BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Time is Not Our Friend - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6762.

Update, 4:00 pm, EDT: Chuck Watson has a storm update, added to the end of this post.

There is a certain frustration in hearing some of the officials who act as spokesmen for the management team handling the spill from the Deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico. Their evaluation of the situation is bound around a full collection and compilation of the existing evidence, a comprehensive and contemplative understanding through a scientific explanation of the causes of whatever anomalies and other behavior that is not following the model anticipated, and subsequently then working out the best steps forward and determining the potential benefits relative to alternative approaches.

Such an attitude works well in a scientific laboratory, where whether the results are available tomorrow or next week only really matters if there is another lab in the world that is working closely along the same lines as you are. (And if the work is relatively topical that is often the case). Unfortunately this relatively leisurely approach to making progress is not nearly as compatible with a situation where a high-pressure piece of equipment is showing signs of leakage, and where there is the possibility that, within the week, equipment is going to have to be withdrawn from the site because of the imminence of a hurricane.

The imposition of an ultimately superior layer or more (depending on how much the White House is actually involved in decision making) of evaluation and decision making can do little beyond stretching the time over which decisions are made, eating up the time that is available for action, before the current gentle weather window closes. Now it may be that the current tropical depression will not solidify into a problem (I’ll let wiser heads in those topics answer that question), but even if this one does not, there will come a time when one will, and the working interval is shrinking.

Some of the worries about seeps in the vicinity have now been put to rest, in his brief yesterday Admiral Allen noted:

The first one was to see pitch about three nautical miles (Ed. Note amended to kilometers) from the wellhead itself. We do not believe that is associated with this particular well integrity test or the Macando well.

Similarly the bubbling from the sediments around the well have not been seen as something to worry about, although the material ejected is being tested. (It proves very difficult to get a meaningful picture of this). There is, however, one leak that is due to the well, and that is in the equipment that is sitting on the well itself.

Let me just tell you right away, because this happened overnight, as you know, we had a – a connector piece of equipment that we established in to allow us to put the capping stack on. These are the three rams that are associated with the capping stack. This is a schematic of those three rams. The leakage is occurring in a flange just located right about here, and there is hydrate formation appearing on this side of the capping stack as we move forward.

We do not know, but we do not believe this is consequential at this time, nor is – doesn't appear that the hydrate formation is inhibiting any operation of the capping stack. This is something we will continue to monitor as we move forward.

He noted that

it is the collective opinion of the folks that are talking about this that the – the small seepages we are finding right now do not present, at least at this point, any indication that there is a threat to the wellbore. . . . . . . There is a – there's actually a metal gasket in the flange, rather than a rubber (one). It's actually a metal – metal seal in there. And that appears to be the source of (the leak). But we don't know if it's consequential to the operations of it. It's not a huge leak, but it is causing the formation of hydrates.

(Ed note I corrected some transcription errors). The lack of concern seems to focus on the possible stratification of the fluid in the wellbore, and the concentration of any sand, which could cause problems if rapidly released.

Now that in itself is somewhat revealing, since one of the things that I have discussed in the past is the concentration of sand in the fluid flow, and that, when the fluid gets to a pressure differential of 2,500 psi or more that sand will erode metal and anything else in its way, as it flows out. With the sensible admission of the presence of that sand, what BP intend, apparently and if necessary, is to bleed the pressure down sufficiently slowly that the current segregation within the well, with the lighter gas-related hydrocarbons rising to the top, can be maintained until the pressure differential is low enough that the sand would no longer cause much erosion if caught up in the fluid. (Whether this would need to take the “several days” that Admiral Allen suggests is, perhaps, debatable.

There are a couple of problems with that. The first is that the sand is not in a single size range, but likely goes all the way down to sub-micron in size. The smaller particles don’t settle out that easily and thus are likely to be present to some concentration in the fluid throughout the well. Which raises the second problem which is that particles do cause erosion if they are moving over a surface at relatively high speed (caused by the pressure differential). In a much earlier post I discussed this and the effects that it might cause.

In my other life, we have dealt with the problems of having abrasive particles get into high pressure fittings, and the leaks that result. Leaks tend not to fix themselves, and get bigger over time. Expecting that they might not change over the next month, while the odd hurricane might pass by, and the relief well completion gets postponed, is not a reassuring path to take.

In Kent Wells' review on Tuesday he was, similarly to Admiral Allen, complacent about the leaks.

And then in terms of the couple of gas leaks that you probably observed on the BLP and capping stack. Those are just coming from places where we have what we call (metal) seals. Those are small leaks that are as a result of gas. Those connections have been tested to very high pressures in the case of the capping stack we actually tested it to 15,000 PSI with water and with no leaks, and it’s just when we – we probably got a gas bubble that’s formed up there and that’s why we have that very slow leak. It’s nothing that we’re concerned about.

At those pressures and temperatures, the gas is still liquid and still capable of carrying sand with it.

The potential for injecting mud to kill the well, which is getting more of a hearing at the moment, could be the way forward. Once mud in any significant volume is introduced into the well, through existing lines initially designed just to do this very thing, then the pressure at the top of the well will decline. This lowers the differential pressure across any leaks, lowering the flow and extending the time period before they may fail.

But, in regard to doing this “top kill”, Admiral Allen noted

We now have a closed system, so there's back pressure. And so the question is, is there enough back pressure there where you could do basically more of a static rather than a dynamic top kill, where you could put mud in. That might suppress the hydrocarbons.

There's been some discussion about whether or not that might be possible. We're looking for BP to give us an idea of whether or not that it's possible, how they would do it. And we'll react to that when we receive it.

And BP themselves does not have a sense of urgency about moving forward with the process. From Kent Wells:

And then in terms of the static kill – and once again, I want to reinforce, no decisions have been made yet on proceeding forward with that. But we are continuing with preparation and planning. We continue to get equipment lined out, what we would want to do, making sure that we will have the right equipment out there to do it, writing procedures, starting to get procedures approved.

At the same time, we’re doing testes (sic) with scientists, challenging the way we’re thinking about this, what we’re doing, so we’ve got parallel paths going on that’s leading towards somewhere ideally in the next day or two that we’d be in position through unified command to make a decision whether we’d go forward with that.

He may take a couple of days to make an animation showing how it will work. Essentially however it involves reversing the flow down one of the kill lines (originally set up to allow mud flow into the well) which are now being used to allow oil to flow out of the well and up to a service vessel. From Kent Wells:

Now, one of the things we do need to do is we need to make some changes on the Q4000 to change it from its ability to contain oil and turn it back around into the pumping facility. But that does not take us very long to make that change and of course we’ll always have the ability to change back if at some point we need to do that.

It will, likely, take much longer for management to decide whether or not it should proceed. And the weather window continues to shrink.

Oh, and from the Admiral’s brief, in case you missed it.

The Discoverer Enterprise is no longer on station.

Chuck Watson's update, 4:00 pm, EDT:

The tropical system just off the northern coast of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic) continues to meander west north west. It is still not well organized, and has not intensified as was forecast previously. In fact, the runs from this afternoon's model barely bring it up to 50 mph or so before Florida landfall.

Forecasts still have it crossing Florida, then brushing the eastern end of Gulf of Mexico production (including the Deepwater Horizon response area) as a minimal tropical storm. While that would be disruptive to cleanup operations, and damaging to protective barriers, a direct hit could ultimately be quite helpful to the cleanup. Vertical mixing offshore would disperse the oil, and if it is a wet system, rain to flush out the wetlands. In addition, the core computer models keep the system just to the east of the most oiled areas - that means strong offshore winds (recall that winds are counter-clockwise around a tropical system in the northern hemisphere), and minimal storm surge, also a "plus" for dealing with the oil.

As for normal operations, if there is fear of development over the Gulf this weekend, companies might shut in some wells and rigs/platforms evacuated as the system passes, causing a brief production hit. No long term impact is expected. That said, keep in mind that the storm is four days out from the area of interest, and although models are tightly grouped at the moment, position errors are large (more like 400 nautical miles for a weak system) and intensity estimates poor this far out (especially after crossing Florida).

Welcome--modified 21 JUL 2010

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I realise that when the balls rest at the bottom that the pressure at the top will be the same. However what i was thinking of is as the oil flows up the pipe as the small balls travel down then the small balls are not falling to the bottom at a very fast rate at all. But they are moving down the pipe and although the oil flows around them they are acting like a series of heavy pistons that are moving down the pipe where the oil has to travel around the pistons. So before this by now super heavy piston reaches the bottom of the well you begin pumping mud as you close the oil flow moving up the pipe. The pressure without mud would collapse as the steel moves down the pipe and you can pump mud without extra pressure. Does this make me less crazy?

As a variation why not send a whole lot of steel powder down the well in the form of large balls which are glued together in an oil soluable cement like a light wax? While of course allowing oil to flow out of the well head as you add the wax balls. That could be a winner because once the balls reach the bottom they will be crushed flat by the balls from above and there is no way the oil can travel upwards thru them. I want my patent!!

Variation 3. Just send lead balls down. A mile of lead will be crushed totally flat up to the top 50 metres or so. Or just put the steel powder in thin lead bags for the economy version!

One thing I always try to remember is that these rockheads have access to all the basic materials they want, industrial diamonds, tungsten slurry, and Papa John's Pizza. They experiment all the time with new techniques and methods, in the never ending quest to get more for less. All these experiments folks are coming up with may sound great on paper, but this well is too critical to be a trial and error testbed for unproven technology. I would think such actions in the extreme might even be criminal. Yes, this is new to everyone, but I would think abandonment of best available existing drilling and exploration technologies is something not be taken likely and avoided if at all possible. As for things flowing slow, did you know it might take a particular electron months to flow down a mile of wire. Traveling at near the speed of light? Google 'drift velocity.'

I agree about not making this well a test ground for half-baked unproven technology. However, thought experiments are excellent for exploring our understanding of the laws of physics.

Somebody - was it Rockman? - said that a column of steel balls in a vertical tube, with water between the balls, would have the same water pressure at the bottom as a similar tube with only water to the same height. Good, but the weight of the steel must be borne by something, and the lowest layer of balls will exert a force on their foundation corresponding to the weight of the balls minus the buoyancy of the balls in the water. I guess the foundation would be the rock matrix in whose pores the oil resides, so the force would be transferred to the underlying formations through this formation, without necessarily increasing the oil pressure. But if the force bends the rock and shrinks the pores, that could transfer some of the weight to the fluids in the pores! (But if the total pore volume is large, the increase in pressure must be very slight.)

The idea of balls in motion down the oil column is interesting, as I have not thought much about it before and I am not sure I am capable of hitting the right mental model to predict how the forces will act.

If the balls are offering a resistance to the oil flowing past them as the balls sink, then the balls must also be transferring some force to the oil. If the oil had zero viscosity, this would not be possible, but given a non-zero viscosity the weight of the balls must be transferred to the walls and bottom of the well somehow. Notice that if the balls are falling at a constant speed, the gravity and the viscous resistance in the oil must balance. Without balanced forces, the balls would have to accelerate in agreement with Newton's second law F=ma.

With increasingly small balls, the resistance to flow becomes so big that the balls increasingly become suspended in the oil, and the oil-balls slurry produces a bottom pressure equal to the slurry density. But the mechanism ought to be the same for larger balls, as long as the balls have not yet reached the bottom.

An interesting twist: Imagine a steel ball of slightly less diameter than the internal diameter of the well, sinking through an otherwise static oil column in the well. Imagine the ball being centered in the well cross section, so that the oil being displaced by the sinking ball must flow equally past all sides around the ball. This oil will encounter viscous resistance against the well walls. Since reaction equals action, the well walls must be exerting a downward force on the oil, and that should increase the pressure at the bottom of the well. Yet I feel this is somehow not right, so how do we explain that? Could the total downward force against the bottom be larger while the ball is sinking than later when the ball comes to rest?

What you have described is a fluidized bed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluidized_bed

The original suggestion was actually using marbles, but there was also consideration given to using steel balls or even depleted uranium ones.

The concept went through some iterations until we came to the modeling of the well when filled with 13,000 feet of marbles. The independently run calculation was that the marbles would create enough flow reistance that, when they came to a standstill and no longer acted as a fluidized bed, they would so reduce the Minimum Net Flow Area and increase the friction losses that even with 12,000 psi @ 18,000 ft and 2,250 psi @ 5,000 feet, the dynamic pressure drop would be such that the 60,000 bpd flow would be reduced to 500 bpd, even if the BOP was wide open.

While that would not shut in the well, it would reduce the flow so much that you'd have 120 days to think about the problem with a total spill equal to one day without the marbles. That would give Adm Allen. Sec Chu & POTUS four months to attempt to rectify their profound ignorance of offshore engineering.

Cacadril's post, one above Bruce's (boldface mine):

An interesting twist: Imagine a steel ball of slightly less diameter than the internal diameter of the well, sinking through an otherwise static oil column in the well. Imagine the ball being centered in the well cross section, so that the oil being displaced by the sinking ball must flow equally past all sides around the ball. This oil will encounter viscous resistance against the well walls. Since reaction equals action, the well walls must be exerting a downward force on the oil, and that should increase the pressure at the bottom of the well. Yet I feel this is somehow not right, so how do we explain that? Could the total downward force against the bottom be larger while the ball is sinking than later when the ball comes to rest?

I think the total downward force should be the same. However, while the balls are falling at terminal velocity the force is born by the fluid, and translates itself to the bottom (and sides, and crevices) of the well as increased fluid pressure. Once the ball hits the bottom and comes to rest, the force is transmitted entirely by the rigid surfaces of the ball and the well bottom. At this point the ball stops creating a higher pressure in the fluid. The only effects on flow will be changes in resistance to flow that Bruce talks about.

I admit that I haven't thought about the idea that the walls can exert a vertical force on the fluid due to friction losses, but the argument I give should hold for frictionless walls or for large pipes (large compared to the diameter of the balls).

I want my patent!!

Expect a call from my patent attorney David Brezina, Ladas & Parry LLP!

You really ought to read previous threads to see what has come before you when claiming the rights to a patentable idea. But at least you're not an Office Weenie!! Keep trying.

You've published, you cannot patent.
The oil industry has a very successful method of stopping wells using mud and cement. The team on the relief well 40-0. The first attempt didn't work because they had an open system, now it is closed they can do it. They need to build a careful plan so that they do not do any more damage, they have backup plans and they achieve a 100% result. Don't happen overnight, this ain't the movies Dorothy.


In the US you have 1 year to patent after publication, so all is not lost.

The outbreak is 1000 ft NE along trend.

Look at the small leaks right now on HOS ROV 1. The bubbles go straight up, gathering speed, until they hit something. Then they gather under, and go around the obstacle.

Look at the old videos of the oil gushing. It does not go sideways or down, does not rotate like storm clouds, does not contain any white particles.

With the Oil/Gas flow stopped as it is now, what would be the composition of the effluent in the well bore now? Wouldn't Gas rise to the top and the Oil flow to the bottom?

That was discussed awhile back. Rockman said not to quote him, but he said he figured there was a oil-gas interface at about 500-ft down. I figure oil is all the way to the top, since how else can oil be leaking out of the flanges around the capping stack? Yeah, there is a little gas leaking, judging by the hydrate formation in places, but for my money, I can't imagine how we could be leaking oil without oil being on the other side of the leak.

Here is another outside the box thought. Suppose you shut in a flowing well, and you have a two-phase mixture of oil (which in itself is a mixture of light and heavy hydrocarbons along with organic vapors in solution (including methane)), come to rest and it develops a clear vapor-liquid interface. Now the pipe at the top is cold, and down the well there is warmer oil. One would think that some of the organic vapors would start condensing on the cold surfaces at the top of the well and would run down the outside of the pipes and adding to the liquid lower down in the well. If you keep this up long enough, you could get a stratified well with lighter hydrocarbons at the top, and ultimately, all the vapor would go into solution.

The stuff leaking from the flanges might be more like kerosene or gasoline rather than heavy crude.

It would be interesting to grab a sample of the stuff. On the video this morning HOS Rov 1 waved his little griper through the stuff . . . looked like a honeycomb.

My guess is that it wouldn't have much grit in it, since my guess is that the stuff on the other side of the flange went through a condensation process.

At these pressures (>2250 psi) and temperatures (>32C) the methane won't be a gas at all, it will be a supercritical fluid. So the methane can't condense -- it's already in a state where there's no difference between gas and liquid. However, its density can change by a lot with temperature -- e.g. increasing by 50% as the temperature drops from 150F to 32F.

I kind of doubt that the stratification in a long thin well would proceed much faster than the cooling at the top, so I think you wouldn't see the sort of two-step process you describe (stratification followed by cooling followed by re-mixing a bit). I think effectively parts of the well column will cool, densities will change accordingly, and maybe you'll get some stratification. But that's all a guess.

[Edited: just saw responses below by those who understand this better. But I'll leave this here and welcome any corrections to improve my understanding.]

On the supercritical fluid thing:

The temperature and pressure may be above the critical point of a single component of the petroleum, namely methane, but the phase behavior that is important is that of the mixture, which is probably not supercritical. So you would need a phase diagram of a mixture containing all the hydrocarbons that are down there, or a way to approximate that. There are equations for that sort of thing, but I tend to agree with Rockman that there is likely to be a gas phase and a liquid phase in the petroleum. Each will contain a range of hydrocarbons, with methane dissolved in the liquid and higher hydrocarbons in the gas. Likewise with other gases like hydrogen sulfide.

Edit: I see that geo_man has posted a generic phase diagram and is saying similar things.

jmbutton asked:

With the Oil/Gas flow stopped as it is now, what would be the composition of the effluent in the well bore now? Wouldn't Gas rise to the top and the Oil flow to the bottom?

I asked that question in a previous thread, but didn't get a reply. However, HO stated in his introduction,

At those pressures and temperatures, the gas is still liquid and still capable of carrying sand with it.

If this is correct (and I have no reason to doubt it), then we are above the bubble point for the oil/gas mixture, meaning oil and gas will mix together in a single phase. So no, they won't separate.

Pardon me, but I am a Newbie at this.

At those pressures and temperatures, the gas is still liquid

Huh? It is either a liquid, or a gas (or a solid or a plasma). How can a gas be a liquid?

If this is correct (and I have no reason to doubt it), then we are above the bubble point for the oil/gas mixture, meaning oil and gas will mix together in a single phase.

If we are above the bubble point, wouldn't we be at a temperature where bubbles would exist? I am looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_point that defines a bubble point as:

When heating a liquid consisting of two or more components, the bubble point is the point where first bubble of vapor is formed.

So it would seem to me that if we are above the bubble point in temperature, oil and gas would exist as separate phases.

Huh? It is either a liquid, or a gas (or a solid or a plasma). How can a gas be a liquid?

It is a supercritical fluid


Then shouldn't he have said critical point?


Semantics, james. "gas", as in "natural gas". Ever heard fo "LNG"--"liquid natural gas"? It's mostly methane, with a few other volatiles. Natural gas, referring to that general chemical mix, can exist in gaseous or liquid phase, depending on temperature & pressure.

Thanks geo_man -

So this means that the pressure in the now capped well bore is great enough that the gas is in its liquid phase?

But even so, it's not flowing and so it seems like there would be some separation of the 2 liquids (oil & gas) due to their differing densities...?

...gas compressed to a liquid may be capable of carrying sand, but only when it's flowing - right? No flow should allow sand and other chunks to sink.

The Methane is above its critical temperature so can exist as a gas. You will get a partial pressure of gas, on top of the liquid, depending on the temperature. I will let you check the critical temperatures for ethane and the rest of the light hydrocarbon zoo.


The methane is above its critical temperature so it can't go through an abrupt phase change between gas and liquid. What we call "methane gas" at high temperature is a very thin supercritical fluid. This fluid can be compressed to near the density that liquid methane would have at lower temperature without going through a phase change.

At oil field pressures there's often a gas-rich phase separate from the oil (which contains a fair amount of dissolved gas). We know that this phase exists because it has a much lower seismic velocity than oil does, so we can see it in seismic reflection data. In plainer language the speed of sound is much lower in the gas than it is in the oil. What a seismic section shows is sound waves bouncing off boundaries between regions where the speed of sound differs. The bigger the difference, the stronger the reflection.

Since there seems to be so much interest in this, I thought I would post a typical phase diagram for a "generic hydrocarbon mixture". The exact shape of the curve depends on the constituents of the mix, something none of us outsiders have.

Inside this loop, the fluid can exist as two phases (gas and liquid) in equilibrium with each other. Outside the loop, they cannot. The "critical point" is labeled "C" in the diagram. It is the point at which the gas and liquid phase become indistinguishable from each other in their properties. A "super-critical fluid" is one whose pressure exceeds that of the critical point. I don't know if the fluid within the Macondo BOP is super-critical or not. But it wouldn't have to be to still exist as a single liquid phase. The pressure would only have to be above the "bubble point curve" at 40 deg F. Lower the pressure below this, and gas bubbles will start to form (and of course rise to the top of the well stack).

Knowing whether there is gaseous methane or liquid in the BOP has great implications for any attempted top-kill operation. I think the consensus on TOD is that the BOP is filled with liquid , with the methane dissolved in the liquid, but I could be wrong.

I hope this clarifies this discussion a little.


geo man, thanks for the link to the phase diagram article, very good.

The subject of whether the methane at Macondo is supercritical was discussed in some detail at


To find all of the posts on it, search for "critical" and don't give up after the first hit.

The critical temperature of methane is -116.5F. A standard definition of the critical temperature is that the fluid cannot be liquefied above that temperature, no matter the pressure. At Macondo, the temperature at the seabed/BOP is mid +30's F, far above the critical temperature of methane, and the temperature only rises with well depth. Methane cannot exist as a liquid in that well or any other on Earth. Maybe on Titan or planet XORX.

I believe there is enough methane at Macondo that not all of it can be absorbed by the oil. In that case, there must be a column of supercritical methane above the oil in the riser to the BOP, if there is no flow as at present. This is what Rockman predicts, although determining the height of the methane column would not be easy.

But I think everyone should acknowledge the simple physical fact that THE METHANE CANNOT EVER BE A LIQUID AT MACONDO. This is important, because it affects the calculation of the pressure in the riser caused by the density of the fluid in it. The more supercritical methane in that column, the less pressure it exerts at the bottom, and the higher the pressure at the BOP. That pressure is of no small interest.

If there is such a column of methane only in the riser, where is the oil coming from that is slowly leaking past the gaskets on the new top hamper? You got me.

throw my 0.02 in the basket

the exact phase envelope for a reservior can only be generated after a PVT test......we get the circondentherm/circondenbar to establish the limits and generate a phase envelope based on the pvt cell test .....

so its really educated guesses about phase behavior in the wellbore .....is a good chance given the pressure that it is oil with entrenched gas but then that is why the two major reference points i.e. circondentherm/bar are important cuz they set the outer limits ....

IMHO there cud be a case for behavior where gas is escaping from the oil and then dissolving back into the oil on a continuous basis ....C1/2 and a lil C3 cud be in this loop....there is a good chance of a few gas columns uphole but csg integrity breaches (possibly at the csg hangers) would take care of most free gas and possibly is the reason for a some elevated methane levels near the wellsite......

Is it oil or is it gas? Bubbles would not expand quickly at that depth. Is the build up above the leak clathrates, it seems to come and go?


Damn, you eggheads is confusing me. First Rockman says there's maybe, (don't quote me, he sez) 500' of methane gas at the top of the well, with, I presume a corresponding reduction of weight of column down to the reservoir.

IF that's true, and the gas/low density top of the column is increasing in length, then as the gas displaced heavier oil at the top of the column, the downward pressure/weight of the total column will decrease, since more of it is gas.

THUS the possibility of a tight well, and increasing pressure.

THIS thesis about increasing pressure also leads to an interesting hypothesis: if the methane top section of the column were vented, column weight would increase, and pressure on the well stack BOPs would be reduced back to 6700#. Hmmmm.

I hope no one just flatly states that there's no Rockman gas in the top of the well without refuting the statement that all the methane in the well, column and reservoir is a gas.

My 2 cents: In a pressure-temperature diagram, draw a horizontal and a vertical line through the critical point. Fluids in the upper right quadrant are supercritical. You can reduce the pressure to cross one of the lines or you can reduce the temperature to cross the other line, but in no case will you see a phase change, that is, a point where the temperature or pressure stops evolving, but as you keep adding or removing energy, a growing amount of substance exhibit a different set of mechanical properties.

This does not make the fluid unambiguously into a gas phase, or does it? I know nothing beyond the generalities in undergraduate books about statistical physics or similar. Would this be a discussion of semantics, eg. more language than actual physics?

Even "liquids" are not completely incompressible, and I guess supercritical gas may have quite slight compressibility. So I believe there is no clear distinction between "liquid" and "gas" in the supercritical region.

I guess there could still be issues of variable solubility between substances that makes it meaningful to talk about a "gas" phase that separates from a "liquid" phase even if the density of the "gas" is not enormously lower than the "liquid", and the "gas" does not expand enormously as the pressure is somewhat reduced, say, from 6000 psi to 5000 psi. But notice that I said "guess". I tried some days ago, but I did not find an easily accessible source describing the specific properties of methane in this pressure region.

I would love to be corrected if I am wrong.

I'm repeating some of what I said upthread.

In a mixture of hydrocarbons, like that in the well, the relevant phase diagram is of the mixture, not methane alone. We don't know the composition of the mixture, but it's a good bet that liquid and gas phases are present.

The gas phase will be mostly the lower hydrocarbons, the liquid phase the higher hydrocarbons, but there will be some of all in both.

It becomes somewhat academic to argue whether the gas phase (which will be dense at these pressures) will be supercritical or not. There's nothing magic about supercriticality, although the properties around the critical point (compressibility, heat capacity, etc.) can make things complicated.

Today's lede: "According to chemist Cheryl Rofer, the bubble of deadly methane beneath the Gulf floor may be going supercritical."

ZOMG! Supercritical, is end of swirl!


Reminds me of a presentation I gave at Savannah River, and one guy asked, "Could you use any other word than supercritical?"

That's the word that is used to describe the fissionable material in a nuclear weapon just before it blows.

Looks like Skani 2 ROV is spraying dispersant into a significant oil column.

Pale silt cloud from ROV thruster backwash. If there are sea floor leaks going on, this isn't one of them!

BP sells assets and raises 7 billion. Looks like the harpies from the shore shall pluck the eagle of the sea. Couldn't happen to a nicer devil.

TFHG: Take a look at latest NOAA oil 72 hour forecast maps and the 72 hour wind forecast. Dramatic changes in amount of medium oil slick, no heavy, and if the winds turn to the south (and they keep this shut-in), your area may just get a chance to clean up. Perhaps, assuming you avoid a hurricane, you and your Hooter's girls can be frolicking on the beach in a few weeks while drowning yourself in all sorts of inebriating liquids.

AFAIK They have already laid off all out of area land based cleanup personnel. The folks around here are not expecting another large influx. Now, the problem is the contaminated GOM and beaches. I am touring the landfill this week to see what is happening there. Did you see Smokey at the Pony? Best post yet IMHO. http://gcn01.com

Heh. Nice Standard Oil T-shirt Smokey has. There's a man who does not fear irony.

Did you notice the two anti-BP stickers on his guitar?

So now is the moment of truth for all the doomsday scenarios. If oil disappears and the only videos people have are silt disturbances the time will have come to put these theories in the waste bin of failed internet memes.

Completely agree. Quite right.


However, this type of meme has a long tail. It will dampen down but never quite go to zero I'm afraid.

They were based on a weird logic to begin with that allows the disconnect with reality to continue. Best to not ask why, doesn’t make sense anyway.

The thruster-blown-silt video posts will be around for a while.

Give it up Cornucopians, the oil that is not coming out is being lost, so we'll all die that much sooner. Or it's coming out in the Indian Ocean (near India) or it's in the hidden tanker fleet. But trust me, buy band-aids and a stout mattress cover, the end is near (really, this time for sure).

For all folks who see "oil seeping" in the silt storms the ROVs are causing, here is a video of a real oil-seep so you know what you should be looking for.


That is a clear example, thanks. BTW, when and where is this video from?

It was taken in the GOM, I believe by http://sarsea.org/ who do GOM research and some work on natural seepage. I do not know the exact when and where.

Love the high tech container that the sample tube is in. Looks like a standard plastic Milk Box bungee-corded to the ROV.

Thanks for the great video.

Thanks, nice video.

Is it fair to assume that any slow seepage occurring at 1500 m (5000 feet) that percolates through up through hundreds of meters of silt will already have had the methane extracted as hydrate, so only oil will reach the seabed?

Also, has anyone captured conclusive videos of those elusive seeps near this well? It would be informative to see what those look like. I've been watching more than I should, but have not seen anything conclusive. It has been stated frequently here (and somewhat rudely, but I reckon that's how all y'all oil men talk) that engaging in modeling and other fruitless activities can lead one to confuse fantasy with reality. Staring at blurry images full of compression artifacts can have the same effect.

wrt to your hydrate question, it depends on volumes and rates, which depends on the nature of the flow path. Without a fracture, the low perms will render this upward flow to be mm/year. With a fracture, flow can be rapid and the gas can find a way to navigate through the shallow sediment and reach the sea floor. Deep sourced gas seeps in deep water are quite common. Travel up the annular space where concrete is missing or channeled, can also be quite fast, and there, it would be warmed sufficiently by the wellbore to make hydrates not stable. But, if there is a porous sand layer between any deeper leak point and the seafloor, then one would expect flow to perhaps enter that zone, and form hydrate within it. So I think the answer is that everything is complex.

EricNPA: Thanks. I have been looking (unsuccessfully) for association & dissociation rate constants for the reaction (methane + water <==> methane hydrate). I know that these will have complex temp and pressure dependence, and the stoichiometry may be ill-defined, but if BP is modeling this then they must have this info, no? Can you provide any leads?

Nubs: most folks feel the kinetics of the reaction are immaterial for most applications as it does occur very quickly (witness the earlier containment attempts) when one suddenly combines the two materials in the right T and P conditions. (Yes, for certain BP is definately capable of doing these calculations). For T and P dependance, and dependancy also for Gas and Water chemistry, see http://hydrates.mines.edu/CHR/Software.html

I've been wondering the same thing. Since there are confirmed seeps, how about show the video? It seems that would help people and quiet the speculation.

Late last night Skandi 2 seemed to be showing some leaks on the seafloor, but they were even slower than the ones on the seal. These appeared to be droplets rising every few seconds, not steady.

Rovman, how do the ROVs stay steady when taking the clear, quiet videos on the bottom?

The best way to take good, clear, quiet video on the bottom is to gently sit the ROV down and ensure that the vertical thrusters are not running. The ROVs are normally trimmed to be slightly heavy, so they will happily sit on the bottom so long as the current is not too big, as seems to be the case at this well.

It should be noted that the vertical thrusters are operated by a slider, similar to those seen on recording mixing desks. They do not self-centre, like a joystick, and so it is easy for the pilot to leave the thrusters running at any speed he likes. I think this is the cause of some of the continuous sh*t storms we've seen.

If you are wondering why the ROVs are trimmed to be heavy, this is a safety measure in case the tether should break and the ROV is lost. If the ROV were to float, it would drift off and be very hard to find, despite being on the surface. If it sinks, it won't drift too far (hopefully) and can be searched for and recovered by another ROV.


Do you know what we're seeing on Skandi ROV 2?

Looks like somehow they are better able to visualize the seafloor and are looking below the silt level?


Yes, I know exactly what we're seeing.

The ROV has been turning on-the-spot all day doing sonar surveys. This has blown away most of the fine silt and whatnot. The ROV has also left a lovely set of 'footprints' in the firmer mud, which is what all those angular lines are. The two different colours are caused by two different sets of lights. The lower blue/grey light is coming from a pair of lights mounted on the lowest part of the ROV. The green light seen in the top of the frame is coming from the upper pair of lights mounted at the top of the ROV's frame. The green tinge comes from the light having passed through a few extra meters of water.

They are not seeing below the silt level, though I can see why you thought that.

One has to wonder how they keep the umbilical cable from becoming twisted in a knot or fouled on something. I guess there must be an art to cable management. ;-)

Thanks for the details....

Skandi does appear to be the clearest we've seen of the seafloor.

In response to slevins5 from previous thread (it closed just as I was responding)

Two questions


BP says the relief well "should" hit the WW by the weekend.


I don't trust anything this company says anymore. Is this an overly optimistic assessment (again) by BP? Is the sideways drilling a simple operation or could arose problems?


The internet backchannels are starting to light up about the 5 "drips" around the well. Can someone check these out.



What could they possibly be? This whole thing has me extremely anxious.

The image and video that you refer to are excellent examples of silt kicked up by the ROV thrusters. You can see in the video that the ROV starts with a compass heading of 225 degrees. The ROV then lifts off the bottom, kicking up sediment in the process. It turns 90 degrees to a new heading of 315 degrees and settles back down to the sea bed. It stays there a short time before rising again, causing another silt storm, then it turns a further 90 degrees to a heading of 45 degrees, then settles down again. The ROV will have been doing a sector scan sweep with its sonar, 90 degrees at a time. This is confirmed by the legend on the video overlay of "Herc 06: Sonar Survey".

In case you haven't seen my previous posts, I am somebody who has worked professionally with ROVs for over a decade and I can assure you that there is nothing in these images to worry about.

8AM update, "A tropical depression is not expected to form today but environmental conditions are still favorable for some development as the system moves toward the west-northwest at about 10 mph away from Hispaniola into the Bahamas on Thursday. There is a high chance, 60 percent, of this system becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours." Note: that's a reduction from 70%.

Weather links, reposted

Storm tracker with forecast models, http://www.stormpulse.com/
Chuck Watson storm forecast models, http://hurricane.methaz.org/tracking/storms/AL972010_tracks.html

From the IRC channel

Is this the explanation for the leaking HC connector?

New Stack dropped by several feet onto transition spool during installation

Youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBuBzW3hnDA drop is about 18 seconds in

Cameron details on connector http://www.coopercameron.com/content/products/product_detail.cfm?pid=280...

Note that the leak is on the same side the stack was dropped.

"Is this the explanation for the leaking HC connector?"

My best guess is yes, it is the reason for that tiny leak, plus the cooling down from 240F with hot oil flowing through to now 40F.

But the connection is still structural sound and will not open without external hydraulics applied. It is really a minor leak with a slow creeping fluid. Might get a bit bigger over time but not dangerous.

No, please look at the current ROV image of the leak. There is a bolt eye in the bottom right hand corner. There are no bolt eyes in the are of the image you show above. There are eyes higher up the stack so, if you go through the BP site, check an image of the new stack and you should be able to work out where it is. You are right to be concerned about leaving a ding in the connector but there does not seem to be any issues with it. Oh, and the leak is very small indeed.


The shock of impact obviously transferred up the stack. The current leak appears to be above the point of impact. This connector is rated at 15,000 psi and the entire stack was tested to 10k psi before installation. It shouldn't be leaking at that point.

Those numbers are the wrong way around, check article above.


TC1537 - HC Collet Connector 18-3/4" 15,000 psi WP Operation and Maintenance Manual

The entire stack was tested to 15k as well (per Kent Wells briefing yesterday). Note sure why I misremembered that as 10k.

Oh, and the leak is very small indeed.

And I might point out it is very, VERY small compared to the leak we had before the bop cap was installed, for which we are thankful. May the leak STAY very, very small. ;-)

Snapshots showing bubbling location 1.
Under bottom ram

Hydrates build up and then pieces break off or the rov sweeps it off.

Snapshots of bubbling location 2.
Middle of old BOP

That's a nice clarification of the positions.


I read several posts about the temperature in the well causing the casing to expand or shrink which could compromise the cementing. Now that it is capped there is no longer a flow of hot oil heating the casing, but would not there still be convection currents mixing the cooler upper oil with the hotter lower oil which would prohibit extreme temperature gradients along the casing?

"Oh, and from the Admiral’s brief, in case you missed it.

The Discoverer Enterprise is no longer on station. "

That is nonsense. Marine-traffic show the Discoverer Enterprise on station - it has not moved at all and the Top-Hat No.7 is still hanging from its drillpipe as visible in the ROV Videos.

The Pisces has left its station about 20 hours ago and is no longer doing its surveys.

Geco Topaz is still in place and just ran another seismic survey.


I wonder what the arbitrary requisite number of surveys will be.


Perhaps Markey has an interest in GECO. Lots of surveys.

Will he claim he just saved a lot of money on his seismic surveys?

If not for Markey, we would not be talking about ROV Video feeds at all. He was the one who demanded they be public.

Enterprise is now over a mile NE of well location and other vessels. Vessels were moved a bit to allow continuous seismic gathering.

There is no mention of Discoverer Explorer in the transcript of yesterday's briefing by Allen.

In recent days he has said that a number of the ships have had to move out of the way to allow for the seismic and sonar surveys. In addition work on the second free floating riser has been interrupted by the surveying... that's the one that is supposed to connect to Toisa Pisces.

Incidentally, from the marine traffic map Ocean Intervention is in port - that's why there are no transmissions from its ROVs.

Interesting article. I wish we had more data about the condition of the seabed. And the Permit of April 2009 is specific about shallow water and gas, so it's a legitimate area of concern. I wonder why that didn't get more coverage in the media.

"...For its research, the consortium persuaded the government to let it take over an area of the gulf floor that turned out to be in the same deepwater canyon as BP's well, Lutken said. But they're to the northwest and on a slope, just over half a mile deep, while Deepwater Horizon's well is a mile below the surface. That means that the methane in higher levels that SRI discovered during the most recent tests on June 25 and 26 has apparently been flowing upslope, Lutken said."

Have fun with the methane plumes. Hee,hee. They're coming to get you.

You guys have a great day. I look forward to reading the board this afternoon.

June 25/26? But the well had been obviously pumping methane into the gulf for two months at that point.

In reply to comment from last thread. Yes, the permit reference is clearly to shallow water flow. It is not clear if this is boilerplate (likely) or in reference to some real feature noted in the shallow hazards surveys. All wells drilled are drilled in a way to address such hazards, as geophysics is not 100% conclusive and anything is possible. But why I imagine this well has not shallow water issues is that such did not present itself during the drilling and that all that anybody is seeing now, if anything, are gas and oil, and not flowing water.

K3, thanks for the Tampa Bay link.

You wonder why that BP 2009 Exploration Plan has had so little coverage.
It has had some, but it is puzzling, what was picked up on and what was overlooked.

I'm also surprised (and a bit puzzled) at what gets picked up on and what gets ignored here at TOD.

I asked a few weeks ago about the issue of the long-term integrity of offshore wells, which one would think has the potential to be an increasing headache in the decades and centuries ahead, and provided links to research on that topic .
But other than a few helpful observations, the response was minimal (despite several requests).

Yesterday I posted a link to a review of the July 9th presentation by Shell, comparing their design with the one used at Macondo.
No response at all... was this already discussed and I missed it?

Both of these are fact-based issues which seem central to the larger issue of the safety of offshore drilling, which is surely at the heart of your focus for the past 92 days.
That's why I've turned to this body of analysts.... I really don't know who else might be able to provide such info.

I will again offer the link to the Shell video, and will again invite your analysis of it:

Thanks folks... I don't mean to complain or be a nuisance, but I refuse to believe that you (collectively) cannot provide useful supplementary info on these aspects... I know you can, but will you?

Rick -- don't remember if it was your question but I addressed P&A wells in detail a couple of weeks ago. You might scan my responses. As far as the BP POE (Plan of Exploration) ask some specific questions and we'll see what we can do. But to be honest I wouldn't spend much of my time digging thru the POE. It really is mostly boilerplate. I'm in the process of writting a POE right now. Probably 90%+ of it will look like every other POE. The only unique info in a POE will be the specifics of the shallow hazard/seismic survey.

Did I completely miss this yesterday :

Sixth small leak found yesterday on BOP says Allen.....it just hit BBERG less than 15 minutes ago. Granted I could have missed it, but ususally BBERG only reports new news on healdines.

On another topic, I have phone calls all day every day about methane clouds etc., but yesterday heard one that I almost peed my pants when I heard the claim, it was this :

"There has been a fluctuation in the sea floor for several days of over seven feet... It rises and falls like a pulse, indicating that there is "something" underneath trying to escape"...........no doubt I know exactly where this originated, but it's been cited to sources that can't be revealed LOL.

I wish I got paid for every wild theory I have to de-bunk, I'd be able to pay off my house and buy a small blue bell ice cream store :)

Oh there are lots more,hundreds and hundreds of them, they have been there for many, many years;) People really need to get their C cards and go down to see what the sea bottom is like. Bubbles and swirls all over the place. Perhaps they should look at a good old fashioned water main burst, pretty spectacular. They then need to remember that the pressures this oil and gas are under are 100-150 times higher! Do those, cough, 'leaks' look even anything like a water main burst let alone something with with a pressure so many times higher? People must learn to stop panicking every time a ROV moves and use their eyes, position changing - ROV is thrusting! If people are using depth readings from the ROVs to gage whether the sea floor is 'rising and falling like a pulse' perhaps they need to be studying about waves and tides :) I am finding the lack of coherent thought and education astounding. Keep on with the de-bunking, youse doin a good job. Keep that surf board ready for that 1000' tsunami, catch that wave ;)


BTW Did you manage to find out if there was much shorting going on? I am wondering if there were people jumping on the bandwagon around $35 on the way down and are now the wrong side and loosing out.

Oh I know there are literally thousands of them, and that seeps are normal......I just never heard Allen mention the 6th leak on the BOP until it hit blooomberg today.

LOL about the 1000 ft Tsunami, I like the 5-6 ft waves myself....I have been trying to inform and debunk, although Matt Simmons was just on bloomberg and I only caught part of the massive oil lake 10 miles away, but did find this one yesterday:

There has been a fluctuation in the sea floor for several days of over seven feet... It rises and falls like a pulse, indicating that there is "something" underneath trying to escape... I wonder if it will be another 3-4 weeks before we hear THAT on the MSM

I also found the short info on BP and posted yesterday on the open thread, not sure what percentage were naked shorts though.

although Matt Simmons was just on bloomberg

Simmons on Bloomberg?! ..

"May the saints preserve us", as my Irish auntie was wont to say.

Can't anybody get somebody knowledgeable on to refute this guy?

The Bloomberg I am talking about is my computer for trading and picks up all news sites so I would have to go see who/what station was interviewing him.....I will say they sounded skeptical when he spoke about the oil lake 10 miles away.

NAOM~Yes I do have to wax the surfboard unless I use my son's softtop, but it's too d@mn heavy so I normally use the other one:) And I would never do a naked short, I would use an option strategy to hedge it, or just a options period.....not my risk tolerance level.

The chances of there being more seeps in an ever increasing area are pretty good and I suspect a lot of them have been there for a long time. Even a decent size dead fish, buried into the silt, can make a presence. The mud mats too could stir up gases, trap them the release them as they seep to a suitable opening. There's all sorts of pipes, bits of wreckage etc to think about as well, a chunk of steel that sank into the mud can leave a conduit for trapped gasses. Think back to the water leak, that is what needs to be looked out for, not thruster wash. Do you wax a surf board to get it ready or is that just skis?

I don't like the idea of naked shorts, thought they had been banned too. Sound very risky on this stock, I would have thought betting on recovery would have been better. What I was thinking about was if someone took a position between the start of June and 25th June, expecting it to go down until BK, they would be in a lot of trouble now and would benefit if the stock went down.


The sea floor rises and falls in relation to what? The sea surface? Hmm, we wouldn't be talking about the tides going in and out, would we?

Yes, I am being flippant here, but if you are measuring a change, you have to measure it against something else, and you have to choose carefully what you are comparing to.

Those must be the sand worms from "Dune". Heh.

Thanks very much for responding.
You are one person in particular who I think can provide useful insights.
I did click on "Comments by Rockman" etc but the system must be tied up... nothing appeared... will try later.
But I am not optimistic about finding what I'm looking for as you have made hundreds (thousands?) of postings (most of them excellent).
What are P&A wells?

I agree, the Exploration Plan is a done deal, not worth a lot of time & attention.
But some of the quotes are absolute shockers (which I've listed in yesterday's Energy Bulletin article).
If such items are still "boilerplate" (surely they cannot be) then we continue to have a major problem, and this is worth discussing because we are looking forward as well as backward.

Second, I would love your observations on the specifics of the Shell presentation.
Have you seen it?
Has the July 9th video already been analyzed here?
If so, can someone please help me find it.
If not, why not? It contains highly relevant details.

Third, what about off-shore wells?
If they actually can "last forever" then we can set the matter to rest.
If they won't, then what on earth are we doing down there?
A few decades of offshore work is one thing; 200 years of nature vs steel may be a different story.

Again, my thanks....

Rick - P&A is plugged and abandoned. TA is temporarily abandoned. SI is shut in.

By boiler plate I mean just generic filler. Not bad or misleading data but just nothing of much specific use. No…just read various comments about the Shell Oil presentation. From what I read SO just seemed to just layout the obvious.

The P&A protocol for offshore wells is rather well designed. Of course, that’s only if the regs are followed. The P&A effort is certified but doesn’t necessarily mean it was done properly. But remember the vast majority of P&A wells offshore had no oil/NG in them in the first place. Most operators make a good faith effort if for no other reason than self protection. Going back to fix a leaking well would cost hundreds of times as much as doing right the first time. Also, the liability for any well offshore is perpetual even if the lease is abandoned. They can’t even sell the lease to escape liability. If the new owner screws up and goes bankrupt the liability falls back on the original operator.

I’ve never heard of the feds conducting any surveys on abandoned wells to check for leaks. That may change now.

Thanks again, Rockman

re Plans of Exploration, what I would like to know is whether BP's audacious list of "is not required" was standard in Feb 09 and is it standard today?
The list is nothing short of bold, concluding with their response with respect to "Consultation: No agencies or persons were consulted regarding potential impacts associated with the proposed activities" (p. 14-12).
At least they didn't lie about it... obviously no need to when you can simply tell MMS all the things that don't need to be done.
But has this changed?

As for the Shell presentation, I'm sure that what they said would be obvious to you and other industry insiders.
As an outsider, I found it very informative.
But do you insiders feel that they presented the info accurately (that Shell's practices what it preaches, are there aspects of the BP design which were overlooked, etc.)?

As for abandoned wells, the GAO expressed concerns two decades ago, but apparently have not revisited the matter. But how many original operators can answer for wells which were abandoned decades ago... these companies may have gone out of business, been broken up & bought out.
If we simply haven't had enough time (presumably several decades at least) for the steel to weaken, then perhaps this is a sleeper, and we'll see increasing problems in a few more decades, and by then we may have hundreds in the Arctic.
"Forever" is a very long time, especially when it comes to steel.

I don't understand what you're looking for with regard to the Shell presentation. The BP well design has already been thoroughly critiqued, and there never will be another well drilled like that in U.S. waters. What other information would you like? Implementation of regs mandating a safety case is a good idea, long overdue from the perspective of this one layman.

Thanks, Count

Here are my questions:
re. BP Macondo design
1. did the Shell analysts present it accurately?
2. was BP's design unique and unprecedented (in which case, how was it approved?)
3. if the full string design is "typical" (as the slide says) then is it still acceptable (in Canada, around the world?)

re Shell design:
4. does Shell practice what they preach?
5. how long have they used the design presented here?
6. what does a safety case entail?

plus any other observations which you and others might care to offer.

Thank you for considering this.

Are there any comments on Transocean's rig? Thre were stories about it having faulty emergency systems, faulty sensors, etc.

Could this have contributed to the blowout and if so, does transocean have any responsibility?

I also read that it was working deeper then it was designed to do. I could not confirm this.

I remember having read here on TOD that the Deepwater Horizon platform has drilled deeper wells before this one. Where did you read it was not designed to drill at the depth of the Macondo well?

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

In September 2009, the rig drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of 35,050 ft (10,683 m) and measured depth of 35,055 ft (10,685 m)[11] in the Tiber field at Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles (400 km) southeast of Houston, in 4,132 feet (1,259 m) of water.[12]

You can look up the sources [11] and [12] from the wikipedia article.

Certainly, the present well is in deeper waters (5000ft) but in shallower formation (18360ft from sea surface).

The same wikipedia article, about the same well:

The well was the deepest oil well in the world,[31][32][33][34] and more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) further below the seabed than the rig's official drilling specification stated on the company's fleet list.[35]

Now, 35000 minus 5000 is 30000, so the Macondo well (18360ft) must be more than 10000 ft shallower, not deeper, than specified.

I never count a wiki article as a useful reference. If they link to good sources , then I will follow up on those. I was referring to the original design plans and not what it did after it was built.

Designed to drill in 8,000 feet of water, upgradeable to 10,000 feet.


The lawyers will be dealing with this for years. There will be appeals over whatever decisions are made long after the last trace of oil from the blowout is gone from the coastline.

Much of the evidence for this has yet to be collected. Knowledge gained about the nature of the casing downhole has yet to be documented. You think they'll run a cement bond log after this well is killed? oooh, that would be interesting. Operations from here on out may yet convince me to join the conspiracy club... (ie: it would be impractical, but not impossible, and as Rockman often mentions, not necessarily helpful to run a CBL)

All the Transocean guys who were scheduled to appear today before the Marine Board hearings (USGS plus BOERME) canceled ... guess they figured they didn't have much to say.

All taken the 5th it seems.

1. Ray Odenwald - Transocean, Subsea Supervisor, providing information on the BOP modifications.

2. Jim McWhorter - Transocean, Subsea Supervisor, providing information on the BOP modifications.

3. Mark Hay - Transocean, Subsea Supervisor, providing information on the BOP modifications.

4. Billy Stringfellow - Transocean, Subsea Superintendent, providing information on the BOP intervention issues

Not necessarily taking the Fifth. Captain Nguyen's statement was, the lawyers said the witnesses would not appear voluntarily. I'm pretty sure the Marine Board has subpoena power, which hasn't been used in the proceedings so far, but I bet it will be used for future rounds.

In fact, he announced before the start of Tuesday's proceeding that subpoenas would be issued for the third phase of hearings Aug 23-27 in Houston. http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=video/video_show.php&id=90843

They can still use their 5th Amendment rights (if they choose) even if subpoena issued can't they? I'm from the UK so correct me if I'm wrong?

You are correct.

Thank you very much. I tuned into the hearings a few minutes late and missed the off-the-record part, and also missed the dates of the Houston session.

Complete, unashamed novice here. Earlier this month, I decided to take the Smurf Blue screenshots on the live-feeds and put red over them. Why? Well because blue is used to wash out details--I sort of tried to put the other lens in on a pair of 3-D glasses. I do realize that I am not a professional, and I am doing this to get another perspective on movement. I later found out, that "methane" gas will show in red (I have no idea if this is true).

When I first put the red over the blue, it was very clear that the place where the BOP is connected, is not only crooked, it also indicates much flow and gush with things flying from it. If you switch it back to blue, you can hardly (if at all) make that out, but the red gives it more detail.

Again, forgive me this post does not belong here (delete if you wish), but NOW they are saying the leak is coming from there, under the BOP. But, I thought (based on red over blue), that leak was there all along--even though the news was having think of seafloor "seepage".

Here is a link to my album--they are posted with the most current on top, the earlier ones start at the last, bottom row. Again, I am truly a novice with an idea of what is done with "gels" in movies and decided to put red over blue to see what they are masking.

This site is very informative, by the way, and I thank you for explaining to those, like me, who are simply trying to understand!

Link: http://s978.photobucket.com/home/onefifty

Is this your idea of a joke?

Using a red gel to counter the blue cast you get from underwater photography is not unusual at all. I think onefifty could have said it better, but still, the idea of using a "gel" or filter to add definition to an image is not silly. The light sources they use are very "hot" which means they lean to the blue side of the spectrum. Some rov's use filters and the image is much clearer when they do. As to his conclusions, I just do lighting...

Have you looked at his animations?

Here's a single frame


Amazing what you can get with a red filter hidden by BP. Poster also seems to be playing with amplified noise. There is very little red in the original images so where did he get the red from? He didn't swim down to the ROV and put a gel on it.

Did any of you notice the REAL crab that walked in front of the Skandi ROV2 camera this morning? The pilot zoomed in and watched it for awhile as it slowly walked across the sea floor.

It looked a lot like the one in your photo.... except a little less 'toonish'. ;-)

How does the ROV taking a video like that one stay in place without creating clouds of silt?

Thanks for the video... pretty tough shell to be able to withstand the pressure down there.

Great video!

.. pretty tough shell to be able to withstand the pressure down there.

Actually, no, since the pressure inside and outside the shell is the same.

Nice crab. Doesn't need to withstand the pressure as its internal pressure is equalised to the sea at that depth. Won't have any problems unless it encounters a ROV cutting a pipe.


The pressure inside the crab is more or less the same as outside the crab, so no large differential pressure is being exerted on it.

Thanks all...

I assume when you bring any of those creatures of the deep up to the surface there is time to do enough fluid exchange to equalize pressure on the way up?

I wonder why a crab species living in pitch blackness has pigment. Hmmm.

Bringing them up can be quite a tricky business. They explode because the pressure is not equalized. Scientists have developed pressure chambers when they want to capture those creatures, but there has not been a lot of success in these activities, IIRC.

Sampling fluids at depth is a tricky business, too. The chemistry can change with pressure and temperature, so you have to have a corrosion-proof sample container, frequently with windows that allow you to examine what's inside with a spectrophotometer so you don't have to open it up.

It was interesting to watch various attempts at capturing some of the bubbles at the base of the BOP the other day. As the final sample finally ascended, some of the it appeared to be venting out on the way up.

Need to add that that sample container must be a pressure vessel as well.

I wish I was good with photoshop . . . I would take a screenshot of the bottom near the well and photoshop in a set of human footprints, and post it as evidence that all the videos are made in a tank out in Hollywood.

The Matthew Simmons crowd would eat it up.

James ... don't give them ideas!!! LOL

How about the creature from the black lagoon - standing next to the BOP, holding a large wrench, and trying to unbolt something.

Even better would be to use one of those pictures of footprints on the lunar surface as the source.

Oh, too much temptation!

I completely agree with SharkMan. I wish I could get back the hours I've spent with PhotoShop trying to get my underwater pictures to come out better. Lots of underwater photographers use filters to correct color. At these depths there is no natural light (which gets funky as the depth increases due to the different absorbtion rates of different wavelengths). Light color is a HUGH factor. Tungsten, LED, and other types all have different colors (temperatures). Remember too that the distance from the subject affects the color (that's why those long shots of the BOP look more blue than the close ups.) Check out underwater cameras for scuba divers and you'll see the lights they use; usually with a macro lens. I can only image what the fish must think when those go off at close range! What type of lights do the ROVs use? You mention that they are hot.

Yes but what SharkMan said is not what onefifty did (although apparently well meaning). She just cut the other channels, amplified the red channel (where there wasn't much info to begin with) and ended up with heavy noise and compression artifacts.

Think of each of the three basic light color of red, green, blue as individual channels. You have unique data on each channel. Sometimes you can 'filter out' one or two channels and convert them to black and white and see things you could not with the combined color picture. There is so much going on in a video display, it often helps to 'filter' out some things to make other things more visible. Same principles apply in photo as others have pointed out. TinFoil.

Edit: 150 you do make it sound funny though. Points. :)

Yes cartoon crabs appear. Btw I haven't edited that crab in. It's directly from one of his linked gifs on Photobucket.

My point is that using filters can cause data that was hidden to appear. Not hidden by a malicious BP, but hidden by too much data going into the CCD. The only ROV that I saw using a filter was the leak gusher monitoring one. It did not hide the size of the leak, but rendered it in more natural colors.

Do you remember the Seinfeld 'She looks good in a certain light' (guess) episode?

I also use filters/desaturating quite a bit when working with digital images. I'm running 2 sets of images from the ROVs: one as it feeds, the other brought down to gray tone with modified contrast. If questionable movement, I'll turn on motion sensor on a third window. I'm using linux and vlc on several computers so can afford the memory. You'd be surprised what shows up this way.

I would hire Mr. Crabs to be onsite with a radio in a second. He would do it too, he is a greedy little crab.

He's correct. Even filtering red green or blue from a internet video will give you a better view of particular features. Try it in Photoshop or some other advanced editor. Open an image and look at the red, green or blue channel. You'll see he's correct.

I have done so. The image is full of noise. I take some indoor concert pics (amateur not pro) from time to time and can get exactly the same effects from them. However I don't recall the band being surrounded by a sea of "stuff" when I took it even though that is now what it looks like.

Try the green only channel and convert to grayscale. These settings are heavy blue and green laden and lack red save for a few details.

PS, Channel Mixer, Monochrome, R60 G40 B0


Orginal blue pic from post above

Try it again, while standing on yer head.

There are three critical issues to be covered about the use of colour enhancements.

The most important is to realise that a huge amount of information has already been eliminated by the camera on the ROV. The camera has an RGB sensor - it splits the light into only three channels. No matter what you do with further processing of the image you can never recreate information about the spectral signature of the light beyond these three simple values.

What you can do is improve your own eye's sense of contrast to enhance the differentiation of what remains in the image. This is a very different issue. Dropping out extraneous information is also useful. Adding a "red gel" is actually identical to eliminating the information in the green and blue channels. So your eye sees less clutter. Dropping to black and white eliminates the visual clutter of any colour. But what it does not do is provide any spectral analysis mechanism, because, as above, that information has already been destroyed in the camera. It would be possible to add a specifically chosen filter before the camera. A well chosen bandpass filter might be used to enhance the detection of a specific chemical or to help cut out unwanted light. But you can't reproduce this effect once the camera has encoded the image into RGB in the sensor.

The images we see are highly compressed. This compression leads to significant bleed of information between the colours. Standard image compression is designed to preserve colours in such a way that our eyes see a reasonable fidelity of colour or ordinary things. This means that the compression takes little care with information encoded in the colour that our eyes are not very sensitive to. What this eventually means is that in trying to enhance a compressed image in order to improve visibility of things our eyes are not detecting very well, we are trying to enhance precisely those parts of the compressed data stream that were most damaged in the compression. So it is hardly surprising that you get a lot of noise.

So, in summary. It is reasonable to play with colours, as well as contrast, black and white, even colour substitutions to improve visual resolution of an image. What you can't do is reveal information that was not already visible in the image. The significant amount of noise and compression artefacts present in the images can and will lead to all sorts of spurious results if you push it too hard.

Technology is always improving. The bleeding edge in CCD technology is often used in astronomy.

There was a question directed to me near the end of the last thread about the two differing drawings showing the fluid state in the well from the USCG investigation.

The first one is dated April 15,2010 http://www.deepwaterinvestigation.com/go/doc/3043/795971/

The second is dated April 18, 2010 http://www.deepwaterinvestigation.com/go/doc/3043/795991/

I am not an expert on cementing (Rockman?) but I do have a few observations.

They show different elapsed times and volumes of fluids pumped. Why that is so is an interesting question. Note also that the presumably revised drawing (4/18/10) shows less fluid pumped (11 barrels less) over a longer time frame (6 minutes longer).

If you want to follow along here are some hints to reading the drawings.

The table of fluids pumped shows the sequence with Macondo 9-7/8' x 7" Prod Casing - 14.17 ppg being the mud that was in the well for pressure control. It would go down through the production casing in the center of the well and then flow out the bottom and make a U-turn and flow upward through the annulus. Next was the 6.7 ppg Base Oil Maconndo etc.

The fourth and fifth are the cement, Macondo Foamed Slurry 16.74 ppg (Magenta) and Macoondo Foamed Slurry 16.74 (?) (Yellow). Where they flow out of the bottom of the production casing and make the U-turn is the "shoe". There is some green shown between the shoe and the hole on the later drawing.

The primary issue is how the cement job was done, so these anomalies in the data might prove critical to understanding the failure. Here is the Halliburon briefing http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/Halliburton.EC.Staff....

Somewhere along the line I remember seeing a speculation that the cement might have failed to make a tight seal at the shoe because there was more volume to fill than cement pumped. I don't think there should be any green around the cement as in the second drawing, it should be all yellow as in the first one.

Rockman it's your turn.

I did that crab gif because someone from the gulf wanted to give it to her child who was upset about red-bellied turtles dying--I couldn't find a picture of a red-bellied turtle, so I picked a ticked off crab.

The RED over BLUE came to me because BLUE masks out spectrums of light and putting blue over the red will block the blue.

Avatar, Cameron (director), probably could explain it better.

Edited to add: I'm no guy (not that that should matter...)

>"I'm no guy"

I knew that. Multidimensional creativity.

onefifty, please try to keep yours posts under your thread, Just post in "reply" and not "reply in new window" Thanks.

The issue is not Reply vs. Reply in new window. The issue is click any of those in the comment you want to reply to. Then you comment will appear below the one you are replying to, and not below an entirely different message.

When you add a red and blue filter over a standard 3 color CCD chip image you see the green channel.

You said you were female. I have cheap beer and basic cable. No job and a BP check. What are you doing later? TinFoil.

Heck TFHG...throw in a half gallon of Blue Bell and you might even get my attention.

:) Wow... things have really changed since I left the gulf coast. :)

...and you live by the beach!

Don't remind me. It is empty and contaminated. Going to take pictures. Good to hear from you. Did you hear Smokey play? Wish all were here for that. The decks are OK, the beach just grosses me out for now with all the tar. It will dissipate soon. Into us or a sand monster, I am not sure, but it enters the GOM at the tide line. I will get photo and video.
http://gcn01.com Best post because of the music videos. Legal and got permission. Go Smokey.

Sorry if I got your sex wrong and you are being genuine. I've just taken a current BOP image, cut blue and green channels and brought up the red. Guess what - it's full of noise - just like your images.

Bring up green only and convert to grayscale. Maybe that will look better.

I'm not sure what can be enhanced from the relatively low-res images provided via the internet, but the concept of looking at separate parts of the visible spectrum is both valid and creative.

Infra-red imaging is done all the time to reveal data not seen by the human eye. And most of us are familiar with the effect of yellow- or amber-tinted sunglasses (some time called "blue blockers") in enhancing contrast by blocking out some of the haze of the blue component of sunlight being scattered off small water droplets in the air.

And I have to admit that the animated crab was good for a much-needed chuckle. I figured the image was going to be used in a Powerpoint presentation as one of those slides to keep the audience awake. Given the attention span of most audiences, it makes sense that this would also appeal to a young child.

Bruce -- Not sure about the different schematics. I'm not sure how important the exact cmt volumn is. If the cmt job was good then even the lesser amount would have been sufficient. OTHO they could have pumped 10X the volumn and if the cmt wasn't set properly it would have failed especially if they didn't allow enough time to cure.

But that goes to the point about the cmt test. It doesn't matter to me what the specs on the paper show. I wouldn't care if they pumped enough cmt to fill the Super Dome: a bad/uncured cmt job will fail. And as I mentioned some times ago I wouldn't trust a CBL if it said I had a good cmt job. The test is the only thing that satifies me. And if I get a 100% solid gold test I would still watch my returns like a hawk when I displaced. That is the very basic Safe Drilling Practice. If SDP had been followed they could have controlled the kick even with all the other failures. The "experts" can argue about csg designs, cmt composition, etc until the cows come home. But no one can defend the failure to keep track of returns. It was simply sloppy procedure.

Rockman - My understanding is that they used a nitrogen foamed cement. Help me out, is this a two-part (the magenta & yellow) which mix down hole? That would be logical as I wouldn't want to try pumping a foaming cement down the hole, that would be like trying to get the champange back into the bottle. If you started the reaction topside, you still have to pump it 3 miles down. That is a long time for it to react before you get it where you want it. They show the cement in two colors on the schmatic, so my guess is that it is a two-part.

I also assume the reaction is exothermic (gives off heat) like regular cement. So the question I'm playing with is the way the nitrogen is supposed to "foam" the cement. In my mind, foam is what I get when I put some Blue Bell into my root beer (Mmmmmm! Root beer floats). Almost everyone in the industry seems to think that gases are in the gas state at 12,000 psi and can form bubbles. Simmons evidently feels they can create methane-genic tsunamis.

Here is an isobaric chart for nitrogen at 11,900 psi

I picked a starting temp of 150 F and a final temp of 300 F (Dimitry that is a WAG. You say you're from a little college in Cambridge. Are you perchance that oxymoronic person, the Harvard engineer? I actually met one once. He said there were six in his class. FYI - The progression for solving engineering problems is WAG, SWAG, Solution).

I think most people would visualize foamed cement as being like bread with lots of little holes. Given that nitrogen is a supercritical fluid at 11,900 psi, it would be more like an aerosol, little drops of nitrogen in the cement. If you look at the chart, as the nitrogen heats up from 150 to 300 F, its density goes from about 30 lbs/cu ft to about 26 lbs/cu ft. So it only expands about 15%, those holes would be tiny. The cement isn't going to expand like the insulating foam they use on This Old House.


I think it was in the Tuesday morning session of the Kenner hearing that the MI-Swaco mud engineer commented that nitrided cement is used for upper well sections. I'd like to know more about the use of foamed cement to finish off the well. How often, what are contraindications, etc.?

Bruce and Rockman

What I was referring to was the lower section of the drawings. Looks like slurry was used instead of well bore casing string. Also, interesting to me is the drawing seems to imply only a well bore casing string and no production string.

A while back I ask why you thought they were hesitating. Answer was, Mr. Wright has it under control. But I think this may show us the reasons why.

Could it be the RW intercept points are not feasible if the slurry construction is what they went with?

Is this salt dome territory? If so, and the construction is only bore casing, all I can say is, WOW.

The 7" production casing extends into an open hole below the end of the casing string. That has been well known from the beginning. John Wright is bringing the RW intersection into the WW through that open hole, rather than higher where he would have to mill through both the casing and the production casing. If it is flowing through the annulus between the production casing and the well bore he will cement that first. Then he will mill through the production casing and fill that with cement.

The big problem is that the BOP is 5,000 feet lower than his drilling platform. He needs a mud weight high enough to maintain pressure control, but it can't be too heavy or he could fracture the formation. The weight of mud in his well is high enough to prevent a blowout, where the weight of oil in the WW and sea water in the gulf above is not. So to bottom kill the WW he needs to use heavier mud and he needs to put a major pressure pulse on the WW against the BOP until the mud gets high enough to start dropping the presSure at the BOP due to the increased average density of mud, oil & gas in the WW.

Any WUSS who still prefers using the RW over the static kill ought to look at the available HP John Wright has for his mud pumps!

Here are the smelling salts, it looks like you need them!



Smelling salts? Don't give me somthing to wake me up, give me something to knock me out.

The thought of how they were planning to overcome the pressure for the static kill came to mind when they annonced it. I thought they would need to make a running start at it, but I couldn't understand how they planned do it (via the choke and kill lines) and maintain necassary downward pressure without damaging "stuff".

Seriously, WOW!

Z -- You lost me a little with the terminology. So we're on the same page: csg = steel pipe. Liner: a short section of csg hung from the bottom of a previously run csg. Production csg = csg run from the bottom of the hole all the way back up to the well head. Slurry = any very viscous fluid be it mud. cmt or any other chemical.

A series of liners were run and cmtd in the hole before it reached total depth. At TD they ran production csg from the bottom of the hole back to the sea floor. Cmt was pumped out of the end of the drill pipe at the bottom of the hole and was pushed up the area between the prod csg and the rock. One could call this cmt a cmt slurry.

One of the big unknowns as far as the RW cutting into the annulus is whether there is cmt there and is it isolating the reservoir from the intersection point of the RW. The suspicion is that the intersected annulus is flowing or at least at the 11,900 psi formation pressure.

So salt bodies in the immediate area of the BP well. I suspect I missed part of your question. Ask again if you like.


I think we're on the same page.

Have you looked at the two schematic links Bruce shows in the thread above? I posted them last night but they got lost in the shuffle. I don't remember the footages but near the bottom of each diagram, the yellow, is referred to as "slurry". To me, that means a concrete mix. Am I looking at the legend incorrectly? The various colors do not seem to match in the drawings when compared.

Sorry if I've mixed up any of the terminology along the way, you guys play in the big boy world and sometimes there is different terminology. It just takes a little explaining.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. You guys are really awesome in my book.

With regard to the salt, there are domes all around the well site but not at the site itself. Of course, the Louann Salt formation underlies the whole region and forms the Sigsbee and Florida escarpments, so there's no escaping salt anywhere there. But my understanding is that the pay sand is Miocene and should therefore be well above the salt stratigraphically. For practical purposes it can be ignored for the problem well.

You can use Google Earth to see an overview of the salt domes, most of which have names. Just put in the well coordinates. I actually consider GE a part of my toolkit. It's useful for a quick and accurate overview of any region of interest.

Flange design is covered under ASME Section VIII mandatory appendix 2. A properly functioning pair of flanges must meet three design conditions. First, the bolt load must be enough to seat the gasket. This would appear not to be very large. However, the force to seat a gasket-spiral wound or ring type-can be enormous. The oil field is accustomed to using RTJ flanges because of the high pressures. This means the flanges must seat a metallic ring.

Second, the seal must not leak under internal pressure. The internal pressure will try to part the flanges so the bolt load must be able to seat the gasket and resist the internal pressure.

Third, the bolt load must resist any overturning moment. This moment is almost always caused by external loads from the piping. This is probably caused from the rocking of the upper stack causing an overturning moment.

If the bolts just can not develop enough total tension to resist all these loads and the flange will part causing leakage.

The new three-ram stack was tested to 15,000 psi before it was deployed, but that would have been done on a test rig with a "perfect" lower flange. The lower flange at the top of the existing wellhead is unlikely to be in as good a condition as the testbed flange was so there is always the possibility of small leaks even through the joint was properly gasketed.

I don't know if retorqueing the bolts holding the new stack onto the existing wellhead flange would reduce the leaks that have developed now that the joint has had time to "settle". It could be that the small leaks are considered acceptable given the effort required to get an ROV in to access the boltheads with a suitable torqueing driver. I expect the leaks will be closely monitored anyway in case they get worse.

The leak at the HC connector is above where it connects to the newly installed transition spool and it's a hydraulic coupling - there are no bolts to tighten here.

I think there are conflicting reports on where the leaks occur. The hyd. line is one area but I think there is a leak on a phlange connection also. If sand seeped into the phlange leak area they can torque the bolts until the cows come home and it's still going to leak.

The installation process wasn't in te cleanest work environment so I can imagine why the leaks occur. I have a difficult time accepting the hydraulic fitting leak though.

See my post above, different place.


I'm confused about what will happen with the pressure if they decide to do the static kill. Heading out and Kent Wells say it will drop. Why is that?

In the transcript of Admiral Allen's press conference yesterday, he says a pressure drop would indicate problems with the well. But I can't understand what he means by the next sentence.

"One of the things that could help if there is a problem with the well bore and we had a drop in pressure because we were putting the mud in, we would know with virtual certainty that there was a compromise in the well bore. It really couldn’t tell us that. If there is no drop in pressure, what we’ve done is we’ve probably enhanced our chances to especially kill it from the bottom because we already had mud into the column and it’s done part of the job we’d have to do anyway to kill the well from the bottom."

Can anyone clear this up for me?

The first few minutes that they apply more mud will increase the well pressure slightly, after that the mud will drop the pressure by it's weight against the oil in the well shaft, and all the extra mud added will not increase the well pressure at the top of the well, but lower it as it presses down on the oil in the well with it's higher weight. This will increase pressure at the bottom of the well which is what some concerns are based on.

Thanks! That was very helpful.

Admiral Allen is a little hard to follow as his grammar is a bit disjointed. When he gets into technical areas involving oil wells he is outside of his vocation and is just doing his best to convey something he was told that he may not understand that well himself. You just have to cut him some slack and try to filter what he says and compare it with what the others are saying.

That particular paragraph doesn't make a lot of sense. It has a high gobbltygook content.

I think that the transcripts come straight from a court reporter's raw data.That is usually translated by computers now and often comes up with silly transcriptions. I would think they could spend 10 mins and let the court reporter edit the transcriptions.

In the rush transcripts of the DWH hearings "cement" was frequently transcribed as "seamen". One sentence read something like.

Q: Can you tell us what you were doing at the time

A: I was pumping seamen.

Reminds me of the old joke, what is long, hard, round and full of SEAMEN? A submarine.

Edit: New Navy, gals on boomers yet?

Reminds me of the old standard input given to test speech recognition algorithms, which was typically transcribed "Can you wreck a nice beach?" I suppose the correct answer now is: Yes, we did.

LOL! That could have come out worse!

He kind of talks that way when you listen to audio interviews too. You just have to get used to listening to him and piecing together what he is trying to convey. I don't fault him for not being totally on top of the technical stuff either. It is not the field he was trained for or experienced in to my knowledge. We just need to reconcile what he says with what the technical guys are saying and not dissect every word he utters.

Reuters just came out with a long profile of Thad Allen (really, of the Administration response in general, but starring him):


You know how to dig up the gems. I still have a Molly grin today.

One of the problems we hear in Thad Allen's breifings is he chooses his words carefully in his attempt to present the technical data. The opposite is true in what we hear in a BP breifing. BP chooses their words carefully to insure we don't know what they know.

Someone may help me out here but I don't think the Obama administration has an oil industry rep with technical experience to counter what BP has been laying out. It seems (based on presentation) the info presented comes after a vote on how accurate BP's info presented to them seems to be or what they believe. I know plans need to be changed but with all the plan changes there needs to be better/clearer explanations of why the plan changed. After the last spool/BOP device was installed the processing was suppose to be started to capture 100% of the oil. The preparation for capture has been delayed along with the RW1 processes and BP has p***ed away another week.

I have been around long enough to know when info is being witheld due to the lack of a need to know. On the same token I can disseminate langauge presented to cover a major ****up.

OK off the rant, grinning again thanks to Molly.

Yes, that particular transcript has a number of oddities. I've wondered, too, about why somebody doesn't do a quick scan of the transcripts from Allen's and Wells' briefings - they should be able to at least eliminated the Noah's and Elijah's.

I know I am a noobie, but Allen always confuses me with his vague and abiguous info.......to me it leaves alot open to interpretation (course it could be since I no next to nothing about DW drilling), but I would prefer more precise data from him if he has it, or could it be he's doing it on purpose kinda like CYA???

In regards to this particular stmt, I would defer to others on here that it's way over my head.

They remind me of the explanations given to people in the movie Men in Black just after their memories were erased with the Neuralizer. Something about swamp gas being reflected off the light from Venus ;-)

OMG~That is so true, I had totally forgotten about those movies but that is a pretty accurate assesment IMO.

In his defense,remember it was decided that the Unified command head would be the spokesman. Allen is often running around from town to town meeting with a whole lot of people and probably has little time so he has to be a quick study for these briefings. Although more technical than the average person, he probably does not get the time for detailed briefings and input so he goes from memory ,often off the cuff. Given all that, I think he does pretty well. As long as both are aligned I think having him go out to demonstrate he is in charge and making sure every thing is being considered etc, then having Wells followups that fill in technical aspects works.
Mummy: Even the best speakers have difficulties outside their specialty e.g "Profit to Earnings ratios" (Our Prez)

LOL, did he really say profit/earnings ratio???? My kids know what a PE ratio is, but prolly cause they grew up a trading floor...but I think he can ony speak well with a teleprompter.

I understand what you said about Allen saying things off the cuff~I just want him to be less vague if possible.....

Yep he said it. But then again Ms. Pelosi said it was time to get off fossil fuels and look at thing like wind, and natural gas.

Not as funny as Quail with the:"I took Latin in high school so I will be able to understand the issues in Latin America."

Remember the state rep in Texas arguing against bilingual ed. "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ it is good enough for our kids."

Bu then there was the (true) English sign in the window at the gynecologist office in Rome : "We treat woman and other diseases"

I grew up in Seoul. The No. 1 Shirt Shop had no 'r' in their sign for years. Seems Koreans have no equivalent for an 'R' and the G.I.'s sure weren't going to tell the owners. Besides, all the tourists stopped there for photos. The owners probably found out long ago and kept it for the advertising.

My cousin worked for an advertising company. She organised a large t-shirt run for a publicity campaign and the had a slogan about t-shirts on them. When they came in they realised she had made that spelling mistake. Didn't keep that job.


delete repeat

The Admiral is not very articulate and he doesn't understand the oil lingo well enough to realize he's botching a statement. He's trying. I seldom listen to him because he makes me farishimelt. (Old term from Mad Magazine - kinda dates me).

clueless: The paragraph in quotes is gobbledygook to me, but that's often what happens when spoken words get written down. Hopefully it would make more sense if you listened to it. Or maybe he misspoke or the transcriber made an error.

The basic ideas are:
1) Assuming for the moment that there are no significant leaks in the well (that, of course, is the big unknown), then there is no flow of stuff anywhere in the well, which makes it is relatively easy to think about the pressure.

2) The pressure at the top of the well, where they have their pressure sensors, is less than the pressure at the bottom of the well (where they would dearly like to have a pressure sensor but don't) because the weight of the column of oil in the well bore pushes down.

3) Replacing the oil in the well with a denser (heavier)"mud" will therefore reduce the pressure at the top of the well, which would be a good thing given that there are some little leaks in the apparatus.

4) But, to replace the oil with mud from above would require applying some pressure to force the mud in and push the oil back down the well. This would not be a problem if the well were undamaged, but nobody knows how damaged the well already is.

5) A question that has been debated here somewhat vigorously during the past few days is: How much extra pressure would need to be used to force mud into the well from above at a reasonable flow rate? Some folks would say only a few hundred psi, others think it would be much more. That's another big unknown. As Kurt Wells and others here have said, once the mud starts getting into the well, it's weight will reduce the pressure at the top, so the pressure at the top may be elevated only briefly during the "static kill" operation. If the well survives, and heavy mud of the correct weight is in the well bore and nothing is flowing, then the situation should be stable and the pressure at the top will be equal to the surrounding water pressure and the situation will be much improved. But that's several ifs.

6) If there are currently one or more big leaks down below, then everything gets a lot more complicated. That's why the Admiral has that deer-in-the headlights look when he talks about the static kill.

That is a pretty good synopsis. Except... regardless if the mud is pumped in the bottom or the top, the pressure at the bottom of the hole ends up the same: The exact pressure of the oil in the reservoir plus perhaps a small extra margin to insure it stays there. At the bottom of the well the pressure on inside of the casing should be roughtly neutral with ambient pressure around it, and the kill mud should not change that significantly. (Assuming it is done right.)

Where there could be a problem is if there is a hole in the casing into a deep formation above the pay zone and there is crossflow into that zone. The kill mud might disappear into that hypothetical formation at that point and the kill less than complete. Whether from the top or bottom or both they would still have to deal with that complication to finish the job permanently. But I stress that is purely a hypothetical situation that has been a subject of speculation.

We are just spectators in this anyway as they are (fortunately) not acting on advice from us.

Thanks Nubs and James. I am becoming less clueless but no less curious with the help of everyone at TOD.

Subsea operational update:

•The well integrity test is ongoing and active monitoring continues.
•Currently the well remains shut-in with no oil flowing into the Gulf; any significant change to this operation will be announced via a press release.
•Pressure continues to slowly increase and is approximately 6844 psi.
•We anticipate the next update will be provided at around 9:30am CDT on July 22, 2010.

Updated July 21 at 9:00am CDT


Noob question--what are the plausible interpretations of the slow, steady rise in pressure over several days? Very slow recharge of a depleted compartment in the reservoir? Faster recharge minus crossflow through the lower wellbore? Does it mean that any crossflow or other loss is relatively stable?

Does it mean that any crossflow or other loss is relatively stable?

Thanks for asking that ...

I've been wondering about something similar, ie Is it feasible for a leak to remain at such a steady flow that it allows the pressure to hold and even build slightly, albeit very slowly?


Tell us 1 thing you do not know about the technical aspects of getting to oil, gas and coal.

Just curious:-)

US BP (BP/ LN) claims administrator Feinberg says BP fund probably will cover health impacts of cleanup

15:54 21-07-2010

- details of escrow account ready in a few weeks
- ‘monumental tragedy’ if BP goes into bankruptcy

Chapter 11 would remove any "toxic links" to BP assets. Need I say more?

Can anyone help me with this? It's from the Kent Wells technical update of July 19.

>>There – we did see some bubbles not too far from the well head. They were very low rate. We did capture them in a sample and we’re looking to get some good lab analysis done on that. We did a really rough check on it, it was only I think around 15 percent methane which could be biogen. So we need to do the detailed analysis but we weren’t concerned about that.<<

When he says "15 percent methane" what does he mean? 15 percent of the sample was methane? And why does this indicate biogen? I'm not grasping this.


Until Rockman or someone like that comes on,Biogen means that it might be from much shallower sources then the well. Just silt rotting and producing gases.

Yes, thanks Sharkman. I get the part about rotting material making methane. I'm trying to sort out why the "15 percent" sample indicated biogen and not well leakage.

I thinking he is saying 15% methane content is consistent with gasses from decomposing matter in the mud, whereas gas coming up from the well would be close to 100% methane.

sharkey - Or as we call it in the bayous: swamp gas. But I wonder what the other 85% is....CO2, H2S?

Maybe at this depth the critters produce different gases then the ones at the surface?
edit- You know as much as I do about these animals, which is to say , very little.

I think BP have said it may contain nitrogen from the cement job - not sure if that is indicative of a problem or not?

Sharkman - no need to wait for Rockman - you have got it right. Biogenic gas is from a non-hydrocarbon source

Perhaps from decaying ROV droppings. Might have high metals content though.

Methane, a major constituant of natural gas, can be formed by bacteria in the shallow (upper few thousand feet) sediments. This is called "biogenic" gas. Or methane can be formed by heating organic material at substantially deeper levels ("thermogenic" gas). Sophisticated geochemical analysis (of carbon isotopes as I recall) can tell the difference. If the sample Wells was refering to is biogenic, that would imply it is not coming from the the well.

I was not aware that heating alone could create these gases,I thought that only biological factors could do that. Thanks Alaska.

Thanks Alaska_geo. So if it takes sophisticated geochemical analysis to tell the difference I still don't get why "15 percent methane" indicated biogen. LOL Maybe I'm missing something.

Sounds as if they think it is biogen since the methane is not a higher proportion, but they are doing more analysis. From Wells' 7/19 briefing:

There – we did see some bubbles not too far from the well head. They were very low rate. We did capture them in a sample and we’re looking to get some good lab analysis done on that. We did a really rough check on it, it was only I think around 15 percent methane which could be biogen. So we need to do the detailed analysis but we weren’t concerned about that.

One would assume they would go for a carbon 14 assay. If this was methane from ongoing breakdown of organic matter it would mean that the matter was essentially fresh - of the order of months or years old, and thus would have the same carbon 14 content (as a ratio) as the C02 in the atmosphere. Older material will have less C14, as dictated by the decay rate of C14. For this particular problem it is likely to be close to a binary answer - very new, or really really old. One would also assume that if the remaining 85% of the gas was CO2 that would be a pretty good indication that it was the result of a current decay process.

C 12 / C 13 ratio is used to test for biogenic carbon.


C 13 is really depleted in methane formed in the processes that form oil and gas deposits. This ratio (as well as that of the stable isotopes of Oxygen) are used to determine if calcites at some fossil localities are methane-seep related. Methane seeps are actually quite common on the continental slopes (see http://iod.ucsd.edu/courses/sio277/Seep.pdf) thus its quite possible that all they are seeing are methane seeps.

Okay. Thanks everyone. I get the impression you are saying that the "15 percent" was methane vs. the rest of the sample.

I thought the sample he was referring to was when the ROV at the lower wellhead held an upsidedown funnel, in the water, and it fed the bubbles into a container that was sent topside. That would indicate 15 percent methane mixed in with water and other things. But maybe he is referring to a different sample.



I read the headline about the RW breaking through by this weekend and thought that this is way to save $ by leaving the cap stack in place.
I was one of the commenters on the IRC making little jokes about boa 2 playing in the mud. It has always been obvious thruster on and off that stirred up the mud.

Hi Maude,

I'd have thought they'd want to recover the BOP so they could analyse it. I'm sure stacky will be removed.

There's been some good crab jokes today on IRC :)

The ROV operators know you are watching and are messing with you.

Next they are going to patch in vids of Godzilla.

I am beginning to suspect that they like to throw up silt.


BP reduces number of boats skimming oil in Gulf
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - BP says it has reduced the number of boats skimming for oil in the Gulf of Mexico by more than a quarter. The move comes after BP stopped oil from barreling into the Gulf of Mexico last week. ...

The smaller boats and certain types of skimming equipment only operate inshore or nearshore, and there's little oil left to be skimmed in coastal Alabama and Florida--pending a shift in the wind. They could probably use more large skimmers that can stay offshore for long periods. However, since there are no more heavy concentrations of oil, skimming (and burning) will become progressively less efficient.

Seacor Washington (equipped with the Dutch skimming arms) has been in port for a week. I wonder if the arms were reinstalled on another vessel, or, lacking that, what has gone wrong. The 60' yellow arms are very conspicuous and three vessels are supposed to have been carrying them. I always look for them in distant images of the CoS but have never seen one in action.

Great, all the oil on the GOM must be gone.

Why do they have any skimmers?

I think I must be staying up too late watching ROV images, but I was surprised when I opened an email about "containment solutions" this morning and discovered this:

I have to thank those folks at PETCO for unintentionally helping me maintain my sense of humor.

BP (BP/ LN) could continue work on relief well and start static kill of Gulf leak by this weekend if weather doesn't force a delay - US govt.

11:15 21-07-2010

[ed] Anybody see confirmation that the USG has now approved going forward with static kill?

>>Apologies if this one has drifted out to far – delete if needs be.<<

Reply to rightsizedglass on comment thread 6754 .

I was alluding to a possible cause of the original accident as discussed on the previous thread. Failure of equipment at high pressure would be explosive.

I do not know if so called ‘water hammer’ effects would affect the well – it is a different medium in a different context at vastly different pressures and temperatures. You are in the realm of fluid compressibility – (the more complex equations!) as well as a variably dense liquid in a column in pipe of varied size and modulus in a geologically varied strata. This situation is, as I understand it, controlled by static processes by introducing denser material (mud) into the top of the column that eventually counters the well pressure by virtue of its physical weight. One of the hypothesis put forward is that a lighter less dense fluid got into the column and allowed the well contents to escape, causing the blowout in the first place.

Water hammer in pipes is solved by having accumulators, throttle valves and non-linear actuators; these are not ‘slam valves’ that would allow a too rapid shut off for the flow/pressure in that system.

From this threads info, it looks like a decision on reintroducing mud to the column known as ‘topkill’ is immanent.

Note to TOD: Do you remember that idea of limiting the number of posts per person per day, and encouraging more ‘off list’ discussions? There’s a lot of heads running loose out there… mine included!


Can someone explain in very simplistic terms why they are 'killing the well'?

It seems to me that it would be better, since they've gone to all this trouble that they would want to recoup whatever money they can? Why would they abandon it now?

If they've got the original well sealed (more or less) why would they not produce the well from the relief wells?

Thank you, especially for your patience with all of us nubes!

loree -- Very dangerous to try to produce this well long term. So many inknowns about csg conditions at depth. The reservoir is almost certainly damaged to some degree so that adds great uncertainly. It might cost several $100 million plus to establishe production facilities. No one would risk that money on a well the could collapse any day. In fact, many of us are truly amazed the well hasn't collapsed by now.

Time for a new post called RM's FAQs.

RM, Job was reputed to have had great patience.

Methinks thine is greater.

RM, Could the reservoir "partialy" collapsed? And that explain why the 6844 psi is lower than the 7500 to 9000 expected?

Thanks for all your great posts.

Ron - If the formation pressure has dropped significant the rock may well have partially collapsed/compressed. Some years ago I drilled a deep sandstone reservoir that had been severely pressure depleted. As a result the sand grains had to fully support the weight of the rocks above it. Prior to depletion the fluid between the sand grains supported much of this weight. The rock was essentially crushed. Prior to production it could have been drilled at a rate of 80’/hour or faster. When I drilled it we couldn't cut it faster than 5’/hour.

Another form of potential reservoir damage is “fines migration”. Tiny clay particles in the sandstone break loose and plug the pore throats between the sand grains. This can greatly alter the flow and pressure transmission through the rock.

As far as pressures seen and expected I'm just not too comfortable. Modeling this situation is difficult enough if the data is correct and you have all the details. I just haven't been convinced we've been given all we need to make a solid interpretation.

In fact, many of us are truly amazed the well hasn't collapsed by now.

This caught my eye, as yesterday I was going through the (now former) MMS records, and found that Chevron & Texaco held the lease on MC252 from 1997-2007. Dominion became the operator, and their POE from 2004 discussed blowout, and stated the risk was low because they expected any blowout to bridge over fairly quickly (p 31 of pdf). This wasn't in BP's POE though.

User -- Interesting. But I have to say that "they expected any blowout to bridge over fairly quickly" doesn't make me feel too proud of our industry. That's sort of like saying if I accidentally shoot you in the leg you'll probably clot quickly and not bleed to death. I would be embarrassed to put such a statement in my POE.

Of course the problem for BP is that they have a cased hole blow out and not an open hole one like C & T were describing.

The "discovery" well is also the blowout well, and the casing is severely compromised near the productive zone.

Many times the relief well is later sidetracked to be the first productive well in the field, if the blowout well was also the discovery well.

The problem for many of these offshore fields is the "compartmentalization" or isolated reserves. The decision to set up production facilities quickly gets into political territory, and this is before the blowout complicated everything. Rumor also has it that the offset lease holders wanted to participate in a joint development on the play, but the offers didn't work out (further rumors said that BP rebuffed the partnership proposals). The Federal waters have a "law of capture" and it will be interesting if the seismic event that this well was drilled on, that rumor has it extends to the other offsetting blocks (just not the high spot that's on BP's acreage), will be developed by the offset operators. BP won't be able, either politically or legally, to set up production facilities, so the offset operators may yet drill and capture the downdip reserves, as BP is no longer in the position to quickly drain any reserves from their updip position.

Rumor further has it that there could be additional zones deeper than the blowout well managed to reach.

Per HO

"Their evaluation of the situation is bound around a full collection and compilation of the existing evidence, a comprehensive and contemplative understanding through a scientific explanation of the causes of whatever anomalies and other behavior that is not following the model anticipated, and subsequently then working out the best steps forward and determining the potential benefits relative to alternative approaches."

While I understand HO's concerns about the relative "slowness" of the decision making about what to do next, I would be interested in hearing from the experts here what the pace should be and the decision they would make given a kind of unprecedented and in many ways anomalous set of circumstances and results.

Sorry Elie, I didn't mean to tread on your toes. I hadn't read your post until I had posted mine (it takes me much too long to peck out my contributions(?).

My experience would say they are gong as fast as they reasonably can be expected to go. They made the decision not to do a static kill, if they decide to, until the casing is set an tested in the RW. They know they wanted time to see how the pressure buildup curve rate declines and they want another round of seismic. My guess is that as always they are proceeding on multiple tracks and looking at how the weather may or may not delay things.
They can't make the casing run go faster, the buildup go at a different rate, or control the weather. There are a wide variety of very smart people "devils advocating " one another and developing all sorts of scenarios.
Of course there are so many different interests to please, egos to satisfy, and views to consider that along with a generous splash of politics thrown in might cause thing to be a bit more complicated than some would want.

I think Dan, that is a pretty comprehensive reply that I appreciate. Its sometimes hard to track all the progress or activities and make sense of where they belong in this process and then interpret how things are going from that information. What you state makes sense -- its still for me pretty challenging and nerve racking -- keep hoping that things work out and no new highly anomalous event evolves to take this back into more serious nail biting. Thanks

A couple comments for Heading Out.

I'm surprised that no one has commented about your editorial comment re: "doing testes with scientists." Lots of people would agree with you that it is "sick", but "tea baggers" of whatever stripe might take exception to it.

More to the point of your introductory comments regarding your concerns about layers of oversight and the resultant impact on sound and timely decision making.

I suspect that you are mirroring some of the attitudes that were apparently affecting the discussions on DWH on April 20th. Unfortunately this is a common human condition, and the reason why protocols are developed for such situations, so that decisions can be made with an appropriate balance between timeliness and reflection.

This situation, as has been pointed out before ad nauseum, is unique enough (primarily through a lack of foresight) that there apparently are no protocols being applied (even though there may be some generic ones that might be effectively applied).

David - Protocols: the best of ideas...the worst of ideas. We always need a plan. And most drilling protocols do follow well established safe drilling practices. But then there's reality and all those little variables/uncertainties. I can't guess the 100's of times I've seen drilling hands deal with the choice of following a pre-drill protocol or doing what they think is proper/safe. I constant lecture my drilling supervisors: You have procedures. Follow them to the letter unless you think they're wrong. Then we'll talk about it. If there's no time for a discussion: do what you think is the right/safe thing to do. If you think the protocol is right and it fails that's on me. But follow a protocol that you think is unsafe and someone gets hurt/killed I'll run your ass off on the spot. Or use the excuse that you just followed procedures you thought were wrong because you were ordered to do it: I'll run you off on the spot AND do everything in my power to make sure you never get another job on a rig. The man supervising ops on the well site is responsible for the hands and the environment...period. There are times when a conference call won't cut it. You have to have a hand running things that not only knows how to handle the job but also knows he's got the authority and support of management when he has to make those quick decisions.

Obviously not all managers share my view. Most of them have spent little time working on a rig. It’s easy for me to stay with my philosophy. About 33 years ago I helped a company man carry the body of a dead drilling hand off the floor. Makes it very easy to follow safe drilling procedures regardless of the expense.

"Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools."

Sir Douglas Bader WW II Fighter Ace


Again, you do good work. You're the kind of boss I would want to work for if I didn't like being my own boss so much (in spite of the frequent arguments between me and me).

I like innovation, but accept that if I don't follow best practices and fail, I'm up sh*t creek. As a consequence I try to innovate only when it's only my life on the block.

Unfortunately incidents like that death only have a sobering effect for those who can look beyond their own self-interest. Glad to hear you're not one of them, especially after all that experience. The world needs more people like you, so keep spreading the word.

Thanks David. Reading my post I fear I got a little too emotional. Sorry about that chief. Obviously it's a very touchy subject for me. Early on I think I bothered some of our folks by laying a very heavy burden on the rig site managers...maybe even some who didn't survive the explosion. I have also known the pressure of trying not to piss off the managers back on the bank. Regardless of those pressures it's very difficult for me to garner much sympathy for bad decisions that kill and damage the environment on the scale we see today.

If you think I irritate some folks by shoving personal responsibility down their throat you should talk to my 10 yr daughter. I don’t think I’ve gotten the classic “Because” answer back from her since she was 4 yo or so. LOL

I never worry about the ones who show emotion, I worry about the ones who show no emotion. One of the most important lessons I've learned in my work is that while actions are important because they have consequences, what is behind the actions is far more important, because understanding the thoughts and emotions that drive decisions and other actions is the only way we can effectively move forward from fault and blame, which are inherently static and therefore sterile responses to problematic behaviors.

Someone once said "good judgment comes from experience which comes from bad judgment." What they didn't say is that taking responsibility is the catalyst which changes experience into good judgment.

The more that those of us who are in positions of authority punish beyond the natural consequences of actions the more we reduce the likelihood that people who have made bad judgments will take the responsibility that will present them with an opportunity to make the future better than the past.

Sorry for the sermon - ever since I flunked kneeling in seminary I've been a frustrated but nevertheless defrocked minister, and make others pay for my frustration.

You certainly don't irritate me with it, it is something that should be hammered into more people IMHO, especially many of the people around where I live. If those visiting TOD can take some of it away with them then you have done something good.


Their evaluation of the situation is bound around a full collection and compilation of the existing evidence, a comprehensive and contemplative understanding through a scientific explanation of the causes of whatever anomalies and other behavior that is not following the model anticipated, and subsequently then working out the best steps forward and determining the potential benefits relative to alternative approaches.

The problem I see with this mindset is that the outside overseers can lose sight of the fact that they're never going to have a full set of evidence from which to work but that they have to move forward anyway. MC252B is an exploration well. What was known about it before it was shut in were what rock types were above the pay horizon (from cuttings and from electric logs), the formation pressure at the moment the well kicked, and maybe what the target looked like on a seismic section (was this location chosen because gas was visible on the section?). The condition of the hole was not known in detail.

The only way to get more information was to shut in the well and watch what happened. dimitriy gave us a good illustration of the scientist's approach to a poorly-constrained engineering problem. It was not appropriate that the test be run as a tightly-controlled experiment with strict criteria for deciding success or failure. Too little was known about the properties of the reservoir and about the condition of the reservoir for that protocol to give the best result. The proper choices were to not perform the experiment at all or to use an exploratory approach, to try it and see what happened. The engineers did not cynically change the criteria in mid-experiment. They treated it as an open-ended experiment and followed the data to see whether they pointed to an acceptable result, whether or not that result was a good match for the model they had in mind when the experiment began.

Let me show what the test results might mean with a GUESS about what's down there. It's possible that this reservoir is small, is isolated by shale on all sides, and is pressurized by whatever gas is trapped in it. If a gas bubble from the top of the reservoir has been venting to the surface for the last three months it's possible that the reservoir has lost pressure, permanently or semi-permanently. That could explain why the shut-in pressure is 2000 PSI lower than it might have been.

That the pressure has recovered steadily since the well was closed makes me GUESS that it's unlikely that the pressure drop is dynamic, that it's not caused by a leak or by cross-flow to another formation at much lower pressure. I'd expect such a leak to erode its channel and run away, making the well pressure drop dramatically rather than rise slowly and steadily.

math is not my strength but US Scientists estimate the gusher was 60,000 barrels a day for 90 days, and there are 42 gallons to a barrel, so then that comes out to 226 million gallons of oil gushed out into the Gulf so far. If this is true then why do all the news articles say that the spill was 84 to 184 million gallons gushed out... i am confused

Because they did not say that was there best guess. They have given a range and the range changed after the riser cut. Allen has said 35 k is more likely (after riser cut). Rate may have changed substantially from beginning to top kill to riser cut. Remember that the 800,000 Barrels that have been captured also have not "gushed into the Gulf" . Having said that, even 1000 barrels is a problem.

How is 1000 barrels a problem when there are anywhere from 90k to 490k bbls seeping into the gulf naturally every year?

Obviously if there were 1000 barrels spilled every time anyone touched a rig, that would be an issue.


I am absolutely no expert here, but I would like to point out a few uncertainties.

First, the fluid coming out of this well is a mixture of "oil" and "gas", but for some purposes it is most relevant to talk about the amount of oil alone. For instance, when the fluid reaches the sea surface, the gas mixes with the air and gets diluted to the point that it does not do much immediate damage, while the oil is very problematic. There is a $4300 penalty for each barrel of oil, and I believe that penalty does not apply to the gas part. However, the early scientist estimates of 60,000 barrels per day were based on just the fluid velocity seen across the video images, with no attempt as I was aware of, of distinguishing between oil and gas.

Second, there is little reason to believe that the flow has been constant through all these weeks. It is more plausible that the flow may have increased as the restrictions holding back the flow have eroded.

Third, those with on-site equipment probably have a good grip on the amount of oil flowing, but they have not released their findings. The numbers you see in the media and elsewhere are questionable. Even if some of them were to turn out to have been well founded, the general public has few ways of knowing which are what.

Here on TOD there have been quite a few people that seem to be very knowledgeable, and who are deeply skeptical about figures as big as 60.000 barrels per day. They point out that very few wells produce nearly as much even when there is no cement plug (failed or not) at the bottom of the well and no partially closed BOP at the top of it.

I, (who really know nothing) have been intrigued by the statement by BP after the failed or interrupted top kill that they had been pumping up to 80 barrels of mud per minute. That makes 115000 a day! But later I have seen people quoting the number 40 barrels per minute, and I don't know where that number comes from. I later tried to find the original source, but I did not try all that hard, and I only found a reference to the 80 bpm on BBC, who attributed this number to BP. If the BOP and bent riser let through 80 barrels of mud per minute, how much oil/gas would it let through? Was the flow of oil essentially unrestricted through the BOP and riser, and only limited further down? If the BOP and riser were a restriction to the flow, then they would have had to inject the mud with a much higher pressure than the oil pressure below the BOP to achieve a much higher flow of mud out the leak. But if they achieved a higher pressure, then much mud should have found the way down the well, gradually filling the column and killing the well. Did they actually run out of mud, was that the problem?

Could the flow have eroded a channel in the formations outside the well casing wide enough to allow the well to produce/leak more oil than a normal well? But I have no background in oil, so my speculations are very likely to be completely unreasonable.

All of this makes it quite natural that writers will quote wildly different numbers for the size of the spill.

The info came from Kent Wells' video from Memorial Day. http://bp.concerts.com/gom/kentwellstechupdatelong053110.htm

The "circulating pressure" was above 10,000 psi. The flow mostly went through the BOP and out the riser, eroding it in the process. The distance through the riser was quite short compared to the 13,000 foot well and it is about 20" in diameter where the inside of the 7" production casing is about 6". So the flow resistance through the riser was tiny compared to that through the well and the bulk of the mud just took the easy way out. Reducing that flow path was the rationale behind the junk shot. My hunch is that they used junk with too high a specific gravity (the amount of methane reduces the SG of the oil/gas mixture quite a bit) and it sank rather than rising to clog the partially closed BOP.

The problem with the top kill is with such fine, silty particles it takes along time for them to fall to the bottom of the well. They got the flow to stop and began the wait to see if it worked. Anybody who has been paying attention lately knows that the shut-in pressure is higher than the pressure when the well is initially shut-in. So obviously, if it starts to flow, you need to give it a topping off "top kill pill". As the New York Times initially reported (before that redacted the offending paragraphs),that was the moment where Steven Chu chose to "stand athwart progress and yell Stop!" (paraphrasing Wm F Buckley).

If Chu had stifled himself the leak would have stopped before Memorial Day. There is more now oil in the Gulf of Mexico because of this unilateral decision by Chu than that which is solely the responsibility of BP. Nearly two months of leakage because he did not have the sense to know he was out of his depth and should shut up!

I am sure there is a body of knowledge on this already. I am not a student of it, so my thinking on this is in layman's terms, based on many years of doing and observing.

The general problem with risk, is that risk assessment is often not changed by results - another words, if you get lucky after taking a bad risk, the original decision is still a bad one. Our mind, however, is forever pattern seeking, so it appears that THAT risk was a good decision to take, because it panned out. It isn't, unless the process leads additional insight into system behavior, which can be used to modify original assessment and can be applied to future situations.

The problem is excarcebated by human propensity to celebrate luck, to elevate those who took high risk and did well to a status of a visionary. On the other hand the choices to stay with the good odds long term are often ridiculed as "over-cautious", "scared" or "weak".

The overall trend leads in many organizations to acceptance of higher levels of risk and a growth of a culture of optimistic interpretation - "error normalization", if you will. Both space shuttle disasters are very good examples of this behavior, with an addes "bonus" of showing how organizations trend in this direction even after catastrophic events. BPs behavior that has led to the original Gulf blowout is another pattern of cutting corners and taking risks, convinced that since it did not lead to disaster last time it will not lead to disaster this time.

Same with apparently done decision to go on with the bullheading effort very soon. If pressure X did not cause catastrophic failure, then pressure X plus delta X is probably OK too. The low pressure solution (RW) is now thought of as "too cautious", not immediate enough, not bold.

You've described the shade tree mechanic's strategy for choosing a torque setting: turn the bolt until it begins to strip, then back off a little.

Dimitry, Yes, what you write is all too true. And when one gets down to quantifying what exactly one wants to optimize when making risky decisions, things get even weirder. For example, let's say that you knew the probability of every possible thing that could happen, and could attach a numerical score (cost or benefit) to each. Then it would seem reasonable to choose a strategy that maximizes the average (expected) score. But, alas, this can lead to bizarre results in situations where there is a low probability of a very bad outcome (like what we have here; I know that you believe the probability of disaster to be not nearly as low as some others think). Many statisticians prefer instead to maximize the average logarithm of the score (the Kelly Criterion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_criterion). As mentioned in the Wikipedia article, Edward O. Thorp was among the first to popularize the Kelly formula as applied to card counting at casino blackjack, which is where I first heard about it. He later moved on to be a big player in the options market and as a hedge fund manager, and probably had a substantial influence in inventing the various financial derivatives that plague our financial system. Rumor has it that he did OK in the recent market turmoil (and that he recognized the Madoff Ponzi scheme early on), but I don't see that all of the fancy statistical analysis helped the stability of our financial markets, although it may have helped him.

Logarithm of probability score? Congratulations, you have just redefined a standard measure of entropy.

The human factors and the dynamics of organizations is in my view by far the most interesting part of the equation.

You can have layers of supervising bodies above the companies, but how do you know those supervising bodies do not evolve biases of their own? Such bodies may perhaps evolve very rigid rules and practices, could mindless application of rules create new dangers as bad as anything the companies do?

Ultimately all cost has its own danger. If the society spends a billion on safety precautions in the oil field, or on red tape associated with a safety regime, that is a billion less for safer roads, better hospitals, etc.

What should the top management in BP have done to ensure that the on-site leader is not flaunting precautions? If they monitor the details of the operation, they double the effort, and they need a new layer of top managers to do the real top management, as detailed monitoring of a single operation absorbs the capacity of the existing top management.

At a more individual-oriented level, I would add to your list the fallacy that being behind a schedule makes it more acceptable to take risks. This is really a fallacy, because the lost time is sunk cost, it does not come back. Your choices affect the future, not the past. Decision makers have to weight the risks of a procedure against the gains, that lie in the future, not in the past. This is exactly the same as any investment analysis. If you have lost a fortune on a particular stock, your decision to sell or buy should not depend on sunk cost but on the prospects of the stock rising or falling in value relative to its value today, not relative to a historical value. Similarly, if a general analysis dictates that in a situation of type X, a safety measure Y is appropriate, this does not change if you lost 100 years before arriving at situation X.

When reading about the alleged security failures associated with this disaster, I get a feeling that yet another mechanism is at play. They have a protocol that calls for 101 security measures. Then for each and every one of them they find they can skip this one because there are 100 others. It seems like they were unable to assess the cumulative effect on the safety of the operation of the total list of shortcuts taken.

Chinese oil doesn't sink.

Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water
1 hour, 16 minutes ago

Associated Press Writer

(AP:BEIJING) China's largest reported oil spill emptied beaches along the Yellow Sea as its size doubled Wednesday, while cleanup efforts included straw mats and frazzled workers with little more than rubber gloves.

An official warned the spill posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality as China's latest environmental crisis spread off the shores of Dalian, once named China's most livable city.

One cleanup worker has drowned, his body coated in crude.

"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu with environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent the day on a boat inspecting the spill.

"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press by telephone.

The oil had spread over 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water five days since a pipeline at the busy northeastern port exploded, hurting oil shipments from part of China's strategic oil reserves to the rest of the country. Shipments remained reduced Wednesday.

State media has said no more oil is leaking into the sea, but the total amount of oil spilled is not yet clear.

More: http://news.ino.com/headlines/?newsid=68972371867580

That's because on the other side of the planet gravity is pulling up. Thus the oil rises.

I thought it might be either because it's upside down there or that their oil is biotic. But not both, obviously.

Give the heavy fractions some time, and they'll start to sink.

n.b. the Chinese pipeline oil already had the gas removed, and it's flowing at low pressure onto the top of the water.

The BP well blowout has a lot of gas in it, and is/was being released under 5000 feet of water, which emulsifies and fractionates the oil, leading to a lot of fine drops in the water and emulsions with heavier fractions containing a lot of water that have neutral or negative buoyancy. Oil that does reach the surface in the nice warm GOM looses the smaller/lighter fractions, getting heavier and forming mousse/emulsions by wave action in that way too.

Fate & Behavior of Deepwater Subsea Oil Well Blowouts

NotAnOilMan posted in the previous thread:

Cheryl: I have seen some posts about methane becoming heavier than air when mixed with water vapour. It seems totally counter intuitive and I have found nothing that even gets near the subject. Do you have any input on this before I bite someone's ankles?

I am not a chemist, but I think you do not need to feed on people's ankles. I am supposing that we are talking about normal pressures and temperatures where people live. Then methane and water vapor do not react chemically to any appreciable degree, and each behaves much like inert ideal gas.

The concept of "ideal gas" is a mental construct, a hypothetical gas that behaves in a way that closely follows a particularly simple equation, as shown below. But it is an empirical fact that dilute and hot gases closely resemble "ideal gas", the more dilute and hot, the closer.

(But if a gas gets too hot, the molecules may regroup their constituent atoms into new kinds of molecules. Typically, methane burns. This may change the number of particles in the gas. If the gas get even hotter, the molecules disintegrate into separate atoms, and that greatly affects the gas behavior, this being reflected in the equation through the increase in the variable N, the number of particles. If the temperature goes even higher (thousands of degrees), even the atoms themselves disintegrate, and the forces between now free electrons and ions modify the behavior so that the equation no longer applies. The ideal gas law fits gases where the particles interact weakly or not at all beyond simply bouncing off each other when they collide.)

An ideal gas occupying a given volume at a given temperature and pressure, has a set number of particles (molecules), according to the ideal gas law, pV=NkT. Rework the equation to get the number of particles alone on one side of the equal sign, and you get N=pV/kT. In these equations, p=pressure, V=volume, T=temperature, and finally, k=Boltzman's contant, a constant parameter in the makeup of the universe. The point here is that no matter what the species of molecules, water vapor, methane, oxygen, nitrogen or any other, the number of particles in equal volumes at equal temperature and pressure is the same, N. So, the gas with the lighter molecules weights less.

Conversely, a given set of particles at a given temperature and pressure does occupy a set volume, V=NkT/p. If there are two kinds of molecules in the mixture, this does not matter as long as the molecules really behave as separate particles - not sticking together or any other such interaction.

Both methane and water molecules weight less (are less massive) than air molecules, so the mixture will be less dense than air. Methane CH4 weights 12+4=16 units. Water vapor, H2O weights 16+2=18 units. Nitrogen, N2 weights 2x14=28 units, and Oxygen, O2 weights 2x16=32 units, roughly.

If the methane and water vapor mixes with the air, that mixture will be less dense (lighter) than surrounding air without methane and water vapor. So a body of mixed air, methane and water vapor will tend to rise above a body of pure air provided the temperatures and pressures are the same. Pressures tend to equalize quickly. Temperatures not so quickly. I am not sure what scenario you were referring to, so you may have to work out if the methane mixture could be colder than the surrounding air in your scenario. If so, the mixture may end up being heavier, but only because of a lower temperature.

Thanks, again helps me know I am not messing up, has been a while since I calculated these :) The situation was that I pointed out, to one of the methane explosion crowd, that methane was lighter than air and would go up. He countered that it was heavier than air when mixed with water vapour. Thought that was nonsense and I wanted to check before replying but didn't manage to google anything so I popped the question to ensure I had things right first. Sigh,I wish a few others would check first :(


Hello from Germany !

I´m just a female greenhorn with a lousy english...silent reader of this forum.
Very good informations are coming out here, thanks a lot !

Now - half an hour ago - what happened on Boa Deep C Rov 2 ? The Text is : Recovering Top Hat ?

I do´nt know, what Rov´s you are able to watch on the same site. May be, this Link could be usefull for somebody :

Hi Lady, try this link for ROV views:
Your link crashed my FireFox, use Internet Explorer.

We can still use a scientific approach to understand aspects of global oil depletion, independent of what's going on in the Gulf. HO mentions taking a "leisurely" approach. He may have a different view of competitive scientific research than I do, but I see it as anything but leisurely. Perhaps slow and deliberative is the norm in geological science circles, i.e. see the history of plate tectonics theory.

I think HO is contrasting the kind of rigid, protocol following decision process of the academic scientific environment to the type of dynamic decision making such as what ROCKMAN describes while watching mud returns on a drilling rig.

On a drilling rig they have their own set of protocols that of necessity involve the ability to think on one's feet and act quickly when needed. The rigid adherence to protocols appropriate in a laboratory or academic setting will result in a lot of dead people if used on an oil rig.

HO's point is very clear and very appropriate to the situation.

...But they may be acting on an appropriate time line if they need to case the bottom of the RW before doing a static kill since the relief well is very close to the WW and they do not want to damage it at this point either. Multiple tracks at the same time, some of which we may not be aware of.

Either way this thing needs to be killed as soon as possible without needless analysis paralysis as the situation does not get better with time.

and from Wells' briefing yesterday it sounds as if they are parallel processing - using the time while the casing is going in the RW and they are finalizing their analysis of the pros & cons of attempting a static kill to identify and assemble the equipment and materials that would be needed for the kill. I assume they won't actually begin resetting the Q4000 for mud pumping until they get the go-ahead.

(and remember that the work on expanding the containment capacity is also continuing, although more slowly due to the movement of ships to allow the seismic and sonar scanning.0

I was trying to change the discussion topic away from a trivial application of science - solving a specific technical problem, to something more comprehensive. That path is the hsrder slog, IMO.

In my experience, protocols are almost never used in academic scientific environments. Personally, I have gravitated to protocol-like plans in my lab to help structure complex experiments and encourage detailed planning. But these protocols are just starting points in most cases. They are also useful to aid record keeping because only changes to the plan need to be noted, rather than the full procedure.

The risks involved in academic research can also be quite substantial. I am in chemistry and an accident or poor decision from a graduate student could easily burn down a building or poison dozens of people.

I think he specifically excepted competitive scenarios, hubble, where one scientist or group is aware of someone else working on the same idea. (Watson & Crick vs. Pauling is probably the best-known example.) But the general principle he was describing is that, when real emergencies or major decisions don't depend on an experiment's outcome, the sense of urgency to complete them and analyze the data is generally less. That's a long way from calling scientists lazy or unmotivated. HO simply made the point that timelines are not always so strict in research. Where there are commercial concerns (like especially in genetics), speed is generally at more of a premium.

In the case of applying science to a practical engineering problem like this--and especially when the problem is a large-scale disaster--timeline is everything, even more so when most solutions take weeks or months to enact. We enter bad-plan-quickly-executed-better-than-perfect-plan-slowly-executed territory, particularly when several different plans can be pursued simultaneously.

Completely agree with this. SOP for science research is "all deliberate speed." One wants to turn every stone to make sure something not previously seen hasn't been missed. That's how discoveries are made, so rushing is foolish. OTOH in an emergency, you said it.

Still chuckling about HO's passing on the transcription error re what BP is doing with scientists!

Name a geologist working on the larger oil depletion problem at any speed, deliberate or not.

There is another side to risk assessment as well. The option currently being pursued, seems to be the "fast, bold" choice, at a cost of elevated risk. However, as a result of the "bold, fast" path chosen, the lower risk, "longer term" option has been further delayed:

* The pressure test and monitoring has delayed BP's plan to assemble a four-vessel oil-capture system that can handle up to 80,000 barrels a day by the end of July, Allen said. "At some point we will have to make a decision" on whether to stop the test and work to get that system in place.

This kind of "boring" stuff usually gets reported way low on the importance scale. Exciting, high risk stuff first, boring lower risk stuff last.

Of course you assume that your evaluation of risk with limited data is better than that of the diverse team who have all the data and scenarios. You make general speculations about BP that may or may not be related to the way the Unified Command(or BP in this process) is making decisions. One of the biggest problems with
the brain is getting stuck in tracks that inhibit new and different approaches. The makeup of this team probably is a positive as far as that goes. Every decisions has to use current information. Once one get s to a new node the past process and path and reasoning for it may become obsolete. Battle plans and war games often are etched in stone but change once the war starts.
As I used to say to our management: "What's this week's five year plan?"

Okay Dimitry, you were there for the discussion about why putting the new capping stack was a boon for the RW operation due to the difference in elevation (5,000 ft!!!!!!). Put on youR thinking cap.

When John Wright breaks through from the RW to the WW he is going to have to pump his mud like crazy with huge horsepower pumps because he has a de facto loss of circulation incident.

That horsepower is going to thrust the oil in the well upward creating one helluva pop at the BOP. So if you are a wuss who wants the BOP exposed to the lowest pressure pulse possible, you want "Lubricate and Bleed" (a version of static kill where you bleed out the O&G from the choke line located higher than the kill line - e.g. a rough and ready distillation column). If you put in the same gpm via the kill line that you take out with the choke, you eliminate the need for a high pressure differential to get the mud to flow into the well. Nature abhors a vacuum, the mud fills the vacuum created by the vacating O&G.



Why don't you just do the numbers?

I did and found they don't need a large backup pressure from the original wellhead to balance the 5000 ft of heigh difference.

The pressure they need - a bit over 3 ksi for a "perfect" mud mix, perhaps a little higher in practice - they already held for months at the upper wellhead (4.4 ksia). Which is why they realy did not need to do the "well integrity test".

The exact operation of the RW procedure, I think, would be very dependent on exactly where the RW intersects the WW. If it is low, there doesn't appear to be a need to "pump like crazy" - the mud weight may already be close enough to counteract the oil/gas pressure.

Dimitry, I agree and if BP was mandated to stay with the plan the capture system would be in place. If there was a need to reduce flow from the WW to assist the RW operation they could do so. If there was a need to disconnect due to weather then they could do that also. If testing well integrity was necessary they could do that also and all the necessary equip would be in place while the sonar ops took place.

There are many possibilities that need examination and I will say again I'm not into the conspiracy theories, gloom or doom but if serious problems did develop around the well head or sea floor then there would be a system in place to capture the oil.

BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (WALA) - About two dozen men and women with the Vessels of Opportunity program crowded around the back of a pick-up truck in Bayou LaBatre Wednesday, to hear a VOO official tell them they were technically "Off Hire".

One fishermen told FOX10 News a better term would be, "You're all fired."

The VOO program went into a BP ordered stand down Wednesday morning. A VOO official said it was an emergency 120 hour evacation of boats because of a tropical system in the Caribbean.

Also a link to article about the storm:


Emergency evacuation? This thing is over the Dominican Republic, hasn't started rotation and is moving ~5-10 miles an hour.

From Jeff Masters' blog:

A tropical wave (Invest 97L) near the north coast of Hispaniola has been disrupted by interaction with the island, plus the effects of moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. The storm is no longer a threat to develop into a tropical depression today, and the Hurricane Hunter flight that was scheduled for today has been postponed until Thursday.
I think there is a 70% chance 97L will eventually become Tropical Storm Bonnie, sometime in the next five days. Sudden rapid development before 97L reaches Florida is unlikely, due to the storm's current state of disorganization and the dry air over the Bahamas. It's very unlikely that 97L has time to organize into a hurricane before hitting Florida. I put the odds of 97L making it to hurricane strength before reaching Florida at 5%, and I give a 20% chance it will be a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The probability of 97L being a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico will depend heavily upon how long the storm spends over water in the Gulf, which is very uncertain. The environment in the Gulf of Mexico should be favorable for intensification, if passage over Florida does not disrupt the storm too much.

I see wave heights near the spill are up in the past 24 hours to above 5 feet. Possible a little rough for skimmers which need calm seas to be effective. It would be unrelated to that tropical thing trying to develop off DR though.


James, looking at both the real time buoy feeds that are showing increased wave heights and the degree to which the remaining oil has spread out with no location of "heavy" any more, I would think that skimming would be getting to the "diminishing returns" range pretty quickly. For what its worth, the higher wave energy,the winds coming out of the north by Friday, and the major eddy having crept far north there could be a good situation where oil both breaks up and gets caught in the eddy in the next week.

it was an emergency 120 hour evacation of boats because of a tropical system in the Caribbean

Maybe they didn't read the latest update. That must be it.

Unfavorable upper-level winds and the effects of the high terrain of Hispaniola have disrupted the structure of the tropical wave this morning...Although the wave is currently disorganized and development is not anticipated today, upper-level winds could become a little more favorable on Thursday. There is a medium chance, 50 percent, of this system becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.

Breaking news from godlikeproductions.com:

That whole area is so full of methane, it is a methane sea all around that area. You can see it is saturated, does not take a scientist to see that.

"That whole area is so full of methane, it is a methane sea all around that area. You can see it is saturated, does not take a scientist to see that."

This event has exposed an entirely new (to me) human element of stupid that I will likely never understand.

Some people "enjoy" making this stuff up to frighten people and some people actually make money out of it.

Hmmm... Maybe we should go into business selling METHANE SHELTERS! LOL!

...and methane suits for when you have to venture outside of your methane shelter. There seems to be a huge market.

I never got past ALERT Statue of Liberty Evacuated followed by Texting live from the Statue of Liberty.

Edit: Why did these vapors not dissipate?

The oil vapours are heavy and were not dissipated by the wind. The article mentions the wind. Worth noting the position of the deck house in the first and last pictures. ISTR they use inert gas to fill the tanks on unloading to help prevent these sort of things.


Just guessing-- the vapor-air mixture being displaced by pumped-in seawater was cooler than the air above the deck?

James -- we actually have them already and they are cheap. In some situations we'll carry them in a little pouch on our belt. Not a whole suit of course. It's an EBD...emergency breathing device. Has a protective hood and a mouth piece. Will only keep you alive for 5 or 10 minutes but that enough to get you out of harms way.

It would be a horrible cruel joke but you could stand at intersections in some towns along the coast and make a fortune selling them at big markups to folks when they stop for the red light.

I think just plain stupid is at work here.

Absolutely~the one I am talking about has several FB pages, and a youtube site and got fired from his job (he says) for not putting the job first? Anyway the following he has is huge and they are sending him money like there is no tomorrow and I guess since most believe him about the methane Tsunami they prolly think there isn't. Anyway he reportedly rec'd ~$4,000.00 that one week from the sheep, so I'm thinking of selling methane tsunami insurance or respirators with a 300% markup, and maybe some land in Iowa for another 300% markup, it really is scary to see all these morons falling for this con-artist fashioned as a hero/warrior LOL.

Let's do a 'Save the Gulf Walruses' web site to get some contributions for the on going project. TFHG, whatcha think?


Believe or not fraud will be the new DUI in terms of socially unacceptable crimes. I think the folks realize fraud will cost the environment too, and that is unacceptable. We can learn from our mistakes. Besides, I need to be poor in order to get my master's degree cheap. It does make it easier to handle.

First, I have to finish my celebrity wine-and-cheese fundraiser to stop the senseless clubbing of baby Gulf Walruses on Padre Island during the sanctioned annual hunt for the fur trade (the titled sponsor has been BP). Lady Gaga has already pledged her support for our cause and has released a public statement saying, "You'll never catch me wearing Gulf Walrus fur, so f*** off!"

We thank her for this bold pledge. We are also hoping LiLo will join our cause soon but we haven't been able to reach her today.

We have every expectation that our leadership in this very worthy cause will mean that there will not be hunt of baby Gulf Walruses next year. Our confidence is high.

Our goal is to help strengthen the huddle of endangered Gulf Walruses already rarely seen north of Joe T. Garcia’s in Ft. Worth.

A large portion of the money we raise will be going to fund the operations of our state-of-the-art rescue center that will feed newly-rescued baby Gulf Walruses Blue Bell ice cream until they can be reintroduced to the wild. Our funding needs are great because none of the baby Gulf Walruses rescued so far actually wants to be returned to the Gulf and give up the Blue Bell. Therefore our funding needs are great because the population of the center keeps growing and our Blue Bell bill is really getting out of hand.

We’re considering as our next project the funding of a 12-step program to get our Gulf Walruses off their Blue Bell habit or at least reduce it to reasonable levels.

Full disclosure demands that I reveal that we're being investigated by the NYT as a possible front organization secretly paying for the personal consumption of the frozen dairy product by our center's Field Director, Rockman.

While we do NOT admit this as fact, our Board of Directors is considering this as a potential worthy cause too.

However, details aside, I will have a donation link posted here shortly.

ROFL, mod that one up


It's like sitting around the fire, telling ghost stories to the younger campers, and then sending them off to walk to their sleeping bags in the dark.

This event has exposed an entirely new (to me) human element of stupid that I will likely never understand.

Hence the term for that human element = Invincibly Stupid.

That is why you can never win an argument with them or use facts to convince them no matter how wrong they are.

edit - clarity

What does a methane sea look like when it's on planet Earth, or are they looking at TitanWeather.com?

(First reaction to that 'news' is 'point and laugh'.)

I know this has been discussed after the DougR post a while back, but I'll put it up again for those that missed it first time around.

It is not like godlikeproductions doesn't give us fair warning about their content. Their disclaimer is at the bottom of their home page. The problem is nobody ever reads these things and I'll bet that a fair number of people that visit their site never scroll down and read the disclaimer and think this is an alternative hard news site.

The reader is responsible for discerning the validity, factuality or implications of information posted here, be it fictional or based on real events.

Further down:

Not all posts on this website are intended as truthful or factual assertion by their authors. Some users of this website are participating in internet role playing, with or without the use of an avatar. NO post on this website should be considered factual information on face value alone. Users are encouraged to USE DISCERNMENT and do their own follow up research while reading and posting on this website.

And again even further down:

Some events depicted in certain posting and threads on this website may be fictitious

And, perhaps significant, even further down:

We do not discriminate against the mentally ill!

Not all posts on this website are intended as truthful or factual assertion by their authors. Some users of this website are participating in internet role playing

It just dawned on me that one of the possible motivations of MS is similar "role playing."

Okay, I'm now ready to give him a pass ;-)

Should have posted the disclaimer on MSNBC and Bloomberg in a scoll undert his picture, though, to provide fair warning.


When they do the static kill, how do they prevent the heavier mud from just falling to the bottom and raising pressure in the well? IE the mud falls, the oil still has the same volume so the pressure has to rise...or would the mud actually be pushed into the formation?

Either way I'd think they'd have to eventually let off the oil through a choke or something. But it would be something of a conundrum as pressure wouldn't fall like it's supposed to.

So I would think they'd have to somehow keep the mud on top of the oil, even though it's more dense.

Here's another question: How does the static kill help the bottom kill?

IE is bottom kill helped by having a stopped top or at least being able to apply some back pressure?

IF static kill is done, then does the RW not have anything to do at all? Or does it still cement the bottom?

If the static kill is done, do they they pull off the BOP and stack, try to fish out the drill pipe, then throw cement all the way to the bottom somehow? Or is that too risky?

I know, I'm just full of questions.

Lots of great comments on TOD today.

Since the shut-in pressure is low, and slowly building from the 18,400 foot payzone influx (assuming no leaks above) does that indicate depletion and lower hydrocarbon flow? The 35,000 to 60,000 B/D flow rate prediction could be too high. If so the Discoverer Enterprise, Helix and Q4000 could handle it.

The clock is ticking, and this real world situation must be dealt with, and all risks must be considered in favor of the GOM, not politics or money.

IMO - Thad Allen does a good job explaining complicated situations, better than Kent Wells. Both these guys are under great pressure. Allen lacks a lot of information, and Wells is holding back information to protect BP for liability reasons.

Reading today's comment about the pressure spike to start a new top kill I wondered if part of what I said yesterday had been absorbed. So I thought I would repeat (part of) it.

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.

I note BP now say they are assembling equipment for the top kill. I have my ideas on type of equipment to assemble and procedure for use so as to be very gentle on the well. However this is all rather academic without knowing exactly what they have available and what are the current standard practices. (Personal experience of GOM (or any) oil operation limited to one day visit to a shallow rig as a guest of Petroleum Helicopters about 35 years ago.)

It is also contingent on time available and it worries me that it is taking so long (as Heading Out eloquently explains in his leader). Waiting for perfection is not necessarily a virtue. Having multiple layers of 'management' to try to secure this is also not necessarily a virtue.

Cheers ERD

It is also contingent on time available and it worries me that it is taking so long (as Heading Out eloquently explains in his leader). Waiting for perfection is not necessarily a virtue. Having multiple layers of 'management' to try to secure this is also not necessarily a virtue.

Cheers ERD

Concise and to the point.

Except that they are boxed in if they have decided to wait until casing is set in the RW. That is on the critical path so they cannot go until probably Sunday- Monday? at the earliest.

Without wanting to downplay the severity of the impact of Macondo on the Gulf coast -- these are the sort of scenes I was expecting to see -- rather like the aftermath of Amoco Cadiz and the Torrey Canyon. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/07/oil_spill_in_dalian_china.html

I'll be cynical and say it's because the Gulf Coast has quite a few new residents who have money and can buy some silence while trying to dump properties affected by Macondo.My sister, who lives in Pensacola said her home has taken a big hit (almost 100K) in value since oil hit the beaches and Corexit was poured into the water. Another sister, who lives in Gulf Breeze, is seeing the same effect. No one in the US will lose money if the public sees those horrible pictures from China.

"..."The oil-spill disaster will result in declining property values," Crist said at a news conference. "The businesses and families of the Gulf Coast did nothing to warrant this loss, but they bear the burden of it."

Sure, come on in, the water's fine! Want to buy a condo?

k3d59~The property values have taken a huge hit, mine is down from where it was 2 months ago, but because I bought it 30c on the dollar it is still above what I paid for it, although mine is not investment property like so many others who can't sell their condo's NOR rent them and in Gulf Breeze so much of the property is backed up to the Sound, Bay or canals and almost all the values hat taken a hit. I did here that they were asking to assess them again this fall for tax purposes so we don't get stuck paying on the values from the beginning of the yr.


Bad weather might delay work at BP’s well in the Gulf of Mexico and that even if skies and seas remained relatively calm, additional precautions would be taken before any effort was made to permanently stem the flow of oil, the top official overseeing the spill response said on Wednesday.

Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who commands the spill response, said that if an area of low pressure over Puerto Rico develops into a tropical depression or storm and heads into the gulf, all the ships at the well site 50 miles off the Louisiana coast might have to depart for safer waters. Government weather experts are evaluating the situation, he said.

If the forecast is for a storm, “we could be looking at 10 to 14 days” when no work could be done on a relief well that is considered the ultimate way to seal the BP well, Admiral Allen said. Containment projects and other work would have to be suspended as well. ...

Admiral Allen said it was possible that the well would be left shut but closely monitored by remotely operated submersibles for as long as possible. The submersibles, and their relatively fast-moving support ships, would probably only be away from the site for 3 or 4 days, he said. ...

But he said that if a decision was made to proceed with the [static kill], BP would have to wait until after a final section of steel casing pipe were installed in its relief well. The relief well is currently less than five feet horizontally from the bad well, Admiral Allen said, and “not far away from a place we had concerns about.” The fear is that if the static kill damaged the well, it might damage the relief well, too. So having a steel liner affords some protection.

If good weather continues, Admiral Allen said, the casing job could be finished by Thursday or Friday, and the static kill, if approved, could start two days later.

If Technician has a beef with any of this, I guess he ain't sayin'. Now to see what Kent Wells has to add at 3:00 . . .

The relief well is currently less than five feet horizontally from the bad well, Admiral Allen said, and “not far away from a place we had concerns about.”

We learn "little" new things everyday.

Wonder what is wrong with the well there?

aH HA! Ulterior motive for planning this new top kill effort?

Quant: *cough*cough* Sorry, the methane is bad today.

Admiral Allen said, and “not far away from a place we had concerns about.”

I'm probably overdoing the parsing, but using past tense here sounds better than, "a place we HAVE concerns about."


I would speculate that he might have been referring to the possibility that, while they had concerns about casing integrity down that far, the fact that the Relief Well has not encountered any evidence of leakage is an indication that there is less likelihood of a casing failure at or above that point.

That seems reasonable and well thought out. If the RW is only 4 feet from the WW and has been drilled oversize for the casing it is in a rather delicate state until the casing is set. They don't want the surrounding rock (which may already be fractured) crumbling into the hole they are trying to set casing in... so best not to create any disturbances during that phase. It explains the ROV's just sitting round making dust bunnies while the clock ticks.

With the possibility of a bad weather evacuation looming that is a good plan IMO.

Here is the first attempt at a mass balance I've seen.

He cited a Coast Guard report indicating that of the up to 5.4 million barrels of oil that have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, about 1.6 million barrels, or 67 million gallons, remain in the water.
The Coast Guard report indicates nearly half of the leaked oil, 2.6 million barrels, evaporated or biodegraded. Another 823,000 barrels were contained [captured?] or washed ashore; 262,000 barrels were burned; and 100,000 barrels were skimmed.


I haven't seen the underlying report. But notice the amount of oil skimmed is relatively trivial, even if the total spill estimate is high by a million barrels, which could easily be the case.

(Oh, and why does every summary in press accounts of the spill manage to count the captured oil as part of the oil that has "spewed into the Gulf"?)

(Oh, and why does every summary in press accounts of the spill manage to count the captured oil as part of the oil that has "spewed into the Gulf"?)

Didja notice AP's nifty use of "barrel" as a verb today?


I awarded that a gold star.

Indeed I did notice that, and I judged that freight trains and fullbacks may "barrel," but oil is not allowed to do that in our language. But the reporter was tired of writing "gushed" and "spewed."

I might like puns mo' bettah than you do, Gobbet.

Here's a delicious gobbet from yesterday's press briefing transcript:

The most prominent [seep] to date has been three kilometers away, which we attribute to another facility which was producing some type of hat.

I can usually figure these out, but I'm stumped here.

Aha, that crab was on lunch break from the beret factory!

[Or in the alternative: Yeesh, no kidding. 'Fraid I can't help you.]

So 823000 have been either captured or washed ashore?
Well, since 827000 have been captured according to DOE(RITT and other) that means a negative 4000 made it to shore. In other words some of the oil from storge tanks even got sucked out to sea. Says nothing about the percent subsea either or the amount that has been degraded by now. I would like an accurate assessment of the amount that has hit the shoreline. I also want to sea the change in sub surface samples over the next 40 days to sea how fast any oil there has biodegraded and an estimate of how much did not reach the surface. EPA says average biodegrade time is 40 days but supposed to be reduced by half if treated with dispersant. So no matter what the the flow estimate an awful lot has broken down by now.
I am sure the gov has to justify his decisions, and of course, wants the money(and votes) to keep flowing in. Just as easily could have taken the published numbers to get about 1.4 million to start and gone from there. He still has to get his areas cleaned up.

Diverdan, apparently the report (attributed to the Coast Guard) hasn't been made public, but Jindal was leaking it. He might have demanded that they do an accounting just for him, for all I know. The reporter was negligent in not getting more information about the report. Don't know about the missing 4000 bbl collected, which might represent the last half-day's collection by Q4000 if they skipped that and assumed the beached oil is a trivial amount.

5.4 million barrels of total flow (60K x 90 days) is an unreasonably high estimate and I'm sure the CG agrees. This makes me wonder if the report was self-directed by the CG.


The nitrogen factor was broached in the MMS investigation yesterday. There is another well in the Gulf that experienced issues from nitrogen exsolving out of the cement.

The often repeated quote, "I guess that is what those pinchers (Shear Rams) are for" was clarified in the last round of hearings. This statement was made by the Transocean, Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) as he walked out of a pre-planning meeting for the nitrogen foam cement job. The statement was made several days before the Macondo incident.

The OIM had apparently had a bad experience with a pervious nitrogen cement job or knew about an incident.

I've experienced a couple well control incidents with naturally occuring carbon dioxide. Like nitrogen, carbon dioxide is non-flammable and therefore isn't detected by standard gas detectors. Also, these gases really mess up (Clabber Up) the drilling mud.

With a natural gas kick you have gas alarms screeching and likely a flare that is increasing combined with well flowing. When the well is flowing due to a non-flammable gas flow, you don't see or hear other warnings and rather than immediately taking action you are likely to say hummm....I wonder what is going on.

Is it possible the first gas that migrated up the Macondo Well was nitrogen and was not detected which caused a delay in taking action.

I'm not suggesting nitrogen is only factor in the blow out but it could have been a contributing factor.


The often repeated quote, "I guess that is what those pinchers (Shear Rams) are for" was clarified in the last round of hearings. This statement was made by the Transocean, Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) as he walked out of a pre-planning meeting for the nitrogen foam cement job. The statement was made several days before the Macondo incident.

Could you point to a link from the Hearings where these words are linked to the cement job planning and a reference to him walking out of that meeting?

Experimental Cement

According to Doug Brown, the Chief Mechanic of the Deepwater Horizon, on the day of the accident, Transocean's Harrell was arguing with BP over procedures and after being overruled by BP, said, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for," referring to the blowout preventer's shear rams, devices designed to slice through the drill pipe and close off the well to prevent catastrophe.

Harrell explained his comment, if he had made it, would refer to the chance that the nitrogen-infused cement BP decided to use to reinforce the well could cause problems. (Nitrogen-infused cement is supposed to bond faster and prevent the drilling slurry from getting into the rock formation.) Harrell testified that the cement was a relatively new Halliburton product, and he had heard it caused problems at other rigs. The Deepwater Horizon had never used cement with nitrogen in it at great depth before. Testimony Friday confirmed that the nitrogen cement was used in the deepest part of the well.

See full article from DailyFinance: http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/company-news/oil-spill-hearings-bps-ac...

Also, these gases really mess up (Clabber Up) the drilling mud.

When I was a mud engineer we used to have CO2 problems in certain places in Okla. The cure wa to run lime base mud. It is conventional water base that you mix lime in. At first it clabbers up but when you get enough in it breaks over an returns to decent flow properties.

Mr NippleUp:

It is understood that you have a problem if large amounts of nitrogen (N2, MW ~ 28) or carbon dioxide (CO2, MW ~ 44) are encountered in what you refer to as a "kick" and that normal gas detectors can't detect these gases.

It is suggested that your flare line orifice meter be replaced or supplemented with a strap-on Panametrics UltraSonic gas flow meter (GE). The basic model returns two signals: velocity (ft/sec or what every you desire) and molecular weight (MW) but T and P are available plus other outputs. The real beauty of these devices is that if you want to see if it is working, get a flowing gas gravity and multiply by 29 and you will have a good idea if it is functioning properly and before use test it by blowing compressed air up the flare line and see if you get a MW close to 29. (Note: MW for air may not be exact as the MW output for this instrument is solved assuming hydrocarbons (heat capacity ratio) as a function of the speed of sound and the temperature.)


By the way, i don't work for GE or own GE Stock but was really pleased with the five instruments that were in the refinery flare headers and also witnessed successful demonstrations of their strap on models.


Earlier I read a post about "roughneck ready" vs idiot proof. That is a very polite thing to say but it comes down to the same thing. There is no such thing as "idiot proof" as "idiots" are so damn clever.
Here in Houston a few years ago a young doctor had his head crushed in an elevator. There were three safety interlocks involved that could each halt the function of the elevator if any doors on any floors were not completely closed. Management at the hospital asked the stationary engineers to "get the elevator working now!" They did that by bypassing the three safety interlocks. It took them about two hours to bypass all the safeties. That lead to the accident that killed the doctor. After 3 days they did a toxicology scan and found alcohol in the dead doctors blood. This is a normal byproduct of decomposition but the hospital tried to make it seem that he was intoxicated and that lead to the accident.
I mention this story only to point out that regulations ,however good they may be, if bypassed by management willfully, can lead to major mistakes and errors. When all the dust settles and blame is given, I am sure that 1 of the 11 dead men will be blamed for the mistakes that lead to this accident. Blame the victims.

So if a pilot in an airplane died as a result of something he did, it would only be right to blame the surviving crew members? Be careful of "always blame the management " generalities. Been on both sides. Generalizations may not apply to a specific situation.

Generally you are right, I was talking about intentionally abusing the rights of management.

Bhopal, Film Recovery Systems, Valdez, and Upper Branch Coalmine. There is going to be no convictions, and if they are it will be just a few scapegoats.

Film Recovery Systems: had to look that one up.


"When authorities raided the FRS building, they found 140 open vats, each holding 1,500 gallons of cyanide solution, in a warehouse building without any ventilation."

And you guys and gals thought BP was a devil. There will be only token scapegoat type of criminal proceedings against these thieves. You do not get to where they are at by being stupid.

There is going to be no convictions, and if they are it will be just a few scapegoats.

There will be no convictions because there was no criminal negligence.
Accidents happen, and even a tragic result does not prove negligence.
Of course, the failed haliburton cement job, the TransOcean crew failure to detect/avoid the kickback, and the failed TransOcean owned/operated/maintained BOP should be examined.

The last thing the Dems want is a open/uncontrolled investigation which will point fingers on 3.5 years of failed Dem Congress regulation, and 1.5 years of Obama MMS screw ups, waivers, and failure to enforce.
For example, if the drillers, equipment, procedures were inadequate, why didn't the Dem Congress toughen US policy/regs?
Why wasn't the Dem govt prepared for such a spill? Why did they issue the permit to drill and waivers?

I toured Grand Isle last weekend, and failed to find a drop of oil or a single tarball.
The Obama gusher is stopped, Louisiana has reopened it's waters to recreational fisherman, oil patches are getting hard to find, and eventually CNN will quit showing more close angle views of that same poor pelican.
IMHO 90% of the 'the gulf is destroyed'/'the world is ending' hysteria and Dem demagoguery/shouting is over.

Any fiction that Obama/Dems are competent to run/expand Govt or regulate is dispelled (a very good thing).
However, the knee-jerk administration drilling moratorium will cause very bad short and medium term damages.
But IMO the biggest long term damage from this event is the loss in faith in the US Govt's commitment to the 'rule of law'; this lawless Govt reneged on it's legal/contractual/moral/ethical commitments when it bullied/terrorized/shook down BP to waive the 1990 Oil Pollution $75m cap on driller liability.
What company will begin or expand operations/jobs here when it can’t rely on our Govt to follow it’s own law/commitments?

My first thought of what caused the blowout was that the "black box" equivalent of investigating the causes of commercial airline crashes would provide the basis for assessing the cause of the blowout. Little did I know!

We are told that the higher up one is in management the more one is paid because of the risk and the responsibility. So when Goldman Saks took unacceptable risks that should have fallen on the CEO and top level management.

If you aspire to the power and money of being at the top you should also be held responsible. When you tell someone to do something "NOW" you convey that you consider speed more important that safety. Those employees then have to judge between speed and keeping their job and safety and losing their job. They should choose safety at the risk of their job but sitting on the ledger may be families and bills. The boss who said "NOW" knows that he holds this power over employees and therefore is responsible.

This is a failing in the way we do business and order our society, that the top get the big wages and yet manage to weasel out of the responsibilities that are supposed to be the justification for those wages.

the top get the big wages and yet manage to weasel out of the responsibilities that are supposed to be the justification for those wages.

More likely, the big wages are being paid to weasel THE CORPORATION out of responsibilities, and if necessary, to make a big deal of being fired for allowing to happen.

Like now, like Tony Hayward.

As seen at http://ht.ly/2eATr

"With another opening in Port St. Joe last week, the Florida Panhandle now has four branch offices dedicated to providing coordinated and rapid oil spill response efforts to nearshore and inland waterway areas."

Lemmie see . . . oil hasn't been flowing into the gulf for over a week now - and here we are 90-something days into the spill, and the Obama administration is just NOW opening a "rapid response" office?

Good think the response was rapid . . . geeze . . .

I've been thinking about the pressure measurements and their variation with time and the factors that might influence them.

Pressure build-up due to the outflow being shut in and the reservoir feed-in being able to recover to current reservoir pressure - pressure increases but at an ever-decreasing rate to a fixed value. The decreasing rate is the result of both increasing back pressure and declining pressure gradient in the reservoir. The result should be some simple-looking curve of pressure vs. time.

But if there is downhole leakage out of the wellbore then the leakage rate (into that sink) should increase with time due to increased borehole pressure. If that leakage was into a fracture I should think the leakage rate would accelerate with time, especially with pressure increasing. Even if it was into porous formation it should tend to leak faster with increasing pressure, though it would simultaneously be decreasing the rate of pressure increase by 'bleeding off' some of the fluid.

I'm making this stuff up as I go along, and starting to confuse myself, but it strikes me that if I had good enough pressure vs. time data I could be able to distinguish between a single-influence function (recovering reservoir) and a dual-influence function (recovering reservoir plus leak-off) - seems like there should be differences in rate of rate-of-change..?? Since we don't know any ablsolute source or sink pressures or volumes or permeabilities etc., about all we can do is play with rates of change and changes of rates of change. Engineers, is this possible?

If the RW is drilled into the WW well bore Above the producing zone with sufficient mud weight to contain the flow wouldn't the relief well and the WW be dead? Then the BOPs on the original well be opened and the BOPs on the RW be closed. Pump down the DP of the RW and circulate the mud (drilling fluid)out through the original well as a controlrd flow controlled by chokes on the return lines at top of original well. What ever the condition of the casing up above the producing zone there would be no flow from the bottom. Giant U tube with flow coming from bottom of U

Wouldn't the minute the two well bores are comunicating the bottom hole pressure of the original well be the same as the weight of the 18000' column of mud in the relief well?

Yes, you theoretically could disinguish between the two phenomena, but in practice, given measurement error, modeling error, initial input conditions uncertainty, the curves can be quite close together, and well overlapping when error bars are added.

4 oil majors to form USD 1bln Gulf Deepwater Oil-Spill response unit

22:57 21-07-2010

- new unit involves Exxon (XOM), Shell (RDSA LN), Chevron (CVX) and ConocoPhillips (COP)

Speaking of risk management, and in the spirit of scaring people just for the sake of scaring them...

(I borrowed this from Weather Underground, thanks DestinJeff!)

Here is an early advisory for a little tropical depression a few years ago that resembles our little area of disturbed weather North of Haiti...

And the current TVCN modeling for our little 97L in 2010:

And here is a later advisory for the above storm that might jog a few more memories:

That is why we never dismiss a tropical disturbance as inconsequential based on early models and advisories. If they seem to overreact to the possibility of this storm this should explain why. I am sure they are taking it very seriously even though it may never develop into anything.

Dismissing it would be insane. Declaring an emergency as of now so that people can be laid off several days in advance because of a tropical wave that's many days off (assuming it even develops) seems suspect.

No, that didn't make any sense, at least not for the reason stated.

Gulf boats having trouble finding any oil: US official

Some 750 boats drafted in to scoop up oil from the Gulf of Mexico are having "trouble" finding any crude in the sea, a top US official said Wednesday, almost a week after a busted well was capped.

"We are starting to have trouble finding oil," US pointman Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of handling the government's response, told reporters.

More: http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Gulf_boats_having_trouble_finding_a_0721201...

Three words. Corexit, Corexit, Corexit.

I believe you have got it in one. If corexit turns out to be a cureall, then I am a Dutchman. So far the visible shore spills have been far less than feared, the oil is now dispersed way beneath the surface thanks to Corexit.

Only time will tell if this good , bad, or in between.

Have spent a lot of time on the Gulf coast and must say that oil pollution although gross is the least of threats from the human race, miles and miles of high rise building supported by supper highways is no way to proceed.

Well 600 acre feet of oil isn't going to
show up very much in 800,000 sg miles.
That little bit is like the 50 acre lake
that is 12 ft deep, up the road.

A lot of this hurrah is just to have a reason
to short our country of oil, of our own
oil,and energy, by stopping drilling;
and price it out of reach, by passing the
carbon tax scam.Ed

The amount is probably only about 2% of your number on the suface and it is spread out over about only 20000 square miles.

OK, this seems to be a slow day (thank Gaia for small favors), so I'd like to ask a question that has been on my mind since I began reading this blog obsessively in May. We are all agreed, I hope, that the skimming "plan" that was approved for this well and others in the GOM is a paper plan, and nothing more. A bunch of skimmers were stationed in port at the ready, for the worst case scenario ....

This sort of thing happens everywhere, even in the ivory towers of academia, which up here in Oregon support a fine growth of moss on their northern sides. Everyone turns a blind eye and life goes on.

But the skimmers must have been built to some specs, right? So I'm wondering, who wrote the specs? Did the companies that built the skimmers scam the specs, or were the specs written with the intent of being easily circumvented? Given that the requirement for a workable plan to skim a significant amount of oil is, even with dead calm seas, apparently beyond any known technology, then the motivation for writing meaningless specs is easy to see. Or perhaps the MMS was just a bunch of naive fools.

Just askin' y'all.

All I know as that penguin and polar bear and seal excluder's are mandatory.:-)

Skimmers - two dimensional surface vessel. Oil + Corexit = Widespread two dimensional and three dimensional problem. You could build a Bathyscaphe type of suction hose vessel/rov/automated robot, or you could not have a deep water leak. You have to believe the latter is preferable.

They still have a third of the gulf shut off to fishing.

Layoff all those people who's livelihood they destroyed.

They are just little people.


They still have a third of the gulf shut off to fishing.

Layoff all those people who's livelihood they destroyed.

They are just little people.

Yeah, let them eat cake. ;-(

From the previous open thread:

Lurking on July 21, 2010 - 8:53am

Still a lot better than sitting there yammering at the spill.

You think so? Did you miss the part about the $360,000,000 price tag? I'll repost the entire comment so you can read it again (yammering is cheap).

130 birds killed by Gulf oil spill, 15 rescued in St. Bernard Parish

"Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says oil from the Gulf spill has killed more than 100 birds in St. Bernard Parish. Department official Robert Love said Tuesday that it's the first significant effect on wildlife in the parish behind the Chandeleur Islands, which were hit by the oil in early May.

"Love said crews found about 130 dead birds and 15 live birds on Monday".

Bobby Jindal's 360 million dollar Barrier to Nothing in action.

Btw, $360,000,000 is still $200,000,000 less than the projected cost of the boondoggle.

Luis, Thanks for the post. It is good that you have discriminated three levels of electricity demand moments in the Y axis: the base, intermediate and peak loads to cover the demand.

I would point out four different levels of demand coverage, with respect to electric networks where it is intended to see how far, how deep modern renewable energies may go.

In first place, there are the short term intermittencies; those that in Spain make provoke a downfall of up to 2 GW in the production with a, for instance, 30 GW of punctual demand, mainly when a wind front leaves the main windfields. This may happen in a time as short as 8 minutes and the network management has to have the ability to replace in such a short term. Special sensitive issue, as you may very well know, in countries that behave as an electric island (Portugal and Spain being excellent examples of island-like countries in electric terms)

This is solved and covered here in Spain by the complementary fast switching on and off of hydroelectric plants or combined cycle gas fired plants, although they are being forced lately to work in a regime for which they were not intended and that probably will shorten their originally expected lifecycles.

Then the second type of variations is the day/night up and down cycles in the demand. This is what I understand you were mainly referring to. These 24 hours variation are also covered mainly by hydro and combined cycle gas fired plants, and the small regulation capacity of some coal fired plants. Nuclear power is always at the base load.

The third type of variations are sometimes lack of wind or sun for several weeks. AS the wind electricity already represents some 13% in Spain of all the annual averaged demand, this may cause long term problems to the system, specially in years with severe draughts, something common in Spain.

Therefore, a lot of stanby capacity in combined cycle gas plants are required. These plants were originally designed to work some 5,000 hours a year and the industry is blaming on the renewable sector, because they have been given a legal first entry priority into the network and that makes the gas plants to come down to figures as low as 2,500 hours a year. They are in the red and nobody want to talk about who will have to pay for the idle time. Besides, they had to be organized, as usual in the market, under long term supply contracts for natural gas, under the scheme “take or pay”, this adding extra costs to the global national electricity system, that nobody wants to allocate to the increase of the intermittent renewable (risk aversion).

The fourth type of variations are those of over one year cycles. For instance, this first half of the year has experienced some 5 to 10 percent lower irradiation than the exceptionally good last year, and the same installed PV base (3.9 GWp) will produce less.

There are studies analyzing that the wind cycles are usually generating more in winter and sun cycles generate more in summer, but this is not a stable law and standby conventional fossil fueled plants are still needed.

On CNBC moments ago. Conoco Phillips, Chevron, several companies opened a 1 billion dollar fund to study an initiate improved spill response mechanisms in the Gulf. B.P. was not included in the group rather leaving them space to deal with current problems an oil company spokesman said.


Four large oil companies are committing $1 billion to set up a rapid response system to deal with oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters. The effort is aimed partly at deflecting efforts by some state and federal officials to stop or severely restrict drilling in the gulf in the wake of the BP spill.

The plan is expected to be announced on Thursday and involves Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell. But it will be open to any company with offshore drilling and production in the gulf — including BP, whose runaway Macondo well has shown how unprepared the industry was for a major drilling accident.

According to a document describing the plan, the initial funding will be used to build containment equipment, including underwater systems and pipelines, that will be able to deal with a variety of deepwater problems. The companies expect the system will be able to operate in waters as deep as 10,000 feet and capture 100,000 barrels of oil a day. ...

The new initiative comes after four weeks of intensive effort by the major oil companies. It is the first product of a larger discussion within the industry on how to operate safely in the Gulf of Mexico.

The response system will include specially designed sub-sea containment equipment that will be ready for rapid deployment in the event of a spill, as well as a team of permanent specialists.

As part of the plan, a new not-for profit entity, called the Marine Well Containment Company, will be created and will be in charge of operating and maintaining this emergency capability.

The new entity will also have a research and development arm charged with devising ways of tackling an underwater spill. ...

"Sometimes it is necessary to execute one admiral to encourage the others."

What do the professionals who know technical details of the Macondo static kill think about it?

IMO- In the static (surface) kill the O/G in the well bore&annulus is pushed into the 60’ thick sandstone around 18400’. Kent Wells said the seismic indicates no well bore leaks. In the bottom kill operation (from RW) the O/G is pushed out the open 3” choke line. It takes less pressure and time to push O/G out 3” opening than into rock. Thad Allen said the static kill would take around five days. The bottom kill could be done in a few hours with luck.

BP M.O. - Kent Wells said on BOP leaks "It's nothing that we're concerned about"

With the bottom kill they have to let the oil out of the well at the cap so the mud can come up the well bore. Letting this amount of oil leak is probably a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. Even better would be if they could "produce" it to the surface, perhaps through the BOP kill lines? This should require no over pressure to speak of: pushing mud in from below and pumping (or letting) oil out the top. Pressure will slowly drop from the 6810psi to zero as the mud comes up the well. Mud is heavier than the oil, so no mixing will occur. The will have to maintain a constant bottom pressure, so letting oil out the top will be tricky, the pressure can't drop too quickly, or the reservoir will start pushing the whole column of mud up the well.

The top kill will require over-pressure (i,e, greater than 6700 psi) to force the oil back into the reservoir. As mud goes in the top, it will fall down the well bore in blobs, that will mix the mud with the oil reducing its density. This seems riskier than the bottom kill.

Once they capped the well, the clock started running. If there is leak down hole, the faster they kill this thing the better. We (they) have made a gamble that capping the well won't cause a massive leak, erosion and collapse. However, the risk is there so waiting is no longer prudent, kill this puppy NOW.

Oh well, storm packer put in place in RW so looks like a bit of a delay to get casing in and static kill even if storm veers away or does not develop. They need a minimum of 4 day weather window (would like a week) to cement casing and get ready to intersect annulus. Static kill actually will take only one day (estimate).
Longer they go with well looking good,greater the chance to leave it shut if they have to leave due to storm. Sounds like once they ask for approval they will get it (to do static kill).

Will have animated video soon about static and RW well plan.

Please forgive me if anyone has asked this question previously. But I keep reading articles where Matt Simmons says there is another leak, and this leak is where the majority of the oil is coming from. Do we know for sure there is no other leak the size that Matt Simmons is claiming??? I'm wondering why I keep hearing/reading stories in the media about another leak a distance away but also being reported as inconsequential.

I hate to bring this guy up again, I know a lot of people believe he is not credible in this situation, but I had to ask to satisfy my curiosity.

What Simmons is referring to is not a seep in the ocean floor or even a small leak. He claims that there is 120,000 Barrels per day spewing out of an open hole where he says the well actually was (he gives various estimates up to 10 miles). His explanations for how this could be and what we are seeing on the ROV's is not credible. This is certainly not the leak being referred to by Thad Allen. The reason that he is listened to at all is probably because he has been such a credible spokesman on peak oil in the past. If you use the search function at the top left of your screen you should be able to find multiple discussions on the matter.

dupe, deleted

Good point about him not providing the location. Thanks for your response and patience. I'm glad that I found this site and have had many of my questions answered and fears quelled. Its easy for people who have limited knowledge in oil drilling/spills to be snookered, I guess. To be honest, I really had no idea the risk involved in offshore drilling and I have to believe that there are many others like me. This has been a wakeup call for me and probably most of America, and if nothing else, I am more willing to conserve energy and do my part to help this not happen again.

It can't be proven that it's not there, and MS isn't helping because he's never provided the location. You keep hearing/reading stories in the media because it scares people and makes them tune in/hit the site, increasing ad revenues.

It's a scam.

I posted this the other day very late in the thread and discussion was soon closed, I thought it would be worth re-posting. I would suggest reading http://www.iosc.org/papers/01266.pdf just to see the timeline for benzene effects on workers near an oil spill.

With all the oil spilling into the Gulf, I had to ask myself if there were any health concerns for the residents of the Gulf. One of the first things I noticed was the presence of benzene in crude oil. Here are some of the things I found out about benzene.
Benzene is known to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence in humans. The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. (http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/eleventh/profiles/s019benz.pdf)
The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood.

There are only 23 chemicals known to cause cancer in humans (not just suspected of, or linked to, but a known cause), benzene is one of them.

But the big question is about the exposure from an oil spill, not if benzene is toxic.

I looked that up and found that during exposure from an oil spill, the initial concentrations can be well over 1 ppm (the safe level as determined by OSHA for a healthy person during an eight hour workday.) but initial concentrations decrease rapidly over time and concentrations should drop below 1 ppm within 6 hours. Gulf residents exposure would be 3 time greater then the OSHA numbers as they would breath it for 24 hours and many are not healthy and fit as most workers would be. So looking at the data from the paper cited below is not exactly correct in considering what a resident on the Gulf might be exposed to.
That study was looking at single spill event, not a continuing one like the one in the Gulf.
This still makes me wonder if some Gulf residents might be exposed to harmful levels of benzene as 6 hours is plenty of time for the wind to blow the fumes far inland. A 20 MPH wind could blow the fumes 120 miles before the benzene breaks down. Some studies suggest that even parts per billion can cause cancer.
I could not find any data about how dispersant’s might affect the evaporation of benzene, but I did find this, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s approval of BP’s use of oil dispersants to break up unsightly oil slicks could increase levels of carcinogens like benzene in the Gulf’s food chain”.
Needless to say, I would be very concerned for the people working out in the Gulf.

Benzene is also an ingredient in the lighter fluid for my Zippo. Wouldn't suggest drinking much of it though.

Took a lung full of high test gasoline in my lungs siphoning a car, 40 below zero out, 1/4 mile from civilization. That weren't nice. Not meaning to down play your benzine poisoning post too much, but lately, today, I have seen an upsurge in fear posts in other places. People crawling out of their skins.

I was scared, what I read pointed to not being so scared. I was looking for a major health hazard for all the people on the Gulf and what I found was not so bad.

Nah, go ahead and be scared.


"...In fact, Kendall said Tuesday in his office at Texas Tech’s Insitute of Environmental & Human Health, the well has already spewed enough oil to coat ecosystems all along the Gulf Coast..."

The writing style is not as dry as some of the geology papers I've been reading, but you'll get the drift.

The EPA has been publishing air sample analysis reports. The on shore benzene numbers are well below what is normally considered a health risk.


I have not seen comprehensive offshore test results.

Speaking of the devil,

Matt Simmons Says Gulf Clean Up Will Cost Over $1 Trillion, Sees BP At $1, Says "We Have Now Killed The GoM"

"What we don’t know anything about is the open hole which is caused by the drill bit when it tossed the blow-out preventer way out of the hole…and 120,000 minimum of toxic poison has now covered the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. So what they’re talking about is the biggest environmental cover-up ever. And they knew that that well, that riser, would finally deplete. And then they could say it’s over. And unfortunately, we now have killed the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Some 5-10 miles away is what the NOIA (sic) research vessels have now proved is a deep oil lake that is growing by the day and it’s very toxic oil and its gases are very lethal. Basically if we have a hurricane now, we would have to evacuate the Gulf Coast.”

More, if you want, including a video: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/matt-simmons-says-gulf-clean-will-cost-...

"tossed the blow-out preventer way out of the hole…" What is that thing the new stack is sitting on? Good intentions? This guy is a nutbar.

This is from today's Bloomberg dog and pony show.

This guy has financial interests and the financial networks that give this bs air time can't seem to inquire about that.

Your reply stopped me from saying, You just reported it , not came up with the story. :-) Buy Gold! that is the thing to do , even if it is at 200% markups!

"Growing by the day." This won't be going away even if the well is killed. Simmons has his mystery hole.

Maybe one investigative journalist will eventually take a look. Just one.

Matt may be right, I just don't see steady pressure readings, even if they are lower then expected, to be indicative of a major leak. The pressure may well have dropped because of the unrestricted flow for so many days. Does anyone have any data about other WW's that were sealed and the pressure data from them?

He's talking about a different hole, at some as yet unspecified location, that's belching out 120k bbl/day of heavier than water oil, presumably created by the stuff that blew 10 miles out of the Macondo well even though the BOP magically found its way home and sat down on the stack.

He is not right.

Cameron invents new device! The boomerang stack! I knew these guys were good.

At what point is such conduct considered manipulative and warranting SEC action?

Uhhh.. When a congressman loses money on it?

I would think you have to prove either he or an ally profited from his actions, his actions were deliberate, and he did them with malice and forethought. There is at least a reason to look at this.

Snakehead: We love ya, but why do you bother to post this stuff? I knew there was a reason most of the folks I respect never were impressed with this guy.

Evacuate the Gulf indeed. I guess he must have been sniffing those petroleum fumes a bit too long.

He is just playing the straight man. There is a point to giving at least cursory acceptance of a wild idea, so as to be able to evaluate the idea with minimal bias.

People from all over read this blog. I want the guy investigated and discredited so he can't scare the hell out of people any longer.

Regarding the Simmons video, he says:

“First of all when I woke up, when my wife turned on the television at 7:00 AM on the 21st and I saw this shocking news, that one of the greatest deepwater rigs ever built by one of the great companies in the industry, Transocean, was in the middle of this terrible fire, and then they said this was a rig fire, this is fuel on the rig, I know that there was 700 gallons of diesel on the rig, I said ‘This is a lie, the Gulf of Mexico is on fire. Why are they saying this?’ For two days they kept saying it’s a rig fire. When the rig sank they could no longer call it a rig fire. It’s a riser leak…Because if they said the truth they would all go to jail.”

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the rig was built by Hyundai of South Korea, not Transocean. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

Neh - Korean for yes. Another positive use of my ethnicity.

Design: Reading & Bates Falcon RBS-8D
Builder: Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard, Ulsan, South Korea
Year Built: 2001

Ever had soju' or kimchee?

Okay with the first, so-so with the second. Not that many trials, however, and never in combination.

One day. That and Korean BBQ or Bulgogi. I would not force Kaygogi on you. That would be the dog. I have not had any since I was slipped the stuff as a kid. Mom is gone and I forgave her long ago. She never fed me a pet or anything, it was all store bought. We had dog pets except when we lived in Korea. Interesting, I have not thought about it for years.

Transocean owned it. They also modified it to work at depths that it was not originally designed for.

Much more interesting than Matt Simmons is this:

So let's think this one through. China modifies the BOP on the Deepwater Horizon rig, it blows, costing BP trillions in reputation and lost revenues. Recently it was reported that Petro-China was looking to take over or buy into BP.
Shortly after the announcement, the explosion on the pipeline occurs and this mega oil spill in China began.

Maybe BP hired the Lockerbuie Bomber to blow up the pipeline.

For the record, the last line was intended to be funny, not serious, though the rest leaves me scratching my head.

Schork Oil Outlook: Deepwater Drilling Key to Economic Recovery
Published: Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010 | 11:21 AM ET


I propose we call him "Batty Matt" from now on. His giant leak should be making one hell of a visible mess by now, shouldn't it?