BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Bubble, Bubble Oil and Trouble - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6756.

Update 2:30 pm EDT: Original leak on the pipe has been sealed, but there are two major leaks on the stack now. One is at the bottom of the new "cap" and the other is on both sides of the BOP just underneath the flex joint. Lots of hydrates above the leaks.

Update 1:00 pm EDT: Chuck Watson has an update on the potential for a tropical storm, added to the end of this post.

I rather suspect that we will know a lot more about the behavior of the sediments and matter at the bottom of the Gulf within the next year or so than we have learned in the past hundred years. I am looking at the view from the Skandi ROV 2 at 10 am on Monday, and it is looking at a patch of mud that is bubbling a little, though over a relatively significant area (that of the camera illumination). There is no trace of oil venting and flowing upwards (and a fish just swam by) so there will be, no doubt, some samples taken, and, over time, we will learn what is the cause.

There were other views, from different ROVs that seemed to show clouds of something, but the definition was poor, and it was not clear that this was not mud that the ROV itself had stirred up. This has been the case several times today, in watching the video, though there were, in the seep area, shots of small drops of oil heading up to the sea surface.

Given the debate that is developing between BP and the panel that advises Secretary Chu and Admiral Allen, the redirection of the thought process to include another attempt at a top kill, brings in a whole pile of new matter to be used in those discussions.

As the day continued there has been clarification of the remarks that both Admiral Allen and Kent Wells have made in the past, as well as an update on the relief well progress, and the resurrection of the idea of possibly doing a top kill. The test has been allowed to be continued another 24 hours, and it has been determined that the anomaly on the BOP is a slight leak on the flexible joint.

Looking at the Kent Wells conference at 5 pm, he began by reporting on the status of the relief well:

Our first relief well, the total depth is at 17862, that’s our casing point. We’re four feet horizontally from the Macondo well at 2.8 degrees and we’re looking directly at the Macondo well. So we’re absolutely perfectly positioned. The team is feeling very good about how they’ve set this well up.

They’re now in the process of what we call opening the hole. So they’re drilling the hole a little bit bigger diameter and then on Wednesday, Thursday we’ll run casing and cement is in place and there’s some testing to do followed by the drill out and ranging runs

The pressure in the well itself has risen to over 6810 psi and is rising at about 1 psi per hour. This lower pressure than the pressures originally estimated makes it possible to reconsider the top kill option. This is where, by feeding mud into the top of the well through the kill line, while the well is shut-in, the mud fills up the well. (The oil and gas are pushed back into the formation). Then should they be able to fill the well up with this mud, the weight of the full column of it, down the well, would be high enough to balance the pressure of the oil in the formation. At this point, rather than the well being shut in by the cap, it becomes killed by the mud pressure on the flow.

There is no longer any concern about pumping the mud in at any high rate of pressure, since the flow is already stopped. Instead the mud flow and pressure can be set to a slightly higher pressure than currently is in the well, and then slowly increase the flow to fill the well, without bringing the pressure to such a high level as to further compromise the well integrity. The injection would be followed with cement, to seal the well at the top of the underground part. This would later be followed by the well intersection by the relief well, and an injection of cement at the bottom of the well.

There are three areas where concern has been raised over the possibility of oil escaping the well below the sea bed and migrating back up to the surface. This is why the ROVs are located around the well monitoring the sea bed itself. There are, as noted earlier, patches where the sea bed is evidently bubbling (in that you can see where the bubbles pop out of the mud). But there is no sign of gas or oil then slowly rising to the sea surface from the bubble action. It may, therefore be something like a field of clams sitting below the surface and aspirating and then spitting out some of the sea water. This action is not at the moment of concern, BP has checked the fluid coming out of the sediment and it is running at around 15% methane, which could just arise (according to Mr Wells) from biodegradation in the mud below the sea bed.

There is a natural seep some two miles from the site. This hydrocarbon flow has been tested and is not related to the Deepwater Spill. And so the only other area of concern is a very small leak coming out from the seal in the flexible joint (which, if you remember was straightened before the new cap was installed). The leak, at the moment is very small, and not of that much concern. However, if the leak starts to get bigger, and then turn into a stream, it may pick up some of the sand that is reported as being a concern from being in the BOP assembly. This will then, at the pressures anticipated, be enough to erode out the leak to an unacceptable size within a couple of hours. For now, however, it is very small, and not continuous flow, and so can be viewed with less concern, relative to other issues.

The leak was detected in a flange between the top of the well and the rams that regulate flow up the main bore.

Video footage is showing some hydrate build up on the outside of the stack and scientists believe a small amount of oil and natural gas is leaking out.

Allen said the leak is not expected to hurt performance of the device and is not seen as a threat to its structural integrity.

Update 1:00 pm EDT by Oil Drum staff member Chuck Watson

The strong tropical disturbance that is currently just north of Puerto Rico has the potential to become the next hurricane of the season as it moves into the Bahamas and south Florida. The "Official" forecast (red line in the graphic) shows it just reaching hurricane force before landfall. The HWRF model, which is a newer model that is increasingly trusted by the community (bright yellow line) keeps it as a strong tropical storm after exiting Florida. Most of these tracks would create problems for cleanup operations (although, as discussed, a direct hit by a wet tropical storm or minimal hurricane could be beneficial). If the storm spins up into a strong tropical storm, and looks to cross Florida as forecast, expect the Oil/Gas industry to start preparations and shut-ins late Thursday and Friday. It's a long way out, with lots of uncertainties, but this one might be our next disruptive event for the Gulf.

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8. Yes, HO and others have put up many counterarguments to the "DougR" comment. There are many many links, but the first one was here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6609. If you ask in the thread nicely, they will also point you to others.

This is a reply to the question in the last thread about what kind of cement was used, plus some other comments.

Its API class H, which is like regular cement but manufactured to higher standards.

Haven't seen an additive list for this job, but nitrogen was added for sure to bring the density down a bit and I fully expect to see some retarder in there too. With a bottom hole temp over 200*F cement sets VERY quickly with no retarder...

I was very surprised at the poor design of the cement job. Seems like this was business as usual though, and I guess that trend has been creeping in for years. Cementing offshore, or indeed onshore is far from the precise analytical process Halliburton and others would like you to believe.

Anchoring a string of production casing with a 50bbl cement job at this depth, and expecting a good seal around a 7"/9 7/8" tapered string is begging for problems. Wiper plugs simply don't work as well in tapered strings and so the risk of contaminating the cement job with drilling mud is much higher.

It can easily take 50bbls of mix water just to get the slurry completely stable and up to spec if the system or cementer is having a bad day. To get around that, pump big cement jobs. Use additives to tailor the weight and other characteristics to the job, but pump LOTS of cement. This also helps to mitigate some of the channeling issues Halliburton identified in their elegant, analytical, theoretical modeling tool.

Reading a couple of the emails going back and forth, there appears to be an underlying concern about getting the casing stuck in the hole. I hope the inquiry explores this further. I'm not clear if BP was more concerned about time to install the centralizers (and ten hours seems WAY too high), or if they were more concerned about all that 'jewelery' contributing to sticking the casing before cementing.

BTW, the bow-type centralizers being discussed do a poor job of holding the casing off the wall of the hole even on a good day. Too springy. Its easy to compress a bow and let the casing contact the wall of the hole.

I think the whole centralizer thing is largely a red herring. The big issue is the titchy cement job. Talk about planning to fail... I worry that this is an industry standard now, not just a BP standard. That would be very bad news.

Next, CBLs (cement bond logs). I'm one of a group of people that has actually had the opportunity to physically validate multiple CBLs.

We did a lot of slot recovery in the North Sea, like something over 100 wells. That means you cut/pull/mill the 9 5/8" casing from surface down to just above the 7" production liner so the 12 1/4" hole can be sidetracked off to a different down-hole destination to recover oil from a different part of the reservoir.

The 9 5/8 is theoretically cemented from the bottom of the hole all the way to surface. A CBL has been run all the way up the 9 5/8. It indicates some of the 9 5/8 has a good bond, some has a poor bond, some has no bond at all.

In reality, we could just as easily have thrown the CBL in the garbage for all the good they did. We cut and pulled thousands of feet of casing that was indicated to have a good bond, and we had to mill thousands of feet of casing that showed no bond at all. Then again, sometimes the casing was exactly like the bond logged showed.

A CBL is a crutch, but its no substitute for a decent cement job and from what I have seen so far in the well design the cement designs are sub-standard at best.

I think I read that that cement mix was an expanding type. True?

Not sure. Haven't seen any real details on the slurry composition aside from knowing its foamed. The foam component adds some expansion just by its nature rising in the annulus and experiencing pressure reduction as it rises.

The best document regarding cementing I have seen is here http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/HAL-Production.Casing... , but it still doesn't address slurry composition.

"I think the whole centralizer thing is largely a red herring. "

Maybe you are using the red herring term differently, but if BP's Dreiiling Engineer Team Leader went to the lengths he did to raise this issue internally, it is certainly more than a red herring. It is evidence that BP rejected sound engineer advice in favor of economic considerations. It does not matter if such a decision causes the structural failure. It is damning enough on its own to warrant legal consequences.

As an aside, I am a bit befuddled when i hear time and again that this or that regulation or procedure or test did not really matter. Centralizers don't matter, and they don't work even if they did. CBL tests don't work and are not worth the time to take them. They did not like the first pressure test, so they went back and did a second with different procedures hoping to alter the results. And now we have BP claiming the results showed no lost returns while the evidence contradicts that. There was apparently no protocal for recording the results in a manner that would prevent such confusion ir lying

It seems like the oil patch badly needs standarized practices and procedures that people can't just dismiss away as meaningless.

Syncro, my opinion is based on running or supervising a Haliburton or Dowell-Schlumberger pump truck or offshore skid unit in many pleasant and unpleasant parts of the world before I got into the fishing and tool design business.

I guess you understand the difference between precision input and precision output and why precision output in the absence of precision input is a fallacy. And you also understand the differences between a precise mathematical model and imprecise real world conditions.

Let me clarify my position. The Halliburton models project fantastic accuracy, to many decimal places.

The real world of pumping cement deals with reality, which is highly variable and subject to all kinds of negative input not quantified in the models. Like the bulk system isn't working today because it has a bunch of lumps in the tanks due to high humidity in the pressurization air supply, or a pump starts jacking for no apparent reason, or the hole has a bunch of ledges that throw your centralization program right out the window.

I repeat, the emphasis on the centralizers and the CBL are both red herrings. Now if you said, hey - why didn't they run a quick temp log to confirm that the top of cement is in the expected spot? I would agree with you. But that still doesn't address the REAL problem here which is scabby little cement jobs that don't put enough cement in the ground. If you only put 1' of cement on something to hold it in place, that cement had better be damn perfect. If you put 100' of cement on something to hold it in place, you have more margin for error. This job was much closer to the 1' model.

There is an old oilfield saying - Cement is cheap, use lots of it. There is another old oilfield saying - Engineers and O-rings f!sked up the oilfield. The Halliburton cementing model is a masterpiece of engineering, but it removes the common sense aspects and replaces them with a false veneer of supposed accuracy.

What I'm actually seeing in the testimony at the combined investigation is a much more serious problem than not running a few centralizers or even a screwed up cement program.

The element of common sense decision-making offshore by the man on the spot has been severely eroded. Decisions are made in town, largely at the behest of engineers. Or to satisfy some mickey-mouse regulation.

Seriously, get a grip. The oilfield, and particularly exploration wells in the oilfield, demand creativity grounded in experience and competence. NO TWO ARE the same, that's one of the reasons they are called 'exploration'.

And you advocate more regulation and more standardization in place of competence. Hmmm.

And you advocate more regulation and more standardization in place of competence.

JTF, your points are well taken, but I hope personal animosity will not mar or limit what might turn out to be a real learning experience for all of us.

I read fairly religiously, and have enough real world experience in running a logging, farming, fishing machine shop and boat construction operation to follow most of this.

I haven't noticed a drive to regulation and standardization to the exclusion of competence here. Quite the opposite, I've notice a drive to oversight and inspection, with exactly your desire to minimize unqualified micromanagement by desk types.

Nonetheless, because it's a world-shaking event when one of these variations from good procedure occurs, there needs to be layers of redundancy, not just the whole enterprise on the back or brain of one competent person.

Do you agree? Could you give us your management structure that would minimize the possibility of another event?

There are obviously people reading these discussions who have the power to implement what you want, if you explain it calmly and in detail. Many examples of such management plans are on the site.

Thanks again for your expertise.

ormondotvos, your point is well taken. Unlike the unflappable and highly esteemed Rockman, I irritate easily.

The lawyers are circling, and I suspect the chances of anything good coming out of this disaster are disappearing fast.

Back in the day there was one go-to guy on the rig for the operator, in this case BP. There may also have been a night company man, but he was clearly junior and accountable to the day company man in the management structure. The day company man was likely called an Offshore Drilling Supervisor or something quite similar.

On a deep exploration well, he probably also had a Drilling Engineer, who reported vertically to the Drilling Supervisor offshore, and laterally to his boss in Drilling Engineering onshore.

The drilling supervisor reported to a Drilling Manager onshore, who probably had responsibility for 2-4 platforms or floating/jackup rigs.

Drilling programs are normally written by the Drilling Engineering dept in town, but can and are normally changed on the rig to suit actual conditions during consultation with town. There is an expectation that money is not going to be wasted and operations are to be conducted efficiently, but the experience level offshore typically ensures that silly stuff doesn't happen. This also includes the service company staff who are expected to be competent and experienced. Trainees are allowed but only accompanying an experienced hand.

Contrast that with BP structure today. Two Wellsite team leaders. Both equal rank, both reporting to a Well team leader ashore. Clear statements in testimony today the BP is run by a committee structure, with all decisions being made in town, then implemented on the rig. They are given a program, they execute that program. A lot of reporting is tailored specifically to MMS requirements, although Rockman has a much better feel for this aspect.

I'm also not getting a great feeling about Transocean. Again, feels like a lot of complacency, and too much control devolved to the operator of the well (BP). A few years ago, the Drilling Company OIM had much more input and control. If he thought something was out of order in the program, things came to a halt until the issue was resolved.

This created some tension, but at the end of the day that was probably to the good.

I know this doesn't answer your specific question about management structure, but to be honest I prefer the old way of direct accountability and a single person in charge, responsible and accountable. Too mushy for my liking now...

JTFish, I don't think we're disagreeing. My only point was that BP rejected the advice of its engineers, and it did so pretty clearly on the basis of cost considerations.

If you are saying the engineers are so out of touch with the real world conditions, that their warnings and opinions are meaningless, or red herrings, then that presents a whole new set of problems. But the fact remains, BP dismissed the warnings of its own engineers and Haliburton's analysis, with regard to the item that failed and caused the blowout. That may not be significant when you're pumping cement, but it is when the law kicks in.

Same with the CBL. I hear again and again that it's a worthless test, so no need to follow the regulations requiring that test. That may be true in the field, but after a disaster, in the courtroom, it is very significant.

I don't pretend to know what the answers are. But I do know enough to ask basic questions that I know will be important and will have to be answered going forward, even if they may be inconsequential in the field. Engineers' warnings were ignored. Tests were skipped. Tests procedures were varried, results were ignored. Regulations were ignored. With all due respect, your explanation won't cut it in the court room. I don't mean that in a belitting way. I understand your point. I do not dispute it.

But the disconnect between the engineering advice and the field practice, between the regs and the actual practices, is a problem in itself. And I do think the lack of clear procedures and standards are also part of that problem, not based on my expertise in O/G, but based on how many different views there are out there on what is acceptable practice, and based on how BP/TO applied/skirted them in this case.

Thanks for taking the time to write your very informative response, and for the important and interesting points you make. I would love to hear more from someone with you expertise on the casing design and how it impacted cementing. I've done a bit of concrete work in other contexts (pouring a dam's spillways, nuclear waste storage containers) so it is an area i have a particular interest in (but not corresponding knowledge/education).

I have a question about the capped well. Sorry if its been asked before, I couldn't find it in the past few threads, but its hard to search anything with "methane" without many dozens of posts showing.

So if the well bore is completely closed and non-flowing, is the top of the bore filling with methane and lighter oil fractions? If there was a stationary mixed column in the bore, I would expect it start separating immediately. Is it possible that the bore could eventually completely fill with methane over time as the gas goes up to the top of the bore? Or is it under such pressure and temperature that it is liquid in the bore?

I'm sure they consider this stuff for their operations, I'm just curious myself.


Thane --yes...the oil/NG would segregate to some point in the wellbore while it's not flowing. The oil/NG level could be calculated if we had enough data and a good computer model. Just a very WAG on my part: the upper 500' of the csg is free gas. And don't you dare quote me on that.

If we got 500' of gas at the top of the well, where is the oil coming from that is leaking from the flanges that HOS ROV 1 is looking at?

Seems to me that we got oil clear up to that flange, right?

Now, THAT'S the most interesting observation I have read all day. I'm serious. Thanks for posting it. Now I am having cognitive dissonance. Oh, well, it's happened before.

Very good point!
BUT when I was a kid there was an abandoned open well in the pasture that bubbled foam all the time. Crude oil can foam from the gas in it. Could the oil that is seen leaking be from a oil gas foam in the well?

PS. Went by that well a few years ago and it had a valve tree on it.

Re your point 8. Is it really necessary to still refer to the "DougR" comment? I think everyone's forgotten about it by now.

my - Once they kill the well by bull heading mud down the csg they'll be in a fairly standard mode. Really no different than an normal plug and abandon. They'll go to bottom with drill pipe and circulate the mud to remove any remaining oil/NG. They had not set any other plugs before the well blew. They'll probably sqz cmt into the bottom of the csg first and then set a number of other plugs as they come back up the hole. They might do some pressure test on the csg as they come up to see if there are any other potential problems they need to cmt. The cmt doesn't kill the well per se. The mud did that. The cmt just makes sure the well stays kilt.

jg -- I'm not sure Wright has a good handle on the injection pressure required. They can run the hydraulic models but a big factor will be how well the reservoir takes the injection. The reservoir could have been damaged by the high flow rates and that could require a higher pressure than they would normally estimate. That's a good reason to pump slow: the reservoir will take fluid only so fast. But even at a slow rate of 10 bbls per minute there's only around 1,200 bbls of csg volume to displace. if I recall correctly the original top kill effort got up to 60 bbls/minute.

kall -- I just don't trust the data we've been fed to make a call on static vs. bottom kill. I'll just watch for Wright's recommendation (if they'll really tell us) and go from here.

Henry -- There's a stack of reports about 3" thick done by various independent companies that show the MMS exactly where the BP well is. There is no mystery as to where the well is located.

nerd -- I hate to give such a simplistic answer but these decisions almost always boil down to judgment call more than black and white numbers on the monitor. Make a good call and all is well. A bad call and you might harm the environment. make a really bad call and you might kill someone. Just the nature of the job.

In a previous thread at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6753#comment-682605 "is there intelligent life in the universe" said

Oly ROV1... gushing

I reviewed the last 3 1/2 hours of my saved OLY ROV1 video . . . I didn't see anything that couldn't be described as silt being kicked up by the thrusters.

Back a couple of months ago, when the ROVs would go through oil clouds, you would see oil droplets stick to the lens, and they would have to blow it off with the little fans. I didn't see anything like that.

What a waste of time . . .

JamesRWhite said in the last thread, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6753#comment-682555

Alarms not working? Critical systems bypassed? Safety systems inoperable for months on end? Failure of backup systems?

This is unacceptable. This safety culture is unacceptable.

People in denial of resource limits, Peak Oil, Global warming? Mono culture agriculture, excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, antibiotics? Destruction of rain forests, ocean fisheries, sensitive ecosystems? Failure of ecosystems that have been pushed past tipping points and are no longer able to recover and support us...

This is unacceptable. This safety culture is unacceptable.

But we continue with BAU regardless of all the accumulated knowledge that a change of course is urgently needed. Economic growth, pedal to the metal! Drill Baby Drill!

KABOOOOOM!!!! Uh, what happened?! Nobody could have seen any of this coming...

Are humans safer than yeast?

OK, so they position a ROV so that all you see is the silt it kicks up?

I saw gushing. Like I've been seeing for months. Gone now.
I've also seen silt being kicked up. It looks quite different.

I hate this waiting and waiting.

I saw it. Whatever it is, it's not a gush. A gush is what was coming out of the stack before it was capped. I'm not targeting you, IIILITU, but I'm taking the opportunity to get something off my chest.

One of my beefs is the inappropriate usage of hyperbolic terms. This isn't simply English major nitpicking. It scares people unnecessarily, and as TFHG wrote in the last thread, it has real consequences for people's emotional and mental health.

Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud....



Maybe I've missed it,but what is +10? ( and I HAVE looked )

"+10" means snakehead approved of what arraya said. Some bulletin-board/web-chat systems allow people to assign scores to postings. This doesn't but some people use +n or -n as shorthand for support/approval or for disapproval.


I could easily be wrong, but I believe '+10' signifies (emphatic) agreement with the (immediately) previous post...

Peter B.


OK, so they position a ROV so that all you see is the silt it kicks up?

Yes, regularly. Two common reasons off the top of my head.

1. They parked up. The ROV is not required for a period so they simply park on or near the bottom, either with the thrusters thrusting down to keep the ROV there, which stirs up some stuff, or station keeping with the thrusters thrusting gently upwards to counteract the weight of the ROV, also kicking up silt.

2. They are performing a sonar survey at the time. ROV parks up, thrusting as above to maintain a steady position whilst the pilot observes the sonar. You don't get to see the sonar, just one of the cameras, which the pilot is not interested in at that point.

A ROV parking may stir up mud/silt from the seabed. But it won't be long. What observed last night at Skandi ROV 2 is different. The disturbance continued for just too long time.
Wonder anyone saw it. What's up there?

If the ROV is parked on Auto Hover near the bottom he could be kicking up some mud from thruster wash for as long as he is there. ROVs rarely sit on the bottom, they usually hover in place.

If an ROV tries to hold a position inches to a few feet off the seabed while doing a sonar sweep, I could see dust being kicked up for half an hour. It isn't like parking your car and then pulling out of a parking space; the ROVs can hover very close to the sea floor with thrusters constantly on to hold it's position.

OK. A ROV holding a position close to the seabed would kick up dust. Very reasonable.

Shouldn't the ROV stay away from that distance so things could stay as close as it was for better observation. We want to know if there is any bubbling up near the well site. That is one major reason for continuing test.

Wish they showed the ROV at some point.

Appreciate your response.

The bottom in this part of the GOM isn't like what you see on a sandy beach; it is a "mud" made up of very fine sediments that have settle of out the discharge from the Mississippi River for a very long time (plus the usual biological material and "sea snot" that settles out of the water column). It is a semi-gelatinous gunk. It is also very deep; about 1,000 feet as I recall and becomes more increasingly more consolidated with depth from the mudline down (and age in geologic time scales.)

If you could dive this deep, you wouldn't be able to stand on the bottom without sinking into it a fair way. All of the equipment (boxes, manifolds, etc.) that you see on the bottom are typically sitting on "mud mats" that have been placed there so stuff won't sink into the mud.

Thruster output hitting this type of bottom doesn't produce "dust" but, instead, a silt storm (a.k.a. a sh*t storm.)

Remember, it is easy to lose the sense of scale in these videos. These ROVs are very large; the big ones about the size of a UPS truck and have 250 horsepower-motor drives. In other words, the water streams from these thrusters can have a lot of force behind them.

Combine loosely-consolidated sediments with thruster flows of this force and you get a sh*t storm every time an ROV is close to the bottom and is using its thrusters; some are in the cameras' view, some are not.

I have seen a "shimmer" of sediment wash up when an ROV cruises by at a certain altitude above the bottom (as seen from a second ROV); but the ROV passing by has to be relatively high for this to occur. Otherwise it is a sh*t storm of both cloudly brown water with varying degrees of bigger/smaller clumps of bottom material (think divots).

Yes, this is all tricky for the pilot to get close to the bottom and, if cameras are needed, to fly the ROV in a way to minimize the number sh*t storms in the camera view. There will likely always be some; unavoidable. These pilots are very good, however.

Well if they were using the cameras for observation, yes they should stay away from the seafloor because the dirt kicked up would decrease visibility. But if the ROV is hovering for a sonar run, they don't really care about what dirt is kicked up. There have been shots of ROVs from other ROVs; it might be helpful to have one watch as one hovered near the sea floor to see the affect, but they're all no doubt busy.

You missed my point, maybe I didn't make it clear enough. Both scenarios that I outlined involve the ROV thrusters running CONTINUOUSLY. The sh*t storm doesn't quickly subside in either case.

I haven't seen the video referred to, so I won't comment further, preferring evidence and deduction to speculation and assumption.

so I won't comment further, preferring evidence and deduction to speculation and assumption.

Thanks for making that statement!

Far too much scary speculation about the meaning of this type of thruster-blown silt shown in the ROV video. It is all over YouTube. Read some of the comments and misinterpretations there; really scary. All of the silt is assumed to be oil explosions! Same thing on many of the blogs passing on the videos. Higher level than the usual end-of-days traffic.

Misinterpretation of these videos has scared a lot of people unnecessarily.

Rovman, thanks for your efforts.

These thruster-blown-silt videos presented as "oil explosions" are becoming an Internet meme (or have already). I started getting the usual bulk e-mail forwards with links to these YouTube videos today (first about an hour ago). You know, those thing you usually get as forwards from your family with bad jokes or cute pictures (" ... and be sure and forward this to all of the people on your mailing list") ... grrr.

Hit home today: I just called an elderly family member out of state to "talk her down." She thought that the GOM was exploding and was concerned about me in Dallas as being "too close;" did I want to come to her place in New York? She caught Simmons on MSNBC last week and then got one of these e-mail forwards from a friend today that she forwarded to me. Sweet little old lady truly alarmed by this hokum.

I'm beginning to wonder if this disinformation isn't being pushed from somewhere .... wait, I see a vast global conspiracy ;-)

Putting on my tin foil hat of a moment: [wild speculation on] ... I wonder if we're starting to see the heavy-breather crowd starting to actually push this as a meme in some organized way? You know … a dose of Matt Simmons and some links to some of these YouTube videos as "proof" would make a doomsday scenario look very plausible if someone didn't know any better (the general public). Then, of course, add is some more claims that this is "proof being suppressed by powers that be." I wonder if an organized push has started to try an drive such a viral result? Would make a great way to sell some books and generate web traffic to ad-based websites. [wild speculation off]

... and drive BP's stock down.

Hmmmm ... those shorting BP stock gaming the system?

I was CEO of a small publicly-held broadband company until a few years ago (through the dot-com bust and the teco meltdown and recovery.) In these periods the shorts were the bane on my existance (becuase shorting was a very good play for many companies in the sector.) The gambits/scams that have been played by the shorts have been pretty unbelievably bold at times. Typically, hard for these memes impact anything very radically on anything but the small-caps and pinks UNLESS the meme gets to be a really big this scale. BP's situation certainly has the potential.

Wonder what the current short position in BP looks like? Naked shorts? Beachmommy, what's do you see?

Shorting BP right now seems dangerous to me unless there are shorts that haven't yet cover their position and someone needs to manipulate the stock lower so they can cover at a lower price. Pretty dumb, but I've seen it in the small caps before.

Bbfellow; As an outsider looking in at these threads and various other internet based threads, conspiratorial or not, it concerns me that the obvious is always pushed to the side. For every wild conspiracy notion there seems to be a very concise technical explanation and corresponding diatribe about all the wacko's mainstream or not. My question than is related to the facts, if everything is so cut and dried and all of the various calculations of pressure and mud consistency and well depth can be explained by all of the geo-engineers or oil industry hard cores, why is there so much secrecy? Any other disaster, natural or otherwise the media is allowed to interview everyone including the neighbors dog to find out what it is like to be homeless or what do you think about all that water or what a tremendous funnel cloud that was. Why the secrecy here? This little video that BP has been putting up for everyone for the last 90 plus days that is supposed to be accounting for 30-60 thousand barrels of oil a day is a play!! The flow rate on that video doesn't even come close to this sort of volume. Since all of the technical calculations are astute and proper lets throw them aside, because we have no real basis for establishing the conclusions. Everyone one of the calculations make an assumption that has not yet been proven, just like the blown out hole miles away has not been proven. This is a tragedy of immense proportion, and I can tell you that reasonable people really do with this had not happened, but it has. Any attempt by our government or BP to cover up material elements of this catastrophe has the potential to kill people. Why has this toxic dispersant been allowed to be sprayed? My understanding from scientists on this product is that its sole purpose was to keep the oil below the surface? Why do that? Let it come to the surface and be skimmed. What is there to hide? Why is there such a lack of information? As time has progressed here the true elements of nature has exposed very strange behavior in our government and BP, as I believe Matt Simmons has tried to do. Quite honestly I have never heard of him before this disaster, but I can tell you that any reasonable person that believes this man would risk his credibility on the profit on a few thousand short positions in BP stock is insane!! Goldman had over a million but noone says a thing about them, and I am not anti-Goldman!! We cannot provide facts in figures for this disaster in order to discredit those that may not be as technically oriented, but may tend to be more sensational in their discussion of the disaster. I wish someone would supply us with some tangible evidence from the NOAA research vessels! How hard would it be to give us all a real picture of the gulf floor? Why all the congecture? It is hard to ignore the fact that the wildlife has left the building!! After all they are not concerned with facts and figures and only have basic instinct to go on. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the discussion.

To say Matt Simmons has a conflict of interest because he has a few thousand short positions in BP is a bit trite. This man would not risk his reputation on a trade of less than 100k. What about Gs and their shorts? I am not anti-GS, but it seems some folks have a serious ax to grind against Mr. Simmons and the supposed conspiracy crowd. I would just like to get the truth, and that is hard to do given the shroud of secrecy thrown upon us by BP and the government. Some one is hiding something!! Maybe it is big, maybe it is small I don't know, but in any other disaster the media and people are allowed free access to report the details. Why does BP buy up the keywords on the major search engines? Why are they hiring the scientists up? Why is the dispersant being sprayed to keep the oil below the surface? Why are the wildlife fleeing the scene? They have no agenda and they certainly are not intereseted in facts and figures!! Again it would seem to me despite all of the hyperbole on the well pressure and the hole diameter and the casing in the BOp and all the other myriad facts and figures of oil exploration of the past hundred years, that if you have nothing to hide you don't hide it. A ban on flyovers, get for real. What is going on out there that we can't no about? I for one surely wish this hadn't happened, because in spite of all the ecological lost, real people could potentially die from a lack of information here. There is no way that the air close to the gulf can be consistently safe to breathe given the amount of admitted oil that has been released. That is just common sense, no conspiracy theory here. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the discussion!

See http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bp-rebound-squeezes-short-sellers-2010-...

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - A month ago, when oil was still gushing from BP PLC's ill-fated well, lots of investors bet the wounded giant's U.S.-listed shares would languish below $30. So far, that strategy has backfired.

With BP shares back above $35, hordes of short-sellers are now scrambling to unwind their positions, burned by bets made in mid-June when BP's prospects for successfully plugging the well looked doubtful and the U.S. government was busy calculating how much to charge it for future clean-up costs.

bbfellow, check my post downwind re: Simmons' new venture.

Not sure which one. Could you post the permalink.

Thanks, found it.

Jeez, nobody is this dumb .... are they?

Oh, wait ... he is an investment banker ... so maybe ;-)

Looks like some of the shorts stayed too long at the party.

Exit timing is everything!

"A greedy short and his money are soon parted" a quote from me from my public-company CEO days.

Morgan Chase would certainly not be involved in any manipulation here would they?

Got a timestamp for that?

I'm no ROV expert, but I've certainly stirred up my share of silt in otherwise clear water.

So far every single "off-site oil burst" video that I have looked at has been definitively and clearly silt kicked up by the drive wash. Mostly light-brown stuff that disperses fairly quickly rather than balling up and rising away.

There have now been a couple of videos posted of verified seeps, have you looked at them yet?

- you mean this, @ about 5:00 ??

Sonar sweeps according to the bottom of the display. Low altitude hover, exactly what ROVman pointed out as a cause of extended periods of on-camera silt and bottom junk.

That is video of an ROV moving.

I'm watching Oly ROV 1.
Can someone tell me what is happening.

6. Also, if you're looking for live chat to talk about the ROV/LMRP video, etc., and are IRC capable, go to freenode, the channel is #theoildrum

(google MIRC and download it; Hit the lightening bolt and fill in your info; select the server as "freenode" (it is in the server list), hit connect; when connected type /join #theoildrum)

or you can get there just via a browser: http://webchat.freenode.net / Just enter a nickname and #theoildrum in the boxes; then when connected type /join #theoildrum)

I'd like to remind people of item #6 in the post Gail the Actuary runs every day.

IRC chat is a *much* better place to ask people "what's happening now on ROV x?". You actually can get answers live, rather than posting something which becomes irrelevant (unverifiable) a few minutes later but which litters this topic forever.

Some people may avoid IRC because they don't want to download anything (I did). With the website above you don't have to download anything -- just browse to the site, make up a nickname, and enter #theoildrum in the appropriate box.

Once they kill the well by bull heading mud down the csg they'll be in a fairly standard mode. Really no different than an normal plug and abandon. They'll go to bottom with drill pipe and circulate the mud to remove any remaining oil/NG. They had not set any other plugs before the well blew. They'll probably sqz cmt into the bottom of the csg first and then set a number of other plugs as they come back up the hole.

Without the relief well checking out the annulus of the WW 7"casing, I'd have issues with this.

If there was a flow method up both the inside of the casing AND outside the casing/inside the annulus of the 16" casing, a top kill gets complicated quickly. To go to the bottom with drill pipe, you'd have to remove the obstructions in the bad BOP, all while you had two possible routes of communication. The bullheading mud would have to not only kill the well from the central portion of the flow, but then outside the casing, and up the where the casing used to be and back up the outside of the casing to surface. How do you know you have your kill mud circulating up that route?

It stands to reason to kill the well with bullheading AND finish off with the relief well from below, because it's already there. Am I missing something?

R2 -- A dual static kill and bottom kill could be the way to go. As far as knowing if you have kill mud where you need that should be evident if the well dies. Once on bottom I would not only start setting plugs but perhaps also doing some perf jobs to check the annulus as you suggest. Given all the uncertain I would start with the assumption that there are multiple communication routes and test for them. I'm also suspiceous of shallow csg shoe integrety. The problem I see with doing that with the bottom kill is the limited option: all you can do is pump mud and hopes it goes where you need it. Doing it as I suggest might cost BP an extra $20 -30 million but it's their money...not ours.

Don't forget the holy water!

RM - Once the well is killed, then go recover your fish. That is likely not to be trivial as we have a screwed up BOP that may complicated entry attempts, and we also have a deformed top of fish from the complete/partial/whatever shearing attempt. Then again, we may have two fish in the hole side by each. At this point, who knows? But at the very least we are going to have to dress the top of the fish first before pulling it.

Agree on not knowing injection pressures. It has to be over 14.2 lb/gal that the well was drilled with, and its likely a few hundred psi above that but no one knows for sure. This is a frac job to top kill the well, and anyone that expects it to be a couple hundred psi over the shut-in pressure the BOP is currently seeing is probably kidding themselves.

As you say, this is a judgment call and we don't have the best numbers to guess from. Its going to be a gas - so to speak.

So true fish. Worse case scenario BP could spend over a $100 million cleaning out the hole and plugging it properly. Couldn't happen to a more deserving company IMHO.

fish: I would like to understand your comment. Please explain the meaning of the term "fish" in your context. Thanks.

geo - The context was that I was replying to jones the fish. Pay attention you worm. LOL. But your question does highlight why I try to limit the use of oil patch slang in my posts.

I could easily be mistaken, but I think jones the fish's reference to 'fish' in his post was to the drill pipe now stuck in the BOP.

Peter B.


Re: the fish, or perhaps fishes. That would be the 3000' of drill pipe that was hanging below the wellhead, and possibly the relatively short (maybe 15'?) of drill pipe that may have been sitting alongside the other drillpipe in the BOP.

Normally a shear ram will fold over the top of the sheared drill pipe and retain the lower piece of the drillpipe within the ram until the ram is opened. This 'flatten and fold' technique means the top of the 'fish' is going to have to be milled http://www.smith.com/Datasheets/ProdInfo.aspx?ID=66&page=65fe8cfd-d3b1-4... away get to a nice circular piece of pipe that can be 'fished' out of the hole with an overshot. http://www.pioneeroiltools.com/Catalogue%20Pages/Overshot.pdf Because the shearing operation did not complete, we really have no idea what the top of the fish is really going to look like which adds complication to an already fraught situation.

In this particular case, because the BOP is damaged to some unknown extent, it should be replaced before any other operations are undertaken.

Now it gets trickier. I have major reservations about removing the BOP even if the well is killed first. There is nothing to say the well is going to stay stable; in part because the reservoir is slowly recharging in the immediate area of the borehole, so you need at least one other method of blocking flow from the well. An example would be to run a retrievable packer like a Halliburton RTTS http://www.halliburton.com/ps/default.aspx?pageid=537&prodid=PRN::IQTV99F9W into the casing below the wellhead, which would stop flow up the casing if the well tried to kick while the BOP was off.

To get unobstructed access to the well to run an RTTS would likely be a problem as the BOP is at least somewhat inoperable now, and the extend that it is inoperable is not fully quantified. A bad scene for attempting any kind of operations...

This becomes a bit of a circular problem. We can't do A because we need B, and we can't do B because we need C.

To my tiny mind, the absolute worst outcome here would be for the well to kick while the old BOP was removed, but before a new BOP was installed. The consequences of a true "open well" flow that could not be controlled would be staggering, as in we ain't seen nothing yet!! I would go for a gentle top kill, but leave the cement job until we can use the relief well to cement from the bottom up. However, I have concerns about how much pressure would need to be used to achieve a top kill. Within my experience, its very unlikely to just be a couple of hundred psi above the current closed in pressure around 6800 psia currently.

Rockman sez:

Once they kill the well by bull heading mud down the csg they'll be in a fairly standard mode. Really no different than an normal plug and abandon. They'll go to bottom with drill pipe and circulate the mud to remove any remaining oil/NG. They had not set any other plugs before the well blew. They'll probably sqz cmt into the bottom of the csg first and then set a number of other plugs as they come back up the hole. They might do some pressure test on the csg as they come up to see if there are any other potential problems they need to cmt. The cmt doesn't kill the well per se. The mud did that. The cmt just makes sure the well stays kilt.

I have a hard time imagining this bull heading operation, since I am, for all practical purposes, a NuBe.

So you have this big hose or pipe coming from the surface. And you hook it up to what? The choke on the old BOP, or the Kill on the old BOP, or one of the ports on the new BOP stack, right? And this hose will be initially full of sea water, right? Then you open the valve, and their will be a nice pressure kick at the top, right?

Then you turn on the mud pumps and start pushing out the seawater out of the pipe with mud, which goes into the well. Since seawater is heaver than oil, that's OK . . . it might push the oil back into the formation.

But what is really confusing is that we have got TWO pipes in the old BOP, right? And no telling how far they extend down into the well below the BOP, right? So we might be pushing seawater underneath the oil if it is the path of least resistance . . . so we could be getting oil on top of seawater on top of oil situation . . . OOOOOHHHH . . . then comes the drilling mud . . . then we get a oil - seawater-mud-seawater-oil layer . . . . . OOOOOOOOHHHH . . . . this makes my HEAD HURT.

If it was my well, I would leave it buttoned up and wait for the bottom kill operation to start.

James R: I know, huh. I usually take aspirin for the headache. If its after quittin time, beer works pretty good! It's so interesting here though.

James -- Not sea water but heavy mud. But I agree: not a walk in the park by any means. It could be if you were 100% certain of the pressure integrety of all the parts of the system. It might shock some folks to hear but this process is done many times during the year in the GOM and many more times onshore. When you take a kick all you can do is shut the well in. And then what? The kick isn't going to go away by itself. Just guessing but over 35 years I would say I have had a dozen wells killed in a static mode. There is actually special equipment (a snubbing unit) designed to attach to the well head so you can go inhole with drill pipe when it's under such high pressure.

The drill pipe fish won't present a problem with the static kill as long as they can get the mud to flow past them. Fishing them out so they can get to bottom with drill pipe will be a different matter entirely.

Mr. Rockman: will there be a time in this kill procedure, as regards the cementing, they will have to fish that old drill stem out of there?

GW -- I would think so. They really need to get to the bottom of the hole to begin a proper plugging op. And they can't do that with those fish in the hole. But OTOH fishing drill pipe out a cased hole is about as easy as it gets.

Mr. Rockman: Oh, ok. I heard in ancient times, usually at the bar talking with the oil field hands after they ran most of us construction trash out, that fishing for things down there could be a real nightmare sometimes.

GW -- Fishing anything out of an open hole today can be anywhere from a small nightmare to impossible. But having a cased hole makes a world of difference. The different fishing tools can ususally latch on the the fish without much trouble IF the can get to it.That can be very difficult in a soft uncased hole.

Mr. Rockman: Ahh... if it is cased, then you have a little something to center up the fishing tool in?

I have the greatest respect for Mr. Rockman and normally agree with his comments.

However, I made a comfortable living picking up fish and designing tools to recover 'stuff' from wells. Some of those fish were originally supposed to be easy and turned out to be not quite so simple. In this instance, the top of the drill pipe has at least been squeezed flat (we believe), and may or may not be folded over too.

Or we may have had one string of drill pipe fallen as far as it can to the bottom of the hole, then another piece of drill pipe landed on top of it and split the lower one. Very hard to say for sure.

In order to get a fishing tool over the drill pipe, you need to 'clean up' the top of the fish to get a cylindrical profile for your fishing tool to grip.

May be simple, or may be something else.

Mr. Jones the fish: How in the heck does one go in there and mill that off to round again? This, to me, is quite interesting. It just brings up that old blacksmithin part of me, I guess!

You could use a junkmill http://www.smith.com/Datasheets/ProdInfo.aspx?ID=66&page=65fe8cfd-d3b1-4... or a skirted junk mill if you were worried about chewing into the casing http://www.list-company.com/leads-info/1339298/skirted-mill-Oil-Gas-Mach... (not a good pic, but the skirt controls where the milling effect takes place) .

The you would pick up the 'dressed' 'fish' with an overshot http://www.list-company.com/leads-info/1339298/skirted-mill-Oil-Gas-Mach...

You can run a pack-off inside the overshot which will allow you to circulate mud all the way through the fish and out the end once you have grabbed hold of your fish. This is handy if any sand has settled around the bottom of the fish. You can blow it out of the way, hopefully. :)

Oly ROV1... gushing


What can you see that I can't?

I've seen this so called gushing phenomenon and then I happened to glance at the heading indicator and the ROV was rotating at a pretty good clip but the "geyser" was staying right there in the center! I attribute this to two things. I think there's an optical/digital effect especially since the the picture looks like streaming video and is of pretty low resolution and subject to breakup. The other reason may be psychological, seeing what you expect to see. I'm pretty convinced it wasn't anything real.

Instead the mud flow and pressure can be set to a slightly higher pressure than currently is in the well, and then slowly increase the flow to fill the well, without bringing the pressure to such a high level as to further compromise the well integrity. The injection would be followed with cement, to seal the well at the top of the underground part.

I'm not sure I like this part one bit at all.

R2 - because...?

I can see the potential for all manner of channels not cemented up inside the busted BOP.

I was wondering about this as well, though I don't know if my reasons are the same. Mainly: does sealing the well at the top make it harder to push cement into the well from the bottom? My (possibly faulty) reasoning suggests that if the WW is capped and the RW is not, cement would be more likely to flow up the RW then into the WW.

The other question is whether it's necessary to remove drill pipe from the well before cementing -- and if so, how far down might that drill pipe go? (All the way to the RW intersection?) It seems like once you fill the well with mud, adding cement will just make it harder to clean out the well column, take out the pipe, etc. -- if that is necessary.




[edit for brevity]

I was going to mention that. I am sure they are watching this and the area in the Western Caribbean closely. If they are going to kill the well they had best get past the analysis paralysis and get it done.

If they are going to kill the well they had best get past the analysis paralysis and get it done.

Or decide that the least risky tact is to leave it shut for the duration of bad weather. If anything, it gives pause to the plan to move to collection.

Yes. If they are worried that some of these small leaks might escalate into major ones they might be considering accelerating their kill to relieve the pressure now. If it is stable making plans to just button things up and evacuate if need be makes sense.

With a possible hurricane on your doorstep in 4 days or so hooking up containment is really off the table for now.

I am sure they are on top of this right now and reviewing options for different scenarios. It is still just some 35mph stormy weather over Puerto Rico, but something developing in that area doesn't give them a lot of lead time to make a decision.

I'm rooting for CLP5!

I think worst case would be to have a second storm come in on the heels of a first one. It would seem like the deluge of the first hurricane would get that Mississippi flowing like hell and a second storm would push all that stirred up oil ashore.

If that turns into a Hurricane and the recovery teams are moved on shore, then the terms and conditions set out by Admiral Allen for the pressure test can no longer be met. He has two options, either totally relax them or order the choke line opened up to the GoM. On balance I think having a few days controlled flow into the Gulf would be better than having the well pop and possible months of uncontrolled flow.

Note Chuck Watson's insert at the bottom of HO's post up above:

Update 1:00 pm EDT by Oil Drum staff member Chuck Watson

The strong tropical disturbance that is currently just north of Puerto Rico has the potential to become the next hurricane of the season as it moves into the Bahamas and south Florida. The "Official" forecast (red line in the graphic) shows it just reaching hurricane force before landfall. The HWRF model, which is a newer model that is increasingly trusted by the community (bright yellow line) keeps it as a strong tropical storm after exiting Florida. Most of these tracks would create problems for cleanup operations (although, as discussed, a direct hit by a wet tropical storm or minimal hurricane could be beneficial). If the storm spins up into a strong tropical storm, and looks to cross Florida as forecast, expect the Oil/Gas industry to start preparations and shut-ins late Thursday and Friday. It's a long way out, with lots of uncertainties, but this one might be our next disruptive event for the Gulf.

(right click and view image to see full size)

So how'd these skeezers do it? TPM has an interesting sample:

(916) 444-7968
That's the hush-hush phone number that BP set up years ago for California politicos to call to score free tickets to Arco Arena in Sacramento: NBA games, Britney Spears concerts, you name it. At least it was hush-hush. No one picks up your call since Josh Harkinson started reporting on the BP freebie ticket scheme.

Now imagine the treats in NOLA/Baton Rouge and Houston/Austin (not to mention DC, London, et al.) . . .

It is legal in California. Much ado about nothing. So do you want to talk about what happened/happens in Illinois?

Oh, just about any ol' state will do, won't it, Dan? If we got going on a "My State's Wusser'n Yours" rodeo, no telling who'd win.

Heck --I grew up in La. Your amateur politicians wouldn't stand a chance against my croo...politicians.

No kidding! One of my favorite lines ever:

People are just going to have to hold their nose and vote for me.

A lot of people in LA think stories of elected representatives who aren't all crooks are just fairy tales.

Two words, Jim Letten. One more word. Hero.

I used to have a bumper sticker - 'Vote for the Crook - It's Important'. And it was, and I did, and he won.

I remember that one, Glenmore. Is Eddie out of the pen yet? Kinda lost track of him.

lotus -- Not yet. And they transferred his son out of dad's prison and into a bad ass sh*t hole I'm told. Someone must have PO'd someone.

Ooo wee. What'd they get his son for?

lotus -- Not sure but I thnk it was all part of the casino license scam.

My all time favorite was when our famous Cajun ex. Governor said that he was going to win unless they caught him "in bed with a dead girl or a live boy".

Yeah, that was my runner up after "hold your nose".

His answer to the greatest living pol ? was a classic too.

I heard a quote attributed to LBJ that he was going to win a certain election unless he “was caught in bed with a live man or a dead horse.” Note: very possibly apocryphal. I’ve looked and can’t find a good source for this quote.


Before election day, Edwards had joked with reporters: "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy". Edwards zinged Treen many times, once describing Treen as "so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes." During a gubernatorial debate in 1983, Treen asked Edwards, "How come you talk out of both sides of your mouth?" Edwards instantly responded, "So people like you with only half a brain can understand me." Although Edwards won the 1983 election in a 62 percent landslide, effectively ending Treen's political career, former Governor Treen has since spoken out against his former opponent's incarceration

Could be he stole it from LBJ.

It's been quoted in books about LBJ from some of his elections in the 1950s and used at least once in Texas Monthly as I recall. But, although attributed to LBJ, it has never been footnoted . I would love to find the original source. Sounds like LBJ.

Sadly this is SOP for just about any large corporation. Why do you think stadiums sell corporate boxes? There is an entire eco-system here.

Personally I would be more interested to hear about the politicians who regularly called that number.

OTOH, when is comes to Texas, Molly Ivins (who should be required reading for anyone wanting to comment on politics) had a different take: As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can't drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in office.

The reality is that corporations desperatly hope that they are buying some amount of influence, and an entire industry has grown up to leech money out of them by promising them that they do buy, just a smidgen, of influence. The obvious expression of the industry is the lobbyist, who charges interest groups (i.e. the oil coprorations) huge amounts of money and then claim that they can influence policy. It is a good game. If the vote goes their way, well it was a good job done lobbying - but keep giving us money to be sure it stays OK, if it goes against them - well clearly even more money needs spending next time.

Molly Ivins (who should be required reading for anyone wanting to comment on politics)

Molly, though dead, remains a goddess -- and this video (which demonstrates why I say that) ain't remotely Safe for Work.

P.S. Texas only recently repealed that law.

lotus, your link did not work, but the video can be found on YouTube.

Too funny!

I was in a similar shop in Austin and while in the changing room I overhear a blind guy getting the clerk to help him make a selection for his date that night. Hilarious.

Fixed the link (I think), gmf. Glad you enjoyed it. (Surprised it didn't get me banned on the spot, too.)

Flagged as "Hilarious".

For a couple of weeks after I first saw this, it constituted something of a social hazard for me. It would come back to mind and suddenly crack me up again, sometimes in situations where explaining Just Wouldn't Do.

Molly was paraphrasing California State Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh who cleaned up California Capitol politics -- at least for awhile, spectacularly when he closed the semi-official, lobbyist-paid-for whorehouses across the American River.

Big Jesse said of the ever-too-helpful lobbyists, "If you can't eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women and still vote against them, you have no business being up here." He also said, famously, "Money is the mother's milk of politics."

This was in the 1960s. A lot's changed since then, including radical class divisions between the top 2% (including many BP shareholders) and the rest of us, three or has it been four or five unnecessary wars, the collapse of trust in institutions of all types, and now this: the BP Blow-Out.

It's fun to remember times when there was hope for change in the business of politics.

The thread got restarted. I would like to repost what Bruce Thompson posted

"Okay all you armchair engineers, Pop Quiz time!!

It's open book of course.


Hi Bruce.
I am in fact a Pop engineer from the aerospace discipline. Your post at Americanthinker is long overdue. Thank you. The TOD is a technical website and it would be helpful if you posted here. I live a long way away, here it is winter. Your input will keep me going for a bit in front of an open fire. Thanks again, Juan

Good day to you all.
I'm a long time lurker here, and this is my first post - so I will tell you a little about myself ahead. I'm not an oil guy, nor am I an engineer, what I am, however, is someone with quite a good grasp of physics and general technology. My field of profession is IT, wich obviously has nothing to do with the problem at hand. :)
First off, a big thanks to all the guys here at the TOD, who have broadened my horizon significantly over the past weeks, and who have provided me with tons of highly interesting knowledge about oil wells, geology and the problems that come with deepwater drilling.

Now, I have an idea (wich I hope isn't too stupid or impractical), and I would be glad if you could tell me why this isn't done, or why it would not work.
As I understand, what BP wants to do next, is to pump heavy mud into the well by using the choke and kill lines attached to the original BOP, the same lines that have been connected to the Q4000 and the other production ship. They want to do that slowly and at a pressure that is only a little higher than the pressure the well is currently producing against the closed 3-ram stack. Goal of that operation is to gently push the column of oil and gas in the well down, back into the formation and thus replacing it with mud, wich in turn would provide enough pressure to keep the formation from pushing any more hydrocarbons out.
As I further understand, the top of the 3-ram stack is equpped with annother HC connector.
It seems to me that a better way to achive the kill would be to connect a riser to that HC connector, and fill it with heavy drill mud - while the 3-ram stack remains closed. If one chooses amount and specific weight of the mud right, one can match pressures at the 3-ram stack - well pressure against mud pressure. By opening the ram(s) of the stack then, gravity would take over and exchange the hydrocarbons in the well with the mud above the stack. Advantage of this method would be that no additional pressure is required, and that no hydrocarbons need to be pushed back into the formation. It might take a while longer, but it could be achieved without exposing the well casing to any more stress. If needed, the process could be repeated untill full replacement of hydrocarbons is achieved.

I hope I was able to describe clearly what I have in mind. And I also and sincerely hope that this idea is not too lunatic and impractical to warrant an answer. I'd really like to know why this is not doable, or why it is impractical.
Thanks in advance!

Welcome aki...don't be shy about asking questions. If follow your thoughts you would let the oil/Ng flow from the well into the new riser. Actually that's how the blow developed in the first place: when they displaced the mud in the csg it allowed the oil/NG to flow up into the riser. This reduced the density of the riser fluid and allowed even more flow from the well. But they can accomplish the same thing by using mud under pressure. Depending on the mud pump pressure they can add effective mud weight (ECD - effective circulating density) up to around 0.5 ppg.

Did I misunderstand your thoughts?

Hey Rockman, thanks for your reply.
Maybe you misunderstood me a bit, I am not too sure. Let's see if I can explain a bit better.
When the blowout occurred, they replaced the mud in the wellbore (and of course in the riser, in due course) with seawater, wich underbalanced the well and allowed the hydrocarbons to flow from the formation an into the bore/riser, further lowering the hydrostatic pressure in the system - a self-accelerating process, a runaway situation.
What I am suggesting is to connect a riser to the stack, fill that riser with mud, seal the top of the riser and then open the stack. Since the whole system is sealed, it's volume cannot change, and thus, no hydrocarbons can escape the formation. However, since the mud is denser than the oil/gas in the well, there will be an exchange of fluids. Mud will sink down to the bottom of the well, and oil and gas will enter the riser instead. After the process is complete and everything has settled, we will have a considerable amount of mud in the well, and the equivalent volume of oil and gas in the riser - wich I am thinking of as a big bottle here, in effect. One can then close the stack - again, since there is no flow, there is no risk of "water hammer" or erosion, empty the riser of oil and gas (By accessing the top of the riser and pumping it out, or replacing it with seawater), then refill the riser with mud and repeat the process until all of the hydrocarbons inside the wellbore have been replaced with mud.
The advantage of this process, as I see it, is that at no point in time the pressure inside the well increases - in fact, from the very moment of opening the stack, the pressure will decrease because less dense oil and gas in the well are replaced by dense and heavy mud.

aki -- I get you. No...I don't think it would work. I think the drill mud would be too viscose to move as you would hope. And if it did it would probably happen much to slow. Also, as the mud did leaks down it would mix with the oil/NG to some degree and cut its weight some. I think from a physical properties standpoint the idea could look on paper. But the practical application would miss the mark. But that's just one more opinion floating around and may be worth what you paid for it.

BTW: you seem to like cooking numbes. here's a quick calc method for getting mud weights - Pressure (psi) = o.o52 * mud weight (lbs/gallon) * mud column height. You can calc for any two unkowns. For instance, a 5,000' tall riser would need around a MW of 26 ppg to generate a 7,000 psi at the BOP.

Thanks, Rockman.
I knew I missed something, it looked way too elegant and good to be real. :)
Viscosity is indeed a factor that I completely overlooked. It would indeed most likely not work because of that...

And numbers! The formula is neat, but it would be so much neater in metric.. since 1bar is 1 kilogramm per square centimeter, the whole equitation is so simple one can do it in the head without having to use a "crummy" factor as 0.052.
Please don't mind my rambling, imperial measurements is a pet peeve of mine. ;)

Anyhow, thank you all for your answers, I will continue reading and learning from here on, and maybe write again when something new and hopefully interesting crosses my mind.

aki - Metric? Not if you want any of us old dinosaurs to understand you. LOL.

GNU units does the job very easily without the 0.052 factor:

$ units --verbose '(26 pound/gallon) 5000 foot' 'pound/in^2'
  (26 pound/gallon) 5000 foot = 6753.2468 pound/in^2
$ units '0.052 26 5000'
  Definition: 6760
$ units --verbose '(pound/gallon) foot' 'pound/in^2'
  (pound/gallon) foot = 0.051948052 pound/in^2	

But there is no metric system anymore, it is SI (Système International).

The bar is an obsolete unit equal to 100 kPa = 10^5 kg / m s^2.

Pressure in SI is given in force per unit area, not mass per unit area, and depends on the elevation since the acceleration of gravity is not constant. I'm still trying to find out exactly how that works out in practice where we call the weight of a 1 kg mass at sea level "one kilogram" instead of 9.80665 newton.

q7 - huh?

A few concerns:

- if the shut-in well has developed a gas cap over the past few days the drilling unit connected to the riser better be ready to use a diverter as this rises up through the mud, expanding as it goes.

- I consider that there would be more inherent safety feeding the static kill mud in through a smaller (3") kill connection rather than opening up the potentially larger flow path up to the surface.

- significant mud density would be needed to overcome the well shut in pressure with a column of 1,500 m of mud. The balance of the mud column would then become very critical to avoid fracturing the well formation further down the hole.

Read my answer to rockman above.

-My suggestion includes the riser to be sealed on top, no chance of gas or oil escaping there.

-A smaller connection would be adverse to the gravity-driven exchange of fluids wich is the core of my suggestion. The large opening is crucial for this procedure to work in a timely fashion.

-You got me there. I have not even estimated the nescessary mud densitiy that would be needed, largely because I think metric, and all units used here and by BP are imperial. I admit I have exceptionally large difficulties to estimate even the dimension of the pressures in question here, because "pounds per square inch" and "pounds per gallon" are ... well. Alien describes it best. :)


Just pump the mud in slowly. Let us consider the ramifications of starting a new 24 hour well integrity test with the shut-in pressure rising at a rate of 1 psi per hour. At the end of the test the pressure would have risen 24 psi. To stay within the agreed boundaries, pump in the mud at 20 psi above the starting pressure (4 psi below the agreed pressure limit) for as much of the 24 hours as necessary.

Given that the diameter of the kill line is about 2", the pressure differential is 20 psi, the weight of the mud is 16 ppg (SG = 1.9) we go to our handy-dandy calculator http://www.pumpcalcs.com/calculators/view/103/ and presto-changeo we can flow 197 gallons per min, or about 5 barrels per minute or 300 barrels per hour or 3000 barrels in 10 hours. I believe the well bore is about 3000 barrels max. So you could kill the well and drop the pressure at the BOP to 2250 psi, the same as the sea water at the mud line in less than half a day.

Anybody think killing the well and relieving the pressure on the BOP before the next technical briefing might be a good thing (excluding Matt Simmons of course, as he'd lose his ass on his BP stock short position and the media who would be left looking totally clueless once again)?

Note that if you are trying to drop the pressure at the BOP from 6800 down to 2200 in ten hours, you would be reducing the pressure at the BOP by 460 psi per hour, or almost 8 psi per min. So the 20 psi overpressure you started with would actually drop below the initial pressure in less than 3 minutes and would drop from there at 8 psi per minute. All you fraidy cats would only have to hold your breath for 3 minutes before you could start breathing again.

Where is viscosity in that calculator? Mud is pretty viscous, greatly increasing the pressure in the riser and BOP.

I like it. There are also heavy brines available.

We don't need reckless oil companies like BP hovering over the GOM. They spent valuable time trying all kinds of gimmicks, and another top kill would require them to pump mud over a mile deep into the well.

6800 PSI = 3087 kg/ square inch = 478 kg per square centimeter. This is a column of mud over a mile deep if none of the mud mixes into the oil. What are they thinking?


Taking a more indirect approach....James Howard Kunstler (who has a link) wrote in his new blog on Monday "WHAT IF HE IS RIGHT"? This is in reference to Matt Simmons extreme allegations of an open hole in the wellbore spewing 120,000 barrels a day. Again, I am still not sure of what to make of it, but I would like to offer some speculation as to why there might be a coverup.

The US ECONOMY is on the brink of a collapse. This is my field of knowledge. Because we have a falling EROI, the US Economy has been put on life support by money printing, phantom wealth in the form of electronic digits, and trillions of dollars in worthless Derivatives.

If anyone has any knowledge of the wonderful world of INTEREST RATE SWAPS, you will realize it is a PONZI SCHEME to keep the cost of debt down. Greece is a perfect example. When they were having trouble with their interest rates, JP MORGAN and others stepped in and sold them boatloads of INTEREST RATE SWAPS. This kept their interest rates low (artifically) to allow them to function in the EUROPEAN UNION. But as all Ponzi Schemes come to an end.....GREECE BLEW UP and their interest rates skyrocketed starting last year and now have left the country in a complete mess. The use of INTEREST RATE SWAPS is everywhere as it is the largest percentage of the hundreds of trillions of dollars of notional Derivatives out there.

There has been speculation that BP has a boatload of DERIVATIVES on and off their balance sheet much like LEHMAN BROTHERS. If BP goes under, it causes another chain reaction disaster in the Global Financial Meltdown. Furthermore, if the GULF OIL DISASTER is as Simmons states, then its nothing but bad news for the US ECONOMY and Dollar.

Everyone has stampeded into the safety of the US TREASURY MARKET. Basically US Treasuries are IOUS backed by the full faith of the US GOVT. With a falling EROI and an economy based on a high EROI, there is no way this US DEBT will be paid back. At some point in time the WHOLE SCH-BANG comes tumbling down just like the former USSR.

This might be the very reason why SIMMONS allegations seem so extreme compared to the US GOVT and BP. If it is true that there is an open hole spewing 120,000 barrels a day, its game over for the USA. Its a BARN BURNER.

In that vein...I do hope Mr. Simmons is incorrect.

He's incorrect. But that has no connection whatsoever to the probability of further financial debacles.

I've contended for quite a while that BP has been designated as TBTF and I've seen nothing to dissuade me.

It amazes me that Simmons is perceived as such a major figure in all this.

TBTF does not mean an organization cannot fail. It means the Central Banks and money printers say it is Too Big To Fail. But fail they will.

I realize many Americans want to believe the delusion put forth by the High Priests of the US Govt, but the Fiat monetary system is coming to an end whether we like it or not. Your US Dollar is nothing more than a Debt that now has over $1.2 Trillion in worthless Subprime Mortgages on its balance sheet to back them up (Federal Reserve).

All Fiat Money declines in value to its cost of production....and that is its printing cost. The US Dollar has been manipulated for decades, but what has been going on in the past few years is quite unbelievable.

The US Dollar and US Treasury market will disintegrate whether or not Americans have a stomach for it.

My Money is in Gold-Silver and in Matt Simmons.

> My Money is in Gold-Silver and in Matt Simmons.

Then my guess is that you believe that MS will help to cave BP and thereby enhance the value of your investments.

I hope somebody at the SEC or DOJ is at least considering taking a look at Ratigan.

I always laugh at the gold hoarders. If it gets that bad, you can't eat it. Gold represents base value on our current system. In the 'new' system it is not worth much more than bronze. Give me the antibiotics and the MRE's.

Fishhooks, whiskey and penacillin are the only currency when TEOTWAWKI. Also flagged, FIAT money, next-up Fed Kookage, then a quick stumble down the stairs to look for Judge Crater.

You forgot bullets.

Anyone with romantic notions of living the Mountain Man life in the wake of financial disaster -- in which, as TOB writers have previously noted, the precarious state of our oil wells and reserves play a large part -- should read Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD. Don't just see the movie; read the book. Feel it in your bones, then consider that this BP thing and a dozen more like it had better work out. Or we're all in for it, while we survive.

Was your money on Matt Simmons when oil was at $150/barrel and he said it was going to $300/barrel? What happened since that point in 2008? Oil dropped to $40/barrel in 2009. I would be a lot more willing to consider Simmons's notions if he wasn't short several thousand shares of BP.

The price of oil is being manipulated by the economic powers of the world. If it were a true "free" market, oil would be a lot higher than it is currently. Simmons may have his own agendas, however, when it comes to future supplies of oil, he is correct. We are in a temporary low price situation at the moment, but do not expect it to last.

Actually Albert a static kill is a rather standard procedure done dozens of times every year in the GOM. But csg integrety is a big issue in this particular circumstance


This question is coming in rather late. I hope you are not entirely focused on the stuff that must be happening at the bottom of the list.

I'm impressed by the good things that can happen from a static kill along the lines that you describe,
But ... after the well is filled with mud of sufficient weight such that nothing is flowing, i.e. truly static, comes cementing. I recall the controversy about too few centralizers, and wonder how the cementing can be done to the standards of perfection that now seem to be needed.
What happens if mud is left in places where cement should have replaced it? How long can that mud continue to hold back the pressure from below? My understanding is that we need some assurance that the killed, cemented well will not need further work for at least several decades. Why? Because all that cement would have to be drilled out in order to do something else. Or is there another way to repair a leaking, but cemented, well?

Suppose that the course of action were to top-kill with mud, and leave the mud in place, but under continuous observation for a few decades. Expensive, but is it also unworkable for some technical reason. I am suspicious of the idea that we will ever be able to walk away from this disaster site.

I have heard that this blow-out has provoked new interest in the condition of old closed wells. I suppose we will soon be getting new data on how they are faring.

Please comment.

Why is 'bullheading' such a risk?

Injecting mud at a slight excess pressure at the top of the well will not materially increase the risk of failure.

The only issue that I can think of is if the mud flow rate is too slow ... I suppose it might trickle away rather than building up anywhere useful.

This must lead to a 'minimum mud injection rate' .. which in turn suggest a 'minimum mud injection excess pressure'.

Does any fluidics engineer know the answer to this?

Would the excess pressure needed to inject mud at an acceptable rate be more than nominal?

(Or perhaps there is a sticky, cohesive mud that could be used specifically for slow injection rates?)

Actually it is the safest thing they could do. Only a minimal increase in pressure is needed to start the mud flowing into the well, and as soon as a few feet of mud are in the well column the pressure will begin to drop until it is ZERO relative to the pressure outside. No more pressure putting a strain on any weakened parts and no more leak.

Putting mud in the hole turns a shut in wild well into a piece of pipe stuck in the ground.

They will have to pump some very heavy mud pretty far before the pressure drops. The pressure is the equivalent of a Hummer over every square inch, and when the mud is pumped, the residual oil already in the riser and BOP would be forced back into the well, increasing pressure and possibly causing casing failure.

I disagree. As James stated above, only a slightly higher pressure is needed to start the mud flow down the hole. Remember, they expected wellhead pressure to be higher at the shut-in, as much as 8kpsi, so more pressure is not a show-stopper. Once the mud started down in a solid column, an almost immediate pressure reduction would be seen at the wellhead. With a heavy enough mud, the pressure at the wellhead might even be negative.

Maybe an engineer with experience would comment on the pressure required to force oil back into the reservoir?

I would like to plug some holes in my ignorance.

I presume that 6810 psia is below the oil bubble point at 40 deg F, which means there will be free gas within the BOP. Is that your understanding, too? If it is, what will prevent the gas from bubbling through the mud as it is being pumped at a pressure "slightly" above the 6810 psia?

Another question: Is the mud fairly miscible with the oil? Will it mix with the oil, or will it sink to the bottom of the well in a lump?

Hmmm ...

Why not put a microphone on the casings @ the BOP stack and listen ... if the well is leaking the souud would be easy to pick up.

Also, if the well is busted where I think it is (about 300- 400 feet down from the mudline), 'Top Kill 2.0' will make the situation a lot worse ...

Keeping the pressure on this well (this long)shows a real strong desire to not allow anymore pressure release from the reservoir----even at the chance of damaging the compromised well casing. Let's speculate, which is the best we can do considering we haven't been given the full story through this entire incident. This all seems to play out toward giving some credibility to the donut theory. Furthermore, taping into a reservoir that causes a reaction equal to a nuclear bomb is probably beyond any well and rigs capabilities. Just when we think our scientists seem to have gone astray it appears we have some brilliant minds at work here. Static kill will be touchy and a game of inches and pounds. Might include a system to be able to track the mud and some pressure release from the top cap may be necessary.

BP (BP/ LN) says also plans to sell all Vietnam upstream assets - Spokesman

14:42 20-07-2010

BP (BP/ LN) to put all upstream Pakistan assets up for sale - Spokesman

14:40 20-07-2010

I'm confused. Just so much noise on TOD I can no longer keep up. As I understand it:

  1. A Top Kill is now going to be tried again. Is that true? If it is true then what's different from this time and the last time?

  2. Rw2 has stopped drilling because RW1 is so close to target (only a few days/weeks away). Why is that? It was my understanding RW2 was undertaken because there was a high chance that a kill from RW1 could get delayed for any number of reasons and drilling RW2 reduced those chances of a delayed kill. Actually reasonable arguments were made there should be aRW3 and RW4, just to further reduce those possibilities.
  3. Have those possibilites for delay to RW1 now so sufficiently reduced there is no longer any need for RW2? I'm very concerned about the stopping of RW2. It seems to me any number of bad things could still happen to RW1, delaying by weeks/months any chance of a kill.

  4. It's my understanding the actual leak inside the BOP could be as little as 1" in diameter. Can the well actually be cemented to a certain kill status through such a small opening? Or would the cement be inserted through the 3" Kill and Choke lines? It seems to me even even through 3" lines it would be difficult (cement being diluted as it fell to the bottom of the well)

What say you, Rock? or Fd? or Dim?

As a person who knows some about properties of fluids, the new top kill would be nothing more than wishful thinking and only make the problem worse. The pressure that the well is 6800 PSI. This is over 100 times more than average household water pressure. They would have to force the drilling mud at a higher pressure than that, through a very small opening, and continue this until the mud is thousands of feet into the 9" pipe before pressure readings would return to pre-kill levels. During this time, there is significant risk of casing rupture.

Again Albert csg rupture should be a concern. But the amount of pressure needed isn't that great. In 1981 I had a well we did a static kill with over 12,000 psi. Undamaged csg/well heads don't have a problem with these pressures. The condition of the BP well should be a concern.

What do you think BP would have to increase the pressure to (from the current 6.8 ksia) in a practical bullhead/topkill effort?

I hate to offer a guess Dimitry. You and others have a better feel for that than me.

1) The difference is that the well is sealed at the top so any incremental pressure (with mud) goes down the well. In the top kill, the mud vented out of the top. That's why version 2 is called a static kill.

2) I beleive its to avoid the risk of interfering with RW1 ranging (finding the blowout well).

3) I think the mud hoses are wider than that - around 3-4"? But if they could get sufficient mud in there for the top kill to create a massive flow of mud from the top of the sheared riser, they certainly will have enough capacity for the static kill. Its the integrity of the well itself and perhaps the BOP that is the main risk.

fisherman -- the big difference is this time the mud won't go squirting out of the hole in the BOP. That's probably why the original top kill failed: couldn't get any significant pressure against the wild flow. As long as they don't bust something there's nowhere for the kill pill to go but down the csg.

RW2 was suspended to see if it's needed in case RW1 failed or they lost that hole. If they were to let RW2 get any closer at this time it could be impossible to steer it to where they might need it. You can change the holes direction but only so fast.

I doubt they'll try to bullhead cmt thru the BOP. Once the well is dead I would think they would replace the BOP and re-enter with drill pipe and do a conventional plug and abandon job. Bull heading cmt is a lot riskier than mud. It can set up at the wrong time/place and make any efforts to do it right later almost impossible.

What are the geologic formation like near the well - are there other "chambers" (or porous formations of any sort) into which the oil could be going? If so, what would have originally been contained in any such structures, and what would happen if it became pressurized by communication with the well?

twi -- What you're describing is an "underground blow out". It does happen and might be happening to some degree at the moment in the BP well. A deep sand could be charging or it could be blowing out very shallow and might be the source of the nearby sea floor leaks some folks think they see. I'm sure they were watching for this possibility at the RW1 got close to the WW.

All porous reservoirs have either oil/NG or water in them. An underground blow out would have the water pushed back by the oil/NG. A very sad example to answer your question: many years ago a field was developed in S. La. and over decades bad cmt jobs slowly allowed NG to leak into a shallow sand at around 1,000'. They eventually drilled a new well in the field and had no concern about a shallow blow out possibility since none existed when the field was initially developed. So when they drilled into that shallow charged sand the well blow out and killed 7 hands before they even had a hint they were in trouble. Offshore it's standard procedure to run "sparker surveys" to look for such shallow NG sands.

Thanks - that's what I was getting at. Given the lower than expected initial pressure they got, combined with a slow ramp up afterward, it sounds like a reasonable possibility to me.

Definitely one thing that can't be explained away as thruster dust, and that is the growth of the hydrate/oil/whatever crust on the outside of the capping stack from the slow release of oil (which didn't seem to be there until Sunday evening).

ROCKMAN or others with field experience in this area...

Q4000 is still hooked up to the lower BOP kill line. Given the lower pressure and mud volume requirements for a static kill, can Q4000 pump the kill mud through this existing connection without a major re-work topside?

It seems like a drilling rig should already have everything it needs onboard to do routine operations with modest volumes of mud without bringing in the heavy equipment.

I suspect if they are talking about doing this publicly they have already been making preparations out of the public view.

James: A few thoughts
1. First they have to be convinced and then convince TPTB that the pressure data match to a depleted reservoir with well integrity is valid.
2. They will have to feel comfortable with all the connections.
3. They will and probably have scoped out the methodology, time frame etc.
4. I would think that weather could be a stumbling block as the total start to finish time could be longer than we might think.
5. Perhaps they would want to wait until the RW has had casing set and ready to drill out or even longer ,as it would be a backup and supplement to the staitc kill.
6. I think the big decision will be if they would decide to leave the well shut-in during a major storm (hurricane) with no ROV or other monitoring available for a few days. Imagine having to open the well to feel safe.

So , when will they feel comfortable they have integrity enough to try and how long will the process take? Might hear something soon on this.

Let me narrow the scope of my question a little bit. Q4000 is currently still connected to the kill line on the lower BOP, which is the correct one.

"What additional equipment, if any, would need to be brought in and installed so that Q4000 could begin pumping mud down that line?"

james --Don't know the set up on the Q4000 but pumps wouldn't be a problem...they can be skid mounted and dropped on the deck. The mud tanks would be a bigger issue. They could be dropped on the deck too. But the easiest way to go might be to pump directly from a mud boat. They can have the pump horse power on one of those suckers they'll ever need.

...And they probably have everything they would need already on-site on account of the relief well operations don't they.

Perhaps I missed it or wasn't paying close enough attention but it seems that they are either ad libbing or playing their cards real close to the vest. After a number of unsuccessful initiatives there was LMRP then without much advanced notice the implementation of an enhanced LMRP (current containment device) then an extended test period of the enhanced LMRP and now a modified version of Top Kill. All this in the context that the relief wells were from day one a sure thing and that we are just days/weeks away from their completion.

The RWs are not a sure thing, which is one reason for the test/alt strategy.

Kent Wells July 19, 2010

"Now, what I want to stress through is that at the end of the day the relief well will still be the ultimate solution."


Whether the phrase "sure thing" was ever used or not, that has surely been the impression given. There was never any doubt officially placed on the idea that the RW would stop it dead, although Rockman and others described in detail that it would in fact be difficult. Now however, just as the RW is getting close we are suddenly seeing all this activity on killing it from the top, including what appear to be some risky moves. I've done enough analysis and troubleshooting to know when there is something I'm missing.

In these situations the plans are dictated by the data. Not having a flexible strategy or moving along with only one scenario would be foolhardy.
They have been following multiple scenario paths since the beginning and set up equipment that can be used/modified for different paths if they are taken.

Signs of the times: Oil-spill victims on Grand Isle post protest


WaPo has a sort of omnibus story full of disparate details on various strands of this saga (so worth a full read). For instance:

... The skirmish was the first of what could be several tests for the government panel. Two key BP officials who had been scheduled to testify this week canceled for medical reasons, including Donald Vidrine, one of the Deepwater Horizon's "company men," as those who represent BP on rigs are known.

The hearing did produce some new details.

One witness described how BP mixed a large quantity of two chemicals and injected them into the well to flush out drilling mud. But the chemicals aren't usually mixed together, and the injection of more than 400 barrels of dense, gray fluid were about double the quantity normally used for the task, said Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for contractor M-I Swaco.

The reason for the action: BP had hundreds of barrels of the two chemicals on hand and needed to dispose of it, Lindner testified. By first flushing it into the well, the company could take advantage of an exemption in an environmental law that otherwise would have prohibited the discharge of the hazardous waste into the gulf, he said.

"It's not something we've ever done before," he said.

Despite assurances from a BP specialist, Lindner conducted his own improvised experiment the night before the explosion to double-check. He mixed a gallon of one substance with a gallon of the other. When the well exploded, a fluid that fit its general description rained down on the rig. Bertone said part of the rig was covered with an inch or more of material that he said resembled "snot." ...

lotus -- I can certainly sympathize with Donald. Getting over double knee surgery there are days when I dread hobbling around a muddy drill site on my crutches. It seems the only humanitarian thing to do is for them to load the commission on a plane and have them chat with Donald at his bedside. Or have a federal marshal haul his ass along with the appropriate medical support back up to DC. Once again it would seem BP's PR folks don't have a clue of how to handle the situation. Either that or they are truly scared to death to have him testify.


I endorse all of that except yo' po' knees, Rocky.

Someone said on IRC that BP Company Men are taking advice from their own lawyers on whether to testify - not from BP's lawyers. Don't know if that's true. However BP Well Site Leader Ronald Sepulvado is testifying now.

In regards to safety equipment, warning systems etc. on the rig being faulty: Does that mean that Transocean is partly to blame because it is their equipment and their job to maintain it?

I would think negligence wouldn't be covered by the standard "if something goes bad it's all BP's fault".

Technical discussions are excellent. But sometimes a graphic can drive a point home more effectively


Folks, I've written up my best shot at countering Matt Simmons' claims online here:

http://projectavalon.net (20 July update)

I would appreciate any corrections - no matter how picky - or (especially) reference links to the counterpoints that might be helpful to my own audience. I've been trawling through past TOD threads, but (as you know) this is getting challenging.

* Has it been measured and published that there is now no oil leaking into the Gulf apart from seepage?
* Is my figure correct for where the DWH wreck is?
* Is there a more recent report from the Thomas Jefferson than the one in June?

Btw: FintanDunne [ http://theoildrum.com/node/6752#comment-682339 ], please check your own facts before disparaging my name with untruths. I'm trying to get my facts right, and have NEVER promoted Matt Simmons. Take a look. I DID re-post Richard Hoagland's claims over a month ago, but I'm now stating that I was mistaken to do so. I'm urging greater responsibility in the alternative media. I welcome your support.

Many thanks - BR

That was a very interesting summary of what's happened thus far. As far as Matt Simmons goes, he does have a financial interest in seeing BP stock come down, which could be driven by fear of something even more catastrophic than what has already happened. Barron's reported that he has a short-sale of 8,000 shares of BP; 4,000 shares at $48 and another 4,000 shares at $37.


I don't know about you, but over $200,000 betting BP will go down is a lot of money. BP will pay dearly for this disaster, as they should, but the facts and data should be front and center, clear from all the noise and nonsense.

Many thanks, anon - link added.

Folks, give me more hard data... especially anything connected with the situation on the seafloor.

BR at your site you assert "Since the temporary capping of the well last week, there has been a decrease of the oil in the Gulf. It's getting better, folks." No links are provided. Please present proof. I am not sure in a few days what proof could possibly be there given that it took several weeks for the oil to first hit the shores, it would take several weeks for the oil on the shores to decline. Do you have before and after shots of the ocean in the general vicinity of the spill?

I am not disagreeing with your assessment of Simmons. His assertions don't make sense. However I would like to know that your assertions make sense and since most air flight over this area in the gulf is forbidden I don't know how you can assert that there is a decrease. There should be but it should not be apparent on shore yet and I know of no aerial documentation. Given the restrictions on the press regarding access to the shore I am not sure when we will know that things are improved.

BTW you indicate a link to your 1 page discussion (Click here for one page with extensive discussion (and dismissal) of his claims.) but that takes one to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6749 While when I search there are 99 references to "Simmons" in that post I find 0 when I search "Bill_Ryan" - not willing to search the whole comments to see if you actually have your report there. Did you post under a different name?

BR at your site you assert "Since the temporary capping of the well last week, there has been a decrease of the oil in the Gulf. It's getting better, folks." No links are provided. Please present proof

I'm asking for proof here. I read that somewhere today as an anecdotal comment - and I believe it - but I would like to present data or an authoritative comment from a reliable source if one exists.

BTW you indicate a link to your 1 page discussion (Click here for one page with extensive discussion (and dismissal) of his claims.) but that takes one to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6749 While when I search there are 99 references to "Simmons" in that post I find 0 when I search "Bill_Ryan" - not willing to search the whole comments to see if you actually have your report there. Did you post under a different name?

I meant that Simmons' claims were discussed on that thread by TOD members, so it was a good place for someone wanting good info to start. I read but didn't contribute. I can replace it with a different link if you can suggest one. What I want to do is counter the hysteria with some measured data - if possible.

Bill a little hint here, when you are asking for help you pose it as a question not as an assertion. There is usually a "?" at the end of such a request.

OK, I see what you mean about the 1 page with discussion - sorry I read that wrong.

Oh my - read further on your site where you say "Lindsey Williams - although he is clearly a dear, sincere, man..." This is I presume the Rev. Lindsey Williams who has all sort of anonymous sources and saw the oil wells in Alaska drilled and walked away from? Most who seriously discuss peak oil have discounted this man as a unreliable long ago. Matt Simmons was not unreliable. He may have become one but he was a successful and well informed businessman until this recent issue with the Deepwater. And talking about unreliable sources, many consider Jeff Rense one as well. It is always interesting when the proponents who favor one unreliable source disagree and try to discredit one another with quotes from another unreliable source.

I see that on July 8 you have a story about the Roswell flying saucer story. I am agnostic on that one, but I suspect that many on this site would also consider that to put you in the same category as they have now relegated Simmons to.

I chose the words 'dear, sincere" for Lindsey with care. I do think he is that.

I agree with you fully about Jeff Rense. (For the record, he thinks that I'm paid by the CIA.. or something.)

OT: Roswell... it seems to be a fact. It's not about belief, it's about the preponderance of evidence. In a few hours I'm talking with Paul Hellyer, ex Ministry of Defense for Canada, who states on record that Roswell was a real event. His statement carries weight - he is no airhead.

On the Avalon site, what you glimpsed was an old photo which I stumbled across - after which I drew attention to the fact that the backdrop to the image was identifiable as a known location. I use the scientific method if I can. Many of my colleagues think it's probably faked, and they may be right. Or wrong. This is research.

you assert "Since the temporary capping of the well last week, there has been a decrease of the oil in the Gulf. It's getting better, folks." No links are provided. Please present proof

oxi, this is datelined July 18:

"... Even though it has been only days since the oil was turned off, the naked eye could spot improvements on the water. The crude appeared to be dissipating quickly on the surface of the Gulf around the Deepwater Horizon site. Members of a Coast Guard crew that flew over the wellhead Saturday said far less oil was visible than a day earlier. Only a colorful sheen and a few long streams of rust-colored, weathered oil were apparent in an area covered weeks earlier by huge patches of black crude. Somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons have spilled into the Gulf, according to government estimates."


Great. That's exactly what I'd read earlier and couldn't find again. Added and quoted in full.

Glad to help, Bill. I finally remembered enough Magic Words to satisfy The Google (this was heckling me to pieces).

Bill: In addition to the Thomas Jefferson 11-Jun Mission Report, there's this 15-27-Jun mission summary, 2 pages:
It looks like they post a quick summary a day or so after returning from a mission, then do a complete report when the data are analyzed and interpreted.

Thanks: Yes, I did see that - I didn't post it because there'd be those who'd assume that it was brief because something was being covered up!

Btw: FintanDunne [ http://theoildrum.com/node/6752#comment-682339 ], please check your own facts before disparaging my name with untruths. I'm trying to get my facts right, and have NEVER promoted Matt Simmons. Take a look. I DID re-post Richard Hoagland's claims over a month ago, but I'm now stating that I was mistaken to do so. I'm urging greater responsibility in the alternative media. I welcome your support.

What got up Bill Ryan's nose is this post I made:

dimitry: I have taken no sides on Simmons "Issue" on TOD.

Nothing personal, but there is NO Simmons issue.
And there hasn't been for many weeks now.
The only ones keeping the name Simmons in front of us are:

--Dylan Rattigan of MSNBC who still inexplicably keeps giving him air time.
--The Bill Ryan Planet X Underground Bunker Tinfoil Support Group.
--A few posters on TOD who have elected Simmons as spokesperson for "them."

"Them" is a collective term for all those who decline to fawn over the latest BP PR spin. There is No Simmons issue. However there are many issues of veracity, scientific rigor, group think and objective, unbiased assessment of data. Matt Simmons R.I.P. (Reputation In Pieces)

Now, back to the engineering......

You misunderstood me Bill. I wasn't referring to your position on Simmons. I was just lumping you in with him on the basis of a shared enthusiasm for rampant scaremongering. See this from your own Project Avalon website: http://www.projectcamelot.org/norway.html

Planet X is coming, and Norway has begun with storage of food and seeds in the Svalbard area and in the arctic north with the help of the US and EU and all around in Norway. They will only save those that are in the elite of power and those that can build up again: doctors, scientists, and so on.

As for me, I already know that I am going to leave before 2012 to go the area of Mosjøen where we have a deep underground military facility. There we are divided into sectors, red, blue and green. The signs of the Norwegian military are already given to them and the camps have already been built a long time ago.

The people that are going to be left on the surface and die with along the others will get no help whatsoever. The plan is that 2,000,000 Norwegians are going to be safe, and the rest will die. That means 2,600,000 will perish into the night not knowing what to do.

When Planet X comes, clearly some people are going to be left on the surface and denied the safety of underground bases. I vote we leave Matt Simmons on the surface. Although it's a moot point, because if Planet X doesn't show up soon we will have been wiped out by the Gulf megaburst. I feel sorry for Planet X. All those billions of miles across the galaxy and it's a complete waste of time. Ah well....

That's out of context. You're trying to make it appear that I wrote that. I did not.

Those were the verbatim words of a Norwegian Politician whose name is Khaqan Khan (Pakistani descent). We reported what he claimed. Because he actually was a Norwegian Member of Parliament (look him up), it seemed important enough to report.

I believe he did have the personal experiences he described, which he did not understand (of being shown high-expenditure Norwegian military preparation for SOMETHING). His interpretation was separate, pieced together from fragments he later learned in parliament, and need to be regarded as such. What matters is what he observed and experienced. You're not being a good scientist here.

Back to oil, huh?

To Pinkfud,

Previously you were discussing the structure of the production sands in the Mississippi Canyon complex. You stated that given the folding and other changes in that structure that you didn't think that seepage could go very far before finding its way out. A question from the non-geology majors then might be exactly how large are these structures/folds? Are we talking tens of feet? Hundreds of feet? Half a mile? Miles? The size of these "domes and diapirs" should give some clue as to the likely radius of most probable seeps, correct? Obviously that can't give a black and white answer, but shouldn't we be able to get some notion of the maximum range from the well where the most probable well-related seeps should occur? Such as 50% probability that well-related seeps will be no more than X feet (X may be small or large) from the well? Or 90% probability that well-related seeps will be within Y feet of the well?

And knowing this, couldn't there then be a planned assessment and scan of said area to look for seeps? Of course I wouldn't expect the bastards at BP to do such a scan deliberately. It should obviously be an independent 3rd party. Unfortunately, Obama seems content to bow to yet another bunch of corporate thugs.

I'm more interested in what volume and pressure such a structure might be able to hold. Yesterday Dimitry did a back of the envelope calculation on what volume might still be escaping based on pressures. Are there structures that could accept this and how could they be expected to behave?

Oh, and you know very well what to expect from a national level politician, regardless of what team's jersey he wears, as well as from a corporation.

Grey -- A complex answer for sure but there's a short cut that might help. If oil/NG is being injected into other rocks near the well bore it won't move far or fast. The movement of any fluid through a sandstone is very slow. Inches per day would be considered very fast. More importantly oil will only move through a rock when it reaches a sufficient high saturation. This is the main reason so much oil is left behind in fields. Permeability (the ability of fluid to flow thru a rock) is relative to the saturation of a liquid. Oil would have to fill around 70% of the pore space before it can move thru the rock at any sort of significant speed. And then can only move as far as the higher saturation develops. And as much as 30 -40% of the oil injected into the rock won't ever be able to move out of that rock due to the low saturation. Bottom line: the oil isn't going to move 100's of yards let alone miles IMHO.

There is one big exception: if the oil/NG is being injected into an open fault plane it can move fast and far (at least in a vertical sense). But the shallow setion in the GOM doesn't have such open fault planes as a rule so again not a likely path.

Rockman, thanks for your input on this. A lot of people simply cannot understand why 100% of the oil cannot be recovered from a reservoir.

We are missing you on Drumbeats. I just posted a question there but with no oilmen posting today I suppose it will go unanswered. Hint, hint. ;-)

Has Peak Oil Arrived?

Ron P.

Sorry for my absense Ron. Got a couple of wells going and it's been difficult to keep up with my obligation on this end of TOD. I'll swing by the DB after lunch.

So the real limiting factor in moving very far from the wellhead would be faults or fracturing? And of course there is what, about 1000 feet or so of just "silt" at the very top (seabed going down)? And finally, would the recent seismic imaging reveal such faults or fractures in the vicinity of the well bore, thus giving us a clearer indication of where such seeps might be expected other than immediately around the well bore?

It seems relatively simple to give a high probability analysis that should counter the seep question anywhere except in the immediate well vicinity thus I am left at a loss as to why BP is not doing exactly that. People may not be experts but we are capable of understanding general principles and explanations, if there is any effort made to give such explanations. Further, my own experience is that when relatively straightforward explanations are not provided, it is often because someone has something to hide. And yes, my fundamental distrust of BP, especially in light of the Texas City stupidity on their part, makes me question their actions more intently.

Grey -- before they get the drill permit theoperator is required to run a shallow seismic survey that would show any shallow faults. As to why BP does/doesn't do somethings I've given up trying to understand.

If the pressure of the injected fluid far exceeds that of the fracture gradient of the surrounding zone, the factors for fluid movement in the fractured zone changes considerably.

However, as soon as the pressure behind the injected fluid ceases, the fractures close, and like a game of musical chairs, the fluid in those fractures has to go somewhere. Usually, back the way it came in. There's no force to continue to propagate fractures after the pressure behind it ceases.

In wells tottering between flowing and fracturing, wells are said to "breathe" where the fluid in the annulus goes up and down, slowly. It's a spooky sight. The mud pumps are off, and the fluid in the annulus comes up... and goes down... and back up again. These are small deep fractures and not related to the potential fractured zones in the shallow section where the potentially breached casing is.

But since I don't believe there is much in the way of breached casing, this is all academic.

@imipak: Yes, lakes of methane on Titan. And maybe springs, too. (http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Cassini-Huygens/SEM48881Y3E_0.html) Enjoyed following the Huygens landing back in 2005. But the fishing probably isn't so good, and its bit cold for swimming, but the Tralfamadorians look friendly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sirens_of_Titan).

Hi All. Quick News. Sandra Bullock, Lenny Kravitz and others just released a video and petition in support of the Gulf. You can watch it here.

I am not sure if this has been discussed before. On the Mike Williams 60 minute interview he says that they were drilling a first well that was abandoned due to problems before they started the well that blew up.

In this clip starting at about 3:26 is the part that addresses this first well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0onXmlFgF8I

[Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon, and one of the last workers to leave the doomed rig] said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks. With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace. "And he requested to the driller, 'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up.' And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down," Williams said. Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called "mud." "We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe," Williams explained. That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.

Does anyone know how far this initial well is from the blown out well? Was it damaged when the rig sank? How was it shut down?

There is only one well, they stuck a drill in the well while drilling, cut it off, cemented the bottom of the hole over the stuck bit and continued drilling starting above the cement and drilling slightly to the side to miss the stuck bit. All in all a fairly normal bit of downhole operations.

Thanks for that clarification.

Matt Simmons and the ‘Thing’: from Black Swans to Brown Pelicans; how People cope in a crisis once, twice, three times removed.

While the shear scale of this disaster has fascinated the general public, along with the myths that surround oil leaks are all man-made (good to see natural seepage being commented on) coupled with a media system that lets everyone ‘be famous for fifteen minutes’ and we have the perfect storm of cognitive dissonance. Human nature itself is a very complex thing, yet alone the things it gets itself into. People will react in different ways based in large part on their own world view and psychological make up.

When I heard of Matt Simmons theory of what happened and watched the video I thought of the John Carpenter 1982 film the Thing. Specifically the scene where they are in the lab, after Norris has collapsed apparently having a heart attack. When Dr. Copper tries to revive him using defibrillator paddles, Norris' chest opens up and bites off Copper's arms and the head sort of slides off Norises torso, promptly grows legs and eyes and starts headed for the door. Palmer comes out with the immortal phrase “You gotta be f***ing kidding” - which was pretty well my response to the Simmons claim!

In the face of the unknown, this event is like the thing imitating people: everyone is pretending they know what really happened. Simmons is like one of the many ‘heads’, both large and small, in the Oil/Peak Oil industry that has been taken over by this ‘thing’, and has suddenly slid off the main body and is epistemologically trying to walk away. In fact the whole story line in the Thing is allegorically not unlike our predicament with Oil in general.

I am an outsider to the oil industry, but in one of my previous lives I was a one time high pressure hydraulics engineer on post-tensioning rigs and do know how unpredictable and difficult to manage high pressure fluids are. The biggest unknown for us was something called “Joukowsky shock”; this is where the potential energy stored in a highly pressurised fluid systems converts to kinetic energy, causing a massive surge in fluid flow for short duration, the effects of which can be like an explosive force along the entire hydraulic system. The so called ‘water hammer’ effect is a relatively low pressure version of this destructive force.

This problem is nicely described in a paper “Decompression Surges in Oil Hydraulic Systems and Their prevention”, by G. Beitler, from the 3rd International Fluid Power Symposium 9th-11th May 1973.

And I quote, from the summary at the beginning of the paper:

To avoid the damage which must certainly be expected to occur as a result of this phenomenon, the store fluid volume must be carried away slowly by throttling at a switching time of correspondingly long duration.

And from the conclusion at the end:

…the project engineer of the supplier of the hydraulic equipment, or anyone concerned with equipping the planned machine with hydraulic accessories, must summon up the courage to show the user the limitations involved, instead of attempting – just to get the order – to minimise these phenomena and to take the risk of an uncontrolled, continuous overloading of the hydraulic equipment due to inadequate or insufficient precautionary measures, which will unavoidably lead to and uneconomically short service life.

Who knows what failed, we shall never know for certain - the rigs at the bottom of the ocean now.

And yes I know the stuff coming up from the GOM is not ‘hydraulic fluid’ but as your Nobel prize winning physicist will tell you, its not a bad approximation! All they needed was an unintentional loss of pressure, as it is the often unintended release of pressure that causes all the damage. Coupled with the explosive decompression of the gaseous elements, and you have a disasterpiece in the making. Accident? Maybe. Negligence? Let us not forget a corporation is bound by the system to make a profit…

Further, given the clusterf**k of safety issues mentioned on previous thread , and the hubris and profiteering found in the oil industry in general, this latest disaster could be the oil industries own black swan, or Brown Pelican as might be more appropriate. The knock on effects, while well overdue in getting the industry to clean up its act, will likely have a deleterious impact on future exploration, heightening the peak in production that is Peak Oil.

As for the Thing, it seems we have all become infected; we should be careful our heads don’t come off our shoulders, grow legs and start running around on their own – who knows where they will end up!


Hey Sid,

Funny, this morning sent off an email to two engineers I know asking about fluid hammer and the oil well. As a firefighter we think about "water hammers" and teach newbies to slowly open or close valves, to make sure everyone isn't doing it at the same time.

Is it simplistic to think about the topkill, relief well, (and the mud used to do both), the oil/gas flow, and the wellbore in terms of minimizing fluid hammer to not further damage the well? If the formulas at the wiki article aren't correct for oil/gas, which ones are? Thanks

Here's part of the email:

In the fire dept we called it water hammer.


"... Rough calculations can be made either using the Joukowsky equation, or more accurate ones using the method of characteristics ... ... Most water hammer software packages use the method of characteristics to solve the differential equations involved. This method works well if the wave speed does not vary in time due to either air or gas entrainment in a pipeline. Many commercial and non commercial packages exist today."

What I am curious about is a sudden pressure loss resulting in a rapid
change of direcion of the fluid column further damaging the well bore,
(pipes, casing, and fracturing strata) making it much harder or impossible to kill the gusher with a relief well.

I think it possible there is oil/gas leaking from the damaged casing of the well bore. BP was looking for pressure in the blow out preventer (BOP) to reach 8-9000 Psi. So far it's just over 6800 Psi. The pressure at the reservoir was about 12000 Psi.

To account for the ~ 1200-2200 Psi loss in pressure some are saying the reservoir has been depleted, others are saying this is in a safe range, and others are saying it's due to a combination of factors including leaking from the damaged wellbore.

If the loss of the expected pressure in the BOP is due in part to
pressurized fluid blowing out from the wellbore into the permeable
rock/sand/sandstone surrounding it, and especially if at shallower depths, then a cavity is forming. Of course this could lead to some of the seafloor leaking being reported but my concern is a rapid loss into a much softer substrate or a much greater, faster flow at the seafloor in effect causing a fluid hammer.

Two questions:

1. Do you think this is a legitimate concern or just a mindless waste of time?

2. If "the wave speed does not vary in time due to either air or gas
entrainment in a pipeline" is a limitation to predicting or understanding what could happen, and gas/oil in a pipeline would seem to be in play here, what method could one use to think about this?


Um....BP violated MMS regs. From today's hearings.


The Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer -- the key device for shutting off a wild oil well -- had a leak in the days before it failed to operate and BP did not comply with a federal regulation requiring the rig to suspend operations, a BP company man testified Tuesday.

So far, BP still has not provided their 0930 update and are going to "try" to hold their daily technical briefings at 3 pm. Thad Allen's briefing for this morning, already postponed twice, has now been put off until this afternoon, time not yet announced.

It could be the weather developments. Several of the models are wanting to turn 97L into a hurricane in 48 to 72 hours, crossing Southern Florida or the Keys and into the GOM.

Models are often wrong at early stages but I am sure this has their attention. They need lead time to get out of there.

Probably a heated cat fight going on right about now.

Boy, John Guide better have a very energetic and sharp criminal lawyer (whose best service may end up coming in sentencing negotiations).

I know nothing about the oil and gas field and this is my first post here. I have been watching events unfold in the gulf of Mexico, however.

Here is a graph from the last 2 hours before the well blew:


Can any of you kind people explain to me exactly what this chart means? To me it looks like the well experienced a sudden rise in pressure and it blew. Can you provide any insight, and does this chart actually show us anything?

Also, I'm very worried about the gas release into the gulf (methane, benzene, etc.), both because of it's potential effects on humans on the surface in the gulf, and because of it's potential to blow inland into populated areas. Can any of you provide any insight into what the released gases might do as they rise from where they're dissolved into ocean waters? Any chance any of this could melt the frozen methane down there?

Thanks from the newbie ignoramus!

toll - That's been the scuttlebutt for some time. Didn't want to repeat it on TOD without confirmation. I would think Anadarko would be on this issue like stink on a skunk. Not sure but that might even rise to the occsion of a criminal offense especially if they submitted knowlingly false reports.

John Guide, BP's Well Team Leader, appears to be auditioning for criminal charges if anyone is. He not only failed to report the leaking BOP. He is the guy who over-rode BP engineers and Haliburton on the cemenet job and ordered them to proceed with 6 centralizers instead of the 21 Haliburton said was needed to ensure safe cement job.

BP's Drilling Engineering Team Leader Gregory Waltz was so concenred with what Brial Morel was about to do with his idea that the pipe would hang straight in the hole under gravity that he brought the issue to Guide's attention advising that they go with 21 centralizers. Waltz even went to the trouble of lining up all the needed centralizers and a plane to fly them to the rig the next day. Waltz noted that given their choice of casing design, they needed to listen to Haliburton to honor thier own risk modeling.

Guide did not care. All he cared about was saving a few bucks.

The following day, April 16, the issue was elevated to John Guide, BP's Well Team Leader, by Gregory Walz, BP's Drilling Engineering Team Leader. Mr. Walz informed Mr. Guide: "We have located 15 Weatherford centralizers with stop collars ... in Houston and worked things out with the rig to be able to fly them out in the morning." The decision was made because "we need to honor the modeling to be consistent with our previous decisions to go with the long string." Mr. Walz explained: "I wanted to make sure that we did not have a repeat of the last Atlantis job with questionable centralizers going into the hole." Mr. Walz added: "I do not like or want to disrupt your operations . . .. I know the planning has been lagging behind the operations and I have to turn that around."

In his response, Mr. Guide raised objections to the use of the additional centralizers, writing: " it will take 10 hrs to install them . .. . I do not like this and ... I [am] very concerned about using them."

An e-mail from Brett Cocales, BP's Operations Drilling Engineer, indicates that Mr. Guide's perspective prevailed. On April 16, he e-mailed Mr. Morel:

"Even if the hole is perfectly straight, a straight piece of pipe even in tension will not seek the perfect center of the hole unless it has something to centralize it."

"But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job. I would rather have to squeeze than get stuck ....So Guide is right on the reward equation."

Did mr. guide have any input on displacing the riser with no barrier in place to save another 10 hours? Did he have any input on the decision to ignore the returns resulting from the pressure tests? Did he have any input in the decision not to fix the various safety systems that were not functioning, such as engine shut-off, gas purging, etc. He seems to be the guy (or one of the guys) with the power and willingness to override engineering evaluation and recommendations, safety systems and govt. regs based on economic considerations.

Errors corrected.

FYI...There was something that came out later (that I'll probably never be able to find again), that indicated that the centralizers may not have been the completely correct type, and that fed into some of the concerns.

syn -- A theoretical question: if you were Mr. Guide (and assuming you set your morals to the side) how many $'s would it take to get you to "take the bullit"? Not that it doesn't appear he deverves at least some of the blame. But if you know you're going to get nailed a little why not take the whole hit if the money is right and let the buck stop at you? Consider how much it would be worth to BP if one or two hands took it upon themselves to be the only sacrificial goats.

I'm just in one of those moods this afternoon.

RM, I share your mood, although i have a headache, too.

Yes, there is too much clear evidence of shocking and outrageous conduct here. The e-mails already released would be a sufficient basis for a jury awarding punitive damages, if reviewed by an appellate court (and putting aside causation issues for the moment). I am not competent to evaluate criminal liability, but it sure meets a wanton and reckless conduct standard that often applies to regulatory-related crimes.

BP could try your strategy. Or it could try to stick a knife deeply into the backs of those employees implicated by the evidence. They were acting beyond the scope of their duties as criminals whose conduct BP should not be held accountable for. The facts may not fit. I have no idea. Just speculating. But you could either make them your friends or you pin it all on them in a way that absolves you of liability. Neither opportunity may present itself. But BP did have some folks concerned about this stuff. Not only the engineer noted above, but also from the design phase:

Mr. Gagliano's findings should not have been a surprise to BP. As noted above, BP's mid-April plan review found that if BP used a single string of casing, as BP had decided to do, "Cement simulations indicate it is unlikely to be a successful cement job." Nonetheless, BP ran the last casing with only six centralizers.

And it skipped the CBL despite these engineering red flags.

That's from the Waxman letter, by the way, all of these quotes.

gotta run ....

syn -- The interesting aspect is if BP does try to offer any of their hands as unwilling martyrs. Everyone in the oil patch saves incriminating/embarrasing emails from their bosses...even nice guys like me. You never know when need a little extra protection. I've got a dedicated flash stick just for that purpose. As a consultant getting orders from clients I ould be a fool if I didn't save those CYA messages. BP's board of directors may truly be shocked to see just how many very foolish/dangerous messages their managers emailed out.

I imagine the e-mails are going to say a lot, they already have. (I'm glad to hear you have that stick, very smart). Things are already getting very tense at the hearings. The chair had to state he will have people (attorneys) removed if they upset the decorum of the proceedings following a rash of feigned outrage and posturing from counsel objections before things got started.

One objection was that too many BP witnesses appeared to be taking the 5th and coming up with doctor excuses to avoide testifying. The BP lawyer promptly objected to that objection!

It's worth listening. Here's one link:




Ronald Sepulvado, a BP company man in charge on the rig until April 16, testified that he might skip the bottoms-up test if the crew had been losing drilling mud through openings in the well's wall. He said the well had been suffering losses of mud.

Losing mud usually calls for a second test, called a cement bond log, to measure the integrity of the cement barriers that are supposed to seal off the well walls. The company had hired a crew from service contractor Schlumberger to run the test, but sent the team home 11 hours before the accident without conducting the cement bond log.

In a circular argument that had lawyers from rig owner Transocean confused, Sepulvado said a cement bond log wasn't needed unless fluid was being lost. Separate testimony has shown that a test of pressure in the well on the day of the accident was interpreted to mean that fluid was no longer being lost, even though it had to be run twice to get that positive result.

Also sez that Schlumberger's flight out would have been arranged the day prior.

Yup, no bottoms up saved some hours. I beleive someone said it could take the good part of a day to fully circulate bottoms up.

The key fact here is the lost returns on the pressure tests. There is no excuse for ignoring them even if you can make the pressure numbers work. BP's senior drill engineer testified that the crew (now dead) reported there were no lost returns. The Haliburton hand doing the tests disputes this and asserts that it was obvious the well was flowing at the time. It was even gurgling. I beleive BP's early post-blow-out documents acknowledge the lost returns.

If they had hydrostatically balanced the well before displacing the riser, or had set the top plug first, it would seem that the bad cement job would not have caused a blow-out and they could have fixed the cement job later when they came back to produce the well. There are some indications that this was the logic at play. Fix it later. However, did the people making that judgment also know they were going to displace the riser without a back-up barrier in place? Although it's speculation, it's an interesting question given all of the short-cutting going on. But no matter what, the lost returns on the negative pressure test are one of the big factual issues that a jury or judge may have to resolve since there are conflicting accounts already.

I notice the words have changed and the opening paragraph now reads


The Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer -- the key device for shutting off a wild oil well -- had a leak in the days before it failed to operate, which may have required BP to suspend operations under a federal regulation, a BP company man testified Tuesday.

Morning, all. Didn't see this posted yet.
"...Crater swallows ship

The hazard hit the headlines back in 1964, when a blowout near Louisiana set fire to the C.P. Baker drill ship and opened a crater that literally swallowed it. After C.P. Baker, devices were required on rigs that divert gases safely out to sea, away from the machinery.

However, certain pre-drill tests weren't required on wells planned near existing holes on the theory the hazards would be clear, though MMS repeatedly recommended conducting them.

A Chevron crew was surprised by shallow gas in April 2003, just 100 feet from the tracks of four previous wells. Records show shallow gas caused or contributed to 10 blowouts in the last decade..."

Heading out,will check y'all later.

(Have to have the TOD fix with chicory coffee or heart won't start beating)

This is kind of what I'm worried about in my post above. Navigating the gulf could get a little weird once those gases rise toward the surface.

And I'm worried what it might do in the prevailing winds, which seem to blow over the gulf and onshore with regularity. What doesn't blow up over the US, blows around it and up the eastern seaboard.

I'm not sure how long it takes gases to dissipate since I've heard that methane tends to hug the ground and sink into low lying areas, and could potentially stay intact when blown by the wind because it's slightly heavier.

Methane is lighter than air and floats up, hence greenhouse issues.


...except when mixed with water vapor, which is why in a sudden release of large quantities of Methane from the seafloor to surface, may stay on the surface and be blown by surface winds into a population center (and a likely ignition source).

Propane is the one which will pool in low areas.

Methane explosions occur in mines because the quantity of methane outstrips the ventilation system's ability to replace it with air. How a quantity of methane "blown by surface winds" could ignite is beyond me unless the quantity of methane overwhelms the wind's capability to disperse it.

If methane is the primary constituent of the gases being released, then concentrations must be very high in order for people along the coasts to be getting sick. Concentrations of methane that cause people to get sick are around the same concentrations, I think, as methane becomes explosive.

"What are the main health hazards associated with breathing in methane?

Methane is not toxic below the lower explosive limit of 5% (50000 ppm). However, when methane is present at high concentrations, it acts as an asphyxiant. Asphyxiants displace oxygen in the air and can cause symptoms of oxygen deprivation (asphyxiation). The available oxygen should be a minimum of 18% or harmful effects will result. Methane displaces oxygen to 18% in air when present at 14% (140000 ppm). It is not expected to cause unconsciousness (narcosis) due to central nervous system depression until it reaches much higher concentrations (30% or 300000 ppm) - well above the lower explosive limit and asphyxiating concentrations."


The gases causing health effects along the coasts might be something other than methane (benzene, propane, airborne corexit, etc.), but SOMETHING is causing people to get sick.

Its possible far more offgasing than we're being told is occuring, and it just takes a lot longer to dissipate than is possible with the rate of offgassing.

Not sure...

Don't neglect the effects of stress on the human body. It can exacerbate all sort of pre-existing conditions and cause symptoms that masquerade as many types of illnesses.

If I had to place a bet I'd say that stress is going to be the number one health problem from this spill.

I don't think the reported symptoms are stress. I have PTSD, and when it comes to stress symptoms, I have them all. I don't think the reported symtoms are from stress.

In comparison, read a bit about what the 9/11 survivors have experienced (whose trauma was far greater):


Acute stress reponse tends to be very similar to PTSD symptoms, but of far shorter duration.

"PTSD symptoms vary among individuals and also vary in severity from mild to disabling. PTSD Symptoms can include one or more of the following:

•"flashbacks" about the traumatic event
•feelings of estrangement or detachment
•sleep disturbances
•impaired functioning
•occupational instability
•memory disturbances
•family discord
•parenting or marital difficulties

Sometimes the manifestations of PTSD wax and wane, with symptom-free intervals occurring between symptomatic episodes. Anniversaries and reminders of the precipitating event can exacerbate the symptoms. Sometimes PTSD occurs in combination with other emotional disorders or with specific physical symptoms."




The likelihood that gulf coast residents could be reporting similar symptoms as some kind of group psychosomatic response is very unlikely. In my opinion, they wouldn't be suffering ANY physical symptoms without experiencing significant psychological symptoms of stress response as noted above.

You are doing a disservice to those who are affected on the gulf coast by calling their symptoms a stress response (i.e., they're crazy). Not to mention offending me, when I've got the real deal.

The exception to what I've said above is the oil rig workers who lived through the explosion, and those who were close by when it happened. They might very well be suffering acute stress response or PTSD. But as far as I can tell, they're not reporting the same symptomology as the gulf coast residents.

Your post is good, but apart from severe stress symptoms, consider the effect if people are led to believe they are breathing something harmful in the air. We know there is always some ozone in city air. Now suppose someone started broadcasting this message: "Scientists have discovered concentrations of deadly ozone in the atmosphere around the New York metropolitan area. While federal agencies say the condition is normal and no cause for concern, independent scientists say that ozone can corrode the lungs, leading to respiratory distress and even death."

Don't you know that this message itself would cause a spike in ER visits, including many very real asthma attacks and many visits by people with routine minor respiratory symptoms they would otherwise ignore?

Stress responses and illnesses from stress responses are perfectly real, as you should well know, and when looking at large populations exposed to significant chronic stressors all manner of illnesses can crop up due to the suppressed immune response caused by the stress. This is independent of PTSD and the specifically stress-related illnesses that frequently accompany it (which are also quite real).

In short: nobody is crazy here. It's a sucky situation and people get sick more easily when a situation like this lasts for weeks or months as this one has. Maybe we need to send their medical bills to BP...

That said, it is also quite likely that compounds in the oil being cleaned up are making people in close contact with them and inadequate protective gear sick. Many of the more complex hydrocarbons *are* toxic so people working on the cleanup should be wearing appropriate protective gear.

So there is likely to be a physical component as well.

It's just that any physical component is not likely to be methane, as I think you were pointing out a couple of posts up.

"You are doing a disservice to those who are affected on the gulf coast by calling their symptoms a stress response (i.e., they're crazy). Not to mention offending me, when I've got the real deal."

oldhat1 makes good point!!!!!! And heartfelt sympathy to you, oldhat1. I deal with a Gulf War vet and Nam vet, both of whom I love dearly and both of whom came home with PTSD as a result of military service. PTSD of any origin is a bitch and there's no other word for it.

Hang on, oldhat1, because you're going to see a lot of that nasty little semantic game of trying to disappear the biological damage from the mind of the nation. In my estimation, it's the equivalent of denigrating a whistle blower by calling him a "disgruntled employee".

Psyops of the lowest order. I think it's going to be a lot harder to make it work this go round. too many people involved.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. (http://www3.bartleby.com/100/448.html)

However, when methane is present at high concentrations, it acts as an asphyxiant.

This is a good indication that methane has very few, if any, toxic effects. By toxic, I mean chemical effects that interfere with your body chemistry. What it does is displace the oxygen from the air; you don't get the oxygen, and you asphyxiate. If it were toxic, bad things would happen long before that. The concentrations for asphyxiation simply can't happen along the coasts; 14% is very, very high, and it would require enormous amounts of methane.

If you have a gas stove, methane is the primary component of what burns. When people try to commit suicide with methane, they usually blow their houses up before they manage to asphyxiate themselves.

Could you be more specific and provide links for "health effects along the coasts"? Benzene's toxic effects are long-term: cancer and blood diseases. You'd have to take in quite a bit to get immediate effects.

And, oldhat1, from some of your other comments, I think I need to repeat that stuff mixes, and, once mixed, doesn't unmix unless you put energy into the system.

A news article reporting on Congressional hearings:

"In Louisiana, the crude oil aerosols have resulted in health impacts including headaches, nausea, respiratory impacts, irritation to eyes, nose, throat and lungs and asthma attacks and have been experienced by people living along the coastal areas in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes as well as in the New Orleans metropolitan area. These symptoms have also been experienced by workers and fishermen in the general area of the crude oil slick and areas where tar balls have washed onshore."


I can provide other links, if needed.

I know that oil offgassing is toxic itself, but isn't that from the benzene? Not an oil/gas person here...

The link asserts that there are crude oil aerosols but gives no information on air sampling that shows aerosols. They're unlikely to exist very far from the coast. The symptoms described, as Gobbet points out, can be caused by many things.

The likelihood that gulf coast residents could be reporting similar symptoms as some kind of group psychosomatic response is very unlikely.

On the contrary; mass hysteria is well known to produce mass symptoms. Wikipedia gives some examples.

People say many things in Congressional hearings, too, that may or may not be backed up by fact.

It's certainly up to you to choose what you want to believe, oldhat1. I'm just pointing out some of what might be needed to make a substantive case.

P.S. It's not just non-scientists who are arrogant.

oldhat1, CR gave some scientific details to support her comments and I didn't read it as arrogant. People will be as sick as their mind says they will be. What goes on in the mind plays itself out in the body.

People will use spray piant in enclosed areas without ventilation and sometimes they will smoke tobacco products while doing so. People don't give a second thought to sitting in bumper to bumper traffic or fast food drive thru's while their car's ventilation system sucks up the fumes from the vehicle in front. These examples are not about arrogance.

Hindmost, both water vapor and methane are less dense than air and thus will rise.


Some people are reporting alterations in the rain since the spill. Also reporting white spots and holes through plants, oil sheen on the top of puddles miles inland, etc.

I have to wonder whether these anecdotal reports of first hand observations have some validity, even though we are most often told by TPTB this isn't possible.

I just read that it doesn't dissolve well in water. What about corexent? Another link says it dissolves easily in some solvents:


It has potency as a global warming constitutent and lasts for about 9 years in the atmosphere.

I'm just not sure how long it will hover over the ocean and near surface before it rises. I guess the continuing bad air quality over the gulf right now - and inland in places like Grand Isle - is evidence that gases are still leaking in very large quantities and it's the saturation that's causing it's inland spread.

Oldhat--The low solubility of methane just means that it needs a lot of water to dissolve in. The methane that doesn't crystallize near the wellhead will dissolve in the deep column of water rather than bubble to the surface. The solubility doesn't change massively as you move from deep sea temperatures to surface temperatures, so there won't be much outgassing. The methane that is dissolved in seawater will stay there until it is eaten by bacteria over the next weeks and months. Because this methane is not very toxic, it apparently doesn't pose a great danger to the ecosystem except insofar as its digestion by bacteria contributes to oxygen depletion in the Gulf. That depletion will be temporary in the upper levels but long-lasting in the depths. Whether or not that will be a serious problem for marine life is not known at this time.

But you really don't need to worry about methane posing a threat to people living near the Gulf. There is next to no chance of it reaching toxic or explosive levels in the atmosphere. People have always lived with methane in their intestines and the air they breathe, and have always lived alongside a vast amount of methane hydrate crystals on the sea floor and in deep lakes where the water is cold enough. Please don't let the hoaxers and crackpots scare you. If people around the Gulf are getting sick, the cause may be fear rather than chemicals in the air. EPA is constantly doing air tests and posting the results.

Thank you for your kind reply. I found the EPA results here:


They note ozone monitoring - which is an indicator of worry about methane breakdown products - but doesn't yet seem to be excessive in quantity in coastal areas. This is as you have explained.

WRT fear - read my post above regarding this supposition. Not freaking likely. Please stop making this assertion as it does you no credit and shows disrespect for what those on the coasts are experiencing (as well as myself, for the reasons mentioned above).

But the EPA does claim odor causing pollutants:

"EPA has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with oil on the shore in the gulf region at low levels. Some of these chemicals may cause short-lived effects like headache, eye, nose and throat irritation, or nausea. Some people may be able to smell several of these chemicals at levels well below those that would cause short-term health problems.

EPA is also conducting additional air monitoring for ozone and airborne particulate matter. The air monitoring conducted through July 17 has found levels of ozone and particulates ranging from the "good" to "unhealthy for sensitive groups" levels on EPA's Air Quality Index."

I do have a bit of problem with their methodology, since they have far more monitoring stations further from the spill than they do close to it when wind patterns tend to blow air directly inland.

They do have a good explanation for symptoms though - although they don't specify. There are elevated VOCs in coastal areas of LA. In my experience, exposure to low concentrations of VOCs can make you very sick. I had a small paint can blow the lid while I was sleeping, and the offgassing made me so sick after a very short period of time that it woke me up. I was sleeping at the other end of the house, and the can that had blown it's lid was the smallest size of paint can you can buy. Gave me a new respect for the negative effects of VOCs and I will be far more particular about buying paint in the future.

The chart for VOC sampling in Grand Isle is here:


That being said, slightly elevated VOCs that make you feel sick (and boy do I have experience with that one) is not clouds of methane flowing inland. Which makes me feel better. Still worried, but better.

The fact they are monitoring ozone will tell me what I need to know about potential methane levels, and the VOCs will tell me what I need to know about Benzene. I'll link the page and keep an eye out. Thanks.

Edit to add: The paint can size I mentioned above was 8 OUNCES! And it filled my house with enough VOCs to make me sick in about 30 minutes. Not much VOCs, but you still feel sick.

Gobbet: Well said, and thank you. It kinda comes down to fear doesn't it? I went thru a rather traumatic accident early on in my life, propane fire- 1980 Intermountain Burn Unit, UofUtah Hospital. When one grapples with death, first hand and up close, the fight is on and being a victim to that is not in the cards, for some of us. Science and knowledge and trust go a long way in helping us to not LIVE in fear. To be fear-LESS is the the thing. Heck, I don't advocate throwing all caution to the wind, and cant speak for others, but am glad people like you, Mr. Rockman, et. al. are here to help us get a grip with our fears and live without SO much fear in our living.

"...Crater swallows ship" I checked out that link & the part about the C.P.Baker was bogus & not correct. I found it quite difficult to believe a "hole" opened up on the ocean floor & "swallowed" a ship on the surface. Digging a bit, I found this story which appeared much more believable:


Remember - don't turn your brain off while reading a "news" story.


This part of the article seems to be a confused mashup of the C.P. Baker incident and the 1980 accident at Lake Peigneur in Louisiana, where a drilling crew punctured an active salt mine under a lake. The resulting vortex sucked in the drilling rig, a dozen barges, and drained the lake. http://www.damninteresting.com/lake-peigneur-the-swirling-vortex-of-doom

We really need more imflammatory stuff here. Chronicle's description of the CP Baker incident certainly meets that criteria.
From the USCG Marine Casualty Report (linked from article below):

"As a result of erupting water entering the hulls through open doors, the vessel began to heel aft and, after around 30 minutes, C.P. Baker sank by the stern."

Crater swallows ship? I don't think so . . .


This has probably been answered somewhere, but why are the coordinates of the ROV's so strange?

The ROV coordinates are in UTM ( universal Transverse Mercater projection). They are UTM zone 16 in feet N and E of the UTM zone corner.

Sorry if this has been covered multiple times. I understand the technology if we have to locate the bad well hundreds of feet under the mud is a bit like a metal detector - multiple runs, listen for the loudest ping, turn 90 degrees and gently locate the actual well. Now, we want to penetrate it to allow the introduction of heavy mud and kill it. At 7,800 psi well pressure, that sounds to me like trying to stop a fire hose with a drinking straw. Where am I going wrong? Is there a good on-line video? Thank you all for your patience.

I believe the relief well would be filled with enough mud that the pressure in it at the point of intersection would be greater than the pressure in the well being killed. The mud flows into the well being killed from the relief well. As it continues to be pumped in it rises up the well bore creating a column that pushes back against the pressure from the well. When enough mud is added the pressures ballance and it stops flowing.

This is downright criminal, exemption or not:

Contractor: BP Pumped Unusual Chemicals Into Well Before Explosion
Rachel Slajda | July 20, 2010, 10:14AM

A contractor working on the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded testified yesterday that the day before the explosion, BP had pumped an unusual chemical mixture into the well -- a mixture that later rained down on the rig like "snot."

Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for M-I Swaco, told the panel investigating the causes of the explosion that BP decided to mix two chemicals the company had a surplus of -- two chemicals that aren't usually mixed -- and pump them into the well to flush out the drilling mud.

"It's not something we've ever done before," he said.

Lindner said BP wanted to use 400 barrels of the mixture, more than twice the amount of fluid usually used, because the company had hundreds of barrels of the chemicals and wanted to get rid of them.

From the Washington Post:

By first flushing it into the well, the company could take advantage of an exemption in an environmental law that otherwise would have prohibited it from discharging the hazardous waste into the Gulf of Mexico, Lindner said. Lindner testified that he had concerns, even conducting his own impromptu experiment by mixing small amounts of the chemicals in the hours before the explosion.

He observed a dense grey liquid, similar to the fluid that rained down on the rig the next day -- a fluid the rig engineer described as "snot."


And it's oh so comfy to know that it's all presently flowing around the gulf with the rest of the hazardous material.

More fish food, I guess.

BP just provided the general update. Pressure is now at 6825 psi and continuing to slowly increase.

On another note, I checked the DH web site to see if BP's response to Thad Allen's letter (requesting plans and time lines) had been posted yet, but no cigar.

Last night we watched a mattress being lowered to the sea floor.

If they were to try to kill this with mud now would there be some new equipment they would need to set on the sea floor or maybe some equipment they would need to take off the original BOP and set it on the mattress?

Neptune was sleepy. Never heard about a mattress before. I am interested in the responses.

I dunno - a mattress would seem to be appropriate considering what's been going on.

You mean a mud mat?

It looked like what I call a mud mat but on the ROV helping placing it said mattress detail.

Yeah. Those ROV's have been working mighty hard without much sleep. A mattress down there for naps is very thoughtful. ;-)

Can you imagine a video feed of an ROV in 'standby mode' - with a teddy bear visible in its manipulator arm?

Member for a whole 5 minutes but reader for quite a bit of this thrill ride.

Ouestion: There is a drill string that runs to the top of the original BOP that is obviously a secondary flow path - perhaps even the primary. If it has a sealing arrangement at the bottom for the concrete and mud work won't that stop the mud at that point without closing the path through the drill string?

I've also been thinking about this drill pipe in the context of the static kill.

My conclusion was that mud injected at the kill connection below the old BOP could also flow up through the partially closed BOP rams and then down the upper end of the drill pipe. Seeings as we could see flow coming out of the drill pipe when they removed the flange, it stands to reason that mud can also be forced down it.

Thad Allen's briefing time has just been announced (3:30 pm) from the 7th floor conference room at the Department of Justice. Interesting choice for location?

Well, yeah. That is a bit odd. It might portend what the focus of the conference is about.

To completely and eternally satisfy certain theorists, it will be announced that Lee Harvey Oswald was abducted by the sister ship of the one that crashed at Roswell; he was replaced by a shape-shifting alien who after the JFK assassination also caused the Twin Towers to fall and sabotaged the Deepwater Horizon. He has agreed to surrender to authorities but only in the company of Matt Simmons.

That's it. Thread won. The rest of us can just fold our tents and beat feet for the next town.

So it's not correct that the shapeshifter is now Matt Simmons?

Most will read that and giggle...then march solemnly forward on Sundays and talk to Invisible Friends? Gives em' money too.


Curiouser and curiouser.

Prosecution or even investigation does not fall into the response category IMHO. Preservation and collection perhaps, but the rest is DOJ, no? Weird.

It may just be a matter of convenience. The conference room might have been available and Allen was going to be nearby on other business? Who knows.

I suspect and hope the Feds have this at worked out least four steps ahead. I could see the Admiral getting with DOJ whether there is a crime issue or not. The Admiral is the one with this hands all over the evidence right now. You are right, probably had more comfy chairs.


After the well is sealed, and during the legal orgy/post-mortem/litigation in the years and decades to follow, it seems obvious that the Chinese overhaul of the original BOP will loom large.

1. Will the original BOP be permanently "entombed" where it is now?
2. If so, in normal and routine well sealings, is it also left in place? (Seems like a mighty expensive piece of equipment to abandon.) If not, are they reused?
3. If it can be recovered, in your opinion, would its condition preclude any useful forensic engineering?

AS I recall the BOP that failed had been used before, thus the servicing in China.

WHERE DID YOU FIND the Chinese overhaul of the BOP?
I have been researching this since april and I haven't been able to validate anything.

Well... here is a good place to start:

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

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


berkster --I actually expect them to try to replace the old BOP with a new one so they can finish plugging the well properly. I'd bet you lunch that when the old BOP hits the deck it's immediately taken into custody by a US marshal (did I mention I once applied to be a U.S. marshal back in the 80's when the oil pacth was dead. The recruiter told me, on the side of course, that they wouldn't hire me because I had TOO MUCH college...figured I would eventually quit.) Nope -- BOP's move with the rig. Forensic engineering? I suspect the first thing they'll check is if the Chinese modifications were actually made. Told this story before: a few years ago I was on a Russian piece of sh*t drillship off the coast of Africa. Pulled the BOP to the surface after we had been drilling for most of a month. Opened up a main valve housing and SURPRISE! There was no valve inside. No way the BOP would have functioned properly. As I mentioned in the previous telling, a couple of days later I had my first and only nightmare while sleeping on a rig. So real was the sensation that the ship was capsizing that I put my legs thru the ceiling panel above my top bunk.

I did read the crazy second pipe had disappeared from the exposed area before the new hat went on. Has a second gamma-ray pic been taken of the stack that you know of? I think I would have read it... That danged pipe is still making me scratch my head, visible or not. i figured it was a real short piece, turned upside down showing the threads in the flipped location. But the gamma ray pic.. ah, hell, I don't know.

What happens when it's time to pull the stack and the hanging drill pipe remains jammed in the BOP mechanisms? Cut and drop it downhole, or attempt to winch the whole string up out of there pretty quick?

In the last thread the guy with the tin foil hat provided a link that debunked the methane bubble story. I for one, do not like alarmists. It does no one any good to be unduly frightened by stories that are just rumors, possibly started by people with nefarious objectives. That being said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is part of a larger, mostly corrupt government, and at this point I cannot conclude that anything the government has done has been forthright or in the interests of Gulf Coast residents to date. Therefore, I much prefer hearing the scientists out at this point, then just blindly believing the lies that have been coming out of BP or agencies connected to BP.

This article from Reuters was one of the first that alarmed me, regarding the methane levels:

I did some research on Professor John Kessler who recorded the astonishingly high methane levels that the article documents. He has an extrememly impressive profile and methane gas in particular has been one of his pet subjects.

The links to his findings had been apparently scrubbed from the internet, so I went to the cached version instead. It has nice colored pictures of him wearing a gas mask at the site of the blow out, so go look at it yourselves, read it and see what you think, and decide who is more credible.


or http://tinyurl.com/243whxo

From the article:
(Preliminary results show concentrations at some points to be a million times higher than normal, researcher says John Kessler, a chemical oceanographer in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University, is currently analyzing methane levels in water collected from seven miles to 500 meters from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead.

Preliminary results, he says, point to high concentrations of the gas. "Methane levels ranged from 10,000 to nearly 1 million times higher in some spots than normal concentration," Kessler said.

The 10-day cruise, which was funded by a National Science Foundation Rapid Response grant, returned June 21 with nearly 1 million data points gathered. Since that time, he and his colleagues have been analyzing the results in the shore-based lab at Texas A&M.

Ramifications are multifold, Kessler said. He called the site a natural laboratory in which to better assess the effect of methane on global climate change. Naturally occurring methane seeps have been linked to rapid climate change. For instance, an event occurring 55 million years ago may have caused one of these spikes, scientists believe. So the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster may, at least, help scientists better understand and perhaps predict methane effects on global temperatures.

Results also indicate that oxygen levels at some deepwater sites were 30 percent lower, while other sites remained unaffected. "This presents a puzzle that we cannot resolve without further research," Kessler says. )

Sad as it is, this scientist is a much more credible source of information to me- A Florida resident who has been suffering from migraines for the past three months when none existed before- than a sector of the government that has done nothing in Florida to protect the environment or its people here,IMHO.

Proof of this is the fact that there is a company right here on the gulf coast that produces an eco-friendly alternative to Corexit. I have contacted Crist's office to enquire about why they aren't using this and I got the brush off.

Conclusion- Instead of investing in the company that produces Munox, and helping a small company right on the Gulf make a little profit while also using a biologically safe alternative to the toxic Corexit, produced by Nalco, with ties to BP, Goldman Saks and other nefarious organizations, the Florida gov't continues to protect the obstruction of truth that BP has been using all along, while not protecting it's own citizens.

at this point I cannot conclude that anything the government has done has been forthright or in the interests of Gulf Coast residents to date [etc., etc.]

Well, dancer, you're entirely welcome to your opinion, but don't go around thinking it makes a convincing argument all by itself.

Any statement that uses a phrase such as "millions of times higher than normal" may sound impressive, but states nothing of any real significance. There is no mention of what "normal" is, and there is no indication of what the reading actually is.

A typical Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Methane usually indicates:

"Methane is inactive biologically and essentially nontoxic; therefore, the majority is the exclusion of an adequate supply of oxygen to the lungs.

Methane is not listed in the IARC, NTP or by OSHA as a carcinogen or potential


There is an explosion and fire hazard with it, but you need concentrations above 5%. (5% to 15% is the explosive range)

In general, methane makes up about 75% of natural gas. Even if you took all of the methane in the oil spew, and some how forced it to stay in an area 200 miles across to a depth of 10,000 feet... say the size of a moderate hurricane, you will still be several orders of magnitude below the LEL of 5%. This was covered a couple of days ago on this forum.

As for Governor Charley the Tan Pander Bear... It's about what I would expect of him.

Now the higher order hydrocarbons, such as Benzine can be hazardous. You can get the EPA data here: http://epa.gov/bpspill/air.html#data

I would make you a really nice plot if the data, but for some unknown reason, the EPA doesn't put a timestamp on their data. They just throw all the hourly samples into a date and never tell you what hour it's for. Again... government at work, expect no more than a feeble effort to look like they are doing something.

Okay, it's a fudge plot of the Benzene data from the link I provided. It's EPA data for July 1 to July 14. No background image, but I did provide some key cities so you can get an idea of where these samples were taken.


If you want exposure limits, I recommend:


"Preliminary results, he says, point to high concentrations of the gas. "Methane levels ranged from 10,000 to nearly 1 million times higher in some spots than normal concentration," Kessler said."

This phrase should have raised the BS flag. Proper terminology would have been 'methane levels ranged from X to Y which were 10,000 to nearly 1 million times higher in locations A, B, and C than the normal concentration of Z.'

When people are vague, then you should be suspicious.

This article from Reuters was one of the first that alarmed me, regarding the methane levels:

That is about levels of dissolved methane in seawater.

pictures of him wearing a gas mask at the site of the blow out

That clearly isn't.

The Reuters article doesn't quote absolute values for the quantities of dissolved methane, so it's hard to judge the importance of Kessler's report.

Here's a report about about levels of dissolved methane in seawater in the Gulf

Apparently, "subsurface maxima in dissolved methane concentrations are a consistent feature of the open ocean".

According to the Reuters article: "Kessler said oxygen depletions have not reached a critical level yet,"

So he feels it's of concern but not critical.

"but the oil is still spilling into the Gulf, now at a rate of as much as 60,000 barrels a day, according to U.S. government estimates.

From what I recall, that was near the upper end of U.S. government estimates. The lower end was half that.

'What is it going to look like two months down the road, six months down the road, two years down the road?' he asked."

That was written a month ago, now the well is capped. If it stays capped and is killed, I suppose levels of dissolved methane should gradually return to pre-blowout levels.

"...the redirection of the thought process to include another attempt at a top kill..."

Now...why didn't *I* think of that??? WAIT!!! I DID, I DID think of that!!! ;-)


Sorry - just couldn't resist.


Could be they read your blog ---which got some gears turning. I didn't think there would be a way to keep the mud from flowing into the reservoir but this static kill just might be possible.

Why is BP killing the well? They could collect the oil and make $millions to offset the damages.

Because BP is required to get permission from the MMS to ever produce this well bore. And I can promise you they'll never get that permit. I also don't think they would try even if allowed to. Too much damage and too many unknowns IMHO.

Why is BP killing the well? They could collect the oil and make $millions to offset the damages.

Because BP don't earn anything from MC252 oil revenues. They pledged it all to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The US Govt still get 18% and Anadarko and Moex get their 35%.

A photographer that works for BP did that to make a better picture. So what? There is nothing sinister, there.

It's like watching a cartoon unraveling, seriously ! What are they thinking ??? Lmao !

Ok, we appear to have a choice of a bottom kill in the near future or a top kill now. BP have a line attached that could deliver mud to the top but have to do some more work on the relief well before it communicates with wild well to deliver mud from the bottom. It will take the same weight of mud to balance the bottom pressure whether it goes in the top or the bottom, so i would guess the same stresses will be put on the well irrespective of where the mud comes from. I suspect I must be missing something. So perhaps someone can explain.

My question is what is the advantage of waiting to use the relief well ? Also, is there any additional risk at the point that the relief well breaks into the wild well that has a bearing on the choice of top or bottom kill?

Two quick questions:

With regard to possible leaks, it's been my impression that part of the process of any drilling operation is to monitor each formation as it is penetrated. If so, I would expect that there would be a good record of any potential leakage routes in the vicinity of the well.

Second, is the reservoir ever resistant to having oil forced back into it? If so how does that affect the pressure needed to inject mud to kill it?

david -- BP (and the MMS) has log data over the enitre hole so they know of all poential leakage reservoirs. Yes...the formation will resist flow beyond just the pressure differential. There's a friction factor at work. Not huge but does exist. A bigger potential problem might be formation damage caused by the high flow rate. "Fines migration" is one possibilty. The high velocity of the oil/NG thru the reservoirs as the well flowed wild can cause very tiny clay particals in the sand to become dislodged and can plug the pore throats between the sand grains. Won't prevent the flow of oil/NG back ino the reservoir...just make it more difficult/slower.


You do good work.


Link is here, from the UK Guardian

BY the way, if you are not familiar with what the Chinese have done to drywall, read about it here:

The drywall problem has caused a huge emergency here for homeowners in southwest Florida, and it's not a laughing matter at all. My son's neighbor just found it in his home, built in 2006 , after having to replace his air conditioning coil three times in the past two years. The Chinese should not be allowed to have any of their products in this country, let alone be depended upon to make a BOP that actually works.

From Yahoo News Headline:

>"Is experimental well cap making disaster worse?"
>"Oil and gas started seeping into the Gulf of Mexico again Sunday night, but this time more slowly, and scientists aren't sure whether the leaks mean the cap that stopped >the flow last week is making things worse.
>"The government's point man on the disaster, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, will decide again later Tuesday whether to continue the test of the experimental cap — >meaning the oil would stay blocked in.
>"He said Monday the amount of oil leaking was so far inconsequential."
>By COLLEEN LONG and MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writers

WABI - (What Blithering Idiots!!) How in the world can reducing the massive flow of oil to a fraction of a trickle "...make the disaster worse" ?!?!?!?!?!

Oh, wait - that's right...they are journalists (sigh...)

Remember - don't turn off your brain while reading the news.



From today's New Orleans Times Picayune:

Resentment washes ashore along with oil in Florida

The only problem with that is the fact that Florida hasn't seen any oily beaches in weeks and probably isn't going to see any for quite some time.

These are, of course, the same beaches that Michelle Obama declared "Oil Free" during her visit on July 12.

Like jkrob said above, in an earlier post, we must remember not to turn off our brains when reading a news story.

How in the world can reducing the massive flow of oil to a fraction of a trickle "...make the disaster worse" ?!?!?!?!?!

Jkrob it can make the disaster worse if it blows the well casing,something BP said as far back as June 15 (See the CNN clip on this link at about 8:30 minutes http://www.georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/06/bp-admits-that-if-it-t... ). Which is exactly what the article you linked to said "Allen initially said his preference was to pipe oil through the cap to tankers on the surface to reduce the slight chance that the buildup of pressure inside the well would cause a new blowout."

This has been discussed frequently on this site as well. The amount of concern varies but the concern is real.

THAT is how it could make it worse, that is why any seeps or leak are concerning people. The concern is real and the reporters to the extent that they report that concern, are correct. !!!!!

perhaps you should take some time to read past posts on The Oil Drum.

First post from a long-time (many years) TOD watcher: field rock-hammerer, not driller (born under a different argot)

Got interested in the 15% methane bubbles now rising from the sea floor.

Has the impact of the sustained advection of heat (as opposed to oil) been considered? – very likely I may have missed a thread - so much to read...

Going downhole from seabed, there are presumably about a thousand feet of hydrate-rich bottom sediment before the hydrate stability curve is crossed. For three months now we’ve had strong flow of hot oil at, say, >>200F, >100C (I’m guessing as I don’t know the exit temperature). This means the casing is in effect a hot vertical heat source injecting heat into the shallow hydrate- and organic-rich sediment.

The heat will have been transported sideways into the mud by moving brines. The speed of convective transfer by moving brine is hard to guess, as it depends on the consolidation/water content of the mud, but there will be a widening cylinder of heated mud around the pipe. The hydrothermal flow will cause a zone of hydrate decomposition around the hot well. Even though the oilflow, and hence heat supply from below, is now stopped in the well, this zone will continue to widen until all the heat that conducted through the casing is taken up,

Simultaneously, at say 15C and 1000ft below seabed, there will be very happy and warm methanogenic archaea making more methane from the organic matter in the muck, CH3COOH → CH4 + CO2. These processes are exothermic – as in a landfill or compost heap.

Thus I would expect some shallow methane generation around a pipe that had been so hot for three months. This would not be in especially large quantities (depending on how much heat has conducted through the casing) and mostly would simply make disseminated bubbles in the mud. Very likely they would simply sit in the sediment they were born in. Eventually (many months to many centuries, depending on depth, unless there is a lot of brine movement in unconsolidated sediment) the whole system will cool and the methane would go to hydrate and all will be back to normal.

However, it is possible in some places enough bubbles would collect and begin upward movement. This would be fairly slow, a bit like raindrops going down a window pane – ease of movement depends on the bubble size and fluid content of the bottom mud, but big (cm) bubbles from shallow (tens of metres) sediment around the pipe might make flow channels and get to surface within three months.

So maybe those bubbles are just burps from ambient mud that's gotten a bit hot?
Apologies if this is two Zimbabwe cents of TOD noise, I'm a hammerer - my rocks aren't mud!

Things are moving fast, but still only on paper.

After a day away from my computer I am glad we are now over-the-hump on reconsidering the top kill (now also called static kill and bullheading).

I note (with relief - since I have been concerned for a time that we were all on the can) Heading Out’s leader namely:

The pressure in the well itself has risen to over 6810 psi and is rising at about 1 psi per hour. This lower pressure than the pressures originally estimated makes it possible to reconsider the top kill option. This is where, by feeding mud into the top of the well through the kill line, while the well is shut-in, the mud fills up the well. (The oil and gas are pushed back into the formation). Then should they be able to fill the well up with this mud, the weight of the full column of it, down the well, would be high enough to balance the pressure of the oil in the formation. At this point, rather than the well being shut in by the cap, it becomes killed by the mud pressure on the flow.

There is no longer any concern about pumping the mud in at any high rate of pressure, since the flow is already stopped. Instead the mud flow and pressure can be set to a slightly higher pressure than currently is in the well, and then slowly increase the flow to fill the well, without bringing the pressure to such a high level as to further compromise the well integrity. The injection would be followed with cement, to seal the well at the top of the underground part. This would later be followed by the well intersection by the relief well, and an injection of cement at the bottom of the well.

Bruce Thompson has a few posts supporting a top kill including upstream here:

Just pump the mud in slowly. Let us consider the ramifications of starting a new 24 hour well integrity test with the shut-in pressure rising at a rate of 1 psi per hour. At the end of the test the pressure would have risen 24 psi. To stay within the agreed boundaries, pump in the mud at 20 psi above the starting pressure (4 psi below the agreed pressure limit) for as much of the 24 hours as necessary.

Given that the diameter of the kill line is about 2", the pressure differential is 20 psi, the weight of the mud is 16 ppg (SG = 1.9) we go to our handy-dandy calculator http://www.pumpcalcs.com/calculators/view/103/ and presto-changeo we can flow 197 gallons per min, or about 5 barrels per minute or 300 barrels per hour or 3000 barrels in 10 hours. I believe the well bore is about 3000 barrels max. So you could kill the well and drop the pressure at the BOP to 2250 psi, the same as the sea water at the mud line in less than half a day.

Anybody think killing the well and relieving the pressure on the BOP before the next technical briefing might be a good thing (excluding Matt Simmons of course, as he'd lose his ass on his BP stock short position and the media who would be left looking totally clueless once again)?

Note that if you are trying to drop the pressure at the BOP from 6800 down to 2200 in ten hours, you would be reducing the pressure at the BOP by 460 psi per hour, or almost 8 psi per min. So the 20 psi overpressure you started with would actually drop below the initial pressure in less than 3 minutes and would drop from there at 8 psi per minute. All you fraidy cats would only have to hold your breath for 3 minutes before you could start breathing again.

Rockman. Upstream, in response to me, wrote

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

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

Thanks for this. As I read through the forum I am amazed at your production rate, and all spot on and thought provoking.

You also later wrote:

Ghung -- a static kill is used many times during the year in the GOM to kill shut in wells. As I mentioned those wells never make the news because they didn't spill oil in the water or kill anyone. It's much simpler than a bottom kill. But that BIG IF again: if the equipment can handle the pressure. I've suspected all along the prime purpose of the "tests' was to determine if the well could handle the bullheading pressures. And to answer another's question: yes...I’ve been hiding in the shadows with respect to the pressure reports we've been getting. I'm not a production engineer but I do know enough to feel we've gotten no where near enough details to make any of the speculations many have offered. Just MHO. I'm as much hoping as assuming that Wright has enough info to make the right choice. I'm also suspicious that he may have come to the conclusion that the bottom kill was going to be much riskier than many have offered. He may feel that although bullheading is far from risk free it could be a safer option than the bottom kill.

Does that mean you are coming around to supporting top kill as the preferred next step?

My comment to Rockman on his gracious non-judgemental response to me is:

So the top kill, as well, presents risks as, due to the rock in the reservoir acting somewhat like a one way valve, a significantly higher pressure is required to flow the oil back into it than exists in the steady state.

So all three things they can now do before the bottom kill present some risk to the well integrity. Leaving as is with a continuing small pressure build up (1 psi per hour); flowing to the GOM or/and later collecting, where although the wellhead pressure will be lower, there are risks associated with water hammer, sand build up, again polluting the GOM and handling safety issues associated with the collection process. On top of these presumably closure must then be repeated as part of the bottom kill with further water hammer risks. Then again, the third alternative, the top kill requires an extra pressure spike to get it going.

Researching this a bit further I came across the following in Wikipedia.

Lubricate and bleed

This is the most time consuming form of well kill. It involves repeatedly pumping in small quantities of kill mud into the well bore and then bleeding off excess pressure. It works on the principle that the heavier kill mud will sink below the lighter well bore fluids and so bleeding off the pressure will remove the latter leaving an increasing quantity of kill mud in the well bore with successive steps.

Now in this specific case we have two BOP’s one above the other where the kill and choke lines (and other ports) of each might be used together to inject mud through the lower old BOP and collect oil/gas that it displaces upwards to and at the new BOP. After a time mud will come out at the top rather than oil/gas. When that happens the system can be closed for a time while mud drops down the bore, then the cycle can be repeated. In that way, because of the two BOP’s, the time involved in this ‘lubricate and bleed’ process should be reduced, and it can be fine tuned as the process proceeds.

Consequently, if this is a practical procedure, mud can be introduced without an upward pressure spike and once beyond the critical point where the wellhead pressure starts dropping the injection rate can be increased and no bleed-off required.

You mention the well seepage concern. Maybe this takes care of itself as, once the mud starts going down the well the pressure behind the seepage drops and limits the flow. Logging mud quantity injected against wellhead pressure might show whether the mud is going down the well or sideways or give some idea of the combination of each, the ratio, as the pressure differential changes. (If made public that data should satisfy the academics and provide the grist for the countless mouthpieces we see everyday for quite some time - LOL).

So I am stll thinking a safe top kill can be accomplished.

Short of trying that, and until the bottom kill is available, I am more inclined to stay with the devil you know (the closed well) rather than attempting a reopening.

Finally I was pleased to see TheOldBear’s comment as follows:

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.)

That is right-on with my thinking on the matter.

I would not devote one minute of good engineering time (or spend good money) on this flow issue.

I visualise years of litigation with arguments about how the $/barrel number came up in the first place and whether it envisaged more than a small amount of leakage (so applying it in this case is cruel and unusual punishment - a trillion lashes) and if after serving subpeonas it transpires it was a number some summer intern picked out of the air I will not be surprised. So after all that it does not really matter what the total oil spill is.

Any legislated number will do.

(Sorry I used the wrong clicky and this came as an answer when it was meant to be a new thread
- Cheers everyone)

Can't we just use water instead of mud? It would definitely be cheaper.


How about liquid foam--something lighter then crude-------thx for the good definition of static kill

Zim: Doesn't sound like noise to me. Seems quite reasonable. Mud can get quite smelly, especially in warm water! Know what I mean?

African Pebble:

This makes sense.

I don't believe any recent organic decomposition has occurred at the DWH site. (I'm sure probably none within thousands of years)

So, I was grasping with the "decomposition" issue.

However, as you state, heat from the operation, may be bringing methane up some from deeper areas.

Kudos to you!

Actually.. it's an ongoing process. It's part of the buildup of the Mississippi fan. Organic matter settles to the bottom with the sediment, microbes munch on it. Layer after layer after layer.

I wouldn't be so sure about there being no recent organic decomposition. There are things that live at that depth. Aside from the fish we occasionally see, there are worms and clams and smaller organisms in the mud that live mostly on the organic matter that filters down from above.

I am not sure about the life below the mudline at this site, but worms, clams, etc. in the mud would have been smothered with a layer of methyl hydrates and tons of kill mud from the top kill attempt. There could very well be decaying organic matter producing bubbles.

Just pointing out that the dark sea bed a mile deep is not as lifeless as it appears... or I should say "was not until this happened".

"there will be very happy and warm methanogenic archaea making more methane from the organic matter in the muck, CH3COOH → CH4 + CO2. These processes are exothermic – as in a landfill or compost heap".
Is this comparable to the Caribu hanging around the hot Alaska pipeline and taking a dump?

"Well, dancer, you're entirely welcome to your opinion, but don't go around thinking it makes a convincing argument all by itself."

Lotus, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Anyone with even a shred of common sense doing even a tiny amount of research on this debacle, would certainly be at the very least shaking their heads in terms of the governments' response to this crisis.

One more case in point regarding the bright minds in our gov't agencies here in Florida:
"In response to reports of "extensive presence of oil mousse and tar balls" by the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center, the Escambia County (FL) Health Department issued a new health advisory yesterday for beach waters affected by the oil spill, from the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier to the Florida/Alabama state line. [1] Due to reports of oil sheen, oil mousse and tar balls all Pensacola Beach beaches are now under a health advisory issued by the Escambia County Health Department. [1] Lanza admitted that the health department did no sampling of sand or water before lifting the health advisory. On the Escambia County Web site for this disaster response, readers are advised not to touch tar balls or oiled debris. From the beginning of this oil spill, residents of the beach have been warned against cleaning their own property due to the hazardous nature of the oil. [2] Two days later the Escambia County (FL) Health Department announced it had rescinded the health advisory issued on June 23rd for beach waters in Escambia County, Florida, that were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and local island authority director, Buck Lee, reopened the beaches despite warnings from federal health officials. "This is a highly dynamic situation varying by tide, current, and wind changes/direction," said health department director Dr. John Lanza in the June 25th statement. [1] Lanza is the Director of the Escambia County Health Department that is charged with protecting the health and safety of county citizens. Lanza stated that he lifted the health advisory early Friday against the advice of officials at the Environmental Protection Agency. He made his decision based on the advice of Buck Lee, Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. Does Lee have a scientific background on which to base such a recommendation? Lee said he made his recommendation based on a visual inspection. He dismissed any notion that the water is unsafe and that he couldn't wait three days for the results of testing to decide to close or open the beach to swimming. Surely both Lee and Lanza are aware that on Friday morning, two days after oil washed ashore, massive sheets of oil remained buried in the sand. [2]"

Sure, use a visual instead of taking water samples to deduce safety of beaches. I feel real safe now.

Our Beach Manager, a man with a high school education and an ADEM certificate smells and looks at it. I grant it is not much, but the timeliness of such a test actually makes it a great companion to all the world class sampling going on. Data is not the problem now IMHO, it is the presentation and evaluation of that data that is now the bottleneck.
I have been working with ADEM (AL dept of Enviro Mgt) and ADPH (Al Dept of Pubic Health) and those guys might be good old boys, but most of them are freaking geniuses. They live here and they care. I was actually quite surprised. I can work with these folks, they call me back. They have MD's, PhD's, and JD's. They have regular folks at the front desk, but I get direct lines. I would also trade both of those organizations for the equivalent Florida organizations any day and twice on Sunday. For the budget and brainpower if for no other reason. Call these guys and gals and talk to them before you condemn them with one broad brush.
Original link provided on PNJ story about FDEP press release.


I would also trade both of those organizations for the equivalent Florida organizations any day and twice on Sunday. For the budget and brainpower if for no other reason. Call these guys and gals and talk to them before you condemn them with one broad brush.

Looks like we are in total agreement on that one. Florida is a scam state , no one living here will argue that. The gov't agencies here are a source of much of the problems from simple things like getting a permit for a fence, to charging new people to the state $450 for a license plate. With your reply, you have strengthened my original point, which is not that I believe in an impending tsunami, but that the Florida Dept. of Environmental protection is hardly a reliable source of information on scientific information in these critical times.

OK. Since I am an artist,and not an oilman, I am officially off this site to put oils to some good use.

Different views from ROV HOS Maxx 1 have been showing two different areas of hydrate buildup, indicating multiple areas of leakage from the stack.

Now 3, maybe 4, and the leak rate from the original hydrate buildup zone has very visibly increased since yesterday. Is it safe to call this something close to a "stream" now?

Screen captures of link locations:



geek - The centralizers won't be an issue this time around. A very different cmt process and different goal. Much of what follows is conjecture but I suspect it will happen to some degree. Once the well is dead they'll replace the BOP (if they can actually remove it) with one that will work. Then they fish out that broken drill pipe. Then go to bottom and pump a lot of cmt up the outside of the bottom of the csg. And then they may run various logs to determine if there's any flow possibility in the well bore annulus. Even if they think this annulus is dead I suspect they'll perforate the csg and pump cmt into the annulus. In addition to setting metal and cmt plugs inside the csg as per MMS regs they may test the shoes on all the liners to make sure they still hold. This well won't ever be re-entered. It will probably be the most permanently plugged well in the history of the oil patch. LOL.

The mud will hold the formation back as long as the MW isn't reduced. That's why the cmt and any spacers used before cmtg will be at least as heavy as the kill pill. I'm pretty sure the mud will be left in the csg. Its cost is very insignificant. As far as old wells leaking the feds might do a survey for public consumption if nothing else.

I pictured a 2 mile long cement plug with a 100ft steel corkscrew on top - then maybe a battleship full of cement and maybe a few exec's wearing cement shoes. Even then there will be a measurable population of conspiracy nuts who believe BP will secretly slip back and produce the well.

As an occasional conspiracy nut, I'd say I'd rather them produce the well than build pressure that causes a big leak from the sea floor. How certain can we be that they would block the well to a point below any leaks? Cheapskates aren't always good thinkers. Production has it's risks, but...

BP is a disaster, but that disaster is relative.

P.S. BP would never pay for 2 miles of expensive cement, or a 100ft steel corkscrew. They'd shovel mud in it and place a chinese made plastic cork on top. Saves $$$ and won't blow until BP is long gone. Yes, I'm joking (kinda).

Rockman- Are you saying that once the pressure has been balanced with mud of the required density it would safe to remove the old BOP and try to replace it without a cement plug in place at either the top or bottom? Or are you talking about replacing the BOP after the well has been is sealed at the bottom from the RW?

Nubs -- Picture it for a moment: the reservoir was wide open to the drill floor when they drilled it. And it didn't flow because they had a 14 ppg mud holding back a 12.6 ppg reservoir. Same thing when they remove the BOP. Not completely risk free but if they enter the WW with drill pipe to set the various plugs it would be illegal for them to do so without a fully certified BOP on the well. And the well can only be plugged and abandoned as per reg with drill pipe in the hole.

And based upon some of today's testimonies BP may find how just how expensive breaking that rule can be.

Yes, I got the picture, but it sounds like a balancing act with no safety net. What if they run into trouble getting a new BOP in place?

True Nubs. Sometimes your safest option isn't as safe as you would like. But that's your only choice. But the riskiest part of the op will be when they are moving the drill pipe in and out of the hole. If you're not careful you can accidently lighten the head enough and "swab the well in": make it flow even if you're MW is high enough. That's why it's critical to have a functional BOP while they're doing the P&A. Already have 11 dead hands...don't need anymore.


I think we can all agree there's nothing funnier than when the media goes on TV and tries to explain how the cap/recovery efforts are working...

And yet it makes me sad and angry! ;>[]

Chance of Tropical depression could form near Puerto Rico up to 60% - NHC

That thing is going to be a problem IMO. It may be the reason for the conference delay.

BP: Running the odds during the planning stages

A double item on BP's plans for the Macondo well was just posted at Energy Bulletin.
The first part offers various quotes from the Initial Exploration Plan (Feb. 2009).
The second part is a review of Shell's July 9th presentation on deep-water drilling, during which two Shell officials contrast the difference between Shell's design & practices vs those on the Macondo well.


As far as Allen briefing from the Justice Department, that is exactly the response that I would have anticipated yesterday.....its a broad "hint." :)

Bottom Kill vs. Top Kill , IMHO

If the formation pressure is high and the upper casing is leaking the top kill will not work. The higher pressure from pumping kill mud down will just force it out well bore at the upper weak spot. How far is upper? Into the methane hydrate zone? Hopefully not.

If the bottom formation pressure is low and upper casing is sound the top kill might work. Introducing kill mud from the bottom of well and not at BOP, puts less pressure on BOPs and upper well bore, both of which might have some leaks now. It is easier to displace O/G out choke line in bottom kill method, than pushing it back into pay zone formation sandstone rock in the top kill method.

The good comments are coming so fast on TOD, plus the hearings, it is hard to keep up and learn about all this stuff. Please set me straight on my thinking of well killing methods.

What is the best way to get current Thad Allen and Kent Wells briefings on the internet? They seem to come thru many hours after given, and I have to listen to goofy TV explanations of what was said.

What is the best way to get current Thad Allen and Kent Wells briefings on the internet? They seem to come thru many hours after given, and I have to listen to goofy TV explanations of what was said.

CNN usually carries Thad Allen live on their website. Nobody seems to carry Kent Wells live unless you phone in to the conference number. Someone normally provides a real time transcript on #theoildrum IRC channel.

I don't want to be an alarmist or nothin'...but

I just saw pretty unambigous indication of oil leaking from floor on Boa 2. It looked like black blobby strings coming off the floor and going up. Did not look like so many silt videos that are continuously posted. Looked like what 'rovman' was describing yesterday or the day before.

One thing that I wondered when they capped the well was whether the build up of pressure could force oil/gas through an alternate leak at a much higher rate. Maybe make the leak bigger.

In theory, this should reduce if they pump the well or relieve pressure.

If they just cap it ABOVE any leaks...

a low leak is a real problem...

Check out Skandi ROV 2

Showing sea floor survey.
Pretty neat...

Darn, show is over already. Took a screen shot.

The green on the top, is the seafloor (Upside down)

I would have thought in a more or less incompressible situation that even a few psi of pressure is a considerable extra pressure that would cause mud to flow back down the well. inch wise at first maybe but then progressively faster for the same top pressure.

What have they got to risk by trying this or are they still producing the well via the kill line?

by knowing the flow rate into the well and the top pressure they should know if the well is taking the mud downwards or if it is being lost into the formation. if it going into the formation the flow will slow as the mud rise upwards rather than goes down the pipe to increase the flow down for the same top pressure. Yes?

The problem, as described upthread by Rockman is that it is incompressible and oil/gas has to be forced INTO the reservoir in a closed system with the introduction of mud. Reservoir being a porrous formation does not respond like an ideal infinite pressure source. The bottom line is if you want reasonable speed you need to use significant pressures.

So, in the case of a bottom kill will they bleed off some oil from the top of the well as they inject mud at the bottom to allow space for the mud to form a column?


They should wait for the mud column to form and start coming up from the WW (there is a pressure differential between the WW and RW due to different heights). The WW should than close and moderate backpressure - 3-4 ksi should balance out the RW/WW pressure differential.

Thanks, got it.

I don't see any downside to it either. The sooner they remove the pressure from the areas of concern the better IMO. Especially with a hurricane possibly coming in.

Edit: The well has been flowing perhaps 60,000 bopd plus the gas out of it for quite some time. I don't see why it would be too difficult to gradually push about 1,200 barrels of it back into the formation. I don't follow Dimi's reasoning on that one.

"I don't see any downside to it either. "

I do. There is a risk that the casing could rupture and cause oil leaks from the seabed, like happened with Ixtoc. There is a risk that the RW could take 7 months, like happened with Ixtoc.

If those events took place, we would not be able to capture the leaking oil coming out of the seabed. It would leak for 7 months.

That risk is not present if we stick with the original plan of killing via the RW. Even if it fails, we still have the back-up collection in place to capture the oil for 7 months.

That is the risk. You can dismiss it, rationalize it, mock it, whatever. It is still there. Just look at Ixtoc. It already happened once.

The conservative approach is to side-step that risk and focus on the main objective, killing the WW via RW. If another riskier approach is taken, there should be some benefit gained for taking the extra risk. What is that benefit here in terms of the ultimate goal. It is easy to see many benefits for BP doing it this way, worth billions of dollars. What benefit is there to the public in taking that risk when the RW is only a week away. What do we get for taking it?

So, if you are all concerned about the casing rupturing any minute, you are against removing the pressure coming up from the well so that there is no longer any pressure on the casing that you are so worried about?

I would rather they go back to flowing and capturing to reduce the pressure until the RW can do a bottom kill. IMHO any top kill effort is going to put additional stress on the unknown condition of casing an BOP.

Skandi 2 was showing clear evidence of black blobs and wisps coming of the floor. Again looks very different than the silt videos. From time to time looked very energetic, wtih good flow.

Are we looking for a full bore floor eruption to cut the pressure, or what?

Or perhaps a full coating of oil ice on the quick-disconnect?

I see some sea snot waving gently in the current. It is sitting on the ground doing a sonar survey. It casts a dark shadow on the ground when it floats pas the light.

You'll go blind squinting at that all day. If the sea floor erupts you won't have to squint to see it.

I don't squint at it "all day".

What I saw wasn't "sea snot", which apparently the only thing you ever see. It was clear indication of black blobs and long wisps escaping the surface, creating significant flow. The sea floor was very still during this event with no silting action.

Betcha dollars to doughnuts there was an ROV nearby....

Olympic Challenger UHD 30
Been sitting above the same scene.

If Admiral Allen says not to worry about the wisps coming from the seafloor, check out African Pebbler's explanation above.

Here's a wild theory to explain the low shut-in pressure:

The gasoil is flowing up an annulus, u-tubing at the wellhead, down the inmost annulus, and u-tubing again to go up the drillpipe whose open end is 3,000' down.

The second u-tube flow acts like a centrifugal separator. The heaviest oil fraction gets thrown towards the outside of the U, splatters against the walls of the production liner, and creeps down the walls to form a head of extra-heavy oil that counters reservoir pressure.

The well head would not be cold in that case.

Good point. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Wait... what if liquid methane is evaporating at the lower wellhead pressure? Couldn't evaporative cooling explain the observed low temp?

Hang on, Thought #3: There is no flow at the moment. The heavy oil buildup occurred during the time the leak was flowing, so when they shut it off the column of heavy oil had already formed.

How about the uncontrolled flow of oil caused the pressure at the well base to drop at a faster rate than the reservoir could fill in behind it?

Now the slow pressure increase is from oil moving into the well from more remote areas of the deposit bringing the pressure at the well base back up to average for the deposit.

I could be totally wrong about this, but it's what it sounds like to me.

Wouldn't that much pressure differential have reduced the flow of oil when the well was open? It would have had a downward output curve from the point of blowout. I don't recall any news reports of that type, but maybe I missed them.

Why can't something similar to the 'Drain King' (a hose with an expandable bladder) be engineered to seal the well and then inject mud/cement?

See: http://tinyurl.com/2c3e577

I'd think it would have worked a few days after she blew.
(If fed below the fragile network near the surface, the all pressure would be down, no?)

Anomalies that marine board panel is looking into....
linked from hearings update:



Date Time (Hours) Anomaly
19-Apr 1330-1730
Had to pressure up on the cement shoe valves nine times to convert from “filling the
casing” to act as a check valve, per BP morning report
19-Apr 1730-1930 Low pump pressures. Return flow after float shear out appeared to be high
20-Apr 0300-0400
Running string for the 9-7/8 X 7 inch casing pulled wet after the seal assembly test was
completed. Running string pulled three stands wet and so they slugged the wellbore with a
30 bbls - 16.3 ppg pill
20-Apr 1200
15 bbl gain in the trip tank after the casing test pressure was released, this seem a little
large for pressure bleed back for fluid compression and would expect 5 bbl gain.
20-Apr 1415-1730
Hard to track fluid volumes in the wellbore when you are pumping mud to boat (if from pits)
and also pump saltwater into the hole (from sea chest))
20-Apr 1556-1653 High u-tube pressure on DP of 2324 psi. Calculated u-tube should be 1628 psi.
20-Apr 1600-1615
Flow out exceeds flow in indicating the well is possibly flowing (per electronic data). Note
the electronic data shows increased gas units during this time period.
20-Apr 1654-1658
High bleed back volume. Suspect the Annular Preventer is leaking at this point. Discovery
Wells data shows mud being transferred into the trip tank from the mud pits and 50 barrels
of mud coming out of the trip tank. Both Kaluza and Lambert statements confirm the rise
was topped up at this time. Lambert statement also indicates that the Annular was leaking.
BP Trainee WSL (Lambert) on floor. First time well temporarily underbalance when bled to
251 on the DP. First time well temporarily underbalance when bled to 251 on the DP.
20-Apr 1658 Pressure building on drill pipe.
20-Apr 1705-1725
Performed first negative test down the workstring, had 1250 psi on the work sting. Some
employees recalled a disagreement between Transocean and BP on the rig floor about the
negative test and pressure on the work string.
20-Apr 1727-1752 An additional 15 bbls of fluid bled from DP.
20-Apr 1752-1840
Fluid bled from kill line and continues to flow. Opened kill line to Halliburton cement unit,
had 700 psi and bled 3 to 15 bbls. Flow did not stop and spurting could be indication of kill
line plugging. Flow shut in at cement unit at approximately 1759.
20-Apr 1810-2010
Took about two hours for the company man to confirm a good second negative test due to
1400 psi on the cement pump / displacement string.
20-Apr 1845-1912
DP pressure builds to 1400 psi Kaluza and Vidrine arrive at rig floor together at approx.
1910. Discussion again about DP pressure anomaly. Apparently explained by TO
personnel as 'bladder effect' or 'annular compression'.
20-Apr 1912-1948 DP pressure stable at 1400 psi and no flow from kill line.
20-Apr 2035-2105 Electronic data shows pit gain of approx. 40 bbls.
20-Apr 2030-2045 Flow out exceeds flow in indicating the well is possibly flowing (per electronic data).
20-Apr 2100-2110 Flow out exceeds flow in indicating the well is possibly flowing (per electronic data).
20-Apr 2108-2114
Pressure on drill pipe when shut down and flow from well. DP pressure increased from
1000 psi to 1250 psi during sheen test.
20-Apr 2131
Pumping stopped. Problem observed by rig floor and pumping is stopped. Possibly report
from mud pit room that mud returning and being sent overboard. Had pumped 265 bbls
since sheen test.
20-Apr 2131-2136 Time taken to get well shut in.

During the past two months, Simmons' idea of a nonprofit research institute evolved into a corporate structure with a focus on deepwater wind-power turbines that generate electricity that converts seawater into ammonia and water.

Ammonia can replace gasoline in automobiles with a change of gas tanks.

Good grief. More at http://freepressonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=52&SubSectionID=78&Article...

[Edit] Short BP stock, financial interest in alt energy. Could this apparent nuttiness, including trying to panic people in Florida into evacuating, be just a financial ploy? If so this guy's motives need to be exposed broadly.

Ammonia can replace gasoline in automobiles with a change of gas tanks.

Hot dang, I'm getting the cats a new, bigger litterbox!

And you could probably enhance the ammonia output substantially by adjusting their diet! ;-)

Um, we may be probing the limits of my green commitment here. Lemme think a minute . . .

Background on the concept just FWIW...

Yes, I have connected those dots. People forget that his background is financial. If he is talking his book it is reprehensible.

Is anhydrous ammonia as a motor fuel a subject that has been kicked around on TOD before this present mess took center stage? The concept has merit. I don't know about the rest of it as referenced in Simmons scheme above.

BP (BP/ LN) five leaks around wellhead detected, not considered consequential - US govt.

20:52 20-07-2010
BP (BP/ LN) extending Gulf well test another 24hrs - US govt.

20:48 20-07-2010

Well, at least I am not crazy or blind.

I would think leaks "around the wellhead" which has a strong possibility of being damaged would be considered "consequential".

But apparently the entire BP/Government team is into large stakes gambling, so the new normal is "inconsequential".

It could evolve into being consequential. For now it's inconsequential compared to what would be spewing into Gulf, and they aren't ready to contain. And there's that tropical wave out there as well.

It sure could get worse, through continuation of allowing high pressure in the wellhead.

Hey, I have an idea - lets make the pressure higher!

Lets see what happens!

It's going to be a really cool experiment - BP is betting a pizza that it holds.

It's clear that they're playing the perceived odds and playing against time, known consequences vs. the chance of somewhat unknown consequences. They must believe that the chance of catastrophic blowout at the bottom is low. At least for now.

Is there a possibility that the growing number of leaks at the wellhead could be an indicator of damage caused by sand erosion etc. when the well was blown open and flowing? Could it be a possible sign of damage to the casing further down? (Pardon my terminology if its wrong.)

You need to get down to Houston, stand outside the gate to the BP office and insist they let you in, and that all the experts there must listen to you, as they are all morons preparing to intentionally destroy the well. If they do not listen, chain yourself to the gates. Then get hold of the press and all the congressman and plead your case. It is your duty to do all you can to make sure you can enlighten all the dunderheads. Go my son, time is of the essence.:) or you can just chill for a couple days and see how this plays out.

There is long history of risk taking culture at BP. That's what they do and that is what they are good at - playing the odds, as well as regulatory capture.

Case in point - when the government raised objections to the planned "well integrity tests", BP has allayed their concerns, in part, by promising to raise the pressure "in stages", holding for 6 hours at each intermediate pressure and consult the government whether to proceed further. There was likely an added experimental benefit to this approach, as well. What really happened, however, is that BP simply turned off the choke and kill lines and the pressure shot up to 90% of current in matter of an hour or less. Intentionally (I think) or through ignorance of their own test capabilities, BP has completely changed the whole test procedure, making the test more dangerous, less controllable and yield less engineering data.

The culture of risk taking is alive and well at BP and their considerable talents at regulatory capture are richly in evidence with the hapless government team headed by a not very savvy admiral, who obviously has an ear to the political advisors first.

So the approach that got us to the largest man made spill in history is being used again at more and more risky attempts to stop it.

I believe BP said they would close the choke off one turn at a time over a couple hour period . After it was shut they would watch the pressures and review pressure and all other data with the team every 6 hours to determine the path forward. Seems like they are following that.They also state they have multiple models and that so far the well is fitting their model of a depleted reservoir and each they day appear to be getting more confident that they have well integrity. BP is not calling the shots here. They have well control experts, government and university experts and a conservative CG, DOE head and administration. In addition they are certainly gun shy about appearing to be risk takers as you try to paint them as being. I hope they are not stuck in some stubborn predetermined procedure mode. The last thing we need is pigheadness in a situation where information flow may require flexible planning.

I hope they are not stuck in some stubborn predetermined procedure mode. The last thing we need is pigheadness in a situation where information flow may require flexible planning.


Personally I wonder what would have happened if they had hit the 9000 PSI they were forecasting. The equipment seems to have a hard time dealing with just over 6800 PSi.

Do you really think that the true "normal" should have been NO leaks? Given the pressure involved, I personally am really surprised that there are so few leaks and so little leakage! I think "inconsequential" describes the situation quite well.

Given that pressure blew the well out in the first place, I'm a little worried that there's not more pressure in the pipe.

Inconsequential it may be. As long as there's not another leak.

Newby here, really enjoy the tech talk and I have learned a great deal about the petroleum industry, everyone’s insight is greatly appreciated!

My question is how we have arrived at the recent circumstance where BP has capped the well and stopped (as best we know) the leaking of massive amounts of oil into the GOM. It seems that just a few weeks ago they were trying to siphon off the oil and capturing some of it while we awaited the drilling of the RW and a bottom kill attempt. All hope was on this effort.

Suddenly (or so it seemed to me), BP shows up with this new “device” with an adapter, a new BOP and the ancillary equipment, they saw off the riser and drop it on the old BOP. They close the valves and here we are with the oil leak stopped. Now they probably won’t open it up unless a clear well blowout is discovered or someone like Obama makes them do it, in writing and publicly. Politically this is not likely to happen.

Clearly BP has been working all this time on this technical solution, because a LOT of engineering, money and time went into this effort. Were we aware of all this effort? Assuming this all works, did I miss something or did BP just make everyone in the government and doomsayers look like fools?


BP does not want to kill the well, when they could collect all the oil and make millions of dollars to cover their expenses. It is clear to me that they could have killed the well long ago if they wanted to do it.

Petro engineering background? Or suffering from the Dunning–Kruger effect?

ss -- I'm not sure if this is correct but I read a while back that Wright has said they've been building this latest cap from very early on and that's how long it took them. Perhaps someone can link to his statement if he did actually say that.

For those interested, Dr. Jeff Masters from wxunderground doing a live call in show right now, concerning the strong wave expected to be a depression/tropical storm in the coming days..and the effects of it on the oil in the gulf.
Today's show will be about 45 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.html. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

ok thanks guys i get it now about the oil flow into the porous rock reservoir requiring considerable pressure.

Brainwave 2 is that they dont apply a flow out thru the well but rather allow steel ball bearings to sink in the oil while they allow an equal volume of oil to travel upwards out of the well. if they can add smaller ball bearings first and progressively bigger ones before the larger ones reach the end of the well the pressure will be lower and they can pump mud at the same pressure they have now to kill the well. Is that so crazy????

What about thermal expansion of the casing? We had a well flowing for almost 90 days of warm oil. Now we have have the well shut in. While the bottom of the pipe is not seeing much of a temperature change, the top of the pipe should be going back to the temperature of the surrounding rock . . . and as a result it is cooling down.

Some back of the envelope calcs: If we have a coefficient of thermal expansion of 12 E-06 per deg C (Reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coefficient_of_thermal_expansion ) and 13000 feet of pipe that sees a 50 deg C temperature swing, we would get . . . (insert sound of old-timey hand-cranked calculator here) 7.8 feet of thermal expansion.

Holy moly . . . how do the folks in the oil patch DEAL with that kind of expansion? ? ? What is it that gives? What is the weakest part of the casing string?

BP (BP/ LN) and Apache (APA) reach USD 7bln asset deal for assets in N. American and Egypt

16:08 20-07-2010

BPs gotta pay $4300 per gallon of oil spilled, I read. Guess they have to raise cash.

I wonder how many of those gallons they hid to reduce their penalty payment...