BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Should the Oil Flow Restart? - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6752.

At the end of last week, BP began the testing of the Deepwater well cap, closing all the valves and stopping the flow of oil and natural gas into the Gulf waters. With this cut-off in flow, the volumes to be collected at the surface are rapidly diminishing around the well, and the use, albeit controversial, of the dispersant at the same time as more of the oil was collected, means that the amount making it to the shore has also already diminished. So now the question becomes, does BP restart the collection process by re-opening valves to the surface vessels? It also opens the questions as to how much of the preventative work now being brought up to speed, is actually going to be needed.

The debate as to whether or not to re-open the well is illustrated by the comments by two of the main characters.

In his Sunday brief, Doug Suttles noted the success of the new cap, and the fact that there is no evidence of leakage from it. He had noted that the oil in the reservoir is hot, but by monitoring the temperature at the new cap, they had seen, over time, internal temperatures fall to those of the surrounding sea. This would indicate that hot oil is not still reaching the cap, and that fluid flow in the upper sections of the well has ceased.

At the same time the slow but steady increase in pressure within the well indicates that it has integrity, and is able to withstand the build-up in pressure as fluid accumulates around the well down at the level of the initial reservoir. Nevertheless, BP are continuing to monitor and run seismic surveys to make sure that there are no surprises.

On the other hand Admiral Allen sent a letter to BP on Sunday, that raises some new issues.

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.

It seems that those who argue that there are possible leaks from the well into the surrounding sediment have found at least one politically powerful ally.

The phrasing of the letter is, however, a little odd – the “the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head” section raise questions as to – what seep, at what distance? And what about “undetermined anomalies” if they aren’t determined are these the “unknown unknowns” we have been warned about in the past? And as comments have noted, there is the question of the legality of re-opening a well, and deliberately restarting to pollute the Gulf.

The press release that the Admiral also issued today expresses concern over the possibility of a sub-surface leak.

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

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

Do I detect the hidden hand of Dr Chu in that penultimate sentence? I notice that the option of cross-flow is not specifically mentioned as one of the alternatives, particularly near the reservoir, and I get the impression that it is only in the near surface that there is concern about leaks.

There is a second concern with the decision to re-open the well which makes this issue a bit of a hot potato. Whoever makes that decision, and BP seem to have made sure that it is the Admiral who must visibly make it, will be the individual that starts the oil flow back into the Gulf – and that won’t be popular.

Admiral Allen recognized that the flow would be restarted in his press release on Saturday

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

Kent Wells, in his brief the same day noted that

if we do decide at any point either during the remainder of the test or following the test, that we want to open the well back up initially we will have to blow it back into the Gulf for some period of time, relevantly short period of time to bring the pressure down on the well so that we can then go in to our collection systems namely the (Q port) valves and the Helix Producer.

While I am not totally sure of the reason for the longer term period of oil release, there have been rumors of a three-day period, there is a relatively simple explanation as to why the pressure in the well has to be released before flow can start back up the riser lines to the vessels on the surface. If the valves between the well and the risers are opened with the well at pressure, then that pressure is immediately transferred to the fluid in the line, and a hydraulic shock, similar to that known as “water hammer,” will propagate down the fluid line. Although water hammer is usually seen when a valve suddenly shuts in a pressure line, the same sort of effect can occur when a sudden pressure pulse is applied to the fluid in a line of pipe.

The most dramatic example of that which I have personally encountered was when we were first removing explosive from a casing using a high-pressure waterjet lance, and the flow channel blocked. The resulting bang initially caused us to think that the explosive had reacted. But the round was still there and it was only when we looked at the hose, which had split in several places, and had both end fittings fail, that we realized what had happened. Having a similar failure in a hose carrying oil from the seabed to the surface would create a much greater problem and one much more difficult to fix than ours, which was working in the same sort of pressure range as the fluid contained in the well.

But the pressure can be lowered relatively rapidly over the course of time (a matter of minutes not days, in the same way that the flow was cut-off to the Gulf) so there may be some other issues that are not yet being made public. After all, with the cap holding some intermediate pressure, it is not necessary to vent fluid into the Gulf, as flow is allowed to the surface collection vessels, in a condition that would lower the well pressure from the current levels without putting oil into the water.

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I have been a fan of TOD since reading The Long Emergency in 2005 (registered with TOD 3 years 27 weeks ago).
I think that Matt Simmons is probably correct in his assessment of the disaster in the gulf. http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=13070 (Listen to the interview!)
I also think that many of the new TOD “posters” are deliberately trying to downplay this event by quickly refuting, ingenuously questioning or ridiculing anyone trying to understand the truth of what is happening by posing as “drilling experts” or “having worked xx years in the oil industry” i.e. kalliergo, gmf, bbfellow, fdoleza, snakehead, deadman, esarlls3, hiver, porker, et. al (They all signed on to TOD exactly 7 weeks x days ago except bbfellow who signed on 6 weeks 2 days ago). Perhaps, BP is paying these shills? If BP is willing to pay university professors $250 per hour, how much are they willing to pay TOD “posters”?
The truth is: What if Matt Simmons is correct? What if we have been spending the last 90 days watching oil gush from a six-inch pipe while much more oil is spewing out 1-10 miles away?
Isn’t it (wouldn’t it have been) better to assume the worst case and act on that rather than downplaying the magnitude of what might be happening?

sandiego, I think that you are probably incorrect in your assessment that Matt Simmons is correct in his assessment. Apparently, you have missed the facts about this catastrophe in your assessment of the assessment.

Casing is cemented; liner might or might not be cemented.

At the formation, the liner is only 7" diameter,
and widens at a transition somewhere above.

Since the BOP had been actuated, it could pull
drill pipe and liner as a rig connected to the riser
drifts away, as long as the BOP can break away
from the monster casings.

It seems unlikely that the BOP is not at the well,
but it is possible that it is not.
It appears that whatever the BOP location, it must
be getting oil from a drill pipe and/or liner that
is partially within the well bore.

On another issue, what do folks make of the blasts of
what must be methane erupting next to the well ?

Is there any evidence that he's correct? He said, when the leak was from the riser pipe, that "the real leak of 120k bpd is at the wellhead".

Well, the BOP is at the wellhead and there isn't the leak he said there was.

He said the NOAA ship went over the well and discovered "there's no casing in the well!". The NOAA has not said any such thing. Is he saying BP built a well without casing? Or is he saying the entire casing "blew out" of the well and through the BOP? How is the BOP still standing then?
How did they put 200,000 pounds of new BOP on top of a BOP which isn't cemented down to the casing, because there "is no casing"?

His claims don't make sense. There isn't any evidence for them. NOAA looked for "underwater plumes" and found one massive one, going from the BOP to the surface of the ocean.
So where's the other one? The "real one"? It's all a conspiracy and the gov't is in on it?

Why would BP waste its time on a message board when the truth will come out eventually?

We should "act on" the possibility of the "real spill" coming out 10 miles away? OK, how? First we have to find this leak. No one has been able to. Maybe Matt Simmons can give the exact coordinates.

Satellites should have been able to detect a BOP launching out of the water and traveling six miles. Or 5 or 7 or 10 or whichever. But since the public has heard nothing about satellite data, it's proof of a coverup.

There's no end to this mole matrix. Why so many people want to believe this stuff is beyond me.

It's the logic of the conspiracy theorist. Make crazy, shifting claims and then claim coverup when they aren't "addressed".

It's up to the claimant to provide evidence. Big claims require big evidence.

Just a guess, really good drugs!! Just kidding of course........but I agree with your post.

Something else... Matt is claiming there is a HUGE lake of oil that is apparently denser than sea water, because his oil sinks and collects on the bottom. That would be very unusual oil.

(sarcasm flag: on)

Now, the FAKE leak at the fake well that BP is showing and that is covering 1/4 of the GOM us is a very light reddish color with lots of natural gas, and it floats readily to the surface.

This PROVES without a doubt that this is staged leak and that BP and the Government have been dumping tend of millions of gallons of this fake reddish colored "oil" to divert our attention to the REAL leak... A massive lake of black oil that sinks and is sitting relatively harmlessly at the bottom at some mysterious location.

Why doesn't Matt Simmons oil float? It must be from a different source than BP's well, because that oil clearly floats. Therefore BP isn't responsible for Matt Simmon's oil spill as the chemical composition is very different. Maybe Matt caused a huge oil leak himself and he is trying to blame it on BP?

(sarcasm flag: off) ;-)

Obviously, James, it's because it's abiotic oil and has mantle rock dust in it. Of course it sinks.

Obviously, James, it's because it's abiotic oil and has mantle rock dust in it. Of course it sinks.

So that is the reason the abiotic oil I have been patiently waiting for has not refilled the reservoirs of my tired stripper wells. Maybe it is in the bottom of the reservoir below all the salt water I am producing. Guess I need to do a squeeze job and perforate the bottom.

My dad has a stripper well in OK that's been making about 10bbl/day since the 70's. Proof of abiotic oil?

No, deadman, but it is proof of a very nice old stripper well. What it probably means is a low permeability reservoir that is slowly bleeding into the well but at a rate that is very small compared to the total reservoir size.

My family has some old wells been producing for a generation now. (Grandpa had 7 siblings, so no one's getting rich). A while back someone found out the oil co. had been fudging on real production and shafting the family share of royalties.

Wonder if anyone has tried this in the GoM? Who checks production, the MMS, and how easy would it be to fool them. Or bribe them. ?

Deadman: How much water is your dad's well making? What's the oil density? How deep is the well? Where is it completed? If you let me know, I'll tell you where it comes from.

Not being sarcastic, Simmons is right about the oil not making it to the surface (although not right about there being a black lake, if he said that, maybe he was trying to state it in terms that the average joe could understand?). Someone posted over a month ago a link to a report entitled: Deepwater Blowouts: Modelling for Oil Spill Contingency, Planning, Monitoring and Response. This report explained that because the natural gas forms hydrates (snowflake-like particles) with density similar to that of water, these particles attract droplets of oil and keep them deep down in the Gulf. Most of the crude oil which is leaking is NOT coming up to the surface.

I do believe that most of the crude oil/natural gas is leaking from the wellhead, but there may also crude oil and natural gas leaking from the seafloor. Of course, we CANNOT determine what volume that this may be.


Most of the oil is not making it up to the surface? How do you know?

If the density of a hydrate is similar to water and they attract oil, which is less dense, then the particles would still tend to float. But in any case, how much oil can the hydrates attract? Most of it? How do you know?

Natural gas forms clathrates when it mixes with cold sea water. My guess is that a 200,000 barrels per day full blowout of oil and gas at 200 degrees F. would heat up the seawater with which it mixes enough that at least some of the methane would not be frozen into clathrates and would reach the surface as gas. Without the dispersants BP has been injecting a much larger proportion of the leaking oil will reach the surface. This is a very different picture than Simmons envisions, in which all the oil from his blowout is staying on the bottom of the GOM and is not detectable by surface ships or in photographs taken from satellites .

Sparker seismic surveys would _very_ easily see any new shallow accumulation of oil and gas.

They've run two, and I'll guess they'll run one or two more before this is over. While a breakthrough of oil near the wellbore is a possibility even to this very moment, if there was anything anomalous seen on the sparker seismic surveys that indicated Simmons' river of oil/gas... well, you can project on that anything you desire.

In the case of my experience with an offshore blowout, there was an estimated 3Bcf of gas injected into a shallow (~4000' bml) sand. It did cause problems later, but that's another story.

Seismic would show gas accumulations; it MIGHT not show oil. In the case of the blowout oil, there should be plenty of associated gas to generate a strong near-surface seismic response if it was being injected from the well to a shallow sand.

Anybody here know the best place to get touchup paint for my black helicopter. :)

Try this. They finally made progress on this urban legend.

Actually, radar-absorbent paint was invented by the Germans in WWII. They used it in an attempt to hide U-boats from radar (didn't work).

During WWII the Germans were convinced by "turned" spies in Britain into believing that their U-boats were being spotted on the surface at night by Coastal Command bombers with infra-red detectors. They actually produced a workable anti-IR paint for their subs after a lot of effort. What they didn't know was the bombers were using H2S millimetric radar and not infra-red detectors to spot the U-boats before dropping depth-charges on them. Shame, really.

The Unterseeboot Kriegsmarine did deploy radar detectors later in the war but they worked at centimetric frequencies, not millimetric as the Germans didn't know about magnetrons and klystrons and didn't have the capability themselves to produce lots of RF power at such high frequencies for radars.

Very cool history trivia. I'm a WWII history buff, and had never heard this before.

One learns so many things reading this forum...

Check with Simmons. I hear he's got some new stuff that is black with a tinge of red. I think his part description is "GOM Black Sinker".

But hey - you can't discount the entertainment value of these conspiracy posts!

The downside is that "a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on"...

Why would BP waste its time on a message board when the truth will come out eventually?

Why would the CEO of Bear Stearns waste time on CNBC saying all was well days before it's collapse? "Our balance sheet has not weakened at all"


If people from BP were posting on this site it would be for the same reason that the Bear Stearns CEO lied on CNBC. To project an air of confidence and maintain stock price while hoping for a miracle. I tend not to side with matt but if he was correct, BP would lie until the end. It's just what corporations do in a situation like that. Can't really blame them, it's their environment that causes them to lie.

Bear Stearns was dependent on the short term loan market for its daily funding, any bank run would cripple it. At the time he said that, it was probably true.

But the logic is, BP hasn't admitted this, therefore it's true.
When did you stop beating your wife?

BP sells shares on the market. BP executives no doubt own shares of BP. News about the "spill" affects the price of shares.

BP should stop lying and covering up if they want to dampen various suspicions circulating in the general public. A general distrust of governmental and corporate powers that be is warranted based on the lies and deceptions they have perpetrated over the years. Theories about what they are actually doing may or may not be accurate, but they are understandable in a world where we have been lied to over and over, whether through purposeful deception or the fact that the deceivers have deceived themselves.

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc said in permit applications for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that it was prepared to handle an oil spill more than ten times larger than the one now spewing crude into the waters off the southern United States


The way to shut down wild conspiracy theories is to be honest and forthright in all things. If you are not, and that is known, then speculation will ensue. (Note I said Wild conspiracy theories, since conspiracies happen whenever more than one person gets together to plan and evil deed such as lying to the MMS on your permit application - a conspiracy to deceive which MMS accepted with a wink and a nod and a "shut up" to any scientists who disagreed, making them part to this particular conspiracy)

BP doesn't sell shares to fund its operations. Doesn't need to.

BP should "stop covering up and lying". About what the real blowout 6 miles away spewing 120k bpd? Exactly. And how do you know they are "covering up and lying"? Because they're not fessing up to it!

So you offer a conjecture with no proof or evidence, but the mere fact BP does not admit to it, proves it true.

Oxidatedgem, below I'm using the editorial "you" and not to mean you personally.

Unfortunately, nothing will shut down a conspiracy theory. Even if every bit of truth were told and nothing held back on any major event, a significant number of people (a) won't believe it on principle; or (b) find a way to stitch the facts together to support their conspiracy theory.

It is my firm belief that it is in our nature to love conspiracies. We are attracked to them. That is why it's a very successful cottage industry. Conspiracies fulfill a need to make your own sense out of a complex and troubling world full of uncertainty and containing many things we simply don't understand.

With conspiracy theories, you don't have to think critically about the "facts" or test your assumptions. You only have to find a way to link your factoids to support whatever claim to believe. In other words, you first determine your position and then find and believe the facts that support your position and discard anything that doesn’t fit your particular view.

The conspiracy process is a lot easier that learning. You don't have to work for the answer; you merely have to retain the belief in the conspiracy. Then, with your faith in the conspiracy intact, you can withstand counter-theories, people questioning your theory or any "evidence" that surfaces that refute your conspiracy because these can be easily dismissed as tools of the evil conspiracy. To be open to other views is to loose the faith.

Add in a big measure of anger and a number of people looking to exploit and/or prey upon that anger for their own causes and you can fuel a conspiracy for a very long time in the presence of total truth.

While there will always be conspiracy theories and their ists, it certainly doesn't help matters when Allen is putting out such vague information as "undetermined anomalies" and a "seep a distance from the well".

I suspect (and hope) his press conference today is going to be a lively one.

"Thad's Seep" is methane at about 2 miles from well according to Carol Browner on CNN. No indication it is connected with Macondo well as of now but being studied.

lol.. yes, corporate and government activity is a beacon on honesty. Quite possibly the reason people come up with wild theories is because we are hit with a steady fire hosing of kool-aide 24-7. Enron was rated AAA a few days before it's collapse. That was, dare I say , a conspiracy between the company and rating agencies. Of course, plausible deniability works like a charm and is the way of our world.

But the logic is, BP hasn't admitted this, therefore it's true.

Who's logic? Not my logic. My logic is simple, corporations will lie even when it is not rational, especially when survival is on the line. I bet I could find thousands of examples of corporate lying for much less -- of lies that were known would come out to be lies later on. It's built into their DNA, the just can't help it.

Just like we collectively do, with a social system dependent on perpetual growth for operation, we will lie until we can't any more.


Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.[kind of like people not seeing how hopelessly broken our social system is, in all it's manifestations]

nice comment ...i like it. and accurate to. the same reasoning plays to why every show about jfk's death that doesnt have conspiracy in the title claims oswald was the lone gunman even though the house select commitee on assassinations said it was indeed a conspiracy with more than one player. yet it was never followed up on beyond that.
same can be said of any number of shady government actions such as iran-contra etc etc
and of course the argument against abiotic oil is resevoirs arent refilling.
wonder what would be said a billion years from now if they did actually refill. i've seen no evidence of a scientific nature that can prove either argument.
if simmons was right i wouldnt expect any evidence of it to be seen at all.yet.
nothing to see here. move along.
a genetic predisposition to lying does have scientific backing however. not like i needed it to know it though.

i own a tv.

Do you know how I can apply for a job with BP wasting money on message boards?

As one of the identified shills, I can give my BP recruiter's contact info, we did have a referral campaign where I could earn extra money if ....

.... oh, no, wait ... I can't ... you might be a shill for MS. We have to exchange the secret handshake first before I can let you into the vast global conspiracy ... it's a rule!

;-) and LOL.

No facts that can be checked, specific coordinates or independently verifyable information will ever come from Mr. Simmons or his zealous supporters on this topic because that means the conspiracy would collapse. For it to continue, it requires vagueness and uncertainty; all claims and no data.

Hokum, pure and simple.

No facts that can be checked, specific coordinates or independently verifyable information will ever come from Mr. Simmons or his zealous supporters on this topic because that means the conspiracy would collapse. For it to continue, it requires vagueness and uncertainty; all claims and no data.

Hokum, pure and simple.

FUD. Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

From an internet forum long ago and far away... we used that acronym for exactly this same phenomenon. No matter the subject at hand there is someone ready to spread FUD and then claim it is everyone else who is wrong. Hit and run, no honest debate or actual evidence, just FUD.


I did wonder if someone was running him as a wookie but I could not work out who would be benefiting from that, any thoughts?


I think we can do without this kind of post on the TOD. Ad hominem attacks on people without providing a scintilla of evidence is simply unwarranted. As the old expression goes "what Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it does about Paul".

I would strongly suggest that the editors of the site take down this comment.

I have some trouble following his aeronautics.

So the BOP, riser and casing blow straight up and through the rig, travel six miles laterally and stab themselves straight down into a pocket of oil. How do they travel 6 miles laterally, especially with no toppling effect? Do they float in the air long enough for the breeze to waft them?

I guess it could be another manifestation of Wile E.'s Law: no one was looking so gravity waited until it had an audience.

I like Wile E's Law!

No, you have your Simmons facts wrong. The riser separated from the BOP. See? Unless you read another of his statements in which it didn't.

Methinks we should be paying less attention to the Simmons hyperbole and more attention to the facts on the ground. Specifically, the now-confirmed seafloor seepage. How about those pressure readings, OP says "steadily rising" but how steadily and what are the readings at now? Still pressure missing, going somewhere else, I presume?


The pressure inside the well recently has been measured at approximately 6,792 pounds per square inch and continues to rise slowly

Thanks, and confirmed at Oil and Gas Journal:


I recall 6700-6800 PSI 2 days ago also, so if it is "slowly rising," it is rising VERY slowly, probably not linearly but approaching some asymptote...

Currently increasing at just under 1 psi per hour was said at Coast Guard briefing an hour or so ago.

The USCG said they could see much less oil in the GOM within a day of the oil being stopped.
If there was another "main" leak they would not have seen any difference in the amount of oil.
""The proof is in the pudding"
I do not now or have ever worked for BP.
The conspiracy is against BP while the really bad actors are the present administration and the liberals that pushed oil drilling to such deep water.
I know BP made some major mistakes, but that is just typical of any large operation, including any government. The work done since the whole thing started has been nothing short of amazing.
I am a degreed engineer and I know how difficult the project has been.
Watch out for the MSM and Obama administration. To take away criticism from themselves they will demonize BP. The bigger crisis they can make out of this event the more they can stop oil production in the USA. If their is any conspiracy it is being done by Obama and his minions.
I do however think the well must either be killed ASAP. While they are waiting for the kill they should let the oil flow to reduce any pressure at the well head. By now they should be able to hook on the the new stack with almost zero leakage.

Liberal conspiracy? I think BP and others are drilling deepwater worldwide because that's where the remaining oil is.

Demonize? Seems BP brought this on itself by losing control of the well and then having no useful plans to stop or clean up the flow. They will deserve their fate, which will likely be fairly mild, considering the damage.

Confused America (13 friends, send message) wrote: 2m ago
I will never buy BP oil/gas again.
====== ===
LOL...... Obama BP lynch mob dweeb.....
BP has been the ONE Competent, honest, ethical actor in this whole sorry mess.
First the Haliburton cement job failed, then the TransOcean rig/crew failed to detect/stop the well kickback, then the TransOcean owned/maintained/operated BOP failed to either disconnect the riser or contain the blowback.
The Obama MMS approved every detail of the failed rig/BOP, and every detail of the well design...
If any aspect of the rig, well, equipment, drillers, procedures were inadequate, the Dems had 4 years to fix it, but failed to protect American waters.
Then our incompetent Fed Govt was COMPLETELY incompetent/unprepared for the spill.
Then our corrupt Fed Govt ILLEGALLY, UNETHICALLY, IMMORALLY reneged on the Dem 1990 Oil Pollution act, and bullied/threatened/extorted BP into waiving the contracted for $75 million cap on liability.

Despite being surrounded by incompetent/unethical/obstructing Govt drones, and demagogue Dems, BP has heroically and stoically worked 24/7 to fix this accident.
Good for BP.

What corporation will EVER trust our corrupt, lawless Fed Govt to follow it's own laws after this?
How many millions of jobs with this treachery and immoral/unethical/illegal Obama shakedown cost the US?

Then our corrupt Fed Govt ILLEGALLY, UNETHICALLY, IMMORALLY reneged on the Dem 1990 Oil Pollution act...

Once again you've gotten your facts wrong on this: The 1990 Oil Pollution Act was passed by the Republican congress and signed by president George HW Bush. The Democratic congress was seated on January 3, 1991.

And, as I've said before, the rest of your post isn't worth responding to.

I hate to break this to you, but the Senate was in the hands of the Democrats from 1989 thru 1994, and the House likewise from 1955 thru 1994. It wasn't until Jan. 1995 that the Republicans took over.

Now, whether the 1990 Act was the idea of the administration or Congress, I wouldn't know. That only 5 voted against it when it first passed the House, and that the conference version was unanimously approved in both chambers suggests that there's not much foundation for calling it "the Dem 1990 Oil Pollution act".


"BP has been the one competent, honest, ethical actor in this whole sorry mess."

ROTFLMAO! thanks for the laugh!

ps: you might find more like-minded folks at an i-hate-obama blog. :-)

That's a liability cap on civil damages. There is no cap on criminal damages. My understanding is that the law is such that there is little hope of BP evading criminal charges, so the cap will not protect them anyway. So to the extent that people accept what they can get from the $20B fun it will probably save BP money in the end.

Also, I hope you aren't just now noticing that government can be incompetent, illegal, unethical, and immoral. That goes way back. I also hope you have noticed that businesses and people share the same weaknesses, also going way back.

What do civil or criminal damages or liability limits have to do with this? The US government is free to decide the terms under which it will debar BP from extracting oil from US leases or will refrain from doing so. BP is on probation for previous safety lapses.

You are a degreed engineer and you know liberals are at fault for this.

Maybe engineers should take some liberal arts courses and learn a thing or two about something other than engineering.

Yes, I am a degreed engineer and try and use reality when looking at a problem.
I try and not attack another person rather than analyze the problem.
As an engineer, I understand what an undertaking has been made to correct the major mistake mad by BP. I have worked for very large corporations and know just how Dilbertisk ( a new word?), they can be. As bad as large corporations are, they are tons better than big government and big government screw-ups.
I have been in meetings where over a hundred million was thrown away with about 5 minutes by government employees.

My goodness! For a so called engineer, you seem pretty ill informed. There are many deep wells around the world -- one is now being planned off of Brazil at something like 7 K feet and 40 plus miles off shore. Why? The "liberals" in Brazil want it there? No, cause that is where the oil is.

Please. Things are hard enough without such exagerrated claims. Your backbend to make it seem like BP is the wronged party caused by some political movement is just over the top...

I think you are correct in your assessment of many newbies signing up for the purpose of disinformation and to downplay the evetnts.

But I also think Simmons is likely wrong. I could be wrong. Time will tell just as it will as to the GOM event.

But suddenly I do note the very large number of apparent apologists now posting happily away in defense of BP and make many statements of denial.

Would TPTB have minions to downplay the events? Most assuredly but only AFTER its obvious that the event is now receding. This is how IMO punditry in defense works.

One sees it constantly being played out over and over in the MSM. Most politicians are absolute masters at this game and corporations are the same. They will stoop to any means to get their propaganda across.

Yet I have faith that on TOD the truth will become known, all the shenanigans aside.

I too have been a long time reader on TOD but now lurk mostly and only post when I feel I must, such as in support of your views on this issue.

passingby and sandiego

I think you are correct in your assessment of many newbies signing up for the purpose of disinformation and to downplay the events.

But I also think Simmons is likely wrong.

I too have been a long time reader on TOD but now lurk mostly and only post when I feel I must, such as in support of your views on this issue.

100% agreed, I`d say exactly the same

I have noticed only a small number of BP apologists here. I should point out that trying to point out extreme unlikelihood of events seen, through the best well-intentioned lenses of technical people in the industry, as bizarre and improbable, is not being an "apologist" for BP.

As far as I am concerned, it is on Matt Simmons to prove his case to us instead of offering conjecture. If he has evidence, let him show us (especially on this six mile away spew point, for which there is NO evidence to this point that we have).

We here have been reporting what we know, further TOD has been allowing speculation on this topic freely within reason, from both sides. In that vein, to call everyone who refutes Simmons a BP shill is beyond the pale and completely unjustified, in my opinion--just because people don't sing with your choir doesn't mean they aren't concerned or reasonable.

The case just has not been proven, at all. If Simmons is right, it is on him to provide evidence, just like he did in Twilight, where he built his case based on facts and documentable evidence. I encourage him, if he has more evidence, to present it, here or wherever. We would give him a chance to post any time he wanted it, and has been offered such on multiple occasions, with no response.

If he is holding evidence back then he is doing a public disservice, if he is speculating without any evidence, then he is doing the same.

Think about it (Kunstler and Jesse at Cafe Amercain make the same point today), if Simmons is right, the coverup we would be witnessing will destroy the remaining credibility American government as we know it--and sooner or later, we will indeed know if that is the case. It is an irrational strategy.

Reason, empiricism, and more reason. That's all we ask.

Matt Simmons is to this disaster what the truther cult leaders were to the WTC disaster.

I still find it very curious that the following posters: kalliergo, gmf, fdoleza, snakehead, deadman, esarlls3, hiver, porker, wrb, crazyv, avonaltendorf, R2-3D, RioHondoHank, passsingby all signed up to post on TOD exactly 7 weeks x days ago. It really isn’t that difficult to sign up multiple accounts on TOD and then post away. Try reading these threads by only those who have had accounts on TOD for more than 100 days and you will get a very different flavor....

I feel it necessary to point out to you that 100 days ago Macondo hadn't yet blown.

If you really want to get at the root of this particular mini-conspiracy, look to the Chron. But don't tell them I told you, or I may never receive another $15 BP gas card in the mail.

I feel it necessary to point out to you that 100 days ago Macondo hadn't yet blown.

True. Are you trying to help prove his point? I think he's saying that people who signed up before the blowout are less likely to be BP apologists than those who signed up since the blow out (like me).

I thought it may have occurred to him that a lot of people stumbled into TOD about 7 weeks ago because of the blowout. As far as the BP apologist stuff goes, shrug. He didn't back that accusation up with anything specific. If he feels that people who disagree with his viewpoint are BP apologists, he's free to discount what they post categorically.

Given that this is one of the best sites for useful information rather than the MSM, lunatic new agers, or conspiracy theory sites, one would expect lots of people interested in the spill to sign up about then. I did. You know what is worse? I once was paid by BP! Not exacly much, 7 years ago, and it was on the exploration side, but I did get money from them. I guess that makes me a BP shill too.

I wonder how many shills Simmons is paying to post here? Seems as soon as one is shot down another one magically arrives to push the same silliness. Same logic.

We will know the truth of his claims in a quite short time. The current lack of new oil in the GOM is pretty damming already. Not to mention the remaining difficulties his theories have.

Dang! Francis has going from being a BP apologist to a TOD apologist. Hope you got a raise. BTW...what are we suppose to be getting paid these days? I just keep getting Blue Bell vouchers from Prof.Goose. I'm not complaining, of course.

Rockman, not only do I learn a ton about drilling for oil from you, but you continue to crack me up!

keep shilling for BP buddy! keep earning that Blue Bell ;-)

I thought once the flow from the well stopped, The Oil Drum would start to return to what it was pre-Gulf blowout, no such luck - I wonder how long after (assuming success) the relief well kills this thing the conspiracy theorists will shrilly and without evidence continue to scream "coverup" and "Simmons Says!" am I the only one that remembers that Simmons is an energy investment guy who has admitted to being short BP? Wouldn't it be in Matt's best interest to see BP stocks stay low? or keep diving? It's not even conspiracy, just simple financial self-interest.

The acolytes of Simmons may also be short on BP stock, since they foolishly think past performance guarantees future performance, and they're VERY interested in denigrating BP, scaring everyone, and stirring up general FUD to drive the BP stock waaaay down.

Every good thing that happens raises BP stock, and costs them money. Hence the FUD.

Expect more FUD.

My stock prediction: Buy BP stock.

Mac -- I suspect interest will drop a good bit after the well is killed and then taper down while they plug and abandon. We might have a number of months back on those other little energy issues (PO, sustainability, alts, etc). But one day the official investigation/trial will start up and the party will once again be on IMHO.

The acolytes of Simmons may also be short on BP stock, since they foolishly think past performance guarantees future performance, and they're VERY interested in denigrating BP, scaring everyone, and stirring up general FUD to drive the BP stock waaaay down.

Every good thing that happens raises BP stock, and costs them money. Hence the FUD.

Expect more FUD.

My stock prediction: Buy BP stock. Too Big To Fail. Supplies the US military machine.

I have no stock. I don't bet against a crooked casino.

Time to short Blue Bell?

I don't know how this matters, when someone registered as a user, but I don't like being lumped into a group and smeared by association. Over and out.

Admit it avonaltendorf, you've been exposed as a BP shill. You had me fooled :-)

I agree sandy...my favorite flavor is Blue Bell Mint chocolate BTW. Oddly enough many of the old TOD regulars agree with you re: the timing of new registrants. I don't. Thanks to word of mouth TOD viewership has soared. You might not be aware but TOD had to buy new server power to handle the increase. I'm glad for all the newbies be they BP apologists, nutty alarmist or die hard conspiracy buffs. Once the BP incident is behind us TOD's focus will again be Peak Oil which, sadly IMHO, is a much more serious long term issue than the BP accident.

BTW: I, for one, wish we had more BP apologists posting. Many of us have cast a very dark loud on that corporation. If those beliefs are valid than responding to any challenge to defend them should only make our case stronger. And if we have weak spots in our position then we should assess them. It's TOD's job offer the best evidence available on the BP blow out, PO or any other issue it takes up. I know of no better way to achieve that goal but to fully embrace dissenting positions.

Well said, Rockman...

Blue Bell is good but too bad you can't try our local "SCream" (Ice Cream), Mallards. All natural and rich -- made from local, healthy cows from our area in Northwest WA state...

We are having a national crisis about trust, IMHO. What makes it particularly challenging is that this issue is technical, complex and fraught with uncertainty in outcome as well as political and organizational dynamics. We want simple answers with clear black and white outcomes and representations. Not.going.to.happen. That means, unfortunately, that we are going to be dealing with the emotional and psychological consequences of lack of trust, mixed with complexity and uncertainty --- CONSPIRACY.

Lets hang onto our hats but I am hopeful, truly, that as all the information comes out about who worked together and how to solve this, that we will be greatly reassured and encouraged. Will it solve everyone's issues? NO. People will still distrust, still want an easy hero or villain. For many of us, however, it will be an exciting and wonderful opportunity to accept new knowledge and experience...

Elie -- what happened...too much ice cream and you get a terminal case of brain freeze. LOL. If you want to waste some precious time go check out some of my post pre-BP. You'll see I have a very bad opinion of what we should expect from our fellow citizens when the really bad aspects of PO kick in. Just my silly opinion but we may look back on today as the period of great trust, cooperation and enlightenment WRT energy. The BP pain is relatively limited right now. We could possibly have a worse case PO event that could throw the entire country into conditions we see developing in S La right now. The conspiracy theories/scapegoating we see now will be very mild in comparison IMHO.

Some might call me a doomer. But I don't see a Mad Max world coming. Just a nation looking very similar to what we see developing along the Gulf coast. I'm a realist IMHO. In another life time I put my faith in the country doing the right thing. I was wrong. I survived. Many didn't. I don't care to make that assumption again.

Well said... and would someone once and for all explain (advertise) the Blue Bell ice cream thing? Is that the ice cream company engineers here invest in or is it simply excellent ice cream? I don't eat it now since coffee or hot sauce are my drugs of choice, however, I would be pleased to give in to temptation if the benefits outweigh the risks. Thanks

right long story short: BBIC is the prefered treat of the most knowledgable well site geologists in the oil patch. It's also the ice cream of choice on most offshore drill rigs.

Yes, I know that you are right and it makes me both sad and nervous. We have so little capacity for understanding anything that doesnt have an easy someone or group to Blame. We have lived up to the edge of our resources for a long time...always behaving as though there is infinite capacity to all that we need to survivive. Reality we all knew was that we had limits, but never chose to enforce them on our behavior. We are going to pay for that. There is never any escape from that unfortunately.

Yesterday one of the commenters asked tongue in cheek if humans are smarter than yeast. My answer was no. Unlike yeast which can figure out how to set up a prolongued symbiosis on our feet, etc. we are killing our host -- the planet earth and will ultimately impact our own survival unless we can find balance and a way to impose limits on ourselves...


What do you make of this


Investigators are also turning attention to decisions made by employees of Transocean Ltd., the rig's owner, in addition to those made by BP that day, the list indicates. In particular, the list suggests investigators are looking at whether better coordination between the two companies might have prevented the disaster. The document includes several instances of unexpected pressure increases triggering disagreements among workers from the two firms.

...At 7:10 p.m., BP's two top officials on the rig met near the spot where the pipe comes out of the water and through the rig's floor. They discussed the high pressure, according to the investigative panel, which has been gathering evidence for two months. Transocean rig workers, according to the panel, offered an explanation that didn't raise an alarm.

That employees of Transocean, the rig's owner, might not have realized the seriousness of the situation—and may have misunderstood the data from the well—could shift some scrutiny onto that company. Most of the spotlight so far has fallen on BP, which owned the well and hired Transocean to drill it.

You forgot this bit of key info from the story.

Shortly before 5 p.m., pressure built up unexpectedly on the section of pipe suspended in the well. Managers from BP and Transocean disagreed on what that meant. "Some employees recalled a disagreement between Transocean and BP on the rig floor about the negative test and pressure on the work string," the list notes.

Even if the suggestion that the TO hands all by themselves made this decision with no input from BP and no pressure, BP still ordered the hands to displace the riser mud without a secondary barrier in place in direct contradiction to industry standard and best practices. As Rockman confirmed yesterday, had they followed procedure and set the top plug, they would not have been killed even if TO hands had blown the pressure test.

This is why there was the argument that morning. Dislpacing the riser mud the way BP ordered over the objections of TO crew was a risky, dangerous, unwarranted move that cost 11 men their lives. The move was ordered because it was quicker than setting the top plug first and waiting for the cement to dry. They could move off-site quicker if they did it this way.

The account presented in the WSJ piece is also directly contradicted by the story given by the Haliburton hand doing the tests.


The argument in the morning was not about displacing with seawater - it was about adding an additional negative pressure test prior to displacement according to testimony of Miles Ezell and Jimmy Harrel. BP accepted Harrel's request and added the test. Harrel testified that in his opinion they passed both negative pressures tests to his specification.

Also displacing with seawater at that point is common industry in Deepwater GoM according to testimony of all so far that I've heard. Including the live testimony right now by "Leo Linder - MI-Swaco, Drilling Fluid Specialist, providing information on the displacement path from the riser to Deepwater Horizon MODU."

After discussions of the first negative pressure test a second was performed and apparently all were satisfied. (BP and Transocean). Harrel continues to believe (as of testimony) that he believed they correctly interpreted the results and they had a good cement job which later failed.

No, the argument was about displacing seawater from the riser. That argument happend right at the time that BP e-mailed the procedures. It was 5-7 hours before pressure test discussions on the floor.

Displacing with seawater may be common, displacing the way they did is not. It is far enough off best practices to elicit a gasp from anyone who knows the risk. And it elicited an argument that morning ending with the exclamation, "I guess that's what we got them pinchers for."

You do not have the facts straight.

Here's what Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell said when asked about the argument/debate.


20 Q. And we had heard that there was some

21 discussion at the end of that meeting, Mr.

22 Jimmy wanted to talk on the side and asked a

23 couple of people to stay back about what was

24 going to actually happen that day. Were you

25 engaged in those conversations?

1 A. I was engaged in a portion of that.

2 Q. Okay.

3 A. Jimmy was adamant about conducting this

4 negative test.

5 Q. Yes, sir.

6 A. And, just to give you a little

7 background on that --

8 Q. Please.

9 A. -- in our Transocean manual I don't

10 believe you can find a negative test.

11 Q. Okay.

12 A. This was something that Jimmy Harrell,

13 as OIM, always insisted on.

14 Q. That's what he said.

15 A. That's the way it was. He was that

16 adamant about doing it and we knew that he was

17 not going to deviate from that. And he had

18 some bad experiences on another rig, another

19 time years back. I'm not a hundred percent

20 sure, but it taught him a lesson he said -- he

21 said that day that he would always do a

22 negative test. So, maybe in some people's

23 mind that could have been overkill, but it was

24 standard procedure for us to do that. It was

25 something that we felt more comfortable with,

The pincers quote appears to be what Harrel said if they didn't have his negative pressure test done. He got his negative pressure test and was satisfied.

And Harrel's testimony himself


1 A. Yes, sir.

2 Q. Earlier yesterday, we had some

3 testimony saying that there was some type of

4 heated debate between you and the company man.

5 Do you know what he may be referring to?

6 A. I don't remember about no heated

7 debate. We did talk about the negative test.

8 He had given me a plan and I looked at it and

9 it didn't have anything about a negative test

10 and we just remained after the meeting and I

11 talked with him and the driller and the senior

12 pusher, you know, to make sure that we did a

13 negative test before displacing the seawater.

tow -- No way for us to know if that's how it went down. But it's a very credible story IMHO. I've seen the situation described dozens of times. Big serious issues and little stuff. So many judgment calls. And you're often gathering data from multiple sources who may or may not have the facts correct. I know of one floor hand who died because he turned left when he should have turned right. And he had no clue he was about to die. Sometimes it can be as simple and pointless as that. Monitoring the mud returns was a joint effort between BP, the mud engineer and the drilling contractor. I suspect when/if this goes to a formal investigation/trial this aspect will be at the heart of it.

Rockman, by credible story, you mean that the TO hands incorrectly read the pressure tests as okay and gave BP the green light I assume?

That still does not address the issue of BP's order to displace the riser without a secondary barrier in place. The regs state that either hydrostatic balancing in the well of other acceptable method (such as set the top plug) to secure the well before displacing.

So even if the TO hands blew the test, BP set them up for the blow-out by ordering them to displace without any well suppression back-up in place.

Is that accurate?

With respect to the pressure test, there is a lot of conflicting testimony and facts surrounding that event. You would have to reslove all of those disputes in BPs favor to conclude that the TO crew was to blame exclusively. Did BP folks on the rig know about the unaccounted for returns from those tests. Maybe they did not. But how is that possible when they are right there on the rig floor when the test is being done?

I find it curious that you're curious about the timing - do you think the Macondo blowout might have had something to do with it?

Seriously, there were references to TOD in BBC articles about the blowout, stating that more technical assessments and discussion could be found here. As I am an engineer working (not for BP BTW!) in the O&G sector this sad affair has depressed and yet fascinated me, so it seemed only natural to sign up to TOD to discuss it.

No doubt others were led here by similar links - that doesn't mean that we are all paid to be here unfortunately, though some might be for all I know!

Are you seriously suggesting that Macondo was blown up to send people to TOD? Not sure I understand your point.


Not that strange.

At that time TOD had gotten a bunch of publicity and there were scary theoties floating out.

I'd been reminded of TOD by a post at Balloon Juice (I'd visited occasionally before, probably due to links from Kunsler with whom I'd been on a urban planning forum for years) and had read a blog by a guy who claimed the sea floof was exploding. I posted a link and asked as so many others have done sense. I got a very polite explanation that it was thrusters kicking up muck, found the discussion interesting and stuck around. I suspect many of the others' stories are similar.

It is quite possible to not be a fan of BP or our use of petroleum but not be impressed by wild conspiracy theories

Rest assured, there's only one of me.

Here's a picture you will see nowhere else taken by yours truly in 1980

It is my one and only experience with an offshore blowout well. I was not the geologist of record, but a log run geologist going out for the log run on the relief well before one of the casing runs. The gas blowout had bridged over and wasn't at strong risk of reopening when this picture was made.

If you want to doubt anything I say, feel free. I chuckle on a regular basis when I read some of the other accounts on here I feel are clones of each other. None of the technical types here sound alike, but I'll be hornswaggled if some of the Chicken Little types are all unique.

I have a question for an 'old school' geologist, then. My professor back in the day showed me what she called 3 m's. They were fossils, but they looked like grains of sand, until you looked in the microscope, then they were these ornate, detailed amazing things. She said that they used them in the drilling industry to verify what formation they were in and could tell where they were in the drilling (how close to the oil) by examining them. I have searched and searched for them, and understand they no longer use this method as technology has replaced the need for it. Has anyone ever heard of this, and what are the really called?

thank you.

p.s. i am not a bp shill. i joined b/c i live on the gulf and i wanted a rounded discussion other than the oatmeal we are fed on the news. i have lurked for months, and just joined recently so i could ask the above question.

She probably called them "forams". Foraminifera. They're the microfossils that are used most commonly to determine the relative ages of Tertiary (younger than 65 million years) sedimentary rocks. They've also been used to measure changes in ocean temperature.

I was reading about abiotic oil to try to learn more about it and found a statement that crude, when seen under a microscope contains remnants of its organic past. Could these foraminifera be what was referred to or is there something else in the oil that proves its organic origin?

Not under a microscope. Stable carbon isotopes are used for this purpose. You'd need a mass spectrometer to measure them.

Yes, forams, and no, you won't see much in the way of anything in oil that doesn't resemble oil, or perhaps the sand that the oil was in. Oil' source rock is a bit of a hot topic these days, but that has to do with the fact that some of the source rocks onshore are the "shale plays" that is causing all the heavy leasing and controversy. The way the oil is squeezed out, you wouldn't expect much besides the fluids themselves.

There's a guy who works for Schlumberger now that wrote an interesting book on how some of the very tall columns of oil in the deep water deposits have a distinct separation, where the oil on the top and the oil at the base are often separated fractions, and theorizes that this isn't separation within the reservoir, but from different fractionations at different times, leading to a gradation of samples taken, dark brown at the bottom, light yellow on top.

Suffice to say, we have a very good idea exactly which age rocks are the sources for oil onshore, and we suspect we know which zone(s) is producing what in the GOM as well.

Even so, there are debates on the age of the oil/source rock in the Gulf basin that go on to this day.

Thanks for the replies. The more I learn, the more I see I have to learn!

I'm another under-100 member, sandi. I came to The Oil Drum through Fishgrease at Daily Kos. I was looking for rational commentary on the disaster, and I found it. As the Professor noted, if posters don't agree with you in every detail you imagine, it doesn't mean they're frauds or wrong. It means they don't agree with you in every detail.

There is quite a bit of expertise at this site, if you haven't noticed. Learning can mean placing ideas in your head where there were none before, and it can also mean replacing pre-existing ideas with different ideas, if you recognize the earlier ones as mistaken. So it's not always wise to cling desperately to your criteria when you expose yourself to something new.

I'm an oceanographer, and I can verify from my own knowledge many aspects, both general and specific, of the unfolding situation in the Gulf (such as, there is no impending oil volcano. You want a scary big volcano, read up on Yellowstone). I've also learned a tremendous amount about petroleum engineering from he likes of HO, ROCKMAN, and several of the posters you've mentioned. I haven't found them to be uniform apologists or critics, but rather, people commenting with knowledge and intelligence. As for your paid army of whitewashers--conspiracy theories are generally for the bored and confused. Without evidence (and not of the circular type) you have only invention.

I don't know about the rest of the corporate shills, but I'm gonna make BP increase my incentive payments if I'm forced to read through many threads like this.

Sheesh. There's only so much free gas I can use in my smart car, and San Francisco Muni doesn't take BP Shill Scrip.

I was wondering when your cover would be blown, kalliergo. You have been shilling for BP with your double-reverse psychology very effectively from day 1.

Someone blew my cover yesterday, too, when they asked me to stop being an authroitarian.

I would out Rockman, but no one would believe me, so why bother.

Uh-huh. I get extra credit for being a master of disguise.

I noticed that you gracefully apologized for your authoritarian tendencies. I hope that means you'll be reining them in from now on.

syncro and kal: When it comes to most of the recent comments, I'm with Heinlein's pigs dancing logic.

I am a newbie and assure you that I come here to learn about an area that I knew little about BECAUSE of the accident.

This is a really sad view of the degree of paranoia in our country.... EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. We are a sad, sad people right now.

Nope. I am who I am. Usually I just lurk on an interesting site. Don't register until I have something to say. There was an event a couple of months ago that peaked my interest but I can't put my finger on it - maybe it was in the GoM.... Same event may have induced others to register about the same time.

I bet you can find a number of other posters with the "opposite" perspective of those on your select list that signed up around the same time. There was a particular EVENT that brought many of us here.

Not to say there aren't shills on various message boards, but the KISS explanation may be different than what you are proposing.

I guess you don't understand the concept of a synchronizing event. You see, there is this little event happening the GOM at the moment that has stirred up a lot of interest for some reason.

BTW, didn't you too come to TOD after The Long Emergency in 2005? Hint: it's also another synchronizing event.

Where you also a shill? And, is "shillness" conferred by the fact that an event brought you here?

do all those "names" have the same writing style? if same person they would by all probability sound the same? do they? Has anyone noticed a matching writing style, words groups, thought processes other than knowledge in the oil drilling industry...

How is Simmons supposed to get the evidence with the area closed to the press and truthseekers? Simmons says the info came from the NOAA and the Thomas Jefferson, not him. Where are these studies from last weeks NOAA release so I can study them?

I said before I have no dog in your fight here over Simmons; my view is that if he's on MSNBC or any other part of the dupe news, it's disinformation. Simmons is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he could be a shill or maybe an angry ex-member. I dunno.

All I ask is that the Politically Correct crowd mentioned above to practice what you preach and let's have an open discussion. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, let the truth seekers do their investigation.



That link is to the official report of the Jefferson's earlier voyage. NOAA's misions are ongoing, so there's been more since then, but that report is what Simmons would've had access to.

Where are these studies from last weeks NOAA release so I can study them?

It's normal practice to publish scientific data only after it's been aggregated and processed so it can be understood and after the scientists make some sense of it. It's not clear that the raw data would do us any good. They're just very long lists of numbers.

How is he supposed to get evidence? Well, where did he get his evidence then if no one can go near the site?

He said the NOAA verified that "there's no casing in the well". But the NOAA hasn't said any such thing. The NOAA hasn't seen his "120k bpd" spill, hasn't made any mention of it although they have been looking. Are they lying?

We're at the conspiracy level here.

"Perhaps, BP is paying these shills?"
This statement sounds cynical I know, but in today's world we should all read this and consider this possibility and ALWAYS keep it in the back of our minds. For this disaster and anything else we read on the internet. Propaganda, all, is phony. If you think a corporation would not try to spread misinformation by any means then you are being a little too gullible. And this would be so easy. At any rate I have learned a ton from this site and appreciate it... by the way i have been reading since before the spill but only joined after.

The danger of course is the extent of the cynicism. You can get to a point where nothing is trustworthy or valid. Then what? We are in a world then where everyone gets to dictate his or her own reality?

We have an event that is complex and technical in its nature (requiring advanced knowledge and also its own language and terminology. Add to this, we have a divided and highly charged political and organizational context, so the "interepretation" or who knew what and therefore decided what based on some knowledge comes front and center.

No one can make you feel "safe" ultimately but you. At the end of the day, there is never enough proof if your suspicion remains the most operational construct that you use. But then, where does that leave you? Sadly, that unabalanced suspicion just leads to either making your own reality and "truth" or always doubting anyone who opposes your vision as having some other "agenda".

You have no way off of this ledge, friend.

Most of what Matt Simmons says is so demonstratably false that I don't understand why anyone pays him the slightest bit of (serious) attention. He got another moment in the media, and appeared so crackpot that even his interviewers could barely restrain from laughing, and is now resorting to crackpot and armageddonish outlets.

I get that he wrote something a while back that was worthwhile, but come on. He is either out of his mind, or waging a disinformation campaign for some inscrutible reason of his own; but in either case, why is anyone taking this crap about lakes of oil and shifting well heads seriously?

I'd really like to hear from some of the experts here who have been reluctanct to simply point out that the man is completely useless as a real information source. If these claims cam from almost anyone else, he would be easily dismissed. What has he done to gain so much stored credibility that he can claim white is black?

Caveat Emptor is the bottom line rule on the web--this site is better than most at offering objectively supported analysis and opinion, but it could be and perhaps sometimes is subject to "shills" and "conspiracy theorists" and "snake oil salesmen." Regardless of what foolishness spews from any given commenter or other media mouthpiece, fundamental physical and chemical properties of oil remain--they can not be changed by opinion or agenda. If there were a lake of oil on the bottom somewhere, it would more likely be oil that has been subjected to dispersant, rather than crude seeping directly from the subsurface formation, which would float on top of water. I frankly thought that nightmare (fractured casing, compromised bore/formation) might be true earlier on, but am now much more hopeful that the well can ultimately be controlled/killed and produced via the relief well(s).

I still think that use of dispersant may be the most irresponsible and destructive thing BP has done since the blow-out occurred. I think many readers would be interested in commentary from the Oil Drum and its more knowledgeable commenters on the subject of dispersant use and alternatives.

Yes I'm New to TOD (5+ weeks) what dose that prove? Anything? Ok, I didn't think so.
Then if Mr. Simmons, is as I understand from previous threads a wealthy man, then he should put up or shut up. Mr. Simmons could fund an independent search for this underwater leak that he has claimed exists. For that matter all those that believe in this conspiracy and cover up could get together and do the funding of such research. If they can trust each other that much. I for one would love to see a search of the surrounding sea floor done by an independent group. I would suggest Woods hole oceanographic institution or many other undersea research organizations. Perhaps you would prefer one of the many shipwreck search organizations (many are international and not having ties to the government). Then of course the environmental groups like Save the Whales, Greenpeace, Sea Sheppard (I saw on Sea Sheppard’s web site that they are interested in this GOM oil spill). Mr. Simmons should fund this research to prove the truth. If he can prove this leak exist then he would be a hero!
Like they say in the movies “Show me the money”!

You nailed it Sandiego. It is absurd to think that BP has not planted posters here, as the site has turned into an organ of BP, although with a few continued independent voices that tend to get shouted down immediately.

I am just wondering what has happened to University of Georgia researcher, Samantha Joye, one of the most valuable independent sources. Her Gulf Oil Blog has not been updated since June 20th. Et tu Mandy?

sandiego - It's hard for people who don't know science to make sense of what seem to be dueling experts. But for those of us who do, many of the sillier claims about the Macondo well are pretty much a no-brainer.

Is the person backing up his claims with evidence?

Is s/he making scientific errors?

Is what s/he is saying consistent with what we are seeing on the ROV feeds?

I tend to dismiss, rather quickly, people who make scientific errors in their claims; that's not always a guide, but it's a signal that one should be careful and ask more questions.

So red methane coming up a granite channel from the mantle is a full and instant disqualifier. I don't have to spend time on that one unless I want a laugh. For those who are not scientists, methane is not red (additionally, most gases don't have color, and yes I know the exceptions); granite seldom is a petroleum reservoir rock; and the Macondo well isn't anywhere near the mantle.

So many of Matt Simmons's claims are in this category, that it's not even worth spending time considering that they might, in some alternative universe with different physical laws, be true. If that appeals to you, you can consider writing a science fiction novel about it.

Now, if you don't know some science, you are back at the beginning. But Wikipedia is not bad in its science articles and worth consulting. Or standard geology texts from your local library, even a kid's dinosaur book. And if you stick around here, I suspect you can get a sense of who knows what they're talking about, although admittedly that is easier to do if you know some science.

To be honest I'd much rather have a methane hurricane than a bromine hurricane.

Yes. And bromine is indeed red.

You seem to have some reading comprehension issues. I have never claimed to know anything, other than what I learned at home or here.

I have never thought that kalliergo, bbfelow, or hiver were drilling experts either.

If you want to defend Simmons' theory, then do so, not attempt to do so by attacking anyone who has not supported it. One could ask how much Simmons is paying you. If you find where to sign up as a paid BP poster, let me know what the rate is - the only person left in my household with a job is being laid off after 29yrs at the end of the month and I could use the $.

You could start with explaining how if the BOP was ejected off the actual well, how did it land upright where it is at and what has been the source of what is flowing out of it.

I have become very wary of posters who make assertions of conspiracy and disaster and then ask scary questions (which require no proof).

They pretend to be concerned, but they offer no proof to indicate the likelihood of the assertions they make as bases for their woo-woo questions.

No Matt Simmons advocate has ever posted his actual words explaining why the leaks would be small, or large, or close to the well head or far away, nor have any of them posted geological data that might make it anything more than wildly improbable.

I'll stick with keeping it capped until the kill well needs the cap opened for additional mud.

I'm smelling politics in the vagueness of the description of the "seep" and there are no blasts of methane, just bubbles. Yard party size bubbles.

I've seen no reasons why variable valves can't be placed outboard of the fast opening valves that were mistakenly? built into the new cap. Could some expert please explain the operation of these fast valves, and why slow valves can't be added in line with them while there's no flow?

The hydraulic hammer effect wouldn't, I think, be significant in a small, high pressure coupling to the next valve.

I'm going with Occam's Razor on Simmons' claim. First off, I do not believe it is possible for the well to "blowout" the BOP and sufficient well pipe to send the whole structure a mile away, land upright, and still produce oil through the system.

Second, the ROV coordinates working at the BOP are the same as the ones given to the well prior to the explosion. That's just not possible without a much, much larger conspiracy and some incredible coincidences.

Third, what is BP's motivation to continue this farce of "fixing" a well that doesn't exist?

Fourth, Simmons' claim that there's a "lake" of oil underneath the Gulf, coupled with unrealistic pressures of 100k psi, make no sense. Oil floats, and any pressure that high would have been a historical value.

Fifth, the stocks he owns on BP that he has shorted make me question anything he says about this well that would drive the price down. He may have all sorts of data on this well, but it's clear he's releasing only the information that benefits his bottom dollar value.

sandiega asked

Isn’t it (wouldn’t it have been) better to assume the worst case and act on that


AIUI Matt Simmons' worst case is a gas blowout causing a 200 foot tsunami that destroys the gulf states and causes millions of deaths.

To act on that would mean evacuating the gulf states, causing thousands of deaths in the panic and needlessly disrupting the lives of millions of people and creating a huge refugee emergency.

No one would be left to handle the Oil problem, leaving the environment to be unecessarily further damaged.

So we should ignore the ravings of people with a financial interest in scaring us and put our faith in people with appropriate experience, skill, professionalism and integrity.

Just my ¤0.02 worth.

Well, I finally followed the link to The Truth Seeker, and it literally took me less than sixty seconds of reading the front page article to come to distrust Mark Simmons' conclusions. Not because I am an expert in Oil, Oceanography, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, or any other discipline that might apply. Not because I have done an in-depth study of the space images available on the net, and disagree with his conclusions. So why?

Because he gets a simple-to-check, basic science fact ABSOLUTELY WRONG. And I quote from the front page article:

"The health problems are so serious," Simmons said. "When you inhale methane you just die."

Um. No. Methane is a component of intestinal gas, so according to this, flatulence is fatal.

Is this directly tied to the entire oil disaster? No, it's just a peripheral component. Nonetheless, if Mr. Simmons is making absolute statements that are flat out wrong about things that can be easily verified on the 'net, then why should I trust his statements on much more complex issues of engineering, chemistry, biology, or any other subject?

Because he's an "expert"? There are lots of "experts" (of varying degree of expertise applicable to the situation) who disagree, so what makes his expertise better than all of the other expertise on display out there? Because he's trying to blow the lid off a coverup? Not good enough - so were the "Space Program was a Fraud, we never went" crowd.

If someone gets the simple, easy to verify items incorrect, why should I trust them on the big, hard to verify items? Basic logic, intuition, and simple problem solving techniques all say look elsewhere for good answers, and so I will.

sandiego, I am nothing like an engineer, geologist or drilling expert and I'm here only for a few days. IMHO you have a point here. And I'm not a conspiracy person, just really really sceptic, when it comes to what corporations decide to let us, the great unwashed, know.

Skepticism is always warranted. That does not mean, however, that you should accept any conjecture without evidence as fact because if is challenging what is known. In other words, because you do not trust corporations, does that therefore mean, that none of this is real or fact? Your distrust I am sure is understandable, but without limits, it leads you into other faulty logic -- that anything that opposes the corporation is necessarily correct and accurate. Also not true as a necessity.

sandiego asked

If BP is willing to pay university professors $250 per hour, how much are they willing to pay TOD “posters”?

The pay rate goes up every time someone repeats this aged story!

BP donated $500M to an open research program run by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) which is directed by an Independent Advisory Council.

They haven't offered me a bean, the bastards!

sandiego, I would treat anything Matt Simmons says about BP with some skepticism. He has a significant financial interest in the downfall of BP. Simmons is short several thousand shares of BP. I'd take anyone's opinion with a big grain of salt if they had thousand of shares of BP, long or short.


sandiego said

I think that Matt Simmons is probably correct

The trouble is that, in recent months, Matt Simmons said so many ludicrous things that I find it impossible to take him seriously.

For example: "When you inhale methane you just die." Let's face it, anyone who stands within a mile of a cow is inhaling (some) methane. Unless you qualify that statement it is meaningless. Air is 78% nitrogen, breath 100% nitrogen and you just die --> "breath nitrogen and you die". Even oxygen is fatal at a high concentration.

The page you reference has lake Simmons at 4500 feet deep, it used to be 400-500 feet deep (but the same diameter) - obviously the reporters are careless enough to make order-of-magnitude errors.

I think that Matt Simmons is probably not a well man.

sandiego, this is my reply since you mention me by name.

I am not a paid (or unpaid for that matter) shill for BP. I don't particularly care for BP and am certainly not their apologist. Just because I see Matt Simmons as peddling hokum doesn’t mean I approve of what BP did or would advocate for them. I will also try to debunk mis-information and outright lies when I see them if I have the ability to do so and that doesn't mean I support BP either. I will equally try to debunk any absurd position or statement made by BP as well.

For the most part, I persoanlly believe BP has already paid a dear price in treasure and lives for what we used to call a Charlie Foxtrot and I'm very certain they will pay much more and rightly so.

This doesn’t mean I have any sympathy for BP. However, I don't require their head on a pike either.

I have little doubt that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and convicted of whatever can be proved in a court of competent jurisdiction after being rigorously prosecuted and defended by be best investigative and legal minds both sides can afford. This is the way our system works. This event will impact them for years to come where it hurts the most; in their bottom-line, asset base and stock price. Some may lose their freedom to jail time and I have little doubt that some prosecutor(s) will at least try.

I don't generally believe in corporate conspiracies to do evil. I do see corporations breaking the law, bending the law and or ignoring the law at times. When this happens, hang the bastards. I also see good corporate citizens too.

In the place of conspiracies, I see complex highly-technical chains of events that can get really screwed up by mechanical failure, poor design, human error, negligence and even gross negligence. I often see at the root of the events, the failure to imagine just how bad things can get and therefore not have pre-planned countermeasures in place. I see this failure of imagination to be battled against as almost a universal truth as systems become more complex.

I am a single poster only presenting myself and my own views. I am here mostly to learn and will reciprocate where I can. I also have a long professional career and education background to be a critical thinker and principal investigator. I will present my own views and will post when I have something to contribute on something I know about or if have questions to ask as I learn.

I'm also minimally observant enough to know when someone is pissing on my boots and calling it rain.

New school of journalism, Off The Deep End Department:

Brief discussion about the high levels of methane found by the research vessels, http://geosciences.tamu.edu/communications/geosciences-highlights/at-the...,
linked to by the Drudge Report via the unconscionable

...levels only seen during mass extinction events

What are the levels?

A million times normal? Well normal is zero, so anything above that is an infinity times that.

Yes, I commented about this when it first came out. It is a very poor performance by someone professing to be a scientist. Saying a "million times background" is meaningless, and certainly not science. Relating that number to something meaningful (like a tolerable level, risky level, or similar) is useful. But blandly saying "million times background" is just pandering to the media, and by inference, pandering to what he considers his real constituency to be - political forces who will fund more work. Worse, there was never any followup. This is all we ever heard. Weeks later, no useful science has come out. (Conspiracy theorists will claim he has been got at. They always do.) I suspect that the science was not there from day one, and that it hasn't got any better. If there were truely worrying levels of methane it is clearly of acute importance to follow it up, and use the information to guide efforts, or minimally, guide expectations. But nothing. Weeks later, nothing.

Biologists find 'dead zones' around BP oil spill in Gulf ...
Jun 30, 2010 ... Methane at 100000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted ... ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen-depleted "dead zones" ... In a conference call with reporters, Samantha Joye, a scientist at the .... in the Gulf of Mexico? See our daily report: http://bit.ly/9qegNe ...
Gulf Oil Blog | Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, Oil Spill Research
By Samantha Joye | Published: June 20, 2010 9:54pm ... Reports of oxygen depletion in other parts of the Gulf are coming in as well. ..... Oxygen is depleted but it is not at dangerously low levels and we don't know the rate of .... The dissolved methane concentrations are higher than we've ever seen at comparable ...
Methane Levels Raise Concerns in Gulf | Chem.Info
Jun 18, 2010 ... In early June, a research team led by Samantha Joye of the Institute of Undersea ... and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent or more. ...

The thing to keep in mind is human’s have made a dead zone in the GOM. This has existed for years!


IMHO particularly nitrogen and phosphorous will act as food for the microbes that will eat the oil and naturally clean it up. The oxygen depletion is another matter.

I'd appreciate some feedback on whether or not this video is a definitive seafloor seep/leak, in the context of locating videos that provide solid examples of what real seeps look like:





Dive 53 video is good evidence, IMO. Thanks, Andrew.


I do not believe it is good evidence. Please see my comments in the previous thread, I'm not going to re-type everything twice in one day.


If you read back through the discussion last night, and this comment in particular, you might change your mind about that video.

I'm much more interested in the range of educated (if not expert) opinion on whether the following video shows: 1) material being forced up through some kind of rift in the sea floor, and 2) if that material matches all expectations for the appearance of oil?


(I know my questions are worded somewhat awkwardly, but I'm trying to find an undisputed example of a seep (natural or not) in the deep sea environment that can be used in an instructive way, to help non-pros (and the ill-informed) do a better job of identifying legitimate issues. It strikes me that it doesn't really help anyone to have a few million pairs of eyes staring at all these video feeds at all hours of the day without the level of knowledge needed to distinguish a serious issue from a spurious one. But armed with an increasing ability to identify leaks, all those pairs of eyes could be tremendously helpful, eh?

(Or maybe not. I'm very, very aware that I'm speaking as one of the least-informed people on practically all topics covered in this forum, as is evidenced by the conversation I started/joined last night....)

The USGS has some imaging of seafloor seeps in California on it's site, and they may have some video.

Interesting video. (the second one you linked to). Looks like silt billowing upwards. No gas bubbles, no oil appearance. Could be formation water. Do I think it's formation water? no, not enough evidence.

"Formation water": some sandstones have no oil, or gas, just saltwater. Could one end of a big sandstone be newly pressurized at one end, and be venting water from the upper end? Yes, in theory. That's all I got. :>]

To my thoroughly inexpert eye that looks like sediment being kicked up by the ROV.

Notice how it is almost exactly the same color as the ocean floor, where the oil as seen in videos from the well head is considerably darker and redder even when lightened by the addition of dispersants?

Rovman pointed out that the ROV's are weighted to be heavier than water, imagine that they are helicopters flying around the well head area in a dusty area. Think about the dust and miscellaneous junk they would be kicking up in that case. Then slow it down (a lot) for being in the water.

I saw both sediment-colored and oil-colored "anomalies" during my time watching the spill cams.

As somebody who has spent a *LOT* of time looking at ROV video lately, and a guy who is SCUBA certified, it looks like silt being kicked up by the rover. It is too fine . . . too dispersed . . .

Now if you want to see what a seep looks like check this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4S9uazWAB0 - a natural seep in the GOM . . . see the difference?

But that is just my opinion . . .

Wonderfully clear, thanks.


Thanks JRW

That is REAL oil seeping from the seabed. I would guess it could be at least 1 bpd, maybe several times that.

The comparison to all the video posts is obvious. Everyone who is convinced they are seeing oil and gas leaking from the ROV shots should review this against what they see.

In case this appears well down the page I will post his link again.


And it is nowhere near the BP blowout and is probably several years old and is a video of a natural seep.

Informative video...

Noticed that the natural seep is coming from a small fault....

Thank you very much. I've updated my initial entry accordingly. I hope pressing this hasn't been a complete waste of time, and for posterity's sake, I'll keep an eye on this thread until it closes, and will add any/all videos of indisputable oil seeps to this post:

Hopefully some of these videos will be useful references next time a novice asks for help.

A video of a methane vent in the GOM from 2007 (I hope I got the link to post correctly)

Link works...

Hard to tell if the "silt" in video is a hydrocarbon...

Silt in the video looks like the silt we're seeing on DWH seafloor.

Note that the co-ordinates change ie the ROV is moving ie the thrusters are, well, thrusting. Also please read rovman's excellent information about ROVs. Remember that there are lots of pipes, hoses, cables etc down there, a leak or disturbance in one of those would throw silt. There are lots of ROVs down there, a ROV a long way out of picture can send turbulence that can throw up silt. Let me put my divemaster hat on for a minute. It is very easy, no, VERY easy to stir up silt and sand from the bottom. That is why you always take a line when you enter a wreck. A couple of hundred divers, in a large quarry lake can reduced the visibility of the whole lake to arms length with the silt. Even fish and eels throw up silt. Bubbles from the sea bottom are quite normal I see them on every dive.

There would be ROVs monitoring it, plural, the last thing they want is for that to come up under their a$$e$. Pure survival instinct. Now stop getting people worried to punt your own agenda.


All I'm hoping for is a video of an indisputable seafloor oil seep, anywhere in the world, accidental or natural, to be used for an educational purpose. [Got it, thanks!]

I'm not here to agitate and I'm certainly not here to troll. If you think it is improper to advance this question in this forum, NOAM, I'll refrain from asking again.

I'd figure this one out for myself if I could, but given rovman's posts (more on them in a second) I see no utility in trying to wade through a pile of mud-and-muck (or-is-that-oil?) videos with nothing but my wits to go on.

Here's how I reached that conclusion:


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.


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.

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


I find it difficult to believe that there is a seeping shallow heavy oil or gas accumulation near Macondo. At a minimum it should have been mentioned in the MMS permit application as a possible geohazard.

It's also difficult to deny given all the seeps in the GOM. In my opinion the oil gusher isn't the real problem anymore. Which is a good thing. IMHO it's our legislators going forward.


"... Time is of the essence, as Reid has pledged to begin the energy debate the week of July 26. That would give Democrats two weeks to pass energy reform and confirm Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by the August recess, scheduled to begin Aug. 6. ..."

My guess is our grubberment will use his crisis to push its energy reforms and formulate a takeover similar to its health and financial reforms. Not only are TPTB going to ensure fuel costs and prices will permanently rise but my guess this winter our electrical grid will conveniently collapse for a while leading to a hastened bi-partisan implementation of a "smart" grid.

China and friends will want to buy a weakened BP which the US will refuse on grounds of national security. This will cause China and friends to increase the effort at destroying the US dollar bringing Geithner, Obama, et al into the fold of those of who want a one world currency... oh wait, they're already there. Oops. Sorry.

How many barrels of oil does it take to manufacture 380 billion plastic shopping bags each year? Are the the pro oil reactionaries really that worried Obama is going to take away their shopping bags?

The vast majority of petroleum is used for fuel, not making plastic bags, and at least in the US, natural gas provides much of the feedstock for the precursor chemicals that are used to make plastics.

Walter -- the answer is zero. Plastic shopping bags are made from natural gas. And thanks to the shale gas plays we'll have enough shopping bags for eternity

And that is an interesting fact that probably never would have occurred to those of us not in the industry.

Now there's an idea. Instead of flaring or complicated floating liquefaction plants, build floating plastic bag manufacturing plants. Turn the NG into bags, at source. An additional advantage is the when they get buried in land fills they are sequestrating the carbon. Two birds with one stone ;)


Bag plant skimmer ship? Made from a converted fish catching and processing ship.

BP isn't a US corporation. They could put pressure on the brits to turn it down, but refusal isn't within their jurisdiction.

National security isn't within the jurisdiction of the US gov't?

Ok, let me ask it this way, if China and friends try to buy BP will our gov't allow China to drill in and take GOM oil?

If China pursues BP will this lead to a near complete ban on offshore drilling so our gov't can appear to be even-handed?

If Geithner, Obama, and friends do in fact lead the US into a one world currency will the push for a unified one world economy require the US to share its oil without regard to national security?

right -- the feds will be more than glad to let China buy BP production in our OCS as well as let them drill if they follow our regs. Any foreign country is free to lease, drill and produce in our offshore waters. Petrobras, the Brazilian state owned oil company, is a major player in our OCS and has been for years. BTW: federal law doesn't allow OCS oil/NG to be shipped out of the country.

Ok, thanks RM. Like all things lately I guess we wait and see. Personally, I think major changes are coming soon regarding the oil industry and the US role on the world stage. This is such a great disaster for hte TPTB to not take advantage of but OTOH I guess I too am become a tinfoil hat citizen.

One thing I have grown in at this site is the respect I have for engineers. Frankly, unless I fell in some oil, I doubt I could have ever drilled a well in the right place much less model and predict its behavior with letters, symbols, and numbers. To do it at 5000 feet underwater is awe inspiriing. Thanks, gonna go burn some in celebration of cheap fuel. :)

right --I agree about change. No one can argue we we're prepared to deal with a failed BOP in 5,000' of water. That can be dealt with to a fair degree IMHO. Just takes more engineering/time/money. I'm surprised the public is still as strongly in favor of DW as the polls show. Not so much from the drilling standpoint but what it might show about their belief that more drilling can change the future of PO to any significant degree. As I mentioned earlier, I'm much more concerned about the long term aspects of PO than additional DW drilling. After a lot more pain and hardship the GOM will recover. I'm much less certain about our economy and country.

I'm wading into this morass to throw in a couple of points from the perspective of a health care professional. Rock, thanks for restating this important point on the relative importance and danger of the problems we face. And as a disclaimer, I live in Anchorage, so I have friends who work for and rely on paychecks from BP and other oil companies.

First a comment about anxiety. Anxiety in mild to low moderate levels can actually help us to sharpen our focus on details and short term crisis management and prepares us physically for fight or flight, with physical changes in all parts of our bodies. The problem with that is that sometimes short term focus prevents us from having perspective, especially when the level of anxiety increases. Our view gets narrower and narrower, or devolves into chaotic inability to function. Also, the primal reaction that stress invokes is not reversed by sitting in front of a computer arguing fine details about highly technical engineering problems in a place thousands of miles away. Modern man's reaction to anxiety does not diffuse the body's physical, chemical responses to stress, because we're not out fighting mastodons anymore. So my first suggestion to those here with increased heart rate and panic about ELEs is to put down the keyboard, get up, go put your running or hiking shoes on, and go out for a walk. Burn out all of those panic catecholamines that you've been building up in your bloodstream.

My second piece of advice is to take a step back from details, which is where the brain wants to go when stressed.

Are there probably trolls and shills here? Are the majority of new posters probably just intelligent folks looking for enlightenment on a highly technical subject? What's more important--that folks from BP are getting paid to disseminate pro-corporate information in an attempt to escape legal problems? Or that BP is singlehandedly trying to purchase the science for this crisis? Take a step back and view the crisis from the perpective of what's important over the longer time scale and larger perspective of what happens to our country.

Is BP most likely covering things up from day 1 to avoid legal consequences? Does their tune keep changing to suit reluctantly admitted new evidence? No seeps? Well, maybe seeps, but not mine? Is the pope Catholic?

Is the geology of the sea floor problematic and perhaps an accident waiting to happen? Didn't we know from Day 1 that the relief well might be the only fix, and that given the geology of the sea floor that even the relief well might be problematic? And is seepage natural and is the GOM ecosystem accustomed to handling small chronic seepage? Sure. So the issue is the volume, and avoiding doing further harm. Primum non nocere.

On this acute event, what's the worst that could happen? The relief well doesn't work and the well continues to leak around the casing. What about ELE and methane clouds and massive tsunamis? Come on, people. Use some sense. Matt Simmons is a 68 year old MBA from Harvard who has previously had good connections to scientists and people in the know. His knowledge base consists of $$$$ and Saudi oil from second hand sources. He's an investor, for pete's sake, with a previously well-connected ear to the ground. On recent interviews he looks old, fragile, and very anxious. Anything beyond mild anxiety has a way of disturbing rational thought, especially when combined with age. His information is from secondary and tertiary sources (read gossip). The BOP is 7 miles away? What about GPS? He recommends nukes on the basis of previously living in Nevada? That's the basis for his decision-making? What about nukes and the existing pipelines on the GOM floor, other wells, seafloor geology, and the methane problem, and heavily populated coastline? Can we do this without creating more harm? I never have understood the deification of money managers in our culture, and it frankly scares me a bit when I consider what it means for our future with renewable energy, which is the real issue.

So, with an eye on the big picture, what is the worst danger that could come out of the GOM this year? Well, since we've already trashed the ecosystem in general, my fear is that we trash the coastline with a hurricane. Frankly, there, I'm praying to the weather gods for lack of a better alternative. My other major concern is that we continue to make things worse with large scale technology fixes. That we listen to people like Simmons about nukes, or to people who think dispersants are a fine solution to the problem, or to those who think we need to change the direction of the Mississippi. The reason I'm wading in here is because I see too many people in these open threads who still think technology is going to save us.

Check your heart rate, folks. If its up, go for a walk. Take one step back and look at the larger scale. Open a physics book and start reading, maybe. Pray to the weather gods--it can't hurt. And be kind to Mother Nature, in hopes that she is up to the cleanup in the GOM, because the mess is too big for mere humans to fix at this point.

Nice comment. Too many people make too much money based on keeping a segment of the population terrified. That is what scares me the most :) I don't know if you can reach people that have been pushed that far out on the ledge.

There are certainly conspiracies at work, but just the normal run of the mill corruption and money and power kinds, performed in the barely competent manner that typify most human endeavors. Those are really bad enough; I'm not sure we need the Illuminati level nonsense that seems to pervade chat boards. People don't get outraged by the obvious conspiracies in business and government, but flip out over the crazy stuff.

If there was a problem in the well, would it seep? I would think that any seep would quickly become a major leak as the leaking channel or fissure would quickly expand under almost 7,000 psi. Was the seep already there? I doubt that they surveyed the area before the well was drilled as closely as they are surveying it now.

Some dumb questions for you oil field pros out there:

Dumb Question #1

If one could look into the shut-in well right now, would there be a liquid-gas interface between the natural gas and the oil? Or would all the methane be in solution in the oil and the oil would be clear to the top of the closed valve?

I am thinking it must be the latter, as I see oil weeping from the flange and forming the 'crude sickle' and I am not seeing any bubbles. (Referring to my post at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6747#comment-681370 showing the build-up of asphaltene above the leak. )

Dumb Question #2

How come nobody talked about early on in the accident recovery, of just pinching closed the riser with the claw (fitted with some blunt blades), or just welding the riser shut everywhere where it was leaking. Surely the ROVs can use cutting torches to cut and weld. I think if it had been my well, I would have gone to the end where the syphon was located and tried to obstruct the flow. One would think that as the the oil cooled as it went through a mile or so of riser pipe, it would have formed those 'crude sickles' structures, along with perhaps hydrates, that would have further obstructed flow.

Thanks in advance for your patience.

james -- There should be a NG/oil contact somewhere in thcsg. NG came out of solution (2,000 - 3,000 cubic ft/bbl) as the pressure was reduced. One could calc an estimate but so many assumptions are required I'm not sure how accurate it would be. OTOH I'm not if that info would be of any practical value.

There was a lot of chatter about sealing the riser but I think the ultimate consensus was that it could be done sufficiently.

I'm guessing that natural gas would eventually separate and bubble up and there would be an interface between the oil and the natural gas some distance below the top of the well. Is that what you mean by NG/oil contact?

Would it be possible to bleed off the NG through the choke? Wouldn't that reduce the pressure -- and stress -- on the wellhead and casings?

I'm not in the business, but from what I have read, the pipe used is so hardened that it would crack and break before it compressed. As to the 'crude sickles' I would think that the crude sticks to the sides of the pipe ( and gas doesn't) and then the pressure causes it to ooze out.

James, pinching the end of the pipe would certainly have been an option worth trying. They would first have to patch the smaller crack where the pipe was crimped from the fall. They would also have to stuff the end of the riser with some soft plastic material, so it would seal around the old drill pipe.

For discussion of this topic, and other alternatives, see http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout.

For a lot of reasons I don't think you could have crimped it tight against the pressure with one or two drill pipes inside but this is irrelevant. As has been discussed here so many times, while there was fear that the well was damaged underground, the last thing that was wanted was an irremovable total block, especially one applied suddenly that could cause a water hammer effect and burst an already weakened casing.

The only thing I could see that looked like a sickle was the overlapping shadows of a round object caused by the 2 lights on the ROV. It might help if you circle what you are talking about in the picture.

Crimping the riser would have over pressurised the riser as it is only built to handle low pressures(compared to well pressure that is). Crimp it and it would burst.


The 'crude sicle' is the brown thing hanging from the upper part of the flange. It kinda reminds me of a honey comb. In the video you see little droplets of oil rise and hit the thing, and it is growing in size.

Check out the older video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOzfxoVURU0 . . . then look at the current feed at http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in... - the bottom of the 'crude sicle' is now down almost to the bottom of the shiny pipe.

Compare the current feed with the 8:00 EST screen grab below at

Here are two screen grabs: The first was at 8:00 EST . . .

The second is at 12:54 EST . . .

Both of these were taken from the feed at

See how much the 'crude sicle' on the left has grown while the one on the right has eroded some.

Thanks, I wouldn't have seen those as sickles,I was under the impression you meant the shadow about 1/2 way down on the RHS. The difference in the 2 views is interesting. This looks like residue from when the cap was on, there was an awful lot of gunky stuff around.


The net pressure would be 6778 - 2520 = 4258. What is the rating on the pipe? Might be worth a try. Nothing to lose.

A better solution would have been to clamp a new riser on to the end of the old one. See topic "How to connect a new riser pipe" at http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout.

You mean the 'let's blow up another rig' method. How do you build a riser? From a rig. How is it suspended when you put it in place? From the rig. Where does all the oil and gas go from the well? Up the riser. What is on top of the riser? The rig.


NAOM, it sounds to me like you just wanting to start a flame war.

Any reason the riser couldn't be suspended with underwater pontoons? If a rig right above the riser is necessary, any reason the flow couldn't be diverted sideways to a safe distance?

Anyone who is interested in these questions, can join us at http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout. TOD is not the right forum for extended technical discussions.

No flame war, it's just I get a little ticked off with the same poorly supported (!pun) argument coming up time and again. If you are going to post it here then you need to address the basic issues of support, buoyancy, pressure, volume, ignition etc etc. No, I am not coming over to your group, just suggesting that any idea you post here shows a little bit of thought process.


Well, for someone who is not an oilman, getting "ticked off" at a suggestion you don't understand sounds pretty arrogant. Asking that every suggestion answer in advance any question you might have is a little unrealistic. Let's start over. I made a suggestion. Let's assume your questions were more civil. Then I would answer - how about we suspend the riser with underwater pontoons? I know, there are lots of questions about that, how to attach cables, etc., but I'll wait until they are asked before writing a long essay.

As for the same argument coming up again, I don't think this particular suggestion was made. In any case, we have such a short window to discuss things, that we can't seem to finish any discussion. That's the reason for a well-designed forum. Discussions can go on for as long as necessary, and they don't get lost in a flood of irrelevant chatter.

docellen, you're mighty quick to ascribe bad motives to people who don't immediately accept your ideas. Please lighten up.

This started with NAOM getting "ticked off" (his words). I responded by saying it *seemed* like he wanted to start a flame war. He said, not, I accepted. We should be back on a better track now. I agree we shouldn't ascribe bad motives (or ignorance) to those who disagree with us. Let's see if we can all be more civil.

He is just trying to explain that if you connect another riser onto the blow out well WITHOUT getting the well under control you would immediately have a second rig explosion and fire like DWH.

OK, I guess you didn't like my suggestion of suspending the riser with underwater pontoons instead of a rig. How about we use the rig, but instead of letting the oil and gas flood all over it, how about diverting it to the side, well away from the rig? This could be done underwater, away from any waves at the surface. I can imagine a long pipe with TEE connectors every 500 feet or so, and a valve to a flexible hose. Then, if there is a ship able to handle some of the flow, hook it up. If not, let it burn. Surely this is better than releasing it at the bottom.

I see we are about to lose our thread. Let's continue at http://groups.google.com/group/stop_blowout.

If you go look at your Hos ROV 1 live link http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:30948.asx?bkup=35246 you can see bubbles emanating from the bottom joint. They appear to separate from little fingers, and travel up to join up with the brown mass in the center. Watching the bubbles, some seem to 'catch' on their trip up on greyish marks on the surface, and then a larger bubble pops up. Where they connect you can see some of them bounce along the edge and growing the coverage. This does not appear to my untrained eye as a "sicle" as there seems to be no seepage from the top. (This is as of 11:50CDT)

That depends entirely on the bubble point of the oil.

From the previous thread now closed,
about location and why the Euro ROVs have had to convert to feet in location marks:
Yes, it is a very standard procedure to use the measurement system for location on the globe in whatever geodetic datum the area was surveyed in. The parts of the Gulf Of Mexico close to shore were laid out before the 1983 surveys got formalized, and therefore uses the older NAD27 (from 1927) and the directions for north are most likely going to be "grid north" or whatever north is assigned for the datum (in this case the NAD27). The grid units are US Survey feet. Converting over the projection to meters is possible, but very impractical. The projection here is UTM, and in this case 16N.

I deal with onshore wells along the Gulf Coast, and while some surveyors use NAD83, many oil companies like (and insist) using NAD27. The reason for that is, you'd have to convert the old well spots to the new, and there's often some mistrust of conversion (although there shouldn't be) but nobody wants to be caught with well spots in different projections and a misplaced well that impacts you legally or financially.

Separate topic, but related: There is a well that was indeed drilled in the wrong spot in offshore Texas. It was drilled so many feet (like 500') from the East line of the Federal Lease Block when it should have been drilled 500' from the West line of the block. They got to around 1100' in depth before someone noticed the difference and the rig was ordered to stop and move to the proper location.

I have the pleasure of working for a company where the paper maps are in NAD27 (some of them date back to 1930 or so and the hardcopy is on linen) and many of the electronic maps (and all of the GIS files, AFAIK) are in NAD83. The software can handle the conversion automagically, I'm told, but we don't generally have to deal with both at once.

Adding to the fun is that GPS is based on WGS84 (ITRF 2005) which is not the same as the original WGS84 which was the same as NAD83. NAD83 has been updated to NAD83(CORS96). Throw in elevations based on NGVD29 which was replaced by NAVD88 both of which are similar to (but not equal to) Mean Sea Level. Of course hand held GPS rcvrs use an interpolated version of GEOID09 (or older) to estimate the elevation from the WGS84(ITRF 2005) but from a coarse grid of 1 degree or worse.

Isn't Geodesy fun! Try getting a bunch of charts and surveys from different times and organizations to match up to less than 6" or so (ideally about 1/2").

Back in the day - i was trained that if I had to radio in a Medevac request to not only give the location - but also how I determined that location. The responding aircrew would then navigate to your location using the same technique you used.

Last para: ooopsy!

A question. I have noted that BOA 1 & 2 seem to show 9-11 metres altitude when they appear on the bottom. Is this right or they sitting at a virtual bottom that height up. TIA.


BTW I thank all those who have answered questions before but I don't do a 'thanks' reply to keep clutter down, not to be rude. Please accept that I am grateful for your answers. Meant to say that for a while.

Sorry if this was already addressed and I missed it, but isn't there a difference from a seep which could be a natural seep versus a leak?

Howdy BeachMom,
Since the real experts aren't posting any thoughts, I thought I'd chime in. There is pretty good reason to think that a pre-existing seep could be distinguished from an oil well leak. A pre-existing seep would have been in place for some time (years, at a realistic minimum). As such, the more soluble components would have leached away, leaving a deposit that was tar-like. In contrast, a fresh leak from the well would have chemical characteristics nearly identical to the stuff recovered from the leaking well, especially if you could get a robot to dig into the leak just a little. Also, the surface of a pre-existing leak should be colonized with marine oil-consumering bacteria and organisms that live on these bacteria. At these temperatures, I doubt that such a community could form in just a few hours-to-days.

Look at it as water. A spring is a seep, water runs out from between rocks, mostly gently and lasting a long time with little damage. A leak can be thought of as a hole in a water main, a nice gusher making a widening hole and washing stuff away (saw one the other day with a JCB working, TOD is getting to me as I wondered what happened to the BOP - duh!). With the pressure the well is under a leak would get worse quickly and there would be no gentlness about it. The pressure at the well head is more than 2x my scuba tanks.


From a previous thread:

gavacho on July 19, 2010

I'm curious about the geological effect of lowering the reservoir pressure through depletion. ... 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?


According to Wikipedia the Sidoarjo mud flow / Sidoarjo mud volcano has been flowing at about 30,000 m³/day. It started in May 2006. Other statements in that article place the flow rate at 100,000 m³/day since late 2008. Subsidence is somewhere between 0.5 and 14.5 m, (per year???). This flow is unconstrained by piping since the eruption to the surface occurred outside of the well bore of the drilling operation.

With that as a comparison, BP Macondo spews somewhere between 6359 to 9539 m³/day, depending on actual flow rate. (40K bbls to 60K bbls)

Do keep in mind that the geological settings for the two sites are completely different, and that the depths of the sources are likely different. But that should give you a really rough idea of how much more would be needed to cause some sort of seismic event or subsidence. BP Macondo is was flowing at somewhere betwteen 6% to 32% of the ongoing Sidoarjo mud spew.

flex-joint leak on HOS Super H ROV1

been watching it myself..

Not it's not a flex joint leak. It's coupling on new stack about where it was banged hard during installation. Does not seem to be a major concern as tests continue.

Didn't you already post a link to that site? But whatever, I'm having trouble viewing the video...can somebody tell me what happened(or didn't)? Thank you.
Anyways, how far is Thad's leak? I may have recalled someone here saying it was about 1.3 miles from the well head.

Direct link http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:30948.asx

Thad's "seep" is "a distance from the well" so could be in another galaxy for all we know.

Or http://www.bp.com/sectionbodycopy.do?categoryId=9034366&contentId=7063636 for BP feed wall

Low resource still feed wall (updated once per minute) also at http://data.plan9.de/akamai-bp-streams.html - click any image for video

Forgetting about the seafloor, the pipes, and the BOP, the main assertion Matt Simmons is making that should be of serious concern is the subject of methane in a hurricane. I think everybody agrees that there is a great deal of methane dissolved in oil which is deep and cold at the moment. (or is that not of general agreement?)

He claims that a hurricane will bring a sudden upwelling of the deep oil plumes and a subsequent release of methane as it hits shallow warmer waters...enough methane to kill coastal inhabitants.

I do not have the faintest idea what happens in a CAT 5 with deep ocean water. Is he correct, or will the deep plumes remain stationary?


I doubt that's true because if that were to happen there is no way BP can possibly cover it up, I mean can you explain to me what could be said in their defense if such an event where to occur?

The effects of even a Cat 5 hurricane are limited to less than the first 500 feet of depth. There is virtually no effect at 5,000 feet.

Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground discussed the possible effects of a major hurricane in great detail in the early days of this drama.

Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground discussed the possible effects of a major hurricane in great detail in the early days of this drama.


Geo Washington at Zero Hedge has some good science today re methane plumes


I would doubt it for several reasons, mainly concentration.

Not having at my immediate disposal the lethal concentration of methane in air, I would be surprised if enough methane has been released from the Macondo well overall to attain a lethal concentration across a well-mixed, 200 mile wide, hurricane (approx. 8.5*1015cf assuming only 10K feet of mixing from the surface).

Much of what has been released was already flared, what wasn't flared is split between being already dispersed in the atmosphere and underwater. The portion dispersed underwater would somehow need to be reconcentrated by the storm, and a sufficient quantity would need to come out of solution at the surface quickly enough to attain dangerous concentrations over a few hours while being mixed by 75MPH+ winds.

All this implies that the concentration of methane in the water itself would need to be sufficient to be actively toxic to all marine life within the effected volume (since it would need to have a toxic concentration after being dispersed into the air).

Since we do not have reports of the mother of all fish-kills washing endless schools of fish up on Gulf Coast beaches, I wouldn't be too concerned about the methane hurricane scenario.

About the only thing I can find via the MSDS for Methane is: Methane is inactive biologically and essentially nontoxic; therefore, the majority is the
exclusion of an adequate supply of oxygen to the lungs.

But it does list the LEL (lower explosive limit) is 5%.

Using your volume of ≈ 8.5 x 1015cf and assuming an 87% methane composition of Natural gas, projecting the average 2307.1 cf natural gas per barrel of oil collected over a 60,000 bbl flow rate... for 88 days, gives a methane concentration of ≈ 0.000143%.

That is if it all stayed conveniently in place for the hurricane to come pick it up and ignite it. Just a wee bit shy of the concentration needed for it to explode.

The dissolved methane plumes seem to be in the range of 5 parts per million or so. That's in the range of a teaspoon (if the methane were liquid, maybe a standard balloon) in a tank car.

No big bubbles, and if that dilute methane were released into the air, it would just mix down to a still lower concentration.

If I missed it, my apologies. But, have you, sir, ever presented your credentials? And since, it appears that your thesis of "massive leaks" 6km distant, "methane volcanoes", and death to the GoM are, apparently, plagiarized, why should anyone take anything that you write, sir, with any confidence?

Pray tell.

I'd be a bit more sympathetic, he's most likely concerned and probably a little cynical too, my advise to him would be let the experts do their job, because it's their job...

Perhaps, and maybe I missed it, but he was repeatedly ask to defend his argument, and to provide his credentials, several weeks ago- he ignored all pleas.

Cut him some slack? Nah, I don't think so...

It was his irrational and illogical posts, at least partially, that has led to so much anxiety among people concerned about the blowout.

Pipe it to shore, deplete the reservoir. Dredge the sea floor. Done.

No, dougr, I am not going over to your site to give you clicks.


A thread was closed before I could reply to this comment...so I'll pick it up here:

"There's no "decline curve" because the initial rate wasn't measured. All you have in one data point. The well productivity may have changed over time, therefore a rate now doesn't provide all the information. Furthermore, it's not safe to open the well, unless it's vented to the ocean, because it seems to lack the proper ESD system. Which means when the rate is tested, it's not the real rate anyway, because some of the oil would be escaping to the sea."

The original pressure of the producing formation must have been know to determine mud weight while drilling. The current pressure of the formation is known from the current shut-in test. Two pressure points and current rate of production, should give a pretty good indication of total oil spilled when pressure vs production is plotted. Decline curves from similar Gulf Coast reservoirs could be fitted, if applicable. If an accurate rate of production can't be determined at this point, then one of the relief wells could be used to test the rate of production.

How much oil was produced during the spill is becoming the billion dollar question.

I suspect Thad Allen chieved exactly what he wanted. BP no longer has him in a box.

To me it seems he's recently gotten a lot smarter and tougher or he's getting more direct orders from someone who is.

First time posting here, great site.

To me the government stepping up visibility and creating an "us versus them" is a clear sign this is not going well. Everyone wants to be on a team when they are winning but the minute it appears a loss might present itself as a reality individuals/organizations will posture for cover. In this example, we are seeing the government lay the foundation to accuse BP of failing to react properly OR provide notification should a worse case event occur.

Yes ordered to start a panic. Brilliant strategy. You call that smart?

I watched this feed for a while and monitored the N/E coordinates. The ROV was moving pretty quickly & covered several hundred feet with virtually no change in the appearance of the 'bursts', so I would infer that they are due to the ROV thrusters and not any kind of seepage. I saw generally similar behavior a few days ago and shortly afterwards that ROV was on its tender, so perhaps it is just moving out of the wellhead area to avoid getting tangled in all the other congestion as it surfaces.

"I suspect Thad Allen chieved exactly what he wanted. BP no longer has him in a box."

I agree totally that the primary intent of this letter is to get the gov't out of the box.

It's like when your wife says "Are you sure you haven't missed the turn?" If she really was sure that you had missed the turn she would have said something like "You frakin' idiot, you missed the turn again. Why can't you ever just stop and ask directions .....". What she really is doing by expressing SINCERE CONCERN that you MAY have missed the turn is absolving herself of responsibility for the error should it turn out that you DID miss the turn, and setting things up for a fine "I told you so". (Note to wife: I refer to other people's spouses, not you, dear.)

As HO pointed out at the top, whoever is perceived by the court of public opinion (CPO) to be responsible for making the decision is really in a bind. If the well is kept shut and something bad happens as a consequence, then the COP will want to hang the person who decided to keep the well shut in. However, deciding to reopen the well in any way that allows oil to leak into the GOM without incontrovertible evidence that this was necessary is also a hanging offence. Thus, whoever is in charge of making decisions can only hope and pray that things go completely smoothly from here, 'cause if they don't there's no decision on how to handle the situation that will satisfy the COP.

The thing about Admiral Allen's letter that irritates me somewhat is the clear statement that some kind of seepage has been known by BP and the gov't but not disclosed to the public ("Thad's seep", I think someone called it yesterday; I hope that moniker sticks). If it's important enough to be a major part of the basis for the Admiral's concern, then shouldn't we have been given the relevant info? Hopefully, it will turn out to be a natural seep at a comfortable distance from the well that predated the blowout.

It's interesting, in a depressing sort of way, to watch the game of cat and mouse between BP and the gov't unfold.

We just got back from Apalachicola Florida where the Mayor made an urgent plea for attention from BP and The White House.
We posted a 10 minute video on how residents are being affected. You can view it here. http://www.savergulf.com/the-forgotten-coast-our-rep.html

Hopefully they stop the oil before it hits that beach or do any more harm.

We just got back from Apalachicola Florida where the Mayor made an urgent plea for attention from BP and The White House.
We posted a 10 minute video on how residents are being affected. You can view it here.

I guess you already sent this to BP and are posting it here to enlist support for your plight?

Unfortunately there are too many 10-minute videos posted here for many people to view them.
I'd be more likely to view it if I had a better idea of it's content.

Any chance you could post a short list of the main points?

Yeah, but I don't want to get tossed off the board. Here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&fo...

there's a reason that engineers and geos don't always get along....

Do you mean because self-promoting losers like Chris Landau call themselves geologists?

AFAIK the formation pressure was supposedly 13,366. Subtract two miles of oil and you get about 9000 psi wellhead pressure. That is a shortage of about 2300 psi vs. the observed 6700.

While the referenced article's math is off by a factor of 4 or so there is a valid concern that the discrepancy is due to leaks in the well bore. An alternate explanation is that formation damage and depletion of the reservoir accounts for the decreased pressure.

This is why BP and the Coast Guard are running seismic surveys, and watching for evidence of leakage.

I think 13,366 is formation depth in feet, not formation pressure. Try 11,900psi, which was the measured pressure BEFORE the blowout.


This is where I obtained the formation pressure of 13,366.


STA -- Your source is correct but the misled you a little. A MW of 14 ppg would give you a bottom hole pressure of 13,300...not a reservoir pressure. You can do the calc yourself: psi = MW (ppg) * 0.052 * mud column height (feet). But you always drill with a MW higher than reservoir pressure. This is the primary method to prevent the well from blowing out. BP did drill the reservoir with 14 ppg mud. But they ran a pressure gauge (MDT) that measured 11,900 psi in the reservoir. Back calculate and that's eqaul to a 12.6 ppg. It would be normal to drill 1 or 2 ppg ovebalanced. Had they drilled this well with mud at the same pressure as the reservoir it probably would have blown out when the drilled it.

paintdancer: very interesting,indeed

I`m only a telecom engineer but, coincidentally, lost some time yesterday calculating in the same manner as Chris Landau and reached the same conclusion.

I would like to know what's wrong with our mathematics.

Chris Landau made up the key number he used (drilling mud 2X the density of seawater) and doesn't explain the rest of his assumptions. There was no need to use a hypothetical number for the initial pressure when the actual number had been published.

Not knowing the right mud density I also choose to use 2x water, what would the correct density be?
It is very simple to make this correction, I don't think it would make a great difference. And I don't think it would be necessary to explain the rest of his assumptions, they`re nothing more than elementary physics.

The mud weight isn't needed to calculate the initial reservoir pressure because the pressure was measured directly (about 11900 PSI).

Chris Landau has no idea what he is talking about. Not only is he using too heavy of a drilling mud but his calculations go a little something like this:

Reservoir pressure - wellhead pressure = leakage

Hydrostatic head much?

It's pretty amazing how sealed this well is. Look at the BOP, a ~4,600 PSI differential (6,800 internal vs 2,200 external), and you only have afew microscopic methane bubbles around some joints. Some impressive engineering given the conditions.

And realistically, this whole concept of a "seep" afew football fields from the BOP has to be natural. I believe the reservoir pressure was initially read at ~12,000psi by the Horizon. If you take 6,800psi + 4,500psi (the pressure from the weight of 13,000ft oil in the pipe with specgrav of 0.80), then you really are only short ~500 psi, max.

I can't legitimately expect 500psi being anywhere near enough to push gas and oil thru 1-3 miles of bedrock, let alone 300 yards laterally as well. If there was a weakness, the easiest path for the g&o would be around the casing right under the BOP, which hasn't occured. Bedrock splitting pressure is on the order of volcanic activity, which is on the order of MILLIONS of psi, not thousands.

just an interested engineer's point of view.

What is the source of the 300 yard distance estimate?

the source was someone in a prior post calculating the distance between ROVs from the BOP and the one that was listed as "gas monitoring" via their coordinates.

Now some people on here are saying officials are claiming it to be 2 miles away. So anyone's guess...


Late yesterday, the government's point man -- retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen -- said a seep was detected near the ruptured well. And in a sharply worded letter, he demanded that BP increase its monitoring. White House energy adviser Carol Browner tells CBS that the seep was found less than two miles from the well site.

On CNN International she said "about 3km from well"

3 KM = 1.5 miles??

Sign outside Milwaukee used to say:
Chicago 100 KM - 50 Miles

Edit above:

3 KM = approx 2 miles..

(Probably having a senior moment with road sign memory)

Try again with a specific gravity of 0.6. Liquid methane has a specific gravity of .422 and roughly 40% of the well flow is methane, not higher MW fractions. This would make the weight of the head about 1000 psi lighter than your estimate and the shortfall about 1500 psi.

Crude has a specific gravity of 0.90 on the low end. Mehtane makes up 40% of the flow by the time it reaches the surface, which by then has expanded something like 100x, (pv=nrT). Assuming a specgrav of 0.80 should be a conservative approximation of the volume mix of natgas and crude averaged across the well pipe.

Methane makes up 40% of the flow by the time it reaches the surface.

Actually, by the time it's flared (e.g. at the surface) there's about 2300 cf methane / bbl of oil. That's a bit more than "40% of the flow" by volume, which is what matters.

At pressures in the reservoir and well column methane on its own would be in a supercritical fluid state with from 1-3 bbl of methane (specific gravity from 0.1 to 0.3) per bbl of oil. In previous posts there were long discussions of what the net density of a mix of oil and superfluid methane would be with no clear answer; it's pretty clear the volume taken up by 1 bbl methane + 1 bbl oil would be <= 2 bbl, but it's not clear how much. On the other hand, I think the numbers for the amount of methane are so compellingly large that you can't neglect the effect of methane on the density of the oil-methane mixture.

The more methane in the oil column, the less dense the oil, and hence the more missing pressure (which may still be due to reservoir depletion) has to be accounted for.

If the downwell mixture of .8 density oil and ~.2 density supercritical (liquid) methine is 1:1, then the average is 2 divided by 1, or .5 average density.

BUT no one knows the real mix, which could range from .8 (pure oil) to .2 (mostly liquid methane) SO the mysterious difference in the pressure at wellhead, 6782 psi (gauge or ambient, take your pick) instead of 7-9000 could be variations occurring as a result of fast flow stopping, gas bubbles, some heavy mud stuck somewhere down pipe (lava lamp syndrome).

We don't know. We don't know. We don't know.

Got it? It isn't a conspiracy. We just DON'T KNOW.


You make a good point, but you may want to try to look at the Gulf Geology a bit closer.

Simplifying a bit, this portion of the Gulf is made up of a depositional sedimentary environment. Through out different ages, the transport energy of currents vary so that at times of low energy, fine particles fall out of suspension from the water forming thick layers of soft fine mud with clay content. When times change, the environment becomes higher energy which allow only coarse larger layers to collect. Through a sequence of changes, different stratigraphic layers develop, to form classic, sand/shale sequences. The fine mud and silt get compressed and transform into siltstone, mudstone and shale. The sands get compressed and more consolidated to transform into sandstone.

The various layers of sandstone have a high degree of porosity (30% is not uncommon) and permeability which allow fluids to flow through the pore spaces. The permeability for gas would be much greater than for oil.

In theory, every sand layer could be in communication with the sea floor at some point, which would cause the pressure of the fluid in the sand to be roughly at hydrostatic pressure. When changes occur which cut off the communication with the sea floor, the overburden pressures of all of the layers above it cause the sand's fluid pressure to increase. If would make sense then that shallower sands would be at or near hydrostatic pressures, while much deeper sands such as the pay zone in the wild well are at much greater pressures.

Just as a thought experiment, suppose the wild well has breached it's casing, and that channeling occurs outside the casing to withing a couple of hundred feet of the surface. The shallowest casing was likely washed in and had good cement, so oil/gas does not escape by leaking out near the well head. However, let's imagine a well defined sand at maybe 300'. Perhaps it is only 5' or 6' thick, at normal pressure for the depth. Oil and gas could reach that sand and easily migrate outward in an attempt to charge that sand's pressure. If there is some communication with seafloor, the oil and gas could migrate toward that point. So at a small fault or discontinuity, the gas and oil could find it's way, even if it were some distance from the well head. In this way, you could get flow without the need to fracture bedrock. The first indications could be an increased flow of the connate water in the sand (stirred up sediment), followed by the gas, which is more mobile that the oil, then the oil itself.

My take which is not probably worth much, is that will the well head was flowing, the flow would have followed the path of least resistance. Once the well is capped, if there was casing damage and fluid could move closer to the surface at a higher pressure, it would manifest itself as slow leaks bubbling from the floor, indistinguishable from natural seeps, where the distance would be a function of the geology, where the shallow sands would exist,etc. The use of seismic would be good to indicate shallow gas if it started migrating across a shallow sand, etc. The pressure of the shut in well would also be a good indicator. If it were not high enough to completely contain the well, it would indicate that it is charging a shallower formation some where.

Overall, I don't have enough information to know what is going on, but to me it is at least conceivable that a leak could be occurring.


Thanks, ej. That helps clarify one of the possibilities I've been envisioning—one that suggests we should not be too sanguine about "seeps" in the vicinity of the wellhead.

Release date: 19 July 2010

BP today provided an update on developments in the response to the MC252 oil well incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

Subsea Source Control and Containment BP continues to work cooperatively with the guidance and approval of the National Incident Commander and the leadership and direction of federal government including the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Federal Science Team, Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard and secretaries Ken Salazar and Steven Chu. At this time, the well integrity test on the MC252 exploratory well continues.

During the test, the three ram capping stack has been closed, shutting in the well. All sub-sea containment systems (namely, the Q4000 and Helix Producer systems) have been temporarily suspended.

The pressure inside the well recently has been measured at approximately 6,792 pounds per square inch and continues to rise slowly. As directed by the National Incident Commander, extensive monitoring activities are being carried out around the well site. Information gathered during the test is being reviewed with the government agencies, including the Federal Science Team, to determine next steps. Depending upon the results of the test and monitoring activities, these steps may include extending the well integrity test or returning to containment options.

Full Update:


Heading Out notes:

But the pressure can be lowered relatively rapidly over the course of time (a matter of minutes not days, in the same way that the flow was cut-off to the Gulf) so there may be some other issues that are not yet being made public. After all, with the cap holding some intermediate pressure, it is not necessary to vent fluid into the Gulf, as flow is allowed to the surface collection vessels, in a condition that would lower the well pressure from the current levels without putting oil into the water.

This sums up something that has been troubling me since the successful installation of the capping stack. I understand why one might want to pressurize the well to determine the integrity of the casing, but once a stable pressure was achieved, why not go immediately to containment into surface vessels -- which would have been fully configured for this purpose while the capping stack was being installed and the pressure test run?

Someone noted that it would not be advisable to connect these vessels directly to the well via risers because there they cannot handle any unexpected surges of gas. I thought that controlling the flow was one of the purposes of the rams on the new capping stack.

Even if it is not possible to connect one or more risers to the top of the capping stack, can't the choke and kill line connections be used to reduce pressure in the well and their flow be controlled by their valves? I imagine this to be similar to the practice of opening valves slowly in a pressurized steam system so as not to shock the piping with a sudden surge of pressure and temperature.

I know there are various political and conspiracy theories about BP not wanting to have a measure of the actual flow of the well because of potential fines being assessed based upon the quantity of oil discharged into the Gulf. But that seems to miss the point that in any event this number is almost certainly to be negotiated. (It is a "big stick" for the US government, but once the stick is big enough to inflict irreparable damage to the company, it's less the size of the stick than the force with which it is wielded that will count.)

It seems to me that the risk of turning any minor damage to the well into major damage far outweighs the risk imposed by using surface containment to reduce the well's internal pressure.

Finally, it would be appreciated if someone could explain the "bottom kill" procedure using the relief well. Does the weight of injected mud push down from the interception point or does some of it get pushed upward in the original well? Would the top of the well be opened as part of this process or does to column of pressurized oil and gas above the interception point contribute to the force of the injected mud? Once the bottom kill is completed, will there still be oil and gas contained between the cement plugs at the bottom and at the top? Or must this be displaced by some other fluid like mud? If it is to be displaced, is it collected or just discharged?

Once again, my thanks to everyone for putting up with my naive questions and for taking the time to contribute to my lay-person's engineering education.

Remember, previous to the test, the well was flowing lots of oil at a BOP inlet pressure of 4400 psia.

To reduce the level of current shut-in presure of 6700 psi, they have to take a lot of oil again.

But apparently, BP did not install a variable, high speed control capacity into the current capping stack, making it an all or nothing proposition as far as oil collecting is concerned. And since they are now hard coupled to the well (unlike the leaky cap before), they will claim they can't safely collect the oil until there is ample capacity topside to take the entire flow. Which now they don't have.

BP has helpfully reduced the government choice to a binary decision. Checkmate.

How do you kow 53k bopd is not enough to capture all the flow?

I don't. That's BP's position - currently, there is not enough topside capacity to capture all the flow.

How convenient. They've had a month to get it set up.

Actually they never said the 53 k is not enough even though reporters have asked. They have stated it would take a couple days to get the three systems up to the 53 K.
Only Allen has said several times he though 35 K BOPD was probable.

There's a valve on the new capping stack's choke port that was used to perform the final shut-in gradually. There's no production line connected to that valve right now, but there could be. And such valves could be added to the BOP's choke and kill lines, if such valves are not already present in the manifold on the sea floor through which those lines are connected.

A couple of quick points...

The pressure on the wellhead even shut in are pretty modest at less than 6,800psi and are not putting undue strain on any of the equipment on top of the well at that pressure. Even with the well open at the top and defiling the Gulf at a horrendous rate, there was still about 4,400psi at the well head. It is not like opening up the well again will reduce the pressure to zero.

The containment itself the way it is done is a very dangerous operation putting many lives at risk and having a large risk of additional oil spills. Every one of those containment ships is at high risk for explosion and fire in their environment. So going back to containment "to be safe" isn't really such a safe option.

Something else... We have been blessed with a couple of weeks of calm weather that have enabled work that has resulted in the spill being halted. But this is hurricane season, and as I type there are already two new invests (investigative areas) in the Caribbean that have the potential to develop and threaten the GOM in a short period of time. There is also another area forming in the Atlantic off Africa that looks like it could be a problem soon.

What happens to a containment operation if one of these blossoms into a hurricane? When they develop near or in the GOM there is not likely to be 5 days of warning. Maybe only one or two days, which may not be enough for a safe and orderly exit.

So hooking up all that containment stuff and producing oil is not necessarily a very safe "safe option".

Wunderground shows no Caribbean Invests, NHC shows one with <20%. Do you have a source for 2 and likelihood of hurricane formation?


I see 4 waves total. the close ones don't look like much. The third (NE of Puerto Rico) looks a little more possible. The 4th is still by Africa.


How about just needing a few days break for the surface ships to regroup, rest, do maintenance, while the well is not leaking.

I accept some seeping around the joints, no big deal considering.

I'm still waiting for the Simmonds volcano to be found though.

1) If you want to reduce the "well's internal pressure" you first must ask yourself why? What you really want to do is increase the pressure at the formation (18,000 ft) to stop the flow of oil. Which brings us to the use of either a top or bottom kill. Either would increase the density of the fluid in the well casing above what is in there now, oil & natural gas. By increasing the density of that 13,000 feet of fluid, you increase the pressure at the bottom and decrease it at the top (i.e. at the BOP). If the oil & methane have a specific gravity of 0.8, the pressure increment they add to the pressure measured at the BOP would be about 4,500 psi. So the down hole pressure would be that plus the 6,800 psi at the BOP or 11,300 psi. So depending on what figure you use for the original pore pressure (12.6 ppg would be about 11,800) you will have seen a loss of formation pressure of about 500 psi. Now the specific gravity of the oil & methane could be much less than 0.8. So let us consider using another guesstimate that has been offered, the SG = 0.5. Now the pressure increment is only about 2,800 psi. So the downhole pressure would be 2,800 + 6,800 or 9,600 psi and the formation must have been depleted from 11,800 psi to only 9,600 psi.

Right now you ought to be able to see why the issue of what the specific gravity of the oil-methane mixture is such a critical matter for determining the question of depletion. But to your question, making the fluid less dense decreased the pressure differential between the formation and the BOP. Obviously, the converse is true, increasing the density increases the pressure differential. So if you get the density in the well up to 0.9 (a pressure differential of 5,000 psi) you'd have a down hole pressure of 11,800 psi, which could stop the well when it was brand new.

The issue is that you'd still have 6,800 psi on the BOP, where the water outside is only at 2,200. So the well would flow when you dropped the back pressure to 2,200 by opening the cap.

So you need to bring the specific gravity in the well even higher to stop the flow with the BOP open to the sea. Either a top or bottom kill could accomplish the task, but by putting the heavier fluid in at the bottom, you can let it rise under the force of 18,000 feet of mud in the relief well against only 13,000 feet of oil & gas in the wild well. Raise the SG enough and you'll stop the flow of oil and drop the pressure at the BOP to ambient at the mud line (2,200 psi). The problem is how do you stop the mud from continuing to flow from the RW into the WW and out into the sea? The ends of the two legs of that U-tube are at 5,000 feet different elevations.

So you could look at a top kill again. They have access to the kill & choke lines on the original BOP (they used them for the original top kill attempts), so what they would need to do is slowly introduce some heavy "mud" (which in actual practice could be sea water mixed with a lot of extra salt to make a brine) through the kill line while slowly releasing the oil and gas through the choke line. The contents of the well would turn over in a manner similar to a Lava Light.

You have to let the oil and gas in the well escape doing either a top or bottom kill to allow the mud to replace it. The big concern is controlling the rising gas. It is compressible and highly compressed. On the way to the surface, the pressure will drop to the point that the methane will turn into its gaseous state and fizz. So controlling that flow would be like controlling a bottle of diet coke with a Mentos in it. The top kill uses a small pipe to connnect to the production platform above with a choke valve in the line. That way they can induce a back pressure which is high enough to prevent the fizzing until the solution reaches the surface and exits the choke valve. You don't see carbon dioxide bubbles in a bottle of champagne until you open it do you? Same principal here, keep a high enough pressure in the bottle and it won't fizz.

BTW - a HUGE advantage of doing a top kill is you know exactly how much mud you've pumped in. So when the well comes into balance, you might be able to tell whether the oil has been coming up the production riser or the annulus or both by calculating the volume of each and comparing that to what you've pumped in.

What everyone seems to be forgetting is the forensic investigation. A top kill would allow them to connect a riser to the top of the capping stack and re-open the well. They could fish out the drill pipe stuck in the BOP (they have to do that to recover the BOP as if they didn't it would be more than 3,000 feet tall and the drill rig doesn't have a 4,000 foot crane!!). Then they could go in and do a proper cement job before abandoning the well.

Bear -- for the bottom kill the work the mud has to pretty much fill the csg. That's what will give sufficient back pressure to keep the reservoir from flowing. Same thing with a top kill. Just a guess but with the bottom kill I think they let some oil/NG escape out of the top to allow the mud column to build upwards. With the top kill they'll have to push all the oil/NG in the csg back into the reservoir so the csg can be filled with enough kill mud. Really guessing now: if they do a bottom kill they might pump cmt in once the flow has stopped. The problem here is that they can't direct the cmt to where they want it to go. Another approach would be to do what they'll have to do if they do a top kill: remove the damaged BOP and replace it. Then put a rig on the well, re-enter the BOP with drill pipe and go to bottom and start spotting cmt plugs exactly where they want them. Even if the use the bottom kill they'll still have to enter the well from the top to set the legally required top plugs.

So lets review the current results of the ongoing "test":

1. Intact well pressure limit (set by BP itself prior to test, so as low as they could get away with) not reached.

2. Clear evidence of small leaks around some joints.

3. Potential HC escapes in vicinity of wellhead.

The outcome, contrary to logic, is "to continue tests", apparently until such time when leaks and other anomalies are evident to anyone who casually peaks at the ROV fees and the tests become a PR/Political as well as technical failure.

It probably merits stating that it is EXACTLY this kind of technical corner cutting that has created this disaster in the first place, shown over and over again to be the primary cause of large scale disasters overseen by large organizations - "normalization of failure". If a little "wrong" is OK right now, a little more "wrong" can't possibly hurt. If a leaks is small, why lets not count as a leak at all, but rename it a "inconsequential fluid escape". That's how we got the DH disaster in the first place, complete with regulatory capture. If we got close to the agreed upon lower limit, it must be good enough.

Miraculously (and I have to say I am very impressed), BP is doing it AGAIN, in almost exactly the same fashion, and with regulatory capture through very nice political maneuvering. Further, they seem to have captured large numbers of academia as well, leading to very good publicity from "authoratative" sounding professors. Just today, an LSU petroleim prof. has largely repeated BP's line on the "test" word for word on "On Point" NPR program. Keep it closed, natural seeps are everywhere, small leaks are OK, pressure low because of depletion, etc.

continued tests means they just want to keep any oil from flowing into the gulf. This provides two benefits: 1) nobody will know the true flow rate, and 2) no more oil pollutes the gulf. At this point, I'd much rather accept (1) to get the result of (2). If the gov't forces BP to open the well, then that new oil pollution is on the govt, not BP.

The cap is just a bridge until the relief well. Even if there is some underground leak going on, which is very unlikely, the relief well bottom kill will fix that too.

At this point, I think it's pretty clear that this well is effectively plugged and done.

That's the kind of optimism that I've been missing. But in response to an earlier post regarding a possible leakage, how bad could it be really, is the pressure on the well head is steadily rising than is the amount of pressure being released in other possible leakages lowering? Or is that something completely different.

Well, if they currently have a small or moderate subsurface leak, exposing it to high pressure is a BAD THING. You know, like removing the mud from a leaky well.

Lets repeat again, THIS IS HOW BP GOT THE ORIGINAL BLOWOUT, by intepreting potentially dangerous results in a most positive benign way, until disaster struck.

I find it pretty amazing, that a short three months into the disaster of their own making, they are successfully doing the SAME THING, with apparent acquiessence by their new regulators.

It's like the country suffers from some massive amnesia...

Dimitry, I think part of the reason is because NO ONE (BP officials, Allen, Chu, Obama, etc.) wants to take responsibility for making the extremely unpopular decision with the public of reopening the vents and allowing oil to once again spew into the Gulf, regardless of what the data, facts or otherwise is telling them.

i mean, you can postulate that some 10 sigma event will occur, but you're not exposing this theoretical leak to "high" pressure, because remember, pressure is all relative. It's the differential that matters, and the differential shouldn't be more than 500psi.

What your saying is akin to a toy firecracker blowing up an entire house. The bang just isn't there when you do the math.

How would you POSSIBLY know what is the pressure differential in a subsurface leak?

Hey, lets guess at everything! And then lets make critical decisions based on those guesses!

you know the pressure at the top
you know the pressure at the bottom
there's tight range on the weight of oil/gas in the pipe
pressure estimate at any point along the pipe

My recollection is that the old kill and choke line valves are still operational. The kill valve was a binary valve, but the choke valve was closed slowly to avoid a shock to the system. I presume that operation is reversible, so if the risers they were using before to collect oil from those two lines are still attached that would be a better way to relieve pressure than just opening the ram.

After the release of pressure opening the ram would permit flow into a riser connected to the new ram stack.

It's not fast enough to modulate the flow based on rate, I think.

However, one perhaps can argue, they can use the rams in the capping stack to shut the flow down in case of well misbehavior. But that is again a binary system.

1. Intact well pressure limit (set by BP itself prior to test, so as low as they could get away with) not reached.

No. They said below 6,000 definitely bad. Above 8,000 definitely good. In between needs further analysis to be sure.

The outcome, contrary to logic, is "to continue tests",

Defies your logic but not mine and not the experts apparently.

At the moment they are monitoring tiny leaks in the new installed stack. Nothing is going to fail catastrophically at that point.

There may be other issues or there may not be but the experts are happy there is no "showstopper" at the moment.

Look, this is not your car's carburator. You have to set limits and start from negative assumption to be proven or not proven by test results. These are basic ground rules to science and serious engineering. If you are just playing around, doing uncontrolled tests "just to have a look-see" or to satisfy your curiosity, fine. But critical tests on critical, potentially damaged or failed systems MUST be done by the book or NOT done at all.

So, if you set a lower limit for good and you did not reach it, be a man about it and say the test FAILED to prove WELL INTEGRITY, which it most certainly has.

Since the usefull data on the well integrity has already been collected (failed to prove positive), and the danger from the test continuous and appears to continue to increase, simple logic (separated from politics) argues strongly for stopping the test.

This test was a very bad idea to start with and apparently dismally planned, to boot. To continue it, in essentially uncontrolled manner, untill something really bad happens is really quite irresponsible. From a logic point of view it is identical to the way BP has built this well in the first place.

It is a testimony to human nature, that the same people who where outraged by BP's original practices are arguing they are given a chance to have those same reckless practices used again.

They are not "playing around doing uncontrolled tests" but if you have that stuck in your mind and refuse to budge then it's no wonder you can't understand what's going on.

I am sure my 25 year history of conducting mostly successflul and some unsuccessful tests on very high tech systems is PREVENTING me from understanding "what's going on".

This test should have never been allowed, and if mistakenly allowed, should be stopped as soon as useful data is collected.

To continue to is play Russian rullette past the first couple of good luck empty clicks. Why push you luck beyond what is prudent? Isn't this how BP got to this disaster in the first place?


You're playing the pre-calculus physics game of more and more of less and less equals anything.

If you've really got all that successful experience in large systems, how about some math/calculus?

We're not here to listen to scary what-ifs.

"...how about some math/calculus?..."

Is that crickets chirping I hear?

I think the point of all this is the risk is relatively low of capping the fairly small, weak well. There isn't going to be a methane explosion, a devastating tsunami, or a massive blowout. The immediate disaster is pretty much gone. The engineers are outstanding and the relief well will plug the gusher IMHO.

Heck, I'm more worried about our politicians in a hurry to use this disaster as an excuse to ram energy refom (see: healthcare, financial) down our throats. I may be forced to become orthodox Mormon and marry me 10-15 women of income producing age and ability. Think of it like an investent with diffrent profit (prophet?) centers. If nothing else, in the next life they say I will be a god of my own universe and they have to do as I command, or else. :)

From my perspective, the difference between 4,700 psi and 6,700 psi is presenting no additional GREAT risk. An example I can give that others may understand is my pressure washer at home operates at 1,200 psi and is driven by a thin walled aluminum pump, and the delivery system is relatively thin walled steel tubing subject to corrosion. We are talking an additional 1,700 or 2,000 psi here? Like others I continue to 'feel' that the 6,700 is low but do believe that B.P. has a handle on that additional risk. They are progressing in a very methodical manner. Blowout, can it be capped, start relief well, and all the homework associated with those steps.

I am pleased with the limited interference and help from the Obama Administration. (Now if the various politicians would only admit to how brain dead they are when it comes to economics and the financial crisis.) Sorry you all, but I believe the jab is warranted and somewhat applicable. Please note that it is a general reference, not directed at any particular political party.


Because BP donated $10 million to LSU just a few weeks ago.

James Kunstler has an article on Matt Simmons at his site this morning asking "What if he is right?".

To me it is plausible that there may be large "deposits" of methane hydrates in the vicinity of the well as a result of the leak. From what I have read, these deposits are quite common elsewhere, especially at common cold seeps on continental shelves, and have been in geologic time. They are stable under certain temperature and water pressure conditions. Most people have never heard of them until now and poorly understand them, not to mention poorly understanding the Gas law (PV=nRT).

Some paleontologists contend that the large Permian/Triassic extinction event was caused by a sudden release of methane, released from methane hydrates. Here is the scenario. Globally all the continents were jammed into one with a climate of Ohio in the winter, resulting in massive glaciation and ice capping which caused the sea level to drop several hundreds of meters. This sea level drop caused a massive release of Methane from hydrates when they were suddenly (in terms of geologic time) in too shallow water to remain stable. The methane in the atmosphere oxidized, reducing available oxygen. This was the mechanism for extinction. The ones that made it through were able to cope with this reduced oxygen load, such as reptiles with "bird lungs" (including the dinosaurs).

This is one of many theories of the PT event. Others include asteroid impacts, plumes of gas from massive volcanic eruptions, the cold climate itself (which would easily rid the tropical species!). Only thing known for certain is that it wiped out 95% of the biodiversity, and ending several great lineages such as the Trilobites. The mechanism of the Permian Triassic extinction is one of the hot debates in paleontology currently, similar to the debates a few decades ago surrounding the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction.

Back to the present. Suppose Matt is correct and a large amount of methane is released, maybe all of the methane from the reservoir at once, and all the hydrates were released. How big of a release would be required to do damage? One has to compare the original gas volume in the reservoir (there are people here who can calculate this on a napkin much better than I can!) and compare this with the volume of the atmosphere say in a cylinder 50 miles in radius and maybe 5 miles up (the height of a smaller hurricane) to determine the theoretical concentration. I suspect that the dilution factor would be sufficient to render the quantity of methane in the reservoir harmless. It would be interesting to know what minimum concentration of methane is needed to sustain ignition.

Somebody, please do this calculation.

What's up with The Oil Drum? TOD has been a devoted follower of Matt Simmons and his opinions since its inception. And now that he is trying to warn us about the possibility of a catastrophic event in the Gulf, they haven't posted his interview about Macondo, even for the sake of discussion. Why not post the interview, then do some follow-up and see if he's right?

It has been posted and discussed from every angle exhaustively. Read the first post on this blog.

TOD has not been "an avid follower" of Simmons. First, we respect his work in his book Twilight in the Desert; it has spurred many here to delve deeper into the peak oil evidence, for which we should all be thankful.

However, we are not blind, nor are we dumb. When we see a problem with evidence and rationale, we point it out. In this case, Simmons has a long way to go to convince many here. NO ONE'S CLAIMS should go unquestioned, ever.

The foundation of this site is reason and evidence. When he brings some to the table and shows it to us, instead of his allegedly well-informed conjecture, then we will give him all of the bandwidth he wants.

Until then, suffice it to say that this is not a faith-based organization.

Add to Prof's post that Matt can hardly be unaware of the challenges to, and refutations of, his wild claims about lakes of oil and flying BOPs that have been posted here. He knows how to communicate with any of a number of the key people here, and he could easily come here and lay out his evidence, if he were in a position to do so.

I've been an admirer of Simmons' work for a long time. I've always thought of him as a pretty careful and level-headed guy who was willing to use data-based analysis to challenge conventional wisdom.

In this case, something very different is happening. I really doubt that Matt is engaged in a deliberate disinformation campaign. I think it's much more likely that he believes what he is claiming. If so, that suggests that there has been a serious deterioration of his analytical work, for whatever reason.

well-said Prof.

seems to me Simmons' (unsupported by any evidence) claims get daily chatter here anyway - way more than they are probably worth, but that is the nature of such a site as The Oil Drum.

Not a full blown calculation, but even if you concentrate all of the estimated (my estimate) methane that has been released into an area the size of a 200 mile hurricane, you get a concentration of about 0.000143%. You need at least 5% to get up into the explosive range.

See: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6749#comment-681634

The bottom line here is STILL, that most people will deny, even the possibility, that something bad could happen to them, even if presented with reasonable data that says some possibility exists. The odds are that the ultimate outcome will be somewhere in the middle of the posited extremes. As to understanding the technical details of many of the items on the long list of things that could do us in; remember that this is a country who's prime interest seems to be "how's Lindsey doing, or "feetball" or NASCAR.

Personally, I'm still holding out for the eventual widespread use of NBC Weapons (Nuclear, Biological,and Chemical) as the population fights over the energy "scraps" left over after the 100 year cheap oil "party".

To paraphrase the late George Carlin, "People will eventually manage to kill themselves off, I might as well be amused by the process".

casey -- We'll start with the assumption of 50 million bbls of recoverable oil. The NG in solution is 2,000-3,000 cubic feet/bbl. Using the high side that would be 150 billion cu ft. You cylinder (50 miles X 5 miles) would contain 36,799 billion cu ft of volume. Concentration would then be 0.4%.

Of course for all the NG dissolved in the oil to be released at once would require all the oil to be brought to surface conditions instantly. Not sure how that could be done. Doubt it would ignite at that concentration. But the concentration would be much higher at the release point and could be very explosive. If such events interest you search "fuel gas bomb". It's the most powerful non-nuclear weapon we have. Essentially a NG bomb: a huge volume of NG is ejected very quickly and ignited several hundred feet above the target. It's so big it has to be dropped from the tail end of a very large cargo plane (see the movie "Outbreak"). Seen the film...very impressive if you like to blow stuff up.

Respectfully, why would we assume 50 million bbl? In September of 2009, when BP announced the "discovery" of oil in MC252, they speculated it was a bigger than the (then) recently discovered Kaskida field, which was thought to contain three billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/business/global/03oil.html?_r=1

Thanks, Mr. Rockman, for sharing your knowledge; I've learned a lot from you.

That NYTimes article relates to Tiber not Macondo. A totally different field. They hadn't even started to drill Macondo in September.

Did anyone else notice that Admiral Allen's statement today about "no oil" coming from the well contradicts his statement yesterday that there is a leak "a distance" from the well.

What is going on? What is the story on the leak Adm. Allen mentioned in his statement yesterday ---has it now stopped or did it never exist in the first place?

I think there is a cat fight going on. Just office politics but on a grander scale.

No the mention of the mysterious "seep at a distance from the well" was not office politics. It was stupid, stupid, stupid without giving further info and I'm sure he knows it now thus they've backed away.

There are some natural seeps in the area. There was a very good headline article on natural seeps here on TOD a month or two back.

Yes I know but the Internet is on fire with rumours of an "known" but not announced highly dangerous seep at some distance from the well that could blow up the gulf. Some people really are genuinely terrified.

And then what happens? Thad Allen mentions a seep at a distance out of the blue with no context. What on earth did he think would happen? I stick with my "stupid" statement.

And I agree with your assessment.

Hopefully this now shocks both BP and the Government back onto the same page. Personally I hope the stack stays shut but if they have to open it then they have to open it.

Thanks. I agree completely.

Adm. Allen's statement yesterday about a leak happening at "a distance" from the well was most unfortunate, especially if the well actually isn't leaking.

Any good administrator knows that you work with your partners to stay on the same page until you are FORCED to disagree.

If you issue contradictory statements as a matter of course then it makes you look incompetent, confused, petulant and overall ineffective.

A novice administrator learns this maybe in his first year of taking on a job with any level of responsibility. I shudder to think of the system that could produce a top level administrator that can make rank rookie mistakes. it literally scares me regarding the level of ignorance that could be floating around the highest levels of this operation. it makes me feel like we'd be about in the same situation if we placed a random 12th grade class in charge.

I went to bed last night thinking that Allen would provide specifics about the seep this morning.

Guess he had to respond publicly to yesterday's AP "breaking news".

Allen's press release today is somewhat reassuring, but I wish he would have provided more details.

I went to bed last night thinking that Allen would provide specifics about the seep this morning.

Guess he had to respond publicly to yesterday's AP "breaking news".

Allen's press release today is somewhat reassuring, but I wish he would have provided more details.

I'm imagining a conversation like this:

Admiral Allen: "It has been brought to my attention that there's an oil seep 1.8 miles down slope from Macondo 252a. Please begin monitoring this seep and add this to your reports. I don't want to be blind sided when this shows up in the press."

BP: "Almost two miles away? You have to be kidding. NFW does this have anything to do with our well."

AA: "This has to be in the reports I give or I risk being accused of covering it up."

BP: "We need this in your reports like we need a hole in the head."

AA: "Our lawyers are drafting a letter to you."

At the time of the blowout, there was an attempt to emergency disconnect the rig from the well/riser.
AFAIK, That single act would have at least spared the rig from being destroyed (the escaped oil/gas would no longer have been routed to the rig to burn there).

Can anyone comment on how the emergency disconnect was supposed to work, and how it could have failed?
Was there options to disconnect at the BOP (how?) and/or at the rig?
Did the failure of the BOP to sever the drill pipe doom the rig?

Emergency Disconnect was initiated by Chris Pleasant. He testified that the electronic indications showed the system attempted to disconnect but there was no response from the hydraulic systems and so nothing happened.

Allan tossed out a bomb.....there was a reason, Allen doesn't do that sort of thing casually. The notice on informing of a leak discoveries means that BP has been witholding some information that we are not privy to....what that is I don't know,

Otherwise, agree with Dimitry, BP set standards, test inconclusive. Collect the oil and finish the relief wells......

Allan tossed out a bomb.....there was a reason,

Yes tossing bombs at things always makes things better.

Can you post your risk/benefit analysis on the risks of producing ad-hoc with thrown together bits and pieces floating in a confined area in a sea of oil versus the risk of shutting in?

..And if there is a fire and explosion on one of these surface ships doing the ad hoc collection and lives are lost in the interest of "safety", who is to blame?

James......having observed the Admiral over a few months he is not the kind to go off and make statements without a good reason. Putting BP on notice means that BP is not being forthcoming....about what? We don't know.

Admiral over a few months he is not the kind to go off and make statements without a good reason. Putting BP on notice means that BP is not being forthcoming....about what? We don't know.

Yeh, maybe he was drunk, maybe Obama told him to. Or maybe he just wants to shout at the public "I know something you don't know!" - Which is what he did.

So if he was accusing BP in public of not being forthcoming then he's been even less forthcoming with the public himself.

So with gov employees there 24/7 and 6 hours reviews BP intentionally withheld important information(and then Allen ignored it to allow the test to continue) and nobody noticed. After a Pulitzer are you?

Yes, I saw Mr. Pleasant's testimony on CSPAN.
But why did the riser disconnect fail, and how was it supposed to work?
The ROVs had to unbolt the riser from the BOP, by what mechanism was the emergency riser disconnect supposed to work?
How could the riser have been disconnected if it was full of drillpipe?
Why wasn't there some fool proof method to disconnect at the rig end of the riser?

This is my limited knowledge. They could disconnect the riser from the LMP and float the rig away from the well with riser hanging from the rig.

Request to knowledgeable TOD contributors: May we create a fresh line item topic devoted to Matt Simmons BP/Gulf leak hypothesis? Perhaps we can invite Simmons to post links to his data, his contacts, etc. for all to investigate and discuss.

For the benefit of those who have not read the most recent allegations, here is a link to Jim Kunstlers blog entry today: http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/07/what-if-hes-right.html

We need to obtain and examine Simmons' data before stating any conclusions, one way or the other.

I think Red Shift is suggesting an entire top allocated to the discussion (like drumbeat or the daily spill thread), not simply a subthread within a larger thread. That way the single thread can be referenced in the future everytime the Matt Simmons discussion comes up.

I think there was one, but Prof. Goose is saying the ball is in Matt Simmons court at this point. He needs to provide US with some solid evidence and he has not responded.

Recent HBO documentary:


Gasland: A film by Josh Fox
When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, ...

As many posters are in the oil AND gas industry I would be interested to get their response to the mind boggling empirical evidence as to the sloppy, venal and pathological natures of those in the business of natural gas extraction. What is presented in this film-- which leaves little room for deniability-- makes the issue of natural gas extraction and the use of natural gas as appalling as dependence on oil.

BTW: I don't have a car-- use a bike. Don't even use the clothes dryer but the line instead.

I would also like to say how much I appreciate the total geekiness of this site! It has been fascinating to read the back and forth between those with direct experience and knowledge of the technical issues.

Thank you!

" . . . mind boggling empirical evidence as to the sloppy, venal and pathological natures of those in the business of natural gas extraction."

This phrase indicates that there is no chance of that documentary providing us with anything closed to a balanced and factual viewpoint.

Red: Unfortunately, Simmons has no data. It is all supposition and hunches. He repeatedly cited information gathered by the NOAA ships to back up his claims, but the ships never reported anything similar to what he is saying. And that doesn't even include the preposterous claims of the BOP stack being blown away.
In his latest interview he made some widely derogatory comments about BP. Now, I'm no BP defender, but I could see some possible slander or defamation action taken by them.
I have known Matt for years, heard him speak numerous times and talked to him personally. He was an extremely bright and successful investment banker and I am very sad to see him reach this stage. I don't know whether it's dementia or what, but it's very pathetic and disturbing.
What I really don't understand is why the MSM keeps doing these interviews without bringing in an expert to make him prove his theories. Actually I do---they know outlandish theories and conspiracies make for good headlines and ratings and that sane expert would tear him to shreds.

True, but NOAA has been VERY SLOW in releasing the data. BP gets to see it right away, but we still have not seen much at all. There is a good Dan Froomkin story on this.

NOAA releases data from their ships immediately after they have peer reviewed results or good preliminary data. The Brooks McCall ship contracted by BP but with gov reps also on board has ongoing water column results updated as they come in on both BP and EPA sites.

I assume Pisces data is given real-time and seismic ASAP to whole unified command team in Houston to be used at the "every 6 hours " review sessions.

It would seem to me that the parties involved in the fix would need to see the data right away. Given the level of paranoia out here anyway, how much data would be sufficient, provided by whom? Your articulated opinion that all involved in this are idiots and incompetents, how would giving you more data help that?

I think ultimately you and most will get the data to allow you to further confirm their incompetence, and horrible mistakes.

I have yet to SEE any data from Simmons - just wild claims that make no sense - I would say it is on Matt to provide the proof, any proof of his extraordinary claims. Just like UFO's or 9/11 "truthers" or cold fusion - you want to make fantastic claims that seem to go against all the available evidence, it is on YOU to provide proof of such, it isn't incumbent upon the rest of us to go out and disprove your wild and hyperbolic claims.

When Matt shows me some evidence (and how he gathered it) for the gusher 6 miles away, for the "lake of oil" on the bottom of the gulf, for the insane pressures he is talking about - when he provides some sort of geological reasoning for his sinkhole/tsunami scenario, or why the BP well-kill efforts will take years, I will start to consider his claims, until then I think they are worth about the same as a stock pump & dumper on the internet (something we've seen her on TOD over the years BTW).

I read on one web news site that an official said the 'seep' could possibly be of a natural occurrence. Does anyone know if there is a way to distinguish such a natural seep from one originating from this well sight? If so, what would it take; how long before results can be expected?

The mere mention that the oil is hot must suggest that it is hotter then usual.Wonder why that could be (-: Seems that our patient is developing complications here. Curiosity kills the cat. seems we are a place here where if this job is finished as it should be finished this will be the end of deep water drilling in the GOM.

Is there any reason why, with a riser attached to the new ram stack, that riser can't be filled with mud before releasing pressure below the ram stack, then when pressures have equalized between the up an downsides of the ram, opening the ram and doing a "normal" top kill?

Sounds clever. Maybe the pros can comment if it is practical?

The weight of mud needed to bring 18,000 feet of total depth up to a high enough average specific gravity would require a mud with an unusually high specific gravity in the 5,000 foot riser.

You want to equalize the pressure between the well head and the sea floor so you can just swing a riser filled with sea water into place. Do the top kill first, then install the new riser.


There is a connector at the top of the new BOP opposite the choke line for this purpose. It is appropriately named the "kill line", and that is what it is routinely used for. (Edit: They would pump it in a very controlled manner rather than relying on the weight of the column in the line to the surface to overcome well pressure.)

ROCKMAN has gone through the calculations numerous times, and to kill the pressure at the top of the 13,000+ foot oil column would only require a rather ordinary mud. There is no technical difficulty to doing this as he says it is routinely done on shut in wells. It doesn't put added pressure on the well head like the first top kill attempt did with that huge leak on top. Mud can just be added gently because there is no flow to fight against when a well is shut in.

Maybe they don't want to kill it yet because they want to watch the pressure rise curve.

Today's 7:30am briefing call was cancelled abruptly and unexpectedly at 7:29am with no explanation.

Has anyone heard why it was cancelled ?

Does anyone know if the afternoon 2:30pm briefing will be held today (it was stopped over the weekend) ??

Could either be they want to wait to see if they come up with something more definitive regarding seeps. The seismic vessel has been doing continuous tracks crisscrossing the site and the Pisces has done another large grid over the site and to the north and east the last 24 hours. Also BP took that gas sample.
Remember right before BP began with the testing procedure CG told them to offer more briefings. BP came back to offer two per day. I am assuming once the test was going okay CG approved BP to cut back to one on the weekend. Given that the answers given by Suttle's in the Sunday AM briefing may have been taken wrong by the press and due to the hot potato around the whole see/restart issue, BP will be careful to coordinate the next briefing with CG and perhaps wait to have one after Allen does one--they could then fill in technical details after Allen announces path forward. Now and then it seems the many competing interests in Unified Command and the government create opportunities for communications to appear unaligned and contradictory. Given the organization and the effort to try to be open I am surprised it has gone as well as it has.

cracks in the sea floor leaking oil


& don't tell me about ROV thrusters

If you're going to post a link, why don't you check to see that it plays first.

Go back to FDL and the only truth tellers on the planet.

lol. video was dated June 13, 2010.

ROV thrusters!

Oil would form spherical droplets in water, like those seen rising from the small leak around the connection to the new capping structure that Hos-ROV 1 is looking at.

Looks like prop wash to me.

Has anyone checked the coordinates on this video.


Does anyone know what datum is used? Is it showing feet or meters?

My guessing on the datum as UTM and units as feet puts this very near the well and right near where the Pieces did her last sweep. The Pieces is headed back there right now.

Was there a mistake made around the at the time of this video on the oil collection system efforts? At this point in the oil collection system efforts the recover rate was at about 15 kbpd. It dipped on the 15th to 10 kbpd and then increased to 25k in the next couple of days.

Does anyone have information on the first attempt at Macondo 252. I heard some early reports that the initial well was abandoned do to with loss of the tools and drill string?

When it comes to the amount of money on the table in this mess, there is no way to underestimate the desperate sick criminal mentality hard at work trying to deceive everyone for some apparent short term advantages, which is the same sort of nearsightedness that lead to this mess * infinity.

I won't paint all the worriers with a broad brush, but you conspiracy theorists disgust me. You are in a panic now as your precious and desired movie-style extinction event is not happening. You have needlessly scared the hell out of people along the Gulf. Your hopes for the end of the oil industry are being dashed, deal with it. Spare me your assurances that you are just trying to save everyone.

I don't suppose you will be apologizing when this well is killed and life goes on. No, you will just disappear.

+100, demoted slightly because I do not believe that they'll disappear. Kill the well and there's still that hole six miles away that no one will admit to, etc.

Snakehead: You are right, the CT'ers will morph and reappear with new stupidity.

Everyone: I've got no quarrel with people who have real knowledge in the field expressing concerns about real issues. I've got no problem with people who aren't in the know asking questions. I'm referring to nutcases with political agendas needlessly scaring people who are already under tremendous stress. Those people are going through enough of a disaster, and they are very vunerable.

I'm waiting, watching and hoping for a successful kill of this well. I'm waiting, watching, donating money and hoping for a recovery of the Gulf area. God bless all of you affected, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

I think this is not appropriate.

The only apologies should be coming from the oil industry for being completely unprepared for the results of their own practices.

I think it's quite appropriate. Last night terrified people were showing up at TOD. Why? Because they're being terrorized by posters who have that as an agenda.

Complete and utter nonsense!

Blame the posters for the "panic". Whey they are making stuff up, like grave danger!

Unlike our good and responsible government and industry leaders, who have been telling us for years how safe we are from the dangers of an oil spill! But we should not blame them - blame those irresponsible "posters"! Why, it must have been the "posters" who created an Armageddon-like explosion in the Gulf, followed by continuous spill of oil and methane, the largest man made spill the world has known...

Lets wrap ourselves in the cloack of "reponsible public safety" and limit discussion to nice subjects, like how great it is that BP has "capped" the well and all we need to do is to clean up some tarballs and start fishing!

Wistle and fish...

I have no problem at all with people coming here to check out stuff they've seen, read and heard. I have a major beef with people who come here or go anywhere else simply to spread the word irrespective of facts.

Snakehead: Stop being rational and reasonable. You will be kicked off the site soon.
(As a Snakehead you might be accused of making an asp out of yourself).

Expression of "disgust" is not reasonable.

I am not sure if that is something that passes for civil discourse in your circles, but it doesn't in mine.

"You disgust me" is not an appropriate expression to use in civil debate.

Dimitry, in terms of the actual problem I will give you leeway. I'll let those who really know the ground comment on the performance of the companies involved. I'm sure we will hear quite a bit about that as the court cases proceed.

I have to say I agree with you.
This well will be killed.
Life will go on. Oil companies will make changes to their operations.
Oil will continue to leak/seep into the GOM and every body of water on the planet.
We need new energy considerations and those will have problems also.
Nuclear power is the way to go for our planet but the same "end of the world" cultists will and have "keyed/blogged" the panic to death.
True change comes slow.

It amazes me the way some of you think! They were expecting to see a pressure of 8,000 to 9,000psi. and are seeing less than 6,800psi. That is a pretty substantial difference and to maintain that difference you need pretty substantial leak! It ain't going to be some ooze dribbling down the side of a pipe joint.

And one thing is for certain, where ever or what ever it is, it's only going to get worse...

They need to hook-up and start collecting, keeping the pressure as low as possible with as little escaping of oil as possible.

And get on with it! Get the planed relief wells finished, and kill this thing once and for all!


==It amazes me the way some of you think!==

I think the official name for this is "error normalization". You start by giving yourself a low bar for passing (BP has done that with the 8-9 ksi range, when the upper part of that is likely the real target), then when you don't meet it, you lower the bar and keep arguing that the differences can be explained post-fact, so the results are, no they really are, just OK.

The parallel side of this syndrome is the inversion of proof, which is often employed when the system fails to pefrorm according to specification. Instead of having to demonstrate that the system is "Good" you are challenged to prove that it is "definitely Bad", with the inability to (quickly) do so taken as proof of "Good". This is what BP is doing (and others repeating) - there are no "indications of a leak", no "proof of breach", etc. - the system is implied to be good, with the test objective logically inverted to demonstrate "badness", instead of original intent to reach the high pressure that unambiguously proves good well integrity.

These are classic falacies of logic, augmented by sloppy test procedure and apparently very vague rules for this excercise.

Thanks for hammering this, Dimitry. I think it is a very impt. point. And it is why Allen cautioned that we have to go by the science (meaning, not people's emotions).

This is exactly the same rationalization trap BP managers looped into in making the disasterous chain of decisions leading up to the disaster.

The burden is on BP to prove it is safe to continue. The absence of a blow-out is not proof that it is safe. There may be sufficient data to meet that burden, or to revise the pressure expectations. It has not been produced yet, though.

Yup. +A Big Number

BP is wrong. The oil is seeping up because the well is compromised. We know the well is compromised because there was a big chunk of drill pipe found in the BOP, and that means the rest of the shards of pipe went elsewhere, and no doubt compromised the well.

There is incredible risk in keeping the wellhead closed. It needs to be reopened immediately.

BP needs to be officially taken over by the US government, at least any assets and employees involved in Gulf operations.

Put Chu in charge of the entire project. Make him full-time on it.

Hire Exxon or Chevron or Marathon or some oil company that actually knows what they are doing to run this operation to a successful conclusion.

BP is truly the worst, most evil, heinous company to ever exist. They need to be driven into bankruptcy.

RE: Undertow's comment "Can you post your risk/benefit analysis on the risks of producing ad-hoc with thrown together bits and pieces floating in a confined area in a sea of oil versus the risk of shutting in?"

Indeed, who could. At the risk of stating the obvious, after all of the noise is filtered out we are left with the uncomfortable situation in which no one has the information to do a risk/benefit analysis regarding whether it is better to leave the well shut in vs. collecting at the surface. Glad I'm not the one making the decision. I recommend everyone takes a chill pill. (We don't get Blue Bell up here in OR, but if it were later in day, a pint or two of Ninkasi IPA might be appropriate.)

Well put nubs. And welcome to the world of decision making in the oil patch. I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I had this discussion - Me: OK..here's the situation. What do you want me to do? Him: I have no idea of what's going on down that well bore. Me: Understood. Now, what are my orders?

It's not uncommon to have to take actions when you don't really have a clue what to do. Thanks goodness bad outcomes usually just mean losing some money and not killing someone or destroying a chunk of the environment.

Much speculation regarding where the "at some distance from the well site" leak might be.

It seems likely that it is located about 6 miles SE of the well head as reported in the the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Deepwater Horizon Response Mission Report Interim Project Report-Leg 2, June 3-11.
It was posted July 16th as a pdf file on the NOAA site (just goggle it).

Figure 19 on page 24 and Figure 20 on page 26 are of particular interest as they show the natural seeps and the area where the "underwater oil lake" (if you will) appears to be located.

Both the late May Gordon Gunter vessel seep volumes and the much larger, early June Thomas Jefferson seep volumes are shown in these figures.

It's about 2 miles from the well and is methane. No connection known with Macondo but being investigated. Stated by Carol Browner on camera on CNN a short time ago.

China seals oil port after spill


My two cents like usual. I believe the scientists are far enough along to realize that it is time to release the pressure from the well and start containing the oil. If the leak stops at that point it would be very good news. If the relief wells fail it would be time to produce the well. Also, this bad boy may decide to burp again. It probably would be a good idea to have something on the riser to help protect against that if we produce the well.

Question regarding the seafloor "seepage" that is now being discussed....

Upon discovery that there is some seepage coming from the seafloor some distance from the well, many are saying this is completely normal and not related to capping off the flow from the well. My question is, was this seepage noted BEFORE the well was closed off late last week, or was this a new development? Also, why no coverage on those 5 minor earthquakes that happened in the eastern US nearly immediately following stopping the flow from the well....random and coincidence?

hhh -- Just my guess but the GOM is pretty big so I wouldn't tend to buy a coincidence of a natural seep being there. OTOH I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it is there it's such a small amount that folks aren't even sure it's real. If it is coming from a leak in the csg near the surface it will stop when the well is killed.

Earth quakes? It's really difficult to come up with even a really bizarre explanation to relate the two events. The problem is scale and the very rapid reduction of energy transmission thru the earth over long distances. But you may see some info on other man-caused quakes that could confuse the issue. Decades ago a water injection well was determined to be the cause of some minor earthquakes in Colorado. The water lubricated some old buried faults and cause them to slip. That produced the tremors.

Rockman, have you any info on whether there was a casing blowout on Ixtoc? I read one account where Red capped the well and the casing blew out in the shallow subsurface as a result. This resulted in cracks opening up and oil leaking out of the seabed. They went on to the bottom-kill. However, it appears that even after they intercepted the well, and attempted bottom kill, leaking continued for some time thereafter. But the facts are unclear and so poorly preserved/presented (no cites to sources) that it is hard to tell exactly what happend.

"Just my guess but the GOM is pretty big so I wouldn't tend to buy a coincidence of a natural seep being there."

Isn't the coincidence is easier to buy given that we know it is located within 2 miles of a large oil reservoir? Or is it possible that BP drilled a couple of miles from what they already knew to be a natural seep?

To the south of me there have been 53 shakes of over mag3 in the last week, not abnormal. The smaller ones they just do not bother with but there have probably been 10 times as many. Shakes of the size you are talking about are very frequent and are often unfelt. It is no surprise that no-one is talking about them, quite normal.


I would expect that a natural seep wouldn't have been found until now, because no one was looking for one. I think that they only found this one because of all the traffic in the area.
(I also doubt that it's practical to survey the OCS for seeps. And it certainly doesn't appear to be cost-effective to do so.)

I'm inclined to believe the lower than expected pressure at the wellhead is the result of depletion of oil and gas in the formation at the bottom of well after 86 days of release at high rates of flow. The reservoir exists not as a pool of oil but as sandstone permeated with oil and gas. As those hydrocarbons are released, a zone of depletion grows outward from the bottom of the well, and the pressure decreases. When the flow is stopped, it takes time for oil and gas in the surrounding reservoir to permeate through the sandstone and recharge the zone of depletion, returning pressure to normal.

I am disturbed by some of the comments that I see posted on this board, and one not need be a petroleum Engineer to see that something is wrong. I mean, some of you on this board are hinting that Matt Simmons may be a Conspiracy Theorist or have something to gain by shorting BP, or is a bit demented - or some combination of the three. Well, he may very well be. He presents some interesting conclusions that can only be labled as speculation at this stage for there are no published sources to which he refers. However, it has been the norm during this spill that BP is making sure that there are no sources to reference. BP is acting very suspicious in the way they share information and the virtual news blackout they have instituted....makes me think they have something to hide for I've never seen honest parties act this way.

Now....even though Simmons has no sources he's willing to disclose at this time, he did raise the stakes in the game and few have given him credit for doing so. Simmons' latest comments about BP's efforts in containing the spill could easily be judged as Slander in Court if Simmons is not able to back up what he says. If BP were honest, I believe that they would go out of their way to prove there are no seafloor leaks (which they should have been doing anyways) and they would approach Matt Simmons and any media that broadcast him and threaten them with a Slander Suit. This is what Honesty looks like. This is what Honesty does. Now...Simmons' has raised the ante, will BP call or fold?

Simmons seems to go back and forth between saying really outlandish things and then sounding completely coherent and clear. Makes it tough to evaluate. Sorry if this is a re-run, but here is a direct link to a long interview with Matt from the last few days...


Funniest comment: Matt says Anderson Cooper, "looks like a dilettante" but is doing a great job covering the spill.

Most compelling: Oceanographers on vessels in the GOM are coming to him with information.

Least compelling: Admits he's not an expert on many topics at hand.

In between: Helped fund Oceaneering and knows what an ROV can and can't do. Says they can look straight ahead for 25 feet. Point being, that doesn't help find what he's claiming exists.

I keep seeing this in the right hand corner of the website and thinking whaaattt??? Hard to reconcile.

“Data always beats theories. 'Look at data three times and then come to a conclusion,' versus 'coming to a conclusion and searching for some data.' The former will win every time.”
—Matthew Simmons, ASPO-USA conference, Boston, MA, October 26, 2006

If you believe as I do that evidence and fact should be the basis of the theories that you act on then Simmons' ideas are complete non-starters.

Yes BP is rather opaque however we do have video feeds from BP contractors operating underwater and satellite photos and statements from sources other than BP to work with. None of these are consistent with anything that Simmons is saying.

I am disturbed by some of the comments I see posted on this board, because they ignore both scientific facts and logic.

He presents some interesting conclusions that can only be labled as speculation at this stage for there are no published sources to which he refers.

Um, yeah. Plus some of those conclusions (a giant bubble of methane under the sea) don't make much scientific sense.

However, it has been the norm during this spill that BP is making sure that there are no sources to reference.

This is an arguable assertion in itself. Numerous BP presentations have been linked here at TOD.

If BP were honest, I believe that they would go out of their way to prove there are no seafloor leaks (which they should have been doing anyways)...

Proving a negative is not possible. Particularly at 5000 feet underwater when your rov assets are needed for dealing with the problem at hand.

It is also not the case that, even if it were proved that BP is not honest (and you haven't done that), then Matt Simmons is correct. The two are independent logically.

So I'm wondering why the poker metaphor is relevant.

And where all these Matt Simmons aficionados are coming from.

The "Poker Metaphor" is relevent because Simmons has put his wealth on the line if what he has recently said about BP is untrue. If what Simmons has said about BP is not true, then he has committed Slander and can be sued in Court. This is called "Taking Responsibility for your Actions": something that BP and the government seem loathe to do. Thus, this makes me lend Simmons at least a bit of credibility for he has so much to lose if he's lying.

Jim, I think it's impossible to "definitively" prove there are no leaks. It's pitch black down there and the lamps on the ROVs only cover so much area. Think of it like looking for a crack in the ground in pitch black with a flash light over an area the size of Louisiana. Sonar and other instruments help if there are large leaks, but so far as the gov't and BP have said they haven't found any significant leaks. What type of sources do you think BP should make available for folks to reference. There's a ton of data already released out there through DOE, BP, and other websites. Also it isn't speculation that he has something to gain by shorting BP; he IS short several thousand shares of BP. 4,000 shares at $48 and another 4,000 shares at $37. That's over a couple hundred thousand dollars betting BP will fail.

JH - Not trusting Matt Simmons and not trusting BP are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

While I have no knowledge of the tech aspects of this event halving never worked in the field I do have some experience in journalism, and I just wanted to propose that the fed and bp have themselves to blame for all the doomsday chatter floating around out there. It really shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that the average individual, w/o the benefit of the tech understanding such as those here on TOD have, are seeing cover up and conspiracy. Since the beginning the steps taken regarding media coverage and flow of information to the public have been mind numbingly misleading, inconsistent, contradictory (i.e thad allen stating "no restrictions for media access", then making it a felony to come with 65 ft of anything to do with clean up and recovery)and at times outright lies. For example, BP claimed the media was free to interview workers, but then we have you tube videos showing a local news caster being run off by BP security, while others get the boot from the national guard. In stead of something resembling open and free reporting we get canned press conferences, pre selected photo ops, and updates that don't really tell us anything concrete even when there is a situational change sometime during the day. This recent seepage flash from the AP is a perfect example, I mean this isn't god like productions or even infowars saying this it's the AP they check there sources for reliability, they have to maintain credibility. I took this to mean the official was concerned and had reason to believe this was not naturally occurring as Im thinking they would have investigated that before leaking it to the AP. And yet here we sit with no follow up, no explanation and no data. This is a disturbing trend that leaves people in the dark and guessing with nowhere to turn except matt simmons and his ilk.

I've said this previously - the history of this sort of thing is that conspiracy theories run rampant with all of these events. Look at 9/11, which despite the detail which this was documented still spawns legions of such theories.

Yes BP is not doing a good job disseminating information. Part of that may be incompetence, or it may be for legal reasons. But there isn't any reason to believe that if they were completely open that we wouldn't still have these theories.

Speaker: I said at the beginning that no matter how much data BP or gov released many would say it was not enough or not believe it.There are reams of data available online, at all the sites and on Facebook. Things are updated daily. Three quarters of the questions raised here are by people who refuse to look at the data where the answers often exist.
Furthermore, posters read news reports done by reporters who grab lines from interviews or wires services. These same posters, who often claim to be knowledgeable, will not go to the source material to actually learn the context. Of course this takes time and the ability to assimilate. Easier to make accusations and ignore data and facts.

I agree to a degree, conspiracy tinted sights would still be pushing the doomsday aspects of this story, that's their bread and butter but it's not just them pushing the possibility of something catastrophic. It's been everywhere in the MSM from the huffington post to msnbc. There are people who are taking people like matt simmons at his word who normally wouldn't, who don't even know infowars exists, I'm talking about well grounded ordinary people who are now seriously concerned that something is wrong. So while I believe the theories would still be out there (i.e 9/11) I also feel they would not be as wide spread or taken seriously by as many people as they are if authorities (bp or fed) would do a better job, as you say "disseminating information".

I commented on an earlier thread about Boa Deep C ROV2's thrusters stirring up silt.
Dive 51

Here's a Youtube version :

alanf777 | July 19, 2010
BP Oil Spill
Boa Deep C Rover 2 -- silt stirred up by thrusters
July 15, 2010 18:05:17 CDT

Sorry for the Moire Patterns ... this was a video recorded on my Konica Minolta A2, 15FPS, hand-held off my computer screen. Best to turn the sound off -- just the noise in my office.

Sorry, conspiracy theorists -- it wasn't a seafloor blow-out.

- - - - - -

If anyone wants to see the original 32MB .MOV file, email me : af
DOT net

I have a bunch of other clips recorded around the same time -- though only one of them caught an oil drop emerging from the sea floor.

I plucked this off one of the the ROV feeds. Can anybody tell me what it's showing?



Since it appears that the NOAA has been less than forthcoming with information (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/13/noaa-hoarding-key-data-on_n_645...), is it possible that this Simmons fellow, for some reason is the recepient of important information from NOAA folks, but being not super-well-versed on the subject, and perhaps with a financial interest at stake, he garbles/horriblizes some of it?

He apparently took the TJ report of oil concentrations in parts per million, turned it into an undersea lake of "black oil" and then ascribed the finding to them. If the TJ report that's online at the NOAA site misrepresents what they found, there'll be hell to pay.

The problem is that MOST reports have not been made publically avaialable, so we literally don't know what they say.

My question is, as stated above, is it possible that he is getting "inside" information, which has not been yet released to the public.

Read the link, if you have time. Apparently the great majority of NOAA information is not yet publically known.

It seems reasonable to assume that dispersed oil will spend some time underwater at some levels of concentration.

Dispersed, yes. Been reported by more than one credible source. Lake of oil? Simmons only, and then bloggers who picked it up and ran wild with it.


Oil spill media blackout UPDATE for Tampa, Florida: Gulf oil spill sea floor leak now confirmed

BP has confirmed that there is an oil leak on the sea floor several miles away from the Deepwater Horizon's damaged blowout preventer. The undisclosed specific location of the sub- sea leak is reported to be billowing oil and deadly methane gas.

While the live BP video feed has been focused on the BOP, some oil industry experts have suggested that the leak being reported today has been played down, despite a report from Florida Senator Bill Nelson last month. (See video below)

The third oil leak, which was admitted to by BP shorty after the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20,1020, may now be emerging from behind what many believe has been an oil spill media blackout.

On May 5, 2010 BP confirmed that one of three initial leaks had been plugged. The second leak is the one millions of people have been watching through the BP live video feed. However, the third leak has been virtually ignored.

In the early stages of the 90 day-old disaster, oil industry expert Matt Simmons told NBC News that a major area of seepage was coming from an area about 7 miles from the well. Simmons called it the “elephant behind the mouse.”

Residents in the Tampa Bay area have been concerned over the lack of available information on the potential risks from the disaster.

Should the sea floor leak announced today be confirmed in same location as the one Simmons and Senator Nelson have reported, then BP and the government have been aware of it all along, further substantiating fears of an oil spill media blackout.

Tobin has no credibility and has pumped out lots of scary stories. Add her to the list of the people who disgust me. Simmons has not pinpointed an area, so now anything that seeps could be The One. If nothing else, Simmons has created a pro-Simmons legion of hacks.

I have not found www.examiner.com to be reliable. It's really just a collection of un-edited blogs. Some bloggers are good. Some are nut cases.

Triple-check anything you read there.

Um, nice video, where's the oil?

I have been following the discussion at TOD for a few weeks, less for technical info than to see the ebb and flow of opinion and emotion around this problem.
I have had business responsibility for 500+ well, almost all gas and all onshore. I had to make "owner's risk" decisions by listening to technical advice, then integrating it with economic, reputational and ethical considerations. Then I lived with the results of my decisions.
I had read detailed reports on the BP refinery and pipeline accidents, concluded that they had a very bad safety culture, and for years have been buying any gas but BP. Big deal, right? But that was my decision.
Things change after a blowout. We had one onshore that took 21 days and $17 million to contain - thank you Lloyds! The issues in that one were remarkable similar the the Macondo. We had suspect casing and 14% H2S. The well was deeper and higher pressure, but we didn't have 5,000 feet of water to contend with. Long and short, a few hundred of the most competent people in the world showed up and in a most methodical way capped the well and diverted the flow into burn pits until a pipeline was connected.
You are watching the same thing here. Smart people, most of them contractors, have converged to work through this. They are not idiots or charlatans, but professionals who solve problems like this around the world every day, without help from CNN, Matt Simmons or Secretary Chu. Every piece of metal attached to that well, from the riser to the bottom of the BOP, represented both a problem and a potential tool. They have methodically worked their way backward, exploring the potential of each piece to solve all or part of the problems.
As for Matt Simmons, let's say, "read Matt, put your money on L.E. (his brother)." You can argue for or against Matt as an investment guy, but I am not getting myself into a lather over his cutting-edge theories on geology and petroleum engineering. Spin your wheels over his theories if you wish, but I'm guessing you'll just put a lot of miles on your odometer without getting anywhere.

Many people relief stress by lashing out at those nearest to them. They are not fun to be around. I for one find some peoples perspectives on what they believe to be fascinating at times.

BP just canceled its 2:30 CDT "PM Technical Briefing." As someone noted, they canceled the morning briefing as well.

First, many thanks to all the knowledgeable people who have contributed to this forum. I'm infinitely wiser for having read their comments.

Second, I'm reading that oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico are very common. One of the many articles on Google is this:


Can any of those familiar with the Gulf confirm this.......