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

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6775.

This post is really an update to my prior post http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6771.

Update: 1:00 PM EDT: Evacuation of oil spill area called off; ship are expect to return within 24 hours.

Note, Saturday 9:00am EDT: Storm update by Chuck Watson at end of post.

As noted previously, BP now has permission to leave the cap on indefinitely, with the approaching storm. Heading Out adds:

I have not been over to the ROV sites for a while, since the rigs are preparing to close, but (h/t to JamesRWhite), I have to say that if I were running a pressurized line that had the leak that is now evident in the Hos ROV 1 feed, I would be seriously thinking about doing something to alleviate the problem. (Such as pumping in mud to alleviate the driving pressure).

Leaks on the fittings around the wellhead

And if I didn't do something there were two members of my staff who would have bent my ear until I did.

Weather: Friday, 11:30pm EDT

Bonnie has been downgraded to Tropical Depression, and the chance of high winds is looking quite low. The National Hurricane Center is now showing only a small spot with even a low chance of 50 knot wind speeds. Perhaps the amount of evacuations can be reduced.

Weather: Saturday, 9:00am EDT - by Chuck Watson

Bonnie is barely hanging in there as an organized storm. In the map below, based on the official forecast, light blue are gale force winds, the narrow green stripe is tropical storm force winds. There is a really good chance Bonnie will completely break down today, due to strong wind shear over the Gulf, but I bet the Hurricane Center will continue to track it to the coast and issue advisories anyway, given it is in the spotlight.

Folks on the coast, and the industry, will be asking "is that all?" The only real question left is the impact on the spill, and I'm sticking with, "It's a net positive". The storm will pass right over the oiled areas, should help disperse and mix offshore areas. I wish we were getting more rain out of it, but the shear has weakened the convection and reduced rainfall as well. The great thing is that there is no "new oil" to move inland. It may well push old oil in to new areas, but the waves and currents may help clean off as many areas as it impacts. Another down side is the impact on barriers, and the damage torn up barriers will have on surrounding wetlands.

Prof. Goose's comment:

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Interesting. Note the imminent date - taking advantage of the opportunity.

I read his blog unlike some here, who think he's not that knowledgeable. It's not that bad but it's hard for me to believe he has enough to fill an interesting book. He just wasn't enough of an insider. The book needs to be written by someone who was in the room.

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

The world deserves to work in the same basic safety. The United States sends its old ships to India to get salvaged. The regs here just make it too costly to do locally. What about the Chinese products? They came and got us here. No country is an island in the trade sense, though North Korea might be close. I will look at the global industry numbers and get back with you. Thank you very much.
I guess I can be a 'homey' too much sometimes. You should see me at American Football games.

Friday night I was watching Oly-ROV 2 and watched what a think were oil seeps. No swirling "explosions", just droplets rising from the mud. The video was in that night-vision looking color. I saved some video, but the color changed to orange and was upside down. I used RealMedia, and have no idea what went wrong with the color or orientation.

My saved video is not nearly as clear as what I was watching, but here is a link anyway.


:25 - :32, 1:12 - 1:38 and 2:00 are the best spot to see what I am talking about.

I know they have said there are seeps, I just wanted to post the first video of them.

Just a silt storm caused by ROV thruster - no oil seep there.

Here is how real oil seeps look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4S9uazWAB0

That's the same thing as in the other video, your leak is just a lot faster. It's probably much much older. This leak just started.

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.

There are possible logical explanations for what was going on when you track the events, the big showdown between BP and the gov., and the contradictions that follow.

BP has IN FACT managed to defeat collection of full flow thereby defeating an accounting based on actual flow. There was only one way to do that. Stop the flow entirely and abandon the more conservative plan to save well integrity for bottom kill and collect the oil.

The flow estimates are a sad substitute for hard numbers. What is the difference between 35,000 and 50,000 bbls a day if you assume that rate over 100 days (till roughly Aug 1 just to make calculations easier), $1.5 billion at the $1000 a bbl rate, $6 billion at the $4,000 a bbl. rate.

If shutting the well in and keeping it shut in would save $1.5 billion to $6 billion, or anything close, would BP do it even if it was not on the aganda worked out with the gov.? There are multiple other reasons why BP would want to cap the well rather than collect the oil. Some of them do indeed align with the public's interest. However, there is little corresponding benefit to the public and the folks along the gulf (relative to the magnitude of the risk) to justify taking that additional risk, while BP has lots of reasons to take it. This is not to suggest they were wildly reckless. But they were certainly willing to take a lot more risk than the initial game plan suggested was acceptable. And prior clearly stated objectives and principles enunciated early on were abruptly modified/blurred/abandoned. And BP did indeed defeat actual flow calculations.

While this explanation is by no means the only one or close to proven, from my perspective, it is a more logical and rational explanation for what's happened than anything i've heard from BP or the gov. The govt. was outsmarted and is not about to admit it publicly. I don't really wish to relitigate this issue, but did want to take note of it before it recedes into the past. And note that some components are showing clear signs os stress. That does not inspire confidence in the risk calculation.

synchro, as has been pointed out in numerous previous threads (I'm a long-time lurker if a new poster), the fine will most likely be settled by negotiation.

A hard measurement of flow rate 100 days after the event won't add much. With erosion, cutting off the riser, removing the second piece of drillpipe and flushing out bits of cement opening up the flow path, reservoir depletion and perhaps formation damage reducing the driving pressure, and changing GOR making an unknown positive or negative contribution, it won't stand up in court as representing anything prior to the last few days. A good lawyer would shred any such attempt in 5 minutes, and the Govt's reputation with the judge or jury would be so trashed they'd struggle to make their good arguments stick.

In addition (despite what you read in the MSM and in many posts here), BP has played it clever by never (that's right, never) making it's own estimate of the flow rate. Every number from zero to 1000 thru 5000 to 35-65000 has come from USG agencies or academics. Imagine the scene in court. Govt lawyer: I claim 35000 from day one; BP lawyer: but USCG said zero on day one, 1000-5000 in the first week and 35000 at the end; and, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we all saw the rate increase when various bit of pipe were cut off. Were you lying then or are you lying now? Govt counsel won't be stupid enough to go down that road. They'll threaten it as part of the negotiation, just as BP will threaten to stonewall like Exxon did over Valdez and drag it out over 15 years. But they both have too much to lose to make good on the threats.

They'll settle for something that starts at zero and ramps up to at most double the final capture rate, then subtract the 8000000bbls or so captured from the fine. Which I suspect wil be $1000/bbl not $4000.

WHY? IIRC the higher fine is for criminal negligence, and BP won't cop to that because it has too many knock-on implications for corporate or personal liability. Criminal not only has a higher bar for the offence, it also has a higher threshold of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt, as opposed to more likely than not). That will be a lot harder to make stick in a court of law than in the court of public opinion, and if USG win it will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and we're in Valdez territory. Even then BP will argue that the oil spilled each day also has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the bottom of the range not the top or midpoint. $1000 per negotiated barrel might well make for a bigger fine than $4000 per fought-over barrel, and will be a lot quicker (handy with the Recession still to paid for...)

In summary: BP doesn't need an ulterior motive to keep the well shut in. Every barrel spilled is costing it far more then $4000 in direct costs, reputation damage and shareholder nervousness. Today, not in one or two or five years time.

Every number from zero to 1000 thru 5000 to 35-65000 has come from USG agencies or academics. Imagine the scene in court. Govt lawyer: I claim 35000 from day one; BP lawyer: but USCG said zero on day one, 1000-5000 in the first week and 35000 at the end; and, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we all saw the rate increase when various bit of pipe were cut off. Were you lying then or are you lying now?

Don't you think that supports my argument? I sure do. The only way to avoid this dilemma is with actual flow. Even if it is only one measurement, it will be 1000 times better than what they have now.

I don't know where you get that the fine will be negotiated. Is that speculation, rationalization or the law? Do you have a better shot at a good, cheap settlement if your opponent has a dozen inconsistent estimates, or it it has hard, solid numbers? Even if it is negotiated, the negotiations are going to be impacted as much by solid numbers vs. an estimate as if there was just a straight fine.

I therefore respectfully dissent, Quaking.

Agree with your last point synchro, but only since the latest capping exercise. Obviously it would be a very solid number to have point forward if something goes horribly wrong as Bonnie passes over, but it's too open to challenge looking backward. Let's pray we don't need it point-forward.

Why do I think it'll be negotiated? Past precedent both in industry (equity and contract disputes) and Govt (Goldman Sachs, anyone?). Unless you catch an executive with his hand in the till, it's hard to get a criminal conviction. Copping to a negotiated but suitably large fine, without admitting criminal liability, at least partially satisfies the need for public retribution. As far as blame or future reputation goes, every member of the public is free to say 'they were guilty as sin but copped a plea'. That's where the court of public opinion comes in.

As an afterthought, there is one step which as far as I'm aware has not been taken to estimate the flow earlier in the month. I didn't trust the rates coming from the particle flow academics who looked at the plume, because it's quite common for neat theoretical approaches to need a fudge factor of 10% to 1000% in order to match reality. They need calibration. But you could look at the plume with H4000 and DWE producing, with only Q4000 when DWE was hit by lightning, and at intermediate rates when they were choked back. The change in rate will have been recorded by the ships, and the change in predicted rate from the particle-flow approach can be compared with those changes. If it's a match, the model gets 10/10. If not, it has to be adjusted - but with a working range from (say) 0% to 50% of total flow captured, that should be a perfectly tractable problem.

Quaking, I believe you might be wrong. It is my understanding that with one measurement of actual flow, they will be able to predict past flow far, far, far more accurately than with using estimate, especially a wide-ranging estimate of flow. And keep in mind that any estimate, no matter how good, as you very effectively pointed out, is immediately weakened by the huge range of all of the other estimates.

You're right that my point on the fine being settled is poorly laid out. It very well may be settled, but you never start with that. You start with solid evidence of what the fine will be if there is no settlement. Without that, you're negotiating in a vacuum. The better your fine numbers, the better your're negotiating position. The weaker, the better BP's negotiating position.

I realize my position is annoying. It is cynical re why BP changed course. It advocates letting oil continue to leak (but to be totally captured). It is conservative and risk-adverse. It is not sexy, bold, exciting and fun like killing it from the top with the well shut in. And having it shut in is great. At least until you contemplate those leaks that are showing up after only a week now.

Not wanting to get too deep into a speculative trend synchro, but for me the biggest club the Govt has is civil/statutory vs. criminal fine. They can probably get BP to accept a high spill rate estimate in return for settling. A criminal case (at corporate level, vs. whatever individuals may or may not have done personally) is too much of a crap shoot for both parties. It may not sound like natural justice, but we live in the real world and sadly, injustice happens all the time.

Plus, with my cynical hat on, a cash infusion now is of more benefit to the administration (and arguably, to the US economy during a jobless recovery) than one in several years time. Especially with Euro govts falling over each other to cut their budget deficits and the US looking isolated to the bond markets. Think of it as a convenient windfall tax. Not saying it's right and proper, just that it's likely. And I wouldn't spill 50-100,000bbl into the Gulf to measure a number I'll probably never use.

On the calibration front, yes every measurement helps. But in my experience (as an observer, not a doer), frictional loss calculations in 30-40mbd wells need to be tuned by multirate tests with a downhole gauge, even with industry-standard completions and prediction software. I've seen 50% adjustments, and a rate dependence which is near-exponential at the top end. Extrapolating backwards on a piece of broken and progressively eroding kit will be an engineering nightmare. And a lawyer's paradise.

The biggest uncertainty is how much the flow path opened up due to erosion and the cutting away of bits of pipe and equipment. The argument in court would not be about whether it was 35, 45 or 65mbd on 24th July, but whether it was 20%, 40% or 60& less in June, and 20%, 50% or 95% less in May.

I should be in bed!

It's not that the fine means that much to me. It's that we are taking unnecessary risks so BP can avoid fines that bothers me.

You make a good point about the complications of the bent riser and how much restriction it had. However, they will have the actual riser and will able to make accurate measurements and calculations if they have the flow rate from the open pipe.

You are obviously more competent than I am on the mechanics of accurate flow calculation. But I'm not sure that it makes a difference when we both acknowledge that starting out with even just one actual flow measurement will deliver far more accurate calculations than starting out with only an estimate of flow.

Would you ever believe that BP would try to buy up all of the experts to gain an advantage? Then why not trick the govt. out of actual flow calculations? It's probably far more effective in reducing liability exposure than hogging most but not all competent experts.

I'm starting to understand syncro's point of reference in this, although I'm still more of the view that the final outcome will be negotiated. It is interesting how we come to these questions with different backgrounds and sets of preconceptions.

Syncro has pointed out aspects of BP's behaviour that would suggest that they are not sure of the situation, and are thus being careful about letting anything slip. Not just overt "they are lying bastards, and couldn't lay straight in bed" but calculated behaviour that is clear at the behest of their lawyers. Unsurprising really.

OTOH, as a student of politics and how it is played, I find it very hard to believe that both the executive branch and BP don't understand very well the nuances and risks of the stakes that are being played for. There is a point where the size of an issue can't be allowed to remain at a simple legal and beaurecratic level. I believe this is one of them.

If look at the history we know that Obama did a deal of some sort with BP. We might remember how he initially refused to talk to Hayward. Some quarters were highly critical of him for this - however I suspect he was playing a very old game. Evver been summoned to see the headmaster for doing something bad? You get ushered into his office, and he will sit there finishing off some document, and keep you waiting in suspense of what seems like hours, getting more and more nervous, before finally getting around to you. SOP. A friend of mine, in his youth committed a rather unfortunate indiscression and was personally dressed down by our Prime Minister in exactly this way. Anyway, I suspect Obama was already priming Hayward for the deal that resulted in the escrow find.

But look at the competing forces. BP is not playing with a totally empty deck. They could have hid behind the 75M$ cap. The big stick Obama yields is essentially freezing BP out of the US henceforth. Both BP and Obama know that seizing BP's assets or some form of forced nationalisation would not pass Congress or the Senate. Nor indeed would the executive be prepared to go down that route for man other political reasons, both domestic and international.

BP would go into negotiations knowing that the threat of the EPA fine looms. At this stage however they probably didn't think the actual amount of oil would ever grow this large, so they may not have had it as high on the agenda as they might have wished. But I can't believe that it wasn't discussed. No way would Obama agree to waive enforcing it at this, but he might indicate that if BP played ball, he would consider it.

The thing I found interesting was the manner in which the EPA fine is enacted. There are two paragraphs 6 and 7. The EPA can only fine under one of them. Para 6 is a $125,000 maximum civil fine. If they go with that, they cannot subsequently try para 7, which is the per barrel fine. There is no scope for negotiating the per barrel fine. The act leaves that amount to the court. The act provides the court with scope to decide the fine between essentially zero per barrel, and the full amount. Mitigation includes efforts used to clean up. But I suspect that the executive may feel uncomfortable devesating the decision for a multi billion dollar fine to the district court. But they only have four choices. Direct the EPA to not pursue a fine (which I'm not sure the PEA can do.) Direct the EPA to pursue a para 6 fine. Direct the EPA to pursue a non-criminal fine. Direct the EPA to purse the criminal negligence fine.

Time will tell.

While it would be interesting to know what the flow would be if they uncapped the well now, it would be impossible to use that number to figure out what the total amount of oil was that went into the GOM from that number.

And then there is the what-ifs:

  • What if the government hadn't delayed drilling on the relief well in order to get better seismic or sonar data?
  • What if the government hadn't called a halt to the top kill?
  • What if the government hadn't forced BP to cut the riser and install a top cap? Did that decision increase or decrease the flow into the GOM?
  • How much oil was unnecessarily dumped into the GOM due to delays in getting decisions out of the government?
  • And how much do you fine BP versus Transocean, Halliburton, or Anadarko considering all of those what-ifs?

    My guess is, to completely clean up the mess would take more money than all of those companies combined. How to you completely restore a marsh? How do you completely clean up a beach? What do you do about the goop that will be in the ocean for the next several decades?

    It is of my opinion that this will be battled out by lawyers for the next several decades. In the end, they will be the big winners in all of this.

    What if the government hadn't delayed drilling on the relief well in order to get better seismic or sonar data?

    Agree that the other actions and delays could reasonably be attributed to the government, but the RW drilling was not significantly impacted by the gathering of seismic and sonar data. Iirc, except for a pause of a few hours when the first pass was made, DD3 continued to progress on RW1 until stopping to insert the storm packer due to the approach of Bonnie. Work on RW2 had already been suspended before the scans began in accordance with an existing plan to stop at a certain level pending outcome of RW1 so that directional adjustments could be made later on RW2 if needed.

    There was no need for either DD2 or DD3 to move out of the way for the scanning - they were both some distance from the well. In addition, at the time they both were attached to their respective BOPs by a mile of risers, which took hours to retrieve before they moved out of the way of the storm threat.

    What was impacted by the gathering of data was the work on expanding the containment system, in particular the completion of the the second free-standing riser intended for attachment to Toisa Pisces. The interruption of progress in that area was mentioned a number of times in the daily briefings, along with the updates on RW1 activity such as ranging, drilling, etc.

    "My guess is, to completely clean up the mess would take more money than all of those companies combined. How to you completely restore a marsh? How do you completely clean up a beach? What do you do about the goop that will be in the ocean for the next several decades?"

    Right on target.

    The issue here has been further complicated by the lack of experienced personnel and oversight. Starting in the early stages of command and control and the formation of the Unified Command System which was never solidified. Especially in the near shore and coastal environment. It's been a three ring circus...

    Now its even worse. Much of the damage to the wetland and marsh areas was complicated further by inexperienced contractors and EOC's with very few exception and there are some exceptions.

    Deployment of boom without proper and sound strategies added to the damage ( though a spill contractors revenue dream).

    Recovery was also in the same bad shape. Many skimmers sat idle because contractor personnel were not properly trained with the skimmers and efficiency was in the ground. This made containment and protection much more difficult than it normally already is and made matters much worse.

    Its this simple. We went to sleep on this type of spill event because we spent and still spend way to much time looking for Bin Laden and not enough time preparing for natural or industrial disasters. The USG Leadership chain basically needs to be badly overhauled.

    This event command and control wise makes Katrina look like a walk in the park. It seems Lt. General Russel Honore was on mark when he said. "You can't fix stupid".

    Just sad state of affairs. We just do not learn our lessons learned.

    By the way, this being super secret hush, hush, mush, mush about what is actually happening in a EOC is total bullshit..

    The public has a right to know what is really going on.

    Besides covering ones ass.........

    Quaking states the ultimate truth; any fine with regards to the spilled oil will be a negotiated fine. I work as a regulator for a state oil & gas agency and have been involved in numerous enforcement actions against operators for rule/regulation violations. All final enforcement actions resulting in monetary fines are ultimately a negotiated settlement, usually resulting in significant compromises by both parties. No surprises here, official hearings (essentially a type of "trial" in front of our Commission) to arbitrate an issue are unbelievably resource (and time) intensive. Both parties prefer presenting an agreed upon negotiated "settlement" vs. a adversarial hearing. After all, this is what lawyers do (and both parties are represented by legal representation)

    The "fuzziness" surrounding the determination of how much oil fluids discharged (spilled) is ripe ground for significant negotiation between BP (and others) and the Feds. After all, the Feds are complacent (or can be construed as complacent) in all stages of the active discharge containment process (as the "ultimate" decision makers) that could be shown as delaying the technically viable actions by BP, et al, to stop the discharge. There may be political pressure for the "pound of flesh" but when everything is said and done, all punishment will be negotiated.

    "If look at the history we know that Obama did a deal of some sort with BP."

    I have taken this quote out of context so I apologize for it being loaded. I don't think Obama has made any deal, but I also don't think Obama has the power to do what has to be done as the end game unfolds over the next few decades.

    I think it is obvious that the fine will be negotiated. It may be done once the assets of BP have been divided up and or sold off. If this wasn't the case, real threats of seizure of some kind would have already been made, and there is no way the US Govt will really turn on their God-like paymasters.

    When this oil first started to spill I posted that I thought it would be the end of BP. I got jumped on big time by industry folks, and yet now it is a common thread. Maybe the BP name will exist, but the assets will be removed long before the cleanup is done. In fact, BP will be cleaned up before the Gulf is cleaned up. It this were not the case, a law would be on the books limiting this....what 60 days ago?

    The lawyers will get rich and the assets will stay in powerful hands....the shareholders will get the shaft as well as the people. It is similar to Union Carbide, but on a bigger scale and without the direct loss of human life in such high numbers. (Unless the methane fear unfolds) Yes there has been loss of life, on the rig, families being hurt and broken up, whole industries lost, family violence and suicides; just to name a few.

    This is way bigger than the President. He is just trying to survive it.


    This is an area I'm not especially familiar with - the actual powers of the POTUS. Although we are all pretty familiar with the deliberate attempts to extend them in recent times. I'm neither a lawyer, nor even live in the US. But when you have an executive, they are usually actually provided with some executive power. That is the point. The US is interesting in the three way tie breaker of ultimate power, but other than that, it seems to this bear of little brain, that POTIS must, in order to be able to do his job, be afforded the power to negotiate some deals.

    What I found interesting, and something that really needs clarification from a US constitutional lawyer, is that it seems a great deal of the power of US government agencies is enacted as ultimately being at the direction of the president. Thus it looked to me that POTUS has the power to direct actions on the part of the EPA, via directing its secretary. The fines that have been the issue in question are part of the water purity act, and the act requires the EPA to prosecute them. Thus the decision over what form to actually pursue them under may be under the direct direction of POTUS.

    So, my thesis is, that the settlement will be negotiated. However, we know a deal was struck with BP, the deal was that BP would set up the escrow fund. That isn't a matter of supposition. What is supposition is the manner, and conditions under which BP agreed to set that fund up. It is hardly likely that Obama simply said to Hayward, "20 billion, and now" and Hayward, say, "yeah, OK." there will be a deal. It might only be on a handshake. But I don't believe Hayward left Obama totally empty handed. If he did, Obama didn't push hard enough. (Which sounds contradictory, but until the other side kicks back, you haven't pushed them far enough, a deal indicates you are negotiating around the limits of what can be achieved.) We get frothing at the mouth tirades from the libertarian right that Obama has engaged in shakedown tactics, and at exactly the same time, accusations from the bleeding heart left that he has betrayed them and let BP off the hook (being clearly in the thrall of big business.) Personally, I have the sneaking suspicion he may have played this better than many people currently realise. The single most important thing he did was get the conduit of money from BP direct to those that need it, without the intervention of layers of government. That was smart. After that, we will see. But one thing Obama, and the rest of the US government can't be seen to be is vindictive. The stakes are vastly too big. Go after BP vindictively, and you risk all the other oil companies in the GOM starting to think very hard about whether they want to be there or not. That starts to impact upon national security. Any executive that is prepared to gamble with that does not deserve to be in office - no matter what country they serve.

    The POTUS has extraordinary powers.

    He could have directed the Dept. of Justice to jail the BP guys under a variety of charges including criminal negligence, involuntary manslaughter, and a host of environmental regulations. Then if he really wanted to be nasty, he could have had the guys held under terrorism charges indefinitely without bringing charges under the so-call patriot act. He could sic OSHA on them, the MMS, the SEC, and if he *REALLY* wanted to play the 'nuclear option', he could have the IRS nail them. In other words, if he wanted to play hard ball, he could have the company in bankruptcy by making a few phone calls.

    IMHO, the power has *WAY* too much discretionary power, in that he is in charge of a whole host of regulatory agencies, in that these agencies can write regulations that have the force of law.

    And Chicago politicians know how to play hard ball.

    The POTUS has little power. There are too many balancing forces within government to counter his power. Just look at the moratorium or health care. If the POTUS sent OSHA, what replaced MMS but there is no legislation yet, SEC, or the IRS, then his detractors on the hill would starting dragging that executive branch up there. Beck, Rush, and O'reilly would have a field day. You think he has problems now. The President has to move in slow deliberate steps. That is how you avoid a rash decisions leading to greater disaster. Of course, you also tend to stifle innovation in favor of the tried and true. He could not even stop the use of Corexit. I have a feeling he wanted to stop it and he sent Lisa Jackson who basically got slapped around by BP. What do you want, some more plumbers like Nixon used? That is really how you would take of problems if you had real power. Putin style.

    FYI - getting somebody arrested for terrorism charges under the Patriot Act requires that a whole bunck of very tighly-written critera be met. The issue is that you have to do some real research to determine the exact changes that were made to existing US laws by the Patriot Act.

    For example: Here is how the Patriot Act Defines 'Domestic terrorism:'

    (a) DOMESTIC TERRORISM DEFINED.—Section 2331 of title 18,
    United States Code, is amended—
    (1) in paragraph (1)(B)(iii), by striking ‘‘by assassination
    or kidnapping’’ and inserting ‘‘by mass destruction, assassination,
    or kidnapping’’;
    (2) in paragraph (3), by striking ‘‘and’’;
    (3) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end
    and inserting ‘‘; and’’; and
    (4) by adding at the end the following:
    ‘‘(5) the term ‘domestic terrorism’ means activities that—
    ‘‘(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are
    a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or
    of any State;
    ‘‘(B) appear to be intended—
    ‘‘(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    ‘‘(ii) to influence the policy of a government by
    intimidation or coercion; or
    ‘‘(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by
    mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    ‘‘(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction
    of the United States.’’.
    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—Section 3077(1) of title 18,
    United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
    ‘‘(1) ‘act of terrorism’ means an act of domestic or international
    terrorism as defined in section 2331;’’.

    The term ‘domestic terrorism’ means activities that --

    (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
    (B) appear to be intended --
    -- (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    -- (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion;
    -- (iii) or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

    You pulled the relevant parts perfectly. As we can see - not just 'anybody' can be accussed of terrorism undert the patriot Act. A person has to meet specific critera before that can occur.

    IMHO, the power has *WAY* too much discretionary power, in that he is in charge of a whole host of regulatory agencies, in that these agencies can write regulations that have the force of law.

    Yes, the agency regulations have the force of law. The authority to write those regulations, though, derives from the Congressional legislative authority. That is, Congress has, in the interests of efficiency (combining the rule writing expertise and rule enforcement activities into a single group) delegated a portion of their legislative ability. Note that it took years and many different legal cases before the Supreme Court decided that this was actually allowed under the Constitution. A variety of Constitutional scholars who favor smaller federal government have argued for decades that the Supreme Court has made a mistake and that such delegation should not be allowed. And if Congress had to write the kind of detailed rules the EPA has written under the Clean Air Act, most of it would never have happened.

    In reality, the delegation is surprisingly narrow. The courts have held that Congress has to specify a number of things, such as the purpose of the rules to be written, the broad procedures to be followed, restrictions on the authority, etc. The courts have routinely overturned statutory authorization when they felt that Congress had handed over a "blank check". The courts have also overturned rules for overstepping the authority provided by Congress. And sometimes it just gets seriously complicated: the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling about CO2 regulation under the Clean Air Act is a good example of that.

    Ultimate authority still resides with Congress. For example, the 1990 Oil Pollution Act set a cap on contingent liabilities from an oil spill at $75M. Under statute, BP is responsible for the full costs to clean up the mess, but they are not legally responsible for more than $75M in things like lost wages. Nothing the President or the EPA say or do can change that.

    I agree with most of what you said, especially about the President Obama's handling of the situation being more adept than people seem to be giving him credit for.

    As for his powers. He has a lot of, but not unlimited, power over the Executive Branch.

    a great deal of the power of US government agencies is enacted as ultimately being at the direction of the president. Thus it looked to me that POTUS has the power to direct actions on the part of the EPA, via directing its secretary. The fines that have been the issue in question are part of the water purity act, and the act requires the EPA to prosecute them. Thus the decision over what form to actually pursue them under may be under the direct direction of POTUS.

    FYI: The EPA is a so-called independent agency of the federal government, but you're correct, it is under the direct control of the Executive Branch (White House/POTUS), which determines the nature of its enforcement actions. The head of the EPA, known as the agency administrator (not secretary--that's for department heads), is appointed by the president subject to the approval of Congress.

    The EPA administrator normally has cabinet rank (i.e., like the secretaries of the various Executive Branch departments).



    ...something that really needs clarification from a US constitutional lawyer...

    Francis, I think your original statement was correct, and very perceptive for someone who doesn't live in the U.S. We need not resort to constitutional lawyers or any other kind of lawyer, and we need not throw around hypotheticals as if the landscape were unknown. We can evaluate an 18-month record of actions. In my opinion, Obama usually gives up more than he gets, and he always gives up much more than can be justified by the balance of powers among contending interests.

    I wish someone would try to force him to lay the agreement in plain view. Is someone trying to do that? Can it be done, or will the agreement remain secret? Darned if I know.

    You seem to assume that the risk of full capture of the oil would have been less than capping the wild well.

    I see no base for that.

    Installing all the stuff for full capture would have required a lot of additional work, of which each part could have gone wrong, plus more production vessels on one small spot with all the dangers these inherently have.

    So why would capping the well be riskier than capturing the full flow?

    Moon, I'll give my one word answer again: IXTOC.

    They capped Ixtoc. The casing ruptured. Oil thereafter leaked from cracks in the seabed for 8-10 months.

    Imagine if that happened here. Then imagine that, like with ixtoc, the RW ran into trouble and it took months and months and multiple attempts to kill it. During that entire time, 35k+ bbl of oil a day would be leaking from cracks in the mud. The containment system would not be able to capture it.

    On the other hand, if we stuck with the origional plan, there would be no risk of a casing rupture. If the RW failed or ran into trouble, we would still have the collection system to fall back on because oil will not be leaking out of cracks in the seabed.

    IXTOC alredy happened. It is not someone's hypothetical or sepculative fear. The risk of repeating that is not something we should take unless we have to. That is the conservative and sensible approach. Capping the well has brought some benefits, for sure, but in the big pic, nothing that begins to justify risking another ixtoc when we have a safer alternative.

    I could certainly be wrong. But so could everyone else who disagrees with me. There is not enough info for anyone to be able to claim they know.

    Anyway, this is my last post. Off on vacation, whoo hoo!

    P.S. I acknowledge that once it is shut in, over time there should be enough data collected to conclude with some degree of ceratinty at some point that it is safe (or not). But we knew none of that before proceeding with the risk.

    Hi syncro,

    "They capped Ixtoc. The casing ruptured. Oil thereafter leaked from cracks in the seabed for 8-10 months."

    Syncro, Please cancel your vacation. Finally we are getting to the realities. You are the first poster to reveal the true problem here. I had wondered why IXTOC experience had been ignored/suppressed. You have
    resolved that. Gratias Juan.

    Hi GreenAs - this video shows a good head to head record between Ixtoc and DWH.

    The disaster management hasn´t changed, but now they are drilling deeper !
    And about dispersants :
    There have been 30 years time to research the damage to the environment by using disperants !
    Where are the studys about that ?

    The use of dispersant is a real sore point with me. Maybe you could get away with it on a small scale, but it's use in this situation is insane. 200 million gallons of gas/oil and 2 million gallons of dispersant. And the formulation of Corexit initially used was particularly nasty.

    It was also apparent from some of the live feeds I saw prior to the Bonnie Intermission, that there was still some being released after the well was shut in. Or maybe that was just another "insignificant leak".

    The fact is that environmentally friendly bioremediation products are on the same EPA list that Corexit is on. http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/docs/oil/ncp/schedule.pdf . So it is a matter of choice what to use.

    However, it is the industries mind set that chemicals are the solution and bioremediation products are "snake oil". It seems like this industry has totally lost it's ability to innovate. I guess China will take the lead as we become a third world nation: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Boats+carry+eating+bacteria+de...

    What is even more of a sore point with me is that state and federal waters are being opened, yet no one can say with 100% certainty that the sea food is safe. I really don't want to have to see people 6 mths, 1 yr or 5 yrs down the road trying to explain to their familes and customers IF they get sick "well the government said it was ok and we believed them". Is it too much to ask that the government take the time needed to make sure this stuff is safe instead of trying to present the picture that everything is back to normal?

    Seafood safety is an issue not just because of the chemicals but because some of the oil-loving bacteria have health effects. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/06/17/17greenwire-will-bacterial-plagu...

    This is reason 1,001 why it is preferable to populate the Gulf waters with oil-consuming bacteria that do not have such effects.

    Chemical contamination of seafood is not such an issue because the chemicals are mainly organic and will eventually be broken down by microbes or the seafood effected by them. Of course, there are mutagens included in the toxic soup so if you see any three legged fish walking up on the beach, don't eat them.

    Does anybody know about radiologicals and heavy metals from the oil flow?

    Maybe it would be easier to grasp the value of using dispersant if its trade name was Decompose-It instead of Corexit. Dispersant maximizes microbial digestion of crude oil in the open ocean. See the evidence for yourself at:

    Breaking the oil into tiny droplets and holding it underwater enables the microbes there to multiply and eat more oil. The bugs convert oil’s complex hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide, water, and a few other simple chemicals. That’s right, much of the oil actually goes away in a few weeks. The hard-to-digest asphalty portions, which are heavier than water, sink to the bottom, and become part of the mud. As a result, a relatively small amount gets thrown onto the beach, marsh, and pelicans.

    A close analogy is the hydrocarbons you trim from your shrubbery (branches). If you hold them in a pile to compost, the soil microbes decompose them into carbon dioxide, water, and a few other simple chemicals. The branches go away in a few weeks. Otherwise, you throw them away in a landfill, where they are entombed forever without decomposing. If you want to speed up the composting, you chop them up (mulch) with a wood-chipper. To mulch crude oil, we use Decompose-It.

    Decomposition of oil in seawater does not require dissolved oxygen, nor does it require addition of genetically engineered microbes. See the thread above for details.

    So we know that dispersant works. Yes, it is slightly toxic, but crude oil is very toxic. Better to decompose it.

    Show me the data.

    There are several problems with this theory about how dispersants work. First, the oil/dispersant mixture can kill oxygen producing plankton. The air does not oxygenate the water. It is the plankton that do. Actually the water/plankton provides oxygen to the air. When conditions exist that kill plankton, the natural bacteria can also die. So, why are they not supplementing the population with microbes known to do the best job consuming the oil? The use of dispersants and microbes are not exclusive.

    Certainly the underwater plumes are a problem. What kind of plankiton, bacteria and oxygen levels are they seeing in association with those?

    They must be studying this. Why is the data not being publicized? Maybe it is not telling the story that those in charge want told.

    asgard posted this link to the Joint Analysis Group report downthread.


    Each appendix ends with the disclaimer that the report is being released but is not a final report. It is preliminary and doesn't seem to cover some points that you are interested in.

    If you want to read Dr Joye's current review, and then return when her research papers are published, she may cover the microbiology quite thoroughly.

    That is very interesting, but it is limited to the oil/dispersant and oxygen levels and does not describe the role of bacteria and plankton.

    The big question is, would the addition of oil consuming microbes have reduced the amount of damage from the oil and dispersant? Kept some if it from reaching the shore? Or did Mother Nature send the right ones where they were needed?

    I think the people of the Gulf coast would expect everything possible done to mitigate the damage. It does not look to me like it was.

    I showed you the data. Look at it.

    Your false argument about oxygen: Oxygen is still plentiful in preliminary reports of the recent surveys (for example http://gulfblog.uga.edu/), but oxygen is not needed because there are many kinds of microbes that digest oil without using oxygen. I say again: look at the data.

    Your false argument about "not publicizing" the new studies: Research is a process. It requires data to be collected, then analysed, then synthesized, then written to exacting scientific standards, then submission to journal editors, then back-and-forth in the peer-review and revision process, then the mechanics of actual publication. The new studies are not finished.

    So in the meantime, let's open the waters and hope for the best. Just what the public wants to hear.


    FWIW, I concur with you re microbial digestion of oil. I have recent, valid experience with #2 diesel & Jet-A. Tanks of either accumulate water due to condensation, esp here in the Gulf Coast.

    At the water/oil interface zone, microbes both live AND thrive, necessitating a biocide in the tanks of either to preclude their growth. Their food for this growth is - guess what - oil. The microbes grow & multiply so quickly, their residue & dropouts can & do clog ship, aircraft & equipment filters in an amazingly short time.

    Not taking any of this disaster lightly, but microbial remediation can & will clean a lot of the oil up, esp with the high ambient temps - both water & air.

    We have a lot work left to do, but here in the Mobile area we are finally seeing some light.

    Many thanks to TOD posters from all over the world who have offered prayers, thoughts, best wishes, etc to and for us here on the Gulf.



    Since hydrocarbons are the most reduced molecular form of carbon, the only possible metabolism they can undergo is oxidation. Other than oxygen itself, the only alternative oxidant of any consequence in seawater is sulfate ion, which is known to be used by bacteria such as Desulfovibrio. The sulfate is reduced to hydrogen sulfide, which is generally toxic to aerobic organisms. This anaerobic metabolism of hydrocarbons has been known for long time, but I haven't seen anything published yet in regards to the present GOM situation, either concerning the importance of anaerobic hydrocarbon bioremediation or consequences of H2S production, if any there be.

    For those interested in this process there is a extremely wide ranging and informative review article here:


    That is not data. That is a blog discussing some of the issues. If there was data there,I need you to send me that link. Good blog, though.

    I do not see anything about plankton and bacterial levels. It sure does not say that dispersant decomposes anything. That is what the bacteria does. Sure there are anerobic bacteria that will work on oil. So why are we not using them to bioremediate this mess?

    The big problem is the attitude of letting Mother Nature take care of it (maybe) instead of getting out there with the right microbes and taking care of business before the oil get to the shore.

    Thank you Dr. H. for that EXCELLENT post! With all the hysteria, you've explained in a simple coherent manner what this is for and how it works. My issue with Corexit isn't the supposed harm, any number of surfactants including Dawn dish washing detergent would have done essentially the same thing. My understanding is Dawn is more hazardous, and I showered with it for years when I worked as a roughneck, it was the ONLY way to get the oil off. By using Corexit at the source, they ruined any chance of capturing the oil with skimmers etc. The oil DID disperse, and became next to impossible to corral. Unfortunately, there was so MUCH oil that, even dispersed, it managed to create quite a mess, and being oil, re-joined when it could to make large blobs. Van Der Walls forces are weak, but not weak enough.

    You had me until "entombed forever without decomposting."

    I caught the fish in water reopened to fishing after contamination so you are saying go ahead and eat it, it's safe? I don't have anyway to know where the fish has been swimming but if it's alive it's safe to eat? If it swam out of toxic water to cleaner water it's still safe to eat? I seem to remember the same arguement made for mercury.

    my3: My apologies for unclear writing. "Entombed" was in reference to standard engineering design of modern landfills to which yard waste is sent. The whole landfill is lined beneath with clay or plastic, with plumbing to capture & recycle or treat leachate. The trash is placed in cells. When each cell is filled, it's capped so rain stops percolating through. Then the cell contents dry out and are preserved for decades or perhaps longer, until erosion finally destroys the whole structure.

    You're quite right--no such protections for the Gulf system or its creatures, and our capacity to monitor how they're doing is not good enough.

    My son said he watched some of the questioning yesterday and several BP guys were asked what they knew about Ixtoc 1 and all claimed they knew nothing about it.

    wth? If they didn't on 4/19 they should have on 4/21.

    I agree. Transitions and greater complexities create opportunities for failure. But balancing the worst case possibilities via collection vs a well blowout has to be a factor. I'd like to be in the room when the odds of a blowout are being discussed.

    If shutting the well in and keeping it shut in would save $1.5 billion to $6 billion, or anything close, would BP do it even if it was not on the agenda worked out with the gov.?

    Shutting in the well saves BP money because no oil is released to the environment. Nothing dvious about that.

    The real question is why was shutting in the well not on the agenda as Plan A. Has anybody ever discussed unlatching the LMRP and dropping a new BOP on? That could have been done May 1. Even if unlatching the LMRP coupling would not work we all know that unbolting the riser and putting a new coupling and BOP does work. The question is why wasn't that procedure on the agenda.
    I don't know how many times I have read in knowledgeable discussions somebody would suggest fastening a valve stack on top of the defective BOP and shutting in the well. And always the people who should know would say something long the lines "If it was that easy, don't you think they would try that first?".

    The question is -> Why didn't they try that first

    The information I have read is that this was one of the first things that was put in the plan, and it took about 2 1/2 months to build and test the new stack.

    It isn't something you can order off EBay.

    The reason this wasn't done right away was because they didn't have the equipment to do it.

    Do you have evidence of your claims?
    Or is this just another hand waving way of saying "if it were that easy wouldn't they have done that".

    It is my understanding that the Lower marine riser package and the Bop stack are available off the shelf in and around the GOM. In fact it is likely that any drill ship such as the Enterprise that was available would already have a 18-3/4 LMRP and BOP ready to go.

    jinn -- there has never been a BOP designed to deal with the situation like the BP well. That was exactly one of the big failing by my industry: No system designed to deal with a malfunctioned BOP in 5,000' of water. That's the main reason a consortium of major oil companies recently dedicated $1 billion to develop such capabilities.

    jinn -- there has never been a BOP designed to deal with the situation like the BP well. That was exactly one of the big failing by my industry: No system designed to deal with a malfunctioned BOP in 5,000' of water. That's the main reason a consortium of major oil companies recently dedicated $1 billion to develop such capabilities.

    Yes I understand they want design improvements so that the original BOP can be used and controlled remotely (by ROV's) in the event of failure. And there certainly need better fail safe mechanisms to avoid such problems from occurring in the first place.

    But I have not seen any evidence that the BOP that shut in this well is anything special. Or that it needed to be anything special to do what it is doing.

    You are missing the one key piece of information. The disconnect did not work. They could not disconnect. If the disconnect had worked they could have connected new kit but there was no standard kit to do the job anyway. It would need to be built. As Rockman said, that was a failing. Trouble is, by the time the disaster took place, it was too late to recognise that. Sorry but building these beasts take time and the time they did it in is pretty good. Would you have preferred like they did to cause the disaster? BP has 200,000,00 reasons a day to hurry up, they certainly would not have delayed.


    jinn -- I'm pretty sure your right about the original BOP being nothing special. But that was the problem I believe. It was adapting a second BOP/cap to mount on top of the original one. As I understand it that's what took time to build. In retrospect that seems the be THE big failed policy. Obviously no one, the industry or the govt anticipated dealing with a failed BOP at these water depths. I'm sure many clever engineers have already figured multiple design changes that could have made a huge difference in stopping the pollution sooner. Even though I've worked in the oil patch for 35 years I can't cut our industry any slack for this oversight. As been posted before BOP documented failure rate is almost 50%. And wells will blow out. So it was statistically certain that a GOM DW well was going to eventually blow out and the BOP fail. Shell et al can talk all they want about adhering to the safest drilling practices but no one could guarantee this situation would never happen. If you haven't heard a group of Big Oil have formed a consortium that will spend $1 billion developing the next generation of BOP's, capture systems and safer drilling practices. A great idea just a tad late.


    If I may (again) bring up the topic of that Shell video, one of the points stressed by Joe Leimkuhler was that a BOP ought not to be regarded as a barrier, but rather as a control device (18th minute).

    Hence Shell's reliance on other barriers and Joe's emphasis that in his 27 years of drilling, he's never had to activate his shear rams.

    There's no contradiction here... rather, his points complement yours, IMHO.

    I with you there Rick. In fact I'll offer that even Joe's offering is a little overstated. Yes...in the oil patchg we don't really think of a BOP as a barrier but we also don't think of it as much of a control device either. As I said before we've never considered a BOP as the last line of defense..it's the worse line of defense. The two times in my career when the BOP was activated I didn't immediately think "Oh good...we have control". It was "Aw sh*t we're dead". I'm not kidding. Again, all the more reason to come down on BP with a ton of bricks for not adhereing to the safest protocols.

    Thanks, Rockman
    I can't imagine being on one of those drilling rigs on a normal day, let alone when things feel like they are about to go wrong, much less the feeling of being trapped so high up with only water below, when you know things aren't right.
    That business really does require courage (or a devil-may-care attitude, or a bit of both).

    Today I have been examining Chevron's Oil Spill Response Plan for the deepest-ever offshore well in my country.
    CBC ran this story (with link to the Plan, which is a very long download):

    The spill plan is 308 pgs long but only 63 pgs are the plan itself; the other 245 pgs are of Appendices, which are rather interesting to a novice like myself.

    Meanwhile, the info which most Canadians want to know would not be in an oil spill response plan.
    I'm not sure where it would appear (please help on this re title/type of document), but what matters most are preventive measures, not spill response, and that would include BOP design and the string/casing design.

    If I have missed something (and I'm sure I have), please set me straight.

    Along these lines. Is there any reason why they couldn't have removed the original BOP from its adapter and substituted an operative one? I would guess that is a relatively available component, and there would have been no stress on the casing beyond what existed.

    They would have been trading a short-term increase in flow for far better options for reducing the flow than existed at the time. In fact, I would have thought that would be SOP for BOP failure.

    They would have been trading a short-term increase in flow for far better options for reducing the flow than existed at the time. In fact, I would have thought that would be SOP for BOP failure.

    Yes that is my understanding. It is my personal belief that the oil industry pretty quickly picked up on BP's fears that the casing was damaged, simply because they were not pursuing the obvious solution. And the short term increase in flow is also SOP for controlling a blow out. Vent the well and it is very likely to plug itself due to bridging.

    But it turned out the casing wasn't damaged and it was simply from fear of the truth that they did not do what should have been done.

    The BOP was providing some restriction to flow. Removing it would release the full flow of the well, even more than we have seen. There would be no certainty as to being able to remove the BOP cleanly, remember the fears of casing being blown into it? What if it rose 6" and stuck? Many of these operations have a one way route, once you start there is no turning back. What would blow out of the well if totally unconstrained? Would total, uncontrolled flow lead to a collapse? If they have an assortment of pieces of casing, drill pipe etc sticking out the well head how do they remove them or even see them? Can they manoeuvre the new BOP back on? Can they lock it down? They would be trading a position where they have partial flow with some control and methods of remediation for a situation where there is the full fury of the demon, out of control and no way of stopping it. I can see why they hesitated to do that.


    If I remember my history correctly, BOP's were originally designed to make retroactive installation of a valve on a blown-out well unnecessary, but that retroactive installation was the response used prior to the introduction of BOP's. And, in those situations, they were dealing with all of the if's that you cite.

    While the contingencies that you posit are certainly possibilities, all of them have a reasonable likelihood of being addressed with relatively common equipment and procedures, given a relatively minimal amount of forethought and preparation ( which appeared to be in relatively short supply here).

    In my experience (non-oil related) when I screwed up and then tried to cobble together a response, I usually had to backtrack, after the cobble failed, which it did, more often than not, to the point where I had things under control, then start afresh.

    I understand the hesitation, and would not likely come down on the decision makers too hard, unless they were in trouble because they'd wandered off the reservation of established procedures already (as appears to have happened) and were continuing to stay off the reservation of proven responses.

    For me the "never been tried at this depth" comment has always been a weasel. As they have established, and should have known already, nearly everything that could have been done at the surface can be done at depth, it just takes a little longer and more patience. If they didn't already believe that, then they shouldn't have been operating at that depth in the first place.

    If they have an assortment of pieces of casing, drill pipe etc sticking out the well head how do they remove them or even see them? Can they manoeuvre the new BOP back on?

    I think this is gets to a key point that the folks who ask "why wasn't this done on day 1?" either don't get or don't give enough credit.

    Have you ever tried to do a home project, started everything, disassembled, and then discovered you need a new tool, or a different part? Then it's back to the store, maybe several times. And your home project was much simpler than this and required only off-the-shelf parts and tools that you could buy or borrow quickly on a weekend day.

    Now think about what was going on at the seafloor, and how much harder and less predictable results are. They tried cutting through the riser -- their diamond saw stuck on the drillpipe(s?) and they had to make a rough cut with a shearing tool. After the LMRP cap was in place they tried loosening one (1) flange bolt and it took three days.

    Putting aside the question of how long it would take to get parts -- though I don't see how anyone without oilfield experience (like me) would have the cojones to argue with the oilfield guys that "it should be just a few pieces of steel, they should be able to do that in a week", think of the difficulty of all the pieces coming together. They had to do 3 days of fiddling with things to prove they could loosen a bolt; then even after they went back and practiced/simulated everything they were doing, it took several different wrenches to get the bolts unscrewed.

    *Every part* of that operation required not only material purchase but a lot of planning, practice, and exploring contingencies so any backup components and tools would be available. How do you know you can maneuver a replacement piece onto the stream of oil rushing from the pipe? Someone had to do a bit of reckoning to decide that was doable, because you're screwed if you take everything apart and find that some new piece you're trying to install gets batted around too much. And if they had managed to cobble together something, disassembled the BOP, and discovered they couldn't put anything back -- the same guys who are carping about how BP waited unnecessarily would be jumping all over them about having made things worse.

    Rockman, I agree within the context of nothing designed to deal with the BP well. There is no amount of insurance to cover the stupidity of BP mgrs. With what's been presented I don't think it's proper to fault the BOP in this disaster. I think jinn was refering to the special nature many has placed on the BOP and why it took 2 1/2 months to produce/procure. It seemed the removal and replacement of bolts by ROVs was the first challenge to overcome and tools needed to be modified to accomplish the task.

    I think the $1 billion was good faith on part of the four majors but I think it also was intended to relieve pressure on the DW drilling moratorium.

    PS. Actually I don't have experience in your field to disagree. I enjoy your posts, thank you.

    my - I don't think we disagree on much. To be honest, based on just my basic understanding of BOP's, I didn't expect them to develop even partially effective capture system before they got the RW down.

    The package that has been bolted to the top is clearly make up of pre-existing components. Nothing is available "off the self" they are all custom made to order. But there were parts available that could be pressed into service. But even with those having been found the effort to design, validate and construct the total system will have been considerable. It is likely that there are quite a number of custom fabricated parts in the stack, and it seems that the control systems have been custom designed and constructed - again starting with existing systems, but requiring significant effort.

    The issue seems to be that us mere mortals have a lot of trouble with scale. We just never encounter devices on the scale that a BOP or other components are built. We heard earlier from a poster that used to work in procurement for construction of BOPs. Just ordering a slab of steel to construct a component may have a lead time of many months. The steel has to be of the right grade, and steel of the sizes needed simply isn't a stock item. You have to wait until the mill has scheduled a production run of what you want, and ensure you order enough of what you need for the orders you have. Next the machining of components. We are used to the scale of work where a flange can be fabricated on a lathe in a few minutes. But machining doesn't scale. The cutter velocities are dependant upon the material, and are a hard limit. A huge flange may mean a solid week of 24x7 time on an immense lathe. Then you may need to heat treat, probably X-Ray it, and test the thing. It could take two weeks to fabricate even if you had the design and metal ready. And there is no way of speeding this up.

    The package on top of the old BOP didn't exist before the blow out. From the time it was decided that this device was needed, which was probably not apparent until at least two weeks after the accident, it would probably have taken at least a week to locate existing available components and to negotiate their use - after which design could proceed apace. Design would take at least a week, more likely two - since it included control system design. Then fabrication of any needed parts plus assembly and testing - easily take at least another two weeks each. Even with round the clock work.

    Something one learns as a very hard lesson in engineering - it is very easy to confuse a clear view of what needs to be done with the effort need to actually do it.

    Never mistake a clear view of your goal with proximity.

    Don't forget the transition spool - the 8'-12'(?) piece that they actually bolted to the remains of the old LMRP. The capping stack clicked into the spool sort-of like a garden sprayer connects to a hose.

    Is the spool made of off-the-shelf components?

    "Is the spool made of off-the-shelf components?"

    Yes. This isn't the first time Cameron built this unit. It wasn't made special just for BP.

    I have trade mags on my desk for similar items by other companies who manufacture for the oil industry.

    rainyday, Third item on the right. This is the piece that locked onto the yellow pipe.


    In other words you have no idea, but you are willing to make something up on the spur of the moment that says it takes 2.5 months to construct BOP and put it in place. As I understand it there is nothing special about the spool it is the standard component at the top of the BOP that the LMRP latches unto.

    Of course your proof that it takes 2.5 months is that if it could be done faster then it would have been done faster. That argument is completely self serving.

    2.5 months ago, BP was thinking if we unbolt the riser and drop a BOP on top of the old BOP we are only opening up the possibility to reveal the well is leaking under the mud. That belief didn't give them much incentive to hurry. So they ordered a brand new BOP for delivery in early July. And of course they can always claim this is just another example of their "over-abundance of caution". Nobody wants to see the second BOP fail so we will have a brand new one built and won't use just any old ready made BOP.

    As I understand it there is nothing special about the spool it is the standard component at the top of the BOP that the LMRP latches unto.

    Jinn, you are completely wrong. The new stack sits on top of the original flex joint, not a normal or stock option. Not only did the new stack require custom parts, they had to make huge custom tools to install it. It's crazy to think these things can be thrown together quickly. Stack description here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6717

    Jinn you've been a member here for a only a few hours, you haven't read the prior threads or looked at the previously posted descriptions and diagrams, but you feel free to accuse others here of making things up. The contrary is true, you are making things up, and you haven't posted any links to back up your assertions. It is not rainyday or notanoilman or anyone else's job at TOD to do your homework for you. Please do some research before arguing any more with folks who are trying to help you.

    FYI The API is done a very good job of making all the parts that go into this standardized and interchangeable. That means you can take parts and components from different manufacturers and assemble them. The flanges are all standard sizes and thicknesses snd bolt pattern. Even the bolts are standardized. There is no need to do anything but assemble already available components if you are in a hurry. They may not be new components but there is plenty of surplus hardware available. The BOP and LMRP connectors are also standard and designed for easy quick removal and replacement of standard equipment.

    I have looked at the components in your link. I don't see anything that is not a standard component available in various catalogs from various manufacturers and hardware vendors. All of them in the GOM area.

    I didn't say anything about removing the old BOP. I mentioned removing the LMRP and lowereing a second BOP onto the connector is a possibility. The only explanation of why that wasn't considered I have ever seen was that it would be pointless because the well lacked integrity to be shut in.

    Well said, O.B.

    I have a little oilfield experience on land - no subsea - and I saw a lot of cases where what you needed was not on the shelf at National, or anywhere else. Components were available, but capping or plugging wells (what I did) is not a follow the directions enterprise & requires thought, engineering & time to come up with what you need for a particular circumstance.

    Not defending BP, but there has been a lot more than just BP hands working on this - from experience I'm sure all of them were & are highly motivated to get this done as fast as possible.

    Not defending BP, but there has been a lot more than just BP hands working on this - from experience I'm sure all of them were & are highly motivated to get this done as fast as possible.

    Yes, all of them were and are highly motivated to get this done as fast as possible. But that is not a particularly useful observation. I maintain that if BP had a crystal ball and thus had known that they could have shut in the well in the middle of May they would have done so. But since their crystal ball was broken they relied on guessing that a shut-in would not work because they thought the well had leaks. In hindsight it now looks to me like they simply guessed wrong. They weren't they only ones that guessed wrong.

    If you propose the explanation that it took 2.5 months to fabricate a special one-of-a-kind valve that will shut off the flow. That explanation simply doesn't hold up to close scrutiny.

    You don't have to assume that BP was deliberately trying to delay resolution to explain why it took so long. If BP engineers were thoroughly convinced that the well bore was leaking that does explain why the cap was not tried earlier.

    Not 2.5 months to fabricate a one of a kind valve, but not pick it out of a catalogue in one day either. Engineering took time, as well as other factors - ie broken DP, tilted flange etc.

    I live in Mobile, AL & can't fish my favorite spots because of the oil - no one wants it fixed any quicker than I do.

    Let's fix the well & then we can fix the blame...

    Respectfully, tommegee

    O B It isn't appropriate to tell someone how wrong they are then make statements that can't be supported.

    What huge installation tools?

    To name one: the overshoot tool that removed the old riser flange once it was unbolted.

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIyG6gGWB7Q

    Edit: to see the scale, see http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/usa/features/article_1570206.php/...

    If you made the overshot tool BB I would be impressed. My point is this portrayal of genius is what these guys get paid for every day and a weldment to grasp a flange falls flat. If you backtrack I think you will see the overshot tool originally/initially was designed for another purpose. It was a retrofitted tophat.

    Huge tools? I forgot about the milk carton with the leg slits.

    If you made the overshot tool BB I would be impressed.

    That's a bit snarky isn't it? Bit of a high standard too, IMHO.

    Also, you have a small of a factual error. What I have found is that "overshot tool" is term of a class of tools used in the oil field. There have been several totally different overshot tools mentioned in various phases of this event and has led to some confusion on what piece of iron was which.

    You can see a picture of one of the other overshot tools in the Kent Wells tech briefing handout at http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in...

    See the labeled picture on page 8. (Edit: described as "58” Diameter, 34’ Tall, 75 Tons with steel walls 10 inches thick". See the inside during its fabrication on page 9 of http://www.bp.com/IntermediateSearchAction.do?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bp.co...) This was not the same overshot tool used to remove the riser flange.

    The specific overshot tool used to remove the old riser flange was custom designed and fabricated at National Oilwell (as I read somewhere).

    There is a better view on page three of the link I posted earlier:


    Yes, these folks do this stuff everyday but it doesn't mean it come into being instantly is my point. You don't just order overshoot tool #3106 out of a catalog. This tool was custom designed and fabricated and took a bit of time even though it is "just steel;" it was still precision fabricated.

    Seems like, if these parts are all custom made, then anything they adapted must have been made for someone else. That means they must have negotiated with the original customers who now have to wait while the parts they needed are made again. An example of the little, behind-the-scenes things that contribute to the time needed. No doubt there are a million little things like that, all of which added time to the project.

    Edit: And maybe that's something that should be addressed in the future. Every well is different and will need some custom stuff, but it seems to me that a lot of the equipment could and should be standardized so replacements would be easier to get. That should work to the financial advantage of oil companies as well.

    I think that people who are having a hard time imagining 2.5 month lead times for something like the new riser stack should consider what the lead time is for ordering an automobile with custom options. All off the shelf parts already in the supply chain yet it still takes months.

    The new riser stack is a LOT bigger and a LOT more custom.

    Could you explain where you got this "understanding", have you ever seen this equipment, do you know its standard lead time? And where exactly is this shelf that holds 4 story equipment?

    Here's a link to a supplier I deal with; http://www.kellypipe.com

    The components sit on the warehouse floor and in the suppliers yard due to weight restrictions. Manufacturers and fabricators purchase the parts and assemble them to construct LMRP assemblies. No I don't manufacture LMRPs but jinn is correct in her comments on standard parts used to construct the BOP. The spoon was constructed to deal with the drill pipe jammed in the BOP rams. It was still standard pipe compatible with flanges, bolt patterns/centers and sizes used by the oil industry.

    This link by oilfield brat supports syncro's position on BP deviation from the plans. There is no logical position to transfer responsibility for delays to federal agencies. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6717

    Lead time is no mystery in the industry if that happens to be something that applies to your occupation. If the lead time happens to be 12 months that means there are that many people in front of you and it also applies to the special order of an automobile. Do I work out deals to reduce lead time, yes you bet I do. I email the PO with the adjusted price for your approval and you send a check to motivate us.

    Adding a second BOP to the wild well was considered early on.

    When DD2 arrived on site to begin work on RW2, it carried two BOPs on board - one for use on RW2 and one for potential use on top of the wild well stack. The initial plan was for the BOP to go on top after a successful top kill. To that end, while mud was being pumped from Q4000, work on RW2 was suspended so that DD2 could move closer to the WW. When the top kill effort was halted due to concern over potential damage to the casing in the WW, they apparently decided against placing the BOP, presumably due to the same concern over worsening the condition of the casing, and DD2 returned to working on RW2.

    they apparently decided against placing the BOP, presumably due to the same concern over worsening the condition of the casing, and DD2 returned to working on RW2.


    Yes I agree. This is my understanding of the official explanation also.

    But the problem with that logic is putting a stack on the well does not compel you to close the valve. But it does allow you more control and it does permit making a determination as to whether there is a problem with well integrity in controlled way.

    As far as I can tell the only reason they didn't put a BOP stack on much earlier is because BP (and maybe the government too) expected there was lack of casing integrity. They spent 2 months poking around the sea floor looking for a leak(s) and when they finally came to the realization there was no leaks they went ahead with the BOP. In hindsight there is every reason now to believe it would have worked had they pursued that option earlier.

    They didn't know in May if a BOP would end the leak but they did know it would lead to answers to questions about well integrity. It looks to me like they didn't want to know.


    Folks - all of you are forgetting a critical issue in the timeline.

    The flex joint was bent from the break down of the original riser.

    The flex joint had to be straightened and stabilized to put a new bop on top of the old one.

    They finally developed special made wedges and jacks to achieve that. This had to be tested on land and then in subsea - it certainly took a lot of time to come up with idea, make this stuff, test it and to apply it.

    Besides that - one could NOT, as someone asserted above, just replace the old bop. The old bop limited the flow from the well. Without it the flow might have been 100k barrel per day and to but a new bop back onto such a stream would likely have been impossible.

    Then why wasn't the flex joint just replaced? It was suspect after the riser yanked on it. Why leave it?

    Yes dealing with the flex joint sounds like it may be first valid objection I have read in this thread. However having never seen any reference to why the entire LMRP package was not removed I can't judge whether the straightening the flex joint was something that really needed to be done or was just another stall since they had nothing better to do.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that they waited until the relief well was close to completion before installing the valve stack. According to BP and Adm Allen the stack was intended solely to aid in collection and to assist the bottom kill. As far as BP's (or Allen's) thinking went there was no point in installing the BOP before it was needed. Neither the collection facilities or the relief well were yet completed.

    I think the people at BP were very surprised when the new BOP was able to affect a shut in.

    To me it looks like BP made a bad judgment call. If they had made it top priority they could have capped this thing earlier. BP didn't believe a second BOP would be able to shut the well in so they made no particular effort to do it as soon as possible.

    Standard Disclaimer: I really am not an oilman.

    My thinking is this:

    They suspected casing damage earlier on, even if they had been able to cap, they wouldn't have had a backup plan, none, in case there was a failure further down.

    Now, they have been able to cap it, but they still suspect casing damage, but, if it all goes egg-shaped, the RW is ready to start a bottom-kill op. ASAP. They now have a valid second option, something it seems BP didn't have during the initial blowout, well, they did, but it didn't work.

    If they'd put a valve or new BOP on the well in week 1, the flood of "turn-it-off"s would have been immense, and the public doesn't understand why they might have wanted to wait. Eventually they would have "turned it off" and with no Plan B in place, if it blew out at the bottom, we'd all be much deeper in oil than we are now.

    I think waiting on the cap was wise, and displayed forethought.

    Aam I the only one here who read that it took 80 days to construct?

    Sport, It didn't take 80 days to construct. This is when it arrived on site. I don't think the new BOP with spool attachment was BPs first thought.

    Indecision, indecision, indecision up to the point they did a sonar "3D MRI" of the well.


    Meanwhile, a so-called top-kill procedure designed to overwhelm the well by pumping in heavy mud at high pressure was aborted at the end of May over fears it might damage the well's casing.

    At that point, BP returned to the idea of installing a new blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon's BOP.

    But the idea was vetoed again, this time by federal officials. They feared it could cause a buildup in pressure and trigger an underground blowout, which might further damage the well.

    A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy said a number of technical issues had to be sorted out before the well could be capped.

    The current seal on the well is effectively a variation on the BOP idea. BP said it took so long to deploy because the seal had to be built from scratch, a process that normally takes years.

    The guy who individually bears the greatest responsibility for the majority of oil in the gulf is Steven Chu, who stopped the original top kill when it was about to succeed. Now how are the experts going to make the well safe? With a top kill of course!

    BP can't call him out due to the threat of huge fines and being shut out of the U.S.market. But I can! Come on coward, make a public appearance before the press! FDGB!!!! Even the NY Times had a story where you admitted stopping the top kill was against the advice of the real experts. Explain your decisions to the American people. We're not buying the you do't want to get into the "woulda, shoulda, coulda". You coulda kept your big mouth shut!

    original top kill when it was about to succeed



    BT, I'm guessing you didn't watch any of the John Guide testimony. I get your point on why not give BP free rein but then again I think they did up until May 20, 2010.

    Nice try, but I have to challenge your criticism of Dr. Chu. I have seen nothing to suggest that he has played any other than a perfectly appropriate role in the response to this disaster. Perhaps you have some insider information that you haven't yet cited, but I haven't seen it.

    Lat's assume that Dr. Chu is making the kinds of decisions that you say he is, and that BP are the only ones he's consulting with (although we know there are several others involved). How does the process go? As a decision maker he has to base his decision on information. Where does he get that information? From BP. How does he decide the significance of a piece of information? Based upon BP's analysis. When he decides he doesn't have enough information to make a sound decision, he asks for more. When BP disagrees with a decision, they make sure he is told that they disagree, and told why. If he makes some off-the-wall decision like "we can't shut off the flow today because it's my birthday," then they make noise about that to whoever they have to so as to get him to change his mind. All of this is pretty generic executive dynamics, that anybody with reasonably effective management skills could undertake and perform. The reason he was picked? He's brilliant, and almost certainly does not have any personal agenda.

    His role is oversight. He's there to make sure that the decisions made are not influenced by concerns like cost, or self-protection, or other factors unrelated to the process of solving this problem. He's smart enough to come up to speed on all the context very quickly, probably sooner than he began to exercise any significant control. And, since he's smart he's absorbing information from a number of sources before he makes his decisions (which by the way, are probably not nearly as difficult to understand as some of his management positions or the research or which yielded his Nobel Prize have been).



    I'm not buying that argument. The best thing for everyone included is to cap the well. In fact, they should be doing the static kill. Who cares how much flowed out previously. Letting it all out now because of some superstition is stupid. Just because some bean counter wants to stick it to BP. They will get theirs. Last week the American taxpayer was put on the hook for another 40 billion dollars just for unemployment and you want to blow oil all over the beach just so we can bill BP their fair amount?

    RE: My post from yesterday:

    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.

    Sorry it took a while to figure out how to post these images.

    Here is a single frame:
    You can see that Skandi Neptune has the tag line Herc 06 Gas sampling and is holding an inverted funnel (A TINFOIL HAT!!) to the left of one of those long arms that sticks out from the well casing. Previously there were shiny bubbles (putatively Nitrogen?) emanating from the end of one of those arms, but I'm looking at dark blobs that rise from near the bottom of the frame, below the funnel, and mostly get captured by it. There are 3 of them in this frame, but you need to look at the video to see them clearly and watch them rise.

    Here is a video clip, captured by videolan:

    [edit to reduce video file size]

    This and GMF's video are the only ones i've seen that clearly depict oil escaping from the seabed or around the BOP.

    So, there at least appears to be a progression of seepage both from the ground and from the components of the cap.

    What's it going to look like in 2 weeks if this progression continues? Is anyone concerned about that who may not have had concerns a few days ago? I ask that sincerely.

    I hate that my video is so bad, but I did notice that during the 15 min I was watching that the seeps were over a larger area, as the ROV moved the view several times.

    Anyone have any idea why my video saved upside down and in a different color? It must be an evil BP plot. ;)

    GMF: My geeky children turned me on to the VLC player (http://www.videolan.org/) as a way to avoid the Evil Empire's substandard products. Use Shift-R to toggle recording on/off.

    As for why your video saved upside-down, I suspect Simmons' lake of liquid asphalt is causing a gravitational lensing of the Oregon Vortex that opens a portal to one of those parallel universes that some of the String Theorists fantasize about.

    This and GMF's video are the only ones i've seen that clearly depict oil escaping from the seabed or around the BOP.

    Kevinincredulous posted a similar video yesterday:

    IIRC Allen stated a few days ago that there was a sixth leak found at the BOP site, I'd go find it but I'm at home and have no access to bloomberg here...The screencap bothers me showing the leak in HO's post but I'm not technically astute enough to undestand all the ramifications except to speculate that if they don't lower the pressure it could undermine the static kill and RW, someone pls feel free to correct me.

    Also I missed this last night so thought I'd address it today:

    andyimages on July 23, 2010 - 7:40pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top 200ppm has been found on the beach in Pensacola where children are wading...

    This was not at P-Cola Beach, it was in Alabama-IIRC either Orange Beach or GS.

    These videos may show you what they are now calling Super metal eating Fire bugs.. I am not kidding you..lol


    Thanks, Moonbeam. BP engineered the storm so that they can detonate the nuclear device they've installed in the BOP, to kick off the NWO agendas. The storm is a perfect cover. It's easy to figure out their simple plan by reading a few psychotic blogs.

    This all makes sense after watching

    Even funnier are some of his other vids.

    When I kept noticing the different transformations of the original cap I began thinking that these bugs were going out and collecting DNA from different fish and reptiles and coming back to the cap they had made into a huge nest and they were then transforming the metal with what ever DNA they had collected...


    I want to know where these people are getting the really entertaining drugs

    LMAO~I had never seen that one.....I do wish they'd share where they got those great mind altering drugs and share, otherwise I'm left with beer and Patron!

    Well, we know the public's ability to imagine paranoid fantasies is real healthy, even if critical thinking is nearly dead.

    NOAA head Dr. Jane Lubchenco participated with Adm. Allen in his noon press briefing and reportedly explicitly stated that the storm is not a vacuum cleaner and will not be picking up oil etc that it will later disperse as rain.

    Of course, the doomers will consider her statement just more gov't deception.

    Interesting that the head of NOAA Dr. Jane Lubchenco would comment on such nonsense when there are so many other worth while things she could report on.

    She really lowered herself and her agency and her knowledge base by doing so.

    People on here have been asking for officials and academics to respond to some of the wild claims and one finally did. She's likely aware that some Gulf residents are taking the toxic rain stories seriously and are truly afraid. I don't think that by reassuring them she "lowered herself and her agency."

    Now the claims that the seafood is safe I'm not so sure about.

    I guess she might know there are a handful of people that have watched that ignorant oil rain video and thought it was true.

    But what I am really sure of is she knows there thousands of people with real concerns of real matters her department is supposed to be gathering evidence on and releasing to the public and have not been doing it.

    Instead of talking about the real concerns like the reason there is still a fishing ban in such a large area they chose to talk about nonsense.

    Stick to the Patron, Blue Agave is kinder on the head the next day.


    The first clue is the narrator stating he was on "Pacific time". Think Left Coast. Think LALA land. I believe the brain eating DNA stealing creatures have inundated the water AND air supplies there. ;)

    Are those dark blobs oil or are they shadows of bubbles? Seems to me like the light source is coming from the camera and behind it is the well casing. To my eyes, it looks like the dark blobs could be shadows of bubbles on the well casing.

    Nice clear video, BTW. Congratulations on your capture.

    I currently have 234 gigabytes of oil spill stuff stored on my hard drive, but unfortunately, I missed saving that sequence.

    I wonder if there is an archive of ROV videos somewhere?

    I did a google search and found a hit at http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CBoQFjAC&url=http%3A... but when I try to open it, it says The page you are looking for may have moved or has expired.

    I tried using the Wayback machine but I got We're sorry, access to http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CBoQFjAC&url=http%3A... has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.

    James: I've got about 30 min more of that video clip. All looks pretty much the same. What does it show?
    (a) blobs
    (b) shadows
    (c) metal munching moon mice.

    I vote for (a), but wouldn't bet much against (b).

    Yay, Nubs! Nice shot!

    From todays Coast Guard hearing testimony it sounds like the "A, B and C chairs all had problems with the BSOD" In other words they ran Microsoft Windows NT and the computers would crash and blue screen.
    The last version of Microsoft NT was released in 1996. I work in IT so I see lots of old hardware and software but I can think of much more stable platforms to run such critical systems on. Anyone want to comment about what rigs usually use for OS on the chair computers. Mike Williams testified that if all chairs failed then the only option was abandon ship.
    I can think of several OS's that I would trust about 1000X more than NT to run in such a critical job. Yes they would have to port and probably rewrite some software. I have had machines I managed that ran continuously for over 3 years, and got worked hard. Definitely not running NT.

    Linux/Unix is the preferred platform/OS IMO.
    If I was contacted as a consultant for this platform(NT) I would refuse the contract right out of the gate.

    Also Linux is free and can be easily modified. Well you pay a small amount of change for the Distro but the source is available which means you can debug it yourself and add fixes/enhancements as need be. Otherwise one is at the mercy of MSFT. A bad way to be in a critical environment. You NEED your own guru and team if you are going to rely on Personal Computers for your work requirements.

    To do otherwise is very foolhardy.

    If they are determined to run MSFT platforms then 7 is the best. Vista is utterly worthless and XP not much better. Below this you are in fantasy land.

    NT was the choice of enterprises way,way back in the runup to Y2K. I thought this version had reached its usable lifespan long long ago.

    This to me means that they are not as savvy as I thought they would be. Too bad.

    Are the current systems PLC based with HMI?

    We don't know enough about the system to judge if the OS selection was appropriate. We dont know if it was a fault within NT, or a recent hardware issue, or a recent software update causing the problem. NT wouldn't have been my first choice either, just saying.

    Watching the testimonies I'm getting a general feeling that Trans Ocean IT practices are terrible.

    1. The conversion from the Impact system to the RMS system was handled very badly. Much better QA (if any existed) should have been performed to make sure the data migration was correct. This points to poor QA within the TO IT systems.

    2. An upgrade to the the drilling software (the NT system) is being implemented on the DWH sister ship, and they delayed implementation on the DWH because of the serious problems encountered on the sister ship. To me this implied very poor testing and QA of the software.

    In my 30+ years of IT experience the lack of QA for these critical systems points to a very serious failure in TO management of IT systems.

    Anyone round here work in IT for oil/gas? Do the MMS have regulations relating to software quality? I'm used to the FDA rules which are very strict on how you design/manage your IT systems.

    Even though I am a long time IT guy I was going to lurk on this one. Until I hit the wikianswers to this question.

    Q. What is the most reliable operating system?
    A. The love of a mother for her child.

    It is amazing how everyone determined the reason for blue screens was because they weren't running Linux for their OS. Maybe, but there is no way that is enough information to go on. There is so much software and hardware involved in that situation, even if they had OS issues, what role did it really play? The investigation needs to continue, but even if they used a tube computer if it had redundancy and proper performance characteristics for the application who cares? It is an extreme example, and though the OS may be critical, so are many, many other things.

    I agree that we don't know enough about the systems to judge the OS selection. I hope more information will come out eventually.

    One of the consulting firms I have used also designs old-field automation and robotic systems for drill rigs going back to the 1970s. I never looked too deeply at these systems (out of my field) but did have some sidebar conversations with this firm about these systems out of my own curiosity. They indeed used general operating systems in their architecture but not as real-time process controllers but as the backends and for user interfaces for lots of disparate real-time controllers in the frontend that actually ran the machinery.

    I guess (and it is a guess) is that there is a similar architecture here.

    I am a bit surprised that they were still using NT for the chair computers. I too still have a few NT systems in my network but usually because we can't get updates for more a modern OS from the company making the application software running on these NT systems. It is usually caused by the fact that the company making the application software (1) no longer supports the application or (2) has gone out of business. In my case, we're still using the old NT-bases application but NOT IN CRITICAL applications; we only use the old NT-based tools because they are nice tools to have but we NEVER use out-date application software (or unsupported OS software/drivers) where our reliability is at stake.

    Yes, every year, we have to spend a certain amount of money removing obsolete componets from the system. While it is a pain, it is a pretty basic best practice in all high-reliability environments.

    Another issue about old OS-based systems is that it is getting increasingly difficult to find peripheral drivers for some of these old NT systems too or to find GOOD DRIVERS, fully tested for NT. As all OSs in this era, NT crashes can often be traced directly to its third-party drivers. Bad drivers are the most common cause for the BSOD (blue screen of death).

    Just why these old systems are still being used may turn out to be one of the "smoking guns" about reliability for such critical systems in TO and perhaps this industry (and other places as well.) I wonder how many CTOs in are starting to look at their own systems today.

    My network had about a thousand NT servers in it during the NT period and I actually found NT to be a very stable OS (for its vintage) if (1) you had good systems engineers running them and (2) you used best practices. We also ran a fair number of NT Workstation and had similar experiences. I don't want to start a religious war on OS selection but I have a large-scale mixed environment of MSFT, Linux and Sun Unix in a "five-nines" environment (99.999%) for high-availability telcom – core and access networks and find them all to have about the same reliability when used with best practices and are well engineered/operated.

    Yes, the 2010 system/application/driver software is far more reliable and easier to maintain than 1996-vintage systems.

    Replying to this just so we don't have to hit it again every time we refresh.

    (You're welcome.)

    Sorry, I'm stuck on a small wireless device and have to edit typos by editing the post which makes it appear as "new"

    One question is 'were those systems updated?'. If they were the original build systems then the Linux was probably a no go, at that time, and the system of choice would have been Unix. At that time, for anything critical, Unix was the first choice anyway (as GP OS, excluding specialist control machines).


    I make my living programming, don't trust full blown computers for highly critical tasks. There is a level of complexity that simply cannot even come close to being fully verified no matter what standards, certifications or what not it has. Windows is about the worst choice possible because of frequent crashes. However even with a hypothetical perfect OS, its very easy to introduce software bugs.

    Put good old fashioned helm controls on the bridge some place. Even if all they do is communicate to micro controllers on thrusters atleast you've bypassed most of the complexity.

    There is a famous medical cancer treatment/X ray device that failed and fried people with radiation. Originally it had a mechanical interlock to protect it from unsafe operation. After a number of years of working properly this interlock was removed to save money. Turns out the software had been regularly crashing all along attempting to put the device into an unsafe configuration.

    A few years ago I built a large format 22 foot long scanning device. Didn't even for a
    second think of putting the limit sensors straight into the computer. First stop for the signal was old school TTL logic gates that gated the signal to the motor relays. Saved no end of troubles. Computer crashs didn't result in crashing the camera. Would have been a big pain in the butt as as it would rip the timing belt out of the camera assembly.

    For some neat Persian rug scans see www.internetrugs.com :-)

    Never trust your life or a ship or the ocean to a computer, especially not windows!

    The system was the Therac 25. Nancy Levenson wrote a devastating critique of the saga which is required reading for any software engineering course. We used to hand the article out at the start of semester. Read this and weep: http://sunnyday.mit.edu/papers/therac.pdf

    There are high quality real time control kernels which are used for safety critical and super reliable control. Have a think about what is happening in your car next time you drive. My car has over 50 processors in it, and a computer in the way on almost every control. Down to computer throttle control. It is scary if you think about it. OTOH, the amount of money and testing that can go into a car is astounding. Ironically, the amount of care, testing, and effort that goes into the control systems for a half billion dollar drilling platform is a lot less.

    Have a think about what is happening in your car next time you drive. My car has over 50 processors in it, and a computer in the way on almost every control. Down to computer throttle control. It is scary if you think about it.

    Good luck with that. My car has a computer controlled fuel injection and ignition system. Other than the radio, that's it. Cable operated throttle, no ABS. I'm an electrical engineer who designs products for high reliability in harsh environments. The doors don't lock themselves, the lights don't turn themselves on or off, the temperature is controlled by me turning a dial (a shocking amount of effort that takes, too!).

    All that stuff is in your car because you feel you need it, and that determines how you will spend your money. You may wish to believe it is as reliable as a simple manual system, but complexity always has its costs. Look into that crash of the Airbus that was going from Rio to France, where the pilots were desperately trying to reboot the flight control computer when it crashed after receiving inputs from the airspeed probes that it didn't understand.

    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.
    Comments can no longer be added to this story.

    You got me, JTF. Are you suggesting the components may have been contaminated with moisture from storage, resulting in defective mix?

    The best I have been able to piece together given the limitations of my knowledge is that:

    1) it was going to be difficult to get a good cement job with that production casing under the best of circumstances; and

    2) they did not prepare the well for optimal cementing conditions, and

    3) the mix was not the right one for the job, either because it was more vulnerable to mud contamination, or to poor well conditions for bonding; or

    4) they did not pump enough given conditions at TD.

    Am I close?

    Eureka, I have found it!
    Look at page 6 of the Transocean preliminary report http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/Transocean.DWH.Intern...

    "16.7 ppg cement in shoe track over 14 ppg mud in open hole beneath the 7" shoe


    That is why the two drawings are different. The first one shows only cement (in yellow) and the second shows the 14 ppg mud in green around the cement.

    I'd think having the cement shoe "fall out" would destroy its usefulness! The oil U-turns down from the formation and back up the production casing. Remove the overpressure due to mud in the riser by displacing it with sea water and


    Hi Bruce Thompson
    Could you please elaborate. That is, post the relevant excerpt and your take on it. Some of us need help!. cheers juan.

    He means the cement was denser than the mud beneath it and thus it sank into the mud; it fell out the bottom. If the mud had been equal or greater density, that could not have happened in theory.

    Happy vacation, syncro. We'll miss you, but you're entitled. Look out, trout!

    Bruce, Don't forget there is one additional piece of information that goes with the data you are discussing. The cement tests showed zero compressive strength at 24 hrs. So, pressure testing and the differential tests, which started well before 24 hours probably contributed to the failed cement job.

    I totally agree, it was the other point listed by TO.

    What is very curious is why there are two different drawings for one well with the same date, but different data. The location of the mud v. the cement is the difference, which is why I focused on that. But your point about cure time is also important.

    If the cement had zero compressive strength, it presumably could have flowed and created its own flow orifice which would have hardened with time. I would not assume the formation is at a pressure any lower than it was at the start during any relief well operations. You know what they say, When you assume you make an ass out of you and me. Better safe than sorry!!

    Do you agree with this?




    P.S. What do you think of using an alarm acknowledge with a time delay on the original alarm (say one minute delay). The alarm goes to the duty watch for acknowledgement, but if they do not acknowledge in 60 seconds the alarm goes off automatically.

    Or having daily test alarms during the shift change. When I was a kid the volunteer fire department horn went off every day at noon and 6 PM. Every day!!!

    I had a monitoring station network with attendants and a master alarm system. It also had a box that went off in my house. It used a part of a ISDN circuit I had at the time. The alarm went off with a bell then the bell quit, but the light stayed on until the problem was fixed. If I was the top Operations Manager of Transocean or BP, I would have a similar IP based setup. Use a 60 watt bulb. Problems would get fixed.

    This is one of my favourite areas. So I'll try my interpretation.

    Old traditional cement.

    Disadvantages to the cement company.
    * Painful and expensive to store.
    * Expensive to ship.
    * Total pain to handle huge quantities needed.

    Disadvantages to driller:
    * You need a lot of it.
    * Takes a long time to pump = money
    * heavy, abrasive, and lots of it - wrecks equipment = time and money.

    Advantage: proven and reasonably safe.

    New fangled cement:

    Advantage to cement company.
    * Lightweight, easy to store, easy to transport.
    * Can charge lots more because the drill company can save money with it.
    * Probably subject to various patents.

    Advantage to driller:
    * Don't use nearly as much (even though it is far more expensive)
    * Saves time = money
    * Saves wear and tear on equipment = time and money

    Disadvantage: not as proven and not as safe.

    Sadly one sees exactly this equation play out in many many places.

    In the last thread, bignerd said:

    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)........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.....What this boils down to is that from exploration drilling right through to production, things NEVER go quite as planned.......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.

    Well said indeed. Most people outside the industry don't really have a grasp on how complex, multi-faceted, and underconstrained a situation like this is. This understandably leads to a great deal of impatience with the seeming lack of progress.

    This in no way excuses or minimizes the monumental f#%k up on the part of BP and Transocean that caused 11 deaths and this environmental disaster. But solving the problem is not nearly as simple, obvious, and straightforward as many seem to think.

    you got to wonder about the similarities between BP's macondo (and the ensuing hullabaloo, complete with doomer porn and shills) and the macondo of Gabriel García Márquez's one hundred years of solitude.

    you got to wonder: who names these operations, who plans these operations?

    the absurdity and stupidity, the predictability, the confusion (planned and otherwise) and the deceit... it's too much.

    i started rereading one hundred years of solitude, and crapped out after a few pages... the book now occupies the place of ultimate disgrace... as the prop under my wrist-breaking computer keyboard... it was just too real to handle.


    You a rotorhead? If so, what equipment are you current on? Did you hear about the guy whose collective disconnected at the tranny at about 45% Q while on final to a platform? Made a successful go-around, flew back to Patterson, LA & made a great running landing at 60kts.

    Now that's a pilot....

    didnt hear about that, probably because i've been retired since the summer of 2000.

    most of my career was spent looking for energy (seismic and survey) and firefighting, mostly in french stuff --alouette IIIs and lamas.

    my first offshore experience was not until way late --late 90s-- and i got to admit that the first time i landed on a big production platform in the gulf, i was terrified --not fear so much as horror at the misappropriation of human will, effort and intellect represented by that thing.

    it just seemed bone-deep wrong... still does.

    The incident I am referring to took place about 10 days ago - read it on the NTSB page. One hell of a job - can you imagine trying to fly with no control over collective position? A guy I know (Coastie HH60 driver) who is familiar with the incident said the collective had no friction - just flopped up & down with the slightest touch.

    Glad you made it to retirement - has your back recovered yet?

    about the collective friction... huh! was it some kind of newfangled helicopter that the friction was elsewhere than on the collective itself?

    my back's been fine since i started sleeping on the floor with no mattress... thanks for asking.

    Collective system became disconnected AT the input bellcrank on the transmission itself - the collective was then a totally useless piece of metal with a throttle twist on the end of it, hahaha.

    A/C was a fairly new Bell 206L4 - knowing personally how pilots like to be in control of things, I can imagine a pretty high anxiety level in the right front seat of that ship.

    Have trained for autos, engine failures, etc - never heard of this scenario.

    Glad about your back - ever know a helicopter pilot with a GOOD back?

    yeah, i misunderstood your use of the word "friction"... there's a friction adjustment on the collective that adjusts the amount of resistance to collective movements, and if the helicopter is rigged right, you can tighten the collective friction down a little, and take your hand off the collective to do back exercises, and the collective will stay where you put it...

    that's in the old-timey helicopters i'm familiar with... got no time in L4s.

    actually, i thought my back problems were mostly due to guitar playing...


    Still pretty much the same as far as friction goes - I shoulda been clearer.

    Best back exercise I ever did while flying was friction up the collective, change left hand to cyclic, put right hand behind lower back & inhale & exhale several times while saying "damn my back hurts."

    Know what you mean - 4 big guys in a single turbine L1 on a`95F day with 90% humidity - does "well controlled crash" stir any memories?

    Nice talking to you - sure we'll meet again here...

    one thing that made me believe in peak oil was the lengths people go to to find energy.

    north of the magnetic north pole on the sea ice? ...where anything you found couldnt be brought to market because of the ice? ...what the hell was that about? ...in 1976?

    a million helicopters buzzing around in the rockies, in 10 or 12 thousand foot terrain, watching b52s cruise past below you, hoping to hell none of those yahoos runs into your longline, shooting line for different companies, with the lines within spitting distance of each other? in the eighties?

    guys yarding little drills into the deepest amazon jungle? ...or 14,000 feet up into the chilean andes?

    survey flights with sensors aboard that supposedly detect uranium? ...at four mile intervals and 400 feet over the whole state of new york and maine?

    what the hell?

    seismic videos youtube long line

    part of my problem with the offshore work was the chintzy outfits i was working for... i mean, you dont send a load of people a hundred miles offshore in an overloaded single-engine bell 206.

    but another part of my problem was my attitude... i didnt knuckle under so good, worked seasonally, and had better things to do than sweep out the hanger in the off season.

    when i ran out of money, i'd get on the phone and it usually took about a hundred dollars of calls to find a job, and i'd take the first one offered.

    not good.

    i started rereading one hundred years of solitude, and crapped out after a few pages ... it was just too real to handle

    Interesting. I devoured that book and even took Spanish for a few years with the goal of reading Cien Años in the original. (Never quite made it but enjoyed the knowledge anyhow, though it's pretty deep into atrophy now, alas.)

    i remember laughing my ass off the first time i read it... at least for the first little while, and then it got oppressive.

    but i had the same problem with catch 22...

    and this time around, with one hundred years, the absurdity became overwhelming, with no comic relief, in just a few pages.

    it could be i've been paying too much attention to things since 9/11, and my sense of... whatever ...has atrophied.

    Catch-22 is oppressive

    Your toes are dirty.

    /kicks bladestall in the balls. BladeStall folds, moaning in agony because indeed, his toes are dirty.

    maybe that's the way it's always been... the cream rises, establishes an empire and turns to scum, the truth becomes intolerable and the empire collapses.

    the scum gets away with the loot, and hides out until the dust settles.

    maybe i dont need to read about it, seeing as how i'm living in it.

    It's scum from the start. That's why it works so hard to stay on top. It would never get there naturally.

    I hope I didn't insult you. You're right about Catch 22 being real and therefore oppressive. Your comment just made me think of one of my favorite bits from the book, where Dunbar kicks everybody in the balls.

    ...where Dunbar kicks everybody in the balls.

    i've forgotten that part... and i havent had the slightest inclination to reread catch 22, last reading in the ...70s?

    i remember badgering my dad to read that book because it was so funny... he was stationed in north africa and italy during WW II... i couldnt understand, then, why he refused to read it, but i do now.

    if the system is properly set up, i guess the cream is spotted, coopted and turned to scum before it can do any damage to the system.

    those who are able are obliged to prey on those who are unable to prevent it.

    those who choose to be neither prey nor predator are cast out.

    this is getting pretty cheerful...

    Slightly off topic, but relevant to safety. The NYT is reporting that Mike Williams, chief electronics technician of the Deepwater Horizon, says that the general safety (emergency?) alarm was silenced at the time of the initial blowout.
    It had been waking people up in the middle of the night and generally annoying them. This seems reminiscent of those pesky methane alarms which were habitually bypassed in coal mines so that they'd stop bothering people.

    A comment and reply from the previous thread:

    NotFromBoston on July 23, 2010 - 10:49pm
    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

    Speaker To Animals on July 23, 2010 - 11:43pm
    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.

    The video was originally shot by John Wathen (hccreekkeeper). Here's it is, as posted on his own website:
    As you can see, it's just a July 19th overflight of the Gulf spill region.

    NotFromBoston linked to a video by "PropheticSeer." It's a deceitfully edited hodgepodge of several of Wathen's vids.

    But anyway, it's interesting to compare Wathen's June 21st overflight --
    -- with his latest. Things appear to have improved quite a lot.

    Truman,cold war escalation, Aberdeen, Armored Cav.
    "I won't wear beige
    cuz it will show my age,
    but I will wear blue
    for the red white and blue."
    wear: To carry or have on the person as covering, adornment, or protection.


    ... Just how much oil remains in the Gulf is uncertain, but the surface slick has visibly shriveled in the eight days since BP finally corralled its raging well.

    The day before BP closed the last valve to seal the flow, skimmers slurped up 25,000 barrels, most of it oil. By late last week, daily volume skimmed had plunged to 56 barrels, half of it water. NOAA's trajectory maps also showed a dramatic reduction in both the size of the slick and the density.

    It remains undetermined how much oil lies beneath the surface in "plumes" that BP initially denied existed.

    In a report issued Friday, NOAA confirmed that clouds of oil now stretch throughout the Gulf at depths of 3,300 to 4,300 feet, carried through the Gulf by its natural currents.

    Those plumes are probably too deep to be churned to the surface by a storm the size of Bonnie, said Nick Shay, a physical oceanographer at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

    Hollander's USF's study, however, also found a 100-foot thick plume much closer to the surface, one-quarter of a mile deep, 45 miles north-northeast of the well.

    .A storm of Bonnie's strength might churn the ocean with enough force to force an "upwelling" that draws cool water closer toward the surface from as deep as 300 to 600 feet.

    "If there are shallow subsurface plumes, we should see them after this," Shay said.

    The discussion on likely scale of BP's liability costs is fascinating. But what if it is found that Transocean was at fault and the way the rig was run was the basic cause of the spill disaster? See latest testimony of operatives who worked on the rig, alarms disabled etc. Also BP's past audits of the rig's maintenance and list of remedial action that was necessary. These are murky waters indeed and we are only at the very beginning of the investigation.

    Donald - I believe the way it works is that the operator is still financially responsible for the spill. If they can get relief by suing the responsible party then so be it. The MMS doesn't care to get into exactly who caused the problem. They leave that up to the individual players and the courts.

    Mike Williams, who is telling congress that some of alarms were dismantled by Transocean and testifying to other safety problems with Transocean, also previously stated on 60 minutes

    Williams says, that during a safety meeting, the manager for the rig owner, Transocean, was explaining how they were going to close the well when the manager from BP interrupted. "I had the BP company man sitting directly beside me. And he literally perked up and said 'Well my process is different. And I think we're gonna do it this way.' And they kind of lined out how he thought it should go that day. So there was short of a chest-bumping kind of deal. The communication seemed to break down as to who was ultimately in charge," Williams said.

    In the end as I understand it BP overruled Transocean and seawater was pumped in to close the well. This is believed to be one of the actions that led to the blowout.

    I think there will be plenty of blame to go around.

    NHC's 4 AM CDT discussion:

    deep convection redeveloped near the center of Bonnie around 0400 UTC. However...recent satellite imagery shows that the convection is weakening and rapidly being sheared away from the low-level center. The last pass through Bonnie from an Air Force Reserve aircraft that departed the depression around 0600 UTC found
    maximum 925 mb flight-level winds of 37 kt and a minimum pressure of 1013 mb. These data support maintaining Bonnie as a 30-kt tropical depression. Another aircraft is currently en Route and should be in the center very shortly.

    Bonnie has been moving slightly south of the previous track with an initial motion estimate of 295/15. Bonnie remains in a well established steering flow between a mid- to upper-level high over the Carolinas and a large upper-level low over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. This should result in a west-northwestward motion
    during the next day or so and Bonnie is forecast to reach the northern Gulf Coast in about 24 hours. Thereafter...the cyclone is expected to turn more northward and decelerate around the western periphery of the ridge. The track guidance is in good agreement and the official forecast is near the middle of the guidance envelope.

    The southeasterly shear is not expected to abate prior to Bonnie reaching the coast and none of the intensity guidance shows intensification. However...the official forecast will keep the possibility of restrengthening to a tropical storm before Bonnie makes landfall. An alternate scenario that remains possible is for Bonnie to degenerate to an open trough today. That scenario is supported by some of the global models.

    Max winds forecast: 35 kt at 12 and 24 hours (the latter inland).

    Quaking :
    "Even then BP will argue that the oil spilled each day also has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the bottom of the range not the top or midpoint."

    Syncro :
    "BP has IN FACT managed to defeat collection of full flow thereby defeating an accounting based on actual flow. There was only one way to do that. Stop the flow entirely and abandon the more conservative plan to save well integrity for bottom kill and collect the oil.
    Even if it is only one measurement, it will be 1000 times better than what they have now.
    It is my understanding that with one measurement of actual flow, they will be able to predict past flow far, far, far more accurately than with using estimate, especially a wide-ranging estimate of flow.
    You start with solid evidence of what the fine will be if there is no settlement. Without that, you're negotiating in a vacuum."

    Quakung :
    "The argument in court would not be about whether it was 35, 45 or 65mbd on 24th July, but whether it was 20%, 40% or 60& less in June, and 20%, 50% or 95% less in May."

    Syncro :
    "However, they will have the actual riser and will able to make accurate measurements and calculations if they have the flow rate from the open pipe."

    This points are so important for me (Lady-Li), that I really want to understand this.
    Wenn I fill my tank with fuel oil, there is a oil counter.
    Question 1 :
    Is it possible to install a counter in any line (choke line, kill line) ?
    Question 2 :
    If the cap would be open - is there any possibility to count the amount without collecting it ?
    Question 3 :
    How important is the amount of natural gas for the punishment later on ?
    Question 4 :
    What are the options of gov. to prove the amount of oil before the well is killed ?

    Sorry for my english...

    My take on the answers Lady Li (but definitely not an expert).

    1) Yes in principle but too late with the kit 5000ft down and complicates key pipework you need for other things like collection or a top kill. Simplest and safer to measure on the ships once they're all hooked up and producing. But a few weeks away and would involve spilling 10s (100s?) of thousands of barrels during hookup and commissioning. Is it worth it?

    2) No. Other than using what's been tried before - modelling the plume as seen from the ROVs, or letting the slicks clear, opening up the valves (e.g. for 24 hours with no dispersant added) and seeing how much oil floats to surface. Skim the thick slicks and estimate the sheen volume from its area and how many molecules thick you think it is. Then add a fudge factor for what was eaten on the way up or otherwise didn't make it. Messy.

    3) Don't know but it is no doubt stated in the regs. Maybe it's assumed to be non-polluting as it goes into the atmosphere. Anyway there will be good producing GOR and PVT data from the Q4000 and DE collection so just multiply the barrels by the known gas-oil ratio.

    4) as per (1), plus secretary Chu seems pretty confident they can get a handle on it from reservoir pressure and pipe hydraulics. My skepticism earlier wasn't that you can't get a reasonable estimate (say within the factor of two they already have), just that you can't extrapolate it back. Since I expect it to be negotiated anyway, all that's needed is that they start on more or less the same page (say a factor of five or ten), the rest is down to the lawyers and who blinks first.a

    If non-one blinks, a smart lawyer might put it in the hands of a jury. Saying 'watch this video of the plume coming out the top with 10mbd captured, with 15, with 25 and with none: does that look like a 30%, 45% and 75% reduction, or like a 10%, 15% and 25% reduction?' could play well. Treating them like responsible adults rather than bamboozling them with fancy models supported by competing expert witnesses.

    GECO TOPAZ is still on the job; looks like another survey is underway.


    I remember May, when scientists first reported that they had discovered oil beneath the Gulf's surface and blamed it on the Deepwater Horizon spill and how they were denounced by both BP and NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco.
    Also BP CEO Tony Hayward denied that such plumes existed and Lubchenco called the reports "misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate."

    And now we have the evidence that the subsea Gulf oil plumes are from BP well

    Aren't those plumes less than 1 ppm? A teaspoon in a swimming pool.

    I think BP's point was that's not what people think when they think of "plume".

    In case you missed last night’s posting, have a look at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6771#comment-686430 and all of the sub-comments there.

    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.

    The term “plume” has taken on and individual meaning with each individual person reading/hearing the term.

    Last night there was an upthread comment that illustrates this point. See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6771#comment-686504

    Contrast the two understandings of “plume” in these two sets of comments.

    I currently believe if we surveyed the general population we would find that people would define "plumes" to have meanings (and mental images) from “vast lakes of black oil” to “less than 1 ppm or 1ppb” and all meanings in between.

    I believe that this is an example of “two peoples separated by a common language" - George Bernard Shaw.

    Reliable measurements using good peer-reviewed science will eventually converge the true meaning in this case but each person will retain their individual perceptions for some time in the popular culture ... and fuel a lot of debate resulting from the different perceptions.

    On all sides of the plume issue, is this an urban legend in the making?

    A few days ago, an underqualified reporter struggling to write about research going on at TAMU described the plumes as "giant blobs of oil."

    It's been said before here at TOD, but I'll say it again today.

    "Plume" is the word that people in environmental fields use to describe a volume of something, usually emanating from a source. That something can be oil-dispersant mix in the Gulf at a few parts per million, gasoline underground leaking from a tank, the excess nitrogen downslope from your septic tank, or the airborne contaminants from a coal-fired power plant. And many other things.

    Unfortunately, hardly anyone in the news business seems to understand this (or have asked anyone who uses the word, or have checked it out any other way). Rather, they have let their imaginations run wild, no doubt egged on by the doomsters and usually take the worst possible meaning.

    I think BP's point was that's not what people think when they think of "plume".

    Speaking as a person, I disagree. When I think of "plume", I envision a plume of smoke from a chimney, dense at its source but diffuse farther out, eventually becomming invisible to the naked eye.

    Thanks for this link, asgard.

    R/V Walton Smith is mentioned in it early, so I switched over to Samantha Joye's blog. Listed in Resources is her testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment on June 9, 2010. Page 11 (of 13 - I can't imagine that she read all the detailed report to the committee!) is a section called "Gaps in federal research and technology for oil spill response"


    It contains her Wish List for scientific equipment. It's interesting to read what she recommends for the deep water research that NOAA conducts.

    The preceding section of her testimony notes the lack of a baseline with which to compare conditions near the blowout site and throughout the Gulf. A lab near (or in?) Key West was shown on a cable interview last week. Their staff is busy documenting the corals and other sea life as a baseline in case of damage from the oil traveling and impacting their preserve.

    How about a discussion of the JAG report, anyone read it?

    I don't think they claim to have proven that the plumes are from Macando, rather they (quite reasonably) assume the plumes are made up of BP's oil. They calibrated their fluoroscopic equipment using samples of Macando oil collected by BP.

    The most interesting feature to me is the long series of maps at the bottom of the document that show fluoroscopic sampling (location and concentration) on a daily basis through late June. There is a spike in high concentrations (5-7 ppm oil) very near the well from May 30-June 5 (figs. 25-31). Thereafter there are no more high concentrations. The spike suggests that flow may have increased over the first 5 weeks of the spill through the top kill phase. Then the drop after the top hat was installed suggests that the cap was collecting a good part of the oil; in other words, maybe the flow was a lot less than 60,000 bbl/day.

    Those are my interpretations, not the authors'.

    They do not clearly explain how to read oil concentrations into the data. Someone see if I have this right. The fluoroscopy values are for CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) expressed as ppb of QSDH (a quinine compound, proxy). Figure 2 of the JAG study correlates ppb of QSHD (as read by the instrument) with ppm of Macando oil/Corexit mixture (as mixed in the lab). An instrument reading of 2-3 ppb QSDH = 1 ppm oil (blue dots on the maps), and 6 ppb QSDH = 5 ppm oil (red dots on the maps).

    For the second and third weeks of June, almost all the readings are in the 1 ppm range or undetectable. Undetectable doesn't mean no oil, because they say the procedure is unreliable below 1 ppm oil. Also, 1 ppm is likely to be harmful to some sea life. Still, these findings seem to be not-so-bad news.

    The readings on oxygen depletion are also not so bad, but they say these need to be calibrated against lab tests.

    I read it. To answer one of you questions the reason for decreased CDOM fluorescence values relates likely to increased microbial activity. I found the report to be somewhat contradictory and as you know Lubchenco all but shut down the research missions in early June when she created JAG, the authors of the report. Interesting that folks like Joye, Kessler etc are not part of the "team", perhaps too vocal for the bureaucrats. Also it was interesting that there was almost no mention of gas and they did not use the word methane though they did use the term plumes.

    Gobbet, agree with your suggestion. I'd like to see a discussion of the report. Readers shouldn't be put off by the length - there are many graphs and figures. I esp. like the last page in 3D showing the seeps.

    Hot damn and huh? A Whale's steaming SSW into the general vicinity at about 12 knots. Didn't they send that beast packing?

    Looks like it's moving away from Bonnie.

    Too bad it can't levitate to China. That seems to be a spill where A Whale might actually be effective.

    When is the earliest the casing or lining of the relief well can begin again now that they suspended it due to the non-storm?

    I'm hoping it doesn't take them more than a day or two to get back into action.

    Good news:

    Relief rig returning to BP oil leak site - July 25, 2010 - 12:29AM

    A drill rig working on a relief well is returning to the site of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after an oncoming storm system weakened, a BP spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

    "The Development Driller 3 is on its way back," BP spokesman Bryan Ferguson said. "It's the one that's drilling the first relief well and its the most critical one and it is turned around and is headed back right now."

    Does anybody know why DDIII is invisible to AIS?

    Allen just said in his morning briefing that, as of noon today, all vessels are, or will be, heading back to the well site.

    Great information here today. I would appreciate your opinions on this Breaking AP news.


    Certainly plausible but the language is couched. Wait and see.

    Here, Moonbeam, you might enjoy this: http://www.immelman.us/news/oil-spill-fundamentalist-threat/
    and this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EhzJyLBqas&feature=related

    I am not looking for anything but the truth here.

    The Rigel exploration well, the Texaco OCS-G-18207 #1, was drilled in 1999 in Gulf of Mexico block MC 252 in 5200’ water depth. The well targeted a Miocene age, low-relief downthrown closure/stratigraphic trap that was supported by a strong amplitude response on the 3D seismic data. … The well encountered what was interpreted to be a 176’ thick gas-charged, low-permeability siltstone in the Rob E-age target. …

    The appraisal drilling by Dominion, the operator, with its partners, Mariner and Newfield, was highly successful. As a result, the Rigel field is currently being developed as a one-well subsea tieback, as part of a larger subsea system. The project is nearly complete.

    This is what the Admiral was referring to as a possible leak.


    You piqued my curiosity and I reviewed what was online from yesterday. Here's the TOD link re discussion between Lurker and BigNerd and I wish they were on the board now. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6637. There are Allen videos up and the alt sites have already gotten on this, so TOD is a little slow on this one. Shouts to Lurker and BigNerd though-that was more than a month ago. Nice catch, Moonbeam.

    I'm looking for more data on Rigel. Can someone tell me who owns the lease?
    This is what's showing on Rock solid images as a search result. I got the impression from the media releases that it was still Texaco. Lurker says "I'm not sure where exactly they are at or what their extents are, but according to Rigzone they are in Mississippi Canyon Blocks 296 and 299... but other articles point to a MC-252 location..." and there's other data that makes his assessment appear to be correct. "...The Rigel exploration well, the Texaco OCS-G-18207 #1, was drilled in 1999 in Gulf of Mexico block MC 252 in 5200’ water depth. The well targeted a Miocene age, low-relief downthrown closure/stratigraphic trap that was supported by a strong amplitude response on the 3D seismic data..."http://www.spegcs.org/en/cev/?864.

    I don't know if the s/s shows the rigzone location or the MC252. GIS mavens can check long-lat, I have to finish cutting the grass.

    Rigel Well

    The list of things I don't understand is very long, but it has room to include that post from Immelman's website. He promotes a nutcase psuedo-prophecy calling for the destruction of all states in the Gulf region, and he thinks this is a good idea because, because, because...why? He thinks this is a good idea because he wants to be a congresscritter from a Minnesota district? Does he think destruction of the Gulf states is a winning issue among Minnesota voters?

    The list of things I don't understand is very long, but it has room to include that post from Immelman's website. He promotes a nutcase psuedo-prophecy calling for the destruction of all states in the Gulf region, and he thinks this is a good idea because, because, because...why?

    I could be wrong, but I think he actually posted it to mock it rather than promote it. He says above it, "Oil Spill Fundamentalist Threat," which doesn't sound too positive. Below the fundamentalist's essay he's posted a blog entry by Alan Boyle, science editor of MSNBC, ridiculing the notion that God caused the spill to punish us. Immelman is a moderate Republican and a Catholic; it seems unlikely he'd be a nutcase Christian fundamentalist.

    Allen has mentioned in a couple of recent briefings that they believe the more distant seep - the one that is 3km(?) away was - is from an old production well, one of the two that have been under consideration as the destination for oil piped from Macondo, in yet one more of the parallel containment efforts they have been penciling out. (Somebody - either Wells or Allen - said that the length of piping necessary to do that had already been ordered.)

    "...Field development comprises one subsea well on MC 299 with tieback via approximately 21 mi of 8-in. flowline to the Rigel discovery well and subsea PLET in MC 252, with wellstream terminating at the existing Gemini subsea manifold in MC 292. From here, production flows to the Chevron-operated platform for processing in Viosca Knoll block 900. CalDive’s pipelay vessel Intrepid performed the flowline installation..."

    OK, oil experts. We appear to have units: subsea MC 299, Rigel Discovery and subsea Plet Mc 252, and subsea manifold Gemini 292 and all to Viosca Knoll blk 900 all patched together. This would appear to be a mustercluck if indeed they drilled through the Rigel field as Lurker mentioned.

    This is correct? At first I thought it was a plan, but I see they actually received production.

    Here's a repeat in case you didn't bother to check the link: "Dominion E&P received first production from the Rigel and Seventeen Hands fields located in Mississippi Canyon blocks 296 and 299, respectively. Rigel is situated in approximately 5,200 ft of water and Seventeen Hands is in 5,800 ft of water.

    Field development comprises one subsea well on MC 299 with tieback via approximately 21 mi of 8-in. flowline to the Rigel discovery well and subsea PLET in MC 252, with wellstream terminating at the existing Gemini subsea manifold in MC 292. From here, production flows to the Chevron-operated platform for processing in Viosca Knoll block 900. CalDive’s pipelay vessel Intrepid performed the flowline installation.

    The combined design rate for Rigel and Seventeen Hands is 160 MMcf/d of gas. Dominion operates both fields and holds a 53% interest in Rigel and a 38% interest in Seventeen Hands."

    BTW, the Rigel factor would sure explain why MMS felt compelled to issue a warning about gas and shallow water flow in the permit.

    Baby does not look happy.

    I have a dumb question: What is considered the threshold for a low pressure open wave? The current tropical breeze is at 1014 mill bars and I was of the opinion that 1 bar is 1013.25.

    1013.25 is one atmosphere at sea level. They're calling it a tropical depression now. "BECAUSE BONNIE IS NOT EXPECTED TO RE-INTENSIFY...ALL COASTAL TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED."

    So what is considered the threshold for a tropical depression? It must be relative with respect to the surrounding atmospheric pressure. 1014 is more than 1 bar and is considered a depression.

    I don't have the answer. Wikipedia says

    A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined, closed surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of less than 17 metres per second (33 kn) or 39 miles per hour (63 km/h). It has no eye and does not typically have the organization or the spiral shape of more powerful storms. However, it is already a low-pressure system, hence the name "depression"

    Closed circulation is the key. The isobars form a closed loop and the wind meets the threshold value.

    What snakehead said, but I'd like to add my (forgetful expert) remarks.

    If you were to plot out and draw on a map the pressure field in an open wave you would have a shape resembling, well, a wave before it breaks. Whereas a depression plotted out similarly, would resemble a large breaking wave - sort of like the perfect surfing tube. It is after the depression forms that thresholds are applied with regards to pressure and wind speed.

    Can anybody explain me why currents in the oil spill area are like this:

    WAVCIS Forecast

    Also, click on "water level" on the left. Why is the water level higher on that spot? Has it always been like that?

    I'm a noob on this subject, and I was just curious about it.

    @ nevez - (From a previous thread) Don't mind disagreement, but do mind you twisting my words into something I did not say.
    You said: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6768#comment-685950

    I think that it's very dangerous to encourage people to stop being critic about what they see, even if this produces some "cruel fiction". Because, always IMHO, if there is something that history is shouting at us, is the fact that human greed, cruelty and corruption exists, especially when big powers are involved.

    I said: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6768#comment-685886

    ...don't stop questioning...

    Sorry if I misunderstood your statements, my less than perfect knowledge of the english language probably played a role in that, I sincerely apologize.

    I'm happy that we agree on that point!

    A very simple graphic of loop current behavior can be found at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/02mexico/background/currents/...

    The HYCOM model shown via WAVCIS is a textbook case of a gyre left by a shortened loop. Some people prefer "eddy" to gyre to keep oceanographic terms consistent.

    The elevated water in the middle of the circular current is normal and reflects the physics of the rotating Earth. The clockwise current pushes water to the right (Coriolis Force) creating a low mound of water. If the currents were counter clockwise they would create a shallow depression. All of this is in the N hemisphere.

    The eddy with its mound should drift westward.

    Love this forum...lots of food for the brain.

    Thank you very much for sharing the link (and the explanation).

    They had an in-line flow meter between the well and the drilling ship to measure the mud returns.

    Allen and BP did not want to put an in-line flow meter in the flow after they cut the riser off and I suspect it was because they feared if the truth of the flow was known it would destroy BP's stock.

    Look at it honestly, how valuable is a company facing fines that could easily be 250 million dollars a day?

    The government does not want BP to be destroyed because they want that 20 billion.

    It is the government that fines BP. If the government does not want BP destroyed they simply don't fine them. It is as easy as that. The lack of a single measurement makes little real difference to the question of the fine. If the government decides to go after a fine - which is itself not a given, there are a range of questions still open. It is up to the government to decide whether to go after civil or for criminal negligence (with its four times higher maximum fine.) It is up the the court to decide on the actual fine (within the maximum and minimum levels that act allows.)

    It's the government that fines BP. If the government does not want BP destroyed they simply don't fine them

    I agree with that 100% but you are not going to hear about fines for years when this admin is long gone.

    To save the company from the hit I believe they would take in their stock they do not want the true flow rate published. They want enough fuzziness that Hayward can go around to his top stock owners and tell them the government has no real figures on the flow rate.

    To save the stock knowing the true rate of flow the government would have to state publicly they are not planning on going after a large fine. No politician in this admin wants to do that.

    I don't want this to devolve into anti(isert your satanic, stupid, socialist, nazi, capitalist pig, past or present POTUS here) blather but your comments make wonder how much a more republican congress followed by a possible republican president factor into BP's decisions regarding the regal ramifications of this disaster. The longer this process takes, whether that is clean-up, lawyering-up or cover-up, the more favorable the climate might become for BP. Amortize the costs over several years, along with a 'get out of jail free' card from a more oil-friendly political climate (if that is possible).

    Don't forget about the future Supreme Court.

    I keep thinking about the book the Pelican Brief.

    The longer this process takes, whether that is clean-up, lawyering-up or cover-up, the more favorable the climate might become for BP

    So they no doubt hope. This morning BalloonJuice's mistermix noted McClatchy's report that DWH amounts to 86% of the total national oil spillage since 1974. McClatchy blames "a culture of complacency," but I can't argue with mistermix's "Hookers and whiskey at the MMS had a lot to do with it, too."

    If we elect people who let that happen again, ain't no helping us.

    Apropos here, Justin Elliott's report on the latest IRS filings:

    Virtually all of the $4.7 million raised by Karl Rove's new conservative outfit was contributed by just four billionaires, three of whom are based in Dallas, Texas, and two of whom made their fortune in the oil and gas industry. ...

    Those billionaires are CHEAPSKATES. If they want to buy elections, they need to be like George Soros and put down some REAL money! None of this penny ante crap.

    Dallas is mostly politically conservative and Republican. Much of the wealth in the city can be traced to all facets the oil business. Perhaps not as much as Houston, but a pretty large amount (we're also have more than our fair share of real estate developers too). Donations to the Dads’ Club for my daughter’s elementary school in Dallas probably have a similar ratio of money from similarly-defined "oil-billionaires" and donors to conservative causes.

    hmm... lemme guess... hp?

    Yep ... Bradfield Elementry ... Go Broncos!

    I had a great deal of trouble finding this article about the Ixtoc parallels online, even though it was headline news in our Sarasota paper only a month ago. But I finally found it literally buried in the archives, after about 100 attempts. Unfortunately, Syncro is already on vacation, I assume. For those looking for info on Ixtoc, and the aftermath, and the parallels between the two, this article paints a very grim picture. It was published in the Herald Tribune on June 21, and I kept the newspaper because it was the first article that actually had significant information, including quotes from scientists regarding the Ixtoc tragedy.

    Here are some excerpts from the article:

    "With disturbing similarities to the current crisis, Ixtoc I gushed oil for 10 months after it exploded and sank on June 3. Nothing -- not the blowout preventer, a "top hat," the junk shot or the top kill -- could stop the volcano of oil.

    Though similar to the Deepwater Horizon, the Ixtoc I blowout occurred only 160 feet under water. The well head was accessible by divers. By contrast, the Deepwater horizon wellhead sits under a mile of sea water."

    "The hazards are comparable to that of exploration on the Moon and Mars," wrote Robert Bea, a University of California, Berkeley professor, in a report for the Deepwater Horizon Study Group, a team of scientists assembled to analyze the failure. "These are the natural hazards presented by the pressures, forces and movements of the water and the seafloor, and by the extremely low and high temperatures of the deep ocean environment."

    "Bea's comparison of the region is closer to that of Mars than the moon, considering that people have walked on the moon. Without specialized submarines, people cannot reach the ocean's depths without getting crushed by the pressure.

    The intense gravity of water and the immense pressure under which oil is escaping from the Deepwater Horizon riser add another level of complexity to this spill. Rather than floating immediately to the surface, the oil is spreading like an invisible mist for miles deep under water.

    James Englehardt, environmental engineering professor at the University of Miami, estimated that less that 40 percent of the Deepwater Horizon oil is making it to the surface."

    "I would be surprised if it's not much more than 10 percent," said Englehardt, whose expertise lies in tracking sunken oil. "When it's gushing out at that rate on a crude like that, I have every expectation that there are submerged, sunken and floating plumes."

    "Something similar happened with Ixtoc, according to Jernelöv's study. The oil broke down into tiny droplets and formed layers between the warm surface water and the dense, saltier cold water beneath. Oil droplets sank farther as micro-organisms stuck to them.

    Nearly a year after Ixtoc, when Jernelöv's study was conducted, the damage to wildlife was dramatic, especially offshore and among species low on the food chain, such as shrimp, corals and zooplankton.

    The population of crabs and molluscs near shore nose-dived. Mats of green algae covered coral and rocks, either from repeated drenching in oil or from the loss of the creatures that would normally eat the algae.

    Offshore, the oil and dispersant mix wiped out the base of the food chain, particularly the zooplankton that feed on algae. This led to enormous algae blooms that hurt fish and shellfish."

    Read the entire article here:


    There was a graphic shown in the printed version that was very telling- It showed the comparisons between the two wells, and the fact that Ixtoc had pressure at the bottom of the well measured at 5 ATM and that the MAcondo well pressure is calculated at 150 ATM. Here is a graphic I found associated with the article, but not the same one as the one that was published in the paper:

    Here is one graphic

    Engelhardt's bio at the University of Miami:

    James Englehardt, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Miami's College of Engineering. He is Director of the Graduate Program in Civil and Architectural Engineering.

    Dr. Englehardt can describe factors that cause oil to sink and re-suspend, the fate of tar mats that may collect on the bottom following a spill, and emerging methods of finding and tracking sunken oil.

    Dr. Englehardt's research centers on risk analysis and treatment process development for water quality management, and include modeling, risk analysis, and development of decision support tools for oil spill response. His group has just completed development of a computer model for locating and projecting in time sunken oil masses on the bottom of bays following spills for the Emergency Response Division of National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service/Office of Response and Restoration in Seattle, funded by the Coastal Response Research Center, University of New Hampshire. The model provides maps of sunken oil based on limited available field data.

    The model was "Developed for the Emergency Response Division of NOAA (NOAA’s Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration), in Seattle, the project was funded by the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire."

    "Currently, the model is appropriate for use with relatively flat-bottomed bays, not for steeply sloped bottoms or complex boundaries or islets. However, the Eastern US has a wide continental shelf and bays that fit this description, making it potentially extremely useful in the case of the BP oil disaster."

    "According to Dr. Englehardt, as oil continues to spread across southeastern waters, including Florida coastal regions, the College of Engineering has offered to run the model for the State of Florida if they send the necessary data."

    Sustainable Systems Research at Work: Locating and Forecasting Sunken Oil
    College of Engineering
    University of Miami

    I was wondering what Dr. Englehardt means by “sunken oil”. The University of Miami website contains what amounts to a press release based upon an interview. If I read correctly, the author of the article is listed at the bottom to be Kate Spinner. Here is a quote from it attributed to Dr. Englehardt:

    “Sunken oil is difficult to ‘see’ because sensing techniques show only a small space at a point in time,” says Dr. Englehardt. “Moreover, the oil may re-suspend and sink, with changes in salinity, sediment load, and temperature, making fate and transport models difficult to deploy and adjust.” Dr. Englehardt explains, “For these reasons, we have developed a unique approach to the problem, bridging sampling plan techniques with pollutant transport modeling, to create models of sunken oil.”

    In a different passage from the same story, which is not indicated to be a direct quote:

    Oil on the water’s surface accumulates sediment, debris or reacts to changes in salinity or temperature then submerges as toxic masses of sunken oil form on the ocean floor.

    So maybe he’s talking about oil that first rises to the surface, then gets modified, becomes denser and sinks. This is out of my field, so can’t provide expert comment, but it doesn’t sound like Simmons’ lake of oil.

    I looked for anything written by Dr. Englehardt or his two collaborators credited for the color figure (Maria Angelica Echavarria Gregory, Pedro M. Avellaneda) that could provide more details concerning what is meant by “sunken oil”, but could not find any. Dr. Englehardt’s CV doesn’t show anything recent about this. The closest seems to be a 1997 paper (DOI: 10.1016/S1353-2561(98)00007-3), but the abstract wasn’t very informative and I didn’t want to pay to see the whole thing.

    Looking at the three modelling results provided in the color graphics that accompany the article, the regularly repeating pattern that is apparent, especially in the bottom figure labelled “predicted sunken oil mass after 20 days” is rather suspect. If I were reviewing a modeling paper for a scientific journal that showed such a pattern I would ask the authors to provide a convincing argument that it isn’t an artefact. It is hard to interpret the figures without knowing what the numerical units of the color axis are; they are stated to be "relative concentrations of sunken oil", so I'm left wondering whether the simulation is talking about a few parts per million or something much more concentrated.

    I shall E-mail a link to this post to Dr. Englehardt and ask him to clarify.

    [edit for typos]

    There was a graphic shown in the printed version that was very telling- It showed the comparisons between the two wells, and the fact that Ixtoc had pressure at the bottom of the well measured at 5 ATM and that the MAcondo well pressure is calculated at 150 ATM.

    150 atm is the water pressure at the sea floor for the Macondo Canyon wells. 5 atm corresponds to an ocean depth of a bit less than 75 feet. The pressure in each of these wells was much higher.

    If one atmosphere of pressure is 14.7 psig, 5 ATM is lesss than 75 psi. Doesn't seem reasonable for a reservoir at more than 10,000 feet.

    The rig didn't "explode and sink" June 3. It was moved away from the site, and some weeks later it was towed farther away, where it was sunk.

    Count -- The original reservoir pressure was about 11,900 psi or about 810 ATM using your 14.7 psig = 1 ATM. The rig wasn’t towed off location. If memory serves it sank about 3 days after the initial explosion.

    Yes, Rockman, the 11,900 is for the Macondo well, right? I meant the Ixtoc well.

    The lack of reliable published information about Ixtoc really ticks me off. If you remember that it sank, there is no way in the world I would question that, so thanks for the update. You probably even know people who were involved in that incident response. Some source, probably either a Popular Mechanics article published before the relief wells had even intersected the wild well, or the very incomplete Brown and Root history, says something else. There's even disagreement about how long it took to kill the well. I wish someone would publish an authoritative, verified account complete with dates. I concede that my complaint might be unfair - for example, I've never read any Red Adair bio/autobiography. Something might be there.

    It appears that the leak rate is increasing.


    There are now 4 leaks at this site. 3 of them are obvious streams and the one to the far right is slower.

    any thoughts on the rate of progression of this leak?

    I have also seen a very slow leak in the section just under this, at the "seam". Haven't managed to grab a still yet, and my videos keep saving upside down.

    Is this from a current ROV......if so, does anyone have the link? Thank in advance.

    Thanks NAOM~I'm trying to multi-task today and missed it, so not doing a very good job atm :)


    1st post btw - very informative site with quite some experts ;-)

    Plotting the trend on the development of these over time (including determining a rough rate and/or acceleration of volume) should give you a pretty good handle on how likely these are to develop into a serious problem in the reasonably likely length of time before resolution of the whole she-bang.

    My guess is that someone has already made that calculation and found it within acceptable limits, but are periodically comparing projections with actual development to forestall problems.

    In brief, from a totally clueless oil background I don't see them as worth too much more attention right now, unless and until their rate significantly changes.

    That fourth leak seems to be very regular (and heavy relative to the other leaks) in its discharge interval.....

    I would think that the area where its pooling will expand with time.

    Well pressure is up to 6,891 psi now, the HChron says. But did the reporter mishear this?

    Allen estimated Development Driller III, which is drilling the primary relief well, could be back on scene and reconnected to the well within the next 24 to 36 hours. Once on scene, crews will reassemble the riser pipe, re-latch it to the lower marine riser package and reconnect the drill pipe. When that is done another section of steel casing will be installed and cemented into place, a process that Allen said could take up to nine days.

    "Nine" for "five" maybe?

    "Nine" for "five" maybe?

    The reporters asked multiple questions trying to figure out when the RW would be ready to intercept the wild well and/or when the static kill could be attempted. Allen declined to give a precise date today, saying it was dependent upon when the ships arrived back on site and were ready to resume work. He added that they would be able to have better estimates in 24-48 hrs.

    He did give time estimates on the various steps that would have to take place on the RW, beginning with the retrieval of the storm packer on through the running and cementing of the casing. He said that the cement would take five to seven days to dry, but that the static kill could begin before the end of that period, sometime after around 48 hours of drying.

    He said that time spent in preparations for the storm, moving out the way of the storm and the time that will be spent getting to the point they can resume work - lowering risers and latching on etc. - will probably mean about seven to nine days lost. iirc, they began preparation Thursday on RW1 and had already deferred beginning the casing operation due to the approaching storm.

    You can read the various questions and his answers in the transcript at 7/24 Allen & Lubchencho briefing or listen to it here.

    Can someone tell me what the flow is that is currently being shown on: http://realitycheck.no-ip.info/BP-Wall.htm on Olympic Challanger UHD 31?

    one of the not-so-well-known streams with 4 cams at once. UHD 30 just started to stream: http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:40788.asx

    They just cleaned all the "ugly" oil/hydrate mixture off the unit observed by the BOA2 ROV.

    That will help...... That leak sure has sped up over the last couple days.

    Pretty good article here, if anyone is interested, in hurricane storm 'types' and the different effects they could have on the GOM spill.


    If there is no flow in the capped well, gas should collect in the upper end of the column and exclude the oil (bignerd, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, just like on a tar baby).

    But we see oil and gas leaking from the joints on the BOP. Why, when my impeccable reasoning says there should be only gas?

    There might be two flow paths in the well - inside the drill pipe, and outside of it but inside the casing. If so, there might be an oscillating flow between them. First, gas collects more in one column than the other. That column becomes lighter, causing the other column to push it up, around and down into the second column. This goes on for a while, then the other flow path becomes lighter and the process reverses.

    This would maintain a mixture of oil and gas at the BOP.

    That certainly depends on the pressure and the temperature. Actually you have the critical point, where gases or liquids become "super-critical", that means the gas / liquid starts to show properties of both a gas and a liquid. In the case of the given pressures and temperatures in the macondo well, methane is already super-critical.

    That could for example mean, that methane has a larger density than the oil (in that case it would even lead to the reverse separation: methane downwards, oil upwards).

    It can also happen that both the methane in this super-critical state and the oil are completely miscible in each other so that you have to treat the resulting solution as one homogeneous phase. There would be no gas bubble at the top of the well at all. Only after a pressure release you would see a gas (methane) separating from the liquid...

    I think that sufficiently explains the observed behavior with both gas and oil leaking at the same time.

    I don't have the solidification pressure of methane in mind at the moment but at the given pressure it might even happen that methane is present as a grainy solid in the oil body (then contributing by friction to the observed widening of the leaks). But that is not really likely ...

    Also said before here at TOD: the critical point (and phase behavior generally) of methane is irrelevant to the behavior of the petroleum in the well. The phase diagram you need to be looking at is the phase diagram of the mixture.

    Stuff, once mixed, doesn't separate, which you are sort of recognizing here, metrancya, after saying it does...

    Cheryl, that is a surprising statement:

    "Stuff, once mixed, doesn't separate..."

    You must know that mixing and unmixing happen constantly with mixtures of non-reactive gases and liquids, such as atmospheric oxygen and seawater. Are you claiming that Henry's Law does not apply when the gas is methane and the liquid is petroleum?

    The density of methane at 6800 psia and 40F is about 19 lb per cubic foot, if I read this diagram right:


    That is, the supercritical methane in this well at the BOP is much less dense than the petroleum in the column. Therefore, if this methane density is approximately correct, and if Henry's Law applies, and if there is so much methane in the Macondo well that the oil cannot absorb all of it (GOR 2000+ indicates this I believe), then there must be a column of methane above the oil in the capped well - IF there is no flow. My post above is just speculating that there might actually be some flow, resulting in some mixing of the oil and gas at the BOP.

    By the way, referring to a previous thread: HST, near the end of his first term.

    Winward - I have a simple explanation of your observation. When they shut in the well, they were 'surprised' by the low reading 6,700 psi, and gave only 2 possibilities for this low reading, Leakage or Formation depletion.
    There is another very basic reason for this low reading, The way they shut it in, They slowly squeezed it shut over an extended period, During this shutdown process, the flow in the well was reduced to almost zero, what they didn't slow down was the Gas in the wellbore, any gas that had reached Bubble Point happily perculated up the wellbore at the same old speed, So what they were bleeding of at the top was mostly gas towards the end (And BP would be well aware of this - Suspect they have their motives by putting out the 'Leak' or 'Depletion story.)'
    So when well was finally shut down the column of oil left in well had been depleted of gas, Hence it was not representative of the Oil in the reservoir, It was far heavier, hence the low pressure reading.

    I knocked up for myself a simple calculator, where I can enter new data as it becomes available, it gives a pretty good indicator of whats about right or wrong.
    Here are a couple of graphics showing BOP Pressures (Top Right) for first graphic showing 0% gas content, and 2nd Graphic showing 45% gas content.

    So I reckon reason you not seeing gas is because column is gas free, and new Oil with normal Gas mixture cant flow out of formation until this Gas dead column starts moving, (Opened up again.)

    If you want a copy of this little program you can download it here,

    Tony and his timing continue to amuse: BP is about to spud a well deeper than Macondo off the coast of Libya.

    One for the oil guys.This has been puzzling me, why do they call it 'spudding'?



    LOL~Thanks WR, I was wondering the same thing!! Did you ever see the explanation I posted about the holding chart from the Bloomberg for BP?

    Mommy, Yes saw it a while back and made a mental note not to jump to conclusions. Then I was off jumping to another conclusion and got distracted... ;)

    Well (!pun), I found out what a rat hole and a kelly were and a whole load of definitions but what I was interested in was how it acquired the name in the first place. Oh, and I have been wearing out Google and the glossaries.


    The first two links Google gave me had your answers (as did the next hundred or so). But I guess it would be better to hear it from "the experts" online rather than an old stale website.

    This site is excellent on several levels as a primer.

    The next link (infoplease) had this to say:

    To spud comes from the Middle English word, "spudde" meaning a short knife. In oil drilling "spudding" means the very start of drilling on a new well.

    I must confess, I personally didn't know the word "spudde" was from the Olde English. I personally wonder whether the old time drillers did either. Maybe they meant to use "spade" but couldn't spell it right? ;)

    BTW if you think the way BP does things is scary, how about "blessing" the well before you start? Think that keeps the gremlins away?

    Maybe that is a step that should have been taken, nothing like covering the bases.


    So it looks like that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi gambit is paying off quite well.

    Dunno who he is? Maybe this will help:



    Fate makes for bad timing. Well was no doubt permitted, and rig contracted, months ago. Deeper than Macondo is not an issue. Macondo is not super-deep water. 10,000ft is. Another poster mentioned Rigel, spudded in the same lease, 20 years ago. No excuse for the industry being unable to to handle a blowout deeper than what, 500ft?, all that time (including the saints of the new safety regime). Total depth is peanuts - 18,000ft vs. 30,000ft these days. And it's not HPHT. And it's not a condensate - at 24 API and undersaturated, if it was much further from a condensate you'd have to dig it out of the ground. Sorry, multiple rants about past readings.

    Whatever went wrong with this well, it can't be explained away by saying 'it was at the limits of technology'. If it was penny-pinching, a dodgy cement plug, dodgy test interpretation, over-optimism, people missing signs of an influx, reluctance to ask for help with the brass on board, any of the above, or a combination of other human factors, it could happen tomorrow in West Texas on a 5000ft stripper well. It just won't make the national news because no-one will get killed (they'll hear the roar and run like hell), it will be fixed quickly (just like in the John Wayne movie), and the farmer whose cattle are declared unfit for human consumption will get a fat cheque.

    BP stalls payments to oil spill victims -Feinberg
    24 Jul 2010 16:05:41 GMT
    Source: Reuters
    * US Gulf Coast residents express anger at claims process
    * Compensation fund chief says still tweaking rules
    * Feinberg says BP lacks answers to claimants questions


    Saturday's remarks represented the first time that Feinberg, named last month to administer the fund, had accused BP of holding up compensation payments. BP set up the fund in June under pressure from President Barack Obama.

    "After today there will be no more business as usual. I learned today the depth of frustration in people here on the coast," Feinberg told the meeting.


    Fienberg is doing nothing but grandstanding here.

    The calculations of who is entitled to compensation - and what levels of compensation are enormously complex. Of course there will be frustrated people.

    Of course - having the government take over the compensation process may be the best thing that ever happened to BP in the past several months. Not only is BP insulated form the inevitable fiascos, abuses and 'catch-22s' that occur in these situations - but they can go after the government to recover any mony that they feel was nto legitemately disbursed.

    Relief well rig back at BP spill site -Transocean
    24 Jul 2010 19:31:23 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    HOUSTON, July 24 (Reuters) - The rig drilling the relief well intended to permanently seal BP Plc's blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well has returned to the spill site, the company that owns the rig said on Saturday.

    "As of our last report, the (Development Driller III) was back on BP's Macondo location," Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for drilling contractor Transocean , said in an e-mail, referring the the ruptured BP Macondo well.

    Note: none of the ship trackers show any vessel associated with DWH to be in the area except Ocean Intervention 3, which just reappeared.

    Must not have made it very far before they got the turn-around signal, huh? How fast can something like the DDIII boogie if it puts its mind to it?

    Sorry guys long time no see, but what are these news of leaks about? I thought things were going pretty well this past week, far better than anyone here hoped. Are these leaks from the well, or are they silt storms?
    Somebody tell me what's going on because I thought everything was going so well...

    The stack of equipment over the wellhead is leaking oil/gas very slowly at several spots. There don't seem to be any problems on the sea floor.

    I see. But isn't the well supposed to be able to handle 7,500 psi? Why would it be leaking at a measly, 6,900? Sorry for bothering you but I as just curious because it seemed like everyone was being pessimistic again, when everything seems to be doing so well.

    I'm optimistic and I think most people are, that these small leaks won't pose a problem before they are able to kill the pressure in the well and plug it. It's not surprising that there should be small leaks. One of them is where they bolted flanges together metal to metal after having dropped the new BOP pretty hard on the connector spool, perhaps dinging the surfaces. There is no gasket.

    [Edit to add] Since the cap was closed July 15, reporters who don't understand what's going on keep writing something along the lines of "so far the cap is holding." But there was never any significant anxiety about the cap holding. The anxiety was about whether capping would cause a problem with the wellbore downhole, which apparently it has not done.

    Leak is higher up, as noted before.


    NOV AHD-1000 6,900 HP
    NOV 228' x 57' x 57'; Capacity: 2,000,000 lbs

    She's not very sleek.

    Again somebody explain this to me, weren't things going very well recently, what does this, "She's not very sleek" mean?

    I noticed that but there were still 'LIVE' ROV feeds when no vessels were there.

    Were they showing reruns?

    The Buoys in the area on the NDBC didn't show any really nasty weather.

    Why would they need to show reruns? Unless you are saying these reruns are of the previous leakages prior to the well being corked for the past week. But this rise in bad news isn't going to stop the well from being plugged when they finish the relief wells sometime in August.

    Heiro, I don't think there's any particular "rise in bad news." The metal-to-metal seals in the new stack have developed a couple of very slow, very small leaks, but neither Wells nor Allen has expressed surprise or concern about them. They're watching to make sure, that's all.

    With the good break they just caught with Bonnie, everything will be back up to "speed" earlier than expected.

    Not sure what you're asking about snakehead's "sleek" comment, but I took it to mean these vessels ain't built for speed.

    In short: there's next-to-no news. (Which I, for one, don't mind a bit.)

    Well I didn't mean bad news in a serious sense I just misinterpreted your guys post as negative when you should be positive, but as I said things are going better than anyone could haved hoped.

    I'm not entirely sure it is those seals. I caught the view from Boa 2 while they were trying to manoeuvre and get a better view. Two of the streams seemed to be coming from that silver pipe around the top or, more specifically, from joints on the pipe which I suspect is part of the hydraulic system. When the new cap was being fitted I noted a possible leak on the hydraulics and I think this is the area it was coming from.


    My comment was no ships in the area as I was watching a couple ROV's monitor the well.

    So I have to make the inference that some of the 'live' online available information can't always be trusted.

    No others have showed up yet via the trackers. BP must now be using some kind of virtual tin hat cloaking device.

    No reruns...The marine tracker page had vessels going in and out of visibility all day long. Perhaps the cloud cover was interfering? For some reason, I do get them if I go to the individual vessel info' page and then click on "map"

    As Allen mentioned during his noon briefing today, two support vessels were able to remain at the scene through the storm, with a rov from one or the other monitoring the cap, often from a distance. From the videos it appeared that the lucky boats were Olympic Challenger and Boa Deep C.

    Ben Raines' story today is about the few shrimpers at work in Mobile Bay. They're not having great luck yet, but one guy wonders whether the cold winter and rainy spring, as much as the oil, explain that.

    One of the features of blogs (though less on this one than on many others) about which I continue to be very uncomfortable, is the attribution of motivation, and/or agendas, to others, whether BP, the President, Dr. Chu, other posters or anyone else. In my case it's often hard for me to know what my own agenda and motivations are, and since I am usually busy trying to determine them, I'm not ready to try to identify those of others without a lot more information than I believe is available to the general public.

    For example, with my clients, even though I focus more on their motivation than their behaviors (because their behaviors are already history whereas their motivations may still be extant), usually several possibilities present themselves, and I have to test possibilities against what I already know about the client, given the detailed personal history I develop, and then check with the client to determine whether they resonate with the motivation I posit. A common example, is inactivity motivated by laziness, paralysis, depression, fear, or any other of a number of possibilities, including a laid-back approach which is waiting for more data before making a response?

    I'm not aware that anybody (with the possible exception of TFHG?) has the ability to read minds, so I wince, and then generally disregard comments that involve such features.

    That having been said, I am comfortable with people speculating about what different motivations on the part of the major actors might produce as outcomes in the future. I would qualify that, however, by suggesting that if you explore only one or two possible motivations (especially ones on only one side of the positive/negative divide) you are at risk of being perceived as a partisan, and likely lose the attention of those very people you are trying to persuade.

    PS: Do I hear a big sigh of relief at my gracious condescension from those who consider me the ultimate authority on Life, The Universe, & Everything [42!]? Or is that deafening silence, interspersed with cries of derision? My hearing isn't what it used to be.

    I knew you were going to say that :)


    You're much too easy a target.

    PS: I believe that's called blaming the victim, hope none of my clients see it!

    Ah, crap. And all this time I'd thought that I could still find nuggets in the fog.

    My expertise doesn't run in that direction (and some would say any direction, although generally I don't like to take my client's comments too seriously), so I wouldn't give up. After all the odds are in your favor if you try enough times to make them favorable.

    Were you around for the "Who was President when you were born?" thread. I've had a lot of practice.

    In fact, I'm quite certain that although a lot of nuggets get overlooked by engaged debaters, even semi-detached observers can find 'em.

    I was misinterpreting your comment, based upon my read of your motivation for it (I believe that's called hoist on my own petard!).

    Yes, I've seen the kind of nuggets you've pursued, and am confident that with your eye you'll be able to continue to spot them. Furthermore I'm unlikely to tread on your toes very often, since I'm probably looking at things through a different filter.

    As for the birth president discussion, I posted an aside to a comment announcing that I'm an FDR baby, who remembers VE day. Perhaps that explains the senility that I sometimes display.

    hoist on my own petard!

    LOL! Do you have any idea how seriously you just dated yourself? Whenever I use that one, I usually get a puzzled look, and end up having to explain what it means. Yay for archaisms!

    Sometimes I just have to whip off the MegaUltraSuperAnalysis Goggles™ and have some fun.

    To you, the daring venturers and adventurers, and whoever hath embarked with cunning sails upon frightful seas;
    To you, the enigma-intoxicated, the twilight-enjoyers, whose souls are allured by flutes to every treacherous gulf;
    To you, who dislike to grope at a thread with cowardly hand; who hate to calculate where you can divine;
    To you...

    ... ah, forget it.


    Thus spake MO Batterload...

    Verily, I replied.


    David you are fighting a loosing battle. We humans are programmed by evolution to make guesses about what other humans intend to do. We can't help ourselves.

    We can learn to make better more informed guesses however - cognitive therapy is one way.

    One can use cognitive therapy to convince oneself that the snippy way your wife talked to you may be because her feet are hurting and it is hot not because she hates you.


    Famously, in Dodge v. Ford Motor Co.,[52] the Michigan Supreme Court held that “[a] business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end.”[53] The case arose when, instead of issuing dividends, Henry Ford wanted to increase employee wages, reduce the cost of the automobile, and ‘“spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number’”[54] of people—and not just shareholders. The Dodge brothers, shareholders and future competitors, argued that Ford was violating his duty to the shareholders of the company by diverting profits.[55] The court agreed, and embraced the idea that the corporation was an entity all its own, born to maximize the interests of the shareholders who created it.[56] On the eve of the Great Depression, then, the natural entity model was the primary corporate conception in both the courts and corporate boardrooms.

    With this as background, along with a long history of corporate misdeeds, lying (remember "Unsafe at Any Speed" or the tobacco company heads lying to Congress) and multiple incidences of coverup and silencing of employees, I think it would be insane to attribute anything other than stupid criminal cost saving in both the crime and the coverup to BP etal.
    As far as the government goes, well slightly different motivations going on so figuring out just how much they are lying and covering up and on what issues is a bit more problematic, but assuming that they are not doing any of that IMO would also be insane (can I mention Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq, Iran Contra, Watergate).

    We who input bad motives to corporate execs and government officials might not have all the details right. But humans are SUPPOSED to learn from experience. We are programed by evolution to learn from experience.

    No we can't read minds. So we are left with body language and experience to guide us. While you can council one on one with your clients in their everyday life to do a better job of what evolution programs us to do, ie TRY to read minds, I'm afraid you will get nowhere here. We have to figure out what other people are up to. Our brains demand it. And when TPTB are covering up everything they can we are both suspicious and left without much concrete evidence on which to read their minds. :)

    Thanks for the input. I understand that the prime motivation for almost any business (with the possible exception of mine!) is its own survival and profitability. Unfortunately, for them, they too often look at short term profitability, and make decisions that come back and bite them in the end.

    If we are all right in our guesses, and based on some of the evidence so far, this is only one of an almost infinite series of examples of industry making short term decisions with very costly "unanticipated" consequences. In another post I talk about corporate culture and its influence on day to day decisions.

    The problem that I was addressing, however was the attribution of motivation to Dr. Chu, Admiral Allen, and President Obama, among others.

    They are not likely driven by profitability issues, and I have no reason to believe, despite the wild speculation about their motivations, that they have any motive other than to resolve this disaster as soon as possible.

    That appears to be why they stepped in, apparently believing that BP needed help, and perhaps deciding that they didn't trust BP to necessarily do the right thing for anyone other than themselves.

    Glad in some ways its a slow news day, and family is happy the storm died down. After quite a few of us showed our sappy, romantic side yesterday with our appreciation and/or love of NOLA I have a off topic question. How many of us are "brats" .. either oil field, petro-chem, overseas or military?

    I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the US civil war. Since then a member of my family has served on active duty in every war fought by the US.

    I am:
    The grandson of a fighter 'ace'
    The son of a Naval aviator
    The son of a Navy nurse
    The Brother of a soldier
    The Brother of a sailor
    The step-father of a soldier

    And a retired soldier myself.

    Was actually talking more ... grew up in it .. Army and Engineering Brat myself (father spent around 18 of his 24 yrs army as "Post Engineer" but in most cases the Post did not exist until he got there), only spent 2 years of my first 11 years stateside. Went from Army brat into working Eng/Const so "I've been moved". While still in industry met quite a few that also had been raised all over hell and back as petro-chem kids and quite a few that were military brats.

    I thought you are a Marine? I was a ground pounding Army officer. My dad was a CSM. His dad fought with Pershing. My brother just finished 20 in the Army. No prospect on a new generation or service, but the book is not written yet. Were you my tanker? I get you and the Marine mixed up.

    I'm the tanker.


    Major Dan?

    Now, deddy dear, yer not pulling a "Robin Sage" on us, er ya?

    (I kid. Pure-D brat here. And if I had to pick one city of all I've seen to save, it'd be New Orleans.)

    Had to look that one up. Nah, had been on one of my third culture kid pages and trying to set up lunch with one of my Bahrain raised friends (now with Shell herself)that I worked with at McDermott. Just stuck me with so many of us having been in NOLA (great city for TCK's) and a lot of us having worked around the oil industries that there were probably a few of us Third Culture Kids/Brats on this site. E&C gets a bunch of us .. I figure years of adjusting to new places/people/cultures made the 6-18 month project work a natural. I almost never worked with the same group of people twice even when I worked for a company for 5 years.

    I figure years of adjusting to new places/people/cultures made the 6-18 month project work a natural

    Good (and useful) point. Early-expanded comfort zones do the world much good. Wish we had more of them (very helpful to have a POTUS with one, at last).

    Even later in life expanded comfort zones can help. The problem is if you never go to even the edges of comfort zones, heaven forbid outside of them ;). As we teach in yoga, the only way to increase your balance is to take your body out of balance.

    All sides of family military into the mists of time.Conceived in it, grew up in it, married into it, provided fodder for it. Oil and ranching in there too.
    From Brat to Bitch, all Texican and proud of it.

    Dad was a diver, grandpa a welder & uncle engineer...all offshore.

    Louisiana kid for 6 generations.

    Along that same line, who remembers when people not only got dressed up to travel, but you got dressed nice to go pick someone up at the airport? Homecommings were a big deal and Dad was always met with "what did you bring us?".

    Doctor's kids become doctors and so on. Yeah remember dressing up for travel, but now it's comfort .. but think the kids still ask the same question!!! But also remember when long distance calls were only emergencies and holidays.

    Heavy rains in Midwest cause flooding that shuts down Chicago interstate, damages Iowa dam

    I live in south central Illinois and we are getting a ton of rain right now.

    What is the current condition of the Lake Delhi Dam and how many folks are in the path if it goes? Is it just a matter of hours now?

    Great site for the latest news stories.

    Just type anything in the bar.


    Picture worth thousand words.

    A view of the Maquoketa River at Delhi, Iowa, as it washes away Delaware County Road X-31. The dam operations manager called it a "catastrophic release" of water headed for Hopkinton and Monticello further downstream. (Photo by Chris Thornton/Special to the Register)

    Link to complete story - 1300 evacuated

    OT: Question for a TOD moderator

    Many commenters seem to be confused about the difference between



    Start new thread

    It's annoying. The noise-to-signal ratio of this blog doesn't ever bother me but the inability to extricate comments from unrelated comments drives me nuts.

    Could you add a

    Flag as in the wrong #!$%@#@%$ place

    button, or something?


    Fine idea but a bit vindictive. Unconventional thought processes trot through here from time to time.

    However, there could be a number of specialized #!$%@#@%$ flags as well as a general one, now that you've brought it up.

    Unconventional thought processes trot through here from time to time.

    Yes. But their unconventional replies wouldn't be the problem. Flaggers who miss their meaning would be the problem. I'm sure TOD moderators have a way to deal with undeserved flaggings already.

    I don't get the vindictive remark. I'm not suggesting that non-responsive replies should be deleted, just moved to the head of a new thread.

    "Move to new thread" or whatever might be better than the symbols. Some visitors might interpret them as a message from ゴジラ.


    Here is your chance. Explain the use of each function. Reply, Reply in a new window and start new thread.

    Maybe a good exclamation of each could be posted at the top.

    Maybe a good exclamation of each could be posted at the top.

    Reply in a new window!
    Start new thread!

    (runs, hides)


    I can't believe I did that.

    (steps cautiously out from closet)

    You're a good sport. I simply could not resist.

    I have a good spell checker, I just need a right word checker.

    Quantum - do what I do, click on them and see what happens.

    Reply - opens up reply window in the same window you are in. You can then reply to that comment but you will have to go back to the tread with your back button or some other way.

    Reply in a new window - leaves the thread open where you are at and opens a NEW WINDOW in which you can type your reply.

    In both of these cases you then get a SAVE button below your comment and a PREVIEW button. Be brave click on them and see what happens.

    As for start a new thread, Well I have never clicked on it. Can't tell you what it does. Why not click on it and see.

    Yes, please; and the language in the header, that too could be explained, please.

    Maybe the buttons need to be more clearly worded. I suggest:

    Reply in this comment plume | Reply in new comment plume | Start new comment plume


    That shows some spunk!

    The night before last a friend of mine in WI had 9" inches of rain in 2 hours.

    Yike, and I thought my 3" or 4" overnight was bad enough with the same or more in 3 hrs yesterday morning. Trying to put some more down now. Supposed to be seasonal but seems to be more than we usually get. Is it my imagination or are we seeing more and more weather records being broken. Seems like an interesting research project, plot the number of weather records broken, each year, for the last 50 years.


    Tellers at the bank on break discussing the weather and they were out of sight but within earshot of the teller windows. A man walks up to the teller window in time to hear one woman say to her co-worker "wow I think I could take 9" but I don't think I could handle 13". The teller assisting the customer relates to her co-workers the wide eyed expression the man had as he walked out. I arrived to in time to hear the hysterical laughter and got a replay.

    Of course BP (and TO, Haliburton, et al) cut corners, paid little attention to maintenance and common sense safety issues and so on. They were obviously trying to "cut costs", as the conventional wisdom points out but their shortcuts wouldn't have saved them much overall. - So I wonder if the tendency to do as little as possible, or take the fast, easy way through an issue actually becomes instilled in us all at a young age. Consider:

    Friend to a young boy: "Your mom told you to put up your toys and
    you just shoved them under the bed."
    Young boy: "It's ok, I know what I can get away with."

    Same boy; now a young man, changing a tire: "Dang! two of those
    lugnuts fell down the storm drain! I'll just go with three."
    Friend: "It needs five."
    Young Man: "It'll hold, I know what I can get way with."

    Same Young Man, now fully grown and In Charge: "Just do it!"
    Worker: "Don't you want to make sure we have a good cement job?"
    Man: "It'll hold. I know what I can get away with"
    (sound of explosion)

    I can't help feeling that this kind of mindset is a lot more prevalent today than we would like to think, not just among corporations, but individual people as well.

    Unfortunately too true.


    My sense is that we, especially when we are in management (or parental, for that matter) positions, discount the extent to which the culture we develop in which our staff and other employees operate, has a profound impact on every decision that is made.

    I think we often underestimate, as well, how difficult it is to transmit our stated intent down through the ranks without getting it diluted, in some cases, and overblown in others, but almost always distorted in some fashion.

    I would be interested in seeing a study sometime on this, but I would also guess that a culture of less than faithful commitment to procedures and policies trickles down the ladder much more quickly, and more effectively, than formal policies and procedures do.

    I suppose it's a little like speed limits. The only way to effectively get compliance is for every driver to understand the rationale behind, and the importance of compliance with, speed limits. Otherwise you have to resort to enforcement processes, and they are inherently unreliable in generating even a high percentage of compliance. We are, as individuals, far too likely to override those external controls with internal rationales, which focus more on immediate individual needs than upon long range or community needs.

    Until and unless operations develop a culture of commitment to safety that ensures that all employees are not only told what the policies and procedures are, but have an opportunity to learn for themselves how much sense they make and how necessary they are we will continue to have periodic easily preventable disasters.

    If we are to respect our employees, we must show enough respect for them to help them learn for themselves to thoroughly understand and believe in safety procedures enough to internalize them. We know how to do that, but too often discount the importance, let alone the need, to ensure the culture of safety permeates all levels and procedures in our organizations.

    End of my latest sermon for the day.

    So are people "hard wired" to skate, to take the easy road and only do the right thing if we conciously force ourselves to? There's plenty of mornings that I don't feel like getting out of bed to go to work, but I do it anyway. Just seems like we shouldn't have to rely strictly on self disclipine to make sure we do a good job.

    No, all behavior is purposeful, guided by a simple formula. Motivation=PainXHope. No pain? No motivation to do anything. No hope? No motivation to do anything. As we learn to function in the world we learn that certain actions and/or inactions produce pain, and others don't. We also learn that there is sometimes hope that a particular action will produce less pain and other times that an action won't.

    When we learn procedures, we learn that an action often either produces benefit or that it produces pain. The source of that pain and benefit is important in determining whether we do an effective job of performing that procedure or not. It is our belief that controls that decision, so when we internalize the motivation we are more likely to follow the procedure even in the face of significant disincentives because since we believe in the appropriateness of the procedure, we want to. Some call this duty.

    I certainly agree! As for duty, USN '73-77. I feel like thats where I truly came to terms with the equation you mention in your post. I would, however, think motivation is much the same as self disclipine. I still think that subconciously, we'll take the easier way, even if we have to go to extremes to rationalize it. What do you think the rationalization/motivation was to disregard common sense aboard the DWH?

    I don't think we're in disagreement, maybe we're just putting the em-pha'-sis on a different syl-a'-ble.

    I don't think the motivation on the Deep Water Horizon was much different than the motivation that has led me to cobble together a solution to a carpentry mistake. The only difference is that the stakes were a lot higher for them, and, although I also thought I could get away with it, like they did, I'd been there enough times so I knew better. I guess the pain just wasn't sufficient in my case to further deter me. When I look back on that contractor 10 year "incarnation," before I found my natural niche, I did a lot of stupid things that could easily have gotten me killed.

    D.E.B.: "...I suppose it's a little like speed limits. The only way to effectively get compliance is for every driver to understand the rationale behind, and the importance of compliance with, speed limits. Otherwise you have to resort to enforcement processes, and they are inherently unreliable in generating even a high percentage of compliance. We are, as individuals, far too likely to override those external controls with internal rationales, which focus more on immediate individual needs than upon long range or community needs...."

    Interesting. I hope I don't offend by inserting myself into your conversation.

    I'm not sure speed limit is a good analogy. If the posted speed limit is 50 mph on a safe, empty, rural highway in good conditions and I'm doing 150 mph on my motorcycle - what's the harm? The speed limit serves no purpose. If I wreck and die I would argue it was my predetermined time to go believing I would have left in some way at that time and not a moment before.

    I personally don't need the gov't to impose so many limitations on me. I am intelligent. I can think for myself and I take risks I'm comfortable with. I would make the responsible decision to ride slower for riskier conditions such as snow, ice, traffic, etc. perhaps even for the benefit of others.

    IMHO a lot of rules seem to be made for the inexperienced, the unwise, the ignorant, the foolish, the shortsighted, etc. to try to protect as many others as possible. For the greater good some rules must be in place, however, as you say, people will override the external controls.

    I am glad there are laws to help protect me from the dangers of others who can harm me, however, the law doesn't help me until after I'm harmed in a lot of cases. I'll speed, mountain climb, ski, etc. as long as I want and up to this point hasn't been particularly painful enough to quit or slow down. If you want to appeal to a moral obligation or standard to follow all laws or rules, what is it?

    Since law enforcement without ongoing effective oversight (MMS?) is generally ineffective and after the fact, what's the solution? Thanks

    I think the speed limit is a good analogy. It's essentially an ethical issue. When you receive and sign your driver's license you are entering into a social contract promising to obey all the relevant laws. Rather you like them or not. If you want to change the law then do so through the political process... Meanwhile, please set a good example and obey the posted limits.

    RE: Motivation=PainXHope -What could possibly have been the motivation behind the bad decisions leading to the blowout? To save (dare I say it) money? To impress the bosses? Not entirely. It was a series of bad calls made collectively by more than one person. These are smart people; they didn't get to their positions by being stupid. - They sincerely (I believe) thought they could "Get Away With It". Is this just another way of pushing the envelope, as it were, and they got bit?

    Sorry David - Didn't see your 10:10 post...

    It's ethical because it's nearly unenforceable? I hear you though.

    I guess my question is, whose ethics? Whose standard must I live my life by and why? What happened to natural selection, the strong survive, and perhaps even flourish?

    If the fine for speeding 20 mph over the limit is say $150, the law in one sense says you can speed but if you get caught it will cost you $150. If that cost is trivial and the rewards of the thrill are high, aren't I just living life as the law allows?

    The reason I am playing devils advocate is becasue it seems corporations make decisions just like this daily. For example BP may think if the cost is $20 Billion for the risks they've been taking for decades while earning a trillion dollars then maybe it's worth the risk of a fairly insignificant spill in the gulf... once a decade if need be.

    It seems you're asking me to be a better citizen than BP, et al, no?

    Regardless, I take my risks where, though I may harm myself, I am not likely to harm others. As far as being a good example; well, I'll leave that to the individual watching me to decide how they will choose to live their own life.

    Let's see, some people's dreary, low risk 9-5 existence with nagging and no excitement - or - hair on fire, big dog wins, no guts no glory, take no prisoners, ya live once, life to the fullest, etc with the hope of surviving intact long enough to tell the doc it was fun while it lasted.

    Maybe I'd make a better test pilot than test subject. :)

    has anyone followed this story --- "They finally found the oil plumes ... "

    Article states:
    "What we have learned completely changes the idea of what an oil spill is," said chemical oceanographer David Hollander , one of three USF researchers credited with the matching samples of oil taken from the water with samples from the BP well. "It has gone from a two-dimensional disaster to a three-dimensional catastrophe."

    The full tech manuscript from Univ of South Fl (USF) is here ...

    There's another tech report from NOAA --- but it only covers an area roughly 20Km around the MS252 site -- and doesnt really address the toxicology.

    The USF report on the "plumes of oil" is most interesting -- although the concept of a plume is the media interpretation.
    What is a plume? --- maybe a continuous emanation from a source that spreads outward in a sort of direction??
    So can you measure a plume with one data point?

    The facts are that USF stated in their report ...
    (1) took 130 samples at three spatial locations -- two roughly 40 and 45 mi NE of the MC252 and a third 140mi to the SE. again --- does this define a "plume".
    (2) They address the TPH (oil constituents) as well as the PAH (top 16 toxic components)
    (3) They mysteriously culled the massive 130-sample statistical data set down to 25 samples (w/o a mention as to why or how!!) maybe they were using a hand calculator.
    (4) Only at one site and only for the surface reading did they match the molecular fingerpring of the oil with the MC252 fingerpring.
    (5) Found that the PAH levels at allsites were on the order of your drinking water ...
    (6) "Further, comparisons of the individual PAH16 concentrations to eco‐toxicological benchmarks pulled together from the literature (e.g., NOAA SQuiRTs Tables), illustrate that the PAH concentrations measured in these 25 water samples are well below these eco‐toxicological benchmarks."

    brings to mind ...
    Lies, damned lies, and statistics


    A three dimension catastrophy that doesn't sound good and just when you thought things were starting to look good, but I still have faith that this will be over soon, at least plugging the well and with so many people dedicated to the job the clean up should go along smoothly too, it may take awhile but I belive one day it will get done.

    Perhaps you're right. Then again, maybe it's even worse than that. It seems to me there are the doom & gloomers on one extreme and the oil industry CYA guys on the other extreme.

    I think we can all agree we don't truly know what is below the surface. There also is no answer to the dangers of the Corexit 9500/oil mix or the questions would disappear.

    I also think we can agree an enormous amount of oil/dispersant/gas was released into the gulf environment through foolishness, and arrogance. If the doom & gloomers cause enough scare and panic perhaps the oil industry would feel enough pain to do a better job self-managing risk.

    Frankly I would have hoped our gov't and the oil industry would be more transparent and honest regarding this whole disaster. I think we can agree if more truthful information were made available there would be fewer opposing theories and opinions ... which is about all most anyone has at this point, true?

    The reason why I try to avoid the doom and gloom crowd is because of the gloom,and frankly it seems like no matter what we do were doom, we may not know what the effects of corexit are but we can't just assume that things will spiral into a doomsday event and may I ask why can't things just go right for once?
    You say BP should have been more honest, but I'm begining to feel ill after having to read articles every day from some scientist talking about a new problem rising because of the spill, the well will be plugged and come ten years I believe the Gulf will return to what you would call normal. After all that icky goop makes it way out of the system.

    Gloom sucks. It is important to have the ahem, right sized glass.

    I want to know the truth, regardless, so I can intelligently plan. For example, some scientists say the dangers of Corexit 9500 and oil mixed are not fully known and are probably "way worse" than thought. Some apparently think it safe enough to perhaps bathe in. If I were a parent and knew this I might not let my kids play in it the stuff since they are dependent on me to protect them as best I can... at least until there were some definitive studies that actually showed Corexit 9500 and oil are a safe combination.

    Things go well in general to those who are accurately informed and prepared in advance for contingencies.

    What's kind of funny with the doom and gloomers is they needlessly exagerrate. Let's see:

    1. North Korea is threatening to nuke South Korea
    2. China owns a ton of US debt and doesn't want the US dollar as the worldwide monetary standard
    3. Timothy Geithner and TPTB in Washington want a one world currency
    4. The US debt is nearly unmanageable boding ill for the future
    5. Israel, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and others seem headed to war

    I could go on and on but the point is, oh heck, read Revelations.

    The doom and gloomers have overstated the danger of the gulf oil spill while the oil industry understates the danger. Heck, no one here truly knows what will happen to the gulf and the BP well in the future.

    In the meantime I think it prudent to consider the possibility things are worse than we are being led to believe and being prepared in advance if you need to act while enjoying every day as if it is your last. It may or may not be. There are no guarantees in life so enjoy it while you have it.

    To me the most interesting thing about this oil spill is that I am currently taking a class in Crisis Management as part of a Master's degree program. It is absolutely fascinating to read the textbooks and then contrast them with what is happening in the Gulf.

    Yesterday I saw a comment in one of the textbooks that points out a serious mistake BP made early on in the disaster: "A common mistake often made by unprepared companies under seige is to assume the CEO automatically should be to spokesperson. The responsibility of the crisis management team, and of the company as a whole, is to put forth the spokesperson who will best present, explain, and/or defend the company's position."

    I wonder just how much of a difference it would have made if BP had realized that being a CEO does not mean that you are the best person to use as a spokseman?

    BTW - has anybody gotten the impression that the incident command team of BP/Allen/Chu may be dysfunctional in theat none of them trust the others and Allen's and Chu's agenda is aimed more at avoiding responsibility for making a 'bad' decision than stopping the leak?

    To me the most interesting thing about this oil spill is that I am currently taking a class in Crisis Management as part of a Master's degree program. It is absolutely fascinating to read the textbooks and then contrast them with what is happening in the Gulf.

    What did you decide about the topic of your research paper, if I may ask? Last we heard, you were considering bagging the "prenome" idea and looking for another topic.

    I don't know what the requirements are, but boy, I should think a study of how the Three Big Dudes are interacting as reflected in press briefings and the media could be stunning--very meaty, dead easy to research (if you took the right approach, you wouldn't need to know what's actually going on behind the scenes), but requiring lots of thought and analysis for a trenchant critique. From your comment, it sounds like you're already doing a lot of thinking about exactly this.

    BP is in the main responsible for this disaster. My question is why is why MMS gave the go ahead for this project when there was so many red flags and why no one seems to be asking MMS any hard questions?

    I am the mystery Plumber you are looking for!

    From the inventor Afif abou-Raphael

    Since I posted my comment about me who provided the idea to the US Coast Guard for the Top Kill as they call it. I didn't look on for responses.

    Surprisingly, I saw that you are looking for the identity of the mystery plumber how provided the idea to BP.

    Here I am, and I have the entire proof.

    My phone number is: 613 853 2615

    E-mail address is: afifabouraphael@yahoo.ca
    Gatineau - Quebec Canada
    J8X 1C7