure.

Does this mean that if a second blow out now happens the goverment are the ones responsible and they should fine themselves $x per barrel!

Also I do not appreciate being told of 'grave concerns' without these being spelt out. This is more of the same hiding of information that is not in the best interest of solving the problem. Maybe after a little light on these 'grave concerns' they will not appear as grave. In fact, whatever they are, maybe someone can come up with workarounds - as is the normal engineering procedure - as long as the 'someones' get to know what they are.

Maybe BP acceptance of the government position is not in the best interest of the GOM, ie it is not our responsibility anymore. Isn't that where we came in? Not those subcontractors responsibility on the Deepwater Horizon.

This is all taking to long without decisive action.

Now having gone to sleep with the thought that I have never heard anyone express 'grave concerns' in any engineering meeting I have ever attended, that is just not in the language, I awake with the thought that maybe these exalted government players are thinking the introduction of mud will result in increasing pressure and their 'grave concern' is as expressed previously about well integrity.

If so then it is the reverse of my current thinking (if and until one of you convinces me otherwise).

Introducing mud REDUCES the pressure at the wellhead.

It goes:




Interesting how hindsight works. If the integrity of the well is not damaged and if this current fix holds it looks like BP could have had this sealed in June but the government did not give them permission.

"The top kill failed and one proposed explanation at the time was that the well was damaged. That put a halt, for a while, to talk of putting another blowout preventer or other tight-sealing cap on the well, out of concern that a buildup of pressure could further damage the well.

But the idea was revived, and in June BP considered using the blowout preventer from the Development Driller II rig, which was working on the second relief well, for the job. The company halted drilling of the well, aiming to bring the blowout preventer to the surface. But the federal government intervened and ordered BP to continue drilling the well as a backup in case anything went wrong with the first relief well."


erd -- the key to understanding the pressure requirements is to remember they aren't just trying to pump down a pressured pipeline. The oil/NG in the csg has to be pushed back into the reservoir. The oil/NG in the csg has to be replaced by the kill pill and thus has to go somewhere. At the end of that csg is the reservoir. I'm sure you understand it's not a giant cavern but very tiny pores in a rock matrix. They could cause this injection by being just a 100 psi over what's needed but that could take a very long time to accomplish the task. The bigger problem is knowing what injection pressure is required. If the formation has been damaged by the excessive flow rates the injection pressure could be rather high.

But here's the real problem as I see it now: If they start a top kill they should see a pressure drop at some point when the oil/NG begins being pushed back down the well bore. That would be a good sign. But it would be impossible to tell where that oil/NG is being pushed to: back into the reservoir or out of a shallow busted csg shoe/section of csg. And that addresses to a degree your concern about well head pressure. The pressure has to rise when they begin to pump the top kill. But how high and how quickly do you pump? If you see the pressure began to fall that's good news if you assume the oil/NG is going where you want it. I'm guessing part of this testing phase was to try to answer this question.

I'm curious about the geological effect of lowering the reservoir pressure through depletion. It seems that by lowering the reservoir pressure, you are reducing support for the rock formations above. I would guess that this could cause a slow collapse, with any effect on the sea floor being possibly negligible due to the great depth of the reservoir, and the gradualness of the collapse, at ordinary rates of reservoir depletion. However, given the rapidity of the drawdown from the Macondo reservoir, and the resultant rapid drop in the reservoir pressure, it seems that we are in new territory. Have there been other wells that have discharged with such a high flowrate for so long? Could this exceptionally rapid drawdown cause a shift in the rock? Has this been studied?

Could this exceptionally rapid drawdown cause a shift in the rock? Has this been studied?

A post by HO, last year, might be a good place to start.

Hi all,
We have many posts from oil patch experts and from concerned individuals in regard to the physicals of the blow out and it's consequences. This particular post is an attempt to evoke responses from our legal experts.

It appears to me that our system of jurisprudence actively discourages the discovery of what actually took place.

Here at the TOD we are concerned to understand what went wrong and how to alleviate the consequences. Rockman in a recent post explained how the well was relieved of mud pressure when it should not have been, resulting directly in the blowout.

So I ask our legal experts, why, under our legal system this information is sub judice, whereas under the Napoleonic code it is simply a discovery process.

Look forward to your tutorials. cheers. juan.

Given the volume of comments I haven't been able to locate what I'm sure were good meaty discussions of what the pressure integrity test results may mean.

What I'm wondering is this: What leads one to believe that the lower than expected pressure, slowly rising, is more likely describe a depleted reservoir that is re-pressurizing rather than a well that is leaking into some other void which is slowly becoming pressurized?

Links to previous threads appreciated. Thanks.

Leak 50ft from well? I'm not sure how authoritative it is, but this is an interesting article:

I see this article is associated with this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RxIQP0IBU

Is there any dispute as to whether this shows, definitively, oil seeping from the seafloor?

IIRC, was this footage not taken from somewhere in the vicinity of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon?

A quick calc places it about 175 feet to the south east? of the well, but I could have got that wrong.

It may indeed be oil that we are seeing, but is the video of sea floor or part of the structure of the rig, or something else? I can't tell.

The oil, if that is what it is, doesn't appear to be coming out under pressure, but rather seems to be being disturbed by the thruster wash.

A natural seep? A seep from part of the DWH? Not sure.

It certainly looks like seepage of oil. The location is shown together with the date. Right now I am not in a position to convert coordinates into radials centered on the RW well. The date is shown as June 5. This predates the current flow shut down. The flow appears to be very low suggesting a natural seepage. Over to the experts. Good work Andrew. cheers juan.


Its roughly the same location as the wreckage of the DWH. If you look at this document it contains photos & UTM coords.

The video is at N10431634/E1202841, an ROV looking at DWH wreckage was at N10432186/E1203046

The distance between these two points is 588ft. Considering the size of the DWH I'm assuming the video is looking at DWH wreckage.

We do have to remember there are a large number of BP reps on this site. Matt, I am sorry that I didn't give your thoughts more consideration.

Was he the one making speculations of formation pressures of 100kpsi, and giant lakes of oil???

I'll listen to the geologists and petro engineers- not the financial consultants, thank you.

Regarding ID of the presence of a leak of methane or oil, I would expect to see in the case of oil either an inky or smoky-black line (depending on the rate at which it's being produced) not necesarily swept upwards, which you would need a background lit up by the ROVs to profile it, and in the case of methane, consistently upward-moving dots (movement would indicate buoyancy ), much subtler than the plankton or rocks flying about, except where they reflect the ROV lights. Larger quantities of methane would be more apparent and form a variety of bubble sizes. I would expect these from the science of flow & material type, but would anyone back me up?

-continued from my previous comment, methane bubbles would not move 'sideways' unless they were trapped under something. I think that allows alot of the 'circulating' objects seen in the ROV cameras to be eliminated as methane leaks.

I haven't checked the camers for a couple of days, but there was certainly a minor gas leak from one of the smashed up thin pipes - but it was put down as 'expected'.

FWIW the gas stream was clean and not oily.

I believe that gas leak was from one of the lines that vented the shallow casing annuli, and best guesses were that it was nitrogen that had been emitted and trapped as the cement cured months ago. They tried to capture a sample, but I haven't seen if they succeeded or what it turned out to be.

They got the sample to the surface last night. Looked as if they might have dropped it though as they left the ROV camera on as it was removed from the BOP's claw. Just as it seemed to drop the feed cut to colour bars instantly.

-(continued again) only problem I see with looking for a consistent upward movement is that the currents can make objects in the distance look like they're going upwards, but I think if you can see something at such a distance you'd expect a large bubble size which should be accompanied by a number of smaller ones in a continuous stream.

1. Source leaks information on seep.
2. Several hours later Thad Allen sends letter (I am sure it was after talking to BP to say the same things)
3. A couple of hours after letter is posted there is an 8 PM technical meeting and call.
4. Withing a few hours Thad Allen says he is satisfied and test can now go on anther 24 hours.
5. I wonder if some Nervous Nellie (pol I would guess) has Allen's ear and gets him to really react quickly to show gov is in charge; resulting in writing letters. Perhaps data shows it is a big problem yet, if he so quickly went on to approve another day.

It's obvious the NWO won't have the FEMA death camps ready till August 10 and they ordered Allen to button it. Isn't it?

New Thad Allen statement. Seems much more reasonable today.


DATE: July 19, 2010 05:41:20 CST

Statement by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen:

"Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations.

Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team.

I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed."

Some kind of screwup. Thad had to know that his letter saying there's a seep would set the internet aflame, a virtual version od Matt Simmons visions. Yet he does it, apparently on crappy data that didn't pan out over a few hours even. He needs to be more careful.

Unless it can be positively shown otherwise, I continue to believe that Admiral Allen and Secretary Chu's science team have no independent access to or means of gathering data. They are entirely dependent on what BP chooses to show them, with the possible exception of "postage stamp" seismic surveys, which I doubt show much at all.

There are a couple questions that I forwarded to friends in the press corps, hoping they could ask Unified Command and get some answers. Did Deepwater Horizon re-enter the Marianas well? Where precisely is all of the DWH wreckage? We have some ROV pictures of wreckage, but not nearly enough to account for the entire vessel and its lower marine section flotation/thruster chambers.

I am convinced that there was a gas cap in the main reservoir that blew up and burned DWH, and that much if not all of that gas cap was produced during the first few weeks. Dissolved gas is a separate issue.

I am looking at Hos ROV 1. Perhaps this is one of the "undetermined anomalies at the well head" that the idiot Allen was talking about. That guy has a funny way of writing. He has a very unclear way of writing and speaking.

This screenshot taken at 7:59 EST

In case this does not embed correctly, the .jpg is located at

URL for Feed: http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in...

Looks like a small leak near the flex joint below the new BOP stack.

Interesting how small droplets of oil form a 'crude sickle' . . . probably that asphaltene stuff you guys educated me about.

Amazing that this stuff does not plug up undersea pipelines - or wells.

BTW: Sorry you guys took my "monkey f**kina a football" comment yesterday as racist - I suppose the racists are the folks who took it to be racist.

Yes small leaks are now being seen at the new cap. Doesn't seem to be a major concern yet anyway as they haven't stopped the test.

"I suppose the racists are the folks who took it to be racist."

I must have missed that one. Pity about the Monkey and Football analogy, I always liked that one. I wonder what other phrases Race™ Inc. will co-opt. Odd how you never hear the same bleating about certain song lyrics and public statements.

On the ROV film of small red clouds of substance from the seafloor, I thought the viscosity and opacity should have been greater if it were the same red oil shown in the videos of shoreworkers handling (it) with gloves.

That's the reason for chemical injection skids. They inject chemicals into the well for asphaltene.

2 things:

The letter quoted above is, IMHO, a strange and backhanded way of introducing shocking new information. "Given the current indications..." it's a letter written to people who already have knowledge of the seep whereas it is the first time we hear of it (not counting the anon source).

Second: the letter does not really address the key question: start up the flow again right away. That's why they record the seismic etc - to give them an alarm to start flow and take pressure off the well. I feel like I'm missing something important here. Is it because they trust the rising pressure and think the seep's natural?

Seems like tyere's a lot going on under the hood here.

Today's 7:30am call cancelled. No reason given. No re-schedule time given.

Before the issue of Thad’s Seep (© Levi) came to light, there was much discussion about how BP should flow as much oil as possible to allow the well’s flow to be established, this for the purpose of fining them the right number of billions of $$.

But the current production and flaring operations are routed via the choke and kill connections below the main blowout flow restriction, the partially closed rams of the old BOP. To me this means that a barrel produced to the Helix or burnt on the Q4000 does not represent a barrel of reduced flow to the environment. Obviously there will be a reduction in pressure and flow to the environment will be reduced, but it does not follow that 25 kbbl/day via the C & K should be added to whatever is coming out of the top of the stack to determine what the flow to environment was before BP started collection/flaring.

Additionally, as others have pointed out, from the first days of the blowout flowing via the crimped riser, then via the cut-off remnant of the riser, finally via the new BOP stack, the flow has been evolving. Once the crimped riser was gone, the main flow restriction became the partially closed BOP rams that have probably been eroded over the course of this blowout. So even if precise measurements of flow could be made now, the total outflow will be an estimated figure negotiated between BP and the administration.

All this to say that (subject to the reality/significance of Thad’s Seep) I am firmly in the “let sleeping dogs lie” camp. Restarting flow and risking upsets leading to potential hydraulic hammer damage to the well or safety issues on topsides vessels just so the pollution fine is more accurate seems irresponsible to me. In any case, whether BP pays a billion more or a billion less for the pollution liability, this cost will be far outweighed by the damages claims that they will have to settle.

It seems like these letters and statement are mostly political/PR posturing. And I think it is naive to think that Thad Allen is writing these letters, just because his name is at the bottom.

The situation in the past few days is that zero oil is has been spewing into the gulf. The general public obviously likes that and hopes no more oil is spilled. So BP issues statements suggesting they have found no negative issues, and they think the well could stay shut-in (hurray!). The government has made a specific point of saying clearly that the plan is to return to containment. Which view do you think the public likes most? The govt, losing the PR battle, needs to do something. If they decide to return to containment, they look like the bad guys. And since BP is saying they don't see an issue, the govt knows that they can't order the well opened without a good reason. So, they leak a story about a seep that may be unrelated and that *maybe* they have known about for some time -- sowing some seeds of doubt about well integrity. (By the way, if the seep is really a concern, shouldn't at least one ROV be monitoring it around the clock? and if the seep was recently found where there wasn't one before, wouldn't they start opening the choke line ASAP, just to cautious?)

While both parties want the leak killed and oil flow stopped, both have a HUGE amount at stake when it comes to their reputation and future. BP could fail as a company and the Democrats could lose the 2012 election as a result of what transpires in the days and weeks ahead. I don't subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories, but the battle for "hearts and minds" is very important here, and I think we have to always keep that in mind when we read statements by both sides.

And if the well integrity holds and clear, definitive evidence surfaces (may already exist and been put out there) that the Government told BP to stop the top kill operation months ago, then BP has a huge "out" for not having to pay for all those millions of barrels that spewed after that event started and the date the government told them to stop the top kill. I assure you they will fight all fines assessed after that date and would be in their rights to fight all "restitution" claims for the local gulf residents after that date, to which the responsibility would fall to the US government and ultimately, us taxpayers.

There seem to be plenty of people on TOD and elsewhere who are thinking more or less along the Simmon’s line, i.e. shutting in this well in front of the ROVs is just for show - the real leak is elsewhere.

The well has been shut in for 3 ½ days now – has this made any difference to the visible sea surface pollution pattern or is it too early? If it becomes clear from satellite images that no more new oil is arriving on the surface this should go a long way towards debunking the “the real leak’s elsewhere” sect.

What sites give periodic photos of the surface oil for comparison? Thanks.

Here is one of the better ones. http://www.cstars.miami.edu/Media/photo-gallery?func=viewcategory&catid=6

These are the raw images without any added editorial content.

I think it will take awhile before we start to see the difference on the sat images though, just because of the scale of things. Plus the fact that winds and currents are constantly moving visible slicks around from day to day, making it a little difficult to compare.

The real leak is elsewhere has been debunked. There is no more oil reaching the surface, and yesterday they started sending some of the skimmers away from the site, because the oil has moved away.

You can unpack now, there will be no need to evacuate the state of Florida due to giant methane explosions.

However, studies of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands shows it may be about to collapse, and it could cause a giant tsunami which will destroy New York City. Geologists are on their way to the site carrying a lot of sun tan lotion.

Funny how that "power loss as a square of the distance" thing works from point source radiators.

Good luck with your tsunami.

The tsunami comment was humor.

"There is no more oil reaching the surface [at the site]....."

That is very good news. Have they made any effort to publicise this fact? If not, then they should do as it quite clearly stomps on all the mouth-breathers shouting "they're lieing, the leak is elsewhere, this is just a staged show to hide the truth, etc, etc."

Local tv (WWL) flew over the site yesterday and CLAIMED there was progress being made on skimming the spill but their camera footage was not convincing one way or the other.

A small aside: re: the term "Thad's Seep". The term invokes an image of a medical condition that Thad should consult a doctor about immediately. Thad has done a good job in a tough situation IMHO and deseves a more fitting memorial. Or not...it is funny.

This must be the BP response that Thad Allen received that allowed him to conclude for BP to continue with the cap "test" this morning.

BP says Gulf oil seep may not be from its well
LONDON | Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:23am EDT

LONDON July 19 (Reuters) - Oil giant BP Plc (BP.L) said a seep detected in the Gulf of Mexico may not be related to its blown out Macondo well, which has caused the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Spokesman Robert Wine said on Monday that BP engineers were the source of information behind comments from the government's top official overseeing the spill response effort, Admiral Thad Allen, that a seep was detected "a distance from the well".

"The data is being reviewed by the government's technical team," Wine said.

Last week a cap was placed on the well, halting the flow of oil for the first time in three months.

If the data confirmed that Macondo was the source of the seep, the choke on the cap would be opened, and oil flowed to support vessels on the surface, Wine said. (Reporting by Tom Bergin; editing by Simon Jessop)

If these reports are true then the whole game is up. Man's insatiable greed is to blame, I have every sympathy for those souls who live and work around the Gulf coast. But we should never for a minute forget that BP et al are simply supplying demand. If this crisis teaches one thing then it should be that our collective experiment with oil has killed this wonderful world. We must downsize our economies, relocalize and re-engage our brains. Burning oil is bad. End of story. And we are ALL to blame.

Damn Sir Francis Drake and all who followed. Our world and lives would have been so much better had those guys never brought this oil stuff to the surface. Life was so much better a couple centuries back prior to greed and evil being introduced into societies around the would by the introduction of petroleum. We would be so much better having just continued to use wood and coal. Imagine how much happier we would all be too had someone not invented PC's, phones and the internet.