BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Tropical Storm Bonnie (1) - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6773.

With all activities shutting down around the Deepwater well due to the projected path of Tropical Storm Bonnie, as it has now become, it is appropriate to quote the Press release from Admiral Allen Thursday.

Due to the risk that Tropical Storm Bonnie poses to the safety of the nearly 2,000 people responding to the BP oil spill at the well site, many of the vessels and rigs will be preparing to move out of harm's way beginning tonight. This includes the rig drilling the relief well that will ultimately kill the well, as well as other vessels needed for containment. Some of the vessels may be able to remain on site, but we will err on the side of safety.

As I stated earlier today, I have directed BP to continue with the well shut in procedure while the work to kill the well is temporarily suspended. I have also directed BP to take measures to ensure the vessels operating the ROVs are the last to leave, and the first to return in order to maximize monitoring of the well. Monitoring of the site during the well integrity test remains one of the government's highest priorities.

While these actions may delay the effort to kill the well for several days, the safety of the individuals at the well site is our highest concern. We are staging our skimming vessels and other assets in a manner that will allow us to promptly re-start oil mitigation efforts as soon as the storm passes and we can ensure the safety of our personnel.

Kent Wells' briefing on Thursday had little to add to this, though there was a little emphasis on noting that the Admiral had given permission for the well to be kept shut in.

And just to remind us that there are other things that the natural cycle of the Earth can bring to our attention, there is a little more earthquake activity north of Iceland today, that we have seen in a while. But is remains relatively deep, at the moment.

Prof. Goose's comment:

Welcome--modified 21 JUL 2010

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Snakehead and others (from earlier threads),

I agree that the hole burned or melted from beneath is likely the explanation, although I would have expected more discoloration (but the hotter the fire, the less the discoloration). As none of the closeup views were from the perpendicular, I wasn't sure about support structure being directly underneath; and at least some sky is visible from beneath.

Taking another look, however, at the overturning rig view, it appears that there are at least two (steel) support beams intact. That has to be the non-smoking gun. Tumbling through these would not be possible.

My apologies for being too hasty in the post, and I welcome being corrected, and my thanks to all who commented.

I would add, however, that Conspiracy works more than one way...Club of Rome...CFR...Bush Cabal, etc. Some of that stuff shows up in the Forum. I don't promote or endorse any of that stuff.

I still believe that Simmons is basically sincere and honest, but agree that no BOP could have passed through the opening.

I saw this post yesterday on another thread and initially wanted to make a "your kidding...right?" comment. Instead, I thought about it and came up with a logical theory to debunk this. Use the Space shuttle lift-off numbers to show PSI required to launch a 450 ton BOP. I am not a math person by any means (which is why it took me many hours of number crunching to come to what I think is close).

I still don't know how to post a link "here" where it shows up in red and doesn't show the full address so forgive me.

The space shuttle weighs (at the launch pad with full payload) 2030 tons.

The 2 solid rockets (2.8 million lb/f thrust X 2) plus the 3 shuttle engines (fueled by the 3rd external tank) (400,000 lb/f thrust X 3) produce 6.8 million lb/f of thrust.

Using the conversion table..

I came up with 1 lb/f = .00694 psi.

So to launch the shuttle, it would take 47,192 psi (6,800,000 X .00694)

Shuttle weight is 4,600,000 lbs. so it takes 1 psi to provide 144.09 lbs of thrust.

BOP weighs (450 tons) 900,000 lbs. At 900,000 lbs it would take 6246.096 psi to make it move (without being bolted to the 1500' cemented casing under the sea floor)

So in conclusion, if the BOP were not bolted to the casing, and not have to travel through 5000' of water, AND pass through a steel heli-pad, AND travel 6-10 miles, AND land on the sea floor perfectly up-right, I would say that this myth is a "bust"

I know these numbers are primative, but I tried to express my point in a logical way instead of "your kidding...right?"...

I am prepared for the flames so ....let it burn

And...TFHG, the next show I know of is Steve Miller at the Warf in Orange Beach July 31. (I got the call yesterday to do the show but I was already booked)

An even more important thing to keep in mind, when the shuttle launches it takes its power source with it. If a BOP launches it leaves its power source behind, so the best it would do is to hop of the well and come to an abrupt stop.

As I would expect, the leak rate of oil around the BOP is increasing, as evidenced in the ROV videos. While I haven't tried counting the number of drops per second, it seems about two or three times faster than it was a day or two ago. My guess is, this won't be a problem, however, but it would be if the leaks were allowed to continue for weeks or months.

Currently the ROV feed at http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in... shows the leak.

I once worked on modeling the dynamics of safety-relief valves under two-phase flow conditions under a contract for the Electric Power Research Institute, and as part of my work, did a lot of reading about them. A constant problem is that the dang things leak. A small steam leak tends to cut little channels into the seats, even though the seats are made out of some of the hardest types of steel available.

Mind you, this is just gas (steam) flow with no grit, and with a pressure differential of only around 2250 PSI. The leaks just get bigger and bigger with time, and can cause a lot of problems with outages and maintenance.

Leaking liquids can cut metal as well. Every homeowner knows about leaking faucets, of course. When liquid under pressure passes through a narrow cap, bubbles can be created as the high-velocity low-pressure liquid creates bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, it causes a phenomena called cavitation, and locally these can cause little mini pressure spikes that can chip away at even the hairdos metals.

Cavitation causes the sound you hear when you close a faucet and it makes that sound just as the valve goes completely closed. Cavitation causes a lot of damage to valves, pump impellers, boat propellers, and other metal objects subject to cavitating flows. See the pictures associated with the wiki article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavitation

I'm just glad that we are still counting bubbles and not thousands of barrels. Hopefully they will be able to get it killed one way or the other before too much longer.

ASME Code on seat tightness for pressure relief devices

UG-136(d)(5) "After completion of the tests required by (d)(4) above, a seat tightness test shall be conducted. Unless otherwise designated by a Manufacturer's published pressure relief valve specification, the seat tightness shall be in accordance with API 527"

Standard seat test http://www.leser.com/data/download/331-13-EN_Seat_tightness_test_with_ai...

Tougher helium seat test http://www.leser.com/data/download/331-16-EN_seat_tightness_test_with_he...

Makes me wonder why they're not doing a mini junk shot; now that the holes are indeed small, why not shoot a load of itty-bitty stuff down there to help jam them up and slow the progress of the leaks? Not sure what holds against that sort of pressure, but presumably someone knows. It would need to be about as dense as the oil, maybe a hair less, so it would float up near the leaks.

TFHG - with regard to the younger generation I just got this e-mail from my sister-in-law about my nephew.

...enlisted into the US Air Force. His specific job will depend on upcoming physical tests. He’s picked some possible jobs but will trying out for the special forces. For now he’s tired he’s been gone for two days. He won’t go until he finishes high school next year.

Who knows maybe the AF will decide to make him a Predator pilot.

1) Reading? He inhaled Harry Potter.
2) He had some friction when his mother at age 14 when it became apparent, to his uncle at least, that he was demonstrably smarter than his mother, a Past President of the Central Florida chapter of the ASChE.
3) His cousin went into the Navy right out of high school, worked on nuclear reactors on a carrier, and then went into private industry with a very well paying job.
4) His grandfather invented dynamic positioning of drill rigs for Project Mohole. Look at that new response plan and check out all the dynamically positioned tankers etc!!
5) He knows what it means "...to preserve, protect and defend...", it's a family tradition


Depends. Special operations and special forces are two different things. The only 'special forces' I am aware of in the Air Force are FAC's (forward air controllers) and PJ's (para rescue). Those jobs are hard as any in the service. Most pilot jobs are commissioned, typically requiring college. Good thing is there is a path for the determined. The Army taught my brother how to be a surgeon. Tell him 'Above All' for me. Good job young man.

We'll see what the AF thinks would be best. He is more the cerebral type than an action hero. His kid sister is the action type in that family. With the advent of network centric warfare etc. I'd check out having him doing something along those lines, getting inside the enemy's OODA loop for example.

Hell, maybe he'll be like his grandfather and invent something way ahead of its time. He's still young and has a year of high school before anything is going to happen.

You may want to be careful about burdening him with aspirations or expectations that he may try to meet, out of regard for, and loyalty to, you, and/or others who's approval he seeks, in spite of his talents, ability and desires.

In my experience with the clients with whom I work, the difficulties that bring them to me are most often, at least an indirect product of their attempts to meet the needs and expectations of others they value, but which conflict with their abilities and otherwise healthy needs and aspirations.

Because they have never been allowed to develop the independence that is a product of healthy development, by reason of their focus on us, they are ill-equipped to take responsibility for their own lives when it comes time.

Most of us cannot really internalize how younger generations look to us for guidance and approval, because, in spite of our protestations that they are mostly guided by their peers and other external sources, we really find it hard to value our own ability to be a good role model and guide and therefore see the influence we have on them.

All too often, out of a belief that we will never approve of them, no matter what they do, they give up and become a loose cannon, and for lack of guidance that might help them (as differentiated from direction, which, though well intentioned, doesn't always respect them enough to find out what their aspirations are, and help them discover an effective, realistic, process for meeting their own needs and desires), are as likely to respond to life's challenges by rising to them, being buried by them, or simply muddling along trying to survive.

Every generation struggles with these issues and it is a tribute to the resiliency of human beings that we do as well as we do, but I can't help wonder what a world we would have if we did even a little better in helping our youth become better than we are.

There is nothing like the sense of fullfilment one gets when applying their talent and passion to their occupation of choice.


See where the geniuses are dismantling the $4.6 million waste of good pipe at Perdido Pass?

Maybe we'll get our wish & they'll leave the damn thing stacked.

One can hope.........

Yet the $50,000 fence is rusting through. Tsk, Tsk.

Mr. Thompson:

Being an AIChE member, i think it's AIChE not ASChE. However, i have enjoyed your contributions.


And your point is? Bit off topic son.

Watching HOS Achiever 2 ROV going back in his cage

Nevermind he turned around and went back

Forgot to turn off the stove?

Skandi ROV2 is back to collecting bubbles with it's funnel device. I'm getting a late start so not sure where the collection point is exactly.

He is taking them at the base of the well head right by where they took them before.

Does anyone know what Skandi ROV2 is taking a sample of?


EDIT: I see Trip is looking at that too.

Jim Amoss, editor of the Times-Pic, took a boatride with a BP guy and a NOAA guy (the ones tasked with recording what's happening to Barataria Bay). The end of his report snaps into high relief what Louisiana's let happen to itself:

... What to make of the contradictory images -- the gliding pelicans, the blackened grass? I thought of Times-Picayune outdoors writer Bob Marshall's dictum that the oil spill is "a temporary problem on top of a permanent disaster" -- the disaster of losing a football field's worth of our coast every 38 minutes to subsidence and erosion. Indeed, as our boat speeded back to the Grand Isle marina, Capt. Beach's GPS showed us crossing land. He explained that his software is three years old. That's time enough for the marsh on the electronic map to have crumbled into the Gulf.

Will the oil on our grasses hasten the process? Will this ecosystem, still vibrant and apparently resilient, rebound? What will the next storm push ashore? When will the nation rise to the challenge of restoring our eroding coast, now all the more endangered?

This trip to Louisiana's oil spill zone filled me with questions. I came no closer to answers.

I'm not sure that's the nation's challenge -- maybe Baton Rouge's after all.

The only way to stop the erosion and subsidence is to allow the replenishment of the sediment by the river. That means less flood control, an expensive proposition.
"What do you value more?" will be a question for LA residents.

"What do you value more?" will be a question for LA residents.

Agreed. Their call to make. Too bad their pols have made immaturity into an art form and basic qualification for election.

Well talk about over simplification .. first of all Louisiana does not have control of what is done on the Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri rivers (not including the other 60 tributaries that feed the Mississippi River) that directly affect the amount of soil/silt into the Mississippi River. And you didn't think the dead zone is caused by the fertilizer from just the farms in Louisiana did you? For that matter Louisiana does not have control of the Mississippi River or the inter-coastal waterways, theses all fall under the control of the US Corp of Engineers.

I highly recommend http://quintascott.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/restoring-the-louisiana-coast/ as a starting point on educating yourselves. It is not the most technical, but he does a fairly good job of discussing some of the problems and gives fairly good links to some of the studies and work that Louisiana has done in the past 45 years.

By the way take a look at the miles of wetlands lost in Texas every year. Texas has lost about one-half of its original wetlands as a result of agricultural conversions, overgrazing, urbanization, channelization, water-table declines, construction of navigation canals, and other causes.

I met staff at LSU that worked on studies to rebuild the wetlands in 1964 .. they have had the 80/20 plan, 70/30 plan, even a 60/40 plan if I remember right, and of course the Coast 2050 plan. Every time a plan is done it is turned down at the federal level as too expensive. As covered by QuintaScott the federal government collects $5 billion a year from companies, which drill off the Louisiana coast, but until 2007 Louisiana saw little of it. In 2003 Congress authorized the return of $250 million per year to be divided up between five states: Alaska, Alabama, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Louisiana devised the Louisiana Coastal Impact Program to spend the $523 million the state would received for coastal restoration between 2007 and 2010. It has funded more small projects.

Thanks for the link, deddancer. I'll go check it out. If I left the impression that I think all the blame is Louisiana's, I worded that poorly -- obviously, upriver history has much to do with it. (And as Rockman also points out, "getting there from here" looks overwhelming from every angle.)

But Louisiana's politico-legal culture is still a big, bad piece of the story (only its surface is funny or charming; just below that stretches a great deal of rot).

Lotus, we would have to take this into a different forum .. but as I told someone earlier this month .. have you ever thought that the reason you hear about "crooked politicians" in Louisiana is that they catch theirs? That they watch them from the day after elections and they still watch them after they have been in office for years. This sweet Texas gentleman responded by telling me that in Texas they only elected honest people and therefore they didn't have to watch them. Good thing I had swallowed that sip of beer. I'm thinking about selling him some land, maybe the empire state building. LOL! If you ever want to discuss some of this, my email is in my bio.

Good thing I had swallowed that sip of beer.

I'll say!

Aw, I won't keep ragging on you, deddy, but I have followed the Road Home mess and other LA contretempts a good bit (as well as the older stuff, back to Huey Long), particularly on my old blog (or should I say "blawg"). Have you kept up with Ashton O'Dwyer? When he showed up at my place, I pretty promptly had to run him off for racist rants. Some of my commenters knew him pre-Katrina and grieved a fine mind broken.

Anyhow, y'all's bench and bar provided some extravagant grist, for which I was grateful.

Having grown up semi-diplomatic corp, including being in Panama 58-62, politics (usually on a world level) has been a hobby study of mine, not that it didn't come in handy in major project planning, and Louisiana is one of my favorites .. Dad's family moved into the "toe" late 1800's. Got links to your old blog or did you take it down? Katrina time, son was in Slidell, oldest sister and her 2 kids families in Marrero, brother in Algiers, Mom is North Shore Folsom area (was with out radio,TV,phone etc for 3 months). Spent way to much of my first 24 years in greet and meet.

Oh lordy, sorry to hear they all had so much to contend with (especially your mom -- her first hot shower and meal, and cool drink and sheets, musta made for one of the great days of her life, huh?).

Here's my blog (where you'll find an email addy for me), but since its Search function conked out a few months ago (no techie, I don't know why or how to fix it), I have to find things there via Google, adding the URL to whatever name or other search-term I'm after. Got a pretty good (if disorganized) Southern recipes page.

Louisiana's last three insurance commissioners are in jail ... maybe, just, they catch more because it's a "target-rich environment".

Well put. The Mighty Missisippi ain't so mighty now. National Geographic did an article on Ole Man River and he is emasculated and diverted. Every ten months an area the size of Mattanhan disappears from the Delta because the River flow isn't enough to move the silt that the Delta needs just to maintain itself. And right, this is not just a Louisiana problem. Just like the Gulf is not just a Louisiana problem. So it seems that we have more than just an environmetal problem. We have a political problem. As far as the environment goes. Question is....
And I will let you ask the question. This site is full of alot of 'experts' who claim to know alot of the answers. and who are very active on this site. Where I'm from those people are called 'know-it alls'. But I suppose they are big hero's back in Edinburgh with all their American money.

Where is the moral and political will going to come from, Lotus? This has been reported and talked about up the yin yang for a long long time.

Our country has no way to compromise, make trade offs. We think only in terms of winners and losers and so the "wronged" party is agrieved and fights policies -- even when they ultimately help and are the greater good.

The marshes and estuarial landscape is essentially being eroded for issues around shipping requirements and dredging needs to keep the Mississipi as a free flowing, good channel for shipping. There are other issues as well. Clearly, we need the Mississippi River but how do we figure out how to work having it and the coastline? I don't believe that we are even trying to figure that out right now..

Americans like black and white. Things are all right or all wrong. We don't like uncertainty or long views. We have no patience for planning and none for sacrifice. We want to "win" -- to crush opposition, to overwhelm the "other side". Those constructs cannot deal with this -- with tradeoffs, compromise and long term strategies where everyone gives something for an outcome that doesnt benefit them specifically, but all of us and generations hence.

So, dealing with this will be ongoing but we don't seem to have the capacity for making the needed changes.

Hi, Elie. I don't think that attitude has infected all of us -- just enough to make it nearly impossible for the uninfected to maneuver around the many it has hit. I'm certainly not smart or savvy enough to prescribe the cure.

I actually think that the change can be driven by us regular folks... if we resist being influenced by attitudes that reflect intolerance for compromise or trying things with long term outcomes that are hard to measure immediately -- we can maybe get folks back to thinking more in line with these sorts of issues. If we depoliticize some issues where if this party is for it then I am against it, kind of thing -- start speaking about WE instead of just me, we could influence this issue very positively.

Elie, have you seen this (Van Jones' keynote at NN this morning)? He's channeling you, hon. W00T!

I don't think that attitude has infected all of us -- just enough to make it nearly impossible for the uninfected to maneuver around the many it has hit. I'm certainly not smart or savvy enough to prescribe the cure.

Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong), ultimately serve their own self-interest.


If it were up to me, one thing I'd try would be to develop a school curriculum on Enlightened Self-Interest, starting, I don't know, maybe even in the first grade if the basic principle could be made intelligible at that level (and I think that ought to be possible with a little thought).

Make it a required course in every grade through high school, each grade getting a more sophisticated version, with plenty of examples of how it works (and of what happens when it isn't adhered to). Pound it into their noggins until they learn to think about every problem in that light.

Then hope they grow up and take over before those of us who never figured it out wreck everything.

Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong), ultimately serve their own self-interest.

Occurs to me as I reread this definition that the parenthetical is problematic, since "the group to which they belong" is pretty much the entire world these days.

Enlightened self-interest...

But, this conflicts with our self-created national mythos "everyone pursuing their own narrow minded greedy interests is best". I'm afraid a certain not inconsequential part of the population would fight teaching this as creeping socialism.

This is essentially the outcome of the game-theoretic analysis of the "(iterated) prisoners' dilemma," of which there is an enormous literature; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma
Originally developed from an economics argument by Hamilton et al, it's also the basis of Richard Dawkins' "Selfish Gene" idea. Carl Sagan has called it the mechanistic basis of the Golden Rule. The idea is that the altruistic individual stands to gain through the general benefit to the "group" involved and so altruism is rewarded. Sort of has connection with the first sentence of our Constitution; the part of "promoting the general welfare." Some call it socialism; others consider it the antidote to the biological imperative of greed (as in Rand's prescription of how we should do each other).
Nice idea, but the only way it works in human affairs is if there is regulation and punishment by "society" to deal with the cheaters (called "defectors" in the P.D. terminology). Utopian? You betcha. The defectors seem to be thriving in our present society.

Make it a required course in every grade through high school, each grade getting a more sophisticated version

I likes it. Provided we can find a corps of qualified (i.e., uninfected) teachers . . .

Right idea; wrong place. This is primarily a home and community classroom subject.

Swift: Someone around 2,500 BC said the following:

What is good for the hive is good for the bee.

A simple but powerful concept.

If it is not the nations challenge then neither is protecting the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or any other part of our natural legacy.

Along the same line, recall that in 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt created the Breton Island Federal Bird Reservation off the southeast coast of Louisiana. This was the second unit — after Pelican Island, Florida — of what would become the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System, whose stated mission was to “work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

The Chandeleurs and other coastal islands east of the Mississippi River were all protected and consolidated into this Refuge.

This is just one of many national interests in the region now under attack. IMO we need some of TR's vigor to reassert all these interests.

I would think since the Mississippi River port is vital to the nation, and we can't have a port at New Orleans without a wetland buffer to protect it, this IS the nation's problem.

My personal crackpot idea for decades has been to build a new port at Morgan City and let the river have its way and change course. I thought 2005 would have been a good time to do so.

Now flame away with why this will not/can not work. I admit up front to knowing none of the science, lol.

The really thorny piece of this is that, unless Louisianans feel their ownership of this problem and its solution, anything the rest of us (i.e., the Feds) try to do will just get the Tenthers up on their hindlegs full of sound and fury but solving nothing.

gmf - No flames…your question is a good one. A logical thought but a few practical problems. Most importantly it would take many decades to the new river channel to stabilize. Shippping would be very difficult during that time if not impossible. Additionally the new channel would cut hundreds of oil, NG and product pipelines that carry a huge percentage of the country's needs. Re: products: a very large percentage of out refinery system is along the lower Miss. R. and needs its fresh water to function. The Miss. R. also supplies a couple of millions folks with their only source of potable water. In fact even today when river flow drops low New Orleans has a problem with salt water approaching its intakes.

For those not familiar the Miss. R. has moved laterally across south La. for millions of years. At one time the delta was at the far western edge at Lake Charles. The coastline has always been subsiding. Drill a well to 30,000’ at the coast and in the bottom you’ll find rocks that were deposited in 2’ of water. What has kept the coast line stable (more or less) was this shifting of the depo center. But for more than 50 years the Corps of Engineers has prevented the river from changing course in the middle of the state. There is a huge hydrodynamic potential for this to happen naturally. The problem is that while the M.R. is one of the biggest sources of sediment in the world the channel is now funneled to the edge of the continental slope. Almost all the sediment that would be distributed alone the coastline now drifts into the deep Gulf basin. Without maintaining the channel the Port of N.O. would be no more. The country could not survive that.

The barge canals that have been cut along the coast have made the situation worse. But even if they didn’t exist the coastline would sill be subsiding and they wouldn't be recharged by the lost sediments of the M.R.

lol Rockman, I know it has more than a few practical problems.

My thought was to work on the stabilization of the channel with some type of advance preperation. (can you tell I don't know what those would be?)

I wasn't really aware of pipeline issuues.

As for refineries and people needing water, my thought is that most of them would move with the River. I know that salt water intrusion has been an issue for the water supply of Morgan City long ago. My Dad remembered seeing dolphins in the river and the no flush for #1 rule as a kid at times.

There is a huge hydrodynamic potential for this to happen naturally.

That is one of the reasons I have long thought it would be better to plan for it in advance.

I think many people living in the NO area don't even know that Metairie Ridge is just that, a ridge from a former channel.

The barge canals that have been cut along the coast have made the situation worse.

For those who haven't seen it, there are some good videos at this link that really show the acceleration of wetland loss after 1956.


gmf - I grew up in N.O. so I know first hand it's a pretty poor site for a town. After the storm I thought they should just put a big levee around the French Quater and doze the rest if the city into golf courses. Should have given Disney the reconstruction contract. LOL. Really. The Corps does have a plan to make small levee breaches on the lower reaches of the delta. I doubt it will add much. Mother Nature has been sucking down the coastline for 30 or 40 million years. It's possible the Corps will lose the battle on day and the river will cut down thru Morgan City. Almost happened a couple of time about 30 years ago.

RM - I grew up in Metairie, lol.

My entire family had the same thought after Katrina. I thought it would be a good time to start.

This has always mildly interested me since I took earth science (at UNO, of course) and learned all that neat "new" stuff like plate tectonics and the history of the River.

I also think of that margarine commercial of that era... its not nice to fool Mother Nature.

My gr Grandad used to own a lot of property on Front St. in Morgan City and I always thought it would be a good idea to buy property around there again...maybe it would make my grandkids wealthy.

Considering the overall history of New Orleans, the irony that the city was put there at the very end, or what should have been, the end of the River's time in that channel seems fitting, no?

I remember well when the politicians had to move their cattle out of the spillway and they were out around the levee by the boat launch in Kenner. A bottle of Boones Farm, a Mustang rag top and cows make an entertaining evening for city kids.

Of course there is the open question of why the heck anyone would want a major city where New Orleans is. It is just asking for trouble.

It is not an open question. Please inform me how you locate a port city away from a major body of water? When it was founded, New Orleans was buffered against storms by dozens of miles of wetlands and was the most natural location to act as the chief port for the entire Mississippi River. Only in the last 50 years has it become vulnerable due to continuous land loss due in no small part to unending digging of channels through the marshes by the oil & gas industry.

By your reasoning, we could not have any port cities along any large body of water that might produce hurricanes or typhoons. I take it you also consider New York, Tokyo, Honolulu, Mobile, Miami, all of Long Island, Savannah, Charleston, SC, the entire Outer Banks of North Carolina, and huge chunks of the Indian subcontinent also "asking for trouble?" And what about those cranks in the Navy putting their fleet in such a vulnerable spot like Newport News?

Those other places are above sea level.

Yes, developing on the Outer Banks is asking for trouble. I don't know of any port cities there.

Have you taken in to consideration what it takes to move a city? One that has 4 quasi-ivy league universities, a state university, and a technical college. One that has a multi-billon dollar port. Not even taking into consideration that it has some of the oldest buildings in North America. And you are not just talking moving one city of 350,000, you would also be moving all of those that live in the surrounding cities, Meterie 143,000 , Gretna 16,000, Marrero 32,000, Terrytown 21,000, and a few others, and then you have 50% of St. Tammany Parrish also affected, Slidell, Mandeville, Covington, Abita Springs, Madisonville who's jobs come from New Orleans. So its not just moving a port, its moving all the people of 3 parishes (counties for other states), building all the roads, schools, industries, air port, and other infrastructure needed, etc. in a new location. Thank heavens the Netherlands haven't heard that they could just move to another country.

My question would be what are most of those people doing for a living?

Obviously anyone connected with the port would have to move.

No need to move the old city, or abandon it. It could still be a huge tourist draw, maybe even more so. imo, Metairie is an abomination that should have never been built and deserves to go back to swamp, which would once again provide drainage for the city.

Geography changes and humans move...nothing new there.

The development stupidity of the last 50 yrs is not reason to continue it.

The real question to me is how can the port continue to stay in a city that is as problematic as New Orleans is now, unless the nation gets behind coastal restoration, or even how much can be done at this point.

Well what are these people doing for a living .. that could be asked of any city .. but 32,000 - 40,000 University students should equate to 14,000 university employees, several major hospitals - have no idea of # of employees, shipyards that employ 8-10,000, warehousing, international shipping companies, industrial electronics, and at least 20 petro-chemical plants with-in 20 miles up and down river would be some of the employment in the area. Normal extrapolation is for every 10 good paying industrial jobs you have 80 downstream jobs, ie, retail employees, wholesalers, grocery stores, restaurants, shoe repair, hair dressers, elementary & h.s. teachers, etc.

How many of those jobs are directly, or indirectly related to the port?

Why would you have to move the universities or hospitals? The schools & hospitals serve an entire region.

The real question is: Can we continue to force the River to stay in this channel and keep the needed distance between N.O. and GOM. I haven't seen any progress in that direction in the last 35 yrs, have you?

In fact the problem has become massively worse since the year I was born...the same year as the off-shore boom and cutting up of the marsh.

I certainly don't have ideas for all the details, and I know such a move can not be painless, but having the city drown in a Cat 2 storm doesn't seem like a good plan either.

I can't understand why you would want to move the port if it wasn't to move the city ... its not like the port flooded! The 150 miles by 450 miles of no power lines, cell phone towers, telephone lines, radio and tv broadcasting towers is what paralyzed the city and surrounding areas.

Well, of course the other thing that paralyzed the city was not getting new building guidelines/flood map for one year .. unlike someplace like Galveston that got theirs and was allowed to rebuild 3 months after Ike. But that's a much different topic.

The original settlement of New Orleans was, and much still is above sea level. The settlements were on the banks of the river, which is high ground, or later on the Metairie Ridge, which is an old river bank area.

A critical error was made when the swamps of Jefferson parish between the city and the lake, which was a drainage area, were filled and developed.

Did you watch the video of the land loss? New Orleans was not nearly so close to the GOM when settled.

New York city is at sea level.

gmf: My concern (aside from the fact that the CORPS has spent 10xs of millions holding the Mississippi at bay) is the loss of natural meandering that deltas undergo - and how this impacts the quality of wetlands, marshes, etc. I never could quite figure that one out. A case of over development in which given enough time, nature would eventually take its course - as we are beginning to see.

Not to mention the Netherlands, which seems to have successfully engineered flood protection with a large investment after a big flood in the 1950s.

Yikes, don't get me started. F

First of all, the old city of New Orleans was and is above sea level. Fifty percent of the inhabited area (we actually have uninhabited marsh and swamp within the city limits) is above sea level. For a book length answer to your "open" question, read "Bienville's Dilemma" by Richard Campanella. In this great book, Campanella answers from an historical geographer's perspective. Basically, the settlement and economic growth of the entire mid-west in the early 1800's required a deep water port on the Mississippi. Bienville (our founder in 1718 understood that, and so did Thomas Jefferson when he sent Livingston to buy the "Isle de Orleans" from Napoleon.

New Orleans was the most downriver site with tolerable flood risk (yes, flooding was a regular event from the first days) as well as having the advantages of easy access to inland waterways connecting Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne, Mississippi Sound, and the Gulf as well as Baton Rouge via Bayou Manchac. By the 1830 New Orleans was the third largest city in the US and the nation's major port with easy access to the entire Mississippi Valley. That said, railroads led to the reduced economic significance of the port. By 1860, New Orleans was the fifth largest city in the country. The port, petroleum, and petrochem industries from Plaquemines Ph to Baton Rouge remain nationally significant although providing many fewer jobs, particularly since the advent of the containership and centralization of the oil industry in Houston.

The nature of being an international port with a French colonial past, deep connections to the Caribbean, and a unique (in the US) cultural mix of Franco-African culture as well as immigration of "American" blacks after the Civil War created a special city and people whose culture (for good and bad) is preserved today, in part due to benign neglect, insularity, and resiliant and fatalistic people. I wouldn't live anywhere else. Please come visit us, I promise you'll have a good time even if you, like many, would never want to live here.



New Orleans is such a magical place.

If you visit, walk through the old city a block or two away from the crowds. Just soak in the architecture and atmosphere.

Yeah you right. This morning (my day off) I had a nice walk from my 150 yr old house in the LGD down to the FQ for a coffee, streetcar back.

Being Spanish Creole, I am supposed to stay on this side of Canal St, but I sneak in sometimes. I am also half Asian so I can get by.

I got interviewed for a job at Tulane. The Perfessers were confused, humidity was 190%, and it was a bust. But I got to sit next to a *beautiful* call girl at a French Quarter bar, for hours. Nobody called her. I couldn't understand why

snake -- A little warning next time you visit the French Quarter: often the best looking women there aren't women.

I'm absolutely certain that this one was, Rockman. I acquired proof. But thanks for the tip.

what proof ?

maybe the call girl - wasn't.

I have visited New Orleans and I loved it!
Good food, friendly people, and yes, the Preservation of Jazz Hall.

One way out, is that the parts that are below sea level, turn them into parks/gardens/etc and the parts above sea level, remain inhabited.

And yes, the sediment must go back to where it belongs, IMHO.

BTW, this site is superb, specially in its signal to noise ratio.

I have visited New Orleans and I loved it!
Good food, friendly people, and yes, the Preservation of Jazz Hall.

One way out, is that the parts that are below sea level, turn them into parks/gardens/etc and the parts above sea level, remain inhabited.

And yes, the sediment must go back to where it belongs, IMHO.

BTW, this site is superb, specially in its signal to noise ratio.

That is my thought...I think the city is doomed the way we are going, but maybe the best parts could be preserved by getting rid of others.

City's been "doomed" for 292 years, but we go on. Difficult to say "this area is low, we're gonna make it a park" when your momma an dem been living there for 3 generations, own the property, and been flooded two or three times before.

Somebody mentioned Broadmoor - developed in the 20s-30s in the low part of the bowl - guess what? This neighborhood was back quick and beautiful - it's great again.

We know how to build proper levees, just didn't do it. Could have saved money by doin' it right. Many people to blame for this, federal, state, and local -- I'm not goin there tonight.

New Orleans will deal no matter what, just don't turn us into another Charleston or Disneyland version what Hollywood thinks of New Orleans.

BTW, it will cause some heartache (to the oystermen) and cost some money, but we also know how to maintain the coastal marsh and swamp -- freshwater diversions of the M.River on a large scale.

Stay tuned for Harry Shearer's upcoming feature documentary on the levees due out for the 5 year K anniversary - Also Spike Lee has been back and is doing a 4-hour HBO followup to "When the levees broke."

I was thinking more of areas like Metairie, where there was no one 3 generations ago, or NO east.

Disneyland version ugh! I kwym. I love N.O....Disney you can have!

I have been fortunate enough to visit New Orleans about 15 times over the course of my life. I hope to be able to do it many more times. It has a unique culture and heritage that I enjoy tremendously. It is my favorite American city to visit.

However I think the frequency of major hurricane impacts is going to increase with time due to global warming, and the other problems described here are going to make it very hard on its residents going forward.

At some time you have to ask the question whether rebuilding again is a reasonable thing to do.

New York and many other port cities may be at or near sea level. But they are not subject to tropical hurricanes.

New York and many other port cities may be at or near sea level. But they are not subject to tropical hurricanes

A common misconceptualization (as Dr John might phrase it), Speaker. NYC has been hard hit and meters deep in storm surge. As I heard it, Coney Island used to be where you got on the ferry to go out to the original resort island, now just sand bars like so many former Louisiana islands.

A year post-Katrina in NOLA the insurance folks wouldn't write any storm insurance for a good while, and we found it oddly consoling that they also wouldn't write policies for NYC, too, because the hurricane risk exposure there was even greater.

Houston is another port at great risk, a glancing blow by Ike two years ago put a world of hurt on parts of that city.

With decently built and maintained levees, the actual risk in New Orleans is lower than many other cities in the hurricane zone, because we are farther from the coast, even with all the erosion of the past century.

Hey OFB:

You forgot the New England Hurricane of 1938. Destroyed a lot of expensive real estate and killed a bunch of people in E. Long Island, Rhode Island, and S. Mass. My father-in-law remembers this tragedy which was big news for decades.

Queens NY is mostly right about sea level, as are parts of lower Manhattan.

They certainly don't get 'em as often, but they still get 'em up there. Not to mention some bad nor'easters that routinely destroy expensive real estate on the E. coast beaches.

Also, have a look at historical coastlines on Cape Cod - lots of changes of inlets and barrier islands right up to the present - cf. Chatham MA.

Most of Houston proper is ~50' above sea-level, but the now large towns around Galveston Bay are vulnerable big time. Ike was very bad for thinly populated areas NE of Galveston, and bad enough for Galveston proper, but if Ike had hit Houston on the other side - we would have seen death and damage rivaling Katrina.


Only two hurricanes have landed at NYC in the past 500 years, the last being in 1821.

New Orleans gets hit by a hurricane every 3.6 years.

Before Katrina, the last storm to do any real damage to New Orleans was Betsy in 1965.

New England Hurricane 1938
Click for a larger map of the New England Hurricane of 1938The "Long Island Express" was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on September 13, although it may have formed a few days earlier. Moving generally west-northwestward, it passed to the north of Puerto Rico on the 18th and 19th, likely as a category 5 hurricane. It turned northward on September 20 and by the morning of the 21st it was 100 to 150 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. At that point, the hurricane accelerated to a forward motion of 60 to 70 mph, making landfall over Long Island and Connecticut that afternoon as a Category 3 hurricane.

Storm surges of 10 to 12 ft inundated portions of the coast from Long Island and Connecticut eastward to southeastern Massachusetts, with the most notable surges in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay.

Great Atlantic Hurricane 1944

This hurricane was of Category 3 intensity at landfalls at Cape Hatteras, Long Island, and Point Judith, Rhode Island, and Category 2 as far north as the coast of Maine.

Hurricanes Carol and Edna 1954

Carol ...make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane over Long Island, New York and Connecticut

by September 7 it was a hurricane very near where Carol had formed two weeks before. From this point, Edna followed a path just east of Carol's. It accelerated past Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on September 10 and made landfall over Cape Cod as a Category 3 hurricane the next day.

Hurricane Donna 1960

Category 3 on Long Island and Categories 1 to 2 elsewhere)

Hurricane Agnes 1972

a just-under-hurricane-strength Agnes made a final landfall on the 22nd near New York, New York.


Thanks for the info. Mostly before my time, but I remember T.S. Agnes was a b#tch due to heavy-heavy rains and flooding in central PA. I also remember some beach resorts in NJ wiped out in 1961 or 1962 by a big noreaster - you should see the real estate there now compared to the little cottages of the 50's. People have forgotten.

True enough, I guess, but 1938 was pretty close and it will happen again some day.

From memory, the really bad New Orleans hurricanes in recent history (the ones people remember) were 1915, 1946, 1965, and 2005. Lots of wind damage in 1915 and 1946, 1965 was a problem with the manmade industrial canal and MRGO. There were also bad storms earlier that only historians remember; New Orleans survived them all. As someone else said upthread, the bulk of the 2005 damage in New Orleans was in areas that were only inhabited after developers and planners drained the swamps and built the outfall canals and related levees (which failed before water reached design levels). If the 17th street canal had failed on the other side, most of the large suburbs of Metairie and Kenner, built on drained swamp would have looked like Lakeview (under 5-10 feet of water).

Gee, the Florida panhandle got hit like 4 times in 2004. I seem to remember that FEMA indicated in the early 2000's that the highest probability natural disasters for potential loss of life were New Orleans hurricane, Mt Ranier volcano eruption, or a major earthquake on the New Madrid system near St. Louis, or Hurricane hitting Miami, Fla. I suppose we should move Miami, St. Louis, and Seattle to ...?

Usually stay Napoleon/Tchoupitoulas area myself when I'm in town (high & dry), but used to live in the bowl .. Broadmoor Area, as it was a later built area 1870's - 1940 at least most of the houses were raised or upstairs/downstairs duplexes with owners unit on second floor. If I stay stateside for a couple years after I finally get rid of place in Houston, NOLA will be where I spend it.

Referring back to the T-P article, the oil survey described there is really pretty encouraging if you recall that where they were scouting, the south side of Barataria Bay, is the worst-hit area of the whole Gulf Coast (along with the north end of the same bay).

Skandi 2 is collecting bubbles again at the base of the well head.

It appears to be leaking a lot more now.

Wonder why they need another sample from there?

Hope they don't drop it on the deck this time. LOL


I'm watching that too. I thought this was the sample point that was described by Kent Wells as "15 percent methane" and probably organic.

That is what we were led to believe but I am sure if you go look at the statements they made about it they are pretty ambiguous like the rest of the crap they have fed us.

Well I know he said they were sending it for a thorough lab analysis but that was the last I heard about it.

I'd be curious, if it is the same leak and it is "organic", what changed to make it apparently increase in rate?

I can't decide if there is an oil component to the bubbles (lighting sucks at this angle).

I never did hear what the shore analysis revealed. Anybody?

I didn't want to say anything(for fear of sounding alarmist) but IMHO the sample does seem to have a rather dark coloured component in it.

They really need to accelerate plans to get some kill mud in there before something starts leaking more than a stream of bubbles.

I think the 15% methane sample came from bubbles from the sea floor a small distance away, not this one.

Is this stream of bubbles coming out of that valve they were sampling a few days ago? It looks closer to the well casing from this angle.

I get very confused by how vague they are about a lot of this.

I thought the seep from a bit further from the wellhead was attributed to another abandoned site.

I thought the bubbles coming out of the valve were nitrogen.

I didn't think they tested at the valve last time. I thought they sampled at the casing last time (just like this time).

From my memory:

There is an unrelated oil seep 3km from the well

There are some bubbles were coming from the sea floor mud closer to the well that tested 15% methane, thought to be bio organic.

They used a similar funnel apparatus to collect some small bubbles coming out the end of a valve on this part of the well a few days ago, and I THINK they were determined to be nitrogen.

This may be the same leak, or another one near it, but the bubbles seem larger now. (I would have to see a view from a different angle to be sure.)

Small streams of bubbles are not too worrisome, but small streams of bubbles that are getting larger are worrisome. They had a nice window of opportunity to perform a kill, but they spent it doing science experiments and monitoring instead.

Edit: On the other hand this video is zoomed in close, so the bubbles may only appear larger because of the magnification.

Yeah, but they've almost got a complete 3D model. If there's a blowout, that should help as an appendix to the writeup.

lol +1000

I believe the initial explanation (translated "guess") for this leak was that it probably had to do with the cement continuing to cure, and that it is normal because it is seen on other wells. My problem with that explanation is that there is nothing normal about this well and typical guesswork on the part of BP should not apply. As we have all seen, if they are not asked the specific question concerning the analysis results for the previous sample, we will never know. It simply gets lost in the noise.

Trip -- You should be dubious about that explanation. The cmt is not curing. It cured to what ever degree is was going to 3 months ago. If it wasn’t cured a few days after it was pumped it never will. This is how a normal cmt job goes.

The wait time on the original cmt job apparently came up in the hearing the other day. I’ll offer a point about cmt jobs. As you can imagine cmtg csg isn’t like pouring a sidewalk slab. Consider just the temperature involved…over 200 degrees. In addition to the basic cmt formula (designed specifically for each well) they have to add a certain amount of retardant. Too little and the cmt can set up in the drill pipe before it reaches the csg. Seen it happen more than once…a real hassle. Too much retardant it could take many days (if ever) to cure. So while the time factor is always important it’s not the only critical issue. That’s why several samples of every cmt pumped is put in an oven onboard and cured at spec. We don’t know yet if this was done and there’s a record preserved.

..." That's why several samples of every cmt pumped is put in an oven onboard an cured at spec."...

Ummm...with or without LCM "snot"?

BTW, curious note re Shlumberger... widow of Shane Rosto,yesterday's cong. hearings, testified he twice mentioned well was kicking before it blew [by tele from rig].
Tho no specific time/date given, this perhaps relates to rumor of SBGR crew fast departure from rig.[This from BLISTERS @ gCaptain website.My copy/paste not working]

It appears to be about the same place James.

I got a lousy picture of the leak when they first started looking at it this morning.


The stream is coming up by that hose, between the hose and the wellhead.

The pipe that was leaking that they tried cleaning out and it is still leaking is right there, this picture caught a big blob of bubbles coming out of it. The blob in the picture goes about even with the pipe the other rov is holding on to.


Ok. Not "alarming" yet, but still worrisome.

I agree. Yesterday I did notice some hydrate build up on parts that really should not have had it. I wonder if they could have been from this.

Here's the Kent Wells transcript (19 July, 5:30 pm) where he explained in his opening statement about the previous samples:


Thanks Trip. Yes, that was the statement of Kent Wells I was thinking of. I never did hear what the good analysis of the sample was ... but then I'm not in their loop.

You are getting your screen shots of these bubbles by pointing a digital camera at the screen. With a 1/50th second exposure time it is quite possible that either or both of these screen images is two broadcast frames.

From Flickr
Exposure: 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture: f/4.6
Focal Length: 18 mm

I captured a video clip of this seepage from around the well head at the mud line, but don't know how to post it. Can't really see anything in single frames of the compressed video. The difficulty in seeing this seepage in streaming videos is perhaps a good example of why those of us looking at spillcam at home have had such a hard time making sense of things.

BTW: 'Twas interesting to see how old most folks who post here are. I was born under Truman; first political memory is JFK vs Nixon in '60. Haven't spent much time on the gulf coast, but once rented a car with a friend from Australia, grabbed a 12-pack of beer and a bucket of Popeye's chicken & headed south along the river to see how far we could get. Finally made it to Venice. The industrial blight along the way was an eye-opener. The Gulf Coast was also first place a waitress called me "sugar". Get sugared all the time now. Must be the grey beard.

Nubs- if you'll do frame captures and drop them in photobucket as jpegs. Photobucket will give you the html code in the window to the left of the uploaded image. Copy the html code and drop it into the Oil Drum reply window. PREVIEW to be sure it's what you want and the hit save [reply].



Gov’t Testing Finds Air in Gulf Like L.A. on a Bad Day

“The EPA continues to use a limited number of monitoring sites to extrapolate to a broad region,” the Bucket Brigade said in an analysis of the agency’s air monitoring [PDF]. “If the EPA does not have the data then they should simply state that fact.”


In Gulf, EPA’s Water Sampling Found Possible Risk to Aquatic Life

“As soon as we got the batch back that had nickel in it, we put up a headline on the website that said we had found nickel,” Gilfillan explained. “As soon as we got another batch without the nickel, we put up a headline that said we didn’t find any, which I understand can be confusing.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pacific_Ring_of_Fire.svg Quaking---if you don't want to scare people maybe you should change your user name. I have found a different site where I have found some intellectual theorists so I'm gone for now. I don't believe I am scaring anybody when I say I am purely speculating.

operationoilkill on July 23, 2010 - 8:56am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake It would appear that the GOM is one of the most active areas in the world as far as tectonic plate movement. And this drill sight is closer to the Ring of Fire then I thought...

What makes it appear to you that it is one of the most active tectonic plate movement areas in the world? It doesn't appear that way to me.

The Gulf of Mexico isn't even close to being one of the most active seismic areas on earth. On the contrary, it's one of the quietest. It's not all that close to the Ring of Fire, either. Generally, over a subduction fault (where one plate slides beneath another, like along the west coast of South America, or southern Alaska) the volcanoes form about 80-120 km from the trench. The Gulf isn't near the fault--only in the extreme southwest portion, where you have to cross Central America first.

There's no evidence for major faulting which penetrates the entire crust around the Gulf. There are minor faults, yes, and plenty of them--the crust is under a lot of stress due especially to sediment loading over the last several million years. But to call the GOM one of the most seismically active areas on earth is flat-out wrong. There isn't much seismic energy there.

You want consistent earthquake activity? Look at Japan, Alaska or Turkey.

I agree and always have but we are a long way off when we say that the Gulf is not vulnerable to earthquakes, look at the land mass around it and look at the epicenters right near the drill site.I believe there are much worse problems at hand here but I am looking at a much larger picture then the oncoming storm. Why, if you're so knowledgeable, would you think an A-bomb type reaction 1 mile below the sea would register high on the richter scale.

A-bombs actually register pretty low on the Richter scale.
This isn't something people on the GOM need to worry about.

That is very true but I don't think people would take these theories to seriously. They are possible but far from proven. Do to the lack of total transparency by BP and whoever these theories are all over the internet.

I don't expect BP to be forthcoming on seismic stuff - it's not their field.
For seismic, I go to the USGS; they are forthcoming.

Correct----the news media reported the seismic incident and the USGS confirmed it. The theory related to this is that taping into the reservoir caused this event 4 miles beneath the sea surface because it happened very close to the horizon disaster. Is it wrong or is it right, not my idea, don't ask me to confirm this but found the theory to be very interesting.

Mike Williams testifying at USCG Kenner this morning. Real pleasure to hear an intelligent, organized, clear-headed straight shooter - after the disgusting waffle, horizontal and vertical blame shifting, and perjury ("cost was never a factor") of BP manager John Guide yesterday.

No one from BP Plc, which leased the Deepwater Horizon to drill the Macondo well, or from other companies involved in the work has been named a party of interest, according to the panel’s website. Transocean, the largest offshore oil driller, may be held liable because under maritime law the vessel owner has ultimate responsibility for the safety of those onboard, said Paul Sterbcow, an attorney representing Williams.

Transocean “cannot delegate that duty to anybody else,” Sterbcow said in a telephone interview before his client was named. “The law prevents it and the facts prevent it.”

If Transocean employees are found to have taken steps that led to the explosion, deaths and spill, they may face criminal charges, regardless of whether they were following orders from their client, BP, said Jane Barrett, who spent 20 years prosecuting environmental crimes at both the federal and state levels.
Transocean fell $1.25, or 2.6 percent, to $47.75 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 48 percent since the disaster.

Nine corporate entities have been designated as parties of interest by the panel. They are BP and its partners in the well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., which is 70 percent owned by Japan’s Mitsui & Co.; Transocean; Halliburton Co.; Cameron International Corp.; Weatherford International Ltd.; M-I Swaco; and Dril-Quip Inc.


Ronald Sepulvado, the BP well-site leader for whom Kaluza was standing in when the disaster unfolded, told the panel yesterday that Transocean’s offshore installation manager, or OIM, had the authority to veto any drilling operations he deemed unsafe.

Asked yesterday by Hariklia Karis, a Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorney representing BP, “where the buck stops” on the rig with regard to safety, Sepulvado responded, “It stops with the OIM.”

Stephen Bertone, chief engineer on the rig, and Mike Williams, chief engineer technician, were designated as parties of interest yesterday by a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department investigative panel. That boosted to five the number of Transocean workers who could face criminal charges stemming from the accident that killed 11 people.

No one from BP Plc, which leased the Deepwater Horizon to drill the Macondo well, or from other companies involved in the work has been named a party of interest, according to the panel’s website.

The US Coast Guard doesn't have jurisdiction over BP. In maritime law, BP company men were passengers. Doesn't change BP's liability as lease operator, nor contractual civil liability to discharge and hold Transocean harmless from BP directed drilling, testing, and subsea events that killed 11 men and blew up the rig. If it was done recklessly, which I think will be easy to prove, BP goes down for criminal and well as civil damages.

Transocean may or may not be strictly liable for misconduct and negligence of Master and OIM, but certainly RIG has deeper pockets than Krupta and Harrell.

They are going to be looking at the BP side of it once they finish with the vessel and TO side of it. The first emphasis is on the vessel.

Two BP guys were named parties of interest at the end of yesterday's Marine Board session - Pat O'Bryan, BP, vice president drilling and completions and Robert Kaluza, well site leader on DWH.


ETA see 15th and 16th names at

No one from BP Plc...

Are you saying that the Marine Board is making a distinction between BP PLC vs. BP America when it lists PIIs?

Parties In Interest:


...designated as parties of interest yesterday by a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department investigative panel. That boosted to five the number of Transocean workers who could face criminal charges...

I think that is not a fair statement. A Party In Interest has rights to examine evidence, crossexamine witnesses, access a Marine Board website that the rest of us can't see, etc. A person can request to be named a Party In Interest.

Also, this Board is not in the business of lodging criminal charges against anybody, although evidence obtained by it can be referred to others, if appropriate.

perjury ("cost was never a factor")

I've been thinking about this for some time since Syncro outlined his 12 step program (to disaster). Like Syncro, all along I was assuming cost was the issue, and was working things out based on rig cost per 24 hour period. But it is highly likely NOW that decisions were made on the basis of TIME. That rig was due someplace else, and they were hurrying things up to get it off-station so it could drill elsewhere.

So here is the perjury statement, "TIME was never a factor". IMHO

Re: perjury

Guide also said under oath that constructing the well with six centralizers did not compromise safety. I don't know if that meets the technical definition of perjury, but did he seriously intend anyone to believe that the well was as safe with six centralizers as it would have been with 10 or 21?

@ rightsizedglass
(from yesterday at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6768#comment-685733 )

where you posted http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6768#comment-685872 )

You may be correct if Corexit was evenly distributed throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, it's not any more evenly distributed than the oil, right?



Sorry for the delay getting back - very busy. I understand that the threads can get unwieldy with many comments, but it's a pain to try to comment back on a day old thread.

To the point -
Regarding your link: Potentially interesting. Would have been nice to know what sort of tests he was doing to determine his ppm values, and what were the limits of detection of his tests. What were the error bars on his test results? Petroleum is a cocktail of numerous organic components. Was he singling out and measuring any of these? If so, which ones?

It's not all that unusual to have pressure build up in a separatory funnel when doing a solvent extraction. Venting this pressure via the valve on the funnel is SOP. What organic solvent was he doing the extraction with? The funnel could have broken during even some light to modest pressure buildup if the funnel had been bumped hard or had an incipient crack or flaw in the glass. To breathlessly blame this on methanol, methane or Corexit in the sample (especially when the sample was lost), is not very rigorous.

Did he do any GC of the water samples? If so, what detector was he using and how was it calibrated?

Like I said, potentially interesting, but it's hard to get up in arms with so little information to judge the validity of the results. I can think of lots of other questions. Don't these news organizations have anyone with some technical knowledge that could do a better job of conducting these kinds of interviews? Under the circumstances, "ominously" incresing number values don't impress me too much.

Hi Dissent,

Thanks and no problem about the timing. Frankly, I enjoy reading others opinions and throw most of my questions out rhetorically.

You make some good points but I guess the reason you can't put the issue to rest is there simply isn't enough information at this time to make a rational decision either way and be sure of being correct.

To me, and I'm more cynical than paranoid, based on Nalco's, BP's, or our gov't word Corexit 9500 is safe when mixed with oil products is too risky. I can wait a year to go to the gulf beaches to see if other people get sick. If it is safe, and it probably is IMHO, then I lose some time at the beach which I can make up. On the other hand, if it is something like agent orange and potentionally life alterning in a negative way, it's tough to undo.

That said, people should play in the gulf waters so we have a representative sample of test subjects to once and for all determine if the concentrations of oil/Corexit are indeed safe. My hats off to the volunteers. :)

k3d59 linked to a report that I think discussed the methodology used on the samples, I believe from that video. The 'exploding' reaction seems to have been an anomalous sample, but the other results also tested high in HCs.


Here's snakehead's post regarding some air/water samples, (including presence of Ni in at least one, (which I found interesting).


He is explaining they have enough evidence to decide what the well flow was.

I swear he went on to say it was between 35k and 50k bpd.

Yep. He has that one memorized.

I swear though it was 35k to 60k the last time I heard it.

I just watched the replay on CSPAN and paid close attention to his response since I had already read your comments - I'm pretty sure he said 35 to 60k bpd, not 35 to 50k.

Now it is a 3D MRI they almost have of the well area according to Allen. LOL LOL

Good. Now let's kill it before it explodes.



BP (BP LN) spill site would be abandoned for 48 hours if all ships and vessels must leave the scene because of storm according to US government

15:39 23-07-2010

Fortunately Bonnie is looking more like a squall than a potential hurricane. It is a very small storm and the upper level low moving ahead of it to the west is doing a good job of keeping it from intensifying much. May that trend continue!

Animated loop...

It's moving at ~18mph currently.

Sorry for the teletype style, but I'm too lazy to retype this.


Thank you, Miss Bonnie, for these nice clear skies and the windchime music -- a rare combo for July middays on the central Florida coast.

But you can have back whatever that was that just whacked the snot outta mah roof. And stay offa the skylights, please ma'am.

Might be that shark that moonbeam swore she saw blown out of the water by a methane explosion.


Lots about bubbles here. But what about the DOOMSDAY KILLER METHANE BUBBLE?


Is this just the latest from Matt Simmons, or are we all gonna die?

Sorry if this has already been addressed.

Conspiracy theories and statements like "Doomsday" seem to be fairly unwelcome on this board.

Matt Simmons is a road you might not want to go down.

Jason -- all are welcomed here. Except the rude and abusive, of course. Folks can offer their conspiracy theories and doomsday stories all they want. But they might be challenged and criticized. If they can’t take such responses then perhaps they should stick with the CT and doomsday site if the just want an automatic pat on the back. TOD thrives on the give and take…that’s one of it’s great values IMHO.


I apologized at the top of the thread for a previous rant, but no apologies for this link unless, of course, it has already been discussed. I'm not hollerin' Doomsday, but after watching this vid I will no longer be drinking out of my dog's dish!

Acid Rain and Oily Plane


That video is sick and the people behind it should be subject to criminal prosecution.

It is full of physically impossible statements made with intent to frighten and panic people who do not have the technical background needed to come to a rational conclusion about its contents.

It is the moral equivalent to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Yes, we're all gonna die, but it's going to be due to an overdose of charlatans trying to take advantage of vulnerable people and their fear. If I have to read anything else cobbled together by Terrence Aym I might wish it would happen sooner.

When I die they need to autopsy me and find out what toxins are in my body. Science will probably have to adjust the LD50 on several substances.

I believe statements regarding methane have been greatly exaggerated by some.

The notion that a TS or Hurricane could whip up methane from a mile under sea does not make sense.

Yes, I understand nuclear subs would only track such things because of surface vessels in the area. Otherwise, they never notice.

Well written article on "Debunking Matt Simmons".


Everyone whom took might take Simmons seriously should read.

Great link thanks, but I wonder now that Harry Reid has abandoned cap and trade carbon energy tax will CFR member MS stop these claims. I find it odd that CFR members have been advocating for cape and trade for years.Now we have one of there members making these unfounded, unprovable scare claims and pounding the doomsday pavement despite what many might consider overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It will be interesting to see what route Mr. Simmons takes from here on.

It seems there has been nothing from Simmons since his interview on Bloomberg news Tuesday 7/21.

Are people just dismissing his claims with the lack of any proof? Or are the news outlets no longer giving MS a platform to make is accusations.

Time will tell I guess. As Dylan Ratigan said;

“Accurate” Matt Simmons likely to be dismissed “until the facts make that impossible”.

Well, considering that this time he has proposed that the laws of physics are being violated, I don't expect any facts to come along to prove him right.

So I guess you have not seen his new perpetual motion machine yet?


Can I go that high? I agree, Terrence Aym or anything on godlike productions which put out a video yesterday that the BP put the cap on the wrong well. I nearly peed my pants when I read that one.

Hey momma,
Did you find help for your shutters?

My dad (who is 71) said he'd help me with them, he helped last yr when Ida rolled around, but I hate to have him hanging out of windows again but even more scared to have him on a ladder that would reach the 3rd level.....

Excellent article!

You can go to ∞+1.

The article makes claims that certain bad things are "well documented" but gives no direction to said documentation.

It also says no technology can stop the event.

If nothing can be done, there is no need to worry about it.

The article makes claims that certain bad things are "well documented" but gives no direction to said documentation.

generally a good clue to take any such claims with a grain of salt, in direct proportion to the outlandishness of the claims.

Here someone takes that article apart paragraph by paragraph:


Thanks very much for this useful critique.

At one time, I though Michel Chossudovsky's GlobalResearch.ca was a useful source. But this suggests that the editorial control is lax to non-existent.

One of the scariest things about this particular killer methane blob is that it is capable of FLOWING UPSLOPE, according to a stunningly clueless reporter for the St Pete Times (scroll to near bottom).


Massey CEO Don Blakenship just said 'Peak Coal' will not happen for at least another 40 years in Appalachia. What is his company's 20 year body count? Now on CSPAN3.

When I worked for a coal company I was once asked by engineers from our parent oil company whether it would be worthwhile to report on coal returns in drilling fluids when drilling oil wells. I did not think so because locations of coal fields are usually known and many things come into play when deciding whether to establish a mine eg transportation, labor, markets, coal characteristics (which require core drilling on 1/2 mile or closer centers). The big difference between the economics of oil and coal is that:

a. Oil is harder to find but if found there is a better than average chance it will be profitable to produce and costs are easier to predict although prices are highly volatile. (present situation in GOM excepted).

b. Coal is easy to find but profitability is harder to predict because costs to produce and selling prices are harder to predict.

In the US (east of the Mississippi) most all of the easy coal has been mined (thick seams, close to a river or existing rail line etc.) Future coal will be more costly to mine and will require higher prices. A new large mine requires hundreds of million dollars up front and competition from the new large natural gas sources introduces more risk. But Blankenship (by the way, he is an accountant)is correct - there is a lot of coal still out there.

Near the little town of Florence, Colorado, there are coal mines. In one area, vertical shaft mines started in the 1800s had a problem with oil. The bottom of the shaft would fill up with crude and had to be bailed out daily. Later a good many wells were drilled, most very shallow, and are still recovering a bbl or so per day. The last I knew, Chevron had the rights but that was many years ago. Interestingly, the wells were drilled with a yo-yo rig that used to still be there, sitting in a field. It had a wooden rocking beam.


Bonnie’s center of circulation is now over Homestead Air force base. Lowest central pressure 1009 mill bars or 29.81 inches. Current sustained wind 27 MPH with a gust to 33MPH. Less than 1.5 inches of rain at both Miami and Homested so far.


Bonnie asked Homestead if she remembered Andrew. Homestead laughed at Bonnie.

I don't even know why they are shutting down. I live about 45 minutes north of Key Largo in South Miami Dade. This was not even as bad as a normal summer thunderstorm. Hardly any rain and very little wind. I slept through it. I live in the exact area they kept showing on national television of the most decimated area in Miami hit by Andrew. I love a little excitement and this one just put me to sleep.

I live 25 southwest of Key Largo. This is the only storm I have ever been through where the wind actually decreased. Almost dead calm at the moment.

For current weather conditions about 5 miles NW of here (including just about the best radar I know of) check out my weather page at http://homepage.mac.com/james_r_white/homepage/newweather/index.html

According to a user at Godlike Productions, this is an engineered storm. Somebody probably screwed up a calculation.

Here in SW Florida, grey skies, so far about 10 minutes of rain, (whoops, sounds like it just started up again), a little far-off thunder. So far, not much of a storm compared to the little bit of Alex that passed this way.

There is some very good local weather info available at ROMAN. Hi/Lo temps, wind, rainfall etc.
You need to know place names because the stations are ID'ed by a landmark or mountain, etc. but there are topo or satt maps available to help determine the location of the remote weather station.
Main page:

South and Gulf states page:

Good morning all.

There is a question I have a question to put out there regarding MarineTraffic.com

As some who may have noticed my post yesterday, I was using this website (marine) to plot some of the ships involved in the response.

The question I have is does anyone know why yesterday all of the ships showed up on the tracking service, and as of this morning not one of the response vessels are plotted. Not a single one that is involved with the response.

I know that there are still ROV's making preparations for the coming weather as of current time. (10:22 cst).

Are the ships able to turn off GPS monitoring? Could there be another reason for this?

Anyone who would like to take a look:

Most on here seem to have a lot of knowledge on ship traffic etc. Seems odd they are all gone.

It looks like they are having some website issues. Try again a little later.

Dude, when I bring up that link it comes up in the African Sahara desert, no ships, just some camels, and they don't have transponders.

Try this one... http://www.deepwaterbp.com/m_5.asp

It looks like many of them have left the area already.

Thought that the discussion might gain from the fact sheet on the BP spill and hurricanes published by NOAA.


Short summary - the spill will have very little effect on the storm and in fact the energy expended by the storm will enhance the ongoing natural degradation of the spilled oil. There is potential for oiling of the coastline as a result to storm surge although how extensive and to what areas is impossible to predict. Depending on the storm track, the storm may transport the spill away from the Gulf Coast further into the deep water.

No discussed but potentially very important - high rainfall amounts (one of the largest land impacts from all tropical storms/hurricanes)along sections of the GulfCcoast which would help to flush oiled areas of estuaries, etc.

Tried to stay away, but this thread is like a drug.

Did you see my video of the Alex event. I live in Gulf Shores and we got a direct oil strike that day and it can be seen, but the water washed it 'away'. There was no real rain. Rain would have helped even more, but we should be OK.

I beg to differ. In my opinion there will be a change in the growth and health of the hurricane/tropical storm. This will not necessarily caused by the oil, but mainly from the dispersant. Anything that modifies the surface tension of the water is going to affect the "spume" (spray and drops torn from the waves). As evidenced in


, characteristics of the spume/spray determine how much energy gets into the storm from the oceans surface. They have been wrestling with this idea for a while now, and it usually blows up their hurricane models when they try to account for it. Too little and the storm never forms, too much and it goes off the scales.

So.. this will be an interesting experiment if the interested parties area actually watching.

Interesting study. I've wondered about that, didn't see it addressed with much detail before.

Corexit 7500 needs to be well over 1 ppm concentration to affect surface tension significantly. There is no reason to believe that it will be anywhere near that.


interesting article, STA.

I get the impression that it is particularly difficult to remove traces of the dispersants from lab equipment.

The methods for detection for the non-ionic and anionic surfactants sound simple enough. I wonder if any Gulf sample results are available.

Do you know what the "response factor", RF means in the equation ppm=a/RF ?

Cleaning labware when you are worried about sub ppm contamination is always a pain. In analytical labs disposable sample vials are pretty common - it's less expensive to buy new clean glass than to try to clean used glass.

The response factor is simply a calibration factor. Do a plot of absorbance vs. concentration from known samples and the slope is the RF. Using that you can get the concentration in an unknown sample.

Response Factor is the visible absorbance ( at 500 nm ) / concentration of standard.
The information is in Figure 2. This may give quite ambiguous numbers ( unless suitable controls are used ) as there is a toluene extraction, and that may extract other Corexit/oil components that absorb energy at that wavelength ( alkanes will not, but other, larger complex molecules may ), or other Corexit/oil components that also bind.

The ability of surfactants to stick to plastic and glass is a frequent nightmare ( of many ) that analytical chemists encounter during sample preparations. Material choice and cleaning have to be very aggressive, especially for trace analyses. Cheap, disposable, polymeric filters/tubes have to continuously validated, as manufacturers change formulations to be competitive.

Thanks for the explanations, STA, Bruce.

Update on the youth. I just had a youngin sign up and tell me she was too scared to login here. Is it possible I am TOD Jr. or would that be pre-TOD? I did not come up with the idea. I have a wonderful interview from a Hooter Girl I will post today. I really have no idea why the kids like me like they do except I try to related to them. It is hard sometimes, but try to relate to a politician. That will drive you insane. I prefer the young minds, one good thing about a Master's, you can teach with it. Education or medical are about the only decent jobs left around here. I am going to introduce a 'let me ask TOD for you' section on my site. I think it would be a plus for all.

I prefer young minds too. I have about 40 kids in my sailing class, a plurality of whom are girls about 10-12. They're smart enough to know they have a lot too learn and unlike adults you don't have to get them to un-learn too much nonsense that they have been taught.

I was flying to Tampa around Thanksgiving one year and there were some kids sitting next to me. So I started talking to them. I proved to them they could all be rocket scientists if they really wanted to. Ended up sitting next to a girl and her Grandpa on the plane. I started to explain some simple science to her (Why is the sky blue?) and you could hear a pin drop. I really ought to write a science book for kids some day.

Did you see my video? Millions of gallons of water does not notice thousand of gallons of anything. Dilution would make any effect undetectable IMHO.

No I did not see you video, but since you like kids you might like these pictures. http://picasaweb.google.com/ljhassan/2k10JFRhodesRegatta#549453671509040...

Chin up! We've got the leak stopped, it will only get better from here.

Was that Hayward? :) I like talking to young people, although tasteful pics are cools too. I helps me cure myself for free. No mental health help here yet, the claim is still at BP.
Remember that when you deal with folks around here. I think some are about to snap.

Want a plan? They say it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. So maybe you & the Hooters girls ought to have a beach party. Doesn't seem to be much driftwood around, but there does seem to be some "flotsam", so bring some charcoal lighter and liberally spread it on the "flotsam" to set it on fire as the tide falls. Then toss in a sparkler as you say "Opa!". Have a nice little fire and as the tide comes back in it will wash the "ashes" away. Bonnie will do the rest.

I am guessing they would initially charge me with 20 years, but I am sure they would reduce it and might not even have to get convicted, but I would rather have the over 21 ones wear their bikinis for the cause. Better video too.

Okay, A. Bless you for calling me a youngin, you made my day. B. I am a historian. I know NOTHING about the oil industry, and therefore am here to learn rather than say stupid things that will only get me flamed C. God gave me two ears and one mouth, so I listen twice as much as I talk. Not sure what to make of the fact that I have ten fingers to type with. :) (<---thought I would use an emoticon to reinforce the fact that I am a youngin!)

I WILL use this opportunity to say thank you too those of you who contribute to this discussion. I enjoy everyones postings, even the ones that I don't quite understand yet. I am learning a lot. Mainly, that I should remain silent.

Carry on...

The "Youngin" in Austin, Texas

PS. My 13 year old son lurks here too. He learns a lot from you all as well.

Welcome, y'all pups!


My grandmother was named Mandy and she lived in Texas, but died several decades ago. Anyway, she was not from Austin but Muleshoe.

Muleshoe!! Twenty miles from Earth. ;-)

Aww, you reminded me of the youngins. That is a good thing. Minor in 20th Century Military History and back to the American Civil War. Thank you so much. I like us 'non youngins' too. I am paying the neighbor kid $10 to write a post for my blog. She loves the environment, but I can't get the kids to do anything today without at least a token bribe. What are folks teaching their kids today? How to end up like us or worse?

Um, TF, what are you teaching her with that tenner?

You have to start somewhere, this is going to be hard work for a nine year old. When I figure her out better, the tokens will stop. Sometimes you have to use a little cheese in the trap. Her mother is actually not too bad about spoiling her, but the standards are so out of whack. Some of these kids in high school now get three digit weekly allowances. I worked all week for that in the day. Besides, everyone knows I am sneaky. I plot in little ways all the time. I like to think it is doing good, but they will just put me right next to Hayward and Dudley. Now there is a reality show we would all watch.

Edit: Youngin interview. Too much noise. I will do better.

Ladies and gentlmen, please take note and stay polite ;)

Skoobie, as a historian this is an event you should be taking note of for the future. Historians will be writing about this for many decades to come.


During middle age the primary developmental task is one of contributing to society and helping to guide future generations

Snipped from Eric Erickson's development stages

I have a whole long list of why older people are attractive to younger people (a product of a discussion in a group), and vice versa.

I suspect though that the reason they might be responsive to "old farts" is that they think we're harmless and amusing.

Michael Williams testified today that the alarm system on the Deep Water Horizon had been intentionally turned off for at least a year before the accident. The reason for the disablement? So that rig workers' sleep wouldn't be interrupted by alarms sounding. See the Washington Post story here:


BP accused of trying to silence science on spill
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 23rd, 2010 -- 10:03 am

LONDON (AFP) – The head of the American Association of Professors accused BP Friday of trying to buy the silence of scientists and academics to protect itself after the Gulf oil spill, in a BBC interview.

"This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way," said Cary Nelson.

BP is facing lawsuits after the oil spill, which has destroyed the livelihoods of many people along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

A copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP, which the BBC said it had obtained, said scientists are not allowed to publish the research they do for the oil giant.

They are also not allowed to speak about the data for at least three years or until the government gives final approval for the company's restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf, said the British broadcaster.

More: http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0723/bp-accused-silence-science-spill/

See, I told you the pros do not have to have BP. If BP wants to try and buy legal protection, they just end up killing 100 times as much in present and future image.

Mike Williams just became a Very Big Problem for Transocean.

Oil spill hearings: Key warning systems bypassed on rig, technician testifies

We disabled a critical safety alarm system because we couldn't sleep. I thought these guys were tough. Ever sleep with 155's going downrange less than 200 feet away? Foam earplugs work nicely. People die because the leaders did not want to disturb the little workers. Aww. So thoughtful. It is like momma giving crack to the kids. Yeah, they might REALLY like it or think they do, but it might not be the best thing for them.

TFHG -- Rigs are noisey anyway. I usually slept with my plugs in. An equally bad aspect of that situation was that the hands had gotten use to not responding to alarms. So even if someone tripped an alarm manually many wouldn't react. Same thing with bad sensor readings...somethings happen so fast there's no time to double check visually. As I'm sure you know well is was a question of when the Mother of All Screwups would happen and not if it would happen.

I understand. After the third scud alert in the desert I stayed in my bunk and dared Saddam to hit me. The shelter made it easier to get all of us at once anyways, so the old man said, we have extra units this go round and we are expendable for this deployment. If you want to disperse to your bunks instead of going to the shelter, so be it. After the 20th alert, no one went. Of course, we also knew the old man was going to make sure we got back. We all did. That is what leadership is for those other folks that were asking.
These oil rig workers had many more options and responsibilities for safety they passed on. Even though we were in the middle ranks, we stood guard as though it were life and death every time. It was still a combat zone. We just made real sure we did not shoot a friendly by accident.

Edit: When new guys would rotate in we would HIDE under our bunks and pretend it was the end. That was some of the funniest situations I have ever seen in my life. Grown men would cry and we would have to gently bring them back into the fold.

That suggests that there were too many alarms. Was there any system to separate between alarms(you had better pay close attention NOW) and alerts(hey this needs to be checked)?


I've been in control rooms at refineries and coal power plants where alarms were continuously ringing. I asked the operator about that and he look puzzled - and then said - "oh that - just false signals - nothing to worry about". We also had a nuclear plant and after leaving the coal plants - I prayed that that wasn't happening in the nuclear plant. I agree with the concept of alarms and alerts...

Water treatment plant alarms.
Alarms only sounded in the control room.
My mgr would acknowledge(silence)alarms while I was doing my rounds.
On PM, Night, or weekend shifts I'd key the PA mic with a rubber band so I could hear alarms when away from the control room, only me on shift. Stressful.

The problem is that false alarms are typically worse than no alarm. Every false alarm trains your people to ignore alarms.

IMO - Transocean was simply placed in a 'no-win' situation here. If they had not disabled the system then that guy would be testifing that the alarm system was so unreliable that nobody paid any attention to it.

BTW - I was an expert at sleeping in the TC's position in my tank while waiting on the boresight line for my turn to shoot. I would sleep right through 120mm main guns firing 100 m away but would be instantly alert if my tank's callsign came over the radio. This caused some issues in Iraq as I would frequently not wake up for a rocket or mortar attack.

Thank you. Are you a TC or PLTLDR/TC? I left as a silver bar PLTLDR. Were you in the Storm? Pulled any Scud alerts on the new guys?

I spend my entire career (26 years) as enlisted. By the time I got my first degree (BBA) I was high enough that I was unwilling to 'start out all over again' at the bottom. Whrn the doctors forced bme to retire I was scheduled for the Sergant Major's Academy and was second from the top on the E-9 list.

Never made it to the Gulf the for first time. By the time they had transport assets availible to start moving us - it was all over.

Instead I got to spend a year at 'Impact Area Anaconda' in 2004. This is where I learned to ignore alarms - as they invariably sounded after the rockets/mortars hit. It got to the point where I commented to the base commander that they should only sound the alarm immedeatly before EOD blew up the duds - so we would know that the following explosions could be safely ignored.

Binary responses (in this case, either off or on) may be a product of an inadequate response to either the risk posed or the design of the system intended to counter that risk.

I'm not familiar with this system, but I think it's safe to say that generically, when you get a number of false alarms, you either employ systems to reduce (and preferably eliminate) the events you're monitoring, or reconfigure the alarm system trigger level to only identify real risks.

IMO - Transocean was simply placed in a 'no-win' situation here. If they had not disabled the system then that guy would be testifing that the alarm system was so unreliable that nobody paid any attention to it.

This leaves out the possibility that maybe not enough attention has been given to designing and building a system that works, or perhaps just maintaining it properly. It was just treated as BS safety BS that never works anyway.

What about the other rigs we have heard about that did not explode when the crew failed to get them shut in on time. Something must have worked on those rigs, or was it just blind luck?

lotus -- BP is still in for a world of hurt. But it sounds like Mike is gonna skin at least 6 or 7 of Transocean's nine lives. Fine by me...I've seen such foolishness often during my career. Until recently I haven't been in a position of authority to do anything. Now I can skin a few cats of my own. Feels good, too.

(Two members of this household don't think much of your metaphor, but) You GO, Rockman!

You let them know that you are encouraging him and you will be let go.

Shhhhhhhh. They haff their vays.

Meow, phhhhhht!!

[there is more than one way to skin a rock man]

Mike Williams just became a Very Big Problem for Transocean.

Oil spill hearings: Key warning systems bypassed on rig, technician testifies

The Deepwater Horizon had bypassed key alarm and shutdown systems that could have warned the crew on the Deepwater Horizon of impending disaster or may have even guarded against or may have even mitigated some of the disaster that struck April 20.

Share The staggering revelation came from the testimony Friday of Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Transocean rig.

He told federal investigators that the rig's general alarm and indicator lights were set to "inhibited," meaning they would record high gas levels or fire in a computer, but wouldn't trigger any warning signals.

"When I discovered they were inhibited a year ago I inquired why, and the explanation I got was that from the OIM (the top Transocean official on the rig) on down, they did not want people woken up at 3 a.m. due to false alarms," said Williams, who was responsible for fixing many of the rig's various systems.

Williams said he took his concerns to two fellow rig workers before the accident. "I told them that was unsatisfactory, just not in those words," he said. "They told me they had orders from the OIM and the master that the alarms were to be inhibited."

When gas shot up onto the rig April 20, Williams said an emergency shutdown system, which was supposed to shut off the engines, didn't trip, either. The engines ended up overspeeding by drawing power off the gas and Engine No. 3 exploded, Williams said.

As with the general alarm system, the rig leaders decided to bypass a key system on the blowout preventer control panel that would have cut off the spark source if dangerous gas got in the drill shack, Williams testified. As it turned out, that's where gas apparently shot onto the rig and ignited, killing 11 workers.

Williams said he discovered that about five weeks before the accident while he was trying to fix the gas purging system. He said Mark Hay, the Transocean senior subsea supervisor, set the control panel system to bypass its gas shutdown function, and when Williams questioned him, Hay said there was no point in Williams fixing it because none of the Transocean rigs use the safety system.

"He said, 'Damn thing been in bypass for five years. Matter of fact, the entire (Transocean) fleet runs them in bypass,'" Williams testified.

I think we can count on the Dems moving to quickly suppress/stop investigations like this, after the Dems/Obama have demagogued/demonized/villianized BP. Obama just couldn't resist his Chicago machine pol instincts to shakedown the nearest deep pockets, and divert attention from Dem failure to regulate/enforce.

"Obama just couldn't resist his Chicago machine pol instincts to shakedown the nearest deep pockets, and divert attention from Dem failure to regulate/enforce."

I'd love to know how Obama failed to regulate given all of the geo-political issues going on he would even have delved into the MMS.

Given the lack of evidence to support your claim, it sounds like the same bull to try an pin blame for everything on Obama.

The same who try and blame Obama for this are the same who complain about keeping government out of the private sector.

BP and the banks have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted and the American people suffer from their actions.

As with the general alarm system, the rig leaders decided to bypass a key system on the blowout preventer control panel that would have cut off the spark source if dangerous gas got in the drill shack, Williams testified. As it turned out, that's where gas apparently shot onto the rig and ignited, killing 11 workers.

I have been interested in this and waiting to hear why these systems failed. We have heard a few first or second hand stories of blowouts that did not ignite and were able to be contained. What is the likelihood that the explosion would have been prevented and the crew could have shut in the well if the emergency systems had worked?

I think it is premature to put BP in the clear Amerman. Most disasters involve a variety of factors and failure coming together to cause the disaster. The law generally holds all parties whose neglegent or unlawful conduct contributed to the cause of the disaster liable. There can be a superceding cause that extinguishes liability of other negligent actors, but that does not appear to be a clear issue in this case.

And I agree with you Amerman that the govt. failed miserably here. However Please allow me to make a friendly suggestion. Rather than view it as a partisan issue, consider it from the perspective of industry having too much influence over govt. regulations/regulators resulting in lax or ineffectual regs and regulatory agencies. That spans both parties and we deserve better. The workers sure as hell deserve better.

I too have been wondering about this. I had thought the gensets went wild because their intake inhibitors malfunctioned (which happens plenty often), but to have them DISABLED? This was a wakeup call to an industry grown complacent by success.

There is a point about MMS though. Why were they writing up rigs for lightbulbs being out in stairways, while IGNORING alarm systems DISABLED??? Industry complacency aligned with bureaucratic complacency is not the best combination IMHO.

What is the likelihood that the explosion would have been prevented...

Near the end of his testimony, Williams said that inhibiting the general alarm system disabled something inportant in addition to the (audible and visible) alarms. Did it prevent closing the air intake louvres for the engine room? I need to listen to that testimony again.

it is impossible to make anything fool proof because fools are so ingenious.

The idea of an alert vs. alarm is a good one. Like your smoke detector that chirps when the battery is low and screams when there's a fire.

Is it just lousy compression or some such thing, or is that oil bubbling up into the Tin Man's hat on Skandi ROV 2?

Here's a sample I uploaded to Youtube:



Several of us have been watching the sample collection this morning. My impression is that the buubles being collected appear dark, giving the impression it might have an oil component to it, and not just gas. However, the angle and lighting/shadow conditions make it difficult to say for sure, and in all honesty just because the bubbles look dark doesn't really tell us much. Another analysis will have to be performed by BP techs and then we'll have to wait and see if they release the results.

My guess is that the analysis will be done quickly, before they are forced to abadon the well due to the weather.

Thanks for the reply. Like a lot of people I've become fascinated by this disaster, but I'm starting from a background knowledge of zero. When I first started looking at these feeds practically everything looked alarming.

Reported on Democracy now - Nation article at http://www.thenation.com/article/37828/bp-hires-prison-labor-clean-spill...

BP’s Hiring of Prison Labor Cleanup Scrutinized

The Nation magazine has revealed new details about how BP is receiving tax credits by relying on cheap or free prison labor to help clean up the Gulf spill. BP’s reliance on prison labor has been criticized by many in the region since the disaster has left so many people out of work. But the hiring of prison labor has apparently been financially beneficial for BP. Each new prisoner hired by BP comes with a tax credit of $2,400. On top of that, BP may earn back up to 40 percent of the wages they pay to prisoners. Prison workers are required to work up to twelve hours a day, six days a week, and are liable to lose earned good time if they refuse the job. Inmates are also forbidden to talk to the public or media. It is unclear how many prisoners are working on the cleanup, in part because they now wear unidentifiable clothing. In the days after the spill, prison workers were seen wearing scarlet pants and white T-shirts with the words "Inmate Labor" printed in large red block letters.

Photo taken from Perdido Pass Bridge on 7/17/10 of Work Center.

CSJFTC = Bootcamp

CSJFTC, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (Mississippi)
No Mississippi Guard or Reserves legally here in uniform.

Did anyone see Larry King a few nights ago? His guest was Alex King, one of the young Florida boys who were sentenced ..
Alex is out and now 22. He is working for BP cleaning beaches

(Nothing against Alex, he seems like a decent young man)

Dept. of Prudence alert: stay away from posting material sourced from a Stephens Media property.

Steve Gibson has a plan to save the media world’s financial crisis — and it’s not the iPad.

Borrowing a page from patent trolls, the CEO of fledgling Las Vegas-based Righthaven has begun buying out the copyrights to newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post those articles without permission. And he says he’s making money.

Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/copyright-trolling-for-dollars/...

Just when the Blogging world was poised to save newspaper's depth in journalism. I agree they are often know-it-all amateurs, but how often do we quote TV? Harder to cut and paste. I say fine, if you want to blow the one real chance print has to save itself. It just makes us Bloggers more mainstream and leaves your clients/content creators out in the cold. Good luck.

That's evil Steve Gibson, not to be confused with good Steve Gibson.

It's easy to tell the difference: evil Steve Gibson you just want to @!##@!%#^% stomp his $#^%$@#@$# smarmy face.

Everyone needs to be careful if posting long extracts from any publication including news outlets. An short extract and link is one thing but long extracts are asking for trouble. For example AP's limit is 12 words ISTR. Check each source for details of their policy before posting is a good idea.


Not to mention it makes the blog a lot easier to read.

(The same goes for double checking images to make sure they are not huge before embedding them. ;-) Sorry about that!)

Heh, it did help me see where my 3"++ of rain came from this morning. Garden water level was the highest I've seen and that was an hour after it stopped.


EDIT: We had 2 of your weather systems turn away from the Gulf and cross over bringing rain but at least that kept them away when the work needed it most. Now there is a shut in situation it is almost like someone is taking straight aim at the middle to show what can happen.

I just want to thank Thad Allen for ordering that tighter cap when he did. Jeeminey.

It could come down to the same thing that happened over downloading music.

Nope, Murdoch will figure out that unless they put up with it, the print mediums now become irrelevant. I and everyone else will just go to a more research phase again until the new guys allow it. They just need to figure out how to charge for it. The advertising model works, but they would get an annual fee from me for access to more copyrighted works with linking and proper use software included. Maybe host my blog too. I would pay a fair price to keep honest if I got something out of it. It will move to something like that. Remember the DirecTV lawsuits? They lost many customers over that one. Suing is an unsustainable business model unless you are the court.

AP's 12 word limit is BS and falls far short of defining the limits of the fair use doctrine. But at some point that line is crossed. Clearly, posting the entire article will usually cross it.

An objective look at Matt Simmons. Thanks RR. -Pete


To me, it looks as if Matt has been right about the Saudi.

And peak oil, and unsustainable consumption. Oil is not 10$ but 77$.

As a newcomer here, can any of the old hands confirm that MS was right about Saudi? In other words, can his claims be corroborated by someone with inside knowledge, or were they just well-written, self-consistent, careful not to conflict with public knowledge. "Sounds right" or "agrees with what I believe/expect/hope for" can get lots of traction - look at Dan Brown - but the real test is not when someone "informs" me on a subject I know nothing about, but when he correctly calls a subject I know something about but the general public do not.

The current MS meme is so far off the wall it's not even in the building, based on stuff I do know rather a lot about. Even if every BP, NOA, MMS, FedGov, CG, TO, Helix, Skandi etc. spokesman was lying, and the 2000 brave folks who've been out there for three months have all been bought of or intimidated into playing along, I'd still be 100% sure MS is wrong be cause his "science" and "engineering are impossible. So it's natural to question how right he was in the past.

Some have speculated about Alzheimer's, and he did look a bit vague in the clip I saw, in which case it's a shame for him and his family, but surely the journos who put him front and centre have a responsibility not to exploit him for their scaremongering?

I, for one, have spent a lot of time (too much?) looking into the Saudi situation:


These, and many other TOD articles on Saudi oil are at:


Simmons made some mistakes, and Twilight in the Desert is overly pessimistic in my opinion. But his book does raise a lot of important questions about future prospects for Saudi oil. And Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco officials have made many more incorrect (i.e. wildly inflated or flat out wrong) assertions about their oil than Matt did in his book.

The current saga is sad.

When my daddy did some work for the Saudis back in the early 60's, he told me when they drilled a well that "ONLY" produced 5,000 bbls/day they shut it in. He said they drilled a LOT of those "little" wells. My guess is they have one or two old-timers who can remember where half those wells are, and just like the 300,000 stripper wells in this country (producing "only" about 1.5M bbls/day cumulatively) those "little" 5K wells ought to add up to some substantial volumes. Not to mention they have EOR (enhanced oil recovery) techniques not imagined in the 60's available to them today. Long story short, it is well within the realm of PLAUSIBLE that the Saudis have actually GROWN their reserves estimates, based on actual reality and physics. Regardless of what Simmons has to say.

gotta agree....

the saudis were always a little fishy on thier OOIP calculations

but horizontal wells giving a single well the ability to hit multiple pockets .....huff and puff scenarios with converted injector wells .......has brought plenty of fields all over the world back to profitability ......the oil price has helpd the economics as well......

no reaosn why this shouldnot have helped the saudis as well.....i would imagine their recoverable oil has increased significantly in the past 15 yrs or so .......

It is only the latest technology which has enabled some of their latest developments. One can see that as technology overcomes, but they were already counting that oil before. And it hasn't always lived up to expectations (more wells needed both in Haradh and Khurais), and it is all downhill from here for the remaining fields.

There is a big difference between fields and wells in Saudi vs. the US where you might have strippers accessing small pockets of oil. In Saudi Arabia, the geology has favored a smaller number of larger accumulations (or largest), and because of peripheral injection in fields like Ghawar, those long abandoned wells would now pump much, much less oil than before as they are now in the water, so to speak.

They did ramp up their ability to produce from their reserves in the last decade, culminating with Khurais, but a lot of that went into replacing the declines. This didn't really add to reserves, since they were counting all that before. There is still Manifa, which will eventually produce a lot of heavy sour, but other than that, options get rather slim. There are many smaller fields up north which, for whatever reason, are less attractive prospects than Manifa. Some older offshore fields have multiple reservoirs which add to the reserves total, but they are of rapidly descending quality as one goes down. Their new discoveries don't add up to much, and so they look in the Red Sea, at prospects for squeezing more from Ghawar, and even at extracting 10 API oil in the Gulf.

Beyond the geology and the current depleted state of existing fields, there is the practical difficulty of a huge oil company (Saudi Aramco) trying to manage a lot of smaller projects (i.e. the smaller fields up north and offshore). In the US, many small independents have the ability to go after what the biggies can't do with their overhead. Many if they were given free reign in KSA? Probably better, but perhaps not.

The bottom line is: even if you have half of your reserves left, it is the bottom half. It is not going to flow out the same way, even with new technology.

@ JTF:

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post on well barriers. And thanks for being so forgiving of my lack of experience/knowledge. The concepts at play are not difficult to grasp. But how they apply day-to-day in the field is something you can only get through experience, or perhaps trying to debate the basic concepts with a guy who has lots of experience (a rare privilege).

I got it on the simplicity of design concept and sticking with basics. That's an approach that works effectively in many different contexts.

What I am dancing around I guess is the whole idea of displacing the riser knowing you have a high risk of cement failure and not having a back-up in place, such that if the cement fails while displacing, the well is going to start producing more or less.

I have worked on lots of jobs where there is high risk, including fishing boats, oil rigs, heavy construction, explosives work. Usually when you have a risk like that, you either have a test before hand that will give you a near 100% verification that the cement is good, or you have a back-up in place in case it does fail. Some degree of human error should be built into the procedure so that you either have 100% confirmation that it's good in the pre-test, or 100% safe back up in case it is not good and you can't get 100% assurance on a pre-test. The packer you describe would seem to fill that gap.

Rockman has taught us worms over and over that monitoring the returns fulfills that role, explaining in detail how and why it is done. But I kept seeing the concept of barriers come up and wanted to explore it. It has gotten some discussion previously, but I did not know enough about casing to ask questions about it at the time. So thanks for sharing, JTF. I have no doubt that many others reading appreciate it as much as I do.

I am hoping at some point (except i leave for fishing trip tomorrow) we can get into the cementing and your observations/evaluation of that process. I worked on a job pouring the spillways of a dam one summer when I was 16. It was way up in the mountains with no power or phones (pre-cell-phones). We spent weeks getting all the steel laid out and the forms set up. We had to use readi-mix trucks that mix on the spot due to the remoteness of the job site.

When we did the first pour, they of course took samples. By the time
they got results from the field test, we had poured a good amount of concrete. There was something wrong with the mix. After some debate, we went into chaos mode as we rushed to use pumps and hoses and creek water to wash out as much of the concrete we had just poured as possible. What a disaster. We had to re-do nearly everything from the ground up.

Just wanted to echo syncro in thanking JTF on ideas around back to basics on well design, although I've never been involved in well design, some very good thoughts there that can be used more broadly for us engineers as we tend to overcomplicate things.

Just as an aside, the guy in the Shell presentation states at one point that he would support a ban on the type of casing design BP used in Macondo well because it appears to present a very high risk due to the lack of independent barriers.

Maybe that is just PR to some extent. I can see the need to distinguish thier practices from those that caused this disaster so the public can have some assurance that things were done wrong and can be done differently to effectively prevent the risk of another disaster using known technology and best practices.

I did not write down the exact quote, but the Shell guys made an offhand remark about there being 3 weak points in BP's 16" casing. Presumably they were dancing around the rupture discs in the casing. The reason BP uses rupture discs is because of a casing failure due to thermal expansion in a previous well. The casing IMPLODES, not explodes. BP is more responsible to address another potential failure case rather than ignoring it.

Shell also has a much bigger diameter production casing at the total depth. That reduces the flow resistance of the production casing so if they did have a blowout, the flow would be even greater than BP experienced because it has a much larger Minimum Net Flow Area (see ASME Code for pressure relief devices).

Just like a bunch of Magpies. Let them see a shiny Gee-Gaw and they have to have it.

Why on earth you would put a production-oriented technology like a burst disk in an exploration well is beyond me.

Further, (and this may attract flames), I had the greatest sympathy for John Guide yesterday. Every time he cringed I cringed. Every time he was attacked by the Halliburton lawyer, I wanted to leap up and smack the lawyer.

I've spent countless hours in the offices of rig superintendents onshore trying to work out the best compromise that gets the job done effectively. Maybe we never got as explicit about safety in those days, but it was unspoken but on the VERY TOP of everyone's minds. The oilfield is a very small place. Those in positions of authority don't kill people either by acts of commission or acts of omission.

That is the ultimate in disgrace.


Re: John Guide

I listened to more of that hearing than I watched, because the trauma of listening seemed less. Guide got beat up pretty badly. Nevertheless, I thought a lot of useful information came out of the ordeal.

Count, I agree.

It seemed that he had been coached to defend the position that money was no object in the decisions.

That is absolute BS, and its long past time that this was surfaced, recognized and respected.

Money is always an issue, but not the overriding one.

If you are trying to make a Toyota, you don't buy parts from Rolls-Royce. If you want to pay seven bucks per gallon, we can surface other things than money as the driving condition.

If not, money is part of the equation, just like its always been.

We strive to keep people safe. We strive to produce oil and gas. We strive to keep the environment clean. We strive to balance all those requirements at a price that people can pay.

That leaves room to get crucified. For those that want to play holier than thou on this issue, walk a mile in the shoes of the folks that put gas in your car. They spend 14 or 21 days offshore in conditions most people would not subject your dogs to.

Or don't.


Most dangerous job in America. FISHERMAN. Second. MINER. From a risk management standpoint, should not the highest body count get the most attention. I guess BP was just saving lives when it ended fishing and harvesting of seafood in this area for a while. Thanks for the help BP. You might have saved a fisherman's life. Of course, Capt. Kruse counts against you.

TFHG, there are a few assumptions you make that need to be clarified, some of them due to me not disclosing earlier.

First, I'm not an American. Second, the vast majority of my experience is in the North Sea, but I have worked around roughly 2/3ds of the world, but none of it in the GOM. I have lived and worked for 4 years in Florida and loved every minute of it and would go back in a heartbeat. My daughter lives just outside of Atlanta, is working on being an American, is married to an American, and my granddaughter is American. Just to set the stage you understand. Third, I'm not really going for a global comparative risk assessment between industries although your points are valid as far as the US goes.

Offshore drilling, exploration and production is dangerous. Very. The only reason the statistics are not worse is the quality of the people doing the work.

Let me clarify that from a personal point of view, then we can get to it.

I missed the Piper Alpha disaster by three weeks. 167 people died. We had no clue that the permit to work system was so screwed up, which is one of the reasons I go back and forth with Syncro about who knew what when. I missed this by 3 weeks my friend. The place was my second home, along with Occidental's Claymore platform. I did three weeks on Piper just before I went on vacation. Its likely that going on vacation saved my sorry butt.

167 people died there. I knew and worked with at least 60 of them. 10 were good friends. I went to the memorial services to mourn my friends and colleagues. Please bear in mind that I have been real close and personal to really bad news offshore and am devastated to provide witness to the DWH disaster. I also have some level of objectivity having been through this once, and having made a living out of fixing significant problems offshore for many years. I still consult on offshore issues although that is not my primary income.

Next to that, I lived at Shell platforms and BP exploration rigs and production platforms. Shell was terrifying in how they ran things but good money, BP was very comfortable but didn't pay as well. BP felt like home just like Occidental. Shell felt like hard work.

If you want to discuss safety offshore, I am likely your guy to take to the dance. I got on a Bristows Puma one day after a 100 year storm on the DF97 between Christmas and New Years, and we got 10' off the deck before the door right beside me blew off. Landed safely, but it took three days to get the helicopter fixed to get us home. We had to zip up our survival suits to the neck to avoid being blown off the helipad (very unusual), and they rigged guy ropes to the helicopter. This is after two days of being slammed by 100' waves for 36 hours. In those days we didn't get to evacuate as they do now, we rode it out. The water was about 40*F and the time you could self rescue into a boat was about 2 minutes. Then you die. Even if you are 10' away.

I was flying through Sumburgh Shetlands airport one day after the BA Chinook went down killing 42 of the 44 on board. We all knew about the gearbox problems and the fact you couldn't get off in a ditching due to the small windows. I actively campaigned to get Chinooks banned from the UK sector of the North Sea. Unfortunately we couldn't kill Chinook operations in Norway, but we damn sure tried.

I was on the drill floor on the Shell Cormorant platform when a British Airway Helicopters S-61 started back up after an emergency shutdown. They were right on the edge of the acceptable wind envelope. I was looking up at the time, as I love the smell of aviation kerosene in the morning, and no more than 120' away. Unfortunately, they were slightly on the wrong side of the edge. They started to rotate the blades, got about three blades past the cockpit, then the wind gusted and the next blade folded over and came back through the throttle console in the roof. We ducked. We lived.

Fortunately, no one was killed or even seriously hurt. But we were picking up pieces of rotor blade from the Treasure Hunter accommodation semi-submersible attached to the Cormorant for three months afterwords.

If you really want to go to bat over safety and the oilfield and the people, I may well be your guy. I really like the stuff you're doing to protect the people on the Gulf Coast, but that is not the only constituency and I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge that fact.

You have my best and most sincere regards.


Fascinating story. My father was head of the US Army Materials and Mechanics Research Agency Metals Division during the Vietnam war. It was his and his team's job to diagnose material failures in equipment used by the Army - and helicopters were very high on the list. After some of his experiences with working on the issues with these machines (including the Chinook and its gearbox) he refused to fly in helicopters for the rest of his life.

Thanks David. You may get a couple more of my brainwaves over the weekend. Seems the more I see on the CG testimony the more I think of, rightly or wrongly.

If I can encourage people to keep thinking about possibilities, I'm more than happy!

The Oil Drum is a wonderful place.


Syncro - Sorry to beat you over the head about simplicity, but it seems to have been largely forgotten.

I pretty much agree with you about barriers btw, and the reasoning behind them.

A couple of things. I am still confused about the negative (inflow) test.

To my simple mind, pump the drillpipe full of seawater, close the pipe rams and choke and kill lines, and watch your pressure gauge for five minutes for variation. You should be showing the difference in hydrostatic between the mud weight vs seawater x 8000' of drillpipe.

Any variation is bad.

If the pressure is stable, knock of the top drive while leaving a ball valve on the DP and physically watch the level in the DP for another 30 mins. Any variation in level, particularly if it starts flowing at you, is bad.

If no flow, hook up to the choke and kill manifold and reverse the drill pipe back to the pits while monitoring volumes.

If this is done carefully, you have a pretty darn good test that the riser will withstand displacement to seawater.

This leaves two questions. Should you have set a bridgeplug before displacing, and second, do you really need the lockdown assembly in place before displacing?

I vote yes for a bridgeplug http://www.halliburton.com/ps/default.aspx?pageid=343&navid=1384&prodid=..., and am on the fence over the lock ring. Subsea wells have been drilled without lock rings for decades. Largely because it can be a big pain to abandon a well with lock rings installed which also comes down to cost at the end of the day. It is quite difficult to generate a big enough pressure buildup in the annulus on a static well to lift that hanger/seal assembly out of the wellhead.

But it wouldn't break my heart to see lock rings made compulsory.


Syncro - Sorry to beat you over the head about simplicity, but it seems to have been largely forgotten.

Thanks for beating me over the head! I enjoy learning.

Syncro - I only cruised over the Shell video the first time. Had a hour spare this afternoon and damn near lost my cookies.

This time I was ready to throw rocks at the screen (didn't because its big, mine and expensive) and hurl abuse and (empty) beer cans at the presenter. Slick, condescending, elegant and wrong.

The whole concept of a well based on the inverse of a telescoping car antenna is wrong. Ask anyone in this business if they have seen a liner lap leak, and then multiply the individual risk per liner lap by the square of the liner laps involved.

Terrifying. And they think this is a good design. I have been quietly ridiculing those who thought the apocalypse was nigh. If there are a whole bunch of these wells out there I suddenly have more sympathy with their views.

I'm left with wondering how Macando didn't happen before today. Given human failings on top of notoriously temperamental technologies. Seriously. And I'm proud to have influenced directions in a small fraction of this business, or at least I used to be.


I have another one for you too. Happy Friday!!

This has been a burr under my saddle since yesterday afternoon. It may be part of the problem, or it may just be a young guy out of his depth trying to get by.

I watched the trainee BP drilling engineer's testimony. I guess he was the last witness perhaps.

The level of segmentation and specialization he described was almost unbelievable. If true, big if perhaps, few people on the rig had the full picture.

When I was designing tools and working solutions, we made sure that we could do a whole drill-crew operations and safety brief and be sure that the greenest roughneck would understand what was going on, what was expected of them and what the risks were to watch out for.

I would like to see MUCH more examination of this aspect. It may be a big deal. Hoarding specialized knowledge is always a short cut to getting people hurt.


If true, big if perhaps, few people on the rig had the full picture.

I'm glad you said that. I see it as a very big potential issue and one which possibly helps explain some of the conduct that seems totally inappropriate in hind-sight. Only a few people had the big pic it seems, a view of the accumulated risk up to the point of the pressure test and then the BO.

And your comments on the Shell presentation and Guide's testimony are very interesting. I hope to check out Guide this evening.

JTF, I have watched these hearings from the beginning. The degree of compartmentalization has been striking, testified to by witness after witness.

Interesting story. Back when I worked in coal mines, I held the "Shot Firer's" license - coal's equivalent to powder monkey. When we did surface shots, I worried about CB radios which were common at the time. I felt perfectly safe handling the explosives myself, but never quite trusted other people not to do something stupid.

Re Iceland.

I wouldn't call it that deep. The Tjörnes fracture zone is always pretty active and the quakes are canted to one side due to the localized stresses from the plate movement. Off to the sides of Iceland the crust drops down to about 18 to 20 km deep, but in the central core can be up to 40 km (vicinity of Grimsvotn).

The recent Eyj eruption had quake stack as low as 30 km... down below where the bottom of the crust is believed be at.

Here are the quakes near Grímsey (Northern area where the stars are in the parent post's chart):

Something moving up?


Not really, there are quakes stacks all over Iceland. Could it be a sign of magma moving up? Yeah, it could... but Eyj's stack was like a focused spike dropping down to ≈28 to 30 km down. These are just randomly clustered a few km down. Now if they trended upwards... might be moving magma. I think it's just tectonic.

Thanks for the graph - since Eyja went I have been looking at how the pattern of quakes develop, (though only keeping track of the +3's. ) And was struck by there being 4 of them there in the last couple of days, (Though 2 came after the post) with a flurry of associated smaller ones.)

For those that missed the live Thad Allen briefing this morning, the full tape is now available at CSPAN:


This may sound insensitive but I have a question/comment. They say the mission is shut down due to the storm for fear of the safety of the 2,000 or so workers and their rigs. However, if this thing opens back up again and can't be stopped, what would the toll be? In a storm of this small magnitude, I believe time is more important and in my humble opinion as a non-oil expert, I want the well killed while it still can be killed (my faith is already tested as to if it even can be killed) instead of risking a greater build of gas/oil to risk a blow out.

On what biases is your " faith tested " as to if the well can be killed? The storm will not affect anything 5ooo ft below the surface. The cap has held and the pressure has continued to rise so why risk all those lives when there is no obvious reason to do so?

From what I have read here for many months, we have to kill while the pressures are low and this leak doesn't continue to increase. Some think we have already waited too long by our government delays. With each passing day the risks increase of further compromise. I gladly receive your skepticism and somewhat snarky reply, only because I desperately hope you are correct. I can take the insult.

No sanrkyness intended sorry if it came across that way. I'm not anything remotely close to an expert myself and have been lurking here for a few months now. I just was wondering if you might have come across something that suggested to you the well might not be able to be killed beyond all the matt simmons, chris landeu hype. This is as I've come to understand via the posts here at TOD a very dynamic and delicate situation, and before a certain action can be taken there has to be consideration given to the potential consequences of that action. The BP and govt officials are obviously satisfied that the pressure at the cap is such that it shows the well has not lost integrity, and the sea floor around the well has shown no sings of being compromised. I'm sure they weighed these things against the risk to the crews of the ships on scene and decided it was safer to call them back. Only time will tell if the right choice was made.

"However, if this thing opens back up again and can't be stopped, what would the toll be?"

12, if you count the captain who killed himself.

Bonnie is really not much of a storm. I think it is a good excuse to clear the area for when they attempt the kill. Nobody needs to go back there that does not need to be there for the purpose of plugging that well.

If the pressure on the well is low due to a leak, killing it is going to be no easy thing. And there are risks of making things worse. That area needs to be clear, with emergency resources at a safe distance.

Looks like Skandi ROV2 umbilical is snagged. Might be a slight delay getting that sample topside.

It's HOS ROV2 to the rescue.

I think Skandi 2 is on it's way now. Hopefully we'll hear what all the sampling was about.

Skandi ROV2 got freed. It's on its way home now.

Edit: Sorry Thrasher. See you already gave the update. I agree, hopefully we'll hear something soon.

Asking for a little speculation here. What would the significance of the sample be if there is oil in it? Does anyone think it would change the thinking about leaving the well shut in?

It's all cool Trip.

BTW It's things like this that I wish the media would ask about. Why are they sampling again and what is the nature of the sample are good questions, to me.

EDIT: As for speculation that is all I can do is speculate because I am not sure what I was looking at. It *appeared* to be a dark substance coming from the bottom of the wellhead on the outside of the casing pipe. I suppose that would indicate hydrocarbons breaching the cement on the outside of the casing. I can't imagine that would be good but I'm no expert.

And I don't know for sure if that was what I saw.

Apologies if this has already been discussed.

Oil companies to form a Joint Oil Spill Task Force: http://is.gd/dC4zv

OT but impactful to TOD's geezer brigade: R.I.P., Daniel Schorr.

Methane Death Star Alert! Guy who wrote the theory says never mind:

Suddenly everyone's talking about the methane-driven oceanic eruption and mass extinction theories of Dr. Gregory Ryskin, claiming that elevated methane levels from the oil spill could cause the end of mankind.

Absent from this discussion has been Ryskin, who Northwestern University says is out of his office until September. The professor gave us the real story by email:

"I also want to emphasize that in my theory, methane hydrates (clathrates) do not play any role."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/gregory-ryskin-methane-2010-7#ixzz0uX2NFPf6

BP bought him out! Orders came down from the Rothschilds!

I love that pic. It'd be my new wallpaper if it were bigger.

I question the timing...why did it take so long for Ryskin to respond???? Proof they are hiding something!

-Disappointed Disaster Guy

I thought it was supposed to be "history repeats itself the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce". He seems to have it bassackward


Damn~I was just starting to make a profit on my methane tsunami shelters!

He never said anything about the Gulf spill, did he? As I understand it, some bozo at Helium co-opted his theory and applied it to the Gulf. Obviously the theory would have nothing to do with a an oil well blowout. It is about accumulations of dissolved methane in stagnant pockets over geologic time.

Not that I heard, I think that one of the Bozos is Terrence Aym and all the doomers hang on his every word....psst, so let's not tell anyone until I make a nice profit LOL.

In all seriousness it is sad to watch gullible and scared ppl donating everything they have to the "truth reporters "...need a mental health dr ASAP around here.

Scientists: Oil Plumes Definitely From BP’s Well

Researchers In Florida Say They Have The First Scientific Proof That Two Plumes Of Oil Beneath The Surface Of The Gulf Of Mexico Came From Bp's Broken Well.


USF huh. They are Division I now. That and I have been to campus a couple of times. Pretty youngins, pretty campus. Busch Gardens is within walking distance. This has enough legitimacy to be considered possible, if not likely.

Plus, according to the St. Pete Times article, they apparently have found "Florida's spawning grounds."

I figured you at least knew of these guys/gals and they were widely held as good scientists and educators. Maybe I have to send those Bulls some praise. This keeps getting harder. Roll Tide.

Edit: Doc, I am working on my post about the trash now. It came down to the use of plastic bags over paper. In order to keep the feds happy they shovel it in loaders now.

Flordy spawns in the Guff? We do? How'd I miss the memo?

I thought he meant the humans at PC beach in the dark.


Area in a body of water containing slightly higher incidence of tiny oil droplets than other areas of water nearby.

I think this video shows a plume - or am I wrong ?


Lord, that's sickening to see, isn't it. Every time.

This is surface oil in a classical major oil slick. It does extend underwater a ways (by several feet it appears).

Contrast this with the two "plumes" discussed below (downthreead) that are sub-surface oil suspended in the water column a quarter-mile and three-quarters of a mile (respectively) beneath the surface.

A portion of the oil floats to the surface (like the YouTube video shows) and a portion remains suspended in the water column for a while. Scientists aren't sure if the suspended sub-surface plumes are currently rising or sinking.

The story cited at http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/scientists-oil-plumes-definit... has a bit of a strange timing to it.

AP moved the story today and the The Tampa Tribune ran a longer story today too at http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jul/23/231735/usf-scientists-link-under...

However, both appear to be covering the same June 8th NOAA press conference at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100608_weatherbird.html

The PDF of the report can be found at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/PDFs/noaa_weatherbird_analysis_...

University of South Florida chemical oceanographer David Hollander may have just announce the linkage today or it's a slow news day and USF hasn't updated its new release page. Anybody have better input on this?

Good summary at the Tampa Trib cite above.

Two massive plumes, or subsurface clouds, have been linked to BP oil through a kind of molecular fingerprinting comparison.

One plume, suspended a quarter-mile beneath the surface, is 22 miles long, 6 miles wide and 100 feet thick, Hollander said. It was observed 45 miles northeast of the Deepwater Horizon well.

The other is deeper, hovering two-thirds to three-quarters of a mile beneath the surface. It is 20 miles long and is roughly 650 feet thick, Hollander said. This cloud was 24 miles east of the Deepwater Horizon site.

Of the two plumes – which are invisible to the naked eye -- the one that is deeper has oil at a concentration of 750 parts per billion. At a concentration of 1,000 parts per billion, oil is thought to be toxic to marine life.

The plume that is closer to the surface has a concentration ranging from 300 to 550 parts per billion, Hollander said.

The boldface is my addition. Note that concentrations are cited in parts per "billion" with a "B".

It does put, again, the meaning of "plume" in a numeric value.

As a complete layman, a "plume", to me, is large and visible: "See that "plume" of smoke out there where they're burning that oil?" for example. That's a plume. When the ROV's were watching the oil spew out of the top of the BOP, it even said "Plume Monitoring" on the display. - I realize that the term as used by the NOAA scientists is correct, but I instictively picture something that is very easy to see. Unlike an invisible trace that can only be detected by sensitive scientific instruments.

Makes me wonder if Simmons is using the same definition and substituted "lake of oil" for the word "plume". He did say he got his info from NOAA, right?

It is part of the problem of using imprecise wording without quantification; it paints a word picture that easily leads to misunderstanding. Any reader of “plume” (without quantification) can read into the word any vision (or scope/scale) they are prone to believe. That’s why measurements and numbers have importance.

If this is the source of for the Matt Simmons’s claims, it is a major (!!!) misinterpretation of the source data. However, note that this data come from a cruise of the WEATHERBIRD II and not the THOMAS JEFFERSON as frequently linked as Mr. Simmons’s source (even by him). I don't know if that means anything because of how vague the MS story is.

Also, he has painted his word pictures as lakes of "black oil" further leading a viewer/listener to image something very dire.

I think this goes beyond innocent misinterpretation. I think it's far closer to prevarication. Caveat: Unless he's suffering from what we used to call Organic Brain Syndrome, and I'm somewhat dubious about that.

Yes, and that's one of the problems scientists have is communication - collisions between meanings of words in multiple contexts. In the context of the NOAA investigations a plume is a region that is changed by something emanating from a source.

I did some work once with an environmental engineer whose job was to track the temperature of water discharged from a cooling tower. The only difference between the surrounding water was that it was a couple of degrees warmer. That was a plume.

So let's assume a volume 22 miles by 6 miles by by 100 ft and multiply by 750 parts per billion.

That's 1.88 millions of a cubic mile of oil( considerably smaller than Scrooge McDuck's vault)

Converted to cubic feet, that's a little over a quarter million cuft and then to barrels at a little over 50,000.

in other words that's roughly 2 days or so discharge.

Let's assume both plums of equal size and say 4 days discharge.

The dispersant must have created several other neutral bouyancy oil plumes

Unless of course it's all being dumped into Matt's lake.

Just a thought but, If Matt could point to where that lake is, he'd have no need to be concerned about his short position.

This calculation is just on the back of a bar napkin, but:

Although one dimension was not cited for the lower plume, if you assume the missing dimension is also 6 miles and further assuming that both plumes are rectangular cuboids, at the concentration of each plume (750 ppb and 550 ppb respectively), this is 327,000 barrels of oil in 19-trillion gallons of water (if I did my sums right ;-)

No, it's not good even at these concentrations, but it is not a lake of oil either.

Expressed another way, both plumes together occupy 0.0029% of the 660-quadrillion gallon volume of the GOM not the 40% vaguely referred/inferred by Mr. Simmons.

If you missed it, see the MS story cited by jasonN upthread:


Seems to be a pattern here.

Alabama's latest move in this incident. Heir apparent Atty General candidate calls on all lawsuits to be expanded to include Transocean, Anadarko, and Halliburton. Thanks for the mental health help you bloodsuckers. Sorry decent attorneys.

If you need help,I'm always there.Of course,since being a Marine,I don't know how much help I'd be namby pamby.

2 hours on the range would fix me. You Jarheads are all alike. No wonder that it is up to the Navy to bring the shrinks. Are you active? Either way, thanks.

I always wondered why they out numbered us two to one.
63 yrs old. Do the timeline.

Thanks again. I can only imagine. You were in the crap.

And watching them turn ya'll loose didn't help matters for a lot of my Brothers.
Semper Fi

Just like now. The Army has its role, but the Corp sure does too. It does seem the Corp and Airborne get most of the first calls.

I forgot to throw jack wagon in there until I saw the commercial again just now.
Why wouldn't it let me edit my original poet?

Why wouldn't it let me edit my original poet?

As soon as someone replies, you can't edit anymore. (Dunno why.)

Not correct and not fair TFHG. Ron Sparks is our Agricultural Commissioner and he has been an excellent person in that job. He is not heir apparent to Atty Gen, but rather running for Governor. You will note he was accompanied by his opponent the Republican running for Governor and Troy King who is the current Attorney General. I don't think much at all of Troy King, however at the very beginning he was warning people to be wary of signing away all rights for $5,000 cash a bloodsucking move by BP if ever there was one. So I give him credit for that. In fact I give him credit for complaining that the BP fund is an illegal effort to limit BP's liablility as documented here http://blog.al.com/live/2010/07/gulf_oil_spill_compensation_fu.html
Given that he is showing more guts and decency than I usually expect from him I would normally say Troy King is doing political grandstanding. However he was defeated in the Republican primary so I guess he just feels free to do something decent.

Alabama gets next to nothing on Oil Royalties - that is supposed to change but not until 2017. Bob Riley, our current Republican governor spoke to that recently
The governor said he contacted the state's U.S. representatives and senators proposing an amendment to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act that would immediately increase the royalties Alabama and other Gulf states receive from offshore leases and production. The 2006 law gives the Gulf states a share in the royalties already, but its limited scope means that Alabama received only $814,000 in royalties for fiscal 2009. The law requires states to use the funds for coastal conservation, restoration and hurricane protection. The law would expand the Gulf states' royalty entitlements beginning in 2017. Riley wants the 2017 payments to become payable immediately.


$814,000 in 2009. And now we have lost revenues to the state with no past revenues to speak of to counter it. So it looks to me like Dems and Reps in Alabama can agree on one thing. Alabama is in dire straits financially already and they don't deserve to be hit with this which they didn't cause. So I say go for it Alabama - get what you can from all the responsible parties! Nice to see such unity in a state so divided politically.

Ok, sorry got mixed up. Sparks is the Dem. governor candidate in the heart of Red country. I think Bentley will win, but we shall see. I was thinking of Luther Strange. Strange, Sparks, My bad.
Sparks should have still supported immediate mental health relief for the area. Rather he worries about lawsuits. Those guys are getting sued, you can bet on that. Sorry about the confusion, but these names are fairly new to me. I really never studied the Agriculture department since our family quit farming int he 70's, and few vote Dem around here for primaries else your vote probably means little in the final outcome.

I don't see anywhere in the story where Sparks did or did not support immediate mental health relief in the area. Do you have a link for that?

Exactly, help now, suit later. That is all I was saying. Peace and Good luck.

As agricultural commissioner I don't think Sparks can provide that help. That would be up to Governor Riley. However given the sad state of finances in the state, that will keep getting worse as this disaster continues, I doubt there is much extra money around to do mental health services. As with so many other states, Alabama faced a large budget shortfall this year. Based on estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Office, the state's general fund faced a shortfall of about $600 million this fiscal year. http://www.southernstudies.org/2010/05/state-policy-watch-alabama-and-ke...

Troy King is the current Attorney General and it is his job to handle the legal affairs of the state not mental health services. He is doing what he is tasked to do. If he and his successor succeed then hopefully some of the award from BP and other guilty parties will be earmarked to mental health. However given how long BP and their high priced lawyers will drag this on it may be too late. So it looks like charitable organizations and the community will have to carry the burden. I don't like that but I am glad Troy is aggressively doing the governmental task he was elected to do.

Sparks is addressing funding for health
“I am the only candidate with a plan to deal with the impending crisis in Medicaid. My proposal to regulate and tax casino gambling in Alabama will protect those in our state who can least afford medical care. As I’ve shown before, based on data from the state of Mississippi, developing casino gambling as a revenue source will stabilize Medicaid in Alabama.” http://annistonstar.com/bookmark/8852117-Sparks-Says-Gambling-Taxes-Will...

LSU prof testifying now believes that the 4 negative tests failed to indicate well integrity and that personell failed to notice a kick occurring.

Nothing that hasn't been said here, but this is the first 3rd party consultant brought in to give testimony of analyzed data.

Just thought I'd pass it along.

I'm having difficulty concentrating on Dr. Smith's testimony because I can't get rid of a mental image of Rockman bouncing around the walls and ceiling of his office. I bet he'll be all over this.

I certainly hope he'll be able to review the testimony and give us his interpretation.

Greg - On a rig right now. Will try to catch up ASAP. But sounds like the Doc is hitting the high points we've covered already.

And Dr. Smith's final comments concerned the requirement to watch returns, no matter what the operation. He sounded just like Rockman.

Bless him. Thou shalt have no other ... but to watch returns and check for losses.

The first commandment.

I have to watch this.


Has this been posted yet:


Movie about the dangers of fracking and drilling gas wells due to a fed loophole Cheney arranged.

There was a whole post and discussion on it. I learned about fracking then.

Movie about the dangers of fracking and drilling gas wells due to a fed loophole Cheney arranged.
blah, blah, blah
More dumbed down BS.

The Dems have been in control of Congress and US drilling policy/regs for 3.5 years now....
When are you going to start holding Dems responsible for their actions/inactions? if not 3.5 years, then 10 years, 20 years, when?

Just to be clear...you are complaining that the Democrats in the House have not changed the bad regulations put in place by Cheney & BushCo fast enough?

That is rich enough to be fattening.

so the alarms on DWH were turned off....figures its not all that uncommon ...although i would imagine its gone out of fashion in a hurry since DWH sank .........

now if someone can raise their hand and volunteer to give out information with regards to whose job was it to reset counters when displacing ......we can finally understand why all the warnings in the last 90 mins went unheeded

not really been following MC-252 past few week too much ...got me own runaway well off newfoundland, canada that needs to be roped in ....but seems like precarious lil situation here ....WOW (waitin on weather) might last another week or so .....work wont get started for 10 days i would venture a WAG .....dunno if they were able to land in csg on the bottom section of the RW to secure it good ....its near enough the WW to be a concern if csg wasn't landed and the WW is shut in .....thinking out loud here since i hvn't been able to follow don't even know where the RW in reference to the WW by now but imagine it would be with 5-10 ft of the WW radially and be a little something to keep an eye on ......

no legal beagle here .....someone up the fod chain in the oil patch or a lawyer care ot venture a guess if this puts ny liability on TO ??

rigs are noisy .....i can't ever sleep on one even with the alarms turned off without me ear plugs.....

aliilaali, it's always fun to hear where you're checking in from.

On the disabling of safety devices, yes TO has some exposure there, and the individuals who bypassed them as well. This gets into criminal territory and punitive damage territory. The facts are going to matter. But as a general matter, disabling a legally required safety device is a serious matter when people get killed, even if the safety divice would not have saved them.

One of the newspaper articles cites an environmental attorney with lots of experience with regulatory crimes and her assessment made it sound potentially dire for TO on these issues.

One thing i've noticed with safety devices is the way they are designed and built often makes them a PIA more than anything. It's like the stuff is designed just to meet the regs, not to function effectively, and often when they are used, they are often used in this manner as well. But somethings like preventing ignition sources and detecting gas and such seem well worth the invesrtment in technology to make reliable, functioning systems. If the DWH guys had another 5 minutes before the explosion, maybe it they could have gotten the well shut in?


i've got enough brownie points under my belt for senior hounds like rockman's of my company to trust my engg judgment yet junior enough that they can very well shoot my ass off to all corners of the world if they feel like they need me there.....its that tricky phase for me when you know about your job but are not senior enough to enjoy the privileges...so i get the steel toes while my boss gets the accolades when a tricky job gets completed :)

the problem with alarms is ....you set an alarm to ring at a certain threshold ....but drilling causes all sorts of instantaneous spikes in data ....which really is noise for all practical purposes but the alarms go ring ring .....every alarm causes work continuity to break ....the second crew sleeping gets woken up ....

plenty of things wrong with MC-252 but turning of alarms is not the biggest offense here IMHO .....i've seen alarms turned off....monitor screens turned off....and other things i won't mention....but we didn't have these fancy ring rings and 50 graphs on monitor screens a while back and they still drilled safe in the GOM every day ....

alarms are just like the BOP ....you don't rely on either ..i understand the court's might take a different view....

Bonnie is being ripped apart by shear and dry air now and is barely even a tropical depression. Unless something unexpected happens it should be no more than a breezy day at the beach and a few rain showers when it passes by.

Hopefully they will be able to get back to work soon and administer some euthanasia to the monster.

Bonnie will end up being a few thunderstorms flowing NW across the GOM according to what I see on http://www.hurricanetrack.com

Mark is a good source of information.

So why the panic?

Is this the time that the Methane bulge is gonna blow?

Do any of you ROV watchers know what piece of equipment the BOA Deep ROV's are disassembling and removing?

Edit: Ok, it looks like they may be reconfiguring for the static kill. We shall see.

widelyred, recent lurker, NAOM, many thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

WR said
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……

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.


RL said :
They are what I expected -- permeability affects the flow rates while the well is open and the rate of pressure build up when it's closed, but not the end pressure.

I think RL's answer is spot on. Once the well is shut-in and pressured up, there is no substantial movement of fluids taking place in the well, and a gummed up well with restrictions to flow would build up pressure in the same way. The control on the build-up rate is the fluids thousands of feet away in the reservoir finding their way slowly through all the small gaps between the sandstone grains towards the lower pressured wellbore area.

WRs last point is valid though. As I hope I've made clear, these models are highly non-unique and are based on the assumptions I stated. There may be a middle ground where a small leak plus a less depleted reservoir could combine to give a pressure response like the one we are seeing.

Even in the extreme case of a huge reservoir with virtually no depletion, and a huge leak in the well, its not out of the question that a similar response might arise. The abrupt change from a high (flowing) rate to a lower (leaking) rate on shut-in would create a build up in pressure at the well to start with, though over time this would plateau and roll over to become a declining pressure again due to the flow. The leak rate would have to be many thousands of barrels per day to account for the low well head pressure.

I'll have to test it and see if the parameters make sense, but my gut feel is its not likely.

Thanks for the comeback Big. I've run simulations in the past including using STARS and of course this well dynamic wasn't anything like what we ran. In general we did STARS simulations to predict IN ADVANCE how the reservoir should behave. In this case, we are surmising, by the behavior, what the reservoir looks like. To be perfectly honest, I was there only for my computer and networking expertise, they certainly didn't need me for the petro-engineering, although they were friendly enough about me playing with the models (mostly because I'd improved performance by an order of magnitude, which made me a LOT of friends back then).

New NOAA report on subsurface plumes and oxygen depletion. Summary:


Report (pdf):


[edited to add] This report is based on information gathered by remote sensors rather than lab tests. Consequently the data set is large but the conclusions are vague. They say the fluorescence readings are exaggerated by the presence of background organic compounds in the water, so they can't state actual levels for the oil. They don't trust the dissolved oxygen readings because the oil in the water might be confusing the oxygen sensors. They have a plan to calibrate with lab tests in the future.

But based on the sensor data, there is still no hypoxia, just some depletion, so that is good news. Also sweeps at greater distances seem to indicate that the plumes with >1 ppm oil haven't spread very far. But they did find higher concentrations (up to 5-7 ppm) than previously reported, subject to adjustment for background organic matter.

200ppm has been found on the beach in Pensacola where children are wading...

By a guy who can't handle a sep funnel without it blowing up.

An ROV appears to have found an oil leak on the BOP.


I was watching that, but I think it must be silt being kicked up because it is not rising like oil does. They are removing some equipment, I am guessing to reconfigure to euthanize.

James I am watching it, and it does not seem to be dissipating. I keep getting hints it is puffing out of the BOP structure. If it is anything there should be more visitors coming.

It might be hydrates blown off the BOP or they are messing with the kill and choke lines so maybe something from it?

It looks like they are removing the blue BOP control pod now and taking it topside. Not sure why.

Isn't that the one that has been off and on and off and on?


Yes it is.


Will one of you experienced drillers explain why the Admiral keeps saying it will take 5 to 7 days for the cement to "dry" after running casing in the RW? That sounds like a lot of WOC time to me.

Cement doesn't "dry" it cures, and it is highly unlikely it would take 1/10th that time frame. But I always take whatever Admiral (Benson) Allen says with a grain of salt. I was in such a hurry to link an Admiral (Allen) Benson video yesterday that I picked on the wrong guy (Wells) when I meant to pick on Allen. But you've given me the opening I needed. Thanks for that and hope you laugh out loud at the video. :)

You pick up usable compressive strength in 12-20 hours for most blends, depending on the application, but it normally takes something like 28 days or even more to get to the max.

Ask the guys that grout piles that hold offshore platforms in place. They take cementing offshore the most seriously of anyone I have ever worked with. I did that for a few months in the North Sea.

I guess the insurance companies that underwrite platforms may provide part of that influence...


The Romans used concrete and much of it they made still stands and is in use today. 88 years it takes to cure fully, I have read.

You are quite right. The Romans used Pozzolanic cements that need free lime to cure. Pozzolanic cements are basically flyash which you can easily collect from coal fired power stations for instance.

Poz takes a long time to develop maximum strength, but the results are stunning. Poz cements also have a big advantage in that they are light, so that you can get very light weights and very sophisticated blends that work well with varying mud weights.

Poz is often used with normal Portland cement in 1:1 or 2:1 ratios. The disadvantage is that you need lots of discreet storage offshore to accomodate it. edit: Portland cement generates free lime as it hydrates, so it is the ideal companion for Pozollanic cement.

Syncro suggested we might get into cement technology once he is back from chasing foxes in the mountains. While he does not dictate the narrative, he asks great questions and is fun and rewarding to work with.

That might be worthwhile. There is a lot of misinformation in this area. You can make cement dance and sing if you choose. Halliburton has an agenda. They are not necessarily our friend.

Cement is cheap. Use lots. Use lots.


Hey, I'm not used to words like that JTF! I'm waiting for the other shoe now. And please don't wait for me should the topic present itself. I will catch up.

Syncro - There is no other shoe to drop.

A few points, all of which can be refuted. I hope someone does refute them because I smell a rat, and it ain't wharf rat.

1. Storage offshore for dry cement is at a premium.

2. The best cement blends that match drilling mud weights demand lots of dry storage.

3. Liquid additive systems are a poor match for the right dry blend cement.

4. The cement companies are trying, successfully, to sell whoopy-wow cement blends like nitrogen-foamed cements in place of traditional formulations that likely work much better. Three guesses which costs more?

5. Cement company performance looks much better when they only pump small jobs. Big jobs break stuff. The latest job on Macondo is reported as 209 sacks or something like 50bbls of slurry. A really big job is 5000 sacks.

6. We used to pump 1300bbl jobs. Scared the crap out of us because of the up time implications and the wear and tear on the cement units.

7. Pump small, high-tech jobs, be successful, make lots of money. Probably the same money or better than pumping big low-tech jobs.

Thanks; I've been working on that.


Some Roman cements are reputed to be still active today and are still curing. Used to live near Roman ruins and it was something that always amazed me.


Me too, NAOM. I spent a year studying in Rome and always secretly inspected the cement on tours of ruins instead of the features the guides would be highlighting. We used to sneak in the forum at night and haunt the ruins. Lots of fun.

Unfortunately I had to make do with an outpost of the empire. The cement that showed, after 2000 years, was as hard and tough as that on modern houses nearby. Many Roman constructions are still in use to this day. It shows what can be done when you do a job well. Modern builders, generally, do work that can survive for... well, maybe till the job is done,if you are lucky.


Thanks Jones & Whidely The clip sent me rolling on the floor.
But 5 to 7 days to "dry" (yeah I knew it was cure)?? I haven't been in operations for 30 years, but I don't remember ever reading a morning report saying rig has been WOC for 7 days!!
Maybe the Admiral is being extra careful.
BTW...I know John Wright has been extremely successful in the past, but it seems to me that the drilling/ranging of the RW has been painfully slow. Guess I'm getting frustrated.

Thanks Jones & Whidely The clip sent me rolling on the floor.
But 5 to 7 days to "dry" (yeah I knew it was cure)?? I haven't been in operations for 30 years, but I don't remember ever reading a morning report saying rig has been WOC for 7 days!!
Maybe the Admiral is being extra careful.
BTW...I know John Wright has been extremely successful in the past, but it seems to me that the drilling/ranging of the RW has been painfully slow. Guess I'm getting frustrated.

hope you laugh out loud at the video. :)

Well, I did, thank you very much! Adore those films.

Dimitry said :

I am not a scientist, but hopefully a good engineer…..

Apologies for the slur! :-) I've worked in the industry as an engineer for 20 years, spent plenty of time at the wellsite getting dirty, but I do have a science background which I'm proud of. I do view it as the pursuit of truth, and thats something I recognise in many of your posts - you've been digging hard and you don't take no for an answer. I hope you keep it up.

Another thing that comes over is your impatience with the apparent lack of consistency from BP in their reporting of technical issues (eg pressure criteria for deciding on well integrity, and the sudden acceptability of a hard shut-in when this was apparently ruled out some weeks earlier, something I too initially found quite perplexing).

The oil industry is unlike most others in its unholy blend of surface engineering precision (subsea systems, pipelines, processing facilities etc) with massive subsurface uncertainty (wells, reservoirs).

The reservoir structures that are being drilled are often many hundreds of feet thick and can cover areas of tens of square miles. The depositional processes that laid down the reservoir sands are often very complex, so that the colossal slab of rock being drained is a patchwork of good bits and bad bits spread out in sheets and channels with barriers to flow in some places and highways in others. We can't see any of this directly. If we were lucky enough to have cut some core, we have a tiny column of rock a few inches across from which to extrapolate across the tens of square miles, and we have some maps based on seismic studies which often carry substantial depth uncertainty away from the well tie-in point. There are other techniques that let us guess a bit about what lies out there, but the picture is generally fairly cloudy.

Facilities engineers want to pin down the basis for design as precisely as possible, and subsurface engineers want to keep the design ranges as wide as possible, and I tend to spend a lot of time in field development planning trying to bridge the gap and ensure integration.

What this boils down to is that from exploration drilling right through to production, things NEVER go quite as planned. Exploration wells are dry. Field production collapses unexpectedly. Often there is something you can do about it (change the development plan), other times you lose money. There is thus a prevailing acceptance of a degree of technical and financial risk in the industry, and a comfort in working with uncertainty, and this often looks very odd to an outsider.

I guess I am as frustrated as you at the vagueness of some of the pronouncements from the BP technical briefings. But when Wells says pressure X means this and pressure Y means that, I'm not going to assume that these figures result from precise calculations on a well understood system and that particular outcomes are uniquely diagnostic of a particular scenario. I guess he had to say something about the pressures, and what he said was probably an executive paraphrase of what is likely to be a very complex set of scenario trees covering pressure projections for different assumptions.

I could be wrong. Another possibility is that they are all running round like mad men trying to do 6 months work in a week, and no-one's got any idea whats going on.

Jeez, that took up more space than I intended…….

Jeez, that took up more space than I intended

Maybe so, but what it shows is that if you, bignerd, were to take in mind to write a book explaining your industry/experiences to the general reader, I'd definitely take in mind wanting to read it. Thank you.

I can give you space and post privileges at http://gcn01.com . You can include diagrams or links. You can build a whole post and just paste a link here. It might increase your responses or help in telling a better story. In any case, good commenting.

Bonnie is gone, time to get that casing in and get this over with.

Not quiiiiiite.

You have discussed about Mike Williams testify.
I wonder, that it seems to be new for some people here.
There was a quite informative video in 29. May on YouTube.
And just at the beginning...what say´s Williams about the alarms...?


But in all his words he blames BP and nobody else !!!

Lady, if you haven't see the entire interview, here it is (in segments):


lotus, indeed I didn´t see that link, sorry.
But I´m a little bit confused about Williams saying :
"I'm hearing the alarms. I mean, they're at a constant state now. It's just, 'Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.' "
and then saying :
"the general alarm that could have detected the cloud of flammable methane gas that enveloped the rig's deck on April 20 was "inhibited."
Are there different alarms ?

Puh - this forum isn´t easy to handle technical !!!

They have named Williams a target of the investigation. I have not heard what his possible charges could be but I imagine it might have to do with the alarms not working. He admitted he had talked to the Coast Guard during an inspection and never told them about the alarms.

He also had the power to shut the site down at any time.

No slur in being called a scientist - they are most cool people!

I am beginning to uderstand the uncertainty and certain laxness with formal methodologies that exist in the oil industry. I am generallly very forgiving of lack of formality as long as the things are being done right. In case of BP, though, I got continued vibes that they really are not sticking to any plans and are rolling day to day without any overarching framework. In my experience great people can do great things without planning, but I have learned that a great majority of us, including myself, need careful planning to achieve a reasonable fraction of our expectations.

What I find missing from the unfolding process is the clear logical connection from one effort to another, with a rational explanation as to why decisions are being made today that were considered not worthy yesterday. Generally, technical communication to a non-technical audience is a real art form and most people don't really have special talents in this area. And I am sure a very tight schedule and civil and potential criminal liability does not make for a relaxing working environment.

Hopefully, they are hitting a patch of good luck and have built a good piece of hardware.

What I find missing from the unfolding process is the clear logical connection from one effort to another, with a rational explanation as to why decisions are being made today that were considered not worthy yesterday.

Today I might have more information than I did yesterday. Would you use additional information to make decisions today, or woudl you just follow a plan that was developed on, at best, sketchy information at the start of a project?

An obvious question deserves an obvious answer. First of all if you have "sketchy" information you should assess the risk of starting the project in the first place. Sentiments such as "we really should try X" and "our stock price is tanking" should not play a part in your technical risk assessment.

Once you decide to go forward, you should lay out a plan of reviews of information, within an agreed-upon framework of decision making. While things can sometimes change radically, the situation of "wow, who could have though of that one?" should really be quite rare in a competent organization which is operating within their core area of expertise.

Formal planning and commitment to a decision making process is not the same as "just follow the plan", it is a rational framework for future decisions that takes new information into an account, within a rational project logic.

I guess I am as frustrated as you at the vagueness of some of the pronouncements from the BP technical briefings. But when Wells says pressure X means this and pressure Y means that, I'm not going to assume that these figures result from precise calculations on a well understood system and that particular outcomes are uniquely diagnostic of a particular scenario. I guess he had to say something about the pressures, and what he said was probably an executive paraphrase of what is likely to be a very complex set of scenario trees covering pressure projections for different assumptions.

I believe that you have made the best presentation I've read concerning the uncertainties of the flows from a particualar well. I sure wish more of the complainers would read it a couple of times. Everyone is running around yammering for a "number" and in some cases BP has provided one. Although I have never read that BP has ever stated a flow rate, those estimates have always come for the govt. agencies that so many want to have full control. However, to your point, the reservoir enginers are able to make some intelligent inferences based upon cutting samples and pre-determined assumptions about the stratigraphy from seis. It is essentially a guess, but an informed guess. The only real contact with the producing formation is the boreface within a 9" hole. The reservoir engineers will be able to determine the reservoir size just a few days after the final barrel or mcf is produced. Any estimate before that is just a good guess. For a whole lot of reasons they are required to put numbers to things that have a great deal of uncertainty. Most people just don't understand that as a risk of the business. Thanks for trying to get the point across.

Unrelated but I thought I'd post this anyhoo.


Should have taken a piece when you had the chance.... :)

i have a question... maybe just an observation... and maybe it's just me...

but isn't EVERYTHING besides the relief well just interim...?

isn't the relief well THE final... final... on this mess...?

MY QUESTION... or observation...

why doesn't the relief well and associated progress... activities... have the same laser like microscope level of scrutiny and attention as all the interim measures...?

i mean... if everything else is just "until the relief well" shuts the thing in permanently...

just seems... we should have daily very detailed progress on THAT at the top of every story... now before you go off on me... theoilddrum HAS covered the relief well in detail... i think i could go out and drill one with a 70% chance of success just from the information posted here...

i want daily updates... to the inch... where is this thing... and when will it shut off the thing permanently?

Excellent proposal, Squidd. I agree. Instead of fooling around with all those seismic/acoustic surveys, etc., after it was apparent the cap was holding, the RW could have been cased and intercepted the WW by now, IMHO. Get 'er done!!

The feature that I have found most interesting has been the Media buyin on the Matt Simmons nonsense. Whatever is scarey leads the reports.

In that regard, for the Simmons scenario to have been true, there has to be a river of oil flowing subsurface that the original well did not encounter. It would have to be very high up the hole and certainly present as an overpressured zone when drilled into. There are two kill well being drilled and both are about 2,500 ft from the blowout. If there was some leakage of any real volumes, the Simmons claim, it certainly would have been evident in the mud returns as the top sections were drilled. The monitoring of that would have been the first evidence that there was not a leak from Macondo.

We are now seeing how the process works when govt. officials with no oil field experience or knowledge are put in charge of an operation of plugging a well. Based upon media nonsense and advice from consultants with an anti-oil production ax to grind, Sec. Chu has been playing around with 8th grade science experiments while a fleet of vessels have been sitting on standby for several days. And guess what, now there is a storm in the GoM that will halt the operation. Who could have guessed that that would occur? This thing could have possibly been killed with the original top kill if Chu had not ordered them to stop. Now the high paid consultants have played the game to get more delay for surveys. How convienient, particularly if the goal is to delay BP in getting the plugging done. Does it make them feel proud to have delayed getting the final pill pumped as they shut down the drilling of the kill well? Probably it does. You can read them brag about their connections.

A "Boot on the Throat" has not benefited the population of the Gulf Coast, that is for certain, and is more evident every day.

One word, Waymore: IXTOC

You know, oil flowing unabated from cracks in the seabed for 8-10 months.

Your third paragraph comments have no bearing on reality. TOD has recently been invaded by "government can do no right" contingent, who have been using this resource to spread their pathological hatred of authority of any kind (except their own enlightened kind, of course).

I find it really "rich" to have the "hate the government" crowd come in to malign the Energy Sec., of all people, for holding back "BP's brilliant efforts", when it is BP sloppy work and unwarranted risk taking that is at fault right from the beginning.

Obviously some folks have completely missed any logic courses their schools may have offered.

If you think about it, the RW will be a good standard to compare the drilling of the first well to.

Lots of clues are there and why they are drilling things certain ways at certain depths that I bet BP does not want the public to know.

Dispersant application may increase carcinogen concentration in sea water. http://is.gd/dE1ra Only links to the studies' abstracts.

A few day ago somebody posted the air-sampling-update from EPA :

Are that realy dates that don`t bother people ? LA on a bad day ?
Glad to live in germany...

From the article cited in the link provided:

"The addition of chemical dispersant accelerated dissolution and biodegradation of PAHs, especially HMW PAHs."

So I guess it depends on how you read things. Dissolution does increase the concentration - however it also makes the stuff more available to degradation.

You really do need to go back to the primary source to get the complete picture.