BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - There will now be a slight intermission (pause) - and open thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6768.

Udate, 11:00am EDT: The National Hurricane Center has started advisories on the tropical depression in the southern Bahamas, as TD#3, forecasting it to become a tropical storm after it crosses Florida and enters the Gulf of Mexico. Based at the limited information at this time, Chuck Watson's estimate is that 20% of US oil production from the Gulf will be shut in for three days, but that there will be no damage.

Note: Tropical storm update by Chuck Watson at the end of this post.

The approaching tropic system that has been mentioned in earlier posts has now not only caught the attention of the folks at the Deepwater well, but has moved them to action. Because of the length of time that it takes to disconnect the systems and then move the vessels out of harms way, BP decided to insert a storm packer, or plug, into the relief well and has gone ahead and put it into place. (From Kent Wells briefing on Wednesday afternoon.)

This will allow them to disconnect the drilling platform from the well and to move it out from the site if necessary. Before the rig could set the packer it had to withdraw all the drill pipe from the well, though it would use some of it to set the packer, which was put into the well 300 ft below the seabed.

The sequence of events that Mr Wells had defined, and which appears to have won the approval of the review panel and Admiral Allen, was that the relief well would have to be cased before the static kill of the well was attempted. There is a concern that, with the relief well only about 4 ft from the original well, in a condition where the relief well has only rock walls without a liner, the risk of possible wall failure in the relief well was too great.

This is not a judgment that it is easy to argue with without much more information on the actual geology at the current bottom of the relief well. If the rock is intact, and relatively competent, given that the well is still above the zone where the leak has likely damaged the rock, then this may be somewhat overcautious, but if there is any risk of weak rock, and of communication between the two wells then it may be a valid precaution. Although it should be noted that the original well is supposed to be still sealed with casing and a liner at this level in the well – since the RW was supposed to run the last casing while some 50 ft above the end of that liner.

But with the static kill now on hold until after the “weather” storm has passed, and the drillship brought back on site (if it has to move), the well re-established, and the plug removed, and then, after checking the well, taking time to run the casing, cement it in place, and check the cement quality after insertion (something that will be a priority into the foreseeable future), it may be some time before the static kill is implemented.

There are a number of different ways the well can be temporarily plugged, but in general a packer is used. This is a device that contains a section with a flexible rubber sleeve (see below). The packer is lowered into place, and the packer inflated (you might think of it as similar to blowing up a bicycle tire) so that the packer section fills the well bore, and stops fluid from leaking. (The full procedure for installing one version of such a packer is given here.)

Diagram of the parts of a storm packer (From Packers and Service Tools Inc )

There is an alternate system made by Weatherford described here. This has three sealing sections rather than the one shown above.

After the storm, and with the rig relocated, the drill string can re-attach to the top of the packer, deflate the rubber section, unsealing the well. The packer is removed and the well can restart. The removal of the packer is not without risk, and accidents can happen. But with that packer in place, the relief well operation is on hold, and so is implementation of the static kill, in BP’s eyes. Given that it will take 3 -4 days to re-establish the well and run the casing, the end of the operation is now moving inexorably into August.

There is one additional worry however, and that is that the current seal on the well is being allowed as a test condition. It is possible, and Admiral Allen alluded to this in his press conference today, that the well will need to be re-opened before the vessels disperse ahead of the storm. With all the connections to the floating risers, and the dispersant tanks not having been connected up and tested, this may lead back to a spillage of the full flood of the oil into the Gulf, until such time as the vessels return and re-establish control after the storm has passed. (The weather one, not the political storm this decision is likely to raise). That action will come down, as other things have, to the judgment and decision of just one or two individuals who will decide whether to leave the well shut-in or to re-open it.

The leaks in the system are, at the moment, very slow, though not insignificant, since they are pointing out points of weakness in the system. Can they be left for a week to ten days, without deterioration? – that is a judgment call. And it requires an assessment of what the consequences of a failure would be, relative to the oil invasion that will come with opening the valves.

The storm will affect other activities associated with the spill. Crews that were skimming the oil have been laid off, and some of the boom may also be moved. It will be interesting to see how the newly dredged islands hold up in this weather.

Chuck Watson's Storm Update

The period of good weather over the Gulf is coming to an end. We now have two tropical systems with the potential to impact cleanup operations. The first is a new system forming over the Bay of Campeche (AL98). It is moving west towards the central Mexican coast, and is unlikely to impact normal production operations. However, waves from the storm might cause problems for skimming and booms.

The bigger question is what will happen with the system we have been monitoring in the Caribbean over the last few days (AL97). The models are all keeping it fairly weak, just becoming a tropical storm, with the respected GFDL and NOGAPS models even killing the storm as it crosses the Keys. None of the models build it in to a hurricane. As usual, caution is advised at this stage - we really don't have a great understanding of which storms at this stage spin up, and which ones die off.

The impact this will have on cleanup and response operations may be significant. Starting this weekend, there will be several days of higher waves and squalls moving through the area. Skimming will be impossible, and seas rough, making ROV operations difficult. The larger vessels will have no problem with the storm, so in theory relief well operations need not totally shut down, but I suspect out of caution virtually all activity will stop.

The big question is, of course, will the well remain shut in or not if the site is evacuated. In any other season it is unlikely this storm would have much impact on normal production other than evacuation of non-essential personnel. But everyone is nervous, so I would not be surprised to see some precautionary evacuations and shut ins.

Prof. Goose's comment:

Welcome--modified 21 JUL 2010

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Based upon what we know, would you rather eat Gulf Shrimp or Chinese shrimp? Best shrimp scene ever.
Forward to time index 2:40
"Captain, I do not know how you feel about this shrimp, but if you eat it you will never have to prove your courage in any other way." Guess they filmed this scene in Alabama.

Gulf. I am more afraid of cadmium, lead, and melamine than I am dispersed oil.

Questions from previous thread on whether a sub could stay below surface and control ROV's during storms.

As mentioned on IRC The USS Jimmy Carter has this capability (according to Wikipedia anyway).

Carter is roughly 100 feet (30 m) longer than the other two ships of her class. This is due to the insertion of a plug (additional section) known as the Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows launch and recovery of ROVs and Navy SEAL forces. The plug features a fairing over a wasp-waist shaped passageway allowing crew to pass between the fore and aft sections of the hull while providing a space to store ROVs and special equipment that may need to launch and recover from the submarine.[3] According to figures published by Electric Boat, the MMP increased Carter's displacement by about 33%, her navigation draft by over a foot (300 mm), and made her louder by two dB at 20 knots (37 km/h). It reduced her speed by two knots (4 km/h).[citation needed]

Carter has additional maneuvering devices fitted fore and aft that will allow her to keep station over selected targets in odd currents.[citation needed] Past submarines outfitted this way[citation needed] were used to tap undersea cables, to intercept communications of foreign countries. Intelligence experts speculate that the MMP may find use in similar missions as an underwater splicing chamber for fiber optic cables.[4][5][6][7]

I didn't know nuclear subs were fitted with ROV power supplying tether connections.

The Jimmy Carter is a special ops sub so it has non-standard equipment.

lol yes interface upgrades for an rov & lars would take a long time to implement & who knows if an existing rov cntl system would 'pass' all the minimum required criteria, ie redundancy, etc red tape

looks like the perfect tool to monitor the well during a Hurricane, assuming that the boat's ROVs can go down to 5000 ft and have the ability to operate the choke valve if required.

Someone on IRC mentioned that the US sub supposedly chasing Simmons giant undersea oil lakes according to some conspiracy sites is the USS Jimmy Carter. If so it may be just standing by in the area giving rise to the rumours of secret sub chasing undersea oil plumes.

Or it could be anywhere of course.

Any idea if this has been seriously considered? It makes sense to me to have sub-surface control of ROVs especially during bad weather-- I wonder why I haven't heard more about this possibility.

You can now stop worrying about the air quality or fire safety in Alabama.

Woman kept open gas cans in house 'because she liked the smell'


I told you rednecks were immune to petroleum. Joking aside, kids in house. Sad.

Good lord.

She should move here. Get a job in the industry. Leave her kids out of it. Rather than jail for endangering her kids, she could get a paycheck. Have any of you oil or rock heads had a co-worker that LIKED the smell of strong petroleum fumes?

My Dad was Navy, then a roughneck and then a diver until the early 80s.

He loved the stuff!

He told me that he used to love gasoline, which a kid could find easily on a farm. He was 12 when they moved to Morgan City and he hung out at the docks when he could and discovered diesel. He loved it. I'm not kidding.

I used to have a diesel Suburban - was his idea to buy it, lol. I used to go to a bank with a narrow fenced alley for the drive-through. If I had to wait the diesel fumes would collect in the confined area. Dad would roll down his window to sniff them.

He was also fond of solvents and loved that 2-step epoxy.

Except for appendix, he was never ill - except the time some moron left an open gasoline contain next to his air compressor diving in GOM.

Your dad sound tough. Has he been gone long? My dad was a DI in the Army. Retired Command Sergeant Major. Lost my dad in 1990. One of the toughest and strongest men I ever met. I once saw him whip two other big non-coms at a card game and made one of them cry. My whippings hurt much less from then on and I quit crying about it.

I don't know if he was tough, or just lucky, lol.

I do know he is one of the few to get his line over the propeller shaft while live-boating and ditch his mask in time. Tough? Lucky? Top-notch guardian angle?

Dad was not the tough-guy type at all. Much more likely to see him dancing with the ladies than in a fight. ;)

He headed out to that big barge where the sun always shines and the water is clear 4 yrs ago.

***anyone on here who worked with Fred Miller and would like to share some stories, (good, bad or otherwise, lol) please contact me gmmf56 yahoo . com***

... diesel. He loved it.

Try crewing a huge ketch in a sailing race for 2 weeks in major storms ... with sprung boards and a ruptured auxiliary fuel tank.

Chest high water below decks topped by two inches of diesel ... all in a very confined space ... delightful.

That would cure almost any diesel fumes fan!

To this day I almost throw up if I get a whiff of diesel or central heating fuel.

I would go all Fletcher Christian up in there, but who knows.

No thanks, I a fair weather sailor.

I don't know...lol - as I said, he once had some moron leave an open gas container next to his compressor and he was blue when they pulled him out the water. Don't recall it causing any aversion to gasoline fumes.

Have any of you oil or rock heads had a co-worker that LIKED the smell of strong petroleum fumes?

Not an oil or rock head, but the very first time I got stoned (mumble) years ago--on an extraordinarily high-quality, er, substance I'd lucked into--I had a rather spectacular Experience when I lit my cigarette lighter for another toke. The aroma took me straight back to the Mesozoic when the butane was being created. That was the only time it happened, sadly.

Could be a lot worse. An old story I happened to recall on reading your post:

An Epidemic of Gas Sniffing Decimates Arctic Indian Tribe

The children, residents of the village of Sheshatshiu, where 1,200 of the 2,000 members of Labrador's Innu Nation live, are addicted to sniffing gasoline. On most days before Rich's plea, they would stagger along the desolate gravel roads, beginning at dusk, sniffing gas from garbage bags and making their way to a camp deep in the woods outside of town. There, in groups as large as 40 or 50, they'd sniff gas until dawn. As the light broke through the trees, they'd shuffle through subzero temperatures toward home or the detox center in town, where they'd sleep off the effects of the gas. Some would vomit or pass out, and according to local health workers, several had become brain-damaged from the gas. In the past year, one 11-year-old boy died after setting himself on fire, and half a dozen others were severely burned after accidentally going up in flames. . . .

The R.C.M.P. officers told me I wouldn't have to go far to find children sniffing gas. They're easy to spot, one of them said, because they don't put their arms in the sleeves of their coats. They hug the bags close to their chests and draw the fumes up through the collars of their jackets. The officers also said that sniffing gas is not illegal in Davis Inlet, so they are not allowed to take the bags away from the children. "All we can do is put them out when they set themselves on fire," one officer added.

When some of my kids were in HS they reported that the "anti-drug" crowd were huffing gasoline b/c it "wasn't a drug" and wasn't illegal.

Zachary Richard did a song called "Sweet Daniel" about the issue you mention.

BP's John Guide (Well Team Leader) testifying now live http://www.c-span.org/flvPop.aspx?src=org1&msg=You+are+watching+the+C-SP...

Thanks once again for the interesting article, HO.

There is a concern that, with the relief well only about 4 ft from the original well, in a condition where the relief well has only rock walls without a liner, the risk of possible wall failure in the relief well was too great.

I don't understand the logic here. In the static kill, the attempt will be made to introduce mud into the system to the point that it counterbalances the pressure in the reservoir. So if the pressure at the bottom of the wellbore is, say, 11 kpsi before the kill, it will still be 11 kpsi after the kill. Furthermore, due to the higher pressure gradient of the mud column compared to the original oil/gas column, the pressure at any point above this will actually be lower than the original pressure it was subjected to, when only O/G were in the wellbore. So where's the extra strain on the system supposed to come from? Are they maybe worried about surges caused by pumping the mud in (although I thought the injection was supposed to only occur smoothly and at a low rate to avoid this)?

Exactly - plus are they looking for excuses?

And normally I am not into blame games (only what happens going forward can be influenced) BUT if they were so worried about the integrity way down, why did they drill the RW so close to the original, rather than staying away until the last few feet?

Also, I can argue, if they now have the equipment available for the top kill they can start the gradual, gentle part of it now. NOW.

Cheers ERD

"why did they drill the RW so close to the original, rather than staying away until the last few feet?"

You can't turn a corner on a dime in the borehole with 40 foot casing or drill string joints. The intercept angle needs to be about 2 degrees.

Thats 3.5 foot per 100 foot of bore hole

So did they finish setting the liner in the RW? Or is that on hold?

I would think it would be a good time to set it now, as they can let the cement dry for the next few days.

So if all the ships leave does that mean they re-open the choke valve and just let it all go out to sea? Or do they keep it shut in and monitor it from shore? Do they have to manually open a choke via a ROV if they need to? And can that be done from on-shore?

I'd hate to see them open the whole thing up.

There is one additional worry however, and that is that the current seal on the well is being allowed as a test condition. It is possible, and Admiral Allen alluded to this in his press conference today, that the well will need to be re-opened before the vessels disperse ahead of the storm. With all the connections to the floating risers, and the dispersant tanks not having been connected up and tested, this may lead back to a spillage of the full flood of the oil into the Gulf, until such time as the vessels return and re-establish control after the storm has passed.

Is that dumb or what? We need to spill a lot of oil into the GOM otherwise the well MIGHT leak and we MIGHT have a spill.

We got some criminally stupid people running this show, if you ask me.

They don't want to risk a blowout while the well's not being monitored and when they won't be able to open the cap.

That's true, although rapidly brining it down from 7,000 psi to 2,000 to avoid a possible blowout...I dont' know if it hasn't had any signs of stress in a week (isn't that what the sonograms show or don't show?) then maybe it's best to just leaveit as it is.

The ships can operate in sub gale force winds, I thought I heard...and if there are gale force winds it should only be for a day or two.

If BP needs to stop "the well test" and let oil start flowing again because of weather, do they need to open it up all the way? Or is there an optimal flow somewhere between zero and 50,000 bpd (or whatever fully open is)?

The LEAST affected part in the storm equation is the shut-in Blowout Well. Doing _any_ thing to change it at this point is a bad idea.

Agreed that it's the least affected, but I'm not looking at the well condition data. Depends how confident they are that it can go untended for several days. Balance ~1/4 million barrels spewed into the GoM vs. a bottom blowout. Damn high stakes.

The storm itself will have no effect on the well, r2-3d. Not even the worst hurricane will stir the water at 1500m depth. The problem is that there is already at least one small leak in the new cap. As it's been said on this site many times, leaks rarely fix themselves. The worry is that this leak will become larger and not only pollute the area (which leaving the well open would obviously do as well), but leave behind damaged equipment which will prove even more difficult to remove. A broken and leaking cap will make any attampt at a static kill impossible--remember what happened with the top kill.

Leaks in the range of a barrel of fluid per month don't really constitute a danger point, in my opinion. In this case, we're talking about a leak between two metal seals at a junction that far surpasses that of the expected pressures. It's not a hose leak here.

It'd be like having a leak in your oil pan or around the head gasket of your engine. The leak will continue, but the metal won't come apart.

We're also not talking about garden hose pressures or fluids. The pressure is nearly 6,500 psi and there's the possibility that the gas/oil mix has entrained sand, which could rapidly erode any leak.

Will that definitely happen? Not sure. Could it happen? Absolutely.

The question is, will the cap withstand 7-10 days of this pressure, given that the leak has developed already within the last week? That's the judgment call. So, to extend your analogy, it's like having that head gasket leak...and immediately embarking on a cross-country trip to California, and never checking the engine or the oil en route. Are you confident that you'll make it without losing all your oil first? Are you sure that leak will get no worse?

[...] there's the possibility that the gas/oil mix has entrained sand, which could rapidly erode any leak.

Once the well becomes static, any sand will fall back down. There's zero risk of erosion from a small fluid leak at the top of the well.

Metal to metal seals that are leaking are something to watch, but not something to be concerned with. You have the possibility of metal failure, but not the possibility of erosion with such a micro-flow.

There is more than one leak. The system is not static now, nor will it become so magically. Oil will continue to seep out from the leaks. Since these leaks represent material failures which have developed and worsened within the last week, there exists the real likelihood that they will continue to worsen.

Again: the system will not simply go static. Your assumption that the fluid is stationary is incorrect. The fluid at the cap would go static only once the flow has been blocked.

Where the leak is small and the velocity of the escaping fluid is high, pressure behind it will also be high. BP and the feds might well decide to leave the cap on and take their chances, but it won't be due to a complacent "it's just a dribble, there's nothing to worry about" attitude. That dribble wasn't there when the cap first went on, and it won't likely remain just a dribble from this point forward. The question is, how much bigger will the leaks become, and is the cap likely to sustain enough damage to make it unusable?


I agree. If Allen/Chu are uncomforable leaving the BOP pressure at ~7000 psi, you could open the choke line gradually to reduce the pressure to a point that is acceptable. 6500? 6000? ...

There is the problem of sand that has built up eroding the partially open valves. Sometimes it is better not to poke a stick at a sleeping dog.

In the previous thread, rovman wrote

This video shows the ROV standing by in its cage. The cage is moving up and down through a range of 1 to 2 meters (3-6 feet) every few seconds due to wave action (the cage is suspended from the vessel above and so follows its movements). At three points in the video, namely approx 4:40, 8:00 and just before the end, some lumps of mud adhering to the ROV frame detach themselves due to the surge and break up in front of the camera.

That's what I see, for what it's worth

I'd like to get this straightened out if possible. How came the mud on the cage? Are cages normally lowered ~4500 ft? Why the spray of clathrates in mud?

It's not exactly a trivial matter, so I would appreciate a reply.

Always happy to review videos and answer your questions.

The mud is not on the cage, it's on the bottom of the ROV. It drops off in lumps as the ROV (and cage) surge up and down due to the vessel motion above. The ROV is going up and down 3 to 6 feet every few seconds, which is why the mud washes past the camera. It's a surprisingly violent action.

The cage is normally lowered almost all the way to the sea bed, to minimise the tether excursion. Typically it is lowered to within about 10 or 20 meters of the sea bed, though it may be a bit higher for this task. The cage may also have been raised up a bit whilst standing by, just to get it out of the way, given the amount of 'traffic' down there.

I think your 'clathrates' are just bits of mud and other particles. Remember that the cameras automatically adjust their gain to compensate for the varying light levels. If the scene is predominately dark, as it was in that clip, any particles, be they mud, plankton, whatever, when they pass in front of the lights will look very white. If the same scene is brightly lit, such as when the view is of the sea floor, the same particle passing in front of the camera will look very dark. This is the effect that produced the flying 'rocks' in the video discussed the other day. Also remember that the camera has auto focus as well. I strongly suspect that the 'clathrates' in your video are small bits of mud or organic debris only a few inches from the lens. They could be clathrates, but they are at least as likely to be mud.

I understand that people are worried and concerned about what they see. I am not being complacent, if I see anything unusual I'll be just as worried too. It's just that so far I haven't seen anything to worry about- apart from the original massive leak of course. I just want to reassure people that what you are seeing in these videos is normal.

*Edit* Some extra info if you are interested.
The umbilical connects the cage to the vessel vertically above. The umbilical is typically 3,000m long.
The tether connects the ROV to the cage. It is typically up to 300m long.

Thank you for being here to explain things.

Was doing some searching for Taylor Diving yesterday and found this link I think you would enjoy.

Popular Science, 1981


Nice one gmf!

Things have moved on a bit since then, though we still haven't solved the problem of communicating effectively without a tether.

gmf: Scrolling up on your link ( http://tinyurl.com/268ldt3 ) is the even more impressive Aeroelectric Tower; with a few hundred of these babies we can stop burning HCs for energy--forever.

I saw that...forgot to mention it.

some really great stuff in these old mags on line

going up and down 3 to 6 feet every few seconds

If the ROV were not already in the cage, it would make for some interesting driving to get it in there with the cage bopping up and down. Even in calmer seas, this would seem to bea problem. Isn't there any type of telescoping stabilizer which could minimize the correlation with the surface waves?

It can indeed be tricky. In the North Sea we generally don't use cages, but use a 'top hat' TMS (tether management system) instead.


In this arrangement, the ROV is latched to and suspended below the TMS, with no cage. Docking with this is a little easier than flying into a cage in heavy weather.

The limiting factor however is deploying & recovering through the splash zone. To increase the operating window, heavy weather deployment systems can be used. I noticed that some of the systems at this well were using them.


It is possible to make heave-compensated winches, but this creates other technical difficulties which I won't go into right now. Suffice to say we don't use them, the cursor system works better.

I'm away for the next few days so you'll have to save any other questions up until Monday. :)

Just for the record: rovman, I've been grateful for your expertise and the clarity of your communications about these matters. In this case, however, I find your description of the events in the video Alan posted entirely unconvincing.

I am not one of the unfortunately-large community of silt-as-gusher alarmists, but I do not believe that what I see in the video can be explained by lumps of mud surging past the camera. And I think it entirely unlikely that the particles that appear to be clathrates are imaging artifacts caused by lighting.

I cannot be certain (certainty probably isn't achievable with such minimal evidence), and I'm certainly not an expert (and you are) but this doesn't pass the smell and common-sense tests for me.

The quality of the video is terrible. The ROV is over 400 feet above the sea bed. The motion and material movement you see are well known to any ROV pilot, especially those operating out of cages. I believe most of the "gushing" is actually artifacts picked up from much less dramatic video returns from debris (most likely mud) in the water.

Any disturbance from the seabed that looked like that at 400 feet up would be highly visible at the seabed.

ROVman is correct.

I'm a little surprised they are sitting on the mud, although I have seen them do it several times. Standard ROV procedure when working around a debris field (like near an overturned drilling rig) is not to take any chance of getting caught on a piece of debris, cable, rope, etc which might be just a few inches under the mud. Maybe they are sitting on the bottom several thousand feet away from the wellhead and sunken rig.

I am not one of the unfortunately-large community of silt-as-gusher alarmists, but I do not believe that what I see in the video can be explained by lumps of mud surging past the camera.

..this doesn't pass the smell and common-sense tests for me.

With you on both counts.

I'm having real cognitive dissonance that, on the one hand, we are constantly told that natural seepage off the seafloor is VERY common, but on the other hand, (almost?) EVERY single video posted by someone has been dismissed as ROV kicking up mud. So my question is, IF seafloor seepage is VERY common, and if we have all these ROVs monitoring the seafloor right now, isn't it a bit STRANGE that we're NOT seeing any seepage, natural or not?

You (not you, kalli, but TOD 'experts' in general) can't have it both ways. Either seepage is VERY common, thus accounting for whatever people want it to account for, in which case it should be fairly easy to find different examples of such videos to demonstrate what such seepage looks like, OR seafloor seepage is VERY rare, in which case even ROV experts may have little experience in differentiating them from ROV mud-kicks.

Which is it, eh?

Something is not right here, and I'm getting increasingly sure it isn't my eyes, or my nose...

These noisy over-enhanced posterized with AGC pushed to the max videos of sea water and mud are not an indication of anything.

You asked for a video of a real seep? Here it is.


Well, yeah, that's ONE example. I'd be very surprised that all seepages look or behave the same way, irrespective of composition (eg oil vs gas), pressure, volume, speed, etc, or coming out in steady streams as in this case vs in explosive, episodic ways.

Sure would like to see a variety of examples, you know.

Well, go find 'em. You are the one that doesn't believe the expert opinions on the silt videos and is proposing an alternative hypothesis. It's your job to prove it.

You got the logic the wrong way round, pal. Let's start over. Lots of people have been posting videos, and one by one, they have been discounted by 'experts' as showing ROV kicking mud instead of seafloor seepage. So what is the point of a 'non-expert' like me posting yet another, to get shot down again?

So, those 'experts' who say all these videos that have been posted do NOT show a leaking seafloor, please post as many different varieties of actual seafloor seepage as you can, natural or otherwise. Because your credibility depends on demonstrating that you DO know the difference between the two, and CAN find the evidence to support such knowledge.

I may not be an 'expert', but I sure can recognize a no-win hand or trap when I see one...

Hardly. I am a non-expert in oil production or in marine systems, and just from my prior experience kicking mud up in streams during my ill-spent youth it was trivial for me to identify every instance of "oil leaks" as silt kicked up from the bottom.

Why is this? you may well ask.

Because silt/mud behaves in a particular manner when it is released into water, no matter the method, and that looks distinctly different from how oil looks when released into that same water.

Simply put, oil tends to congregate into larger droplets, and silt tends to disperse.

You may well ask: why then did we not see this congregating tendency in the videos of the leak off the Macondo well?

Because the videos of the Macondo well leak were all at the point of depressurization. The oil was being expelled at high pressure into a lower pressure environment, there was turbulent flow, and the field of view never extended up far enough that we could see how the oil was behaving once it had a chance to slow down.

If we were seeing, in *any* of the alleged oil explosion videos, something akin to the 30+KBPD expulsion from the well head, it wouldn't be in fits and starts. It would be a continuous, undeniable, obvious stream of dark reddish-brown fluid that would be obvious to anyone with the eyes to see.

Your credibility is what's at risk here, and it isn't standing up all that well.

Oh, *my* credibility isn't worth anything to anyone, not even myself. I'm here just to learn, trying to reach for something that looks, feels, and smells like (or at least close to) the 'truth', supported by coherent evidence and logic. Which btw I haven't found in your comment either.

Also btw I haven't reached an opinion on which of these videos do or do not show seafloor seepage, and even if I have, I'd be perfectly happy to change it if someone posts convincing evidence either way. I'm not invested, just interested.

Some of us are not talking about "explosions" rather we are talking about possible seeps. Also - this well contains a high amount of NG. How does that effect what the oil droplets would look like? What was the release pressure when the well was flowing? Doesn't flow and pressure have an inverse relationship? What is the release pressure if it is coming through seafloor mud? What is the difference between the release pressures? Is the difference large enough for us to not see "droplets" but rather see something similar to the original flow?

Yes, silt does have distinct behavior when disturbed in water. That is my point. Some of the videos shown are very different than others. Yet they are all explained away the same way.

And also, wouldn't a seep also disturb silt? Couldn't a seep at any significant pressure also look a little like silt distubance? (Expecially a new seep?)

I don't know. I'm just askin'. That is the point.

When did you stop beating your wife?

Don't get your point.. Don't believe it deserves a response...

So instead of posting more videos - why don't you listen to the experts and learn what to look for?

The 'experts' so far from what I have seen have been two anonymous people here on TOD. They do express technical knowledge of the ROV - however they also have blanketed every video with "SILT! Dammit!", and "I'll let you know if something is wrong - so no need to look or ask". I'm paraphrasing, of course. But I'm not buying it.

There is a very wide variety of phenomenon happening and being reported. I would expect an expert to be able to account for adn explain the differences. For example why are some looking like clouds, and others more like rising cigarette smoke? Why didn't we see this much "silt" activity prior to the capping? (And yes I know the rovs weren't on the seafloor as much, but I watched many hours of BOA following pipes and wires along the seafloor).

Blaming it all on silt being diturbed by ROVs is just as fallable in my opinion as blaming it all on hydrocarbons. Just me - but so far nobody, on this topic, has gotten past my BS meter. Other topics on TOD - definitely. But not this one.

The jury is still out IMO, but I certainly don't believe we have 'expert opinions' on this topic yet.

Take a look at the oil leaks being monitored on the live video. Compare that to the "known seeps" video and you'll see a lot in common. The droplets go up quickly, they stick together, they look like upside down faucet drips (only dark in color). I haven't seen anything in any of the silt videos that looks anything remotely similar to the leaks or seeps. I've seen a lot of bubbles rising from the muck while snorkeling. As has been said before, bubbles can come from bio-decay or creature digestive gases. I agree that if there is a problem, it will be real easy to spot.

A good point. But: put those drops under 500 ft. of silt and mud, and let them slowly work their way up. What do they look like now? I have no clue, but I wonder.

Let's say there are 10,000 natural seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, I would be comfortable with referring to them as a very common phenomenon in that case.

But then, when we spread those over the whole of the Gulf, how close are they to each other? You do the calculation, because I'm too lazy, and am not concerned about what you consider discrepancies.

Not being rovman, I can't really provide a full comment, but a few points. [edit] And rovman got here first anyway :-)

How came the mud on the cage?

He didn't say "cage" he said "frame", which is the chassis the ROV is built around. To be fair, I had exactly the same question until I realised that the frame and the cage were different things. Having the frame of the ROV covered in mud from operations at the sea floor is hardly surprising.

Are cages normally lowered ~4500 ft?

Yes. SOP. The tether to the cage is only 1000ft long - and must account for the range of sea floor movement as well as the height from the cage to the ROV. So 500 ft from cage to operational depth would be pretty much exactly what you would expect.

Basic specs of the Millenium Plus here: http://www.oceaneering.com/Brochures/ROV%20-%20Millennium%20Plus.pdf

Why the spray of clathrates in mud?

Why are they clathrates? We know little more than we see white dots. They might be clathrates that were in the mud sticking to the ROV - after all we assume the sea floor is full of them. They might be any other sort of material, including random organic muck mixed in the mud.

My main reasons for commenting however is the danger in interpretation previously mentioned in an earlier thread. We only have access to highly compressed video. This leads to a real problem in trying to interpret some things we see. Especially if we attempt any form of image enhancement. The continual billowing effect is a classic compression artefact. You can create it yourself with a little effort from almost any noisy feed and heavy compression. Many, if not most, digital processing systems suffer from analogous issues. Coupled with poor quantisation and compression designed for ordinary real-life images, there is essentially no useful information in the deep dark parts of the video we see. If we had the raw uncompressed feed it would be a different matter.

I looked into this in detail, following rovman's lead. Swells on July 19 at 4 a.m. 1-3 ft, not 3-6 ft. Boa C mother ship may have been at those coordinates. But the stickler is no regular correlation between swells and bursts of black billows, red mud, and white tendrils that look like hydrate.

Two explanations don't jive, that bright ROV lights make dark particles white, and simlutaneously low light AGC generates black billows and red gushes randomly. If it's on standby in a cage, why burn lights? If the lights are on, we can see 30 ft without AGC monkeyshines.

Is compressed NTSC streaming video different than hi-res? Not much. Blockiness isn't an issue on this feed. Several people had repeated observations of seafloor venting SSW of the well, when ROVs were cruising at 30-50 ft above the bottom. No seafloor manifolds, risers, or tool baskets are located SSW in the vicinity of these coords. The DWH riser and rig wreckage fell north to northeast of the well. In the present seafloor surveillance program, no ROV has been tasked to look SSW.

Why not?

Thanks for the post, HO. I have a question about this:

... If the rock is intact, and relatively competent, given that the well is still above the zone where the leak has likely damaged the rock ...

Do I correctly understand that you're convinced a leak with rock damage does exist somewhere between John Wright's target zone and the reservoir? If so, what convinces you of that? (Or did I just misread the sentence?)

I think what he's saying is where the flow into the blowout well may have damaged rock around the lower end of the well. Not related to any possible higher casing damage or leakage.

Sorry if this is badly worded - but no, I am not convinced that the rock is damaged above the reservoir.

Good deal. Thanks for the confirmation.

Agree. Since the RW casing job has been pushed back and a storm evacuation is a real possibility, there are only two choices that make sense.

1) Leave everything as it is.

2) Try to get at least some mud in to lower the pressure before leaving for the storm.

Opening the floodgates and dumping another half dozen or so Exxon Valdez loads of oil into the Gulf makes about as much sense as killing somebody 'for their own protection'.

Plus, and CHANGE in BOH hole is more likely to disturb their uncased hole and cause crumbling than maintaining the status quo.

At this point unless they are comfortable with the way the equipment is standing up the pressure they should reconsider trying to slip a little mud into the hole and get the pressures down before the weather moves in. That seems like the safest option under these circumstances.

HO: I thought wells said they left 10000 ft of drill pipe hung in the hole after they set the storm plug in the RW.

He did

What we actually – as I said, that plug [is] set about 300 feet below the bottom of the BOP. We actually have about 10,000 feet of drill pipe that are hung off below it, so we’d come back in with the drill pipe, attach onto it.

I don't quite understand how they did this.... How does something like this work? Did they somehow tie the lower 10,000 feet of pipe off the casing 300' below the BOP? then lift the 5,300' of pipe above that up, attach the plug, put that back down, "inflate" the plug, then pull the 5,300' of pipe up to the rig? or does the plug ride down around the pipe, the lower 10,000' of pipe attaches to the bottom of the plug and the top 5,300 of pipe is pulled up?

A problem I've had all along with Allen is he uses terms like drill pipe and casing interchangeably, so I'm never really sure what he's talking about (and I am CERTAIN he isn't sure what he's talking about). The scary thing is he's in charge, kind of like Admiral Benson in Hot Shots\

My impression is that the procedure is as follows:

(1) Lift the drill pipe at least 5300'. This leaves Allen's ~10,000' feet of drill pipe hanging below drill ship.

(2) Attach storm packer to hanging drill pipe. You know have 10,000' feet of drill pipe + storm packer + more drill pipe above.

(3) Lower drill pipe with backer back down until packer is 5300' below seafloor.

(4) Seal packer into hole.

(5) Disconnect drill pipe above packer and pull out of hole.

That's just my guess (plus the only thing that makes sense to me). But it seems to match http://www.packersandservicetools.com/storm_packer.html if I'm deciphering the jargon correctly.

That makes sense .. thanks.

That quote is from Wells, not Allen, from Wells' briefing yesterday.

Note that Diver is also referencing Wells, not Allen.

Not exactly related to this post, but related to the spill in general - this is something that bothers me and I just want to put it out there. After 9/11 we heard countless tales of heroism, the most prominent the man who lead the other passengers to try to stop the terrorists on the plane that crashed (in PA I think). Yet I have heard little about the 11 men who died and the man credited by other crew members for saving lives - Jason Anderson

In discussions with some of the 115 rig workers who were rescued after the blast, Billy Anderson said he learned that his son’s efforts during the final minutes to control the pressure surge saved scores of lives. “My boy was cremated,” Billy Anderson said. “But the actions he and those other 10 heroes took are what made it possible for more than 100 other people to escape with their lives.”

I understand that the day of the accident was to be his last day on the rig. I also understand that he was so worried that he had been coaching his wife on how to live without him if she had to.

In all our discussions going forward I just want to remember this man as well as the other 10 who died.


I think about them all the time.

Where did you get that shirt?


Amen it is. RIP.

In the previous thread, lotus wrote
....Hello, asgard. Both your own and Landau's statements are pure opinion with no factual bases offered. I note that your YouTube is dated a week ago (and the interview could have occurred earlier), and in it Landau says proof of his theory would become plain "within a week." None has. So what has you so convinced?...

Additional to the statement I gave I just want to mention that the interview with Landau was dated 15th of July. Looking in an article of The Washington Post from the 21st of July I can read that there are five leaks around BP's well.

Just some questions:
What makes Thad Allen so confident that these leaks are only "drips"?
Why haven't these leaks not been observed before?
What is the chance to have five leaks occur at the same time?

> What makes Thad Allen so confident that these leaks are only "drips"?

He's looking at them.

> Why haven't these leaks not been observed before?

Getting past the double negative, it's probably because they weren't there.

> What is the chance to have five leaks occur at the same time?

They didn't. And now there are six. And that has nothing whatsoever to do with Landau's geological murmurings.


Visible satellite images and observations from the Bahamas indicate that the area of low pressure in the southeastern Bahamas has become better organized and a closed circulation has formed. Advisories on a tropical depression or a tropical storm will be initiated at 11 am edt, 1500 utc today. This advisory will likely include tropical storm watches and warnings for portions of the Bahamas and southern Florida.

You know it is coming here. Gulf Shores has an Al-Quida hurricane magnet somewhere around here, I swear.

FEMA has a secret hurricane attractor beam. How else do you thing they will be able to herd people into those death camps? ;-)

James, you're too on top of this stuff to be an amateur. Who are you shilling for, I mean besides BP?

I'm a vendor of nickel plated copper hats... for those times when tin foil just doesn't provide adequate protection. ;-)

Make those in the garage or do you just sell Raytheon's line?

I buy them from Toys R Us, repackage them with a Halliburton label and an "Illuminati Approved" certificate and resell them. But don't tell anyone. ;-)

I'm just another shameless capitalist shill for the oil industry.

Don't get me wrong, they are good quality. The same toy manufacturer in China manufactures all the critical components inside 90% of the BOP's in use worldwide. They do contract work for Fisher Price too.

Merlin the wizard had the best ever tinfoil hat.

I'm guessing they protect you from magic spells too.

Not enough protection for the frontal lobes IMO, but it was very stylish.

Wizards don't need frontal lobes - they have their brains in backwards. See the biology page of www.wizardphysiology.net for more info.

The problem with the hats is that in the 50's the CIA made the supermarkets switch from real tin foil to this aluminum stuff. Now it is a poorly known secret but if you want to reflect mind control beams you have to use REAL tin foil. Aluminum foil is no good at all. In fact this study done at MIT proves that aluminum foil hats actually CONCENTRATE and COLLECT mind control rays just like an antenna would.


Some people claim the MIT study is part of a vast conspiracy to dissuade people from aluminum foil hats, but my experience with antenna design studies makes me believe the MIT study is valid.

It is a little known fact, but we have already gone well past peak tin, which is why tin cans and tin toothpaste tubes have disappeared.

we have already gone well past peak tin

Oh dear, the poor Patiños -- whatever will they do when Papa Antenor's art collection runs out?

Actually, I am going to an aluminized type coating or maybe cotton/stainless steel weave. I want a domestically produced adjustable ball cap with a silver coating like an ironing board. Very tough and hard to get dirty. Fully washable. I plan to start selling them on-line. I am researching vendors now. Of course I might make a technical line with real RF blocking capabilities, but that is of secondary concern. I cannot imagine how it could help in industry or recreation. Currently, I just want a nice hat with great reflective properties and world class durability and stain resistance. Water resistant too. Just another TinFoil idea, but this is a rare capitalistic one.

Lion Brand yarn sells one that's laceweight wool with a strand of stainless-steel tinsel. It would be warm as well as sparkly, and hold its shape too. (Really, they do have such a yarn.)

Most good medical scrubs have 1% or so of SS woven in. Helps durability or sterility I guess. I understand silver bandages and garments aid in healing and sanitation.

While you are at it, how about making one more stylist for the females? Some with cubic zirconias would be nice, as well as some diamond accents. Would sell well, I promise.


I will find a more masculine one. $55 for this hat.

Don't forget the celeb tie in angle. Imagine the markup you could get for one autographed by Rockman!


There is an interesting site with history and other background information on these head coverings.


Rockman is way too cool for a fake signature. He would get a custom logo. Clean and simple, but custom.

Current models from NOAA have it missing you. Go to http://www.stormpulse.com/ and tick on the Forecast Models button.

I just hope Jim Cantore doesn't show up or I will be buying you the bird washer, a case of beer and blue bell ice cream.......

HO's comments are scaring the hell out of me now, I had just got a grip on everything and now worry about the possibility of leaving the cap on with no monitoring, or opening it up and having more oil hit us hard, and now the relief well. Damn, it has to be 5 o'clock somewhere because I need a drink.

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 6863 psi.
•We anticipate the next update will be provided at around 9:30am CDT on July 23, 2010.

Updated July 22 at 9:30am CDT

Buckle your chin straps boys and girls.


Here's the official cone of despair...

I sure hope they are right about the intensity forecast.

cone of despair


and I am right in the middle of the "cone of despair" . . . I need to double up my dock lines on my boat and shut the storm shutters tonight. I remember Wilma . . . was supposed to pass well to the north of us and be a tropical storm. Instead, at 2:00 AM, we woke up to stuff clanging and banging and we had near hurricane force winds and driving rain - not good conditions to make storm preparations in.

BTW, I live in the Keys at about 75 miles from Key West. The room I am sitting in right this minute is 4.5 feet above mean low water.

For current weather conditions near my place, see http://homepage.mac.com/james_r_white/homepage/newweather/index.html

To all the TODers who are on the rail tracks of this storm:-

GOOD LUCK, I'll keep fingers crossed for you


Well I guess I should gas up the car and either head to south of Brownsville to keep it south or head straight to the Carolinas to force it north! No matter what it looks like the drainage contractors finished in my backyard in Houston in time for this one. Two days in a very warm gulf is not a good thing for keeping intensity of storm down.

I am going to have to go back and listen to the hearing recording but they just talked about losing mud returns at 18k+.

I am wondering if this might be related to the spot of the well Allen alluded to yesterday that he was worried about.

China uses oil-eating bacteria to clean up spill:

"The use of the oil-eating bacteria at the Dalian spill is the first time China has made major use of biotechnology to solve an environmental pollution problem," the report said.


I have been calling and asking officials here in Florida why eco-friendly products are not being used in the GOM, instead of the toxic Corexit. Senator Nelson's office told me that Governor Crist's office is looking into it and Gov. Crist's office told me he forwarded the recommendation to Washington. That was weeks ago. Here is a company in Europe that volunteered its products for the clean-up, however just like the other international help that was ignored or declined for reasons unknown, so did this fall by the wayside.


In addition to the European company, there is a company in southwest Florida that also has an eco-friendly product called Munox that is a solution that can eat the crude effectively without poisoning the sea life.


According to their website, Osprey Biotechnics' sole business is industrial microbiology. 'We are experts in isolating, characterizing, growing, and stabilizing beneficial bacteria.'

There are many beneficial bacterias in nature, acidophilis in yogurt cultures comes to mind. So why the poison?

It is no wonder that the public is so distrustful of both BP and the gov't at this point in time. Congratulations to China for doing the right thing for a change.

There is a great body of thought that says such organisms present much more risk than potential to help.

The use of the oil-eating bacteria

Can't wait for a few thousand generations of these to engineered bacteria to start eating asphalt, tires, and rubber hoses.

See weed resistant to Round-Up , and weeds only took 25 years to evolve around Round - Up.

I have always wondered about that happening.

Natural bacteria have had a few billion years to try to evolve that capability. I don't think we will see engineered bacteria doing it any time soon.

Oxygen will be worth more than gold. I'm stocking up starting now.

You have been around. Ever been to a Japanese oxygen bar? Just don't tell my Korean friends I went.

It's important to note that these two situations are actually different. Weed resistance is "in the wild" aggressive selection for genes resisting something deleterous. The engineered bacteria are only aggressively selected for oil-eating during the lab development period; although they'll possibly generate more descendants than other bacteria in a suddenly oil-rich environment "in the wild" there's no strong selective pressure for the oil-eating bacteria (my understanding is that non-oil-eating bacteria aren't particularly killed by an oil rich environment), let alone selection pressure for chemically converting asphalt, tires and rubber hoses.

Thus, I think it's unlikely that in current circumstances bacteria will naturally evolve this ability.

That these bacteria are "eco-friendly" is not a foregone conclusion.

Has any of these products been approved by the EPA or any governmental agency? (a web page is nothing more than a press release)

Do either of these companies have enough on hand to sell? (yes, they are selling the product not giving it away for free)

Are you willing to buy huge amounts of a non-approved/non-tested product and dump into the Gulf?

In general such bacteria are already ubiquitous. It isn't necessary to add more, and there is little or no evidence that adding them is effective.


Oil has been leaking into the GOM through natural seeps for an Eon. It is already provided with a diverse natural population of oil eating microorganisms. Adding more would be a waste of time and money.

The classical view is that people selling these bacteria are no more than snake oil salesmen as anything like this that gets added to an environment is quickly overwhelmed by indigenous species.

The oxygen depletion that people talk about in the plumes? That is the result of the Gulf's own oil eating bugs multiplying.


The only question is whether or not adding nutrients would be helpful.

Paintdancer, because there have been natural hydrocarbon seeps and vents in the Gulf for eons, the Gulf is well-stocked with a range of microbes that eat oil and methane. They have been on the job since the spill started and have probably already disposed of around half the oil that has not evaporated. They will get rid of most of the rest within months, except for the tar, but that part won't do too much harm. So thank goodness for the bugs!

Dalian spill pics here http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/07/oil_spill_in_dalian_china.html

You've seen plenty of oiled-pelican images - check the last few pics for oiled-human equivalent.

Regards Chris

The State of Florida has a whole webpage on accepted bioremediation products.

And many of them are on the same EPA list that the so called "approved" dispersants (including Corexit)

They claim that the gulf has bacteria naturally, but I wonder if the consumption of oil is limited by the available oxygen in the water. The oil/dispersant is killing the plankton that produces the oxygen for the bacteria to work. So the natural bugs may not be doing so well. I think we should be replenishing the oil eating bacteria in well oxygenated areas.

The lack of oxygen in the lower depths is what makes dispersant use such an obvious deception. They are not making it more biologically available to the microbes of the Gulf. They all want to talk about the oxygen levels, but no one is putting up any hard data on the Dead Zone depth.

I have been very aggravated at the lack of innovation employed in this mess. Not only are there some very good bioremediation products and techniques available, but there are innovative skimmer apparatus and alot more that could be done.

People are submitting these ideas but are getting nowhere.


What you think of as eco-friendly doesn't always prove to be so with the passage of time. Think unintended consequences.

Worth reading

Ships ready to leave leaky well as storm brews


Snake -
Yesterday the AP started calling the kill bore a "relief tunnel" ...... For some reason this just drives me crazy , there it is in this story too.

It's like when media call a front end loader a bull dozer , drives me up the wall.

Dumb and dumber and spreading the affliction.

I saw steam shovel for excavator or track hoe last week.

Pick a network. They are absolutely ignorant about simple concepts when it come to guns. 7 shot semi-auto pistols are elevated to full auto. Anything longer than 10" that's not a single shot is an assault weapon.

...and ultrasound images shown on TV are always accompanied by the "whoosh-whoosh" sound of Spectral Doppler, even if there's no Doppler imaging being done.

Guess what: these guys don't know as much as you do. They're trying to learn about a new field and present things accurately but along the way they make mistakes -- just like those of us new to TOD do. (And many of us here have much stronger technical backgrounds than the reporters.) To top it off they're working on deadlines, and their job is to communicate the gist of things to a similarly unlearned audience.

I'll repost a quote I found and liked (http://geophysics.vox.com/library/post/reading-for-comprehension.html):

Reporters and scientists are communicators, first and foremost. But where scientists use exacting language to describe their results to others with a common background [1], reporters use imprecise language to discuss the work of others with a diverse audience [2]. As a result, there is frequently an inherent disconnect when the reporter and the scientist talk to each other.

In this case, the fact that the relief well is actually called a relief well by the industry is much more misleading than some reporter calling it a relief tunnel. (Relief well makes most of those who haven't been to TOD think that the goal of the well is to relieve pressure by draining the reservoir.)

I grasp your point and cede a chunk of it, but they've had decades and multiple opportunities to discern that a semi-auto is not a machine gun.

Yeah, I agree about the misused gun terminology, and I grumble about them myself. I posted because there's so much reflexive "lookit the stoopid media" bashing in TOD these days.

Here's hoping a generation raised on FPS video games will do better in future. For guns at least. :)

Pick a network. They are absolutely ignorant about simple concepts when it come to guns. 7 shot semi-auto pistols are elevated to full auto. Anything longer than 10" that's not a single shot is an assault weapon.

Some of it is ignorance, but a lot of it, is it helps advance their anti-gun agenda.

Some of it is ignorance, but a lot of it, is it helps advance their anti-gun agenda.

Haha - you give them too much credit.

I doubt reporters, as a general class of people, have any different spread of feelings about guns than the rest of the population.

What they do share is a general desire for drama. This is probably the most insidious problem one has to deal with. Reporters don't like boring news. There always has to be an "angle" which is attention grabbing. With crime reporting you can see how there will be a simple force at work escalating the class of weapon used. Vastly more dramatic to report that an "assault weapon" was used. It has all sots of undertones.

So often one sees a story totally butchered so that a bit of human drama can be injected into the reporting. Indeed it sometimes seems that this need for a human angle is explored with almost total disregard for the real facts or merits of the story. News program directors often seem to have a quota on news items. You always get a program balanced with so many minutes of politics, so many minutes of international news, and so many minutes of cute heartwarming stories, and so many minutes of human drama. Which means that the news is morphed to fit an agenda. An agenda of ratings. No need for conspiracy theories about control of the news, it is mostly vastly more mundane. And stupid.

I have long had a simple rule. Anything you read about or see in the news media that you have expert knowledge of you will find is wrong. Not just dumbed down, but morphed in such a way that it invariably contains factual errors. Which I remind myself of when I do read a newspaper or watch TV, and wonder just what I can rely on for the 99.9% of the news I'm not expert in.

100% agree. I have the same rule - but mine just was formed just recently. I was lucky enough to be in a position to see the financial crisis from August '07 credit crunch to the crash and through to the bankruptcies from an insider perspective at a company who was in the news frequently. The difference between what I saw at my work and what was actually reported the next day was insane. The news was just plain fictional on many accounts: a made for t.v. drama loosly based on actual events. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Actually the first track hoes were often called as "steam shovels" and the term is still used occasionally by old timers.

The excavators used in digging the Panama Canal were steam powered and basically the same machine as a modern track hoe, except the boom geometry and motive power is different.

The old machines used steel cables aka wire rope and the bucket filled moving up and away from the operator.

The new ones use diesel engines and hydraulic cylinders and the bucket fills coming down and toward the operator.

But I agree with the sentiments expressed.Sloppy language hinders communication, or renders it impossible.

Remember the movie "Idiocracy", well its misrepresented in a at least two ways...

It is instead a Documentary, and will not take 500 years...

"Remember the movie "Idiocracy", well its misrepresented in a at least two ways...

It is instead a Documentary, and will not take 500 years..."

In Idiocracy the hit movie for the year was "Ass" where it was simply an ass farting for 2 hrs....

IN 2007/8 there was a movie called "Jackass2" where a man puts his penis in a sock puppet mouse and places his mouse disguised member into a snake tank to be bitten, and much worse, more stupifying idiotic and disgusting activities.

Dumb and dumber and spreading the affliction.

But AP started calling it a "tunnel" only in the last day or so. Why the change? Was it internal, or did someone from TPTB tell them to? So far, it's only AP that I've seen.

They must be preparing the trained sharks to go in. AP's got an exclusive but is still vetting.

Well, after reading the following, which proves that the EPA, OSHA and NOAA are just shills for BP, I'll take my chances with the bacteria anyday.


Speaking of Round-up, follow the money trail with Monsanto and it becomes very obvious that the FDA was and still is a shill for Monsanto.

Government is not a shill for business. Government is a shill of itself. The ultimate example of narcissism. The symptoms fit perfectly.
"Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others."
The simple selfishness part includes all the greed and corruption.

Government is not a shill for business.

I prefer to call it a corporate cat toy.

You folks who see the problems with big biz -big banks, big oil,big corporations in general-but don't see the problem with big govt are partially blinded by your own prejudices perhaps?

Which has a steadier record of growth, the greatest revenues,possession of large numbers of well organized armed men,nuclear wapons, the highest total number of employees,
the power to really do about as it pleases, within the realm of the doable?

Which industry, or group of industries , has the power and influence of Congress and the Social Security Administration alone once the chips are down?

When govt itself feels threatened by any industry or business, watch govt dismantle it piecemeal or wholesale.Remember OPEC, VENEZUELA?

This is not to say that industries can't dismantle a govt occasionally-if they are backstopped by a bigger govt.

Or that govt doesn't act as the corporate cat house for the fat fats occasionally-regularly.

How is that so different from the human condition in general?

No, they are a shill for business, Narcissism applies to the Oligarchs who own the politicians.

Paint -
My point is that most sliver bullets have a lead core.

Anybody wanting a Simmons fix can view his 7 minute 7/21 interview on Bloomberg at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwX9RXFRJD4.

One tidbit about the well pressure from Bloomberg hosts ... (That's a link to Barrons, but he's made it to FT too)

But when asked about the latest pressure reading BP has offered — 6,844 psi, up from yesterday’s 6,825 — Simmons dismissed the figure out of hand.

“It’s a total diversion - that’s the gas condensation that was trapped in the drilling riser which blew off the wellhead,” said Simmons.

That drilling riser sure is a large capacity size - seems it holds anything Simmons needs. I'm not clear on how the riser switched from being on top of the BOP to underneath it though.

It flew off during the BOP's maiden voyage.

Please explain what made the 30-foot gash in the aluminum deck of the helipad, if not the ORIGINAL BOP.

BOP could be feeding us snaps of a nearby damaged well or RW, plus their fancy cap on top. Tell me you wouldn't put it past them?



I don't know because I wasn't there.

Yeah, the feeds are all fake. That's a papier mache BOP we're looking at because the real one is on the bottom of the sea about 5 or 6 or 10 miles out, lounging leisurely by the growing shores of Lake Simmons, home of the world's only heavier than water oil.

home of the world's only heavier than water oil.

Now, now, there are natural reservoirs of oil that are heavier than water. The only problem with them is they're nearly a solid at room temperature & won't flow (have to dilute with e.g. diesel or heat up with steam injection to actually get any significant flow).

So Lake Simmons must actually be an asphalt parking lot on the ocean floor... if only the ROV's could find it, they could avoid getting all that mud on them when parking!

Snakehead sez,

"I don't know because I wasn't there.

Yeah, the feeds are all fake. That's a papier mache BOP we're looking at because the real one is on the bottom of the sea about 5 or 6 or 10 miles out, lounging leisurely by the growing shores of Lake Simmons, home of the world's only heavier than water oil."


Snakehead couldn't handle the issue, anyone else want to try?

Also, Snakehead apparently doesn't the recognize the posited difference between a "paper mache fake BOP" and a "totally different BOP", from a nearby damaged well or a RW.

Flame away guys. About 60% of TODer's seem to have an emotional investment in calling Simmons a lunatic, anyway.

I believe him to be credible, but confused. (Of course the discharge can't be coming from a mile-long pipe). IMO Simmons either is in possession of inside info, or disinfo (when he claims that NOAA has examined the BOP, lying on the ocean floor, and shot through with casing).

Again, is there anyone who wants to speculate as to the cause of the 30-ft gash in the aluminum helipad deck, other than a cute reply?


PS, TOD folks. Y'all don't know me from Adam, but back in the day I participated in numerous forensic investigations in the petrochem business. If anyone is afraid to seriously examine the hole in the helipad deck, in the above video, he's got his head in the sand.

If I can be proven wrong, I welcome it. It's my Gulf, too.

The YouTube link 404s.

I'm guessing here, but if Simmons hadn't included a BOP being launched out of the sea in his assertions, there could still have been a 30 ft. gash since the rig suffered an explosion and fire sufficient to sink it. But since he does assert that it was the BOP, and regardless of all his other unsupported assertions, it's up to others to disprove that. It takes a true believer to take that stance.

The majority of these issues are so idiotic they don't warrant handling. With the passage of time, and all these things prove to be false, will you personally recant? Or just claim further conspiracy? When claims of events occuring that disobey the basic laws of physics, they are generally disregarded, as they should be.

Please explain what made the 30-foot gash in the aluminum deck of the helipad

I think it was the burning of the helicopter fuel tank located below the helipad. Could be wrong, though.

Please explain what made the 30-foot gash in the aluminum deck of the helipad, if not the ORIGINAL BOP.

It melted.

From this list you can see it has a much lower melting point than steel.

The larger/earlier phase of the fire, burning up the rig fuel, oil-based mud, helo-fuel, emergency generator fuel, supplies, etc.
Looks about the size/shape of a fuel tank/secondary containment structure.
Heat/blast pressure rupture the tank/fittings, vapors ignite, burn a hole in the deck, then the helo fuel burns out.

contrast April 20 fire pics vs. April 22nd.

Aluminum melts at 660 °C (1220 °F), and most oil fires are hotter than that.

Most steel derricks sag in a few hours after a blowout->fire.

pics 8 and 9 here show the force of the engine room explosion.

(not that any factual evidence or historically based experience would sway someone in the grip of a conspiracy "theory").

I agree with melted.
1) The beams and supporting structure are intact and clearly visible beneath the deck.
2) There is no distortion of the metal. Had something crashed through it (either upward or downward) there would be bent and twisted metal showing the direction of the path.
If you said it was eaten by rouge bacteria I'd have had a harder time dismissing the notion.
By the way, if it was hot enough, aluminum will actually burn. That could explain the shape of the hole beyond the size of any fuel tank that may have been below it (does any know for sure if there was a tank below deck?)

That first guys is not telling the truth and you can tell he has an agenda. For example the corexit use on the surface is being sprayed out of aircraft. He says it is being dropped like napalm.

All of the ingredients have been made public. This is just more hype.

maybe he just got his nasty chemicals mixed up and meant they were spraying it like Agent Orange?

Wile E Coyote on a good day could not make that shot.

Must be a special riser with a Tesseract inside it that can hold most anything.

Either this guy has a screw loose or has some sort of dementia. And the media still gives him time when the other 99.99999% of the people with knowledge or common sense about this situation dismiss him. So is he just entertainment value now?

Yeah that Simmons guy sure is scary. Thank god all the experts at the Oil Drum have thoroughly discredited his lunatic theories.

I'm sure glad to see that BP has finally plugged that little 1,000 barrel leak of theirs. Now I can keep driving my SUV with peace of mind.

Theories have to be cohesive. When you get the diagram done, please post it.

Snakehead (and everyone else)
I think we can all agree that the theories being propounded by MS present us with a bit of a dilemna. On one hand, we have a highly respected individual with many years experience and many highly placed contacts in the oil industry. On the other hand, the theories defy logic, based on the data available to the ignorant, unwashed masses (ie. you and I lol).
So, with that in mind, and not wishing to promote conspiracy theories, can we make any part of his theory work?
The most obvious snag, as has been repeatedly mentioned, is the 120,000 bpd leak from the "other" well. Common sense tells us that, with a s.g of less than 1.0, it should float to the surface. MS, on the other hand, tells us of a vast lake of oil on the seabed.
Is there an explanation that can acommodate this phenomenon?
What if (and this is a very large what if) the "other" well had no restrictive BOP to slow down the flow but rather was a wide open high speed jet composed of oil and methane? Adding in lowered temperatures and elevated water pressure, could we see an atomization of the oil into particles that, in combination with heavier compounds (I know I know....metamorphosis is REALLY pushing things) simply do not rise to the surface but rather are collecting at the seabed?

*Ducks behind curtain as audience begins to hurl tomatoes*

What other well? They drilled B, stopped, then went back and blew it up.

Anne Rice would be proud.

But it doesn't work like that. The amount of time required for the oil to rise the mile to the surface is sufficiently less than the amount of time required for it to begin breaking down (let alone lose all of the volatiles) that we would see it.

And if it didn't? If the scenario is accurate and a Lake Simmons of pitch is being deposited on the floor of the GoM at 120KBPD?

So what? If it is that heavy it's not going to be bothering anything. It will not spontaneously become lighter than water and rise to the surface to menace Florida beaches.

The claims are contradictory. It cannot be both things at the same time, and there is no reasonable mechanism for it to switch between the two.

If it is that heavy it's not going to be bothering anything.

Good point, well, except for the sparse fauna that live in the seafloor sediment.

There are vast expanses of tar on the floor of the Atlantic abyssal plain. There's some footage of it in the Nat. Geographic special, "Draining the Oceans." Even some corals growing on it. (I've read that corals have heavily colonized some of the tar deposits left over from the Ixtoc spill.)

The explanation has nothing to do with physics, which you explained correctly: most oil rises (only the very heaviest fractions sink, and those are proportionately small). The explanation lies in Simmons' financial position, which requires him to sell several thousand shares of BP stock at a high enough price (though still short) so that he won't lose several hundred thousand dollars.

His explanations of physics and geology are stupid to the point of not even being cartoonish. He's earned the general disdain he receives at this site.

Here's what I just don't get about MS, why the continued insistence on the giant hole/ lake of oil? At this point, this far into it why continue? What could he possibly still have to gain at this point? Even the laypeople can see via the rov feeds that there are no huge fissures near the well head, no gulf killing lake of oil and though I'm a complete ignoramus I do believe that giant steel structure the rovs keep staring at is indeed the BOP. All joking aside, he needs to stop this event is bad enough it killed 11 people and has ruined the lives of thousands of others. To continue to sensationalize this event, for whatever reason is just disrespectful to those who have died and suffered because of this. It's getting disgusting.

Matt come to your senses, show a little humility and respect and just stop.

I can make no sense of MS either, but he has started an education fund for the 21 children of the 11 who died which is far more than BP has done. They will penny pitch those families and all damaged by this. Matt may be wrong, crazy, demented, but he has shown more respect for the 11 killed than BP has. Matt hasn't caused anyone's death or done anything that has hurt anyone's livelihood. That culprit is BP and they and their lies and their attempts to coverup are the ultimate of disrespect for all who are suffering for their actions

I think he's off his rocker, too.

However, you assume that the rov feeds are real and true. BP's already been shown to have photoshop'd pictures they are using, they have their own 'reporters' reporting bogus crap. How do we know the feeds are real?

Now readjusting my tin foil hat

People are really scared. They hear alot of stuff and do not know enough to dismiss it. I think that the video feeds provide reassurance that nothing is going on.

Among all the crazy things that Simmons said, he also said they have set up an education fund for the 21 children of the 11 men who died.

Also mentioned at http://knox.villagesoup.com/news/story/matt-simmons-tells-a-real-ugly-st...
"On July 13, he invited various Midcoast citizens to his Fox Hill property, the estate he bought this past year from former MBNA banker Charles Cawley, to talk about the gulf disaster. That same night, he announced the DWHCCF Children's Scholarship Fund, set up to educate the 21 children whose fathers were the 11 crew members who perished in the Deepwater Horizon fire on April 20."

We have to give him that.... Yes?

Good intention, perhaps, but, at this point, I'd be reluctant to send any money to any organization he had any influence over. (incidentally, he also spoke of the fund in the Bloomberg video linked above.)

The offshore crews have capped the well and stopped the flow (except for a few bubbles). BP will eventually be fined for the oil that spilled (I understand that to be around $4300/bbl) as soon as they figure out how much (not going there). That spill amount (in theory) would be from April 20th to July 15th (when they capped it). If the gubbmint orders the cap opened....who is liable?

WE are. We always were.

New York Times:
Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety

In the survey, commissioned by the rig’s owner, Transocean, workers said that company plans were not carried out properly and that they “often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig.”

But there are nuances,

“Almost everyone felt they could raise safety concerns and these issues would be acted upon if this was within the immediate control of the rig,” said the report, which also found that more than 97 percent of workers felt encouraged to raise ideas for safety improvements and more than 90 percent felt encouraged to participate in safety-improvement initiatives.

But investigators also said, “It must be stated at this point, however, that the workforce felt that this level of influence was restricted to issues that could be resolved directly on the rig, and that they had little influence at Divisional or Corporate levels.”

That is perhaps not entirely surprising. On the other hand, the following is perhaps more interesting from a systemic perspective:

Investigators also said “nearly everyone” among the workers they interviewed believed that Transocean’s system for tracking health and safety issues on the rig was “counter productive.”

Many workers entered fake data to try to circumvent the system, known as See, Think, Act, Reinforce, Track — or Start. As a result, the company’s perception of safety on the rig was distorted, the report concluded.

I have seen sites that use START or similar programs with a quota on reports of unsafe activities. Each shift you are expected to produce X reports of unsafe activity. The idea is that if everyone is looking for unsafe activities, they will be corrected. But if people are just looking for something to put on a card to meet their quota, the cards tend to become trivial.

Forgive me if this question has already been answered. Does anyone know how many barrels of oil were being produced from the Deepwater Horizone each year?


DH was an exploratory, not production, well. They had finished their exploratory drilling and were planning on plugging and abandoning it when it blew. (If the P&A had been done, they would have been able to return later to put it in production.)

Thanks! Wall Street Journal says USA consumes 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year? I wonder how many barrels of oil it takes to make those shopping bags. Wall Street Journal say 12 million barrels. 42 gallons to a barrel. That is approximately 500 million gallons of oil to make about one and a half year supply of shopping bags. Maybe one whole offshore oil rig, The Deepwater Horizon or Atlantis, which they anticipated would produce 200,000 barrels a day, was out there for no other reason than to make sure that we have a future in shopping bags!!! Please check my math. I may have it calculated wrong.

Paper or plastic? Plastic bags save trees. Also, I believe plastic bags are made from natural gas, not oil.

"The Deepwater Horizon or Atlantis, which they anticipated would produce 200,000 barrels a day, was out there for no other reason than to make sure that we have a future in shopping bags!!!"

Oil wells are "out there" so you and I and others in this world can have computers, tape, shoes, bicycle tires, handlebar grips, wiring insulation, windbreakers and hundreds of other articles we use every day. 25% all oil use is non-fuel in nature.

the figures on plastic shopping bags


A little reminder that trees are a renewable resource.

Well, to be more accurate, trees are a potentially renewable resource. If we use 'em faster than they grow, and destroy the environments they grow in... not so much.

The soil they grow on is not self renewing. Keep growing and harvesting, growing and harvesting and you will ruin the soil. So to keep the soil in condition you have to bring in nutrients, nitrogen made from natural gas, and others that are mined and transported by diesel. Then you cut the trees using gasoline, haul them to a mill, mash and smash them and make paper which is highly polluting. So much for renewable paper bags.

Very good point, and one I hadn't thought of. I often get a little upset with the "paper" issue because trees are renewable - and we seem to manage them very well here in the US. My kids are not being taught that in the same way we were 30 years ago. Perhaps your points are the reason why.


To me, forest management and the lumber industry is a diamond in a rough - an example of how we can maintain ecological balance and supply our needs. I am originally from NE PA, and to see pictures of the area 150 years ago is mind blowing. Mud as far as the eye could see because we completely stripped the land. Go there today and you will find dense forest literally everywhere - some from the west actually get clusterphobic driving our backroads. And there still is a very healthy lumber industry there. We learned how to do it.

Your points are well taken, however I think they are two seperate issues ultimately. The energy used to produce paper products (hopefully) can be replaced with something more viable to sustainability someday. But trees are still renewable if managed properly.

Paper mills pollute, too though.

Hemp would be a better source for paper, wouldn't it? Faster growth, more fiber, less pollution.

As for bags...why don't people have cloth ones?

Other stuff made using oil that you don't need:

• Solvents such as those used in paints, lacquers, and printing inks
• Lubricating oils and greases for automobile engines and other machinery
• Petroleum (or paraffin) wax used in candy making, packaging, candles, matches, and polishes
• Petrolatum (petroleum jelly) sometimes blended with paraffin wax in medical products and toiletries
• Asphalt used to pave roads and airfields, to surface canals and reservoirs, and to make roofing materials and floor coverings
• Petroleum coke used as a raw material for many carbon and graphite products, including furnace electrodes and liners, and the anodes used in the production of aluminum.
• Petroleum Feedstocks used as chemical feedstock derived from petroleum principally for the manufacture of chemicals, synthetic rubber, and a variety of plastics.

Are you saying that these item cannot be replaced with something else?

Replacing them with something else will increase cost. And then there are the irreplaceables. Carbon fibers, pharmaceuticals, exotic fabrics like Kevlar and Nomex. Maybe the value of these is so high that even at $10,000 a barrel they will still be produced. But some things will become unaffordable and not be replaced.

Costs? Is the answer always short-term cost issues?

Look around you at how much is petroleum based, particularly plastics. Now how much of the plastic crap is a complete waste of resources? The packaging alone these days is just gross.

imo, the first issue is TOO MUCH of everything.

You forgot makeup, shampoo, deodorant. Some people need those :)

It does not necessarily take any oil. The plastics industry was developed to find a use for petroleum byproducts.

The Deepwater Horizon was a drilling rig. So, as such, it was not capable of producing oil.

so they drill so that oil can be extracted? what is the difference between Atlantis and Deepwater Horizon?

Atlantis is a production platform the has significant seperation capabilities and its job is to collect several wells worth of oil (>100k bbl/d) and pump it to shore (via the Mardi Gras pipeline) but does not have the ability to drill wells.

DWH was a drilling rig that could seperate a small amount of oil (<20k bbl/d)and did not have much if any storage capacity and is not connected to a major shore line.

Deepwater Horizon was a floating, dynamically positioned drilling rig. It drilled one well and then moved to do another. BP Atlantis is a floating, moored production platform. It separates oil from gas.

Atlantis is production and quarters (PQ) without any drilling capacity. Wells are drilled by contract drillships, like Discoverer Enterprise and Deepwater Horizon. After the drilling is completed, the well is piped back to Atlantis for production.

Some drillships have limited production capacity to determine oil/gas/water/sand content and how the well responds to initial production rates.

Thunder Horse is a Production/Drilling/Quarters (PDQ) so it can drill wells directly under the PDQ. TH can be moved several hundred feet to locate over different wells. Wells farther out are done with drillships.

BP's (BP/ LN) Guide says delay in some rig repairs due to waiting for parts, and last visit to rig was in early February

16:44 22-07-2010

Hi All
We wanted to update you on our efforts to raise attention the City Government of Apalachicola. A city fighting to protect itself before oil arrives and it's too late. Relatively ignored by bp and The White House until this week.
Our full report including todays update of a meeting with Unified Command can be found all on this page.

If they have to re-open the well due to site evacuation it will be a complete embarrassment for "Unified" Command.

They've spent so long mulling over the potential risks of what is to any engineer worth his salt the obvious step to take (namely introducing drilling mud into the system to lower the pressure), that they've failed to realize that not making any timely decision also posed a potentially even greater risk.

They could have had this well killed by now. Kent Wells first mentioned it in his technical briefing three days ago, and it was obvious that BP was very keen to proceed as soon as possible, and wanted to go ahead within 1 - 2 days. But no, they have to spend days getting documentation together to seek an approval. Then they're (needlessly) told to get the final casing in the RW in place first. (That idea can't have come from BP originally, because Kent Wells would then have never suggested the timeframe of 1 - 2 days for attempting the kill that he did.)

What an absolute and unmitigated fiasco! Talk about too many scientists "spoiling the broth".

If "Unified" Command wants to save face now, it must leave the well shut in. To open the well, releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf that could easily have been avoided, would rightly anger and upset millions of people whose lives are affected by it.


They still have time if they act NOW, but I seriously doubt they will be allowed to.

Having the Federal government involved always streamlines the decision making process, so I don't see the problem.


Yup, BP sure likes to do things fast. Like skippng most of the centralizers. Or rushing into a bullhead without establishing well inegrity. There are always folks who hail this behavior as virtuous - if they got away with it, it must have been a good decision. The response when the luck is not with them is "accidents happen".

The responsible thing to do was to ACTUALLY follow their own plans, which called for a full topside collection capacity, a storm-disconnect with a temporary storage facility and a whole bunch of other, lower risk, sensible things that would allow them to shut down this disaster (of their own making) in an orderly manner. This is the plans they promised they would IMPLEMENT by end of July. As we can see, most of these things were not done, due to lack of planning, day-to-day decision making, procrastination and a great diversion of a "quick cap", which sidetracked most of their actual plans for the last three weeks.

The fault here lies squarely with the functional management of the project, which is BP's responsibiltiy. What we see now is how BP works - don't follow sensible plans, rush into long diversions without thinking through all the consequences, hope and pray you get lucky.

There was no temporary storage facility. The plan was to open the floodgates and add plenty of Corexit. They can still follow that plan. "Kill the Gulf for its own safety." It will be very sad if they take that course, but I am sure you will be happy because the plan was followed.

James in SA,

Actually there was supposed to be a temp storage if I remember correctly but with that aside look at the advantage of having the containment system in place. The plan BP chose left them without a backup plan. With containment in place the collection and processing could continue with wave action caused by TD's or huricanes and they could disconnect if need arises. The closed window is small for collection compared to the larger window needed for construction when you take into consideration calmer seas are needed. How long was the wait after the last hurricane? Daily breifings focused on calmer seas and the five to seven day window needed to install containment devices. BP installed the first piece of equipment and proposed an immmediate left turn in plans.

The posts I've been reading today indicates there's more BP apologists here than I anticipated.

Following the general plan with minor deviations if necessary usually produces good results. Rockman posted a good example of this yesterday and I don't think Dimitry is suggesting what you propose.

Dimitry, If we look back at your original posts on this site, YOU recommended removing the flange and capping it right IIRC (If I Recall Correctly). I said I didn't think they could remove the bolts, and at the time they couldn't but the certainly figured out how later. What I don't understand is why you don't like the plan they are following which was YOUR original plan?

I do think BP is sick of having to follow "Unified Command's" orders and is now painting them into a corner. If UC decides to OPEN the wellhead because there MAY be a problem, that is all on them, not on BP and I think BP wants the world to know that. Furthermore, we'll never know whether the TopKill might have worked or not because UC pulled the plug on THAT. How many bbls of oil might NOT be in the GOM if BP's TopKill had succeeded?

Admittedly the industry's record of successful wells without a blowout (30,000 is not the correct number, it is more like 43,000 or higher counting uneconomic wells) led to some complacency. OOTH, compare that record to your friendly neighborhood surgeon, or hospital's failure rates. NASA has nothing like that kind of success ratio, nor do most industries. BP got behind the 8 ball made stupid (in 20-20 hindsight) decisions that cost them the well, cost them the DH and cost them $100B market cap + $20-50B more in payouts. One mistake even of this magnitude doesn't necessitate that ALL their decisions are faulty, not compared to their own deepwater success rate. In other words, does that fact that a SUBSET of their management were idiots condemn the ENTIRE management and staff to the same judgement?

They could have had this well killed by now


In an interview Thursday, Dr. Chu said that if he had understood geology and well technology better in the early days after the April 20 blowout, he might have urged a faster attempt at the top kill, which involved shooting mud and other gunk to clog up the damaged blowout preventer atop the gushing well. The delay, he said, might have allowed pressure to increase in the well, rendering the attempt fruitless when it was tried at the end of May.

...His role gradually deepened as he assembled a team of scientists from the Department of Energy laboratories, universities and other government agencies. By late May, his confidence had grown and he was giving orders to BP officials, including his demand to stop the top kill effort even though some BP engineers believed it could still succeed.

"A lot of us said ‘don't start it,' and he was the one who said ‘stop,' " said a BP technician who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company. "But having done all we had already done, I thought we should have completed the final two operations. He was not keen to listen. BP people said, ‘Let's try these last two steps,' but he said, ‘No, stop.' "

The low risk decision can appear "gutless" and "wrong" in hindsight. It is sometimes very difficult to make and requires a brave person to stand up to the crowd demanding immediate, high risk action.

What do you think is the lowest risk decision in the current situation, now with a storm bearing down on them?

Well, they are both very difficutl decisions at this point.

It heavily depends on their technical assessment of well integrity. They have been running their pressure reading against partially calibrated models of the well system.

They have to conclude if they DO have well integrity or they can't make that statement with adequate certainty. If they DO have well integrity, they should leave it capped, if they can't be certain of that they should open it for the duratin of the storm.

This is an engineering decision and political considerations should not play into it. I say the engineering group should call it - it's time to fish or cut bait. That's what engineers are paid to do. Should be done by senior people (high senior principal or engineering fellow level) - i.e. people with excellent technical background and plenty of real-life experience.


I agree so who on the BP side of this operation do we trust to make these decisions?

I assume they have 25+ year experience career engineers working for them, don't they?

I would hope so but I am reflecting on the brilliance we have heard about leading up to May 20. I agree with you but I am questioning their ability to do the right thing on anything other than suit BP's interest.

Agree on every point.

What do you think is the lowest risk decision in the current situation, now with a storm bearing down on them?

Just so we are on the same page, I use the definition

Risk = Probability of Something Happening * Consequences of Something Happening

Here is my back-of-the-envelope risk assessment: For consequences, I will used barrels of oil spilled.

Option 1: Opening Up the Well While the Storm Passes

Under this scenario, the probability So what is the risk of opening up the well for 8 days while the storm passes?

Risk = 100% * 8 * 50,000 = 400,000 bbl of oil spilled.

Option 2: Leave the Well Capped While the Storm Passes

Scenario 2a = the leaks stay about the same at ~1 bbl / day. Assume probability of 10%

Risk = 10% * 8 * 1 = 0.8 bbl

Scenario 2b = the leaks double in size every day for 8 days. Assume probability of 80%

Risk = 80% * (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + . . . 128) = 80% * 255 = 204 barrels

Scenario 2c = The well immediately blows out as soon as they leave, and it flows at 50,000 bbl/day until the bottom kill can be done in mid-August.

Risk = 10% * 50,000/day * 21 days = 105,000 bbl of oil spilled.

Sum of Scenario 2 = 0.8 + 204 + 105,000 = 105204.8

Conclusions and comments . . . I seriously doubt if the probability of a blowout is anywhere near as high as 10%, and I seriously doubt if the well did blow out, it would flow again at 50,000 bbl/day, since more than likely a blowout would be an undersea blowout with a higher resistance to flow.

"if he had understood geology and well technology better"

"if he had understood geology and well technology better"


He should have finished that sentence with: "I would have deferred decision making to those who understood geology and well technology better."

I wonder is it now probable that BP had the well effectively initially balanced at somewhere around 6000psi or a bit above during top-kill (remember the announcement of no oil flowing into gulf - only mud). However the, then effectively shut in, well started to build pressure as the local reservoir recharged just as we have seen with the current cap. Thus the well started flowing back and BP asked to ramp up the pumps to counter this. Chu said no not understanding what was happening (either the low pressure balance of 6000psi or why the well started flowing back after a time). Is what he is saying now admitting that was through ignorance not abundance of caution?

If BP had taken the pressure up just a few hundred more psi would the well have likely been shut that day?

Or maybe blown the casing. BP has an ufortunate tendency NOT to follow actual test plans - witness how their "stage by stage" pressure increase (with 6 hour holds and consultations) that they promised would occur during the initial stages of the "well integrity tests" abruptly became full pressure in half an hour after an immediate full shut-in.

The outright hatred of all things government on this site has become rather suffocating.

Jimmy Carter founded the Dept of Energy in 1977 to "end America's dependence on foreign oil." We were importing 38% of our oil at the time, which was considered a crisis. The DOE has worked on this problem for 33 years. It now has an annual budget of $35 billion and over 100,000 govt employees. The result is, we now import around 62% of the oil we use.

Another example of your govt solving your problems, using your money.

And his successor(s) killed many alternative energy programs that could have addressed this problem. Of course, the bureaucracy lived on, spending money on other things -- some valuable, some not. I'm not defending the DOE's value over the last 30 years, but as for its failure to lessen oil imports, it had plenty of non-help.


Or maybe blown the casing. BP has an u[n]fortunate tendency NOT to follow actual test plans - witness how their "stage by stage" pressure increase (with 6 hour holds and consultations) that they promised would occur during the initial stages of the "well integrity tests" abruptly became full pressure in half an hour after an immediate full shut-in.

I've been thinking about the failed topkill and the discrepancy between the expected (based on wellhead pressure and mud weight) psi of 11,900 and the "discovered" psi of ~6800. Now we know they tried a lot of things with topkill but has ANYONE considered the possibility that top kill partially succeeded? What if topkill actually LOWERED the well pressure by 5000 psi? There are after all a lot of golf balls and other detritus unaccounted for on the ocean floor (don't see any ROV's batting those golf balls around, so they must still be in the hole).

Everyone is interested and everyone is concerned. However my personal experience with "the government" making things "better" is poor to abject failure. The only thing this government does in a competent manner is the military, and that's only because they are largely hands off. Once the politicians start getting hands on with the military, it too rapidly falls apart, as we saw in Vietnam again and again.

So, do I "hate" the government, or simply distrust them to do a competent job? Answer 2 is correct.

Please make sure you don't call 911 in case of an emergency, since an incompetent government worker will answer your line and dispatch an equally incompetent cop or fireman.

Absolutely don't ever use tap water without conducting your own extensive quality tests.

Do not take any medicines - these were all "approved" by the incompetent, meddling government beaurocrats.

Never send you childrent to public schools or universities - they will be made stupid there by the stupid government teachers.

Demand that the government stops spending any and all monies on things they can't possibly do - nuclear physics, astronomy, space research, desease prevention. They can't possibly accomplish anything - they don't have the "profit motive", which everyone knows is responsible for every great thing in the world - from the Bible to the American Idol.

The list goes on, but I am out of time.

+100. Let me add a few:

The roads you drive on - as well as all those signs that keep the roads from being a dodge-em ride.

The cars you drive and their relative safety given the speeds and forces involved.

The fact that commercial planes have an incredible safety record.

The internet.

National Defense.

Your civil rights.

The fact that we are not in a depression right now.

The fact that there have not been any more 9/11 type attacks for almost a decade.

and on and on and on and on....

Jeffrey Dahmer's mom had an entirely different opinion of her son from that of the jury which found him guilty. She was probably not entirely wrong either. Fortunately, emphasizing evidence of his good nature at sentencing did not distract the judge entirely from the content of the JD's freezer.

The absurdity of this govgood/govbad argument flows from a belief that one side or the other must be entirely right...or wrong.

The issue is only black or white for the "bad govt" crowd.

Nobody thinks the government is entirely good. They mess up - they are fluid like everything else. There is corruption and misguided motives.

But a growing number of people on this post (and in general) seem to not only think the government is entirely bad, but also use it as a fact to support their argument.

We are merely asserting that this is not a fact - and giving examples to support our assertion.

Dimitry, I would rather you address my technical issues above instead of swimming in the swamp of politics, but I will address your points in line by my personal experience:

911 call. The last emergency where I dialed 911, I was shunted to an automated attendant. ONE HOUR LATER, when I finally got through to a human being I was told an officer would be "right out". ONE MORE HOUR LATER the officer showed up, his lips still had the powdered sugar from the donuts he had clearly (by weight) been eating plenty of. The burglar, who I had trapped in my garage, had long since escaped by breaking out a window in the back (I couldn't guard both places at once and was warned if I shot him I would face charges since he wasn't "in my house").

My city gets its water from an aquifer. They do NOTHING except add chlorine to meet federal regulations. They charge MORE than other communities who have to perform EXTENSIVE purification on their water. When there was a major leak in my neighborhood because of heavy earth moving equipment the water department was immediately called. SIX HOURS LATER, a neighbor and I personally lifted the manhole cover ourselves, climbed in and shut the 12" valve off. After the contractor who had caused the leaking main fixed it, we waited overnight, and then climbed back in and turned the water back on. The city water crew NEVER SHOWED UP.

I take no medicines, but do names like VIOXX and Thalidomide mean anything to you?

I went to private schools and I sent my children to private schools. The smartest kid I knew growing up used to get beat up at the public school he went to because he was such a "nerd". He responded by going from straight A's to C's and D's. He could have been a brilliant scientist or engineer, used to design and build electronics projects that were out of this world when he was 11 years old. Last I heard, he was working as a mechanic.

Your last statement is just a political rant, nothing to rebut there. From my personal experience I'll just mention ONE thing. Back when I started my Internet company, DARPA was funding the backbone. They also had stupid rules like a .com could not have an entire T1 (1.54 mpbs) but could only connect at 23/24ths. I testified that the Internet would grow at an exponential pace if only the government would get the hell out of the way. I was laughed out of the room at my OUTLANDISH curve showing my projected growth rate. My only regret in hindsight is my curve was too shallow. Nuff said.

Meanwhile, instead of frustrating yourself with politics, why not take that engineering education and experience you are so proud of and go through the numbers I gave in the post above?

The FDA blocked the marketing of thalidomide in the US, significantly sparing us the major tragedy seen elsewhere in the world. The FDA's Dr. Frances Kelsey refused FDA approval - I'm old enough to remember her stand against its use.

It is currently available in the US on a very limited basis for use against multiple myeloma I believe.

That's one theory. Another is that the US blocked the availability of a potentially very useful drug for 40 years for no particular reason - once you understand the birth defect issue you don't make it available to women who might become or who are pregnant. Among other things Thalidomide is a powerful antiangiogenic drug.

There are clinical trials underway for the use of thalidomide in the following diseases:

* Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
* Aphthous ulcer
* Behcet's syndrome
* Brain cancer
* Breast cancer
* Cachexia
* Colorectal cancer
* Congestive heart failure
* Crohn's disease
* Diarrhea
* Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
* Graft-versus-host disease
* Haematological malignancy
* HIV infections
* Hodgkin's disease
* Kaposi's sarcoma
* Leukaemia
* Macular degeneration
* Malignant melanoma
* Mycobacterium avium complex infections
* Myelodysplastic syndrome
* Myelofibrosis
* Myeloid leukaemia
* Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
* Non-small cell lung cancer
* Ovarian cancer
* Pain
* Prostate cancer
* Prurigo nodularis
* Renal cancer
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* Small cell lung cancer
* Systemic lupus erythematosus
* Thyroid cancer
* Tuberculosis


I guess if I lived in a communist hellhole like you do, which apparently doesn't offer 911 and police service in case of armed standoff, no municipal service in case of major mains flood and apparently a public school suffering from chronic violence I would move or work toward reforming your city government services.

Your experience is directly oppostive of mine, where a 911 phone call brings immediate response of fire and police officers, one time we had a interruption of water service we had a city crew there in 15 minutes and the problem was fixed in 1 hour and our public schools are not plagued by violence and crime. Could a possible disparaty in funding explain our different experiences? Do you perhaps live in Arizona, where the population views the government as the greates evil since homosexuality and funds it accordingly? I live in a working-class city in Massachusetts (birthplace of the American industry, no less), which always had the good sense to adequately fund the city services, infrustructure and education of our children - that's how our city succeeded over a couple of centuries.

I don't have the technical capacity to analyze the supposition you posted about large reservoir depletion (due to top kill effort stupidly aborted by a brainless government beaurocrat, to be sure), but it strikes me that it is highly unlikely that the top kill effort could change the pressure of the entire massive reservoir this much, especially since the wellbore remianed open for months after the attempt.

Dimitry, it is entirely possible my community is the same size as yours and has the same budgets. The difference is one of entrenched bureaucracy and powerful unions that won't let incompetent people get fired for cause. I happen to live in a "blue" state like you, and like yours my state is in severe budget shortfall. That doesn't mean they haven't been doing a lousy job of governing for a long time however. Your community seems to be doing better than for instance Boston. Do you believe 911 calls are instantly answered there? Do you think the "Big Dig" was an EXCELLENT engineering and economic masterpiece? Does the cronyism and corruption there bother you whatsoever? Or can you hide in your little village down the road and pretend nothing happening "there" will affect you "here"?

I only gave examples from my personal life. If you imagine that it is somehow only localized to MY neighborhood, you're sadly mistaken. The idea of moving away, while compelling doesn't address the macro problem, which is what happens when our FEDERAL government fails. What state is going to be safe then?

Government should be and is open to criticism and reform.

Unfortunately what passes for "criticism" is nothng more than demonization of both the governing system and the people who work in it. Lazy, stupid, corrupt, nasty, not a good one in the bunch! The only thing they do well is kill people abroad!

The results is both atomization of communities and depletion of common resources as people choose to isolate in smaller and smaller units of "like minded" families and clans and cut their ties to the larger population.

The upcoming phase of human history will require us all to work together in highly efficient way. Comments like yours make me worry that it is going to be almost impossible.

Why don't you move? Other folks in other places actually do get some services in return for their taxes.

Or, you could stay there and grow more bitter every day.


Thus the well started flowing back and BP asked to ramp up the pumps to counter this. Chu said no not understanding what was happening (either the low pressure balance of 6000psi or why the well started flowing back after a time). Is what he is saying now admitting that was through ignorance not abundance of caution?

If BP had taken the pressure up just a few hundred more psi would the well have likely been shut that day?

Undertow, that is how I understand it. Chu didn't understand that the back flow meant that they were beginning to push the oil back into the well and thus a sign that they were on the verge of success. Someone from an academic background is not likely to be experienced in dynamic operations on an oil well. I'm sure the textbooks did not discuss that.

It's plausible. Whether or not that's what actually happened, the lawyers are going to shred the USG's attempts to collect fines for a single barrel of oil after top kill was halted.

Plausible is not the standard for admissibility of evidence. And it is telling that this is best argumet the BP cheerleaders can come up with.

It is a fallacious argument built on assumptions that have no foundation in fact. As offered here, it is little more than rank speculation that no judge would ever allow in the courtroom.

Who would blindly trust BP judgment after what we already know they did and all of the reckless, criminal risks they took here and in the past? A lot of folks here obviously. In any conflict between BP and the govt., these folks fall in line and will follow their team and their enlightened tea-bagger ideology and support BP over the govt. no matter what. It is impossible to have a reasoned discussion with these folks. It's junior-high level "logic" replete with silly, immature name-calling of opponents. Anyone who does not automatically knee-jerk in favor of the BP team is a weanie. Anyone who does not relish the riskiest way forward is a wuss. Drill baby drill! Sara Palin is their savior.

You don't think BP's lawyers will try to use that as a Chop-o-Matic?

How did Palin get in here?

They will try. (BP's attorney used Rockman's box very effectively when questioning Harrell. "Would you as OIM and responsible for every life on the rig have proceeded if you thought BP's plan was unsafe?")

But you can't introduce garbage as evidence to try it. The judge would not allow it. And this argument is garbage. It has great appeal to its proponents because it is impossible to refute. Most silly arguments are like that.

Sara Palin is relevant because that sort of argument is her stock-and-trade, and her followers lap it up. Drill baby drill!

Unfortunately, you always start with legal principles but quickly fall into biased illogical opinions like many others. Frankly, I wish all the liberal elites and conservative elites would have a dual and all of them come out winners.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just said that decision to keep cap on will likely be taken today. Regarding this he said "Chu is encouraged" by what he has seen during the testing phase but final decision not made yet. Suggests to me that they are leaning towards keeping it shut.

Yes, I wondered about that too.

It was very interesting that they got up to 6000psi, though the pump rates were very high. I think that at the time they attempted it we'd only had a month of flow, potentially at lower rates than after the riser removal, so the reservoir was not as depleted as it now appears to be. If they'd shut it in at that time I'd guess the well head pressure would have risen to at least 8000 psi, so they still had quite a way to go to begin to reverse the flow.

Also interesting that at that pressure I don't see how they can have claimed to have stopped the oil flowing. It must have been flowing oil as well as mud out of the top of the BOP.

"I'm from the Government and I'm here to help" are words you do not want to hear.

I used to feel that way about auditors, and was tempted to receive them with some hostility and/or skepticism.

Fortunately I tried just listening to them and it turned out that they were very helpful in suggesting ways in which I could improve my operation. I'm not sure what would have happened if I had been hostile, but I suspect that they wouldn't have been as helpful.

I'm a bit opinionated and anti-authoritarian also, and some bosses have believed that I was competent enough to be left alone, but I found that when I didn't seek out oversight, it was easy for me to get into difficulty. Almost got myself fired a couple of times.

I took it seriously enough so that once I had my own business I sought out a competent person in my field to serve as a supervisor to keep me on track. She did that just this morning regarding a client I was concerned about.

Unless you are stuck on a rooftop?

Lost on a mountain?

Have spent weeks in a tent when they show up with a FEMA camper?

Were living without electricity before TVA?

For someone who hated "Big Government" the author of that quote sure spent a lot of our money making bigger government.

It is always interesting how his supporters, the small government people, are always supportive of more military, more police, more drug laws, more sex laws, more marriage laws, more reproductive laws...

These tired old slogans are...well, tired old slogans.

"I'm from the Government and I'm here to help" are words you do not want to hear.

And these are the words you want to hear?

"I'm from BP. I'm here to help you."

"We're from BP, we do things right!"

Actually, the more plausible finish should be "I would have sat on their necks sooner to get them going faster, instead of believing that they had the situation under control."

Which btw was exactly what he said

According to the story, that's what he did in the early weeks, defer to the engineers. As he developed a better grasp of the engineering, he became more assertive. And a BP exec is quoted as saying Chu has developed a very good grasp of the engineering issues.

We'll never know whether stopping the top kill was the optimal decision. Perhaps Chu was overly cautious. Or perhaps the specialist engineer leading the top kill effort was overly gung ho. This was his chance to shine and has a big story to tell his grandchildren. In such a situation, many good people might be inclined to underestimate risks that weigh against a chance to show their stuff on a grand stage. I just don't see how anyone can be certain that Chu was wrong. I think we can be sure that others on the team were nervous about the top kill--he wouldn't just make up things to worry about that weren't bothering some of the engineers and geologists.

Completely agree.

Fantastic guy to have contributing to a post spill technical enquiry.

Terrible guy to have influencing a critial period of high pressure operational decision making.

Odd that it was felt that we had the luxury of the time required to get him up to speed, or that his views would trump those with years of experience. I'm sure he is 10 times smarter than me, and has made some sort of contribution, but I suspect that he may have been something of a bottleneck.

M Swift, Why would this be UC's embarrasment? I remember BP waiting for UC's apporval of their plan which deviated from the original plan. The original plan before the shutin of the WW was to install containment equip and start processing while RW #1 was completed. If BP had the interests for anything other than the sole interests of BP this cluster******K would not be happening.

Do you have something to indicate this was Dr Chu and Co's idea? If I hold UC accountable for anything it would be allowing BP to deviate from plans.It's just plain stupid to think anyone can predict TD's or hurricanes in the GoM this time of year. Sooooo, when BP presented their shutin plan what was their back-up plan?

On rethinking my comment MikeSwift you're correct. UC needs to hang head and admit their mistakes to save face because BP doesn't have a face.

In the hearings they just said they got high pressure reading at the shale level above the sands and ran casing for it.

Maybe this is the area the RW is in now and the part of the original well Allen was worried about yesterday.

Hi QUS, can you do me a favor and post a link to which part of the hearing you're getting this from? Or tell me which witness? There's tons of testimony to get through and it sure would be helpful to narrow down the targets.


Hiver, I will do my best. I clicked on the hearings link from here and it is one that has no info just the video.

John Guide, BP wells team leader is the one that has been testifying the whole time I have been watching and my post times should be around the time the testimony was given.

Thanks! John Guide is among those whose testimony I'd watch for sure, just have to find the time to get through them!


Appointment at Magnolia Landfill at 1 pm. If I do not post back within 24 hours contact Connie Baggett from the Mobile Press Register - Baldwin Register Division. TinFoil. Told you I was paranoid.

Don't forget your hat.

If your not back we'll sublet your place --to Hooters ladies.

Excellent test of whether he's away voluntarily or not.

While this spill is terrible to the GOM and beaches, I personally think that if no more oil leaks into the GOM things will return to normal fairly quickly.
Before everyone jumps on me , This is only my opinion, based on the volume of water in the GOM and haw natural bacteria can consume the oil. My biggest fear is not the oil, but the oxygen depletion caused by the bacteria consuming the oil.
Please don't attack me, try and explain your reasoning.
I know the Alaska spill lasted a long time, but I think,our water volume and currents,along with much warmer temperatures should cleanse much faster.

Looks as if Matt Simmons is correct in his assumptions.

The plotted site of the Macondo well blowout is 28.736628°N 88.365997°W

That is where the site of the believed oil leak and capping that has gained much fanfare.

But through an investigation of my own using widely available technology, I have found that there is a cluster of ships that are supposed to be involved with the operation that for an unknown reason are approx 7-9 miles away from the reported coordinates of the reported site.

Ships consisting of HILDA LAB, PAT TILLMAN, SEACOR RIGOROUS, FORTE, HOS SUPER H, HOS IRON HORSE, HOS CENTERLINE, LA CHEVAL, HOS STRONGLINE, to name a few, are anchored at a coordinate of 28.6987n, 88.4262w.

As I said earlier these ships are approx 7-9 miles away from the "main spill site".

Why are all of these ships, most of which were publicized as response vessels in this spill, 7-9 miles away from the coordinates of the "spill site".

Matt Simmons, as most already know, has been pontificating that the well we are all shown in the live feeds IS NOT the source of the main spill, and there is an open gusher about 8- 10 miles away.

The evidence I have found, with widely available technology, seem to lend itself to a POSSIBILITY of Mr Simmons being correct.

Anyone who wants to check up on this can fact check my info @ http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=636014465&cen.... Guiding the mouse over the two areas will give you the coorinates in the lower left corner. You can research the ships I have mention by google.

Wake up people!!! We are being lied to!!! The truth will be told, we might just have to find it ourselves.

Um, perhaps they're parked there to be out of the way of GECO TOPAZ's incessant survey runs.

1. Not being what it purports to be; false or fake: "spurious claims".
2. (of a line of reasoning) Apparently but not actually valid: "this spurious reasoning results in nonsense".

Right on, snakehead. There are no collection or drilling facilities out there, just parked support ships. All boats have to clear the area when the Topaz makes one of its runs (on account of its long hydrophone streamer). There are boats parked all over the place on many days/nights. It's why this place has gotten the name "Ship City".

Relax! Some of them have a hose down to the bottom and they are just refueling from the Lake of Oil. The others are involved in the recovery of the REAL BOP so it can be sent back to China to avoid the core charge. Everything is OK.

Good point. That core charge could be the key factor in all this.

>> As I said earlier these ships are approx 7-9 miles away from the "main spill site".

Err ... I make it about 3 miles.

Have I misread the grid?

No, you haven't. When you zoom in to roughly 1 mile = 1 inch, the distance appears to be about three miles.

Even on the 5 mile/inch scale it appears to be less than 5 miles.

Simmons is nuts or evil, not sure which.

Unfortunately, the responses above are examples on why almost no one takes Matt Simmons claim seriously.

I am a simple guy on a computer, doing MY homework in exploring this disaster utilizing uncommon and sometimes unknown tools.

The information I gathered is worth questioning. All of those ships involved in the response that far away to allow passage of a ship....Please.

A rough calculation of the mileage is between is what I suggested.

I am skeptical of Mr. Simmons claims and how they might be self-serving. That is why I took it upon myself to research using the tools available.

"I am a simple guy"

jasonN, I'm curious. After there's been so much discussion about Simmons' claims, what's the motivation behind wanting to prove he's right?

My speculation is not a matter of proving Simmons right or wrong.

It was in hoping for a reasonable review of the information I obtained by people educated in this industry and way of life.

My opening comment might have sounded as if that was the direction of my post. I more wanted to provide a connection to the information gathered vs. unsubstantiated claims by an oil "expert"

Okay. So what do you think at this point?

What he's found is a mini-fleet of support vessels, with super secret missions like storing fuel, food, drink & medical supplies, fire control, mud tankers, floating mechanic shops, etc. Prior to today's likely order to evacuate the site, BP and the government had a floating city out there, with hundreds and hundreds of hungry workers, vessels that need fuel, pumps and motors that need servicing, hydraulic systems that blow gaskets and handheld devices that need new Duracells from time to time.

You don't just hop in a boat and toodle back to shore every time a hose blows.

It is hard to say from the hurling of insulting commentary and conjecture from some.

I would say that the "leaving a path for mapping ships" example makes sense.

I do not trust BP given their history. I would assume a situation as serious as what Simmons alluded to would be a national security situation as well as an environmental disaster.

It would be in BP's and the governments interest to keep it quite. Average citizens only have these two entities word to go on, which has been less then forthcoming.

Two distinct clusters of ships known to be involved in the operation miles apart struck me as odd.

Given Simmons statements I thought it was worth an exploration.

Ah. So there's some hidden, horrible truth beyond the Macondo catastrophe that we're familiar with, and the fact that it hasn't been fully disclosed is the proof that it's being covered up?

Unfortunately if there was such a truth, I do not believe it would be disclosed.

A situation of the type Simmons described, would possibly be kept "quiet". Not sure why, as it will eventually come out anyawy, but go on, fair enough.

They are keeping it "quiet" as to this situation. They haven't admitted it one iota.

This proves the situation is in fact reality.

Is this your line of reasoning?

If aliens landed a spacecraft and it was being kept in area 51, do you think the gov't would tell us? hmm??? NO!

Well they're not telling us. In fact they're not saying one word about area 51. But we know there is an area 51 which is top secret!

I've just proven that aliens have landed and their super secret craft are being reverse engineered in area 51.

Are there any conspiracy theories this wouldn't work with?

Well I can't say I wasn't warned of the condescending nature of some posters.

It was basically something I was pointing out.

I'll admit that in retrospect my original post does come across as alarmist and I apologize for that.

Unfortunately your particular responses brianb, do nothing to debunk the thought. More like smart a** responses.

Within the past few weeks many industry experts have flooded they airwaves with their opinions as to what is going on in the gulf. From my limited research of Mr. Simmons has been known for the most part as someone with vast knowledge of the industry.

There could be many reasons why Simmons is making these statements.

But the question then goes to why hasn't anyone from BP, the government, or National Incident Command come straight out and deny the statements made. The Unified command have been very quick to deny reports of anything seemly detrimental. His statements have been made on national programs and not just in the blogosphere.

Maybe they figure no one will take him seriously? Maybe the command is concerned with other things and not wasting time on "nonsense". Both are plausible arguments. But sometimes silence is deafening.

But the question then goes to why hasn't anyone from BP, the government, or National Incident Command come straight out and deny the statements made. The Unified command have been very quick to deny reports of anything seemly detrimental. His statements have been made on national programs and not just in the blogosphere.

Probably because no one has asked anyone from BP, the government, or National Incident Command for a statement on the matter. In fact, I'd lay 11-to-5 odds that no one from any of the above organizations even knows what Simmons has said.

I'd also lay strong odds that (1)none of the beat journalists or correspondents would risk their credibility even asking such questions and (2) Kent Wells' or Thad Allens response would be to simply point and the questioner and laugh out loud.

Jason and all, it is my considered opinion after much investigation that Matt Simmons' story can only be confirmed by the existence of another blowout well nearby. Personally, I don't put any stock whatever in MMS paperwork. They rubber stamped whatever BP filed, approving it same day, often in minutes. There is no proof that Deepwater Horizon re-entered the wellhead and casing put there by Marianas.

We need drilling reports and navigation logs of both rigs. USCG needs them too.

You're ascribing preconceived bias to Jason's enquiry, which I didn't get from reading his posts - seems to me he's just doing some fact-checking, to see if there's a POSSIBILITY (his words) that MS has a point.

If you can't be bothered to debate someone on SUBSTANCE, please at least do them the courtesy of not adding noise here.

FYI I don't believe Simmons's claims, but I respect people's right to do fact-checking in their own way. There are no stupid questions, only occasional inquisitive minds, some who respond patiently to questions (like Rockman), the silent majority, and a few arrogant smart-asses who prefer to shoot from the hip rather than debate the data/hypothesis...

"Wake up people you're being lied to" sounded a little like a preconceived notion to me but hey, I'm new here, what do I know.

I apologize for my sensationalist comment at the end of my post.

In retrospect it does sound alarmist and really adds nothing to the discussion.

I hope it did not offend anyone.

I didn't hear that. I heard Jason say something like "I don't trust BP and I wonder if Simmons has a point".

"You're ascribing preconceived bias to Jason's enquiry"

Back when he had already been a member for 2 minutes, he wrote..jasonN on July 22, 2010 - 12:20pm
Looks as if Matt Simmons is correct in his assumptions....

I'd call that "preconceived bias "

Nope, doesn't look like that to me. Looks to me like he got some data which he thought might be relevant (I have no opinion on whether he's right or not), and so raised it for our consideration.

If you're going to debate him on his data, please do. Otherwise, please get off the pot. I'd prefer Simmons's crazy ideas to be debunked in rational discussion than by shooting whoever raises their hands.

That's just me. Your mileage may differ...

Hiver, what does a post that begins with

Looks as if Matt Simmons is correct in his assumptions.

look like to you?

If you go to http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ and click on the ships from your group you will see that most of them have been moving all over the area in the past day. IMO it looks like skimming

Few to no skimmers left, ron. Between the reduced oil (none coming out of the wellhead right now) and the impending storm, the skimmers have taken off.

Four of the vessels in the "off site" area are cargo vessels and at least one--Seacor Rigorous" is a crewboat or service vessel. I stopped looking after that. It's a support fleet.

No wonder no one's found the real BOP and the lake. They've had the ships in the wrong damn place.

My questioning of the validity of Simmon's comments as a average educated, non expert in the field, and non conspiracy nut led to:

Why is there a no-fly zone over the spill site?
Why is the media aloowed "restricted access" to spill response?
Why after the capping fanfare, did 15 ROV's drop to 6 with the government's rquest for sea floor monitoring?

These are a few questions I have. BP has lacked anything resembling transparency since the beginning of this disaster.

Are you today's designated troll, or is the moon full where you live? Or both?

I thought we bought the high-end BOP with a lifetime replacement warranty and free on-site delivery? The Chinese should be out there with a new one any day now. Those other ships are waiting on delivery.

Yes, we paid premium dollars for the one with the high performance Fisher Price valves made from melted down cell phones and computer scrap, but they won't give us a replacement until we return the faulty one. With the original dated sales receipt.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the ship with the Chinese BOP was sunk by the NK sub what started all this, still lurking in a plume of oil above Lake Simmons & awaiting targets of opportunity.

Submarine? I thought it was NK trained sharks with laser beams? I heard the CIA is attempting to capture one (using the special ROVs on the Jimmy Carter) and retrain it to seal the crack in the mantle so the red methane leak will stop. Then they plan to send it after Matt Simmons ;)

Are you today's designated troll, or is the moon full where you live? Or both?

Now come on. Your namecalling only discredits you further. I can answer two of those questions and I know almost nothing.

The no fly zone is because they have a delicate navigation situation over the spill site. It's incredibly busy there with vehicles involved in the response. Unprecedently busy according to some. Can you imagine if everyone and their brother could fly around the area on top of that? I think safety would be severly compromised.

The media restrictions, IMO, are relatively tame. While I think they are wrong, I can understand the tendancy to control media in situations like this both by the gvt. and BP. I think it's pretty standard in any high stakes, politically charged, highly visible situation. ...nothing to see here move along. Wait - was that Kevin Bacon? "AAALLLL IIISSS WEEELLLLLLLL!"

It's wrong - but not unusual.

I'm not one to say that there aren't things being hidden. There certainly are. But that is standard practice unfortunately. And it isn't necessarily valid evidence of Simmon's claims (IMO).

I've been thinking about that delicate navigation situation for a while. I've never seen planes spray dispersants but if it's anything like dropping water on forest fires or crop dusting I have to believe allowing a bunch of curious ill equiped folks in light aircraft to mill around in the mix is a decidedly BAD idea!

allowing a bunch of curious ill equiped folks in light aircraft to mill around in the mix is a decidedly BAD idea!

Imagine if a couple of them collide over the site because the pilots are too busy sightseeing to watch the traffic. Or a pilot has a heart attack. Or a novice loses control of the craft. Or a plane has engine trouble. Piece of falling debris, or a whole plane, hits one of the collection vessels in the wrong place, you have another disaster on your hands.

Since when does asking questions make someone a troll?

Most questions don't.

Agenda based assertions, as differentiated from fact based observations, can, as can intentionally provocative questions such as when did you stop beating your wife, or why are you in denial, or why aren't they talking about the sightings of the Loch Ness Monster in the Gulf.

"why aren't they talking about the sightings of the Loch Ness Monster in the Gulf?
Killed by that same pesky NK sub. They've been pretty busy. They'll have to go home and reload pretty soon.

Jason I suggest you research The Oil Drum for posts from the current posters who you seem to think are working for BP. You will find they have consistently posted on this site. Although it is very possible some BP personnel are monitoring this site and a few might actually post from time to time, the veteran posters here are invested in the industry and have always closely followed events on this site.

Maybe BP has a sleeper poster office that has been positioning people years ahead for the very purpose of making sympathetic comments on this site and others in the event of need?


But such things are not impossible or even unheard of-the old USSR spread sleeper agernts like crab grass seed whenever the opportunity arose.

They didn't cost much and a few at least paid off handsomely.We just shipped a dozen or so home a week or so ago.

Damn snakehead~I thought everyone knew, it landed in the Gulf in front of my house and the kids like to go out and snorkel around it .....if I had known that was the question I'd have fessed up a long time ago :)

Here is a photograph, taken by the QuickBird satellite, showing the ship locations a few weeks ago. DigitalGlobe specified the coordinates for the ships in the pdf available here. I used these to locate the original MC-252 well location, using coordinates from the well plan.

Also, here is a satellite photo taken when the rig was burning (visible smoke plume), georeferenced on Google Earth, with the position of MC-252 indicated (click image for larger version). The line segment added to the SW is 7 miles long for reference.

So we have:

  1. The MC-252 location from the wellplan matches where the rig was burning
  2. The ships actually working on relief wells and collecting crude from the blowout were located around the MC-252 wellplan location.
  3. The wellplan MC-252 location is where the action is. And was. And is to come.

Jn - I am a newbie here at TOD my advice to you would be to show some respect for the environment your in- sensationalist claims (i.e we are being lied to! ect.) don't carry any weight, read the posts and ask questions and you will learn a lot about this situation. TOD is a great source of knowledge esp. for those of us who really don't understand what's going on.

PS the gulf of Mexico is rather large, lots of room for ships to move in 7-9 miles doesn't show anything important

Matt simmons said there was a huge leak, 120k bpd, 6-7 miles from the fake "leak". There are a bunch of ships about that far away from the fake "leak". Ergo, Matt Simmons is correct!

Not sure what the word is when every piece of information or non-information is spun in the most conspiratorial way possible.

How about the question of...if there is a leak of 120k bpd there...then where is all the oil going? And if that is the "real well", then what is the BOP they're showing on TV? A mirage? The 25kbpd they were capturing there...that's a lie too?

Coast guard said they're having a hard time finding large oil slicks anymore. The NOAA has on their site of the oil spill that there are no more heavily oiled parts and the medium oiled are smaller and fewer and farther from the "oil spill site". Why is that? Are they in on it too?

None of that matters though. There are a bunch of ships 6 miles away from the "fake leak", so that's all there is to it. Matt simmons is correct!

There's one thing that has convinced me beyond all doubt that Simmons is full of reconstituted bull feed. The "one thing" isn't based on science, or reason, or the experience of all the intelligent, patient posters here at TOD.

If BP, Halliburton, Transocean, the US Coast Guard, the US Navy, EPA, NOAA, NASA, USGS and the crews of the vessels on the surface were involved in covering up a "real" mega-gusher and showing the public an underwater charade, then at least one of the of thousands of people who would have to keep quiet.. wouldn't.

The first rule of government coverups is that someone always leaks. Always. And, the bigger the event, the sooner Deepthroat starts talking. And the larger the network of organizations, agencies and groups of people involved, the number of potential Deepthroats goes parabolic. Always, always, always.

How much would Fox News pay someone to blow the lid off this supposed "coverup"?

I could retire on that.

According to some most original post could be construed as Fox News reporting.

Taking something from the internet, and trying to create a story without considering it's context.

How about your using your widely available technology such as Google on those vessels? Support, supply, anchor handling, towing. I am not going to waste any more of my time researching your rubbish scaremongering.


BP (BP/ LN) says evacuating nonessentials from all 8 operated offshore facilities due to storm threat

18:25 22-07-2010

Considering that all of my maritime experience is as a passenger on a cruise ship - I have a question.

Assuming that they have to evacuate the fleet, how long can they safely delay having one of the ROV ships depart after the remainder of the ships leave in order to minimize the amount of time the well is left without monitoring?

Next - just how bad is this storm expected to get? The chart I saw was predicting a 'tropical storm.' Is this just a preliminary guess and nobody has any real idea how bad it will be in 3-4 days?

You can track all the forcasts at http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/tracking/at201003.html
A tropical storm is between 39-73 miles per hour. Have seen tropical storms go from TS's to Cat 2 in less than 48 hrs, have also seen them dissipate in the same amount of time. However with a very warm GOM then have a higher probability of growing unless we get a upper front with high wind shears. It was a slow moving TS that did more flooding to Houston than Ike. Plus they can sometimes stall, and a stall can go both ways, some lose strength, some gain strength.

Hurricane Katrina formed as Tropical Depression Twelve over the southeastern Bahamas on August 23, 2005. The system was upgraded to tropical storm status on the morning of August 24 and at this point, the storm was given the name Katrina. The tropical storm continued to move towards Florida, and became a hurricane only two hours before it made landfall between Hallandale Beach and Aventura, Florida on the morning of August 25. The storm weakened over land, but it regained hurricane status about one hour after entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm rapidly intensified after entering the Gulf, growing from a Category 3 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane in just nine hours.

So it went from a tropical deppression to Cat 5 in 6 days. So your answer would be no, no one knows how bad it will be in 3-4 days.


In trying to help deal with this situation, I have tried to draw inspiration from my father. I see by your Wikipedia biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thad_Allen that your father was a Coast Guard Chief Damage Controlman during World War II. You and I are nearly the same age. Damage control is exactly what this situation has called for from the beginning and what has been the most lacking. It calls for action and reliance on the design efforts of others, such as my father, not an "over abundance of caution".

The most prominent example I can give you is a ship for which my father did the machinery design, the USS Laffey http://www.patriotspoint.org/exhibits/fleet/laffey.html . She has just been through an extensive maintentance period in the shipyard and with her new coat of paint is ready to serve as an inspriation to all Americans. She is known as "The Ship That Would Not Die.

LAFFEY was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer by Bath Iron Works (Maine). Commissioned February 8, 1944, LAFFEY supported the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Late that summer, LAFFEY transferred to the Pacific Theater to join the US offensive against Japan. While operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, LAFFEY was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and kamikaze (suicide) aircraft. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her and two bombs scored near misses to kill 31 and wound 71 of the 336 man crew. LAFFEY shot down 11 of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship. LAFFEY’s heroic crew earned her the nickname: “The Ship That Would Not Die.” LAFFEY was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and earned five battle stars for service during World War II.

She lived through that awful day because of men like our fathers, damage controlmen like yours and the design team that gave them the robust platform upon which to work, like mine.

Honor your father's legacy as I am trying to honor mine.

Semper Paratus

There is a great book about her : "The Ship that Would Not Die" with many details and diagrams of the individual kamikaze attacks themselves.
Then there's :"With the Old Breed" by E.B. Sledge who was featured in the HBO series "Pacific".

I applaud you honoring your father, and even inviting the Admiral to honor his, at least to the extent it's appropriate. However I know a large number of people who would not receive such a request well because, while their fathers appeared to others to be heroes, they were very painfully abusive by being either aggressive, or inaccessible to their sons, daughters and/or partners

But what I really wanted to address was the tone of your letter. Maybe I'm reading it wrong but it almost sounds like you're chastising him, and I wonder if you have enough clarity about what's going on to be able to do that responsibly.

One way to approach this kind of issue might be to ask yourself, "If I were in his shoes, what kind of letter could best help me improve my effectiveness?"

No worrys mate! His father was in the USCG, he joined the USCG, he became Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

He knows what Semper Paratus means.

Obviously some type of earthly formation was causing this high pressure reservoir to exist in the first place.It appears that these scientists would have been much happier with 9000 psi then what they had with the first pressure readings of 6700psi. Sounds like they had a good grip of what the pressure was before the reservoir was taped so let's speculate. Every action has an equal and apposite reaction. This quick release and depletion of the reservoir pressure was the---- action-----watching the pressure grow daily in the reservoir is like monitoring the reaction. Where is this all leading us??????

The pressure in the oil deposit was caused by statics: the weight of the air, water and rock on top of the oil. Not the result of some specific formation, unless you're counting the trap which kept the oil down there in the first place.

That the pressure in the well is so much lower than expected, probably means one of two likely possibilities: (1) the oil content of the well is depleted enough that it's not flowing as quickly as it was. Much like how overdrawing a water well causes a cone of depression in the water table, so a runaway well would deplete, at least locally, the oil content of the host rock. (2) The well is compromised and oil is leaking out. That's why they've been running seismic tests so often, and inspecting the sea floor around the wellhead: to determine if any oil is escaping by other means. So far the answer seems to be no. So, well depletion looks like the explanation at this point.

COULD it be as simple as the gas/oil ratio has changed over time and the gas expansion is less due to less gas volume meaning the overall pressure in the stack is lower than the models predicted?

I believe there are scientific possibilities in any direction in the trap that could cause high pressure. The best possible and most probable cause would be top pressure. All I can tell you is something strange is going on and the scapegoat seems to be BP. They never answer any criticism and their public relation attempts are weak at best. I have no investments in BP. I just love a good mystery and I most definitely think this is one.

OOK--the Gulf hands here at TOD say there is nothing extraordinary about this reservoir--it is not huge and the pressures are what would be expected at this depth. There are no big geological issues. The problem is simply that the oil has been running into the ocean rather than through a pipeline. The reservoir will be tapped and drained by other wells, reducing and finally killing the pressure below the Macondo well (referring to another post where you worry about earthquakes and the plug popping)..

Sorry. last time I was so intensely interested in blogging was when I was angry over a useless war started in the middle east. Haven't posted in years til now so am definitely not up to speed.

Just got this:

NEW ORLEANS — The Unified Area Command center is tracking tropical weather near the Bahamas very closely and is constantly engaged in discussions with the National Hurricane Center, NOAA and FEMA to ensure the safety of more than 40,000 people currently assisting in the oil spill response and recovery efforts.

To prepare for the possibility of severe weather, Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, Federal On Scene Coordinator, has directed the movement of surplus response equipment to inland staging areas. These considerations are meant to protect people, boats, boom and other equipment while planning for the safe and speedy resumption of oil spill recovery after a storm.

“We are repositioning assets away from low-lying areas to higher ground staging areas to protect our ability to respond to the dynamic requirements of the incident. The protection of the equipment and crew is paramount to ensure maximum ability to respond to any new challenges a storm may pose to the enormous mission. We are committed to following through with our response. There will be no reductions in effort, urgency or commitment even as we sustain the long-term relief effort,” said Zukunft.

Activities that are underway for storm preparedness include evacuating specialized vessels from the path of any severe weather to prevent damage and ensure that oil recovery operations can resume as soon as possible after a storm. Additionally, boom is being removed from marsh areas where oil is not threatening the shore to prevent damage from the heavy equipment getting pushed into the delicate area by strong winds and high tides.

It is necessary to begin moving equipment to inland staging areas well in advance of a potential storm. The consolidation of boom and other equipment at our inland staging areas will in no way hinder the current response operations, but will serve to protect as much of this vital resource from the elements as possible through the risky hurricane season.

Wednesday, Zukunft sent a letter to local officials to provide an update on resource protection in case of a storm.

So let's follow the science instead of our gut instinct. What are the possibilities here??? I'm just speculating so these posts could be a product of my own stupidity. Do we feel it's better to live with some damaging earthquakes over a Gulf with all the oil from this reservoir in it. Even if we cement this well shut it will be like a cork in a bottle where any large shift could pop it. Brings us back to why maybe we should have been containing this well early on, except if there is something much worse involved which I don't want to think about.

The Gulf isn't really a seismic zone, oilkill. The nearest plate boundary is in the Caribbean, and those are where the major earthquakes occur. There are plenty of faults within plates, too, and quakes do occur on them--look up the 1812 earthquake of New Madrid, Missouri--but these are very rare compared to the plate-plate interactions. That's why California and Alaska (among other spots on the globe) feature so much seismic activity: they straddle major plate boundaries (i.e. active faults).

By contrast, the Gulf of Mexico, on all sides, is a passive margin. Land grades into sea, and the transition from continental to oceanic crust (and there's very little oceanic crust in the Gulf) is also gradual. There is no subduction (like beneath Alaska), no alongside motion (as in California), no ridge where crust is being created (like in the Atlantic). The threat to well integrity from earthquakes is minimal, to say the least.

If 6700psi is still considered to be a high pressure well at this depth what would be the normal initial reservoir pressure at this depth for any reservoir???? What would cause a seismic reaction equal to a nuclear bomb when this well was taped??? My investigations have found that most reservoirs (when taped) don't produce any measurable seimic reaction.

Huh? A "seismic reaction equal to a nuclear bomb when this well was taped???"

Two questions. Where is your source for the seismic reaction equal to a nuclear bomb?
How does one "tape" a well?

Sorry. Meant tape a reservoir. Been reading things backwards for a while now. Scientists watching the well pressure (for how many days) in order to test for integrity. Hummmmmm!!!!

The seismic reaction comment was reported by the AP.

Specific link?

I think you may have gotten some signals crossed, because I've seen no report of any seismic reaction when the well was drilled. (And do you mean "tapped"?) You might be thinking of the seismic testing going on--the Geco Topaz is doing seismic research in the area, firing airguns underwater and recording the acoustic reverb in order to map the subsurface. They've been doing this in order to discover if the well is maintaining its integrity or not following the shut-in.

Drilling a single well isn't enough to cause a seismic event. The kicks referred to in the account of April 20, when the well first blew out, were pockets of gas rising explosively in the pipe and reaching the rig. Based on all the news I've seen, there have been no earthquakes.

Again, please post a link to the specific story.

I don't have the computer skills even to post a link. Sorry but I will continue to look for the confirmation on your questions. Might be wrong on the A bomb seismic reaction thing but I am 99% sure that I am not. Have you heard of the donut theory posted before on TOD shows weak quakes or tremors in a circular pattern thousands of miles in every direction around the spill. One even in DC

The Russians, Chinese, probably the EU, maybe the UK, and many others all have the capability to detect subsurface nuke explosions. You don't think they would ask what was going on? I forgot, world government, they are in on it too.

Just copy the address from your address bar and paste it in your comment. It's pretty simple.

I quickly perused earthquakes connected to the deepwater well and found what looks like a lot of bad writing and quack science. (One had the New Madrid fault existing east of the Appalachians. I'm pretty sure Missouri is west of them.) All the articles cite one scientist, Jack Reed, who thinks that the northern Gulf is is own tectonic plate.

There likely is considerable faulting around the entire Gulf, especially given the amount of sediment loading which has occurred there. There are many microplates on the planet--not just the big, macro-continental ones. Seismically, he'd have to identify the margins, and no seismic work I've seen has detected any major through-plate faults which surround the region.

When a depleted oil reservoir collapses--the oil helps hold up the rock overhead, and after it's gone, the sandstone might well collapse and be crushed--there would be some shock waves, but it's doubtful that anyone would feel them. (And when one of those articles cites the MC252 reservoir size as 25 billion barrels, well, it's just hard to take anything else written there seriously. That's roughly 5,000 times the size of the reservoir's estimated content.)

The Mogi Donut in the US that most seismologists would be looking for would be in California, where there is a very real risk of a great earthquake (8+) sometime in the next twenty or thirty years.
East of the Rockies it's much quieter in the geological and seismic sense.
Also, earthquakes a thousand miles apart, if they aren't on the same fault network, are almost certainly not connected.

Lots of threads over the last few days on shut-in pressures, depletion etc.

Hope the following helps a bit, also responds to Bruce in the last thread.

Average wellbore fluid density

For those wanting to relate shut-in wellhead pressures to bottom hole pressures, I calculate the following (using industry standard correlations and fluid properties reported at surface conditions by BP)

Density of oil at initial reservoir conditions (11900 psi and 210F) : 36.7 lb/ft3 = 0.255 psi/ft
Density of oil at well head after long shut in (6850 psi and say 40F) : 37.2 lb/ft3 = 0.258 psi/ft

The correlations are generally quite good at predicting densities even at this far end of their applicable range (relatively high GOR). They are rather less good at predicting bubble point (this is generally a matching parameter), but for the record I'm getting around 6300 psi at initial reservoir conditions and 5000 psi at 40F. I'd say at shut-in conditions there is a good chance that the entire wellbore is above bubble point. The observation that oil is leaking from the cap assembly does indeed suggest an oil filled bore (and any gas present after shut-in may have been displaced out of the leak or re-absorbed). In any case assuming a full bore of oil at 0.26 psi/ft suggests a current bottom hole pressure around 10150 psi, ie a depletion in reservoir pressure of almost 2000 psi (This assumes the well is static and not flowing into a shallower horizon).

Reservoir Depletion

A very rough reservoir model I ran many weeks ago suggested a pressure loss of this sort of magnitude by the time the RWs were ready in early August (I was interested to see if there was any hope that the rate might decline), so I don't have as much difficulty with this as a concept as some have had. I ran a simple tank model based on an in-place volume figure of 100 million stock tank barrels and no supporting aquifer. I've had another look at it; assuming a production rate of 35000 stb/d since day one, and a 100 MMstb reservoir, pressure would decline from 11900 psi to around 9150 psi over three months. The uncertainties in flow rates and subsurface description (reservoir size? compartmentalisation? aquifer support?) are of course enormous, but the degree of depletion we are potentially seeing is not completely ridiculous.

If anyone wants to repeat this sort of calculation I will post the required fluid compressibilities etc.

Rate of pressure build-up

I've used well-test modelling software to have a look at the sort of pressure build up you'd expect from the above example (60ft reservoir, 100 MMstb oil in place, well flowing 35000 stb/d for 3 months, then shut-in). This uses radial diffusivity equations to handle the pressure gradients created in the porous reservoir rock. I am able to roughly match the character of the build up reported in the daily briefings by Wells/Suttles over the 6 days or so of shut-in using reservoir permeabilites around 200 mD.

Plots of the flow and pressure build up (at bottom hole location) are shown below for permeabilities in the range 200 - 500mD (left hand axis is bottom hole pressure, bottom is time in hours) :

A zoom in of the build ups overlaid on the pressures quoted by BP (and converted to BHP) is here :

Again, there are many assumptions and uncertainties associated with this, and I am by no stretch of the imagination modelling reality. If ever there was a case of 'cr@p in cr@p out' this is it. The result is completely non-unique. But it is I think encouraging that simple straight-out-of-the-box models are able to reproduce the sorts of behaviour we are seeing, and allows me to cling to the hope that the well is not leaking in a big way.

Thanks, good stuff bignerd

delete duplicate

Thanks for posting!

What do the different curves represent? Different permeabilities over the range you mentioned? Is that the kind of range you would expect in this reservoir?

Does your analysis imply that the entire reservouir changes pressure depending on the exact conditions at he wellhead? When we bumped up the pressure 2.5 ksia at the wellhead by shutting in the BOP, does it mean the reservoir pressure went up a similar amount?

He said this:

This uses radial diffusivity equations to handle the pressure gradients created in the porous reservoir rock.

The pressure is lowest at the wellbore, increasing radially from it. With the well capped, the pressure slowly recovers.

Whether or not the whole reservoir changes pressure depends on how long you let the well flow (and if there is no aquifer support, compaction, etc.)

Got it.

BP/government seem to have reached a conclusion on the well integrity as well.

Each curve has a different permeability, in order from top to bottom is 500mD, 300mD, 250mD, 200mD. This sort of range is entirely feasible for a turbidite reservoir of this type. But note I could easily get a similar match with different permeability by changing some of the assumptions (flow rate, reservoir size, nearby reservoir boundaries etc etc, so the 200mD is not really worth hanging your hat on. Just a comfort giver that the build up rate observed CAN be reservoir related.

What we actually did when we flowed the reservoir was to reduce the pressure at a the base of the well so that fluids would flow towards and into it from the higher pressured reservoir away from the well. A pressure disturbance thus propagated out into the reservoir and a pressure profile was set up which was low at the well and (just at the moment that the disturbance hit the edges of the reservoir) virgin at the edges. From then on, further production would have bulk shifted this pressure distribution downwards so that the pressure everywhere in the reservoir dropped at the same rate (ie it is depleting). When we shut the well in, the pressure distribution re-equilibriates at a new lower average reservoir pressure, and in the process the pressure at the base of the well builds up as fluids continue to flow into the lower pressure area.

You seem to be a good scientist, so might like to know that the differential equations involved in modelling fluid flow in porous media are exactly the same as for heat flow in conductive materials.

Bignerd, You mean you aren't using Navier Stokes? ;)

I've been looking at your curves, and thinking about the potential of both topkill and junkshot to have gummed up the well enough to give us the pressure readings we're seeing. It seems to me that an argument against depletion is how much would have to have been depleted to account for the numbers. An argument against topkill and junkshot is they didn't work, therefore they compromised the casing, but that was only surmised, never proven. I'm thinking the reality lies in between, they combined to give us EXACTLY what we are seeing, and even accounts for the small psi increases every hour.

I KNOW you're a scientist, so am curious about your opinion on this.

Thank you for an explanation. I am not a scientist, but hopefully a good engineer. My own field is structures, so I really don't have a good academic background in fluids except the standard set of classes one gets as part of an aerospace degree. I have worked with CFD/thermal types long enough in missile flight pressure/temperature analysis that I probably absorbed some of the heat transfer, radiation and conduction stuff by osmosis. When I looked at your curves I thought that one can get a similar results by introducing an artificially high viscocity into the problem to create the kind of pressure gradients you get in porrous media. It is neat how many engineering problems have exact analogues accross different disciplines.

It is important for me to understand that the reservoir, even a big one is not a pressure source in the classic sense, but has important time varient response both temporally and spatially.

AP reporting the well to remain shut in should evac be necessary. No source yet.

From Allen's afternoon briefing ...

National Incident commander Thad Allen said he's confident about a plan to leave BP's Gulf of Mexico well capped during the approaching tropical depression because of a range of factors, including data that helps him better understand the area around the well.

"We're starting to create almost a 3-D model of the formation" the well is in, Allen said.

Allen said this afternoon that should the depression prompt an evacuation of the site, the well would be left capped, and remote operated vehicles would be brought back in as quickly as possible after the storm passes.

Well will remain closed if storm forces ships to evacuate, Allen says

Faced with oil spill, Gulf residents fight mental pain

With the Gulf oil spill destroying livelihoods across southern Louisiana, anxiety over an uncertain future is prompting a desperate rise in depression, health officials and residents warn.


Feel free to copy and past this letter and send it to any news outlet. I sent it to about 1500 emails yesterday, and was able to read most of it on Washington Journal this morning on Cspan. Hopefully it will be a small piece of the truth coming out.

To whom it may concern,

Matthew R. Simmons - Chairman Emeritus of Simmons & Company International was on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC on July 15th making some VERY inflammatory claims about a BP cover up, and possible government cover-up of the true scope of the oil disaster. He just was on [link to kingworldnews.com] , and restated his claims in more detail.

He is calling for "the arrest of BP executives", and stating that there is "a hole spewing 120,000 barrels of oil a day where the 1st BOP use to be". This man is not a fringe character and has been on many main stream media shows during the disaster. His Wikipedia page shows hes a member of the Council On Foreign Relations. Plain and simple he is exposing a massive cover-up by BP, and possibly the government about the real extent of this disaster, or fear mongering to further his/others agenda while calling for the "arrest" of BP executives. The truth is somewhere out there.

[link to en.wikipedia.org]

Stories and interviews without softballs are crucial to the security and psychology of the United States, his claims need to be proven or disproven.


Member for
8 min 24 sec

It's not the letter I would written but if an investigative reporter with integrity (okay, okay) picks that ball up, I'm all for it.

Where is Geraldo Rivera when you need him!!! ;) He busted the myth about Al Capone's vault so he's qualified to but the myth of the cover-up from BP and the Gov't!!

He wasn't trying to bust the myth. He thought he had something big and got made a big fool when he finally got it opened.I watched it live.

I've been on-off this site for years.

This man is not a fringe character and has been on many main stream media shows during the disaster.

Doesn't stop him from being wrong or rediculous in his assertions. I only wish the media could experience actual embarassment and loss of credibility at giving such unsubstantiated allegations the coverage they have. Alas, they have no credibility to lose and no understanding of what embarassment is.

I'd pay a lot to sit in the gallery while Senator Sam Ervin asked MS some country lawyer questions.

On second thought, I wouldn't pay so much. It'd be a first round KO.

Feel free to copy and past this letter and send it to any news outlet. I sent it to about 1500 emails yesterday, and was able to read most of it on Washington Journal this morning on Cspan. Hopefully it will be a small piece of the truth coming out.

To whom it may concern,

Matthew R. Simmons - Chairman Emeritus of Simmons & Company International was on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC on July 15th making some VERY inflammatory claims about a BP cover up, and possible government cover-up of the true scope of the oil disaster. He just was on [link to kingworldnews.com] , and restated his claims in more detail.

He is calling for "the arrest of BP executives", and stating that there is "a hole spewing 120,000 barrels of oil a day where the 1st BOP use to be". This man is not a fringe character and has been on many main stream media shows during the disaster. His Wikipedia page shows hes a member of the Council On Foreign Relations. Plain and simple he is exposing a massive cover-up by BP, and possibly the government about the real extent of this disaster, or fear mongering to further his/others agenda while calling for the "arrest" of BP executives. The truth is somewhere out there.

[link to en.wikipedia.org]

Stories and interviews without softballs are crucial to the security and psychology of the United States, his claims need to be proven or disproven.


"Hopefully it will be a small piece of the truth coming out."
You are hopeful we find that there is a 120,000 bbl leak day. Just so you can feel like you found some kind of truth. You want a Pulitzer, so what if 3,000,000 die? I will not even reply to facts with such a person that has such an attitude.

You are hopeful we find that there is a 120,000 bbl leak day.

TFHG, with respect, I'm not reading his letter that way. What I see him asking for is tough questioning of Simmons by the media, something many here who think Simmons is off the rails have advocated. I haven't seen many who think he's right making that demand.

He's saying either Simmons is exposing a massive coverup, or he's fearmongering to further an agenda. Because Simmons has had so much media exposure and because he has an impressive reputation, he can't be allowed to make inflammatory, scary claims without challenge.

I don't think you can conclude from the letter that the writer is hopeful there's a huge leak. He isn't actually taking sides. He's saying he wants the truth to come out whatever it is.

I don't think TFHG is capable of digesting that comment.

I don't think TFHG is capable of digesting that comment.

Maybe not. I just wanted to present a different view of the guy's letter. If I had to make a guess, I'd say he wants Simmons's claims discredited. Could well be wrong, but I haven't seen any of the pro-Simmons folks objecting to the softball questions he's been getting from the media.

No problem, but it just sounds bad. If they are seeking the truth I applaud it. When you make a statement about data before it is investigated, such a statement at least disrupts the appearance of neutrality. Perhaps if the author said,"I hope if there hidden truth it comes to light," I would have been OK. Just a terminology issue and word choice. All truth seekers are fighting for right. Thanks.

That is exactly what he wants. The problem too many people have is that they get one thing in their mind and all others are cover ups.
From what I've read so far from TFHG there is nothing but cover ups in every thing that WM does.

we seem to be getting into abiotic oil, chemtrail and chupacabra territory here.

seems reasonable to expect someone in simmons' position to cough up some evidence... if he cant, it doesnt seem reasonable to pay him much attention.

then there's his BP shorts, and his supposedly close association with the neocon establishment ---the bush administration--- and exxon's association with neocon central, aka the AEI.

so it could boil down to an attempt to drive BP out of business, and the neocons' exxon buddies could take over BP.

once you set your sights on "benevolent global hegemony", and that hegemony is dependent on your control of global energy resources, well... it begins to make a little sense...

...especially in view of simmons' seemingly loony charges.

you gots to keep the neocon philosphy in the back of your mind: "we're an empire now, and we create our own reality."

if that reality includes impossibilities like the drill string being blown halfway to mexico city, a lake of oil refusing to float, and 120,000 barrels a day still gushing into the gulf, so be it.

"we're an empire, and we create our own reality, even if we have to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

where's the beef, mr simmons?

locked: I have questions too. How does Simmons know the amount being leaked by the 'real leak'? What size opening would be required running at what pressure? Is the amount slowing yet after all this time? Why does Simmons keep changing the distance from the 'fake leak' to the 'real leak'? What is the total amount leaked and where is that oil now? How much nat gas has leaked? What happens in the general area if a BOP gets blown 6 miles away through deep ocean waters? Did the BOP stay under water for 6 (or whatever) miles or fly through the air? How much energy would be required to do such a thing? This should be a rather simple calc for an engineer. Would this cause a noticeable seismic event? Are the seismic people all over the world involved in the conspiracy? How many people would have to be involved to run the entire conspiracy?
Thanks in advance.

I am back. No need to call Connie. I found out what the problem is. Bags. If they would have used a paper bag, even lined like a cement bag, instead of a hazardous waste plastic bag, the available prison manpower could have handled the bagged waste. They already had the 2 inch screening equipment. They only had so much time to bury it (according to what they told me, I need to vet it). At the end of the day however, a bag one man could easily bust, yet strong enough to hold the materials without disintegrating makes the waste much easier to process. 20 times easier. The story they told me was they could have handled it from day one if the garbage was better 'packaged and separated'. The waste director said it is the same problem with the rest of the waste. I know it was all propaganda, but the man sense on some things. Report to follow. TinFoil.

I did found out they only buried the bags, the rest they processed. Blame the bags made of petroleum.

Edit: I need the link to submit ideas and I need folks to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. If I can from some sort of consensus, I want to start a campaign. Please, this one we CAN change.

This is the bag I am suggesting for now. Unlined, but I am thinking it is enough to make it to the dumpster.


The hazardous pink bags would have worked great as a dumpster liner.

Hey tinfoil--about the double red flags--why don't you get after the Alabama DPH and make them tell you how much oil they are finding in water samples from the surf over the past few days? This information has to be available to the public. How much oil is in the clean-looking water? I'd guess it's closer to a few ppm than the very high readings claimed in that nutty-sounding TV news segment a couple of days back.

Listening to Van Niewenhuise on BBERG and he's refuting Matt Simmons.......wich I could get this link from the BBERG to my laptop because it's a good one, but not able to link it..

Why don't they let the Hos Achiever Maxx search and survey the bottom instead of the Olympic Challenger ?

Its blurred , out-of-focus , is obscure and nill-transparent... :(

Or is it only the stream that is too filtered and compressed ?

I feel like being submitted to a Rohrschach right now for the last couple of days , it could be anything !!?

Does not make me feel confident or relaxed about it.

Having stumbled over information that exploration and production drilling's planned for the Atlantic to the north-west of the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland - one of the scariest bits of the Atlantic -- whilst poking around for links for a comment on a previous thread (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6762#comment-684957) -- Lotus' follow-up question "Isn't that asking for it?" made me curious about how hairy it really is out there.




BP (BP/ LN) says will continue Gulf well pressure test indefinitely - US govt.

20:22 22-07-2010

BP (BP/ LN) to sell stake in Pan American Energy, seeks USD 9bln - Source

21:20 22-07-2010
- sale of Pan American stake could take 2-3 months
- Argentina’s Bridas has offered USD 6.5bln for co. stake

Thanks~I tried to email one from the bloomberg terminal to the computer, but it never made it. Now, I have to confess I now need to go search and find out who this guy is/ and resume etc.

NICE! Oil spill is over. It's been fun people.

"Scientists from St. Petersburg, FL find high methane readings near oil disaster site"

link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/scientists-from-st-peters...

Good grief.

The findings from SRI are not the first to suggest that Deepwater Horizon is gushing methane as well as oil....

The reporter doesn't understand that natural gas is mostly methane, that most oil wells produce natural gas, that the role of gas in the DWH flow has been mentioned a zillion times already.

Worse, the freed gas may explode. One theory on the cause of the Deepwater Horizon disaster blames a methane gas bubble for causing the explosion and fire that sank the rig. There have been rumors that a similar methane explosion could cause a tsunami, a concern that government officials say is unfounded....

The reporter characterizes an obvious fact about the disaster--natural gas was involved in the DWH explosion--as a "theory" on the same level as the methane tsunami fantasy, then presents the latter as a matter of "he said, she 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.

Try imagining Mr. Lutken's expression when he reads this statement attributed to him.

BP (BP/ LN) says will continue Gulf well pressure test indefinitely - US govt.

Anybody hear of any paid shill jobs opening up? Looks like this gig may not have long to run. And anyway, even if they decide to keep sending along the $15 gas card every week, it's getting difficult to find a BP station.

Just been informed that Feinburg will not approve payment to BP shills.

From an email from Deepwater Horizon Response External Affairs:

NOAA to Re-open One-Third of Closed Gulf Fishing Area
No oil has been observed for 30 days in 26,650 Square Miles to be Re-opened for Fishing

NEW ORLEANS — NOAA will re-open 26,388 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational fishing on Thursday. The reopening of a third of the overall closed area was announced after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Since mid-June, NOAA data have shown no oil in the area, and United States Coast Guard observers flying over the area in last 30 days have also not observed any oil. Additionally, trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination....

Can't find the full text of the email online, but there are details of the reopening here: